Building a Solo Character


Advice


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So, though pathfinder is not built to run solo campaigns, I am hoping to begin a solo campaign and would like to get some advice on possible character builds. PLEASE do NOT come in just to post how it's not possible/reasonable/stupid to do a solo adventure. I understand it's not intended and that this will be a challenge.

I don't think this will be a super intriguey or social game, mostly it will probably be exploring, hiring out as a mercenary, dungeon crawl etc. However I do expect that my character will have to do a fair amount to talking as he will be the only character to be the face.

I will be making the character, and here are some of the preferences I have.

No pet-centric/summon-centric play. I Understand that it is a great way to add action economy and is an effective way to have a party when you don't have a party. But I don't enjoy that style of play. This donesn't mean I can't have a pet, but I don't want a pet or summon to be a main focus of my combat portion of play.

NG or CG alignment. Again this is a preference.

Viable from level 1. Play will begin at level 1, so a noodle armed wizard ins't going to fly (probably). I need to be able to get along by myself as a level 1 character.

Versatility is key. I prefer a character that can get involved in most situations. Multiclassing, VMC, Prestige classes, hybrid classes all are options.

Initial ideas:
- Archaeologist bard, maybe with a level or two of a martial class.
- Psychic detective, maybe with a martial dip, this could cover everything except healing, maybe address this with a dip or other option to backfill.
- Questioner investigator, handles everything, but lacks armor, which could make the low levels very tough.
- Inquisitor or some sort
- Cleric of some sort, lacks skills in general though making that portion very difficult
- Oracle, same problem as cleric

So what are some ideas that I haven't come up with? What are the merits of each? THanks


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'd probably go with Inquisitor as being about the most well rounded and balanced class without any weaknesses and with most of the bases covered.


My recommendation is an inquisitor with the conversion inquisition.
You'll be able to fight effectively with melee or ranged, have some good buff and heal spells, a good selection of skills (including knowledges and socials) that can be expanded to fill in ones that are missing pretty easily with traits, and the conversion inquisition lets you use wis instead of cha for social stuff to keep the build from getting to MAD.
Downside is the solo tactics class feature is completely useless without other people in the party


Dave Justus wrote:
I'd probably go with Inquisitor as being about the most well rounded and balanced class without any weaknesses and with most of the bases covered.

Any particular build or archetypes?

Also I forgot to mention nature bonded magus and puppetmaster magus as another couple of options I'd seen that might work.


baggageboy wrote:

- Cleric of some sort, lacks skills in general though making that portion very difficult

- Oracle, same problem as cleric

Druid then?

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

For inquisitor, the sanctified slayer archetype is pretty solid for solo adventuring. You essentially trade out Judgements for sneak attack and the Slayer's Studied Target ability. While the sneak attack may not be so helpful for solo work, Studied Target is likely to get more mileage than Judgement due to having no limit of usage. You also get some Slayer talents along the way, which can add to utility.

The only teamwork feat that really works without additional allies is Broken Wing Gambit, but that can make things a bit dicey when you're on your own. There are a couple of additional archetypes that could pair with the Sanctified Slayer archetype that trade out teamwork feats and Solo Tactics. The Cloaked Wolf gets bonus abilities to avoid surprises and betrayal (potentially good for mercenary entanglements). The Spellbreaker gets some abilities that help with combating arcane magic.

As an additional option, there's also the Eldrich Scoundrel rogue archetype, which is a rogue with arcane casting capabilities. However, if you expect to be operating on your own most of the time, the archaeologist bard may be more ideal as once again, sneak attack isn't quite as effective without flanking partners.


I second (third?) the Inquisitor suggestion. Personally, I'd use the Sacred Huntsmaster. Having a companion around is very useful. It could easily be a horse, or other such mount.


