Driven by negativity and sheer violence, the Harbinger lives to spread havoc in the battlefield with their supernatural abilities despite the fact that they are not spellcasters.
It’s extremely rare to find a Harbinger who doesn’t have some sort of evil or greedy intention when embarking on a new adventure. When pursuing this class, it’s best to think of it as a Barbarian if they multiclassed as a Warlock due to their pure aggression with the aid of strange, but uncastable magic.
Below is a compilation of lists that are in no specific order. I have never heard of the Harbinger class prior to this research so all of this information will be purely from the research I did and my opinions on it. That being said, all of my opinions on this matter are subjective so take it as you will.
Best Spells – N/A
The Harbinger class does not have any spellcasting abilities. They do not have access to any spells unless it’s through a magic item that they may obtain.
1. Extra Readied Maneuver
Harbingers already have the ability to ready three of the five maneuvers they can learn. However, with this feat, Harbingers have the ability to have an extra readied one as the name implies. The more maneuvers they have, the more damage they can do, so why not make one of their strongest class features even stronger?
2. Victorious Recovery
Honestly one of the strongest feats to have and after doing my research on Harbingers, this feat is arguably one of the best ones that they can have. It’s basically a kill reset on the Harbinger which works for the sake of their story building and to deal more damage to incoming enemies. In simpler terms, if a Harbinger kills an enemy, they restore the amount of maneuvers equal to their initiative bonus/modifier.
3. Sin Eater
Did I pick this feat because just the idea of it is super cool? Yes. Does that make this feat any less useful? Absolutely not. Basically, whenever the Harbinger Claims a creature with their Dark Claim class feature, and that creature is brought down to 0 hit points, the Harbinger then gains twice the amount of hit dice that creature had. Extremely useful to have and works great with a hard-hitting playstyle.
4. Grasp of Darkness
Once the Harbinger uses their Dark Claim class feature, they recover two expended maneuvers and claim two additional opponents within a short range (5-10 ft.), but they do not recover additional maneuvers besides the one granted by Grasp of Darkness. Once again, another feat that helps enhance the ability of one of the Harbinger’s class features by utilizing another class feature. Why shouldn’t Harbinger’s not abuse this feat?
5. Mirror of the Moon
In order to put this feat to use, Harbingers do need to be level 4 or higher with either Two Shattered Mirror maneuvers or two Veiled Moon maneuvers known. Despite the otherwise hindering prerequisites, the potential that the Harbingers have with this feat is extremely efficient since the class allows you to teleport and this feat activates whenever they use that teleporting ability.
Within combat, for example, Harbingers can teleport, leaving a major image of themselves with the feat, and sneak up from behind the creature and get some damage off from behind as a surprise attack. Of course, there are multiple ways of utilizing this supernatural ability (which is only limited to the player’s creativity), but that was just an example.
1. Belt of Incredible Dexterity
Although they prioritize Intelligence more than Dexterity, Harbingers are arguably the most mobile class in all of Pathfinder. Wearing this belt will help the Harbinger bring up their AC (for the first 24 hours), their damage with their proficient weapons, and have their mobility reach untouchable heights with the increase in Dexterity. It’s a very straightforward item, but effective in the hands of the Harbinger.
2. Nightmare Boots
I can personally see this item being a prized possession of a Harbinger due to the sheer power that it holds. Once again, Harbingers are arguably the most mobile class in Pathfinder, so they will, in most scenarios, be attacking and running in every which direction.
As if they were slippery enough, with the Nightmare Boots, they give the Harbinger concealment with a 20% miss chance, allowing the player to have an opportunity attack as another creature tries to attack them.
Then, three times a day, the Harbinger with the boots are able to grant concealment again at the end of their turn. Then on top of all of that, the boots do fire damage that the enemy must make a saving throw to half the damage done- only giving the class even more damage to work with.
3. Cloak of Etherealness
For ten minutes per day, any time they want, the Harbinger can use this item to become ethereal (invisible). I personally like this item since it gives the Harbinger a hint of sneakiness, giving them more opportunity and/or surprise attacks.
I also like the fact that it can be used in minute increments rather than the full ten minutes in one use. This way, it can be used in any type of encounter other than just combat-based. It could be useful within any class, but to have it on someone who can teleport and have a lot of mobility just seems more fitting.
4. Deathwatch Eyes
Extremely useful when paired with a few of the feats listed above. This item is perfect for a Harbinger who wishes death and violence upon those around them. It shows the Harbinger the conditions and locations of creatures that are near death, undead, or neither alive nor dead (ex: a construct) within a 3ft cone. With this item, Harbingers can finish off the weak and use a couple of the feats such as Victorious Recovery or Sin Eater once the deed is done.
