Pathfinder - Investigator Talents Breakdown
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.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
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.
Investigator talents marked with an asterisk (*) add effects to an investigator's Studied Combat or Studied Strike. Only one of these talents can be applied to an individual attack, but the decision can be made when the damage is dealt.
Alchemist Discovery (Ex): Access to some of the best Alchemist Discoveries for buffing your Infusions.
- Combine extracts: Fantastic, especially for healing extracts and extracts with short durations.
- Concentrate poison: The biggest problems with poison are price and DC. This helps with the DC issue, but the additional cost may be prohibitive.
- Dilution: This is a great way to save money on potions, but by 12th level the cost of most potions should be fairly cheap.
- Elixir of life: Hugely expensive and situational.
- Enhance potion: Squeeze some extra healing or some extra buff duration out of your potions without spending a ton of gold to make your potions higher caster level.
- Eternal potion: There are a ton of potions which this would be fantastic for.
- Extend potion: Great for buffs with short and medium durations.
- Infusion: Share your extracts with your allies. Essential if you don't have a decent support caster handy.
- Mutagen (Su): An excellent way to get a long-duration bonus to your Dexterity.
- Poison Conversion: Turn all of your poisons into injury or contact poisons. Ingested poisons tend to be the best, but the hardest to use, so abuse them heavily.
Amazing Inspiration (Ex): This only means an average of 1 higher on your inspiration die rolls, but combines very well with Tenacious Inspiration.
Blinding Strike* (Ex): Permanently blinded? This is fantastic, and I can see why it's reserve for level 17.
Combat Inspiration (Ex): Using Inspiration on your saves is a great way to keep yourself alive, and cutting down on the Inspiration cost will help keep you going all day.
Confusing Strike* (Ex): This is not nearly good enough to be reserved for 19th level.
Deafening Strike* (Ex): Deafness really only affects spellcasters, so this is situational.
Device Talent (Ex): UMD is a class skill, and while it's fantastic, you don't want your expensive magic item charges to be dependent on a die roll. Instead, pick up the Pragmatic Activator Trait so that you can use your high Intelligence instead of your mediocre Charisma.
Effortless Aid (Ex): The Swift Aid Feat is better.
Eidetic Recollection (Su): Not only are you good at Knowledge, you are consistently good at Knowledge. Of course you can add Inspiration to Knowledge rolls for free, but reliability is nice.
Empathy (Ex, Su): Situational.
Expanded Inspiration (Ex): More free uses of Inspiration is always nice, and Diplomacy, Heal, and Perception see a ton of use.
Greater Combat Inspiration (Ex): Combat Inspiration is great, so most Investigators will take it. Pick your favorite weapon, and get a permanent 1d6 bonus to attacks with it. I can see why this is reserved for level 19, especially in the face of Amazing/Tenacious Inspiration.
Hidden Agendas (Ex): Very situational.
Inspirational Expertise (Ex): A +4 insight bonus is pretty nice, even if the duration is short.
Inspired Alertness (Ex): Just spend a skill rank on each Knowledge skill. You have enough to go around.
Inspired Intelligence (Ex): Just take Eidetic Recollection and spend an Inspiration point to take 20 when you need a boost.
Inspired Intimidator (Ex): Skill Focus (Intimidate) will pay off better (especially after 10th level), and doesn't cost inspiration.
Item Lore (Ex): Very situational, and you probably have someone in the party who can do it, or you can pay some NPC to cast Identify for you.
Perceptive Tracking (Ex): Very situational.
Quick Study (Ex): The text appears to be incorrect: Studied Combat is a move action by default, but dropping that to a swift action is phenomenal. I would take this on every Investigator without question, and I would probably take it as my first Talent.
Repositioning Strike* (Ex): Reposition is very situational.
Rogue Talent (Ex): Most of the options are bad, redundant with your Infusions, or can be replaced by Inspiration.
- assault leader (Ex): Because the Investigator doesn't depend on flanking as much as the Rogue, this isn't as useful.
- black market connections (Ex): If you are high enough level for this ability to matter, you likely have access to teleportation spells available to your party. Teleport to a bigger city and go shopping.
- Camouflage (Ex): Highly situational. With decent and maxed ranks in Stealth, you shouldn't need this.
- Canny Observer (Ex): Hugely situational. How often do you eavesdrop?
- Charmer (Ex): While this is tempting for a Rogue, you will do better with Expanded Inspiration.
- Coax Information (Ex): This functionally saves you an entire skill worth of skill ranks. If you're the party's Face and don't have enough skill ranks to throw around, this can be very helpful.
