Comparing 9th level casters


Advice

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UnArcaneElection wrote:

Okay, I'll go by (mostly) number rating column:

Spell List: This is actually subject to some variation, because Oracles, Shamans, Sorcerers, and Witches get bonus spells that are often from other lists, while Shamans also have a choice of Spirit (Lore) that has a Hex (Arcane Enlightenment) to snag more spells from other list, in all cases without using an archetype. So Sorcerers turn the Spell List Score up to 11, although they can't get very much of it in any one build.

I'd like to just think about the spell lists themselves here. I think that the shaman's arcane enlightenment or witch's patron spells fall under "class features", below. So maybe adjustments are merited there.

UnArcaneElection wrote:
Class Features: Cleric really don't get much without an archetype, so I'd barely put them above Wizards, if at all. At least Wizards get a small smattering of bonus feats, and some of their Arcane School powers are actually pretty good, although looking more broadly, these are all over the map (as are Cleric Domains, and at least vanilla Clerics do get 2 Domains). Note that Shamans have Spirit Abilities (initial, Greater, and True), and Manifestation as a capstone ability, so their class abilities aren't just Hexes; on the flip side, unlike Witches, they don't get Major Hexes and Grand Hexes.

I nudged clerics down to a 4, and added shamans' spirit abilities.

UnArcaneElection wrote:
Combat: All of the 9/9 casters EXCEPT Druid and Wizard get full Simple Weapon Proficiency. Druids can obviously make themselves natural weapon combat monsters, so they get the prize (once they get past the low levels) despite not getting full Simple Weapon Proficiency. For the rest, Simple Weapon Proficiency is actually a big deal in combat effectiveness as long as you have companions that are actually good at combat, because it means that you can get a Longspear to provide flanking and Aid Anothering from (usually) out of reach at low levels. This makes everybody at least a cut above the Wizard. The Arcanist/Sorcerer/Wizard spell list has several more good low-level self-defensive buffs than the Witch spell list (and the non-Arcane casters can use actual armor and optionally shields for self-defense), which raises everybody at least a cut above the Witch. So the Wizard is rightly at the bottom

I bumped the non-wizard floor up to 2. As for witches' prehensile hair, I was going off a ruling that a natural attack is at full BAB if it's your only attack. I came across that in a forum post from a designer, so it's not on as solid a footing as a FAQ.


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I really endorse MrCharisma’s proposal to use ranges for all of these; lots of cases where a class is generically not very good at something, but if you build toward that thing it becomes better than other classes building toward that.

Shaman examples are an extreme example of that in multiple ways. Going by their default spell list, they are the worst 9th level caster for spell list: i’d put them at a 3. But building for spell selection, they have by far the best effective spell list in the game (i would have them as the only 10). And it would be confusing to a reader to just toss that into ‘class features’; if someone looks at the guide wanting to build something with a strong effective spell list, they shouldn’t be pushed away from classes that are potentially ideal for that (also not clear that FCBs are ‘class features’).

Combat is the same challenge for shaman. By default, shaman is the worst divine class for combat (i’d give them a ‘4’ maybe). But building for it, i’d put them 2nd among 9th level casters built for combat (behind druid).

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

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Northern Spotted Owl wrote:
I was going off a ruling that a natural attack is at full BAB if it's your only attack.

I think you've misunderstood that. A single natural attack goes off your full BAB, meaning you don't get the -5 penalty for using natural attacks while wielding a weapon. It does not mean that your BAB suddenly increases to a fighter's BAB.


Witch with the thorns patron can be an amazing field control caster.
With some of the "entangle" spells, blade barrier and wall of thorns.


Lelomenia wrote:
I really endorse MrCharisma’s proposal to use ranges for all of these; lots of cases where a class is generically not very good at something, but if you build toward that thing it becomes better than other classes building toward that.

That's what I'm working toward, but need some help from other folks who know these classes in greater depth. In particular, shaman & psychic are real weak spots for me.

Lelomenia wrote:

Shaman examples are an extreme example of that in multiple ways. Going by their default spell list, they are the worst 9th level caster for spell list: i’d put them at a 3. But building for spell selection, they have by far the best effective spell list in the game (i would have them as the only 10). And it would be confusing to a reader to just toss that into ‘class features’; if someone looks at the guide wanting to build something with a strong effective spell list, they shouldn’t be pushed away from classes that are potentially ideal for that (also not clear that FCBs are ‘class features’).

Combat is the same challenge for shaman. By default, shaman is the worst divine class for combat (i’d give them a ‘4’ maybe). But building for it, i’d put them 2nd among 9th level casters built for combat (behind druid).

I'd appreciate (truly) more detail on those builds.


Kurald Galain wrote:
Northern Spotted Owl wrote:
I was going off a ruling that a natural attack is at full BAB if it's your only attack.
I think you've misunderstood that. A single natural attack goes off your full BAB, meaning you don't get the -5 penalty for using natural attacks while wielding a weapon. It does not mean that your BAB suddenly increases to a fighter's BAB.

That's entirely possible. It seems that several other folks have as well, across various forum threads. Re-reading things I'll remove the "full BAB" reference, as it's clearly not a settled position that ought to be the default for a given table.

Thanks.


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Heal: For Oracles, you don't need an archetype bo be the best healer of all -- just choose the Life Mystery, the Channel Revelation, and one instance of the Expanded Arcana feat at 9th level to fill in the holes that you would otherwise have in the unusually abundant 3rd level bad status removal spells. This means that Oracles should have a range of ratings in this column up to 10. For Witches, the Healing Patron fills in almost all of the holes you would have in bad status removal spells relative to a Cleric; this is also a good Patron in that 7 of its 9 bonus spells are off-list spells. Also, the Aura of Purity Hex gets an honorable mention as a (small) area of effect anti-disease/anti-poison shell.

I noted the Life mystery and bumped the Oracle to 8-10. Is that too generous, compared with the cleric's spells, spontaneous healing & channeling? Perhaps, since the oracle is cha-based.

UnArcaneElection wrote:
Buff: I don't have anything to say right now about the numbers, but you might want to split this into Self Buff and Party Buff columns, since a fair number of buff spells and a few class feature abilities (notably some of the Arcane School Powers) are self-only.

I thought about self-buffing for the druid too. For now I'll leave this as a single category, just because I want this to be easy to digest and I feel like it's already quite a few categories/metrics to fit into the reader's head.

UnArcaneElection wrote:
Debuff: For Witch, starting at 9th level add Quickened Ill Omen, followed up by a Hex or a spell that has a Save. Note that Ill Omen is No Save, so if you Quicken it, whoever you hit with it can't get rid of it (unless they succeed at Spell Resistance) before you hit them with your follow-up.

I'll add a quickened Ill Omen to the write-up.


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Northern Spotted Owl wrote:
Lelomenia wrote:
I really endorse MrCharisma’s proposal to use ranges for all of these; lots of cases where a class is generically not very good at something, but if you build toward that thing it becomes better than other classes building toward that.

That's what I'm working toward, but need some help from other folks who know these classes in greater depth. In particular, shaman & psychic are real weak spots for me.

Lelomenia wrote:

Shaman examples are an extreme example of that in multiple ways. Going by their default spell list, they are the worst 9th level caster for spell list: i’d put them at a 3. But building for spell selection, they have by far the best effective spell list in the game (i would have them as the only 10). And it would be confusing to a reader to just toss that into ‘class features’; if someone looks at the guide wanting to build something with a strong effective spell list, they shouldn’t be pushed away from classes that are potentially ideal for that (also not clear that FCBs are ‘class features’).

Combat is the same challenge for shaman. By default, shaman is the worst divine class for combat (i’d give them a ‘4’ maybe). But building for it, i’d put them 2nd among 9th level casters built for combat (behind druid).

I'd appreciate (truly) more detail on those builds.

Ya know its funny...im writing a shaman guide RIGHT NOW.


Northern Spotted Owl wrote:


Lelomenia wrote:

Shaman examples are an extreme example of that in multiple ways. Going by their default spell list, they are the worst 9th level caster for spell list: i’d put them at a 3. But building for spell selection, they have by far the best effective spell list in the game (i would have them as the only 10). And it would be confusing to a reader to just toss that into ‘class features’; if someone looks at the guide wanting to build something with a strong effective spell list, they shouldn’t be pushed away from classes that are potentially ideal for that (also not clear that FCBs are ‘class features’).

Combat is the same challenge for shaman. By default, shaman is the worst divine class for combat (i’d give them a ‘4’ maybe). But building for it, i’d put them 2nd among 9th level casters built for combat (behind druid).

I'd appreciate (truly) more detail on those builds.

for the ‘spell selection shaman’, key features i would note are:

FCB: i think shaman is the only class that was designed with an FCB in mind. The Cleric spell list is the standard list for Shaman to access through FCB, but Druid, Psychic(!!!!), and portions of the wizard list are available. With a racial heritage feat, you can access up to two of these lists through FCB.

Spirit magic: lots of good spells through spirits, but unlike clerics/sorcerers/oracles, they can change these daily.

Arcane Enlightenment: has been discussed enough.

Fluid Magic: Would be amazing if Waves spirit magic spells weren’t so bad.

Serendipity Shaman: An archetype that can be used to do almost nothing other than replace bad Waves Spirit spells with great spells.

So at high level shaman ends up with access to every shaman and wizard list spell, and every cleric, druid, and psychic spell up to level 8 (but can only do two of those three lists). I’m a big Miracle fan, which is one of the reasons Serendipity merited a place on the list above.

Combining the features from that list, a high level shaman might prepare any combination of Wishes, Miracles, Time Stops, Gates, and Mass Heals in 9th level slots (which i view as the best/most important 9th level spells, and i don’t think any other class can come close to that). If you wonder where Communal Mind Blank is, said Shaman gets it as an 8th level spell from the Psychic list.


Northern Spotted Owl wrote:
Kurald Galain wrote:
Northern Spotted Owl wrote:
I was going off a ruling that a natural attack is at full BAB if it's your only attack.
I think you've misunderstood that. A single natural attack goes off your full BAB, meaning you don't get the -5 penalty for using natural attacks while wielding a weapon. It does not mean that your BAB suddenly increases to a fighter's BAB.

