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The Viking archetype (People of the North, p. 25) have:

Shield Defense (Ex): Starting at 3rd level, a Viking learns the art of fighting with a shield. Whenever she is wearing medium, light, or no armor and wielding a shield, the Viking's shield bonus to AC increases by 1. Every 4 levels thereafter (7th, 11th, and 15th), this bonus increases by 1. This ability replaces armor training.

I am inclined to believe that it only replaces the armor training gained at 3rd level, not the subsequent levels. My DM disagrees with me.

The basis for my reasoning, is the next ability for the Viking archetype:

Berserker (Ex): At 4th level, a Viking gains the rage ability as the barbarian class feature, but her barbarian level is considered to be her fighter level –3. This ability replaces weapon training 1, 2, 3, and 4.

That ability states it replaces all 4 levels of weapon training, not just the one.


What is correct? Is armor training completely lost for Shield Defense, or is only Armor Training for 3rd level lost?

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This seems to simply be a case of inconsistent wording.

All of the training is lost in place of Shield defense. One of the easier ways to confirm this is to check each level you would normally gain Armor Training, 3rd, 7th, 11th, and 15th. You gain the Shield defense at the same levels.

Also if you scroll to the bottom of the fighter class to the archetype chart, there are Xs and Cs which represent features that are removed in favor of another ability, the 'X', or which are changed, the 'C's. Looking at the Armor training on the chart each of the 4 levels of Armor Training are labeled with Xs on the Viking archtype.

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If no level of the ability is specified, the archetype replaces the ability completely.

The rule for this can be found on the archetype rules:

If an archetype replaces a class feature that has a series of improvements, but it does not list one individual improvement, that class feature replaces the entire class feature and all of its improvements. For example, if a class feature says that it replaces trap sense without mentioning a specific bonus, it replaces all of trap sense.

However, if the archetype replaces only part of a multi-tiered ability, the next time you would learn a new tier of that ability, you learn a lower-level tier instead.

Example: If an archetype replaces weapon training 2, you do not learn it, and when you should learn weapon training 3, you will learn weapon training 2 instead.

This rule first appeared on the Advanced Class Guide, based on community feedback (faq requests), and was later reprinted on the Occult Adventures (page 88) with a few changes:

If a class feature has a series of improvements (such as a fighter’s weapon training or a ranger’s favored enemy), it can be replaced either entirely or partially. By default, an alternate class feature replaces the entire original class feature and all of its improvements. For example, if a class feature states that it replaces trap sense without mentioning a specific bonus, it replaces trap sense entirely.

If an alternate class feature replaces one instance of a class feature that’s part of a series, the next time the character would gain an improvement to that ability, the new improvement counts as the lower-level ability that was replaced by the archetype, and all subsequent improvements follow suit. For example, if the barbarian’s 3rd-level trap sense +1 were replaced, the barbarian would gain trap sense +1 at 6th level, trap sense +2 at 9th level, and so on.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The archetype in the question is from People of the North (2013). You're citing the Advanced Class Guide (2014). Are you certain this rule should apply retroactively? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 6 '17 at 14:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ When the Advanced Players Guide was released, many of the archetypes on it didnt even say which abilities they replaced. This raised many issues were certain archetypes added new abilities to their base classes without replacing anything, this was FAQ'd on the forum and the new clarification about replacing abilities came on new printings. The forum's feedback on the archetype rules prompted the devs to reprint them on the Advanced Class Guide with more clarifications. I see no reason to dismiss the rules on the ACG which comes years after the rules first appearance on the APG. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Mar 6 '17 at 15:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ So the cited rules appeared first in the Advanced Class Guide (that was published after People) then these rules were reprinted in a reprint of the Advanced Player's Guide (the original published before People but the reprint published after People). If I've these rules' provenance correct, there's no opportunity for the author of People to have known of these rules; is that correct? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 6 '17 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ They have yet to be reprinted on the APG, because our current printing is from before ACG. So we won't see an APG with that paragraph until a new printing comes out. Regardless of who wrote the archetype, some developer must have reviewed it for errors, which means that this ability could be written as intended, so it doesn't change how the archetype works, unless we ask the authors about their intent. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Mar 6 '17 at 15:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Anyway, there is at least one topic about people realising about this new clarification on the forums: paizo.com/threads/rzs2rr9w?Oh-look-archetype-clarifications#1 \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Mar 6 '17 at 15:12
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An issue of timing: The original rules…

