Thursday, June 4, 2015

Races of Pathfinder: Human

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.

Racial Traits:
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.

Alternate Race Traits:
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.

UnArcaneElection's Thoughts on Alternate Racial Traits
  • Adoptive Parentage: Humans are sometimes orphaned and adopted by other races. Choose one humanoid race without the human subtype. You start play with that race's languages and gain that race's weapon familiarity racial trait (if any). If the race does not have weapon familiarity, you gain either Skill Focus or Weapon Focus as a bonus feat that is appropriate for that race instead. This racial trait replaces the bonus feat trait.  As you have in the guide, but in a few cases the Weapon Familarity could actually be quite useful -- DwarfElf, and Half-Orc/Orc come to mind.  But if these don't suit you, also keep in mind Military Tradition.
  • Awareness: Humans raised within monastic traditions or communities that encourage mindfulness seem to shrug off many dangers more easily than other humans. They gain a +1 racial bonuson all saving throws and concentration checks. This racial trait replaces humans' bonus feat. Source PCS:ISR  A flat +1 racial bonus on all saving throws and concentration checks for the price of a feat?  Not bad.
  • Comprehensive Education: Humans raised with skilled teachers draw upon vast swathes of knowledge gained over centuries of civilization. They gain all Knowledge skills as class skills, and they gain a +1 racial bonus on skill checks for each Knowledge skill that they gain as a class skill from their class levels. This racial trait replaces skilled. Source PCS:ISR  If you are using a class that doesn't have a lot of Knowledge skills as class skills, but gives you a lot of skill ranks or requires you to have a high Intelligence (which gives you a lot of skill ranks), this could be good.
  • 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. Humans can take this trait in place of the skilled trait, also gaining darkvision to a range of 60 feet. Source PPC:BoS  The Human version of Dimdweller is a LOT better than some other races' versions of Dimdweller -- although it hurts to give up Skilled, you not only get situational bonuses on several skills, but you also get Darkvision!
  • Dual Talent: Some humans are uniquely skilled at maximizing their natural gifts. These humans pick two ability scores and gain a +2 racial bonus in each of those scores. This racial trait replaces the +2 bonus to any one ability score, the bonus feat, and the skilled traits.  As you have in the guide, but now that more MAD options are available (such as Arcanist, Psychic, Shaman or Spirit Guide Oracle with the Lore Spirit, and Unchained Monk, this alternate racial trait has gotten even better with age.  Unfortunately, with the advent of feat hoovers like Variant Multiclassing and various new Style Feat chains, the Human Bonus Feat has also gotten more important with time.
  • 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 druidspell. 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. In addition, select two of the following skills: AcrobaticsBluffClimbDiplomacyDisguiseEscape ArtistFlyKnowledge (nature), PerceptionPerformSense MotiveSleight of HandStealthSwim, or Use Magic Device. The selected skills are always class skills for the character. Lastly, the human also gains low-light vision. This trait replaces skilled. SourceHotW  Note that Fey Magic has different ratings for different races, due to replacing different things, and in the case of Human, actually being 2 alternate racial traits in one.  In the case of Human, it replaces something important, namely Skilled, but on the other hand, it gives the equivalent of other races' Fey Thoughts, plus Low Light Vision, and these latter benefits aren't even dependent upon the terrain!
  • Industrious: Humans are known for their drive and work ethic. Humans with this racial trait gain a +2 racial bonus on concentrationchecks and checks with their choice of one Craft or Profession skill. This racial trait replaces skilled. Source PCS:ISR  This wouldn't be bad, except that you can be better with Awareness (and then spending some of the skill ranks you saved by not trading out Skilled to get more proficient in the Craft or Profession skill you want).
  • Innovative: Humans have come to shape the world because they are inveterate innovators. Humans with this racial trait gain a +2 racial bonus on Knowledge (arcana) and Spellcraft checks to independently research spells, create magic items they have never encountered before, and identify unique magical effects. They also gain a +2 racial bonus on Charisma-based skill checks to persuade others to adopt a new ideology or further the cause of discovery and progress. This racial trait replaces skilled. Source PCS:ISR  This sounds nice, but the wording is a bit odd -- does this mean that if you have seen a certain magic item, and you want to reverse-engineer it, you DON'T get the bonuses?
  • Institutional Memory: Humans rely on their institutions to remember the distant past and to preserve their own memories for the distant future. They gain a +4 racial bonus on Knowledge checks to answer questions about any organizations, guilds, or religions to which they belong, and they can attempt such skill checks untrained. This racial trait replaces skilled. Source PCS:ISR  I'd rather have the skill points to spend on getting trained in these skills, but a +4 racial bonus is undeniably attractive in the right situations.
