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I'm kind of annoyed looking through the Pathfinder 2E Gunslinger ways and feats to see that they put so much work into making alchemy and (potentially) bombs a viable optional feature for the class, but didn't really build a "Way" that has a reload feature usable with them.

Sure, you could take Way of the Sniper with 1-handed firearms in one hand and bombs in the other. At least the Slinger's reload (reload while taking cover) is potentially useful then. However, that's weak both mechanically (compared to 2-handed firearms) and flavor-wise (compared to running around lobbing bombs and laughing maniacally.)

Way of the Drifter would be serviceable if thrown weapons or bombs counted as "1-handed melee weapons". So why not just do that?

Consider this homebrew Gunslinger "Way" that is just Way of the Drifter, but with the phrases "1-handed melee weapon" and "melee weapon" replaced with the word "bomb"


Way of the Anarchist

You're a wanderer traveling from land to land with your gun and a bombs as company. Maybe you learned to fight with explosives and a pistol as a Shackles pirate, mastered the hand cannon and alchemist fire in Minkai, or practiced with a bomb and clan pistol in Dongun Hold. You win battles by relying on mobility and flexible use of your weapons.

Slinger's Reload

Reloading Huck (single action)

Requirements You're wielding a firearm or crossbow in one hand, and your other hand either wields a bomb or is empty. You make an attack and then reload your gun in one fluid movement. Strike an opponent within range with your bomb (or, if your other hand is empty, with an unarmed attack), and then Interact to reload. You don't need a free hand to reload in this way.

Initial Deed

Into the Mob (free action)

Trigger You roll initiative. You know trouble can lurk around every corner, and your hands never stray far from your holsters. You can Interact to draw a one-handed ranged weapon and can then Interact to draw a bomb. As your first action on your first turn, you can Stride as a free action toward an enemy you can perceive. If you can't perceive any enemies or can't end your movement closer to one, you can't use this Stride.

Advanced Deed (9th)

Finish the Lob (1 action)

Requirements On your last action, you failed (but didn't critically fail) a Strike with a firearm or crossbow you're holding in one hand, and your other hand is either wielding a bomb or empty.

Your last attack failed, but it set you up for another. Make a Strike with your other hand, using a bomb or unarmed attack. This Strike uses the same multiple attack penalty as the Strike that failed on the last action. Afterward, increase your multiple attack penalty normally.

Greater Deed (15th)

Anarchist's Wake

You skip across the battlefield, blasting foes as you go. You Stride, and you can Strike up to three times at any points during your movement. Each attack must target a different enemy and must be made with a one-handed firearm, crossbow, bomb, or unarmed attack. Each attack counts toward your multiple attack penalty, but your multiple attack penalty doesn't increase until you've made all your attacks. Your movement doesn't trigger reactions.

Anarchist's Juke (two-actions) Feat 6

[Flourish][Gunslinger]

Prerequisites way of the anarchist

Requirements You're wielding a firearm or crossbow in one hand, and your other hand is either wielding a bomb or is empty.

You move in and out of range to complement your attacks.

You Step, make a Strike, Step, and make another Strike. One Strike must be a ranged Strike using your firearm or crossbow, and the other must be a Strike using your bomb or unarmed attack. You can choose not to take one or both Steps.

Disruptive Blur (feat 14)

Prerequisites way of the drifter , way of the anarchist

You use cacophonous blasts from your gun or distracting shots from your crossbow to cause momentary diversions, letting you move about the battlefield with impunity. After you make a Strike with a firearm or crossbow, creatures can't take reactions that would be triggered by your movement for the rest of your turn.


What I'm wondering is if there's anything unique about bombs vs. 1-handed melee weapons that would make this particular Way unbalanced? I know bombs potentially can have splash damage, while melee weapons don't.(?) They also newly allow the PC to stay a bit out of melee range, since bombs tend to have a 20 foot range. I am seeing there's a potential synergy with Quick Draw on bombs, and there might be some problems I'm not seeing with healing bomb having weird synergies with this Way. But other than that, nothing is jumping out at me.

I'm also a little curious what it would do to this to make it work for all thrown weapons, not just bombs.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Random suggestion: Make the reload a single action "Reload your gun and draw a bomb" \$\endgroup\$
    – Alan
    Mar 8, 2023 at 3:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Alan - Yeah, I think you're right about that. Although I wouldn't want it to not be usable if you already have a bomb drawn, so it would have to be worded carefully. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 8, 2023 at 4:03

1 Answer 1

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This Is Weak and Limiting

This Way essentially forces a Gunslinger into taking Munitions Crafter. I'll rate the features on a scale of -5 to +5, where -5 means "significantly underpowered compared to the Way of the Drifter", +5 means "significantly overpowered compared to the Way of the Drifter", and 0 means "as balanced as Way of the Drifter". We're hoping to sum up to 0 without any major swings (e.g. a +5 is always bad, even if the total is low).

