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Pathfinder - Inquisitor Archetypes Breakdown

Disclaimer

I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.

Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.

Archetypes

The Inquisitor is a very versatile class on level with the Bard. Depending on your choices of Domain, Inquisition, Skills, and combat style, you the Inquisitor can fill a wide variety of roles in the party. When picking your archetype, consider what roles you intend to fill.

Exorcist

Possession is an extremely rare mechanic, so an archetype devoted to resolving possession is very difficult to justify.

Verdict of Exorcism (Su): The Daze mechanic is bad due to the short duration, and the exorcism mechanic is situational. Giving up Second Judgement for this is a huge disappointment.

Verdict of Exile (Su): Even more situational than Verdict of Exorcism.

Closed Mind (Su): Compulsion and possession effects are scary, but fairly infrequent.

Verdict of Anathema (Su): Extremely situational.

Replaced Features: Second Judgement, Third Judgement, Slayer, True Judgement

Compatible Archetypes: Heretic, Infiltrator, Preacher, Sin Eater

Heretic

This archetype takes away some cool options and replaces them with options for running away. How often do you run away in Pathfinder? Do you want to build a character specifically to do that?

Judgment (Su):

Lore of Escape (Ex): You will be very good at Stealth and Bluff, but Monster Lore gives you an advantage in combat which Lore of Escape can't compete with.

Hide Tracks (Ex): Hugely situational.

Replaced Features: Monster Lore

Compatible Archetypes: Exorcist, Preacher, Sacred Huntmaster, Sanctified Slayer, Sin Eater

Iconoclast

Do you hate magic items? Do you like slowing down the game for hours every turn to force the GM to recalculate enemies' stats? Well get the hell out. No one wants to play with you. This archetype is a giant middle finger to directed at whatever semblace of pacing your GM has managed to establish.

Shake Effects (Ex): Very situational.

Detect Magic (Sp): Or you could just learn the cantrip.

Dispelling Attack (Sp): Considerably better than Discern Lies. Use this on enemies with a pile of items.

Negating Critical (Sp): On the astoundingly infrequent occasions that this gets triggered, you're going to have to stop the game and roll like 20 fortitude saves. I hope you brought food for the group, because they're going to be super angry every time you need to use this ability.

Destroy Artifact (Sp): Destroying an artifact should be a super cool quest, not something you just spend a week hand-waving.

Replaced Features: monster lore, detect alignment, discern lies, exploit weakness, true judgement

Compatible Archetypes: Preacher

Infiltrator

The Infiltrator is a cool concept. It shuffles some of the Inquisitor's Scout and Face abilities and manages to make the Infiltrator better at both roles without giving up anything of any real value except Stern Gaze. It also helps to reduce the Inquisitor's MAD, which makes this a fantastic choice over vanilla Inquisitor if you don't want any other archetype.

Misdirection (Sp): This is great in situations where you have people trying to detect your alignment a lot, but those situations are rare in most campaigns. This helps a bit when trying to serve as an Infiltrator Scout, and can allow you to go places where even a Rogue couldn't go.

Guileful Lore (Ex): This makes it much easier to serve as the party's Face without needing to invest in Charisma. If you combine this with the Conversion/Heresy inquisitions, you can add your Wisdom bonus twice and not touch your Charisma at all. However, Guileful Lore doesn't touch Intimidate, and you give up Stern Gaze for Misdirection, so you can't rely on Intimidate as much as a normal Inquisitor.

Forbidden Lore (Ex): This is situational, but less so thank Tracking.

Necessary Lies (Su): Extremely situational, but you can't replicate this with a spell like you can with Discern Lies.

Replaced Features: Monster Lore, Stern Gaze, Track, Discern Lies

Compatible Archetypes: Exorcist, Preacher, Sin Eater, Sacred Huntmaster, Sanctified Slayer

Preacher

The Preacher allows you trade in the Inquisitor's Teamwork Feat mechanics for some cool reroll abilities. If you don't like Teamwork feats, this is a great option.

Determination (Ex): Determination is a really cool reroll mechanic which you can use offensively or defensively. If you don't want teamwork feats, you can get some extra uses of Determination instead.

Replaced Features: Solo Tactics, teamwork feats (optional)

Compatible Archetypes: Exorcist, Heretic, Iconoclast, Infiltrator, Sacred Huntmaster, Sanctified Slayer, Sin Eater, Witch Hunter

Sacred Huntsmaster

The Sacred Huntmaster trades in the Inquisitor's Judgement ability for an Animal Companion and the Hunter's Animal Focus ability. As fantastic as Judgement is, this is a very fair trade.

Animal Companion (Ex): Animal Companions are fantastic, and the Hunter's version adds the ability to take Skirmisher Ranger Tricks in addition to normal animal tricks.

Hunter Tactics (Ex): Teamwork Feats are often problematic because they require that you have someone else to cooperate with. This resolves that issue by giving you a free team mate.

Animal Focus (Su): Animal Focus is very versatile, and can provide a lot of buffs which will serve the same purpose as Judgement. Because the duration for Animal Focus is measured in minutes, you may be able to stretch it over more combats in a day than you could use Judgement. Because this ability functions as the Hunter ability of the same name, you can assign Animal Focus enhancements to your Animal Companion even though the entry doesn't specifically state it. Remember that aspects granted to your animal companion have no duration, which makes them especially potent.

