Solo Wizard build - Level 1 and up


Advice


I love playing blaster mages, and I disagree with the common sentiment that they're sub-optimal. But I often play solo when I play a wizard and I don't have anyone there to kill my controlled mobs for me. I have to do it myself. This may skew my perspective.

So how would you go about building a solo wizard that isn't a blaster? What tactics would you use?

Please, no comments to the effect "don't" or "play X instead".
Wizards only, maybe with 1 level dip.


A solo wizard needs meat shields .I'd put at least some focus into summoning, probably try to get standard action summons via sacred summons. Also having a pet would go a long ways to extending your survivability at lower levels.


A necromancer build would allow you to have permanent "meatshields" between you and the enemy. Below are a couple such builds.

Charming Necromancer (Wizard/Arcanist/Sorcerer)

Spoiler:

Key concepts: A natural born necromancer that can charm undead humanoids
Class: Sorcerer(1), Arcanist/Wizard(X)
Exploits: Bloodline Development(5th), Quick Study, Fiendish Proboscis
Archetype: School Savant[Undead] (Arcanist), Crossblooded (Sorcerer), Exploiter Wizard, Pact Wizard[HH](Wizard)
Optional Arch: Unlettered Arcanist (Arcanist)
Bloodlines: Undead & Ghoul
Feats: Spell Focus (Enchantment)(1st), Deceitful(3rd), Subtle Enchantments(5th), Greater Spell Focus(7th), Conceal Spell(9th), Focused Spell(11th)
Suggested Feats: Natural Charmer, Compulsion Mastery, Authoritative Spell, Varisian tattoo, Spell Specialization, Coaxing Spell, Feign Curse, Voice of the Sibyl, Intoxicating Flattery, Confabulist, Veiled Contempt, Sense Assumptions
Key Features: • Can use mind-affecting spells on corporeal undead that were once humanoids.
• Gets all the Standard and Optional Necromancer Spells.

Wizard Necromancer(Basic)

Spoiler:

Key concepts: True Necromancer
Class: Wizard
Arcane School: Necromancy (Undead)
Suggested Archetype(s): Undead Master(best if combined with Not-necromancy school)
Feats: Arcane Discovery[Faith Magic](5th), Adept Channel(5th)
Suggested Feats: Charnel Soldiers
Key Features: • Gets all Standard and Optional Necromancer abilities/spells
• Gets 2 pools of Channel energy/Command Undead

The builds have different methods of dealing with levels prior to getting animate dead lesser. The first one would use charm spells in order to have non-undead fight on their behalf. It would amount to mercenaries that you've "promised to pay" at some point in the future.

The second build (when using the optional undead master archetype) gets a single undead companion right away. Granted it won't be as powerful as your other undead at higher levels but it should be sufficient at low levels. Especially since you can remake it for free when it dies.


Both are good...

The problem with charming, summoning, animating objects and necromancy is that you're not exactly soloing at that point. The player is, but not the character.

It would be much the same as taking hirelings along. How can the character solo effectively?


Why would you want the character to handicap themselves? If you aren't going to blast, then why wouldn't you try to use the other resources at your disposal? If you keep excising legitimate class features and spells, then at some point this stops being even an academic exercise.

But, to work under these added restrictions, at low levels I'd load up on the borerline-OP level 1 spells: Sleep and Color Spray. And then cut everyone's throats.


Coquelicot Dragon wrote:
If you aren't going to blast, then why wouldn't you try to use the other resources at your disposal?

I'm not suggesting we completely remove options. Even when I play a blaster I use other tricks. Rather, I'm looking for a non blasting build that doesn't rely on effectively not soloing. One of the advantages of solo is faster combat. I know it's a challenging question.

Coquelicot Dragon wrote:
I'd load up on the borerline-OP level 1 spells: Sleep and Color Spray. And then cut everyone's throats.

Absolutely! Even when I blast, I try to keep at least one of these ready.


Entymal wrote:
One of the advantages of solo is faster combat.

That's a pretty reasonable argument, so I'll run with it.

The best way to survive a fight as a solo wizard at low levels is to bypass them entirely. When Sleep and Color Spray stop working, there are the pit spells as a single- or multi-target lock-out. Invisibility coupled with Summoning can get you pretty far, as you distract the target with an enemy while you sneak past them (added bonus: you are back to solo combat with that approach, too). Illusory walls and Fog spells let you block ranged attacks while you withdraw. Add Command Undead to that and most low-level opponents become a non-issue.

