My take at the shifter:
Same BAB, Saves, HD and Skills.
1st level: Alternate form (one at will form from beast shape I or alter self, once chosen cannot be changed); Natural attack (chose from claws, gore, tail slap or bite), wild empathy.
All natural weapons start at 1d6, all increases follow monk table.
It's really bad. The archetypes don't improve much, but some have great concepts, it's really a waste.
You are right, playtest would have solved all of its problems with ease. My guess is that paizo is displacing resources to starfinder, thus not being able to go through the right process with books like this one.
The brawler gets something: there are a few style feats (some reprints, however), and 5 archetypes - Feral Striker (gets shifter aspects in place of flexibility - bad trade); Living Avalanche (focus on bull rush and overrun); Turfer (a terrain focused one); Venom Fist (trades damage, knockout and close weapon mastery for a poison that deals some weak damage and debilitating conditions); Verdant Grapler (summons vines to bind and damage foes he grappled).
The vine leshy is the race to play if you are a baby groot fan. They are ok, but plant races lost pretty much all of their immunities, which IMO makes no sense, and in my group is unasked for.
The wood element seems playable, the positive energy blast is kind of problematic, but you don't have to take it.
The shifter is really disappointing. What one would expect of the shifter:
I would give it a minor animal form at 1st level (kitsunes get it);
Just my opinion on the class.
I found the shifter very weak as a combatant class. It lacks an increased precision mechanic (like weapon training, rage, favored enemy, etc...) the damage from the claws starts too low to mean anything (1d4, which you can get for free with some races), the only meaningful defensive feature is much like the monk AC (nothing regarding saves, immunities, resistances, DR, SR...). Also the attribute bonus from aspects is enhancement, which won't stack with most spells and magic items.
Solarians have a great concept, but frustrating execution. With all the feedback, I believe some issues will be addressed in errata or future material. My 2 cents on what is lacking:
1) Defense: the solarian could be an agile melee fighter, with some sort of preemptive defense or something that would make it harder to hit than normal comabatants, after all, their spot should be in the middle of the combat with sword in hand. Some mechanic to improve saves or ways to avoid conditions would fit the philosopher theme. Parry could be there too.
2) Out of combat utility: The solarian is forced to have low skill points and modifyers due to it's need to invest in Str, Dex, Con and Cha. There is this artificial limitation for the class that certain abilities can only be used in combat, and even those are not very useful. Any class is better of taking a feat to emulate some cantrips and low level spells from tecnomancer or mystic. Powers that give bonus to skills, minor powers similar to cantrips, and just flavor abilities (metabolic control, seeing with eyes closed, etc...) would fit just fine.
3) Offense: I would get rid of the crystals for damage entirely. If you are going to give a weapon to a class give it complete. The crystals could be just for special effects (critical or changing damage type) as customization, not need. Also, if the theme is a sword made of impressive energy, make it at least deal the same damage of a longsword (1d8) 1d6 for the main flashy thing of the class is quite disheartening.
The solarian seems to, in concept, fill a niche similar to a mix of paladin and kineticist. Those classes have abilities that make them great at something, what is the solarian great at? From what I've seen, nothing. It's a sub-par striker, tank and face, with no special advantage against any type of enemy. The solar weapon does (whitout crystals) basically the same as improved unarmed strike. The class pays heavily for it's "at will" powers, but the revelations that are worth something are limited to 1 per rest, or once every 3 rounds (effectively, once per combat). What makes so many people frustrated is that the class has a great concept that is reflected by the rules.
I don't think the solarian has to be as great as the soldier in combat, but hast to be the greatest in something. I would start with:
I don't think that the class has an objective math problem. The promblem is: people were exited with the concept and the mechanics failed to impress.
It seems to me that the solarian has the problem of not being the best at anything. Most classes have some impressive power at least in limited circunstances.
-The Magical Child casts like the Unchained Summoner.
-The Warlock archetype has a d6 elemental blast and some element based talents. It's the closest thing.
-The book is filled with stuff regarding skills, mostly social ones.
I believe that the ability to trade health for power is very interesting. However, all kineticists should have a free reserve that grows as they level up. Sacrificing HP should be an option for desperate times, not a thing needed to function normally.
