Shema Sarwar

Lauren Tacita's page

106 posts. Alias of QuidEst.

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Since backgrounds are smaller in scope than themes, I figured I'd start up a thread for which theme abilities folks would like to see make a return appearance in SF2, whether as skill feats, archetype abilities, or something else.

For my own part, there are two that stick out in my mind. While there are plenty more themes I liked, I'm talking about the theme abilities that are interesting enough to take a theme for, even if I don't expect the ability to be used.

- Icon's ability to drastically lower the DC to recall knowledge about you. It's already a bit weird that it's harder to know about somebody the higher level they are, but that's just a side-effect. Icon making it so that anybody untrained can still recognize your name, or eventually recognize your face, is very fun for establishing just how famous you are. Is it actually useful to have everyone recognize you? Probably the opposite in a lot of ways, but still fun.

- Xenoseeker's ability to quickly set up a shared language with an individual who doesn't speak anything you do is a lot of fun for characters. Maybe a master Society skill feat? Or a trained one that decreases in time from a week to a day to ten minutes to a single minute at legendary. This is one of those things that you're unlikely to ever actually need, because GMs don't generally like running a bunch of failed communication, but sometimes it's about what a character can do.

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I have a character in SF1 that got holographic skin grafts to look like a cartoon pahtra, and commits crimes while in a very obvious disguise. I don't expect every character to carry over, but Analyze Target seems pretty brutal on disguises in general.

- As a cantrip, it autoscales. So if you want to use magic to disguise yourself as someone or just as not-yourself, you need to be caster. Even a max-level spell from a multiclassed caster will lose out to Analyze Target cast by a multiclassed caster, or even somebody granted an innate cantrip through an item or ancestry feat.
- There's no allowance for non-magical disguises. Have advanced hologram tech or elaborate prosthetic disguise concealing your identity? It still gets your real biometrics. Even if items get an automatic rank of half their level, rounded up, it still means needing to re-buy it every two levels just to deal with what's almost certainly going to be one of the most common security measures.


While I personally noticed this because of one of my characters, there are a lot of non-disguise reasons why a character might not want somebody learning their physiological information and medical conditions from 30 feet away with no save or say in the matter. Players can have a conversation with the GM if it's something that bothers them at a player level, but it might be good to save people the trouble of having conversations about why bodily privacy matters to them personally.

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Just some thoughts going through the new field test.

First thing out of the gate, I'm somebody who was only ever particularly interested in PF1 for Mystic's occult angle, so that definitely slants my view of things- Overlord being my favorite of the core batch, although Wisdom-based wasn't a great fit anyway. Figure that's important initial disclosure.

I love that the class gets plenty of spells and some big-ticket features, especially since technology takes a lot of what makes casters unique in PF2 and distributes it to everyone. I really appreciate that undead are mentioned, and that the Vitality Network (despite its name) isn't just limited to vital healing.

Mental Bond is a very cool feature, and gives the Mystic something cool and flavorful that they can do out of combat. Untraceable, instantaneous, silent communication means Mystic has an additional important role in heist sequences. I'm a little skeptical about this being Mystic's thing, since this feels very much like a Mental essence trick, and it's being done with the two non-Mental lists. That's fine, though- it also means that the trick isn't going to be one that their spells could replicate well at some point.

Absolute Bond... that's a bit of a doozy to read, but thinking about it for a bit, I can see some uses. Three-action fireball on your location that ignores yourself, or guarantee your fireball never hits more than one of the party. (RIP to Sir Target Practice the familiar.) Wait, no, a bonded ally is required to use the ability, not just a member of the bond, but it can be used to benefit and bonded target. So... you can exclude a teammate from your fireball, but you can't exclude yourself from your fireball, unless you have a teammate in the area, in which you could exclude either yourself or them. Absolute Bond is a doozy to read. ... Oh, and you can also spend an action to get a 4/6/8 hp refund, although that sounds like something reserved for serious emergencies.

EDIT: Quid from the future, spending an action for a 4 hp refund turns a lot of cool abilities from "a couple times before refocusing" into "at-will for two actions instead of one", and after reading more of the class, I am glad Absolute Bond has that feature.

Okay, let's look at the feats!

First up, Deity's domain. Little deity-centric, but it'd be a shame to have all the printed deity stuff go to waste. Martial Disciple, same deal but less interesting. Oh, it's also not divine-casting locked, missed that on the first read through. Uh, how does Martial Disciple actually work with PF2 deities having PF2 weapons?

After that, we get into the non-deity stuff with a Primal-exclusive. (I know it's just alphabetical, but it feels weird having the class lead with deity stuff.) Viral Order? Love that! But in practice, this just feels bad. You spend a feat on a trained lore and a trio of spells known? I guess it's a first level feat on a caster, but it's still lackluster compared to a focus spell.

And, rounding out first level, Network Spell. Oh, this is fun- in normal combat situations, it's a worse Reach Spell, but you can use it around corners and to make your martial ally look like a caster with some setup. Much more interesting.

On to level two, starting with another deity feat, covering the rest of the deity statblock. It's a huge block of text, and all you get is some spells known and sanctification, along with anathema restrictions. I really don't want divine to just be "spend feats to be Cleric", and it looks like all the divine stuff is deity-based. I really hope that the final version takes some notes form Animist and doesn't just make divine about gods.

Whew... I know the class doesn't have to worship a deity, and this is the field test, which is going to naturally focus more on stuff that carries over from PF2. I'd just appreciate it being dialed back a bit. Especially because, at least in this preview, divine Mystic has to worship a deity to get a second focus spell.

Spot Healing: Pay two hitpoints to turn an action into a reaction, with limits. Fair enough. I do feel like this needs a little text clarifying what happens if the damage would knock them out. Could this reduce the damage, maybe?

Vital Boost: Why the different range for Spot Healing? Just make everything 20 feet if that's the standard range for accessing special bond functions. Four hitpoints for a +1 status bonus... That has a weird curve of getting better as the HP cost drops relative to your pool, and then needing retraining once everybody's got a more reliable status bonus.

Wild Bond: Focus spell for Primal casters. If the natural attacks are always going to lag behind weapons by a full damage die, they should just be cut, right? Couldn't this just give full damage two levels (one rank) after the appropriate item level, when getting a backup weapon starts to get affordable? Or even four levels/two ranks, since then it replaces a backup weapon when it's basically free, instead of always being behind. ... Buuuut I'm being greedy. The tons of movement forms and being a mass-buff at later levels means it'd be a must-take if it were replacing the entire party's backup weapons as well.

Cloud Storage: My biggest suggestion here, getting bold text: Make the Mystic's feats sound like feats for a Mystic! This is a Technomancer joke in the Mystic class, and it means no Cloud Storage spell or Techomancer feat/feature. This feat is amazing, and I love it! Absolutely incredible; shared storage space linked over the entire planet that uses hitpoints to access it? This is enough for me to build an entire character around! But it should have a mystical name. (I also feel obligated to mention for the design team's benefit that it might need a way for somebody else to break in, because otherwise MacGuffins can be put in there impossible for anybody else to retrieve.)

Memory Bank: Same deal as the last one, less emphatically because it does actually interact with tech.

Mental Interference: This feels like something that you'd mostly take for Wisdom-based skills. Looking at the feat, it's basically ranged feint on a different skill, at the cost of 4hp. The dazzled part is only relevant on a crit, so spending the hitpoints probably wouldn't be worth it unless you're moving from charisma to wisdom- although if you're upgrading your connection skill for better hitpoint recharging, then it might be worth it even for something like moving Deception to Performance.

Void Warranty: ... I enjoy puns well enough, but I guess these just feel a little weird coming from Rage of Elements and the remaster, where classes had things named/renamed to be more evocative and thematic. If I'm taking this feat, it's because I want to cast void damage spells. A crack about the silliness of "void" doesn't exactly mesh well with that. Meanwhile, if I'm playing a Mechanic, I absolutely would love to have a feat called "Void the Warranty" that gives me a big boost with an item at the cost of breaking it after the action is complete. That would make me feel more like a Mechanic, while as-is, this makes me feel like less of a Mystic.


Overall summary:
Love Vitality Network and the associated Mental Bond. I'm really happy that there are feats to expand on uses for those hitpoints and so on. My favorite feat is absolutely being able to store items suspended in the bond itself, allowing party members to access them from anywhere on the planet.

Outside of the initial features, though, the class doesn't feel like a Mystic. Anything that isn't "Cleric Lite" or "Druid Lite" is a joke meant for another class.

Apart from a level 1-2 speed bump, you can get medium armor easily, and heavy in exchange for an archetype dedication. I'd like for that to not be where the class pushes you, but...

You're giving up about five damage per hit with a melee Dex build vs. going Str, and that's pretty rough. Your reach weapon is a d6 instead of d10, maybe a d6.5 because of extra traits, and you'd have to dip into uncommon options to get a d8 non-reach finesse weapon vs. multiple common d12s. That's two damage, and there's another three from stat. You can cut it down to a difference of three damage total if you give up on being relevant in any social or downtime activities, of course.

This is something very much baked into the system, so I don't expect Exemplar to solve it. But if the class is going to have light armor as its base, and focus on nimble heroes of legend, it'd be nice to have the class follow the example of classes like Rogue, Investigator, and Swashbuckler, adding a little extra to finesse weapons. Not enough to bring it to the same damage level (given the extra skills and better reflex), but enough to take some sting out of it. Weapon ikon for finesse weapons that gives more than the usual two damage, maybe? That's far from perfect, since it even more strongly incentivizes just staying in weapon mode.

Mostly just tossing the idea out there.

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The Cunning epithet is one that should certainly exist- cunning heroes are plenty famous. In terms of epithets, it's the only one I want to actually play characters described that way.

The problem is that, mechanically, it can hardly ever be used in a cunning way. You get a free feint when you move to your body ikon. Well, feint is melee only, so no cunning ranged combatant, and you probably never trigger this usefully during initiative. You need to feint before an attack, so what you'd want is weapon ikon, but you're not getting that. Additionally, transcending out of weapon ikon generally involves making one or more attacks, meaning you're already on MAP. If you're using a dagger, the classic weapon of the cunning, you're at -8 with one action remaining. So, the only way to use this cunningly is to be in/move into melee with no available flanking and activate the transcend an active worn ikon, and go for body rather than weapon for an attack.

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Doing my first PFS game, so here we go... Level 1.

A lot of my regular choices aren't available, so I look at some of the special exceptions for PFS. I'm not spending my starter points on a playtest character. Kobolds are fun, but anything I come up with feels too jokey, especially at level 1. It's lightly armored, so I have to do a Dex build or go through the hassle of the armor feats/archetype mess. Consider ratfolk for a while- dagger, maybe, or a bow. Nothing is clicking, and the level 1 class feats don't help. "Sanctified focus, sanctified focus, two-weapon fighting, two athletics feats in the wrong section."

Eventually, I start humming "It's Good to Be a God" and decide to make Tulio or Miguel from The Road to El Dorado. Dexterity and Charisma, Ascendant Court charlatan selling fake records of who's tried what, doesn't realize he's got a spark of divinity himself. "Tuhl" it is. Human, obviously gotta get the charming smile option (even if it's just worse than the shield booster), so we'll get the sandals because I'm not actually leveling the character up (fun now, but I can't tell you how bad it would feel to actually get this allegedly legendary item to the point where it's replaced by second-rank wands), and the sword/knife group option for +2 spirit damage on twinned daggers. Initial plan is to use Natural Ambition to also get the jumping feats (the better for running away from the Starstone aspirants who realized the guides he sold them were fake), but then I see that the skills are super limited. No first level class feat can compare with two trained skills, so I switch to Natural Skill. Background is Charlatan, naturally.

- There are a couple effective AC boosters, but Eye-Catching Spot seems almost strictly worse than Palisade Bangles, and it doesn't have an out-of-combat use like Gaze Sharp as Steel. Palisade Bangles hits allies as well and isn't conditional, while the body ikons are self-only and only against certain types of attacks.
- I find myself wanting Eye-Catching Spot to have a small out-of-combat perk, and/or a one-action ability instead of two-action.
- Skybearer's Belt is a trap- if you rely on it, you're locked into maintaining it in combat and staying near allies because dropping it encumbers your allies. It also doesn't affect you, which is weird. You have the ability to make yourself the weakest in the group?
- Thousand-League Sandals run into the Longstrider wand problem.
- First level feats feel sparse, partly because sanctification stuff is narrow flavor and two-weapon fighting is limited.
- I'm on board with low armor for these sorts of characters, but the damage reduction fails on crits healing is limited, and any protections/AC bonuses/etc. will turn off when you shift. It feels a bit off to be required to go with a Dex build, but at the same time, Str build would absolutely demolish Dex build if medium armor were available automatically. Give them a good one-handed melee weapon ikon, maybe? Dunno how to solve that one.

