Evolutionist: How would *you* adapt?


General Discussion


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Personally, I think I love the flavour of the Evolutionist more than most other classes currently in the game.

However, reading through the class, I don't think they are, overall, very good? Their purpose seems to be all about being adaptable while still being a damage dealer... but they overall just feel like a bad Vanguard in my opinion.

I'm looking for ways to improve the class, for homebrews. How would *you* change the Evolutionist? Or do you think they are fine as is? If so, do help me see them the way you do. I really want to love this class, and I do, but I'd like to also be able to love playing as one...


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I think a lot of people wanted something like a polymorph class. But permanent polymorph already exists via an envoy alternate class feature, polymorph is pretty bad for combat, and they aren't going to give you what you want via class features in that area. Lots of utility and flexibility, none of it very powerful, and few combat abilities, and those very weak, are what polymorph gives you in Starfinder. And now the long term/permanent polymorph feat lets every spellcaster but the precog do that version of a evolving fantasy plus lots of other abilities.

What we got instead in the published Evolutionist is someone who is thematically evolving via natural abilities and choice of related augmentations towards a paragon form (represented by niche), somewhat customized, somewhat flexible, and somewhat growing more powerful the longer they are in combat, as a bruiser with some small skill options.

I hated it, then was indifferent, now I'll try to justify it and build something out of it that is distinct from other classes and interesting enough to play.

So adaptive strike is the core of the class. What you're mostly evolving towards is a free weapon which is more versatile in your initial choice than what the vanguard or solarion get. (The vanguard can't pick a decent ranged option, you have much more flexiblity in your damage type than a solar weapon or flare.)

Unlike the vanguard/solarion, you have an actually free weapon - you don't need to invest in a properly leveled crystal or real weapon to apply your full damage/effects specs. And the weapon flexibility gets much greater when you invest in adaptations that let you full change your damage type round to round. Being able to pick any ranged energy type 100% with Versatile Strike is huge, lets you skip inferior fusions that do half as much in a more limited way at big cost.

Having access to blast/line/explode with proper investment without giving up the usual weaknesses of those weapon qualities (e.g. blast damage reduction) and with the ability to put them on melee is also huge versatility. Having a free, fully damage leveled, totally flexible damage type and weapon quality weapon is really big.

It's just not what people expected out of an evolutionist class as the core of it. Once you make that mental adjustment, you'll see how great it is. You have a free golf bag weapon, just toss on one ghost killer fusion and you're pretty much done for having a solution to any enemy in the game. Of course the downside is you have to invest at least two adaptations into your weapon to achieve that. And probably three with distant strikes, even if you don't go four with explosive strike. (Also note that blowing all of your MP on adaptation boosts to your weapon makes you immune to your niche drawback. Learn to love the blast/line quality or just changing your weapon damage type for the heck of it.)

Except maybe adaptive strike isn't the core of the class. Maybe it's the evolutionary focus. If you go packmaster, you can at level 13+ do some wild stuff with a pair of unarmed strike melee allies, like grant everyone the blast ability on their unarmed strike or hand out reach. You can also grant mobility, senses, or stacking resistances if those are needed. If you're augmentation focus, you can invest all your saved weapon money in a bunch of utility/defense/offensive augmentations. Don't need versatile weapon stuff if you have both a dragon gland and that magitech sonic one to throw out two cones per stamina rest. (If your focus is combat, the adaptive strike is still the core of your class.)

I really don't like the niches, especially eldritch and mechanized. The benefits seem trivial and the damage downsides huge. I guess you can pick them for the class skill and blow all your MP so you never deal with anything but the 10th level abilities; gross. Sepulchral and Vital are more manageable and have more upside. Especially if your gm will let you blow your MP on a sepulchral attack and then not suffer the drawback if it kills someone - look, ma, no MP!

Maybe I'll have some more thoughts on this class tomorrow.


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Key thing it's missing in my opinion is for your flavour to not immediately turn off the second you're out of combat. Class needs some out-of-combat ways to use their core pitch, even if it's just ribbons.


Yeah almost all you've got out of combat is how you flavor your free and cheap related augmentations. (Between the free one, the free weapon that can be invested anywhere, and the augmentation discount, you can easily have more than anyone else even without picking augmentation evolution focus.)

That sort of works for things that are useful out of combat (e.g. morphic skin for eldritch, the brain/eye x-ray for mechanized, every single qualifying augmentation that isn't magitech for sepulchral), but while it's easier for you to have multiples of these, a non-evolutionist can do the same thing if they spend enough.

I don't accept the movement/sense adaptations as realistic out of combat options. Movement is cheap and easy to get via gear (once again your real super power is free stuff), senses the same except for blindsense/sight but those are really only combat useful 99% of the time.


