Changes to Class Feats and Archetypes


Classes

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Hello, everyone!

I hope I'm not speaking for myself, but one thing that I REALLY liked in the Playtest Rulebook was how archetypes were presented, especially the cavalier archetype. Pathfinder 1st Edition had a LOT of options that basically opened up mounted combat with an animal companion to any class, and the cavalier archetype does that really well too—effectively distilling the entire cavalier base class down into a single archetype that's appropriate for anyone.

This got me thinking, "Why isn't this idea implemented more uniformly across the Pathfinder Playtest?" Let me explain my thinking.

In Pathfinder 1st Edition, classes very rarely made you commit to specific fighting styles or abilities; classes like the cavalier, samurai, and gunslinger are exceptions rather than rules. If you wanted to specialize in, say, swordsmanship, you picked feats and other special abilities that anyone could take and used them to be the greatest swordsman in the land. Classes were largely about getting a related suite of abilities that supplemented or enhanced the fighting style that you built with your feats.

Currently in the Pathfinder Playtest, the opposite is true. Support for specific fighting styles is built into the classes, as opposed to being a thing anyone can qualify for. This has several problems. For one, without the appropriate list of fighter feats, a fighter can't really be as good at two-weapon fighting or archety as a ranger, even though the conceptual fantasy of a fighter (a master of weapons) versus a ranger (a master of the hunt) is very different. When there's crossover, what we've seen happen is that feats from one class are simply copy/pasted into a new class, usually at a prohibitively higher level (for example, the barbarian gets attack of opportunity, copy and pasted from the fighter).

In my opinion, this exacerbates several problems with the class system.

  • 1) Classes require you to invest in specific fighting styles, limiting player choice.
  • 2) As time rolls on and the design team eventually decides to expand more fighting styles into other classes, what will likely end up happening is a slew of "copy/paste" feats, where a rogue will get something that says like, "This feat lets you shoot two arrows at a time, as a ranger's double shot" or something similar. Psychologically, the community will react to this with shouts of, "Paizo is out of ideas!" even when the intent is simply to expand what classes have access to which fighting styles.
  • 3) Wordcount that could be used to develop more content is wasted copy/pasting feats.

An easy way to fix this issue is with the archetype rules currently in place in the game.

Picture this: instead of the current system, where every class has fighting styles pre-added to it, each fighting style was encapsulated by an archetype that only required you to take one or two feats before moving on to the next one. For example, let's say you want to be a two-weapon wielder. Currently you basically need to play a ranger for that, because the ranger class has all of the two-weapon fighting feats. But what if instead there was a Two-Weapon Wielder archetype that anyone could take that offered the Double Slice feat as its first entry feat, then gave the archetyped character the ability to pick options like Twin Parry, Twin Riposte, and so on.

Now, this approach does have a single problem: it would require a complete overall of the fighter class, as currently the fighter class has the same exact problem that it had in 1st Edition: the class has no identity because when you get right down to it, all it really does is get feats that other archetypes grant sooner.

Well, what if we play with this aspect of the fighter? What if the new archetypes had a fighting style tag, and the fighter got to automatically begin play with one fighting style archetype at 1st level? The fighter could automatically take feats from their chosen fighting style archetype sooner than other characters; maybe they reduced the level requirement by 4 levels or something similar, to a minimum level requirement of 1st level. Suddenly this would fix ALL of the potential issues with the archetype system: it would give the fighter an identity, remove the need to endless repackage the same feats in future books with a twist, and overall make archetypes an even more integral part of Pathfinder Playtest by essentially making an archetype a packaged feat chain, an inherent "progression list" that serves as a continent way for players to reference similar abilities across multiple levels and give new players a clear path of progression for their characters, so they know that if they want to pick up two axes and hack people to death with them, well, they could do worse than to pick the Two-Weapon Wielder archetype.

What do you guys think? I'd love to hear your thoughts as the Pathfinder Playtest enters the final month of its development.

