ATTENTION! I will no longer be updating the guide on this page! It’s gotten way too big. Here’s the link to the most updated version of the guide:
Races of Pathfinder: An Optimization Guide
There are guides to many of the classes in Pathfinder, but the Guide to the Guides is conspicuously missing a guide to all of the myriad races of the game.
Here’s a link to the discussion of this guide on Paizo.com: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2p7m6?Cartmanbecks-Guide-to-Pathfinder-Races
Now, I want to preface this guide by pointing out that my ratings are going to be ALMOST completely based on optimization ability (though once in a while I will rate something a bit higher if it’s super thematic and fun). Any race can be made into a decent character of any class if you make the right choices, but some races just work better and are more optimized for some classes.
The structure of the writeup for each race will be as follows:
Race name - Classes that work well and their color ranking
Quick description of the race
Racial Traits - These are the racial abilities that the race normally gets, and how useful they are.
Alternate Racial Traits - These are the racial abilities that you can replace normal racial traits with, which can sometimes be way better or way worse than the original trait. The trait that is being replaced is shown in [brackets] right next to the name of the new trait.
Classes - Here I’ll list each of the standard base classes, mentioning any archetypes that work well for the given race.
Racial Favored Class Bonuses - Here I’ll list all of the favored class bonuses that are specific to the given race with their rating.
Racial Archetypes - Here I’ll give a quick description of the archetypes that are specifically available to the given race, most of which come from the Advanced Race Guide.
Prestige classes - Here I’ll give a short list of prestige classes that work very well for the given race, including what base class/classes you’ll want to use to fulfill prerequisistes
Racial Feats - I’ll give a quick description of what each race-specific feat does and its rating.
Red = This is a really bad choice. Avoid it.
Orange = This isn’t a very good choice, but you could do worse.
Green = This is a good, solid choice, though there might be slightly better ones out there.
Blue = This is a great choice, I love it.
Sky Blue = You really should use this. It’s the best option out there.
Dwarves in Pathfinder are known for being gruff and stoic, living in underground cities in the mountains, constantly warring with giants, orcs and goblinoids.
Ability Scores: +2 Wisdom and Constitution, -2 Charisma - this makes them perfect candidates for Clerics, Rangers, and Inquisitors, but hurts their chances of making good Bards, Paladins, Sorcerers, Oracles and Summoners.
Size: Medium - Dwarves don’t make very good sneaky characters, but otherwise their size doesn’t affect them.
Speed: 20 ft - Dwarves don’t move as quickly as other Medium-sized creatures, but this is made up for by their stoutness, which allows them to keep that 20-foot movement speed no matter what their encumbrance or what type of armor they wear. This makes them excellent candidates for any class that can wear heavy armor.
Defensive Training: A +4 dodge bonus to AC is nice, but it’s very situational because it only works against creatures of the giant subtype. If your character is planning to fight a lot of giants, dwarves are an awesome choice!
Hardy: A +2 bonus on saving throws against all spells and spell-like abilities is a pretty amazing boost, and it helps against poisons too, so this one is good for any character ever.
Stability: A +4 bonus to CMD against bull rush or trip attempts can come in really handy, but it’s situational enough to not be a huge deal. If you really don’t like being tripped, though, be a dwarf!
Greed: A +2 to appraise is basically useless, and it’s only for gems or precious metals. No good.
Stonecunning: The +2 to Perception checks when it comes to stonework isn’t that big of a deal, but it can help you find certain traps, so it can come in handy.
Darkvision: This can come in really handy, and it can save you having to use a spell for it, so it’s a great racial ability.
Hatred: This ability can come in handy if you’re going to be fighting a lot of goblinoids or orcs, but otherwise it’ll only be useful every so often.
Weapon Familiarity: This ability can come in handy for classes that normally only get simple weapon proficiency, since a battleaxe is a pretty excellent weapon.
Ancient Enmity [Hatred]: +1 to attack vs. elves will most likely come up much less often than goblinoids or orcs, unless you know you’re going to be fighting a lot of drow.
Craftsman [Greed]:This one’s a stinker unless you’re playing Pathfinder Society and want to have a great Day Job check.
Deep Warrior [Defensive Training]:Giants will most likely show up more often than aberrations, so you’re better off with defensive training in most campaigns.
Giant Hunter [Hatred]: If you know you’re going to be fighting a lot of giants, this trait synergizes very well with Defensive Training. I like it.
Lorekeeper [Greed]: A racial bonus to Knowledge (history) can come in handy, but the second half of this trait is that you can use Knowledge (history) untrained, and putting a single skill point into it makes that second part completely useless.
Magic Resistant [Hardy]: Spell resistance is REALLY awesome at lower levels, so enjoy it, but be cautious because you will also be resistant to your allies’ spells unless you spend a standard action to lower it, which is horrible for action economy. An arcane magic user does NOT want this trait, though, because -2 to concentration sucks.
Minesight [Darkvision]: Increasing darkvision can be useful, but it’s probably not worth the dazzled condition that you get in normal sunlight, so use caution on this one.
Mountaineer [Stability]: Unless your game will be played exclusively on a frozen mountainside, this one sucks.
Relentless [Stability]: +2 bonus to bull rush and overruns could be very useful for a Fighter or Barbarian, so I like it.
Rock Stepper [Stonecunning]: You can ignore several types of difficult terrain, but only for five-foot steps. This would be super useful for any characters that rely on full-attack actions to deal much of their damage, such as Rogues and Maguses.
Saltbeard [Defensive training, hatred, stonecunning]: While this is obviously a situational bonus, if you’re playing a nautical or aquatic campaign, it’s kind of amazing!
Sky Sentinel [Defensive training, hatred, stonecunning]: This one is a great bonus against flying creatures, and so I really like it. You trade a LOT away for it though, so you’d better be sure you aren’t going to be fighting any giants or goblinoids underground!
Stonesinger [Stonecunning]: This trait only helps you if you are a spellcaster, but can be a significant boost to your bloodline or domain abilities. It’s a good choice.
Stubborn [Hardy]: This would be one of the best alternate race traits out there, except that it replaces an ability that’s already really great, Hardy. Anyone could benefit from this ability, though. This ability would probably pass up Hardy in usefulness if it wasn’t for the Steel Soul feat, which essentially doubles the bonus you get when using Hardy.
Surface Survivalist [Darkvision]: Don’t even consider this one, losing Darkvision is not nearly worth a boost against environmental effects.
Xenophobic [Languages]: A +1 bonus against mind-affecting effects is nice, but it’s really not worth the negative effects of this trait, so I’d stay away from it unless you’re playing in a dwarves-only campaign.
Wyrmscourged [Defensive training, hatred, stonecunning]: If you know for a fact you’re going to be playing a dragonslayer in your campaign, this is amazing, but otherwise, giving up three of your normal race traits for this one is not worth it.
Alchemist: The base Alchemist isn’t a great choice for a dwarf, because you don’t get a bonus to Intelligence (for extracts) or Dexterity (for bombs), and the Wisdom bonus you do get isn’t helpful. The Vivisectionist archetype might make it worth your time if you’re going for a melee damage dealer, since you drop bombs and gain a Rogue’s sneak attack. Overall, not great.
Barbarian: A dwarf can make an excellent Barbarian, since the Fast Movement ability compensates for their slower speed, the Constitution boost gives you more rounds of Rage and more hit points, and Charisma isn’t important for a Barbarian. The Invulnerable Rager archetype is also a great choice for you, boosting damage reduction by giving up some of the more Dexterity-based abilities.
Bard: Dwarves aren’t really meant to be Bards, because Charisma is extremely important for a Bard, as is Intelligence. Neither of these are a dwarf’s strength. I don’t recommend it.
Cavalier [Samurai]: A dwarf can actually make a really great cavalier, because it’s got all the damage potential and staying power of the Paladin, but without the annoyance of all of your abilities being Charisma-based. The only Charisma-based abilities that a cavalier has, in fact, are specific to certain orders. There are even a few orders that have no Charisma requirement at all (such as Order of the Dragon). The Cavalier’s mount also lets a dwarf ignore his reduced speed. You may also want to look at the Honor Guard archetype, which is very defense-oriented. The Samurai is also a great choice, if you’d like to focus more on mounted archery, but in that case you’ll want to pump your Dex.
Cleric: Ah, the Cleric. Dwarves seem to be just meant to be traditional clerics, the Wisdom boost helping with spellcasting, the Con boost giving you extra hit points so that you can be a reasonable healer tank when wearing medium armor, which doesn’t cause encumbrance since you’re a dwarf. Indeed, dwarves make excellent clerics, and there are so many options available for clerics that I really can’t go into them all. Refer to one of these guides for more information on clerics (though an updated one would be nice at this point):
One thing I did want to suggest, though, is the possibility of trading out channel energy, which uses your worst stat, Charisma, for something more suited to a dwarf’s taste. There are two ways to do this, the Divine Strategist archetype and the Forgemaster racial archetype. I discuss the Forgemaster in greater detail below, but one caveat to both of these is they both have abilities that are Intelligence-based. While this isn’t optimal, Int is probably going to be more generally useful to a cleric than Cha, so I would definitely consider one of the two. Remember, though, that if you give up channel energy, you’re going to be hurting for decent healing abilities at lower levels.
Druid: This one is great for a dwarf, with spellcasting based on Wisdom and the Con bonus to help during Wild Shapes. There are too many good archetypes to even go into it, but the Cave Druid is worth a look if you want to stick with the whole “dwarves come from the earth” type of thing. Overall, druid is a solid choice.
Fighter: Dwarves make excellent fighters, for several reasons. For one thing, Fighters can make the best use of the dwarven ability to ignore encumbrance effects to speed, making heavy armor a much more viable option. In addition, the Fighter’s Bravery ability synergizes very nicely with the dwarven bonuses against spells and other mind-affecting effects. Finally, dwarves have an excellent racial archetype called the Foehammer (see below) that is full of flavor and really fun. Overall, dwarven Fighters are pretty excellent.
Gunslinger: I.... can someone else write this part for me? I am such a non-fan of the Gunslinger class that I actually have no idea whether dwarves make good ones. I’ll try, I suppose. Grit uses Wisdom, so that’s one point for you there. It does seem like a lot of the deeds are tailored toward movement, which you’re not the best at with slow speed, and because of that the Gun Tank archetype seems like a viable option for a dwarven Gunslinger. Obviously stay away from the Mysterious Stranger archetype, which replaces Wisdom with Charisma for grit. It seems as if dwarves make pretty decent Gunslingers with the right build. Who knew?
Inquisitor: This is another class that dwarves just seem to be built for, in fact dwarves make even better Inquisitors than they do Clerics. Every supernatural ability for the Inquisitor uses Wisdom, which you have in droves. There’s also a nice, flavorful archetype called the Exarch that dwarves can take. Finally, look down at the Inquisitor dwarf favored class bonus. You get to be treated as a higher level for the Inquisitor’s flagstone abilitiy, Judgements. Overall, this is a GREAT choice for a dwarf, and I think that favored class bonus actually throws us into sky blue territory.
Magus: Magi are Intelligence-based, so you’ve lost a point there. There are two different build-styles for a magus, both explained in this guide:
Neither of them is better than the other for a dwarf, since you don’t get a bonus to either Strength or Dexterity. None of the archetypes available really strike me as dwarf-ish, though the Hexcrafter can get the Prehensile Hair hex, which means you can start smacking people with your beard. Overall, Magus is only a “meh” choice for a dwarf.
Monk: Dwarves can make pretty sweet monks, since ki points are based on Wisdom and their Fast Movement ability compensates (and then some) for the slowed movement of a dwarf. There are also some great flavor options for dwarven Monks, like the Drunken Master archetype, letting you make that constantly-drunk dwarf who is a beast in bar brawls. Don’t forget about the Monk Vows to boost your ki point pool even more (though the Vow of Cleanliness requires that you shave your face, so STAY AWAY!) If only the racial favored class bonus was better!
Oracle: A dwarf isn’t really suited to be an Oracle because of the hit to Charisma, which is the Oracle’s main stat. There aren’t any archetypes that change this, and the racial favored class bonus isn’t very exciting, so I’d generally suggest steering clear.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: With a bonus to Constitution, a dwarf can make a reasonable Paladin, though the penalty to Charisma definitely hurts. Despite this, there are perks to being a Paladin, such as self-healing with Lay on Hands, and not having to worry about your slower speed as long as you’re mounted. There is a very flavorful Paladin archetype called the Stonelord that deserves a look (see below), as a lot of the Charisma-based abilities are replaced by more static, super flavorful bonuses. Overall, a dwarven Paladin is definitely an option, though I would suggest looking at the Cavalier as an alternative.
Ranger: A dwarf is an excellent choice for a Ranger, since both Wisdom and Constitution are going to be extremely helpful, and Charisma can be a dump stat. In fact, the iconic Pathfinder Ranger is a dwarf, and he looks pretty badass. A few of the base and alternate dwarf racial traits synergize really well with a Ranger’s favored enemy and favored terrain abilities, and there are even a few archetypes that seem very dwarf-ish. These include the Deep Walker, the Skirmisher (which replaces the Ranger’s weak spellcasting with Hunter’s Tricks, sort of akin to Rogue Talents), and the Trapper (which replaces spellcasting with trap-setting). Overall, this is one of the best choices for an optimized dwarf, right behind the Inquisitor.
Rogue [Ninja]: This is a generally poor choice for a dwarf, as Rogues need high Dexterity (usually), Intelligence (almost always) and Charisma (sometimes), none of which the dwarf is good at. There are a few archetypes that will make the Rogue a little bit more appealing, such as the Sanctified Rogue, the Survivalist, and the Thug, but none of them really helps a dwarf optimize as a good Rogue, only helping to make the concept more appealing. With a relatively crappy favored class bonus on top of all that, I’d stay away. The Ninja, being completely Charisma and Dexterity-based, is also just not a good option.
Sorcerer: Until Ultimate Magic came out, I would have rated the Sorcerer a flat red for a dwarf, but the Empyreal bloodline has made a dwarven Sorcerer much more viable. This bloodline lets you use your Wisdom in place of Charisma for all Sorcerer class features, which means you can be a pretty kick-ass Sorcerer. Along with that, you get many of the powers of the Celestial bloodline, which is a great bloodline for summoning creatures to aid you and your allies. If you want to go totally non-traditional with your class choice as a dwarf, but want to keep optimization in mind, this is the way to go. With ANY OTHER BLOODLINE, Sorcerer is red. You may also consider the Razmiran Priest archetype, since it would let you dress your character as a cleric, while instead using arcane spells, which is a cool concept.
Summoner: A Summoner relies entirely too much on Charisma to make sense for a dwarf, and the dwarven racial abilities really don’t synergize with the class either. There are only two semi-reasonable builds I can think of, one involving making the eidolon Large and riding it (which you can’t do until at least 8th level) and the other being the Synthesist, which can be amazing with any base race.
Witch: The Witch is a caster that relies on Intelligence, and therefore if you like the class you could make a decent Witch with your dwarf, but the racial bonuses don’t add anything for this class. If you could convince your DM to let you use the Scarred Witch Doctor archetype (normally meant only for Orcs), you’d have a beastly Con-based caster, but otherwise this isn’t going to be optimal.
Wizard: Just like the Witch, the Wizard relies on Intelligence for his casting, and so while you CAN make a decent WIzard with a dwarf, it will never be as optimal as a Ranger or Inquisitor would be. There is one archetype that I can’t help but imagine is meant for both Dwarves and Gnomes, however, and that’s the Siege Mage. Check it out, because the flavor and roleplaying benefits might just outweigh the lack of ability score synergy for you.
Alchemist: This is a great choice for a dwarven alchemist, unless you’re going for a ranged bomber build, which your ability bonuses steer you away from anyway.
Barbarian: Additional rounds of Rage are always helpful, so this is a great choice.
Bard: This is an excellent choice for bards who might want to wear armor, and it’s one of few favored class bonuses that actually give you a feat later on.
Cavalier: Adding damage to your Challenge opponent is super helpful. If you’re a Dwarven Cavalier, use this at every level.
Cleric: If you have a 1st-level domain power that is usable a number of times per day, this might be a really great choice for you, but otherwise it’s obviously useless.
Druid: More uses of domain powers is great... if you chose a domain instead of an animal companion. Personally, I’ll almost always choose the animal companion.
Fighter: This will stack with the Stability racial trait, and can be very helpful in a battle. I like it.
Gunslinger: I personally hate the Gunslinger class, but if you are a Dwarven Gunslinger this is probably a great choice.
Inquisitor: This is one of those awesome favored class bonuses that effectively makes you a higher level for one of your main class abilities, so it’s a no-brainer.
Magus: Adding uses per day of one of your Arcana is a great choice, so this one’s golden.
Monk: Really? Reduce the hardness of objects? And only when you use unarmed strike? This one sucks.
Oracle: Unless you have a specific exotic weapon that you want to use and you don’t have a feat slot to waste on Exotic Weapon Proficiency this one’s not great.
Paladin: As a paladin, you don’t have enough spells available for this to be super useful, so I’d say skip this one.
Ranger: This is way too situational to matter, unless you have an underground creature as your animal companion.
Rogue: This one is super situational, but it stacks with Stonecunning for noticing traps made of stone, so it could come in handy.
Sorcerer: Adding damage to your spells is great if you’re a blaster, so this is actually a decent one.
Summoner: Additional AC for your eidolon is cool, although if you’re a Synthesist Summoner, you probably want the hit point per level instead.
Witch: If your Familiar is getting into battle, you’re doing it wrong. This isn’t worth it.
Wizard: This probably isn’t terribly useful for you, since crafting is already a confusing system, and if your’re playing in Pathfinder Society you can’t use it anyway.
Exarch (Inquisitor): This archetype is very Lawful-oriented, letting you find and punish chaotic creatures with a vengeance. One of the best parts of this archetype is the ability to imbue your weapon with the menacing special ability, which increases the flanking bonus that your allies get by +2 as long as you’re adjacent to the creature they’re flanking. For a melee-heavy party, this can be a huge benefit. I also really like the Aura of Reversion ability, which is an aura that makes creatures using transmutation effects, especially polymorph effects, sickened and/or nauseated until they turn back. If you ever come up against an enemy druid, this can seriously change the tide of a battle. Note that this archetype is best for a melee-focused inquisitor, especially one who wants to use Two-Weapon Fighting.
Foehammer (Fighter): If you’ve ever wanted to play a hammer-wielding dwarf who can hit the ground with his hammer so hard that the floor shatters, this is the way to do it. This archetype is all about using a warhammer or similar weapon to deal literally crushing blows and cause debilitating effects while doing it. As you level up, you get bonuses to different combat maneuvers, you get to attempt a free trip after a sucessful bull rush, and at 19th level you can even deal an auto-critical hit with your hammer. This is a fun, flavorful archetype that brings to mind all of the cliches about dwarves you’ve been seeing in movies all your life, and it’s awesome.
Forgemaster (Cleric): This is an interesting archetype which is focused almost solely on item creation and enhancement, granting you Craft Magic Arms and Armor as a bonus feat at third level and replacing Channel Energy with the ability to inscribe magic runes on weapons or armor to give them interesting properties. One thing that I do NOT like about this archetype, however, is that the Runeforger ability relies on Intelligence to determine the number of uses per day, and for a Cleric, Intelligence is usually used as a dump stat. I suppose the reason they did this is that it’s replacing Channel Energy, which requires Charisma, so you can now dump that instead, but I don’t see how Intelligence makes sense in this case. Besides that, Channel Energy can be a really important ability for a cleric to keep his party alive, especially at lower levels when spell slots are at a premium. All in all, this archetype is interesting, but really not that great unless you were going to focus on crafting anyway.
Stonelord (Paladin): This archetype ends up being so different from a standard Paladin that I would consider it an alternate class rather than an archetype. You give up smite evil for a power that lets you treat your melee attacks as magic and admantine, letting you sunder pretty much anything with no problem. You give up divine grace for DR/adamantine and a natural armor bonus, which is sweet but losing your Cha bonus to saves is really painful. You give up divine health and several mercies to begin to ignore critical hits and precision damage, which is really nice. You give up ALL SPELLCASTING to gain the Defensive Stance ability of the Stalwart Defender prestige class, which is sort of like a controlled version of rage. You give up a paladin’s mount to get an earth elemental companion (which is actually a really sweet option). One really cool ability the Stonelord gets is phasing his attacks through stone or metal several times per day at higher levels, letting you completely ignore that full-plate the enemy antipaladin is wearing. Finally, at 20th level, the Stonelord effectively turns into stone, giving him immunity to several detrimental effects and complete immunity to critical hits and precision damage. When you combine all of this, you realize that the only thing that is still Paladin-ish about the resulting character is his ability to lay on hands to cure himself and allies, and other than that you’ve become an entirely new type of character, but you know what? I’m okay with that, because this really is a great archetype. The ONLY thing that sucks about being a Stonelord is your racial penalty to Charisma, but many of the abilities that would require it are replaced, so they really did a great job of making this a viable option for dwarves.
Divine Scion: This prestige class lets you take the normal Cleric abilities given by your chosen domain and enhance them, gaining new ones in the process. The Domain Specialization ability gives you a spell-like ability based on the domain you chose, and it even lets you heal damage when you cast domain spells. Later on, you get abilities that let you deal more damage or give detrimental or helpful effects to others based on their alignment. This one is fun and not a bad choice for a dwarven Cleric or Inquisitor.
Gray Gardener: This is an interesting, assassin-style prestige class made for the Inquisitor, focusing more on sneak attacks and quiet killings. This is definitely not a good-aligned prestige class, but it’s got some cool abilities, and it would be a fun character to play. Check it out.
Holy Vindicator: The Holy Vindicator is excellent for a cleric who wants to get better at combat, or for a fighter/cleric who wants to boost his armor class and get auto-Empowered healing spells. This class also synergizes well with the Stalwart Defender, which I’ll talk about in a few minutes.
Horizon Walker: This prestige class is all about becoming the supreme master of your chosen terrain. It’s also one of the easiest prestige classes to qualify for, with just a single feat and 6 ranks in a skill required. With the combination of the Terrain Mastery and Terrain Dominance abilities focused on the Mountains or Underground terrains, you’ll get a thematic character who can essentially dominate creatures native to that terrain!
Inheritor’s Crusader: This three-level prestige class is really meant for Paladins, but it could be a great choice for a dwarven Cleric that focuses on healing and debuff-removal thanks to the Destroyer of Tyranny ability, which gives the cleric and his allies extra saving throws to remove detrimental conditions. Definitely take a look at it.
Knight of Ozem: Knights of Ozem are great at dealing with undead and other abominations, and get bonus feats meant for shield-based combat. You can qualify for this one using Fighter levels, or it could be a great choice for a Cavalier. You could also qualify with mostly Cleric or Inquisitor levels, but you need heavy armor proficiency, so a level of Fighter or the Heavy Armor Proficiency feat will be important in that case.
Mammoth Rider: Holy crap this prestige class is amazing. As a Cavalier or a Ranger who has taken the Boon Companion feat, you can start into this class at 10th level. When you take your first level in Mammoth Rider, your animal companion becomes a Huge creature, and as you continue on in the class, your companion gets pretty impressive Ability boosts (a max of +6 Con and +10 Str). This is the best way to get the best companion mount in the game, so take advantage of it.
Skyseeker: This class is definitely written specifically for dwarves, and it’s not a bad choice. The entry requirements will require you to either have 7 levels of Ranger or be a mix of Ranger and Druid or Cleric. The class gives you bonus damage against giants, goblins and orcs, gets a deflection bonus versus spell effects, and gains heavy armor proficiency that doesn’t block the use of his Ranger abilities. Later he gains spell resistance based on the type of armor he’s wearing. This prestige class actually synergizes with the Forgemaster Cleric archetype too, so consider that one.
Stalwart Defender: This one is all about defense, gaining an ability VERY similar to a Barbarian rage and a ton of defensive powers that are similar to a Barbarian’s rage powers, except that he can’t move at all while in his defensive stance. This is one of the best ways to become a true tank, gaining Uncanny Dodge and Damage Reduction.
Breadth of Experience: If you are trying to play a knowledge-focused character, a dwarf probably isn’t the best choice, but this could make it more viable.
Brewmaster: A dwarven alchemist will probably want to choose this, otherwise ignore it.
Cleave Through: This feat is a must-have for dwarven fighters past level 11. Seriously, being able to continue cleaving enemies by taking a five-foot step is golden.
Cloven Helm: Combined with Dented Helm, this will let you shrug off attacks that might normally be lethal to you by taking them straight to your head. That... is so dwarven and awesome that I want to build a whole character around it. This would be an excellent choice for a Fighter or Cavalier, but any front-line character would benefit from it.
Dented Helm: This feat continues the Hard-Headed line of feats that lets you essentially take attacks to your helmet to negate damage to yourself. I love this set of feats.
Fight On: This feat could be useful to a tank-style character, but honestly if you’re letting yourself get knocked unconscious, you’re doing it wrong. There are probably better choices out there.
Giant Killer: If you’re going down the Goblin Cleaver feat list, this can be invaluable to a Fighter-type who wants to mow down creatures larger than himself.
Goblin Cleaver: This is a pretty awesome feat for a dwarven Fighter, and it can be taken at third level! It also starts you on the path to eventually be cleaving any enemies that you threaten OR that you would threaten if you stepped 5 feet. If you know you’ll be fighting goblins early on in your campaign, all the better.
Hard-headed: This feat really is just a gateway into the Dented->Cloven Helm feat tree, as its benefits aren’t that spectacular. It’s still worth grabbing early on for any tank-style character, just to get started on the tree.
Improved Stonecunning: Boo. Not worth a feat unless you know your DM loves to throw traps at you, and even then this will only help with traps made of stone.
Ironguts: If you find yourself fighting against creatures that make you nauseated a lot, this could be useful, but overall there are much better choices out there.
Ironhide: If you aren’t planning to get a natural armor bonus through any of your class features (like from an Alchemist’s mutagen, or the Stonelord’s Heartstone ability), this might be worth considering. One nice thing here is that this bonus will stack with an amulet of natural armor when you can afford one later on, since that is an enhancement bonus to your natural armor bonus.
Ledge Walker: This is a decent ability if you’re planning to scale any mountains or delve through the Mines of Moria, but it’s very situational.
Let Them Come: This feat is from the Faction Guide, and so its prerequisites probably look a little strange to you (they did to me at first also). Basically, you need to have high enough standing in the Ninth Battallion faction to take the feat. If you aren’t using factions in your game, ask your GM if you can replace the faction requirement with something like 6 ranks in Perception or Sleight of Hand, so that it’s available at a similar level. If you CAN get it, though, it could be very useful to a melee fighter.
Orc Hewer: This is another one from the Goblin Cleaver feat tree, so if you’re going up that ladder, you’ll need this one.
Shatterspell: Man, this is seriously awesome. If you’re not a Barbarian, this is the only way to get access to the spell sunder rage power, and it really is a pretty amazing power. Take this for your fighter if you have a spare feat slot.
Steel Soul: This feat is really REALLY good. As a dwarf, you already have a +2 bonus to saves against ALL spells and spell-like abilities, which is amazing. This doubles that bonus, effectively giving you the saving throws of a 4th-level monk for a single feat. This is definitely worth taking for ANY character, but especially Fighters and Cavaliers who don’t have a great Will save normally.
Stone-Faced: If you want to lie as a dwarf, I suppose this feat is the way to do it, but if you’re playing a class that needs to lie a lot, the dwarf was a bad idea to begin with.
Stone Singer: A dwarven bard who will be underground a lot will definitely benefit from this, but otherwise it’s not a great feat.
Toxic Recovery: This is a great choice if your DM likes to use poisons or other sources of ability damage. I like it.
Twin Thunders: This is just way too situational to get my recommendation. Read the first sentence of the Benefit description and count how many things have to be true for you to actually apply this. Once per round, bludgeoning weapon in each hand, creature with the giant subtype, hit with your off-hand, after also hitting with your main hand. All of those things have to happen just to get double damage with your off-hand weapon. No way.
Elves are tall, long-lived, and smart. They’re slender, ususally a bit physically weak, and they usually feel more in tune with nature than some of the other humanoid races.
Ability Scores: Elves get a +2 to Dex and Int, making them great at ranged attacks and arcane spellcasting. They suffer a -2 penalty to Con, which can definitely hurt their hit point total.
Size: Elves are the same size as humans.
Speed: Elves have normal speed of 30 feet.
Elven Immunities: Elves are completely immune to magic sleep effects, and get a bonus against all other enchantment effects on top of that. This is excellent.
Keen Senses: A bonus to the most important skill in the game is always welcome.
Elven Magic: This bonus to caster level checks can definitely come in handy for a spellcaster, obviously, but for a non-spellcaster this is totally useless. A bonus to identifying magic items is a little situational, but at least useful for everyone.
Weapon Familiarity: Being able to use a longbow instead of a crossbow as your backup ranged weapon is a huge plus for non-martial characters. For any class that gets martial weapon proficiency, this is not useful.
Low-Light Vision: This is always useful, but not nearly as helpful as Darkvision is for dwarves.
Arcane Focus [Weapon Familiarity]: This replaces Weapon Familiarity, and is pretty much a must-have for any arcane caster class.
Darkvision [Low-Light Vision]: This would be great if it didn’t also come with the steep penalty of light sensitivity. However, combine this with the Lightbringer racial trait and that penalty goes away, so at that point this is green.
Desert Runner [Elven Magic]: Unless your campaign is set in a hot climate with long stretches of desert everywhere, this one is pretty useless, and nowhere near as good as elven magic, which it would replace.
Dreamspeaker [Elven Immunities]: If you’re a witch who wants to use Slumber a lot, this would be a really good choice, but for most characters it’s better to have sleep immunity than a bonus to your own sleep effects.
Elemental Resistance [Elven Immunities]: Resistance to cold or hot climates only comes up in those climates, and elven immunities is just too good to trade out for this. If you know your campaign will take place in the desert or on top of a snowy peak, you might consider it, but otherwise avoid it.
Envoy [Elven Magic]: I like this one. Getting several spell-like abilities is a nice bonus, and would be useful to any character, not just spellcasters. Go for it.
Eternal Grudge [Elven Magic]: This might be a good choice for a martial character, and is flavorful, so it’s a reasonable choice.
Fleet-Footed [Keen Senses, Weapon Familiarity]: The Run feat isn’t that exciting, but getting +2 to your Initiative is probably more than worth giving up the +2 to Perception and weapon familiarity.
Lightbringer [Elven Immunities, Elven Magic]: If you’re planning to cast a lot of light-based spells, or if you really want to get the Darkvision racial trait without the light sensitivity, this is a good choice. Otherwise, the immunity to sleep effects is probably better.
Silent Hunter [Elven Magic]: For an elven Rogue or Ninja, or maybe even a Ranger, this is probably a great choice. If you’re a spellcaster, it’s not worth the trade.
Spirit of the Waters [Elven Magic, Weapon Familiarity]: This can be a great way to get proficiency with the net, which is a very useful exotic weapon. If you’re playing a class that will get proficiency with martial weapons, definitely pick this one up instead.
Urbanite [Keen Senses]: A bonus to Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks is almost never going to be worth giving up +2 to Perception. Stay away.
Woodcraft [Elven Magic]: This could be good for Rangers or other martial characters, but honestly there are better choices to replace elven magic with than this one.
Alchemist: An elf can make an exceptionally good bomb-wielding Alchemist, since both Intelligence and Dexterity are important for that type of build. The Mindchemist and Grenadier archetypes would both be great choices also, I just wish you could take both at once! You might also consider multiclassing with the Arcane Bomber Wizard for some ability synergy and the chance to use arcane scrolls.
Barbarian: With their penalty to Consitution, and Intelligence being relatively useless, elves don’t make very good Barbarians. There aren’t really any archetypes to help with this, so in general I would stick with the Fighter or Cavalier if you want to be a melee frontliner as an Elf.
Bard: Elves make some seriously excellent bards, since both Dexterity and Intelligence are helpful for most bard builds. The penalty to Constitution shouldn’t matter quite as much since you can heal yourself, so that’s nice too.
Cavalier [Samurai]: There’s nothing stopping an Elf from being an excellent Cavalier, as long as you keep an eye on hit points. At the same time, the bonuses to Intelligence and Dexterity don’t really do a ton for a vanilla Cavalier either. To take advantage of Dex, you may consider the Luring Cavalier and Musketeer archetypes (in fact, you can actually combine the two, since they replace different abilities).
Cleric: Every race has clerics, but elves don’t fit the bill quite as well as dwarves do. No bonus to Wisdom or Charisma, and a penalty to Con, though that can usually be overcome since you can heal yourself. You might consider the Divine Strategist archetype, which lets you add your Intelligence bonus to damage and other rolls starting at level 8.
Druid: Like clerics, Druids rely on Wisdom. Are you seeing a trend here? Elves just don’t make the best divine casters! That being said, there’s no reason that you can’t make an excellent elven Druid, you’re just not going to be optimal. Make sure to pay attention to the elves-only archetype, the Treesinger (I’ll talk about that more later on). I’d also consider the Mooncaller archetype, since several of the abilities granted by it synergize very well with elves (such as gaining Darkvision at second level!).
Fighter: WIth a bonus to Dex and Int, an elf can make a seriously excellent ranged fighter. If you slap on the Lore Warden archetype, it just gets silly good, with tons of hit points and a bardic knowledge-like ability that comes in handy all the time. If you’re trying for melee, though, look at the Magus instead.
Gunslinger: We’re back to the Gunslinger, which I have very little experience with. Just looking at the abilities, the bonus to Dex is obviously going to help. Many of the Deed abilities use Wisdom, so it hurts a little bit that you don’t have a bonus there. I see no reason why you can’t make a decent gunslinger with an elf.
Inquisitor: This is another Wisdom-based character, so while there’s no reason that you couldn’t make a good Inquisitor with an elf (the Dex bonus just begs you to go ranged), you’re not going to be optimal. None of the archetypes do anything to chage this, either.
Magus: Now, here is a class that an elf was just born to play. Intelligence for casting and many of the Arcana abilities. You’ll probably want to make a Dex-based Magus (there is a guide on how to do that here), and that will make you want to consider both the Spell Dancer and Myrmidarch archetypes. The Hexcrafter is also a popular choice, because Witch Hexes are just amazing. Make sure to take the racial favored class bonus, which will give you an extra Magus Arcana every six levels, which is a HUGE bonus!
Monk: An elf can definitely pull off a Dex-focused monk, but the lack of a racial Wisdom bonus is definitely sub-optimal. Consider looking into the Flowing Monk and the Zen Archer, but again, this isn’t the best class for an elf.
Oracle: The Charisma-focused nature of the Oracle doesn’t lend itself to elven mastery, sadly, but there is a really nice racial archetype, called the Ancient Lorekeeper that lets you choose spells from the Sorcerer/Wizard list, so keep that one in mind for sure. Also pay attention to the favored class bonus, which lets you treat your Oracle level as higher than it actually is for a single revelation, which can be a huge boost (see my description below). Thanks to these two awesome choices, Oracle gets bumped from orange to green for an elf.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: Paladins rely almost exclusively on Strength and Charisma, which your elf isn’t the best at, so generally a Paladin is going to be a suboptimal choice. However, you can definitely mitigate this by choosing the Divine Hunter or Holy Gun archetypes, either of which will give you some excellent abilities to use at range.
Ranger: Rangers do use Wisdom, but it’s really only for spellcasting, so if you choose a spell-less archetype like the Skirmisher, Trapper, or Urban Ranger, you’re going to get a lot more bang for your buck. You’ll probably want to go with a ranged combat style, to take advantage of the Dex bonus. Thematically, elven Rangers just make perfect sense, so I say go for it!
Rogue [Ninja]: Elves make excellent rogues, thanks to their bonuses to both Intelligence and Dexterity. Ninjas take a hit becuase of the requirement of Charisma for their ki abilities, so I’d stick with the Rogue, if choosing between the two. I don’t think any of the archetypes are specifically better for an elf, but many of them have interesting abilities, so make sure to look them all over.
Sorcerer: Generally, as an elf, you’re going to want to choose Wizard over Sorcerer, because Sorcerers require Charisma. However, you can fix this very easily if you’re willing to choose the Wildblooded (Sage) bloodline, which makes every single one of your normally Cha-based Sorcerer abilities based off of Int instead! This makes an elven Sorcerer much more feasible, though you don’t get your choice of bloodlines anymore, which means you can’t customize the character nearly as much.
Summoner: Like Sorcerers, Summoners require lots of Charisma. Unlike Sorcerers, there’s no Sage bloodline to switch them over to Int. Flavor-wise, the First-Worlder Summoner is pretty cool, since your eidolon become a fey creature instead of an outsider, and you get summon nature’s ally spells instead of summon monster. I would stay away from the Synthesist archetype, because Constitution becomes very important for you when your eidolon is nothing but a shell around you, and Con is not an elf’s best stat.
Witch: Witches are Intelligence-based, and that makes them an awesome choice for an elf. Make sure to use the favored class bonus to its fullest, gaining an extra spell added to your familiar per level. If you want to be a good healer, the Hedge Witch archetype is probably one of the best ways to get an Intelligence-based party healer, so if you’re set on playing an elf but being the party’s band-aid, that’s the way to do it.
Wizard: Elves are long-lived and patient, in addition to being very intelligent, and that makes them incredibly good wizards. You may want to look at the Arcane Bomber archetype if you’re trying to do a bunch of damage. The Spellbinder, which is specifically for elves, is only okay, becuase you’re trading the ability to cast any one spell in your spellbook once per day for the ability to trade your currently prepared spells for spells that you’ve learned very well. This means that you could be giving up a casting of any one of your highest-level spells. The tradeoff here is that you don’t have an item that could cause you to fail at spellcasting if it’s lost. If you want versatility, stick with the normal Arcane Bond, or even pick up a familiar instead.
Alchemist: Formulae can be hard to come by sometimes, so I like this one.
Barbarian: Increasing base speed is cool, so if you decided to go with an elven Barbarian, definitely use this bonus.
Bard: +1 to CMD when resisting only two types of combat maneuvers is not very exciting. You’re better off taking the extra HP to counteract your lowered Con score.
Cavalier: Adding hit points to your mount can keep it from dying, and that’s very very helpful.
Cleric: This is decent, if you have a domain that grants a 1st-level power that is affected by it. However, many domains don’t have this type of power, so it goes down to orange.
Druid: If you’re doing a wild shape build, this is really excellent. More natural armor means higher AC, which means your racial penalty to Con doesn’t matter as much.
Fighter: This bonus is a little better for a Fighter than it was for the Bard, but still pretty situational.
Gunslinger: Critical hits with firearms are pretty sweet, so a bonus to confirming them is always nice to have.
Inquisitor: An extra spell known for a spontaneous caster is a huge deal, so this is great.
Magus: Magus Arcana are POWERFUL. You can get more of them with this bonus, so definitely go for it!
Monk: Just as with the Barbarian, this is a great ability, because moving faster can mean a quicker battle (or let you run away if need be!)
Oracle: The Oracle’s Revelations are the cornerstone ability of the class, and this bonus actually treats you as a higher level (not just caster level, but CLASS level) for one of these abilities. This means you get upgrades to it earlier and use it more often, and in some cases this can be so good it’s almost game-breaking. Case in point: the Dark Tapestry mystery has a Revelation called Many Forms. This lets you use alter self beginning at first level, but later you can start to use beast shape spells. Normally, an Oracle has to wait until 7th level to get beast shape I, but if an elven Oracle boosts Many Forms at each level, she can start using that version of the revelation at level 5. At level 8, she can start to use beast shape III, where normally she’d have to wait til level 11. And at 10th level, she can use greater polymorph, which is a 7th level spell, for 15 minutes per day! This is a WONDERFUL favored class bonus, so make good use of it!
Paladin: Extra hit points on your lay on hands ability is nice, especially for healing yourself with a swift action in a pinch.
Ranger: If your Ranger is going to focus on Critical feats, he will need Critical Focus, and this bonus doesn’t stack with that one. However, if you’re not going to use Critical feats, this can be a great way to get a little extra damage, especially if you have a keen weapon or take Improved Critical. I like it.
Rogue: This one is definitely situational, as minor and major magic aren’t necessarily rogue talents that everyone would choose. If you do like to cast low-level spells with your rogue, this is a great choice, otherwise ignore it and take the hit points.
Sorcerer: If you have a first-level bloodline power that you love, here’s a nice way to use it more times per day! However, if you don’t have a first-level bloodline power measured in uses per day, this is not helpful in the least.
Summoner: Normally, summoning your eidolon takes 1 minute (10 rounds). Grab this favored class bonus for nine levels, and you’ve made it much more feasible to summon that eidolon during combat. Of course, after those nine levels, choose the skill point or hit point instead.
Witch: Adding spells to your familiar for free is always nice, but this is a trap because you can just pay for scrolls to add to your familiar instead.
Wizard: Just like the Sorcerer, if you have an awesome 1st-level school power that you love, this lets you use it more often, but if you don’t, you’re better off with a skill point or hit point.
Ancient Lorekeeper (Oracle): This archetype lets you pull spells from the Sorcerer/Wizard spell list, which is a really great way to get some diverse and useful spells. For example, picking up stumble gap for battlefield control, or shield to stack with your shield of faith, can be a huge boost to your abilities at early levels. Later, you could grab false life, lightning bolt, or eventually even something like limited wish, none of which you’d normally have access to as an Oracle. Combine this with the excellent favored class bonus, and elven Oracles just became a MUCH better option than your first glance might have suggested.
Spell Dancer (Magus): This is a seriously excellent archetype for a Dex-based Magus build. You give up enhancement bonuses to your weapons for huge bonuses to your movement and AC when moving, and starting at 5th level you can gain the benefit of haste for one round without using any spell slots! You also trade heavier armor (which you wouldn’t want as a Dex-based Magus anyway) for a rare insight bonus to AC, which is excellent. All in all, this is a great choice for an elven Magus, and it can even be combined with my favorite Magus archetype, the Hexcrafter!
Spellbinder (Wizard): I don’t feel like the tradeoffs are really worth it for this archetype. It’s nice to be able to spontaneously trade out some of your prepared spells for the ones you use most often, and some people might really like that, but you’re essentially giving up a spell slot that can be used to cast ANY spell in your spellbook, or a potential +4 to initiative if you choose the right familiar. Overall, I think this one’s just not worth the trade.
Treesinger (Druid): If you’ve ever wanted to have a treant following you around and beating on things for you, this is the archetype for you. You give up the normal animal companion (or cleric domain) for a plant companion instead. Plants have a lot of resistances that make them really worthwhile as companions, but they do have one large drawback: they cannot gain weapon or armor proficiency feats or use manufactured weapons. Now, usually this isn’t going to matter since their natural attacks are pretty nice, and honestly you could still strap leather armor onto your treant and use it without proficiency, so I don’t think this is a huge problem. Also keep in mind that since this is your bonded companion, you can cast spells on it that normally wouldn’t affect plants or that are normally personal-only spells (such as aspect of the bear, reduce animal, animal aspect and the greater version of that spell, vermin shape spells, aspect of the stag, animal growth, and countless others!)
Arcane Archer: In 3.5e, the Arcane Archer was actually an elf-only prestige class, but this requirement has been stripped in recent updates of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook. Despite this change, it’s pretty easy to tell why elves make good Arcane Archers... Dexterity is king for this class, and starting off as a Wizard or Witch is the quickest way to get there. Now, granted, the Arcane Archer is not actually that incredible of a prestige class when compared to others, but for an elf it’s definitely a solid option.
Brightness Seeker: The Brightness Seeker IS actually an elf-only Prestige class, taken from the Elves of Golarion sourcebook. The idea of this class is sort of like an Oracle of nature, gaining the ability to read “omens” to gain insight into the future, and then gaining natural aspects and wild shape as you progress. The Wild Shape ability stacks with a Druid’s ability of the same name, and you can also gain some really cool abilities that you can switch out every day, such as a fly speed, a swim speed including water breathing, or THREE natural attacks, all of which deal 1d6 base damage! Since this class is not a spellcaster, though, be cautious of losing spellcasting levels for these abilities. This is a flavorful and fun prestige class, but it would have been a LOT better if it increased spellcasting also.
Lantern Bearer: The Lantern Bearer class is only available to Elves or half-elves (though of course Humans can qualify with the Racial Heritage feat, more on that in the Human secion). This full-BAB class grants a series of spell-like abilities that can be very useful and are all nature-themed, so it could be a great option for a non-caster who wants to dabble in magic without missing out on base attack progression. You also get a favored enemy, immunity to most movement-hindering spells and effects, good-aligned attacks, and a slightly limited but still awesome hide in plain sight-like ability. This could be a great option for an elven Fighter, Rogue, or Ranger, and I highly recommend it.
Magaambyan Arcanist: This class is sort of like mixing a Wizard with a Druid, which is pretty much perfect for an elf. You get Intelligence-based casting of druid spells, increases to spellcasting at every level, and later on you can even prepare spells into open slots on the fly, taking only a minute at 3rd-level and only a full-round action at 9th level! This is a HUGE boost to your versatility as a prepared caster. This class even makes the Spell Mastery feat useful, which is great! For an elven Wizard or Witch, I would definitely consider this class as an option.
Attuned to the Wild: This feat doubles your natural healing rate in one terrain. Now, I do want to point out that this is for both hit points AND ability damage, so if you get poisoned a lot, you might consider it. Otherwise, it’s really, REALLY not worth a feat. However, it is required for a few other racial feats that I’ll get to in a minute, so don’t write it off completely just yet.
Breadth of Experience: This feat gives you +2 to all Knowledge and Profession skills, so it might be worth a look if you’re playing in PFS and never want to fail a Knowledge check. For a Wizard or Bard, who probably has good Knowledge checks anyway, this probably isn’t worth your time.
Elven Accuracy: For any range-focused character, this could potentially mean the difference between missing every attack against a foe with blur or hitting every time. Seriously, this is a really nice feat, and the only prerequisite is that you’re an elf! Take it!
Elven Battle Training: This feat gives a couple different bonuses to elves who use one of the weapons covered by their weapon familiarity. First, you get a +2 vs. disarm or sunder maneuvers when wielding one of those weapons, which isn’t too exciting. However, you also get to make an additional attack of opportunity each round when wielding one of the melee weapons, which is a huge benefit. Note that if you’re a low-Dex charater, this will give you a second attack of opportunity per round that you can’t get through Combat Reflexes. For any non-Dex-based elven melee fighter, this is potentially a huge bonus.
Guardian of the Wild: A +2 bonus to AC that stacks with anything is nothing to shake a stick at. This feat gives you that in a terrain that you chose the Attuned to the Wild feat for. In fact, you could have chosen Attuned to the Wild multiple times, and this feat would work with all of them (though it doesn’t stack with itself). This is a great option for any character, but the feat tax of having to take a relatively worthless feat (Attuned to the Wild) first is pretty painful, so I can’t give it a blue rating.
Leaf Singer: This ability is a little bit situational, but for a bard who spends a lot of time in the forest, it could be a really nice boost.
Light Step: If you’ve invested two feats in ignoring difficult terrain for up to 20 feet per round ( Acrobatic Steps and Nimble Moves), it’s probably worth your time to take this one. Difficult terrain comes up a lot, and ignoring it gives you a huge advantage in combat. I like it.
Mage of the Wild: This is the caster’s equivalent of Guardian of the Wild, and it’s also pretty nice. I’ll admit, however, that a +2 to caster level checks and concentration checks is not as big of a deal as a +2 dodge bonus to AC. This is still a viable feat, if you’re willing to pay the feat tax, however.
Spirit of the Wild: This is another feat in the Attuned to the Wild feat chain, and this one is pretty amazing. You get a +4 bonus to Perception checks made to act in a surprise round (in other words to detect ambushes and things like that) and if you DO get to act in the surprise round, you get blindsense 30 feet during the surprise round! This means you’re going to be noticing even invisible creatures that are trying to sneak up on you as part of that ambush, and that’s awesome. The feat tax is definitely heavy, but probably worth it for this great feat.
Stabbing Shot: This is a super weird feat, but can come in handy once in a while. Essentially, you get to stick an arrow in the guy next to you as a melee attack and push him back 5 feet, therefore allowing you to start shooting arrows at him without provoking attacks of opportunity. The requirements are relatively minimal assuming you are a bow-focused character, so I’d say this one’s probably worth picking up.
Gnomes are related distantly to fey creatures, and as such they have an innate tie to nature. They also are known to have very quirky personalities, and so they are often one of the easier races to roleplay, as roleplayers generally use their characters to fill a character role that they wish they could fill themselves, and this lends to character personalities that are on the more extreme ends of eccentricity. Gnomes have some innate magical abilities that can be useful in some campaigns, but are completely useless in others, so choose your alternate race traits wisely!
Ability Scores: Gnomes are hearty and easy-going, gaining a +2 to Constitution and Charisma, but their small size hurts their Strength score. This lends them well to essentially any type of spellcaster, but especially those that use Charisma as their main stat such as Sorcerer and Oracle. The boost to Constitution will be a help to characters of any class.
Size: Gnomes are Small, which is definitely a double-edged sword. They get a +1 size bonus to AC, which can be a huge help, and a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, which is wonderful. They also get a huge +4 size bonus to Stealth checks. The -1 to CMB and CMD hurts, but it’s not a huge deal. The real issue with small size comes from the next racial trait...
Speed: Gnomes have a base speed of 20 feet, and unlike dwarves, they are still subject to encumbrance. With a -2 to Strength, you’d be surprised how easy it is to encumber your gnome character to the point of being unable to move, so inventory management is of HUGE importance to any gnome.
Defensive Training: Though situational, a +4 to AC that stacks with absolutely anything can be a serious life-saver. Giants, watch out for those little creatures around your feet, they’re hard to hit!
Illusion Resistance: Also pretty situational, this gives a gnome a +2 bonus vs. spells of the illusion school. Pay attention to the options for replacing this small bonus with something better, as there are some much better options.
Keen Senses: A +2 bonus to the best skill in the game is always welcome. This one’s a keeper.
Obsessive: You can get Craft and Profession bonuses boosted to ridiculous levels with relatively inexpensive magic items, so this one’s not that great.
Gnome Magic: This racial trait is actually twofold; you get +1 to the DCs of any illusion spells you cast, AND you get several spell-like abilities to cast once per day. Note that the DCs of these spell-like abilities are Charisma-based, like most SLAs are.
Hatred: Another very situational bonus, but if you know you’re going to be playing in a campaign where you will fight goblins or lizardmen by the swarms, it might be nice to have.
