Kineticists of Porphyra II
The second of the massive expansions for the kineticist-class clocks in at 59 pages (as before, in the one-column, digest-like format), 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 55 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review is based on V.4 of the file.
After a brief introduction on kineticism in Porphyra, we dive right into the first archetype, the Divine Conduit, who must be good-aligned, gets an aura of good and replaces the 1st level infusion with the exclusive universal wild talent kinetic smite: For accepting 1 burn, as a swift action, you may declare a target within 60 ft. as the target of smite evil as per the paladin class feature, but only gain 1/2 your Constitution modifier as bonus to atk and AC to account for the option to use it more often. 2nd level provides the burn-less adamant faith elemental defense, which nets you Dr 1/evil, +1 per 2 kineticist levels, with the option t enhance this defense by +1 per burn accepted, with a DR-cap up to your total kineticist level. The effect can be dismissed and restored as an immediate action and increased DR is maintained until your burn is removed. Furthermore, and this is pretty strong at mid levels, when using a wild talent and accepting burn, adjacent allies partake in your DR.
2nd level also provides potentially the make or break option – holy healing, which nets the kinetic healing utility wild talent, regardless of element and yes, it locks burn into the kineticist, making it impossible to delegate the burn. The conduit can use this one as a swift action, which is pretty good – I probably would have gone with a more conservative action economy here. The ability replaces the 2nd level utility wild talent. At 4th level, the divine conduit gets a 10-ft anti-fear aura and at 8th level, a burnless wild-talent that duplicates phantom steed, with burn allowing for a HP upgrade – nice! Also nice that this balances the power of this talent by providing a cool-down if the steed is destroyed. At 10th level, the divine conduit may extend spell-like utility wild talents with durations greater than one round to up to Constitution modifier allies within 30 feet for 1 round per class level, replacing thus the 10th level utility wild talent. Cool, though in a minor typo-level glitch, Constitution is not capitalized.
The second archetype herein would be the Dragon Pact Kineticist -kineticists who have a pact with an ancient, powerful dragon -and yes, the pdf provides guidelines for entering such a pact. Kineticists in such a relation gain an element associated with their patron dragon. At 1st level, these guys gain either breath of the dragon (draconic breath (cone), 15 ft. and draconic breath (line), 30 ft. form infusions, at burn cost -1, that is 0 -balanced in flexibility due to both only dealing half blast damage for non-energy blasts) or the draconic form utility wild talent, which grants a 1d6 bite and 2 1d6 claws and also reduces burn of the kinetic fist form infusion by 1 while active. I have three nitpicks here: One: Damage type? Per bite/claw default, I assume, or is there some kineticist-element tie in I overlooked? 2) Claw damage is non-standard for Medium-size. 3) The wild talent does not specify whether these attacks are treated as primary or secondary natural weapons. At 4th level, kineticists choosing breath add this one to their lists of available utility wild talents. If that sounds powerful…well, there is a catch – these guys can only use kinetic blasts when applying either the draconic breaths or kinetic fist form infusions and this eats the 1st level infusion.
Starting at 2nd level, the kineticist gains the skin of the dragon defensive universal wild talent, granting you natural armor which can be increased by accepting burn, with the amount of possible burn being determined by class level and capping at 7th. This replaces elemental defense.
At 7th level, the choice made at 1st level regarding the draconic aspect is further enhanced, with means to increase range of breaths for accepting burn and a composite blast that can be used in conjunction with physical blasts at 2 burn, with 15th level reducing that to 1. Dragon pact kineticists who have elected to follow the body-route gain a tail that deals 1d6 and is properly coded as secondary, though it can be used as primary for 1 burn accepted. Additionally, this allows the tail to be used as a prehensile tail. I assume that rules-wise, this acts like the prehensile tail racial feature, but a specific nod towards this would have been appreciated here. The Draconic Fusion composite blast allows for the blending of simple blast and draconic patron energy type chosen. 8th level nets 60 ft. fly speed with good maneuverability via the draconic wings universal utility wild talent and 10th level provides the expanded element class feature.
At 15th level, the dragon pact kineticist either further increases range of the breaths (for, you guessed it, more burn) or an always primary tail with all natural attacks gained having their threat ranges doubled – thankfully sans means of further stacking onto this expansion. They also get a fear aura and the element eater utility wild talent, regardless of focus, assigned to the pact’s element. 20th level nets the benefits of the draconic aspects not chosen and energy immunity to the dragon’s energy…all in all, good reasons for dragons to make sure the kineticist has an accident before he reaches this power-level…I’m pretty burned out on dragon-apotheosis/emulation type of builds, but this one actually is interesting and has some appropriate fluff thrown in as well – I really enjoy it and think I’ll use it…which was pretty surprising to me!
