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My 11 year old daughter recently ran her first adventure (yep, my baby girl's a GM), and we did a test run at home before she ran it for Society play. I took advantage of that opportunity to play some occult characters. My party consisted of:
Level 1 human hydrokineticist (ranged build)
Level 1 human spiritualist (melee-focused build)
Level 1 human mesmerist
and I added in a level 2 Halfling titan mauler as our meat shield
The adventure was Rise of the Goblin Guild. The chase scene worked out really well with this group as it was such a nice array of skills represented (except for the kineticist who has no real skills to speak of). When we caught the goblin, she was easily made friendly by the mesmerist's charisma-based skills. Obvious conclusion here: mesmerists can really shine in the social scenarios.
In short order, we were heading into the sewer to fight goblins.
Overall observations on the characters:
I opted for the more damaging blast for my kinetecist even though it meant giving up hitting for ranged touch versus full AC. Therefore, he had to be human so I could get point-blank and precise shot. With these feats in his arsenal, he was beastly. In terms of damage output, he easily kept up with the titan mauler.
The spiritualist went in with the idea that he and his phantom would work as flank buddies. This failed as the first encounter involved a hallway with a pit trap separating us from our foes and the second involved the phantom being blown up with an alchemist's bombs.
The mesmerist accomplished very little in terms of his actual powers. The "flank trick" helped out the titan mauler once, every attempt to daze a goblin failed, and he would have basically been almost useless in the combats had he not purchased a light crossbow.
Encounter specific observations:
First encounter-Goblins in a hallway and a pit trap. The spiritualist triggered the trap and landed in a pit with a young slime mold. His phantom jumped in to save him, and they dealt with that beastie. The mesmerist tried to daze a goblin and failed, then he did nothing other than fire crossbow bolts, but the kineticist was the star of the show as he eliminated two goblins with his first two shots.
Second encounter-A goblin lab with 3 lab assistants on the main level and an alchemist on a balcony we couldn't access. The assistants were quickly dispatched by the titan mauler, the spiritualist and his phantom, and the kineticist. However, a clustered grouping of heroes coming through a doorway made an easy target for the alchemist who dispatched the phantom with his bomb (2d6+2 damage) and nearly did in the spiritualist with the splash damage (they had both taken damage from the lab assistants as well). This battle boiled down to water blasts and crossbow bolts failing to hit the alchemist (who made good usage of his elevated position for some partial coverage). The spiritualist spent this portion of the fight hiding underneath the balcony. Basically, we failed to do the alchemist in, but he ran out of bombs, then he gulped an expeditious retreat potion, and fled.
Third encounter-Three goblins on the opposite side of running sewer water with pipes we could come across (acrobatics check) to close in on them. The kineticist and his ranged attack shined yet again. The spiritualist got a boost to acrobatics from his phantom being back in his consciousness, so that was a perk. Basically, the titan mauler was the star of this battle as he charged to do one in, then finished a second on his next turn. However, the mesmerist took partial credit as he had put the "flanking trick" on the titan mauler before he charged.
Fourth encounter (boss fight)-Again, we triggered a trap, but a good save roll got us easily through that. The hobgoblin boss called in some goblin lackeys, and the party proceeded to annihilate them. The mesmerist tried to daze two of the goblins and failed. The kineticist did some serious damage to the boss and took out a goblin. The spiritualist managed to take down another goblin, and the titan mauler finished off the weakened boss.
After this adventure, I changed my build of the spiritualist slightly by opting for the scythe over the twin kukri and changing his feat from two-weapon fighting to dodge. Hopefully, this will help. My favorite thing about the class from this experience was that the phantom gives the skill boosts even after being dispatched. Way different than the summoner who has no benefit after the eidolon is dispatched.
The kineticist was easily the most effective character in the party as his blasts did serious damage and he was relevant in every fight (as well as playing the role of cleric with his healing blast).
The mesmerist was rather effective as a social character, but didn't contribute as much as I thought he might in actual combat. This is definitely a character who needs to have an option other than just the spellcasting (thank goodness I bought that crossbow).
I used one of these characters for the actual run of the scenario (with a real party and other players and everything), but I'll post that separately.
