Incantricism Magic System

The Issue

With how the d20 system was designed, the dominant form of magic in Pathfinder involves spells per day per spell level. It’s a function system, even if the spells aren’t well balanced with each other. However, conventional spellcasting options can get kinda dull to play after a while, so, what does a player or gamemasters do when they want a fairly simple caster with a diverse range of options to pick from without the tedium of spells per day and spending a lot of time on spell selection? One can try a 3rd party supplement, but support for those can be kinda iffy and some GMs only approve of 3rd party supplements sparingly if at only, citing the potential balance issues of companies that er on the side of either caution or awesome a bit too much. In Pathfinder, there’s the Kineticist from the Occult Adventures supplement, but it’s a daunting class to master and even intimidating for some. There’s also the Words of Power casting system in the Ultimate Magic supplement. However, that system has balance issues and suffers from limited support(at some point, I might take on revising words of power, but for now, I’m leaving it alone). We also have Quinggong Monk & Unchained Monk, which can pick up certain spells as spell-like abilities. Unfortunately, that option isn’t available at low levels, the user will burn through magic too fast, the spell selection is very limited without GM fiat, and the flavor of the monk class doesn’t mesh well with most caster ideas. So, how does one get a magic-user without spells per day using 1rst party content?

 

The One Solution

The sad answer is, as far as I know, you really can’t without using at least some homebrew options. With that in mind, enter incantricism(all the good names were taken already), which is a homebrew mysticism system based on existing Paizo material so it’s an easier sell for players & GMs alike. Since incantricism uses first party material that actually has gotten support over the years, players don’t have to worry about having enough content and GMs can better assess what sort of balance to expect out of the system.

To build an incantrist character use simply follow these steps:

  • First, choose one NPC class to serve as the frame on which to mount the class features. This gives 4 to 5 different ways base directions to take an incantrist character. This of course includes adept, which gives a hybrid of incantricism and conventional casting.
    At the GM’s discretion, the adept spell list can be substituted for any other spell list that gains lv 0 to lv 5(or higher) spells. The casting type(arcane, divine, psychic, ect.) changes to match the chosen list. In terms of power, there really isn’t much difference between the spell lists when the class using only has a low base attack bonus and only goes up to 5th level spells per day. Even so, changing the list should still be a GM call, just like even using incantricism or any other 3rd party supplement.
  • Second, choose intelligence, wisdom, or charisma. Once this choice is made, it can not be changed. This is the incantrist’s key modifier and affects its ability save DCs & its point pool.
  • Third, give the class hexes as a witch of equal level, including access to stronger hexes at the appropriate levels. Do not gain any other witch class features. When selecting hexes, the incantrist can select any hex, including those that are part of witch archetypes.
  • Fourth, give the class the arcane reservoir and arcane exploits as an Arcanist of equal level, including access to stronger exploits at the appropriate levels. However, instead of using the standard 3 + 1/2 level point progress, instead gain key modifier + 1/2 level reservoir points. This still counts as an arcane reservoir pool for all purposes. Do not gain any other arcanist class features. When selecting exploits, the incantrist can select any exploit, including those that are part of  arcanist archetypes.
    The reason for the adjusted progression is to better keep the arcane reservoir in line with most other classes in relation to how ability scores are utilized for major class features and grants an additional way to increase the reservoir without investing feats
  • Finally, add the following options to the arcane reservoir;
    • May spend reservoir points in order to use a hexes that can only be used on a target once per day additional times on that target. Basic hexes cost 1 point, major hexes cost 2 points, and grand hexes cost 3 points.
    • May spend reservoir points to restore up to key mod time usage units of hexes that have a limited amount of time increments it can be used per day. Much like with healing, any excess units recovered beyond the maximum are lost.
    • May select metamagic feats & apply them to hexes and exploits, using the reservoir to pay for the costs of those feats.

To help balance these new expanded reservoir options & keep characters from blowing everything in 1 shot like they’re Akira Toriyama writing up a multiverse, a character may not spend more than 1 + 1/5 class levels reservoir points on any hex or exploit.

 

Dedicated Incantrist

Pure Incantrist: Commoner is typically a poor choice for a class frame, but with some simple upgrades enhancements to the incantrist system to the class itself, one can build an effective dedicated incantrist. Of course, this is the most homebrew of the options, but the improvements are relatively minor and intended to keep in line with the closest NPC class frame of reference, the adept.

  • increase the pure incantrist’s base will save bonus from low to high. This lets it be a real class.
  • increase the reservoir pool to key modifier + class level. This and the additional class skills(see next entry) help bridge the versatility & power gaps from not having 1rst level and higher spells
  • add spellcraft, all knowledge skills related to the supernatural(such as arcana & planes), and use magic device to the pure incantrist’s class skill list.
  • gain 3 level 0 spells of choice from any paizo spellcaster spell list or lists. These level 0 spells are treated as spell-like abilities, have a caster level equal to class level, and may be used at will. This gives the pure incantrist the limited utility of level 0 spells, which helps bridge the gap with adept.
  • replace all hexes & exploits in the class’s ability progression with class talents. A talent can be used to select either an exploit, a hex, or a metamagic feat. The character must meet the requirements for any feat, hex, or exploit selected. This allows for more customization without adding too much complexity to the class.

 

Favored Class Options

One of the most iconic parts of Pathfinder is the introduction of the favored class system & favored class options. As such, it’s only reasonable to include favored class options for incantrists. In keeping with the theme of sticking as closely to Paizo material as possible, these options are adapted from using existing favored class options from arcanist & other classes.