The Fusion kineticist would be next: They select two elements for their elemental focus, gaining both simple blasts. One is the main element, one is the sub element (snigger…I’ll call the dom element in my game…Yes. Sometimes I’m horribly infantile.) Fusion kineticists may only select the 1st level talents for their sub element and do not gain composite blasts for it. This replaces the first level infusion and basic utility talent. 2nd level nets the elemental defense of their sub element and 7th level unlocks wild talents from the sub element at -2 levels.
They also gain a composite blast, provided they qualify for it, dealing “both types of damage instead of half of each type.” And…here I’m stumped. I have NO IDEA how that’s supposed to work in practice. Physical attack is resisted by DR, energy by resistance: Bypass? Yay or nay? From the wording (and generally sensibility) I assume this does not mean double damage – that would be insane and contradictory to the elaboration. Thing is: Pathfinder has no solid precedence rules for attacks that count as BOTH. An example: A creature has DR 20/- and immunity to fire. It’s hit by a magma blast that deals 58 points of damage. Does the DR apply? The immunity? Neither?? The smaller, i.e. the DR? No idea.
Cross infusion is damn cool – at 9th level, it lets you apply infusions to simple blasts at +1 burn cost. At 15th level, the sub element is now eligible for full level wild talent selection and the archetype also gets 1 infusion or utility wild talent. More interesting: For 1 burn, they can use two utility wild talents in the same standard action as long as they are from different elements and 2 levels lower than the highest utility wild talent accessible. At 20th level, cross infusion can be used with composite blasts and the archetype gets 2 utility wild talents or infusions of different elements.
The Hex kineticist is the final archetype – it gains a familiar at full witch progression (and its death can really hamper blast damage) and 2nd level nets a hex, with 6th and every 4 levels thereafter allowing for the selection of an additional hex instead of a utility wild talent. 3rd level nets an element as per elemental focus, but no simple blast or utility wild talent. Instead, the hex kineticist can accept 1 burn to store a kinetic blast of this element (at half damage) in the familiar, reducing the damage output of the kineticist for as long as the blast is imbued. This may not sound like much on paper, but damn can you pull off some cool tactical stunts there! At 7th level, the familiar gains a 1st level infusion and infusion specialization 1, but can’t accept burn for an infusion. Additionally, the kineticist and the familiar gain the Interweave Composite Blast teamwork feat (which is not, as a nitpick, properly capitalized) and also the burn 2 Hex Synthesis infusion, which lets you infuse standard non-major hexes into the blast., forcing all creatures taking damage from your blast to save against the hex. In one rare case of, admittedly, mostly aesthetic, rules-language hiccup in these books, the wording could be a bit more polished: By replacing “affects one target” with “single-target hex,” that section would imho be a bit cleaner…but what’s here is functional.
10th level nets the expanded element that’s delayed down from 7th level and 15th level provides +1 infusion of up to 2nd level as well as infusion specialization 2 for the familiar. The master unlocks major hexes as well as gaining one and getting to option to apply them via hex synthesis at burn cost. 20th level makes hexes basically a wild-card that can be switched via burn and further upgrades the familiar for a third infusion as well as infusion specialization 3. Overall, a great, cool archetype – powerful and unique.
The pdf also introduces two new elements: Poison nets you Knowledge (Nature) and Sleight of Hand, with basic toxikinesis as basic manipulation and acid blast as a simple blast wild talent. Toxikenticists may use the burning infusion, though it deals acid damage instead and nets +2 to any poison kinetic blasts. As for defense, well, there we get Corrosive Miasma. This one nets you SR 11, which increases by 1 for every 2 kineticist levels beyond 1st. By accepting one burn, you can increase this by 1 until burn is removed next, with additional levels allowing for the increased scaling of SR via more burn. As an immediate action, you can lower your SR for that spell. Finally, when accepting burn when using a poison wild talent, you may, for one round, corrode spells affecting you, reducing the caster level by 1/2 your kineticist level. This is VERY unique and I really love its defenses!
