GM: Would like help with group’s animosity towards party Kineticist


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So I have recently started running a game from level 1 that includes a Kineticist for the first time

I have read lots about how they are really complicated and then seen many opinions about how they are actually really underpowered

Now we are level 2 and this is very much not turning out to be the case. And some of the other players are feeling a bit mutinous

So he started off with d6+5 damage at point blank shot and 17 AC and 12 HP
This put him on joint most HP and AC and most consistent damar output

The real problems started when going to level 2. Most people got very little from the increase.

The Kineticist gets a talent (he chose the ridiculously broken familiar one from horror adventures that gives a better familiar than wizards can get because it grants the bonuses without any risk of dying and no downside if it does) and also elemental defence (so a further 2 or 3 AC)

So now the most AC, HP, damage output and best saving throw spread

I am really not looking forward the next level where he gets a feat, infusion, elemental overflow, boost to will , boost to BAB, and damage increase by d6+1 to 2d6+6 within 30ft. I feel like I am going to have some very angry other players who will feel very short changed

Why do Kineticists get so much and seem so much better at low levels than everything else. Am I missing something or looking at things wrong ? I am pretty sure it is not OP but I don’t know how the other players will be convinced of that when they see his abilities and output

Am I missing obvious counters? There is only so often I can do the range thing and the level 3 infusion will be extended range. The character can do nothing in melee but that is nothing a 5 ft step doesn’t solve ...

Is this really just something that lasts for low levels and is undone once iteratives become a thing?

And should I nerf elemental whispers? I can’t fathom why it is so much better than a wizard familiar. Is it supposed to make up for not having things like share spells? Right now it just seems like free mechanical boosts

Sorry if this is rambling and unfocused

TLDR - Kineticist seems so much better and seems to get so much more each level than everyone else and the other players are getting a bit annoyed . Are there potential balances / are there any even needed ?

Paizo Employee Designer

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An Elemental Whispers familiar can't physically manifest and act on its own without you spending your turn to concentrate on it, so it has some significant disadvantages as well compared to a familiar that might be taking actions and helping out on its own.

As to the rest, you'll find that when the internet collectively rates something as "necessary to be viable," underpowered, or the like, the majority of these opinions will be coming from highly dedicated top-tier gamers playing above-basline high-powered games. That doesn't mean they're right and you're wrong, or you're right and they're wrong. Nobody's wrong for their game, but you have to judge what is the right fit for your game, and if your game is more baseline, you won't get the best opinions from prevailing internet opinions because you play a different game than them.


Yeah... I’m not in agreement with kineticists being underpowered. They specialize in damage. They are good at it. Only way that I have found to balance out gameplay when they are being used is to use kineticists (or other classes with similar abilities) against the party. This forces the player to change tactics.

There are other ways to challenge them and maintain balance, and I do use them as well. But using the same abilities is usually the most effective.


Just to verify for the discussion- this is a water element user, right? You indicated that the elemental defense was AC, which likely means water.

I ask, since the element can determine other "nice things he will get" in the future.

So, if it is a water user- they will have fantastic defense (AC, eventually some miss chance), defense mobility (an air option), and some attack options. But it will not have quiet as many options to solve various problems (compare that to aether, which has various options for sneaking and such).

Anyway- you are dealing with an attack/defense focused element. So it is not that surprising that surprising that it is doing great in the levels where fights are focused solely on these two factors. Wait until later levels when you need more spells and such to deal with problems, and then things should even out a bit.

Sidenote- is the will save bonus really something to worry about? Kineticists have poor will saves, so everyone else gets a boost too. ...unless your player built for a high will save (not that hard- I usually grab half elf, 12 wis, and some traits to get great will). In that case... yeah, he will be a hard nut to crack.


What are the other players playing? The Kineticist isn't overpowered, but it is a much better and more functional class than say the Fighter and the Rogue. It's possible you have one player with strong optimization skills while the party doesn't, which is a separate and probably more severe problem.

Grand Lodge

Typical kineticist playstyle shoots for one big blast per round. If you look at a level 1 barbarian, they're able to pump out just as much damage as a level 1 kineticist. Fighters are able to get their iterative attacks, full BAB, a bunch of feats to increase their ability to land hits, and weapon training. Kineticists are 3/4 bab and get two means of increasing their ability to hit- weapon focus and elemental overflow. At level 6 when the party caster is able to haste the fighter, you will notice the fighter being able to pump out just as much if not more damage than the kineticist, and their primary attacks tend to have higher accuracy, too. Even without haste, fighters are still able to pump out a ton of damage that is on par with how much the kineticist does.
It LOOKS like the kineticist has higher damage output than the fighter, but they still tend to come out about even.

Shadow Lodge

Definitely interested in seeing what the rest of the party is playing. I'm in a 3rd level group that includes a geokineticist, archer ranger, and melee occultist, and they all feel pretty balanced with each other.

If you are finding the kineticist is too powerful at this level, consider some encounters with DR/silver or DR/cold iron. Depending on the other damage dealers' fighting styles, they can probably pick up the appropriate weapons pretty easily (especially if you warn them that they are about to fight fey, werewolves, etc) but the kineticist can't bypass it barring the Rare-Metal Infusion, which is limited to higher-level geokineticists.


Your group is aware that, with the AP you're running for them, they'll miss out on a lot of potential NPC allies if they run around killing everyone, right? And that a surprising number of battles can be avoided through role-playing and diplomacy/bluff?

