Hello, and welcome back to Iconic Design! Almost three weeks ago I made a pledge to start a new series of Pathfinder 1E articles that explored the “kineticists of Tian Xia” article that I had the privilege of writing in Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion. I started off with a build for a nine-tailed kitsune kineticist that utilized the fire and air elements, gaining massive utility through spell-like abilities. Today’s build is going to slither to the south of Tian Xia to the realm of Nagajor, where the nagaji are found. That’s right, we’re going to be building a nagaji kineticist! Strap on in and let’s get started!
Any information important to understanding the build goes here.
- Race: Nagaji
- Alternate Racial Trait: Hypnotic Gaze (replaces serpent sense)
- Class: Kineticist 12
- Feats: Weapon Finesse (1st), Spit Venom (3rd), Virulent Venom (5th), Weapon Focus: kinetic blast (7th), Shatter Defenses (9th), Hemorhaging Venom (11th)
- Class Features: burn, elemental overflow +4, gather power, infusion specialization 3, internal buffer 2, kinetic blast, metakinesis, supercharge
- Elemental Focus: wood: wood blast (1st), wood: positive blast (7th)
- Infusions: kinetic blade (1st), pushing infusion (3rd), venom admixture (5th), mobile blast (7th; Bonus) venom infusion (9th), spore infusion (11th)
- Defense: flesh of wood (2nd)
- Metakinesis: Empower (5th), Maximize (9th)
- Utility: venom speaker (2nd), kinetic awe (4th), merciful foliage (6th), herbal antivenom (8th), wood healer (10th), healing burst (12th)
Playing the Build
Okay, this build is EXTREMELY nasty once you get to Level 5 or so, but it definitely takes some build-up to reach there. At 1st level, you aren’t all that “special” as far as kineticists go. You’re a wood kineticist with Weapon Finesse and Kinetic Blade; as I mentioned in my nine-tailed kitsune article, Weapon Finesse and kinetic blade are awesome because they lower the feat count needed for the kineticist by one. Since you can run into melee and do the same amount of damage (sometimes more) that you could at range, having kinetic blade basically means that you don’t need Point-Blank Shot or Precise Shot—the reason being that Precise Shot’s main purpose is to remove a penalty that you take when you have tons of allies in melee with a foe. But you don’t take that penalty if you’re also fighting in melee. In summary, switch-hitting as a kineticist is ideal because its super easy to accomplish.
Now, your build really starts to take off at 5th level. Why? You have venom speaker, which is a nice quality of life ability that allows you to gather power while holding vials of poison and gives you a super potent poison lore ability (as the investigator). You could even take some alchemist discoveries that bolster the potency of your poisons if you want to, but you don’t need to with this build, though. Why? Well, you’re a nagaji, and nagaji can take the Spit Venom feat. This feat allows you to spit a venom into your opponent’s eyes to blind them as a full-round action. Not GREAT, but it can be useful. Where this power REALLY starts to take off, however, is when you include the nagaji poison-spitting feats from Pathfinder Player Companion: Potions and Poisons. There are three in total, but this build only has room for two of them. The first of them, Virulent Venom, adds an extra daily use of your Spit Venom feat while also causing your venom to deal acid damage equal to 1d6 +1d6 per 1/3 your level (technically Hit Dice, but this is a player-focused blog). At the level we get this feat, we’re looking at +2d6 acid damage, and this damage doesn’t care if your target is immune to poison or if they save against the poison. They just melt! The final feat in this build, Hemorrhaging Venom, gives an extra use of Spit Venom and causes foes that fail their save against your venom to take 2d6 bleed damage in addition to the venom’s usual effects. Ouch!