The second element may have just as well been made for me (and all other fans of horror movies and icky villains) – viscera. Corpokineticists get Disguise and Knowledge (dungeoneering) and gain the physical bone blast (bludgeoning, slashing or piercing) as a simple blast, basic corpokinesis. A coprokineticist’s viscera substance infusions do not affect the undead or constructs unless specified otherwise and throw form infusions are restricted to bone blasts and affects corporeal undead and the pushing infusion can affect undead and constructs. Infusions that affect corporeal undead can be extended to affect incorporeal undead by adding the incorporeal infusion. As for Defense, that would be Reactive Skin. While it’s “resistance”, not “resist” to an element of choice gained (including negative energy and sonic!), you can, as often, charge this scaling resistance by accepting burn, with level determining the maximum of burn you can accept to power this one. Now here’s the cool deal – you can switch these resistances by accepting 1 burn. While, mechanically, I prefer the poison here, I love the viscera’s flair…
Anyway, we obviously also get an array of new composite blasts – from acid rain (poison + water) to bioelectricity (viscera + air) etc. – and generally, I consider them well-balanced, more so, in fact than in KOP I; more important for me would be that they have unique tactical options: When you, for example, properl a bloody murder blast at your foes (by throwing a blood-soaked skull) , you increase the damage by +2 per 1d6 of the blast and may add the wrack form infusion. The imagery is awesome as well: Take Venus Blast: You create an extremely fast-growing carnivorous plant that chomps down on a foe and then withers to nothingness. It’s just one sentence. It’s odd, yes – but it is imho a huge liberation strike from the blandness of colored elemental las000rs firing at foes.
Obviously, this would not be complete without infusions, right? Well, there would be Str or Dex damage and a blend of old and new ones, for the pdf does sport some reprints from KOP I (though they now, obviously, take the new elements into account!) for completion’s sake – kudos for going the extra mile there. And yes, you know…this pdf, much more so than KOP I, starts to show that the team is getting creative with the material. Take attunement burst for sound: Con-mod creatures hit by your attuning blast can be caused to become basically small centers of detonations…if played right, this can provide a ridiculously awesome scene. Crippling limbs of foes is cool – but not as cool as firing your blast through hyper-dimensions, appearing right in front of the target. What about using poison doses that can be added to blasts? Negating poison resistance/immunity? Even the save-or-suck paralyzing infusion have subsequent saving throws to not make it an I Win-button. Oh, and there are psychotropic infusions that not only deal Wis damage, they can cause the target to attack his allies and save versus harmless spells cast by them…pretty damn cool! What about instilling an urge to self-harm in creatures? Oh yes. Now at 2 burn, telekinetic weapon may be one of the very few infusions I’m not sold on – for this flat fee, it lets you add weapon properties and enhancement bonuses to blasts…which is awesome, sure. But why not tie the burn cost to the net enchantment of the weapon? Would have imho made more sense and an actually difference between channeling Excalibur and a +1 flaming weapon… Still, overall a great chapter, with my aforementioned gripe being not that pronounced and overall creativity exceeding that of the predecessor.
The same approach as for infusions is also applied to utility wild talents, with reprints sporting new elements etc. and ample of new ones introduced to the fray: Acid fog, using poison to partially ignore hardness, mitigating the damage objects take when telekinetically blasted by you. But SO MUCH COOLER: Zone of Atrophy. Basically somewhat akin to the zones of discordia of my own scion, this one allows you to nerf that annoyingly overpowered healer and his conjuration (healing) spells and SPs. Oh, and the follow-ups: Instant skeletalized defeated foes that can be disintegrated via burn…or animated as zombies via burn! Oh yes. And yes, there is an anti-divine follow-up available at level 5. Damn, clerics will hate these guys…
Telepathy via benign cysts on allies? Gross, yes…but so damn cool! Creating poison, with class level determining the market price? Yeah, damn neat…particularly since it has an anti-abuse/selling-caveat. Bone Armor? Yes, please. On a minor nitpick: Bone blades allow for 1d4 claws (correct damage for size!) and 1d6 bite (though that one costs burn) and don’t specify secondary/primary…but yeah…assuming you know the defaults and you’re good to go. Want vestigial arms? You can have them…up to 2, in fact! (The third time, you can get a parasitic twin…come on…you know you want it…) What about shaping the flesh of a target, causing e.g. eyes to grow shut? Yep…so creepy and so damn awesome. I’m not the biggest fan of kinetic healing, but that’s personal taste. For those of you who enjoy it – two follow-ups are included and help with that line. More interesting and creative: What about inflicting the chaos beast’s corporeal instability curse on those pesky adversaries? Or did you want a 1-point eidolon evolution? (or more via follow-ups?) Well, you can have that now. Treating telekinetic blasts as dispel magic similarly is useful.
