(WIP) Slaying Beasts, Monsters, and Everything In Between – A Guide by MBArceus on the Pathfinder Slayer

Slaying Beasts, Monsters, and Everything In Between

A Guide by MBArceus on the Pathfinder Slayer

Introduction

Greetings, hunters! Before I say anything else, thank you for taking a look at this here guide. This is my first time publishing such an extensive document, and it honestly means a lot to me that you’d take the time to consider my opinions and thoughts. The path of a warrior is a challenging one, and I am more than honored to be your assistant on each and every one of your perilous journeys.

I’d also like to thank my inspirations: namely, Treantmonk, whose work serves as the foundation for nearly every Pathfinder guide out there. Without him, we wouldn’t be where we are today. It is upon his legacy that our work – as in, our work as Pathfinder guide writers – is allowed to stand upright. I’d also like to thank N. Jolly for being one of the most prolific guide writers out there in the Pathfinder community whose more modern takes on the format Treantmonk created are more of a direct inspiration for my own guide writing style – most notably, his style of using themes for each of his guide. In this guide, I’ve adopted the Monster Hunter series as a source of thematic inspiration, and I do not feel like that there could be anything more fitting. I’d also to like Bodhi, whose guides on the Paladin and Inquisitor inspired the formatting I use in the Slayer’s Styles section. Finally, I’d like to thank the guide-writers whose information I have drawn from while writing this guide: Watchwood’s A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking, the unnamed author who wrote The Noble Art of Intimimancy, the unnamed author who wrote Tips and Traits: A Guide to Pathfinder Traits, and AncientSpark’s Try Fighting Without Pants! A Guide to Dirty Tricks. Their guides have helped this guide be richer and more extensive in knowledge than what it would be otherwise.

That out of the way, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of it.

What is a Slayer?

This is the question that prompted me to write this guide in the first place. The Slayer has lacked definition in the years since it has been released, due to it not adding much to the table as regards to unique class abilities compared to other existing classes. A lot of the options available to the Slayer are directly taken from its parent classes, the Ranger and Rogue, and its combat style isn’t as defined as other classes like the Gunslinger or Swashbuckler. I only know of two guides written about the class, and neither of them are as extensive as I’d like them to be. I feel that the Slayer has become rather forgotten by not only the Pathfinder community, but by Paizo as well. I wanted to write this guide to help bring the Slayer back into the minds of the public, so that your campaigns and adventures will become enriched by their inclusion and presence.

A Slayer is a learned killer.

The ranger uses their expertise in enemies, terrain, and weaponry to master the wilds and bring down their foes. The rogue uses stealth and subterfuge to dart around the battlefield and strike enemies where they least expect it. The Slayer, the hybrid of these two classes, combines the ranger’s skill at arms with the rogue’s precision to create a talented combatant that strikes with resolve and rarely, if ever, misses the mark. They specialize in their chosen weapon to superhuman levels and use their tactical abilities to shape the tide of battle and turn it to their favor, whether it’s in the untamed wilderness or a daunting urban cityscape, before initiative is even rolled.

If you find yourself in a Slayer’s sights, good luck, because you have but a sliver of a chance of escaping with your life.

Rating System

Red (*): No.

Orange (**): This an option that has its strengths, but will not find much use compared to most other choices. It isn’t something that I would recommend, but if you feel it fits your character, go ahead.

Green (***): This is a pretty solid and reliable option.

Blue (****): This option is stellar. You better have a good reason for not taking this!

Purple (*****): I will not use this rating lightly. Take this.

Roles

Team composition is always important. Oftentimes, guides are written “in a vacuum”, so to speak; i.e. they are written without the rest of the party in mind. When building a Slayer, consider what kind of an ally your fellow adventurers will appreciate fighting alongside. Make sure you cover the party’s bases. But, most importantly… make sure you build a character you’ll have fun playing as!

Striker (*****): The Slayer’s class abilities make it really good at pointing out an enemy and then killing that enemy. Your full BAB, Studied Target, and Slayer talents will give you an incredible amount of single-target DPR. This will be your main focus, no questions asked.

Scout (****): The Slayer doesn’t have to scratch their head uselessly outside of battle, either. You’re better than that. Stealth is a class skill for you and it can be augmented by your class abilities. It also supplements your Striker role, as you can make the most out of getting the jump on an enemy. You can also be the team’s trapfinder through a talent.

Defender (***): You’re a d10 class. You can take a hit. With the right feat choices, you can make sure that enemies hit you instead of your squishier friends – and if they try anything funny, you can stop them in their tracks.

Support (***): With combat maneuver-oriented builds, you can reliably hamper your enemies while still dealing an impressive amount of damage. Some archetypes will even allow you to buff your teammates a little.

Class Features

Hit Die (***): d10. Very few classes get anything better.

BAB (****): You get full BAB, no ifs or buts about it. Your class abilities will boost your to-hit, as well.

Saves (***): You have two good saves – Fort and Ref! That’s great! But… I will say that your Will will not be very good. The effects that call for Will saving throws will be among some of the nastiest debuffs you’ll face, so it’s worth shoring up.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency (***): You don’t get heavy armor or tower shields, but you wouldn’t want them anyway. Medium armor is good for STR-oriented builds without putting too much of a limit on your DEX, and light armor is there for finesse and ranged builds who really want to pump their DEX.