Yes, Kineticists can come across as better than a lot of classes but they tend to be hyper-focused on doing one thing. I have a feeling (so long as you enforce some penalties to the rebellion, such as gaining notoriety) that it won't take long before the characters don't want the Kineticist around. (Hopefully the players realize that they don't want the character around rather than thinking it's a problem with the player... unless, you know, it's a problem with the player.)

Oh, and the amount of things that have DR/silver or DR/good might make the Kineticist damage output significantly lower than it is right now.

Sovereign Court

And if they are going with an energy blast (cold if it is a water kineticist) then energy resistance will reduce the amount of damage while DR will have no effect.


Your level 1 party's highest AC is 17 and highest HP is 12? It sounds like you have a party that is made entirely of half casters comparing themselves to a very focused combat class. A run of the mill fighter with greatsword should be AC18 HP 12 doing 2d6+6 damage without looking at feats or heavy stat dumping to start with a 20.

You've encountered the reason why I prefer to start characters at third or fourth level. By that time casters have their second level spells, everyone has a couple feats to work with and you've improved to your ideal baseline armor type.

The kineticists weaknesses are: needing to hold still in order to be at his full potential, and being completely unable to hide while doing so. When he gets his range boost he'll either be killing himself with each attack, or standing completely still glowing like a beacon before every attack. They are also vulnerable to interrupts while gathering power. When you use larger creatures, remember that they don't need to use their reach to keep their distance but can run up on their target preventing a 5 foot step from being worthwhile.

Kineticists have more than their fair share of weaknesses, but they aren't the same as other people's weaknesses which can make it less intuitive to interpret their actual potency. If your other players wanted to be the guy with the one big shot, they should have made a character like that.

It's going to hard to smooth this over with the rest of the party. Maybe they optimize so poorly that the kineticist being balanced to the middle of the pack is high above them. I'm willing to be it's just a matter of them being low level and needing more of their kit to see the bigger picture. If on the other hand it's a party consisting of a chained monk and a chained rogue, then there's no light at the end of the tunnel.


I think as you gain levels the rest of the classes will start to hit their stride and the kinetisist won't seem like something special anymore. Sure, first level they look really good. But if someone built a bow fighter (not a ranger) they would have equal or slightly better performance in combat. A power attacking melee fighter should be on par also. And casters...casters don't have a lot of slots to burn at low levels, and the kinetisists low amount of dice doesn't really look like a downside unless you have someone that made a dedicated blaster. (I made a sorcerer build that had CL 3 at first level and put out a 3d6+3 snowball or a 2d6+2 Burning Hands)

Kinetisist is somewhere between a melee and a caster. A full BAB class will keep up with their added damage dice, and on high AC encounters they will fall behind. Actually they will fall behind on low AC encounters as well. Casters will be able to out perform them eventually, but only with their best spells.

Also magic gear makes a real difference. There isn't much a Kinetisist can do to boost their offence gear wise. I'm sure the Kinetisists AC will go up, but so will everybody else. If anyone complains about the AC, tell them to use a shield.

It sounds like the source of the problem isn't the class, but the players. Your Kinetisist sounds like he optimized the character and the rest of the party sounds like they build something that wasn't so numbers focused. But that is just my guess.


Kineticists don't out-damage anything else that focuses on damage except in situations that those classes can't do their job (barbarian can't pounce through difficult terrain, archer can't fire through winds) and also has to deal with their own counters, like resistances.

Your kineticist is hitting for d6+5 at level 1. This would be against normal AC with 18 constitution I imagine.

Barbarian is hitting for 2d6+9 with Power Attack, no rage. Rage removes to-hit penalty (comparing BAB and PBS) and does 2d6+12. Can do this most attacks each day.

Archer is hitting for 1d8+4 with 16 strength and Point-Blank Shot, the same average damage. It can do 1 less damage to fire from 1000'+ max range instead of 30'. It will later have Deadly Aim, Rapid Shot, Multi-Shot etc

Rogue hits with two sneak attacks a round if built well, which does damage comparable to composite blast and debuffs the enemy. It also doesn't send up a fireworks display to do it (Read what gather power does).

A druid buffs its animal companion and it outright kills almost anything in singular combat 1/round pretty early on.

What about more dice? Rapid Shot. Iteratives. Feat and item options. Spell synergies. Situational bonuses. Attacks of opportunity... and trust me; the spellcasters will make the kineticist look 'cute' once they have spell slots to burn.


I had similar experiences with a Kineticist. It helped when I explained that even though I look like and caster and attack like a caster, that the Kineticist is best compared to some kind of barbarian at range.

Make sure you are enforcing concentration checks. Blasts are spell like abilities. Throw one or two melee enemies with reach in just to give them a bad day (concentration check + ranged attack in reach, or acrobatics to run away and no gather power). Another thing to do is create more dynamic battlefields, kineticists excess with stand and blast (all classes do, but kineticists benefit more earlier).


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So uh, this is kiiind of a jerkish thing to do, but if you really want to rain on the kineticist's parade just have enemies make intimidate checks at him. Psychic casters like the kineticist have to make concentration checks when they're suffering from negative emotional effects such as being shaken by an intimidate check.


Mark Seifter wrote:

An Elemental Whispers familiar can't physically manifest and act on its own without you spending your turn to concentrate on it, so it has some significant disadvantages as well compared to a familiar that might be taking actions and helping out on its own.

