Eldritch Knight vs Magus


Advice


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Hello,

I have been enamored with the eldritch knight since 3.0, but when I made the switch I had to go magus. I am half a module away from EoT and retiring my magus in PFS.

I wanted to start anew and plan on EK maybe Hellknight in there.

Any reasons why I should go EK over Magus?

Thanks,
TBJ


Yes. Eldritch Knight builds will have access to 9th level spells. For this reason, they make for excellent shapeshifters, able to make a great use of things like form of the dragon.

Other than that... I don't think they have much going on really.

There are other cool gishes out there too, Kinetic Knight is fun.


As it is the case in Pathfinder 99% of the time, what's best depends on what you actually want. Eldritch Knight is for buffing and then going into combat. Magus is for using offensive (touch) spells in combat. Those are completely different playstyles*, which one is more suited for you depends on where your focus lies on.

As Secret Wizard said, there are other gish type classes and archetypes out there, which may be better fitting for your goals than either EK or Magus. Pathfinder is very far removed from 3.X when it comes to classes, and one of the biggest differences is that there are a lot of hybrid classes and archetypes, and those work very well, with the result that just about anything you could want has one or more archetypes that do just that. It also means that prestige classes are needed for almost nothing.
The "self buffing martial" role especially is covered by a lot of different classes and archetypes, most notably Bloodrager, Occultist, Investigator, Alchemist, Warpriest, Medium, Inquisitor, Archaeologist Bard; in a rough scaling form most martially to most castery. And that's only ones with actual spellcasting or alchemy.

*) Well, unless you use the Arcing Weapon and Explosive Weapon feats on an EK.

The Exchange

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Secret Wizard wrote:

Yes. Eldritch Knight builds will have access to 9th level spells. For this reason, they make for excellent shapeshifters, able to make a great use of things like form of the dragon.

Other than that... I don't think they have much going on really.

There are other cool gishes out there too, Kinetic Knight is fun.

Esoteric knight looks fun too. It's the occult magic version.

Also useful for these builds prestigious spell caster feat


It looks to me like a Magus is a gish that self-buffs in melee. An Eldritch Knight Prestige Class is a Wizard that can do some fighting.


I suggest looking at the Occultist, especially their Panoplies. Mage's Paraphernalia makes you a great caster, while Trappings of the Warrior make you a great martial. It takes a while, but you can actually have both in the base class.

As a lover of all things gish, Occultist has already overtaken both Magus and Inquisitor in my heart as my number one most favorite class.


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The Eldritch Knight has access to better spellcasting and has a bit more freedom with weapon selection than the Magus. It is a little tough to build since the prestige class itself is barren so you have to make good feat and spell selections to get value out of it. You can also get a lot of variation through which classes you use to qualify. This means two Eldritch Knight builds can be radically different.

For instance, if you want to build a gun-using Eldritch Knight you'll get a completely different balance if you go with a Trench Fighter 3 / Spellslinger 5 than if you go with a Mysterious Stranger 1 / Sorcerer 6. Without knowing more about the direction you want to go with your Eldritch Knight it can be difficult to provide specific build advice.


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If you do go with Eldritch Knight, be sure to check out the feats in the Player Companion Chronicle of Legends. It has a few that only an Eldritch Knight can qualify for. They primarily give magus-like abilities to members of this prestige class.


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TheBobJones wrote:

Hello,

I have been enamored with the eldritch knight since 3.0, but when I made the switch I had to go magus. I am half a module away from EoT and retiring my magus in PFS.

I wanted to start anew and plan on EK maybe Hellknight in there.

Any reasons why I should go EK over Magus?

Thanks,
TBJ

Depending on the base class(es) and archetype(s), an eldritch knight can gain at least some of the functonality (i.e., Spellstrike with touch spells) of the magus: two possible routes are swashbuckler (inspired blade) 1 to start with Fencing Grace/arcanist (blade adept) 6 with the Eldritch Blade and Spell Striker arcanist exploits and fighter (titan fighter) 1/wizard (sword binder) 8 to use Hand of the Apprentice to attack with a Large nodachi at range that also delivers an Intensified shocking grasp.


That last bit sounds pretty epic...


Wow I did not expect to get so many wonderful responses thank you all so much. I am about to retire a vanilla DEX based magus Magical lineage shocking grasp nova character.

I love gish builds and would love to find a way to build an EK with heavy armor full spellcasting and decent in battle.

A little bit about me and my play style. Even though my first character was a bit min maxed, I don’t care if the new build isn’t op. I try never to play the same race or class again. I have played almost every playable race and almost all of the classes available. I also always use creative crunch to fuel my role play. So I am looking for an interesting unique build that will accentuate my role-play.

Thanks
TBJ


Another difference between the eldritch knight and magus is that it takes a while to get the eldritch knight up and running. The magus is probably better earlier in the game, but after a certain point the eldritch knight becomes better. At high level the eldritch knight’s access to higher level spells make it more powerful. The eldritch knight begins to pull ahead at 9th level. Before that the advantage is to the magus.


Heavy armor is tough on an arcane caster. Consider another route. If you like the wizard spell list be a sorceror or archanist with the psychic bloodline, add a dash of you chosen martial (paladin works particularly well if you go sorceror and can handle the alignment restriction) then go esoteric knight. Esoteric knight isn't as flexible as Eldritch knight, but no somatic components means no spell failure. You can start feeling like a heavy hitting armored "wizard* from level 2. Much smoother build progression.

You can take vmc magus as well for a limited spell strike and the arcane pool and arcanas. That option is particularly good if you go blood archanist.


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TheBobJones wrote:
I love gish builds and would love to find a way to build an EK with heavy armor full spellcasting and decent in battle.