Studied Target (*****): This is the defining ability of the Slayer class. It’s what differentiates you from the fighter tromping in plate armor, charging in with their weapon raised above their head. You’re smarter than that. By taking a moment to size up your target, you’ll know just where to strike, boosting your attack rolls, damage rolls, and a handful of skills. Your class ability DCs will also be increased against your target. It’s comparable to the paladin’s smite, or the cavalier’s challenge, but the biggest upside of this ability is that you can use it as often as you’d like. 

The biggest complaint that somebody could have with this ability is that you have to single an enemy out. This is hardly an issue, as you should be focusing on a single target anyway. The reasoning for this is simple: an enemy with 1 HP is as deadly as an enemy with full HP. You should be finishing your targets off. That’s what a Slayer does. If positioning is an issue and you are unable to attack your studied target, however, you gain abilities as you level up that will mitigate the penalties of being in such an unfavorable situation. Every 5 levels, you will be able to study an additional target, and at 7th level, you can study as a swift action instead of a move action.

Track (**): This ability is taken straight from the Ranger. It’s a rather situational bonus, and your WIS won’t be as high as the Ranger’s, but it’s there if the opportunity arises.

Slayer Talents (****): You can never go wrong with pseudo-feats. You get a lot of them too – one every other level. I’ll cover each of them in another section.

Sneak Attack (***): Sneak attack is a great way to add to your damage that complements a stealthy, one-step-ahead playstyle. You get 1d6 of damage every 3 levels, which is sadly slower than the Rogue’s SA progression, but it’s a great addition to your DPR.

Stalker (***): Disguise? Nah. Intimidate? Maybe. Stealth? Heck yeah. The problem with this, though, is that when you have the line of sight necessary in order to use your Studied Target ability, you’re probably already going to have had rolled a Stealth check, but if you have to roll it again, this is nice.

Advanced Talents (****): Now you get even more choices to customize your Slayer. Like I said before, I’ll cover each of them in another section.

Swift Tracker (*): A bonus to following tracks was already situational. Having to follow tracks under a time limit is even more situational. This isn’t what you’re here for, is it?

Slayer’s Advance (**): I suppose this is a nice ability that will find use, but at this level, you should have much better options for augmenting your mobility. Not only that, but you only get to use it once a day. Use it if you have to, but it’s not something you should rely on.

Quarry (***): This ability is like Studied Target in nature, but it’s worse. You’re meant to use them in conjunction, though, so it’s still rather useful… but it’s rather underwhelming of an ability, especially at this level. This is almost taken straight from the ranger, but it’s slightly better. Instead of being limited to a favored enemy, it’s limited to your studied target, and what you’re trying to kill should always be your studied target. The bonuses it confers are gimped by the necessity of a standard action and the limitation that you have to wait 1 hour after killing your last quarry (or 24 hours if your quarry gets away!). Use it when you can, but you can make do without having it in effect.

Improved Quarry (****): Oh wait! It’s a free action now! Now that’s gravy. Not only that, but the bonuses it confers have been amplified.

Master Slayer (**): This is your capstone. Most campaigns never get to the point where you can use it, but if you can, congratulations! You can… kill things when you hit them. Wait, weren’t we already doing that?

Skills

Class Skills

Acrobatics (****): Useful for maneuvering the battlefield safely as well as doing sick jumps. Don’t forget that if you have at least 3 ranks, you get bonuses to your AC while fighting defensively or during total defense!

Bluff (**): You’re not a face. You could try to make a feinting build, but it’d be pretty sub-par.

Climb (**): Climb can be useful in the early levels. Later on, your party caster is probably just going to cast Fly or some variation thereof and it’ll all be good.

Craft (*): Pathfinder’s crafting rules are abysmal. You might have slightly above-average INT, but this isn’t worth looking at.

Disguise (*): Your CHA should be in the pits, and even then, this isn’t that good of a skill. You should be using Stealth if you want to hide.

Heal (**): In dire straits, you might need to operate on yourself. Otherwise… you’re not a WIS-based character. Leave it for the casters.

Intimidate (**/*): Once again, you’re not a face… but if you’re taking the Butterfly Blade or Velvet Blade archetypes, it’s worth taking a look at.

Knowledge

Dungeoneering (***): This’ll allow you to have information about aberrations, oozes, and various subterranean hazards.

Geography (**): This might be useful once in a blue moon, especially if your campaign is more sandboxy, but it’s not going to come up too often.

Local (****): This’ll help you be savvy within settlements, helping you not get lost, but more importantly, you can use this to size up humanoid foes.

Perception (*****): Were you thinking of not maxing this? I hope you weren’t. Chances are you’ve already read that this is the most rolled skill in the game, but I’ll tell you again – Perception is the most rolled skill in the game. Also, there’s nothing more embarrassing than the master of stealth being snuck up upon.

Profession (*/*): Maybe take one rank in this for flavor… otherwise, it’s near useless. If your GM uses downtime, then it might be something looking at. If you’re playing a naval campaign… then ye’ll needa be takin’ Profession (Sailor), matey.

Ride (*/*): If you’re making a mounted slayer, take this. If you aren’t, don’t. It’s that simple.

Sense Motive (***): This isn’t going to be a skill you’re particularly good at, but lies are usually something that can be rolled on by the entire class. It may save you a lot of time and effort if you’re the one PC in the party who catches an NPC’s deception, even if you’re not a WIS guy.

