open/close all folders
BarbarianA brutal berserker warrior that uses raw savagery and passion to hew down all that stands in their way, most associated with primal and barbaric lands beyond the reach of civilization. The barbarian is a non-magical Glass Cannon character, capable of hitting hard and fast, but not as adept at soaking up damage as its cousin, the Fighter. It emphasizes attack over defense and is better at evading or shrugging off effects, through straightforward hitpoint damage will drop it faster than the Fighter.
- Badass Normal: No magical powers, but can still compete against all of the mystical monsters and creatures.
- Empowered Badass Normal: Some of their rage powers clearly go a little beyond the natural, causing the barbarian to sprout horns, claws, and wing, or allowing them to sever magical powers.
- Berserk Button: The Hateful Rager archetype loses some general access to Rage for the Favored Enemy ability, and abilities allowing the Hateful Rager to rage more easily/effectively by fighting their Favored Enemy.
- Barbarian Hero: The bog-standard Barbarian is assumed to be one of these, naturally.
- Emphasized by the True Primitive archetype, which represents a barbarian from the most primeval, savage cultures — Stone Age type cultures, indeed.
- Zigzagged by the Urban Barbarian (specialized in fighting with barbarian abilities adapted for use in the city) and Armored Hulk (specializes in wearing armor whilst raging) archetypes.
- The Berserker: As is standard depiction for the Barbarian in roleplaying games. The class revolves around its "berserker rage" class feature.
- The Wild Rager takes it Up to Eleven and is designed as being even more of a crazy, frothing-mad berserk maniac than the standard barbarian.
- BFS: Barbarians tend to carry the biggest weapons they can in general, be it swords, axes, hammers or anything else, since their specialty is dealing as much damage as quickly as possible.
- The emphasis of the Titan Mauler archetype, which is a barbarian whose specialization in fighting much larger creatures such as giants and dragons has led them to developing techniques for wielding the absolute biggest weapons they can. This results in humans carrying and wielding weapons that are designed to be used two-handed by 20ft tall giants.
- ... or they would if Paizo didn't include an errata saying that, no, Titan Mauler's cannot wield a Large two-handed weapon if they are Medium-size, they may only a one-handed Large weapon in two hands, much to the contention of the fans. This is especially upsetting for Barbarian fans who want to wield big, oversized weapons, as the Fighter Archetype, Titan Fighter, can do exactly that.
- The emphasis of the Titan Mauler archetype, which is a barbarian whose specialization in fighting much larger creatures such as giants and dragons has led them to developing techniques for wielding the absolute biggest weapons they can. This results in humans carrying and wielding weapons that are designed to be used two-handed by 20ft tall giants.
- Character Alignment: As in the world’s oldest role-playing game, Golarion's barbarians cannot be Lawful in alignment, as the rage inside of them is incompatible with it.
- Covered with Scars: The Scarred Rager archetype always is, and actually gains powers based on them; they're so used to getting hurt and toughing it out that they can ignore certain debilitating effects and cancel bleeding damage. They're also much better at intimidating others because of all the scars they have.
- Creepy Souvenir: The True Primitive archetype has a class feature called "Trophy Fetish", which lets them make talismans from the teeth, bones, hair or other remnants of vanquished enemies, which can be attached to the barbarian's armor or weapons to grant an enhanced effectiveness.
- Death Glare: One of the "rage powers" that a barbarian can take is Intimdating Glare, which lets them shoot one of these against an adjacent foe to demoralizing them temporarily.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: The Body Bludgeon rage power allows a barbarian to use a grappled opponent as a makeshift club.
- The Horde: The Pack Rager archetype specialises in fighting in groups of likeminded allies.
- Hot-Blooded: The Barbarian's special skillset is their rage, which they learn to use in various ways to enhance their physical and mental prowess.
- The Power of Hate / Unstoppable Rage: The barbarian's Rage lets them tap into superhuman physical and mental feats due to the sheer power of their rage and hate.
- In a Single Bound: Certain rage powers allow a barbarian to make prodigious bounds and leaps across the battlefield.
- The Nose Knows: One of the rage powers a barbarian can take gives them the scent special quality whilst raging, which allows them to track other beings by their scent. The Primal Scent rage power increases the effectiveness of their scent power.
- Now That's Using Your Teeth: The Feral Gnasher archetype reflects a barbarian so savage and vicious they specialize in biting their enemy to death. Needless to say, it is most common amongst monstrous races, such as goblins and gnolls.
- One of their powers, 'Animal Fury', grants a raging barbarian a bite attack.
- One-Handed Zweihänder: The Titan Mauler archetype has a class feature called Jotungrip that allows them to wield two-handed weapons in a single grip. In a bit of sanity, this does not overlap with their Massive Weapons feature; a human Titan Mauler could wield a human-sized greatsword in one hand, or wield a giant-sized greatsword in two hands, but he could not wield a giant-sized greatsword in one hand.
- Size Shifter: The most powerful class feature unique to the Titan Mauler is the Titanic Rage, which lets them mimic the effects of an Enlarge Person spellnote on themselves for the duration of their rages.
BardWandering entertainers who weave together magic and music into a single skillful whole. With a diverse array of skills and abilities, Bards are a difficult class to define. They typically aim for shoring up weak spots in the overall party, or else focusing their abilities on an area that the party lacks. Their innate tie-in with the diplomatic skills, not to mention their innate ability to manipulate emotions and minds, makes them excel in the role of the Party Face.
- Adventurer Archaeologist: There's an archetype actually called the Archaeologist in Ultimate Combat. It has a Luck Manipulation Mechanic, can take Rogue Talents, and has special abilities relating to perception, dodging, disabling devices and detecting traps.
- The Beastmaster: The Animal Speaker archetype. It has natural affinity with the Handle Animal ability, Speaks Fluent Animal, can cast the Summon Nature's Ally spells, and their two unique types of bardic performance are performing a Pied Piper routine by summoning rat swarms via music and actively using Music Soothes the Savage Beast.
- Casting a Shadow: The Shadow Puppeteer archetype does this, and their chosen bardic medium is, as one might suspect, using shadow puppetry.
- Celebrity Star: One of the Bardic archetypes in Ultimate Magic is actually called the Celebrity. Its basic class feature is being famous in a given area, giving a bonus to Diplomacy and Intimidate checks in that area.
- Charm Person: The Bard's forte, to the point that they can use their Magic Music to create such effects of varying levels without actually spending their spells.
- The Animal Speaker archetype is instead able to do this to animals.
- Dance Battler: The Dervish Dancer archetype is this trope played straight. The related Dawnflower Dervish archetype, on the other hand, specializes in dances that invoke their magical spells, especially healing spells.
- The Dead Can Dance: One archetype is the Dirge Bard, who is essentially a bardic necromancer — a performance unique to them is the Dance of the Dead, which animates zombies and skeletons through the power of the Bard's music.
- Geisha: There's an archetype named this in the Ultimate Magic sourcebook. It even has the ability to perform a tea ceremony to boost those who partake with assorted benevolent effects.
- A second archetype, the Lotus Geisha from the Dragon Empires Gazetteer, has the ability to enrapture onlookers with their performance.
- Jack-of-All-Trades: Attempts to be this, rather than the Master of None that their counterpart in the world’s oldest role-playing game was.
- The Jester: The Prankster archetype is based on playing this role.
- Magic Music: Quite literally. Though the archaeologist archetype loses most of the actual music part, being thematically more of a magical rogue (they do still have the need for words in their magic).
- Making a Splash: The Watersinger archetype has the ability to manipulate and control water via their Magic Music.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: The Sound Striker archetype specializes in dishing out sonic damage. Its unique bardic performances invoke Words Can Break My Bones.
- The Necromancer: The Dirge Bard archetype.
- The Prima Donna: The Chelish Diva archetype is based around this concept and, as the name implies, is even tied to the In-Universe Opera traditions of Cheliax. Their 2nd level class feature is even called Prima Donna, and allows them to spend additional rounds of their bardic performance to augment their countersong, deadly performance, fascinate, frightening tune and scathing tirade special performance styles.
- The Red Mage: The fundamental idea behind the Bard is that it can fight with weapons and cast healing, offensive, buffing and debuffing spells, all at the same time.
- Swashbuckler: The Daredevil archetype essentially falls under this, favoring quick wordplay, dashing swordplay, clever repartee and acrobatic feats.
- Troll: The spirit is alive and well with the Dragon Yapper, a kobold-focused Bard archetype that specialises in annoying the hell out of people with its yapping, yammering songs.
- Utility Party Member: While they don't have as many skill points as the Rogues, Bards have several class abilities that make them excellent skill monkeys in their own right, such as being able to make all Knowledge checks untrained. A multiclassed Rogue/Bard is a popular skill monkey build.
- White Mage: The Songhealer archetype specializes in the bard's healing magic.
ClericServitors of the gods who wield divine magic to spread their influence upon the world. With access to all of the various spells of divine magic, Clerics excel at augmenting and healing the party.
- All Monks Know Kung-Fu: Averted deliberately with the Cloistered Cleric archetype, which is based upon/inspired by the actual monks of Medieval Europe. It trades armor and weapon proficiencies, and a significant amount of spellcasting ability, for knowledge-related perks (bonus to Knowledge checks in general, bonus to checks relating to written things, ability to help others pass skill and ability checks by giving them instructions).
- Church Militant: The default cleric archetype is proficient with light and medium armor, has a decent attack bonus, and is proficient with their deity's favored weapon. Clerics of gods such as Iomedae, Sarenrae, and Gorum especially tend to be this.
- The Mendevian Priest archetype emphasizes the warrior aspect of the Cleric's abilities, and is thematically associated with the ongoing crusade against the Worldwound.
- One of the archetypes from Ultimate Combat is actually called the Crusader.
- Easy Evangelism: There's an archetype called the Evangelist who focuses on spreading the good word by any way they can, up to and including Knocking on Heathens' Door. They tend to have a fairly high success rate... well, that's only to be expected, given they have the ability to spontaneously cast all of the clerical Charm Person type spells — Command, Enthrall, Suggestion, Greater Command, Geas/Quest, Mass Suggestion, Sympathy and Demand. They can also spontaneously cast the Tongues spell, making them an Omniglot, so they can preach to anyone they meet.
- Extra Ore Dinary: Forgemaster clerics gain a number of metal-focused spells in their arsenal.
- The Fundamentalist: Clerics of the Theologian archetype tend to be this, as they focus intensely on a single particular area of their patron god's religion. The Seperatist archetype, meanwhile, also tends to be this, as they are dedicated to forging a new branch of their parent religion.
- The Necromancer: The Undead Lord archetype is a Clerical necromancer, always devoted to deities who have power over death and the undead.
- Really Gets Around: Clerics of Calistria, Lamashtu and Urgathoa all tend to be this way. Calistria is the goddess of lust and thusly supports prostitution; a cleric may have been - or may still be — a prostitute. Lamashtu's portfolio covers miscegenation and perverse fertility, and thusly she commands her faithful to have children as often as possible, with no mandate towards monogamy. Urgathoa's holy creed encourages her followers to be a particularly dark form of The Hedonist, and thusly sleeping around is quite common for her clerics — at the same time, though, she expects those who married to stay together for eternity. Divorce is not allowed. Killing your no-longer-wanted spouse and reanimating them as an undead slave is A-OK, though.
- Religion Is Magic: Their spells come from their faith in their patron god(s).
- The Strategist: The Divine Strategist archetype.
- Spell Blade: The Forgemaster archetype specializes is being able to imbue arms and armor with temporary magical abilities by drawing magical runes on them. This averts Instant Runes, though, as it takes a full-round action to craft a single rune.
- Unequal Rites: The Hidden Priest archetype ultimately plays into this trope, as its basic concept is a Cleric who disguises themselves as an arcane casters in order to avoid being recognized as a cleric. Equally common amongst worshippers of the various Gods Of Evil and amongst worshippers of more benevolent deities who are working in regions dominated by a Religion of Evil, or who have to travel in the more anti-theistic kingdoms.
