Q: Why isn’t this a prestige? It seems a little to specialized to be a true “base class”. Not to say it’s not a good class or anything, I just wanna know the process that went into the development of it. 😀 (Looks like fun)
A: The short answer is that there are too many key ability differences between a rogue and a pyro to warrant just a rogue prestige class. One important factor is the lack of sneak attack, the other is the focus on using a torch as a weapon, and all the pyro abilities packed into the class that go along with it. This class is not a trap disarmer, either, and doesn’t have the amount of skill points per level that a rogue has. So it leaves the rogue’s sneak attack, skill monkey and trap disarmer niche to the rogue. The pyro has access to several rogue talents, but not all of them, and has several unique talents of its own. The pyro has a very different play style and distinctly different flavor from a rogue (well, at least different enough that it definitely won’t feel just like a rogue!).
As a pyro you won’t be constantly jockeying for a sneak attack by hiding in shadows or going invisible, or always sent up to disarm those nasty traps, but you will be dealing decent damage for a two-weapon meleer with the added bonus of potentially igniting opponents struck by your torch and having a bag full of tricks with which to spring deadly and often debilitating surprises on your opponents (such as exploding torches, smoking torches, sparking torches, breathing fire, etc.), while also providing good support to your allies (both by providing flanking bonuses and distracting attacks, and by buffing allies with special torches that imbue their weapons with flame and other energy types). You’ll have more than enough skills to be versatile in that department, and make a good scout. Also, you’ll be the guy who volunteers to carry the torch so the non-darkvision characters can see, and you’ll be glad to do it because of the nasty uses you can put that torch to! Mwahaha!
The pyro class is different enough and has enough class build choices to warrant its own base class. In that way, it’s similar to the barbarian, magus and alchemist, who have a variety of rage powers, magus arcana, and special bombs/discoveries to choose from, allowing you to create a unique character with a unique set of abilities each time.
You could also ask a similar question for the Magus – why have a magus when you already have the Eldritch Knight and Dragon Disciple prestige classes, both of which are designed for melee/arcane caster characters? The reason is the magus is designed from the ground up to be both an arcane caster and a meleer, with a plethora of abilities to choose from that lets you build your own unique magus and have an arcane caster/meleer character that is cool, versatile and flavorful to play, starting at level 1.
The pyro was designed as a base class for similar reasons. The pyro class has several abilities focused on using a torch as a weapon that no other class has, to such an extent that it would not be covered merely by introducing new torch feats for the rogue or making it a rogue archetype, and the pyro has a wide variety of potential special torch attack abilities to select from, as well as numerous pyro talents. That’s what I mean when I say it’s similar to the magus, the barbarian and the alchemist, where you have a wide range of potential class builds thanks to wide variety of class abilities to pick from (magus arcana, barbarian rage powers, alchemist bombs and discoveries). This lets you have a unique and flavorful character right from level 1.
If the Pyro were a prestige class, you’d also have to wait until 5th level to take it! 😉 In all seriousness, though if it were a prestige class, you’d have to wait until much higher level to acquire even the most basic special pyro abilities, the pyro abilities would have to be completely revamped to reflect the higher levels at which they’d be acquired, and you wouldn’t have nearly the pool of abilities to draw from that a base pyro class has.
Another analogy would be the differences between a fighter, ranger and paladin. They’re all basically tough guy warrior types, but the ranger and paladin have enough differences right from the start that each is its own class, rather than prestige classes or archtypes for the fighter.
Q: Just curious but how does a class like this get around things like Fire Immunity?
A: That’s a challenge for fire elemental sorcerers and fire oracles, as well, or for any class that specializes in fire or for players who prefer fire spells.
The Pyro base class has several ways of dealing with fire immune or resistant creatures:
- Pyros can choose to learn how to make Witchlight torches which burn with a cold flame
- Pyros can also choose the “Penetrating Torch” attack, which lets them bypass a certain amount of fire resistance with their torches. At higher levels, the amount of fire resistance bypassed increases.
