Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tinkering with the Tinker: Level 10 (Sort of)

Sadly, gameplay in my Tinker game has slowed.  I have switched off into GMing my own game on alternating nights.  This makes progression half speed, which combined with the slower leveling at the moment has caused me to only reach level 10 last session.

My love/hate relationship with the Tinker has begun to solidify a bit.  Admittedly a large portion of it is due to playing a 3rd party class (which I recognize) but I'm starting to be able to form some words around it.

The class really needs to figure out what it is.  Some of the prestige classes seem to try and address it, but for the most part I feel like they just spin off into something completely different.  It needs to stop excluding vast parts of the game, there are things like aquatic adventures that the Tinker is royally screwed with. Finally there are tons of taxes, little things you have to buy and do to even have a viable minion.

Figure Out What It Is

Minion Master

The Tinker does a poor job of being a minion master, as it doesn't address the complete lack of danger each individual (or mass of) minions poses. A simple Dr 5/Anything will take most of the damage away from your crew, with an alpha potentially breaking through.  Given that their primary damages are Fire/Electric with little to no customizing of this, any flexibility to avoid resistances/immunities doesn't exist.  Furthermore said opponents with those abilities generally also have DR.  Their base stats also suck, so they're pretty much subject to destruction once anyone glances at them so long as they don't have immunity. (after lvl 5ish, their hp pool is huge at low levels)

Furthermore, it takes a standard action for each minion to target a new target. You can take a Greater Innovation to make them all ATTACK the same target IF you hit said target with a touch attack as a standard action. There's also an innovation and an Alpha ability to help with this, but in the long run it’s VERY costly.  You'll find you spend whole turns just stopping minions from attacking corpses. Or, since you activated an invention, you'll have to re-command them to attack an enemy.

A wizard or sorcerer with Summon Monster can probably outpace these guys pretty easily, with the added flexibility of some powerful spells. A Cleric's Spiritual Weapon out damages a regular minion by being force damage AND can summon. The only superiority they get is having buckets of HP sitting around on the battlefield impeding movement.  If your DM determines enemy targets by rolling a die this is great.  If it's by combat effectiveness, you can forget it.

Caster (Weird Effects Maker)

The Tinker does a poor job of having caster abilities.  Their fireball is just plain worse in every way.  Their potential stun ability in electroshocker is thwarted by any decent DR to electric, it’s a fort save effect (undead/constructs) and failed attack rolls (until around level 14ish it seems). They also have a severe lack of scaling and variety. You can basically sum up their powers to 'poor fireball', 'Ok single target Daze', 'overly expensive heals' (can inject potions). There is one main exception to this, which is the fly speed combined with saddle, which is just 'game breaking' in many cases. I guess it's arguable that the amount of times you can cast said spells is potentially huge (level fireballs a day and level x3 +3 shocks a day), but given you get only so many standard actions per turn and the situational nature of the spells, the value per Tinker action is pretty low in general. Oh and the only invention that scales without having to invest more Build Points is the Kamikaze. As anyone who plays a caster knows, that sucks.

An oracle or sorcerer blasts them out of the water they can’t even get a swim speed for.

Maneuvers

This could technically go under Minion Master, but it's worth noting separately as there are MANY inventions that deal with it.  The only minion with any chance of being good at maneuvers is the Alpha until around level 10, then if you focus, you are still worse than the fighter, which means it wasn't worth the effort.  At around 15 you get an ability that makes you superior.  The main issue you're fighting with (heh) is that regular automatons are small and have shitty stats, meaning you will pretty much never beat the CMD on a meaningful opponent.  It takes a standard action as a Tinker (or alpha) per maneuver taken.  At around level 10, you get medium sized automatons as a greater innovation, which still isn't enough to keep up, but around 15 there is an invention that lets you use a maneuver on as an area effect which makes you FINALLY superior.  Since there's no real loss to buying inventions later, you can basically ignore maneuver inventions till 15 and just take them once you get said area effect invention (costs cash, but just like scrolls - scribing cost). Of course, at this point the wizard is reshaping reality, so maybe tripping, sundering and disarming over an area isn't as cool.

Fighter, Barbarian, Casters, they all have better maneuvers than you until a single invention is obtained. Getting two per turn means nothing when the fighter has 3+ attacks per turn.

Crafting

With a class ability, and a set invention line, crafting should be a huge focus for the Tinker.  That said, crafting in Pathfinder (and previous editions of DnD) sucks. What you don't see is the Tinker fixing this.  Instead of a crafting speed bonus like the Alchemist, you get a bonus to crafting.  Instead of minions getting decent crafting skills, they get HD to crafting (which is LOW). Since there's no caster level for a Tinker, you get no magic item creation, and the automatons DO get creation (Only brew potion and Wondrous Item) but with some heavy restrictions (cannot increase DC to ignore restrictions being the biggest) and using said terrible skills (spellcraft is not an option).

Anything with a caster level is better than you, and you will need them for your own crafting anyhow.

Stop Excluding

Terrain

Skills and Actions
This is the biggest one. Let's go ahead and say that the ability to fly is off the table (still some concerns ON said table). It's in expansion content and requires an innovation (in other words a feat). Your minions cannot use skills without A: having the skill or B: the Tinker taking a standard action. Some fun facts: swim checks made every round are impossible for minions without swim skill, and with said swim skill, requires the Tinker tell them to swim as a standard action each round. Climb checks are similar. Once you get the skills (around level four) the minion's skills will probably be at +2, which means they aren't likely to succeed on any of them. At 10, I can get those movement skills up to a hearty +11 for 8 build points (hint, I only get 10 build points, so this is an unarmed minion until I spend the next 2). That said, why would I?  I would have to sacrifice a standard action every turn.  This pretty much excludes climbing and swimming adventures for your minion, and your alpha is going to have to sacrifice a lot of points to be viable.

Sea
Ok, so let’s ignore how stupid the minions are. Let's follow up WITH said movement innovation allowing for flight. (Note, minions will fall out of the sky the second they have to make a fly check)  Aside from flight there are two other inventions you are granted.  One makes your minion into a boat, this DOES give them a swim speed, but it can only travel on the surface, and shorts out if it goes into the water.  Note: There is nothing that says minions normally short out in water.  Going underwater isn't a thing until level 13, when they have limited diving ability in a very long description.  Given you can have flight at 7th level, this is kind of ridiculous.  The shorting out mechanic also doesn't make sense if you have elected that your minions are running on "the power of friendship" one of the suggested power sources.

Quite recently I had to dive into the underwater rules, and compare them to automatons.  Firstly, since automatons use mundane fire, none of it works. Ever. So I hope you invested in customkaze, I elected for force dropping my 7d6 (additional blast charges) to 3d6. Note: All inventions that add damage to kamikaze denote a specific damage type, this means that that additional 2d6 damage is fire and therefore would be negated in water. Secondly, the aforementioned swim speed/skill issues. Finally, all the swim speed/freedom of movement buffs to counter negative effects from swimming appear to be single target, meaning you can look forwards to not getting their benefits for your minions.

Land
In theory this is what minions are built for. With a strong 20ft movement speed, they're already lagging behind in most engagements. But whatever, it's just another disadvantage and calculation to add to the pile. But this isn't about the overland movement.  Thanks to that cool innovation, now your minions can have a burrow speed!  I have never taken this, I won’t take it ever, and here's why.  Firstly, the burrow is only for soil. No stone, wood, and so on, so any really cool tricks won’t work. Secondly, let’s break down how directives work. Command a minion to do X, it does it, then waits for another order. So the most viable command would be an attack order, followed by the opponent BURROWING THROUGH SOIL. The automaton always takes the direct path, which would indicate burrowing would probably be the less likely choice. So let's say this happens. Now the minion has lost direct line of sight to the master, causing some fun effects.  Effect 1, you cannot issue orders including but not limited to Halt! to make them come back and idle, and any other order to make them stop chasing the opponent. Effect 2: They lose the benefit of Master's Presence, turning them into a rather useless piece of fragile weaponry.  Given it will be the only opponent, it will be swatted and life goes on.  Fun fact, minion cannot actually see through said soil, so arguably they would not be able to pursue anything through it.  So let's just ignore this invention some more then. Maybe if it could burrow through a wall it might be useful, but I dunno about that.