Stealth (****): Sneak attack, Studied Target, Stalker, Quarry, Slayer’s Advance, as well as countless Slayer Talents… There’s a whole lot of damage output and utility to be found in scouting as a slayer. Do I need to repeat what I wrote in the Roles section?

Survival (**): A Slayer investing in Survival is kinda like if the Ranger class were an overbearing parent who forced their kid to adopt their own line of work. Your class abilities complement the usage of this skill, but you’re not going to be as good at it as your Ranger forefather. Invest a rank or two with a sigh and a “fine, dad!” and you’ll get by.

Swim (**): One rank is fine. You don’t need to be Michael Phelps, you just need to not drown. And if you’ve played Monster Hunter Tri, you know that swimming isn’t really all that fun anyway.

Non-Class Skills

Appraise (*): Usually you just straight up forget this skill exists unless you’re writing a section on skills for a Pathfinder class guide on Google Docs.

Diplomacy (**): You’re not a face, but this is one of the more useful of the social skills, so I don’t feel like I should rate it red.

Disable Device (**/**): If you take the Trapfinding talent, this becomes a class skill, and you become the go-to party member for picking locks and disabling traps. Otherwise… just go back to killing.

Escape Artist (**): I feel like there should be a term to refer to skills that can be made up for by just having a competent enough prepared spellcaster in your team. You can survive by leaving this alone.

Fly (**): If you’re going to magically get flying, it should probably be at a Perfect fly speed anyway.

Handle Animal (**): You’re not going to deal with animals that often, and your CHA should be pretty low. Unless, of course, you’re taking Animal Ally – but even then, your checks shouldn’t be that difficult or common.

Knowledge

Arcana (***): This covers not only a smattering of magical effects and spells that you might encounter on your adventures, but constructs, dragons, and magical beasts.

Engineering (*): Architects usually aren’t slayers.

History (**): If historical information is an important part of your campaign, you’ll probably be told it, anyway.

Nature (***): Even if you’re not spending a whole lot of your time in the wilderness, you’re probably going to be coming across a fair share of animals, fey, plants, and monstrous humanoids.

Nobility (*): The miniscule amount of information that this skill confers detailing noble lineages and royal families shouldn’t be your concern, even in urban campaigns.

Planes (***): You’ll mostly be using this for outsiders, but if you’re going on extradimensional adventures, this’ll be doubly useful.

Religion (***): Undead’s what you’re here for. Knowing information about deities is just the icing on the cake. It feels weird that Grave Wardens don’t get this as a class skill, though.

Linguistics (**): Nobody takes Linguistics to roll it as a skill. You only take it when you really need to learn another language.

Spellcraft (*): Only casters need this. Go back to hitting things.

Use Magic Device (****): UMD has been heralded as being one of the greatest skills for a character. It won’t be as useful as Perception, true, but the utility it provides is massive and shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a CHA-based skill, but if you can get it as a class skill, you’ll definitely be able to find some good use for it.

The Slayer’s Styles

The slayer’s skill at arms is unparalleled. The study of battle, the precision of sneak attacks, and the tactic of stealth is ubiquitous to nearly every slayer, but what specific method they use to take their targets’ lives is extremely varied and diverse. The level of customization permitted by your talents builds upon an extremely effective martial chassis to make a for a myriad of choices of combat techniques. Feel free to mix and match them, too! Perhaps you could make a switch hitter by mixing archery and two-handed weaponry, raining arrows from afar before engaging in close combat, or an Animal Ally build that uses your companion alongside two-weapon fighting to net you a boatload of precision damage. The world is your oyster!

Greatsword (***)

(Two-Handed Weapons)

When it comes to raw, brute strikes, few can parallel the two-handed weapon wielder. Holding the biggest weapon you can find in two hands and swinging it at your enemies is one of the simplest martial combat styles in Pathfinder, requiring little investment during character creation before dealing massive amounts of damage. It may be basic, but it’s a tried and true combat style, and it’s hard to go wrong with it.

If you’re playing a campaign from 1st level, this is probably your best bet. All you need is Power Attack and a massive STR score to start smashing people to pieces.

Ability Scores

Strength (*****): You need to be as strong as you can be in order to deal the most damage. It’ll boost your to-hit and damage, and because you’re holding a weapon in two hands, you’ll get even more damage from this score than usual.

Dexterity (****): Your DEX won’t be as high as most other Slayers, but your AC, initiative, Ref, as well as a number of important skills – most notably Stealth – will be based on this.

Constitution (***): CON should always be at least green in every Pathfinder guide. Not dying is always great! Your Fort is based off of this, too.

Intelligence (**): Most of the few DCs you have will be based off of this stat, and it’ll help you be a bit more skillful. You already get 6 skill ranks per level, though, and your DCs are boosted by your Studied Target ability anyway.

Wisdom (**): WIS isn’t very important to you, but if you dump it, you might end up regretting it down the line. Failed Will saves are no joke. The most important skill in the game, Perception, is based off of this too. Dump it with caution.

Charisma (*): You’re not a face. You don’t need to be smooth to win favor with those you meet; you’re going to prove yourself on the field of battle. There are some Rogue talents based off of CHA, granted, but they’re few in number and not very useful. Dump this.

Races

Core:

Dwarf (***): The racial score modifiers are passable, giving you bonuses to two of your secondary stats and a penalty to your dump stat, but the greatest thing about dwarves are their amazing racial traits – namely, Hardy or Magic Resistant. Darkvision is a plus, too.

