Vigilante (Pathfinder)

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The Vigilante is a base class in the Pathfinder roleplaying game, unique for its mechanic which allows you to essentially play two different personas at the same time. Though not immediately obvious, you aren't forced to use this feature and the class plays perfectly well without separating your identities. Vigilantes are on the border between tier 4 and 3, with spellcasting archetypes solidly in tier 3. Unlike most such class, they're in it because they excel at out of combat stuff but struggle in it rather than the other way around. This is further complicated by a lot of the good combat abilities being outside their native book.

You want to play a medieval version of Spiderman, Batman or the Hulk? This class can do it for you. You want to build your character like a mild-mannered musician by day but a serial killer by night? This class can do it for you. You want to secretly worship a god, or conceal your necromantic spellcasting ability? This class can do it for you.

What can this class not do for you? Well, it doesn't really do anything in combat that a more dedicated class could not already do. You can give yourself some spellcasting ability equivalent to an Inquisitor or a Magus, but those classes also have class features which make them better at it. That said, it does have a large number of unusual "social powers" that a lot of other classes do not.

You have to balance your primary "Vigilante" persona with your "Social" persona, essentially splitting your character progression down two different and often mutually exclusive tracks. This can dilute your experience especially if you are a Powergamer, but makes for some of the most interesting roleplaying opportunities.

Archetypes & Progression[edit]

For a basic Vigilante, you first have to choose whether you are a Stalker or an Avenger;

  • Stalkers get "Hidden Strike" which is similar to Sneak Attack but crapper, only dealing full damage when an opponent is unaware of you and reduces it down to d4s when you flank an opponent. Stalkers also get access to a different variety of talents, including most of the Rogue talents, which allows them to become sneaky buggers.
  • On the other hand, Avengers get a full BAB progression and access to more combat-focused talents, like being more mobile in armor.

Every other level you get to choose a Social talent, which provides a benefit to your social persona, allowing your character to behave much more like a "Face" for the group, or makes your character a more effective professional, giving you more renown and better crafting checks, or allows you to disguise yourself and/or change guises more quickly.

To be honest, the sheer variety of options available to Vigilantes are staggering. Even without choosing an archetype you can build your character in a huge combination of ways ensuring that your character will be completely unlike anyone else in the group. This sort of openness makes the Vigilante ripe for 3PP, giving an even more massive array of archetypes and talents to make it more like other classes.

When you start considering Archetypes things open up even more: For the most part, the "basic" class has little to no spellcasting ability beyond the option of choosing to learn a few 0- or 1st level spells. By choosing archetypes such as "Warlock", "Zealot", "Magical Child" or "Cabalist" you can give yourself a partial spell progression equivalent to a Magus, Inquisitor or Summoner. In some cases, you can also gain a Familiar who comes with their own social/vigilante persona and changes with you, giving you an animal side-kick. These archetypes also come with some of their own unique class features that are difficult to find anywhere else, such as the Warlock's ability to fling elemental bolts at will and permanently sheath their vigilante forms in said energy, damaging anyone who comes into contact with you. Or the Cabalist's ability to inflict bleeding damage as part of sneak attacks and jump through shadows like a Shadowdancer.

If you're still looking for something different, then Archetypes such as "Brute" or "Wildsoul" might be down your street. The Vigilante personal for the "Brute" is practically Marvel's Hulk, coming to the surface whenever you get threatened, increasing your size and reducing your ability to perform mental tasks. While the Wildsoul gives you superhero options such as becoming Spiderman (complete with webshooters and spider sense), or Hawkman (gaining wings in your vigilante persona). On the other end, if you want to fit the class into a fantasy setting with minimal fuss "Faceless Enforcer" fits the archetype of a warrior who keeps his true identity masked by his armor.

Coupled with the fact that either persona can be built upon without sacrificing the other half of your progression; whether you're playing a Barbarian or Paladin who wants an advantage in social situations while continuing to gain fighter talents, or a Bard/Rogue who is looking for some more potent spellcasting or combat ability. As mentioned, the Vigilante cannot do anything as well as a dedicated class, but offers a well-rounded progression that benefits players who want to attempt a bit of everything. Despite this, if you are paying attention to your progression you don't need to feel like you are playing two half-characters, since many of the abilities add additional benefits at that scale with level for both your Social and Vigilante personas. For example: In some cases where you might only get one bonus feat at a particular level will actually become two or three bonus feats later on, meaning the more effort you put into Vigilante the greater return on investment you receive.

Put frankly, the Vigilante class is one of the most unpredictable options available to players whether they only take a "dip" in the class for a few levels or take it all the way to the end, since only a few of the archetypes have "final" class features which require constant investement.

The Classes of Pathfinder
Core Classes: Barbarian - Bard - Cleric - Druid - Fighter - Monk
Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Sorcerer - Wizard
Player's Guide:
Alchemist - Antipaladin - Cavalier
Inquisitor - Oracle - Summoner - Witch
Class Guide:
Arcanist - Bloodrager - Brawler - Hunter - Investigator
Shaman - Skald - Slayer - Swashbuckler - Warpriest
Kineticist - Medium - Mesmerist
Occultist - Psychic - Spiritualist
Ultimate X: Gunslinger - Magus - Ninja - Samurai - Shifter - Vigilante