The Archivist is a class in 3.5e Dungeons & Dragons introduced in the book Heroes of Horror and available for free as part of the book's preview excerpts, a hunter of mystical lore and knowledge both holy and unholy, a scholar of divine power. Archivists hunt down anything containing magical lore and copy it, for use amongst other scholars. The Archivist is also one of the six most powerful classes in the game because of its truly massive arsenal of spells they have potential access to.
Indexing the Multiverse
Despite being a divine caster the Archivist has no special healing powers. Sure, they can heal but they need to use their daily slots for that. Instead, they get DARK KNOWLEDGE. Being students of Lore Man Was Not Meant To Learn they become experts on aberrations, elementals, magical beasts, outsiders and undead (and Dragons and Constructs or Fey and Giants as well, if you take the proper feats). They can use this knowledge to shout hints at their party to better kick those fucks in the balls:
- Tactics: The party gets bonuses on their attack rolls to better kick those fucks in the balls.
- Puissance: The party gets bonuses on their saving throws to those fucks kicking them in the balls.
- Foe: The party gets 1d6 bonus damage when they kick a single one of those fucks in the balls.
- Dread Secret: The Archivist says a terrible secret (likely balls-related) about the target so that it becomes dazzled, dazed or stunned, allowing for that fuck to be better kicked in the balls.
- Foreknowledge: The party gets bonuses to their AC, allowing them to better defend themselves against being kicked in the balls by one of those fucks attacking them.
The Archivist starts out with being able to do use Tactics three times a day, eventually unlocking all of them and becoming able to use these powers nine times per day. This check is made on a DC15 Knowledge (Arcana, Dungeoneering, Nature, Religion or The Planes) check: if they pass the power works. If they pass these checks with a 25+ or a 35+ these powers become more potent: bonuses go from +1 to +2 or +3 or the effects become more serious. As the Archivist levels they four times gain a +2 bonus on any of their knoweldge checks, and a +2 Decipher Script bonus the first time. They also get a one-time +2 bonus on saves agains the school of Enchantment for some reason, and an extra feat at levels 10 and 20 for a skill or spell focus or a metamagic- or item creation feat.
But that's not what you're here for. The main feature of the Archivist is that they're a divine spellcaster who can learn their spells on their own and record them in a spellbook much like a Wizard. They gain a good deal of spells per day too: 4 level 0 and 5 for all the remaining levels for a massive repertoire of 49 spells per day before any bonuses from their attributes. INT is by far the most important stat for the Archivist: it improves their skills and their spellcasting at the same time. Make sure to take the Academic Priest feat from Legend of the Twins (an obscure Dragonlance book) that allows Divine casters to use their INT instead of their WIS for bonus spells to become SAD.
The Archivist is unique in that they learn their spells (aside from the one they get from leveling up) from external sources, much like the Erudite does, but instead of learning from the minds or treasures of their enemies, they learn from scrolls and other written sources. This means that the Archivist has to personally dig into long-forgotten tombs, dungeons and other Places Man Was Not Meant To Go and copy whatever he finds (according to the regular rules regarding copying spells from other sources; have fun hanging upside down from your ankles for 24+ hours while you copy the text written on the side of a tunnel going straight down into the Underdark).
So why is this so broken?
First off, while the Archivist lacks the class features of the Cleric and and all class-specific bonuses they get, the Archivist gets a few perks regarding his series of spells. Namely, the Archivist has access to ALL Divine spells. This includes everything on the Cleric List... and ALL the domain spells as well, alongside everything Druids, (Anti-)Paladins, and Rangers can cast as well as the NPC class Adept can cast (some of which are obtained earlier than the PC classes)! Just the core divine casters alone, which the Archivist was fully intended to get, are enough to make the Archivist broken. This gets worse when things like the Divine Bard class are allowed. This gives the Archivist a potential repertoire of spells beyond what even the Spell-to-Power Erudite or a Rainbow Servant Wizard can cast. If going by a temple or library where they have Divine spells written down, the Archivist can, with enough time and money, write entire books worth of spells so that he can be ready for anything a Divine caster can run into.
The problem with this is that to become powerful you really depend on what your DM allows you to get away with. The amount of scrolls you'll get as loot is always limited, and there's only so much your DM will give you before calling bullshit and starts to limit you. And Druids and Rangers are not very inclined to write their knowledge down, so you'll meet some problems there. Overall, this class can be quite a bit of fun, but requires close cooperation with your DM to get something done with it. Even if the GM does hose you, just Cleric spells are enough to be tier one (that is all the Cleric gets after all).
The Forgotten Realms has the Anyspell and Greater Anyspell Domain Spells which give new ways to utterly break this class. They let you fill that spell slot with an arcane spell of lower level so everything under Wizard 5 or less is fair game. Take a level of Wizard or the Magical Training regional feat and have access to over half of the available arcane spells by copying spell books. Eberron wisely made it so that scrolls created by an Artificer were neither arcane nor divine to avoid breaking this class even further.