Help building an Esoteric Magus?


Advice


My buddy would like to make an Esoteric Magus in a module running to sixth level. He really likes the flavor of an unarmed melee caster with the ability to add elemental properties to unarmed attacks.

He was looking into making a Dex based build on a 15 point buy.

Now, he's a bit concerned about his perception and his Wis stat in general, since the only build he could find for an Esoteric Magus was a 20 point buy build seen here.

Now with this in mind, I suggested he just take a trait to make this a class skill, then just invest in Perception so that his negative mod in Wis doesn't hurt his checks too bad.

Any ideas or suggestions for a build like this? Suggested buys? Any and all input would be appreciated, but no third party materials, please.


Esoteric Magus on 15 points? Ho boy....

My best advice would be to build the concept without actually taking Esoteric Magus.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Manly-man teapot wrote:
My best advice would be to build the concept without actually taking Esoteric Magus.

Yeah, I agree. The thing is that a non-Esoteric Magus can also enchant his unarmed strikes just fine, which allows you to take a better archetype instead. Hexcrafter + the Hex Strike feat is a good combo.


Why esoteric?

Scarab Sages

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I have an esoteric Magus, and he's pretty fun and actually pretty good. While the dex build is pretty alluring, I would not recommend it for an esoteric magus. There is simply no good way to get dex-to-damage with an esoteric magus (not until you can afford the 4000 GP agile amulet), so I would recommend a strength build. Plus, as a magus, you have access to spells like blur, shield, and so on, so your defense can actually be pretty good without high dex.

How I would do it:

Human (racial bonus, STR)
Str:17
Dex:12
Con:14
Int:14
Wis:10
Chr:7

While 14 Int isn't GREAT for a magus, you don't need too much higher as you don't have a bunch of save-type spells, and you actually give up your ability to convert magus arcana into spells, so you don't need a huge arcane pool.

I recommend Dragon style for the bonus unarmed damage on the first hit, and the ability to ignore difficult terrain when you charge.

Items you will want to get when you can:
Belt of Str
Headband of Int
+X BRAWLING Darkleaf lamallar leather armor.
Wand of shield
Pearls of power (level 1)

Now, is this going to be as crazy as, say, a cookie-cutter scimitar Magus? No, probably not. Is this going to give you a character that can punch people with electricity fists and be reasonably good at it? Yes it is.

Liberty's Edge

Have you considered the Kensai route?


I would've suggested Suli for a race, though they suffer a -2 Intelligence penalty, and on 15 point buy it's not exactly ideal considering you're a Magus.

The reason I'd offer the Suli race is because of their Elemental Assault racial ability, which allows them to enhance their Unarmed Strikes with extra elemental damage for rounds equal to your character level. With the Incremental Elemental Assault feat, you could do this on a per-round basis, which can be fairly useful.

I have an adjusted base race with the Elemental Assault (and Incremental feat), and as a Druid character who can shape into forms with a lot of natural attacks, that's a lot of added damage.

There are certainly many other ways to add elemental damage to your Unarmed Strikes than through the Magus, and if that is his main schtick (elemental damage on unarmed strikes), I'd personally suggest to not pick a Magus.

The big thing about Unarmed Strikes is that they don't scale particularly well unless you have a class that gives you improved dice scaling on said Unarmed Strikes. Granted, increasing the damage dice is a fairly inferior tactic, these classes which give IUS dice scaling also give other, very powerful features that improve the viability of Unarmed Strikes, such as Stunning Fist or Flurry of Blows, in the case of a UCMonk.

I'd honestly rather suggest a Suli Enlightened Paladin with a dip in UCMonk. It seems stupid to have to straight-jacket your alignment, but quite frankly not only is it more durable (strong saves, immunities, and adding two stats to your AC), but you get the flavor you want, and you'll be more effective by being full BAB, you'll acquire a Ki Pool (which gives you the ability to make another attack at your highest BAB for 1 round, stacking with Haste, +4 Dodge AC for a round, or even bypassing DR for a round).

Let's tack on the factor that you'll have good Saves (Fort and Will), able to add your Charisma to Saves (as well as AC), and be able to avoid re-roll or lowest-roll effects (meaning Witches with Misfortune or other "re-roll that dice" effects have no effect against you), and improves further when you're affected with Luck-based effects. This gets to apply a pseudo-effect to allies near you, which is nice as well.