Elf (**): An elf isn’t the worst you can go with, but their racial ability score adjustments aren’t the most favorable for you. Some of their racial traits are nice, but they don’t make up for the bang you can get with a burlier race.

Gnome (*): The FCB is amazing, but… you’re looking to wield huge weapons. Small people aren’t usually good at wielding huge weapons. It gives you a bonus to your dump stat and a penalty to your best stat.

Half-Elf (***): The flexible stat bonus is good, and the racials are nice. You can swap out Skill Focus for something nicer – maybe a fun EWP or a +2 to your weak Will save. The FCB isn't stellar, but you’re allowed to take the amazing human FCB.

Half-Orc (****): Descended from the most brutish of races, it's no surprise half-orcs make great Two-handed Slayers. Flexible stat bonuses are always good, darkvision is useful, and Orc Ferocity can save your life, but you can swap it out for the amazing Sacred Tattoo + Fate’s Favored combo, giving you +2 to all your saves. The FCB is terrible, but you can take the amazing Human FCB.

Halfling (**): Halflings are a small race with a bonus to your dump stat and a penalty to your main stat. The racials and FCB are pretty good, but you won't be doing as much damage as other Slayers.

Human (****): Is there anything humans aren't good at? Flexible stat bonuses are always good, the FCB is amazing, and the skill ranks are a nice topping. The extra feat is usually the main draw of the race, but you're not too feat starved anyway.

Featured Races:

Aasimar (**/*): Aasimar racials are excellent – elemental resistance, skill bonuses, an SLA – and while the score modifiers aren't the best for you, having no penalties is nice. If variant heritages are allowed, you should definitely take Angel-blooded for a much more preferable STR bonus.

Catfolk (**): The skill bonuses are amazing for you, but everything else isn't good enough of a fit.

Dhampir (**): The ability score modifiers are a huge pain and the racial abilities are situational. Light sensitivity is a huge annoyance, too. You can't be healed by positive energy either. Being part vampire may seem cool, but if you choose it, it'll come back to bite you. The variant heritage, Jiang-Shi-born, is slightly better, giving you more attractive ability score modifiers and swapping out light sensitivity for a much less common weakness.

Drow (*): The ability score modifiers are terrible and so is the light blindness. Their fancy racial traits don't make up for it at all.

Fetchling (**): The racial traits are really cool and fit a stealthy playstyle, but the ability score modifiers aren't in your favor.

Goblin (*): These scrawny little guys aren't built for the two-handed lifestyle.

Hobgoblin (***): No bonus to your primary score, but you get +2 to both DEX and CON – no penalties. That ain’t half bad. You get a +4 to Stealth and Darkvision as well, which is just gravy. I'd prefer Scarred over Darkvision though, which gives you a +1 Natural AC bonus.

Ifrit (**): The ability score modifiers are pretty bad, but some of the alternate racial traits are pretty tempting – namely, Efreeti Magic and Wildfire Heart. Make sure you swap out the obsolete Fire Affinity, too.

Kobold (*): I'm going to vomit.

Orc (**): The +4 to STR is a bit appealing, but you get -2 to all mental stats and Light Sensitivity. Ouch.

Oread (***): The ability score modifiers are perfect! Darkvision and acid resistance are just the frosting on the cake. You also get… a pretty meh SLA. I'd definitely recommend the Stone in the Blood and Treacherous Earth alternate racial traits. Granite Skin is also worth considering. However, if the 20 ft. movement speed bothers you, look away.

Ratfolk (**): Small size and a STR penalty make this a rather suboptimal choice, but the bonuses to DEX, INT, and Perception checks are pretty good. Swarming is also a really fun ability if built around, especially with your Sneak Attack.

Sylph (**): The ability score modifiers aren't the best, but the SLA, Darkvision, and elemental resistance are pretty nice. Whispering Wind is also worth taking a look at.

Tengu (**): I'm not a fan of the ability score modifiers, but a +2 to your two most important skills – namely, Perception and Stealth – is pretty good. The natural Bite attack also gives you an extra chance to roll your SA dice during a full attack. Exotic Weapon Training can definitely open up a couple of fun and powerful options for you, and Glide might save your life.

Tiefling (****): I'm just going to come out and say that tieflings are my favorite Pathfinder race. The ability score modifiers are pretty good, Darkvision is useful (and the SLA makes it usefuller), the skill bonuses are helpful, and the elemental resistances are amazing. If variant heritage are allowed, Oni-Spawn gives you even better ability score modifiers.

Undine (*): +2 to DEX and WIS is nice, but -2 to STR is pretty bad. The racial traits add some decent utility, but overall, this is a rather weak choice.

Archetypes

Ankou’s Shadow (****): (Replaces Studied Target & Stalker; alters Quarry & Improved Quarry. Stacks with Bounty Hunter, Cutthroat, Deliverer, Pureblade, & Sniper.) There’s a good chance I’m overrating this one because of recency bias, but this archetype just seems crazy to me right now. You have to give up Studied Target, but when you look at the archetype’s benefits, that price seems like a steal. You do away with flat numbers and get incredible utility and defense in return.

Shadow Double (****): This ability is a gift that just keeps on giving. Initially, it’s not half bad, giving you a pseudo-mirror image that only gives you one double, but a double you can resummon as many times as you like. They die from 1 hit point of damage, so they’ll have an extremely glaring weakness in the form of AoE. For this reason, it’s extremely recommended that you take the Evasion advanced ninja talent.

