Esoteric Antithesis as a Toolbox rather than a Damage Booster


Thaumaturge Class


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Building off of some other discussions I've seen and had both on these forums and elsewhere, it's worth considering whether Find Flaws + Esoteric Antithesis as a utility feature rather than a damage feature. Beyond the various other issues with the current implementation of the mechanic (skill-intensive, scales poorly with rarity, doesn't reduce the MAD issues of the class, etc.), one common thread I've noticed among actual playtests is that the mechanic makes the class feel too much like a beatstick, and doesn't satisfy the fantasy the flavor suggests.

While raw damage is nice, many other classes already fulfill that niche quite well, and strange objects that can cause weakness in foes can be represented in more ways than damage-boosting Weaknesses. Conditions, for example, would be an excellent way to represent it creating and exploiting weakness. That broken chain you pull from your bag to weaken the slaver could harrow them, inflicting Frightened. However, the best condition I can think of to represent the mechanic on a basic level is Sickened, for the following reasons:

1) It represents the opponent feeling some sort of deep wrongness when presented by the esoterica
2) It is a powerful condition that can support the entire party
3) It is both rarely applied and doesn't step on the toes of Demoralize specialists, giving it a unique niche

In addition, the Thaumaturge could expand their weakness exploitation to inflict other effects, including other conditions (Paralyzed, Stunned, Slowed, Confused, and Immobilized are all powerful and interesting options), Afflictions (curses seem very on-theme), persistent damage (for those who just want the raw damage), and potentially more elaborate effects (such as a geas). These can reflect different items the Thaumaturge could pull out against the same foe and allow for a deeper level of customization of the feature with feats.

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On a slightly unrelated note, I do think it may be possible (and would be pretty cool) to include other ways to gain additional benefits from Esoteric Antithesis, such as a feat that lets you pull out a relevant item when you use EA in addition to its effects, such as pulling an Alchemist's Fire that you purchased out when using EA against a troll. If this could be combined with Handy/Implausible Esoterica, that would be even cooler.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Esoteric Antithesis did initially remind me of fettering from 1e's Malice Binder Investigator. I think this would be a cool direction to go but it might be too big of a change. Maybe not though.

Sovereign Court

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I was thinking of that dude from The Mummy with allll the amulets.

What I did really like from playtesting so far was that you're powerfully motivated to Recall Knowledge on anything that so much as moves. This gives the GM a good avenue to sprinkle interesting details into the combat.

So I think the benefit of FF/EA should be at least as powerful as it is now, but it doesn't have to be about doing damage no. Maybe you pull out something that allows you to oppose and undo the bad conditions the bad guy is inflicting?


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Yep, I'm all for a toolbox approach. Damage can come from interactions with specific implements or just Implement's Empowerment. Sign me up for a martial that does weird stuff in combat beyond whacking things super hard.

I've also mentioned that changing Esoteric Antithesis to something that can apply to in- and out-of-combat situations starts to really crystalize the whole idea of convincing the universe in my mind. Instead of just identifying a creature and smacking the bajeezus out of it, the Thaumaturge in some ways attempts to read the underlying stitches between the places where they find themselves and the things therein. Then they have a growing suite of options that they can deploy to get in there and convince the universe that things are different.

Then, of course, Implements and class feats can really switch up what happens and how the Thaumaturge interacts with the world in unique ways.


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Puna'chong wrote:

Yep, I'm all for a toolbox approach. Damage can come from interactions with specific implements or just Implement's Empowerment. Sign me up for a martial that does weird stuff in combat beyond whacking things super hard.

I've also mentioned that changing Esoteric Antithesis to something that can apply to in- and out-of-combat situations starts to really crystalize the whole idea of convincing the universe in my mind. Instead of just identifying a creature and smacking the bajeezus out of it, the Thaumaturge in some ways attempts to read the underlying stitches between the places where they find themselves and the things therein. Then they have a growing suite of options that they can deploy to get in there and convince the universe that things are different.

Then, of course, Implements and class feats can really switch up what happens and how the Thaumaturge interacts with the world in unique ways.

I also love the idea of Implements changing what you can do with EA.

Like Weapon could get the current damage version, Lantern could blind/dazzle the opponent, Chalice could stop them from healing, etc.

Oh, and if it becomes divorced from Recall Knowledge as a baseline, you could have a Tome implement that stupifies the opponent and lets you gain additional information. This also lets the Thaumaturge more plausibly use Charisma to Recall Knowledge, since it's actually using a book of strange knowledge to figure things out.

Liberty's Edge

I love the book of strange knowledge trope (Necronomicon, Book of Destiny, Darkhold). I would be overjoyed to access this through the Thaumaturge.

Is Lex Luthor a Thaumaturge ? That would make a kind of wicked sense.


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The Raven Black wrote:

I love the book of strange knowledge trope (Necronomicon, Book of Destiny, Darkhold). I would be overjoyed to access this through the Thaumaturge.

Is Lex Luthor a Thaumaturge ? That would make a kind of wicked sense.

Probably some sort of Armor Inventor + Thaumaturge gestalt.

Which sounds like a sick character concept.


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Ascalaphus wrote:
What I did really like from playtesting so far was that you're powerfully motivated to Recall Knowledge on anything that so much as moves. This gives the GM a good avenue to sprinkle interesting details into the combat.

Honestly, it's not a favorite of mine as it just drives home how different the results of Recall Knowledge is when you move to different DM's. It's only an opportunity, and the DM has to grab it and run with it for it to be interesting.


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After looking at some of the Starfinder stuff for inspiration, I came to notice the Biohacker, which is eerily similar to this sort of idea as a combat debuffer. It can inject all sorts of debuffs as part of its attacks, with the subclasses (that it grabs up to three of as it levels up) adding new debuffs it can choose from. Then, it can grab even more debuffs from its Theorems (the Class Feat equivalent) that it can add to its existing options like how the Alchemist can add a single Additive to items it makes.

This is something that could absolutely thrive in PF2e and fits the class idea incredibly well, using a collection of tools to inflict a variety of effects on targets without resorting to any form of spellcasting.


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Ascalaphus wrote:
What I did really like from playtesting so far was that you're powerfully motivated to Recall Knowledge on anything that so much as moves. This gives the GM a good avenue to sprinkle interesting details into the combat.

This is why they should really just give Recall Knowledge an overhaul in general. It's one of the most engaging parts of the combat between player and GM because of how the GM can reward the players in a way that has indirect combat results instead of direct combat results.

Even in the case of EA, which is driven by direct combat results (the weakness), you still gain the information which leads to indirect results and creative play as a bi-product.

Sovereign Court

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Yeah if the final thaumaturge is going to be even remotely similar to the playtest one, cleaning up the RK rules moved from a single rogue racket sized showstopper issue to a whole class showstopper issue.

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