Archetype Tier List: A Guide to Picking Archetypes


Advice

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Idealist (Cleric)'s description really should mention "Selective channel is explicitly legal for use with Invoke Realm. This makes dead/wild magic and "no gravity" really shine by turning them into no-save shutdown spells that don't hurt the party." and have
No gravity and/or dead/wild magic plane: +2 Power, +1 versatility.

As for Shaman, most hybrid classes struggle in popularity (see Open Gaming Network's character survey) suffer from the question of "why?" you'd use them over the base classes. While Warpriest (via Fervor among other things), Brawler (mundane fist user), Bloodrager (a magically incline martial that isn't a full on gish) and Investigator (mundanish smart guy) have their niches (themetically and mechanically), Shaman doesn't really do much Witch and Oracle couldn't. Plus it's the only class in PF that's MAD with two mental attributes.


The main difficulty with shaman is they're tricky. You can shoot yourself in the foot by picking lore as your main spirit losing tons of versatility, but there's several other spirits that don't offer enough to be competitive at any level. Taking dark tapestry to add advanced template to all your summons is great, or you could take Mammoth and be glad you can at least wandering spirit lore.

Essentially, if you have don't know enough of the game to take advantage of some intense flexibility, then you're better off with something else. You can also snipe some of the best aspects of the shaman through other classes. A spirit whisperer wizard can make better use of the alien summons hex, and an involutionist spiritualist can make better use of life hexes, and so on.


Doc link

Shamans start off slowly, sure. The one I saw played to ~L13 chose the wind spirit for flavour and was seriously annoyed to discover how bad his first spirit magic spell (alter winds) was. But by L7 he had a handful of cleric spells as well as the basic shaman ones, could pick up arcane enlightenment for mirror image and dimension door, and choosing an appropriate wandering spirit could broaden his spell list further - and even lore (for early-access legend lore) was sometimes useful there.

And the base shaman spell list is not as narrowly focused as a witches which gives more flexibility just there. Sure you don't have as many debuffs but you have enough, with more utility, more defensive spells, and a few damaging spells - more than a witch does anyway.

shamans P-S:
Possessed Shaman
Power -1, Versatility +1
Instead of spirit magic (i.e. your bonus spell slot each level and the different spells you can prepare in those) you get a couple of maxed skills which will use Wis as their stat regardless of their usual stat. When you get a wandering hex you can add a third which you can select each day, in place of that class feature. Skills aren't good enough for this to be a good trade but it has some potential for doing weird things.

Primal Warden
Power -2, Versatility swordfish
Primal refers to primal magic (i.e. wild magic) here. Random spells cast using your spirit magic spell slots is just too random to be useful, ever. Likewise the primal blessing hexes.

Serendipity Shaman
Power +1, Versatility +1
You gain a bunch of luck-related options, some of them quite good, for which you pay...nothing. Well, unless you pay a hex you get Luck domain spells in place of your spirit magic spells (pay that hex and you can choose Luck domain or or usual spirit magic spells). It's a solid upgrade.


deuxhero wrote:

{. . .}

As for Shaman, most hybrid classes struggle in popularity (see Open Gaming Network's character survey) suffer from the question of "why?" you'd use them over the base classes. While Warpriest (via Fervor among other things), Brawler (mundane fist user), Bloodrager (a magically incline martial that isn't a full on gish) and Investigator (mundanish smart guy) have their niches (themetically and mechanically), Shaman doesn't really do much Witch and Oracle couldn't. Plus it's the only class in PF that's MAD with two mental attributes.

Arcanist has its uses, and needs 2 good ability scores for optimal use. For that matter, if you want to do anything with Channel Energy, Cleric is also MAD in 2 mental attributes. And Psychic isn't even a hybrid class, and is MAD in 2 mental attributes, although one of them depends upon what Discipline you pick.

avr wrote:
{. . .} Versatility swordfish {. . .}

?


UnArcaneElection wrote:
avr wrote:
{. . .} Versatility swordfish {. . .}

?

Precisely.


deuxhero wrote:

Idealist (Cleric)'s description really should mention "Selective channel is explicitly legal for use with Invoke Realm. This makes dead/wild magic and "no gravity" really shine by turning them into no-save shutdown spells that don't hurt the party." and have

No gravity and/or dead/wild magic plane: +2 Power, +1 versatility.

It really shouldn't.

None of the allowed options for your Planar Bond has the Dead Magic/No Gravity traits, so there's no reason to even bring those traits up as viable alternatives. Unless you beg your GM to create a whole new demiplane for your own personal deity, there's just no way to get Dead Magic or No Gravity.


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Shamans, last 3:
Spirit Warden
Power 0, Versatility -1
This archetype replaces the spirit magic spells; the replacements are decent for anti-undead use. A hex for channeling to harm undead is OK, the hex giving a bonus on saves vs. death effects and energy drains is not the best considering that death ward is one of those replacement spells. It's workable overall if you expect to fight a lot of undead.

True Silvered Throne
Power 0, Versatility 0
Your spirit animal gets effectively split into a book you prepare spells from, and a clockwork spy which doesn't get most familiar abilities but which is cheap to replace. Not bad. Your wandering spirit abilities only work for an hour a day at 6th, 2 hours/day at 8th, 3 at 14th, and you can switch which wandering spirit you have for each hour. Similarly instead of wandering hex you have ritual hex. It'd be good when you have time to prepare and know what you're up against, bad when you're attacked.

Visionary
Power 0, Versatility -1
A whole lot of divinatory abilities replacing wandering hex and delaying wandering spirit 8 levels. If your GM's willing to let augury, divination and scrying reveal secrets this is workable, but a lot will try to minimise their effect.


Devil Binder (Unchained Summoner)
Power -2/-1, Versatility -1

Slashing the Eidolon's BAB in half and removing the increased number of attacks pretty much makes sure it won't find much use as a martial creature. Instead it gains specific SLAs at every level a 9th level caster would gain a new spell level, ending with Meteor Swarm. Unfortunately they're all once per day before level 19, but you do gain access to Planar Binding (Devils) five levels earlier than a normal Unchained Summoner.
Although you also get the bloodline powers of the Sorcerer's Infernal bloodline, losing both your Eidolon and Summon Monster is simply not a fair trade.


I wasn’t initially a fan of Name keeper shaman, giving up familiar is a big hit and the spells and scrolls abilities are pretty underwhelming. But Versatile Hex is kind of a huge upgrade over wandering hex. It’s not restricted to spirit hexes, which means it can do the unsworn shaman hex stuff...basically you get Craft Wondrous and Brew Potion as bonus feats, along with being able to switch out your Witch Feat on a daily basis. And if you are lore, you still have the option of switching Arcane Enlightenment daily (although if you are using versatile hex both for witch hex and enlightenment, you wouldn’t be able to use both the same day until 14).


Switching your witch hex (if you choose not to have one permanently) isn't that big a deal, whether you use it for brew potion or not, but you're right that craft wondrous item for free is a solid extra feat. Switching arcane enlightenment daily is actually better done by the standard shaman, lore is not one of the best spirits to have as your primary one.


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There we go. We finally have a review for every single Paizo archetype (as far as I know), and it only took around four years and a couple thread necromancers to get it done!
While there's still some dated reviews, formatting issues, and archetypes without links, the biggest hurdle has been cleared.

I'd like to thank everyone who has been part of this huge project (which I actually neither started or revived), no matter how small the contribution. Every single post in this thread has kept it alive, and helped us reach the end goal of all archetypes.

Speaking of small contributions, there are some who have made very large contributions. These people have provided multiple reviews for multiple classes, spending hours and hours to make sure every single archetype has a rating. But I'm also referring to those who may not have written many reviews themselves, but discussed new ratings and encouraged many of us to keep going. Know that without you, this document would have taken several additional months or even years to finish.

Thank you all!


Huzzah!!!


Variant Channeling (which is a set of archetypes not only for Cleric, but any other class that manages to get hold of Channel Energy) comes to mind as something still needing to be done . . . .


Are those archetypes, though? Paladin Oaths got a pass because they're archetypes in everything but name, so I guess there's room for argumentation.

But then there's the Variant Arcane Schools, Variant Banners, Variant Deeds, Variant Bloodlines, etc. And if we're rating Variants, we're just a small step from reviewing the actual class features. Which is beyond the original scope of the document by a far margin.


Cataloging all of the class abilities individually would be a pretty monstrous undertaking. I'm not sure how useful it would be in a comparative format without treating it like a complex feat tree.

For something like Weapon Training (fighter 5, swashbuckler 5, cavalier disciple of the pike 5, Myrmidarch Magus 6, Monk Sohei 6, Molthuni Arsenal Chaplain Warpriest 5) could be nice to list various ways to acquire the ability, but tracking variant channeling itself rather than channeling in general, would probably be a better way to go.


It's enough as is. There's room for other guides and styles of showing how to get and use various class abilities, and I think starting another guide is the way to do those.


I still resent the exceedingly misguided evaluation of the cloaked wolf Inquisitor archetype. It's one of the best out there.


