Magus Archetype Stacking


Pathfinder Society

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Following on from this post from John I thought I would start up the thread to seek some clarification on Magus archetype stacking as requested.

While the question there was bladebound/kensai the issue is probably broader than that. It certainly also covers the bladebound/hexcrafter combination as well. Both are I believe popular options and are recommended by one of the primary Magus guides.

The issue arises due to This FAQ on archetype stacking.

Quote:
In general, if a class feature grants multiple subfeatures, it’s OK to take two archetypes that only change two separate subfeatures. This includes two bard archetypes that alter or replace different bardic performances (even though bardic performance is technically a single class feature) or two fighter archetypes that replace the weapon training gained at different levels (sometimes referred to as “weapon training I, II, III, or IV”) even though those all fall under the class feature weapon training. However, if something alters the way the parent class feature works, such as a mime archetype that makes all bardic performances completely silent, with only visual components instead of auditory, you can’t take that archetype with an archetype that alters or replaces any of the sub-features. This even applies for something as small as adding 1 extra round of bardic performance each day, adding an additional bonus feat to the list of bonus feats you can select, or adding an additional class skill to the class. As always, individual GMs should feel free to houserule to allow small overlaps on a case by case basis, but the underlying rule exists due to the unpredictability of combining these changes.

Bladebound makes the following change

Quote:
Black Blade (Ex): At 3rd level, the bladebound magus' gains a powerful sentient weapon called a black blade, whose weapon type is chosen by the magus. A magus with this class feature cannot take the familiar magus arcana, and cannot have a familiar of any kind, even from another class.

In effect your level 3 arcana is chosen for you and you are forever locked out of taking familiar. As this is an older source it does not specifically call out that it is making a change to Arcana.

Hexcrafter gains the following:

Quote:
Hex Arcana: A hexcrafter gains access to the following magus arcana, or may select any witch hex in place of a magus arcana. At 12th level, the hexcrafter may select a hex or major hex in place of a magus arcana. At 18th level, a hexcrafter can select a hex, major hex, or grand hex in place of a magus arcana. He cannot select any hex or arcana more than once.

They effectively have additional options to choose using their Arcana class feature. Again no explicit reference is made to changing the feature.

Kensai gains the following ability at level 9.

Quote:
Critical Perfection (Ex): At 9th level, a kensai adds his Intelligence bonus (minimum 0) on critical hit confirmation rolls with his favored weapon. In addition, the kensai may use his magus levels in place of his base attack bonuses to qualify for Critical Focus and any feat for which it is a prerequisite; these feats apply only with a kensai's favored weapon. This ability replaces the magus arcana normally gained at 9th level

They give up their level 9 arcana in favour of critical perfection.

So, the first question is, is Magus Arcana a class feature like armour training where you gradually get better versions of it? If so, archetypes which touch on different levels of arcana can be taken together.

The second question is, does forcing you to take certain arcana or locking you out of others count as a significant enough change to the parent feature to lock you out of any archetype which also touches on that feature.

The last question is, does a lack of a specific reference to a feature being changed matter? This question I feel confident enough to suggest the answer is unequivocally no. Archetype stacking has existed since before the change to making these things more explicit.

The other two questions remain up for debate. I know my own views on them but there has definitely been disagreement over the issue for quite some time about whether or not they stack.

Scarab Sages 5/5

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The Blackblade feature essentially changes the entirety of how Magus Arcana works, because you get less of an arcana pool and your blade gets some arcana. This is a pretty significant change in how Arcana works. So because of this, I would say any other archetype that modifies any part of Arcana, should not work with Blackblade, because Blackblade changes the entirety of the feature.


Dotting.

Silver Crusade 1/5 Contributor

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Oh dear.

Also, dot.


andreww wrote:

...Bladebound makes the following change

Quote:
Black Blade (Ex): At 3rd level, the bladebound magus' gains a powerful sentient weapon called a black blade, whose weapon type is chosen by the magus. A magus with this class feature cannot take the familiar magus arcana, and cannot have a familiar of any kind, even from another class.
In effect your level 3 arcana is chosen for you and you are forever locked out of taking familiar. As this is an older source it does not specifically call out that it is making a change to Arcana.

