Like the Roaring Falls: A Hydokineticst playtest

Playtest Feedback

Grand Lodge

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Reading through the playtest classes, the only one that really caught my interest was the kineticist, with it's all-day elemental powers. I decided to turn a 3rd-level blob of PFS GM credit into a kineticist. I picked water as my element due to that element's flexibility. Seeing that many of the playtests thus far had played the class as a ranged attacker, I decided to focus on kinetic blade instead for variety. In short, I think that worked out well.

Character build process and commentary:
Race selection: I initially considered using one of my Undine boons for this character. They fit thematically, and get the ability to swim and possibly breathe water natively, which would free up a couple wild talent slots. In the end, I decided that the Halfling's +1 size bonus to attack and AC and saving throw bonus beat that out for general utility. Kinetic blade seems an ideal melee option for small characters, as the damage does not scale down based on size.

Ability scores
After racial adjustments:
Str 10, Dex 18, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 9

I hate to dump Cha to this extent, but the class needs Dex and Con as high as you can get them, and I wanted that extra skill point that comes from Int 12.

Skills and traits
The very poor assortment of class skills and low skill points are a big limiter here. For the element-manipulating martial artist people like to fluff them as, it lacks Acrobatics as a class skills regardless of element chosen. For an elemental-themed mystic, it lacks Knowledge (Planes) to actually know about the elemental planes, again regardless of element chosen. It badly needs more skill choices so it can more easily fir these concepts. Extra skill points would help the class live up to these concepts and contribute out-of-combat.

I take the Reckless trait to make acrobatics a class skill, and put my skill points into acrobatics, stealth, and perception. My other trait goes to Focused Mind, which is a given for anyone who needs to make concentration checks.

Weapon Finesse is necessary for Dex-based melee.
Toughness comes next to help deal with burn.

Finishing Touches
Favored class bonus goes into HP, because d8 HD and burn mechanics.
I decide to be a TN worshiper of Irori and a dropout from the Houses of Perfection. Vudrani goes into the bonus language slot to match that fluff. Wild talents are Kinetic Blade (obviously) and Slick (for extra utility.) I take the water blast for its superior damage and not having to deal with resistances and SR.

Gearing up
GM credit leaves me with 3311 GP to spend. Having no need for even a masterwork weapon, 2100 of that gets spent on a +1 mithral chain shirt, 750 on a wand of cure light wounds to loan out to party healers, 100 to potions of cure light wounds, and then on to mundane gear, and a few alchemical weapons to deal with swarms. (Why no low-level AoE blasts?)

Now I'm ready for game time (continues next post)

Grand Lodge

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The game is find is:

Thornkeep: The Forgotten Laboratory
GMed by none other than TriOmegaZero. I discuss the unclear wording of kinetic blade with him, and we agree that as it takes place as part of using the attack and full attack actions, which do not provoke, that it does not provoke.

The Party
Harmonious Water Lily - My 3rd-level kineticist
Alaxtor - 2nd-level occultist
Joshua - 4th-level spiritualist and his phantom
Uvala - 3rd-level slayer

Into the Dungeon
As we prepare to descent the stairs into darkness, the spiritualist hits his phantom with mage armor. I accept one burn point to turn on shroud of water as a +3 shield bonus. This also gets feel the burn active for +1 to hit and damage. The party gets sunrods and light spells up.

First Encounter: Ooze Ambush
An ooze tries to get the drop on us. Thanks to perception as a class skill, I am not surprised. The occultist hits the ooze with a flaming arrow, but it shrugs off the fire damage. The ooze rolls a natural 1 trying to hit the slayer. My turn comes up. It's a surprise round, so I can't spend the move action to mitigate burn. I decide to use the ranged blast with the ooze right next to me. It misses its AoO and takes 15 damage from my blast. Everyone else is surprised. Next round the occultist pumps another arrow into it, the ooze misses the slayer again, and I finish it off with a kinetic blade before the rest of the party can act.

In the aftermath, the occultist has a short conversation with the loot to identify the 1 magic item in it. The phantom phases through the door into the next room and fails its stealth roll, alerting that room's occupants. Not much for me do to here.

Second Encounter: Goblin Mutants
This quickly degenerates into a chokepoint fight with the flayer in from of our party, and the goblins piling into a 10' corridor trying to get at her. The spiritualist casts haste, and I realize it won't benefit me unless I'm willing to suck down burn. The phantom is able to move through walls to get in and contribute. The rest of us have little luck. I throw down slicks, the goblins make their saves. The slayer keeps missing and being missed. The phantom is slowly damaging them and keeping them shaken.

