Archetypes & Builds
Every class in Occult Adventures gets a few archetypes, giving up some abilities to gain others. It can drastically change the class, but if you’re going for a specific build (which I outline a few of below) the Archetype’s can be right up your alley.
The first archetype helps to create a melee focused Occultist. It gains a couple of knowledge skills, and doesn’t give anything up directly for the boost. They aren’t impressive (local and nobility) but they don’t hurt. Most notably, however, is the gain of Heavy Armor and Tower shield proficiency. These couple very well to create a martial minded character, especially defensively.
You’re going to only have 2 implements until level 10 (when you get your third). Those are likely going to be Abjuration and Transmutation, which work to make you a competent frontliner, especially once you have a magic weapon and start giving it Bane. Alternatively, you could choose just Abjuration (for defense) or Transmutation (for offense) and then take a more casterly implement school. This can give you a battle-caster style that can be hard for other classes to get right.
Given the bonus feats, this is also the best option if you want to go after an archery pursuit. Couple this with Gravity Bow as a spell and you’ll be able to throw a lot of damage down range.
Panoply Bond: This is the big mechanic of the archetype, exchanging all of the implements for one. You still have to dedicate focus to each school, but you manage only one implement, that you’ll never really lose. The big benefit, is that you can make this an expensive item, like Full Plate, so you get to start your career with a Masterwork suit of armor (if that’s the route you go). You give up quite a few implements, however, which is going to limit your casting and focus power choices severely.
Battle Skill & Battle Reading: These are just straight nerfs to your standard abilities, restricting what they work on. This is really a tax to pay for your other abilities.
Bonus Feasts: You get one at 4 and ever 4 levels after. You’re going to be in the thick of things, so more feats is a welcome addition. You give up most of your circle based abilities to get these, which isn’t a big loss if you’re the kind of character who wants to focus on a martial pursuit.
Spirit Warrior: Not a bad ability, as the spell itself is pretty potent. As a non-divine class, however, it’s hard to say what weapon form it chooses. Try to follow a martial god so that you’ve got either a wide crit range, or a high crit multiplier. If you can get it, Falcata is a great option. Aura sight is a fair trade for this offensive ability.
Heroic Splendor: Effective at granting you some needed defense or offense, it’s always nice to gain a resource that is this flexible. Again, a fair trade for outside contact, or a trade up if you’re wanting to focus on melee/archery.
It does what it says on the tin, focusing on necromancy and undead minions. The standard Occultist does this pretty well already, so this archetype really needs to offer more for its trade offs.
Necromantic Bond: For being restricted (you effectively gain the bonuses of having two Necromancy implements). There aren’t enough necromancy spells not on your list already to really worry too much about this. You’ll be able to pick up a few debuffs (like ray of enfeeblement) early on, but as you start get get spells at later levels the Occultist list has higher level spells on at a lower level, so this starts to sag a bit.
Deadspeaker: You swap out Object Reading for an equally useful investigation ability. This change is mostly thematic, as the results are dependent heavily on the GM.
Ghostly Horde: Here we go, summoning a horde of ghosts certainly has a nice feel to it, and the damage is hard to resist. It’s a good trade off for aura sight, all things considered.
Life Drain: I’ve never been a big fan of negative levels as an ability in the hands of a PC, but if you’re a GM this is a really interesting ability to use on the heroes. It’s a few hours of negative levels, which can make for an engaging scenario. As a PC, however, I find that handing out negative levels is a bit situational, best used on big-bad’s who are casters. It’s green because you only give up Outside Contact to get it, which I feel is a trade up.
I’m still on the fence about this archetype. I can see some great potential, but I can’t play all the archetypes long enough to really get a feel for how survivable the Jin are. If you’re going the Dresden route (noted below) then this is probably the build you’ll gravitate towards. It’s limited by the 6-level casting of the Occultist, however.
Jin: You lose roughly half your implements, but gain spells to make up for the loss. The net effect is that you limit your pool of Focus Power options, but you gain a wider selection of spells. Most notably, these spells are some of the most iconic and flashy options. Many already exist on the Occulist list, but they are mostly spells you’ll want to have around if you’re going to focus on casting. Replacing a dead Jin is free (except for time) so if you lose one you’re simply hindered temporarily. It’s a fair trade, and the later abilities really make it shine.
Augment Jin: A big boost to the elementals hit points and saves keeps it from dying too often. Although as you level you’re going to need to use this ability to keep it effective in combat. It probably won’t ever be impressive… but an obedient elemental has some incredible uses. Like sending it down a hallway to trigger traps. This ability grows with you, and it really plays well into a blaster or controllers goals.
It should be noted that this does have an effect at low levels. While Jin are normally small elementals, but they lose their elemental ability (air mastery, burn, ect). This gives them that ability back. These abilities have some useful applications, if not always combat effective.
