Martial Magicks: A Guide for the Second Edition Magus


Advice


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

This is my first attempt at writing a guide and it is my hope that some people in the Pathfinder community find a use for it. I humbly present...

Martial Magicks: A Thesis on the Blending of Arcane and Martial Prowess

Analysis of the majority of archetypes is still a Work-in-Progress, and I will update the guide as they are finished.


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Good Lord.

Over 140 pages of guide... I am still at the beginning ( I also scrolled down to see the different chapters. How you managed to divide the guilde ) but I already find it really clean and detailed.

Good Job there.

ps: As a fellow Laughing Skull magus, I want to also add that once you hit lvl 10 and take dimensional disappearance you can also use it to shadowstep on your allies ( since dimensional assault require a creature, and not an enemy, and the attack would then be optional ).

It can also be used to shield yourself as third action ( spellstrike + dimensional disappearance > wait invisible until the start of your next round, then spellstrike ) as you mentioned.

I am going to play mine (DEX laughing skull magus ) on wednesday ( starting from lvl 12 ), and I am excited to see how it's going to work on a non white room scenario!


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Nice formatted. I did enjoy most of your ratings and there were a few surprises too. I did enjoy your Magus view on spells as it was different to my take which was Sorcerer orientated.

I notice there was no discussion of builds options like
Level 2:Cleric Dedication, Level 4: Domain Initiate for Fire Ray,

Or non Conflux focus spells in general.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Good to see I'm two for two on formatting if nothing else. lol.

Gortle wrote:

Nice formatted. I did enjoy most of your ratings and there were a few surprises too. I did enjoy your Magus view on spells as it was different to mine take which was Sorcerer orientated.

I notice there was no discussion of builds options like
Level 2:Cleric Dedication, Level 4: Domain Initiate for Fire Ray,

Or non Conflux focus spells in general.

I confess I had completely forgotten about other focus spells that might be useful for the Magus. While writing the guide I got rather laser-focused on the action-efficiency of their native Conflux spells and how other focus spells lacked that.

From a very quick look at other focus spells it does seem that there are some potentially nice combinations I'm overlooking by doing that. I'll re-evaluate focus spells from other classes and any that wind up being noteworthy will be added to the archetype's description as my next update. Thank you for the input!

Grand Archive

Great guide, will definitely be reading through this for ideas. The color-coding of all the Ancestry Feats as a quick glance review tool without needing to go into great detail was a great touch.

Thanks!


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Nintendogeek01 wrote:
I'll re-evaluate focus spells from other classes and any that wind up being noteworthy will be added to the archetype's description as my next update. Thank you for the input!

The best options that scale at round about 1d12 per spell level are:

Fire Ray, Winter Bolt, and Withering Grasp from Cleric, Stone Lance from Druid.
Focus spells are just a good way to get around your 4 slot problem as a Magus and gives you the flexibility to other things with your spells.


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Always nice to see a detailed guide, thanks for that!

I've only skimmed a few chapters so far but one thing that stood out to me was your round-to-round-breakdown. I don't think going for Arcane Cascade on turn one is a great idea.

My resoning is:

- A turn 1 Spellstrike might outright take a weaker enemy out on a good roll (maybe with some extra damage from your allies). That's more valuable than pretty much any spell you could cast.
- Magus comes with very effective one-action focus spells that make activating Arcane Cascade easy. Those focus spells also recharge your Spellstrike so using them before your first Spellstrike is a waste. But your breakdown basically means you won't need to recharge before turn 3 and by that time, many fights are already decided, greatly diminishing the impact of your focus spell.

So basically, I'd usually prioritize getting a Spellstrike off over entering Arcane Cascade. Something like

Turn 1: Stride, Spellstrike
Turn 2: Use Hybrid Study focus spell to recharge, enter Arcane Cascade. Use third action as needed for Strike, Stride, Recall Knowledge or similar.
Turn 3: Spellstrike and whatever.

Arcane Cascade isn't nearly as impactful as similar abilities of other classes like Monk Stances or Barbarian Rage. I'd use it as my "other" ability, completely secondary to Spellstrike.

