What extra classes go well with the Fighter / Rogue / Cleric / Wizard quatuor?


Advice


Whether be for the players or the GMs, these 4 classes (or related classes) always come up for the combat specialist, skill user, healer and blaster. However, what if I would like more than 4 characters?

What extra classes can mesh well with these? What exclusive role can be added?


bard is generally the go-to for a 5th character, since they focus on being reasonably well rounded and improving the rest.


1) the only one of those classes that is even arguably best at said roles is wizard

Oracles make better healers
Barbs make better beatsticks
Investigators make better skill monkeys.

That’s a couple examples. My point being, please for the love of god don’t stick to those classes.

That aside any charisma class is really good as a 5th member to that party

Paladin, bard, mesmerist, Oracle, Sorcerer.

EDIT: actually scrap that. None of them are best at there specified roles.


JiCi wrote:
Whether be for the players or the GMs, these 4 classes (or related classes) always come up for the combat specialist, skill user, healer and blaster.

They "always come up" because the only people who think that a dedicated "combat specialist, skill user, healer and blaster" setup is a good way to build a party are the people who can't accept the fact that Pathfinder is different from past versions of D&D, and are slave to some outdated concept that probably was never valid to begin with. Or people who mindlessly repeat some crap they've read on some reddit thread or something.

I'm sorry if this sounds unhelpful, but your very core presumption is faulty. Pathfinder is geared towards hybrids and generally flexible or versatile characters, and the 'traditional party roles' are/should be split among multiple characters. You don't have a character with one role, but a character with multiple jobs, none of which have to be exclusive in a party.

Weables wrote:
bard is generally the go-to for a 5th character, since they focus on being reasonably well rounded and improving the rest.

I actually kind of disagree with this, because a Bard doesn't "mesh well with these". That's because a Bard is so much better at the "skillmonkey" and overall handling challenges jobs that a Bard will make a skill-focussed Rogue pretty much useless, or at least feal heavily overshadowed.

That aside, with only one attack-centric character (since the Rogue player was stupid enough to focus on skills even though the Wizard solves every problem way better), Inspire Courage is not that good, and there's plenty of skill ranks and prepared spells to solve problems already present. My fallback class for a party not lacking any specific job is Summoner - strong single target damage, works against flying and invisible enemies as well (where the martials often struggle), having someone with high Charisma is never bad, and you can never have too many arcane casters, either. Another melee helps the Rogue a lot (more for not being too much of a target than for flanking, actually), and you can easily make an Eidolon immune against e.g. fire damage, so that the Wizard can blast away at ease.


I would call the 5th ‘most significant infilled’ role in a party like that ‘Cha character’, which could be filled with a variety of classes, Bard and Summoner both being reasonable options. Paladin, etc as well. But pretty much any class is fine at that point; Something that would put an extra body in melee would help the rogue.

Expanding the ‘healer’ definition to include condition removal, I would say that three of those classes are at least ‘arguably’ optimal for their roles: fighter, cleric, and Wizard. And I’d add that redundancy is fairly important in pathfinder, with “character that doesn’t go down quickly when attacked by multiple monsters” being a very useful role to have redundancy in. Assume many combats will start with 1-2 characters failing saving throws etc and being out of combat, and consider how capable the rest of the party would be at surviving.


For much of the life of PF1 a fighter wasn't one of the best for the meatshield/striker role. Basically until the weapon master's handbook and armor master's handbook came out. A rogue has been iffy for the skills/face role forever. A cleric can cover all required healing and a wizard is a solid choice for battlefield control and magic utility, I'll give you that.

D&D 3.P classes which work well are usually the 6-level spellcasters, try those first.


Druid compliments a filled party well. A lot of good options for many encounters.


To answer the OP's question more directly, battlefield control and buffer are missing.

Chromantic Durgon's point is one that I'd make, which is: never pidgeonhole your character into only one role. So damage+face, or buffing+status removal, or battlefield control+knowledge, or Druid :)

Silver Crusade

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I'd argue that every character should cover at least 2 roles.

Silver Crusade

Surprised no one already linked the definitive essay on this topic, TarkXT's Forge of Combat. This essay applies the wisdom of Sun Tzu to Pathfinder.