Will update after playing. Cool class, level 1 seems very rough around the edges, probably to try and cram in all the ikons in a balanced way.

I was just thinking about the personal upgrades and moving over to apex items. It'd be a nice touch (although likely too page intensive) to have three apex items per stat: one each for tech, biological, and magic. Obviously, folks can reflavor them if one suits their needs more, but it'd be nice having the three big sources of power in SF represented.

Apex augmentations, maybe?

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So, the upside of PF2's ancestry system is that while ancestries aren't as front-loaded, they can often end up with more overall. (And as a reminder for folks who haven't seen yet, flight is being looked at to be more available to SF playable species than it is in PF, since ranged combat is a bigger core assumption.)

Personally, I'm looking forward to more Embri options. They're a cool species lore-wise, but none of their features really "pop". That, and Spathinae. They've got a lot of features already, but it'd be cool to see what a high-level feat looks like for them.

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We're getting a new edition
Based largely on PF2
So I'll make my own submission
Of what you all could do!

Eox has radiation
Which Eoxians should ignore.
It'd bring me great elation
To play those undead more!

When I play Mechanic,
And brain chip's better suited.
It'd cut down on my panic
If a familiar-bot's included.

Not much a thing for changing
But holograms embedded
Are such a lovely strange thing,
So changes would be dreaded.

(I dunno, it's late, and this struck me on a whim. I did one for each of my three favorite Starfinder characters. I'll explain them.

I know PF2 cut back undead immunities when they're playable, but for me, it really helps get into the setting and so on if we can play undead who can actually live on Eox. I've got an Eoxian deadly gameshow host, and I've got to come up with a bunch of backstory for why he's not really undead, and give him a medical bracelet so people know to use positive energy on him, and invest in necrografts just to get him closer to proper undead. I'd love to see at least enough immunity to be able to walk around Eox outside the Halls of the Living to the same degree that other Eoxians do. It's still dangerous out there, sure.

Mechanic has two main class paths, and maybe that'll change. There are also a bunch of variations to boot. It'd be nice if mini-versions of the major class paths were available as class feats. If I've got an exocortex, being able to get a drone that's on the level of a familiar would be cool. If I've got a combat drone, being able to take a feat that gives me a chip in my head that functions like the various "pick one skill to be trained in at the start of the day" feats- maybe even limited to lores- would be a cool addition. This one is actually inspired by a Starfinder dual-class character I had named Arendi, who had a sonic weaponry drone named Ban (for Banshee) and an exocortex with a synthetic identity named Shasa (for Rakshasa, since she helped him kill things).

And finally, something I love in SF. Hologram skin implants. I've got a character who goes around wearing a hologram of a cartoon Pahtra to hide his real identity with something obviously fake. I'd really love for that option to stick around- and it'd be a nice treat if "specific non-realistic appearance" were a supported early option. Science fantasy equivalent of a mascot suit?)

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Wargamer's preview of the plane of metal just came out, and one spell in particular stood out to me, Field of Razors.

It's a three-action spell, which would often have the material component pre-remaster. It actually describes a component that is used, so almost certainly material component pre-remaster. The spell description says you grind it up in your hands, plural. There's no tag that indicates that a component is being used.

Let's say I'm a Magus who wants to take metal spells. Can I go two-handed (because the rules don't require hands free to cast spells), am I restricted to having a hand free (because it's got a material component that is no longer conveniently tagged), or do I need to go full unarmed (because the description says I grind the metal between my hands)? Or is the spell just missing one of its tags?

This might be answered in the remastered rules, but I'd just like to have it cued up for clarification consideration if not. It's not a big deal to have a few spells ambiguous in the four to five months of transition, but it'd be a bummer to not have a clear answer long term.

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Monk is a pretty cool class, and there's just one thing that's a little annoying.

Monks "should" grab a shield, but it feels wrong. They're unarmed fighters! The last thing I picture is them hauling around a steel shield, let alone a tower shield. But the way the game is set up, Monk gives up basically nothing to hold a shield (since they still have a hand free) and requires next to nothing to do so (even Shield Block isn't needed and you can raise even a cheap shield at any level). Grabbing a tower shield makes a lot of sense too, since the movement penalty doesn't mean as much to Monk and occasionally spending two actions for +4 AC means less when you can attack twice in the remaining actions.

It'd be nice to see the remastered Monk make this less strongly incentivized. A feature allowing them to spend an action for a +2 circumstance bonus to AC if they have both hands free, for instance. It's not appreciably stronger than Monk grabbing a shield, and it doesn't prevent somebody from doing so if it fits their concept. Or perhaps +1 AC, but it grants a reaction.

(I'm also hoping for a style or feat that works with natural weapons, but that's just personal preferences.)

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If owlbears are OGL, what should Yoon's stuffed animal be?

It's not the usual thought experiment, but it's something that came to mind. If I'm playing a level 20 master of an element, I should be pretty scary. Not just in an "I could kill you" way, but as a primal force of destruction. At this level, a Druid can turn into a kaiju to make a point, and can spend all day as a huge-size dragon.

The scenario:
A level 6 farmer has been extremely rude to us. There's no point in killing him (that's what a Fighter or Barbarian would do), but he'll crit-fail anything we throw against him. He only has a single one-acre field, which makes a better way to make our point. (For those not familiar with how big an acre is, it's 43,560 square feet. That's about two 25x35 grid battle maps put together, with five foot squares. In real world terms, it's a bit smaller than a football field, either kind.)

The conditions:
You've got a minute to mess up his field. Anything more than that is just going to start getting embarrassing. You're dedicated gate, so it's gotta be done with one element. If you can find something suitably scary to do to the farmer that doesn't kill him, go for it, but it should be scarier than a casting of Feast of Ashes or the party mage will just laugh.

What can you do?

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All right!

Time for some really early and premature impressions, before I get into some more actual detail.

Dang I wish Constitution did something for this class. Please, at least something beyond setting DCs. Use it on a skill, scale effects off it, get a special ability that keys off of a fortitude save, whatever.

Auras look amazing. I love having a class with a ton of aura options ranging in level. And with an action discount for swapping auras? Excellent.

The d4 damage on air makes me a little sad.

What's with the random mention of "manifestations" in Clear as Air? The abilities are all specifically not spells, so they don't have manifestations.

I'd really like Air to be able to shut people up and/or have some sort of suffocation effect, even if it's got the Incapacitate trait. You control air; getting rid of it is the quintessential scary thing you should be able to do.

Adapt Element is nice. Pure Adaptation could really benefit from an example of what it means to purify fire.

Gonna try a character rebuild.

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Thaumaturge is getting Esoteric Antithesis simplified a bit, with a likely name of Forge Connection. It's charisma-based, no longer reliant on Recall Knowledge, and will be able to create a new weakness, trigger an existing weakness, or provide some other benefit, like a debuff.

So, what are some fun in-character explanations for how your Thaumaturge is doing it?

1) Using occult magic to draw on folklore, both inaccurate and true, to make popular beliefs about certain vulnerabilities real.

2) Using divine magic to draw upon the ire of whatever divine or supernatural forces oppose the target.

3) Using divine magic to strengthen the pull of their awaited afterlife on their soul.

4) Interfering in the world's connection with the Akashic Record, altering the properties of either the target or your weapon by supplying false information about how they should interact.

5) Using primal magic to expose weakness, much like nature as a whole does.

6) Using arcane magic to assess the flaws in the target's material expression and exploit them.

7) A fey bargain has given the Thaumaturge glimpses of creatures as they ought-to-have-been, their First World selves, allowing something more real than themselves to be injured.

8) The blessings of Zon Kuthon allow the Thaumaturge to strike not only at the body, but at the shadow as well.

9) Sympathetic magic, mediated through metaphor and pataphor.

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Most of the stuff in my personal thread was the same things people have been talking about, but this one seemed worth breaking out for discussion since I hadn't seen it come up.

Psychic only gets one or two top-level slots. That means only one or two reasonable attempts at Charm, Calm Emotions, Suggestion, Dominate, or any other similar spells. Sorc gets three times as many attempts when you hit a new spell level, while Witch, Bard, and even Summoner get twice as many.

The result is that Psychic is the worst Occult caster at some of the most Psychic/Mesmerist-like spells, except on even levels when Summoner's casting proficiency has fallen behind. So, 8, 16, and 19-20 when 10th level slots show up.

Anyway, it's not a big enough thing to redesign the whole class to fix, but it bugged me. A metamagic, non-cantrip amp, or unleash effect to add +1 to spell level for calculating incapacitation effects would be enough to let a specialized Psychic outperform Sorc in a narrow thematic area. If it's capped at max spell level, they at least keep up with Sorcerer.

Taking a break to take a look at Psychic. As usual, this is mostly build stuff, mostly from the vague and nebulous "how satisfied am I making my characters with this".

Overall impressions before building something:
Ouch, those spell slots.
The existing cantrip augs seem really weak for the most part?
I thought Telekinetic Rend scaled at Heightened + 1, and thought that was solid compensation. Ouch upon noticing it's + 2.

It's all the same stuff folks have been saying.

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Making one of these as usual for my thoughts and build stuff.

Initial impression: Oooh, shiny!

More specifically…
- A more magical martial is nifty.
- I love the theming, drawing on bits and scraps of magic, as well as creating connections.
- Woof. The sheer amount of skills you need to keep up to date feels oppressive. "For example, against a tyrant, you might attach a chain broken to free a captive." - good luck on that, I hope you had Society up to date in addition to the four magic skills. Pretty much the only thing charisma has going for it is social skills, and I can't afford them.
- Implements, absolutely love them. And we're getting more? Fantastic. I'm a little sad that getting a secondary past initiate without compromising your primary costs an 18th level feat, but the initial benefits for these are quite good.
- Amulet- yes. Yessity-yes-yes-yes. Reaction damage reduction, no longer just on Champion. Gonna be taking this one a lot, because I love broad-spectrum resistances.
- Chalice- cool. Not my thing, but all right. It makes sense that the temp HP is lower than the resistance from amulet, but the action cost for something that just lasts a round does seem a bit steep.
- Lantern- stylish. The knowledge bonus means this is doing something for you in combat, which is nice. I would take this for flavor reasons, and it does nice enough stuff that I wouldn't feel about what I was getting. Mechanically exciting for me? Nah, but that's fine.
- Wand- good. Can't comment on how strong it is, and I'm not gonna take it, but I'm glad it exists.
- Weapon- intriguing. I don't have anything that fits the concept, but I like the mechanics on this enough that I'm interested in making something based on this.

All in all, stylish as heck! It is going to hurt going from a loremaster alchemical science investigator to this, though.

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Base proficiencies: Unskilled class, good hitpoints, weak BAB. Gonna need the rest of the class to pull some weight.

Adaptive strike: Needs an accurate name. It's not at all adaptive, because you can't change it. The damage is more or less Solarian - 2 once you get going.

Evolution track: One per turn is nice! It's got the feeling of getting stronger over combat. Hopefully.
EP bonuses by round:
1- Five feet bonus movement, as an enhancement bonus. Half the Operative bonus, two levels early, doesn't scale up. *shrugs*
2- Crit effect. This seems like a "feel bad" ability. If you crit on the first round, you don't get your crit effect. And in many combats, this doesn't provide a benefit, because you need to roll a 20.
3- On the third round of combat, my EP gave to me: a movement bonus when I'm already engaged in combat.
4- +1 AC for making it to the fourth round of combat. This is where we get what feels like an actual bonus.
5- Bonus damage, 1/round! That's nice.
6- +1 Enhancement bonus to all saves? It'll overlap with a ring of resistance, but that's at least +2 on saves. Nice. This is pretty far into the track, though- the big ticket spells tend to get thrown around early.
7- At level 14, this becomes accessible. It's the third or fourth round of combat. If I need the movement, I've bought augmentations instead of waiting for this- wait. I'm sorry, I forgot. This is a bonus to any one type of movement, so by this point, it's probably fly. I still don't care much for this being a perk that depends on getting further into the track, since it's more valuable early in the fight.
8- Another +1 AC. A good finisher.

