Author: Dices Correr – Last updated October 22nd 2022
This handbook follows the same color coding scheme which is common among other handbooks or build guides for Pathfinder. To help with those that have difficulty with colors there is also a “star” rating, with 1 being the lowest and 4 being the highest. If any word is color-coded then it is referencing those ratings, though in the case of blue text with underlines they are hyperlinks to the specific word’s rules or reference page.
- Red: Bad. These are normally the worst parts of a feature or parts you should not focus on.
- Orange: Ok. Features that function but are not generally outstanding.
- Green: Good. Reasonably applicable and can work in many situations.
- Blue: Fantastic. Parts you will love having or should try your best to maintain.
Often called a jack of all trades, master of none, the red mage is traditionally known for being able to cast both black and white magic while still being able to handle a sword. In later games, they were even able to either seamless weave their magic into their combat or have the ability to rapidly cast spells more easily than the other spellcasters. In FFd20, this was translated into giving them access to the Spell Combat and Spellstrike class features of Pathfinder’s magus while also giving them a new class feature called Quick Casts to let them cast as a swift action. Add in a more skill ranks and a more diverse skill pool, and suddenly you have a surprisingly versatile offensive warrior-mage.
Hit Points: d8 hit points for a front-line class could be better.
Base Attack Bonus: 3/4 is one step below maximum, but as long as you take advantage of your Arcane Pool and other features that boost attack rolls or partially ignore AC, you can manage.
Saves: Good Fort and Will saves, and Dex builds can improve the Ref to be just as good if not better.
Proficiencies: Has access to all simple, martial, and power weapons in addition to light and medium armor plus shields. The rapier is all you really need weapon wise, but initially (unless your medium armor is made of mithril) Armored Mage only works with light armor. Either way, the only shield you’ll likely to use is a buckler. Overall, you should have everything you need.
Skills: 6+Int skill ranks with a wide range skills. Despite Cha being your main casting stat, Int is also used for the spell damage boost from Ruby Knowledge, meaning you should have more than 6 ranks when building for skills.
Spells: As a 3/4 caster that borrows heavily from the Black and White Mage spell lists while also having some exclusive spells of their own (most of which are swift actions), the spells are pretty decent.
Cantrips: Has most of the standard Black and White cantrips, but nothing special besides the ranged touch Elemental Orb being compatible with Spellstrike.
Spell Proficiency (Ex): A required secondary ability for ranged touch spellcasting.
Red Magery (Ex): As standard for the Red, White, Blue, and Black Mages, at 1st level and every four levels after, you can alter your magic in unique ways. In the case of the red mage, you get the following options:
- Extra Quick Casts: Without this, your maximum number of Quick Casts would be 4/day at 18th level. If this is taken, that number increases by an additional time per day, the maximum of 6/day.
- Quick Mind: An extra swift/immediate action is needed for most of your class features. Take this twice, and you’ll have a total of three swift/immediate actions per round.
- Ruby Knowledge Mastery: One extra point of damage or healing when taken, with a total of two extra points when maxed out. You can boost your Int and Wis with items.
- Spell Combat Expertise: Lowers the -2 penalty for using Spell Combat by 1 (to a minimum of 0). This is especially helpful if you wish to take an additional penalty for your concentration checks.
Spell Combat: A full-attack with a light/one-handed melee weapon and a standard action spell cast in exchange for a full-round action and a -2 penalty to attack rolls? The potential for damage output is high. Alternatively, you can use your standard action to cast an enhancing spell for later.
Armored Mage: Needed to cast in light or medium armor. Initially only works with light armor and shields, but mithral can have your medium armor be treated as light armor, so this isn’t too much of an issue.
Arcane Pool: Fuels most of the unique abilities of the red mage, particularly their ability to enhance their weapon. Come 6th level you can add weapon abilities to your weapon. Avoid using the Arcane Pool to enhance your weapon with the Keen property; that should already be on your rapier by default. The Arcane Pool should be used to compliment your weapon with other abilities.
Spellstrike: In exchange for making your spells a melee weapon attack, it gains the critical range of the weapon you’re using. This is where that rapier comes into play. As long as you keep your attack bonus high, your damage output should be high too. If you can’t keep the attack bonus high, switch to Spell Combat to resolve your spells as ranged touch spells.
Quick Learner: Provides the red mage with one of the following:
- Advanced Learning (Ex): Lets you add a single new spell from the black or white mage spell list to your own list of spells. Technically worse than the Spell Blending ruby arcana, but opportunities like this don’t come everyday, and this allows you to get either light magic, dark magic, or some decent spells normally exclusive to the black or white mage.
- Bonus Metamagic Feat: Self explanatory. Use this to gain Intensified Spell at 6th level for Shocking Grasp and your -ra spells, get Extend Spell to increase the duration of your buffs, or any other metamagic feat you qualify for. This option gets replaced at 19th level with Innate Spell.
- Weapon Bond (Ex): Gain Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, or Greater Weapon Focus as a bonus feat with a single weapon (when each one is offered). Can only be taken once each (locking you into one weapon), but it’ll boost your attack bonus and allows you to take these feats before meeting the prerequisites.
Innate Spell (Ex): At 19th level, you should have enough MP to where casting a single 1st level spell at will won’t be necessary. On the other hand, the ability to cast Deflect at will as a spell-like ability may be too good to pass up.
Ruby Arcana: The “talents” of the red mage.
Ruby Knowledge (Ex): Lets you add your Int modifier to your variable offensive elemental spells and your Wis modifier to your variable healing spells. For example, this makes your Fire spell deal 1d6+Cha+CL+Int points of damage, or your Cura heal 1d6/CL+Wis points of HP. “However, always remember that you are a Cha-based caster, so don’t invest too much in Int or Wis.”
Quick Cast (Ex): The ability to cast a single standard action spell as a swift action is the recipe for so much cheese. Yes please.
Spell Power (Ex): Spell Resistance can shut down any spellcaster, red mage included. Any boost to over come SR is always welcome.
Clear Mind (Ex): The rate and conditions for the MP recovery make this impossible to benefit from in combat, but if you have hours of downtime, this will work.
Convert (Ex): Useful in a pinch, but if your hit die is a d8 and you’re unlikely to run low on MP, you shouldn’t have to use this. Outside of combat, however, you can combine this with Regen to recover both HP and MP. Don’t use it in combat, take advantage outside.
Improved Spell Combat (Ex): A boost to concentration is always welcome for a gish character, and getting an automatic +2 to concentration checks without taking the penalty from Spell Combat is appreciated.
Jack-of-All-Trades (Ex): If you wanted a skill before now, you would have put ranks into it long before 11th level. The 15th level upgrade is decent enough, saves the need to get traits that make certain skills class skills. But 19th level is where this gets the most benefit; never underestimate the power of taking 10 on a skill check.
Fighter Training (Ex): Between Weapon Bond providing Weapon Specialization and Greater Weapon Focus and Ruby Arcana providing Disruptive and Spellbreaker, there aren’t many Fighter feats you need beyond this point (besides Weapon Mastery feats). Unless you’re willing to invest in feats for Weapon Specialization (spell).
Greater Spell Combat (Ex): The offer is certainly tempting, but by now your Concentration check is 14 + Cha. Assuming a very modest 18 Cha, you can roll a 1, score a 19, and cast a 4th level spell guaranteed. At level 15 you are guaranteed to succeed when casting 5th level spells, and at level 16 you are guaranteed to succeed with 6th level spells. This ability is completely unnecessary unless you are fighting someone with the Disruptive feat.
Doublecast (Su): As if the Quick Casts didn’t make you crazy enough, being able to cast two spells as a standard action on top of the Quick Casts make you a spellstorm. As long as you have the MP (and uses per day), you may be able to end fights quickly.
Counterstrike (Ex): The free attack is nice, but not being able to disrupt the spell really handicaps this ability. If you don’t have Step Up, you probably will never get to use this.
1 MP Spell: Reducing the cost of any spell (metamagic or otherwise) to 1 MP helps. However, at this point you won’t have to worry about MP and even with the Quick Casts, Convert will let you recover MP out of combat.
Red Wizard (Su): The ability to forego casting defensively is a token gesture because at this point you could automatically cast any of your spells defensively with an Cha score of 10. The flexible bonus is nice, though.
Animist: Reduced MP and most of the red mage’s kit in exchange for an automaton similar to the engineer’s. While the automaton does get Augmentations like the engineer, there’s very little that the red mage gets themselves.
Daemonic Flayer (Kindred): A monster race locked archetype that trades out quick learner (minor) in exchange for Infernal Mortification. There are very few ways to restore your Arcane Pool, so as long as you don’t go crazy and sacrifice all of your Con, you’ll be fine.
Elemental Knight (Nu Mou): A nu mou exclusive archetype that exchanges Quick Cast for boosting elemental damage with weapons and spells. The main feature of this archetype, Elemental Assault lets you charge your hands (and weapons) with elemental energy, while also including a feature to regain Arcane Pool.
Generalist (Hume): In exchange for foregoing up Spell Combat and Spellstrike, the red mage gains a number of abilities that allow him to gain bonuses in exchange for penalties. As interesting as this sounds, its probably better to just cast a spell that gives you the buff.
Mystic Knight: A Stamina Pool archetype that foregoes Spells and all spell-related abilities in exchange for Swordplays, Blade Magic, and more. While losing your spellcasting may seem scary, the class features more than make up for the loss.
Outfitter: In exchange for Spell Combat, Arcane Pool, and some other class features, the red mage gains some variable clothing based abilities. While this does allow for access to class features of some of the other classes, and provide temporary class skills to the red mage, the mechanics are a little weird. But you do get to keep Spellstrike, and the capstone is lowkey broken.
Paradigm Shifter: In exchange for Quick Cast and Red Magery, the Paradigm Shifter takes on a supportive role without losing any of the offense. This includes the ability to apply a variable enhancement bonus to an ability score of her choice, among other buffs and bonuses.
Red Warrior: An archetype that eschews spells and abilities that run off up spells in exchange for more marital prowess and versatility with the arcane pool. A decent option if you want to play a tank without worrying about spells.
Reserve Mage: In exchange for sacrificing spellcasting, the Reserve Mage gains the ability to used enhanced Reserve Feats without the need for magic. An interesting archetype, but you might be better off using spells.
Ruby Archer: Swaps a blade for a bow. While loosing out on the critical range of the rapier may sound like a drawback, starting at 5th level, the Ruby Archer gains access to a handful Archery Talents, namely Critical Genius. You’ll be fine.
Shield Mage: Allows for the proficiency for all shields (including tower shields), in exchange for the red mage’s Ruby Arcana and Arcane Pool. If you like shield bashing and channeling magic through your shield, this is the archetype for you.
Spellblade: Swaps out Spellstrike for a conjured force dagger to dual wield that doesn’t interfere with your Spell Combat. Unfortunately, it takes two swift actions to enhance both blades, taking both MP and Arcane Pool, and you can’t dual wield and cast in the same round.
Spell Dancer (Elvaan): An elvaan exclusive archetype that trades a red magery, medium armor, and the usual effects of the Arcane Pool for more mobility. A decent build if you want to avoid getting hit.
