Mor Aldenn: The Clockworker (PFRPG) PDF

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The art of clockwork has been around for a long time, artisans creating complex timepieces and locks with elegant machinery. So too has the mystic work of golemcraft been done by wizards for untold ages.

Though a recent development, the clockworker is an innovator that fuses the mechanical science with magic, to create a complex and capable clockwork servant and many more mechanical wonders.

Clockworkers explore the science of golemcraft as they adventure, using their mechanical companion in dangerous situations not only to overcome these obstacles but to observe the machine's performance and know how to improve it. While not as powerful a spellcaster as a wizard, the clockworker and companion are a team that can accomplish much together.

This is a new PFRPG base class, written by M. J. Nixon, editing and additional writing by Thomas Baumbach, cover by Felipe Gaona and interior artwork by Richard Chaplin.

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Great idea for a class that NEEDS a revision to make the concept work

2/5

This pdf is 20 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page editorial, 3/4 of a page SRD, leaving 17 3/4 pages of content, so let's check this Clockworker out, shall we?

This base-class is interesting in that it not only makes for an interesting addition to the Mor Aldenn setting ( I wasn't aware of steam-punkish elements until now), but also in that it provides an alternative to the Summoner that features a different approaches to the base mechanic utilized by the Summoner.

The Clockworker gets d8, 4+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB progression, good ref-saves, arcane spell progression up to the 6th level from his schematics portfolio (like a wizard's spellbook), the ability to cast with spell failure in light armor, spontaneously convert his spells into mending spells and trapfinding, making the Clockworker a valid replacement for the rogue with regards to traps and the disposal of them The Clockworker has two true signature abilities, though - the ability to create drones and a servitor.

Drones are disposable, small constructs that can execute a limited amount of commands depending on the level of the Clockworker before becoming inert after 0.5 times Clockworker level charges are spent. The Clockworker can deploy these drones 3+ Int modifier times per day as an AoO-provoking full round action. Starting with utility drones, the Clockwroker gets subsequent access to drones that may fly, use evasion, shield allies, carry spells and fight via crossbows. There are some problems with the drones as written, though: Combat Drones don't get proficiency for their crossbow attacks and only get a +4 boost to Str, meaning that their rather low Str-score evens out a now bonus to hit at 10. They come with a basic Dex of 14 that, as written, cannot be upgraded easily, granting the drones a +2 to hit with their crossbows, resulting in a penalty of -2 due to non-proficiency. The melee attack in contrast to the ranged attacks, is a claw-attack dealing 1d2 damage. In melee, the Drone uses either the Clockworker's Dex or Str-modifier and BAB to calculate their attacks. Due to no Str-score-bonus on part of the drones, this is the netto-bonus, officially making the drone-attacks in melee about as efficient as a ray of frost and economy-of-actions-wise, a very bad idea.

Add to that the fact that the drones don't get rapid reload, and, while their damage-dealing capacity in ranged combat are better than in melee, they hit terribly at -2 the Clockworker's BAB for negligible damage and take a lot of actions and we're in for a waste of actions in ranged combat as well. As written, it is not clear whether they carry their own ammunition or whether the Clockworker has to hand them their ammunition, eating up even more actions and making them even less useful. I'm sad to say it, but as written, the drones are utterly, completely USELESS apart from their first level utility functions, minor AC-bonuses (+ 2 per drone, similar bonuses don't require a full round action from other sources like clerics and hold up longer and the drones only get accessible at 9th level) and the high-level spell-channeling powers.

Servitors are the Clockworker's equivalent of a Summoner's eidolon and in stark contrast to the drone-rules, the servitor rules provide the possibility to create small, medium, large and even huge servitors. They also come with 4 different basic forms, quadruped, biped, wheeled and serpentine. The wide variety of different innovations (ranging from 1-point to 4-point innovations, analogue to the evolutions of the eidolon), the innovations enable you to truly customize the servitor, enabling you to create serpentine, breath-weapon using horrors or even you very own siege tanks. To add even further options to the Clockworker's arsenal, he can construct a mechanical harness to benefit from such innovations himself at the cost of his servitor's available innovation pool. The servitor has one MAJOR downside, though: When dismissed by the Clockworker, they collapse into themselves - one well-places charm spell and that's it - the Clockworker has to spend 8 hours reassembling the servitor. 8 hours! While I'm always for classes with some kind of Achilles heel, this particular one is far too easily exploitable and should be errataed/house-ruled, especially with the upkeep cost of the drones and servitors being already a minor drawback.

