One of the first decisions you have to make when creating a role-playing character is determining what class you want to play as. Your character’s class can determine their skills, profession, and even elements of their personality.
Although classes follow certain tropes and archetypes, there’s still room for nearly infinite customization within each class. Players who want to create combat-heavy characters have a wealth of choices within the Pathfinder system. Take a look at these 10 deadliest classes, ranked from least to most powerful. Perhaps your next character will be a combat-heavy wizard, or even a torture specializing inquisitor.
Updated by Kristy Ambrose on February 7th, 2021: The demand for tabletop RPG continues to grow in these times that emphasize indoor activities, and RPG games of all genres and types are rapidly expanding. Pathfinder is one example, retaining its popularity by offering players a wider variety of classes than other RPG systems. To reflect the impressive amount of choices available, we’ve added a few more of the deadliest ones to our list.
Rogues have always been valued for their skills in the dungeon but they’re a heavy-hitting combat class too. Able to silently sneak up on unsuspecting foes, rogues can eliminate enemies in close combat. A high-level rogue deals an incredible 10d6 damage with their sneak attack. Combining that kind of damage output with the skills needed to successfully navigate a variety of adventuring scenarios makes the rogue a well-oiled killing machine.
A spellcasting class that relies heavily on intellect, the Witch has to study and learn magical spells as the Wizard does. What makes the Witch unique is the Hex ability along with a wide variety of spells to choose from, making this an ideal choice for a versatile spellcaster who wants to do heavy damage but also wants options beyond spellcasting. Hexes are innate abilities as opposed to spellcasting, giving your character a lot of options beyond an already impressive repertoire of spells.
When facing an evil foe there are fewer classes more deadly than a Paladin. These mighty melee warriors are imbued with the power of the divine. Nothing is stronger than a fighter with the power of a god on their side. Though they stand on the side of good, they will not back down from confrontation if they feel their values are being challenged.
Paladins also possess the ability to smite evil. The power of their chosen deity rains down upon a chosen enemy, regardless of that enemy’s strength. As the Paladin increases in level, they gain the ability to smite multiple times per day making them an unstoppable force of good.
The Alchemist is more than just a mad scientist. He’s an explosive lobbing death machine that commands respect. If you’d like to play a character fascinated by scientific discovery and driven by madness, look no further.
The Alchemist supports their party with a variety of concoctions and, as if that wasn’t enough, they can also enhance their body with mutagens at high levels.
An ideal choice if you’re looking for melee combat without the magical angle, the Swashbuckler has class features like Finesse and Weapon Training. Dexterity is their primary ability and it can also apply to damage under certain circumstances.
It’s not just a damage class either, as using certain feats can also make it ideal for Defense. The Swashbuckler also gets access to a selection of Deeds, similar to the Gunslinger, along with the ability to use Feats that are usually limited to Fighters.
Many spellcaster classes are automatically thought of as melee support. Doing so underestimates the ability of a well-trained Wizard proficient with combat spells.
Even the wizard’s lower power spells, like Magic Missile, can be extremely helpful. For example, some spells have no chance of missing their target. This guaranteed damage can be a game-changer in some combat situations.
A wizard with great knowledge of monsters can also summon an exact replica of any beast that he’s familiar with.
A Druid cannot only control the plants and Earth around them but they also form deep connections with animals. When they can’t rely on their own strength in battle, they call to their beast brethren. Having fangs and claws at their disposal makes them a powerful force to be reckoned with.
Spellcasting is a key component of the druid class. Depending on which school a character chooses, a Druid has many powerful and deadly spells at their disposal.
Fans of those historic shows featuring Vikings will appreciate this class. The Skald is also great for those that like the Bard but want to play a class with more emphasis on combat. The combat abilities of the Skald are based on Barbarian mechanics as opposed to other melee classes like Fighters, which presents some compelling RP possibilities along with making them one of the most versatile classes when it comes to taking on different party roles.
Sorcerers are incredibly powerful magic users. They are a diverse character class with many backgrounds and abilities, giving a player almost limitless creative power.
Sorcerers can conjure and cast unimaginable horrors. Some sorcerers can transform themselves into a disgusting hag, while others can sprout leathery wings and fly during battle. They also have the ability to imbue weapons with black adder venom. That kind of unbridled vicious power makes the sorcerer a formidable foe.
There are few combat forces quite like a barbarian. Their innate rage makes them a virtually unstoppable force. It’s not uncommon to see a Barbarian confidently take on an opponent that seems far superior in strength and power.
The barbarian’s primal rage also makes this class a fearless warrior and their incredible anger increases their strength and power in battle. Facing an enraged Barbarian is a terrifying fight, from which there is little hope of escape.
This is a wild fighter who can also cast spells, and it’s as dangerous as it sounds. The Bloodrager borrows abilities from both the Sorcerer and the Barbarian, which means the spellcasting abilities they have are intuitive as opposed to learned and the combat skills cover a lot of ground when it comes to different weapons. An ironic twist means that they have bonuses to both Strength and Charisma, but the latter only needs to be 14 for your spellcasting. The combination of savage close-combat and spellcasting makes for a deadly character.
Any character can be deadly with the right weapon. The brawler’s versatility comes from their ability to be deadly even while unarmed. A large high-level brawler can deal d8 damage with their fists alone.
Brawlers also possess the devastating ability to deliver a blow capable of rendering almost any target unconscious. High-level brawlers have an ability known as awesome blow, which allows the brawler to send their enemy flying 10 feet in the direction of their choice after they’ve landed a punch. At level 20 this ability becomes even more powerful.
You could argue that the Warpriest is the next stage of evolution of the Paladin class. A Warpriest draws power from a divine being. However, they are not pigeonholed into the role of faithful defender of good. A Warpriest can be as evil as they come.
This class is just as formidable as a paladin but with further enhancements. There are several archetypes players can use to build these characters. They can become the leader of a formidable army, an expert in combat and leadership, and an opponent that demands respect.
The Slayer is a combination of the Rogue and Ranger. That means it’s one of the most versatile classes to play when it comes to roles and races and it’s also one of the deadliest when it comes to the amount of sheer damage they can deal out. That’s without any magical abilities, either.
Slayer talents even include both Rogue and Ranger abilities. One disadvantage of this is that it’s a difficult class to pin down when it comes to character development and role-play, but the depth of development is worth it.
The Inquisitor is yet another Pathfinder class that is fueled by religious fervor. It seems that in the Paladin universe, faith is a deadly weapon.
The Inquisitor is a deft and capable warrior, able to call down literal divine fire upon its foes. They exist for one thing and one thing alone, to suss out the enemies of its faith and vanquish them with the fury of their deity.
Inquisitors can also specialize their characters by choosing a specific inquisition. With focuses on skills like torture vengeance and righteous fury, these inquisition’s make this class incredibly dangerous.
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Danyell Marshall is an adventurer. She lives in a converted school bus and travels the US with her partner and two sons. She’s held baby wallabies, hiked the grand canyon, swam with sea turtles, and lived in 34 states. Danyell has been an assistant to the stars, STEM educator and freelance writer for over 5 years.
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