In the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, the concept of archetypes was introduced in the Advanced Player’s Guide and since have blossomed into a whole new level of complexity to the Pathfinder system. To help simplify this as as much as possible let’s look at some of the basics of the archetype system:
Rapid Shot: Archetypes
- Alternate Class Features – Most archetypes replace or modify an existing class feature. This means that the old feature is gone. Give up rage for a new class feature? Better make sure the new one says it still counts as rage before taking a rage feat or prestige class. A list of features and replacements is often offered graphically for many OGL archetypes on d20pfsrd.com. “Extra revelation isn’t available because I don’t have any initial revelations.”
- Read Everything – Archetypes are written in short hand as that they are considered “too close” to the core or base class (parent class) to merit a full class write-up. That being the case they are often written with brevity in mind. Some times they don’t mention the loss of a parent class’ feature until it is mentioned in an alternate feature gained at a later level. This means that failure to read the entirety of an archetype can result in using abilities your character doesn’t actually get (accidentally cheating). “Oh looks like I lost improved spell combat at 8th level, when I gain it again at 14th… *blink*”
- Mixology – If you are going to engage in the increasingly popular layering of archetypes, remember that if an option is altered it is not eligible to traded for out for another archetypes substitution of the same ability. Some GMs may be willing to make exceptions but definitely check first. Also, be careful to consider the long-view of each overlapping archetype. Do they break each others features later? “And this makes all my bombs better… too bad I gave up bombs….”
- Verisimilitude – Consider the story that each character evokes. A “Sea Star” and “Desert Wolf” might be great druid abilities but make certain your characters story synthesizes what otherwise is a blatant mechanical grab lest other players find your character unbelievable or deleterious to the immersion of the entire group. “I am lord of the Ocean… of Sand! (cue groans)”
- Role Play – Be careful when explaining archetyped characters to other players. Nothing is worse than a player giving up on an “overlapped” role in the party to find out that during a crucial moment your archetype stripped a base class feature they had assumed covered. “Your rogue can’t what?”
Archetypes can be a great aid in shaping the character you want to play but make certain to understand the basics and work with the GM to make them work both in and out of character.