I like sticking with the vanilla inquisitor personally because losing judgements means losing versatility which is one of the things i like most about the class.
As for builds... I'm not sure what to recommend here. Inquisitors make fine archers because they have a number of buffs to help counter their 3/4 bab but I would think a solo archer would be pretty easy pickings so you'd might want to go with a melee build. Maybe a weapon finesse switch hitting build? You could go with Cayden or Besmara as a god to get proficiency with a rapier in that case.
This could be one of the places where trading the judgements out makes sense now that i think about it. If you trade judgements for sanctified slayer, you can build basically a ranger switch hitter and if you trade it for sacred huntsmaster you can have your companion be up in melee while you arch from the back.


Going to offer a strange idea, how about a Druid/Wizard Mystic Theurge? If you start druid you'll have CLW to help out and be able to rely on Produce Flame for a combat or two. If you go with an animal companion that is a body to split the enemy with. But since you said you don't like the pet centric playstyle how about going with Druid Herbalism instead? That way you'll be able to stock free potions to help get you through tough encounters.

The other Mystic Theurge build that would be tempting would be a Sorcerer/Oracle build. Charisma is your only stat that matters, though int for extra skills is a good idea too. Or you could choose the Lore Mystery and make all of your knowledge skills based on charisma.

Either way you'd need to be more blaster than most other casters since ultimately you need damage to win. On the other hand, spells like Charm Person and Charm Monster would allow you to neutralize an enemy and maybe gain a temporary party member or at least an informant. Since you are solo you should be using hit and run tactics no matter what you decide to do, and that goes along very well with the caster's ability to alpha strike with their best spells, and then retire for the day. Though if you go for the druid/wizard combo above you could specialize in a 3rd level spell and then use Druid Herbalism to make a bunch of potions that let you cast a 'free' 3rd level spell. Especially if you bring your Druid level up to 7.


I appreciate the feedback everyone, but remember one of my preferences is no pet-centric combat. (Not upset, just a brief reminder, I do understand it make so much sense I'm hadicapping myself not wanting to, but I'm ok with that.)

The sanctified slayer was one of the things that I had seen as a possibility, esp with the conversion inquisition making you a solid face even with completely dumped charisma. I have been worried there about a dependence on sneak attack which is chancy enough without being by yourself. Also teamwork feats are basically useless when you don;t have a team, so the archetypes that trade those away would definitely be a necessity.

As far as full caster theurge builds go, idk if surviving the first few levels is going to be very easy with anything that is going to be based very strongly off a casting stat or two.

The druid with herbalism sounds interesting, but I don't know much about it. Not being able to wear metal armor is a bit of a pain though. Idk, I'll have to look into that further.


While I agree that inquisitor is well rounded... it might be too well rounded. Unfortunately, there are key problems to solo adventures that are hard to solve alone- dealing with conditions and action economy. These core problems of generally getting through combat means you need to hit them hard to do well in this system.

The inquisitor has access to cleric spells for treating conditions, it comes at a later level, there are less spell slot to spare, and you are a spontaneous caster (thus you need to spend spells known).

Action economy is a major problem that has to be overcome as well. The traditional answer to this problem is "summon a bunch of monsters". This runs into the same spell problem- slots and level.

As such, I would advise a cleric. While yes, you miss out on skill points (although it isn't too hard to patch to 4 skill points as a human and 12 int/8 cha), there are only a handful of skills that are "essential" (like perception). You can muddle through without knowledge skills (maybe get the knowledge domain?), and a lot of other spells can cover skills in certain situations (aether elementals give the party scout a good run for his money... low level spell slot, and it both invisible and disposable).


It is definitely a challenge being solo, I mean, one blown save and it's over. Conditions are a problem for any character by themselves. I think there are two ways to deal with them, either you spend a bunch on consumables to deal with conditions as they arise, or use spells, or some of both.

Action economy is harder to solve, especially with my desire to avoid summoning an army or having a full time pet. The spell combat a magus offers seems like a good way to mitigate that somewhat, but idk if the class as a whole is a fit.

As far as skill go what are the most important skills my list looks like this but is somewhat uninformed:

Perception
Diplomacy
Sense Motive
Disable Device
UMD (great if it fits)

Then,
Knowledge Local
Knowledge Arcana
Knowledge Dungioneering
Knowledge Religion
Knowledge Nature
Bluff
Intimidate
Survival
Spellcraft
Knowledge Planes

Then,
Acrobatics
Stealth

Then,
Other Knowledges
Lingustics
Climb
Swim
Etc.