Magic Item Creation
Already mentioned, we gave the minions terrible skills and then made an even more crippling exception. We don't need this. Either choose to make it viable or don't.  Minion gains craft wondrous item feat.  Let them make whatever.

Taxes

Invention Tax

Here's an example of an invention tax, to have a minion fire a bow, you need to give it arms a quiver and martial weapon proficiency bow. This means you've invested 3 points and put down 3 lines to be able to use said bow. This basically makes it so ranged attacks are unavailable until level 3.  And at that point you will have a small minion firing a large crossbow once a round for 1d8 damage (maybe).

The arms tax is the most egregious, but there are other taxes as well, without scaling inventions, many inventions require you buy an additional invention in addition to the original invention just to keep amping up the power. For instance craftsbot inventions, tools, arms, skill points, and class skills are all different inventions. And for a really shitty skill, it’s similar for all the skills.  One invention to rule them all that levels up would do the job just fine.

Gold Tax

Remember that bow firing minion?  Yeah you gotta supply it with arrows. Same for alchemy throwers, potion injectors and poison applicators.  Instead of just giving them a default low level effect and the OPTION to add more, you have to supply all of it. Since you can't do arrows until level 3 maybe it’s not so bad, but it's definitely been prohibitive for me regarding even considering alchemy effects... which would still be at normal damage so not too useful in mid to late levels. Now there is an invention that allows you to get a couple alchemy items for free... For 3 build points. At level 10 this is a huge amount of points to get two alchemists fire or smokesticks.

This is of course, not including the price of the alpha, which is grossly overpriced compared to a familiar.

Alright So What?

I am currently in a brainstorming phase of coming out with a fan expansion for the Tinker.  After I decide I'm running dry on ideas, I'll start writing up potential characters with each invention set in some useful form (comparing it to level appropriate challenges), if I can't think of one, I'll nix the invention and move on. I'll be looking at each invention both at obtainment and later on. I’ll probably start this process this weekend.

I think I'll also consider working on an optional redo of some Tinker stuff, kind of an unofficial rewrite with a potentially more generally useful or focused Tinker ability.  It will probably do away with or rewrite a number of Tinker inventions and hopefully tweak things to make them more playable.  There might be some more unbalancing combinations, but I think I’ll break some stuff down that I have experienced or been told about.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tinkering with the Tinker: Levels 1-9 the Retinkering

So now that I've gotten the general overview of the class down, here's where I consider doing some redesigning in house rules to make it more playable and/or interesting.  The class has TONS of interest, but the success at low levels was painful to achieve.


The Basics
Honestly, I really wouldn't change much here. I color myself very satisfied. Potential to grow in any direction. At maximum I might just convert the knowledge section to all knowledges, but it's entirely unnecessary.  The Tinker is much more an inventor than a generalized scholar.


The Abilities
Mostly this is going to be about innovations, Craftsman, and the Swarm. Inventions are a HUGE swath of content that will be a chunk in itself, and the base bots and their interactions probably needs another section.


Craftsman
This one is easy. Crafting sucks in pathfinder, and having to be beholden to the same rules everyone else does when you spontaneously create clockwork automatons from a sack on a level per day basis is strange.  Obviously you cannot just pull complete items from the same sack as that would be way too much.


I propose something in-between swift alchemy from the alchemist and master alchemist the feat. Or more specifically gradating from one to the other. Instead of a +1 per 2 levels to craft checks, multiply your progress in coinage by 2 at 2nd, 3 at 4th, 4 at 6th and so on.  This puts your progress at Master Alchemist at 20th level, and Swift alchemy at second.


This doesn't allow you to beat higher DCs, it doesn't let you make things cheaper and it doesn't fix everything wrong with crafting, but gives you a chance to viably craft while on the move.  It also gives you an edge in long term crafting.


The Power Source
This is a footnote in the Tinker creation process. A great piece of fluff that never gets mentioned again.  It makes me sad. I feel like the creator had the intent to do something meaningful here, but when the class got so complicated it was removed for simplicities sake. I laugh at that idea and propose an archetype. THE POWERED TINKER.  Essentially it just trades its second innovation for a mandatory power based on the category of power type.  Rough drafts below. Possibly could be specific inventions for different power types.


Elemental
Gets Kamikaze at 2nd level, but the element responds to the power source.
Possible Options: Fire, Cold, Electric, Acid (fire is redundant, and arguably my position as the default power source. more on Kamikaze later)


Positive Emotions and Negative Emotions
As Elemental, but positive and negative energy damage also D4s instead of D6s so as to not stomp all over cleric territory.


Creation and Destruction
Destruction: Get Kamikaze, Automaton Combat maneuvers get +2, Automaton Craft checks get -4
Creation: Cannot Get Kamikaze, Automaton Craft checks benefit from Craftsman (modified version would be best)


Obviously there is a lot more potential, but you could sum up positive emotions as the power of friendship and baby puree as Destruction or negative emotions.
The Swarm
Just as a quick look at the swarm, I forsee some decent roleplay opportunity for the mage hand and Fabricate being an occasionally useful option. Now if we reworded the Fabricate section to override the single material limitation then we could be cooking with gas.


Innovations
There are a bunch of these, but I'm going to hit a good chunk of em. For these and the greater innovations I'll be sticking to the core content, but there are plenty of very good innovations in the expansion content.


Aid Another Directive
I feel this should be wrapped up with Support Programming. Aid ability can be pretty great when you specialize into it, or stack it up with many allies, but the tinker is basically getting a 'remote' aid at best for the cost of one of these cool abilities.


Centralized Investment
Maybe it's just me, but this is totally worth it. Maybe not at early levels, but right now I have at least 2 deploys left at the end of the day AND I have this ability.  The biggest cost is increasing the HD of your alpha which results in more GP loss if he dies.


Designer
Another amazingly worth it invention.  Took this as early as possible to take a bit of the edge off of early level point limitations.  Wont put a sword in your automaton's hand, but it effectively makes the rotor a 1 cost invention.


Direct Uplink
If you use your alpha for remote operations frequently it's a must. It also opens up a really great looking greater innovation for a special blueprint with an int score and magic item crafting. I made the hard decision to pass for more combat ability.


Extra Charges
No comment till I actually get swarm


Extra Inventions
You can learn inventions by spending gold. Feats are MUCH more limited.  I would pass. But I understand the addition, it's a classic option for most classes like this.


Heavier Construction
Supposedly there's a span where you don't have enough HP on your minions until you can increase their size. I can't really speak to that due to the fact mine almost never get attacked. With the exceptional amount of deploys you will gather to replace any lost minions, I'm not certain the 5-8 HP you will eventually get will be worth it.


Heavy Construction
Three hit points. If you don't want strength and dex, but want designer, this is the one. That said, I think you want strength and dex.


Improved Construction
Part of the pre-req for designer this is the choice I chose and I don't regret it. At early levels instead of a 10 the minion starts with an 11, combined with stout design you can have a 12 str 10 dex minion for better slam attacks.


Kamikaze Directive
I feel like this should just be one of the big iconic trait of a Tinker.  A minion running in and exploding into fiery shrapnel death.  It scales, both in save DC and damage, has tons of support inventions, doesn't occupy a slot and is an area effect. There's nothing I don't like about it.  Should either be a freebie or drop an innovation for it.


Master Plan
I think perhaps tinkers who specialize in support might need more blueprints. I do not.  I have a ranged, a melee, an exploder and a spare. I didn't take this, probably wont.  Especially if I take mega and giga droid.


Not Again!
Evasion for a specific ability who's deployment you have control over. And not even improved evasion. I don't think I'll be taking this.  Could be useful if you take Contingent Kamikaze. I do not recommend taking Contingent Kamikaze.


Overwhelming Presence
I sincerely regret not having a 13 Charisma for this innovation. I get it, we can't have everything, but this is something I would really like.  More maneuvering power.  At ninth level you can be up to 90ft away from your minions! Needs a boost to range of directives too though.


