View Full Version : Pathfinder The Psychotron PrC: The Augmented Killing Machine [PEACH]

2017-02-05, 04:45 PM
Here is a prestige class I'm working on based off of the Megadeth song of the same name. It's designed for fighter-y or rogue-y types and it's meant to be noticeably more powerful/versatile than single-classed characters for either, and to support many different kinds of builds. Thanks in advance for your thoughts and feedback.

In brief, here are a few highlights of the class:
* Retractable, upgradable melee weapon as well as a built-in ranged attack.
* Powerful, interchangeable class features offset by the fact that they take up magic item slots.
* Tech-themed "Weapon systems" based off of Evocation spells.

Psychotron (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cVeNWuZQIXQVHF83CLjur7rGG8oGNB4yH3tIMFYujVY/edit?usp=sharing)

2017-02-06, 08:38 PM
I'll try and cover the class part-by-part with an eye towards how I would feel about taking this as a player.

Requirements: Entry to this class is remarkably easy- it's open to virtually every martial with one feat, and the ranger falls into it without even trying. Entry is your 5th level.
Skills and Chassis: Sleight of Hand and Stealth are a bit surprising, but class skills aren't important for PrCs. 2+Int skill points means this isn't for skill users- but d8 hit die means it isn't exactly a melee class at first look. Good Fort and Ref saves seem to indicate that it's a general martial class.

1st level:
Close Weapon System: Drawing weapons as a swift action isn't great, especially since people can draw weapons as part of movement (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/quick-draw-combat---final) (i.e. free) in Pathfinder. Other than that, there isn't much special about this right now.
Energy Blast: Deals 1d6 + level in damage. Standard action to use means this isn't great unless you focus on it. Because of its scaling, it does make a good backup option for a melee combatant.
1st level verdict:The default mode for this class looks like one hand: Close weapon system, the other one free for energy blast. However, this level is pretty noticably bare- Energy Blast is a poor pick right now, since next level you can full-attack, and there isn't much you can do about it right now.

2nd level: You get your first spell now. You also have a Murder Point Reserve; it starts out at 3 points. Practically speaking, this means at this level, you will use it only once per day unless you take Flamethrower. Your other picks are Fireball, Lightning Bolt, swift-action Magic Missile (3 bolts at this point), Detonate, and Volcanic Storm. Cone of Cold is on there maybe too (tone it down to 2 points if it is).
-Volcanic Storm is the probable victor of this level- it has no saving throw, and locks down your enemies due to difficult terrain. It doesn't scale, but you can switch it out next level. Kudos on the spell options- they are nicely varied options with pros and cons. Detonate might be a victor due to the energy-type choice, but there's a place for each of these- except for Flamethrower, which just can't compete with full attacks, and doesn't deal enough damage to be a viable CC option. (Except lightning bolt because it's honestly a bad option compared with all of them)
-You should organize this by level which you can access the option- bundle the ones which require 5 levels with each other, and ditto for 8 levels. You lose alphabetization, but it makes it easier to pick them out.
-Is Absolute Zero one of the "5-level" ones? It costs 3 MP, so it looks like it fits there.

Primary Weapon Upgrades(Character Level 7):
Energy Blast:
Diffusion: Good on CC (better than Flamethrower, really), turns attack rolls into Reflex saves. Doesn't synergize with upgrades related to attack rolls, though (Pure Energy, Reconfigure, Penetrating Blasts) so is harder to optimize. Very fun with Rapid Fire and full-attacks- this a nice, splashy feature to have as an option.
Penetrating Blasts: A near must-take for Blast specializers- most fights will happen in the first range increment, so this turns your attacks into near-guaranteed hits.
Pure Energy: Good pick, assuming you are allowed to switch energy types as you gain a level. Virtually nothing resists you now, which is great! Attack bonus is cherry on top.
Rapid Fire: Virtually required for a EB build. Without this, you basically have no energy damage scaling, now you can treat it as a normal ranged attack (and take related feats).
Reconfigure: Not relevant compared to Pure Energy unless you have lots of foes with Energy Resistance. Improve it- maybe you can convert between precision and power, taking a penalty to damage for a bonus to attack or vice versa. Otherwise, underwhelming.
Sample Ranger build:Ranger with Archery style -> Rapid Fire -> Penetrating Blasts -> Pure Energy.