As to the rest, you'll find that when the internet collectively rates something as "necessary to be viable," underpowered, or the like, the majority of these opinions will be coming from highly dedicated top-tier gamers playing above-basline high-powered games. That doesn't mean they're right and you're wrong, or you're right and they're wrong. Nobody's right or wrong, but you have to judge what is the right fit for your game, and if your game is more baseline, you won't get the best opinions from prevailing internet opinions because you play a different game than them.

Thanks for this Mark. I knew I must have been misreading this feat somehow.

I am not sure this character needs the familiar to be doing actions to really benefit from it but I knew there must have been some balance point I had missed


Arachnofiend wrote:
So uh, this is kiiind of a jerkish thing to do, but if you really want to rain on the kineticist's parade just have enemies make intimidate checks at him. Psychic casters like the kineticist have to make concentration checks when they're suffering from negative emotional effects such as being shaken by an intimidate check.

Does this really work with them? I thought spell like abilities work differently to spells for this kind of thing

Regarding all the other posts - thank you. I don’t know how to quote them all individually within one post whilst on a phone (not forum savvy). I might come back to this when I have more time later

I have tried explaining the point in well built fighters / barbarians multiple times and this is why I don’t think there is an issue personally

The fighters in my group are one medium strength sword and board and someone building towards Devoted Muse which gives some early level problems and is a little MAD (so no 18 strength with a two handed weapon )

I think the biggest thing the others can’t get there head around is how at level up they get a spell or two , or one ability and they get several things every time . They rolled their eyes first time we discussed what everyone got and they will again

So it is very much an issue with the party having some average characters and the kineticist being hyper focused and little bit more mechanical

But as the levels go up he will take damage to do interesting things or make himself a beacon. I would ordinarily feel bad for targeting a player specifically but gather power and even to a less extent elemental overflow kind of calls for it

I missed that they need concentration checks. I assume they are also hampered by SR as well?


Yeah, SLA's work identically to regular spells with the exception that they don't require material components, so a Kineticist suffers from all the same restrictions as a Psychic. This particular Kineticist is probably not affected by SR because I'm guessing they use the physical water blast rather than the ice blast (if it's the latter then yes, SR applies).


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Lanathar wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
So uh, this is kiiind of a jerkish thing to do, but if you really want to rain on the kineticist's parade just have enemies make intimidate checks at him. Psychic casters like the kineticist have to make concentration checks when they're suffering from negative emotional effects such as being shaken by an intimidate check.

Does this really work with them? I thought spell like abilities work differently to spells for this kind of thing

This will not work, the reason this won't work is SLA's do not have, sematic, material, verbal, emotional or thought components. Those are all things spells have and SLAs and supernatural abilities do not.


Arachnofiend wrote:
Yeah, SLA's work identically to regular spells with the exception that they don't require material components, so a Kineticist suffers from all the same restrictions as a Psychic. This particular Kineticist is probably not affected by SR because I'm guessing they use the physical water blast rather than the ice blast (if it's the latter then yes, SR applies).

This is false.


I think that one of the great features of the kinetecist is causing you problems.

Most classes in pathfinder have very wide ranges of effectiveness and optimisation.
They have very low floors and very high ceilings.

For example you can build rage lance pounce barbarians and do some of the best damage in the game, or you can not do that and be a lot less effective.
This I feel is because most of the damage comes from decisions you make in building the character, what totem/feats/weapon/etc you use.
You can completely screw up a barbarian or make an insane damage dealer.

A kinetecist on the other hand has most of it's damage hard baked into the class. It has a very high floor, and a lower ceiling.

So if the floor of the kinetecist is higher than the rest of the party is optomising to, you have issues.


Lanathar wrote:
I have tried explaining the point in well built fighters / barbarians multiple times and this is why I don’t think there is an issue personally

because there is no issue the kinetisist is doing their job they are not a caster they are a magical archer with one shot each round at a terrible range unless you spec into ranged combat.

Lanathar wrote:


The fighters in my group are one medium strength sword and board and someone building towards Devoted Muse which gives some early level problems and is a little MAD (so no 18 strength with a two handed weapon )

The fighter needs to learn how to optimize more they have no right to complain about not doing damage when they choose the I don't do damage fighter build and if they wait just a few levels they will have plenty more ac than the kineticist.

Lanathar wrote:


I think the biggest thing the others can’t get there head around is how at level up they get a spell or two , or one ability and they get several things every time . They rolled their eyes first time we discussed what everyone got and they will again

They need to either drill this into their head and understand or stop getting frustrated when some one who better understands the game makes a character if you don't understand how your characters are going to work they are going to be outshined by even a lesser class who does understand what they are doing.

Lanathar wrote:


So it is very much an issue with the party having some average characters and the kineticist being hyper focused and little bit more mechanical

This is not the kineticist's fault they are doing precisely as the class is designed for. They need to understand that if they do not do their research and make a character all willy nilly they will underperform threw out the campaigns life cycle.

Lanathar wrote:


But as the levels go up he will take damage to do interesting things or make himself a beacon. I would ordinarily feel bad for targeting a player specifically but gather power and even to a less extent elemental overflow kind of calls for it.

This is entirely dependent on how he plays, gather power is only noticeable with in 20 feet even then they would need a proper check to understand what's going on, enemies need to make perception checks and then also make an associated knowledge to know what elemental overflow is/does. And if you do target them over every one else will you also have copious amounts of archers to interrupt any and all spell casting any of the actual casters in the party may have?