I didn't write the review but I'm looking at the cloaked wolf now. Lure prey looks worse than stern gaze, always wary looks worse than either cunning initiative or monster lore (and it replaces both!), and the bonus feat list doesn't look great to me. Even as prereqs they'd mostly be coming later than you'd like. Is there some combo I'm missing?


Wonderstell wrote:

Are those archetypes, though? Paladin Oaths got a pass because they're archetypes in everything but name, so I guess there's room for argumentation.

But then there's the Variant Arcane Schools, Variant Banners, Variant Deeds, Variant Bloodlines, etc. And if we're rating Variants, we're just a small step from reviewing the actual class features. Which is beyond the original scope of the document by a far margin.

Well, about some of that -- not sure about Variant Banners and Deeds off the top of my head (will have to look these up), but:

Variant Arcane Schools, including Thassilonian (Sin Magic) Specialist, are archetypes in all but name -- these modify Arcane School, and James Jacobs had a post a few years ago to the effect that since Thassilonian Specialist modified Arcane School, it wasn't eligible for combination with the variant Arcane Schools/Subschools.

Variant/Wildblooded Bloodlines were explicitly made archetypes, even though I think most of them shouldn't have been -- not only did it prevent any combination of these with archetypes that modify Bloodline or any of its subcomponents, but it also made the organization of Bloodlines awful (although to be fair, the SRD web sites could have done a better job of linking between Wildblooded Bloodlines and their parent Bloodlines in both directions).

Edit #1: Variant Deeds [at the bottom of this page: "This replaces the specific listed deed or deeds; if the character would not gain the appropriate deeds, she cannot select the renowned deed, as if selecting an archetype." One of these deeds is Gunslinger-specific and the other is Swashbuckler-specific. Each of them replaces *2* 1st level deeds, but you get a small amount of flexibility with respect to one of the ones replaced, in case an archetype replaced the other one.

Edit #2: Variant Banners, although they have text about archetype compatibility, seem more like items that modify class features rather than mini-archetypes, so the text about archetype compatibility really just means that these items can't modify a class feature that you traded out.

Edit #3: Since the variant deeds sub-section was REALLY short, I was going to add in my reviews, but I found that Archives of Nethys actually doesn't seem to have a complete set, so I'm going to move them to another message instead of trying to fit them in here, so that the edit timer doesn't expire on this one.


avr wrote:
I didn't write the review but I'm looking at the cloaked wolf now. Lure prey looks worse than stern gaze, always wary looks worse than either cunning initiative or monster lore (and it replaces both!), and the bonus feat list doesn't look great to me. Even as prereqs they'd mostly be coming later than you'd like. Is there some combo I'm missing?

Bonus feats open up a lot of feat lines.

Combined with Sanctified Slayer, you can have a faster path to Circling Mongoose + Canny Tumble.

You can use speed from domains + spells and Spring Heeled Style for skirmishing.

And so on and so forth.

Plus, you don't have to worry about Ally placement to benefit from your bonus feats.


Secret Wizard wrote:
I still resent the exceedingly misguided evaluation of the cloaked wolf Inquisitor archetype. It's one of the best out there.

I think it's a very useful archetype...in a specific set of circumstances.

That's why I asked for clarification on what we were truly rating. I'd remove the -1 to power (I think it's still a downgrade but not a full notch below in general) but it's still weaker arguably in broader circumstances.


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As promised, here are the Gunslinger and Swashbuckler Deeds of Renown (text linked and quoted due to being mostly missing from Archives of Nethys), which really are micro-archetypes (and turned out to be not so short as I originally thought):

Gunslinger Deeds of Renown wrote:

Swashbucklers and gunslingers perform impressive deeds through their grit and panache, but some are capable of truly spectacular acts known as renowned deeds. A swashbuckler or gunslinger (though not members of other classes) can select a renowned deed for her class upon reaching the class level listed in the deed’s description. This replaces the specific listed deed or deeds; if the character would not gain the appropriate deeds, she cannot select the renowned deed, as if selecting an archetype.

Thundering Shot (Ex): The gunslinger’s shots explode with deafening reports. At 1st level, as a standard action the gunslinger can spend 1 point of grit and make a single ranged attack with a firearm. All creatures in a 15-foot cone, starting at the corner of the gunslinger’s square closest to the target and extending directly toward the target, must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC = 10 + half the gunslinger’s class level + the gunslinger’s Wisdom modifier) or be deafened for 1 minute. This deed replaces the gunslinger’s dodge deed and one other 1st-level deed. Source PPC:CoL

Rating: +1 Power, +0 Versatility if you are often up against spellcasters and Bards/Skalds and/or creatures that exert mind control by sound (maybe even +2 Power if you are up against a LOT of them); +0 Power, -1 Versatility if you aren't.

Replacing 2 Deeds with 1 hurts, but since the one you are getting is an area of affect Deed, it is potentially a fair trade. What you get is the potential to Deafen creatures in a cone, and it lasts for 1 minute thereafter, causing them to have trouble communicating with each other and having the risk of failing to cast spells (if applicable), AND potentially being unable to benefit from Bardic Performance or Raging Song. In a really rough spot you might even be able to use it to break your comrades out of the thrall of sound-dependent control such as Harpy Song. The Deeds you must replace is Gunslinger's Dodge, which isn't a great Deed, since it only gives you a bonus against 1 ranged attack per round. The Deeds you can choose between to replace are Deadeye and Quick Clear. Deadeye is great except that it needs a LOT of Grit to get the best use of it, so if you haven't built for a lot of Grit, it is a decent candidate to trade out, lessening your damage output, but making you a bit of a controller. Quick Clear is important for keeping you dealing damage, but lessens in importance when you manage to get a Reliable firearm, UNLESS the base firearm has a misfire chance of more than 1, in which case Reliable will be helpful but you will still need Quick Clear to keep from getting misfired out of your damage dealing; again, it is a potentially a good to great candidate to trade out, lessening your damage output at the lower levels, but not at higher levels, in return for making you a bit of a controller. Note that Deafening Shot scales with your level and Wisdom, and it IS eligible for Signature Deed.

Gunslinger Deeds of Renown wrote:
Gruesome Parry (Ex): Some gunslingers wield guns and blades in concert, readying a shot to unbalance attackers and then eviscerating their assailants. At 7th level, the gunslinger can spend 1 grit point when she readies an action to make a ranged attack with a firearm against a creature that declares a melee attack against her. If she does, the readied ranged attack does not provoke attacks of opportunity. If this readied attack hits, she gains a +4 dodge bonus to AC against the triggering attack, and she can make a single melee attack with a slashing or piercing weapon against the creature that attacked her; if this melee attack hits, it is considered to be a critical threat. This deed replaces the dead shot deed and one other 7th-level deed. Source PPC:CoL

Rating: Power +1, Versatility -1.

Again, replacing 2 Deeds with 1 hurts, but in return you get an AoO-free shot AND good potential for a Critical melee hit against a nearby opponent (even if you barely hit), which is pretty good, although you do have to set up a Readied Action to use it, which hurts. The Deed that you must trade out is Dead Shot, which is sort of the Vital Strike feat chain baked into a single Deed; depending upon how much you like the Vital Strike feat chain and depending upon how many other things (Dex-to-Damage, dual-wielding, Criticals, Haste, Enhancement Bonuses, etc.) you often have that Dead Shot DOESN'T synergize with, this part of the trade could really hurt or be not too painful. The Deeds you can choose between to replace are Startling Shot (inflict no-Save Flat-Footed condition, for which getting the best use requires you to have a Sneak Attacking ally in the right position, and won't work on opponents with Uncanny Dodge) and Targeting (on a successful hit, inflict a no-Save condition or get an increased Critical range). Not only do these candidates for trading not synergize with each other, but they are actually antagonistic to each other so if you are going to use one of them a lot, you probably won't want to use the other, which then becomes more of a candidate for trading out. Note that Gruesome Parry IS eligible for Signature Deed.

Gunslinger Deeds of Renown wrote:
Lethal Patience (Ex): While wild flurries of bullets are certainly effective at felling foes, veteran gunslingers appreciate the value of lining up the perfect shot. At 15th level, the gunslinger can spend 1 grit point to line up a shot against a target as a full-round action. On her next turn, she can make an attack against the target as a standard action, and if the attack hits, the attack is treated as a critical threat. This deed replaces the slinger’s luck deed and one other 15th-level deed. Source PPC:CoL

Rating: Power -2, Versatility -2.

Once again, replacing 2 Deeds with 1 hurts, but in return you get to threaten a Critical; how good this is depends upon whether you built to make the best of Criticals, and note that it doesn't synergize with Dead Shot, which thus becomes more of a candidate for trading out at 7th level (see above) if you want to make this 15th level trade. The Deed that you must trade out is Slinger's Luck, which really hurts, since Rerolls could save your life -- or in the case of mind control, the life of your party. The Deeds you can choose between to replace are Evasive (which is Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, and Improved Uncanny Dodge in a single Deed that doesn't consume Grit); and Menacing Shot (which is effectively an Extraordinary Ability short-range Fear spell in a single Attack action, and IS eligible for Signature Deed), although you have to be careful where you are relative to your party when you use this. Both of these really hurt to trade out as well.

