Thursday, June 4, 2015

Races of Pathfinder: Dwarf

Dwarves in Pathfinder are known for being gruff and stoic, living in underground cities in the mountains, constantly warring with giants, orcs and goblinoids.

Racial Traits:
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.

Alternate Racial Traits:
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.

Additional Classes & Racial Traits Reviewed by Unarcane Election:

  • Behind the Veil (1 RP): Characters with this trait gain a +2 bonus on Bluff and Sleight of Hand checks while benefiting from concealment or cover. Dwarves can take this trait in place of stonecunning. Source PPC:BoS (se  Seems rather situational, but so is the standard racial trait it replaces.
  • Dimdweller (2 RP): Whenever characters with this trait benefit from concealment or full concealment due to darkness or dim light, they gain a +2 racial bonus on IntimidatePerception, and Stealth checks. Dwarves can take this trait in place of greed and stonecunning. Source PPC:BoS  Seems situational, but again it is replacing a situational trait and an even more situational trait.
  • Dusksight (2 RP): When making ranged attacks, characters with this trait can reroll the miss chance granted by cover to any target in dim light, and take the better of the two rolls. The miss chance for total concealment applies normally. Dwarves can take this trait in place of hatred and darkvision, also gaining low-light visionSource PPC:BoS  Replace Hatred?  Yes, please.  Replace Darvision?  No way.
  • Fey Magic (2 RP): The character has a mystic connection to one terrain type, selected from the ranger's favored terrain list. The character selects three 0-level druid spells and one 1st-level druid spell. If the character has a Charisma score of 11 or higher, when in the selected terrain, she gains these spells as spell-like abilities that can be cast once per day. The caster level for these effects is equal to the user's character level. The DC for the spell-like abilities is equal to 10 + the spell's level + the user's Charisma modifier. These spells are treated as being from a fey source for the purposes of the druid's resist nature's lure class feature and similar abilities. This trait replaces greed and stonecunning. Source HotW  This replaces two highly situational traits with spell-like abilities that you can choose, thus potentially being more useful, although the limited uses per day hurts.
  • Lasting Grudge: Dwarves are notorious for their long-lasting grudges. Those who live up to this racial reputation gain a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against any individual creature that has attacked them 1 day ago or longer. This racial trait replaces defensive training and hatred. Source PCS:ISR  You replace two situational traits with one even more situational trait.  Why does this have to fester for a day before it takes effect?  Pass.
  • Low-Light Vision (1 RP): Feyborn dwarves gain low-light vision. This trait replaces darkvisionSource HotW  Wait, WHAT?  Replace Darkvision with Low-Light Vision?  Now we're beyond Pass territory and into Pass Gas territory.
  • Poison Minion (4 RP)Drow sometimes augment their slaves and frontline warriors by making them toxic, causing their bodies to internally produce mawbane poison. The resulting poisonous creature makes a potent weapon in the effort to discourage neighboring monsters. Any creature that hits such a character with a bite attack is immediately exposed to its poison. The save DC for this poison is equal to 10 + 1/2 the character's Hit Dice + the character's Constitution modifier. Mawbane Poison—ingested; save Fortitude as above; frequency 1/round for 4 rounds; effect 1d2 Constitution damage; cure 1 save. Dwarves can take this trait in place of defensive training and hardy. Source PPC:BoS  Repeat after me:  I am not a minion.  I am not a minion   I am not a minion . . .
  • Shadowhunter (2 RP): Characters with this trait deal 50% weapon damage to incorporeal creatures when using non-magical weapons (including natural and unarmed attacks), as if using magic weapons. They also gain a +2 bonus on saving throws to remove negative levels, and recover physical ability damage from attacks by undead creatures at a rate of 2 points per ability score per day (rather than the normal 1 point per ability score per day). Dwarves can take this trait in place of their bonus feat, also gaining Iron Will as a bonus feat. Source PPC:BoS  One small problem:  Dwarves don't get a bonus feat.  Let's assume that this instead replaces your normal first level feat -- if so, it's basically a Dwarf feat that has to be chosen at 1st level, so let's evaluate it as such:  You get to be not helpless against Incorporeal creatures if they catch you without a magic weapon, a +2 bonus when removing negative levels, faster recovery of physical ability damage, AND the whole feat Iron Will, which is sometimes recommended by itself.  Sounds pretty good, even with the obvious editing mistake.