The Black blade quote is cut short. It should show:

Quote:

Black Blade (Ex): At 3rd level, the bladebound magus' gains a powerful sentient weapon called a black blade, whose weapon type is chosen by the magus. A magus with this class feature cannot take the familiar magus arcana, and cannot have a familiar of any kind, even from another class.

Instead of the normal arcane pool amount, the bladebound magus's arcane pool has a number of points equal to 1/3 his level (minimum 1) plus his Intelligence bonus. This ability changes the Arcane Pool class feature and replaces the magus arcana gained at 3rd level.

My emphasis. Black Blade does list what it replaces. Arcane Pool is not the same class feature as Magus Arcana. A magus can use Arcane Pool even if he doesn't have any Magus Arcana (and does so for two levels).

Neither of the other two archetypes listed, change Arcane Pool.
Tangent: however both hexcrafter and kensai do change the Spells class feature. IMHO since one diminishes spells and the other adds spells they are in opposition and don't stack.

EDIT: is this a PFS issue?


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Hexcrafter and Bladebound definitely don't stack. Bladebound replaces the Magus Arcana gained at 3rd level which is a subfeature of the Magus Arcana parent feature. Hexcrafter gets the Hex Arcana class feature which adds Accursed Strike to the Magus Arcana list. By the FAQ, that counts as altering the Magus Arcana parent feature and makes the two archetypes incompatible.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

I guess it's about whether you're looking for any changes or looking for the magic words "this alters/replaces feature X".

1/5

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It's been acknowledged before that older sources didn't have those terms. Though I hadn't considered ruling exclusively on the basis of their presence, I suppose I can see why that would be easier.

The Exchange 4/5 5/5

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For bladebound/kensai, is this not the critical part of that FAQ?

Quote:
In general, if a class feature grants multiple subfeatures, it’s OK to take two archetypes that only change two separate subfeatures. This includes two bard archetypes that alter or replace different bardic performances (even though bardic performance is technically a single class feature) or two fighter archetypes that replace the weapon training gained at different levels (sometimes referred to as “weapon training I, II, III, or IV”) even though those all fall under the class feature weapon training.

Bladebound replaces the 3rd level arcana and Kensai replaces the 9th level arcana. Arcana gained at different levels are just like weapon training gained at different levels.


Kevin Willis wrote:

For bladebound/kensai, is this not the critical part of that FAQ?

Quote:
In general, if a class feature grants multiple subfeatures, it’s OK to take two archetypes that only change two separate subfeatures. This includes two bard archetypes that alter or replace different bardic performances (even though bardic performance is technically a single class feature) or two fighter archetypes that replace the weapon training gained at different levels (sometimes referred to as “weapon training I, II, III, or IV”) even though those all fall under the class feature weapon training.
Bladebound replaces the 3rd level arcana and Kensai replaces the 9th level arcana. Arcana gained at different levels are just like weapon training gained at different levels.

No one is arguing that replacing two different levels of Magus Arcana make them incompatible. Those are two separate subfeatures, and you are correct that each can be changed by different archetypes.

The question at hand is whether Bladebound's restriction on taking the Familiar Magus Arcana counts as altering the Parent Feature. If it does then no other archetype is allowed to alter any of the subfeatures. That would mean that Kensai, which changes the level 9 Magus Arcana, would be incompatible with Bladebound.

This issue had never occurred to me before, but now that it has been brought up I'm inclined to think that they don't stack. The only way around it that I can see would be to somehow conclude that preventing you from taking the Familiar Magus Arcana isn't actually changing your list of Magus Arcana and therefore isn't changing the parent feature. Hexcrafter doesn't have that way out since adding things to such lists is clearly called out in the FAQ as altering the parent feature.

2/5

Based on how quinggon monk stacks I would think it's fine.


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Scott Mcgroarty wrote:
Based on how quinggon monk stacks I would think it's fine.

Qinggong Monks are unique They needed their own FAQ to explain how they stack with other archetypes. You can't use them as an example for any other archetypes.

Sovereign Court 1/5

If the Bladebound archetype didn't list exactly which features are modified then I would think it would be up for debate whether or not the line about not being able to choose the Familiar arcana counts as modifying the parent Arcana feature.

However, the archetype does specify it.

Quote:
This ability changes the Arcane Pool class feature and replaces the magus arcana gained at 3rd level.

