Category Archives: Pathfinder Development

Song of Doom Goom

Inspired by a neural network’s effort to name rpg spells, I present:

Song of Doom Goom
School conjuration, enchantment* (compulsion) [fear, mind-affecting, sonic]; Level bard 3
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets 1 creature/level (no two of which may be more than 30 feet apart)
Duration 1 minute/level
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes

This spell causes foes to form sticky, disgusting “goom” over their ears. All sounds the creature then hears for the duration of the spell are altered to sounds like signs the creature is doomed. Affected creatures are shaken, cannot benefit from competency, insight, or morale bonuses, cannot aid another or benefit from aid another, cannot flank or benefit from another creature’s flanking, and cannot use teamwork feats, or help other creatures benefit from teamwork feats (even if those creatures can benefit when using teamwork feats with a creature that lacks the feat).

If an affected creatures is adjacent to an affected foe of the caster, the adjacent creature must make a will save (at the same DC), or the goom leaps over to affect the new foe as well (for the rest of the spell’s duration).

*This spell counts as a conjuration spell or enchantment spell, whichever is more advantageous to the caster, or less advantageous to the target. In either case, it counts as a (compulsion) [fear, mind-affecting, sonic] spell.

Speaking of Links

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SpellTweet: Entropic Block

(Spelltweets originally got posted only to Twtitter, and the whole point is that they defined a spell in 140 characters or less, generally by modifying an existing spell. Now they’re more likely to appear here and be linked to Twitter, but sometimes I prefer to keep the character limit as a design challenge.)

Entropic Block (cl/inq 1) As entropic shield, but the miss chance is 15% and it only applies to melee attacks.

Introducing the Spell-Fist

A Pathfinder-compatible multiclass character concept. Definitely NOT a “classic” multiclass combo, but if the number of people I see playing monks with wands is any indication (and yes, I know it isn’t), this is a popular concept. Maybe you are from a post-apocalyptic future and have a martial art style named after a constellation. Maybe a monkey taught you to fight and do magic tricks. Maybe you punched a dragon in the heart while training. Who knows? You’re a spell-fist now.

Begin with Unchained Monk.

Your monk level counts as your sorcerer level for any prerequisites. Any monk class feature (or feat with special rules for monks) that makes calculations using Wisdom, instead use Charisma. Your base attack bonus uses the normal monk chart, rather than the unchained monk chart.

Force of Ki: When unarmed and unencumbered, you may use your Charisma modifier in place of your Dexterity modifier for any calculation that normally uses Dexterity, including your AC, Initiative Bonus, and ranged attack rolls. Additionally, when unarmored and unencumbered, you gain a +1 bonus to your AC, Initiative, and CMB and CMD at 4th level, and every 4 levels thereafter.

This replaces the normal monk AC bonus.

Spells: You have spells known and spells per day as a bard of the same level, but you draw these spells from the sorcerer spell list. This replaces the bonus feat gained at 1st level, 2nd level, and every 4 levels thereafter and flurry of blows.

Spell-Fist: At 2nd level when you use Stunning Blow, you may replace the stunning effect with a spell with a casting time of 1 standard action or less. This spell must affect an area or one of more targets, and deal damage, require an attack roll, or force targets to make a saving throw. This spell affects only the target of your stunning first. Casting this spell does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If it is a melee touch spell, if your attack misses you retain the charge and may add it to the next unarmed strike your hit with, as long as you take no action beforehand that would cause you to lose the charge.

You do not gain the ability to add other effects to your stunning fist beginning at 4th level.

This ability modifies Stunning Fist.

Ki Pool: At 3rd level you can spend 1 ki to gain one additional attack when you take a full attack action, even if you are not using flurry of blows. This ability modified ki pool.

Flurry of Blows: At 10th level you gain flurry of blows, but treat your monk level as your spell-fist level -9.

Speaking of Cool Stuff!

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Return of the Cleric/Fighter/Magic-User!

When I get on a “old-school multiclass concepts for Pathfinder” kick I generally do several in a row as ideas rattle around in my head. So far I’ve done the anruth (an old school druidic bard), cavalier-paladincleric/assassincleric/fighter/thief, cleric/ranger, druid/fighterfighter/magic-user/thief, illusionist/thiefthief-acrobat, as well as randomly acquired psionics, and even the fighter/illusionist at my patreon.

That doesn’t leave a lot of “legal” old-school combinations… but it DOES leave the dreaded cleric/fighter/magic-user!

When looking to combine the spell power of two of the most powerful spellcasters with the weapon and armor expertise of the fighter, there are two obvious places to begin – the magus, and the warpriest. Either makes sense as an opening class for a cleric/fighter/magic-user, but having built the druid/fighter off the magus yesterday I’m going to start with the warpriest this time.

A warpriest is a fine cleric/fighter, but obviously has no magic-user in it at all. It also has some things we can likely cut while still feeling fairly divinely-inspired and martial, which gives us room to expand its spell list and class features to include some wizardly material.


The cleric/fighter/magic-user is an archetype for the warpriest that also counts as a hybrid class of the cleric, fighter, and wizard classes.

