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Blade and Storm: Quark's thoughts on the magus

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Quark

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Great Adventurer
Great Adventurer
Been a while since I've done a little guide like this, and so I thought it was time to do another when I realised I didn't know much about the Magus. I haven't yet finished the Oracle one I was doing because I accidentally closed the window I was doing it in after a few hours work and got frustrated, but I'll finish that up soon, hopefully.



BASIC MAGUS STUFF



BAB 3/4 and d8 HD: Would be nice if these were a little better, since you're going to be a melee frontliner, but there you go.

Skills: You don't get many points, but you benefit from intelligence, so that's not a big issue. You don't have many decent class skills either, so you might want to pick up traits for more interesting ones.

Saves and Proficiencies: Good Will and Fort, as expected for a martial/caster hybrid. You've got martial weapons, which is great, and light armour. You don't have spell failure chance in light armour, so you're a step ahead of many other arcane casters already defence-wise

Spells: You're a 6 level prepared arcane caster.

Arcane Pool: Boost your attack and damage with your weapon. Important for a lot of stuff later on, so the bigger you can get it, the better.

Spell Combat: Cast a spell and attack with melee weapon at the same time with a -2 penalty.

Spellstrike: Deliver a touch spell with your weapon. It's no longer touch, but you gain the benefit of your weapon's critical range (but not its multiplier) for the spell.

Magus Arcana: A collection of abilities that you can pick from. You get 6 in total, so choose wisely! This will be covered in a later section. You can afford to lose one or two for an archetype.

Spell Recall: Spend arcane pool to regain a cast spell.

Bonus Feats: You get three in total, and they can be nearly anything. Nifty if you're using a variant multiclass, but it's not a big issue if you lose them from an archetype.

Knowledge Pool: Spend Arcane Pool to be able to prepare any magus spell, if it's not in your spellbook.

Medium Armour: Can use medium armour, and suffer no spell failure chance with it. You're probably slightly invested in it by this point, but it's nice to have a clear armour upgrade. It's still an extra +2 AC, probably. +5 if you can afford the Mithral. It's not a terrible thing if you archetype loses this.

Improved Spell Combat: +2 on concentration checks when using spell combat. Never a bad thing to be able to concentrate more easily, but there are a number of ways to make this easier, so it's not terrible if you lose this in an archetype.

Fighter Training: Can take fighter feats now. Yay? Not a problem at all if you lose this.

Improved Spell Recall: Spell Recall is now twice as efficient, so you have many more good spells every day. Can also prepare a completely new spell. This is pretty awesome.

Heavy armour: Now you can wear heavy armour with no spell failure chance.You're probably pretty dedicated to your current armour now, but if you can afford to swap, cool. Still slows you down though, but that might be worth the 3 AC. You're probably fine if your archetype loses this.

Greater Spell Combat: Get even bigger concentration bonus when using spell combat. Not a big deal if you lose it, since hopefully you can just make the checks by now anyway. If you can't, this will basically ensure you can't.

Counterstrike: Foes that cast defensively provoke, although this can't disrupt the spell. Especially fun with the step up and strike feat. Since casters become increasingly obnoxious at higher levels, this is nice.

Greater Spell Access: Get a big bunch of wizard spells that you don't normally have access to. Sweet!

True Magus: Always succeed on casting defensively. When targeting the same creature with attacks and spells, DC +2 or Overcome SR +2 or Attack rolls +2. Capstone, so obviously good, although you probably won't reach it.




ARCHETYPES



For this, I'll use a simple system where bold indicates a fabulous archetype, italics represent a good archetype and just plain text indicates it's nothing exciting.

It's worth noting that a number of these are sort of poorly designed, and they remove access to early abilities without also removing access to higher level abilities, so I have gone with the rules as written approach here because it suits me, rather than the normal rules as intended approach that I normally use.

Armoured Battlemage: You get to wear heavier armour earlier at the cost of... spell combat? Also fighter armour training and ability to make armour better instead of weapon and 2 magus arcana. Nope. Skippit.

