Randal Reads APG 2e: Ch 2 – Classes (part 2)

Welcome back to the continuation of the Advanced Player’s Guide special review blog! If you missed the beginning, you can find it here! We covered the Investigator and Oracle classes yesterday. Today we learn all about the Swashbuckler and the Witch!

Chapter 2 – Classes (cont’d)

Swashbuckler

  • Style (Skill, Panache)
    • Battledancer – Performance, Perform exceeds Will DC
    • Braggart – Intimidation, Demoralize
    • Fencer – Deception, Feint or Create a Diversion
    • Gymnast – Athletics, Grapple or Shove or Trip
    • Wit – Diplomacy, Bon Mot

This class has style and flair in spades. Anything you need to be Puss ‘n Boots, Dread Pirate Roberts, or even Jack Sparrow is here for you. (I could go on for days, but these jumped to mind.) I cannot recall playing a swashbuckler in 1e, and I wasn’t particularly needing the class for my 2e play either. But the more I read through the style options and class feats, the more I realized that I have built and played swashbucklers in the past … I just had them in different classes. I really liked the wide array of options these class feats had to enable a lot of builds without feeling like you are just cloning another character. The styles alone provide a solid framework for differentiating builds, but then you look at the single weapon vs dual weapon options and wether or not you focus on stances or finishers … those two choices alone offer up something like 20 varieties of swashbuckler! I like the simple implementation of panache (as a boolean you have it or you don’t) combined with the Precise Strike, but I really like the finishers. It really gives me that fencing vibe of one-two-thrust or parry-riposte-thrust from various classic swashbuckler movies (Princess Bride or Three Musketeers). The speed boosts (with or without panache!) ability to ensure damage (Confident Finisher) even when failing, to eventually getting crits on a 19 (Keen Flair; first time I have seen keen in 2e) really show how this class is shaking things up.

I am now trying to figure out which Musketeer I would end up building … I always preferred Oliver Platt’s Porthos, but I don’t know that I would play that same style. So instead, I think I will end up with a Fencer that uses a rapier and buckler, with a free hand, and likes their finishers. Buckler Expertise (1st; +2 AC) to bump that AC and prep for higher level buckler feats and Unbalancing Finisher (2nd; leaves em flat-footed) to start off. Impaling Finisher (4th; one attack, two targets) is just a cool visual and a great way to maximize bonuses. While I think Precise Finisher (6th; full damage on failed Confident Finisher) is great for that finisher, Combination Finisher (6th; lowers multiple attack penalty of finishers) is going to get more mileage out of a build with multiple finishers. It is a toss-up between Bleeding Finisher (8th; bleed damage) and Stunning Finisher (8th; varying levels of stun) but I ultimately want to side with stunning over bleed. I chose to have a buckler because I knew Buckler Dance (10th; stance, always raised) was coming up and I really like the idea, even though I think this is a very good level for choices: Derring-Do (10th; fortune when you have panache) and Targeting Finisher (10th; target extremities for specific effects). The next choice is pretty hard, not gonna lie … Cheat Death (12th; reaction to avoid knock-out or death and have 1hp) and Mobile Finisher (12; one action stride and strike) are both nice, but I would use this chance to pickup Targeting Finisher instead. Next up would be Perfect Finisher (14th; a finisher with fortune) followed by Deadly Grace (16th; double deadly dice on a crit) and then Lethal Finisher (18th; Fort save determines precision damage up to 18d6 on crit failure). As I didn’t focus on Opportune Riposte nor take Attack of Opportunity, I would likely select Panache Paragon (20th; perm quickened for Tumble Through or panache action).

Witch

  • Patron (tradition, hex, granted spell)
    • Curse – Occult, evil eye, ray of enfeeblement
    • Fate – Occult, nudge fate, true strike
    • Fervor – Divine, stoke the heart, command
    • Night – Occult, shroud of night, sleep
    • Rune – Arcane, discern secrets, magic weapon
    • Wild – Primal, wilding word, summon (choice: animal, plant or fungus)
    • Winter – Primal, clinging ice, gust of wind

I have been looking forward to the witch since 2e was announced. I completed Rise of the Runelords with a 1e witch and really want to rebuild him in 2e. But, like the 2e sorcerer, the ability to have different traditions based on your source of magic immediately creates a ton of variety and feels for the class. This fundamental change is providing a whole new space in which to grow the class and its options, which just fascinates me even more. Hexes function different to fit in with the new focus spell mechanic, and I am not sure how that feels just yet. I will need to get some more play under my belt. Evil eye and Cackle, for instance, differ greatly than before and so I need to remind myself that the new rules and mechanics require them to feel different. Witches are still the master of familiars, but I saw multiple times that feats or abilities referenced “if you have a familiar” … which implies to me a possible archetype that could remove the familiar. Other than that, reading through the class abilities isn’t surprising … reads pretty much how I remember from the playtest and pretty on par with sorcerers and wizards in regards to hit points, proficiencies, and metamagic feat options. In addition to familiars and hexes, witches have access to Lessons from their patron via feats that provide another hex and spell known, with the basic lessons at 2nd, greater at 6th, and major at 10th, 14th, and 18th (each option allows you to also select a lower level lesson).

I won’t be able to duplicate my Runelord witch, as he was archetyped and prestiged … but I did start to play a gnome witch during the witch’s playtest. His patron would be Wild, and because he was a dedicated healer he took Basic Lesson (2nd; chose Lesson of Life; life boost hex and spirit link) to assist with healing. At 4th, I didn’t care for the choices and wanted to get a prerequisite for a later feat so I chose Cauldron (1st; 4 formulas and can craft 6 per day). Witch’s Charge (6th; know direction, distance, condition of ally) is a daily use of status that also sets up a later feat. Next up is Witch’s Bottle (8th; brew a hex into a potion) which required Cauldron from earlier, followed by Major Lesson (10th; Lesson of Renewal; restorative moment hex and field of life) to expand on the healing theme. At 12th, I would drop back and take Witch’s Communion (10th; Witch’s Charge on your whole party) and then again at 14th with Hex Focus (12th; 2 Focus when refocusing). Next up would require more thought, as I would need to go through my spell list and what I use regularly, because Effortless Concentration (16th; one free action to Sustain a Spell each round) is great, but I kinda want the other Major Lesson (10th; Lesson of Death; curse of death hex and raise dead) in case things go bad. The next two choices are easy with Hex Wellspring (18th; 3 focus points when refocusing) as he isn’t offensive and Witch’s Hut (20th; AN ANIMATED WITCH’S HUT) because he is a gnome and it is AN ANIMATED WITCH’S HUT!


The new classes are out of the way, so tomorrow I will start reading about new options for old classes!
And, as always, please join us at our Discord server https://discord.gg/Rt79BAj to let me know what you think or simply have a chat!

Randal Meyer

As a lover of crunch (rules and numbers), Randal is always tinkering with rules options. His love of magic users has led him to always fuss with the mechanics of magic and magic items. Years of GMing on the fly have given him vast amounts of ideas and content from which to draw on for adventures (ideas, plots, NPCs). When not working, playing with his kids, bowling, or running a PF campaign, Randal is likely writing some new mobile web app (http://halfmugtavern.blog) to enhance the experience of playing Pathfinder!