  • Dwarf – +1/4 lvs to effective level for determining an exploit’s strength.
  • Elf – +1/2 lvs reservoir points
  • Gnome – +1/3 lvs bonus to the save DCs of a single exploit or hex. No exploit or hex may receive more than a +2 bonus in this manner.
  • Half-elf – +1/2 lvs reservoir points
  • Half-orc – +1/4 lvs to effective level for determining a hex’s strength.
  • Halfling – +1/6 lvs witch hex
  • Human – +1/6 lvs arcane exploit

 

Incantrist Archetypes

It’s not long after a class is introduce that people start wanting variations of that class. As such, these 3 similar in structure but different in purpose archetype packages are included. The names are fairly descriptive of what they do.

Meta-cantrist: Do not gain the hexes at levels 10 & 20. Do not gain the exploits at lvs 5 & 15. Gain choice of either a hex or an exploit at level 1, instead getting one of each. At l

  • At level 1, gain metamagic flexibility. This functions as brawler’s martial flexibility but uses 1 point of arcane reservoir and grants access to metamagic feats instead of combat feats.
  • At level 5, the meta-cantrist can gain 2 metamagic feats at once, either gaining 2 as a move action or 1 as a swift. These feats can be used to meet the requirements of other metamagic feats obtained using metamagic flexibility. Each feat requires a point of arcane reservoir
  • At 10th level, a meta-cantrist can use this ability to gain the benefit of three metamagic feats at the same time and may select one feat as a free action, two feats as a swift action, or three feats as a move action.
  • At 15th level, a meta-cantrist can use this ability to gain the benefit of one metamagic feat as an immediate action or three feats as a swift action.
  • At 20th level, a meta-cantrist can use this ability to gain the benefit of any number of metamagic feats as a swift action.

Skill-prodigy: As meta-cantrist but gaining instances of the skill focus feat. This ability is referred to as skill flexibility. Additionally, the skill-prodigy may use any skill it has skill focus for untrained.

Warmaster: As meta-cantrist but gaining combat feats instead. Treat class level as brawler, fighter, & monk levels for purposes of qualifying for feats. This is called and treated as the martial flexibility class feature for all purposes.

 

Expanding the System

For some, this system, as proposed so far, doesn’t go far enough nor give a large enough set of options. As such, there are guidelines for increasing the selection of abilities without much power creep. Those wishing to expand the incantricism magic system in order to build a more robust & extensive magic system, may add wizard school powers and cleric domain powers to the list of options an incantrist can select.
Cleric domain powers are gained using hex slots while wizard school powers are gained using exploit slots. 1rst level powers are basic hexes and exploits respectively. Higher level powers are major hexes and greater exploits respectively.
Powers with a daily limit of time increments are treated as hexes would be, including being able to spend reservoir points to replenish depleted units. Powers with a daily usage limit of key ability modifier or higher may be used at will. Powers that are at will or continuous remain as such. Any other power costs 1 reservoir point per use, if it’s classified as a basic exploit or hex while powers classified as a greater exploit or major hex cost 2 points per use.

 

References

http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advancedClassGuide/classes/arcanist.html

http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advancedPlayersGuide/baseClasses/witch.html

http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/coreRulebook/nPCClasses.html

http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advancedClassGuide/classes/brawler.html

Supplemental Multiclassing

The Introduction

Let’s be pragmatic for a bit. Unless you’re going into a prestige class, multiclassing kinda sucks. One way or another, ability progressions just keep falling behind to the point where they just can’t keep up and become practically useless. A Pathfinder supplement, Pathfinder Unchained, attempted to address this issue by introducing the variant multiclassing system. It was a neat idea by overall poorly implemented because the different progressions were poorly balanced with each other. Unfortunately, even if you fix the imbalance with the variant multiclass system from Pathfinder unchained, the system lacks support for other Paizo classes & 3rd party class support. Sadly, there is no clear guideline for adding such material, so for those with access to a lot of supplements would have issues creating VMC progressions for the classes aren’t supported. As such, a more inclusive alternative to multiclassing & variant multiclasses is recommended. The Supplemental Multiclassing system was created with all that in mind.

The System

Lose: – Do not gain the character feats at 3, 7, 11, 15, & 19.
Gain: Select another class of your choice to be your supplemental class.
Treat 1/2 character level(round down, minimum 1) as your levels in the supplemental class for purposes of selecting abilities and all class level-related abilites, except save DCs.
Spells are cast with a caster level equal to 1/2 character level(round down, minimum 1) for purposes of all level dependent magic effects, except overcome spell resistance. Use full character level when rolling against spell resistance.

  • Lv 3: gain all the level 1 class features of the supplemental class except equipment proficiency, class skills, skill points, saving throws, base attack, level 0 spells, and hit dice.
  • Lv 5: At the character level 3 ability, but with level 2 class features of the supplemental class and no adjustment to class skills.
  • Lv 7: Gain level 3 class features of supplemental class
  • Lv 9: Gain level 4 class features of supplemental class
  • Lv 11: Gain level 5 class features of supplemental class
  • Lv 13: Gain level 6 class features of supplemental class
  • Lv 15: Gain level 7 class features of supplemental class
  • Lv 17: Gain level 8 class features of supplemental class
  • Lv 19: Gain level 9 class features of supplemental class
  • Lv 20: Gain level 10 class features of supplemental class

Special: Rather than gaining the level 1 character feat, the player may choose one of the following options from their chosen supplemental class:

  • Gain the equipment proficiency of the supplemental class
  • The level 0 spellcasting of a 1rst level character(caster level equals 1/2 character level, minimum 1),
  • Gain 3 class skills from the supplemental class become class skills for the character & the character gains 1 additional skill point per 2 levels(round down, minimum 0) that must be assigned to one of the character’s class skills. This skill can be used untrained at level 1.

