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Dec 16th, 2015
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  1. Pathfinder tier system for classes, December 16, 2015 proposed revision
  3. Up for debate: Should this tier list assume "optimization ceiling sans theoretical optimization," a more nebulous "average optimization," or an even more ambiguous "equal optimization across the party"?
  5. ~~~Explanation~~~
  6. • Tier 1: Very high power and high flexibility
  7. Original description: "Capable of doing absolutely everything, often better than classes that specialize in that thing. Often capable of solving encounters with a single mechanical ability and little thought from the player. Has world changing powers at high levels. These guys, if played well, can break a campaign and can be very hard to challenge without extreme DM fiat, especially if Tier 3s and below are in the party."
  8. Most common specimens: The majority of 9th-level prepared spellcasters
  9. Mandatory entry prerequisite: Ability to significantly change the campaign through the use of special abilities even OUTSIDE of combat.
  10. Important note: Most tier 1 classes are *NOT* actually "true" tier 1 at low levels! They start at tier 3 at 1st level and slowly grow towards "true" tier 1, finally achieving it at the level wherein they receive their truly campaign-changing abilities (usually 5th-level spells or psionics powers).
  12. • Tier 2: Very high power and medium flexibility
  13. Original description: "Has as much raw power as the Tier 1 classes, but can't pull off nearly as many tricks, and while the class itself is capable of anything, no one build can actually do nearly as much as the Tier 1 classes. Still potencially campaign smashers by using the right abilities, but at the same time are more predictable and can't always have the right tool for the job. If the Tier 1 classes are countries with 10,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal, these guys are countries with 10 nukes. Still dangerous and world shattering, but not in quite so many ways. Note that the Tier 2 classes are often less flexible than Tier 3 classes... it's just that their incredible potential power overwhelms their lack in flexibility."
  14. Most common specimens: The majority of 9th-level spontaneous spellcasters
  15. Mandatory entry prerequisite: Ability to significantly change the campaign through the use of special abilities even OUTSIDE of combat.
  16. Important note: Most tier 2 classes are *NOT* actually "true" tier 2 at low levels! They start at tier 4 at 1st level and slowly grow towards "true" tier 2, finally achieving it at the level wherein they receive their truly campaign-changing abilities (usually 5th-level spells or psionics powers).
  18. • Tier 3: Medium power and high flexibility
  19. Original description: "Capable of doing one thing quite well, while still being useful when that one thing is inappropriate, or capable of doing all things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area. Occasionally has a mechanical ability that can solve an encounter, but this is relatively rare and easy to deal with. Challenging such a character takes some thought from the DM, but isn't too difficult. Will outshine any Tier 5s in the party much of the time."
  20. Most common specimens: The majority of 6th-level spellcasters, 6th- or 9th-level psionic manifesters, and 9th-level Path of War martial initiators
  22. • Tier 4: Medium power and medium flexibility, or high COMBAT power and low flexibility
  23. Original description: "Capable of doing one thing quite well, but often useless when encounters require other areas of expertise, or capable of doing many things to a reasonable degree of competance without truly shining. Rarely has any abilities that can outright handle an encounter unless that encounter plays directly to the class's main strength. DMs may sometimes need to work to make sure Tier 4s can contribue to an encounter, as their abilities may sometimes leave them useless. Won't outshine anyone except Tier 6s except in specific circumstances that play to their strengths. Cannot compete effectively with Tier 1s that are played well."
  24. Most common specimens: The majority of 4th-level spellcasters or psionic manifesters
  26. • Tier 5: Medium power and low flexibility, or low power and medium flexibility
  27. Original description: "Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the rest of the party is weak in that situation and the encounter matches their strengths. DMs may have to work to avoid the player feeling that their character is worthless unless the entire party is Tier 4 and below. Characters in this tier will often feel like one trick ponies if they do well, or just feel like they have no tricks at all if they build the class poorly."
  29. • Tier 6: Low power and low flexibility
  30. Original description: "Not even capable of shining in their own area of expertise. DMs will need to work hard to make encounters that this sort of character can contribute in with their mechanical abilities. Will often feel worthless unless the character is seriously powergamed beyond belief, and even then won't be terribly impressive. Needs to fight enemies of lower than normal CR. Class is often completely unsynergized or with almost no abilities of merit. Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters."
