Afternoon of the Wolf
Mechanist Strategy Guide
A rather curious class, Mechanist has a lot of utility spells, a couple of buffs, no direct damage spells but a couple of control spells. Thematically it all comes together as a mage of time and space, and its role in the group is probably best described as control/support. A party traveling with one of these will virtually never be troubled by a physical obstacle, and those buff spells are comparable to a Trickster’s repertoire. As for its control spells – not terribly useful against groups, but quite devastating against single opponents.
Most of your skills rely on Fai, except Telekinesis (prereq to a few skills) and Blink (one of your two defence skills) require Int and Dex respectively. If you’re going full Mechanist or full caster, Int and Fai at d10s will do fine. You can get away with a d6 or d8 in Int, though probably not Fai. Just bear in mind the inherent risks of d4/d4 in physical stats, though as a Mechanist you do have a few tricks to keep yourself healthy. Rogue/Mechanists will want Dex and then to pick either Int or Fai, though with a tighter, more-focused build, taking both could work. Int will have better synergy with other rogue utility skills however.
Mechanist skills tend to come in a bit on the costly side exp-wise, but since most of them are utility and not set against PC defences, you can get away with investing smaller amounts. This way you can diversify enough to build up a decent synergy level – though you don’t necessarily need a lot of that either. Some of your skills do benefit more than others by being as high as possible however, such as your defence skills. Overall it can be quite hard to choose, as there are few lemons here – nearly all of them have their uses. Keep the purpose of your build in mind when choosing, as any unused skills are going to be a serious drag here. You can expect to have lower skill levels compared to other classes (making you vulnerable to Channellers) and it will be a bit harder to rack up synergy, but you also won’t need it as much.
Black Hole: Currently sounds a lot cooler than it is. When it works, it’s really useful for positioning large groups of foes for concentrated Area of Effect attacks from an allied Battlemage (or dual-classing). Unfortunately, not only is it costly to cast, but it’s costly to acquire for 5exp per rank, with Telekinesis (4) and Portal (3) as prerequisites. To make matters worse it’s opposed by Endurance and Sprint, so warriors, rogues or anyone savvy enough to invest even a few points has a good chance to resist. Very tricky and costly to use.
Blink: Effectively a rogue skill and the only traditional defensive skill in the Mechanist arsenal. It comes with the added bonus of being a short-range travel utility for bypassing obstacles, which is a nice bonus for its relatively low cost. Attached to Dodge and having the same exp cost, it’s a nice way to bump your defence into “untouchable” without having to throw too many points into Sprint, but mind that you’ll be burning MP every time you use it.
Flight: The cheapest Mechanist skill (1xp), worth taking if you end up sinking points into the more expensive Telekinesis. Obviously it’s a handy spell for getting around, and it can double as an (almost) infallible defence against melee attacks in combat by letting you glide out of the way (for a modest MP cost). Investing heavily in it isn’t really necessary as it only makes you go faster (and thus conserves MP a bit better) but it’s nice for bumping your synergy bonus.
Haste/Slow: A very powerful spell, though you really have to pay for it. Double any one of your ally’s output (and mobility), or halve that of an enemy. This is one of the spells that makes Mechanists especially deadly against a lone opponent. Pretty much the only counters to this are anti-magic Channellers (who can easily afford to outcast you) and other Mechanists, although neutralising your opposite is hardly a waste of your time given the sheer impact they can have. Runs on a duration, so only a modest exp investment is necessary (reliably hit 4 rounds and it’ll do). Remember that at higher levels you can potentially boost its output by dividing the duration. With no prereqs it’s virtually a must-have.
Hold/Free Person: An even more devastating spell when dealing with lone threats, without the benefit of a buff (though it provides a counter for Slow). You’re pinned when you cast it, and they can still use Minor spells (such as Anti-magic and most defensive spells) but Attacks are pretty much right out, and that’s a pretty big deal. Bit cheaper than Haste, and also typically not useful against multiple opponents but it may still be viable depending on circumstance. Overall it’s less versatile than Haste/Slow, but with the right build (in the right campaign) it can be far more effective. You also don’t really need it at that high a level to be effective, though it definitely helps.
Impenetrable Field: A cute little defensive spell, relatively cheap to acquire (3exp) though the MP cost is noteworthy. While it effectively runs on a duration, it does have the added benefit of soaking damage with block, allowing a smaller investment than most defensive skills to be effective, but it’s still worth sinking levels in it especially if it’s your only defensive skill.