The pdf closes with mending spells to repair the servitors and other constructs and the Clockworker's spell-list. Unfortunately, the list is VERY blast-mageish/ evocation-heavy. While I do get the idea of the Clockworker creating electric bolts, acidic blasts etc., I think that a class like the Clockworker probably should do such things via his servitor/drones, not his spells, as I do have to admit some balance-concerns here - there's a reason for the Summoner's rather defense-focused, limited spell-list after all and adding Sorceror-style blast capacity to the servitor class-feature might prove unbalancing, depending on your game/players.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful b/w-two-column standard that is more printer-friendly than HHG's old standard and even surpasses it in beauty. The interior artworks of clockworks are stunning and of the highest quality, again, Kudos where Kudos are due! The pdf comes with full bookmarks, making navigation of the pdf easy.

First of all: I love the idea of the Clockworker - it's a complex, versatile class with interesting mechanics and great ideas - in fact, I prefer it over the Summoner. Or rather, I would prefer it over the Summoner, were it not for 2 essential problems that drag down what would otherwise be a 4, 4.5 or even 5-star-pdf: The signature abilities just don't work as they should. The drones remain mostly useless things that consume horrendous amounts of actions until they gain access to spells and even then their usability is rather limited. The servitor can be easily dismantled by one botched will-save and seeing that the Clockworker gets bad will-saves, that's a likely thing to happen. Add to that the spell-list that might lead to balance-concerns when the two signature abilities are hand-waved to work and we unfortunately get a class in severe need of a revision.
Don't get me wrong, the Clockworker is far from unsalvageable, in fact, the contrary holds true - with a revision of at least the drone rules and the collapsing servitor-problem, we'd be looking at a high score of 4 or 4.5, perhaps even 5 stars instead. As written, though, my final verdict for the Clockworker, as much as I hate giving it, has to be 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2. I really hope the class gets a revision soon so that I can scale up my review to reflect the ingenious ideas herein.

Endzeitgeist out.


A solid book with a few issues.

4/5

Just to preface my review, I'd like to say that the clockwork creator is one of my favorite fantastical archetypes, so I may be a bit biased here.

As the product description says, this class is all about golemcraft, and other clockwork contraptions. It is based off of the Summoner, but is its own class. It has what is essentially an Eidolon (but which is actually a machine), and "drones" that they can quickly create. They also get abilities like Shield Ally, and Status Link.

Your "servitor" can have a number of cool upgrades to it. Ever wanted a creature that has a ballista for a weapon? You got it. Want a tank? Go ahead, you can make it with the Wheeled base form, the Siege Mount (to get a ballista), and Guard Plates (to give you a bonus to AC when riding it). How about a mechanical man that rushes your enemies away from you, allowing you to pepper them with bolts from afar? Sure thing!

The art in this book is black and white, and wonderful. There are all sorts of crazy clockwork contraptions, from a floating lantern, to a wheeled crossbow wielding death-bot, to a tea cup with legs. My only problem with it is that I'm not quite sure what's going on in the cover.

Balance-wise, it seems fine. I haven't thought long and hard about it, but only 1 thing jumps out of me as unbalanced, and that's "Status Link". If the clockworker withdraws the status link from his servitor, the servitor is immediately destroyed. A charm'd Clockworker could soon stand to have to spend a while putting it back together after his enemy tells him to withdraw the link!

Design decisions I take issue with:

  • The spell list is a bit too offensive for my tastes. Flaming Sphere, Scorching Ray, freezing sphere, etc, don't really fit my idea of a clockworker. Flame Arrows seems to fit wonderfully, due to the focus on crossbows. I do see how they could be a master of the manipulation of energy, in which case these do make sense.
  • The drones only seem to get useful at 5th level, when a drone with a crossbow attack can be deployed. Before then, they are mostly useful for carrying things around, manipulating objects, and using Disable Device. I do not feel that short-lived creatures doing 1d4 points of damage at level 1 is unreasonable, especially since it takes a full-round action to make them. In fact, that's still really weak.

    Issues I have with the PDF:

  • The PDF mentions how the creations of the clockworker tend to use crossbows, but to even use those, the servitor needs to invest a bit in Innovation points. For a non-Biped base form, the clockworker needs to spend 4 Innovation points for his servitor to be able to shoot a crossbow. Only 2 (on Limbs(Arms)) if they spend a feat. This seems...off.

  • Some text is a bit unclear.

    Final verdict: 3.5 stars, rounded up. This class is weaker than the base summoner, due to the weak drones. That's more a testament of the Summoner's power than the Clockworker's underpoweredness. Spell Drone is great, as is shield drone. But they are at 9th and 13th level, so they come a little late. There's a lot of promise, but work needs to be done.



  • Now available! Enjoy!

    Dark Archive

    Sounds neat.


    It is neat :)

    You can see a preview of the Clockworker here!

    - Axel


    does it have any mechanical spells?

    cool idea about the drones

    a few weeks too late for my synthesist/shaper pc with an axiomite-looking construct eidolon tough


    It's a great buy Numerian. There are anti construct spells, and mend light wounds series.


    Reviewed!


    Cheapy wrote:
    Reviewed!