Sadly the best option to cast in armor as an EK is to just slap Still Spell on everything, and that's not a very good approach. If you're playing mythic then arcane armor training is viable (if feat intensive) but in non-mythic it eats into your swift action economy and that's a deal-breaker.

Esoteric Knight is interesting but ludicrously feat-starved since you really want to spend 6 feats on Favored Prestige Class and Prestigious Spellcaster x5.


It's not as starved as it might seem because it gives you 5 bonus feats. You don't get as many feats as an Eldritch knight, but you aren't completely screwed either.

The Exchange

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Dasrak wrote:
TheBobJones wrote:
I love gish builds and would love to find a way to build an EK with heavy armor full spellcasting and decent in battle.

Sadly the best option to cast in armor as an EK is to just slap Still Spell on everything, and that's not a very good approach. If you're playing mythic then arcane armor training is viable (if feat intensive) but in non-mythic it eats into your swift action economy and that's a deal-breaker.

Esoteric Knight is interesting but ludicrously feat-starved since you really want to spend 6 feats on Favored Prestige Class and Prestigious Spellcaster x5.

There is a tier 3 archmage ability, component freedom, you can choose somatic and ignore spell failure.

Psychic casters don’t need to worry about arcane spell failure, for non mythic arcane casters I can think of a few options: cast hour long buffs without armor on, you can choose spells without somatic components, still spell, wear folding plate for shorter pre buffing, craft wands, staves, rings/armor/weapons with spell storing, contingency, minor/major spell like ability feats.


TheBobJones wrote:
I love gish builds and would love to find a way to build an EK with heavy armor full spellcasting and decent in battle.

The boring way is 35% ASF heavy armour, mithral, arcane armour training and mastery feats, and either three levels of Hellknight Signifier prestige class or the Grey Maiden Initiate feat. The problem with the hellknight route is, you're already in a gish class, why switch to EK? The problem with the Grey Maiden route is, you have a weird feat at level one that isn't really useful until you can afford mithral full plate and two more feats, which is why I've never actually got around to playing it.

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It all depends on level.

Yes, EK gets 7th- through 9th-level spells. BUT he only gets those around level fifteen, which is way above where most campaigns will end.

And that's the only advantage he gets. At levels below fifteen, a typical Magus has

  • better to-hit, thanks to its enchant ability;
  • two strong saves where EK has one;
  • more hit points, due to favored class bonus and a wizard's low hit die;
  • more feats;
  • wide threat range on touch spells;
  • armored casting;
  • and the big action advantage of spell combat.
So at most levels, it's really not a contest.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
The eldritch knight begins to pull ahead at 9th level. Before that the advantage is to the magus.

Not yet.

For a gish, the action economy advantage of spell combat easily offsets that the EK gets 4th level spells a bit earlier. Magus also has higher to-hit and armor class. They're more-or-less tied in terms of HP, saves, spells per day (due to spell recall), and feats/arcana.


At 12th level Magus has slightly better HP(about 4), and better saves. They also have the magus class features like spell combat arcana. Both of them have the same BAB (9), The Eldritch Knight has access to 5th level spells. They will also have access to some of the school powers of a Wizard. That may not seem like much but some of them can be useful. Admixture for example gives you +2 damage on evocation spells, but more importantly it gives you versatile evocation. Being able to change the energy type of a spells is very useful especially if you are dealing with creatures with immunities to specific energy types. Since the number of times per day is based of INT instead of level you get the full number of uses a wizard would get. They also get bonded object witch not only allows them and extra spell per day (of any level), it also allows them to enchant their bonded object without having the craft feat.

Depending on what martial class they used they could also get other advantages. A fighter is going to get an extra feat. Add that to the extra feat for a 5th level wizard and that nets the Eldritch Knight two extra feats. If they go ranger they get a bunch of class skills and access to using more magic items like wands of cure light wounds.

So basically before 9th level the advantage is to the Magus. Starting at 9th level the Eldritch Knight starts to become more equal. At higher levels the advantage goes to the Eldritch Knight because higher level spells are just so powerful there is nothing a can equal them. What it really matter is what you value in the character and how high the campaign will go. In a PFS game where it you finish up at 12th level it may not be worth it. In a non PFS game that goes higher than that Eldritch Knight is probably worth looking at.

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Mysterious Stranger wrote:
At 12th level Magus has slightly better HP(about 4), and better saves. They also have the magus class features like spell combat arcana. Both of them have the same BAB (9), The Eldritch Knight has access to 5th level spells. They will also have access to some of the school powers of a Wizard.

You're listing several advantages of the EK, and missing that the Magus can match or top that.

They have the same BAB, yes, but Magus gets an additional +3 from his arcane pool (+4 at level 13).
EK gets an extra spell from bonded object, Magus gets half a dozen extra spells from improved spell recall (at L12, he can have more spells per day than the EK...)
EK can change spell damage with evocation, Magus can change weapon damage with arcane pool.
EK gets useful school powers, Magus gets useful arcana.
EK gets bonus feats, Magus gets more bonus feats (as arcana are effectively Magus-only feats, just like how discoveries are wizard-only feats).
EK gets a discount weapon from bonded object, Magus can get a free magic weapon from Bladebound archetype.

Magus still gets better AC and action economy advantage. Action economy wins combats more than anything else on this list.

Quote:
At higher levels the advantage goes to the Eldritch Knight because higher level spells are just so powerful there is nothing a can equal them.

This is key. Magus cannot match 7th to 9th level spells, but in most campaigns an EK will never reach those either.

Scott Wilhelm wrote:
It looks to me like a Magus is a gish that self-buffs in melee. An Eldritch Knight Prestige Class is a Wizard that can do some fighting.

Basically that. If you want 7th level spells, you should arguably play single-class wizard.

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