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Playtest 2--The actual running of the adventure.
I was originally going to try the rebuilt spiritualist on this, but ended up going with the kineticist as we had no arcane casters in the party, so he kind of fit that bill.
My overall experience of playing this character was fantastic. As I built up his con and dex and dumped in silly stats like cha and int, he was a delight: a simple-minded man with no social skills. RP value was glorious. Of course, given that I only had one skill point after the int dump, perception was the only high skill I had any ranks in. Despite this, he did alright in the chase section.
I had him try some social interactions as I figured (being in character) he wouldn't be quite bright enough to know how bad he was at them. This was fun.
Our attempt to get into the sewers to pursue the goblin guild involved our bard trying to bluff. My kineticist proceeded to keep believing this bluff through the entire adventure. As stated, the dump stats created some challenges, but also some fun roleplay.
On the function end, he was a magnificent cannon. Other players at the table were shocked by the power of his blasts as he, once again, eliminated more than his fair share of goblins. They were further surprised when they learned this was not just a certain number of times per day he could blast, but rather, an at will power. I then explained that the trade-off is a lack of any spells. The general consensus was that this is an awesome ranged attack arcane caster.
My daughter is prepping to run another adventure this week, so we'll practice for that one as we did this time. I've built an occultist to add to the mix in place of the titan mauler. We'll see if he's as effective in that role.
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I played two of my occult characters during a play through of the Silverhex Chronicles.
For the first two adventures, I used my mesmerist. He failed quite a bit. As we quickly offended the young noblewoman in the graveyard, she stayed at distance and starting firing crossbow bolts at us. In order to trick her into moving towards our fighter, I cast unnatural lust on her. Twice. She made her save both times. The only real impact I had was succeeding in dazing a horse.
In the second encounter, he was similarly unhelpful.
I switched to my melee-focused occultist for the final four. He did quite well. Having the combination of his enhancement from the legacy weapon as well as the psychic weapon focus power (further augmented by a bardic performance from a party member), I hit more often than I missed. Additionally, my greatsword was doing 2d6+10 damage. I managed to take out a raging barbarian during the Crash section, and more impressively, saved the party by taking out both of the assassins in the Silverhex portion after they'd trapped my party members in the cave.
Final observations: the mesmerist sounded great to me, but has been a disappointment everytime I've tried him as his spells (even enhanced by his gaze) failed far too frequently, and little else was available to him.
The occultist has some latent versatility in the varying schools. However, my only experience thus far has been in melee application. What I've observed in that is glorious success.
Scenario: Delirium's Tangle (Practice session GM'd by my daughter)
*Here there be spoilers!*
The Party: (All occultist and all played by me)
Paco-hydrokineticist (role of arcane cannon and healer)
Balinor-melee occultist (abjuration and transmutation implements, role of meat shield and genius)
Wilson Loopdaed-spiritualist (he and his phantom, Melo, are covering the areas of scouting and melee support)
Magnus-mesmerist (hopefully, he is actually going to succeed at giving party support and neutralizing foes with his spells)
Entryway (Beetle encounter)-The phantom, Melo, charged in and dropped a beetle with her slam doing 7 points of damage. Following this, Paco waterblasted the other beetle into oblivion (14 points of damage). Combat over!
Lone Morlock-Combat began with Balinor moving into a defensive stance (but leaving a charge aisle for Melo) and casting shield (his AC now being 21). Paco chucked a water blast and completely missed (bad roll). Melo charges and hits for 4 points, Wilson moves to set up flanking position for next turn, but has to double move to get there. Magnus dazes the morlock...and it actually works!! Balinor moves in to take advantage of the flank and does 17 points of damage. The morlock is still standing. Paco does a water blast for 13 points. The morlock is no longer standing.
Feral mining beetles (due to failure in the maze)-Beetles move first and attack Melo. She takes 3 damage. Magnus uses his trick to give false flank to Wilson. Balinor takes an AoO to get into flank with Melo. The beetle misses and Balinor crits. 34 points of damage. Wilson moves in with his false flank and hits for 10 damage, killing the beetle. Magnus' trick helped, but Wilson would have hit without it.
