How vital do you consider the 4 traditional roles?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Cavall wrote:
No I would not call a wizard, with no matter the build, a healer. Nor did anyone say dedicated as of there is nothing else your character can do. Simply that you're the best of the group to do it.

The first and last sentence are contradictory. Say you're a Wizard in a party with a Cavalier, Brawler, and Gunslinger, none of which have skilled UMD or Heal. With the ability to use wands of Infernal Healing, access to Remove Curse, and the ability to summon creratures with healing abilities (e.g. Bralani Azata), you're by far the best healer of the group. According to your third sentence, that makes you the healer. According to your first sentence, you're not a healer because you're a Wizard.

Also, if the third sentence is true, i.e. the best at healing is defined as a "healer", then literally every party has one, and your statement of "you need a healer" is utterly useless.

For the record, with "dedicated" I meant that this is your character's main focus, not that it's necessarily the only thing you can do. It's a question of investment. If you use your highest two spell levels on controll spells and start every combat with them, I consider you a dedicated controller, even if you use the second half of the combat on something different. A Summoner casting Grease after he Haste'd the party and Shield'ed the Eidolon, not so much.


Senko wrote:
I've seena few posts lately that made me wonder this. How vital do you consider each of the 4 traditional roles (fighter, mage, priest or rogue)?

I consider them vital. Pretty much any time I look at a new class, I compare their functionality to the previous classes. "Oh, a ninja is basically a rogue with a dash of wizard."

In my opinion, there are far too many classes (and spells). Every edition of D&D has bloat, but starting with 3e's glut of prestige classes and then moving on to either PF1e or 4e (both of which have a glut of base classes) just robs me the wrong way. It's too hard to determine why a class even exists sometimes.

(I consider clerics to be tier one, but what about the oracle? It's a bit weaker, since it gains spells more slowly, and you can't just wait one day to prep any spell you want. If I thought clerics were OP I'd look at the cloistered cleric or something.)

And then we get controversial classes, like the gunslinger or the O-summoner. Players tend to expect new classes (or archetypes) to be balanced, and sometimes they take a class and find out it's underpowered. Or overpowered. Or just broken.

Sometimes you get problems with expectations. I recall back in 2e the cleric spheres. It didn't make sense from a flavor perspective that every cleric can heal (IMO, those clerics that cannot fulfill one of the class's basic functions is an adept or some other sort of NPC). Then we had a death cleric who couldn't heal. Laaaaaaaaame. (Healics are lame. It's one reason I like the Wand of Cure Light Wounds so much. You don't have to battlefield heal, generally speaking.)


Why don't we all just make a rule right now that every group has to have a Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, and Rogue and be done with this debate now? Or we can just all agree that each class is valuable and it doesn't really matter what your "Class Composition" is because every party can be successful when played well.


Too many classes? I love having tons of classes to choose from. It lets me make any concept I want. Yeah, some classes are under or overpowered, but sometimes what you want isn't power but flavor.


Derklord wrote:
Cavall wrote:
No I would not call a wizard, with no matter the build, a healer. Nor did anyone say dedicated as of there is nothing else your character can do. Simply that you're the best of the group to do it.

The first and last sentence are contradictory. Say you're a Wizard in a party with a Cavalier, Brawler, and Gunslinger, none of which have skilled UMD or Heal. With the ability to use wands of Infernal Healing, access to Remove Curse, and the ability to summon creratures with healing abilities (e.g. Bralani Azata), you're by far the best healer of the group. According to your third sentence, that makes you the healer. According to your first sentence, you're not a healer because you're a Wizard.

Also, if the third sentence is true, i.e. the best at healing is defined as a "healer", then literally every party has one, and your statement of "you need a healer" is utterly useless.

For the record, with "dedicated" I meant that this is your character's main focus, not that it's necessarily the only thing you can do. It's a question of investment. If you use your highest two spell levels on controll spells and start every combat with them, I consider you a dedicated controller, even if you use the second half of the combat on something different. A Summoner casting Grease after he Haste'd the party and Shield'ed the Eidolon, not so much.

You're the one contradicting yourself.

A wizard "no matter the build" wouldn't be the healer. Because he may not have access to those spells, wands, or even have them as banned schools.

In which case, yes, I would say that i would say a wizard "no matter the build" wouldn't be the healer. You're trying to make the exception the rule. Perhaps you meant something other than "no matter the build" in which case you could have said "this corner case wizard could be considered the healer for this group." Even then, I wouldn't. You can't save someone from death with a wand you have to dig out of your backpack. At best you're offering a slightly faster downtime even with your corner case build and party. But no matter the build? Of course not.