Movement after the first round doesn't feel good; crit effects after the first round occasionally feel really bad.

Now, I know that there will be more effects later!

Spending EP: Well, here's my pretend-to-be-full-BAB option. For gaining no EP per round, you're full BAB outside of Starship combat. This seems like the Vanguard-esque approach. "Draw" your weapon as a free action is unlikely to come up much, but I don't mind it. Getting a movement speed only in combat isn't going to come up much either, but I hope the class will have out of combat movement options as we go along.

Flexible Skill: Solarian-esque, but weaker early on and better later.

Niche: Covering it later.

Adaptations: Ditto.

Augmented Form: Can this be fit into first level so that characters don't feel the need to wait and get any character-critical augmentations later?

Fulcrum: Make your weapon, a weapon. Is a scaling weapon level going to deactivate fusions? I'd need to go review that again.

Skill Boost: Nice list of options to pick from, and I appreciate the flexibility of changing on level-up.

Weapon Specialization: Yay, some extra damage!

Evolution Drain: Hmm. Spend your turn, getting later-turn benefits… I appreciate the guarantee of one evolution point on a hit, and the chance at sickened. The reactive once-per-mini-rest ability is a very solid improvement, though!

Evolutionary Focus:
Augmentation: This gets a little bit into the weirdness of waiting for discounts, but shouldn't be too bad.
Combat: I know this math stuff is good and all, but I never really care too much.
Packmaster: ??? Will need to look into this once I cover adaptations. I'm concerned about what this being restricted to spending EP means for those adaptations, though… I'm going to want permanent out of combat evolutions!

Accelerated Evolution: Wooo! Now we get to have fun! We can spend EP without stalling out progression on the track.

Evolution Drinker: The upgrade is nice. One-in-three chance to nauseate on hit and failed save? That's pretty nice, actually. I like that.


Before we get into the niches and adaptations… this is feeling like it could maybe be a full BAB class to me. The 10% discount might make Solarian a little jealous, and it might have to drop some late-level skill points.

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I hope we get some support for more worn kits. My alchemical studies investigator is a kobold, so I end up with three bulk of gear. If I want to use my lovely three-action snare deploy it takes three turns to retrieve, deploy, and store the kit. That's still preferable to turning a one-action activity into five actions across three turns, so alchemist's tools remain the ones worn.

It'd be nice to have a magical tool bandolier that doesn't cost too much.

Discoluse, I started with some biases against the class concept. Specifically, I don't really want Iron Man or a lightning gun artificer showing up in every other game.

But, I'm gonna do some builds and see how it looks!

The characters:

Cal. His original concept was a gadgeteer superhero who made himself an advanced prosthetic arm. His PF1 version was an Occultist who bound spirits to animate his paralyzed arm. In PF2, he would have been a Magus. Goals: weaponized arm, electrical damage in melee, defensive bonus using the arm, grappling hook, mechanical prosthetic arm.

Mad Science Gal. Her original concept was a mad roboticist who ransoms the city for funding, but also puts out lab safety PSAs. I haven't built her before, but her PF1 version would have been an Alchemist, probably with one of the construct companion archetypes. In PF2, she would not have been buildable in a meaningful fashion. Goals: construct-focused build (sending construct into battle and hanging back isn't a waste of time), suitably hammy abilities, some hold-out weapon or punishment for being attacked directly.

Some kobold. Look, this looks great for a kobold. I still wish they were +Int. Goals: something that fits a cowardly and petty evil kobold. That's fine, though.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Thank you for doing these playtests! Getting the opportunity not only to see what is coming in the future but also getting to hopefully provide meaningful feedback is a huge plus (I think?) and I 100% cannot wait to see more developments in the Mech space in particular!

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Summoner doesn't have much actual summoning, which seems a little surprising.

The problem is that it's a class that attracts new players. There is no way I want a new player having to hunt through three bestiaries for something good so that they can try to juggle three creatures in combat for a total of five actions. Even if it only works while the eidolon isn't present, I still don't want to point a new player towards the summoning rules.

Just add some appropriate summoning spells to their repertoire on top of the four spells they pick.
- They're already spontaneous, so even if a character isn't focused on summoning, they can toss out a summons when it's useful.
- It avoids taking power away from the eidolon. The power of an extra spell known is not nearly as big as an extra spell in a free, dedicated slot.
- It allows new players to safely ignore the incredibly rules-intense summoning rules without being weaker for it.

The slightly improved version:
Each eidolon gives a choice of one of two bonus spells known. One is a summoning spell, and the other is a spell that benefits from heightening. Heal, Charm, Magic Missile. Include a sidebar recommending new players take the non-summoning spell.

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As a heads-up, that's okay! Investigator really knocked it out of the park for me.

Useful context: I like Summoner in PF1, but I've only done short-lived Synthesist builds. Why? Because generally I don't care about the actual summoner part of it. I had ideas for regular Summoners, but 2+Int skills got in the way. I loved Spiritualist. One of my favorite characters was one with a Kindness phantom. (Okay, with six phantoms thanks to an archetype, but Kindness was the main one.)

I was excited for this to release, but after seeing it, I'm not really that interested in playing one, so I'm gonna try and pick apart why. In the process, I might resolve some of my issues. I hope this is helpful.

A big part of my enjoyment of Unchained Summoner in PF1 was the outsider options. There are a bunch of flavorful outsider types; I'm fond of the various fiends, psychopomps, and proteans. I can maybe get behind an angel with John Dee occult vibes. All of that, though, is now tied to the divine list. No illusions, no charms, very few compulsions, no Haste, in short… no trickery and no shenanigans. And I know Summoner's list in PF1 didn't have most of that either, but I could at least read minds, shapeshift, turn invisible, possess people, and turn people into weasels. Divine list continues to have the boring "black and white" feeling that rankles and doesn't fit the characters I enjoy playing.

So, what lists have those things? Arcane and Occult.

Arcane has a dragon, and will probably add constructs. I'm really not big on the pet dragon thing at all (I quite like Paizo's general approach of making dragons rare and powerful), but in typing this up, I do realize that pretending to be a dragon is one of the things I've wanted to do. My first Pathfinder character was a rather involved backstory Synthesist Summoner with an excuse for why he stopped being a dragon at night. But, I can't do (most of my) magic as a dragon, and I can't use magic items. If the character is working around that by transforming privately to keep up a charade? Okay, that's one character concept! (At least, if Synthesis stops dropping my Deception by four points and removing all my skill feats.)

Construct? I didn't care for Inevitable in PF1 either. Buuut, this won't be restricted to a boring rule-abiding biped. Possible candidate.

On to Occult! This is where I was really excited beforehand. Aberrations! Abominations from beyond the stars!

Playtest wrote:
Regardless of their nature, each occult eidolon has a connection to a particular emotion.

… Darn.

Okay, we're going Spiritualist here! That was one of the predictions, and I like the class. What'd we get for our phantom? Dedication Devotion (good choice on the name change) is not a very exciting emotion, and the abilities are very dry. Stand by your summoner (who is supposed to be hiding or at least flanking) to protect them, better saves, and take two damage to block five damage in an area. The specific phantom is a bit of a let-down coming from a Kindness phantom providing the utility of a bunch of magical healing and a larger Aid Another bonus on all skills.

The problem is, very little I like about Spiritualist is here. Spiritualist was great generalist utility, but I only get four spells known- that's enough to fake it a bit, but I'll be worse utility than a multiclass caster. The phantom was an amazing scout capable of phasing through walls right from first level, but that's obviously not part of eidolons. I was able to build my phantom with versatile tricks like pulling out whatever item was needed, or picking up an obscure skill we needed on the fly, but they don't have feat slots.

Now, it does do one thing much better than Spiritualist. It can fight. I could never get my Greed phantom character idea to the point of actually being useful enough to play, so if we got that, I'd have a ready-made character idea that would work better in PF2.

As far as the Primal list goes, a fey eidolon would be cool, but my character can't cast much by way of fey-like spells using the Primal list (mostly Charm), so I'd probably just pass.

- The spell list limitation kills a lot of my interest in the character possibilities that drew me to Unchained Summoner.
- Occult eidolons are insufficiently spirit-y to capture the Spiritualist appeal, and don't seem interested in doing more corporeal abominations without tying them to an emotion. I've got an idea that works great when they get to Greed, but Devotion is uninspiring and I don't know how to use its main ability.
- The new arcane options are workable. It feels a lot like playing a Chained Summoner, because when I sat down to a blob of stats in PF1, "make a dragon" was the first thing I thought of. On the flip side, that also means it doesn't feel better than getting a blob of stats and a breath weapon evolution.
- PF2's skill progression does provide the "why don't you just go play one in PF1" answer for Summoner, but not for Spiritualist.

What would help fix this for me?
- Make the spell list a suggestion for each summons type, not a requirement. Divine list with Beast for a Gozren or Lamashtan, occult list with Angel for a John Dee-esque character, primal list with Dragon for a primal dragon, and arcane list with Devotion for a necromancer who preserved the mind of their lover.
- More eidolon customization/shared customization. I don't think it's too unbalanced to share skill feats… it's a boost for things like Battle Medicine, it's true.
- Viable eidolon-as-character. The Synthesis restrictions are a little too harsh to do it right now.

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Double Spellstrike gives you a step-worse echo of your spell. You get four fancy spells per day, and it's going to need a 20 to be relevant (either on your attack or your spell attack). If you crit on the attack part, you still need to hit on the regular attack- we will incorrectly and generously assume that's a 50/50.

Roughly speaking, what are the odds of using it effectively during the day?
(1-(.95^8))*.75 = ~25%
(The .75 is because the 50/50 only applies to half the scenarios. We're ignoring some negative scenarios where the Magus never hits in time or hits on a lower MAP. So, 25% is a pretty high estimate.)

So, every four days, one of your four spells is successfully echoed.

I was initially going to post that this was disappointing, but then I went to review the martial semi-capstones to compare. "Useful proficiency increase plus a circumstantial bonus" is the norm. I don't expect the Barbarian to be running into physical resistances too regularly, Fighter already had legendary proficiency with their main weapon group, and Ranger just gets to sleep in armor. The Magus semi-capstone is unreliable, but occasionally flashy.

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First of all, I'm glad that we've got the Synthesis feat! It's cool, and above and beyond what we would really expect to have available alongside a Summoner re-release.


- If you're already losing an action per round, it feels bad to lose out on casting. A lot of what folks want is to play a monster, and needing to hop out of eidolon form to use a big chunk of power hurts.
- Your eidolon form is actually weaker than when it's summoned separately, because you can't cast your boosting cantrips on it.
- And, if I'm going to try playing "all eidolon, all the time", it would be nice to be able to use items.

In fairness/

I am ignoring a big chunk of the advantage of this feat. You aren't locked into it- you can summon your eidolon stacked up on yourself, or separately, however you like. It allows you to switch between two sets of stats. The reason I'm ignoring those is because they're not much use to somebody who wants to use it as much as possible.

At least personally, I'd be very happy to get an class archetype that only allows Synthesis summoning, and in return removes some of the limitations on it. It sounds like a good use of the Uncommon tag.

The game premise is space pirates. It's a proper campaign, not just a one-shot. I'm playing the weird one of the group, a Nanocyte who "disguises" himself as a cartoon character. He has an unsavory reputation as a killer, and is known for sparing people who follow his enigmatic social media page. The only thing he posts on it is the text made-for-you default, "Hi, this is my first post on Space Twitter!", copied and re-posted every couple of days.

So, what do we need?

- Disguise. Not just good bonuses, but we need to clear out a lot of penalties for very weird disguise. We'll be living in the disguise. And if you are using Disguise, you need Bluff.
- Intimidate. He's an unsettling dude.
- We also need some mechanics to back us up on the "being scary" thing. We need to be able to actually kill somebody, and if possible, it should be in a scary way.
- Bonus points if we can be unnaturally cartoon-like.

Race: Verthani is creepy as heck and perfect for us. Two nice perks: skin that lets us hide and skill focus as a feat. Skill Focus is going to Intimidate, since Sheath can't boost that.