There are exceptions of course. If you win initiative and can catch 5 enemies in a Fireball, go for it. Or maybe you're facing flying enemies and need to cast Fly on yourself on turn one. Situations like that will (and should) change your tactics, obviously. But for most regular combats, an early Spellstrike beats entering Cascade more often than not.

Note: My only personal experience is with a Sparkling Targe Magus. The priority shifts a bit if you have another Hybird Study but even for the ones with the best Cascade effects, I can't really see myself going for it over a Spellstrike.

Liberty's Edge

Your guide looks pretty awesome. If you want to complete it based on other people's view/experience of the Magus, you can check the other Magus guide and the Magus threads around here (Advice forum mostly, but General too, and maybe Rules).

I feel that your work is advanced enough and your understanding of the class deep enough that doing so now will enhance your guide rather than detract from its focus.


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I fully agree with Blave. A turn 1 Spellstrike can turn a tough fight into a breeze if you're lucky enough.

I'd also give more incentive to rerolling your Spellstrike. There's not just True Strike, you can also use Hero Points, and some abilities like Guiding Luck. Rerolling Spellstrike is very important, if you can do it consistantly you should outdamage every martial with a Magus.


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Thanks for the feedback everyone!

I'll admit in my personal experience I've had the majority of my encounters as a player tended be fairly large affairs or starting at a distance from enemies, so Arcane Cascade's more long-term benefits appealed to me greatly. But Blave, I do have to grant you did remind me of the occasional fights I had where I did start almost adjacent to enemies and yeah, like you said, I immediately went for the spellstrike. I agree that spellstrike takes priority and have updated the tactics section with some thoughts on that, as well as some observations on hybrid studies individual bonuses.

Also thank you Superbidi, I had completely forgotten to mention re-rolls. Added that in under Spellstrike Usage.

Focus Spells and Archetypes are still pending update and will probably take a while. There are a lot of them...


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

So one thing that I am interested in. In my current game, we rolled for our stats, and I got some high scores so I buffed up Charisma with my Magus just to have something different.

Everyone seems to rank Distracting Spellstrike pretty low, but with a very high CHA and proficiency in Deception, would that be a more viable feat? Or is it still kind of meh, since we have a Rouge on our party and with easy access to short range teleportation, flanking is not hard to get with him?


Posting the link to this in the Guide to the Guides thread to make it easier to find.


Vali Nepjarson wrote:

So one thing that I am interested in. In my current game, we rolled for our stats, and I got some high scores so I buffed up Charisma with my Magus just to have something different.

Everyone seems to rank Distracting Spellstrike pretty low, but with a very high CHA and proficiency in Deception, would that be a more viable feat? Or is it still kind of meh, since we have a Rouge on our party and with easy access to short range teleportation, flanking is not hard to get with him?

High Charisma and Deception is usually very low on the priority list for a Magus. That's why the feat is bad in general. Flat-Footed being relatively easy to apply by other means doesn't help either.

That being said, a high deception score obviously makes the feat better. It might barely push the feat to a green rating. A free Feint as effect is definitely good. The question is mostly is this worth a feat? The low level feats of the magus aren't that great overall so you might find room for it.


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Vali Nepjarson wrote:

So one thing that I am interested in. In my current game, we rolled for our stats, and I got some high scores so I buffed up Charisma with my Magus just to have something different.

Everyone seems to rank Distracting Spellstrike pretty low, but with a very high CHA and proficiency in Deception, would that be a more viable feat? Or is it still kind of meh, since we have a Rouge on our party and with easy access to short range teleportation, flanking is not hard to get with him?

I find Distracting Spellstrike to be quite strong if you manage to have enough Charisma to make it happen. Flat-Footed is pretty important to get on Spellstrike, so another source is always good to have.

In my opinion, the feat is even worth it if you don't have much Charisma, just because it's free. So with good Charisma, it's gold to me (for a level 4 feat).


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Vali Nepjarson wrote:

So one thing that I am interested in. In my current game, we rolled for our stats, and I got some high scores so I buffed up Charisma with my Magus just to have something different.