Weapon Familiarity: There is only one weapon that has the word “gnome” in its name, so I would normally suggest dropping it for some other, better alternate racial trait. Sadly, there are none that replace it, so you’ll just have to deal with this mostly useless trait.
Low-Light Vision: This can come in handy in shadowy areas, though in my experience most DMs only really pay attention to darkvision. Still, it’s a useful ability when it’s needed.
Academician [Obsessive]: +2 to a Knowledge skill will probably come in handy much more often than +2 to a Craft or Profession skill would, so I’d choose this one and run with it.
Bond to the Land [Defensive training, Hatred]: This ability makes a lot of sense for a character who knows that they’ll be spending a lot of time in one type of terrain, say if you know that your campaign will involve a lot of dungeoneering. A +2 dodge bonus against any type of creature is most definitely better than a +4 dodge bonus against one type of creature, so I’d suggest taking this one, though it’s important to note that you also have to give up your hatred against reptilians and goblinoids to get it.
Darkvision [Low-light vision, Keen senses]: This is another ability that is probably worth the trade-off about 90% of the time, so even though I love getting a boost to perception and low-light vision, I’d say this is probably a good choice.
Eternal Hope [Defensive training, Hatred]: I absolutely love this ability, because you get a stacking bonus to saves against fear effects AND you can re-roll a 1 on your d20 once per day. Re-rolling a 1 is like giving your character a second chance not to fail miserably, so I’m once again going to suggest that everyone take this. You’ll have to make a choice between this trait and Bond to the Land, and honestly both of them are great choices. Eternal Hope is probably better for a character who doesn’t know what type of campaign they’re playing in, if that helps you decide.
Explorer [Hatred, Obsessive]: This one’s interesting because it basically duplicates the Academician alternate trait, but also trades out a bonus to attack rolls versus some creatures for a bonus to Climb checks. If your character is going to Climb around a lot, then take this one, otherwise you’re better off keeping Hatred (or trading it for Bond to the Land or Eternal Hope, HINT HINT) and just taking Academician.
Fell Magic [Gnome magic]: Personally, I think this ability is all-around better than the standard Gnome Magic trait that it replaces, because Necromancy spells are just generally more powerful than illusions (that’s gonna come back to haunt me, I can feel it already). The list of spell-like abilities that you get from this are also generally better, in my opinion. An important note here, though, is that the spell DCs are based on Wisdom instead of Charisma, so if you’re dumping Wis then you probably want to stick with the standard Gnome Magic.
Gift of Tongues [Defensive training, Hatred]: This doesn’t seem like a super powerful ability, but just think back on the last time your DM asked “do any of you speak X language”, and when no one responded he or she said “oh well!” and continued with the campaign. Don’t you want to know what was written there? If your character is not going to be going into combat much (such as a Wizard or other spellcaster) you may want to consider this ability, as it’s very easy to very quickly know every language in the game.
Knack with Poison [Illusion resistance, Obsessive]: This one is a nice ability, and if you’re going to play a Rogue, Ninja, or Alchemist, you’ll proabably want to pick it up.
Magical Linguist [Illusion resistance]: This is a good choice for a gnomish bard, since they use language-dependent spells much more often than other spellcasting classes. If you’re not a bard, it’s probably not the best choice.
Master Tinker [Defensive training, Hatred]: Honestly, I really don’t like this one very much. The only time I’d consider taking this trait is if I were going to play a mostly-crafting-based character and wanted to be able to pull out any of a large number of exotic weapons that I had created when needed, which would be fun and flavorful, but not very powerful.
Pyromaniac [Gnome magic, Illusion resistance]: I absolutely love this ability both for its flavor (YAY FIRE!) and its effects. You get to be treated as a level higher when casting fire spells, which means that fireball that you cast at 5th level will be dealing 6d6 base damage. Note that this can be combined with other feats and abilities (such as Varisian Tattoo(Evocation) and several different sorcerer bloodlines) to create some truly devastating fire spells that deal much more damage than they normally would. Just as an example, I have a Sorcerer 1/Wizard 4 in a PFS game right now whose 2nd-level Burning Arc spells deal 8d6 + 17 base damage to the first target, which will usually vaporize bad guys pretty easily.
Warden of Nature [Defensive training, Hatred]: This one is pretty good, as it gives you both a bonus to AC and a bonus to attack rolls against aberrations, oozes, and vermin. However, I still like Bond to the Land and Eternal Hope better, so I recommend one of those instead.
Alchemist: Gnomes make very nice bomber Alchemists, thanks to their small size and their favored class bonus granting more bombs per day than usual. A mutagen-based melee alchemist is proably a bad idea because of the Strength penalty, though her bonus to Con will keep your gnome alchemist on her feet longer than some other races. You may also want to consider the Grenadier archetype, which can make an already excellent bomber into a stellar one. If you want to be a more nature-loving alchemist, you could consider the Preservationist archetype, bottling your nature-themed allies and setting them loose on your enemies. There is also an interesting (though not terribly strong) racial archetype for gnomes, the Saboteur, which focuses very strongly on stealth and subterfuge.
Barbarian: Gnomes aren’t the best Barbarians out there because of their small size and Strength penalty, but at least they have a good Con score and decent AC thanks to their size. You could make a gnome Barbarian work, particularly if you went mounted, and the Mounted Fury archetype definitely would be a help with that.
Bard: Bards use lots of illusions, and so the gnomish focus on illusions can be a huge help to such a bard. Bards use Charisma for casting, which gnomes get a bonus to. Small size doesn’t usually hinder a bard in any way (unless you’re going for a martial bard, in which case go pick another race), and the gnome’s fey roots lends to a good roleplaying character when making a bard. The gnome favored class option for bards is helpful too, adding 1 round to bardic performance at each level. Bards have a lot of archetypes available to them, and many of these could complement a gnomish bard very well, including the Animal Speaker, Archaeologist, and Magician archetypes. Gnomes also have a racial archetype available to them, the Prankster, which is decent but isn’t anything earth-shattering in my opinion.
Cavalier [Samurai]: Most martial classes aren’t the best choice for a gnome, but a gnome Cavalier can actually be very powerful, thanks to the mount class feature beginning at first level. This means that your gnomish Cavalier can generally move much faster than her normal base speed (a wolf mount has 50-foot movement speed!) and mounted combat can be very powerful when you’re willing to spend a few feats on it. The favored class bonus makes this even better, by increasing your mount’s base speed. The gnomish Strength penalty definitely hurts, but can be overcome. I would highly recommend the Beast Rider archetype to gain access to some of the more powerful mount options, and it leads very nicely into the Mammoth Rider prestige class, which is just ridiculously powerful. The Samurai’s key abilities are the same as the Cavalier, so it’s also a decent choice.
Cleric: A gnomish cleric is a reasonable choice, though a gnome doesn’t get a boost to Wisdom for casting. For a frontline tank-style cleric, gnome is actually a good choice, since gnomes get a boost to Con and some extra AC from their size. A necromancer-style Cleric will find the Fell Magic alternate racial trait I mentioned earlier of particular use, and will probably want to take the Undead Lord archetype to build on that.
Druid: Gnomes make great druids, for several reasons. For one, similar to a cavalier, a mounted gnome can make for a happy gnome, and druids can start riding their animal companion very early on. Secondly, their penalty to Strength and any disadvantages because of their Small size can be very easily overcome through the wild shape ability and any number of useful druid spells that augment their physical abilities. Since gnomes are fey-related, it’s very easy to imagine a gnome becoming one with the forest and protecting it from intruders, so roleplaying is easy as well. There are no specific archetypes that are better in this case than others, but overall a gnome Druid is a good choice.
Fighter: Any race can be a good Fighter, because Fighters are the most versatile class in the game. That being said, some races are going to be better at certain TYPES of fighters than others. In the case of the gnome, ranged fighter is definitely the winner. Going ranged (probably with the help of the Archer archetype) lets a gnome Fighter forget about her weak Strength score and focus on Dexterity and Constitution, making an archer with lots of hit points and a very deadly shot. Other worthy options for a gnome Fighter include the Roughrider (for all the reasons that I like the Cavalier as a gnomish option), and the Tactician (because Teamwork Feats can be a great way to help boost your party while kicking butt in your own right.)
Gunslinger: I apologize again, but by now you know how little I like the Gunslinger, so bear with me. Gunslinger seems like a great choice for a gnome, since they need absolutely no Strength (other than enough to carry their gun) and the small size gives you a boost to attack rolls right from the start. Since gnomes get a boost to Charisma, you may want to consider choosing the Mysterious Stranger archetype, which trades Wisdom out for Charisma for Grit and some Deeds. Gnomes also have a racial archetype for the Gunslinger, called the Experimental Gunsmith, which allows you to trade iterations of the gun training ability for some neat “innovations” which improve the capabilities of your gun. This is definitely flavorful and fun, so I’d recommend it, although it’s sad that it’s not compatible with the Mysterious Stranger.
Inquisitor: Honestly, everything I said about the Cleric applies to the Inquisitor in this case. A gnome Inquisitor may want to go ranged as opposed to melee, and the Infiltrator archetype seems like it would be really great, since it relies at least partially on Charisma-based skills. Other than those few specific points, Inquisitor is a decent, but not amazing, choice for a gnome.
Magus: The magus is almost exclusively a melee class, and right off the bat that gives you a disadvantage as a gnome, since gnomes have only 20 feet base movement and a penalty to Strength. The exception to this, of course, is the Myrmidarch archetype, which lets you cast spells and deliver them through ranged attacks. A gnome could also do fairly well with a Dex-based build, using Weapon Finesse and Dervish Dance to replace Strength with Dex in as many ways as possible. Note that the gnome Magus favored class option is kind of strange, letting you choose a magic weapon property from a short list and add it to the properties you can add to your weapon by using an arcane point. All in all, Magus is probably not the best choice for a gnome.
Monk: Monks are one of the most MAD (multiple attribute dependent) classes in the game, because they require decent Strength for their attacks, Dex for AC since they can’t wear armor, Wisdom for ki points and ki powers, and Constitution for hit points. A gnome’s boost to Con is helpful, but the boost to Charisma is not so much. If you do decide to be a gnome Monk, you could consider the Sohei archetype, which grants light armor proficiency and several abilities which help you with mounted combat, and as we’ve already discussed, a mounted gnome is a happy gnome.
Oracle: Aha! Now here is the divine casting class for a gnome! Your boost to Charisma raises your main casting stat, the gnome Oracle favored class option is great, and Oracles can fill pretty much any party role based on which Mystery and Revelations you choose. I mentioned the favored class option… gnomes have the option to use their Oracle’s Curse ability as if they were a higher level character, and some Curses are very powerful, especially at higher Oracle levels. I would also suggest taking the Enlightened Philosopher archetype to synergize with the Gift of Tongues alternate racial trait. All of this adds up to Oracle being one of the best choices for a gnome, alongside Sorcere and Summoner.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: A gnome paladin works pretty well, thanks to the Charisma boost. The penalty to Strength is a little painful, but can be overcome. I’d like to point out, though, that a gnome really becomes a great Paladin when she gets her mount at 5th level (and this is why I prefer the Cavalier over the Paladin for a gnome). A mounted gnome Paladin is a scary sight to any evil creature in the game, and there are a few archetypes to help you do just that: Shining Knight allows your gnome Paladin to charge on her mount without provoking any attacks of opportunity at 11th level, which is a really nice ability. You could also take an Oath Against Savagery, which allows you to extend your reach by 5 feet for a minute at a time, which can be a huge boost when you’re riding around the battlefield on a mount. You may also want to consider Divine Hunter and Holy Gun for ranged Paladin options. Just a note on Antipaladin: a gnome could make a pretty good Antipaladin in an evil campaign, for the same reasons that she could make a good Paladin in any other campaign.
Ranger: Rangers are at least partially Wisdom-based, which isn’t the best choice for a gnome. A Ranger focused on ranged combat could be a great choice, however. The Skirmisher or Trapper archetypes may be a good choice, since they give up spellcasting, alleviating the need for a high Wisdom score. Rangers have a nature theme, which works very well for a gnome, so overall a gnome Ranger is a decent choice.
Rogue [Ninja]: A gnome’s small size and boost to Charisma will be helpful for a Ninja, since ki points are Charisma-based for them. There are far too many Rogue archetypes out there, although none of them specifically call to me for a Gnome. I do want to point out, though, that a Ninja or any other user of ki can take Monk Vows to increase their ki pool, so I highly recommend looking at those. The Vow of Silence probably makes the most sense for a Ninja, but you could have some fun role-playing if you try some of the others.
Sorcerer: Gnomes make some of the best Sorcerers in the game, thanks to their boost to Charisma and their innate magical abilities. I was actually surprised not to see a racial archetype or bloodline for gnomes in the Advanced Race Guide, though I suppose the Fey bloodline covers them from a role-playing perspective. I’m not going to go into the bloodlines themselves (I made a separate guide all about that here) but if you do choose a bloodline that has a first-level bloodline power that’s usable 3 + Cha times per day, consider using the gnome Sorcerer favored class option to let you use it more often. The Seeker archetype strikes me as very gnome-ish, so you might want to consider it for the purposes of flavor, though it’s not a super powerful archetype. Also, if you choose a fire-based bloodline, make sure to pick up the Pyromaniac alternate race trait, because it’s pretty incredible.
Summoner: The iconic Summoner is a gnome, for good reason. Like Sorcerers, Summoners are completely Charisma-based, and that’s great for a gnome. One of the first suggestions I have for a gnome Summoner is to pick either the quadruped or serpentine form of Eidolon. Why? Because that lets you use your Eidolon as a mount! (Look back at the Cavalier description if you don’t know why that’s a good thing.) Since you’re a Small creature, and your eidolon is Medium, you’ve effectively gotten yourself a powerful mount at 1st level. If you want to really take advantage of this, make sure you give your gnome Summoner a decent Strength score, and give him a lance. Other great eidolon evolutions you’ll want to consider include Shadow Blend (from the Advanced Race Guide) and Minor Magic (vanish). The archetypes for the summoner are all pretty incredible, though the best one by far is the Synthesist. I would also consider the First Worlder archetype, though, because it would be very flavorful for a gnome, and it changes your eidolon to a Fey creature, which again makes sense for the gnome’s nature theme. The gnome Summoner favored class option is to add +1 hit point to your eidolon, which might be worth it assuming you use it as a front-line fighter.
Witch: A gnome can make a great witch, because the Witch’s hexes really allow you to build a character that essentially never needs to be in melee. Just pick up the Flight and Evil Eye hex right from the start, and your character can just levitate (at 3rd level) or fly (at 5th level) up into the sky and hex every enemy on the battlefield. Gnomes also get one of the best Witch favored class options, +1/6 of a hex every level. More hexes is ALWAYS a good thing for a witch. As far as archetypes, look at the Beast-Bonded witch, because starting at 10th level, your character basically will never die. The Hedge Witch is also a great choice if you think your party might need a little bit of extra healing.
Wizard: Like the Witch, a gnome Wizard can work out really well, mostly for the same reasons. For me, the choice between Witch and Wizard comes down to what you want to accomplish. If you want to heal or debuff enemies, stick with the Witch. If you want to buff your allies, summon creatures, blast, or just be a generally useful character for your party, go Wizard. Other than that, they really work out very similarly for a gnome. As far as archetypes, if you want to deal some extra damage you could consider the Arcane Bomber or Spellslinger archetypes, but honestly if you’re looking for a character that can cast well and use weapons well, you should be looking at the Magus instead.
Alchemist: If you’re a bomber Alchemist, +1/2 to your bombs per day is great. If you’re not focusing on bombs, however, this is no good.
Barbarian: Just a bonus to trap sense? No thanks!
Bard: Extra Bardic Performance rounds per day are always a good thing, so this one’s a keeper.
Cavalier: As I discussed above, you get to add base speed to your mount, which is just incredible for a Cavalier. This is one of the best favored class bonuses in the game.
Cleric: This bonus is weak because it doesn’t increase your healing when channeling to heal humanoids, which is what your party members are most likely going to be.
Druid: Resistance to an elemental damage type is really nice, so you’ll probably want to pick this one up.
Fighter: A bonus to CMD would be great, but this bonus only applies against dirty trick and steal maneuvers, which enemies will almost NEVER use. This one stinks.
Gunslinger: Given how little experience I have with gunslingers, I don’t know how often you will really need to repair your gun after it gains the broken condition, but this seems to me like a decent bonus.
Inquisitor: A bonus to concentration checks could come in handy, but there are better favored class bonuses out there.
Magus: This is one of the strangest and most specific favored class bonuses in the game. You get to choose from a list of magical properties, allowing you to add that property to your weapon in addition to the ones a magus can normally add. Some of these are really nice, like defending, ghost touch, and menacing, so I like this choice, overall.
Monk: A favored class bonus that you can’t choose until 5th level is already weak, and a boost to Acrobatics checks when you’re spending a ki point isn’t even that powerful, so I’d steer clear of this one unless you plan to move through a lot of enemy’s threatened squares. Like, all the time..
Oracle: While this favored class option is not nearly as amazing as the one that elves get, you will still find that being treated as a higher class level for your Oracle’s Curse ability will serve you very well. For example, if you chose the Clouded Vision curse, you could have blindsense 30 feet at 7th level instead of 10th, which is a big deal. An even bigger boost is having blindsight 15 at TENTH LEVEL. There are several other really good bonuses associated with Oracle Curses, so definitely pay attention to what you’ll get the most out of with this favored class option.
Paladin: Extra hit points on your lay on hands ability is nice, especially for healing yourself with a swift action in a pinch.
Ranger: Adding DR to your animal companion is pretty sweet, though you won’t see the benefit of this until you actually GET an animal companion at 4th level. The Beastmaster or Falconer archetypes might be a good choice here, since they get companions beginning at first level.
Rogue: This one is definitely situational, since as a Rogue you’re not going to be dealing with glyphs and scrolls all that often (Use Magic Device checks are for wands, silly!).
Sorcerer: If you have a first-level bloodline power that you love, here’s a nice way to use it more times per day! However, if you don’t have a first-level bloodline power measured in uses per day, this is not helpful in the least.
Summoner: Extra hit points for your eidolon is great, especially if you’re using it as a mount like I suggested earlier.
Witch: There is seriously no such thing as too many hexes, so this is an EXCELLENT choice.
Wizard: Just like the Sorcerer, if you have an awesome 1st-level school power that you love, this lets you use it more often, but if you don’t, you’re better off with a skill point or hit point.
Experimental Gunsmith (Gunslinger): As much as I dislike the Gunslinger, this archetype actually makes me consider playing one. It reminds me of one of my favorite 3.5e classes that never made its way to Pathfinder, the Artificer. Essentially, this archetype lets your gnome add some unique and powerful abilities to her gun, making her seem more like a mad scientist than a cowboy, which I can appreciate in a fantasy setting. I especially like the Grapple Launcher ability, as I can just imagine a gnome sticking a grappling hook into a gun and firing it up to get to a ledge.
Prankster (Bard): The Prankster bard is exactly what I have always thought of a gnome as being... a little trickster who delights in causing mischief and loves making people laugh. I absolutely LOVE the Punchline ability, which causes your enemies to be affected by hideous laughter if you successfully mock them. I can also imagine the Swap ability causing quite a stir in the midst of battle, as the big bad guy tries to pull out a wand of fireball to finish off the party’s fighter, only to find a lollipop in his hand instead.
Saboteur (Alchemist): The Saboteur is a very interesting archetype, as it replaces the alchemist’s mutagen with a stealth-boosting Chameleon Mutagen, at the expense of your Strength. This means it would be great for a character trying to do sneak attack damage, so I’d strongly suggest combining this archetype with the Vivisectionist archetype to replace bombs with sneak damage. However, I can’t rate this archetype very high, because a Ninja would be MUCH better at this kind of battle than the Saboteur ever could be. If you DID go with this, the blur and displacement spells will definitely be your friend, as they will allow you to use Stealth in plain sight, thanks to the concealment they provide.
Arcane Trickster: Gnomes are very well-suited to be Arcane Tricksters, as their Small size helps both with Stealth checks and attack rolls (since casters normally have fairly weak base attack bonus). The fastest way to get into this prestige class is with three levels of Wizard and three of Rogue or Ninja. However, for a gnome I believe the best way to qualify is with four levels of Myrmidarch Magus and three of Ninja. This will let you use a bow (or even shuriken) to deliver all of your ray-style spells, giving you some extra damage from the arrow or shuriken each time. If you choose shuriken, you can also choose Flurry of Stars as your ninja trick, letting you spend a ki point to throw an extra two shuriken in a full attack. Just make sure to invest a bit into Strength, since you add Strength bonus to shuriken damage. At 8th level, you’ll start into the Arcane Trickster class and eventually get fun things like Impromptu Sneak Attack and Invisible Thief, letting you apply your sneak damage much more often.
Mammoth Rider: This is one of my favorite new prestige classes from Paths of Prestige, and for a gnome it’s just incredible. I’ve already discussed at length how nice being mounted can be for a gnome, and Mammoth Rider boosts your mount up to Huge size at first level. This means that at 10th character level, our gnome Cavalier’s wolf mount suddenly grows to Huge size, which is just crazy awesome. If you choose to continue in the Mammoth Rider class from that point on, your steed will get even more powerful every two levels, but you’ll be missing out on the Cavalier’s high-level abilities, so I would actually suggest sticking with just a one-level dip for the Huge-size mount.
Shadowdancer: The Shadowdancer’s stiff tax of three feats is painful, but for any stealthy character, Hide in Plain Sight is more than worth the investment. My suggestion is to take five levels of Ninja, picking up Combat Reflexes very early with your first-level feat, Dodge with your third-level feat, and using your fourth-level ninja trick to pick up Mobility. Then at 6th level, you grab your one level of Shadowdancer. It also might be worth your time to take two more levels of Shadowdancer to gain the Summon Shadow ability, which essentially gives you a shadow creature familiar, and you also pick up an extra Rogue Talent while you’re there. After that, go back to Ninja and enjoy the almost-constant sneak attack damage you get to your attacks!
Arcane School Spirit: This feat requires a full-round action to reduce a target’s save against the next spell you cast, and it has to be a spell in your chosen arcane school. There are so few situations where spending a full-round action is worth this benefit, that I just can’t see this being a worthy feat for anyone.
Arcane Talent: A thrice-per-day cantrip spell is not worth a feat, period. Stay away.
Bewildering Koan: This is a really interesting feat, and for a gnome Ninja or Monk is probably a really good option. Spending only a swift action to force your enemy to lose its next action is a very powerful ability, and sometimes that bonus +2 damage could come in handy also.
Breadth of Experience: This feat gives you +2 to all Knowledge and Profession skills, so it might be worth a look if you’re playing in PFS and never want to fail a Knowledge check. For a Wizard or Bard, who probably has good Knowledge checks anyway, this probably isn’t worth your time.
Casual Illusionist: For any gnome character who uses Bluff, Sleight of Hand, or Disguise often, this may be a good option, since most times you’re not going to use up all of your gnome magic SLAs in a day. If you were considering the Decietful feat, take this one instead (although the stipulation that this feat counts as Decietful for all feat and class prerequisites only helps you if you were planning to take the Master Spy prestige class, since this is the only class/feat other than third-party material that requires Decietful.)
Effortless Trickery: Wow, this is an absolutely amazing feat. For an illusion-focused caster (which gnomes are amazing at, by the way), this is a must-have feat. You get to use a swift action to concentrate on an illusion spell, letting you continue casting other spells or even concentrate on a SECOND illusion using your standard action each round! Seriously, this is a great choice.
Extra Gnome Magic: This one might be useful for a non-caster who wants to light up their enemies often using dancing lights, or for someone who also chose the Casual Illusionist feat right above this one, but otherwise it’s just not really worth a feat.
Expanded Resistance: This feat could be very useful for a Cavalier or other front-line type of character who is worried about failing Will saves and attacking her allies. Choose the enchantment school, and you’ll be failing saves against compulsions much less often.
Gnome Trickster: Again, spending a feat to get a few extra cantrips is just not worth it.
Gnome Weapon Focus: This is probably the biggest “trap” feat in the game, since there’s only one weapon with “Gnome” in the name, the Gnome Hooked Hammer. While this is actually a fairly nice weapon, the Weapon Focus feat gives you the same exact bonus and is a prerequisite for many other excellent feats, so just take that instead.
Great Hatred: If you find yourself using your Hatred bonus often, this feat is probably worth it, otherwise it’s useless.
Groundling: I can imagine this feat being used to create a super flavorful gnome character who travels with a family of gophers who give him advice and with whom he carries on conversations constantly. However, that’s the ONLY situation in which this feat would be worth taking.
Tantrum: For a gnome Barbarian/Rogue or Barbarian/Alchemist(Vivisectionist) this would be a great choice as a way to get sneak damage in battle, but othewise the Feint ability is just too action-intensive to be worth it.
Vast Hatred: This is an excellent choice for a Ranger who wants to really mess up his favored enemies, since it would stack with that ability. I could also see this being useful in a campaign where one type of enemy is very prominent, such as one based in a crypt full of undead, or in the midst of a war against an army of orcs. Overall, I really like this feat.
Halflings are described as optimistic, cheerful little people who are curious to a fault, strangely lucky, and don’t really have a culture of their own, preferring to adopt whatever culture they happen to be in at the time. They make for great rogues, bards, and sorcerers, but can really excel at almost any class thanks to the excellent alternate racial traits available to them.
Ability Scores: Halflings get +2 to Dexterity and Charisma, and -2 to Strength. This makes them extremely good at both ranged combat and highly mobile melee combat.
Size: Halflings are Small, giving them a bonus to Stealth that will come in handy if you decide to sneak around. They also get a +1 bonus to attack rolls thanks to their size.
Speed: Like gnomes, halflings only get a 20 ft movement speed, and it is still affected by encumberance.
Fearless: A bonus on saves against fear effects can definitely come in handy. This also stacks with halfling luck, so you get an effective +3 against fear effects. Not bad at all!
Halfling Luck: +1 to ALL saving throws is a huge deal. However, there are several great options for alternate racial traits that replace Halfling Luck, so don’t ignore those.
Sure-Footed: +2 to Climb and Acrobatics isn’t terribly exciting, and it can be replaced by Fleet of Foot, which I highly recommend.
Weapon Familiarity: Like gnomes, halflings only have a single weapon with their race name in it, and that’s the Halfling Sling Staff. While this is a decent weapon, I do wish this ability could be replaced with something more useful.
Keen Senses: A +2 to the best skill in the game is absolutely awesome. Keep this one.
Adaptable Luck [Halfling Luck]: This is a decent ability, but honestly it’s just not nearly as good as the ability it replaces. I’d stick with Halfling Luck over this one.
Craven [Fearless, Halfling Luck]: This ability is sort of weird, because it gives the most benefit when you’re under the affect of a fear effect. You also never get to benefit from morale bonuses against fear effects, which can be painful. However, a +1 to initiative is great, a +1 to attack when flanking is very nice (especially for a Rogue), and a speed boost of 10 feet when you’re scared is pretty cool. I like this option.
Fleet of Foot [Slow Speed, Sure-footed]: This ability is one of the best racial abilities in the game. You get to be a small creature while giving up basically the only negative part of being a small creature. Take this one.
Halfling Jinx [Halfling Luck]: This ability is very interesting, and there are a whole slew of feats that you can take to boost its utility in battle. For a halfling Witch or debuffer-focused Bard, this could be a great complement to Hexes or Bardic Performance.
Ingratiating [Keen Senses, Sure-footed]: The bonuses from this ability are nowhere near worth what you have to give up. Stay away from this one.
Low Blow [Keen Senses]: Keen Senses is just way better than this one, unless you’re going to be a critical-focused character, like a Magus or critical-based Fighter.
Outrider [Sure-footed]: For a halfling Cavalier or any other mounted character, this is probably worth your time.
Polyglot [Keen Senses]: A bonus to LInguistics checks and an extra known language is not really worth trading away a +2 to Perception, so this one’s no good.
Practicality [Fearless, Sure-footed]: This one might be worth it if you’re more worried about illusion spells than fear effects. I’d probably recommend it.
Shiftless [Sure-footed]: If you’re going to be the party “face”, this is definitely worth the trade.
Swift as Shadows [Sure-footed]: For a sniper, reducing the penalty to Stealth from sniping is incredibly valuable, but for any other character this probably isn’t worth your time.
Underfoot [Halfling Luck]: +1 to all saving throws is definitely better than +1 AC. You probably shouldn’t choose this one.
Wanderlust [Fearless, Halfling Luck]: For a buff-focused caster, this one might be worth your time. Otherwise, no good.
Warslinger [Sure-footed]: If you’re planning to use a sling, this one’s probably a good choice.
Sacred Keepsakes: While these are not actually a racial trait, they are a halfling-only option from Halflings of Golarion that your GM might let you take which give a very small boost to a specific divine spell. There’s no negative consequences to picking one, so you may as well!
Alchemist: A halfling can make a very good bomber-style alchemist, just like a gnome can, although the halfling Alchemist favored class option is not as useful, since you can always just pay some gold to copy a formula from a scroll. The Grenadier is a solid option, and I would also consider the Beastmorph archetype, as some of the abilities you can gain through alter self and beast shape can come in really handy.
Barbarian: Let’s face it, small characters were never meant to be Barbarians. The penalty to Strength is pretty much always going to cause you a problem. Now, with that said, if you’re dead-set on a halfling Barbarian, my recommendation is to take the Urban Barbarian archetype, using your Controlled Rage ability to gain a bonus to Dexterity, and be a ranged Barbarian. Make sure to pick up the Fleet of Foot racial trait I talked about earlier, as you’re giving up the Barbarian’s Fast Movement ability for this archetype. You can probably make good use of the halfling Barbarian favored class bonus with this build too (adding it to Surprise Accuracy), since it lets you gain a much higher morale bonus to one attack per rage as a swift action.
Bard: Halflings make exceptional caster or buffer Bards, thanks to their boost to Charisma. The penalty to Strength is going to keep you out of melee for the most part, but that’s totally fine. Bards have tons of archetypes available to them, and none of them specifically scream “HALFLING” to me, so just check all of them out!
Cavalier [Samurai]: Halflings can make great Cavaliers for all the same reasons that gnomes do, but they have the addded bonus of getting a racial Cavalier order, the Order of the Paw, which makes dog and wolf mounts even better! The favored class option is also pretty great, treating your halfing Cavalier as a higher level for his challenge damage when making attacks of opportunity. I’d strongly suggest picking up a weapon with range, Improved Unarmed Strike, and Combat Expertise to get as many attacks of opportunity as possible. I would also consider picking up overrun feats up through Greater Overrun, since the Order of the Paw gives bonuses to overrun maneuvers. The Strategist archetype also seems like a good choice for a halfling.
Cleric: Halflings aren’t amazing as Clerics, since they don’t have a bonus to Wisdom. The Charisma bonus does help with Channel Energy, so a halfling Cleric can make a good “party face” type of cleric. To that end, the Evangelist archetype replaces some channel energy dice with the equivalent of bardic performance, which also uses Charisma. Also make sure to check out the Sacred Keepsakes from Gnomes of Golarion, as they offer small boosts to divine casters that can come in handy, particular the Blessed Button keepsake, which makes the ammunition of a sling which you cast bless weapon on count as magic for the purposes of bypassing damage reduction.
Druid: Nothing keeps a halfling from being a good Druid, but their ability score bonuses mean they probably aren’t going to excel at it either. The best way to maximize your Druidic awesomeness as a halfling is to take advantage of your small size and use your animal companion as a mount. It’s also important to note that the halfling’s small size and penalty to Strength can be easily overcome by using Wild Shape, and this can be made even more powerful by taking one of the [insert animal name here] Shaman archetypes. I personally prefer the Saurian Shaman, since they get the most options for wild shape by far, and summoning dinosaurs using summon nature’s ally spells as a standard action is a seriously excellent ability. The halfling Druid’s favored class bonus is also pretty sweet, adding +1/4 luck bonus per level to her animal companion. Make sure to also look at the Sacred Keepsake choices, especially the Harvester’s Pouch or Trainer’s Whistle.
Fighter: Halflings can make for good ranged fighters, so the Archer archetype is definitely your friend. You might also want to consider the Warslinger alternate racial trait I talked about above. If you really want to go into melee with your little Fighter, you might consider the Aldori Swordlord archetype, the abilities of which focus on defense and dodging attacks. The favored class bonus is relatively weak, so I’d stick with a bonus hit point per level instead.
Gunslinger: Gunslingers are really just ranged Fighters with guns, so a halfling can obviously turn out to be a great Gunslinger. The halfling’s boost to Charisma makes the Mysterious Stranger archetype a very good option, so you’ll want to consider that as well.
Inquisitor: Without a bonus to Wisdom, the Inquisitor class isn’t the best choice for a halfling. You may, however, find that combining the Inquisitor’s abilities with the Halfling Jinx alternate racial trait serves you well. The Infiltrator archetype strikes me as a good choice for a halfling, as they excel at being sneaky and also have good Charisma bonuses to things like bluff and diplomacy. Make sure to look at the Sacred Keepsake choices, especially the Decisive Game Piece.
Magus: Halflings aren’t really meant for melee, so Magus is generally a poor choice for them. The exception to this, of course, is the Myrmidarch archetype, but it still is a weak option compared to a full spellcaster. If you ARE trying to make a melee-based Magus out of your halfling, I’d suggest looking at the Kapenia Dancer archetype, which adds flavor and the ability to give your weapon of choice, the bladed scarf, reach using your arcane pool, which can keep you out of harm’s way in the right situation.
Monk: A halfling can make a surprisingly excellent Monk, though the lack of a Wisdom bonus will always hurt your optimizability. The best choice is the most obvious one: the Zen Archer. This class is always up for debate because of using a flurry with a single weapon, which some of the Pathfinder developers have balked at, but as of now it’s still a legal choice for your character. Another possible way to make an excellent halfling Monk is using the Sohei archetype, which gives you several excellent options for mounted combat. This is one of the few times I’d strongly suggest multiclassing, however, because the Sohei doesn’t actually get a bonded mount. My suggestion is to take a level of Cavalier (Order of the Paw) at first level to get an excellent wolf mount, and pick up the Boon Companion feat at that level also. Then, as you take your next four levels in Sohei, your mount will become more powerful. After that, you may want to alternate Cavalier and Monk levels. Another great option is to combine the Maneuver Master archetype with the halfling-specific Underfoot Adept archetype, giving you tons of trip attempts that can be used on enemies much MUCH larger than yourself.
Oracle: A halfling oracle is a great choice, without a doubt. First off, definitely pick up the Fleet of Foot alternate racial trait, because then you can choose the Lame oracle curse and you’ve just effectively negated the curse’s penalty. The halfling’s Charisma boost will serve you very well as an Oracle, and the favored class bonus is really excellent as well, letting you treat your Oracle’s Curse class feature as if you were a higher level. You’ll probably also want to look at the Community Guardian halfling-specific archetype, which grants a few interesting buff-style revelations. Make sure to look at the Sacred Keepsakes, especially the Blessed Button.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: Halflings can make very good Paladins, thanks to the Charisma boost and the mount class feature. I would suggest going with a ranged build, but sadly the only truly ranged-focused archetypes, the Divine Hunter and the Holy Gun, both give up the mount for a bond with your bow, so I would recommend against them. Stick with a vanilla Paladin, focusing on using your Smite Evil ability at range and possibly dipping into the Zen Archer Monk to get the ranged flurry of blows feature, though that will require you to wear no armor. I’d also like to point out that the Antipaladin is limited for a halfling when compared to the Paladin, since he can’t choose a bonded mount (though he can still summon a creature that can serve as a mount using his fiendish boon ability).
Ranger: A ranger isn’t the best choice for a halfling, since you don’t get your animal companion until later levels, and there’s no bonus to Wisdom. You could, however, pick up the Beastmaster archetype to get your animal companion at first level. I also like the Infiltrator archetype for a halfling Ranger, more for flavor than anything, since halflings don’t really have much of a society of their own in Golarion, so it makes sense for a halfling Ranger to pick up abilities of those he’s around a lot.
Rogue [Ninja]: Halflings were practically born to be Rogues, and they make even better Ninjas thanks to the Charisma boost. In either case, you should be picking up both the Fleet of Foot and Craven alternate racial traits. If you decide to go with a ninja, the Vanishing Trick ninja trick can be invaluable. If you decide to stick with the Rogue, make sure to check out the Filcher archetype, which is only available to halflings, and lets your little Rogue become a master thief, even in the heat of combat. Sadly, there is only one other archetype that can be combined with the Filcher, and that’s the Investigator, which is not that exciting. Oh, and the favored class bonus is crap, ignore it unless you’re planning to use a sling.
Sorcerer: Sorcerer is a great option for a halfling, thanks to the Charisma bonus and not having to rely on Strength. The halfling Sorcerer favored class bonus gives you additional uses of your first-level bloodline power, so you may want to choose a bloodline that has a good first power to take advantage of that. I’d recommend the Aquatic (or Seaborn), Daemon, Deep Earth (or Bedrock), Maestro, or Umbral bloodlines for decent 1st-level powers (but see my Bloodline Guide for more details on that). If you’re looking to be a sneaky mix of Sorcerer and Cleric, the Razmiran Priest archetype works very well for a halfling, and it leads nicely into the Razmiran Priest prestige class as well. You can also make good use of the halfling jinx racial trait thanks to your high Charisma, and there are a bunch of feats that can make your jinxes more powerful (see my halfling Witch entry below for some details).
Summoner: Personally, I like halflings as Summoners for several reasons. First off, and most importantly, you get a bonus to Charisma which is both your primary casting stat and important for the abilities of your eidolon. Secondly, since the eidolon should theoretically be doing all the attacking (other than a few exceptional builds that I’ll mention in a minute), you don’t have to worry about that pesky Strength penalty very much. Third, this is yet another class that gives you a creature you can ride on right at first level, and I always love that. If you do decide to ride around on your eidolon, the Shield Ally ability will give you a +2 shield bonus to AC and a matching circumstance bonus to your saves pretty much all the time, and when combined with your small size and high Dex, not much is going to hit you. There aren’t any arechetypes that are specifically any better for halfling Summoners unless you want to go the Synthesist route, as replacing all of your physical stats with your eidolons can be sweet for a small character. The favored class bonus is +1 skill rank for an eidolon, which is really only useful if you’re using your eidolon as a skill monkey.
Witch: The Witch isn’t the most optimal choice for a halfling with the standard racial traits, since Hex DCs are Intelligence-based. However, if you decide to augment your Hexing ability with the halfling jinx racial trait, you can put together some pretty amazing debuffing combos. For example, if you were to take the Malicious Eye feat along with the Sluggish Jinx feat, every time you successfully use your Evil Eye Hex on a target, they’ll also take a penalty to initiative and attack rolls, in addition to the penalty to saving throws from halfling jinx. You can also combine this with Worst Case Jinx to cause all beneficial effects cast on the target of your Evil Eye hex to be minimized, which can keep your enemies from effectively healing themselves or buffing their allies. If you really want to get the most out of both Hexes and Jinxes separately, you may also consider grabbing Versatile Jinxer to change the DCs for your jinxes to be based on Intelligence. The favored class option is pretty good, giving you a boost to caster level when casting patron spells, which can be very helpful.
Wizard: You can make a good Wizard as a halfling, but the lack of an Intelligence boost hurts your chances a bit. There also aren’t really any good racial options or Wizard archetypes that fit. You could focus on a debuffing build and use jinxes like I suggested with the Witch, but honestly the Witch just does that way better. The favored class bonus is also not that interesting, since raising your effective caster level for your familiar’s abilities doesn’t give it extra hit points.
Alchemist: Adding extracts to your book is decent if you don’t want to spend gold on it, but since you CAN just add these by picking up a scroll of the spell, it’s not the best option out there.
Barbarian: This one is pretty terrible, becuase you increase your effective Barbarian level for only two abilities, and one of those is optional! Stay away!
Bard: This is an extremely situational bonus, so unless you’re planning to have to infiltrate human or elf settlements as a child all the time, take the skill point instead.
Cavalier: This is a good favored class bonus, because it lets you increase your effective class level to determine the damage you do with attacks of opportunity, and if you’ve made a halfling Cavalier you’re likely trying to get lots of attacks of opportunity.
Cleric: If you get a 1st-level domain power that you love, this is a great option, otherwise ignore it.
Druid: Adding a luck bonus to the saving throws of your animal companion is pretty incredible, especially since as a Small character you’re likely going to be riding your companion and letting it take all the hits.
Fighter: This would be a good bonus if it worked for CMD checks against more than just two maneuvers. While trip and grapple are the two most common combat maneuvers, this still isn’t quite up to snuff.
Gunslinger: This is actually one of the better favored class options in the game, because you get to add to two different, stacking bonuses to AC. First, you’ll want to spend 8 levels of favored class bonus on increasing your constant Dodge bonus to AC from the Nimble class feature by +2, resulting in a total Dodge bonus to AC of +7 at 20th level (AWESOME!). Then after those 8 levels, you can spend all 12 of your other favored class bonuses to increase the bonus you get when using Gunslinger’s Dodge by +3. This means that against a ranged attack, at 20th level, your Gunslinger can spend juse one grit point to drop prone, giving you a total of +14 dodge/untyped bonus to AC against that attack, which is pretty damned impressive.
Inquisitor: The ability to change your teamwork feat more times per day can be very poweful, especially if you’re running an Inquisitor build that doesn’t have super high Wisdom. If you’ve picked up an archetype that drops Solo Tactics and Teamwork Feats, however, you’re not going to be interested in this one.
Magus: Magus’ arcana are one of the best parts of being a Magus, so getting more arcana is a great option for a favored class bonus.
Monk: I’m not a huge fan of this option for two reasons: 1) if you’re grappling a lot, you probably should have chosen a Medium-sized race, and 2) several of the best monk archetypes drop Stunning Fist, so if you’ve chosen one of those archetypes the second half of the bonus is useless to you.
Oracle: Boosting your effective level for the Oracle’s curse can be a very VERY good option. Read my explanation of this ability in the Gnome section, as they get the exact same favored class option. It’s great.
Paladin: A few extra hit points gained when using Lay on Hands doesn’t seem that powerful, but don’t forget that you can use Lay on Hands on yourself as a swift action, meaning that if you get in trouble and your HP is low, you can heal yourself with it every single round without missing a beat. Those extra hit points can really add up over several rounds, so I like this one.
Ranger: The Ranger’s favored enemy class feature is great, and this favored class bonus boosts the dodge bonus to AC that you get against any of your favored enemies, so this is seriously great.
Rogue: If you’re going to be using a sling, dagger, or the Halfling Sling Staff, you’ll definitely want to take this favored class option, but if not then it’s useless.
Sorcerer: Bloodline powers can be very useful, and so if you have a 1st-level one that’s measured in uses per day, consider taking this option.
Summoner: An extra skill rank for your eidolon isn’t the most exciting thing on earth unless you’re planning to use the eidolon as the party’s skill monkey (usually along with the Master Summoner archetype).
Witch: Caster level boosts are not easy to come by, so this one is pretty much a no-brainer for a halfling Witch. Patron spells are usually a mix of really good and only decent spells, so make sure to pick a patron with really good spells!
Wizard: Your familiar shouldn’t be going into battle. Like, ever. I’d suggest you pick up a skill point or hit point instead of this one.
Community Guardian (Oracle): For a healing or buffing-based Oracle, you would do well to consider taking this archetype. The two Revelations gained both focus on buffing and healing your allies, with the first-level ability focused on skill checks, and the third-level ability granting either an AC bonus or hit point healing. Also note that you gain several really good class skills, including the best skill in the game, Perception, by taking this archetype.
Filcher (Rogue): This archetype is all about appraising items on your enemies, stealing those items from them, and then sneakily using those items against other enemies. You’re going to want your Sleight of Hand checks to be as high as possible, because starting at fourth level, you’ll learn to use the Steal combat maneuver but substitute your Sleight of Hand check for the normal CMB check, which means you’ll be able to steal pretty much anything from an enemy at higher levels. Want to mess with an enemy caster? Steal his spell component pouch. Want to make it easier for your Witch friend to Hex the enemy? Steal his cloak of resistance. Seriously, this can be crazy good in a lot of diverse situations, so I’d recommend it.
Underfoot Adept (Monk): This archetype is all about moving around and through your enemy’s squares and tripping them up. Right from the beginning, you take a lesser penalty for using Acrobatics while moving at full speed, so make sure to pick up the Fleet of Foot racial option. You also gain Improved Trip as a bonus feat with no prerequisites, and as you gain levels you can trip larger and larger foes. If you want to build a tripping build that is unconventional and very mobile, a halfling Underfoot Adept would be a great way to do it.
Order of the Paw (Cavalier Order): While not technically an archetype, halflings get their own option for their Cavalier Order, and it’s a pretty good one. If you’re playing a halfling Cavalier, it’s likely that you’ll be riding a wolf or riding dog for most of your career, and this order gives you some nice options that are specific to canine mounts, along with some more general abilities that help all your allies. I especially like Canine Ferocity, which treats your canine mount as one size larger for calculating the bull rush or overrun combat maneuvers.
Daggermark Poisoner: I like this prestige class for a halfling because I can imagine a halfling Ninja who specializes in poisoning his foes working toward entry into the Daggermark Poisoners’ Guild, diligently learning how to craft more and more dangerous poisons. The 6th-level ability Swift Poisoning lets you pull out a vial of poison and apply it to a weapon all as a swift action that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity, which is great, but the most incredible ability is your 8th-level Instantaneous Toxicology, which lets you create a poison in ONE ROUND. Awesome!
Halfling Opportunist: This prestige class is halfling-specific, and to be honest I’m not a huge fan of it toward the beginning, because its main ability, Exploitive Maneuver, requires a lot of work from the GM to determine whether any given action by the enemy can be exploited. However, if you’re willing to stick with this class for all five levels, you’ll be rewarded with the Opportunity Attacker ability, which lets you apply your sneak attack damage to ALL attacks of opportunity!
Mammoth Rider: This is one of my favorite new prestige classes from Paths of Prestige, and for a halfling it’s just incredible. I’ve already discussed at length how nice being mounted can be for a halfling, and Mammoth Rider boosts your mount up to Huge size at first level. This means that at 10th character level, our halfling Cavalier’s wolf mount suddenly grows to Huge size, which is just crazy awesome. If you choose to continue in the Mammoth Rider class from that point on, your steed will get even more powerful every two levels, but you’ll be missing out on the Cavalier’s high-level abilities, so I would actually suggest sticking with just a one-level dip for the Huge-size mount.
Adaptive Fortune: If you have the adaptable luck racial trait, this will give you an extra use of it per day and increase the bonus it grants. This is decent, but I prefer the standard halfling luck racial trait.
Blundering Defense: This one is a little strange, since it requires you to take a defensive action, but you get to provide your adjacent allies a luck bonus to AC. This might be a good feat to take along with the Stalwart Defender prestige class, since you’ll be taking defensive actions anyway.
Cautious Fighter: This feat goes with the one right before it, increasing your dodge bonus when fighting defensively or taking the total defense action.
Childlike: If you want people to think you’re a human child (for some reason), this is the feat to take. However, there are just too many good feats out there to make this worthwhile.
Courageous Resolve: This feat either increases your saves against fear effects if you have the fearless trait, OR it lets you gain the benefits of morale bonuses against fear effects if you have the craven trait. It’s probably worth taking if you chose craven.
Desperate Swing: This feat goes along with the two above that have to do with the total defense action, allowing you to take an attack during a total defense action. If you could use it more than once per day, I’d like this feat, but for one attack a day it’s not really worth a feat.
Fortunate One: If you’re focusing on using bonuses from your adaptable luck trait, this is a great feat to pick up, but as I said before, the standard halfing luck trait is better overall.
Halfling Slinger: This feat is just a version of Weapon Focus that’s specific to the sling. It will stack with Weapon Focus if you take both feats, so if you’re going to be focusing completely on using a sling, then you should definitely pick this feat up, but Weapon Focus is better because it qualifies you for other feats.
Improved Low Blow: Low blow isn’t a terribly great racial trait, so I’d suggest ignoring this one UNLESS you’re planning to be an Underfoot Adept Monk, in which case it’s probably more than worth a feat slot.
Lucky Halfling: If you’re worried about your Wizard failing a reflex save, or your tank failing a Will save, this feat might be worth picking up, since it lets you substitute your own saving throw for your ally’s once per day.
Lucky Healer: This feat lets you re-roll the damage healed by a single healing spell or effect up to three times per day (using your adaptable luck race trait). If you’re the party tank, this feat might be worth your time, but otherwise I’d say ignore it.
Lucky Strike: Similar to the Lucky Healer feat right above this, you can spend your adaptable luck race trait to gain a reroll, but this time it’s on a damage roll. This could be really useful for those times when you REALLY need to deal a huge amount of damage to the BBEG.
Pass for Human: If you want to make people think you’re a human child instead of a halfling, you can take this feat after you already have the Childlike feat, and you get another +10 on your Disguise checks. I find this to be absolutely NOT worth a feat slot, because you already had to waste one feat on this!
Risky Striker: Now we’re talking! This feat is essentially Power Attack, but instead of taking a penalty to your attack roll, you take the penalty to your AC. This feat will also stack with Power Attack, and the bonus damage is multiplied on a critical hit, so any melee damage-dealing class will want to pick this up. (I’m looking at you, Mr. Cavalier!)
Sure and Fleet: Just like any other feat that gives you +2 to two skill checks, I don’t believe this is worth one of your precious feat slots. Stay away.
Surprise Strike: This is yet another feat in the Cautious Fighter line of feats I talked about up above, and this one is definitely not worth a feat slot either. When you take a once-per-day attack while using the total defense action, you don’t take the -4 penalty to the attack roll. Whoopie...?
Uncanny Defense: Yet ANOTHER feat in the Cautious Fighter line of feats, but this one is actually very nice. You get to add half of your dodge bonus to AC from taking the total defense action to your reflex saves and your CMD. For a defense-oriented character (like the Stalwart Defender we talked about earlier).
Well-Prepared: This is one of the strangest feats in the game, and it’s really better for role-playing than for optimization, but despite that I really like it. Think of a situation like this: “Oh man, does anyone have a flask of holy water? We really need to anoint this corpse before it regenerates back into a ghoul!” “Actually, I happen to have one of those stored in my boot for just such a situation!” You’ll be the party hero all the time!
Arcane Jinxer: Arcane casters only. This one allows you to sacrifice spell slots to reduce the saves of your opponent when resisting the jinx. Actually quite decent in the mid levels, as offering a level 3 spell will dramatically affect his ability to resist. Great for Charisma based casters (sorcerers, summoners and to a lesser extent, bards).