In my group there is a player playing an aether kineticist currently, and we tested the class a lot while in development. We always found the need to take burn depressing, and not fun at all. The archetypes are terrible, no one wants to play one (we had high hopes for the kinetic fist).
Besides that, we love the class. With a few house rules, it's really amazing.
The concept of object is very loose in the system. What deals the real damage is the enveloping aether anyway (the type/weight of the object does not change the damage). In my group, we allow aether kinetic blast to be used with anything, a single hair or just a mass of air. There is always something to be thrown.
That seems great!
I like the feats but they raise a question for me: Is there any value to making archetypes for Kineticist? Your feats mimic what other classes would do with an archetype, most prominently i am thinking about the mindblade dual manifest ability and all of the dragon bloodlines/disciples when i look over your list. The level limits of Extra Wild Talent means adding these as actual talents would hurt and the class is fairly abundant in open feat slots. So are feats the best way to add to the class in the future?
I think both are still needed for the class. The archetypes that came with Occult Adventures were found very unsatisfying by my group. They wanted to produce various concepts that would fit the class but needed options that did not exist. We thought about creating archetypes, but it seems that the class has too little to give up. Most of the current archetypes remove something very important or fun from the class.
At the end, we reached the conclusion that feats were the way to go. The kineticist has the worse "extra feature" feat in the game since it provides a talent 2 levels lower, and requires 6th level before it can be selected.
That said, I think there are ways to produce great archetypes for the kineticist, by modifying (not removing) certain abilities.
The idea is to keep them using aggressive SLAs to fight, buying some extra rounds to finish the combat.
Using an immediate action seems more balanced indeed. I think adding the overflow bonus to the roll would make sense.
A genie line of feats would make sense, as with other elemental aligned creatures.
That's the idea.
Spells with "plant" and "negative energy" on their names or description would seem to be valid choices (since the lack of descriptors).
I might be wrong, but I think the the regular kinetic blade can only be wielded as light or one handed (Edit: oops. I seems it can, have to rethink that feat). The idea for the feat is to allow 1+1/2 Con bonus and two handed interaction with power attack.
The kineticist is a great class, but it's unique mechanics still have a low number of feats to support it. Here are some suggestions in line of what I would hope for future products or use in home games. Any ideas?
Kinetic Fist Savant
Double Kinetic Blade
Dragon Blood Kineticist
Dragon Scale Kineticist
Dragon Breath Kineticist
Dragon Awakened Kineticist
After reading the Bestiary 5, this seemed like a good idea: an archetype for the summoner that's based around the creation of a tulpa (tulpas are creatures produced from the imagination of powerful minds, they can have any shape/alignment, and are sustained by belief).
Tulpa Master(summoner archetype)
Eidolon(su): The Tulpa Master's eidolon receives the tulpa template (B5, p.254), but the eidolon can only use innate tulpa spell-like abilities of a level equal or lower that the summoner's class level.
Spellcasting: The Tulpa Master uses the mesmerist spell list and is a psychic caster.
Channel belief(su): The Tulpa Master can heal himself or his eidolon as a swift action. This works as the spell Cure Light Wounds. At 3rd level this works as Cure Moderate Wounds, at 5th level as Cure Serious Wounds, at 7th level as Cure Critical Wounds, at 9th level as breath of Life, and at 11th level as heal. This ability can be used 3+ charisma modifier times/day. This ability replaces summon monster.
Share belief(su): By spending 10 minutes in attunement with a creature or group of creatures up to 1+summoner's charisma modifier, the Tupla Master can allow the creatures to heal the eidolon whith the tulpa ability sustained by thought(su). Those individuals can also be affected by the Channel Belief ability as if they were the eidolon.
As an alternative to the Synthesist, I would do the following:
Tulpa Ascendant:(summoner archetype)
Created Self Image(su): The Tulpa Ascendant receives the tulpa template (B5, p.254), but he can only use innate tulpa spell-like abilities of a level equal or lower that the summoner's class level. He cannot use the Mental Form (Su) ability. He is considered to be his own creator, and receives all the benefits an eidolon would receive from his levels, including evolutions, natural armor, str/dex bonus and abilities, but not HD, Bab, save, skills and feats. The Tulpa Ascenant is affected by effects that target outsiders and his original type. This replaces Eidolon.
