Pathfinder Best Traits For Every Class

Pathfinder Best Traits
Traits make the man.

What Are The Best Pathfinder Traits for your character?

Picking your Traits is often, for me at least, one of the last things one does when making a new Pathfinder character. While a vast majority of Traits offer distinct bits of flavor to add to your roleplaying, just as many offer incredible mechanical advantages. This list contains two of the best choices of Traits for every class in the game; for the sake of concision Unchained classes and NPC classes will not be included.

It is worth pointing out that this is being estimated in a vacuum, depending on your game it may be more worth it to take Traits with more situational bonuses or Traits that impact Skills. As is always the case, communicate with your DM to find what Traits will work best in your specific game.

Alchemist

Damiel, Pathfinder iconic elf Alchemist.

The bog-standard non-Archetype Alchemist is a unique class to say the least. Able to fill a wide range of rolls: blasting, healing, striking, and even support. The Alchemist’s two most iconic abilities, Bombs and Mutagens, are what is to thank for this strange assortment of abilities and powers.

Two of the best Traits for an Alchemist are “Firebug” and “Indomitable Faith.”

Best Trait

  • Firebug
  • “Firebug” is a combat trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to attack rolls made with thrown splash weapons and alchemical bombs.

Why it’s the best trait for Alchemist:

If you are playing an Alchemist that makes heavy use of their bombs this Trait is equivalent to taking the “Weapon Focus” feat, which it stacks with for even more bonuses on your attack rolls.

2nd Best Trait

  • Indomitable Faith
  • “Indomitable Faith” is a faith trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to Will saving throws.

Why it’s the second best trait for Alchemist:

Will is Alchemist’s “bad save” so any extra bit helps. It is worth noting that there are a handful of other traits that provide a bonus to Will saving throws, so if the flavor provided by “Indomitable Faith” doesn’t suit your character you can look into another trait that does.

Antipaladin

Urgraz, Pathfidner's iconic duergar Antipaladin.

The Antipaladin is more or less mechanically identical to the Paladin, but the difference in their abilities is identical to their difference in alignment. The Antipaladin trades out the Paladin’s healing and supportive abilities in favor of additional damage output and debuffing options.

Two of the best traits for an Antipaladin are “Influence” and “Magical Knack.”

Best Trait

  • Influence
  • “Influence” is a social trait that allows you to add a +1 trait bonus to either Diplomacy, Intimidate, or Sense Motive skill checks. The chosen skill becomes a Class Skill.

Why it's the best trait for Antipaladin:

As Bluff and Intimidate are already Class Skills for the Antipaladin, it is recommended that you take Diplomacy to make all the “face skills” into Class Skills.

2nd Best Trait

  • Magical Knack
  • “Magical Knack” is a magic trait that provides a +2 trait bonus to your Caster Level in a chosen class; this cannot raise your caster level above your current Hit Dice.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Antipaladin:

While it may not be the most apparent grab for an Antipaladin, this +2 adds hours to your buffing and debuffing options.

Arcanist

Enora, Pathfinder's iconic halfling Arcanist.

The Arcanist is a unique take on arcane spell casting. They prepare their spells every morning like a Wizard and then cast them using spell slots like a Sorcerer. This gives Arcanists versatility, power, and makes them into a great option for those that are new to spell casting.

Two of the best Traits for an Arcanist are “Reactionary” and “Hedge Magician”

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Arcanist:

Going first in combat is a massive boon, even more so for spell casters. The earlier you can take your turn in the combat the earlier you can drop a massive buff on your party, begin engaging in crowd control spells, or throw out a Fireball before your enemies scatter.

2nd Best Trait

  • Hedge Magician
  • “Hedge Magician” is a magic trait that reduces the gp cost to craft magic items by 5%.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Arcanist:

While 5% may not seem like much, it adds up fairly quickly. 5% of the crafting cost of a +1 weapon can net you a 1st-level potion or two 1st-level scrolls.

Barbarian

Amiri, Pathfinder's iconic human Barbarian.

The Barbarian is a melee powerhouse, with defensive options on par with a Fighter and striking options on par with a melee-based Ranger; but rather than through mastery at arms or a supreme knowledge of their environment, the Barbarian would simply like to rage. Barbarians tend to be glass cannons, in spite of their weighty d12 Hit Die, so make sure you bring a healer along with you or keep a sack full of potions handy.

Two of the best traits for a Barbarian are “Berserker of the Society” and “Indomitable Faith.”

Best Trait

  • Berserker of the Society
  • “Berserker of the Society” is a combat trait that lets you use your “Rage” Class Feature for an additional three rounds a day.

Why it's the best trait for Barbarian:

Given that “Rage” is one of the Barbarians most iconic and useful abilities, having even more if it is only ever a good thing.

2nd Best Trait

  • Indomitable Faith
  • “Indomitable Faith” is a faith trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to Will saving throws.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Barbarian:

Will is your worst save and failing a Will save is often a nightmare scenario for a Barbarian. While a +1 may not seem like much, it can mean the difference between hitting the evil spell caster with your weapon or being dominated and hitting your party instead.

Bard

Lem, Pathfinder's iconic halfling Bard.

The Bard is among the most versatile classes in the game, truly exemplifying a “jack of all trades” style. While the Bard is capable of filling just about any party role, their most iconic abilities focus on defense and support.

Two of the best traits for a Bard are “Reactionary” and “Maestro of the Society.”

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Bard:

As Bard is a heavily support-based class, going early in combat is always better. The sooner you can establish your myriad of buffs on your party members the better.