Vermilion Duelist: Gives up Quick Cast and Ruby Arcana for a Stamina Pool and inability to cast magic and go melee at the same time (instead getting a stance system). Hard pass.
Wizard: Gives up the martial weapons, Spell Combat, and Spellstrike to become something resembling a full spellcaster with Quick Casts. The access to a handful of black and white mage spells (eventually up to 9th level) via Ruby Scholar is nice, but then it gets outclassed by the Archmage Scholar archetype. At least it still has Quick Cast.
Aside from Daemonic Flayer that stacks with almost anything, most of the archetypes should be compatible with at least one other archetype. Whether such combination is good or not, is has yet to be determined, but these are what’s able to be mixed.
Daemonic Flayer/Elemental Knight (Half-Breed only)
Daemonic Flayer/Generalist (Half-Breed only)
Daemonic Flayer/Paradigm Shifter
Daemonic Flayer/Ruby Archer
Daemonic Flayer/Shield Mage
Daemonic Flayer/Spell Dancer (Half-Breed only)
Elemental Knight/Generalist (Half-Breed only)
Elemental Knight/Shield Mage
Elemental Knight/Spell Dancer (Half-Breed only)
Generalist/Spell Dancer (Half-Breed only)
Paradigm Shifter/Shield Mage
Paradigm Shifter/Spellblade (note: breaks Ravager paradigm)
Daemonic Flayer/Elemental Knight/Generalist (Half-Breed with Racial Heritage only)
Daemonic Flayer/Elemental Knight/Shield Mage (Half-Breed only)
Daemonic Flayer/Elemental Knight/Spellblade (Half-Breed only)
Daemonic Flayer/Elemental Knight/Spell Dancer (illegal racial combination)
Daemonic Flayer/Generalist/Shield Mage (Half-Breed only)
Daemonic Flayer/Generalist/Spell Dancer (Half-Breed with Racial Heritage only)
Daemonic Flayer/Paradigm Shifter/Shield Mage
Daemonic Flayer/Paradigm Shifter/Spellblade (note: breaks Ravager paradigm)
Daemonic Flayer/Shield Mage/Spellblade
Daemonic Flayer/Spellblade/Spell Dancer (Half-Breed only)
Elemental Knight/Generalist/Shield Mage
Elemental Knight/Generalist/Spell Dancer (Half-Breed with Racial Heritage only)
Elemental Knight/Shield Mage/Spellblade
Elemental Knight/Spellblade/Spell Dancer (Half-Breed only)
Paradigm Shifter/Shield Mage/Spellblade (note: breaks Ravager paradigm)
Daemonic Flayer/Elemental Knight/Generalist/Shield Mage (Half-Breed with Racial Heritage only)
Daemonic Flayer/Elemental Knight/Generalist/Spell Dancer (illegal racial combination)
Daemonic Flayer/Elemental Knight/Shield Mage/Spellblade (Half-Breed only)
Daemonic Flayer/Elemental Knight/Spellblade/Spell Dancer (illegal racial combination)
Daemonic Flayer/Paradigm Shifter/Shield Mage/Spellblade (note: breaks Ravager paradigm)
Due to their “jack-of-all-trades” status, you’ll want a somewhat balanced stat distribution to juggle your marital combat, your spellcasting and your skill ranks. Regardless the best way to go is usually to invest in Dex for marital combat, Cha for your spellcasting, and Int for your skill ranks. Any leftover points can go wherever you see fit.
Str: With Ruby Finesse covering attack and damage rolls, Str is only really needed for carrying capacity, so this can be lowered if you don’t care about Climb or Swim.
Dex: Useful for increasing AC and with Ruby Finesse, becomes your primary attack and damage stat.
Con: You’re a frontline fighter, you’ll want the bonus to HP and Fort saves.
Int: Fuels skill ranks and increases the power of your elemental spells via Ruby Knowledge. Definitely worth the investment.
Wis: Useful for Will saves and increasing the potency of your healing spells via Ruby Knowledge. Since Will is one of the red mage’s good saves, invest only for Perception and if you want to dabble in healing more often.
Cha: Besides being the main casting stat of the red mage, this also fuels the skills for “face” builds.
Ability Score Distribution (for Hume)
|25 Point Buy||20 Point Buy||15 Point Buy||Elite Array|
|Str: 10||Str: 10||Str: 9||Str: 8|
|Dex: 16||Dex: 15||Dex: 14||Dex: 14|
|Con: 10||Con: 10||Con: 10||Con: 12|
|Int: 15||Int: 14||Int: 13||Int: 13|
|Wis: 13||Wis: 13||Wis: 13||Wis: 10|
|Cha: 14+2||Cha: 14+2||Cha: 14+2||Cha: 15+2|
Any race with a bonus to Charisma can be a good red mage. But in order to narrow down the candidates, we’re also looking for races with survivability and aim in the form of high Dexterity, as well as decent Intelligence for skills and Ruby Knowledge.
Au Ra (Base): By going with either the Raen or Warrior of Khagan Xaela heritages, you will get the +2 Cha bonus needed for your spellcasting, and the Au Ra can be build as either Dex or Str builds. Furthermore, they gain access to Orc Ferocity which is excellent for staying alive; this also can be swapped out for many other good things too, such as Pacification and Avoidance (Raen only), Prehensile Tail, or Weapon Familiarity (katana) for a better weapon. Add in Darkvision and extra arcane pool FCB, and this is a solid option.
Burmecian (Base): While base class might not be a good red mage, the Cleyran Ancestry grants a +2 Con and Cha needed for red mage. Furthermore, access to Darkvision and either Keen Senses or Scent make them excellent scouts if you go down that road for skills. The Natural Jumper allows for more acrobatic spellcasting and the Quick Reactions also increases the chances of striking first. The FCB provides an extra +1/4 point of arcane pool.
Dwarf (Core): Lack of heritages for Cha makes this a poor choice despite their good FCB for pseudo-metamagics.
Elvaan (Core): While the base class’s stats may not provide much for red mage, the Ishgardian and Wildwood variant heritages provide the +2 bonus to either Cha for spellcasting or Int for skills and Ruby Knowledge needed for a good red mage. Add Arcane Focus, and you will either gain access to a +2 racial bonus on concentration to cast defensively. Finally, the FCB allows for an extra 1/6 ruby arcana, adding to Elvaan’s versatility as a red mage.
Galka (Core): The -2 Cha makes this a poor choice for red mage, despite the bonus to critical confirmation rolls.
Half-Breed (Core) (Ask GM): Combine Elvaan and Tarutaru.
-Choose +2 CHA. Size: Small. Defense Trait: Magic Resistant. Feat and Skill Trait: Keen Senses. Magical Trait: Magical Aptitude. Movement Trait: N/A. Offense Trait: Weapon Familiarity. Other Traits: Red Mage + 1 other. Senes Trait: Low-Light Vision. Weakness Trait: N/A.
-This combination will get you +2 Cha without penalties, a +1 size bonus to AC, a +1 bonus to saving throws against spells and spell-like abilities, a boost to Perception without the need to increase Wis, a +2 bonus to overcome SR, and Low-Light Vision for good measure.
-You’ll primarily miss out on the Noble Upbringing and Marital Background from elvaan, as well as the Magical Traits from tarutaru, but this should still be a solid set up for a half-breed.
Hume (Core): One of the best races no matter what, but the between the +2 to any stat (in this case Cha), the extra Skilled rank per level, and the extra class skills from racial traits, it’s almost like hume was made to be a red mage. Alternatively, take the Lunarian heritage and your Hume red mage will be much better at casting defensively. Add in the racial feat Fast Learner and the natural FCB for red mage, and you have plenty of options for builds.
Lambkin (Base): The extra +1/2 circumstance bonus to concentration checks is nice, but with Magic Expert, Magic Aptitude and Spell Focus, Lambkin has the makings to be an excellent caster. Magic Resistant makes them dispositioned for mage killer builds especially. The +2 to Int and Wis aids with skills and Ruby Knowledge, though the -2 Con will hold them back in melee.
Mithra (Core): While the FCB leaves much to be desired outside of unarmed strikes or natural weapons, the racial traits like Clever Cat does wonders for skill options and the Dexterous Tail can be useful depending on the circumstances. Play the base Mithra, Seeker of the Sun or Cheetara, and you’ll have plenty of options for skills and stats.
Moogle (Core): More suited to crafting typical of full casters, Moogles still have the Cha and alternate traits to play red mage too. The bonus to confirming critical hits with spellstrike is nice as well.
Namazu (Beastman): A +2 to Dex and Cha is nice, as is Tremor Sense. These speedy, facey creatures are a solid choice especially in water campaigns.
Nu Mou (Base): With a +2 to Int and Wis (which can be swapped out for a +2 to Int and Cha) and the ability to play gain spell resistance and face skills, this is a decent choice for red mage. Especially with the FCB for defensive spellcasting and the Elemental Knight archetype.
Qu (Base): A penalty to Cha without much to make up for it.
Quadav (Beastman): The double priced markup for armor in exchange for a +1 natural armor bonus is rough, and the standard ability boosts do not help the red mage all that much. Pass.
Sylph (Beastman): Gaining Improved Initiative and a lot of Knowledge skills as class skills in addition to the bonus to Dex and Cha by default, Sylphs are already solid by default. Alternatively, the Sprite heritage swaps out the Cha boost for an Int boost in case you want to be more of a librarian or skill monkey, or Fairy for more Thief-ey skills, but your best bet is to stick with the base Sylph. There’s also the little bonus of natural flight that they possess.
Tarutaru (Core): Similar to the Lambkin, the Tarutaru has the spell resistance and other racial traits to make a good mage and mage killer. Furthermore, the FCB allows for unique weapon abilities that provide more options for the red mage.
Vanu Vanu (Beastman): Stat-wise, your best bet is to go for either Vundu or especially Zundu, as they offer a boost to either Cha or Int needed for red mage. The FCB is great as it grants you an extra +1/6 ruby arcana to work with, as well as low-light vision in addition to anti-wind and anti-air defenses.
Viera (Base): More suited for Ruby Archer, but even then Rava and Feol can prove viable if you get rid of the bow-related racial traits.
Most of the traits listed here either directly help the red mage, the fighting style, or provide extra skills which help with certain builds. Remember that you can only have one of each type of trait (1 combat, 1 magic) and that trait bonuses do not stack.
Affable (Social): Good for gathering information on what may lie ahead and synergizes with face builds. The only downside is that you already have Diplomacy as a class skill. But it does nab Knowledge (local) for you.
Anatomist (Combat): You probably don’t have enough feats for Critical Focus, so this is the next best thing if you’re going for a critical hit build. And if you do, the bonuses stack.
Arcane Revitalization (Magic): It can be very easy to score a critical hit with a red mage, and this is one of the very few ways to recover arcane pool without resting.
Arcane Temper (Magic): Provides a +1 to initiative and a +1 to concentration checks, if you can’t decide which one to go for. Either way, it’s better to make a decision and get Reactionary or Focused Mind instead.
