Building an Arcanist


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Replacing a character in a campaign with a 6th level character.

I originally was thinking of a Cartomancer Witch, but the rest of the witch material that came along with it just didn't feel right for a Good aligned character.

So I built the character as an Arcanist. I understand some of these choices arn't optimized, but I don't need to be terribly optimized for this game. The character is sort of designed as someone who has not been an adventurer, but will become drawn into it because of events that bring the rest of the part to town.

Any thoughts or advice?

Peri-Blooded Aasimar
Arcanist (Tarroh Student) 6

Strength 7 (-2)
Dexterity 14 (+2)
Constitution 12 (+1)
Intelligence 20 (+5)
Wisdom 12 (+1)
Charisma 14 (+2)

Psychic Sensitivity
Spell Focus (evocation)
Angelic Blood
Angelic Flesh (golden)

Harrow Chosen
Havoc of the Society (ok'd

Arcane Exploits
Potent Magic (Su)
Metamagic Feat - Toppling Spell (not tied to this)

What is the rest of your party built like? What is the focus or specialization you're looking for with the character? What about skill points and WBL?

Your attributes look fine to me, assuming post-racials and pre-4th level attribute points, but for feats and such, more information is needed for better guidance.

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Sure -

Bloodrager, Monk & Cleric (no tricky or interesting builds, the cleric is mostly a healer/buffer)

Party needs ranged and utility casting, but I'm sort of expecting to grow into the role, its not ideal, but I'll make it work, this is a pretty friendly table.

Skill Name Ability Total Stat Ranks Misc

Bluff Cha 7 = +2 +2 +3
Diplomacy Cha 13 = +2 +6 +3 +2
Heal Wis 10 = +1 +6 +3
Know(local) Int 14 = +5 +6 +3
Know(nature) Int 10 = +5 +2 +3
Know(planes) Int 10 = +5 +2 +3
Perception Wis 12 = +1 +6 +3 +2
Sense Motive Wis 10 = +1 +6 +3
Spellcraft Int 14 = +5 +6 +3
Knowl(arc.) Int 14 = +5 +6 +3

Feats are listed above.

WBL is gimped - 8k even at that, I'll be about on par with the rest of the party.

Stats should be post 4th level, 17 int is 13pts, +2 int, +1 at 4th
Str +4pts, covers the 12 Con/Wis
14 Dex, 5pts, 12 Chr 2pts and +2 racial for 14

Arcanist would be perfect here. The only things that could potentially serve the party better would be a Wizard (cliche, and just has full spellcasting), or Eldritch Archer Magus (but you'd still lack the utility and versatility of a full spell caster like the Arcanist), so I'd say you'll do just fine.

I'd consider putting points into UMD, and less points into stuff like Heal or the Face skills (Bluff, Diplomacy, Sense Motive, and so on); while you have passable Charisma, the ability to activate almost any Magic Item would be invaluable to a full spellcaster like yourself. At best, I'd put only a few points into those skills to serve as an "Aid" monkey to whoever has the Face skills (most likely the Cleric).

Sounds like the GM is giving the PCs ~half WBL so as to tailor their strengths from going haywire. Intriguing, but fruitless for one such as you. Instead of Spell Focus (Evocation), I'd consider investing in Crafting feats; most specifically, Craft Wondrous Item. This will give you a lot of versatility and power (for both you and the party), and puts quite a nice tamper on the WBL issues. Even if the GM doesn't allow crafting feats, stuff like Improved Initiative will serve you better as a "general" full spellcaster, as being able to go first in combat will give you the opportunity to direct how the combat will unfold, an invaluable power that is much more worthwhile than a simple +1 to Evocation spell DCs.

Potent Spells is great for specializing in save/suck or blasting spells by upping the DC or caster level, but otherwise doesn't serve that much of a purpose. Weighing on how often you use those spells in comparison to other spells will determine how useful of an exploit that is.

Toppling only works for Force spells; there aren't a whole lot of them to make it worthwhile, and to be honest, it's not all that great of an effect (especially when dealing with Large, multi-legged creatures). I honestly wouldn't recommend most any Metamagic feat unless you're a Blaster or a Save/Suck specialist, and even then only a handful of feats are worthwhile. If you want Metamagic effects on certain spells you cast, I'd instead invest in Metamagic Rods; otherwise, I'd fully recommend taking another exploit besides that one, as there are much better exploits to benefit from in your current levels.

I don't really care too about your traits, since you aren't going to necessarily be a blaster, and not invest in metamagic exploitation, or why you're taking the Aasimar feats (my guess is to obtain wings for permaflight; a smart idea, but if that's the case, I'd suggest removing Spell Focus [Evocation] to work towards the wings faster), so on that end you're fine (but of course, there are still obviously better choices). You also even said that it's a non-optimized game, so even with the advice I've given you alone (and based on your current build), you should put the party members to shame.

WBL should be fairly simple to apply, presuming no crafting feats:

-Headband of Vast Intellect +2 (make sure you get points for either Fly, another Knowledge, or even UMD if you don't want to sacrifice your current skill set for it)
-Cloak of Resistance +1
-Amulet of Natural Armor +1
-1,000 gold to spend on whatever miscellaneous doodads you want.

