The mesmerist creeps into the minds of his enemies, bending their wills. Our initial concept for the mesmerist was a sort of anti-bard. The class would get a similar blend of spellcasting with moderate combat ability, but instead of buffing allies, it would penalize enemies and make them softer targets. Our mesmerist achieves this not only through a robust selection of debuff spells, but also through his intense stare. He can focus on a creature within 30 feet as a swift action, imposing a penalty on the target's Will saves. Bold stare options, which the mesmerist gains starting at 3rd level, allow him to apply that penalty to other types of rolls or weaken the subject of his stare in other ways. The best part? He can mentally remove the memory of his stare from the target's mind afterward, so they forget he was manipulating them all along.
Through the Occult Adventures playtest process, we saw that the mesmerist needed a leg up, particularly when it came to the combat side of things, so we added the painful stare ability. This comes in at level 1 and causes subjects of the mesmerist's stare to take more damage from attacks. We also increased the Will save penalty the stare gives (from -1 to -2) and made it increase automatically to -3 at 8th level. The stare lost the ability to target multiple creatures so that we could make the debuffs stronger.
The other hallmark ability of the mesmerist is his mesmerist tricks, abilities similar to contingencies that he can set up and trigger when a condition is met. By planning ahead and anticipating situations intelligently, the mesmerist can surprise his foes with nasty magic. The biggest change here was the duration. Instead of lasting for 1 minute per mesmerist level, a trick stays set up until the next time the mesmerist prepares his spells (or until it's triggered). The mesmerist also picked up a bunch of new tricks, like letting the subject turn into a bird and flee from an attack or reduce the damage from an attack and simultaneously create a shadow illusion in the attacker's form, attacking someone else.
More so than any other class, the mesmerist is built around casting spells that manipulate minds. This kind of class can be tricky to build, largely due to the number of creatures in the game that are immune to mind-affecting effects and the predominance of mental spells that get negated by a Will save. That led us down two avenues. The first is the bold stare option called psychic inception, which gives you a chance to affect such creatures. The second came in the form of new mind-affecting spells that do have a partial effect if the target saves.
Occult Adventures also includes four mesmerist archetypes. The cult master lets you control groups of cultists devoted to you, gaining special tricks and even being reborn in a follower's body. The spirit walker gains control over undead and adds undead-themed spells to his spell list. The toxitician uses injuections instead of a mesmerist stare, causing pain and delivering severe penalties. Finally, the vexing daredevil (pictured here) focuses on the combat side of the mesmerist class, gaining additional weapon prodiciency, bonus feats for feinting, and dazzling feint abilities she can use against creatures she fools with a feint.
May the mesmerist's eyes never meet yours!