Bladed Magic (Magic): The Craft bonus for weapons isn’t too special, but the increased duration of the enhancement bonus from arcane pool is much appreciated.
Child of the Temple (Faith): Gets you either Knowledge (nobility) or Knowledge (religion) as a class skill. Good for either facing royalty or clergy and for fighting undead.
Civilized (Social): Gets you Knowledge (local) as a class skill, which is useful for knowing how to face. If you don’t have a racial trait that gives you this automatically, you can use this.
Cosmopolitan (Regional): Linguistics isn’t really needed as a class skill. But it can help with the face role as it lets you learn new languages beyond what you should reasonably know.
Crowd Dodger (Combat): A dollar store version of Mobility in case you either don’t want Mobility or want something that stacks with it.
Deft Dodger (Combat): A small boost to a bad save. If you’re going for a Dex build, this won’t be as necessary as your combat stat should make up for the bad save.
Fencer (Combat): If you’re using Combat Reflexes and Flamboyant Arcana, this could be useful. Otherwise, you can probably do better.
Focused Mind (Magic): Since concentration is needed for casting defensively in melee, this is always a solid option, though it peters out once Improved Spell Combat is on the table.
Inspired (Faith): If you’re putting more emphasis on your skills, this is always a good option to have.
Reactionary (Combat): Initiative is nice but not necessarily needed.
Resilient (Combat): Between all the stats you need to balance, one of your saves may fall by the wayside. This could help bump it up.
Silent Hunter (Regional): The red mage has access to the Vanish spell as a 4th level spell, so adding Stealth as a class skill could prove useful.
Spellpiercer (Regional): See Focused Mind.
Suspicious (Social): If you want to optimize for a face build, you’ll need this to avoid being tricked by getting Sense Motive as a class skill. It’s also good for avoiding being feinted.
Truth’s Agent (Social): Gets you Knowledge (local) as a class skill while also giving you a +1 bonus to Diplomacy to gather information.
Unshackled (Faith): Grappling is a good way to shut you down, and if you don’t have a high CMD, Escape Artist as a class skill is the next best thing.
Voices of Solid Things (Regional): This trait lets you apply your Cha instead of Int to one of a select few talents, one of them being Spellcraft. While your Int should be decently high enough to account for Spellcraft, this can help give it an extra boost if you so desire it.
Wary (Regional): The bonuses only apply against Bluff and Stealth, but a minor boost to two skills is welcome. Especially since it grants the red mage Sense Motive as a class skill too.
World Traveler (Race, Hume): If you’re playing Hume, Integrated should already grant Knowledge (local) as a class skill for you, but it can be an alternative for grabbing Sense Motive.
You gain 6+Int skills per level and a wide range of skills for many different builds. However, since red mage is a Cha based caster, you’re mostly designed for being a face, though if
Acrobatics (Dex): Helps to maneuver on the battlefield, especially if you’re doing a Dex based build.
Bluff (Cha): Honesty won’t always be your best policy, so you’ll need this as a good face.
Climb (Str): In case you need to climb a mountain, hill or fence, however this does suffer from Armor Check Penalty. Becomes good if you’re playing a Ruby Archer.
Craft (Int): Unless you want to craft your own masterwork rapier, this is only really good for making gil as a side hustle. Especially since you have Spellcraft for magic items.
Diplomacy (Cha): While the skill pool of the red mage is respectable, you are a Cha based caster, and have the skills for face. Take them.
Fly (Dex): You gain access to the Fly spell at 7th level. Never know when a little air could come in handy.
Intimidate (Cha): Not as versatile as Bluff or Diplomacy, but could be useful if you want to coerce or demoralize someone.
Knowledge (arcana) (Int): Good for learning about monster strengths/weaknesses/abilities, and general magical trivia.
Knowledge (planes) (Int): Good for learning about monster strengths/weaknesses/abilities, especially if you stumble upon a Primal.
Perception (Wis): Always useful, and it being a class skill is a bonus.
Profession (Wis): Reliant on the campaign, generally not useful.
Ride (Dex): There’s no archetype that focus on mounted combat, but you do have the ability to summon Yellow Chocobos. You’ll only want this as a backup.
Spellcraft (Int): Used for spell and magic item identification, plus crafting magic items if you’re planning to dabble in that.
Swim (Str): Swimming doesn’t come up very often in play, maybe once every 10 sessions or so. If your campaign is more aquatic-based this is of higher importance.
Use Magic Device (Cha): With the exception of Bio and Death Materia, Barrier Materia, Life Materia, as well as Bahamut and Phoenix Materia, most of the spellcasting materia should be already available to the red mage’s spell list. Anything 6th level or below that’s not can be obtained via Quick Learner.
Default Spell List:
Detect Magic (enhancing) [Cantrip]: Lets you detect active spells and magic items, even through thin walls. Useful in making sure you aren’t leaving behind any magic loot.
Elemental Orb (elemental (any)) [Cantrip]: Only deals a deals a 1d3 of the chosen elemental type, but it’s still compatible with Spellstrike and Ruby Knowledge so if you’re that desperate, it’s an option.
Guidance (enhancing) [Cantrip]: A minor bonus on a single attack roll, saving throw or skill check.
Mending (chronomancy/healing) [Cantrip]: Lets you repair damaged or destroyed items, and damaged magic items at higher levels. Good in case a weapon or item gets damaged on your journeys.
Message (enfeebling) [Cantrip]: Allows you to coordinate with your party without shouting.
Read Magic (enhancing) [Cantrip]: Indispensable for learning new spells from scrolls or books at low levels, since your Spellcraft will likely not be great then. However, this may or may not be a common circumstance.
Stabilize (healing) [Cantrip]: Since you don’t have Heal as a class skill, this is useful for keeping people alive if you don’t want to waste a healing spell. Especially if you need to capture a hostile alive.
Torchlight (light) [Cantrip]: Providing a light is always useful if not everyone in the party has Darkvision, and this can be cast on an object (like a rock) if you need a diversion.
Aero (elemental (wind)) [1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th]: Depending on the level of spell, this ranged touch deals (1,3,5)d6+casting modifier+1/level (max vaires) wind damage and has a chance of inflicting the Squalled status on a failed check. Since the status effect isn’t as important as the damage, this is a good fallback for Spellstrike while also giving a ranged option to the red mage.
Aera/Aeroga (elemental (wind)) [3rd, 5th]: An area of effect burst version of Aero that exchanges the status effect for scaling damage die of pure damage of its element (Reflex half).
Blizzard (elemental (ice)) [1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th]: Depending on the level of spell, this ranged touch deals (1,3,5)d6+casting modifier+1/level (max vaires) ice damage and has a chance of inflicting the Frozen status on a failed check. Since the status effect isn’t as important as the damage, this is a good fallback for Spellstrike while also giving a ranged option to the red mage.
Blizzara/Blizzaga (elemental (icee)) [3rd, 5th]: An area of effect burst version of Blizzard that exchanges the status effect for scaling damage die of pure damage of its element (Reflex half).
Cure (healing) [1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th]: Depending on the spell, this cures (1,3,5)d6+casting modifier+1/level (max vaires) HP. You’re primarily a damage dealer, but since you’re also on the front lines, you’re more likely to get hurt than the average mage. Plus, it never hurts to have a backup healer.
Cura/Curaga (healing) [3rd, 5th]: Multitarget variants of Cure that heal HP die per level and for a lot more than the base Cure spells.
Deflect (enhancing) [1st, 2nd]: Provides a +4 +1 per 3 CL deflection bonus to AC for one attack. Provides more deflection than your standard Protect spell of the same level, and it can be cast as an immediate action. Good for emergencies.
Enlarge (enhancing) [1st, 4th, 5th]: As a swift action, increases your size category by one, and provides all the associated buffs that come with it for 1 round. The 4th level version affects multiple creatures, while the 5th level version provides even more buffs and lasts for 1 round per 3 levels.
Enspell (elemental (all)/enhancing) [1st, 3rd, 5th]: You won’t be able to enhance your weapon with any of the elemental abilities using your Arcane Pool until 6th level, so this will add some elemental damage to your weapon attacks. The higher level variants will add more than what the enchantments offer, so this is still viable if you have the MP.
Enspellra/Enspellga (elemental (all)/enhancing) [4th, 6th]: Multitarget variants of Enspell. Best part is that this party buff is still a swift action.
Fire (elemental (fire)) [1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th]: Depending on the level of spell, this ranged touch deals (1,3,5)d6+casting modifier+1/level (max vaires) fire damage and has a chance of inflicting the Burning status on a failed check. Since the status effect isn’t as important as the damage, this is a good fallback for Spellstrike while also giving a ranged option to the red mage.
Fira/Firaga (elemental (fire)) [3rd, 5th]: An area of effect burst version of Fire that exchanges the status effect for scaling damage die of pure damage of its element (Reflex half).
Lead Blades (enhancing) [1st]: Increases the size category of your melee weapon by 1. If you want something that lasts longer than Enlarge, take this. Otherwise, stick to Enlarge. If you’re playing Ruby Archer, use Bow of the Viera instead.
Mount (summoning) [1st, 2nd]: If you need a faster mode of transportation, this will summon one or more Yellow Chocobo (depending on the spell) for you and your party. If you’re caught in combat, you have the Ride skill to complement this spell.
Ohspell (elemental (all)/enhancing) [1st]: Unlike Enspell, this merely converts weapon damage to elemental damage without increasing any elemental damage. The benefits this spell provides are minimal.
Ohspellra (elemental (all)/enhancing) [1st]: A multitarget version of Ohspell. Still not worth getting.
Protect (enhancing) [1st, 3rd, 5th]: Your go-to spell for boosting AC. Since this is a deflection bonus, you don’t have to worry about touch AC or flat-footed AC because this will apply to both. However, just be aware how this interacts with a Ring of Protection, as deflection bonuses to AC don’t stack with each other.
Regen (enhancing/healing) [1st, 3rd, 5th]: Regen can be the most cost-effective healing spell on your list for healing people between combats. In the case of the 1st level Regen, healing 8 HP for 1 MP at caster level 1 and level-scaling at +2 HP/level per level beyond that. However, the lack of in-combat use hampers the spells brings it down a lot.
Ruin (non-elemental) [1st]: Always good to have in your back pocket if you’re fighting something with high AC and Saves. Say what you will about the damage, at least this always hits (99% of the time). For the best starting results, get this at 3rd level so you have two missiles to work with.
Shell (enhancing) [1st, 3rd, 5th]: Your go-to spell for boosting all three saves. However, just be aware how this interacts with a Cloak of Resistance, as resistance bonuses to saves don’t stack with each other, and this only works vs. spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities.
Shield (enhancing) [1st]: A decent option if you want to protect yourself against the 1st level Ruin spell and your buckler hasn’t provided a +4 shield bonus via enhancements yet.
Shieldra (enhancing) [4th]: Shield is now multitarget and can now negate Ruinra and Ruinga.
