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>>>PATHFINDER - TIER SYSTEM FOR CLASSES
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In theory there is also Truenamer tier, but we haven't quite reached it yet.
>>PAIZO TIER LIST
Wizard, Druid, Cleric, Witch, Sorcerer (Razmiran Priest/False Priest), Oracle (Paragon Surge/Lunar/Ancient Lorekeeper etc.), Arcanist, Shaman, Psychic
Oracle, Sorcerer, Summoner, Magus (Hexcrafter), Bard (Magician), Skald (UMD/Expanded Spell Kenning), Unchained Summoner, Inquisitor (Monster Tactician)
Alchemist, Bard, Inquisitor, Magus, Investigator, Warpriest, Paladin (Sacred Servant), Hunter, Skald, Mesmerist, Occultist, Spiritualist, Bloodrager (Monstrous Physique UMD), Medium (Archmage/Hierophant), Vigilante (Warlock/Zealot)
Barbarian, Paladin, Ranger, Adept, Brawler, Slayer, Fighter (Eldritch Guardian/Lore Warden/Mutation Warrior/Martial Master/Drill Sergeant), Bloodrager, Medium (Marshal/Guardian/Champion/Trickster), Unchained Monk, Unchained Barbarian, Monk (Properly Archetyped - namely Qinggong Monk), Vigilante (Stalker/Avenger), Unchained Rogue
Cavalier, Samurai, Fighter, Gunslinger, Rogue, Ninja, Swashbuckler, Monk, Kineticist
Aristocrat, Warrior, Commoner, Expert
Topics for discussion:
>Occult Adventures class/archetype placement
>>DSP TIER LIST
Psion (Augmented Psychic Reformation), Wilder (Augmented Psychic Reformation)
Psion, Wilder (Student's Surge/Human FCB)
Warlord, Warder, Vizier, Vitalist, Tactician, Cryptic, Stalker, Psychic Warrior, Soulknife (Gifted Blade)
Warlord, Warder, Vizier, Vitalist, Tactician, Cryptic, Stalker, Psychic Warrior, Soulknife (Gifted Blade), Dread, Guru, Aegis (Harness Power Stone/Initiator's Soul), Wilder
Aegis, Marksman, Soulknife
Aegis, Marksman, Soulknife, Daevic