Additionally, one may opt to trade a single character trait for 2 class skills from the supplemental class, a single level 0 spell(usable at will) from the spell list of the supplemental class, or 1 weapon proficiency from the supplemental class. This option can be used with 1 of the 2 traits gained using the extra traits feat. Regardless of how many traits a character has or gains, a second trait may not be used to select a second option.
Note: For some games, typically those with 4 or more characters, this option may be a bit too power. Depending on the group’s access to Pathfinder supplements that have character feats, supplemental multiclassing could either be very strong or well balanced. For groups with limited access to supplemental material, the WWiNS post about improving variant multiclassing would be a better alternative multiclassing option. https://wwinsblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/variant-multiclassing-revised/

Revamp of Power

The System

During the kickstarter campaign, Spheres of Power was proposed as a system that would allow players & GMs alike to build characters that wouldn’t run out of magic & could be highly customized. While overall a decent system with fantastic customization options & a system I am proud to have assisted in the development of, it hasn’t quite lived up to the potential. Certain parts of spheres of power have critical issues that keep the system as a whole from living up to one of its 2 main listed purposes being able to be able to do basic useful magic abilities at will(it most certainly succeeded at having many good customization options). Additionally, some of the spheres need a bit of tweak in the numbers part of their power scale and there are a few other odds & ends that need a little bit of work.

The Recommended Adjustments

System-killer: Concentration
The biggest issue at hand is the base powers that require concentration to function, as that consumes a standard action thus making some of the concentration for free usage options utterly worthless, because you’re spending your action to maintain the ability & can’t do anything else except move. That means that your character must do that effect for someone else’s benefits, which limits it to something more fitting for NPCs.

  • For the minor offenders, eating the standard action isn’t a bad deal as you’re actively accomplishing something with that action. Minor offenders include Conjuration, Nature, & Telekinesis.
  • For the major offenders, that standard action makes. Major offenders include; Alteration, Creation, Dark, Enhancement, Protection, Time, & War

An easy solution is to just allow a character to maintain 1 effect with a duration of concentration for free with additional effects requiring the normal action usage for that effect to maintain. This does not have any affect on effect activation times.
For consistency, add a lingering talent to every sphere with a concentration duration effect. These talents should stack with any other abilities that increase the duration of effects after concentration has ceased. For example, Shifter’s Lingering Transformation class feature & Lingering Alteration would increase the duration of alteration effects after concentration has ended to 2 + 1/2 shifter level.

Weak Numbers Issue
Some effects give numeric benefits that scale at a very slow rate to the point where only dedicated casters really benefit much from them and even then typically aren’t worth using over certain other effects. I genuinely don’t remember how or why that ended up that way, but as one of the main people giving feedback on the backer forums during development, I’m probably at least partly to blame. As such, I definitely want to make sure that issue gets addressed adequately.
Enhancement & protection seem to be major offenders in this case, but war & alteration suffer a bit as well. Replacing +⅕ lvs scaling with +¼ lvs will typically suffice for most such abilities.
Due to the size adjustment caps for the size change option in alteration, adjust the scaling for that talent is not necessary and due to the power of the size changes modification to the scaling rate is not recommended.

Special Cases: Divination & Light/Dark
Divination is an especially weird case because its base effect is an enhanced version of detect magic that takes 10 minutes to utilize instead of the normal 3 rounds of detect magic, but covers a larger area. That high of a casting time for such a low-end effect. I’d knock it down to 1 minute instead.
Light & Dark are just unimpressive on their own for their base effect options. A simply fix is to combine them into 1 sphere. From there, add a “pick light or dark & only be able to use that category” option for players who want to play light or dark only casters. For naming sake, “Illumination” works.

Spellcrafting: A Slight Flaw
Spellcrafting conceptually is kinda neat, building special effects, but its execution suffers greatly due to implementation. The more complex the effect, the more impractical it is to use, which highly limits the option to the point of being potentially worthless inside combat. As such, it necessary to include the option to reduce the time unit adjustment by 1 step per additional spell point spent on using the spell.

SoP & Standard: Gap-bridging
Even with these improvements, Spheres of Power is a behind standard pathfinder spellcasting & abilities balanced towards standard casting, due to the sheer versatility, power, & amount of conventional spells on can have. As such, the magical traditions and advanced magic options for spheres of power are pretty much a must-have in games that also possess traditional spellcasting &/or abilities of comparable power, such as Path of War or Psionics(both by Dreamscarred Press).
Advanced magic will add more conventional effects to spheres of power, while magic traditions will add flavor, as well as usually some weaknesses to the Spheres of Power casting itself, in order to keep the the power balance from shifting towards spheres of power being too good, as well since Spheres of Power effects have a scaling save DC & have the drawbacks of spell-like abilities instead of normal spellcasting drawbacks.
Additionally, as an option to be competitive in the versatility & interesting abilities front, access to spellcrafting &/or rituals should be a boon options for building casting traditions. A simple example of a casting tradition with spellcrafting integrated would be;

Esoteric: drawbacks(verbal, somatic), boon(spellcrafting)

In the above example, spellcrafting could be substituted for ritual magic, of course. Of course, you could modify any other existing spheres of power casting tradition and replace 1 or 2 boons for spellcrafting &/or ritual magic in order to create new traditions.

 

Conclusion
It is my hope that these recommended changes adequately address the issues of the Spheres of Power System and will have an overall positive effect on the spheres of power experience for both players & GMs.
If you like spheres of power, either with my suggested adjustments or as it normally is, please consider following Drop Dead Studios, the company behind Spheres of Power & the upcoming Spheres of Might, on social media and buy any DDS products you might like.