2nd Best Trait

  • Maestro of the Society
  • “Maestro of the Society” is a social trait that allows you to use your Bardic Performance class feature for an additional three rounds a day.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Barbarian:

Bardic Performances, mainly Inspire Courage, are the most iconic abilities a Bard has. Being able to use that ability for longer periods of time is always a good thing.

Bloodrager

Crowe, Pathfinder's iconic human Bloodrager.

The Bloodrager is a “Hybrid Class” that merges the Barbarian and Sorcerer classes into a strange and wonderful amalgamation. With a full BAB progression, access to medium armor, a Rage class feature similar to the Barbarian’s, and a modest collection of spells the Bloodrager serves quite well as a frontline striker or defender.

Two of the best traits for a Bloodrager are “Desperate Focus” and “Deft Dodger.”

Best Trait

  • Desperate Focus
  • “Desperate Focus” is a magic trait that provides a +2 trait bonus to concentration checks.

Why it's the best trait for Bloodrager:

The Bloodrager is built to be a gish, so when that inevitable time comes when you have to cast defensively or you’ve eaten an attack while concentrating on a spell, you’re going to want to have every boost to your concentration checks that you can get.

2nd Best Trait

  • Deft Dodger
  • “Deft Dodger” is a combat trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to Reflex saves.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Bloodrager:

Reflex and Will are both “bad saves” for the Bloodrager. While the Bloodrager has in-built ways of dealing with their poor Will saves, Reflex is something they will need to look outside of their class to remedy.

Brawler

Kess, Pathfinder's iconic human Brawler.

The Brawler is a novel take on unarmed combat that isn’t limited by the Monk’s Ki Pool. With access to a staggering amount of feats and an almost limitless number of build options the Brawler is a class that rewards doing your homework.

Two of the best traits for a Brawler are “Indomitable Faith” and “Martial Manuscript.”

Best Trait

  • Indomitable Faith
  • “Indomitable Faith” is a faith trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to Will saving throws.

Why it's the best trait for Brawler:

Will is your worst save and you want to remedy that as much as you can. On that chance that you fail a Will save and end up Confused or even worse Dominated you will be forced to watch your party look on in horror as you turn your multitude of options on them.

2nd Best Trait

  • Martial Manuscript
  • “Martial Manuscript” is a faith trait that provides a +2 trait bonus to attack rolls made to confirm critical hits with unarmed strikes or monk weapons.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Brawler:

Given the Brawler’s “Martial Flexibility” class feature the Brawler can make for quite a number of builds that benefit from critical hits. Being able to make real sure your critical hits actually land is a boon you won’t realize you wanted until you find yourself needing it.

Cavalier

Alain, Pathfinder's iconic human Cavalier.

Where the Fighter is a purely combative master of arms, the Cavalier is a tactical and intellectual martial class. The Cavalier carries a wide and varied toolkit, capable of acting as a defender, striker, or face, and includes a handful of support abilities.

Two of the best traits for a Cavalier are “Armor Expert” and “Indomitable Faith.”

Best Trait

  • Armor Expert
  • “Armor Expert” is a combat trait that reduces the armor check penalty of armor that you wear by 1.

Why it's the best trait for Cavalier:

A sizable number of skills suffer from armor check penalties, but the one we care most about for our Cavalier is the Ride skill. Unless you are playing a rather niche build you will be spending the vast majority of your time mounted and will be making Ride checks regularly; so, you want them to be as good as you can get them.

2nd Best Trait

  • Indomitable Faith
  • “Indomitable Faith” is a faith trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to Will saving throws.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Cavalier:

Will is one of your two “bad saves,” so you want to work to mitigate that. At low levels it will protect against nuisances, but at higher levels it will protect against becoming Confused or Dominated and watching a party member explode as they make contact with the end of your lance.

Cleric

Kyra, Pathfinder's iconic human Cleric.

The humble Cleric is among the most powerful, most versatile, and most important classes in the game. With access to a vast and powerful spell list Clerics are welcome in any party. Capable of filling almost any role needed, the Cleric’s most important roles are healing, support, utility casting, and serving as a backup defender.

Two of the best traits for a Cleric are “Exalted of the Society” and “Birthmark.”

Best Trait

  • Exalted of the Society
  • “Exalted of the Society” is a faith trait that allows you to channel energy one additional time per day.

Why it's the best trait for Cleric:

It is a common notion that Channel Energy is a waste, but I disagree with that idea. Access to a big group heal is never a bad thing and if you’re up against something that is harmed by your Channel Energy you’ll appreciate having the extra uses to bomb into dealing damage.

2nd Best Trait

  • Birthmark
  • “Birthmark” is a faith trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on saves against charm and compulsion effects; in addition you are always considered to be carrying a holy symbol of your deity.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Cleric:

The bonus to saves is nice, if situational, but the main draw of this trait is that you are always considered to have a divine focus when casting spells that require one. While it may not always come up, you’ll like not having a hand occupied by a holy symbol should the time come up when that becomes relevant. This trait is also particularly useful if you have a DM with a penchant for removing gear from the party.

Druid

Lini, Pathfinder's iconic gnome Druid.

Following D&D 3.5e’s tradition, Druid is one of the most powerful and most versatile classes in the game. With an Animal Companion to wade into melee, a diverse spell list, and Wild Shape there is next to nothing the Druid can’t do; with the exception of acting as a party face.

Two of the best traits for a Druid are “Beast of the Society” and “Deft Dodger.”

