A Modest Alternate Hybrid Class: The War-Locke
A Modest Alternate Hybrid Class: The War-Locke
So, what if we decided to use the bloodrager as the basis for an extensive archetype (*one that rose to the level of alternate class) to trade out sorcerer- and barbarian-like abilities in return for fighter-like abilities and retaining basic spellcasting? As a thought experiment, we’ll call this the war-locke. As with any archetype, we need to look at each swap-out individually, to make sure we don’t create a more powerful class. So we’ll look at what fighter class features we want to add, and what bloodrager features we need to lose to gain them. Let’s see if we can tack on all fighter abilities when they are gained for the fighter, as a starting point.
Skills. Bloodragers get 11 class skills. Fighters get 10. I think you can swap those lists with no increase in power, and obviously keep the 4 skill points/level.
Armor and weapon proficiencies. Bloodragers get light, medium, and shields other than tower shields, and can cast in light and medium. I think we’ll just leave that alone for our fighter-like archetype. If you want heavy armor, take the proficiency and deal with the ASF.
Fighters get bonus feats beginning at 1st, and have a total of 11 over 20 levels. Bloodragers get 5 bonus bloodline feats. We can also trade in fast movement, uncanny dodge, improved uncanny dodge, indomitable will, and tireless bloodrage to make the trade 11 feats for 10 feats & abilities at least some of which are provably better than equivalent feats. That looks like a fair trade.
Bravery is much maligned, but it’s not terrible. We don’t want to give up anything gained at the same level you first get bravery, but we can give up the 1st level bloodline power, which is at least as good, on average. As bravery increases, we can also give up the bloodline power gained at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 20th. That clearly covers the benefits of bravery.
Armor training comes in for the fighter the same time blood sanctuary does for the barbarian. That’s 1 better armor check penalty and max Dex to AC, AND movement at full speed in medium armor, compared to a untyped +2 bonus against saves cast by the PC or allies. +2 is nothing to sniff at though it’s only going to come up when allies peg you in an area… but then increased max Dex to AC isn’t always helpful. Still, that seems like armor training 1 is slightly better.
When armor training 2 comes in, the bloodrager gets a bloodline spell (we’ll handle DR separately, in a minute). A bonus 1st level spell is nice, but it’s not as good as full speed in heavy armor plus a reduced armor check and increased max Dex.
Armor training 3 stacks against greater bloodrage. Greater bloodrage is the clear winner here. So much so we can use that to cover armor training 4, as well.
That still leaves an imbalance at 4th and 7th. But if we decide we trade in the bloodline powers gained at 4th, and all bonus spells, that clearly makes up for any power gap.
Weapon mastery is offensive and so is rage, so let’s compare those two. The berserker ability for the viking fighter archetype tells us that weapon mastery 1, 2, 3, and 4 are as good as the ability to rage as a barbarian 3 levels lower. Since the bloodrager class has a bloodrage ability that is as good as barbarian rage, we can call that an even swap. So get rid of rage, and add weapon mastery.
Armor mastery vs barbarian DR is tricky, since so few archetypes remove it from the barbarian, or add it to the fighter. The savage barbarian replaces DR for an AC bonus when not wearing armor… but that archetype also has naked courage (which is clearly better than trap sense), which suggests that’s NOT an even swap. There isn’t a magic armor ability that gives you DR/–, though invulnerability does DR 5/magic (which is pretty good against monsters, but not humanoids) for a +3 cost, and adamantine full plate gives you DR 3/– for 15,000 gp (roughly the same cost as a +3 bonus laired onto existing +1 magic armor, though the stacking issue makes this murky). Still we can likely safely call that a wash and just sap them out.
Weapon mastery looks like a fair swap for mighty bloodrage.
We give up any ability to take bloodrage- or bloodline-related feats or abilities or prerequisites in trade for counting as a fighter for fighter-only feats and prerequisites.
So what does that leave us?
The war-locke, a class with all a fighter’s special abilities, almost as much armor, more skills, and 4 levels of casting. And Eschew Components. Perfectly balanced for Pathfinder. I’d even allow war-lockes to take fighter archetypes, as long as the archetype didn’t give up heavy armor or tower shield proficiency.
Feel free to swap the bloodrager spell list for magus (spell levels 1-4 only, obviously).
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