Drawing the line between archetypes and classes


Advice


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

How does one decide whether a given concept should be an archetype, or a fully realized class? Where does Paizo draw that line, and why?

I don't expect to get an answer from the developers, and even they weere inclined to respond, I feel such things would be better suited for the official blog anyways (wink wink), so instead I propose the following point of discussion to the community:

Where do you belive that line SHOULD be drawn?


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Archetypes as described in the CRB alter or replace some of the class' static features.

So I feel like if an idea could be executed by changing out one or two class features on an existing class and added some new class feats, it'd be better off as an archetype.

If an idea could potentially be accomplished in-class, but requires a significant amount of investment to 'enable' and either takes a long time to come together or hurts your ability to customize your character, Paizo should probably look into new ways to enable it, whether it's an archetype or new class or whatever.

That said, more choices for players is better than not, so I think there's plenty of leeway here.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I think a lot of it ends up, in practical terms, being a question of "do we feel like we have enough material to for a really distinct class identity?" If I was trying to develop these myself, I would also be asking "do more interesting combinations come from this being an archetype?"

For example, if I ask myself how I would convert the magus to 2E, it seems fairly evident that Spellstrike is a must. And I could easily make focus spells out if the arcane pool options. The kind of action economy manipulation that Spell Combat provided isn't really called for, though. Additionally, I see that we don't have any kind of lower casting level chassis defined. So I would ask myself "What gives more interesting characters to the game? A magus class, or a magus archetype that can go on top of any spellcaster who is proficient with at least 1 martial melee weapon?"


For me this line separate the diference of a Class and a real Prestige subclass.

When I say that works good like a prestige class is not like as the WotC do since the D&D 3.0, where these classes are a overpowered special multiclass. But at main conpect of the word "prestige", like a special variant of a class with little modifications.

Ex.:
I class like an archane archer would not good to be just a prestige/archetype class becouse such class have a unique game play style, they aren't just an archer class that learn some magic to help them fight, or a caster that uses a bow. They are a class that specializes them self in a synergetical use of their archery with magic in their own unique and different away that any other classes. So such class for me work batter as being their own class than being an archtype.

But I class like Purple Kights works more like a specialized/regionalize fighter/champiom class that gain some special caracterists but they still fighters in essence. They gain more especialized abilites and some area lore, but they still are essencialy fighters/champions. So for me they work better being an archtype than having their own class.


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HammerJack wrote:
A magus class, or a magus archetype that can go on top of any spellcaster who is proficient with at least 1 martial melee weapon?"

I feel like this is where the question of investment has to come in, though. A magus archetype makes a lot of sense given the direction PF2 goes, but when you look at the game's feat budget for weapons and armor and then consider appropriate feat costs for something like spell combat or spell strike and it ends up feeling like you're going to spend a significant chunk of your character simply 'turning on' your identity, which I think is problematic when it comes to trying to personalize your character.

It also means that you're likely looking at not being able to be a Magus until level 2, possibly 4 or even 6 depending on how the features come together.

I used to be a big proponent of just doing everything with archetypes, but the way PF2 does feats makes that prohibitively costly in a way that I think makes it better to err on the side of new classes instead.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think we are missing the thing that lies on the border between a class and an archetype: an example of a class archetype. So far, no archetype has yet removed a class feature, which according to Mark Seifter is the sort of thing for which a class archetype would be designed. Once we have a few class archetypes to peruse, we should have a better idea as to how far a class archetype can go before someone says, "To heck with this -- we need a new class."


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Squiggit wrote:
...it ends up feeling like you're going to spend a significant chunk of your character simply 'turning on' your identity, which I think is problematic...

Is that not already a problem with the core classes and archetypes?

Silver Crusade

David knott 242 wrote:


I think we are missing the thing that lies on the border between a class and an archetype: an example of a class archetype. So far, no archetype has yet removed a class feature, which according to Mark Seifter is the sort of thing for which a class archetype would be designed. Once we have a few class archetypes to peruse, we should have a better idea as to how far a class archetype can go before someone says, "To heck with this -- we need a new class."

I think you're exactly right. To take the example of a Magus, we can already come quite close with a Martial/Caster multiclass. To get any closer, I think we'd be best served by doing something with the Wizard very similar to what the Warpriest does to the Cloistered Cleric. Lose some features, gain some, all in a more or less (hopefully more :-)) balanced fashion


Ravingdork wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
...it ends up feeling like you're going to spend a significant chunk of your character simply 'turning on' your identity, which I think is problematic...
Is that not already a problem with the core classes and archetypes?

It can be, yeah, which is why I think it's something to be mindful of going forward.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Archetypes tend to be very linear in terms of choice progression whereas classes tend to be branching due to the number of feats and class feature options.


I think an important consideration is how many potential options exist besides the bare minimum.

Taking the magus for example.
* If we look at the basics we have: Spellstrike, Arcane Pool, Spell Recall, Martial Proficiencies, and Martial Saves.
* However, if we look at all the options we also have: Magus Arcana and all the different Magus Archetypes.

Aka the number of thematic and nondistinguisable (aka cant be made into its own archetype) potential options is greater than the number of feats available for an archetype even if every feat is given to the archetype.

Cavalier in the other hand fails to meet this goal as the entirity of the Order ability are; 1) not that thematic to the idea of a mounted character; 2) most of the orders would work just as well as an actual Archetype.

Oracle is kind of a mix. It has enough options that an archetype alone wont cover it. But mysteries are self contained enough that they could with some work fit into their own archetypes.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

What about archetypes like the Hellknight. Within the archetype you have different Hellknight orders.

Could you not do so.ething similar for cavalier, witch patrons, or really, anyone at all?


Regardless of the lines between classes and archetypes... I just want want the same level of changes to the core class that some PF1e archetypes had. Some archetypes were REALLY interesting and they're sitting in a weird place right now.

I REALLY, REALLY, want the old Class-specific and Race-Specific archetypes back. They are way more interesting than we have so far, because they have the benefit of being focused and balanced against a singe class' features.

So far, we've only got multiclass and prestige classes adapted to this new system. Maybe the old classes archetypes will become future class paths, but I certainly think that Paizo will be definitely ignoring one of the biggest strengths of Pathfinder 1st Edition and what worries me that, so far, there hasn't been any conversation or information on the topic, at least not that I'm aware of and I've been making a point of checking this forum when I can (these days I'm really expecting the new batch of errata, and hopefully balance patch, though.

Liberty's Edge

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I think the dividing line is playstyle.

If what you're imagining plays, at least for the most part, just like a Fighter (or Wizard, or whatever) possibly with one or two exceptions, then it should just be a Class Archetype.

If, on the other hand, the playstyle and mechanical underpinnings are quite different then you might have a new Class on your hands.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

For a new (non core class) play style and mechanic should be the defining features.

Swashbuckler from the playtest is a perfect example of this. It could have been a rogue/fighter type archetype but Panache is a unique mechanic promoting a different playstyle to either fighter or rogue and thus makes a great class.

For me if it doesn't bring a unique class mechanic that promotes a play style different to existing classes than it should probably be an archetype.

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