Hey everyone! Michael Sayre here, ready to discuss the Pathfinder Guns & Gears playtest that just wrapped up! We’ve had some time to go over the survey results and contextualize all of the amazing posts, videos, and playtest reports you all shared during the course of the playtest. Now that we’ve had a chance to go over that data ourselves and make some decisions, we’re here to talk to you a bit about the direction we’d like to take. Keep in mind, while we’re going to talk about some broad points here, there are likely to be dozens of little changes throughout both classes—covering everything from adding more feats and class options to minor tweaks in the way existing abilities or options function. Just because we don’t mention something here doesn’t mean it won’t get some kind of love and attention during development. We’re just hitting the highlight reel! Also, feel free to stick around to the end of the blog to check out a preview of one of the cool new options that’ll be included in the final release of Guns & Gears!
Not surprisingly, a lot of the feedback on the gunslinger focused on the execution of firearms and the Reload mechanic. We also collected some really remarkable data related to the gunslinger ways, so I want to be sure to spend some time exploring what that data could mean for us going forward. Finally, I’m going to talk a bit about the types of gear that weren’t present in the playtest, but that should have a significant impact thanks to inclusion in the final release.
Firearms: Firearms remain a divisive subject when it comes to fantasy roleplaying games, and this particular iteration was no exception, though we did learn some interesting information. The first and most relevant data point suggests that the version of guns we have in the playtest are far and away the most popular choice for how people want to see firearms executed in this edition, so we’re going to stick pretty close to that model. That being said, there are opportunities for improvement here.
The first thing I’ll note is that the final version of Guns & Gears is going to have more than double the number of firearms than the playtest had. This is going to include things like one-handed scatter weapons and guns that fire big, relatively slow-moving rounds that have a higher base damage die but no fatal property. We also plan to incorporate quite a few other variations on the theme that you’ll have to wait to see more of in the final book!
We also embraced a conservative approach to firearm design going into this playtest, keeping the ranges very tight to represent the relative inaccuracy of these kinds of smooth bore weapons and using primarily preexisting weapon traits that people already know how to use. As we go through and develop all of the firearms, we’ll consider opportunities to explore these options: such as extending the range of a few different weapons, potentially introducing new traits that do a better job of telling the story of a firearm, and addressing small oversights in the playtest options. For example, the penalty and action cost for unsteady probably shouldn’t apply to a prone character, so adding that clarification should enhance the usability of unsteady weapons while also adding interesting new dynamics to feats like Hit the Dirt!
Reload: Reload times inspired a lot of constructive debate during the playtest. Many people found that they were an important part of the story of firearms and greatly preferred the tone and era of weapons we used in the playtest, feeling that they were a more natural fit for a fantasy world than things like revolvers and cartridge-loaded rifles. Others felt like the action cost of reloading was a real stumbling block that got in the way a player making the character they wanted. Running Reload was an incredibly popular feat choice for really helping people maximize the value of that action. Consequently, we’re looking at granting each of the gunslinger ways their own unique Reload action. For example, gunslingers who choose the way of the sniper could receive a built-in action to Reload and Hide or Take Cover. We’ll also likely use some of the additional feats that will appear in the final version of the class to expand your options for more robust Reload activities even more, giving gunslingers a highly efficient action economy with lots of ways to interact with the battlefield.
Gunslinger Ways: So, normally in any playtest for a class that has multiple “subpath” options, there’s a clear first-place choice that selected significantly more often by players. That was not the case with the gunslinger ways. While there were small variations between the number of people choosing a given way, they were each so close to a third of the total respondents that it was clear that each of these concepts has just as much draw and appeal as the others. As a result, it’s pretty likely that each of these ways will be present in the final release, though with some changes informed by the experiences from this playtest. A lot of the feedback we received also suggested some possibilities for new ways that weren’t featured in the playtest, so we’ll be looking into those as well. Expect these concepts to stick around but their execution to evolve in multiple ways (pun intended) going forward.
Gear: This is one area where I wish we’d just had a little more time before the playtest to show you what we’ve got lined up, as I think that would have had a really positive impact on some playtesters’ experiences. That said, I think this is as good a place to give you a sneak peek at what’s ahead as any. First, let me just say this. Yes, we plan to include bayonets in the final release.
More than that, we’re looking at an entire section of the book that explores black powder and the things you can do with it (like leaving a trail of powder you can light on fire to blow up a powder keg) and the things you can’t (like igniting it underwater). We are going to include cool options and accessories you can use to customize your gun, though, and that’ll feature options for using your preferred weapon in just about any environment, including underwater. We’re looking at all kinds of choices for accessories, from scopes to holsters, bandoliers to weaponized bipod/tripods, and just about anything else you can think of to customize your gunslinger. There’s always going to be more cool ideas for a product than you can fit into the page count, but we’ll continue to provide players as much variety and as many unique avenues for their character builds as we can.
And that’s about all I’ve got for you at the moment. I’ll pass this over to Mark so he can talk about the inventor!