That's a wizard who has not chosen conjuration as an opposition school (and who thinks conjuration is a good school to dump?), and who has picked up a wand of a 1st level spell in their own class. Frankly, even a wizard with scribe scroll can do a reasonable amount of HP healing via infernal healing if that spell isn't otherwise reined in; I've seen this.

If you're the only person willing to devote any resources to healing then you find ways, even if you're playing a sorcerer without a helpful bloodline (I've been there - UMD was important). Obviously you don't keep every relevant item at the bottom of your backpack if that's the role you're playing.


Kimera757 wrote:
Senko wrote:
I've seena few posts lately that made me wonder this. How vital do you consider each of the 4 traditional roles (fighter, mage, priest or rogue)?

I consider them vital. Pretty much any time I look at a new class, I compare their functionality to the previous classes. "Oh, a ninja is basically a rogue with a dash of wizard."

In my opinion, there are far too many classes (and spells). Every edition of D&D has bloat, but starting with 3e's glut of prestige classes and then moving on to either PF1e or 4e (both of which have a glut of base classes) just robs me the wrong way. It's too hard to determine why a class even exists sometimes.

(I consider clerics to be tier one, but what about the oracle? It's a bit weaker, since it gains spells more slowly, and you can't just wait one day to prep any spell you want. If I thought clerics were OP I'd look at the cloistered cleric or something.)

The Ninja was a straight out upgrade of a rogue. Considering how underpowered the original rouge was it is was a very good thing. Look at any of the older rogue advice threads and the most common advice is not to play a rogue, but to play something else instead.

Spontaneous casters may seem weaker on paper but in actual play are really not. Sure they cannot change their spells on a daily basis, but they also never have to worry about not having enough of a particular spell memorized. The player of the prepared caster has to figure out what spells he needs every day. A wrong choice can render the character useless. Having the perfect spell on your list does you no good if it is not memorized. A spontaneous caster usually has some spell that can be used even if it is not ideal it is something. This may not be the case with a prepared caster. I have seen plenty of times where the cleric had no useful spell available. Often times it was because they had already cast it earlier in the day. Spontaneous casters also get a lot more class features. Oracles get a lot more revelations and powers from their curse than a cleric get domain powers.

Having too few classes makes the game feel and play like a video game instead of f roleplaying game. If that is the kind of experience you want you would be better off using a console instead of a roleplaying game.


@Cavall: I really did mean "no matter the build", because since every Wizard can use a wand of Infernal Healing without UMD*, you saying "no" means that the ability to use a wand is not enough for you to qualify as a "healer". That was precisely what I was fishing for, in lack of a proper definition (maybe I'm jaded, but I've seen enough people unwilling to give a clear definition, presumably because they were too afraid of being contradicted, that I didn't really expect one).

As we've established that wand usage is not enough to be a healer, I say "you need a healer" is a false statement.

Somewhat funny, I did indeed misunderstand you a bit, but your subsequent post actually re-validated my statement of you contradicting yourself:

Cavall wrote:
Even then, I wouldn't.

This means that no Wizard, no matter what, is ever a Healer. And that is contradictory with your given description of the healer as "Simply that you're the best of the group to do it." - a single corner case is indeed enough to prove the contradiction.

*) There are no banned schools in Pathfinder, only opposition schools, which have no effect on wand (or scroll) usability.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Spontaneous casters also get a lot more class features.

Don't extrapolate the design failures (because Paizo didn't was afraid to change too much from 3.5) that are Wizard and Cleric to all prepared full casters. I'd say Druid, Witch, Shaman, and Arcanist have plenty of class features.

Grand Lodge

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Not vital at all. My job as a Game Master is to make the adventure fun for everyone playing. Sometimes that means that I may have to modify, sometimes a lot, the adventures I am running to make it work for the group of characters my players decided on. For example; if there is no healer then maybe I have to toss out more healing items or change the nature of the combat players engage in.


Derklord wrote:

@Cavall: I really did mean "no matter the build", because since every Wizard can use a wand of Infernal Healing without UMD*, you saying "no" means that the ability to use a wand is not enough for you to qualify as a "healer". That was precisely what I was fishing for, in lack of a proper definition (maybe I'm jaded, but I've seen enough people unwilling to give a clear definition, presumably because they were too afraid of being contradicted, that I didn't really expect one).

