Guidance – Alex’s Top 10: Favorite Core/Base Class Archetypes from the ACG

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 some of the best of the Advanced Class Guide archetypes.

As I’m writing this article, I am getting ready to start a new campaign for my players so I sadly have little time to talk about some big, earth realigning topic or whatever. However, the Advanced Class Guide just came out and boy, is it awesome! I’m going to quickly talk about ten of my favorite archetypes for the core and base classes that are in this book. Unlike other articles, these will be in no particular order. Ready? Here we go!

Eldritch Scion (Magus)

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m not a fan of prepared spellcasting. I get frustrated when I have the ability to cast a certain spell but I chose not to prepare it for the day. So when they announced the eldritch scion, I was pleased. This archetype looks almost exactly like one that Rogue Genius Games put out a few years ago: it is a spellcasting magus who gains access to a bloodline. Unlike the RGGs version, however, the eldritch scion doesn’t get a sorcerer bloodline. He gains a bloodrager bloodline, and that is MUCH better for the magus. See, all of the bloodrager bloodlines are balanced around the assumption that you will be partaking in martial combat where the sorcerer bloodlines are more magical in use. Now, the eldritch scion can’t bloodrage. Instead he enters a mystic state of focus using his arcane pool to gain the benefits of his bloodline.

All in all, this is a well thought out archetype that fills a void that I feel was missing. I am excited to see an archetype that replaces prepared spellcasting for spontaneous spellcasting and even though I prefer spontaneous, I hope that means we can see other archetypes for the 6-level spellcasters that do the same. I would love to see an inquisitor who needs to pray for her spells or a bard who carries around a book filled with songs and stories to prepare his spells. Only time will tell, I guess.

Sanctified Slayer (Inquisitor)

One of my least favorite things about the inquisitor is judgment. I don’t really have a problem with the mechanics except for the 1/day bit. Especially at low levels, I always feel like I am making a mistake whenever I use (or don’t use) my judgment. Now I don’t need to make that decision anymore because the sacred slayer trades all of the judgment-based abilities for studied strike, a sneak attack damage progression that is similar to the slayer’s, and a small number of slayer talents at high levels. When I talked about archetype design, I mentioned that one of the hallmark trades is moving from general abilities to specific abilities. This is a perfect example of that concept. Judgment is normally a very versatile ability and the sanctified slayer trades it for very specific benefits: bonuses to attack and damage.

This is up there with the lore warden as one of my favorite archetypes. I actually completely scrapped one of my earlier character designs and rebuilt him as a sacred slayer because this archetype literally does everything I ever wanted for this build. (I will be showing off the build I am referring to next week, if you are curious.)

Bolt Ace (Gunslinger)

Like the Eldritch Scion, the bolt ace archetype takes a lot of liberties with what it means to be a gunslinger. In the case of the bolt ace, it trades all of the firearms-based stuff for crossbows. I love this archetype because it redefines what it means to be a gunslinger. Sort of. It takes the idea of “this is a gritty gun-based hero” and says, “Now, wait a minute. What is the soul of the gunslinger, here? Is it the guns, or is it the grit?” This archetype tells us that it is, in fact, the grit.

This archetype does have its downsides. For one, it doesn’t stack with the mysterious stranger, which I would have liked personally. This archetype does, however, make me excited for the possibilities of other types of gunslingers. In fact, I would LOVE to see a sling-based gunslinger because slings get absolutely no love. We could call it the stone slinger! Gosh, maybe I should go off and write that….

Dares (Gunslinger)

This isn’t an archetype, but it needs to be mentioned. Dares are these interesting little deeds that gunslingers and swashbucklers can take. In order to take a dare, you have to trade a feat for one.

Now, it isn’t 100% obvious as to how they function, but the gist of it is that these dares activate whenever you run out of grit or panache and they give you a special benefit of some sort. In addition to that benefit, the dare provides a relatively easy way for you to regain a point of grit or panache. The concept is awesome, but the rules are a little flimsy. For example, I’m not entirely sure if I can use a dare all the time while I’m out of grit or if it only works for one round. I’m also not sure if I can use the grit regaining scenario each time I run out of grit or if it’s a once-per-day thing only. The rules imply both at times, but it isn’t ever really said. I’m expecting an FAQ on the topic in the future and when they’re cleared up, they are going to be an absolutely AWESOME addition to the grit / panache users out there!

Martial Master (Fighter)

Whoever said that fighters can’t have nice things did not read the Advanced Class Guide. The martial master is an AWESOME archetype. It replaces weapon training and weapon mastery for the brawler’s martial flexibility, though the progression of when you get additional feats added is reduced accordingly. This does, however, mean that your fighter can now spend a swift action to gain even more feats. By 20th level, you can have up to 5 extra feats at once, giving you a total of 26 feats (plus one more if you are human). I don’t even know what I would do with that many feats!

What makes this archetype extra delicious, however, is that it stacks with the lore warden archetype. Since lore warden gives you Combat Expertise for free, one of my favorite tricks with this archetype mash up is using martial flexibility to gain combat maneuver feats that you do not have but want to use during a combat. You could, for example, special in the trip maneuver but decide in a combat that you’d really like to make a dirty trick, so you use this feat to gain Improved Dirty Trick and you’re golden! Or better still, at 9th level you take Improved Dirty Trick and Quick Dirty Trick, or maybe Greater Dirty Trick. This ability alone gives a lot of power to the fighter and while it has its costs (losing weapon training and weapon mastery will impact your DPR significantly), in my head this seems like an awesomely fun build to try and play with.