Eventually, I get an opportunity. The phantom and slayer has split the goblins up so that there's only the slayer and a single goblin between me and getting thought he corridor. I use that reckless trait and acrobatics ranks to tumble through the goblin's square. Unfortunately, this puts me into a flank between more goblins. I've already spent my move action getting into position, so I suck down burn and one-shot a goblin with kinetic blade. I am no longer flanked. The slayer, phantom, an me proceed to mop up the remaining goblins.

In the aftermath the spiritualist uses wands to heal me and the phantom from our goblin-inflicted injuries.

Third Encounter: Earth Elemental
Knowledge planes is bizarrely not a class skill for me, so I can't help identify it. Lacing the actions to move up, mitigate burn, and attack with kinetic blade, I just use the ranged blast, missing. The phantom hits it and makes it shaken, everyone else misses. Next round I 5' step and hit it with kinetic blade for 10 damage, but it hits me back for 11. The phantom hits and renews its shaken state, everyone else misses. Next round everyone misses, including the element thanks to being shaken. The occultist finishes enlarging the slayer, who misses. i finish the elemental off with another kinetic blade.

We find some books in Draconic. The occultist translates them with comprehend languages. The spiritualist heals us up with wands.

Fourth Encounter: More Goblins
I stealth ahead into an alchemist's lab, but get spotted. Two goblins miss me with alchemist's fires, the third one sets off an explosion. I make the reflex save for half. I inflict some serious damage back with kinetic blade. The slayer finishes off a goblin who was caught in the explosion. Another explosion goes off and I again make the save. I finish off the second goblin with kinetic blade, and the rest of the party take out the third.

We find potions. While I chug the healing potions, the phantom chugs the invisibility potion and goes scouting in incorporeal form.

Fifth Encounter: Alchemist and Minions
The phantom phases through the door back in ectoplasmic form and gets hit with a bomb for its troubles. It opens the door and the spiritualist casts haste. I rush up to the enemy alchemist and lacking another move action to mitigate burn, go total defense. The alchemist drinks an extract and levitates up 20' to the ceiling. The slayer comes in and starts struggling with his iron cobra minion. I show the alchemist he can't escape me that easily and slap him with a ranged blast for 17. He retaliates with a bomb, which the environment boosts to a whopping 20 damage, killing his homunculus int he process. I'm still fighting, and the spiritualist heals me through his phantom. I hit him with another ranged blast, then the occultist stops missing and finishes him off. I 5' step and help the slayer finish off that iron cobra with it's troublesome DR 5/-.

In the aftermath, the occultist identifies one of the vials we find as containing a CL-boosted potion of Cure Moderate. Given that I've been a HP sponge the entire scenario, I keep it for later.

Sixth Encounter: Dire Rats, Goblin Test Subject
The dire rats go down quickly to the phantom and my kinetic blades. The goblin proves trickier. The goblin has the ability to go invisible as a move action, which means a game of cat and mouse. Several of us keep finding him by walking into his square and revealing him as he takes the resulting AoO. The goblin lands an early critical on the phantom, forcing it to withdraw until the spiritualist can heal it. In the chaos, the occultist goes down. I manage to revel the goblin by failing my acrobatics check to move through his threatened squares and provoking. I slick his axe before he can think of coup-de-gracing the occultist. He goes invisible and picks his axe back up and I start pouring our previously-found potion down the occultist's throat. He attacks me while I'm in the process, eating a readied action critical hit from the slayer. He's very dead.

In the aftermath, the spiritualist again gets us to full health with wands.

Seventh encounter: Spiders!
We know there's a swarm of spiders thanks to the phantom's earlier scouting. I win initiative and toss in a pellet grenade. The swarm and a giant spider come out to meet us. I mange to roll natural ones against both their poisons and take Str and Con damage. Everyone tosses their alchemist's fires at the swarm, having no AoE casters in the party. I take some splash damage. Between burn, splash damage, spider bite damage and con damage I'm 3HP away from passing out, I pass my save against both poisons but not distraction, I move away from the swarm and big one, making my acrobatics check to avoid an AoO. The grenade goes off and takes a chunk out of the giant spider. The remaining party members finish off the swarm thanks partly to the slayer's swarmbane clasp. The big spider tries to finish me off. Cornered, I hit it with kinetic blade and finish it off.

We know there's one more construct waiting for us, but the casters are out of spells. We decide to call time on the module.

Finishing thoughts next post...

Grand Lodge

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Finishing thoughts
I can't complain about the kineticist's accuracy. I missed a lot, but so did the slayer, and the poor occultist with his bow had it even worse. Only the phantom seemed able to reliably land hits, but its damage was weak.