Swashbuckler Deeds of Renown wrote:

Swashbucklers and gunslingers perform impressive deeds through their grit and panache, but some are capable of truly spectacular acts known as renowned deeds. A swashbuckler or gunslinger (though not members of other classes) can select a renowned deed for her class upon reaching the class level listed in the deed’s description. This replaces the specific listed deed or deeds; if the character would not gain the appropriate deeds, she cannot select the renowned deed, as if selecting an archetype.

Vengeful Heart (Ex): Some swashbucklers are driven by vengeance above all else. At 1st level, the swashbuckler gains the samurai’s resolve class feature, treating her swashbuckler level as her samurai level. Whenever the swashbuckler spends a use of resolve, she must also spend a point of panache or a use of charmed life, or the use of resolve has no effect. This deed replaces the derring-do deed and one other 1st-level deed. Source PPC:CoL

Rating: Power +1, Versatility +1 if you are up against a lot of things that inflict bad conditions; or Power -1, Versatility -1 if you aren't.

Replacing 2 Deeds with 1 hurts, but you get the Samurai's Resolve class feature, using Panache or Charmed Life charges in addition to the Samurai's Resolve pool that you implicitly get (the wording is kind of strange and seems unnecessarily confusing, but maybe this is to prevent you from making it totally broken by using Signature Deed -- but in that case, why didn't they just make it ineligible for Signature Deed?). Since this means rerolls on your worst Saves in addition to those that you would get from Charmed Life, and the ability to suppress some debilitating conditions, it is an excellent defensive option against things other than hit point damage; since it also gives you a way to automatically stabilize, it is also of some use against hit point damage. The Deed you must trade out is Derring-Do, which lets you do Swashbucklery skill stuff with effectively an exploding die Inspiration. The Deeds you can choose between to replace are Dodging Panache and Opportune Parry and Riposte, both of which are excellent defensive options against hit point damage and physical attacks that have nasty riders such as Grab (in the case of Opportune Parry and Riposte, also retributive).

Swashbuckler Deeds of Renown wrote:
Hilt Hammer (Ex): Precise strikes with a slender blade do little to hinder amorphous or incorporeal creatures; when encountering such threats, some swashbucklers abandon precision in favor of brutish strikes. At 3rd level, the swashbuckler can activate this deed before rolling the attack roll when making an attack that would benefit from precise strike. An attack altered this way deals only half the normal damage from precise strike, but this damage is not treated as precision damage. This deed alters (but does not replace) the precise strike deed and replaces one other 3rd-level deed. Source PPC:CoL

Rating: Power +1, Versatility -1 if you are up against a lot of things that are immune to Precision damage, or Power -1, Versatility -1 if you aren't.

Whoa, you actually AREN'T replacing 2 Deeds with 1, but instead modifying 1 and replacing 1. The Deed you modify is Precise Strike -- when making your attack with Precise Strike, you can trade out half of the Precise Strike damage in return for it not being Precision damage, which is VERY good when you are up against things that are immune to Precision damage. The Deeds you can choose between to replace are Kip-Up (get up quickly without provoking an AoO if you are tripped) and Menacing Swordplay (Swift Action Intimidate).

Swashbuckler Deeds of Renown wrote:
Dodging Dance (Ex): The swashbuckler moves around her opponents’ attacks to open them up for strikes. At 7th level, a swashbuckler can spend 1 panache point to move up to half her speed as a move action. If a creature makes an attack of opportunity against her due to this movement, she can attempt an Acrobatics check with a DC equal to the attacking creature’s CMD. If she succeeds, the attack of opportunity misses, and the swashbuckler can make an attack of opportunity against the attacking creature instead. She can attempt to evade multiple attacks of opportunity during this movement, but the DC of the Acrobatics check increases by 2 for each additional opponent that makes an attack of opportunity against her during this movement. If the swashbuckler has an ability that grants her additional attacks of opportunity, she can use them to respond to multiple missed attacks of opportunity with her own attacks. This deed replaces the swashbuckler’s grace deed and one other 7th-level deed. Source PPC:CoL

Rating: Power +1, Versatility +0 if you traded out Opportune Parry and Riposte (see above), or Power +0, Versatility -1 if you didn't.

We are back to replacing 2 Deeds with 1, which hurts, but you get sort of a weird cross between Swashbuckler's Grace and Opportune Parry and Riposte. The Deed you must trade out is Swashbuckler's Grace, which is nice for mobility, but you partially get it back. The Deeds you can choose between to replace are Superior Feint (which seems intended to be equivalent to Gunslinger's Startling shot, but due to wording differences, bypasses Uncanny Dodge) and Targeted Strike (roughly but not exactly equivalent to Gunslinger's Targeting).

Swashbuckler Deeds of Renown wrote:
Vengeful Soul (Ex): Sometimes vengeance can take years or even decades, forcing the aggrieved swashbuckler to push the limits of her endurance. At 11th level, the swashbuckler gains the samurai’s greater resolve class feature. At 19th level, the swashbuckler gains the samurai’s true resolve class feature. The swashbuckler must have the vengeful heart renowned deed to select this deed. This deed replaces the subtle blade and cheat death deeds, plus an additional 11thlevel deed. Source PPC:CoL

Rating: Power -1, Versatility -1 (largely independent of campaign features that influence the rating for Vengeful Heart).

To select Vengeful Soul you must have selected the Vengeful Heart Deed (see above), and Vengeful Soul replaces 3 Deeds with 1, which really means that you are replacing 5 Deeds with 3; in return, you get Samurai's Greater Resolve and eventually (19th level) Samurai's True Resolve, and these aren't as good as Resolve given that they (especially True Resolve) appear MUCH later. The 2 Deeds you must trade out are Subtle Blade (like Fighter's Weapon Mastery, but comes online at 11th level instead of 20th level) and Cheat Death (19th level, and does what it says on the tin), although the True Resolve part of it approximately substitutes for the latter, being weaker than Cheat Death against hit point damage, but in exchange being also able to protect you against effects that would kill you without doing hit point damage. The Deeds you can choose between to replace are Bleeding Wound (MORE than what it says on the tin -- you can spend extra Panache to deal Ability Bleed damage) and Evasive (which is Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, and Improved Uncanny Dodge in a single Deed that doesn't consume Panache).


@Secret Wizard: Getting to feats dependent on spring attack faster is the draw? I didn't think of that. It does seem a narrow use case, but probably enough to be worth power 0 IMO.

@UAE: Thundering shot inflicts deafened which isn't a great condition. Suppose the enemy has a 30% chance of making the save. The chance of failing to cast a spell when deafened is 20%, so the chance of your thundering shot stopping the spell going off is 14%. About 1 chance in 7, and you have to get within 15' of the spellcaster just to get the chance. Catching multiple spellcasters in the area is a rare and precious thing. If you want to self-deafen to beat enemies using sound effects, use a thunderstone; the area of thundering shot can't affect yourself. Deafening enemies doesn't stop them using sound-based attacks. I'd call this worthless.


^Thundering shot doesn't affect yourself, and it doesn't stop enemies from making sound-based attacks, but it DOES affect your comrades if they are in the area of effect, and it DOES keep them from receiving the sound-based attacks if they fail the Save against Thundering Shot. You just have to make the Save against the sound-based attacks yourself. And applied against enemies, if they fail the Save against Thundering Shot, they lose the benefits of Bardic Performance or Raging Song.


Secret Wizard wrote:
Bonus feats open up a lot of feat lines.

Normal bonus feats do, I agree. But the Cloaked Wolf's list is really limited and goes in too many directions to be generally useful.

Unleashed Fury feat list:
Additionally, at 6th level and every 3 inquisitor levels thereafter, she gains a bonus feat from the following list: Alertness, Catch Off-Guard, Deceitful, Deft Hands, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike, Improvised Weapon Mastery, Lookout, Mobility, Spring Attack, Stunning Fist, and Throw Anything. She must meet the prerequisites of the selected bonus feat.

***

If you were actually going for a Spring Attack build and can retrain (or start at lv 12+), then you've saved three feats you were gonna use. But how many of these feats are gonna be in the feat path of a ranged build? TWF? Reach?

Maybe you'll need one or two of these feats if you build around the feat list, but otherwise it's just full of choices you wouldn't have taken with your normal feats.

====

Secret Wizard wrote:
I still resent the exceedingly misguided evaluation of the cloaked wolf Inquisitor archetype. It's one of the best out there.

It's passable for a very small percentage of builds, which apparently is those using Spring Attack. Good to mention in the review, but it's a far cry from being one of the best. I'm especially curious of your opinion on Lure Prey and Always Wary compared to what they're replacing.


