Brick by Brick

In my last post, I went over a hopefully useful tool that can help you generally figure out what sort of character fits a concept you might have based on its strengths in different areas. This time, we’re going to quickly go through each class in Pathfinder Second Edition’s Core Rulebook, Advanced Player’s Guide, Secrets of Magic, Guns & Gears, and Dark Archive. You can refer to that post for an explanation of what each ranking generally means for a class.

EVERYTHING IN IT’S PLACE

Here’s my version of the chart for Pathfinder 2e classes. Below, I’ll explain each one of my choices. As a rule of thumb, you can probably lower any category by one or even two points to shore up a different one when making a particular build of a class. These are purposefully generalizations.

Alchemist C4 M6 S2 OR C6 M1 S4
Right off the bat, there’s a problem with this system. Alchemist in P2e varies depending on how you view Alchemy in regards to magic. In 1e, they had “Supernatural” effects, magical but not actual spellcasting. If you think that alchemy still counts as magic (or supernatural or special-funky-stuff or whatever you want to call it), then that’s definitely at the core of everything the class can do. If it’s not medical and instead scientific application, then its tools get split between purely combat or skill and utility based. Either way, there is a fair amount of combat stuff for an alchemist regardless of your research field.

Barbarian C9 M2 S1
It might seem strange that Barbarian wouldn’t be full Combat as the signature SMASH class, but when you consider they can grow dragon wings or use spirits to block ranged attacks, a bit of magic makes sense. Instincts like dragon could lean more to magic, but every barbarian has lots of good options for combat regardless of instinct. Most barbarians will probably have one or two abilities that are… less than realistic? Even the anti-magic Superstitious Instinct gets random healing out of nowhere, which itself is a bit supernatural. 

Bard C2 M6 S4
I went over this process in greater detain last time, but a quick overview here: while I would love to say Bard is the perfect balance of everything, p2e changed the class enough to make it less spectacular at covering certain bases. The proficiency system means Bard can’t hit as much with weapons, even with Warrior Muse. They have a few skill-happy feats, but they really only have unique talents for charisma skills and Recall checks. Spells, however, are much more potent this time around. They get 10 levels of spells, never-ending compositions, and a few tricks to get around limitations to their repertoire. Tradition-based spell lists make things less specialized but overall way more balanced, so sorcerer/wizard is no longer de facto the best spell list. Building a bard with a heavy emphasis on one area can shift these numbers quite a bit more easily than in others; for example, a competent combat-bard is easier to achieve than a combat-witch. One of the more evenly spread classes, but still a spellcaster first. 

ChampionC7 M4 S1
As far as classes that get master weapon proficiency or better, Champion gets some of the most magical abilities. They get a wide selection of healing, protection, and whatever their deity specializes in. Even without taking feats for more spells, they still automatically get Champion’s Reaction, Lay on Hands, Divine Ally, Divine Smite, Exalt, and Hero’s Defiance. Plenty of magical stuff at their disposal. However, being limited to focus points means they can never really be centered around spells more than general combat.

Cleric C2 M8 S1
Cleric gets full spellcasting, a wide variety of powers through their domains, and lots of little extra options for spells (and skills and weapons) due to their deity. Thing is, their feats almost all revolve around spellcasting with a few combat options thrown in, many of which rely on spellcasting anyway. This is also just an average way of seeing the class. Warpriest would trade a point or two of towards Combat (471), and Cloistered Cleric might do the other way around (1101). Either way, there is practically no help in terms of skills for clerics other than their deity’s favored skill, and that’s… not much.

DruidC3 M7 S1
How you build a druid changes its spread a lot. Wild Order gives a lot of combat power, while Storm gives more magic. Animal can enhance combat or skill, depending on which companion you pick. As a base package, I think this spread is what a typical druid will have. They have what might be the best combat kit of any full caster, getting medium armor, Shield Block, and the best spell list for a range of damage methods (arcane is good too, but primal is the energy damage list). However, a low amount of proficiencies and being a little MAD in the stats make for a pretty unskilled character. I would say these numbers can fluctuate from character to character moreso than any other class though, so definitely count this one as a loose approximation.

Fighter C9 M1 S2
If any class would be a full 10 in Combat, it would be Fighter, right? They just have such strong tools for combat in just about any context. I give one of those points to Skills because the class also gets a lot of use out of certain skills in combat: Deception for Feinting, Intimidation for Demoralizing, Acrobatics / Athletics for a number of things… A fighter doesn’t have to use these – in which case they might be 1011 after all – but the class has enough feats built in to support them well. Most characters that go Fighter will have one or two skills they can actually use in a lot of cool ways. 