Manifest Jin: There isn’t a lot to this, effectively buffing one of the Jin to full small elemental status at all times. It’s not a big buff and you’re still going to need to Augment the Jin to make it useful in combat.
Jin Spy: I’m not exactly sure what this does for the character. I suppose it implies that before this ability the character doesn’t have control over her Jin. I can’t imagine that’s the case, however, as it would make the class very strange. Few GM’s would want to spend time controlling the Jin. GM’s will likely require this ability to send the Jin away from the Occultist for any real amount of time, I expect.
A truly strange archetype (and the kind I want to see more of), the Tome Eater is a drastic thematic shift for the character. I suspect that a Goblin Tome Eater will appear as a new trope for the Goblins in many Occult focused games.
Bonded Tome: Like the Battle Host the Tome Eater gets only one implement that serves as a focus for his implement schools. It doesn’t change much, but it does add the ability t o buff DC’s a few times per day, which certainly doesn’t hurt.
Devour Books and Scrolls: This ability gets expensive fast, so I don’t suspect it will see much use by PCs. A GM, however, will love stealing scrolls and books and then eating them in front of the heroes. At 6th level, however, this ability starts to shine. The character can swallow incoming spells, effectively having Dispel Magic on demand. It gets even better at 16 when you don’t have to ready an action.
Word Sense: An investigation ability swapped out for aura sight. It comes in at orange, because Aura Sight is likely more useful.
There are three builds that the Occultist gravitates to by default. While other options are certainly available, I consider these to be the roles that the Occultist can perform intuitively by most players.
Either as a frontline specialist or as an archer, the Martial focuses less on his spells and more on his focus powers. He’s a bit more feat heavy than other Occultists, if he chooses the archery route especially, but his focus powers lend potent buffs to his defense and offense. Unlike most Occultists, the Martial benefits from a little multi-classing, most notably Fighter.
Attributes: Int, Str, Dex, Con, Wis, Cha. You’re going to need plenty of mental focus and decent physical stats to stay in the thick of things. If you’re going archery then switch Dex and Str in the order of importance.
Implements: Abjuration & Transmutation. The physical stat boost from transmutation is very effective, allowing you to focus on Int first. The base focus power is also quite powerful, especially once you’ve got a magic weapon and can instead add bonuses like Flaming, Keen, and Bane. Abjuration does just as much for your defenses as Transmutation does for your offense, and should see its way into your implements at level 1 or 2, even if you’re going with archery.
Notes: Without a +1 BaB at first level a lot of good feats are off limits to you. You can start with a level of fighter, to get the bonus feat and the +1 BaB. However, another solid option is to just take Toughness or Heavy Armor Proficiency at level 1. It delays Power Attack, or other offensive feats, but you won’t deeply regret the selection.
Named after Chicago’s premier wizard-detective, the Dresden is an excellent investigator/blaster. He won’t be nuking as heavily as a Sorcerer, but he’ll come pretty close for quite some time.
Attribute: Int, Dex, Con, Wis, Str, Cha. You’re most important stat is Int, and it’s critical enough that sinking an 18 into it is always a good choice. I would even consider dumping a stat to 8 in a game with a 15 point buy, just to get an 18 Int.
Implements: Evocation, Divination, Necromancy. You’re likely going to want the nuke focus powers early on, especially Elemental Blast at level 5. This build will put more focus power into Evocation than anywhere else, allowing it to blast more.
Notes; The class holds up with more dedicated blasters better than you might think. On paper it falls behind, but in practice it gets the job done efficiently. It has added utility that many other blasters won’t have, and with the right Implement choices it can also boast a pretty reliable companion or some mighty investigation abilities.
When in doubt, bring some friends from the underworld/afterlife/elemental planes with you!
Attributes: Int, Con, Cha, Dex, Wis, Str. Like the Dresden, Int is king. followed by more HP and a descent Cha. If you give up your bargaining abilities or don’t plan on taking binding spells then Charisma drops down in the order to below Dex.
Implements: Necromancy, Conjuration, Illusion. All of these implement schools have pets that hang around for long enough to be effective. Necromancy at 10 minutes per level, Conjuration for a full minute, and Illusion for 1 round per level. As you learn the powers of your summoned creatures you’ll gain access to an array of options as well. You can easily have 3 or 4 pretty powerful servants at your disposal. This doesn’t couple as well with the Sha’Ir archetype as you might think, as you’ll be starved for standard actions too frequently.
Notes: I don’t recommend this option for new players, as it requires you to manage multiple actors on the field. The game slows down enough with a new player at the helm of a class with an animal companion, and the mastermind can take that to the extremes. If you can play fast, or you’re in a game with few people, then the Mastermind can shine.