Background: We have three class skills we need to add: Disguise, Bluff, and Intimidate. Youch! We'll be able to add two with a feat, but we really want the third to come from our theme. That means Space Pirate (Bluff), Cultist (Disguise), or Gladiator (Intimidate). Space Pirate is pretty obvious, but Gladiator's mechanics actually work pretty well with a serial killer. Both of them eventually deal with weapons concealment and specific styles, so we'll need the GM to ask to fix it to something relevant for us if we get there.

Knacks, pt 1: We know we're going to be spending a knack on Versatile Nanites for bluff and disguise. We'll want sheath active a lot.

Now, the problem is, Nanocyte can't help me pull of such an ambitious disguise. We need a Doppelganger Mimic Skin for this, which does a better job of what I want than the 6th level knack and 10th level knack combined. (I want to disguise as a particular fictional individual- 6th doesn't remove anywhere near as many penalties and 10th wouldn't help and even if I'm imitating a real person, it gives much smaller bonuses.) So, I'll be low on cash. Another 500 credits, and I can get a holoskin for layering a quick disguise on top to cover the weakness of limited, slow changes.

Knacks, pt 2: Okay, so if we're going to be low on cash and planning on using Sheath, that means we go Swarm Strike to save on our weapon. Good, creepy way to fight!

Stats: I'm stretched very thin by wanting to have a decent Cha for skills. Okay, 11 Str, 14 Dex, 18 Con, 12 Int, 10 Wis, 16 Cha. We'll need good armor.

Armor: The only clear armor that works with our skin stuff (or pretty much any non-magical disguise ability) is level 3. Talked to the GM, because this is an annoying place to break. She is allowing clear armor for +10% and an upgrade slot.

- So, first of all, Discorporation is the body horror cartoon path! Unfortunately, the first ability is… it's useless. Cloud doesn't do anything if you don't spend a point, and if I spend a point I should just use my reaction to take less damage (which is likewise cartoon-ish). I get a free step if I'm crit? That would be okay if I were ranged, but "crit in melee as a ranged class" is rare. I'm sad, because the second ability is stylish, but no good in combat.
(As a minor complaint, level-8 for the effects of Secondary Faculty makes it feel irrelevant. Why would I spend a surge on something lagging eight levels behind? So it's just passive stuff.)
- Infestation. It's not cartoony, but it actually helps us in a fight while using Sheath. It makes us scary- fighting back hurts, and we can make a cloud to hit people if we need. Looks like we'll definitely need to keep Con at 18.

Equipment/gear array:
As I go to select my equipment and gear array, I notice that I can't use my gear array for any of the disguise stuff I want (because then I can't have my sheath array up). Not until 7th, at least. 7th level seems like a really big level for the class. That'll be an emergency Holoskin and a Vocal Modulator. Otherwise, my gear array selection breaks down similarly to before, but we grab a few light things that we couldn't afford otherwise (Library Chip for Culture to look stuff up easily, Thieves Tools for infiltration).

Bluff, Disguise, and Intimidate because that's what we do. Good Computers and Engineering to get into places if we need. Perception and Stealth are important for general use. Steal a rank from Computers so we've got a token rank in Culture.

We have obligated ourselves to Improved Unarmed Strike and Skill Synergy. We'll worry about the fifth-level feat later; there are plenty of great choices.


- It's hard to do a more skills-oriented take on the class. Even getting your primary stat to accuracy doesn't free you from needing Dex for AC on a light-armor class. I'm glad that I have skill bonuses that let me be relevant even if there's an operative, but I've gotta spend a lot to keep up.
- Is this another character where the answer is just, "play an Operative"? I feel like disguise is supposed to be one of the things Nanocyte is supposed to do well.
- I'm spending one knack and one feat to get a slightly weaker version of Vanguard's free scaling melee weapon, and I'm spending one knack and one feat to get a much narrower version of Operative's skill bonus. I'm a little more skilled than the Vanguard, and I'm more durable than the Operative (plenty more hitpoints/damage blocking, but -2 AC). Is the "knack and a feat" necessary for the balance? It could be.
- I can do it! I have to grab a lot of stuff from outside of the class, but the class contributes a lot to pulling this off.
- I'm a going disguise, and next level's disguise knack takes a back-seat to the heavy armor ability because items accomplish what I need (a long-term disguise) better.
- Infestation feels a lot better when I'm paying for it only occasionally, and a failed save means triggering the DoT at least once.

- Reactive Spray feels really close to a non-ability. Cloud does nothing on its own, and you never want to spend a surge on a cloud that only lasts one round.
- Versatile Nanites could grant class skills, even if it's only while Sheath is active with those skills. Or maybe some flexibility on the class skills.
- Maybe it's too complex or a balance issue, but getting a starting choice between a physical skill list for Sheath (Stealth, Acrobatics, Athletics, Sleight of Hand) and a mental skill list (Bluff, Disguise, Engineering, Medicine) would significantly improve my experience. It feels like I'm spending the knack to make up for the default being aimed at another concept. It would also free up Medicine builds from requiring both level 2 and 4 knacks.
- Hungry Nanites should work with Swarm Strike.
- Beef up Disguise. The only skills with knack chains are Medicine and Disguise; taking those chains should have some oomph to them.

Sorry I gripe a lot in these; I'm really enjoying the class flavor and just trying to get the mechanics to do what I want with less of a "locked in" feeling.

We're going to be playing Skitter Home this weekend, so I'm planning on getting some more testing in!

If you don't want spoilers, probably leave before looking at the second third post.

Level four, probably replacing Gazigaz. So, let's test out my face build theories for Nanocyte!

The first thing to do on a face build is make it so I can afford to have Charisma. Swarm Strike means we use Con to hit with sheath active, so we can go all-in on Con and put the rest in Cha. Skittermanders get +Dex, +Cha, -Int.

That means 10 for Str and Wis, 8 for Int, 18 for Con, 14 for Cha, 12 for Dex.

Now, we get a poor selection of social class skills because we're not a social skills class. Let's see what Versatile Nanites can cover. Bluff, Disguise… okay, two social skills. I really don't see Disguise being of any use, and we're never getting to Facial Reconfiguration. Even if we were, the bonus does not help with hiding extra arms or changing size. So, not something for skittermanders.

Okay, so Nanocyte's social purview is limited to infiltration, and this doesn't seem like a game where infiltration will be useful.

Even if we grab some of that Con for Cha, standing in for the Envoy in any fashion is off the table. It's like building a Soldier as the party face- Starfinder will let you do it, but it's just going to be you spending a bunch of feats on it.

We'll come back to the drawing board later with a different build!

So, the question of what to do with all the bulk I can create, and my friend pointed out that her main limitation on getting a high-powered computer was that you had to pay a lot extra to miniaturize it back down to portable.

- A datapad is a technological item, so I can make a datapad.
- A datapad is a tier 1 computer miniaturized to tier 0.
- Datapads of higher tiers exist, and become expensive because of the miniaturization required. Can I make those, or just the standard Space Costco one?
- I have a lot more bulk available to create than just L. It seems like a lot more of a stretch to just go make a computer- those don't have rules for how they get power. That's probably into houserule territory. Figured I'd mention it, though!

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Figure the dev team might like to see my process.

First up, what am I making? A cloud Nanocyte that nibbles on people. It's what I'm most interested in, so we're gonna make sure it gets some playtest feedback. From the other thread, I've concluded that the best way to play this at low levels is spending two points on a thick cloud array and Malignant Mist, and firing long-range shots from behind your screen. First knack is Abundant Nanites to be able to afford this level of wild spending.

- First two considerations were Embri and Spathinae. Spathinae get a Dex bonus and Con penalty, so we'll probably skip them (plus, low-level flight feels a bit mean sometimes); we need 16 Dex for accuracy, and if we have less than 16 Con, we're giving up on the cloud succeeding. Embri are fine stat-wise, and that was the plan for a while, but I couldn't get the visuals or lore to work.
- I consider Android and SRO for a bit, but an Android with a longarm and a nanite screen feels too "just tech".
- I eventually settle on Ysoki; that seems like a good fit for hunkering down and shooting from across the battlefield. Shirren is given some consideration too, but it feels close to a friend's character.
- (I feel like Kobold would fit this well.)

Sensate, with a particular focus on dissolving interesting objects with his nanites to get a true understanding of them.

I'm not going for a Sheath build, so I'm not missing anything for this character. The racial bonuses from Ysoki are nice. If this were going higher level, I'd snag diplomacy and spend a feat on getting it as a class skill.

Basic Gear!
- Weapon is going to be a longarm. After some hunting through the list, Tactical Acid Dart Rifle stands out. It's got good range and damage with a decent shots-per-reload and cost-per-shot. And, it's one bulk.
- Armor is Clearweave. Affordable, good bonuses, no penalty.

Major Forms!
- Wow, we need some more low-level cybernetics. I'm fully confident we'll get that in the book, though! If it were biology, I'd pick Pressurized Lungs, Wyrmling Dragon Gland or Swimming Fins, and Climbing Suckers. If it were Magitech, I'd pick Technopathy Node, Basic Morphic Skin, and… okay, Magitech is a little sparse, I'd get a backup weapon for the third one there.
- Since it's Cybernetics, I took Voice Amplifier and Standard Datajack. (Maybe I'm missing the actual benefit of a datajack, but it's stylish to have the nanites run a connection through your skull.)
- And, since we've got a major form leftover and our weapon of choice is dual-type damage, we'll pick up Dazzler Flare Rifle.

Minor Forms!
- Head to Technological Items, and oooh! 3 bulk worth titanium cable? Wait, no, five bulk! Abundant Nanites gives us a side benefit. Heck yeah, that's great! 500ft. of cable is amazing when you don't have to worry about the bulk. EDIT: 600ft. after the Con increase.
- Hygiene Kit without needing to worry about spending 1 bulk on it! That's a fallback.
- Holoskin is tempting even without any disguise ranks or charisma.
- Basic Emergency Raft is a cool trick and high-bulk. Definitely grabbing that.
- Considered Survival Straw, a tent, and a collapsible ladder.
- Skipping Holoshroud because my investment is only 625, but that'd be a definite later candidate.
- Tool Kit (Thieves Tools) is a cool choice because then there's no evidence of having something shady like that on your person. I think I prefer spending the ability on bypassing bulk restrictions, so lets snag that collapsible ladder. That should double as a bridge, and I've got terrible athletics.
- Culinary Synthesizer, you're on as a future item when I have a higher investment.
Cable, hygiene kit, emergency raft, and thieves tools it is.

I gotta say, getting to pick out more minor forms seems like it'll be one of the fun perks of leveling up. I can grab a lot of weird stuff that I wouldn't normally be able to.

Suggestion for the team- it'd be cool to get one or two useful very hefty items. A five-bulk crafting station, for instance, so you could have your nanites turn into a 3D printer. We don't need many of these at all, and there are a few similar things already.

Other stuff!
Wow, I missed Cytoconversion on my first read through.
Oh, right. I can get a personal upgrade at this level. Cool, let's spend a feat for accuracy and get the upgrade for Con, then clear out some funds by downgrading Clearweave armor to Freebooter Armor.

(Man, looking through Starfinder feats is a cold bucket of water after working on PF2 stuff.) Grabbing Weapon Focus (Longarms) and Spellbane- not super exciting, but that should cover the issues with focusing on two stats and with the weak saves.

Some final thoughts:
- Once I let go of trying to go around with a cloud that eats people, I was able to make a different but fun character.
- The added benefit of Abundant Nanites over the base is nice. The only actual perk I get from that is 200ft. more of cable, but it's still neat since I'm taking the talent for something else. Definitely a feels-good moment.
- Lots of minor forms I wanted! Would I ever spend a talent for Myriad Forms? No, I feel like that needs a major form as well, or some other benefit, to "justify" taking it.
- Major forms made me wish there were more cybernetics options. I only need one weapon as an emergency backup, because it locks me out of the combat form I'm building around.
- Sheath is getting ignored, but it'll be the default out-of-combat option. Bonuses to stealth and… uh, Acrobatics is the only other one I have ranks in, I guess? Sheath with Swarm Strike was what I was mainly considering as an alternative to this build, though.


GM is going to be running a one-shot at third level. Great chance to make a Nanocyte.

My goal is simple: I want to make clouds that eat people.

The class makes it nice and straightforward for the options on this.
- Faculty is Infestation, obviously.
- I'm using cloud, so the knacks that apply are… Abundant Nanites or Surgical Host. Malignant Mist conflicts pretty strongly with Surgical Host on both a mechanical and thematic level, so it has to be Abundant Nanites.