Best Trait

  • Beast of the Society
  • “Beast of the Society” is a magic trait which allows you to maintain a Wild Shape for two hours per Druid level, rather than one, if you turn yourself into a small or medium animal.

Why it's the best trait for Druid:

The amount of power that this trait provides is almost feat worthy it’s so good. At low levels this will be applying to more or less all of your Wild Shapes, at mid-levels this will be applying to a sizable number of your utility Wild Shapes, and at high levels you can enjoy spending two days as a bird at a time.

2nd Best Trait

  • Deft Dodger
  • “Deft Dodger” is a combat trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to Reflex saves.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Druid:

Reflex is your bad save, which is quite honestly one of the Druid’s few weaknesses. Giving yourself that little extra push will make you that much more versatile and unstoppable.

Fighter

Valeros, Pathfinder's iconic human Fighter.

The Fighter is quite possibly the simplest class in Pathfinder but, in that simplicity there is an underlying core of flexibility. In terms of combat roles a Fighter can, by design, do pretty much anything; though it is worth mentioning they tend to excel as strikers or defenders.

Two of the best traits for a Fighter are “Defender of the Society” and “Armor Expert.”

Best Trait

  • Defender of the Society
  • “Defender of the Society” is a combat trait that gives you a +1 trait bonus to AC when you are wearing medium or heavy armor.

Why it's the best trait for Fighter:

Unless you are utilizing an archetype that alters your armor proficiencies to light armor only or swaps out your Armor Training class feature, you are going to be in medium or heavy armor as a Fighter. Taking this trait tacks on an extra free +1 to AC to make you even more defensible.

2nd Best Trait

  • Armor Expert
  • “Armor Expert” is a combat trait that reduces the armor check penalty of armor that you wear by 1.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Fighter:

As a Fighter, you have next to no skill ranks, so you want to do your best to mitigate penalties to your skills, and “Armor Expert” does just that. Admittedly this trait will become functionally useless at mid-to-high levels when your “Armor Training” class features removes all of your ACP anyway; so, this trait is best used in low level games or with archetypes that trade out “Armor Training.”

Gunslinger

Lirianne, Pathfinder's iconic half-elf Gunslinger.

The Gunslinger is a class that does one thing, shoot people with guns. If that is what you are looking for the Gunslinger is a fairly easy to build class that can pump out a consistent amount of damage against more or less anything. A few of your “Deeds” can let you get a little fancy, but nothing you can do is too wondrous or out there.

Two of the best traits for a Gunslinger are “Never Stop Shooting” and “Black Powder Bravado.”

Best Trait

  • Never Stop Shooting
  • “Never Stop Shooting” is a combat trait which allows you to continue acting should your hit points reach 0. This action is limited to drawing a firearm, reloading a firearm, or attacking with a firearm.

Why it's the best trait for Gunslinger:

This trait is functionally giving yourself the “Diehard” feat. Considering your entire shtick is shooting guns, being able to do it for as long as you possibly can is an ability worth having.

2nd Best Trait

  • Black Powder Bravado
  • “Black Powder Bravado” is a combat trait which, once per day, allows you to reroll an attack roll made using one of your “Deeds” should the initial attack miss.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Gunslinger:

As a Gunslinger, you will be using your “Deeds” fairly often, so making sure they actually land and carry out their additional effects is a good thing. You won’t be missing often anyway, but this trait reduces that chance even further.

Hunter

Adowyn, Pathfinder's iconic human Hunter.

The Hunter is a “Hybrid Class” based on the combination of the Druid and the Ranger. Sacrificing some of the Druid’s spellcasting abilities for a further refined connection to their Animal Companion many of the Hunter’s abilities are focused on enhancing their Animal Companion.

Two of the best traits for a Hunter are “Indomitable Faith” and “Beast Bond.”

Best Trait

  • Indomitable Faith
  • “Indomitable Faith” is a faith trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to Will saving throws.

Why it's the best trait for Hunter:

Will is your “bad save” so taking this trait will allow you to mitigate that weakness, if only by a small amount. Many of the nastier spells in mid-to-high level play rely on Will saves, so patching up that weakness is a massive benefit.

2nd Best Trait

  • Beast Bond
  • “Beast Bond” is a social trait that gives you a +1 trait bonus on Handle Animal checks and Ride checks. You can choose one of these two skills to become a class skill.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Hunter:

This is only really relevant in low level play when your bonuses to skills haven’t started scaling into double digits. Given the bonuses you get to Handle Animal checks for using the skill on your own Animal Companion you shouldn’t ever be failing to meet the DCs, but it can sometimes be better to be safe than sorry.

Inquisitor

Imrijka, Pathfinder's iconic half-orc Inquisitor.

The Inquisitor is sometimes equated to being the divine equivalent of the Bard. With a wide range of skills, a ton of skill ranks per level, medium BAB progression, and 6th level casting the Inquisitor can fit just about any party role that is needed.

Two of the best traits for an Inquisitor are “Deft Dodger” and “Beacon of Faith.”

Best Trait

  • Deft Dodger
  • “Deft Dodger” is a combat trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to Reflex saves.

Why it's the best trait for Inquisitor:

Reflex is your bad save as an Inquisitor, so covering that weakness is quite beneficial for you. Many of your other weaknesses can be addressed through class features, but your Reflex save may require outside help.

2nd Best Trait

  • Beacon of Faith
  • “Beacon of Faith” is a faith trait which allows you to, once per day, treat your caster level as 2 higher when casting a spell gained from your Domain or Inquisition.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Inquisitor:

This trait is varying amount of useful depending on your particular Inquisition. While you can use it to pump up save DCs, I am of the opinion that you are better off using this to make buffs last longer.