Lanathar wrote:


I missed that they need concentration checks. I assume they are also hampered by SR as well?

they only need concentration checks in certain situations. Sort of sr is only applied to energy based blasts while physical blasts don't have to deal with that sort of thing.


doomman47 wrote:
Lanathar wrote:
I have tried explaining the point in well built fighters / barbarians multiple times and this is why I don’t think there is an issue personally

because there is no issue the kinetisist is doing their job they are not a caster they are a magical archer with one shot each round at a terrible range unless you spec into ranged combat.

Lanathar wrote:


The fighters in my group are one medium strength sword and board and someone building towards Devoted Muse which gives some early level problems and is a little MAD (so no 18 strength with a two handed weapon )

The fighter needs to learn how to optimize more they have no right to complain about not doing damage when they choose the I don't do damage fighter build and if they wait just a few levels they will have plenty more ac than the kineticist.

Lanathar wrote:


I think the biggest thing the others can’t get there head around is how at level up they get a spell or two , or one ability and they get several things every time . They rolled their eyes first time we discussed what everyone got and they will again

They need to either drill this into their head and understand or stop getting frustrated when some one who better understands the game makes a character if you don't understand how your characters are going to work they are going to be outshined by even a lesser class who does understand what they are doing.

Lanathar wrote:


So it is very much an issue with the party having some average characters and the kineticist being hyper focused and little bit more mechanical

This is not the kineticist's fault they are doing precisely as the class is designed for. They need to understand that if they do not do their research and make a character all willy nilly they will underperform threw out the campaigns life cycle.

Lanathar wrote:


But as the levels go up he will take damage to do interesting things or make himself a beacon. I would ordinarily feel bad for targeting a player specifically
...

Well there is some vagueness in my descriptions because I don’t know how many of my players read this board. They don’t know what I post under but they may find out .

The fighter is not complaining and the kineticist absolutely does not understand the game better than those complaining. It just seems to be linked to the point above about them having a much higher floor than others especially at low levels and being rather focused

Indeed it is that knowledge of the game that is making them raise their eyebrows because it seems like the class gains far more that most do on levelling. The damage scale for example in consistently adding dice is something no one gets apart from with limited spell slots.

Again I don’t see the problem but it is an on paper vs in practice thing

As to gather power - I know it says a 20ft radius but I struggle to see how the sound gets immediately muffled at 25ft. Is that really the interpretation. That is not really how sound works


Lanathar wrote:
The fighter is not complaining and the kineticist absolutely does not understand the game better than those complaining.

Fair enough

Lanathar wrote:


It just seems to be linked to the point above about them having a much higher floor than others especially at low levels and being rather focused
Indeed it is that knowledge of the game that is making them raise their eyebrows because it seems like the class gains far more that most do on levelling. The damage scale for example in consistently adding dice is something no one gets apart from with limited spell slots.

As a home work assignment have every player at the table read every 6th level spell and higher they will learn eventually that there are far more power abilities in game than 1d6 scaling damage die.

Lanathar wrote:


Again I don’t see the problem but it is an on paper vs in practice thing

Once they start knowing how the basic game functions they will see that on paper and in practice a kineticist isn't much to look at compared to quite a few other classes.

Lanathar wrote:


As to gather power - I know it says a 20ft radius but I struggle to see how the sound gets immediately muffled at 25ft. Is that really the interpretation. That is not really how sound works

Pathfinder often breaks many things that we would consider normal in real life. Its also a magic ability so it does what it wants.


The visual display is a 20ft radius visual display. The sound effect is extremely loud. You don't need to be inside the display to see it, that's just silly. I'm not saying that "extremely loud" is equivalent to blowing a signal horn, which would alert everyone in a half mile that you were gathering power and eventually lead to noise complaints, but I'd say it's probably in the area of "notice a visible creature" if not "hear the sound of battle".


ErichAD wrote:
The visual display is a 20ft radius visual display. The sound effect is extremely loud. You don't need to be inside the display to see it, that's just silly. I'm not saying that "extremely loud" is equivalent to blowing a signal horn, which would alert everyone in a half mile that you were gathering power and eventually lead to noise complaints, but I'd say it's probably in the area of "notice a visible creature" if not "hear the sound of battle".

The ability makes it pretty clear that's both the sound and the visual effects in the 20 foot radius, this would also not be the 1st thing to break normal laws of physics magic is literally based on breaking those laws and its a magical ability.


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Quote:
Gathering power creates an extremely loud, visible display in a 20-foot radius centered on the kineticist, as the energy or matter swirls around her.

Magic or not, the ability isn't described as being invisible and silent outside of that 20 foot radius. It gives a size, it gives a volume, that's it.


ErichAD wrote:
Quote:
Gathering power creates an extremely loud, visible display in a 20-foot radius centered on the kineticist, as the energy or matter swirls around her.
Magic or not, the ability isn't described as being invisible and silent outside of that 20 foot radius. It gives a size, it gives a volume, that's it.

Fireball doesn't state it doesn't do damage outside its 20 foot radius either. Are you going to have fireball do damage outside its radius at diminishing returns?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The way I read gather power, and I've played about 4 kineticists in PFS, is that the visual display takes up the 20 foot radius. A good visualization of it would probably be watching people power up in Dragon Ball Z. Most of them would be built as air kineticists anyway.


Lanathar wrote:
So he started off with d6+5 damage at point blank shot and 17 AC and 12 HP

This sounds like a weak barbarian with a wasted feat to me.