Pit trap-Melo failed her reflex save and fell in and took 10 points of lethal damage causing her to *poof*
Essence-Magnus tried asking the spirit why it was here, but it didn't respond. As it's immune to mind affecting effects (basically all Magnus does), Magnus used his sword cane to create a flank (and actually hit with a swing for 1 point of damage). Wilson used the flank to do 10 points of damage. As it was apparently some sort of giant beetle, it tried to bite Wilson, and it failed. Paco water basted it for 13 points and dispatched it.
Water vent puzzle trap-Balinor's high intelligence should have made him the star, but he had several unfortunate rolls. Wilson's adopted trait lets him give a +4 to aid another, so he was rather good at helping. Paco dumped int a bit, so he did nothing other than assist as well. This would have been an ideal situation for the phantom to walk through the door to save them. Given the failures, we resorted to Balinor trying to knock the door down with a strength check (and Wilson and Paco assisted). The 27 str roll saved the day.
Elf on machine-Balinor was hypnotized (while the others made their saves) but the elf ordered the LG character to attack his friends, so he refused the request. Paco ran into the room and missed with a water blast. Wilson entered the room and attacked the elf, but it was a swing and a miss. Still fascinated, Balinor wasn't moving. Magnus failed to identify the spell, so didn't shake Balinor out of his fascination, and instead, charged in with his sword cane (and missed with a swing) to create flank for Wilson. The elf hypnotized Paco and Magnus on his second turn. Wilson identified the spell. The elf ordered the hypnotized heroes to leave the room. They did on their turns. Wilson swung and missed without his flank bonus. The elf failed to hypnotize Wilson again. Wilson swung and missed again, then took 6 points of magic missile damage from him. Wilson got smart and decided to rouse Balinor from his Fascination. Balinor charged and did in the elf with 20 points of damage. The day is saved.
The minotaur prince was rescued and returned.
Paco-hit on 3 out of 5 strikes with his water blast doing a total of 30 points of damage (averaging 10 per hit)
Balinor-hit on 3 of 3 attempts for a total of 71 points of damage (averaging 23 2/3 per hit, though that includes a crit), and rescued the party from drowning by knocking down a door
Wilson-hit on 2 of 4 attempts for a total of 20 points of damage (averaging 10 points per hit)
(Melo)-hit on 2 out of 2 attempts for a total of 11 points of damage (averaging 5 1/2 per hit), found a trap the hard way
Magnus-hit on 1 of 2 swings for a total of 1 point of damage (averaging 1/2 per hit), succeeded at a daze spell and used a flase flank trick
Footnote-My daughter prepped this on her own, so she misplayed some of the parts of it. We'll have those fine tuned for the actual Society game. I'm planning to play the spiritualist in it. I'll post about that when it happens.
Not a full write-up of a playtest, just an observation.
My daughter and I practiced through a few spots in Dilerium's Tangle just to fine tune it for tomorrow's PFS session. In this practice, I threw together an occultist with enchantment and evocation to compare to my kineticist and mesmerist since there are obvious overlaps in areas. The occultist couldn't hang with the damage the kineticist was doing, though was slightly more accurate with targeting AC.
The big difference was with the mesmerist. The mesmerist's tricks effected the combats in almost no way whatsoever, so it really came down to the spells. The occultist could do everything the mesmerist could do with the same DC. Biggest difference was that the occultist could also add in blast damage and the occultist's DC for daze (as a focus power) was going to keep increasing in DC. For the occultist, this is simply a level 1 spell and would only improve with the raising on his charisma at 4th and 8th or a magic item or using a feat. The DC goes up for the occultist each time he levels up (for the focus power version of it as he also has it as a spell).
Played my occultist in the actual run of Dilerium's Tangle. It was an all melee party (including a melee cleric). Therefore, not a lot of extra hits to go around. I hit on 4 out of 5 swings for damage of 23, 18, 23, and 14. Yep, the weakest hit came in the boss fight, so the cleric got the kill with his sling. Ah well. Still really liking the damage my occultist is doing and I look forward to continuing with this character.