Last Updated: September 27, 2023
The Automaton offers a lot of novel, exciting mechanical options not available to other Ancestries. The Automaton is one of very few playable constructs, though Automaton Core makes that less impactful. Automatons get access to excellent feat options which offer things like permanent flight, innate spellcasting up to 6th level spells, and a few other exciting options to cater to specific builds. The Enhancement mechanic offers ways to further improve your Ancestry Feats, making low-level feats feel fresh and new again at higher levels. However, the quality of options varies significantly, and many exciting options are gated behind Heritage or Feat options which are too weak to justify the cost.
The Enhancement mechanic is central to the Automaton’s Ancestry Feats. You will get at most two Enhancements at levels 9 and 17, so your choices of feats to enhance are precious and impactful. With Ancestry Feats at levels 1, 5, 9, 13, and 17, and two feats sunk into getting enhancements, you’ll be able to enhance just two of your three other Ancestry Feats. Weigh those choices carefully; the benefit of doing so should be equivalent to a 9th-level or 17th-level Ancestry Feat.
It’s not clear if you can combine the Automaton Ancestry with a Versatile Heritage. It’s hard to be born of a hag mother or have demonic ancestry when you’re a robot. Your GM might allow it with a good story explanation. You’re a magical robot with a magically chocolate center. Maybe the magic is hag magic. Maybe the magic is demon magic. Maybe the magic is psycho-pomp magic. Suddenly, you’re a Versatile Heritage Robot. Regardless, the Automaton has plenty of interesting feat options, especially when you consider the Enhancement mechanic.
Table of Contents
- Automaton Ancestry Traits
- Automaton Heritages
- Automaton Ancestry Feats
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
Automaton Ancestry Traits
- : 8 is standard.
- : Your choice of medium or small. Medium and small size have few functional differences in Pathfinder 2e.
- : 25 feet is standard. Hunter Automatons can increase their speed to 30 feet while they have both hands free.
- : Only two Boosts. Strength is only useful for Strength-based builds, but there’s no reason not to use the Alternate Ability Boosts optional rule to take two Free Boosts instead.
- : Ancestry language plus Common is standard.
- : Low-light vision.
- : You are a construct rather than a humanoid, which is interesting but barely impactful thanks to Automaton Core. Effects which only target humanoids are exceptionally rare in PF2, especially since spells like “Hold Person” from previous editions no longer exist.
- : No need for food or water, and you’re really good at keeping watch while your party sleeps.
- Hunter AutomatonGG: Most characters need to use their hands for gear in any situation where 5
feet of speed would matter, so this is a hard choice for many builds.
Classes like the Monk and full casters like Sorcerers and Wizards may be
able to use this reliably. If you want a more reliable speed increase, take
Hunters get access to Arcane Camouflage, providing options both for stealth and for a magical defensive buff. It’s good, but I’m not sure if it’s worth both your Heritage and a feat.
- Mage AutomatonGG: Arcane cantrips are excellent. If you’re built as a Charisma-based
spellcaster (oracle, sorcerer, etc.), you can use an offensive cantrip.
Otherwise, stick to things that don’t require an attack or a save: staple
options include Guidance and Shield.
Beyond the cantrip, Mage Automaton gets access to Core Attunement. Between the Heritage and the Feat, you get to pick a cantrip, a 1st-level spell, and a 2nd-level spell, all from the Arcane spell list. If you add the Enhancement, you get to add a 5th-level spell and a 6th-level spell. In total, you can get quite a bit of innate spellcasting with the unique ability to pick every spell.
- Sharpshooter AutomatonGG: You want to avoid relying on this as much as possible because the Action cost is steep. Offsetting a -2 or -4 penalty is a huge difference, so if you’re using a short-ranged weapon this can be very helpful, but you need to ask yourself if you want to pay a consistent Action cost or if you just want to change weapons.
- Warrior AutomatonGG: A modest damage increase, but no weapon traits. If you want a good unarmed strike, take Automaton Armament. This Heritage gets you access to Arcane Slam, which is a great addition for grappling enthusiasts, but the Heritage on its own is disappointing.
Automaton Ancestry Feats
- Arcane CommunicationGG: Only situationally useful. Since this still requires you to share a
language, it’s only useful for communicating silently, such as while
- : 10-foot range is not a significant distance. Learn to cast the spell Telepathy.
- Arcane EyeGG: Darkvision is really good.
- : A built-in counter for invisible creatures. Other options like actually casting See Invisibility are likely easier and less costly.
- Automaton ArmamentGG: Both attacks are fairly standard for an Ancestry-based natural weapon.
- : The ability to further improve the damage die size with the Enhancement trait puts Automaton Armament slightly ahead of other Ancestry-specific unarmed strikes, but compared to other Enhancement options, a damage die increase is not as impactful.
- Automaton LoreGG: Two excellent Intelligence-based skills. A great choice for characters
like Alchemists and Wizards.
- : The improved proficiency from the Enhancement is tempting, but it’s two Skill Increases at the cost of one of your most powerful and iconic ancestry options. It’s just not worth the cost.
- Energy BeamGG: Unarmed strike builds typically don’t have a way to attack at range, so
this is a welcome option despite the small damage die.
- : A tiny bit more damage from each of your beam attacks. Consistently effective, but, unless you’re using the ray constantly, this isn’t worth the feat cost.
- Reinforced ChassisGG: A built-in Breastplate. You will be able to afford a real Breastplate
very early in your career, making the main function of this feat obsolete.