  • Shadowplay (1 RP): Characters with this trait cast spells with the darkness, light, or shadow descriptor at +1 caster level. Dwarves can take this trait in place of greed. Source PPC:BoS  Another replacement of one situational thing with another.
  • Siege Survivor: Dwarves who make their homes in the Sky Citadels are trained to outlast sieges and serve as vigilant guards. They gain Endurance as a bonus feat. In addition, during rounds in which they have not moved, they gain a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against foes who also did not move since their last turn. This racial trait replaces greed, hardy, and hatred. Source PCS:ISR  Although the bonus is situational and the bonus feat isn't great, this would be not terrible if it just replaced Greed and Hatred, but replacing Hardy is a no-go, and doesn't even make thematic sense for a siege survivor.
  • Slag Child: Dwarves from dishonored families must append “-slag,” “-slagsun,” or “-slagdam” to their surnames to indicate their shameful status. These dwarves are commonly banished or ostracized; they are forced to eke out a living at the fringes of dwarven settlements or in bleak wilderness areas. They gain a +2 racial bonus on Stealth and Survival checks. This racial trait replaces defensive training and hatred. Source PCS:ISR  You are replacing two situational traits (which are admittedly pretty good when their situations come up) with bonuses to two skills that are likely to be useful a lot of the time.  If you aren't expecting to come up against the situations of the replaced traits and want a stealthy character who is also good at getting around in the wilderness (and who will probably already have these skills in-class -- for instance, a Ranger), and don't mind the roleplaying implications, this is for you.
  • Spell Smasher: Dwarven families who are threatened by hostile magic-users, especially those who face duergar foes, train intently to thwart spellcasting. They gain a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against creatures in the process of casting spells or spell-like abilities. This racial trait replaces defensive training and hatred. Source PCS:ISR  You are replacing two situational traits (which are admittedly pretty good when their situations come up) with another situational trait, but one whose situation is likely to come up a lot, so it's a solid upgrade.
  • Spiritual Support: Dwarves greatly value loyalty in faith, and their gods readily reward them for it. They gain a +1 racial bonusto their caster levels when casting conjuration (healing) spells upon allies. This racial trait replaces greed and hardy. Source PCS:ISR  This is really situational.  Would be orange or maybe even green, but it replaces Hardy.  Pass.
  • Stoic Negotiator: Some dwarves use their unwavering stubbornness to get what they want in negotiations and other business matters. They gain a +2 racial bonus on BluffDiplomacy, and Profession (merchant) checks. This racial trait replaces defensive training, hatred, and stonecunning. Source PCS:ISR  You are replacing three situational traits for these bonuses, but if your character is in a profession to make good use of these bonuses, this is not too shabby.
  • Unstoppable: Some dwarves train from a young age to outlast orcs on the battlefield. They gain Toughness as a bonus feat and a +1 racial bonus on Fortitude saves. This racial trait replaces hardy. Source PCS:ISR  I didn't think I was going to find something that was worthy of replacing Hardy, but here it is.  In exchange for a lesser bonus against poison, spells, and spell-like abilities, you get to extend this bonus to all of your Fortitude Saves, AND you get Toughness as a bonus feat.  Not bad.
  • Voice in the Darkness (2 RP)Prerequisite(s)Charisma 13+. Characters who practice coercion and intimidation in the Underworld or on the Shadow Plane learn to do so in dim light or no light at all. As long as they are in dim light or darker conditions, characters with this trait gain a +2 bonus on Intimidate and Stealth checks. Dwarves can take this trait in place of stonecunning. Source PPC:BoS  The bonuses are situational, but so is the trait you replace, so this isn't terrible, although the Charisma requirement hurts given the Dwarven penalty to Charisma, unless you are making a character that needs mildly pumped Charisma anyway.
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):
                Tark's Big Holy Book of Clerical Optimization (Core, APG) [Discussion]
                Axe’s Guide to Finding Divinity (Core only) [Discussion]
                Rogue Eidolon’s Guide to Clerics (Core only) [Discussion]
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: 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?  Situationally, you may not need the Favored Class Bonus, but if you do, it's really good.

