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I have been running Pathfinder for various groups for many years, so character creation is fairly simple for me.

However, one of my players and I have locked horns over something which to me seems very simple, but to him also seems very simple, and the rules are written in such a way that I can't find a way to refute what he is saying, even though in my head I am certain he is wrong.

Situation:

My player wants to create a Rogue using the Scout and Skulking Slayer archetypes.

He has checked the archetypes do not clash on what they replace in the Rogue basic class.

He wants to take Varying levels of Scout and Skulking slayer, but he believes that he can take Skulking Slayer from levels 1-3, then take the 4th level of Scout at 4th level, without having to take the first 3 levels of Scout, as if these archetypes hang off the rogue tree and he can cherry pick levels as he sees fit.

As far as I understand archetypes, each archetype is a whole new class (effectively), so in order to gain the 4th level in Scout you have to buy levels 1-3 in Scout, as if they were a separate class from Skulking Slayer.

Have I got the wrong end of the stick, or is my player misreading the rules?

Thanks.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Take the tour. An interesting first question that touches on a confusing and difficult-to-grasp section of the often opaque and weird Pathfinder rules. Thank you for your participation and for asking questions certainly others have puzzled over in silence. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 26 '15 at 11:05
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Picking one archetype grants that one archetype's features; picking more than one compatible archetype grants all archetypes' features

Archetypes are picked when a character first takes a level in the class and persist throughout the character's career, forever altering that class for that character (barring, for example, retraining).

When a character picks an archetype, he gains that archetype's special abilities whenever he gains a level in that class. If the character picked for a class more than one compatible archetype (i.e. the two or more picked archetypes lack features that each replaces), he gains the special abilities of all picked archetypes for that class.

The section Archetypes on Alternate Class Feature says that

When an archetype includes multiple alternate class features, a character must take them all—often blocking the character from ever gaining certain standard class features, but replacing them with other options. All other class features of the base class that aren't mentioned among the alternate class features remain unchanged and are acquired normally when the character reaches the appropriate level, unless noted otherwise. A character who takes an alternate class feature does not count as having the class feature that was replaced for the purposes of meeting any requirements or prerequisites.

A character can take more than one archetype and garner additional alternate class features, but none of the alternate class features can replace or alter the same class feature from the base class as another alternate class feature. For example, a fighter could not be both an armor master and a brawler, since both archetypes replace the weapon training 1 class feature with something different.

Emphasis mine. When combining archetypes, there's no other option but to use these rules. There's no way to take, for example, levels in skulking slayer rogue then levels in scout rogue; instead, a creature takes levels in scout skulking slayer rogue, getting each archetype's benefits and drawbacks.

This situation in particular

Hence, on becoming a level 4 rogue, a half-orc rogue who had picked the archetypes scout and skulking slayer would have the following from the skulking slayer archetype:

  • The altered class skills and adjustment to skill ranks.
  • The altered weapon and armor proficiency.
  • The special ability pass for human.
  • The special ability underhanded maneuvers.
  • The special ability bonus feats, allowing the selection of the Surprise Follow-Through feat in place of a rogue talent.
  • The special ability bold strike.

And would also have the following from the scout archetype:

  • The special ability scout’s charge.

At each level of rogue such a character doesn't pick which archetype applies; instead, each archetype applies automatically.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ooh, I think I finally got how it works thanks to you ! \$\endgroup\$ – Nigralbus May 26 '15 at 12:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nigralbus You're welcome. By the way, this thread is a fantastic resource for archetype combining. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 26 '15 at 12:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much for this, I couldn't wrap my head around archetypes because I saw them as distinct classes, not something which simply modified a base class. I'll have to take a deeper look at archetypes going forward. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Woodhead May 26 '15 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was just about to link that thread, good thing I checked the sub comments first \$\endgroup\$ – DanceSC May 26 '15 at 22:01
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The archetypes of a class are all one class

You do not have levels in scout-rogue and levels in skulking-slayer-rogue, you just have levels in rogue. That rogue class may be modified by the scout archetype and the skulking slayer archetype, if they are compatible (don’t both modify or remove the same core rogue class feature), but it is still one class.

So not only can you level both scout and skulking slayer at the same time, you must. You are not allowed to multiclass between different archetypes of the same class; you have to just take that class, modified by both archetypes.

Detailed example progression: Rogue 9 with scout and skulking slayer archetypes

At 1st level, the rogue gains Pass for Human and Underhanded Maneuvers, as well as the changes to the skill list, skill points, and weapon proficiencies. At 2nd, there is the new option for Bonus Feats, and 3rd there is Bold Strike. All of these come from skulking slayer; scout makes no changes at these levels.

At 4th, skulking slayer makes no changes to the rogue class, but scout now does, granting Scout’s Charge. After this point, there is a bit of alternation: 6th gets Shifty from skulking slayer, 8th gets Skirmisher from scout, 9th gets Unexpected Charge from skulking slayer. Note that alternating is not actually required to combine archetypes; you can take two archetypes that modify things in the same level, provided they are modifying different things in that level.

And all the while, the character is still leveling in the rogue class. Thus, they are still gaining all those class features that neither scout nor skulking slayer are changing, such as Sneak Attack, which by 9th level is up to +5d6.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This makes it sound a bit like you can only combine archetypes if they do not both modify something on the same level, but archetype stacking only talks about not exchanging the same feature, regardless of level. Celebrity Geisha Bards are possible, even though both archetypes swap something at first level. \$\endgroup\$ – MrLemon May 26 '15 at 15:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MrLemon That’s just a coincidence of the archetypes chosen, and I did define compatibility based on feature, not level, earlier in the answer, but I’ve added a clarification just to make sure no one is confused. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 26 '15 at 15:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I figured that. But I don't want OP to get any wrong ideas about this just because the example doesn't serve to show everything. \$\endgroup\$ – MrLemon May 26 '15 at 15:56

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