CLASSifieds: Technopath

CLASSifieds: Technopath

This massive installment of the CLASSifieds-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

So, the first thing you should know is that this class builds on the Technology Guide’s rules for science-fantasy tech. The book thus should be fully compatible with Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology…and the hinted at, but per the writing of this still unreleased sequel book.

 

The technopath receives d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per levels and begins play with proficiency with simple weapons and laser torches as well as light armor. Technopath spells may be cast in light armor sans spell failure. Technopaths have their own spell-list and cast spells of up to 6th level drawn from it. The class does not need to prepare it in advance, but uses Intelligence as governing spellcasting attribute – if you’re particular about the Int/Cha prepared/spontaneous-divide, that’s something to bear in mind. Rules-wise, I have no complaints in that regard, though. Chassis-wise, we have 3/4 BAB-progression and good Will-saves, though it should be noted that 20th level’s 6th level spells per day-column is missing its numerical value.

 

The technopath begins play with a special cybernetic brain implant called spirit core (yes, spirit core and laser torch both are presented as items herein, in case you were wondering), which powers all but the spells regarding class abilities. This is also the place where the technogeist lives (Geist = German for “ghost”, in case you did not know…yeah, we’re pretty much in Ghost in the Shell territory here…). The technogeist may be hosted in either the technopath’s consciousness or wirelessly connect it to computers, cybertech or similar features via root access or control a robot drone. All of these are distinct class features, so let’s take a look at them in order:

 

Skill memory, the ability that hosts the geist in the technopath’s consciousness, is gained at 4th level. For any two skills for which the technogeist has more skill ranks than the technopath, the AI grants Skill Focus’ effects. problems here: Does that apply to ALL skills or one of them? One skill per two the technogeist exceeds the ranks of the technopath? I assume that only one skill is affected since 8th and 16th level yield an additional skill. I’m not 100% clear on how this works. Secondly, the benefits stack with Skill Focus, which they frankly shouldn’t – skills are easy to cheese as is; potentially doubling Skull Focus benefits is ridiculous. At 12th level, the ability yields the weapon proficiencies of the technogeist as well. These benefits are suspended when using root access or planar networking.

 

What’s planar networking? It’s a 1st level ability, which lets the technopath, via one minute of uninterrupted transmission of a signal through an adjancent plane like the astral, target a robot within 50 ft, whose CR is less than the technopath’s level – should probably be class level here. The target must be unconscious or currently non-operational and may then be controlled by the technopath, but must remain in the vicinity. While thus affected, the robot receives the aggregate template, representing that it’s inhabited by the technogeist.

 

This would be a CR +1 template, using Int instead of Dex for initiative, adjusting Will-save to account for the AI’s Wisdom score and the robot retains the AI’s Int, Wis, and Cha-scores. The robot retains its feats, adding the AI’s feats as well, which can be pretty potent. If such an aggregate (or another piece of equipment possessed by the technogeist) is destroyed, the AI spends 1 minute rebooting in the spirit core. The AI is not affected by mind-affecting effects, but since it is a technological entity that employs magic, its abilities are hampered in zones of dead magic and the like. A technogeist’s three base scores may be assigend at character creation (14, 12 and 10) in any order and the AI increases one attribute by +1 every 5 levels. The technogeist receives 6 + Int-mod skills per every 2 levels and begins play with 1 feat, gaining another feat at 3rd, 6th, etc. level. The technogeist begins play with share spells and all Craft skills as class skills, with a +4 insight bonus to Knowledge (engineering) as well as Technologist as a bonus feat. OP: It can repair 2d6 points of damage to any robot as a standard action. No daily cap, nothing – if you have a PC-robot-race, this means infinite healing. Even in other contexts, this needs a hard daily cap.

 

2nd level yields evasion, 14th improved evasion, and 7th and 17th level provide additional weapon proficiencies. 12th level yields Multiattack and 6th level decreases the reboot duration from 1 minute to 3 rounds. 8th level yields the choice of +1 to atk, initiative or all saves and at 9th level, the technogeist may affect nearby robots as a standard aaction, commanding them as per suggestion. The rules-text contradicts itself here – in one sentence, it says that the ability can be used 3/day and 1/day.

 

Starting at 2nd level, a techonpath may btw. share senses with the technogeist. Okay, that out of the way, let’s return to the different abilities the technopath can use with her geist, the second of which would be root access, which is unlocked at 3rd level: As a swift action, the character can touch a technological object, granting the technogeist root access, which can be maintained for a daily total of class level rounds per day. The precise benefit here depends on the type of object thus accessed: Armor and shields can convey a significant AC boost (+5 shield bonus, increases to +8 at 13th level; 18th level provides a powerful force field with fast healing and the consumption of rounds of this ability instead of charges). Weapons net bonuses to atk and damage with somewhat weird sclaing (standard +4, +7 at 13th level) and additional attacks – the latter should die or at the very least offer a caveat to prevent additional attack stacking via haste, flurry, etc. 18th level allows the technopath to levitate adjacent to the character, allowing it act and move independently.Computers etc. allow for the sharing of skills etc. and Mark models, prismatic augmentations etc. may be improved as well.

