I am trying to develop a character who will be able to compete on even footing with Spell-casters by focusing on a high TAC (and possibly Damage-Per-Round) to compete in an arena setting, while not being useless vs melee-characters. All fights will be vs other player characters.

The reason I want to focus on a DEX character, as I wanted to for build simplicity focus on one stat over any other. I will of course have a few points left over from point buy, as discussed further.

I have the following details to create my character with

  • Character starts at level 5, with standard WBL of 10,000gp.

  • We are using a 25 point buy, but I'm not able to dump any existing stats for extra points. My current Set up is 18 Dex, 16 Int, and 11 Con.

  • Source books: Any Paizo material is allowed from D20PFSRD. No 3rd party content is available.

I don't have any other hard requirements for this character.

I am not looking for an A-Z build of Do this, this and this. What I would like in an answer is a place to start. A class/classes, race, stat, item and feat suggestion to build a character from. While suggestions on versing spellcasters will be welcome as this character is going to be fighting quite a lot of them, I still wish to be viable in melee combat as well if possible.


3 Answers 3


Okay once again not much of a pathfinder player, but dexterity it is then.

“My character knows where he is but I don’t.”

(dex/cha with minimum 13 int)

The character is a Catfolk (see racial notes) Rogue. Take the Clever Cat alternative racial (for the +2 bluff), take the rogue talent Without a Trace, get the Improved Feint Feat, an enchanted Longbow with Fog Cloud (your location) and put skills points into bluff and stealth. Nothing about Feint says it has to be in melee so this is your turn.

  1. Use your move action to feint (bluff check) by firing an arrow. This will create a fog cloud. Line of Sight is now gone.
  2. Since you made a bluff check and created an area of total concealment now you can make a hide check under the diversion rule. Any reasonable DM will see that this combination of effects is exactly what a feint is by definition, but even a purist should allow you to exchange the Feint effect for the stealth check.

    Diversion Rule: “You can use Bluff to allow you to use Stealth. A successful Bluff check can give you the momentary diversion you need to attempt a Stealth check while people are aware of you.”

  3. Now take your DM aside and ask them not to reveal what comes next since the other players can destroy you with this information, and they cannot see you anyway.

  4. Use your standard action to take a readied action against their attack, or spell casting as the case may be. Total concealment only gives a 50% miss chance and this also applies to range touch attack spells so this is really a very good tradeoff for you. Also your attacks that hit will be sneak attacks. (if for whatever reason you don't have a standard action on any turn simply skip this step.)
  5. Don’t let the GM get away yet. Lastly use your 5ft step… but don’t choose a direction since you are hidden. If your DM insists on one ask him to role a d8 but not to look at the result until after the other players turn. If your opponent somehow interacts with a square just roll a d8 to determine if you are in that location. At the end of their turn you must roll to determine where your character is.
  6. Before returning to the table ask your DM not to move your piece on the table. When you return to the table leave your piece where it is and do nothing to indicate your character has moved or is even hidden.
  7. Let the mind games commence!

Racial Notes: If you want to use Halfling instead of Catfolk then take either Shiftless or Swift as Shadows alternative racial, but then you have to use a shortbow or crossbow. Human is also just fine for this build. A Ratfolk with the Burrowing Teeth feat would make your hidden 5ft step absolutely incredible, and since the cloud lasts your opponent will think you are still inside the cloud somewhere.

Other Devilish Equipment: The Pharmaceuticals Hype (optional it depends on if the DM agrees it prevents spell casting), Vive (intelligence and wisdom damage), Zortaphen (expensive! But instant 1 shot knock out for most casters on a failed save). The poisons Drow Poison (cheap knock out! Yes please and now for the Coup De Grace), Black Adder Venom (cheap repeating constitution damage).

