Pathfinder - The Inquisitor Handbook
Last Updated: November 29, 2017
I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.
The Inquisitor is, in many ways, the Divine equivalent of the Bard. Inquisitors get 6+ skills with a wide skill list, 6th level spells, medium BAB, and can fill nearly any role in a party.
Because teamwork feats generally only work in melee, Inquisitors are typically melee characters.
Inquisitor Class Features
Hit Points: d8 hit points isn't much for a character on the front line, but it's enough to take a few hits. Fortunately you get medium armor and shields, and you have good saves.
Base Attack Bonus: At medium BAB, the Inquisitor can hold their own with a weapon, but don't expect to fight it out with a fighter and win.
Saves: With good Fortitude and Will saves, and with reasonable dexterity, the Inquisitor's saves are good across the board.
Proficiencies: Simple weapons, shields, and medium armor would be enough to get the job done, but the Inquisitor gets a few other options as well. Most notably, the Inquisitor gets proficiency with the repeating crossbow. I would never recommend using one, but it's ammusing to know that the Inquisitor doesn't need a feat to do so.
Skills: 6+ skill points will let you do a lot of things. The Inquistitor's skill list include all of the face skills, all of the most important knowledge skills, Perception, and Stealth. You can do almost everyting but pick locks.
Spells: The inquisitor learns and casts spells like a Bard: they have a limited list of spells known, and can cast them spontaneously.
Domain: The domain abilities are only half of what makes a domain good, and without the spell list the value of a domain changes greatly. You can also take an Inquisition in place of a domain. See my Cleric Domain Breakdown for help choosing a domain.
Judgment (Su): A few times per day the Inquisitor can choose an ongoing buff which lasts for an entire combat. Many of the buffs are great, and provide bonuses which you usually need to plan well in advance.
- Destruction: There are much better ways to get damage bonuses this size.
- Healing: This is the only inquisition that you would really want to last beyond the end of the combat. Fast healing can do a lot to compensate for the Inquisitor's d8 hit points, especially in long, protracted fights.
- Justice: You should be good enough at hitting things that you don't need this, but once in a while it can be nice to hit more often than usual.
- Piercing: Because Inquisitors aren't primary casters, they typically shouldn't cast a lot of spells agains their enemies, especially those with spell resistance. The bonus to concentration checks is nice, but you will generally only need to concentrate to caste defensively, and your highest DC is only 21.
- Protection: Sacred bonuses are extremely rare, so this will stack with almost anything you have. The bonus doesn't scale very quickly, but it can be very nice if you need a little more AC.
- Purity: This can be fantastic when facing enemy spellcasters or enemies with scary special abilities like dragons.
- Resiliency: This is great against enemies with numerous small attacks (or numerous small enemies). Against enemies with small numbers of big attacks, Healing or Protection may be better choices.
- Resistance: It's not a ton of resistance, but it's quick to activate. If your enemy is only dealing energy damage every few rounds, you may do better to use the Healing inquisition and recover HP in the rounds between energy attacks.
- Smiting: Very helpful for handling DR on outsiders and golems.
Monster Lore (Ex): Very helpful for identifying monsters.
Stern Gaze (Ex): This helps quite a bit if you are the party's face.
Cunning Initiative (Ex): Initiative bonuses are always fantastic.
Detect Alignment (Sp): Great for scouting and for determining people's alignments.
Track (Ex): Situational, and very rarely important.
Solo Tactics (Ex): Take Precise Strike to get bonus damage when flanking. Take Coordinated Charge to follow your allies when they charge. This makes teamwork feats much better without requiring your allies to contibute.
Teamwork Feat: Combined with Solo Tactics, this grants you a huge number of tactical options. You also get the ability to change your most recently gained teamwork feat, which means you can change to something with difficult prerequisites or a situational use case.
Bane (Su): Bane is almost never a good choice for a permanent weapon enhancement because you can never gurantee that it will be useful. Inquisitors can throw it on their weapon and gurantee that it will be effective. Unfortunately, the number of rounds per day is very small, so save this for big important enemies. Note that bane also allows you to bypass DR.