 

The third functionality of the geist would be to duplicate a kind of pet – the technopath begins play with a security drone, a CR 1/3 robot with a chargeable laser turret and a gripping clamp that can be used for clumsy manipulations. 2nd level yields Craft Robots as a bonus feat and allows the character to craft from scrap and may apply temporary hit points to a robot, though thankfully sans easy cheese option. 5th level yields at-will technomancy with a CL equal to class level -3, ith 14th level making that constant. At 6th level,, the character may use discharge or recharge 1/day as an SP at -3 class levels as CL. 9th level and every 3 levels thereafter yield an additional daily use, with 18th level increasing the CL by +1, up to class level maximum. 10th level makes the bonded senses always on when using planar networking to hijack robots as well as skill memory’s benefits while the technogeist is within a robot. 11th level provides 1/day memory of function as an SP at full CL, +1 daily use at 17th level. This also allows a geist to immediately establish control as part of the action, if so desired. 17th level provides a persistent virtual demiplane – this plane has stringent limits, but represents nearby interaction points and can only be accessed by the virtual consciousness, basically duplicating in flavor and effect something akin to Shadowrun’s matrix. As a capstone, the class can also represent and interact with creatures, including those on overlapping planes, within this mode.

 

Now, I mentioned recharge/discharge – fret not, the spells, part or the new spells contained herein, have a burn-out chance for batteries, so not cheap infinite resource cheeses there. Glamering robots as fleshy beings, detecting technology via technomancy or the like – there are, spell-wise, some cool ideas here. Immediate full restoration of construct hit points, even as a 7th level spell, can be considered to be rather potent and should be handled with care. The spell-representation of magnetic field is pretty nice, as far as hard terrain control goes.

 

The class comes with a total of 3 archetypes: The compatibilist android, who replaces fused consciousness and memory of function via a variant, robot-based Leadership. The class abilities, like the recharging mentioned before, also tie in with that. The archetype also receives a  capstone that nets the divine source mythic ability and herald apotheosis. Circuit breaker technopaths receive a modified skill list and their technogeist gains more weapon proficiencies . If the name was not ample indication, let me spell it out: These guys are more about using a sledgehammer, so to speak: Damaging and destroying technology, via discharges, EMPs and the like. In contrast to this more offensive archetype, the artificial empath is all about Teamwork with the technogeist, a form of co-existence, if you will – represented by 1st level gaining the Empathy feat, teamwork feats and the option to grant the technogeist a persistent form at 10th level. At the highest levels, they can even create artificial life and make the AI a real boy, to use the classic analogy.

 

While some feats mentioned may be familiar to those of you who own CtA: Fantastic Technology, the pdf also features a selection of new feats: AIs and robots can learn to make Backups in case of destruction; binary communication can also be achieved and another feat allows robots, androids etc. to disable emotions – which may or may not be something that you’d already assume as a given in your game. Why is it here? Empathy. The feat nets an empathic robot/AI. Emotion-and-fear-ignoring metamagic via Forced Empathy Spell is also included and faking emotions can also be found here. As an aside/nitpick, the latter has its benefits/prerequisites not properly bolded. More interesting would be Transform, which lets your robot/android/etc. selectively doe the transformer and change arms, grow wheels, etc. Temporarily wearing a robot is a cool concept, but the execution, even with its hard cap per day here, can be a bit powerful and should only be attempted by advanced players.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games’ nice two-column full-color standard. The pdf uses a mix of new and stock full-color art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Garrett Guillotte’s technopath is NOT for the faint of heart. This is a complex class that requires quite some system mastery to understand…and play. A 1st level technopath that doesn’t take care will be left sans drone, for example. Similarly, you *have* to know how AIs work to run this and most players probably don’t. Including a step by step explanation would have made this significantly easier to grasp. You see, you have basically two entities here – technopath and technogeist. However, the technogeist is basically the fuel of class abilities: A distinct entity, yes, but also the source of the technopath’s powers. And this is where a lot of the issues of the class, in fact, the grievous ones, lie. RAW, the AI is a distinct entity, with its own actions. At the same time, the technopath governs these actions. This does create an overall feeling where the lines between the two entities are blurred: Compared to e.g. spiritualist or tinker, I found myself wishing that the two would be separated more clearly. This also goes for the technogeist-powered abilities. These generally are pretty cool, yes, but their presentation is, at least when reading the class for the first time, rather challenging.

 

These didactic shortcomings can be a bit tough, particularly on newer players, but more problematic would be the issues here and there like doubled Skill Focus, wonky bonus iterative attacks and the like, that drag his class down. There is one more thing to bear in mind: Several of the class abilities allow the technopath to potentially make use of powerful foes. While these are thankfully limited, the class only really reaches its full potential in a campaign that sports sufficient amounts of tech. If you run a low-technology game, it loses some of its appeal and power. How to rate this, then? In the end, I consider this to be a flawed class, yes – but also one that manages to get a lot of complex concepts done right. It has some aspects that could have used further clarification, but at the same time, it manages to do something interesting, which is a plus for me. In the end, I consider this a mixed bag on the positive side, which translates to 3.5 stars: Advanced players and GMs willing to invest a bit of time in a tech-heavy campaign may well want to check this out! I’d usually round down for this, but as per the writing of this review, the class is available for 1 buck, which is really cheap for the amount of content – hence, I’ll round up.

 

You can get this class here on OBS!

 

Youc an directly support Fat Goblin Games here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

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About Endzeitgeist

Reviewer without a cause