Spellcasting: You cast spells drawn from the cleric and wizard spell lists. You cast cleric spells as divine spells, and wizard spells as arcane spells. You have access to all cleric spells of a spell level you can cast, but must add wizard spells to a spellbook as a wizard does. You begin play with a spellbook with all 0-level wizard spells, and a number of 1st level wizard spells equal to 1 + your Intelligence bonus. At each new class level, you can add any 1 wizard spell of a level you can cast to your spellbook. You otherwise learn new spells and scribe them into your spellbook as a wizard does.

Your Wisdom determines what level spell you can cast, your bonus spells, and the save DCs of any cleric spell you cast. Your Intelligence determines the save DC of any wizard spell you cast.

You can cast any spells you gain as a cleric/fighter/magic-user in armor without having to deal with arcane spell failure, but suffer normal ASFfor arcane spells you gain from other sources.

All your spells gained from this class (cleric and wizard) count as warpriest spells for purposes of other class features (such as fervor).

This modifies the cleric/fighter/magic-user’s spells.

Fight Smarter (Ex): A cleric/fighter/magic-user has learned to fuse his training with gods, spells, and fighting into a single art. At 1st level, you can add your Intelligence bonus, instead of your Strength bonus, to attack rolls and weapon damage rolls. When using a weapon that would normally only allow you to add half your Strength bonus to damage you may only add half your Intelligence bonus, but when using a weapon that would normally allow you to add x1.5 or x2 (or more) of your Strength bonus to damage, you can only add x1 your Intelligence bonus. (If your bonus to damage from Strength would thus be better than your bonus to damage from intelligence, you may use your bonus to damage from Strength.)

Additionally, treat your cleric/fighter/magic-user levels as fighter levels when meeting prerequisites for feats.

This ability replaces focus weapon and sacred weapon.

Domains and Schools: At 1st level you select one cleric domain granted by your god, and one wizard school. These have no effect on your spells per day, spells known, chance to learn spells, and so on. One of these selections is your primary selection, and the other is secondary. For your primary selection, you gain special abilities as if your cleric/fighter/magic-user level was your level in the appropriate class. For your secondary selection, you treat your cleric/fighter/magic-user -3 as your level in the appropriate class.

This ability replaces all minor blessings and sacred armor.

Bonus Feats: You gain a bonus feat at 3rd level, and every 3 levels thereafter, as a normal warpriest does. In addition to combat feats, you may select from any item creation or metamagic feat you meet the prerequisites for as bonus feats.

This ability modifies bonus feats.

Spell Combat (Ex): At 10th level, you gain spell combat as the magus class feature. You can use it with any light or 1-handed melee weapon, or with your deity’s favorite weapon. If your deity’s favorite weapon takes 2-hands, you can cast spells when wielding 2-handed it as if you had one hand free.

This ability replaces major blessings.

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Return of the Druid/Fighter

Yep, we’re back to doing old-school multiclass concepts for Pathfinder. There aren’t a lot of classic “old school” multiclass combinations left I haven’t addressed, having done the anruth (an old school druidic bard), cavalier-paladincleric/assassincleric/fighter/thief, cleric/rangerfighter/magic-user/thief, illusionist/thiefthief-acrobat, as well as randomly acquired psionics, and even the fighter/illusionist at my patreon.

But we haven’t done a druid/fighter.

You could emulate a lot of druid/fighter builds with the hunter, but that saddles you with an animal companion, and doesn’t give you any wildshape. Plus, we already have a magus, so a true hybrid 9-level caster/fighter seems in reach.

The Druid/Fighter (Strider)

A strider is a magus archetype that also counts as a hybrid druid/fighter class. The stride has the following changes.

Armor Proficiency: The strider cannot wear metal armor or use a metal shield. A strider who wears prohibited armor or uses a prohibited shield is unable to cast strider spells or use any of her supernatural or spell-like class abilities while doing so and for 24 hours thereafter.

Spells: A strider knows all spells of the spell levels he can cast from the druid and ranger spell lists, rather than the magus spell list. She treats this as the magus class list for purposes of what class features and magus arcana work with her spells.

Unarmed Arcana (Su): At 3rd level a strider can apply any magus class feature that she could apply to a held melee weapon to her unarmed and natural attacks. (Once she can shapeshift this includes using spellstrike with natural attacks, though she would need Natural Spell to complete the verbal and somatic components of spells while using wild shape.)

This ability replaces the magus arcana gained at 3rd level.

Wild Shape (Su): At 4th level, a strider can wild shape as a druid of the same level.

This ability replaces spell recall, knowledge pool, improved spell combat, improved spell recall, heavy armor, greater spell combat, counterstrike, greater spell access, and true magus.

Natural Weapon Master (Ex): A strider can apply any feat she has taken that normally applies to only one weapon or one set of weapons to any natural attacks she has that would have been legal selections for the feat.

This replaces the bonus feat gained at 5th level.

Woodland Ways: Beginning at 6th level, a strider can select the following druid class features as magus arcana: wild empathy, woodland stride, trackless step, venom immunity, a thousand faces, timeless body. The strider must have a class level at least equal to the level that a druid gains the selected ability, and treats her class level as her druid level for such abilities.

A strider cannot select any magus arcana that duplicates a spell from the magus or wizard spell list (unless it is also on the druid or ranger spell list), or that involves gaining additional spells known, regaining spells, or using spells from other class lists with magus class features.

This ability modifies magus arcana.

Return of the Illusionist/Thief!

