In early 2014, Carl Cramer approached me about developing something called a Prestige Archetype. I had no idea what he meant initially. He described them as follows:
The goal when making these prestige archetypes has been to capture the flavor of the prestige class rather than to make an exact copy of how it would normally be. Attack bonuses, hit dice, class skills, spells, and class features have been unified and spread evenly over levels. This means that most prestige archetypes have their prestige abilities spread over the entire 20 level spread.
Unlike how prestige classes normally work, these archetypes have a few complete class abilities rather than many abilities limited to a low level. In some cases, you get the choice of one of several class abilities rather than stymied versions of all the abilities.
A prestige archetype generally has elements of one or more regular character classes, to represent how prestige prerequisites were met and character development after the prestige class has ended. Sometimes there is more than one class that naturally leads itself to a particular prestige class, which can lead to several different prestige archetypes for different combinations. A few are not built on a regular class, instead expanding the idea behind the prestige class to a full 20 levels.
Now I was originally quite hesitant on the prestige archetype concept when Carl first pitched it to me but he had brought me a number of interesting and successful things in the past so I thought I would take a chance. We launched the line with a subscription, which helped to offset the initial costs a bit. Now there are three volumes, a handful of psionics PAs, and a fourth line in development. But let us just consider what is out first.
The first prestige archetype series focused on the most traditional prestige classes from the 3.X era days. Sometimes, where alternate builds were appropriate there were appropriate two prestige archetypes were created.
Arcane Archer: Arcane archers deal death from afar, winnowing down opponents while their allies rush into hand-to-hand combat. With their capacity to unleash hails of arrows on the enemy, they represent the pinnacle of ranged combat. The arcane archer is a 3/4 BAB character built from a magus/ranger/wizard chassis. They have spellcaster from 0th to 6th level and pull their spells from the wizard spell list. They carry as spellbook and have an archery pool similar to the magus’s arcane pool.
Arcane Trickster: With their mastery of magic, arcane tricksters can make for even more subtle or confounding opponents than standard rogues. Ranged legerdemain enhances their skill as thieves, and their ability to make sneak attacks without flanking or as part of a spell can make arcane tricksters formidable damage-dealers. Arcane tricksters are 3/4 BAB characters built from the rogue/wizard chassis. The arcane trickster in all ways is your dual-class wizard, rogue.
Assassin: Assassins tend to be loners by nature, seeing companions as liabilities at best. Sometimes an assassin’s missions put him in the company of adventurers for long stretches at a time, but few people are comfortable trusting a professional assassin to watch their backs in a fight, and are more likely to let the emotionless killer scout ahead or help prepare ambushes. The assassin is a 3/4 BAB character built from the rogue class. It is a very traditional translation of the original prestige class. If you are looking for an assassin that takes more risks in terms of design Carl also produced the porphyran assassin for Assassins of Porphyra.
Blood Mystic: The blood mystic has a unique palette of powers, and is able to both support her party and control the battlefield. Skimming across such a wide array of abilities forces the blood mystic to make many hard choices, both between what powers to seek in their blood and in how to use those powers. The blood mystic is a 1/2 BAB character build from the oracle and sorcerer to stand as a mystic theurge. It draws spells from both the cleric and the wizard list.
Chronicler: The chronicler’s missions often thrust her into the role of party leader, and adventures typically result from, and revolve around, her endless quests. Other chroniclers find themselves as sidekicks recording the adventures of their own chosen hero and comrades. The chronicler is a 3/4 BAB character built on the bard chassis. They have 0th to 4th level spells drawn from the bard spell list.
Dragon Disciple: With the magic at their disposal, dragon disciples can assume the typical role of a magic-user, hampering the movement of the enemy and hurling damage-dealing spells at their opponents. The dragon disciples’ draconic abilities make these versatile spellcasters even more formidable, as they use their breath, natural weapons, and flight to destroy their foes directly. The dragon disciple is as 3/4 BAB class with an enhanced Hit Dice build off of a magus and and sorcerer chassis. They are a spontaneous caster with spells drawn from the magus spell list.
Duelist: Duelists fight in the forefront alongside fighters, barbarians, and other melee combatants, deftly avoiding the blades of their opponents while expertly targeting their vulnerabilities. Duelists are full BAB bonus characters built off the fighter chassis.
Eldritch Hunter: Eldritch hunters are masters of the wild, alpha predators using both might and magic to establish their dominance. The eldritch hunter is a 3/4 BAB variant of the eldritch knight PRC build with a ranger/sorcerer chassis. Spellcasting is spontaneous using the wizard spell list for 0th to 9th level spells but the spellcasting is slowed in its progression [does not reach 2nd level spells until 6th level). At very high level, they add in ranger spells as well.
Eldritch Knight: Eldritch knights master the abilities of both fighting and magic, hurling magic at the enemy one moment and hewing down their opponents with steel the next. They are just as comfortable in the thick of combat as they are casting spells at foes while remaining safely behind their compatriots. Their versatility makes them valuable allies.
Loremaster: Loremasters’ lives are spent in study, research, and fieldwork. While the first two lend themselves to the loremaster’s reputation as a bookish recluse, the latter oftentimes forces a loremaster to seek out the aid of adventurers who, through a mutually beneficial arrangement, might provide a degree of protection to the scholar while he seeks whatever knowledge he is after. For his part, the loremaster provides a wealth of information and arcane firepower to a party. The loremaster is a 1/2 BAB character built from a wizard chasis. They follow a fairly typical loremaster progression.
Mystic Archer: Mystic archers are superlative support characters, changing from archery to control or buffs and healing at a moment’s notice. The mystic archer is a 3/4 BAB character build from the druid and ranger classes as an alternate form of the arcane archer… more of a divine archer.
Mystic Theurge: The mystic theurge is a powerful component for any party, supplying magic for attack, defense, and healing. Mystic theurges travel the world in search of arcane and holy artifacts, magical lore, or divine revelations, and most have no qualms about teaming up with groups of adventurers so long as that group’s goals do not directly conflict with their own. The mystic theurge is a 1/2 BAB character with a cleric and wizard base. They draw spells from 0th to 9th on both the wizard and cleric lists. They possess the ability (a limited number of times per day to launch two spells as a single action).
Shadow Monk: Shadow monks are scouts extraordinaire but also warriors and mystics, able to shift from one role to another in the blink of an eye. Shadow monks are 3/4 BAB characters built from a monk base. They are one of three shadowdancer variants in the first collection.
Shadow Ranger: Shadow rangers make excellent scouts, as they are not bound to any one terrain and can move from shadow to shadow with impunity. They also make versatile skirmishers. Shadow rangers are full BAB characters built from a ranger base. They are the second of three shadowdancer variants in the first collection.
Shadowdancer: Shadowdancers adventure for a wide variety of reasons. Many adventuring parties find shadowdancers valuable members of their teams due to their incredible stealth and ability to surprise enemies with lightning-quick attacks where they’re least expected. For this reason, their services are often sought out by those groups in need of scouts or spies. Shadowdancers are 3/4 BAB characters built from the ninja alternate class. They are the final shadowdancer variant in the first collection.
(To be continued)…