I have a side project I am working on that includes a handful of prestige classes, specifically arcane related classes. My original builds are based off of classes I wrote back prior to Pathfinder, and so were wizard based. I had updated them to Pathfinder, and have created archetypes as alternatives to prestige classes. Since the release of Advanced Class Guide and Pathfinder Unchained, I have completely revamped the way in which I perceived the class options in this project.
Ever since the arcanist was released, I realized that I would never play another wizard. The versatility of changing which spells you have prepared each day make it better than a wizard while the ability to have limitless spells make it better than a sorcerer. The arcane exploits are just a need addition to the class. As a mechanic, they replace schools for wizards and bloodlines for sorcerers. Luckily, they included archetypes for arcanist that allow you to bring those features to the arcanist if you still want them around!
One of the key things that came out of all of this, was how to expand the function of an arcanist in an all arcane caster party? The conversation expanded as I chatted with multiple players, and I slowly built up a list of arcanist exploits that I began allowing in my home games. Some of these either emulate features of wizard, while others emulate spells in a different way while keeping the bonuses on par with the spells they are based in.
Arcane Discovery: The arcanist can select one arcane discovery. He must meet the prerequisites of this discovery. Why should wizard’s have all the fun here?
Enhanced Charisma (Su): As a standard action, the arcanist can use a point of his arcane reservoir to provide himself with a +10 enhancement bonus to his charisma based skill checks against a single target for the next 1 minute. This is considered a mind-affecting enchantment, and a successful Will save means that the creature realizes that it was affected. At 10th level, the bonus increases to +20 and the cost to 2 points. At 20th, the bonus is +30 and the cost is 3 points. This is basically a variant way of using charm person that has some more versatility.
Enhanced Combat (Su): The arcanist may, as a swift action, spend a point from his arcane reservoir to use his arcanist level in place of his BAB for his attacks this round. There is plenty of precedent in fiction showing a mage rely on magic to get in one good attack.
Enhanced Dexterity (Su): As a standard action, the arcanist can use a point of his arcane reservoir to provide himself with a +10 enhancement bonus to his dexterity based skill checks for the next 1 minute. At 10th level, the bonus increases to +20 and the cost to 2 points. At 20th, the bonus is +30 and the cost is 3 points. At any level, he can activate this ability as an immediate action, at double the cost, to receive the bonus on his next skill check only. Likewise, fiction shows mages relying on magic powers to perform feats of dexterity.
Enhanced Maneuver (Su): The arcanist may, as an immediate action, spend a point from his arcane reservoir to resolve a combat maneuver check using his arcanist level as his BAB and his Charisma modifier instead of his Strength modifier when calculating his CMB. Combat maneuvers are different enough from base combat that I felt this should be a separate ability than Enhanced Combat.
Enhanced Strength (Su): The arcanist can, as a swift action, use a point of his arcane reservoir to provide himself with a +10 enhancement bonus to his strength based skill checks for the next 1 minute. At 10th level, the bonus increases to +20 and the cost to 2 points. At 20th, the bonus is +30 and the cost is 3 points. At any level, he can activate this ability as an immediate action, at double the cost, to receive the bonus on his next skill check only. Seriously, a mage can’t drain some magic juice from other resources to shoulder open a door?
Instant Resistance (Su): The arcanist may, as an immediate action, use points from his arcane reservoir to provide a bonus to all saves until the end of his next turn. This bonus cannot exceed his Charisma modifier, and costs a number of points equal to the bonus granted. How many wizard duels in fiction show a caster reacting to a spell cast at them by upping their defenses?
Meta Boost (Su): Meta Boost allows the arcanist to cast a spell that has an adjusted spell level higher than he can cast. The arcanist must spend points from his reservoir equal to the difference between the spell level and the adjusted spell level in addition to using the spell slot. The maximum adjusted spell level the arcanist can cast is equal to his intelligence modifier. This was designed for low level play, so that a 1st level caster can use a metamagic feat to cast a spell at adjusted 2nd level.
Multiple Item Creation (Ex): When using item creation feats, the arcanist can now create multiple items at one time (and in one day), up to his intelligence modifier. The arcanist in my party with crazy intelligence and nothing else to do should be able to build more than one item at a time.
Quick Cantrips: The arcanist now casts cantrips with a casting time of standard action as a move action. Two cantrips can be cast in the same round by spending a full round action. Come on, cantrips are quick little tricks of magic.
Spell Mastery: The arcanist gains the Spell Mastery feat. Again, why should wizard’s have all the fun here?
Unlimited Cantrips: As long as the arcanist has points in his arcane reservoir, he can cast any cantrip that he knows. When his reservoir is empty, he can only cast cantrips that he as prepared. Again, cantrips are quick little tricks of magic.
Wand Wielder (Su): The arcanist adds his Charisma modifier (minimum +1) on caster level checks made to overcome spell resistance when using a spell contained within a wand. I had a player build a caster spent most of his energy on an array of wands, and I figured that practice makes perfect.