Biohacker: Studious (Int) vs. Instinctive (Wis)


General Discussion


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Let's talk about the pros and cons of the two Scientific Method choices for the Biohacker.

Will save

You have a weak will save, but if you're a Studious biohacker you get a scaling bonus (+1 to +4) to your will save, and if you're an Instinctive biohacker wisdom is your key ability score, so effectively you're a medium to nearly-high will save with either choice. Instinctive will tend to be ahead of the Studious, probably significantly so. Studious can match or nearly so if they invest in Wisdom, but they have little reason to do so other than will save - none of their class skills work off wisdom, and they have little incentive to dabble in Mysticism or Survival as non-class skills.

I think Instinctive has the clear but minor advantage here, paid for by the later skill attribute swaps.

Skills - Number of Ranks

You have 4+Int (Technomancer skill ranks, but with four extra class skills), except the Instinctive gets two free ranks per level, so effectively 6+Int. Unlike the will save offset, this doesn't scale, so we can expect the Studious to pull ahead and win, perhaps significantly so if the Instinctive never invests in Int.

Which he might, because in addition to more skill ranks, it still boosts your class skills in Computers, Culture, and Engineering, and unlike the Studious you can get insight bonuses to those skills, so you might go for a biohacker who doubles as an engineer/hacker using boosters for his own skill checks to nearly rival Technomancer/Engineer bonuses. It makes you more MAD to do so, though, so it's a cost in combat effectiveness/survivability. And note that a pure Int Studious can do about as well or slightly better at most levels taking Skill Focus/Synergy in those tech skills.

I think Studious has a moderate edge for what I think "normal" builds will be, paid for by the later insight bonus inflexibility.


Skills - Attribute Bonus

Studious gets to use Int with the normal Wis skills of Perception and Sense Motive, and has no other uses for Wis. The Instinctive gets to use Wis with the normal Int skills of Life Science, Medicine, and Physical Science, but still would still require Int for useful class skill options in Computers, Culture, and Engineering.

I think Studious has the clear advantage here, paid for by the will save difference.

Skills - Insight Bonuses

Studious gets a scaling 1-6 insight bonus to Life Science, Physical Science, and Medicine. This makes it better than the typical Instinctive at recall knowledge and monster identification through the custom microlab, as well as healing via the Medicine skill. But biohackers have lots of non-skill options to replace or supplement the medicine skill, so this is kind of weak stuff.

Instinctive gets to pick two skills of its choice (the same ones it will get free ranks in) to apply the same insight bonuses. Two vs. three, but it can pick much stronger skills. Yet at the same time it doesn't make a lot of sense to put them in anything with a weak attribute, so you're limited to Wis or Dex skills unless you want to be MAD. So you can easily be a top pilot, stealth expert assassin, or detective with boosted sense motive and perception. If you're willing to be MAD you can even be a face who adds move action demoralize to his debuffing tookit or an all around tech expert who opens doors and computers as easily as you fix people.

This is a clear lead by the Instinctive biohacker - you get fewer skill ranks, but you can customize your best skills.


Spark of Ingenuity

Only available 1-3 times per day, and a relatively late ability, this isn't that important (I can definitely see trading out the 9th level use for a good archetype), but it is your surge ability against a tough boss fight.

Studious can combine two basic/minor biohacks into a single effect. It costs two uses of biohacks, but not only has action economy efficiency but is the only way to make a single enemy/ally effected by two of your biohacks at the same time. That's good!

Instinctive has more complex options. At 6th level you can't effect your inhibitors (but see dazzled below), but you can add an effect to a booster to remove dazzled, fascinated, or shaken from an ally (only the last of which is worth anything). At 9th you can also remove deafened, fatigued, off-target, or sickened, which is quite nice. Additionally, you can add off-target (-2 to attack) to an inhibitor, which is pretty good, if not nearly as powerful as many of the options available to a Studious one who took appropriate Field of Study options. Finally, you can add dazzled (-1 to attack and perception) to any inhibitor. The placement of this at the end implies that the design team collectively had an aneurysm and intended this to be a level 9 option that competes with off-target. I choose to believe, however, that it's an editing error and actually intended to be an always available option at level 6, which makes more sense as an entry level offensive option.

Studious dominates offensively, you can pick some amazing field of study boosters (which count as basic biohacks unless a rule says otherwise, so they can be combined with Spark of Ingenuity) and combo them for really punishing debuffs, like -2 AC plus energy vulnerability, or sickened (-2 to saves and attacks) plus a debuff to fort or will save. Instinctive has some great options to pull moderate debuffs off an ally mid-combat at the same time you buff them, but it does overlap with some other options available via fields of study (which are duration limited) or the lower level Treat Condition theorems (but require touch range and that's all you get for your standard action).

I personally prefer Studious, but I think these are well balanced.


Theorem - Field Dressing

I think this is too few uses and too little healing to be a very good option for your standard action in combat, but if you take it Studious heals HP (keep people alive/up and save on serums of healing) and Instinctive heals SP (keep people up, but also potentially save the need for an RP on a rest).

Given the overall limitations on this theorem I wouldn't take it at all, but I think HP is probably more likely to be a "I need to do this NOW" use than a small SP boost that might not make a difference anyway.

Not taking this theorem wins, Studious in a distant second, but Instinctive close behind.

Theorem - Medication Mastery

This is an amazing theorem that gives you Key Attribute Score per 10 minute rests free medicinals you can shoot just like biohacks. And since they're not biohacks, their debuffs (when applicable) overlap with inhibitors.

Everyone gets analgesics (flat-footed for 1 scaling to 4 rounds, plus save bonus to pain effects), antitoxins (a huge bonus to poison saves that lasts for HOURS), and sedative (quite large bonus nonlethal damage, or get a reroll with bonus against a emotion/fear effect you're under).

But each Scientific Method also gets two medicinals unique to it. Studious gets antiemetics (bonus to sicken/nausea effects or a reroll) and coagulants (bleed immunity for 1-4 minutes, but also a 1-4 penalty to Acrobatics/Athletics checks AND REFLEX SAVES. Instinctive gets excitants (bonus to fatigue/exhaustion effects, but also with a -2 penalty to Dex skill checks), and stimulants (ignore fatigue/exhaustion for a number of rounds, but become exhausted if you weren't already when it runs out).

Studious has the clear advantage on specialized medicinals, with a useful save booster/reroll and punishing reflex save debuff not otherwise available to a biohacker); Instinctive might never or almost never use its fatigue related abilities. But honestly the basic medicinals are so awesome that an Instinctive biohacker needs to take this anyway and can happily do nothing but spam those.

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