Area Jinx: Requires Widen Spell. This changes your jinx from a target to a burst targetable anywhere in your range allowing you to affect multiple targets in close proximity. The feat tax to get this is noticeable unless you planned on getting widen spell anyways and as such, lowers this from a blue to a green.
Bolster Jinx: Requires Great Fortitude, Iron Will or Lightning Reflexes. Increases the penalty by the same amount you gain from its corresponding feat. Since those are good feats to have anyways, this is a pretty good feat. A -3 will save is a great debuff.
Distant Jinx: This one doubles the range of your jinx allowing you to stay further away from combat and still jinx or makes it easier to jinx while hiding (assuming you can hide while jinxing, as there is nothing that says it alerts your target to your jinx attempt). Just generally not worth it unless you are a debuffer or controller and don’t want to get close, but there are better feats.
Fascination Jinx: Requires Bardic Performance. This allows you to hit a creature already affected by your fascinate ability with a -1 to saves and a -10 to initiative. Lame. First you have to fascinate a target as a standard action allowing it a will save, then you have to affect it by this jinx as another standard action allowing it another save just to give it -10 initiative. Super situational. Also, you must be a bard.
Jinx Alchemy: Requires Swift Alchemy, Lvl 3. This neat little jinx prevents those you jinx from drinking anything beneficial for the next 24 hours. Sadly it does not stop them from eating or drinking normal food so you can’t use it to starve someone to death. While neat that you can prevent someone from drinking any healing potions or the like, that healing usually comes from wands. Might be useful for a NPC going up against a Drunken master monk. Do note that you CAN use this against your fellow fighter and laugh at him, as he can no longer get drunk. Sadly I just can’t rate it high, so it gets yellow purely for flavor.
Jinxed Spell: Metamagic feat. Requires 2 metamagic feats. Without looking at the prerequisites, this one is quite decent and similar to the malicious eye feat. It rides a spell and bypasses the required save which is nice. As long as you were taking the two metamagic feats anyways and can tolerate a level bump AND have room for the feat you are good. I would say situational mostly because of what it takes to get it and the added need of investing more into other jinx feats to get the most benefit out of it.
Malicious Eye: Requires Evil Eye hex. This one is actually really good for a witch that intends to evil eye enemies and then cackle away. A creature that fails against a evil eye hex automatically gets affected by the jinx, no second will save, no immunity for 24 hours because he does not actually roll to save, you can jinx multiple targets at a single time and you can still use your regular jinx unimpeded. The fact that witches focus on Intelligence and not Charisma doesn’t even matter as Charisma is no longer needed. Stack it with Bolster jinx and you can get some really good debuffs going.
Sluggish Jinx: Your jinx also affects your targets initiative and attack rolls. Not really that great considering its most noticeable effect is only -1 to attack rolls. If you stack it with bolster jinx, then you would have an argument for a -3 to attack rolls being decent but you are better off staying away from this feat.
Versatile Jinxer: Requires Iron Will. Changes your DC to Int based or Wis based. Works well with the bolster jinx feat for Int based characters. Otherwise you are looking at 2 feats just to change the DC type of your jinx. This allows non-Cha based characters to get better benefit from the jinxes but at a high cost so is more flavorful than optimal.
Worst Case Jinx: Requires 5 ranks of Knowledge [Arcana]. This makes all beneficial variable gains for the jinxed target count as the lowest amount. Could be useful for the witch jinxer to keep the targets she hexes from gaining meaningful buffs but would mostly be regaled to NPCs casting it on the PCs causing them to waste more charges healing.
I’ve always found it strange that half-elves and half-orcs are races as opposed to templates. The half-elf race is a very powerful blend of elf and human, and because of that they get benefits from both of their “parent” races that can, in some cases, make them superior to either one (check out the Oracle if you don’t believe me!)
Ability Scores: Like humans, half-elves may choose one of their ability scores and add +2 to it.
Size: Half-elves are the same size as humans.
Speed: Half-elves have the standard 30ft base movement speed.
Elven Immunities: Thanks to their elven heritage, half-elves are immune to magic sleep effects, and gain a +2 on saves against enchantments.
Adaptability: This is one of the less useful of the half-elf’s racial abilities unless you’re planning a build that is based on a skill check, like an Intimidate-based Fighter, or a combat stealing Rogue (Sleight of Hand). This is also very useful if you’re planning to take Eldritch Heritage.
Keen Senses: +2 to the best skill in the game, gotta love it!
Low-Light Vision: This can come in handy in shadowy areas, though in my experience most DMs only really pay attention to darkvision. Still, it’s a useful ability when it’s needed.
Elf Blood: Half-elves are humanoids with both the [human] and [elf] descriptors, which means they are treated as both of those races. This can come in very handy, as half-elves therefore qualify for any feats, class archetypes, or spells that are specific to either humans or elves. NOTE: This is NOT the case for Pathfinder Society games, where the developers have stated that half-elves may NOT take human-only or elf-only feats, class archetypes, etc. Very sad.
Multitalented: This ability makes half-elves some of the best multiclassers in the game by far. I’ll talk more about alternate favored class bonuses in a bit, but I’ll make sure to point out which ones can be used to maximum effect for a multiclassed half-elf.
Ancestral Arms [Adaptability]: There are some seriously awesome exotic weapons, and so a free proficiency in one is a great choice. If your character is going to be combat-focused, you’ll probably want this one.
Arcane Training [Multitalented]: This ability is ALMOST useless, since an arcane caster’s caster level DC to cast from a scroll is only the scroll’s caster level + 1, which means that almost invariably he’ll have no problem casting from a higher-level scroll. The bonus is even more useless for Spell Trigger items, like wands, because as long as the spell is on your class list, it doesn’t matter what level the spell is, you can activate it with no check required. In other words, if you’re sure you’re going to play a single-classed arcane caster, you may as well pick this one up, but it’s just not that useful.
Drow Blooded [Low-light vision]: If you want your character to have darkvision, this is a fine way to get it, but light blindness is a painful trade-off for it. I’d suggest sticking with the low-light vision.
Drow Magic [Adaptability, Multitalented]: Gaining several spell-like abilities can be useful, especially if you grabbed Drow Blooded along with them.
Dual Minded [Adaptability]: A +2 to Will saves can really come in handy. If you don’t need either Skill Focus of Exotic Weapon Proficiency, grab this one.
Integrated [Adaptability]: +1 on Bluff, Disguise, or Knowledge (local)? Really? Take Ancestral Arms instead, please!
Sociable [Adaptability]: This one’s even worse than the one above it. IGNORE IT!
Wary [Keen senses]: Perception is always better than Sense Motive and Bluff. Always. Don’t take this.
Water Child [Adaptability, Multitalented]: This one is only worth your time if you were planning to use your racial Skill Focus feat on the Swim skill, AND you’re going to be a single-classed character who is around the water constantly, like a pirate or something. Not a fan of this one.
Now, let me point out here that the half-elf, half-orc, and human class descriptions are going to be a little more sparse than those up above, since these three races can really excel at ANY class thanks to their floating ability score bonus. If the class isn’t listed, that just means that there’s nothing specific that makes it any better or worse of a choice than other classes. In other words, there’s really no wrong choice of classes if you have human blood!
Alchemist: A half-elf can be essentially any class very well, but there are some perks to picking specific ones, such as the Alchemist. Half-elves have their own Alchemist archetype, the Bramble Brewer, which is a pretty cool option for a bomber Alchemist. You also get access to one of the best spells in the game, paragon surge, which lets you gain ANY ONE FEAT that you qualify for!
Bard: Half-elf bards get access to the Leaf Singer feat, which is okay but not incredible. Otherwise, there’s nothing that specifically makes Bard a better or worse choice than any other class, so enjoy your half-elf Bard!
Cavalier [Samurai]: A half-elf Cavalier will work very well, and the favored class bonus is pretty excellent, adding base speed to your mount. Go for it!
Cleric: A half-elf Cleric can cast paragon surge too, so that’s one point for the Cleric!
Druid: A half-elf can choose the Treesinger archetype, which is a really cool option for elves and half-elves which I discussed up in the elves section. They also have access to the Feral Child archetype for humans, which isn’t quite as awesome as the Treesinger, but can really work if you’re trying ot make a “savage” type of Druid.
Fighter: A half-elf can make an excellent fighter, and one way of doing so is to take the Aldori Swordlord archetype, leading into the Aldori Swordlord prestige class. The Ancestral Arms racial option is a great way to make the most of the Aldori Dueling Sword without having to use up a feat slot to gain proficiency, and once you get far enough into the prestige class you can use Dexterity instead of Strength on damage rolls, which is a big boost.
Gunslinger: A half-elf Gunslinger gains access to the human-only Buccaneer archetype, the main feature of which is using Charisma to determine grit points instead of Wisdom. You also gain the ability to get extra grit points by drinking alcohol, AND you get to have an “exotic pet” familiar, which is meant to be like a pirate’s shoulder-parrot.
Inquisitor: The half-elf Inquisitor’s favored class option lets you change your teamwork feat more often during a day, and that ability can be seriously helpful, so I like it.
Magus: A half-elf can choose the Spell Dancer archetype, which is a really fun archetype I talked about up in the elves section. You can also gain extra arcane pool points with the favored class bonus, so that’s something to look forward to also.
Monk: A half-elf has access to the Wanderer archetype, which is a decent option that lets you gain some spell-like abilities and bardic performances in place of some of the standard monk powers. The lack of excellent racial archetypes won’t hinder a half-elf from being a great monk, though.
Oracle: Oracle is another class that gets access to paragon surge, and since Oracles can be so incredibly diverse already, being able to cast a spell to get any one feat you qualify for is amazing. The favored class option is also very nice, since Oracles, just like all spontaneous casters, are severely limited by their spells known. Finally, half-elves have access to the elven archetype Ancient Lorekeeper, which can let you get some of the most powerful spells in the game from the sorcerer/wizard spell list. All of this puts the Oracle at the very top of the list of classes for a half-elf to choose.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: A half-elf Paladin can cast paragon surge too, so that’s one point for the Paladin!
Ranger: The ranger can be a great option for your half-elf character, especially if you’re going to be in a more natural setting in your campaign, thanks to the Wild Shadow archetype. The abilities gained through this archetype will really let your Ranger shine when he’s in his favored terrain, especially since it lets you use woodland stride in any difficult terrain in his favored terrain, even in magically-created difficult terrain. Pretty cool!
Sorcerer: Sorcerers can cast paragon surge, and they also have access to a human-only bloodline, the Imperious Bloodline, which is sort of a strange one, but it does include the ability to increase morale and competence bonuses for yourself and your allies, which is pretty cool.
Summoner: Half-elves have a Summoner archetype of their own, called the WIld Caller. This archetype trades summon monster spells and spell-like abilities for the equivalent summon nature’s ally spells, which seems a little bit weak at first, but the WIld Caller’s eidolon also gains bonus evolution points, so it all balances out very well. However, as I will explain below, the First Worlder archetype actually does almost the same thing, but does it better.
Witch: The half-elf-exclusive Witch archetype, the Bonded Witch, is a really excellent choice thanks to gaining a bonded item, which gives your Witch another spell to cast per day which is pulled from a seperate list of spells, almost akin to gaining a second patron. Witches can also cast paragon surge, so this is a great class choice for a half-elf!
Wizard: A half-elf Wizard has access to the Spellbinder archetype, which isn’t the best archetype out there as I explained up in the Elf section. Wizards can also cast paragon surge, of course, but of the two I’d say a half-elf makes a slightly better Witch than a Wizard.
Alchemist: This favored class bonus is a pretty good choice for a bomber Alchemist, increasing the range increment for thrown splash weapons including bombs.
Barbarian: Increasing the Barbarian’s AC is great, except it only works against traps, and you just won’t see traps often enough to make this worth it. Take the free hit point instead.
Bard: Extra bardic performance rounds each day can always be helpful, especially if you use abilities that use up extra performance rounds often, such as Masterpieces.
Cavalier: More base movement for a Cavalier’s mount is a really great choice, so definitely use this one.
Cleric: For either a healing-centric character or one who focuses on damaging undead, this is an excellent option. You can also use this option to increase the potency of alternative channeling abilities, like Alignment Channel or Elemental Channel.
Druid: This option is nice because it is applicable to either domain powers or animal companions, so whichever one you pick this could be useful. However, a skill point for your companion isn’t the best choice out there, so this still gets orange.
Fighter: Adding to a Fighter’s CMD is nice, but since this only applies to two combat maneuvers that aren’t used that often, this is a dud.
Gunslinger: Extra grit can be helpful to any gunslinger, so this is a good one.
Inquisitor: Additional uses of the Inquisitor’s teamwork feat changing ability is pretty sweet, so I like this one.
Magus: More arcane points are ALWAYS helpful, so definitely take this one.
Monk: A bonus to Escape Artist and Acrobatics... really? No thanks, I’ll take the skill rank or the hit point instead.
Oracle: Adding more known spells is really great for any spontaneous caster, so definitely use this one.
Paladin: This one is interesting, so if you find the Paladin’s aura abilities to be really useful, definitely go for it. If you pick an archetype that gives up some of the auras, you’re probably better off taking the hit point instead.
Ranger: Extra skill ranks for your animal companion can come in handy, but there are definitely better options out there.
Rogue: A situational bonus to Bluff and a bonus to Diplomacy isn’t really worth your favored class bonus. Stay away unless you’re planning to use the feint maneuver a lot.
Sorcerer: If you’ve got a nice 1st-level bloodline power, this is a great choice. Otherwise, take the skill rank.
Summoner: Extra evolution points are a GREAT option, take this one!
Witch: You can just use gold to add spells to your familiar, so I consider this a trap.
Wizard: This one could be good for enchanters, but otherwise it’s pretty weak.
Let me point out here, quickly, that all archeteypes available to humans and to elves are also available to half-elves, so make sure to look at both of those sections when determining which archetypes you want to use for your character. [Human Archetypes, Elf Archetypes] Note, however, that if you’re playing a Pathfinder Society game, your half-elf CANNOT take human or elf archetypes.
Bonded Witch (Witch): This archetype gives up the standard witch's familiar for a bonded item, which is actually a very nice trade-off. You don't have to worry about a living spellbook getting hit with a spell and getting killed. Based on what type of item you bond with, you also learn a new spell of each spell level, which is similar to having a second Patron. The only negative effect of this is that you can't learn new spells from other witches' familiars, and you don’t get to role-play having a familiar.
Bramble Brewer (Alchemist): The point of this archetype is to have a more nature-themed Alchemist, including the ability to throw tanglefoot bombs that are way better than the standard Alchemist discovery of the same name. You also get a mutagen variant that grants more natural armor at the expense of only graning +2 to a physical ability score instead of +4. This archetype is flavorful, if not quite as powerful as a standard Alchemist.
Wild Caller (Summoner): At first glance, I liked this archetype, because it makes for a more nature-centric summoner. While at first it seems like switching out summon monster spells for summon nature’s ally spells weakens the druid overall, it actually is well-made-up by extra evolution points gained every four levels. HOWEVER, for a Summoner who focuses on summon nature’s ally spells, the First Worlder archetype does almost the exact same thing, but is even more flavorful because your eidolon is a fey creature instead of an outsider, and the evolutions that the eidolon can take aren’t restricted, so of the two I would choose First Worlder instead. Make sure to also take the half-elf favored class option to get another extra evolution point per four levels, and your eidolon will be quite beastly indeed.
Wild Shadow (Ranger): This archetype for the Ranger focuses a bit more on wild terrains, dropping the hunter’s bond ability for more terrain-focused abilities, and eschewing “urban” as a favored terrain option. Without the option of gaining an animal companion, I personally would stay away from this archetype, since I’m a huge fan of companion creatures, but if you prefer your character himself to shine on his own, this could be a good option.
Aldori Swordlord: This archetype is all about using the Aldori Dueling Sword, which is a pretty sweet one-handed exotic weapon with a decent critical rating. Half-elves can qualify for this prestige class very quickly, thanks to the Ancestral Arms race trait. This class allows you to use Dexterity to damage instead of Strength, so it’s excellent for a Dex-based Fighter or Rogue. If you go with Fighter, make sure to start off with the Aldori Swordlord archetype, which was obviously meant to prepare your character for taking this prestige class.
Brightness Seeker: The Brightness Seeker is an elf-only Prestige class, taken from the Elves of Golarion sourcebook. The idea of this class is sort of like an Oracle of nature, gaining the ability to read “omens” to gain insight into the future, and then gaining natural aspects and wild shape as you progress. The Wild Shape ability stacks with a Druid’s ability of the same name, and you can also gain some really cool abilities that you can switch out every day, such as a fly speed, a swim speed including water breathing, or THREE natural attacks, all of which deal 1d6 base damage! Since this class is not a spellcaster, though, be cautious of losing spellcasting levels for these abilities. This is a flavorful and fun prestige class, but it would have been a LOT better if it increased spellcasting also.
Rage Prophet: Since the half-elf is both well-set to be a great Oracle and the best race in the game for multiclassing, it makes sense that a prestige class that requires a multiclassed oracle would work out well for a half-elf. You only actually need one level of Oracle to qualify for this prestige class, but I would recommend that you take four levels of Oracle with the Ancient Lorekeeper archetype, then two of Barbarian (grabbing Moment of Clarity as your first Rage Power), then go into Rage Prophet. This will get you paragon surge at level 8, two spells from the Sorcerer/Wizard spell list, and tons of fun abilities from the prestige class itself.
A quick note here: Even though I don’t have the time to list them twice, half-elves also qualify for any feat that requires you to be human or elf, so make sure to look at those sections [Human Feats, Elf Feats] for additional feats that might come in handy.
Arcane Talent: A thrice-per-day cantrip spell is not worth a feat, period. Stay away.
Discerning Eye: A +2 bonus vs. illusions can come in handy, but unless you’re planning to play in a campaign that includes a ton of document forging, the bonus to Linguistics to recognize forgeries is pretty useless.
Elven Spirit: This is a pretty good option for a spellcaster, as you will eventually run into spell resistance, and a +2 bonus to beat it is a big deal. The 1/day spell-like abilities can come in handy too.
Exile's Path: The ability to reroll a Will save can save your party from having to fight against you when you get dominate person cast on you, which can avoid a total party kill in some more extreme cases. This is a great choice.
Half-Drow Paragon: This feat is really only a gateway into a line of drow-specific feats that require you to have drow spell-like abilities. This line of feats give you more and more powerful spell-like abilities which can be pretty cool, but it requires a LOT of feat investment, so I’m not a fan.
Human Spirit: A whole feat for four skill ranks? Definitely not worth it.
Leaf Singer: If you’re a half-elf bard, and you will be coming up against a lot of fey creatures, this is definitely worth a look. Doubling your bardic performance’s range in the forest is a little less exciting, as many bardic performances don’t have an actual range limit other than “as long as they can hear your voice.” Still, for the boost against fey, you’ll wanna consider this one.
Multitalented Mastery: This feat may be worth a look if you’re planning to multiclass a lot, especially if the classes you’re going to take have good alternate favored class bonuses. This is also the only way to get a favored class bonus for prestige class levels. If you’re planning to take a full ten levels in a prestige class, or are planning to take multiple prestige classes, definitely take this.
Neither Elf Nor Human: This is the pinnacle of a set of feats that allow your half-elf to have all of the benefits of being considered both an elf and a human, without any of the penalties. This specific feat does not allow human- or elf-bane weapons to cause extra damage to you, which is excellent. However, this requires a lot of feat investment, so I’d suggest really thinking about it before you take this path.
Pass for Human: If you find yourself trying to fit into a human-only society for some reason, this feat will give you a nice bonus to your Disguise checks. Otherwise, ignore it.
Seen and Unseen: For a stealthy character who needs to sneak around a lot, this might be worth a look, and the prerequisite feat is really good so you don’t need to feel like it’s a tax. I’d say this one’s a solid option.
Shared Insight: If you’re a buffing character with a high Wisdom, like a Druid or Cleric who focuses on making his allies better, this feat could be a good choice, since you gain a bardic performance-like boost to Perception checks for all of your allies within 30 feet.
Shared Manipulation: This one isn’t nearly as good as Shared Insight, because as I’ve said before, Perception is the best skill in the game. Unless your allies make a lot of Intimidate checks, ignore this one.
Sociable: This one’s even worse than Shared Manipulation, since it only boosts a single skill that is not Perception. Skip this one, it’s not worth a feat.
Half-orcs in Pathfinder are outcasts, normally shunned by both human society and orc society. Those who are accepted can find themselves exploited for their abilities, either for their cunning in orc tribes or for their brute strength in human settlements. However, half-orcs are almost as versatile as their half-elven kin, and can generally fill any party role with ease.
Ability Scores: Like their human cousins, half-orcs can choose one ability score and add +2 to it.
Size: Half-orcs are the same size as humans.
Speed: Half-orcs have the standard 30ft base movement speed.
Intimidating: Half-orcs get a +2 racial bonus to Intimidate checks, which can come in very handy for a melee character.
Orc Ferocity: This trait allows a half-orc to keep fighting as if disabled for a single round after being taken below 0 hit points. This sounds cool at first, but realistically all you’ll get is a single standard action before passing out. For a Cleric, Paladin, or other healing class, this can be invaluable since you can use that standard action to heal yourself, but for most other classes this isn’t going to be a huge bonus.
Weapon Familiarity: Half-orcs gain automatic proficiency with two very nice martial weapons, the greataxe and the falchion. If you’re going to be playing a class that only gains simple weapon proficiency, this can be a huge boon for you, but if you’re going to be a Fighter or any other class that gains martial weapon proficiency, trade this out for something better, like Chain Fighter (see below).
Darkvision: Darkvision is way better than low-light vision, because realistically most DMs don’t really worry about lighting conditions except for darkness. This is a great ability to have.
Orc Blood: Half-orcs are treated as both humans and orcs for effects, prerequisites, and anything else that requires you to be either human or orc. This means that, like half-elves, they have access to three sets of racial archetypes and racial feats, which can lead to some really good combinations that I’ll go into below.
Acute Darkvision [Orc Ferocity]: If you think you’ll be going into dark, scary dungeons fairly often (which in most campaigns you probably will), this ability could be way more useful to you than Orc Ferocity would be, as it increases your darkvision to 90 feet rather than the normal 60 feet.
Beastmaster [Orc Ferocity]: This race trait is a great way to get free exotic weapon proficiency in both the net and the whip, which are excellent weapons. Add to that a bonus to Handle Animal checks, and this is one of the better options to replace Orc Ferocity with.
Bestial [Orc Ferocity]: As I’ve said many times before, Perception is the best skill in the game. However, I can’t give this one a blue rating because I feel that some of the other options, like Beastmaster and Sacred Tattoo, are better choices in general for most characters.
Cavewright [Intimidating]: This is a straight skill bonus trade, where you trade away a +2 to Intimidate for a +1 on both Knowledge (dungeoneering) and Survival. However, these new bonuses only work underground, and so an all-the-time bonus to Intimidate is worth more than these two situational bonuses.
Chain Fighter [Weapon Familiarity]: This is a great choice for any martial character, since you’re giving up proficiency in two martial weapons (which Fighters and other martial characters get anyway) for proficieny in two other martial weapons AND the ability to treat two excellent exotic weapons as martial ones. The dire flail and spiked chain are both great choices for a combat maneuver-focused character, since they both have the trip and disarm properties.
City-Raised [Weapon Familiarity]: This is another good choice for a martial character, since it’s yet another way to gain proficiency with the whip for free. Add to that a bonus to Knowledge (local) checks for an excellent alternate trait option.
Forest Walker [Darkvision]: This option is strictly worse than just keeping Darkvision, since low-light vision doesn’t really come into play that often in real games.
Gatecrasher [Orc Ferocity]: If you’re building a sundering-focused character, this would be a great choice, but otherwise there are way better options to replace Orc Ferocity with.
Rock Climber [Intimidating]: This is a fine option for any character who doesn’t plan to use Intimidate but could benefit from a boost to Acrobatics and Climb.
Sacred Tattoo [Orc Ferocity]: This is probably the best option with which to replace Orc Ferocity, as luck bonuses aren’t easy to come by, and this boosts all three of your saving throws. Choose this one unless you have a REALLY compelling reason to choose one of the others.
Scavenger [Intimidating]: This choice, like Rock Climber, is a decent option for anyone who doesn’t plan to Intimidate anyone. While the bonuses from this trait are situational, they’re still better than a bonus to a skill you’ll never use.
Shaman’s Apprentice [Intimidating]: Trading a +2 bonus to a single skill for a whole feat (even though Endurance isn’t the best feat in the game) is pretty much a no-brainer for me, and if you do choose this option you’ll probably want to boost your Con and start into the Deathless Initiate tree of half-orc feats, which I’ll talk more about below.
Skilled [Darkvision]: If you find that your planned build is skill-point-starved, this could be a good choice, though I would consider carefully whether you’re really willing to give up Darkvision for just one extra skill point per level.
Squalid [Orc Ferocity]: There are just too many other, better options with which to replace Orc Ferocity to make a situational bonus on Fortitude saving throws be worth your time.
Toothy [Orc Ferocity]: If you’re a frontline brawler or a damage-dealing class like the Rogue, you might find that having an extra secondary attack is more than worth giving up Orc Ferocity for. This still isn’t as good of a choice in general as Sacred Tattoo, but it’s definitely worth a look.
I’ll reiterate that the half-elf, half-orc, and human class descriptions are going to be a little more sparse than those up above, since these three races can really excel at ANY class thanks to their floating ability score bonus. If a class isn’t listed, it just means there’s nothing specific that makes it any better or worse of a choice than any other class. In other words, there’s really no wrong choice of classes if you have human blood!
Alchemist: If you’re planning a bomber alchemist, you might want to consider half-orc for the favored class option, which increases the damage of your bombs by +1 every two levels. That’s a decent bonus, especially since that damage also applies to the splash damage of the bombs.
Barbarian: The Hateful Rager archetype is really great, giving your half-orc Barbarian a favored enemy, and the bonuses that this grants stack with any rage powers you might have. The downside of this archetype, gaining only 1 rage round per level, can be completely offset by the half-elf Barbarian favored class option, which gives you back that missing round of rage at each level.
Druid: A half-orc Druid gains access to the Feral Child archetype, which is actually very thematically appropriate for a half-orc who was shunned from her human or orc community and left to live on her own in the wild. Sadly, Feral Child loses wild shape, which is what the favored class option for half-orcs boosts.
Fighter: Half-orcs gain access to the orc-specific Dirty Fighter archetype, which focuses on... you guessed it... the Dirty Trick maneuver! I’ll detail what this archetype does down below, but just trust me, this is a pretty sweet option.
Gunslinger: A half-orc Gunslinger gains access to the human-only Buccaneer archetype, the main feature of which is using Charisma to determine grit points instead of Wisdom. You also gain the ability to get extra grit points by drinking alcohol, AND you get to have an “exotic pet” familiar, which is meant to be like a pirate’s shoulder-parrot.
Inquisitor: This could be a really great option for an Intimidate-focused build, since half-orcs already get a racial bonus to Intimidate and the favored class option for the Inquisitor gives you another +1/2 per level on Intimidate. Combine that with the Stern Gaze class feature that Inquisitors get, and you’ve got a recipe for a very scary character!
Monk: A half-orc Monk can choose the human-only Wanderer archetype, which is a pretty nice option. The low-level abilities are a little lackluster, but at fifth level you gain several spell-like abilities that can be cast using your ki points, and at 7th level you can inspire courage or inspire competence as a bard of your monk level, which is pretty excellent. You could also combine this with the Qinggong Monk archetype to gain access to other spell-like abilities.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: A half-orc can choose the Redeemer archetype, which lets you do such things as dealing nonlethal damage with your smite evil ability, or magically prohibiting a creature from attacking a certain area or group of people for months on end. This is a cool archetype, but I don’t think I’d call it powerful, in general. You also have access to the Beast Rider feat, which will let you treat your animal companion as if your effective druid level were two levels higher, AND you can choose a more exotic mount, which leads very nicely into the Mammoth Rider prestige class.
Ranger: A half-orc Ranger doesn’t get any special racial archetypes, but some of the half-orc racial feats are really nice for a Ranger. If you are like me, and love animal companions, you can choose the Beast Rider feat at 7th level, which will expand your animal companion choices. Sympathetic Rage is a great way to get a small boost to damage when you’re next to the party Barbarian.
Rogue [Ninja]: Half-orcs have their own archetype for the Rogue, the Skulking Slayer. This is a pretty cool archetype, and is another way to use the Dirty Trick combat maneuver to great effect during battle. At first level, any time you’d normally be able to deal sneak damage, you can instead choose to substitute that attack with a Dirty Trick or Steal combat maneuver, gaining a bonus on the associated CMB roll. Later you get to increase your sneak dice when charging a creature, and even the ability to Feint as a swift action before a charge! Very cool stuff. Sadly the Ninja doesn’t get the same archetype options, so it’s a bit less optimal.
Sorcerer: Half-orcs have access to the human-only Imperious bloodline, which is an interesting bloodline that allows you to boost morale and circumstance bonuses to yourself and your allies. I wouldn’t say that it’s a particularly powerful choice of bloodlines (check out my bloodline guide for more details) but it’s interesting.
Summoner: A half-orc Summoner can choose the Blood God Disciple archetype, which is a very eidolon-focused archetype. Dropping summon monster for evolution points gained by the Summoner himself is cool, but you have to perform some pretty evil acts to do so, and so it’ll be tough to fit into a good-aligned party.
Witch: The witch is most likely the best choice for a half-orc, simply because of the orc-only Scarred Witch Doctor archetype. This archetype changes your Witch’s casting stat from Intelligence to Constitution, which applies both to spells AND hex DCs, and is just incredible. If you’re planning to be mostly Hex-focused, you can also grab a level of Barbarian or Alchemist, boosting your hex DCs when you rage or use your mutagen (this is one of the few ways in the game to get temporary boosts to Hex DCs, BTW). Seriously, this is one of the best archetypes out there, and I HIGHLY recommend playing one.
Alchemist: For a bomber alchemist, adding to the bombs’ damage is a great choice, especially since it even applies to the splash damage. If you’re not using bombs, though, this is useless.
Barbarian: More rage rounds means more BARBARIAN SMASH, which is exactly what you want to do. Note that this synergizes very well with the Hateful Rager archetype, since it makes up for the rage rounds lost by choosing that archetype.
Bard: More bardic performance rounds makes for a happy Bard, so this one’s a good choice.
Cavalier: Extra hit points for your mount can keep it from dying on you, so this one’s a keeper.
Cleric: If your domain grants an excellent 1st-level power, this can give you more uses of it, which is good, but if you don’t have a 1st-level power measured in uses per day this is useless.
Druid: For a wild shape-focused Druid this is a REALLY great ability, as more natural armor bonus means you get hit less, and it still stacks with any magic enhancements to natural armor bonus you might have, such as from an amulet of natural armor.
Fighter: This could be really useful if you want to take the Deathless Initiate line of feats, since you’ll likely be fighting at less than 0 hit points much more often than other characters. If you took this option at every level, you’d end up with a +40 to stabilize checks, which means you’ll pretty much never fail one of those checks. However, for most characters this should hopefully come up very seldom.
Gunslinger: A bonus every three levels to a single deed that most gunslingers aren’t going to use since they want to stay out of melee range is absolute crap.
Inquisitor: A stacking bonus to Intimidate is great, and it makes a half-orc one of the best races to choose for an Intimidate build out there.
Magus: Given that most Magi use shocking grasp a lot more than fire-based spells, this probably isn’t the best option out there.
Monk: More stunning attacks per day is nice, and a bonus to resist being grappled can save you from being swallowed by a big creature, so overall this is a good bonus, if a little bit situational.
Oracle: Extra spells known for a spontaneous caster is always a good choice.
Paladin: If you’re smiting evil and using a weapon with a decent critical range (at least 18-20) then you’ll probably want to choose this bonus, freeing up a feat since you won’t need to ever take Critical Focus.
Ranger: Extra hit points for your animal companion means it’s less likely to die, so that’s always a good thing.
Rogue: A rogue doesn’t rely on critical hits nearly as much as a Fighter or Paladin, since sneak damage is not multiplied. I’d say you’ll probably be better served to take the skill point over this one.
Sorcerer: This is more useful than it was for the Magus, but still is a situational bonus. If you’re going to take the Orc bloodline, you’ll probably want this, since it will stack with the +1 per dice to fire spell damage you get through that bloodline.
Summoner: Extra hit points for your eidolon are always a good choice, so this one’s a keeper.
Witch: This isn’t that great of a bonus to begin with, as you shouldn’t be sending your familiar in to do skill checks in general. Add to this that the Scarred Witch Doctor archetype drops the familiar, and this one ends up being a not-so-good choice for a half-orc.
Wizard: If you’re in melee casting spells, you should be casting defensively, not allowing an enemy to hit you and then making concentration checks based on the damage. This is a bad choice.
A quick note: I’m going to include archetypes that are meant for orcs in this list, because half-orcs DO qualify for them and I won’t be getting to the more exotic races for a little while. For descriptions of human-only archetypes (which half-orcs also qualify for) look in the humans section. However, if you’re playing in Pathfinder Society, half-orcs and half-elves do NOT qualify for archetypes or feats of their parent races, so be aware of that.
Blood God Disciple (Summoner): This is an interesting archetype for the Summoner. You give up the summon monster spell-like abilities to instead have your Summoner himself gain evolution points when the eidolon feeds on a fallen enemy. Obviously, this is a fairly evil act, so you’re not going to be able to fit this character into a Lawful Good-leaning party. Later on the Blood God Disciple can dismiss his eidolon to begin raging like a Barbarian of his level, and even gains some Rage Powers eventually. Overall, I wouldn’t say this is a super strong archetype, but if you can find the right party to fit into it would be a lot of fun to play.
Dirty Fighter (Fighter): I like this archetype because of the versatility that the Dirty Trick combat maneuver affords you, and Fighters get a lot of feats so you can pick up a lot of Improved and Greater combat maneuver feats as you gain levels. Dirty Trick is actually a fantastic maneuver, allowing you to inflict one of several debilitating statuses to an enemy for one or more rounds, and the best part of this archetype is that at 9th level you can start using dirty tricks as attack actions rather than Standard actions, meaning you can do multiple dirty tricks per round. The ability to eventually apply two conditions to a foe that you target with Dirty Trick after level 13 is also REALLY good. If you’d like to build a character who kicks dirt in someone’s eyes to blind them, then smacks the sides of their head to deafen them and finally kicks them right in the nads to sicken them, this is the archetype for you!
Hateful Rager (Barbarian): This archetype is a fair option, because you gain a favored enemy and several related abilities at the expense of one less round of rage gained per level and some rage powers. The half-orc favored class bonus makes up for this in a large way, giving you an additional round of rage per level. Later you get to combine favored enemy with rage powers, adding ½ your favored enemy bonus to the DCs to save against rage powers (Though there aren’t a lot of rage powers that require a save, so keep that in mind). There is also a danger of losing control and going after only your favored enemy mid-battle, which is a scary though. This is a decent, synergistic archetype that I recommend for those who know they’re going up against a lot of one type of enemy (like in PFS, where you fight humans a LOT).
Redeemer (Paladin): The Redeemer archetype is meant to allow your Paladin to fight evil enemies and convince them to repent instead of outright destroying them. You can use smite to deal nonlethal damage, you get an ability that can force monsters to leave areas or groups of people alone for months at a time, and you can grant your nonlethal smite to all your allies. Gameplay-wise, this is not a strong archetype, but it’s full of flavor and would be great for the type of character who was redeemed from evil and turned to the ways of good, hoping now to sway other evil creatures to accept the light.
Scarred Witch Doctor (Witch): This very well might be the most powerful, broken archetype in the game, right up there with the Synthesist Summoner. You get to use Constitution as your casting stat. This means every time you boost your casting stat with belts, spells, mutagens, rage, etc, you also gain hit points! It is also much easier to find ways to boost Constitution than Intelligence, so you’re going to be able to boost your Hex DCs much more often and much higher than other Witches of the same level. Finally, the Fetish Mask ability is wonderful, allowing you to add magic properties to the mask as if you had the Craft Wondrous Item feat. You could make your Fetish Mask into a Medusa Mask for only 5,000gp, or a Kybwa’ka War Mask for only 1850gp!
Skulking Slayer (Rogue): I like this archetype, because it gives a Rogue more options for dealing sneak attack damage, requiring her to rely less on her allies for flanking. It’s also one of the best ways to use Dirty Trick effectively, as you can replace any attack that would normally deal sneak damage with a Dirty Trick maneuver instead. This archetype makes a Strength-based Rogue more viable, as you can eventually use Feint before charging, dealing sneak attack damage to that first enemy, and then on the next round you can cleave through several enemies, dealing sneak damage to every one after the first that you hit, flanking be damned!
There aren’t any orc-specific or human-specific prestige classes, but there is one prestige classes that a half-orc can really excel at:
Eldritch Knight: The half-orc is in the best position of all races to become an Eldritch Knight for one reason alone: the Scarred Witch Doctor archetype. The reason this works so well is because you will continue to get to use your Constitution score for your casting stat, even after taking levels in this prestige class. Every level will give you new spells per day AND a full BAB progression, which is just awesome. I recommend taking a single level of Urban Barbarian (to gain Controlled Rage, which you’ll use on Con every time) and then take Scarred Witch Doctor for 5 levels, then jump into Eldritch Knight for 10 levels, then go back to Scarred Witch Doctor. By doing so, at 20th level you’ll have a BAB of +15, you’ll be a 18th-level caster which means you’ll be able to cast 9th level spells, and when you use Controlled Rage to add +4 to your Con score, you’ll get a boost of +2 to hex DCs (note that the intent of Controlled Rage seems to be that things that require concentration, like spellcasting, can be done while using the ability, but I think some GMs would still rule against being able to cast while raging).
Like half-elves, half-orcs have access to feats meant for either of their “parent” races. Because of this, I’m listing orc-only feats here in addition to feats meant for half-orcs, as it may take me a while to get to orcs in this guide. I won’t be listing human-only feats here since I’ll have them in the Human Feats section, so make sure to check those out too! Remember, though, if you’re playing in Pathfinder Society, your half-orc does NOT qualify for human- or orc-only feats!
Beast Rider: This feat is a great choice for a multiclass character who is planning to go into the Mammoth Rider prestige class. Since you can take this feat at 7th level, this will allow you to use a more exotic creature as your mount three levels before you can begin taking Mammoth Rider levels (10th level minimum), and you can treat your druid level as up to two levels higher (up to your maximum level) for determining the powers and abilities of your new mount. Combine this with Boon Companion, and you can have a full-strength mount or animal companion with up to six class levels that don’t normally increase your animal companion’s abilities!
Blood Vengance: This feat allows you to go into a rage-like state if one of your allies is knocked unconscious or killed, which is pretty cool. Note that it says you MAY enter the state, so you’re not going to be forced to do it if the situation wouldn’t warrant you doing so. It’s important to be aware also that this won’t work for summoned creatures, or for companion creatures (except at very low levels) because the ally has to have at least the same number of hit dice as yourself.
Born Alone: This feat really would only be useful if you have a huge Constitution bonus. A few temporary hit points usually aren’t going to make a huge difference, especially as you get to higher levels, so I’d say you’re better off picking up Toughness instead.
Brutal Grappler: This one lets you combine your grappling efforts with an ally at the same time, allowing both of you to deal damage automatically. You also are treated as aiding each other on the grapple, gaining a +2 to CMB checks. If you and an ally both have a decent CMB, this one could definitely be worth it. The only bad thing is that both of you need to take it, as it’s a Teamwork feat.
Bullying Blow: If you’re building an Intimidate-based build, you might want to consider this one, as it lets you intimidate an enemy as a free action after you hit them. The only bad thing is you can’t use it with a full attack action.
Deathless Initiate: This is the first feat in a fairly in-depth line that will eventually keep your half-orc from dying after hitting 0 hit points, allow him or her to keep fighting well past 0, and negate critical hits. However, there’s a serious feat tax for this one, as it requires both Diehard and Endurance.
Deathless Master: If you’ve invested in Deathless Initiate, you’ll likely want this one too, as it allows you to keep taking actions after hitting 0 hit points without taking a hit point from each action. The feat tax keeps piling up, though.
Deathless Zealot: This is a nice capstone for the Deathless line of feats. You essentially force all of your enemies to reroll any critical hit confirmations they make against you, and forcing rerolls on your enemies is always excellent.
Destroyer's Blessing: A sundering Barbarian would gain a lot from this feat, but any other character will find it lacking.
Ferocious Action: This is a good choice if you’re going to invest in the Deathless feats above or Ferocious Resolve below, because you won’t be staggered when you’re under 0 hit points, and if you’re raging there’s really no penalty to using this feat. I like it.
Ferocious Resolve: This is a different way to continue fighting after you’re reduced below 0 hit points, and it requires much less feat investment. Combine this one with Ferocious Action to keep fighting until you’re dead as a doornail without being staggered.
Ferocious Summons: For a summoning-focused caster, this is a seriously awesome ability, especially at lower levels. You’re essentially giving every summoned creature an additional 10+ hit points, by allowing them to fight past 0 hit points, though they do become staggered.
Ferocious Tenacity: Here’s another way to keep yourself alive when norally you’d be dead. In this case, when you’d normally be killed by hit point damage, you can instead expend rage rounds to reduce the damage. Pretty cool!
Fight On: And here is yet ANOTHER way to keep from dying after you hit 0 hit points. This one gives you a number of temporary hit points equal to your Con bonus when you’d normally be knocked out. However, this feat is not nearly as powerful as the others I’ve just talked about, so stick with the Ferocious line of feats above instead.
Fire God's Blessing: A single point of healing when an enemy takes fire damage isn’t a huge bonus, but if you plan to set your enemies on fire a lot it’s almost like having Regeneration, which is pretty nice.
Foment the Blood: This would be a really cool ability if it worked for all of your allies, but sadly this will only give damage and critical hit bonuses to orcs and half-orcs, so unless you are in a party with all-orcish blood, this probably isn’t worth your time. However, if you’re a GM writing up an encounter with a band of orcs, make sure to give the cleric this feat!
Gore Fiend: This is a great option for a half-orc Barbarian, especially if you often use weapons with a decent critical range. It gives you an extra round of rage every time you confirm a critical hit with a melee weapon OR a crit is confirmed against you, which probably happens more often than you realize.
Grudge Fighter: For any melee character who doesn’t rage and doesn’t have a Bard in their party, this is an excellent choice, since rage and bardic performances are the main sources of morale bonuses, and who doesn’t like to wreak vengeance on an enemy who attacked them?
Horde Charge: This is a teamwork feat meant to allow an orc raiding party to all charge at once, gaining bonuses to attack. If you do have multiple characters in your party who charge and attack at the beginning of every combat, this might be worth it, but it’s generally tough to convince other players to take Teamwork feats. This would be much better for an Inquisitor or Cavalier who can either use a Teamwork feat on his own or grant its benefit to all his allies, respectively.
Ironguts: A bonus to saves against the nauseated and sickened condition can definitely come in handy, but a bonus to only ingested poisons isn’t that exciting, since most poisons you’ll encounter will be either injury-based or inhaled. A bonus to Survival to find food for yourself will also hardly ever come up.
Ironhide: Most characters will be searching high and low for AC bonuses that don’t cost an arm and a leg at higher levels, so gaining a natural armor bonus of even +1 is probably worth a feat for many characters. Note, however, that if your class has a feature that gives you natural armor bonuses (like the Alchemist or the Druid), then this will NOT stack with those other bonuses. It WILL stack with an amulet of natural armor, however.
Keen Scent: The scent special ability is pretty incredible, in fact it’s pretty overpowered, since it will let you automatically notice invisible enemies near you no matter how high their Stealth check is. This ability is one of the reasons that Paizo tried in vain to reform the Stealth rules, but ultimately they gave up on making the changes that Rogues and Ninjas so desperately need to stay viable.
Orc Weapon Expertise: This is an odd feat, letting you choose one of several different combat bonuses that only work if you are wielding a weapon with “orc” in the name that you are proficient with. Sadly, there is only one weapon that fits this description, the Orc Double Axe, so this feat really isn’t useful unless you’re building a character focused completely on using that weapon.
Pass for Human: If you find yourself trying to fit into a human-only society for some reason, this feat will give you a nice bonus to your Disguise checks. Otherwise, ignore it.
Razortusk: Gaining a bite attack can come in really handy for a melee character, especially one who deals sneak attack damage, as it gives you one more source of sneak damage when you’re flanking someone.
Resilient Brute: This is just one more feat to add to the list of “ways to not die as a half-orc”. Once per day you can change half the damage from a critical hit to nonlethal damage, which can be really helpful if you’re fighting some huge bad guy who deals massive damage.
Resolute Rager: When you’re raging this feat lets you get an additional save vs. a fear effect, however you already get a nice bonus against fear effects while raging, so honestly I can’t really see anyone spending a feat on this one, even though I generally like abilities that give you rerolls.
Reverse-Feint: This is excellent for a high-AC, high-damage melee frontliner, as you essentially leave a gap in your defenses, hoping that an enemy will try to hit you, and when they do you can use an immediate action to hit them back with a +2 to your attack bonus. The only complaint I have about this feat is that it uses an immediate action, which means you won’t have a swift action in your next turn, and a lot of character builds nowadays are planning swift actions on most turns (I’m looking at you, Mythic Playtest).
Smash: If this feat let you ignore 5 points of hardness on constructs also, it would be much better. As is, if you plan to smash down a lot of doors, this might be for you, otherwise it’s not worth your time.
Smell Fear: This feat is a trap, as far as I’m concerned. With scent, you essentially never need to make a Perception check, with the way the Stealth rules currently work. This means that a +4 bonus to identify creatures that are scared by scent is basically meaningless!
Surprise Follow-Through: This feat and its improved version really make a Strength-based Rogue a viable option. Opponents that you Cleave (after the first hit) are flat-footed against your attacks, which means you get to deal sneak damage to an enemy you cleave into after the first! Very cool, though very feat intensive..
Surprise Follow-Through, Improved: This does exactly the same thing as Surprise Follow-Through but lets you use it with Great Cleave, causing all enemies after the first that you Cleave into to be flat-footed.
Sympathetic Rage: This feat is VERY similar to Blood Vengeance, except that you get to enter a rage-like state anytime you’re adjacent to your raging Barbarian friend, and since this will hopefully happen a lot more often than one of your allies getting knocked out, I’d pick this one over Blood Vengeance. However, it’s sort of a double-edged sword, because if your Barbarian ally needs to move away from you, you become fatigued like a normal Barbarian would pretty much instantly.
Tenacious Survivor: Once again, a feat that keeps you from dying. Are you sensing a theme, here? This one keeps your spirit in your body for a short time, allowing your party healer to bring you back from the dead, but you do gain a negative level from doing so as if you had been resurrected, so you’re gonna hope you never have to use this one.
Thrill of the Kill: Another feat giving you extra rounds of rage, this one lets you gain a rage round anytime you knock out or kill an opponent. Combine this one with Gore Fiend, and scoring a critical hit that kills an enemy will give you TWO rounds of rage, which is pretty awesome.
Trap Wrecker: This feat reminds me of Order of the Stick, because I could just imagine Belkar deciding to smack a trap with a sword instead of using Disable Device. The benefit here is that you can literally smash a trap instead of disabling it, though there’s a good chance you will spring the trap and take damage. However, this is so incredibly flavorful and awesome that I just have to give it a high rating.
War Singer: There are two reasons to take this feat, #1 being if you find your Bard in the midst of an epic battle fairly often, as it doubles the range of your bardic performances if there are at least a dozen creatures battling nearby, and #2 being if you fight a lot of orcs (or half-orcs, or Sorcerers with the orc bloodline, etc.)
Humans are the quintessential everyman, with the ability to fulfill any party role, and in fact steal race-specific abilities, feats, and classes from other races with ease. Humans are also the most prevalent creatures in Golarion and most other settings, so if you’re going to have a humanoid-bane weapon, they’re the ones to focus on.
Ability Scores: Humans get to choose one ability score and add +2 to it.
Size: Humans are Medium size.
Speed: Humans have a base movement speed of 30ft.
Bonus Feat: A human character begins with a bonus feat that they qualify for. This is a great way to get started early on a long feat tree like the Point-Blank Shot line.
Skills: Humans gain an extra skill rank above and beyond that granted by their class at every level. This means for even a very skill-intensive character, you can use your favored class bonus for hit points or something more exotic.
Adoptive Parentage [Bonus Feat]: If you want to start with a specific race’s racial language and you don’t have the skill points for Linguistics ranks, I suppose this is a reasonable way to get it. The weapon familiarity of most races isn’t that exciting, so I’m not thrilled by that one either. Finally, if you wanted Skill Focus, you should take the Focused Study option below instead.
Dual Talent [Bonus Feat, Skilled]: Now THIS is a good choice. You give up both your bonus feat (ouch) and your skill points for a second +2 racial bonus to another ability score. Let me point out that if you use this on Intelligence, you’ve just made up the difference of the extra skill point, so an Int-based caster would definitely benefit from this.
Eye for Talent [Bonus Feat]: If you’re going into a class that grants you an animal companion or bonded mount, this is an excellent choice. Adding more Strength to your companion boosts its damage, more Con boosts its hit points, and if you choose to boost its Intelligence it will be able to choose from any feat it qualifies for, as opposed to just the “animal” feats. This one’s definitely worth losing a bonus feat. Note also that this feat can perform double duty for a character whose class gives them a mount and who also takes the Squire or Leadership feat.
Focused Study [Bonus Feat]: If you were planning to take Skill Focus at first level anyway (perhaps to qualify for Eldritch Heritage?) then this is a great choice, as you essentially get two more free feats as you gain levels, though they both have to be Skill Focus.
Heart of the Fields [Skilled]: This one is a good choice for a Barbarian, since once per day it will let you drop out of rage, ignore the fatigued condition, and then rage again when necessary, which can come in very handy. Other than that, I don’t see it being worth losing a skill rank per level.
Heart of the Mountains [Skilled]: Why would you choose this? Take the skill rank at each level and use two of those ranks in Climb, two in Acrobatics, and you’ve just made this option obsolete.
Heart of the Sea [Skilled]: If you’re going to be playing in a seafaring campaign, this may be a good choice for you, since Swim as a class skill will almost invariably be important, and you can’t really beat a +4 to concentration checks underwater. Outside of a campaign where you hang out on the ocean all the time, this one’s not worth the tradeoff.
Heart of the Slums [Skilled]: This racial option boosts three great skills, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, and Survival (albeit situationally). Rerolling all saves against disease really makes this one shine, though.