At 5th level, this ability starts to show its true colors – not only do you get another shadow double, but you can instead position them around the battlefield to set up flanks – which is especially good for a SA class. You can also use Aid Another through your doubles as a swift action, which can be a great substitute for the attack bonus you would normally get from Studied Target. The wording is rather vague, but the ability seems to suggest that this swift action isn’t only one Aid Another action, but that each double gets its own Aid Another action – in that regard, it’s a scaling bonus, after a fashion. It’s a shame they put in a clause that you can’t use it in conjunction with any other Aid Another abilities… 

At 10th level, not only do you get a 3rd double, but you can make attacks and use abilities as if you were in the position of any of your doubles! This is not only a really cool pseudo-mobility option during combat, but with some cleverness and a liberal interpretation of the term “ability”, you can use it to scout without fear of harming yourself. Given that shadow doubles don’t have a maximum range, you can get really cheesy with scrying or a similar effect.

At 15th level, you get your 4th and final double, as well as the ability to command your doubles as a more powerful unseen servant. It’s rather vague if the range applies, as there’s no “using your class level as your effective caster level” clause, as well as what this means for the movement of your shadows during combat. Ask your GM, and if they’re lenient, this turns into a great utility ability to an amazing combat ability.

Ankou’s Vision (****): You don’t have Studied Target, so you can’t have Stalker, either. In its place, you get this amazing ability – effectively quickened see invisibility. You might not be using this every day, but it’s a massive help when it does come up… and it’s definitely quite better than Stalker.

Shadow Prey (**): Hey, we could only get the ball rolling for so long. We’ve eventually got to get you something bad. But, even so… it’s only marginally bad. You should be entering battle with all your shadow doubles in place anyway, but if they’re all wiped out, the requirement to use a full-round action to form another one is much more of a burden than using a swift action Studied Target.

Unfettered Shadows (*****): This is the best capstone for a martial character I’ve ever seen. It takes only a standard action to get running, but once it’s popped off, you reach a level of action economy during combat that eclipses even time stop. Your enemies get a save to treat your doubles as 20% real every time they get hit, but you have 4 shadows, you can use it 3+INT mod times per day, and it lasts for 1 minute each time… You don’t have to do the math to see how good it is. 

Bloody Jake (*): (Replaces Medium Armor Proficiency, Shield Proficiency, Slayer Talents at 4th, 6th, 8th, 12th, and 16th levels, Swift Tracker, & Slayer’s Advance; alters alignment & Studied Target. Stacks with Grave Warden & Turncoat.) Do you want to be a redneck boogeyman? This is the archetype for you. Do you want to play a good character, in more than one sense of the word? This isn’t the archetype for you.

Alignment (**): You have to be evil. Good guys, you aren’t missing out on much.

Favored Terrain (*): Favored terrain is an extremely niche ability. Even if your entire campaign is in your chosen terrain, the bonuses it confers aren’t worth it. This version is even worse than the already terrible version the Ranger gets. As a STR Slayer, this is a bad trade for your medium armor.

Cruel Tricks (*): In place of a large portion of your Slayer Talents, you get a bunch of really weak debuffs. It’s also based on your dump stat. Get out of here. If this archetype were any good, I’d go over each trick, but, alas, it isn’t.

Poor Study (*): Giving up half of your Slayer Talents isn’t enough, apparently. Your Studied Target gets gimped too.

Sadistic Snare (**): This ability is also pretty bad, but not as bad as the rest of the archetype. These traps can be useful in the right situation, but you’ll rarely be able to make use of them as a PC. Not only that, but it’s based on… WIS? Why?

Cruel Trick (**): First things first: why is there an ability called Cruel Trick in an archetype that already has a Cruel Tricks ability? In any case, ability score damage can be pretty damaging, but needing your target to fail a save based on CHA on top of having to hit them in the first place is pretty bad.

Woodland Shortcut (***): This is a pretty nice transport option, but a pile of garbage with a cherry on top is still a pile of garbage.

Bounty Hunter (**): (Replaces Medium Armor Proficiency, Heavy Shield Proficiency, & Slayer Talents at 2nd, 6th, and 10th levels. Stacks with Ankou’s Shadow, Butterfly Blade, Cleaner, Sczarni Executioner, & Turncoat.) Bounty hunters are famed for their ability to take down targets by means other than ripping them to shreds. As a two-handed weapon wielder, there’s a good chance that you want to focus on the ripping to shreds part.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency (**): The loss of medium armor hurts, but in exchange, you get a handful of exotic weapons! Unfortunately, none of them are two-handed. Go back to your greatsword.

Dirty Trick (***): Dirty Trick is considered the gold standard of combat maneuvers, and this allows you to perform them without taking away the action economy you need to smash your enemies to pieces. The fact that it doesn’t provoke AoOs, even without Improved Dirty Trick, is great. Look at the Dirty Trick Slayer section if you really want to capitalize on this ability.

Submission Hold (*): Grappling requires a heavy amount of investment in terms of feats, and it doesn’t complement at all with wielding two-handed weapons. The benefit is minimal even if you were specializing in grappling.

Incapacitate (**): This is pretty much a sidegrade, plain and simple. It’s pretty much the equivalent of the Assassinate slayer talent, but you have the ability to deal nonlethal damage instead of outright killing your enemies. And unless you’re really pressed for time, you can always just coup de grace knocked out enemies if you still wanna kill them.