 

Just the Changes Without the Fluff-text

  • Concentration – may maintain 1 sphere effect with a duration of concentration as a free action. Additional effects require the appropriate actions as normal. This does not affect activation times for effects
  • Scaling Bonuses – almost any effect that has a +1/5 caster levels scale should instead scale at +1/4 caster levels. The main exception to this change is the size change ability in the alteration sphere.
  • Reduce Divination’s casting time from 10 minutes to 1 minute.
  • Combine light & dark into 1 sphere & add a sphere-specific drawback for only being able to do just 1 of those 2. Dub the new sphere “Illumination.”
  • If using standard pathfinder spellcasting or similar powered abilities along with Spheres of Power, use advanced magic & casting traditions to better balance Spheres of Power with those options.
    Additionally, add Spellcrafting & Ritual Magic as boon options, as well as being feat options.
  • Allow one to spend spell points to reduce casting time for spellcrafted effects by 1 time unit step per point.

 

Spheres of Power SRD References

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/variant-magic-rules/spheres-of-power/using-the-spheres/
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/variant-magic-rules/spheres-of-power/
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/variant-magic-rules/spheres-of-power/spellcrafting/
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/variant-magic-rules/spheres-of-power/casting-traditions/

Variant Multiclassing Revised

Pathfinder Unchained introduced a novel alternative to multiclassing that involved trading character feats at certain levels in order to gain some of the benefits. While overall decent in concept & execution, there were some missteps that produced some rather lackluster options & ones that pretty much no one would end up using. Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge, the system doesn’t seem likely to get any updates for new classes.

As such, I am going take a stab at improving on the system and make it a little more viable. Additionally, I will try to add new content. As I get new source materials, I may try to expand on the system a bit.

To start, lets look at what actually worked & why;

Barbarian: It gets the iconic ability at a reduced usage limit & overall capability while gaining some of the key class features

Bard: Like the barbarian gains an iconic ability gets a reduced version of the signature ability as well as some other noteworthy class features

Cavalier: Gets enough fitting abilities at a reasonable progression. Not much to say here.

Cleric: This pretty much gets everything of the class in a reduced capacity except the actual spellcasting, so you really get some of the flavor of the servant of the divine even without the spellcasting.

Fighter: This one is pretty decent, providing you can use archetypes & class feature variants with it. Otherwise, it’s a bit niche, much like the abilities it grants.

Inquisitor: Another example of getting overall decent abilities at a reasonable progression.

Oracle: This one has sensible abilities & overall decent progression. A much better example of how to get cantrips/orisons than wizard or witch. I would increase the orison known to 2 at lv 11 since upscaling the curse benefits a little may not necessarily be enough.

Ranger: Gains all the basics of being a ranger without stepping on the class’s toes too much

Sorcerer: Gets the iconic bloodline abilities at a reduced capacity. It’s reasonably balanced & very thematically appropriate

What doesn’t work, what needs work, why, & what to do;

Alchemist: Everything is pretty decent with abilities at reasonable progressions & levels with one noteworthy exception. The swift poisoning ability is entirely too late in the game to matter & poisons are kind of niche as well. I would replace that ability with an alchemist discovery to better keep in line with the alchemy theme.

Druid: The only real issue here is gaining an animal companion at full levels & wild shape so late in the progression. It seems minor but it has a major impact on getting the flavor of the druid. As such, I would just swap when it gets improved animal companion & wild shape.

Gunslinger: Ah, where to begin with this. 3/5 of this are feats you could just pick up on your own & they’re all at the front end of the progression. As such, serious revision is necessary. To start, it should gain firearms proficiency and the gunsmithing feat(or a starter firearm as per the gunsling class feature if in an era where guns are very common). At lv 7, gain a grit pool of 2 points & a single lv 1 gunslinger deed. At lv 11, gain a lv 3 gunslinger deed. At lv 15, gain a lv 7 gunslinger deed. At lv 19, gain a lv 11 gunslinger deed.

Magus: This is overall decent until the Spellstrike feature. Not only does this require you to have some spellcasting(unlike every other ability) but it is limited specifically to the magus spell list. I would remove that limit, but require 1 specific list be chosen upon gaining the ability. Additionally, if one does not have spellcasting, they should be able to select an arcana instead.

Monk: The unarmed strike is great, but all of the abilities progression is wonky. Ki pool comes too late to matter & extremely late for ki feats. The AC bonus is also extremely late. To better balance this out, this would require a bit if it is to be viable outside of a few niche builds.
First, we should adjust the unarmed progression & gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC while unarmored. The unarmed damage should start at 1d4(medium) & increase by 1 step for every 6 character levels(d6, d8, & d10). At lv 7, gain the ki pool as written & an additional +1 dodge to AC. At lv 11, gain evasion. At lv 15, increase the dodge bonus to +5. At 19, gain improved evasion.

Paladin: This is another “what were they thinking?!” ability progression setup. At lv 1, it should gain the code & detect evil(since it must adhere to the paladin code). At lv 3, it should gain the Smite Evil at the diminished rate. Lv 7’s lay on hands is fine. At lv 11, it should get the mercy. At lv 15, it should get divine bond. Finally, at lv 19, it should get another mercy(up to 6th lv).

Rogue: Similar to Ranger, there are no major complaints about the progression of abilities. However, if I were to make any change, I’d push uncanny dodge to lv 19 & evasion to lv 15 in order to give it a rogue talent at lv 11 so that it can actually rogue a little.

Summoner: The summon monster ability has too few uses in the day after reducing the duration. I would increase the per day usage to 3 and increase the per day usage to 3 + cha mod at lv 11. Everything else is fine.

