On the main page for the Off-Tank you’ll find information about various build information you need to know when first creating your character, while on this page you’ll find a level-by-level guide to advancing them, and information on how the character’s playstyle will change over time, when applicable. For the sake of brevity, we’ll base this information based on the build we used and we won’t quibble too much over minor variations which are possible.
|The Off-Tank||Starting Characteristics|
|1||Magus (Sword Saint) 1||Dodge, Chosen Weapon - Estoc||Shield, Grease, Shocking Grasp, Reduce Person, Enlarge Person||–|
|2||Monk (Scaled Fist)||Crane Style||–||–|
|3||Alchemist (Vivisectionist)||Accomplished Sneak Attacker||True Sight, Shield, Enlarge Person, Reduce Person, Cure Light Wounds||–|
|4||Magus||–||Corrosive Touch, True Strike||–|
|5||Magus||Dazzling Display, Arcane Accuracy||Burning Hands, Magica Missile||–|
|6||Magus||–||Mirror Image, Glitterdust||–|
|7||Magus||Outflank, Intimidating Prowess||Frigid Touch, Web||–|
|8||Magus||Enduring Blade||Scorching Ray, Acid Arrow||–|
|9||Magus||Crane Wing||Displacement, Haste||–|
|10||Magus||–||Vampiric Touch, Slow||–|
|1||Str 16, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 15, Wis 7, Cha 16|
|Persuasion (max)||Mobility (3)||Athletics (max)||Knowledge (Arcana) (max)||Use Magic Device|
There are a lot of potent Magus builds possible in Pathfinder: Kingmaker, and frankly, your party is well-served by having another potential tank who can do many of the things your dedicated Tank can do so a bit of bad RNG doesn’t cause your entire party to collapse. Of course, there’s no good reason to have outright duplicates, so the Off-Tank is a more DPS-focused build than the protagonist-recommended Tank build. The Off-Tank won’t have as high of an Armor Class score as the Tank, but they won’t be so far behind that it should greatly impact their performance (save for perhaps in Unfair difficulty). You will want to draw aggro with your Tank whenever possible (especially against the most powerful of foes) but sometimes you just need more than one competent tank; you have to split your party up, you have to meet threats from more than one direction, etc. While the Off-Tank will hit harder than the Tank the two generally play similarly.
Levels 1 - 3
Like The Tank, the Off-Tank gets off to a slow start. Unlike the Tank, the Off-Tank doesn’t need to wait until 5th-level to start contributing decent damage in melee. She’s not impressive at the outset by any means, but she’s not waiting for Slashing Grace, either. She also has a wider variety of spells to choose from and can learn new spells from scrolls, albeit at the cost of having to prepare the exact spells she wants to use ahead of time and being able to cast fewer of them a day. This typically means that only the first 4-5 spells listed each level (at most) really matter all that much, and you’re probably better just stacking staples like Reduce Person, Shield, Mirror Image and Displacement for you own personal use - let The Caster worry about other spells.
During the first three levels, we’ll pick up all the classes this build will use before we start boosting Magus for the rest of the game.
You’re pretty much a generic Magus at this point. It’s not all bad - wear light armor, hack enemies apart with your Estoc, use the odd buff. Unlike The Tank, you’re not starting from a bad position. Of course, if you’re using this build for a mercenary, you probably shouldn’t bother grabbing them early - getting The Caster and The Healer first is just a far better use of your money, if for no better reason than the pets they bring to the table. Pick the Dodge feat in anticipation of your next level.
Similar to The Tank’s second level, The Off-Tank picks up a level of Monk (Scaled Fist) for the Charisma bonus to Armor Class (+3) and Crane Wing, which will further boost our Armor Class by +1 when Fighting Defensively. Now is when we cast aside armor forevermore, although at this point in time it’s mostly a lateral trade. Don’t worry, things will improve.
This is honestly around the level where you’ll recruit this character, which is fine, as it’s where they’ll get a significant offensive boost. We dip into Alchemist (Vivisectionist) for the +1d6 Sneak Attack damage and grab the Accomplished Sneak Attacker feat for another +1d6 Sneak Attack. Flank enemies for an additional +2d6 damage. Simple. You’ll also get a Mutagen that’ll give you +2 Natural Armor and +4 Strength for 10 minutes, once per day. It’s not a bad buff. You’ll also get Alchemist spells, but it’s almost entirely overlap - pick spells that are useful with only one level, as you won’t be boosting your Alchemist Caster Level again. True Strike is the real winner here, as it functions the same at any level.
You should also place your third and final point in Mobility at this level, which will grant you a +1 Dodge Bonus to Armor Class when Fighting Defensively, constituting a +4 overall bonus thanks to Crane Style. You can now ignore Mobility going forward, opting to invest all your points into Knowledge (Arcana) instead. You probably won’t spend too many points into Use Magic Device (another suggested skill for this character) until you hit 12th-level, when you’ll drop a point into Intelligence. Don’t worry, skill point gains are retroactive, so you’re not losing out by waiting, and you probably won’t need to use scrolls or wands early on, anyways.
Slow levels for the Magus here. They continue to coast on their Strength score and Sneak Attack damage, but things definitely become more competitive with The Tank over this span. By 8th-level, the dynamic will have mostly stopped shifting, with both being respectable damage dealers and front-line tanks, albeit with The Off-Tank enjoying a superior offensive performance due to their Mutagen and Sneak Attack and The Tank enjoying supremacy in the “not getting flattened by owlbears” department, due to their higher Charism and Dexterity.
