In Pathfinder 2E some archetypes have so many feats they could be a class unto themselves. The Marshal is one such Archetype, with a total of thirteen feats exclusive to the Marshal as well as access to the Attack of Opportunity feat shared by multiple classes. One could, if so desired, take exclusively Marshal feats from 2nd level all the way to 14 and do fairly well as the only requirement to enter the Archetype is being trained in martial weapons and either Diplomacy or Intimidation.
But what do you get out of being a Marshal? Primarily options that support martial allies in battle. Effects such as status bonuses to damage or attacks, temporary hit points, or even temporarily quickening allies are all part of the Marshal’s kit. Anyone who is looking for that extra party boost or who is nostalgic for 4e’s Warlord class should have a look at the Marshal.
Table of Contents
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
- Marshal Dedication 2: Not bad as far as Dedication feats go. Being able to push Intimidation or Diplomacy up to Expert is a nice little bonus, but the star of the show is the Marshal’s Aura. In the most basic form granted by the Dedication, it is a 10-foot aura that gives a +1 status bonus to Saves against Fear. Frightened is a terrible condition to be afflicted with, so being even +1 better at shaking off or avoiding those kinds of effects can save your party’s lives.
- Dread Marshal Stance 4: While it might not seem like much of a bonus, the level you gain this feat is also the level where martial characters are expected to pick up a striking rune, thus starting out as a +2 status bonus to damage rolls within your aura. This damage really adds up when we’re applying the aura to multiple allies, but we’re also looking for the free Frightened condition whenever somebody gets a critical hit. As mentioned above, Frightened is a terrible condition to suffer from so of course we want to impose it as much as we can on our foes.
- Inspiring Marshal Stance 4: This is just Bless but it requires a skill check instead of a spell slot, and it adds protection against mental effects in the form of +1 status bonus to saves. The weakness of Bless is that it happens to be an aura centered on the caster, but the Marshal can be a martial that happens to be well suited to stand on the front lines.
- Snap Out of It! 4: Snap Out of It is less impressive than the other 4th-level Marshal options, but it’s still useful in the right situations. An ally suffering from a mental effect that allows a Will save is granted a new save with a +1 circumstances bonus, but read the text carefully. The effect ends on a success against the original DC, even if the effect allowed additional saves and a success would not normally end the effect (ex: the spell Crushing Despair). So while the effect of the feat is great, it’s far more situational than the other feats at this level.
- Steel Yourself! 4: This feat is a decent choice when you get it at 4th level, the temporary HP is at most 4 right then and the +2 to Fortitude saves is good insurance if the foe you are fighting targets those. This is overshadowed a bit by the Aura Stances, but if your party already has those kinds of Status Bonuses from other class features, this is still a good alternative. If all you care about is the Temporary HP however, there are other feats later on to consider, or you could get them from items like Numbing Tonic.
- Cadence Call 6: Once per minute (so once per fight), Quicken everyone in your aura an extra Stride. Really nice to open the fight, but remember, if an ally takes the extra Stride, they are then Slowed 1 on their following turn. Basically this is borrowing a future action to get better positioning and damage now is better than damage later, so if that Stride is enough to get someone (or multiple someones) in the right location for a 3-action attack, this is great. Remember that you are not your own ally, so you don’t get the extra action.
- Rallying Charge 6: For two actions, Stride and Strike, but then also hand out temporary HP to all allies that can see you. This is really nice, but we have to keep in mind it has the Open trait, which it shares with both of the Stances. This means that you cannot get your Dread or Inspiring aura up and Rallying Charge on the same turn, which is why I have held it back to Green.
- Attack of Opportunity 8: There is a small intersection of classes that qualify for this Archetype by having Martial Weapon Training while also not having Attack of Opportunity or an equivalent like Champion’s Reaction as a feat or class feature. For those classes that this applies to, it’s nice to have this option.
