Hello, and welcome to Iconic Design! Recently I had the privilege of playing in Paizo Developer and Know Direction Staff Member Luis Loza’s Guns and Gears playtest, where Ryan Costello, Vanessa Hoskins, Randal Meyer, Vanessa, Perram, and myself tested the upcoming inventor and gunslinger classes with special guest and Paizo Design Team member James Case! It was a pretty cool episode that, Luis tells us, was the first piece of official Valiant expanded universe content, so if you’re a fan of Luis’s Actual Play podcast, Valiant, you should consider giving that Acutal Play game a watch here!
Now, most Know Direction fans know that I’m not crazy about building PF2 characters the way that I was with PF1 characters, or the way that I still am with Starfinder characters. I find that the list of stuff you have spell out is just REALLY long because of how interconnected everything is. As a result, I don’t do a ton of Iconic Designs for PF2, but I’m making an exception for this one even though it took me like two hours to type up all the options I took for my character. Why the exception? Well, today I’m sharing my build for my catfolk gunslinger, whom I played in the aforementioned episode of KD Plays. Intrigued? Check out the rest of my build below!
- Str 10; Dex 18; Con 12; Int 12; Wis 8; Cha 16
- 5th Level: Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom
- 10th Level: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Charisma
- 15th Level: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence Charisma
- 20th Level: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Charisma
- Clawed Catfolk
- Feats: Well-Met Traveler (1st), Light Paws (5th), Wary Skulker (9th), Springing Leaper (13th), Aggravated Scratch (17th)
- Ability Boosts: Dexterity, Free (Charisma)
- Feat: Specialty Crafting (1st)
- Gunslinger (Dual-Weapon Warrior)
- Features: Initial Deed (1st); Way of the Pistolero (1st); Stubborn (3rd); Gunslinger Weapon Mastery (5th); Vigilante Senses (7th); Weapon Specialization (7th); Advanced Deed (9th); Gunslinger Expertise (9th); Evasion (11th); Gunslinging Legend (13th); Light Armor Expertise (13th); Greater Deed (15th); Greater Weapon Specialization (15th); Juggernaut (17th); Shootist’s Edge (17th); Incredible Senses (19th); Light Armor Mastery (19th)
- Class Feats: Sword and Pistol (1st); Dual-Weapon Warrior Dedication (2nd); Double Slice (Bonus; Dual-Weapon Warrior Dedication); Dual Thrower (4th); Running Reload (6th); Flensing Slice (8th); Dual-Weapon Blitz (10th);Pistol Twirl (12th); Two-Weapon Flurry (14th); Fatal Bullet (16th); Showstopper (18th); Perfect Readiness (20th)
- General Feats: Toughness (3rd); Fleet (7th); Feather Step (11th); Expeditious Search (15th); True Perception (19th)
- Background Skills: Crafting, Engineering Lore
- Base Skills: Acrobatics (T), Crafting (T; Class), Deception (T; Class), Diplomacy (T; Well-Met Traveler), Engineering Lore (T; Background), Intimidation (T), Thievery (T; Background), Society (T), Stealth (T)
- Skill Increases: Acrobatics (E; 3rd), Deception (E; 5th), Survival (T; Int Increase), Acrobatics (M; 7th), Deception (M; 9th), Athletics (E; 11th), Athletics (M; 13th), Acrobatics (L; 15th), Deception (L; 17th), Athletics (L; 19th)
- Skill Feats: Hobnobber (Bonus; Well-Met Traveler), Specialty Crafting (Alchemy; Tinker), Cat Fall (1st), Subtle Thief (2nd), Terrain Stalker: Rubble (4th), Kip-Up (6th), Quiet Allies (8th), Intimidating Glare (10th), Quick Jump (12th), Powerful Leap (14th), Legendary Sneak (16th), Wall Jump (18th), Cloud Jump (20th)
We played our Guns and Gears playtest episode at Level 8, and just about everything I wrote in the guide above is something my character had at Level 8 with one exception—I swapped Dual-Weapon Reload, which I had in the playtest, for Running Reload, which James Case had in the playtest. I missed that this ranger feat was also available to gunslingers, and I’m kinda annoyed that I made this oversights because in hindsight, my character was a Claw-and-Pistol pistolero which means my one hand was always available to Interact with my weapon. As a result, Running Reload is (and would have been) much more useful. In the final fight of Luis’s adventure, Running Reload would have allowed my catfolk gunslinger to run towards the enemies who were on the catwalk above us while reloading at the same time, giving him a better chance to get into the fray and fight claw-and-gun.
One of the things you’ll notice is that I didn’t take many feats from the gunslinger class, especially at early levels. This was intentional because I like to be difficult, but also because a bunch of the early-level feats feel extremely niche to me. There’s definitely more of an emphasis on cinematic flare than actual fighting, which feels kind of weird to me because my zeitgeist for a gunslinger is someone who is lethal to a tee with guns. The gunslinger kind of doesn’t feel like it gets a whole lot of tools to deal damage, and as we demonstrated in KD Plays, the damage firearms—and by extension, gunslingers—do get is overwhelmingly the result of the mechanics of their favored weapons, specifically the deadly and fatal traits. My build is, as a result, mostly designed around the interplay between various gunslinger feats and dual weapon warrior archetype feats—for example, Dual Thrower may have “throw” in the name, but it works with any ranged weapon, and lets me use Double Slice to make a claw-and-pistol attack. This in turn plays off of the Sword and Pistol gunslinger feat, which gives me a benefit based on the order I attack with my weapons; if my melee attack is first, my gun doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity, and if my ranged attack is first, my foe is flat-footed against my melee attack. When I get Flensing Strike, my Double Slice does extra damage if both my attacks hit, and Pistol Twirl allows me to t0 Feint with my gun as a single action that, ideally, plays out like this: Pistol Twirl, foe is flat-footed against my gun. Double Slice, gun attack first, and if that hits Sword and Pistol makes my foe flat-footed against my melee attack. If both attacks hit, Flensing Slice deals extra damage.
Much of the rest of my build consists of what-if options, as well as some thematic skill feats based around jumping and sneaking (aka cat skills). Dual-Weapon Blitz is a two-action ability that works great if I, for example, want to run up to an enemy with running reload, then move again and attack twice. While it’s far from ideal, one of the nice things about my Dual Weapon Warrior focus is that technically nothing says I have to focus on Sword-and-Pistol. If I get two firearms, I can dual-wield guns and do all my tricks with those, or if my guns all misfire I can drop ’em and do all my tricks with my claws.
Overall, this is probably my favorite build that I’ve ever designed for PF2. The gunslinger’s options combined with the Advanced Players Guide are the first time I’ve really looked at the PF2 ruleset as a player and have gotten a taste of that character building glee that I love in Pathfinder 1E; there’s something inherently fun about seeing various options and combining them together to great effect. The gunslinger’s tool kit isn’t about slowly loosening facets on a heavily-restricted game mechanic the way the gunslinger class was in PF1 or the way that many classes in PF2 are designed. (I’m looking at you, bard.) It’s about good, clean, honest, Wild West fun and I really like the class for it. More of this, please!
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.