Guns and Gears is here, and with it we have two more classes to work with. Returning from 1e is the gunslinger, a focused damage class with a bunch of new utility and maneuverability. The class has a lot of cool new stuff about it that makes it feel fresh and super fun / silly. But that’s for another post.
New with this book is the inventor, the ancient ancestor of Starfinder’s Mechanic class. This is a sort of schtick-martial-class similar to the investigator or swashbuckler. They do the standard martial class things in combat, usually focusing on damage and/or special effects, mostly revolving around their core class abilities. Most defining is their innovation; you get to choose a unique, personalized piece of mechanical gear that you upgrade and customize as you level. It can be a piece of armor, a robotic pet, or a weapon, and each one has a ton of options built in. Additionally, inventors get two combat activities right off the bat. First, they can charge up their attacks with a Crafting check to add extra damage based on their Intelligence. Second, they can explode. They literally have “Explode” as an ability that causes their innovation to blow up and deal fire damage in an area. Because why not.
Tied to a lot of their abilities is the “unstable” trait, which acts as a limitation to a lot of their shenanigans. It’s actually a little similar to how Focus Points work in that you can reset it with 10 minutes of downtime, but unlike Focus Points you don’t have a hard limit so much as a luck limit. Anytime you take an unstable action, you roll a DC 17 flat check to keep your innovation working properly. If you fail, the action still happens, but your innovation shorts out and you can’t use unstable actions again until you fix it. If you critically fail, you also take fire damage as the innovation explodes a little. Turns out, there are lots of explosions in this class.
I’m not going to do a full review in this blog. Going step by step through every option in a class like I did for Psychic and Thaumaturge is long enough in the playtest versions, and the final version of a class is way longer. I’m just going to have a quick look at the types of innovations since they’re the big shiny part of the class, then I’ll jump into the character building.
Armor seems like the “boring” option to me, since the other options are represented by your very own robot dog or a rocket-propelled-hammer. Comparatively, armor innovations are a bit less flashy. They have plenty of useful options and are genuinely great choices for inventors that want to play a little tankier, but the simple fact is that wearing a big suit of armor with some gadgets doesn’t sound as wacky and fun as a robot dog or rocket-propelled-hammer.
Except Iron Man is a thing.
This is, very simply, making and customizing your own Iron Man suit. You can go light or medium (and later heavy), you add modifications like damage resistances and speed bonuses, and eventually you can gain a fly speed. You can electrify yourself to damage everything that touches you. You can completely negate attacks. There’s also a slew of options for sneaky characters turning their armor into a camo-suit. Very neat.
Pet robot dog! Or goblin! You can have a pet robot goblin in Pathfinder! And it’s great! It’s just like an animal companion in a lot of ways, splashed with a little bit of eidolon in how you get to customize it with things like flamethrowers and jet packs.
Any option in this game that offers a greater use of action economy has a lot of potential. As with just about any pet or minion, the construct effectively increases your actions each turn by one if you spend them in specific ways. You can add different attacks, give it better senses, give it more types of movement, and in the end you’re playing with A PET ROBOT GOBLIN this is so cool.
Fancy armor and robot pets are cool and all, but if you want to go full-blown silly concepts, weapon innovation is where it’s at. Not only do you get a lot of solid options in customizing your weapon with different damage types, additional traits, and weird actions you can use with it, but it builds right into your Overdrive class feature for even more ludicrous images. What’s better than a super-powered greataxe? A super-powered greataxe with buzzsaws on it.
The class’s feats have a good range of flavorful and useful. Have your innovation also be your tool kit. Use Explode to rocket-jump. There are lots of interesting options for support inventors like adding your Overdrive bonus to an ally, or turning your Explode into a healing burst. You could also just double down on hitting things as hard as you can with SCIENCE by taking Megaton Strike and Megavolt. There are a lot of feats that I wish I could take but just don’t have room for on my builds.
For this blog, I want to show a build for a character that has gone through several permutations from its conception to now. The character is Gilzabeth, one of my favorite characters and one that took the longest to get to play. She is an accursed blacksmith. A long time ago, one of her ancestors was tasked with creating the best polearm in all the world. Her ancestor failed. As a result, her family has been cursed to waste away unless one of them can accomplish the task set before them.