There aren’t a lot of classic “old school” multiclass combinations left I haven’t addressed, having done the anruth (an old school druidic bard), cavalier-paladincleric/assassincleric/fighter/thief, cleric/rangerfighter/magic-user/thiefthief-acrobat, as well as randomly acquired psionics, and even the fighter/illusionist at my patreon. At least—there aren’t a lot left I think actually need any help to be used in Pathfinder. There are good ways to create characters filling the roles of the cleric/fighter (warpriest, inquisitor), cleric/magic user (Rogue Genius Games’ magister class), fighter/magic-user (magus), fighter/thief (just do a multiclass fighter/rogue), fighter/assassin (a fighter/rogue can take the assassin prestige class, or you can just play a slayer), and magic-user/thief (the eldritch scoundrel rogue archetype).

But there is still at least one I think would be tricky to build in a satisfying way in Pathfinder—the illusionist/thief. Being an illusionist has specific keynotes in Pathfinder, and it’s hard to hit those with any class with good rogue ability without losing significant effectiveness.

So, taking notes from the unchained rogue, the eldritch scoundrel, the arcanist, and my own fighter/illusionist, here’s a hybrid class for the illusionist/thief.

The Illusionist/Thief

Alignment: Any

Hit Die: d8

Starting Wealth: 5d6 × 10 gp (average 140 gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less.

Class Skills

The illusionist/thief’s’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), Stealth (Dex), Swim (Str), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Ranks per Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Table: Illusionist/Thief

Level  Base Attack Bonus    Fort Save        Ref Save         Will Save        Special

1st       +0        +0        +2        +0        Finesse training, sneak attack +1, trapfinding

2nd      +1        +0        +3        +0        Rogue talent

3rd       +2        +1        +3        +1        Finesse training, sneak attack +1d6

4th       +3        +1        +4        +1        Debilitating injury, rogue talent, uncanny dodge

5th       +3        +1        +4        +1        Sneak attack +2d4

6th       +4        +2        +5        +2        Rogue talent

7th       +5        +2        +5        +2        Sneak attack +2d6

8th       +6/+1  +2        +6        +2        Rogue talent

9th       +6/+1  +3        +6        +3        Sneak attack +3d6

10th     +7/+2  +3        +7        +3        Advanced talents, rogue talent

11th     +8/+3  +3        +7        +3        Finesse training, sneak attack +4d6

12th     +9/+4  +4        +8        +4        Rogue talent

13th     +9/+4  +4        +8        +4        Sneak attack +5d6

14th     +10/+5 +4        +9        +4        Rogue talent

15th     +11/+6/+1       +5        +9        +5        Sneak attack +6d6

16th     +12/+7/+2       +5        +10      +5        Rogue talent

17th     +12/+7/+2       +5        +10      +5        Sneak attack +7d6

18th     +13/+8/+3       +6        +11      +6        Rogue talent

19th     +14/+9/+4       +6        +11      +6        Finesse training, sneak attack +8d6

20th     +15/+10/+5     +6        +12      +6        Master caster, rogue talent

Class Features

The following are the class features of the illusionist/thief.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

Illusionist thieves are proficient with all simple weapons, plus the hand crossbow, rapier, sap, short sword, and shortbow. They are proficient with cloth light armor (but no armor with a significant amount of metal or leather), but not with shields. Their illusionist/thief spells suffer no ASF when they wear light armor composed primarily of cloth.

Favored Class Bonuses

A character that takes a level of illusionist/thief as a favored class can select any favored class bonus the character would receive as a rogue or a wizard, as long as the selected favored class bonus does not grant or modify a class feature the illusionist/thief lacks.

Spellcasting and Illusions

An illusionist/thief has access to a broad range of magic, but can only cast a very few spells per day. This requires her to depend on her skills and talents for much of her adventuring effectiveness, while giving her the option to use spells when a situation becomes dire or when she can find some long-term synergy to deal with a problem.

At 1st level the illusionist/thief casts spells drawn from the bard class list (though she cannot cast any spell that requires or modifies a class feature she does not have, such as bardic performance), and all wizard illusions spells. The illusionist/thief gains the arcane school wizard class feature (including being able to prepare one additional spell of the specialized school for each spell level she can cast), but may only select the illusion school (or its associated focused schools) to specialize in, and automatically has evocation as its opposed school (but does not have to select a second opposed school). The illusionist/thief uses her illusionist/thief level as her wizard level for the illusion arcane school abilities.

An illusionist/thief can prepare a number of spells per day as a magus of her level, and uses Charisma to determine her bonus spells, maximum spell level she can learn or prepare,

To learn, prepare, or cast a spell, the illusionist/thief must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell’s level. The saving throw DC against an illusionist/thief’s spell is 10 + the spell’s level + the illusionist/thief’s Intelligence modifier.

An illusionist/thief can only cast a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on Table: Illusionist/thief under “Spells per Day.” In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Charisma score.

An illusionist/thief may know any number of spells, but the number she can prepare each day is limited. At 1st level, she can prepare four 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells each day. At each new illusionist/thief level, the number of spells she can prepare each day increases, adding new spell levels (using the same chart as the spells per day of the magus). Unlike the number of spells she can cast per day, the number of spells an arcanist can prepare each day is not affected by her Charisma score. Feats and other effects that modify the number of spells known by a spellcaster instead affect the number of spells an illusionist/thief can prepare.