  32. ~~~"Major Upgrades"~~~
  33. Each class listed down here assumes that the class is to be used in its base, non-archetyped form, and without any especially remarkable feats, favored class bonuses, or other class options.
  35. However, certain classes have access to "major upgrades," class options that substantially improve the class from its baseline. Whether these upgrades "merely" push the class far up within its own tier or uplift the class into the next tier outright is up for debate, but either way, a "major upgrade" is always a noteworthy and exceptional improvement to the baseline.
  37. Some "major upgrades" add more power and flexibility than others, but weighing the power and flexibility increases of each individual "major upgrade" is beyond the scope of this document.
  39. Certain classes can acquire multiple "major upgrades" simultaneously. Enough of these can most certainly stand to bring a class into a higher tier. For example, a fighter with the Lore Warden or Mutation Warrior archetype, Dreamscarred Press's Myrmidon archetype, and either Advanced Weapon Training or the Martial Master archetype improves from tier 5 to the lower half of tier 3.
  41. ~~~Evangelist and Sacred Geometry~~~
  42. The Evangelist prestige class is a major upgrade for any class with a d6 HD and 2 + Intelligence skill points per level. Despite the loss of a single level of spellcasting progression, it improves the chassis of such a class to a considerable degree.
  44. The Sacred Geometry feat is a major upgrade for all spellcasters, although it benefits 9th-level spellcasters more than lesser spellcasters, and prepared spellcasters more than spontaneous spellcasters.
  46. ~~~Paizo Tier List~~~
  47. Tier 1:
  48. • Arcanist
  49. • Cleric
  50. • Druid
  51. • Shaman
  52. • Witch
  53. • Wizard, major upgrades: Instructor archetype, Fast Study arcane discovery OR Collegiate Arcanist/Magaambyan Arcanist prestige class
  55. Tier 2:
  56. • Oracle, major upgrades: Ancient Lorekeeper archetype, Lunar mystery, Dreamed Secrets feat, human favored class bonus
  57. • Psychic, major upgrade: human favored class bonus
  58. • Sorcerer, major upgrade: False Priest/Razmiran Priest archetype, human favored class bonus
  59. • Summoner (chained or unchained, but unchained is a downgrade due to fewer spell level discounts), major upgrade: Master Summoner archetype
  61. Tier 3:
  62. • Alchemist, major upgrade: Combination of Preservationist and Promethean Alchemist archetypes and Planar Preservationist feat all taken together
  63. • Bard, major upgrade: Magician archetype
  64. • Hunter
  65. • Inquisitor, major upgrade: Monster Tactician archetype
  66. • Investigator, major upgrade: Empiricist archetype
  67. • Kineticist (Gambler archetype [DSP])
  68. • Magus, major upgrade: Hexcrafter archetype
  69. • Mesmerist
  70. • Occultist
  71. • Skald, major upgrade: Expanded Spell Kenning feat
  72. • Spiritualist
  73. • Vigilante (warlock or zealot)
  74. • Warpriest
  76. Tier 4:
  77. • Antipaladin
  78. • Barbarian (chained or unchained), major upgrades: Masquerade Reveler archetype (Mark Seifter via Rite Publishing), Primal Disciple archetype (DSP), Greater Beast Totem rage power
  79. • Bloodrager, major upgrades: Urban Bloodrager archetype, Monstrous Physique spell
  80. • Brawler
  81. • Kineticist (Air or Earth element)
  82. • Medium, major upgrades: Spirit Dancer archetype, Archmage spirit, Hierophant spirit
  83. • Monk (unchained)
  84. • Paladin, major upgrades: Knight Disciple archetype (DSP), Sacred Servant archetype
  85. • Ranger, major upgrade: Ambush Hunter archetype (DSP)
  86. • Rogue (unchained), major upgrades: Charlatan archetype, Hidden Blade archetype (DSP), Rumormonger advanced talent
  87. • Slayer
  88. • Vigilante (avenger or stalker)
  90. Tier 5:
  91. • Adept
  92. • Cavalier, major upgrades: Beast Rider archetype, Constable archetype, Luring Cavalier archetype with archery build, Order of the Beast (ACG version), Order of the Tome, Spirited Charge feat with mounted charger build
  93. • Fighter, major upgrades: Drill Sergeant archetype, Eldritch Guardian archetype, Lore Warden archetype, Martial Master archetype, Mutation Warrior archetype, Myrmidon archetype (DSP), Relic Master archetype, Advanced Weapon Training, ample usage of archery with Rapid Shot/Manyshot/Clustered Shots feats
  94. • Gunslinger, major upgrade: Guns Everywhere variant rule
  95. • Kineticist (Aether, Fire, Water, Wood, or Void element)
  96. • Monk (chained), major upgrades: Monk of the Silver Fist archetype (DSP), Qinggong Monk archetype, Zen Archer archetype
  97. • Ninja, major upgrade: Rumormonger advanced talent
  98. • Rogue (chained), major upgrades: Charlatan archetype, Hidden Blade archetype (DSP), Rumormonger advanced talent
  99. • Samurai
  100. • Swashbuckler
  102. Tier 6: NPC classes other than adept
  104. ~~~Dreamscarred Press Tier List~~~
  105. The tzocatl (truenaming) classes, the advocate and the warspeaker (formerly known as the "knight-scholar"), are in major flux and are thus not included here.
