Iconic Design: Absorbs 25% More Heroes

Welcome to Iconic Design, Private Sanctuary’s source for innovative and evocative character builds for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, we’re going to be looking at a build for Absorbing Man, from Marvel Comics.

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Today’s build was a challenge from Louis Porter Jr., of the 3PP company of the same name. Louis is a very vocal comic book fan, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise to me when he asked me to try and make a build for his favorite Marvel villain, the Absorbing Man. The Absorbing Man is a former boxer-turned supervillain as a result of Loki of Asgard’s meddling. He is a common pawn of Loki’s in his machinations, and has battled against the likes of Thor, the Hulk, Daredevil, Spiderman, and more.

Absorbing Man has a LOT of crazy super powers, and while I did my best to recreate him with this build it isn’t perfect. That said, I’m always up for a challenge so let’s get started!

Build Concept

The basic idea behind the Absorbing Man is that he has the ability to transform his body into whatever he comes into contact with. Air, metal, anything he touches. Given the occult nature of the character (he gets his powers from a magic potion that Loki feeds him), I felt that the kineticist was the most appropriate class for this character, so let’s go ahead and look at Absorbing Man!

  • Human: Carl was human before he became the Absorbing Man, so it fits.
  • Kineticist: This is REALLY tough considering that you can justify Carl with wood, earth, air, and water as elements. The iconic image of Absorbing Man is, however, stone and metal, so we’re going to be going earth (earth) wood for our build. Its ultimately a tough call, and the sheer broadness of the character’s abilities makes for a difficult character build. But that’s life, I guess.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the build.

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: kineticist 7
  • Feats: Iron Will (Bonus), Toughness (1st), Weapon Focus: kinetic blast (3rd), Power Attack (5th), Improved Initiative (7th)
  • Abilities: burn, elemental defense, elemental focus (earth), elemental overflow +1, expanded element (earth), gather power, infusion specialization 1, infusions, kinetic blast, metakinesis (empower), utility wild talents
  • Blast Wild Talents: earth blast (1st), metal blast (7th)
  • Infusions: kinetic blade (1st), pushing infusion (3rd), entangling infusion (5th), rare metal infusion (7th; expanded)
  • Defense Wild Talents: flesh of stone (2nd)
  • Utility Wild Talents: basic geokinesis (1st), earth walk (2nd), earth climb (4th), tremorsense (6th)

There are essentially two ways to make this build, and they are dependent upon whether you take expanded element with earth or water first. Earth gives you the metal blast, which is fantastic if you keep hitting into things with DR. Water is better if you want the defenses of the shroud of water elemental defense, although this’ll require that you spend a talent on getting it, which is TOTALLY worth it. In effect, we’re focusing on the elemental defenses for, well, defense. Water’s gives you a MASSIVE shield bonus or armor bonus to AC based on what you want while earth’s flesh of stone talent gives you huge amounts of DR. Now, why are we going super defenses, you ask? Whenever I found a picture of Absorbing Man, he was brawling with people. Beating them up and stuff. Therefore, this build is build entirely around kinetic blade, and as a result you’re going to want to be able to take a bunch.

One fun thing about the kineticist is its reliance on a single, big attack. Since kinetic blade is a physical attack (aka resolves against AC) and a melee attack, we can actually Power Attack with it. The kineticist’s BAB isn’t spectacular, sure, but who cares when we’re tossing 4d6+10 plus Power Attack at an enemy? Not me, that’s for sure! Improved Initiative is nice to have to ensure that Absorbing Man goes first, as he’s got TONS of awesome crowd-control abilities, such as entangling infusion and pushing infusion.

Talent-wise, the emphasis at the early levels is getting into better, high-level talents. All of the talents I’ve listed are prerequisites for something bigger, so let’s check it out for ourselves!

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: kineticist 14
  • Feats: Iron Will (Bonus), Toughness (1st), Weapon Focus: kinetic blast (3rd), Power Attack (5th), Improved Initiative (7th), Extra Wild Talent (9th), Extra Wild Talent (11th), Extra Wild Talent (13th)
  • Abilities: burn, elemental defense, elemental focus (earth), elemental overflow +4, expanded element (earth), gather power, infusion specialization 4, infusions, internal buffer 2, kinetic blast, metakinesis (empower, maximize, quicken), supercharge, utility wild talents
  • Blast Wild Talents: earth blast (1st), metal blast (7th)
  • Infusions: kinetic blade (1st), pushing infusion (3rd), entangling infusion (5th), rare metal infusion (7th; expanded), kinetic blade (9th), extended range, impale (11th), deadly earth (13th)
  • Defense Wild Talents: flesh of stone (2nd)
  • Utility Wild Talents: basic geokinesis (1st), earth walk (2nd), earth climb (4th), tremorsense (6th), enduring earth (8th), kinetic cover (Bonus), kinetic form (10th), earth glide (12th), shift earth (Bonus), stone sculptor (14th)

So the big battle plan here is to have crazy reach AND defenses, plus surprisingly potent maneuverability. Absorbing Man can pass himself through most earthen or metal terrain, and he can use his kinetic form ability to make himself Large seemingly at will. With kinetic whip, that gives him a sizable reach with his devastating, Power Attacking blast. On top of that, he’s got scary AOE attacks like deadly earth, high-damage attacks like impale, and can even move and sculpt stone at his whim. Feat-wise, all of Absorbing Man’s feats go into getting more wild talents, because why not? Very few feats benefit the kinetist, so we might as well load up on utility abilities.

