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While this feels somewhat spammy, waiting until the end of the playtest and just posting it into the survey feels like kinda wrong. Paizo will probably still appreciate it, but maybe one of you will appreciate it as well. Also it doesn't hurt to give some feedback early. So, welcome to the wall of text. I promise, it will be the last post of this kind, the rest I'll dedicate to session reports ^^
Please keep in mind that most of these are more of a general concept and me basically daydreaming, not fully fleshed-out and balanced ideas. After going too far down the rabbit hole and actually losing sleep over the intricacies balancing, I just thought “to hell with it” and did it like this. Probably more useful anyway, as Paizo is much better at all of this anyway. And I can hopefully sleep properly again , so win-win ^^.
For me, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking “Gunslinger” will always be the stereotypical lone gunman of the wild west. It is telling that the equivalent in my first language is “Revolverheld” (literally revolver hero). Ever since 2e came out, this is something I have been craving and I'm glad that it is coming along so well and so soon!
As a baseline, I like the concept of gaining meatier hits in trade for a reduced volume of fire. Some playstyles will obviously drift off in either direction, but that is the point they should come from.
So, what should the class focus on, mechanically speaking? In my eyes it should be the biggest drawback and basic mechanic – the reload. Turn what is seen as a burden into part of the core of the class and a source of interesting choices, both for tactics and feats. I don't just mean further “reload then strike” feats, but especially everything else. Make this class the “Reloader”.
The other focus should obviously be accuracy. Accuracy and therefore crit chance are clearly key to how fun this class is to play. So fighter progression in reloading weapons is absolutely the way to go.
Weapon family choices:
A quick one: I'm with many others on this one, don't restrict this class to only guns and crossbows, but every reload weapon if that is possible.
I, for one, am most exited for what will certainly be the crazy advanced weapons. Revolvers in general and elephant guns. If you are able to even remotely balance a semi- portable gatling gun, then that would be an option as well :D. Maybe a magic item?
While it doesn't logically fit the level of training required better, I would like most, if not all muzzleloaders to be purely simple weapons. Martial firearms should be more modern. Breechloaders, trap-door conversions and the like would fit. Advanced Weapons should be even more modern, like revolvers, lever-action rifles and so on. Of course, Golarion doesn't follow our historical progressions, so this won't be a clean cut. But it is weird to see the blunderbuss name under martial weapons.
Basic weapon design:
The current route - fatal instead of higher dice size + deadly - is a direction I definitely like. There are a couple of problems, one of the less “mechanical” is the fact that firearms in particular produce a lot of smoke and sound. But the general principle is definitely something I can get behind.
I also support the current design choice of these weapons being more widely accessible. With how important the higher proficiency is for using guns , I have no idea how one would do that apart for the Fighter, but hey. It is still a good idea.
Unsteady and sniper should be rolled into a unified trait that adds precision damage when you don't suffer from the circumstance penalty of unsteady. Relying on flat-footed at range is not the worst thing in the world, but application is really, really spotty in many situations. It would also narrow the usability to basically only the sniper.
A thought I had was that some reload weapons could get a trait that provides a small-ish buff to accuracy. Nothing too crazy, say they ignore lesser cover in their first range increment. Almost certainly still crazy – it's basically a +1 in many situations – but it sounds fun. Lesser cover is the bane of my existence. A single encounter and it already it cost me a crit... damn you!
Base loadouts (also some weapon and trait stuff)
I will purely focus on the use of guns/crossbows in this, because that is 100% of what I want out of this. Sorry drifter fans :/
1 – Single Pistol
What I really want to play, but isn't exciting at all in the playtest. The epitome of what I think the baseline should be. A moderate number of shots – I'm thinking two on average – at high accuracy. The focus is more on per-hit damage, especially crits, delivered consistently and at close-ish range. Feat themes – MAP reduction (like Paired Shots, just more one-handed ^^), speedloading and sustained fire.
To that end I propose the use of the “1+” handedness. This is purely there so these cannot be dual-wielded and thus can be a bit more powerful.