Heart of the Snows [Skilled]: I suppose if you’re going to be on a snow-covered mountain for most of your campaign, this could come in handy, but honestly I would prefer to just use the extra skill rank each level on Acrobatics and find other ways to boost my CMD.
Heart of the Streets [Skilled]: If you’re planning to be in close quarters with your allies, this one is nice. Dodge bonuses always stack with each other, and you could combine this with the Gang Up feat to get flanking bonuses as well. Add on a +1 to Reflex saves, and this one’s a great option for a Dex-based character.
Heart of the Sun [Skilled]: Unless you plan to hang out in hot jungles full of swarms of insects, I don’t see this one as worthy of your time. It’s just too situational.
Heart of the Wilderness [Skilled]: Wow, this one is excellent. If you want to make a character that is absolutely impossible to kill, take this racial trait, the Racial Heritage (Orc) feat, and the whole line of half-orc/orc feats that let you keep fighting after hitting 0 hit points.
Heroic [Bonus Feat]: I’ve never played in a game which used Hero Points, so I honestly don’t have any real opinion of this one. So it gets orange.
Mixed Heritage [Bonus Feat]: If you liked the look of more than one of those “Heart of the <Insert here>” racial traits up above (maybe combine Slums and Streets?) then this will let you drop your bonus feat to get a second one of those.
Silver Tongued [Skilled]: Diplomacy just doesn’t come up often enough to warrant this tradeoff, and even if it did you’re better off just putting the skill ranks you get at each level into Diplomacy instead. The only exception here is if you’re playing the “party face”, since this will raise your Diplomacy higher than just having max ranks would. For the party face, this is blue.
With even more versatility than the half-races spawned from them, humans can really shine at any class, so I won’t be listing several of the classes, since there’s nothing that makes them better or worse than any of the others. There are a few human-specific options that I’ll cover here, though.
Cavalier [Samurai]: The human racial trait option Eye for Talent is a great choice for a Cavalier or Samurai who wants a more powerful, more intelligent, or hardier mount, so I highly recommend choosing that option.
Druid: Humans can choose the Feral Child archetype, which is a very thematic option that drops some of the more magic-centric abilities (like wild shape) in favor of terrain-focused abiltiies and bonuses against negative status effects. Giving up wild shape has its drawbacks, however, so I’d think long and hard before choosing this archetype.
Fighter: Humans make excellent Fighters mostly because Fighters are defined by their feats and humans get an extra one. Along with that, you’ll find that the extra skill point per level will help shore up the Fighter’s lack thereof.
Gunslinger: A human Gunslinger gains access to the Buccaneer archetype, the main feature of which is using Charisma to determine grit points instead of Wisdom. You also gain the ability to get extra grit points by drinking alcohol, AND you get to have an “exotic pet” familiar, which is meant to be like a pirate’s shoulder-parrot.
Monk: Monks are generally pretty feat-heavy builds, so a human Monk can be a good way to boost your way into the best monk options early on. Humans also have access to the Wanderer archetype, which includes several interesting spell-like abilities and even a bardic performance-like ability at higher levels.
Sorcerer: Humans have access to the Imperious bloodline, which is an interesting bloodline that allows you to boost morale and circumstance bonuses to yourself and your allies. I wouldn’t say that it’s a particularly powerful choice of bloodlines (check out my bloodline guide for more details) but it’s interesting.
Alchemist: Extra formulae in your formula book is a decent option, but you can always add them from a scroll or a wizard’s spellbook instead by tossing some cash at them.
Barbarian: A bonus to trap sense (which many archetypes drop) or a single rage power (superstitious) is just not really worth your time. Note that this actually becomes a key, important part of an AM BARBARIAN build, where you are building the ultimate caster-killer.
Bard: Extra spells known for a spontaneous caster will always help out.
Cavalier: This one’s fun, assuming you don’t pick an archetype that drops the banner class feature. The Cavalier’s banner ability gives your allies a morale bonus against fear effects and to attack rolls when charging. If your party members charge in often, this would be a good choice (and don’t forget that you’re considered your own ally for abilities like this, so your Cavalier gets these bonuses also).
Cleric: If you expect to come up against demons and devils (or other outsiders) often, this might be a really good option for your Cleric, but generally this is a bit too situational to be worth the investment.
Druid: If the bonus to Intimidate given here worked on demoralize checks, this would be super awesome. However, it only helps when trying to change a creature’s attitude toward you, so this one sucks.
Fighter: For a grappling character, or even for any melee fighter, this is a pretty decent option. The most prevalent combat maneuvers in the game are grapple and trip, so getting bonuses against both of these (or you could choose sunder if you’re very attached to your weapon and armor) is nice.
Gunslinger: Extra grit points will make your Gunslinger much more usable in combat, so this one’s a keeper.
Inquisitor: Extra spells known for a spontaneous caster will always help out.
Magus: More arcane points means more enhancement bonus to your weapon or any number of other useful abilities, so this one’s great.
Monk: More ki points means more extra flurry attacks, Quinggong spell-like abilities, or any number of other useful abilities, so you really can’t go wrong here.
Oracle: Extra spells known for a spontaneous caster will always help out.
Paladin: If you think you’ll be traveling to the elemental plane of fire (or any of the other ones) you might want to add some inherent resistance to that element. Also note that you don’t have to choose the same element each level, so you could get resist acid, cold, electricity and fire 5 by the time you hit 20th level.
Ranger: This one is very versatile, letting you choose either a skill point or a hit point for your animal companion at each level. Of course, if you don’t have an animal companion, add that hit point or skill point to yourself instead.
Rogue: More rogue talents means more awesome abilities, so this one’s a keeper.
Sorcerer: Extra spells known for a spontaneous caster will always help out.
Summoner: This is the summoner version of the Ranger option, allowing you to give your eidolon an extra hit point or skill point each level. Since the eidolon is much more powerful, generally, than an animal compaion, this is a slightly better option.
Witch: Extra spells in your familiar is nice, but you can always add them from a scroll or a wizard’s spellbook instead by tossing some cash at them, so this is a trap.
Wizard: Extra spells in your spellbook is a decent option, but you can always add them from a scroll or another spellbook instead by tossing some cash at them.
Buccaneer (Gunslinger): I like this archetype, because it is super flavorful and gives you some really fun abilities along with that. First off, your grit points are based on Charisma instead of Wisdom, which means you can pump Charisma and be Jack Sparrow (by dumping Wisom and Intelligence) if you want to. You also gain extra grit points by drinking alcohol (“Where’s the rum gone?”) and gain an “exotic pet” which can be a monkey or toucan or parrot. Finally, you gain abilities that let you fight with a gun and sword at the same time without penalty. Basically, if you’ve ever wanted to play the quintessential “pirate” character, this is the way to do it.
Feral Child (Druid): The Feral Child’s fluff text states that she was abandoned in the wild and raised by animals, which is a common theme in fantasy stories and fits very well with a Druid. Your character will give up the ability to read and write and a few of the more magical Druid abilities (including wild shape) to gain a favored terrain similiar to that of a Ranger and bonuses against several detrimental conditions that you might run into in the wild, such as poison and disease. A Feral Child also summons creatures that are native to her favored terrain as if she were two levels higher for the purposes of spell duration, and her summoned creatures gain a bonus to Strength and Constitution that stacks with Augment Summoning, though that doesn’t come until 17th level. Overall this is an interesting archetype that might be better for an NPC than a player.
Wanderer (Monk): This is a decent option if you are playing in a party without a Bard and woud like to boost your allies a little bit while still keeping your monk-ish juices flowing. It’s also a good way to pick up proficiency in an exotic weapon without resigning yourself to using that weapon for the rest of your career, since you can change the proficiency every four levels. Later on you also get access to a Hide in Plain Sight-like ability which is actually even better than the one the Shadowdancer gets, since you don’t need to be in an area with shadows to use it. Overall this is a decent choice, but I wouldn’t say it’s any more or less powerful than a standard Monk.
Imperious (Sorcerer Bloodline): This isn’t an archetype, but this is the best place to list it. This bloodline for the Sorcerer is meant to signify your descendence from a line of Kings, and the powers you get from it are actually pretty excellent. Heroic Echo is a really fun one which increases morale bonuses (and later also competence bonuses) that you gain from spells, spell-like abilities, or magic items and share them with your allies. Starting at 9th level, when you shrug off a harmful condition, you get a free Intimidate check against the creature who tried to harm you, basically saying “LOOK HOW AWESOME I AM, YOUR PUNY SPELL DID NOTHING TO ME!” Finally, at 15th level you can use inspire greatness or inspire heroics as a bard of your level. I like this bloodline, but if you check out my bloodline guide you’ll see that it’s nowhere near the best one out there.
I honestly can’t come up with a prestige class that humans are hands-down better at than other races. If you can think of one, message me and let me know, and I’ll add it here.
Bestow Luck: This feat lets you use Defiant Luck an extra time per day (which lets you reroll a saving throw or force an enemy to reroll a critical hit confirmation against you) and also lets you grant the +8 skill bonus given by Inexplicable Luck to an ally instead of just yourself.
Critical Versatility: I’m not usually a fan of the Critical Feats, but if you have a character who uses a weapon with at least an 18-20 crit range, you might want to pick this feat up, as it lets you essentially learn any Critical feat that you qualify for until you decide to learn a different one, which is just incredible.
Dauntless Destiny: Yet another feat that lets you reroll a check, this one lets you reroll a natural 1 on a d20 once per day, and additionally lets you Intimidate the creature that caused that roll (just like the power granted by the Imperious bloodline).
Defiant Luck: This feat allows you to reroll a saving throw or force an enemy to reroll a critical hit confirmation against you once per day, and there is a whole tree of feats that improve and build on this one that are all incredible feats if you have the feat slots to use on them.
Eclectic: This feat essentially gives you the half-elf’s Multitalented racial trait, giving you a second favored class. Pretty cool, but if you wanted to have two favored classes you should have picked half-elf instead of using your extra feat on this one.
Fast Learner: If you are taking levels in only a single class, this feat is pretty excellent, because this lets you double up on the favored class bonus from that class. In some cases, it will make just as much sense to take Toughness, but if you’re trying to get extra skill points and also a specific racial favored class bonus, this is the way to do it.
Fearless Curiosity: This feat gives you an extra save against fear effects, which can reduce the effect by one level, and can really save your butt in a pinch.
Heroic Will: This ability gives you an extra saving throw against things like dominate effects, so if you’re the party’s damage dealer, this could be invaluable (and avoid your character being forced to kill his allies by an evil caster).
Huntmaster: This feat gives you a bonus to Handle Animal checks for a specific animal type, but the real benefit here is being treated as one level higher for determining the abilities of your animal companion or mount (and unlike Boon Companion, this is NOT restricted by your total character level). Combine this with Eye for Talent and you can have an incredibly powerful mount or companion even if you’re missing several levels of classes that grant companion levels.
Improved Improvisation: This feat cuts your penalties for nonproficiency with weapons, armor, and shields in half, which can be pretty useful if you pick up a random but very powerful weapon in a dungeon. It also improves the Improvisation feat’s benefits to skills that you have no ranks in. The benefit of this one isn’t really worth the feat slot, though.
Improvisation: This feat could be super useful for a Fighter with low Intelligence who wants to still be useful for skill checks outside combat. You’re almost gaining the equivalent of the class skill bonus, and for every single skill that you don’t have a rank in, so it could be really helpful at low levels, but will become useless at higher levels.
Inexplicable Luck: A +8 on ANY d20 roll once per day is absolutely amazing. Think about it... you’re fighting the big bad guy at the end of a session, and he’s knocked out half your party. You have 3 HP left, and you score a potential critical hit. You know it’ll be tough to confirm the crit, so you say “I ADD +8!” Critted, dead, you’re the hero!
Intimidating Confidence: For an Intimidate build, this would definitely be worth grabbing, as you get a free Intimidate check with bonuses that stack with Dazzling Display and increase based on your weapon’s critical range. However, most builds wouldn’t find this feat to be worth the considerable investment required.
Martial Mastery: Every combat feat you have that normally applies to only a single weapon now applies to all weapons in that group. Wow. The most broken way to abuse this one is to build an Savage Warrior Fighter / Vivisectionist/Beastmorph Alchemist with as many natural attack types as possible, then take Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Improved Critical, and Deadly Stroke, applying all of these feats to each of your natural attacks. You could also grab a level of Maneuver Master Monk to get an extra combat maneuver (probably trip) attempt each round, then pick up Feral Combat Training and Stunning Fist to possibly stun your enemy with every natural attack. The possibilities with this one are pretty much endless!
Martial Versatility: This feat is really just a way to get to Martial Mastery, but in its own right would be pretty good for a natural attack-focused Monk, since you can use this to apply to Feral Combat Training, which would allow you to use any of your natural attacks as part of a Flurry of Blows.
Racial Heritage: This feat essentially allows you to be treated as any other race for the purposes of feats, racial archetypes, class prerequisites, and all other effects. Did you see something in any of the other race’s sections above that you really liked? Your human can do that too! This feat is the ultimate in versatility, and that’s really what being a human is all about.
Surge of Success: If you find yourself confirming a lot of critical hits... then you probably don’t need the +2 bonus to attack that this will give you. It could come in handy for saving throws for a critical-focused character, but that’s about it.
Aasimar and Tieflings each have a book that’s essentially dedicated to only that race, Blood of Angels and Blood of Fiends, respectively. In these books, there are a HUGE number of racial options given for each of these two races. Because of this, these two races are probably even more versatile than humans, if your GM will allow you to choose any of the options in those books. These two sections will take a lot of space and time, so I’m going to do them first before I go into the other ARG races.
Ability Scores: The standard ability score modifiers for Aasimars are +2 Wisdom and +2 Charisma. This means that they excel at basically any divine class (obviously) but they can also make very good Sorcerers or Summoners, as I’ll show you soon.
Type: Aasimars have the Outsider (native) type, which is actually pretty detrimental, since this means you can’t cast any spells that affect only humanoids on them, such as enlarge person. However, it also means they’re not affected by spells that negatively affect humanoids, such as charm person, so it’s a double-edged sword.
Size: Aasimars are the same size as humans.
Speed: Aasimars move at the same speed as humans.
Celestial Resistance: Starting off with resistance 5 to three different elements is excellent, and it means that they can go up against spellcasters with a little less worry than some humanoid races.
Skilled: A +2 to the best skill in the game makes me happy. Adding in +2 to Diplomacy is just icing on the cake.
Spell-Like Ability: Aasimars can cast daylight once per day, treating their character level as their caster level. This can be helpful when underground, since many creatures that live in caves have some form of light sensitivity.
Darkvision: I’ve talked about darkvision before, and how I think it’s worth much more than low-light vision is. This is very helpful.
Aasimars and Tieflings have some very unique options available to them, depending on what type of celestial being or fiend helped sire them. These are NOT core options, so some GMs will just say “no chance”, but if your GM will allow them you’re going to have a relally strong character on your hands. Also don’t forget to look at the table of 100 different options with which your Aasimar can replace his or her spell-like ability. I’m not going to give suggestions on these because any sane GM will make you roll on that table instead of just picking one... seriously, these guys have too many options available to them. It’s just sick.
Agathion-blooded: These Aasimars make for excellent Paladins, thanks to the increased Constitution and Charisma. The bonus to Handle Animal will also come in handy for a Paladin’s mount.
Angel-blooded: These Aasimars also make excellent Paladins, or could do very well as a melee-build Sorcerer, thanks to their bonuses to Strength and Charisma.
Archon-blooded: The descendents of Archons make for unbelievable Clerics or Rangers, with bonuses to Constitution and Wisdom.
Azata-blooded: These Aasimars make for excellent “playful trickster” type Bards, and their boosts to both Dexterity and Charisma also make them seriously awesome Ninjas.
Garuda-blooded: I can imagine a seriously sweet ranged Ranger build here, with boosts to both Dexterity and Wisdom, and see invisibility as a spell-like ability once per day.
Peri-blooded: With boosts to Intelligence and Charisma, the Peri-blooded Aasimar is kind of an oddball. Perhaps a studious Sorcerer (especially since the skill bonuses you get are both Knowledge skills)? Or a particularly dashing Magus?
Celestial Crusader [Celestial Resistance, Skilled]: A situational +1 to attack really isn’t worth giving up resistance 5 to three different elements. Thumbs-down.
Deathless Spirit [Celestial Resistance]: This one is really interesting, and flavorful at that. You get a bonus to saves against basically all spells that involve negative energy, resistance 5 to negative energy on top of that, and you don’t lose hit points when you gain a negative level (even from being resurrected)! This is a great option if you’re less worried about coming across elemental damage and more worried about going up against evil Clerics or Paladins.
Exalted Resistance [Celestial Resistance]: Spell resistance isn’t easy to come by at lower levels, and the best thing about this version of spell resistance is it doesn’t keep you or your allies from casting buffs or healing on you.
Halo [Darkvision]: While this is super thematic and cool, it’s just not worth giving up Darkvision for.
Heavenborn [Skilled, Spell-like Ability]: For a divine caster (or a Celestial Sorcerer) this is a pretty amazing ability, letting you cast spells with the good or light descriptors as if your caster level was one higher. A recently-published spell makes incredibly good use of this power, and its’ called burst of radiance, which deals 1d4 damage to evil creatures with no save! This racial option does come at the cost of your racial spell-like ability, though, which can be very useful.
Immortal Spark [Skilled, Spell-like Ability]: If you REALLY don’t want an evil Cleric to use death effects on you, you can combine this ability with Deathless Spirit, and the bonuses against spells of that type will actually stack to a +4! However, I see this as overkill, since the spell-like ability given by this choice (lesser age resistance) is not nearly as cool as a lot of the others, so I wouldn’t choose this one.
Incorruptable [Spell-like Ability]: I don’t find corruption resistance to be that exciting of a spell, so I’d also not choose this one.
Scion of Humanity [Native subtype]: Okay, so this is one of the best ways in the game to make a completely optimized character. This ability lets you be treated as a human for all effects. This means you can choose human archetypes and feats. “Isn’t there a feat for humans that lets you be treated as any other race?” you might ask. Why yes, Racial Heritage does that. This means that you can, by choosing this racial option and taking Racial Heritage, count as an Aasimar, a human, and any other humanoid race all at the same time, letting you mix-and-match feats and archetypes that would never normally go together.
Truespeaker [Skilled]: While I enjoy the Linguistics skill from a purely role-playing standpoint, trading away your +2 to Perception just isn’t worth it.
Alchemist: Since Alchemists rely on Intelligence for their extracts and bomb damage, the best Aasimar heritage is definitely Peri-blooded. The boost to Charisma isn’t the most useful for a straight Alchemist, but the combination of Intelligence and Charisma could make for a very strong Alchemist/Ninja.
Barbarian: Agathion-blooded, Angel-blooded or Archon-blooded Aasimar can make excellent Barbarians, with either a boost to Strength or Con. Aasimar Barbarians might also be interested in the Celestial Crusader alternate race trait, to get a boost to damage against evil outsiders.
Bard: The Azata-blooded Aasimar are also called Musetouched, so it makes perfect sense that they would make for seriously awesome Bards. The chaotic good alignment, a skill boost to Perform, and glitterdust as a spell-like ability all add up to some Bardic deliciousness. But that’s not even the best part... the favored class bonus is absolutely awesome! You get to choose a bardic performance, and be treated as a higher level Bard when using that performance! Now, you might be tempted to choose Inspire Courage for this, but I’m going to suggest Inspire Competence instead, because it would take 12 levels to gain any benefit to Inspire Courage. Along with this, for a character with the Arcane Duelist archetype, you’ll definitely want to choose Bladethirst. Another excellent option is the Daredevil archetype’s Canny Foe ability, with which you could make a seriously awesome tripping build.
Cavalier [Samurai]: An Angel-blooded Aasimar is a great choice for a Cavalier thanks to the Strength boost. An Agathion-blooded would also make a lot of sense, because of the boost to Handle Animal and having summon nature’s ally II as a spell-like ability. In any case, your Aasimar Cavalier will want to take the Celestial Servant feat, which will give you a more Paladin-like mount that can smite evil and has damage reduction! There is also a very nice alternate favored class bonus, which boosts your damage against your challenge target.
Cleric: The standard Aasimar was practically made to be a Cleric, thanks to the boosts to both Wisdom and Charisma. There are several good alternate race traits for Clerics, including Celestial Crusader, Exalted Resistance, Heavenborn, or Incorruptible. The favored class bonus is extremely good, giving you extra damage when using positive energy against undead (including when channeling or using cure spells for damage). There is also an Aasimar-only feat set which lets your Aasimar Cleric use her channel energy ability to not only deal damage but also push or pull her targets; Channel Force, Improved Channel Force, and Greater Channel Force.
Druid: Either the standard Aasimar or the Archon-blooded or Garuda-blooded are the best choices for Druid, because you really want to keep that Wisdom boost for your spellcasting. If you’re trying to focus more on spells than wild-shape, you may be interested in the Heavenborn race trait for some extra oomph on your light-descriptor spells (though Clerics and Paladins have a lot more of those to choose from than Druids do.) If you have an animal companion, you’ll definitely want to grab the Celestial Servant feat, as the smite evil and damage reduction can come in very handy.Remember that if you choose the Scion of Humanity race trait, you can choose human-only archetypes like the Feral Child, which is a fun, though not incredibly powerful, archetype.
Fighter: If you’re going for a melee fighter, Angel-blooded is the way to go, and if you’re going for a ranged fighter, Azata- or Garuda-blooded give you a boost to Dex, so those are the best choices. I like Garuda-blooded better of those two because of see invisibility as a spell-like ability, which a Fighter would normally have to rely on his party caster to use. There aren’t any other feats or specific race traits that stand out to me for a Fighter.
Gunslinger: The Garuda-blooded Aasimar has a perfect stat array for the vanilla Gunslinger, with both Dex and Wisdom getting a bonus. For the Mysterious Stranger archetype, definitely go with Azata-blooded, to get the Charisma boost. As I said for the Fighter, Garuda-blooded gives you see invisibility as a spell-like ability, which a Gunslinger wouldn’t normally have access to, especially so early in the game, so I like that one. Remember that if you choose the Scion of Humanity race trait, you can choose human-only archetypes like the Buccaneer, which I personally love.
Inquisitor: I’ve always considered Inquisitors to be slightly angry, more specialized Clerics, so it makes sense that Aasimar make good Inquisitors as well. The Archon-blooded make the most sense to me for an Inquisitor, as the Con and Wisdom boosts work very well and the racial bonuses to Intimidate and Sense Motive are perfect. The favored class option even adds to that racial bonus, giving you +1/2 on Intimidate, Knowledge, and Sense Motive checks against all outsiders. I would also highly recommend taking the Animal domain, then grabbing both Celestial Servant and Boon Companion, as having an animal companion with DR to flank with is a great boost for an Inquisitor.
Magus: With the Magus’s need for Intelligence, the Peri-blooded Aasimar is really the best choice. I’m not really seeing any other specifically-good options for a Magus, since there are almost no light-descriptor spells on his list, so Heavenborn wouldn’t be very useful, and there aren’t any human-only Magus archetypes or feats that strike me as Magus-centric.
Monk: There’s no question that the Garuda-blooded Aasimar is the best option for a monk, even if you’re not planning on making a fully Dexterity-based monk. Boosts to Wisdom and Dex both apply to a monk’s AC, so you can make a seriously unhittable monk with this option. Using the Scion of Humanity racial option (which causes your Aasimar to be treated as a human for ALL purposes), you can also choose to take the Wanderer archetype, which is a decent option that lets you gain some spell-like abilities and bardic performances in place of some of the standard monk powers. I would also recommend checking out the Angelic Blood feat, as it can lead into Angelic Flesh, which will let you treat your unarmed strikes as either silver or cold iron for the purposes of overcoming damage reduction.
Oracle: Aasimars were born to be Oracles, with the power of the heavens running through their veins (and sometimes driving them a little mad). Most of the Aasimar heritages include a boost to Charisma, so just choose any one of those that strikes your fancy. You’ll also definitely want the Heavenborn alternate race trait, and you’ll most certainly want to pick up the Angelic Blood and Angelic Flesh feats, choosing the golden option for Angelic Flesh, since this will boost your caster level for spells with the light descriptor by ANOTHER +1. The best part of being an Aasimar Oracle, however, is the alternate favored class option. With this option, you’re treated as +1/2 level higher for the effects of one of your revelations every level, and when you stack those extra levels on a revelation like the Many Forms revelation from the Dark Tapestry mystery, you can get access to very high-level spells at very early levels (such as greater polymorph, a 7th level spell, at 10th level for up to 15 minutes a day!). Another incredible option is the Spirit of the Warrior revelation from the Ancestor mystery, which makes your Base Attack Bonus equal to your Oracle level for a bunch of rounds per day (which means you can have a BAB HIGHER than your character level!) On top of all of this, Aasimars have their own racial archetype for the Oracle, called the Purifier. This archetype gives up a little bit of spellcasting to gain Alignment Channel as a Cleric of the same level, the ability to turn evil outsiders as if using Turn Undead, and command good outsiders as if using Command Undead! This is a really cool, flavorful archetype, and I highly recommend it, even at the cost of one spell per day and free cure spells.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: Aasimars make extremely good Paladins, especially Angel-blooded ones, since the boost to Strength and Charisma fits a melee Paladin perfectly. Note that if you’re going with a ranged Paladin instead, Azata-blooded is your obvious choice. There are several excellent options for an Aasimar Paladin, including the Exalted Resistance and Heavenborn alternate racial options, the Angelic Blood line of feats (definitely pick up Angel Wings, as a flying Paladin is a sight for any evil creature to fear). Aasimars also get a Paladin archetype of their own, called the Tranquil Guardian. I’m not a huge fan of this archetype because it focuses on keeping your enemies from attacking as opposed to just beating them down, but if you’re trying to play a tank-y character who is in charge of protecting the Rogue or Ninja while he sets up flanking, this could be very helpful. The Antipaladin’s abilities don’t really match up with an Aasimar... look at the Tiefling instead.
Ranger: The ranger’s reliance on Wisdom works well for an Aasimar, with either Archon-blooded or Garuda-blooded heritages standing out as nice options. The Beastmaster or Falconer archetypes work very well with the Celestial Servant feat, giving your companion DR 5/evil and a smite ability once per day.
Rogue [Ninja]: Aasimar aren’t the greatest choice ever for a Rogue, since Rogues really need a decent Int score, but an Azata-blooded Aasimar can make a mean Ninja. I would suggest against the Angelic Flesh feat this time, since you dont’ want to take a -2 penalty to Stealth as either a Rogue or Ninja. The Sanctified Rogue archetype is thematic for an Aasimar, though it’s not the most optimal choice by any stretch (Note that this archetype is also available to Ninjas, since it replaces Uncanny Dodge and Improved Uncanny Dodge).
Sorcerer: Like Oracles, Sorcerers are Charisma-based, so any of the Aasimar heritages that include a Charisma boost are viable. There are of course several bloodlines that make thematic sense and also complement your Aasimar abilities, including Celestial, Destined, Maestro (for the Azata-blooded), and Martyred. You can also choose the human-only Imperious bloodline thanks to the Scion of Humanity alternate racial option. Check out my Sorcerer bloodline guide for more details on any of these. Sadly, the Sorcerer/Wizard spell list doesn’t lend itself to making use of the Heavenborn racial option as well as the Cleric list does. An Aasimar Sorcerer can boost his caster level in another way, though, using the alternate favored class option which gives you a +1/4 to caster level for all good descriptor spells!
Summoner: Summoners also use Charisma as their casting stat, so any of the Aasimar heritages that include a Charisma boost are good options. You can flavor your eidolon to look like literally anything, so it would be very thematic for your Summoner to call upon the aid of an Angel or other celestial being, and that’s even a suggested eidolon build in Ultimate Magic. The favored class option is also excellent, allowing your eidolon to gain DR/evil without having to spend evolution points on it.
Witch and Wizard: Witches and Wizards rely on Intelligence, so the only reasonable option for them is the Peri-blooded Aasimar. There are also no racial abilities that really complement the class abilities of these two classes. In other words, there are definitely better choices out there, but you could still make a decent Witch or Wizard with an Aasimar.
Bard: This favored class bonus treats you as a higher bard level than you actually are for the effects of one bardic performance, which is a great ability. Now, it will take several levels for this to come into effect, since you only gain +1/2 per class level, but if you choose a performance whose benefit is increased by every four levels, like the Arcane Duelist archetype’s Bladethirst or the Daredevil archetype’s Canny Foe, you’ll get the most out of this favored class option.
Cavalier: Extra damage aginst your challenge target is a big deal, as it’s going to be your main source of damage for a Cavalier. This is a good option.
Cleric: This choice gives you extra damage against undead (and evil outsiders if you have Alignment Channel) when using positive energy. If you’re planning to go up against a lot of undead creatures in your campaign, this is definitely a good reason to choose Cleric.
Inquisitor: This bonus is really best for an Inquisitor who makes use of the Snake Style feat line, where you get to replace your armor class with the result of your Sense Movite check once per round. Even if you aren’t building Snake Style into your character, though, a +1/2 bonus to three class skills is pretty sweet.
Oracle: Increasing your effective Oracle level for any one revelation is one of the best favored class bonuses in the game, because some revelations have extremely potent powers at higher level, and you get access to those powers earlier than normal!
Paladin: I honestly don’t find that a Paladin’s auras come into play that often, so this one doesn’t impress me.
Sorcerer: There aren’t as many good-descriptor spells on the Sorcerer/Wizard list as there are on the Cleric list, but a boost to caster level with good-descriptor spells is still really powerful. One spell you’ll definitely want to grab is burst of radiance from the Champions of Purity sourcebook, which deals 1d4 damage per caster level to evil creatures with no save, and has the chance to blind them also!
Summoner: This is a great option for a Summoner, becuase you’re essentially getting free evolution points that you would normally have to use on giving your eidolon damage reduction.
Purifier (Oracle): I really like this archetype, because it gives you some options that no other character in the game can get, namely the ability to turn evil outsiders as if using Turn Undead, AND the ability to command good outsiders as if using Command Undead. If you are running into devils and demons a lot, or if you plan to use planar ally spells often, this is a really good option.
Tranquil Guardian (Paladin): This archetype really doesn’t wow me, as you’re replacing some of the Paladin’s best abilities (including your bread and butter, smite evil) with abilities that let you stop an enemy from attacking or casting a spell for one round (though this increases at higher levels). An important point here, also, is that this ability says nothing about supernatural abilities that deal damage, so a lot of creatures will still have ways of hurting you or you allies either way (Witches, for example).
Champion of Irori: This class is from Paths of Prestige, and is a very cool and pretty strong combination of Paladin and Monk. To qualify for this prestige class, you’ll need at least one level of Paladin for smite evil, and three levels of monk for still mind. You also can’t take your first level of Champion of Irori until 6th level thanks to skill rank requirements. The benefits here include the ability to use smite on chaotic creatures (even if they’re also good-aligned!) and at third level you also gain an essentially free Cleave feat, which is auto-upgraded to Great Cleave at 6th level! The 5th-level ability, shield the weak, is also pretty sweet, allowing your Champion to block area effect spells from his adjacent allies and give them Improved Evasion against the effects. Finally, at 10th level your Champion effectively gains Whirlwind Attack as a free feat, which is amazing!
Divine Scion: The Divine Scion is all about cleric domains, even if you start off as a Paladin or Oracle. Based on the domains granted by your favored deity, you get to choose a spell-like ability, which can range anywhere from a constant 0-level spell to a one-per-day third-level spell. At higher levels, you gain bonuses to damage on creatures of your opposed alignment, damage reduction, and the ability to stagger creatures of that opposed alignment. I suggest using the Oracle as the base class for this, since Aasimars make incredibly good oracles.
Holy Vindicator: The Holy Vindicator focuses on using the channel energy class ability to do other interesting things, like enhance his shield or boost Channel Smite. He also gains some other interesting abilities, like channel energy in a cone or line shape. It does involve having to bleed for several of your abilities, which is strange but pretty full of flavor. For that reason, Angelic Blood is an excellent feat to complement this archetype.
Angel Wings: Gaining a fly speed means you never need to worry about falling into a pit or having trouble climbing a rope again, so this is very useful.
Angelic Blood: This is a cool feat for a Paladin or Cleric who fights undead all the time, as it will deal damage to undead when you bleed nearby.
Angelic Flesh: This feat is actually four different feats, and you get to choose between them when you take it. All four are useful, but I feel that the best one is definitely the Golden version, which gives a caster a +1 boost to caster level for spells with the light descriptor.
Blinding Light: A useless prerequisite feat (see Inner Light below), and a situation which just won’t come up that often (an opponent attempting to dispel or counter your once-per-day spell-like ability) makes this a terrible choice.
Celestial Servant: This one is really helpful to anyone with an animal companion or mount who is NOT a Paladin, as they already get the celestial template added to their mount. The celestial template gives your mount or companion DR 5/evil, a smite evil power once per day, and energy resistance 5 against three elements!
Channel Force: This is a very cool ability for a Cleric who uses channel energy to deal damage to either undead or evil outsiders, you also get to push or pull the target based on the damage you deal.
Consecrate Spell: This is an aasimar-only version of Maximized Spell that only works on eviil creatures, but also only increases the spell slot by +2. Not worth a feat slot in my opinion, but could be worth picking up in a metamagic rod (especially because in that case it wouldn’t require you to be able to cast consecrate).
Improved Channel Force: Like a Holy Vindicator, this feat lets you use your channel energy ability in a cone or a line in addition to a burst.
Greater Channel Force: This one isn’t quite as exciting, because all it lets you do is use Channel Force in a burst instead of just against one creature or in a cone or line.
Heavenly Radiance: I like this feat for a damage-dealing Cleric or Oracle to be able to essentially cast some extra spells per day. I would suggest choosing searing light for this one, as it’s a good spell and especially good against undead.
Inner Light: A higher caster level for a single spell-like ability is not terribly useful, and the situation in which an opponent counters or dispels your daylight spell is pretty unlikely, so I’d say ignore this one.
Metallic Wings: This feat isn’t terribly exciting unless you’re a Paladin who can deal extra damage using smite evil, since the extra natural attacks gained from this feat will be extremely useful.
Revered Guidance: This could be a very useful feat for a party face-type character, especially in a campaign where you expect to see a lot of one particular race (in PFS for example, you run across a LOT of humans). For most characters, however, this isn’t super useful.
Supernal Feast: This feat is just not meant for anyone exept evil aasimar who plan to kill a bunch of angels or something. Stay away.
Catfolk are exactly what they sound like... humanoids with catlike features. They’re one of several Pathfinder races that make so-called “furries” salivate to play them, but they also are an excellent choice for several different character types, so don’t discount them just cuz they’re covered in fur!
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, -2 Wisdom. Catfolk make extremely good Rogues and Ninjas, and can also be good Charisma-based casters, though most of their racial options are made for sneaky characters.
Size: Catfolk are the same size as humans.
Speed: Catfolk move at the same speed as humans, but pay attention to the Sprinter feature, which makes them faster in some situations.
Cat’s Luck: Once per day, a Catfolk can choose roll a Reflex saving throw twice and take the better result (though they have to choose to do so before the throw is rolled). This is an excellent ability and can definitely save your character’s life!
Natural Hunter: A +2 bonus to Perception, Stealth, and Survival is almost too good to be true as a racial bonus. Not only do you get a bonus to the best skill in the game, but also to Stealth, and you know your catfolk Ninja is gonna love that!
Sprinter: You move at a speed of 40 feet when you’re charging, running, or withdrawing. The charging part is definitely the most exciting, as there are many bonuses you can get from a charge, including getting free sneak attack damage if you take the Scout archetype! You should also pay attention to the Catfolk Exemplar feat, which gives you ANOTHER +10ft boost to your speed when charging!
Low-Light Vision: We’ve talked about this before. Most GMs ignore the benefits of low-light vision, only worrying about darkvision, so I don’t give this a huge amount of value.
Cat’s Claws [Natural Hunter]: This choice would be great for characters who want to focus on natural attacks, and there are some good reasons for taking this trait (such as the Claw Pounce feat and the Vicious Claws rogue talent that is only available to catfolk rogues). However, you’re giving up a LOT to get these claws, because +2 to three skills is essentially 2 feats. There are other ways to get claw attacks (such as the Natural Weapon Ranger) but for a Rogue that wants to use Claw Pounce, this is still probably your best option. You should also look at the Catfolk Exemplar feat, which can give you this racial trait or make your claws better if you already have it.
Clever Cat [Natural Hunter}:I don’t care how much you think you’ll use these three skills, giving up a bonus to Perception and Stealth isn’t worth it.
Climber [Sprinter]: This is an interesting choice. For a character who doesn’t plan to charge into battle, having a climb speed could be extremely useful, and in places like forests can even be a cheap replacement for flight in early levels. Overall, if you aren’t planning to charge much, this is probably worth your time. You can also always grab Catfolk Exemplar to get the Sprinter ability back in addition to this one.
Curiosity [Natural Hunter]: Hmm... so here’s the thing... getting Knowledge skills as class skills isn’t that exciting, but for some characters a +4 to Diplomacy could be a HUGE boost. For a party face Oracle or Sorcerer, or a Wizard who still wants to be able to barter with people, I’d probably choose this over Natural Hunter.
Nimble Faller [Sprinter]: This option is very cat-like, and can come in very handy in a pinch. If you fall into a pit full of enemies, you’re not going to be prone, and that’s great. A bonus versus trip attempts can also be a huge help. I would probably still choose Sprinter over this one in most cases, but it’s still a good choice. You can also always grab Catfolk Exemplar to get the Sprinter ability back in addition to this one.
Scent [Low-light vision]: This... is awesome! Seriously, scent essentially means no one can ever sneak up on you undetected, unless they’ve specifically prepared for you, and that’s a really big deal. Compared to low-light vision, scent is just amazingly good. Take this option! If you really want the low-light vision back, pick up Catfolk Exemplar later to get it in addition.
Alchemist: There’s no reason a catfolk can’t make a great Alchemist, but there’s also nothing that specifically makes them good at alchemy either. I would probably choose a more optimal race if I wanted to build an Alchemist.
Barbarian: The catfolk’s Sprinter ability lends itself nicely to a run-in-and-smash Barbarian, and the bonus to Perception from Natural Hunter is great. If you want a barbarian that attacks with natural weapons, you could take the Cat’s Claws racial option to save yourself a Rage Power on it, and you might even want to pick up Claw Pounce. Also make sure to check out the Nimble Striker feat, which lets you Cleave and charge without taking a penalty to AC! Overall, catfolk is a pretty good option for a Barbarian.
Bard: Catfolk have a bonus to Charisma, so that’s one point for them right off the bat. Dexterity is usually also important for Bards, so that’s another good reason to choose a catfolk. The favored class bonus is also pretty nice, boosting your bardic knowledge ability by +1/2 per level.
Cavalier [Samurai]: Catfolk are meant to stay on their own feat, not be mounted on some horse. For this reason, the only Cavalier archetype that makes sense for a catfolk is the Musketeer, who trades his bonded mount for a gun. You all know how I feel about guns in fantasy, but as far as abilities, this could be a good choice. For a Samurai, the only non-mounted option is the Sword Saint, which I actually really like.
Cleric: Catfolk are weak on Wisdom, so in general they don’t make the best Clerics. There are also no racial options or feats that lend specifically to the Clerical lifestyle, so I would pick a different class, personally.
Druid: Catfolk are very nature-oriented, so thematically it makes sense for a catfolk to become a Druid, but the penalty to Wisdom hurts. Obviously if you do go Druid, you’ll probably want to take the Lion Shaman archetype because it just makes way too much sense. Several of the catfolk’s more bestial racial options work well for a Druid also, such as Scent and Cat’s Claws. Finally, the catfolk Druid favored class option is nice, letting you give your animal companion some extra hit points in lieu of yourself. Overall, while not optimal, a catfolk Druid has a lot of thematic options, so I can’t rate it too low.
Fighter: With natural weapons available, increased speed during charges, and Scent as an option, catfolk Fighters can be vicious and deadly, especially if they take the Savage Warrior archetype. A catfolk’s increase to Dexterity can also lend itself quite nicely to an archery-focused Fighter. I definitely recommend Catfolk Exemplar to boost your speed during charges by another +10 feet, and it can also increase the damage done by your claws, so you could choose it a second time for that.
Gunslinger: With the standard Gunslinger’s grit points being reliant on Wisdom, you’re definitely going to want to go the Mysterious Stranger route if you want a catfolk Gunslinger. Given the catfolk’s focus on speed, you may also want to pick up the Shot on the Run feat so that you can make ranged attacks while moving.
Inquisitor: Like Clerics, the Inquisitor’s reliance on Wisdom makes them a poor choice for a catfolk, and there aren’t any other redeeming abilities available, so I suggest choosing another option.
Magus: With no Intelligence boost, there’s nothing that makes a catfolk any better or worse at being a Magus than many other races.
Monk: Catfolk have a racial archetype for the monk called the Nimble Guardian. The coolest part of this archetype is a beast shape ability at 7th level, but you’re still going to be hurting for ki points thanks to the Wisdom penalty, so this isn’t an optimized choice.
Oracle: A catfolk’s boost to Charisma is great for an Oracle, and you can give your Oracle a natural theme with the Nature mystery. The racial favored class option is very nice, giving you extra spells known which are not easy to come by for spontaneous casters.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: The boost to Charisma can help your Paladin with spells and Lay on Hands, but without an increase to either Strength or Constitution I can’t recommend a catfolk Paladin that highly.
Ranger: A catfolk natural attacking Ranger is a great option, thanks to a boost to Perception, Stealth and Survival checks from Natural Hunter. The Climber alternate racial trait is also attractive for a Ranger. Catfolk even have a pretty sweet racial favored class option, boosting critical hit confirmation rolls with a chosen weapon. With the Wisdom penalty, I recommend picking an archetype that drops spellcasting, such as Skirmisher or Trapper.
Rogue [Ninja]: Catfolk seemingly were MADE to be Rogues, because they not only have a decent racial archetype, the Cat Burglar, but they also gain several racial Rogue talents. Deadly Scratch lets you apply poison to your claws if you have the poison use class feature. Disarming Luck gives you a second attempt at a failed Disable Device check once per day. Graceful Faller gives you the nimble faller racial trait, or if you already have it allows you to reduce falling damage by 2d6. Nimble Climber gives a +4 to climb checks, and if you have the Climber alternate racial trait you can take 10 on any Climb check. Single-Minded Appraiser lets you take 10 on Appraise checks for gems or jewelery. Finally, and most excitingly, Vicous Claws allows you to use d8 dice for your sneak attack when using your claws! This last one is definitely the reason a catfolk can make an amazing Rogue, especially if you pick up the Scout archetype, which lets you apply your sneak attack dice after charging, and you get +10 feet of speed on your charges! Couple this with Nimble Striker and Claw Pounce, and you’ve got a seriously scary Rogue! A ninja does even better, since not only can they choose these excellent racial Rogue talents and the Cat Burglar archetype, but the boost to Charisma helps with extra ki points!
Sorcerer: Like an Oracle, the catfolk bonus to Charisma makes for a great Sorcerer base, and you couldn’t find a better race to use the Rakshasa bloodline with, since Rakshasas look like humans with cat heads! The favored class option is also decent, letting you use one of your bloodline powers (such as the Rakshasa bloodline’s Silver Tongue power) more times per day.
Summoner: As another Charisma-based caster, the Summoner works well for catfolk. I imagine a catfolk would summon a cat-shaped eidolon, and the First Worlder archetype makes a lot of sense, as it makes your eidolon into a fey creature, and that fits the catfolk nature theme very nicely.
Witch: Without a boost to Intelligence, a witch isn’t the greatest choice for a catfolk. If you do decide to go this way, I suggest the Beast-Bonded archetype for relatively obvious reasons.
Wizard: Similar to the witch, there are no really great reasons to choose a Wizard, and there aren’t any really great archetypes that make sense either, so I suggest picking a different class.
Bard: A bonus to bardic knowledge can be helpful, though many would argue that an extra skill point is more generally useful since you can use it for a Perform skill.
Cavalier: If you decide to be a catfolk cavalier, a bonus to the banner ability can definitely come in handy.
Druid: Extra hit points for your animal companion is a great choice for any druid, so this one’s worth your time for sure.
Oracle: All spontaneous casters suffer from a small list of spells known, so gaining extras is an excellent option for your favored class bonus.
Ranger: For a natural weapon ranger, choosing a bonus to critical hit confirmations for your claws is really excellent!
Rogue: Unless you’re planning to feint and hide weapons a lot, this one’s not worth your time. Take the skill point instead.
Sorcerer: This is the same as the Oracle option, and just as good.
Arcane Trickster: A catfolk with levels in Ninja and Sorcerer can make a seriously excellent Arcane Trickster, though it’s not the strongest prestige class in general.
Magaambyan Arcanist: If you do decide to go with a prepared arcane caster for your catfolk, I would definitely consider picking up levels in this prestige class, since it has strong ties to nature and lets you pick spells from the Druid spell list that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
Dawnflower Dissident: I like this prestige class for a catfolk Oracle who also wants to add a bit of sneakiness and some more melee ability to his build. Though this prestige class was obviously written for an Inquisitor, it could add some seriously excellent abilities to your Oracle.
Catfolk Exemplar: This feat is actually three different feats, and each of the options has merit. The enhanced senses option can give you the Scent ability if you kept low-light vision at first level, or vice versa. Fast sprinter either gives you the Sprinter racial trait or boosts the speed bonus given by it by 10 more feet. Sharp claws is one of the several ways that your catfolk can gain claw attacks, and my personal favorite since I don’t think you should trade away the Natural Hunter racial ability.
Claw Pounce: This is a great option for a Scout Rogue or for a Monk with the Feral Combat Training feat, as it lets you make a full attack with your claws at the end of a charge. It has steep requirements, and for either a straight Rogue or Monk will have to wait til level fifteen, but it’s absolutely worth the wait!
Feline Grace: This feat gives you a bonus to your CMD against five different combat maneuvers, which is almost a flat bonus to CMD. I like it, though most builds won’t have enough feat slots sitting around to use on this one.
Nimble Striker: This one is a prerequisite for Claw Pounce, and it allows you to charge, Lunge, or Cleave without taking a -2 to your AC, and that can be a huge deal for a character who can’t wear heavy armor, like a Rogue.
Black Cat: This feat is definitely thematic, allowing you to cause an enemy that hits you to reroll the attack at a -4 penalty once per day. However, like I pointed out with Feline Grace, most builds just won’t have the feat slots to use on this one, and there are better feat options out there.
Dhampir are the result of either an unlikely love between a vampire and a human or, well... something much more disturbing. Either way, they are generally beautiful in an unearthly way, and may look sickly and frail to some. Their beauty and grace makes them ideal thieves and spies, but they can fill many party roles with ease thanks to their variant heritages.
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, -2 Constitution. Dhampir bonuses make them ideal Ninjas or Bards, and along with the Sanguine bloodline they can be especially deadly as Sorcerers. The penalty to Con does have its drawbacks, however, as their generally reduced hit points keeps them out of front-line combat for the most part.
Type: Dhampir are humanoids with the dhampir subtype.
Size: Dhampir are the same size as humans.
Speed: Dhampir move at the same speed as humans.
Undead Resistance: Their undead heritage gives Dhampir a +2 bonus against both diseases and mind-effecting affects. This is a great bonus, and can save your party in a pinch.
Resist Level Drain: Dhampir naturally resist the energy drain effects that their vampiric parents love to use on living beings. This means they essentially ignore all penalties from negative levels and any negative levels that your dhampir might accrue are automatically healed away after 24 hours. This ability is seriously awesome, and makes dhampir the best possible race for building a vampire hunter-style character. (Think Blade here).
Manipulative: I honestly don’t know why a trait called Manipulative includes a bonus to Perception, but be glad it does! The boost to Bluff isn’t bad, either.
Spell-Like Ability: A dhampir can cast detect undead three times per day, which is just another reason that dhampir make excellent vampire hunters.
Darkvision: If you’ve read this far in my guide you know how much I love Darkvision. This is always a great thing to have in a dungeon!
Low-light vision: A race that naturally gets both darkvision AND low-light vision? This is awesome! Though, as I’ve said before, low-light vision just doesn’t come up that often in real games.
Light Sensitivity: This is part of the punishment for all those excellent blue racial traits up above: you are dazzled in bright sunlight, and that equates to a -1 to all attack rolls and sight-based Perception checks.
Negative Energy Affinity: This is the other part of the punishment I mentioned, and it’s a doozy. You can’t heal from a good cleric’s positive energy, and you can’t use cure spells, as they harm you as if you were undead. Now, in most cases this is a serious detriment to your party. However, remember that most classes that have cure spells also have inflict spells available to them, and potions aren’t prohibitively expensive, so if your party is careful then you can get around this. Furthermore, if you play a necromancer (which a dhampir is VERY good at doing), you can heal yourself all day long with negative energy, and heal your undead minions at the same time! (Therefore for necromancers, this is a green ability.)
Jiang-Shi-Born: This is the obvious choice for a dhampir Wizard or Witch, giving you a bonus to Intelligence and trading the penalty to Con for a penalty to Wisdom, which you probably won’t care about if you’re an arcane caster anyway. An Alchemist would do very well, also, thanks to the boost to both Int and Dex. You do lose the +2 to Perception, which hurts, but erase as a spell-like ability is fun. Sonic damage comes up very seldom, so this is definitely an upgrade from the light sensitivity that standard dhampir suffer. All-in-all, this is a good option for anyone who doesn’t care about Wisdom very much.
Moroi-Born: With a bonus to Strength and Charisma, I like this heritage for a melee Sorcerer build, but the penalty to Constitution means you won’t make a very good Paladin or Cavalier. Again the loss of +2 to Perception is very painful, and the weakness that replaces light sensitivity is not much better, since a good Cleric can take you out much more easily if you fail saves against her channel energy. This one just isn’t as exciting as some of the other variant heritages.
Vetala-Born: This variant heritage just screams “MONK” to me, with a bonus to both Dexterity and Wisdom and a penalty to Int. You won’t want to be a caster, anyway, since you will take a -1 to your effective caster level in hallowed areas. The comprehend languages spell might come in handy but is strictly worse than detect undead. Overall, this is a decent choice for most, but a great choice for a monk.
Nosferatu-Born: Another heritage with a boost to Strength but a penalty to Con, this just isn’t optimal for much of anything, and the replacement for light sensitivity is truly dreadful. Stick with one of the other heritages, and leave this one to NPCs.