- Walking the Earth: The Varisian Pilgrim archetype is based on the concept of a Cleric who spends most of their time travelling from place to place, worshipping on the move rather than at stable temples.
- White Mage: The Merciful Healer archetype loses access to a lot of the combat-related abilities of the class, but is really, really good at healing people.
DruidMystical servants of the forces of nature. Though capable of mimicking the Cleric's role to an extent, the Druid's ability to summon and communicate with animals, assume far more physically imposing bestial forms, and command the loyalty of a mighty animal companion make it far more suited to direct combat.
- Animal Motif: Many archetypes specifically associate themselves with one kind of animal, and get powers relating to this animal. Examples include apes, bats, boars, dinosaurs, dragons, and sharks.
- The Beastmaster: Druids have a number of spells relating to summoning or otherwise interacting with animals, and class features that let them talk with animals, become animals, and form a bond with a Loyal Animal Companion.
- Character Alignment: As in the world’s oldest role-playing game, Druids must be Neutral Good, Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral or Neutral Evil in alignment.
- Circle of Standing Stones: Invoked by the Menhir Savant archetype, which erects these in order to manipulate Ley Lines, which it can tap into for various powers.
- Druid: Well, yeah.
- Elemental Powers: Certain archetypes focusing on bonding with one element in particular over plants, elements and nature as a whole. The Sky Druid, for example, is a Druidic Air Elementalist, with powers revolving around flying creatures and learning to fly. The Undine Adept, meanwhile, is a Water Elementalist Druid.
- Elemental Shapeshifting: The high level Druid has the ability to shapeshift into elementals as well as animals.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: One archetype from Ultimate Magic is the Saurian Shaman, who draws upon the powers of dinosaurs and even has dinosaur animal companions.
- Green Thumb: The Treesinger archetype, which specializes in communicating with and controlling plants.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: The Dragon Shaman attempts to emulate the power and abilities of dragons.
- Loyal Animal Companion: A part of the standard class abilities, though various archetypes will modify this somehow. Treesingers can have killer plant companions instead. Pack Lords have multiple companions at the same time.
- Lunacy: The Mooncaller archetype specializes in powers drawn from the moon and its cycles.
- Nature Hero
- Plant Person: A Treesinger druid can shapeshift into plants and plant monsters instead of animals.
- Raised by Wolves: A possible origin for druids. The Feral Child archetype, infact, specifically represents Druids who acquired their natural powers by being raised by a specific kind of animal, forsaking shapeshifting for a more potent animal companion and bestial-focused abilities.
- Reincarnation: The focus of the Reincarnated Druid archetype, who tends to consistently reincarnate and focuses on embodying nature's eternal powers of renewal. From fifth level on, this druid automatically reincarnates whenever slain, so long as they haven't died more than one time in the past seven days.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Druids are likely to avert this in general, but the Naga Aspirant archetype really averts it; these druids revere the human-headed Snake People known as Nagas, and eventually transform themselves into one permanently.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: By default. Specialist archetypes usually can only communicate with specific kinds of animal — Aquatic Druids that can only talk to aquatic animals, for example. The Treesinger changes this for the ability to instead talk to plants.
- Summon Magic: One of the class's specialties.
- Threatening Shark: The Shark Shaman draws upon the powers of sharks and seeks to emulate them, complete with the eventual ability to turn into a Shark Man (or Shark Woman, depending on gender).
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Via the Wildshape class ability.
- Walking the Earth: There's an archetype dedicated to it, unimaginatively called the World Walker.
- Weather Manipulation: The specialty of the Tempest Druid, which is most associated with the Sodden Lands, wracked as they are under a permanent hurricane. The Storm Druid has a similar power set.
FighterMasters of arms in all shapes and sizes.
- Armor Is Useless: Averted by the Armor Master archetype, which focuses on mastering the usage of shields and the heaviest armor possible to attain a veritably impregnable defense.
- Badass Normal
- BFS: The Titan Fighter archetype allows fighters to wield weapons one size category larger then them. Unlike the Titan Mauler Barbarian archetype, they can't wield two-handed weapons one-handed.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: The basic principal of the Fighter is that it can, theoretically, keep up with spellcasters of all stripes through sheer training and dedication.
- Combat Pragmatist: Advanced Player's Guide introduced the idea of dirty trick combat manuevers, which are based on fighting this way. The Dirty Fighter and Cad archetypes specialize in using these dirty tricks, as one might expect.
- Crippling Overspecialization: A criticism of the class is that its combat oriented nature, lack of special abilities, and lack of diverse skills, all it's really good for is "hitting things really hard." Fighters can have difficulty finding an identity outside of combat, although the Fighter's simplicity also makes it excellent for new players. The Tactician archetype in particular gets a lot more skills and benefits for out of combat.
- Drop the Hammer: The Foehammer archetype, obviously, specializes in wielding hammers. It even gains the ability to do a Shockwave Stomp type attack with its Ground Breaker ability, where they smash the ground with their hammer so hard that they knock over anyone adjacent as the crack the ground and turn it into difficult terrain.
- Dumb Muscle: Fighters can play this straight or avert this as they choose, but one archetype, the Tactician, specifically focuses on averting it, as it's a Fighter who specializes in using their brains and tactical knowledge to control the battlefield.
- Gladiator Games: There's a Gladiator archetype in Ultimate Combat.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: The Brawler archetype specializes in grappling and close-ranged combat, as well as mentally harassing their opponent. Meanwhile, the Unarmed Fighter archetype specializes in using its bare hands to fight.
- Implacable Man: The Unbreakable archetype is all about being one of these.
- Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: The Tower Shield Specialist archetype, as the name suggests, focuses on using a tower shield to make the fighter almost impossible to hurt.
- Shout-Out: Ultimate Combat introduces the Dragoon archetype for fighters, which specializes in using spears and lances and making powerful leaping attacks. Very much like the Dragoon class that has appeared in multiple games for Final Fantasy.
MonkMystical martial artists who seek to hone body, mind and soul into a perfect fighting force.
- All Monks Know Kung-Fu: As always, this is the basic precept of the class.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: Monks gain special bonuses to let them emulate this trope.
- Celibate Hero: One of the Heroic Vows that a Monk can take is the Vow of Celibacy, which requires abstaining from all sexual and intimate physical activities. The Monk takes it Up to Eleven compared to the Paladin; they refuse to share a room with another person, sleep on the opposite side of the camp from the rest of the group, and are forbidden from even touching others or allowing others to touch them — combat is, thankfully, a valid exception, but all peaceful or pleasurable contact must be shunned, including receiving helpful touch-delivered spells.
- Chained by Fashion: One of the Heroic Vows that a Monk can take is the Vow of Chains, which requires that the Monk always wears shackles on their wrists and legs, binding their limbs together.
- Character Alignment: As in the world’s oldest role-playing game, Monks must be Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil.
- Averted by the Martial Artist Archetype, who has no alignment restrictions.
- David Versus Goliath: The Underfoot Adept archetype reflects a monk who specializes in fighting much larger opponents, particularly by tripping them up and dodging them. It is most common amongst halflings.
- Dishing Out Dirt: The Terra-Cotta Monk archetype has some limited geomantic abilities; their Sudden Adit ability lets them create passages through stone and dirt, their Petrifying Strike turns victims to stone, and the misleadingly named Rainmaker ability allows them to collapse cavern roofs more or less at will.
- Drunken Master: One of the "archetypes" (alternate/variant classes) is this. It even has the ability to gain temporary "drunken ki" by drinking alcohol, and some of its class powers require that the monk has at least one point of "drunken ki" before they can be used.
- Fantastic Fighting Style: Ultimate Combat introduces a lot of these, including ones based on genies. One archetype, the Master of Many Styles, is explicitly dedicated to seeking out and learning as many as they possibly can.
- Gratuitous Japanese: The Monk itself is effectively an example of this that gets by on Grandfather Clause. Ultimate Combat takes it further by adding actual archetypes based on, and named after, martial arts terms and styles from Japan; from the innocuous Martial Artist, to the Sensei, Sohei and Tetori.
- Hates Being Touched: A Monk with the Vow of Celibacy does, because they break their oath and lose all their ki powers if they ever allow someone to touch them in a non-violent fashion.
- Heroic Vow: A character option introduced in Ultimate Magic is the Monk Vows, where a Monk tries to uphold one or more sacred personal codes; this augments their ki pool, but causes them to lose all access to their ki abilities if they ever break their vow.
- Ki Attacks: The Qinggong Monk can learn them. Arguably crosses over with Kung-Fu Wizard, since many of the archetype's Ki Attacks are actual arcane or divine spells that the Monk can replicate via their ki.
- Lampshade Hanging: The entry on the Vow of Peace notes that many monstrous enemies that a Monk is likely to face don't receive the benefit of the "cannot kill them if they could be redeemed" aspect of that Vow, since they cannot be redeemed.
- Long-Range Fighter: The Zen Archer archetype, unsurprisingly, specializes in the use of bows.
- Made of Iron: The Ironskin Monk and Student of Stone archetypes are Monks that specializes in absorbing punishment and tanking blows rather than evading and agility.
- Mana: A Monk has a pool of "ki points" that are used for certain class abilities and powers.
- Perpetual Poverty: One of the Heroic Vows that a Monk can take is the Vow of Poverty, which requires they deliberately do this. They can only ever own six items (a pair of shoes, a simple set of clothes, a bowl, a sack, a blanket, and one other item of their choice), cannot ever have any more money on their person than they would need to modestly feed, bathe and shelter themselves for a week, and cannot bother or carry any form of wealth or items worth more than 50 gold pieces that belong to others.
- Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Flurry of Blows is the monk's tactical bread and butter, allowing him to attack more rapidly than the average melee fighter, using powerful unarmed strikes. Of course, he can also use this ability with designated monk weapons, including the quarterstaff, nunchaku, and shuriken.
- Supernatural Martial Arts: The Monk's more spectacular superhuman feats are fuelled by ki energy. One archetype from Ultimate Magic, the Qinggong Monk, emphasizes the supernatural aspect of their training with enhanced abilities and even spell-mimicking Ki Attacks.
- Taken for Granite: One of the most powerful abilities of the Terra-Cotta Monk archetype is the ability to petrify a person by touching them.
- Technical Pacifist: One of the Heroic Vows that a Monk can take is the Vow of Peace, which does not prevent them from fighting if they absolutely must, but does require that they strive to attain peace. Such a Monk can only use violence as a last resort, can never strike the first blow in combat (mechanically, they have to use the fight defensively or total defenses options for the first two rounds of each combat), must always give an opponent the option to flee, and cannot purposefully slay a creature that could reasonably be influenced to join a civilized society as a productive member.
- The Voiceless: One of the Heroic Vows that a Monk can take is the Vow of Silence, which requires that they never speak any words and should always attempt to make the minimum amount of noise via their actions.
- Walking the Earth: The fundamental idea behind the Wanderer archetype; a monk who travels the world to both learn and to share wisdom and philosophy with those they meet.
- Wrestler in All of Us: The Tetori archetype is a monk specialized in grapples, holds and locks. The archetype's description even references it as a "majestic wrestler".
PaladinHoly warriors of Justice and Righteousness, chosen and blessed by the gods of light to carry out their task.
- Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Averted. The Paladin depends on armor to protect themselves in melee, but can still cast spells, as per Clerics.
- Celibate Hero: Oathbound Paladins pursuing the Oath of Chastity have to be this, with their Code of Conduct specifically stating "never engage in a romantic relationship or a sexual act".
- Character Alignment: As in the world’s oldest role-playing game, Paladins must be Lawful Good. They received an Evil Counterpart class, the Antipaladin, which must be Chaotic Evil, in the Advanced Player's Guide.
- Dishing Out Dirt: The Stonelord Paladin archetype has mystical powers over earth and stone.