You'll also get Divine Bond for your Unarmed Strikes, meaning you can apply Frost/Flaming/Corrosive/Shocking properties in addition to your Elemental Assault. 2D6 Elemental Damage goodness.

Did I also mention you have Lay on Hands benefits (giving you incredible sustain ability), can still cast spells, and spells like Divine Favor, Lesser Restoration, etc. will make you into a crazy badass? Good, I'm glad I didn't, because that's important to mention.

Lastly, you'll be Strength-based, and will work towards Dragon Ferocity. Why? Because every attack you inflict will deal 1.5x Strength, and the first attack of each round will deal 2x Strength instead. I'd also suggest TWF, but quite frankly the 15 point buy doesn't support it unless you put levels into Slayer or Ranger and avoid the attribute pre-requisites (which is not a bad idea, but not particularly great either).

Plus, being able to charge through allied squares is freaking nice. I considered Crane Style, but between Divine Grace, your Charisma + Dexterity + Wisdom (and later Bracers of Armor), plus Paladin immunities, your AC and Saves should be more than acceptable, and you'd be lacking damage otherwise.

Point-Buy will be as follows:

Strength 16 (14 + 2)
Dexterity 12
Constitution 12
Intelligence 5 (7 - 2)
Wisdom 14
Charisma 16 (14 + 2)

You'll want the UCMonk level first for pre-reqs and stuff, then take rest into Enlightened Paladin.

Feats
1. Improved Unarmed Strike*, Stunning Fist*, Dodge* Power Attack
3. Dragon Style
5. Dragon Ferocity
7. Incremental Elemental Assault
9-20. Whatever you want, your build is well online by this point!

Favored Class will have to be skills if you want this to work. You'll want Acrobatics for the Dragon Ferocity pre-requisites, but by 2nd level you'll be putting points into Perception as well.

First level, your damage should be 1D6+5, average 8 damage a strike. You'll have two attacks at your highest BAB via Flurry, meaning you can easily 1-round any baddie who is CR-equivalent. The downside is that you'll only have +3 to hit (1 base + 3 Strength - 1 Power Attack). That's not including things like Elemental Assault, which adds another 1D6 (though only for one round, so be sure to implement Flurry of Blows for the maximum damage output). Your AC will only be 14, but it takes time for this stuff to ramp up. To be frank, most characters will have that much AC if they're melee-focused, and they're using armor. You aren't, because you're that badass.

And everything will only go up from there, as you'll be implementing Bracers of Armor, your Charisma to AC and Saves, Lay on Hands, a Ki Pool, having 1.5x Strength on all attacks, etc.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Suli works well with Eldritch Scion Magus...


That 20 point build you posted can be used, just drop the STR to 14 (16 with racial mod)


Kurald Galain wrote:
Suli works well with Eldritch Scion Magus...

Too bad you can't stack Eldritch Scion and Esoteric together.

Trust me, it crossed my mind, but they substitute too much of the same stuff to be stackable.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Kurald Galain wrote:
Suli works well with Eldritch Scion Magus...

Too bad you can't stack Eldritch Scion and Esoteric together.

Trust me, it crossed my mind, but they substitute too much of the same stuff to be stackable.

Yes, but as pointed out earlier in the thread, the Esoteric archetype doesn't really do anything. A regular Magus can already enchant his unarmed strikes, after all. You don't need Esoteric to play an unarmed Magus, and either Hexcrafter or Eldritch Scion does it better.


Arcane Pool (Magus) wrote:
At 1st level, a magus can expend 1 point from his arcane pool as a swift action to grant any weapon he is holding a +1 enhancement bonus for 1 minute.

I mean, you could put one hand onto another and enchant it that way, but normally speaking, you can't enchant Unarmed Strikes with this ability.

Also, consider the Esoteric entry:

Arcane Pool (Esoteric) wrote:
At 1st level, an esoteric can use his arcane pool to enhance his unarmed strikes as if they were manufactured weapons.

