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Pathfinder - The Kineticist Handbook

Last Updated: August 24th, 2017

Disclaimer

I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.

Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.

Introduction

So you watched Avatar: The Last Airbender (not the Michael Bay movie; we don't talk about that thing in polite company), and now you want to play a "bender". Enter the Kineticist, and bizarre magic-based class with no spellcasting. Kineticists spend much of their time in combat using a "blast" which is reminiscent of the 3.5 Warlock's Eldritch Blast, especially considering the way Infusions work. Beyond just blasting, the Kineticist's utility talents offer numerous useful options which you would normally get from spells. While these options in no way compete with a full spellcaster, they are still very interesting.

The Kineticist's role is difficult to determine. It's clearly a Striker. With the right choice of element and talents, it's also a Blaster. With a bit of effort it can fill any other role, but it doesn't have the focus to fill any of those roles fully on its own. Kineticists can't replace a full caster in terms of Utility. They aren't durable enough to serve as a Defender. They're not stealthy enough to be a Scout. Expect to supplement gaps in the capabilities provide by the class using Traits to get better class skills and magic items to fill gaps in your magic abilities. Even if you manage to expand your own capabilities this way, it's unclear what role the Kineticist takes in a party. They can't replace any of the four classic classes, and they have no supportive abilities to function as a "fifth man".

Kineticist Class Features

Hit Points: Good for a caster-style character, and with a dependence on Constituition .

Base Attack Bonus: 2/3 BAB may make it difficult to hit reliably with your blasts, but fortunately you don't need to worry about iterative attacks.

Saves: Two good saves, dependent on Constitution, and two dump stats to free up points to spend on your Wisdom.

Proficiencies: Simple weapons and light armor. Kineticists rely almost exclusively on "blasts" to deal damage, so your weapon proficiencies matter very little. Since you don't need to worry about arcane spell failure, consider multiclassing or spending feats to get better armor. However, avoid using shields (except bucklers), as it interferes with Gather Power.

Skills: 4+ skill ranks, but the Kineticist's skill list is disjointed, confusing, and lacks any clear purpose. Remember that your choice of Elemental Focus grants you two additional class skills, but even then it's totally unclear how a Kineticist is intended to spend their skills.

Elemental Focus (su): I'm really impressed with the design on Elemental Focus. Every element has a distinct flavor, and the available talents do a good job of distinguishing each element from the others. While each element has strengths and weaknesses, I don't think any of them are notably better or worse than the others, which is a rare statement in Pathfinder. Typically there would be at least one clearly poor option and one clearly excellent one, but that isn't the case here.

Wild Talents: See my Wild Talents Breakdown.

Burn (Ex): The biggest cap on the Kineticist's more powerful abilities. You will need to very carefully manage Burn throughout the day. Be sure to retain enough Burn capacity to use your biggest abilities in a pinch. Gather Power and Infusion Specialization will make managing your Burn a bit confusing later since you'll be constantly recalculating Burn costs, but they'll also let you use costly effects more often. The cap is 3+Con, so assuming an average roll of 4.5 hit points per level you're left with 1.5 hp per level while at full burn. As a side-effect, with so much nonlethal damage you'll frequently find yourself enjoying the relative safety of unconciousness rather than dropping into negative hit points and bleeding to death on the dungeon floor like your friends and that idiot who took Diehard.

Kinetic Blast (Sp): This is your default attack mechanism. If you're ever uncertain about how to spend your turn, spend it doing damage. The scaling is decent, especially considering you can use your blasts without limit. Your choices of blasts are extremely limited. You get one a 1st level, and you don't get another until 7th level. For help selecting your kinetic blast, see my Wild Talents Breakdown: Kinetic Blasts. Keep in mind that these are regular ranged attacks, not ranged touch attacks. I also want to point out that the text of this ability is very meticulously written, thereby preventing all sorts of ridiculous rules discussions. Well done, Paizo.

Gather Power (Su): This only works for blasts, but it can still open up some wonderful options that would otherwise be prohibitively costly. If you don't need to move, you could do much worse in a turn than gathering power as a move action and blasting as a standard action, especially when you start getting costly infusions.

Infusion (Su): Infusions are what makes your blasts interesting. Without infusions, your blasts are just plain damage. And while plain damage is fine, it's also not very exciting. For help selecting your Infusions, see my Wild Talents Breakdown: Infusions.

Elemental Defense (Su): The defense talents are mixed bag, but some of them are excellent. For help selecting your Elemental Defense, see my Wild Talents Breakdown: Defense Wild Talents.

Elemental Overflow (Ex): An excellent incentive to accept some Burn early in the day, the size bonuses can go into your Dexterity and your Constitution to boost your Defenses. Strength is basically useless to you, so the choice is easy. You also get bonuses to attack rolls and damage with your blasts. To recap: better saves, better AC, better attacks, better damage, and a scaling Fortification effect.

Infusion Specialization (Ex): This allows you to use gradually more powerful Infusions at no Burn cost, giving your blasts a nice scale in effectiveness without increasing their cost. Combine this with Gather Power when possible.

Metakinesis (Su): Extremely powerful and versatile. Using Gather Power as a move action will offset the Empower option's Burn cost, which makes it an easy go-to option.

Internal Buffer (Su): A small reservoir of functionally free Burn. Fill it before you rest for the night. Of course, this may also encourage you to adventure every other day so that you have time to charge your bugger without risk.

Expanded Element (Su): Choosing extra elements allows a huge amount of utility which the Kineticist sorely needs. Locking yourself into a single element means that any time you meet a resistance you're largely out of luck. Adding a second element, even if it's weaker than your primary, means that you have reliable backup options. Remember that diversity is key to overcoming the rock-paper-scissors game of resistances. Selecting your own element to enhance it locks you into a single damage type, severely limiting your ability to overcome resistances, and the bonus for selecting your element twice is truly pitiful.

Supercharge (Su): Gather Power gets even better. This makes composite blasts functionally free, and combined with Infusion Specialization you can achieve some exciting effects at little or no cost.

Composite Specialization (Su): Composite blasts cost 2 Burn before considering Infusions, so any reduction is welcome.

Metakinetic Master (Su): It's hard to know which option to pick, but Empower for free on every blast you ever do isn't a poor choice.

Omnikinesis (Su): The cost is too high to use this frequently.

Abilities

The Kineticist needs Constitution almost exclusively, though Dexterity is important both for your AC and for your Form Infusion DC's.

Str: Dump to 7. Several talents allow you to perform Strength-based things with your Constitution score instead.

Dex: AC, Reflex saves, and Form Infusion DC's.

Con: Perhaps wholly unique in this aspect, the Kineticist's primary ability score is Constitution. It expands how much Burn you can take, sets the DC of your talents, and even affects your blast damage.

Int: Dump to 8. All you need is skill ranks, and the Kineticist's skill list is garbage.

Wis: Get some for your garbage Will saves.

Cha: Dump to 7.

25 Point Buy 20 Point Buy 15 Point Buy Elite Array
  • Str: 7
  • Dex: 16
  • Con: 18
  • Int: 11
  • Wis: 14
  • Cha: 7
  • Str: 7
  • Dex: 16
  • Con: 18
  • Int: 10
  • Wis: 11
  • Cha: 7
  • Str: 7
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 18
  • Int: 10
  • Wis: 11
  • Cha: 7
  • Str: 10
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 15
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 13
  • Cha: 8

Races

A Constitution bonus is huge for a Kineticist. Since they don't typically weapons, small size is also helpful both offensively and defensively. Most races' favored class bonuses are terrible, so expect to spend your favored class bonus padding your hit points so that you can survive all of the Burn you'll be taking.

Dwarf: Bonuses to Constitution and Wisdom mean you're getting the crucial Constitution bonus and a bonus to your worst save. The favored class bonus adds a tiny bit of damage to your earth blasts, but the damage scales too slowly to make a big difference.

Elf: The Constitution penalty is prohibitive. If you can get past that hurdle, such as by taking the Overwhelming Soul archetype, Elves have some tempting options. +2 to spell penetration checks is very helpful since Spell Resistance is a huge problem for Kineticists, and the favored class bonus applies to any blast so you're not pigeon-holed into one element by your race.

Gnome: Bonus to Constitution and small size, so you're great at your talents, you can absorb more Burn, and you get a bonus on attacks and to AC. The alternate racial traits offer access to some useful cantrips which supplement the Kineticist's own abilities. Unfortunately the favored class bonus is awful.

Half-Elf: Several of the best parts of Elves without the Constitution penalty. Drop Adaptability for the Dual-minded alternate racial trait to compensate for the Kineticist's poor Will saves. The favored class bonus is the same as the Elf's, allowing you to add a small bonus to any of your blasts.

Half-Orc: The flexible ability score bonus is nice, but that's really all that the Half-Orc has to offer.

Halfling: Small size and a Dexterity bonus will make your blasts accurate, but the halfling doesn't have much to offer otherwise. The extra Internal Buffer is tempting, but you don't get enough for it to be a big benefit. If you take the Overwhelming Soul archetype, the halfling shoots up to blue because you get bonuses to both of your important ability scores and a penalty to your dump stat.

Human: A flexible ability bonus and a feat are always a big deal. On top of that, the favored class bonus gets you extra talents.

Traits

Kineticists are sorely lacking in useful class skills, so I strongly suggest using your traits to get some. What you select is largely up to you, since the class's skill list is so unfocused. Here are some other notable options:

Skills

Your choice of Elemental Focus also adds two class skills. This section only covers the standard Kineticists skill list.

Feats

Weapons

Kineticists have essentially no use for weapons. Blast will exclipse your weapon damage almost immediately, and even melee kineticists depend on their blast for damage.

Armor

Armor is presented in the order in which you should acquire it, rather than alphabetical order.

Permanent Spells