- The Dragonslayer: The ideal that an Oathbound Paladin upholding the Oath against the Wyrm seeks to live up to. Their Code revolves around slaying evil and dangerous dragons, as well as protecting people from draconic predation in all its forms.
- Fantastic Racism: Ultimate Magic notes that Wyrmslayer Oathbound Paladins have been known to fall to this, even pursuing dragon-blooded beings — a definition that can include "Sorcerer with the Draconic Bloodline" — and slaying them as if they were true dragons. Mention is even made of teaming up with Inquisitors for the specific purpose of rooting out those whose ancestry carries a draconic taint. Even their Code of Conduct lists, as one of its commandments, "prevent the bloodlines of other creatures from being corrupted with draconic power".
- Good Is Not Soft: With Oathbound Paladins of Vengeance, as they focus more on their Smite Evil ability and have bonus spells that are focused more on dishing or increasing damage.
- The Great Character Alignment Debate: Subject to this more than any other class (see Lawful Stupid). Debate on what makes a Paladin fall is endless.
- The Gunslinger: There's an archetype in Ultimate Combat called the Holy Gun, which is a gun-wielding paladin.
- Healing Hands
- Heroic Vow: The Oathbound Paladin archetype from Ultimate Magic is based on this idea; they swear a specific oath and try to live up to it, and in return they receive extra powers in pursuit of that Oath. Oaths tend to focus on either specific enemies (Corruption, Fiends, Savagery, Undeath, Wyrms) or specific ideals (Charity, Chastity, Loyalty, Vengeance).
- The Hunter: A paladin of the Divine Hunter archetype is one.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Embodies the archetype. The Sword of Valor class archetype takes it Up to Eleven, while the Empyreal Knight quite literally becomes an angelic knight as they level up. Finally there's the Shining Knight archetype itself, which specializes in mounted combat.
- Knight Templar: Several of the Oathbound Paladins can become this due to Fantastic Racism (The description for Oath Against the Wyrm notes that these Paladins will even hunt down Sorcerors for the sole crime of having Draconic blood. And the description for Oath Against Undeath states that many Paladins who take this oath will even hunt down Neutral or Good undead.
- Lawful Stupid: Of all the classes - the most prone to being played like this, due to the incredibly stringent alignment/conduct requirements required to qualify. Player and GM alike may often falsely believe Paladins must be lawful stupid to stay Paladins.
- Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: The cornerstone of the Sacred Shield archetype.
- Order Versus Chaos: Receives an archetype that allows the Paladin to Smite Chaos rather than Evil.
- Magikarp Power: Chosen One Paladins are lawful good but otherwise oblivious young people approached one day and essentially forced into a Paladin's shoes. While the overwhelming majority of Paladin features are still part of the archetype, some are gained at later levels than is typical.
- Mentor Mascot: The centerpiece of the Chosen One Archetype, in the form of a divine emissary in animal form who is tasked with teaching a Paladin all they'll need to know.
- Redemption Quest: The Redeemer archetype believes heavily in redeeming rather than killing — especially because most Redeemers are, themselves, half-orcs. As a result, it has the ability to compel evil beings as per a modified Lesser Geas spell.
- Religion Is Magic: As is common with the "divine classes", Paladins receive actual magical powers due to their faith in the deities they worship.
- The Strategist: There's an archetype called the Holy Tactician based on this.
- Technical Pacifist:
- Redeemer Paladins accept that sometimes violence is necessary, but prefer to try and redeem monsters rather than kill them. Consequently, they have a specialized Smite ability called Merciful Smite that lets them do non-lethal damage without penalty.
- Tranquil Guardians are missionaries of peace and tranquility, and though they will fight, their abilities focus around defeating their foes with non-lethal damage and ending fights before they grow too serious.
- What Is Evil?: The great Paladin conundrum. Expect to have this discussion at least once if you play a Paladin.
RangerSkilled hunters and trackers, adepts of the wilderness. A warrior class that brings in some minor spells and nature-related abilities to aid in survival.
- Army Scout: It's called the Battle Scout, but the archetype is obvious.
- Dungeon Crawling:
- The Dungeon Rover is specialized in surving in underground dungeon environments.
- The Deep Walker is dedicated to protecting the lands and creatures of the underground.
- Casting a Shadow: The Dusk Stalker archetype is a Ranger from the Shadow Plane, who thusly gains shadow-related magical powers.
- Expy: The Skirmisher archetype closely resembles the Scout class from 3.5, in both form and function.
- Forest Ranger: The basic idea of the class, though they can specialize in a variety of terrains, including the "urban jungle".
- One archetype, the Wave Warden, specializes in operating underwater. Needless to say, it's most associated with amphibious races like Gillfolk, Gripplis and Merfolk.
- The Warden is based at being even more at home in their favored terrain than ordinary rangers.
- Gaia's Revenge: Wild Stalkers are rangers so dedicated to preserving nature against civilization that they actively campaign against pioneers and settlers. They are also The Berserker, having access to Barbarian Rage Powers.
- Great White Hunter: The Trophy Hunter archetype is based on this, being a ranger specialized in using firearms and out to take down the most impressive quarry they can. Which, in a world that includes demons, dragons, giants and worse, is a pretty extensive list.
- The Hunter: What Rangers can be played as.
- Loyal Animal Companion: Save for a few archetypes that remove them, most Rangers can take one. Some archetypes open up different possible animal companions.
- Not Good with People: Rangers of the Wild Shadow archetype are really, really not suited for cities. In other terrains, they excel, but in cities, they lose their powers and they cannot "bond" with cities the way normal Rangers can. As a result, this is a common personality trope.
- Stealth Expert: The Nirmathi Irregular.
- Trap Master: A class feature and archetype (the Trapper) introduced in Ultimate Magic.
RogueYour typical thief. Good at stealing things, getting into places where they aren't wanted, and murdering people by surprise.
- Adventurer Archaeologist: The Eldritch Raider archetype is a variant, specializing in seeking out and exploring magical ruins, as well as tracking down and recovering magical relics and lore. As a result, while all Rogues can potentially know a few magic tricks via selecting the right talents, Eldritch Raiders know much more potent spells.
- Back Stab: Sneak Attack, of course.
- Badass Normal: In theory. Taking the Minor/Major Magic talents bumps them to Empowered Badass Normal status, giving them some minor spellcasting without becoming full-fledged casters.
- The Brute: The Skulking Slayer archetype goes for this angle, relying on brute force and thuggery over subtle tactics and finesse. They still excel at stealth, however, making them a very nasty ambush attacker.
- Classy Cat-Burglar/Gentleman Thief:
- A Cat Burglar that focuses on stealing things with skill and finesse, making them excel at picking locks and disarming traps, is one of the archetypes for the class. In an Incredibly Lame Pun, it's most associated with the Cat Folk race.
- The Phantom Thief archetype mentions it is also known as gentleman thieves or lady thieves, and its default flavour is someone coming from the elite who grow bored with their finery and decide to find thrills with daring and criminal deeds of skill.
- Femme Fatale Spy: Invoked with the Deadly Courtesan archetype, which specializes in playing the role of an entertainer or prostitute whilst secretly being an assassin, bodyguard, spy, or any combination thereof. Even has the Bard's Bardic Performance class feature as a result.
- Five-Finger Discount: Thieving is usually one of their skill specialities.
- Knife Nut: Rogues tend to use daggers anyway, but the Knife Master archetype specializes in it.
- Le Parkour: The Roof Runner archetype specializes in this.
- Master of Disguise: The Chameleon archetype from Ultimate Combat is based on this. So is the Master of Disguise archetype from Ultimate Intrigue.
- Master of None: The CRB Rogue is accused of being this, earning the moniker of weakest class, as it does nothing which any other class can't do - and do far better, especially if you count magic. The Unchained Rogue is at least much more combat capable.
- Master of Unlocking: As is standard.
- Master Swordsman: Oddly enough, the Swordmaster archetype, which specializes in wielding swords in mystical trances, is a Rogue archetype. Needless to say, it emphasizes the combat traits and abilities of the Rogue over stealing.
- Non-Indicative Name: While the fluff description fits with the name, it did not take long for players to notice that the mechanics of the Phantom Thief fits even better as simply a PC-level aristocrat (the Phantom Thief does not gain any abilities directly related to sneaking or theft — in fact, it loses sneak attack and the trap abilities — but it does become even more of a skill monkey and gains access to the Vigilante's Socialite/Rich Idiot with No Day Job social talents), which the designer confirmed was entirely intentional.
- The Sneaky Guy
- Trap Master
- Utility Party Member: Like in its progenitor system, D&D 3e, rogues receive the most skill points per level of any class, making them well-suited for the skill monkey role. They are also the only core class that can disarm magical traps, barring alternate class abilities from archetypes.
SorcererCasters with lineage tracing back to some powerful supernatural figure or imbued in their blood by strange mystical events, the Sorcerer wields magic with instinct and powers bestowed by their special Bloodline.
- Bad Habits: The Razmiran Priest archetype is this; since the cult of Razmir is a Scam Religion based on one powerful Wizard's attempt to create a theocracy worshipping him, he secretly fosters Sorcerers who disguise themselves as Clerics to "prove" his claims. They wield arcane magic, disguised as divine magic, and falsely claim it (and their knack for stealthily activating divine wands and scrolls) are miraculous blessings from Razmir.
- Because Destiny Says So: Literally, with the "Destiny" Bloodline.
- Deal with the Devil: One of the ways the "Infernal" Bloodline can be acquired — such a deal could even be inherited from an ancestor's pact, rather than one made by the Sorcerer themselves.
- Draconic Humanoid: The Dragon Bloodline returns for Pathfinder sorcerers.
- Elemental Powers: Several Bloodlines ultimately tie to one of the elements or to elemental creatures.
- Friend to Bugs: One half of the Pestilence Bloodline from Mother of Fliesnote is an increasing affinity for vermin, including several bonus spells relating to them, the ability to charm vermin (normally, they're immune to such effects) and the Shroud of Vermin ability, which not only makes the sorcerer immune to swarms and able to command them, but also gives them an armor bonus to reflect the vermin constantly crawling over their bodies.
- I Love the Dead: Monster Codex introduces the Ghoul bloodline, which is (thankfully) usually born of surviving the dreaded Ghoul Fever rather than this.
- In the Blood: A Sorcerer's Bloodline is their most defining feature. Ultimate Magic even introduced the idea of Crossblooded Sorcerers (who have two Bloodlines simultaneously) and Wildblooded Sorcerers (who bear more focused spin-offs of specific bloodlines).
- Some Bloodlines are directly focused on racial ties, including Kobold, Ghoul and Orc.
- Lamarck Was Right: In general, many of the Bloodlines use the idea that something magical that affected an ancestor could pass down that magic and result in the birth of a similarly empowered Sorcerer.
- The "Aberrant" Bloodline basically says "you have powers cause one of your ancestors had a relationship with something similar to a Great Old One.
- The "Arcane" Bloodline basically goes "you can use magic as a sorcerer because either one of your distant ancestors was a really, really powerful Wizard, or else you come from a long line of Wizards".
- The "Starsoul" Bloodline basically says "you have powers over space because your ancestors were great stargazers or space travelers themselves".
- The "Verdant" Bloodline is usually born as a result of ancestral dabbling in splicing plant traits into themselves.
- Magic Music: The "Maestro" Bloodline from Ultimate Magic focuses on this power, with possible origins including lillend, trumpet archon or even harpy ancestry, an ancient pact with an azata, a family heritage of being bards, or a forefather that was driven mad by the gibberings of a shoggoth.
- Make a Wish: The Wishcrafter Bloodline represents a Sorcerer who has a genie ancestor, allowing them to draw upon their bloodline and grant wishes to express their magic. Ultimate Magic includes separate Bloodlines for the four kinds of genies (Djinn, Efreet, Marid and Shaitain), with all of these Bloodlines culminating in the ability to grant somebody else's wish as per a Limited Wish spell once per day.