Might as well do the Prestige Archetypes while I'm at it, since only 2 ever came out (scroll down to Prestige Archetypes):

Deadeye Devotee (Arcane Archer Archetype)
Power +1, Versatility -1
This does for divine casting classes what the normal Arcane Archer does for arcane casting classes. The one ability that gets replaced, Seeker Arrow, is replaced by something that isn't as good for an attack at range (since in addition to the chance of a missed shot, the target can Save for Half damage), but gives you the option to heal at range. Note that Inflict-series spells do not have the [Evil] descriptor, so they are still on the table in case you have a friend who has Negative Energy Affinity, although you would have to prepare them instead of casting them spontaneously (assuming you started as Cleric or something else that has that type of spontaneous casting). Unfortunately, Rules As Written, Breath of Life does not qualify for use with this ability, despite functioning partly as the next Cure-series spell after Cure Critical Wounds. Note that the use of this replacement feature is limited by your spell capacity (which can be boosted by Pearls of Power or Runestones of Power, as applicable), instead of having a scaling set number of uses per day, so if you want to dip just 4 levels in this class to get that power and then go right back to your primary spellcasting class, go right ahead. Getting your party used to the idea of you shooting them to heal them may be a steep hill to climb, but once you've gotten them over it, this ability will be quite useful. You have to be a devotee of Erastil, which cuts down your options a lot. Still, you could enter as a Separatist Cleric if you need to get something that isn't normally offered, such as getting the Protection Domain to do the Imbue Arrow Antimagic Field cheese. Note that you have fewer good primary class options for entry into Deadeye Devotee than for normal Arcane Archer, just because all the divine 9/9 casting classes other than Cleric have juicy class features (other than spellcasting) that really hurt to miss out on, whereas normal Arcane Archer has Wizard and Sorcerer (depending upon Bloodline) both being pretty good options, that often don't get hurt too much by giving up class feature progression.

(Note that probably won't fit in the guide: Deadeye Devotee gives a reasonably attractive and not brokenly overpowered alternative to this cheesy Hinterlinder-based build, except with the 9th level character feat replaced by Clustered Shots.)

Thought Thief (Arcane Trickster Archetype)
Power +0, Versatility -2 if you are in an Intrigue campaigh, or Power -1, Versatility -2 if you aren't
This does for Occult casting classes what the normal Arcane Trickster does for Arcane casting classes, but note that since the requirement to be able to cast Mage Hand is unchanged, only Psychic qualifies as the Occult casting entry class, unless you somehow got Mage Hand as a Spell-Like Ability or bonus spell, or blow a Rogue Talent to get it via Minor Magic; furthermore, even if you pull that off, Psychic is still the only good Occult casting entry class, because all the other options are 6/9 or 4/9 casters, which have the same problem with Thought Thief as with almost all other prestige classes that advance spellcasting. And Psychic actually isn't really good for this, because it has juicy class features (other than spellcasting) that hurt to lose. This prestige archetype has two replacement abilities. The first replacement ability, Mental Assault, is more powerful than the Impromptu Sneak Attack it replaces, IF you manage to pull it off -- it lets you take control of the target as if using Dominate Person (unfortunately not Dominate Monster), thus letting you use them against their own and/or their party's interests. The problem is that unlike Impromptu Sneak Attack, which explicitly bypasses the need to set up a Sneak Attack, Mental Assault requires the conditions for performing a normal Sneak Attack, and doesn't work on mindless creatures; you can still use it only once (eventually twic) per day. (Presumably other creatures immune to Dominate Person would at least still take the Sneak Attack damage.) The second replacement ability, Unseen Compulsion, is less versatile (only lets you hide with the mind-affecting and compulsion spell descriptors), but is not limited in uses per day (other than your spell capacity).


The psychic bloodline sorceror and blood arcanist both are psychic caster that would qualify for thought thief as well. As for the other psychic casts if you wanted to get mage and it's a single trait to add it to your spell list (two-world magic). I think the overall assessment of the class is correct though.


^Oh yeah, I forgot about the Psychic Bloodline. Probably because I keep thinking it should be an archetype rather than a Bloodline, but Rules As Written it would work. Although losing Undercasting Prodigy would really hurt (unless you wait until you have 9 levels of Sorcerer before you enter Thought Thief -- in this case you would really want to use the VMC Rogue + Accomplished Sneak Attacker method of entry).


On Deadeye Devotee: Deadeye's Blessing (wisdom to attack with longbows) makes this a lot more attractive, as it's a SAD gish. Zen Archer Monk and that one wildblood Sorcerer can do it too, but it requires more levels in martial base class and less in casting.


On thought thief; both the abilities have Cha based saves which wouldn't be great for the blood arcanist. Also...dominate person is a spell which a single-classed psychic or sorc can just cast at character level 10. With the fastest possible entry (SA class 1/psychic 4 with accomplished sneak attacker) you're just getting it early, or with the simplest possible entry (rogue 3/psychic 4) you get it at the same character level. It does not match up to the ability it replaces.


Arcanist have reason to keep a moderately good charisma to boost a lot of their exploits, but if you chose to dump it the charm bases abilities if thought thief would be underwhelming. Blood arcanists also don't get their bloodline spells, which means undercoating prodegy is useless to them so going into a prestige class is actually a good choice. Unfortunately the selection of available prestige classes is more limited that if you were either an arcane or divine caster.


^Good catch on Blood Arcanists not getting their Bloodline Spells. On the other hand, it means that you're hurting even more for Arcanist Exploits if you prestige out, although if you stay in Arcanist through 5 levels of it (delaying your entry slightly), at least you do get the 5th level Arcanist Exploit so that you can get Extra Arcanist Exploit.


It's not about not dumping Cha, it's just that an arcanist's Cha bonus is likely to be 2-5 points lower than their Int bonus even if they put some into Cha. The way pricing goes for headbands getting an enhancement bonus to more than one stat is unreasonable until quite late, and of course the 1/4 level bonus only goes into one stat.

Sure, you could make an arcanist with 14 Int and 18 Cha and keep raising the latter. It's not a terribly practical idea though.


^Agreed that is true, but less so if you use the automatic bonus progression. Like I said before, I agree with the overall rating of the class, I'm simply pointing out that there are a few other options and why they might consider thought thief as a path.

Another thing that is a big consideration is how your gm runs spell manifestations or not. If you're gm rules that you can't be caught casting a spell without obvious components then psychic spells really shine in an intrigue type campaign from being both still and silent. I know it's not the RAW as per the FAQ, but it is a common ruling by GMs in that situation thought theif becomes a lot more attractive option.


I'm going to give a shot at Variant Channeling. While primarily a set of micro-archetypes for Clerics, it has the explicit text allowing other classes that channel energy to get it as long as they serve a deity. Strangely, it also has the following text:

Variant Channeling wrote:

{. . .}

A variant channeling either modifies positive channeled energy when used to heal or modifies negative energy when used to harm. {. . .}

This does not admit the interesting possibility of modifying negative channeled energy when used to heal (usually for Undead) or modifying positive energy when used to harm (usually against living creatures). Therefore, these combinations have to be assumed to be unmodified. However, it further has the following text, which at least hints at the possibility of modifying these excluded combinations:

Variant Channeling wrote:

{. . .}

Unless otherwise stated, bonuses granted by a variant channeling are sacred bonuses if you channel positive energy or profane bonuses if you channel negative energy. {. . .}

If you channel negative energy, you wouldn't want to be applying a Profane Bonus to the living.

Anyway, on to the Variant Channeling options and their ratings (A - L).:
Note that in most cases, the healing or harming is halved (although the Channel DC remains the same, and rider effects such as those of the Command/Turn Undead feats are unaffected), so the effect you get in exchange had better be something good that is usable often. Also note that loss of healing/damage dice does not affect the Channel Bonus or Channel Penalty of Variant Channeling (they still scale with your Cleric or effective Cleric level), so most of these options become more attractive for characters who do not have a full set of healing/damage dice, such as Evangelist Clerics, although a stickler GM might not allow this since both Variant Channeling and Evangelist Cleric alter Channel Energy. (The exceptions are those options that do extra healing or damage to certain types of creatures -- these do get hurt by loss of healing/damage dice.) Add +1 to the Versatility rating of any of these if you have the Channeling Variance feat (which either gives you the Variant Channeling if you had normal Channeling or gives you normal Channeling if you had Variant Channeling); also, the existence of this feat keeps any of these options from getting a base Versatility rating worse than -1 or better than +1.

Air/Sky/Wind
Power -1, Versatility -1
The healing effect you have on living creatures is rather situational unless your campaign has you flying a lot or at least up against a lot of enemies with air-based attacks. The harming effect of being able to slow flying Incorporeal Undead would be awesome if you were allowed to do it, but you are only allowed to use this variant to harm living creatures, according to the second quote above (only works with negative energy to harm).

Ale/Wine
Power +1, Versatility +0
Having your party able to ignore the Sickened condition for a round is not too shabby. Having your party able to ignore the Nauseated condition for a round could save it. Being able to Nauseate living enemies for a round is also useful as long as you have somewhere to back off to within 1 round before they recover.

Art/Music
Power +1, Versatility +0 (Power +2, Versatility +1 for Evangelist Clerics and characters that get both Positive and Negative Energy Channeling)
Having your party gain a channel bonus on Perform checks and on saving throws against illusions, sonic effects, and language-dependent effects for 1 minute is pretty good. Harm does the opposite. Either way, the effect lasts a whole minute (compared to most Variant Channeling effects that last only 1 round), which makes for a decent buff or debuff. Note that either effect stacks with Bardic Performance, so an Evangelist Cleric could make very good use of these (if allowed). Someone who manages to get both Positive and Negative Energy Channeling (Versatile Channeler feat) can also make very good use of it, especially an Envoy of Balance with Selective Channeling, Versatile Channeler, Spiritual Equilibrium, and Twinned Channeling.