Shocking Grasp (elemental (lightning)) [1st]: The bread and butter of any good red mage. Unlike the basic Thunder spell, this melee touch spell deals a scaling 1d6 lightning damage per caster level, which can be increased from a maximum of 5d6 to a maximum of 10d6 with the Intensified Spell metamagic (not to mention the other factors for metamagics). The fact that you get a +3 attack bonus vs. metal opponents and equipment is icing on the cake.
Stone (elemental (earth)) [1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th]: Depending on the level of spell, this ranged touch deals (1,3,5)d6+casting modifier+1/level (max vaires) earth damage and has a chance of inflicting the Weighted status on a failed check. Since the status effect isn’t as important as the damage, this is a good fallback for Spellstrike while also giving a ranged option to the red mage.
Stonera/Stonega (elemental (earth)) [3rd, 5th]: An area of effect burst version of Stone that exchanges the status effect for scaling damage die of pure damage of its element (Reflex half).
Swim (elemental (water)/enhancing) [1st]: Situational, as you’ll be unlikely to be in an aquatic setting for extended periods of time.
Thunder (elemental (lightning)) [1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th]: Depending on the level of spell, this ranged touch deals (1,3,5)d6+casting modifier+1/level (max vaires) lightning damage and has a chance of inflicting the Static status on a failed check. Since the status effect isn’t as important as the damage, this is a good fallback for Spellstrike while also giving a ranged option to the red mage.
Thundara/Thundaga (elemental (lightning)) [3rd, 5th]: An area of effect burst version of Thunder that exchanges the status effect for scaling damage die of pure damage of its element (Reflex half).
Water (elemental (water)) [1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th]: Depending on the level of spell, this ranged touch deals (1,3,5)d6+casting modifier+1/level (max vaires) water damage and has a chance of inflicting the Drenched status on a failed check. Since the status effect isn’t as important as the damage, this is a good fallback for Spellstrike while also giving a ranged option to the red mage.
Watera/Waterga (elemental (water)) [3rd, 5th]: An area of effect burst version of Water that exchanges the status effect for scaling damage die of pure damage of its element (Reflex half).
Defensive Shock (elemental (lightning)/enhancing) [2nd]: The main benefit of this spell is its long duration. You’ll only get a maximum of three discharges before the charges wear off, but its a little insurance in case your opponent hits you.
Elemental Touch (elemental (all)/enhancing) [2nd]: Essentially lets your attacks deal an extra 1d6 points of elemental damage for 1 round per level while also having the chance of inflicting an elemental status effect. Aside from the elemental status effect (which your target can roll a save for), you can achieve the same effect by enhancing your weapon with the Arcane Pool. However, you can get this two levels earlier than when you can get that Arcane Pool ability, so this is an okay choice.
Fiery Shuriken (elemental (fire)) [2nd]: At first glance, this seems like a mediocre spell. However, once it’s active and you have more caster levels under your belt, this becomes quite the broken spell. Whenever you apply metamagic or metamagic ruby arcana to this spell (namely Maximized Magic and Empower Spell), this applies to all of the shuriken generated from the spell. The fact that once the initial standard action cast is up, it takes a swift action to launch a single shuriken (though you can launch all of them as a standard action) that doesn’t provoke attack of opportunity to launch. The only downside is that its interaction with Spellstrike is a little ambiguous, so ask your GM if it works with it.
Frigid Touch (elemental (ice))/enfeebling) [2nd]: This melee touch attack inflicts a flat 4d6 points of ice damage, but the real benefit is a no save Staggered status on your opponent that lasts for either 1 round or 1 minute on a critical hit. This limits your opponent to one standard or move action and locks them out of full-round actions.
Grace (enhancing) [2nd]: Lets you move and cast spells without provoking opportunity for a turn. Can be cast as a swift action.
Might (enhancing) [2nd]: Grants a +4 enhancement bonus to Str for 1 hour/level as a standard action, or when you use an immediate action to increase the bonus to a +10 enhancement bonus to Str for 1 round. A fantastic boon for any Str based red mage.
Phalanx (enhancing) [2nd, 4th, 6th]: The initial spell is the Barrier spell, but one MP cheaper and magic weapons can bypass it. Later variants increase the DR by increments of 5 and make the bypass rarer materials (i.e. cold iron and adamantine).
Stretch (enhancing) [1st]: As a swift action, you may provide one attack with you weapon with a Reach of 5 ft. The fact that this is a swift action allows you to use this with Spellstrike without issue.
Sure Strike (enhancing) [2nd]: An +1 per 3 levels insight bonus on you next single attack roll (min +1, max +6). Costs more MP than the astrologian and time mage’s True Strike, but can be cast as a swift action. Just like most of your other attack boosting abilities. But at least it doesn’t max out at a +5 bonus.
Wall Climb (elemental (earth)/enhancing) [2nd, 3rd]: If you’re building for a skill monkey and you want your spells to assist you with this endeavor, Wall Climb will give you a Climb speed of 20 ft. and a +8 racial bonus to Climb checks for 10 minutes per level. This should help deal with the armor check penalty associated with most of the medium armors.
Dispel (enfeebling) [3rd]: The cure-all for removing one buff from an enemy. If you can’t remove the buff you desire, you’ll still remove a different buff as a consolation prize. Unless you fail all of your dispel checks (if you’re not targeting a specific spell). Alternatively, you can use it as a quick and dirty Counterspell if your lacking the spell for a proper Counterspell or if you don’t have the Improved Counterspell feat.
Dispel, Greater (enfeebling) [6th]: An upgraded version of Dispel that removes multiple spells from from a single target, or apply the Dispel check against multiple opponents. Plus you get a +4 bonus when Counterspelling with this spell.
Energy Aegis (enhancing) [3rd]: Gain Elemental Resistance for one element for 1 round as an immediate action. If this doesn’t out negate the elemental damage, it may just reduce it enough to save your life.
Haste (chronomancy/enhancing) [3rd]: While there are other ways to provide the Haste status on yourself (either passively or as a swift action), this stands out for letting you provide the buff to an ally instead. Decent if you want to play support or if you plan to craft your own items.
Keen (enhancing) [3rd]: This is decent if you have not yet enchanted the Keen weapon ability onto your weapon. However, by the time you can get this spell you should be able to use Arcane Pool to get Keen already. The only use I can think of for getting this spell would be for crafting the ability onto the weapon yourself. The swift action cast is nice though.
Magic Vestment (enhancing) [3rd]: Grants an +1 enhancement bonus to armor per 4 caster levels. Unless you’re behind on your enhancements to armor, this will work on your armor and shield. Though please not that this won’t work on Bracers of Armor.
Hop (enhancing) [3rd]: A swift action teleport that warps you 5 ft. per two caster levels. (min 20 ft., max 50 ft.). After finishing off one opponent, spend a swift action to warp to the next foe, then follow up with a full-attack or Spell Combat.
Vampiric Touch (dark/enfeebling) [3rd]: The only spell the red mage has access to naturally that deals shadow damage (1d6 per 2 CL). Furthermore, any damage dealt by this melee touch attack gets is also applied to you as temporary HP. The red mage can always use some extra protection, so take this.
Water Breathing (elemental (water)/enhancing) [3rd]: Situational, as you’ll be unlikely to be in an aquatic setting for extended periods of time. Though the 2 hours per level duration is very nice.
Elemental Spikes (elemental (varies)/enhancing) [4th, 6th]: Anytime an enemy attacks a creature affected by Blaze Spikes, Gale Spikes, Ice Spikes, Rock Spikes, Shock Spikes, or Torrent Spikes, they take either a flat 1d6 or a flat 3d6 points of the associated elemental damage; this buff lasts for 1 round/level. By comparison, a fully charged Defensive Shock (2nd level spell) deals a maximum of 6d6 points of lightning damage at 12th level (the last level where your strongest spells are 4th level) before the damage is halved every discharge. Defensive Shock last for 1 minute/level. Point is, you can get better damage output from a 2nd level spell than what these 4th level spells offer.
Esuna (healing) [4th]: Cures a single magical status effects from spells, spell-like abilities, supernatural abilities and spell-like effects from items of 3rd lower or lower. Always good if you don’t know what status effects your GM will throw at you.
Esunaga (healing) [6th]: Turns Esuna into a multitarget spell, but nothing more.
Guard (enhancing) [4th]: Grants a +4 deflection bonus to AC and a +4 resistance bonus to all saves for 1 hour/level as a standard action (essentially applying two 3rd level spells in one go), or when you use an immediate action to increase the bonus to a +10 bonus to AC and saves for 1 round. A fantastic boon for any red mage.
Raise (healing) [4th]: Revives a creature with HP equal to the current HD. This is the earliest you can get a Raise spell, so may as well make the investment in case the healer goes down.
Stoneskin (elemental (earth)/enhancing) [4th, 5th]: Provides DR 10/adamantine. A little late for the red mage, but still worth it for the duration and buff.
Tongues (enhancing) [4th, 5th]: Not the best for combat, but seeing as you’re predispositioned as a face, this is good for dealing with language barriers. The 5th level version is the Communal version.
Advanced Learning (Black Mage):
Dark (dark) [1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th]: Depending on the level of spell, this ranged touch deals (1,3,5)d6+casting modifier+1/level (max vaires) shadow damage and has a chance of inflicting the Dimmed status on a failed check. Since the status effect isn’t as important as the damage, this is a good fallback for Spellstrike while also giving a ranged option to the red mage.
Darkra/Darkga (dark) [3rd, 5th]: An area of effect burst version of Dark that exchanges the status effect for scaling damage die of pure damage of its element (Reflex half).
Ray of Enfeeblement (enfeebling) [1st]: Inflict a 1d6+1 per two caster levels Str penalty through a Spellstrike (max 1d6+5). Even if they make a save, they still take half of the Str penalty. Good enfeebling spell, if you’re building to do this.
Water Blast/Hydraulic Torrent (elemental (water)) [1st, 4th]: If you’re low on health or if you feel like your opponent is getting too close to you, you can cast this spell to Bull Rush that opponent. Furthermore, they’ll need to make a Ref save to avoid being Drenched (as opposed to the usual Fort from the Water spells). Drenched will cause your lightning spells (Shocking Grasp) to deal an additional 1d6 points of damage against the that creature. Hydraulic Torrent also gets the ability to break objects in addition to the above effects.
Darkvision (dark/enhancing) [2nd, 4th]: If you’re building a skill monkey with your spells, this will help with Perception. The the 2nd level version gives you a range of 60 ft., 4th level version grants 120 ft., both last 1 hour per level.
Lightning Bolt (elemental (lightning)) [3rd]: If you need a line based area of effect, this is always a solid option for lightning damage.
Ruinra/Ruinga (non-elemental) [4th, 6th]: Similar case to Fiery Shuriken, except it has the homing effect of Ruin and deal half the amount of 2d6+5 points of damage to those adjacent to the initial target. Only drawback is that the only metamagic applicable is Empower Spell, but at least the Maximize Magic ruby arcana is still an option. Unfortunately while Ruinga is stronger, it’s of the highest level spell that the red mage can cast, so metamagics aren’t an option. Still really strong though.