- Necromancer: Several Bloodlines have connections to this archetype, like the Ghoul Bloodline.
- Plague Master: The other half of the Pestilence Bloodline.
- Power Tattoo: The Tattooed Sorcerer archetype specializes in wielding power through these.
- The Tattooed Sorcerer can also, once a certain level is reached, grant single-use versions to allies.
- Royal Blood: The Imperious Bloodline gains power from a lineage of ancient empires and forgotten kings.
- Squick: Some of the Bloodlines are quite disgusting, when you think about it. Aberrant, Pestilience, Ghoul...
- Witch Species: The "Accursed" Bloodline connects the Sorcerer to a hag ancestor, while the "Dreamweaver" archetype is tied to both Changelingsnote and Night Hagsnote . One could argue that the Sorcerer itself represents a Witch Species, given that they are defined as casters whose power is In the Blood.
WizardTrained masters of the arcane arts.
- Blood Magic: The Cruoromancer archetype is a necromancy specialized wizard who learns to use their blood to further augment and empower their necromantic spells. It's most associated with the dhampyr race, since their blood is tainted with necromantic energy.
- Elemental Powers: Beyond the myriad elemental spells, there are actually a number of class archetypes based around mastery over a particular element.
- Advanced Player's Guide gives us the Western classics of the Earth Elementalist, the Air Elementalist, the Water Elementalist and the Fire Elementalist
- Ultimate Magic adds the more Eastern-themed Metal Elementalist and Wood Elementalist.
- The Wind Listener is an unusual variant; an Air Elementalist-themed wizard specializing in divination spells, which are themed as the wizard learning to speak with the wind and have it convey information to them from afar.
- The Shadowcaster specializes in spells that manipulate darkness and shadows, as one might guess from the name.
- Entropy and Chaos Magic: The Primalist archetype specializes in using and manipulating type 1 Chaos Magic, or "Primal Magic" as it's known In-Universe.
- The Gunslinger: Ultimate Combat introduces the Spellslinger, which is a wizard who specializes in combining gunplay and magic to achieve impossible feats. In many ways, it's a gun-wielding variant of the Magic Knight.
- Immortality: An Arcane Discovery that a 20th level Wizard can learn is a "personal cure for aging", which removes all aging related penalties they may already have and gives them an infinite lifespan. They can still get killed, but they'll never age again.
- Jack-of-All-Trades: A "Universalist" Wizard is this for all the schools, dabbling in all instead of specializing and forming opposition schools.
- Mad Bomber: Ultimate Combat introduces the Arcane Bomber (who specializes in crafting and deploying magic-bolstered bombs) and the Siege Mage (using magic to augment siege engines) archetypes.
- Mage Marksman: The Spellslinger.
- The Necromancer: One of the class archetypes is the Necromancer, who focuses on spells of the Necromancy school and gains special abilities to turn or command undead, sicken living foes with a touch, and to sense the presence of living or undead beings around themselves.
- Paper Master: The Scrollmaster archetype crosses this with Improbable Weapon User, as they are capable of using magical scrolls as weapons and shields.
- Signature Move: The basis of the Spellbinder archetype; a wizard who forges an arcane bond with one (or more) specific spells, allowing them to "trade" other prepared spells for that bonded spell in the heat of battle.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: One of the Arcane Discoveries introduced in Ultimate Magic is Feral Speech, which is the ability to talk to animals.
- Spell Book: All Wizards have them, all need them to study their spells and prepare their spells.
- Squishy Wizard: Although thankfully not as much as in 3.5; Pathfinder having upgraded the Wizard and Sorcerer to d6 hit dice instead of d4's.
- Vancian Magic: As expected.
Advanced Player's Guide
AlchemistPractitioners of strange scientific arts that allow them to brew up miraculous tonics, elixirs and chemical compounds. An alchemist not only supports the party with potent augmentation potions and useful items via its "spells", but can both play a potent, bomb-wielding ranged attacker, or drink its mutagen and assume a more monstrous form to attack in melee.
- Alchemy Is Magic: The basis of the class.
- Beast Master: The Winged Marauder archetype specialises in taming flying animals and using them to drop bombs on enemies from above.
- Body Horror:
- The Alchemist's Mutagen, which horrifically twists the alchemist's body to the extent they appear to be completely different entities.
- A number of the Revelations introduced in Ultimate Magic go this route as well, as they involve growing (or grafting on!) tentacles, vestigial limbs, parasitic twins and even sapient tumors that act like familiars!
- Breath Weapon: One of the Discoveries available for Alchemists in Ultimate Combat is Breath Weapon Bomb, which lets the alchemist drink an explosive's formula to then exhale it as a breath weapon.
- Gravity Master: Monster Codex introduces the Void Bomb and Blackstar Bomb discoveries, which create chemicals that induce deadly bursts of super-dense gravity.
- Green Thumb: The Bramble Brewer archetype specializes in plant-based and plant-manipulating tonics, even using its mutagen to become a Plant Person.
- Hollywood Acid: The Crypt Breaker archetype specializes in creating corrosive bombs called "alkahest bombs" that explode in showers of acid especially lethal against constructs and the undead.
- Land Mine Goes Click: The Trap Breaker archetype specializes in creating land mine versions of their normal bombs.
- Literal Split Personality: An In-Universe drawback to the mutagen formula, which only worsens if the Alchemist becomes a Master Chymist.
- Loyal Phlebotinum: An Alchemist's mutagen only works for the Alchemist, as a general rule of thumb. The Oenopion Researcher is an exception, via its Experimental Mutagen class feature.
- By default, none of an alchemist's formulas work for anyone else, although one of the most commonly taken Discoveries, Infusion, remedies this.
- Mad Bomber: One possible way of building the Alchemist, thanks to its bomb-related class features.
- The Fire Bomber archetype, which literally boils down to its ability to hurl around fiery explosives, is an obvious choice for this.
- The Monster Codex introduces an archetype called the Grenadier, which specialises in throwing bombs.
- Magic Powered Pseudo Science: The Alchemist's potions and elixirs are essentially magical tonics disguised as chemistry.
- Plague Master: The Plague Bringer archetype trades its mutagens for the ability to brew up plagues and make itself into a disease variant of the Poisonous Person.
- Regret Eating Me: The Nauseous Flesh Discovery from Ultimate Combat makes the alchemist into a low-grade Poisonous Person; their skin and flesh are so suffused with noxious chemicals that any attack that leaves them Swallowed Whole will force their attacker to spit them back out.
- The mutagen's effects, and the Master Chymist Prestige Class, are ones to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
- Ultimate Magic has the Reanimator archetype, which is quite obviously one to Re-Animator.
- The Vivisectionist, from the same book, has elements of Frankenstein to it.
- Ultimate Combat introduces the Ragechemist archetype, which is quite clearly one to The Incredible Hulk.
- Super Senses: Crypt Breaker Alchemists use draughts that amplify their sensory abilities instead of creating mutagens.
- Trap Master:
- The Trap Breaker archetype is a variant that focuses on disabling traps exclusively, rather than setting them.
- The Alchemical Trapper makes mines and other explosive traps out of bombs and chemical explosives.
- Unstoppable Rage: The cornerstone of the Ragechemist archetype, whose mutagen not only transforms them into a hulking, more powerful form, but also plunges them into a berserk rage while in use.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Beastmorph archetype takes on animal shapes by using mutagen.
AntipaladinDark and malevolent warriors, wielders of infernal power, chosen by demon lords and the most malevolent deities to serve as their agents in the world. An Evil Counterpart to the Paladin.
- Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Averted. The Paladin depends on armor to protect themselves in melee, but can still cast spells, as per Clerics.
- Black Knight: The basic archetype of the class.
- The Knight of the Sepulcher eventually becomes an undead abomination.
- Character Alignment: Because the Antipaladin is the Evil Counterpart to the Paladin, it must have a Chaotic Evil alignment.
- Subverted in Ultimate Intrigue, with the Tyrant archetype, which forces the Antipaladin to be Lawful Evil instead. Depending on how you view alignments, this may be WORSE, since the Antipaladin now has the capacity to both work with good-aligned individuals (so they can be corrupted or manipulated) and make long term plans to enforce their deity's game plan.
- I Know What You Fear: Antipaladins of the Fearmonger archetype specialise in the ability to mystically terrorize their foes, and grow stronger by literally feeding on their fear.
- Really Gets Around: Standard for Antipaladins of Lamashtu and Urgathoa, as mentioned under Clerics.
CavalierWandering knights and mounted champions, dedicated to a purpose. Essentially the non-magical equivalent to the Paladin in terms of archetype, cavaliers specialize in challenging specific opponents to fight, mounted combat, and boosting their allies via teamwork feats. This makes them more viable when they naturally can't ride their steeds. They are defined by their Orders, which give them various bonuses and special abilities.
- Band of Brothers:
- Cavaliers of the Order of the Dragon dedicate themselves to serving with and aiding a group of like-minded individuals.
- The Standard Bearer archetype, meanwhile, focuses its abilities on bolstering their allies and being able to rally them in a crisis.
- Black Knight: Cavaliers of the Order of the Cockatrice are essentially this. All other Orders are some variant of the Knight in Shining Armor. The Cavaliers of the Order of the Cockatrice are only out for themselves; their charge is to increase their own glory and amass personal wealth.
- Canis Major: Halfling Cavaliers typically ride oversized dogs or tamed wolves as their steeds, and one Halfling-exclusive Order, the Order of the Paw, is dedicated to riding canid mounts and using them to protect communities.
- Character Alignment: Averted. Unlike in the world’s oldest role-playing game, where both the Knight class and the Cavalier Prestige Class required a Lawful alignment, Pathfinder Cavaliers have no alignment restrictions.
- Crippling Overspecialization: The Cavalier's fighting style typically emphasizes mounted combat. Fighting in areas where mounted combat is impractical or impossible can severely hamper the Cavalier's fighting strength (and given that this is Dungeons and dragons, a Cavalier can generally expect to see these kinds of areas often). Although, some players have worked around this by using small sized characters.
- That said, the class is actually better off than its counterparts in D&D 3.5; Pathfinder Cavaliers spend a mere five features on getting a mount, better ability to train a mount, and better charges whilst mounted, with the rest of its levels focused on aiding allies and Order-related abilities. That said, they're still less than optimal if they can't access their mount, which is particularly important for Beast Riders and Fell Riders.
- The Gendarme archetype trains to be a mounted terror almost to the exclusion of other abilities — this is how the archetype is described. Naturally, they fall headfirst into this.
- That said, the class is actually better off than its counterparts in D&D 3.5; Pathfinder Cavaliers spend a mere five features on getting a mount, better ability to train a mount, and better charges whilst mounted, with the rest of its levels focused on aiding allies and Order-related abilities. That said, they're still less than optimal if they can't access their mount, which is particularly important for Beast Riders and Fell Riders.
- Cool Horse: Though not necessarily limited to horses, Cavaliers always have mounts, as their class has special bonuses for fighting whilst mounted. The Fell Rider, in particular, favors battle from atop a fearsome, intimidating steed.
- Fantasy Gun Control: Averted; one of the valid archetypes is the Musketeer, after all.
- Glory Hound: Cavaliers of the Neutral or Evil alignments in general are usually this. It's essentially a requisite for the Order of the Cockatrice, who are out to advance their own goals above all else.
- The Gunslinger: One Ultimate Combat archetype for the Cavalier is the Musketeer, who specializes in using guns over melee weapons.
- Horse Archer: The Luring Cavalier archetype is devoted to playing this archetype.
- Horse of a Different Color: Cavaliers can ride just about anything that the DM says is valid as a steed — even by default, medium-sized cavaliers can ride camels instead of horses, and small-sized ones can ride ponies, wolves, boars and hunting dogs. The Beast Rider archetype is dedicated to expanding the variety of creatures that it can ride.