Beastblade: You get a familiar for your first arcana. It can hold charges for spells while you cast other ones, helps you in combat and you can spend arcane pool to give it spells. You lose out on normal and improved Spell Recall and Knowledge Pool. I can see some fun combos here, particularly with using scrolls in advance.

Bladebound: At the low cost of a slightly reduced arcane pool (a total of 3) and your first magus arcana, you get an awesome magic sword that keeps upgrading itself.

Kapenia Dancer/Bladed Scarf Dancer: Be good with a bladed scarf and get access to a few not-fabulous magus arcana. Add intelligence to AC. You don't get light armour proficiency, but still get medium and heavy later? Also 1 fewer spell per level. Seems like a poor trade-off.

Card Caster: Instead of using a melee weapon, you can throw cards at people (They work like darts). Kind of a gamble. Okay if you want to be slightly more ranged, maybe?

Deep Marshal: Slightly reduced arcane pool, loss of 1st arcana and access to enchantment, illusion and necromancy spells. Early access to heavier armours, a transmutation and abjuration spells, bonuses to CL and free skill ranks. Although you have to pretend to be the most stereotypical dwarf around, which is its biggest downside. Still, the CL boosts are sweet.

Eldritch Archer: use ranged weapons instead of melee. That is all. Whatever floats yer boat.

Eldritch Scion: You're spontaneous instead of prepared. Lose spell recall in exchange for a bloodrager bloodline, although you need to spend arcane pool to activate it. Get bloodline spells in place of knowledge pool, and spell combat chain comes later. I haven't looked at the bloodlines, but they're probably brokenly good, like the rest of the stupid bloodrager class.

Esoteric: Punch people with diminished spells. Flat AC bonuses in place of med and heavy armour (arguably better) lose bonus feats for picking some spells you can use as spelllikes. Also lose spell recall. Not especially fabulous.

Greensting Slayer: Can't enhance weapon, but can do minor sneak attack. Evasion and improved evasion instead of armour proficiencies. Worthwhile trade-off?

Hexcrafter: Swap spell recall for a witch hex. Can take hexes in place of magus arcana, get access to all curses and can deliver them with spellstrike. You don't lose improved spell recall, so this is a net power boost.

Kensai: Be very good at initiative and use an exotic weapon. You can hit pretty hard with that weapon. Lose armour, but gain INT to AC. 1 fewer spell per level. Sadly spells only use a x2 crit instead of your weapon's modifier, so farewell to the idea of deadly falcata magi. Not especially remarkable.

Mindblade: You're a spontaneous psychic caster. Reserve arcane pool for making mental blades that get enhancement bonuses very quickly. Gain access to a big bunch of psychic spells at a steady stream in exchange for Spell Recalls, Knowledge Pool, Greater Spell access and Greater Spell Combat. Can ultimately use Two weapon fighting or two handed weapons and spell combat simultaneously. Might want to pick up Intuitive spell to counteract the horrible concentration checks, or else pick your spells wisely.

Myrmidarch: Lose Spell recalls, 1 spell/level, better spell combats, armours and 3 magus arcana in exchange for 3 fighter weapon trainings, 2 fighter armour trainings and can use spellstrikes on ranged attacks. Also magus levels count as fighter levels relatively quickly. That is, kind of a lot, for not much gain. Next.

Puppetmaster: In a weird twist, a powerful illusionist/enchantment archetype. Spell combats only apply with illusions/enchantments, lose counterstrike, fighter training, armours and spellstrike. You can maintain up to two illusions as a free action and get quickened enchantments for free at level 2!?. Also easy DC/CL boosts for illusions and access to THE ENTIRE BARD LIST. To my immense surprise, this might be one of the best, if not the best, enchanters or illusionists around.

Skirnir: Diminished spellcasting, delayed access to spell combat but early access to spellstrike. Basically be great with a shield. Lose spell recall (but not the better version) in exchange for exceptionally good spellstoring shield. Mostly bad only in that it loses spells, but otherwise actually okay.

Soul Forger: Diminished spellcasting. Be good with one weapon only and making/repairing stuff in exchange for spell recalls. Kind of very terrible.