That's entirely possible. It seems that several other folks have as well, across various forum threads. Re-reading things I'll remove the "full BAB" reference, as it's clearly not a settled position that ought to be the default for a given table.

Thanks.

Found the closest text to what you were talking about:

Natural Attacks wrote:
{. . .} If a creature has only one natural attack, it is always made using the creature’s full base attack bonus and adds 1-1/2 times the creature’s Strength bonus to damage rolls. {. . .}

That means the full amount of whatever attack bonus the creature has (which could be 1/2 BAB if from 1/2 BAB class levels or Fey hit dice).

IluzryMage wrote:

{. . .}

Ya know its funny...im writing a shaman guide RIGHT NOW.

Now, which guide would I like to see next?


I think the Spirits access to spells is a bit overrated but this may depend on GM's and games.

Arcane Enlightenment can be very unwieldy because of the stat requirements and the Psychic fcb is from a race choice that may be often disallowed.

But then that's an issue with class recommendations, it's not always a free for all, you often have to take account for things that are commonly not allowed.


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I've got the Cleric rolling - before I get into the ratings I did feel that I have to give some underlying context to the class chassis first..... and anyway you can never have too much info!!

Before I go into the Cleric ratings, I feel a prefix is required in order to understand the mechanics of what I will be discussing.

Amongst the 9th level casters, the Cleric is very unusual. On paper it seems a remarkably simple option since the core decisions are made at first level – do you channel positive or negative and what are your domains? You get to use metal armour and shields, some OK weapons, have good Fort and Will saves and OK HP.

All sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Sadly this deceptive simplicity and ‘good all-rounder’ image have led many, many players (interestingly both new and experienced alike) to be tempted down the path of ‘jack of all trades’ into the tragic realm of ‘healbot’ and/or post 5th level mediocrity. The often seen “I hate playing Clerics” or “No-one wants to play a Cleric at my table” is often down to the above misunderstanding.

Pathfinder 1st Ed does NOT reward generalisation, it rewards specialisation, and there are very few (if any) classes where this is more apparent than the Cleric. And specialisation should not be confused with “min-maxing” although there is certainly some overlap.

Before any kind of “Ratings” discussion can occur, it has to be made aware of the impact on the build of a Cleric that overall combination of deity, domain choice, archetype, ability score spread, race and FCB can make on the final result.

When looking at other 9th level casters, this combination does not occur to near the same degree. For example, how many Elf Wizards have you seen?..... I’ve lost count. For some of the 9th level casters, there really is no mechanical reason to stray away from a given race, thus simplifying the process and the build. This is not the case for the Cleric as different races can provide different advantages for any given build. The fact that a WIS bonus isn’t given in certain cases isn’t necessarily a problem – you wouldn’t find many Witch, Wizard, Arcanist or Sorceror builds where an INT or CHA bonus isn’t present.

A partial reason why this versatility exists is down to the FCB – for every single type of Cleric build that you can think of simply taking the +1hp/level that is available irrespective of race, is always a solid option. Several other of the 9th level casters are very dependent on their FCB to boost class options, whereas every single Cleric build can very easily become effectively a D10 HD full caster with no loss of overall class function. This has the knock on effect of making CON investment slightly less important - alternatively a minor investment of 12 CON makes the Cleric a D12 HD full caster. Quite a few times I have seen a Cleric with virtually the same HP as the party Fighter.

Here is an overview of the impact of race:


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The cleric is currently the largest entry.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EuMpp3zOxBMV011KvTDBhB5VL53VJN5CxSZbnVY 9d_k/edit


Northern Spotted Owl wrote:

The cleric is currently the largest entry.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EuMpp3zOxBMV011KvTDBhB5VL53VJN5CxSZbnVY 9d_k/edit

Linkified for your convenience. But contributed sections like the Cleric section should be credited (like in the Paizo Archetype Tier Tist).


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UnArcaneElection wrote:
Northern Spotted Owl wrote:

The cleric is currently the largest entry.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EuMpp3zOxBMV011KvTDBhB5VL53VJN5CxSZbnVY 9d_k/edit

Linkified for your convenience. But contributed sections like the Cleric section should be credited (like in the Paizo Archetype Tier Tist).

I did that for Iluzry’s sorcerer contribution, and will here shortly. Thanks for catching that oversight.


Thanks -- going back there to look now.

So far, coming along. I did find a typo:

Shaman: Combat: "3-4 bab" should be "3/4 BAB".


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My latest chunk....

Before discussing the impact of race on the final build, I feel I should be briefly go through notable archetype options since some of these are naturally attuned to some races more than others.

Impact of Archetype

Vanilla Cleric:

This is the commonly seen trap choice made by players which can lead to the sub-par Cleric. However, this does NOT mean that Vanilla Cleric cannot be a very effective choice given the correct knowledge. Your access to metal armour and both domains should be the basis of your build. As a quick example - a Dwarf of Iomedae with Steel Soul, Heavy Armour Proficiency, Sacred Summoning and the Sun and Heroism domains has even before considering the Cleric spell list a good scaling debuff, some good domain spells, a high level of tankiness, a group buff ability and the ability to get extra bodies on the field quickly. As with all things Cleric - the Devil is in the details.

Devout Pilgrim:

A rarely seen but v.effective choice - with Caravan Bond and Blessing of the Harrow this Cleric can make an outstanding buffer option. A Cleric of Arshea with the Love and Liberation domains or Sun-Wukong with Travel and Liberation will be a phenomena in any party.

Herald Caller:

Enough has been written about this archetype to know its potential not only as ‘divine summoner’, but also to have a secondary skills monkey, Animal Comp utiliser or utility role. Overall, very good in the ‘Critters’ role - probably one of the best in the game.

Ecclesitheurge:

IMO a bit of a botched archetype, but nevertheless if you want extra “castiness” this is probably your best bet. Scribe Scroll is a must have feat and then just go to town going through your domains and scribing any useful non-cleric spells for your collection. Just stay the hell away from combat! Regarding ‘Bonded Holy Symbol’, pay attention to the wording:

“At 3rd level, an ecclesitheurge forms a powerful bond with a holy symbol of his deity, which functions identically to a wizard’s bonded object except it can be used to cast cleric and domain spells (instead of wizard spells) and the ecclesitheurge can grant his bonded holy symbol only magic abilities appropriate for a holy symbol or a neck slot item”

By RAW the symbol can take the form of any slotted item, there is nothing saying that it can’t be a ring for example. All it has to be is a “holy symbol”. The restriction is regarding the magic abilities that are applied to the item, not the location of it.

Theologian:

IMO is a bit overhyped in the ‘Blaster’ role, but it can be pretty good if built correctly. It does rely on choosing the right race alongside with in all probability the Ash domain and Fireball. Aasimar/Lava Gnome/Magma Ifrit are good choices due to the possible boosts. Combine the free Intensified Spell with the traits Wayang Spellhunter, Magical Lineage and the feats Elemental Spell/Empower Spell/Consecrate Spell/Dazing Spell and you have a pretty decent Fireball Cleric, combine with Idealist Cleric and Plane of Fire and you can have some oomph as party ‘Blaster’.

Divine Paragon:

The classic example of why paying attention to choice of deity is so crucial. Some of the options that are generated from the accelerated boons are really good. For most deities though the trade-off vs losing your 2nd domain abilities probably isn’t worth it - but there are some real gems out there. And the fact that it is free access to the Evangelist PrC certainly doesn’t hurt and expands your options significantly, albeit with certain trade-offs.

Foundation of Faith:

To be honest, the trade-offs vs channelling doesn’t IMO match up but then if you are going to dump CHA anyway you may as well as take this. And because you are now CON focussed, it does provide for some extra HP and Fort save gains.

Idealist:

A real weird one. Depending on the plane, you can get some useful bonus spontaneous spells (eg Stoneskin, Shadow Conjuration) and you can replace the pos/neg channelling with something potentially more impactful. What is noticeable and unusual is that it stacks with several other good archetypes - ie) Devout Pilgrim, Herald Caller, Theologian, Divine Paragon.

Undead Lord:

Functions v.well in the Critters or Debuff role - go for the Undead domain. Grab yourself a portable altar and get Craft Magic Weapons/Armour and Create Reliquary Arms and Shields. You are now not only an undead summoning god but your neg.channelling is seriously hard to resist, so good that it actually becomes worth investing some resources and ability score points into CHA. Dhampir as a race has some interesting mileage.


Update added. Thanks again Arkham Joker.


I welcome contributions for any of these classes:

Arcanist
Oracle
Psychic
Wizard

E.g. For an arcanist, which exploits, archetypes or other decisions determine how well she fares within each of our categories?


For Arcanist, Occultist Archetype is the place to be for ‘Critters’, 9 or 10 out of 10 for that. For ‘buff’ing, Brown Fur Transmuter is the 10 of 10. For Healing, White Mage i guess is the high point for Arcanist, maybe puts you up to 3-4 out of 10, comparable to a Witch. So Arcanist archetypes align pretty cleanly with the categories you have.

For Utility, one comment I’d make is that Int-based casters have a huge Utility advantage because they end up flooded with skill points, and that tends to overwhelm any class feature skill advantages other builds have, at least by high level.


Lelomenia wrote:

For Arcanist, Occultist Archetype is the place to be for ‘Critters’, 9 or 10 out of 10 for that. For ‘buff’ing, Brown Fur Transmuter is the 10 of 10. For Healing, White Mage i guess is the high point for Arcanist, maybe puts you up to 3-4 out of 10, comparable to a Witch. So Arcanist archetypes align pretty cleanly with the categories you have.

For Utility, one comment I’d make is that Int-based casters have a huge Utility advantage because they end up flooded with skill points, and that tends to overwhelm any class feature skill advantages other builds have, at least by high level.