Overzealous Execution
Do it. Getting bonuses to damage and hit are key for your little automatons. This will help them hit and inflict large amounts of pain. Especially will help you overcome damage reduction with +2 damage on your damage rolls. Combine with Paint Target to give your enemy a very bad day on turn 1.


Permanent Fixture
This looks pretty good.  I've been tempted to take it multiple times, but haven't quite figured which one to go for.  Considering choosing the paint buckets from Happy Little Automatons as there's no updating necessary and then my alpha can paint all my minions. Only downside is it can only primer once a day, while I could deploy minions to primer more than once.


Potion Injection
On the surface seems pretty terrible. Standard action to use a potion isn't SO bad.  But if the minion dies while holding a potion, the potion is destroyed. Higher level inventions make this much better by increasing caster level of used potions and using more than one potion at once. Combined with support programing, the bot will deploy multiple potions with improved caster level on a single target automatically. With the magic item crafting you can even make the potions with the help of the cleric or wizard.


Preferred Blueprint
One blueprint getting +1 HD.  Doesn't seem like much but if used on your most common blueprint it will basically improve everything that blueprint does. HD are pretty much the foundation of everything an automaton does.  Very basic, but still good.


Rapid Orders
Basically next on my list to get. Probably before I have 3 minions. Early levels will let you be like a normal adventurer with a sidekick for a few rounds. Later levels will allow you to redirect your whole force quickly, or let your alpha kick butts instead of giving orders for a few turns.


Self Defense Programming
To be honest, not sure how I feel about this.  It makes sense, it shores up a deficiency in automatons. That said, if they're not attacking I generally having them defending the ally most prone to being attacked. Could possibly be an invention instead?


Support Programming
Actually seems to make the minion pretty smart.  Need some guidance as to what extent they interpret needs though. At least an aside just saying you don't need to give orders to make them do what you want them to in regards to those actions.


Greater Innovations
Unlike the previous, these cannot be taken with feats. I feel like you should want all of them, but be perfectly effective without any one of them. If you need a specific one of these to succeed, maybe the core needs some review.


Bigger and Better
On first glance it seemed amazing. More HD for all my minons! I mean it's not bad, but it doesn't particularly make your minions more dangerous, just more durable. Sure you could get one or two attribute points, but I think there are some more dangerous things to be had here.


Efficient Reconstruction
Makes a bad thing less bad. And gives your alpha more HD. I think the whole alpha rebuild should be brought more in line with the wizard bonded item replacement. 200gp per level instead of HD based. Mechanically more in-line with existing stuff, not horribly crippling, and if you can't handle so many HD for so little, consider that most HD stuff is really about doing better with less or the same materials anyhow.


Giga Droid/Mega Droid
I was originally shooting for this. I think I may have changed my mind.  While the automaton is huge and can spike damage better, there is only one. This shoots your action economy in the foot. None of your fire or electrical damage increases with size, and there's a limit to the number of offensive inventions, so the actual damage bonus might not be that great.  On the good side, you get more blueprints so it doesn't soak up anything existing and is just another option. Considering the implications for combat maneuvers and reach though. For anyone confused by the level requirements, they are the points when you would actually be able to use the ability, not obtain it. Yeah, I know, but maybe there's an archetype or something.


Independence Script
This one I really wanted. It follows a chain for magic item crafting and gives you a free intelligent bot. With a RP heavy game, or one with enough non-combat stuff going on you can put this one to really good use. I will probably be passing due to the size of my party though.


Paint Target
If you can shoot relatively straight, this might be a lifesaver for action economy.  One standard action to order up to 3 automatons. Not good for particularly agile targets. Probably not a good combo for Giga/Mega Droid


Prismatic Strike
The creator vouches for the horrible implications of this. I'm seeing a potential +2 damage per attack per minion. There's some gross things that could potentially happen at high levels, but at level 5 it will more likely than not be around +1 damage per minions, 10 +2, and maybe start paying off around the 12+ level. Needs to be reworded more specifically. "Whenever the tinker or one of it's automatons deals damage, for each source of fire or electrical damage deal one more point of that damage." I stand by my stance regarding resistances, but I yield it's better than first glance. Maybe even better if you count the residual burn from an attack, or splash damage.  Otherwise I would suggest some kind of minor boost like changing elemental types or to hit to push it further into greater territory.  Or perhaps only applying to automatons and moving it into a regular innovation.


Rebuild Alpha
I would never take this. Ever. Should probably be a regular innovation.  Losing a feat is bad enough, but a Greater Innovation is just terrible. I'll suck up a bad feat selection thank you very much.


Superior Materials
 I regret not choosing this instead of bigger and better. If I don't go Giga Droid I will probably get this and paint target. The strength and dex basically mean more damage, better combat maneuvers and so on... And a little icing of some HP doesn't hurt either.


Swap Out
I have thought on this one a lot lately. If it weren't for how many deploys I generally have each day. Should my minions be more threatening and deploys less plentiful, this might be useful. Probably not good for someone with Mega/Giga Droid.


Weaponized Swarm
No comment till I get the swarm.


Ideas
So of course I have a few ideas on some innovations I would like to see.


Programmed Directive [greater]
Prereq: Know Engineering 8
You can create a single special directive for each blueprint which is a series of directives. There can be up to a number of directives equal to your intelligence bonus and no more than one target creature and one target location per series of directives. The Tinker can command this directive as a standard action. The automaton will perform these directives in order using the given target and location whenever relevant and will skip any directives that are impossible. The directive can be interrupted with the Halt directive or a new directive being given.


example: the Tinker has an intelligence bonus of 4. It commands a Programmed Directive for it's automaton picking a target thief and a ground location.
The directive appears as follows.
  1. Move to location
  2. Shoot target with electroshocker
  3. Shoot target with electroshocker
  4. Attack Target
If the automaton only had 1 charge of electroshocker they would move to the location on turn 1, shoot at the thief with an electroshocker on turn 2, and on turn three begin attacking the thief normally.


Tweaking areas can be making it a full round action, losing turns with invalid directives and the number of possible directives.


Notes:
Doesn't stack with target painter, but allows for action saving should the enemy last longer than a few rounds.  Should make action management easier especially if you tend to do the same thing every round.


Chemical Warfare [greater]
Prereq: Customkaze, Alchemy 8


When designing a blueprint you can elect for all inventions or directives that normally deal fire damage to deal acid damage or all inventions or directives that normally deal electricity damage to deal cold damage or both.


Note:
Fire and electric damage are notorious for being resisted.  Still somewhat thematic with the burning/halting movement.


High End Supplies [normal]
Prereq: Craft Weapon 5
When automations spawn with equipment it is of a higher grade than normal dependent on your level.  Treat the equipment as having the following qualities if they are equal to or less than the Tinker's level.  Valid equipment is weapons and shields.
5th: Silver
10th: Cold Iron
15th: Adamantine


Helps bypass mundane weapon Damage Reduction.


Last Minute Planning [greater]
When an invention has a choice that must be determined while placing it into a blueprint, that choice can be set during the deploy step instead. Choice examples, Customkaze damage type, skill suite skills, mobile crafting stations simple weapon proficiency and so on.


note:
This assumes the current system for inventions. Weapon proficiencies should be exempt from this innovation should my proposed weapons system be adopted (arms, quivers, reloaders would not be required). 


Martial Programming [normal]
When calculating an automaton's bonus to CMB or CMD use the tinker's level instead of base attack bonus.  Furthermore instead of replacing the CMB add it.
note:
The last line could be removed if it proves too powerful. Optionally, it could be removed from the alpha and only granted to automatons without an intelligence score.


Inventions
For the sake of sanity I'm going to keep this to the core as I did with innovations. That said there are some pretty good inventions in expansion content that should not be ignored. Tinkering 201 and Happy Little Automatons stand out.


Level 1
Additional Blast Charges
A must have for Kamikaze driven bots. Brings you closer to dice = to level damage as you go through levels.


Arms
I feel like this should just be a given. There's few times I would NOT take this. Something like "The automatons have up to two arms as desired by the Tinker." Or some such. This is one of those tax inventions.


