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Pathfinder has a lot of feats. Seriously, there’s a lot of them. Go check out the feats page on either Archives of Nethys or d20pfsrd and bask in the number of feats that are currently out there. For good reason, I’m not rating every single feat in the game. Instead, what I’m going to do is focus on a couple major areas. In general, Investigators need feats early in order to let them do their in combat strategy, but once they have that set, their feats slots become much more open, and you can do a lot of different things with your feats. Also by this point, you should know what’s more important for you to focus on for your campaign and can make more informed decisions about where to focus.
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Exotic/Martial Weapon Proficiency – You’re going to need this if you want to do swing a decent weapon. Sword canes are really sweet, but they still only deal a d6 damage. You can do better than that. This is only green because taking this feat is a last resort. It would be preferable if you could find another way to get weapon proficiency, whether that be racially, via a trait or even an ioun stone. (Green)
Power Attack – If you’re looking to do damage in melee, then this is pretty much mandatory. Unlike other skill monkey classes, you’re getting a bonus to hit, which means that you can afford to take the penalty when using studied combat. When it’s not on, I would pass. (Blue)
Furious FocusAPG – If you’re looking to Power Attack and you bought proficiency in a two-handed weapon, this is a really nice feat. At low levels it turns Power Attack into just a straight up damage bump, and at high levels it will make sure that one attack hits for decent damage (and trigger your talents that depend on dealing damage with studied combat). (Blue)
Amateur SwashbucklerACG (for Sleuths) – This is actually not a terrible idea as long as you have at least 12 Charisma. The trick here is that Opportune Parry and Riposte is a 1st level deed, which means you can pick it up as part of Amateur Swashbuckler. Note that unlike other Swashbuckler class features, you don’t need to use a one-handed piercing weapon, which means that you can go ahead and parry/riposte with a greatsword or elven curve blade if you want. If you’re taking this feat, then you should probably consider Extra Panache in order to do this a little more often. Combat Sleuths really like this feat to give them something useful for their luck pool to do along with more recharge methods for their luck pool. (Green, Blue for Sleuths)
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Honestly, this is the basic archery feat package. There’s only one different feat here from the norm.
Point-Blank Shot – It’s not great, but it’s a prerequisite for a lot of other good feats, so you’ll take it because you have to. (Green)
Precise Shot – Generally, the rest of your party is going to go into melee with the other creatures so they don’t come and smash you. I hear getting +4 to hit is a pretty good thing. (Blue)
Rapid Shot – One of the advantages of archery is that you get to make more full-attacks than the melee characters. Make your full attacks do more! (Blue)
Weapon Focus – It’s not great, but it qualifies you for the next feat. (Orange)
Ranged StudyACG – The 30ft. range limitation and the feat tax for a style that is already tight on feats hurts it, but when this feat works it is an absolute killer. Archery loves static damage modifiers, and this will bring you really close to killing anything you take a moment to study. (Blue)
Deadly Aim – More penalties to your to hit is annoying, since especially without Ranged Study you are only a 3/4 BAB character. This is decent, but you’re better off going for the feat chain that gives you a bonus to hit along with your bonus to damage first. (Green)
Clustered ShotsUC – Unlike most professional archers, you are given class abilities that let you identify monsters better and bonuses on creating the very objects you need to overcome creatures’ DR (weapon blanches). Out of all archers, you have the least amount of excuses to know a creature’s DR and how to bypass it. You shouldn’t need this. (Orange)
Manyshot – The major problem requirement here is the BAB +6. You get that at level 8, which means your first opportunity to pick up this feat will be at level 9. However non-human Investigator archers are going to run into a problem. Before 9th level, your feats look like Point-Blank, Precise, Rapid, WF(Bow), and you’re ready for that fifth feat for Ranged Study. I’m going to encourage you to do the cardinal sin of archery – not take Manyshot as soon as it becomes available. Take Ranged Study first for the same reason that you took Precise Shot as soon as you could – +4 to hit is a really big deal. Sure, you’re going to be the archer that gets Manyshot the latest, but you’re not exactly going to be hurting for attacks at this level (extract of haste gives you 4 per round), but the attack bonus is important. That said, this should totally be your next feat. (Blue)
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Amateur InvestigatorACG, Studied CombatantACG, Improved Studied CombatantACG – Despite looking like they are for your class, these are actually for people who want to poach some of your class features. You can’t take these. (Red)
Extra InspirationACG – The value of this feat varies greatly depending on how often you find yourself running out of inspiration in a day. A ranged combat inspiration character isn’t going to have the feats for this for a while, and a heavy skill monkey is probably not running out of inspiration once they take a couple talents that give them free inspiration on a bunch of skills. Melee combat inspiration users are probably right for this feat since this will give them more staying power, but other build should definitely think if there is anything better for them before taking this. Unless you’re running out of inspiration on a regular basis, you don’t really need this. (Orange)
Extra Investigator TalentACG – There are a bunch of good Investigator Talents out there. If your combat role is pretty well set, then this might not be a terrible idea. Make sure you have your combat role set first. (Green)