If you DO have access to crafting feats (a la Craft Wondrous item), then your WBL will effectively skyrocket, and you can buy a few more trinkets to deck your character out. I'd even go so far as to suggest improving your Vast Intellect +2 to Mental Prowess +2 if you could swing it, but I'd be careful with that sort of thing, as the GM might forcibly tailor your character's power down.

Either way, you should be good enough to rock the adventure you guys will be playing on. Good luck!

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Thanks for the look over, I appreciate it.

Face Skills vs. UMD - Character background roll has more support for the Face Skills - this is one of those places were I expect to have to grow into the "adventurer" roll and to be mass dumping into UMD pretty quickly, 7 skill pts a level goes a long way. That said, there is not much face skills in the party - the cleric dumped Int. Using next levels skill points on UMD was pretty much the plan in any case.

The DM isn't tied to WBL calculations, but I'm unlikely to have time actual cash to have Crafting really help much (based upon past experience with this DM) even selling of loot is likely to be rare. P
The cloak and amulet (while I have the cloak on my short list) I'm tempted to leave off as they're gonna be found as loot, just due to the constraints of NPC gearing.

Toppling I'm not thrilled with as a long term solution, for the reasons you list, but the Havoc trait adds 1pt of force damage to all spells, making just about anything eligible. The Harrow trait I want, and it goes with the Archetype. To be honest, it seems like most of the exploits are pretty suspect anyway.

I can easily be talked out of Havoc+Toppling+SF(evo.)

Quick Study is one of the few Exploits that seem worth a damn over the long haul - many of the others, even with a decent Chr STILL dont last long enough to be interesting choices, and the damaging ones all seem pretty weak. Third Eye could be a flavorful choice. Looks like I need to swap Dex and Con to qualify for the Angel feats.

Well, I should applaud the Cleric for having optimal stats, even though lacking a face really bites, especially in a non-optimized campaign.

I only made the WBL comment because 6th level PCs have 16,000 gold per WBL, and the GM says you have exactly half of that to spend for gear (which, ironically, isn't a whole lot to work with). With that being said, I totally understand the statement of not having time to craft or even visit town. Our current GM would let us go to town by 1st and 2nd level, and the next time we'd see town would be 18th level. It's hilarious, truly, and we've worked towards fixing that sort of problem, but not surprising that we aren't the only table that has done that.

Didn't realize that about the trait, but Toppling Spell only affects spells with the [Force] descriptor. Even if a spell deals Force damage, it doesn't give it the [Force] descriptor, so that combination wouldn't work, per RAW. If the GM would rule it to do so, then that's gravy for you. All I'm telling you is that RAW (and perhaps RAI) says no-go on that, so don't be surprised if the GM decides to shut you down on that combination.

There are several exploits that are really strong and purposeful for one such as yourself, barring Quick Study (which every Arcanist takes). Counterspell (which can later be improved to actually work worth a damn) is great for shutting down enemy spellcasters so your allies can go to town on them with reckless abandon, all while without ruining your own spellcasting opportunities. Dimensional Slide, which is independant from Charisma, lets you escape sticky situations quite smoothly, without having to cast spells like Dimension Door to get safe passage. School Understanding gives you the benefits of certain Wizard schools, several of which are really powerful for the type of spells you may want to specialize in (for example, Admixture School makes you a much better Blaster, since you can alter the damage type of the spell that you cast, making resistances and immunities a complete joke). Ironically enough, you could even take an Item Crafting Feat if you so desired.

And that's just the basics. The Greater Exploits offer even more versatility and capability, and can usually build off of the original exploits that you've chosen.

My Arcanist used toppling all the way to 20th. Its was fun knocking over huge creature 5 at a time!

Toppling can have its uses, but since he wants a more generalized approach, it'd be easier (and more convenient) to have it as a Metamagic Rod instead of a permanent feat.

Of course, this ultimately depends on how his GM would rule Toppling Spell to work. I know that at my table (and based on the rules text), that he can't just cast a damaging spell and expect the Metamagic Feat to work in accordance to the Havoc of the Society trait; the spell must have the [Force] descriptor for the feat to apply, otherwise it doesn't work.

Scarab Sages

I'd probably say take Quick Study before Metamagic/Toppling. It adds a lot of utility to the Arcanist. A lot.

Dimensional Slide is also fantastic.

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

OK, so, need to look more like this for now.

Peri-Blooded Aasimar
Arcanist (Tarroh Student) 6

Strength 7 (-2)
Dexterity 12 (+1)
Constitution 14 (+2)
Intelligence 20 (+5)
Wisdom 12 (+1)
Charisma 14 (+2)

Psychic Sensitivity
Imp. Initiative
Angelic Blood
Angelic Flesh (golden)

Harrow Chosen
Havoc of the Society (ok'd)

Arcane Exploits
Potent Magic
Quick Study

Next level I'd expect to dump most/all skill points into UMD.

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Ended up going with something pretty close to this - I optimized a little bit more and abandoned the Angelic feat chain for a faster approach to a blaster arcanist with moderate amount of trick/gimmick spells.

We've reached almost 10th at this point, and while the rest of the party are mythic tier 1s, I've more than held my own without being mythic.

Thanks for the help and feedback everyone.

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