Dayborn [Spell-like ability]: You give up your spell-like ability in exchange for no longer being light sensitive... SIGN ME UP! This is an EXCELLENT option, especially for a class that already has detect undead available to them.
Fangs [Spell-like ability]: This is a strange one, as it doesn’t actually give you a true bite attack. Instead, you get an attack that you can use when grappling a foe or on a helpless or otherwise incapacitated target. If this granted a true bite attack I’d be all for it, but it’s just too situational. Note, however, that if you’re planning to take the blood drinking racial feats available to you, it’s probably worth picking up anyway.
Vampiric Empathy [Manipulative]: A limited speak with animals spell isn’t worth giving up your +2 bonus to Perception. Leave this one alone unless you plan to charm a lot of animals.
Alchemist: A Jiang-Shi-Born dhampir will make a seriously great Alchemist, thanks to a bonus to Intelligence for extracts and bomb damage and to Dex for making those bombs hit. The favored class option is unique and pretty nice, as it gives you +10 minute per level duration on your mutagen. This doesn’t matter much at higher levels once the mutagen can last hours per level anyway, but it can come in very handy in low levels.
Barbarian: There’s just no good option for making a dhampir Barbarian, and they don’t really make thematic sense to me either, as I imagine a half-vampire as being calm and collected, not raging all over the place.
Bard: The standard dhampir makes an excellent bard thanks to Charisma and Intelligence bonuses, but that’s all they’ve got going for them, no other exciting racial options here.
Cavalier [Samurai]: The penalty to Constitution really hurts your chances of being a Cavalier as a dhampir. The alternate heritages don’t really help either.
Cleric: A cleric seems like a slightly odd choice for a dhampir, as you’d think most good gods would forsake such a creature, but a Vetala-Born dhampir can make an excellent Cleric. Just make sure you pick a neutral or evil god so that you can channel negative energy to heal yourself. The Undead Lord archetype obviously is a great choice for a dhampir Cleric, and the racial favored class bonus will give you a better chance of affecting undead with your channeling feats.
Druid: While the idea of a dhampir druid doesn’t make a lot of sense (wouldn’t nature turn up her nose at these guys?) the Vetala-Born dhampir can still make a very good druid. The Mooncaller archetype is extremely thematic and actually builds on a lot of the dhampir’s natural abilities, so I’d take a look at that one for sure. The Urban Druid is another one that makes sense for a dhampir.
Fighter: The standard dhampir can make a pretty good ranged Fighter thanks to the bonus to Dexterity, but thematically if you’re going to be an archer as a dhampir, I much prefer the Ranger.
Gunslinger: The standard dhampir was basically born to be a Mysterious Stranger, thanks to bonuses to Dex and Charisma. There aren’t any other specific racial options that work for Gunslingers, but it’s still a great choice.
Inquisitor: A Vetala-Born dhampir is a great choice for an Inquisitor, and the obvious choice for a vampire hunter Inquisitor is the True Death Inquisition, allowing you to send vampires and other undead right back tot he grave. You also gain access to the Kinslayer racial archetype, which gives you plenty of options to turn a vampire into a steaming pile of good. There’s also the Vampire Hunter archetype, which sadly does not stack with Kinslayer, but has abilities that are almost as good.
Magus: A Jiang-Shi-Born dhampir will make an excellent Dex-based Magus, but the penalty to Constitution does make one consider closely the idea of getting into melee, and because of that the Myrmidarch is the obvious choice of archetypes.
Monk: As I mentioned earlier, the Vetala-Born dhampir just screams “MONK” to me, and you could take the vampire heritage and run with it by building a grappling-focused monk that bites people and drains their Constitution. The Hungry Ghost Monk archetype would also fit that theme quite nicely. If you’d rather stay out of melee, go with the Zen Archer monk and watch your enemies fall under your flurry of arrows.
Oracle: The standard dhampir makes an excellent Oracle, and the Bones, Dark Tapestry and Juju mysteries all fit very thematically. I like the Juju mystery since it’s the only way in the game to create neutral-aligned undead to do your bidding!
Paladin [Antipaladin]: There are no good options for being a dhampir Paladin, as the two heritages that give you a Strength boost also cause a Con penalty. If you did decide to go with a Paladin, the Divine Hunter or Holy Gun archetypes will at least keep you out of melee. The Antipaladin is a better choice since you can heal yourself with your touch of corruption and/or channeling.
Ranger: If you want to be a dhampir who kicks some serious ass on his vampire forebears, but doesn’t believe in the whole divine magic thing as much as an Inquisitor might, this is the class to choose. With the Constitution penalty you’ll probably want to go with Archery as a combat style, and your favored enemy will obviously be undead. I would also suggest taking the Infiltrator archetype, replacing favored terrain with abilities that will aid you on your hunt for undead creatures, since vampires can really be in any terrain. With a low Wisdom score, the Skirmisher archetype is also attractive, trading away those few spells for some interesting Hunter’s Tricks (I like Chameleon Step, Hateful Attack, and Surprise Shift) that will also make you excellent at hunting down those vampires. The Urban Ranger is also a decent option if your vampire targets are more likely to be in a town or city than out in the wilderness.
Rogue [Ninja]: A dhampir who sticks to the shadows and sneaks around is both thematically appropriate and mechanically powerful. The standard dhampir makes for a seriously excellent Ninja, while the perfect Rogue would be one of the Jiang-Shi-Born heritage. In both cases, your dhampir’s darkvision will come in handy. The racial favored class for a dhampir Rogue is also top-notch, giving you a +1/2 levels bonus on Stealth and Perception check in dim light or darkness, and if you’re a standard dhampir that still stacks with your +2 racial bonus to Perception! Overall, Ninja or Rogue are excellent class choices for a child of the night.
Sorcerer: A dhampir’s bonus to Charisma makes them excellent candidates for Sorcerers, and there’s even a bloodline made specifically for them, the Undead bloodline. In fact, the Wildblooded version, Sanguine, is even more appropriate (and more powerful), as it lets you gain hit points from drinking the blood of the recently deceased. Combine this with some of the dhampir racial feats such as Blood Drinker and Blood Salvage and you’ll be gaining hit points and temporary Con bonuses all over the place! I also like the Razmiran Priest archetype for a dhampir, since I can imagine a dhampir “Cleric” moving from town to town at night and selling “curatives” while also scouting for weak-minded people who may join her cult and provide her some blood now and again.
Summoner: Like the Sorcerer, Summoner is a good choice for a dhampir thanks to the Charisma bonus. To make that negative Constitution score even less of an issue, you may want to consider the Synthesist archetype, which replaces your own physical scores with that of your eidolon “suit”. You can also play on the undead aspect of your character with some eidolon evolutions like Unnatural Aura, Undead Appearance, or Incorporeal Form.
Witch: A Jiang-Shi-Born dhampir can make a very good Witch, and I find the idea of a half-undead creature using hexes to be thematically appropriate, since most of them can be done with a simple glance of the dhampir’s unearthly eyes. The death, moon, or shadow patrons are all appropriate, and you’ll want to consider the Gravewalker archetype for it’s creepy Spell Poppet replacement for the standard Witch’s Familiar and its undead-controlling abilities.
Wizard: Like the Witch, a Jiang-Shi-Born dhampir can make an excellent Wizard. Dhampir Wizards also gain access to a racial archetype, the Cruoromancer, who is like an emo necromancer, using his own half-undead blood to fuel his necromancy spells. I also like the Shadowcaster archetype for a dhampir, since it plays on their dark and ominous nature. There are also a few thematic Arcane Discoveries available, including Multimorph and Immortality. The favored class option for dhampir is also pretty amazing, adding +1/4 levels to your caster level for necromancy spells!
Alchemist: Increasing the duration of your mutagen can be really helpful at lower levels, since it could let you continue the use of the mutagen through multiple encounters. I like it.
Cleric: +1 caster level for channeling feats affecting undead is a little situational, but for either a necromancer or an undead destroyer-style Cleric this will be very helpful.
Fighter: Your Fort saves are already pretty good as a Fighter... I just don’t see a +2 to stabilize rolls being worth as much as +1 hit point.
Inquisitor: If you plan to demoralize some humanoid foes, this is great, but if you’re a vampire hunter then you won’t need to use this often, since you’ll instead want to be demoralizing undead.
Rogue: This is an AMAZING favored class option! Bonuses to the best skill in the game and another skill that Rogues use all the time are just incredible. This one’s worth taking every level!
Sorcerer: Sorcerers don’t actually have a ton of spells on their list that deal negative energy damage, so this one may not be as useful as it looks at first. I’d take the hit point instead.
Wizard: For a necromancer Wizard, a +1/4 levels to caster level for necromancy spells is a seriously good choice. Take it!
Cruoromancer (Wizard): This is an excellent archetype for an aspiring dhampir necromancer, allowing him to use his own half-undead blood to fuel his spellcasting in interesting ways. You start off with the ability to add +1 to your caster level when casting a necromancy spell, or to sicken the targets of your spells. However, as your character levels you gain new abilities, like increasing the number of undead you can create using animate dead, or creating an area of desecration around yourself when casting another spell. You’ll obviously want to choose the Necromancy school and probably the Undead focused school to get the most out of your undead thralls. You may even want to consider the Thassilonian Gluttony focus, giving you a few extra necromancy spells each day at the cost never casting any abjuration or enchantment spells.
Kinslayer (Inquisitor): The Kinslayer is all about hunting down and destroying undead creatures, and so if you want to make a Blade-style dhampir this is your best choice. You gain the Slayer’s Brand judgment which lets you touch an undead creature and mark it with your personal symbol, letting you locate that creature at all times. You then gain ways to modify this judgment as you level, allowing you to do things such as use your brand as a ray, or deal additional damage when you brand an undead creature. You also gain detect undead at will as a spell-like ability, so make sure to take the Dayborn alternate racial trait so that you don’t have to deal with that pesky light sensitivity. The True Death Inquisition is an obvious choice for a dhampir Inquisitor, so I highly recommend that one.
Red Mantis Assassin: The Red Mantis Assassin is similar to the 3.5e version of the Assassin prestige class, gaining spell-like abilities that she uses to assassinate her targets, while also gaining abilities adding to her stealth and subturfuge. I especially like the Prayer Attack ability for a dhampir, as it involves fascinating your enemy and that seems very thematic to me. You also gain the ability to know if one of the creatures you killed is restored to life, which is an excellent ability, and the ethereal form ability at 8th level is also very vampire-esque.
Agent of the Grave: This prestige class is a pretty obvious one for a necromancer-style character, and there are several different ways to get there. Probably the best choice is the Cruoromancer Wizard, though you have to wait til 9th level to enter (requires 4th level spells) whereas if you take the Oracle of Bones approach you can get there starting at 7th level. The Gravewalker Witch is just as quick, also allowing you to start taking Agent of the Grave at 7th level. The Inspired Necromancy and Undead Manipulator will let you take control and influence hordes of undead creatures, and the Undead Initiate ability is great for a dhampir who wants to be turned into a full-fledged vampire.
Blood Drinker: This feat allows your dhampir character to embrace their undead heritage and start drinking blood from sentient creatures. You get to choose a single type of humanoid, and when you drink their blood you gain temporary hit points and a bonus to Con-based skill checks and saving throws. This would be a great way to run a character who has to constantly deny his thirst for blood, but every once in a while, in secret, gives in to it. Remember, though, that drinking blood from an unwilling creature is considered an evil act.
Blood Feaster: This is a nice upgrade for Blood Drinker that allows you to gain a bonus to damage rolls and Strength-based skill checks when you drink blood from a victim. This one is great for a front-liner who can take a moment to suck some blood from a dying creature in order to deal more damage to his other foes in battle.
Blood Salvage: This feat lets you use Blood Drinker on an already-dead creature, which means you can use it without turning all evil and such.
Diverse Palate: You can drink the blood of another type of humanoid, or monstrous humanoids! This one probably isn’t worth it to most characters, unless you know for a fact that you’ll be battling several different types of creatures often, as opposed to just picking “humanoid (human)” which would be sufficient in most games.
Life-Dominant Soul: This feat makes you feel more alive, literally. It essentially lets you gain the effects of healing from either positive OR negative energy, although both are at half power. I don’t like this one because you should be able to manage negative energy to heal yourself if you’re planning to play a dhampir. Potions of inflict spells really aren’t that expensive!
Natural Charmer: You can take twenty on many Charisma-based checks. Wait... seriously? This is awesome! You know that beautiful barmaid over there? Take a few minutes to chat her up and she will literally follow you anywhere and do anything to please you! This one is probably overpowered for a feat with no prerequisites (other than a high Charisma score) but I’m not gonna complain!
Drow have a long and tangled history in role-playing games, but in the world of Paizo’s Golarion campaign setting, they are inescapably evil and enslave or conquer anyone they come across. They’re nimble and cunning like their lighter elven counterparts, and therefore a lot of what works for elves works well for drow, but they have a few fun race-specific options I definitely want to highlight as well.
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, -2 Constitution. These racial ability bonuses make drow ideal for sneaky Ninjas, Sorcerers, and Bards. They also make great summoning-focused characters thanks to the Blasphemous Covenant ability, giving demons that they summon a bunch of extra hit points.
Type: Drow are humanoids with the elf subtype, which means they qualify for any feats, spells, and archetypes that elves do.
Size: Drow are the same size as humans.
Speed: Drow move the same speed as humans.
Weapon Familiarity: Drow gain proficiency with three useful weapons, the hand crossbow, rapier, and shortsword.
Drow Immunities: Drow have the same immunities as their pale cousins, and they can come in very handy in the right situation.
Spell Resistance: Drow have spell resistance equal to 6 + their class level, and this can be both a blessing and a curse. It means that enemy spellcasters are going to have trouble hitting you with painful spells, but it also means that even cure spells are effected.
Keen Senses: A boost to Perception is ALWAYS great!
Spell-like abilities: dancing lights, darkness, and faerie fire can be useful spells, especially darkness. There is a great replacement for this, though, in the Darklands Stalker option.
Poison Use: This is a great ability, normally only available through a class feature. It also means that every drow is able to use drow sleep poison on their weapons without fear.
Superior Darkvision: Drow get longer darkvision than any other humanoid race, out to 120 feet. Awesome!
Light Blindness: This is a painful penalty because of the 1 round of blindness more than the dazzled condition. If you don’t want to deal with these penalties, you can take the Surface Infiltrator option instead, giving up both darkvision and light blindness.
Ambitious Schemer [Keen Senses]: There are many ways to get extra skills added to your class skill list, and of them, I wouldn’t recommend this one, since you are giving up a bonus to Perception, arguably the best skill in the game.
Ancestral Grudge [Poison Use]: A +1 to attack against dwarves and elves can be very useful, so if you’re not planning to use poisons, take this option.
Blasphemous Covenant [Keen Senses, Poison Use]: This is a great choice for any caster class, as it gives your drow a +2 bonus on Diplomacy when used against demons, and gives summoned creatures of the demon subtype two more hit points per hit dice.
Darklands Stalker [Spell-like abilities]: This is a good option for a mobility-based character like a Rogue or Fighter, as the spell-like abilities won’t be quite as useful for that kind of character.
Seducer [Drow Immunities]: For a caster, this is an excellent option, boosting the DCs of your enchantment spells and allowing you to cast charm person once per day. If you’re not a caster, obviously leave this one alone.
Surface Infiltrator [Darkvision, Light Blindness]: If you don’t want to deal with the light blindness (such as if your drow will be going out of the underground, well, ever) you’re going to want this option. You do gain low-light vision in exchange, which isn’t great but is better than nothing.
Alchemist: A drow can make a pretty great alchemist, especially thanks to the Poison Use racial trait, which lets you pick up an archetype that replaces Poison Use, but still make use of that drow sleep poison we talked about earlier.
Barbarian: With a Con penalty and no Strength bonus, Barbarian is a pretty bad choice for a Drow.
Bard: A drow can make for a pretty good Bard, thanks to the boosts to both Dexterity and Charisma. The extra spell-like abilities can come in handy, too.
Cavalier [Samurai]: Drow really aren’t made to be Cavaliers, since they have a penalty to Constitution and no bonus to Strength. Plus I can’t imagine a drow riding a horse across the battlefield. At all.
Cleric: Drow make pretty good Clerics despite the lack of a Wisdom boost. The favored class bonus is nice if you picked a domain with a decent 1st-level power, and the bonus to enchantment spells can be very useful for an evil charmer. There’s also a nice racial archetype, the Demonic Apostle, that gives you a demonic familiar and lets you channel energy to hurt good or lawful creatures or bolster chaotic or evil ones.
Druid: I have trouble imagining a drow Druid, though the Cave Druid archetype makes a lot of sense and the idea of wild shaping into an ooze does seem very drow-ish.
Fighter: A drow is set up perfectly to be a ranged Fighter, especially thanks to the Cavern Sniper racial archetype. This archetype will let you imbue your drow spell-like abilities onto your arrows and give you bonuses to Stealth when loading a bow or crossbow. Also don’t forget that you can add poisons to your arrows, thanks to the Poison Use racial trait.
Gunslinger: A drow can be an excellent Gunslinger, especially if you take the Mysterious Stranger archetype.
Inquisitor: A drow Inquisitor makes thematic sense, though the ability score bonuses don’t really help much. There are several Inquisitions that fit for a drow Inquisitor, such as Anger, Torture, and Vengeance.
Magus: The Magus is a decent choice for a drow, especially if you go Dex-based. There’s nothing that especially makes it a good choice, though, so I would suggest going straight caster instead.
Monk: Drow aren’t really made to be monks. With no bonus to Wisdom, and a penalty to Constitution, there just isn’t much reason to go Monk.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: If you can somehow convince your GM to allow a Lawful Good drow, she still wouldn’t make that excellent of a Paladin thanks to the Constitution penalty. Antipaladin is a bit of a better choice thanks to the pretty sweet favored class option, giving you an extra cruelty every three levels.
Ranger: A drow can be a pretty good ranged-focused Ranger, and the Deep Walker archetype is thematic and helpful when underground. The lack of a Wisdom boost is a little painful, though.
Rogue [Ninja]: Drow make excellent Rogues, but even better Ninjas thanks to their Charisma bonus. The darkness spell-like ability can be useful for a sneaky character too.
Sorcerer: A drow makes a nice Sorcerer, thanks to the Charisma bonus. Make sure to pick up the Seducer racial trait, and make use of the excellent favored class option, giving you extra spells known.
Summoner: Summoner is an even better choice for a drow than Sorcerer, thanks to the Blasphemous Covenant racial trait and the Spider Summoner feat.
Witch: Drow can make decent Witches, though a boost to Intelligence would be helpful for hex and spell DCs.
Wizard: Like the Witch, a drow Wizard would really be much better with a boost to Intelligence. There is at least a favored class option for a drow Wizard, giving you extra uses of an arcane school power.
Alchemist: An extra 10 minutes per level of mutagen can come in extremely handy, so I like this one.
Antipaladin: Extra cruelties are a great option for an Antipaladin, so this is a decent choice.
Cleric:This is an excellent option if you have a good first-level domain power, but if not you’re better off grabbing a hit point each level instead.
Fighter: A bonus to a single combat maneuver isn’t worth your favored class bonus unless you’re going to focus completely on it, so I’d go with a hit point instead of this one.
Rogue: If you want to focus on feint checks, this is a decent way to do it, but honestly you’re probably better off picking up a skill point each level instead.
Sorcerer: A bonus spell known is always useful for a Sorcerer, so this one’s likely a keeper.
Wizard: This is a decent option as long as you have a good first-level arcane school power, but you may find a skill point is a better option at most levels.
Cavern Sniper (Fighter): This is an excellent choice for a ranged Fighter. It gives your drow Fighter bonuses to ranged attacks and lets you imbue your arrows with your drow spell-like abilities. I like this one a lot.
Demon Apostle (Cleric): This archetype is interesting and thematic, giving you bonuses to summoned demons and letting you deal damage to good and lawful creatures with your channel energy ability. It’s not the best Cleric archetype out there, but it’s fun.
Drow Nobility: This adds a few extra spell-like abilities to your drow character’s repertoire. Feather fall and levitate once per day can come in handy, but it’s probably not worth a feat.
Greater Drow Nobility: You can use some of your spell-like abilities more often. If Drow Nobility isn’t worth a feat, this one definitely isn’t worth three.
Improved Drow Nobility: Just like the two above this, getting extra uses of your drow spell-like abilities isn’t really worth a whole feat chain.
Noble Spell Resistance: This would definitely be worth a feat if you didn’t have to go through the whole Drow Nobility feat chain first. Sadly, you do have to go through the whole chain, so this isn’t worth it.
Shadow Caster: Getting a boost to caster level is great, though this is only for shadow or darkness spells. Some of the best options include the shadow evocation line of spells, shadow weapon, and shadow barbs.
Spider Step: Gaining spider climb as a spell-like ability once per day is cool, and for a Fighter or other martial character might be worth a feat, but definitely don’t pick this one up if you’re a caster.
Spider Summoner: This is an excellent feat for any caster, but especially a Summoner. This gives you several new options for summoning, and the spiders’ web and poison DCs are given a boost, which is a great extra.
Umbral Scion: This is another extra spell-like ability, and it still isn’t worth taking FOUR feats to get. Leave this one alone.
Improved Umbral Scion: Even worse than Umbral Scion, this still isn’t worth the feat tree to get to.
Fetchlings are a race descended from humans who had been trapped on the shadow plane, and therefore they have some unique darkness- and shadow-focused abilities. At first, fetchlings seem very similar to wayangs in this way, but the abilities of both races are actually quite distinct.
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, -2 Wisdom. These bonuses and penalties make fetchlings excellent as Ninjas and spontaneous casters, but they aren’t really made for prepared divine casters.
Type: Fetchlings are outsiders with the native subtype, which means that, just like aasimar and tieflings, they can’t be affected by spells specifically affecting humanoids, like enlarge person. This can be a huge detriment to buffing, but they also aren’t affected by things like charm person, so it can also be a boon.
Size: Fetchlings are the same size as humans.
Speed: Fetchlings move the same speed as humans.
Shadow Blending: This is a peculiar ability that will definitely come in handy for any character. In dim light, instead of the normal 20% miss chance, your enemies will have a 50% chance of missing you. This does not, however, equate to full concealment, so you still can’t do things like deal sneak attack damage just because you’re in dim light. Overall, though, this is a great ability, especially for a sneaky Rogue or Ninja.
Shadowy Resistance: Resistance 5 to both cold and electricity is a very nice bonus, so this is pretty sweet.
Skilled: You have a +2 racial bonus on Knowledge (planes) and Stealth, so obviously for a Ninja this is great. However, the Knowledge (planes) bonus can be replaced by a +1 to both Knowledge (nature) and Knowledge (local) if you choose the World Walker alternate trait, so I personally think that’s more useful, especially in PFS play, so I’ll leave this one green.
Spell-Like Abilities: Disguise self once per day is pretty cool, but the really awesome parts of this ability come at later levels. Starting at 9th level, you also get shadow walk once per day, and at 13th level you get plane shift once per day! Those are some seriously high-level spell-like abilities, and are a great option for any character. Pay attention, though, to the Gloom Shimmer alternate racial trait, which trades shadow walk at 9th level for displacement, which will be more useful for melee fighters of any type, in my opinion.
Darkvision: Darkvision is excellent, and you get low-light vision on top of it! Sweet!
Low-light Vision: In the case of the fetchling, you have both darkvision AND low-light vision, so they’re going to come in handy in different situations.
Emissary [Shadow Blending]: I suppose for a party face-type character this would be very useful, but honestly it just doesn’t compare to getting additional concealment in dim light. Keep Shadow Blending unless your only purpose in the party is to convince enemies NOT to attack you in the first place.
Gloom Shimmer [Alters Spell-Like Abilities]: This is an excellent option for any character who will be getting attacked fairly often, since it allows you to cast displacement once per day starting at 9th level. Now, if you’re in dim light, you’ve already got a 50% miss chance, but this is for when you’re in bright light that you just can’t get away from, or when you REALLY need to deal sneak damage on every attack for a few rounds. I like this option for front-line melee and Rogue-style characters more than others.
Shadow Magic [Skilled]: For spellcasters, this is a really good option, since you’re probably not going to be using Stealth in combat that often anyway, and there aren’t a ton of ways to boost your actual caster level for any given character. Obviously non-spellcasters gain nothing from this ability, and it’s red for them.
Subtle Manipulator [Alters Spell-Like Abilities]: If I was going to play a party face character, I would have a lot of trouble deciding between this and the standard spell-like abilities, because while alter self can let you infiltrate an entire room full of opponents, memory lapse can save you after rolling a natural 1 on a crucial Diplomacy or Bluff check. I suppose alter self is probably the better option overall. Notice that you can take both Gloom Shimmer and Subtle Manipulator if you want to, as they alter different spell-like abilities.
World Walker [Alters Skilled]: I think this is probably a slightly better option than the regular Skilled trait, since you’re getting bonuses to two Knowledge checks instead of one (diversity can be very good) and you still keep your Stealth bonus. The standard Skilled trait is still great, though, so there’s no clear “YOU MUST TAKE THIS ONE” here.
Alchemist: A fetchling can make for a decent bomb-focused Alchemist thanks to the Dexterity bonus, but without an Int bonus they’re never going to be perfect. You could also make good use of the Vivisectionist archetype with a fetchling, thanks to their sneaky nature, but if you were going to do that, I’d go Ninja instead in the first place.
Barbarian: With no boosts to either Strength or Constitution, and given a Barbarian’s generally non-stealthy approach to combat, fetchlings weren’t really meant to make good Barbarians. The exception to this would be the Urban Barbarian, who can use Controlled Rage to gain bonuses while still being able to use Stealth. Even in that case, though, a fetchling will never be an optimal Barbarian, so I’d look elsewhere.
Bard: This is a good class choice for a fetchling, thanks to the Dex and Charisma bonuses. I like the Magician archetype for a fetchling Bard thanks to the more arcane focus, and you’ll obviously want to toss out a lot of illusion (shadow) spells to make use of the boosted caster level.
Cavalier [Samurai]: Neither Cavalier nor Samurai make sense for a fetchling, as riding a mount is counterintuitive to their stealthy nature. You might do alright with the mount-less Sword Saint archetype, as it makes use of an enemy’s unawareness of your intentions to deal some extra damage in the first round of combat, but overall this is just not a great choice.
Cleric: A penalty to Wisdom means you’ll never be an optimal Cleric. If you do choose to make a fetchling Cleric anyway, the Darkness (Night) subdomain is an obvious choice, as it synergizes with your Shadow Blending ability, making you invisible to creatures without darkvision when you’re in an area of dim light or darkness. My suggestion, however, is to go Oracle instead.
Druid: Just like the Cleric, a Druid relies too much on Wisdom for spellcasting, and that Wisdom penalty really hurts. If you go down this road, the Darkness (Night) subdomain is an obvious choice, or you could take an animal companion like the giant chameleon who will get its own bonuses to Stealth while you hide in the shadows, tossing out spells.
Fighter: A ranged Fighter build will work just fine for a fetchling, especially with the miss chance in dim light. I’d highly suggest tossing a few ranks into Use Magic Device and getting a wand of darkness to make use of that miss chance as often as possible. You may also find the Dark Sight feat to be a good investment, allowing you to stand fifteen feet within magical darkness and still see outside that darkness clearly. You’ll have to take Gloom Sight first, though, which includes light sensitivity, so that is less exciting.
Gunslinger: Everything I just said for a ranged Fighter build applies to a Gunslinger, so this is also a great option.
Inquisitor: While a penalty to Wisdom doesn’t hurt an Inquisitor as much as it does a Cleric or Druid, you’re still not going to be optimal here. Obviously the Infiltrator archetype is both thematic and powerful in combination with the fetchling’s spell-like abilities. Overall, this is a mediocre option at best.
Magus: A Dex-based Magus build is a great option for a fetchling, and combining the Myrmidarch archetype with Dark Sight is just broken. You still will probably find a more powerful build using Oracle or Sorcerer, however.
Monk: There are no Charisma-based Monk archetypes (unless you count Ninja) and so this will always be a sub-optimal choice for a fetchling beause you’re going to start with fewer ki points. You can offset this significantly, however, by taking the Hungry Ghost Monk archetype, which will allow you to regain ki points when you confirm a critical hit or knock out a creature. You could also pick up a Monk Vow or two, so this isn’t the worst class for a fetchling.
Oracle: Now here is a great class for a Fetchling. You get a +1 to your caster level with shadow spells, and the Dark Tapestry mystery fits in perfectly with your shadowy theme. The favored class option for a fetchling Oracle is incredible, allowing you to be treated as a higher level for the purposes of which of your racial spell-like abilities you can cast. This means that you will be able to cast shadow walk (or displacement) at 7th level instead of 9th!
Paladin [Antipaladin]: A lack of a Strength or Con bonus means you’re not going to be a great front-line Paladin, but a ranged Paladin build such as the Holy Gun is definitely an option. Paladins aren’t the most sneaky class out there, but an Antipaladin could actually work out really well, especially with the fiendish servant being used as a sneaky little scout.
Ranger: Rangers aren’t affected too much by a Wisdom penalty, and obviously the Dexterity bonus lends to a ranged build. You also have the option of taking a racial archetype, the Dusk Stalker, which gives a huge boost to favored terrain when on the Shadow Plane and replaces hunter’s bond with several shadow-focused abilities. You also get the see in darkness special ability at 12th level, which is excellent. By now I’m sure you’ve figured out that i’m a huge fan of the Skirmisher archetype as a great spell-less Ranger variant, so I also recommend that for a fetchling Ranger to further reduce your reliance on a high Wisdom score.
Rogue [Ninja]: Fetchlings were practially made to be Rogues and Ninjas. All of their racial traits help with sneaking or infiltrating, and the Spy and Burglar archetypes both work perfectly along with that (and a Ninja can even take the Burglar archetype too!). The favored class option is also excellent, boosting your Stealth and Sleight of Hand checks when in dim light or darkness. You may want to consider the Gloom Strike feat, if you’re willing to spend a feat on Blind-Fight as a prerequisite.
Sorcerer: This is a really great option for a fetchling. Obviously you’ll want to pick up feats that help with your illusion spells, and the Umbral bloodline is definitely the best choice, though the regular Shadow bloodline would be fine, too. The favored class option is nice, letting you increase your innate energy resistances. Overall, this is an excellent choice.
Summoner: Of all the classes you could choose, I think this one is the best, thanks to the racial archetype available to fetchling Summoners, the Shadow Caller. This archetype gives you a lot of really interesting options for your summon monster spells, some of which are quite powerful (Young Umbral dragon!). You also get to add the shadow creature template to creatures instead of celestial or fiendish, which is really powerful. I also absolutely love the roleplay value of having your eidolon literally coalesce from your own shadow. You’ll absolutely want to give your eidolon Shadow Blend and Shadow Form, which will give it concealment at all times! The favored class option is good, letting you get some energy resistance on your eidolon without spending mutation points on it.
Witch and Wizard: Both Witch and Wizard are fine options for a fetchling, though definitely not optimal. There’s nothing that says you can’t go for it, though!
Oracle: This is a seriously excellent favored class option, letting you cast your higher-level spell-like abilities earlier. You won’t want to choose this anymore after level 9, though, because after that it wears out its usefulness.
Ranger: If you’re planning to hang out in the Plane of Shadow, such as if you went with the Dusk Stalker archetype, then you’ll definitely want this favored class option... otherwise it’s useless.
Rogue: This is a must-have for either a Rogue or Ninja, as you’ll be making a lot of Stealth checks in areas of dim light.
Sorcerer: Increasing your energy resistance is useful, though I probably wouldn’t spend all 20 levels on a single type of resistance.
Summoner: Anything that lets you save evolution points for other, stronger abilities is great in my book. Take this, and match your shadow eidolon’s resistances to your own!
Wizard: This is a super trap, as you can just buy scrolls and add them to your spellbook, and it’s even more restrictive than other racial options that allow you to add spells to your book. Stay away!
Dusk Stalker (Ranger): This is a flavorful archetype, though it will only really be useful in certain types of campaigns (such as those where you travel between planes a lot!) I do like the Shadow Bond ability a lot, and the Dark Sight class ability is more powerful than the Dark Sight line of feats, though you have to wait a while to get it. Definitely take the favored class option of +1/2 to Perception and Survival on the Plane of Shadow at every level if you take this archetype.
Shadow Caller (Summoner): I love this archetype, because it’s so full of flavor that it hurts, and it’s also very powerful! The new options on the summon monster lists include a lot of great options, though you’re also more restricted in which creatures you can summon. Adding the shadow creature template instead of celestial or fiendish to your animal-type summons is an excellent change, and I also love the two evolutions that were written with the fetchling in mind, Shadow Blend and Shadow Form. You’ll probably want to focus on Stealth and sneaking with your eidolon. I really wish you could combine this archetype with the Master Summoner, but alas they both change the eidolon class feature.
Dark Sight: This is an excellent feat, letting you see through magical darkness up to fifteen feet, but it does have a downside: you have to take the Gloom Sight feat first, which includes the light sensitivity weakness. For a ranged build, it’s likely worth it to take both of these feats, and just make sure that you keep a darkness spell up to save yourself from bright lights as much as possible.
Improved Dark Sight: This is a huge upgrade to Dark Sight, except that you now have the light blindness weakness, and that’s a really big penalty. You can always help that by wearing Lenses of Darkness, though this is an expensive solution. I would definitely not take this feat until you can afford the lenses, personally.
Gloom Sight: Increasing your darkvision to 90 feet really isn’t worth it when you also have to gain light sensitivity, but this feat is made much better by the feats that require it, Dark Sight and Improved Dark SIght. By itself, this is a bad choice, but it’s worth the investment to get to Dark Sight, in my opinion.
Gloom Strike: Blind-Fight can be a very useful feat for martial characters, and you’ll probably always want to be in an area of dim light or lower anyway, so you might as well grab this if you’re willing to spend the feat on Blind-Fight first.
Goblins in Paizo’s Golarion world are funny yet absolutely insane little creatures, and in most cases you probably won’t get the chance to play as a goblin. However, there is a boon floating around for a few lucky PFS players that lets them play as one, and of course some GMs will allow strange races for their home games. In addition, there is the Free RPG Day adventure “We Be Goblins”, released I think in 2010, and in June of 2013 there will be a sequel, “We Be Goblins Too”, also given away at Free RPG Day. So, with all that in mind, let’s see how goblins stack up!
Ability Scores: +4 Dexterity, -2 Strength, -2 Charisma. This is a pretty painful set of ability mods to start off with, but it does lend to a great Rogue or ranged build, and bomb-focused Alchemists are also an excellent choice.
Type: Goblins are humanoids with the goblinoid subtype. This sadly means that many NPCs Rangers will probably have bonuses against you, so that could be a bad thing.
Size: Goblins are Small size, so they get a boost to attack, AC, and Stealth. They aren’t slow like other Small creatures, though, so being small is all good for the goblin. Combined with their extra bonus to Stealth, goblins are just as stealthy as Tiny creatures!
Speed: Goblins are fast for their size, and have a 30 foot base speed.
Skilled: Goblins have a +4 racial bonus to both Ride and Stealth, so this makes them great choices for mounted archers or sneaky builds.
Darkvision: Darkvision is always helpful, so no complaints here!
Cave Crawler [Fast Movement]: A climb speed can come in handy, but there are cheap spells that give you this benefit (spider climb, much?) and losing that +10 to your base speed is too much of a penalty to make this worth it.
City Scavenger [Skilled]: You know that I love bonuses to Perception, but trading away a +4 to two skills is almost never worth doing for a +2 in two others. If you’re not planning to ride anything or sneak EVER, you might want to consider this, but it’s straight-up worse than the ability it’s replacing.
Eat Anything [Skilled]: This option is a little more interesting, as you’re trading a +4 bonus to Ride and Stealth (both situational skills) for a +4 to Survival AND a +4 versus any effects that cause the sickened or nauseated conditions (which there are a LOT of in the game). If you’re not planning to ride into battle or sneak around, this is a really good choice.
Hard Head, Big Teeth [Skilled]: If you’re doing a melee build of any type, you might want to consider picking this up. A bite attack that only deals 1d4 damage doesn’t seem like a huge boost, but for a Barbarian or mutagen-focused Alchemist it could come in really handy.
Over-Sized Ears [Skilled]: If you’re not going to be a stealthy creature, this is DEFINITELY worth your time. A +4 to Perception is a huge bonus, especially at lower levels, and it will allow you to be good at noticing things without having a good Wisdom score. There is also a trait called Big Ears which can stack with this bonus for another +2 to Perception. I definitely recommend this one for anyone other than a Rogue or Cavalier.
Tree Runner [Skilled]: Of the options to replace your racial skill bonuses with, this one’s not bad. A +4 to both Acrobatics and Climb will definitely come in handy for a highly-mobile Rogue build (such as one using the Scout archetype), and you’ll still be good at sneaking thanks to the +4 size bonus to Stealth. This is a good option overall, though I’d personally pick up the +4 Perception bonus instead.
Weapon Familiarity [Skilled]: If you’re playing a class that is going into melee, then you’re already going to be proficient with all martial weapons (with the exception perhaps of the melee Alchemist). This one is definitely a trap, causing you to lose two excellent skill bonuses for proficiency in weapons you probably won’t want to use anyway.
Alchemist: Goblins make excellent bomb-focused Alchemists, and even have their own racial archetype, the Fire Bomber, and several goblin-specific feats and discoveries available to them that build on this. I’ll discuss those feats and discoveries when I talk more about the Fire Bomber later on, but these options really make Alchemist a great choice for goblins, and in fact I’m going to say it’s the best choice.
Barbarian: Despite the goblin’s -2 racial penalty to Strength, they can make really decent Barbarians through a combination of being insane and their racial archetype, the Feral Gnasher. This archetype focuses on using a bite attack to deal damage and grapple opponents, as well as using improvised weapons to devastating effect, and you should definitely combine this with the Animal Fury rage power which will essentially give your gobo-barian a free bite attack during a grapple before checking to see if the grapple is even maintained! This is a fun, flavorful option for a goblin, although definitely not an optimal Barbarian build.
Bard: With a Charisma penalty, a goblin is just not going to ever make an optimal Bard. There is a racial feat called Battle Singer, but it only helps other goblins, so unless you’re playing in a goblin-only party, it’s definitely not worth your time.
Cavalier [Samurai]: Thanks to their +4 bonus to Ride and Small size, a Goblin can actually make a pretty decent Cavalier, but an even better Samurai thanks to the Mounted Archer ability and their huge racial bonus to Dexterity.
Cleric: A goblin Cleric probably isn’t one of the first things you would think of, but if you go with a fire-based domain like the goblin-specific Arson subdomain, combining it with the Flame Heart feat that gives you a +1 on caster level for fire-based spells, you can make a pretty powerful battle cleric!
Druid: Like the Cleric, a fire-based druid is a good choice for a goblin, and having an animal companion you can ride around can be super helpful. The Flame Heart feat will also be useful to boost those fire-based Druid spells, so picking a fire-based domain is also a great option.
Fighter: A ranged Fighter build is an excellent option for a goblin, and obviously the Archer archetype will be helpful in that regard.
Gunslinger: With their huge bonus to Dex, goblins can make for seriously awesome Gunslingers, and they even have a racial feat available, aptly named Goblin Gunslinger, which lets them use firearms that are sized for Medium creatures while still getting the bonus to attack rolls from being Small!
Inquisitor: Like the Cleric and Druid, a goblin Inquisitor focusing on Fire spells will be a force to be reckoned with, and using a ranged weapon will make it even better. I would strongly recommend the Black Powder inquisition in concert with the Goblin Gunslinger feat, letting you strike down your foes from far away using a gun that is comically large for your size!
Magus: The melee-focused nature of a Magus normally wouldn’t lend itself to goblin ideals, but a Dexterity-based Magus is a great build for a goblin. There are all kinds of guides out there to optimizing Dex-based Magi, so I’m not going to go into detail, but definitely pick up Flame Heart and use as many fire-based spells as possible to maximize your damage output!
Monk: I have a hard time imagining a goblin Monk... discipline isn’t one of their strong points. However, if you can find a way to roleplay it that your GM will accept, a Dex-based goblin Monk will be a seriously powerful option. You’ll definitely want to look at the Ankle Biter and Tangle Feet feat to trip up your opponents and get extra attacks against them when you move through their squares.
Oracle: A goblin Oracle of Flames will be seriously bad-ass when combined with the Flame Heart feat, so I don’t think I need to say anything else here at all. Even despite having a -2 on your primary casting stat, this is a good choice.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: The Lawful Good nature of Paladins just doesn’t make any sense for a goblin at all, and the Strength and Charisma penalties aren’t helping either. If you really want to go there, the Holy Gun or Divine Hunter archetypes will definitely make it less painful, however. Antipaladin makes considerable more sense thematically, but there aren’t any good ranged options for them, so again, not a great choice.
Ranger: A ranged Ranger build is perfect for a goblin, and picking favored enemies goes along nicely with their insanity, in my opinion. As spellcasting doesn’t seem quite as in-line with a goblin Ranger to me, you might consider the Skirmisher archetype to replace the weak spellcasting of your Ranger with something more useful and thematic.
Rogue [Ninja]: With the HUGE bonus to Stealth (+8 total!) a sneaky Rogue or Ninja is a no-brainer choice for a goblin. The Ankle Biter and Tangle Feet feats fit well with a highly Acrobatic build, and to go along with that you might consider the Scout archetype.
Sorcerer: The penalty to Charisma hurts a Sorcerer, though if you really want to go there you could consider one of the bloodlines that changes your casting stat, either Empyreal or Sage. Each of these options give up the usefulness of a bloodline arcana, though, so overall Sorcerer is just never going to be an optimal choice for a goblin.
Summoner: This is an even worse choice for a goblin than Sorcerer was, since you can’t change your casting stat. Go with a Witch or Oracle instead if you want to be a caster.
Witch: I can imagine a goblin Witch throwing hexes around and just generally being super annoying to her enemies. While there aren’t any SPECIFIC options that make Witch a better choice than Wizard, it seems more thematic, and some of the hexes fit right in with the goblin mindset (such as Child Scent and Cook People!).
Wizard: Goblins in Golarion hate reading almost as much as they hate dogs, so it’s hard to imagine a goblin Wizard. However, there’s nothing mechanically wrong with it, so if you can roleplay it, go for it!
Alchemist: This option is only good if you don’t choose the Flame Heart feat, and you’re going to want that feat, so grab a skill point or hit point instead.
Barbarian: Bonuses to critical hits can be really nice, so if you’re using natural weapons with your Barbarian, definitely take this option at every level until you hit that +4, then get a hit point afterward.
Bard: Goblin bards stink, and extra performance rounds aren’t going to offset that.
Cavalier: Extra hit points for your mount means less chance of it dying, so I like this one. Remember that a Samurai can also choose this alternate option.
Druid: If you chose an animal companion, giving it extra hit points is a no-brainer. If you went with a fire-based Domain instead, however, ignore this.
Gunslinger: Critical hits with firearms are super powerful, so confirming them is very important. Grab this every level until you get to that maximum of +5, then get hit points after that!
Oracle: You’re hopefully not going to be in melee often to need concentration checks, but this still isn’t a bad option for those times when you get pinned down. I like it.
Ranger: Extra damage on dogs and horses? Only in a goblin-only party in a goblin-oriented campaign, thank you very much!
Rogue: More sneak damage? Seriously? How could you not choose this at EVERY level??? This could give you up to +20 on sneak attack damage rolls, which is just insane! Make sure to grab Improved Initiative to maximize your use of this.
Sorcerer: Extra spells known are great for spontaneous casters, so if you inexplicably decided to make a goblin Sorcerer, you’ll want this instead of a skill or hit point.
Summoner: Extra evolution points are nice, but having to spend them specifically on things that add fire damage is too specific, and could cause issues when casting spells like evolution surge or transmogrify. Besides, goblin Summoners are just no good!
Witch: This, like other favored class bonuses giving extra spells in spell books or familiars, is a trap. You can spend gold to get the exact same effect! Pick a skill point instead.
Feral Gnasher (Barbarian): This is a fun, flavorful archetype that focuses on bite attacks and improvised weapons. I wouldn’t say that it’s extremely powerful, but when combined with the Hard Head, Big Teeth racial trait and the Ankle Biter feat, it’s not a bad option.
Fire Bomber (Alchemist): This is the archetype that the goblin race was born for. You get extra splash damage on your fire-based bombs, can split damage from bombs that have secondary effects with fire damage, and can turn into a freaking fire elemental! You’ll want to pick up the Flame Heart feat for sure, and maybe Burn! Burn! Burn! as well, even though it doesn’t apply to your bombs. Make sure to check out the goblin-only Alchemist Discoveries Fire Brand, Rag Doll Mutagen, Rocket Bomb and Scrap Bomb, each of which I talk about after the racial feats section.This archetype is why I rated Alchemist as sky blue, and I’m sure you can understand why!
Ankle Biter: This is a fun feat for any type of movement-focused character, like a Rogue, Ninja or Monk. It also works well with the Feral Gnasher Barbarian or any goblin that picked up the Hard Head, Big Teeth racial trait.
Battle Singer: This feat is pretty much a trap unless you’re in a group of nothing but Goblins, and goblin Bards are a bad option to begin with, so this isn’t a very good feat.
Burn! Burn! Burn!: If you plan to use Alchemist’s Fire often (and at low levels, a goblin Alchemist will probably want to) you might want to pick up this feat to give you a little extra damage. It’s not great, but it’s decent.
Dog Killer, Horse Hunter: While very thematic, this isn’t the most useful feat out there, essentially giving you a static favored enemy bonus but only against dog-like and horse-like creatures. Not terribly useful.
Fire Tamer: If you worry about being targeted with fire spells, as opposed to casting them yourself, this might be a good option for you, but it’s definitely not great.
Flame Heart: Holy CRAP is this amazing for a goblin Alchemist or ANY spellcaster. Fire resistance 5 and increasing your caster level for fire-related spells and bombs? Seriously, this is golden. Grab it.
Goblin Gunslinger: If you’re going to be using guns as a goblin, there is absolutely not reason not to get this feat, as it will increase your damage output. Plus it’s hilarious to think of a goblin wielding a gun that looks way to big for him!
Lead From the Back: I actually like this feat for a caster class, since it gives you something to do when you don’t want to waste a spell on an almost-knocked-out opponent. It essentially lets you give a limited bardic music-style bonus to all your allies, though you need to use a standard action to do it.
Letter Fury: This is a really weird feat, and obviously only for Barbarians, but it could come in handy if you come up against a lot of spellcasters. Instead of having to wait until your own turn to rage, you can gain those hit points in the middle of a spellcaster reading from a scroll. However, just to get extra rounds of rage each day, you’re better off taking Extra Rage.
Roll With It: I don’t see a player characters spending a feat on this, though it can certainly save you from a critical hit that would otherwise kill you. Instead, this feat is something I’m going to give to EVERY goblin I put up against players in games that I GM, because this can make a few goblins a much more formidable threat. Overall, it’s a very useful feat, but most characters aren’t going to have an extra feat slot to use on it.
Tangle Feet: For a highly mobile character, especially a Monk or Rogue, this is a great choice, letting you trip up characters bigger than you when you use Acrobatics to move through their squares.
Fire Brand: This may seem lackluster at first but once you realize its applications it is actually quite nice. Firstly, if you want to hold a charge and dont want to accidentally set it off prematurely you can wear something flammable like a silk glove. When you want to deliver the touch attack, its a swift action to burn the glove off and away you go. Secondly it works great with feral mutagen. Over the corse of 3 turns you steadily increase the damage you do, and who dosen't like the image of a self-immolating goblin charging down a foe with fire coming out of its mouth? It is a lot more feasible with your favored class bonus or the Flame Heart feat granting fire resistance. Sadly, you can’t combine this with the Vivisectionist archetype, as that replaces your bombs.
Rag Doll Mutagen: This grants you 3 bonuses when you use a mutagen. A bonus to escape artist checks, a bonus to squeezing and a bonus to falling. While nice, none of these are actually all that helpful unless you are building for it. I guess counting as a diminutive creature for squeezing is kinda neat.
Rocket Bomb: This is an amazing discovery. This trades direct hits for extra range and AOE. Your range goes up to 50 feet meaning you could hit someone 250 feet away with your bombs! This also increases the blast radius to 20 feet meaning a giant 40 foot explosion. While this is nice with effects like grease bomb or tanglefoot bomb its real benefit comes with the cloud bomb discoveries. A 40 foot stinking cloud or inferno cloud? Yes please! Its biggest drawback comes from not being usable with fast bombs so only 1 a round, but still this is just crazy good for a goblin Alchemist!
Scrap Bomb: This simply adds extra damage in the form of bleed, 1 bleed damage for each d6 of bomb damage. Simple, effective and stacks with everything. A good way to add damage to a frost bomb or such if you have the discovery to spare.
Ifrits are creautres with strong ties to the plane of fire, and because of that, fire spellcasters and classes that can make good use of fire are good choices. There are lots of ways to make use of this fire affinity, and we’ll be exploring those now.
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, -2 Wisdom. These bonuses obviously lend well to ranged builds and spontaneous casters. Prepared divine casters take the Wisdom penalty badly, of course.
Type: Ifrits are ousiders with the native subtype, which means they can’t be affected by spells and effects that target humanoids, such as enlarge person and charm person, so this is a double-edged sword.
Size: Ifrits are the same size as humans.
Speed: Ifrits move at the same speed as humans.
Energy Resistance: Fire resistance 5 will come in handy, especially given that fire is the most common energy damage out there. It also means that if you’re a spellcaster and plan to use fire on others, you can afford to be hit by your own spells once in a while.
Spell-like Ability: Burning hands once a day is a decent option, but I personally think that the Efreeti Magic alternate racial trait will come in more useful.
Fire Affinity: This is an obvious choice for an ifrit Sorcerer, since it gives you an effective +2 to your Charisma for Sorcerer abilities (it’s blue for them). However, this is also useful for divine casters who can choose a Cleric domain, as it boosts your caster level for domain powers of the Fire domain (so it’s green for any class that can choose a domain). For all non-casters, you should be choosing one of the alternate racial traits that replaces this, instead.
Darkvision: I like darkvision, as I’m sure you know by now. It will come in handy for almost any character at some point in their adventuring career.
Desert Mirage (Fire Affinity): This option is fairly weak, because the bonuses it gives are very situational. However, if you’re a non-spellcaster, it’s still better than no bonus at all.
Efreeti Magic (Spell-like Ability): I love this option. It’s definitely better than the standard spell-like ability of burning hands, because it allows you to choose to cast either enlarge person or reduce person once per day, and can even affect other ifrit as if they were humanoids!
