Pathfinder - The Medium Handbook
Last Updated: October 15, 2018
I support a limited subset of Pathfinder's rules content. If you would like help with Pathfinder player options not covered here, please email me and I am happy to provide additional assistance.
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.
Mediums are defined by their ability to channel spirits of legend, granting those spirits access to the Medium's body in exchange for powerful bonuses. In addition, Mediums can call upon spirits in divination-style rituals to gather information.
Mediums are an extremely limited class. They have armor, BAB, and hit points matching Clerics, but lack the magic to buff themselves comparably. They have a handful of fun utility abilities and some fun buffs, but are still very limited in functionality. They make a fine Face, and they have some Support options, but that's about it. Even then, they're far behind core classes like Bard or Cleric. The Medium is a class without a clear role or purpose in most games. The Archmage spirit makes you a terrible wizard, the Champion spirit makes you a mediocre fighter-equivlaent, Heirophant makes you a garbage Cleric stand-in, and Trickster makes you a functional Rogue-equivalent but also a massive jerk and just generally unpleasant to have in the party.
If you're not playing in an Occult campaign with lots of things like haunts, skip this class. It just isn't worth it.
Medium Class Features
Hit Points: At d8 hit points you're not a front-liner.
Base Attack Bonus: 2/3 BAB, so you're not a massive threat with a weapon.
Saves: Will is your only good save.
Proficiencies: Medium armor (this is a pun I literally can't avoid) and simple weapons. No shields, so expect to use two-handed weapons.
Skills: Mediums get all the skills they need to play a Face, plus some of the best knowledge skills. Unfortunately, they only get 4+ skill ranks and Intelligence is their dump stat.
Spells: Mediums are only 1/2 casters, so their spells only go up to 4th level. Their spellcasting is Charisma-based and spontaneous.
Knacks: 0-level spells are fantastic, and 1/2 casters almost never get them.
Spirit (Su): This is the defining ability of the Medium. Your choice of spirit can change every time you perform a seance, potentially allowing you to change your roles in the party on a daily basis. While this flexibility is nice, most Mediums will probably stick to the same type of spirit every day, especially as they build their feat and spell choices around their favorite spirit. Influence is your biggest limitation on what you can do with your spirit. You start with 1, get a penalty at 3, and lose your spirit at 5. So in a practical sense you get just 3 points per day unless you're willing to lose your spirit when you gain that last point of Influence. I recommend saving that very last point to use Spirit Surge on a life or death roll. Propitiation gets you an additional point eventually.
Spirit Bonus (Su): Varies by Spirit, but the bonuses are generally excellent. The bonus appears to be typeless, which is even better. Keep in mind that the "favored locations" are just examples. If none of those locations are available, come up with something creative and discuss it with your GM.
Spirit Surge (Su): Depending on your spirit, this can be a life saver. Many spirits offer bonuses to saving throws, so you could use this to resist an affect which might otherwise kill you.
Shared Seance (Su): Many of the seance benefits are excellent, and they will freuqently be more useful for your allies than they are for you.
Taboo (Su): Taboos vary by spirit. Access to 2 uses of Spirit Surge twice without granting Influence. This is a huge benefit, so you should always take a Taboo if you can. You get to select the Taboo, fortunately, so your GM can't pick one that he knows will get you into trouble on a given day. The spirits each list some example taboos, which I discuss in my Medium Spirits Breakdown, but the GM is free to offer additional options.
Haunt Channeler (Su): Only useful in campaigns which feature haunts, a new mechanic added in Occult Adventures. In a normal campaign, this will never matter.
Location Channel (Su): Adventurers tend to do a lot of killing first and asking questions later, which means that they inevitably kill the one person who had the information they need. This allows you to drag that person's spirit back for questioning. It's important to note that the spirit takes control of the Medium's body, so if the spirit is someone who really doesn't like you, it might throw you out a window or do something else unpleasant.
Connection Channel (Su): An excellent improvement to Location Channel.
Propitiation (Su): You have a hard limit of 5 Influence, and some abilities will grant Influence throughout the day. Taking some time to reduce this Influence, even by just 1 point, is very helpful.
Ask the Spirits (Su): The biggest limitation on Contect Other Plane is the Intelligence/Charisma damage mechanic. With no limit on usage and no potential self-inflicted decrease, you can use this answer any question you might have by talking to a deity. Where is the BBEG? A deity will know. Where are you keys? A deity will know.