Investigator

Quinn, Pathfinder's iconic human Investigator.

The Investigator is a novel “Hybrid Class” of the Alchemist and the Rogue. Their “Extracts” provide fantastic utility options while their plethora of skill ranks make them more than capable of doing just about anything outside of combat.

Two of the best traits for an Investigator are “Inspired” and “Pragmatic Activator.”

Best Trait

  • Inspired
  • “Inspired” is a faith trait that allows you to roll twice and take the better result when making a skill check.

Why it's the best trait for Investigator:

The Investigator is one of the best “skill monkey” classes in the game and giving them the ability for a once per day reroll almost guarantees they won’t be failing any skill checks.

2nd Best Trait

  • Pragmatic Activator
  • “Pragmatic Activator” is a magic trait that allows you to use your Intelligence modifier when making Use Magic Device skill checks rather than your Charisma modifier.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Investigator:

Use Magic Device is an amazing skill, but it tends to have very high DCs. Investigators pack the needed Intelligence to actually make “Pragmatic Activator” worth taking to make use of the skill.

Kineticist

Yoon, Pathfinder's iconic human Kineticist.

The Kineticist is a finicky class to say the least. On paper, it works well as a striker, but many of its options tend to pigeonhole one into playing a blaster. With some effort and creative thinking, it can fill just about any other role but as a whole, the class is very unfocused.

Two of the best traits for a Kineticist are “Indomitable Faith” and “Reactionary.”

Best Trait

  • Indomitable Faith
  • “Indomitable Faith” is a faith trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to Will saving throws.

Why it's the best trait for Kineticist:

Will is your bad save, so you are going to want to do everything you can to lessen that weakness. The +1 trait bonus can sometimes be the difference between passing a saving throw and becoming Dominated and blasting a party member.

2nd Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Kineticist:

Pumping your initiative rolls is a good thing for every class. For Kineticist this allows you to start throwing out blasts or crowd control before your enemy can scatter.

Magus

Seltyiel, Pathfinder's iconic half-elf Magus.

The Magus is a potent combination of the Wizard’s offense magic and the Fighter’s martial prowess. The Magus can act as an incredibly potent striker and they naturally have a high enough Intelligence score that they can act as a librarian should the need arise.

Two of the best traits for a Magus are “Magical Lineage” and “Bladed Magic.”

Best Trait

  • Magical Lineage
  • “Magical Lineage” is a magic trait that allows you to pick a single spell, when applying metamagic effects to the spell you treat the level of the spell as one lower when determining the spell slot using it consumes.

Why it's the best trait for Magus:

This is widely considered the “meta” trait for any Magus trying to optimize. When paired with a spell like “Shocking Grasp” you can pump out some truly incredible amounts of damage.

2nd Best Trait

  • Bladed Magic
  • “Bladed Magic” is a magic trait that grants you a +1 trait bonus on Craft checks used to craft magic or masterwork weapons. In addition, when you use your “Arcane Pool” class feature to grant a weapon an enhancement bonus, the bonus lasts for two minutes instead of one.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Magus:

This effectively doubles the length of a buff that you will be using throughout your entire playtime as a Magus. This is even better at low levels when you don’t yet have access to “Enduring Blade”.

Medium

Erasmus, Pathfinder's iconic human Medium.

Mediums are a strange and oddly limited class. Matching a Cleric in terms of martial ability, but lacking the buffing spells puts them in a strange spot. While the Mesmerist does have a handful of unique buffing spells, they are very limited in functionality. They can make a fine face and have a handful of support options, but that’s about it.

Two of the best traits for a Mesmerist are “Magical Lineage” and “Reactionary.”

Best Trait

  • Magical Lineage
  • “Magical Lineage” is a magic trait that allows you to pick a single spell, when applying metamagic effects to the spell you treat the level of the spell as one lower when determining the spell slot using it consumes.

Why it's the best trait for Medium:

The Medium is one of the few classes that can really milk a lot of mileage out of metamagic effects. While the Wizard can and should dabble in them, the Medium lives the metamagic life.

2nd Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Medium:

Having a high initiative is important, even more so for a full caster. The sooner you can go in combat the sooner you can lay out your buffs, debuffs, and anything in between.

Mesmerist

Meligaster, Pathfinder's iconic halfling Mesmerist.

The Mesmerist has two tricks: talking to people and staring at people. A Mesmerist can near effortlessly serve as a party face and can make an effective scout with a little tinkering; they also are capable of minor support, but they’ll never excel at it. The Mesmerist is capable of doing very little on their own and works best when it can complement a party.

Two of the best traits for a Mesmerist are “Two-World Magic” and “Mediator.”

Best Trait

  • Two-World Magic
  • “Two-World Magic” is a magic trait that allows you to pick a single 0th level spell from a spell list other than your own and add it to your spell list.

Why it's the best trait for Mesmerist:

The main advantage of this is that it pairs really nicely with the Mesmerist’s “Painful Stare.” By using this trait to pick up something like “Acid Splash,” “Ray of Frost,” or “Jolt” (if your DM allows you to grab a “Rare Cantrip”) can net you a solid source of damage that can be done for free.

2nd Best Trait

  • Mediator
  • “Mediator” is a social trait that grants a +1 trait bonus to Diplomacy checks. In addition, you receive a +1 trait bonus to the DC of any charm or compulsion effect that does not provide continuous control.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Mesmerist:

The boost to Diplomacy is nice, if simple, since you will probably end up doing a fair bit of talking. The real draw here is the boost to the DCs of a sizable part of your spell list.