Not much going on here. Drop a level into Magus, pick up some new 1st-level spells. The only noteworthy development is you’ll attain Spellstrike which allows you to deliver a touch-ranged spell via your weapon, discharging it with a successful melee attack. You need a hand free for this, which serves this build just fine. If you also make use of Spell Combat you can cast a spell that takes one standard action (most of them) while still being able to make all your attacks in the same round. The Tank relies on this more, as it’s one of their few early-game ways of dealing damage, although The Off-Tank certainly isn’t so powerful that they might not have the need to cast and discharge a Shocking Grasp spell via Spell Combat and Spellstrike.
The Magus will pick up Dazzling Display and Arcane Accuracy here. The former won’t have much impact yet (it pairs exceptionally well with Shatter Defenses, which is some ways off), while Arcane Accuracy allows us to add our Intelligence modifier to our Attack rolls. It’s… not much, but it’ll get better as you acquire Intelligence-boosting gear.
The big draw here are 2nd-level arcane spells, including Glitterdust and Mirror Image. The first will absorb hits meant for your Magus and the second will reveal invisible/concealed enemies and potentially blind them. This Magus is never going to do well when it comes to using spells that challenge an enemy’s saves (their Intelligence is just too low to be a serious debuffer), but you get Glitterdust early enough and it stays useful long enough to be worth grabbing.
Outflank is the headline for level seven, as it’ll further boost The Off-Tank’s Attack Bonus while flanking from +2 to +4, and grant an Attack of Opportunity if somebody The Off-Tank is flanking with lands a critical hit. The Off-Tank loves to be flanking, of course, for that sweet +2d6 Sneak Attack damage boost. They’ll also pick up Intimidating Prowess, which boosts their Persuasion check by an amount equal to their Strength. This will be useful when we start using Dazzling Display more, but that’s in the future still. As for spells, Frigid Touch is picked up for its utility as a Spellstrike option, as is Web, which fills a similar function as the Grease spell.
The doldrums are over, and The Off-Tank will start stacking some damage again. Levels 8-11 are mostly characterized by the acquisition of Enduring Blade, 3rd-level arcane spells, and Shatter Defenses, all of which will help The Off-Tank out tremendously.
Enduring Blade is the highlight of this level, with which you’ll be able to add significant utility to a core Magus ability, which has thus far gone under-utilized: Arcane Weapon Enhancement. You’ve had this for a while, but frankly, its effects and duration were both unimpressive enough that it really wasn’t a major factor in this build. Enduring Blade improves this ability to make it more noteworthy, allowing you to expend one extra point from your Arcane Pool to increase the duration from the standard one minute to one minute per Magus level. From the outset, this buff will last seven minutes, which is enough time to clear a significant portion of any level.
Arcane Weapon Enhancement will boost the enhancement bonus of your weapon (up to a total maximum of +5), giving you a +1 bonus to Attack and damage at Magus levels 1-4, +2 at levels 5-8, +3 at levels 9-12, +4 at levels 13-16 and finally +5 at level 17+. Again, this stacks with the weapon’s base enhancement bonus, but the maximum is +5, so once you start getting your hands on +3, +4 and +5 weapons, the gains from this will diminish. Fortunately, you’ll gain other properties you can add to your weapons via Arcane Weapon Enhancement as you level up, including Keen (improves Critical Hit Threat Range), Flaming (+1d6 fire damage), Frost (+1d6 cold damage), and Shocking (+1d6 electrical damage), among others. These properties do not stack with any similar benefits on the same item (a Keen Longsword doesn’t benefit from adding Keen via Arcane Weapon Enhancement), and adding more properties will deplete your Arcane Pool faster, but the increase damage output (roughly +3.5 damage per elemental property added per attack) is one of the final boons needed to bring the Magus up to snuff, offensively.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be using Arcane Weapon Enhancement during every major battle and in every dungeon going forward, although the exact properties you apply will vary depending on what weapon you have, what enemies you’re facing and how many point you have to expend from your Arcane Pool.
Two major developments this level, the first of which is the acquisition of the Crane Wing feat. This monstrous feat will give us a +4 Dodge Bonus to Armor Class against melee attacks while Fighting Defensively with no downsides… except for the caveat that we’ll temporarily lose the bonus in the case of a near miss.
In addition to that we’ll gain access to 3rd-level arcane spells. By now it should be clear that this Magus isn’t a primary spellcaster, but being able to buff herself with Displacement doesn’t require a lot of competence - you’ll get 50% concealment however good of a caster you are, although its duration does mean you should reserve it for more difficult foes. Haste is another no-brainer, as it gives a +1 Attack Bonus and +1 Dodge Bonus to Armor Class while also doubling the movement speed and granting an additional attack to affected characters. Since it has a large area, this ideally will boost the entire party. Like Displacement, Haste has a short duration, but it’s such a potent buff you might as well view it as obligatory - the more characters who can cast it, the better.
A slow level, you’ll pretty much just gain two more 3rd-level arcane spells. Vampiric Touch will combo with Spellstrike, dealing extra damage and allowing you to gain Temporary Hit Points in the same go, while Slow is the opposite of Haste. It’s a potent debuff, but the enemy is entitled to a Will Save, which means this character is not likely to be very successful with it. It does, however, dispel Haste, and is worth considering for that alone.