  107. The Riven Hourglass and Shattered Mirror disciplines will be downgraded come the final release of Path of War: Expanded. The Broken Blade, Primal Fury, and Thrashing Dragon disciplines will be downgraded afterwards, and the Steel Serpent discipline will be upgraded.
  109. Major upgrades for all psionicists: Psychic Reformation augmented power (note that this pushes a character straight into tier 1), Overchannel feat
  111. Tier 2:
  112. • Mystic (note that Mystic Artifice is what pushes this up to tier 2 due to item crafting, so this sinks to tier 3 if an archetype trades Mystic Artifice away)
  113. • Psion, major upgrades: Dual Disciple archetype with Psionic Knack trait, human favored class bonus
  115. Tier 3:
  116. • Aegis, major upgrade: Initiator's Soul customization
  117. • Belluspex
  118. • Cryptic, major upgrade: Lost Mind archetype
  119. • Dread (note that Shadow Twin and Twin Fear break combat), major upgrade: Eclipse archetype
  120. • Guru
  121. • Harbinger
  122. • Psychic warrior, major upgrade: Pathwalker archetype
  123. • Stalker
  124. • Tactician, major upgrades: Squad Leader archetype, Collective Defenses strategy
  125. • Vitalist
  126. • Vizier
  127. • Warder, major upgrade: Zweihander Sentinel archetype
  128. • Warlord
  129. • Wilder, major upgrades: Contemplative archetype, human favored class bonus
  130. • Zealot
  132. Tier 4:
  133. • Daevic (note that this is on the higher end of tier 4 due to flexibility from veils and essence)
  134. • Marksman, major upgrade: Mind's Eye Disciple archetype
  135. • Soulknife, major upgrades: Gifted Blade archetype (especially when given for free), Living Legend archetype, Psychic Armory archetype, War Soul archetype
  137. ~~~Spheres of Power Tier List~~~
  138. Major upgrades for all spherecasters: Conjuration sphere (combat), Conjuration sphere Summoning and Diagram advanced talents, and Weather sphere (strategic-scale noncombat usage only), but each of these is a major upgrade only with full progression due to their intensely quadratic nature
  139. Major upgrades for all spherecasters: Alteration sphere Aquan Transformation and Ranged Transformation basic talents, 1-level incanter dip for full specialization and sphere specialization (and, to a much lesser extent, 1-level sphere sorcerer dip for focus sphere and bloodline familiar), caster level optimization (e.g. Fortune Teller feat, Mage's Tattoo feat, Spell Specialization feat, Unusual Origin feat, Inspired by Greatness campaign trait, Eldritch Delver magic trait, Gifted Adept magic trait, Transmuter of Korada magic trait, Harrow Chosen race trait, Born under the Green Star regional trait, Secret of the Impossible Kingdom/Signature Spell regional trait; ask your GM if these are allowed to begin with, because while they work according to Adam Meyers, they were never designed for Spheres)
  140. Major upgrades for low spherecasters: Talents that do not call for caster level (e.g. Fate sphere with Neutrality drawback and Bless and Curse basic talents, Time sphere with Altered Time and Personal Time drawbacks and Repetition and Retry basic talents)
  142. Lower half of tier 2, sinks to the higher half of tier 3 if advanced talents are banned:
  143. • Fey adept
  144. • Incanter (note that this is an incredibly front-loaded class given full specialization)
  145. • Soul weaver, major upgrade: Dual Channeler archetype with Ale/Wine or Rulership variant channeling
  146. • Sphere arcanist, cleric, druid, oracle, shaman, sorcerer, witch, and wizard
  147. • Thaumaturge, major upgrades: Devourer archetype with 15-20 critical threat range, Pact Mage (Infernal) archetype with Channel Punishment invocation, Master of Cosmos feat with Conjuration sphere