Monk

Sajan, Pathfinder's iconic human Monk.

The Monk marries a decent skill list and above average martial capabilities. Capable of leveraging their skill list into a passable scouting ability but also full capable of acting as a striker or even a defender the Monk is a strange enigma of a class.

Two of the best traits for a Monk are “Axe to Grind” and “Honored Fist of the Society.”

Best Trait

  • Axe to Grind
  • “Axe to Grind” is a combat trait that gives you a +1 trait bonus to damage rolls against foes that only you threaten.

Why it's the best trait for Monk:

As a Monk it is not uncommon for you to be fighting one-on-one against an enemy and with the high number of attacks you will be making in a round this damage will stack up more and more as you level up.

2nd Best Trait

  • Honored Fist of the Society
  • “Honored Fist of the Society” is a combat trait that increases the size of your “Ki Pool” by one.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Monk:

Pretty much all of your cool abilities will require you to spend points from your “Ki Pool” to activate, being able to do that more often is never a bad thing.

Ninja

Reiko, Pathfinder's iconic human Ninja.

The Ninja serves as an alternate class for the Rogue that also folds in some of the Monk’s more mystical abilities. As a ninja you will excel at stealth, cunning, and knifing people in the dark.

Two of the best traits for a Ninja are “Reactionary” and “Inspired.”

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Ninja:

Going first is never a bad thing. For a Ninja this can enable you to get out some truly devastating “Sneak Attacks” while your enemies are still flat-footed and vulnerable.

2nd Best Trait

  • Inspired
  • “Inspired” is a faith trait that allows you to roll twice and take the better result when making a skill check.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Ninja:

You have a staggering amount of skill ranks and class skills to play with, “Inspired” will make you a bit more reliably able to use your massive assortment of skills.

Occultist

Mavaro, Pathfinder's iconic human Occultist.

Occultist is a complicated class to say the least. Jampacked with strange and complex abilities that interweave with one another can make this a class that is difficult to keep track of for both player and DM. On top of all of that this is a class that only grows in complexity as you level up and gain more independently tracked resources to keep in mind.

Two of the best traits for an Occultist are “Pragmatic Activator” and “Student of Philosophy.”

Best Trait

  • Pragmatic Activator
  • “Pragmatic Activator” is a magic trait that allows you to use your Intelligence modifier when making Use Magic Device skill checks rather than your Charisma modifier.

Why it's the best trait for Occultist:

Use Magic Device is an incredible skill that suffers from having equally incredibly high DCs. Taking this trait will allow you to flex your high Intelligence score to help you bypass some of those high DCs.

2nd Best Trait

  • Student of Philosophy
  • “Student of Philosophy” is a social trait that allows you to use your Intelligence modifier rather than your Charisma modifier when making Diplomacy checks to persuade others and when making Bluff checks to convince others that what you are saying is true.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Occultist:

Diplomacy is a class skill for you, but as an Occultist you tend not to worry about having a high Charisma score to actually make it usable. When this Trait and the previous Trait are combined you can effectively remove any need you would’ve had for Charisma.

Oracle

Alahazra, Pathfinder's iconic human Oracle.

The Oracle is a Charisma-based spontaneous divine caster, it is to the Cleric as the Sorcerer is to the Wizard; it also forms a trio of similar classes with the Sorcerer and the Psychic. Much like the Cleric, the Oracle is capable of more or less anything, but being Charisma-based makes them much better at being a party face than a Cleric.

Two of the best traits for an Oracle are “Reactionary” and “Focused Mind.”

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Oracle:

You never want your turn to be late in a round of combat, so having a high initiative is a wonderful thing. For a full caster like the Oracle the earlier you can take your turn the earlier you can set up buffs, establish crowd control, or do anything in-between.

2nd Best Trait

  • Focused Mind
  • “Focused Mind” is a magic trait that provides a +2 trait bonus to concentration checks.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Oracle:

Oracles make for a good gish, especially with things like the “Battle Mystery” or “Metal Mystery.” When the time comes that you need to cast defensively or keep a spell up after taking a hit, you’ll praise every boost to concentration that you can get.

Paladin

Seelah, Pathfinder's iconic human Paladin.

The Paladin is a martial class powered by divine righteousness. Much like the Fighter, the Paladin best serves the roles of a striker and a defender, though they do have options that allow them to act as a face and a healer.

Two of the best traits for a Paladin are “Magical Knack” and “Stalwart of the Society.”

Best Trait

  • Magical Knack
  • “Magical Knack” is a magic trait that provides a +2 trait bonus to your Caster Level in a chosen class; this cannot raise your caster level above your current Hit Dice.

Why it's the best trait for Paladin:

The Paladin has an intrinsic penalty to their caster level, which makes their already meager spell casting even more pathetic. “Magical Knack” can mitigate this issue and will add hours to many of your better buffing options.

2nd Best Trait

  • Stalwart of the Society
  • “Stalwart of the Society” is a faith trait that causes your “Aura of Courage” class feature to grant an additional +1 trait bonus on saving throws against fear.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Paladin:

While it may be situational, a bonus against fear effects is nothing to sneeze at. There are few things as soul crushing as half the party failing a save and winding up cowering, this bonus can help prevent that from happening.

Psychic

Rivani, Pathfinder's iconic human Psychic.

The Psychic is the Occult equivalent of the Sorcerer and Oracle. The Psychic is an Intelligence-based spontaneous caster, while their spell list does have a fair degree of overlap with the Sorcerer and Wizard it is more limited overall. Much like the Wizard, the Psychic is capable of filling more or less every role; though it is worth being aware that healing is beyond the scope of your typical abilities.

