Kineticists of Porphyra IV
The fourth installment of the Kineticists of Porphyra-books clocks in at 68 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 64 pages of content, though it should be noted that they’re formatted for a%-size (6” by 9”); this means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of A4 paper if your eye-sight’s good enough. It should also be noted that we have a bit of overlap for convenience’s sake in the respective chapters, though personally, I enjoy having not to skip books as much – even with that taken away, the pdf still presents a bunch of material.
The pdf begins with a short list of handy considerations for GMs regarding the prominent inclusion of kineticists in a given world, before moving on to the new archetypes herein, the first of which would be the aberrant kineticist, who gains Knowledge (Dungeoneering) as a class skill and a good Will-save, but a bad Fort-save. Instead of a basic utility talent, these guys change kinetic blast and make it instead manifest as a “Wysp” a physical representation (5 types provided) of the kineticist’s patrons power, also known as a malign manifestation, which is also the origin of the respective kinetic blast and the malign manifestation may not employ infusions in conjunction with blasts, if they require use in conjunction with other actions; these may also use living battery 1/day sans dying, but at the cost of temporary loss of the resonance ability. If killed, these malign manifestations may be recalled for accepting 3 kin. As a balancing mechanic, this manifestation may not move far away from the master and is generally not pleasant, trying to tempt the respective character. As you may have already surmised, as a Wisdom-based build emphasizing the mind, we have an archetype here that uses Wisdom as a basis for Burn instead of Constitution. The mechanic is rather interestingly tied to the influence-mechanics employed in Occult Archetypes…and you do NOT want to fall under the control of your malignant manifestation…You can reduce this influence by accepting lethal damage as a kind of burn, though.
In lieu of losing control to the influence of this thing, the aberrant kineticist replaces gather energy and supercharge with a voluntary union: This union is maintained for 1 minute and may be extended via burn…which is a bit different than the way in which the actual burn-replacing ability tends to word things, which renders that aspect a bit harder to grasp than it should be. While thus fused, the burn cost is generally reduced, with 11th level increasing that reduction to 2 points of burn. Additionally, the regular elemental overflow bonus is instead applied as a bonus to Intimidate checks.
The energy roper replaces the basic utility wild talent and infusion gained at 1st level with the option of gaining a form infusion of an energy whip that increases its range up to 25 ft. – while this weapon reduced its damage die, but on the plus side, you get to use properly codified grappling with these and the wild talents are enhanced with a massive list of grappling-related feats. These guys do not gain bonuses to ignore the effects of crits/etc., and instead gain bonuses to grappling and penalties to even out their grappling chances. 5th level yields Kinetic Clutches and also provides the option to use gather energy and kinetic blast while grappling, replacing 5th level’s infusion and infusion specialization 1. Instead of the metakinesis, the archetype may select one of a massive array of associated talents that sport grappling hook like utility-uses, yanking foes around…and threatening all squares within reach, which is really powerful and theoretically can yield a bit of cheesing. Gaining the benefits of grappling weaponry with threats, as opposed to confirmed crits in conjunction with the tendril also make for interesting tricks. The higher level upgrades and abilities further increase the respective grappling tricks. All in all, an interesting one, though I’d personally require a gentleman’s agreement here – the tendril can make some cheesy lockdown tricks work really well.
The entropist cannot be lawful and gets a modified class skill list (depends on the element) ad chooses a so-called planar array, which consists of 4 elements, with 3 such arrays provided. The archetype does gain a heirloom that contains up to Con-mod 1st level wild talents. Now, if I were to replicate the base engine of this archetype, It’d probably take up the better part of 2 or 3 pages. Basically, the heirloom acts as a kind of wild talent spellbook, but it also doubles as a chaos magic-style basic, as the entropist does not actually gain control over which array of wild talents s/he receives – in short: The focus shuffles and generates a rather versatile, if not particularly reliable array; still, this is perfect for players who tend to get bored doing the same thing over and over. Some constancy is gained over the levels and the talents not learned via the heirloom make for a degree of control and favored focus of an element as well as upgrades are available. At higher levels, the character does gain a degree of control there and the capstone finally yields full control. There also would be a 4-element array blast that replaces omnikinesis, which I’m, surprise, not the biggest fan of. The entropist is clearly one of the “stars” of this pdf, in case you were wondering – the sheer complexity and unique nature of the engine of the archetype make this an intriguing player-experience.