Brute / Precise Design
Before flight these are great tweaks for those Design points you have. Keeping in mind they only apply to certain attacks. I still use them when my automaton needs more damage or only needs to hit (for instance thrown grenade like weapons). Perhaps these could scale like Power Attack?


Compartment
Haven't used this yet. Its the most efficient space to point ratio, but slowest access unless you fill it with all the same stuff. That said, I doubt I would put different things in a compartment. I've done theorycrafting with it, but haven't found myself in a useful position for alchemical lobbing.  Early levels it's effective but expensive, late levels I don't have bonuses like the Alchemist to boost the damage.  With the cost of losing a compartment's contents, it might not hurt to have a high capacity compartment, or improve the base capacity.


Endearing/Intimidating Design
Effectively gives the automaton a skill at +3. Not sure what they would do with Diplomacy, Intimidation has limited combat application.  Regardless both total skills is too low for use unless swarms of bots trying to intimidate gives a bonus. Thematically cool, perhaps some non-skill bonus as well?


Potion Injector
See the innovation. This is a gateway to cooler things.


Quiver
Another tax, furthermore the requirement to supply ammo is almost meaningless even at 1st level, so we might as well remove it.  Only potential benefit is giving automatons ammo with special materials.


Reloading Winch
This costs 1 point.  Arms costs 1 point. Unless there's a good reason for not taking arms, perhaps this should be removed.


Repair Kit
If I were a warforged, and/or once you get your alpha this is useful. Until you can afford the Scavenger's Stone. Will stay useful if there isn't a lot of magical repair in your game.


Responsive Programming
A must have for a front lines disruption bot. I have no problem with automaton's not getting attacks of opportunity. Keep in mind it only works for the automaton's current target.


Saddle
I need more information on this.  It's amazing for the alpha no matter what.  However, it's effectiveness on normal automatons is in question.  If I have to take a standard action to tell it to move it is poor.  Otherwise it is a good invention.  Especially once you get the next version if you are medium sized. Combine with Rotor for great effect.


Simple Weapon Proficiency
Keep in mind that automaton's slam is pretty good already compared to simple weapons. (1d4 for a small automaton.) Getting one of these should mainly be for things like reach, ranged, two handed or other side benefits. There are some weapons that can boost it to 1d6, but that's getting about 1pt of damage for 2 points of build points (arms).


Stout/Nimble Design
Great at levels when your automatons have odd Strength and Dexterity scores. You can push them towards another +1 to strength based rolls or +1 to dexterity based rolls. This can actually be pretty large for the little guys.


Weapon Mount
Because you for some reason REALLY don't want arms. Or are worried about someone disarming your crossbow. Could be removed.


Level 2
Acceleration Unit
I used this pre-rotors a lot to get my automatons up to the standard 30ft move. As I am human it was very important. This could stack to make for a VERY fast ground mount later on.


Armored Armadillo
This doesn't seem so useful to me. If you have an automaton on the field doing nothing and consuming a standard action each turn to do so, then it better be an amazing wall or something. Superior responsive programming might help.  But this feels like it should be a gateway to something awesome. Like an obstruction directive where it gains a size category, cannot move and acts like a wall in it's space.


Bulky Design
Pretty much has to be combined with Acceleration unit to be usable for grounded automatons. Doesn't reduce the speed of a rotor based automaton though. I've stopped using it as my automatons either are crushed by attacks far over their AC or ignored.


Craftsbot
This allows for your bots to do that 24 hour crafting I mentioned. Great for games with plenty of downtime. Not so great for on-the move games unless maybe if you get your own Independence Script bot. Keep in mind the base bonus isn't great on low level bots. Hiring some unskilled labor working in shifts could help. I personally had my alpha assist one bot.


Custom Robosaddle
Now gnomes aren't the only ones who can ride small automatons. Enjoy!


Disarmer/Sunderer/Tripper
Maneuvers are rough for small sized automatons with low base stats. If it didn't take a standard action every time you initialized a maneuver maybe it would be worthwhile from the sheer tenacity of the bot. Not recommended. Might be ok on a tricked out alpha once they have martial weapons. Could also probably stand to be 1 build point instead of 2.


Expanded Repair Kit
Same story for repair kit. Not excited about this. Maybe if we could boost the amount repaired it would make Repair Kit more exciting.


Faulty Overclock
Here's your first chance at some elemental damage. It's one point of the most resisted form of elemental damage, but it's also only one build point. Later it will become more powerful. Apply liberally to all enemies.


Flaskapult
The minimum cost to make this work is 4 points and however much gold for the alchemical supplies. It's got a nice boost to range, but the benefits don't sell me. Maybe if there were more alchemy boosting inventions, something to increase their base damage. Perhaps a whole alchemy invention block?


Grappling Hook
Remember, your automaton's are stupid.  Good luck explaining ladders to them. With a saddle I can see this working out pretty well. Assuming you aren't already flying.


Heedless Design
Just as a note, I am assuming this causes automaton's to charge whenever valid for attack directives given that there's nothing I've seen so far that suggests they would.  If so, this looks alright for when you need an extra boost to damage. I have not used it.


Improved Compartment
Be sure to note the increased cost in build points. You lose one item vs two regular compartments.


Improved Reload Routine
Crossbow automaton's can benefit greatly from this.


Mobile Station
A necessary +2 for those crafting bots.


Physical Skill Programming
Now you can tell your automaton to climb, or swim, or whatever physical skill seems appropriate. Given Directives are spoken this might not be great for automatons without an int score. I highly recommend it anyhow as it will stack with later inventions.


Poison Application Device
Automatons are immune to poison, you may or may not have craft alchemy. This works great together should you be able to gather yourself a good supply of poison.


Potion Lab
Requires someone to input the spells, but allows your friends to not have to take brew potion.


Shrapnel Compartment
Great for Kamikaze, I guess you can store some alchemy in there too. DMs with low foresight and high RP may have already allowed you to store small magic items like amulets in a compartment.  Here is where you get them to reverse said decision with a necklace of fireballs.


Singed Earth Module
Bigger boom is always warranted.  This boosts your scaling attack and in other words is a good place to put some BP on one blueprint.


Skill Specialization
Great for all skills, like fly, craft and physical skills such as the ones you also unlocked at this level. The +3 may even be larger than your automaton's HD making this more valuable than the ranks themselves.


Slow Repair Module
I guess you could put this on the alpha. Otherwise I don't see much use to it. You could get it if you still haven't gotten the Scavenger's Stone mentioned in the Repair Kit entry and don't mind giving up build points on your alpha. Also a candidate for scaling.


Stabilizing Gyros
If someone is spending their maneuvers on your minions, you are doing something VERY right and/or they are doing something VERY wrong. Instead of watching your automaton sit there on their ass, put another one out and laugh at the enemies feeble attempts to stop you. After you Kamikaze the fool who is trying to grapple your minion of course.


Static Shield
Two points is costly for 1d2 damage against enemies that hit you. That said, you could lay out a lot of 1d2 damage if you could draw enough attention. Best taken for the later implications of some inventions.  I threw it on my alpha once it became an attack of opportunity powerhouse. I think a later invention only costs 1 build point, was this a typo?


Streamlined Design
This stacks with things like Accelerator Module. Get your minions moving really fast on the ground! The AC loss could actually be meaningless depending on if your minions can draw DM ire.


Switcheroo
For when you have not enough arms and too many weapons? Doesn't help for drawing alchemy items so the use is pretty specific. Not recommended outside special cases such as Simple Weapon Mastery.


Thick Armor
1 build point for 1 AC. Not useful to me as rarely are my automatons attacked. If they were, it's not a bad investment.


Twin Vial Injector
You started down the path, this is where it leads. It's common sense, take it.


Two Weapon Flailing
For when your enemies AC is low or you need 20s to hit.


Level 3
Augmented Dexterity/Strength
Strength is great for melee, Dex is good for ranged automatons, and even better for the alpha. Watch the Build Point cost though, this is nothing like the ability score designs from earlier.


Augmented Structure
I have yet to have wished my automaton's had 2 or 3 more hit points. I feel like the build points spent on defense increase defense two-fold. Firstly they actually boost defense stats, secondly they make your minions less of a target as they are less likely to be dangerous.  Would rather have a minion go down in a blaze of glory than flail uselessly.