This is all well and good, but how does a full-action feat synchronize with the kineticist class? The answer, my friends, is the venom admixture infusion. This potent infusion allows you to infuse your kinetic blasts with poison; normally with doses of venom that you hold in your hand, but also with the poison from your racial abilities—Spit Venom is specifically called out here. So with this infusion, you can blast a foe with your wood blast and have them be affected as if by your Spit Venom feat, which also carries all of the riders of your Virulent Venom and Hemorrhaging Venom feats (venom admixture specifically says “they are affected by the poison”, after all). Venom Admixture costs 2 burn, so its pretty easy to mitigate; you get infusion specialization at the level you earn it, after all, so that burn cost of 2 is actually a 1, so if you gather power as a move action you’re fine most times. Where this build gets crazy, however, is when you start to add in OTHER infusions to the mix. Specifically, Venom Infusion and Spore Infusion. Now, all three of these infusions (venom admixture, venom infusion, and spore infusion) are all substance infusions, so they can’t be stacked into a single kinetic blast. But if you play your cards well, you can cause some MAJOR disruption to an enemy over the course of several rounds. Let’s take a look:
- Opener: Gather Power + Kinetic Awe. Kinetic awe is basically Dazzling Display as a standard action, but if you gather power before during doing it you get to add half your kineticist level to your Intimidate check. Opening with this move is GREAT because shaken opponents take a -2 penalty to saves, and they’re ripe for exploiting with the Shatter Defenses feat.
- Option 1, Venom Admixture: This choice lets you mix your Spit Venom feat (or any one dose of venom you’re holding) into your infusion. Your foe will take -2 to their save if you managed to make them shaken with kinetic awe, and they’ll automatically take 5d6 acid damage if you hit due to Virulent Venom and you being level 12. If your foe fails their save against the infusion, your Spit Venom feat will give them the blinded condition, which means they’re denied Dexterity to AC and all attacks against them get +2 to hit. Hemorrhaging Venom also activates if your foe fails their save, causing them to take 2d6 bleed damage every round. In short, this is the option you use to deal max damage and to bolster your party’s Hit Chance.
- Option 2, Venom Infusion: This choice sickens your opponent on a failed save, which gives them -2 to basically all damage rolls. Your foe will take -2 to their save if you managed to make them shaken with kinetic awe. Humorously, venom infusion doesn’t say that its a poison effect, so this is the best infusion to use if your foe is immune to poison. It’s also very effective if you’re out of poison doses or Spit Venom uses to use with venom admixture, and it can be used as a set-up to make other infusions even more likely to land, as shaken and sickened stack their penalties.
- Option 3, Spore Infusion: This choice causes your foe to become infected by fungi that deal a small amount of damage every round for 1 minute before exposing the target to a disease that deals Dexterity damage each round. Additionally, if you attempt to hit a foe infected by the infusion’s disease with a wood blast, you get +2 to your attack roll, +2 to the blast’s save DC (if any), and +2 to caster level checks to overcome spell resistance. This makes spore infusion a VERY powerful debuff to land on foes that are hard to hit or have high saves, although as a player the chance of you actually getting to see the disease land is pretty small; few combats last for 1 minute or longer at this point in the game. That being said, it is the most reliable option for lowering a foe’s AC (your Venom Admixture’s blinded condition doesn’t do anything to foes with special senses like blindsight, after all) and since it is a disease effect, there will be times that this infusion will work when venom admixture doesn’t.
Before we wrap up for the article, let’s day dream about a combat where you somehow managed to get all three of these options active on a single foe. What happens? Well…
- You’ve hit them with three physical kinetic blasts; at 11th level, this is a TON of damage, plus 5d6 from Virulent Venom, 2d6 each round from Hemorraging Venom, and 1d6 each round from Spore Infusion.
- Your foe is blinded for 1d6 rounds (average of 3).
- Your foe is sickened from venom admixture; if you used kinetic awe, they might be shaken too. This in total is -4 to attack rolls and saves, -2 to ability checks, -2 to skill checks, and -2 to damage rolls.
- You gain +2 to attack rolls, save DCs, and caster level checks to overcome spell resistance against the target.
- If they were shaken, your Shatter Defenses feat rendered the target flat-footed against your attacks.
That, my friends, is a bad time.
It’s pretty crazy to see how debuff-heavy you can build a nagaji kineticist, isn’t it? This is a kineticist that is capable of putting out massive damage while also dwindling away their enemy’s strengths, making them easier to hit and nullifying a ton of their offensive and defensive potential. Obviously it is going to be rare that ALL of these options are in play at the same time, but its pretty rare to see a character who can do offense AND debuffing so well in the same build at the same time! Next week I’m planning on doing my second-ever installment of the Dev Pit, so I hope to see you there. After that I’m going to be continuing my kineticists of Tian Xia series; I still have samsarans, tengu, and wayangs left. Which do you want to see next? Leave a comment below or hop onto our Discord channel and tell me there. I’m looking forward to it.
This is Alexander Augunas, the Everyman Gamer, signing out!
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.