  • Military Tradition: Several human cultures raise all children (or all children of a certain social class) to serve in the military or defend themselves with force of arms. They gain proficiency with up to two martial or exotic weapons appropriate to their culture. This racial trait replaces the bonus feat trait. Source PCS:ISR  Getting proficiency in 2 exotic weapons for the price of 1 feat could be a steal, but the devil is in the details:  What military tradition can you fit your background into, and what particular weapons does it give you?  This is highly setting- and campaign- (and GM-) dependent; possible results range from total stinkers to totally awesome, although more common results will be in between.
  • Poison Minion (4 RP)Drow sometimes augment their slaves and frontline warriors by making them toxic, causing their bodies to internally produce mawbane poison (see below). 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. Humans can take this trait in place of skilled. Source PPC:BoS  Repeat after me:  I am not a minion.  I am not a minion   I am not a minion . . .
  • Practiced Hunter: Members of some human cultures train from youth to find and follow the trails of vital game and at the same time hide the evidence of their own passage. These humans gain a +2 racial bonus on Stealth and Survival checks, and Stealth and Survival are always class skills for them. This racial trait replaces skilled. Source PCS:ISR  If you need to be a sneaky survivalist, but your class doesn't support this, but otherwise lets you get a good number of skill ranks without the Skilled trait, this is for you.
  • Self-Made Fate: Some humans build nations that deny the importance of gods and divine magic, and those raised to avoid divine influence develop a knack for defying divine magic. They gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against divine spells and spell-like abilities, as well as the spells and spell-like abilities of aeons, psychopomps, and outsiders with an alignment subtype. This racial trait replaces the bonus feat trait. Source PCS:ISR  Although this seems to be specific to Rahadoum (in the Pathfinder Campaign Setting), it is a decent defensive bonus against the creature types/subtypes named above; unfortunately, it doesn't do anything to help you against non-divine spells from other sources.  Still pretty good in the right circumstances, and only costs you a feat.
  • 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 undeadcreatures at a rate of 2 points per ability score per day (rather than the normal 1 point per ability score per day). Humans can take this trait in place of their bonus feat, also gaining Iron Will as a bonus feat. Source PPC:BoS  For the price of a feat, 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.
  • Social Ties: Some human societies run on complex webs of favors and loyalties that canny members can intuitively exploit with relative ease. These humans gain a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy checks, and on any skill checks to recruit members and teams for an organization. They also add a +1 racial bonus to their Leadershipscores (if they gain the Leadership feat). This racial trait replaces skilled. Source PCS:ISR  I'd rather have the skill ranks from Skilled to invest in Diplomacy, and use Focused Study to get Skill Focus (Diplomacy) and eventually 2 other Skill Focus feats.  This gets better if you are planning to take Leadership.
  • Tribalistic: Many humans naturally form into cliques or tribes, and these humans work exceptionally well with those they view as fellow tribe members. Such humans gain a +2 racial bonus on attack rollsand skill checks to use the aid another action to aid humans of the same ethnicity. Humans with this racial trait must hail from an ethnicity that has its own language other than Common, and they only start with that language; if they have high Intelligence scores, they can select their bonus languages from among Common, GiantGoblin, and Halfling. This racial trait alters starting and bonus languages. Source PCS:ISR  The language restriction hurts, but if you are going to be from a tribal society that uses Aid Another and Teamwork Feats a lot, this could be amazing.  Unfortunately, it is rare to find other PCs that are actually willing to build for this.
  • Unstoppable Magic: Humans from civilizations built upon advancedmagic are educated in a variety of ways to accomplish their magical goals. They gain a +2 racial bonus on caster level checks against spell resistance. This racial trait replaces the bonus feat trait. SourcePCS:ISR  In the right circumstances, Spell Penetration can be worth a feat, which is how much this costs, with the same effect . . . and they stack.
  • Wayfarer: Humans maintain the largest trade networks and the farthest-reaching civilizations, putting them in contact with a huge number of cultures. Humans with this racial trait gain a +2 racial bonus on Survival checks to avoid becoming lost, Knowledge(geography) checks, and Knowledge (local) checks. Whenever these humans gain a rank in Linguistics, they learn two languages rather than one. This racial trait replaces skilled. Source PCS:ISR  A bonus on Survival to avoid getting lost is narrow, but could save your life; Knowledge (Local) is good to get a bonus on; if you want to be a master of languages, the last bonus could be nice.  But in most cases, you would be better off with the extra skill ranks from Skilled.