Customkaze
I have not used this yet. I should, but I haven't. Keep in mind it changes only the base damage and none of the improvements such as Extra Blast Charges. Some of the damage types can help you bypass the terrible damage types the Tinker generally uses. Fire and Electricity are bound to be resisted by the big baddies.


Electroshocker
One of the big two at this level.  This invention scales as far as the effect goes, and is devastating against flying opponents. One thing to watch out for is electricity resistant enemies. If they don't take damage, they don't take any other effects. I put this on as many automatons as I can.


Extra Languages/Speakers
Speaker should be 0 points. Extra Languages is ok I guess. At this point you probably have someone with tongues, comprehend languages or you've used your Linguistics skills to great effect.


Flawed Overclock
Take it if you can.  It's just more damage and who doesn't love more damage?


Grafted Tentacle
This is the second of the big two. I put this on my Alpha with as many other modifications to boost it as possible and it works wonders. Should be used with Superior Responsive Programming. My alpha has taken Combat Reflexes and it just spells a bad day for anyone who approaches me. (I'm riding my alpha on a saddle.)  Would be nice if the stats for the tentacle were just spelled out instead of using whip information though, just to make things perfectly clear.


High Yield Charges
More boom. Yes take them.


Inflammable Citrus
I dunno. This sounds handy if you would ever do something like this.  I don't think I will. It seems like the creator had something specific in mind, but I can't quite divine what it is. Probably something to do with sunder or disarm.


Kinetic Transference Device
Assuming the same thing as heedless design. Also, stack on some speed for this one.


Manufactury
Take a careful read, one compartment, 3 goods, 2 build points. If you are super committed to lobbing alchemicals and have none of your own, this might work for you. I don't recommend it as you'll need all the build points you can for things like accuracy, Inflammable Citrus, and the 3 other points just to put a catapult arm on the thing. I may experiment with trying to make this work on my spare blueprint. Probably will require NOT using rotor. Keep in mind, you're only getting one to one and a half rounds of shots from each of these.


Martial Weapon Proficiency
Yes please. Greatswords, rapiers, maneuver bonuses, crit ranges... They're all in the martial category. Including but not limited to Composite Longbows. Nothing like strength damage to ranged attacks.


Mechanical Monkling/Mechanical Ninja
Depending on how you're managing initiative/if your automatons are attacked often will determine the choice here. It's not BAD, but I definitely would consider carefully if you want 2 points for +20ft movement speed. If you're maxing out speed for something like the Kinetic Transference Device then you know what to do.


Obsidian Construction
Your automatons are already nigh immune to everything but damage spells. The penalty seems a bit much for the benefit.


Point Blank Programming
Not bad, but I think most folks take point blank shot just to unlock other abilities. Still bonus to hit and damage is never bad.


Rapid Fire Programming
And here we are. This is the one you really wanted.  More damage at the cost of accuracy. Similar stance here as with Two Weapon Flailing.


Shield Proficiency
Same stance as Thick Armor except now you're sacrificing a two handed weapon or dual wielding for the bonus. I'm probably not going to use this.


Simple Weapon Mastery
So from the rule of cool, this is VERY cool. You know have all the simple weapons strapped to ONE minion. This gives you damage type options, but doesn't really give you the awesome weapons like from Martial Weapon Proficiency.


Slow Burn
Sounds great. But at the level you can first get this you can only use Alchemists fire to achieve this burn. Recommend waiting unless you have already started lobbing.


Skill Suite
Now you can have all the skills. Or at least one per selection of this suite. Stacks with previous skill bonuses for "superior" crafting and other skills. A 2 build point cost will probably keep you pretty focused in your automaton's functions though.


Static Eruption
With static shield costing 2 Build Points I couldn't reason spending 3 for 1d2 damage. Maybe later when I either have more points or static shield has upgraded damage.


Static Sheathe
See Static Eruption, but now I'm paying 4 Build Points. This one is key to the writer's Prismatic Strike combo.


Superior Responsive Programming
Take this for all your attack of opportunity needs. Now your minion is like everyone else, and great for threatening those foes. Assuming of course the minion is dangerous in the first place.  No point putting it on a heal bot.


Triple Vial Injector
Finally! You improve potions just by giving them to your minion. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and anticipate the rewards to come...


More Inventions
I feel like some inventions around improving damage and perhaps accuracy of minion might be worthwhile, especially looking into things that scale rather than do set damage. Furthermore, a lot of the intent in design seems centered around the later game.


Automatons
This section will cover the two main types of automatons I have used. The Alpha and the standard Automaton. Note that these are two very distinct types of automaton due to their sizes, their special abilities and their ability scores.


Automatons
The previous review covered most of it, but the main points I think that need to be improved for these little guys is their Combat Maneuver traits. They need a bump to have a chance for their maneuver inventions to work.


Their Wake Up Call could stand to have a mechanical effect. It's a great note, but might as well be trappings that can be changed for each time the Tinkerer is played. Perhaps a personality trait bonus based on blueprint?


Their Can We Help? ability should clarify if it's a normal aid check, or if they can aid for any check.


Their HD might be able to be accelerated a little bit. This might allow for earlier attacks and better skills. Might be fun to have an innovation or invention that grants one combat feat.


Alpha
The cost is too damn high. If it dies, it should be more like the cost for a Wizard. 200 per Tinker level.


Alpha feats are great. You have to pick and choose from the list, but you can find some pretty good feats. I currently have mine using Combat Reflexes and Bodyguard for some bonuses to my defense as well as my allies, and when combined with the Grafted Tentacle the attacks of opportunity go a long way.


Drill Sergeant is also great. As you get more minions you need more commands. One the first round of combat I can get all my automatons in order due to this ability alone.


With all the boosts you can get for the alpha, they can become much more dangerous in ways the regular automatons could never be. Most of said bonuses are in the ability scores, my alpha is up near 22 strength and 20 dexterity, my regular automatons are lucky to get 16. I'm not sure what could, or should be done about this, but I do have concerns about higher levels being even worse.


I regret not playing a gnome for two reasons, one is the ability to ride small automatons easily, the other is not getting the Build Points for my alpha.


Conclusion
I don't think a TON of major tweaks, but I can see how the class could be greatly improved by some tactical changes. The creator has mentioned in a few public posts they were considering some of the rules for the class, and there is a lot of extra content on their blog and in expansions. It's enjoyable, but not amazingly effective.





Monday, November 9, 2015

Tinkering with the Tinker: Levels 1-9

On April 25, 2014 I started building my Tinker for a Pathfinder adventure path.  As of the time of writing this post, I have achieved level 9 from level 1.  The adventure's player guide calls the adventure path "Serpent's Skull" I feel like it should have more to it in the naming, but I have not made an effort to look up the adventure as I am still playing it.

This is a review of the Tinker class, made by Interjection Games.


If you have not played it, and wish to avoid spoilers, I will not be intentionally providing spoilers, but I will not be holding back if it sacrifices my review of the class. Also, if you have played the adventure path, and notice anomalies, it's because the DM has a habit of greatly modifying the base adventures as he sees fit.  Basically, don't assume any adventure references will apply to your DM's running of the adventure path.  This warning applies to all future reviews for this adventure.

Here is a link to a character sheet snapshot for interest in statistics and choices.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Rp3ByGZKwwJn0SkBequhOd7FuJlgOj_FXJ4XOLIi9o8/edit?usp=sharing
Please excuse the mess, it's a living document since 2014.

The Party
Our initial party consisted of a ranger with bow focus, a paladin with an intimidation focus and myself for a total of three adventurers.  We most commonly took an NPC cleric with us when adventuring and still do.  Though we have built him to also be a magic item crafter.

Our paladin was forced to leave, and we are trying to get a replacement character started.  The latest class he's played was a Cavalier, but previously he tried a Wizard and was disappointed with the results.

The Basics
While playing the tinkerer, I have had no complaints about the core traits.  Skills, Hit Dice, Base attack progression.  It all seems pretty in-line with a utility character type not focused on combat, but near the front lines. It also gives you some useful skills and allows you to be a trap finder should that be your thing.  As I mentioned into the Intro to the Tinker, the Use Magic Device, Perception and Spellcraft all are really handy.

