Today we shall dip our toes into multi-classing! Old hands may already know the term but to multi-class in ttrpg’s means to take abilities from a class different than your starting class when you level up. Depending on your game system there can be several requirements before a character takes abilities from a different class but in Pathfinder second edition, the classic method of gaining abilities outside your base class follows a different structure.
In other systems, after you meet the requirements your character effectively has 2 classes. For example if you have a smart fighter who wants to cast wizard spells at level 2 they would become a 1st level fighter and a 1st level wizard. Their total character level would be 2. The next time they would level that player would choose to either gain the 2nd level abilities of their current classes or choose a new one. There are many fun builds that this legacy system can perform but as characters get higher in level, the complexity can become overwhelming.
Pathfinder second edition’s tact is to use their archetype system to give players the tools they need fill our character concepts. Archetypes are selections of special thematic feats that replace class feats when you level your base class. Every archetype begins with a dedication to represent your characters resolve to a particular theme and the subsequent feats provide benefits that fit the theme more prominently. In the core rulebook you will find the first archetypes using the base classes. These are tagged as multiclass archetypes. The nuance of how the archetype system works provides different results than the legacy multiclass system. Let us use our fighter-wizard example.
Should there be a difference between a fighter who learns magic versus a wizard that learns to fight? In the legacy system the variation is often minor but the archetype system the difference is far more pronounced. Characters initial proficiencies define the general arche of character growth while the archetype applies refining features. A fighter with wizard dedication will be trained in simple and martial weapons as well as armor. When they take their wizard dedication, they will gain a skill and several cantrips in the arcane spell tradition. This is great for the character because they can use arcane scrolls, wands and staves but until they get a new class feat to dedicate to their archetype their spells slots are limited to cantrips.
Compare this to a wizard who dedicates to becoming a fighter. They have all the access to spell casting as a wizard and when they take their fighter dedication, they gain a new skill and proficiency with simple and martial weapons. The wizard can now swing a mighty greatsword then cast magic missile. The fighter can raise a shield and fire off a wand of magic missile. Both are arcane casters and weapon wielders but the expression of those ideas is significantly different.
Let’s look at our resident spell caster Taffy. She is a level 2 wizard with the sorcerer dedication. When she took that dedication, she chose a bloodline, in her case Fey. That determined two skills she gained training in as well as a tradition of magic she would gain access to. For Fey bloodlines, the magical tradition is Primal, aka nature magic. Taffy’s arcane spell casting will always be more powerful than her primal spells as the available spell slots will always be less for primal spells. The awesome part is her new access to the primal spell list and the scrolls, wands and primal staffs. When the party was level 1 they picked up a scroll of heal. Neither Demos nor Taffy could use that scroll because the spell heal was neither occult nor was it arcane. At second level because of Taffy’s Fey bloodline represented by her sorcerer dedication, she can cast the spell heal from the scroll because it belongs to the primal tradition of spells. She will never be able to scribe that scroll into her spell book and she won’t be able to learn that spell unless she takes another archetype feat to do so but that scroll could be the difference between a total party wipe and victory.
I believe that the legacy system and archetype systems are both fun ways to express character stories, and I still have more to learn on the nuances of the archetype system, but I have seen enough to know it is pretty cool.