One thing I've been considering as well is having a familiar with the sage and figment archetypes. This would help alleviate the burden of knowledge skills somewhat. Which could help with the overall skills burden quite a bit.

Grand Lodge

Unchained Monk 1 / Druid x, Focus on wildshaping. At level 1 you cast shillelagh on a quarterstaff and go to town. At level 5 you pick up Shaping Focus, and can take up to three more levels of Monk if you want. You'll have versatile spells- vomit swarm is always useful when you realize enemies you're fighting have no options vs bees.
If I went that route, I'd look at picking a druid domain that gave a familiar, for the Sage archetype.
At higher levels, I would just wildshape into an earth elemental and scout every dungeon, pop out of walls for surprise rounds, etc.


An empiricist investigator could be good too. Can be built to use int for a bunch of skills, gets umd for wands and scrolls, gets alchemy stuff for buffs and bombs. Comparable drawbacks to the inquisitor though.

Ya know... an aether kinetic knight gets you all the skills at the top of your list and can be built to be tanky as heck since kineticists dont need much in the way of feat or magic item support. A fate's favored/sacred tattoo half orc, with a cloak of resistance, and the elemental whispers talent can get some solid saves too.

Will this character be starting at level 1?


Yes, the character will be played from level 1.

I like the investigator as a class, empiricist is a solids archetype I should consider.

I hadn't consmidered wildshaping, I'll have to look into that more.


Syries wrote:

Unchained Monk 1 / Druid x, Focus on wildshaping. At level 1 you cast shillelagh on a quarterstaff and go to town. At level 5 you pick up Shaping Focus, and can take up to three more levels of Monk if you want. You'll have versatile spells- vomit swarm is always useful when you realize enemies you're fighting have no options vs bees.

If I went that route, I'd look at picking a druid domain that gave a familiar, for the Sage archetype.
At higher levels, I would just wildshape into an earth elemental and scout every dungeon, pop out of walls for surprise rounds, etc.

Hmm, yes. This has a lot of promise as well. I built something similar, but with Ranger instead, to stack my favored enemy and wildshape uses. Was planning it for Hell's Vengeance, if we ever get back to it.


For solo play, I've personally been a fan of 2 rogue/X ranger with an animal companion.

All the skills you'd ever want, flanking with companion, Favored Enemy and terrain, evasion...and the list goes on.

Tougher than an inquisitor, able to use healing wands, and eventually some great buff/utility spells.


Out of curiosity, have you considered a Gestalt character? It would shore up weaknesses for the character, and allow more variety in situation approach. It's something my table does alot since we're a fairly small group (2-3 players, plus DM).


Divine tracker/Wild hunter/Trapper ranger?


I only have a cursory familiarity with gestalt characters. While that seems like a great way to do a solid build I think it would be outside of what I'm looking to do.

A ranger covers several bases, but I think falls short on face skills and self healing skills if you give up spell casting. Idk... it does to a lot of good otherwise.


Hmm, how does a Nature Fang druid sound? They get the option for Familiar (via domains), Companion, or Druidic Herbalism, and start picking up slayer talents at level 4. Until then, they get studied target to make up for the lower BAB. Might have an issue with the 'face' aspect but spreading around traits and having slightly higher intelligence might help with that. They won't be too dependent on feats (they pick up decent ones through talents, like ranger fighting styles) and you could easily afford a VMC option to expand your versatility.


Solo build, i think you should go with cleric.
You're a full caster, but with more than decent melee option.
If you're going with 25 points, i'd create an aasimar cleric, with 14 str/dex/con 16 wis/cha and 10 int.
It's not the most optimised build, but you can basically start with 20 ac (chain mail + shield + dex) and enought attack to 2 shot most ennemies.
Cleric will enable you to have access to a huge panel of spells, and be not bad in combat, starting level 1.

