Unstable


Inventor Class

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Scarab Sages

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So, I'm liking a lot of what I'm seeing with the Inventor (I think there may be too much overlap with the Alchemist for my liking thematically, but that ship appears to have sailed) but Unstable is something I'm not digging.

Unstable yields a powerful effect, that you can only use on innovations (of which you appear to only ever have 1), and there's a 10 minute activity to reset it so you can do it again....This is a Focus Pool. Sure, there's a DC 17 check to try doing it again, but that's the only difference. You could just add a class action that's a DC 17 flat check Free Action to regain a Focus Point, and it's functioning the same but doesn't require the addition of a whole new mechanic.

For streamlining and ease of play I'm not a fan of near-identical mechanics. I'm betting part of this is so that it functions in places like the Mana Wastes, but a modifying clause in their rules should accomplish the same thing. If Oracles can have a weird focus pool, why not Inventors as well?


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Disagree. I like that it's not focus.


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Yeah. If you fail the unstable check, your innovation should explode.


Why would they have a focus pool? They have no spells to spend that focus on. The similarity is good because it's easy to intuit while still having obvious distinction behind how and why it works. I don't know of any other nonmagical ability which uses Focus so I see no reason for it to translate into Focus. Not the least of which reason being that gaining more focus points (whether by class feats or becoming a sorcerer and learning some bloodline spells) does not seem to translate into being able to make your device explode more times without malfunction?

Scarab Sages

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Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
Why would they have a focus pool? They have no spells to spend that focus on. The similarity is good because it's easy to intuit while still having obvious distinction behind how and why it works. I don't know of any other nonmagical ability which uses Focus so I see no reason for it to translate into Focus. Not the least of which reason being that gaining more focus points (whether by class feats or becoming a sorcerer and learning some bloodline spells) does not seem to translate into being able to make your device explode more times without malfunction?

We could also move away from focus being strictly spells, and have Focus Abilities. Monk was halfway there with Focus Stances.

As for gaining more focus, just cap their pool at 1 point and make it never increase.

The explosion can still happen on a failure as well, my proposition is by no means exhaustive


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I like that it isn't Focus, and instead involves some randomness over whether your gadget fritzes out. I do think there should be some mid/low-level support to bring the DC down from 17, and not just a high-ish level class feat that lets you completely skip the check (at the cost of losing further unstable actions until you retune your doodad).


If they went focus, then you are basically just porting over the Warcaster from Iron Kingdoms. I mean, they kind of already are to be honest. They even call the "brain" of your construct minions the "Cortex".

Also, the Inventor as printed is just not a caster. Instead they achieve through Science what others rely on magic to do. I like that niche.

Scarab Sages

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I'll never say no to something like a Warcaster. But more seriously, why can't they have a non magical focus pool?


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Angel Hunter D wrote:
Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
Why would they have a focus pool? They have no spells to spend that focus on. The similarity is good because it's easy to intuit while still having obvious distinction behind how and why it works. I don't know of any other nonmagical ability which uses Focus so I see no reason for it to translate into Focus. Not the least of which reason being that gaining more focus points (whether by class feats or becoming a sorcerer and learning some bloodline spells) does not seem to translate into being able to make your device explode more times without malfunction?

We could also move away from focus being strictly spells, and have Focus Abilities. Monk was halfway there with Focus Stances.

As for gaining more focus, just cap their pool at 1 point and make it never increase.

The explosion can still happen on a failure as well, my proposition is by no means exhaustive

You say the Monk is halfway there, but both of the stances that require a focus point that the Monk can get are explicitly supernatural. I kind of prefer keeping Focus in realm of magic, and the Inventor getting its own limiting factor with Unstable.


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They could, but then it would be just another focus pool. Mad scientists are supposed to have their wacky inventions fritz out when the cool experimental feature is overused! A focus pool wouldn't have that.

