Right, blog time! Jeremy here to break down the what's and the why's of your favourite Magus. But first I need to explain a bit about how I go about building a character.
On a scale of 1-10 of optimisation I usually sit around 5 or 6.
I like a bit of optimisation.
It's not really that important to me.
And I'm bad at it.
So keep that in mind, and let me know what you think!
So, the basics. I'm a 17 year old half orc, a biological woman but don't identify as either male or female, and appears pretty androgynous. Rik is named after, and inspired by, a person close to me in real life who is no longer with us.
I chose the Sponsored by Family background. Rik's dad is kind of a jerk who had no real use for them, and was happy to send them off training at the age of 12. When Rik later desired to attend the Magaambya the family money came through and off they went!
I personally love the Magus concept, and given that Secrets of Magic was released just before we started recording the show it was a no brainer for me. I prefer melee characters generally, and I really dug the idea of a staff fighter with reach, so Twisting Tree was the Hybrid Study for me! The downside of that choice is that the focus spell, Spinning Staff, doesn't really interact all that well with Spellstrike. In terms of action economy and maximising Spellstrike, what you really want to do is Spellstrike, then something else cool which recharges the Spellstrike as well, OR the reverse. With Spinning Staff, you're getting two attacks at -10 AFTER a Spellstrike (plus recharging it) or you end up making your Spellstrike at -10! Hell no. But you take the good with the bad.
Ability scores were HARD! Strength 18 and Intelligence 16 doesn't leave you much to work with if you don't wanna nerf yourself heavily in one or more stats. And I'm a frontline combatant. Ended up deciding that having a +1 dex was better than a +1 con. Will have to see how that goes! To mitigate that somewhat I took Toughness at level 1.
So level 2 is a big level for Rikdahn. Unlike martial characters, casters in 2E don't get a class feat at 1st level, so here was my first chance to grab extra goodies from Magus! There was only one real choice here for me - Expansive Spellstrike. It allows me to use Spellstrike with area effect spells instead of single targets. Opens up a whole new world of variety and helps break away from the mold of 'single target damage dealer'. The rules for it are a little complex so I'll need to keep my Secrets of Magic book open when I use this feat!
I also got to choose a skill feat this level. There are a lot of choices available here and after an exhaustive search (not really lol) I took Trick Magic Item. The feat allows a chance to use magic items that usually would be forbidden to me for one reason or another. This was mainly because I personally have never seen it in play, but also - a little metagamey here - given the nature of this Adventure Path I expect to see all kinds of weird and wonderful items come through and I want the opportunity to use things I wouldn't normally be able to.
This AP offers a limited version of the free archetype rule in that you get one - but it has to be Wizard or Druid, in keeping with Magaambya traditions. It was a pretty obvious choice for me to take Wizard here. My stats line up, I gained a handful more cantrips, and later on it opens up the opportunity for gaining more daily spells, which I think will be vital for versatility in the adventures to come!
I picked up a couple of spells of first level as well, but all the attention is going to what I think will be a real mainstay of Rik's through a lot of their career - True Strike. It's a one action cast that gives you effectively DnD 5e advantage on your next attack roll to try your best to land the shot that really HAS to land. Roll the attack twice, take the better result. Golden! At some point I hope to find or buy a divination staff so I don't have to keep taking up a spell slot with True Strike, but until that time.....
And then we get to level 3! Odd numbered levels are great for casters - even partial casters like a Magus! New spells baby!
I gained 2 second level spells of my choice. I can only prepare one at this stage, and I wanted to give myself the option for some area damage and also inflicting some conditions which is vital in PF2. For this purpose I chose Vomit Swarm! I can spew forth a multitude of vermin from my mouth (or on a Spellstrike) in a 30' cone, that'll do some damage but more importantly inflict the Sickened condition on enemies that fail the save. Sickened is great because it is a -1 to everything and they have to spend an action to have a chance to remove it, and that's not even guaranteed to work!
The second spell I chose is Blood Vendetta, which is a reaction cast that can hurt someone who has just hurt me. Off turn damage is, and always has been, gold plated awesome.
We got the Magaambyan Attendant dedication feat for free which gave us a skill training and a new cantrip from either the Arcane or Primal school. I got so many Arcane cantrips I'd be down to about my 15th choice or so at this point, and I wanted to reflect Rik's learning in this choice, so I picked up the Stabilise cantrip from the Primal school, enabling me to have a chance to save a friend in combat if I have to. I also took Nature as a trained skill.
We got skill training as well, so I could learn a new skill or advance one to expert. This was a real no brainer, Arcana went up to expert which will help with Study checks for my primary branch and a whole lotta other stuff.
Last but not least, we got a general feat! This is an area really lacking in PF2, and there are about 3 really optimal choices - Incredible Initiative, Fleet, and something else I can't remember right now lol so of course I didn't take those. This is tricky so listen carefully. Remember I said earlier that casters don't get a level 1 class feat the same way martials do? Well there's one I really wanted called Magus's Analysis, but I would have really struggled to give up a higher level feat choice to go backward to get it. So it went like this - I chose Ancestral Paragon which gave me the opportunity to select a 1st level Ancestry feat. With that I chose Natural Ambition which let me take a 1st level Class feat, which was Magus's Analysis. That lets me roll a Recall Knowledge check for 1 action, with a bonus if I previously hit it, and if I succeed not only do I learn stuff, I recharge my Spellstrike! I enjoy feats like this that help action economy but do rely on a die roll.