If you want something more combat heavy, you can go with a tiefling (demonspawn) paladin (vengeance) with fey foundling as first feat.
You can get a pretty decent AC quite fast, have big damage, and insane self healing. (basically you get 1D6+4 lay on hands per 2 level) Also big charisma so you should be ok in terms of "face"

If you want something more hybrid, but with better fighting power than the cleric, you can go for a half orc combat druid. Max Strength, decent wis and con, take a big cat pet, and you'll tag team pounce every baddy in town. At first level, just use a spear and have your pet help you.
At level 4 you can start wildshaping. At level 7, when you have access to large animals and your pet evolved, you get double dose 5 attacks per rounds, with possibility to buff etc ...

Lastly, my personal favourite, with a wizard (either foresight or teleport). First levels would be a bit difficult, but as soon as you hit level 3 you'll start to be dangerous. At 5 you'll come online. At 9 you're god :)

Sovereign Court

I strongly believe that Fighter is the most versitile class in the game due to the amount of feats they get. They fill the roles youre looking for and with the amount of feats found within pathfinder now you have nearly limitless options.


I've been wanting to flesh this out, It's quite simple really.

So you start two levels in Paladin right? Then you grab some brawler levels to get flurry. A dip in swash for good measure all while going VMC Barbarian. Playable at first and it only gets better. Another option is to VMC Cavalier Order of the Star to add half your level to lay on hands and grab challenge. Paladins are tough to kill and dipping in other classes for profit will make dying even harder. Inquisitors are probably better though.

Paladin 2 / Brawler 2 / Swashbuckler 1 / Paladin 3+ VMC Barbarian or Cavalier.


May I ask how a familiar is different from a companion in terms of 'full-time pet?'


There's an inquisitor archetype that gives you an animal companion, and some of the hunter mechanics in place of judgement.

Sacred Huntsmaster

I'd make one of those, with perhaps a flying companion you could ride.


baggageboy wrote:
It is definitely a challenge being solo, I mean, one blown save and it's over.

Having DM'ed for a single player, this was actually the biggest problem.

no back-up.
No-one to save you when you roll that '1' at the worst possible time.
That was pretty rough.


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So as I see it, you will sooner or later fail a save. I'd make a character immune to as many conditions possible, even death from loss of hit points.

NG Human Arcane Primalist Bloodrager 12:

Racial Traits:
Bonus Feat
Dimdweller (Darkvision 60 ft)

Traits:
Caretaker (Heal as class skill and +1)
Resilient Martyr (triples effect of natural healing)

Feats:
1. Healer's Hands, Planar Heritage (Sylph)
3. Wanderer's Fortune
5. Signature Skill (Heal)
6. Power Attack(B)
7. Airy Step
9. Wings of Air, Improved Initiative(B)
11. Inner Breath
12. Iron Will(B)

Endurance (B) - Ioun Stone

Class Abilities:
Fast Movement (+10)
Improved Uncanny Dodge
DR 2/-
Greater Bloodrage
Spells
Bloodline

Arcane Bloodline:
Disruptive Bloodrage Bloodline Familiar (Sage/Figment Compsognathus)
Arcane Bloodrage (Resist Energy 30)
Greater Arcane Bloodrage (Displacement)
Caster’s Scourge Internal Fortitude + Deathless Frenzy

Magic Items:
Mind Buttressing Armor
Band of the Stalwart Warrior
Padma Blossom (Normally carried by your familiar)
Flawed Scarlet and Green Cabochon
Ring of Sustenance

Cloak of Resistance, Gloves of Healing, Furious Scimitar, Retrained HP (if possible), Bead of Newt Prevention (a couple), Healer's Satchel (to heal Ability Drain), Locked Gauntlet.

Potion of Placebo Effect (to avoid Paralysis and the Staggered conditions, fed to you by your familiar.)

****

If you're starting at a lower level, then It could be smart to take Power Attack earlier, and retrain it to on of the other feats at level 6. Also, no need to use a one-handed weapon before you have the Padma Blossom.