I added those notes. Thanks


Lelomenia wrote:

For Arcanist, Occultist Archetype is the place to be for ‘Critters’, 9 or 10 out of 10 for that. For ‘buff’ing, Brown Fur Transmuter is the 10 of 10. For Healing, White Mage i guess is the high point for Arcanist, maybe puts you up to 3-4 out of 10, comparable to a Witch. So Arcanist archetypes align pretty cleanly with the categories you have.

{. . .}

Brown Fur Transmuter turns buffing up to 11 -- as far as I know, NONE of the 9/9 casters other than Brown Fur Transmuter (unless I forgot one that can get the Alchemist Infusion Discovery) can change spells that have a range of "You" to Touch spells castable on others.

Witch is better than Arcanist at healing -- the spell list has a decent number of healing spells in it (although notably missing the Restoration series unless you get the Healing Patron, which lets you become almost a complete Cleric substitute if you build right), whereas White Mage Arcanist can only cast Cure-series spells + Breath of Life, getting a bit better at level 11 when they can grant allies a few rounds of Fast Healing, which is nice, but it's still only hit point damage, and not other nasty conditions that can't be repaired with Dispel Magic/Remove Curse/Break Enchanment/Greater Dispel magic.


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For wizard, on ‘critters’ the Acadamae Graduate feat buys you standard action summons, which is one of the biggest criteria i look to when judging whether a class is good or not at summoning. They have access to familiars out of CRB, so that is nice here. And the Instructor archetype gives you a Cohort, which is overpowered but i’m not sure whether to count it as a critter.

For Utility, wizard is an Int class with arbitrarily many different spells in his book (and Scroll writing as a class feature by default). So very high floor; the Spell Savant archetype gives on demand access to most other spells as well, pushing that archetype up to at least a 9 for utility, pending whether anyone suggests something else could be better.

For Healing, i guess Arcane Physician is an intended archetype, but it’s terrible, maybe pushes wizard from a 1 to a ‘1.5’. Spell Savant is probably better even purely for healing purposes.


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UnArcaneElection wrote:

Brown Fur Transmuter turns buffing up to 11 -- as far as I know, NONE of the 9/9 casters other than Brown Fur Transmuter (unless I forgot one that can get the Alchemist Infusion Discovery) can change spells that have a range of "You" to Touch spells castable on others.

Which spells push that over the top? Monstrous Physique, others?

UnArcaneElection wrote:

Witch is better than Arcanist at healing -- the spell list has a decent number of healing spells in it (although notably missing the Restoration series unless you get the Healing Patron, which lets you become almost a complete Cleric substitute if you build right), whereas White Mage Arcanist can only cast Cure-series spells + Breath of Life, getting a bit better at level 11 when they can grant allies a few rounds of Fast Healing, which is nice, but it's still only hit point damage, and not other nasty conditions that can't be repaired with Dispel Magic/Remove Curse/Break Enchanment/Greater Dispel magic.

Agreed. I think that once some broad information about class choices (race, traits, feat, archetypes, domains, patrons, mysteries, etc) have been laid out that then we'll want to revisit overall rankings. Partially I think that folks have one or two favorite classes and think of them as amazing. That's generally great, but stepping back to rate the classes comparatively is ultimately what we'll need. I also think that it's easy to get into "grade inflation," but that if every class ends up in the 8-10 range in 2/3 of the categories then we're not providing the best information we perhaps could.

For now I'm mostly interested in gather information I don't have and aggregating it.


Agree that there shouldn’t be a bunch of 10s in each category, but I think for a lot of these 7-8s are achievable at least with appropriate builds. E.g., i think divine casters in general can get to at least 7-8 for combat and healing, and int casters should all be close to 7ish to start for utility. And saying a class can get up to 8 in multiple categories isn’t really that big a claim; “if you devote your build to this, you can be third rate at it”. Sure, fine.

And I certainly have favorites, but i would put the 10s down as:
Shaman (optimizing) for spell list access,
Druid (optimizing) for ‘combat’,
Oracle (optimizing) for ‘heal’,
Arcanist (optimizing) for buffs,
Arcanist (optimizing) for critters,
Sorcerer (optimizing) for blasting,
And Wizard (optimizing) for utility. So i don’t think i’m really going back to the same class for everything. I would guess there’s a witch build that gets the ‘debuff’ 10, but that’s not very familiar territory for me.


I've made some tweaks and added the race options so here is a big chunk to load/reload....

Before discussing the impact of race on the final build, I feel I should be briefly go through notable archetype options since some of these are naturally attuned to some races more than others.

Impact of Archetype

Vanilla Cleric:

This is the commonly seen trap choice made by players which can lead to the sub-par Cleric. However, this does NOT mean that Vanilla Cleric cannot be a very effective choice given the correct knowledge. Your access to metal armour and both domains should be the basis of your build. As a quick example - a Dwarf of Iomedae with Steel Soul, Heavy Armour Proficiency, Sacred Summoning and the Sun and Heroism domains has even before considering the Cleric spell list a good scaling debuff, some good domain spells, a high level of tankiness, a group buff ability and the ability to get extra bodies on the field quickly. As with all things Cleric - the Devil is in the details.

Devout Pilgrim:

A rarely seen but v.effective choice - with Caravan Bond and Blessing of the Harrow this Cleric can make an outstanding buffer option. A Cleric of Arshea with the Love and Liberation domains, Sun-Wukong with Travel and Liberation, Desna with the Luck and Liberation domains or here’s a hidden gem…… Narriseminek with Liberation and Madness, will be a phenomena in any party.

Herald Caller:

Enough has been written about this archetype to know its potential not only as ‘divine summoner’, but also to have a secondary skills monkey, Animal Comp utiliser or utility role. Overall, very good in the ‘Critters’ role - probably one of the best in the game.

Ecclesitheurge:

IMO a bit of a botched archetype, but nevertheless if you want extra “castiness” this is probably your best bet. Scribe Scroll is a must have feat and then just go to town going through your domains and scribing any useful non-cleric spells for your collection. Just stay the hell away from combat! Regarding ‘Bonded Holy Symbol’, pay attention to the wording:

“At 3rd level, an ecclesitheurge forms a powerful bond with a holy symbol of his deity, which functions identically to a wizard’s bonded object except it can be used to cast cleric and domain spells (instead of wizard spells) and the ecclesitheurge can grant his bonded holy symbol only magic abilities appropriate for a holy symbol or a neck slot item”

By RAW the symbol can take the form of any slotted item, there is nothing saying that it can’t be a ring for example. All it has to be is a “holy symbol”. The restriction is regarding the magic abilities that are applied to the item, not the location of it.

And also by RAW Pyxes of Redirected Focus seem to allow the Ecclesitheurge to prepare domain spells from his secondary domain in the non-domain slots of his primary domain. A definite boost if this indeed correct.

Once per day, a cleric (or other class with cleric domains) may activate the pyxes and may select any one of her prepared domain spells and replace it with the domain spell of that level from her other domain.

Theologian:

IMO is a bit overhyped in the ‘Blaster’ role, but it can be very good if built correctly. It does rely on choosing the right race alongside with in all probability the Ash domain and Fireball. Aasimar/Lava Gnome/Magma Ifrit are good choices due to the possible boosts. Combine the free Intensified Spell with the traits Wayang Spellhunter, Magical Lineage and the feats Elemental Spell/Empower Spell/Consecrate Spell/Dazing Spell and you have a pretty decent Fireball Cleric, combine with Idealist Cleric and Plane of Fire and you can have some oomph as party ‘Blaster’.

Divine Paragon:

The classic example of why paying attention to choice of deity is so crucial. Some of the options that are generated from the accelerated boons are really good. For most deities though the trade-off vs losing your 2nd domain abilities probably isn’t worth it - but there are some real gems out there. And the fact that it is free access to the Evangelist PrC certainly doesn’t hurt and expands your options significantly, albeit with certain trade-offs.

Foundation of Faith:

To be honest, the trade-offs vs channelling doesn’t IMO match up but then if you are going to dump CHA anyway you may as well as take this. And because you are now CON focussed, it does provide for some extra HP and Fort save gains.

Idealist:

A real weird one. Depending on the plane, you can get some useful bonus spontaneous spells (eg Stoneskin, Shadow Conjuration) and you can replace the pos/neg channelling with something potentially more impactful. What is noticeable and unusual is that it stacks with several other good archetypes - ie) Devout Pilgrim, Herald Caller, Theologian, Divine Paragon.

Undead Lord:

Functions v.well in the Critters or Debuff role - go for the Undead domain. Grab yourself a portable altar and get Craft Magic Weapons/Armour and Create Reliquary Arms and Shields. You are now not only an undead summoning god but your neg.channelling is seriously hard to resist, so good that it actually becomes worth investing some resources and ability score points into CHA. Dhampir as a race has some interesting mileage.

Impact of race:

Dwarf: +2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, –2 Charisma

Dwarves make natural clerics, having boosts to both WIS and CON. The loss to CHA only ever impacts a build that focusses on channelling, and due to the variety of problems that surround channelling (that this guide won’t go into), it's not a biggie. As well - Slow and Steady, Darkvision, Hardy and Stability are very good bonus abilities that tie into many roles; Hardy in particular leading into the always excellent Steel Soul. Dwarven Clerics can have exemplary ability to withstand offensive magic and absorb physical punishment, to a degree that very few (if any) class/race options can provide. Overall, the only role that a Dwarf wouldn’t be an optimal choice for is ‘Heal’.

Suitable archetypes: All (having 2 x bonuses largely offsets the 1 x penalty).

Human: Floating +2

Humans are a popular choice for Clerics, especially since they receive Bonus Feat and Skilled. In a class that is both feat and skill starved this is always a solid choice. Overall, a Human can be used for any of the roles and in particular ones that would benefit from the extra feat (eg Critters, Blaster).

Suitable archetypes: All and probably especially so with more feat intensive options like Herald Caller, Theologian, Ecclesitheurge.

Half-elf: Floating +2

Much of what applies to humans also applies to half-elves, albeit with a few differences due to some of the options.

