Iconic Design: Strength of Blood

Welcome to Guidance, Private Sanctuary’s source for tips and techniques for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, we’re going to be looking at Alex’s bloodrage build.

A few weeks ago, Perram and I were talking bloodragers. Specifically, about how it’s by far the most powerful melee class in the game. We were talking specifically about how easy it is to get your Strength up high with that class. One thing lead to another, and ultimately this build was born from it, my 3rd PFS character, Kohdaehan. (Which is Korean for ‘giant.’)

Why did I name him ‘giant?’ Well, let’s move on and you can see for yourself!

Build Concept

So, how am I making this character? Let me show you!

  • Bloodrager: Obviously, this is the core. I wanted a class that could pump Strength up to ridiculous levels, and I have just that in the bloodrager.
  • Crossblooded Rager: This archetype allows you to pick two bloodrager bloodlines. I’ll explain later why I chose this archetype, but for now know that my bloodlines will be arcane and abyssal.
  • Kitsune: As everyone knows, I’m a type player and my type is kitsune. That said, there’s a specific reason I picked kitsune for this build. The first one requires 4th level to see. The second one is simply that it’s a lot of fun to try and maximize Strength on a character with a racial Strength penalty. Or at least, I think its fun. I might be masochistic.

With that out of the way, let’s begin by looking at the early levels!

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: bloodrager (cross-blooded rager) 7
  • Feats: Iron Will (1st), Power Attack (3rd), Skill Focus: Knowledge (planes) (5th), Disruptive (Bonus), Eldritch Heritage: abyssal (7th)
  • Abilities: blood casting, blood sanctuary, bloodline spells (magic missile), bloodline powers (demonic bulk, disruptive bloodrage), bloodrage, cross-blooded (abyssal, arcane), damage reduction 1/–, eschew materials, fast movement, improved uncanny dodge, uncanny dodge
  • 1st-Level Bloodrager Spells: magic missile; infernal healing, mud ball

Alright! Early levels. Some might be scratching their heads at my decision to grab Iron Will, but I assure you that it makes sense: I grabbed it because of the crossblooded rager’s drawbacks. Like the crossblooded sorcerer, you take a –2 penalty on Will saves. But it gets worse. You also don’t get a morale bonus on Will saves when you rage AND the bloodrager class has a poor Will save bonus. So ultimately, I felt it important to grab Iron Will for this build as my first feat. I’m also taking a trait for +1 to my Will save bonus as well.

So, was the Will save penalty worth it? I’d say yes. The reason I took crossblooded rager was mainly to trade out that 1st-level bloodrager bloodline power. You see, in my quest to grab as many Strength bonuses as possible, I need to take Improved Eldritch Heritage: abyssal. At 9th level, an abyssal bloodline sorcerer gains a bloodline power that grants her an inherent bonus to her Strength, and that’s exactly the ability that I’m going for on my bloodrager. So, why do I need crossblooded rager? Well, the 1st level bloodline powers for the bloodrager and sorcerer are nearly identical, and since I don’t have a choice for the Eldritch Heritage feat, I figured that I would grab crossblooded so I don’t overlap on powers. I’d hate to take a useless feat. I debated about whether to pick mud ball or shield up first, but ultimately I went with mud ball because it felt more like a kitsune’s preference in magic to me. For his bloodline spell, I was left betwee ray of enfeeblement and magic missile for my bloodrager. Ultimately, I went with magic missile. There are too many scenarios where having magic missile is useful for me to not take it. (I for one like having an attack option that can’t miss.)

After grabbing Iron Will and Power Attack, this build starts working towards the Improved Eldritch Heritage feat chain, although it does pause to grab the Disruptive feat from the arcane bloodline. It’ll go nicely with my 1st-level arcane bloodline power, and ultimately it’ll pave the way for my character’s secondary role as a spellcaster killer at high levels.

At Level 4, this build gets its first major ability: the demonic bulk bloodline power. With this ability, my bloodrager will automatically use enlarge person on himself whenever he bloodrages. This has a hilarious effect with the kitsune’s change shape ability: basically, enlarge person will cancel out alter self because both spells have the potential to change the target’s size. So one minute my character is human, the next he is a fourteen-foot tall humanoid fox. Hilarious!

Spell-wise, I like that my character, who is otherwise good-aligned, has infernal healing. I’m planning on flavoring it as my character drawing upon his own, demonic blood to fuel the spell’s effects. But that’s enough for this stage in the game, let’s look at the mid-levels!