Witch: In addition to the familiar, it should get 1 prepared cantrip & 3 cantrips known. At lv 11, the amount of cantrips it can prepare should increase to 3 & the number of cantrips known increase by int mod.
More importantly, the hex scaling is total garbage. If they are to be limited, they should function at a witch level equal to character lv -5.

Wizard: Wizard has the same issue as witch when it comes to the familiar & cantrip situation. As such, make the same improvement.

Something New

Ninja: As rogue but replace trapfinding with poison use and evasion with ki pool.

Psionics: At lv 3, choose a psionic power that gains access to psionic talents. Gain 1 power point & a single lv 0 power from that list with a manifester lv equal to character lv. The list determines manifesting ability score options. At lv 7, gain a 1rst lv power & an additional 2 power points. At lv 11, gain a 2nd lv power & 4 additional power points. At lv 15, gain a 3rd lv power & 6 additional power points. At lv 19, gain a 4th lv power & 8 additional power points.

Spellcasting: At lv 3, select a spell list that gets 0 lv spells & at up to 4h lv spells or higher. The list determines whether the casting is arcane, divine, or psychic as well as casting stat options. Gain two lv 0 effects from the list with a caster lv equal to character lv. At lv 7, gain 2 first lv effects from the list. They can be used a combined total of once per day. At lv 11, as lv 7, but 2nd lv. At lv 15, as lv 7, but 3rd lv. At lv 19, as lv 7, but 4th lv.

Swashbuckler: At lv 3, gain the charmed life ability of the swashbuckler at character lv -1. At lv 7, gain a panache of 2 points & a single lv 1 deed. At lv 11, gain a lv 3 swashbuckler deed. At lv 15, gain a lv 7 swashbuckler deed. At lv 19, gain a lv 11 swashbuckler deed.

Archetypes Reincarnated

Before there were hybrid classes and countless archetypes for base classes, one of the more interesting customization options for a character was to use an archetype from the 4 part Genius Guide archetype series by Owen KC Stephens, a major & highly respected force in the d20 RPGs community, especially Pathfinder. Unfortunately, due in part to release in the very early days of Pathfinder, they were a bit wonky, often creating dead levels, and were a tad imbalanced in the “loss vs gain” department. Many archetypes leaned heavily towards being extremely conservative on power by the standards of the era, especially when comparing archetypes that filled a certain niche that a class already could do, such as archetype for doing witch hexes.

Nevertheless, many people, myself included, still found them to be interesting and some of the archetype packages to this day cover ideas that either have not been found or not been done as well in other classes or archetypes. As more classes & feats have come since then & the power scale of the game has changed drastically, the system hasn’t aged well. So, I figure why try my hand at overhauling the overall archetypes system & modify some of the archetypes? Other than the potential rage of a thousand angry gamer fanboys incinerating the earth, it can’t hurt to take a stab at it, right?

For this end, we first need to start with what’s lost in the classes and address balance it to where each class loses a comparable amount of ability when gaining an archetype. The easiest way to handle the class archetypes imbalance is to give each class 2 archetype packages it can trade & adjust or label the archetype packages acquired to match. A major and minor archetype system would make balance easier. If each class has a major & minor archetype, then you can put the universal archetype packages into the appropriate category. From there, a few tweaks to those universal archetype packages as needed and add a little something extra to hold it all together in order to produce something that’s in theory playable 1-20 without being too strong or weak.

 

Revised Class Packages

*Alchemist: nothing to change here. Grenadier is the minor & Mad Chymist is the major.

*Barbarian(core/unchained): originally, this lost the entirety of rage & rage powers, which accounts for roughly 3/5 to 2/3 of the class’s abilities. For the unchained barbarian, this is more like 7/10 to 3/4. It’s disproportionately the highest loss of any of the archetypes. As such this one really requires going into in a bit more depth than the others.
For the minor one, the amount of rage rounds per day should be reduced to Con Mod + 1 +1/lv and gain rage powers every 3 lvs(3, 6, 9, ect.). Barbarian would maintain it’s iconic ability & have no dead levels while taking away emphasis from the Rage ability. Furthermore, one could still use variant forms of rage & even some archetypes that trade away 1 more rage powers.
The major archetype package trades fast movement, uncanny dodge, improved uncanny dodge, trapsense(danger sense for unchained barbarian), and damage reduction.
Special: If you choose an archetype package that grants spellcasting, you may opt to halve your base rage bonuses(but not penalties) in order to be able to cast spells while in rage. Increases to rage, such from the greater rage class feature, improve rage by value of the increase from the normal base rather than increasing rage to the listed value. For example, greater rage increases rage to +6 str & con and +3 will saves. Since the base for normal rage is +4 str & con and +2 will saves, the increase for greater rage would be +2 str & con and +1 will saves.

*Bard: Major is Spellsinger. Minor is Performer

*Cavalier: Knight is minor and Horseman is major

*Cleric: This one is tricky to come up with a second archetype for. Spellcasting is such a major part of this class & channel energy is not good enough to be its own archetype by itself. However, since spellcasting is a major part of the class, diminishing that has a major impact.
Major: reduce spellcasting progression to match the spells per day & maximum spell level for the magus class.
Minor: lose domains including bonus domain spell slot

*Druid: Major is clearly the original Beastlord package. For a minor package, nature bond, nature sense, & resist nature’s lure

*Fighter(core/unchained): Since the class only gets 1 feature at lv 1(or 2 with Pathfinder Unchained’s additional of Combat Stamina as an automatic addition to the fighter), this was somewhat difficult to work with at a glance, but with some thought it really wasn’t that back.
Major: Battle Master with the added loss of Weapon Mastery at lv 20.
Minor: lose medium & heavy armor proficiency, tower proficiency, armor training, and armor mastery

