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Elementalist

The Elementalist is a master of elemental magic, often lashing out across the battlefield with rays of destructive elemental energy.

Hit Die: d8
Starting Wealth: 2d6 × 10 gp (average 70 gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less.
Class Skills: Craft, Knowledge (Any except Local/Religion), Linguistics, Profession, Spellcraft, Use Magic Device.
Skill Ranks per level: Int + 2

Level BAB Fort Ref Will 0th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +0 +0 +2 +2 3 1 - - - - - - - -
2nd +1 +0 +3 +3 4 2 - - - - - - - -
3rd +2 +1 +3 +3 4 2 1 - - - - - - -
4th +3 +1 +4 +4 4 3 2 - - - - - - -
5th +3 +1 +4 +4 4 3 2 1 - - - - - -
6th +4 +2 +5 +5 4 3 3 2 - - - - - -
7th +5 +2 +5 +5 4 4 3 2 1 - - - - -
8th +6/+1 +2 +6 +6 4 4 3 3 2 - - - - -
9th +6/+1 +3 +6 +6 4 4 4 3 2 1 - - - -
10th +7/+2 +3 +7 +7 4 4 4 3 3 2 - - - -
11th +8/+3 +3 +7 +7 4 4 4 4 3 2 1 - - -
12th +9/+4 +4 +8 +8 4 4 4 4 3 3 2 - - -
13th +9/+4 +4 +8 +8 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1 - -
14th +10/+5 +4 +9 +9 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2 - -
15th +11/+6/+1 +5 +9 +9 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1 -
16th +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +10 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2 -
17th +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +10 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
18th +13/+8/+3 +6 +11 +11 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
19th +14/+9/+4 +6 +11 +11 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3
20th +15/+10/+5 +6 +12 +12 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

Spellcasting

Elementalists can cast all spells from the wizard/sorcerer spell list, if they know them.
They have a spellbook like wizards, and they can obtain new spells in the way a wizard could. To learn, prepare, or cast a spell, the Elementalist needs to have Intelligence of at least 10 + spell level.

Cantrips, when prepared, are not expended, just like those of a wizard are not.

Elementalists with a high Intelligence gain bonus spells like a wizard does.

Preparing a spell that doesn’t belong to your attuned elements takes two spell slots. If your attunement changes and you no longer have enough spell slots to contain all your prepared spells, you must choose prepared spells to discard until they fit. Spells without an element to attune to, like wish, take two spell slots.

Proficiencies

Elementalists are proficient with all simple weapons, but not with any armor.

Languages

Elementalists may choose Ignan, Aquan, Auran, and Terran as languages for their Intelligence bonus, in addition to all options from their race.

Attunement

You can attune yourself to fire, frost, lighting or acid with 15 minutes of meditation.

You may attune as part of standard spell preparation taking an hour. If you do, attunement costs no additional time, and completes before spell preparation starts.

You may attune at any moment. Doing so overwrites your previous attunement. However, if you are interrupted while attuning, you must make a concentration check for any reason you would need to do so while casting a spell. If you fail the check, your previous attunement is preserved and attunement progress is lost. It is not possible to have no attunement at all.

You gain +2 on concentration checks to maintain spells or your attuned element, your caster level is considered 1 higher for spells of that element, and all spells of that element increase the DC of their saving throws by 1.

If you take any feats that require you to select an energy/elemental type, like for example Elemental Spell (metamagic), you may instead select “attuned”. If you do, that feat is active for your attuned element(s). Beware: The same feat with different selections can never affect a single spell twice. So if you have Elemental Focus[Fire] and Elemental Focus[Attuned] while fire is attuned, fire spells still only get +1 on save DC’s from Elemental Focus.
You can speak the languages associated with your attuned elements. These are associated as follows:

Element Language
Fire Ignan
Water Aquan
Electricity Auran
Acid Terran

Raycaster

You gain Weapon Focus[ray] as a free bonus feat at level 1.

You add your Intelligence modifier to the damage roll of all rays, once per ray. This only applies to rays that deal hit point damage. (Spells like Scorching Ray benefit multiple times from this)

On level up, an Elementalist adds all ray spells to their spell book for every new spell level they have innate spell slots for. This is in addition to any spells they otherwise learn. See also List of Ray Spells.

