The Gadgeteer – Mother of Invention (Revised Edition)
This massive, highly-customizable, complex base-class by Interjection Games is 38 pages long, 1page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 35 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?
The gadgeteer-class gets d8, proficiency with medium armor and shields as well as simple weapons, hammers (light war- and lucerne), 3/4 BAB-progression, 4+Int skills per level and no good saves. Yeah, all slow progression -how come? The answer is simple: At first level a gadgeteer chooses one of 3 so-called professional angles – essentially a set of skills that are added to the list of class skills. Beyond that, each professional angle corresponds to one save, which then becomes the good save of the class, with the regular good save progression as noted in the class table’s professional angle save entry. Nice idea for some basic customization here. To represent a wide array of expertise, 5th level and every 4 levels after that net the class Skill Focus: Knowledge (any) as a bonus feat
Gadgeteers of 2nd level also get a bonus to saves against mechanical traps and a bonus to AC versus their attacks that scales up to +5, and yes, this potentially stacks with trap sense. At 11th level, the gadgeteer also gets essentially evasion against traps as long as she/he is not under the effects of int damage/drain or wearing too heavy armor. Now onwards to the central feature, the gadgets – Gadgeteers need to have 10+ total amount of structure points of the respective item, with saves per default being 10 + 1/2 class level +int-mod. There are two types of blanks for gadgeteers: Custom weapon and custom accessory blanks. Each blank starts with 2 structure points assigned to it. The total amount of structure points per blank increases by +1 at 3rd level and 7th level and every 4 levels after that.
Accessory blanks can be enhanced via add-ons (which depend on the item) and custom weapons have three types of enhancements: Offensive, defensive and addon: Each custom weapon can only have one enhancement per type, i.e. no two defensive customizations on one weapon. In order to improve a weapon, a gadgeteer needs to be proficient with it and apart from that, anything, from mundane to artifact-level may be enhanced by the gadgeteer. HOWEVER, in order to retain a weapon’s enhancement bonus, a number of SP equal to the weapon’s enhancement bonus need to be expended, thus meaning that powerful weapons are harder to modify. Special weapon abilities may also be retained, with the cost of SP being equal to the ability’s enhancement bonus equivalent. If the points are not expended, the weapon counts as simply masterwork and yes, flat-price enchantments are covered as well. Bonuses and penalties incurred only feature into the equation when actively wielded. The preparation of these gadgets follows much the same rules as the prepared spellcasting of spellcasters, i.e. 8 hours rest + preparation time. Daily uses, if applicable, are also reset thus. It should be noted that custom weapons take a full 8-hour slot to assemble/disassemble.
So far, so (relatively) linear – additional blanks (either accessory OR weapon!) are gained at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter up to 16th level, though a gadgeteer may never have more than 4 blanks of a given type. At 2nd level, gadgeteers get access to a second pool of SP – 1/2 class level + int-mod. These can be used to further modify blanks that already have their SP expended.
Finally, at 20th level, the gadgeteer may chose from one of 6 different capstones – so-called masterpieces, which can come as a bonus to saves and an attribute via a self-performed operation. More interesting would be a filtration-unit that can fire adamantine needles that deal five points of attribute damage in addition to some base damage. Alternatively a 10d6/instant-destroying crystallization-spray (cool idea, but why not follow the extreme-damage-formula of most PFRPG-death effects?) or contact lenses that provide a fire-damage dealing gaze attack, 3/day rerolls via talking to alternate reality versions of oneself, while universal lubricants can add +20 to checks rolls against grapples, cancel entanglement/staggered conditions and autotrips anything trying to pass over it.
We also get favored class options for the core-races, aasimar, tieflings, kobolds, puddlings, hobgoblins and drow and 3 feats for the class: Extra Parts increases your spare parts pool gained at second level by +1. Jury-rigging allows you to McGuyver your way out of tight situations – each accessory gadget has materials – as long as these are available, you may scrap one of your accessories (or use a blank if you have one) and spontaneously recreate one accessory of your liking at a -2 SP-penalty. This takes 1 minute per SP-cost and can be done only to one accessory per day. Finally, quicker custom weapon assembly/disassembly is possible.
Speaking of custom weapons – a total of 3 pages are devoted to the list of custom weapon modifications, providing type, SP-cost, prerequisites and effects at one handy look before going into details. So what do these do? Well, let’s take the first cluster of abilities – via diverse alchemical procedures, weapons can grant +2 to Str, Dex, Con, damage or +1 to hit – all with different requirements regarding the necessary ranks in Craft (alchemy). None too wowed, well, as always with Interjection Games’ classes, there are some abilities here that make use of more obscure rules – there is for example a berserker button – pressing this declares the next attack with the weapon a smite (unfortunate nomenclature there), which, when hitting a construct, nets it a significant chance to from there on go berserk. Especially tinkers or machinesmiths will learn to hate this one, I’d wager! You can also add e.g. +1 bleed damage for -2 to AC, +1 AC for -1 to initiative or make your weapon a charge-deterrent.
