Randal Reads Dark Archive Playtest – Thaumaturge Feats

Welcome to the conclusion of the Dark Archive (Playtest) special review blog! If you missed the beginning, you can find it here. Yesterday I read the Thaumaturge class features. Today, I finish up with a deep dive into the Thaumaturge’s feats.


After reading through the class features, it is apparent that this class is not the roguish skill based class that I had kind fo expected. It is certainly no fighter, but for this class to work it will need to ensure that all of the tricks that it has up its sleeves are good enough to keep up with the other classes. The core options laid out by the implements offer many different styles of play within this class. The antithesis is nice, the implements look fun, but these feats are going to make or break this class.

Thaumaturge Feats

1st Level

Binding Oath – You can swear an oath, sealed by Supernatural power that provides a bonus to Request or Coerce. It is usable once per day originally, but as your proficiency in the magic tradition skills improves, you can perform the oath more frequently: 2x at Expert, 3x at Master, unlimited at Legendary. This has a nice flavor with a simple mechanic. I approve.

Divine Disharmony – You use two opposing religious symbols to deceive or intimidate a foe, with a bonus against devoted creatures (cleric, celestial, fiend, etc). Success makes them flat-footed based on degree. Pretty simple ability for a “fun” action that has lots of flavor.

Esoteric Lore – Ok, ok. Bardic lore, but for esoteric Recall Knowledge. This is good stuff.

Familiar – Hey, why not, you are neck deep in magic, why not have a familiar? I mean, Dresden had a cat and a skull (the description for chalice mentions using a skull).

Haunt Cunning – Always count as Searching for Haunts in Exploration mode, you can disable them better, and if you have a Lantern you get bonuses against them. This is cool, I always like seeing these abilities that confer an “automatic” Exploration Mode activity.

Root to Life – Stabilize cantrip, but less about the spell and more about the “spirit”. You can also attempt to remove persistent damage on them when you stabilize them. This flavor is great, the mechanic is simple, and it is new.

Scroll Thaumaturgy – You can use scrolls from any tradition. This is Scroll Trickster, but better … potentially pretty huge. It depends on how frequently you come across scrolls in your game, but not needing to worry about tradition is awesome.

So far, I think these options all have their place and I can see uses for them. I think I lean towards Scroll Thaumaturgy as the more likely to be useful to all.

2nd Level

Call Implement – Yes. Nice, simple, important for an object that is integral to your character … and still possibly leads to a plot/story/quest. Seems in line with most other features like this.

Enhanced Familiar – If you have a familiar, you might want to make it better.

Esoteric Warden – Success at your Find Flaws Recall Knowledge provides you a bonus to AC or a save against that creature’s next attack (+1, or +2 on Critical). Once a day per creature. If you have built around Find Flaws, this is a nice rider that you will probably benefit from often.

Talisman Esoterica – You can use your esoterica to create temporary talismans every day. This is basically the talisman dabbler archetype without the commitment. It is also perfect for this class.

Once again, I think each feat makes sense and none are truly *better* options than the other, but have their place in different builds. I think Call Implement is likely goto for Weapon implement user, but I really like the Talisman Esoterica.

4th Level

Draw Warding Circle – This 10 ft circle has a simple mechanic, a creature that is your antithesis must make a Will save to pass through. Oh Yeah, I keep getting excited reading new feats I wanna use!

Pact of Fey Glamour – [Uncommon] Daily use of illusory disguise (primal) in exchange for offering hospitality to fey, under penalty of atonement. This is a clever rider that I fully approve of.

One More Activation – As the name, you can activate an item after using all its activations. Limitation of once per day, item level half yours, and you can’t use an item twice a round. I know some non-thaumaturges that would love this … side-eyes wands.

Thaumaturgic Ritualist – [Uncommon] Learn two rituals of half your level, and a new one every 4 levels. You can never teach these to anybody. Another archetype (Ritualist) that is perfect to have included as options in this class without the commitment.

Turn Away Misfortune – A reaction that you can use to cancel out a Misfortune effect? You know by now about my love of having options for reactions. Sign. Me. Up.

Man, I really can’t pick a favorite here. I would have to see which one best fits my build. That aside, One More Activation is likely my goto / first choice.

6th Level

Handy Esoterica – Prescient Planner and Prescient Consumable, and only two actions to pull out of your pack instead of 1 minute.

Scroll Esoterica – 2nd in Scroll chain. Daily you can create a temp 1st-level scroll of any tradition, adding a 2nd-level scroll at 8th level. Scroll Thaumaturgy and Scroll Esoterica are basically Scroll Trickster archetype feats.

Rule of Three – It can be part of Find Flaws, but not always. The 2nd and 3rd time you use it (single action, targets esoteric antithesis) you gain a bonus to attack and it becomes flat-footed. This little twist on Sustain a Spell for increased benefit is nifty. 

Certainly if you bought into scrolls, that is your first choice, but a melee focused character will likely take Rule of Three. I really like the fun / utility of Handy Esoterica, though.