Ray Strike (Su)

In place of a normal attack, you may cast a ray of elemental magic instead. This ray is a ranged touch attack dealing 1d4 as damage of your attuned type to a single target in 30 feet.

Ray Strike may critically hit like other attacks. Ray Strike’s default critical range and multiplier is 20/x2.

Ray Strike provokes Attacks of Opportunity like other ranged attacks.

Ray Strike is magical, and therefore blocked by effects like an anti-magic field. You might need to make rolls to overcome Spell Resistance.

A Bracelet may be enchanted as if it were a weapon, and if you use Ray Strike, it benefits from the weapon enchantments on that bracelet when appropriate. This does not conflict with the wrist item slot. It doesn’t matter on which wrist you wear it. Wearing multiple bracelets enchanted like weapons deactivates them all.

If you are polymorphed but still have access to magic, you can use Ray Strike from any location of your body which is considered a primary natural weapon otherwise. If your new shape does not have hands, then you cannot use your hands to cast Ray Strike.

Level 2:

Ray Strike now uses 1d6 as its base damage, and its range is 40 feet.

Level 3:

You have 5 energy resistance against attuned elements.

Level 4:

Gain Weapon Specialization[Ray] as a free bonus feat, ignoring the requirements. This feat only works on ray effects dealing hit point damage.

Level 5:

All Rays that do not have an elemental type to attune to, count as attuned for the purposes of spell slot usage. Ray Spells that do have elemental types, but none of them are attuned, still take 2 slots.

Level 6:

Ray Strike now uses 2d6 as its base damage, and its range is 50 feet.

Level 7:

Exploit Vulnerabilities
If you deal damage of the type of your attuned element, and the target has a weakness to that element, double the effect of that weakness. (e.g. 50% increased damage becomes 100% increased damage. If some creature would take double damage from a certain element, it takes triple.)

Level 8:

Gain Greater Weapon Focus[Ray] as a free bonus feat, ignoring the requirements.

Level 9:

You may attune to the sonic element.

Level 10:

Ray Strike now has a critical range of 19-20/x2.

Level 11:

You have 10 energy resistance against attuned elements.

Level 12:

Gain Critical Focus[Ray] as a free bonus feat, ignoring its requirements.

Level 13:

You may increase the spell level of any spells of your attuned element, as if using the Heighten Spell metamagic feat. You may increase them by any number of levels you desire, as long as you have the spell slots.

Level 14:

Ray Strike now uses 3d6 as base damage, and its range is 60 feet.

Level 15:

You may also attune in 3 combat rounds, still subject to concentration checks when appropriate. If you do, you may only attune a single element, even if you could otherwise attune more elements.

Level 16:

Gain Greater Weapon Specialization[Ray] as a free bonus feat, ignoring the requirements. This feat only works on ray effects dealing hit point damage.

Level 18:

You may attune to the force element.

Level 19:

You have immunity against attuned elements.

Level 20:

You may attune 2 elements at a time. When you use Ray Strike, you must choose one attuned element for its damage type. You may choose a different attunement for different attacks in the same full-round attack action.

Ray Strike now uses 4d8 as base damage. Its critical multiplier is increased by one (19-20/x3, taking into account the level 10 bonus).

Feats

These feats are not obtained automatically, but may be chosen by Elementalists. They exist to support the class much like other classes having special feats for them.

Reactive Casting

Requires: Ray Strike class feature

Benefit: You may use Ray Strike to make Attacks of Opportunity. When you do, using it doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity. (Despite it being technically a ranged attack)

This means you’re always considered armed for the purposes of getting Attacks of Opportunity.
When using Ray Strike while not making an Attack of Opportunity, it still provokes one.

Normal: Unarmed characters do not threaten Attacks of Opportunity.

Area Guard

Requires: Reactive Casting, Character Level 5

Benefit: As a move action, you can expand your threatened area by 5 feet until the start of your next turn. You may only benefit from this expansion with your Ray Strike attack.
This area increases by 5 feet for every 5 character levels (10 at level 10, 15 at 15, 20 at 20).