Everyone seems to rank Distracting Spellstrike pretty low, but with a very high CHA and proficiency in Deception, would that be a more viable feat? Or is it still kind of meh, since we have a Rouge on our party and with easy access to short range teleportation, flanking is not hard to get with him?

I consider Distracting Spellstrike generally viable with or without high CHA, just not a particularly optimal option a Magus could take. Though yeah if you got high CHA then yes that makes that feat much more amazing!

You and your rogue might not always be able to flank an opponent so having another means to make them flat-footed is golden.


Distracting spell is kinda limiting in terms of hybrid studies since it requires a free hand, but a laughing skull magus could probably make some use out of it.

Also, gaining your feint the magical trait, it would trigger the +1/2 against spells and magical effects many enemies have.

Though, imo, I'd never go for it ( I'd look for an archetype feat instead ).


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HumbleGamer wrote:

Distracting spell is kinda limiting in terms of hybrid studies since it requires a free hand, but a laughing skull magus could probably make some use out of it.

Also, gaining your feint the magical trait, it would trigger the +1/2 against spells and magical effects many enemies have.

Though, imo, I'd never go for it ( I'd look for an archetype feat instead ).

Quick question, why are people refering to laughing shadow as laughing skull?

I think I've seen that pop up multiple times recently ?


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AlastarOG wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:

Distracting spell is kinda limiting in terms of hybrid studies since it requires a free hand, but a laughing skull magus could probably make some use out of it.

Also, gaining your feint the magical trait, it would trigger the +1/2 against spells and magical effects many enemies have.

Though, imo, I'd never go for it ( I'd look for an archetype feat instead ).

Quick question, why are people refering to laughing shadow as laughing skull?

I think I've seen that pop up multiple times recently ?

Maybe it was me all the times...

I also have no idea why I keep writing skull rather than shadow...


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I doubled check and it was you!!

I thought I was missing out on some slick new meta build that merged laughing shadows with death metal music or whatnot !

Liberty's Edge

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Noticed it too. I blame Book of the Dead.

Time to plan for a Skeleton Magus.


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HumbleGamer wrote:

Maybe it was me all the times...

I also have no idea why I keep writing skull rather than shadow...

Yeah I didn't want to say anything but it was kinda driving me nuts. lol


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Someday Paizo will release a Laughing Skull archetype...


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The problem with distracting spellstrike is that you have to be in cascade. So most of the time you are spellstriking round 1, getting into cascade round 2 (if you even bother which is a different discussion) so then maybe get to use distracting spellstrike on round 3.

Also, your guide should probably mention that laughing shadow's speed boost from cascade is pretty much useless by lvl 8 or so when you have a wand of longstrider, which is better and doesn't stack.


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CaffeinatedNinja wrote:


Also, your guide should probably mention that laughing shadow's speed boost from cascade is pretty much useless by lvl 8 or so when you have a wand of longstrider, which is better and doesn't stack.

I actually mention the redundancy in the spells section for Longstrider. Which one is preferable is one bit I'd rather not weigh in on, so far as I'm concerned different strokes there.


Nintendogeek01 wrote:
Vali Nepjarson wrote:

So one thing that I am interested in. In my current game, we rolled for our stats, and I got some high scores so I buffed up Charisma with my Magus just to have something different.

Everyone seems to rank Distracting Spellstrike pretty low, but with a very high CHA and proficiency in Deception, would that be a more viable feat? Or is it still kind of meh, since we have a Rouge on our party and with easy access to short range teleportation, flanking is not hard to get with him?

I consider Distracting Spellstrike generally viable with or without high CHA, just not a particularly optimal option a Magus could take. Though yeah if you got high CHA then yes that makes that feat much more amazing!

You and your rogue might not always be able to flank an opponent so having another means to make them flat-footed is golden.

One thought I had for a Magus who wants a good Charisma is for them to pick up some innate cantrips via their ancestry. Gnomes & elves would be a good fit, since they can access quite a few innate cantrips with their heritage and ancestry feats, as well as Tengu & Kitsune.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Nintendogeek01 wrote:
CaffeinatedNinja wrote:


Also, your guide should probably mention that laughing shadow's speed boost from cascade is pretty much useless by lvl 8 or so when you have a wand of longstrider, which is better and doesn't stack.
I actually mention the redundancy in the spells section for Longstrider. Which one is preferable is one bit I'd rather not weigh in on, so far as I'm concerned different strokes there.

