Archivist Handbookor was it prayerbook?Archivist web preview (Heroes of Horror excerpt)
"You can either sell me the cursed stele, or you can wait for its original owner to come for it. The choice is yours."
-- Anselmo Durod, proctor abbot of the Hallowed Doctrine
An archivist is a wielder of divine magic, similar to a cleric only in the type and nature of the magic at his command. Indeed, the archivist has more in common with the wizard than he does with the standard servant of the divine, due to the scholarly way in which he collects and maintains his spell selection. Archivists seek out esoteric sources of divine lore, wherever those sources might be, securing those secrets for themselves and their fellow scholars.Why Archivist?
Why not just play a cleric? Or a wizard? You will not be getting all cleric spells for free, nor any turning undead or domain special abilites, and you won't be able to get all arcane spells. But: You can get all cleric spells, and you can get many arcane spells. Aswell as druid spells, adept spells, Nentyar hunter spells, you name it. You won't be getting spells from two domains, you will be getting spells from all of them. This is incredibly powerful. The possibilities are endless.
"Archivists can be very flexible. You get healing from cleric lists, utility from domains, and blasting mainly from the Druid list. Druids have a number of very useful evocation spells that have nice side-effects." (pfooti)Pros
• You can cast any divine spell in the game!
• Light and medium armor proficiency.
• Better hit dice than a wizard
• More spells per day than a wizard
• Dark Knowledge
• Only two levels where you don’t gain some sort of special ability
• More skill points than you know what to do with
• Two good saves
• Bonus feats
• All knowledge skills are class skillsCons
• Worst BAB available (Fixable with a DMM persistent Divine Might)
• Bad reflex saves.
• Only d6 HP / level makes them relatively fragile.
• No familiar
• No undead turning (without prestige classing)
• No prestige classes that you can go into without delaying class abilities.
• Potential MAD
• No heavy armor or shield proficiencies
• Dependency on a prayer book.
• The DM directly controls how powerful you are (see below)
Before you decide to play an Archivist, there are some questions you will want answered about the campaign. Here are some of them you will want to ask:Q:
What material will be allowed in this campaign?
An archivist, more than almost any other class, has a power level that is directly proportional to how many options are allowed in the campaign. The more divine spells there are, the wider your spell list is. Here are a list of thing that if allowed, will affect your power:
• Adepts – This NPC class gives access to some divine spells earlier than most PC classes.
• Any sort of cheap trick to get any Sorcerer/Wizard spell as a divine spell – I’m not talking about domains that grant wizard spells as divine spells, but class features that allow virtually any Sorcerer/Wizard spell as a divine spell. Some examples of this include Divine Magician variant, Hexer PrC, and Favored Souls of Bahamut/Tiamat.
• Divine Bard – This variant found in Unearthed Arcana or the online SRD allows you to add any bard spell to the spell list.
• Warlock or Pre-errata Artificers – Level 12 Warlocks or Pre-errata Artificers can create any divine spell in the game. A PC like that in your party can be a valuable asset to your Archivist.
• Any non-core divine casting class – Shugenja, Favoured Soul, Healer, and Spirit Shaman for example.
• Divine Prestige Classes that add more spells to the class’s spell list.
• Any Domains – According to Sage Advice, divine spells from domains are fine. (see below)
How does buying items work in this campaign?
In some campaigns, buying an obscure scroll is as easy as a trip to the supermarket. In other campaigns, there might not be a lot of some of the more obscure classes running around or making scrolls. It might be worth it to invest ranks in gather information just because of this scenario.Q:
Should you be worried about terrible things happening to your prayer book?
This is more a question you should ask yourself (no reason to give your DM any ideas). Maybe investing in some sort of failsafe system would be a good idea (More ideas welcome).
Worst Base Attack Bonus
d6 Hit Die
Good Fortitude and Will saves
4+int skill points
Everything being better or equal compared to a wizard, and you're more skillfull than a cleric.