I mean, I suppose you could say you have a focus pool of 1, but that you can use your focus (that is, unstable) abilities even if you have no focus points, but then you have to roll a DC 17 flat check or it fritzes and you can't use any more focus (that is, unstable) abilities. But you'd only ever have 1 focus point, so what's the, erm, point?

I mean, I suppose you could add more focus points* so that you can use focus (that is, unstable) abilities X number of times before you risk the short-circuit/mechanism jam/minor explosion, but it really is a different thing.

* Actually there's a 14th-level class feat that kinda, sorta, does that, but not really.

Scarab Sages

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The monk has supernatural abilities, but they are stances and not real spells.

And the whole point is that it would be just another Focus Pool, instead of an entirely new thing that is 90% the same.


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Angel Hunter D wrote:

The monk has supernatural abilities, but they are stances and not real spells.

And the whole point is that it would be just another Focus Pool, instead of an entirely new thing that is 90% the same.

I'd make the argument that Ki abilities Are real spells. They just don't use "standard" spell components. Except when they do, like Ki Strike using a Verbal component.

Focus is intrinsically tied to magic in Pathfinder (the game). I like that they are trying to differentiate what the Inventor does from Focus, rather than just giving us focus pool #10 or so.


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I actually like that mechanically is resembles focus, but I wish the DC started lower, like, say, 10, and then got worse by 5 each time you use an unstable ability until you reset it. I think this would make it feel more different from focus, and would make it easier to get in 2ish uses, since most of the inventor's cool, flashy, in combat stuff are unstable abilities.


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Yeah. I'd even be fine with the DC starting at 17, and coming down a bit as you level up. There's room for a lot of tuning there! I hope they look into that.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

So from a game design elegance thing - I think a focus pool and non-spell focus abilities is cleanest.

From keeping these separate - I really don't want to take a action that has an 80% chance to do nothing. Even if they made it so that you always rolled, even on the first, and it affected subsequent uses, that'd be significantly preferable.


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I think unstable should be a press-your-luck mechanic, as in "the DC for the flat check doesn't start out at max, but it increases each time resetting after you can do maintenance during a 10 minute refractory period."

That would at least give the impression that your thingamajig is overheating, at least.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I think unstable should be a press-your-luck mechanic, as in "the DC for the flat check doesn't start out at max, but it increases each time resetting after you can do maintenance during a 10 minute refractory period."

That would at least give the impression that your thingamajig is overheating, at least.

Yeah, I'd absolutely like to see it be more of this. DC 17 flat check is just something you'll never do except in desperation. Alternatively, maybe have the failure case on that still perform the action, BUT you take some kind of blowback. It still can't take any more unstable actions afterwards until you can find time to reset it.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I, too, like that Unstable is not the same as the Focus. I see what you are endorsing here, but I do not like that. I see more of a difference than a similarity. I like that Focus is magic and that Unstable is not. I prefer the difference they are going for with Unstable; both mechanically and thematically.

As others here have already said, I hope that they even expand on it by making DC adjust with class level, gain additional usage attempts via feats/level, or something else. I like the unexpected, explosive nature of it all and making it more like Focus abilities, but with that unstable DC 17 factor added would just confuse me when I GM a game with both an Inventor and a Focus Spellcaster.


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Just to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the DC 17 flat check being an 80% chance of failure, the designers are already aware of this and have explicitly stated that it is something that will be further examined, so it's not something that particularly needs much focus or discussion. Perhaps to offer alternatives, but at the moment the fact that Unstable has such a low reward for risk is a problem already on the checklist.


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In another post Mark said that it's not supposed to be a DC 17 (probably), at least.

Also, non-magic classes should not get focus spells. If you gave them a focus pool that capped at 1... then okay, you've made them unable to get extra focus points from archetypes. Good job?


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RE: Unstable and Focus.

I don't think it's unfair to say that Focus is generally just magic. It's rules are handled in the Magic section of the rulebook. Focus Spells are called spells, and operate as spells.

