Pathfinder - Slayer Archetypes 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.
If you want to play a nonlethal Slayer, the Bount Hunter is for you. If you don't care if you outright murder your enemies, look elsewhere.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The Bounty Hunter gives up a lot of AC from medium armor and heavy shields and gets access to several weapons use to hinder or subdue enemies without harming them.
Dirty Trick (Ex): Dirty Trick is a fantastic way to inhibit and debuff enemies without directly harming them.
Submission Hold (Ex): The Slayer's Sneak Attack damage isn't great, and there is very little reason for the Bounty Hunter to start grappling at any point. The -5 penalty for attempting to apply Sneak Attack damage only makes this issue worse.
Incapacitate (Ex): Very nice if you're trying not to kill the target, but problematic if you can't tie them up in the 1d6 rounds in which they are unconcious.
Replaced Features: Weapon and Armor Proficiency, Slayer Talents (2nd, 6th), Advanced Slayer Talents (10th)
The Cleaner really doesn't make sense as an adventurer, but might make sense for your party if they are terrible. If you party tends to go around murdering innocent people and taking their stuff, the Cleaner can help avoid nasty legal complications. Beyond that exact scenario, the Cleaner is essentially useless.
Deceitful: A flat bonus to two skills. Not very exciting, but not much worse than Track.
Without a Trace (Ex): Ridiculously situational.
Mislead (Sp): The ultimate answer to magical detection. Find some friendly fellow of the same race, and use them as the subject of your Misdirection.
Replaced Features: Track, Slayer Talents (4th), Stalker
The Cutthroat has a couple of decent abilities, but doesn't provide anything good enough to justify giving up two Slayer Talents.
Class Skills: The Cutthroat trades in some of the Slayer's adventuring skills for some social skills. If you want to play a Face, this is a nice trade and saves you the trouble of spending traits on class skills.
Street Stalker (Ex): A bit more versatile than Track, but still situational.
Opportune Target (Ex): This is helpful at any level for getting your targets studied so that you can use your actions to kill them.
Stab and Grab (Ex): Ridiculously situational, and hard to apply because you need to kill the target with a critical hit.
Replaced Features: Class Skills, Track, Slayer Talents (2nd, 6th)
The Deliverer is fun concept, but the abilities provided aren't as good as the talent slots which you give up to get them.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Deities' favored weapons are almost exclusively martial weapons, and Slayers already get proficiency with martial weapons.
Determined Zeal (Ex): You're likely to spend a lot of time fighting your morale opposites, but you need to continue attacking to maintain the bonus.
True Believer (Ex): A very slightly improvement on Determined Zeal. If you're in negative hit points, stop what you're doing and drink a potion.
Divine Anathema (Ex): A nice bit of extra damage.
Replaced Features: Weapon Proficiency (Altered), Slayer Talents (2nd, 6th), Advanced Slayer Talents (10th)
While certainly fantastic against undead, the Grave Warden lacks versatility. In undead-heavy campaigns the Grave Warden can be a good option, but most campaigns won't find much use for the Grave Warden's abilities.
Holy Water Sprinkler (Ex): Situational. To make effective use of this, you will need Quick Draw and free hand. If you are using a weapon two-handed this is fine, but the extra damage provided by holy water is hardly worth the cost of a feat.
Death Ward (Sp): Death effects are scary, as are energy drain and negative energy effects. Death Ward does a lot to mitigate these effects, but with a minutes per level duration it's difficult to know when to use this.
Dustbringer (Ex): While certainly not as versatile as Assassinate, Dustbringer is one of relatively few save or die effects which work on undead.
Replaced Features: Slayer Talent (2nd), Stalker, Advanced Slayer Talent (10th)
A good concept, but sneak attacking at greater range generally does very little to improve Sneak Attack. Rogues have similar options, but can make much better use because they get so much more Sneak Attack damage.
Accuracy (Ex): Range increments are rarely a problem, but this is certainly better than Track.
Deadly Range (Ex): Sneak Attack at greater range is nice, but in most cases the Slayer will get more use out of a new talent than a few more feet of Sneak Attack range.
Replaced Features: Track, Slayer Talents (2nd)
The Stygian Slayer offers some interesting and useful stealth options for the Slayer. If you are planning a high-Dexterity build the Stygian slayer can be a great choice.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: As a stealth character the Stygian Slayer needs Dexterity already. Removing the Slayer's bigger armor options reinforces this requirement.
Invisibility (Sp): Invisibility is a fantastic buff which every stealth character seeks to replicate to some degree. The limited uses per day are problematic, so be sure to use this sparingly.
Spell Use: These are good spells and effects for the Stalker to capitalize on, but can be largely replicated with UMD.
Shadowy Mist Form (Sp): Fantastic for infiltration, escape, and distraction. This has the added effect of covering your allies' escape, which is unusual for abilities which turn you to mist.
Replaced Features: Weapon and Armor Proficiency, Slayer Talents (4th), Stalker, Advanced Slayer Talents (10th)
The Vanguard likes to go first, and pretends to like Teamwork Feats. If you plan to use Teamwork Feats, the Vanguard gets you a free one, but remember that Tactician only allows you to share the bonus Teamwork Feat.
Lookout (Ex): I will take an initiative bonus over Track any day and on any character.
Tactician (Ex): At this level there are very few interesting teamwork feats, and you can only share this feat once per day. You can waste a talent slot on additional uses, but with so few feat choices you shouldn't ever do so.
Vanguard's Bond (Ex): Studied target offers some great bonuses, and sharing them with your allies can be a great way to support them. The Slayer can't compete with the Bard's bonuses to attacks and damage, but don't let that deter you.
Ever Ready (Ex): Being guaranteed to act in the surprise round can make a big difference in winning a fight. Couple with Tactician, you should be able to go fairly early in the surprise round.
Replaced Features: Slayer Talents (2nd, 4th), Stalker