Kevin has been playing tabletop games for almost as long as he can remember and currently edits for Jon Brazer Enterprises.
Spellcasters can be some of the most difficult opponents to tackle in Pathfinder. Their wide variety of options allows them to easily lay waste to any unprepared group. To make matters worse, thematically, spellcasters are common foes in many campaigns. If your DM’s nefarious wizards have you down, you can’t go wrong with the spellbreaker inquisitor archetype (Ultimate Combat). Specializing in surviving against spellcasters and making it difficult for them to cast spells, spellbreakers are welcome allies in many parties.
1st Level Abilities
At 1st level, the spellbreaker gains strong-willed, an ability every fighter and rogue should envy. Whenever the spellbreaker makes a Will saving throw against a mind-affecting spell or effect, he can roll twice and take the best result. This gives the spellbreaker an added level of protection against things like dominate person and fear and other spells that can really decimate a group. Though the spellbreaker gives up monster lore for strong-willed, the trade is most definitely worth it.
3rd Level Abilities
The spellbreaker gains two abilities at 3rd level that replace his bonus teamwork feats and solo tactics: defense against magic and foil casting.
Defense against magic lets the spellbreaker choose a school of magic and gain a saving throw bonus against arcane spells of that school. Every four levels after that, he can choose another school and his saving throw bonus increases. We’ll take a look at your school choices for this ability in more detail below.
Foil casting makes the spellbreaker better at disrupting casting. Concentration checks made to cast defensively in his threatened area have their DCs by +2, and anytime he hits a caster with a ranged attack, all of that spellcaster’s Concentration check DCs increase by +2 for one round as well. To add icing to the cake, foil casting stacks with the Disruptive feat (which the spellbreaker can gain by choosing the Spellkiller inquisition from Ultimate Combat). With foil casting and Disruptive, the spellbreaker increases the casting defensively DC by a whopping +6. Unlike the fighter, you can’t gain the Spellbreaker feat, though.
20th Level Abilities
At 20th level, the spellbreaker gives up final judgment to gain impervious: He becomes immune to all arcane spell effects of the first school he chose for defense against magic. This immunity does apply to helpful spells as well, which is why it’s important to choose your first school carefully for defense against magic (if you’re planning on playing to 20th level, anyway). Once per day, the spellbreaker can also grant this immunity to allies within 60 feet for one minute.
Arcane Schools and Defense Against Magic
You should be worried about some schools of magic more than others when you’re deciding what to choose for your defense against magic ability. This is especially true if gaining impervious is likely in your campaign, since you’ll become immune to helpful spells of your first chosen school as well as the harmful ones. The following schools are the ones you should be the most worried about:
- Conjuration: Conjuration includes very dangerous spells like stinking cloud and cloudkill, making it a solid choice once these spells become a threat. However, most other conjuration spells don’t allow saving throws, so you may not get a lot of mileage from this choice. Choosing conjuration at 7th level can work well, as stinking cloud just became available and cloudkill might become worrisome soon. That having been said, enchantment and necromancy are probably much more dangerous spells overall.
- Enchantment: With spells like charm person and dominate person, spellcasting enemies can turn you against your group. You’re also uniquely in a position to really hamper your own spellcasters, so you definitely don’t want to succumb to any of these spells. Other noticeable enchantment effects include hold person and confusion. If you choose enchantment for impervious, you’ll become immune to heroism, but the morale bonuses that spell grants are easily reproduced by a bard.
- Evocation: If you find yourself taking big damage from area of effect spells because of your moderate Reflex save, evocation can be a good choice for defense against magic. The most dangerous arcane spells aren’t generally in the evocation school, though, so there are probably better schools to choose. If your DM is really fond of the spellslinger (or blasters in general), evocation can be a much stronger choice for defense against magic.
- Illusion: Illusions can really give a group trouble under the right circumstances. If you fail a Will save against a silent image of a wall, for instance, a wizard can separate you from your party with a simple 1st level spell, all the way up to 20th level. Illusion can be a good choice for that reason alone. If you become impervious to illusion spells, you do become immune to invisibility and useful buffs like blur, so illusion probably isn’t the best choice for your first school.
- Necromancy: Though many necromancy spells target your good saving throws, their effects can be devastating. Fear spells, death effects, and really strong debuffs (like blindness or ray of exhaustion) are all necromancy effects. Necromancy is also a great choice for your first defense against magic school, as it doesn’t have any beneficial spells you’d be sorry to lose if you ever became impervious to the school.
- Transmutation: Most transmutation effects are beneficial, so you don’t want to choose it as your first school if gaining impervious is likely in your campaign. Better saving throws against slow and disintegrate may be useful in your game, though, if your DM’s sorcerers and wizards are fond of these spells.
This sample build focuses on ranged combat, as the Snapshot line (which you can take starting at level 9) allows you to make good use of both aspects of foil casting. At lower levels, before you have access to Snap Shot, though, it can’t hurt to have a melee weapon at the ready with which to threaten spellcasters with. For a domain, most spellbreakers will likely want the Spellkiller inquisition if it’s available to them because the free Disruptive feat is very hard to pass up.
Human Inquisitor (Spellbreaker) 5
Ability Scores (15 Point Buy): Str 10, Dex 17, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 8
Feats and Abilities
1 Disruptive (bonus), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot
3 Rapid Shot, defense against magic (necromancy +1)
5 Deadly Aim
After 5th level, I recommend looking into the Snap Shot line of feats, which means you’ll want Weapon Focus (a prerequisite) and Combat Reflexes (to make use of your new threatened area). Because of your lower base attack bonus, you can’t get all of these feats until 13th level, so it can definitely be worth it to instead focus on a reach weapon. As always, this build is only one possible way to use the spellbreaker.
There are also other “magic-hating” inquisitor archetypes aside from the spellbreaker, but the spellbreaker stands out as the most capable. In any campaign full of arcane enemies, you can’t go wrong with it. You’ll definitely be better equipped at dealing with such foes than the rest of your party (unless perhaps your best friend is a superstitious barbarian).