Monk C6 M3 S3
Like Fighter, Monk is a combat-focused class with a bunch of skill support for combat maneuvers and the like. Like Champion, Monk is a combat-focused class with a large amount of Focus Spell feats for things like healing, damage, and mobility. Monk, therefore, can be a bit of anything (but mostly combatant). Again, substantial shifts can happen based on feat selection. Eschewing ki spells would move points away from Magic. Building towards combat maneuvers might demand more put into Skill. Or maybe you only punch things, which would probably feel a little lacking compared to other monks but you would punch really well. On the whole, I would say the class is evenly split between Magic and Skills as far as tools in its kit, but it’s definitely more Combat focused than anything.

Ranger C7 M2 S3
Ranger is a combatant through and through, but there’s a lot of Skill stuff available too. Tracking feats, Snare feats, Recall feats, Nature and Survival related feats… much more than something like Fighter gets, but not enough that you’re forced to take it into consideration when building a character. And while the class does have access to Focus Spells now, they are very, very limited and only really augment Combat and Skill powers anyway.

Rogue C3 M1 S8
First Fighter isn’t 10 Combat, now Rogue isn’t even a 9 in Skill? Let me explain. Rogue is the best class for skills in Pathfinder 2e. There’s really no debating that. It gets more skill increases and skill feats than anything other than Investigator, and that class has limitations to what they pick. However, between Sneak Attack, Debilitating Strike, and many of their feats, there’s lots of combat stuff. Enough that I’d almost rank Combat even higher, but fact is that the best combat-rogue is still going to be using skills just to get there. Special mention here of the Eldritch Trickster racket, which alone bumps Magic up a couple points if you pick it (something like C2M4S6 maybe?).

Sorcerer C2 M9 S1
The only reason Sorcerer doesn’t have a full 10 in Magic is that there are several options in the class focused on Combat, like growing claws or its many damaging focus spells. However, you still can’t really do a sorcerer without heavy magical influence. You also have the versatility of taking any one of the spell traditions, some of which have better support for a combat-caster-hybrid. You won’t be the best at it, but there are definitely ways to dabble in combat as a Sorcerer.

Wizard C1 M10 S1
All Wizard does is Magic. They’re the only class that doesn’t even get simple weapon proficiency. There aren’t any real skill support abilities either. Wizard feats are all about casting spells differently, or manipulating spells somehow, or making sure others can’t use magic in ways you don’t want them to. Even if you build specifically for Combat or Skills, you use Magic to do them. Wizard just doesn’t do those things. Wizard casts a spell to do them instead. 

Investigator C2 M1 S9
How is Investigator higher than Rogue at Skills when I just said that Rogue is the best class for skills hands down? Because you can focus a rogue character in other ways than skills. You really can’t do that with an investigator, at least not as easily. Like a wizard with Magic, an investigator fakes their way through other stuff by using Skills. And that’s fine! It’s a super flavorful way to play to the class’s strengths. Investigator is what I call a “shtick combatant” since it has a very niche way of fighting. They have very particular things they can do very well, but they kinda stink without them. Think of it this way: an investigator that can’t Devise a Strategem or make Strategic Strikes loses the vast majority of their combat kit, while a barbarian that can’t Rage still hits things really hard, just less than they could with Rage. 

Oracle C2 M8 S2
I feel like Oracle could very well be higher on the Magic side. However, when you look at what its curse and revelation abilities do, you find a lot of Combat and Skill stuff. Not enough to define the class, but enough to define individual characters easily. Things like the Battle Mystery giving you fast healing and bonus to weapon damage fit Combat, while the Lore Mystery gives extra Skill uses. Then again, you can be super focused on certain kinds of Magic with Flames, Life, or Bones Mysteries, so this can definitely vary widely. 

Swashbuckler C7 M1 S4
Swashbuckler has become one of my favorite martial classes purely because of how much skill interaction they get. I really see it at the skill-combat alternative to Magus being the magic-combat class in a lot of ways. There are a bunch of ways to use skills to get Panache, giving you a bunch of bonuses and enabling big finishing moves. It’s actually very possible a swashbuckler will roll more skill checks in combat than a rogue and deal more damage doing it. 

Witch C1 M9 S2
I love that Witch has become so versatile and customizable, but they’re still basically wizards without school specialization. Hexes go a long way, but Wizard still out-magic’s them. Their super-familiar opens a lot of doors though – literally, sometimes – in particular with how you can interact with things in new ways. Give it hands to open things. Give it wings to fly around and scout ahead. Give it some skill you want it to do so you can do it in two places at once. If you lean into it hard, you can actually make a competent skill-monkey out of a witch, maybe even with a skill-monkey monkey familiar. 