Archivists tend to be slightly MAD since they have two ability scores affecting your spellcasting.Intelligence:
The most important one, your spellcasting (with the exception of bonus spells per day) is based off of this stat. Your skill points and knowledge checks are based off this stat too. Try to keep it as high as possible.Constitution:
Close second with wisdom in importance, but HP and concentration checks are probably more important in the long run than 1 extra spell/day.Wisdom:
Still important as Wisdom controls your will saves and your bonus spells per day. The latter can be replaced with dex if you play an Uurkrau Illumian.Dexterity:
It's nice for reflex save (your only bad save) and ranged touch attacks, don't dump it unless you're using a really low pointbuy. Special notice to certain Illumians have the ability to use dex as the stat on which bonus spells are based.Charisma:
Your points are most likely spent better elsewhere. The only real use for it is if you gain turn undead as a sacred exorcist or something.Strength:
You're probably gonna have to dump this, even if it affects your touch attacks.
Class AbilitiesWeapon and Armor Proficiencies:
Archivists are proficient with all simple weapons and with light and medium armor, but not with shields.Spells:
This is what makes archivist one of the big five. Thou shalt not give up caster levels.Dark Knowledge:
Similar to bardic music. Exept it's activated with a move action. Very nice.
You roll high enough on a certain skill check and your entire group get’s bonuses. A Knowledge (arcana) check reveals secrets of magical beasts, Knowledge (dungeoneering) pertains to aberrations, Knowledge (religion) covers undead, and Knowledge (the planes) applies to outsiders and elementals. The DC of the check is 15. Most of the archivist's dark knowledge abilities increase in effectiveness if he succeeds on his Knowledge check by 10 or more. Dark knowledge can only be used once against any given creature.
This is what makes it worth staying in the archivist for at least 11 levels, when you get Dread Secret.Scribe Scroll:
as wizards, archivists get this for free. It is important to note that if a person of another class approaches you, can scribe a scroll off their spell list if they describe it to you.Bonus Feats:
also similar to wizards, although only half as often.Still Mind:
Better than nothing. Even though your will save is probably good as it is.Lore Mastery:
Bonus to knowledge checks is always good.
You're gonna look for races with intelligence bonus (but without a constitution or wisdom loss) or the almighty bonus feat races.Humans:
Bonus feat and bonus skills. Probably your best bet. This has been said too many times.Strongheart Halflings:
-2 Str, +2 Dex. Small size and also comes with a bonus feat. Campaign specific though.Lesser Tiefling:
+2 Int, +2 Dex, -2 Cha. With Charisma being a dump stat, this is very good.Lesser Fire Genasi:
+2 Int, -2 Cha. Also a decent choice.Illumian:
Deserve a special notice, for the ability to swap wisdom for dexterity for bonus spells and by taking Sigil Focus (krau), you can gain early access to some prestiege classes.Fire Elf:
+2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Con, -2 Cha. The -Con hurts, but this is not that bad of a choice.Silvanesti:
+2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Con, -2 Cha. Same as above.Sun Elf:
+2 Int, -2 Con. There are better choices, but if you love elves..Gray Elf:
-2 Str, +2 Dex, -2 Con, +2 Int. Same as above.Deep Imaskari:
+2 Int, -2 Dex. I'm not too familiar with these guys tbh, looks good on paper.Venerable Dragonwrought Kobold:
-4 Str +2 Dex -2 Con +3 Int +3 Wis +3 Cha. Small. Yes please. (Takanaki)Whisper Gnome:
+2 Dex, +2 Con, -2 Str, -2 Cha. Small and a ton of other goodies. Also allows access to the gnome feat, Trivial Knowledge
-2 Str, +2 Int, +2 Wis. Climb 20 ft, (Note: in a 3.5 oriental adventures update found in Dragon magazine, vanara were updated to no longer have any ability score adjustments.)Dwarves, elves and gnomes
of all kind have an additional allure: they have a racial feat each that is immensely helpful to any Archivist. Dwarves get Ancestral Knowledge
, which is a bit of a back and forther -- WIS to Knowledge skills means you might have to take som points out of INT or lose your mod, but the ability to use all Knowledge skills untrained is great if you're taking feats that broaden Dark Knowledge. The elven feat Elf Dilettante
gets you the untrained allowance AND a +1 bonus to boot. The gnome feat, Trivial Knowledge
, is more powerul for the more focused Archivist: it allows rolling 2d20 drop lowest for all Knowledge checks. This is great at low levels for Dark Knowledge, and can serve you at higher levels for things like the Knowledge Domain feat. Each feat can be found in its respective race's Races of book.
