Pathfinder’s New Classes

   Posted by: Mauril   in Fantasy, Pathfinder, RPG

So Paizo is currently running an open playtest of four (soon to be six) new classes slated to appear in their Advanced Players Guide, due out some time next year.  I’ve taken some time to look over the four classes currently out (and I plan to do the same for the next two) and I have to say that, overall, I like what I see.

More specifically, I rather like the Summoner and the Witch.  I like what they did with the Oracle, but it doesn’t particularly strike my fancy, and I think the Cavalier is a little redundant.  I’ll go into each class a little more specifically.

Summoner: d8 hit die, 3/4 BAB, Strong Will Save, 2 Skill points per level from an odd list (includes UMD), simple weapons, light armor, spontaneous spells from a limited but useful list with slightly better than Bard-ish progression, Summon Monster as a spell-like ability 3 + Cha mod times per day (which scales up as if you were a Wizard casting it) for 1 minute per level, and a bunch of supernatural abilities.

Unique-ish abilities: Starting at 1st level you get an Eidolon (basically a pimped out arcane Animal Companion), which you can summon once per day, and it stays with you until it dies or you dismiss it. The Eidolon improves as you gain levels. Notably, it is not tied to your caster level and does not officially count as a Special Mount or Animal Companion, which means that if you multi-class or enter a PrC, your Eidolon will quickly become useless. So Summoner 20 is pretty much your only viable Summoner build. You can also sacrifice hit points to keep your Eidolon alive (and vice verses at 14th level), which makes tanking a viable option.

The eidolon is my favorite part of this class.  You get a pool of points each level to build your pet.  You give it limbs, attacks, defenses, SLAs, skills and movement types.  As you progress in levels, you get more points.  You can just add new features or you can entirely rebuild your critter.  It’s up to you.  The spell casting is a nice addition, but the real focus of this class is the eidolon and the SLA of Summon Monster that you get.  The summoner’s Summon Monster is a standard action (rather than one round) and it lasts for a minute, rather than one round per level.  So, up to level 10, your summons last longer than anyone else’s (barring Metamagic Extend).  Combats rarely last longer than 10 rounds anyway, so it doesn’t make much difference if your fiendish dire tyrannosaur is there for one minute or two.

There are still some issues to work out with the summoner, such as the ability to summon 7 extra attackers to the field straight out of the box. (Yes, it takes 7 rounds and then you are done for the day, but with the one minute duration, you can summon them right before opening the door to attack the BBEG.)  Some of the “evolutions” (that is, the modifications for the eidolon) are either way too useful or way too useless.  But that’s what a playtest is for.

Overall opinion: Excellent class that I would love to play when it is finalized.

Witch: d6 hit die, 1/2 BAB, Strong Will Save, 2 Skill points per level from a Wizard-ish list plus UMD (does every Pathfinder class get UMD?), simple weapons, no armor, prepared spells from a good but limited list with Wizard spell progression. You also get a Familiar, which adds bonus spells known to your list depending on which Familiar you choose.

Unique-ish abilities: You gain Hexes at 1st and every even level, which are for the most part basically debuff oriented Invocations. They allow a Save, but are Supernatural abilities, so you don’t have to worry about Spell Resistance or AMF.

I really like the witch.  It seems like an excellent, flavorful class.  It seems rather well balanced (I’d put it high tier 3 or low tier 2).  If you play Pathfinder core only (no 3.5 books) then this class fares very well.  If you start bringing in splatbooks from 3.5, then it starts to get rather weak, as it has a unique spell list, with a mish-mash of arcane and divine spells.

One thing I like (and am hesitant) concerning the witch is that its familiar doubles as its spellbook.  This is great, flavor-wise.  The witch doesn’t get its spells through books, but by a commune with a pseudonatural being.  Each familiar also gives the witch a set of bonus spells that differs from familiar to familiar.  The problem is that the witch familiars are no tougher than the wizard/sorcerer’s familiar.  Meaning they die pretty quickly when it comes down to it.  Something needs to be done about this.  I suggest treating the familiar as a summoned creature (like the eidolon, for instance) that you can summon each day as a level 1 SLA.  That way, if it takes more damage than its current HP, it just gets un-summoned and you can get it back tomorrow.