Drain (dark/enfeebling) [5th]: A touch spell that heals you for the damage you deal. Even if it’s a “save or suck” spell, combining this with Spellstrike will still guarantee your weapon damage goes through.
Disintegrate (non-elemental) [6th]: Normally a ranged touch attack that deals 2d6 non-elemental per caster level (max 40d6) and whether or not they make the save, if they’re reduced to 0 or fewer HP, there’s nothing left of them. Combine this with a Spellstrike for an increased critical range.
Shadowfire Ray (dark/elemental (fire)) [6th]: If used with Spellstrike, you’ll only be able use one ray. However, said ray will do 1d6 points of damage per caster level (max 15d6) and with the critical range of the rapier, if you crit the damage will double.
Abyss (dark/enfeebling) [6th]: 15d6 points of shadow damage off the bat isn’t bad for the natural progression of the Dark spells. The status effect is a nice bonus too. Shame you can’t use them with Spellstrike though. 8th level variants are unavailable.
Single Target Nukes (elemental (varies)/enfeebling) [6th]: Whether you’re using Burst, Flare, Flood, Glacier, Quake or Tornado 15d6 points of elemental damage off the bat isn’t bad for the natural progression of the elemental ranged touch spells. The status effect is a nice bonus too. Shame you can’t use them with Spellstrike though. 8th level variants are unavailable.
Advanced Learning (White Mage):
Light (light) [1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th]: Depending on the level of spell, this ranged touch deals (1,3,5)d6+casting modifier+1/level (max vaires) holy damage and has a chance of inflicting the Illuminated status on a failed check. Since the status effect isn’t as important as the damage, this is a good fallback for Spellstrike while also giving a ranged option to the red mage.
Lightra/Lightga (light) [3rd, 5th]: An area of effect burst version of Light that exchanges the status effect for scaling damage die of pure damage of its element (Reflex half).
Wind Armor (elemental (wind)/enhancing) [1st]: A spell that provides the same deflection bonus as Protect and lasts longer than that same spell. The only downside is that unlike Protect which has a range, Wind Armor is a touch spell.
Heroism (enhancing) [3rd, 6th]: While the red mage has many options for boosting their attack rolls, none of them are in the form of a morale bonus.
Holy (light) [4th, 6th]: If you need a shining area of effect light spell, Holy will deal upwards of either 10d4 or 15d6 points of holy damage to all within a 60 ft. line. The only drawback is that the 4th level version has less damage output and range than the black mage’s Lightning Bolt, but not a lot of things resist holy damage.
Breath of Life (healing) [5th]: If the regular Raise isn’t to your satisfaction, for one extra MP, you can restore a little HP in addition to saving a life.
Arise (healing) [6th]: Functions as Raise, except that you restore them to full vitality and you’re not on a time limit. As long as there’s one part left and you have a round to spare, you can revive them.
Accurate Strike (Ex): Costly, but super effective. If you’re having trouble landing attacks or absolutely need to land your attacks, resolving your weapon attacks as touch attacks is the way to go.
Arcane Accuracy (Su): Less costly and less effective than Accurate Strike, but still effective. Especially since it stacks with Arcane Pool and Clear Mind lets you pull off both in one turn.
Arcane Cloak (Su): Stealth isn’t normally part of the red mage’s primary toolset.
Arcane Edge (Ex): One going bleed damage equal to your Cha modifier. 9th level ability.
Arcane Power Weapon (Su): A full-round action and an arcane pool point in exchange for a melee touch attack spell with 1d4 or 1d6 elemental damage on top (before upgrades)? You’re better off with Accurate Strike.
Arcane Redoubt (Su): There are few things that let you boost anything to touch AC, but despite the commonality of ranged touch spells, this is a swift action.
Arcane Redoubt, Greater (Su): Very costly, very hard to time, and very expensive.
Bane Blade (Su): Bane weapons are normally hard to justify because it is so difficult to predict what you will be fighting. But since the red mage can choose the creature type when the enhance the weapon, this isn’t an issue.
Brutish Arcana (Ex): As tempting as it is to be able to use Spell Combat with a two-handed weapon, the penalties that come with doing so aren’t worth it.
Broad Study (Ex): This makes multiclassing into other classes viable, and opens up your options beyond what you get from Spell Blending.
Concentrate (Ex): Most of your concentration checks will be made to cast defensively, so you’re better off with Combat Casting.
Critical Strike (Su): With a keen rapier or scimitar, you have a reasonably chance of scoring critical hits, and being able to cast an extra spell as a swift action means a lot of extra damage.
Devoted Blade (Su): Most of your enemies will be susceptible to either Holy or Unholy, and these abilities allow you to bypass DR and do a ton of extra damage. If you’re one of the corner alignments (Lawful Good, Chaotic Good, etc.) you could add two effects and drop 4d6 extra damage on creatures of the opposite alignment.
Dispelling Strike (Su): While the swift action Dispel is tempting, this is too expensive to use effectively, and you’re better off just using the spell.
Disruptive (Ex): Essential for magekiller builds, and the only way to get this before 11th level.
Empowered Magic (Su): You’re primarily a damage dealing mage, so a free Empower Spell can be very useful in messing up a scary foe.
Enduring Blade (Su): Useful if a fight drags on longer than 1-2 minutes when your Arcane Pool enhancements wear off. This can and will save you a lot of Arcane Pool points.
Familiar (Ex): Familiars are fantastic, as they deliver touch spells, scout, and effectively give you a +3 to certain skills. The only downside is that this must be taken at 3rd level.
Ghost Blade (Su): Ghost Touch is situational and Brilliant Energy, while useful in its bypass of armor and shield bonuses, is expensive to apply.
Hasted Assault (Su): Haste is one of the best buffs in the game, and applying it as a swift action is a good bonus too.
Heavily Armored Mage (Ex): While the ability to cast and use Spell Combat is tempting, this will penalize your physical skills and reduce your movement speed by 10 ft. (even with mithral).
Lingering Pain (Su): Situational, but excellent for shutting down an enemy spellcaster for a turn.
Maneuver Mastery (Ex): The red mage isn’t really build for combat maneuvers, especially since Combat Expertise runs off of Int rather than Cha.
Maximized Magic (Su): Combine with Empowered Magic and/or Intensified Spell, and really bring the pain.
Pool Strike (Su): Between Spellstrike, Enspell, and your Arcane Pool, you have plenty of options for dealing elemental damage to an enemy where you don’t really need this unless you’re going for Arcing Pool Strike.
Pool Strike, Arcing (Su): An 15 ft. area of effect that arcs off of the original target of Pool Strike. At this point, the Pool Strike will deal 4d6 points of damage compared to a single target 10d6 Intensified Shocking Grasp at this level, but it is more versatile in its elemental properties.
Pool Strike, Clinging (Su): Pool Strike’s damage isn’t great, and the lingering effect isn’t impressive either.
Prescient Attack (Su): Since the red mage doesn’t have that many options for feinting, this is the best bet for denying opponents their Dex to AC. However, you’re more likely to face an opponent that uses heavy or natural armor, so this becomes more situational. Still essential for Maximized Spellstrike, however.
Prescient Defense (Su): Good in solo duels, but only lasts until the beginning of the red mage’s next turn. Expensive to maintain, use an enhancing spell.
Quickened Magic (Su): Convert any standard action spell to a swift action for free.
Reflection (Su): Expensive, but since red mages don’t normally have access to the 7th level Reflect spell, worth it.
Silent Magic (Su): If someone silences you, you still have use of a magically enhanced weapon. Stab someone with it.
Spell Blending (Ex): You should already have most of the spells you need, but like Quick Learner, this can open up more options for spellcasting.
Spell Shield (Su): Between a buckler and the spells Shield (which provides a shield bonus) and Deflect (which is also an immediate action), this is only useful if you’re broke and low on MP.
Spellbreaker (Ex): The other magekiller feat. This arcana is the only way to obtain this feat, and makes a major thorn in the side of any spellcaster. Especially if you have Combat Reflexes.
Still Magic (Su): Useful against grapples or when bound by rope, but since most of your spellcasting is spent in combat, this becomes situational.
Surecast (Su): The red mage already has a lot of features that help with casting defensively already, but the fact that Surecast requires the full-round action needed for Spell Combat means that this isn’t worth taking for the red mage.
Wand Wielder (Su): You’ll have most of the spells that spell and support materia can offer you, but you never know when you might stumble upon some summon materia.
Arcane Strike (Combat): It’s not a ton of damage, and you can enhance your weapon to be magical before DR/magic becomes a problem, but it’s a good use of a swift action.
Riving Strike (Combat): Since you don’t need Arcane Strike and red mage isn’t primarily an enfeebler, this might not be worth it.
Combat Expertise (Combat): You will likely have the Int and Dex for it, but you need attack bonus more than AC, and you aren’t going to be using combat maneuvers.
Combat Reflexes (Combat): Needed if you’re going for a pseudo-Fencer or a Spellbreaker build, and it’s generally nice overall.
Critical Focus (Combat): Useful for confirming critical hits and opening the door for critical feats, though the critical feats won’t be until the higher levels.
Disruptive (Combat): The red mage has a decent number of options for being a magekiller, always good if you’re fighting enemy spellcasters. Though with the Fighter prerequisite, you’ll need to burn a Ruby Arcana for this.
Banishing Critical (Combat): Since Summon Monster is only usable by Summoner or Dark Knight, this becomes situational.
Dimensional Awareness (Combat): See Banishing Critical.
Dimensional Disruption (Combat): See Banishing Critical.
Spellbreaker (Combat): If you have Combat Reflexes, this will help disrupt spellcasters. Though again, it might be better as a Ruby Arcana.
Teleport Tactician (Combat): Since only the Time Mage and Geomancer have access to Dimension Door, this becomes more situational.
Dodge (Combat): An extra boost to AC that stacks with other bonuses of its kind is always welcome in a Dex build.
Mobility (Combat): If you’re building for Acrobatics, this is a good fallback in case the CMD of an enemy is too great.
Canny Tumble (Combat): A circumstance bonus to melee attack rolls and you opponent is denied their Dex bonus to AC until the start of your next turn? Now you need to decide if you want to use Spellstrike, a ranged touch spell or find a melee touch spell. It will prevent you from full-attack though.
Sidestep (Combat): This eats up an immediate action which you should save for your spells and class features. Could be good for escaping flank, however.
Spring Attack (Combat): As cool as this looks, the full-round action needed to pull this off means that unless you use a Quick Cast, you won’t be casting spells the turn that you use this.
Improved Critical (Combat): Doubles the critical range of any single weapon you’re proficient in. Since most of your best weapons are piercing and/or slashing weapons, the Keen weapon ability does the same thing without burning a feat.
Improved Initiative (Combat): The Magus isn’t a save or suck caster, and it isn’t a Rogue, so going first isn’t particularly important.
Lunge (Combat): Reach is great, and it can let you hit extra creatures without moving.
Lunging Spell Touch (Combat): If you can use the Lunge feat to increase the range of your weapon attacks (and by extension Spellstrike), then why would you take this?
