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Introduction

My previous take on this was an attempt to lightly reskin the Gunslinger's Way of the Drifter for use with alchemical bombs. That is not the goal here. Instead I'm looking to create a balanced Gunslinger Way tailored to using 1-handed guns with thrown weapons. I'm hoping to make it competitive with the other gunslinger ways (particularly the high-energy DPS Drifter) at medium range with bombs primarily and other thrown weapons as a fall-back. Secondarily, I'd like to see it also be usable with a non-consumable thrown weapons only playstyle, and I'd like it to not introduce anything so highly powered that it makes Gunslinger a must-have multiclass archtype dedication for Alchemists or other thrown-weapon Martial classes, but those are lesser concerns.

The pictured playstyle is to stand at medium range and alternate between shooting with a 1-handed crossbow or firearm and hurling throwing weapons. Likely bombs but possibly also other thrown weapons. The Way features means for reloading while throwing, and for drawing thrown weapons while shooting.


Way of the Anarchist

You're a strong believer in the uplifting of society and your own goals through the tactical application of large amounts of explosive substances. With a pistol or crossbow in one hand and a thrown weapon in the other, you have the versatility and firepower to blow away the competition.

Way Skill

Arcana, Nature, Religion, or Occultism

Slinger's Reload

Reloading Huck Image

Requirements You're wielding a firearm or crossbow in one hand, and a thrown weapon in the other.

You make an attack and then reload your gun in one fluid movement. Strike an opponent within range with your thrown weapon, and then Interact to reload. You don't need a free hand to reload in this way. Both hands are considered full for the entire duration of this action.

Anarchists Draw Image

Requirements You have a free hand.

Trigger You make a strike with a firearm or crossbow.

Your off hand quickly grabs a throwing weapon while you are shooting. You may interact to draw a thrown weapon with your free hand. If you later use this weapon in a strike within this same action, it is considered a Hasty Hurl.

A Hasty Hurl strike takes a -2 status penalty to hit. If the hasty hurl critically misses, the thrown weapon instead hits a creature or an object of size small or larger within it's thrown range, randomly selected. This may include the thrower.

Initial Deed

Gunpowder Plot Image

Trigger You roll initiative. You have trained your mind to quickly recall vital information about exploitable weaknesses of various creatures, and grab the right munitions to exploit those weaknesses. You can perform a recall knowledge check on one hostile creature of your choice while drawing a one-handed firearm or crossbow. During your first action on your first turn, you may reload your firearm or crossbow or draw a thrown weapon as a free action.

Advanced Deed (9th)

Finish the Lob Image

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 wielding a thrown weapon.

Your last attack failed, but it set you up for another. Make a Strike with your other hand, using a thrown weapon. This Strike uses the same multiple attack penalty as the Strike that failed on the last action. Afterward, increase your multiple attack penalty normally. You may additionally draw another thrown weapon on the follow-through.

Greater Deed (15th)

Ballroom Blitz Image

You skip across the battlefield, blasting foes as you go. You Stride, and you can either Strike or Reloading Huck up to three times at any point during your movement. Each Reloading Huck costs 5 feet of your stride's movement speed. Each attack must target a different enemy and must be made with a one-handed firearm, crossbow, or thrown weapon. Each attack counts toward your multiple attack penalty, but your multiple attack penalty doesn't increase until you've made all your attacks.

Lightning Reload Feat 6

Prerequisites way of the anarchist

With diligent practice, you've gotten your Reloading Huck's reload time down to nearly supernatural speeds.

Your hands are no longer considered full during the end of the Reloading Huck action. If your thrown attack used a weapon with a returning rune or the recovery trait, you may now catch and optionally put away the thrown weapon at the end of the Reloading Huck action.

With A Lead Chaser Image(feat 14)

[Concentrate]

Prerequisites way of the anarchist

You lob a thrown weapon through the air, then shoot it just as it reaches the target.

At the start of this action, you may interact either to reload your firearm or crossbow, or to draw a thrown weapon. You make a slow arcing thrown strike, then a firearm or crossbow strike at the same target. If both hit, calculate the damage for both strikes as if they were a single strike. You may optionally choose to replace the firearm or crossbow's damage type for that of the thrown attack. Each attack counts toward your multiple attack penalty, but your multiple attack penalty doesn't increase until you've made both attacks.


