First Kineticist Character

Kineticist Class

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

So I try not to get too wrapped up in numbers or mechanical analysis until I can build a character and get a feel for them in some actual encounters with some allies.

For my First Kineticist, I decided to buck some conventional wisdoms and go with an Ancient Elven Deckhand Dedicated Gate (Air) Kineticist. I love the flavor and narrative of this character, and it feels like a cool adventurer out on the high seas, having spent many many years on various boats, keeping their head down while slowly learning to be at one with the wind.

My initial attribute spread is (S:12/D:16/C:16/I:12/W:12/Cha:10).
Con is useful, but not desperately so, so a 16 starting feels more than enough, while the 16 Dex feels very necessary.

I feel like a lot of folks will pass on the air blasts, but 120ft range increment is wild, especially on a character who will eventually be flying. I love that it also is a ranged weapon with agile (a HUGE deal, not being talked about yet in these analyses), and that it has reach, so early on, I can get a couple of extra damage points as I keep boosting STR when I attack in Melee with it.

As an ancient Elf, I really, really wanted to go ranger, because it feels like there should be cool synergy there, but looking it over, Ranger feats all reference weapon attacks and so that dream died, even though getting to ignore penalties on the 2nd range increment would be pretty wild. 240ft range with no penalty, Anyway, it is a bust, so with this build, Rogue looks like the only option. 2 extra skills is all it is worth at first, but sneak attack will later stack with blasts, and Skill Mastery is one of the best feats later on to fill in for dead levels.

Class feats immediately become a problem (perhaps of my own creation). Choosing dedicated Air, you get 3 1st level air feats which is almost all of them. I chose, Aerial Boomerang, Fair Winds, Air Cushion, and with no charisma, this is more than I will probably use 90% of the time. But then you also get a level 1 feat for being a Kineticist. This is too much class feats at level 1! Do you pick up Elemental Weapon, never intending really to use it, but it may make a nice option for having a weapon for when your allies grant you strikes? Flexible Blasts is pretty useless for air unless you are going STR I guess...Which might be worthwhile in retrospect because an elven air kineticist is going to be very difficult to get close to, providing an interesting form of defense. Stick and move from reach, combined with blasts might be a better option here.

The character ends up with 8 non-lore skills, a little low of HP (17), but decent HP and with Nimble Elf, has a speed of 35 and can kite with the best of them. Damage is low, but versatile, so better than most other elements for overcoming resistances. Your attacks are agile as well so if you get set up far away, you can spam attacks at great distance, although the accuracy is still pretty bad for a couple of levels, so moving once and attacking 2x is a pretty decent strategy for keeping enemies from attacking you back. If they do move up on you, you can end up kiting them with a reach attack once and then moving twice for 70ft. But really, you have no reason for letting anyone get close to you with wind. I am not sure if I understand whether Kineticist blasts that do slashing or Bludgeoning constitute physical damage? or is it energy damage that is also bludgeoning?

Level 2 was a bit of a bummer though because again I was left feeling like there was no good class feat for this character. Kinetic Activation was at least interesting, but air is a bit of a challenge to work with at low levels so this is very much a "sit on it" feat.

At level 3, elemental resistance air feels like a completely useless ability, unless you are playing a very particular campaign, but Extract Element is a really cool ability to work into the Kineticist class. I love that it gives the creature penalties to your attacks and the ability to ignore resistances.

Level 4 gives Blast Barrage, which is pretty cool with an agile ranged weapon, but this character's accuracy is still so low that only the first 2 attacks really feel significant. I thought hard about soothing breeze and Flinging Updraft, but I just don't love that soothing breeze is three actions and the way it grants immunity feels like a head ache to keep track of, especially if you end up bouncing from 1 encounter to the next without taking a 10 minute break. I already gave this character battle medicine, which only takes one round, and keeping a hand free is very easy with this character. Ultimately the fun of air is agile and range so you want to be able to attack 3 enemies at once, and Blast Barrage is the feat to make it happen.

Level 5 feels pretty dead for this build. Getting crit specialization is cool, but please give me the accuracy first!

level 6: Stoke element is the clearly intended feat for this build but spending an action for a +2 damage? Or picking up sneak attack or dread striker (depending upon the party) Sneak attack is pretty useful on an attack with 120ft range. Hiding for 1 action gives me an accuracy boost and extra damage on the next attack. I looked at clear as air and Storm Spiral, but Overflow is rough, 10 minute cool downs are awkward, and why get close enough to the enemy to risk getting attacked, especially when true flight is coming very soon.

Level 7: Adapted Terrain is a really interesting idea, but players are going to need a lot more advice and guidance to make it work, especially with an element like air. Can I make a vaccuum in a 5 foot space? what does that do? How big is one light bulk of air? Can I use this ability to increase the area of spells like stinking cloud (if cast by an ally)? or move areas around? The fact that elements react to the environment naturally after being proliferated is a bit of a GM/player argument waiting to happen. BUT I get my proficency based accuracy boost and weapon specialization at the same time! Level seven is too heavily weighted in immediate power boosting compared to level 5.