Nature Fang (Druid)

Heralding back to what I had said about 1/day abilities, some people don’t like wild shape for that very reason too. Well, this archetype trades all of the nature-based abilities that the druid gets for studied strike, sneak attack, and slayer talents all like a slayer. Now, the difference between a druid slayer and an actual slayer is that the druid cannot target multiple creatures with her studied target. Ever. Unlike the sanctified slayer, though, the nature fang gets access to a decent number of slayer talents. Its almost the same progression as the slayer, actually: 4th level and every 2 levels thereafter.

Some of you may be wondering, “Well, if I only lose one talent but gain full druid spellcasting, why would I want to be a slayer?” Well, as I mentioned, the druid can’t target multiple creatures and needs to wait two levels later to get studied target as a swift action. Additionally, the druid has a worse base attack bonus than the slayer, meaning less attacks at a lower bonus. Also, this archetype doesn’t replace the druid’s weapon and armor proficiencies, so the druid doesn’t have many weapons to work with outside of what she already gets unless she takes Martial Weapon Proficiency. Finally, the druid’s spellcasting doesn’t really complement a martial warrior very well, although a nature fang who wields shillelagh for studied strike is very, very cool. And terrifying.

Quickly, friends. Get me a quickened spell!

Daring Champion (Cavalier)

What if the iconic swashbuckler and the iconic cavalier had a kid? Well, I don’t know how Alain would feel about it, but you can bet that said kid would grow up and take the daring champion class! This archetype trades away the cavalier’s mount, which we can always use more trading of, for the swashbuckler’s finesse ability. Sure, its called something different, but it is the same ability. The daring champion also gains the swashbuckler’s weapon and armor proficiency, the swashbuckler’s nimble ability, and panache plus a handful of select swashbuckler deeds. In all, this is the awesome King Henry IV archetype that I was dying for.

Mongrel Mage (Sorcerer)

This archetype is hard to describe. Essentially, the sorcerer looses her bloodline and all of its benefit in exchange for a mongrel reservoir. Essentially, each day she chooses one bloodline and gains the ability to spend points from her reservoir to temporarily gain the bloodline’s powers. So you trade always having a bloodline’s benefit for having whatever bloodline you want on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, each day when the mongrel mage chooses her bloodline, she gains her bloodline’s spells as she levels up. They come in big clusters (whenever she would have normally gotten a bloodline feat) but still, having that level of flexibility over your spells known is pretty impressive.

I don’t think that this is going to be the most popular bloodline out there. You lose a lot of specialization for your versatility (bloodline feats, for example, plus having bloodline spells on a slower progression). That said, it is very cool and when used by someone who is much better at preparation then I am, you could be quite powerful with this archetype.

Divine Tracker (Ranger)

If you picked up Inner Sea Combat, you will LOVE this archetype. First, the ranger worships a deity and has alignment restrictions as such. Second, the ranger gets free weapon proficiency with his deity’s favored weapon, or Improved Unarmed Strike at the cost of wild empathy. Finally, the ranger trades hunter’s bond for blessings, like a warpriest but on a bit of a delay. This archetype meshes so perfectly with the deific weapon styles from Inner Sea Combat that it isn’t funny. If you run a home campaign setting, you need to start thinking about ranger combat styles for your deity, because its officially a thing now.

Hooded Champion (Ranger)

This ranger archetype trades favored enemy for panache, like a swashbuckler. You gain panache only while using a bow, however. This archetype boils down to being Robin Hood. The hooded champion gains fewer deeds than the swashbuckler and the class doesn’t get anything to replace the higher tiers of Favored Enemy, but the flavor, man. The flavor is in this class. I absolutely adore the Hooded Champion and you can bet that I will do a full Robin Hood breakdown sometime in the future with this archetype.

And those are 10 of my favorite archetypes from the Advanced Class Guide! What did you think? Are there any Base or Core class archetypes that you would have put on here that I didn’t? What classes / archetypes from the new book are you looking forward to playing? Leave your questions and responses below and I’ll see you next week!

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, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune wind fang, and he dreams of smashing faces with shillelagh.

Alex Augunas

Alexander "Alex" Augunas is an author and behavioral health worker living outside of Philadelphia in the United States. He has contributed to gaming products published by Paizo, Inc, Kobold Press, Legendary Games, Raging Swan Press, Rogue Genius Games, and Steve Jackson Games, as well as the owner and publisher of Everybody Games (formerly Everyman Gaming). At the Know Direction Network, he is the author of Guidance and a co-host on Know Direction: Beyond. You can see Alex's exploits at, or support him personally on Patreon at


  1. I would have liked to see the Primal Companion Hunter on the list. Crazy good.

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      This article was limited to the Core and Base classes. I didn’t mention any of the new hybrid classes on this list. One of the tricks of blogging is to always leave breadcrumbs for another article. 😉

  2. Darrell Vin Zant Reply to Darrell

    Sacred Warpriest. It’s like a Monk on steroids.
    Flurry? Check.
    Increased US Damage? Check.
    Wisdom to AC? Check.
    6th level spell casting? Check.
    Blessings? Check.

    It’s a really good archetype, and also really bad for one of my favorite classes, the Monk. The Brawler is supposed to be the superior non-mystic Monk, and the Sacred Fist makes a superior Mystic Monk.

    Also, the Counterfeit Mage for the Rogue I think is really cool. The whole false spellcaster schtick is something I think needs more support in this game.

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