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Pathfinder - The Mesmerist Handbook

Last Updated: October 15, 2018

Disclaimer

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.

Temporary Note: Paizo has recently discontinued support of their official SRD. From this point forward SRD links on RPGBOT.net will instead link to d20PFSRD.com. While Archive of Nethys is now Paizo's officially licensed partner for the purposes of serving the Pathfinder SRD, Archive of Nethys is a horribly designed website and it simply doesn't match d20PFSRD's ability to keep pace with published content and d20PFSRD's search functionality.

If you encounter any links which still point to the old SRD, please email me so that I can correct them. I also recently added a page explaining my supported content which you may find helpful. --September 15, 2018

Introduction

The Mesmerist does two things: It talks to creatures, and it stares at creatures. In a party it serves as a Face, and with a little bit of help it can serve as a Scout. It can also do some support stuff, but can't compete with a normal spellcaster. Hypnotic Stare is the Mesmerist's signature ability, allowing the Mesmerist to significantly debuff enemies. Unfortunately, the Mesmerist is capable of doing very little on its own, so if you play one you'll need strong allies to do the heavy lifting in combat.

Mesmerist Class Features

Hit Points: d8 hit points is probably enough as long as you're smart. Hypnotic Gaze locks you into fighting within 30 feet, but you're in light armor with no shields and mediocre Dexterity, so your AC is going to be terrible.

Base Attack Bonus: 2/3 BAB is fine, especially since you only need to attack when you have nothing better to do with your turn.

Saves: Two good saves, but you'll want to invest in your Fortitude save.

Proficiencies: Light armor, simple weapons, and a handful of other weapons. Except to spend a lot of time in a chain shirt wielding a sword cane.

Skills: While not so versatile as the Bard or the Rogue, the Mesmerist gets 6+ skill ranks and has good skill list with a good mix of knowledge and face skills.

Spells: 2/3 spontaneous Charisma-based casting. The Mesmerist's spell list is almost exclusively mind-affecting like other psychic casters, and at only 2/3 casting you'll have issues with save DCs. Fortunately, Hypnotic Stare applies a big enough penalty to offset the DC gap between you and a full caster.

Consummate Liar: The bonus to bluff is really nice, but the Mesmerist has absolutely no reason to feint.

Hypnotic Stare (Su): -2 to Will saves is significant, and upgrading to -3 at 8th level is even better. For a class which focuses so heavily on mental effects, this is absolutely essential. Anything with a high Will save might be out of your reach, and this penalty could make or break you. This ability also sets the target for Painful Stare, Bold Stare, and Stare Feats, which are the bulk of how you'll contribute in combat.

Knacks: Cantrips are fantastic regardless of their name. Unfortunately your list of options is very short, but you still get essentials like detect magic and prestidigitation.

Mesmerist Tricks (Su): Most Trick options are terrible, and the limitation of one implanted trick at a time makes the ability really difficult to use in any meaningful way until you get Manifold Tricks at 5th level. See my Mesmerist Trick Breakdown for help selecting tricks.

Painful Stare (Su): It's a bit like sneak attack, but you can only do it once per round and the damage is terrible.

Towering Ego (Su): Will saves are important, and putting your Charisma bonus on top of your high Will saves should make you nice and resilient.

Bold Stare (Su): You need Psychic Inception. You will die if you do not take it. I cannot emphasize that enough. The other options are cool, and some of them are even worth taking, but Psychic Inception is too important for you to not have it. Take that first, and just pretend that you didn't actually get a choice because any other choice is like leaning on the point of a sword and hoping it's not sharp enough to run you through.

Touch Treatment (Su): Having the option to remove status conditions is nice, but spending a standard action to remove most of the conditions from an ally is usually a waste of your turn.

Manifold Tricks (Su): Without this, Tricks are garbage. It's just too hard to predict both what trick you need and what friend you need it on.

Mental Potency (Ex): This might be a helpful way to squeeze some more usefulness out of your low-level spells, but the scaling is too poor to be meaningful.

Glib Lie (Su): Extremely situational.

Masterful Tricks (Su): See my Mesmerist Trick Breakdown for help selecting tricks

Rule Minds (Su): Permanent Dominate Person. Find a big, important enemy and enslave them.

Abilities

You need Charisma, and you need to stay alive.

Str: Dump to 7 and use a ranged weapon.

Dex: In light armor you need Dexterity to boost your AC.

Con: Fortitude is your only bad save, and you'll need hit points to compensate for your light armor.

Int: More skill points can be really useful depending on your party makeup.

Wis: You need a bit for Will saves, but Towering Ego allows you to apply your Charisma as a bonus so you don't need to invest heavily in Wisdom.

Cha: Your spells and abilities are all Charisma-based.

25 Point Buy 20 Point Buy 15 Point Buy Elite Array
  • Str: 7
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 18
  • Str: 7
  • Dex: 13
  • Con: 12
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 18
  • Str: 7
  • Dex: 12
  • Con: 12
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 17
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 13
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 10
  • Cha: 15

Races

Charisma bonuses are hard to find, but they're basically the only thing you need. Small size is nice because it makes you harder to hit, but it's not crucial.

Dwarf: Charisma penalty.

Elf: Nothing useful for the Mesmerist.

Gnome: Bonuses to two important scores and a penalty to your dump stat.

Half-Elf: The flexible bonus goes into Charisma. The favored class bonus sucks, and humans and half-orcs provide other bonuses that work well for the Mesmerist, so they're better options.

Half-Orc: The ability score bonus goes into Charisma, and the bonus to Intimidate helps with your face skills. The racial favored class bonus improves your Painful Stare damage. It's not a ton, but the damage from Painful stare is so poor that it's a significant improvement.

Halfling: Bonuses to two important abilities and a penalty to your dump state. The favored class bonus gets you extra trick uses per day, but I think most mesmerists will have trouble going through their existing pool of uses.

Human: The ability score bonus goes into Charisma, and but there really aren't enough feats to make the feat important. The favored class bonus will improve your Will saves, which isn't very exciting but it's still useful.

Skills

Feats

Stare Feats

Stare feats are one of the few things that makes the Mesmerist actually interesting. Be sure to pick up at least one, and if you can spare the feats get a second before you pick up Compounded Pain.

Weapons

Armor

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.

Magic Items

Armor/Shields

Staffs

It's difficult to recommend specific staffs without knowing your individual character, so instead I want to make a general endorsement of the concept of magic staffs in Pathfinder. If you are a 3.5 native, go read Pathfinder's rules for staffs because they have improved dramatically.

Staffs are a reliable, rechargeable source of extra spellcasting that can give spellcasters easy and reliable access to spells from their spell list which they might not want to learn, or which they might like to use so frequently that they can't prepare the spell enough times in a given day. On days when you're not adventuring (traveling, resting, etc.) you can easily recharge any staff even if you can only cast one of the spells which the staff contains.