    So you list 4 relatively large areas that need work and you give it a 5/5 , which is a perfect score of 100% best of the best.

    I find this extremely hard to believe. Extremely.


    See the first paragraph. I did select the rating before recalling the drone issue, but that's the only non-minor issue, and that is more of a design difference. I can see an argument that could be made to say that crossbow shooting drones at 1st level are overpowered. I don't agree with it entirety, but it's an argument. Perhaps I was in too good of a mood. I'll revisit it before I have coffee this time. Thanks for keeping me in check.


    My review has been revised, as well as clarified. There are only two real issues I had with it, the other two (drones not getting a crossbow attack until level 5, and spell list) are mostly just design disagreements.


    It's been edited from my original submission so I can't say for sure about all things.

    The original clockworker in my head was a master of physical forces and energies and employed those in his magic and construction, hence the largely evocation-filled spell list. A clockworker doesn't cast fireball because he draws from an ancestral well of arcane flame or anything like that. He casts fireball because he understands how to manipulate the exothermic reactions into a castable form. Science magic.

    The intent of my original was that the different types of drones are separate until ultimate drone is gained, after which you have all of them in one.

    As for crossbow drones, they use a tiny crossbow so it only does 1d4 damage until you add other modifiers. Buffs and spells help them out a lot so the clockworker does well in a team, especially one with a bard.

    I don't think a clockworker should have to worry about being charmed and losing the servitor. Doing that would be like charming a warrior and telling him to sunder his best sword. He'll just say, 'Seriously, what?'. Dominate person could make him do it but I'm sure a reasonable GM would let him make additional saves as needless destruction of his own servitor would definitely be against his nature.


    Oh, that's you? Congrats!

    I can see kind of see that reasoning for spells.

    Well, I disagree with the drones getting 2.5 points of damage at level 5 then. It's hardly worth your action, since a bard will only be adding 2 points of damage.

    A few more things about combat drones:

  • Are they proficient with their weapons? RAW they have a -4 penalty to hit since they are not proficient. Constructs gain proficiency with their manufactured weapons only if they are in a "generally humanoid" form.

  • Do they come with their own bolts? Or do you have to reload them yourself? Or do you have to give them some after you summon them as a full-round action? Do they have a little quiver thing, and a servo arm to reload? How does it reload if it doesn't have an arm? Siege Mount solves this.

  • Do they have rapid reload? Or do they always spend their move action after shooting reloading?

    So, RAW: They might not be able to reload, you have to spend actions giving them bolts, they are not proficient with the weapon, they have to spend a move action to reload, they are available at level 5, and they do 2.5 points of average damage. Further, they take a full-round action to bring about.

    I wholly support a revision of this guy. You are almost better off just using Ray of Frost.

    Charm Person + opposed charisma check = Bye bye Servitor. Destroying it isn't a harmful action in the short term, so it'd be allowed. If you say it's harmful in the long term...well just about any use of this spell is since you're getting someone to do something they do not want to do, oftentimes causing consequences for them later on.

    What is the reason for the standard action, as opposed to a minute ritual? I think changing this to a longer action, even measured in minutes, would negate much debate about this.


  • I could have a go at asking Headless Hydra to do an update. I wasn't part of the development and editing process but overall I am happy with the end result.

    I would say the drones are given all the equipment they need as part of the deployment action.

    My original combat drones could use any medium weapon handed to them that the clockworker had proficiency with, but that seems to have changed. They should have at least crossbow proficiency.

    Drones have no feats so will have to spend a move action to reload.

    I do think it should be extremely difficult to make the clockworker dismiss the servitor. The original intent of the ability was to prevent permanent loss of the class feature if the servitor gets captured or plane-shifted somewhere and shuts down. A minute ritual to dismiss it would be an easy fix.

    I agree that it could do with a revision. I am in favour of seeing criticism where deserved, acknowledging it and making things better. Thanks for the reviews. :)


    I shall send my suggestions on to Axel!


    Sooo... will there be an update? If yes, is there a definite date in sight?
    I'm currently writing my review of this class and knowing this would help.

    Cheers,
    EZG


    Endzeitgeist wrote:

    Sooo... will there be an update? If yes, is there a definite date in sight?

    I'm currently writing my review of this class and knowing this would help.

    Cheers,
    EZG

    I second this inquiry!


    I'll post my review at the end of the week. I really hope for a revised version...

    Dark Archive

    Looking forward to the review End. Though with what you have said in your last couple of posts I doubt it is a good review, as in a high rated one.


    Endzeitgeist wrote:
    I'll post my review at the end of the week. I really hope for a revised version...

    Just post your review. There wont be a revised version of this class anytime soon, as I am working on a big project and after that, have an even bigger project.

    Also, if you have some good ideas for changes, I need to hear them before I can make them, right?

    - Axel


    Reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent to GMS magazine. Please make a revision some day soon, the concept rocks and making the changes is not hard...

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