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The Tinker: Master of Modular Mechanical Mayhem (PFRPG) PDF

***** (based on 3 ratings)

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For some, the smell of oil is akin to that of a fine perfume, the rush of invention is the only motivation one needs, and the eternal battle against corrosion is a constant annoyance. These individuals, the tinkers, are exemplars of the unfettered creative spirit. It is this creative spirit, the constant thirst for new ideas, that propels them to seek the unknown, whether it be found in a library or in the dark depths of an ancient tomb. Supported by a vast array of custom automatons, an experienced tinker, while not a fierce combatant on his own, commands an exceptionally versatile squadron that more than makes up for his own deficiencies.

The Tinker: Master of Modular Mechanical Mayhem is the end result of months of playtesting and development. Presented herein is the Tinker base class, an individual who can be described as a "non-spellcaster spellcaster". The domain of the tinker is the mundane. While others dominate the battlefield with arms and arcane might, the tinker does so through mechanical means.

The tinker's greatest asset is the variety of machines he can bring to bear in a fight. Small, mindless automatons make up the bulk of this power, but experienced tinkers are capable of building autonomous Alphas that act as the tinker's #2. Sentient, the alpha can eventually learn to order around the automatons so the tinker doesn't have to. Further, truly skilled tinkers are followed around by a swarm of nanobots. This swarm is capable of rending most any material into its constituent pieces and then rebuilding it into something useful. Many of the dragonscale breastplates that exist in the world today were crafted from a dragon in six seconds flat by a tinker swarm.

To allow for maximum modularity, the tinker has a brand new magic-like system: inventions! Tinkers can learn inventions, place them into blueprints, and then deploy automatons based on those blueprints.

This product features:

  • The Tinker base class
  • Progression tables for the tinker, his automatons, and his alpha
  • 4 feats
  • 21 innovations (talents)
  • 12 greater innovations (greater talents)
  • 121 inventions with full summary invention list
  • Dozens of pregenerated automaton configurations to get the creative juices flowing
  • Bookmarks and limited internal linking
If sales are strong, a number of prestige classes will be made available for the tinker as separate products. These include:
  • The Innovator - By focusing his inventive power on his weapon, the innovator makes a one-of-a-kind killymajig.
  • The Mechromancer - Mixing the power of necromancy with the power of invention, the mechromancer maintains a double dose of mindless thralls. Backed by the ability to raise "dead" automatons, the line between machine and undead blurs in awkward ways.
  • The Steelsinger - So, you have a bunch of robots. Awesome - make a band.

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Product Reviews (3)

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A robot-deploying base class


The Tinker – Master of Modular Mechanical Mayhem is a complex, in-depth, customizable class with excellent potential. It is, however, something that should be attemoted by more experienced players, due to the large amount of options presented. The pdf weighs in at 34 pages, so let's crack it open and see what we have.

The Tinker gets d8 hit dice, ¾ BAB, and 4+Int skill points per level. He also gets a good Reflex save, simple weapon proficiency, and proficiency with light armour and shields. As it turns out, medium and heavy armour interferes with ‘all of the ridiculous pantomiming’ that comes with issuing orders, creating a sort of mundane failure chance.

Now for the crunchy class features, which the Tinker certainly brings in spades. Probably the biggest thing is the robots – or ‘automatons’, Small constructs with poor saves and a set number of hit points. The Tinker can deploy a number of automatons a day equal to his class level, and can have one out at a time at first level, eventually gaining the ability to have up to three automatons deployed at once. These automatons are built from blueprints, of which the Tinker only has a very limited number, which are customized with inventions (more on those later). The process takes an hour, much like a wizard preparing his spells.

Once deployed, the Tinker has to give his automatons directives, which takes a standard action. The automatons, it should be reminded, have only a semblance of intelligence – the directives include warnings that, for example, should the target of an Attack directive die, the automaton will continue to maul the corpse. Automatons can also be directed to use potion injectors, repair kits, and any skills in which they have ranks as directives.

Master’s Presence allows the Tinker’s automatons to use some of his own basic features, such as BAB and base saving throw modifiers, on their own rolls, while Scribe Invention functions much like Scribe Scroll, allowing the Tinker to make copies of his inventions to distribute – handy, as copying from one invention book to another tends to end messily!