Attributes (I recommend that your level 4 bonus be in dexterity)

  1. Dex 16, Int 14, Cha 16
  2. Dex 16, Con 14, Int 14, Cha 14
  3. Dex 18, Int 13, Cha 14 (I'm not much of a fan of this last one, that 18 is expensive! Attributes of 18 in point buy are like a lode stone tied around the characters neck.)
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Do you intend to answer twice, or did you want to edit your other answer? \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 15:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ the questioner was not interested in my first answer so I made a new one... and for some reason it is under a different profile? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ian Scott
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 15:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, you've accidentally created two profiles: 1, 2. (It's an easy thing to do accidentally because of how login works on Stack Exchange.) You can have them merged by following these instructions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 16:30
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I guess I'm among the densest purists. While the GM can rule any way he wants, I would, were I a player, expect a feint to do what a feint says it does and expect that Create Diversion to Hide does what Create Diversion to Hide does. I'm not reading the two as remotely related. (A noble attempt, though.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 16:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ the Feint is just a way into stealth for this character. It is not to increase your to hit ratio. Feint: "a movement made in order to deceive an adversary; an attack aimed at one place or point merely as a distraction from the real place or point of attack" This sounds exactly like what is described in the stealth section. "The real place" you are distracting from is where you will hide. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ian Scott
    Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 0:25

I irregularly play or DM D&D and have played Pathfinder only a few times. So I will try to answer the question as best I can. First off your main concern seems to be how to defeat casters as a non-caster class. While the best method of defeating non-casters is to improve yourself the best way to compete with casters is to focus less on yourself and more on the weaknesses of magic.

  1. Line of Sight. Many spells require a defined target or they cannot be cast. Range touch attack spells can be fired blind but at terrible negatives. But even most range touch attacks can be blocked by interceding objects. Anything that will break line of sight, especially as the spell is being cast, will cause most spells to be utterly wasted. The sudden surprise of losing line of sight may trigger a concentration check on ranged touch attack spells, and spells that require line of sight as a characteristic of their function will automatically fail and the spell slot will be wasted.

    “Spell Failure: If you ever try to cast a spell in conditions where the characteristics of the spell cannot be made to conform, the casting fails and the spell is wasted…”

  2. Counter spelling as a non-caster. As a non-caster you cannot actually counter a spell in the traditional sense; however you will generally have better initiative than your opponent. This is especially true of dexterity focused builds. Therefore utilizing the ready action system a non-caster can ready an action to attack or even charge (if you forgo movement) a spell caster who attempts to start casting a spell. A spell caster who is hit while attempting to cast a spell is subject to a difficult concentration check which you can worsen through damage (DC 10 + Damage + Spell’s level). The best of all these worlds is a bull rush as it requires two concentration checks. The first check is for the damage and the second check is for violent motion (DC20 + Spell’s level, may still cause a DC15 + Spell’s level even on a miss because of all the motion). This can be just as effective if your DM deems multiple concentration checks to be unfair and instead combines them because then it is a DC 20+ Damage + Spell’s level. This concentration check can easily be outside of the means of your opponent.

    “How Counterspells Work… You do this by choosing to ready an action. In doing so, you select to wait to complete your action until your opponent tries to cast a spell. You may still move at your normal speed, since ready is a standard action…” and “Injury: If you take damage while trying to cast a spell, you must make a concentration check with a DC equal to 10 + the damage taken + the level of the spell you're casting. If you fail the check, you lose the spell without effect. The interrupting event strikes during spellcasting if it comes between the time you started and the time you complete a spell (for a spell with a casting time of 1 full round or more) or if it comes in response to your casting the spell (such as an attack of opportunity provoked by the spell or a contingent attack, such as a readied action)…”

  3. This may sound like a bit of a stretch but smoke is an environmental effect. Environmental effects are generally handled the same as violent weather for the purposes of spells, but smoke is much stronger. As you are moving you should make use of a number of individual bags filled with smoke bombs (or the Pathfinder equivalent). An open bag that has been dumped at the end of the charge will create a cloud of smoke that spreads to adjacent squares. If the spell caster is within this area they must make a concentration check to cast a spell. Additionally the only spell they will be able to cast are spells that do not require line of sight such as most ranged touch attacks. This second condition is because the line of sight must be unbroken to meet the conditions of line of sight spells. Smoke breaks line of sight and when inhaled can be a serious detriment to spellcasting, because smoke causes a character to cough which will prevent any verbal component of a spell from being properly spoken. This can be taken further dependent on the amount of gold available. You may be able to get smoke laced with drugs that induce rage or other similar effects that are considered a buff to melee characters but prevent any kind of spellcasting. Remember that the more bombs that are dropped in the arena the more area that will be denied to the caster for several turns until the smoke finally stops poring out and can be dispersed. The more bombs the slower the dispersion as well.