So, what am I going to do in a fight? Well, let's look at Malignant Mist. When forming the cloud array, I can spend a surge to force a save vs. 1d8 damage once per fight per enemy. That's a point per fight, then. I'll be spamming my reaction to allow one ally per round to avoid the consequences of my specialization.

All right, how many people can we hit with the cloud? Well, it's 2 + Con spaces, and one space needs to be within 10 feet. So… it's basically a 30 foot line unless I'm up in melee range. And it's really bad at diagonals.

Okay… so… what else am I getting out of the cloud? "When you take a guarded step, you can move 10 feet as long as you begin and end this movement adjacent to or within your cloud array." Sorry, but this is nothing. That's… no benefit at all. Reconfiguring the cloud is a move action, and the only benefit the base ability provides is on a move action. And that only does anything if I'm fighting two melee enemies or a reach melee enemy, and I'm ranged.

Okay. So, what about spending for the cloud upgrade? 15% miss chance. That's something, at least. I was looking at line attacks before so I can actually hit people at range, but this would like a wall. I'm spending two surges per combat for this, so I guess Abundant Nanites was going to be necessary anyway. I can set up a wall of nanites and hunker down with a longarm to shoot people. I might do a little extra damage to them if they come to get me.

That's… I mean, that's decent, but that's not what I'm looking for, you know? I want to direct a swarm to go feast on enemies, or even stride into combat with nanites in a hungry cloud around me. There's really not much "feasting"; I can only use this to support a weapon. For a while, it's less a "swarm" and more a "wall" or "line". If I actually move anywhere dramatically, I've gotta spend my standard action moving the nanites. After all, if I ever let the cloud move out of range, I've wasted two surges!

I don't know if my specific desire can be accommodated, or if it's just "wait until you're higher level". It'd be nice to have this supported as a combat style in and of itself. A freer cloud, and the ability to do something like spending standard actions to clear the one minute immunity or something? None of the other faculties support full weapon replacement, though; that's only for Swarm Strike + IUS.

TL;DR I can't fight with a devouring swarm. I have a nibbling line attack that supports my weapon fighting.

So, I went through and started making one of my characters who I'd previously done as a Vanguard. He's got an eldritch oily substance that he can control instead of his blood, so a class that keeps Con-based full BAB with some damage reduction and adds on some versatile uses sounded just right.

Going through, there were a lot of options I was passing up. Cloud was out, any weapons would be melee lashes, etc. And, it looked like it would work decently. Both classes have their pros and cons for representing him. Vanguard maybe felt a little better for building him, because there's less of a technology tie-in.

There's a cool difference, though- in both classes, there were options that I passed up automatically because they didn't fit him. The options I'm passing up in Nanocyte make me want to build other characters. The flavor here is great!

I know it's a rough time for FLGSs everywhere. Looks like my local stuff is canceled, so no curbside for me.

Thanks for putting these together, Paizo! Looks like I'll be waiting for the online releases this time around.

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I was on a thread with some Alchemist complaints, and was writing up my positive experiences, but then I realized my coolest moment with the class was based on a mistake. It bugged me enough to make a thread.

At low levels, I snagged Comprehension Elixir. We ran into an air mephit and were able to use the elixir to understand it for the one-minute duration. This was my coolest moment as a stay-at-home GMPC Alchemist- I provided a useful utility ability that advanced the plot.

But looking back reveals Comprehension Elixir only works for written languages, so we couldn't have understood that character speaking. It also only works for common languages, so it wouldn't have worked on Auran. I feel like planar languages are the bulk of where translation abilities get their use in PF2.

So, let's look at the Comprehend Language spell. It's also Common, so there's no access issue. It's available one level later than Comprehension Elixir, and is on every list but Primal. In return, it works on both written and spoken languages, and it lasts for an hour instead of a minute. It's only one language per casting, but one minute isn't long enough to get any use out of reading multiple languages.

The elixir would cost 7gp. A scroll would cost 12gp. And, if you want to upgrade, a 30gp scroll lets you speak the language as well (5th level item). Meanwhile, the 7th level elixir for 54 gp keeps all its restrictions, and just extends the duration to 10 minutes, still shorter than the spell which now provides three significant upgrades to functionality.

I get that scrolls are more restricted, but comprehension elixir is just riddled with gotchas that make it feel like it will almost never be useful any time I think, "Oh, I have an elixir that lets me comprehend things!" I actually plan on keeping track- I'm going to homebrew the elixir to allow understanding any language, written or spoken. (Just by not telling the players that it doesn't work like we all thought it did.) There will be one preparation of it available every day, because the players like it. For as much of Extinction Curse as I run, I'll keep track of how often the players use it, and whether it could have been used under the actual rules.

We've got a thread for spells already. What magic items would you like to see a PF2 version of?

Personally, I'm just making this thread to mention how much I'd love to see a return of the Migrus Locker. I love this thing. It gives you an intelligent companion that respawns, and does it in a very unsettling way that isn't a power issue in combat. It's useful, it's creepy, and it keeps coming back.

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All right, I just want to walk through this comparison.

Cloistered Cleric vs. Oracle.

I'll be making a simplifying assumption that spontaneous and prepared casting are exactly equal in value.

I'll also be assuming that Cleric can afford to start with 14 in Cha for channeling, and Oracle can afford to start with 14 in Wis for saves.

Level 1:
- Same number of slots per day.
- Both start with a domain spell. Oracle picks the best from two, Cleric picks from four (for now; Droskar getting seven domains indicates Cleric gets more). Let's consider the case where the Cleric's options include the two Oracle gets to pick from. One of those four is the best. Since the Oracle has two of the Cleric's four options, there's a 50% chance that the Cleric has a better domain spell. Since there Cleric has more options, considering the cases with less options only increases the likelihood that the Cleric has a better domain spell (even after subtracting the chance that Oracle has a better one). We'll call this wider range of options a small perk (since you would probably not spend any of your feats just unlocking more domain options).
- Oracle has a second focus spell, giving them a second option to spend this on. Cleric could get a second domain spell with a first-level feat, so Oracle has +1 first-level feat.
- Cleric has divine font for 3 heal/harm castings per day, so Cleric has +3 1st level spells/day.
- Oracle's replacement for focus spells results in 1/day getting an extra focus spell casting in combat. Focus spells are worth less than an equal-level spell slot, so we'll call it 0.75 of a first level spell. But, you can't use this extra casting when you want. It's only the first combat you cast it in. So instead of 0.75 of an extra casting, let's call it 0.5.
- Okay, time to look at curse stuff. Oracle gets a minor curse as soon as they use their focus spells. If you avoid this, you lose out on your focus spells. (Generally worth more than first-level feat, since it includes getting the new pool rather than just introducing an option. If you wanted it on a multiclass, that would be a 4th level feat that people would consider taking.) So, let's treat the minor curse as something that triggers one there's fighting. Concealment at 30+ feet compensated by +2 reflex, increase to heal DC and get healed less compensated by +2 hp, -2 AC/saves if you don't strike compensated by heavy armor (+2 max AC and frees up strength to make the strikes) and a martial weapon group. Concealment at range vs. +2 reflex seems fair (I would take it on some caster characters but not others, if it were offered free). +2 HP vs. harder heal checks and they heal less… At first level, no, but I want to be fair and note that at 2nd it's a better deal (+4 HP for -1 healing), and at 3rd… you can't be healed by an ally using Assurance. Unfair; I would not take this on most casters if offered for free. -2 AC and saves when not attacking vs. +2 max AC, martial weapons, and the stats to melee… hmm. That's +2 AC when attacking, -2 saves when not, and some more melee damage, on a caster. That's… honestly hard to say if I'd take it or not in PF2, where AC matters more. Borderline.
tl;dr for this bullet: Half the Oracle mysteries are neutral once you've had your first combat of the day, half the Oracle mysteries are negative once you've had your first combat. On the whole, the minor curses plus the Oracle mystery benefit are a minor negative. Throw in the extra cantrip, and we'll call the minor curse a wash with the Mystery benefits.
- Casting the focus spells later in the day triggers the moderate curse. Now, we already "paid" for the minor curse, so we only care about the difference in severity. It'll be removable. Battle: Okay, so now it's +1 AC, -1 saves when attacking instead of +2 AC. You heal 1hp/round. That's solidly a negative; 1hp/round doesn't cover that at all. Flames: Concealed -> undetected, everyone is concealed including you (except for fire spell attack rolls). Terrible, terrible trade because of how unfun it is (everybody is concealed to you, but they can still accurately attack your allies while you miss 20% of everything). Life: Go from "hard to heal" to "unhealable", heal for d12s instead of d8s, free healing to allies while casting. The difference there seems okay. Gonna have to call net negative on this, even if Life does okay on this trade. Flames and Battle make such bad trades. Flames feels so bad constantly making rolls to see if their turn did anything. Battle took a fair trade and slashed the benefit side in half, giving back four hitpoints per fight. What's this difference worth? I'm going to look at Battle. You get -1 AC, -1 to all saves while attacking (and we only felt the trade was okay earlier because we assumed almost always attacking). There's a good general feat for +2 to a save, and +1 to AC and +1 to all saves would be better. The others aren't as bad trades, so we'll call it -1 feat.
- Cleric might get a martial weapon vs. a simple weapon.

Adding it up: Cleric gets +3 castings, Oracle gets +0.5 castings. Oracle gets +1 1st-level feat, -1 1st-level feat (and that's +1 weak feat, -1 strong feat).

So, in my opinion, Cleric is ahead by 2.5 castings per day, even odds of a slightly better domain spell, and possibly a better weapon. Oracle is ahead by 1 trained skill.

A big problem is, Oracle is loading negatives onto a their focus spell mechanic, and getting very little in return. Focus spells are a reliable source of power for other caster classes. While Oracle gets enough to compensate them for their minor curse, the only they get in return for a nasty moderate curse is a choice in focus spells to incur it with. In my accounting, I said that it was fair, but when Cleric is picking their domain from twice as many options, it doesn't feel like Oracle focus spells really cut it. And then… they don't get the thing that's supposed to compensate them for having Cleric/Bard/Druid slots instead of Sorcerer/Wizard/Witch slots, other than the hp. They're missing the Cleric's divine font, Bard's inspire courage, and Druid's animal companion. You could bump them up a slot on everything, and I'd consider them a balanced class, if somewhat dry, class.

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Wanted to try my hand at making an investigator in the new system. I've got a PF1 elven investigator that I didn't find terribly satisfying, so we'll see if PF2 makes her a little more exciting.

Cerise had the Spiritualist archetype (which contributed pretty strongly to her being a rather bland character to play). Out of respect for that, we'll avoid alchemy, and see if we can give her decent saves, especially in will. Her inspiration is Ruby from RubyQuest, so bonus points for any of the following: a third eye, ability to fight with a meat hook, having been dead.

As a general note, this will be done in order, no looking back. If we pass up a prerequisite for something nice later, tough luck! That earlier option didn't win on its own merits. We will also usually only consider the current level of class feats, since taking something lower often feels a bit bad after level 2.

Picture of Cerise by a friend.

Level 1:
Investigator gives +2 Int
Elf gives +2 Int, +2 Dex, -2 Con, +2 floating. Investigator's most important stat is Wis, so we'll put the floating score in Wis.
Background: Detective. +2 Wis, +2 Dex
Free choice: +2 Wis, +2 Dex, +2 Con, +2 Str

Final stat array: Str 12, Dex 16, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 10

Background benefits: Trained in Society, Underworld lore, Streetwise skill feat.

Ancestry options: Ancient Elf will let us get a little occult flavor in. Well, it would if we had an Int or Wis occult class available for multiclass, so we'll settle on Wizard. Trained in Arcana, and our cantrips of usual preparation will be Detect Magic and Read Aura. We'll also grab Ancestral Longevity, allowing us to pick up a daily trained skill.

Class: Between Empiricism and Forensic Medicine, I'll go Empiricism. (As a note, this is a point where an occult detective methodology seems like it'd be cool- some divination spell access. The three options are very good, though.) Trained in Society becomes a free choice. Trained in one Int-based skill (Occultism). That leaves 1+6+2 = 9 skills to select; we'll get to that.

Class feats: My favorite first-level feat is covered by Empiricism! Nice. That lets me pick my also-favorite first-level feat, Flexible Studies. We're now picking two trained skills every day, which is awesome.

