Pathfinder - Skald Archetypes Breakdown
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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.
Fated Champion doesn't give up anything that you absolutely need, and what you get is about equal to what you lose. It's not a huge change to the Skald, but it's a great option if you're looking for mostly a vanilla Skald with slightly different features.
Watcher of the Weave (Ex): Initiative Bonuses are fantastic, and going earlier means that you can get your buffs in place before your allies act..
Far Seer (Su): Divination spells are very powerful, and damage spells are rarely a good option for the Skald because they're only 2/3 casters and can't access powerful enough damage spells to remain relevant. This leaves other spells, such as buff and utility spells, unaffected.
Shield of Foresight (Su): Situational.
Not This Day (Su): 10 rounds is definitely steep, but you can get additional rounds for the Extra Music feat or from the Half-Elf and Half-Orc favored class bonuses. Rerolling a saving throw or an attack can easily save your life.
Replaced Features: Well-Versed, Dirge of Doom, Master Skald
The Herald of the Horn places an emphasis on sonic effects, but doesn't contribute anything particularly interesting.
Arcane Bond (Ex): An extra spell slot per day is much better for the Skald than Scribe Scroll. However, being forced to hold the horn makes it more difficult to wield a weapon.
Rousing Retort (Su): Situational, but good for effects like Dominate Person.
Horn Call (Su): There are very few Sonic spells, and because the Skald isn't a supremecy caster you generally shouldn't rely on spell DC's.
Crumbling Blast (Su): The damage is poor, and very few enemies care about bring deafened. The 17th-level version is nice because it stuns people, but the damage is still terrible and targets are only stunned for one round.
Replaced Features: Scribe Scroll, Lore Master, Spell Kenning
Counterspell builds only make sense in campaigns where you primary enemies are spellcasters. Even then, you can usually do much better by killing the caster instead of standing about and hoping to win a magical game of rock, paper, scissors. Weapon Song is pretty great, and it's sad that it's bundled with the Spell Warrior's other terrible abilities.
Improved Counterspell: Counterspelling is terrible, but the Spell Warrior makes it a bit less awful.
Weapon Song (Su): Enhance Weapons is fantastic, and adds a lot of great tactical options.
- Enhance Weapons (Su): This provides a lot of great options, much like the Paladin's and the Magus' abilities to enhance their weapons. Note that the enhancement bonuses stack with whatever is one the weapon, and a sufficiently high enhancement bonus can Bypass DR. The only shortcoming of this ability is that the maximum bonus is capped by the number of weapons you target, which makes this a difficult option in parties with lots of weapons.
Greater Counterspell (Su): Counterspelling is still terrible, but these abilities makes it much easier.
Song of Arcane Manipulation (Su): This allows you to counterspell without wasting your turn standing around and staring at the enemy spellcaster.
Spell Tamper (Su): The damage is puny, and after you successfully counter the spell the target still gets a saving throw.
Replaced Features: Inspired Rage, Spell Kenning, Dirge of Doom, Master Skald
The Totemic Skald adds Animal Focus as an addition buff on top of Inspired Rage, which offers a lot of fantastic options. Unfortunately, no Totem options are goo for both Song of the Beast and Wild Shape, which makes the archetype somewhat difficult. Your best option may be to ignore Wold Shape.
Totem (Su): Your totem affects your options for Song of the Beast and Wild Shape, so select a totem which offers viable options. Unfortunately, forms which work well for Song of the Beast tend to be bad for Wild Shape, and vice versa. I recommend focus more on Song of the Beast because it scales as you level, but the Skald only gets Wild Shape enough to use Beast Shape I.
- Song of the Beast (Su): Animal Focus is a fantastic ability.
Totem Empathy (Ex and Sp): Very situational.
Wild Shape (Su): Effectively Beast Shape I. For help with Wild Shape, see my Practical Guide to Polymorph.
Replaced Features: Rage Powers (3rd), Uncanny Dodge, Improved Uncanny Dodge, Spell Kenning