Traits

Combat

Armor Expert (****): Reducing your armor check penalty by 1 is essentially giving you +1 to all STR and DEX-based skills.

Blade of the Society (***): +1 damage on Sneak Attack isn’t half bad.

Excitable/Reactionary (****): Initiative is important, especially when you have Sneak Attack.

Deft Dodger (***): If your DEX isn’t too high (which is likely, as you’re pumping STR), this is worth taking a look at. However, Grounded is strictly better.

Resilient (***): If your CON isn’t too high, this is worth taking a look at.

Faith

Indomitable Faith (****): This really helps as for boosting your Will save! However, Carefully Hidden and Purity of Faith are strictly better.

Social

Adopted (****): This opens up a lot of new options for you! I’ve also found that this trait is really fun to RP. Make sure your GM knows that Adopted and the racial trait it confers count as one trait total, not two.

Magic

Dangerously Curious (****): Your CHA is a dump stat, but that doesn’t change the fact that UMD is a really, really good skill.

Race

Auspicious Tattoo/Legacy of Sand (****): This really helps as for boosting your Will save! However, Carefully Hidden and Purity of Faith are strictly better.

Carefully Hidden (*****): Your Will save will be rather low, and this is one of the best traits to shore it up with, giving you a +1 as well as a +2 versus divination effects.

Elven Reflexes/Warrior of Old (****): Initiative is important, especially when you have Sneak Attack.

Forlorn (***): If your CON isn’t too high, this is worth taking a look at.

Grounded (****): If your DEX isn’t too high (which is likely, as you’re pumping STR), this’ll boost your Ref as well as giving you +2 to Acrobatics to balance.

Youthful Mischief (***): If your DEX isn’t too high (which is likely, as you’re pumping STR), this is worth taking a look at. However, Grounded is strictly better.

Regional

Glory of Old (****): This is really, really good. Spells, spell-like abilities, and poison make up a majority of what you’ll be making saving throws against.

Hermean Paragon (****): Initiative is important, especially when you have Sneak Attack.

Isgeri Orphan/Freed Slave/Heart of Clay/Mana Wastes Survivalist (***): If your CON isn’t too high, this is worth taking a look at.

Sargavan Guard (****): Reducing your armor check penalty by 1 is essentially giving you +1 to all STR and DEX-based skills.

Underlying Principles (****): Your CHA is a dump stat, but that doesn’t change the fact that UMD is a really, really good skill.

Xa Hoi Soldier (***): If your DEX isn’t too high (which is likely, as you’re pumping STR), this is worth taking a look at. However, Grounded is strictly better.

Religion

Defensive Strategist (*****): Uncanny Dodge for half a feat is pretty incredible.

Lessons of Chaldira (*****): Aren’t traits supposed to be worth about half a feat? This is going to save your life, and possibly on more than one occasion.

Purity of Faith (*****): Your Will save will be rather low, and this is one of the best traits to shore it up with, giving you a +1 as well as a +1 on saves prompted by evil outsiders.

Feats

Power Attack (*****): This is one of the most popular feats in Pathfinder, and for good reason. The bonus to damage scales extremely well, and it’s boosted by the fact that you’re wielding a weapon in two hands. With full BAB and Studied Target, the attack roll penalty shouldn’t matter much to you.

Dual Blades (****)

(Two-Weapon Fighting)

Nothing says “master of combat” like the sight of a warrior dancing around the battlefield, flourishing two blades at once in a powerful yet fluid fighting stance, rending their opponents and reducing them to shreds. That is the way of Two-Weapon Fighting, and it synergizes extremely well with the slayer’s class abilities due to Studied Target and SA adding damage to each of their individual strikes. The style takes more than a few feats to get off of the ground, making it a poor choice for extremely early-level play, but your Slayer talents will help you get there.

One of the trickiest things about the Two-Weapon Fighting feat tree are the massive DEX prerequisites. This puts you in kind of a tight spot, as you can’t dual wield with DEX to damage unless you’re an Unchained Rogue or you spend a lot of money on the Agile weapon enchantment, or you could eat it up and be MAD… or, you could be a Slayer! The Slayer inherits a privilege from its parent class, the Ranger, in that it can pick up the Two-Weapon Fighting feat tree without its nasty prerequisites through the Ranger Combat Style talents.

Ability Scores

Strength (*****): You need to be as strong as you can be in order to deal the most damage. It’ll boost your to-hit and damage, and with TWF putting a penalty to each of your attack rolls, you’ll need what you can get.

Dexterity (****): Your DEX won’t be as high as most other Slayers, but your AC, initiative, Ref, as well as a number of important skills – most notably Stealth – will be based on this.

Constitution (***): CON should always be at least green in every Pathfinder guide. Not dying is always great! Your Fort is based off of this, too.

Intelligence (**): Most of the few DCs you have will be based off of this stat, and it’ll help you be a bit more skillful. You already get 6 skill ranks per level, though, and your DCs are boosted by your Studied Target ability anyway.

Wisdom (**): WIS isn’t very important to you, but if you dump it, you might end up regretting it down the line. Failed Will saves are no joke. The most important skill in the game, Perception, is based off of this too. Dump it with caution.

Charisma (*): You’re not a face. You don’t need to be smooth to win favor with those you meet; you’re going to prove yourself on the field of battle. There are some Rogue talents based off of CHA, granted, but they’re few in number and not very useful. Dump this.