The weapon can also net you AoOs at -4 (reducing the penalty at higher levels) against charges made against you. Increasing CMD or CMB, a capsule that releases 1 minutes worth of breathable air, adding a battery to a weapon that deals additional damage (untyped, probably should have either the weapon’s type or deal electricity damage) when expending charges (or later, lesser damage sans charges…) or ignoring partially miss chances and damaging incorporeal foes – quite some options here. Adding small cones of elemental damage is also possible, as would be easier hiding of weapons via sleight of hand, absorbing up to gadgeteer level points of physical damage. Elemental batteries can provide resistance at the cost of minor penalties to saves against other elemental attacks. You can also have your weapon mimic the energy you’re damaged by, hurl balls of energy, react to energy damage by gaining temporarily fast healing – thankfully with a minimum amount of damage. *packs away the bag of elementally-infused kittens* What about adding a hamster-powered light to your weapon? Yes, the class is suffused by cool, unobtrusive humor like this. Beyond expanded threat ranges, adding int-mod instead of str to weapon damage (also relevant for composite bows now using int) is another option available to the gadgeteer. The Kinetic Potential Conversion unit may act either offensively, defensively or both, allowing you to gain charges by being damaged physically and using this momentum either offensively or defensively – depending on which version you chose. While in theory, you could get 1-damage-dealing dire-kitten-adversaries and fast heal/regenerate/orison-cure, the limited bonuses granted don’t make this strategy rewarding.
Laser Sights added to ranged weapons allow you to make a standard attack action at +4 to hit and you can tie weapons to your hand via leather straps, gain SR, mental/physical poisons…and there is Mr. Thingy. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s a gadget that temporarily adds a random condition to foes hit by your weapon upon the expenditure of a charge – said conditions upgrade over the levels, getting a second table and more rolls. And yes, fear-based ones count as mind-affecting – nice catch!
Rerolling mind-affecting saves at +2 DC, adding a weapon’s enhancement bonus again as an insight bonus to damage or as enhancement bonus to AC, immunity to mundane splash weapons (alchemist bombs are still a problem), incurring bleed damage to cancel out poisons/diseases on a successful save…there are some rather unique tricks here. Take for example one particular gadget that converts your weapon’s damage to positive energy, thus healing the person hit (at decreased potency at range to maintain balance) – cool idea as a minor support healer, though limited by charges. What about a gadget that turns the weapon to creature-type bane for the day upon hitting the first creature? Or gadgets that penalize natural attacks/unarmed attack by dealing thorny retribution damage? Increased combat maneuver bonuses? There are A LOT of customization options here, especially when taking into account that magical weapons can be enhanced with these, stacking further damage upon them – oh, and the revision now also covers interaction with special weapon abilities…so yeah, combo away!
A total of 13 accessories are presented, each with its own custom set of add-ons – take adhesive strips: a total of 10 add-ons can be added to the strips and they can be used to repair objects, weapons and be used to improvise weapons – sans add-ons. With them, they can be sued to tape shut the mouth of adversaries (including bleed damage upon removal for bearded adversaries) and yes, even the fixing of constructs and complex devices, glue foes/objects to walls, improvise ammunition, entangling taped foes, or add bleed damage and further increase the efficiency of improvised weapons. As mentioned, each entry of add-ons etc. comes with materials for true Mcguyver-scrapping AS WELL AS information whether or not it can be jury-rigged.
What about a chemical dispenser that can be used to render alchemical items useless but also alternatively increase their potency? On the interesting side, the add-ons allow the dispenser to negate e.g. the effects of glitterdust, blinding powder etc. or makes the dispenser dissolve unattended inorganic objects (why no damage for constructs/items?) or temporarily grant DR, but receive the damage after that (but not below 0) via Titan.-(Arkham City, anyone?)
Next up would be Cigars – these come with an integrated micro-camera. Yes. Photography. No, I don’t see an issue there -especially since info on cracking the micro black box is given -nice story-telling potential for espionage-themed scenes and in a world of excessive divination, I don’t see this breaking the mood. On to the add-ons – Itching powder, knockout darts, especially noxious fumes, increased DCs to crack the box or detect it and yes, even a PARACHUTE (clamp down on the cigar…as tight as your mouth allows…) make this gadget awesome in every way.
More esoteric would be the Doppler Device, which provides concealment that can’t be pierced by true seeing and may be extended to allies -that’s about it, though. Only 3 modifications here. More are available for the energy bar compressor – these can turn food into energy bars that heal the persons eating them (or damage undead – yeah, death by snickers!) – but eating more than one causes indigestion (sickened!) sans save – nice bluffing potential here. Special animal bars that make handling them easier. If you don’t want to spend ranks in profession (cook), you can use craft (metalworking) via add-ons instead and yes, you can make mushroom-bars that nauseate tricked adversaries via their disgusting food additives. This one has been upgraded in its potency a bit – good to see!
