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I received an invitation to join a D&D 3.5 campaign, but I'd like to play a character like a kineticist from Pathfinder. What class or combination of classes should my PC have so as to approximate that other game's class?

Players are only allowed to use the Player's Handbook and one other book.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you ever played a kineticist or did you just read the class? I'm asking because the class is a trap option, so if you just read it 'like a kineticist' means an always-on blasty elementalist mage while if you've played it I expect 'like a kineticist' means a trap option you can carefully negotiate into a workable mid-power class. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Apr 28 '18 at 19:50
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While a warlock is pretty close, I think 3.5’s other “invoker” might be better for the heavily-elemental kineticist: Dragon Magic’s dragonfire adept.

Like the warlock, the dragonfire adept gets a scaling blast, and a number of magical abilities, called invocations, that can be used at will.

Unlike the warlock, which has a fey or fiendish theme and only some elemental options, the dragonfire adept is dragon-themed and so gets quite a lot of elemental options. That makes it somewhat closer than the warlock.

Your two books in this case would be Player’s Handbook and Dragon Magic, which kind of works out because there dragonfire adept didn't get a lot of support outside those anyway. A warlock might badly miss the lack of Complete Mage and Dragon Magic. Even so, that is an atrocious rule that is a serious red flag that the DM here does not know 3.5e well at all—I recommend a second thought there.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It sounds like they're back-porting D&D 5e Adventurers League's PHB+1 rule, without taking into account how enormously spread out D&D 3.5e material is compared to D&D 5e. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 27 '18 at 17:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener And it’s still a pretty bad rule in 5e, even if stuff is more contained and it’s less necessary. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 27 '18 at 17:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Given how famously bad the kineticist is, both of your suggestions seem far too effective to be the closest 3.5 has to offer. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 27 '18 at 22:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman Actually, eh. Played well (which is not the way it's described), warlock and dragonfire adept are probably pretty similar. Played as described, though, and the only thing in 3.5 that's comparable is truenamer, you're right. (Though, to be fair to Paizo, not even the kineticist is as bad as the truenamer, even if they're in a similar league.) \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 27 '18 at 23:09
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One possibility for recreating the feel of the Kineticist in 3.5 is...the Kineticist!

This version of the Kineticist is a Psionic prestige class focused on channeling elemental energy into various attacks. It's 3.0 content, which might or might not be an issue - 3.0 content is typically allowed in 3.5 as long as it hasn't received an updated 3.5 version. As a DM, I would rule that this version of Kineticist is 3.5-legal, but KRyan has pointed out in the comments the (not unreasonable) possibility that it is superseded by the Kineticist discipline of the Psion class, or perhaps the Pyrokineticist.

If you're interested in this class, you should check with your DM about its legality in your game.


Pros:

  • Similar built-in fluff (use psychic talent to channel elemental energy). 3.5 psionics and PF psychics have some important differences (especially mechanically), but they both come down to "use the innate power of your mind to do off-brand magic." The fluff text about PF Kineticist's background even matches the fluff prereq for the prestige class version!
  • Recreates several of the PF Kineticist's key features (hurling bolts of elemental energy, protecting oneself with elemental barriers, self-buffing by infusing oneself with elemental energy).
  • 3.5 psionics is generally strong and fun.

Cons:

  • It's a prestige class instead of a base class, so not available from level 1 (expected entry gives you your first Kineticist level at ECL 6). If you enter as a Psion (Kineticist), you can throw elemental energy around right from the get-go, but it's not as flavorful at levels 1-5 as the PF version.
  • As a Psion, you'll be much more focused on psionics than the PF Kineticist (whose only nod to psionics is referring to the class' Wild Talents as "innate psychic talent"). If you don't want to play a pseudo-spellcaster, it might not be what you want.
  • Misses out on a few of PF Kineticist's key features, such as the ability to mix multiple elements at high levels.
  • Potential legality issues: The 3.0/3.5 ambiguity mentioned above; additionally, It's from an online article, so unclear whether it would run afoul of your DM's "two books" rule.
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    \$\begingroup\$ The kineticist prestige class is actually 3.0 material—and unlike most 3.0 material, 3.0 psionics is really quite a lot different from 3.5 psionics. The 3.5 version would be a psion focused in the psychokinesis discipline—which I would wholeheartedly support, as opposed to 3.0 psionic material which is quite problematic. Also, the Pathfinder “psychic magic” material is really quite distinct from psionics in a lot of ways, both mechanically and narratively, despite the re-use of some names, so that point is off the mark. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 27 '18 at 17:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I would have assumed that this class would qualify for the "not updated for 3.5, so legal in that ruleset" rule, and (if being played in 3.5) would advance the 3.5 version of Psion. Is this not how you would rule on the class? \$\endgroup\$ – A_S00 Apr 27 '18 at 17:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, I would rule that the kineticist is the update to the kineticist. Or maybe the pyrokineticist, though I wouldn’t recommend that class to anyone (at least not for more than a 1-level dip to get fire lash which is kind of OK). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 27 '18 at 17:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, looking again, the pyrokineticist does seem more like the 3.5e update to the kineticist, though there are important differences (e.g. the loss of even the 5/10 manifesting that the kineticist got). Anyway, since you’ve clarified things, happy to remove my downvote. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Apr 27 '18 at 19:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are 3.5 versions of the Pyrokineticist that KRyan mentioned which has variants for each of the energy types. Though those are from web article expansions of the main book, not sure if that would be considered as part of the book. Also, Wilder is better than Psion for an elemental energy blaster type. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Apr 28 '18 at 23:36
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The kineticist gets an elemental attack which gains damage as the kineticist levels. The kineticist can learn wild talents; some of these are permanent reusable abilities, and others upgrade the elemental attack.

It sounds like you're looking for the 3.5e warlock class, found in Complete Arcane. The warlock gets an eldritch blast which gains power as the warlock levels. The warlock learns invocations; some of these are permanent reusable abilities, and others upgrade the eldritch blast.

If you had your heart set on being specifically an elemental-themed character, your best shot is to ask your DM to let you re-theme your powers, perhaps arguing that you have an elemental prince as your warlock patron.

If your DM doesn't buy that, there's technically a feat that would let you re-theme your powers (Spell Thematics), but it's not in the same book as Complete Arcane, and also the prerequisites are a bit tricky to meet.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The dungeon master's guide (iirc page 34) states that refluffing your powers and effects is perfectly fine, and expected. Spell Thematics exists because some WotC author apparently forgot about that (or didn't like it) and tried to implement a tax on it. I think it may be better to mention this instead of Spell Thematics (or mention them together). \$\endgroup\$ – Forrestfire Apr 27 '18 at 17:06

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