Suitable archetypes: All

Half-orc: Floating +2

Much of what applies to humans also applies to half-orcs, albeit with a few differences due to some of the options. Shaman’s Apprentice, Shaman Enhancement, Sacred Tattoo or Orc Atavism being examples of this. For example - a Half Orc with Sacred Tattoo (+Fate’s favoured) and Shaman Enhancement would be a great Cleric with the Animal Domain.

Suitable archetypes: All

Elf: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, –2 Constitution

A rarely seen option for Cleric due to its lack of WIS bonus, however, as discussed this is not necessarily a problem, especially if you are going down the Heal, Buff, Combat or Critters route. Even a more caster focussed role (eg Debuff, Blaster) can be partly overcome with Overwhelming Magic, and Long-Limbed, Fleet-Footed alternate traits are examples of options that can help boost other roles. It should be remembered that although an extra +1 DC on spells from a higher WIS score is good, having a higher initiative via a DEX bonus or alternate trait and thus going first in combat can sometimes be more useful.

Suitable archetypes: All but probably less effective as an Ecclesitheurge/Theologian.

Halfling: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, –2 Strength

An under rated and potentially excellent choice for Clerics, especially those that are not completely focussed on offensive casting or melee combat, although options like Fey-Quickened can still partly offset this. From their innate ability to boost saves via luck and gain boosts to stealth, in my personal experience, halflings can make exceptionally effective “stealth” or “skills” clerics.

Suitable archetypes: All apart from Ecclesitheurge and Theologian.

Aasimar: +2 Wisdom, +2 Charisma (Archon-blooded: +2 Con, +2 Wis, Garuda-blooded: +2 Dex, +2 Wis)

Much like Dwarf an absolute natural fit for a Cleric and no CHA penalty!

Suitable archetypes: All

Samsaran: +2 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom, –2 Constitution

Mystic Past Life is where we are at here. I view Samsaran as a template that can be applied to any Cleric build if you want to boost your casting options. It doesn’t matter what your specialism is, pick a spell list and apply it. Realistically, a minimum starting WIS of 16 is needed to get you 4 bonus spells which is fine, going up to WIS 20 for 6 spells. I recommend keeping the spells picked no higher than 4th level to get the best mileage.

Examples:
Adept - Invisibility, Mirror Image, Web, Lightning Bolt, Polymorph, Stoneskin
Anti-paladin - Disguise Self, Litany of Defense, Litany of Entanglement, Invisibility, Litany of Escape, Greater Invisibility

Suitable archetypes: All

Lava Gnome/Magma Ifrit: +2 Constitution, +2 Charisma, –2 Strength / +2 Con, +2 Int, –2 Dex

Not ideal bonuses for a caster but still pretty good. The big, big plus is that both races offer a +1 CL bonus on both domain spells and powers from the Fire/Ash domain - this is great for a Theologian. As you’re going to end up casting Wall of Ashes at a +3 CL, so at 8th level when you get it you’ll have an amazing 11 x 1 min uses per day and having to save at 15 + WIS mod (16 + WIS mod at 9th level) to avoid blindness. Plus you get a free ½ of a Spell Specialisation feat to boot, so if you do get the Spell Specialisation feat, you’ll be throwing out 11 D6 fireballs at 8th level (16.5 D6 equivalent fireballs with a 3rd level slot if you choose to invest both of your MM traits into Empower Spell or 11 D6 dazing fireballs with a 4th level spell slot).
And to take it 1 final step further, if you stack Theologian and Idealist (Plane of Fire) and then Invoke Realm, you are talking a hilarious 18.5 D6 fireball equivalent for a 3rd level slot at 8th level!!!

I’ve never seen one played, but they could be hilarious if you combine the other with a MM rod. In fact, the next Cleric I play will be one of these!

Suitable archetypes: Theologian (+Idealist)


Lelomenia wrote:
For wizard, on ‘critters’ the Acadamae Graduate feat buys you standard action summons, which is one of the biggest criteria i look to when judging whether a class is good or not at summoning. They have access to familiars out of CRB, so that is nice here. And the Instructor archetype gives you a Cohort, which is overpowered but i’m not sure whether to count it as a critter.

Acadamae Graduate is not an actual Pathfinder feat, but a D&D 3.5 feat from the original version of the Curse of the Crimson Throne (pre-Pathfinder) Player's Guide. The Curse of the Crimson Throne (Pathfinder 1st Edition) Hardcover Edition Player's Guide does not have this feat -- instead it says: "One important thing to keep in mind, though, is that Korvosa's most well-known school for arcane spellcasters, the Acadamae, does not play a significant role in Curse of the Crimson Throne. If you wish your character to be associated with the Acadamae, speak to your GM or build your character so those links are relatively minor." HOWEVER, all is not lost, but you need to take a specific archetype, and get a narrower effect than Acadamae Graduate would have given. The Pact Wizard Familiar Folio Edition archetype gives you the Aura class feature, which qualifies you for Sacred Summons, which gives you Standard Action summoning as long as the summoning spell does not take longer than 1 round and as long as the summoned creatures match your Aura in alignment. Note that the Pact Wizard Haunted Heroes Handbook Edition archetype doesn't give this ability, but it has its own virtue (see below) and really should have been given its own distinctive name.

For Critters, depends upon whether you count permanent companions such as Animal Companions -- if you do, then a Cohort also counts. Also note that Instructor Wizard lets you take Teamwork Feats as your bonus feats, and you automatically share them out to your Cohort, which sounds an awful lot like what some other archetypes (of other classes, and for Hunter it's not even an archetype but the default) do for their animal companions. Also note that Instructor lets you use Intelligence to compute your Leadership score, although taking the actual Leadership feat only adds Followers, not another Cohort.

Lelomenia wrote:

For Utility, wizard is an Int class with arbitrarily many different spells in his book (and Scroll writing as a class feature by default). So very high floor; the Spell Savant archetype gives on demand access to most other spells as well, pushing that archetype up to at least a 9 for utility, pending whether anyone suggests something else could be better.

For Healing, i guess Arcane Physician is an intended archetype, but it’s terrible, maybe pushes wizard from a 1 to a ‘1.5’. Spell Savant is probably better even purely for healing purposes.

Agreed about Arcane Physician Wizard not being a good archetype. I can't find a Spell Savant archetype -- do you mean Spell Sage? Then totally agree. In addition, if you are trying to do bad status removal (with or without use of the Spell Study ability) and have to do an opposed Caster Level check, the Focused Spells ability could be a huge help -- +4 to your effective Caster Level has a decent chance to spell the difference between success and failure. Of course, Focused Spells would also be useful for anything else benefiting from a Caster Level boost as long as you don't have to do it very often, including the occasional big anti-Swarm blast -- Spell Sage Wizard would be one of extremely few classes/archetypes that could actually benefit from taking Intensified Spell at 3rd level, although again with very limited uses per day, so allocating your feats this way is not necessarily a good idea even if it technically works.

The Pact Wizard Haunted Heroes Handbook Edition archetype also deserves a mention, because it can also give access to some off-list spells and can give considerable help with Caster Level -- in some cases even more than Spell Sage Wizard's Focused Spells, as well as more times per day. The same ability (Great Power, Greater Expense II) also works on Concentration Checks, Initiative Checks, and Saves; the next upgrade of this ability also gives your Intelligence Modifier as a boost on these checks and even gives a Metamagic level cost reducer on Patron and Oracle's Curse spells (which can be gained from the first instance of this ability, which gives you an Oracle's Curse, although it only progresses at half speed, which limits its usefulness). The Patron Spells feature gives access to much fewer spells than Spell Sage's Spell Study, but it gives much faster (usable in combat) and more frequent access to the ones it does give, as well as spontaneous casting of those spells. I wish they had given it a different name from the other Pact Wizard archetype . . . and while it starts out sort of middle of the road in power, once you hit Level 10 it's actually powerful enough that I have to say it may need some retuning for balance.


Arkham Joker wrote:
I've made some tweaks and added the race options so here is a big chunk to load/reload....

Thanks Arkham, I updated the Cleric section accordingly. Give that a look and let me know if I cut/paste anything differently than you were thinking. E.g. I left your preface in place.


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Acadamae Graduate is not an actual Pathfinder feat, but ...

Are you volunteering for a brief write-up of the wizard ratings? :)


^Not a promise with work the way it is, but given enough time without somebody else jumping in, it's a possibility . . . .


UnArcaneElection wrote:

^Not a promise with work the way it is, but given enough time without somebody else jumping in, it's a possibility . . . .

That's more than fair. I'll sketch in some details as a starting point.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Okay, here's my take (this is, of course, just a starting point, not final authority):

Wizard (which by the way, really needs an up-to-date guide of its own)

•Combat (1 of 10, more with archetypes or prestige classes): Yes, Wizard really is the worst. Wizards and Druids are the only ones of the lot that don't get complete Simple Weapon Proficiency (and don't even get a Reach weapon), but at least Druids get proficiency with the Scimitar, and more to the point for most Druids, after the first few levels, they can get quite good Natural Attacks by way of Wildshape. And Wizard is only 1/2 BAB and quite squishy (no armor), shared with Arcanist and Sorcerer, but at least they can use any Simple weapon, including the Longspear. Yes, it's possible to build a combat Wizard (for example, as in this guide), but it isn't a very good use of the class, even with archetypes meant to support this. In general, the combat-oriented archetypes are just bad, but a couple of exceptions are worth noting for being only mostly bad or even having some pretty good niche uses. Swordbinder gets you proficiency with a sword, but locks you in to using it for Arcane Bond, and also locks you into that sword, and trades out Arcane School; although it gives you Universalist's Hand of the Apprentice and gives you a sort-of-Spellstrike with your Bonded Sword, it also locks you in to using this only with your Bonded Sword. If your GM rules that this DOESN'T mean that you can't power other abilities with it like those that Arclord of Nex uses it for, then this gets better (obviously subject to your gaining access to this rather exclusive prestige class in the first place). The other combat archetype worthy of mention is Spellslinger, although due to the massive number of Opposition Schools it saddles you with and the other trades it makes, this is most useful not for full progression, but as a single level dip for some other spellcasting class to use to get firearm proficiency and the other thoroughly front-loaded gun magic abilities. As a single level dip, it's arguably brokenly overpowered; as a full class progression, it rapidly falls off in effectiveness as the quadruple Opposition Schools become more limiting. Another potential way to make a combat Wizard is through the Eldritch Knight and/or Arcane Archer prestige classes (the latter being not so much for combat overall as for the cheese of causing spells that would be centered on you to be instead centered on the arrow's target -- for instance, Anti-Magic Shell). This ends up being almost strictly inferior to Magus (which is THE answer to combat Wizard, and for that matter Combat Witch) until you get to high levels (at least 15th level for Eldritch Knight, when Spell Critical kicks in and your BAB finally catches up to a decent value, while your spellcasting finally got ahead; or 14th level for Arcane Archer, when Imbue Arrow kicks in when using a build that can also cast Anti-Magic Shell by this time). Probably the best way for a Wizard to shine in direct combat is through the Arcane Trickster prestige class, which deserves an updated guide of its own, since Unchained Rogue and the Accomplished Sneak Attacker feat were released after one of the guides and after all but an appendix of the other guide. Of course, in all of these prestige class combinations, Wizard isn't actually being good at combat itself, but being made good by way of the abilities (of which weapon proficiency actually ranks low in the list) gained from at least one other class, including the prestige class.