Two of the best traits for a Psychic are “Reactionary” and “Arcane Temper.”

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Psychic:

Having a higher initiative is always better. This is especially true for full-casters, and Psychic is the quintessential full-caster of the Occult Classes.

2nd Best Trait

  • Arcane Temper
  • “Arcane Temper” is a magic trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to initiative and concentration checks.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Psychic:

As has been stated, more initiative is always better. This Trait can act as a nice substitute if you’ve already taken a more niche combat trait and still are looking for a boost to initiative.

Ranger

Harsk, Pathfinder's iconic dwarf Ranger.

The Ranger is a nature-themed martial class. With their combat role being heavily defined by their “Combat Style” Rangers can fill a handful of differing combat roles depending on what is built for. In addition to striking and defending roles, Rangers are naturally quite adept at scouting.

Two of the best traits for Rangers are “Magical Knack” and “Tracker of the Society.”

Best Trait

  • Magical Knack
  • “Magical Knack” is a magic trait that provides a +2 trait bonus to your Caster Level in a chosen class; this cannot raise your caster level above your current Hit Dice.

Why it's the best trait for Ranger:

Seeing as Ranger is one of a handful of classes that has a built-in penalty to their caster level, “Magical Knack” is a trait they can’t afford to pass up. The +2 to caster level will add hours to many of your best buffing options.

2nd Best Trait

  • Tracker of the Society
  • “Tracker of the Society” is a combat trait that adds a +1 trait bonus to initiative and a +2 trait bonus to Survival skill checks made while travelling through any of your “Favored Terrains.”

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Ranger:

Bonuses to initiative are always outstanding and the bonus to Survival can help reduce the burden of rations at the very least. As with the “Favored Terrain” class feature in general this Trait will only be as useful as your DM allows it to be, communicate with them to make sure you are taking “Favored Terrain” options that are relevant to your game.

Rogue

Merisiel, Pathfinder's iconic elf Rogue.

The Rogue is one of the iconic pillars of an adventuring party. Capable of serving as a scout and striker, the Rogue also boasts enough skill ranks that they can act as a face should the need arise. Rogues are often the line by which other scouting options are measured and their “Trapfinding” class feature makes it easy to see why.

Two of the best traits for a Rogue are “Reactionary” and “Inspired.”

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Rogue:

Going first is never a bad thing. For a Rogue this can enable you to get out some truly devastating “Sneak Attacks” while your enemies are still flat-footed and vulnerable.

2nd Best Trait

  • Inspired
  • “Inspired” is a faith trait that allows you to roll twice and take the better result when making a skill check.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Rogue:

You have a staggering amount of skill ranks and class skills to play with, “Inspired” will make you a bit more reliably able to use your massive assortment of skills.

Samurai

Nakayama Hayato, Pathfinder's iconic human Samurai.

Samurai is an alternative class option for the Cavalier. While it shares many of the original’s more iconic abilities, the Samurai places less of a focus on mounted combat and teamwork feats. One large issue you may face is that you are a smaller target than a person on a mount, so you may have difficulties getting your enemies to target you instead of your squishy party members.

Two of the best traits for a Samurai are “Indomitable Faith” and “Deft Dodger.”

Best Trait

  • Indomitable Faith
  • “Indomitable Faith” is a faith trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to Will saving throws.

Why it's the best trait for Samurai:

You have two “bad saves” as a Samurai and will more likely be noticing that fact more and more as your game goes on. Taking this will help that to a degree, prioritize boosting Will over boosting Reflex.

2nd Best Trait

  • Deft Dodger
  • “Deft Dodger” is a combat trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to Reflex saves.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Samurai:

You are only going to notice your two “bad saves” more and more often as your game goes on into higher levels. Take this to help mitigate that somewhat, but always prioritize boosting your Will saves over Reflex if you have to pick one or the other.

Shaman

Shardra Geltl, Pathfinder's iconic dwarf Shaman.

Shaman is a divine spell caster, while they can work as a blaster I tend to find that they do better in support or healing roles. The Shaman is less durable than the Oracle or Magus and tends to not do well in melee combat.

Two of the best traits for a Shaman are “Reactionary” and “Dangerously Curious.”

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Shaman:

You always want to be going sooner in combat rather than later. The sooner you can take your turn the sooner you can buff your party or debuff the enemy.

2nd Best Trait

  • Dangerously Curious
  • “Dangerously Curious” is a magic trait that grants you a +1 trait bonus to Use Magic Device checks and makes Use Magic Device a class skill for you.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Shaman:

Use Magic Device is an impressive skill that is anchored by having impressively high DCs. Any small boost you can get makes you that much more flexible as it becomes easier for you to activate things like wands, scrolls, and staves.

Shifter

Zova, Pathfinder's iconic human Shifter.

Shifter is a martial class that focuses on shapeshifting into animals and using various natural attacks; if you’re thinking that sounds like what a Druid does, you are right. The Shifter is a contentious class within the Pathfinder community and playing one can often feel like a drag, my best advice is to not compare yourself to a Druid and instead focus on becoming a chimera of all your favorite animals and wreaking havoc on your enemies.

Two of the best traits for Shifter are “Adopted” and “Heavy Hitter.”

Best Trait

  • Adopted
  • “Adopted” is a social trait that allows you to obtain a racial trait from a race that is not yours.

Why it's the best trait for Shifter:

It is highly recommended that you use this to grab the Orc and Half-orc racial trait “Tusked” to net yourself another natural attack to compliment your claws.