An illusionist/thief must choose and prepare her spells ahead of time by getting 8 hours of sleep and spending 1 hour studying her spellbook. While studying, the illusionist/thief decides what spells to prepare and refreshes her available spell slots for the day.

Like a sorcerer, an illusionist/thief can choose to apply any metamagic feats she knows to a prepared spell as she casts it, with the same increase in casting time (see Spontaneous Casting and Metamagic Feats). However, she may also prepare a spell with any metamagic feats she knows and cast it without increasing casting time like a wizard. She cannot combine these options—a spell prepared with metamagic feats cannot be further modified with another metamagic feat at the time of casting.

Table: Illusionist/thief Spells Per Day

Class               Spell Level

Level   1          2          3          4          5          6

1          1          –           –           –           –           –

2          1          –           –           –           –           –

3          1          –           –           –           –           –

4          2          1          –           –           –           –

5          2          1          –           –           –           –

6          2          1          –           –           –           –

7          3          2          1          –           –           –

8          3          2          1          –           –           –

9          3          2          1          –           –           –

10        3          3          2          1          –           –

11        3          3          2          1          –           –

12        3          3          2          1          –           –

13        3          3          3          1          1          –

14        3          3          3          1          1          –

15        3          3          3          1          1          –

16        3          3          3          2          1          1

17        3          3          3          2          1          1

18        3          3          3          2          1          1

19        3          3          3          2          2          1

20        3          3          3          2          2          1

Sneak Attack

If an illusionist/thief can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage.

The illusionist/thief’s attack deals extra damage anytime her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the illusionist/thief flanks her target, or when the illusionist/thief has convinced the target she is something other than an armed humanoid (normally with an illusion)—in which case the illusion ends with the first sneak attack. This extra damage is +1 point at 1st level, 1d6 at 3rd level, 2d4 at 5th level, 2d6 at 7th level, and increases by 1d6 every 2 illusionist/thief levels thereafter. Ranged attacks can count as sneak attacks only if the target is within 30 feet. This additional damage is precision damage and is not multiplied on a critical hit.

With a weapon that deals nonlethal damage (such as a sap, unarmed strike, or whip), a illusionist/thief can make a sneak attack that deals nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage. She cannot use a weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage in a sneak attack—not even with the usual –4 penalty.

The illusionist/thief must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot. A illusionist/thief cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with total concealment.


An illusionist/thief adds 1/3 her level on Perception checks to locate traps and on Disable Device checks (minimum +1). An illusionist/thief can use Disable Device to disarm magic traps.

Finesse Training (Ex)

At 1st level, an illusionist/thief gains Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat. In addition, starting at 3rd level, she can select any one type of weapon that can be used with Weapon Finesse (such as rapiers or daggers). Once this choice is made, it cannot be changed. Whenever she makes a successful melee attack with the selected weapon, she adds her Dexterity modifier instead of her Strength modifier to the damage roll. If any effect would prevent the illusionist/thief from adding her Strength modifier to the damage roll, she does not add her Dexterity modifier. The illusionist/thief can select a second weapon at 11th level and a third at 19th level.

Rogue Talents

As an illusionist/thief gains experience, she learns a number of talents that aid her and confound her foes. Starting at 2nd level, an illusionist/thief gains one unchained rogue talent. She gains an additional rogue talent for every 2 levels attained after 2nd level. An illusionist/thief cannot select an individual talent more than once. She may select evasion (as the rogue lass feature) as a talent and, if she does, may select improved evasion as a talent beginning at 8th level. She may also select uncanny dodge as a talent and if she does, may select improved uncanny dodge as a talent beginning at 8th level.

Talents marked with an asterisk add effects to an illusionist/thief’s sneak attack. Only one of these talents can be applied to an individual attack, and the decision must be made before the attack roll is made.

Debilitating Injury (Ex)

At 4th level, whenever an illusionist/thief deals sneak attack damage to a foe, she can also debilitate the target of her attack, causing it to take a penalty for 1 round (this is in addition to any penalty caused by a rogue talent or other special ability). The illusionist/thief can choose to apply any one of the following penalties when the damage is dealt.

Befuddled: The target becomes befuddled, taking a –2 penalty to saving throws against illusions and to Perception checks, and being considered distracted for purposes of creatures being able to make Stealth checks against it. The target takes an additional –2 penalty to saving throws against illusions cast by the illusionist/thief and to Perception checks regarding the illusionist/thief. At 10th level and 16th level, the penalties increase by –2 (to a total maximum of –8).

Disoriented: The target takes a –2 penalty on attack rolls. In addition, the target takes an additional –2 penalty on all attack rolls it makes against the illusionist/thief. At 10th level and 16th level, the penalty on attack rolls made against the illusionist thief increases by –2 (to a total maximum of –8).

Hampered: All of the target’s speeds are reduced by half (to a minimum of 5 feet). In addition, the target cannot take a 5-foot step.

These penalties do not stack with themselves, but additional attacks that deal sneak attack damage extend the duration by 1 round. A creature cannot suffer from more than one penalty from this ability at a time. If a new penalty is applied, the old penalty immediately ends. Any form of healing applied to a target suffering from one of these penalties also removes the penalty.

Advanced Talents

At 10th level and every 2 levels thereafter, an illusionist/thief can choose an unchained rogue advanced talents in place of a rogue talent.