Rationale

As the normal pictured use is with bombs, and the feats for crafting those rely on int, I decided to write the Initial Deed to use Recall Knowledge. This also makes this a natural choice for Slinger builds that require a strong Int and/or Wis for other reasons. This will theoretically allow Anarchists to chose what munitions or thrown weapons to use to match any discovered vulnerabilities in their enemies. Failing that, its still handy to have a character in the party that doesn't have to blow an action at the start of combat on a Recall Knowledge check. To further synergize with this ability, the four common Recall Knowledge skills are provided to chose from as the Way Skill.

The Slinger's Reload is unusual in that it provides 2 skills, not just one. The first is a somewhat standard-ish reload paired with a thrown attack. It is nerfed a bit at low levels by not working well with returning/recovery weapons, which will land at the player's feet rather than back in their hands. This will probably tend to mean players of levels 3-5 won't be able to afford to rune their entire supply of thrown weapons, if they want to use this skill.

The second skill is a free action that allows the drawing of a thrown weapon whenever a shot is fired. This seems potentially too strong when paired with some multi-attack abilities (including perhaps some I haven't thought of), so it was given a drawback. When this free action allows multiple strikes in a single action, all strikes after the free draw will have a slight to-hit penalty, and a rather chaotic critical miss consequence. The chaos also fits in well with the flavor concept of this Way. If both drawbacks together are judged to be unbalanced one way or the other, I'd prefer to adjust the the to-hit penalty in preference to changing the crit fail effect.

The Advanced Deed is nearly unchanged from the previous iteration, except a reload was added to it to keep it competitive.

The Greater Deed was edited to allow all strikes to be usable, at the possible cost of some movement speed. The movement is still there, as it allows the Anarchist to get good angles and/or range on all their potential targets, since thrown range tends to be limited. One these strikes will end up being a Hasty Hurl. This is an intended side effect, as it adds to the chaotic flavor of this skill. If the skill ends up being a tad strong, I wouldn't mind making all thrown attacks made with it "hasty".

The issue with the level 6 feat was that there's already kind of a must-have level 6 feat for bomb-throwers: Munitions Machinist. The solution here was to leave that as the bomber's level 6 feat, and make the Way-specific feat something that is much more useful for non-consumbable throwers. Thus the new level 6 feat is what allows those builds to use returning/recovery weapons, which in turn means runed throwing weapons are now economically feasible. If that's deemed too weak (basically I gimped the reload to make this worthwhile), I think we could also tweak it to allow returning throws without runeing for it, to free up a rune slot on the hurler's favorite throwing weapon.

The level 14 Way-specific feat implements a suggestion in the comments to provide a "combo shot". It also synergizes with high int/wis skills and Recall Knowledge to help exploit any damage weaknesses (or avoid any resistances) that the creature may have to the Anarchist's typical damage types, and to help punch through any damage reductions.

The weaknesses I see here are that making the most out of this Way will be a bit on the MAD side, as you'd ideally like high Dex for to-hit and AC, high Con because you're a little too close for comfort, high Int/Wis for the Recall Knowledge checks and bomb crafting, and high Str for the extra damage if you aren't using a lot of bombs. Hard choices will have to be made (probably Int vs Str). I'm also a little nervous that I might have gone overboard with the power of this Way in trying to make it competitive with the high DPS and activity of Drifter.

So what do you think? Does it balance?


Update

I've figured out how to make custom packs for Pathbuilder 2e, so here's a G-drive link to a Pathbuilder pack implementing this version of The Way of the Anarchist.

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note: I called that one triple-attack "Ballroom Blitz" just because it felt like the right kind of chaotic energy. Turns out that song was written by The Sweet after they got chased off the stage at a performance by an angry bottle-throwing audience in Scotland. So that name was a way better fit than I realized. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 10, 2023 at 4:28

1 Answer 1

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Ready for playtest! Solid core, may need feat support

I'll be going through each individual feature, and offer a conclusion at the end. I'll use a rating of -5 to +5, where +5 is a vastly overpowered option and -5 is vastly underpowered option. We want all the features to be fairly close to 0, and the sum as well. Unlike my last answer, I'll try to compare this to Gunslinger and even other classes as a whole, since we're no longer just trying to revamp Way of the Drifter. That being said, there's still a lot of comparisons with Way of the Drifter, since they are very similar, so I'll be discussing that more.