2nd Best Trait

  • Heavy Hitter
  • “Heavy Hitter” is a regional trait that provides a +1 damage bonus with unarmed attacks.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Shifter:

The usefulness of this trait will depend entirely on how your DM rules what it actually applies to. There are two equally valid rulings for how this trait works: it applies its bonus to any attack made without a weapon or it specifically works for unarmed strikes. If your DM uses the former ruling this trait will help you pump out some more damage, if they use the latter this trait is useless to you.

Skald

Hakon, Pathfinder's iconic human Skald.

The Skald is a strange and beautiful “Hybrid Class” of the Barbarian and the Bard, often dubbed a “Bardbarian.” While the Skald does borrow some of the Barbarian’s martial abilities, the vast majority of a Skald’s bag of tricks is drawn from the Bard. The Skald is chiefly a face and support, but is capable of acting as a striker, scout, defender, or utility caster should the need arise.

Two of the best traits for a Skald are “Reactionary” and “Deft Dodger.”

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Skald:

Going earlier in combat is never bad. The earlier in combat you can go the sooner you can start providing buffs to your party or laying out some of the debuffs you have access to.

2nd Best Trait

  • Deft Dodger
  • “Deft Dodger” is a combat trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to reflex saves.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Skald:

This is your “bad save” so you are going to want to work on that. Higher Reflex means you are less likely to get blown up by a “Fireball” spell or get knocked to the floor by a “Grease” spell.

Slayer

Zadim, Pathfinder's iconic human Slayer.

The Slayer is a “Hybrid Class” of the Ranger and Rogue, it combines some of the best parts of each class and strips away some of the filler that clings to each class. Combining the stealth and scouting capabilities of the Rogue with the versatility and massive amount of combat options of the Ranger the Slayer can fill an impressive number of roles in and out of combat.

Two of the best traits for a Slayer are “Reactionary” and “Inspired.”

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Slayer:

Going first is never a bad thing. For a Slayer this can enable you to get out some truly devastating “Sneak Attacks” while your enemies are still flat-footed and vulnerable and/or allow you to set up your “Studied Target” early into a combat.

2nd Best Trait

  • Inspired
  • “Inspired” is a faith trait that allows you to roll twice and take the better result when making a skill check.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Slayer:

You have a respectable amount of skill ranks and class skills to play with, “Inspired” will make you a bit more reliably able to use your sizable assortment of skills.

Sorcerer

Seoni, Pathfinder's iconic human Sorcerer.

The Sorcerer is the spontaneous casting equivalent to the Wizard and forms part of a triangle of similar classes made up of the Oracle and Psychic. Sorcerers have a limited number of spells that they can know, though this can be supplemented with items. While the Sorcerer may gain new spells at a slower rate than a Wizard they make up for this by being able to cast significantly more spells per day.

Two of the best traits for a Sorcerer are “Reactionary” and “Dangerously Curious.”

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Sorcerer:

You want to go early in combat as much as you possibly can, especially when you are a full caster. The sooner you can go in combat the sooner you can let loose your big spells, be they blasts, buffs, crowd control, or otherwise.

2nd Best Trait

  • Dangerously Curious
  • “Dangerously Curious” is a magic trait that grants you a +1 trait bonus to Use Magic Device checks and makes Use Magic Device a class skill for you.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Sorcerer:

You can and should have the Charisma to make this work. While your spell list is already impressive, Use Magic Device gives you access to all the more versatility you could ever wish for.

Spiritualist

Estra, Pathfinder's iconic human Spiritualist.

The Spiritualist is the Occult equivalent of the Hunter or Summoner, a 6th level caster that relies on a powerful companion to get things done. “Phantoms” are relatively simple and straightforward compared to other similar options, but as such they tend to be much less versatile.

Two of the best traits for a Spiritualist are “Reactionary” and “Seeker.”

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Spiritualist:

It’s always good to go first, or else you may never go at all. The Spiritualist may not be a full caster, but they have plenty of options worth getting out as soon into a combat as possible.

2nd Best Trait

  • Seeker
  • “Seeker” is a social trait that provides a +1 trait bonus to Perception checks and makes Perception a class skill for you.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Spiritualist:

Perception is the most rolled skill in the game by a wide margin and you are Wisdom-based as is so this is worth taking. This is effectively a +4 bonus to Perception right off the jump.

Summoner

Balazar, Pathfinder's iconic gnome Summoner.

The Summoner is about as good of a spell caster as a Bard is, but the Summoner places their focus on conjuration and summoning. The biggest draw of the class is the fully customizable companion, your “Eidolon” which can be geared to do anything you need it to do.

Two of the best traits for a Summoner are “Twinned Presence” and “Reactionary.”

Best Trait

  • Twinned Presence
  • “Twinned Presence” is a magic trait that provides a +1 trait bonus on Intimidate checks and makes Intimidate a class skill for you. In addition, if your Eidolon is summoned and within 30 feet of you, and its size exceeds your own, you can use its size modifiers for any Intimidate checks you make.

Why it's the best trait for Summoner:

Being a very small Summoner with a very big Eidolon is what you should be aiming for as a Summoner. Normally that would ruin your chances to Intimidate, but now your hulking beast of an Eidolon can be intimidating for you.

2nd Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Summoner:

Going early in combat never hurts, especially when you as geared towards support as a Summoner is.

Swashbuckler

Jirelle, Pathfinder's iconic half-elf Swashbuckler.