Speaking of which: Fans of old-school Final fantasy will most certainly celebrate the kinetic lancer, reducing the burn cost of kinetic blades and gaining Kinetic Leap from the get-go. I do like how the vital blade synergy, the exceeding of mortal caps for leaping etc. combine to represent the classic trope…but at the same time, I am weary of this guy. For one, he has an option that stacks crits with keen and Improved Critical, which is ALWAYS A BAD IDEA. Secondly, my games tend to place a rather high value on fluid combat and dynamic frontlines, which makes vital blade etc. even more potent…and 8th level yields the equivalent of pounce with these, which is…well. Ouch. Full attacks after dragoon dives may replicate the devastating nature of FF’s dragoon jumps…but in combination, I will not allow this archetype anywhere near my games, particularly considering splash-like AoE-damage and foe impaling. The archetype, at higher levels, further escalates damage and allows for bonus attacks with such assault, further exacerbating that issue. Conceptually, I like this, but it may, depending on your game’s power-level, require some serious nerfing.
After these, we get two new elemental saturations, one for void and one for wood, both of which are truly intriguing, evocative and fun, though the wood’s enhanced natural healing should have some GM-scrutiny – it fits most games, but makes the recharging of kineticists and drain easier. We also are introduced to a rather significant array of composite blasts, which are actually really creative: Afterburn blasts, at burn 3, ignore Dex-mod to AC (being part time, part fire) and leave a trail of burning terrain, which is pretty nasty, I am not a fan of chlorophyll blast, as it allows for the ignoring of immunities – only that of plant creatures, granted, but still – ignoring immunities is a slippery slope and, in the long run, generates confusion in the interaction with other options. More interesting would be blasts that include blacklight and dark-light-style effects. A blast that uses the target’s 1/3 normal HD for a color spray like assault is similarly intriguing. A tri-elemental blast of earth, viscera and wood – quite a few cool options to be found here.
Fans of viscera will particularly enjoy the new infusion chapter, with a follow-up of bloody infusion. And there are options…that need to die in a fiery hell. Colorburst infusion. Level 8 wild talent, burn 4. Adds prismatic spray to all creatures hit with the infusion. I so would love to say that I’m kidding. Similarly, the improved and greater flurry of blasts fall into the category that we certainly did not need, at least as far as I’m concerned. The kineticist, particularly if you allow the whole KOP-series sans banning anything, can godmode pretty hardcore and most certainly did not require the option to execute even more attacks. That being said, adding acidic spores to fungal infestations for mushrooms? Interesting! Ripping bone shards as caltrops out of a foe’s body is rather visceral and pretty cool.
On the side of utility wild talents, we have a nice defensive armor, poaching domain abilities related to the respective element’s utility wild talents, applying air’s reach to projectile and thrown weapons etc. – cool. I also really like the concept of stacking up sonic damage in a limited manner, building up destructive reverberations, though it does seriously stack up the damage potential and allows you to invalidate defenses even easier than you already can with the right build. Complete Circuit would be one of the damage-centric tricks that I consider to be interesting: It builds on chain infusion and, if you manage to generate a final hit after subsequent targets, closing the circuit, you inflict damage within the frame defined by your targets – which makes for an interesting strategy. Using corpomancy for Prognostication as a skill unlock is smart – it adds a bit of versatility to the class. Using one’s own entrails for divination (italicization missing), the witch’s gruesome gobbler feature or the like…pretty cool. Now, personally, I do think that a contingency-duplicating wild talent, namely failsafe, would have warranted at burn cost.