I've investigated the potential of improving the armor class of my character via feats for greater armor proficiency, but have not been targeted enough for that to be worthwhile and my strength isn't too conductive to heavier armor.  Mostly I have spent my feats on more innovations.  I'll go into more detail on that later.

As for the ability scores I chose, I am only a bit unhappy about my charisma.  It is inhibiting an improvement to the range of Master's Presence.  Aside from lack of strength for carrying, it's not so bad.

The Core Abilities
Building Automatons
If you look at the character sheet I've linked, there is quite a bit of madness in there.  When it comes down to it, I created an easy method for me to create and utilize my automatons.  Without it, I think I would have had a VERY hard time building and managing my minions. This is NOT a class for someone disinterested in doing paperwork for the campaign. I build and rebuild minions by filling in the Blueprint Calculations tab with inventions and anything else that affects the statistics of an automaton. Using these sheets helps me break down where every bonus is coming from and helps me recalculate should some basic trait be altered.  For instance Preferred Blueprint, size category changes or improved construction.  This data is then totaled at the bottom and in the weapons section (orange) and sent to the Blueprints/Automatons sheet.  There it displays the full information in short hand and calculates the Master's Presence.

Feel free to steal the sheet should you wish to make a tinker, this is a LIFE SAVER.  Roughly put instead of calculating a small size automaton, and its hit dice effects over and over, I can copy paste data between blueprints, just add or replace inventions and otherwise manipulate the sheet with little trouble.  The only real issues I have are with hooking up a new blueprint which is a careful process of copy pasta and adjusting.

With all the exceptions, requirements and math involved I must reiterate this is not a class for lazy people. I find this kind of work entertaining and enjoyable so it's actually one of my favorite parts when I'm not rushed.  Tweaking and rebuilding my minions.

The Good
You actually get to build your minions.  I love it. I like picking their weapons, their special abilities and even their color with one of the expansions. (Remedial Tinkering: Happy Little Automatons) I have not had a lot of time with the paint in Happy Little Automatons, but I think I would have loved it earlier in my tinker career. Your end result is a custom built Crafter, Vendor, Assault Bot and so on. The point system is logically straight forwards, and with only a handful of blueprints, it's not overwhelming once you get going.

With the invention book working just like a spellbook, as long as your wallet holds out you can learn everything.  You can't INSTALL everything on the same bot, but you can KNOW everything.

The Bad
There are a lot of unnecessary taxes. You have to buy your automaton's arms. If you want it to speak there's another point. Your bow will need a quiver by the way, and it doesn't come stocked. Even minor tweaks cost a point or two. Some costs can be reduced by taking Designer or Permanent Fixture, but I think that a few of these critical and sometimes redundant inventions and complications could stand to be removed.

Scaling is few and far between. As someone who plays a wizard, if it isn't all powerful, and doesn't scale, then you're probably not going to take it. The basic automaton doesn't even have multiple attacks on the chart.  That implies that once you reach level 20, you're probably still only going to have a base attack bonus of six on your minions.  Your alpha will probably get a second attack around 15.

This isn't even looking at inventions.  Most inventions have a set amount of damage that will never increase. The primary exception being the Kamikaze, this ability manages to be trailing behind a wizard's fireball in perpetuity, with it's closest approximate being my current level nine equivalent doing a blistering 7D6 + 1 + 1d4 to an area 15ft in radius as opposed to the 20ft 9D6 of a fireball.  Last level the top was actually two less with 5D6 + 1d4. I give special exception to the Electroshocker. This weapon is not really used for it's ability to do 3d4 damage, but for it's devistating ability to Daze the opponent. Fortunately, effect DCs DO scale. One expansion introduces fireworks, lots of complication for a couple dice of damage and minor effects, but nothing to call home about.

Many inventions need some clarification. For instance, how is the saddle used?  Can you use ride checks or do you need to command the minion to move with a standard action? What does the diplomacy even do for endearing design? Why would anyone take weapon mount instead of arms? If minions try to assist you in crafting and they don't have the skill, can they even grant a bonus? How should you handle initiative? Do automatons ever 'run out' or can you save them overnight? What attacks are magic and which aren't against incorporeal foes?

Using the Automatons (combat)
First off, always have your full allotment already deployed. There's nothing saying they die overnight, so you can start of with a crew AND have a full allotment of summons.  Even if they're on their last legs you can use them for a Kamikaze. Which I'm assuming you took because its one of the few attacks that scale. Second, the tinkering 201 introduced flying minions, so if you haven't strapped a saddle to your alpha and are aerial right now I hope you aren't level yet for both flying and saddles (level 4, requires one innovation and a point in ride, 4 points for infinite flight minion). Finally, forget ever having standard actions. In the rare case I find time for standard actions, I realize I have an allying shovel in one hand and a shield in the other therefore I spend another move action on something else. Also, something I learned late in the game, use your alpha up front, it takes very few innovations (feats) to turn them into an attack of opportunity fiend and a brutal two handed wielder.

As with building automatons, you have to be with it. You have to pay attention, plan during other players turns, and have a set of actions ready to go when it's your turn. Bonuses ready, dice rolls noted, stat blocks handy.  You're effectively playing four characters now, even though one is mostly just telling the others what to do. If you've got a sane DM, he'll let you shorthand your actions once he's used to your minions.  For instance, at this point I pretty much denote who has the allying bonus, who has +2 vs which target (Combat Advice), what order I give, and then roll all the attacks. It helps that the DC is always the same (22).

You need Buffers. Not spaces between things, you need someone to cast haste, or mass bull's strength, or mage armor. Without it, your minions lose out on some important benefits to damage, defense or even in some cases utility. Personally I created myself a couple magic items for the job with permission from the DM, but with so few standard actions it makes it hard to use. Mage armor can be done pre-fight if I remember, but the haste kazoo has to be used mid-fight and those standard actions are like electrum. Still, giving all my automatons and some allies bonuses to speed and an extra attack (that they'll probably never get otherwise) and a little dodge is pretty great for a single strong opponent.

The Good
When things go well I'm doing what I wanted, commanding an army of minions who run around causing chaos and occupying squares. I may be performing few personal actions, but I'm far from lacking things to do. I always wish I had just one more action. The flair of it all is amazing too, aerial combats harassing ground combatants or dueling flying opponents. Zapping things into control with my tasers (electroshockers) or sending minions in to obliterate with fire and shrapnel.

Minions are constructs. No mind effecting abilities, no fort saves that wouldn't affect objects, darkvision and the lot. It's amazing to have that, and when one of them can give your other minions orders? It doesn't matter if the fleshy party is enthralled by the enemy, they're going to keep kicking ass and taking names.

The Bad
When things don't go well, my minions are always missing. They're essentially crit fishing or bouncing off damage reduction (fire and non-magical damage have that issue). Sure they're durable, but that doesn't really matter if they can't HURT anything. Even the electroshocker has to actually deal damage to daze (less common but still common DR). Very few things have the ability to brute force their way through DR (alpha is the only candidate worth mentioning) and special materials aren't a thing till level 3 inventions (in an expansion book) and that's only for slam attacks. You CAN equip the minions with ammunition, potions and alchemical weapons, but if they die they are destroyed. At level 4 inventions a way to bypass specifically magic damage reduction is available for 1 point, but by this time I've been ignored by enough foes to expect opponents to ignore me.

Using inventions sucks. Special inventions that is. Assuming you don't have to re-order your minions every turn, you will if you want them to activate special weapons such as electroshockers, repair kits or combat maneuvers. Activating ANY invention requires a standard action unless it is activating a support item and you have commanded the minion to support a target. This can be someone mitigated early fight with tactical use of Defend commands, and are two innovations that can help, but otherwise you may find yourself in between using your alpha to bypass DR or having it order a minion to attack a foe.

The innovation needs are REAL. You've probably seen it throughout this review so far. You are crippled unless you take this innovation, or that innovation. I think there are a handful of innovations that should be downgraded to inventions, some in greater innovations that could be dropped to regular innovations, and maybe some things you just shouldn't have to pay for (I'm looking at you speaker). As you can see in my character sheet, I've pretty much burned every feat in the book on innovations with the exception of Combat Advice.  Fast learner is essentially chosen as a potential 3 innovations instead of one. With all of the innovations I've chosen, I still have issues even making my minions look threatening when they're not exploding (though when they are their bite isn't as impressive as the bark.)