- As pyros go up in level, their torch fire damage increases. Granted, this won’t help vs. fire immune creatures, but it will help get past fire resistance
- If a Pyro learns the Dancing Torch, Smoking Torch, Sparking Torch and Thundering Torch, he still has a means to deal with enemies without resorting to fire, and he can use some of those torches to imbue allies’ weapons with shocking and thundering abilities.
- Pyros are intended to (but not limited to) fight with a standard weapon in their main hand and a torch in their off hand, so they aren’t 100% reliant on fire damage for their attacks. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from making a pyro with the torch in the main hand, or from using a two-handed weapon and pulling out the torches when needed.
- Pyro torch attacks inflict both bludgeoning damage and fire damage, so if a target is fire resistant or immune, he will at least get some bludgeoning damage in there.
- The pyro also has a lot of other tricks up his sleeve, so he’s no one-trick fire pony by any means. He gains a bonus to hit opponents that are denied their dexterity bonus and a greater than normal flanking bonus when flanking with a torch. He’s also got a big skill pool to draw from making him handy for all kinds of roguish things, and if he puts ranks in Alchemy he can benefit the party with alchemical items. His ability to imbue allies’ weapons with energy type effects makes him a useful buffer, as well. He also gets some talents which make him more effective in general combat, along the lines of a rogue.
Q: Blinding Strike – does the pyro still inflict torch fire damage and possibly ignite the target when using blinding strike?
Q: Blinding Strike – the description says this requires a full round action. Does this mean it takes the whole round or is it a full attack action?
A: It’s a full attack action.
Q: Fire Expert – does this let the pyro re-roll 1’s on just torch bludgeoning damage or also on torch fire damage from igniting something?
A: Both torch bludgeoning damage and fire damage.
Q: Imbuing with torches – can the pyro imbue a weapon only once per day, or once per day per special torch type?
A: Once per day per special torch type. So, if a pyro knows how to make blazing torches, once per day he can use one to imbue a weapon with the flaming quality. Even if he could make, say, three blazing torches per day, he could only do the flaming imbuement once per day. If he also knows how to make witchlight torches, he could then create a witchlight torch and use it to imbue another weapon with the frost quality in the same day. So, in this example. the pyro could imbue two weapons per day – one using a blazing torch and another using a witchlight torch.
Q: Torch attack vs. bludgeoning resistant targets – if the pyro hits a target with his torch but fails to inflict any bludgeoning damage due to the target’s damage resistance, does he still cause fire damage and can the target still be ignited?
A: Yes, the bludgeoning resistant target still suffers fire damage and can be ignited.
Q: Can the extra Form of Feats be taken multiple times? Ex. Can I take Extra Giant Form twice getting a total of 4 additional uses per day?
A: The Extra Form feats and Extra Shapechange (both introduced in the Web Enhancement & Errata PDF) can be taken only once.
Q: Is the shapeshifter basically just a spell-less druid?
A: The shapeshifter class is definitely no mere spell-less druid. The class provides alter self and wild-shape like abilities and Form of the Mythical Beast to change into several different types of monsters, plus dragons and giants, plus the ability to use some of the monster’s special abilities that no spell would grant, like a hell hound’s breath weapon, centaur Run feat, or a lamia or sphinx’s spell-like abilities, to name a few.
On top of that, add favored form abilities like favored terrain and other bonuses, and a long list of special form powers the shapeshifter can choose from, like knockback, intimidating glare, terrifying howl, and many more.
With this class there’s no need to spend levels on wizard or druid, and no need to have a high Int, Wis or Cha score, letting you put your points into important combat stats like Str, Dex and Con. =)
Q: Question on the spell, Curse of the Epidemic. It’s an Anti-Paladin 5 spell. How? Anti-paladins only have 4th level spells. Is this supposed to be a 4th level spell?
A: You’re correct – it should be a 4th level anti-paladin spell!