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The Yellow Wizard » The Bar » Bloggards » Why, what have we here? Quark's thoughts on the investigator

Why, what have we here? Quark's thoughts on the investigator

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Great Adventurer
Great Adventurer
Okay, this is something a little different: one of the hybrid classes. I personally despise them, because they look, at first glance, very, very strong compared to the other things. The big offenders are really Arcanist (which basically makes Wizard/sorcerer Obsolete), the Brawler (which is such a stupidly good dip no martial is ever going to not take it) Bloodrager (which makes barbarian obsolete). The whole book they first appear in is riddled with errors and seems poorly done (So much so that they even stuffed up the title page!), so I feel mostly justified. But, then again, maybe I just need to do a proper analysis on them to really compare.

So, let's compare.

Basic Stuff

HD, saves, BAB and skills: You keep the same BAB and HD of both of them, as indicative of a not pure martial. You get a good will save (which neither get) and reflex (which both get), but poor fort (which alchemist gets). The poor fort is largely offset by the Poison Resistance ability you get later, so you' very definitely ahead there. Skills are averaged between them which... ultimately ends up mean you've got more skill points than either, since a lot of your things base off Intelligence. Seem ahead of the grade thus far.

Proficiencies: You get rogue proficiencies as opposed to alchemist ones. Winning.

Alchemy: So here you, uh, basically get one of the best things about being an alchemist. The extracts. Sure, no bombs, but it's still kind of like full 2nd degree casting.

Inspiration: +1d6 on all knowledge skills forever. Or a large pool for other skills, if you care, or a relatively small pool for hitting stuff/saves. This is pretty incredible. Heck, it's worth a dip if you want to be good at skills, since you get this at level 1.

Trapfinding: It's pretty terrible, but it's a rogue thing, I guess.

Poison Lore: Use poisons well. Same as the alchemist thing, but slightly better. Comes out ahead of either here, since it's free, and rogues need a talent.

Poison resistance: Way to shore up your bad save. Feels kind of like an excuse to give all good saves without actually giving it.

Investigator Talents: This merits a section of its own.

Keen Recollection: Nifty. Kind of bard-y.

Trap Sense: Rogue thing that's unremarkable.

Studied Combat/Strike: Rare insight bonus to attack and damage which means, uh, you effectively have better than full BAB, at the cost of a move action. Oh no. End it early to effectively auto-sneak attack. Still arguably as good as a bomb, if not ranged. Losing a single die of damage seems worth it.

True Inspiration: Out of combat, free +2d6 to everything instead of just +1d6 to some things. Perhaps underwhelming for a capstone, but it's still basically a +7 bonus on average to everything you do, ever. Including initiative, I guess.

Investigator Talents

Continuing my usual rating system of Excellent, reasonable and blah.

Alchemist Discovery: Get what kind of looks like most alchemist discoveries that aren't bombs altering. Most of these are pretty good, and the Infusion Discovery is nearly vital.

Amazing Inspiration Do d8s instead of d6s to all your inspiration stuff. Super sweet.

Applied Engineering: Spend inspiration to use knowledge (Engineering) in place of perception or strength check to break stuff.  Amusingly, this makes you unarguably the best character in the game at breaking things.

Blinding Strike: Arguably better than or as good as the blinding critical feat. Nice that it' super easy to do reliably instead of needing to wait for a crit, but still not fabulous. Beats the advanced rogue talent to do the same thing by a good chunk (later access, but higher save + no prereqs)

Combat Inspiration: Halves inspiration use on battle actions. Can't argue with that.

Confusing Strike: Requires stupidly high level, for pretty good confusion chance. Definitely confuses it for one round, so that's kind of nifty. Seems worth it if you haven't got anything left you want.

Deafening strike: Reasonable chance at deafening something, and definitely a round. Kind of bad debuff anyway.

Device Talent: Limitless inspiration on UMD. Ultimately redundant, but pretty sweet if you use magic items regularly.

Domino Effect: Can you say Cleave? This is how you can get it to work. If you have multiple opponents, it's the way to always 'sneak attack' them.

Effortless Aid: Aid another more quickly. Sometimes worth using the inspiration to make it better, if you care and optimise for it.

Eidectic Recollection: You're now better than a bard at knowledges. Congratulations.

Empathy Roll twice on sense motive and take best. All the time. The poor rogue talent is only one or two times per day. Combine with Snake Style for CHEESE. Also read minds.

Expanded Inspiration: Even more options for endless inspiration, including the Big Three of Perception, Sense Motive and Diplomacy.