Spellcasting: The Tulpa Ascendant uses the mesmerist spell list and is a psychic caster.
Channel belief(su): The Tulpa Ascendant can heal himself as a swift action. This works as the spell Cure Light Wounds. At 3rd level this works as Cure Moderate Wounds, at 5th level as Cure Serious Wounds, at 7th level as Cure Critical Wounds, at 9th level as breath of Life, and at 11th level as heal. This ability can be used 3+ charisma modifier times/day. This ability replaces summon monster.
Share belief(su): By spending 10 minutes in attunement with a creature or group of creatures up to 1+summoner's charisma modifier, the Tupla Ascendant can allow the creatures to heal himself whith the tulpa ability sustained by thought(su). Those individuals can also be affected by the Channel Belief ability as if they were himself.
Shielded Image(su)At 4th level, whenever the Tulpa Master is within 30ft. from a creature under effect of shared belief, he gains a +2 shield bonus to his Armor Class and a +2 circumstance bonus on his saving throws. These bonus increase to +4, and the radius to 60ft. at 12th level. This ability replaces shield ally, greater shield ally and life link.
Mind's Reach(su): At the 13th level, the Tulpa Ascendant may add teleport and planar shift to his spells known list and class list. This ability replaces maker’s call and transposition.
Memory of Life(su): At 16th level, as long as at least one creature that was subject to share belief is still alive, the Tulpa Ascendant can return to life once per day as if subjected to a True Resurrection spell.
I have been thinking on something: Telekineticists can throw objects. What qualifies as on object?
-Can he throw a mass of air or water? both are physical, have weight, mass, and can cause damage on impact. What about sand, pebbles, spit, a single hair, etc...
-Can he prepare an action to throw back the blast of another kineticist as it's fired (assuming it's a physical one)? The blast itself is unattended just after it's fired.
As far as I see, the aether kineticist uses the object only as medium to deliver the force of his blast, and the object itself does not matter, much like using a metal rod to deliver an electrical discharge. The description of the blast makes no difference between throwing a ball o cotton or a spiked metal sphere. Thoughts?
I suggest that just "not working" would be changed to working within reason. For the purpose of feats, the base dice in the basts could be the first one, so a vital strike would deal just +1d6 damage.
I don't think we should make the kineticist focused on ranged and leaving melee as a second option. The focus of the class should not be ranged/melee, it should be using the elements to fight in whatever form the player decide. It is already too restrictive, as many noticed, to fight with only the options those elements provide.
The damage provided by melee should be higher for the reasons already said.
Most classes at high levels can produce damage of the same scale(there are several topics on DPR), when using the right feats/spells.
I've been wondering if there will be some high level options to manipulate elements. Deeds a focused kineticist can achieve through supreme mastery of his/her element.
Aether: Disintegrate matter/ Fabricate (like the spells), move really massive objects (buildings, ships, etc...)
Air: Creating Tornadoes, Vacuum, calling lightning.
Earth: Earthquakes, lava eruptions, gravity manipulation.
Fire: Melting stuff, heating a whole area, igniting/ extinguishing huge amounts of fire.
Water: Tsunamis, Blood bending, something like horrid wilting.
Burn only makes unconsciousness closer for the kineticist, not death. What if there was an option to keep fighting while unconscious? Something like being possessed by an elemental spirit that fights off his enemies until the threat is gone. This could unlock some near death abilities, and produce a great "elemental rage" theme.
Those changes will surely make the class much more fun to play. I would, still, take a look at the feat issue. Most combat oriented classes can gain bonus feats, and the kineticist is certainly combat oriented. I realize that with many features filling the levels of the class, it becomes somewhat difficult to place bonus feats.
As the playtest reaches it's end, I will leave my final thoughts on the kineticist:
The kineticist is a great idea, a class that fill a long awaited niche. The resemblance to many iconic characters in many references, may turn the actual exercise of playing the class a bit unsatisfying, as it does not have the flexibility to produce certain themes. The melee weapon wielding kineticist, or the brawler, or the mystic and several themes that permeate the imaginary surrounding the idea of telekinesis are at least clunky when not impossible. The class lacks options: It is possible to build a cleric in almost anyway: melee, unarmed, ranged, healer, blaster, tanker, skill monkey, all effective and fun. The same has yet to be made about the kineticist.
