Hello! I've created a Puppetmaster Magus that I wanted to share so I could get some criticism on it. Ideas on what to change, what to add to make it better, and to point out anything that won't work as intended.
I always liked the idea of the Enchantment spells and Illusion spells but they've never seemed to be good enough on their own. Then I discovered the puppetmaster archetype and realized I can put illusion and enchantment together along with a character that can actually fight in melee when the spells run out or are ineffective.
The idea is to run around with a cruel agile rapier which will eventually get critical focus. I'll take a level in rogue and the Accomplished Sneak Attacker feat along with the spell Sense Vitals to make myself hit like a rogue. I'll also take the Arcane Deed: Precise Strike and Piranha Strike for more damage. I hope all of this will make me an effective melee combatant.
In addition I plan on taking Arcane Deed: Menacing Swordplay, the Bruising Intellect trait, the Skill Focus: Intimidation feat, and a cruel weapon to Shaken and Sicken enemies that I hit to help butter them up for my spells.
As for the spells, I plan on having two illusions of myself walking around with me most of the time. I accomplish the first one by casting extended Heroism on myself(using a rod) and use The Show Must Go On to keep the spell Major Image going as a free action. I accomplish the second by taking the Familiar Arcana, then taking the Familiar Concentration feat which lets my familiar take over on a concentration spell(Major Image).
As far as spells go I've got the normal stuff you'd think of for an archetype based on illusion and enchantment. I can spend an arcane pool point to increase Illusion spell DCs by 2 and with feats/racials increase Enchantment spell DCs by 2 as well. With a high intelligence and the ability to shaken/sicken I'm hoping a lot of things will fail.
Other stuff include my familiar being a Margay cat with the Prankster archetype for some fun extra illusion spells. Plus I just wanted to have a cat. I can also hide/feint with the fey prankster rogue archetype I took with a move action. I'm not sure how much I'll use that though, it was just the best I found to replace Trap Finding. I also took the elvish racial Sense Thoughts. I figured it was pretty thematic to be able to read people's minds every once in a while. I took the Fey-taken drawback to go with the rogue archetype and have a backstory where I was kidnapped by Fey in my youth. Follow the god Cayden Cailean because of the rapier and how well it fits just about everything.
Eldrin Arathas - Lvl 10 Puppetmaster Magus / Lvl 1 Fey Prankster Rogue
STR: 10 DEX: 18 CON: 14 Int: 24 WIS: 12 CHA: 8
HP: 103, AC: 25 (29 with shield), Fort: +12, Ref: +12, Will: +11
Intimidate: +27, Bluff: +18
Rogue) Weapon Finesse
1) Spell Focus: Enchantment
3) Accomplished Sneak Attacker
5) Extra Arcana: Arcane Deed - Precise Strike
Bonus) Skill Focus: Intimidation
7) Piranha Strike
9) Extra Arcana: Familiar
11) Familiar Concentration
3) Flamboyant Arcana
6) Arcane Deed: Menacing Swordplay
9) Hasted Assault
Traits: Bruising Intellect, Armor Expert, Group Fighter
Racial: Sense Thoughts (Detect Thoughts), Arcane Focus (+2 Defensive Casting), Keeper of Secrets (+1 Enchantment Spell DC)
Level 4 - Dominate Person, Greater Invisibility
Level 3 - Confusion, Charm Monster, Major Image, Displacement, Fly, Vampiric touch
Level 2 - Heroism, Hold Person, Cacophonous Call, Mirror Image, Sense Vitals, Blistering Invective, Gallant Inspiration(bought), Fog Cloud(bought)
Level 1 - Charm Person, Hideous Laughter, Sow Thought, Color Spray, Silent Image, Vanish, True Strike, Ventriloquism, Shield, Liberating Command, Magic Missile
Other Abilities: Treacherous Plants, Spell Recall, Charm Strike, Opportune Parry and Riposte, Derring Do, Spell Combat
Items: Headband of Vast Intellect +4, +1 Agile Cruel Rapier, Belt of Physical Might +2 (Con/Dex), +2 Mithral Breastplate, Ring of Protection +2, Amulet of Natural Armor +1, Cloak of Resistance +3, Lesser Rod of Extend, Pearl of Power lvl 2, Wand of Cure Light Wounds, Wand of Shield
Arcane deed has been nerfed so that your swashbuckler level is zero, always. Precise strike won't work for you.
SLAs use Cha for their save DC. Sense thoughts will suck for you.
Your magus bonus feats are combat feats, metamagic or item creation, not skill focus.
You're sure to want mobility. Bladed dash may help a lot.
Are you starting at level 11 or building up to it?
Detect thoughts uses CHA... that is unfortunate. I guess losing that isn't a big deal, it was mostly thematic. I could always take it as a spell if I really wanted to keep it. I'll probably switch it out for moon touched.
Good call on the type of feat. I'll have to move things around to different levels to get Skill Focus. Shouldn't be too much of a problem I hope.
Interesting on Piranha Strike. I saw 'light blades' in the description of rapier and assumed it was a light weapon. As I'm not playing PFS I'll probably pick up the Effortless Lace as I really like the idea of the rapier and I'm not sure what I'd switch to otherwise. If there is another good choice of weapon please let me know.
