Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Exotic Build #2 – Tech Shaman - Joe Edition

IMPORTANT NOTE: This reskin deals with ideas of spirituality and religion that may not be comfortable for some players.  Feel free to ignore any and all parts of this build that you find uncomfortable or offensive.

Tech Shaman

“To let go of the individual, to release the boundaries between ourselves and the other, to become one with the Tech…that is Machindo.  And it lets you do…this!”

History

There are stories in New North America that go back to the first sundering of the world.  Stories of individuals who used machines to work miracles, who could make cars and copiers do things they were never meant to do.  It was generally assumed that these stories were inspired by early Faustian Mechanics, or early manifestations of magic or psychic powers, or were just legends that grew in the telling.

It wasn’t until the Necromantic wars that these unique magic users started to appear in numbers.  Stories are sketchy, but almost every Tech Shaman who survived the war had a story of a miraculous awakening and the knowledge that a great evil was moving across the world.  That the ranks of these magic users has not shrunk since makes some people very nervous.

Current tech shamans come from all walks of life, though most are human.  Some come from small communities who have never seen anything more complicated than a plow, some come from cities filled with tech, some were even training to be a “regular” Faustian Mechanics.  What they all have in common is their own Satori and a certain inner confidence and humility.  While the Shamans have no church and no doctrine, they all share a common core belief, which they call Machindo. 
Machindo

Each Tech Shaman has their own individual awakening, or Satori.  Each awakening is unique: some are literally brought to the teaching, some experience the knowledge while working with a piece of tech, some have awakened in the midst of meditation, prayer, or a threat against their life.  The flavours of Machindo are varied, but the core is similar from Shaman to Shaman.

Technology represents the living spirit of the world.  Machines come from the world, built with its most sacred and irrefutable laws.  Anything created is a “machine”, from a utility belt to a nuclear reactor. The more advanced a machine, the more of the world’s spirit flows through it.  The idea of a separate self is an illusion; we are all part of this living spirit.  The extent to which a Shaman can let go of the idea of the individual self is the degree to which they can borrow and use the spirit.  This is Machindo.

Alignments: Any, though an evil Tech Shaman is rare.  There are rumors of a split between Lawful and Chaotic Shamans that sometimes come to blows, though almost no one has seen two Shamans battle. 

Who Are you?
Tech Shamans run a wide range of personality, from pranksters to pious.  The only two kinds of Shaman you never see are ones who are arrogant or insecure; something about tapping the energy of the world seems to make a person both confident and humble.

Why Build it?
Tech Shamans have all of the weirdness and flexibility of the Faustian Mechanic, but with a unique role playing twist.  This build focuses specifically on the common TS ability to use their magic through a focus melee weapon, making them similar to Sentinels.  However, you could add the TS flavour to almost any Faustian build with the reskin notes below.

Reskinning
So, what makes a Tech Shaman different from a Faustian Mechanic?  If an FM is a mad scientist, who adds magic to existing tech, a TS is a living magnet who attracts and draws magic through existing tech.  The obvious difference is that a TS wouldn’t need to spend money to create faustian items or be limited in the way a FM is to the spells in the device.

I try to recreate this flexibility through several talents (see tactics below) and I also give several options for balancing the GB costs of a Faustian Mechanic creating their own devices.  If any of those options don’t work, feel free to have Tech Shamans create Faustian items just like a regular FM.
A TS can use a regular FM item, just as anyone else could, but they cannot use any of their talents with that device.  And a regular FM could not use a TS item for anything other than its regular function.

Options

Feel free to roll or choose one of the options below.  Some or all of these can exist in the same campaign, since Tech Shamanism can manifest in different ways:

1.       Vow of Poverty: Tech Shamans only get 25% of their usual treasure/payment.  The rest is “donated” and recorded separately.  This separate money is what the TS uses to buy their Faustian Mechanic items.