Close Weapon Upgrades:
Arsenal: Still not great to have multiple weapons, especially with the drawing weapons issue, extra-especially since you'll have to pay for all of them. Somewhat nice "mega man" play with gaining items, except that the time-cost means you need to take a day out of adventuring. Ability should reduce that time to one minute, as well as applying a "minimum enhancement bonus" to items (can't take total over +10, but shores up weird items like the
assassin's blade which otherwise wouldn't have the attack bonus to compete at high levels).
Blade Dash: Honestly one of my favorite spells right there. Good, splashy pick.
Deadliness: Not a great pick- it's ~1.5 feats (Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization), neither of them great. I wouldn't feel happy about taking this- more numbers are boring.
Extension: Immediate action means it'll be used for AoOs maybe. It's an odd pick. Competes with Maximum Force and Magic Missile for swift actions. Not a great pick- it's rather gimmicky, and Lunge is just better in general due to not eating up swift actions. Due to writing of Blade Dash, doesn't combo.
Maximum Force: Nice, fun pick. Nice in some bizarre Bull Rush build, but also in general due to damage boost. Would use it most chances I get. Combos with Blade Dash, but it eats up your MP like crazy.
Sample melee Fighter build: Blade Dash and Maximum Force, something else? Needs one more good option.
Remarks: The Energy Blast options are nice, although the damage of the attack leaves something to be desired. It's dealing 1d8 + 3 at this point in the game- barring a sneak-attack or archery option, it's pretty low damage. Virtual "feat tax" on Rapid Fire. The Close Weapon options have two fun abilities, both spells. Arsenal would be 100x more fun if you had a "these weapons have a minimum enhancement level" ability.

Defensive Systems (Character Level 8):
This is a neat, rather weird option. Items need to compete with similarly available magic items to make their free-ness worthwhile.
Cloaking Device: Miss chance is nice and stays relevant over time, Vanish would pair nicely with Sneak Attack if it were a legitimate entry into the class- currently competes with other powers for swift actions. Worth the shoulders slot at low levels, later on less so.
Critical Response: Nah. My paladin gets this as a 1st level spell called Hero's Defiance. Would not take.
Deflective Shielding: Competing with Amulet of Natural Armor, and not really winning- has powers of Ring of Protection. You can get one attack to maybe miss, but then it goes down for a whole minute. Would not take except in item-low campaign.
Deploy Forcefield: It's a shield, but worse- starts at +3, goes up to +7 at 18th level. Cover option is nice, but full-defense is better in most scenarios. Also, prevents the "Weapon and energy blast" playstyle. If you were playing a melee build, you would have a shield anyway.
Dermal Plating: Would take along with Deflective Shielding, maybe- it covers a different slot, and the item which would normally provide this one's bonus is taken up with Deflective Shielding. DR is irrelevant against many foes at high levels, only comes up sometimes. Would only take in item-low campaign- this gives little that items can't provide.
Energy Protection: Would absolutely take. Despite name implying it grants protection from energy instead of resist energy, this is a good tool which always gives you the protection you need RIGHT NOW. On the other hand, class needs Spellcraft as a skill to make this work. Comes up enough that I would take it.
Environmental Adaptation: Would conditionally take in the right campaign. As-is, this is trying to take the role of something you only need sometimes. Needs one ability to make it more generally useful.
Jump Jets: Provides something fighters desperately need, except that the cost is prohibitive.
Night Optics: Covers an appropriate slot, covers most things you would want to use that slot for. Spending points gives you the advanced features when you want them. Would take.
Remarks: Tries too hard to copy existing magic items- ring of deflection, amulet of natural armor. Night optics and Energy Protection hit a sweet spot where they protect you against things that come up often, but not all the time, and will have you covered when you need it. If Jump Jets had the cost toned down, it would fit that niche. Environmental Adaptation could use a little more protection from environmental factors- perhaps the ability to move through difficult terrain and protection from falling damage. Deploy Forcefield needs Emergency Force Sphere as an option instead of standard action cover, except have it last until the end of your next turn, and put the shield bonus in-line with an enchanted Heavy Shield. Dermal Plating and Deflective Shielding need an overhaul if you're keeping them. Critical Response is just bad.

More powerful AWS spells:
Caustic Spray is a line spell. It deals more damage, I guess, but it's still pretty bad.
Poison Canister has a niche build with Environmental Protection, in which case I might take it, actually.
Options this level aren't as solid as the L2 ones. I would actually remove these and force the player to take another one of those. A novice player will say "okay, what do I get this level?", but they should really take another option from L2 to add versatility. Compared to the "Capstone"-ness of L8 spells and the versatility of L2 spells, this is pretty bad.

Death Ray: Hoo.
Ultraviolet Burst: Boy.
Cluster Bomb: Wow.
Each of these are powerful options in different circumstances, and I would be happy to take either. Another good set of spell options, with no clear winner.

Assassin in Stealth:
Standard multiclass feat, except that I can't really see most roguey types taking this. Skill points are too low for skillmonkeying, AWS don't benefit from Sneak Attack, etc. I could maybe see a gimmicky build with the energy blast upgrades and using Cloaking Device every round, I guess, except that there are only dubious benefits of Energy Blast over a Brilliant Energy bow under Greater Invisibility. If you want to make this a real rogue class, give it:
-A skill point # upgrade so the skillmonkey can keep going
-Better Primary Weapon options to make sneak attack work as well as it normally does.

