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The Laughing Shadow Magus | Build Guide for Pathfinder 2e

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Original Video:

*This article is an edited version of the script for this video

Level 1:

Ancestry: Hobgoblin, Ability Boosts: Strength(12), Constitution(12), Intelligence(12), Wisdom(8)

Heritage: Tiefling

Alternate Ancestry and Heritage: Human with Half-Elf heritage, main thing we want is the weapon feats to get the critical specialization feature

Ancestry Feat: Hobgoblin/Elven Weapon Familiarity

Background: Any background that can boost Strength(14) and Intelligence(14) is good. I’ll go over skills I would pick up in a moment but the feats I would consider here are Alchemical Crafting, Assurance: Medicine, or Quick Identification

Initial Proficiencies:

-Skills I Recommend: Athletics, Arcana, Crafting, Medicine, Deception(Don’t forget you will likely get one from your background)

Equipment: Rapier(Mainly choosing this for the Deadly property), Breastplate, Spellbook

Key Ability: Strength(16)

Spellstrike: Let’s us cast spells and strike at the same time with both being based on our melee attack roll. With this being the case we’ll want to prioritize Strength a bit more than Intelligence

Arcane Spellcasting:

-Cantrips: Gouging Claw, Produce Flame, Ray of Frost, and Tanglefoot(These are the best cantrips for Spellstrike in my opinion). I would also be sure to pick up Shield. For the remaining 3 cantrips I would just take your favorite utility cantrips

-1st Level Spells: Horizon Thunder Sphere, Shocking Grasp, Briny Bolt, Pest Form(Or any utility spell you like). I’ll mainly be going for damage spells and specifically ones that work with Spellstrike as we have a very limited amount of spell slots and most adventuring days I imagine we will need most, if not all of them for combat but I will still choose the occasional utility spell.

Arcane Cascade: Combat Stance which we enter after casting a spell or using Spellstrike. It provides a bonus to our damage depending on the spell we cast before it.

Hybrid Study: Laughing Shadow

-Conflux Spell: Dimensional Assault. This lets us have very strong action economy, positioning ourselves, recharging Spellstrike, and attacking in one action

-I would just take the +5 bonus to speed, I think its more worth it to wear armor and have a higher AC than have a slightly higher movement speed.

Level 2:

Spells: Color Spray, Utility spell of your choice

Magus Feat: Expansive Spellstrike, gives us more options on what spells we can use with Spellstrike.

Skill Feat: Battle Medicine, I will be taking a lot of Medicine based feats on this character as I think it really helps fill in a hole the character would have without it. Though, it is definitely not required and you could take a different approach with your skill feats if you’d like.

Possible Archetypes(For Free Archetype Variant): Wizard(Probably Best) or Witch, Medic, Cavalier, Acrobat(Mainly for the Dodge Away feat), Fighter

Level 3:

2nd Level Spells: Vomit Swarm, Dispel Magic

General Feat: Fleet, Increasing our speed also means we can teleport further with Dimensional Assault

Skill Increase: Refer back to Level 1 for skills I recommend, we get this every odd level from here on out.

Level 4:

Spells: Enlarge, Warrior’s Regret

Magus Feat: Distracting Spellstrike, this lets us Feint before our Spellstrike. This helps us make sure our targets are Flat-Footed more often and thus will more often take our bonus damage from Laughing Shadow and this helps us crit more often against our targets as well.

Skill Feat: Assurance(Medicine)

Level 5:

3rd Level Spells: Vampiric Touch, Blazing Dive

Ability Boosts: Str(18), Dex(12), Con(14), Int(16)

Ancestry Feat: Hobgoblin Weapon Discipline, Critical Specialization unlocked

Lightning Reflexes: Reflex Saves to Expert

Weapon Expertise: Weapon Proficiency to Expert

Level 6:

Spells: Crashing Wave, Organsight

Magus Feat: Attack of Opportunity

Skill Feat: Ward Medic, lets you heal two creatures at a time instead of just one and even more creatures at once later on

Level 7:

4th Level Spells: Chromatic Ray, Enervation

General Feat: Untrained Improvisation, getting this at 7th level makes you almost trained in every skill you’re not trained in which feels almost too good not to take in my opinion.

Studious Spells: 3 new spells and 1 from our Hybrid Study as well as 2 new spell slots for said spells. I think True Strike is by far the best as it’s great for setting up your Spellstrikes but the others are more situational and will be more worth preparing on certain days where you know you’ll need them.

Weapon Specialization: Additional damage with our weapons, this also increases the damage bonus we get from Laughing Shadow.