Even though you're being a bit less squishy than a wizard, you should stay in the back. Remember that you're playing a buffing class, much like the bard, so help your party members.Levels 1-3:
Light crossbow, dark knowledge (tactics) and healing is probably what you're gonna be doing in the beginning. You won't be doing much damage, but can make sure your friends are. Spells like Creeping Cold, Alter Self, Heroism and Scorching Ray becomes available.Levels 4-5:
You'll hopefully by now aquired a couple of nice spells from different non-clerical sources, and starting to become the spellcasting powerhouse you really are. Dark knowledge (puissance) becomes availiable, and might be useful in a few situations. Classic spells like Fly and Dispel Magic becomes available aswell as alternative spells like Shivering Touch, Lightning Bolt and Freedom of Movement.Levels 6-10:
More and more spells. Thats pretty much it. This is where you're starting to outshine the non-casters in the party, but dont stop buffing them because of that. You can cast spells and do that at the same time, no problem. Game-changers like Divine Power, Polymorph, Teleport and Heal should be added to your repertoire.Levels 11+:
You can now stun targets with no save or SR as a move action. If you're gonna PrC out of the class, now is the time to do it. Otherwise, just continue advancing, archivist 20 is good as it is.
Since you're going to have a bunch of maxed knowledge skills, you might aswell use them. Check with your DM if the damage applies to spells.Spontaneous Healing:
Without any other healer in the party this might be worth it to use the spell slots for more useful things. Wether you actually need to have the said cure spells in your prayerbook or not to use them is unclear.Touch of Healing:
Unliiimited heaaling! More seriously, this is good if you're the only divine caster in the party.Improved Initiative:
Winning initiative is important for the archivist, both to get the dark knowledge off before your party gets to act, and for area spells that otherwise might hurt your party members.Heighten Spell:
Always good to cast at +1CL. (DarkSyn)Collegiate Wizard:
A slight adaptation is required, check with your DM before putting this in your build. (DarkSyn)Spontaneous Summoner
: As a prepared caster, the ability to spontaneously cast sets of spells is a godsend. (Viletta Vadim)Domain Spontaneity
: Same as above. (Viletta Vadim)Elder Giant Magic:
Good especially for all day/long lasting buffs.Augment Healing:
Might be worth it if you're the only one that can heal.Mastery of Day and Night:
Good even though it requires Maximize Spell, which may not be the best feat around.Domain substitution:
Switch your domain to another domain for days/level as a level two spell. Useful if you don't want to buy a Forcecage scroll for 27k, change to the force domain and write one yourself for 2.2k and a kobold's worth of XP. (Takanaki)Leadership:
Good for most PCs, get a cleric, druid or some other divine spellcaster to share spells with.Ancestral Knowledge:
Dwarf only. See the Races section.Elf Dilettante:
Elf only (duh!). See the Races section.Trivial Knowledge:
Gnome only. See the Races section.Breadth of Knowledge:
A free point in every knowledge for one feat, most likely better then the +2/+2 feats.Jack of all Trades:
Every skill is usable as if it had 1/2 rank in each skill. Useful for skill mongers.Insightful Reflexes:
Your reflex saves are your worst saves, Dex is a dump stat and Intelligence is your best modifier. Simple logic, yes?Draconic Archivist:
Very campaign specific if its worth it or not.Archivist of Nature:
Same as above.Shape Soulmeld:
for the Elder Spirit soulmeld.
This is a vital part of the archivist, max as many as you can afford.Concentration:
Max this as every good caster should.Spellcraft:
Should also be maxed out.
The rest of the skills are mostly party specific and optional, if you for example going to be the face of the party, or the healer.Skill tricks
Collector of Stories: A very good skill trick to for an Archivist. Any DM with at least some common sense would rule this to work with Dark knowledge.
Note on DM's power once again: Gather Information
might be usefull if your DM is going to make it tough for you to find scrolls.
EquipmentScrolls of Uncertain Provenance [MIC]:
+5 to all knowledge checks (8,000gp)Tome of Worldly Memory [MIC]:
+5 to 3/day knowledge checks (1,500gp)Credits:
Everyone that helped writing the archived handbook over at WoTC that now is archived, which is incorporated into this guide.Everyone contributing in this thread!Footnote:
Any suggestions or tips much appreciated, this is my first handbook I've ever made, and I consider myself no expert at character optimization.