Fire in the Blood (Fire Affinity): This is a fun option, since it stacks with an ifrit’s innate fire resistance. Essentially, if your ifrit gets hit by fire damage of 5 or less, there’s a net gain of 2 hit points! This is probably the best option to replace Fire Affinity with for a non-spellcaster.
Fire Insight (Fire Affinity): I really like this ability for a Summoner or Oracle, since they can’t make use of Fire Affinity as-is. Sadly, there are no creatures with the fire subtype on the summon monster I list when it would be the most helpful to have extra rounds of summoning, but as soon as you hit summon monster II you can start summoning Small fire elementals.
Fire-Starter (Fire Affinity): This option is great for an Alchemist, since they can make use of it right from level 1 using flasks of alchemist’s fire. Later on, any spell that has a chance of setting your target on fire will be giving you this mini-bonus.
Forge-Hardened (Spell-like Ability): This option is not worth losing a spell-like ability for, no matter what your plans are. Ignore it.
Hypnotic (Fire Affinity): This is an excellent option for Bards, since an ifrit can force an enemy to reroll on its save against his fascinate bardic performance. For most other casters, I think Fire Insight is a better option.
Wildfire Heart (Energy Resistance): This is the equivalent of the Improved Initiative feat, and stacks with it, which is HUGE. I suggest this option for a Rogue or Ninja, who have a great need to go before enemies at the start of combat. I wouldn’t say it’s strictly better than the fire resistance, though.
Alchemist: A bomb-focused Alchemist is a solid choice for an ifrit, and the Fire-Starter alternate racial trait is a clear winner here. You’ll definitely want to pick up the Explosive Bomb discovery to allow your bombs to set enemies on fire. You also get a great racial favored class option, giving you +1 per 2 levels to your bomb damage!
Barbarian: Without a bonus to Strength or Constiution, an ifrit isn’t going to make an optimal Barbarian. If you do decide to go down this road, though, definitely take the Fire in the Blood alternate racial trait, since it’s very flavorful and will synergize well with your fire resistance.
Bard: Ifrits make seriously excellent Bards thanks to the Dexterity and Charisma bonuses. It’s sad that Fire Affinity doesn’t do anything for a Bard, but the Hypnotic alternate racial trait will come in handy, so I recommend that. The racial favored class option is seriously awesome, since it allows you to use your fascinate bardic performance, which you’re already getting a bonus toward with Hypnotic, on more creatures at once!
Cavalier [Samurai]: I have trouble imagining an ifrit Cavalier, but Samurai works pretty well as a mounted archer thanks to the Dexterity bonus. Overall, though, there are much better options for an ifrit.
Cleric: Divine spellcasters (other than Oracles) take a hit from the Wisdom penalty, but that is at least partially made up by some of the other racial traits. Fire Affinity is a good boost for a Cleric, provided you choose the Fire domain (why wouldn’t you!?) and I’d suggest taking the Ash subdomain because the Wall of Ashes domain power is really excellent, and can be combined with the Firesight feat.
Fighter: There’s nothing saying that you can’t make an excellent ranged Fighter with an ifrit, though there isn’t much other than a Dexterity bonus going for you.
Gunslinger: You can be a great Gunslinger if you pick the Mysterious Stranger archetype to make use of your Charisma bonus. The favored class option is nice, boosting your initiative checks when using the gunslinger initiative deed.
Inquisitor: Unlike the other prepared divine casters, an ifrit can make an excellent Inquisitor because of the racial archetype available, the Immolator. This archetype includes an ability that gives you an additional +1 caster level for Fire domain powers, so you’ll definitley want to keep the Fire Affinity ability to stack with that. I suggest making a ranged build with this archetype and taking the Firesight feat and the Ash subdomain to be able to fire right through your walls of ash! The favored class option is not very useful, so I’d take a skill or hit point instead.
Magus: Nothing is really going for or against you when it comes to being an ifrit Magus, so this is a fine option but definitely not optimal.
Monk: With a Wisdom penalty, Monk isn’t a great option for an ifrit, and there are no racial traits that help with this, so I’d just say look elsewhere.
Oracle: This is a great class option for an ifrit, thanks to the Charisma bonus and the excellent Fire Insight racial trait. But even better, the favored class option lets you treat your class level as higher than it actually is for one revelation. If you choose the Flame mystery (and who wouldn’t, honestly) I recommend using it on the Form of Flames revelation. However, I would like to point you to the Dark Tapestry mystery and its Many Forms revelation, as it will let you turn into some pretty fun creatures way earlier than you’d normally be able to.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: An ifrit can make an excellent ranged Paladin thanks to the Dexterity and Charisma bonuses. Obviously the Divine Hunter and Holy Gun archetypes match that idea well. Technically, the Antipaladin can’t choose either of those archetypes (though I’d recommend talking to your GM about putting together an Antipaladin version of one of them if you really want to go down that route), so I can’t really recommend Antipaladin as an optimal choice.
Ranger: A ranged Ranger build is an excellent choice for an ifrit, and as with the other ranged options I’ve suggested here, the Firesight feat is an amazing option. Sadly, you won’t get access to the Ash subdomain, so you’ll have to rely on smokesticks or other casters in your party to make smokescreens for you. As with all other races that don’t get a Wisdom boost, I’d also suggest considering the Skirmisher archetype, allowing you to replace weak spells with much more interesting tricks.
Rogue [Ninja]: Ifrits were born to be Rogues and Ninjas, as their efreeti heritage makes them excellent silent killers or acrobatic combatants. I definitely recommend the Fire in the Blood racial trait here, since you’re going to be taking half damage from most fire-based attacks thanks to Improved Evasion, and you may as well heal a few points each time that happens. I would also recommend trading out the fire resistance for Wildfire Heart, which is the equivalent of a stacking Improved Initiative feat. Finally, the Scorching Weapons line of feats is an excellent choice to add an extra few points of fire damage to your weapons and eventually have a fiery aura surround you with Blazing Aura. The favored class option isn’t very exciting, and I would stick with a skill point per level if I were you.
Sorcerer: An efreeti Sorcerer is a flaming ball of awesome, thanks to great synergy between her racial abilities and the powers of her bloodline. Obviously you’ll want to have the Elemental (fire) bloodline to get the 2-point Charisma boost from Fire Affinity (though I would suggest talking to your GM about getting the same bonus from the Efreeti bloodline, because it would make even more sense). Because your bloodline will give you resistance to fire, you should definitely trade out your racial resistance for Wildfire Heart, gaining +4 to initiative. Your favored class bonus is one of the best in the game, letting you treat your level as if it were higher for one of your bloodline powers. It’s important to note, though, that you can’t actually choose this favored class option until you can use the power you want to apply it to, so that makes it a little less useful. I suppose the most useful option is the Elemental Resistance power, which will let you have resistance 20 to fire at 7th level instead of 9th. An efreeti Sorcerer also gains access to a racial archetype, the WIshcrafter, but honestly it’s just too strange to be worth it, and its effects are usually going to be completely up to the GM.
Summoner: Summoner is also an excellent option for an ifrit, thanks to the Charisma bonus. The Fire Insight racial ability will be helpful (although TECHNICALLY it doesn’t apply to your summon monster spell-like abilities because they aren’t spells, any reasonable GM should allow it to apply). A Synthesist will find the Blazing Aura feat to be well-spent, and Firesight will probably come in handy as well.
Witch and Wizard: I’m lumping these two together once more because there’s nothing that specifically helps or hinders either one of them, really. Either could benefit from the Fire Insight or Hypnotic racial traits, and the Firesight feat is a great option as well.
Alchemist: Boosting your bomb damage is an excellent favored class option, so this one is a no-brainer to me.
Bard: Given the Hypnotic racial trait, I’m going to score this one pretty well even though it only works on spells and abilities that cause one specific condition. The fascinate bardic performance will be used a LOT by your character because of this.
Cleric: This one just isn’t worth losing a hit point each level for, as Knowledge (planes) doesn’t come up THAT often in most campaigns, and this bonus only works for Outsiders from the plane of fire anyway.
Gunslinger: Any boost to Initiative is an excellent option, so I definitely recommend this one.
Inquisitor: Like the Cleric option, I just can’t see this coming up much. How often do you really think you’ll be trying to Intimidate beings from the plane of fire?
Oracle: This is an amazing favored class option, as Oracle revelations are diverse and in some cases very powerful. There are only a handful of races that get this alternate favored class option, and you should absolutely make use of it!
Rogue: If this was a straight bonus to Acrobatics, I’d be all for it, but Jump checks and Intimidate checks aren’t what you need bonuses to. Take the skill point instead.
Sorcerer: I really wish the bloodline powers for the Elemental (fire) bloodline were more exciting, but it’s always good to be treated as a higher level for an ability, so this is a decent option.
Immolator (Inquisitor): I absolutely love the Immolator because of its synergy with the Fire Affinity racial trait. You get a TWO LEVEL bonus on your effective level for your Fire domain powers, and that’s pretty amazing. Definitely take the Ash subdomain for the Wall of Ashes power, because even though this one doesn’t get better with higher caster level, it will combine amazingly with the Firesight feat, letting you shoot flaming arrows directly through a wall of ash at your flat-footed enemies! You might want to pick up a few levels of Rogue at some point just to get some sneak attack damage to combine with this, as well.
Wishcrafter (Sorcerer): This archetype... as fun and flavorful as it is... just isn’t worth your time. You give up on several Bloodline feats and your Bloodline Arcana to get an awkward +1 boost to your caster level when someone has wished for the effects of a spell. Essentially this means that your party members are just going to be shouting wishes at you all the time to get you a +1 boost to caster level on their buffs, and this just makes for bad roleplaying in my opinion. Later on you get the ability to twist others’ wishes to your own gain, but it’s still way too situational.
Blazing Aura: I love this feat, though it takes some time and investment to get to it. You get to activate, as a free action, an aura that deals 1d6 points of fire damage to anyone adjacent to you, and you can do this essentially every single round of combat, unless you need to use your swift action on something other than Scorching Weapons. This is a great option for a Rogue or Ninja who can use Acrobatics to position herself in the midst of enemies and hit them with damage every round.
Blistering Feint: Feinting is a suboptimal use of your action economy, and getting a +2 to your feint checks when using flaming weapons doesn’t change that. Focus on tripping or any other combat maneuver instead.
Elemental Jaunt: This feat is an option for all four elemental races, and it’s fun if not overly exciting. You get to travel to or from (but not both!) the elemental plane that your race is attuned to once per day. I’d say this is a decent roleplaying option for non-spellcasters, but otherwise not really worth your investment of a feat.
Firesight: For any ranged build, but especially a Rogue or Ninja, this is really incredible. Just put up some type of smokescreen and you can suddenly see enemies that can’t see you, making them flat-footed to every one of your attacks and letting you deal precision damage to them if you have it. In addition, you are completely immune to the dazzled condition! This is an excellent feat, and if you plan to shoot things, you’ll want it.
Inner Flame: This feat requires Scorching Weapons first, but it’s definitely worth the investment for most martial classes, since it gives you a free flaming property to up to two weapons simply by using a swift action every round. The wording is strange for the grappling part of the feat, but I THINK that you still have to have a weapon in your hand to use it, since Scorching Weapons requires a manufactured weapon, so unarmed grapplers aren’t going to get any use out of it. Overall, though, this is a decent option for any martial character (especially ranged Rogues with Firesight!)
Scorching Weapons: A simple 1 point of fire damage to your weapons by spending a swift action every round seems weak, but this feat opens up doors to Inner Flame and Blazing Aura, both of which are excellent feats. The bonus against fire and light-based spells is not amazing but serves to make this feat slightly less painful as a feat tax.
Kobolds are small, reptilian creatures who like to claim ancestry to true dragons (though it may be just that, a claim). With the recent publishing of Kobolds of Golarion, these little critters have gotten a HUGE number of new racial options.
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, -4 Strength, -2 Constitution. These are very painful penalties, but notice that with no bonuses or penalties to any of the mental scores, these bonuses and penalties essentially don’t affect any full spellcasting class.
Type: Kobolds are humanoids with the reptilian subtype.
Size: Kobolds are Small creatures, which gives them a good bonus to Stealth and an extra +1 to attack rolls, which many of them will need very badly to offset that -4 Strength penalty.
Base Speed: Unlike most Small creatures, kobolds move at a full 30 feet base speed.
Armor: A natural armor bonus right from the beginning is great, but there are several great options to trade this away for, so don’t overlook those.
Crafty: +2 to Craft (trapmaking) and Perception are both very useful bonuses, though the bonus to Profession (miner) isn’t very exciting. Adding Stealth to your class skills no matter what class you pick is really great too (although every class gets Craft as a class skill, so that part is pointless). However, I’d like to point out that the Wild Forest Kobold alternate racial trait is all-around better than this one, unless you plan to actually make traps.
Darkvision: As always, darkvision is super useful. However, for surface-adventuring kobolds, I would trade this away for low-light vision so that you can drop Light Sensitivity.
Light Sensitivity: Being perpetually dazzled when you’re outdoors is pretty painful, but there are worse things than taking a -1 to Perception and attack rolls. At least this isn’t Light Blindness...
Beast Bond [Crafty]: If you’re playing a class that rides a mount, such as a Cavalier or Paladin, then this is a very nice option to trade out for, but for any other class it’s a waste.
Day Raider [Darkvision, Light Sensitivity]: This is an excellent option for any character who doesn’t plan to spend the majority of their days in a dark dungeon. That’s pretty much everyone.
Dragonmaw [Armor]: A bite attack is excellent for martial classes, especially because you got to add 1d6 energy damage to that bite attack once per day. If only your Strength score wasn’t so low, this attack would be much more useful. I’d like to point out an amazing combination with this racial trait... if you grab the Draconic Breath feat with the black or green dragon options, you’ll qualify for the Noxious Bite feat, which will cause your bite attack to nauseate your enemies for several rounds at a time! Seriously, amazing!
Dragon-Scaled [Armor]: Resistance 5 to essentially any one energy type of your choice is an excellent option, and you can combine this with some of the kobold-specific Race Traits in Kobolds of Golarion as well.
Echo Whistler [Crafty]: I don’t find the ability to throw your voice a few times per day worth the trade-off for a +2 to Perception, so this one’s a no-go for me.
Frightener [Armor]: This is a great option for any type of spellcaster, as fear effects can mean the difference between losing a fight and your opponent running away in terror. Obviously for non-spellcasters, choose something else.
Gliding Wings [Crafty]: Never take any fall damage? Ever? Check! This is an amazing option, and probably the only one on here that I would trade Crafty out for.
Jester [Crafty]: Losing the bonus to Perception just isn’t worth this tradeoff unless you’re planning to be the party face (and in most campaigns, kobolds just aren’t going to cut it as the party face).
Prehensile Tail [Armor]: For a kobold Rogue or Ninja, this could come in very handy, as you might need to pull out a hidden weapon at a moment’s notice. For most characters, though, the +1 to armor class is just plain more useful.
Secret Strider [Crafty]: If you’re worried about being tracked... just boost your Perception check so that you can hear someone tracking you instead. I suppose for a kobold Ranger this is a useful option, but I just like Perception too much for this.
Shoulder to Shoulder [Crafty]: A pair of kobold Rogues with this racial trait will be seriously nasty, and if you’re the GM, you should consider giving every kobold enemy you put your players up against this trait, as it’s very powerful!
Spellcaster Sneak [Crafty]: A free once-per-day Silent Spell is an excellent choice for spellcasters, and you’re looking at a +6 bonus to Stealth just from size and race, so this is actually a really nice option.
Wild Forest Kobold [Crafty]: This is actually an all-around better option than Crafty for almost all characters, since you still get the Perception bonus but also get a bonus to Survival instead of Craft (trapmaking), so I’d grab it unless you’re planning to use Ranger Traps (which you probably should if you’re playing a kobold!)
Wyrmcrowned [Crafty]: This is a decent choice for either a party face or an Initimidate-build melee fighter, but for the most part I still like Wild Forest Kobold better.
Alchemist: A bomb-focused Alchemist is an excellent choice for a kobold thanks to both the bonus to Dexterity and a favored class option giving you extra bombs per day. The Vivisectionist archetype also works really well for a kobold if you pick up the Merciless Precision feat, which increases your sneak attack dice by 1d6 if your target has a negative condition currently affecting them.
Barbarian: The penalty to both Strength and Constitution means that a kobold was just never meant to be a Barbarian. If you did decide to play a kobold Barbarian, make sure you pick up the Dragonmaw racial trait so that your favored class bonus can give you some extra damage to the bite attack it gives you.
Bard: Kobolds are tricky little things, and so Bard is a great option for them. Echo Whistler and Jester are both decent racial trait options, and there’s a racial archetype available, the Dragon Herald, which is a sort of strange archetype allowing you to extol the virtues of a dragon in several different ways. The favored class option will be good at lower levels but its effectiveness will drop off as more creatures have better Will saves.
Cavalier [Samurai]: Cavalier seems an odd choice for a kobold, and with the penalty to Strength and Con, you’re going to have trouble making a really decent Cavalier. I do wish, for the sake of theme, that you could take some sort of reptilian creature as your mount, but a wolf will have to do unless you find some way to open up more options. The racial favored class option is definitely worth taking... for three levels. After that, switch to hit points.
Cleric: There’s nothing saying a kobold can’t make an excellent Cleric, even without a Wisdom or Charisma bonus. Kobolds of Golarion introduces not one, not two, but THREE new subdomains for kobolds, and personally I really like them. The Ambush subdomain grants you concealment from enemies pretty much constantly, which is actually a pretty incredible ability. The Radiation subdomain is a little stranger, allowing you to irradiate an object, which will then sicken those around you (including your allies). Finally, the Trap subdomain gives you access to a supernatural Ranger Trap, which can be really powerful. The favored class bonus gives you bonus damage when channeling energy, but only when the target is denied its Dexterity bonus to AC, so it’s probably too situational to be of much real use.
Druid: A kobold Druid would probably do well to choose the Beast Bond alternate racial trait if the animal companion is what you’re after. If not, take one of the three new subdomains I just talked about under Cleric. The Learn Ranger Trap and Improved Learn Ranger Trap wouuld be of much use to a kobold Druid, as setting traps is practically in a kobold’s blood. The Kobold Herbalist race trait (for green-scaled kobolds) also is very thematic, allowing you to create scent cloak alchemical items with a Survival check instead of a Craft (alchemy) check.
Fighter: Before the release of Kobolds of Golarion, I probably would have given Fighter a pretty low rating for a kobold because of the painful -4 Strength penalty. However, several options in that book have made the Fighter not only a viable option but one of the better ones. The Swarm Fighter archetype, which trades out standard Bravery for a similar ability which is instead bolstered by having allies nearby, allows you to share the space of larger creatures and get a bonus to AC and reflex saves when doing so, and even deny an enemy’s Dexterity bonus to AC when sharing a space with them! Toss in the Shoulder to Shoulder alternate racial trait so that you can also share spaces with your Small allies. I also like the Wall of Flesh teamwork feat, which treats you as one size larger for the purposes of combat maneuvers when an ally is adjacent to you. Finally, probably the most excellent option for a kobold Fighter is the new Kobold Style line of style feats, which give you bonuses to combat maneuvers when an opponent is denied his or her Dexterity bonus to AC, and eventually allow you to jump on top of a prone creature that is larger than you to grapple them while sharing their square! Make sure to take the favored class option, which boosts the damage you deal when flanking or when the opponent is denied their Dex to AC.
Gunslinger: A kobold’s Small size and bonus to Dexterity lend strongly toward the Gunslinger, and if any of the Small races were to figure out how to build guns, it would be the kobolds. There is a racial archetype for the Gunslinger, called the Bushwacker, which gives you the ability to deal sneak attack damage with your firearm, as long as you have at least 1 grit point remaining. This is excellent when combined with Kobold Sniper and Merciless Precision. You also gain grit points back for coup-de-grace-ing an opponent, which is very kobold-like. The racial favored class option is very nice, boosting your Nimble ability by a good chunk.
Inquisitor: A kobold Inquisitor has gained a lot of new and exciting options from Kobolds of Golarion, chief of which is the Scaled Disciple feat. This feat allows a spontaneous divine spellcaster to take the Dragon Disciple prestige class, treating his levels in that divine caster class as if they were levels in Sorcerer. Think about this... you can wear armor and have no penalty to casting your spells.... WOW! You also get a boost to caster level for spells of the “dragon domain” (which doesn’t actually exist, by the way... I think the author made an error.. it was supposed to be the Scalykind Domain and/or the Dragon Subdomain). The Dragon Disciple prestige class is a powerful option, giving you access to excellent spells from the Sorcerer spell list, and many powers that you can’t get anywhere else. The Kobold Style line of style feats is also an excellent option for a kobold Inquisitor, and the Merciless Magic feat synergizes well with the Dragon Disciple powers also. Since you’ll be using natural weapons a lot, make sure to grab both Tail Terror and the Dragonmaw racial trait, to add a bite and tail slap attack to your natural weapon repertoire.
Magus: A Dex-based Magus build would work very well for a kobold, and you may even want to consider a whip magus build, since you can take the Kobold Style line of feats to get bonuses against prone enemies. Spellcaster Sneak is a viable alternate racial trait, letting you sneak up on enemies and cast a spell without their knowledge before shocking grasp-ing them to oblivion. The racial favored class option is deceptive... Magi already get huge bonuses to their concentration checks to cast defensively, and so the likelihood of this being useful, especially at higher levels, is very low. I would suggest you take it for the first four levels or so, but after that you’ll be making your concentration checks even if you roll a 1.
Monk: A Maneuver Master Monk would be an excellent option for a kobold thanks to the Kobold Style feats. However, not being able to access the Swarm Fighter archetype is painful, and I might even suggest dual-classing with Fighter to get the Strike The Underbelly class feature, even though you’ll have to take 9 levels of Fighter to get there. Realistically, you’re probably better off going straight Fighter because of that archetype. I wish that Monk was a better choice for a kobold, though, because the favored class bonus is incredible, increasing your unarmored AC bonus by up to +6!
Oracle: Like the Inquisitor, the obvious choice for a kobold Oracle is to take the Scaled Disciple feat and go into the Dragon Disciple prestige class. Since you are casting divine spells, you don’t have to worry about arcane spell failure from armor, so load up on some real chunky armor and go to town with claws, tail, and bite. Take the Battle mystery and make sure to grab the Skill at Arms, Maneuver Mastery, and Iron Skin revelations, and you’ll be a powerhouse that can eventually turn into a dragon! Make sure to take the favored class option at every level, because it can end up giving you a +5 to AC when you cast a spell that gives you an armor or natural armor bonus, which is excellent!
Paladin [Antipaladin]: An effective kobold Paladin won’t be terribly easy to put together... you’ve got penalties to Strength and Con, and no boost to Charisma. None of the alternate racial options are glamorous for a Paladin, though the favor class option is pretty good, boosting your AC against your smite target. Since Paladins prepare their (paltry) spells, you can’t go into Dragon Disciple, either. Overall, this is just a weak choice.
Ranger: Now here is a class for a kobold. You’re absolutely going to want to take the Trapper archetype, and you should keep the Crafty racial trait for sure. You’ll also likely want to take Day Raider, unless you’re an underground Ranger exclusively. Both Kobold Ambusher and Kobold Sniper will fit in very well with a sneaky ranged build, and if you do plan to use traps before 5th level when you get to use actual Ranger Traps, you should pick up the Elaborate Trapper race trait. The favored class option is only helpful if you choose not to take an animal companion, and I find that animal companions are almost always more beneficial than the other option, so there’s that. Overall, though, kobolds make really great Rangers, and with their affinity for traps, the Trapper is definitely the way to go thematically.
Rogue [Ninja]: A kobold was BORN to be a Rogue. There’s no question about it. Just look at those ability scores! A kobold Rogue is almost a better trap setter than a kobold Trapper Ranger, because of their racial archetype, the Snare Setter. You get to learn a Ranger Trap at 1st level, and you get a new one every two levels in place of a Rogue Talent (if you like). You even get to deal sneak attack-style damage with your traps, and at 20th level you can add “death” to the effect of any Ranger Trap! Seriously, this is excellent! The ONLY thing you miss out on compared to the Trapper Ranger is that you can’t fire your traps at enemies at higher levels. You’ll also want the Merciless Precision feat, which gives you an extra +1d6 sneak damage when your target has a detrimental effect on them such as blinded or nauseated. That feat also meshes well with the dirty trick combat maneuver, as you can blind your target for a round, then deal extra sneak damage to them on the next round.
Sorcerer: There’s really no reason a kobold can’t be an excellent Sorcerer, and they do have a few things going for them, such as the Spellcaster Sneak racial trait, which gives you a free Silent Spell once per day. I also really like the kobold Sorcerer’s favored class option, which gives you bonus points of damage with your energy damage spells (though you’ll want to make sure to choose an energy type that you will cast a lot of!) Merciless Magic is an excellent way to boost your spell DCs. Kobolds also get their own racial bloodline, aptly named the Kobold bloodline, which includes several trap-like spells and two trap-focused bloodline powers, so it definitley fits the theme. One of my favorite kobold race traits is Frost Spitter, and I definitely recommend it for a kobold Sorcerer, as it lets you make a 10-foot square of ground as slippery as ice once per day. That’s like a free grease spell!
Summoner: With no bonus to Charisma and no special racial abilities, a kobold Sorcerer is only so-so. Since you’re small, you can ride your eidolon right from the beginning, which is cool. Frost Spitter is a great race trait to get a free extra bit of battlefield control each day, and Merciless Magic is just as good as it is for any caster. The favored class option is solid, giving you a higher bonus to AC when you’re near your eidolon (such as when riding it). Overall, though, a kobold Summoner is never going to be optimal.
Witch: I feel like one of the more iconic kobold builds is the witch doctor, and a kobold Witch can make for an excellent witch doctor. The Beast Bond alternate racial trait is nice and thematic, although Spellcaster Sneak is probably more powerful and therefore a better choice. You’ll absolutely want the Frightener alternate racial trait, as the Witch spell list includes a lot of fear-based spells. Merciless Magic is an excellent choice for a Witch, since many of your spells and hexes cause detrimental effects. The alternate favored class option is not very exciting, since most Witches want to keep their familiars right next to them, so granting the Alertness feat from farther away is a moot point. I like the Witch class for a kobold since it’s thematic and the penalties to Strength and Con aren’t going to be as terrible, so this one’s a solid choice.
Wizard: While it’s a little less thematic than the Witch (kobolds with spell books?) the Wizard works just as well. You’ll absolutely want the Spellcaster Sneak alternate racial trait, and Merciless Magic is a no-brainer. The favored class option isn’t too great, although it can apply to either a familiar or a bonded item, which is kinda nice. Other than those few things, Wizard is just a “meh” choice for a kobold.
Alchemist: More bombs means more damage, and that’s a great option for a kobold Alchemist.
Barbarian: I like this option, but be aware that this only adds damage to your RACIAL natural attacks, which means you don’t gain extra damage from any other natural attacks you get when you rage, like a gore. Make sure to grab Dragonmaw and Tail Terror to make the best use of this.
Bard: Fascinate isn’t the best performance out there, but at lower levels this will come in very handy. Sadly fascinate doesn’t work mid-battle, so at higher levels this will become less and less useful.
Cavalier: This is an amazing favored class option... for three levels. Since it maxes out at 15 feet of extra charging speed for your mount, once you take it three times, go back to hit points.
Cleric: This is a very situational ability, letting you deal extra damage to creatures with channeled energy, but only when they’re denied their Dex bonus to AC. I’d say a hit point is more useful.
Druid: Wild empathy doesn’t come up a heck of a lot, so you’re probably better off taking a skill point at each level and putting it into Handle Animal.
Fighter: If this was a Rogue option, I’d grab it in a heartbeat without question. Still, getting extra damage to foes you’re flanking is always useful, so unless you’re a ranged Fighter, you should probably choose this one.
Gunslinger: Adding more to your Dodge bonus to AC is excellent, even though this maxes out at +4. Take 16 levels of it, then go back to hit or skill points.
Inquisitor: This is WAY too situational to be worth giving up a hit point for. Ignore!
Magus: Bonuses to concentration to cast defensively are not hard to get for a Magus, but this will help boost you from “almost always cast my spell” to “never fail to cast my spell”, so I’d say grab it at every level.
Monk: WOW. Ok, so this can get you a total of +6 additional untyped bonus to your AC, which apply at all times unless you’re unconscious or helpless. There’s no question that any kobold Monk should choose this at every level until 18th.
Oracle: This is also a really great option for extra armor, since it essentially gives you up to +5 additional AC from spells which normally max out at +4, such as mage armor. You should take this at every level.
Paladin: Another great AC-boosting option, this increases your deflection bonus against your smite evil target up to +5 more than normal. Even though this only works against one target at a time, it’s a great choice.
Ranger: As a Ranger, I would pretty much never choose the bond with companions option over an animal companion, so I think this is a really bad choice. If you DO like to bond with your companions, though, this favored class option is solid.
Rogue: This favored class option is only good if you didn’t trade out trap sense with an archetype, and the vast majority of archetypes do so. However, if you’re taking my advice and using the Snare Setter archetype, then you should definitely take this at every level.
Sorcerer: Anything that gives you bonuses to damaging spells is great, even if you’re not focusing on being a blaster. Pick an energy type that you can cast often, and go to town, getting up to +10 to damage with that type!
Summoner: This is another option that gives you bonus AC, and if you’re planning to ride your eidolon it’ll be super useful. Grab it at every level.
Witch: Most Witches know that their familiar is supposed to stay nearby at all times, because getting your familiar killed is NOT good. Because of that, I just don’t see the benefit to this option. Choose a hit point instead.
Wizard: Your familiar shouldn’t have to be making many Will saves if you play it right, and if your bonded item is being sundered you’re also doing something wrong, so I don’t think this option is as good as a skill point.
Bushwacker (Gunslinger): I like this archetype because it just feels very kobold-y. You’re a sneaky little thing, running around the battlefield coup-de-gracing creatures who are asleep or otherwise incapacitated to regain your grit points, and getting sneak damage with your gun when creatures can’t normally defend themselves. This is the ultimate sniper archetype for a Gunslinger, so if you’re a kobold and want to shoot things, go with this archetype for sure!
Dragon Herald (Bard): This is a really weird archetype, and is pretty situational (you’re really good at telling people how great dragons are... they already know that). I do enjoy the theme of the new bardic performances, such as Diplomatic Immunity which lets you cast sanctuary on yourself in order to extol the virtues of your dragon patron in hostile territory. The stacking energy resistance is also pretty sweet. At higher levels, all creatures can understand you when you speak Draconic, which is... interesting. Not powerful in any way, but interesting.
Snare Setter (Rogue): This is now one of my favorite archetypes in the whole game, and I really hope that they make kobold boons for Pathfinder Society so that I can play one of these guys. Ranger Traps are really excellent, and this archetype lets you start using them even sooner than a Ranger can! You also get to add sneak damage to your traps, which is just crazy awesome. Seriously, if you’re playing a kobold Rogue, you NEED to take this archetype.
Swarm Fighter (Fighter): This archetype lets you fight better in groups, so if as a GM you’re putting your characters up against a bunch of kobolds, give every one of them this archetype. There are several useful abilities, but the best one is the Share Space class feature which you get at 5th level, which when combined with the Strike the Underbelly 9th level ability lets you enter an enemy’s space and instantly deny them their Dexterity bonus. There’s a good reason why this isn’t a Rogue archteype (even though your kobold Rogue WISHES it was!)
Kobold Bloodline (Sorcerer Bloodline): This bloodline is very trap- and stealth-oriented, and so if you’re planning to play a sneaky caster, this is a good way to go. The bloodline arcana gives you a boost to spell DCs against creatures denied their Dex to AC, which is fun and will come in handy. Make sure to take Improved Initiative and Merciless Magic to make the most use of this. I really like the Trap Rune and Arcane Ambush bloodline powers, as well.
Draconic Breath: This can be a useful ability to be able to toss out there once per day, though the damage doesn’t scale with character level. Note that Sorcerers can get more out of this than most other classes, since the save DC is based on Charisma for them. However, there is one thing you should really consider for any melee character. Take the Dragonmaw racial trait, and choose either of the acid options for this feat. Then, take Noxious Bite, which lets your bite attacks nauseate your enemies for several rounds, which is crazy awesome!
Draconic Glide: This ability essentially mimics the Gliding Wings racial trait, letting you fall from any distance without getting hurt. If you already have that racial trait, it literally does nothing for you (your base speed is already 30 feet!) so only take this if you want to glide and you don’t already have Gliding Wings.
Draconic Paragon: Now HERE is why you’ve been taking those other “Draconic” feats. With this feat, you get a bonus against sleep and paralysis effects, your breath weapon deals more damage, and you gain a fly speed instead of just being able to glide. This is an excellent feat, but it does have a lot of feat requirements to get the most out of it.
Kobold Ambusher: This feat is useful for anyone other than a Rogue who wants to be able to move around without being seen. Note that this does exactly the same thing as a Rogue Talent, so a Rogue should take the talent instead.
Kobold Confidence: This feat will be a great option for any front-line type character, as it’ll keep you from dying as quickly (assuming one of your mental stats is higher than your Constitution). The bonus to Fort saves is also excellent, and for that reason I’d suggest that a Sorcerer or other arcane caster at least consider picking this one up.
Kobold Sniper: If you’re a ranged attacker, you want this. Reducing the penalty from sniping to -10 instead of -20 is a HUGE boost!
Merciless Magic: Every kobold spellcaster should take this, as it increases your spell DCs when a creature already has a detrimental condition. I especially like this for Witches, since they can stack Evil Eye with this to seriously lower an enemy’s chance of saving against their spells.
Redeemed Kobold: This is really only useful for a Cleric, Paladin, or Life Oracle who channels positive energy. You get a +2 to your Charisma score when calculating your positive energy DCs, and you get some Diplomacy bonuses against good creatures. Pretty paltry, if you ask me.
Scaled Disciple: This is one of my new favorite feats in the game... you can start taking the Dragon Disciple prestige class using Oracle (or Inquisitor) levels instead of Sorcerer levels! This means that your spells don’t have arcane spell failure, which is normally a HUGE problem for Dragon Disciples. Seriously, if you are playing an Oracle or Inquisitor, you really should take this.
Tail Terror: Kobold tail attachments are fun and flavorful weapons, and using one still counts as a natural attack, so you can use them along with your Dragonmaw bite attack. Any melee class should consider going with natural weapons because of this.
Oreads are planetouched native outsider races with a connection to the elemental plane of earth. This means that they’re hearty, heavy, and strong, and they make excellent melee combatants. Their Wisdom bonus also opens up the possibility of great synergy with divine caster classes. Their special racial options for archetypes and such aren’t QUITE as exciting as the other planetouched races, in my opinion, but they’re still a fun race to play!
Ability Scores: +2 Strength, +2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma. The boosts to Strength and Wisdom make for an amazing Ranger or Monk setup, with Cleric, Druid, Fighter, and Cavalier being top options as well. Paladins will suffer from the Charisma penalty a bit, but could still do just fine.
Type: Oreads are outsiders with the native subtype, so just like the other planetouched races they can’t be affected by spells and effects that target humanoids, such as enlarge person and charm person, so this is a double-edged sword. .
Size: Oreads are the same size as humans.
Speed: Oreads have a slow base speed of 20 feet, in fact I believe they’re the only Medium-size player race to have slow speed that can still be encumbered by carrying too much weight! This definitely hurts, but can be ignored if you play either a Monk (who gets speed boosts) or a Cavalier (who will be riding his mount all the time).
Energy Resistance: Having resistance 5 to acid is very nice, and is probably stronger than the resistances which the other elemental races get because spells with acid damage generally deal that damage over multiple rounds.
Spell-like ability: Oreads get a cast of magic stone once per day for free, which could come in handy for caster classes and perhaps even a ranged build at low levels, but isn’t the most exciting thing out there.
Darkvision: I’ve talked this one to death on other races’ descriptions… it’s excellent, and way better than Low-Light Vision, simple as that.
Earth Affinity: This power actually makes a Sorcerer build totally viable despite the penalty to Charisma, as it essentially boosts your Charisma stat back up to baseline IF you choose the Earth Elemental bloodline. It’s also kinda cool to change the damage type of burning hands and scorching ray to acid type, because fewer monsters have resistance to acid than to fire. However, it would be nice if this ability would be updated to include some of the other earth-themed bloodlines too, such as Deep Earth, Shaitan and Draconic (Black, Green or Copper). The boost to Cleric spells with the (earth) descriptor is excellent, and remember that you can choose any of the subdomains of the Earth domain for this ability too, such as Caves, Metal, and Radiation. My personal favorite of those is Metal, as it gives you a great way to ignore hardness of objects at early levels (can you say “sunder Cleric”?).
Crystalline Form (Earth Affinity): If you aren’t playing a Sorcerer or a divine caster who gets a domain, this could be a good option for you. The only sad thing is that ray attacks aren’t nearly as prevalent as straight-up arrows coming at your face, and this doesn’t help you against arrows at all. This is a decent option for a front-line combatant, though Stone in the Blood is probably overall a better choice.
Earth Insight (Earth Affinity): This seems like a super obvious choice for oread Summoners, except that their summoning spell-like abilities already last MINUTES per level instead of rounds per level. A Wizard or Witch might also consider this option, but Sorcerers should stick with Earth Affinity unless they REALLY don’t want to use the Earth Elemental bloodline.
Ferrous Growth (Spell-like Ability): This is a super thematic ability, and it could be invaluable for creating a tool you need mid-dungeon such as a crowbar or something, but I strongly prefer the Treacherous Earth option to this one for pretty much any character.
Fertile Soil (Earth Affinity): This ability can let you use the Verdant bloodline with the same bonuses you would get from the Earth Elemental bloodline, and it’s a pretty powerful one. I especially love the combination of the entangle spell and the Tanglevine first-level bloodline power, and gaining a natural armor bonus each time you cast a personal-range spell is super strong as well (pick up a wand of expeditious retreat and cast it on yourself at the start of every battle to get +1 natural armor AND fix your slow speed for the whole battle!). With this option, you can be a really excellent “debuffer”-style Sorcerer.
Granite Skin (Energy Resistance): While a natural armor bonus is good and will help out in more situations, I still would probably keep the resistance 5 to acid over this.
Mountain Born (Spell-like Ability): Compared to casting magic stone once per day or the benefits of Treacherous Earth, this is a terrible option. Stay away!
Stone in the Blood (Earth Affinity): Fast healing sounds really great, right? And it is. the only problem here is that this ability only gives you fast healing 2 for ONE ROUND, with a cap on the amount of healing you can get per day equal to 2x your level. That’s essentially just like reducing the damage you take from the acid attack that hit you by another 2 points. This is still a great ability because you can have someone cast acid splash on you to heal two points per round (since it won’t deal more than 5 damage), but if this lasted a few more rounds it would be MUCH better.
Treacherous Earth (Spell-like Ability): This is an excellent ability, allowing you to set up an area of difficult terrain before a key battle to hide your casters behind, or even just slow down charging Cavaliers. I would say this is more powerful than magic stone once per day by far. Take this one!
Alchemist: There’s really nothing going for or against an oread Alchemist, as you don’t get bonuses or penalties to Intelligence or Dexterity. If you wanted to build a Jekyl-and-Hyde type character focusing more on Strength, this is probably blue.
Barbarian: Oreads make EXCELLENT Barbarians, thanks to the Strength boost and the Barbarian’s fast movement ability making up for their abnormally slow land speed. The Elemental Kin archtype is an obvious choice, especially in concert with the Stone in the Blood racial option. The Armored Hulk would also be thematic, though you would lose fast movement with that one.
Bard: With a Charisma penalty, I have trouble recommending the Bard class for an oread. The only thing really going for you here is the favored class bonus, which increases the range of effect of one bardic performance, so that you could get +30 feet to three of your performances and +10 feet to one more by 20th level. Overall, though, Bard is a suboptimal choice.
Cavalier [Samurai]: With a bonus to Strength, an oread Cavalier makes surprising sense (even though I feel bad for the poor horse that has to carry your heavy, earthy butt!) Samurai is tougher, since they’re more built to use bows than lances. The Order of the Land makes the most thematic sense, but any Cavalier order would work fine.
Cleric: Oreads make for great Clerics, thanks to their Wisdom bonus. They can also hold their own in combat with the Strength bonus. The Earth Affinity alternate racial power is a no-brainer, and the Treacherous Earth option is really great for a front-line armor-clad Cleric as well. You’ll also want to trade out your racial acid resistance for Granit Skin since you’ll get higher acid resistance (which doesn’t stack) at level 8 (unless you choose the Caves subdomain). I also like the Divine Strategist archetype for an oread since your Charisma penalty would make channel energy less useful, so you might as well drop it! Ignore the favored class bonus and stick with hit points, as a bonus to one type of Knowledge checks when only dealing with the Plane of Earth is just no good.
Druid: Even better than a Cleric, an oread can make for one mean Druid. This is one of the few times that I would suggest picking up the Earth domain instead of an animal companion, because your granted powers and domain spells will be more powerful than normal. I especially like the Metal subdomain, because you can’t wear metal armor, but your fists can be made of steel! You should definitely trade out your acid resistance for Granite Skin since you’ll get higher acid resistance at level 8. You might also consider the Cave Druid archetype, though it will delay your Wild Shape progression, but you’ll eventually be able to turn into an ooze! The Mountain Druid is also attractive, eventually allowing you to turn into a giant with Wild Shape! Make sure to pick up Earth Insight to add a few rounds to your summoned creatures. Ignore the favored class option and just boost your hit points.
Fighter: The oread’s bonus to Strength makes Fighter a prime choice. I like the Thunderstriker archetype for thematic awesomeness of bashing people with a hammer and shield, but pretty much any melee Fighter build will work great. As far as racial options, I would keep the acid resistance and pick up Stone in the Blood and Treacherous Earth. Ignore the favored class option and take the hit point each level instead.
Gunslinger: The bonus to Wisdom and a lack of a Dexterity penalty means that you can make a pretty decent Gunslinger out of an oread. There aren’t many specifically good options, so you can use any decent Gunslinger build.
Inquisitor: Inquisitor is another solid choice for an oread, though without the bonus spells from the Earth domain I would definitely pick Cleric over Inquisitor in general. Like the Gunslinger, this is a good option but doesn’t have anything that makes it really GREAT, so I don’t have a lot to add here.
Magus: There’s really nothing going for or against you as a Magus, as you don’t need a super high Strength score, and there’s no Intelligence bonus.
Monk: There are several different reasons to choose the Monk class as an oread. First off, you get Strength and Wisdom bonuses, both of which are excellent for a monk. Secondly, the favored class bonus gives you a higher chance to crit with your fists, which is awesome! But probably the best thing of all is that you get the option of taking the Student of the Stone archetype, which is an amazing archetype! You get bonuses against critical hit confirmations, bonuses on attacks and combat maneuvers when you’re touching the ground, and eventually light fortification and tremorsense! I would suggest keeping the racial acid resistance and trading Magic Stone and Earth Affinity for Stone in the Blood and Treacherous Earth.
Oracle: The bonus to Charisma really hurts an Oracle no matter what build you do. This is also the only divine caster class that can’t get the benefits of Earth Affinity in any way. Put those things together, and Oracle is just not a good option for an oread.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: While the penalty to Charisma isn’t great, oreads get a bonus to Strength, so if you want to focus more on bashing in heads, you can still make a pretty good Paladin. There aren’t any really stellar archetypes, but I REALLY wish there was a way to get the dwarf-only Stonelord archetype, because it fits so perfectly with an oread Paladin. I would probably house-rule that an oread who took the Dwarf Blooded feat could also take the Stonelord archetype, but I digress. Having slow movement doesn’t really hurt an oread Paladin as long as he’s on his mount, so I would suggest sticking with either the standard Paladin or taking an archetype that keeps the mount. Antipaladins don’t get mounts, so I’ll rate them just a bit lower here. The favored class option is pretty great for a Paladin, boosting the bonuses you grant your allies with aura abilities. Obviously that doesn’t apply to Antipaladins.
Ranger: Bonuses to both Wisdom and Strength make a melee-focused Ranger an excellent option for an oread. To take advantage of that Strength bonus, I recommend the Two-Handed Weapon fighting style. If you know your campaign will take you underground, the Deep Walker archetype is a decent thematic option. Make sure to take the animal companion option for your Hunter’s Bond, because the favored class option gives your companion more natural armor bonus (I imagine this as your companion gaining stony armor to mirror your own earthy skin over time), and make sure to take Boon Companion to get that companion as strong as possible!
Rogue [Ninja]: No bonus to either Dexterity or Intelligence makes Rogue a difficult choice for an oread, and Ninja is even worse thanks to the Charisma penalty. The one build that could work is the “smasher Rogue” which I’ve seen some people attempt, where you build a Rogue who relies almost purely on Strength and flanking for sneak attack dice. If you did so, I would suggest picking up a few levels of Barbarian to get the rage rounds. Overall, though, Rogue and Ninja just aren’t great choices for an oread.
Sorcerer: Normally, I wouldn’t recommend a Sorcerer to any race who has a Charisma penalty, but the oread is an exception. The Earth Affinity and Fertile Soil racial abilities give you a great opportunity to be treated as if you had +2 Charisma for all class abilities of the Sorcerer, as long as you use the Earth Elemental or Verdant bloodlines. Of the two, I think the Verdant bloodline is more powerful, thanks to the focus on spells and abilities that entangle and otherwise hinder foes. Also consider the possibility of being a Crossblooded Sorcerer, which will let you pick and choose from the best bloodline powers at each level and still get the effective +2 to Charisma for all of your class features, at the expense of one spell known at each level (which you can get back by spending some cash on Pages of Spell Knowledge). You will probably also want the Earth Insight racial option to give your summoned creatures a bit of a boost.
Summoner: Like the Sorcerer, normally I wouldn’t recommend Summoner to any race with a Charisma penalty, but there are actually good reasons to consider it in this case. The Charisma penalty definitely DOES hurt, but there is a racial archetype option called the Shaitan Binder which is pretty strong, eventually giving your eidolon the ability to cast limited wish as a spell-like ability! I also like the favored class option, which gives your eidolon a boost to natural armor every four levels (which means you don’t need to spend evolution points to get natural armor!)
Witch: With no Intelligence bonus but also no penalty, there’s nothing either going for or against choosing the Witch class as an oread.
Wizard: Just as with the Witch, there’s nothing saying you can’t make a decent Wizard out of an oread, but there’s also nothing specifically exciting about choosing to do so.
Bard: This is a fun option, and since oreads move a little slower than other Medium creatures you might actually find yourself in need of some extra range on your performances. While being a Bard isn’t terribly optimal in the first place, if you do it, definitely make use of this option.
Cleric: A bonus on one specific type of Knowledge checks which is situational on top of that is just terrible. IGNORE!
Druid: Again, bonuses to single Knowledge checks about only specific creatures within those checks are just not worth your time. IGNORE!
Fighter: This isn’t a bad option if you want to be a “stand your ground” type of combatant, but honestly bull rush and drag just aren’t used that often by monsters. I would say you’re better off with a hit point.
Monk: I really like this choice for an unarmed oread Monk, because if you’ve gone with the racial archetype Student of the Stone, you also have a bonus AGAINST critical hit confirmations against you, which synergize very well.
Paladin: This is a great option for any Paladin, as it increases the passive bonuses that you grant your allies with your aura abilities. Definitely choose this at every level unless you take an archetype that gives up auras in favor of other abilities!
Ranger: You’ll want to take an animal companion as your Nature Bond specifically so that you can boost its natural armor with this favored class option. More armor for your pet means less chance it’ll die, and that’s always a good thing!
Summoner: This bonus is the same as the one you can choose for a Ranger, except it applies to your eidolon. This is really good, because it means you don’t need to spend precious evolution points giving your eidolon that natural armor that it desperately needs!
Student of the Stone (Monk): I really love this archetype for several reasons. It’s obviously very thematically appropriate, but even better are the abilities it grants you. When you and your opponent are both touching the ground, you get a +1 to attack rolls and combat maneuvers, which is excellent. You get to add the Shaitan Style feat chain to your bonus Monk feats, and WOW… you add your Wisdom modifier to acid damage when using Elemental Fist, and even if you MISS you still deal acid damage! I would actually recommend taking Shaitan Style as soon as you qualify for it (should be 7th level) instead of waiting until it’s added to your bonus feat list at 10th level. I also like the defensive abilities you get later on in this archetype, like the ability to spend a ki point to gain DR, and the light fortification armor ability on your skin, giving you a 25% chance of ignoring critical hits and precision damage!
Shaitan Binder (Summoner): This is a strong archetype for the most part, but with one very large drawback… you lose Share Spells. That is a HUGE pain in the butt, as there are a few spells on the Summoner spell list that can’t be cast on your eidolon without Share Spells (such as enlarge person). However, this drawback isn’t the worst thing ever, and you gain some cool abilities instead, such as free basic, minor, major AND ultimate magic evolutions for your eidolon. It also gains the earth glide ability, which is very useful for strategic positioning during combat. Finally, the capstone ability is really amazing, which gives your eidolon a once-per-day spell-like ability to cast limited wish! Note that you still have to provide expensive material components if you duplicate a spell that requires them, but you don’t have to use up 1,500gp of diamond dust to cast it!
Dwarf Blooded: This feat is thematic for sure, and I like that you can get the dwarf’s ability to never be encumbered, though it’s not a super powerful ability by any means. However, the writers of this feat missed out on the ONE THING that would have made it really amazing: having the oread count as a dwarf for racial archetypes. The Stonelord Paladin archetype would have been PERFECT for an oread to take, but they can’t qualify for it, even with this feat. I’ve already decided I’m going to house-rule that this feat qualifies you for the archetype, and I suggest you do the same!
Echoes of Stone: For any oread in an undergound-themed campaign, this is a really excellent feat. A +4 to Perception is a huge bonus, and tossing a bonus to Survival on as well makes this one a no-brainer if you have a feat slot open. However, its situational nature makes it not worth your time unless you’re SURE you’re going to be spending a lot of time underground.
Elemental Jaunt: All four of the elemental-touched races can choose this feat, and while it’s a powerful ability, I don’t think it’s worth using a feat slot on for most characters. If your oread is a spellcaster, she should eventually have access to this spell anyway, and if she’s not a spellcaster, you’re going to want to use your feats on combat abilities and let the caster of the group worry about things like plane shifting. Overall, this just isn’t going to be an optimal choice.