Improved Empathic Link (Su): Very useful for scouting, though somewhat situational.

Raise Animal Companion (Sp): Provided that you have a day to rest, this is effectively free.

Second Animal Focus (Ex): By this level the ability score enhancements give you a +6 bonus, which makes this ability as effective as a 45,000 gp item for both you and your animal companion, and considerably more versatile.

Greater Empathic Link (Su): Situational, but being able to give orders to your companion telepathically makes it much easier to command it while you are looking through its eyes.

Replaced Features: Judgement, Second Judgement, Slayer, Third Judgement, True Judgement

Compatible Archetypes: Heretic, Infiltrator, Preacher, Sin Eater

Sanctified Slayer

Studied Target is a Fantastic ability, but the Sanctified Slayer's weak Sneak Attack progression and severely limited number of Slayer Talents really hurt the viability of the Sanctified Slayer Archetype. It's not completely awful, but it likely won't keep pace with a vanilla Inquisitor making good use of Judgement.

Studied Target (Ex): Studied Target is a fantastic ability. Remember that the DC bonus applies to Slayer class abilities, so it does not apply to Inquisitor spells.

Sneak Attack (Ex): Sneak Attack at the same rate as a Slayer, but you get it one level behind. This won't amount to a lot of damage, especially with the Inquisitor's 2/3 BAB.

Talented Slayer (Ex): You only get 4 talents. As good as the Slayer's Talents are, with so few of them you don't really have a lot of options. For help with Slayer Talents, see my Slay Talents Breakdown.

Replaced Features: Judgement, Second Judgement, Slayer, Third Judgement, True Judgement

Compatible Archetypes: Heretic, Infiltrator, Preacher, Sin Eater

Sin Eater

Eat Sin is a really cool healing mechanic, and Speak with Dead adds a nice utility effect on top of the free healing. Inquisitions/Domains add a lot of cool options to the Inquisitor, so think carefully when deciding to give them up.

Eat Sin (Sp): Basically a free use of Cure X wounds. Fantastic for after combat when your party is resting and healing. Using this as a full round action in combat should be a rare occurance. I'm not certain how the undead portion of the ability works because you need to kill the enemy to eat its sins, and if you killed the enemy it won't typically rise as a shadow, spectre, or vampire because those creatures need to be killed by their creator to become those creatures.

Speak with Dead (Sp): Speak With Dead is situational, but if you go around eating everyone's sins, you might as well ask them questions. Ask them weird stuff like "where is the trasure?" or "what did you have for breakfast?"

Burden of Sin (Sp): Consolidate your parties status afflictions, then have someone remove them all at once.

Replaced Features: Domain, Teamwork Feat (6th), Exploit Weakness

Compatible Archetypes: Exorcist, Heretic, Infiltrator, Preacher, Sacred Huntmaster, Sanctified Slayer

Spellbreaker

Strong-Willed is good enough to make this archetype worth a class dip for any mage hunting character. Like many mage killing archetypes, the Spellbreaker is good at making Concentration checks hard, and provides the Inquisitor with excellent resistances against magic.

Strong-Willed (Ex): Mind-affecting effects make up most Will saves, which means you get to reroll almost every Will save in the game.

Defense against Magic (Ex): It's difficult to pick which schools you need resistance to. Evocation, Enchantment, Necromancy, transmutation, and Illusion are all good choices. Remember that you get a reroll against Mind-Affecting effects (most Enchantment and Illusion effects are mind-affecting), and your first choice will affect Impervious when you get it at level 20.

Foil Casting (Su): Stacking with Disruptive is great, but the ranged attack mechanic is weird and poorly defined. If you shoot the same spellcaster three times, does the DC increase stack? Even if it does, you need to prepare an action to shoot the spellcaster to force a concentration check.

Impervious (Ex): This is great for common spell schools like Evocation. Walk through fireballs. Ignore magic missiles. Kill some wizards.

Replaced Features: monster lore, bonus teamwork feats, solo tactics, true judgement

Compatible Archetypes: None

Witch Hunter

The Witch Hunter is about on par with the Spellbreaker, but functions differently. Both archetypes are good, so if you plan to hunt mages pick whichever fits your play style best.

Spell Sage (Ex): This should save you several ranks on Spellcraft at the very least. Of course, to take advantage of Knowledgeable Defense you will want to maximize Spellcraft.

Knowledgeable Defense: The bonus is pretty great, and it's a fun way to motivate you to identify spells. Granting your allies the bonus is weird and poorly worded. Because you can't share the bonus as an immediate action, you need to use it for ongoing spells which allow saves after the spell is cast. Or you might interpret the rule to mean that you share the bonus as a swift action, then every time a spell is cast you can make a Spellcraft check to share the bonus with all of your allies. Fortunately, the sharing mechanic doesn't come into play until level 20.

Spell Scent: This is a really cool flavor, and it's considerably more fun than Tracking.

Witch's Bane Judgment (Ex):

Replaced Features: Monster Lore, Detect Alignment, Track, Discern Lies, Exploit Weakness, True Judgement

Compatible Archetypes: Preacher