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. 

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.

Racial Favored Class Bonuses:
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.

Additional Classes & Thoughts By UnArcane Election:
  • Arcanist:  Like a Wizard, this is a 9/9 Intelligence-dependent spellcaster, but in addition to not having an Intelligence Bonus, Dwarves have to contend with the fact that some Arcanist Exploits are Charisma-dependent.  Unfortunately, this includes both Arcane Barrier and Arcane Weapon, which might otherwise be decent if you were going for some kind of gish build, and which are the two Arcane Exploits advanced by what would otherwise be a situationally decent Favored Class Bonus.
  • Bloodrager:  Although the Charisma penalty hurts, Dwarves are otherwise solid as Bloodragers for the same reasons they are solid as Barbarians, so if you pick spells for which you don't have to worry about Save DCs, you can do okay.  A Bloodrager archetype that trades out spellcasting is available (Untouchable Rager), but it is a bad enough archetype (regardless of your race) that you are better off using the above-stated form of compensation for the Charisma penalty.  The Favored Class Bonus (1 more round of Bloodrage per level) is extremely solid, same as for Barbarian.
  • Brawler:  Dwarves are tough, and thereby especially suitable for being frontline characters, and the Wisdom bonus helps with the poor Will Save.  Other than that, you don't get anything amazing by being a Dwarven Brawler, and the class doesn't give any easy way to boost speed, which hurts when you have slow speed, and the Favored Class Bonus (ability to ignore 1 point per level of hardness of certain objects) is terrible except in extremely specific situations.  Brawler is a decent choice for a Dwarf, but not outstanding.
  • Hunter:  This class is a hybrid between Druid and Ranger, and Dwarves can be good at it for the same reasons they are good at the parent classes.  Unfortunately, the Favored Class Bonus is the same as for Ranger, and thereby not very good.
  • Investigator:  You don't get an Intelligence bonus as a Dwarf, which hurts, but you do get Dwarven toughness, which helps if you are going to be an Investigator on the front lines, so this is serviceable although not great.  The Favored Class Bonus (bonuses to Perception when underground and to Trap Sense against stone traps) are going to be very campaign-specific, so normally I would recommend staying away.
  • Kineticist:  Now you can really put your Dwarven Constitution bonus to use!  Kineticist is a quasi-spellcaster whose primary (quasi-)spellcasting attribute is Constitution, so have at it!  Your Wisdom bonus will also help with the poor Will Save, and all Dwarven characteristics that make you harder to take out are very tasty gravy when you have taken nonlethal damage by way of the Burn class feature.  The Favored Class Bonus unfortunately only applies if you are a Geokineticist, and the damage bonus scales slowly enough that I'd recommend skipping it even if you are a Geokineticist; with the class feature Burn putting a tax on your effective Hit Points, you can instead consider a bonus Hit Point per level to be a good Favored Class Bonus.  (Avoid the Overwhelming Soul archetype like the plague unless you are planning on being Undead, which a Dwarf isn't good at anyway -- for most people, this archetype should really be called Underwhelming Soul.)
  • Medium:  This is a Charisma-dependent spellcaster, and although it normally only uses 4/9 spellcasting, which you can still shoehorn onto a character with a Charisma penalty, the Archmage and Heirophant Spirits temporarily upgrade this to 6/9 spellcasting, for which the Charisma penalty is borderline unworkable.  The Dwarven racial characteristics do not synergize with the Medium class features unless you choose the lacklustre Favored Class Bonus, which depends upon you running into trouble with your own class features (Haunt Channeler, Location Channel, and Spacious Soul) to get much use of, and is otherwise just too situational to be useful very often (gives a bonus on Saves against Possession).  On top of that, the Medium class itself just doesn't seem very good even if you are not a Dwarf -- the concept is fine, but the execution of the design doesn't seem very good (the playtest version had so much promise -- maybe we'll eventually get a Harrowed Medium archetype that revives and fleshes this out, but I suspect that it still won't be very good for a Dwarf).
  • Mesmerist:  This is another Charisma-dependent spellcaster, this time using 6/9 spellcasting, for which the Charisma penalty is borderline unworkable.  The Favored Class Bonus increases the damage of Painful Stare, but the scaling is too slow to be of much use.
  • Monk (Unchained):  As for Monk, but the Dwarven bonus to Wisdom is even more important due to the poor Will Save on Unchained Monks.
