With Starfinder on the horizon (plus the excellent writing in Blood of the Beast), I’ve found myself with a bit of a soft spot for ratfolk recently. With this in mind, I thought that it would be fun to go through the sort-of-recently-released Blood of the Beast for some inspiration for a new ratfolk character build, and I was almost immediately taken by the scavenger investigator archetype.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am a HUGE sucker for investigators because I absolutely love being good at skills. That being said, it was the flavor of the archetype that pulled me in. A master of making weird little robots and junk gizmos? Sign me up! So without further ado, let’s get started.
Any information important to understanding the build or its roots goes here.
- Classes: investigator (scavenger) 11
- Feats: Weapon Finesse (1st), Extra Investigator Talent: inspirational expertise (3rd), Studied Expertise (5th), Extra Investigator Talent: sickening offensive (7th), Extra Investigator Talent: inspired intelligence (9th), Craft Construct (Bonus); Extra Investigator Talent: trap spotter (11th)
- Abilities: construct mastery +6, gadgetry, inspiration (free Appraise, Disable Device, and Knowledge [engineering]), jury-rig, keen recollection, studied combat, swift alchemy, studied strike +4d6, trap sense +3, trapfinding
- Talents: mutagen (3rd), quick study (5th), amazing inspiration (7th), combat inspiration (9th), applied engineering (11th)
So as a side note, I don’t think that this is a build that really NEEDS to go up to 11th level for anything—that’s just basically when the archetype stops giving you anything new.
At a basic level, the scavenger is a 100% flavor archetype, making few substantial changes to the investigator’s core abilities. Inspiration is changed so you get free inspiration three different skills, your extracts are flavored as gadgets and you get Craft (clockwork) bonuses instead of Craft (alchemy), and you swap out the poison abilities for construct bonuses. You also get a nifty ability that allows you to use Knowledge (engineering) to identify wondrous items instead of Spellcraft, and you can do it without detect magic. Wondrous items are one of the most common magic item types, so I’m down with this.
At a glance, the inspiration changes look like a downgrade because you lose the ability to apply free inspiration to ALL trained Knowledge skills (you’re left with just engineering), but honestly, you get free inspiration on Disable Device AND trapfinding at 1st level. That’s AMAZINGLY good. You also get this cool ability that allows you to heal mechanical items, reinforce them, or weaken them. For instance, on top of getting free inspiration to Disable Device AND adding half your level on the checks, you can “weaken” things like locks and other gizmos with this ability to reduce the DC of doing the thing you want to do by 1d6. That’s literally two inspiration dice right there! The archetype also trades out poison resistance for bonuses on fixing and slaying constructs, which culminates with the Craft Construct feat at 11th level. Nifty, but you might almost be BETTER off playing this archetype in PFS, where you instead get Skill Focus with either Disable Device, Craft (clockwork), or Knowledge (engineering). Don’t mind if I do….
So with this in mind, how does the build work? Well, you’re a ratfolk, so high Dex and a Strength penalty. Therefore, picking up Weapon Finese seemed like a good idea, and I made grabbing mutagen a priority for my first discovery. (Although I also picked up inspirational expertise too. I love the idea of a super smart rat who gives everyone bonuses because he knows stuff.) Later, I pick up the feat that let’s me continue to spend expertise to give my allies the bonuses from that feat, and eventually grab the talent that gives me back the ability to add free inspiration on my Knowledge checks. So I know everything and can tell you all about it. I also pick up sickening offensive after I get studied combatant, so I can study things, making me more likely to hit them, and sicken anything I hit. That means the monster gets a helpful –2 penalty on attack rolls and damage rolls, all while I’m buffing my allies’ with my brain! Nifty! Other then those abilities, the build is a pretty standard battle investigator.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with this investigator. This is something I would definitely think of playing in a home game, but I’m not sure if I would do it in PFS. It takes a while to set up to be really cool and fun, and ratfolk aren’t always available. You kind of want to make your boons count, you know? If I was REALLY going to do a ratfolk character in PFS, I would probably be more interested in this awesome rat swarm druid archetype that’s also in Blood of the Beast (assuming its legal). But I guess that’s another story for another time!
That’s it for this week’s Iconic Design. Tune back in two weeks for more ideas for your next PC or NPC! 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.