****

This character would be immune to:
Mental Control
Fatigued/Exhausted
Sickened/Nauseated (clears these conditions while raging)
Panicked and Frightened.
Death from HP loss (for 1 round)

If Blossom is grasped:
Confused, Dazed and Stunned, all fear effects and morale effects.

Limited use per day (Wanderer's Fortune):
Grappled, Pinned, Magical Constraints

You would be able to heal yourself (as a full-round action) for a scaling amount of HP and ability damage a number of times equal to your level.
(30 at lv 5, 120 at lv 10, 144 at lv 12)

Also, you don't need to eat, drink, sleep or breathe. And at level 9, you'll get a flying speed without time limit.

Weakness: Burst of Ability Drain, Negative Levels and probably other things I haven't thought of.


Heather 540 wrote:
May I ask how a familiar is different from a companion in terms of 'full-time pet?'

Sure, it's a good question. There are two things for me, one a familiar is not usually a major portion of combat. Yes I know that with the mauler archetype they can be, but that is an exception and not one I'm looking to do.

The second reason why a familiar is diferent is the availability of the figment archetype. With that you can't really lose your pet, it just comes back the next day.

A pet isn't terrible, I just don't want one that is the main focus of combat. Having a free horse is cool, But mounts are out as well as they require a certain combat style that I'd like to avoid. Idk if that makes sense.


Ok, that makes sense.


You may want to look into a geokinetiscist(sp?) as you'll want good survivability, the ability to hit and run, as well as ways to retreat if things go south.

You'll have High CON to not die, all day ranged attacks that deal decent damage, and very few enemies are going to be able to follow you if you head underground with earth glide.

You can even pick up kinetic blade if you're afraid of enemies rushing you in melee.


A dip in Inspired Blade Swashbuckler is great for melee dex builds. Free Weapon Finesse and Weapon Focus Rapier, which means you just need to take Fencing Grace and you have Dex-to-Damage at level one if you want. You only regain panache on crits but rapiers have a decent crit range which can be doubled with Keen or Improved Critical easily. And you can still parry.


Wonderstell wrote:
So as I see it, you will sooner or later fail a save.

That was what I saw anyway.

And with no back-up, even relatively low-level spells can become "Save or End Story".

Your Milage May Differ as the say.


Honestly, its a solo campaign. The GM shouldn't throw anything that has a save or helpless thing at the player unless the creature intends to toy with the player. Running a solo game means the GM has to sculpt encounters around that one player. Or its game over.


So I thought I would give an update to anyone who was interested in how this all turned out. I ended up picking a phantom blade as my class. We'll see how it all goes. A friend of mine who's doing the same campaign, also solo is using the living grimoire. I'll let everyone know how they do.

I'll post my build later for anyone who want's to critique it.


So here is my guy. 20 pt build, 2 extra traits in return for a nuance (-2 on all cha skills, luck of the draw).

I made this choice in an effort to minimize blown saves, and maximize action economy while still having some flexibility for healing and skills. It's not perfect, but I'm hoping it will do.

Spoiler:

Neutral Good Medium Half-Orc Spiritualist(Phantom Blade) 1;

Racial Traits: Sacred Tattoo, Fey Thoughts, Burning Assurance

Traits: Empathetic Diplomat, Fate's Favored, Trap Finder, Two-World Magic(Brand)

Init 2; Senses Darkvision; Perception: +8

DEFENSE
AC 18, touch 12, flat-footed 16 (Four Mirror Armor)
hp 9
Fort 5, Ref 4, Will 6

OFFENSE
Speed: 20 ft.
Melee: Harbored Phantom Blade Unarmed Strike +5 (1d6+4), Scimitar +5 (1d6+6 18-20), Club +4 (1d6+6 ), Dagger +4 (1d4+4 19-20),

Ranged: Sling +2 (1d4+4 ),

Spiritualist spells known (CL 1; concentration +7)
1st (2/day)- Cure Light Wounds (DC 13); Shield (DC 13);

0th (at will)- Brand (DC 12); Detect Magic (DC 12); Guidance (DC 12); Telekinetic Projectile (DC 12);