  • Ninja:  As in the guide, but conditionally upgrade the rating, because if you are willing to spend the feats, you can change your Ki Pool to be Wisdom-dependent at 3rd level by way of VMC Monk.  This is better for a Ninja than for a Rogue (unless you are masochistic enough to use pre-Unchained Rogue, which has access to the Ki Pool Rogue Talent), because the Ki Pools from Ninja and VMC Monk stack with respect to points, but must be changed to depend upon the same ability score; however, you get to choose when ability score is used for this.
  • Occultist:  This 6/9 Occult caster is Intelligence-dependent rather than Charisma-dependent, so Dwarven ability score adjustments are not amazing for it, but at least not terrible.  The class design tends to put Occultists on the front line, so the Constitution bonus and other Dwarven characteristics making you harder to take out are helpful, so this is definitely serviceable if not amazing.  The Favored Class Bonus (a bonus of moseying scaling to Appraise and Use Magic Device checks) is specific to stone and metal objects, but fortunately, these are reasonably common, so again, this is serviceable if not amazing.  Overall, a solid choice, which may get somewhat better if you choose the Reliquarian archetype, which makes your Mental Focus (but unfortunately not your spellcasting) Wisdom-dependent.
  • Paladin (Antipaladin):  As already in the guide, but Dwarven racial characteristics other than the Charisma penalty make this decent, especially if you pick an archetype that trades out spellcasting (the Dwarven Stonelord archetype is a good choice, but not the only one); otherwise, choose spells for which Save DC is irrelevant -- fortunately, the Paladin and Antipaladin spell lists have decent options for this.
  • Psychic:  This is the 9/9 Occult caster, and it is Intelligence-Dependent, and you don't get an Intelligence bonus as a Dwarf.  On the other hand, it is also somewhat MAD by design, with Wisdom or Charisma being an important secondary ability score depending upon your choice of Psychic Discipline. The Favored Class Bonus adds +1/2 to your caster level for determining the duration of Abjuration spells, which can be a respectable defensive option, depending upon your choice of (limited) spells known.
  • Rogue:  As in the guide, but upgrade the rating of Rogue -- you don't have a bonus to Dexterity of Intelligence, but you don't have a penalty either, and if you get a Ki Pool as a Rogue (not a Ninja), it even works off Wisdom.  Unfortunately, Unchained Rogue doesn't have access to the Ki Pool Rogue Talent (even though it has access to the Ninja Trick Rogue Talent), but has another legal way to get a Wisdom-dependent Ki Pool:  VMC Monk.  This does eat a lot of feats, though.
  • Shaman:  Dwarves are good at this for the same reasons that they are good Clerics, except that they don't have to worry about losing out on Channeling (except with the Life Spirit); Shaman Hexes, like Shaman spells, depend upon Wisdom.  The Spirit Animal that you need for preparing spells (like a Witch's Familiar, except that you don't need to worry about backup and recovery if you lose it -- just replacement) is the beneficiary of your Favored Class Bonus, although beware that at two archetypes (Speaker for the Past and True Silvered Throne) trade out Spirit Animal but don't change the Favored Class Bonus to something that can be used with the replacement.
  • Skald:  See Bard.  The Favored Class Bonus (SLOWLY reduces Arcane Spell Failure with Heavy Armor and eventually gives you Heavy Armor Proficiency) is terrible, too.
  • Slayer:  Slayers are like Rogues, but are not as Dexterity-dependent and better made for holding their own in straight-up fights, so Dwarves can be decent Slayers.  The Favored Class Bonus (bonuses to Knowledge (Dungeoneeering) and Survival) is only situationally decent -- this will be highly campaign-dependent, so normally I'd skip it.
  • Spiritualist:  If you want to be sort of a Summoner, but without trying to shoehorn past the Charisma penalty, and without being something like a Herald Caller Cleric, this is for you.  The Favored Class Bonus (Shield Bonus to the 3rd level Ectoplasmic Bonded Manifestation ability) scales too slowly to be useful, so skip it.
  • Swashbuckler:  Swashbucklers are like Rogues, but unlike Slayers, they remain just as Dexterity-dependent, for which Dwarves (as previously noted) get no bonus.  Worse, they are also Charisma-dependent, which hurts Dwarves.  The Favored Class Bonus is not terrible (lets you use a battleaxe with Slashing Grace, although unfortunately the scaling for this option is not specified; alternatively gives a decently scaling bonus to Precise Strike damage dealt using a pick).
  • Vigilante (see below for ratings):  Vigilantes are like any of several sorts of other classes, depending upon choice of Vigilante Specialization and/or archetype.  The Dwarven bonus to Constitution and the Hardy trait or the Unstoppable replacement for this helps with the poor Fortitude Save, but the Dwarven penalty to Charisma hurts the social aspects of this class.  The Favored Class Bonus is only useful if you are doing Crafting, but if you are, it is really good.