Discern Lies (Sp): Situational, and you should already be great at Sense Motive due to Stern Gaze. You also have the spell Discern Lies avaialable as 4th level spell.
Second Judgment (Ex): As though Judgment wasn't cool enough, now you get to use two at a time.
Stalwart (Ex): Like evasion for Will and Fortitude saves. Combined with a Ring of Evasion and good saving throw bonuses, you can be effectively immune to anything with a saving throw. I'm not sure why you can't do this in heavy armor, but that's not a problem really.
Greater Bane (Su): Here, have a bunch more damage.
Exploit Weakness (Ex): It is difficult to bring this to bear, but it's a very cool flavor.
Third Judgment (Ex): Three Judgments at once. Turn on Healing, Protection, and Purity, and you're basically indestructible.
Slayer (Ex): Increase the bonus from one of your Judgment types by 1 or 2, depending on the Judgment and your level.
True Judgment (Su): Save or Die with a decent DC, and you can use it once every 1d4 rounds with almsot no preperation.
Unfortunately, their wide range of abilities also makes the Inquisitor somewhat Multiple Ability Dependent (MAD). When planning your Inquisitor, be sure to decide which roles you wish to focus on and adjust your ability scores accordingly. This guide assumes that the Inquisitor is primarily a melee character, and these ability scores reflect that decision.
Str: Likely your primary combat ability score. Teamwork feats, which are a major part of the class, typically depend on being in melee combat alongside your allies. Because you have other capabilities, you aren't as dependent on strength as Fighters or other strictly combat-focused classes, so you don't need to dump all of your resources into Strength. Even if you prefer ranged weapons, Strength is an important source of additional damage.
Dex: Breastplate has a maximum dexterity bonus of +3, so a 16 in dexterity goes a long way to boost your AC, your worst save, and your ranged attacks.
Con: Always key for hit points, especially with your.
Int: Not strictly necessary, but nice for skill ranks and Knowledge skills.
Wis: Your spellcasting ability. Becuase you're a 2/3 caster and don't rely on direct spells to defeat opponents, you don't need to focus on Wisdom in order to boost your AC. You won't need more than 16 Wisdom, and you won't need that much for quite a while, so don't take more than 15 Wisdom at start to save points.
Cha: Unless you plan to be a Face, dump Charisma. Even if you need Intimidate, Stern Gaze gives you more than enough of a bonus to overcome an ability penalty. You can also take the Conversion Inquisition, which allows you to use your Wisdom score in place of Charisma for social skills.
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Your race determines a lot of your other character decisions as an Inquisitor. Bonuses to ability scores can allow you to shift ability score buy points around to focus on other areas. Racial proficiency with a good weapon is nice, and extra vision types are fantastic if you plan to be stealthy.
Dwarf: Bonuses to both constitution and your casting ability are nice, plus you get Darkvision, proficiency with the Dwarven Waraxe, and some nice defensive bonuses. The penalty to Charisma makes it hard to be a Face, but you can excel at everything else that an Inquisitor does. If you have a favorite Judgment, the Dwarf favored class option can be a good choice.
Elf: The Elf might make for a good ranged Inquisitor, but most of the Elf's spellcasting-related abilities are wasted on the Inquisitor. The Elf favored class bonus allows you to learn additional spells, but Inquisitors are not primarily defined by their spells.
Gnome: Gnomes don't get anything that benefits an Inquisitor.
Half-Elf: The flexible ability bonus is always nice, and Skill Focus can be nice to compensate for low ability scores. Low-light vision is situational, but nice to have. Consider taking the Drow-Blooded alternate racial trait to get Darkvision, and the Half-Elf favored class bonus is helpful if you depend heavily on teamwork feats. If you don't want to lean on Teamwork feats a lot, you can take the Elf or Human favored class bonuses to learn extra spells.