Battle/Wrath
Power -1, Versatility -1
The buff or debuff to the affected creatures would be decent, if only it lasted more than 1 round.

Beauty/Love/Lust
Power +1, Versatility +0 (Power +2, Versatility +1 for Evangelist Clerics and characters that get both Positive and Negative Energy Channeling)
Having your party gain a channel bonus on charm effects and abilities based on fascination or physical attractiveness (such as a nymph's blinding beauty and stunning glance abilities for 1 minute is pretty good. Harm does the opposite. Either way, the effect lasts a whole minute (compared to most Variant Channeling effects that last only 1 round), which makes for a decent buff or debuff. Note that either effect stacks with Bardic Performance, so an Evangelist Cleric could make very good use of these (if allowed). Someone who manages to get both Positive and Negative Energy Channeling (Versatile Channeler feat) can also make very good use of it, especially an Envoy of Balance with Selective Channeling, Versatile Channeler, Spiritual Equilibrium, and Twinned Channeling.

Bravery/Valor
Power -2, Versatility +0 (Only applies to channeling positive energy/healing)
Giving a reroll (with your Channel Bonus) on Saves against fear is great, except that due to the wording, to make it work decently for creatures not immune to fear, you have to go before the rest of your party (has a chance to run away in terror), but after whoever caused the fear effect, which is awfully hard to set up. This gets better if your party has members immune to fear, since the armor bonus lasts a whole round, but that is unlikely to be most of your party. Note that this option does nothing for negative energy channeling/harming.

Cities
Healing Power +0, Versatility +0
Harming Power +1, Versatility +0
Both (Versatile Channeling feat) Power +2, Versatility +1
If you heal with this, you could help your Rogue/Ninja/Slayer/Vivisectionist gank an enemy, or help your party to grapple an enemy, and you give your party some protection against flanking. If you harm with this, you seriously hamper your enemies' ability to reposition themselves to keep you from getting the advantage. If you can do both, you're in Golden City.

Contracts/Oaths
Power -2, Versatility -1
This is like a very inferior version of Beauty/Love/Lust Variant Channeling (but for Compulsion instead of Charm effects) -- it only lasts 1 round. Leave this to the Bard or Skald or the casting of Communal Protection from Evil or Magic Circle Against Evil.

Darkness
Healing Power -2, Versatility -1
Harming Power -1 to -2 (gets worse with level), Versatility -1
For the healing option, you give your party low light vision and eventually darkvision for an eyeblink. For the harming option, you make everybody have trouble seeing, and it lasts for a whole minute, but includes your own party, eventually even those members who have darkvision, and it would take some serious investment for them to get past that problem.

Death
Healing Power -1, Versatility -1
Harming Power -2, Versatility -1
For the healing option, you give your party a Channel Bonus against death effects (also a bonus on stabilization checks) for a whole minute, but I'd rather have full healing capability unless up against a lot of death effects. For the harming option, you give enemies a Channel Penalty to stabilization checks and impair their healing somewhat, but you'd essentially always do better to buff your party to whack your enemies to death faster.

Destruction
Power -2, Versatility -1
For the healing option, you give your party a bonus to destroy objects -- just cast an attack buffing spell on them instead. For the harming option, you can now channel negative energy to harm unattended objects at full damage -- why not just smash them instead? Pass.

Disease
Healing Power +2, Versatility +1
Harming Power -1 to +1 (gets better with level), Versatility +0
The healing option lets you do for all practical purposes an area-of-effect Lesser Restoration. The harming option gives a decent debuff to enemies, and the duration scales slowly with your level.

Dreams
Power +1, Versatility +1
Depending upon when you use it, the healing option gives your party a reroll with Channel Bonus against sleep effects or gives an 8 hour buff to Saves and Perception checks while asleep. The harming option puts a pretty decent debuff on your enemies for a whole minute.

Duty
Power +1, Versatility -1 (Power +2, Versatility +0 for Evangelist Clerics and characters that get both Positive and Negative Energy Channeling)
Rather specialized, but if you are in a party of police or bounty hunters or anyone else who wants to push enemies around and disarm them (and/or keep them from doing it to you) rather than kill them outright, this is really good, especially if you have Versatile Channeling.

Earth
Healing Power -1, Versatility -1
Healing Power +1, Versatility +1
The healing option gives you DR/{your Channel Bonus} for an eyeblink. The harming option seriously impairs your enemies' ability to reposition themselves for a whole minute.

Envy
Healing Power +1, Versatility +1
Harming Power +0, Versatility +0
Both (Versatile Channeling feat) Power +2, Versatility +1
Rather specialized, but if you are in a party of police or bounty hunters or anyone else who wants to disarm enemies or take their spell component pouches (for a whole minute), and/or to cause them to waste their next round trying to steal stuff from each other (unfortunately doesn't work if they are not adjacent to each other), this is really good, especially if you have Versatile Channeling.

Farming
Healing Power +1 to -1 (gets effectively worse with level), Versatility -1
Harming Power +1, Versatility +0
The healing option is not bad at low levels if you have a party of Rage-cycling Barbarians, Bloodragers, and/or Skalds and/or if you really need to push yourselves to the limit, or if you have Plant friends. Unfortunately, it doesn't do anything more at high levels (at which better options become available) than at low levels unless you have Plant friends (who get enhanced healing). The harming version makes enemies Fatigued for a whole minute, a decent debuff (and the Save DC does scale with your level), and does enhanced damage to Plant creatures.

Fate
Healing Power -2, Versatility +0
Harming Power +1, Versatility +0
Instead of taking the healing option, just cast a buff on your party, or leave this to the Bard or Skald (or be an Evangelist Cleric), and it will give a much longer benefit for your Standard Action. The harming option would have a similar complaint, but at least it lasts on your enemies for a whole minute, not just for 1 d20 roll.

Fire
Healing Power -2, Versatility -1
Harming Power +1, Versatility +0
Damage healed or harmed is halved for almost everyone, but enhanced for [Fire] creatures or [Cold] creatures, respectively, but at least the harming effect can also cause affected creatures (even if not [Cold]) to catch on fire, which puts a decent amount of hurt on them.

Flying Creatures
Power +0, Versatility -1
The healing effect you have is rather situational unless your campaign has you flying a lot or at least up against a lot of enemies with air-based attacks, but unlike Air/Sky/Wind, it also bumps their speed up a bit, which makes a noticeable difference creatures with low flying speeds (for creatures that are already fast, not so much). Likewise for the harming effect, except that their speed is decreased if they fail their Save.

Forge
Healing Power +1, Versatility +1
Harming Power -1, Versatility -1
The healing option can enhance the armor of your allies in metal armor for an eyeblink, or repair damage to metal Constructs and objects -- the last use is probably going to come up pretty often in most campaigns, so this is handy to have. Yes, you could cast Mending or Make Whole or Greater Make Whole instead, but you can't use those in battle, whereas Channel Positive Energy in battle is viable, and could save your party if you are up against Sundering Demons, Rust Monsters, or something like that. The harming option just lets you do enhanced damage to metal Constructs and metal unattended objects.

Freedom
Power +0, Versatility -1
The healing option lets you give your party an improved chance to escape grapples, etc., while the harming option lets you Slow enemies, but either way, it only lasts 1 round.

Hunting
Healing Power -1, Versatility -1
Harming Power +1, Versatility +0
The healing option is rather situational and lasts only 1 round. The harming option is odd in that the flat -5 to enemies' Stealth checks doesn't scale, and so starts out pretty good but effectively gets worse with level; but then on the other hand, at higher levels, enemies pick up more abilities to pass without leaving tracks, and the harming option of Hunting negates them, so it evens out overall to be not too shabby.

Journeys
Healing Power +1, Versatility -1
Harming Power +0, Versatility -1
For the healing option, it says "Creatures gain a channel bonus to AC against attacks of opportunity until the end of your next turn", not their next turn, so they really only get 1 round of benefit from this unless they have some kind of Immediate Action move ability that happens to get triggered before then, and meanwhile they get only half of the normal amount of healing, so if you wnat to make this really good for getting them out of a bad spot, better have Channeling Variance and Quick Channel so that you can follow up the Journeys healing option wiht a normal Channel Positive Energy. For the harming option, you halve only the movement speed of enemies that fail their Save, and only for 1 round -- their action economy is otherwise unimpaired, although giving yourself the option to kite them is still decent.

Creatures gain a channel bonus to AC against attacks of opportunity until the end of your next turn.
Healing Power -2 to +1 depending upon party composition, Versatility -1
Harming Power -1, Versatility -1
For the healing option, giving your Lawful comrades (but only your Lawful comrades) a Channel Bonus on Perception and Sense Motive checks, attack rolls, and saving throws until the end of your next turn is not too shabby, although brief. For the harming option, the usefulness of this is sorely blunted by the difficulty with shooting first and asking questions later.

Knowledge
Healing Power -1, Versatility -1
Harming Power +1, Versatility -1
The healing option just gives your party a bonus on Knowledge and Perception checks for an eyeblink -- better to spend your Channel Energy on full healing and use a buff spell for a longer-lasting buff. The harming option does area-of-effect Intelligence Damage to enemies who fail their Save, which is nasty if they are of Intelligence-based classes, but situational.