Spell Trapper: Lose spell recall (but not improved) for ability to make ranger traps, and have reduced magus level when you pick arcana. All up, it's actually a net boon, once you hit level 11.

Spellblade: Lose spellstrike for ability to sacrifice prepared spell slots to make  force dagger, and gain access to some not very good arcana. Very blah. Try the Mindblade instead.

Spire Defender: Oh good, another one that replaces basic abilities but not the later iterations. A free exotic weapon proficiency, Combat expertise and Dodge for free. Spell recall becomes a very short lived bonus to mostly useless skills (except perception, but perception needs to be constantly good). Still, it's worth mentioning as a dip.

Staff Magus: Can wield a staff in one hand, and it applies big bonuses to AC in exchange for armours. The AC bonuses are much bigger than what you'd get from armour anyway. Can also multipurpose magical staffs so that they count as weapons for you. The only disadvantage here is that the staff isn't a very good weapon, although you can simply not use spells that benefit from crits.



MAGUS ARCANA



Using the same system as before with excellent, good, boring.

Accurate Strike: 2 Arcane Pool (shortened to AP here). Swift action to make weapon attacks touch attacks until the end of your turn. Req lv9. Doesn't last long, but it *does* mean you'll almost always hit for your round.

Aquatic Agility: 1 AP. Immediate action to breathe water for round/level and move freely underwater. Rq Lv6. Kind of terrible, and a surprisingly high level required for a weak effect.

Arcane Accuracy: 1 AP, swift action. Add Int on attack rolls. Decent early choice.

Arcane Cloak: 1 AP. Gain int to stealth and bluff when trying to hide for 1 minute. Next.

Arcane Dealer: Get deadly dealer feat without meeting prereqs. Rq lv6. Cool, but ultimately not very good.

Arcane Deed: Get a swashbuckler deed, with hefty penalties. Rq. Flamboyant Arcana. A cursory look shows that most of the options don't work very well with the restrictions, so it's not great.

Arcane Edge: 1 AP, immediate action. Deal your Int modifier as bleed damage. Rq Lv9. Not especially remarkable.

Arcane redoubt: 1 AP, Swift action. Apply shield bonus to touch AC for 1 round. Yeah, that's right, take advantage of that shield you can't use.
    Greater: Spend an extra point to also apply bonus to reflex saves, and even more to get evasion/Improved evasion. Rq Lv12. As good as the last one, which is to say, it is not.

Arcane Scent: 1 AP. Can smell other spellcasters and gauge their strength for hour/level. Since this is basically everything at higher levels, this can be exceptionally useful.

Bane Blade: 1 AP. When you enhance your weapon, also add bane. Rq lv15. Since this is easily adaptable, it's a nifty +2 to hit and damage, with an extra 2d6 damage for good measure. Very nice.

Broad Study: Can use spells from another class with spellstrike and spell combat. Rq lv6. Works with variant multiclass well. Shame it's such a high level, or you could really do some cool things.

Close Range: Deliver ranged touch attacks as melee touch attacks. Frees up your options nicely for spellstrike, and when you can ultimately deliver disintegrate with a big critical range with this, it seems okay.

Concentrate: 1/day reroll a concentration check w. +4 bonus. Shame it's only 1/day, or this would be much better. Nice at early levels, but ultimately skipable.

Critical Strike: 1/day get a free quickened touch spell when you get a crit. Rq Lv12. Sweet!

Dark Shifter: 1 AP, move action. Move a magical darkness effect around. Rq lv6. Unlikely to come up, so skip it.

Devoted Blade: 1 AP, when you enhance your weapon. Give holy/axiomatic/anarchic/unholy to your weapon. Extra damage is always nifty.

Dispelling Strike: 1+ AP, swift action. Can attempt to dispel spells of level equal to or lower than AP spent. Rq lv9. Expensive, but can be worth it.

Disruptive: Get Disruptive as a bonus feat. Rq lv6. Shame the feat's as bad as it is in practice.

Distant Spellstrike: Deliver spellstrikes from further away. Rq lv12 and ranged spellstrike. Might as well nab it if you can, since only specific archetypes can grab it.