Yours Truly,

Alexander Augunas, the Everyman Gamer


This would mean that no classes aside from fighter would have the option to take fighting style feats at first level. Though allowing archetypes to be taken from first level wouldn't be a hard change or it could be part of the fighting style tag.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I really dig this concept. I agree that this solution as proposed would open up a great number of benefits and customization while also freeing up precious space in the book. I would also make it so that any classes listed as traits for the feat/chain would be able to start the archetype but not be forced to finish it before moving on, as archetypes are currently written. For instance, making the Double Slice chain have the "fighting style" trait along with the "fighter" and "ranger" and it would allow fighters and rangers to both take just the first feat in the chain and then take other archetype (but not other fighting styles) feats while your two weapon rogue is bound by the normal requirement of taking a set number of feats before taking another archetype. While I like Alex's idea of the fighter getting early access, I would propose that one specialty of being a fighter is that it can dip into multiple fighting styles simultaneously where other classes should be forced to finish a fighting style before moving on to another fighting style.


I dig this too.
It would certainly solve a lot of problems I have with the way martial classes are put together.
My ideal Ranger is not a hunter as much as a guerilla warrior and scout.
I'd like to be able to express that in the class.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Yes, I rather have Archetypes be style/equipment based rather than the Classes be equipment locked.

Silver Crusade

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Personally I like the archetype style where it's "This class, but with a bit of this other class".

The best example is probably "...with a bit of rogue"; multiple classes that would let you pick up a reduced sneak attack progression as an Inquisitor, or Warpriest or Gunslinger, or whatever.

The 2nd multiclass system kinda does this, but a single sneak attack dice is rather disappointing.

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Milo v3 wrote:
This would mean that no classes aside from fighter would have the option to take fighting style feats at first level. Though allowing archetypes to be taken from first level wouldn't be a hard change or it could be part of the fighting style tag.

I think that's okay, to be honest. There are a bunch of places where PF 2nd Edition is designed to inherently benefit a person who takes a specific option over others.

For example, clerics have a list of 1st-level feats despite getting their first cleric feat at 2nd level because humans can use an ancestry feat to gain a class feat at 1st level, and there needs to be options for human clerics despite no other ancestry needing that list to exist.

Along the same lines, no one has skill feats aside from those gained from their background at 1st level except for the rogue, which is tolerated because rogues are supposed to be the best at skills.

Even if all fighting style dedication feats needed 2nd level, allowing some classes to gain access to them earlier would fit with those examples listed above.

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Randal M wrote:
I really dig this concept. I agree that this solution as proposed would open up a great number of benefits and customization while also freeing up precious space in the book. I would also make it so that any classes listed as traits for the feat/chain would be able to start the archetype but not be forced to finish it before moving on, as archetypes are currently written. For instance, making the Double Slice chain have the "fighting style" trait along with the "fighter" and "ranger" and it would allow fighters and rangers to both take just the first feat in the chain and then take other archetype (but not other fighting styles) feats while your two weapon rogue is bound by the normal requirement of taking a set number of feats before taking another archetype. While I like Alex's idea of the fighter getting early access, I would propose that one specialty of being a fighter is that it can dip into multiple fighting styles simultaneously where other classes should be forced to finish a fighting style before moving on to another fighting style.

Right. It could even be done something like this:

—The fighter gets a weapon training class feature that allows you to take as many fighting style dedication feats as you want (ignoring the usual requirements of all other feats), and allows you to count your total level as being 2 levels higher for the purpose of meeting the prerequisites of all feats with the fighting style tag.

—The ranger gets a combat style class feature that works as detailed above, but applies only to a single fighting style archetype.


I've been pushing for (something like) this in posts for a couple months now, I'm pretty sure its been discussed. I wasn't going a add anymore, but since you re-ignited the fire (and I had the following already written).

...

In my opinion, Class Feats add an unnecessary amount of bloat and confusion in 2nd edition and they will be reduced to being almost meaningless in the future (or worse – see below).

As currently designed Class Feats are a collection of feats themed around a specific class. At least, that is what you’d think. In reality-- Class Feats are often groups of feats related to an individual aspect of a class and then thrown together into a single pool.

The easiest example of this is the Fighter class. Imagine you’re making a bow focused Fighter, you will likely read through all of the Fighter Class Feats in order to find and select all of the archery related feats. This scenario is the same for a Ki-based Monk or a Wild Shape based Druid.

Now look into the future -- Paizo decides to make feats to support a whip-based Fighter. They have a choice: 1) Create multiple whip-themed Class Feats for the Fighter or 2) Create the “Whip Master” archetype. If they choose option 1, they will have more work to do -- because people want to play a whip-based Rogue or Bard. Do they add additional “class-customized” whip feats for those classes, and even more for the whip favored weapon cleric?

