Guidance — Playing 101: A Vigilante By Any Other Name

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 talking about vigilantes, and playing them differently.

Alright, so its basically October. That means that Pathfinder’s newest base class has been officially live for roughly six months now. Which is great—barring a few poor archetypes, the vigilante is an awesome class and people should be playing it. But do you know what’s weird?

I NEVER see the vigilante in PFS. NEVER. I think there’s one other person besides me who’s playing one actively (and granted, we both play our vigilantes in bits and pieces). Ergo, there aren’t many vigilantes in PFS.

Why?! Why wouldn’t you play the vigilante in PFS? Well, instead of just shout incoherently at the sky, I asked a few people at Gen Con (specifically people who sat at my table to get wrecked by ratfolk) why they wouldn’t play a vigilante, and I generally got three answers:

1) I am currently invested in a different character.

2) Vigilantes aren’t good in PFS because of dual identity.

3) Half of a vigilante’s powers are social abilities that I don’t want.

That first reason is pretty legit—not going to knock being invested in something else. But those other two? TIME TO KNOCK THEM DOWN, FRIENDS!

Tony Stark Had It Right

Whenever the PDT talked about the vigilante and its role in PFS, one thing kept getting restated over and over again. “Well, I guess you’d just play in your vigilante identity all the time.” This seems to be the stance that most people take, which means that every odd level is an ability you probably wouldn’t use unless you found the time to switch your identity around.

So, um, question. If you were only going to play in one of your two identities, why would you only play in the vigilante identity? Especially when there is absolutely no penalty to playing only in the social one. Don’t believe me? Well, its true. According to dual identity AND vigilante specialization, you have all of your vigilante identity powers and abilities in your social identity—you simply have a chance to “expose” that your social identity is more than it seems, aka you can associate one with the other.

So, if you don’t care about PFS, wouldn’t you just go public with your vigilante powers like Tony Stark? Aka use them all the time in social identity? Think about it—you don’t have your social identity talents in vigilante identity, but you have both your social talents AND your vigilante talents in your vigilante identity. Ergo, just never leave your social identity. You’ll have all of your powers, all the time, and you’ll never have to worry about half of your abilities turning “off” in PFS.

The Antisocial Vigilante

The second reason, “I don’t want these social powers,” is sort of a weird one, if you ask me. When you get right down to it, just how many of the vigilante’s talent choices revolve around being social? Even the social graces talent, arguably one of the most potent of all, doesn’t necessarily require you to be social—after all, it lets you pick any Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma-based skill that isn’t Perception or Use Magic Device. You can pick Knowledge skills for identifying enemies, or Sense Motive checks for figuring out when foes are lying to you. One of the nastier combos that you can do is pick Intimidate—sure, it’s a social skill, but it is also used for demoralizing foes, and the stalker vigilante has some AMAZING demoralize-focused tricks. And with the edition of Spymaster’s Handbook, you can even pick some neat feats as social talents, or reduce the time it takes you to switch between your social and vigilante identities (because let’s face it, it’s the time needed to switch that makes you unsure of whether or not you want to play this class).

Its impossible for me to say if the vigilante is the perfect class for you. No class is perfect. But the fundamental mechanics of the vigilante aren’t broken—it is perfectly plausible to play one in any campaign setting, even Pathfinder Society, without feeling like you’re losing half of your abilities. If anything, the only thing you have to choose whether or not to keep is whether or not you switch identities. And mechanically speaking, that is actually an EXTREMELY small part of the class that is very easy to mechanically ignore if you don’t want to be bothered with it.

So if the vigilante’s talents and abilities look fun to you, I say give it a try and just be Jack Fancypants, the noble with a can of whoop@$$!

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 Alexs 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

3 Comments

  1. The Decemverate are basically all vigilantes in their vigilante identity, right?

  2. I love vigilante class! I’m planning to make a skinwalker who shift only in the vigilante identity

  3. I brought a vigilante to a tier 7-11 scenario, and the GM remarked that I was the only player that had an actual dedicated character of the class. That was kind of baffling, especially considering the Twin cities area is one of the most populated PFS areas in the US.

    I’ve got an Avenger Vigilante who’s a ton of fun to play, one who uses Fist of the Avenger and Lethal Grace to hit surprisingly hard with Snake Style. Funny enough, Social Grace means that I actually perform BETTER in my Social identity, considering my bonuses to Sense Motive and Disguise.

    It’s pretty fun having a character who’s fully invested in every social skill BUT diplomacy.

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