Iconic Design: That’s Using Your Brain!

Welcome to Iconic Design, Private Sanctuary’s source for innovative and evocative character builds for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, we’re going to be looking at Alex’s build for his PFS psychic detective.

I’m sure many of you are heartbroken, but some obligations that I’ve had prevented me from doing another Pregen Pick-Me-Up this week. Instead, going along with the topic of investigators from Wednesday’s Private Sanctuary, I’m going to share my personal PFS build for my psychic detective. Enjoy!

Build Concept

Here’s the basics of my build.

  • Swashbuckler (Inspired Blade): I learned the hard way that not being able to meaningfully contribute to melee combat in any way hurts at Level 1, so I dipped my first level into swashbuckler so I could pick up the feats to take Dex to attack and damage with my rapier right off the bat. As an added bonus, inspired blade also lets me add my Intelligence modifier to the number of panache points I get; with my personal build, I have 4 or 5 panache at Level 1, which is nifty. It helps me be a little bit less MAD, which is nice.
  • Investigator: Not much of an investigator build if I don’t go investigator, right?
  • Psychic Detective: This is my favorite investigator archetype because personally, I like spontaneous Spellcasting better than prepared Spellcasting. Prepared Spellcasting makes me anxious because I’m always worried about if I prepared the right number of spells or if I’ll have time to prepare more new ones or if I’d better save or use my spells. Spontaneous is MUCH less cumbersome to me, and even better, the spell list that you get as a psychic detective is FANTASTIC.

With all this said and down, let’s move on to the build!

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: swashbuckler (inspired blade) 1, investigator (psychic detective) 6
  • Feats: Weapon Focus: rapier (Bonus), Fencing Grace (1st), Combat Reflexes (3rd), Bodyguard (5th) Extra Investigator Talent: expanded inspiration (7th)
  • Abilities: deeds, inspiration, inspired finesse, inspired panache, keen recollection, phrenic dabbler, psychic meddler +2, studied combatant, studied strike +2d6, trap sense +2
  • Deeds: derring-do, dodging panache, opportune parry and riposte (1st)
  • Investigator Talents: inspired intelligence (5th), expanded inspiration (Bonus)
  • Phrenic Amplifications: defensive prognostication (3rd)
  • Psychic Class 2nd-Level Spells Known (4): invisibility, mind thrust II, mirror image, pilfering hand
  • Psychic Class 1st-Level Spells Known (4): charm person, find traps, ill omen, shield
  • Psychic Class Knacks Known (6): detect magic, detect psychic significance, mage hand, prestidigitation, sift, stabilize
  • Traits: fencer, magical knack (investigator)

Like most effective investigators, this build is based around skills and making life better for my allies. My feats focus on my awesome Dexterity with jewels like Fencing Grace and Combat Reflexes. (Seriously, what Dex-based martial passes on Combat Reflexes?) At low levels while I’m building up to studied combat, I like the idea that I’m constantly improving my allies’ defenses, so I took Bodyguard as my 5th level feat. Because I took a dip into swashbuckler and psychic detective trades an investigator talent for a phrenic amplification at 3rd level, I actually don’t get my first investigator talent until Level 6, so I had a feat to kill. (It was a toss-up between Bodyguard and Improved Initiative for me, and I might end up defaulting on that choice at some point.) In any case, the idea of Bodyguarding my allies, then using opportune parry and riposte when the enemy gets fed up with me is tempting. I took the fencer trade as one of my two traits because it gives me a +1 bonus on attacks of opportunities with my blade, which makes up for me being (mostly) a 3/4 BAB character.

Let’s talk spells. On classes that get daze, I usually keep daze until Level 4, after which I trade it for something else. For Ihan, I’m trading it for detect psychic significance. Now, you might be wondering why I have find traps as a 1st-level spell, rather than a 2nd-level spell as it appears on the psychic spell list. The psychic detective actually gets a number of investigator-like spells at lower levels, and find traps is one of them. I like find traps because its basically trap spotter with a duration, and since you don’t need to slow down while searching for traps with trap spotter it’s a fairly action-friendly spell. Especially considering that my 1st-level spell slots aren’t super important at higher levels. Other than those two, I think my spell choices are pretty obvious. One of my favorites on the list is mind thrust, not only because it deals decent damage (on-level even, considering I took magical knack with the investigator class) but also because it deals half damage on a successful save. That’s not common for Will saves, and in my experience there are plenty of low-Will monsters and enemies that I’d really like to mind blast across the room. My magic is mostly roguish stuff otherwise; nothing too surprising.

When I got my first investigator talent at Level 6, I promptly picked inspired intelligence. At Level 7, my next pick was expanded inspiration with the Extra Investigator Talent feat. Between the two of those, a HUGE number of skills become free to use via inspiration for me, which is fantastic! It means I can use my inspiration offensively and defensively without worrying so much about what I might need it for later, which is nice.

Next up, the mid-levels! Let’s see what’s next.

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: swashbuckler (inspired blade) 1, investigator (psychic detective) 13
  • Feats: Weapon Focus: rapier (Bonus), Fencing Grace (1st), Combat Reflexes (3rd), Bodyguard (5th) Extra Investigator Talent: expanded inspiration (7th), Outflank (9th), Harrying Partners (11th), Extra Investigator Talent: quick study (13th)
  • Extra Investigator Talent (9th), Outflank (11th), Harrying Partners (13th)
  • Abilities: deeds, inspiration, inspired finesse, inspired panache, keen recollection, phrenic dabbler, psychic meddler +4, studied combatant, studied strike +5d6, trap sense +4
  • Deeds: derring-do, dodging panache, opportune parry and riposte (1st)
  • Investigator Talents: inspired intelligence (5th), expanded inspiration (Bonus), sickening offensive (7th), effortless aid (9th), quick study (11th), combat inspiration (Bonus), repositioning strike (13th)
  • Phrenic Amplifications: defensive prognostication (3rd)
  • Psychic Class 5th-Level Spells Known (2): hold monster, mind thrust V
  • Psychic Class 4th-Level Spells Known (4): black tentacles, coordinated effort, dimension door, telekinesis
  • Psychic Class 3rd-Level Spells Known (5): chain of perdition, fly, haste, heroism, ANY ONE
  • Psychic Class 2nd-Level Spells Known (5): invisibility, mirror image, pilfering hand, suggestion, ANY ONE
  • Psychic Class 1st-Level Spells Known (6): charm person, find traps, ill omen, shield, ANY TWO
  • Psychic Class Knacks Known (6): detect magic, detect psychic significance, mage hand, prestidigitation, sift, stabilize
  • Traits: fencer, magical knack (investigator)

So, you’re likely looking at this build and thinking to yourself, “Alex, why on earth did you take teamwork feats?” The simple answer, friends, is the coordinated effort spell. This AWESOME spell allows you to pick a teamwork feat and treat all of your allies as if they had that feat so long as they’re meeting the feat’s conditions (if any) with you. For example, Outflank only works while one of my allies is flanking with me. That’s all well and good, but the real gem for this combination is Harrying Partners. Harrying Partners takes the benefit of the aid another action and makes it last SIGNIFICANTLY longer. As in “multiple attacks” longer. Combined with the fact that I’m taking effortless aid AND that Harrying Partners has no positioning requirements, I can effectively cast coordinated effort, share Harrying Partners, and use my effortless aid ability to make an aid another check to boost an ally’s attack rolls as a move action. Presto-changeo, that bonus now lasts until the start of my next turn. That means my aid another bonus on attack rolls lasts for an ENTIRE one of my allies’ full attacks. Combine this with shenanigans like the benevolent weapon property to improve the bonus that you give with aid another and things get REALLY crazy, REALLY fast. Aside from this combo, most of my feats and spells go into the same sort of things: battlefield control and buffing.

Wanna see how it ends? Let’s check out the endgame!

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: swashbuckler (inspired blade) 1, investigator (psychic detective) 19
  • Feats: Weapon Focus: rapier (Bonus), Fencing Grace (1st), Combat Reflexes (3rd), Bodyguard (5th) Extra Investigator Talent: expanded inspiration (7th), Outflank (9th), Harrying Partners (11th), Extra Investigator Talent: quick study (13th), X (15th), X (17th), X (19tH)
  • Abilities: deeds, inspiration, inspired finesse, inspired panache, keen recollection, phrenic dabbler, psychic meddler +6, studied combatant, studied strike +8d6, trap sense +6
  • Deeds: derring-do, dodging panache, opportune parry and riposte (1st)
  • Investigator Talents: inspired intelligence (5th), expanded inspiration (Bonus), sickening offensive (7th), effortless aid (9th), quick study (11th), combat inspiration (Bonus), repositioning strike (13th), amazing inspiration (15th), blinding strike (17th), greater combat inspiration: rapier (19th)
  • Phrenic Amplifications: defensive prognostication (3rd)
  • Psychic Class 6th-Level Spells Known (4): greater dispel magic, greater heroism, mind thrust VI, moment of prescience
  • Psychic Class 5th-Level Spells Known (5): communal stoneskin, hold monster, overland flight, teleport
  • Psychic Class 4th-Level Spells Known (5): black tentacles, coordinated effort, dimension door, greater invisibility, telekinesis
  • Psychic Class 3rd-Level Spells Known (6): chain of perdition, fly, haste, heroism, ANY TWO
  • Psychic Class 2nd-Level Spells Known (6): invisibility, mirror image, pilfering hand, suggestion, ANY ONE
  • Psychic Class 1st-Level Spells Known (6): charm person, find traps, ill omen, shield, ANY TWO
  • Psychic Class Knacks Known (6): detect magic, detect psychic significance, mage hand, prestidigitation, sift, stabilize
  • Traits: fencer, magical knack (investigator)

And there you have it! That’s how my psychic detective looks / will look. As always, Iconic Design be back next Friday with another all-new character. Until then, 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 also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.

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

7 Comments

  1. Alex, I loved your previous Inspired Blade/Investigator build and I love this one too! I’m finding it hard not to dip one level into Inspired Blade with every character that I make.

    Can you give a quick Attribute run-down for this build? I’ve been wavering between making a full Psychic or a Psychic Detective for my next PFS character, but having a bit of trouble with being too MAD in the Investigator build. I would like to see what you went with if possible. Thanks!

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      Sure! I use Str 8, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 12. My 4th-level ability score increase went to Dex, and all the others will go to Int.

      • Just looking at those numbers I plugged them into a point buy calculator to see where the racial stat bump went (obvious it was Dex). However if you just buy Dex 15 and Int 14 you save 1 point, and can have Str 9 (so your array looks like STR 9, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 12).

        Not really important for anything other than encumbrance, but thought I’d point it out.

        • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

          There is a serious problem with your math, and it lies in the assumption that my character is human.

          • Adam500

            Touche’ Kitsune-nut. Really any race can work for this with a small tweak to the stats (as I just proved), and my personal favorites are Elf and Half-elf for their FCB.

      • Additional, rather than a +1 to Attacks of Opportunity, why not take the Helpful trait to give an extra +1 on aid another (So +3 AC or +3 attack before Benevolent).

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