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Having recently come across this question and subsequently being introduced to the Armorist class I had one inkling I can't shake: Could I finally make a great armor summoner ala Erza?

The mechanics of being able to summon and equip lots of different magical gear is the thing that makes this concept possible. That said, I'd not even looked at Spheres of Power, nor do I really have any desire to ask for it's use.

Which leads to this question. On it's head, the armorist allows almost mirror progression to the Fighter (with a few tweaks here and there). So, how much of a disadvantage would it be to simply strip the magic talents and caster level away from the class, leaving it more comparable in vanilla Pathfinder?

The goal, as with any character I try to create, is not immense power or optimization. I simply want a character that fits within the general structure without feeling too strong or too weak.

Frame challenge answers that explore other options for this character that don't have to use the Armorist class are more than welcome.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Who is this “Erza” that you’re trying to make? It might help answerers. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 26 '18 at 20:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan understood. While not important to the question, I have edited. Better? \$\endgroup\$ – Naryna Apr 26 '18 at 21:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Cool; it might help some answerers. I’m not familiar with the character, but I’ve offered two alternate suggestions to the armorist that might work better than trying to hack the armorist apart (I am not nearly familiar enough with Spheres of Power myself to say, but that seems like a really perilous approach to me). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 26 '18 at 21:18
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Champions of the Spheres includes an armorist archetype called the Martial Armorist, which allows you to trade out magic talents (from Spheres of Power) for martial talents (from Spheres of Might, a talent-based combat system revolving around the attack action) on a one for one basis. With this archetype you can pretty much ignore the magic system aspect of the class (although you will still end up with 2 magic talents/spheres, but you can just ignore them if it really means that much to you) and focus on martial prowess.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Worth noting (at least, assuming I understand correctly): this involves using Spheres of Might instead of Spheres of Power, which may not be desirable for someone looking to avoid a new system. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 26 '18 at 23:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is correct. \$\endgroup\$ – Derfael Oliveira Apr 27 '18 at 0:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it would improve this answer to include that information in the answer itself—comments are inherently ephemeral and everything important should work its way into the question or answer commented on. Also, if you are more familiar with Spheres, you might include your take on the question’s original proposal; suggesting something else might implicitly be recommending against that, but if so, I think it would be better to explicitly do so. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 27 '18 at 3:44
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The Armorist's spellcasting is about half the class's power, and removing it would heavily nerf the class. If you strip it away, the only ability of note that the class gets is saving some money on magic items. (On paper, it also has its armorist tricks, but they're really just there to let you customise the magic item summoning a bit and don't add anything much of their own. They're not in any way comparable to, say, a fighter's bonus feats.)

As it happens, there's a precedent for the power of classes that just give you magic items: the 3.5e Soulknife, widely considered one of the worst classes in the system. When Dreamscarred Press updated the Soulknife to Pathfinder and made it decent, a large part of what they did was giving the class combat abilities besides the magic item itself. Now, this hypothetical Armorist wouldn't be quite as bad as that (he can, at least, summon armour too, and has a bit more choice about what enchantments to give his items) but it would still be very poor.

Fortunately, there's a conversion we can do to see how much the spellcasting is "worth" in terms of first party content. It's a bit rough around the edges, and uses a couple of different mechanics, but it's good enough for a ballpark estimate of what you ought to replace it with.

The Spheres of Might rules (written later, by the same authors) allow you to trade out a Low spellcasting progression like the Armorist's for a Proficient martial talent progression:

Some classes who naturally combine martial prowess with spellcasting, such as the inquisitor, paladin, and ranger, can choose to opt to replace their spellcasting progression with a combat training progression. Classes whose maximum spell level would be 4 (or Low Casters if using Spheres of Power) may exchange their spellcasting for the Proficient combat training progression...

As you can see from the above quote, you can also replace the casting of a 4-level-spellcasting with that same Proficient combat progression. It therefore seems reasonable to replace the Armorist's spellcasting progression with 4-level spellcasting from whichever spell list seems to fit the flavour of the character best. Paladin, perhaps? My gut feeling is that 4-level casting from Paizo is actually a bit weaker than Spheres Low casting so this would still be a bit on the weak side, but it would at least be reasonably playable.