Murmurs of Earth: If you spent a feat on Echoes of Stone because you knew you’d be underground a lot, then you should at least consider this feat, as it gives you a (VERY) limited form of tremorsense. The fact that this uses up a move action is extremely painful, however if you’re up against an invisible enemy or in an area of magical darkness, you’ll wish you had this feat. I’d say it’s worth a feat slot for most combat-oriented characters.
Oread Burrower: A burrow speed is pretty great, and this seems like it would be a pretty amazing option for a character playing in the upcoming Mummy’s Mask adventure path, since there’s likely to be a lot of battles on sand. If you do take this feat, it’s definitely going to be worth your time to spend another feat on Oread Earth Glider as well.
Oread Earth Glider: A burrow speed through solid stone, even at half your normal speed, is pretty powerful. I would especially consider this feat chain for a Student of the Stone Monk, as melding into solid stone and coming up on the other side of an enemy is just AWESOME.
Stony Step: This feat doesn’t sound super exciting on its own, but it opens up Oread Burrower and Oread Earth Glider, both of which are really great. Make sure to combine this feat with the Treacherous Earth racial ability to allow you to create an area of difficult terrain and then move across it freely!
Sylphs are planetouched native outsider races with a connection to the elemental plane of air. This means that they are generally light, whispy, and FAST. Their bonuses to Dexterity and Intelligence lend them strongly toward Rogues and arcane casters, but they generally can pull off any class that doesn’t depend heavily on Constitution.
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Constitution. The boosts to Dexterity and Intelligence make sylphs naturally sneaky and excellent at arcane casting, so if there ever was a race build to be an Arcane Trickster, this would be it. They’re not very hardy, so front-line warriors in general, and Barbarians specifically, are suboptimal builds for a sylph.
Type: Sylphs are outsiders with the native subtype, so just like the other planetouched races they can’t be affected by spells and effects that target humanoids, such as enlarge person and charm person, so this is a double-edged sword. .
Size: Sylphs are the same size as humans.
Speed: Sylphs have the same base speed as humans.
Energy Resistance: Having resistance 5 to electricity is decent, though not as strong as the acid resistance that oreads get.
Spell-like ability: Sylphs can cast feather fall once per day for free, and anyone who has ever fallen down a deep well can tell you that this can be a life-saver. If you’re an arcane caster, this means you probably don’t have to use a spell slot on it, since you’re not likely to need it more than once per day, and the options to switch out for this one generally aren’t as nice.
Darkvision: I’ve talked this one to death on other races’ descriptions… it’s excellent, and way better than Low-Light Vision, simple as that.
Air Affinity: Just like the other elemental races, a sylph Sorcerer or Cleric (or any other class that uses Domains) gets a boost if they choose the right bloodline or domain, respectively. The Elemental (air) bloodline is nice but nothing amazing, and I’d say the same thing about the Air domain. In either case, make sure to replace your racial electricity resistance with sonic resistance using Thunderous Resilience, since the bloodline and domain both give you (higher) electricity resistance. However, the Wind subdomain is excellent, letting you use a ranged bull rush several times a day, using your caster level (which is 1 higher thanks to this racial power) as your base attack bonus and your Wisdom bonus as your Strength bonus! Very nice!
Air Insight (Air Affinity): This one is an obvious choice for any arcane caster who isn’t a Sorcerer… you get to have summons last longer at no cost to you. It’s also a great choice for a Druid who prefers an animal companion over a domain.
Breeze-Kissed (Air Affinity): This ability is two-fold… you get a constant +2 AC vs non-magical ranged attacks (generally only useful until around level 5 since most enemies will have magical bows after that) and you also can use a ranged bull rush or trip once per day. preggy cool, and a decent option for non-casters.
Like the Wind (Energy Resistance): Any bonus to speed is pretty sweet, but I don’t think I’d ever choose this over the sonic resistance 5 granted by Thunderous Resilience, so I have to rate this one relatively low.
Sky Speaker (Spell-like Ability): There’s just no chance that a casting of speak with animals will come in more handy than feather fall. Stay away.
Storm in the Blood (Air Affinity): Just like the other elemental races, sylphs can get a (VERY) limited fast healing when exposed to electricity. The problem is, it only lasts one round, and has a pretty low healing cap per day. This just isn’t as good as any of the other options, in my opinion.
Thunderous Resilience (Energy Resistance): Wow. Very few abilities in the game will give you sonic resistance, so I say take it while you can get it. For Sorcerers or divine casters who take the Air domain, this is a no-brainer, since you’ll get your resistance to electricity back through bloodline/domain powers anyway.
Weather Savvy (Spell-like Ability): This is a cool, thematic option, but it relies far too heavily on the GM knowing what the weather is going to be like, and weather doesn’t factor into many campaigns anyway. Sadly, this one’s rated pretty low.
Whispering Wind (Spell-like Ability): For a sylph Rogue or Ninja, this is an automatic choice. +4 to Stealth? Yes, please!
Alchemist: You have boosts to the primary two stats that bomb-tossing Alchemists need, so this is a great option. You may want to consider the Preservationist archetype in concert with the Air Insight alternate racial ability, since it’ll increase the number of rounds your air elementals stick around (although Breeze-Kissed is also a good option for an Alchemist). You may also consider the Cloud Gazer feat so that you can toss your bombs from the protection of an obscuring mist or similar spell.
Barbarian: Daily rage rounds depend on Con, and sylphs don’t have much of that. If you did go the Barbarian round, the Elemental Kin archetype is an obvious choice, but this is going to be sub-optimal at best.
Bard: High Int means more skill points, and many Bards use Dexterity-based combat, so Bard is a good choice for a sylph. Air Insight is a very good choice to keep your air elemental summons around longer, and Thunderous Resilience will let you be resistant to your own sonic-damage spells. Along with that, consider the Sound Striker archetype to focus more strongly on sonic damage.
Cavalier [Samurai]: A reduced Con score isn’t great for a Cavalier, and since you’re not a Small creature you have to deal with lugging around that Large mount. However, the Luring Cavalier archetype would allow you to be a more ranged-focused character, and that might work very well. The Samurai can already do very well at ranged combat, so it’s also a decent choice.
Cleric: Even without a Wisdom bonus, sylphs make excellent Clerics thanks to their Air Affinity ability. You get +1 caster level for all Air domain-related abilities, and that includes the sweet Wind subdomain. Make sure to switch out your racial electricity resistance for Thunderous Resilience since you’ll get better electricity resistance later on.
Druid: Like the Cleric, this is a good choice despite the lack of Wisdom bonus. If you go the domain route, obviously pick up the Wind subdomain that I just talked about in the Cleric entry. If you instead opt for an animal companion, make sure to take Air Insight to give a boost to your air elemental summons. On top of that, sylphs get a racial archtype called the Sky Druid. This is an excellent archetype with several really fun abilities. First off, you can still take the Wind subdomain, or if you prefer an animal companion, you need to take one that has a fly speed (roc, anyone?). You can switch out your feather fall 1/day spell-like ability for something else, since at 2nd level you get a CONSTANT feather fall effect, and you can use ranks in Fly in place of Acrobatics when jumping! At 5th level, you get a supernatureal power to fly for minutes per level each day, at 9th level you are never affected by wind of any type, and at 13th level you gain a fly speed! Seriously, this is a sweet archetype!
Fighter: The only thing going against you as a sylph Fighter is the reduced Con score. However, if you decide to be a ranged Fighter, that’s not a problem, and you have the Dexterity bonus to pull it off. Obviously the Archer archetype makes sense, but you may also consider the Lore Warden instead to take advantage of your high Intelligence. Make sure to take Cloud Gazer, so that you can fire your arrows from near the edge of an obscuring mist cast by your party Wizard.
Gunslinger: Any race that can excel as a ranged Fighter can also do very well as a Gunslinger. You might consider picking up Airy Step and WIngs of Air, because a flying Gunslinger is a dangerous thing, and you’ll definitely want the Cloud Gazer feat so that you can fire your gun from the safety of an obscuring mist.
Inquisitor: A ranged Inquisitor build could be quite good for a sylph, and you’ll obviously want the Wind subdomain for the same reasons that a Cleric would (though not getting the bonus spells is detrimental). If you’re going for a sneaky build, you’ll want to take the favored class bonus for your Stealth checks, but opposed Perception checks hardly ever come up, so it’s otherwise not that useful.
Magus: There are a lot of Dex-based Magus builds floating around out there, and a sylph can really capitalize on that with bonuses to both Dex and Int. The Kapenia Dancer and Myrmidarch archetypes are obvious choices, and you’ll definitely want the Cloud Gazer feat, as it will let you lay down an obscuring mist and then shoot from within it with no penalty.
Monk: I’m actually surprised that there’s not a Monk archetype specifically for the sylph, as it seems like an obvious choice. The Zen Archer is an amazing archetype for a sylph Monk, and you might also consider the Flowing Monk archetype for flavor purposes. Inner Breath is also a flavorful option.
Oracle: While you don’t get a Charisma bonus, you can still make a seriously amazing Oracle if you take advantage of Cloud Gazer and the fact that obscuring mist is on your spell list, you can rain down all kinds of ranged damage without being seen yourself. Make sure to pick your favorite revelation that is dependent on your Oracle level to apply the favored class bonus to, since it essentially multiplies your Oracle level by 1.5 for the effects of that revelation.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: With no Charisma bonus and a penalty to Con, it’s tough to make a good Paladin with a sylph character. That being said, any of the ranged archtypes, such as Holy Gun or Divine Hunter, will work out just fine. The Antipaladin doesn’t get access to those archetypes, so it’s nowhere near as good.
Ranger: A ranged Ranger build is a great choice for a sylph, though I would probably shy towards the Fighter over this. You’ll obviously want the Archery combat style, and make sure to take Cloud Gazer for the same reasons as any other ranged build.
Rogue [Ninja]: I am pretty sure the sylph was put together with the Rogue class in mind. A sylph Sniper will be truly amazing, thanks to Cloud Gazer in concert with an obscuring mist spell. Ninja works just as well also. I would probably not take the favored class option, as a skill point will be more useful for you at most levels. Make sure to take the Whispering Wind racial option, as a permanent +4 to Stealth checks beats out a 1/day spell-like ability any day for a Rogue or Ninja.
Sorcerer: This is obviously a great option for a sylph thanks to the Air Affinity racial power. You’ll want to take the Air elemental bloodline to take advantage of it, obviously. Make sure to take Thunderous Resilience to get resistance to sonic damage, since your bloodline comes with electricity resistance built in. You’ll want to take advantage of the racial favored class option, applying it to your Elemental Blast bloodline power to give you extra dice of damage when using it.
Summoner: Air Insight seems like an easy choice for a Summoner, but remember that a Summoner’s summon monster spell-like abilities last for minutes per level instead of rounds, so really it isn’t that helpful. Cloud Gazer could come in handy for a Summoner, as well, since you could stand ten feet into an obscuring mist without being seen and summon creature after creature to do your bidding.
Witch: You’ve got nothing in particular going for you with a sylph Witch other than the bonus rounds of summoning from Air Insight and a bonus to Int, so I would definitely pick Wizard instead. If you do go with the Witch, take a flying familiar and use the racial favored class option to give it killer Perception checks.
Wizard: You’ve got a lot of good things happening here for a Wizard. First of all, you get an Int bonus to make your spells more powerful. The favored class option is also fantastic, and of the two elemental schools that you can choose, the Wood school is best (entangle is an AMAZING spell for a Wizard!) You’ll want to apply the extra effective levels to your Flexible Enhancement school power, since you can give yourself very nice bonuses to your ability scores and change them out each day when you prepare your spells! On top of all that, you’ve got a racial archetype, the Wind Listener. This archetype isn’t anything mind-blowing, but you do get to add Perception to your list of class skills, and you get to replace Arcane Bond (some people worry that they’ll lose their bonded object or familiar) with the ability to lose any prepared spell to cast a divination spell instead.
Cleric: A situational bonus on a single type of Knowledge check is not worth your time. IGNORE!
Druid: See Cleric right above this. IGNORE!
Inquisitor: For a Stealth-focused build, this is an excellent option, but most Inquisitors just run in and fight, so you’re probably better off with an extra hit point in most cases.
Oracle: This is one of the best favored class options in the game, because many Oracle revelations are very powerful! Seriously, doesn’t matter what mystery you pick, you should be taking this at every level.
Rogue: A flat bonus to Sense Motive is nice, but the bonus to Acrobatics only when jumping is too situational. If you’re a Ninja, this is probably a little better, since it lets you do some crazy jumping feats of amazingness.
Sorcerer: This favored class option is ALMOST as good as the one you can get for being an Oracle, but you’re limited to which bloodlines you can take. Still, you should be choosing this at every level.
Witch: If you’re planning to be a sneaky Witch, this option is for you. The bonus to Stealth can come in handy, but the bonus to the Perception checks of your familiar is much more powerful. In fact, I would probably choose this at every level just to get the familiar Perception bonus. Trust me, the first time you roll a 1 on Perception to notice a trap and your familiar says “HEY! THERE’S A TRAP ON THAT DOOR!” you’ll be thanking me!
Wizard: Just like the Sorcerer, this option is almost as good as the Oracle one. Definitely take this at every level, assuming you choose either the Air or Wood school.
Sky Druid (Druid): I absolutely love the Sky Druid archetype for both reasons of fluff and crunch. You should definitely be taking the Wind subdomain, no question. Starting at 2nd level you get a constant feather fall ability, which is really sweet, and the fly spell at 5th level is excellent too. Having your wild shape pushed back to 6th level hurts, but it’s more than worth it in my opinion. Finally, the last two abilities let you ignore ALL wind effects and give you a true fly speed of 60 (or 70 if you took Like the Wind) feet. Very nice!
Wind Listener (Wizard): This archetype is fantastic for a battlefield controller Wizard for several reasons. First, you add Perception to your list of class skills. Yes, please! Next, you can spontaneously convert your prepared spells into divination spells of the same level. That means that you never have to prepare a spell from the divination school, and there are some really great scouting abilities you can gain from those spells. The coolest ability, to me, is Wispy Form. This gives you DR 10/magic and the effects of greater invisibility for a number of rounds per day equal to your level, and this invisibility is immune to the invisibility purge spell. Awesome!
Airy Step: While this feat isn’t that amazing on its own (just a +2 on saves against electricity attacks and ignoring 30 feet of falling damage), it’s a gateway to the excellent Wings of Air feat, so it’s gonna be worth taking for many characters.
Cloud Gazer: This is one of my favorite racial feats in the game, and can be seriously exploited if used correctly. You get the ability to see completely through nonmagical fogs, mists and clouds. Even better, though, is that you can see three times as far in magical mists, such as an obscuring mist spell. Normally, you can only see 5 feet through the spell, but this lets you see up to 15 feet though. If you stand 10 feet from the edge of the effect, you’re invisible to everyone else but can see perfectly yourself. Now, you can safely throw out any ranged attack, even getting sneak dice if you have them, and have no chance of being seen. Awesome!
Elemental Jaunt: All four of the elemental-touched races can choose this feat, and while it’s a powerful ability, I don’t think it’s worth using a feat slot on for most characters. If your sylph is a spellcaster, she should eventually have access to this spell anyway, and if she’s not a spellcaster, you’re going to want to use your feats on combat abilities and let the caster of the group worry about things like plane shifting. Overall, this just isn’t going to be an optimal choice.
Inner Breath: Being immune to inhaled poisons is nice, but this is generally too situational to be worth a feat for most characters.
Wings of Air: A supernatural fly speed at 9th level is AWESOME, and most sylph characters should probably try to make this their 9th level feat. You also get a boosted bonus against electrical attacks. This is definitely worh a feat for almost everyone!
Tengu are a crow-like humanoid race who are described as keeping to themselves, not normally becoming part of other humanoid societies. They’re wise but physically weak, so they make good Monks, Rogues and Gunslingers.
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, -2 Constitution. These bonuses are practically begging for a Gunslinger build, and as you’ll see later, tengu Gunslingers don’t disappoint. For classes that really need Constitution, such as frontline tank Barbarians, these guys aren’t hte best.
Type: Tengu are humanoids with the tengu subtype, so nothing special here.
Size: Tengu are the same size as humans.
Speed: Tengu move the same speed as humans.
Sneaky: A +2 bonus to two great skills, Perception and Stealth, is always welcome. You don’t even have to worry about trading this away, since none of the alternate racial traits replace it!
Gifted Linguist: This ability can come in handy for a party face-type character who needs to learn a ton of languages, but for most characters Linguistics never comes up. I’d trade this one away for Glide (see below) for most character builds.
Swordtrained: Like many other races that gain racial weapon proficiencies, characters that will be often using swords will have the proficiencies already from their classes, so I’d trade this one away for Claw Attack or Exotic Weapon Training for most builds. This includes a lot of weapons in the proficiency list, but most of the ones you’d want you can get with the Exotic Weapon Training ability instead.
Natural Weapon: Tengus have a natural bite attack that can come in handy in a pinch. It only deals 1d3 damage, but it can be increased with feats if you’d like to use it a lot.
Low-Light Vision: We’ve talked about this a lot before, it’s just not going to come up as often as Darkvision will.
Carrion Sense (Gifted Linguist): I can’t see this being a very useful ability except in very specific situations, and since it says that the tengu can smell corpses and badly injured creatures, that means this doesn’t work on undead as written, so it’s not even that helpful for a Paladin or Cleric.
Claw Attack (Swordtrained): For a character who doesn’t want to have weapons out all the time such as a spellcaster, this is a much better option than the Swordtrained ability. Tengu are already always considered armed thanks to their beak attack, but having a claw to throw around when needed is even better.
Exotic Weapon Training (Swordtrained): This is a great option for any martial class, since they get to pick 3 + Int bonus new weapons to be proficient in, which is worth that many feats! Seriously great option, so take it if you’re not a caster, and even some casters might want it!
Glide (Gifted Linguist): This is an excellent option for any character who isn’t worried about knowing more languages, so I forsee this one being taken a LOT.
Alchemist: There aren’t any specific pluses or minuses to a tengu becoming an Alchemist, so this is a decent choice.
Barbarian: The penalty to Constitution really hurts your rage rounds per day and hit points, so personally I wouldn’t choose this. The favored class bonus is also fairly lackluster unless you’re specifically going for a caster-buster Barbarian.
Bard: A bonus to Dex is usually pretty helpful for a Bard, but otherwise this isn’t really a good or bad choice, it’s just an option.
Cavalier [Samurai]: I have a lot of trouble imagining a tengu Cavalier, charging in on a horse and attacking with a lance or sword. The Constitution penalty doesn’t help with that, either, but otherwise there’s nothing inherently WRONG about being a tengu Cavalier. A Samurai is a more reasonable choice, since the Dexterity bonus will help with ranged attacks from atop your steed.
Cleric: A bonus to Wisdom makes for a good Cleric, and there is the Feather domain for thematic awesomeness. This is a good option, overall.
Druid: As with the Cleric, the Wisdom bonus makes for a decent spell-focused Druid, and thematically there are several different bird companions to choose from. The Eagle Shaman archetype might be a good thematic choice, too.
Fighter: Despite the penalty to Constitution, the ability to pick a bunch of exotic weapons for proficiencies is REALLY good for a Fighter, and gives you a good reason to make a very intelligent Fighter, possibly picking up the Lore Warden archetype to synergize with that. I also like the Aldori Swordlord archetype to go along with the whole “tengu are good with swords” thing. The favored class option is lackluster, only giving a bonus to two specific types of combat maneuver.
Gunslinger: This is an excellent option for a tengu, thanks to bonuses to both Dex and Wisdom. The Con penalty won’t hurt you much as long as you keep out of melee. You’ll want to take either the Musket Master or Pistolero archetypes, as they’re both better than the vanilla Gunslinger.
Inquisitor: A tengu can make a great Inquisitor for the same reasons that they can be a good Cleric or Druid. With the tengu racial Stealth bonus, and possibly also grabbing the Long-Nose Form feat, I can imagine a tengu making a great Infiltrator.
Magus: Nothing really keeps a tengu from making a good Magus except for the Constitution penalty, since almost all Magi have to enter melee. Obviously the Myrmidarch archetype fixes that problem, so that’s always an option.
Monk: With a Wisdom bonus and natural attack options as well as proficiencies with exotic weapons available, tengu Monks can turn out very well. If you’d like to make use of your beak attack, you’ll want the Blood Beak feat as well as Feral Combat Training so that you can use your natural weapons as part of Flurry of Blows. The favored class option is nice, giving you an extra ki point every four levels.
Oracle: The Oracle isn’t as good of a choice for a tengu because of the lack of a Charisma bonus, but the racial archetype, the Shigenjo, makes up for that by being flavorful and crazy-awesome. You replace the Oracle’s 7th-level revelation with a ki pool. The number of points in your pool is determined by your Charisma modifier (unless you multiclass with Monk, in which case you get to choose either Cha or Wis). This is a great option, and I really love this archetype. The favored class option is also excellent, treating your Oracle as +1 level higher for every two class levels when determining her Oracle’s Curse abilities.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: This is just overall an oddball choice for a tengu. No Strength, Con, or Charisma bonuses, and in fact a Con penalty, just makes the Paladin a bad idea for a tengu.
Ranger: A tengu Ranger makes a lot of sense, and the Wisdom bonus helps make it powerful. The racial bonus to Survival helps, too, and the favored enemy ability just makes perfect sense thematically for a race that is known for “keeping to themselves”. The Falconer archetype makes perfect sense.
Rogue [Ninja]: Between the tengu’s natural Stealth bonus, a beak natural attack that can come out of nowhere when the time is right, and their racial archetype, the Swordmaster, the Rogue is just an awesome choice for a tengu. The favored class bonus is also excellent, giving you +1 per two levels bonus on critical hits with a specific type of sword.
Sorcerer: There’s nothing going either for or against a tengu Sorcerer, so if you’re interested, have at it!
Summoner: Like the Sorcerer, there’s nothing that really says a tengu can’t make a great Summoner, but there’s also nothing specifically positive about it either.
Witch: Keeping with the trend, tengus are always just going to be mediocre Witches. They are just so much better at divine casting!
Wizard: Same thing here, stick with a divine caster if you want to be optimal!
Barbarian: I am not a huge fan of the Superstition rage power. I recognize that it boosts your saves significantly, but I don’t think that it’s worth the tradeoff of having to make a save against even beneficial spells cast by your party members. That being said, if you like Superstition, this favored class option boosts it, so it’s a no brainer.
Fighter: If this bonus was just a straight +1 to CMD every level, I’d go for it with no questions asked, but I just can’t sacrifice a hit point for a +1 only against grapples and trips.
Monk: If you’re making a tengu Monk, definitly take this option at every level, netting you a total of 5 extra ki points!
Oracle: The Oracle’s Curse class feature ramps up slowly, so being able to get to the really good abilities earlier is a great option. Take this at every level until you max out your effective level at 15 (that’d be 10th level, for those of you who don’t want to do the math) and then take a hit point after that.
Rogue: Bonuses on critical hit confirmations can come in very handy, especially if you pick a weapon that has a wide crit range. This is a good option.
Sorcerer: If you like your 1st-level bloodline power, you can use it more often! However, most 1st-level bloodline powers aren’t super exciting, and you might be better off with a skill or hit point each level.
Witch: This one’s a trap, you can always buy more spells for your Witch. Ignore!
Shigenjo (Oracle): This is a fun, flavorful archetype that gives you a ki pool that you can use to augment your magic, including increasing your effective level for your Oracle’s Curse by 5! The spells you learn are very nice, and the capstone ability is just full of awesome. Overall this is a great archetype!
Swordmaster (Rogue): Trap Sense is one of the most-often traded out Rogue abilities, for good reason... it just doesn’t come up that often, and your Perception should be high enough to see most traps anyway. The Swordmaster does away with Trap Sense, replacing it with a really nice array of abilities that are reminiscent of a Monk’s ki abilities, but are tracked more like a Barbarian’s rage. I especially like Tiger Trance, which is the earliest way of getting a pounce-like ability that I’ve found in the game so far.
Blood Beak: This feat is great for any tengu who wants to make use of his beak as a truly deadly weapon. It increases the damage dealth by the tengu’s bite attack by two damage dice (1d3->1d6) and causes bleed damage on a critical hit. This is a situational feat, but a nice option for some builds.
Carrion Feeder: If you’re expecting to run into either disease or poison in your food a lot, this might be a decent choice, but the bonuses are just too situational for me to recommend it.
Long-Nose Form: This is a very weird ability, but when it comes right down to it it’s a 1/day second-level spell that can be used for infiltration, and it gives you a +2 to Strength, so it’s probably worth a feat slot for some characters, but definitely not all.
Scavenger’s Eye: How often are you going to need to figure out what the most valuable item in a hoard is? Not often. Ignore this one.
Tengu Raven Form: While this does require two feats to get to, it’s a pretty excellent ability for anyone other than a Druid. There aren’t many other ways for a non-spellcaster to turn into a Large bird and fly around for several minutes. I like this one.
Tengu Wing: A fly speed once per day at 5th level doesn’t seem that exciting, but for a non-spellcaster it’s pretty sweet. This is really just a gateway into the much better Raven Form feat, though.
Tieflings have a demon or other evil outsider in their family history, and this can cause them some social problems dealing with others, as there is the assumption of evil or deciet on their part. However, Tieflings are as varied as humans, as evidenced by their total of eleven different heritages to choose from!
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma. Thanks to these bonuses, they make excellent Alchemists, Rogues, Witches and Wizards. They can also make decent Sorcerers thanks to the Fiendish Sorcery ability, which makes up for the Charisma penalty.
Type: Tieflings have the Outsider (native) type, which is actually pretty detrimental, since this means you can’t cast any spells that affect only humanoids on them, such as enlarge person. However, it also means they’re not affected by spells that negatively affect humanoids, such as charm person, so it’s a double-edged sword.
Size: Tieflings are the same size as humans.
Speed: Tieflings move at the same speed as humans.
Fiendish Resistance: Starting off with resistance 5 to three different elements is excellent, and it means that they can go up against spellcasters with a little less worry than some humanoid races.
Skilled: A +2 to Bluff and Stealth are decent, and are obviously very good for a Rogue. For other characters, they’re not quite as useful.
Spell-Like Ability: Tieflings can use darkness once per day, which obviously can be very helpful for a Rogue or other stealthy character. It can also save your butt as a caster in a pinch, so this is a good choice.
Darkvision: I’ve talked about darkvision before, and how I think it’s worth much more than low-light vision is. This is very helpful.
Fiendish Sorcery: A Tiefling isn’t the best with Charisma, but this helps a lot with making a Tiefling Sorcerer a valid option. Of course, if you’re not planning to play a Sorcerer, this is totally useless.
Asura-spawn: This is a great heritage for a Monk, Gunslinger or armor-light Cleric, with the +2 to Dex and WIsdom, and the penalty to Intelligence won’t really affect either of those classes.
Daemon-spawn: With a boost to Intelligence and Dex, a bomber Alchemist or a Rogue are your best options. The racial skill boosts also make sense for a Rogue (Disable Device and Sleight of Hand).
Demodand-spawn: I imagine a Demodand-spawn Tiefling as a Barbarian or Druid, a bit wild and not interested in book-smarts but tough and passionate, due to having bonuses to Con and Wisdom. Having bear’s endurance as a spell-like ability is a huge boost for any non-caster, so I really like this one as a Barbarian.
Demon-spawn: A Demon-spawn is a born Antipaladin, with boosts to Strength and Charisma and a racial bonus to Perception (the best skill in the game). He can also make for an excellent Paladin, and you can role-play it that he is trying to redeem himself in the eyes of a good deity despite his fiendish heritage.
Devil-spawn: With boosts to Con and Wisdom, I imagine a Druid or Cleric would work very well. I find it interesting that one of the racial skill bonuses is Diplomacy, even though there’s a Charisma penalty.
Div-spawn: A bonus to Dexterity and Charisma makes Div-spawn excellent Ninjas, Sorcerers, Summoners and Oracles. Diplomacy and Linguistics probably are more useful for party-face type characters, and the spell-like ability, misdirection, seems perfect for a Ninja.
Kyton-spawn: Bonuses to Con and Charisma make for an incredibly good Paladin, and the Wisdom penalty won’t hurt much since Paladins have some of the best saves in the game. Intimidate will be a useful skill bonus for you, too.
Oni-spawn: Strength and Wisdom bonuses can give you a strong advantage as a melee Ranger or an Inquisitor, though most skills that an Inquisitor need will hurt from the Charisma penalty. I like Disguise and Intimidate as skill bonuses for a Ranger, and alter self will help out even more when you’re trying to infiltrate an enemy group.
Qlippoth-spawn: With the same ability bonuses as Oni-spawn, these Tieflings will also make great Rangers or Inquisitors, and with an Intelligence penalty instead of Charisma, they’ll also make for extremely good Clerics. The skill bonuses lend toward the Ranger, though, and blur is a great spell to have available in a dangerous situation.
Rakshasa-spawn: Rakshasa-spawn get bonuses to Dexterity and Charisma, so they are obviously meant to be Ninjas or Rogues. The Wisdom penalty will hurt your Will saves, so you might consider investing in the Iron Will feat to make up for that. The skill bonuses are also perfect for a sneaky Ninja, and detect thoughts can come in very handy when scouting.
Beguiling Liar [Skilled]: This is a pretty good option for a diplomat-style character who needs to tell a little while lie (or a whopper) every once in a while. However, this is still a +4 situational bonus as opposed to two +2 all-the-time bonuses, so I don’t recommend it.
Fiendish Sprinter [Skilled]: A 10-foot bonus to base speed is nothing to scoff at, though this one only works when charging or sprinting. For a Scout Rogue, this is an incredibly good choice.
Maw or Claw [Spell-like ability]: This option can give you either a bite attack or two claws. Of the two options, I find the bite to be more useful since you can still wield weapons with both hands.
Prehensile Tail [Fiendish Sorcery]: I like this option for an Alchemist (to carry a weapon, a bomb, and a shield, for example) or for a Cleric (you can use the tail to brandish your holy symbol). Most characters won’t find this extremely useful, though for any non-Sorcerer this is still better than Fiendish Sorcery.
Scaled Skin [Fiendish Resistance]: This is a decent choice, especially for a Rogue who will be gaining Improved Evasion eventually, since those characters will usually not take damage from energy-based spell damage anyway. The +1 to AC from natural armor is helpful to pretty much any character, however. I like this one.
Soul Seer [Spell-like ability, Fiendish Sorcery]: For a non-Sorcerer character, anything’s better than an ability you can’t use, but deathwatch isn’t very exciting in general, so I’d generally suggest sticking with darkness and grabbing the Prehensile Tail over this one.
Vestigial Wings [Skilled]: For a Witch, Wizard, or Sorcerer, a +4 to Fly is likely going to be better for you than the normal racial skill bonuses, so I like this one for an arcane caster.
Alchemist: With the Alchemist’s reliance on Intelligence, either the standard Tiefling or the Daemon-spawn will do quite nicely, and both of them also boost Dexterity, so your bombs are going to be hitting more often. Really, it’s just up to you whether a penalty to Charisma or Wisdom would make the most sense for your character. I would suggest picking up the Prehensile Tail alternate racial option in place of Fiendish Sorcery, as having an extra limb to retrieve things like potions and extracts can be very handy, especially for a bomber Alchemist. Make sure to pick up the favored class bonus, which adds +1/2 damage per level to your bombs!
Barbarian: There are lots of good options for a Barbarian Tiefling, basically any heritage that gives you a boost to either Strength or Con will work. To also help with Intimidate checks, I would personally choose the Kyton-spawn, as the web spell-like ability can also come in very useful in a pinch. I also like the Demodand-spawn for a free casting of bear’s endurance once per day. You’ll definitely want to replace the skill bonuses with Fiendish Sprinter, since a fast Barbarian is usually a more deadly Barbarian. Scaled Skin may also be a good choice for you, as starting off with a natural armor bonus can help offset the penalty to AC from your rage.
Bard: The only really decent option for a Bard is the Rakshasa-spawn, but it’s a very good option. The skill bonuses are great for a party-face style Bard, detect thoughts for free once per day is excellent, and Rakshasa are charming so it fits thematically too. You may consider the Beguiling Liar alternate racial option, as a +4 to Bluff is pretty huge. You also may as well pick up Prehensile Tail.
Cavalier [Samurai]: None of the Tiefling heritages really jumps out at me as being great for a Cavalier or Samurai, so I would say go with a different race for them.
Cleric: Qlippoth-spawn Tieflings fit for a Cleric better than the others, with a bonus to Wisdom and no penalty to Charisma. You might want to consider the Soul Seer alternate racial option, since knowning if your teammates are about to die can be very helpful. The favored class option would only be useful in an outsider-heavy campaign, so if you plan to fight a lot of angels or demons, this is the way to go.
Druid: Any of the heritages that boost Wisdom will work well for a Druid, though you probably won’t want to have a penalty to Charisma so that you can use Handle Animal on your companion. The Maw or Claw alternate racial option could work well to give your Druid a more bestial feel and to have some natural weapons available outside of Wild Shape. The favored class option is alsmost useless, so ignore it.
Fighter: Fighters can be so diverse that it depends on what you want to do with your Fighter when deciding which heritage to pick. My favorite option is a standard Tiefling who focuses on ranged attacks, using the Lore Warden Fighter archetype to get tons of excellent class skills.
Gunslinger: The Asura-spawn Tiefling gives you a bonus to both Dexterity and Wisdom, the Gunslinger’s main stats. The Prehensile Tail alternate racial option is PERFECT for a Gunslinger, since you can use the tail to hold a gun while you reload it, and that gives it the highest rating! I also imagine the Beguiling Liar option could be useful for some Gunslingers.
Inquisitor: Oni-spawn and Qlippoth-spawn should work pretty well as Inquisitors, and the Beguiling Liar alternate racial option definitely makes sense for them also. The favored class bonus is pretty excellent, boosting both Intimidate checks and Knowledge checks to identify creatures.
Magus: The standard Tiefling or the Daemon-spawn would work pretty well for a Magus. You’ll probably want the Scaled Skin and Vestigial Wings alternate racial options, and the favored class bonus is excellent, giving you extra arcane points!
Monk: For a Strength-based Monk, Oni-spawn or Qlippoth-spawn are excellent, and for a Dex-based one you’ll want to take Asura-spawn for sure. Fiendish Sprinter will give you even more speed when charging, so I’d definitely also take that option. There’s no racial favored class option here, so just take the extra hit point at every level.
Oracle: Div-spawn, Kyton-spawn, and Rakshasa-spawn all boost your Charisma, so any of those three will work out well. The Soul Seer alternate racial option makes sense for an Oracle, so you might want that one.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: The Kyton-spawn makes perfect sense for a Paladin or Antipaladin, thanks to the Con and Charisma boosts. You’ll likely want the Scaled Skin option to get some natural armor bonus, and the Paladin favored class bonus is excellent, allowing you to heal yourself for more damage when using Lay on Hands on yourself.
Ranger: Oni-spawn or Qlippoth-spawn make for great melee Rangers, and the Maw and Claw racial option works superbly with the natural weapon Ranger. Scaled Skin probably makes sense too, as does Fiendish Sprinter. There’s no Ranger favored class bonus, so a skill point or hit point at each level will have to do.
Rogue [Ninja]: Daemon-spawn, Rakshasa-spawn, or even standard Tieflings all make excellent Rogues, and Rakshasa-spawn is the clear winner for a Ninja. The Prehensile Tail and Beguiling Liar options both make a lot of sense, and if you’ll be going up against a lot of outsiders you’ll want to take the favored class option, which boosts your sneak attack damage against them.
Sorcerer: Standard Tieflings aren’t made to be Sorcerers thanks to their penalty to Charisma, but if you take Rakshasa-spawn instead you can make excellent use of the Fiendish Sorcery racial trait, effectively getting ANOTHER +2 to Charisma for all your Sorcerer abilities if you choose either Abyssal or Infernal (or the Wildblooded versions, Brutal or Pit-Touched). If you like the 1st-level power of your bloodline, you could pick up the favored class bonus so that you can use it more times per day. Note that if you choose the Abyssal bloodline and want to use natural weapons often, you could grab the Maw or Claw racial option to get a bite attack in addition to your claws.
Summoner: Either Div-spawn or Rakshasa-spawn will work out pretty well for a Summoner, and I’d like to suggest talking to your GM about the idea of having a non-human-heritage Tiefling (see the sidebar here), either half-halfling or half-gnome so that you can be of small size, and ride your Eidolon from level 1. The Summoner favored class option is nice, allowing you to give your Eidolon an extra hit point per level instead of yourself.
Witch: Standard Tieflings or Daemon-spawn can both work very well for a Witch, and the Soul Seer alternate racial option is thematic for a Witch, so I’d pick that one up. The Vestigial Wings alternate racial option also makes sense for a Witch. The Witch favored class option is pretty nice, giving your familiar resistance to an energy type, up to 5 for all four energy types at 20th level.
Wizard: Standard Tieflings or Daemon-spawn can both work very well for a Wizard, and given how much Wizards like to fly, the Vestigial Wings alternate racial option would make a lot of sense. If you like the first-level arcane school power for your school, then you’ll probably want to take the favored class option to add to your uses per day of that power.
Alchemist: Adding to your bomb damage is a great choice (unless you’re going for a melee Alchemist, in which case this is useless).
Cleric: If your campaign will include a lot of fights against outsiders, you’ll want to pick this one up, but in a campaign that doesn’t involve a lot of outsiders (like PFS) you will want to ignore this.
Druid: +1 on Wild Empathy would be cool if it worked on all animals, but this bonus only works on fiendish animals, which you just won’t run into very often.
Inquisitor: Inquisitors are basically made to Intimidate and know information about creatures they’re fighting, so a favored class bonus to both of those things is really good.
Magus: More arcane points means more spell recall and more enhancement bonuses to your weapons, so this is a great option.
Paladin: This option is sort of self-obsessive for a Paladin, but more healing on yourself is always good. Note that this option doesn’t work for an Antipaladin, as they get Touch of Corruption instead.
Rogue: Like the Cleric favored class bonus, this one only works against outsiders, so if you’re going to be seeing a lot of them, it’s great, but otherwise it’s useless.
Sorcerer: The corrupting touch and claws powers aren’t that great for a casting-focused Sorcerer, but for a melee-focused sorcerer this can let you use them more often, which can be a decent choice.
Summoner: Summoners generally don’t want to get into battle themselves, so adding hit points to your Eidolon is generally going to be more useful than adding them to yourself.
Witch: I like this option, because generally the only way to get energy resistance for your familiar is to take the Improved Familiar feat, and this ability will in fact work on any type of Familiar, not just celestial or fiendish animals.
Wizard: Arcane school powers are variable and can be pretty useful, so if you like your 1st-level power you’ll want to get extra uses per day of it using this favored class option.
Fiend Flayer: This archetype lets you do a few interesting things, including taking Constitution damage to add to your arcane pool. You can also create a weapon using his arcane pool points, and can also ignore an outsider’s DR by using those points. There are actually no negative repercussions to taking this archetype, since the Infernal Mortification power doesn’t replace any class features, and the other powers are optional magus arcana, so I see no reason at all not to choose this archetype. It’s like getting a free class feature!
Fiendish Vessel: This archetype makes a lot of alterations to the standard Cleric, but overall for an evil character I really like it. You must choose either Asmodeus or a Demon, Daemon, or Devil as your patron deity, and in exchange you can channel evil instead of positive or negative energy, and you gain a fairly powerful fiendish familiar, which is a great bonus! This archetype has a few restrictions that it adds, but overall it’s pretty cool.
Arcane Trickster: I like the Arcane Trickster for a Rakshasa-spawn Tiefling who takes levels in Sorcerer and Ninja, since the Infernal Sorcery racial trait will boost his Charisma for all Sorcerer spells and abilities, making the decrease in caster level from multiclassing less painful.
Aspis Agent: A standard-heritage Tiefling Rogue can make for a really sweet Aspis Agent, taking advantage of the Beguiling Liar alternate racial option. I really like the Aspis Agent’s class abilities for a party-face, scouting character. He can deal with traps with the best of them, and can mask his alignment from those around him.
Blackfire Adept: The fluff for this archetype just screams Tiefling Master Summoner to me, with its ability to make pacts with outsiders and summon more powerful creatures of that type. This archetype is only open to non-good characters, but it’s powerful and thematic, so I like it a lot.
Ancestral Scorn: This is an excellent feat for a Tiefling Paladin, Cavalier or Inquisitor, causing an evil outsider to be sickened (or even nauseated) instead of just shaken when you demoralize them.
Armor of the Pit: For a Tiefling without the Scaled Skin racial trait, this is an excellent choice, giving you a +2 bonus to natural armor. However, if your Tiefling does have the Scaled Skin racial trait, it instead leaves him or her with just the +1 natural armor bonus from that trait, and reinstates some of the energy resistances she gave up for that trait. Optimization-wise, it actually makes more sense to NOT take Scaled Skin and take this feat, which will give you the same energy resistances but a higher natural armor bonus.
Banner of Doom: This feat is meant for Cavaliers, obviously, and for a Cavalier that uses Intimidate to demoralize his enemies, it can be a huge boost. A -2 to saves against fear effects will let you demoralize those enemies a lot more often.
Blinding Sneak Attack: For a Tiefling Rogue or Ninja, this is an excellent option. You can cast your darkness spell-like ability the first round of combat, then deal some sneak attack damage that blinds your opponents, denying their Dex to AC.
Expanded Fiendish Resistance: If you really don’t want to take energy damage, this feat could be useful, however I feel like it’s not worth a feat when you can instead buy an enhancement on your armor that gives you better energy resistance for 18,000gp.
Fiendish Darkness: Being able to use darkness more often could be useful, especially if you have the Blinding Sneak Attack feat, but is it really worth a feat when you could get a wand of it or some potions instead?
Fiendish Facade: A +5 bonus to Disguise is pretty situational, and this only works for impersonating one type of race. For a sneaky Rogue or Ninja, this might be worth looking into, but otherwise I’ll stay away.
Fiendish Resilience: For a Rogue or Ninja, this could be a pretty excellent choice. A bonus to Reflex saves when using your evasion ability is REALLY good, so take this.
Fiend Sight: At first, this feat looks fairly low-powered, just adding low-light vision and extending your darkvision. However, if you take this feat twice, you gain the see in darkness monster ability, which means you could cast have deeper darkness cast around you and you can still see perfectly well through it!
Fury of the Tainted: This is a feat meant for a Barbarian, and it gives him a bonus to saves with the [good] descriptor. Obviously, this is best for an evil character who fights a lot of good spellcasters or outsiders, and so I don’t find this the most useful feat for most characters.
Grasping Tail: This feat essentially gives you the same ability as the prehensile tail racial ability, and if you already have that, it allows you to pick up unattended items within 5 feet, which can be useful but isn’t the best ability out there.
Improved Fiendish Darkness: This feat is a strange one, giving you a +2 to your effective caster level for your darkness spell-like ability. This isn’t going to come up often, and I don’t think that adding your darkness as a swift action to an [evil] spell you cast is that exciting, so I’d stay away from this one.
Improved Fury of the Tainted: Obviously an upgrade for Fury of the Tainted, I think it’s just as useless for most characters as the un-upgraded version is.
Monstrous Mask: This is an excellent option for a Tiefling Paladin, Cavalier, or Inquisitor, and can be combined with Ancestral Scorn and Banner of Doom, so I like it.
Terrifying Mask: This is a cool ability that builds off of Monstrous Mask and lets you use Intimidate in place of Sense Motive for some checks. For an Inquisitor who builds up Intimidate anyway, this could be very helpful.
Wicked Valor: This feat lets you gain extra hit points when you rest for the night, but there are other ways to get this ability, and honestly a wand of cure light wounds is better than waiting around to heal damage without magical healing, so it’s really not worth wasting a feat.
Undines are planetouched native outsider races with a connection to the elemental plane of water. This means that they are obviously great in aquatic environments, but they’re also not terribly strong. Their bonuses to Dexterity and Wisdom give them an edge at classes like the Rogue and divine casting classes. Undines might actually be my least-favorite race in the whole game, UNLESS you’re playing in an underwater campaign.
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, -2 Strength. The boosts to Dexterity and Wisdom make undines naturally sneaky and excellent at divine casting. With a penalty to Strength, melee builds are tougher, though you can still make a great Dex-based Magus or Monk.
Type: Undines are outsiders with the native subtype, so just like the other planetouched races they can’t be affected by spells and effects that target humanoids, such as enlarge person and charm person, so this is a double-edged sword. .
Size: Undines are the same size as humans.
Speed: Undines have the same base speed as humans on land, and they also have a natural swim speed of 30 feet, which can come in very handy if you fall in a river, or if you’re playing a pirate-themed campaign that involves ships.
Energy Resistance: Cold resistance 5 is great, though if you’re playing a caster you can get higher resistance than this, so don’t put a ton of weight on it.
Spell-like ability: Undines can cast hydraulic push once per day, which puts out fires and lets you perform a bull rush combat maneuver using your caster level plus whichever of your mental stats is highest as your base attack bonus. Pretty nice!
Darkvision: I’ve talked this one to death on other races’ descriptions… it’s excellent, and way better than Low-Light Vision, simple as that.
Water Affinity: Just like the other elemental races, undines get bonuses to powers of the elemental (water) bloodline or the Water domain. The powers of the water bloodline aren’t bad, but the important point here is if you take that bloodline, your Charisma score is treated as if it’s two higher for ALL of your Sorcerer spells and abilities. The water domain isn’t bad, but I think the Ice and Oceans subdomains are probably a bit stronger, and you can choose either of those instead.
Acid Breath (Spell-like ability): Honestly, a 1/day breath weapon taht only has 5 feet of range just isn’t that good. I suppose if you’re a non-spellcaster it could come in handy, but I’m not a huge fan.
Amphibious (Spell-like ability): This option gives your undine the aquatic subtype, which means that she can breathe both underwater and in air. This will obviously be useful in any aquatic campaign. If you choose this abiliy here, you don’t have to use a feat on it later, so it’s a good idea.
Deepsight (Darkvision): This ability replaces your normal darkvision of 60 feet at all times with darkvision 120, but only when underwater. This will obviously be useful in an aquatic campaign, but not one that is mostly on land.
Flesh Chameleon (Energy Resistance): This power is interesting, giving you a +4 racial bonus to Disguise checks to appear human, and allowing for a really cool roleplaying opportunity in the skin-color-changing ability. However, I think that this is generally not going to be as helpful as energy resistance would be, so I can’t rate it very high.
Hydrated Vitality (Water Affinity): Just like the other three elemental races, you can get fast healing 2 for a single round, but unlike the other three races, you don’t need to get hit with a possibly damaging spell to get this. This is obviously going to be even better in a solely aquatic campaign, since you can then essentially turn it on anytime you want to.
Nereid Fascination (Spell-like ability): A fascination ability is very useful for many different characters, and the Will save to ignore it can get crazy high if you focus your character on Charisma, so for a Cha-focused character this is better than the hydraulic push spell-like ability.
Ooze Breath (Spell-like ability): This is similar to the Acid Breath ability, but instead of more acid damage you can instead cause the sickened condition. This is probably not as good as the Nereid Fascination ability, overall.
Terrain Chameleon (Energy Resistance): A bonus to Stealth can come in handy, but since it only works in water this can be very situational unless you’re playing a solely aquatic campaign. The resistance to cold is probably better for most characters.
Water Sense (Energy Resistance): This is a really amazing ability, especially if you’re a caster who can create a small body of water to fight in. I’d probably take this one for most characters in lieu of the cold resistance.
Alchemist: You can make a decent ranged Alchemist out of your undine character, especially if your GM lets you use the Underwater Demolition discovery, which lets you use bombs underwater, though it was written for grippli originally. Don’t try to make a melee mutagen-focused Alchemist, though, since the Strength penalty will severely deter you.
Barbarian: The Strength penalty is definitely a problem here, and there aren’t any racial powers that make up for it at all. I’d say this is suboptimal at best, and possible even a just plain horrible choice.
Bard: Undine Bards get access to a racial archetypes called the Watersinger, and personally I think this is the absolute best thing about being an Undine. At 1st level, you gain the ability to use bardic performance to manipulate water and shape it into all sorts of useful things. The really cool ability comes at 3rd level, however, when you can have that water that you’re controlling attack a creature, and even provide a flanking bonus. This means you can essentially use your bardic performance to summon a creature that is immune to essentially everything, since it’s actually an object (and gains hardness). The damage even increases as you level, from 1d6 plus your Charisma mod at 3rd level up to 2d8 plus your Charisma mod at 20th. The only painful thing about using this ability is that you have to spend an extra round of bardic performance each round in which you attack with the water, but this doesn’t cost you any action at all (maintaining a bardic performance is free) so you’re able to continue doing whatever else you want, including spellcasting or attacking the same creature to get that flanking bonus for yourself.
Cavalier [Samurai]: The penalty to Strength is going to hurt you here, and there’s absolutely nothing else going for you as far as being a Cavalier. You could go for a ranged build, but honestly you’d be better off taking Ranger or Fighter in that case. If you’re in an aquatic campaign, talk to your GM about riding something like a giant seahorse or dolphin, because otherwise the Cavalier class literally does nothing for you.
Cleric: Just like the other elemental races, you can make a very good Cleric if you focus on the Water domain or its subdomains. I personally like the Ice subdomain, which lets you turn to ice for several rounds per day, gaining DR 5/- and cold immunity, but you have to be careful of fire damage. I would suggest combining this with an energy resistance spell against fire of some type. The Oceans subdomain’s surge power is also pretty cool, giving you a replacement for your racial hydraulic push ability that’s usable much more often. Obviously you can switch that spell-like ability out for another option… I’d recommend either Amphibious or Nereid Fascination. Definitely ignore the favored class option. It’s terrible.
Druid: All of the suggestions I made for the Cleric also apply for a Druid, but you also get access to a racial archetype, the Undine Adept. It’s a pretty excellent option for an aquatic campaign, as you gain the amphibious special ability for free, and you also get to apply the effects of Augment Summoning to creatures with the water subtype, so that’s really nice for a summoning-focused Druid. Combine this with Nereid Fascination and Water Sense, and you’ll have a very strong character when in water! The favored class option isn’t bad if you’re in an underwater campaign, but otherwise ignore it.
Fighter: With a Strength penalty, I’d obviously recommend a ranged Fighter build for an Undine. The only painful thing is that ranged combat underwater SUCKS unless you’re willing to invest some serious resources into it, and ranged builds are already resource- and feat-heavy. If you’re not playing in an aquatic campaign this isn’t a problem…. but wait, why are you choosing undine again??
