Base Classes

How did you spend your weekend? Did you spend most of it test rolling Pathfinder Characters and listening to music? I totally did.
As part of my homework for future Pathfinder games and as a responsible GM, I’ve been reading up on the “Base Classes” and it occurred to me that I didn’t know anything about them. None of them particularly appealed to me as I think there is so much that can be done within the “Core Classes”.

Core Class Reunion.

The Core Classes are those that Pathfinder inherited from 3rd edition: Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorceror, Wizard. That’s a lot and I think there is so much wiggle room in just the Basic rules that you can create pretty much whatever you want. Even combining all the possible races with these classes, you have 51 possible combos. Then most classes have a couple of ways you can split – Ranged Ranger or Two Weapon Ranger? Shapechangey Druid or Animal Companion Druid? Cleric of A, or Cleric of B through Z? It seems like there’s plenty of meat to chew on in the Basic book. But, that’s because I haven’t thought about it exhaustively, because they came up with other classes.
Base Classes are classes that have a full progression from levels 1-20 and have no requirements for qualification, unlike, say Prestige Classes. Here is my capsule review of them, which will either pique your interest or convince you that they aren’t for you.

“They called me mad, mad! Well, I’ll show them, I’ll show them all… as soon as they all stand 5′ from each other.”

The Alchemist is a mad scientist type, throwing together extracts and bombs to make himself more formidable and his enemies more burning to death. They carry around books of formulae, that work more or less like spellbooks. They are also good at the traditional liquid creation parts of D&D: potions and poisons.
Important Stats: Intelligence/Dexterity
Strong Points: Creates mutagens (to increase physical stats temporarily), extracts (spells in potion form) and bombs easily, can also create potions and use poison. Decent Skills. Good Saves.
Weak Points: Only the alchemist can use extracts, mutagens and bombs and the extracts only ever effect him. Limited to light armour and simple weapons.
Party Roles: AoE? Although there are plenty of things that boost this class for combat, they’re still not cut out for melee.

Cavalier treats revolving doors as difficult terrain.

The Cavalier is supposed to be a knight, a particular type of fighter – kind of like a Fighter/Paladin, as though one were necessary. The flavour text tells us that they are used to courtly intrigues and are inspirational leaders, but they don’t really have any Charisma based abilities. They have a few Cha based skills on their list, but having good Charisma seems like an option rather than a requirement. They benefit from any stat that Fighters benefit from, for the same reason. The Cavalier chooses one of 12 Chivalrous Orders (13 if you are a Halfling… Cavalier) which give different benefits according to how you want to play your knight.
Important Stats: Strength
Strong Points: Situational combat Buffs, both party and self. Great at mounted combat. Free horse. Good BAB. Order choice grants a flavourful bonus and adds skills to class list. All armour is available.
Weak Points: A lot of this class happens on horseback. Not all of it, but a lot. Order choice determines situational behaviour and moral positions.
Party Roles: Pretty strong support Melee. Melee/Buff I’d call it.

Her bones are made of pure Adam Ant-ium!

The Gunslinger is for players who don’t like D&D. No, I’m kidding, I’m sure there is a reason for the Gunslinger, I just can’t see any good ones. There is a magic-dead nation in the Golarion setting and that’s cool. But… jesus, just play Deadlands. It is a good game. In terms of mechanics, they function like a Gun-Monk, with Grit points spent to do tricks with their guns, but unlike the Monk they can earn Grit as they go. Can’t wait for the Astronaut and Space Mutant Base class to get added.
Important Stats: Dexterity/Wisdom
Strong Points: Good Saves, Good BAB. Tricks with guns, applying debuffs with the gun. Abilities make them tough to hit back at range.
Weak Points: Only Light Armour. All your eggs in one gun basket – lose that gun for any reason and you’re just a dipshit in light armour.
Party Role: Making everyone regret putting points in Stealth. Good ranged dot and debuffs.

Oh, THAT is where in the world Carmen Sandiego is, hiding behind those ridiculous bewbs. Could luck drawing your bow with those rocks in the way.

The Inquisitor, I actually really like. Somewhere between Paladin and Ranger there is room for the Inquisitor. The Inquisitor seeks out enemies of their church; they aren’t bound to a particular code of ethics like the Paladin, they’re a lot more flexible. The roleplaying opportunities seem strongest with the Inquisitor, to me at least. They seem like a progression of the Rogue-with-a-badge people used to build – someone with Rogue skills who used them to be a bounty hunter or whatever. Maybe I get carried away thinking about the Head Priest is going to yell at me for being a maverick with no regard for other people.. a loose cannon.. a danger to the whole department.. 
Important Stats: Wisdom
Strong Points: Very flexible Self buffs, Orisons, Domain ability like a cleric. Good skill list. “Monster hunting” abilities.
Weak Points: Limited spells, medium track BAB. Must prepare spells.
Party Roles: Support combat, going to shine against certain foes, like the Ranger and Paladin.