At the same time, implanting blasts as though via Implant Bombs? AMAZING. I also appreciate the secure shelter etc. duplicating options here. Fans of RE will appreciate a licker-style tongue-tentacle. Making acid behave as bludgeoning slime instead is also a rather cool one that deserves a two thumbs up. The damage-loops via time are pretty potent – once again, that’s one tree I’d have to talk with my players about prior to allowing it. The combo wild talents are versatile indeed: Making a companion, eidolon etc. devolve into a more atavistic version is cool. Prismatic Wall for 1 burn is nasty…though it’s somewhat balanced by anti-spam caveats…still, I’d take a very close look at that one…Using roiling flesh and shroud of water to disperse damage between the affected…is amazing. Powerful, yes, but of so cool. If you wanted access to illusion [shadow] spells, there’s a tree for that and while not necessarily broken, I’d wholeheartedly recommend checking this one in detail -depending on the amount of books you use with that subject, this can become very potent very fast.
There are also new elemental mutations: While an arrow mutation does not deal full damage to swarms and reduces damage, it increases threat range by 1. And…yep, once again, it stacks, which is a bad, bad idea. The avatar mutation is amazing, however, as it is basically an elemental avatar archetype option that uses the entropist arrays. Furyshapers are an interesting sub-type of blood kineticists. Utilitarian kineticsts are better suited regarding utility wild talent use, but less capable regarding raw damage output…at least pertaining the use of both via gather power.
The new feats contained herein include, obviously, new options for the archetypes within this book and tweaks for narrower or wider entropist arrays; there also are options for the limited cross-pollination of options. I am not a big fan of the option to freely split damage, as long as both types of damage inflict at least 1 damage per die. At the same time, Time Bomb is amazing – yes, it does what you expect. The pressuring quality is intriguing, increasing the resources required for the use of limited use resources à la grit, etc. The disc of rainbow tears is a rebounding buckler that can hold teardrop ioun stones and thus enhance the respective blasts. Rings of condensing explosions exist in both alchemy and kinetic versions and allow for the addition of Concentrated Splash to bombs. Interesting!
The pdf closes with Rebekkha the Swift, a CR 12 entropist 12 sample character, and a surprisingly complex and fun sample character – kudos for going with the most complex base engine here! The NPC does btw. come with a boon – big kudos!
The pdf also contains a rather cool bonus file: The Contemplative Angel, a monster penned by Mark Gedak – At CR 12 these guys treat their HD as monk levels.
Editing and formatting are pretty good, I did not notice an undue amount of issues and, considering the complexity of the rules material employed, this is really impressive. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ one-column standard with purple highlights and full-color artworks. The pdf comes with extensive, nested bookmarks -kudos!!
Main authors N. Jolly and Onyx Tanuki, with additional material by Blue Maculagh, Jacob McCoy and Blake Morton, deliver one massive supplement here. I have to digress for a second here: The Kineticists of Porphyra-supplements are near and dear to my heart. I adore them and I’d never want to play a kineticist without them. They unlocked the whole concept for me, freed it from its narrow thematic focus. I adore this series. At the same time, it is a series of books, as mentioned before, that can be used by powergamers in a rather nasty manner, generating a metric ton of damage. This supplement partially does something right there: There is a ton of material that focuses more on utility, on terrain control, on doing intriguing things with the engine. That being said, there also are some cheesable tricks herein that are imho not really required at this point. If the kineticist didn’t need one thing, it was more damage and there are some options that are tailor-made to inflict brutal attacks, to the point where my conservative preferences would not allow them. That being said, at the same time, this pdf offers truly amazing options for the discerning kineticist connoisseur, some of which are purely amazing – all depending on the type of game you want to play. The best example for what I’m trying to enunciate here would be the dragoon – for most tables, this will result in cheers and triumphant high-fives…while others will shake their heads and pull out the ban-hammer.
Not all content herein is suitable for all tables, and much like the amazing ripper in Vol. III, I’d strongly suggest GMs and players enter into gentlemen’s agreements regarding some combos in the book. At the same time, I do strongly advise getting this book: The entropist is worth the price on its own and is absolutely amazing and there are A LOT of options that feature master Jolly’s trademark style and panache.
Personally, I must confess that I expected more design into the breadth of available options, less in depth, but no matter how you look at this supplement, it ultimately is worth getting for the low and fair price point. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.
You can get this neat supplement here on OBS!
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