As we've established that wand usage is not enough to be a healer, I say "you need a healer" is a false statement.

Somewhat funny, I did indeed misunderstand you a bit, but your subsequent post actually re-validated my statement of you contradicting yourself:

Cavall wrote:
Even then, I wouldn't.

This means that no Wizard, no matter what, is ever a Healer. And that is contradictory with your given description of the healer as "Simply that you're the best of the group to do it." - a single corner case is indeed enough to prove the contradiction.

*) There are no banned schools in Pathfinder, only opposition schools, which have no effect on wand (or scroll) usability.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Spontaneous casters also get a lot more class features.
Don't extrapolate the design failures (because Paizo didn't was afraid to change too much from 3.5) that are Wizard and Cleric to all prepared full casters. I'd say Druid, Witch, Shaman, and Arcanist have plenty of class features.

I had already classified doing something in a role as not the same as being that role. Having someone heal 1 hp isnt the same as being able to place someone out of death or dying and back into combat. That's not a healer that's just helping heal.

That's like saying you going frontline to use the wand is you being the group tank because you got hit 5 times and no one else did.

I saw what you were fishing for but I had already stated how I felt so you can be justified in what you want, it still doesnt make 1 hp a round a healer. Healing isnt the same as being the healer. The group you listed doesnt have a healer. It just has someone who can speed up downtime slightly. A potion of cure light is a better healer than that.


In my experience, you do need healing (at least for refreshing health after combat) and someone who can absorb damage on the frontline. Those are near requirement. The other two roles are something you need your party to fill unless your DM is going to go easy on you because you don't have them.

That being said, one character can fill multiple roles, or a role can be spread across several characters. For instance, a caster who can summon strong minions or take more powerful physical forms can be a very effective frontline. Especially if you aren't starting at level 1. So your wild shaper druid can be both your priest/healer and your frontline.

So 4 characters that fit four rock-solid roles? Not at all needed. A well-rounded party that makes sure all important aspects are covered? Fairly important if your DM isn't a softie.


The "roles" will vary according to the angle you use to inspect the matter, a few different combinations have been proposed and many have their merits.

The role requirement will also vary according to what kind of game you play. The default PF game today is quite different to the default D&D game of when it first started. With that style of game (gritty and deadly dungeon crawling for the sake of it), then a skill monkey character can be quite useful, and a "face" character not so much. Whereas nowadays, dungeons are no longer expected to be every single quest, and many players never see any traps anymore, while social interactions tend to take a bigger importance.

Roles can vary depending on if you look at combat specifically, or campaigns/challengers as a whole. The rogue plays no specific role in combat. He's a squishy second-rate martial, whose damage will circumstantially be roughly the same as dedicated martials. He's have more defenses (reflex saves, evasion, uncanny dodge, etc.) than your average fighter, but with probably a much lower HP pool, and much lower damage output when not flanking or otherwise getting his sneak attack. There isn't really anything the rogue does in combat that others don't do (better).

Rogues would excel more in out of combat utility. A large skill point pool, good class skills, and class perks to trap-finding and surviving. The rogue will typically be better equipped than most to spot and disable traps. And when that fails, he will typically be the best equipped to mitigate as much damage as possible. In theory, anyhow.

The rogue's problem is that he isn't even all that good at that. There are spells to find traps. A wizard will have very high int, giving him a lot of skills, on top of having spells that largely negate the point of investing in skills. Evasion can be bought (ring). Keeping dex bonus to AC against traps is made moot by the tough guy just wearing a blinged up full-plate armor (with maybe a shield). A paladin will probably have better saves than the rogue anyways, can wear full plate armor, and carry a full plate armor and a shield, and will then still have the ability to heal himself if he takes damage.

Add in all of the other skill monkey classes (bard, investigator, etc.), the rogue doesn't really cover any role that can't be better done by anyone else.

That can mostly be said of every class in PF, though, due to the sheer number of classes, which then have a billion archetypes (and variant multiclassing).

Thing is, PF wasn't designed around a handful of roles assumed by pre-set classes. And most things can be achieved through many different ways.