Doesn’t it make more sense to create the “Whip Master” archetype, and let the Fighter, Rogue, Bard or Cleric use their “Class Feats” on it.. and if that does make sense, shouldn’t we just design the game that way from the beginning? There is no need for pools of generic class feats, there is no need for class feats at all..

At some point in the future there will (hopefully) be hundreds of Archetypes, and people won’t even look through the lists of Class Feats [except to pick the “mandatory” ones, which will grow ever larger as new books are released – but I digress].

Your class should be the foundation, upon which you select one or more archetypes to create your customized theme. Each supplement would be “clean”.. a deity supplement with Clerics of XXX archetypes, a sea-based supplement with sea-based archetypes, etc…

Note: I would change the term “Archetype” to Discipline, and thus class progression tables would call out selecting Discipline feats instead of Class feats. We could then talk about the ABCD’s of character creation.

Note 2: Personally I would also cut down the spell lists and add them back (including more powerful versions) within Archetypes (Disciplines). Archetype restricted spells would be “uncommon” to others. That way you can not only cut down the number of spells people need to review to play a class, but also safely create more powerful (themed) spells. For instance a Necromancer archetype with powerful necromancy spells that a generic “Wizard” couldn’t automatically access.

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Rysky wrote:
Yes, I rather have Archetypes be style/equipment based rather than the Classes be equipment locked.

Me too! Having a class tell me what equipment I have to use to play it doesn't sound fun to me, and is in essence directly opposed to the spirit of what made Pathfinder 1E fun.

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Dean HS Jones wrote:

Personally I like the archetype style where it's "This class, but with a bit of this other class".

The best example is probably "...with a bit of rogue"; multiple classes that would let you pick up a reduced sneak attack progression as an Inquisitor, or Warpriest or Gunslinger, or whatever.

The 2nd multiclass system kinda does this, but a single sneak attack dice is rather disappointing.

I agree that the multiclass archetypes we currently have are disappointing. If I can dip into wizard and eventually get 8th level spells from doing so, I should be able to have more than a single sneak attack damage die.

That being said, I'm not proposing the removal of archetypes with the multiclass or prestige tags. Instead, I'm proposing the expansion of the system so that it adds some flavor to the fighter class while also tackling a design issue that makes it difficult to play the character you want in the system.

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Liir wrote:
Said lots of interesting stuff.

I think we're generally in agreement, Liir, that ultimately many classes seem to be built around the fantasy of the Iconic character (i.e. Harsk, Valeros, Seelah) than the class itself. This is likely why the PDT felt it necessary to redesign Valeros as a shield-using fighter (the fighter class doesn't really have many Two-Weapon options) or why the ranger class is filled with crossbow abilities (the iconic ranger, Harsk, uses a crossbow).

I think keeping the name as Archetypes is stronger for legacy reasons, and I also think that for most classes, its important that archetypes remain optional. You shouldn't have to pick up an archetype, even a fighting style archetype, if you don't want to. The point of my suggestion was to use existing mechanics to better organize feats that, realistically, are part of a fighting style fantasy as opposed to a class fantasy. (For example, "I block massive blows with my shield" is clearly part of the fighter and paladin fantasies, and I'd argue that it's just as valid a fantasy for barbarians, rangers, and even wizards, considering Aroden is a major part of the setting.)


Alexander Augunas wrote:
Liir wrote:
Said lots of interesting stuff.

I think we're generally in agreement, Liir, that ultimately many classes seem to be built around the fantasy of the Iconic character (i.e. Harsk, Valeros, Seelah) than the class itself. This is likely why the PDT felt it necessary to redesign Valeros as a shield-using fighter (the fighter class doesn't really have many Two-Weapon options) or why the ranger class is filled with crossbow abilities (the iconic ranger, Harsk, uses a crossbow).

I think keeping the name as Archetypes is stronger for legacy reasons, and I also think that for most classes, its important that archetypes remain optional. You shouldn't have to pick up an archetype, even a fighting style archetype, if you don't want to. The point of my suggestion was to use existing mechanics to better organize feats that, realistically, are part of a fighting style fantasy as opposed to a class fantasy. (For example, "I block massive blows with my shield" is clearly part of the fighter and paladin fantasies, and I'd argue that it's just as valid a fantasy for barbarians, rangers, and even wizards, considering Aroden is a major part of the setting.)