- Combat Swipe: Stealing isn't something you typically do in combat. Sneak in and use Sleight of Hand like a real Rogue.
- Convincing Lie (Ex): I didn't even know that there were rules for people repeating your lies. This is hugely situational.
- Cunning Trigger (Ex): Unless you took Quick Trapsmith, this is totally useless. Even then, if you're using traps a lot you should be placing your traps in such a way that you don't need to trigger them yourself.
- Deft Palm (Ex): I would let a player hide a weapon in plain sight without this talent. I would apply a fairly high penalty, but I would allow it. Even if your DM isn't as liberal as I am, this is hugely situational.
- Expert Leaper (Ex): There are very few situations where this will come up, and those situations can usually be solved by flying.
- Fast Fingers (Ex): Rerolls are fantastic, but Sleight of Hand doesn't see a lot of use in most campaigns.
- Fast Getaway (Ex): This is good for Scout Rogues, or for archery rogues who get stuck in melee. Sapping Offensive is generally better unless multiple foes are threatening you. If multiple foes are threatening you, you should probably just Withdraw.
- Fast Picks (Ex): Highly situational.
- Fast Stealth (Ex): This can be helpful for infiltrating and scouting, but if you're sneaky enough you shouldn't have a problem moving at half speed.
- firearm training (Ex): Studied Combat and Studied Strike only work on melee attacks, and they're your primary source of damage.
- Guileful Polyglot (Ex): Cast tongues.
- grit (Ex): Firearms don't work for Investigators
- Hard to Fool (Ex): Rerolls are great, but this is very situational.
- Hold Breath (Ex): Cast Water Breathing.
- Honeyed Words (Ex): You will do better with Underworld Inspiration.
- Iron Guts (Ex): Highly situational.
- Lasting Poison (Ex): The biggest problem with poison is the cost. This doubles your mileage with poisons, but exacerbates the issue of low DCs. If you're planning to use poison, definitely consider this.
- Ledge Walker (Ex): Highly situational.
- major magic (Sp): You get Infusions, so you don't really need magic.
- minor magic (Sp): You get Infusions, so you don't really need magic.
- Nimble Climber (Ex): Cast Spider Climb.
- Peerless Maneuver (Ex): Good for tumbling to avoid attacks of opportunity.
- Quick Disable (Ex): Highly situational.
- quick disguise (Ex): Highly situational.
- quick trapsmith (Ex): Traps can be useful, but very few fights take place on the players' home turf.
- Resiliency (Ex): This is almost toughness. With some discipline, toughness is better because you always have the hit points. If you tend to get yourself into bad situations, this is a nice fail-safe.
- Rogue Crawl (Ex): If you are prone, you are in serious trouble. The best use of this is to 5-foot step/crawl away, then stand as a move action.
- Rope Master (Ex): Highly situational.
- Stand Up (Ex): Highly situational. You should not be tripped enough to justify taking this.
- Strong Stroke (Ex): Highly situational.
- Terrain Mastery (Ex): Favored Terrain is one of the Ranger's worst abilities.
- Trap Spotter (Ex): This saves you the trouble of constantly looking around for traps.
- Wall Scramble (Ex): Highly situational.
Sapping Offensive* (Ex): This doesn't specify that you need to damage the target with an attack, which is potentially abusable, but this is still situational.
Sickening Offensive* (Ex): Sickened is a decent status condition, applying penalties to attacks, damage, and saves. This can be a good way to debuff enemies, or to set them up to be hit with a spell next round.
Stealing Strike* (Ex): Situational, but certainly better than taking Improved Steal.
Studied Defense (Ex): Insight bonuses to AC are rare, and the scaling it good. This could be good in a pitch, but it will severely inhibit the Investigator's damage output.
Tenacious Inspiration (Ex): 1d6 has an average of 3.5. Rolling twice and taking the highest increases that to 4.7. Taking Amazing Inspiration to boost your Inspiration die to d8's will increase your average to 5.8. If you really depend on your Inspiration die, Amazing and Tenacious Inspiration are a good investment.
Toppling Strike* (Ex): Tripping a target makes them very vulnerable to melee attacks, and getting a free Trip after throwing a pile of d6's is great. Combine this with Improved/Greater Trip, and you can really get a lot done.
Unconventional Inspiration (Ex): At 17th level your skill bonuses should be absurd, and devoting the equivalent of a feat to one skill is a poor use of an excellent resource. Skill Focus would be considerably better at this point, which is pitiful.
Underworld Inspiration (Ex): The listed skills are situational, but a constant free 1d6 bonus to all of them is nice if you can bring them into play often.