The concept of a character not personally taking part in a fight seems almost alien to Pathfinder (and DnD in general probably.) It's hard to find magic items and feats that are well geared towards mastering these minions. Without them being able to use magic items, and without me actually doing anything direct, I've had to come up with weird and exotic equipment just to keep them running. For instance allying weapons so they can have magic bonuses or haste kazoos. Feats are also tough. Most Teamwork feats aren't all that useful and would only apply for the alpha. Also be sure to pay attention to special wording that might invalidate mindless constructs as targets. (say... enlarge PERSON.)

Let me tell you the story of the Tinker who's alpha died at level 5 in the middle of the jungle. No seriously, it cost 4000g to replace at level 5. My DM took pity on me and let me rebuild it for a fraction of the price at the next town. It's just ridiculous that the most melee capable minion you have will set you back a +2 magic armor, or +2 int item, or any number of great things.

Using the Automatons (Non-Combat)
If you look at my choices, you'll notice I went a particularly martial route.  With three members of the party there was no room to stray to sweep up the magic item crafting. This was a REALLY difficult choice. But I can roughly imagine the result with item crafting. Remember, a caster needs to sit with the person who is doing the crafting for the full duration if they are providing a spell, so potions probably not a good choice, and I would likely be disappointed with the amount of items that used Weapons, Armor, Bow or Alchemy for their crafting component (can only make minions with craft skills you have).

The Good
For mundane crafting you are SET if you would normally have time to craft. Your minion does essentially triple the work you do in a day. It also can provide assists for anything you might need and comes with it's own set of tools. This doesn't really hit extremely useful levels until at least 3rd level inventions when you scrape up the last of the skill bonuses, since it's based on HD and automaton HD doesn't increase much you need all you can get. I helped mitigate this by a magic item with Crafter's Fortune 2x a day +5 to target till their next craft check for the win.

Did I mention INFINITE FLIGHT? Also, by putting saddles on the little automatons your friends get free rides too!  One build point for giving your allies flight that you were already giving your minions is GREAT! The whole setup costs 4 build points, but it's like getting +10 speed, flight and mounts. Since rotor is a design it tallys up those two design points from designer nicely.

Even if you don't use infinite flight, there's a cool grappling hook ability, and you can make your minions go 50ft for their base speed (60ft for alpha) with a few low level design inventions, some of which that improve in later invention levels. There's no shortage of design options!

The alpha makes for a pair of hands that can be where you're not, or where you cannot go. Doesn't breathe so it can check out underwater pretty easy. Doesn't suffer from hallucinations or any number of poisons or diseases. It might fly, dig, float or even run way faster and way better physically than you probably can, so let it.

The Bad
Remember those standard actions for inventions? Yeah, that includes perception skill sets. And should you think sense motive is a good idea that too. Oh and since the skill bonuses are based on HD prepare to be disappointed in the highest achievable skill. Easier just to ignore physical with the flight invention.  No point in even thinking about a diplomacy bot until speaker at level 4 inventions and even then with no int score I can't even imagine how they could use diplomacy for anything.  At that you would never give it to an alpha as wasting those precious points on your biggest damage potential is a terrible idea.

The Other Abilities
Innovations
There's a lot to want here. That's great!  I think it's a good sign that you want things from a pool of cool abilities. There's also necessary stuff here. That's not so great. I feel like if the character pretty much needs to take something to be useful/competitive, you might as well just give it to them. And with the tinker usually being easily ignored by most foes, perhaps a bit of an edge might not hurt. For necessary options see: Kamikaze and Designer. Kamikaze at least should be stock. Designer just makes it playable early game. When compared to things like Not Again! and Aid Directive it's no contest.

Greater Innovations
Rebuild Alpha, Swap Out, Prismatic Strike, these really shouldn't be here. I'm aware the creator has a bit of a love of Prismatic Strike, but just no.  A level 1 invention gives +1 to all weapon attack damage, but we need a greater innovation for a +1 to energy weapons? I might consider it for a regular innovation should I run out of choices. If it weren't for Efficient Reconstruction's +2 HD I would put it in the same boat. Oddly enough it counteracts itself by increasing how much you have to pay should your alpha die by increasing it's HD again. Also, Contingent Kamikaze is just a liability, if the party knew you CHOSE that feature... I mean really, that is invention material if I ever saw it, maybe we can replace speaker with it, and make speaker 0 cost.


Edit: So I did some careful shorthand math using an example from the writer for Prismatic Strike.  At level 14 (level at which half the starting gold for a character can afford a +6 weapon as described) a tinker getting a full round attack with a burst rapier scoring all crits while all of his minions attack foes, using the most abusive interpretation of the wording can score an additional 42 damage in one turn from 12 attacks.
Using the least abusive interpretation its 15 additional damage per turn from 12 attacks.
I am of course assuming the tinker got paint target so as to most effectively allow themselves to maximize attacks with their rapier.  That said, I have strong doubts they'll ever get a full attack action as they will probably need to change targets every round should they be successfully hitting non-resistant targets in this fashion.
Fire resistance 10 would wipe almost half the benefits away, fire/electricity resist 10 pretty much all of it. A quick survey of the presented monsters in the PSRD (avoiding dragons) at CR14 show 7 of 15 had both, 4 had one and 4 had no relevant resistances, 2 of the four that had neither had a vulnerability.
I can break down the math at earlier levels, but given this was the earliest the ideal circumstance can arrive I think the concerns are obvious and relevant.

Master's Presence
This is okay it definitely adds some flavor to commanding and incentive to work as a squad. It feels like it could be better for Combat Maneuvers as they quickly lose pace, and some passive boost to damage would help.

Craftsman
This is that +1 to all craft checks for every two levels. I could just as easily not had this. It's tallied up to a cute +4, but at my level I just made a 40 rolling a 5. It's fluff, as hitting craft DCs isn't all that hard, and when you combine it with a huge inability to do anything QUICKLY, it's nigh worthless. See Swift Alchemy and Master Alchemist for attempts at making crafting not suck. This isn't even worth as much as a feat by level 10.  For someone who makes intricate almost living creatures level times per day you'd think they could at least make a longsword in a jiffy.

The Swarm
This isn't so much a review as a prediction. Until able to be used for disintegrate, this will be a gimmick. The Fabricate ability should be looked at closely, for most crafting projects it's not useful as only one material can be used. Might be useful for impromptu doors, small mundane supplies like walking canes and chairs, sabotage and moving 40 lb objects. (Most of these things already doable easily).

Finally
I'd say this is a very interesting idea.  A lot of the stuff here is pretty awesome.  There's a lot of potential. That said, I have some gripes. The class IS playable. In fact, I am playing it now (with some minor house rules) and I am not doing great.  I'm not doing poorly, but my little automatons aren't doing much with their meager base stats. They aren't fearsome enough to draw enemy fire, putting the alpha, myself and the party members on the line instead of the disposable assets.

Outside of combat they help crafting greatly... When I have a month of free time, which was once ever in the campaign.

If it weren't for such a flexible DM, I would have lost a lot of hope in this class. I have a couple custom abilities to make up their deficiencies, such as a scaling acid attack. They've also allowed me to use my craft skills in less time consuming, but less mechanically helpful ways (RP stuff).

But I just can't get enough of trying to rebuild to solve the problem. I don't think I can do it within the system, so in my next post, I'm planning on seeing if I can improve the system.  It's not that I don't like the class, but at this point I have regrets for picking it as others might help the party better. If I really didn't like the class, I wouldn't take the time to write about it.  I'd say I love it... except it could use some touch ups.