- It's All About Me: The defining trait of Cavaliers of the Order of the Cockatrice, which is made up the most selfish and personal-goal obsessed cavaliers.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Their basic character concept.
- Cavaliers of the Order of the Dragon believe first and foremost in loyalty and friendship, and are willing to lay their lives down the protect their allies.
- Cavaliers of the Order of the Shield, meanwhile, are dedicated first and foremost to the protection of the common folk.
- Cavaliers of the Order of the Sword are perhaps this in its purest form, since their defining theme is their dedication to the classic ideals of chivalry.
- Cavaliers of the Order of the Star are protectors and defenders of their chosen faith.
- Cavaliers of the Order of the Lion dedicate themselves to the service of a sovereign and the defense of that sovereign's domain.
- Cavaliers of the Order of the Blue Rose seek to defend the weak and promote peace, being skilled warrior-diplomats who prefer not to fight, but will do so in order to preserve or restore peace.
- Cavaliers of the Order of the Seal are dedicated to the protection of a specific object, place or secret.
- Cavaliers of the Order of the Tome are dedicated to preserving knowledge.
- Lightning Bruiser The Emissary archetype focuses on speed and mobility over power, but also learns how to move quickly whilst wearing armor. So, fast-moving Mighty Glacier variant.
- The Musketeer: There's an archetype called this in Ultimate Combat. Naturally, it specializes in using guns.
- Old-School Chivalry: Good — or at least well-intentioned — Cavaliers of the Order of the Sword are likely to fall into this. More Jerk Ass or outright Evil members tend to be more Stay in the Kitchen, if possibly believing their own claims that's what chivalry expects of women.
- Praetorian Guard: Members of the Honor Guard archetype, naturally, fall under this; their specialty is protecting a chosen ally from harm in the battlefield.
- The Strategist: There's an archetype called this in Ultimate Combat.
- Technical Pacifist: Cavaliers of the Order of the Blue Rose are invariably this as, while they want peace and prefer to settle things diplomatically, they're not above using force to defend those who are threatened or to stop evil — at least long enough and hard enough to make them willing to listen to reason.
InquisitorAgents of the church charged with hunting down enemies of the faith both within and without. Precisely what that enemy is varies depending on Inquisitor, and several archetypes actually focus on very specific interpretations; the Vampire Hunter and Witch Hunter, for example, focus on hunting vampires and "witches"note , while the Exorcist focuses on combatting creatures that can possess or otherwise control the minds of people.
- Anti-Magic: Inquisitors with the Spellkiller Inquisition, or who follow the Spellbreaker archetype, specialize in fighting spellcasters by disrupting their spells.
- Burn the Witch!: Besides being something that Inquisitors are generally inclined to do, there's the Immolator archetype, which is an Inquisitor whose abilities revolve around Playing with Fire.
- Cannibalism Superpower: From a tenuous point of view, the Sin Eater archetype, where performing a ritual to "eat the sins" of a recently slain creature heals the Sin Eater and, at higher levels, can be used to prevent people from coming back as the undead. The ritual doesn't necessarily need to involve eating parts of the deceased's corpse, though some Sin Eaters do consume some of the flesh or blood as part of their ritual.
- Good Is Not Nice: Thanks to bonuses to intimidate, it's easy to build an inquisitor that does this.
- The Cowl: Inquisitors have an inherent bonus to the intimidate skill and lack the strict code of ethics of the paladin class. It's well within the Inquisitor's abilities to hunt evil by using Batman like interrogation tactics.
- The Fundamentalist: The Exarch archetype is based upon the idea of an inquisitor dedicated to adhering to strict orthodoxy, and punishing those who would diverge from it.
- The Gunslinger: Ultimate Combat introduces an Inquisition called Black Powder, which lets the inquisitor have access to the firearm weapon proficiencies and gunsmithing feats.
- The Heretic: Not only do inquisitors hunt these in general, but there's an actual archetype for the Inquisitor called the Heretic.
- The Hunter: Inquisitors have abilities that lend themselves to this type of character. Extra damage against specific creature types? Check. The ability to discern the weaknesses of monsters? Check. Most Archetypes for the class focus on specific varieties of the Hunter trope or on hunting specific quarry.
- The Iconoclast focuses on seeking out and destroying magical items.
- Vampire Hunter: An archetype by that specific name appears in Inner Sea Magic, whilst the Advanced Races Guide houses an archetype for vampire-hunting dhampyr Inquisitors called "the Kinslayer".
- The Missionary: Ultimate Magic introduces the Preacher archetype, which reflects an Inquisitor whose primary role is Walking the Earth as a missionary, often tending to focus on subverting hostile powers or defending fellow believers from the depredations of the unfaithful. May overlap some with Preacher Man.
- Undercover Cop Reveal: One Inquisitor archetype, the Infiltrator, specializes in infiltrating and undermining enemies of the faith from within, inevitably leading to this.
OracleStrange and enigmatic figures, touched by the gods themselves and given divine power — but always at a cost to themselves. Essentially the divine counterpart to the Sorcerer, the Oracle's defining attributes are their Mystery (the precise connection they have to the divine, akin to the Sorcerer's Bloodlines) and their Curse.
- Bad Powers, Bad People/Bad Powers, Good People: One of the alternate Mysteries introduced in Inner Sea Magic is the Spellscar Rift Mystery, which is an Oracle whose powers are quite literally slanted towards the demonic, but despite this there's nothing forcing them to be evil or preventing them from using their powers to fight evil.
- Black Blood: An Archetype introduced in Inner Sea Magic is the Black Blood Oracle, who gains powers — and weaknesses — because their blood is tainted with the mystical necromantic substance known as the Black Blood of Orv which, you guessed it, stains their blood black.
- Blessed with Suck/Cursed with Awesome: An Oracle's Curse always has some deleterious effect and cannot be lifted, but also has beneficial effects as well, in addition to being the key to the Oracle's magic. For example, the Clouded Vision curse effectively blinds the Oracle, but gives them supernatural senses to compensate.
- Becomes increasingly the latter trope as an Oracle gains levels. The Haunted curse, for instance, causes a group of mischievous spirits to throw your stuff everywhere, in return for mild Mind over Matter abilities. By 20th level, the Oracle can fly and even reverse gravity, while he or she doesn't suffer from anything worse than mild klutziness.
- In-Universe, the former is often the viewpoint of the Oracles themselves, especially since they rarely, if ever, asked to be "blessed". The iconic Oracle lost her home and family because of her powers, since she was originally a member of the militantly antitheist cities of Rahadoum.
- The Dual-Cursed Oracle archetype has two curses simultaneously and one of them never gets better. On the plus side, this allows them to manipulate luck in order to curse enemies with bad luck and twist their own luck for the better.
- Blind Seer: Invoked with the Clouded Vision curse, which cripples the Oracle's sight in exchange for their magical powers.
- Bloody Murder: One of the revelations unique to the Black Blood Oracle is "Black Blood Spray", where being struck with piercing or slashing damage lets the Oracle hurl their blood on an adjacent target, inflicting cold damage on them if it hits.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Some of the Oracle's Mysteries are quite sinister in nature, such as the Dark Tapestry, which draws upon the sinister powers of outer space, transforms the Oracle into a Humanoid Abomination, and is most associated with Lamashtu, Norgorber, Zon-Kuthon and the Outer Gods/Great Old Ones. None of them require a specific Character Alignment.
- Extra Ore Dinary: The Metal Mystery, as one might expect, focuses around metal-related powers and spells.
- Green Thumb: The Wood Mystery.
- Kung-Fu Wizard: Rather literally, the Shigenjo archetype is based on an Oracle who also knows martial arts abilities, complete with gaining a ki pool, like the Monk and Ninja, and the Monk's Ki Strike and Quivering Palm abilities.
- I See Dead People:
- Kind of invoked with the Ancestors Mystery from Ultimate Magic, which is derived from ancestor worship and calling upon the spirits of powerful ancestors, personal and racial.
- The Occult Mystery, from Reign of Winter #5: Rasputin Must Die!, is emphatically based on this.
- The Purifier archetype is the exorcist variant, with abilities focusing on protecting against mind altering magic and breaking such effects, especially in regards casting out body-snatching outsiders. Ancestor is even one of the recommended Mysteries for the archetype.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Oracles of the Apocalypse Mystery from Monster Codex qualify.
- The Philosopher: The Enlightened Philosopher archetype is an Oracle who seeks enlightenment through compassion, moderation and humility, which they see as the key to becoming one with the universe.
- Reincarnation: The Reincarnated Oracle archetype, as one might expect, is based on the idea of an Oracle whose powers come because of their ability to draw upon the knowledge and power of their past lives. Always having either the Haunted or Tongues curses, melding best with the Mysteries of Ancestors, Lore and Time, they are most common amongst the Samsarans, a race of mysterious humanoids from the Dragon Empires who are blessed with Born-Again Immortality.
- Seers: One archetype from Ultimate Magic is actually called the Seer. Arguably, the Stargazer, who seeks meaning and prophetic insight in the movements of the celestial bodies, counts as well.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Possible via the Juju Mystery.
- Time Master: The Time Mystery.
- Willing Channeler: The Possessed Oracle archetype is based on the idea of an Oracle who allows otherworldly entities (spirits, demons, etcetera) to temporarily coopt their body, gaining Powers via Possession as a result.
SummonerA master of conjuration, the Summoner far outstrips the summoning abilities of wizards. Not only can they wield conjuration spells with expertise, they have formed a spiritual bond with a once-formless spirit and given it life and a body of their own design. This entity, known as the Eidolon, is an eternally loyal minion that obeys the Summoner's every command. The ultimate expression of the Conjurer, this Wizard spin-off class does one thing, but does it well, and the right summoned minion can more than make up for the caster's personal lack of versatility.
- Bond Creature: The Eidolon. The Broodmaster archetype focuses on commanding a group of weaker Eidolons instead of a singular, more powerful one.
- Cannibalism Superpower: The Blood God Disciple archetype grants the Summoner the ability to grant its Eidolon "free" manifestation points by letting the Eidolon eat a recently fallen foe.
- Casting a Shadow: The Shadow Caller archetype specializes in summoning shadow-based monsters and Eidolons.
- Dishing Out Dirt: The Shaitan Binder calls upon earthen elementals and Eidolons.
- Fairy Companion: Summoners can theme their Eidolons this way in general, but it is the specialty of the First Worlder archetype, which can summon various fey creatures through its Summon Nature's Ally spell-like ability and which grants the Fey type to its Eidolon.
- Fusion Dance: The Synthesist archetype is able to merge the Summoner and their Eidolon into a single, more powerful entity.
- Loyal Animal Companion: Eidolons in general can be flavored as animals, but the Wild Caller in particular specializes in animal or nature-themed Eidolons, as well as trading its wizardly summoning spells for the druidic "Summon Nature's Ally/Elder Worm/Froghemoth" spells. Similarly, the First Worlder archetype has the ability to cast Summon Nature's Ally as a class ability, as opposed to the default Summoner's similar affinity for Summon Monster.
- Mana: Technically, the "evolution pool", which is a pool of mystical energy used to "buy" the various abilities and aspects of the Eidolon. Normal spells are simple Vancian Magic, however.
- Master of One Magic: As the name suggests, the Summoner's main shtick is summoning, to the point that while they technically never get to the cast the highest-level summoning spells as spells (the Summoner's spell list only goes up to level 6 spells), they instead just get them as spell-like abilities instead (they also get to cast the summoning spells that are on their spell list at earlier levels).
- Mook Maker: The Summoner's primary combat role — and this time, he's on the party's side.
- Obvious Rule Patch: The Unchained Summoner was the only Unchained rework that was overtly a nerf to the existing class, and unlike other classes that were given the choice of converting to their Unchained variants or staying the same, all summoners in Pathfinder Society play were forced to convert, with the vanilla summoner being banned from it completely.
- Summon Magic: The class's speciality. The Master Summoner archetype trades a weaker Eidolon for increased aptitude with summoning spells.