Trained skills: (Pick five skills of 17 to skip having trained: Performance, Lore, Intimidation, Athletics, Crafting.)
Society, Occultism, Arcana; Acrobatics, Deception, Diplomacy, Medicine, Nature, Religion, Stealth, Survival, Thievery; Underworld Lore.
Flexible picks are generally Crafting and a Lore relevant to the work at hand.

Will use a rapier as her primary weapon.

Level 2:
(For the sake of expedience, we'll be glossing over skill feats and improvements. While those are a big part of the class's kit, they also take up a lot of time. Cerise will delve into the occult, and maintain her various social skills. She will probably take advantage of both Underground Network and Biographical Eye from the new skill feats.)

Class feat: Framing Case, no question. This allows selecting the intended "boss" for the day without worrying about needing to drop it for other things.

Level 3:
General feat: Great Fortitude (I forget the exact name). We get Lesser Bardic Knowledge at this level. (Does this always get us the lower DC of the appropriate Lore? With the number of skills we have trained, it's not doing much otherwise. But, Skillful Lessons is the star of this level, so we don't expect much from whatever accompanies it.)

Level 4:
Class feat: Detective's Will, as we told ourselves we'd focus on Cerise's saves. Guided Observation would be a disappointment to take, although Predictive Purchase is tempting.

Level 5:
Lots of nice stuff! We get more studied damage, our accuracy goes up, we get an ancestry feat, and we get our ability boosts.

Ancestry feat: Elven Instincts or Ageless Patience.

Stat boosts: Wis, Con, Dex, Int (in that priority).

Level 6:
Class feat: Ongoing Investigation, for constant multitasking. With On the Scene pointing stuff out for us, we have an easier time justifying Investigate over Search, and we can also do both at the same time if we want.

Level 7:
Yay, more Perception and damage! General feat is probably Expeditious Search.

Level 8:
Class feat: Blind-Fight, no question. Clue Them All In feels like a big waste of a feat, and I wouldn't take it at level 1 if it were offered. Blind-Fight is pretty cool, giving a number of nice benefits and definitely encouraging the carrying of some paint.

Level 9:
Awwww yeah, Expert Longevity! That's one flexible expert skill every day. We also need to retrain our level 3 General Feat, because we now get expert Fort from our class. Toughness sounds like a good idea. Take the Case increases to +2, helping our investigations and some will saves. Plus, to top it off, we get more Studied Strike damage!

Level 10:
Class feat: Ooh, a difficult choice. Just One More Thing is stylish, and helpful for social situations. Suspect of Opportunity saves one action per round on one fight every hour. Sweeping Study gives ~20% of the benefit of Studied Strike on failed checks. We'll go with Suspect of Opportunity, because saving the Study Suspect is a really big deal.

Stat boosts: Boosting Wis or Dex doesn't help us for another five levels. This decision will suck at level 15, but it's time to switch to Str and Cha. +Con, +Int, +Cha, +Str.

Level 11:
Deductive Improvisation is… not doing much for this character. With a flexible Expert and Trained every day, and with checks not usually being gated by proficiency beyond trained, this is just kind of there. +2 to will saves, and successes are crit successes? That's enough to be excited about!

General Feat: With no general feats coming online that the character qualifies, this will be something small that was skipped over earlier. Wish I could spend a general feat on a first-level class feat.

Level 12:
Class Feat: I'm not taking Reason Rapidly. When do I need to make more than one Recall Knowledge in combat? I'd be much better off taking the level 1 feat Known Weakness to let me combine Recall Knowledge and Study Suspect! Let's see if Foresee Danger benefits me with any regularity- Dex and Wis are the same, Trained vs. Master proficiency. My armor gives… +1 base, +2 from magic. So, I get +1 AC as a reaction and negate AC penalties. Next level armor goes to expert, but Perception goes to Legendary. This feels like it's balanced well with the level 1 Rogue reaction for +2 AC against one attack, which is enough that I'm not going to feel very good taking it. On top of that, this directly conflicts with my level 10 choice, as it's a reaction with a very similar trigger.

Level 12 is the first level where I don't want any of the class feats- they're usually giving a worse-than-level-1 benefit, with the possibility of shining on rare occasions. Time to take Just One More Thing, my second-place 10th level choice.

Suggestion: I feel a much more fitting perk for Reason Rapidly would be rolling Recall Knowledge on all observable enemies as part of initiative (with the same restriction that you can't use reactions and free action perks). I'd take Foresee Danger if it applied to attacks by them until the start of my turn, since then it's not inferior to a level 1 Rogue feat even with (currently) maxed Wis bonus.

Level 13:
+2 AC! +2 Attack! Legendary Perception! More precision damage! Also, Universal Longevity ancestry feat allows shuffling skills in the middle of the day! What a level, folks.

Level 14:
All right, back to some good stuff. Plot the Future is… yeah, I'm taking that. Sense the Unseen is tempting with Blind Fight. Studied Bypass is, let's see… +4 damage if it's being reduced? Maybe try to take advantage and get magical painbow rapier? That's decent. But Plot the Future is at-will GM consultation and practically psychic. Super cool!

Level 15:
Evasion and +3 damage make this a very satisfying level. Don't know what I'll do with a general feat at this level, since we already get a skill feat to use on our legendary skill advancement. Hopefully we get some more legendary skill feats in the APG! Also, now we pay the piper when it comes to skill boosts: we have three 18s. Retroactively, probably good to take the one of the Cha, Int, or Str boosts and put it into Wis.

Level 16:
Implausible Purchase would be pretty nice, but we don't qualify. Didactic Strike is nice, even if it only works on crits. Let's go with that.

Level 17:
Great Resolve! Heck yeah, will saves for daaayyyysssss. Plus, more precision damage! Ancestry feat is gonna be grabbing from some lower level options.

Level 18:
Class feat: Fun choices here! Reconstruct the Scene really does feel like it ought to be lower, though. Might be good to slot into that level 12 gap? Trickster's Ace fits the character very well, though, so we'll go with that.

Level 19:
+2 AC, something about Clue In (I just… don't care about that feature at all), use legendary skill uses if you have mastery (I can't see that ever applying), and Investigator DC (not being used for anything) goes to master.


+2 AC, mostly? (At levels 15-20, though, the extra skill increases are are their most valuable, so I get it, but Master Detective doesn't make Cerise better at anything except helping her allies on the knowledge checks she herself fails.)

Level 20:
Capstone: Looks like I don't have a choice, because Infallible Research has a level 6 prereq I don't have. Can it just… not? What's the point in locking it up, when the level 6 option is a nice addition to the capstone but isn't being added on to?

Whoa. Both capstones have a prereq? That's a bit of a problem. If you don't select either of those, you don't get a capstone.

Anyway, Everyone's a Suspect is… well, it's nice in some situations, but I'm mainly interested in Take the Case on somebody to save me an action in combat, and there's not much synergy with interacting for a minute. I've already got a decent option to get that perk, so this capstone is mostly just saving me a minute when I want to get +2 on a check to investigate somebody I met? Plus, this is level twenty! At the very least, I feel like this should allow some much-expedited combat studying.

The Good:
Low and mid levels are almost all very exciting! Lots of cool abilities that felt powerful and flavorful without being things I would feel ought to be available to any class. I pretty much always felt happy with what I got at a level, whether it was even or odd. Great job!

The Meh:
I don't care about anything that builds on Clue In. The ability itself is fine, but it's just a small perk.

Investigator cares about intelligence as much as a bard does.

The Ugly:
The highest levels (19, 20) really lack the satisfaction that other classes get. They focus on the class's core mechanics, which boil down to +2 on certain skill checks and some damage compensation. Those are good, but just removing some of the restrictions on when you get those is a very dry way to close out the game.

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Battle Oracle gets Divine Lance, but doesn't have a deity to key the alignment too. If it operates off of your alignment instead, it should still probably get something for neutral Oracles.

Moving over to just buying the PDFs.

Thank you!

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All right, here we go! I have the physical copy of the rule book. I'm not the type of guy who can sit down and read it cover-to-cover, so let's make a character!

The concept: Peter Caligat is a studious human man whose skin induces hypnotic suggestibility in people. He uses handshakes to win people over. He follows a strong personal code of ethics, but is ultimately interested in tapping ancient power for his own uses. Peter has a talking cat familiar named Tuna, who always refers to him as "Boss". "Yeah, Boss!" "Sure thing, Boss!" "Uhh, Boss?" Tuna is very loyal and friendly cat, and has his own entirely non-magical charm.

Class: Since Peter has been built as a Wizard in both PF1 and 5e, he will be built as such here.

Ancestry: Human, of course. We can rule out half-elf and half-orc heritages, leaving Versatile and Skilled. Because we have a lot of starting skills from Int as a Wizard, we'll go with Versatile (get a general feat). We'll select that at the end. For our ancestry feat, let's grab another wizard feat. We won't really need it; Wizard's gets a ton of stuff at first level.

Background: Peter is a scholar in his background, so we'll go with Scholar. It grants training in Arcana, Nature, Occultism, or Religion, and the associated Assurance feat. Arcana might seem like the obvious choice, but Peter's research tends towards the occult and religious. In the end, Assurance does less on skills you've got a high ability score bonus on, so we'll pick Religion. Now, he can breezily recount the myth of one of Lamashtu's lovers, now buried beneath a mountain, whose power he seeks to seize.

Quick stop to tally ability scores:
Class: Int
Ancestry: Int, Dex
Background: Int, Cha
Free: Int, Dex, Cha, Con

Class: Wizard, as mentioned. His thesis is "Applications of Anthropomorphism in Familiar Bond Catalyzation: How Talking To Your Cat Helps Them Talk Back", since studying myths is usually left to bards. This gets Peter Tuna, and gets Tuna an extra daily familiar ability choice. Enchantment school, of course. A point of focus gets Peter a one-action enchantment to keep an opponent from harming him for a turn. Thanks to human, we get two feats. Let's grab Counterspell and Reach Spell. If we wanted to, we could skip one of these, grab the Familiar feat, and switch the thesis to something to do with spell prep, but Tuna's spending one familiar ability every day on talking, so let's get ourselves the extra abilities for focus regen and another cantrip, or maybe some defense. We don't have our handshake yet, so levels 2 and 4 will need to go towards Conceal Spell and Silent Spell.

What about that general feat? Well, the biggest thing Peter still needs is some focus on Diplomacy. Looking at the options, Glad-Hand seems like the only one really suited, and we'll need to wait until third level for that one. Let's take the opportunity to beef up our stats with Canny Acumen to raise Fortitude to Expert. We can retrain later into Toughness once Wizard grants Expert Fortitude.

It's getting late, but I might do some leveling or spells another time.

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I'm curious about how the different categories of conditions work out. I'll be noting if a condition is new, old, or has an equivalent.

Not for PCs:
Broken (Old)
Helpful (Old)
Friendly (Old)
Indifferent (Old)
Unfriendly (Old)
Hostile (Old)

Blinded (Old)
Dazzled (Old)
Deafened (Old)

Concealed (Old)
Hidden (Old)
Invisible (Old)
Observed (Old)
Undetected (Old)

Ability Scores:
Clumsy (Equivalent- Dex penalty/damage/drain)
Drained (Equivalent- Con penalty/damage/drain)
Enfeebled (Equivalent- Str penalty/damage/drain)
Stupefied (Equivalent- Cha/Wis/Int penalty/damage/drain)

Confused (Old)
Controlled (Old- wasn't a condition)
Fascinated (Old)
Fleeing (Equivalent- Panicked)
Frightened (Equivalent- Shaken)
Stunned (Old)

Martial Combat:
Grabbed (Equivalent- Grappled)
Restrained (Equivalent- Pinned)
Flat-Footed (Old)
Prone (Old)

Dying Rules:
Doomed (New- same design space as negative levels)
Dying (Old)
Unconscious (Old)
Wounded (New)

Encumbered (Old)
Immobilized (Equivalent- Entangled)
Paralyzed (Old)

Fatigued (Old)
Persistent Damage (Equivalent- Bleed)
Petrified (Old)
Quickened (Equivalent- "effects that grant an extra attack", wasn't a condition)
Sickened (Old)
Slowed (Equivalent- Staggered)

So, of the conditions, we only have two that could really be considered new- both for the new dying rules, and one of which also replaces negative levels in terms of its design space.