Divinatory Strike: When you crit a creature, get nat 20 on knowledge check to identify it. Potentially life-saving.

Enduring Blade: 1 AP, when boosting weapon. Duration of enhancement increases to minute/level. Rq lv6. If you're using it, might as well make it last that much longer.

Empowered Magic: 1/day, a spell is empowered. without increasing casting time or spell level. Nifty.

Familiar:  You get a familiar. I'm not especially impressed with them, but it's okay, I suppose.

Flamboyant Arcana: Get derring-do and parry and riposte swashbuckler deeds. The parry one is great, although you kind of suffer from using your AP instead of Panashe.

Ghost Blade: 1 AP, when enhancing weapon. Gain Ghost touch and brilliant energy as weapon options. Rq lv9. Both of these are fabulous, situationally. Need lots of humanoids/ghosts to be worth it.

Hasted Assault: 1 AP, swift action. Haste on yourself for Int Mod rounds. Extra attacks and to hit are always nifty, especially when you can apply it so readily.

Intuitive protection: 1 AP, immediate action. When someone casts a summon spell, cast protection/magic circle vs alignment on yourself. Depends very much on how often you see things summoned.

Ki Arcana: Swap ki and AP. Rq lv 6. Potentially a huge boost to AP, and works perfectly with Rogue to get finesse training. Well, except for losing spells, but win some, lose some. Otherwise again nifty for variant multiclass.

Lingering Pain: 1 AP, immediate action. Damage from attack is considered ongoing for the purposes of concentration. Plonk this on a good strong crit and they won't be able to cast, which is awesome. It's much harder to concentrate normally compared to defensively.

Manoeuvre Mastery: Use magus level in place of bab for combat manoeuvres. Can be nice to trip stuff better, I guess.

Maximised Magic: 1/day, free maximise of a spell. rq lv12. Any maximise is a good maximise.

Natural spell combat: Include a natural attack form when you use spell combat. Seems like a great choice for monsters.

Planar Hunter: 1+ AP, when enhancing weapon. Add planar or phase locking property to weapon. Phase locking is particularly nifty, but planar will be bound to turn up at some stage in any game.

Pool Ray: 1 AP. 1d6/3 levels energy ray on a ranged weapon for one shot. Can combine nicely if you have ranged spellstrike, but otherwise it's kind of awful. Nice as a pre-battle buff though.

Pool Strike: 1 AP. 1d6 + 1d6/3 levels energy touch attack. Not fabulous, but a nice pre-battle buff.
    Arcing: +1 AP. Damage also hits some enemies nearby. Rq lv12. Now this is actually pretty awesome.
    Clinging: +1 AP. half Damage for one target comes again at start of its round. Can do fun concentration things, I guess.
    Thunderous: +1 AP. Does sonic damage, and can deafen a target. Well, at least stuff can't resist it now.

Prescient attack: 1 AP, immediate action after hitting. Target is flat-footed against your attacks until end of your next turn. Rq lv6. Actually a pretty nice hit bonus, potentially.

Prescient defense: 1 AP, immediate action after hitting. Rq lv9. Gaint Int to AC and Reflex vs that target for a turn. Can be a nice AC buff.

Quickened magic: One free quickened spell per day. Rq lv15. Any quicken is a good quicken.

Rakshasa's Fortune: Can make polymorphs much stronger, or much weaker. Rq lv9 For the risky among you.

Ranger Trap: Learn a ranger trap. rq lv10. (?) Mostly these aren't especially good.

Reach Magic: 1/day free reach spell. Kind of split on this, but I suppose it can be handy if you've only prepared touch spells. You're honestly probably better off taking close range to avoid the issue.

Reach Spellstrike: Inverse of close range; use touch spells with ranged spellstrike. Rq lv9. Opens up some options for you which you might appreciate.

Reflection: 1+AP, immediate action. Reflect spell back as spell turning, based on AP spent (or gain insight bonus if insufficient points). Rq lv15. THIS IS AWESOME.

Rod Mastery: Use your own Intelligence for rod spell DCs. Maybe sometimes okay?