Oh fair, I missed that.

But the wand (as long as it is up of course) is better for anything but an unarmored magus at lvl 10. And they are cheap enough to have multiple by then hah. Just something to consider.

Liberty's Edge

The Arcane Cascade benefit of Twisting tree should be at least Green. There are many reasons to need a free hand. And scrolls of True Strike are the biggest one for a Magus.
The benefit allows you to cast True Strike from a scroll, shift your grip to 2-hands for free and Spellstrike.

Liberty's Edge

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Note that the Optional flaw rule is NOT an optional rule. Your GM can disallow it, of course. But the system allows it by default, so that any ancestry can start with an 18 in their primary stat, whatever their class.

Liberty's Edge

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In the Cleric MC Dedication text, you mention Heal as a source of positive damage against undead, but there is also Disrupt Undead, which is a cantrip ;-)

Liberty's Edge

I would rate Expansive Spellstrike as blue as far as Starlit Span is concerned because you actually have more freedom when placing cones or lines, which means more opportunities to hit several enemies with your spell.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
The Raven Black wrote:

The Arcane Cascade benefit of Twisting tree should be at least Green. There are many reasons to need a free hand. And scrolls of True Strike are the biggest one for a Magus.

The benefit allows you to cast True Strike from a scroll, shift your grip to 2-hands for free and Spellstrike.

I had failed to consider that. I do believe I'm in agreement with you.

The Raven Black wrote:
Note that the Optional flaw rule is NOT an optional rule. Your GM can disallow it, of course. But the system allows it by default, so that any ancestry can start with an 18 in their primary stat, whatever their class.

Technically true and I'll edit, but... kind of a splitting hairs thing, lol. Well no worries, like I said I'll edit.

The Raven Black wrote:
In the Cleric MC Dedication text, you mention Heal as a source of positive damage against undead, but there is also Disrupt Undead, which is a cantrip ;-)

Uh... <.<

Uh... >.>

That was a test! You passed! (lol, okay no that's a good catch I missed will fix).

The Raven Black wrote:
I would rate Expansive Spellstrike as blue as far as Starlit Span is concerned because you actually have more freedom when placing cones or lines, which means more opportunities to hit several enemies with your spell.

I'm in disagreement here. While the area placement is true I don't think it warrants a bump up in rating given the Magus still has better things to do than use save-based multi-target blasts with their DC's. Still I'll grant the Starlit Span's more flexible placement does warrant at least a mention.

Liberty's Edge

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Realized I did not thank you for this great guide. It helped me immensely in creating my first Magus for today's game. You could almost call it the Complete guide to the Magus. And really my points are minor.

I hope you will do similar guides for the other classes, even though I see how much effort went into this one.

Very well done.

Sovereign Court

I'm curious about peoples' take on Arcane Shroud. What are the best spells to trigger it with?

I feel like for example Stoneskin would be really nice to get out of it, but I'm having a tough time picking abjuration spells I'd be happy to prepare as a magus.


Ascalaphus wrote:

I'm curious about peoples' take on Arcane Shroud. What are the best spells to trigger it with?

I feel like for example Stoneskin would be really nice to get out of it, but I'm having a tough time picking abjuration spells I'd be happy to prepare as a magus.

I also like stoneskin, but what bothers me is that having to expend 1 action on a character like the magus could be sometimes not worth it.

Let's take a standard lvl 14 magus

Magus Spellcasting
2x lvl 7 spells
2x lvl 6 spells

Hybrid Study
2x lvl 4 spells ( specific spells + extra ones from the hybrid study )

Ring of wizardry 2/3/4
2x lvl 2/3/4 spells
1x lvl 1/2/3 spell

Spell Battery
1x lvl 4 spell

Endless Grimoire
1x lvl 3/5 spell

Basic Spellcasting ( archetype )
1x lvl 1 spell
1x lvl 2 spell
1x lvl 3 spell

So, in the end, 14 spells per day that "may" trigger arcane shroud.