Increase/Reduce Size: A nice buff, nowhere near as good as Haste but a shade cheaper to acquire (4exp) and cast. It’s a bit of a poor man’s Increase/Reduce stat, though a bit less versatile in that it can only modify str/dex and does so to one at the expense of the other. For warriors and rogues, that’s all you really need (most can easily work around the resultant penalties in a fight), and shrinking in size is nice for any class whose key defence skill is dex-based. You could possibly shrink enemy warriors too, though growing rogues isn’t quite as effective. The utility purposes are numerous as well, not to mention potential for GM headaches – it works on objects as well after all, giving you plenty of opportunities to screw with physics. Like Haste/Slow, don’t forget that it can be divided, to well and truly mess with physics, shrink and blow up your fellow party members to your heart’s content.
Permanence: An interesting spell, at first glance nothing more than a curiosity – most spells only last as long as they need to, right? Costing 3exp a pop and having Phase Shift as a prereq makes it a bit painful to make it work, as your Permanence roll needs to exceed that of your spell rolls. But permanent Flight for only 2 off your MP? Not bad… Permanent Charm? Technical feasible. Permanent Hold Person, cast at low power? Cheaper way to eliminate tough opponents. Chances are your caster allies will be lining up to have their choice spells Perm’d, so whether or not you have this skill at a decent level, even though it does nothing by itself, can seriously affect how your party rolls. All around great for utility.
Phase Shift: Mostly a utility spell. That DR2 vs physical is nice against rats but it’s barely a knick off warrior attacks, whereas Impenetrable Field or Flight can do the job quite fine. That vulnerability of 2 to spells pretty much negates any defensive benefit unless your GM only likes fielding fightery types and/or necromancers. So you really only want to be using this for scouting and bypassing obstacles, with the aid of portals, though note that you’re still subject to gravity (though in theory it could cushion the impact of a fall) and visible to sentries. It’s cheap, though, and the prereq for Permanence.
Portal: If you’re planning to move your party around, this is the skill you need. The fact that it keys off Telekinesis, which is fairly expensive, makes it difficult to advance, but you only really need it at low levels, just so that you can bridge a gap or cross some kind of obstacle (provided you can cross it yourself with your other movement skills). Middling power levels open up a few more tactical options if you have time to set up before an encounter (putting your archers on a high ledge for example). After that it’s unlikely that you’ll need a portal going hundreds of metres, so probably not worth a heavy investment in a high level game – though people who have played either Portal game may disagree with me.
Telekinesis: A neat utility skill with some small combat application, it’s costly (4exp) but a couple of good skills do key off it. It’s also the only reason to take Int on a Mechanist, which is a bit of a pain. Used with finesse it’s cheap MP-wise and great for bypassing obstacles, setting traps, and whatever else your imagination can conjure. Its crude use is effectively an attack, though terrain obstacles might sometimes need a hard shove that your warrior is unable or unwilling to provide. Used in combat it depends what’s at hand, though using it to propel blades or missiles could be worthwhile (though it depends what your GM comes up with for damage, if they even let you use it this way). Not very cost-effective at 6MP per shot, but throwing people at walls to stun them or off cliffs (opposed only by their sheer mass, magic resistance or anti-magic) can be worthwhile. Some mathematical skill may be required by the player, to use this skill.
Will of Oxdoro: This is effectively the mass version of Hold Person – not quite as useful against a single powerful opponent or a horde of weak enemies, but highly effective against party-sized groups. It does require a bit of coordination to use effectively, however.
Follower of Oxdoro is an obvious choice for a specialised Mechanist, and that bonus will go a long way way if you’ve spread out into a fair few utility skills. Will of Travaer doesn’t really work as you have too few invertible spells, even though they’re among your best. Gadgeteer is another Mechanist skill and it works well with Telekinesis in particular, though it’s generally more useful for Rogue/Mechanists due to the Locks/Traps bonus. Pocket Dimension is alright for securing valuables, not much to write home about but nice for flavour (thiefy rogues/mechanists will likely find it useful too). Otherwise you’re relegated to whichever “Profession” or social abilities suit your Obs/Sense/Sprint, with few concept synergies aside from perhaps Masonry.
Dual-Classing a Mechanist
As said before, there are some direct tie-ins with Rogue skills so it’s fairly natural to put the two classes together, though it can be tricky to balance as Rogue requires high investment in singular skills and a decent synergy level, whereas Mechanist spells are expensive. The various utility spells, especially for movement, can be useful for putting a rogue in a position where they can use their attacks to maximum effect, or other tricks in order to bypass obstacles for the party.
If you’re looking for something less trickstery (in the conceptual sense) and more wizardly, a splash of Mechanist spells, with their general utility, work well with other caster classes to give them more of an arcane, utilitarian flavour rather than a necessarily religious one. This also opens up more options for Perming spells without having to rely on allies.