The phantom was the real star of the show here, able to reliably land hits, make thing shaken on those hits, deliver healing spells and scout. They don't have the raw stopping power of the eidolon, but they make up for it in utility.

I am very glad for all my investments in HP. Without all of them, I would have passed out in the last fight and possibly been eaten then. If the kineticist is meant to use burn to a great degree, even d12 HD might not be uncalled for.

Having the kinetic blade vanish at the end of my turn meant I could not provide a flank for the slayer, who never got a sneak attack off the whole module.

Weapon finesse+kinetic blade may be the ultimate "Switch Hitter" build. You don't even have to spend actions drawing, dropping, and sheathing weapons, you just use your blast as whatever you need currently.

Kineticists need feat and magic item support. I have no idea what I'll spend this module's haul on. Nor do I have much inspiration on what feat to take when I hit 5th level.

Kinieticists could use more variety of low-level wild talents. I want kinetic whip and waterdancer, but neither of those are available till 6th level, and greater waterdancer being limited to 10th level is painful. Ride the blast looks great for this kind of build, but it another 10th-level talent. Is there any chance the minimum levels on some of these could be reduced? The 4th level talent leaves me with nothing interesting in this case.

Until next game...

Shadow Lodge

Great write up, Arutema. I'm leery of going melee with the kineticist in its current state, so it's nice to see someone else diving into it.

One note: Currently, using the Kinetic Blade/Whip talent does provoke an AOO and would require a cast defensively concentration check to avoid the AOO. This is intended to garner playtest feedback.

Grand Lodge

Sammy T wrote:

One note: Currently, using the Kinetic Blade/Whip talent does provoke an AOO and would require a cast defensively concentration check to avoid the AOO. This is intended to garner playtest feedback.

I'm hoping to test it both ways before the end of the playtest. Look for the results of my concentration checks probably next Wednesday.

Ride the Blast probably shouldn't be reduced, as it's crazy-good. Really not sure why Waterdancer requires 6th though. Kinetic Whip seems like it requires 6th just to give a feeling of progression over K-Blade, take that as you will.

For the record, according to Mark, right now Kinetic Blade/Whip provokes. That may change in the long run.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Hi everyone. Back now, and I'm now catching up while also working on Unchained. I'm mostly caught up to everything except the main kineticist thread. Just one thing—I was really leaning to have it not provoke with specific language, but I wanted some playtest data to back me up. Then I found out that since it isn't it's own action, it actually automatically doesn't provoke without specific wording. Hooray! So thanks to everyone who provided playtest data supporting that it shouldn't provoke. My gut was right, and despite the lack of a necessity of specific language, I think it's worth adding anyway. For now, you guys can carry on having it not provoke. Expect that to make it into Jason's OP in the kineticist thread some day soon.

Grand Lodge

Finally, free time to play once again, just in time to slip in 2 games before the end of the playtest.

But first, character advancement to 4. Not much of note here. I decide that I'll put my level-up points into Dex and buy a Con belt. A switch-hitter is no good if limited to 30', so I grab extended range as my 4th level talent.

Game the first:
Hall of the Flesh Eaters
The Party
A life oracle with the blackened curse
A ranger specializing in reach weapons
A hunter with a wolf companion
A TWF plus beak tengu barbarian
A greatsword-swinging half-orc barnarian
Myself, hydrokineticist.

The APL works out to just under 4, so rounding kicks in and we play the 4-5 subtier. As we approach the dungeon, I spend 1 burn on kinetic defense, pushing my AC to 23.

First Encounter: Cannibal cleric and bodyguards
We catch them unaware, but are not entirely sure they're hostile. My -1 diplomacy isn't going to help in that regard, so when initiative is called, I ready in case hostilities break out.

Then the half-orc barbarian strikes first, oops! She severely wounds one, who then gets dropped by a AoO from the ranger's lucern hammer. The ranger's second AoO severely wounds another, which is then finished off by my readied action despite sucking down a -8 for blasting into melee and past cover. We mop up the remaining meatshields, and I manage to take the final blow on the cleric.

The cleric is the only one still alive, so we decide to tie him up and heal him back to consciousness. Unfortunately, nobody speaks his language.

Second Encounter: The Bog
We come a cross a low-level halfling's second-worst fear, a 3 foot deep bog. I'm a hydrokineticist, but none of the low-level talents let me manipulate or pass through a body of water in any meaningful way. I shamefully hitch a ride on the hunter's shoulders.