•Heal (1 to 2 of 10, more with summoning builds, archetypes, or prestige classes): Yes, Wizard really starts out the worst again. But at least here you have a few more options to quit being the worst and even become not too shabby. One thing to start off with, though: DON'T use the Arcane Physician archetype -- it's a trap, that trades out class features for stuff you could do better by other means. If you really want to use spell trigger/completion Alchemist items without needing Use Magic Device, be an Alchemist, or even be some other type of Wizard and actually invest in Use Magic Device, which also comes in handy for using spell trigger/completion Cleric/Druid/Oracle/Shaman items (also often useful for healing as well as other utility). Another way to be a healer by way of build is to specialize in Summoning (although you've got some tough competition here -- see under Critters, below), and then have your Summons apply healing spell-like abilities -- that isn't the most optimal use of them, but in an emergency or even just after the end of a fight that left some of them standing and still having Summon time left, you'll be glad to have the option. For archetype support, Spell Sage is top: As long as you have time for the extended casting time of your Spell Study ability and don't have to use it more than the limited number of times per day that you are allotted, you can use any spell (healing or otherwise) on the Bard, Cleric, or Druid spell list. The Focused Spells ability that you also get can even be of some help for this, if you need to remove a bad condition and it requires an opposed caster level check or the equivalent. Note that you still retain Scribe Scroll -- use it to build up a reserve of scrolls of off-list spells in case you need to use more in one day than your limited pool of Spell Study uses would otherwise permit or you need to cast one faster than you can use Spell Study, and invest in Use Magic Device so that you can use them reliably. The Pact Wizard Haunted Heroes Handbook Edition archetype gets you a Witch Patron and an Oracle's Curse, both of which can give you some off-list spells, and you could even combine it with Spell Sage for extra versatility, with the only downside being that since this variety of Pact Wizard trades out Scribe Scroll, you will have to spend a feat to get it back. The Magaambyan Arcanist prestige class gets a mention for giving access to a few Druid spells, although the Druid spell list isn't optimal for healing, so don't go this route just for that.

•Buff (8 to 9 of 10): Up at the top, and pretty self-explanatory -- you've got arguably the best spell list for party buffing, and most of the buffs that you can't cast are combat self-buffs like Angelic Aspect, but you're terrible at combat anyway. Your main competition uses the same spell list: Arcanist (more flexible casting, but fewer spells per day and later access to new spell levels; however, the Brown Fur Transmuter archetype knocks this out of the park) and Sorcerer (more spells per day when not on levels where they are behind in access to new spell levels, but very limited Spells Known, although if you are up against somebody who uses Dispel Magic, Sorcerers' ability to recast a buff that got dispelled will give you a run for your money).

•Debuff (7 to 8 of 10): Would be up at the top, and pretty self-explanatory -- you've got arguably the best spell list for debuffing, although you are missing a few key debuffs (such as Ill Omen) that Witch has, and Witch again keeps you out of the top by having Hexes (of which a large number are geared towards debuffing, and of which many are unlimited uses per day as long as the uses are all on different creatures), that you can't get (no archetype support except for limited Hex support by Spirit Whisperer). After Witch, your main competition uses the same spell list as you: Arcanist (more flexible casting, but fewer spells per day and later access to new spell levels, although the combination of the default Arcane Reservoir ability with the Potent Magic Exploit will give you a run for your money unless you are an Exploiter Wizard) and Sorcerer (more spells per day when not on levels where they are behind in access to new spell levels, but very limited Spells Known; however, their ability to recast a debuff that didn't work the first time will give you a run for your money).

•Control (9 to 10 of 10): Yet another self-explanatory one up at the top -- you've got the best spell list for battlefield control. Even being seriously out of date, Professor Q's Wizard guide and even Treantmonk's pioneering Wizard guide show the way. Your main competition uses the same spell list: Arcanist (more flexible casting, but fewer spells per day and later access to new spell levels) and Sorcerer (more spells per day when not on levels where they are behind in access to new spell levels, but very limited Spells Known; however, their ability to recast a Battlefield Control spell that needs to be in a different place from where it was first cast will give you a run for your money).

•Critters (Called) (5 to 6 of 10, except 9 of 10 with archetype support): As a Wizard, you're stuck with the Planar Binding series of spells and the True Name Arcane Discovery, all of which mean you are basically extorting the service from whatever extraplanar creature you call up. Clerics, Oracles, and archetypes of other things that get the Planar Ally series of spells have the edge here, because they can negotiate a deal with whatever they call up -- this may be harder to set up, but once you do, you won't have whatever you called up being as likely to want to kill you or bind you. Note that even though it doesn't say so directly, Spell Sage Wizard, by giving you access to the Cleric spell list, thereby gives you access to the Planar Ally series of spells (and you couldn't cast these in a hurry anyway even if you were a Cleric), which actually makes it a very good option for the occasional Called creature.

•Critters (Summoned) (6 to 7 of 10): As noted in the antique Wizard guides linked above, Wizards are good at this as well; however, Summoner and Summoner archetypes of some other classes (notably Herald Caller Cleric, Occultist Arcanist, and Monster Tactician Inquisitor) hit this out of the park, while certain Sorcerer Bloodlines automatically buff a decent subset of their Summons. Pact Wizard Familiar Folio Edition lets you get Sacred Summons (normally reserved for Clerics, giving them a substantial action economy boost although not the increased duration of the Summon Monster spell-like abilities) and thus get part way to catching up. As icing on the cake, when you get to 7th level, this archetype automatically makes your Familiar better (yes, you are locked in to Familiar Arcane Bond, but it's a good lock-in). The First World Caller archetype gets an honorable mention for adding some Fey to the lists of monsters you can summon, even if you use a magic device to do the summoning; this archetype also gives some enhancements to your Familiar, and gives you some strange battlefield control abilities (Warp Reality). Summoner and Summoner archetypes that have a Summon Monster ability still get the action economy boost (more generally applicable than what Sacred Summons awards), as well as a major duration boost (the Conjuration Arcane School gives a much lesser duration boost until you get to 20th level), so they still definitively come out on top.

•Critters (Familiars) (8 to 10 of 10): Familiars are nice action economy boosters and scouts, and most Wizards have the option to choose a Familiar, and for most Wizards it doesn't confer a liability (other than financial for replacing it). DON'T choose the Familiar Adept archetype, which makes your Familiar a liability like a Witch's Familiar after all, and otherwise trades out too much for what it gives. If you want an enhanced Familiar archetype, choose the Spirit Whisperer instead -- this at least gives you access to some off-list spells and limited Hexes, along with Shaman Spirit abilities, in exchange for your Familiar becoming as much of a liability as a Witch's Familiar. Otherwise, if you want an enhanced Familiar, just be a Wizard that allows selection of a Familiar Arcane Bond; optionally choose a Familiar archetype, and then pick up Improved Familiar when you meet the prerequisites for the particular enhanced Familiar you want.

Critters (Undead) (6 to 7 of 10, or 8 to 9 of 10 with archetype): The Undead Master archetype lets you be an almost top-class Undead master, edged out by Cleric only because of Cleric having real Channel Energy (with the possibility of Variant Channeling) instead of the cheapo version that Necromancer Wizards get. But if you don't want to be that specialized, you can still be pretty decent at raising an army of the walking dead, although at the cost of having to use higher level spell slots. Either way, you can do things that most Clerics can't, like the one-two punch of using Burning Skeletons to drive an enemy party back-to-back and then Fireballing them (at higher levels, Dazing Fireball).

