Engineer Investigator Archetype - Custom Mechanism (Ex)


Rules Questions

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

I'm curious how people feel this should work

text from Construct handbook:
Custom Mechanism (Ex): An engineer can create a mechanism, a small device that assists with the execution of an activity. Creating a mechanism requires 1 minute of time and expends 1 use from the engineer’s inspiration pool. An engineer chooses a skill to associate with the mechanism when he creates it.

As an immediate action, a mechanism can be activated to grant the engineer’s inspiration die on a check of the associated skill. An engineer can create a mechanism that affects attack rolls or saving throws, but she expends 2 uses from her inspiration pool to do so. Any creature can use a mechanism, but a creature can have only 1 mechanism at a time, as multiple mechanisms interfere with each other while in close proximity.

A mechanism remains active for a number of minutes equal to the engineer’s Intelligence modifier (minimum 1). At 5th level, an engineer’s mechanisms remain active for a number of minutes equal to the engineer’s level. At 11th level, an engineer’s mechanisms remain active for a number of hours equal to the engineer’s level.
This replaces the trapfinding, poison lore, and poison resistance class features.
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so as I read it:
the engineer takes a minute to build a mechanism and, because the inspiration is expended in the creation, that point of inspiration is now vested in the mech.
there is no limit on how long it can remain invested in the mechanism nor is there any stated way to de-vest the inspiration from the device, except by using it.
Although it is not stated, it seems reasonable for this to work like a asmodean spellcasting contract, meaning that no matter how much time passes the engineer can't regain that inspiration until it is released by activation of the mech.

where I think there is more potential for confusion or abuse is in the effect:
it says it works on "...a check of the associated skill."
Does that "a check" mean (1)a single check or (2) all checks on the associated skill during the active period - this seems reasonable but...

It says "Any creature can use a mechanism"
Does the Any mean (1)all creatures, (2)Any one creature (presumably the activator), or (3)the Activator's allies in close proximity?

It doesn't define close proximity - I assume 30 feet but you could argue more or less

If it is interpreted as (2)Any/all checks and (2) any one creature which seems the most reasonable to me then...

for 2 inspiration you can give an untyped d6 to attack or saves as immediate action for several minutes.

Because it doesn't modify or replace Inspiration you can still use it the normal way as a free or immediate action. So, while you can't get 2d6 via inspiration explicitly, you can get both options at your disposal....a long acting version with a minute of prep and an immediate option without prep.

Does this seem as powerful as I think it is? Am I misreading this?


Yeah, I think you are misreading it. It gives a bonus to one check when the user spends an immediate action. As I read it the user can spend that action only when the mechanism is active - within a few minutes of it being created until the engineer reaches 11th level, when it becomes within hours of the mechanism's creation.


As you note, it never says you lose inspiration each day for each mechanism you have (theoretically you can have one for everything it works on, and only benefit from 1 at a time), but that problem is easily nixed by GMs.

By associated skill, they refer to the skill it benefits. It would apply to all checks in that time. I would say it is a held device, so you need to be holding it to benefit.

While strong, it isn't overtly so, imo.


A check means a check. Just one. I don't see any way to read 'a' as 'every'.

Any creature means.. any creature. Any creature can activate the mechanism as an immediate action to gain the bonus to one check. Again I don't see a way to read any as all here, especially when the idea of a radius is never even implied.

Effectively the investigator gains the ability to give an ally one use of inspiration with the caveats that it has to be prepared ahead of time, requires an immediate action to activate and has a timer on how long you can wait before using it, with the side benefit of being able to bank extra inspiration at the end of the day once you're past level 11.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Glad there is no clear consensus. because I think its a terribly worded class feature.

You activate it as an immediate action but it remains active, at level 11, for 11 hours.... that seems unnecessary if it is only for a single check. Some appear to be taking the position that the active period is the period from the point of creation until the mech becomes inert, regardless of whether it was activated, I took the position that the active period doesn't begin until the immediate action activation.
activate simply means make active so i feel like its a solid interpretation but agree that the mech not having a limitation on duration is problematic.

for anyone taking the position "a check" means a single check,
doesn't the phrase "An engineer can create a mechanism that affects attack rolls or saving throws, but she expends 2 uses from her inspiration pool to do so" mean more than one attack roll by using the s?

No GM in their right mind would let you build rooms full over several days and just use them as needed for each situation - but it's not explicitly excluded by the phrasing.

I think I'd let any number be created, up to the total inspiration pool.
they can be activated at any time but retain the expended inspiration pool until used or the engineer disables the mech.

for simplicity, each mech only benefits the activator and it must be on the activator's person - and only one at a time can be active for that person (although I'd allow inactive ones to be carried)

I'd let it impact multiple checks of whatever sort it is keyed to - but I'd cap it at min/level duration - hours would be insane if multiple checks are permitted - (but I think it is under powered and inconsistent with the active period to only affect a single check)


Stephen Sheahan wrote:
You activate it as an immediate action but it remains active, at level 11, for 11 hours.... that seems unnecessary if it is only for a single check.

It would be if it worked that way, but I'm not sure that interpretation makes a lot of sense. I mean, you said so yourself. That's kind of an argument against your own reading of the ability.

Quote:
for anyone taking the position "a check" means a single check, doesn't the phrase "An engineer can create a mechanism that affects attack rolls or saving throws, but she expends 2 uses from her inspiration pool to do so" mean more than one attack roll by using the s?

Not really. Inspiration uses the exact same wording and I've never seen anyone argue that a single use of Inspiration effects multiple attack rolls.

Quote:
No GM in their right mind would let you build rooms full over several days and just use them as needed for each situation - but it's not explicitly excluded by the phrasing.

No, but you are excluded by the duration. You can never have more than a day's worth of them because the longest they can ever last is 20 hours.

Quote:
they can be activated at any time but retain the expended inspiration pool until used or the engineer disables the mech.

What does retain the expended inspiration pool mean? You're not investing points, you're spending them like normal, just in such a way that allows someone else to gain the benefits later.

Quote:
although I'd allow inactive ones to be carried

That's pretty explicitly against the text of the skill. Even twisting wording as much as possible I don't see a way around "a creature can only have one mechanism at a time."

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