5. Buffering Cap
Since the Harbinger will not be prioritizing Constitution, critical strikes can be lethal to them. If the Harbinger is building their class correctly, they should be hard to hit and should be able to take a couple of hits anyway. However, when a critical hit does land, it may cause things to look a little grim for the Harbinger.
For this scenario, this item would be best for when they do happen (which should be rarely unless they are extremely unlucky), they can use their immediate action for the day to turn the damage into nonlethal damage.
Tips and Tricks
This section is just tips and tricks that I would advise after doing some research on the class. All of these tips are objective for anyone who can play and build a Harbinger however they wish. These tricks are just how I would see the Harbinger to be used to make them as powerful as they can possibly be.
1. Choose a Mobile, Intelligent Race
It may seem weird for an aggressive class, but a Harbinger’s Intelligence modifier is their initiative while it also helps with spell saves, accuracy and damage output. That being said, it would probably be best to use a race that offers Harbingers- usually humanoids since they usually have decent Intelligence and are able to be mobile.
If you are to choose a race such as a halfling or an orc, you would find that you’re either not as mobile as you’d want to be nor as Intelligent as you could be.
2. Nothing but Maneuvers
A lot of a Harbinger’s turn will consist of attacking, moving around and using their Maneuvers. As stated before, the more Maneuvers the better, since it gives you the opportunity to put more damage in.
Maneuvers do take about 10 minutes of “training”, so if the Harbinger knows that they are going to be fighting, they should make sure to take those ten minutes prior to the fight. The maneuvers are readied once combat begins, so it doesn’t hurt to have it ready before they embark on their journey or go into a boss fight.
3. Remember your Feats!
Once you have chosen your feat as a Harbinger, it’s important to have it in mind when creating a play style because, yes, your feat will dictate how the Harbinger should be playing.
Most of the Harbinger’s feats aid one of their class features, so once the feat is decided, the player should be prioritizing and utilizing whatever class feature that the feat is reinforcing. For example, if the player chose Grasp of Darkness as their feat, they should be prioritizing and utilizing their Dark Claim class feature during combat.
Pros and Cons
- Lots of Feats to Choose From: The Harbinger has a lot of options when it comes to feats since a good portion of them seem to be almost tailored for the class itself. You can either choose to have the Harbinger to basically have another action, attack, or even gain something from defeating a creature. It’s all a matter of how the player wishes to play. With all these feats to choose from, it arguably makes the Harbinger very versatile to play with all the mobility they have and everything they can gain from their feats.
- All the Mobility: as stated before, Harbingers are the most mobile class in all of Pathfinder. They may not hit as hard as some of the classes (although they are capable of doing a substantial amount of damage), but they are quite slippery to do damage from all angles making them a fly in the room. This means they should be able to damage multiple targets at once if they are close enough together even if they don’t max out their Dexterity score. Or, maybe even possibly work together with their party members to trick a few creatures as the Harbinger sneaks up from behind them with all the mobility they possess.
- Extremely Strong At Higher Levels: During their lower levels, Harbingers do come out strong, however once they reach level 9-10 is when they will really begin to shine. They gain the ability to choose within their Grim News class feature, and get Massacre and Accursed Will. Meaning, not only could they have even more mobility, but they will be able to utilize their feats to make them even more powerful. Then, of course they gain more uses to their already powerful class features they get at lower levels.
- Excellent Trackers: Even if a target were to run away, if the target is Claimed by the Harbinger, they have practically nowhere to run. And if the Harbinger wishes to fulfill their character’s greed and possibly get something from their class feature or feat, the Claimed target will be killed. This means that if the party loses track of a creature, the Harbinger will be sure to find it to make sure nothing is left.
- Basic Background: Although the Harbinger does possess supernatural abilities, they do not possess any access to spellcasting. Roleplaying-wise they are considered the “basic emo/edgy class” according to research who only want violence. Although the way they are played can vary, they usually are played the aggressive “get in, get out” way in which they attack with their mobility and get out with their mobility. They aren’t meant to be played with range nor should they be staying in the frontlines to soak up damage. They also are very limited in which races they can choose if the player wishes to play optimally.
- No Second Feat: The Harbingers do not get a second feat as they level up but instead levels up their class feature, Dark Focus. With Dark Focus, instead of choosing their next feat, they choose between Advanced Study or Discipline Focus. While those feats do go well and are strong on the Harbinger, I feel as if it would be a little more fun and versatile if instead of leveling up a class feature, the player could choose another feat. For example, have them have the feats Victorious Recovery and Sin Eater rather than having a “cookie cutter” leveling up with bonuses and save DCs.
- Early Game Crutch: Are the features that Harbingers get at early levels strong? Yes. However, there’s only so much they can do during one turn. Most likely, in order for them to be at their full potential to do as much damage as they wish, they will most likely have to wait for later levels. I can see a lot of players playing the Harbinger and just waiting for them to reach a certain level so they can achieve the amount of “actions” they can do in a span of one turn.