- Back to Back 8: Flat-footed is a pretty dangerous condition to find yourself in, so becoming mostly immune to it by simply staying adjacent to an ally is very nice. Sure, it can be overcome if you’re both flanked so it’s not 100% perfect, but that requires you to be outnumbered enough to be outflanked.
- To Battle! 8: This feat has some fantastic uses. For example, if a squishy ally is too close to the front line, spending an action to have that ally Stride further back can be useful. Additionally, if you want to hold the line where you stand, but can’t really reach anything yourself, then perhaps spending two actions to allow an ally to make a ranged Strike is a smart move. At the very worst, this feat is “Spend Two Actions and one Ally’s Reaction: Make a strike that ignores MAP.” Just remember that because this has Flourish, you can’t use it in the same round as any other Flourish actions/activities.
- Topple Foe 10: This is really nice because it’s the Trip action as a reaction. This is great action economy and it neither suffers from nor contributes to your own MAP. If you time it well so that the enemy you Trip doesn’t have its turn until after your next turn, you can really capitalize on this.
- Coordinated Charge 12: Similar to Rallying Charge, make a Stride and a Strike, but then instead of granting temporary HP, all allies can spend a reaction to Stride as long as the Stride ends closer to the target of your Strike. If you have allies that can take advantage of extra movement at the cost of their reactions, this is great. If not, you can always fall back on Rallying Charge for temp HP instead. Both are great tools to keep in your toolbox.
- Tactical Cadence 14: This is just an upgrade to Cadence Call. Now the Quickened Action can be either a Stride or a Strike and there is no slowed condition on the following turn. It’s still only once per fight, but it’s such a good way to open up every fight, or you can save it until everyone piles in on one foe, then spend one Action to give multiple allies a Strike.
- Target of Opportunity 14: As a reaction, when using a ranged or thrown weapon, add your attack to an ally’s ranged attack to make it stronger. It’s certainly a strong reaction if you have multiple ranged attackers in your party, and it grants an alternative to Attack of Opportunity for ranged weapon Marshals. But parties with multiple ranged weapon users are unusual, so most parties can’t make this useful.
Who Should Use This?
Anyone that really wants to add party support capabilities to their martial weapon user can really benefit from the Marshal archetype.
- Barbarian: Nothing about Raging prevents the use of Marshal features.
- Bard: While you can easily qualify with the Warrior Muse, Bards already have plenty of support options and don’t get a lot out of Marshal, unless they perhaps really want Attack of Opportunity for some reason.
- Champion: Not a terrible pick and there is some synergy as the Champion’s devotion focus spells use Charisma for their DC, pairing well with the handful of Charisma-dependent Marshal feats.
- Cleric: Similar to the Bard, taking the Warpriest Doctrine will grant a Cleric easy access to Marshal, but a Cleric also already has a lot of support options that cover what Marshals do.
- Fighter: Fighter has a lot of stances it can take, which compete for the two stances in Marshal, but if you forgo those Fighter stances, at 14th you can take Stance Savant to enter either Aura stance as soon as Initiative is rolled.
- Magus: Magus already has an overloaded action economy problem, so juggling Marshal actions as well is difficult.
- Monk: Monk also has Stance support options like Fighter; getting Stance Savant at 12 instead of 14 for example. You would need to take the Weapon Proficiency feat in order to have the Martial proficiency required for Marshal Dedication, but in return for being a Monk Marshal and sticking it out for 20 levels, you can use Fuse Stance to either combine one of the Marshal stances with a Monk stance or to combine both Dread and Inspiring stances into one super aura. Shame it takes so long and requires burning a general feat.
- Ranger: Since the Ranger doesn’t already have stances to conflict with the auras, adding Marshal can improve the output of an Animal Companion as well as your party.
- Swashbuckler: Panache utilizes many charisma-based skills, and that combines quite well with the Marshal’s focus on either Diplomacy or Intimidation. Be some kind of Pirate Captain with this combination.
- Thaumaturge: The Regalia implement can actually provide some of the same benefits as Marshal, but if you prefer other implements, taking this Archetype can give you additional support options to leverage that Charisma key ability score.