Way Skill

This is fine. The flexibility is good, and works well with finding weaknesses for bombs. Probably not as good as Stealth, Thievery, or Deception/Intimidation from the other Ways, but... this is fine. It's not Performance, better than Acrobatics (imo), and flexible so they can choose a Wisdom or Intelligence focused one. However, I'd recommend adding Crafting (since a lot of people will want to go bombs), and I'd be aware this doesn't work well with your secondary goal of being a normal throwing weapon build. +0

Slinger's Reload

This is better than Way of the Drifter's Reloading Strike, since it's ranged it's therefore much more consistently useful. With bombs, you don't even need the Strength investment to keep the damage up. That being said... this is still a lower proficiency attack than your gun (by one step, e.g. trained at level one). This being attack will also make your gun attack worse if it happens this turn. This also means you'll still want to find a reliable, MAP-less third action for your turn, which a lot of the other Way's special reload solves. So it's better than Way of the Drifter, but... Way of the Drifter is pretty bad. So I'll say -1. NB: the "both hands are full for the action" clause is... strange. I can see you're trying to make this not work with a Returning rune, but I don't think that's necessary - Thrower's Bandolier and Anarchist's Draw do the same thing. I'd remove this caveat, and my evaluation is ignoring that clause (because there are a lot of ways around it).

Anarchist's Draw

Oh look, a bonus feature! Other Ways don't get a bonus feature. However... this is basically necessary for this Way (for the bomber part at least) to work. However... Hasty Hurl is a confusing gray area. You can't use a free action in the middle of another activity, and this action doesn't make any strikes, so per RAW you could never actually make a Hasty Hurl. I think it's fine to just remove that component entirely, and fix the drawing of bombs for Ballroom Blitz and With a Lead Chaser on those feats. This also creates a nice rhythm - shoot to draw a bomb, throw a bomb to reload. I'll evaluate Hasty Hurl as part of the two aforementioned feats, since it seems like it was for those that this clause exists. Overall, this is a really good addition - I like both the implementation, theme, and mechanical flow. I don't think it's overpowered at all - really just minimally necessary to make this Way not bad. +0.

Initial Deed: Gunpowder Plot

Another fun name! This is fine - most of the other Initial Deeds are along similar lines (draw weapon(s), do relevant action for free or get a bonus). I think it'd be better to switch the ordering of the Recall Knowledge and the drawing (so have the Recall Knowledge be a free action at the start of their turn) because taking actions in the middle of everyone rolling initiative is hard to manage (resolving multiple of these simultaneously would be annoying as a GM). Importantly, make sure drawing the thrown bomb is a may - they might want to keep that hand free so that they can shoot at the start of their turn and draw a bomb via Anarchist's Draw. This starts the rhythm. Overall, I think it's a little weaker than Into the Fray, Ten Paces, or One Shot, One Kill, but not by much. I'll give it a -1 - Recall Knowledge isn't always going to be as helpful (that's a lot of skills for the Gunslinger to keep relevant, and can make them quite MAD), but it's still good.

Advanced Deed: Finish the Lob

This is basically a better version of Exacting Strike, since it'll work for your MAP-less attack and can be used with special attacks and what not. I'm assuming that is works with With a Lead Chaser (or similar actions like Penetrating Shot), in which case it is strong, since that makes 3 MAP-less attacks in a turn, even though one of them has to be with your lesser weapon. +2. NB: it'd be good to explicitly mention how this interacts with With a Lead Chaser, probably in the description of With a Lead Chaser. It's a bit unclear as written. It's also technically unclear if it would work with e.g. Penetrating Shot, since that's a two-action activity and this specifies "in your last action", but that's probably being excessively pedantic.

Greater Deed: Ballroom Blitz

This is quite strong, and significantly better than Way of the Drifter's Drifter's Wake for a few reasons:

  • You can shoot your gun multiple times (because you can reload in the middle while attacking). Drifter's Wake limits it to once.
  • Since these are all ranged attacks, it's much easier to get off all three Strikes, with practically at best a 5 or 10 foot speed penalty (which isn't much at level 15). This makes the targeting different enemies clause MUCH easier.

