Pathfinder - Slayer Handbook
Last Updated: October 15, 2018
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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.
The Slayer is one of my absolute favorite classes. It meshes the excellent stealth of the Rogue with the versatility and combat prowess of the Ranger, includes some of the best elements of both classes, and improves on some of the Ranger's weak points. The Slayer is viable in a huge number of combat styles and builds, and can fill an impressive number of roles without needing to rely on spellcasting or a pet.
Unfortunately, this versatility also makes it very hard to recommend specific options which work for every Slayer. Normal sections of this handbook have been intentionally omitted, but will be detailed in specific Slayer build handbooks in the future.
Hit Points: d10 hit points is standard for martial characters..
Base Attack Bonus: Full BAB is fantastic considering the other features of the Slayer.
Saves: Good Fortitude and Reflex saves. Will saves will be a problem, and without the Ranger's spell list there is little other reason to invest in Wisdom.
Proficiencies: All simple and martial weapons, medium armor, and shields. You can use basically anything you would ever want, and if you really need heaby armor for some reason you can spend a feat on it.
Skills: 6+ skill ranks and a decent skill list. The Slayer doesn't get Diplomacy or Disable Device by default, but you can get Diplomacy with a trait if you need to serve as the party's Face, and you can take the Trapfinding Slayer Talent if you need to serve as the party's Scout.
Studied Target: Favored Enemy wishes it was this good. The bonus is half as good, but you can use on anything. You need to spend a move action to study the target, but that drops to a Swift Action at 7th level, and you can gradually have more studied targets are a time, at which point you should never attack an un-studied target. You can use this any number of times per day for as long as you want, which is a bit ridiculous in my opinion. They could have stuck a 3+int/day limitation on this and I would still call it blue. Don't forget that the bonus applies to your class abilities, including things like the Assassinate advanced talent.
Slayer Talents: The Slayer gets a talent at every even level, like many classes, but in addition to having a short list of Slayer-specific talents, you can also pick Ranger Combat Style feats, or Rogue Talents. This allows a huge amount of versatility and customization. For help with Slayer Talents, see my Slayer Talents Breakdown.
Sneak Attack: The Slayer gets a new Sneak Attack die every 3rd level, so your pile of d6's will be smaller than a Rogue's, but the Slayer is also considerably less dependent on Sneak Attack for damage, and with full BAB the slayer can make enough attacks (and hit with them) to make up for the deficit.
Stalker: Studied Target bonus to a few more skills.
Advanced Talents: For help with Slayer Talents, see my Slayer Talents Breakdown.
Swift Tracker: Very situational.
Slayer's Advance: Situational. At this level you should have plenty of other options for movement, especially if you have a Wizard handy.
Quarry: The tracking thing is situational, but you get a bonus to attacks which stacks with Studied Target, and you automatically confirm critical threats. Grab a Keen Scimitar, some Critical Focus feats, and go mess someone up. There is no limit on uses per day, but you need to wait an hour between quarries, so save this for the biggest target in a fight, then take a lunch break between fights.
Improved Quarry: Quarry as a free action instead of a standard. Now you can study the target, declare your Quarry, and Assassinate it in two rounds.
Master Slayer: Somewhat redundant with the Assassinate Advanced Talent, but more versatile. Don't forget that you Studied Target bonus applies to the DC, so you should be looking at a 25+int DC, which will rival your Wizard's scariest save or die spells.
The Slayer is exceptionally versatile, and your choice of abilities depends heavily on what you intend to do.
Str: Crucial for damage on melee characters and archers.
Dex: With medium armor, you will want decent Dexterity.
Con: Hit points and saves. Slayers are a martial character, so you should expect to draw a lot of hits.
Int: Skill ranks, and increases the DC of Assassinate, but that's about it.
Wis: Only needed for Will saves, but Will saves will be a problem if you dump it.
Cha: The Slayer could be a Face if you take a trait to get Diplomacy as a class skill, but if you don't want to be a Face dump to 7. Studied Target can compensate for dumping Charisma if you absolutely need to be social. However, there are a lot of Slayer-only feats which depend on Intimidate, and therefore Charisma.
The Slayer is a very Flexible class, and can function with a variety of builds.
Dwarf: As always, the Dwarf is a fantastic option for a durable melee character. Darkvision is fantastic for stealth, but the Dwarf favored class bonus is worthless.
Elf: Bonuses to Dexterity and Intelligence make for a great Slayer, but the Elf's other racial abilities are wasted by the Slayer's lack of spellcasting. Alternate racial traits can improve the Elf's viability as a Slayer. The Elf favored class bonus is helpful for pursuing and ambushing a studied target, but it's probably not worth more than a skill rank.
Gnome: The Slayer is too much of a martial character for the Gnome. The Gnome favored class bonus offers extra Slayer Talents, which is tempting, but it's still not enough to make the Gnome a good choice.
Half-Elf: The Half-Elf offers a flexible ability bonus and some elf abilities. Alternate racial abilities offer some additional customization which can work really well for the Slayer. The Half-Elf favored class bonus is garbage, so take the Human favored class bonus for additional talents.
Half-Orc: A flexible ability bonus is always nice, and Darkvision is great for sneaky Stalkers. The racial bonus to Intimidate is great because Stalkers have so many Stalker-only feats that work for fear stacking. The Half-Orc favored class bonus is garbage, so take the Human bonus instead to get extra talents.
Halfling: The Halfling is your best bet for a small Slayer. A bonus to Dexterity is good for finesse or ranged builds, and the Halfling's racial abilities are good for any stealthy character. The Halfling favored class bonus adds a Dodge bonus against your Studied Target, which is fantastic as you gain the ability to study more targets at once.
Human: Always the gold standard, a flexible ability bonus and a feat work for any build. The favored class bonus grants additional Slayer Talents, allowing even more options.
- Acrobatics (Dex): Excellent for getting out of bad places in combat, but situational because you should be able to stand up to whatever your enemies are dishing out in melee.
- Bluff (Cha): Required if you plan to be the party's Face.
- Climb (Str): Too situational.
- Disguise (Cha): Too situational.
- Heal (Wis): Better on someone with better Wisdom, but this is your only healing option without dropping money on potions.
- Intimidate (Cha): Required if you plan to be the party's Face, and essential for fear-stacking builds.
- Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int): One of the most important knowledge skills.
- Knowledge (geography) (Int): Situational.
- Knowledge (local) (Int): Often helpful for plot purposes, and for identifying all of those weird humanoids.
- Perception (Wis): The most rolled skill in the game.
- Ride (Dex): Only important if you plan to go for a Mounted Combat build, and there are better options than the Slayer for Mounted Combat builds.
- Sense Motive (Wis): Helpful if you're the Face, or if your party's Face has poor Wisdom.
- Stealth (Dex): Essential for any Scout.
- Survival (Wis): Situational.
- Swim (Str): Too situational.
- Headsman's Blade (13,850 gp;): Assassinate is great and it's really hard to find ways to boost its DC.
- 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.
Multiclassing and Prestige Classes
The Slayer is already a fusion of the Rogue and Ranger, so there is little reason to multiclass unless you have a very specific build in mind.