STATISTICS
Str 18, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 7
Base Atk + +0; CMB +4; CMD 16

Feats Alertness; Combat Casting;

SQ ; Knacks; Phantom Weapon; Spell Combat;

Skills Diplomacy +8; Disable Device +7; Heal +6; Knowledge (local) +5; Perception +8; Sense Motive +8;

Equipment 10x Oil, lamp; 10x Spike, iron; 2x Bullet(s), sling (10); 2x Flask; 2x Rope, hemp (50 ft.); 2x Vial, iron; 2x Waterskin; 3x Marbles; 4x Sack; 4x String or twine (50 ft.); 5x Chalk (1 piece); 5x Piton; 5x Torch; 7x Rations, trail; Backpack, common; Bandolier; Bedroll; Caltrops; Case, scroll; Flint and steel; Hammer; Hook, grappling, common; Kit, mess; Ladder, folding; Pole, folding; Pouch, belt; Saw; Soap; Whistle, signal;

Grand Lodge

Good luck! Phantom blade is a very interesting choice (Definitely not what I would have picked; in a solo campaign I would definitely go about getting a familiar for some backup)

You have decent stats, and having access to the shield spell will help significantly too. I would consider going Dex-based and picking up the Dervish Dance feat; doing so will allow you to focus on one physical stat rather than two for both AC, attack, and damage. You would also have room to bump Con to 14 or Wis to 16.

Dark Archive

Warpriest or paladin have the best survivability due to swift action heals and buffs as well as heavy armor proficiency. I'd take fey foundling as my first feat. Inquisitor is also pretty good but a bit squishier. Some more interesting options are a nagaji naga aspirant druid for some arcane spell goodness and the possibility of a free pet or a domain or a heavens oracle. A witch that focuses on hexes could be interesting too since they can heal themselves or blast away with spells in a pinch.


One thing about being solo is that you have to carry everything you may want to use. At higher levels that isn't really an issue, but starting at level 1 I decided that the extra feats required and the low carry capacity of a dex focused character were going to be too onerous. Phantom blade is an odd choice. I was hoping to grab a familiar, but the phantom precludes it, at least if I am reading it right. Still the overall effect of decent skill if not great, good saves and a decent spell list with only 1 real weakness after level 4 is pretty good.


I know it goes against your preferred alignments, but Paladin would probably have a higher survivability rate in a solo game. High saves, high charisma, swift action heals on the spot. Throw some points into UMD for a wand or two and you should slide into at least 5th level with relative ease. I could help with archetypes if you're not opposed to the idea.


Have you considered Synthesist Summoner? It doesn't have the focus on other creatures that a normal Summoner does, but it does give you a great extra pool of HP and the opportunity to get generally good stats overall. It can also be flavored in neat ways, such as summoning up holy armor or something.

Failing that, a 3/4ths BAB class is probably your best bet. Decent set of spells, skills, and class options.


So first to respond to some more suggestions (all of which are very appreciated).

Paladin is a very good class for covering 3 of the 4 bases as I see it. They do good damage, heal, and be a good face. They have great saves which is a big key as well. The one way they fall short is skills. They have no dependence on intelligence, and quite MAD. Also their skill list is very slim. Some of these things can be mitigated and I'd be interested in seeing how a person would try to cover all the bases. I'm not saying that they aren't capable, just pointing out what I see as a weakness.

The synthesist summoner is also a good suggestion, but I feel it falls into the same category as the paladin in lacking skills.

Now for an update on how things are going.

We played through our first session last night. Things went well. It turns out I am playing God's Mouth Heresy with a few modifications. So mostly a dungeon crawl, at least for the first bit. I will be leveling inside the dungeon as opposed the the usual only outside, so it should possibly be doable. I probably could have picked a better class than what I did given the setting being known now, but I have hopes that this will continue later so I'm not too upset.

I managed to not die and collected enough exp to make level 2 at the end of the session, so since we are doing max hp I now have 18hp and am feeling a lot safer, if still in ever present mortal danger lol.

I'll post a summary of what's happened so far later.

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