Charged Strike

Requires: Raycaster class feature, Reactive Casting

Benefit: When ending your turn, you may cast a Ray spell as a free action. Instead of discharging the rays immediately, you hold these charges. While you have rays remaining, you use them for any Attacks of Opportunity you make, but only one ray per opportunity. This feat only works with Ray spells that require a standard action or less time to cast.

As you are casting a spell, you may need to make concentration checks when disturbed.

The spell also dissipates if you run out of rays, take any action that would normally require you to interrupt spellcasting, or when your next turn starts. Any rays you did not use for Attacks of Opportunity are lost.

When you have Attacks of Opportunity left but your rays are depleted, you may use other methods to make these attacks, like normal attacks or Ray Strike.

You may not cast a Ray spell for the purpose of Charged Strike that would normally take longer than a standard action to cast.

Special: This feat works in the extended threatened area from Area Guard.

Deflective Strike

Requires: Reactive Casting

Benefit: You may use Ray Strike to intercept any projectiles passing through your threatened area. When you do, you need to make an attack roll at full BAB. If your attack roll is higher than that of the ranged attack, you strike it from the air, rendering it useless.

If Deflective Strike is successful on a projectile which has hit points, you deal damage to it as if you had attacked that directly. It is considered an unattended object for the purpose of taking damage from a Deflective Strike.

This action expends the use of an Attack of Opportunity. If anything would prevent you from making an Attack of Opportunity, it will also prevent you from using Deflective Strike.

This feat can not be used against spells. Against massive objects, it is only successful if the Hit Points of the object is reduced to below 2 by Deflective Strike. This feat can never deflect an attack rolling a natural 20.

Special: This feat works in the extended threatened area from Area Guard.

Violent Deflection

Requires: Deflective Strike, Charged Strike

Benefit: When using Deflective Strike, you may now deflect ray spells or hostile Ray Strikes.

In addition, you no longer need to cast the Ray spell for Charged Strike at the end of your turn. Instead, you may now cast Ray spells which take no longer than a standard action to cast as part of the Attack of Opportunity. If the spell has multiple rays, you can still hold these for further opportunities.

You may always let held rays dissipate as a free action, at any time.

Special: This feat works in the extended threatened area from Area Guard.

Deep Attunement

Requires: Attunement class feature, Elemental Spell[attuned] metamagic feat.

Benefit: Using Elemental Spell[attuned] no longer increases the spell slot level required for the prepared spell. If casting spontaneously (for example through the Instinctive Rays feat) and no other metamagic is applied, time taken does not increase.

You may prepare spells as being of the “attuned” element. These occupy one spell slot, and you must choose a currently attuned element for it when casting that spell. These also do not require a higher level spell slot. This allows you to prepare spells, and re-attune later without losing spell slots.

Instinctive Rays

Requires: Raycaster class feature OR Instinctive Spell metamagic feat with at least one Ray spell, BAB 6+

Benefit: You may cast Ray spells spontaneously. Doing so requires you to discard a prepared spell of an appropriate level the Ray spell could have been prepared in its place.
When casting spontaneously in this fashion, all spontaneous casting rules for metamagic apply. Unless Quicken Spell is one of the applied Metamagics, it will require a Full-Round action.

Sacrificing a spell which cost 2 spell slots allows you to save one spell slot for another spontaneous casting later on. If you want to spontaneously cast a spell which would have required 2 spell slots to prepare, you will need to discard 2 spell slots worth of prepared spells.

Attuned Critical

Requires: Critical Focus[Ray], Attunement class feature, Character Level 11+.

Benefit: Rays of the element you’re attuned to get an additional effect when you confirm a critical hit with them. Rays bearing the effects of multiple elements you’re attuned to produce all appropriate effects (for example, a Scorching Ray which has been altered with Deep Attunement to be half fire and half force, or the Elemental Accessor spell.).

Save DC’s are according to the level of the spell used, or DC 10 + BAB if it wasn’t a spell (for example, a Ray Strike). This DC is increased by the attunement feature itself, and by any relevant Elemental Focus feats.