Since the Inventor and Gunslinger generally hail from the Mana-Wastes, it stands to reason that none of their abilities should be heavily reliant on Magic. It just wouldn't make too much sense developing such a skill set in an area with either no magic or unreliable magic that relies on magic.

I like the unstable mechanic basically as is, though I think it could use some refinement.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Even beyond the issue of magic vs not, if Unstable was just a focus pool, it would mean any Unstable linked mechanics would have to be balanced like regular focus spell options and Inventors who picked up focus spells via feats would have to juggle them against one of their class' core mechanics

Both of which don't sound good to me.


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Going to toss my hat into the ring as well, with no actual playtesting time, to say that Unstable seems more interesting to me thematicaly and mechanically than Focus Points. You can't rack up more FP to make your unstable actions become more reliable, but you can always really try and push it to have a rather insane turn. I also feel like, generally, unstable actions look to have more impact than your average focus spell. It also makes Unstable Redundancies looks incredibly attractive, especially if you have a build that looks to be attempting two unstable actions a combat.

I think Focus and unstable are very different and don't really muddy the waters of any other mechanics.


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I think unstable is good as a flavorful focus pool. The explosion chance is a non-issue to me. A 20% chance of an additional focus point is better than any other class aside from the oracle. Though the totally-not-magic! aspect of the class when it has infrared see-in-the-dark googles, a semi-sentient construct pet, and ways to build and adjust inventions on the fly makes me roll my eyes.


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I like the unstable mechanic. I would like to see a class feature that let's you use an unstable feature twice before you have to take risks, probably somewhere from level 9 to 13.


Salamileg wrote:
I like the unstable mechanic. I would like to see a class feature that let's you use an unstable feature twice before you have to take risks, probably somewhere from level 9 to 13.

There's actually Unstable Redundancies at level 14!

EDIT: Sorry, class feature, not class feat. My bad.


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We already broke the seal on "martial classes can have non-magical metacurrencies" with the Swashbuckler and Panache.

Scarab Sages

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Panache is binary though, and I wasn't really a fan of that either.


I also like the Unstable mechanic, finding it simple and elegant. I could see a bunch of feats/class features/ Innovation options that make use of it.

Having said that, the same option availability is also true of a focus-pool approach. But I’m pretty happy with it as is...


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
We already broke the seal on "martial classes can have non-magical metacurrencies" with the Swashbuckler and Panache.

Panache isn't really a currency. It's more like a state you get a bonus when you are in and can turn off for a boost.

Scarab Sages

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The reason it seems simple and elegant is because it basically is Focus.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Angel Hunter D wrote:
The reason it seems simple and elegant is because it basically is Focus.

But also separate, unique, and flavorful. No reason to remove what makes it different to jam it into a different box.

Scarab Sages

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Sporkedup wrote:
Angel Hunter D wrote:
The reason it seems simple and elegant is because it basically is Focus.
But also separate, unique, and flavorful. No reason to remove what makes it different to jam it into a different box.

Separate and flavourful, sure. Unique? No.

Wasn't one of the big design goals of 2e to streamline each class having unique but functionally similar resource mechanics? Wasn't that what focus was for?

As for Focus not being a fit because it's not magic, why not? What kind of interesting and cool stuff could we see if there's Martial Focus Powers? That would be a lot more interesting to me, as it could spread and make the game more interesting all around. Maybe it's just me, but I'm seeing a design philosophy crossroad here.


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Unstable seems like a great idea. But the DC is too high. The abilities with this trait are above-average powerful, but not (essentially) once-per-fight powerful.

The flat check should start low and scale up with additional usage. I think scaling depending on each ability would be interesting. Something like:

- The DC starts at 1 (i.e. no check required).
- It goes up by 2 if you use a minor ability like Explode or Explosive Leap.
- It goes up by 4 if you use a more powerful ability like Searing Restoration or Megaton Strike.
- It goes up by 6 if you use a very powerful ability like Clockwork Celerity or Negate Damge.

(Exact numbers should probably be determined by someone with actual design experience.)