Half-Orc: The half-orc gets proficiency with the Falchion (one of the best two-handed weapons), a racial bonus to Intimidate, darkvision, and a flexible ability score bonus. These bonuses work very well for the Inquisitor. The Half-Orc favored class bonus isn't great, so consider taking the Human favored class bonus to get extra spells known.
Halfling: Good for stealthy or social Inquisitors who prefer ranged weapons. The Halfling favored class bonus is helpful if you depend heavily on teamwork feats.
Human: Always a good choice, you can put your ability score enhancement in almost any ability, and the skill points are always useful. The Human favored class bonus allows you to learn additional spells, but Inquisitors are not primarily defined by their spells.
- Axe to Grind (Combat): You should generally be fighting alongside your allies to take advantage of your teamwork feats, but sometimes it's nice to work alone.
- Deft Dodger (Combat): Reflex saves are your worst save, so this is a good way to round out your defenses if you are not focused on ranged combat.
- Dirty Fighter (Combat): 1 damage isn't much, but melee inquisitors do very well while flanking, so this can play into your combat strategy very well.
- Reactionary (Combat): Initiative bonuses are great, but not as important for Inquisitors as they are for primary casters or chargers.
- Resilient (Combat): Bonus to one of your good saves.
- Beacon of Faith (Faith): This can be really fantastic if your domain/inquisition is good.
- Disdainful Defender (Faith): Divine spells are half of all spells. If you expect to face divine spellcaster enemies, this is fantastic.
- Fate's Favored (Faith): Works with some of your buff spells like Divine Favor and Divine Power.
- Indomitable Faith (Faith): Bonus to one of your good saves.
- Inspired (Faith): This is fantastic for any character who uses alot of skills.
- Schooled Inquisitor (Faith): Surprisingly bad, considering the name. Monster Lore should provide enough bonus that this won't matter.
- Zealous Striker (Faith): Considering how situational this is, the bonus is pretty terrible.
- Dangerously Curious (Magic): If you have enough Charisma to be a face, this can make UMD very viable for you.
- Magical Knack (Magic): This is essential if you plan to multiclass.
- Bruising Intellect (Social): If you want to be really good at intimidate, but still don't want to invest in Charisma, this can work very well for you.
- Child of the Streets (Social): If you plan to be the party's Scout, this may be useful.
- Criminal (Social): Disable Device is a good choice if you plan to serve as the party's Scout, though you don't have Trapfinding.
- Warrior of Old (Elf Racial): See Reactionary.
- Elven Reflexes (Half-Elf Racial): See Reactionary.
- Bluff (Cha): Important social skill if you plan to be a Face.
- Climb (Str): Too situational to justify more than one rank.
- Diplomacy (Cha): The best social skill.
- Disguise (Cha): Very situational, but might be worth a rank if you can make it useful.
- Heal (Wis): Heal is an excellent way to supplement your party's healing capabilities wihtout expensive magic items, but if you have someone in the party with a better Wisdom bonus, defer to them.
- Intimidate (Cha): Important social skill if you plan to be a Face, and you get a hefty bonus from Stern Gaze.
- Knowledge (arcana) (Int): Identifies many types of monsters. You get a class bonus to identify monsters, so you don't need to max this, but it certainly doesn't hurt to do so if your party needs a Librarian.
- Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int): Identifies many types of monsters. You get a class bonus to identify monsters, so you don't need to max this, but it certainly doesn't hurt to do so if your party needs a Librarian.
- Knowledge (nature) (Int): Identifies animals. You get a class bonus to identify monsters, so you don't need to max this, but it certainly doesn't hurt to do so if your party needs a Librarian.
- Knowledge (planes) (Int): Identifies outsiders. You get a class bonus to identify monsters, so you don't need to max this, but it certainly doesn't hurt to do so if your party needs a Librarian.
- Knowledge (religion) (Int): Identifies undead. You get a class bonus to identify monsters, so you don't need to max this, but it certainly doesn't hurt to do so if your party needs a Librarian.
- Perception (Wis): The most rolled skill in the game. Wisdom is your spellcasting stat, so you should be good at this.