  • Standard Vigilante with Avenger Specialization:  While this is supposed to be sneaky, it is also supposed to be able to hold its own in a straight-up fight, but only gets d8 Hit Dice -- the Dwarven characteristics that improve survivability are especially welcome here.
  • Standard Vigilante with Stalker Specialization:  This is more like a Rogue -- sneaky but without the Base Attack Bonus improvement, and the lack of Dexterity Bonus adds to the pain of Charisma penalty to make this not so good on a Dwarf.
  • Brute Vigilante:  This is just a bad archetype, regardless of whether or not you are a Dwarf.  The Dwarven characteristics that improve survivability and the Wisdom bonus that helps with the poor Will Save are welcome, but not enough to save it.
  • Cabalist Vigilante:  See Witch, but the lack of Intelligence Bonus hurts less, because this is a 6/9 spellcaster.
  • Gunmaster Vigilante:  This is like a Gunslinger, but the Dwarven Wisdom bonus by default does not do anything for this archetype, and the lack of a Dexterity bonus hurts.  If you do choose this, get the Amateur Gunslinger feat, which gives you a Wisdom-dependent Grit pool.  Even so, you are probably better off just being a Gunslinger.
  • Magical Child Vigilante:  This is like a Summoner, including the Charisma dependence.  Also, this just feels wrong.  On the other hand, the sight of it might be so funny you might want to do it anyway.
  • Mounted Fury Vigilante:  This is the Cavalier substitute Vigilante.  Being a Dwarf doesn't do anything to hurt it, but other than improved survivability, doesn't do much to help it either.  The basic problem is that it just isn't a very good archetype, although at least it isn't as bad as Brute -- still, just be a Cavalier instead.
  • Psychometrist Vigilante with Avenger Specialization:  See Standard Vigilante with Avenger Specialization above, but this adds a certain amount of Intelligence-dependence.  Dwarves don't get an Intelligence bonus, but they don't get a penalty either, so this is probably okay as long as you build carefully.
  • Psychometrist Vigilante with Stalker Specialization:  See Standard Vigilante with Stalker Specialization above, but this adds a certain amount of Intelligence-dependence.  Dwarves don't get an Intelligence bonus, but they don't get a penalty either, so this is probably okay as long as you build carefully, although not as good as with Avenger Specialization for the same reasons that Standard Vigilantes with Stalker Specialization are not as good on a Dwarven chassis as Standard Vigilantes with Avenger Specialization.
  • Warlock Vigilante:  Dwarves will be okay with the spellcasting and Mystic Bolt parts of this archetype (as well as helping in situations in which you find yourself on the front line), for which they get neither bonuses nor penalties, and the Dwarven survivability improvement characteristics help, but the Charisma penalty especially hurts the Social Simulacrum part, which needs to disguise itself as you.  Solidly serviceable, but not amazing.
  • Wildsoul Vigilante with Avenger Specialization:  See Standard Vigilante with Avenger Specialization above, but this adds a certain amount of Intelligence-dependence.  Dwarves don't get an Intelligence bonus, but they don't get a penalty either, so this is probably okay as long as you build carefully.
  • Wildsoul Vigilante with Stalker Specialization:  See Standard Vigilante with Stalker Specialization above, but this adds a certain amount of Intelligence-dependence.  Dwarves don't get an Intelligence bonus, but they don't get a penalty either, so this is probably okay as long as you build carefully, although not as good as with Avenger Specialization for the same reasons that Standard Vigilantes with Stalker Specialization are not as good on a Dwarven chassis as Standard Vigilantes with Avenger Specialization.
  • Zealot Vigilante:  Wisdom-dependent spellcasting (like an Inquisitor) and some abilities that use Wisdom-dependent skills (although not as many as on an Inquisitor) -- now we're talking.  Avoid the Channel Energy Talent, which gives you Channel Energy like a Cleric, including the Charisma dependence.
  • Warpriest:  Dwarves are good at being Warpriests for the same reason that they are good at being Clerics, except that they don't have to worry about losing out on Channeling, because when they get Channeling, it is Wisdom-dependent.  The Favored Class Bonus (adds to the uses per day of Blessings affecting weapons and armor) is not too shabby, provided that you have such Blessings and that they are good in their own right, but you might find yourself more in need of an extra skill point for level, of which this class leaves you in short supply.

Racial Archetypes:
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.

Prestige Classes:
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.

Racial Feats:
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.

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