*Gunslinger: This one is quite difficult to break down into a major & minor package because of how little the class gets due to being balanced in respect to fighter. Of course, as with fighter, difficult isn’t going to stop us from devising something that’ll work.
Major: only gain 1 deed of your choice at lvs 1, 3, 7, 11, 15, & 19
Minor: reduce fort save to low & do not gain the nimble class feature

*Inquisitor: Major is Magister. Minor is Executioner

*Magus: This is also a difficult one to break down into a major & minor package because of how much is tied into arcana and spellcasting. The spellcasting addons push the casting beyond a major archetype and the arcane pool abilities account for a significant portion of the class’s power as well.
However, a solution isn’t completely impossible. As with gunslinger, we will water down the abilities enough to make the exchange balanced enough.
Major reduces the spellcasting ability of the magus to only gaining cantrips at lv 1, being able to prepare a lv 0 spell at lv 1 & an additional lv 0 spell at lvs 2 & 3. At lv 4, the magus gains spells per day & max spell level equal to a ranger & int mod + 1 spells known. At lv 5 and every level after, the magus gains an additional spell known. The magus still selects spells from the magus spell list and key stat as normal.
Minor reduces arcane pool to 1/3 level(round down, minimum 0) + int mod and remove the magus arcana talents at lvs 3, 9, & 15.

*Monk(core/unchained): The original one needs some serious revision to make 2 decent archetypes. Major package includes Stunning fist, Ki Pool, and all ki abilities. Minor includes all of the monk bonus feats.

*NPC Classes: Because they generally lack class features, NPC classes have up to 1 major or 2 minor archetype packages. The exception to this is the commoner, which can’t have nice things otherwise it’s just not a commoner 😉
This is more of a way to just quickly moderately strong NPC. If you want to make a full class out of an NPC class, you can instead add 2 major sets or 1 major & 2 minor sets to the NPC class and typically make something reasonably balanced for the game.
EDIT: If using 2 minor archetypes & 1 major, offset the level of the 2nd minor archetype by 2 levels to even out progression rates & improve balance. If using 2 major archetypes, adjust the progression of the second archetype by 1 level. Such builds will have many perks and not be quite as strong as a normal class but should make for interesting NPCs.

*Oracle: Major is Mystic package. Minor gains 1 less spell per day & spell known per spell level.

*Paladin: Major archetype is Avenger. Minor package is Divine Guardian

*Ranger: The Scout package is the major archetype. Modify it to also drop the abilities that revolve around favored terrain & favored enemy abilities, such as camouflage & quarry. Also, it does not lose Hunter’s bond, which is limited to animal companion & may be traded out for another ability as normal for applying multiple archetypes to a class.
The minor package is Woodland Spellcaster except that it gets to keep wild empathy as the skill points make up for most low level minor archetype abilities.

*Rogue(core/unchained): Major package is Trapfinding, 2 skill points a level, as well as altering the rogue talent progression to a talent at lvs 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, & 18. At lv 12 gain access to advanced talents.
Minor is the sneak package as written.

*Sorcerer: Major is bloodline. Minor is 1 less spell per day & spell known per spell level.
The reason for diminishing overall spells per day instead of going the full drop in max spell level like cleric is a lack of base attack to back it up & the bloodline ability is overall more powerful/important than cleric’s domains.

*Summoner: Major is the Augmenter package which now includes cantrips for consistency. Minor is the Eidolon

*Swashbuckler: One would think that like gunslinger this would be hard to work with but it’s actually got a lot better material to work with overall, so it’s a bit easier. It’s also so different from gunslinger that it’s the only hybrid class I can justify doing archetype stuff for.
Major: only gain 1 deed of your choice at lvs 1, 3, 7, 11, 15, & 19
Minor: Do not gain nimble & swashbuckler’s finesse class features. Reduce skill points by 2/lv

*Witch: Major is hexen. Minor is reducing spells per day by 1 per spell level and spells known by 1 per class level

*Wizard: Major is Arcane Master package. Minor is reducing spells per day by 1 per spell level and spells known by 1 per class level

Sidenote: One can swap a major class package for a minor archetype package but not a minor archetype for a major class package.
One may not swap minor class packages for the minor class package of another class. The same applies to major packages. However, one can swap a major class package for a minor class package as a lower powered alternative to using hybrid classes in games. This is to help maintain a bit of fairness of the overall system while still allowing for a diverse range of class builds.

 

Revised Archetype Packages


Arcane Archetypes

*Acolyte(minor): no changes

*Hedge Wizard(minor): Increase bonus spells known to 1 at lv 5 and every level after. Change Bypass Gestures to be armored mage light at lv 1, which increases to medium at lv 8 and to heavy at lv 16. Increase Power Boost’s caster level increase to +2 at lv 8 and +3 at lv 16.

*Initiate(minor): no changes.

*Minstrel(minor): no changes

*Pact Scion(major): At level 1, choose between the additional GP cost and the nonlethal damage drawback to be your drawback rather than having both. Remove the non-caster restriction
While conjuration is extremely useful having both drawbacks was a bit too much of a hindrance, one that the warder & wise didn’t have to contend with despite those being almost as powerful.

*Shadow Master(major): no changes

*Sigil Mage(minor): no changes

*Spellblaze(minor): From lv 4 on, make spellblaze usable at will instead of per day so it will be competitive to more utilitarian options, such as spellcasting, one could be taking instead

*Warder(marjor): Remove class list limit since abjuration is a big enough & more important limit. Since there aren’t many abjuration lv 0 spells, add universal spells to the list of 0 level spells the warder may choose from. Remove the non-caster restriction

Archer Archetypes

*Archer Alchemist(minor):. no changes
EDIT: looking it over more, move the alchemical shot ability to lv 3 & bag of tricks to lv 7 in order to even out the progression rate of abilities & improve archetype balance.