Does this make it too strong? I think so, ever so slightly. This is about on par with the other Greater Deeds, which are all quite powerful (to the tune of free Dispel Magic powerful, or probably better than free 3rd level Fear powerful). This is slightly better than several similar level three action activities (e.g. Whirlwind Strike, Hammer Quake, Path of Iron - note the frequency there). It's probably about on par with, if not better than, Impossible Volley, given the range restrictions there, since this will reliably hit three enemies while getting some movement, and only one or two of your attacks will be at a "-2" penalty (the bomb). I don't think Impossible Volley is all that great (especially on a Ranger), though. So I'd say this is definitely powerful compared to other features from other classes, but pretty on par for Gunslinger - +1. You may consider adding a once per minute frequency, which would bring this to a +0 in my eyes. NB: if you start your turn with an empty gun and no bomb in hand, this can be a little weird. Perhaps that was the intent of Hasty Hurl, but I'd just leave it honestly - that's going to be a rare situation, and they can still do a Reloading Huck at the start to get a bullet. They'd only get two attacks that way, but still MAPless and with a Stride, so... it's fine. I'm assuming you wanted Hasty Hurl to interact with this, but I don't think it's necessary.

Lightning Reload (Feat 6)

This is not worth taking. If you're not using bombs, then you better have found a way around this restriction by now (e.g. Thrower's Bandolier). This is just a feat tax for those who don't know that item exists, and that makes this a trap feat. Therefore, -5. However, since it's optional (and unnecessary imo) I'm not adding this to the total evaluation for the Way - most people will probably want this for the bombs anyway, and throwing weapons as a backup when they run out.

With a Lead Chaser (Feat 14)

This is a fun feat! To be more clear about your intent, I would use the language from e.g. Flurry of Blows that says "If both hit the same creature, combine their damage for the purpose of resistances and weaknesses" instead of the current language of treating them as one Strike (which can be confusing with e.g. Sneak Attack). However... this is basically just Double Slice + Dual Thrower with different weapons and without the Agile offhand penalty. If you take my wording suggestion, the best benefit you can get is getting around the resistance with both attacks instead of one (since you'll only trigger the weakness once). It's hard to say whether one level 14 feat is equivalent-ish to two lower level feats (the two mentioned from Dual Weapon Warrior). However, it's not hard to say that this is worse than Ballroom Blitz, which comes online in 1 more level. So I'd recommend dropping the level of this feat quite a bit; conservatively I'd recommend level 8, which pairs well with Munitions Machinist at level 6. Even then, I'm not sure it's worth it. -2.

Conclusion

You're at +1 without the feats. The feats are pretty... forgettable. This is already going to be a feat intensive Way (people should be taking the level 1 and 6 munitions feats, or maybe Alchemist dedication), so I don't really see that as a problem. If you really want to keep the option open for using non-throwing weapons, then I'd consider making two Way of the Anarchist feats that don't work with bombs (or are subpar with them) for levels 1 and 6. Gunslinger is pretty much acknowledged as a weaker class in general (most people consider it more of a support class), and bombing is difficult to do well in this edition (if you've prepped all Bottled Lightnings, good luck against that blue dragon). Given that, I don't think +1 is a problem, and I'd consider this ready to playtest. I'd allow it at my table, but warn my player I'm specifically watching out for Ballroom Blitz becoming a "always do this" action and Finish the Lob being too powerful. Neither of these are probably enough to make a Way of the Anarchist Gunslinger overpowered, though, and I think where you currently have this makes your class fantasy work. I'm not worried about this being MAD - the way I see it, you don't really need to go super hard on your Int/Wis stat, nor your Con stat, and Str will be a backup for the majority of builds of this Way at best. For those that aren't using bombs, then they can more comfortably ignore Int/Wis in favor of Str, but they'll not be super keen on the Recall Knowledge anyway. I do worry that by making it support both normal throwing weapons and bombs you'll find that this Way needs to do too much.

Play it and enjoy!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ For BB, I was thinking if it was a bit too much, perhaps say all throws are "hasty hurls", maybe even apply the same effect to all the shots. That would discourage overuse by the fact that you're occasionally hitting friendlies (or themselves) and they aren't likely to like that. But it looks like you may prefer it if it was reworded to not make it repeatable every turn. Since I put some work in it to make it repeatable, I could just take some of that out. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 12, 2023 at 23:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.E.D. I think either way you go you’ll end up with something balanced (although… the hit an ally on failure doesn’t seem necessary, not even on crit fail). I just think it’s strong enough to become an every turn thing, which is less fun in my experience. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Mar 13, 2023 at 1:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Strongly agree with the cooldown suggestion on BB; you don't want it to become your default turn. It should require some sort of circumstantial setup (it doesn't have to be too restrictive) or have a frequency limitation to avoid that. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21 at 18:41

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