- Squishy Wizard: Even more so than the normal wizard, since the summoner's purpose is to hide behind her eidolon and summoned creatures.
WitchMysterious and primal casters who wield eerie powers on behalf of mysterious patrons. With a wide array of mystical abilities and access to an arsenal of both arcane and divine spells, the Witch is a highly versatile caster.
- An Ice Person: The Winter Witch archetype.
- Baba Yaga: Not only is she an epically powerful Witch in the setting, one of the Grand Hexes a Witch can have is to have a Witch's Hut, an animated hut that obeys the witch in various ways.
- Creepy Good: Witches aren't precluded from being any variety of Good alignment, but their powers and abilities still tend to be pretty spooky.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Though heavily based on folkloric Witches and hags — one "hex" lets them use a hideous cackling to extend the duration of their Magical Eye hexes — this class has no Character Alignment restriction and, though usually Creepy Good, it's quite possible to be a good Witch. Indeed, the Hedge Witch archetype specifically focuses on healing and protective hexes and abilities.
- Familiar: Serves as a source for their magic spells. The Beast-Bonded archetype emphasizes the Familiar's role and focuses on developing ways to strengthen and enhance the bond between witch and familiar. Certain archetypes take different interpretations of them.
- The Bonded Witch archetype instead uses a "bonded item", similar to the wizard class feature, which presents the Witch with specific spells based on the type of object that serves as the conduit for their powers.
- The Scarred Witch Doctor uses a gruesome fetish-mask for this role instead.
- The Gravewalker carries a "spell poppet", a nasty little doll made from humanoid skin stuffed with grave dirt, bone shards and fingernails, that serves as the source of their spells and powers.
- The Bouda carries some form of grisly little fetish for this role, like a carved idol or a necklace of teeth and/or bones.
- The Cartomancer, like the Bonded Witch, bonds with an item instead of a familiar, in their case the local counterpart of tarot, using it to communicate with their patron.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Evil Witches can take the "Cook People" hex from Ultimate Magic, which lets them brew up certain potions by murdering a sentient humanoid and boiling their remains down in a cauldron.
- Making a Splash: The Sea Witch archetype draws upon the magic of the ocean, granting her powers and spells related to water and tides, as well as the moon}} and winds. Naturally, they cannot have a Patron whose interests or theme oppose that of water, such a spirit of earth or fire.
- Magical Eye: Several "hexes" resolve around this archetype.
- The Necromancer: The Gravewalker archetype is this.
- Power at a Price: Practitioners of the Scarred Witch Doctor archetype engage in Self-Harm in order to foster and focus their magical powers. They also to carve or brand scars into their bodies to symbolize their hexes (and lose these hexes if the scarring is removed).
- Prehensile Hair: They have a hex actively called this which lets them apply this trope to their hair (and their facial hair, for male witches).
- Shout-Out: The Bouda is somewhere between this, a literal Mythology Gag, and a Genius Bonus. The Bouda is a creature from African mythology, essentiall a hybrid of a witch and a werehyena. The Bouda archetype gives the witch the ability to turn into a hyena and is most iconically found amongst gnolls, which are anthropomorphic hyenas.
GunslingerWarriors dedicated to mastering the arts of blackpowder weaponry.
- Armor Is Useless: Gunslingers generally prefer lighter armor and mobility for defense, and their weapons use a target's touch armor class rather than their regular AC, effectively invoking this trope without specialized defensive powers.
- Averted by the Gun Tank archetype, which focuses on wearing heavy armor to deflect attacks whilst they blow folks away with their own guns.
- Fantasy Gun Control: Actively averts this. However, the Teppou Bushi runs with the Japanese-specific version of this, where guns are seen as somehow un-samurai (and therefore they have a harder time earning Honor than traditional samurai who use katana).
- Firing in the Air a Lot: The variant of this trope where a person shoots once into the sky to silence and/or startle people is invoked in the form of the high levelnote Deed known as Menacing Shot, which lets the gunslinger spend a Grit point and fire off a round to create a Fear spell.
- Grappling-Hook Pistol: One of the experimental guns that the Experimental Gunslinger archetype can create.
- The Gunslinger: Well, yeah. They come in many different types.
- Handguns: Gunslingers can choose to specialize in pistols, the Pistolero archetype is dedicated to the usage of pistols, and the Gulch Gunner archetype, which is based on a Gunslinger specializing in fighting in tight, close combat environments, is mentioned as typically favoring these guns.
- Heal It with Fire: The Utility Shot Deed's abilities include "stop bleeding", where the gunslinger fires a bullet and then presses the heated metal of their gun barrel to a bleeding wound to cauterize it closed.
- In the Back: The Bushwhacker archetype specializes in this sort of behavior, to the point that its class features are Craven Deeds (replacing the Utility Shot and Targeting deeds with Shifty Shot and a Long Ranged version thereof) and Sneak Shot (replacing the class's bonus feats). Shifty Shot is essentially a Grit-fuelled, firearm based version of the Rogue's Sneak Attack ability, while Sneak Shot causes the Bushwhacker to deal extra damage when shooting targets who can't defend themselves.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: The Targeting Deed allows for this.
- Mad Scientist: The Experimental Gunslinger archetype, with its ability to design customized guns, dips into this territory.
- Mana: Like several other classes in Pathfinder, the gunslinger's more spectacular class abilities are fueled by points withdrawn from a pool of energy points. The gunslinger's version is called "Grit".
- Mysterious Stranger: There's an actual archetype for the class called this that operates around being a Determinator who also is The Drifter.
- Only I Can Make It Go: A level 1 gunslinger starts off with a basic gun which only they can use properly, and can therefore only be resold for scrap. This is something of an Obvious Rule Patch, since firearms are among the most expensive non-magical items (the ones available as starting weapons should cost 1000 to 2000gp; more money than they should see for at least a couple of levels).
- Pirate: One of the archetypes for the gunslinger from the Advanced Races Guide is the Buccaneer, which is a seafaring specialized variant of the Gunslinger most commonly seen amongst pirate ships.
- Shoot Out the Lock: One of the things a gunslinger can do after taking the Utility Shot deed is to fire at locks in order to blast them open.
NinjaLegendary experts of stealth and murder. Officially described as a "Japanese/Oriental" replacement for the Rogue class.
- Arrow Catch: The variant where one uses one's bare hands to knock an arrow aside is represented in-game as Deflect Arrows, which is one of the Tricks that a ninja can select.
- Back Stab: Like their "parent class", the Rogue, ninjas are capable of sneak attacks.
- Hidden Weapons: A Trick actually named this is available to ninjas.
- In a Single Bound: The High Jumper ninja Trick allows ninjas to leap higher with ease.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: The whole purpose behind adding the class to the game.
- Mana: Like the Monk, a ninja has a pool of "ki points" that are used for certain class abilities and powers.
- Me's a Crowd: The Shadow Clone Trick lets ninjas fake this by spawning illusory doubles.
- Ninja: Well, duh. Crunch-wise, it's effectively a beefier Rogue which uses a "ki pool" to power certain special abilities, including duplicating the effects of certain Illusion spells.
- Pressure Point: A Trick named this allows ninjas to strike at them and inflict Strength and Dexterity damage.
- Roof Hopping: Invoked by the Light Steps ability, which allows ninjas to move at rapid speed over difficult terrain and things that shouldn't be able to support them — too thin branches, ice, water, lava.
- Shout-Out: The Shadow Clone trick can be seen as one to Naruto.
- Supernatural Martial Arts: The Ninja's more spectacular, superhuman feats are fuelled by Ki.
SamuraiDisciplined, organized and well-equipped warriors. Officially described as a replacement for the Cavalier for more "Japanese/Oriental" themed regions and games.
- Character Alignment: Averted. Though the Samurai of the world’s oldest role-playing game were required to be Lawful in alignment and lost their abilities if they ceased to be Lawful, the Pathfinder Samurai has no such restriction. Even the "anti-Samurai", or ronin, is a class archetype rather than a "state of fallen grace" or "Evil Counterpart" Prestige Class, in contrast to the fallen and anti-paladins.
- Heroic Willpower: An actual class feature is "Resolve", which allows them to shrug off various debilitating effects through sheer determination.
- Iaijutsu Practitioner: The Sword Saint archetype.
MagusWarrior-wizards who wield spells and swords with equal aplomb.
- Anti-Magic: Several magus arcana are focused on this. They can gain the ability to dispel magic from people they hit, disrupt an enemy's concentration, have several options to enhance their ability to strike at people who try to cast near them, and can reflect offensive spells back at the caster.
- Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Averted. Being able to cast arcane spells whilst wearing heavy armor is one of the class's special features.
- Carry a Big Stick: One archetype for the class from Ultimate Magic, the Staff Magus, forsakes the usual sword and instead wields a similarly empowered quarterstaff.
- Critical Hit Class: An extremely common build for the magus is to take advantage of spell damage also being doubled on a critical hit when they channel it with a spellstrike, get a weapon with the widest crit range available (usually a scimitar), make it Keen, and hope to roll a 15 or better on attack rolls.
- Dual Wielding: The Spellblade archetype has the ability to create daggers of magical force in their off-hand, which are dual-wielded alongside their physical weapon. They even have the ability to create a makeshift "Sword Beam" by throwing this dagger, which promptly rematerializes in their hand whether they hit the target or not.
- The Mindblade archetype allows you to manifest a weapon in each hand at higher levels. More than that, your arcane spellcasting becomes psychic spell casting, meaning you don't need somatic components to cast spells, meaning you can freely use spell combat and/or spellstrike while duel wielding!
- Elemental Powers: The Elemental Knight archetype is a Sulinote Magus who specializes in wielding elemental spells and refined versions of their normal elemental magic.
- Expy: The Bladebound archetype is one of Elric of Melnibone, complete with acquiring an sentient black sword that drains the souls of those the wielder kills and guides the bearer towards the sword's own inscrutable goals.
- The entire class is arguably an expy of the popular Duskblade class from the PHBII, which is not part of the SRD, and thus wasn't eligible for import into Pathfinder directly.
- The Hexcrafter Archetype is an expy of another popular class, the Hexblade, from the Complete Arcane - another non-SRD source.
- Flash Step: Thematically invoked by the Spell Dancer's abilities, culminating in the ability to Dimension Doornote by spending a mana point.
- Full-Contact Magic: Invoked by both the class's list of spells (touch and short-ranged only) and the class features, which include the ability to cast touch-range spells through its sword and create Spell Blade type effects.
- Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: The Skirnir archetype learns to channel their magic into their shield, augmenting its protective abilities at the price of their spellcasting, instead of channeling into their weapon.
- Magic Dance: The Spell Dancer archetype is a magus who uses dance as a way to focus and channel their spells. Naturally, their physical combat style makes them a Dance Battler as well.
- Magic Knight: The basis of the class.
- The Myrmidarch and Kensai archetypes focus more on the "knight" aspect of the mix, even gaining a number of Fighter abilities as they level up.
- Mana: The Magus' "arcane pool" essentially fills this role, allowing for specialized attacks and abilities, whereas the spells it can cast are simple Vancian Magic.
- Spell Recall allows one to use their Arcane Pool to recall and reuse previously expended prepared spells
- Master Swordsman: The magus has an archetype called Kensai, which is dedicated to mastering the sword; it gives up a significant portion of its actual spells to instead have far more deadly swordplay abilities.
- Power at a Price: The tiefling-specific "Fiend Flayer" archetype uses Self-Harm to augment its magical powers by drawing upon/spilling its outsider-tainted blood.
- Soul Power: The Soul Forger archetype is a magus who is able to infuse their soul into armaments, allowing them to create extremely powerful magical items and gear, as well as repairing broken gear instantly, making them a weird cross between this and an Ultimate Blacksmith.
- Spell Blade: An iconic magus ability is Spellstrike, which allows them to channel touch spells through their weapon, and another is their ability to grant their weapon enchantments. A magus can easily end up with a weapon that freezes, burns, and electrocutes enemies all at once, not to mention paralyzing or polymorphing them.