Conjuration specialist with the Teleportation subschool gives you nice tricks for getting out of bad situations, and Dimensional Steps really opens up options for sneaking past people (Dimensional Steps in particular is pretty vaguely worded: if your GM agrees it's more like Dimension Door than Teleport, then you to have the ability to do short-distance, blind teleports to get into or out of places).


Well it's not exactly a wizard, but would you consider an arcanist? A blood archanist with the psychic bloodline means no somatic components, which makes a single level dip in an armored flighting class for heavy armor a lot more useful. The low levels are the hardest for a full caster and a dip for armor and fighting ability makes those first levels a lot less dangerous.


Coquelicot Dragon wrote:
Entymal wrote:
One of the advantages of solo is faster combat.
That's a pretty reasonable argument, so I'll run with it.

Thanks! I appreciate your flexible mind-set.

It looks like conjuration(Teleport) with fog, pits, etc for stealth may be a strong option for true solo even without summoning.

Grand Lodge

My solo wizard is a high con high int spirit bound wizard whose familiar was previously a paladin. You will want a mauler familiar and maulers endurance. I also took toughness and use shield companion. Spell sponge is your familiars replacement feat for free extend.

What does this get you?

A full BAB familiar with scaling strength that can be polymorphed into a tiger or 4 armed gargoyle buffed with herosim, shield or whatever else you want.

Then you provide the control, summoning, or domination etc. required to allow your familiar to work.


I fighting familiar is a good suggestion, but the OP really wants to be truly solo.

You are going to be attacking DCs be sure to max out your int as you really need your spells to land. Also looking for ways for force rerolls would be a good idea.

You still haven't addressed some of the other difficult aspects of soloing, healing, facework, other skills and managing saves.

Student of philosophy helps cover face work, most skill challenges can be bypassed by spells after a certain point, but saves are going to be a tough point.


I would recommend an elf, getting longbow proficiency for free, a bonus to Dex and Int, and resistances and even invulnerability to sleep. The minus to Con sucks, but any wizard that takes damage is in trouble pretty quickly. Abjuration can help with that, if only a little.

What do you really want to do with your wizard? A lot of non-blaster playstyles involve getting other beings to tank for you.


Coup de Gras is a pretty reliable option for solo wizards. Carry around a tetsubo, cast hold spells and sleep spells, and walk around caving in heads or turning invisible and avoiding the combat when it's not an option. You may want to go with a spirit whisperer to grab sleep hex just to ensure sleep is always available to you.

Grand Lodge

If you are look for true solo there is nothing that increases spell dcs more than persistent. Effectively for 2 levels. Rods are the best way to do this as they are quite affordable. Due to going solo you will need to pace yourself so rods become really powerful.


baggageboy wrote:
You are going to be attacking DCs be sure to max out your int as you really need your spells to land. Also looking for ways for force rerolls would be a good idea.

This, many times over.

Your one advantage as a solo player is that your encounters should be CR-1 on average, so your enemy saves are going to be a step lower than normal.

If your GM is willing to entertain it, a gestalt approach can help a lot. Though it puts a strain on feats, your overall survivability is going to go up. A gestalt wizard/cleric is going to give you access to healing and spells for status removal, boost your HP, and give you more options in general.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Entymal wrote:

I love playing blaster mages, and I disagree with the common sentiment that they're sub-optimal. But I often play solo when I play a wizard and I don't have anyone there to kill my controlled mobs for me. I have to do it myself. This may skew my perspective.

So how would you go about building a solo wizard that isn't a blaster? What tactics would you use?

Blasters are indeed quite good for solo play, since a level-appropriate encounter for a single character is well within nova range for a well-built blaster build. Having some means of dealing hit point damage is important for solo-wizards, as it's a good catch-all for when other tactics aren't effective.

As a solo wizard, I'd be inclined to hedge my bet with some at-will weapon attacks so I'm not completely dependent on spellcasting. I feel the best option is going into Eldritch Knight and taking the Elven Battle Focus feat chain and the Knowledge is Power arcane discovery to get Int-to-damage, Int-to-CMB, and Int-to-CMD. With a finessable weapon like an elven branched spear or elven curve blade you avoid being overly MAD and get by with just Dex and Int (also you can use a bow as a backup weapon pretty easily if desired).


Offhand, with minionmancy banned, I'd probably look at hybrid spells that combine multiple effects, like blast spells that also control (e.g. Obsidian Flow).

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