As we cross the bog, 2 giant leeches and a leech swarm all attack. The 2 barbarians and the ranger finish off the giant ones before my turn even comes up. As for the swarm, having good Dex means I'm good at throwing liquid ice and alchemist's fires. I use up both my liquid ices and a borrowed alchemist's fire on the swarm while the oracle unloads on it with burning hands. 3 rounds of wasting alchemical weapons and spells later it's dead, and we fish the unconscious tengu out and heal him up.

Swarms are a definite "screw you" encounter in any situation. If I could have, I would have been spending burn to get torrent form online, but it has minimum kineticist level 6. Having any soft or low-level AoE form infusion would be good.

Third Encounter: The Hungry Dead
We open the door, and disturb a mob of ghouls and festrogs hungry for fresh meat. They quickly clump around the tengu. He drops one and I move into the front. Being unable to move and melee in the same round without taking burn is a nuisance, but one which wil go away at level 5. For now, I go total defense while the reach ranger attacks over my head. This is the life oracle's chance to shine, and I stay total defense for 2 round while he channels the majority of them back to the grave. The half-orc barbarian and I then mop up the few who made their saves against both channels.

There's a disgusting necrotic blob thing here providing them perpetual rancid meat. The GM gives it's stats that basically say it's not meant to be killed. I realize that if I was a pyrokineticist I could take an hour or so to burn the thing away, breaking any sequel hooks the thing might give.

The tengu barbarian has to leave now due to family obligations.

Fourth Encounter: Aghast
We open a door and identify the inhabitants of this final room as a ghast with ghoul and festrog servants. It tries to treat with us, which is not going to happen given the religious leanings of the party.

The remaining barbarian rolls an nat 1 on her save against the ghast's paralysis and gets shut down for 3 rounds. I try to hinder it with slick to no avail. Then, cursing my pitiful halfling CMD, I get tripped by one of the festrogs. The ranger soaks up AoOs so I can stand up and hit it with my ranged blast point-blank, taking it out. As I continue to miss the ghast with my blast, it paralyses the ranger and knocks out the hunter. The life oracle wastes the remaining minions with a good channel and keeps us all from death with another. It's looking bad, but then the barbarian's paralysis wears off and she finishes off the ghast before anyone bleeds out.

Overall Thoughts
Glad we had that life oracle. Kineticists join every class that's not an alchemist at the totally shut down by swarms table. Lower-level elemental movement or manipulation would be appreciated.

Grand Lodge

I buy a handy haversack and restock on alchemical weapons for

Game the second:

The Silver Mount Collection
The party:
A nodachi-weilding half-orc warpriest
A kitsune mesmerist
A three-armed fighter/barbarian/alchemist thing
A dex magus
Myself, a hydrokineticist

We are almost all levels 3 and 4, so the 3-4 subtier it is. As always, I spend 1 burn at the start of the day to boost kinetic defense.

First Encounter: Robots!
For once, I don't feel left out on the knowledge front, because nobody has the technologist feat to identify the 6 foot tall bronze men we're fighting.

The first robot power-attacks the warpriest and does some serious damage. I'm the only one on our side able to act in the surprise round. I hit the other robot with my ranged blast and crit for 24, getting some damage past its hardness and stunning it. The mesmerist demonstrates his ability to bypass their immunity to mind-affecting spells and dazes the one I crit to keep it locked down. I soak it with another blast but do no damage due to hardness. The warpriest crits one but doesn't stagger it. I miss. The magus zaps one good with shocking grasp. The mesmerist and barbarian both miss. The warpriest finishes off the one he's been fighting. I scratch away at hardness some more, then the magus finishes it with shocking grasp.

Second Encounter: Technic League agent
A technic league agent's set up a sniper nest in a thing 20' above the floor. Our diplomacy goes badly.

The mesmerist opens with charm person but the enemy makes her save and tosses down a grenade none of us can identify. This should be a good fight for a switch-hitter build... except the barbarian's just enlarged himself so he threatens her in melee and I have to suffer that -4 to hit now, and I miss. The warpriest and magus miss with their best ranged attacks.

The mesmerist tries again with charm person and she fails her save. Then her flashbang goes off, staggering the barbarian and warpriest, I make my save. The magus lands an arrow, the warpriest and barbarian miss, so do I. The mesmerist then makes the opposed Cha check to get her back to negotiating with us, encounter over.

I make the perception check to spot a hidden, but locked door. The barbarian tears it open and we take a freight elevator up, skipping several rooms.

Third Encounter: Disgusting blob things
Finally, something that we can identify without the technologist feat. he identify them as hungry fleshes.

This is just a battle of attrition. These 3 blobs have lots of HP and regeneration. They're not hard to hit, so everyone does damage. But the magus disconnects and is never heard from again, leaving the warpriest's sacred weapon the only source of fire to bypass regeneration. He runs out after 3 rounds.