My considerations:

1) True strike + Spellstrike won't allow the magus to trigger arcane shroud ( even considering a magus only using true strikes from its slots and not exploiting it with scrolls ).

2) Won't trigger on "basic" spellstrikes ( cantrips / focus spells )

3) using it would require to cast a spell ( if the spell won't work with spellstrike ) and then expend an action to trigger it. For example:

- Fly + Cascade
- Mirror image + cascade
- Stoneskin + cascade
- Cone of cold + cascade

4) Spell Redundancy, aka some spells would stuff you already cast:

- Stoneskin > Abjuration > Stoneskin
- fire Shield > Evocation > Fire shield

The others I think they are fine ( sine you won't probably cast those specific spells during a combat )

5) Blink ( randomly moving at the end of the turn an action starving character like the magus could not be the best idea, even if the spell gives you an awesome DR ).

Conclusions:

A magus has, in my opinion, not many interesting alternatives by lvl 14 ( talking about the class, no archetypes involved ), so Arcane Shroud may be a really fa nice feat to take.

Though the magus won't probably use it on every single spell cast from a spell slot ( for example, I like to bring a high level stoneskin for the boss fight ), if correctly positioned and spellstrike ready, the shroud could probably do the trick.

But overall I think that recharging a spellstrike ( and try to fit something else from a dedication, for example expert spellcasting ) could be more interesting.

Action management is pretty tight when it comes down to a magus.


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Ascalaphus wrote:

I'm curious about peoples' take on Arcane Shroud. What are the best spells to trigger it with?

I feel like for example Stoneskin would be really nice to get out of it, but I'm having a tough time picking abjuration spells I'd be happy to prepare as a magus.

If you want Stoneskin just for Stoneskin I'm of the opinion you're better off just preparing Stoneskin in its current best spell slot and just casting it straight.

That said for Arcane Shroud, you can use Resist Energy, Energy Aegis, or Prismatic Armor and then drop into Arcane Shroud for the Stoneskin buff and voila! You are able to resist not just physical damage, but energy damage too! Take that Dragon!

Remember, your main strength as a prepared caster is having the right spells for the right situations.


Ascalaphus wrote:

I'm curious about peoples' take on Arcane Shroud. What are the best spells to trigger it with?

I feel like for example Stoneskin would be really nice to get out of it, but I'm having a tough time picking abjuration spells I'd be happy to prepare as a magus.

The best schools with the spell that I find to use on it.

Abjuration - Warding Agression is the most interesting here, as you an AC bonus and then can gain Stoneskin as well, making you pretty tanky that turn. Resilient Sphere is also decent as even if the enemy make the save you still remove an action and gives them MAP if it have to strike.

Conjuration - Blink Charge can be an opener, blood feast if allowed is the best Spellstrike spell in the game.

Enchantment - Heroism is good and not in the Arcane list, but the best spells are mostly save based, like Roaring Applause, so best used when not neglecting Intelligence and having extra slots from a Witch or Wizard MC.

Evocation - All the main offensive spellstrike spells are here anyway.

Illusion - The effect is good but it's the lvl 2 spell, and unlike enchantment that you don't have access to Heroism, you do have access to Invisibility, so it's best to just use it as a lvl 4 spell and ignore the shroud effect.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

This is good guide, I'm reading through the ancestry section right now, I should point out that optional flaw would let a Gnome start with 18 Strength (you mention them having to be a step behind), though it would make their other stats even dicier. To my knowledge Optional Flaw is not a variant rule, just something the player themselves elects whether or not to do.


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The-Magic-Sword wrote:
This is good guide, I'm reading through the ancestry section right now, I should point out that optional flaw would let a Gnome start with 18 Strength (you mention them having to be a step behind), though it would make their other stats even dicier. To my knowledge Optional Flaw is not a variant rule, just something the player themselves elects whether or not to do.

Thank you for the feedback. :)

One reason I preceded the whole section by saying it's written assuming the flaws aren't used, and also threw in some general advice applicable to any ancestry if you do take the additional flaws.