Opening Volley (Combat): Shoot a ranged touch spell, gain the attack boost for the next turn, and follow up with a charge on the next turn. Good for an opening engagement, but not much besides that. Alternatively, you can fire at one foe while in melee to boost your attack to offset Spell Combat’s penalties. Risky, but could work.
Power Attack (Combat): Str 13 isn’t particularly hard to get, and Power Attack can be a lot of extra damage. However, the red mage generally gets damage from spells, and because we only get 3/4 BAB, you won’t get nearly as much from Power Attack as other combat classes. That said, unlike Empowered Touch, you can use this with Spellstrike.
Shield Focus (Combat): A +1 increase to your shield bonus AC is okay, but this is only really needed for the Unhindering Shield feat for your buckler. Still, any increase to AC is welcome.
Defended Movement (Shield Mastery): Good if you want to delay Dodge and Mobility feats for later level, but with the prerequisites, it won’t be until 11th level or later. Otherwise, its probably better to stick with the regular Dodge and Mobility.
Unhindering Shield (Shield Mastery): Lets you use Spell Combat with a buckler without sacrificing the shield bonus to AC. Nice.
Weapon Finesse (Combat): Essential for Dex builds, but the 3rd level Ruby Finesse renders this feat moot while also providing Dex to damage. Take this if you’re starting at 1st level, retrain at 3rd level or higher.
Fencing Grace (Combat): Dex to damage is nice, but you can get that with either Ruby Finesse or the Agile weapon ability. Save the feat, get something else.
Piranha Strike (Combat): The Weapon Finesse version of Power Attack, still not needed.
Slashing Grace (Combat): If you manage to get your hands on a katana or choose to use a longsword, then this becomes useful. Otherwise, treat it like Fencing Grace and save a feat.
Weapon Focus (Combat): Since Spellstrike is reliant on melee attack rolls, this is a solid option to get via Quick Learner (Weapon Bond) to increase your likelihood of hitting your opponent.
Weapon Specialization (Combat): More weapon damage is always good, especially when you don’t know what elemental spell to use against a foe.
Weapon Focus, Greater (Combat): 16th level red mage with fighter training or 19th level bonus feat. Between the Arcane Pool and other methods to increase your attack bonus, this might not be worth it.
Combat Casting (General): You still provoke when casting a spell using Spell Combat, meaning that you need to cast defensively to avoid attacks of opportunity.
Acrobatic Spellcaster (Combat): If you’re willing to burn a feat for Skill Focus (Acrobatics) or use Skill Materia to save the feat slots, opponents being unable to make attacks of opportunity against your spells is a very useful thing to have.
Elemental Focus (General): Your main focus is pure elemental damage, rather than enfeebling. You don’t really need this.
Elemental Focus, Greater (General): See Elemental Focus.
Elemental Penetration (General): Helps to overcome the elemental resistance of certain enemies, but will lock you into specializing into one element, and weakens another element. Good for elemental specialist builds, but you’re better off using three or four elements instead. Just in case.
Elemental Penetration, Greater (General): See Elemental Penetration.
Empowered Touch (General): A Power Attack knock off designed for spell and supernatural touch attack rolls. Since Spellstrike is a melee attack roll, you’re better off using Power Attack or Piranha Strike instead.
Extra Arcane Pool (General): Not completely necessary, but if you like to use the Arcane Pool, more points are always nice.
Extra Limit Break (General): The red mage isn’t that reliant on limit breaks, and you have other feats that can be selected to help out more.
Extra MP (General): A nice option for spellcasters, but you shouldn’t be short of MP.
Clearer Mind (General): In the event that you run low on MP in combat, this can be a potential lifesaver.
Clearest Mind (General): When it comes to MP recovery, the more the merrier.
Lucid Dreaming (General): It’s very time efficient to recover MP during a rest.
Extra Ruby Arcana (General): There are some decent Ruby Arcana, but you should only take this if you know what build you have in mind.
Extra Traits (General): Most of the good traits red mage benefits from are Magic Traits (which you can only have one of), but if you want to stock up on extra skills, this will make them class skills.
Maximized Spellstrike (General): With the MP System in place, you could just spend 3 MP to maximize a spell without having to deny the Dex bonus to AC. Unless you’re willing to invest in Spell Blending or Quick Learner for Shadowfire Ray at later levels, this might not be worth it.
Spell Focus (General): Unless you’re going for an enfeebling build, this won’t do much to help with your elemental spells, as the ones useable with Spellstrike don’t need a saving throw to do damage.
Spell Focus, Greater (General): See Spell Focus.
Spell Penetration (General): At high level Spell Resistance can really shut you down, so Spell Resistance becomes extremely important.
Spell Penetration, Greater (General): See Spell Penetration.
Toughness (General): With d8 hit dice on a frontline character, more HP is appreciated.
Craft Magic Arms and Armor (Item Creation): While you should have access to most of the Black and White Mage spells required for weapon abilities (mostly Black Mage), you’re a Cha based caster. So unless you invest in Spellcraft, you won’t get much out of this.
Craft Wondrous Item (Item Creation): You should have most of the spells needed for crafting wondrous items. For the spells you don’t have, there’s always Spell Blending and Quick Learner.
Close Quarters Spell (Metamagic): Since Spellstrike works with both melee and ranged touch attacks, this is only needed if you want to use your burst or area spell with Spellstrike.
Elemental Spell (Metamagic): Since red mage has access to six out of the eight elemental magics and Spellstrike works with both melee and ranged touch attacks, this is only good if you’re running low on opportunities to learn new elemental spells at level up and can’t afford scrolls.
Empower Spell (Metamagic): Whether you want to take the Empowered Magic arcana or not, this is a solid +2 metamagic to get some extra power out of your elemental or healing spells.
Extend Spell (Metamagic): Increases the duration of your enfeebling and especially your enhancing spells. A solid option if you have a Quick Learner to spare.
Intensified Spell (Metamagic): If you subscribe to the old school of Intensified Shocking Grasp, this is a solid option to get some extra mileage out of a 1st level spell. If not, this will still increase the potency of the 3rd level “-ra” spells past character level 10th.
Maximize Spell (Metamagic): With a +3 spell level increase for a 3/4 caster, you’re better off taking the Maximized Magic ruby arcana at 12th level.
Piercing Spell (Metamagic): Between the Spell Penetration feat and the Spell Power class feature, there are better ways to overcome spell resistance.
Quicken Spell (Metamagic): With a +4 spell level increase for a 3/4 caster, you’re better off taking the Quickened Magic ruby arcana at 15th level.
Selective Spell (Metamagic): Always useful when dealing with crowds, but less so when using Spellstrike up close.
Silent Spell (Metamagic): Situational as you have the Silent Magic arcana as well as a melee weapon and Arcane Pool for elemenacy. You can manage.
Still Spell (Metamagic): Unless you become grappled, you won’t need this often enough for this to be worth it.
Vast Spell (Metamagic): As tempting as this is for support builds, all of your enhancing spells will be single target (making this metamagic useless). Unless you use “Quick Learner (Advanced Learning)” or the “Spell Blending” ruby arcana, I wouldn’t bother with this.
Widen Spell (Metamagic): The burst increase is okay, but the +3 spell level increase means that this feat slot can be better filled by something else. Especially for a melee caster.
Fast Learner (Hume): If you’re okay with sacrificing the extra arcane pool points, this will grant you an extra hit point and an extra skill rank at every level, both of which a red mage can benefit from.
Example leveling guide for 1-20:
- 1st: Combat Casting – Your spellcasting will still provoke attacks of opportunity without defensive casting. This will help with that.
- Hume racial: Dodge – An extra boost to AC is welcome for any Dex build. Especially at early levels.
- RM 1: Quick Mind – And additional swift or immediate action per round allows for more prep and swift action spells (though not Quick Casts).
- QL (minor) 2: Weapon Bond (rapier) – Weapon Focus will open the doors for certain combat feats, and the boost to attack rolls is good for Spellstrikes.
- 3rd: Combat Reflexes – Besides the increased number of attacks of opportunity for a frontline class, this will also power the Flamboyant Arcana’s Opportune Parry & Riposte swashbuckler deed.
- RA 3: Ruby Finesse (rapier, shortsword, dagger) – Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat and the ability to use Dex for damage. A must have for any Dex build.
- 5th: Extra Ruby Arcana (Flamboyant Arcana) – The Derring-Do deed is okay if you want an extra boost in Str or Dex based skills (especially Acrobatics), but the real benefit is deflecting and countering attacks with Opportune Parry & Riposte.
- RM 5: Extra Quick Casts – An extra Quick Cast per day means an extra spell or spellstrike.
- QL (minor) 6: Bonus Metamagic Feat (Intensified Spell) – A bonus metamagic feat for increasing the maximum damage die of spells like Shocking Grasp, 6th level is when the benefits start becoming active.
- RA 6: Empowered Magic – A free +2 metamagic without increasing the MP cost is a solid option. Especially with in increase to damage.
- FCB RA 6: n/a.
- 7th: Mobility – Always a solid backup plan if you’re moving through enemy species and the Acrobatics skill fails you.
- 9th: Spell Penetration – Since you’re a 3/4 caster, most things with SR will shut you down. Better to get this sooner rather than later.
- RM 9: Quick Mind – Now you have three swift or immediate actions per round.
- RA 9: Accurate Strike – Resolves all melee weapon attacks as melee touch attacks. Lets you keep the touch quality of the spell even when using Spellstrike.
- QL (moderate) 10: Improved Weapon Bond (rapier) – Weapon Specialization gives your an extra +2 to your damage rolls. Plus this is one of two times you can obtain this, and the only time before Fighter Training.
- 11th: Toughness – At this level, as a frontline warrior, you’ll want all the HP you can get.
- RA 12: Maximized Magic – Once per day, you’ll be able to apply a great +3 metamagic without increasing the spell level.
- FCB RA 12: n/a.
- 11th: Critical Focus – Take advantage of your nack for critical hits and add a boost to confirmation rolls.
- RM 13: Extra Quick Casts – An extra Quick Cast per day means an extra spell or spellstrike. In two levels, you’ll have access to Doublecast, making this even crazier.
- QL (moderate) 14: Bonus Metamagic Feat (Empower Spell) – At this level, you have the maximum Spell Level to better utilize this.
- 15th: Extra Ruby Arcana (Bane Blade) – This will increase your enhancement bonus against whatever you’re fighting as two higher. Just be sure either you or an ally the appropriate Knowledge check before doing so.
- RA 15: Quickened Magic – Since this lets a 3/4 caster cast any spell as a swift without increasing the level, this is far too good to pass up.
- 17th: Greater Spell Penetration – At this stage, there’s no such thing as too little bonus to overcoming SR.
- RM 17: Spell Combat Expertise – Reduces the attack penalty to Spell Combat. It may be negligible at this point, but less attack penalty is welcome.
- RA 18: Spell Blending (Disintegrate) – Disintegrate is the best spell available to the red mage that they can Spellstrike with. Especially since the damage output of Shocking Grasp won’t cut it like it used to.
- FCB RA 18: n/a.