So that’s the backstory. The character is from a family that has to forge a perfect weapon to break a curse. But how to build it? Way back in the playtest for Pathfinder 2e, I wanted to make a character that wasn’t a standard combat heavy class that used the shiny new way multiclassing worked to become a martial character with Fighter Dedication. At first I thought about making a wizard that used hand of the apprentice and various buff spells. This eventually shifted into a Hellknight character I might share in the future, but for what I was going for, wizard didn’t really work. Then I considered alchemist, since they are intrinsically suited for Crafting stuff, and the buff spells would be replaced with mutagens. Oracle offered curses, which I considered. Ifrit was released, which might help with the fire part of the character. In the end, I actually switched to a fire elemental sorcerer who used their own fire to forge weapons, and for a long time this is what I stuck with.
Until the inventor was announced.
At that point, I knew the character would either multiclass into inventor or be an inventor at its core.
Gilzabeth is a melee-ish character with lots of little tricks and utility. Her name is a nod to my favorite character in Final Fantasy, the amazing Gilgamesh, who endlessly searches for the ultimate sword (or sometimes polearm), though he does so for far less noble reasons. In an effort to make ‘the ultimate polearm’ I made the innovation do as many things as possible. It should deal as many different kinds of damage as possible, so between hefty composition and razor prongs and Boost Modulation, the weapon can do all types of physical damage types and three energy types. It should have a ton of options for actions it can perform. Built-in tools is largely flavorful, but it’s absolutely perfect for a manic blacksmith. Explosive Leap turns the weapon into a mobility option, which is borderline necessary for melee-weapon-innovation inventors as it gives you the option of making Strikes up to 30 feet in the air. Megaton Strike is the rocket-propelled part of the weapon. Devastating Weaponry brings the rocket-propelled part to a new, wonderful level.
There’s also lots of other little combos that could fit the build, and thankfully the class includes an easy method of reworking it. The modular head or segmented frame modification with Boost Modulation could as a single action can change the physical and energy damage types. Later on, manifold alloy and impossible alloy make the innovation count as cold iron, silver, abysium, adamantine, djezet, inubrix, noqual, orichalcum, and siccatite. Enhanced damage and extensible weapon both improve raw numbers on the weapon.
Gnomes are my favorite ancestry, right up there with leshies and goblins. They’re natural tinkers and inquisitive types. An ifrit blacksmith makes a lot of sense, especially if the fiery ancestor is a salamander (which is the case for a specific reason I’ll discuss in a later post). Together there are a lot of useful tricks like seeing through smoke and adding a temporary trait to your weapon. Special note about Heatwave; when you take fire damage – like from unstable rolls – you can gain concealment until next turn, even if you resist all the fire damage – which ifrit gives.
For the cursed family part of the character, I put a couple feats into the Oracle Dedication. The bones curse rotting away your character slowly is exactly what I need from the curse, and soul siphon is a fantastic ability for an action sink that also protects the character a little bit. Getting full spellcasting benefits from the archetype would cost too many feats, but in a campaign with the free archetype variant rule (which I highly recommend using) I would absolutely pick up more and probably also take some sorcerer feats.
There’s honestly not a lot the character needs from skill feats. Inventor has a good amount of action options between Overdrive, Explode, and various innovation related class feats. Instead, I elected to take Additional Lore. Three times. Is it excessive? Certainly. Is it worth while? Well, kinda? Blacksmithing is admittedly probably covered by crafting most of the time, but elementals and undead are creatures types usually identified with nature and religion, which are wisdom based skills that would require proficiency increases. It makes sense for the character, someone spending her life trying to free her elementally-aligned family from a curse of undeath, would research all sorts of things about her ancestors.
Inventor is a lot like the summoner class in how good it is for making truly wacky concepts. On one level, you have a character who designs and builds their own ideas, leading to all sorts of interesting characterizations. On a different level, you get to customize a major part of your character in ways no one else can. As a huge fan of mechanics in Starfinder, I’m sure inventor will be a go-to class for me in the future as well.
- Filling in the BlanksI went over a method you can use to “mathematically” categorize a character concept or class. However, the class pyramid isn’t limited to this use. It can be a very versatile tool if you know how to use it.
- Make Love, Not WarlockLast in our trio of pseudo-warlocks uses the Psychic class. While there’s no exact copy of eldritch blast, Psychics are the superstars of cantrips and adding bonus effects on your spells.
- I CAST SWORD!Magus is all about combining spells and martial prowess, perfect for a Blade Warlock. Their signature ability Spellstrike has you attack a foe with a weapon and unleash a spell against them all at once.
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