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: bloodrager (cross-blooded rager) 14
  • Feats: Iron Will (1st), Power Attack (3rd), Skill Focus: Knowledge (planes) (5th), Disruptive (Bonus), Eldritch Heritage: abyssal (7th), Improved Initiative (Bonus), Step Up (9th), Improved Eldritch Heritage: abyssal (11th), Spellbreaker (Bonus), Following Step (13th),
  • Abilities: blood casting, blood sanctuary, bloodline spells (magic missile, invisibility), bloodline powers (abyssal bloodrage, demonic bulk, disruptive bloodrage, greater arcane bloodrage), bloodrage, cross-blooded (abyssal, arcane), damage reduction 3/–, eschew materials, fast movement, improved uncanny dodge, indomitable will, greater bloodrage, uncanny dodge
  • 4th-Level Bloodrager Spells: black tentacles, volcanic storm, telekinetic charge
  • 3rd-Level Bloodrager Spells: lightning bolt; chain of perdition, fly, heroism, sleet storm
  • 2nd-Level Bloodrager Spells: invisibility; mirror image, ironskin, see invisibility, molten orb, see invisibility
  • 1st-Level Bloodrager Spells: magic missile; expeditious retreat, feather fall, infernal healing, mud ball, shield, true strike

There’s a lot going on at this stage in the game, so let’s start off by talking about bloodline powers. At 8th level, this build gains greater arcane bloodrage, which gives my bloodrager one of the following spells while he bloodrages: blur, protection from arrows, resist energy (one type of energy), or spider climb. This is an all-star list of spell effects! Personally, I’m likely to choose blur as my default, with the other three being backup effects based upon my personal need for the encounter. At 12th level, I gain abyssal bloodrage, which increases my Strength by an extra +2 but lowers my AC by an additional –2. I also get greater bloodrage the level prior to this, which raises my bloodrage from +4 to +6. In all, by 12th level I’m looking at +10 to my Strength from bloodrage alone (+6 from bloodrage, +2 from abyssal bloodrage, and +2 size from enlarge person).

11th level is also when Improved Eldritch Heritage turns on, which gives me an extra +2 inherent bonus to Strength. Prior to that, I grab Improved Initiative as a bloodline feat so I can react faster and Step Up so I can follow any pesky spellcasters that think they can escape my fury. I also grab Spellbreaker as a bloodline feat at 12th level and Following Step at 13th level. In all, my character can move up to 10 feet after anyone that tries to 5-foot step away from him AND can make attacks of opportunity against foes that fail to cast defensively within his threatened area.

Spell-wise, the bloodrager advances quickly. I pick invisibility and lightning bolt as my bloodline spells (not expecting to use lightning bolt much, though). The bigger players are mirror image and ironskin (which anyone can learn in PFS!) at 2nd level and chain of perdition and fly at 2nd level. Ultimately, my goal with my magic is to try and pick spells that allow me to help buff the party, lock down enemy spellcasters, and defend myself from harm. I’ve got a lot of odd utility spells to help me in fights as well, like see invisibility and sleet storm (for battlefield control). Ultimately, I’m feeling pretty good about this build and even though I know that my bloodrager will be retired long before reaching end game, let’s take a look at what a theoretical endgame might look like for him.

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: bloodrager (cross-blooded rager) 20
  • Feats: Iron Will (1st), Power Attack (3rd), Skill Focus: Knowledge (planes) (5th), Disruptive (Bonus), Eldritch Heritage: abyssal (7th), Improved Initiative (Bonus), Step Up (9th), Improved Eldritch Heritage: abyssal (11th), Spellbreaker (Bonus), Following Step (13th), Combat Reflexes (Bonus), Step Up and Strike (15th), Raging Vitality (17th), Toughness (Bonus), Furious Focus (19th)
  • Abilities: blood casting, blood sanctuary, bloodline spells (magic missile, invisibility), bloodline powers (abyssal bloodrage, demonic bulk, disruptive bloodrage, greater arcane bloodrage, caster scourge, caster’s bane), bloodrage, cross-blooded (abyssal, arcane), damage reduction 5/–, eschew materials, fast movement, greater bloodrage, improved uncanny dodge, indomitable will, mighty bloodrage, tireless bloodrage, uncanny dodge
  • 4th-Level Bloodrager Spells: dimension door; black tentacles, volcanic storm, telekinetic charge, enervation, wall of fire
  • 3rd-Level Bloodrager Spells: lightning bolt; chain of perdition, fly, heroism, sleet storm, greater thunderstomp
  • 2nd-Level Bloodrager Spells: invisibility; mirror image, iron skin, see invisibility, molten orb, see invisibility, adhesive blood, blindness/deafness
  • 1st-Level Bloodrager Spells: magic missile; expeditious retreat, feather fall, infernal healing, mud ball, shield, true strike