Luck
Healing Power -2, Versatility -1
Harming Power -1, Versatility -1
Healing gives a Channel Bonus to your party for just 1 d20 roll in the next round (and although the set of allowed rolls is fairly broad, it is not unlimited); harm gives a Channel Penalty to your enemies for all d20 rolls for 1 round. Either way, better to just cast a buff or debuff spell -- it is a better use of your Standard action, and it will last longer; save your Channeling ability for full healing or harming.


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Comments on variant channels:
If you can find a deity with booze in their portfolio who supports negative channelers, Ale's pretty good - not just for getting away, stealing enemy actions is good in many situations. Not as good as negative Rulership admittedly.

The Beauty etc. heal bonus is very very specific. Too specific to be useful. The harm penalty is solid if you plan to get relevant spells.

Envy harm is unclear, but it might make your enemies target their enemies (i.e. your side) with steal, which is helpful in most situations. It'd be an action cost and an AoO on them.

Fate harm applies to all skill checks so there's probably something you can set up, but I can't think what. Power +1 can't be right until you can name that something.

Hunting has too short a duration for tracking or survival checks to matter. Even -5 stealth is iffy unless the enemy has hide in plain sight, which is rare compared to invisibility - which it probably isn't enough of a penalty to beat.

You've misnamed Justice/Law there UAE.

AoE Int damage sounds good but there's not enough of it. 1d2 is a mean -0.75 to an Int-based enemies save DCs if they fail their saves. This isn't worth bothering with.

Luck healing gives a channel bonus or a luck bonus; there are enough of those with Fortune's Favored for that to matter. The luck penalty is a great setup if you have quick channel.


In general I think that skill check bonus/penalties in combat aren't worth thinking about, and remembering that quick channel exists is important to rating these. Also a lot of the enhanced healing effects are probably intended for a NPC cleric with a group of monsters who all fit the category which get enhanced healing.


Note: In this post and the previous one, where I have "your party" or "your enemies", that is assuming that you can use Selective Channeling and/or careful positioning to make sure that you don't heal or harm the wrong creatures.

The rest of the Variant Channeling options and their ratings (M - Z):

Madness
Healing Power -2, Versatility -1
Harming Power -1, Versatility -1
Give a bonus to your party's Saves against Confusion, etc. for an eyeblink, or Confuse your enemies for an eyeblink. Spells are better for this purpose -- they last longer. Save your Channels for full healing or harming.

Magic
Power -1 to +1 depending upon party or enemy party composition, Versatility -1
Buff your party's spellcasting or debuff your enemies' spellcasting (either way, including spell-like abilities), but only for 1 round.

Monsters
Healing Power -1, Versatility -1
Harming Power -1, Versatility +0
This one is a real Frankenstein -- the healing option does enhanced healing for certain types of monsters, while the harming option gives a Channel Penalty to your enemies when they try to attack summoned or called creatures, which sounds promising if you are a summoning-specialized Cleric, but either way, the effect lasts only an eyeblink.

Monuments
Healing Power +1, Versatility +0
Harming Power +0, Versatility -1
Not sure why the harming option of this is banned in PFS while the healing option is legal, because the healing option is the better one of these, giving a Channel Bonus to your party for a whole minute against a moderately broad range of effects that would slow your party members or deal ability score damage to them (the exceptions being no-Save effects); the harming option just staggers enemies for 1 round if they fail their Save -- the option to kite them is decent, but due to the short duration, it's not outstanding.

Moonlight
Power -1, Versatility -1
For an eyeblink, you give your party low-light vision and a buff on attacks, or give your enemies a debuff on low-light vision, but either way, only in dim light or less. Better to use buff and debuff spells instead, and save your Channeling for full healing and harming.

Murder
Healing Power -2, Versatility -1
Harming Power +0, Versatility +0
The healing option gives your party a chance to deal Bleed damage if they get a Critical -- big If unless they built for it, and this chance only lasts 1 round. The harming option gives your enemies Bleed equal to your Channel Penalty, and it doesn't stop after 1 round, although keep in mind that some enemies will be able to counter this quickly enough that it will do less damage than the full harming would have done compared to the half-strength version.

Nature
Healing Power -1, Versatility -1
Harming Power -2, Versatility -1
This mainly does enhanced healing or harming to Animals and Fey, although you might be able to get some mileage from the Channel Bonus to Handle Animal and Wild Empathy that the healing option provides for 1 minute -- probably better to use spells to buff that, though. If you have a LOT of Animal Companions and/or summoned Animals or fight a lot of Fey, add +1 to the Power of each option.

Nightmares
Healing Power +2, Versatility +0
Harming Power +0, Versatility -1
The healing option buffs your party against Charms and Compulsions, for a whole minute. The harming option debuffs your enemies against Fear and Phantasms, and impairs their Concentration checks if applicable, but only for 1 round.

Ocean/Sea/Water
Power -1, Versatility -1
This is mainly specific to aquatic (including aquatic elemental) or desert campaigns, but even with the healing option's buff lasting a whole minute, that duration is nowhere near enough to save you if you are in one of those campaigns (except that oddly enough, it could be enough to save you if you are on or near a ship instead of being in the water), while the harming option just does enhanced damage to aquatic or [Water] creatures.

Pain
Healing Power -1, Versatility -1
Harming Power -1 to +1 (gets better with level), Versatility +0
The healing option is very situational, and would better be covered with a spell, even though the buff lasts for a whole minute. The harming option starts out with a decent but brief debuff, but the duration scales slowly with your level.

Poison
Power +0 (Harming gets worse with level, eventually down to -2), Versatility -1
The healing option gives your party a minute of a buff against poisons -- rather situational, although replicating the effect with spells would take a fair amount of spellcasting. The harming option does area-of-effect physical ability damage, although the amount of damage is small and doesn't scale with your level (except that Constitution damage does implicitly scale due to later enemies having more hit dice; however, they will usually also have more Constitution, unless they are spellcasters, in which case they will usually have good Will Saves and thus make the Save against your Channel Negative Energy).

Protection
Power -2, Versatility -1
Buff your friends' or debuff your enemies' armor for an eyeblink. Pass.

Revenge/Vengeance
Power -2, Versatility -1 (only applies to negative energy channeling/harming)
Debuff your enemies' attack rolls for an eyeblink. Pass.

Rulership
Healing Power -2 to +0 (depending upon party composition), Versatility -1
Harming Power +2, Versatility +1
The healing option enhances your party's ability to influence or even outright control other creatures (IF they have such ability), but only for 1 round. The harming option makes enemies Dazed, which enables better kiting than the Variant Channeling options that just Slow/Stagger them; remember that unlike the Daze cantrip, enemies don't become temporarily immune to it after they fall victim to it the first time, so you can keep doing it as long as you have Channels remaining.

Secrets
Healing Power -2, Versatility -1
Harming Power +1, Versatility +1
This buffs your party's Sense Motive and Divination spells or debuffs your enemies against your Sense Motive and Divination spells, but while the healing option only lasts for 1 round, the harming option lasts for a whole minute.

Self-Perfection
Healing Power +0, Versatility +1
Harming Power +1, Versatility +0
The healing option enables your party to suppress 1 bad status of their choice, although only for 1 round, potentially allowing them to do something that might get rid of the condition more permanently or at least get out of danger before it comes back. The harming option debuffs enemies against an ongoing condition that they might be able to shake off, although that depends upon your party having inflicted such a condition on them in the first place.

Sexuality
Healing Power -1, Versatility -1
Harming Power +1, Versatility +1
The healing option lasts for a whole minute, but doesn't do a great deal; conceivably, it could be used for pre-buffing for Diplomacy in an intrigue campaign, and while a buff spell would normally be better for this, you might be able to pull off the Channel Positive Energy without being noticed more easily than casting the spell. The harming option gives a decent debuff to enemies that you will hit with Charm or Compulsion spells or Fascinate effects, and it lasts for a whole minute.

Slavery/Tyranny
Healing Power +1 to -1 (gets effectively worse with level), Versatility -1
Harming Power +1, Versatility +1
The healing option is not bad at low levels if you have a party of Rage-cycling Barbarians, Bloodragers, and/or Skalds and/or if you really need to push yourselves to the limit, or if you have Plant friends. Unfortunately, it doesn't do anything more at high levels (at which better options become available) than at low levels unless you have Plant friends (who get enhanced healing). The harming option gives a decent debuff to enemies that you will hit with Compulsion spells and Pain or Stun effects, and it lasts for a whole minute.

Strategy
Power -2 to +0 depending upon party composition, Versatility -1
Power +1, Versatility +1
The healing option buffs your party's Aid Another attempts, and your Channel Bonus stacks with their own other abilities that improve their Aid Another, although the buff is very brief as well as situational (being heavily dependent upon party composition and tactics). The harming option is a good debuff, making creatures unable to take attacks of opportunity for 1 round, like an area-of-effect version of Litany of Sloth (although unlike the spell, it allows a Save, but on the other hand not Spell Resistance), thereby allowing your Rogue/Ninja/Slayer/Vivisectionist allies to scoot into position while suffering reprisals only from enemies that made their Saves instead of from all of them.