Anyways... I had thought I'd already corrected any mention of it being an optional rule... but I think I see where the confusion is coming from; I had simply misremembered that it's supposed to be called "Voluntary Flaws" not "Optional Flaws." Should be corrected now.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Nintendogeek01 wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:
This is good guide, I'm reading through the ancestry section right now, I should point out that optional flaw would let a Gnome start with 18 Strength (you mention them having to be a step behind), though it would make their other stats even dicier. To my knowledge Optional Flaw is not a variant rule, just something the player themselves elects whether or not to do.

Thank you for the feedback. :)

One reason I preceded the whole section by saying it's written assuming the flaws aren't used, and also threw in some general advice applicable to any ancestry if you do take the additional flaws.

Anyways... I had thought I'd already corrected any mention of it being an optional rule... but I think I see where the confusion is coming from; I had simply misremembered that it's supposed to be called "Voluntary Flaws" not "Optional Flaws." Should be corrected now.

Missed the disclaimer, so yeah, that makes more sense. Its a potent optimization tool under most circumstances, especially since Gnomes have that sweet sweet focus point recharge.


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One minor note on Horizon Thunder Sphere - it does outscale Shocking Grasp on damage eventually (10.5+7/spell level versus 13+6.5/level) against enemies who don't meet the metal conditions. (Also, the half damage at range on a miss on the 3-action version is nice)

Edit: On Force Fang, it's worth noting that it's a conflux spell that does not involve a strike. Which means you can recharge your spellstrike and then use it without MAP on the same turn. While the later buffing conflux spells can also do that, none of the melee study conflux spells do, so it's the earliest you can get that benefit.


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Dubious Scholar wrote:
One minor note on Horizon Thunder Sphere - it does outscale Shocking Grasp on damage eventually (10.5+7/spell level versus 13+6.5/level) against enemies who don't meet the metal conditions. (Also, the half damage at range on a miss on the 3-action version is nice)

Spell level six-onward, Horizon Thunder Sphere does surpass Shocking Grasp's average damage. Both spells start facing competition from Disintegrate at that level though, and the optional extra actions to cast it aren't appealing to a Magus given they still want those actions to spellstrike and recharge, and that spell slot for something big to spellstrike with. The three-action and 2-round version of the spell can't combine with spellstrike.

Dubious Scholar wrote:
Edit: On Force Fang, it's worth noting that it's a conflux spell that does not involve a strike. Which means you can recharge your spellstrike and then use it without MAP on the same turn. While the later buffing conflux spells can also do that, none of the melee study conflux spells do, so it's the earliest you can get that benefit.

Oh definitely. It's one reason I like the spell for some hybrid studies. ;)

Doesn't change my rating but you are right that it's worth noting. Added.


Ascalaphus wrote:

I'm curious about peoples' take on Arcane Shroud. What are the best spells to trigger it with?

I feel like for example Stoneskin would be really nice to get out of it, but I'm having a tough time picking abjuration spells I'd be happy to prepare as a magus.

IMO arcane shroud is overrated. It looks great at first glance but in actual play, it might be useful but certainly not powerful. For example, you can get stoneskin (level 4) at level 14 for 1 action. Yeah great but it's dr 5. It's basically pointless at that level.

On top of that, you need to be in arcane cascade and spend basically 3 actions to benefit from it - not great for the action-hungry Magus.

There are not many great lvl 14 class feats but on lvl 10/12 like rapid recharge, conflux focus, expert spellcasting.


You don't need to be in Arcane cascade for Shroud, it actually makes you enter Cascade when you use it.


Kyrone wrote:
You don't need to be in Arcane cascade for Shroud, it actually makes you enter Cascade when you use it.

Ah you're right. That makes it way better.


I just wanted to add that you have made shade of tempest.

It only affect your enemy.

That said, i quite impress by the guide.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Gayel Nord wrote:

I just wanted to add that you have made shade of tempest.

It only affect your enemy.

That said, i quite impress by the guide.