The Forge of Combat: Thoughts on victory and how the group achieves it. wrote:

With Pathfinder now consisting of roughly 40+ classes at the time I’m writing this it’s pretty clear that the game can produce a wide variety of groups. Even the classical heavily armored warrior, sneaky thief, divine priest, and mysterious wizard fail at encompassing an honestly effective strategy when defeating encounters as each class can easily take on multiple roles by design in order to match multiple concepts.

What has not changed is the need for a strategically balanced group to deal with a wide variety of asymmetrical encounters. While there has been some debate and conventional wisdom for years on what is required a lot of it tends to have misleading language and goes off of presumptions or ideas that really don’t exist.

Instead of trying to stick to a classic paradigm or adhere to a strict category of classes we should simply go back to the start and work our way up from that foundation when building an effective group. Let’s start with a very basic combat goal.

”TO OVERCOME THE ENCOUNTER AS EFFICIENTLY AS POSSIBLE”


PCScipio wrote:
I'd argue that every character should cover at least 2 roles.

I'd argue that every character should cover at least 2 if they don't want to be bored at the table.

The meatshield/striker is boring without skills or something to do out of combat.
The face/skill monkey gets mad if he is completely useless in combat.
The healer is useless if the meatshield doesn't need help, a day without combat or the skills they might have.


Here's an update for you all:

This topic isn't really for players, since they can and should play whoever, whatever and however they wish ;) It's on them if they have a situation that none of their abilities can overcome easily, and have to be more creative about it. To have GMed games myself, I have seen my entire party literally sneaked their way into an enemy camp, steal the maps and sneaked out of it, without alerting and fighting a single guard. I had prepared stats for combat, but I was speechless for a few seconds when they pulled that off.

My topic was a little more targeted for NPCs, such as building jobbers/subordinates for your BBEG. The 4 classic roles will surely be applied since it's simple and quick. What if I have more than 4?

You guys suggested the Bard, which can be the buffer... and since I have no clue what "battlefield control" means, I have no clue what 6th class could be used.


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Battlefield control includes things like fog spells, wall spells, Entangling Roots, etc. Essentially they allow you to shape the battlefield. This lets you disrupt enemy charge lanes or block line of sight for enemy casters and archers. It also let's you seperate enemies into smaller groups so that your party can overwhelm one group at a time.

The simplest form of battlefield control is a fighter with a reach weapon standing out front. This means any melee enemies who want to attack the wizard have to either go around (likely wasting a turn) or accept an AoO from the high damage beatstick.

The other things mentioned are party buffing and enemy debuffing.

Bards excel at party buffing (they're probably the best), but the cleric and wizard are certainly no slouches. Even the fighter can buff the Rogue simply by moving to a flanking position.

Debuffing again can be done by anyone in your example party. Again the wizard and cleric simply cast spells, but the Fighter can debuff very effectively with Cornugon Smash and a Cruel weapon. The Rogue could have plenty of debuffing sneak-attack tricks (blinding/bleeding/stunning off the top of my head, though I don't often play rogues).

Back to Battlefield Control, I've been playing a low level bloodrager in a recent campaign. Despite only having medium armour, I was able to pick up a large shield and fight defensively in front of my two ranged companions. Although I wasn't dealing much damage myself I was able to position myself in choke points so enemies couldn't get past me and my AC was high enough that I took Barely any damage. My ability to controll who was being attacked meant that we were able to stomp through the first book of the AP.


So battlefield control implies "blocking line of sight" or protecting... kinda?


Controlling the battlefield means making what the other side wants to do either hard or impossible. Dividing the enemy into smaller groups, making them pay a high toll to swarm the BBEG, or crippling debuffs are all examples.


I usually think of battlefield control as buffs/debuffs that don't directly affect the people. So a wall spell debuffs people by changing line of sight charge-lanes, but doesn't directly affect enemies or allies. Some spells do more than one thing, eg. Wall of Fire is a battlefield control spell and a damage spell.

A spell like Dimension Door is really battlefield controll spell. If the enemy are behind a choke-point controlling the entry, you can teleport behind them. It changes the battlefield from one where the enemies have cover and clear shots to one where the players have clear shots on the enemies.