Meanwhile, we've cleaned up dazed, negative levels, ability penalty/drain, panicked, cowering, and disabled from the old dying rules.

With the content coming out later, I'll be switching to PDF for these.


There was a lot of discussion over what constitutes meaningful customization, and I personally think PF2 has quite a bit of it- at least, comparing CRB to playtest CRB.

To me, meaningful customization is anything that allows my character to stand out as memorable or unique in some fashion (so long as its not "memorably bad").

- "Ancestry plus class" is the most basic form.
- The path your class takes is pretty significant for the overall effect, so we can add that in. (If you're a bard, barbarian, druid, etc., people are going to want to know what kind, much like wanting to know if you took an archetype in PF1.)
- Heritage and background can count, but don't always. They're not necessarily significant, but humans get significant heritages, and bleachling vs. non-bleachling stands out for gnomes. Backgrounds only count if you've got a character that actually plays into their background. (A fighter who used to work at a tavern and a fighter who used to work at a circus could be very different, or their past could be glossed over.) That's borrowing some from the significance of a character's backstory, though.
- Ancestry feats count. A gnome bard with a songbird familiar, an elven fighter whose long life allows them to recall skills, etc.
- Multiclass feats count. Personally, I would say even more so than PF1 multiclassing, because picking something like rogue/cleric doesn't mean sucking at both anymore. Now your cleric of Norgober can actually emulate their patron.
- Class feats count. This is where your fighting style and tricks are coming from.
- I'd probably count skills and skill feats together on this one. Fighter who invests in medicine? Eh… might not really stick out, even with the large bonuses. But once you throw in some actual healing, it sticks out more.
- General feats are where a lot of "get better numbers" stuff ended up, and that's okay. It keeps it from getting mixed in with other stuff.

Next month is a map pack instead of a campaign setting book, so I'd like to be canceled for that.


Figured I'd give this a shot! I've got a character who up until now hasn't been very easy to represent in Starfinder. Vanguard might be a better fit, so let's see!

- Looks human.
- Has black oil instead of his blood. He can control that oil, and produces it quickly.
- Is lazy and hasn't studied much.
- Pretty good at chemistry and biology.
- Knows enough computer stuff to make a mildly-unethical-but-legal living.
- Really weak-willed, and a sucker for monstrous women.
- A good cook.
- A charmer.

Nice to have build elements:
- Any of the external tricks he can do with his oil: climb speed, tentacles, etc.
- Incredibly hard to kill.
- Ludicrous Con score and stamina (both the game term and stuff that requires Con checks).
- Immunity to diseases and/or poisons from weird biology.
- Any of his signature skills: Cooking, chemistry, biology, schmoozing aliens and monsters, computers.
- Low wisdom and intelligence, good physical stats and charisma. Zack's a fool and a tool, but being able to control his blood while it's inside him makes him pretty strong and fast by means of self-puppeteering.
- Able to shrug off damage (especially physical) like it's nothing.

Okay, here we go!
Level 1:
Race: Human is the obvious choice here. I don't really have time to hunt through things that look human but reflect him better. The extra skill point is good for dumping Int, and the extra feat will allow for something like Toughness.

Theme: Xenoseeker is the one to beat here, since being able to hit on aliens despite a language barrier is a neat trick. So, let's take a look! Biotechnician's discount on bio implants is nice for building some of Zack's elements, but the Int focus and flavor aren't a great fit. He's a hobbyist biologist at best, not an actual lab worker. Cultist is actually pretty funny for him… not as good of a fit generally, but if the game features cults of an fitting entity, this is a good option. Xenoseeker it is!

Skills: 6 skills is great! With the one from human, we should be good with 10 Int. Class skills: Life Science, Medicine, Culture, Diplomacy… looking great! We'll progress Profession(Computer Services Huckster) as a Cha-based option for his work, and steal a rank from Medicine for a token rank in Computers. That leaves Acrobatics and Athletics. Chemistry is probably rolled in with Physical Science, sadly, so we'll just be leaving that one be, and sticking with biochem. Maybe trade Medicine for Bluff?

Saves: Bad will saves are a feature here. We'll see what can be done about them through other means later. Good Fort and Ref sounds good, though.

- Con as a key ability score is great.
- Entropic Pool: Getting hit at this level means a boost to AC. Nice, nice. Not being able to get points out of combat is sad, though, as is not being able to get points from a friendly creature's attack. Zack can't show off his powers to somebody, use them recreationally, in response to the environment, or for roleplaying purposes? Only combat? I'd like to suggest that outside of combat, points last until you gain or recover stamina or HP through any means, or maybe they only last for a minute.
- Entropic Strike: Con to damage? Heck yeah! The block property is a little weird for not stacking with the basic Entropic Pool effect, but it does mean that regardless of who hits whom, there's an AC boost. I get the reasoning behind tying the strike to weapons, I don't want to ruin the flavor by running around with a weapon just to modify my strikes. But that's fair- I save money, and miss out on ranged attacks, etc.
- Primary Vanguard Aspect: All right, getting to the weird philosophical stuff for the class. Let's go take a look. Before looking at them, I think the most relevant maneuvers are, in descending order: grapple, trip, and disarm. Dirty Trick would be included if it did anything. Skills are those already listed.
-- Adiabatic: Grapple and diplomacy? Awesome! … Generate entropy by not moving for two turns. On a melee class. I feel like I have to discard this for any game at 4+, because the extra way to generate entropy is so important. Aspect Finale is a good fit again, but that's 16+.
-- Boundary: Sunder? Ugh, just because I don't use equipment doesn't mean nobody should get to. With items only selling for 10%, though, maybe it's okay? The Perception bonus reminds me that I forgot to pay the Perception skill tax- I'll probably stick with it, though. Good way to generate EP, though.
-- Cascade: See above for Sunder. Acrobatics is more relevant to me. We'll have to see if I have AoE attack roll options?
-- Exergy: Bull rush and not one of his skills? Skip. That method for generating EP is one of the best on a melee class, though…
-- Inevitable: Bull rush with a relevant skill… but you generate points by actually using bull rush. Skip.
-- Inversion: Reposition isn't relevant to me, but medicine is. Hmm… possibly a decent EP option, depending on if I can find anything fitting for internal stamina regen.
-- Momentum: Bull rush again? Culture is good, though. EP by just… moving. Umm. Not great…?
-- Reaction: Dirty trick doesn't do anything (standard action for a chance to cost somebody a move), and Physical Science… but it's tied to chemistry, so that might convince me to switch Medicine. EP on condition infliction is decent, although actually using dirty trick to accomplish that seems like a waste.
Overall: This feature ties together a lot of unrelated things. My skill specialization is tied to my combat maneuver, which is tied to how I get EP. Chances are good I'll have to pick based on one of those, and disappointed in the other two isn't a good experience. To me, getting EP without using the outrageous exchange rates of "give up your crit for 1" or "spend one resolve for 1" is the most important, so my level one experience is "get two things you don't care about so that you don't feel bad from level 4 onward". Conclusion: if I think the game is going to die before it reaches level 4, take Adiabatic, and if I'm wrong, around level 3 tell the GM that I'm rethinking that choice and ask to change it. If I think we're going to hit level 4, though, go with Boundary or Exergy, unless I can get swift or reaction healing (Inversion) or a good way to inflict statuses (Reaction). For the purposes of this build, we're going with Boundary to start with.
Feats: Human means a low Dex if I still want to max Con. I should consider attack and defense boosters. Close Combat, Toughness, Weapon Focus, Spellbane. We'll go with Toughness and Spellbane, although passing up Close Combat is a shame. If Toughness didn't give a bonus to all sorts of Con and fort checks, or if Spellbane didn't address a poor will save while also boosting fort and ref saves, I'd be making another choice.

Zack Caligat, Xenoseeker Human Vanguard (Boundary) 1
Stats: 10 Str, 14 Dex, 18 Con, 10 Int, 10 Wis, 11 Cha
HP: 12, Stamina: 13
Skills: Acrobatics 1, Athletics 1, Computers 1, Culture 1, Diplomacy 1, Life Science 1, Profession (Computer Services Huckster) 1
Feats: Toughess, Spellbane
Attacks: Entropic Strike +3 vs. EAC (1d3+4) Bludgeoning and/or Acid

Level 2:
Mitigate: I really love this! Damage reduction is one of my favorite things to get Now we can start spending that EP. If we run out of stamina, we use these to protect HP.
Vanguard Discipline:
- Controlled Mental Degradation: Nice, a way to mitigate certain combat enchantments without protecting him from charm effects. The catch is… you can only use it when you're first hit. If they get you before you've taken damage, this doesn't do you any good. Too circumstantial? Hmm, maybe.
- Curative Deconstruction: Poison and disease resistance in one go, with no EP cost! Nice thematically, even if it's not mechanically a high priority with his saves.
- Evasion: An EP-free way to reduce damage taken? Nice!
- Friendly Fire: Love this, reducing friendly AoE with no cost.
- Systems Knowledge: Oh, pretty cool, a skill ability! Only usable 1/day out of combat, and only if you haven't needed it in combat (since you can't opt to spend the EP in combat if you haven't used it that day).
- Noteworthy skips include Flatten Bullets (a good mechanical fit, but I'd rather not be in heavy armor), Metabolic Stability (Diehard isn't worth spending anything on, especially with so much health/stamina)
Overall: Good selection! I feel like Controlled Mental Degradation is the price I pay for not wanting a good Wis score, but I can pay that at level 4. Level 2 is a flavor choice between Systems Knowledge (for skill focused), Curative Deconstruction (for flavor), and Evasion (the best of my selections mechanically).

Level 3:
Reactive: A nice perk, even if we can't use it for much yet. It does work nicely with Step Up, though.
Feat: Well, we can take Close Combat now if we want, but an extra reaction also makes Step Up very tempting (as about half the benefit of the benefit of Step Up and Strike is included). Our next feat will be at 5, when the good feats start. However, Reactive is limited per day, so we'll go with the more defensive and more consistent use option of Close Combat for now.
+ 3.5 damage is nice!

Level 4:
Vanguard Discipline: Spoken for already- Mental Degradation, as a result of my choice to neglect Wis.
Aspect Embodiment: The first miss now gives one EP. Nice! Looks like Evasion would be a pretty good choice, and I don't feel strongly about Systems Knowledge. We'll be counting on good Fort saves to give us the flavor of resistance to poison and disease for now, though.

Level 5:
Stat boosts: Sweet, sweet stat boosts! The long wait always makes me miss PF2's stat generation method. Str, Dex, and Cha all get +2, while Con gets +1.
Feat: Enhanced Resistance for DR! Zack finally gets a reliable means of reducing damage. Full BAB is great for this.
Entropic attunement: Ooh, plenty of options here. Extinguish and Gravitation can be discarded out of hand as being too pricey.
- Extinguish. One EP per attack? No thanks.
- Gravitation. Move a target towards me with a melee attacks, and pay for it? No thanks.
- Breach. I'd love this, but since it can't be used outside of combat, no thanks. Opening doors in a fight almost requires the GM to set a perfect scenario up for this to be worth having.
- Feint. Eh…
- Force. This one is neat.
- Penetrating. This would be nice to be able to use outside of combat, but bonus damage against constructs is nice, and I think it's a good flavor fit too (with an oil attack seeping through). Picking this one, but again, requesting a way to get EP for use outside of combat.
+1 damage is nice!

Level 6:
+3.5 damage is nice!
Vanguard Discipline:
- Energize: Oh man, this is amazing! Get EP and reduce damage once per short rest? That's what I'm here for!
- Uh. That's it. Blindsense is cool, but I really can't think of a thematic reason for the character to have it. Vanguard Ferocity is something I'd take and be happy about flavor-wise, but I'd rather have a third level 2 ability over an ability that only triggers on hitting 0 hp (unless it lets my stabilize for free).

Level 7:
Feat: Climbing Master gives me that climb speed I wanted.
Uncanny Agility: Nice, circumstantial AC bonuses. I won't look a gift horse in the mouth, as this isn't the only feature for the level.
Entropic attunement, redux: Ooh, crit effects! Knockdown, staggered, and scaling corrosive. Honestly, all good; I could go with any of these.

Level 8:
+2 damage is nice!
Vanguard Discipline:
- Vanguard Ferocity is flavorful. I have a lot of health, though.
- Looks like here is where it's time to take that Curative Deconstruction.
Secondary Vanguard aspect (insight): Will the game reach level 17? … Honestly, that's not as much of a concern, I think, so I can pick just for the maneuver and skill. Adiabatic it is, unless I really need a better culture modifier.