Rod Wielder: Add Int Mod when trying to beat SR with a rod's spells or spellstrike with a rod. Actually pretty decent, since metamagic rods are great, and it's cool to be able to use them.

Scroll mastery: 1AP. Use own int mod to determine scroll's DC. Can be pretty nifty.

Silent magic: You know the drill, but silent this time. Occassionally useful, I guess.

Spell Blending: Gain 1 or 2 wizard spells. Can be pretty nifty for getting things not on your list (spellstrike enervation, for instance)

Spell Shield: 1 AP, immediate action. Gain Int as shield bonus. Nifty as a panic button maybe?

Spell Trickery: 1/day when using dirty trick, swift action to cast enchantment or illusion spell. Rq lv12. Combining the best CM with quickened spells is cool.

Spell-scars: Tattoo a bunch of scrolls on your skin, and can prepare them without a spellbook. Potentially useful?

Spellbreaker: Creatures that fail to cast defensively provoke. Rq lv9. It's kind of rare to see something fail, so it's not a great choice.

Still Magic: You know the drill, but stilled. Very situational.

Throwing Magus: 1 AP, when enhancing weapon. Can add throwing and returning to available options. When you throw it, can regain AP (max your int mod) and enhance a new weapon as a free action. Actually kind of cool to be able to regain AP, but this is maybe not the best way of doing it.

Vision clouding strike: 1+ AP, swift action. Things hit by you for a minute think you're in dim light on a failed will save. Rq Fetchling, lv9. Not especially impressive.

Wand Mastery: Use your Int for determining save DC on wands. Can be pretty awesome, potentially.

Wand Wielder: Use staff or wand when using spell combat. Keep those spells for when you actually need them and use a wand in the mean time.




TOP MAGUS SPELLS



0th level spells

Arcane mark: Magical Graffiti. Notable largely only in that it's the only touch cantrip around.
Detect magic: It's a magic based game, so being able to detect is important.
Light: Long lasting illumination.
Prestidigitation: Variety of useful effects.
Read Magic: It takes an hour just to understand a new spell you want to add to your spellbook, but this spell cuts it down to a few seconds.

1st level spells

Burning hands: Area of effect fire damage.
Corrosive touch: Basic SR free touch spell.
Frostbite: Nonlethal damage touch spell, which is sometimes useful. Multiple use. Damage is lower than other spells.
Illusion of Calm: Don't need to cast defensively and can withdraw easily.
Infernal Healing: Nifty healing spell for out of combat.
Long Arm: Expands your reach, letting you hit from further away.
Shield: Increase AC.
Shocking Grasp: Moderate damage touch spell. Gain bonus on the attack roll if they have metal on them, making it an exceptional choice for spellstrike.

2nd level spells

Bladed dash: Spring attack, the spell
Elemental touch: multiple round touch attack of variable elements. No SR.
Frigid touch: Automatic stagger if it hits.
Glitterdust: Reveals invisible opponents and blinds them.
Mirror image: Gain decent chance of attacks missing you.

3rd level spells

Dispel magic: Remove those pesky spells from other people!
Fireball: Classic area damage spell
Force Hook Charge: Move yourself mid-attack.
Force Punch: Force damage touch attack that pushes things away.
Haste: Multi-person speed boost, gives extra attacks.
Vampiric Touch: Damaging touch attack that heals your simultaneously.

4th level spells

Arcana Theft: Steal a magical effect with a touch.
Dimension door: Teleport a moderate distance
Forceful strike: Swift action extra damage on a successful hit.

5th level spells

Greater Bladed Dash: Move and attack every creature you pass.
Corrosive consumption: Slow to start, but high damage touch attack.
Dimensional blade: Swift action, attacks this round are effectively incorporeal.
Overland flight: Long duration flight.

6th level spells

Disintegrate: Woo, worth taking close range for this one! Massive damage on a ranged touch attack.
Greater Dispel Magic: Get rid of even more pesky spells!


And that's the end of it. Surprisingly few exciting spells, but maybe I'm just being picky. It's worth looking at your options for blended arcana though!


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