Silver Crusade

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Here's a terrific video description of the Battlefield Control concept. This is from the original author of the God Wizard guide, Treantmonk, who codified Battlefield Control. As a GM one can easily detect parties lacking in Battlefield Control because those parties struggle so much more and take so much more damage than parties with a good Battlefield Controller.


Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Oracles make better healers

I disagree. If someone gets hit with a permanent condition, a Cleric can just prepare remove curse/disease/whatever the next day but an Oracle is useless without knowing the spell.


The classic four + a bard can totally make a fun, successful party. It's not optimal, but this can actually be a boon: Not every GM wants to challenge a high-powered group, and not every player wants to dive deep into character options to "keep up". During the 2018 survey the classic 4 were the most popular classes, and I'd assume the majority of their players actually had fun with them.

The risk of overshadowing is quite prominent among the classic 4, but it's not restricted to them. Personally I like to see the players sharing the tasks fairly. But I currently have a wizard player who had no qualms to try to cover almost everything - his character needed a hard hit with the nerfhammer to keep the campaign smooth. On the plus side, it allows us to keep playing at level 17+.


deuxhero wrote:
Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Oracles make better healers
I disagree. If someone gets hit with a permanent condition, a Cleric can just prepare remove curse/disease/whatever the next day but an Oracle is useless without knowing the spell.

The obvious answer is that the oracle can just learn those spells. The downside is that this leaves the oracle with almost no non-healing spells. The pei-zin can eventually remove most of these without using spells, and the spirit guide could just prepare a different spirit if he wanted some versatility outside of just the healing spells.

It’s not like the cleric isn’t a great healer too though. It has obvious advantages and some decent archetypes. The oracle is just better for pure healing, mostly because of life link, but the other mysteries are great too.


Melkiador wrote:
deuxhero wrote:
Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Oracles make better healers
I disagree... a Cleric can just prepare remove curse/disease/whatever the next day
The pei-zin can eventually remove most of these without using spells,

I think the actual classes are irrelevant. It's not about specifics, it's about the role that class plays in the party.

The OP could have said Barbarian/Investigator/Oracle/Sorcerer and the question would be the same - What class (or classes) makes a good 5th role for the party?


MrCharisma wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
deuxhero wrote:
Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Oracles make better healers
I disagree... a Cleric can just prepare remove curse/disease/whatever the next day
The pei-zin can eventually remove most of these without using spells,

I think the actual classes are irrelevant. It's not about specifics, it's about the role that class plays in the party.

The OP could have said Barbarian/Investigator/Oracle/Sorcerer and the question would be the same - What class (or classes) makes a good 5th role for the party?

That would be correct ;)


For me the roles in the party should be:
- Damage dealer (you can have as many of these as needed, but at least one)
- Tank (you want at least one)
- Buffer (one, maybe two)
- Debuffer (one, maybe two)
- Battlefield Controller (you want at least one)
You also need some way to heal and remove status effects.
You also want most (if not all) skills covered, although how you split this with the party doesn't really matter.

Note that a character can and should cover at least two roles. Damage dealer and tank (barbarian). Buffer and debuffer (cleric). Battlefield control and debuffer (witch). Damage dealer and buffer (sorcerer). You get the idea.


Also some of these roles are dependant on the roles already filled

For example knowing how many damage dealers and of what kind dictates how many buffers you need.

If you’ve got three a bard is great, if you’ve got only 1 then a bard probably isn’t going to get as much mileage as some other classes.


Yeah a bard is often called the best 5th man because the bard gets more powerful the bigger the group is.

If you have a bard alone then +1 to hit and damage is a less good Rage that also takes a standard action to activate. If you have 12 people in your party then the bard laughs at the barbarian's rage (or would laugh if they didn't stack - instead the bard and barbarian both laugh at the enemies as they crush them underfoot).


Part of the issue is that ideal party composition changes as the party grows. Small groups usually need a combat healer, while larger groups naturally distribute more of their damage and can go for more damage and control. Smaller groups may encourage scouting while larger groups prefer to roll in as a single force.

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