Welcome to the Gibbering Mouth article for March 5th, 2014. Today’s article is about my favorite archetypes.
Last week I talked about my least favorite types of archetypes. (See Dude, That’s Racist for more details.) For today’s installment of Birthday Week, I’m going to list off my favorite archetypes in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and talk about why they’re my favorite archetypes.
#10 – Scout (Rogue)
Advanced Player’s Guide. I really like this archetype, but my reason isn’t a particularly good one. In my opinion, it’s the best rogue archetype short of the ninja class itself because it’s the only archetype that is truly worth taking. In some regards, it might be too good because its abilities are very powerful. You trade two defensive abilities that seldom come into play (uncanny dodge and improved uncanny dodge) for an ability that makes using your primary attack easier; sneak attack. No other archetype offers an ability that interfaces with sneak attack quite like the scout, which earns it a spot on my Top 10 list.
#9 – Tattooed Sorcerer (Sorcerer)
Inner Sea Magic. This archetype has a really cool ability: the ability to transform a familiar into a tattoo. It basically turns all familiars into tumor familiars (as the alchemist), which is a cool ability. If you take Tattooed Sorcerer as an arcane bloodline sorcerer, you don’t really lose a whole lot except for the ability to select an arcane bond and the spontaneous metamagic ability. It’s fun, it’s flavorful, and there’s a lot of storytelling potential for something like this.
#8 – Qinggong Monk (Monk)
Ultimate Magic. I love this archetype because of its flexibility. Qinggong monk is the most flexible archetype in the game because you can pick and choose from a list of abilities and can replace a list of abilities. This flexibility makes the qinggong monk one of my favorite archetypes and I wish that Paizo would make more archetypes like this for other classes.
#7 – Nimble Guardian (Catfolk Monk)
Advanced Race Guide. I don’t usually like racial archetypes and this is one of the few that I like that isn’t intrinsically tied to the catfolk’s racial traits. Although anyone can focus on being quick or a defender, tying the ability to transform into a big cat at will to the catfolk makes a lot of sense thematically. Even if I can picture other monks gaining this ability under other circumstances, it’s much less pronounced then something like the stonelord or the buccaneer. In my world, this archetype represents an order of catfolk monks that seek self-perfection in the physical form of true cats, like lions and tigers and stuff. At any rate, this is one of those archetypes that’s begging for an archetype to expand upon it.
#6 – Caravan Sniper (Drow Fighter)
Advanced Race Guide. This is my absolute favorite racial archetype in the game because of its very first ability: the power to imbue drow spell-like abilities into crossbow attacks. This ability mechanically grounds the archetype in drow lore and is given soon enough that players realize right away why this is a drow-specific option. Although the rest of the archetype deals with steal and ambush tactics, which anyone can achieve, the imbue shot ability sets the archetype’s tone, which allows the rest of it to deliver perfectly.
#5 – Urban Barbarian (Barbarian)
Ultimate Combat. This archetype is wonderful because it’s short and sweet. It doesn’t change more than it has to, though I’d argue that even the crowd control ability might be a little much, if not excessive. Regardless, crowd control is a situational ability that is useful more often than it isn’t and controlled rage makes for the perfect “battle trance” barbarian that people so often love to build. More importantly, this archetype helps to redefine what it means to be a barbarian in a campaign world and provides a strong barbarian option for ranged characters (pump that Dex for to-hit bonuses) and for Weapon Finesse barbarians. This archetype is a jewel both mechanically and flavor-wise.
#4 – Holy Tactician (Paladin)
Ultimate Combat. This archetype puts the cavalier to shame at teamwork because its battlefield acumen ability can be used at-will rather than for uses and rounds per day. It may be limited to one feat at a time, but often that’s all you really need to share. This archetype is excellent at doing what it says it does: creating a paladin who is a tactical genius. This archetype is also an amazing dip for anyone who wants to be a teamwork specialist, so long as you can stand being Lawful Good. Some people can’t, but I think it’s worth it for the holy tactician archetype.
#3 – Archaeologist (Bard)
Ultimate Combat. You can argue about whether or not making Indianna Jones a bard was a good idea, but I’ll be damned if this archetype doesn’t pull Indy off perfectly. From rogue talents to supernatural luck to the natural whip proficiency and amazing skill set, you can tell that whomever wrote this archetype was a huge fan of Indiana Jones. Archaeologist is one of the best bardic dip archetypes available because of the Fate’s Favored trait (see me put this strategy to use in Oh, Those Carnival Nights!) and the bard gaining access to rogue talents gives him a fun repertoire of skillful abilities to draw upon as well as a few bonus feats, which the bard hurts for somewhat. You simply can’t go wrong with this archetype.
#2 – Bladebound (Magus)
Ultimate Magic. Soul Reaper Magus. There, I said it. This archetype basically covers every main character from Bleach ever. It has its downsides, but trading one magus arcana for a magical sword that grows with you is a bonus in my book. Making it magical is even better. My brother plays this archetype in one of the campaigns that I play in and let me tell you, losing one magus arcana for a free weapon and an amazingly cool RP companion is worth it without question, every time. This archetype isn’t a power house, but it’s a solid backbone for more than one character concept.
#1 – Lore Warden (Fighter)
Pathfinder Society Field Guide. If you read my Iconic Design articles, this should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone. I adore the Lore Warden archetype. Some might say this archetype is overpowered and those folks might be right, but Lore Warden represents my flavor of fighter, perfectly. It’s the smart, skillful fighter. The fighter who looks for weaknesses in his enemy’s defense and exploits them. But that isn’t why I love this archetype. I love this archetype because it trades an ability that I don’t want (bravery) for another ability that I don’t want (Combat Expertise) that happens to be a prerequisite for oodles of things I do want. If bravery was the prerequisite for some awesome feats, I’d probably think twice about trading it away. But it doesn’t, so I don’t. Any archetype that gives Combat Expertise for free is worth considering in my book, but the fighter grants Combat Expertise for free AND gives you a bonus feat at the same level. It lets you jump right into a combat maneuver or special action feat tree of your choice without waiting. I absolutely LOVE that about this archetype. I’m a guy who loves his feats, and a class that grants me 22 feats over 20 levels is a fine one in my book!
And that wraps up my Top 10 favorite Pathfinder Archetypes! What do you think? Do you agree with me on mine? Disagree with me? What are your favorite archetypes? Leave your answers and comments below and I’ll see you next time on Gibbering Mouther and on Friday for MY BIRTHDAY!
Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long over 90% of his colleagues. Affectionately called a “budding game designer” by his partner at Radiance House, Alexander is the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series (Radiance House) and a handful of other Third-Party Products. Before founding the Everyman Gaming blog, Alexander gained notoriety for writing the GM’s Guide to Challenging Encounters, which remains accessible to this day. His favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune lore warden, and his favorite pastime is eating birthday cake. Too bad it only comes once a year….