- Spontaneous Weapon Creation: The basis behind the Mindblade archetype from Occult Adventures. Their shtick is the ability to manifest psychic weapons using thought alone.
- Super Reflexes: The Spire Defender archetype develops these via its magic, as it tends to operate in difficult terrain and thusly places mobility and ability at a premium over armor. They gain Combat Expertise and Dodge as bonus feats, and can spend arcane points to boost various agility and mobility related skills, but lose innate training with armor, as well as the innate ability to avert Armor and Magic Don't Mix.
Advanced Class Guide
ArcanistA synthesis of the Wizard and the Sorcerer, the Arcanist is an individual who simultaneously has inherent magical talents and studies the arts of wizardry, learning to combine external and internal magic to bend or even break the rules of arcane spellcraft.
- Fire, Ice, Lightning: Three of the basic Arcane Exploits the class can learn are Flame Arc, Ice Missile and Lightning Lance.
- Flash Step: The Dimensional Slide Exploit allows an Arcanist to teleport short distances at will by spending arcane points.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: Averted. Rather than depend solely on their Sorcerous talent to cast spells, Arcanists deliberately study Wizardly lore and magecraft to gain their abilities.
- In the Blood: Like the Sorcerer, the Arcanist has inherent affinity for magic — they just choose to deliberately learn to control external magic as well.
- Mana: Called the Arcane Reservoir, but has the same effect; a system of "energy points" used to fuel the Arcanist's Exploits, though their spells are still Vancian Magic. They have the ability to "convert" Vancian-style spells into arcane points and their 20th level ability does let them cast their Vancian spells by spending points from their reservoir, as well, though.
- Unequal Rites: Mostly averted. Arcanists develop by freely merging and hybridising techniques and lore from both Wizards and Sorcerers, though apparently some wizards regard their arcane exploits as somehow cheating (then again, the reason this is known is that other wizards decided the exploits were a perfectly valid magical technique and figured out how to use them themselves).
BloodragerA synthesis of Barbarian and Sorcerer, the Bloodrager combines a deep well of inner rage with an inherent affinity for magic that they can tap into through their rage, allowing them to perform superhuman feats whilst lost in the throes of fury, as well as casting a limited array of spells.
- Full-Contact Magic: Beyond the fact the Bloodrager is all about magically becoming more deadly in the melee, the spell list for this class revolves around physically empowering or close-to-medium-ranged spells.
- Glory Seeker: With the Destined Bloodline
- In the Blood: As per the Sorcerer.
- Lamarck Was Right: Again, as per the Sorcerer.
- Unstoppable Rage: As per the Barbarian
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: The effects of a Bloodrager's rages generally involve physically transforming in some fashion — Abyssal and Draconic Bloodragers start by growing claws, for example.
BrawlerA synthesis of Fighter and Monk, the Brawler combines the latter's mobility and adeptness at unarmed combat with the former's freedom from a Lawful Character Alignment.
- Badass Normal: Like the fighter, the Brawler has no point systems or magic or ki abilities; all its power derives from sheer physical ability.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: The Brawler retains the Monk's Unarmed Strike class feature, and a renamed version of the Flurry of Blows class feature.
- Although unlike the Monk, the Brawler can use Close-group weapons, like spiked knuckles, at a slower damage dice progression than their Unarmed Strikes. This, combined with their Brawler's Fury, means Brawlers are quite deadly when their fists are covered as well.
- Confusion Fu: To a certain extent; the Brawler has the ability as it levels up to temporarily gain access to Combat Feats it doesn't know, allowing an experienced Brawler to become an Instant Expert in tripping or grappling in one fight and pull an entire Monk fighting style out of nowhere in another. This allows the Brawler to be a very versatile and unpredictable fighter, and one the GM can't always anticipate.
- Character Alignment: The biggest difference between a Brawler and a Monk is that Brawlers don't have alignment restrictions.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: The basic theme of the Brawler class.
- Name's the Same: An unarmed-combat focused archetype for the Fighter also called the Brawler was released earlier, in Ultimate Combat.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: As long as they still have access to their Martial Flexibility uses for the day, the Brawler can gain whatever combat feat they could qualify for on the fly, including otherwise-situational combat feats that are very effective for their current fight.
HunterA synthesis of Druid and Ranger, the Hunter combines the combat talents of the Ranger with the magical affinity to nature of the Druid, most distinguishable for their loyal animal companion.
- Bond Creature: Hunters are always aided by a loyal and fierce animal companion.
- Character Alignment: Must be Neutral Good, Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, or Neutral Evil, just like the Druid.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: To a much lesser extent than the Druid; they can imbue themselves and their Bond Creature with an "animal aspect" (or two, at max level) for a small but appropriate boon.
- The "Feral Hunter" archetype trades out the animal companion class feature for a limitednote version of the Druid's Wild Shape ability, allowing the Hunter to turn into an animal at will.
InvestigatorA synthesis of Alchemist and Rogue, the Investigator specializes in using their brain to adventure; their role is providing support and advice to their fellows, sometimes through knowledge and keen observations, sometimes through a well-placed blade or an alchemical solution.
- Alchemy Is Magic: Like Alchemists, they can create various potent elixirs and tonics.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Normally investigators are fairly weak combatants, but studying their opponent can dramatically improve their fighting abilities against that opponent for a short time.
- Back Stab: Their Studied Strike ability is effectively this.
- Diabolical Mastermind: The (main — it can be non-evil, in which case think Mycroft Holmes) point of the Mastermind archetype, which lets one play the Moriarty to the Investigator's Holmes.
- Inspector Javert: The "relentless inspector" archetype naturally lends itself to this.
- Psychic Powers: The Psychic Detective archetype loses all the alchemical aspects of the class in exchange for psychic spellcasting (progressing as a bard, using the Psychic spell list).
- Shout-Out: The class is basically about playing a Captain Ersatz version of Sherlock Holmes himself. It even extends to the archetypes — of the six archetypes offered in the book that introduced the class, five are Sherlock Holmes references (four to aspects of the detective himself, one to his arch-enemy or his older brother).
- The Smart Guy: This is their basic role in the party, with tricks like always taking 10 on Knowledge checks, or being able to make any kind of Knowledge check untrained.
- Trap Master: Locating and disarming traps is one of their class features.
- Utility Party Member: The Investigator is probably the king of all skill monkey classes, being a hybrid of Alchemist and Rogue, with some Bard abilities thrown into the mix. Investigators gain a crapton of bonuses to (mainly Intelligence-based) skills at the cost of rather mediocre combat performance.
ShamanA synthesis of Oracle and Witch, the Shaman communes with the spirits of all the world around them in order to request their aid in battle on behalf of the Shaman and their allies.
- Bond Creature: The Spirit Animal, which otherwise functions as a Familiar, akin to the Witch's.
- Soul Power: Most of the Shaman's abilities are derived from their patron spirit, and from a wandering spirit they select each day.
SkaldA synthesis of Barbarian and Bard, the Skald is a warrior-poet, using the powers of song and saga to incite their allies to fight harder and with greater fury, even being capable of going berserk themselves.
- Barbarian Hero: The bardic equivalent of one.
- Magic Music: Similar to the Bard.
- Master of None: Averted, in theory; the Skald has less talents in healing or knowledge-type skills than the common bard, but is tougher and better in a straight-up fight.
- Unstoppable Rage: Can go berserk, like a Barbarian.
SlayerA synthesis of Ranger and Rogue, the Slayer specializes in tracking and ending the lives of sentient quarry, whether for purposes noble, foul or purely mercenary.
- Back Stab: It's a Rogue-based class. It comes with the territory.
- Bounty Hunter: The basic archetype of the Slayer.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Like the Ranger, Slayers excel at tracking people down.
SwashbucklerA synthesis of Gunslinger and Fighter, the Swashbuckler is a quick and agile warrior who focuses on nimbly evading and outmaneuvering their foes whilst delivering quick and precise strikes.
- Dual Wielding: The standard Swashbuckler carries a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other.
- The Fighting Narcissist: With the "Panache" system, Swashbucklers are encouraged to be flashy and showy fighters, and are rewarded by being more effective at what they do in return.
- Glass Cannon: Swashbucklers can't take punishment like the more heavily armored Fighter can, but like the Gunslinger, they can dish it out pretty well.
- Mana: Like Gunslingers, Swashbucklers have a pool of energy points called "Panache" which are spent to fuel Flynning-type effects.
- Shout-Out: The Mysterious Avenger archetype is about protecting those under your care while having a secret identity. It also gains proficiency with and the ability to use for several of the swashbuckler class features with the whip...
- Swashbuckler: Well, what did you think?
- Sword and Gun: It's part of the basic character design, though nothing says they have to.
WarpriestA synthesis of Fighter and Cleric, the Warpriest combines martial skill with powerful holy magic into one lethal package.
- Character Alignment: As per the Cleric, the Warpriest has to stay within one step on the grid as their patron deity. For example, a Warpriest of Erastil, who is Lawful Good, must be either Lawful Good, Neutral Good or Lawful Neutral.
- Religious Bruiser: The basic purpose of the class is to be one of these.
- Timed Power-Up: Warpriests have three abilities that let them Power-Up mid-fight basically every turn, but run out of steam eventually.
- Sacred Weapon not only makes their Weapon of Choice (or Weapon-S!) more powerful by default, but burning a use of Fervor (their version of Channel) lets them activate a Power-Up to one (or more, with appropriate feats), ranging from a +1 to +5 Enhancement Bonus (or equivalent effects like Keen), for a number of Rounds equal to their Warpriest Level.
- Sacred Armor lets them likewise gain a +1 to +5 Enhancement Bonus or equivalent Enhancement Ability to the Armor they're wearing. This lasts for 1 minute per Warpriest level.
- Fervor acts as a Cleric's Channel, and can also be internalized to heal just the Warpriest. But its best aspect is that it can also be burned in order to cast any one spell the Warpriest currently has access to, targeting the Warpriest alone (so, buffing spells), as a Swift Action, meaning they lose no tempo in battle whatsoever, and basically crank up their Kaio-Ken level every single turn.
- Weapon of Choice: The Warpriest's Sacred Weapon means the damage dice of their weapon scales with their level, as long as it is A.) The sacred weapon of their diety, or B.) A weapon they have Weapon Focus in. This eventually results in a warpriest that can make innocuous little weapons like darts or daggers hurt more than Greatswords.
Sacred FistWhat effectively amounts to an Alternate Class of the Warpriest, the Sacred Fist is an Archetype of the Warpriest that drops all aspects of the Fighter, and instead acts as an amalgamation of the Monk and Cleric.
- All Monks Know Kung-Fu: It wouldn't be half-Monk without it.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: Like their Monk ancestors, Sacred Fists gain a progressive increase to Unarmed Weapon damage.
- Fantastic Fighting Style: Rather than the Bonus Combat Feats the Warpriest gains at every 3rd level, the Sacred Fist gains Bonus Combat Style Feats, like Pummeling Style and Dragon Style. The Master of Many Styles archetype from the Monk is an all-but required 1-2 level dip for Sacred Fists as a result.
- Kamehame Hadoken: Back in Ultimate Combat, a spell unique to the Cleric/Oracle Spell List called Blood Crow Strike, which lets its caster make Unarmed Attacks at a range of 200+ feat in the form of small bird-shaped blasts of fire, came into being. It was considered, at the time, fairly useless because it only worked with Unarmed Attacks (which Clerics are bad at), and was only realistically added so that the Qinggong Monk could make use of it starting at level 14. However, the Sacred Fist is a Cleric-Monk Hybrid, and thus gets both the Monk's increased damage to Unarmed attacks, and access to Cleric/Oracle Spell List. A Feat also introduced in the ACG, named Pummeling Style, allows its user to pool all Unarmed Attacks in a round together into a single, devastating strike. It didn't take long for Blood Crow Strike + Pummeling Style to become THE signature move of the Sacred Fist, with many a player unabashedly screaming KAAAAAAA! MEEEEEE! HAAAAAA! MEEEEE! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! while performing the maneuver.