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. Make sure to consider the Nature Warden prestige class if you do go with the Feral Child, as it has many benefits.

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.
Racial Favored Class Bonuses:
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.

UnArcaneElection's Thoughts on Classes
  • Arcanist:  Like a Wizard, this is a 9/9 Intelligence-dependent spellcaster, and Humans  have an Intelligence Bonus if they want it, and while some Arcanist Exploits are Charisma-dependent, Humans have no Charisma penalty, although no bonus either, although you could use the Dual Talent alternate racial trait to get this..  The latter would push Arcanist beyond blue, except that Human Favored Class Bonus is a trap, like the one for Wizard).
  • Barbarian and Bloodrager:  Humans have a floating ability score bonus and a Bonus Feat (or Dual Talent), allowing them to be solid Barbarians and Bloodragers, although unfortunately they have nothing like Elven Immunities.  The Favored Class Bonus for Barbarian (add a +1/2 bonus to trap sense or +1/3 to the bonus from the superstitious rage power) is lacklustre, unless either of its situations comes up a lot in your campaign.  The Favored Class Bonus for Bloodrager is actually different and very good, giving you an extra round of Bloodrage per level; if you use a Bloodrager archetype like Metamagic Rager that expends rounds of Bloodrage for purposes other than maintaining the Bloodrage itself, this becomes almost a must-have.
  • Brawler:  Humans have no particular handicap for being Brawlers, and the Bonus Feat (or even Dual Talent) is always helpful.  The Favored Class Bonus gives you a rapidly scaling CMD bonus to 2 combat maneuvers of your choice.
  • Hunter:  This class is a hybrid between Druid and Ranger, and Humans can be decent at it for the same reasons they are decent at Druid and Ranger.  Note that the lack of Darkvision hurts Human Rangers and Hunters.  The Favored Class Bonus (extra skill rank per level to your Animal Companion) is pretty good.  Of course, both Hunter and Ranger get better if you actually do manage to get Darkvision, such as by using the Dimdweller alternate racial trait.
  • Investigator:  Like Alchemist, Investigator is Intelligence-based, although with no Bombs.  The Favored Class Bonus (extra Extracts in your Formula Book) is a trap unless you live and work in such a dump that you can't pick up Extracts from purchases or loot.
  • Kineticist:   Kineticist is a quasi-spellcaster whose primary (quasi-)spellcasting attribute is Constitution, for which Humans have a bonus if they want it.  The Favored Class Bonus gives you extra Wild Talents, but VERY SLOWLY, so you can instead consider a bonus Hit Point per level to be a good Favored Class Bonus.  (Avoid the Overwhelming Soul archetype unless you are planning on being Undead -- 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 is fine on a character with no Charisma bonus or penalty, the Archmage and Heirophant Spirits temporarily upgrade this to 6/9 spellcasting, and Humans get a Charisma bonus if they want it.  The Favored Class Bonus slowly gives you more extra uses of Spirit Surge without incurring Influence, provided that you are usinga  Taboo.  The basic problem is that the Medium class itself just doesn't seem very good no matter what race you are -- 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, and if it works okay in general, it should be okay for a Human).
  • Mesmerist:  This is another Charisma-dependent spellcaster, this time using 6/9 spellcasting, and Humans get a Charisma bonus if they want it.  The Favored Class Bonus gives a decently scaling bonus to Towering Ego, but caps out after 6 levels, so switch to one of the other Favored Class Bonuses after this.
  • Monk (Unchained):  As for Monk, but lacks access to most Monk archetypes.  Monk is MAD and (due to losing the good Will Save, which requires more Wisdom investment to compensate) Unchained Monk is even more MAD, for which the Dual Talent alternate racial trait is a big help.
  • Occultist:  This 6/9 Occult caster is Intelligence-dependent (except Wisdom-dependent for the Reliquarian archetype) rather than Charisma-dependent, and Humans have an Intelligence (or Wisdom) bonus if they want it.  The  Favored Class Bonus (adding Focus Powers) is a nice idea, but scales far too slowly to be of much use.
  • Psychic:  This is the 9/9 Occult caster, and it is Intelligence-Dependent, andHumans  get an Intelligence bonus if they want it.  On the other hand, it is also somewhat MAD by design, with Wisdomor Charisma being an important secondary ability score depending upon your choice of Psychic Discipline.  The Favored Class Bonusadds spells known, which is very good on any spellcaster having a limited number of spells known
  • Rogue:  As in the guide, but now the Eldritch Scoundrel archetype is available that trades out some of your skill points, Sneak Attack, and Rogue Talents for Intelligence-based 6/9 spellcasting.
  • Shaman:  This is a Wisdom-dependent 9/9 spellcasting and Hexing class, andHumans  get a Wisdom bonus if they want it, but it also tends to be MAD, for which the Dual Talent alternate racial trait is a big help.  The Favored Class Bonus adds Cleric spells that are not already on the Shaman spell list to your spell list, which is very good, because the Shaman spell list is rather limited out of the box.