Level 8:

Spells: Draw the Lightning, Phantasmal Killer

Magus Feat: Cascade Countermeasure, decent focus spell but I mainly want to increase the size of our focus pool so we can cast Dimensional Assault a bit more often but this one may come up when fighting enemy spellcasters. Runic Impression could be worth taking instead if you don’t have a magic weapon yet.

Skill Feat: Continual Recovery, you can now heal creatures more often

Level 9:

5th Level Spells: Blazing Fissure, Cone of Cold

Alertness: Perception to Expert

Ancestry Feat: Fiendish Wings, we will eventually get the fly spell but this essentially lets us have that spell once per day without spending a slot.

Expert Spellcaster: Spellcasting to Expert

Resolve: Will saves to Master

Level 10:

Spells: Mirror Malefactors, Utility Spell of your choice(I like Rewinding Step)

Ability Boosts: Str(19), Con(16), Int(18), Cha(12)

Magus Feat: Dimensional Disappearance, Become invisible to benefit our next strike or just stay invisible. This makes our Conflux Spell even better and now we can also use it outside of combat for the utility of Invisibility.

Skill Feat: Advanced First Aid, ability to remove Frightened and Sickened

Level 11:

6th Level Spells: Vampiric Exsanguination, Chain Lightning

General Feat: Ancestral Paragon: Nimble Hooves/Elf, another speed increase.

Medium Armor Expertise: Armor Proficiency to Expert

*Haste and Shift Blame added to Studious Spells

Level 12:

Spells: Cast Into Time, Utility Spell of your choice

Magus Feat: Conflux Focus, basically twice as many focus points. This makes us much more efficient with recharging our Spellstrike.

Skill Feat: Magical Crafting, you could potentially take this much earlier if you don’t want to go as deep into Medicine

Level 13:

7th Level Spells: Frigid Flurry, Prismatic Spray

Ancestry Feat: Recognize Ambush, I may be overvaluing this feat but in my experience it has been very useful to draw a weapon as a free action when the combat starts. You could also take this earlier and then take Hobgoblin Weapon Discipline here, in which case I would also take Nimble Hooves at Level 1 and then pick up Hobgoblin Weapon Familiarity at Level 11 with Ancestral Paragon.

Weapon Mastery: Weapon Proficiency to Master

*Fly and Dimension Door added to Studious Spells

Level 14:

Spells: Eclipse Burst, Utility Spell of your choice

Magus Feat: Hasted Assault or Runic Impression, mainly for the focus point so pick whichever one you think you’ll get the most use out of. Keep in mind if you’re making the attack from Hasted Assault after a Spellstrike it will be at a -10.

Skill Feat: Inventor, you can now make more magic item formulas

Level 15:

8th Level Spells: Polar Ray, Maze

Ability Boosts: Str(20), Con(18), Int(19), Cha(14)

General Feat: Incredible Initiative

Greater Weapon Specialization: Even more additional damage with our weapons. Once again, this also increases the damage bonus we get from Laughing Shadow.

Juggernaut: Fortitude Saves to Master

Level 16:

Spells: Horrid Wilting, Prismatic Wall

Magus Feat: Overwhelming Spellstrike or Dispelling Spellstrike, whichever you think you would get more use out of. I think I would lean more towards Overwhelming Spellstrike.

Skill Feat: Legendary Medic, we can remove even more conditions

Level 17:

9th Level Spells: The two 9th level spells I will recommend are Weird and Meteor Swarm. By level 20 you will be able to get a total of 8 different 9th level spells if you so choose. I’m just going to recommend those two as I think they are the best in combat and the rest are up to you.

Ancestry Feat: Relentless Wings, permanent flight

Master Spellcaster: Spellcasting to Master

Medium Armor Mastery: Armor Proficiency to Master

Level 18:

Magus Feat: Conflux Wellspring, 3 focus points per refocus. This makes us even more efficient at recharging our Spellstrike, some fights we may not even need to use the standard recharge action and we’ll be able to recharge our Spellstrikes using only Conflux Spells.

Skill Feat: Craft Anything, we now ignore many requirements for crafting certain magic items

Level 19:

Double Spellstrike: We can now use spells with Spellstrike two times. This is especially good if we are not using something like the Free Archetype Variant with Wizard to get more spell slots. Either way this really helps us a lot with managing our resources.

General Feat: Incredible Investiture(Must boost Cha at Level 5 instead of Dex to meet prerequisite) or Toughness, if you have enough magic items to get use out of Incredible Investiture I would go for that.

Level 20:

Ability Boosts: Dex(14), Int(20), Wis(10), Cha(16)

Magus Feat: Supreme Spellstrike, permanently quickened and the extra actions we can take are both actions we would likely be taking anyway on a lot of our turns.

Skill Feat: Unified Theory, you can now use Arcana in place of Religion, Occultism, and Nature.

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