- 19th: Extra Ruby Arcana (Arcane Deed (Deadly Stab)) – You need to be 19th level to qualify for this Deed, and since you don’t have access to the 9th level Death spell, this is the next best thing.
- QL (major) 19: Greater Weapon Bond (rapier) – You need your attack roll for Spellstrike and Spell Combat, and this is the only opportunity your getting for a free Greater Weapon Focus.
While the red mage is proficient with all simple and martial weapons (plus melee and ranged power weapons), most of their best weapons that have close to the critical hit range required for Spellstrike to thrive are weapons of the light or heavy blades group. Finesse weapons are also an option to take advantage of the Dex needed for the ranged touch attacks on the spell list.
Cutlass (Martial): Since it’s treated as a scimitar for any related effects, see the scimitar for more details on this pirate sword.
Dueling Sword (Exotic): Essentially a finesse longsword (that is a longsword if you’re not proficient), this is useful if you want more power without investing in Str, but you’re probably better off getting the critical range of the rapier for Spellstrike.
Elven Thornblade (Exotic): Has the same stats as the rapier, but can also deal slashing damage while also providing a +2 bonus on attack rolls to confirm critical hits. Definitely better than the rapier if you’re proficient.
Gladius (Martial): A shortsword with the Performance weapon feature. If you’re playing with Performance checks this is okay, if not, this is little better than a shortsword.
Katana (Exotic): If the red mage picks up this proficiency, you’ll have a 18-20 weapon that deals 1d8 points of damage. The only downside is that it’s not finessable without the Slashing Grace feat.
Khopesh (Exotic): Essentially a longsword with the trip weapon quality, this has potential if you want to take advantage of your Combat Reflexes. However, this isn’t a finesse weapon, and you’ll be dropping the weapon if you don’t have the CMD against trip. Still, if you want to fight like an Egyptian, this sword is for you.
Longsword (Martial): The most basic of all the swords of the heavy blades group, this is decent when you’re fighting with a borrowed or looted weapon, but it’s easily overshadowed by other weapons. Still, there are worse weapons.
Machete (Martial): A shortsword that gives a minor bonus to Survival checks. Red mage don’t Survival.
Mandragoran Thornblade (Exotic): See Elven Thornblade.
Power Flail (Exotic): Takes a standard action to make a single attack and needs a ruby arcana for spellstrike. There are better weapons a red mage can select.
Power Rod (Exotic): The red mage isn’t a ranged fighter and a standard action seems hardly worth it, but it could be useful if tied to light or darkness. Might be useful as a situational sidearm, but nothing more.
Power Staff (Exotic): Does more damage than the Power Rod, but is a two-handed weapon, meaning you lose the buckler’s AC and the red mage isn’t a ranged fighter anyways.
Rapier (Martial): A marital finesse weapon with a 18-20 critical range, the rapier is the best weapon a red mage can have in their arsenal by default, with only exotic weapons surpassing it.
Scimitar (Martial): Arguably the best weapon for a red mage that isn’t a finesse weapon, the scimitar is essentially a slashing rapier without the finesse quality. If you’re building a Str based red mage, this is probably the weapon to go for. The rapier is still better though.
Shortsword (Martial): A light weapon with the same damage as a rapier but with a 19-20 critical range. You can do better.
Spiral Rapier (Exotic): One of the few weapons technically better than the rapier, it comes with the Blocking and Disarm weapon features. As good as this may sound, red mages aren’t known for combat maneuvers, and the Blocking quality only offers a +1 shield bonus when fighting defensively (which you can get from an enhanceable buckler).
Steel Terbutje (Martial): A terbutje that loses the Fragile weapon feature, but this just makes it a longsword clone.
Sword Cane (Martial): A rapier without the 18-20 critical range in exchange for a concealed weapon? No thanks.
Terbutje (Martial): A wooden longsword with the Fragile weapon feature. Unless you find yourself needing to go Mesoamerican on someone’s hide, you’re better off using a conventional longsword.
Wakizashi (Exotic): Similar stats to a rapier but as an exotic light weapon. Aside from the damage type, anything offered by the exotic wakizashi can be obtained via the marital rapier.
Elven Curve Blade (Exotic): Has the same stats as the Nodachi but is a finesse weapon. If you’re doing a Dex build and have the proficiency, go for it.
Falchion (Martial): Arguably the best weapon offered to the Mystic Knight, this two-handed weapon offers a 18-20 critical range and a 2d4 damage dice.
Knight Sword (Exotic): Because the archetype trades out Spellstrike for Exploit Weakness, this is the best one-handed weapon they can get. A 1d10 damage die for a one-handed weapon is nothing to sneer at.
Mandragoran Curve Blade (Exotic): See Elven Curve Blade.
Nodachi (Martial): Arguably the best weapon offered to the Mystic Knight, this two-handed weapon offers a 18-20 critical range and a 1d10 damage dice, tying the Knight Sword in damage while surpassing it in critical range.
Scythe (Martial): The 2d4 damage dice and the x4 critical multiplier will help you strike fear in the most stalwart of foes.
Blaster Edge (Exotic): Essentially a light crossbow without the reload time that bounces between targets before returning to the launcher, eliminating the need for ammunition while doing the same damage as a longbow. Not sure if it’s worth the Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat, as you can only pull off one attack if you’re fighting a single enemy. Still, it may have the potential to carry a single spell charge to multiple enemies via Ranged Spellstrike.
Crossbow, Hand (Exotic): Exotic weapon with a move action reload for only 1d4 points of damage? Not worth it.
Crossbow, Heavy (Simple): Requires a full-round action to reload unless you have the Rapid Reload feat (in which case it’s a move action). Does more damage than a longbow, but you’re probably better off using a greatbow (whose damage equals the heavy crossbow without the reload time).
Crossbow, Light (Simple): Requires a move action to reload unless you have the Rapid Reload feat (in which case it’s a free action). Same damage as a longbow, and requires a feat to get roughly the same reload speed. Pass.
Greatbow (Exotic): Essentially a composite longbow that deals 1d10 points of damage instead of the usual 1d8. The only thing holding this weapon back is that it’s an exotic weapon, meaning you’ll need to find a way to be proficient.
Hornbow, Orc (Exotic): The strongest bow around at 2d6 points of damage. If you have a feat to spare, get Exotic Weapon Proficiency for this.
Longbow (Martial): The go to weapon of any archer or archery archetype.
Longbow, Composite (Marital): Since the ruby archer lacks a way to do Dex to damage, this is your best option with your current proficiencies.
Repeating Crossbow, Heavy (Exotic): Since the rules regarding Rapid Reload do not mention this exotic crossbow, it’ll take a full-round action to reload. That full-round action is better spent elsewhere.
Repeating Crossbow, Light (Exotic): See Repeating Crossbow, Heavy.
Shortbow (Marital): If you have access to the Longbow, why would you take this?
Shortbow, Composite (Martial): If you have access to the Longbow, Composite, why would you take this?
Animated Doll (Exotic): Despite being classified as a melee power weapon, the cost giving up a move action and not benefiting from power weapon feats makes a Power Rod or Staff a more practical option.
Mithral (Material): The way Armored Mage interacts with this material, medium armor becomes viable sooner than 7th level. This is additional to the usual abilities of Mithral for the Max Dex Bonus and Armor Check Penalties.
Buckler (Shield): While Armored Mage allows for the use of light shields with spells (and heavy shields at 10th level), the Buckler is the only shield that can be used with Spell Combat.
Shield, Light (Shield): Initially covered by Armored Mage, but disables Spell Combat. Unless you trade out your spellcasting, stick to the buckler.
Shield, Heavy (Shield): Not covered by Armored Mage until 10th level and disables Spell Combat. Unless you trade out your spellcasting, stick to the buckler.
Chain Shirt (Light): Provides a +4 bonus to AC, a respectable +4 max Dex bonus, but a -2 Armor Check penalty. When made from Mithral, the max Dex bonus becomes a +6 and the Armor Check penalty becomes a -0. Without Mithral, you get one of the highest armor bonuses for light armor. With Mithral, you get a +10 AC bonus (between the Armor and Dex bonus), making this better than the medium armor if you keep your Dex up.
Leather (Light): +2 armor bonus plus a +6 max Dex bonus with no penalties and no option for Mithral. Low starting AC and caps at +8 total with a high Dex. Best left for the Thieves.
Padded (Light): +1 armor bonus with a +8 max Dex, no penalty and no Mithral option. Also best left for the Theives, as this provides a +9 combined AC bonus.
Studded Leather (Light): +3 bonus to AC, +5 max Dex bonus, and an Armor Check Penalty of -1. When forged from Mithral, the max Dex becomes a +7 and the Armor Check penalty is reduced to 0. Solid starting armor with minimal Armor Check penalty.
Breastplate (Medium): +6 armor bonus to AC, +3 max Dex bonus, and an Armor Check penalty of -4. If made into Mithral, the max Dex is +5 and the Armor Check Penalty is -2. If you’re not planning on using your physical skills, this is a decent option. But the Chain Coat is still better in the long run.
Breastplate, Agile (Medium): +6 armor bonus to AC, +3 max Dex bonus, and an Armor Check penalty of -4 (-1 for Climb and Acrobatics to jump). If made into Mithral, the max Dex is +5 and the Armor Check Penalty is -2 (0 for Climb and Acrobatics to jump). Slightly worse than the Chain Coat, but does offer it’s initial benefits earlier.
Chain Coat (Medium): +4 armor bonus to AC, +5 max Dex bonus, and -2 armor check penalty. When worked into Mithral, you have a +7 max Dex bonus and 0 Armor Check penalty. This is likely the best medium armor you can hope to get for a Dex-based build that doesn’t penalize your physical skills.
Half-Plate, Agile (Heavy): If you still want to invest in Climb and jumping Acrobatics, this will still give you a +8 armor bonus. Since you don’t have spells, Spell Failure Chance is irrelevant.
Full Plate (Heavy): Has the highest armor bonus offered, and the armor check penalty hardly matters as you should be focused on finding out and then Exploit Weakness of your foes. Since you don’t have spells, Spell Failure Chance is irrelevant.
See Mystic Knight.
Tower Shield (Shield): A +4 shield bonus to AC and an option for cover, however you’ll take a -2 to attack rolls and can’t shield bash. Since Storing Shield relies on shield bashing a spell onto your opponent, you might be better off using a heavy shield.
Besides the keen weapon quality, a lot of the usually good weapon abilities can be enhanced onto your weapon via Arcane Pool, making most of these unnecessary at best. You need that attack bonus for Spell Combat and Spellstrike.