Master Caster (Ex)

At 20th level, once per round an illusionist/thief can combine the casting of a spell with a casting time of 1 standard action or less with a sneak attack. The spell affects only the target of the sneak attack, the number of sneak attack dice done is reduced by the level of the spell cast, and the spell does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If the spell has a range of touch, the attack roll for the sneak attack counts as the touch attack roll.

If I May Steal a Moment of Your Time.

I have a Patreon. I even posted two illusionist/thief talents there, as bonus content, currently exclusively for patrons.

Check it out!

Return of Randomly Acquired Psionics!

You can’t have a complete discussion 1e/Old School character concepts, without touching on psionics. While many players and GMs dislike psionics, they have a long history with the game. Notably, in early editions your chance of being psionic was determined randomly, and while that often lead to unexpected developments that some groups enjoy, it also meant some characters were randomly more powerful than others.

But that core concept, that it’s possible for a random roll outside of a player’s control to grant special powers, is one that many playstyles work well with. To make that idea work with Pathfinder, it needs to have an acquisition cost or method associated with it as well,

Thus, the Nescient Psionic feat. The feat gives you psionic power (so the feat-for-power paradigm is maintained), but characters must roll to be allowed to take the feat (and may take it more than once, if dice are with them).

This rule assumes you use the excellent psionics rules from Dreamscarred Press, much of which is on

Nescient Psionic

You did not train for your mental powers. They simple evolved in your mind.

Prerequisites: No psionic powers gained form a class, successful d% roll (see first Special entry).

Benefit: You gain a 1st level psionic power of your choice. If you take this feat multiple times, each time you may either gain one psionic power of your choice that is one level higher than the highest-level power you have gained with this feat, or gain a number of lower-level powers that would (collectively) take as many power powers to activate once each as it would take to activate a psionic power one-level higher than the highest-level power you have gained with this feat.

You manifest your psionic power using the normal rules for psionics. Use the highest of your Int, Wis, and Cha modifier to determine save DCs. Your manifester level is equal to your HD or character level. You gain a pool of power points equal to the number needed to activate each power you gain from this feat once, which can only be used to activate psionic powers gained from this feat.

Special: You can take this feat more than once… maybe. Each time you wish to take this feat (including the first time), you must make a d% roll. Add the highest of your Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma ability scores, plus your ability modifiers for the other two abilities, as a bonus to this roll. If your total is 100 or higher, you may take the feat. If not, you must wait until the next level you have an available feat. Even if you can take multiple feats at the same level, a failed roll prevents you from trying again until you gain a new level and have a new open feat slot.

The effects of taking the feat more than once are detailed in the benefit.

Special: If you gain psionic powers from a class, you can replace with feat with any other psionic feat you qualify for.


Speaking of, this post is sponsored by that site’s webstore arm, the Open Gaming Store! Along with juice and toast, part of a complete breakfast!*

*You know, metaphorically.

Return of the Druidic Bard: The Anruth

Continuing my recent trend of looking at Old School Character Classes, I’m going to take a stab at an old favorite for a lot of folks. Back in the first edition of the game, there was a character class in the back of the main player’s book. Called a bard, it noted that the class had been modified since its original appearance (in materials prior to the codification of everything into a hardback book), and that GMs might not allow it. Taking the class also required a character to take levels in fighter, thief, and druid before they could take levels in bard.

Really, it was the precursor to later “prestige classes” that got codified in the third edition of the game.

This original bard is considered by many players to be very different from the Pathfinder version, at least in part because it gains druid spells rather than wizard-like bard spells. But also, the class could (at least early on) double in for fighters or rogues, continued to advance some of those skills, and focused as much on lore and leadership as it did music and charm. There’s at least one branch of players who miss the part of the bard that is more strongly associated with druids, Irish heroes, and the tradition of the fili who combined the functions of magician, lawgiver, judge, counsellor to the chief, and poet (before some of those functions were taken over by brehons becoming judges and druids being more aligned with supernatural roles).

Now obviously those Irish roots are only inspirations for either the original “druidic bard” or its modern replacement, or for that matter druids and various forms of fuchlucan. I am far from a scholar of Irish history, mythology, or culture, so any effort to capture the old “druidic bard” flavor is going to be similarly limited to inspiration and fantasy translations, with no claim of accuracy or even equivalency of any real-world terms.

Further, unlike things like the fighter/magic-user/thief I don’t want to just use the old name for this new take on the character concept. The bard in pathfinder is a popular and valid class, and not something I want to encourage people to replace. At the same time while the “druidic bard” had strong tied to the fighter, thief, and druid, I don’t want to build the new class as either a hybrid class or a prestige class. That leaves me wishing to create an alternate class for the bard, which means it needs a new name. Drawing from the same tradition as the fili, bard, druid, and fuchlucan, I’m naming this new alternate class the anruth.

Alignment: Anruth are trained to see all sides of a question, and to consider many different philosophies and moral systems. At least one element of an anruth’s alignment must be neutral.

Hit Die: d8

Starting Wealth: 4d6 × 10 gp (average 140 gp.)

Class Skills: The anruth’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Fly (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Ranks per Level: 8 + Int modifier.