Rub-Eta wrote:
Lanathar wrote:
So he started off with d6+5 damage at point blank shot and 17 AC and 12 HP
This sounds like a weak barbarian with a wasted feat to me.

Yes I know all of this.

But it doesn’t stop the eye rolling when it comes to sharing what everyone has got each level

I have also reiterated the team game nature and the fact that it is a group effort

I will talk to them
I just wanted to see if any of it seemed particularly unreasonable- which I never thought it was. I wanted some confirmation


Yeah, that's hardly impressive. Good maybe, but not unheard of by any means.

First level is tough equipment wise, but your sword and board guy should catch up in AC - and get ahead - once he can afford actual armor.
He should also have at least 12 HP as well - that's a mere 12 Con and the FCB, on a tanky fighter you'd almsot expect that.
Probably a d8+3 dmg which is only 1 behind on average - and would be +5 with Power Attack, which he should really grab.

I don't see how the kineticist outshines the rest so badly.
If it's a build issue, maybe help them a bit, if they're open to the idea ?
Or just ask them to be a little bit patient, a few levels should normalize things as long as they don't shoot themselves in the foot.
Because really, if that's an issue, things will be much worse once the spellcasters really get going in a few levels.

Edit : ah, ninja'd.
Nothinh abnormal here indeed. Could it be that they just don't know the class well enough and are worried new thing is OP and broken ? It is a bit of an unusual one.


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doomman47 wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
Quote:
Gathering power creates an extremely loud, visible display in a 20-foot radius centered on the kineticist, as the energy or matter swirls around her.
Magic or not, the ability isn't described as being invisible and silent outside of that 20 foot radius. It gives a size, it gives a volume, that's it.
Fireball doesn't state it doesn't do damage outside its 20 foot radius either. Are you going to have fireball do damage outside its radius at diminishing returns?

The distance at which fireball's damage ceases is covered in the rules. What doesn't appear in the rules is fireball being invisible outside of the blast radius.


doomman47 wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
Quote:
Gathering power creates an extremely loud, visible display in a 20-foot radius centered on the kineticist, as the energy or matter swirls around her.
Magic or not, the ability isn't described as being invisible and silent outside of that 20 foot radius. It gives a size, it gives a volume, that's it.
Fireball doesn't state it doesn't do damage outside its 20 foot radius either. Are you going to have fireball do damage outside its radius at diminishing returns?

I think what it really means is a +4 to perception (20' worth of perception negatives) to notice the Kinetisist vs the rest of the party. Also, in the middle of combat you should just automatically notice the ostentatious display of power unless there is some sort of visual and audio barrier/distraction. No sniping for a kinetisist using Gather Power.

Silver Crusade

Lanathar wrote:

So he started off with d6+5 damage at point blank shot and 17 AC and 12 HP

This put him on joint most HP and AC and most consistent damar output

Your players would be outraged at my Hell's Rebels character: a halfling Dawnflower Dervish Bard. :) At 1st lvl, she had 19 AC, 14 HP, and with Battle Dance, +7 to hit and 1d4+6 damage, in addition to having bard skills, and some spells

I'm guessing the other players have low optimization builds, if they think the kineticist is OP at lvl 2.


So, just to mention...

Kineticists are good at long days of combat, they can use their SLA constantly. If the party has a Wizard or other low level Caster, they may feel outshone if they've prepared blasting spells. For instance, a Wizard can only deal 1d4+1 at first level with a Magic Missile or 1d6 damage with a Snowball. They can only do this a couple of times per day, so they might feel bad in comparison to the person who is basically an Elemental Archer. The Wizard should be making use of other spells that do battle field manipulation or party buffing instead.

Kineticists also start out quite good, they have decent HP values thanks to using Con as their casting stat. They also tend to have high ACs as they are not punished for wearing armor and need Dex to hit with their attacks. Statting a Kineticist isn't terribly hard.

One important thing to remember is that your Kineticist is using ranged attacks, and so anything that helps to avoid ranged attacks will help boost your enemy's defenses. Notably, without Precise Shot your Kineticist is suffering from a -4 to shoot into melee. They will also suffer from the normal penalties involving cover.

I suggest designing an encounter with plenty of pillars that provide cover against ranged fire. Even better if those pillars can be tipped over to remove the cover and allow your kineticist a shot.


Lanathar wrote:
And should I nerf elemental whispers? I can’t fathom why it is so much better than a wizard familiar. Is it supposed to make up for not having things like share spells?

How about making up for not being the strongest and most versatile class in the game? Seriously, Wizard is a prepared full caster with the easily best spell list in the game, what's so bad about other classes having class features that are better?

Lanathar wrote:
Indeed it is that knowledge of the game that is making them raise their eyebrows because it seems like the class gains far more that most do on levelling.

Quite frankly, tell them to grow up. This sounds a bit like "whaaa, the other kids in kindergarten got more candy than me!" to me. If you'd show them how many bonus feats and -equivalents a Zen Archer gets during the early levels, they'd probably get a heart attack (or is that tantrum fit?).

Seriously, this is second level. The game hasn't even really begun.

ShroudedInLight wrote:
If the party has a Wizard or other low level Caster, they may feel outshone if they've prepared blasting spells. For instance, a Wizard can only deal 1d4+1 at first level with a Magic Missile or 1d6 damage with a Snowball. They can only do this a couple of times per day, so they might feel bad in comparison to the person who is basically an Elemental Archer.