Also, one other problem with the witch is the hexes.  They are (for the most part) excellent buffs/debuffs.  The only problem is that, while they are (Su) abilities, they explicitly provoke AoOs.  This wouldn’t be too terrible if it weren’t for the fact that the vast majority of them are touch attacks.  Not ranged touch attacks, but “walk up to the scary creature with your d6 hit die, low strength, no armor and poor BAB and try to punch him without dying” touch attacks.  This, I am sure, is being changed.  The current fix seems to be that they simply don’t provoke AoOs.  This still means you have to wade into melee but with a feat or two, you can skirmish with these.

Overall opinion: Fix the hexes and I will stat this up as my next villain without any question

Cavalier: d10 hit points, Full BAB, Strong Fort Save, 4 Skill points per level with the Paladin’s Skill list, simple/martial weapons and all armor and shields (except Tower Shield). You get a Druid’s animal companion as a mount (using the same rules) but without the Share Spells ability. You get a some Fighter bonus feats.

Unique-ish abilities: Once per combat you can “Challenge” a foe, gaining scaled Precision damage against them (7d6 at 19th level), but you count as being Flanked against everyone else (buy armor of Heavy Fortification or something similar to protect against Rogues). You must join an Order, and you gain some abilities and roleplaying restrictions based on which Order you join. The abilities are a mixed bag and you generally can’t change Orders without a lengthy conversion, so choose carefully. You also must take an Oath, which gives you a very minor bonus and imposes another roleplaying restriction. At 11th level, you get a free Special Attack (Bull Rush, Trip, etc) when you Charge. At 20th level, your Charge damage is multiplied and Stuns enemies for 1d4 rounds (and notably, if they Save they are still Staggered for 1d4 rounds).

Like I said earlier, I don’t see any real reason for the cavalier.  It’s essentially a fighter/paladin focused on mounted combat.  The orders/oaths are an interesting idea, but poorly implemented, I think.  You get mechanical bonuses for roleplay.  I understand that roleplay is very important.  I am a big fan of it, but my archivist doesn’t get mechanical bonuses for playing him like a bookish scholar rather than a juggernaut of destruction.  The party cleric doesn’t get mechanical bonuses for making sure to face east every morning and bowing to the west every night because he worships the sun.  But the cavalier gets mechanical bonuses for not having sex if he takes the Oath of Chastity.  Bleh.

Other than that, the “challenge” ability seems a little messed up.  You challenge a specific enemy, which lets you toss a couple extra d6s at him when you hit.  However, this makes you considered flanked to everyone else on the battlefield.  Just hope you aren’t fighting anything with rogue levels!  It seems to try to mimic the “marked” condition that 4e introduced, but it does it poorly.  This ability, in my opinion, needs to be completely scrapped.

Overall opinion: mounted combat is too limited in most campaigns to justify a whole base class.  Cut this into a 5-10 level prestige class for paladins/fighters/rangers and I would love it.

Oracle: d8 hit die, 3/4 BAB, Strong Will Save, 4 Skill points per level from a Cleric-ish list, simple weapons, light armor, shields, Spontaneous spells drawn from the Cleric’s list using the Sorcerer’s spell progression.

Unique-ish abilities: You are cursed in some way (blind, deaf, etc) but also gain a special abilities based on your curse (darkvision, tremorsense, etc). You also gain “Revelations” as you gain levels, which are Supernatural and Extraordinary abilities. Which abilities you get depend on your chosen “Focus.” Like the Cavalier’s Order, they are a mixed bag in terms of power level and usefulness.

This is, in my opinion, what the Favored Soul should have been.  Spontaneous divine caster that actually works.  I’m sad to say that I probably spent the least amount of time reading this one.  This is largely due to the fact that this class just isn’t really my thing.  It’s well built and I like that the mechanical bonuses come with mechanical drawbacks (rather than roleplay ones like the cavalier).  No real complaints or suggestions.

Overall opinion: if you liked the favored soul, but thought getting wings was silly, the oracle is for you.

Overall overall opinion:  I like what Paizo is doing with their game.  While I wouldn’t play all of these classes, I do like the lack of power creep and the diversification.  I can’t wait to see their final versions.

I will put up a review of the next two playtest classes when they appear.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 at 11:54 pm and is filed under Fantasy, Pathfinder, RPG. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One comment


I too like what I have seen of the new classes. Instead of a violent rehash of existing classes like previous versions of DND have been these seem genuinely well thought out and balanced. For that matter two of the four look like they would be loads of fun to play (don’t remember the class names now but not the summoner) and one looks like it would be a great villain(the witch).

December 28th, 2009 at 2:03 am

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