So, given how in-combat healing is usually a back-up or emergency plan in Pathfinder rather than a main focus, if a Wizard has a Wand of Infernal Healing for out-of-combat and has Particulate Form prepared a couple times, how is that not a healer?
And what about a character with a good Heal skill and Healer's Hands (potentially with something to boost that effect further, such as the Heal skill unlock)? That can potentially make anyone with lots of ranks in Heal and Knowledge(Planes) into a decent source of healing.
Roles are defined about as much by build as they are by class.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Yeah, I consider the true roles martial, caster, and skilled. And they can be filled by a lot of different class combos.

Silver Crusade

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Yeah, I consider the true roles martial, caster, and skilled. And they can be filled by a lot of different class combos.

My Dawnflower Dervish does all three. :)


Is that really enough? A magus or a bard is certainly a spellcaster but probably a very limited one. A skilled character might have mainly physical skills like stealth, social skills, knowledge skills, or a mix with a little of each; two different skilled characters might have nothing in common except perception. A martial character might be little better than a wizard in melee or little better than a wizard at range, depending on how they're specialised.


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I reckon there are at least 18 roles in the game, although clearly not all of equal weighting. The classic four character archetypes cover those 18 roles off fairly well but there are plenty of other combinations that do a better job. Of the classic four you can generally replace the rogue and fighter the easiest. A party of all wizards and clerics would be very formidable!

Here is my list of roles for anyone who is interested.

Character Roles

Battlefield Controller.
Typically a wizard, this character uses their abilities to change the battlefield conditions so as to be favourable to their allies and/or unfavourable to their enemies. This is effectively an indirect form of buffing/de-buffing.

Blaster.
Typically a sorcerer, this character specialises in inflicting large amounts of damage to multiple enemies, usually through area of effect spells like fireball. A Blaster that can inflict huge amounts of damage but is relatively weak defensively is sometimes referred to a glass cannon.

Buffer.
Typically a bard, cleric or wizard, this is a character who focuses on directly improving the mechanical abilities of their allies.

Crafter.
A character who builds or supplies equipment, which could be mundane, technological or magical to benefit their allies. This is typically the party wizard.

De-buffer.
A character focused on reducing the mechanical effectiveness of their enemies directly rather than indirectly through battlefield control or tactical means. The witch is the classic de-buffer character class.

Face.
This character is focused on the social interactions within the game. Any character class can be the face of the party but in practice it tends to be classes that favour high charisma scores like: bards, paladins, sorcerers and clerics.

Healer.
A character focused on healing damage and condition removal, sometimes referred to as the healbot. This is typically a cleric or oracle and other classes like alchemists and paladins can make good secondary healers.

Leader.
The party leader. This character is focused on getting the party to cooperate and pursue a common goal. This can be any character class although in practice most players will build a character that makes sense mechanically, for example they may have high charisma and/or the leadership feat. The Leader and Face are often the same character.

Melee Fighter.
A character focused on engaging the enemy in melee combat. This is typically a monk, barbarian, paladin or fighter. Melee Fighters often fulfil the role of Tank.

Ranged Fighter.
Typically a gunslinger, alchemist or archery focused ranger or fighter. This character specialises in dealing damage to the enemy from a distance.

Scholar.
This is a character who focuses on being very knowledgeable and sharing that knowledge with the other characters to improve their decision making. Mechanically this is a character that focuses on knowledge skills such as a bard or wizard.

Scout.
This is a character who specialises in finding potential threats and other things of interest without revealing their own location. Typically rogues and rangers make excellent Scouts.

Skill Master.
Also unkindly referred to as the skill monkey. This is a character with a large number of skills at a relatively high level. Their role is to fill the skill gaps within the party. Typical classes include: bards, rogues and wizards although other classes like alchemists, rangers and inquisitors can adequately fulfil this role as well.

Summoner.
This character summons, creates or otherwise procures NPCs to support the party. This is most commonly summoners or druids but can also be specialist wizards like conjurers or necromancers, or any character class with the leadership feat.

Survivalist.
This character helps the party find food, water, shelter and cope with various natural hazards. Typically, rangers and druids.

Tank.
A really tough character that is hard to damage and/or can take a lot of punishment. Ideally when in combat they are positioned so that they can prevent enemies from engaging more fragile party members like glass cannons (see Blaster). Tanks are typically barbarians, fighters or paladins and often fulfil the additional role of Melee Fighter. In some groups the Tank is replaced with summoned creatures that are uncharitably referred to as meat shields.

Transporter.
This character improves the mobility of the party. At mid to high levels this is usually wizards, sorcerers and clerics.