At every even-numbered level, the Tinker gains an Innovation, a breakthrough discovery that enhances his automatons. Such innovations include additional, specialized directives (such as Aid or Kamikaze), the ability to include design inventions in his blueprints without having to remove other inventions, heavier construction (granting automatons more hit points), more blueprints, self-defence programming, and, in a truly wonderful bit of flavour text, ‘Overzealous Execution’ – Having given each of your automatons a semblance of a personality, they suddenly begin to exhibit an almost dog-like desire to please you by following your commands with an overzealous excitement. Cute!

Moving on, the Tinker gains ½ his class level as a bonus to Craft checks, and, at 4th level, the Alpha. The Alpha is a Medium construct, with an Intelligence score of 10 and the ability to gain feats. It can also hold more inventions, but the downside is that these inventions can’t be changed except upon gaining a new class level, or completely rebuilding the Alpha (an expensive process, but a necessary one if the Alpha falls).

At 5th, 10th, and 15trh level, the Tinker gains a Greater Innovation. These allow him to, for example, grant extra hit dice to his automatons, decrease the cost of rebuilding his Alpha, change blueprints as a full-round action, and even make ‘gigadroids’ two size categories larger than normal. Probably the coolest ability, however, is the Swarm that the Tinker gets at 11th level – a swarm of nanobots that can duplicate fabricate to turn raw materials into a finished product, and, at higher levels, can process living creatures (as per disintegrate), and reshape solid magical effects. Finally, at 20th level, the Tinker has to choose a line of succession – the options are Constitutional Monarchy, Progenitor, and Gavelkind. As capstones go, I have to say this is a brilliant way of handling it – deciding what happens to your robot buddies after you die!

We then get an overview of the automatons and the Alpha, complete with tables showing level advancement. Automatons gain a semblance of personality, as well as the ability to help, unasked, on Craft checks using the Aid Another action – a nice little mental image. The Alpha gains the ability to issue directives to other automatons, and to deploy automatons if the Tinker is unconscious or dead (though it can’t alter the blueprints).

We then get some favoured class bonuses, a few feats (mostly focusing on Honorary Tinker, which allows a non-Tinker to issue directives to idling automatons or automatons defending them), and then 20 pages of Inventions, first grouped by level and summarized, then explained in full detail. There are too many to describe, so I’ll just say this much: many of them build off each other and you can find some fun combinations. And if you’re like me (easily overwhelmed by options), the author has helpfully included sample configurations at various levels, for various purposes. You can build a sunder-bot, a tripper, an electroshocker, a heavy melee bot, a missile blaster, or even a kamikaze root, built entirely to explode and deal as much damage as possible. Excellent stuff! Other inventions include potion injectors, crossbow turrets, and “robosaddles”, allowing the Tinker to saddle up his ‘bot and ride it into battle!

The entire pdf is presented in crisp black and white, with a simple border and a few pieces of line art. If you’re looking for beautiful illustrations of the Tinker and his buddies, you won’t find them; however, you’ll probably be too busy trying to wrap your head around all the crunch. I’ll be honest, here – when I first read this class, I was overwhelmed. It definitely needs to be opened up and played with before you can begin to appreciate the true potential of the class.

That said, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a wonderful class, sprinkled liberally with humour, ridiculously customizable, and carrying plenty of support from the author. A solid five stars – worth every cent of the asking price!

Robot pilot


Summary: The tinker is a pet class that builds and controls robots similar in strength to summoned creatures and animal companions, but with eidolon-like mechanics. Instead of spells, he gets inventions, used exclusively on his bots.

Main ability: Intelligence.

Gameplay experience: When presenting the class to my players, the one who would later pick it up, defined it: “Isn’t this just like a drone pilot?”. And, indeed, the main robots of the Tinker, the automatons, behave just like drones, needing directives to do anything. The character sits back and just remote controls his way through combat. But since they use up a standard action, directives can become a challenge to issue, especially if the tinker is a melee combatant and has the habit to charge as soon as possible, leaving the rest of the party behind (with mixed results!).

My melee tinker player is struggling to understand that the automaton is actually the better tanker, not himself – but the other shoe is starting to drop, and he’s using more and more his directives, in clever ways. The automaton really begins to pick up at the second level, when he can receive more than one invention. And the kamikaze directive is just a beast, perfect to end encounters.

He still has to level up enough to get an alpha, but I expect a more independent robot to change a lot the dynamic of the tinker in battle. And once the second automaton kicks in, things will get even crazier. Yes, he friggin’ loves his robots.