Greater Combat Inspiration: Endless inspiration with one weapon. This is your final choice, almost certainly.

Hidden Agendas: High level for fairly terrible benefit of reroll inspiration dice on secret message passing or making forgeries. Free inspiration on saves vs Divination, which is very cool, but of debatable use.

Inspirational Expertise: Identify a creature to give friends +4 insight on attack rolls vs that creature for a round. Depends a little bit on your party, but worth considering. Doesn't stack with your own studied strike, and probably not worth it if you normally hit anyway/have long lasting fights.

Inspired Alertness: Uncanny dodge, but you spend inspiration.

Inspired Intelligence: Don't need to be trained in knowledges to get endless inspiration. So take the skill ranks, you have enough of them, and you ought to have a rank in everything anyway to make the check.

Inspired intimidator: Add a round to your intimate duration. Might be worth it if you Thug Rogue multiclass with it, but otherwise blah.

Item Lore: Apparently, just look at an item and know what it is (if you make the spellcraft check). Almost, but not quite, as good as arcane sight. Of course, it's only really necessary if you don't have any other way of using detect magic, so it's hard to rate it well.

Perceptive Tracking: Use perception instead of survival to follow tracks. Pretty sure if it was an issue your GM would be nice and let you use that anyway, but otherwise, you're a freakin' skill monkey! Just put some ranks in it. The DCs aren't that tough.

Prolonged Study: Double duration of studied combat. I'd be surprised if your combats went on long enough to merit this, and it's high level as well.

Quick Study: Swift action instead of move action to activate studied combat. Much more friendly on your action economy, and should be one of your early talents.

Repositioning Strike: Free reposition on successful studied strike. Tactically useful but varies depending on your party.

Rogue Talent: Unfortunately, most of these options are not especially good, and are largely the terrible few times per day reroll on some skills.

Sapping Offensive: Hit something and it can't make AoOs. Undeniably useful. Heck, you can even do it from range and let the rest of the party in on it safely, and it doubles as an escape route.

Sickening Offensive: Automatically sicken stuff if you hit it.

Slowing strike: On studied strike, save or lose 5 feet of movement until healed. Very, very blah. At this level, Sickening Offensive is far superior.

Stealing Strike: Try to steal on a studied strike. This one won't always be useful, and there are probably better things to pick anyway. Skipable.

Studied Defense: Attack bonus is AC bonus instead. Can potentially easily make you unhitable if you focus on your AC. Worth at least considering sometimes.

Tenacious inspiration: Roll inspiration twice and take best. Probably only worth it if you've also got Amazing Inspiration.

Timed Strike: Yay, an extra 1 damage per round you don't use studied strike, once you eventually use it. Seems... utterly pointless.

Toppling Strike: Free trip when you studied strike. Can't say no to extra action economy.

Unconventional Inspiration: Infinite inspiration on one skill. Guess it's okay if for whatever reason it's not covered by one of the rather better big packs and you use it a lot.

Underworld Inspiration: Infinite inspiration on a big lot of roguey skills. Not to be sniffed at.


Well, let's see what you *don't* get from this compared to the two base classes. Compared to basic rogue, you're losing Evasion and improved uncanny dodge, and access to some of the nicer rogue talents (although only a few are actually particularly remarkable). URogue also also loses Debilitating strike, Finesse Training and Skill Unlocks, although inspiration easily makes up for the unlocks, and studied combat effectively replicates debilitating strike. Alchemist loses bombs and some of the better discoveries, but at least you get a decent chunk of the nice ones. And some of the rapid alchemy things. Oh no.

So, then what it does get. Ridiculous skill bonuses, a potential hit bonus higher than a proper martial without any effort, nearly an effective all good saves (assuming most for saves are poison or disease {and disease is largely irrelevant}), and access to both of the fairly major niches of the other two classes. All up? I think my opinion on it being almost good enough to obsolete both classes is completely valid. Not to mention that a number of the things it does kind of tread on Bard's toes a lot.


Well, even though the Investigator is overpowered, might as well do archetypes for completeness, using the same system as before

Cipher: You lose a bunch of talents, all the poison and trap stuff for being really hard to find, and also evasion. Also apparently bluff doesn't help you hide. You lose most of the good infinite inspiration things. Don't think it's worth it, really, although inattention blindness is hilarious.

Conspirator: If you're paranoid, it's probably worth it. You basically swap normal infinite inspiration for underworld inspiration talent, but can take normal back. Big bonus on bluff instead of trappy nonsense, and can find scrying sensors easily in place of a talent. Kind of blah otherwise.