So some common things that you’re seeing here are a max-out of my bloodrager’s Strength bonuses, plus some additional support for his off-role as a spellcaster slayer. This happens from bloodline powers like caster scourge and caster’s band, plus spells like black tentacles. I manage to grab Step Up and Strike at 15th level, plus Combat Reflexes for the extra attack of opportunity. By about that point, the impact of my choices start wearing down as everything settles. Let’s take a moment to look at my final strength bonus with this build:

  • Strength 15 (base)
  • +8 (Mighty Bloodrage)
  • +6 (Abyssal Might, Improved Eldritch Heritage)
  • +2 (Demonic Bulk, from enlarge person)
  • +2 (Abyssal Bloodrage)
  • +6 (enhancement bonus, belt of giant’s strength)
  • +5 (character advancement)
  • Total: +29, for a final Strength of 44.

Just imagine if I had played this build with a racial Strength bonus! +2 from not having the kitsune’s penalty, +2 from the race’s bonus. That’d be Strength 48, easy. If you want to make it even crazier, you can grab a courageous weapon, which allows you to add up to half of the weapon’s enhancement bonus to any morale bonus that you receive, which for this build would be an extra +2 Strength for a +4 weapon, for a total of 46 for me, or 50 for someone with a Strength bonus.

Fun!

I hope you enjoyed my PFS bloodrager build! I made a miniature for him, and in the near future you’re going to get to see that work-in-process. Got any questions, comments, or criticisms in the meantime? Leave’em in the comments below, and I look forward to become back to Know Direction with another new Guidance article on Monday. Take care!

Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex’s favorite color is blue and his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune bloodrager. What does the fox say? WAAAAAAAAGH! *smash*

Alex Augunas

Alexander Augunas lives outside of Philadelphia, USA where he tries to make a living as an educator. When he's not shaping the future leaders of tomorrow, Alex is a freelance writer for esteemed Pathfinder Roleplaying Game publishers such as Paizo, Inc, Radiance House, Raging Swan Press, and more, and also acts as a co-host and blogger on the Know Direction Network, where he has earned the nickname, "The Everyman Gamer." Recently, Alex has forayed into the realm of self-publishing through his company, Everyman Gaming, LLC. If you like Alex's writing and are interested in supporting him while getting professional-quality material for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game while doing so, check out the Everyman Gaming, LLC catalog, which is listed under Rogue Genius Games at the following locations: http://drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/6101/Rogue-Genius-Games/subcategory/19574_25289/Everyman-Gaming-Catalog

11 Comments

  1. I’m newish to the hobby and would like to know how you make miniatures of your characters because I can never find pieces in the right race and class.

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      On Monday I’m doing a step-by-step guide on how I made my mini for this character. Then on the following Monday, I’m doing a guide about how I painted him. (That guide is less step-by-step because painting is a lot less methodical than sculpting.)

  2. Didn’t you forget that the abyssal bloodline from bloodrager also increases to +6

  3. I was under the impression that one could not take the same bloodline for Eldritch Heritage as one had already received through a class feature. Are you sure you can double up on Abyssal like that?

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      Yes.

      Bloodrager bloodlines aren’t the same as sorcerer bloodlines. The class feature itself never mentions that they are the same. For example, the bloodrage class feature has this line of text: “Bloodrage counts as the barbarian’s rage class feature for the purpose of feat prerequisites, feat abilities, magic item abilities, and spell effects.” The bloodrager’s bloodline has this line of text: “If the bloodrager takes levels in another class that grants a bloodline, the bloodlines must be the same type, even if that means that the bloodline of one of the classes must change. Subject to GM discretion, the bloodrager can change his former bloodline to make them conform.” Eldritch Heritage says this, “Select one sorcerer bloodline. You must have Skill focus in the class skill that bloodline grants to a sorcerer at 1st level (for example, Heal for the celestial bloodline). This bloodline cannot be a bloodline you already have.”

