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Pathfinder - Investigator Handbook

Last Updated: October 15, 2018


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The Investigator is a clever fusion of the Alchemist and the Rogue, combining the Alchemist's Extracts and Poison Use with the Rogue's stealth and guile. Extracts provide excellent utility options, the Investigator's skill list allows the Investigator to serve as a Face, Trapfinding allows him to serve as a Scout, and Studied Combat and Studied Strike make the Investigator a passable Striker. However, Studied Combat and Studied Strike both require melee attacks, which forces the Investigator to fight in melee combat with light armor and d8 hit points, and you won't be able to match the damage output of a single-class Rogue.

Investigator Class Features

Hit Points: d8 hit points is always hard for a melee character.

Base Attack Bonus: 2/3 BAB, the same as both Alchemists and Rogues. Fortunately, Investigators depend heavily on Studied Combat in combat, so you would never be able to use iterative attacks anyway, and the Studied Combat attack bonus will exceed the gap between 2/3 and full BAB at every level at which it;s available.

Saves: Good Reflex and Will saves.

Proficiencies: Light armor and simple weapons, plus a short list of martial weapons similar to a Rogue. Your best bet is likely a Rapier.

Skills: 6+ skill points is great, but the real appeal is the incredible breadth of the Investigator's skill list. Investigators get all of the skills available to Rogues, plus all knowledge skills.

Alchemy (Su): Just like the Alchemist ability of the same name. You get just as many extracts per day as an alchemist, which provides you a lot of really great options.

Inspiration (Ex): Inspiration opens up a lot of really exciting options. Adding 1d6 to skill/ability checks is pretty dull, but can help when the stakes are high. You can use two Inspiration points to boost an attack or saving throw, but be careful not to burn through your Inspiration too quickly.

Trapfinding: This allows the Investigator to completely replace the Rogue as the party's Scout.

Poison Lore: Ridiculously situational. If you need to neutralize poison, there are several spells which do it, or you can just dump it on the ground.

Poison Resistance: Poison becomes very common at high levels. The scaling resistance is plenty at low levels, but immunity at high levels is even better.

Investigator Talents (Ex or Su): Investigator Talents open up a lot of really great options, including some Alchemist Discoveries and Rogue Talents. For help with Investigator Talents, see my Investigator Talent Breakdown.

Keen Recollection (Ex): You have all Knowledge skills as class skills and 6+ skill ranks. Throw a rank in each knowledge skill for the +3 class skill bonus, and pretend no one ever wrote this ability.

Trap Sense (Ex): Situational, and not very good in the rare situations where it applies.

Studied Combat (Ex): The insight bonus to attacks will easily make up the difference between 2/3 and full BAB, and the bonus to damage is nice. This will only last a few rounds, so be sure to maintain your Intelligence to keep this up for as long as possible, or you will spend a lot of inspiration re-studying your enemies in combat. The bonus is good enough that you might consider sacrificing attack bonus for things like Power Attack or Combat Expertise. Be sure to take the Quick Study talent to drop the action from a Move to a Swift so that you can make a full attack or use poison in the same round.

Studied Strike (Ex): Not quite as powerful as Sneak Attack, and it ends your Studied Combat, so use this sparingly, especially at low levels when the dame will barely exceed the bonus from Studied Combat. Re-studying a target consumes Inspiration, so only use this if you plan to change targets, or you think that you can kill the target, or if you can spare the Inspiration points.

Swift Alchemy (Ex): Crafting alchemical items faster is nice, but crafting typically happens off-screen in most campaigns. Poisoning an item as a move action is nice so that you can apply poison and attack in the same turn, but it will conflict with Studied Combat, which is usually a better option.

True Inspiration (Ex): Add 1d6 to all of your ability and skill checks forever, and you can spend inspiration for another d6.


The Investigator's abilities look a lot like those of a melee Rogue.

Str: Only gives you damage, but don't dump it if you can avoid it. Without the Rogue's big pile of Sneak Attack, you want every bit of damage you can get. 13 opens up Power Attack, which may be worthwhile.

Dex: With light armor, you want to depend on Dexterity for Weapon Finesse and AC.

Con: Essential to compensate for the Investigator's poor hit points and bad Fortitude saves.

Int: Important for that awesome skill list and many of the Investigator's abilities, including Alchemy and Inspiration. However, since Investigators are only 2/3 spellcasters and are not dependent on DCs of any kind, you don't strictly need more than 16 Intelligence.

Wis: You need a bit for Will saves, but that's all that the Investigator gets.

Cha: Only required if you plan to be a Face, and your skill ranks and Inspiration can offset a poor Charisma score.

25 Point Buy 20 Point Buy 15 Point Buy Elite Arrray
  • Str: 13
  • Dex: 16
  • Con: 12
  • Int: 16
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 10
  • Str: 10
  • Dex: 16
  • Con: 12
  • Int: 16
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 8
  • Str: 10
  • Dex: 16
  • Con: 12
  • Int: 15
  • Wis: 8
  • Cha: 8
  • Str: 13
  • Dex: 15
  • Con: 12
  • Int: 14
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 8


Bonuses to Dexterity and Intelligence are nice, and other racial abilities can contribute to specific builds. Several excellent alternate racial bonuses exist, but there's not shame in taking extra skill ranks to help fill out your massive skill list.

Dwarf: Though certainly durable, the Dwarf offers nothing specifically useful to the Investigator.

Elf: Bonuses to both Dexterity and Intelligence are fantastic for the Investigator, and the Elf favored class bonus grants a bit of extra Inspiration. Unfortunately, all of the Elf's spellcasting abilities are wasted on the Investigator, so consider some alternate class features.

Gnome: The Gnome doesn't really get anything that's specifically good for the Investigator. The Gnome favored class bonus grants additional known formulas, but you can buy them the same way that a Wizard does.

Half-Elf: A flexible ability bonus and several great options for alternate racial traits. The Ancestral Arms alternate racial freature opens up great options like the Elven Curve Blade. The Half-Elf favored class bonus grants a bonus to Inspiration rolls, and after a bit of investment in new options for Inspiration it can be a very powerful and versatile bonus.

Half-Orc: A flexible ability bonus and Darkvision are nice, but the other Half-Orc racial abilities aren't very helpful. The Half-Orc favored class bonus is garbage.

Halfling: Slightly better than the Gnome, the Halfling's Dexterity bonus and other racial abilities contribute greatly to the Investigator's abilities as a Scout. The Halfling favored class bonus is the same as the Gnome.

Human: Always good at everything, Humans are also good as Investigators. Unfortunately, the Human favored class bonus is the same as the Gnome's, and it's not worth taking.






Armor is presented in the order in which you should acquire it, rather than alphabetical order. Magic armor is covered below in the Magic Items section.


This section won't address every spell on your spell list, but it will point out some especially notable options.

1st-Level Extracts

2nd-Level Extracts

4th-Level Extracts

5th-Level Extracts

6th-Level Extracts

Magic Items



Multiclassing and Prestige Classes

Investigators don't need anything from other classes. They're very functional with few notable holes in functionality. That said, a dip into another class can offer a lot of fun customization options