Pathfinder Player Companion: People of the North (Jan. 2013) presents the fighter archetype viking (24-5) and, so far as I can tell based on the list of references in People of the North's, at the time Ultimate Combat (Aug. 2011) contained the most recent rules for archetypes:

If an archetype replaces a class feature that is part of a series of improvements or additions to a base ability (such as a fighter’s weapon training or a ranger’s favored enemy), the next time the character would gain that ability, it counts as the lower-level ability that was replaced by the archetype. In effect, all abilities in that series are delayed until the next time the class improves that ability. (23)

(This information—identical but unsourced—is on d20PFSRD in the section on Class Archetypes on Archetype "Stacking.")

Given the differences in the archetype's class features' presentations and because the fighter archetype viking doesn't specify otherwise, it appears that viking archetype's extraordinary ability shield defense should, based on the rules available at the time, only delay the viking fighter's first iteration of the extraordinary ability armor training until level 7 (and the second iteration until level 11 and the third until level 15).

That is, contrast the extraordinary ability shield defense with the extraordinary ability berserker that seems to outright annihilate the fighter's weapon training at levels 5, 9, 13, and 17. (Presumably that's what's meant when the special ability berserker description says weapon training 1, 2, 3, and 4.)

...And the newer rules…

However, the Advanced Class Guide (Aug. 2014)—the earliest mention of the following rules I could find—, includes the above rules also includes the following:

If an archetype replaces a class feature that has a series of improvements, but it does not list one individual improvement, that class feature replaces the entire class feature and all of its improvements. For example, if a class feature says that it replaces trap sense without mentioning a specific bonus, it replaces all of trap sense. (74)

(This information—identical and sourced to the Advanced Class Guide—appears on d20PFSRD under the heading Hybrid Class on Selecting Archetypes for each class's archetypes, such as the shaman's archetypes.)

Thus, if the above rules are applied retroactively to the viking archetype's class features, the viking archetype's extraordinary ability shield defense indeed does completely replace the entirety of the fighter's extraordinary ability armor training (and, not inconsequentially, makes the note weapon training 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the viking's extraordinary ability berserker all the more superfluous).

"Why didn't Paizo issue errata for the viking archetype?"

Paizo policy is not to issue errata for its smaller works. All of the big, high-volume books are subject to errata when reprinted, but the littler books often never get reprinted, so there's no need to look at them again. Once such a smaller book's sold, the consumer's pretty much on his own. (This factoid's mentioned several times with a quick search of Paizo's site.) A list of texts with errata as of 2016—listing People of the North as having received none—is available here.

Note that the d20PFSRD's table of fighter Archetypes and Alternative Class Features applies these later rules retroactively, having the shield defense replace armor training throughout the viking fighter's career. But also note that the d20PFSRD's table is third-party rather than official material, compiled (and, in this case, interpreted) by folks reading the same material we are.

...And what this GM would do to resolve the issue

This GM would go with the more generous reading, granting the viking fighter the shield defense ability at level 3 and the armor training ability at levels 7, 11, and 15. The extraordinary ability armor training is a tiny bit of help when the fighter needs so much more, and it won't be until level 11 (when a wizard's been casting for 2 levels teleport) that the fighter can take instead advanced armor training. A strict GM that nonetheless allows the viking to have both shield defense and armor training might likewise eliminate the ability of the viking to take any advanced armor training (the Armor Master's Handbook being unavailable when the viking archetype was published), but this player would argue that being a fighter is already difficult, and opening up to the viking a few such special abilities aren't going to break the game.

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