A couple rough examples:
* “small iron” (martial) – damage d8 P, reload 1, bulk 1, hands 1+, range 30ft; traits: fatal d10, versatile b (alternatively damage d6 and fatal d12)
* “big iron” (advanced) - damage d6 P, reload 1, bulk 1, hands 1+, range 30ft; traits: capacity 4 (holds 4 rounds), fatal d12, versatile b
2 – Dual Wielding (includes pistol brace style)
Cool and what it seems like I'll be using till October ^^. This does one thing and it does it well. Drown the enemy in lead as quickly as possible. Accuracy by pure volume of fire. I'm thinking close-range flurry ranger, but without stepping on that guy's toes too much. Feat themes – more dakka, because one cannot have enough of it.
3 – Longarms
Superior range and per-shot damage, but sacrificing volume even more. One devastating attack or maybe two when things get dicey.
The dual wield reload problem:
Option A (my solution)
“Deft Hand – While wielding two one-handed weapons, you do not require a free hand to reload your ranged weapons.”
No need to overcomplicate this, bake it into relevant ways as a base feature. I don't really see why not. Maybe make it a level 1 class feature, but single pistol and two-handed weapon users don't care, so that's not the best option.
I have seen two other potential solutions, but I am not a particular fan of either.
Dual-Weapon Reload as a lvl 1 class feature. I don't see this as a viable option, simply because it almost entirely removes the option of making meaningful choices with your reloads. Reloading becomes a chore instead of an opportunity. Boring, no thanks.
Pistol brace aka “Fire and Release”. A pistol brace allowing for the storage of several weapons, essentially functioning as more powerful doubling rings. This version is actually interesting and would deserve support, especially since quite a few people seem to like it. Also, historically accurate in principle, which is always neat. I just don't like it personally, both from a preference standpoint (I doubt I would ever consider playing this way) and due to objective concerns:
* unplayable at level 1 due to lack of money and Quick Draw (the latter could be fixed, though)
* requires spending most of your gold at lvl 1 & 2 to even be possible (not that bad, but still)
* Quick Draw becomes a mandatory feat tax
* Quick Draw means most of the time "special attack" feats are inherently useless to you
* doesn't benefit from potentially cool reloading-related things
With a bit of pepping up, this could be a cool option for people who want it. But it should be an option, not the default.
So good it feels mandatory. Also puts focus on reloading as being desirable, which I really like. Definitely bake this in as a class feature.
Thought should also be given to counting weapons as having been reloaded for the purposes of this feat(ure) when:
* you roll for initiative
* interact to draw a weapon (hey pistol brace people, have fun with this ^^)
It is kind of annoying to not have the benefits at the start of combat and the pistol brace people will be glad as well ^^. Feels a bit fiddly otherwise as well.
I am also a fan of fusing this and Crossbow Ace into (Re)Loading Ace. Should be given to Precision Rangers as well (they could use it) and as a general class feat to relevant classes. And archetype feat of course.
Not much to say, just that I like how this was implemented. Not annoying, but offers both some RP/class fantasy goodness, as well as a risky gameplay option. This was my biggest fear with this class, and I am glad how this turned out.
The only thing I would criticize is the interaction with day transitions due to staying up longer or intentional night time adventuring. The bell strikes midnight and immediately the gunslinger has a misfire chance. That's just silly and likely not intended.
I wouldn't mind seeing more risk/reward feats with misfire. What I don't want to see is misfire being used as a “balancing” tool for more powerful guns, deeds or something along those lines. It should be an immersion mechanic, as well as a way to provide risk to situational but very powerful feats.
While I like the idea of multiple possible playstyles and loadouts being available to some ways, I think it would be prudent to streamline and focus these. There should be a bit of wiggle room, but most ways should focus on one general loadout (e.g. Drifter with pistol+melee) or playstyle (e.g. Sniper being stealthy).
The playtest Pistolero, while cool, shows well why I think it is necessary. If you are dual wielding weapons this works just fine. If you are a single gun kind of lad, Pistolero's Retort is likely not available every other turn starting at turn 1 and Finish the Job is directly contradicting your playstyle.
Possible new/modified Ways:
* Pistolero - single one-handed ranged weapon, maybe focus on advanced weapons (i.e. revolvers and automatic crossbows) later on?