Trap Master.
This character is focused on finding and disarming traps and opening locks. Traditionally this is the province of the rogue, but other classes like investigators and rangers have archetypes that can perform this role as well.


Has anyone ever designed encounters around the roles? Like, say you've got a party of 4 3rd level characters and you want to put them up against a challenging, CR 5 encounter. Sure you could just pick a pair of ogres but those are just 2 big bags of HP. What if you went to the roles?

You might make an encounter filled with a Kobold Adept 3/Warrior 2 as a CR 2 healer/revitalizer; their main job is to kick out Bless spells, use their Small sized Familiar as a flanker or delivering Aid another, and to generally be there to help his side keep going.

For the Battlefield Controller, perhaps you have Belching Beheaded flying around using it's presence and ranged touch attacks to drive foes towards the main DPR creature in the group.

Finally, for the tank you use an ogre, a big tough brute that can take a lot of damage and dish some out too.

Do other GMs do this, or is it just me?


Boomerang Nebula wrote:

I reckon there are at least 18 roles in the game, although clearly not all of equal weighting. The classic four character archetypes cover those 18 roles off fairly well but there are plenty of other combinations that do a better job. Of the classic four you can generally replace the rogue and fighter the easiest. A party of all wizards and clerics would be very formidable!

Here is my list of roles for anyone who is interested.

Character Roles

This list is fairly accurate but there are a couple of things I would challenge.

I would say that crafter should not really be a role. You can have a perfectly functional party without a crafter. Depending on the setting you may or may not need it. In a low magic campaign where magic items are too valuable to sell it would be extremely important. In a setting where magic is common and you can purchase almost anything it is not that valuable. Change crafter to something like Supplier would be a more useful role.

Skill Master is a redundant role. You already have everything a skill master would do under more defined roles. Between the other roles you list there is not any skills the party will need that is not covered by another role. Basically this role is a combination of other roles. In some cases the character covering those roles may be the same character but that does not mean it has to be.


Mark Hoover 330 wrote:

Has anyone ever designed encounters around the roles? Like, say you've got a party of 4 3rd level characters and you want to put them up against a challenging, CR 5 encounter. Sure you could just pick a pair of ogres but those are just 2 big bags of HP. What if you went to the roles?

You might make an encounter filled with a Kobold Adept 3/Warrior 2 as a CR 2 healer/revitalizer; their main job is to kick out Bless spells, use their Small sized Familiar as a flanker or delivering Aid another, and to generally be there to help his side keep going.

For the Battlefield Controller, perhaps you have Belching Beheaded flying around using it's presence and ranged touch attacks to drive foes towards the main DPR creature in the group.

Finally, for the tank you use an ogre, a big tough brute that can take a lot of damage and dish some out too.

Do other GMs do this, or is it just me?

Not always, but yes I do.


Mark Hoover 330 wrote:

Has anyone ever designed encounters around the roles? Like, say you've got a party of 4 3rd level characters and you want to put them up against a challenging, CR 5 encounter. Sure you could just pick a pair of ogres but those are just 2 big bags of HP. What if you went to the roles?

You might make an encounter filled with a Kobold Adept 3/Warrior 2 as a CR 2 healer/revitalizer; their main job is to kick out Bless spells, use their Small sized Familiar as a flanker or delivering Aid another, and to generally be there to help his side keep going.

For the Battlefield Controller, perhaps you have Belching Beheaded flying around using it's presence and ranged touch attacks to drive foes towards the main DPR creature in the group.

Finally, for the tank you use an ogre, a big tough brute that can take a lot of damage and dish some out too.

Do other GMs do this, or is it just me?

I've definitely done it, though less with Pathfinder. It used to be one of those 'trope encounters', another adventuring party, at cross-purposes. I do still do that sort of thing occasionally,

I'm not sure how I'll end up using them yet, but I started building a group of centaurs for the basic roles just last night.


@ Mysterious Stranger,

Possibly Supplier is a better term than Crafter. The other term I have seen on the boards for the same concept is Quartermaster. In other gaming systems you might see other terms like Fixer in Cyberpunk and Gadgeteer in GURPS. I used the word Crafter to reflect that manufacturing magic items in Pathfinder is really cost effective so many parties have that role filled.

I don’t agree on the Skill Master, but that might be a matter of semantics.


I don’t think I have ever seen someone playing the Leader role. Maybe that’s to do with the style of our gaming groups, which all seem to be some variant on the anarcho-syndicalist collective.