That entry clarifies that the regular Arcane Pool can only be used to enhance Manufactured Weapons, not Natural Weapons or Unarmed Strikes, which this version allows (and treats them as Manufactured Weapons for those purposes). If you could already enhance your Unarmed Strikes, there would be no reason to clarify this, or state that it alters anything whatsoever.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I mean, you could put one hand onto another and enchant it that way, but normally speaking, you can't enchant Unarmed Strikes with this ability.

Please look up the gauntlet, cestus, emei piercer, and possibly the dan bong. Oh, and the bodywrap of mighty strikes, of course.


Kurald Galain wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I mean, you could put one hand onto another and enchant it that way, but normally speaking, you can't enchant Unarmed Strikes with this ability.
Please look up the gauntlet, cestus, emei piercer, and possibly the dan bong.

I referenced holding just to be a RAW jerk. I then referenced the Arcane Pool of the Esoteric that specifies that he treats his Unarmed Strikes as Manufactured Weapons for the purposes of enhancing them with his Arcane Pool (which before, he couldn't, hence why it alters the Arcane Pool ability).

In short, it works with those because they are manufactured weapons, which is cited as the norm for Arcane Pool abilities, and don't do damage based on your Unarmed Strike. Unarmed Strikes aren't manufactured weapons, as required by the base Arcane Pool ability, meaning unless you are an Esoteric, you can't enhance Unarmed Strikes.

By all means, you could circumvent that and take Ascetic Style with stuff like that, but stating it's the norm is wrong.

I'll also mention that you can't enhance Natural Weapons in this way either, regardless of using the Esoteric pool or the regular one.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I referenced holding just to be a RAW jerk.

The OP is looking for advice, not jerks.


Kurald Galain wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I referenced holding just to be a RAW jerk.
The OP is looking for advice, not jerks.

Clearly, that was not directed at the OP, nor did I mean "jerk" in the sense that I am rude about it. (At least, not meaningfully.)

Even if it was, it's still advice, in that there are GMs (especially PFS) who will rule that you can't use stuff like Gauntlets or Cestii with the ability because it's not held in hand (it is your hand), and that's something he needs to get clarified with his GM before he pursues a path that he thinks it is, but the GM has it as something completely different.

I've already offered him whatever advice I have (in that Esoteric isn't a good idea if he wants a melee character with a lot of elemental damage attached to unarmed strikes), I've already explained my stance on the respective issues, so at this point I'm going to bow my head out of this thread unless the OP has more questions or updates.


MajorMishap wrote:

My buddy would like to make an Esoteric Magus in a module running to sixth level. He really likes the flavor of an unarmed melee caster with the ability to add elemental properties to unarmed attacks.

He was looking into making a Dex based build on a 15 point buy.

I'm going to repeat what other have said here: Dex builds really aren't very good for a Magus using Unarmed Strikes. It is especially difficult with a low point-buy and no bonus feats. I think you do want a little Dex for Initiative rolls and because you are wearing light armor, but Str is much better offensively.

MajorMishap wrote:
Now, he's a bit concerned about his perception and his Wis stat in general, since the only build he could find for an Esoteric Magus was a 20 point buy build seen here.

That build was a bit crazy. The goal was to stack as many debuffs as possible, so I went hog-wild. It probably isn't too balanced.

MajorMishap wrote:
Now with this in mind, I suggested he just take a trait to make this a class skill, then just invest in Perception so that his negative mod in Wis doesn't hurt his checks too bad.

Traits can give you a nice boost to perception. Some make it a class skill and also give you a trait bonus. But there are so many other traits that are good for an Esoteric Magus: Bruising Intellect, Magical Lineage, Wayang Spellhunter, Quain Martial Artist, etc. That makes for some hard choices.

Also some races get bonuses to perception. Wayangs, Ratfolk, and Half-elves for example all get a +2 racial bonus. Half-elves can also trade in Adaptability for Dual Minded which gives them a +2 bonus on all Will saves.

MajorMishap wrote:
Any ideas or suggestions for a build like this? Suggested buys? Any and all input would be appreciated, but no third party materials, please.

I'll see what I can come up with. My current favorite design for an Esoteric is a Str build that uses Enforcer, Nightmare Fist, and the Eclipsed Spell metamagic feat.

Grand Lodge

I built a 20pt NPC Esoteric. Dex Build Grappler. With the buff spells she whupped up on the party with a bit of Back-Up

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