"Feat", to me, suggests something you can do.

"Archetype", on the other hand, is something you are.

Do I know a few tricks with a bow? I know a feat or two.

Am I one with my bow? Archer archetype.


Liir wrote:
Personally I would also cut down the spell lists and add them back (including more powerful versions) within Archetypes (Disciplines). Archetype restricted spells would be “uncommon” to others. That way you can not only cut down the number of spells people need to review to play a class, but also safely create more powerful (themed) spells. For instance a Necromancer archetype with powerful necromancy spells that a generic “Wizard” couldn’t automatically access.

I especially like this idea, especially if the Necromancer brings non-spell abilities of interest.


Alexander Augunas wrote:
<snip>... and I also think that for most classes, its important that archetypes remain optional. <snip>

I was stuck on this line (in agreement) for awhile, but if you look at what would likely happen I don’t see the necessity for class with no archetype.

Back to the fighter archer example, instead of picking Fighter class, reading the (currently) 7 feats and picking the archery-based one. You would pick the Fighter class, the Archer archetype and select from the 1 (or 2) available feats. Meanwhile the wizard archer could do the same thing -- instead of reading the Fighter class, fighter feats, multiclass rules, and creating a plan up to 4th+ level.

They could even have a little table in the Fighter class with “common” archetypes: Archer (page XXX), Stalwart Defender (page XXX), Skirmisher (page XXX), or review all the Archetypes starting on page XXX.

Also note that while I keep using the Archer example, I’m talking about all class feats. So for example the Druid could pick Archer, or one of the “common” druidic archetypes: Druid of the Leaf Order or Druid of the Animal Order (also in a pretty table).

In addition, Archetypes (if we stick to that name) are really just groups of feats, so you could have for example an Animal Companion "archetype" that any class could take, as well. Either way, as I explained in my original post.. I fully expect this to be the future -- this is only about the original core rulebook design.


Liir wrote:
In addition, Archetypes (if we stick to that name) are really just groups of feats, so you could have for example an Animal Companion "archetype" that any class could take, as well. Either way, as I explained in my original post.. I fully expect this to be the future -- this is only about the original core rulebook design.

I was coming at this from AGE system (Fantasy AGE-flavor, though Dragon AGE and Modern AGE both have influence here... I haven't read Blue Rose yet).

Depending on version, every level (or every other level) you can either gain a new talent at the Novice level, or upgrade an existing talent to Journeyman (or then to Master).

I have to admit, I like talents better than feats. You can still have varying amounts of advancement in them, but they are larger, more concrete blocks to work with.

Specializations are comparable to the PF2 archetypes we're talking about here, but are... just talents. Three steps each. You're constrained as to when you can take them, but otherwise they work pretty much the same way.

I expect you could model prestige classes in much the same way as archetypes/specializations, but that seems so obvious it's hardly worth mentioning.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Alexander Augunas wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Yes, I rather have Archetypes be style/equipment based rather than the Classes be equipment locked.
Me too! Having a class tell me what equipment I have to use to play it doesn't sound fun to me, and is in essence directly opposed to the spirit of what made Pathfinder 1E fun.

*nods*


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

First, I agree that it's abhorrent for Class to decide what fighting style my character uses. That's not, generally, what classes did in PF1e, and when they did I thought it was abhorrent then too. Gunslinger should have been a fighter archetype, for example.

The thing I want to keep calling attention to, though, is that in PF2e Class Feats contain basic class flavor abilities like Wild Shape, Divine Grace, Animal Companions, and more. The devs keep saying "Oh, we can build a universal archetype that grants any class access to different fighting style feats" but don't seem to acknowledge that dipping into an archetype to customize your fighting style 1. costs you class flavor abilities that you wouldn't have had to sacrifice in PF1e, and 2. delays your customization out many levels and locks you out of other archetypes.

In essence, I think we *need* out-of-class options for fighting style customization, *or* we need a lot more class feats (like, 1 every level and 2 at first level).


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I'm of the mind that at least 2 changes are needed to make things feel 'right'.
1) General Feats should be expanded to 10. (I favor rolling Ancestry Feats into General.)
2) Archetypes cost General Feats instead of Class Feats.