  149. Higher half of tier 3, sinks to the middle of tier 3 if advanced talents are banned:
  150. • Eliciter
  151. • Hedgewitch, major upgrades: Triple Goddess archetype, Spiritualism tradition
  152. • Shifter
  153. • Sphere summoner
  155. Lower half of tier 3, sinks to the bottom of tier 3 if advanced talents are banned:
  156. • Elementalist, major upgrades: Admixture Savant archetype, Electrokinetic archetype
  157. • Sphere alchemist, bard, hunter, inquisitor, investigator, magus, skald, and warpriest
  158. • Symbiat, major upgrades: Hekatonkheires archetype, Telekinetic Warrior archetype
  160. Higher half of tier 4, sinks slightly if advanced talents are banned:
  161. • Armorist, major upgrades: Symbiotic Knight archetype
  162. • Mageknight, major upgrades: Dragoon archetype, Soaring Blade archetype
  163. • Sphere bloodrager
  165. Lower half of tier 4, sinks ever so slightly if advanced talents are banned:
  166. • Sphere paladin and ranger
  168. ~~~Miscellaneous Third-Party Tier List~~
  169. Radiance House's occultist and spirit-binding archetypes (especially the cavalier's Pactsworn Knight archetype) are under heavy revision and rebalancing. The occultist will most likely wind up in tier 3.
  171. Tier 1:
  172. • Magister:
  173. • Priest:
  174. • Priest:
  175. • Theurge:
  177. Tier 2:
  178. • Artificer:
  179. • Artisan:
  180. • Eldritch godling: , major upgrade: Divine Portfolio I divine trait, Talent for Mysticism ascendancy into Force of Brawn/Intellect/Personality scion talent
  181. • Hedge witch:
  183. Tier 3:
  184. • Adept godling: , major upgrades: Divine Portfolio I divine trait, Talent for Mysticism ascendancy into Force of Brawn/Intellect/Personality scion talent, chained summoner spell list
  185. • Archivist (Ascension Games' Path of Iron)
  186. • Death mage:
  187. • Emperor:
  188. • Essence thief:
  189. • Nightblade:
  190. • Saboteur (Ascension Games' Path of Iron)
  191. • Savant:
  192. • Schooled bard:
  193. • Shaman:
  194. • Taskshaper:
  195. • Vanguard (Ascension Games' Path of Iron)
  196. • White necromancer:
  198. Tier 4:
  199. • Archon:
  200. • Bounty hunter:
  201. • Corsair:
  202. • Dragonrider:
  203. • Malefactor:
  204. • Ninja (unchained): , major upgrade: Rumormonger advanced talent
  205. • Shadow assassin:
  206. • Spellblade:
  207. • Spell-less ranger:
  208. • War master:
  210. Tier 5:
  211. • Armiger:
  212. • Battle scion:
  213. • Beastmaster:
  214. • Clever godling: , major upgrades: Divine Portfolio I divine trait, Force of Brawn/Intellect/Personality scion talent
  215. • Corbie:
  216. • Direlock:
  217. • Elven archer:
  218. • Gladiator:
  219. • Hellenic sorceress:
  220. • Hunter:
  221. • Knight:
  222. • Luckbringer: , major upgrades: Ill-fortune improbable ability, playing at low levels only (the class is arguably tier 4 from 1st- to 5th-level but then suffers from very poor scaling)
  223. • Martial artist:
  224. • Mighty godling: , major upgrades: Divine Portfolio I divine trait, Force of Brawn/Intellect/Personality scion talent
  225. • Pugilist:
  226. • Scholar:
  227. • Scout:
  228. • Spy:
  229. • Swashbuckler:
  230. • Time thief:
  231. • Warlock: , major upgrades: Prescience arcane school ability, Summon unique warlock arcane school ability
  232. • Warlord: (note that this is actually a very good 1-level dip for non-spellcasting martials)
  233. • Witch hunter:
  235. Tier 6:
  236. • Gladiator:
  237. • Knight:
  238. • Voyageur:
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