Bow (****)

(Archery)

Your enemies are in your sights. You study your target from afar and, holding your breath, you let loose an arrow. They yelp in intense pain, turning around, drawing their weapon, but before they can charge back at you, you have unleashed a volley of death upon them and they fall to the ground, lifeless, filled with flint. The Archer Slayer, another arrow held tight between his fingers, looks upon their fresh kill, and puts the arrow back in their quiver. Archery is one of the most feat-demanding martial combat styles in Pathfinder, but when built right, it can be one of the most rewarding.

Ability Scores

Strength (***): With a Composite Longbow, your damage will be based off of STR, but other than that, it’s not too important.

Dexterity (*****): Max this! This is what makes you an expert marksman, buffing not only your to-hit, but your AC, initiative, Ref, as well as a number of important skills – most notably Stealth.

Constitution (***): CON should always be at least green in every Pathfinder guide. Not dying is always great! Your Fort is based off of this, too.

Intelligence (**): Most of the few DCs you have will be based off of this stat, and it’ll help you be a bit more skillful. You already get 6 skill ranks per level, though, and your DCs are boosted by your Studied Target ability anyway.

Wisdom (**): WIS isn’t very important to you, but if you dump it, you might end up regretting it down the line. Failed Will saves are no joke. The most important skill in the game, Perception, is based off of this too. Dump it with caution.

Charisma (*): You’re not a face. You don’t need to be smooth to win favor with those you meet; you’re going to prove yourself on the field of battle. There are some Rogue talents based off of CHA, granted, but they’re few in number and not very useful. Dump this.

Longsword (***)

(Weapon Finesse)

With light steps, careful movements, and swift strikes, Finesse Slayers are a sight to behold. Eschewing the brute power of their brethren, they use the superhuman precision of their movements to cut their enemies to ribbons whilst dancing around any attacks that come their way with amazing grace. They are often the first to react when weapons are drawn, and they are almost one step ahead of their quarry.

Weapon Finesse used to be a suboptimal and taxing combat style in Pathfinder, but due to multiple feats and character options released by Paizo in the past few years, it has become more feasible than ever. Finesse Slayers are probably the most SAD build you can make with the class, making them better scouts than the other combat styles listed in this guide. With ability scores to spare, they’re likely to have the best DCs, skills, and saving throws as well.

Oh, and, about the motif… longswords in Pathfinder aren’t finesse weapons, but it was the closest thematic choice. Please understand.

Ability Scores

Strength (*): STR to damage? Ha! Not for you, buddy. Carrying capacity may be an issue, but magic items can mitigate that rather easily.

Dexterity (*****): Like I wrote earlier, you’re extremely SAD. Your to-hit and damage will be based off of this after a couple of feats. Your AC, initiative, Ref, and utility are based off of this too.

Constitution (***): CON should always be at least green in every Pathfinder guide. Not dying is always great! Your Fort is based off of this, too.

Intelligence (**): Most of the few DCs you have will be based off of this stat, and it’ll help you be a bit more skillful. You already get 6 skill ranks per level, though, and your DCs are boosted by your Studied Target ability anyway.

Wisdom (**): WIS isn’t very important to you, but if you dump it, you might end up regretting it down the line. Failed Will saves are no joke. The most important skill in the game, Perception, is based off of this too. Dump it with caution.

Charisma (*): You’re not a face. You don’t need to be smooth to win favor with those you meet; you’re going to prove yourself on the field of battle. There are some Rogue talents based off of CHA, granted, but they’re few in number and not very useful. Dump this.

Lance (***)

(Reach)

Amongst the ranks of Slayers, few are as bold as those who stand tall on the battlefield, polearms in their hands, demanding the attention of their targets, staring them down, sweat dripping down their enemies’ brows, daring them to make a move without a word. The Reach Slayer is the guardian of their party, and they make use of Attacks of Opportunity to strike enemies when they least expect it. They are the most defensive in nature out of the Slayer’s styles, but don’t be confused – they still deal heavy amounts of damage.

Reach Slayers can be effective at 1st level, but at that point, they are only strikers. They must wait a few levels before they can unlock their true potential as martial area controllers. Bladed Brush users will have to wait even later.

Ability Scores

Strength (*/**): Usually, you’ll be basing your to-hit and damage off of STR. Given all of the AoOs you’ll be making, you’ll need to be good at hitting things, of course. Polearms are two-handed weapons as well, so you’ll be getting x1.5 STR to damage. Bladed Brush users can dump this, though.

Dexterity (****/*): Like every other Slayer, your AC, initiative, Ref, as well as a number of important skills – most notably Stealth – will be based on this. However, it’s even more important for the Reach Slayer, as Combat Reflexes gives you extra AoOs depending on your DEX. Bladed Brush users will need this even more.

Constitution (***): CON should always be at least green in every Pathfinder guide. Not dying is always great! Your Fort is based off of this, too.

Intelligence (**): Most of the few DCs you have will be based off of this stat, and it’ll help you be a bit more skillful. You already get 6 skill ranks per level, though, and your DCs are boosted by your Studied Target ability anyway.

Wisdom (**): WIS isn’t very important to you, but if you dump it, you might end up regretting it down the line. Failed Will saves are no joke. The most important skill in the game, Perception, is based off of this too. Dump it with caution.

Charisma (*): You’re not a face. You don’t need to be smooth to win favor with those you meet; you’re going to prove yourself on the field of battle. There are some Rogue talents based off of CHA, granted, but they’re few in number and not very useful. Dump this.