That has nothing to do with Kineticist, though - replace the Kineticist with an archer and you have the same result. If you play an unoptimized blaster, other characters can easily end up doing more damage. That's not a bug, that's intended! The Wizard could end the entire combat by casting Color Spray or Sleep, a choice that the Kineticist, archer, Barbarian etc. doesn't have.


Regardless of Power Level or optimization, the GM here has a problem. His party does not like a certain party member. Before dropping a meteor on the rest of party or just the kineticist, either would work, you should try to talk to the kineticist and see if he could down play his damage. Instead of cheering or jeering when he one-hit kills a mook, he could just end his turn. He can keep his damage output but he'd have to step out of the spotlight. If that would ruin his experience then ask him if he'd like to make another character.

It sounds like his character is sapping the fun out of the game for the rest so this conversation needs to happen. I don't think you can solve your table's problems from behind the GM screen. You may be surprised by your player's maturity. Maybe he'll be allowed to stay and you just throw more bones towards the rest of the party like everyone else suggests. You'll never find balance because no one would debate that a 12th level Fighter is as powerful as a 12th level Wizard. Just make sure everyone is having fun but that will require getting everyone together to see what would be fun for everyone.


You say melee can be 5' step solved, there should be 2 people on him some time, it'll really mess him up. I hadn't heard anything about a kineticist getting emotion dependant problems, but I can tell you that a ranged SLA provokes once for the spell like ability and then again for the ranged attack roll. That means if he's crowded, he's going to suffer hard or skip his turn on full defense.

Are you being sure to track his burn, which should lower his max hp by quite a lot?

Are the other players reasonably optimized or is he the only one who put his stats in the right place?

Kineticist has a very high optimization floor, meaning you kind of have to work a bit to make a bad kineticist. They don't have a super high optimization ceiling, which means you have to work very, very hard to really break them. Still, there are some things this class just does better than others (like any class does something best). The kineticist will almost universally excell at mid ranged combat, and can be great as a utility debuffer with the right build choices. They don't stack well with most magic items and normal feats though, so their power almost exclusively comes from the class itself. Remember that defense bonus from water is either a shield or an armor bonus: it doesn't stack with the usual +1 chainmail and a buckler, it'll overwrite one of them (and it's a smaller bonus if it's used as a shield than as an armor).

Elemental overflow is important to the class, be sure to calculate that right... But also pay close attention to what infusion specialization can and can't cover. It handles forms and substances - not meta like empower or composite.

A hydro kineticist can deal bludgeoning or cold at low levels, give Dr/slashing and his damage will drop (unless it's also able to be bypassed by magic, which the blast counts as). The same for cold energy resistance (though if he's doing cold he shouldn't be getting the full con bonus to damage, or the +1 per die).

He's going to be fairly accurate because he's using a dex based character if he's doing it right (to hit and armor class, stacks with my water shroud? Absolutely), and he'll have great con as well (can't get away from con in this class). What he won't have is great max hp after his daily burn (once he's using it to pump his shield up in the morning and trigger his overflow). He will have low will saves (dominate person, suggestion) unless he spends resources to protect against that. So he'll be hard to hit, but go down quickly to a good solid arrow to the chest, or a few thugs getting in close for lucky AoO hits.

Consider also that unless he gets the appropriate feats, he's vulnerable to hitting his allies in melee when you swarm them instead of him. You can just about put that 2d6+6 to work for you with the right planning and bad dice rolls.

There's a lot of ups and downs, but when people tell me the kineticist is broken, good or bad, I have a tendency to ask what home rules are in effect, what they've forgotten about the class, and what the other characters are doing that makes this so far out of power scale.

I hope this helps!


The solution is simple, get new players. I'm only half joking. Because this is some really petty jealousy. I'll get to that later.

Now, it's possible you sold the kineticist wrong. It's a blaster with very limited utility and defensive powers who trades out the flexibility of actual spells (like a wizard or sorcerer) for the ability to blast all day. It's basically the 3.5 Warlock in the regard. And at low levels the biggest downsides (one big attack, SR/ER/DR) aren't a problem yet. I can tell you from personal experience, your kineticist will eventually be riding a rollercoaster of happiness and disappointment (especially when they use burn). Beat the SR check! Rolled a 1 for the touch attack. My player's average damage is probably about right with the rest of the party, it just doesn't feel that way when he whiffs 2/3 shots that battle. Again, especially if he blows burn and misses. That's a terrible feeling.

That all being said (and you should convey some of that to your players) their problem seems to be (from what you've relayed) that the kineticist gets more class features and that they have better raw combat stats. For the class features, well, your players can read, right? They should have known going in what their class provides. And unless they're new they should also know generally what other classes provide. Choosing fighter and then complaining you don't get anything but feats requires willful ignorance. As for the combat stats, both players intentially built poorer damage dealers (one a weaker style, the other with stat issues). As others have said, a Barbarian with a greatsword will still do more. Heck, a Warrior with a greatsword will probably do more (higher attack bonus). You can't complain your race car goes slower than the others if you put a half-ton steel T-Rex on top of it. Or in your player's case, "how come their focused damage dealer does more damage than my defensive character?".

The solution, as always, is sit down with your players and discuss it like reasonable people. But while I know this board seems to be fond of "do whatever the majority wants", sometimes the majority is in the wrong. Don't screw the kineticist player just because other players think they're too powerful. Nothing you've mentioned it out of line for an NPC class with Core only equipment and feats. Unless you force them to build for @#$%^& damage they can just come back with a Barbarian or Fighter or Ranger or Paladin or almost any other @#$%ing martial class, a two-handed weapon, and Power Attack and meet or beat their old numbers. The kineticist doesn't need to be brought down, the others need to be brought up. Well, or not make terrible choices in the first place.