Strength
Power +1, Versatility -1 (Power +2, Versatility +0 for Evangelist Clerics and characters that get both Positive and Negative Energy Channeling)
Effectively buff your party's Strength or debuff your enemies' Strength; brief, but stacks with spells that do this and with Bardic Performance effects; even better if you can do 2 of these things at once. Requires that your party be inclined and ready to use Strength-based combat maneuvers against enemies in the round(s) in which you are doing this.

Sun
Healing Power -2, Versatility -1
Harming Power -1, Versatility -1
The healing option gives a very brief weak increase in illumination and a very brief buff against Blindness and light-based effects (highly situational). The harming effect Dazzles creatures (a weak debuff) or Blinds those with Light Sensitivity or Light Blindness (fairly situational), but at least it lasts for a whole minute.

Trickery
Power -1 to +1 depending upon party composition, Versatility -1
Decent buff or debuff that lasts a whole minute, but to get good use out of it, you need to have a party (for instance, Rogues/Ninjas/Slayers and/or Inquisitors) that makes a lot of use of the relevant skills (Bluff, Disguise, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth for healing; or Perception and Sense Motive for harming). If you have Versatile Channeling (so that you can do both), potentially up to Power +2.

Undeath
Power +2, Versatility +0 (only applies to negative energy channeling)
"Harm: The healing effect is enhanced for undead creatures and those with negative energy affinity." Apparently this one explicitly breaks the rule above about Variant Channeling only applying to channeling positive energy to heal or negative energy to harm -- Undead and other creatures having Negative Energy Affinity get enhanced healing.

Weapons
Healing Power -2, Versatility -1
Harming Power +1, Versatility -1
The healing option works only very briefly, and only for creatures wielding your deity's favored weapon, and it only nerfs their attack rolls. The harming option also works only very briefly, but at least works on all creatures using manufactured (but not natural) weapons, and it nerfs both their attack rolls and their damage rolls; enemies that do a few huge attacks at high bonus will be only somewhat inconvenienced, but enemies (including hordes of minions) that do a lot of little attacks will get nerfed into the ground for 1 round.

Weather
Healing Power -1, Versatility -1
Harming Power -2, Versatility +1
The healing option gives your party some rather situational Save buffs, only for 1 round. The harming option lets you choose whether to convert half of your Channel Energy damage to electric or sonic damage, but remember that Variant Channeling already cut your Channel Negative Energy damage output in half. Either way, Pass.


avr wrote:
If you can find a deity with booze in their portfolio who supports negative channelers, Ale's pretty good - not just for getting away, stealing enemy actions is good in many situations. Not as good as negative Rulership admittedly.

Some Demon Lord or Daemon Harbinger of Addiction probably has this.

avr wrote:
The Beauty etc. heal bonus is very very specific. Too specific to be useful. The harm penalty is solid if you plan to get relevant spells.

Correction required due to reading this wrong (major changes bolded):

Beauty/Love/Lust
Healing Power +0, Versatility -1
Harming Power +1, Versatility +0
Having your party gain a channel bonus against Charm effects and abilities based on Fascination or physical attractiveness (such as a nymph's Blinding Beauty and Stunning Glance abilities for 1 minute is pretty good. Harm buffs your ability to Charm or Fascinate enemies. Either way, the effect lasts a whole minute (compared to most Variant Channeling effects that last only 1 round), which makes for a decent buff or debuff, although the buff from the healing option is awfully situational. Note that either effect stacks with Bardic Performance, so an Evangelist Cleric could make very good use of these (if allowed).

avr wrote:
Fate harm applies to all skill checks so there's probably something you can set up, but I can't think what. Power +1 can't be right until you can name that something.

If you have a party that Feints and Sneak Attacks a lot, debuffing your enemies' Sense Motive could really turn the tide.

avr wrote:
Hunting has too short a duration for tracking or survival checks to matter. Even -5 stealth is iffy unless the enemy has hide in plain sight, which is rare compared to invisibility - which it probably isn't enough of a penalty to beat.

For the healing option of Hunting, you would have to have your scout go up a tree or levitate/fly up with you, then make their Survival check to figure out where you are, and then come back down and tell everybody else. For the harming option, I was thinking of using this to turn the tables on someone who is tracking you while trying to keep themselves in Stealth.

avr wrote:
You've misnamed Justice/Law there UAE.

Oops -- copied and pasted wrong.

Justice/Law
Healing Power -2 to +1 depending upon party composition, Versatility -1
Harming Power -1, Versatility -1
For the healing option, giving your Lawful comrades (but only your Lawful comrades) a Channel Bonus on Perception and Sense Motive checks, attack rolls, and saving throws until the end of your next turn is not too shabby, although brief. For the harming option, the usefulness of this is sorely blunted by the difficulty with shooting first and asking questions later.

avr wrote:
AoE Int damage sounds good but there's not enough of it. 1d2 is a mean -0.75 to an Int-based enemies save DCs if they fail their saves. This isn't worth bothering with.

That's true, and the Intelligence-based casters will usually have good Will Saves and block a lot of it, so change Power for this to -1.

avr wrote:
Luck healing gives a channel bonus or a luck bonus; there are enough of those with Fortune's Favored for that to matter. The luck penalty is a great setup if you have quick channel.

Good points. Revised:

Luck
Healing Power -1, Versatility +0
Harming Power +1, Versatility +0
Healing gives a Channel Bonus to your party for just 1 d20 roll in the next round (and although the set of allowed rolls is fairly broad, it is not unlimited); however, target creatures get to choose whether the bonus is a Channel Bonus or a Luck Bonus, so if you have Quick Channel, you could double stack this on creatures that do not already have a Luck Bonus; alternatively, creatures with Fortune's Favored could make especially good use of the Luck Bonus. But it's still just 1 roll per channel, or per Channel/Quick Channel pair if a recipient chooses to double-stack them[/b], so in most cases you are probably better off casting a buff spell, which will last longer. The harming gives a Channel Penalty to your enemies for all d20 rolls for 1 round. Casting a debuff spell is probably a better use of your standard action, but if you have Quick Channel so that you don't use your standard action for the Channel Negative Energy, you could use the Channel Negative Energy to make the debuff spell more likely to stick.

avr wrote:
In general I think that skill check bonus/penalties in combat aren't worth thinking about, and remembering that quick channel exists is important to rating these. Also a lot of the enhanced healing effects are probably intended for a NPC cleric with a group of monsters who all fit the category which get enhanced healing.

Again, buffing or debuffing Sense Motive vs Feint, or buffing or debuffing Perception vs Stealth or vs Invisibility.


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comments, variant channeling, #2:
Magic harm: Spending an action - possibly a move action - to give multiple enemies a ~30-50% chance of failing to cast spells/use SLAs for 1 round is a decent option.

Murder harm: you lose half your damage and get a bleed effect equal to 1 per die of damage, only on a failed save. Bleeding for 2 rounds is about the same amount of damage on a failed save, 3 is more, obviously a successful save is less damage but it was always going to be insignificant. The troubles are 1) bleed won't stack if you channel at them more than once, 2) 3 rounds is a long time to wait in combat. Usually too long, the fight's probably decided by then. Power -1 at best IMO.

Nightmare heal: I think you overestimate how common these effects are UAE, and underestimate how many cleric spells there are to deal with them. Harm: OTOH it's very possible to build a cleric around doing fear effects with spells.

Self perfection heal: Ignoring any condition for 1 round is hugely versatile, +2 surely. If possibly weird in some cases (grappled? prone? petrified?).

Strategy harm: The offensive litanies have been errata'd to have saves.

Sun harm: Whether it lasts rounds, a minute or hours, dazzled is always a -2 power option.

Trickery: 1 minute still isn't enough for non-combat skills, and penalising perception/sense motive in combat only is too narrow to be useful.


The major flaw in judging these is that you dont need to take them to use them, making them options rather than changes thanks to a feat.

This also changes the entire rating system for them because while some may be less useful than heal and harm, the situations where they become useful once or twice are perfect for using the channel variance feat.

In fact, since most people suggest tanking charisma for clerics to.just get the minimum pool, this feat may only be needed once, and the extra variance feat to add even more options.

So while there may indeed be a few options that just do not work, the feat honestly makes a lot of the work shown here as moot, because due to a single feat one could have the option and not take it.

For example, while using Murder to inflict bleed may be just ok, using it to harm something with little chance to heal itself (animals for example) means channel and simply close the door and wait. Therefore since it is situational it's fine to simply have the option to use it in the situation and then win.

I really think due to the fact this feat makes the feat NOT permanent, and also allowing one to keep or leave variants as they want to, this systems current rating is either moot or needs an overhaul with this is mind.

I should note however the feat requires worship of a deity AND domains. Making this a little more class focused than just being able to channel.


Re feint and penalising sense motive: IME a character who specialises in feinting has a rather high chance of success already. If you're giving a -3 penalty to sense motive with a ~40% chance of the enemy making their save that might take it from a ~70% chance of feinting to ~80%. Not a big deal, really. Non-specialists don't have the action economy to feint.