The pdf also includes an array of new feats, which let you use Con-mod to calculate form infusion saving throw DCs, set up combos (penalties to saves versus utility wild talents after taking a blast), a multiclass-enhancer (select wild talents up to 4 over kineticist level, up to total character level – similar feat available for blasts), getting limited poison access for wood blasts, gain ranged blasts regardless of restrictions…quite a bunch of material here. The feat Stout Deterrent has been mixed in layout/formatting, its name hanging halfway in the previous feat in a rather weird glitch.
The pdf also provides new magic items: Body wraps that reduce kinetic fist form infusion burn costs, bracers that allow for the conversion of simple blast energy via burn and then there would be burn shards, which can accept 1 or 2 points of burn for the attuned owner…and yes, they are limited to one per character, thankfully. Conduit gloves allow you to gather power while holding objects and may be a bit inexpensive at 1,000 gp. The big thing here, would be crystals of elemental knowledge, which contain spell-like utility wild talents that can be attuned and then used – but they don’t allow prohibited characters from using them and the item, once again, has a limit of attuned crystals, preventing abuse. Focusing gloves allow for the addition of magic weapon properties from select lists to blasts, but require the user to accept burn, while a variant is particularly potent for kinetic blades. The bland power enhancement of rings of elemental strength, in comparison, feels relatively lame and, since it’s blast die-dependent, also pretty powerful for the price. The pdf also provides kineticist ioun stones. Vambraces and vests interacting with elemental overflow are neat and certain wraps allow kineticists to gain the benefits of being Large sans actually being Large, with a 76K-variant doing the same for Huge…though in either cases, only when subject to the kinetic form wild talent. And yes, it comes with proper info on stacking etc.
The pdf concludes with Zeltryx Lastbloom, a drow (karza) dragon pact kineticist 12.
Editing and formatting are good, though not as precise as in the first KOP-book, at least on a formal level. On a rules-level, the concepts juggled are imho better, particularly considering the additional step up in difficulty regarding the designs herein – there isn’t much to complain here. Layout adheres, as mentioned an A5-single-column standard (6” by 9”), which you make prefer or not – just something to bear in mind regarding the page-count. The pdf sports a couple of gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.
N.Jolly, with support from team KOP (Jacob McCoy, Mort, Onyx Tanuki) has crafted a book that is, at least in my opinion, superior to the first KOP-book. Why? Because it is more daring. It is the book that conceptually liberates the kineticist from the “elemental-laser”-niche and makes the class have some seriously cool options: Whether it’s poison, hexes or the like – the creativity that can be found herein exceeds its predecessor by leaps and bounds. It was this book, not the first, that made me first think that I might actually want to create a kineticist. I considered the system intriguing from the get-go, mind you – I simply considered the niche to be too narrow and not too much to my liking. The variety of options introduced is cool and creative, the class material is solid and, considering the difficulty of the kineticist system and nomenclature, one can consider this a rather impressive book.
The main achievement of this book, to me, would be that it brings flair and panache into the class; it’s bolder in its expansion of the kineticist class’s scope as well as in its use of flavor and in its design-choices. Yes, there are a few instances where the rules-language could be a tad bit more precise, but they are few and far in-between and balance-wise, I actually consider this one to be more refined – I have seen less I’ll have to nerf for less high-powered games than in the first book. Yes, I’m concerned about the damage-upgrade items and the overall stacking game one can see coming here…but at the same time, I absolutely applaud the items like burn shards and their limitations, the crystals and the overall creativity and mechanical precision that went into this book. I could ramble on all day.
In short: While Kineticists of Porphyra was the book you *had* to buy to make the kineticist more versatile, this is frankly the book you *want* to buy, as the strength of concepts herein vastly exceeds that of its predecessor book and the base class. It may be a tad bit less refined in a few formal hiccups than the previous book…but it makes up for that in leaps and bounds.
Now excuse me, I need to build some poison and viscera kineticists…I forgot the verdict? Oh, yeah, right. Well, it’s my old maxim: Boldness and creativity trump blandness married to perfectionism any day of the week. My final verdict, since this book actually made me like the class and liberated it from its narrow scope, integrating it so much better within PFRPG, is 5 stars + seal of approval.
You can get this great expansion for the kineticist here on OBS!