Table: Anruth
Level  BAB                Fort     Ref      Will     Special
1st       +0                    +2        +0        +2        Bardic knowledge, fighting spirit, versatile performance
2nd      +1                    +3        +0        +3        Anruth performance (1st pick), trapfinding
3rd       +2                    +3        +1        +3        Lore master 1/day, oral tradition, wild empathy
4th       +3                    +4        +1        +4        Bonus feat, sneak attack +1d6
5th       +3                    +4        +1        +4        Spell kenning 1/day, versatile performance
6th       +4                    +5        +2        +5        Anruth performance (2nd pick), lore master 2/day
7th       +5                    +5        +2        +5        Jack of all trades

8th       +6/+1              +6        +2        +6        Sneak attack +2d6, woodland stride
9th       +6/+1              +6        +3        +6        Lore master 3/day, spell kenning 2/day, versatile performance
10th     +7/+2              +7        +3        +7        Anruth performance (3rd pick),
11th     +8/+3              +7        +3        +7        Bonus feat, trackless step
12th     +9/+4              +8        +4        +8        Lore master 4/day, sneak attack +3d6
13th     +9/+4              +8        +4        +8        Spell kenning 3/day, versatile performance
14th     +10/+5            +9        +4        +9        Anruth performance (4th pick),
15th     +11/+6/+1       +9        +5        +9        Lore master 5/day
16th     +12/+7/+2       +10      +5        +10      Sneak attack +4d6
17th     +12/+7/+2       +10      +5        +10      Spell kenning 4/day, versatile performance
18th     +13/+8/+3       +11      +6        +11      Anruth performance (5th pick), lore master 6/day
19th     +14/+9/+4       +11      +6        +11      Bonus feat, timeless body
20th     +15/+10/+5     +12      +6        +12      Sneak attack +5d6, spell lore

Proficiency: The anruth is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and all light and medium armors.

Favored Class Bonus: If anruth is your favored class, you can take any favored class bonus that you would be allowed to take for the bard, druid, fighter, or rogue classes, as long as it does not modify a class feature the anruth does not have.

Spells: You are a spontaneous arcane spellcaster who gains the spells per day and spells known of a bard of the same level. Your class spell list includes all 0-6th level bard and druid spells, and all 1st-4th level ranger spells. You cannot learn a spell that modifiers a class feature the anruth does not possess (such as instant enemy, as you do not have the favored enemy class feature). Your Wisdom ability score determines the maximum level of spell you can cast, your bonus spells per day, and your spell DCs. Any spell you cast that uses Intelligence or Charisma as part of its calculations you may instead calculate using your Wisdom. You do not suffer arcane spell failure for your anruth spells while wearing light or medium armor. You suffer ASFP normally for shields or heavy armor.

Bardic Knowledge (Ex): At 1st level you gain bardic knowledge, as the bard class feature.

Fighting Spirit (Su): You do not depend on the might or your arm or the speed of your body when you fight. You fight from the heart, and it is that inner power that grants your attacks accuracy and potency. At 1st level you may use your Wisdom bonus in place of your Strength and Dexterity modifiers to determine your attack bonus and damage bonus with weapons, unarmed, and natural attacks. This bonus cannot exceed your anruth class level. If your Strength of Dexterity modifier is better, you can continue to use it. If an ability score modifier is normally halved or doubled (such as the Strength bonus to damage with two-handed weapons), you halve or double your Wisdom bonus when you use it instead.

Versatile Performance (Ex): As the bard class feature, but gained at 1st level, with an additional choice every 4 levels thereafter.

Anruth Performance (Su): At 2nd level you gain the anruth performance ability, allowing you to use your knowledge of sagas, lore, epics, poems, and songs of last ages to inspire, fascinate, or change the flow of battle. This functions as the bardic performance class feature (and counts as that ability for purposes of prerequisites and abilities that modify bardic performance), but you only receive a number of round per day equal to your class level plus your Wisdom bonus, and your performances always start your performance as a move action and maintain it as a free action.

You select a single form of performance you can create with your anruth performance from the following choices, each duplicating the performance ability of the ability of the same name from the class or archetype listed in parenthesis after the ability: distraction (bard), inspire courage (bard), or inspired rage (skald). |You also automatically gain the performance ability fascinate (bard).

At 6th level, you may select an additional form of performance, this may be one of the lower-level options you have not yet taken, or one of the following options: devastating aria (diva), inspire competence (bard), song of marching (skald), or song of strength (skald). You also automatically gain the performance ability suggestion (bard)

At 10th level, you may select an additional form of performance, this may be one of the lower-level options you have not yet taken, or one of the following options: dirge of doom (bard), inspire greatness (bard), scathing tirade (diva).

At 14th level, you may select an additional form of performance, this may be one of the lower-level options you have not yet taken, or one of the following options: frightening tune (bard), song of the fallen (skald), or soothing performance (bard).

At 18th level, you may select an additional form of performance, this may be one of the lower-level options you have not yet taken, or one of the following options: inspire heroics (bard) or mass suggestion (bard).

Trapfinding (Ex): At 2nd level you gain trapfinding, as the rogue class feature.

Lore Master (Ex): As the bard class feature, but the ability to take 20 on a Knowledge skill is useable once per day at 3rd level, +1 additional times per day every 3 levels thereafter.

