Iconic Design: Dex + Cha = … Magus?!

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 an iconic design for kitsune magi.

The kitsune are PFS playable! The kitsune are PFS playable!


Sorry, but between the number of times I’ve used kitsune on Iconic Design and the fact that I wrote the Kitsune Compendium, you should be getting used to my addiction to this race by now. Now, I know I’m late to talking about this (about two months, actually), but I’m super excited that one of my favorite races is available for everyone to play with in Pathfinder Society. Believe it or not, but my first Pathfinder Society character is/was a kitsune. As the soothsayers predicted, I built myself a kitsune swashbuckler for Pathfinder Society, though my swashbuckler is a tappenyaki chef from New Amanandar with the flying knife archetype, so he throws his knives at people and then cooks their sometimes-tender flesh into succulent meals for my party to enjoy.

But contrary to popular belief, the swashbuckler isn’t the ONLY way to play the kitsune while capitalizing on its good Dex and Charisma stats! Don’t believe me? Well, that’s what today’s Iconic Design is for.

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: Magus (Eldritch Scion) 7
  • Feats: Weapon Finesse (1st), Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Wakizashi (3rd), Weapon Focus: wakizashi (Bonus), Extra Arcana (Arcane Deed) (5th), Piranha Attack (7th),
  • Abilities: Bloodline (Fey), Bloodline Abilities (Confusing Critical, Leaping Charge), Bonus Spells (entangle), Eldritch Pool (Cha + 3), Magus Arcana (Arcane Accuracy, Arcane Deed: Precise Strike, Flamboyant Arcana), Medium Armor, Spell Combat, Spellstrike

If you don’t have the Advanced Class Guide yet, the Eldritch Scion is a magus archetype that changes the Int-based class into a Charisma-based one. You get to pick a Bloodrager bloodline and you can spend your arcane pool points (now called an eldritch pool) to activate them. It’s a very cool archetype; one of my favorites, as a matter of fact.

Now, for the kitsune build we’re going to want to capitalize on the character’s Dexterity and Charisma. I’m opting to use a wakizashi for flavor, personally. If you want to save yourself the feat, use a rapier instead. Now, I really want to maximize my damage here, so I’m taking flamboyant arcana at 3rd level and arcane deed at 5th level using Extra Arcana. Arcane deed allows me to select one swashbuckler deed of my choice to benefit from, as long as I’m high enough level to choose it. Naturally, I chose precise strike, which lets me add my magus level on damage rolls with my wakizashi. At 7th level, I also pick up Piranha Attack for more baseline damage. (Note, if you decide to use a rapier Piranha Attack will do NOTHING for you. Sorry.)

Without worrying about arcane strike, I get to deal an extra +7 damage from precise strike and an extra +4 damage from Piranha Attack (it is basically Power Attack, but it only works for light weapons like the wakizashi). This is some nice damage even without adding in Spellstrike!

The big reason I picked a wakizashi was for the fey bloodline’s 1st-level power. Essentially, the character can inflict the confused condition upon someone he critically hits. The leaping charger bloodline power is another excellent one, as it allows my character to ignore difficult terrain when he changes. Finally, I get heinous laughter as a magus spell, which works nicely with my racial bonus on enchantment spell save DCs. Let’s see what else I get in the mid levels!

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: Magus (Eldritch Scion) 14
  • Feats: Weapon Finesse (1st), Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Wakizashi (3rd), Weapon Focus: wakizashi (Bonus), Extra Arcana (Arcane Deed) (5th), Piranha Attack (7th), Arcane Strike (9th), Weapon Specialization (Bonus), Combat Reflexes (Bonus), Riving Strike (11th), Intensify Spell (13th)
  • Abilities: Bloodline (Fey), Bloodline Abilities (Blurring Movement, Confusing Critical, Leaping Charge, Quickling Bloodrage), Bonus Spells (entangle, heinous laughter, haste, confusion), Fighter Training, Eldritch Pool (Cha + 7), Heavy Armor, Improved Spell Combat, Magus Arcana (Arcane Accuracy, Arcane Deed: Evasive, Arcane Deed: Menacing Swordplay, Arcane Deed: Precise Strike, Flamboyant Arcana), Medium Armor, Spell Combat, Spell Recall, Spellstrike.