Blueprint for a Tinker, An Introduction To Tinkering

Commanding an unstoppable force of unrelenting automatons in devastating waves against your foes isn't how you will start out as a tinker.  As with all adventurers, a humble beginning is in order. Wizards have their cantrips to change the flavor of food, fighters have their second hand swords and armor that ISN'T plate, and clerics eye scrolls longingly for those extra utility spells to negate the strange and wondrous afflictions they may encounter. You start out with a chunk of metal and legs. But let's start at the beginning and break down the numbers.  Mostly this review will cover numbers and mechanics, because to be honest, anything else is just trappings.  The specific appearance and manifestation of your mechanical army will probably be as various and interesting as the imagination of the player running the tinker.


This is a Pathfinder Class created by Interjection Games



Link to SRD: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/3rd-party-classes/interjection-games/tinker
Link to Buy: http://paizo.com/products/btpy8yja?The-Tinker-Master-of-Modular-Mechanical-Mayhem#tabs

Base class information
Average hit die of d8, 4+Int skills, Cleric Base Attack Bonus, Reflex is the high save.  Their armor is light their weapons are simple and they have basic shield proficiency
This is all pretty ordinary stuff.  It seems about on par with things like the alchemist or wizard.  The class is intelligence based, so 4+Int (which is low) isn't particularly crippling or anything.  The skills that are class skills for the tinker include Use Magic Device, Linguistics, Perception and Disable Device as some noteworthy options.  Also noteworthy, the Tinker only suffers arcane spell failure chance for armor they are not proficient with.  So if you are proficient in heavy armor, you do not have a chance of failure.

Basic Tinker Gameplay
The tinker main focus is summoning automatons.  These start out as small sized constructs with a size based slam attack and a pretty fair amount of Hit Points out of the gate.  You can summon an automaton once per level per day.  You have a maximum number of standard automaton's summoned based on your level, starting at 1 and topping out at 3.  There are abilities that allow you to summon special automatons bringing you up to a total maximum of 5.  However there are also abilities that allow you to summon more powerful automatons but have a lower maximum deployed.

Summoning an automaton is a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity.  When they are summoned they start with an order (referred to as a directive).  Generally this will be to attack a particular enemy, but there are multiple base directives and some special unlockable ones.  Giving a new order is also a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity.  Orders are given in a special language that acts like spellcasting.

Basic automatons are small sized mindless constructs.  They have 10s in their strength and dexterity which are the only stats they have. These stats will improve as you level.  They have a 1d4 slam attack and move at a speed of 20ft. 

Basic Automaton Stats: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/3rd-party-classes/interjection-games/tinker/tinker-automatons

These automatons are extremely basic and not particularly impressive at level 1. That said, their pool of hit points is far from inferior at this point, and anyone with a 1d4 basic attack can contribute at such an early level.

An example round for a level 1 tinker might go like this.

Move Action: Move to advantageous location.
Standard Action: Deploy automaton with attack order against a target.
Automaton Move: Moves to target.
Automaton Standard: Attacks target.

Some important points to note.  Automatons are stupid (no intelligence score), they continue their order regardless of anything else going on.  They will attack corpses, they will stand idly while they are attacked, they wont use special abilities of their own accord and they don't by default get attacks of opportunity.  If a target dies, you will have to order the automaton to attack a new target, which is another standard action.  Fortunately you do have the ability as a free action to order all your automatons to stop what ever they are doing.

Customization of Your Bots
This is the fun part.  The automatons by default are bland, boring and will quickly become ineffectual without the true flavoring for your meat and potato minions which is inventions and innovations.  Inventions are the special parts, gizmos and traits you give to your minions. Innovations are powerful effects that usually apply to all of your automatons.  There is also another effect which improves your minions, the Master's Presence ability.  This ability gives a passive bonus to all your minions attacks and defenses while they are within 30ft of the tinker.

Inventions
Every automaton has a blueprint.  A list of all the inventions cobbled together to turn your minion into the Frankenstein's monster of finely or poorly tuned destruction and creation. You start out with one blueprint, plus one more for every three points of intelligence bonus. It doesn't seem like much, but you will unlock more as you level up, and since you are an intelligence based class, a 16 is a very likely score you will be using. With a 15 you're probably also fine. At first level, you probably wont end up using more than one of your blueprints anyhow.

Each of your blueprints has a maximum build points total. This total is equal to your level.  Each invention has a build point cost.  The bulk of the early inventions are going to cost 1 build point.  Later on the average cost will rise to about 2 build points with special and powerful inventions being 3 or more.

Each invention gives your automatons a new ability or trait.  Some level one inventions are things like; arms, the ability to wield simple weapons (and a free simple weapon when deployed), the ability to be ridden like a mount and tweaks to accuracy at the cost of damage or visa versa.

An example level 3 automaton might have the following inventions.

Arms 1bp
Simple Weapon Proficiency (longspear) 1bp
Stout Design 1bp

This gives you an automaton wielding a longspear who's strength has been increased by 1 point and dexterity reduced by 1.

Innovations
Innovations are abilities that really define what kind of tinker you are.  You cannot change them like inventions and they apply to all of your automatons.  Your first innovation is gained at level 2 and you proceed to get another every fourth level (2nd, 6th, 10th, 14th, 18th).  This seems rather limited, however there is a feat to grant you an extra innovation.  This allows you to scoop up other great innovations and really focus on your automatons.

Some of the innovations are basic boosts to all your minions, like Improved Construction which gives all your minions +1 strength and +1 dexterity.  Some apply to specific minions like preferred blueprint which gives a single blueprint of your choice +1 HD.  A few give the tinker abilities like Rapid Orders which allows the tinker to give directives as a swift action twice per day. And there are some that give the automatons new abilities, like my favorite, Kamikaze which turns your minions into self destructing mini fireballs.

Most innovations have requirements.  Some are level requirements, some are invention requirements, and even some are ability score requirements. Be sure to check for those when planning your tinker's path to world domination.

Master's Presence
An basic automaton without it's master is about as dangerous as your common lawn ornament.  With a master's orders they can take up arms and march against their foe.  But for really getting your minions going, you need to stay close and provide the encouragement only a personal touch provides.  Master's Presence is an ability that gives your automatons a bonus to their attacks and defenses based on your Base Attack Bonus and Saves. Without it, most often your minions will be swinging their swords/bodies/tentacles ineffectually and inaccurately.  Not only that, but given you can only give orders to minions within 60ft, staying close gives you the ability to maneuver and order more easily.
An example of the effects of master's presence at level 5 using a minion with no inventions or other bonuses.

Minions Normal Attack Bonus: +2
With Master's Presence: +5
AC without:  11
With: 14

There are similar bonuses for saves and combat maneuvers, but lets not clutter this page with stat blocks.  Needless to say, stay close, but don't get caught in the fire of your latest Kamikaze.

The Other Stuff
There are a few other cool things the Tinker gets later on in their career.  Special automatons like the alpha, a bonus to crafting and greater innovations.

The Alpha
At level 4 they get an extra special automaton, the Alpha.  This automaton has more build points in it's blueprint, has an intelligence score of 10 (so it doesn't require orders), gains feats and is larger than it's inferior counterparts.

However you must be more careful with this powerful automaton.  Firstly, should it become destroyed it is VERY expensive to replace. Secondly, it's inventions can only be changed when you level up.  Finally, you can never change it's feats after they are chosen (without taking an innovation to do so).

Craftsman
The tinker makes life (or the semblance of such) with his own two hands on a daily basis. This also happens to cross over into more mundane tasks.  For every two levels the tinker gets +1 to all craft checks.  This gets fun when combining it with minions specialized for assisting with crafting as it helps you to make more goods faster.  Never underestimate the power of an industrial machine that doesn't sleep, eat or sweat.

Greater Innovations
Greater Innovations are innovations that are in every way better than normal innovations.  These innovations cannot be taken with a feat, and are only granted at the levels 5, 10 and 15.  They have powerful effects from granting all your minions large bonuses to their attributes, to allowing you to deploy another intelligent minion capable of doing activities independently while the master attends to more important (or safer) business.

The Sum of the Parts
The tinker is a highly customizable and unique class with a multitude of recombinant possibilities.  Each tinker can go in with the same set of inventions and come out with a vastly different result.  It gives you the opportunity to make your own summons. Beyond just the stock items you can find on the SRD there are a handful of supportive rules as well to expand the number of innovations and inventions available to your Tinker.