It's not every day I login to the paizo boards, then instantly see a thread about my character on the top of the page :p

I browse the advice board regularly and since I'm newish to the game and class so I try read all the posts in regards to the kineticists.. I was quite surprised whilst reading this one and recognizing all the situations mentioned that Lanathar was my GM and this was a thread about me.

I've already spoken to Lanathar about this at great length to address the issues, but I'd really like to also take a moment to share my thoughts on this as the player in question.

At first I was literally horrified to read that my group were feeling animosity towards my character especially when they taught me how to play the game! I remember feeling the same way in my first few sessions in a different game when everyone was dishing out major damage and my s!$@ty druid could just about land a firebolt if I was lucky.. That was 2 years ago, and I haven't stopped reading about the game since. I'm sort of glad my character build is a bit better then what it was however most importantly to me I would never want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or awkward in our game,I still see myself as new to tabletop gaming, and very much just want to get drunk and roll dice with friends who I've known for 20 years.

Anyway upon talking to Lanathar, it seems like it was a mix of the other party members not knowing the kineticist class, me having some decent dice luck (it was going so well until our last session. Now I'm playing a literal toothless old man) and also generally not playing the character stupidly (I'm hardly going to run a ranged character into melee combat intentionally)

That said I personally echo the sentiments that the Kineticist class feels quite good early doors, but I know full well that won't last forever. I hope he does okay, I've certainly put a lot of time and effort into building him, and honestly am proud that the time and effort I've put into researching and building the character is reflected in how he's worked out in game so far. I also agree 100% that gathering power is a huge "come get me beacon" and it absolutely should be, I don't want to play a game with free power ups. Part of the reason I chose the class is because I love the idea of a risk/reward character who takes damage to deal it.

I know full well the character isn't optimal, and the class itself isn't amazing. I built him because I'm a huge fan of Avatar the last airbender and wanted to make one for our campaign. I'm not going to sugarcoat it, I've certainly made mechanical choices where applicable (Hedgehog Familiar to counteract awful will saves) but overall I wanted to make a thematic character who I'm hoping will have a decent narrative arc (provided I don't get killed off by my GM or apparently the near mutinous party :P)

Anyway I hope this provides an interesting read for anyone who perhaps comes across this issue in their future game.

tldr- I'm the kineticist player in question here, and I was a bit sad to read the initial post, but I think the general tone of this thread has supported Lanathars view that the class isn't broken as much it initially seemed.


ErichAD wrote:
doomman47 wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
Quote:
Gathering power creates an extremely loud, visible display in a 20-foot radius centered on the kineticist, as the energy or matter swirls around her.
Magic or not, the ability isn't described as being invisible and silent outside of that 20 foot radius. It gives a size, it gives a volume, that's it.
Fireball doesn't state it doesn't do damage outside its 20 foot radius either. Are you going to have fireball do damage outside its radius at diminishing returns?
The distance at which fireball's damage ceases is covered in the rules. What doesn't appear in the rules is fireball being invisible outside of the blast radius.

no its not, it simply states fireball does this damage inside this radius it says nothing about that damage not continuing on outside the radius. We run the game that it does not do damage outside the radius because it calls out a radius and common sense dictates that it should not do damage out side of its area, thing is gather power also has the same thing x effect when with in x radius everything outside that radius is unaffected.


Shiroi wrote:

but I can tell you that a ranged SLA provokes once for the spell like ability and then again for the ranged attack roll. That means if he's crowded, he's going to suffer hard or skip his turn on full defense.

One action can not provoke more than aoo per person so despite being a ranged sla it would only provoke 1 aoo per person threatening them.


doomman47 wrote:
Shiroi wrote:

but I can tell you that a ranged SLA provokes once for the spell like ability and then again for the ranged attack roll. That means if he's crowded, he's going to suffer hard or skip his turn on full defense.

One action can not provoke more than aoo per person so despite being a ranged sla it would only provoke 1 aoo per person threatening them.

Casting a spell (or spell-like ability) and making the resulting ranged attack provoke two separate attacks of opportunity. Of course, unless Combat Reflexes are in play this probably doesn't matter.


blahpers wrote:
doomman47 wrote:
Shiroi wrote:

but I can tell you that a ranged SLA provokes once for the spell like ability and then again for the ranged attack roll. That means if he's crowded, he's going to suffer hard or skip his turn on full defense.

One action can not provoke more than aoo per person so despite being a ranged sla it would only provoke 1 aoo per person threatening them.
Casting a spell (or spell-like ability) and making the resulting ranged attack provoke two separate attacks of opportunity. Of course, unless Combat Reflexes are in play this probably doesn't matter.

Combat Reflexes and Additional Attacks of Opportunity

If you have the Combat Reflexes feat, you can add your Dexterity modifier to the number of attacks of opportunity you can make in a round. This feat does not let you make more than one attack for a given opportunity, but if the same opponent provokes two attacks of opportunity from you, you could make two separate attacks of opportunity (since each one represents a different opportunity). Moving out of more than one square threatened by the same opponent in the same round doesn’t count as more than one opportunity for that opponent. All these attacks are at your full normal attack bonus.

So while it would provoke 2 attacks attackers can only make 1 attack per opertunity and since 1 action is one opertunity they would only get 1 aoo for a ranged spell despite it provoking twice.