Oral Tradition (Ex): At 3rd level, you can memorize magic writing for use by yourself, or to reproduce later. When you encounter a scroll, you can attempt to create a poem, song, or allegory that imbeds the information and magic of the scroll in your mind. This takes one hour per spell on the scroll, and removed the spell from the scroll. You can use these spells as you would when they were scrolls (including needing to make caster level checks for spells that are too high level, or UMD check for spells not on your class list), though used in this way the spells have a minimum casting time of 1 round. Once you use a spell from your oral tradition, it is gone. You can have a maximum number of spells from scrolls stored in oral traditions equal to your class level plus your Wisdom bonus.

You can recreate these spell scrolls by writing out the spell from your oral tradition, a process that takes 1 hour per spell and materials equal to 10 gp per spell level. Doing so removes the spell from your oral tradition.

Alternatively, you can store the magic of a magic book, tome, or manual. This takes half the time it would take to use the book or manual, and it counts as two spells toward your maximum number of spells stored in your oral tradition. This destroys the magic book. You can use the book or manual yourself from memory, exactly as if you were reading the physical book, and this removes it from your memory, Or you can create it, which takes as long as it took to record it into your oral tradition and materials costing 10% of the book’s cost. This also removes it from your oral tradition.

While the ability to store the magic writings of scrolls and tomes in your head is extraordinary, the effects created by such magic writings remain magical.

Your oral traditional also allows you to use your Wisdom modifier in place of your Intelligence modifier for Knowledge skills.

Bonus Feat: At 4th level you gain one bonus feat. You must meet the feat’s prerequisites, but treat your class level as your bard, druid, fighter, and ranger class level for purposes of this feat. You gain additional bonus feats at 11th and 19th level. Alternatively at each of these levels you may select a rogue talent (but not advanced talent). You must meet this talent’s prerequisites, but use your anruth level as your rogue level.

Sneak Attack: At 4th level you gain sneak attack, as the rogue class feature. It increased by +1d6 every 4 levels.

Wild Empathy (Ex): At 4th level you gain wild empathy, as the druid class feature.

Spell Kenning (Su): As 5th level you gain spell kenning, as the skald class feature, but it is useable once per day at 5th, plus one additional time per day at 9th level, plus once more per day every 4 levels thereafter.

Jack of All Trades (Ex): At 7th level, you can use any skill, even if the skill normally requires you to be trained. At 13th level, you consider all skills to be class skills. At 16th level, you can take 10 on any skill check, even if it is not normally allowed.

Woodland Stride (Ex): At 8th level, you gain woodland stride, as the druid class feature.

Trackless Step (Ex): At 11th level you gain trackless step, as the druid class feature.

Timeless Body (Su): At 19th level you gain timeless body, as the druid class feature.

Spell Lore (Sp): At 20th level, your mastery of lore and mysteries expands your spell repertoire even further. Add one additional spell known at each spell level you can cast, drawn from the bard, cleric, druid, ranger, or sorcerer/wizard spell list. These spells are considered to be on your class spell list, as well. Also, select one 7th level spell from one of these spell lists. You can cast that spell once per day as a spell-like ability, using your Wisdom bonus to determine any of the spell’s calculations normally based on Intelligence or Charisma.


While I simply grabbed existing forms of performance for the various anruth performance options, and that works great, it occurred to me that there might be at least one option an anruth should have other performance-using classes don’t: shame.

So I wrote up a shaming performance for the anruth and put it up on my Patreon as (for the moment) patron-exclusive content.

Check it out!

Tiny Little Painful Fists

It’s tough to build a satisfying monk using a size Small race. While you get a 5% boost to accuracy and AC, your reduction for damage hovers closer to 10-20%. That unfortunate, because an illustration of a halfling monk (which was presented at a review of 3.0 at Gen Con in 2000) is one of the things that caused halflings to be reimagined for 3rd edition.

Of course as anyone with children (or cats) knows, having a tiny fist (or paw) be pressed into your flesh with force hurts. Finding a way to maximize that effect for combat should require some training, but in a game where lizards can breathe fire as a nonmagical effect, it ought to be possible.

And thus, the new feat presented below.

Tiny Little Painful Fists

You can drive your smaller fists, feet, elbows and so-on, deep into vulnerable points and weak areas on a foe with ease.

Prerequisites: Size small.

Benefits: You can ignore the Strength prerequisite of the Power Attack feat (and any feat that also has Power Attack as a prerequisite). Additionally, when using Power Attack with unarmed attacks or monk weapons, you reduce the penalty Power Attack applies to your attack rolls by 2 (to a maximum reduction of no penalty).

Patreon Exclusive

I did a follow-up feat, Low Blow, over on my Patreon as (for now) Patron-Exclusive content.

Check it out!

Return of the Thief-Acrobat!

I have no idea how long this old-school-concepts-for-Pathfinder kick will continue, but it does seem to be popular (it’s even involved the French!). Having done the cavalier-paladin, cleric/assassin, and fighter/magic-use/thief (and even a patron-exclusive fighter/illusionist, on my Patreon), I thought I’d tackle the stories thief-acrobat.

The thief-acrobat is an alternate class of the rogue, and its class features with the same names as rogue class features work as those class features (though it’s sneak attack is weaker).

Alignment: Any

Hit Die: d8

Starting Wealth: 4d6 × 10 gp (average 140 gp.)