I must've latched onto the flavor description of vengeful spirits slain by enemy and ally alike and missed that it only mentioned enemies from there on. Thank you for catching that. ;)

Fixed.


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Okay! Big update! Faction Archetypes have been added to the guide. Part of the reason it took so long is that I don't use too many archetypes on any of my characters so this involved a lot more white-room analysis than other sections of the guide (so any first-hand input would be greatly appreciated).

The other reason is I made the mistake to get them all done in a batch before adding it to the guide; won't be doing that again I'll tell you what! Next archetypes I add are going to be put in incrementally rather than all at once.

That said, next on the agenda is The Skeleton Ancestry from the Book of the Dead, along with other content from that same book once I've gone over it!


Nice guide! I haven't read everything (its extensive!) but I have a few comments:

The human feat Adapted Cantrip is, depending on campaign, extremely good because is allows for taking either Divine Lance or Disrupt Undead, both of which are unavailable to Arcane and both of which give damage types that some monsters are weak against. Casting the spell turn 1 and cascading to get the damage type on the weapon will let the Magus hit weaknesses on Fiends and/or many Undead depending on choice, and then spellstriking with it will hit the weakness twice as the strike and spell damage are evaluated separately.

The Heavy Armor feat is actually not a trap, its an extremely good (blue 4 stars for some builds) feat for 10 levels. Magi only get their armor boosted at level 11, so from levels 1-10 this feat is amazing. Retraining feats is in the base rules, so at level 11 it can be retrained into something else - and also because at that point the character has had 2 stat upgrades, the Bulwark property of full plate probably isn't helping anymore! Paying a general feat instead of an archetype feat for early game heavy armor is a good deal.

This one is more controversial:
I think you place way too much emphasis on Spellstriking at low level for melee (not starlit span) maguses. A shocking fact: at levels 1,2, and 4, Spellstriking with a cantrip does NOT improve damage for a melee, d8 die size magus over just attacking twice! It is FAR more important at these levels to enter cascade and get 1 more damage than it is to spellstrike, not even counting the hybrid study specific benefits.

Spellstriking with shocking grasp at these levels, while fun, is a lot less impactful than just casting magic weapon. At level 3, the increased damage from cantrips makes cantrip spellstriking well worth it, but not if the character is casting magic weapon (which they should for the hard fights). At level 4 where characters get their striking rune there's no need for magic weapon anymore so at that point a True Strike Shocking Grasp spellstrike is a great anti-boss nova tool, but cantrips aren't worth spellstriking. Its only at level 5 when they finally pull ahead for real! At that point spellstriking frequently is a noticeable increase in damage over attacking twice, though if the character needs to only attack once in a round its not the end of the world. And doing something like Electric Arc + Conflux (strike + effect), as long as the conflux is available, is better than recharge + cantrip spellstrike (basically, recharging as an action is bad unless action econ works out just right, like dropping the only adjacent enemy with strike 1 and not wanting to move next to the next enemy until next turn).

The above is true for strength melee maguses and flanking laughing shadow dex mages: for starlit span their much lower base damage makes spellstriking as much as possible worth it.

On AoE spells: I think you rate them too low. Even with Magus reduced proficiency and casting stat compared to full casters, AoE spells are still good, because enemies still take half damage on a 'success' - the penalty for lower DC is a lot less than for all or nothing spells and the damage numbers work out favorably. Spellstrike Shocking Grasp combos better with True Strike as a boss killer because of the crit possibility, but a well placed expansive spellstrike lightning bolt, if it can hit at least 2 targets, is WAY more damage and doesn't require true strike. Basically, if Shocking Grasp is blue, than Lightning Bolt is blue as well, and fireball/burning hands isn't far behind (after a few levels for burning hands: 2d12 vs 2d6 is a huge difference at level 1, but 4d12 vs 6d6 is less so at level 5).

An extra special note for Starlit Span and Reach with Expansive Spellstrike: if the enemy isn't adjacent to the character, you can pick ANY square adjacent to the enemy as the source. So you can do things like whack an enemy with a polearm and fire off a lighting bolt or cone sideways originating from a square out of your own reach to hit enemies and not allies.

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