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I tend to min/max slightly and outshine my fellow players so in the next campaign I decided to play a support role who buffs the other players to avoid this and help my fellow players shine.

My aim is to be a buffer first and foremost with little to no healing required as part of this role.

Due to an optional magic system, Spheres of Power, class spell lists are not as important as class abilities that offer buffing or increase the potency of spells that buff.

Is there a class that is noticeably ahead of others when it comes to buffing? Or are the various classes situational and there is not a best class?

The party makeup is currently a blaster wizard and an unknown GM PC (He almost always plays a melee class though)

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Fullcaster

Cleric, druid, or wizard gets you the highest-level spells the soonest; since spells are the best way to buff anyone, these are the best classes for buffing. Arcanists are so absurdly overpowered that they can be a solid choice despite falling a level behind at 3rd; sorcerers with paragon surge can also do a decent job.

Clerics have the best non-spellcasting stats and features, between armor, HP, saves, and the options that Domains present. Druids are much more about self-buffing, and without exclusive access to their spell list, wizards seem a little lackluster.

On the other hand, the arcanist’s ability to switch up their (otherwise spontaneous) spells every day means that 50% of the time, you’ll have a massive improvement in your spellcasting.

For the purposes of buffing, arcanist and cleric are similar.

Bard

Because it deserves to be said: the bard’s probably the only class that has non-spellcasting buffing that’s worth considering. Unfortunately, Pathfinder nerfed the bard pretty significantly (partially by limiting how much music they can actually play, but mostly just by not reprinting various supplement options that the bard enjoyed in 3.5), and being 50% behind on spells is just not worth it unless you don’t plan on leaving low levels – though before 5th, the bard is comparable to a fullcaster and gets music, which is very nice for those levels.

Still, if you tend to optimize more than your table, bards are awesome, and can be very effective if built well. If the goal here is to avoid overshadowing your teammates, choosing the bard could be perfect. Their music is still a quite-solid buff, after all, and their spellcasting definitely doesn’t suck or anything.

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Bard

I'm currently a Bard in our Pathfinder game. My first Bard, my first Pathfinder game, and it seems like a solid source of support and buffs. Using the Master Performer and Grand Master Performer Faction Feats has my level 12 Bard providing +5 bonuses with his Inspire Courage. He has 31 rounds of Bardic Music per day, so this buff is almost constant. Activating it as a move action and Haste or Good Hope with a standard is almost enough to decide the battles before they've begun.

With Versatile Performer and a few maxed out Perform skills, in conjunction with magical items boosting both Charisma (Headband of Alluring Charisma) and Charisma-based skills (Circlet of Persuasion), coupled with a few Traits (Savant, for example), your Bluff/Diplomacy/Sense Motive/Disguise/Acrobatics can easily go through the roof, gearing your character for Skills-based situations, as well.

With access to Summon Monster spells, later standard actions can be used to supplement the party's numbers, and these summons benefit from Inspire Courage as well, leading to some absolutely terrifying Lantern Archons or Celestial Leopards.

The only tradeoff is that in a game with heavy amounts of social interaction, you will steal the spotlight if Diplomacy, Sense Motive, or anything keying off your Versatile Performer is called upon.

All in all, though, it's a solid option for a buffer class, and great fun. There are a lot of interesting archetypes, but I went with the base class, myself. The Evangelist prestige class is a solid option for consideration, as well. It gives some variety to your character, without slowing his or her progress in any significant manner.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Additionally, if you're looking to really Munchkin this out, an end goal of Cavalier 1/Bard 4/Battle Herald 10/Evangelist 5 with the Master Performer and Grand Master Performer Feats should (if my math is right) max your Inspire Courage at +8 and give you a ridiculous amount of Skill versatility. I suppose with the right theme and idea, this could be an interesting character, but it's going to be pretty obvious why you're REALLY using it. \$\endgroup\$ – Eiketsu Dec 1 '14 at 21:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget the Bardic masterpieces - Some are pretty useless, but you can pick and choose, and The House of the Imaginary Walls can be really useful. \$\endgroup\$ – Bobson Dec 1 '14 at 22:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ There were a few that caught my attention. Legato Piece of the Infernal Bargain, for starters, but my DM decided to house-rule-nerf it before I ever got to use it. There were a couple others that seemed interesting, but none I can recommend out of hand just yet. \$\endgroup\$ – Eiketsu Dec 2 '14 at 2:57
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Witch

The witch is a great buffer/debuffer with their hex class ability. I played a Vudran witch all through Carrion Crown and fortune/misfortune were my bread and butter. It's more effective to debuff than to buff, but you can do both... And to your party, making the bad guy reroll every single to-hit roll they make, and giving your allied spellcasters two bites at each save-or-die, is perceived as quite a buff to them! Between fortune, misfortune, the ill omen spell, and evil eye, I seldom ran out of things to do before we ran out of rounds of combat. My specific build and session summaries are on our Carrion Crown campaign page - at level 14 it was a DC27 save vs her misfortune hex. (I deliberately didn't use Slumber hex as my primary because that's just too broken and I too wanted to play support more than primary.)

Oracle

In our games, no one plays clerics any more, they play oracles. Spontaneous clerical casting, plus cool powers from the oracle mysteries. Life mystery is popular, as you can get a revelation that lets you swift-action healing spells by spending 2 slots. Each mystery has a variety of revelations to choose from. The gnome oracle in our Jade Regent campaign had the Moonlight Bridge revelation (Heavens mystery) and we've regretted not having it in every campaign since. The oracle healer in our current Wrath of the Righteous campaign (Tabregon, see here for stats) has more healing than we can use, in fact. "Who needs healing this round?!?" "You already topped us all off man, do something else..."

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