No mention there of altering the Magus Arcana class feature. It seems pretty likely to me that the line preventing you from selecting the Familiar arcana is there purely to tell you that you're not allowed to have a familiar in any way, and only calls out the arcana directly because it's the way a Magus would normally get a familiar.

Grand Lodge 2/5

Except we have quotes from Paizo employees talking about how not all archetypes list everything they change.


Jurassic Pratt wrote:
Except we have quotes from Paizo employees talking about how not all archetypes list everything they change.

Why assume it changes more than what is listed? It says nothing about adding jurassic pets, or starship warp drives, or the letter &. Assuming those options exist is purely hyperbole.

I disagree that Bladebound alters the Parent Feature.

Quote:
As he gains levels, a magus learns arcane secrets tailored to his specific way of blending martial puissance and magical skill. Starting at 3rd level, a magus gains one magus arcana. He gains an additional magus arcana for every three levels of magus attained after 3rd level. Unless specifically noted in a magus arcana's description, a magus cannot select a particular magus arcana more than once. Magus arcana that affect spells can only be used to modify spells from the magus spell list unless otherwise noted.

My emphasis. Bladebound changes the availability of one of the sub-features, but one cannot not take every magus arcana anyway, the magus tailors his training to his own interests.

Hex magus replaces spell recall. Hex Arcana doesn't come online until level 12. IMHO it doesn't change parent feature gained 9 levels earlier.

2/5 **

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Curaigh wrote:
Hex magus replaces spell recall. Hex Arcana doesn't come online until level 12. IMHO it doesn't change parent feature gained 9 levels earlier.
The FAQ wrote:
However, if something alters the way the parent class feature works, such as a mime archetype that makes all bardic performances completely silent, with only visual components instead of auditory, you can’t take that archetype with an archetype that alters or replaces any of the sub-features. This even applies for something as small as adding 1 extra round of bardic performance each day, adding an additional bonus feat to the list of bonus feats you can select, or adding an additional class skill to the class.

Hexcrafter definitely adds items to the list of of available Magus Arcana. It's not even in question. It adds all witch hexes to the list of of Arcana that can be taken. There is no way to read it as not altering the entire Magus Arcana class feature in light of the FAQ.

Whether Bladebound is similarly as restrictive by taking away Familiar may be in question, but Hexcrafter is definitely not going to stack with either of the other two.


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Ahh. OK I can see where you are coming from. I never looked passed 'this replaces spell recall.'

1/5 Venture-Agent, Utah—Provo

GM Tyrant Princess wrote:
It's been acknowledged before that older sources didn't have those terms. Though I hadn't considered ruling exclusively on the basis of their presence, I suppose I can see why that would be easier.

Mark has commented that just because it doesn't clearly say it changes doesn't mean it doesn't change stuff. Those lines are helpers and nice things for the writer's to put in, but they aren't the official source.

1/5

FAQ wrote:
In general, if a class feature grants multiple subfeatures, it’s OK to take two archetypes that only change two separate subfeatures. This includes two bard archetypes that alter or replace different bardic performances (even though bardic performance is technically a single class feature) or two fighter archetypes that replace the weapon training gained at different levels (sometimes referred to as “weapon training I, II, III, or IV”) even though those all fall under the class feature weapon training.

The very first sentence in the FAQ is the relevant one. The second sentence in the FAQ gives examples.

Bladebound and Kensai only affect two separate subfeatures: the 3rd level arcana selection and the 9th level arcana selection.

ZᴇɴN wrote:

If the Bladebound archetype didn't list exactly which features are modified then I would think it would be up for debate whether or not the line about not being able to choose the Familiar arcana counts as modifying the parent Arcana feature.

However, the archetype does specify it.

Quote:
This ability changes the Arcane Pool class feature and replaces the magus arcana gained at 3rd level.
No mention there of altering the Magus Arcana class feature. It seems pretty likely to me that the line preventing you from selecting the Familiar arcana is there purely to tell you that you're not allowed to have a familiar in any way, and only calls out the arcana directly because it's the way a Magus would normally get a familiar.

The Bladebound archetype block the magus from getting a familiar from any source, not just from Arcana.

It blocks familiars from multiclassing, from eldritch heritage, and yes from Arcana.

This is not a modification to Arcana - this a restriction placed on the character regardless of source.

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