Master Class, Hybrid Classes (Part 3)

Master Class are posts where I talk a bit about design choices, how I make them, and what guides these decisions. They’ll likely be pretty rare.

Building the Bombardier (Hybrid Alchemist/Gunslinger), Part Three

So in the first two parts of the Hybrid Classes entries in Master Class, I went over picking classes to combine, deciding their base statistics (skill points, proficiencies, hit dice, base attack bonus, and base save bonuses), and assigning carryover abilities taken from the two parent classes. That gives us a sketch of a hybrid class, but it’s still just a sketch. In essence, our bombardier is currently just a collection of existing class features shuffled together. That can be a fun way to make a new class (and is the basis for the QuickBaseClasses I’ve written 11 or so far), but it falls short of the design of a hybrid class, which has to add some new ability neither parent class has.

So, clearly with the bombardier we need some way to make bombs and guns work together. To do that, we need a good feel for how they both work. Guns are actually pretty easy, since they’re at their core just ranged weapons with some misfire rules and ranged touch attack rules. Bombs are slightly more complicated, as a class feature only alchemists use. But at their core they are specialized thrown splash weapons. That’s interesting, because that means in your first range increment, both your bombs and firearms act as ranged touch attacks. That immediately lends itself to a way to combine these in a meaningful ability for bombardiers.


Bombard (Ex): As a standard action you can infuse the power of a bomb into the ammunition of your firearm, making a combined bomb-and-firearm attack with a ranged attack from a firearm you are proficient with. This is treated as a ranged touch attack, using the firearm’s range increment. A hit acts as a direct hit with you bomb, dealing splash damage normally. A miss scatters using the same rules as for a thrown splash weapon. If the target is within your firearm’s first range increment, the target also takes damage from your firearm. You both load your firearm and infuse it with bomb damage as part of the standard action to make this attack. This counts as one daily use of your bombs class feature. You can apply bomb specializations to your bombard attack as if it was a normal bomb attack.

If you have the Fast Bombs specialization, you can infuse ranged attacks from firearms with bombs as quickly as you can load and fire the firearms. In this case the bombard attack does not automatically load the firearms, but every firearm attack you make can include a bomb infusion.


Assuming we keep the ability to make extracts (which is currently included in our class sketch, but might prove too much as full power for our firearm-wielding character) it’s easy to see how we could also use firearms to deliver extract effects. That would require something like the arcane archer PrC’s imbue arrow ability. Since we want to maintain balance, we should place that at a level comparable to when a character taking arcane archer could get it, and use similar language to make it clear it works in a similar way. However, imbue arrow is about area spells, and alchemy is about individually targeted magic, so we’d need to adjust.


Imbue Firearm (Su): At 7th level, a bombardier gains the ability to place an extract that had one or more defined targets into a firearm attack. When the firearm is fired, the spell targets the creature hit by the firearm attack, even if this is normally outside the extracts normal range. Extracts with a personal range cannot be imbued in this way. This ability allows the bombardier to use the firearm’s range rather than the extract’s range. An extract used in this way uses its standard casting time and the bombardier can load and fire the firearm as part of the casting. The firearm must be fired during the round that the casting is completed or the extract is wasted. If the firearm misses, the extract is wasted.


Looks solid, right? But… look at the alchemist’s list of extracts. Most of them that qualify are either healing or buffing spells. As written, this becomes the ranged-healing-and-augmenting ability… with firearm damage attached. That’s a potentially cool idea… but does it really fit with our bombardier?

This is one of those moments that raises its head occasionally during any class design. We have a cool idea, but it may or may not fit with the theme we are building on. We need to decide; do we keep imbue firearm (and tweak it and our class theme to fit)? Or do we set that idea aside, perhaps saving it for an archetype, and move on with things that have a more bombard feel to them?

What do you folks think?

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About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on October 17, 2016, in Game Design, Pathfinder Development and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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