•Blaster (7 to 9 of 10): Wizard has the best spell list for blasting, but not the best spellcasting mechanics. If you're going to blast (see this vintage guide), you are generally going to want to recast the same few spells several times, and Sorcerers excel at this (and some Bloodlines boost damage significantly), whereas Wizards have to really limit their spell preparation to do this, which isn't a good use of their prepared spellcasting. The prepared spellcasting does come in handy for better action economy when applying Metamagic (but see the Sorcerer Arcane Bloodline); this is shared by Arcanist, who also has more flexible spellcasting, but suffers from fewer spells per day and delayed acquisition of higher level spells (however, see this guide for blowing stuff up as an Arcanist). The Thassilonian Specialist archetype (in all but name) hurts by completely prohibiting the Arcane Schools that would otherwise be just Opposition, and locking you in to a particular combination of Specialty School and Prohibited School unless you spend a feat on New Thassilonian Magic. But it does double your specialty spell slots, giving you close to Sorcerer spells per day and easy Metamagic while retaining the normal spellcasting progression, so if you've got a one-track mind and you don't want a Sorcerer, this is for you. Thassilonian Specialist does have the drawback that (officially, according to James Jacobs) it locks you into the vanilla version of whichever Arcane School you choose, which means you can't pick Evocation:Admixture, which is tailor-made for versatile Blasting. Runesage Wizard is like Thassilonian Specialist except for letting you pick your Specialty and Prohibited Schools each day (hint: use Scribe Scroll to build up reserves of spells in each school), although the benefit is reduced from awesome to merely good by the fact that you are stuck with Universalist School Powers, which aren't very good, and locked into Runic Focus Bonded Object for your Arcane Bond, and changing Runic Focus to a different Specialty School (and accompanying Prohibited Schools) isn't something that you should do at the drop of a hat, since it is equivalent to replacing your Bonded Item in time and expense (so be strategic about when you do your Scroll making, and how much; you will also need to invest in Use Magic Device). Spell Sage Wizard (see above) gets an honorable mention on the other end of the Blasting spectrum, when it isn't your main thing but you want the option to blast on rare occasion in case you run up against something like a particularly nasty Swarm: Focused Spells gives you +4 Caster Level for all purposes, including damage die of spells like Burning Hands: For one time (later slightly more) each day, you can crank up a blast higher than anyone else of the same level if you prepare properly, which in this case includes getting Intensified Spell at 3rd level, which would be of no benefit until 6th level for anyone else but will work for you once per day right off the bad at 3rd level).

•Utility (Spells) (7 to 9 of 10, or 10 of 10 with archetype support): You've got the best spell list for Utility, shared with Arcanist and Sorcerer. In this case, the Arcanist's more flexible spellcasting gives them the edge, while the Sorcerer's ability to recast utility spells that need to be cast again for any reason lets them at least give you a run for your money. The Spell Sage archetype (see above) optionally combined with the Pact Wizard Haunted Heroes Handbook Edition (see above, and get back Scribe Scroll with a feat) gives you access to a lot more spells as long as you can take your time casting them or bear the expense of using (and later remaking) a Scroll that you made; this archetype puts you back over the top for Utility (Spells). On the flip side, the Thassilonian Specialist and to a lesser extent RuneSage archetypes hurt here (although at least with the latter you can choose different Prohibited Schools after taking the time and expense to change your Runic Focus, or use a Scroll of a Prohibited Spell if you also invested in Use Magic Device as you should for this archetype).

•Utility (Intelligence-based skills) (10 of 10): You have all Knowledge skills in class, and these are all Intelligence-based, and you also have some other good Intelligence-based skills (especially Spellcraft), and you get a pretty good number of skill ranks per level based upon having a high Intelligence, so you are at the top together with the Arcanist.

•Utility (other skills) (7 to 9 of 10): Some of fairly good if not outstanding number of skill ranks per level should go to skills that are not Intelligence-based, for starters such as Perception, and in some cases also including Use Magic Device (see several examples above where this is useful or even borderline mandatory). The Arcanist gets an edge over you here for having Use Magic Device in class, so they don't have to spend a trait to get it in class, which lets them concentrate on making this skill Intelligence-based (Pragmatic Activator) if they didn't invest in Charisma, or even no trait at all if they did (since some Arcanist Exploits actually have a use for Charisma); you are usually going to be stuck choosing between Pragmatic Activator (which doesn't get the trait in class) or Dangerously Curious, which does get it in class but leaves it Charisma-based; you can't pick both traits unless you invest a whole feat (in all but name) in Curator of Mystic Secrets, because they are both Magic traits, but while Curator of Mystic Secrets lets you get multiple Magic traits, it is partly wasted on you since its other benefit only applies to spontaneous spellcasting, which you normally won't have. Several other traits exist for making different social (Charisma-based) skills be Intelligence-based (usually only in part); if you need to use a lot of these, it is probably better to invest in having decent Charisma (which isn't as hard as it sounds on a Wizard) and just letting the skills (including Use Magic Device) work normally, and if you have the spare traits, invest some in getting these skills in class. Sorcerers will be better at the social skills they manage to invest in than either you or Arcanists, but they will have a hard time getting all the social skills they need to be a full party face unless they are Sage Sorcerers, which then puts them in the same boat as you with respect to skills, except for having fewer skills in class. Witches (except Seducers, which are like non-Sage Sorcerers) are more or less in the same boat as Sage Sorcerers, so you're still ahead. All of the other 9/9 spellcasters are Wisdom-based or Charisma-based, and have 2 or 4 base skill ranks per level (except for Cardinal Cleric which has 6 but trades out too much other stuff), so you're ahead of them in how many skills you can cover, and only behind in ones that play to their strong points (assuming that they can afford the skill ranks to max them out).


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Okay, here's my take (this is, of course, just a starting point, not final authority):

That's a very welcome addition. Thanks so much. I made a few minor copy edits (e.g. Wildshape --> Wild Shape). Let me know if there's anything you'd like to change, or PM me if you'd like edit permission yourself.

UnArcaneElection wrote:
Wizard (which by the way, really needs an up-to-date guide of its own

Looks like you're well on your way. :)


UnArcaneElection wrote:
As a Wizard, you're stuck with the Planar Binding series of spells and the True Name Arcane Discovery, all of which mean you are basically extorting the service from whatever extraplanar creature you call up. Clerics, Oracles, and archetypes of other things that get the Planar Ally series of spells have the edge here, because they can negotiate a deal with whatever they call up -- this may be harder to set up, but once you do, you won't have whatever you called up being as likely to want to kill you or bind you. Note that even though it doesn't say so directly, Spell Sage Wizard, by giving you access to the Cleric spell list, thereby gives you access to the Planar Ally series of spells (and you couldn't cast these in a hurry anyway even if you were a Cleric), which actually makes it a very good option for the occasional Called creature.

So what planar binding lacks in...elegance it makes up for in control. Planar Ally sends you just SOMEONE within the HD range as chosen by your DM, whereas planar binding allows you to call up specific outsiders of your choosing who you can then bargin with.

Moreover, planar binding is largely free, and the only costs you incurr are those for preparation! Moreover, because of the versatility of being able to pick your monster, you can call up creatures that cannot retaliate with ease, that you can control by other means (domination/geas/yadda) or otherwise make deals with to keep them from being a dick to you.

So in general, planar binding is better than planar ally for the use of called creatures because you can get what you want when you want instead of rolling the planar gacha machine


Northern Spotted Owl wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:
Okay, here's my take (this is, of course, just a starting point, not final authority):

That's a very welcome addition. Thanks so much. I made a few minor copy edits (e.g. Wildshape --> Wild Shape). Let me know if there's anything you'd like to change, or PM me if you'd like edit permission yourself.

{. . .}

Earlier, I wrote:
{. . .} Runesage Wizard is like Thassilonian Specialist except for letting you pick your Specialty and Prohibited Schools each day {. . .}

Poo -- I thought I fixed that when I said a bit later that it takes time. What it should say is "Runesage Wizard is like Thassilonian Specialist except for letting you pick your Specialty and Prohibited Schools whenever you are able and willing to replace your Runic Focus".

Earlier, I wrote:
Some of fairly good if not outstanding number of skill ranks per level should go to skills that are not Intelligence-based, for starters such as Perception, and in some cases also including Use Magic Device (see several examples above where this is useful or even borderline mandatory).

Looks like I didn't finish editing that one either. What it should say is "Thanks to your high Intelligence, despite a low base number of skill ranks per level, you actually have a fairly good if not outstanding total skill ranks per level. Some of these should go to skills that are not Intelligence-based, for starters such as Perception, and in some cases also including Use Magic Device (see several examples above where this is useful or even borderline mandatory)."

Also, since these didn't appear at the top of this page of the thread, here are the links to the components of the guide (to make it easier for me to find them again without having to go search back through the thread, since they aren't in the Guide to the Guides yet):


Two comments on the Wizard guide would be:
(1) For Calling, True Name is absurdly powerful, and Planar Binding > Planar Ally.
(2) For non-Int skills, familiars are very strong. They bring additional class skills with them, often alongside strong applicable ability scores and even racial bonuses at times, while still getting full benefit from Wizardly overabundance of skill points. Familiar archetypes (e.g., Figment) and Improved Familiar add another potential level of capability here. Not every skill is as useful on a familiar as it would be on the PC (e.g., Acrobatics), but a lot of skills are much better on the familiar (UMD is 1000x better on a familiar) or in combination with a familiar(Wizard/Familiar combo for Perception is as strong as any other class).


^Good points.
(1) So Extortion > Negotiation. Figures . . . .
(2) Good addition -- I had thought about this for a while for Summoner Eidolons not built to be combat powerhouses (especially as a way to make Master Summoner's Eidolon be still useful), but apart from the lack of feats, it's true for Familiars as well, if you put some thought into it, although on the flip side, it requires more thought in the first place when you're down at levels where Improved Familiar doesn't get you the good stuff yet, and even once you get that, it's still different for specific different Familiars. Actually deserves a whole section or maybe even a whole guide of its own, and somebody even did a pretty recent one that I need to go read, and . . . hey, Iluzry, you didn't tell me you did one too!


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UnArcaneElection wrote:

^Good points.

(1) So Extortion > Negotiation. Figures . . . .
(2) Good addition -- I had thought about this for a while for Summoner Eidolons not built to be combat powerhouses (especially as a way to make Master Summoner's Eidolon be still useful), but apart from the lack of feats, it's true for Familiars as well, if you put some thought into it, although on the flip side, it requires more thought in the first place when you're down at levels where Improved Familiar doesn't get you the good stuff yet, and even once you get that, it's still different for specific different Familiars. Actually deserves a whole section or maybe even a whole guide of its own, and somebody even did a pretty recent one that I need to go read, and . . . hey, Iluzry, you didn't tell me you did one too!

Oh yeah that came with the shaman guide I also wrote and have not posted here.


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Here is my stuff on domains......

IMPACT OF DOMAINS

This particular section is not an overall review of domains per se as there are several of these already. Instead it will highlight particularly noteworthy ones that can make a real impact on any of the assigned caster roles.