- Ride (Dex): If you plan to be mounted often, one rank is probably enough. If you're looking for a Mounted Combat build, the Inquisitor is not the right class for it.
- Sense Motive (Wis): Important social skill if you plan to be a Face, or if your face doesn't have it, and you get a hefty bonus from Stern Gaze.
- Spellcraft (Int): Definitely worth at least one rank to attempt to identify spells. but if you have other people in the party with Spellcraft don't bother investing too heavily.
- Stealth (Dex): If you plan to be the party's Scout, this is essential. If you have a Rogue or another scout, don't worry about it.
- Survival (Wis): Useful for tracking, but because you get a class bonus to Track, don't spend more than a few ranks.
- Swim (Str): Too situational to justify more than one rank.
Suggesting feats for inquisitors is hard. They're a versatile class that can do a lot of things, but they also don't have any obvious feat themes to pursue. Perhaps the best comparison is to a vanilla fighter: tons of options, but you're not comitted to any of them by default. Teamwork feats seem tempting, but since you don't get a way to share them with allies, they're no more useful for an inquisitor than for anyone else. However, there are a handful of feats which specifically pertain to Inquisitors which we can examine.
- Channeling Scoure: Your Inquisitor levels stack with whatever class gave you Channel Energy. If you really like Channel Energy and want to multiclass, this might be useful, but that's a really specific build.
- Instant Judgment: About to be dropped below 0 hit points? About to be targeted with a save-or-suck spell? Use your Immediate Action and switch your Judgment to keep yourself alive. You can normally switch your Judgment on your turn as a swift action, but that requires knowing what you will need ahead of time. You can't always do that, unfortunately, so this offers a wonderful defensive option.
- Righteous Healing: First, it's in-combat healing. Unless someone is unconcious, in-combat healing is usually a terrible idea. Second, the amount healed is very small.
- Shared Judgment: Extremely versatile. Chances are good that whatever Judgment you pick will be useful for someone else in the party. Worst-case scenario, use this with the Healing Judgment to save someone who's low on hit points. Of course, it's somewhat redundant with the Lend Judgment spell, and learning a spell is a much lower investment if you don't plan to use this frequently. Plus, Lend Judgement lets you both benefit from the effect.
The Inquisitor has limited weapon proficiencies. Because I can't guess at your setting, your pantheon, or character's deity, I am only able to assess the weapons available to all Inquisitors.
- Crossbow, Heavy Repeating: Amusing but terrible.
- Heavy Mace: Strictly worse than the morningstar.
- Morningstar: The best one-handed simple weapon. It is cheaper and lighter than a heavy mace, does the same damage, and can bypass two types of DR instead of one.
- Longbow: Even if you aren't built for ranged combat you should carry a Longbow. The range is fantastic, and mighty composite longbows are the gold standard of ranged combat.
- Longspear: The only weapon available to the nquisitor which grants reach. Reach is pretty awesome, and there aren't any simple weapons that deal more damage than a d8.
- Shortspear: The shortspear has all of the benefits of a spear, but allows you to use a shield in exchange for a slightly smaller damage die.
- Spear: The spear trades the longspear's reach for a range increment, allowing you to throw the spear without penalty. This can be a fun tactical option, but throwing your primary melee weapon generally leaves you unarmed and ineffective.
- Deity's Favored Weapon: Compare your deity's favored weapon to the other options available. Most choices will be on par with a longsword, which is a fine choice if you prefer to use a one-handed weapon.
- Breastplate: The heaviest armor with which you are proficient. If you plan to be in melee, this is the way to go. If you plan to be an archer, Mithral Breastplate may still be viable, but you may need to use lighter armor as your dexterity increases.
- Buckler: If you want to use a two-handed weapon, cast spells during combat, or use a ranged weapon, the buckler is the way to go. It only provides one less AC than a heavy shield, and provides a lot of versatility.
- Light Shield: Unless you plan on shield bashing (and you shouldn't), the buckler is strictly better.
- Heavy Shield: If you need AC and don't mind giving up some damage output, take a heavy shield. You will need to drop your weapon to cast spells, so plan to use your spells outside of combat.