Dueling (+14,000): Expensive, but it’s a way to get a +4 initiative bonus. Since a good chunk of your weapons are finesseable (including the rapier), this might be worth the gil. Link
Allying (+1): This ability only works with the natural enhancement bonus of the weapon, meaning it won’t work with Arcane Pool. Link
Agile (+1): If you burned a feat for Weapon Finesse, this will let you get Dex to damage without burning another feat. However, it’s more economical to get the Ruby Finesse ruby arcana. Link
Answering (+1): Excellent if you’re building for a Flamboyant Arcana build, otherwise leave this alone. Link
Benevolent (+1): This ability only works with the natural enhancement bonus of the weapon, meaning it won’t work with Arcane Pool. Link
Bane (+1): Good if your GM prefers one creature type over another, only okay with everything else. If you want it so badly, wait till 15th level where Bane Blade allows you to enchant this yourself and lets you choose each time. Link
Confounding (+1): Does not work with Flamboyant Arcana. Don’t bother adding it to your weapon ability. Link
Cunning (+1): You have access to Knowledge (arcana) and Knowledge (planes) as class skills. If you’re hume or use another racial trait or character trait, you can get Knowledge (local) too. Link
Debilitating (+1): Whether via Prescient Attack or through feinting, this can be a good option. Link
Deceptive (+1): If you’re investing in feinting, this will help you out. Link
Defending (+1): This ability only works with the natural enhancement bonus of the weapon, meaning it won’t work with Arcane Pool. Link
Dispelling (+1): You have access Dispel, plus you can add the enhancement bonus to the caster level check to dispel. This also works with the Dispelling Strike arcana if you go for that arcana. Link
Elemental (+1): The Earthen, Flaming, Frost, Jestream, Roaring and Shock can be enhanced onto your weapon with Arcane Pool. You don’t need this permanently enhanced onto your weapon. Link
Fortuitous (+1): If you have Combat Reflexes, this could be useful. Link
Ghost Touch (+1): Situational, they’re only really good against incorporeal foes. Link
Growing (+1): Increases the damage die by one size for 1 minute. Useful and last longer than the Enlarge spell. Link
Guardian (+1): Turn your enhancement bonus to attack from Arcane Pool into a bonus to saves. Link
Heartseeker (+1): Ignores the miss chance of concealment of targets with hearts, does nothing against those without hearts. Should be decent enough against most foes. Link
Keen (+1): The rapier is a piercing weapon, and this doubles the critical range of Spellstrike. Take this. Link
Menacing (+1): If you’re building for Acrobatics, this lets you zip
across the battlefield, support your allies, and get an additional attack bonus. Link
Ominous (+1): You have Intimidate as a class skill, so if you’re building for that skill take it. This won’t help you hit your opponent more easily, however. Link
Skewering (+1): Does not work with Flamboyant Arcana. Don’t bother adding it to your weapon ability. Link
Spell Storing (+1): Decent if you want to sneak in a Shocking Grasp into the weapon, and this helps bypass the need to make an attack roll if you did this with Spellstrike. Link
Training (+1): Good for cheesing a capstone feat, not as good when dealing with mid-tier feats (as this doesn’t let you qualify for the future feats). Link
Alignment (+2): You can enhance your weapon with Anarchic, Axiomatic, Holy, or Unholy using Devoted Blade. You don’t really need this. Link
Elemental Burst (+2): See Elemental (+1). Link
Dispelling Burst (+2): Works with either Dispel or Greater Dispel and since this gains a bonus on critical hits (and doesn’t need Dispel inside of the blade), this becomes a major upgrade. Link
Speed (+3): Doesn’t stack with Haste effects, and you can get such effects from other sources besides your weapon. Plus you can already enhance the ability onto your weapon with Arcane Pool already. Link
Vorpal (+5): Only works on a Nat 20, only works with slashing weapons, and can be enchanted onto said weapon via Arcane Pool (if your using a slashing weapon). Link
They’re aren’t too many enticing options for magic armor abilities for the red mage, so you’re better off sticking with enhancement bonuses.
Buoyant (variable gil cost): Depending on which armor you use this on, Mithral will reduce the penalty to 0, rendering this irrelevant. The fact that this only works on Swim checks makes this even more situational. Link
Burdenless (+4,000 gil): Increased carrying capacity is tempting, but as a red mage, your load should already be light enough. Still, this can come in handy if your Str stat got dumped. Link
Comfort (+5,000 gil): Good if you want to wear Medium Armor while sleeping and it helps with extreme heat or cold. Link
Corsair (+5,000): The effect where you regain a grit or panache point won’t do you any good, but the +5 competence bonus on all Acrobatics checks is still useful. Link
Balanced (+1): Medium Armor only; uses up an immediate action to reduce the enhancement bonus to AC to gain an equal enhancement bonus to one of the three saves until the beginning of your next turn. Immediate action is good, though unlike the guardian weapon, this only applies to one save. Link
Benevolent (+1): Armor only; you’re not a tank, so unless you’re a Red Warrior, leave this ability to the tanks. Link
Blinding (+1): Shield only; the fact that everyone within 20 ft. must make the Ref save to avoid being blinded makes this more impractical than useful. Link
Bolstering (+1): Available to Medium Armor; you damage a creature with an attack (melee or ranged), you gain a +2 competence bonus on saves vs. the creature’s abilities. Good enough I suppose. Link
Mirrored (+1): The ability to resist gaze attacks and adding the enhancement bonus to touch AC against rays (or ranged touch attacks) is good, and if you have the Precision Strike arcane deed even if the target has concealment. Link
Arrow Deflection (+2): As a Dex based combatant, you should be able to succeed the Ref save required to deflect oncoming arrows. Though this won’t work if you’re flat-footed. Link
Spell Dodging (+2): A +4 dodge bonus to AC against the attack rolls of spells/spell-like abilities and the attacks of summoned creatures is very nice. Link
Reflecting (+5): Shield only; Once per day, you can Reflect a spell back at its caster. The only downside is the hefty +5 bonus cost to your buckler. Link
Shield Materia (Ability): Since your shield of choice of is a buckler (whose AC bonus comes and goes) and the Level 2 and 3 require fighter levels. Unless you’re going for the Unhindering Shield feat, don’t get this. Link
Skill Materia (Ability): You have a wide variety of skills, enough to benefit from this materia. Slot where it fits. Link
Dark Materia (Spell): Provides the first three levels of dark spells which are not on the red mage’s spell list. Slot in an armor slot to avoid healing undead with your weapon and to resist their attacks. Link
Holy Materia (Spell): Provides the first three levels of light spells which are not on the red mage’s spell list. Slot in a weapon slot as things that resist holy are few. Link
Barrier Materia (Support): Only offers one new spell to the red mage (Reflect), but the same effect can be gained via the Reflection ruby arcana or a Ring of Arcane Mastery. The DR is nice though. Link
Carbuncle Materia (Summon): Natural progression of Holy Materia. The avatar also gives you a nice support pet too. Link
Diabolos Materia (Summon): Natural progression of Dark Materia. The avatar is also good for providing dark damage and status effects. Link
Ring of Arcane Mastery: In exchange for sacrificing up to 4 points of the Arcane Pool into the ring, the red mage can later spend these point to either gain a +2 bonus to concentration checks or gain the benefit of either the Pool Strike or the Reflection ruby arcana. The Reflection arcana is good, though it would only be able to reflect a spell of 4th level or lower.
+1/+2/+3/+4/+5 Ring of Protection: Always a solid option for increasing your AC.
+2/+4/+6 Ring of the Attuned: A ring that provides an enhancement bonus to any 1 ability score. Good for freeing up slots for wondrous items.
+2/+4/+6 Belt of Incredible Dexterity (Belt): A boost to Dex means a boost to attack, AC, and Acrobatics. Link
Boots of Speed (Feet): If you don’t want to invest in the Speed enhancement or the Hasted Assault ruby arcana, this is your best bet for a Haste effect. Link
Bronze/Iron/Crystal/Titanium/Platinum Bangle (Wrist): Provides additional HP to keep you alive. If you have the wrist slot open, this is very helpful. Link
Charm/Witty/Personality Bracelet (Wrist): A +2, +4, or +6 bonus to Cha for spellcasting and Con for HP, later variants also grant immunity to the Curse and Silence status effects. Useful for staying alive and unleashing magical mayhem. Link
+1/+2/+3/+4/+5 Cloak of Resistance (Shoulders): Always a solid option for increasing all of your saving throws. Link
Cloak of the Diplomat (Shoulders): Since you’re primarily a face class, the +5 competence bonus on Diplomacy and Sense Motive is very welcome. Just be sure to invest in Safe Materia to avoid losing out on the bonus to your saves.
Force/Diamond/Crystal Bracelet (Wrist): The +2, +4 or +6 boost to both Int and Wis helps with skills and Ruby Knowledge, and the later immunities to Poison and Curse is nice too, but it takes up that precious wrist slot that many dual stat boosters take. Link
Hat of the Red Wizard (Head): A continuous Choco Feather effect and the ability to summon a scroll of any red mage spell (potentially adding to spells known), among other things. This hat comes in handy when you need it. Link
+2/+4/+6 Headband of Alluring Charisma (Headband): Doesn’t grant any immunities like the Charm/Witty/Personality Bracelet, but it’s cheaper and still boosts your spellcasting stat. Link
+1/+2/+3 Islander’s Wayfinder of Light (Neck): If you want an extra materia slot in addition to your weapon, armor, and shield, this is the way to do so. For the best compliments to your skills and saves, select the Speed or Magic variants. Link
Montblac’s Satchel (Slotless): At least one person in the party should be carrying this item. Link
Mythril/Diamond/Crystal Gloves (Hands): The +2, +4 or +6 bonus to Int and Con is nice for skills, Ruby Knowledge, and generally staying alive, but they also come with immunity to Silence and Poison without taking up the wrist slot. Link
Ruined Bracers (II/III) (Wrist): Ruinra and Ruinga aren’t normally on the red mage’s spell list, so this is a good way to gain them without having to go through Quick Learner or Spell Blending. However, this takes up a wrist slot and is ultimately not needed. Link
Spellstrike Gloves (Hands): Since the red mage can already use ranged touch attacks with Spellstrike, this item has become obsolete. Link
Darkvision: Useful for races that lack this naturally. It may be a better investment to just buy goggles or cast it, however. Link.
Displacement: If you expect to be in the line of fire a lot, this can cause a lot of misses. Link.
See Invisibility: Invisible creatures can be a pain to fight, and always having this makes them a piece of cake. Link.
True Seeing: Illusions and concealment are now a non-issue. Link.
Weapon of Awe: +2 sacred bonus to damage rolls, crits cause shaken. Obtain other, easier methods to increase your damage before picking this up. Link.
The red mage already has much of what they need in on the red mage spell list by default, and any spell they desire from the black or white mage can be yoinked via either the Spell Blending ruby arcana or the Quick Learner class feature. The fact that Spell Combat and Spellstrike only work with spells cast from the red mage spell list (neglecting Broad Study) means that they’re secure with their spellcasting. However, they do have one exclusive prestige class built specifically for them in the form of the Ruby Magister.
Ruby Magister (Prestige): With the +1 level to red mage gained at 2nd-9th level of Ruby Magister, and the fact that the earliest level you can qualify for this prestige class is character level 8th, you’re only losing out on two levels of red mage. In exchange, you get five fighter levels for feats and an extra boost in your attack rolls and a pseudo-elemental spell ability. But the real benefits of taking this class features that (among others) prevent you from needing to cast defensively, spending Arcane Pool to increase the critical hit multiplier, and qualifying for feats sooner than you would as a red mage.