Level 9:
+1.5 damage is nice!
Reactive for a second time per day.
Feat: Kind of running out of ones I really want in order to accomplish character build goals, but there are plenty of things like Weapon Focus, Extra Resolve, Step Up (especially with a second Reactive), skill feats, etc. I'm going to stop including feats on my listings now, though, because they're not very important.

Level 10:
+2 damage (from Str) is nice!
Stat boosts: Sweet, sweet stat boosts! Same as before, bump everything but Int and Wis.
Improved exchange rate from resolve to EP: At this point, I'm pretty happy to spend a point of resolve in the opening round.
Entropic Attunement (reach): Whoa, nice! I like it.
Vanguard Disipline:
- Improved Evasion: Nice, solid upgrade. Taking this one!
- Road Hazard: Okay, this is mostly just style. But it's a lot of style.
- Clothesline: Cool, but would be nicer with a trip aspect. As it stands, it wants two feats Improved Maneuver (Trip) and Step Up.
- The other stuff… Blindsight is great, but not the character's style, and Drain Heat is decent but eliminated for style reasons as well. Break Fall really feels like a shame; it's substantially worse than a level 1 spell that most casters know because it's the undercast version of one of the most useful spells in the game.

Level 11:
+2 damage is nice!
Flashing Strikes: All right, I'll think about making full attacks.

Level 12:
+1.5 damage is nice!
Aspect Catalyst: Completely forgot about this. Let's see what I get… Oh, that's right, the catalysts are a cool idea, and nicely implemented. Looks like… allies get to use Mitigate. Ooh, I like it! The improved version where everybody gets twos is nice because it gives you something to use after its drained all your EP. This is the first time I've felt really happy and satisfied with my aspect choice.
Vanguard Discipline: Clothesline on this one, probably. It also speaks for level 9 and 11 feats, possibly Step Up and Strike at 13. Road Hazard is acceptable for style points.

Level 13:
+3.5 damage is nice!
Attunement: Better reach and 2 EP for blast (20ft.) Nice! Both pretty cool.

Level 14:
+3.5 damage is nice!
Vanguard Discipline:
- Arrest: Hmm. I think I'd prefer attacking. The level 18 upgrade is nice. Any chance this can get some damage or something, Black Tentacles style?
- Poison Inured: Hey, poison immmunity! Good flavor choice for my character, and the radiation resistance is a nice addition. Presumably, reducing medium radiation to light doesn't make you immune to it, though.
- Quick Quaff: Wut. Level 14, and we get quick draw for serums? Whatever, there are other options.
- Reflexive Shield: Hmm. A weaker version of Mitigate, but it works on allies, you can spend extra to further reduce it, and you can still gain EP if you don't reduce it enough. That said, it reduces AoE attacks for everybody. Yeah, I'd say this is nice to have.
Conclusion- Not sure on the oder, but Reflexive Shield and Poison Inured.

Level 15:
Stat boosts: Sweet, sweet stat boosts! Unless the game is going to see much level 20 play, it might be time to consider boosting Int and Wis instead of Dex and Con.
+3.5 damage is nice!
Reactive +1/day. Good to get- by now, even my build has a lot of things that could use this.
Uncanny speed: Oh wow, this is really nice! Movement during a full attack.

Level 16:
+3.5 damage is nice!
Aspect Finale: I don't really expect to reach this point of the game, but let's see what we get for it. Oh, excellent! Mitigate is one of my favorite tools, and having it last all turn is great! Boundary seems like a great fit overall; it's just a shame that the unrelated level 1 features don't do anything for the character.
Entropic Attunement: more reach, bigger blast, free AoE attack. Man, that's nice- very stylish too.
Vanguard discipline: We're just picking up whatever we didn't get at 14, Poison Inured or Reflexive Shield. Neither are going to do a whole lot over these last couple levels, at least with Boundary and Curative Deconstruction.

Level 17:
+3.5 damage is nice!
Second Aspect Embodiment: Probably useless. I took the first part nine levels ago, with incentive to select something where I didn't care about this. In my case, I get an EP for standing still for two rounds on a melee build that moves as a reaction. It would effectively be a dead feature.

Level 18:
+3.5 damage is nice!
Vanguard Discipline:
- Absolute Zero: Hmm. Interesting. Not something my character would take (cold damage isn't really on-theme), but it's… interesting.
- Internal Resevoir: Oh wow… I mean, this is what I wanted, a way to use abilities outside of combat. But… waiting until 18? It's nice that it's free with a short rest, at least. I'd still take it, but it feels like a tax just to get around the weird limitations the class encounters.
- Living Effigy: Nice! … Also not something that fits the flavor with its other energy damage. But, the only time that matters is level 20.

Level 19
+3.5 damage is nice!
Agent of Change: Awwwwww yeah! 3 EP to start combat with? *chef kiss*
Entropic Attunement: More reach, bigger blast, and… another level 5 ability. Flexible crit effect is nice, though. Really, though, Agent of Change is the star of the show, and would definitely stand on its own.

Level 20
Stat boosts: Just wrapping everything up here.
+3.5 damage is nice!
Invulnerability: Wow. One fight per day, no conditions, no crits, all the reactions you could possibly use, and no weapon bonuses against you.
Vanguard Discipline: If I actually reached here, I'd be a little sad about needing to suddenly take a fire or cold energy damage option. Not actually concerned, but just providing that feedback.

Other stuff:
Not needing to spend money on a weapon is nice. More money for armor, bio-enhancements, and the like. Of course, needing a way to reach opponents is pretty big, so that's its own expenditure. Don't really have time for shopping analysis, though.

Overall, very solid improvement to my ability to represent Zack in Starfinder.
- Good niche. Full BAB defensive class, gets good skills, Con focus.
- Doesn't need to spend a bunch on weapons.
- Good range of defense choices.
- Catalysts are great.
- For this build, a couple points where disciplines ran a little dry. Only level 18 had nothing that didn't contribute to the character concept, though.
- Some space dedicated to disciplines that feel pretty weak for their level. Partial fall damage reduction at level 10,
- Aspect Insight at level 1 doesn't really tie to the aspect, so picking something you like for your character career gives you stuff you don't care about at level 1.
- Combat-only abilities, especially ones that are primarily useful out of combat. In general, though, you should be able to creatively apply combat abilities; evocations aren't restricted to combat even though they're mostly useful there.

I noticed while looking over Biohacker that it's got some similarities to Operative. 3/4 BAB class with built-in debuffing.

I'm going to make the following assumption in my comparison: you can ignore theorems and exploits in the comparison. They're both traded by archetypes, and if any particular exploit or theorem is needed to make the chassis competitive, it's too much of a tax. I'm also only looking at Int-based Biohacker, as it's the most comparable. I'm still bringing a hefty amount of bias to the table, so get your grains of salt ready.

Level 1:
Operative: 10-12 skills, Dex primary, +1 to skills, trick attack (~55% for +1d4, +2 attack), two good saves (one of which is beastly)
Damage: 1d4 + 55% of 1d4

Biohacker: 10 skills, Int primary, +4 to Perception/Sense Motive, +1 to attack, basically two good saves (and starts with effective +2 will), 5/day debuff for two rounds of -2 AC or a couple other options, or +2 to skills for a couple rounds. Plus, a cool scanner.
Damage: 1d6

Wow! That's WAY closer than I thought! The ability to use Int for will saves and the two Wis skills means you can be as skill-focused as a Dex-focused Operative. You've got a more reliable attack bonus, but you're stuck with worse weapons. You're more party-friendly, but stuff like your skill bonus is very limited in time. Your combat abilities are limited use, but trick attack has a limited chance of success.

Level 5:
Operative: Now doing serious damage, gets a fancy ability. Now provides 1-round debuffs on the level of what Biohacker's defaults are. Also, evasion, bonus move speed, and another +1 to all skills.
Damage: 1d8 + 2 + 55% of 3d8

Biohacker: Biohacker gets a 1/day super-debuff, and no longer has to worry so much about running out. Breakthroughs are mostly circumstantial, but the free use is good. If you want to load up the party, though, you're going to be spending down the durations of other ones pretty hard. Is it a problem for them to last long enough to generally assume they're up? Probably so, they'd need to knock down some of those bonuses hard.
Damage: 1d6 + 2

Biohacker is getting a little nervous now. Operative gets in on helping the party in combat, and Trick Attack is dishing out a lot of damage when it's successful. Biohacker has more uses of their injections, though, while Operative still has ~55-60% chance of succeeding at trick attack. Biohacker also has a possibly useful breakthrough at-will, and a 1/day ability.

How much better is Biohacker at debuffing? Sickened vs. off-target is probably a good example. -2 to hit is probably about the same as -2 to saves, and skills/damage aren't as big a deal. So, the debuff is about twice as good, and lasts longer (but takes resources to renew). Operative is about twice as good at damage, from the looks of things, so we're still okay.

Level 10:
Operative: Trick Attack is stronger, now effectively guaranteed. More movement, better skills. Is triple attack good? I don't know the math.
Damage: 2d6 + 5 + 5d8

Biohacker: Biohacker is now 2/day on the double debuff, gets a very, very small improvement to the scanner, gets another set of injections, and gains +1 attack.
Damage: 2d6 + 5

Here's where it seems like Biohacker really starts falling behind. Operative is more than twice as good at damage, and Biohacker is still only twice as good at debuffing. The duration doesn't matter much anymore, with Operative refreshing every hit.

Almost everything an Operative gets scales in power. Biohacker scales in options and uses, but a given round doesn't get more powerful outside of the accuracy bonus. That accuracy difference disappears when you give Operative an energy weapon (reflected in the damage), and with Trick Attack resolving against flat-footed AC.

Biohacker has more options, and nearly as many skills, so they probably shouldn't be doing as much damage as the Operative. But… as of level 7, Operative is doing way more damage, on top of being more mobile and doing about half as well at debuffing enemies. Biohacker's breakthroughs can be considered comparable to the 5th and 11th level unlocks of Operative. It feels to me like Biohacker needs to spend theorems just to avoid falling too far behind Oparative's chassis.

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The core class feature is short-lived injections, lasting two to four rounds, eventually reaching four to nine rounds at level 20.

Every field of study gives you two injections that last a couple of rounds, and one injection that lasts a minute to an hour (with one exception to suppress diseases).

Your capstone has two "undo a condition" options, one instant damage option, and a one-hour duration option.

Biohacker theorems are where we get some options, so lets dig in!
2nd level:
- Aquatic Adaptation. (Although your old armor could let you breathe while underwater, but it probably isn't set up to let you breathe on land? The lack of amphibious really hurts this, as you have to wait right at the edge of the water for both ends of the switch.) That's definitely hacking biology, even if it's hours duration.
- Strange Anatomy. Not glamorous, but it's definitely a modification to yourself.
- Toxic Skin. (Expect arguments over armor.)
Assessment: Good! Enough to take biohacking stuff until the next batch of options. I'm kind of missing Alchemist's really out-there options, though. Grow a familiar on your body, add some arms, that kind of thing. Let's see if later levels give us more.

8th level:
Augmentation Upgrade. I missed this on a first glance- glad there's something that interacts with biotech mods. I feel like it would be nice to allow a free low-level mod if you don't already have one in there, or maybe a discount? I'm not sure how this should compare with Geneturge.
Assessment: Bad. There's only one biohacking option, and it's only useful to let you spend money on something. This is where it seems to really stop feeling like a biohacker. (As an added note, all this injections focus makes stuff like Quick Load feel mandatory and like it should be baked into the class. If you're going to make a class centered around short debuffs on low-damage weapons, I feel like you should give them the ability to use those together in combat without spending one of their options.)

14th level:
Liquid Bravery: Maybe? The flavor behind it as a side effect of everything else you've chugged rather than some sort of intentional neural tampering steals the thunder from this.
Assessment: Bad. This is as high as it goes, and the only self-modification is made to feel like an accident.

I may be holding the class to unreasonable standards for the start. You can spend half your theorems on hacking yourself, and we'll have more later. My major concern is how required you are to spend theorems to use your class features in combat. If you don't spend anything, it seems like your expected combat is six shots, 30 ft. range, with reduced damage, imposing one of six planned penalties each time.

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