  4. In addition to stacking multiple effects upon your opponent that require concentration checks you must also completely avoid the possibility of a spell from hitting you. The amount of damage that you are describing the spell casters capable of will make it absolutely necessary to be able to close the distance between yourself and the caster. Additionally you must be absolutely certain that your own attacks always hit. This means that the feats like Uncanny Concentration will make your own attacks the best defense you have to prevent spells from being cast. To this end acquiring a weapon that can cast the first level spell true strike (unless it is banned), acquiring a simple mechanical non-magic device that drops one or two smoke grenades on the ground every time you stop running, and acquiring either boots or a feat that improves your run and charge speeds would be excellent additions to your armory.

  5. Another option that is available to you is entanglement. It can be difficult to build a grappler at low levels however, such a character can completely shut down spell casters. It is well-known that a concentration check is necessary when entangled, however what is more important to you is that a readied action can still be taken. This means that you can ready an action to deal damage to your opponent when the attempt to cast a spell. Furthermore I highly recommend acquiring a glove soaked in a Chloroform equivalent. If as your readied action or just as a normal part of the grapple you stick this glove into their nostrils or mouth and hold it there. Try concentrating though that! I’ll be impressed if they stay conscious.

  6. Additionally a really simple, but kind of expensive, way to prevent magic is to acquire a magic item, or a potable trap (this is golden if it automatically resets), that can cast dispel magic. Set the trap or item trigger to “Whenever a creature in range tries to cast a spell.” And watch as your opponent tries to figure out what just happened. If at all possible don't tell the other players what is going on and ask the DM in private to require a standard action knowledge check to know the nature of the effect you used. The longer you can milk this the more dead your opponents. A similar device set to magic item activation can also be very nice. The best part is that you needn’t do anything and can still use all your actions to kick butt.

    Sense Magic (level 0): Costs 500 x (caster level) x (minimum 1)? Dispel Magic (level 3): Cost 500 x (caster level) x 3. Automatically Resetting Dispel Magic Trap: Can detect spells being cast and spells already present up to 60ft away and dispel them. Cost: 10,000gp (fifth level caster) Dispel Check: d20+5 vs 11+opponent’s caster level

  7. An odd choice would be a race with a natural dig speed. Very few players prepare themselves to locate underground opponents. It can get better if you can start the fight underground. First ask your GM if you can start floating 5ft off the ground. If he says okay then ask him to change it to 5ft underground and explain that you have a dig speed. Use tremor sense to locate your opponent and pull them down. bury them and dig yourself out. Unless your opponent also has a dig speed they will be trapped unable to move and unable to either use somatic or verbal components, much less reach their spell component bag. So unless your opponent has some form of permanent flight you have got a distinct advantage. take trap crafting to build pit traps only you can see. If they try to dig after you just use tremor sense to avoid them.

I hope you have a blast and try to knock them dead. Seriously if they arn't dead they can still cast.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Just to clarify some of your points, dig speed means tunnels collapse after you pass through them, so no tunnel network. Also ranged touch attacks are either rays, which can be fired blind and are subject to concealment (such as smoke), or non-rays, which have to have LoS and arn't affected by concealment. Also, a ranger with arrow spec can do your spell disrupting attacks from ranged. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 23:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good to know so dig would be good to deny LoS, but not for what my group calls tunnel madness. I'm no expert on the system, but I'm glad some of this works. Okay non-ray will not be castable because of LoS issues, but ray spells can be cast at negatives. Can't missile weapons like bows and arrows be stopped by a simple shield spell? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ian Scott
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 23:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Shield gives +4 AC and blocks Magic Missile (the spell) attacks. Ranged attacks will still work (albiet with the +4 to AC). \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 23:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Definitely some amazing answers on how any Melee combatant can be viable vs spell-casters. Doesn't really offer anything on direction towards a DEX based build, so +0. Thanks though! \$\endgroup\$
    – Nyoze
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 4:20

(I see that this is an old question and this probably no longer applies to OP; this answer is primarily for anyone else interested in the question)

Look into Inspired Blade Swashbuckler.

The Swashbuckler is a dominant melee class which has access to Fighter Feats. It's Inspired Blade archetype is a rapier-focused build that provides benefits for Intelligence investment and further increases melee dominance. You also receive Weapon Finesse and Weapon Focus with Rapiers at level one, allowing you to immediately benefit from Single Ability Dependence.

Key Feats:

Key Equipment (not counting "Big 6"):


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