Paizo Employee Designer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
SlammAndrewz wrote:

It's not every day I login to the paizo boards, then instantly see a thread about my character on the top of the page :p

I browse the advice board regularly and since I'm newish to the game and class so I try read all the posts in regards to the kineticists.. I was quite surprised whilst reading this one and recognizing all the situations mentioned that Lanathar was my GM and this was a thread about me.

I know full well the character isn't optimal, and the class itself isn't amazing. I built him because I'm a huge fan of Avatar the last airbender and wanted to make one for our campaign. I'm not going to sugarcoat it, I've certainly made mechanical choices where applicable (Hedgehog Familiar to counteract awful will saves) but overall I wanted to make a thematic character who I'm hoping will have a decent narrative arc (provided I don't get killed off by my GM or apparently the near mutinous party :P)

Anyway I hope this provides an interesting read for anyone who perhaps comes across this issue in their future game.

tldr- I'm the kineticist player in question here, and I was a bit sad to read the initial post, but I think the general tone of this thread has supported Lanathars view that the class isn't broken as much it initially seemed.

As the author of the kineticist class (which I guess I didn't say in my first response, but there ya go), I'm glad you've been enjoying the kineticist and I hope your group will mellow out a bit in their views as you continue onward. As to AtLA, let's just say, I was definitely researching various elemental users, including watching Legend of Korra as important work-related research, as I worked on the class.


doomman47 wrote:
blahpers wrote:
doomman47 wrote:
Shiroi wrote:

but I can tell you that a ranged SLA provokes once for the spell like ability and then again for the ranged attack roll. That means if he's crowded, he's going to suffer hard or skip his turn on full defense.

One action can not provoke more than aoo per person so despite being a ranged sla it would only provoke 1 aoo per person threatening them.
Casting a spell (or spell-like ability) and making the resulting ranged attack provoke two separate attacks of opportunity. Of course, unless Combat Reflexes are in play this probably doesn't matter.

Combat Reflexes and Additional Attacks of Opportunity

If you have the Combat Reflexes feat, you can add your Dexterity modifier to the number of attacks of opportunity you can make in a round. This feat does not let you make more than one attack for a given opportunity, but if the same opponent provokes two attacks of opportunity from you, you could make two separate attacks of opportunity (since each one represents a different opportunity). Moving out of more than one square threatened by the same opponent in the same round doesn’t count as more than one opportunity for that opponent. All these attacks are at your full normal attack bonus.

So while it would provoke 2 attacks attackers can only make 1 attack per opertunity and since 1 action is one opertunity they would only get 1 aoo for a ranged spell despite it provoking twice.

Did you actually read the FAQ, they are 2 separate events. 1 AAO for the spell like ability, 1 AAO for the ranged attack in melee. That fAQ is insanely clear


Ryan Freire wrote:
doomman47 wrote:
blahpers wrote:
doomman47 wrote:
Shiroi wrote:

but I can tell you that a ranged SLA provokes once for the spell like ability and then again for the ranged attack roll. That means if he's crowded, he's going to suffer hard or skip his turn on full defense.

One action can not provoke more than aoo per person so despite being a ranged sla it would only provoke 1 aoo per person threatening them.
Casting a spell (or spell-like ability) and making the resulting ranged attack provoke two separate attacks of opportunity. Of course, unless Combat Reflexes are in play this probably doesn't matter.

Combat Reflexes and Additional Attacks of Opportunity

If you have the Combat Reflexes feat, you can add your Dexterity modifier to the number of attacks of opportunity you can make in a round. This feat does not let you make more than one attack for a given opportunity, but if the same opponent provokes two attacks of opportunity from you, you could make two separate attacks of opportunity (since each one represents a different opportunity). Moving out of more than one square threatened by the same opponent in the same round doesn’t count as more than one opportunity for that opponent. All these attacks are at your full normal attack bonus.

So while it would provoke 2 attacks attackers can only make 1 attack per opertunity and since 1 action is one opertunity they would only get 1 aoo for a ranged spell despite it provoking twice.

Did you actually read the FAQ, they are 2 separate events. 1 AAO for the spell like ability, 1 AAO for the ranged attack in melee. That fAQ is insanely clear

2 provocations on 1 action so while it does technically provoke 2 times, the user of combat reflexes can still only make 1 aoo on the target because the rules for combat reflexes states it does not allow for more than one attack per action. The faq doesn't change that it is simply specifying that yes the ability would have two provocations they can not act on both of them because of the way combat reflexes works.


The FAQ literally says you can dude. You don't provoke off actions, you provoke off events. You can't combat reflexes twice on the cast, you can once off the cast, once off the ranged attack.

As an example, look at the builds for feint/aoo teamwork blenders for hunters. AOOs allowing you to AOO aren't actions, they're events that provoke an attack of opportunity.


Ryan Freire wrote:

The FAQ literally says you can dude. You don't provoke off actions, you provoke off events. You can't combat reflexes twice on the cast, you can once off the cast, once off the ranged attack.

As an example, look at the builds for feint/aoo teamwork blenders for hunters. AOOs allowing you to AOO aren't actions, they're events that provoke an attack of opportunity.

If they worked that way you would have movement provoking multiple aoos from the same movement phase they which they do not since moving out of each threatened square would be a different "event".


Read the FAQ.

Movement is one event that provokes you don't take your movement in 5" increments.

Casting is a separate event from the ranged attack.

Also...read the FAQ

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