We eventually pummel the blobs unconscious, and follow a trail of ooze upstairs, triggering the final boss fight.

Final Battle: Too easy?
It's another of those bronze robots with annoying hardness, and a human that the technic league agent downstairs helpfully identified as possessed by some alien horror.

I go first, and miss the robot with my blast. The warpriest and barbarian buff. The mesmerist hits the possessed guy with hideous laughter. We take a few rounds hacking through hardness to kill the robot while the possessed guy laughs. It does get off a good hit on me before we take it down.

Hideous laughter wears off just in time for us to finish off the robot and start in earnest on the possessed guy. I whiff trying to do nonlethal with kinetic blade. (The wording of kinetic blade does not disallow it). The barbarian gets him into a grapple, the mesmerist hits him with ray of enfeeblement. He's nearly pinned, so I just get out rope to help tie him up. The barbarian succeeds on the pin, then the warpriest knocks him out.

Suspiciously easy...


And indeed too easy, as a nanomachine swarm, of all things, vacates his body and starts trying to disassemble us. No alchemist or arcane caster in the party, so we're left throwing whatever alchemical weapons we have. I'm left badly wounded as I get hit by the swarm's initial attack, so I get as far back as I can while those with pellet grenades start setting them off with little regard for their own health.

Something like 10 pellet grenades later, the swarm goes down while I try to drag its former host to safety.

Final thoughts:
This scenario was just full of screw-you mechanics, to everybody. Hardness, regeneration, swarm traits and too much HP and AC all around on the enemies. With so many bad mechanics in play I'm not sure I can take away useful playtest data from it, save to repeat my earlier request that kineticists get some low-level swarm-busters.

Now I level up to 5 and get form infusion specialization, but sadly not in time for further testing during the playtest window.

It's been fun. Thanks for the class. Looking forward to seeing how it gets its rough edges smoothed out.

I actually don't think Kineticists are screwed against Swarms. I posted in the general Kinetic thread about this and didn't get an answer yet (I imagine it might get answered in the final playtest closing post), but Kinetic Blast is a weaponlike spell like ability. The most common (only?) weaponlike spells are rays, and rays actually do full damage to swarms because they have an effect line (i.e. "one ray") rather than a target line (i.e. "one creature").

That means, if Kinetic Blasts function like rays, they can deal damage to swarms with no issue. Remember, it's weaponlike, not a real weapon, so a Tiny swarm's half damage thing and a Fine/Diminutive Swarm's immunity to weapons would not apply.

In other words, Kineticists might be the BEST low level swarm killers out there. But this does require confirmation.

Hey everyone,

I have to say that thus far I do like how the Hydrokeneticist is set up. My stats after the racial buffs/negs(halfling) are as follows at level 3:

Str- 12:1
Dex- 16:3
Con- 18:4
Int- 15:3
Wis- 14:2
Cha- 17:3

And I have found that I have been using Kinetic Blast as a general attack, with 2d6+Con buff+2. Is that correct? And I have looked into Archetypes. Now there are two that I am looking at and since I didn't see anything restricting the number of archtypes I have chosen Blood Kineticist and Kinetic Chirurgery since I am also the party's healer. These two archtypes work really well together.

With the Blood Kineticist though I loose infusions for the Wrac(su) ability. Wrac reads as follow,

"At 1st lvl,...use her abilities to wrack a target w/in 30 feet, harming the target by manipulating its blood from the inside. The target takes half the normal damage of the kineticist's blast, and can attempt a Fort Save to reduce it to 1/4 normal dmg. But the dmg is untyped and ignores damage reduction. It causes 0 points of burn and can be used with water and blood blasts."

Now I have also been choosing between my Gather Power and Blood Focus which says that all of her infusions granted by this archetype work only on targets with blood and automatically fail if the target is immune to bleed damage. But after that it says nothing about how the bleed is calculated. I need help on figuring this out. But what I have been doing is choosing when to activate the two and combining them with the kinetic blasts but when I do I roll it as, 2D6+2+con modifier.

Now since I am using two archetypes I will be slower at learning new spells in each but it makes me feel that it is worth it. By this I mean that at first I choose the Chirurgery so I could get the kinetic healer at lvl 1. The Kinetic Chirurgery also states that at 3rd lvl & every 2 lvls after you get to select any one paladin mercy that a paladin of that level could select. And each time the kinetic healer is used, they can apply one of those mercies to the target of healing, but can't use infusions. So this ultimately hinders my ability to use the infusions but it focuses it more on the abilities in each archtype.

Or that is how I have been using this class thus far. What do you guys think?

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