Ramblings: The directives make the Tinker quite an unique pet class, unlike animal (ab)users who practically control their pets as an extended part of their bodies - the automaton actually requires constant planning, but makes it up to the player for being so versatile and tough/useful. But left alone, they are nothing more than furniture – hardly a monster will ever bother attacking a still robot instead of a meaty player character. You gotta keep them moving!

And I don’t even want to imagine what a Tinker can do if all his automatons and alpha are destroyed, with no deployments left. Maybe I won’t have to, if the party runs into some robot-hating monsters in a future encounter… sounds fun.

Rarting: Five out of five stars.

Suggestions: Maybe a way to use magic items to power up the automatons? Not making them hold wands and cast fireballs or anything like that, but maybe consuming charges or uses per day to do something odd. Not really an idea, barely a concept.

Drawing a blank here, since the tinker is the most expanded class of Interjection Games, with extra books containing archetypes, prestige classes and inventions. And it will be expanded even further, according to its creator. Looking forward to it!

An review


This pdf is 34 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page hyperlinked ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a whopping 31 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what's up with the Tinker-class? He gets d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, light armor and shields, 3/4 BAB-progression, good ref-saves - and that's where the basic components stop. Tinkers get access to so-called inventions. In order to use inventions, a tinker needs an int-score of 10+ the invention level. In contrast to spell-DCs, DCs, when applicable, for inventions, are 10 +1/2 class level + Int-mod.

Tinkers also get 1+Int/3 blueprints and each blueprint and each blueprint contains class level times build pool points, with 5th level and every 5 levels after that offering an additional blueprint beyond those granted by the Int-score formula. The tinker can deploy automatons 1/day/level.

Beyond that, the Tinker gets an invention-book, which is somewhat akin to a wizard-book in how it works regarding copying from it etc. Tinkers start with 3+Int mod inventions at first level and get +2 inventions per level, of any available level - for depending on the level of the tinker, inventions of up to 6th level are available. Scribing these for other tinkers to use also works akin to scribing scrolls. But that's where the similarities with spellcasting ends.

Tinkers also create so-called automatons, at 1st level he creates the first and then at 7th and 13th level additional automatons. These automatons can be directed via (Surprise!) so-called Directives, which can be deciphered via Spellcraft. A total of 8 directives from attacks to support and idle and following is covered and issuing these directives is a standard action, but shutting these automatons down to an idle state is a free action. Automatons get up to 7 HD (at 20th level, though information for further progression is present) and may at this Tinker-level, have +2 saves , Str and Dex 14 (starting off with 10) and 47 HP. Automatons are created much like spells are prepared

At 4th level, the Tinker also gets a special automaton, the Alpha, who may use untrained skills in contrast to regular automatons and which may actually make its own decisions, including AoOs. Alphas may get up to 12 HD (again, with information to transcend the 20th level cap, if need be), up to +4 to saves, Str and Dex of up to 20 (starting at 12) and 90 HP as well as feats on every third HD. At higher levels, the Alpha may issue directives autonomously and at 19th level, even temporarily replace the tinker's abilities in commanding his/her automatons while s/he is incapacitated. Also, in contrast to losing automatons, losing an alpha s actually penalized, costing the Tinker quite an array of GP to rebuild his crowning achievement, should it ever be destroyed.

Abilities? Yes - for when looking just at the basic table, the automatons are WEAK. Which is by design - from the 1st level on, the automatons get the tinker's BAB as an insight bonus to atk, AC and CMD and may use the tinker's BAB to calculate their CMB and additionally may add their creator's saving throws as insight bonuses to their ridiculously low own - but only when within 30 ft. of the Tinker, 60 ft. at 9th level. This is an interesting balancing take indeed, as it makes the automatons and creations much more susceptible to being destroyed when sent on errands and used haphazardly and provides a nice rules-justification for the tinker to actually maintain proximity to his creations and not use them (exclusively) as expendable trap/ambush-bait.

Of course, bonuses to crafting, as were to be expected, are also part of a tinker's array, as is a rather cool idea - at 11th level, the tinker essentially gets a swarm of nanite-style constructs that can act as a mage hand and comes with 3 charges that allow the swarm to use fabricate once per charge. Starting at 14th level, tinkers may use disintegration via their swarm on living targets, fabricating duplicates of their dissolved bodies and later even break down walls of force and similar magical effects.