Focused InspirationACG – In general, this isn’t as good as the feats that give you +2 to 2 different schools. If you’re really trying to pump two skills and grabbed every other stacking feat, then maybe. Otherwise I would skip this. (Red)
Formula RecollectionACG – It most campaigns, having access to formulae shouldn’t be a problem, especially since there’s a bunch on the alchemist list you’re not going to care about because you don’t bomb. That being said, if your GM is being super stingy on adding stuff to your book, then this can be good. But otherwise, you have better things to spend your feats on. (Orange)
Inspired AlchemyACG – If you’re not the type of Investigator to spend a lot of Inspiration on combat, then this is really cool, allowing you to prepare a more versatile selection of extracts and still be able to use something multiple times if possible. Having this raises the value of Extra Inspiration since it also gives you more spells. (Green)
Inspired StrikeACG – No. Points of inspiration are going to be way more important to use as bonuses to hit or saves. Adding a d6 or d8 to damage is a waste. (Red)
Ranged StudyACG – I recommended this very highly to the archery builds up in a previous spoiler. However the fact that this only applies to one weapon means that unless you are focused in one kind of weapon, this is useless to you. *sheds a tear for his studied combat alc fire build* (Orange)
Before I start going into feats, let’s address the most famous skill feats – Skill Focus and the Alertness family. In general, we’re going to be able to do better than these feats. They’re not terrible, but we’re going to be able to do better than them in most cases unless we need them to qualify for other feats. I’m going to list out everything in the Alertness family for reference, but in general all of these feats are going to be Orange. That being said, if you’re human focused study is something to seriously consider. One Skill Focus is an okay feat, three over time is pretty nice.
Additional TraitsAPG – There a lot of decent traits out there. The real importance of this feat is if you’re halfway through a campaign and you realize you need access to a particular trait, then this can help. Also, this is one of the best ways to get a skill as a class skill after character creation without a level dip. This has a lot of minor benefits and if you need it you really need it, but in general it’s okay. (Orange)
AntagonizeUM – Usually this trick is used by tanks to force people into attacking them. They just feel awkward trying to pump two social skills really high. On the other hand, you have no problems getting your social skills really high, but the problem comes with surviving the attacks on you. If you have a decent defense and decent system master, you can make this feat work well. (Green)
BetrayerUC – I’m not mentioning this feat because it’s good – by default you don’t have any reason to want someone flat-footed besides making them slightly easier to hit. I’m mentioning this feat because it’s funny and I want to see someone use it. (Orange)
Breadth of ExperienceAPG – There’s a better feat that I’m going to mention later, but that has some flavor tax to it that this doesn’t. If you can qualify for this feat, +2 to every Knowledge skill is decent. (Blue)
ChildlikeAPG – This feat is creepy. The thing is, this is more of a GM tool than a PC tool. It’s okay to take as a player, but make sure that your character can do something first. (Orange)
CosmopolitanAPG – In general Additional Traits will do this job better, but if you really need those two class skills and you can’t get them via traits, then this is what you need. (Orange)
Deific Obedience (Irori)ISG – Remember when I said that there was going to be something better than Breadth of Experience? How about +4 to all Knowledge checks? This is really good, but it forces the worship of a specific god. If you are okay with that, then this is something you should seriously consider. (Blue)
DilettanteAPG – Breadth of Experience for people who haven’t lived for 100 years. Sure, this has the limitation of how many ranks you can have in the Knowledge skills, but if you’re not trying to me a super maxed knowledge monkey, then this can help keep your Knowledges at a decent level. Also note that Breadth of Experience, Deific Obedience (Irori) and Dilettante all stack. Heavy Skill Monkeys take note. (Blue)
Esoteric LinguisticsACG – This makes Linguistics replace one small part of Spellcraft and Use Magic Device. The problem is that you would also like to activate wands and copy formulae into your formulae book, so you’re going to still need to invest in Use Magic Device and Spellcraft. (Red)
Hermean BloodISWG – In general, Additional Traits is going to do this better. And if Additional Traits can’t do it, there’s a good chance Cosmopolitan can. This is way more a flavor feat than an actually useful feat. (Red)
Master AlchemistAPG – If you’re crafting your own alchemical items and this is a big focus for you, then this actually helps a lot. To put things in perspective, if you’re roll a 20 to craft an alchemist fire, the minimum amount required, under the normal rules that would take half a week to craft. With this feat, you could craft three alchemist fires in a day. This makes a huge difference and allows you to spend less downtime making yourself useful. (Green)
OratorACG – Another one of the feats that desperately wants players to take Skill Focus (Linguistics). While this covers more than the last SF(Linguistics) feat, this still has large holes left in the skills which means that we still need to invest in those skills. Not worth a feat. (Red)
Pass for HumanAPG– Same as Childlike, except a little less creepy. (Orange)
Sea LegsUC – This is about as good as the Alertness family. (Orange)
TechnologistTG – If your campaign is one that involves Technology, then you are going to need this feat. In fact, most of your party may be depending on you having this feat. Otherwise, this is useless. (Green)
Vioce of the SibylUM – This only competes with Persuasive if you have a use for Perform (Oratory). As an Investigator, you usually don’t have a reason to invest in Perform, but if you found one, this can be decent once you have 10 ranks in each of the skills. (Orange)
This section is for a couple general feats that didn’t fit into the above categories.