This would also open up design space for stuff like having a signature ability, i.e. an ability that has its DC-increase lowered by 1.

I would really love something like this, but it might be a bit too much bookkeeping.


Blave wrote:

Unstable seems like a great idea. But the DC is too high. The abilities with this trait are above-average powerful, but not (essentially) once-per-fight powerful.

The flat check should start low and scale up with additional usage. I think scaling depending on each ability would be interesting. Something like:

- The DC starts at 1 (i.e. no check required).
- It goes up by 2 if you use a minor ability like Explode or Explosive Leap.
- It goes up by 4 if you use a more powerful ability like Searing Restoration or Megaton Strike.
- It goes up by 6 if you use a very powerful ability like Clockwork Celerity or Negate Damge.

(Exact numbers should probably be determined by someone with actual design experience.)

This would also open up design space for stuff like having a signature ability, i.e. an ability that has its DC-increase lowered by 1.

I would really love something like this, but it might be a bit too much bookkeeping.

I would agree that this seems like a lot of bookkeeping. I would prefer a more gambling solution like: First unstable is free, second is DC 11, third and all future attempts are at 16. But that does mean for quite a lot of potential usage of unstable actions. Something that would definitely need to be tested.


Yeah, after thinking this through again, my numbers do seem a bit low, considering most fights are over in like 3-5 rounds, you'd have a good chance to use one Unstable ability per turn without fail.

Still, I think there should be some scaling depending on which ability is used. Explosive Jump putting the same strain on your armor as Negate Damage seems weird.

Maybe the lower level abilites could lose the Unstable trait once you reach a certain level? Being able to use Explosive Leap or Explosion at will by level 9-ish doesn't seem too bad.


Not sure if it's been mentioned yet but there might be a word count reason too. As it stands Unstable takes up one sidebar and a trait tag for each ability that has it. Focus points require spelling out the Focus Pool ability *again* and putting a "Increase the number of Focus Points in your focus pool by 1." with each feat.


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Searing Restoration is a 2nd level class feat that uses a more restricted version of focus points that is nearly strictly worse than Lay on Hands, a Focus spell that is both automatically given to Champions and also available at 2nd level to anyone as part of the Blessed One dedication, a common dedication.

Lay on Hands: Restores ~3HP per level and gives +2 AC for a round. Can be used offensively. Is magical healing, for when that matters.

Searing Restoration: Heals ~2.5HP per level. Has the manipulate tag, meaning it triggers all manner of reactions.

Something isn't right here. Why would an Inventor take this feat when they could just as easily take the Blessed One dedication?

Silver Crusade

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Not everyone wants to play a not-Cleric.


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Djinn71 wrote:

Searing Restoration is a 2nd level class feat that uses a more restricted version of focus points that is nearly strictly worse than Lay on Hands, a Focus spell that is both automatically given to Champions and also available at 2nd level to anyone as part of the Blessed One dedication, a common dedication.

Lay on Hands: Restores ~3HP per level and gives +2 AC for a round. Can be used offensively. Is magical healing, for when that matters.

Searing Restoration: Heals ~2.5HP per level. Has the manipulate tag, meaning it triggers all manner of reactions.

Lay on Hands also has the Manipulate trait via it's somatic component.

You can at least attempt to get a second (and third, and fourth) Searing Restoration before you need to "refocus". And since the unstable trait is still under construction, your chance of success might not be that bad in the end. Even right now, a 20% chance to success on the second use means Searing Restoration will heal 20% more. And 120% of 2.5 HP happen do be 3 HP. So it's roughly equal for out of combat healing.

I would say Searing is weaker overall, mind you. But it's really not too bad.

Quote:
Why would an Inventor take this feat when they could just as easily take the Blessed One dedication?

Because he wants another Dedication instead? Someting like Bastion, Mauler or even Alchemist seem like good and fitting Archetypes for an Inventor. Or because he wants his construct companion to be able to heal allies while he hangs back and shoots his (cross)bow.