In the mid-levels, my build starts to pick up some fun tricks. I’m a bit fan of Arcane Strike, as it lets me add extra damage to my attacks when I’m not worried about hitting my opinions. Riving Strike is a sweet feat from the Advanced Class Guide that causes any creature I strike with Arcane Strike to suffer a –2 penalty on saves versus spells and spell-like abilities for 1 round. With spell combat, this means I can take my full attack first and then cast a spell after I’ve inflicted this penalty upon my target. Or if there are other casters in the group, I’ve made my target all the squishier for them.

Arcane Deed is an awesome arcane aside from grabbing Precise Strike. At 12th level, I used this deed to pick up evasive, which gives my magus evasion, uncanny dodge, and improved uncanny dodge. I also used it to pick up menacing swordplay, which allows my magus to demoralize a target he’s struck in combat with his wakizashi as a swift action. Looking at my fey bloodline, blurring movement is an awesome ability that gives attacks that target my magus a miss chance if he’s moved at least 10 feet during his turn and quickling bloodrage causes my magus to gain a constant haste effect while in his eldritch focus. Yeah, that’s right. Haste. Amazing. Finally, I end the mid levels by picking up the all-important Intensify Spell. You might want to bump back Arcane Strike and Riving Strike in order to pick this feat up sooner (because its THAT good for the magus), but that’s more of a personal choice than anything else.

Now, let’s move on and finish the build!

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: Magus (Eldritch Scion) 20
  • Feats: Weapon Finesse (1st), Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Wakizashi (3rd), Weapon Focus: wakizashi (Bonus), Extra Arcana (Arcane Deed) (5th), Piranha Attack (7th), Arcane Strike (9th), Weapon Specialization (Bonus), Combat Reflexes (Bonus), Riving Strike (11th), Intensify Spell (13th), Spontaneous Metafocus: Shocking Grasp (15th), Greater Weapon Focus (Bonus), Spell Penetration (17th), Greater Spell Penetration (19th)
  • Abilities: Bloodline (Fey), Bloodline Abilities (Blurring Movement, Confusing Critical, Leaping Charge, Quickling Bloodrage, One with Nature, Fury of the Fey), Bonus Spells (entangle, heinous laughter, haste, confusion), Counter Strike Eldritch Pool (Cha + 10), Fighter Training, Greater Spell Access, Greater Spell Combat, Heavy Armor, Improved Spell Combat, Magus Arcana (Arcane Accuracy, Arcane Deed: Evasive, Arcane Deed: Menacing Swordplay, Arcane Deed: Precise Strike, Broad Study, Enduring Blade, Flamboyant Arcana), Medium Armor, Spell Combat, Spell Recall, Spellstrike, True Magus.

And here’s the end of the build. Not much has changed, to be honest. You can sort of see me running out of must-have feats towards the end of the build. For deeds, I grabbed broad study and enduring blade. For broad study (and greater spell access), I would just end up picking some decent enchantment spells to use with my kitsune racial bonus and riving strike ability. Enduring blade allows my arcane points to stretch a little farther with the weapon enchants, which is what I need considering the number of points I will likely spend on swashbuckler deeds.

The nice thing about the eldritch scion is that I get both true magus and my bloodline’s capstone ability. For the fey bloodline, whenever I attain eldritch focus I get the bane ability against one type of creature as my choice. That’s RIDICULOUSLY awesome. Overall, I like this build because it gives you a lot without taking away much in return. Specifically, you end up loosing improved spell recall and knowledge pool by 20th level, but that’s about it. Most of what this class does is delays your abilities until later levels. I’m willing to sit with that, personally.

Well, that’s all I have to say for my kitsune eldritch scion. What do you think? Is this a build that you would try out? If not, why? What would you change this build’s race to if you were playing it? Leave your answers and comments below and I’ll see you next week for another Iconic Design!

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 eldritch scion, and his favorite bloodrager bloodline is the fey bloodline. So far, anyway.