- : This only works 20% of the time. It’s worth considering if you are your party’s Defender, but two feats (Reinforced Chassis and Lesser Augmentation) for a Reaction which is unpredictably useful and then only works 1 in 5 times is costly, ineffective, and unsatisfying.
- Arcane SafeguardsGG: An easy +1 save bonus against magical effects, plus better saves against
Arcane effects. This will see consistent use.
- : Since the temporary hit points don’t have an explicit expiration time, you could target yourself with a minimally harmful spell to get yourself temporary hit points between encounters.
- Integrated ArmamentGG: Novel, but not especially useful.
- : The ability to draw two weapons or a weapon and a shield using a single Interact Action can be very helpful if you go into combat without your gear in your hands, but that’s not going to happen consistently enough that this feat is worthwhile.
- Magical ResistanceGG: Damage resistance is great. Cold is common, Electricity is uncommon, and
Sonic is extremely rare, so choose your resistance accordingly.
- : I recommend getting the additional resistances. 5 is enough to mostly negate sources of persistent damage, and the modest improvement to your resistance if you choose to improve your existing resistance won’t make a big difference.
- Arcane CamouflageGG: Great innate spell options. Unfortunately, this is only available to
- : Improve the spells and cast both twice per day. Excellent.
- Arcane PropulsionGG: Flight is fantastic, and at high levels it’s tactically essential. If you
don’t have a better way to get flight, this is a great choice.
- : Permanent flight! Absolutely fantastic.
- Arcane SlamGG: If you like to Grab+Shove opponents (helpful for making them Flat-footed
and keeping them that way), this adds a bit of extra damage to that combo.
This notably doesn’t have the Attack trait, so it doesn’t care about
Multiple Attack Penalty, but it does take two Actions compared to one Action
- : A bit more damage and it’s easier to slam larger foes. Grappling larger foes is hard, and mitigating that issue is helpful. But Enlarged Chassis may be sufficient to address the size issue.
- Core AttunementGG: Extremely flexible. Getting to pick your own spells makes this an easy
go-to option even if you’re not a Charisma-based caster.
- : Innate spells of this high level is unheard of. Even Kobolds with Elite Dracomancer only go up to 4th-level spells, and they pick from a very limited list of options. You get the whole Arcane spell list.
- Lesser AugmentationGG: Essential for unlocking the Enhancement portion of your lower-level
- : You’ll need to take Greater Augmentation to get the Enhancement here, and it gets you another Enhancement for a 1st-level or 5th-level feat plus the ability to retrain your Enhancements in one day rather than one week. Keep in mind that you’ll likely have just 3 other Ancestry Feats (four if you take Ancestral Paragon), so the ability to retrain your Enhancements quickly won’t significantly increase the number of options available to you. Knowing that, the ability to retrain quickly isn’t all that impactful.
- Rain of BoltsGG: Decent area damage, decent scaling, and weirdly it doesn’t allow a save,
but it’s also only once per day until you get the Enhancement.
Unfortunately, the range is tiny and this is only available to the
Sharpshooter Automaton Heritage, so the most likely use case is when you’re
forced into close quarters and using your ranged weapon is too dangerous.
- : A big boost to the damage and reducing the cooldown to one hour means that this can be a staple part of your combat tactics rather than a once-per-day burst.
- Arcane LocomotionGG: Helpful, but by this level you have abundant options for climb/swim
speeds. Arcane Propulsion also lets you fly, which makes the climb speed feel
pointless. By this level you have easy access to spells and items which will
grant you climb/swim speeds.
- : More speed doesn’t address the issue that this is even more replaceable by the time that you can get the Enhancement.
- Astral BlinkGG: A 4th-level spell once per hour may be very useful. Teleportation is a
great way to bypass many obstacles.
- : Neat, but if you’re relying on hit-and-run tactics which would benefit from the teleportation, you need to solve that problem in a way that works more than one turn once per hour.
- Core RejuvenationGG: Fantastic for front-line characters who are likely to fall to 0 hit
points. Strongly consider taking Die Hard so that becoming Wounded is less
threatening, especially when your 1 hit point isn’t enough to handle the next
hit you take.
- : This may be enough temporary hp to get you through another hit or two, but be careful about over-investing in options which only function when you fall unconscious.
- Enlarged ChassisGG: Being Large is a significant buff for a Defender, allowing you to occupy
more space, extend your reach and therefore make Attacks of Opportunity more
often, and Grab/Shove larger enemies.
- : Clumsy 1 is a mild annoyance, but it might not be enough of a problem to justify taking the Enhancement for Enlarged Chassis to get rid of it.
- Axial RecallGG: Very situational, and by this level your party likely has access to the spell Plane Shift.
- Core CannonGG: Very exciting, but very hard to build into your tactics. It only works once per day, so you can’t make this a central tactical option. You need to build to fight with unarmed strikes for this to be as effective as possible, and that almost certainly means that you and your party both expect you to be in melee. Turning into a ranged-only, immobile canon really shakes up your party’s tactical assumptions in a way that your party may find unhelpful.
- Greater AugmentationGG: The enhancements for 9th-level and 13th-level feats are excellent. If you want to enhance a second 1st-level or 5th-level feat, choose to use Greater Augmentation to enhance Lesser Augmentation so that you get the additional benefit of being able to change enhancements with a single day of downtime rather than a week.