I am aware that it's a lot of work, and that balancing a class without the right amount of thought can have unforeseen consequences, but for all I have seen in my games my opinion is this: The kineticist has lots of room for improvements, as it lags behind every other class in power. This room should be used to give it more options and mastery over its powers, reaching reality altering peaks on it's own field. Alternative combat methods will not unbalance the class as it would use only one at a time. Do not be afraid to increase power.
How about a "Improved Defenses" option?
While I see Mark's idea of a scaling and burn-refiling Aether defense as a good improvement, I think it could enhanced with a wild talent later.
What if the kineticist could refill his temporary HP with a standard (or maybe move) action? At higher levels it would not overpower anyone and could provide the flavor of the sustained field.
Other elements could have increased options as well. Water could have an entangling shield, earth could gain natural armor, fire could gain resistances/immunities...
One of the best ways to keep track of fantasy physics is to look into other well established fiction.
In Star Wars, Telekinesis could be used to move something that weighted several tons slowly. Lighter objects could be used to attack or for dexterous movements.
In Carrie, Telekinesis could move metal structures or even stop a car from moving. However attacks were made with lighter objects.
Invisible woman, Jean Grey, and other comic book characters follow the same pattern.
Based on these settings, it's reasonable to assume that a Telekineticist should be able to lift around 3-4 ton (6k - 8k pounds) at mid levels (7th -11th). This force should not be restricted to just picking up, but to pushing and pulling in greater scales through effort (Starkiller pushing slowly a cruiser).
Regarding elements, the scale should go one step higher, as a simple cubic meter of water (about a 3 feet sided cube) weights a ton (~2k pounds). The volume limit as it is now for the hydrokineticist is well rounded with other fiction, and the huge volume moved cannot be used to attack directly. I think, however, that a fatigue mechanic could be used to prevent maximum carrying from being used all the time. Going there should be a poorly coordinated feat that requires a great deal of concentration and energy. While in most fictions you can see telekinesis moving very heavy objects, it cannot be done indefinitely without pause or rest.
I would keep water in this scale, and increase the other elements, making a richer mechanic that contemplates fatigue, capacity/maneuverability, effort, effective strength and other issues that will surely appear at gameplay.
What if fire defense:
1: Infused the kineticists body with elemental might, providing a +2 bonus on saves against mind-affecting, poison and disease effects? The bonus could scale up to +8 at 20th and be increased by 50% with burn. Each +2 could come with a 5 point resistance to fire.
2: Gave the kineticist an energy boost, providing a +2 bonus on initiative and +1 dodge to ac? The bonus could scale to +8/+4 at 20th and be increased by up to 50% with burn.
3: Made him resistant to burn, allowing him to have 1 temporary burn point that regenerates every minute? The point could be spent without suffering damage and the amount of free points would scale up to 4 at 20th.
4: Cauterized his own wounds, turning 1 point of lethal damage from each attack into non-lethal? The damage converted would increase up to 10 or 20 at 20th level and could be increased by 50% with burn.
5: Inflamed his will, providing his Constitution bonus as a morale bonus to will saves?
What if Aether defense:
1: Regenerated every round, or more by spending actions? Still not as good as earth (as it can be depleted) but more useful.
2: Acted as a deflection bonus to ac against non-damaging attacks? It makes no sense that a force field would not protect against those.
3: Provided blind-sight against melee attacks, as the force filed detects approach?
4: Created a field of orbiting objects, giving cover?
5: Could be exploded, ejecting adjacent enemies in a repulsion blast?
6: Gave static bonuses to STR and DEX as the kinetic field helps the movements of the body? Tactile telekinesis...
Those are hp that cannot be healed, the number is minimum and at higher levels being able to be healed is a key to survival. At level 1 what we have:
I see many people saying that the aether defense is good for its regenerative HP. The ability to regenerate 1 hp/ minute is close to nothing from mid to high levels, and the amount received at low levels is not meaningful. It has been said that it does not have the intent prevent non-damaging touch attacks. Right now, it's not nearly close to the other defenses in power. I support the idea of a temporary hp pool that regenerates automatically every round, and that can be regenerated as an immediate action through burn.