On the subject of allies, does Searing Restoration work on your mechanical buddy? Lay on Hands wouldn't, after all.


Djinn71 wrote:

Searing Restoration is a 2nd level class feat that uses a more restricted version of focus points that is nearly strictly worse than Lay on Hands, a Focus spell that is both automatically given to Champions and also available at 2nd level to anyone as part of the Blessed One dedication, a common dedication.

Lay on Hands: Restores ~3HP per level and gives +2 AC for a round. Can be used offensively. Is magical healing, for when that matters.

Searing Restoration: Heals ~2.5HP per level. Has the manipulate tag, meaning it triggers all manner of reactions.

Something isn't right here. Why would an Inventor take this feat when they could just as easily take the Blessed One dedication?

Agreed, the only advantage is that your minion can do it for you and niche things like not breaking Superstitious Barbarian taboo.

1d6HP per level would fix this. Also, some later options to counteract conditions would be nice for those who want to play a Mad Doctor that is not an Alchemist.

Humbly,
Yawar


Perpdepog wrote:
On the subject of allies, does Searing Restoration work on your mechanical buddy? Lay on Hands wouldn't, after all.

Nope.

Playtest wrote:
Special: If your innovation is a minion, it can take this action rather than you. Because it’s not a living creature, it can’t use the ability on itself.


Perpdepog wrote:
On the subject of allies, does Searing Restoration work on your mechanical buddy? Lay on Hands wouldn't, after all.

"Special If your innovation is a minion, it can take this action rather than you. Because it’s not a living creature, it can’t use the ability on itself."

If it can't use it on itself, why would you think it'd work if someone else used it instead? It's still not a living creature. It also has this listed: "Construct Trait
A construct companion has the construct trait. It isn’t a living creature, nor is it undead." As such, it doesn't qualify as "an adjacent living creature" for the ability.


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So my take is that unstable is defiantly cool but that its current mechanic is a bit too limiting.

Unlike focus powers where each new power gives you at least one extra use of your powers per day up to 3, each time you gain another unstable ability you are just adding more things to do with your one slot per 10 minutes.

The 20% chance to use a power again seems cool but given that gives you an 80% chance of wasting your time.

Scarab Sages

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Since I don't think I've seen anyone mention it yet, just wanted to point out that, as written, Clockwork Celerity is not only the only Unstable action I'd consider using with the second attempt, but js so good I feel like its almost a must grab. Since a failed flat check eats the actions used for the Undtable, rolling it off of a Free Action is pretty huge, especially when a success acts like 1e Haste Boots. Having a hard time justifying it for any of the other Unstables, but that feat especially seems very strong as written. Maybe more Free Action Unstables could help for those leery about the high flat check DC if they end up sticking with it.


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maybe instead of adjusting the DC they could make it like the misfire, that you have to spent an action (or two) to "clear" a bothced flat check and go back to be able to use Unstable actions.

this way you have powerful actions with reduced action cost that they basically turn to "+1 action cost" if you fail the flat check which will keep them at least in line or slightly subpar but still usable.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Would anyone think it'd be reasonable if the flat check for Unstable was used when you used the same Unstable action with 10 minutes? Ie You can do both explosive leap and searing restoration for free, but if you tried doing the same action you need to roll it's Unstable check?


Keraki wrote:
Would anyone think it'd be reasonable if the flat check for Unstable was used when you used the same Unstable action with 10 minutes? Ie You can do both explosive leap and searing restoration for free, but if you tried doing the same action you need to roll it's Unstable check?

That would shift the balance hard, making each ability once-per-combat, so there's tons of reason to collect them all.

Scarab Sages

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Keraki wrote:
Would anyone think it'd be reasonable if the flat check for Unstable was used when you used the same Unstable action with 10 minutes? Ie You can do both explosive leap and searing restoration for free, but if you tried doing the same action you need to roll it's Unstable check?

No, they're basically Focus Abilities. If it's too much for those it's too much for Unstable.

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