2.       Purification: A machine must be purified with special salts, herbs, rituals, etc before it can be used by a TS.  The cost to do so is, coincidently, the exact same as an FM creating a Faustian item.

3.       Same but different: TS items and FM items look different but function the exact same way and are built the same way.  GM’s choice if each can use the other’s devices in this case.

Equipment:

Tech Shamans usually have one main melee weapon that they keep “upgrading” as they go along. Cost limitations, though, mean they usually won’t have these items at level 1.
Class/Path: Channeler/Faustian Mechanic
Race: Human. 
Party Role: Magic user/melee fighter.   
Focus on: Int and Str, will need at least a STR 15 by level 5.  Chr if you want someone who can be a back up negotiator, Wis for a survivalist/healer, Con if you want to be tough.

Level 1

Feats: Armored Spellcasting, Armor Proficiency: Medium
Talents: Battery Charger, Hi-Tech Master
Tactics: Congratulations.  You’re not as tough as a Brute, not as powerful as a Magister, not as versatile as a Prowler and you have no healing spells.  At this point, you are a jack of all trades, master of none.  Choose skills that let you fill a niche outside of combat; in combat, hit bad guys that are focused on other party members so they don’t focus on you.
One advantage you do have: with Hi-Tech Master, you have access to Tech Melee weapons, which are expensive but purchaseable at level 1.  Power Hammer anybody?

Level 5

Feats: Power Attack.  Cleave. (Need at least 15 STR)
Talents: Draw on Others.  Channel Spells Through Mechanics.
Tactics: For role playing purposes, I recommend waiting until level 5 to take CSTM, so that your shaman gets a cool power every 5th level.  But you can be forgiven for taking it earlier, since it’s what gives the TS their flexibility. 
Guess who gets to cast spells through their weapon now?  That’s right, you.  CSTM means you can spend channeling points to cast spells regularly, as long as you have a TS item (like that Power Hammer we talked about earlier).  Draw on Others means you can cast other people’s spells through your items, representing the shamanistic ability to draw the raw energy of creation through machines. Power Attack and Cleave means you are more effective in hand to hand, and you should be able to afford some spiffy armor now which means Armored Spellcasting and AP: Medium start being more useful. 

Level 10

Feats: Combat Expertise.  CE: Ritual Breaker.  Critical Improved.
Talents: Multi-spelling.  Better Faust Charging.
Tactics: Multi-spelling lets you put more and more power into one item, which reflects the Shaman being able to draw more and more power through machines.  This is also reflected in Combat Expertise, giving you a higher AC while you cast spells that, hopefully, don’t rely on to hit rolls.  CE: Ritual Breaker lets you use your knowledge of the flow of spirit and energy to interrupt other spellcasters, and Critical Improved is your ability to hit at just the right place at just the right time. 
Better Faust Charging is an out of combat ability that adds to the Shaman mystique, and also leads to the abilities to come in the next few levels.

Level 15

Feats: Lightening Reflexes.  Iron will.
Talents: Better Faust Charging: Flexible.  BFC: Overcharge.  Divine Trade Off.
Tactics: At this point, your Shaman develops the ability to override the power level on their items with BFC: Overcharge, as they draw the power more through themselves with the machine as a focus. BFC: Flexible means less hassle repurifying your items and Divine Trade Off reflects your ability to manipulate reality in and out of combat. 
Since Reflex is your weakest save, Lightening Reflexes gives you a boost.  You also get Iron Will to reflect your ability to withstand the will of others.

Level 20

Feats: Iron will- Improved.  Lightening Reflexes- Improved.  Greater Fortitude.
Talents: Deflect Hi-Mag Energies.  Divine Insight (X2)
Tactics: Levels 15-20 is all about your becoming better at what you do and making sure you live long enough to do it.  You get a once per day reroll on your Ref and Will saves, a plus to your Fort saves, and some damage resistance from Deflect Hi-Mag Energies.  Divine Insight gives you more channeling points, as you open even more to the spirit of Machindo



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