Great list, pretty much sums it all. There is also the problem with Damage reduction and aether defense.
Through the playtest, I tested and thought about improving the class. Here is may take at it:
Weapon and Armor Proficiency A kineticist is proficient with all simple weapons, light armor, and medium armor, but not with shields.
Elemental Focus (Su):
At 1st level, a kineticist chooses tofocus primarily in air (aerokinesis), earth (terrakinesis), fire (pyrokinesis), water (hydrokinesis), or aether (telekinesis). Her choice of element determines how she accesses the raw power of the Ethereal Plane, and it grants her access to wild talents and additional class skills. The kineticist can remotely manipulate her chosen element within her blast's reach with an effective strength equal to her constitution score. She can automatically move up to one 5 feet cube for every 2 kineticist's levels (minimum 1), anything beyond that requires a constitution check. She can shape crude non-magical objects from this element within the normal properties of the material. A craft skill check may be required for complex objects. Also, the kineticist may use any cantrip or orison with his element's name on it's description. (Aether may use prestidigitation, open/close and mage hand).
Kinetic Blast (Sp):
Wild Talent (Sp):
A kineticit gains a wild talent at 1st level and another at every two levels afterward (10 at 19th level.). (all utility talents, separated from blasting)
The same, however a kineticist that has burn damage may choose to become exhausted instead of unconscious from 0 or negative HP.
Blasting Prowess (Sp):
A kineticit gains a blasting prowess at 2nd level and another at every two levels afterward (10 at 20th level). (all blast talents, separated from utility)
Element Tradition (Ex):
A kineticist develops her powers through understanding and training in disciplines of those who experienced the gift before.
Unarmed: The kineticist receives Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat, and may add his constitution bonus to AC as long as he is unarmored and not wielding a shield. The damage from his unarmed strikes increase as a monk of 1/2 his level (min. 1). At 6th, 12th and 18th level he may select a style or monk bonus feat.
Swordsman: The kineticist gains proficiency with a light or one handed melee martial weapon. He receives weapon focus with that weapon at 1st level, and can select bonus combat feats at 6h, 12th and 18th levels. His kineticist levels count as fighter levels for the purpose of selecting Weapon Specialization, Greater Weapon Focus and Greater Weapon Specialization for his chosen weapon. If he selects the kinetic blade talent, those feats apply to blade created.
Blaster: The kineticist gains the Precise Shot feat, and may select the following feats for his Wild Blast even without fulfilling the prerequisites: Focused Shot, from 6th level: Snap Shot, from 9th level: Improved Snap Shot. He receives bonus feats at 6th, 12th and 18th level from the following list:
The benefits of the kineticist's chosen style feats apply only when he wears light, medium, or no armor. He loses all benefits of his combat style feats when wearing heavy armor. Once a kineticist selects a combat style, it cannot be changed.
Feel the Burn (Ex):
At 3rd level, a kineticist’s body surges with energy from her chosen element when she accepts burn, causing her to glow with a nimbus of fire, weep water from her pores, take on an earthen skin tone, or experience some other thematic effect. In addition, she receives a bonus on all attack and damage rolls with her kinetic blast equal to double the number of points of burn she is currently suffering, to a maximum of +2 for every 3 kineticist levels, this bonus counts as weapon enhancement for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. Her flesh also becomes infused with elemental energy receiving DR 1/- and resistance 5 to her element(s) (Aether uses sonic) for every 3 kineticist levels.
At 8th level the kineticist's body becomes infused with her element providing bonus equal to those received by Elemental Body I. The kineticist doesn't need to assume the form or change shape to obtain the bonus. An Aether kineticist may simulate any element form, but will not gain any subtype, element immunity, burn, vortex, water breathing, wirlwind, element resistance or movement mode. At 12th level the bonus are equal to Elemental Body II, at 16th, Elemental Body III. and at 20th, elemental Body IV
All the rest is kept the same. (although I would alter/increase several talents and some defenses).
Certainly Force Ward could have a more interesting effect in combat it regenerated every round.
I noticed this: "If an attack fails to deal more damage than the remaining hit points in your force ward, it still reduces those temporary hit points but otherwise counts as a miss for the purpose of abilities that trigger on a hit or a miss."