This section won't address every spell on your spell list, but it will point out some especially notable options. For a complete list of spells, see the SRD Spell Index.
- Guidance: +1 to basically any d20 roll except a saving throw. Absolutely fantastic out of combat to buff people's skill checks.
- Virtue: There's nothing stopping you from walking around and casting this repeatedly to ensure that you always start a fight with 1 temporary hit point.
- Lend Judgement: Ocasionally it may be useful to share your favorite buff with a friend. Because Judgment can do so much, it makes Lend Judgment an extremely versatile spell.
- Wrath: Divine Favor is typically better.
- Blistering Invective: Demoralizing an entire encounter with one spell is a huge advantage. The fire damage is a nice bonus, but that's not what you want fromm this spell.
- Honeyed Tongue: Amazing if you're the party's Face.
- Interrogation: Torture is a touchy subject in many games. But hey, if you're comfortable torturing captives for information, this can really help things along. Combined with Zone of Truth you can achieve some truly impressive results.
- Invisibility: Always a good option.
- Knock: Replaces half of Disable Device.
- See Invisibility: Good duration and absolutely essential if you don't have other options in the party for handling invisibile creatures. A great candidate for permanency.
- Deadly Juggernaut: Inquisitors don't get much from their class to make them murder machines. You'll have better luck with Divine Favor.
- Dispel Magic: Essential in any party. You still get full caster level, so you're just as good at this as a Cleric.
- Magic Vestment: One of my favorite buffs. You get the spell later than clerics, but you still get full caster level progression so the bonus is just as good. However, Inquisitors frequently go for two-handed weapons instead of shields, and without a shield you won't enjoy this spell as much as a cleric would.
- Magic Weapon, Greater: One of my favorite buffs. You get the spell later than clerics, but you still get full caster level progression so the bonus is just as good. This will save you a fortune, but you'll still need to spend gold if you want interesting weapon abilities.
- Stunning Bearier, Greater: An excellent defensive option, but the defensive bonuses won't stack with Judgement and common defensive items. RAW you can stun the same creature repeatedly ("It is not discharged until it has stunned a number of creatures..."), but the intent is clearly that you can stun things a number of times equal to your caster level.
- Interrogation, greater: The improved damage is pointless, and using a 4th-level spell slot in place of two 1st-level spell slots if probably a poor choice.
- Divine Power: Divine Favor and the best part of Haste at the same time.
- Lend Judgement, Greater: By this level you have two judgements and you're close to getting a third.
- Heal: Ideally, the only in-combat healing that you will ever need.
- Jurist (+1): Awful. Fortunately, only Inquisitors get to use it, so no one else will be disappointed by it.
- Menacing (+1): If you're built for flanking, this can be really worthwhile. Outflank is an easy and reliable option for your bonus Teamwork Feats, and a combined +6 to hit while flanking is fantastic.
- Ominous (+1): A bonus to Intimidate, and if you score a critical hit the target is Shaken. This sounds tempting, but the skill bonus is tiny and the DC 13 Will save to resist the Shaken effect is worthless..
- Animated (+2): A +1 Heavy Shield is just over 9000 gp, and provides a +4 bonus to AC. That's more cost-efficient than any comparable magic increase to your AC.
- Protection: You have a lot of spells which provide defelction bonuses to AC.
- Cloak of Resistance: Too crucial to forego.
Multiclassing and Prestige Classes
Choosing to multiclass depends heavily on your role in the party. Giving up levels of Inquisitor cuts into your spellcasting abilities and your class abilities, so think long and hard before giving up class levels.
- Rogue: One level gets you Trapfinding and Sneak Attack. Two gets you evasion and a Rogue Talent. You also get several skills as class skills (Disable Device, Knowledge (Local)) which the Inquisitor does not receive by default. If you plan to be a Scout for the party, you could do much worse.
- Fighter: Bonus feats and weapon and armor proficiencies. Good for a dip if you are one of your party's major front-line characters.