Magus is Latin, descended from the Greek “Magos”, which means “Now I really regret not bringing the Bard instead”.

The Magus is a melee spellcaster. One hand for a weapon, one hand for a spell. In that sense, they’re a less useful Bard.
Important Stats: Intelligence/Strength
Strong Points: Good saves. “Dual wields” weapons and spells, allowing him to cast and attack in the same turn. Attack buffs. Extra Feats.
Weak Points: Only d8 HP for a melee class. Must prepare spells from spellbook, small selection. Small skill list and pool. Starts in light armour. Medium track BAB.
Party Roles: Cry about not getting healed fast enough. Seems like a fragile melee option.

Handicapable black religious lady brings diversity to any adventuring party.

The Oracle seems to fill a void between cleric and druid. They are religious figures, certainly, but outside the normal cleric build. Like divine sorcerors, I guess. You are still aligned with a deity, and serve their particular agenda.
Important Stats: Charisma.
Strong Points: Flexible packages of “Mysteries”, which give Deity related skills, bonus spells and special abilities. Oracle curses impart special abilities. No spell prep needed.
Weak Points: Medium track BAB, poor saves. Limited divine spells known. Oracle curses impart permanent physical defects.
Party Roles: Seems like a more focused/limited Cleric. Clerics can do a mind-boggling array of things (beyond healing) and this chokes down on it and creates a very flexible support caster within limits.

I could swear I know this guy… maybe a cousin of his?

The Summoner is a very specific arcane specialist. Seems to fall somewhere between Druid and Sorceror. The main thing about the Summoner is that you get to play two party members, the Summoner and his almost certainly more awesome Eidolon. The Eidolon is a customizable outsider and functions much like the WoW Warlock’s “pets”. Seems like a powerful class… that would be a massive pain in the ass.
Important Stats: Charisma
Strong Points: d8 HP and Light Armour. Eidolon. Can cast Summon Monster (3 + Cha Mod) times a day and they stick around 10 times longer. Can trade HPs with Eidolon and also heal Eidolon, ergo, the Summoner can heal himself.
Weak Points: Poor saves. Spells limited selection. Slow spell slot progression. Everyone will hate him.
Party Roles: Portable ally dispenser. Eidolon as a support melee. Annoying everyone by taking 4 times as much play time during combat while he resolves his actions, his Eidolons actions and his summoned monster actions. Annoying the DM by not having the stats of his summoned creatures on hand.

Young lady, you are not going out dressed like that. I don’t care if it is a Marilyn Madsen concert, you will catch your death of cold. And go and put your calipers on at once. You know what will happen to your soft leg bones if you don’t wear them.

The Witch… hmm. I’m having a hard time seeing what this class has above wizard or at least, how different they really are: the difference appears to be that Witches get Buff/Debuff Hexes where Wizards get School abilities; and Witch familiars are slightly more powerful and their spell list mixed div/arc at the cost of some of the big spells that Wizards get. Still, very powerful class.
Important Stats: Intelligence.
Strong Points: Witches Familiar allows spell storing in familiars, Buff and Debuff hexes ad infinitum – the only thing stopping a witch from casting hexes all day long is that most hexes can’t be repeated on the same target by the same witch, tailored bonus spells
Weak Points: Poor skill points, poor saves, poor BAB, prepares spells.
Party Roles: Strong Crowd Control and Buff/Debuff caster.
The Cavalier and the Magus seem the least necessary in terms of utility, whereas the Summoner and Witch both bring a lot to the table, although they are really just variants on Sorcerors and Wizards respectively. I’d say the most appealing to me would be the Inquisitor and the least would be the Gunslinger, but your mileage may vary.
Don’t ask me about the Anti-Paladin, Ninja or Samurai. It isn’t that they don’t exist, it’s that they don’t exist anywhere we’ll be playing.

One Comment on “Base Classes

  1. I kind of like those wonkier classes. Oracle and Gunslinger in particular are two classes that present strategic/powergaming challenges but buy you some spiffy ways to do cool stuff. If I did something besides just picking minis when I choose classes after unplanned disintegration I probably would have chosen one of these just for the flavor. I guess this isn’t all that different from choosing an archetype that way.

    Really I kind of love the Gunslinger the most out of all of them (illustration notwithstanding). Tying your debuff ability to taking risks is great for people like me that don’t get overly attached to their characters. Christ, I’m not sure Sean’s ever played any other class.