Edit 10/25/14: Originally I had this build taking Extra Arcane Pool at 15th level instead of Spontaneous Metafocus. I forgot that adding a metamagic feat to a spell increases the spell’s casting time for a spontaneous spellcaster. Although you can still cast an intensified shocking grasp without this feat, you couldn’t do so during a spell combat action without it, so I replaced Extra Arcane Pool with Spontaneous Metafocus: shocking grasp. Thanks to Michael P. for pointing this out!

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 http://www.everybodygames.net, or support him personally on Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/eversagarpg.


  1. Darrell Vin Zant Reply to Darrell

    I’d probably go Halfling or Gnome, if only because I tend to stick to the Core races. I’m not sure I’d ever play this type of magus, but that’s largely because I have a long list of magi builds I’d like to play first. I see the Magus as one of the most fun and flavorful classes in the game; as a bonus, it also fulfills many of the ‘hero’ characters from media well. Many heroes are able to wield weapon and spell to equally effective result, and the Magus pulls this off to astonishing effectiveness.

    Plus, you can go down a none-traditional route and still make a damned good Magus. For example, I’m currently building a magus that focuses on unarmed strikes, which goes against the norm of wanting a high crit range for spell strikes. This lets me make a much more ‘mystical monk’ character who can still pull off many of the monk tricks through spells like feather fall, jump, or haste. In addition, he can punch people with Fireballs, which is a win in my book.

    • Darrell Vin Zant Reply to Darrell

      Oh, forgot to mention, Halflings would make a great little combo with the Eldritch Scion Magus because of that sweet, sweet Risky Striker feat they have. Considering Piranha Strike doesn’t have the option for a 3:1 return like Power Attack, Risky Striker is strictly better as long as you are fighting large size or larger creatures.

  2. Is there a clarification of the effective swashbuckler level for the deeds yet? I might have missed it but the deed technically doesn’t give you a swashbuckler level for precise strike to scale off of, even though you can take it.

  3. Tayse McAusem Reply to Tayse

    Most the time I don’t believe in destiny, but this was posted on the same day I was building a magus and except for your race choice was everything I was looking into doing. Thanks

  4. I’m actually building a 3rd lvl Kitsune Magus now. I was thinking similar to your idea for the Eldritch Scion Kitsune build, but I’m using the Abyssal bloodline, and I’m probably going to just use a rapier or a scimitar, get the Natural Spell Combat arcana, and full attacking with 2 claws and a bite. Since natural weapons are light, would Piranha Strike work well?

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      Abyssal Bloodline isn’t great for the Eldritch Scion, specifically because of Abyssal Bloodrage. Since your mystic stance ability doesn’t actually give you bloodrage’s benefits, Abyssal Bloodrage is VERY weak and arguably does nothing for you. Plus gaining two claws when you plan on focusing around a scimitar / rapier isn’t a great choice, and even as a bloodrager the Abyssal Bloodline is based around boosting you Strength. Why focus on Dexterity at that point?

  5. You said you pick up intensify spell, but to use it as a spontaneous caster increases the casting time of the spell beyond the limits of spell combat.
    Look up spontaneous casters and meta magic. There is a feat called spontaneous meta magic or something that negates it per spell I believe.

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      While its true that you couldn’t use an intensified shocking grasp during a spell combat, there isn’t anything that is preventing you from using this metamagic feat when simply casting the spell. Its still a valuable feat to the magus, but not nearly as valuable as it would be if you had taken Spontaneous Metafocus. As a result, I’ve updated the article’s feats to reflect this and added a note at the end of the article. Thanks for the heads up!

  6. I started looking at the Eldritch Scion when I wanted to build a Courtesan assassin/spy type build. The idea was I wanted her to be able to be effective with little to no gear. No armor, so DEX was important. High social situations, so CHA was important. I liked the idea of the eldritch scion, honestly, because it got rid of the spellbook. Then noticed the CHA swap, and was sold on it. I then started thinking about the combat capabilities, and looked at the Kapenia Dancer as well. With it, it got her an interesting weapon that could be hidden/part of her attire. It got her INT to AC, which with Eldritch Scion, ultimately became CHA to AC, which is just awesome, and stacks with DEX to AC. I was going to go with Slashing Grace, to get my dex (+3) to damage – but after reading this write-up, I may move toward Arcane Deed (Precise Strike) instead. It would take an extra arcana to get there at 3rd level, but will scale much higher than slashing grace would.

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