Additionally, at 2nd level and every 4 levels after that, the tinker learns an innovation and at 5th, 10th and 15th a greater innovation. Unless I have miscounted, tinkers may select from a total of 21 innovations to add to their automatons - and they are interesting indeed: For example, you may opt to grant your Alpha +2 to Str and Dex and +1 HD at the cost of one less regular automaton deployed at any given time, enhance the range in which your Alpha benefits from your Master's aura, add a charge to your swarm's charge pool etc. or increase the durability of your constructs, available blueprints or an addition invention with a limited build pool for your Alpha - permanently - unless you take a second innovation, that is. There are also innovations here that allow you to make your automatons capable of aiding others and one to make your automatons go kamikaze in a limited radius. Among the Greater Innovations, we get the options to rebuild your Alpha from scratch, enhance the physical prowess of your constructs and swap out deployed automatons 3/day with other blueprints you may have prepared. I have already mentioned the option to create massive, over-sized automatons or deploy your swarm not as a spell-like non-magical ability, but as a type of swarm-automaton. It should also be noted, that a certain innovation, designer, is required to get access to certain inventions, so you might want to fracture that into your contemplations.

The class comes with favored class options for the core-races as well as 4 new feats, one of which nets you an extra innovations. One lets you give directives as if a tinker/command unsupervised other automatons, retaliate for the destruction of your automatons or (and that one is AWESOME), share your teamwork feat as a swift action with your automatons.

The pdf also features inventions - vast, vast arrays of inventions. Inventions span 6 levels and the maximum available level of invention is based on tinker-level. Beyond this straight balancing, the respective inventions also have build pool point-costs ranging from 1 to 4, acting as a second means of balancing the respective inventions for the respective automaton-builds your tinker may devise. They come with a nice, concise list that provides you an overview and spans multiple pages (yes, that many inventions!) as well as prerequisites, when applicable.

And oh boy - they are rather versatile: From allowing your automatons to make the total defense action or repair oneself, reload ranged weapons etc. Supplies etc. need to be replenished and even riding the automaton via saddles becomes possible, as is the option to add catapults to hurl flasks. Have an alchemist-buddy? Well, your automaton can act as a minelayer, apply poisons, inject multiple potions at once or create a static shield of electricity that surrounds the automaton - which is btw. massively upgradeable. Have I mentioned the glorious one that lets the invention of a high-level pugilist move up to its speed and trip and sunder everything in its path 1/day, combinable with other inventions for even more pain and insult to injury?

The pdf also provides us a short FAQ as well as some sample invention-progressions.

As I'm seeing myself often complaining about the lack of support for 3pp-classes, sometimes in their very own books, this massive array of customization options is a joy to behold and makes for some massive options.

Have I mentioned the three exceedingly cool capstone abilities?


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches or typos while reading this pdf. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' elegant 2-column b/w-standard and sports some nice, thematically fitting b/w-artworks. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience, though not with nested bookmarks.

These are good days to review classes, it seems. I'm quite impressed with this tinker - author Bradley Crouch has created a delightfully complex class with multiple checks and balances that does some actually UNIQUE things - it's not just an alternate summoner or akin to the machinesmith - it gloriously does something different and shows that is a labor of love, oozing excellent ideas and allowing a staggering array of customization options for your perusal.

One minor gripe I have would be that inventions that net proficiencies are supposed to net the respective items as well - something I consider slightly problematic in games where the money is tight - requiring the tinker to provide at least one base weapon (e.g. one bastard sword that can be used again if the automaton is destroyed) to be integrated into an automaton might be more prudent for certain groups, though I can see that being best house-ruled.

Let's do the run-though, shall we? All in all, we get a VERY complex class with options galore, something to tinker with and create, a class that does not just copy existing builds but dares to do things differently. It's funny, really - after Purple Duck Games' Covenant Magic, I did not expect to soon give ANY class a good verdict - the offering just upped the ante that far. But this tinker here actually manages to climb to the highest echelons with a combination of great fluff, nice humor and most of all: Solid crunch galore. Reviewing it was a nightmare, though - it's been ages since I had to do this much math to check for average damage etc. - mind you, the implementation when playing/building works much easier, though. While the first iteration suffered from some oversights, these have by now been mostly rectified and thus I feel justified in rating this 5 stars + seal of approval - well worth your money and definitely an advanced class that feels very unique and exciting.

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