Cryptid Scholar: Lose poison for extra monster ID capabilities. Buff party when you ID a monster instead of buffing yourself with studied combat/strike, which ultimately will give better benefits so long as at least 2 people use them actively. Although you can't take amazing things like Sickening Strike, so probably not worth it overall.

Cult Hunter: Get better bonuses vs a specific cult/its summoned creatures (Changeable) but worse benefits vs everything else. Depends on your campaign if this is worth it.

Dread Investigator: Lose poison stuff for animate dead type things and undead effect resist things. Delays your inspiration and studied stuff a bit, but also lets you fake that things are coming back as undead, which is hilarious. More an NPC thing, like many necrotic things.

Empericist: Use Int in place of normal modifier for several big skills, which makes them all easier, in place of poisons. Be good vs illusions in place of making alchemicals quickly. Capstone's terrible, but it's unlikely this will impact things. Seems like a good default option (And frankly fits better anyway)

Forensic Physician: Be very good at heal skill, identify creatures by blood, and figure out what happened 'cause of blood splatters. Lose 2 talents and trappy nonsense. Not worth it, not for heal.

Gravedigger: Lose poison and trappy stuff for occultist stuff and anti-undead stuff. Worthwhile, if you're against the undead regularly.

Hallucinist: Lose most of your talents, poison stuff and trap stuff for good senses, anti-drug stuff and multi-target studied combat. Too many talents lost for this to ever be worth it.

Infiltrator: Be very good at disguise in place of poison stuff and trapfinding. Disguise is one of the top skills, so it's worth considering.

Lamplighter: Bunch of light themed abilities and excellent initiative stuff in place of poison stuff, trap sense and keen recollection. These are pretty decent all around.

Majordomo: Yay, be a bureaucrat? Lose alchemy for basically a cavalier's tactician, but slightly better. Basically, nope. Do better at running a kingdom and stuff in place of trap sense. Feels very NPCish, 'cause this isn't very impressive.

Mastermind: Immunity to divination in place of a talent, lose trap nonsense for making friends actually decent at diplomacy and lose swift alchemy for ability to use inspiration on AC. Seems pretty great, when you consider that you're immune to a big bunch of psychic magic now.

Profiler: Pretend to be a psychologist. Becomes nearly perfect at telling past happenings at high levels, and can't be flanked, in place of poison and trap nonsense and a talent. Okay, I guess.

Psychic Detective: Pretend to be a 2nd degree psychic in place of alchemy, and be good against psychics in place of poison. Probably actually worth it, really.

Questioner: You've got bard spells instead of alchemy now, and are super good at knowledges. Lose poison lore for knowledge bonus, including the very nifty eidetic recollection talent for free. If you ever wanted to be obscenely good at knowledges, this is the way to go. Bard spells aren't shabby at all, either.

Relentless Inspector: Lose poison immunity, trapfinding, swift alchemy and 2 talents intimidate bonus, will save bonus and ability to effectively get +2 attack and damage vs 1 creature per day. Skip.

Skeptic: Be good against possessions and haunts, including eventual immunity to fear, in place of a talent, poison resistance, trapfinding and swift alchemy. Kind of depends on your campaign, because otherwise it's unremarkable.

Sleuth: Lose alchemy for some terrible deeds and grit. Staggeringly bad, but would at least pull it in line with other classes.

Spiritualist: Lose alchemy for some blah spell-likes. Be very good vs ghosts and negative energy in place poison resistance, and then just be all round good defensively with rerolls on any saves and potentially massive AC/save bonuses. It would be great... if it wasn't for losing alchemy.

Steel Hound: You lose poison lore and swift alchemy in exchange for guns. Totally worth it if you can fit it in with other archetypes.

So, in conclusion, I do still feel like I'm justified in slamming the investigator, because it really does tread on a lot of toes. Bard, Alchemist, Rogue, even just plain martials to an extent. I hope these little thoughts are at least useful to other people. At least it's got its own sort of flavour that only the bloodrager has as well; you can actually think of a character and feel like they'd be best suited to an investigator.

Last edited by Quark on Tue Nov 08, 2016 10:38 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Well, I've finished this now. I'm thinking of looking at the other hybrid classes to see how horribly overly strong they were for sure. Does anyone have any preference for where I start?

As just an aside, yurk. So. Much. Errata. Just litters the archetypes and talents from that book.

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