1) Burn resolve points to do stuff out of combat

2) actually evolve

-Shapeshifter- works a bit like the solarion, building up to larger forms and a big finish. Think beast boy running between someones legs like a mouse and then turning into a t rex.

-Survivor - uses a lot of reactions , to gain eac, kac, resistances, dr, as they're attacked. Think blue beetle growing their hand into a shell.

Super predator : the model the class has now, where you build a strong but static creature.
-


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I think I can make a strong Vital niche evolutionist.

The instinct (extra healing/stamina when you receive it) and the bonus adaptation (swift action to get four rounds worth of stamina regen) obviously work well together. The adjacent ally heal on the three subsequent rounds is good, too. The bonus adaptation is better than the marginal boost from instinct, so it doesn't hurt to spend down your MP and not worry about the drawback.

That drawback (penalty to will saves, eventually no spellcasting or int/cha skill checks) is in any case manageable. You're going to put your ring of resistance towards will saves, and you can afford (greater) iron will feat. There are also some augmentations and armor upgrades that help against mind affecting or common conditions that result from failing a mind affecting save. You can afford them better than any other class.

Your augmentation type is the second most versatile (after sepulchral/necrografts) because you can also pickup all the cyber options via adapted biochains. If you're a shoot blast/line and scoot combatant who rarely full attacks then augmented evolutionary focus makes a lot of sense.

Even the life science class skill and insight bonus helps. Identify things early to use versatile weapon to avoid resistances or target vulnerabilities, don't worry after that whether you hit 3 MP and can no longer recall knowledge. (Or spend back down to 2 MP for additional creatures.)

Sepulchral has a similar profile. Instinct is fine for some extra damage, adaptation gives you some emergency healing when you're knocked into HP, augmentation flexibility is the best, but the drawback is pretty much a 50% or greater chance to lose a move action whenever you kill someone, which sucks. Maybe forgo the extra damage and spend down all your MP every round. The 10th level 1/day power is nice.


Xenocrat wrote:


Sepulchral has a similar profile. Instinct is fine for some extra damage, adaptation gives you some emergency healing when you're knocked into HP, augmentation flexibility is the best, but the drawback is pretty much a 50% or greater chance to lose a move action whenever you kill someone, which sucks. Maybe forgo the extra damage and spend down all your MP every round. The 10th level 1/day power is nice.

Do you think all the bonuses to single hits mean it is viable to make an Evolutionist that never uses their full attacks and just goes for single hits? I was shocked with how many damage boosters only work "once per turn", instead of being on a full attack.


Almost anything in this game is viable. A once per turn limit just keeps you from getting lucky and blasting four guys with bonus damage in one round on rare occasions, even during full attacks your most likely outcome is hitting once, so the restriction doesn't matter that much.

If you want a flat damage dealer on full attacks do a solarion or a soldier with specialized gear boosts that only apply to one weapon type.


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I took a stab at this a little bit after the playtest came out. Don't claim it's perfect, but maybe it'll help.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Definitely agree with Xenocrat. I love evolutionist though I am very aware of its flaws and there are things I would have changed. With the page space alloted in the book, I think the devs did a good job of covering a lot of the basics for adapting to combat, but there is a ton of potential for more fun adaptations.

As others have said, evolutionist is in a good place dpr wise. It might not be as flashy as other classes, but adaptive strike deals competitive damage. Add in things like the extra damage from having 5 mp, the combat focus, strength as a possible primary stat, some niches giving damage bumps, and some other possible nova options in things like violent outburst, and you have a class that will really pump out damage. Options to change damage type, increase range, make your attack target an area, etc. are very valuable.

Out of combat the class is a little lacking, but getting permanent senses, movement types, and a free scaling augment is nice. Keep in mind we only got two pages of adaptations. By now I have no doubt the devs are aware that players want more out of combat adaptations and will add more in the future.

An issue I've seen brought up in a few places is that a lot of what evolutionist can do can be done with items. It's a tricky situation because it's true, but in my mind that doesn't reduce the value of things like permanent flight or a free weapon or whatever. Not only does getting those things for free mean your character can spend their credits on other things, but not using batteries or taking up armor slots is great. Starfinder is in this weird situation where gear can solve almost any problem, so making a class whose whole shtick is adapting is going to have a lot of parallels with equipment.

My personal favorite thing has already been touched on in the op, the flavor of the class. Being able to attack with a whip made of acid or a beam that comes out of your chest or whatever the hell your imagination can come up with is so, so fun. Being very flexible with what your character can look like is another perk.

