Wrath of the Righteous is based on Pathfinder 1e, a tabletop game with a long history. Pathfinder allows for incredibly elaborate character building, but that long history means that some of the choices available are just plain better than others.
Each suggestion in this guide is rated with 👍👍 or 👍.
- 👍👍 means that this is such a no-brainer pick that, unless you’re an experienced player doing something with a build that specifically requires some aspect of the original class, you should always take it.
- 👍 means that this will generally make for a better experience for an inexperienced player, but that some aspects are a sidegrade or play differently than the original pick, so you should look at both before going with it.
For a gnome, if you’re not specifically taking the Pyromaniac Heritage already, you should always take the Traveler heritage (👍👍). All the most important enemies in this game are going to be of the Outsider type, not Reptilian Humanoids or Giants, so there’s no reason to keep those specific bonuses when you could get always-applicable speed and Lore bonuses instead.
Instead of a baseline Arcanist, play a Wizard with the Exploiter Wizard archetype (👍). This lets you cherry-pick all the best stuff from Arcanist, while still getting the Wizard’s faster spell progression and more spells per day. The only reason to stick to baseline Arcanist itself is if you specifically want to use its unique spell preparation style, where you can pick a new set of spells each day that you then cast like a sorcerer (but in the long run, you can get access to a broad array of spells on any class via scrolls and wands, so it’s less useful than it sounds).
Instead of a baseline Barbarian, play a Bloodrager with the Primalist archetype (👍👍). This selection performs as well as a Barbarian in combat, gets to cherry-pick the best Barbarian rage powers, and gets all the extra free stuff that Bloodrager has on top of that, including spellcasting (4/9). Don’t feel like actually casting spells? Just grab the Arcane bloodline, which automatically gives you powerful buff spell effects every time you rage without needing to cast them and gives you anti-caster bonus feats.
Cavalier is especially bad. It gets very, very few abilities compared to almost any other class (even the other ones I recommend to switch out in this very guide), and the abilities it does get are generally either weak or extremely limited use. The only thing it’s very good at is mounted charging in combat, but mounted charging is already good enough in general that the extra charge benefits from Cavalier specifically are usually overkill and not worth centering a build around.
Instead of a baseline Cavalier, play one of these:
- Hunter, and pick an animal companion big enough to ride (👍👍). You don’t get Tactician, but you do get bonus Teamwork feats you automatically share with your companion, and the bonuses from Animal Focus are better than any of the Cavalier buff/debuff abilities. Plus, spellcasting (6/9).
- Inquisitor with the Sacred Huntsmaster archetype, and pick an animal companion big enough to ride (👍👍). You don’t get Tactician, but you do get bonus Teamwork feats you automatically share with your companion, and the Bane and Favored Enemy abilities are much, much better than any of the Cavalier debuff abilities. Plus, spellcasting (6/9) and skill bonuses.
Instead of a baseline Fighter, play… almost any other Strength-heavy combat class (👍). You see, Fighter is deceptively bad, because in Pathfinder just having more feats doesn’t actually make you much better at fighting. Sheer fighting power mostly comes from very careful feat selection (which you can cram in on almost any character) and stacking buff effects.
This advice becomes much less important if you know how to make the most of the advanced picks for Weapon Mastery, since those (which were added well after Fighter was initially created in the tabletop game) dramatically increase the power of the class, granting active and passive abilities that bring up the class’ baseline considerably (but that you still probably want to combine with an archetype or multiclassing). But if you know what you’re doing with that, why are you reading this?
Instead of a baseline Paladin, play one of these:
- Inquisitor with the Judge archetype (👍). You get a smite-like ability that doesn’t depend on the target’s alignment, on top of Inquisitor’s judgment bonuses (which you can share with allies as an aura!) and bane weapon ability. Plus, better Inquisitor casting (6/9). You lose some BAB, but the spell buffs more than make up for it. Keep in mind that Inquisitor spellcasting is Wis-based instead of Cha-based, but if you stick to buff/healing spells, you’ll only ever need the bare minimum (16 Wis).
- Warpriest (👍). Instead of smite you have general-purpose weapon buffs that don’t depend on enemy alignments (no need to screw around when facing golems or whatever); Fervor is pretty much a straight better version of lay on hands; and you get bonus feats and miscellaneous powers, plus better spellcasting (6/9) with the ability to self-cast buff spells as swift actions via Fervor. The only thing you’re really missing is auras and the ability to get a companion via Divine Bond, but the spellcasting-related stuff is generally better than both. You lose some BAB, but the spell buffs more than make up for it. Keep in mind that Warpriest spellcasting is Wis-based instead of Cha-based, but if you stick to buff/healing spells, you’ll only ever need the bare minimum (16 Wis).
Instead of a baseline Rogue, play one of these:
- Alchemist with the Vivisectionist archetype (👍). You don’t get free Weapon Finesse or automatic Dexterity to damage, but you do get sneak attack, sneak attack-related talent picks, mutagen (a self-buff with a long duration), and buff-heavy Alchemist spellcasting (6/9).
- Bard with the Archeologist archetype (👍). You don’t get free Weapon Finesse, automatic Dexterity to damage, or sneak attack, but you get rogue talents and miscellaneous abilities and a self-buff version of bard song that stacks with normal bard song, plus all that tasty charm/illusion-heavy bard spellcasting (6/9).
- Inquisitor with the Sanctified Slayer archetype (👍👍). You don’t get free Weapon Finesse or automatic Dexterity to damage, but you get sneak attack, rogue talents, the inquisitor’s bane weapon ability (which stacks with sneak attack!), inquisitor teamwork feats, and inquisitor skill bonuses and spellcasting (6/9) on top of all that.
For Rogue replacements, if you want to be Dexterity-focused, make sure to take the feat Weapon Finesse and then either Fencing Grace or Slashing Grace (usually Slashing Grace with a high-critical-range light weapon like the kukri will be your best choice for raw damage). This will take some of your feat slots, but the general power increase from the better class picks makes it more than worth it.
Instead of a baseline Slayer, play an Inquisitor with the Sanctified Slayer archetype (👍). It’s pretty much a straight upgrade on everything Slayer has, with a heap of extra stuff plus spellcasting and all you really lose in the trade is a couple of slayer talents and access to advanced slayer talents. You lose some BAB, but the spell buffs more than make up for it.