The hardest hit here is the loss of Precise Strike. I kind of needed that to get any kind of melee damage. I'd drop Flamboyant Arcana too but I want to hold onto Menacing Swordplay. Any ideas on a feat or Arcana to take to replace Precise Strike that will help me in melee? I could also potentially change my Haste Arcana and hope someone in the party ends up using haste a lot.
I do plan on playing this character from level 1.
The fencing grace feat is probably the easiest way to get some damage back, adding your dex to damage. Problem: it doesn't work with spell combat. Dervish dance (which also adds dex to damage) hasn't been specifically nerfed that way so you might find yourself using an effortless laced-scimitar.
Charmstrike and your limited spell combat seem to cut you out of the usual magus damage sources. I suppose you could still use shocking grasp or frostbite and just deliver them via unarmed strikes or as touch attacks. It's not going to be as good as the usual magus though, and it'd take a few levels to be good unless you threw two traits and at least one feat at one spell.
Ok let's see about switching some of this stuff around. Say I go scimitar.
1) I take Dervish Dance at level 5 replacing Precise Strike.
2) I can make my weapon +2 instead +1 agile so I gain an extra to-hit and an extra damage.
3) I take the Ancestral Weapon trait instead of group fighter for an extra +1 to hit at all times instead of just flanking.
With all of this, assuming a normal full attack during spell combat and using my haste arcana, I'll be attacking with +15/+15/+10, 1d6+6. If I'm flanking I add an extra 2d6 to that. If I have Sense Vitals active it'll be an extra 5d6 instead.
The above does not include Piranha Strike. I'm not sure I can afford the penalty to hit from it. I'm also considering not taking Skill Focus. Is it really necessary? Bruising Intellect and a high Intelligence might be enough there. Should I drop those two feats and if I do what should I replace them with?
I'll probably avoid the usual shocking grasp and frostbite for now.
Interesting on Piranha Strike. I saw 'light blades' in the description of rapier and assumed it was a light weapon. As I'm not playing PFS I'll probably pick up the Effortless Lace as I really like the idea of the rapier and I'm not sure what I'd switch to otherwise. If there is another good choice of weapon please let me know
Yeah it's kind of a weird weapon, I don't know why they didn't just make it light (I guess so you can't dual-wield them as well?). You could just talk to your GM, they might just let you use Piranha Strike. Otherwise Power Attack only needs 13 STR, so that should be doable. If you want to try a different weapon the Kukri is only ~1 point less damage and has the 18-20 crit-range (and is a light weapon).
I don't see you using your swift actions in the build. [I dont know magus very much.] If they are routinely available, consider Arcane Strike, which opens up Gloves of Arcane Striking. At 11th level, this will get you +3 damage from the feat to the target, and 3 damage to any enemy adjacent to the target as well.
I've switched to a scimitar. I'd prefer the rapier but I don't want to worry about getting an agile weapon as well as the lace. I'm going to take Dervish Dance at level 6 since I need a combat feat there and move Skill Focus to replace Precise Strike at level 5. I'm going to remove Piranha Strike because I don't think I can afford the penalty to attack. Spell combat and 3/4 BAB are already hurting me there. I'm going to replace it with Improved Initiative just because I can't think of anything better.
Since I'm going with Improved Initiative I'm switching to a Jerboa familiar for a total of +8 extra to my Initiative. I'm also making the familiar a figment. Makes sense for me to have an illusion familiar. Plus I gave him reach so he can flank with me to help with the sneak attack damage.
I don't want to use Power Attack because I'd have to go STR. I don't want to go Arcane Strike because I feel I have enough swift actions such as Charmed Strike, Spell Recall, and Haste Arcana.
I also switched the rogue archetype to Thug so I can get an extra round out of demoralizing people with Menacing Swordplay.
For lvl 12 and 13 feats I plan on taking Improved Critical and Dimensional Agility to full attack after using Dimension Door during Spell Combat. Almost no need for the rest of that chain as a Magus.
My next big question I guess is confirmation that the illusion thing I'm planning will work.
1) I use extended Heroism on myself then cast Major Image and use The Show Must Go On to keep it going for the duration of extended Heroism as free actions.
2) I cast Major Image but let my familiar take over with Familiar Concentration. He'll maintain it as a standard action sitting in my pocket or something.
Do those work as intended? What can I do with this? Do I get to change illusions on the fly? Like create an illusion of myself then have it turn into an ogre at will? Also, say I walk a mile. Do the illusions follow me? Does the range of the spell follow me or stay in the area it was originally cast?
You can alter an illusion, though it may allow a disbelief save if what you do is visible to an enemy and not particularly believable. However 'You can move the image within the limits of the size of the effect.' will stop you walking off with the illusion for a mile, at least until you reach caster level 524. The effect is set when you cast the spell and is a tighter limitation than the range in most cases.
Illusions are one of the areas of the game most subject to GM interpretation and it's worth asking your GM before you start. Besides the points you've asked about there's a bunch of others which can aid or cripple your use of illusions.
BTW I recommend dervish dance before accomplished SA for you. +4 damage vs. a situational +3.5 average damage should be a no-brainer.