      So even though I have to pick the same bloodline if I take levels in another class that has the same bloodline, I can still take Eldritch Heritage: abyssal (and am even forced to if I were to multiclass). This is why it is important that Eldritch Heritage states, “Select one SORCERER bloodline.” If it had simply said, “Select one bloodline,” then you would be correct in saying that I couldn’t take it. But Eldritch Heritage makes the distinction of what sort of bloodline I can and cannot choose. This is also why levels of draconic disciple don’t advance the bloodrager’s bloodline; the feature specifically states SORCERER bloodline and you don’t have a sorrier bloodline.

      Of course, this is something that is prime for an FAQ clarification, and since it isn’t a huge part of my build I’ll update this article if the upcoming ACG errata nullifies it.

      • Hm, Ok. Then by that logic the Amulets of the Blooded cannot increase the effective level of a Bloodrager’s bloodline, which I presumed was the point of having those items in the AGC. Silly me.

        If Paizo intends to make that distinction, they really should start putting “sorcerer” or “bloodrager” in front of every appearance of “bloodline”.

  4. Very nice build, love it!

    The following is a repost from your Bayonetta build, but it never got a response:
    You speak of wielding two guns but have no two wepon fighting feats?

    I’d also love your take on a DBZ character (Vegeta and/or Goku) and see what you come up with (I’ve tried several times but gave up, although the kineticists gives me hope again!).

    Did you ever finish your Naruto build?

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      Anime characters are REALLY hard to do in Pathfinder, mostly because A) magna writers LOVE to power up their characters, and sometimes those powers are so thematic that it is impossible to copy with a Western class structure. For example, take the fact that my Shaman King build doesn’t take into consideration the fact that Yoh can apparent;y use his sword to gain limited flight capability. That’s not really something that I can do. That’s the wall that I started hitting with Naruto. (Wait, you want me to be a decent ninja AND summon frogs?!) Goku and Vegeta might be less troublesome, but at the same time those two characters are basically the same when viewed under the Pathfinder microscope.

      TWF and guns is weird. It doesn’t work that well unless you have a gum with a capacity of, like, 4 or so, and even then you’re stuck spending a full round reloading after every full attack unless you do something creepy like grab a vestigial limb. So yeah, I mention it but don’t really do it for that build.

      • Things I tried in the past for a DBZ build:

        Bloodrager: Similar to your strength build (yes it is delicious!) focussing on unarmed strikes. Possibly with a dip in monk for flurry. Your abbyssal rage can represent various transformations. Lacks some ranged punch (fireballs and lightning bolts representing KI attacks)

        Empyreal/draconic crossblooded sorcerer/ Monk / Dragon Disciple: A good mix of strength based unarmed attacks and wisdom-based blasting. Use a headband of charisma and eldritch heritage feats to acquire the orc bloodline (for more strength and a transformation!). A variant can skip dragon disciple and just go crossblooded empyreal/orc with a monk dip. Also has access to stuff like elemental body and the transformation spell.

        Sacred Fist: Has a lot of monk’ness and buffs built in a single class but lacks good blasting and transformations. Does have access to that delicious blood crow strike (machine gun KI attack!)

        Unarmed magus: Doesn’t really work sadly enough… and is not really meant to be good at AOE blasting anyway.

        Iroran Paladin with a monk dip: can do a lot of damage but also lacks in blasting and possible transformations.

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      If you look at classic abilities, 99% of them DO distinguish which bloodline they’re talking about. They all say “sorcerer bloodline.” Same with amulet of the blooded, just like you said. A bloodrager bloodline isn’t a sorcerer bloodline, just like panache wouldn’t work like grit if not for the special side bar that says otherwise. No such sidebar exists for the bloodrager.

      The reason the amulet likely doesn’t work for bloodragers? A) the freelancers might have been operating under the assumption that bloodragers would count, when such language wasn’t conveyed. B) bloodrager bloodlines are too strong to make available for everyone. C) something else I can’t predict. D) a taco.

      • But strangely the Amulets of Spirits do work for both Oracles and Shamans, so apparently mysteries and spirits of the same name are more similar than sorcerer/bloodrager bloodlines of the same name :-\. The interpretation for bloodrager definitely seems to get away from the original concept of the ACG classes being hybrids of the parent classes.

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