Animal AllyFOP – While you may not get the best animal companions from this feat, and it has a feat tax to even get into it, this is still going to boost your power level up pretty high. Animal companions can be a real beast if you work with them. You’ll need to build around it from character creation (Handle Animal isn’t a class skill), but if you do, the power will grow. (Blue)
Boon CompanionAnimal – This feat is pretty much necessary if you want to use Animal Ally. Having an underleveled animal companion can help, but this makes it a full-leveled enemy-devouring machine. (Blue)
Eldritch HeritageUM – There is a lot that you can do with Eldritch Heritage, although the thing that most people use it for is to get a familiar. Familiars, especially improved ones, can be a real big help, and with your skill ranks, your familiar is likely to be more helpful to the party than anyone else’s. If you’ve got decent system mastery or creativity and don’t mind statting up a familiar, I would say go for it. The power is definitely there. However, this is feat intensive, and archers should stay away. (Blue)
Fey FoundlingISWG – You are a class that can heal yourself, so Fey Foundling should come into consideration. That being said, your self-healing isn’t that great, so this isn’t as big of a deal for you as it is for other classes. (Orange)
Racial HeritageAPG – There are all sorts of tricks you can do this with, but Investigators are missing the big trick – racial archetypes. This feat does mean that if you can steal shenanigans from other races if their racial stats are bad for investigators. There’s some really cool stuff you can do with this with other class, but the Investigator is missing a lot of the cheese. (Orange)
Paizo really likes publishing traits. After all, they don’t need to be that powerful, it’s okay if they’ve duplicated the mechanical effect before as long as the flavor is new, and they only matter for new characters, so they’re not going to drastically upturn a campaign. Much like feats, I’m not going to review every single trait, but I am going to group them by their mechanical benefit and judge them as a group.
Getting New Class Skills – As an Investigator, you are only missing 5 skills from your list: Fly, Handle Animal, Ride, Survival and Swim. It is currently impossible to get Fly from a trait, but you can look to fill up 2 of the other 4 holes from your list. Getting a skill made as a class skill is the equivalent of a +3 bonus, and most of the traits also give you a +1 trait bonus to the skill on top of that, so these are all solid choices. Survival is probably the most important skill for your role as a skill monkey, although Handle Animal becomes more important if you want to train animals for combat and Swim becomes really important if your campaign has heavy uses of ships. (Blue)
Initiative – It never hurts to go faster in combat. While you won’t be optimizing initiative, having a +2 doesn’t hurt. If you’re stuck for what to do with your second trait, this is a decent choice. (Green)
Saving Throw Bonuses – Shoring up defenses is not a terrible idea, especially since once you get out of the first couple levels, you are more likely to have to make a save instead of worrying about your AC (unless of course you want to be in the front lines), so spending resources now to help them isn’t a bad thing. Fortitude is your bad save, so if you’re planning on boosting it with some other resources as well, a +1 isn’t a terrible investment. If your attitude towards Fortitude is “Eh, I’m going to fail it anyway,” then a slight bump to Reflex or Will couldn’t hurt. (Green)
Aid Another Bonuses – If you’re doing aid another shenanigans, then you’re going to need the trait to go along with it! Helpful Halfling is the gold standard of Aid Another traits, but there are some other options if you don’t want your character to be raised by the pint-sized. (This is rated blue for Helpful Halfling, although all the others are really at green.)
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Spell-Like Abilities – There are a couple traits out there that give you a spell-like ability a certain number of times per day. While the cantrip they give you is okay, the real benefit here is that they allow you to count as an arcane or divine spellcaster for things that require that (like Arcane Strike). The aid another build wants one of these to qualify for Arcane Strike so they can get gloves of arcane striking, but depending on where you want to go with your character, these can open up some more unusual options. (Green)
Note that the ones that operate at your highest caster level still work for you – you have a caster level as an Investigator, just not the ability to cast arcane or divine spells.
Other Traits – These traits don’t fit into the other categories mentioned above, but are still worth pointing out for power reasons.