As the title says, I'm looking for ways to guarantee my Arcanist (currently level 7) goes first in every single encounter. Ways that I figured out already:

And that's all I got so far. I'd love to push my Initiative to at least +20 though.

DISCLAIMER: We play RAW, using all official content.

EDIT: I also have a Cohort that I utilize heavily in combat, Witch. If that brings some options to the table, I'll be happy to use them. Currently my Cohort only serves one main purpose: Save shredding.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Does your group use the Unchained rules? Specifically looking at Combat Stamina's interaction with Improved Initiative. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 4 at 4:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is your staff something other than a quarterstaff? They do not qualify for Dueling. Although I now wish I was still playing Pathfinder 1 to give this weapon to every Dex martial ever. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 4 at 4:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, forgot the name while writing the post: Hanbo is a walking stick but technically qualifies as a staff. It's also Light and thus Finessable. And yes, we do use Unchained rules. And I would love to know what this Combat Stamina interaction is, I never heard of this in my entire life (might be due to the fact I play casters exclusively). \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Commented Feb 4 at 8:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm going to assume your GM is OK'ing the Hanbo is a staff portion. That seems like an easy OK, but questionable enough to check with them \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 4 at 21:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, if you have a cohort as well then Trade Initiative is again viable, though it does cost a feat of yours and a feat of your cohort's. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Feb 6 at 4:08

1 Answer 1



Say goodbye to your 1st level spell slots. Or maybe don't, they can be used for all sorts of other more valuable things. But if you're willing to spend them, Anticipate Peril lasts a few minutes if you know there's a fight soon, and Heightened Awareness lasts an hour or two. On the other end, of course, if you suspect you'll be fighting that noble very shortly you can't go wrong with Silent Still Unprepared Combatant - a penny saved is a penny earned.


If you don't already have a familiar planned out, you can't go wrong with the Greensting Scorpion familiar (or Hare, or Arctic Hare, or Compsognathus) and its +4 Initiative bonus. Better yet, if you don't want to spend the exploit on a familiar, the inimitable Wasp Familiar feat gives an even better scorpion (with some fairly strict requirements).


Tying in with the familiar from earlier, the Trade Initiative feat with the Valet archetype on your familiar to share teamwork feats is worth roughly +5 to initiative, effectively letting you roll initiative twice and take the better one.


If you're willing to put in a bit of money, you can get the cheap Dusty Rose Prism Ioun Stone at just 500 gp - a bargain for +1, if the competence bonus doesn't conflict with anything else! And if you want an expensive consumable, at 450 gp you can get an Elixir of Agility, but that's a bit pricey for just a +2. Alchemical Allocation shenanigans exist, of course, but that takes an alchemist.


You were at about +12 earlier; with all of these implemented you'd be at +27 rolling twice, and your opponents would have -4. But that's a bit much, so with merely a valet greensting familiar, trade initiative, Heightened Awareness, and a Dusty Rose Prism, you'd be up to +21 and rolling twice, for an average roll of about 36. Good enough?

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    \$\begingroup\$ First two spells are amazing. And I can easily make them work for a long time (metamagic x2, spell tinkerer x1.5). Ioun Stone is pretty much free (250 gp to craft) so a fair price for another +1. Swap and Familiar are sadly out of my reach since I already went for Improved Familiar. But thats +8 +4 +5 +1 so a really decent value of +18 already. And all of that possible as soon as I hit level 9 so amazing. Thank you. Just wish there were more options to boost that at higher levels... \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Commented Feb 4 at 2:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ The value of rolling twice is closer to +3.5 than 5 (reddit link, but it was the first one I found the math for; google "Rolling advantage math" for a different link) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 4 at 4:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso Thanks, good to know. Average 3.5ish, but 5ish when the original roll is 50/50 - very useful. Given the arcanist's vast initiative bonus, it'll indeed probably be worth a good bit less. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Feb 4 at 18:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Except Initiative is unique in a way it's never rolled against static value. It's rolled against other rolls so the "target number" is "roll as high as you can no matter what". \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Commented Feb 4 at 19:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I definitely can't beat this answer, but you should add Combat Stamina Feat when their BAB+CON mod is 11 or more, based on their answer to my comment on the question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 4 at 21:40

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