Magus C6 M5 S1
With their limited spellcasting and more combat abilities, 2e Magus isn’t really a caster so much as a martial class with some magic. However, unlike Champion or Monk, Magus gets actual spell slots and cantrips. On a prepared caster, that can go a long way. Spellstrike alone makes Magic a significant portion of the class, even if you might be stuck using only cantrips the majority of the time. With no legendary proficiencies, you won’t ever be the best at Combat or at Magic as a magus, but you can definitely do both roles pretty well. 

Summoner C5 M4 S2
Just like Magus, Summoner has very limited spellcasting with the bounded system. Unlike Magus, Summoner is locked into a spell repertoire, making it even more restricted. It does have access to any tradition, which helps its versatility, but honestly a lot of summoners can just ignore their spells most of the time. They also don’t get good proficiencies or skill options, and they’re pretty weak overall. That’s because the Eidolon fills in a lot of gaps your character couldn’t fill alone. Eidolons are built tougher and stronger than their summoner, but they have a bunch of limitations themselves. Their versatility is immense, and while they’re best suited for Combat, lots of mobility, sensory, and utility options are there for a Skill focused build. Magic is much harder for an eidolon to do well, but you also have the summoner’s spells on top of whatever the eidolon does. The character pair is extraordinarily flexible in filling roles.

Gunsinger C8 M1 S3
In 1e, Gunsinger would have been 1011 hands down. All they did was shoot things. Like how Wizard just casts spells but with even less versatility. And more bullets. 2e has given the class so many fun toys to play with now! Blow up locks, rocket jump, ricochet projectiles, do wacky stuff! However, all this comes at the cost of combat variety. With firearms (and crossbows) they can stand toe-to-toe with Fighter, but they have nothing in their kit for other types of weapons unless you count a few feats that allow you to shoot and stab something. I would still take this version over the old version every time though!

Inventor C5 M5 S2 OR C6 M1 S5
Alchemist and Inventor both have this feeling of being supernatural despite being purely scientific. They’re firmly ‘fantasy’ without strictly being ‘magical’ in nature. Like before, if you think of Inventor’s shenanigans as more akin to magic due to their flashy, unrealistic nature, it fits a completely different spread than if you see the dichotomy more. Inventor is very combat focused, but anything they do will be centered around their gadgets and innovations, be they magical or mundane. 

Psychic C1 M9 S1
Psychic is in a weird place. Nothing feels wrong about the class, but something doesn’t feel right. They get fewer spells than full casters, but they empower their cantrips to extreme levels. They don’t have any real combat or skill tools outside their magic, but they don’t seem quite as hypertuned as Wizard. I think it comes down to playing close to Wizard with a bit more variability due to the more diverse paths the class has to offer. Exploding heads plays very differently than reading minds, after all. Being spontaneous actually helps this too, since you can’t just take a bit of everything and need a little variety.

Thaumaturge C5 M4 S3
Thaumaturge is without a doubt the most magical non-magical class in the game. They have no spells, no cantrips, and no Focus Spells, and yet to say they aren’t magical doesn’t feel right at all. Even without investing in the mystical stuff of the class at all, you’ll come out with lots of tricks that definitely aren’t mundane. You get potent combat tools built in too, but not as much as something like Champion or Ranger. Thaumaturge is another shtick combatant, relying on their implements and insta-weakness ability to do way more damage than they can without it. So many individual parts of this class interact with each other that it can specialize into any of them pretty well.

CONCLUSION

That took a while, but it’s done. Each class out thus far, numerically represented by the three areas of play. Again, to be clear, this is all very general. It’s a guideline to be used for very broad ideas of where a character might land. If you feel a class is misplaced on the pyramid, let me know how you’d alter it! I’d love to get input on how to make this a better tool for character building.

Unsurprisingly, way more classes lie in the combat and magic ends of things than skills. It’s understandable given the typical playstyle of ttrpgs, but I would definitely love to see some more skill-focused classes like Rogue and Investigator, especially if they include a bit more magic than combat. Maybe we can do something about that next time.

Other Posts
  • All’s Fair in Love and Warlock
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  • Brick by Brick
    In my last post, I went over a hopefully useful tool that can help you generally figure out what sort of character fits a concept you might have based on its strengths in different areas. This time, we’re going to quickly go through each class in Pathfinder Second Edition’s Core Rulebook, Advanced Player’s Guide, Secrets of Magic, Guns & Gears, and Dark Archive.
  • The Trifecta
    When I taught kids how to play ttrpgs and help them create characters, I would describe the system as divided into three areas: combat, magic, and skills.
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