Gunslinger: The same problems exist for an undine Gunslinger as for a ranged Fighter, but you have to spend even MORE money to make it work… you need to at least have a Dry Load Powderhorn or the Dry Load property on your gun or cartriges, which are all super expensive. If you’re not playing underwater, pick another race for your Gunslinger. Seriously.
Inquisitor: I can’t really see any reason to choose Inquisitor over Cleric or Druid at all. That being said, the Wisdom bonus is great, and a ranged build would work very well.
Magus: A Dex-based Magus build would work well here, but without an Int bonus and with a penalty to Strength it’s not going to be ideal.
Monk: An undine Monk could work very well, especially if you take advantage of the Water Sense abiliy as well as the favored class option, which boosts both your CMD to resist a grapple AND gives you more uses of stunning fist per day. Make sure to focus on Dexterity as your main stat. If you aren’t planning to use Stunning Fist, you should instead take the Flowing Monk archetype because… well… it’s flowing! This is probably one of the better builds to use underwater, since melee attacks aren’t affected by water, unlike ranged ones.
Oracle: I absolutely love the concept of an undine Oracle of Waves, as some of the Waves revelations are just amazing (baleful polymorph several times per day at 7th level? Yes, please!) Couple this with Nereid Fascination and you can shut down entire combats all on your own! The deaf curse works very well for aquatic environments as well, since you can’t hear underwater anyway. Combine this with Water Sense, for sure.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: The Strength penalty is definitely detrimental, and in an aquatic campaign you’re not going to enjoy using a horse as a mount. Definitely choose to bond with your wepaon instead. Either way, this is definitely sub-optimal.
Ranger: Ranger is a great choice for an undine, thanks to both the Wisdom bonus and several Ranger abilities that rely on terrain and synergize with racial options that do the same. You’ll definitely want Amphibious, Deepsight, and Terrain Chameleon, for example.
Rogue [Ninja]: A bonus to Dex is obviously good for an undine Rogue, and either Flesh Chameleon or Terrain Chameleon will probably be helpful, depending on what your Rogue focuses on. I also like Water Sense for either a Rogue or, even better, for a Ninja, who can turn invisible and still sense other invisible creatures as long as they are in contact with water.
Sorcerer: As with the other elemental races, undines get a bonus to Charisma when using Sorcerer powers if they take the water elemental bloodline, and they can trade away their racial cold resistance without fear since the bloodline grants better cold resistance at 3rd level. Water Sense is still the best option for that trade. The favored class option is alright, but I don’t find that caster level checks are useful a lot, and being underwater only affects casting for those that can’t breathe water, which your undine will be able to thanks to the Amphibious trait. As far as casting fire spells, you can take the Steam Caster feat to fix that too, but you shouldn’t be trying to cast fire spells underwater anyway… several spells that normally deal fire damage will be cold damage for you thanks to your bloodline.
Summoner: This is a decent option, thanks to the aquatic eidolon base form. You don’t get a Charisma bonus, and the favored class option is only marginally useful, since you shouldn’t often be moving more than 100ft from your eidolon.
Witch: There’s nothing good or bad about this option, and there aren’t really hexes that work better underwater or anything like that, so I don’t have much to say here.
Wizard: I like this mostly because of the favored class option, which lets you add Cleric or Druid spells to your spell list, which is NICE! You’d think that the Water elemental school would be a good choice, but one of the main powers involves gaining a swim speed, and you already have that.
Bard: Countersong is one of the least-used Bard abilities, and you only get a bonus to it when the effect you’re trying to counter comes from an aquatic creature. BOO!
Cleric: You’re not going to have to overcome the spell resistance of aquatic creatures that often. IGNORE!
Druid: In an aquatic campaign, you’ll likely come upon many aquatic animals, so this bonus will be helpful. Obviously if you’re not in water, this is useless.
Monk: Extra uses of Stunning Fist is great, as it can be an encounter-ending ability. Tossing on grapple resistance is just icing on the cake. This is excellent!
Sorcerer: You’re not going to be making checks to cast underwater, since you can breathe underwater. Bad choice!
Summoner: The Life Link ability already has a range of 100 feet, so you really shouldn’t need to make use of this favored class option at all. Take a skill point instead.
Wizard: Adding spells from other spell lists to your own is excellent, and in some cases overpowered by a significant margin. You should take full advantage of this.
Watersinger (Bard): This is an excellent archetype, as it lets you create flank-buddies for yourself or your teammates without having to use spells up. Couple this with the ability to make a ladder or bridge for your party when needed, and possibly sicken or reposition foes from range, and you’ve got a lot of really great options here, even if you’re not going to be in the water during your campaign. In fact, this is probably the only reason I would ever make an undine character, personally.
Undine Adept (Druid): This archetype will make one of the best underwater Druids out there, no question. You don’t need to use either your racial ability or a feat on becoming amphibious, since you get that at 2nd level, and a free Augment Summoning feat is excellent. The later Wild Shape isn’t great, but it’s worth the trade-off.
Aquatic Ancestry: In most cases, you won’t want to use one of your precious feats on this ability, since you can instead just gain it at first level with the Amphibious racial option.
Elemental Jaunt: All four of the elemental-touched races can choose this feat, and while it’s a powerful ability, I don’t think it’s worth using a feat slot on for most characters. If your undine is a spellcaster, she should eventually have access to this spell anyway, and if she’s not a spellcaster, you’re going to want to use your feats on combat abilities and let the caster of the group worry about things like plane shifting. Overall, this just isn’t going to be an optimal choice.
Hydraulic Maneuver: This is an excellent option for casting classes, since you can use this with your spells, not just your once/day racial spell-like ability. Adding either dirty trick or disarm to a spell that already pushes your enemy around is really nice. However, I still like Nereid Fascination more in general, so this can’t be blue for me.
Steam Caster: This feat is nice if you plan to use fire spells underwater, but honestly you shouldn’t need to… there are so many other types of damage that work perfectly well underwater.
Triton Portal: This is an excellent option for non-casters, since it will definitely come in more handy than a single casting of hydraulic push. Summoning a small water elemental doesn’t seem like much, but you can use it for flanking, so it’s worth consideration.
Water Skinned: Umm… just go get a bucket of water. Seriously, this is not worth a feat at all, for anyone.
Gripplis are small-sized humanoids who look like walking frogs. They are rare in Golarion and so not many people see them. Their small size makes them great at hiding (especially in swampy areas). They remind me of poison dart frogs, as some of them can even extrude a poison from their skin!
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, -2 Strength. Grippli are nimble and alert, but a bit physically weak. Like most small-sized creatures, this makes them great at hiding and sneaking up on enemies, as well as spotting traps.
Size: Gripplis are small creatures, so they get a bonus to attack, AC, and Stealth. They aren’t slow like some other Small creatures, so there’s really no negative to having a small size for a Grippli!
Type: Gripplis are humanoids with the grippli subtype.
Speed: Gripplis have a base speed of 30, unlike most small creatures, and they also have a climb speed of 20, so climbing trees and walls is a piece of cake!
Camouflage: In addition to their +4 to Stealth from being small, gripplis also get a +4 racial bonus to Stealth in marshy or forested areas. Since this bonus is dependent on your surroundings, I think that the Toxic Skin alternate racial trait shown below is probably better overall.
Swamp Stride: I don’t know how much you plan to be hanging out in swamps in your campaign, but if you do find yourself in a swamp, your grippli character can ignore nonmagical difficult terrain. Not a very exciting ability, in my opinion, so I would trade it out for Toxic Skin.
Weapon Familiarity: Proficiency with nets can come in extremely handy, since nets are an exotic weapon. This is essentially a free feat!
Darkvision: I’m sure you’re aware by now how I feel about darkvision. It’s good. Case closed.
Glider [Swamp Stride]: This is a pretty cool ability, allowing your grippli character to glide around as she’s falling, and take significantly less damage from the fall. For any non-melee character, this is a pretty decent option, though for melee characters Toxic Skin is too good to pass up.
Jumper [Camouflage]: Replacing a situational bonus to Stealth with the ability to Jump from a standing position is a pretty even tradeoff. I would say if you like this one, grab it, but Toxic Skin is just overall better in my opinion.
Princely [Swamp Stride, Weapon Familiarity]: For a non-martial character who is also playing the party face, like a Sorcerer or Oracle, this is a pretty good option. A +2 bonus to Diplomacy and Intimidate can go a long way in negotiations. You’ll also get proficiency with the rapier, which is a great weapon. If you’re not worried about being poisonous, this is a solid choice.
Toxic Skin [Swamp Stride, Camouflage]: Being able to exude your own poison is pretty excellent, though I do wish that it was usable based on Con modifier instead of just once per day. Six rounds of 1d2 Dexterity damage can be pretty debilitating, and unlike poisons that you buy, the save DC on this one gets better and better as you go up in level. This is a great choice for any melee character.
Alchemist: This is the only class that a grippli gets a racial archetype option for, and it’s an even better option if you picked the Toxic Skin racial trait, because the favored class option gives you more uses of that poison per day! The Bogborn Alchemist archetype replaces Throw Anything with a modified form of mutagen that grants your grippli the amphibious special ability (meaning she can breathe underwater!) and a swim speed of 15 feet. This is great for any aquatic environment, obviously, as well as getting across a fast-moving river. It’s important to note, though, that giving up Throw Anything also means you don’t get to add your Intelligence bonus to thrown splash weapon damage (including bombs) and most bomb-focused alchemists rely on that damage. Instead, I would suggest taking the Vivisectionist archetype to gain sneak attack damage instead of bombs, because of the huge bonuses to Stealth that your grippli will have. You’ll also definitely want to pick up two new Alchemist discoveries written just for grippli Alchemists, Chameleon and Deadly Excretions. Chameleon gives you ANOTHER +4 to your Stealth checks, increasing to +8 at 10th level, and Deadly Excretions makes your racial poison alternately deal Constitution damage instead of Dexterity damage.
Barbarian: A Strength penalty hurts grippli Barbarians (just like gnomes and halflings), and nothing else really says “grippli Barbarians rock!” to me, so I’m gonna say this is a sub-optimal choice.
Bard: Nothing’s really helping or hurting you as a grippli Bard (though the idea of a frog singing makes me all warm and fuzzy inside) so go for it if you want!
Cavalier [Samurai]: Small size doesn’t really lend toward being an excellent melee cavalier, but a ranged build is a different story. If you take the Luring Cavalier archetype, your Dexterity bonus will be very helpful, and I also love the fact that you can combine the Beast Rider archetype with that, so that your grippli Cavalier can ride a thematic mount like a hippo or a giant snapping turtle! If you go the Samurai route, you’re stuck with a pony or wolf, but you can still make a great mounted Samurai!
Druid: Like a Cleric, you’ll get a boost to spellcasting thanks to the Wisdom bonus. I also like the idea of a grippli Druid who rides around on his giant frog companion (with the Jumper feat, of course!).
Fighter: There’s nothing wrong with a grippli Fighter, though you’ll probably want to stick with a ranged build to make use of the Dexterity bonus.
Gunslinger: A grippli can make a very nice Gunslinger, as the Wisdom bonus will help with grit points, and the Dex bonus obviously boosts your attack bonus. I recommend the Pistolero archetype, as it’s flat-out better than the basic Gunslinger.
Inquisitor: Like the Cleric and Druid, the grippli’s racial Wisdom bonus makes the Inquisitor a good choice, and you’ll probably want to use a ranged build to make use of the Dex bonus.
Magus: Without an Intelligence bonus, a grippli isn’t going to be the best Magus out there, and most Magus builds require a decent Strength score as well. One fun option would be to grab the Agile Tongue feat and use it to deliver touch spells instead of your melee weapons.
Monk: A grippli can make for an excellent Dex-based monk, thanks to the bonuses to Wisdom and Dex. I don’t think there are any archetypes that specifically work well for gripplis, but overall gripplis make great Monks.
Oracle: A grippli Oracle of Waves makes thematic sense, but without a Charisma bonus you’re not going to be the most optimal Oracle out there.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: Paladin is one of the worst choices for Grippli, with a penalty to Strength, no bonuses to Con or Charisma, and no archetypes or feats to offset these isssues.
Ranger: A bow-focused grippli Ranger can work out very well, and if you are interested in making the most of your animal companion, grab the Beastmaster archetype and take the giant frog companion!
Rogue [Ninja]: With the grippli’s insane bonuses to Stealth, grippli Rogues are almost as good at being sneaky as goblins are! Make sure to Toxic Skin racial trait and make use of that poison on your sneak attacks. The Chameleon archetype fits VERY well with a gripply who spends a lot of time in the swamps, so that’s one great option. You’ll probably want the Agile Tongue feat so that you can use Sleight of Hand checks and steal or disarm maneuvers from up to 10 feeet away!
Sorcerer: Grippli Sorcerers can work just fine, though there’s not really anything good or bad about this option. The Aquatic and Verdant bloodlines are both great options for a grippli. Also remember that you can go with the Empyreal bloodline to take advantage of the grippli’s Wisdom bonus.
Summoner: Nothing says a grippli can’t be a good Summoner, but there’s nothing specifically going for you either.
Witch: Same story here as with the Sorcerer and Summoner, there’s nothing saying you can’t make a great grippli Witch, but it’s not optimal.
Wizard: Just like the Witch, no Intelligence bonus means you can make a good, but not optimal, Wizard.
Alchemist: This is a really great favored class option, assuming you picked Toxic Skin as a racial option. You get one more use per day for every four levels of Alchemist you have, and that’s a great bonus!
Druid: Concentration checks don’t come up terribly often unless you run a weird melee-caster combination build, so I’d stick with a hit point instead of this option.
Gunslinger: A bonus to two of your best grit abilities, utility shot or dead shot, is an excellent choice, so I would definitely go with this option.
Rogue: Perception checks are very important for a Rogue, though this only works in a forest or swamp, so if you’re not planning to be in those terrains often, you should take a skill point instead.
Ranger: This option is only useful if you know that you’ll be swimming often, but in that case it’s a really good favored class option.
Bogborn Alchemist (Alchemist, duh): This archetype only actually has one replacement power, which trades out Throw Anything for a swim speed of 15 feet and the ability to breathe underwater when using your mutagen. The real treat here are the grippli discoveries, Chameleon, Deadly Excretions, and Underwater Demolition. That third one doesn’t really interest me much, but Chameleon gives you an additional +4 to Stealth, and Deadly Excretions lets you alter your racial poison to deal Constitution damage, so both of those are excellent choices.
Agile Tongue: I like this feat, because it gives you a bunch of different options for things that you can do from 10 feet away, including delivering touch spells (both offensively and defensively!). Grippli Rogues will also like the idea of making Sleight of Hand checks to steal items from 10 feet away... wow!
Ktisune are fox-people, and while that may conjure the dreaded “furry” hatred from some players, they are actually a lot of fun and can be very powerful if built correctly. Their physical weakness is more than made up for by agility and friendliness, and as you’ll see soon, they can make some of the best spellcasters out there!
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, -2 Strength. Ktisune are agile and likable, but not very strong, and that makes them ideal as Charisma-based spellcasters and ranged combatants.
Size: Kitsune are the same size as humans.
Type: Kitsune are humanoids with the kitsune and shapechanger subtypes. Surprisingly, “shapechanger” is not a current legal option for Ranger favored enemy, so you don’t need to worry about that (a Ranger would have to pick humanoid (kitsune) to affect you). It’s also worth mentioning that the shapechanger subtype allows a kitsune to use a standard action to remove any detrimental polymorph effect from themselves, which could come in quite handy. However, this could actually be a double-edged sword, because if you already have a helpful polymorph spell cast upon you (like aspect of the bear or others) and you use your kitsune change shape ability, you lose the effects of that spell. You also can’t have polymorph spells cast on you when you are in human or fox form without first reverting to your native kitsune form.
Speed: Kitsune move as fast as humans.
Agile: Kitsune get a +2 racial bonus on Acrobatics checks, which is definitely useful for Kitsune rogues and ninjas, or even for any character who wants to move around the battlefield without being smacked.
Change Shape: You get a limited shapechange ability, allowing you to turn into a specific human, giving you a +10 on Disguise checks. The only thing that this doesn’t give you is a boost to any ability scores, which stinks, but it’s a great ability that can be used as a swift action if you pick up Swift Kitsune Shapechanger. Note that while you use this ability to turn human, you can’t have any other polymorph effects cast on you!
Kitsune Magic: A +1 to the DC of enchantment spells and dancing lights three times per day doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re building an enchantment-master, you’ll love that extra +1. This is blue for spellcasters, orange for everyone else.
Natural Weapon: Kitsune have a bite attack that deals 1d4 damage, which can be useful to allow for flanking without taking up hands with pesky weapons. If you are hoping to make use of the Vulpine Pounce feat, you’ll be happy that you have this extra bite attack at the end of a charge.
Low-Light Vision: Once more, I prefer darkvision to this, but it can come in handy sometimes.
Fast Shifter [Kitsune Magic]: This racial trait is an outright trap, since there is a feat that you can take that is in all ways better, Swift Kitsune Shapechanger, which allows you to use your shapechange ability as a swift action, whereas this alternate trait only allows it as a move action. The only reason you might want this trait is if you plan to shift in combat before you can get BAB +6, which the feat requires. The only reason to take this alternate trait is if you’re a non-spellcaster with a Charisma score less than 11, in which case there’s nothing at all to lose by choosing this option.
Gregarious [Agile]: This is too situational to give up a flat +2 to Acrobatics, in my opinion. If this also included a bonus to Diplomacy checks, I’d give it a much higher rating.
Alchemist: A kitsune can make an excellent bomb-focused Alchemist, though you won’t want to try a Jekyl-and-Hyde build thanks to the penalty to Strength. I REALLY wish that the first spell on the list for Magical Tail was charm person, because then I would highly recommend that feat in combination with the Alchemist, since the extract list is devoid of spells that can charm enemies, but as it is, bomber Alchemists are too feat-starved to invest two feats on it.
Barbarian: The penalty to Strength makes Barbarian a sub-optimal choice for a kitsune. Don’t try to go for the Vulpine Pounce feat, since a Barbarian can get a full version of pounce through the Great Beast Totem rage power at the same level. The bite attack can be useful, but that’s also something you can get with a rage power.
Bard: Kitsune make excellent bards, for pretty much the same reasons that elves do. The Charisma bonus helps with spellcasting and bardic performance DCs, and the Dexterity bonus and racial Acrobatics boost are great for moving around the battlefield. Kitsune bards are just BEGGING for the Arcane Duelist archetype, and the Magical Tail feat might be a worthy investment to augment your spells per day. The racial favored class option isn’t terribly good, as it only applies to specific Bluff and Diplomacy checks, so I’d probably take the skill point instead.
Cavalier [Samurai]: I’m imagining a Kitsune Cavalier riding a large wolf into the battlefield, and that fills my heart with awesome. However, it’s not going to be optimal, not by a longshot. Instead, consider going with the Samurai and the mounted archer style build, which would work out much better. I really wish the Beast Rider archetype was compatible with the Samurai, but alas Samurai don’t have Expert Trainer, which is one of the trade-outs for the archetype.
Cleric: There’s just no reason at all to choose Cleric over Oracle as a kitsune. If you really want to play a kitsune Cleric, though, there’s nothing making it a really good or really bad choice, so have at it!
Druid: As with the Cleric, there’s nothing saying you can’t make a fine Druid with your kitsune, but there’s also nothing specific going for you. I do want to point out that the kitsune’s Change Shape ability does synergize well with wild shape, allowing you to turn into animals or a human, when need be. The favored class option is decent, but only works on animals, so it’s situational.
Fighter: Though not optimal for the front-line, a kitsune can make an excellent ranged Fighter thanks to the Dex bonus. You could also focus on your kitsune Fighter’s charismatic nature and toss in Realistic Likeness to become whoever you need to be at any given time. However, if you’re going for that build, go Rogue instead.
Gunslinger: Any race that works well as a ranged Fighter will also work well as a Gunslinger. You might want the Mysterious Stranger archetype to capitalize on your high Charisma (though I’ve been told vehemently that the archetype is beyond weak by some people, I don’t see it that way! :-P)
Inquisitor: Like the Cleric and Druid, this is an okay choice but will never be optimal thanks to the lack of Wisdom bonus. A ranged build will obviously fare better than a melee one, but overall I’d still stick with the Oracle instead.
Magus: Magi rely too heavily on melee combat (except the Myrmidarch, of course) and don’t have very many enchantment spells, so I’d say go with a Sorcerer instead.
Monk: Nothing says a kitsune can’t make a decent Monk, but they don’t have much going for them thanks to the lack of a Wisdom bonus. The Zen Archer is a good option to take advantage of the Dex bonus, but any Dex-based melee build would be fine too.
Oracle: Here is an excellent option for a kitsune, thanks to the Kitsune Magic ability and the Charisma bonus. Of course, you’ll want to choose a lot of enchantment spells known, and the Nature mystery makes a lot of thematic sense. Though the Wolfscarred Face curse would fit perfectly, a 20% chance of spell failure with verbal spells is very painful. You could always be super-munchkinly and take Dual-Cursed, then combine Wolfscarred Face with the Deaf curse, negating the penalty from Wolfscarred Face completely! Stay away from the favored class option, you shouldn’t be using weapons often anyway.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: While the Charisma bonus will help with spells and other DCs, a Strength penalty is painful for most Paladins. You could always go with a ranged Paladin build, which would work out just fine, and the Holy Gun is right up a kitsune’s alley too. Overall, not a bad choice.
Ranger: There’s really nothing good or bad about choosing a Ranger as a kitsune. I like the Infiltrator archetype to go along with the kitsune’s natural shapeshifting, and the Realistic Likeness feat obviously fits well with that also. Overall, this is a fine, if suboptimal, choice.
Rogue [Ninja]: Rogue is an excellent choice for a Kitsune, thanks to their Dex bonus. This class is optimal for the “party face” type Rogue, maxing out Diplomacy and Bluff skills and using those to get out of sticky situations with NPCs. You even have a few new Rogue Talents that were written specifically for the kitsune: False Friend, Obfuscate Story, and Steal the Story. All three of these Talents are completely story-focused and, thus, useless in combat, but they are very flavorful and can make for a character who walks into a smoky bar and instantly makes everyone in the room love her. Kitsune also have their own archetype, the Kitsune Trickster, that also fits the same mold, allowing for limited castings of charm person without needing to use precious spell slots on Magical Tail. As far as combat goes, I also like the Scout archetype for Kitsune, thanks to their natural bite attack and Acrobatics bonus, and you can work your way up to Vulpine Pounce to get a true pouncing ability later on.
Sorcerer: This is the best option for any kitsune, period. Why, you may ask? Simply because of the incredible combination of the racial ability from Kitsune Magic, combined with the favored class option for Sorcerers. Between these two abilities, by 12th level you will have a +4 to the DCs of your enchantment spells, on top of having high DCs in the first place thanks to the Charisma bonus. You are the ultimate charmer, making enemies fall over and worship you in the middle of combat. You can further augment your ability to make enemies do what you want by picking the Fey bloodline, giving you an additional +2 to the DCs of your compulsion spells. Toss in Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus on enchantments and you’ve made the ultimate controller character. You may also want to consider picking up the Threnodic Spell metamagic feat, so that you can affect undead with your enchantments, and Persistent Spell is great to make sure those creatures with high saves are still affected. The Maestro and Rakshasa bloodlines are also very good choices, thanks to synergistic spells and bloodline powers. Your kitsune Sorcerer will also be the ultimate “party face” if you pick up the Realistic Likeness feat, allowing you to turn into any other human that you’ve seen.
Summoner: Given the Sorcerer’s amazing favored class option, and the Summoner’s much more limited spell list, I see no reason to ever pick Summoner over Sorcerer as a kitsune. If you want a combat pet, take the Sylvan bloodline. If you’re REALLY set on being a kitsune Summoner, though, you’ve got a bonus to Charisma to help out with that, and you can definitely be a great “party face” too.
Witch: If you’re going to be an arcane caster as a kitsune, be a Sorcerer. That being said, you can still put together a mean Witch, but the issue here is that your hexes don’t get the benefit of the +1 DC from Kitsune Magic, and you don’t have the Charisma bonus to help with talking your way out of situations, so Sorcerer is just all-around a better choice.
Wizard: Wizard is a slightly better choice than Witch, simply because you’ve got more spellcasting you can do instead of hexes. You’ll definitely want to take the Enchantment school, though I’m not as impressed with either of the subschools available under it. All of the feats that I suggested for the Sorcerer are just as good for a kitsune Wizard, also. Overall, I still suggest choosing Sorcerer instead, but you can make a great kitsune Wizard if the mood strikes you.
Bard: For a “party face” character who plans to use the Realistic Likeness feat to infiltrate enemy territory, a bonus to Bluff is incredibly useful, but for anyone else this is not a good choice.
Druid: Changing a creature’s attitude really isn’t the focus of most Druids, though I suppose you are getting a bonus to spells like charm animals. I’d say this is a decent choice, but you should still be a Sorcerer instead!
Oracle: A kitsune isn’t meant to be a battle Oracle, so this is a trap. Stay away!
Rogue: Extra rogue talents are always a good choice, and you have a few special ones written just for Kitsune, so I say go for it!
Sorcerer: This is possibly the best favored class option in the game, right up there with the elven Oracle’s bonus to class level for a single Revelation. Enchantment spells can easily mean the difference between an overwhelming battle and one that’s a piece of cake, so +1 to DCs every four levels is a REALLY great bonus. Take this option at every level!
Kitsune Trickster (Rogue): This archetype is very simple. It lets you add your Intelligence modifier to Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, and Sense Motive checks, which is excellent, and it lets you cast charm person several times per day as a spell-like ability. Both of these are amazing options for a “party face” Rogue, and you’ll probably want to pay attention to the three rogue talents which were written just for Kitsune (though any Rogue can choose them), False Friend, Obfuscate Story, and Steal the Story. This is a great archetype, and I highly recommend it.
Fox Shape: Unlike the other kitsune Racial feats, I haven’t mentioned this one during the class descriptions. This is because I honestly can see few benefits from taking this feat that you can’t get from the Realistic Likeness feat in most situations. Sure, if you really need to turn into an animal to hide amongst animals, this is the way to do it, but in almost all situations, turning into a specific human that you’ve seen in the past will get you out of trouble just as well, and that feat has no prerequisites so you can take it at first level!
Magical Tail: This is a fun, flavorful feat that not only gives you some limited magical abilities but CAUSES YOU TO GROW MORE TAILS! I mean, come on, how awesome is that? Seriously, though, it does take a lot of feat investment to get into the really excellent spell-like abilities, and remember that your Kitsune Magic bonus to enchantment spells won’t work on these because they’re not technically spells. I could definitely imagine building a Fighter around this feat who could eventually dominate his opponents to fight for him instead of running into combat himself (though most other characters are just too feat-starved to use 8 feats on this).
Realistic Likeness: This feat just blows my mind. I want to know who the designer was who thought that this would be a good idea, and both hug him as a player and kick him in the nads as a GM. By investing only a single feat with no prerequisites other than being a kitsune, you get an unlimited number of casts of alter self per day that breaks the very rules of polymorph spells, which normally don’t allow you to mimic a specific person. This is broken in such an awesome way, and every kitsune should spend a feat slot on this feat, no questions asked.
Swift Kitsune Shapechanger: You know how Realistic LIkeness is really excellent? With the investment of just one more feat, you can use those unlimited casts of alter self as a Swift action instead of a Standard. This means that you could be running away from a bad guy at full speed, turn a corner and change into someone you just saw without even slowing down. Seriously, this is excellent.
Vulpine Pounce: If you’re willing to invest the feats in it, this is one of the easiest ways to get a true pounce ability in the game, and tossing this onto a Scout Rogue is just plain incredible. Now, it’s important to note that this requires base attack +10, so it’ll take 10-15 levels for most characters to get it (and you won’t get it until 20th level if you’re a full spellcaster!) Despite that, this is a great option that I definitely recommend for a Rogue or Fighter (though Barbarians can get their own form of pounce).
Samsarans have a very strange multi-life cycle, in that they are reincarnated automatically after death. They retain a bit of their previous few lives, and this gives a samsaran a bonus to two skills of her choice. Samsarans are therefore versatile and interesting, and one of my favorite of the Pathfinder races.
Ability Scores: +2 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom, -2 Constitution. With bonuses to both Int and Wis, samsarans can make excellent spellcasters of all types. The penalty to Constitution means a samsaran isn’t going to work too well as a Barbarian or other martial class, but their mystical nature means that most samsarans will be spellcasters anyway.
Type: Samsarans are humanoids with the samsaran subtype.
Size: Samsarans are Medium size, just like humans.
Speed: Samsarans move the same speed as humans.
Lifebound: This is a fun ability, giving you a +2 to saving throws against death effects, negative energy effects, negative levels, and stabilization checks. All of these are generally pretty painful if you don’t save against them, so this is a nice option for any character.
Shards of the Past: This is an excellent ability, allowing you to get two skills of your choosing as class skills and get a +2 racial bonus on them to boot. Obviously, one of those skills should be Perception, no matter what class you choose. However, I can’t rate this one blue because the alternate racial trait that replaces it, Mystic Past Life, is just SOO good!
Low-Light Vision: As always, I’ll point out here that many GMs will only pay attention to darkvision, not really worrying about the situations in which low-light vision is useful.
Samsaran Magic: As long as you have a decent Charisma score, you get a few free once-per-day spell-like abilities, none of which are extremely exciting, and all of which are more useful to healer-style characters than others.
Mystic Past Life [Shards of the Past]: This is one of the best alternate racial traits out there, by a long shot. You get to pick a bunch of spells from another spell list to add to your own, as long as that list is of the same type (arcane or divine) as your caster class. This is useful for any casting class, but the best one of all is probably the Witch, as there are so many good spells on the Wizard spell list that Witches don’t get access to.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I have found a post from James Jacobs that includes two rulings on this ability, and so keep that in mind when you’re choosing spells. Here’s the post. The important things to take from it are: 1) You can only choose a SINGLE class from which to pull your spells for Mystic Past Life. So if you choose Sorcerer/Wizard as a Witch, you can’t gain Summoner or Magus spells. 2) You CAN gain a spell at a different level even if it is already on your spell list. In other words, as a Sorcerer, you can choose your spells from the Summoner list to get early access to haste and spells like it, but ALL of your spells chosen for Mystic Past Life must be taken from that same spell list!
Alchemist: An Int bonus gives a samsaran a good chance of making a decent Alchemist, so this is a fine choice. However, this is the one “spellcaster” class that doesn’t have the option of using Mystic Past Life to get spells from other spell lists, so I can’t rate this one too high.
Barbarian: A Con penalty makes for a bad Barbarian, both because of the reduction in rage rounds and the loss of hit points. This just isn’t a great choice.
Bard: There’s nothing that necessarily makes a samsaran either good or bad at being a bard, so go for it if you’d like!
Cavalier [Samurai]: With the penalty to Con and the lack of a Strength or Dex bonus, samsarans don’t make very good Cavaliers or Samurai. All in all, there’s nothing that a samsaran brings to the table as far as these classes.
Cleric: This is a decent choice, thanks to the Wisdom bonus, and of course the Mystic Past Life option lets you pull ridiculously powerful spells from other divine casting classes, such as the Paladin. Spells such as litany of vengeance and bestow grace of the champion (as a 4th level spell!) are extremely powerful for a Cleric!
Druid: Just like the Cleric, a samsaran can make a great Druid, pulling several spells from the Cleric, Paladin, or Ranger spell list, and these can make for a much more diverse Druid than any other!
Fighter: A lack of bonuses to Strength or Dex, and a penalty to Con makes for a pretty crappy Fighter for the most part. You could make a pretty decent Lore Warden with the right build, but otherwise Fighter’s not the right way to go.
Gunslinger: Like the Fighter, a Gunslinger just isn’t any good without a bonus to at least one of the physical ability scores. Stick with something more mystical for your samsaran.
Inquisitor: Here’s another great option for a samsaran, able to add spells from the Cleric, Druid, or Paladin spell list, which can make for a much more powerful Inquisitor than other builds. Any archetypes and inquisitions will work fine for your samsaran Inquisitor.
Magus: A penalty to Con isn’t great for someone who needs to be in melee often, but the Magus isn’t such a bad choice for a samsaran, all things considered.
Monk: The Wisdom bonus helps to make a samsaran Monk a better choice than most other martial classes, but it’s still going to be sub-par, even with a decent racial favored class option. Stick with casters!
Oracle: Now here is a great option, for all the reasons that Cleric or Inquisitor are good choices. Even without a Charisma bonus, a samsaran Oracle is a great choice. There is a racial archetype available, too, the Reincarnated Oracle, which gives you two pretty sweet revelations (I like Location Memories because it gives you a +2 to Perception checks!), and the racial favored class option will let you pick up some more spells from the Cleric list to replace those that you’ve grabbed from the Druid or Paladin lists!
Paladin [Antipaladin]: Without a bonus to Strength or Dex, and with a penalty to Con, you’re never going to make a great Paladin as a samsaran. None of the archetypes will really change this, so like I said earlier, stick with [full] casters!
Ranger: This isn’t much better than the Paladin, for all the same reasons.
Rogue [Ninja]: Another martial class that you just can’t do very well with a samsaran. There is at least a nice favored class option, letting you get an extra rogue talent every six levels, so that’s something!
Sorcerer: While the Sorcerer makes thematic sense, samsarans make better Wizards or Witches thanks to the Int bonus. Sorcerer is by no means a bad choice, though, as you can pick some spells from the Summoner spell list to get earlier than normal (such as haste!).
Summoner: I can’t see any reason you’d pick a Summoner over the Sorcerer, since you can get early access to Summoner spells as any of the other caster classes, and there’s no Charisma bonus. You can pull off a decent Summoner if you really try, though.
Witch: Here we go! This is probably the very best option for a samsaran, for several reasons. First, you should be pulling spells from the Wizard and Summoner spell lists to get early access to spells you wouldn’t normally have ANY access to (such as haste!). You still have full hexing ability, despite your newly expanded spell list, and you’ve got access to healing spells and a familiar to boot!
Wizard: Another excellent choice for a samsaran, Wizards are already the most versatile class in the game when it comes to spellcasting, and grabbing some spells from the Summoner or Witch spell lists is just icing on an already delicious cake. The favored class option is a trap... you can buy spells with gold instead.
Monk: If you’re worried about being hit with death attacks, this is a great option. It’s not a really prevalent thing in most games, but sometimes you just want that extra security. I’d pick it in some games.
Oracle: Normally I’d say pick up some Pages of Spell Knowledge in place of taking this favored class option, but you’re going to want extra spells known because of the spells you learned from the other spell lists, so I’d say this is worth the investment.
Rogue: Extra talents are great for any Rogue, though I wouldn’t go with the Rogue class in the first place as a samsaran.
Wizard: This is a trap, just buy your new spells instead and take a skill point each level!
Reincarnated Oracle (Oracle, duh): This is a decent archetype, letting you take one of the least painful Oracle Curses and in exchange getting access to two really fun revelations. Location Memories gives you scent, a bonus to Perception and Survival, and low-light vision... wait... don’t Samsarans already have low-light vision?? Oh well, it’s still pretty good. Spirit Memories has a confusing description, as it says both “once per day” and has a number of uses per day equal to 3 + Charisma mod. I’m going to assume that the 3 + Cha is the correct amount, and in that case it’s a decent option, letting you sicken and stagger your enemies a bunch of times per day.
Life’s Blood: I can’t see this feat as a good choice when you could, instead, just grab cure light wounds from absolutely any spell class and use a wand. I suppose a Fighter could heal one of his allies to keep them from dying once per day, but there are better ways of doing so (potions of cure light wounds, for instance!)
Wayangs are shadowy little creatures who are relatively rare in Golarion. They’re also the only race that is small size and has no Strength penalty, so they can do some fun things that other small races don’t excel at!
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom. Wayangs are quick and good at reasoning, but not the wisest of the bunch. These scores make Wayangs excellent as Rogues and prepared casters.
Type: Wayangs are humanoids with the wayang subtype, so nothing special here.
Size: Wayangs are small-sized, so their natural stealthiness is even more enhanced from being small! The only bad thing about this is the slow speed.
Speed: Wayangs have a base speed of 20 feet.
Shadow Resistance: Wayangs get an inherent resistance to spells of the shadow subschool, which don’t come up a TON but could come in handy once in a while.
Lurker: A +2 to Stealth is excellent for these guys, making their overall inherent bonuses to Stealth at 1st level a total of +7! (+4 size, +2 racial, +1 Dex). They also get a +2 bonus to the best skill in the game, Perception!
Shadow Magic: Wayang casters get a +1 to the DCs of any shadow school spells that they cast, and get three racial spell-like abilities usable once per day, ghost sound, pass without trace, and ventriloquism, which are all fun if not the most useful spells out there.
Darkvision: Wayangs get darkvision 60, and as I’ve said before, darkvision is the best kind of visoin!
Light and Dark: This is a strange and unique ability, allowing a wayang to be treated as an undead for the effects of positive and negative energy once per day. For a necromancer, this ability could be really useful, so that you can heal yourself along with your undead creatures once per day, but otherwise I can’t really see a huge benefit.
Dissolution’s Child [Shadow Magic]: This ability is strange, because it says you turn into a four-foot tall shadow, but it somehow also works as invisibility? Will this work in bright light? If so, can enemies see where you move in your shadowy form? Despite these questions, for a Rogue or any other non-caster character, this is probably a better option than Shadow Magic.
Alchemist: With their boosts to Int and Dex, a wayang can make a very good bomb-focused Alchemist. You’ll likely want to pick up the Smoke Bomb discovery to give you even more cover when you’re trying to be stealthy.
Barbarian: It’s tough for me to imagine a wayang, with their dark, stealthy nature, turning to the life of a Barbarian. However, with no penalty to Strength or Con, it’s actually not a terrible choice.
Bard: No Charisma bonus means a wayang isn’t ever going to be an optimal choice for a bard, and even their racial archetype, the Shadow Puppeteer, leaves a lot to be desired. The favored class option is cool, letting you add Wizard spells to you list, but I just don’t see it as a realistic option, in the end.
Cavalier [Samurai]: Like the Barbarian, I have trouble imagining a wayang Cavalier. Riding a wolf or other medium animal into battle just seems against their nature. However, this IS the only small race that doesn’t have a Strength penalty, so even though it’s hard to imagine, it could work out quite nicely as long as you build it out correctly. Samurai is a bit better than Cavalier because of the mounted archery abilities.
Cleric: A penalty to Wisdom hurts a spellcaster Cleric build, though a tank-style build would do just fine, and you’ll get a boost to the DCs of your shadow-subschool spells. You’ll definitely want the Darkness domain, and I would suggest the Loss subdomain for the ability to make creatures forget everything they do in an area you designate. Useful for infiltration, that’s for sure!
Druid: Same as for the Cleric, a spellcaster Druid is doing to hurt a little from the Wisdom penalty, but a wild shape focused Druid will do just fine! If you don’t take an animal companion, grab the Darkness domin for sure!
Fighter: With no Strength penalty, a wayang Fighter can do just fine, though a ranged build will benefit from the Dex bonus. Fighters are too variable to really suggest any specific archetypes, so just go with what makes sense for your character concept!
Gunslinger: A wayang can make a fine Gunslinger, thanks to their Dex bonus. However, the Wisdom penalty does hurt your Grit points, so you might want to grab the Mysterious Stranger archetype.
Inquisitor: The Wisdom penalty hurts an Inquisitor more than a Cleric or Druid because it affects other aspects of the character than just the spellcasting. I’d say this is probably a bad choice.
Magus: A sneaky little Dex-based wayang Magus could be absolutely devastating, sneaking up behind an enemy and using a quick shocking grasp through a poisoned blade to paralyze them and damage them all at the same time. I can also imagine the Hexcrafter archetype making a lot of sense for a wayang, because hexes are kinda mean and tricky without being evil.
Monk: The Wisdom penalty definitely doesn’t do anything good for a wayang Monk, so this one’s never going to be optimal. You could probably pull off a decent Martial Artist, but otherwise I’d stay away.
Oracle: Without a Charisma bonus, a wayang Oracle only makes slightly more sense than a wayang Cleric, and none of the mysteries have any good shadow spells. HOWEVER, pay attention to the favored class option, which lets you grab spells from the Wizard spell list, which obviously you’ll want to be shadow subschool spells. This is probably not the BEST option, but it’s certainly not bad!
Paladin [Antipaladin]: The wayang’s natural sneakiness is lost on a Paladin, for the most part, and they don’t have a Charisma bonus, so this isn’t a great option, though it’s probably not the worst one.
Ranger: A ranged-focused wayang Ranger could be super deadly, hiding in the shadows and getting critical hits on her favored enemies. With the Wisdom penalty, you might want to consider going with one of the spell-less archetypes, like the Skirmisher.
Rogue [Ninja]: I think when they wrote this race, the writers said to each other “how can we make the best Rogue out there? Hmm... let’s give them tons of bonuses to Stealth, small size, and no Strength penalty! COOL!” Wayangs were obviously written to be great Rogues, and even better Ninjas since they get their own racial vanishing trick at level 1 (if you take Dissolution’s Child, of course, which you will). Make sure to grab the racial feat, Shadowy Dash. I’m actually surprised there isn’t a racial archetype for the Rogue, given the obviousness of the choice.
Sorcerer: Without a Charisma bonus, you probably aren’t going to be the BEST Sorcerer out there, but the Shadow bloodline is seriously excellent for a wayang, and I’d honestly have trouble choosing between the regular version or the Wildblooded one, Umbral. Shadow gives you an extra Stealth bonus after you cast shadowy spells, which you’ll do a lot of, but Umbral gives you a similar ability as a 1st-level power and increases your caster level by 1 in dim or darker light, so I’ll have to give it to Umbral as the better option. You could always go Crossblooded to get both Umbral and Sage, so that you use Int instead of Cha for your spellcasting, just make sure to purchase Pages of Spell Knowledge to make up for the loss of one spell known per spell level. Don’t forget about the favored class option, which gives your illusion spells extra damage!
Summoner: Again, despite the lack of a Charisma bonus, I find myself rating this as a decent option, mostly because of synergy with some specific Eidolon evolutions. Pick up Shadow Blend and Shadow Form, along with Skilled [Stealth], and your Eidolon is just as stealthy as you, if not more so! Grab a few teamwork feats like Outflank and Precise Strike, and you’ve essentially created a pair of Rogues out of a single character!
Witch: I imagine a wayang Witch being a sneaky little thing, hiding in the shadows and tossing out hexes and shadow spells while her allies pummel their foes. While none of the hexes are specifically good for stealthy characters, evil eye and misfortune work great for anyone. The bonus to Intelligence is obviously helpful for hex and spell DCs, and the Shadow patron is an obvious choice.
Wizard: As with the Witch, a wayang Wizard is an obvious choice, thanks to the Int bonus and shadow spell boosts. You’ll obviously want the Shadow subschool, and the Infiltrator familiar archetype is worth a look so that you can scout out all kinds of situations without worrying about your familiar getting squished.
Bard: The Bard and Oracle both have the same option here, and it’s a great one: You can add spells from the Sorcerer/Wizard spell list to your list! There are some great shadow subschool spells you’ll want to grab, of course, and it can also let you be a bit more of an offensive caster than a Bard normally is.
Oracle: See Bard just above this!
Sorcerer: Adding +1/2 damage to illusion spells is pretty cool, though I would have preferred +1/2 to the DC of the spells!
Summoner: An extra skill rank for the eidolon doesn’t seem that exciting, but if you’re building a Ninja-style sneaky Eidolon, it can be a HUGE bonus. I like this option a lot.
Shadow Puppeteer (Bard): So, I mentioned up in the bard section that I’m not a huge fan of this archetype. You only get two new abilities, and they replace some of the Bard’s most important performances. You switch out inspire courage and inspire competence for a shadow servant ability (not very useful), and the ability to summon some quasi-real creatures from the summon monster lists. This would be really nice if it scaled like the normal spells, but you only increase the summon monster level every three Bard levels, so this is just hands-down worse than a normal bard.
Shadowy Dash: If you plan to move around the battlefield stealthily (which you should, as a wayang), then you want this feat, as it removes the penalty for moving at full speed when using Stealth!
Androids are a strange race of constructed humanoids detailed in the Inner Sea Bestiary, and they’re exceedingly rare, so most GMs should be wary of allowing their players to play as one. However, if your GM will allow it, an android can be a great addition to an adventuring party!
Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma. Androids are fast and smart but have trouble relating to other races. This makes them ideal choices for Rogues, Witches or Wizards.
Type: Androids are a strange combination of construct and humanoid, and therefore count as both for the purposes of effects that target either type.
Size: Androids are the same size as humans.
Speed: Androids move at the same speed as humans.
Skill Bonus: Androids gain a +2 to the best skill in the game, Perception.
Emotionless: Androids don’t understand the nuances of conversation well, and thus take a -4 penalty to Sense Motive.
Exceptional Senses: Androids have both darkvision 60ft and low-light vision, making them ideal at nighttime stalking.
Constructed: Along with their interesting creature type, androids gain a +4 racial bonus on all saving throws against mind-affecting effects, paralysis, poison, and stun effects, are not subject to fatigue or exhaustion, and are immune to disease, fear, all emotion-based effects and sleep effects. This is a great combination of bonuses and immunities, however they come with a HUGE drawback: Androids can NEVER gain morale bonuses! Do you know what that means? An Android Barbarian gains nothing from rage (except for rage powers)! It also means they aren’t affected by most Paladin auras or Cavalier banners, and there are a ton of spells that give them absolutely no benefit!
Nanite Surge: This is an interesting ability that gives your android a bonus of 3 + character level to a single d20 roll, before the dice is rolled, once per day. I’d consider this a luck-style ability, and it’s pretty cool and can really save your butt in a pinch.
Alchemist: An android can make a fantastic Alchemist, thanks to the boosts to Dexterity and Initelligence. A bomber alchemist would make the most sense, but don’t forget that just because the android Barbarian doesn’t benefit from rage, this doesn’t mean that your mutagen cant still make you a beast! I like the Grenadier archetype for an android, as I can imagine a constructed creature being very good at making interesting bombs.
Barbarian: An android can’t benefit from morale bonuses, and rage gives only morale bonuses, so this is just about the worst choice you can make. Thematically, androids are supposed to be emotionless, so it wouldn’t even make sense for them to rage. Stay away!
Bard: It’s hard for me to imagine an android appreciating the arts, and the penalty to Charisma definitely hurts the chances of a good android Bard. Most bardic performances use competence bonuses, as opposed to morale bonuses, so androids CAN still benefit from performances. If you did decide to try your hand at an android Bard, the Archaeologist archetype will at least make it less horrible roleplay-wise.
Cavalier [Samurai]: An android can actually be a surprisingly decent Cavalier, since the bonuses given by Cavalier’s Charge and Order abilities are not all morale bonuses. There are a few, though, so I would stick with the Order of the Dragon, the Lion, the Staff, or the Tome. If you’re playing in a group of other androids, though, the morale bonuses given by your banner will be next to useless.
Cleric: I have trouble imagining an android praying to the gods for redemption or guidance, since they were created by mortals. Mechanically, the penalty to Charisma does hurt an android Cleric’s channel energy ability, but otherwise one could make a decent Cleric with the right base ability scores. If there were an android Cleric, though, I’d imagine her to be extremely devout and serious about her faith.
Druid: Like an android Cleric, an android Druid just doesn’t make much sense to me, since she would have very little inherent connection to nature. With the right ability scores, there’s no reason you couldn’t play a decent android Druid, however. The Reincarnated Druid archetype makes thematic sense to me here, as you could imagine the soul of a slain Druid attaching to a newly created sentient being.
Fighter: Now here is a class that an android can really shine at. Simple and effective, an android Fighter would use her superior intellect to fight tactically and take out enemies one by one. Given that, the Tactician or Lore Warden archetypes make perfect sense, and can build on the bonus to Intelligence that an android gains.
Gunslinger: An android Gunslinger makes a lot of sense to me, especially with the bonus to Dexterity on her side. There aren’t any specifically good archetypes, but you’ll obviously want to stay away from the Mysterious Stranger archetype, which is Charisma-based.
Inquisitor: Like the other divine spellcasting classes, it’s hard for me to get behind an android Inquisitor: Luckily, bonuses from Judgments are overwhelmingly sacred bonuses, but the Stern Gaze class feature will be utterly useless to you. The Spellbreaker archetype seems appropriate to me, since androids are highly intelligent and could learn very quickly how to foil spellcasters.
Magus: No morale bonuses to be found here, and those bonuses to Intelligence and Dexterity will be very helpful for a Dex-based Magus build. To that end, I recommend the Myrmidarch and Kapenia Dancer as good options, or just the good old standard Magus.
Monk: A monk would be an interesting choice for an android, and I could see it being thematic, a constructed creature trying to better her body through focus and martial arts. The monk also includes no morale bonuses, so that’s another plus. A bonus to Wisdom would have been nice, but overall Monk isn’t a bad choice.
Oracle: This is just a bad choice, since Oracles really need Charisma to function. If you want to play a divine spellcaster, build a Cleric or Inquisitor instead.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: The penalty to Charisma, along with the painful fact that a lot of the Paladin’s abilities rely on morale bonuses, makes this a pretty bad choice, though more workable than the Oracle.
Ranger: A ranger is a decent choice, thanks to the bonus to Dexterity, and I could imagine an android Urban Ranger fitting into most parties. This is a decent choice.
Rogue [Ninja]: A rogue is a great option for an android, thanks to the bonuses to both Dex and Int. Their Exceptional Senses race trait means they will be able to see in places where most humanoids might have trouble, and the Nanite Surge ability could save you on that one Reflex save that you absolutely NEED to make. Ninja is a poorer choice because of the reliance on Charisma for ki points.
Sorcerer: For the most part, a Sorcerer is just as bad off as an Oracle, but thanks to the Sage Wildblooded bloodline you can make your casting based off of Intelligence instead, and then be quite an effective Sorcerer! If you pick any other bloodline, though, this is a terrible choice.
Summoner: Like the Oracle, a Summoner is just too reliant on Charisma to make any sense for an android. Go Witch or Wizard instead.
Witch: A Witch seems like an odd choice thematically, but it works out pretty well. The agility patron is probably a good choice here, as haste is always welcome in an adventuring party.
Wizard: If you really want to be an excellent android spellcaster, this is the class to pick. The Int-based spellcasting works out very well, and a bonded object seems an appropriate choice for a constructed being. The Conjuration - Creation or Transmutation - Enhancement focused arcane schools seem like good choices, and the Golem Constructor arcane discovery also fits very well.
To be added: