Investing In: Guns & Gears

Guns & Gears introduces elements of fantasy that might not fit into every game. The world of Golarion has a lot in common with the Renaissance period of Earth, supplemented with magic and old-fashioned technologies that were replaced on Earth before being refined to the point they’ve reached in Golarion. This high fantasy world is home to pirates with bandoliers of flintlock pistols, reckless scientists animating the dead with electric coils, knights in shining armor riding mighty griffons, and wizards casting spells in tall towers. Each of those character concepts has a place in Golarion; it’s just that to find some of the technological elements, you need to know where to look.1

I always tend toward the magical. I want high fantasy, castles in the woods, dangerous wizards, enchanting sorcerers, mischievous fae… However, the world is an evolving thing and so too are the elements at work in such a world. Diversity is important and with so many peoples, places, cultures there’s bound to also be something beyond the magical at work in these societies. In fact, Golarion has a number of them at play in its history and its future, why just look at Starfinder! But I do like the inventive elements beyond the alchemical, and then gunslinging (shout out to blending magic and guns in Valiant) can really punctuate a combat with excitement. Steampunk, old westerns, and other styles have their place in Pathfinder and now with Guns & Gears your Pathfinder 2E game too!

Michael Sayre and Mark Seifter – along with a number of additional authors, leads, editors, designers, and artists like Wayne Reynolds who brought us yet another beautiful cover – have brought we GMs and players a number of wonderful options for our game, while also adding a great deal of lore and possibility to Golarion and the Age of Lost Omens. I’ll get more into that delicious lore next time, but for now I wanted to highlight what excites me of the core offerings of this book including the idea you can use the Gears, the Guns, or both! The introduction isn’t just a single page of welcome, thanks, and hype. Oh no. I saw that world-building and tone title on page five jump out at me but it’s really the entirety of that Introduction that speaks volumes for how they approached this book, creating three books within a book so you can choose just what options, ideas, elements, themes you really want to bring to your game. That last chapter is again to speak of next time, but the other two? That’s the Gears of the inventor and automaton or the Guns of well, the Gunslinger! How will you balance guns in your game or even your world if not playing in Golarion? The developers have some info for you. What about Numeria’s advanced tech when compared to that of Gears? There’s a nice sidebar (mmm delicious sidebars of lore) on that! 

It’s great to see the Inventor class because of the innovative options, but also Fumbus’ friend Droven – our Iconic Inventor – has been located. I’m sure we’ll see some blog content from Droven’s perspective soon. Driven’s detailed with the construct innovation, which is also what playtest Inventor my friend has been playing in our Expedition game. Each of the innovation types got a few more options than the playtest and that’s exciting for versatility but also to see all the different Inventors we’ll see over time. Specifically, seeing antimagic for armor or constructs shows the defensive idea you can bring. You choose either Power or Subterfuge for your armor, which is a nice addition. Constructs get more configurable options too, but I’m really excited for the Miracle Gears breakthrough for constructs. It wasn’t in the playtest but now you can make your construct far more intelligent, building on top of the marvelous gears option. I think what excites me there is because of the Automaton ancestry – and all that is tied to it – that’s now provided as a Gears Characters option too.

Automatons are beyond the innovative; there’s magic there as well. Their cores are their souls and their constructed bodies are driven by life energy instead of blood. For those familiar with D&D and Eberron, there’s a Warforged feel. I certainly love the idea of the Warforged for Eberron and am glad to see another option similar to Android from the Ancestry Guide, but with a construct feel (and the actual trait). The lore about the Jistka Imperium very much excites me, and something I’m already weaving into my Expedition game, but more lore next time! For Automatons however they are used in your game or game world, their bodies and perhaps their cores were chosen/built/summoned to serve in one four roles at least for now until more heritages exist: Hunter, Mage, Sharpshooter, Warrior. That gives you some pretty clear direction if you’re crafting up an Automaton character. Get it? Crafting? Anyway, the art is truly inspiring too. Where androids tend toward the humanoid (especially due to that far advanced technology), the Automatons clearly look artificial in nature. I really want to see a party with a character of each ancestry and how they interact. Some amazing roleplaying opportunity there. The ancestry feats fit into some of those roles related to the heritages, but also can represent they are simply constructed bodies or their core are born from energies beyond this plane of existence. There’s a feat to represent even growing your body to a larger Automaton form. Your core could move to another body. What happens to that old body? Many story options available even with those feat choices.

I imagine a fair number of Automatons that want to be Gunslingers would choose that Sharpshooter heritage so they have that precision of aim from the Automaton Aim action. However our iconic Gunslinger Nhalmika comes from another ancestry I’d expect to enjoy uise of black powder weapons. This dwarf recently got the Meet the Iconics treatment on the Paizo blog. Her tale is empowering and touched by sad romance, but her grit is well noted. The gunslinger is from that Guns book, only to be included if the GM and players agree, but if so there’s a tremendous number of options through the main class or the various archetypes. The class makes for a nimble but still tough combatant. The Way of the Vanguard that was added to the Gunslinger and that’s Nhalmika’s way I’m pretty sure based on that blog entry! They’re all about large firearms and explosive openings for your allies while practicing some defensive maneuvers as well. It’s a good addition compared to the three previously given and the numerous gunslinger feats give many other options. While grit may not be a class feature, there are two feats still similar to the playtest’s details.

I’m particularly a fan of the archetype for the Beast Gunner, which has an excellent two-page treatment. The write up starts with lore from Golarion and how crafting these beast guns is a 10,000 year old art from Arcadia. The art (shown below) is exciting and maybe it’s just I love all things Arcadia (hello again Valiant), but the Spellslinging of the beast gun is a huge draw. Here’s your choice to learn a firearm and blend some magic. How you form the lore for this archetype is up to you of course as the mechanics provide you that way of blending magic and firearms, but the lore of the rituals detailed to hunt down a beast and bond with it as you craft up your weapon is pretty interesting. Again, some understanding of the greater world and what magic truly the dedication feat teaches you a bit of primal or arcane magic. The archetype reminds me of the Halcyon Speakers and the enchanted masks of the Magaambyans. The Controlled Bullet feat is a later game feat at level sixteen but it reminds me heavily of Yondu’s ability to control his projectile. 

All that aside, I’m glad to see Arcadia’s ancient traditions represented in a book that otherwise might seem about new technologies and an industrial progress compared to the rest of Golarion. The automaton seems new, but it’s also an ancestry born from an ancient and lost civilization. Again, I want to delve deeply into lore in my next article as I hyped my immediate reactions for Guns & Gears now that I have it in hand. However, with all recent discussions I’m excited to see and hear more. There’s growth and change ahead for Golarion, reflected in this very book, and I hope that maturation, that evolution of how we think, build, and work together continues in the real world too. We’ll learn from the past and forge some amazing new adventures into the future together!

Investing In:

I wasn’t quite sure what to name my article series when I first started but the idea of showcasing or discussing things that make me excited, that I find new and interesting, or maybe I’m otherwise passionate about seemed to fit with the idea of Investing In something like the Pathfinder 2E mechanic. To use some magic items you have to give that little bit of yourself, which helps make these things even better. I like the metaphor of the community growing and being strengthened in the same way!

I also want to hear what you’re Investing In! Leave me a comment below about what games, modules, systems, products, people, live streams, etc you enjoy! You can also hit me up on social media as silentinfinity. I want to hear what excites you and what you’re passionate about. There’s so much wonderful content, people, groups (I could go on) in this community of ours that the more we invest in and share, the better it becomes!


Banner Guns & Gears cover art, Paizo, Wayne Reynolds

  1. World-Building and Tone excerpt from Introduction, Guns & Gears, Paizo
  2. Banner from Introduction, Guns & Gears, Paizo
  3. Droven Iconic Inventor, Inventor section, Guns & Gears, Paizo
  4. Mage Automaton, Automaton section, Guns & Gears, Paizo
  5. Nhalmika Ironsight Iconic Gunslinger, Gunslinger section and Paizo blog, Guns & Gears, Paizo
  6. Beast Gunner, Archetypes in Guns Characters chapter, Guns & Gears, Paizo

Rob Pontious

You may know Rob Pontious from Order of the Amber Die or Gehenna Gaming's first series of Monster Hearts 2. He currently writes Know Direction's Investing In blog as well as a player for the Valiant podcast and Roll for Combat's Three Ring Adventure. He's been a lover of TTRPGs for over three decades, as a gamer, and a GAYMER. You can find him on social media as @silentinfinity.