Hammer (***)

(Intimidate)

Any Slayer worth their salt on the battlefield makes for a fearsome foe, but it is only the Intimidation Slayer that weaponizes this fear. Wielding their weapon, they brutalize their foes, terrifying them, leaving them shaken, hampering their combat prowess, beating them down while they cower. They may still fight back, but you know well that their punches have been pulled by the fear gripping their hearts. You exploit this fear, leaving terror and carnage in your wake. 

Intimidation is a somewhat obscure method of combat in Pathfinder that complements the hefty amount of damage you’ll deal with various debuffs, beginning with simply leaving your enemies shaken and progressing to nastier debuffs such as panic or sickness. You’ll also be able to capitalize on your weakened foes with feats such as Shatter Defenses and Hurtful. There are even a couple of intimidation feats exclusive to the Slayer! The feat chains for this build are rather nonlinear and possibly redundant when taken in conjunction with each other, so you must tread carefully whilst building your character. Don’t worry, though – it’ll pay off.

Ability Scores

Strength (*****): You need to be as strong as you can be in order to deal the most damage. It’ll boost your to-hit and damage, and because you’re holding a weapon in two hands, you’ll get even more damage from this score than usual. Some of the feats you’ll take will be based off of this as well.

Dexterity (****): Your DEX won’t be as high as most other Slayers, but your AC, initiative, Ref, as well as a number of important skills – most notably Stealth – will be based on this. You could try to make a Weapon Finesse Intimidation Slayer, but a number of feats – such as Hurtful and Cornugon Smash – only work with STR, so take caution.

Constitution (***): CON should always be at least green in every Pathfinder guide. Not dying is always great! Your Fort is based off of this, too.

Intelligence (**): Most of the few DCs you have will be based off of this stat, and it’ll help you be a bit more skillful. You already get 6 skill ranks per level, though, and your DCs are boosted by your Studied Target ability anyway.

Wisdom (**): WIS isn’t very important to you, but if you dump it, you might end up regretting it down the line. Failed Will saves are no joke. The most important skill in the game, Perception, is based off of this too. Dump it with caution.

Charisma (*): Wait… isn’t Intimidate based on this skill? Why is it still a dump stat? Well… with either Clever Wordplay or Bruising Intellect, you’ll become ever so slightly less MAD.

Prowler (****)

(Dirty Trick)

All’s fair in love and war, and the Dirty Trick Slayer knows this better than anyone else… well, at least about the latter part of it. Their rude and sneaky maneuvers may be frowned upon by warriors  concerned about their own honor, but the Slayer only cares about what brings about results – and they’ve found Dirty Tricks to be very, very effective. Dirty Tricks are considered by many to be the “gold standard” of Combat Maneuvers due to its sheer versatility and power. You can Deafen spellcasters, Shake psychics, Sicken martials… and just about anybody gets easier to sneak attack when they’re Blind. Unlike other Combat Maneuver users, your adaptability makes you able to disable just about anything, when Trip builds are fretting over flying enemies and Disarm builds shake their heads at unarmed foes.

Dirty Trick Slayer builds usually take a while to get off the ground because you’ll need to wait until you’re 6th level to qualify for Greater Dirty Trick to make the action economy of Dirty Trick worthwhile, but if you take the Bounty Hunter archetype, you can start off at 2nd level.
Ability Scores

Strength (*/****): Usually your to-hit, damage, and CMB will be based on this, making it your most important stat. However, Weapon Finesse users can dump this.

Dexterity (****/*): Your AC, initiative, Ref, as well as a number of important skills – most notably Stealth – will be based on this. If you go Weapon Finesse, your to-hit, CMB, and eventually damage will be based off of this, making you more SAD. However, if your GM rules that Weapon Finesse doesn’t confer DEX to CMB, this playstyle becomes much less favorable.

Constitution (***): CON should always be at least green in every Pathfinder guide. Not dying is always great! Your Fort is based off of this, too.

Intelligence (**): Most of the few DCs you have will be based off of this stat, and it’ll help you be a bit more skillful. You already get 6 skill ranks per level, though, and your DCs are boosted by your Studied Target ability anyway.

Wisdom (**): WIS isn’t very important to you, but if you dump it, you might end up regretting it down the line. Failed Will saves are no joke. The most important skill in the game, Perception, is based off of this too. Dump it with caution.

Charisma (*): You’re not a face. You’re not going to be good at making people like you, and with the way you prefer to fight, it’ll be difficult to make good impressions, anyway. There are some Rogue talents based off of CHA, granted, but they’re few in number and not very useful. Dump this.

Changelog

6/8/2017: Started writing the guide. Wrote the Introduction, Roles, and Class Abilities sections. and begun writing the Skills section.

6/9/2017: Completed the Skills section. Started writing The Slayer’s Styles section, beginning with the Two-Handed Weapon and Two-Weapon Fighting subsections.

6/10/2017: Continued The Slayer’s Styles section, adding Archery, Weapon Finesse, Reach, and Intimidate.

6/11/2017: Added Dirty Trick.

6/12/2017: Continued Two-Handed Weapon, completing the Races subsection.

6/14/2017: Continued Two-Handed Weapon, completing the Traits section and beginning the Feats and Archetypes sections.

6/26/2017: Continued Two-Handed Weapon, continuing the Archetype section.

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