Combine that with the ideas presented above and you have a system that is both satisfying and reasonably flexible.


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LordVanya wrote:

I'm of the mind that at least 2 changes are needed to make things feel 'right'.

1) General Feats should be expanded to 10. (I favor rolling Ancestry Feats into General.)
2) Archetypes cost General Feats instead of Class Feats.

Combine that with the ideas presented above and you have a system that is both satisfying and reasonably flexible.

That sounds pretty reasonable to me, if you want to keep the class flavor dominant.

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kjdavies wrote:


"Feat", to me, suggests something you can do.

"Archetype", on the other hand, is something you are.

Do I know a few tricks with a bow? I know a feat or two.

Am I one with my bow? Archer archetype.

I understand what you're saying. What you want could probably be accomplished if they turned back the clocks and added weapon-focused feats to the list of general feats and got rid of the concept of skill feats.

For an idea like this to work in the current rules, however, having characters who want to be good at a specific fighting style specifically pick a corresponding archetype is the best way to keep fighting styles general between classes.


I'd love to see fighting styles be a non dedication requiring archetype (I.e. none of this "you need to take two others before picking another" stuff) and just have the classes provide your cool powers. Fighter might be a little weird with this, but things like inherent potency effects as a class feature and similar can make them feel unique still.

Personally, I think each class could a class feat upon every level up, rath we than just on even leveled ones to allow people to really customize their play style, but thats only a tangentally related topic

Sovereign Court

WHY AREN'T WE FUNDING THIS!!!

I was talking about the playtest with my brother and one of the things I dislike about the system is "Class Feats". It feels like we're forced to pick between my favorite children. For instance with bard you get a choice on 3 feat lines: Versatile Performance, Compositions, or Bardic Lore. We used to get all three by level 2, now we have to choose one. That sucks.

This type of system would work much better for the game imho.


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Milo v3 wrote:
This would mean that no classes aside from fighter would have the option to take fighting style feats at first level.

I feel like the game in general needs some kind of mechanic for "archetypes which are accessible at first level" since a lot of PF1 archetypes were about "you are a different kind of thing" not "you have special training" (e.g. classes with alternative casting, kineticists with alternate elements, chosen one Paladins, Dual Cursed Oracles, etc.)

If we can carve out space for "everyone can start with an archetype" we can make this work with style archetypes.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I have to agree with the OP. I was really looking forward to PF2e but some of the design choices have me scratching my head.

I would rather more feats were general and then have class options that you choose between (more like oracle revelations etc). Cool tricks available to your class.

The amount on bloat in class progression tracks feels like a step backwards. The automatically getting better at everything each level doesn't feel good. It just feels like micromanagement and a lot of tedious re-numbering of everything. It doesn't add to the experience or make me feel like I am getting stronger at all. Worse it takes away from the things I feel I invested in with my character when another character who has no training in a skill is can succeed close to as often as a character I worked to get mastery in.

Mechanically its almost the same as 5e in the difference between having proficiency in a skill (with mostly static not based on level challenges) and not having proficiency. There isn't really a hell of a lot of difference after the math is done. Having +3 because I am in proficient at something with a flat DC of 15 to succeed at any level is pretty much the same outcome. I would rather mastery in a skill just gave me the better options rather than the number crunching bloat.

I have been a huge fan of PF for years. I strongly disliked 4e and I feel this is a huge step towards it and is losing the soul of what made PF a great system.


Kind of agree with some sentiment of OP, although don't see it as "hard" issue, if Classes themselves offer some unique 'fighting style' feats, I don't see a problem per se.

But this does get back to entire concept of "Class Feats" ALREADY being inaccurately named - There already are "Class Feats" that having nothing to do with any Class. So why push the name so hard? Pathfinder 1st Edition doesn't have multiple tiers of Feat, it just has Feats, some of which may be Class-specific. Not really confusing AFAIK. Getting away from that misleading nomenclature also opens up idea that "General", "Skill", and even "Ancestry" Feats may in fact have Class-specific Pre-Reqs or Functionality - WHY NOT? It's not even a matter of whether they do so in CRB or not, the door is ALWAYS open to do so in future products, the only difference is whether the nomenclature will be misleading or not.

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