Odd. I'm usually the leader of the group. But I play the face often, so it's easy to take that role up.


I've played the leader plenty - with one group I'd gotten so tired of it, I built a character that was a country bumpkin - a lumberjack by trade, but barely an adult. After a fairly nasty fight, a knight (PC) actually turned to me and asked, "So, what do we do, now?" I was flabbergasted.

Nobody could make any decisions on their own...except me.


That sounds more like other players turning to you as a player, not anything in-character.


Derklord wrote:
That sounds more like other players turning to you as a player, not anything in-character.

That's the essence of it, but it was in character as well. I specifically built that character that way to allow, and even encourage others to take a bigger part in the game. I was happy when someone who was typically pretty passive decided to play a knight. I was hoping he would at least attempt to play the character as he described him, and might try to be a bit assertive. I was ready to follow, as my character was designed to do. I wanted to take that break from leading the party (or running the game).

It failed. Miserably. Some people simply refuse to lead, and won't even make suggestions regarding strategy. I had trouble believing any roleplayer couldn't (or wouldn't) take some level of initiative, but that taught me better.


Like most things it depends on your table/how you play.

Our group played through most of Serpants Skull without a full BAB character. As we got to higher levels we found the 3/4 characters were increasingly into combat before they could buff up. Eventually the inquisitor multiclassed into Fighter.

Our Kingmaker group's only divine spell caster was a paladin. The constant drain of gp's into consumables got to the point the paladin multiclassed into cleric. We just felt we had sexier things to spend our money on.

Our Jade Regent group's only Arcane caster is a Summoner. They are doing OK at the moment, but I think it will cost them at higher levels.

DMing styles make a massive difference in all of this.

Silver Crusade

Full BAB characters are definitely not required. Our Ironfang Invasion party is 16th lvl, and the frontline consists of my full plate wearing Shaman, and two animal companions. The only time it's gotten a bit dicey is when we get surprised unbuffed, and lose initiative.

There's a decent number of ways to make a tough 3/4 BAB melee character.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
PCScipio wrote:

Full BAB characters are definitely not required. Our Ironfang Invasion party is 16th lvl, and the frontline consists of my full plate wearing Shaman, and two animal companions. The only time it's gotten a bit dicey is when we get surprised unbuffed, and lose initiative.

There's a decent number of ways to make a tough 3/4 BAB melee character.

There are also a few ways for a "3/4 BAB" character to gain what is functionally "almost full" (or even explicitly full) BAB in a limited fashion. Off the top of my head, magi, occultists, and oracles are three classes that can do so:

1) A magus can take the Arcane Accuracy magus arcana to add their Int mod as an insight bonus (which stacks with the normal Str or Dex mod) on all attack rolls in that round by spending a point from their arcane pool.

2) Occultists can (and for combat-focused ones, should) take the Trappings of the Warrior panoply at 3rd or 6th level to gain (up to) full BAB with their primary weapon (Transmutation implement). This can either be for a melee-focused (weapon and either light or heavy shield) or archer (bow and buckler) character.

3) Elf or half-elf oracles with the Wood mystery and the Wood Bond revelation can make superb archers by applying the alternate elf favored class bonus (+1/6 per level to calculating the oracle's level for the effects of the Wood Bond revelation; not capped by HD). Wood Bond grants a competence bonus (stacks with the luck bonus from divine favor or divine power) with "a bow, club, quarterstaff, or spear" of +1, increasing by +1 at 5th, 10th, 15th, etc.; with the FCB, the bonus is +1 at 1st, +2 at 5th, +3 at 9th, +4 at 13th, and +5 at 18th (basically the same "un-buffed" highest attack bonus as a full BAB class except for 17th level, just with less possible iteratives). You can even switch the FCB to something else after 12th level; a half-elf may be a better long-term choice to learn extra spells from 13th level and up.

Shadow Lodge

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And of course, add bard for inspire courage to make everyone better.


4) Inquisitors, judgement as a swift action gives decent to hit bonuses a limited number of times per day that makes up for 3/4 BAB. Plus if they have time to buff they have a number of spells to increase: to hit, damage, AC etc. if they can make use of their teamwork feats then they can operate as a reasonable substitute for a front line melee fighter.


Dragonchess Player wrote:
There are also a few ways for a "3/4 BAB" character to gain what is functionally "almost full" (or even explicitly full) BAB in a limited fashion.