Re stealth and penalising perception: like feint but more so. Stealth vs. perception goes off the range of a d20 easily, especially if invisibility is involved. A few points here or there are usually not relevant.


avr wrote:

{. . .}

Murder harm: you lose half your damage and get a bleed effect equal to 1 per die of damage, only on a failed save. Bleeding for 2 rounds is about the same amount of damage on a failed save, 3 is more, obviously a successful save is less damage but it was always going to be insignificant. The troubles are 1) bleed won't stack if you channel at them more than once, 2) 3 rounds is a long time to wait in combat. Usually too long, the fight's probably decided by then. Power -1 at best IMO.

I'll take Cavall's advice here and stick with the existing rating.

avr wrote:
Nightmare heal: I think you overestimate how common these effects are UAE, and underestimate how many cleric spells there are to deal with them. Harm: OTOH it's very possible to build a cleric around doing fear effects with spells.

Noted. Revised:

Nightmares
Healing Power +0, Versatility +0
Harming Power +0, Versatility -1
The healing option buffs your party against Charms and Compulsions, for a whole minute -- but in many cases, you could use a spell to protect them for a longer time, and more thoroughly. The harming option debuffs your enemies against Fear and Phantasms, and impairs their Concentration checks if applicable, but only for 1 round.

avr wrote:
Self perfection heal: Ignoring any condition for 1 round is hugely versatile, +2 surely. If possibly weird in some cases (grappled? prone? petrified?).

Good point about things like Grappled and Prone (real easy to forget that these are actually defined as conditions, not just something that happened to you or a geometric position that you happen to be in). [/b]For Self perfection healing option, change Power to +2[/b].

avr wrote:

Strategy harm: The offensive litanies have been errata'd to have saves.

{. . .}

Didn't know about those Errata until just now. That makes Strategy's harming option better, although I'm not sure that is enough to bump it all the way up to Power +2. Maybe call it party-dependent Power +2.

Cavall wrote:
{. . .} The major flaw in judging these is that you dont need to take them to use them, making them options rather than changes thanks to a feat. {. . .}

But when Variant Channeling came out in 2011, this was definitely a set of micro-archetypes. Channeling Variance didn't come out until 2016, and although I have noted it above, even if it relieves Variant Channeling of its archetype-ness, a fair number of people might not use that material.


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Thassilonian Specialist:
UnArcaneElection wrote:
Dasrak wrote:

Yeah, Eldritch Scoundrel is one of my favorite archetypes and I've used it quite a bit. I saw first-hand what it looks like at 1st and 2nd level play when one of my players took it. Really only started to feel "right" at 3rd and came into its own at 4th.

I managed to sit down on my lunch break and finish up the wizard archetypes. I decided to add sin mage (Thassilonian specialist) as an archetype, since it basically is. I rated every specialization separately because they are not equal by any means. I'm sort of on the fence on giving Envy/Greed/Sloth neutral versatility ratings, but Evocation/Necromancy, Enchantment/Illusion, and Evocation/Illusion are pretty manageable opposition combos. Pride, Wrath, and Lust take a power drop since losing Transmutation and/or Conjuration just guts the wizard spell list. It's more than just a versatility drop from them, but an attack on the core competencies of the class. Thoughts on the ratings?

Envy (Abjuration) Power +1, Versatility 0
Gluttony (Necromancy) Power +2, Versatility -1
Greed (Transmutation) Power +2, Versatility 0
Lust (Enchantment) Power -1, Versatility -2
Pride (Illusion) Power -2, Versatility -2
Sloth (Conjuration): Power +2, Versatility 0
Wrath (Evocation): Power -1, Versatility -2

Pretty much by definition any Thassilonian Specialist is going to be at a minus in versatility, so the question becomes whether you get enough power to make up for it. Do note that in addition to the obvious loss of ability to cast spells from your Prohibited Schools, you can't pick a Subschool, at least according to James Jacobs. This makes sense in a depressing way, because Subschool modifies Arcane School, and Thassilonian Specialist also modifies Arcane School.

Would you want to mention New Thassilonian Magic as a way to change the power/versatility levels for most of the sins?

Quote:

New Thassilonian Magic

Source Paths of the Righteous pg. 23
You use Thassilonian magic in a nontraditional way that preserves the ancient traditions while lifting some of its restrictions.
Prerequisites: Thassilonian specialization (Inner Sea Magic 17).
Benefit: You choose one of your two opposition schools. You also gain Thassilonian as a bonus language. If you already speak Thassilonian, you gain one of the following languages as a bonus language instead: Aklo, Azlanti, Giant, Shoanti, or Varisian.
Normal: A Thassilonian specialist cannot customize his choice for opposition schools.

Also, the original Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting has alternate class features for all of the core classes. They replace a variety of abilities, and feel a little like pseudo-archetypes (similar to the Thassilonian specialist does).

Spoiler:
page 43 wrote:


Holy Warrior (Ex): A cleric with this ability is proficient with
her deity’s favored weapon. In addition, her base attack
bonus as a cleric equals her cleric level, and her cleric Hit Die
becomes a d10.
Class Abilities: Some clerics think of themselves more
as holy warriors than proselytizers or shepherds. For these
clerics, the ability to fight trumps all
other concerns. Taking the above ability
requires a cleric to give up both of
her domains, including her
domain powers.


zook1shoe wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

Would you want to mention New Thassilonian Magic as a way to change the power/versatility levels for most of the sins?

I had not seen that feat -- that definitely bumps the more disadvantaged Thassilonian specialists up a notch; I wouldn't say that it ever kicks their Versatility rating up above -1, but could bump the Power rating into neutral or positive range.

For the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting (I assume you mean this one), the alternate class features seem not to have made it to or have disappeared out of www.d20pfsrd.com (and I don't know if Archives of Nethys ever saw them). I could have sworn one of the early Player's Guides (from before archetypes officially came out) had echoes of this, but now I can't find it (I just searched through the ones I have). Holy Warrior Cleric getting d10 and full BAB in exchange for both Domains sounds overpowered. But on the other hand, Pathfinder 2nd Edition gives Clerics (and for that matter Wizards) full BAB (although with effectively diminished spellcasting) and either sort of keeps a Domain (Cloistered Cleric) or gets some martial stuff in exchange (Warpriest). Or maybe I shouldn't say "on the other hand" . . . .


Quote:
But when Variant Channeling came out in 2011, this was definitely a set of micro-archetypes. Channeling Variance didn't come out until 2016, and although I have noted it above, even if it relieves Variant Channeling of its archetype-ness, a fair number of people might not use that material.

The dates don't really matter as we arent making this list in between those times.

And as for who is allowed to use what, that's a rather weak excuse as this whole list is made up of things people may not be allowed to use.

I'm simply stating that with the feat being used the power and variance levels must keep in mind the fact they simple have the option to turn it on or off as they see fit. This makes a list of "dont take this it's only good when X happens" kind of moot since you simply don't have to use it until X happens.


zook1shoe wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

Would you want to mention New Thassilonian Magic as a way to change the power/versatility levels...

Where is this? In the comic books? I can't find this on AoN or d20pfsrd.

That cleric swap is way super powered. Might be good for an NPC villain.


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Lemartes wrote:
zook1shoe wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

Would you want to mention New Thassilonian Magic as a way to change the power/versatility levels...

Where is this? In the comic books? I can't find this on AoN or d20pfsrd.

That cleric swap is way super powered. Might be good for an NPC villain.

If you click the link it will tell you paths of the righteous. Page 23.


Oops. Thanks but sorry I meant the other part of the post which I miss quoted.

Also, the original Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting has alternate class features for all of the core classes. They replace a variety of abilities, and feel a little like pseudo-archetypes (similar to the Thassilonian specialist does).

Spoiler:
page 43 wrote:

Holy Warrior (Ex): A cleric with this ability is proficient with
her deity’s favored weapon. In addition, her base attack
bonus as a cleric equals her cleric level, and her cleric Hit Die
becomes a d10.

Class Abilities: Some clerics think of themselves more
as holy warriors than proselytizers or shepherds. For these
clerics, the ability to fight trumps all
other concerns. Taking the above ability
requires a cleric to give up both of
her domains, including her
domain powers.

I'm assuming that the Chronicles Campaign Setting is from the Pathfinder Comic?


Lemartes wrote:


Holy Warrior (Ex): A cleric with this ability is proficient with
her deity’s favored weapon. In addition, her base attack
bonus as a cleric equals her cleric level, and her cleric Hit Die
becomes a d10.

Class Abilities: Some clerics think of themselves more
as holy warriors than proselytizers or shepherds. For these
clerics, the ability to fight trumps all
other concerns. Taking the above ability
requires a cleric to give up both of
her domains, including her
domain powers.

Interestingly IMO this is no way near as OP as is widely thought. In fact I view it as being a bit UP or at best an even trade.

D10 HD equivalency is gained very easily via 1 feat.

Obviously having fighter BAB is a step up, but then you are giving up both domains... including all powers and spells and thusly your extra domain spell slot too.

Now bearing in mind you don't receive any other fighter-esque perks, unless you are determined to go down a very niche path and sacrifice a lot of interesting powers, this IMO is an overall step down in power.


From what I can tell from reviews written for it, the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting book is a 3.5 Golarion setting book.

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