  • Skald:  See Bard, except that Skalds are more martial (and thus more likely to get beat on), including getting martial weapon proficiency and Medium Armor  The Favored Class Bonus adds spells known, which is very good on any spellcaster having a limited number of spells known
  • Slayer:  Slayers are like Rogues, but are not as Dexterity-dependent and better made for holding their own in straight-up fights; the ability to take Ranger Combat Styles helps, including with the option to go ranged, preferably using the Sniper archetype; however, unlike the case for Elves, you don't have to feel pressured to go ranged, since Humans have no Constitution penalty.   The Favored Class Bonus (adding Slayer Talents) is a nice idea, but scales far too slowly to be of much use.
  • Spiritualist:  If you want to be sort of a Summoner, but Wisdom-based, and without being something like a Herald Caller Cleric, this is for you, and Humans have a Wisdom bonus if they want it.  The Favored Class Bonus (1 hit point or 1 skill point for your Phantom) is just okay.
  • Swashbuckler:  Swashbucklers are like Rogues, but unlike Slayers, they remain just as Dexterity-dependent, for which Half-Elves get a bonus if they want it.  They are also Charisma-dependent.  The Favored Class Bonus gives you scaling of your maximum Panache with level -- the scaling is a mosey, but normally you wouldn't get ANY increase in Panache with level, so this is pretty good, although note that (unlike the Extra Grit/Extra Panache feat) it doesn't increase the rate of recharge of your Panache pool, so you still need to watch your Panache spending.
  • 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 Half-Elven floating ability score bonus is good for this class in general -- where you put it depends upon choice of Vigilante Specialization and/or archetype.  The Favored Class Bonus gives you a rapidly scaling bonus to Seamless Guise.
    • 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.
    • Standard Vigilante with Stalker Specialization:  This is more like a Rogue -- sneaky but without the Base Attack Bonus improvement.
    • Brute Vigilante:  This is just a bad archetype, no matter what you are.
    • Cabalist Vigilante:  See Witch.
    • Gunmaster Vigilante:  This is like a Gunslinger.  Still, you are probably better off just being a Gunslinger.
    • Magical Child Vigilante:  This is like a Summoner.
    • Mounted Fury Vigilante:  This is the Cavalier substitute Vigilante.  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.
    • Psychometrist Vigilante with Stalker Specialization:  See Standard Vigilante with Stalker Specialization above, but this adds a certain amount of Intelligence-dependence.
    • Warlock Vigilante:  Intelligence-dependent spellcasting, but don't dump Charisma, since you need this for your Social Simulacra to disguise themselves as you.
    • Wildsoul Vigilante with Avenger Specialization:  See Standard Vigilante with Avenger Specialization above, but this adds a certain amount of Intelligence-dependence.
    • Wildsoul Vigilante with Stalker Specialization:  See Standard Vigilante with Stalker Specialization above, but this adds a certain amount of Intelligence-dependence.
    • Zealot Vigilante:  Wisdom-dependent spellcasting and some abilities that use Wisdom-dependent skills.
  • Warpriest:  Humans are good at being Warpriests for the same reasons they are good at being Clerics.  The Favored Class Bonus(bonus combat feats) is a nice idea, but scales too slowly to be of much use.
  • Alchemist:  This is Intelligence-based AND has high skill ranks per level, and is MAD, so as long as you aren't using VMC or something like that, go ahead and get Dual Talent, and go wild . . . except of course, beware that, as with any race, Alchemist tends to be dangerous to the user.  As with the Human Favored Class Bonus for Wizard, the one for Alchemist is a trap unless you live and work in a total dump where you can't find or buy Extract formulas.
  • Bard  Although this isn't Intelligence-based, the high emphasis on Intelligence-based skills (especially Knowledge) means that you'll want to have a decent Intelligence bonus, and Bard tends to be somewhat MAD anyway, making Dual Talent a good option for this, although not as outstanding as in classes that are actually Intelligenc-based.  Alternatively, if you really want to go all-in on the skills, and especially if you want Eldritch Heritage, get Focused Study.  The Favored Class Bonus adds spells known, which is very good on any spellcaster having a limited number of spells known.
  • Cleric.  Clerics tend to be surprisingly MAD, especially if you are doing something crazy like a Reach Build AND trying to Channel decently.  Unfortunately, Clerics both have low skill ranks per level and can't afford to spend much on Intelligence, making the normally attractive Dual Talent only okay, whereas they tend to be feat-starved, thus making the standard Human Bonus Feat more attractive.  If you want to be a summoning Cleric, consider the Herald Caller archetype, which not only lets you be a Divine Summoner, but helps with both feat starvation and skill starvation.  Some other Cleric archetypes also add skill ranks, but otherwise don't get you enough for what they trade out (Cloistered Cleric and Cardinal).  The Favored Class Bonus (add a +1 bonus on caster level checks made to overcome the spell resistance of outsiders) is highly situational, but if you find yourself in that situation often (for instance, Wrath of the Righteous), you'll be really glad to have it.
