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Pathfinder - Character Optimization - The Vigilante Handbook

Disclaimer

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.

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.

Introduction

The Vigilante is similar to a Rogue in many ways. They have a broad skill list, and can excel as Faces, Scouts, and Strikers. However, the class's design and concept make it an exceptionally unique class with some important implications for your build, your play style, and your campaign in general.

Unlike most classes, Vigilantes have a very small set of fixed abilities, and instead have two types of talents, which makes them extremely customizable. The nature of the class mandates that these talents will very rarely interact. Your Social Talents will take the fore while you are in your "Social" identity, but your Vigilante Talents will take over when you switch to your "Vigilante" identity.

When consider the Vigilante class, it's crucial to consider what style of campaign you are playing. The Vigilante is absolutely not a conventional adventurer. If your party delves dungeons, hunts monsters, and faces foes like Callifax the Mad Mage, who enjoys summoning demons, raising the dead, and weilding evil artifacts then the Vigilante will be a largely useless appendage. If your party faces foes like Lord Cicily of Crestfall, who enjoys political corruption, widespread injustice, and the occasional dinner party, then the Vigilante is a good choice. The Vigilante excels in highly social and RP-heavy games, and in games which don't change locales frequently.

In all things related to the Vigilante, consider Batman your gold standard.

Vigilante Class Features

Hit Points: d8 hit points is common for Rogue-like Strikers. You won't stand up to damage like a Fighter, but you shouldn't need to.

Base Attack Bonus: 2/3 BAB is typical for a high-skill class. If you want full BAB, you cantake the Avenger specialization.

Saves: Good Reflex and Will saves.

Proficiencies: Considerably better proficiencies than the Rogue. Medium armor and shields, plus martial weapons. That's a good range of options, but in medium armor you'll probably still opt for a Dexterity-based build over Strength.

Skills: The Vigilante's skill list is very long, which provides lots of options, but they only get 6+ skill ranks so they face the same issue as Rogues: far too many options to grab everything you want.

Dual Identity (Ex): The defining feature of the class. Your ability to switch between identities defines which skillsets are available to you. Generally your "Social" identity will command the bulk of your character's in-world time, but when weapons come out your "Vigilante" identity should too.

Seamless Guise (Ex): Situational, but it completely eliminates the need for the Disguise skill.

Social Talent:

Vigilante Specialization (Ex): Your choice of specialization determines how you fight more than any other decision within the class. Avengers are more of a straight-forward Fighter-like option, while Stalkers fight more like Rogues.

Vigilante Talent: Vigilante Talents determine how you fight. In a game like Pathfinder, you do a lot of that. See my Vigilante Talents Breakdown for help selecting talents.

Unshakable (Ex): Very situational.

Startling Appearance (Ex): This would be great if Stalker's Hidden Strike applied to flat-footed targets, but because of the way it's worded Hidden Strike doesn't care if the target is flat-footed.

Frightening Appearance (Ex): The AOE is small, but Shaken is a fantastic status condition and with a decent entrance you can start encounters with a considerable advantage. The wording is somewhat ambiguous, but I take "the target of his attack and any enemies within 10 feet who can see the attack" to mean 10 feet of the target, not 10 feet of the Vigilante. Otherwise ranged builds would be absolutely non-viable. Frightening the target of your attack potentially prevents them from attacking you, which is especially useful when attacking single targets.

Stunning Appearance (Ex): Stunning a target causes them to drop whatever their holding (namely weapons), and robs them of their turn.

Vengeance Strike (Ex): Versatile and exceptionally powerful. You get to stack up to 5 effects, which can be absolutely devastating.

Abilities

Vigilantes can be very MAD if you let them. Be sure to emphasize what you need to get by, and don't be afraid to go into the game with several 16's instead of one 18.

Str: Take a bit for damage. 12 is fine. 14 might be too much just because going from 13 to 14 costs more point-buy points than from 11 to 12. Only two-handed builds really need strength, and most Vigilantes won't go that route.

Dex: Most Vigilantes will be in medium armor at most, so you need at least a little bit of Dexterity. Lethal Grace makes this especially true because the level bonus to damage will scale much fast than your Strength bonus could.

Con: Everyone needs hit points, and Fortitude is the Vigilante's bad save.

Int: Vigilantes are too MAD to put a lot into Intelligence, which is a shame since they have so many good skills.

Wis: The closest thing you've got to a dump stat. Fortunately Vigilantes get good Will saves.

Cha: The Vigilante is a Face by nature, and many of the Vigilante's abilities rely on Charisma.

25 Point Buy 20 Point Buy 15 Point Buy Elite Array
  • Str: 12
  • Dex: 16
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 10
  • Wis: 8
  • Cha: 16
  • Str: 10
  • Dex: 16
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 10
  • Wis: 8
  • Cha: 15
  • Str: 10
  • Dex: 15
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 10
  • Wis: 8
  • Cha: 14
  • Str: 10
  • Dex: 15
  • Con: 13
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 8
  • Cha: 14

Skills

Weapons

Armor

Choose the armor which most closely matches your max dex bonus. If you're in medium or heavy armor, pick up the Armor Skin Vigilante Talent to eliminate the ACP to Stealth and speed penalties. If you have an empty hand (looking at you Rapier users) pick up a shield once you can eliminate the ACP.

Rings

Wands

Wondrous Items

Permanent Spells

Multiclassing and Prestige Classes