*Sharpshooter(minor): no changes

*Spellbow(minor): Remove spellcasting requirement & possibly rename it to kinetic bow. The reason is that there really just isn’t enough to it that justifies any actual spellcasting ability. Adjust the bonus enchantments to be gained lvs 3, 7, 11, 15, & 19 instead of the original progression. This helps fix dead level issues & boosts the usability just a sliver

*Tempest(major): no changes

*Zen Archer(major): no change

Divine Archetypes

*Chantry(minor): no changes

*Exorcist(major): add in being able to purge pact magic spirits(Pact Magic Unbound) & similar bonds as well as driving out possessing entities upon a failed save.
This helps make the exorcism more fitting of the name & updates it to add in some new options to combat things that either didn’t exist or were kinda rare.

*Heretic(minor): no changes

*Gnostic(varies): major for classes that get 9th level spells. minor for other casters.

*Martyr(minor): no changes

*Wise(major): Remove the non-caster restriction

*Witness(minor): no changes

Martial Archetypes

*Blacksnake/Cloakfighter(major): no changes

*Harrier(minor): no changes

*Physical Exemplar(minor): no changes

*Spellhammer(minor): no changes

*Weapon Champion(major): no changes

*Youxia: major. This is one of the most wonky of the archetypes since it has many talent slots but only slightly more talents than that to pick from. By the mid teens, all youxia end up looking kinda samey.
As such, add ki feats & the qinggong monk ki powers to the list of feats talents available to the youxia. A youxia treats its class levels as monk levels for selecting qinggong powers. Arcane arts & meta-ki may be used with quiggong spell-like abilities as if they were spells, however, a youxia may not spend more ki points total on a spell-like ability than half its class level(round down, minimum 1).
Additionally, the youxia may utilize effects with a range of touch or that require an unarmed strike attack through a wushu weapon.
Finally, to help balance things a bit, reduce ki talents to 1 at lvs 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, & 20.

 

Empty Level Filler: Perks

While overall mechanically sound enough in theory, one will still end up with dead levels when what’s gained doesn’t give things at all of the same levels as what’s been lost. Whenever that occurs in the final class build, after all archetypes & variants have been applied, you may fill these empty levels in with one of the following minor abilities, referred to as perks, per empty level. Since perks are fairly niche in their applications & one likely won’t end up with a lot of them, they shouldn’t have any significant detriment to build balance.

*+2 bonus to a class skill of your choice
*gain lv squared x 10 GP in mundane items, including alchemical items and costly spell components. If you can produce equipment, this may instead be used to acquire magical gear
*+3 bonus to a specific subcategory of a skill, such as acrobatics to balance or bluff to pass a secret message. Some skills do not have subcategories of abilities. If the skill is a class skill, increase the bonus to +4
*Add 1 skill to your list of class skills
*+1 to ability checks with a single ability score
*+1 bonus to a single saving throw(fort, ref, will). The saving throw must be a low save for the class
*+2 bonus to saves vs a specific category of effect such as fear or poison
*+5ft speed when running, charging, or using the withdrawal action
*+1 bonus to damage rolls with a single weapon you are proficient with
*Reduce armor check penalty by 1
*Reduce non-proficiency penalties for 1 fighter weapon group by 1. If a weapon group’s non-proficiency penalty is reduced to 0, the character gains proficiency with entire weapon group.
*+1 spell known of up to the second highest level you can cast(minimum lv 0 spells)
*+1 caster level for 1 sub-school of spells, such as conjuration(healing) or evocation(fire)
*+1 to caster level to overcome spell resistance

For purposes of determining a empty level, do not count base attack, skill points, saves, spells known, spells per day increase for any level other than highest spell lv, or any ability that is worth less than a single perk at that level. Due to usefulness, levels with a spells per day increase of the highest available spell do not count as an empty level.
These perks may be taken multiple times & stack. You also may select different things to apply a perk category to, such as different weapons for the bonus damage option or different skills for the skill bonus.
Ideally, a final class build should not have more than 5 perks but that may possible depending on the combination.

 

BONUS: Additional Archetype Options

Now that the genius guide archetypes have been addressed, we can add in a few more packages to increase the variety and cover options that didn’t exist or weren’t well known at the time. Also will cover some 3rd party options. Options that will be addressed are pact magic from Pact Magic Unbound, psionics from Ultimate Psionics, martial maneuvers from Path of War, psychic magic from Occult Adventures, spherecasting from Spheres of Power, and martial flexibility from the brawler hybrid class. When possible, there will be major and minor options for each archetype category.

Pact Magic
Major: Gain the ability of the pact magic occultist class to bind spirits and knows 1 spirit per class level but does not gain the ability to bind additional spirits or any other feature of the pact magic occultist. At lvs 8 & 16, gain a binder secret you meet the requirements for. Treat your class level as your occultist level.
Minor: As the warshade’s pact magic ability and knows of 1 spirit per spirit level. Does not gain any other class feature of the warshade. At lvs 8 & 16, gain a bonus pact magic feat you meet the requirements for.

Psionic Powers
Class counts as a psionic class for purposes of using racial favored class options for psionic classes.
Major: Choose a power list that goes up to 6th lv powers. Gain power points as a psychic warrior and a 1rst lv power known & 1 psionic talent at lv 1. At lv 4 every 4 levels, gain access to power level and an additional power known up to the highest power level you can access(up to 6 powers known & lv 6 powers at lv 20). Intelligence is the key modifier for these powers.
Minor: Choose a power list. Gain a single power point and 2 psionic talents(equivalent to 0 lv spells). At lv 3, gain psionics as a Gifted Blade with the addition of the single power point gained at lv 1 to the total power points the class gains. Charisma is the key modifier for these powers.