Animal

Obviously for AC/Critter builds - both Feather and Fur offer an upgrade to the base domain in both abilities and spells. Feather is probably more utility caster focussed.

Artifice

Alchemy offers some interesting abilities and spells.
Liberating Command, Infernal Healing, Prot Evil, Remove Fear, Sanctuary, Air Step, Bulls Strength, Bears Endurance, Defending Bone, Delay Poison, Grace, Ironskin, Resist Energy, Blood Rage, Channel Vigor now all become excellent lower level Cleric spells to be converted into potions and handed out to party members. Great for Buffers and Healers especially if PCs are taking the Accelerated Drinker trait.

Chaos

Demon subdomain with ‘Fury of the Abyss (Su)’ as a swift action has some good mileage for a melee focussed build and would be even better if utilised by a Varisian Pilgrim.

Charm

Love subdomain with ‘Adoration (Su)’, ‘Charming Smile (Sp)’ and some solid domain spells is very good and underused I think. A Varisian Pilgrim could make particularly good use of ‘Adoration (Su)’. Great buffer/debuffer potential (depending on which way you look at it!)

Darkness

Shadow subdomain gives out basically free Persistent Metamagic on Necromancy and Illusion spells with ‘Whispering Shadows (Su)’ - only 4 deities have access to it but potentially devastating. Take for Debuff/Control/Blaster Clerics.

Earth

Caves subdomain offers a great selection of domain pit spells and some very useful domain powers with ‘Tunnel Runner (Su)’. Well worth it for any caster or specifically Utility or Control, or just a ‘Rogue’ style Cleric.

Fire

Ash subdomain is excellent. Great selection of domains spells and the always amazing ‘Wall of Ashes (Su)’. Take for Debuff/Control/Blaster Clerics. The Cleric spell list already has several ‘Wall’ spells on it and this adds 2 more (Fire and Ash). A Top 5 domain IMO and a basic essential for any Theologian, but also v.good but for a basic Vanilla.

Glory

Has the very good Glory and possibly better Heroism subdomain. Heroism works particularly well in both Critter and Buffer roles. Touch of Glory also has its uses for any Cleric that wants to tie its Initiative to CHA via Scion of War or just ace CHA checks in general.

Good
Has the excellent but rarely seen Agathion subdomain with ‘Protective Aura (Su)’ - +2 saves, +2 AC and Prot Evil to everyone within 30 ft is magic. Great for Buffer and Critter builds and with excellent synergy with other domains. Alternatively go with the Archon subdomain and ‘Aura of Menace (Su)’ to boost Debuffing - in certain ways it is superior to the ‘Evil Eye’ Witch hex.

Healing

‘Healer's Blessing (Su)’ - if you want to be a great Healer build this is for you. Free Empowered healing spells at 6th level. Niche but hey, if you really want to specialise! The Blossoming Light archetype is an obvious fit for this.

Liberation

Amazing. Use of it or the Freedom subdomain make you and allies almost “undebuffable”! Great for a Varisian Pilgrim.

Luck

Now the goodness of ‘Bit of Luck (Sp)’ is well known, but I believe its true magic only kicks in with Varisian Pilgrim (are you beginning to see a pattern here?!) for use on party martials, and it has so much potential I would consider sacrificing a Wisdom headband slot and go for a ‘Headband of Fortune's Favor’. Having a martial rolling 2 x D20s for all their rolls for 2 rounds instead of 1, is just encounter ending. Yes I know by RAW a slot can have multiple abilities but some GMs don’t allow that. Makes for a Buffer God.

Madness

The domain has some interesting bonus spells. With ‘Vision of Madness (Sp)’ and ‘Aura of Madness (Su)’ it offers excellent potential for debuffing, but interestingly ‘Vision of Madness (Sp)’ has also good buffing potential in certain circumstances. A Varisian Pilgrim could hand it out to a martial at range to significantly increase their hitting % - yes skill checks would suffer, but who cares?..... and yes saves would suffer but if you just really need to get your martials hitting and dishing out the damage then it could be worth the risk for 3 rounds. It also has good out of combat buffing potential for skill checks. Also I have played a caster cleric that used to use this on themselves in certain fights as their pre-buff to boost my saves, I didn’t care that my skill checks and attack rolls suffered since those wouldn’t be factors. By 8th level I largely stopped worrying about enemy spellcasters!
Finally, this one ability has made a specific cleric build notorious for being a debuffing (or possibly buffing) God….. I bring you of course the Divine Paragon of Tsukiyo with its boon, ‘Collective Vision (Su)’, it’s amazing, especially so as Tsukiyo is LG. I can also easily imagine a Divine Paragon with Sacred Summons using this to get their standard action Critters hitting more.

Plant

The Growth subdomain is where it’s at here - has some useful bonus domain spells and the very good ‘Enlarge (Su)’. Yes it’s only 1 round, but it’s a swift action which is key. A reach cleric could pull some very interesting antics with this as deactivating an ability is a free action, but also a Varisian Pilgrim could use this on martials to really create some mayhem. Good potential for Combat or Buffing builds.

Sun

Another rarely seen but very useful domain - both Sun and Light subdomain offer some great domain spells and abilities. ‘Sun's Blessing (Su)’ is an absolute must for an undead heavy campaign and ‘Blinding Flash (Su)’ is a really good debuff that is useable straight from Lv 1.

Travel

Not a lot needs saying about this domain, it quite literally is famously great! Curiously amongst the cleric domains, the subdomains aren’t really worth taking, although ‘Door Sight (Su)’ from the Exploration subdomain does have some benefit once you get to about 4th level as you’ll start to be able to see through walls. I’m not exactly sure on the RAW but if I was GM, I would rule that for a Varisian Pilgrim, my allies all received the +10 ft speed bonus (just to put the icing on the cake!). Overall, great for a Utility or possibly Buffer build.

Trickery

Another well-known domain - both Trickery and Deception sub-domain offer both good spells and abilities. And getting Bluff, Disguise, and Stealth as class skills provides a nice boost to a Utility build and a ‘Rogue’ Cleric. For a Varisian Pilgrim, ‘Copycat (Sp)’ has awesome potential.

Void

Both Void and Dark Tapestry have some good domain spells and powers. If you stick with Void you get better spells, if you go with Dark Tapestry you improve the powers. Both ‘Part the Veil (Su)’ and ‘It Came from Beyond (Su)’ are decent - simultaneously makes you a better Debuffer and Critter build.

Water

Here the Flotsam subdomain and ‘Sift (Su)’ does give some interesting applications with randomly pulling out scrolls of 1st- 2nd level spells. Due to the broken condition (not broken at 12th level) it uses 2x charges/uses as normal so initially you would have to put twice as many spells on the scroll to compensate. And a UMD check would be needed for any arcane spells. Nevertheless, at 6th level, 300 gp gets you a scroll with 6 effective uses of Mage Armour (1 hr duration) or 3 effective uses (2 hour duration) on it. For a niche Utility build it could well be very useful.


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Northern Spotted Owl wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:
Okay, here's my take (this is, of course, just a starting point, not final authority):

That's a very welcome addition. Thanks so much. I made a few minor copy edits (e.g. Wildshape --> Wild Shape). Let me know if there's anything you'd like to change, or PM me if you'd like edit permission yourself.

{. . .}

Earlier, I wrote:
{. . .} Runesage Wizard is like Thassilonian Specialist except for letting you pick your Specialty and Prohibited Schools each day {. . .}

Poo -- I thought I fixed that when I said a bit later that it takes time. What it should say is "Runesage Wizard is like Thassilonian Specialist except for letting you pick your Specialty and Prohibited Schools whenever you are able and willing to replace your Runic Focus".

Earlier, I wrote:
Some of fairly good if not outstanding number of skill ranks per level should go to skills that are not Intelligence-based, for starters such as Perception, and in some cases also including Use Magic Device (see several examples above where this is useful or even borderline mandatory).

Looks like I didn't finish editing that one either. What it should say is "Thanks to your high Intelligence, despite a low base number of skill ranks per level, you actually have a fairly good if not outstanding total skill ranks per level. Some of these should go to skills that are not Intelligence-based, for starters such as Perception, and in some cases also including Use Magic Device (see several examples above where this is useful or even borderline mandatory)."

Also, since these didn't appear at the top of this page of the thread, here are the links to the components of the guide (to make it easier for me to find them again without having to go search back through the thread, since they aren't in the...

Updated. Let me know if I got what you intended. And thanks again.


UnArcaneElection wrote:

^Good points.

(1) So Extortion > Negotiation. Figures . . . .
(2) Good addition -- I had thought about this for a while for Summoner Eidolons not built to be combat powerhouses (especially as a way to make Master Summoner's Eidolon be still useful), but apart from the lack of feats, it's true for Familiars as well, if you put some thought into it, although on the flip side, it requires more thought in the first place when you're down at levels where Improved Familiar doesn't get you the good stuff yet, and even once you get that, it's still different for specific different Familiars. Actually deserves a whole section or maybe even a whole guide of its own, and somebody even did a pretty recent one that I need to go read, and . . . hey, Iluzry, you didn't tell me you did one too!

Do you want to rework your Planar Binding writeup, or shall I take a pass at it?


Arkham Joker wrote:

Here is my stuff on domains......

IMPACT OF DOMAINS

This particular section is not an overall review of domains per se as there are several of these already. Instead it will highlight particularly noteworthy ones that can make a real impact on any of the assigned caster roles...

Thanks again Arkham. I'm going through it now and making minor copy edits.

Under Plant, could you clarify, "A reach cleric could pull some very interesting antics with this as deactivating an ability is a free action"? Do you mean that deactivating the "enlarge" changes the cleric's reach, and so (maybe?) creates an attack of opportunity on opponents at that new reach?

Cheers,
Owl


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Plant

The Growth subdomain is where it’s at here - has some useful bonus domain spells and the very good ‘Enlarge (Su)’. Yes it’s only 1 round, but it’s a swift action which is key. A reach cleric could pull some very interesting antics with this as deactivating an ability is a free action:

eg) Cleric swift action (size now large/4 squares), standard action attack(s) using max reach (up to 20ft depending on weapon), deactivate (free), move action away from enemy.