* Desperado – dual-wielding ranged weapons
* Marksman – devastating mid- to long-range firepower (similar to sniper, but without the stealth), two-handed weapons
* Bayonet – Volley (1 or 2 shots) that sets up a charge, two-handed weapons
* Saboteur – alchemical bombs augmenting your weapons
Way of the Sniper:
To be completely honest, I didn't play this. I probably wouldn't ever, at least not in the current configuration. And even if this was brought in line, it would be somewhat unlikely, as I'm a bit more of a direct player.
But if I did ever play this, I would see one immediate problem: how do I get my enemy flat-footed without completely breaking my action economy before level 15? I'm not feeling the immobility either, neither from a gameplay nor a thematic standpoint. A sniper takes a single shot, two at most and then gets the hell out of dodge. Staying in place is more of a designated marksman thing, which isn't the vibe I get from the description or the deeds/feats.
Also some more things:
* Shattering Shot doesn't fit the theme or role
possible (replacement) feats:
* Taking the Shot (one action) - strike and then sneak or hide.
-> Basically a modified Skirmish Strike. Might have to put the second part in (sneak, then strike), but I thought this would be most thematic.
*Clandestine Reload (1 action, flourish) – hide or sneak and then interact to reload.
-> This would allow one to actually use the Advanced Deed with any kind of effectiveness
Way of the Drifter:
Considering how melee-focused this way is, they should get legendary proficiency in their chosen weapon. This should be limited to a single simple or martial weapon of one's choice, so as not to step on the fighter's toes. Otherwise this way will feel weird and people will feel forced to use archetypes to get the theme this way promises.
Way of the Pistolero:
As stated above, I would like this to split into a single gun way and a dual wield way. Pistolero's Challenge is cool and thematic, but makes way more sense as an initial deed. It is usually what would start a fight, after all. Not to mention that without a weapon with more than 1 shot, you will likely never have the actions for it, as I have already found out in live play.
I like a lot of these, both mechanically and thematically. Here are some ideas and observations. Also some people seems to mind the more “action film” or cartoony feel some feats give off. I don't, I love them.
* I definitely support some of these becoming skill feats as well (but remaining class feats and/or archetype feats)
-> Blast Lock
-> Warning Shot
-> Black Powder Boost
* the Hit the Dirt/Return Fire combo is hilarious
* I would like more feats to interact with specific weapon traits
* Advanced Weapon Training at 6 seems like a no-brainer (which is probably one of the reasons it isn't in here)
* a feat building on Pistol Twirl, that combines it with a reload for 1 action total would be great for a single gun build
Great write up! Another way to fix the dual wield problem is to provide some 2+ shot handguns, which the gunslinger can load with a single action. If each gun has two shots you can fire each once and then alternate loading guns with your third action each round. I think it makes much more sense for a gunslinger to be able to load two bullets into the same gun at the same action, rather than proposals where the gunslinger reloads two separate guns in the same action. I'd honestly like to see this for some of the other two handed weapon as well. I think the gunslinger should be balanced around being able to make two strikes every round (excluding sniper gameplay).
Pistolero should be pistol/closerange pro. I like the visual fantasy of either using 1 pistol or having 2 ready when required and really like 'finish the job'. One thing pistoleros could get as they do get many reactions, is to draw 2 one handed ranged weapons (yea, hand xbows get some love too) as a single action. This would allow some of the fun special actions, be ready or whatever you choose, while quick draw is still there to just get out one more attack for 1 action (and works with knives, javelins etc). How I've used dualwielding is to have one main pistol ready w. Reloads or just not shooting. And quick draw n drop with of hand, reload or slow draw when required and MAP is high.
Can't wait to see some adventures in Ustalav (vampirechasing and using silver bullets against werewolves etc.)
I am confident the final results will be fine.
"Speedhacks" should be implemented carefully, applying missfire chance if used (reloading 2 for 1 is same benefit if not better than risky reload as an example, can be comboed with paired shots). Drawing weapons is a more 'finite' source (say 6 pistols to draw in a combat, or 10 for 1 Bulk).
I for one like that I have to plan my combat better and not just spam shots