Alternatively, if you don't want to give the class any other magic at all, there's another exchange that we could reverse engineer: instead of giving up their spellcasting, characters can give up their 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th and 17th level bonus feats from character level in return for a Proficient progression, an exchange that's sort of similar to variant multiclassing. Thus, a bonus feat at each of those levels might be a reasonable exchange for the loss of the casting. I'm a bit dubious about that, though, since giving up five of your ten bonus feats hurts a good deal more than gaining 5 extra ones helps you. It might be worth adding a little more on top of that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi pi4t! Replying to questions late is fine, there's even a badge for it. We consider our questions to be timeless: they can always be acted on as if they were asked today, including answering them. I've edited out the apology line from the end of your answer on account of that. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 25 at 17:30
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Disclosure up front: I am going to recommend a class published by Dreamscarred Press, who I have worked for freelance. I did not work on any of the material I am recommending, but I consider those who did friends.

You might consider the aegis instead of the armorist.

While it is no more official than the armorist, the aegis doesn’t involve any magical tricks aside from the magic armor they summon. The aegis gets some power points—the hallmark of a psionic character—but it uses these to customize the astral suit, not to manifest powers. Therefore you don’t need to know about, use, or worry about the overwhelming majority of the psionic rules. Literally the only psionic mechanic you have access to is psionic focus, which you might use if you take some psionic feats, and you have the option of customizing the astral suit to mimic a power stone or to unlock psionics, which would use some more of those rules.

The aegis is a really fun, really versatile class. It probably punches above the fighter’s (relatively poor) weight class, but better classes like alchemists, magi, and warpriests should get along just fine with one. The initiator’s soul customization from Path of War may be somewhat problematic, because Path of War is pretty high-power.

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An armiger’s panoply is an official approach for achieving “summon my armor when I want it,” and in the long run a magic item “costs” a lot less than a bunch of levels. You need to actually have a physical set of the armor within 500 feet, and you can only do it 3 times per day, but 1. those restrictions may not matter very much, and 2. a GM may be willing to consider a more expensive version of the panoply that loosens those restrictions.

Daily charges are the easiest: per the magic item guidelines, a 3/day item costs \$\tfrac{3}{5}\$ what an at-will item does. Multiplying the panoply’s cost by \$\tfrac{5}{3}\$, therefore, achieves a reasonable price for an at-will panoply. \$7\,200\text{ gp} \times \tfrac{5}{3} = 12\,000\text{ gp}\$. The magic item creation guidelines are guidelines, and always subject to GM approval, but as GM I wouldn’t bat an eye at that price.

The distance question is harder, because there isn’t even a guideline for that. But what if we built the sack into an extradimensional space, à la a handy haversack, that was just connected to the bracers? A handy haversack certainly is handy, and offers both more space and convenient retrieval, so it seems like a decent comparison here. Combining two magic items generally costs the more expensive one plus 150% the cost of the less expensive one, so we’d be looking at \$12\,000\text{ gp} + 150\% \times 4\,000\text{ gp} = 18\,000\text{ gp}\$. Now we still have to have the armor itself, but we can store it extradimensionally, and its reachable from anywhere we have the bracers: perfect. The price is iffy-er, but if it were me, I’d consider it too high more than anything else.

Finally, there is the issue of the actual bracers, which you could lose. I generally treat personal boons that mimic magic items but don’t involve an actual item the same as a slotless item, so double the cost. \$2 \times 18\,000\text{ gp} = 36\,000\text{ gp}\$. Some GMs might object there—a slotless item can still be lost, destroyed, or stolen, while this is immune to that—but considering that these prices are already very high for the effect, I consider this a pretty solid number for a conservative estimate of the cost here.

The advantage of using a magic item is that your class levels are completely free to do whatever you want. You can be a fighter—a real one, not an armorist stripped of its most important class features—or whatever else you want that fits. The disadvantage, of course, is that you cannot get something so expensive until 9th or 10th level.

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