Guns & Gears Playtest Analysis
Monday, February 22, 2021
Hi everyone! Mark Seifter here for a post-playtest report for the inventor class. I want to start off by thanking you all so much for your feedback, and especially for the way you've given it to us. At the start of the playtest, I mentioned that since we had two playtests so close to each other, we needed the community's help to avoid too many circular arguments and focus on new data and analyses on various topics. And boy did you deliver! So thank you for giving us great data, ideas, and feedback. This helps make it easy for us to follow along and incorporate your ideas. In terms of the ratio of insights to arguments, this playtest has one of the best I've ever seen, and that starts with you.
Overall people really liked the inventor, almost as much as the swashbuckler with a big gap before the summoner, gunslinger, and a few others that are clustered below. But that doesn't mean that there aren't things about the class that need to change. Brigh knows, I even announced in the “Welcome to the Inventor” thread that unstable had to change after we accidentally didn't use the version asked about in the survey! Thank you for bearing with me on this journey and also at looking past the roughness with unstable to really dig deep on every other aspect of the class, which needed a close eye too.
Unstable: The unstable trait will change. My goal is to make the trait present a gamble that weighs risk versus reward. Unlike the playtest version, you'll always get to perform the action when you take the risk. The gamble will be whether something goes wrong, causing something bad to happen in addition to the action succeeding. I have one very exciting idea for this that I can't share yet until I'm sure it works. In the meantime, if you want to keep playing your inventor in your home game, you can just roll the flat check after you use the unstable ability (including the first time) to see if you can use it again. I'm hoping the final version will be more exciting than that, but that should work okay for now.
Gadgets: We will be adding a fun gadgets feat path for the inventor to make special gadgets each day! It won't be mandatory, as most playtesters expressed that they didn’t want it to be. It will be nice to include it as an option so a player can opt in to the complexity that comes with having to read through a big gadget section.
Innovations: Playtesters asked for more options for modifications and feats for innovations, and the final version will add more of them. All of you inventor playtesters really captured the weird science vibe and had some great ideas, and I took careful and extensive notes. For example, giving the construct companion with a ranged attack a "turret mode" option sounds like a lot of fun, and playtesters had some great ideas for ways to increase the construct's abilities at the expense of the inventor's actions. This helps lend support the playstyle of inventors who want to hang back and let the construct do the work. In that vein, I'm strongly considering giving the construct innovation inventor the baked in ability to spend two actions to give the construct three. This will allow the construct to move and Explode, for example, and helps avoid friendly fire.
Overdrive: While the inventor's special powers are dispersed throughout several abilities, playtesters were interested in consolidating a little more of them into Overdrive, and that's something I'm definitely looking into. If that occurs, expect to see Overdrive scale a bit more than it does now, especially on a success. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do so just enough to make a big difference.
These are just a few of the ways in which I'm tinkering and tweaking my invention thanks to your notes and efforts. In the end, expect the class to look extremely similar to the way it does right now, except with several little improvements in almost every area that will really add up in the long run.
Thanks for reading! For sticking to the end, we’re throwing in an advance treat from the book, an intelligent weapon! The final version is very likely to be one of the new types of gun in the book, but this version for the blog uses the basic pistol so you can throw it into your game right away and have it start mouthing off at enemies.
Sunken Pistol — Item 8
Rare, CN, Arcane, Enchantment, Intelligent
Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk 1 Perception +12; precise vision 30 feet, imprecise hearing 30 feet Communication speech (Common) Skills Intimidation +19, Navigation Lore +14, Sailing Lore +14 Int +0, Wis +2, Cha +4 Will +16
A sunken pistol is imbued with the unfulfilled desires and insatiable greed of its previous wielder, a notorious pirate drowned at sea. Once a beautiful and artistically wrought weapon, a sunken pistol is coated in a fine layer of dried salt and is encrusted with barnacles. Each shot fired from this +1 striking flintlock pistol is coated in a layer of salty ectoplasm, and has the effects of a ghost touch rune. You can shoot the sunken pistol underwater, even when using black powder ammunition.
A sunken pistol urges you to amass a horde of treasure even a dragon would be proud of. The methods used to acquire these riches matter not to the greedy pirate pistol, so long as you amass and hoard excessive wealth. Above all else, a sunken pistol desires the return of its own treasure, which might rest in the wreck of its sunken ship’s hold or be hidden on a dangerous island.
In pursuit of treasure, a sunken pistol offers nautical and navigation advice to you, though it refuses such aid during less lucrative ventures. If you prove a profitable partner, the sunken pistol aids you in combat by Demoralizing your opponents (see the first Activation below). If you prove charitable or unwilling to retrieve its treasure, the sunken pistol turns its ire on you, Demoralizing you during combat until you relent. If you repeatedly refuse the sunken pistol, it would be wise to not accept water breathing from it, as it might attempt to drown you to allow a more suitable wielder to acquire it from your corpse. The sunken pistol can use the following activations.
Activate [one-action] command; Frequency once per minute; Effect The sunken pistol curses and insults a creature it can see, attempting an Intimidation check to Demoralize that creature.
Activate [three-actions] command; Frequency once per day; Effect The sunken pistol casts water breathing on you as a 3rd-level arcane spell. The sunken pistol can Dismiss this spell, so be sure to keep the gun happy if you’re relying on its good graces to breathe!