Class Skills: The thief-acrobat’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Stealth (Dex), Swim (Str), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Ranks per Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Table: Thief-Acrobat
Level  BAB                Fort     Ref      Will     Special
1st       +0                    +0        +2        +0        Acrobatic movement, sneak attack +1d4
2nd      +1                    +0        +3        +0        Evasion, nimble defense, trapfinding
3rd       +2                    +1        +3        +1        Sneak attack +2d4, escapist +1
4th       +3                    +1        +4        +1        Acrobatic strike, uncanny dodge
5th       +3                    +1        +4        +1        Sneak attack +2d6
6th       +4                    +2        +5        +2        Rogue talent, escapist +2
7th       +5                    +2        +5        +2        Sneak attack +3d6
8th       +6/+1               +2        +6        +2        Improved uncanny dodge, rogue talent
9th       +6/+1               +3        +6        +3        Sneak attack +4d6, escapist +3
10th     +7/+2               +3        +7        +3        Advanced talents, rogue talent
11th     +8/+3               +3        +7        +3        Sneak attack +5d6
12th     +9/+4               +4        +8        +4        Rogue talent, escapist +4
13th     +9/+4               +4        +8        +4        Sneak attack +6d6
14th     +10/+5             +4        +9        +4        Rogue talent
15th     +11/+6/+1        +5        +9        +5        Sneak attack +7d6, escapist +5
16th     +12/+7/+2        +5        +10      +5        Rogue talent
17th     +12/+7/+2        +5        +10      +5        Sneak attack +8d6
18th     +13/+8/+3        +6        +11      +6        Rogue talent, escapist +6
19th     +14/+9/+4        +6        +11      +6        Sneak attack +9d6
20th     +15/+10/+5      +6        +12      +6        Master strike, rogue talent

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Thief-acrobats are proficient with all simple weapons, plus the rapier, sap, and short sword. A thief-acrobat can use a 10-foot pole as a club with the reach special weapon quality that requires 2-handed to use and can benefit from Weapon Finesse (and any similar ability that replaces Strength with Dexterity, if it would apply to the rapier). When wielding such a pole in 2-handed, they gain a +2 circumstance bonus to all Acrobatics checks. They are proficient with light armor, but not with shields.

Acrobatic Movement (Ex): You are a virtuoso at moving your body fluidly and twisting, flipping, hopping, and undulating however you must to get where you wish to be. You gain a bonus to Acrobatics checks equal to half your class level, and you may make Acrobatics checks in place of the following skills—Climb, Escape Artist, Fly, Stealth, and Swim. You are considered trained in all these skills if you are trained in Acrobatics.

Additionally you can move in ways and to locations others simple cannot reach without magic. At the beginning of your turn, you may make a single Acrobatics check as a free action. You gain a climb, fly, or swim movement rate (your choice) equal to your skill check. This movement rate lasts until the beginning of your next turn. If you end your movement in a spot you cannot remain at without this movement rate (such as in midair, or on a sheer wall that cannot be climbed without a climb speed), you fall at the beginning of your next turn.

Also, whenever you fall (whether on your turn or not) as long as you are conscious and able to move freely, you may make an Acrobatics check as a free action. If the check meets or exceeds the number of feet you are falling, you land on your feet and take no damage. Otherwise you subtract the skill check from the number of feet you fall when determining how much damage you take.

All acrobatic movement checks can only use a number of ranks in Acrobatics equal to your class level. Thus a multiclass fighter 7/thief-acrobatic 2 may have 9 ranks in Acrobatics, but can only use 2 of those ranks to calculate the bonus of skill checks for this class feature.

You must have no armor check penalty and be in light encumbrance to use this ability.

Nimble Defense (Ex): As long as you are not suffering an armor check penalty (either from wearing no armor, or by wearing armor with an armor check penalty of 0), you gains a +1 dodge bonus to AC. This dodge bonus increases to +2 at 4th level, and by an additional +1 every 4 additional levels thereafter.

Escapist: You are particularly difficult to slow or pin down. At 3rd level you gain a bonus to your CMD against bull rush and trip maneuvers, to Acrobatics checks made to escape from bindings or move through small spaces, and to your saving throws against any effect which would slow you, reduce your movement rate, or hold, entangle, or paralyze you (though not things that stagger or stun you, knock you out, or command you to decide not to take movement, such as command). You can also ignore a number of spaces of difficult terrain each round equal to your escapist bonus. This bonus begins at +1 at 3rd level, and increases by +1 every 3 levels thereafter. You must have no armor check penalty and be in light encumbrance to use this ability.

Acrobatic Strike: At 4th level you are so good at flipping and spinning that you can flip over, roll under, or cartwheel past a foe to position yourself to strike the foe in a vulnerable location. If you successfully make an Acrobatics check to move through a foe’s space, and you are able to make a melee attack against that foe in the same round directly after taking that movement, the first attack you make counts as flanking the foe. You gain all the normal bonuses of flanking the foe, which normally includes a +2 bonus to your attack roll and the ability to do sneak attack damage. You must have no armor check penalty and be in light encumbrance to use this ability.

Patreon Exclusive

Since the thief-acrobat is an alternate version of the rogue it can mostly just use rogue options for things like talents. But I did think of two talents a thief-acrobat might find useful a rogue wouldn’t have access to, and I wrote them up for backers of my Patreon.

Check it out!