Alternatively, it could be combined with Combat Reflexes to max out A00s. Also a Varisian Pilgrim could use this on martials to really create some mayhem. Good potential for Combat or Buffing builds.


Arkham Joker wrote:

Plant

The Growth subdomain is where it’s at here - has some useful bonus domain spells and the very good ‘Enlarge (Su)’. Yes it’s only 1 round, but it’s a swift action which is key. A reach cleric could pull some very interesting antics with this as deactivating an ability is a free action:

eg) Cleric swift action (size now large/4 squares), standard action attack(s) using max reach (up to 20ft depending on weapon), deactivate (free), move action away from enemy.

Alternatively, it could be combined with Combat Reflexes to max out A00s. Also a Varisian Pilgrim could use this on martials to really create some mayhem. Good potential for Combat or Buffing builds.

Thanks Arkham. I think I'm just missing some rule here. This is how I naively think about this scenario.

Considering the enlarge-attack-shrink cycle here, I could see how an opponent could get an AoO if your growth moved you to within their reach. Perhaps that would mean they would get another as you shrank. However, if you grew in such a way as to not enter their reach, but to leave them within your temporarily increased reach then I would expect that you could attack them without provoking an AoO. Specifically: your reach is greater than theirs and you can reach them while they cannot reach you.

I'm not sure how you would get an AoO out of that though.


The basic reach weapon is 10 ft range, with the Enlarge that goes up to 20ft. There aren't many enemies that have >20ft reach so its unlikely you'll provoke an AOO. If they can't get an AOO when you're enlarged then by default there is no prob when you shrink back (free action) to your normal size. After shrinking back you then move away.

In essence its a way to get some free attacks in on most enemies and then move away, hopefully away from any subsequent retaliation!

The AOO option involves you staying enlarged for the ENTIRE round (including your enemies turn) and due to your massive 20 ft reach and Combat Reflexes, when your enemy moves in to either attack you or just maybe moves around the battlefield in general, you should pick up some AOOs.

Either option goes great with a Conductive or Spell-storing Weapon obviously.


Arkham Joker wrote:

The basic reach weapon is 10 ft range, with the Enlarge that goes up to 20ft. There aren't many enemies that have >20ft reach so its unlikely you'll provoke an AOO. If they can't get an AOO when you're enlarged then by default there is no prob when you shrink back (free action) to your normal size. After shrinking back you then move away.

In essence its a way to get some free attacks in on most enemies and then move away, hopefully away from any subsequent retaliation!

The AOO option involves you staying enlarged for the ENTIRE round (including your enemies turn) and due to your massive 20 ft reach and Combat Reflexes, when your enemy moves in to either attack you or just maybe moves around the battlefield in general, you should pick up some AOOs.

Either option goes great with a Conductive or Spell-storing Weapon obviously.

Gotcha. That's actually a far simpler mechanic than I imagined. I'd thought you had in mind attack ranges and enemies falling within differing concentric spheres of reach as you enlarged/shrank.

Cheers.


Good to have some free ongoing, prospective comparison of 9-leveled casters out there for PF1e, Northern Spotted Owl and all the various Contributors thus far. ;)


Northern Spotted Owl wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:

^Good points.

(1) So Extortion > Negotiation. Figures . . . .
(2) Good addition -- I had thought about this for a while for Summoner Eidolons not built to be combat powerhouses (especially as a way to make Master Summoner's Eidolon be still useful), but apart from the lack of feats, it's true for Familiars as well, if you put some thought into it, although on the flip side, it requires more thought in the first place when you're down at levels where Improved Familiar doesn't get you the good stuff yet, and even once you get that, it's still different for specific different Familiars. Actually deserves a whole section or maybe even a whole guide of its own, and somebody even did a pretty recent one that I need to go read, and . . . hey, Iluzry, you didn't tell me you did one too!
Do you want to rework your Planar Binding writeup, or shall I take a pass at it?

'

Sorry, I was out for a bit. Here's a shot at a rewrite of Called Critters and Familiars:

Called (5 to 6 of 10, except 9 of 10 with archetype support): As a Wizard, you're stuck with the Planar Binding series of spells and the True Name Arcane Discovery, all of which mean you are basically extorting the service from whatever extraplanar creature you call up. This has its upsides and its downsides. The upsides of Planar Binding (and the True Name Discovery) are that you can do it at remarkably lower cost than Planar Ally, which requires you to give a fair payment for the services of a Planar Ally creature; and you can specify which kind of creature or even which specific creature you get. The downsides of Planar Binding (and the True Name Discovery) are that you are extorting the service from whatever you called up, and whatever you extorted (and perhaps the normal master of whatever you extorted) is going to want to get even, and eventually somebody is going to succeed -- indeed, they even have a chance to refuse to serve or even to break free on the first calling. Clerics, Oracles, and archetypes of other things that get the Planar Ally series of spells have at once an edge and a drawback here, because they can negotiate a fair deal with whatever they call up -- this may be harder to set up, but once you do, you won't have whatever you called up being as likely to want to kill you or bind you, although at the cost of having to pay them for their services, and the creature type being chosen by your deity instead of by you. Note that even though it doesn't say so directly, Spell Sage Wizard, by giving you access to the Cleric spell list, thereby gives you access to the Planar Ally series of spells (and you couldn't cast these in a hurry anyway even if you were a Cleric), which actually makes it a very good option for the occasional Called creature, as long as you are willing to pay them fairly for their services, and can trust your deity not to send you something totally inappropriate for whatever you need. Either way, with these spells, a lot will depend upon your GM; but in the long run, I consider being out a few tens of thousands of gold pieces and not always getting the creature I want to be coming out ahead of the more conventional Wizard who extorted several creatures (or one creature several times) for only the cost of some powdered silver, but who then ran out of luck and got carried off to Hell or the equivalent. Do note that if you are a Spell Sage Wizard, you have BOTH options: You can use Planar Ally to deal fairly with creatures approved by your deity, AND use Planar Binding to extort creatures that your deity would approve of extorting -- still dangerous, but at least you'll have a better chance of having some backup when you need it.

Familiars (8 to 10 of 10): Familiars are nice action economy boosters, scouts, and skill users, and most Wizards have the option to choose a Familiar, and for most Wizards it doesn't confer a liability (other than financial for replacing it). DON'T choose the Familiar Adept archetype, which makes your Familiar a liability like a Witch's Familiar after all, and otherwise trades out too much for what it gives. If you want an enhanced Familiar archetype, choose the Spirit Whisperer instead -- this at least gives you access to some off-list spells and limited Hexes, along with Shaman Spirit abilities, in exchange for your Familiar becoming as much of a liability as a Witch's Familiar. Otherwise, if you want an enhanced Familiar, just be a Wizard that allows selection of a Familiar Arcane Bond; optionally choose a Familiar archetype, and then pick up Improved Familiar when you meet the prerequisites for the particular enhanced Familiar you want. Take note of which skills your Familiar will be good at -- some Familiars will be better at certain skills than you will be, potentially including Use Magic Device (thereby also serving as even more of an action economy booster). If you have to worry about losing your Familiar often, consider the Figment Familiar archetype, which auto-resurrects each day, although do note that this is incompatible with several other Familiar archetypes, as well as with the above-mentioned Spirit Whisperer Wizard archetype.


(Separate post to avoid mixing it up with the Wizard stuff.)

Additional suggestion for Cleric Domains (also for anything else that can get Cleric Domains): Depending upon your particular deity, the Liberation and Strength Domains may give you access to the Self-Realization Subdomain, which gives you Paragon Surge as a 4th level Domain spell even if you aren't a Half-Elf. This spell is so overpowered(*) that even getting it a level behind, it's still pretty good. For the replacement powers of this Subdomain, you wouldn't want to replace the Liberation power of the Liberation Domain, but you probably would want to replace the Strength Surge power of the Strength Domain, since it has such a short duration as to be barely usable (and for self-buffing, it is rendered mostly redundant by the 8th level power anyway). For the most part, the same deities offer this Subdomain from both the Liberation and Strength Domains, so you could take this on Strength and take the Liberation Subdomain that you really want from that.

(*)Especially if you somehow manage to get Improved Eldritch Heritage (Shapechanger), or the equivalent by way of VMC Sorcerer -- say hello to almost any Item Crafting feat you want without having to invest in the actual feat.


Have made a couple of tweaks to the domain section, if you could update the doc - cheers!

IMPACT OF DOMAINS

This particular section is not an overall review of domains per se as there are several of these already. Instead it will highlight particularly noteworthy ones that can make a real impact on any of the assigned caster roles.

Important prefix - the following items can boost the versatility of most Cleric builds and should be remembered when analysing domains:

Icon of Aspects - When a cleric with an icon of aspects prepares spells, she may replace the granted powers of one of her domains with those of a different domain she doesn’t have but that is associated with her deity. This lasts until the next time she prepares spells. The cleric must meet the level requirements for both abilities.

Pyxes of Redirected Focus - This round metal container is just large enough to contain the wooden, coin-sized token inside. Each side of the token is inscribed with a different prayer. Once per day, a cleric (or other class with cleric domains) may activate the pyxes and may select any one of her prepared domain spells and replace it with the domain spell of that level from her other domain.

Water

Here the Flotsam subdomain and ‘Sift (Su)’ does give some interesting applications with randomly pulling out scrolls of 1st- 2nd level spells. Due to the broken condition (not broken at 12th level) it uses 2x charges/uses as normal so initially you would have to put twice as many spells on the scroll to compensate. And a UMD check would be needed for any arcane spells. Nevertheless, at 6th level, 300 gp gets you a scroll with 6 effective uses of Mage Armour (1 hr duration) or 3 effective uses (2 hour duration) on it. For a niche Utility build it could well be very useful.
Also the Ice subdomain is good - provides better spells with the substitution of, 7th—freezing sphere, 9th—polar ray, and ‘Body of Ice (Su)’ gives you a nice temporary immunity to cold damage and some DR.

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