  • Inquisitor.  Unlike Clerics, Inquisitors have somewhat less Wisdom dependence (although this is still their primary spellcasting ability score, and Humans can get their bonus there if they want it), and have more base skill ranks per level, and get bonus Teamwork Feats that they can still use even if all their teammates are selfish jerks, thus somewhat lessening the feat starvation -- this combination makes Dual Talent more attractive, although the standard Human Bonus Feat is still attractive as well.  The Favored Class Bonus adds spells known, which is very good on any spellcaster having a limited number of spells known.
  • Magus:  Magi tend to be both MAD and feat-starved (despite getting a few bonus feats), as well as Intelligence-based, making for a tough choice between Dual Talent and the standard Human Bonus Feat.  A very good Magus guide that is currently still being updated is available:  Myrrh, Frankincense, and Steel: Kurald Galain's Guide to the Magus (advertises "Core, APG, ARG, UC, UM", but actually has plenty of stuff from newer books as well).  The Favored Class Bonus adds (slowly) to your Arcane Pool, which is attractive, but you might not be able to afford as much Constitution as you really need on this d8 Hit Die class, and might have to go with the Hit Points.
  • Ninja and Rogue.  Human is a generally solid choice for Ninja or Rogue, although the lack of Darkvision hurts (but see the Dimdweller alternate racial trait).  On the other hand, the standard Human Bonus Feat helps with the feat starvation that these classes tend to suffer; alternatively, the Military Tradition alternate racial trait could get you the Exotic weapons that you want for some buzz-saw two-weapon build.  The Favored Class Bonus (adding Rogue Talents) sounds nice, but scales too slowly to be of much use.
  • Paladin.  The Divine Grace class feature (unless you choose an archetype that trades this out) helps make this class less MAD than you would think, but it is highly feat-starved if you are doing anything other than a two-handed (Castigator) build, so you want to keep the standard Human Bonus Feat.  The Favored Class Bonus (Energy Resistance) is situational, but has flexibility of energy type (although if you exercise this flexibility to the fullest, the scaling is rather slow).
  • Ranger.  Humans can be decent Rangers, although the lack of Darkvision hurts (but see the Dimdweller alternate racial trait).  The high base skill points and tendency to be MAD, combined with Ranger Combat Style feats tends to favor Dual Talent, although the standard Human Bonus Feat is still a solid option if you need a lot of feats outside of your Ranger Combat Style.  Sine you are s[specializing in Favored Terrains anyway (unless you take an archetype that trades this out), but don't get any Cantrips/Orisons from your Ranger spellcasting, if you AREN'T getting Dual Talent, you might as well replace Skilled with Fey Magic.  The Favored Class Bonus adds a skill rank or hit point to your Animal Companion, which is not bad if you don't need these for yourself.
  • Sorcerer.  The standard Human Bonus Feat is good for compensating for the slow rate at which Sorcerers get bonus feats (and from a limited pool, at that).  Alternatively, Focused Study is good if you want to get Bloodline Powers from some other Bloodline by way of Eldritch Heritage rather than taking the Crossblooded archetype.  Note that the Orc Bloodline is not limited to Orcs and Half-Orcs, which means that Humans can get it without needing to invest in Racial Heritage -- this Bloodline is another way for Humans to get Darkvision; with this Bloodline, you temporarily suffer from Light Sensitivity, but eventually outgrow it.  The Favored Class Bonus adds spells known, which is very good on any spellcaster having a limited number of spells known, although do note that since the spells you get must be at least 1 level lower than the highest you can cast, it does not fully alleviate the penalty of the Crossblooded archetype.
  • Summoner.  This Charisma-dependent 6/9 spellcaster is not terribly MAD and not terribly feat-starved, but doesn't get many skill ranks, so usually you will generally want to avoid Dual Talent (which replaces Skilled as well as your Bonus Feat), but might consider trading your Bonus Feat for something else.  The Favored Class Bonus adds a skill rank or hit point to your Eidolon, which is not bad if you don't need these for yourself; however, keep in mind that if you get knocked out because you didn't have enough hit points, your Eidolon goes poof even if you were giving it bonus hit points.
  • Witch and Wizard.  Both of these are Intelligence-dependent 9/9 spellcasters, but not inherently very MAD, so it's up to your particular build whether you'll want to go with Dual Talent (to let you choose a bit of MADness) or the standard Human Bonus Feat (to get you up and running faster).  The Favored Class Bonus for both of these is a trap, unless you live and work in such a dump that you can't find or buy spells to add to your Familiar or spellbook.