Extreme Vision Goggles can grant the gadgeteer low light vision and can be enhanced for a low-range fire-damage-dealing gaze attack and/or darkvision, increase saves versus blinding/dazzling effects (and resistance versus light-based spells), dazzle adversaries or help your sleuthing. The Facetome allows the gadgeteer to duplicate an adversary’s face, producing very convincing disguises by pressing the mold first to the target to be copied and then to him/herself. Among the add-ons, “saving” one face for later use, gaining DR 5/- and further increasing disguise and bluff as well as distorting the face in a frightening manner are possible. I got a distinct clayface-vibe here – which is awesome as far as I’m concerned.
The Fist Cannon can be enhanced by elements, supercharge it and convey additional detrimental effects to those hit depending on the elemental damage chosen. Flare Guns can be used to create colored flares, burning and/or smoking flares and even add inhaled toxins to the smoke of the flare gun. All right, the next one had me chuckle – the joy buzzer allows the gadgeteer to daze foes with melee touch attacks, dealing electricity damage, send foes prone via the shock, stun or bull rush the target or reduce the target’s movement rate. As a joker-fan, I really liked this one! The multifunctional pocketknife is all about utility, getting an inexhaustible supply of tindertwigs and one daily use of antitoxin (both of which can’t be sold anymore), bonuses to open locks or disabling traps, ignoring the hardness of glass or reflect incoming rays with an opposing attack roll as a readied action or create mundane metal or wood items, raw materials provided, in one hour or extend to a 10-foot pole.
Sound Emitters are essentially remote-wired megaphones that can be augmented to deal sonic damage (including a dog whistle option that only damages animals, magical beasts and anthropomorphic humanoids like catfolk, canids, tengu etc.), longer wires, ear-drum rupturing blasts, damage to objects (and beings of glass/crystal) – name the sound-based mayhem, it’s here. Something for dandys and femme fatales would be the stealth lipstick -poisonous like the kiss of Poison Ivy, the potency of the poison and which attribute it affects can be changed – as can the poison be made plant-based.
The final gadget would be the automated workhorse – while useless in combat, it can make your bed, cook etc. and thus delivers morale bonuses to those employing them. Functions can, via add-ons, be triggered at precise times and the morale bonus can be upgraded and even shared. It should be noted that all accessories come with add-ons that increase their uses/day – these can be taken multiple times, limited by the class level of the gadgeteer.
Editing and formatting are up to Interjection Games standards now – the beta-terminology hiccups and remnants have been cleared up. Layout adheres to Interjection Games’ 2-column b/w-standard and artwork is thematically fitting stock art. The revised edition has no bookmarks, which renders navigation of the massive class less comfortable than it ought to be.
Ahhh, Interjection Games classes – there are none quite like them out there. With the notable exception of Morgan Boehringer’s Direlock, none take me as long to review as mastermind Bradley Crouch’s beasts (looking especially at you, Ethermancer and Mechgineer!), and there’s a reason for that – they have a lot of customization-options, are complex and never simple in their math. That being said, my primary gripes with them tend to be minor instances where things are handled slightly differently than in comparable spells/maneuvers etc. Then I started looking in-depth at this one…and was honestly surprised.
Why? Well, most classes are centered on combat. This one is not. Yes, it has combat capabilities, yes, fiddling with one’s customized weapons is fun. But honestly, the class is simply not that awesome in combat and after Tinker, Herbalist and especially Ethermancer, I somewhat expected another class with such a focus. Still, the spark did not really ignite me – the weapon customizations are nice, yes, but the gadgeteer is generally is decidedly not about inflicting max damage.
It’s not intended to. Its only restrictions to what it can do are the skill ranks/levels required, which means each gadgeteer has an incredible amount of things to do/jury-rig – and these, especially the accessories, can be summed up as “Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery’s Gadgets – the Class” – which honestly hits a VERY soft spot of mine. I’m a total Batman fanboy and from cigar-parabols to buzzers, the gadgeteer makes for a superb gimmick-based agent-type character. Will the gadgeteer shine in every campaign/environment? No. While not a bad choice in dungeon-crawls, the class is simply not that geared towards hacking and slashing everything apart, instead providing ample thoroughly unique options that have been lacking in the game so far. In short, it does something defiantly new in its focus on the ROLEplaying, with multiple options requiring smarts of not only the character, but also the player. If you’re into espionage/investigation-modules, this should be considered a required purchase. The gadgeteer makes for a great support character that has its best moments to shine beyond the tawdry concerns of combat – and it is, at least in my opinion, that is what makes it great.
The gadgeteer’s revision sees full blown magic item synergy for an influx in power, has gotten rid of the formal glitches that hounded the first iteration and, by now, has had some underpowered options upgraded. The superb expansion should be considered a must-have supplement for the class, as, without it, I still retain a certain sense of the class needing something more. As written, though, the base class as such now works well and breathes unique concepts. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for this revised edition.