- Mana: Sacred Fists, like Monks, have a Ki Pool, based on their Wisdom (which just so happens to be the Cleric's required stat to cast spells, for added shenanigans).
- Supernatural Martial Arts: Even more than monks – they’re ‘’holy spellcaster’’ kung-fu masters, after all.
KineticistThe only class among these that doesn't cast spells, Kineticists are masters of the elements, able to wield a strange and ill-controlled power as their bodies strain to act as vessels for the roaring might of the Elemental Planes.
- Cast from Hit Points: The "burn" mechanic, which lets kineticists take nonlethal damage to fuel more powerful effects.
- Elemental Powers: The four classic – air, earth, fire, and water – as well as aether.
- Elemental Shapeshifter: Kineticists can develop the power to transform into elementals.
- Expy: They're essentially benders.
- Interestingly this has apparently caused some annoyance with the upper management at Paizo; James Jacobs maintains the class was originally envisioned as drawing more from the works of Stephen King, specifically Carrie and Firestarter, and finds that the end result more closely resembling Avatar's benders to detract from the intended feel and theme of the class, making it stand out like a sore thumb compared to the other occult classes.
- Mechanically, they're the Pathfinder version of 3.5's warlock, which also had a key focus on a ranged blast attack with the ability to alter its shape and properties.
- Mechanically Unusual Class: Kineticists can create supernatural effects, but the game mechanics involved are quite different from standard spellcasting.
MediumBy contacting spirits in places of power, the Medium allows the personalities of legendary heroes to overcome his own, vastly changing his abilities and spells. He holds seances to benefit himself and his allies.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: The medium has incredible flexibility with his abilities - they can be a mighty warrior one day or a scholarly mage the next. The cost of this flexibility is that he won't excel like his more specialized peers.
- Powers via Possession: The bulk of the medium’s powers come from channeling the spirits of legendary heroes.
- Willing Channeler: Becoming a medium means intentionally calling and bonding with spirits.
MesmeristMesmerists' piercing stares allow them to insinuate themselves into other people's minds. A master of enchantment and illusion, the Mesmerist controls and influences the behavior of others.
OccultistTo make use of his powers and spells, an Occultist channels psychic energy into a varied collection of antiques and mementos with storied pasts. Every type of implement allows the Occultist to use a different school of magic. ie, a crystal ball for divination or a skull for necromancy.
- Shout-Out: Word of God backs up the hints towards Harry Dresden and John Constantine.
- The Red Mage: Depending on the implements he focuses in, an occultist can dabble in defense, healing, illusion, or good-old blasting.
PsychicWith her incredibly potent mind, the psychic can cast spells that are more powerful than those of members of any other occult class, and is the only class of these that can cast up to Level 9.
- Amnesiac Hero: The amnesiac archetype. An amnesiac psychic gains unparallelled versatility in their spellcasting, but suffers from amnesia and loses the archetype if they ever regain their memories.
- Higher Understanding Through Drugs: The psychedelia discipline. Your mind warps to prevent mind-reading, and you can induce hallucinations in people around you.
- Psychic Powers: Duh. They are THE epitome of psychic powers in the campaign setting, although reflavored as a type of spellcaster for ease of play and/or integration with other spellcasters, probably. They have all stock psychic powers like these in their spell list...
- Telekinesis: One of the class "capstone" features even lets you fly at will.
- Telepathy: They get a constant one for free at 17th level, even letting the player choose a new spell for replacement if the spell with the same name was already chosen as one of the psychic's limited spells known.
- Teleportation: From the usual unstable one up to interplanetary goodness.
- Shout-Out: The abomination discipline’s dark half seems to be one to the Dark Phoenix.
- Superpowered Evil Side: The abomination discipline. You have a powerful dark personality that holds devastating and cruel psychic power.
SpiritualistAttuned to the dead, the Spiritualist forms a bond with a phantom from the Negative Energy Plane, much like a Summoner with an Eidolon.
- Animal Eye Spy: Spiritualists can see the world through their phantom's senses.
- Bond Creature: The phantom, much like an eidolon is to a summoner. In fact, the rules forbid you from having both.
- Literal Split Personality: The Fractured Mind archetype can manifest an emotional shard of their soul in the physical world.
Ultimate Intrigue Classes
VigilanteLiving two lives, one of a common citizen, the other a masked warrior, the Vigilante uses the power this dual-identity gives them to battle foes within their home.
- 100% Adoration Rating: A vigilante can specialize their social identity to have this, being able to make friends in communities, receive discounts from people within that community, and eventually become so well-loved that no-one could assume them of doing wrong.
- Badass Normal: The basic vigilante specializations don't rely on magic at all in their repertoire; not only that, but they can specialize their disguises to be so good that they overcome divination and truth-telling spells.
- The Bus Came Back: One of the social talents a vigilante can choose from is called Triumphant Return, which enables them to regain renown quicker from a community they've lost renown from.
- Combat Pragmatist: Vigilantes get combat talents enabling them to become these, such as finding improvised weapons in a certain type of environment, or using grappled enemies as shields against attacks.
- Consummate Liar: Out of necessity rather than morality; vigilantes get a lot of bonuses to their bluff and disguise checks to make sure no-one finds out their secret identities.
- The Everyman: If your social talents don't focus on becoming a Socialite or Rich Idiot with No Day Job, then it's likely going to be one that allows you to feign this, letting you stay low-key with your social exploits and/or have a crafting profession that doesn't hamper with your vigilante activities.
- Expy: The class enables you to be an expy of a number of famous superheroes from real-life fiction. The Stalker combat option is inspired by stealth-based superheroes such as Batman. It gets even more blatant with the archetypes; the Brute is The Hulk, while the Magical Child is Sailor Moon (complete with magical animal guide). The Wildsoul allows you to pick an animal from which you derive your powers from, one of which is notably an arachnid that allows you to create webs, another which is a falconine that gives you wings. The Gunmaster archetype is for any Superhero Packing Heat. The Warlock is Doctor Strange. Additionally, through minor editing/combining of the Magical Child and Mounted Fury archetypes, you can be a Kamen Rider, or, alternatively, He-Man.
- Iconic Item: The Avenger can choose to have a signature weapon which gives them two feats to enhance their capabilities with said weapon.
- Living a Double Life: The crux of the class.
- Master of Disguise: Plenty of skill monkeys have allowed players to become this before, but the vigilante is the first to incorporate this as a core part of the class' identity. Notably, you get bonuses to protecting knowledge of your double-life, and you can take social talents that give you greater options for how you want to disguise yourself.
- Metaphorically True: How the feign innocence social talent is justified; essentially a vigilante is telling the truth from the perspective of their social identity.
- Rich Idiot with No Day Job: In classic Bruce Wayne fashion, if you build your social talents right (and of course get a lot of gold from your adventures), you could well become this.
- Secret Identity: Essentially what your social face is.
- Secret Identity Vocal Shift: The mockingbird social talent enables you to alter your voice as if using a sound-altering spell, though in the vigilante's case it's just your character being really, really good at voice acting.
- Socialite: The more outgoing social talents allow you to become this.
- Stealth Expert: The stalker vigilante can choose a talent that makes them able to challenge senses (such as blindsense and scent) that would normally hard-counter stealth. Their foe still gets a bonus (and a hefty one at that), but the fact a stalker vigilante is able to even challenge these normally instant successes makes them potentially better at stealth than classes like the rogue.
- Stock Superhero Day Jobs: Not as many as you would think, but they're there; the two key social builds are either The Socialite with 100% Adoration Rating, or a Master of Disguise who blends in as an an ordinary citizen with a mundane day job.
- Superhero: The vigilante is basically superhero: the class.
Core Rulebook Prestige Classes
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Earlier in the class, the Arcane Archer learns "Seeker Arrow", and later "Phase Arrow".
- Mage Marksman: The basic idea, enhancing one's arrows with magic, including their spells.
- Spreadshot: The ability "Hail of Arrows" allows this.
Arcane TricksterWith a taste for mischief and trickery, the Arcane Trickster acts as an enhanced rogue or lower-leveled Wizard or Sorcerer, confounding foes in ways a regular Rogue can't, while also doing some things even the most powerful spellcasters cannot do.
- Back Stab: As the Rogue does, they get Sneak Attack dice. UNLIKE the Rogue, their capstone ability "Surprise Spells", allows them to sneak-attack with their spells!
- Character Alignment: Any non-lawful.
- Magic Knight: Magical Rogue, technically...
- Simplified Spellcasting: Their "Tricky Spells" ability, from class level of five and up, allows them to subvert the normal rules of Spell Construction (at least verbal and gesture components) a few times a day.
- Telekinesis: At least has Mage Hand as a pre-requisite, which can be considered a minor form of this.
Dragon DiscipleA Sorcerer or some such spellcaster with draconic heritage can sometimes turn to options other than a base-line class, and so this is where the Dragon Disciple comes in.
- Draconic Humanoid
- Scaled Up: In later levels, they become capable of this a couple of times per day, into a dragon form matching their specific bloodline.
- Master Swordsman: The basic gist of the class.
- Out of Focus: Since the debut of the Magus; the Eldritch Knight was the original Magic Knight. The iconic magus even used to be the illustration for the eldritch knight.
- Magic Knight
- Magic Librarian: Because of their deep studies and keeping of secrets and, well, lore, they can perform many unusual feats and abilities.
- Master of None: The main deterrent to many in the meta-game, because while it grants variety, so many players focus on how one of its two abilities only modifies up to 5th-level spells.
- Red Mage: The whole theme is to use both Arcane and Divine magic in one class.
- Weak, but Skilled: Again, a deterrent to many a player is the lack of the highest levels of magic... and that taking levels in this class takes away from the other class features of the combined classes, such as Druids with Wild-Shaping, Sorcerers with Bloodlines, Wizards with School Powers, Clerics' Channeling, etc. A trade-off, however, is the ability to share spell slots between the classes as the Theurge levels up.
- Crazy-Prepared: The idea is just that the Chronicler is that well-traveled.
Advanced Player's Guide Prestige Classes
Battle HeraldStick a Cavalier's tactics and a Bard's penchant to perform in a blender and set to puree. That is the Battle Herald, a combatant whom inspires and leads comrades like no other.
Holy VindicatorA Cleric after taking a level in badass or a Paladin Up to Eleven, this class's faith in its deity is so strong that its blood literally burns with righteous power and holy fervor.
- Blood Magic: This is the modus operandi of the class. Regardless of alignment or deity. Overlaps slightly with Cast from Hit Points, as using this causes bleed damage for the Vindicator.
- Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: They get bonuses to Armor Class for channeling energy into their shields.
Horizon WalkerTake the Ranger's penchant for Favored Terrain and focus on nothing else. The Horizon Walker thus is comfortable traveling even where the bravest souls oft fear to tread.
Master ChymistFrom potion-maker to Jekyll and Hyde, this is the path of an Alchemist whose Mutagens have dominated them in the same way as the mentioned literary characters. Two personalities. Two alignments. One body.
Master SpyExactly What It Says on the Tin, the Master Spy is often a specialized form of Rogue or Bard that uses cunning and wiles to get the job done.
Nature WardenThe union of the disciplines of a cunning Ranger and a wily Druid, these guardians energize not only themselves, but their animal companions to combat those that threaten the wilds.
- Cold Iron: Apparently, protecting the wilds isn't limited to fighting mundane threats, as later in level, the Nature Warden may give their animal companions and summoned creatures the properties of this, along with damage resistance to all but this.
- Loyal Animal Companion: As the option for Druids and Rangers, but with this prestige class, it's mandatory.
- Silver Has Mystic Powers: As with Cold Iron above, though earlier in leveling.