Racial Archetypes:
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. It does, however, lead into the Nature Warden prestige class very easily, so consider that option as well.

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.

Prestige Classes:

Nature Warden: The Nature Warden prestige class was obviously written to allow multiclass Druid/Rangers to increase their abilities in class features from both classes at once, and that's awesome. However, the human-only Feral Child archetype can actually qualify for this prestige class all on its own, and that makes it an extremely powerful option.  One of my favorite abilities of the Nature Warden is giving your animal companion AND summoned creatures damage reduction bypassed by silver (or later, cold iron) equal to your class level! This is the only class in the game that I know of which has DR that scales in quite this way. You can qualify for the Nature Warden class at level 6 of Feral Child, and you should definitely start taking levels of this prestige class ASAP. Make sure to take the Eye for Talent racial option and the Huntmaster feat, both of which will significantly improve your animal companion's power level.

Racial Feats:
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.

1 comment:

  1. I respectfully disagree with your assessment of Dual Talent. First, an Int-based caster was already going to use their floating stat bonus to improve their intelligence, so for such a character this does *not* replace the Skilled bonus. Instead, a typical int-caster will put their bonus into Dex or Con, the latter of which gives them the equivalent of a feat that's good for them (toughness) and another half of a feat that isn't that great for them (great fortitude) and not a lot else. Which is less than a floating bonus feat and an extra skill point per level, according to Paizo's standard "1 skill point per level = 1 feat" metric.

    More generally, Dual Talent will only ever give you a +2 bonus to your *second-favourite* ability score. And it costs you two bonus feats to get it. So for it to be useful, a +2 to your second favourite ability score needs to be worth as much as two feats. I know of few builds on which that would be true. And if that really is true for your build, you'll be better off finding a race which gives +2 to the two important scores, and -2 to a score you don't care about, and gives you some actual racial features.