Astral Journey (Su): I'm not sure what to do with this. You can't enter other planes, which is the biggest appeal of going to the Astral Plane. Your gear has no effect, so you're significantly weakened. You're also alone. Unless you have some plot point to hit on the Astral Plane, I don't know what to do with this.
Trance of Three (Su): You probably won't use this on most days. The duration is too short to use this consistently, and you don't have enough room to grant Influence.
Spacious Soul (Su): This is a really interesting ability. It doesn't save your ally's life, but it can allow your allies to still contribute to a fight after their death. This is especially true for spellcasters, as they retain their spells and still use their own ability scores. However, your dead ally can't regain expendable abilities like spell slots, so you still want to get them raised as soon as possible.
Spirit Mastery (Su): Two extra uses of Spirit Surge, and if you give up spirit abilities for Spirit Surge uses you get four instead of 2.
Astral Beacon (Su): At level 20 you suddenly get to juggle all six spirits. This is a dramatic increase in your character's complexity, but it's also a dramatic increase in your capabilities.
Str: If you plan to go into melee, you want 14. If you insist on using a regular bow, 14 is good but 12 is fine. Otherwise, dump to 7 and grab a crossbow.
Dex: In only medium armor you'll want to shoot for 16 Dexterity to fill out your Breastplate. If you're going for ranged weapons, take more. If you're going for melee, get 12 and get Heavy Armor Proficiency.
Con: Essential on every character.
Int: Your only dump stat.
Wis: Will is your best save, but you need high Will saves to survive some of your own abilities, so don't skimp on Wisdom.
Cha: Your spellcasting ability, but as a 1/2 caster you only need 14.
|25 Point Buy||20 Point Buy||15 Point Buy||Elite Array|
|25 Point Buy||20 Point Buy||15 Point Buy||Elite Array|
Because Mediums don't need an especially high score in their spellcasting ability, you've got a lot of freedom when selecting a race.
None of the traits listed in Ultimate Campaign are of any specific use to Mediums. Consider boosting your saving throws.
- Bluff (Cha): Very helpful for a Face.
- Diplomacy (Cha): The kind of Face skills.
- Fly (Dex): One rank is usually plenty.
- Heal (Wis): A useful addition to any party's healing capabilities, but without the high Wisdom to back it up, this won't be as useful for you as it might for a Cleric.
- Intimidate (Cha): Very helpful for a Face.
- Knowledge (arcana) (Int): One of the most important knowledge skills.
- Knowledge (planes) (Int): Helpful, but not crucial in most campaigns.
- Knowledge (religion) (Int): One of the most important knowledge skills.
- Linguistics (Int): Too situational.
- Perception (Wis): The most rolled skill in the game.
- Perform (Cha): Totally pointless on Mediums.
- Sense Motive (Wis): Helpful for a Face.
- Spellcraft (Int): Excellent, but probably best left to someone who is better at magic and has more Intelligence.
- Use Magic Device (Wis): The most powerful skill in the game, and you've got the Charisma to back it up. Note: Currently the SRD lists (Wis) instead of (Cha) here, which I beleive to be an error.
I won't touch on every feat you need to make the Occultis useful in combat. The basic feat chains for Power Attack and for ranged weapons (Point-Blank shot, etc.) are really easy to figure out, and Medium doesn't have any unique interactions with any of them. I'll point out stuff which the Medium might enjoy more than other users of the same feats, as well as Medium-specific feats.
- Armor Proficiency (Heavy): If you want to be in melee, you want heavy armor.
- Spirit Focus: Most Mediums will likely have one favorite spirit and will use it almost every time. In those cases, this is a big bonus.
- Spirit Sense: Only matters in campaigns where haunts are a thing.
Your choice of weapon depends entirely on your build and your feat choices. If you're building for melee, consider a longspear so that you can fight from behind someone who's actually useful in melee, like a fighter.
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.
- Hide: Good, cheap starting armor if you don't want to spend the gold to get four-mirrow.
- Four-Mirror: The best AC bonus which you can afford at first level.
- Heavy Shield: Great for the AC bonus, but using a heavy shield makes it difficult to cast spells because you need to drop your weapon or shield to get a free hand. Of course, if you're using Energy Ray instead of a weapon it really doesn't matter.
- Breastplate: The same AC bonus as four-mirror, but a slightly better ACP and lower weight.
- Celestial Armor (22,400 gp): Unless you have heavy armor proficiency and a Dexterity modifier of at most +5, Celestial Armor is the best armor in the game if all you need from your armor is AC. For more, check out my Practical Guide to Celestial Armor.