Swashbuckler is a “Hybrid Class” of the Fighter and Gunslinger and is a refreshing take on non-magical combat in Pathfinder, which can often tend to become a boring series of clashes between stat blocks. The Swashbuckler is naturally skilled at being a striker and a face, but can easily act as a defender with only a couple of feats.

Two of the best traits for a Swashbuckler are “Anatomist” and “Flame of the Dawnflower.”

Best Trait

  • Anatomist
  • “Anatomist” is a combat trait that grants you a +1 trait bonus to attack rolls made to confirm critical hits.

Why it's the best trait for Swashbuckler:

Swashbuckler is a class that is more or less made for builds that rely on scoring critical hits, so you want to be able to do that reliably. Once you start hitting levels where you have iterative attacks with smaller and smaller bonuses you’ll appreciate the bonus to confirming your critical hits.

2nd Best Trait

  • Flame of the Dawnflower
  • “Flame of the Dawnflower” is a religion trait that lets you add an additional 2 fire damage to your attacks when you confirm a critical hit with a scimitar.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Swashbuckler:

Scimitars are great weapons for critical hit builds and are generally good for Swashbucklers. If you are fine with worshipping Saranrae, or your campaign setting’s equivalent, you can get some nice extra damage out of this.

Vigilante

Red Raven, Pathfinder's iconic human Vigilante.

The Vigilante is much like the Rogue in that they are highly skilled, allowing them to serve as faces, scouts, and strikers. Where things become distinct though is the odd nature of the class, with two pools of “Talents” to choose from and only a small number of fixed class features the Vigilante is a class that almost allows you to tailor make exactly what you want to play.

Two of the best traits for a Vigilante are “Reactionary” and “Always Threatening.”

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Vigilante:

Going first is something you always want and, flavor wise, being able to jump right into action fits the Vigilante quite well.

2nd Best Trait

  • Always Threatening
  • “Always Threatening” is a religion trait which allows you to draw a light, concealed weapon, with which you have Weapon Focus as a move action. If you have the Quick Draw feat you may draw it as a free action.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Vigilante:

This is an ability that is likely not to matter too terribly much, but it is one that feels thematically appropriate for the class. It may not be mechanically amazing, but it’s great for fluff; and if a situation where this is needed ever does come up, you’ll love your moment in the spotlight.

Warpriest

Oloch, Pathfinder's iconic half-orc Warpriest.

The Warpriest is a “Hybrid Class” of the Cleric and Fighter, but it manages to keep itself distinct from the Paladin. The Warpriest is more heavily based in spells than the Paladin and has much fewer defensive options. It is worth noting that the Warpriest is quite dependent of Swift Actions, so keep close tabs on your action economy.

Two of the best traits for a Warpriest are “Reactionary” and “Wisdom in the Flesh.”

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Warpriest:

Going sooner is always better than going later, especially with a class that has such an intrinsic connection to buffing as the Warpriest.

2nd Best Trait

  • Wisdom in the Flesh
  • “Wisdom in the Flesh” is a religion trait that allows you to use your Wisdom modifier in place of the normal modifier for a single Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution based skill.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Warpriest:

Warpriest can tend to suffer from needing to rely on a lot of ability scores, this can help to mitigate that slightly. With this, even if you have horrible Dexterity you can still do things like sneaking or picking locks.

Witch

Feiya, Pathfinder's iconic human Witch.

The Witch and the Wizard are quite different takes on the idea of an Intelligence-based prepared arcane spell caster. The Witch carves out their own niche in that they get access to the “Hex” class feature, which takes a class with a spell list that is amazing enough it can stand on only that and cranks it up another handful of notches.

Two of the best traits for a Witch are "Honeyed Words" and "Reactionary."

Best Trait

  • Honeyed Words
  • “Honeyed Words” is a religion trait which gives you a +1 trait bonus on Diplomacy checks. In addition, you receive a +1 trait bonus to the DC of any charm or compulsion that does not provide ongoing control and results in peaceful acts.

Why it's the best trait for Witch:

The “Slumber Hex” is widely regarded as one, if not the, best “Hexes” the Witch gets. Making it even harder for the target to pass their saving throw makes an already astoundingly powerful ability even more dreadful.

2nd Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Witch:

As with all characters and doubly so for casters, the Witch wants a high initiative. The sooner you can take your turn in combat the sooner you can put a nasty debuff on your enemy or use the aforementioned “Slumber Hex” to shut down a boss fight.

Wizard

Ezren, Pathfinder's iconic human Wizard.

The Wizard is generally considered to be the strongest class in the game. With access to many of the best spells in the game and a staggering number of spells known, the Wizard can quite literally do anything. You may start out slow, but once you hit around level 9 you will outshine just about anyone else.

Two of the best traits for a Wizard are "Reactionary" and "Hedge Magician."

Best Trait

  • Reactionary
  • “Reactionary” is a combat trait that provides a +2 trait bonus on initiative checks.

Why it's the best trait for Wizard:

As a Wizard you want to be going first in combat. The closer to going first you can get, the earlier you can lay waste with your unparalleled number of spells and situational effects.

2nd Best Trait

  • Hedge Magician
  • “Hedge Magician” is a magic trait that reduces the gp cost to craft magic items by 5%.

Why it's the 2nd best trait for Wizard:

While 5% may not seem like much,it adds up fairly quickly. 5% of the crafting cost of a +1 weapon can net you a 1st-level potion or two 1st-level scrolls.

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Matthew Poe is a scholar of the English language as certified by two degrees in the area. He has a massive love for all things nerdy including anime, tabletop gaming, and of course video games.
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