Fire: Target catches on fire for 2d6 fire damage each round. Once on fire, the target makes a Reflex save every turn to douse the flames. Falling/being prone will provide a +4 circumstance bonus, and submersion into water will instantly douse it.
Frost: Target is slowed for 1d4+2 rounds, as per the spell. A Fortitude save reduces this to a single round.
Electricity: Target must make a Fortitude save. If the target fails, they are stunned for 1d3+1 rounds. If successful, this is only a single round.
Acid: Target is poisoned, and takes 1d3 Con damage for 1d4+2 rounds or until saved successfully. This requires a Fortitude save.
Sonic: Target must Fortitude save, or be deafened permanently. Regardless, target is dazzled for 1d3+1 rounds. The deafening is non-magical in nature, and therefore any magical effect that would restore hearing will work fine.
Force: This attack ignores any Damage Resistance. If target is susceptible to bleeding, it bleeds for 2d6 every round until a DC 15 Heal check is made or it received magical healing of at least 1 hit point. If target cannot bleed, it takes 4d6 damage.

Special: You can only apply the effects of one critical feat to a given critical hit unless you possess Critical Mastery (which you may pick, using your Elementalist Level as fighter level).

Closing Remarks

What I'm interested in hearing (But please feel free to answer partially only):

  • Does this class sound interesting and fun?
  • Is the power level of the class roughly comparable to other Pathfinder classes? If overpowered, why?
  • Is the class variable enough? There are no mechanics that allow this class to be played significantly different ways, like Schools for Wizards or Bloodlines for Sorcerer.
  • I tried to not obsolete/overpower other casters, while also not being strictly weaker. Did I succeed?

How I addressed some of my own concerns

Stepping on the toes of the other casters: While the spell learning is as free as a wizard, outside of some narrow specifications only half the amount of spells can be prepared, due to the vast majority costing two slots. To compensate, attuned spells are more powerful, especially if they're rays. If the spell slots ever run out - which is a much larger risk than with the wizard or sorcerer - you still have Ray Strike to keep at least a moderate amount of damage going.

Being stuck due to going for a single element: I hope that due to being able to re-attune every day, the flexibility will be good enough to make players feel useful most of the time, while still encouraging them to think ahead.

How this class came to be

I tried using Ray attacks as a Sorcerer, and it sucked. I kept missing all the time. So I had the idea of Ray Strike and a better BAB progression. Then I thought, why not specialize in all rays, from Frost Ray to Disintegrate to Ray of Exhaustion? And I needed an element for that Ray Strike, which is how Attunement came into being.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, have you tried to make a sample level 20 elementalist? If so, did you pit that elementalist against appropriate foes? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17 at 21:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've calculated damage totals and compared them, but not full characters. I've never DM'd high level campaigns, though, so I'm not very confident I can actually select appropriate foes aside from making a character of that level. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gloweye
    Jun 18 at 8:28
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I don't consider myself a balance expert, so I'll just be focusing on ways to clean up the rules.

  • I would move from Wizard casting (fully prepared) to Arcanist casting (prepare a set, then cast spontaneously from those). This is to handle the penalties for non-attuned spellcasting easier. Some spells (such as summoning and Fire Shield) have their descriptor set when cast, not when prepared. As well, it's possible to attune without re-preparing spell slots. Both of these can lead to a disconnect between the slots used to prepare and whether it is attuned when cast. Spontaneous casting would remove this, since it uses the slot at casting time rather than before.
  • Ray Strike should probably be (Sp) and not (Su). This both adds consistency since similar stuff like a kineticist's blast or wizard's school power are (Sp), and the category includes by default some of the interactions you've written explicitly (needing to deal with Spell Resistance, provoking an AoO)
  • You don't list a threatened area for you're reactive casting feat. Most of your other feats in that line rely on the threatened area to function, so it being undefined is going to run into issues.
  • Most of the feats being tied to character level seems like an odd choice. To me, it seems to imply that an intended build is one level of elementalist in a character that is primarily another class. Especially since a single-class Elementalist cannot take Attuned Critical at level 11 because they do not have enough BAB for Critical Focus and only gets it for free at level 12. There's nothing inherently wrong with promoting multiclassing, and it could help with the lack of versatility the class itself offers. You should probably move the free critical focus a couple levels earlier, though.
  • I said I wasn't going to do much with balance, but the class should probably get proficiency in light armour, as well as the ability to not worry about arcane spell failure with it. At low levels, you really don't have the spell slots to cast defensive buffs (since they don't have an elemental descriptor), so a nonmagical method of staying alive would be very useful.
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