8th Level

Elaborate Talisman Esoterica – 4 Talismans instead of two. Matches up with the archetype.

Incredible Familiar – 6 abilities instead of 4. Same as the 10th level Familiar Master feat.

Know-it-all – You gain additional information from successful Knowledge checks. This leaves a lot up to the GM, which is nice to see, but tricky in PFS. Also, it says “Knowledge” checks and not Recall Knowledge, which opens it up to both more utility and more discussion.

Pact of Infernal Prowess – [Uncommon] Daily reroll a critical failure, and always succeed at lower level income checks. For the low-low price of … your soul. Even includes text that you can’t retrain w/o destroying the contract. Perfect. And the uncommon is certainly needed to require a conversation with your GM, and likely to keep this out of PFS.

Sympathetic Weakness – This allows your extra damage for exploiting a weakness to also apply to other creatures with the same weakness.

Two options that expand feat chains, two that really require work with the GM, but the final seems to be a good all around option.

10th Level

Share Antithesis – With an action, you can share your antithesis weakness with an adjacent ally.

Thaumaturge’s Investiture – Not surprised to see this, was surprised to see it so high level at first, but then read the content. Incredible Investiture, but with bumps based on your Charisma, up to a total of 20 items!

Twin Weakness – You get to apply weakness from esoteric antithesis twice.

These are all decent options that will certainly depend on the type of build you have going.

12th Level

Elaborate Scroll Esoterica – The next feat in the scroll chain … allowing up to 5th level scrolls eventually.

Pact of the Final Breath – [Uncommon] This pact is as flavorful and on theme as the first. You live twice as long, and you get a daily dose of “not dying” (when you would gain dying, you instead heal a little and get fast healing). In exchange, you must respect the dead (last rites and such) and fight undead (within reason). I feel like the Winchesters had this one in play.

Quick Circle – A Warding Circle in 3 actions instead of a minute. Makes sense when you have done it enough times.

Thaumaturge’s Demesne – [Uncommon] Oh yeah, everybody fighting occult things needs a place they can have warded. This allows you to ward 200 sq ft of uncontested space with 3 unseen custodians and an elemental sentinel.

Ok, These are some pretty good choices. I want to say I would always do the Demesne, but I can see builds that the other three would benefit.

14th Level

Esoteric Reflexes – If your implement gives you a reaction, you get an extra reaction each round usable only for that purpose. I do like reaction options …

Grand Talisman Esoterica – The next talisman feat, upping your count to 6 a day.

Shared Warding – Esoteric Warding bonuses now ally to allies within 30 ft.

This is the first level where I wasn’t full with ideas about how to use the feats. They have their place, but this could be a dead level if you happen to not have an open “chain” … though I could happily pick up another 12th if that wound up being the case for me.

16th Level

Implausible Esoterica – Prescient Planner (grab previously undeclared non-magical item out of your bag when you need it), but a lot, and supercharged with some magical consumables.

Implement’s Flight – Heh, fly speed as long as you have your implement in hand. They mention broom, or pestle, but it also allows for Thor’s style of flight by twirling a weapon around!

Sever Magic – This action ability lets you Strike, and if you deal damage, you may attempt a counteract on a spell.

Trespass Teleportation – Oh, wow. This is nifty. If your esoteric antithesis is active, and they teleport away, you can use this reaction to teleport along with them. And there is no limit or duration, other than your antithesis is active … so you can play out some portal chase fantasy tropes with this one.

Ok, This is not a dead level at all. Flight is likely my goto option, but depending on the build Teleportation or Sever Magic are pretty strong. Implausible Esoterica is solid, if you are following that chain, but not quite the pop the others have.

18th Level

Grand Scroll Esoterica – The final Scroll feat, allowing scrolls up to 7th at 20th-level.

Implement’s Assault – A 3 action ability to attack all foes within 30 ft of you.

Intense Implement – You can upgrade another implement to adept. Good to see you have this option.

These options don’t grab me, but they have their place. If, for some reason, my build didn’t need one, I will happily grab another 16th.

20th Level

Ubiquitous Antithesis – Share Antithesis with all allies in 30 ft.

Unlimited Demesne – Oh, fun. Once a day you summon your demesne, adding the benefits of resplendent mansion.

Wonder Worker – Once a day, you can cast any spell of 8th or lower in a tradition you have Legendary for the associated skill.

I would need to play through a campaign to know if the first of these is preferable to having that spell in my back pocket. But, who am I kidding, my first character with have a demesne.

This wraps up my coverage of the Dark Archive playtest classes. I want to thank you for reading along with me, and remind you that you have until October 29th, 2021 to submit your surveys. You can find links to the pdfs and surveys here. Go give them a try and help shape their final forms!

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 endless ideas and content from which to draw on for adventures (ideas, plots, NPCs). When not working, gaming, or playing with his kids, Randal is likely working on improving Sage (his Discord bot for immersive play-by-post gaming that you can see in action on Know Direction's Discord in the Know Direction Societous PFS channels) over at https://www.patreon.com/rpgsage!