Psychic Magic
Your chosen list determines your key modifier. Use the modifier of the class whose list you’ve select as your key modifier.
Major: Choose a psychic class spell list that goes up to at least 6th lv spells. Gain spells per day as an adept. For levels that would have 0 spells per day, you may only cast spells of that level if you possess a high enough ability score to gain bonus spells per day for that spell level. Your 0 lv spells known equals your spells 0 lv spells per day. Your first lv & second lv spells known equal a bard’s. For spell lvs 3-5, use the bard’s spells known adjusted for when the spell level is actually gained. For example, at lv 8, you would gain access to 3rd level spells, so start with the spells known  of when the bard first knows 3rd lv spells and advance your spells known from there for that spell level. So, at lv 8, you would have the 3rd lv spells known as a 7th lv bard & at lv 20, the 3rd lv spells known of a 19th lv bard.
Minor: Choose a psychic class spell list that gets lv 0 spells and goes up to at least lv 4 spells. At lv 1, you know a single lv 0 spell of that list & may use it at will. At lvs 2 & 3, you gain another 0 lv spell. From lv 4 onward, you gain the spells known & spells per day of a bloodrager equal to your level but using spells from your chosen list.

Spherecasting Magic
Choose a spellcasting ability score from intelligent, wisdom, or charisma. You gain a spellpool equal to your casting modifier plus class level.
Major:  Your caster level equals 3/4 your class level(minimum 1). You gain 1 + 1 per 2 class levels(round down, minimum 0). If this is your first level in a spherecasting class, you gain an additional 2 talents.
Minor: You gain 1 sphere or talent per 2 class levels(round down, minimum 0). Your caster level equals 1/2 your class level. If this is your first level in a spherecasting class, you gain an additional talent.
Special: Gaining a sphere talent does count as gaining an ability for determining if a level is empty or not.

Martial Maneuvers
Gain martial lore as a class skill
Major: Choose 3 styles to pick from & the style skills as class skills.Gain maneuvers known & readied as well as stances known chosen from those styles using the general archetype progression listed in the Path of War expansion book. Your initiator level equals your class lv.
Minor: Gain the combat training trait with an initiator level of 3/4 lv(minimum 1). This bonus trait does not count against your total number of traits or limits for how many times you can select traits from a particular category At lv 3, gain the benefits of the martial training I feat, except that your initiator level equals 3/4 your class lv, your maneuver gained from the combat training trait is added to your total maneuvers known, recover 1 maneuver as a standard action & 2 maneuvers as a full-round action, and you may ready an additional maneuver(so, three 1rst lv maneuvers known & 2 readied through the trait & feat). The style from combat training & martial training must be the same.
At lvs 7, 11, & 15, gain the benefits of the martial training II, martial training III, martial training IV feats in that order. You do not need to meet the requirements for the martial training feats gained through this archetype. If you select a martial training feat you meet the requirements for before you would gain it in the class progression, you gain the next feat in the tree when you would’ve originally gained the feat.
Note: Originally, I had planned to make the minor archetype just the martial training I through VI feats at appropriate(early & delayed) levels, but that ended up being far frp, near enough of a power gap from the major option for my tastes & typically way too powerful for what you gave up. So, I reduced it to the trait & 4 of the 6 feats to improve power balance. It holds an interesting distinction for being an archetype that can be greatly enhanced by selecting the additional feats in the tree. This is a bit of a compromise on what I originally wanted and what should be gained, while still maintaining reasonable levels of system balance.

Martial Flexibility
At first glance this ability seemed like a major ability with all the feat combos & options, but in practice it’s really no better than low-grade casting due to its usage limit & restrictions of combat feats. As such, it is classified as a minor package. The fact that one could have a variation of it through a fighter archetype that only trades part of the fighter’s major archetype package helped with this decision a bit, too.
Minor: Gain martial training as a brawler, except that the lv 6 improvement is gained at lv 5 & the lv 12 improvement is gained at lv 15.

Martial Artist
Many people want a little bit of monk in their build but not the full-blown monk, such as a rogue assassin type who can go into a place where weapons & armor aren’t allowed and kill a target without having to be a full blown monk or brawler type. Another example is someone one might want to make a gentlemen boxer type, which really doesn’t suit the feel of monk or brawler, so they would take this and apply it to fighter instead.
Minor: Gain wisdom modifier as a dodge bonus to AC while wearing no armor & carrying no more than a light load. At lv 4 & every 4 lvs after, increase dodge bonus by +1. Additionally, gain unarmed strike of a monk equal to half your level(1d4 at lv 1, 1d6 at lv 2, 1d8 at lv 8, 1d10 at lv 16). This does not include the monk’s ki strike class feature.
After running tests, this ended up surprisingly appropriate for a minor package. If one wanted a major version, I guess they could have the AC bonus & unarmed strike be identical to monk & give it the ki strike abilities including a ki pool with the AC boost & extra attack options from monk. It’s not really a niche I’d go that far for honestly.
EDIT: Thinking about it, a more practical major archetype would be unarmed strike of a monk at lv 1 and increasing it at lvs 6, 12, & 18(but a d12 instead of 2d6 cause no one uses a d12) and add in style monk’s style strikes at lvs 5, 9, 13, & 17, spending a ki point to do the attack instead of making it part of a flurry. This would let someone do the attack as a standard action but would also limit the usability of such attacks in general so they won’t get spammed all the time either.