Reloading Huck

At low levels, you'll only be able to use this for some of the day - those levels are where your bombs are comparatively the strongest, though. So where a normal Drifter might be able to make 10 strikes in a day with their Reloading Strike, you don't have the ability to match that until level 5. There will be an awkward dip in effectiveness at levels 4 and 5 until you get Munitions Machinist which then causes your bombs to somewhat keep up with the melee damage you'd expect from a Drifter. With splash damage and the ability to do this at range (and some good bomb-rider effects), the new Reloading Huck should actually be stronger than it's equivalent. But there's one huge difference - you have to keep interacting to draw your bombs. Neither Quick Bomber nor Quick Draw will help you here, since those are their own actions and thus not usable with Reloading Huck. Given that Quick Bomber is essential to any bomber style of play, this basically prevents the Way from being effective right off the start. Into the Fray will let you start with a bomb, which is great. But the action tax here is huge, so I'll rate this as a -2, for the feat tax and action tax - you've essentially (accidentally) re-introduced the reloading problem that Slinger's Reloads are designed to solve in the first place (that reload is boring and expensive).

Into the Mob

This is fine, it's basically the same, and you still want to be close to enemies for your bombs. +0

Finish the Lob

Tempted to give it a +5 for the punny name alone... but, similar to Reloading Huck, this is crippled by the action tax to continually drawing bombs, and by having bombs left. I'll give it the same rating - -2.

Anarchist's Wake

This is tough; you're probably best off just rewriting this ability altogether. The problem with this is that unless you have a Capacity weapon, you won't have the ability to make three strikes! You'll attack once with your gun, once with your bomb, and then... have to make an unarmed strike? If this build has to invest in unarmed strikes as well, that is another large feat (and item) tax. Not to mention that I'd recommend removing all the unarmed strike clauses anyway as they don't match thematically. The moving without provoking reactions part is also less helpful, since you don't really want or need to be in melee range. So I'll give this a -3 - I think this won't even see use by most Way of the Anarchist Gunslingers.

Anarchist's Juke

If you're not in melee, then Stepping is going to be less valuable. Still helpful, though. The big thing here is that this conflicts with Munitions Machinist, also a level 6 feat. This then becomes a level 8 feat at the earliest (since it's lower priority). So -2 - one because of the feat conflict, another because of Stepping is more valuable in melee. I could also count the action tax of drawing a bomb here, but it's been adequately accounted for elsewhere, and this is an optional feat. I wouldn't take it.

Disruptive Blur

This is fine. Not provoking reactions is more beneficial in melee, but since we'll be drawing a lot of bombs, we'll be provoking more reactions, and probably want to keep at a good distance more. So +0.

Conclusion

Total: -9 - a lot of these features don't work well with the drawing a bomb action tax or the transition to ranged, consumable based damage.

There are a lot of feat taxes for this build, but the biggest problem is it basically reintroduces reloading action tax to the Gunslinger. This makes it weak and limiting. Unfortunately, I don't think it's as simple as letting them always draw bombs for free. However, feel free to try playing it and report the results; bombs are incredibly versatile and that's hard to account for in theory-crafting, so maybe that will make up for it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Other names I was considering for "Finish the Lob" were "Consolation Bomb" and "Lagniappe". Decided to stick with the 1-letter change though. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 7, 2023 at 23:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, this is by-and-large what I was seeing, but I guess I was afraid I was missing something important about bombs that made the drawing "action tax" necessary for balance. I almost just edited out the Disruptive Blur after looking at it here in black-and-white. As it stands, I'm not sure I'd take it. Seems easier to just not get into melee in the first place, but I guess if you're that close baddies might be tempted to walk up to you a bit more often. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 8, 2023 at 3:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ So I guess if I wanted to even this out a bit, I'd need to do something like add "you may interact to draw a bomb as a free action" to the WotA deeds, or perhaps add that ability as a competing feat to Quick Draw at lvl 2. The "feat tax" will still be there, but I don't consider that as severe as an action tax. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 8, 2023 at 4:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, I think you are right about that lvl 6 feat; it should just be rewritten (or removed entirely to help with the feat tax). I'm thinking perhaps something that combines a tumble-behind, and 2 strikes for 2 actions? \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 8, 2023 at 4:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.E.D. Replacing the unarmed strike with a bomb draw in the reloading huck (so reload gun + draw or throw bomb) would pretty much fix the action economy. In fact I think that the unarmed strikes that pop up here just dilute the bomb theme and spread the 'power budget' too thin. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruse
    Mar 8, 2023 at 8:12

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