As far as what I would change, a brief summary - I would give an option for adaptive strike to have the operative trait, though doing so would reduce the extra damage given by weapon spec down to +LVL. The bonuses granted by maintaining mp would all be changed from enhancement bonuses to another type that's harder to acquire. Some explanation on leveling up interacts with your fulcrum and the fusions it has would be welcome. Evolution drain should be able to be used at range if your character has a ranged adaptive strike.

And lastly a wishlist. Adaptations to survive in various environments (extreme temperatures, vacuum, pressures, radiation, etc.), being able to go without food or water and to stop aging, curing ailments on self such as poison and disease, built in armor (doesn't have to be too strong, maybe just a smidge stronger than junk armor), options to polymorph or disguise oneself, granting adaptive strike more weapon properties on the fly, spontaneous and temporary augmentation creation... Stuff like that.


Kamyr wrote:
I took a stab at this a little bit after the playtest came out. Don't claim it's perfect, but maybe it'll help.

I honestly like this a lot more than the "slowly accumulate MP over time" like we have right now. Makes you more adaptable.

The numbers do seem a little off-whack though xD Do you mind if I copy this and use it as a base for some homebrewing myself?


Gaulin wrote:
And lastly a wishlist. Adaptations to survive in various environments (extreme temperatures, vacuum, pressures, radiation, etc.), being able to go without food or water and to stop aging, curing ailments on self such as poison and disease, built in armor (doesn't have to be too strong, maybe just a smidge stronger than junk armor), options to polymorph or disguise oneself, granting adaptive strike more weapon properties on the fly, spontaneous and temporary augmentation creation... Stuff like that.

The funny thing is that these things are largely already options that the class gives you...via your Augmented Form free niche augmentation. Get a second if you go augmentation on your evolutionary focus.

Examples:

Polymorphic skin for disguise (eldritch only).

Blackheart necrograft for environmental survival and much more (sepulchral)

Protean response biotech for polymorph (vital and sepulchral)

Cleansing Breath biotech for party poison/disease resistance (vital and sepulchral)

Detoxifier cybertech for poison/disease resistance and eventual poison immunity (everyone but eldritch)

Then of course there's plenty of healing options, AOE energy attacks, and the many many species graft options.

If you go evolutionary focus you can think of it as effectively having three or more free augmentations. The one everyone gets, the one your focus gets you, and the one your free weapon can buy you. Then with your discount you can buy plenty more at the low/cheap end to fill our your slots. A 13th level augmentation focus with a theme/race that gives you more double augmentation slots can easily buy a bunch of cheap stuff and walk around with a dozen augmentations in their body.

I've been rereading Stilleto by Daniel O'Malley, which features "Grafters," alchemical scientists who've invented all kinds of crazy biological organ enhancement replacements, and a vital Evolutionist would be a really good way to build one of their Chimerae supersoldiers just full of sensory, survival, and offensive stuff (I'd go dragon gland plus a pair of arm acid sacs that came out in HoTV AP, three AOEs per stamina rests without additional RP expenditure).


DashingSwashie wrote:
Kamyr wrote:
I took a stab at this a little bit after the playtest came out. Don't claim it's perfect, but maybe it'll help.

I honestly like this a lot more than the "slowly accumulate MP over time" like we have right now. Makes you more adaptable.

The numbers do seem a little off-whack though xD Do you mind if I copy this and use it as a base for some homebrewing myself?

Consider it as free to use as any other Starfinder rules. I wouldn't mind feedback, though that can be a DM if it's not directly related to this thread. Some stuff was already on the chopping block when my game with a player using it fell through, but I'll let you guess what.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Putting a major rework aside, I'd probably look at improving the niches then adding more adaptations plus an operative melee option. A couple Fortitude saves that need to work on objects or constructs/undead, but that's not a problem unique to Evolutionist. Otherwise, it's ok, if not what I expected.

Wayfinders

My initial disappointment with the evolutionist came from wanting to build a character whose goal was to take on ZO! in a multi-media race for rating. To do so, I figured my character would need to evolve into an immortal undead but needed to be built around charisma for the multi-media-like skills and profession. So my compromise is a Shobhad wrestler. Someone who would have fit in with Starfinder xtream. The idea is to use grappling while building up mutation points taking advantage of a 10 ft reach and base movement of 40 using mutation points to bump up the movement to 45 or 50 ft per turn before letting loose with the adaptive strike. All caught on video, of course, for the downtime rolls for profession video personality. Heave use of intimidation against foes and diplomacy to please fans. So no longer competing against ZO! but likely to end up as someone ZO! would cover. Keeping with the undead theme and a ZO! like name I named him GRIM!

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