This is the threshold into the endgame, so let’s see where the Absorbing Man goes, shall we?

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: kineticist 14
  • Feats: Iron Will (Bonus), Toughness (1st), Weapon Focus: kinetic blast (3rd), Power Attack (5th), Improved Initiative (7th), Extra Wild Talent (9th), Extra Wild Talent (11th), Extra Wild Talent (13th), Extra Wild Talent (15th), Extra Wild Talent (17th), Extra Wild Talent (19th)
  • Abilities: burn, elemental defense, elemental focus (earth), elemental overflow +6, expanded element (earth, water), gather power, infusion specialization 6, infusions, internal buffer 3, kinetic blast, metakinesis (empower, maximize, quicken, twice), metakinetic master, omnikinesis, supercharge, utility wild talents
  • Blast Wild Talents: earth blast (1st), metal blast (7th), water blast (15th), mud blast (15th)
  • Infusions: kinetic blade (1st), pushing infusion (3rd), entangling infusion (5th), rare metal infusion (7th; expanded), kinetic blade (9th), extended range, impale (11th), deadly earth (13th), grappling influsion(15th), torrent infusion (17th), fragmentation infusion (19th)
  • Defense Wild Talents: flesh of stone (2nd), shroud of water (15th)
  • Utility Wild Talents: basic geokinesis (1st), earth walk (2nd), earth climb (4th), tremorsense (6th), enduring earth (8th), kinetic cover (Bonus), kinetic form (10th), earth glide (12th), shift earth (Bonus), stone sculptor (14th), expanded defense (Bonus), basic hydrokinesis (15th; expanded), greater shift earth (16th), water dancer (17th), seismic master (18th), greater water dancer (Bonus), water manipulator (20th)

Nothing particularly surprising here. Water blast allows Absorbing Man to also gain access to mud blast, which is usable with a fair number of his infusions. He also picks up the fun water walking and water breathing abilities, but mostly eschews the water for earth and metal abilities. Absorbing Man is a boxer first, after all; he favors the heavy hitters.

Overall I’m pretty pleased with this build, even if it isn’t a 100% perfect rendition of Absorbing Man. I’m sorry Luis, but you were totally right; the Absorbing Man’s crazy powerful abilities are simply too powerful / difficult to fully capture as a PC build. In honesty, the Absorbing Man would likely be some sort of high CR aberration as a result of Loki’s tampering with him, an aberration that got a plethora of kinetic abilities from different abilities. Maybe someday I’ll write a monster that works like that, but for now this is the best you’re going to get for a PC build for the Absorbing Man.

What do you think? Would you play this build or use it as an NPC, or is it too scattered? What would you do differently? Leave your questions and comments below, and make sure to check back next Friday for another installment of Iconic Design! Take care.

Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.

Alex Augunas

Alexander Augunas lives outside of Philadelphia, USA where he tries to make a living as an educator. When he's not shaping the future leaders of tomorrow, Alex is a freelance writer for esteemed Pathfinder Roleplaying Game publishers such as Paizo, Inc, Radiance House, Raging Swan Press, and more, and also acts as a co-host and blogger on the Know Direction Network, where he has earned the nickname, "The Everyman Gamer." Recently, Alex has forayed into the realm of self-publishing through his company, Everyman Gaming, LLC.

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3 Comments

  1. James Krolak Reply to James

    Good job with this one. Here’s my challenge for you, now, Alex. Come up with some way to simulate the mesmer class from Guild Wars 2. The mesmer creates illusions that attack his enemy in combat.

  2. Hmm, technically I don’t think you can actually use Furious Focus with kinetic blade. Furious Focus reads:

    “When you are wielding a two-handed weapon or a one-handed weapon with two hands, and using the Power Attack feat, you do not suffer Power Attack’s penalty on melee attack rolls on the first attack you make each turn.”

    While kinetic blade reads:

    “The kineticist is never considered to be wielding or gripping the kinetic blast (regardless of effects from form infusions; see Infusion on page 12), and she can’t use Vital Strike feats with kinetic blasts.”

    Since kinetic blade is a form infusion, you still don’t count as wielding it, so technically Furious Focus wouldn’t trigger. Technically. Though I would personally be fine with houseruling that away, but that isn’t an option for Pathfinder Society…

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