Assailant From Hell/Impervious to Damage/Killing Machine: Looks good, would use to flesh out build some, if better general options were available- see notes on specific class features

Non-Stop Combatant: I'm going to be honest, I have no idea what the balance point for MP are. Would still take it, because class options often ask for 3 or 4 MP to use them. A good thing to have on the list, and the current point scaling looks fine.

Target to Destroy: Sure. Looks fine. I'd have fun with using it with Detonate and Cone of Cold, but that's fine because spell damage isn't too high generally anyway.

Remark: I don't really see why you're going with the "Machine of Death" theme- the class reminds me a lot of Megaman, Samus, and Cyborg (from Teen Titans).
There are a whole lot of options in this class, and many of them are cool picks that would have me dithering for a while. However. while most of the AWS spell options are very solid, several of the Primary Weapon Upgrades and Defensive Systems aren't great. The most common flaw in Primary Weapon Upgrades was that they were underpowered compared to most feats or rogue talents, and the most common flaw in Defensive System was that they tried to copy "magic items, but a little bit better" and failed.

Looking between MP costs and the MP/level, I would accelerate the MP for the class by approximately one level- due to linear scaling, at low levels, you have too few to use your powers more than 2 or 3 times a day. Level 2 stays how it is, level 3 gets one MP more to squeeze out one more Bladed Dash or Maximum Power, level 4 has two more than it has now because Defensive Systems are power hogs, and from level 5 on, 3 more MP than as-is. Up the MP cost on Death Ray, Cluster Bomb and Ultraviolet Blast by 1-2, because they are that much better than the L2 spells.

2017-02-07, 05:31 AM
My tremendous thanks! This is excellent feedback, precisely the sort of quality response I had hoped to get, and I can't wait to get started on improving the features which need it.

I do feel uncertain about the balance of the Energy Blast. It is definitely intended to be a "Backup weapon" when you get it, and only become a viable built with the upgrades. When thinking about the damage/killing potential of a well-built Blaster, I started to use the PF Gunslinger as a model, but I'm not certain if that's the appropriate one to use because of how Gunslingers go beyond many assumptions of ranged fighters (guns going off touch AC, namely) in order to wreck things. If nothing else, it's clear that if Gunslinger is the measuring stick for Energy Blast, Fighter can't be the measuring stick for Close Weapon System.

The prerequisites section is definitely lacking but I truthfully am drawing a blank as to what should actually go there. I want the class to be accessible to numerous martial classes and both ranged and melee builds.

2017-02-07, 11:52 AM
Am liking the changes I see so far.
Chassis: Skill points could use a minor upgrade further to 6+Int, or make the hit die d10.
Close weapon system could be written "as a free action once per round the ~ can call into being or dismiss a masterwork version of that weapon".
Energy Blast damage up- looks good. Damage is roughly on par with or behind a single sneak attack, which is fine at this point, making it a nice but not overpowering backup weapon.
MDK Battery: Changes to progression look fine,
Spells: Solid options, like the changes to flamethrower and lightning bolt (although Flamethrower is still limited by the fact that you need to spend actions over multiple rounds to get full value- giving up sneak attack. It's more of a utility tool than a weapon.)
Lightning Coil is added- good pick, nice competition for the other choices.
Sonic Boom added- also good pick. Damage is less, but better effects. It does fill some of the same niche as Sunburst.

Reconfigure- Good options here- interestingly, the powers seem to organize themselves in "range tiers" for fighters:
Point Blank close in, Impact further out or with Diffusion, then Range.
Bonus types are a little confusing, especially since they'll rarely come up.
Nice option, with at least two modes (Point Blank and Impact) that I would regularly switch between. Range option has nice synergy with Penetrating Blasts.
Unfortunately, it competes with Penetrating Blasts for swift actions, which I just noticed.
An alternative might be variable damage and precision, like a Deadly Aim and reverse-Deadly Aim; you can choose to take a penalty or bonus to the attack roll of up to +/-3, taking double the reverse to damage, and change settings as a free action once per round.
Also looking for a Overload Blast talent- something like the vicious enchantment.

Melee talent sorely needed, maybe replacing Deadliness:
$Name: You gain an enhancement bonus on attack and damage rolls. The value of the bonus is 1/3 your HD (maximum +5). Since this is an enhancement bonus, it doesn't stack with the bonus from magic weapons.

2017-02-08, 06:09 AM
A substantial number of updates have been made, some of them semantic but significant (changing Reconfigure to a free action to support combos with other abilities).

The prerequisites now require what most will consider a feat expenditure, as it's not a feat on anybody's build.

Close Weapon System innately scales like a Greater Magic Weapon.

Extension works all the time, Deadliness is a bit better but also allows entry into Fighter-specific feats.

Defensive Systems have almost all been changed around, so that they are better than whatever magical counterpart would be available then. There's a new one, too -- Spell Protection.

While I don't expect it makes Poison builds generally viable, a new feat for would-be poisoners has been added.

I may add some additional abilities for Close Weapon System/Energy Blast later but these changes should address most of the particular discrepancies between the choices.