Welcome back to the Dev Pit, everyone!
A few weeks ago I started a series where I analyzed Pathfinder First Edition’s classes and gave some ideas on whether or not that class should be translated to Second Edition as a new class or as an archetype. The original post covered the “Advanced” Classes from the Advanced Class Guide and Advanced Player’s Guide, and last week I also covered the classes from the “Ultimate” books. This leaves only one major Paizo source—Occult Adventures! Originally I was going to continue my PF1 series on kineticists from Tian Xia, but considering we’re just three weeks away from PF2’s launch, my excitement is elsewhere. I REALLY want to look at the occult classes this week! Hope that’s okay with you. 😉
As before, these concepts are based on what I’ve seen of Pathfinder 2E at PaizoCon 2019 and what I’ve seen of the Pathfinder Playtest. Not all of this information may remain relevant once the Core Rulebook is released in August, but this should make for a fun article regardless. Ready? Let’s go!
So, the kineticist had a VERY vocal fan base despite its rather poor layout, and for that reason I think that the answer to the question, “How does the kineticist fit into PF2?” is pretty obvious. In my opinion, it’s not a matter of will we get kineticists as a base class in Pathfinder, it’s a question of when we will get them. The kineticist is insanely popular and is sort of the poster child for the fiddly sort of design that Paizo loves. As a result, I’m going to say strong “yes” to the kineticist as a base class. Part of my thinking is that several key telekineticist wild talents were in the Pathfinder Playtest in name—telekinetic haul and telekinetic maneuver being the two most memorable ones.
So, how will the kineticist work in Pathfinder 2? Personally, I think that we’ll see the kineticist as the first class built entirely around the innate spell mechanic. Part of me expects them to have focus spells, but part of me also thinks that they might eschew focus spells for the kineticist in favor of something closer to the PF1 burn mechanic. It’s all very tough to say at this point because when you get right down to it, the kineticist was Paizo’s most original class. Who knows what they’ll do with it when the time comes?
This is sort of a tricky one, because on one hand I can really see the medium making the cut as its own class in PF2. I think the trappings are all there. At the same time, since the class is basically built on channeling spirits in PF1, part of me also sees a future where instead of having a medium class, there are rituals for summoning spirits that anyone can cast. It’s certainly better for storytelling if the witch can enter in a bargain with a spirit and gain cool powers just as easily as a so-called medium. Of course, if this is how it ends up working it might just be that the medium becomes the master of rituals, their abilities tied not only to their connection with the other side but also with their ability to perform seances and rites and the like. Personally, I think this would be a much cooler direction for the class than we got, and it makes it all the more likely that we could see something that the beloved harrowed medium that was cut from the PF1 version of Occult Adventures. After all, it becomes easier to justify 54 pages of spirits if those spirits are for anyone, not just mediums!
I’ve never shyed away from saying that I don’t like the mesmerist class. It has a heavy emphasis on preplanning (which I don’t like) and most of its abilities paint the class as “for the evulz” in theme. Personally, the only reason I’m playing a mesmerist in a home game is because I wrote an archetype for it that changes the flavor to something I can swallow. (For those curious, my archetype is the material manipulator from Psychic Anthology.) That being said, I think that the mesmerist’s niche was too close to the bard’s in PF1, and now in PF2 the bard has completely taken it over. Why? At least in PF1, the mesmerist had its own spell list. In PF2, however, the bard is now an occult caster, which is presumably what the mesmerist would be. So what’s the difference?
Personally, I think that you could do the mesmerist fine if you take all of the stare abilities and make them composition cantrips. In the playtest the vast majority of composition cantrips involved singing or dancing, but in its own way hypnotic stare is a performance of its own. Mesmerist tricks could become special bard feats that allow you to invest occult power in foes before they can be used, and personally the whole, “Trigger the Trick” mechanic feels super bardy to me. Bards are beguilers and tricksters by nature, so reuniting the bard and mesmerist just makes sense. Plus really, do we REALLY need an evil iconic who is basically just Lem in a fez? I think we’ll live.
So, remember resonance? That mechanic everyone hated? That was based off of the occultist’s tool kit, mental focus. So while I personally think the, “I have cool items and I invest in them to use them,” mechanic is neat, my thinking is that Paizo might shy away from that concept as a class based upon general reaction to it in the playtest. If they do, where does that leave the occultist? I guess they’re a prepared occult spellcaster, kind of like the witch? But what about their spell school mechanic? Do we keep that? And does sharing the lists so blatantly help or hurt the game? A lot of what made the occultist the occultist, like 6th-level spellcasting, heavy emphasis on spell schools, and mental focus all seem to be things that Paizo has gotten rid of for one reason or another, and while I can see them recycled into a class that players have to opt into, my pessimistic side wonders if Paizo will ultimately allow the occultist to just languish in the past.
To me, psychic has the same problem as the oracle. What does it DO in a world where the sorcerer is a spontaneous spellcaster that can have any spell list? I guess the psychic could be a dedicated occult spellcaster whose spells were able to overcome some of the limitations of sorcerer spellcasting. Giving the psychic the ability to replace somantic and verbal components with thought and emotional components, allowing them to substitute material components with emotional value for the normally required components, and psychic feats that emphasize telekinesis, telepathy, and overcoming the limitations of mind-affecting magic are all pretty cool things. The disciplines are also all pretty cool thematically, but is the flavor of the psychic strong enough to make it feel distinct from the sorcerer?
Personally, I think it’s worth trying.
This class is a pretty easy “yes”; nothing else in the game gives you a ghost as your best friend. I think the spiritualist could work if built somewhat like the druid; you get to choose how your phantom manifests, and that could be as a body that can come and go from your mind as it pleases, or as one of the other cool archetypes that traded the phantom for other things. (Building a psychopomp spiritualist directly into the class seems pretty awesome to me.) I think one of the issues that the spiritualist had in PF1 was that it was kind of difficult to figure out what the class was supposed to do. It was a 6th-level spellcaster with a spell list that was like a weird mix between the cleric spell list and the psychic spell list, but lacked most of the buffs or offensive spells of either. I think putting the spiritualist onto the occult spell list would be a huge boon for the class, or perhaps the spiritualist wouldn’t be a spellcaster at all. Maybe they’d get a bunch of innate spells and some focus spells that got the job done. That actually might be pretty cool, giving the spiritualist a feel of, “I’m an ordinary dude who just happens to have a ghost best friend” unless you choose to take feats or multiclass archetypes for actual spells.
And there you go! If I was in charge of porting all of PF1’s classes to PF2, you now know how I’d do it. This crop was definitely the most difficult because while most have unique mechanics, their ability to be directly ported to PF2 seems spotty in some cases. I definitely expect some of the classes to undergo big changes should the decision to port them over be made. Next week I’m going to finish up my kineticists of Tian Xia series with a samsaran build, then do that Dev Pit article on character roles and how your design is affected by them.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time in the Dev Pit!
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.
Creative Commons Credit: Violation of a Human Mind by WarbringerVI