Almost every non-full-caster medium BAB class has non-spell means to make up for their lower BAB: Bard has Inspire Courage, Inquisitor has Justice Judgment and Bane, Magus has Arcane Pool, Alchemist has Mutagen, Hunter has Animal Focus, Skald has Raging Song, Warpriest has Sacred Weapon, Investigator has Studied Combat, Occultist has Transmutation Implements's Physical Enhancement (or Trappings of the Warrior), Medium has Champion's Spirit Bonus, Vigilante has Avenger specialization, Kineticist has Elemental Overflow. Monk has unMonk. Summoner and Spiritualist have their buddy that does the fighting for them.

Missing from the list: Mesmerist, Rogue, Ninja.

It should be noted that all of these abilities are either long-time or activatable as a swift action.

EldonGuyre wrote:
That's the essence of it, but it was in character as well.

Well, it they act it out in-character but it's purely based on out-of-character things, that has nothing to do with any role your character might have.

Haldrick wrote:
Our Kingmaker group's only divine spell caster was a paladin. The constant drain of gp's into consumables got to the point the paladin multiclassed into cleric. We just felt we had sexier things to spend our money on.

What level are we talking about? And what consumables are we talking about? Because I don't see how going late in to Cleric could possibly halp at statt where consumables could work when the Paladin's LoH, Mercies, and own spells can't.

Haldrick wrote:
Our group played through most of Serpants Skull without a full BAB character. As we got to higher levels we found the 3/4 characters were increasingly into combat before they could buff up. Eventually the inquisitor multiclassed into Fighter.

Was that for offense or defense? Not that I understand how multiclassing into Fighter at highish level has a notable impact on either...


You dont see how a feat, all martial proficiency and heavy armour might be helpful for combat?

Haha ok.

Silver Crusade

@OP: Those traditional 'four roles' were obsolete in 3rd edition. Pathfinder is based on version 3.5. Those roles are obsolete and no longer apply.

Here's a terrific essay, from ten years ago, that applies the wisdom of Sun Tzu to Pathfinder on this very topic.


One other thing re: play style, I told my players up front that at level 7 I'd be handing out Leadership as a free feat. From level 1 the players got together and decided to spend some of their starting gold to hire some NPCs to fill in some of the spellcasting gaps.

The reason I brought up Leadership is because they figured from the start that these hirelings could become their Cohorts. They've treated them very well, paid them well, and helped the NPCs get some decent gear too. As such, now as they turn 4th level they have a female halfling witch that is constantly delivering buffs or Aid Another bonuses from the periphery of battle and there's a half-orc who originally took levels in Adept and then converted to Cleric who is so well-armored he routinely stands very close to melee and adds Bless, Cure spells or still other bonuses to the PCs.

As such we have a party consisting of an Unchained Rogue, an Unchained Monk, a Paladin and a Magus. The party is doing really well and is never hurting for healing/revitalization. They're doing SO well in fact that I have decided to optimize monsters they face to try and keep pace with the group as well as considering them a 5 person party.


Senko wrote:
I've seena few posts lately that made me wonder this. How vital do you consider each of the 4 traditional roles (fighter, mage, priest or rogue)? Could you make a viable party for an uknown campaign where you dropped one or more of these roles e.g. no full or partial arcane caster or no full attack martial class (fighter, barbarian, etc). Would you need at least a hybrid of the lost role e.g. magus?...

Usually the 5 of us get to talk to each other and make sure all the various roles are filled or at least somewhat filled. This time the DM talked to each of us separately and took the character we chose not knowing what the others took.

The Dm gave us some rules for his next game, no elves or dwarves but we could pick one of the Elemental races for a half breed PC. He let us run with what each of us wanted to play no matter what. So we ended up with a Swashbuckler Human (with a phobia of insects), a Sylph Witch (my character who is also the healer of the party), an Undine Unchained Rogue, an Ifrit Sorcerer, and a Archanist/Bard. Our rogue has the highest strength and is the tank in the party...The Swashbuckler is next best but not really a super fighter. My witch has saved the party's butts quite a few times with one of her cantrips, "Lightning Sand". It works great on the lower level mob and allows the Rogue and the Swashbuckler to handle only a couple at a time.

Right now we are all 3rd level. If we can ever get enough gold together my witch can start brewing potions, hopefully healing potions.

This is the first time I have played where we didn't have a killer fighter in the party... It is interesting and we have to watch what we do. And if we have to fight bugs the Swashbuckler runs away LOL...

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