Level 8: Wings of Air. Fly for 10 minutes. No difficult terrain for going up. Awesome. Is there really no cool down on this ability? Level 8, this character is hitting an awesome stride. Damage is low-ish, but your unattack-ability is very high at this point.

Level 9:Elemental Flexibility is a cool ability for the kineticist and I hope it stays. Getting to switch around abilities every day will be a lot of fun. Celestial Palisade is a fun candidate, but we are starting to hurt for actions to do everything cool that we can do.

Level 10: Chain Blast. 120ft range increments make this a "hit every enemy" ability, but it also makes the agile trait feel a little useless...still it is up to 5 attacks a round with no MAP. It is time to make sure we have a weapon rune that does something nasty on a critical hit!

Level 11: Pure adaptation is again a really interesting ability that is difficult to imagine how to use with air, beyond clearing out mist, and poisonous clouds? I guess it is more sensical than Adapt terrain though.

Level 12 has some interesting options...but not really for this character. Rogue Skill Mastery it is then.

Level 13: Finally get the defensive boost, but again, why is this character getting attacked enough for that to feel like a big deal? Blast Mastery on the other hand is a very big deal. Honestly, it kind of feels like I have hit as high a level as I will ever really need on this character and everything after this is just minor "oh, that's nice" things.

Level 14: Oh, wait! Ferocious Cyclone. This is awesome, but the Class DC save here feels pretty far behind...still 7d10 damage with half on a success is better than the other attack options, except overflow means that I might be in danger of falling unless I cyclone first and then gather elements in the round? I am not exactly sure how that will work.

Level 15: is all about improved Elemental Flexibility. Really fun abilities.

Level 16: The best feat option here is to go back and get Aura Shaping to make Fair winds a 20ft emanation. That is a very large area of difficult terrain and to boost ally speeds. Maelstrom blast really isn't better than chain blast unless you are trying to murder armies.

Level 17: Mastery on Class DC is feeling long overdue at this point, Elemental Immunity is pretty underwhelming for air.

Level 18: Nourishing Gate feels like it should be a built in class feature for the Kineticist and not a feat. Infinite expanse of Bluest Heaven is a very cool feat conceptually, but the effect in practice feels pretty underwhelming especially since it doesn't have a critical failure effect.
Crowned in Tempest Fury is absolutely devastating...except it is a two action overflow ability, can it be sustained? You pretty much have to gather elements immediately afterwards to be able to do anything with it though, so I guess it has to be? It is also cut down a little bit because these are the things that you have spent 4 or more feats getting to do previously. Do you just retrain out of all of that now?

Level 19: Final gate is cool, but this still feels like a flat level. Casters get legendary proficiency, and level 10 spells...

Level 20: Flawless Element feels like it should be awesome...and it kinda is, but not really for this build. What 3 action activities are we trying to do? And so it is Omnikinesis. Dedicated Gate Kineticists really feel left behind by these options unless they go heavier on 3 action activities.

That is the character progression chart. I will play the character in some scenarios at various levels to see how they feel and report back.

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Crowned in Tempest's Fury is an Aura. You activate it and it lasts until the end of the encounter or until you switch to another aura. Combined with the Aura Shaping to get a lot of range on it and allow it to not hurt your allies, depending on how many allies you have and how high your Con is. Imperious Aura at level 6 could also lets you switch auras as a free action. Though level 16 has a lot of very good feats, including one to sustain as a free action.

Wings of Air lasts for 10 minutes, using an Overflow ability shouldn't cause you to start falling, you just need to use an Impulse ability in any round you don't use a Fly Move action.

Also if you have Wings of Air you get that Fly speed when you use Crowned in Tempest's Fury.

So, I was curious, and the results are actually rather convenient.

One bulk is about ten pounds. At standard temperature, pressure, and composition, ten pounds of air almost exactly fills a five-foot cube.

A light bulk is about one pound, a tenth as much. A tenth is about an eighth, so a two-and-a-half foot cube. That's rounding up a little. If we round down by the same amount, we get the volume of an average adult human.

So, as a rule of thumb: a light bulk of air is the same space as a medium creature, while a bulk of air is the space that they take up on the map. If the former is too vague, you can instead divide a five foot cube by half on each side, and the resulting 1/8th cube is a light bulk of air.

Separately, Crowned in Tempest Fury is an aura, so it lasts for the encounter.

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Unicore wrote:
Level 14: Oh, wait! Ferocious Cyclone. This is awesome, but the Class DC save here feels pretty far behind...still 7d10 damage with half on a success is better than the other attack options, except overflow means that I might be in danger of falling unless I cyclone first and then gather elements in the round? I am not exactly sure how that will work.

You don't fall as long as you use an air impulse in the round. Ferocious Cyclone is an air impulse, so you won't fall. Next round, you can gather and Blast or use a different impulse to keep Flying.

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