View Full Version : [4E] The Engineer - A Martial Controller (WIP, PEACH)

2011-12-08, 01:57 PM
Preamble stuff:
So, I'm new to D&D 4E but I want to sell my playgroup on it over winter break. One thing I know they'd like is to run a campaign in our homebrew universe, which will hopefully be a lot more fun and balanced compared to its 3.5 edition counterpart in 4E (ie, the wizard and druid won't just curbstomp the fighters and rangers). The setting has some campaign specific stuff, but for the most part I'm imagining we can get by through refluffing and stretching imagination. Firearms are tricky but not impossible to homebrew, and from there the "gunslinger" archtypes can be Rangers, Rogues, and Warlords (with a homebrewed build option/paragon paths, if necessary).

The one thing that really can't be refluffed or done as a paragon path or build option is that one faction is a sort of steampunk/clockpunk industrial group. They explicitly don't have access to Arcane magic, instead relying entirely on technology (with a bit of divine power as well). I think we can just pretend the artificer is a martial and not arcane class for them, but they're lacking a Girl Genius-esque "mad scientist" inventor type, and it would be a lot of work to really stretch the Wizard or Bard to cover it.

So, I'm working on this class. The Engineer is everything that fantastic science can be: clockwork soldiers, Tesla guns, steam-powered jet packs, mirror death rays, bombs and grenades, etc. A few notes:

1) I know that science does not work that way. For inspirations, think of stuff like Girl Genius, Bioshock, Iron Man, and The Vinci from Rise of Legends.

2) Related to the above: I know this is going to seem like a serious stretch for what a martial class should be capable of: stunning people, throwing around Lightning, Fire, Thunder, and Poison damage likes its NBD, creating little metal army men seemingly out of nowhere. The argument I'd make is that, while its still fantastic and impossible fantasy science, it is fundamentally in-univese (and really, out of universe) not reliant on "Magic". There are rare ingredients, lots of unobtainium and phlebotonium powering the devices, but in the end it is the engineer's own brilliance, wit, and experience that lets all these components come together. It's a fine line, I know, but hopefully if you're reading this you're willing to roll with it. After all, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", right? :smallsmile:.

3) In terms of design, it seemed to me in my research that what distinguishes Martial classes from other power sources is an emphasis on action points (Warlord, specifically) and the fact that all of them, regardless of specialization, feel like they are a bit "striker-y" (and the arguably best strikers are Martial ones). The Engineer rolls with that, hoping to do a bit more impressive damage than an Invoker or Druid or certainly a Seeker. I'm also lifting some ideas from the 3.5 Factotum (one of my favoritest classes ever made in any system).

4) Speaking of Seekers, I tried really hard for this class to avoid a lot of the pitfalls of that class even though it is "similar" in that both of them are weapon-focused controllers. Part of that is being able to target defenses other than Reflex and Will, and part of that is having non-terrible class features and control options :smalltongue:.

5) This is a serious work in progress. As anyone who has designed a 4E class probably already knows, designing a new class is like designing an entire 3.5 sourcebook in terms of the raw amount of work required. So bear with me over the coming weeks and months as I pull it together.

6) Feedback, suggestions, and even user-submitted powers, feats, and paragon paths are 100% welcome! I'd be thrilled to have an assist from more established and experienced homebrewers :smallbiggrin:.

And with all that TL;DR stuff out of the way, it's on to the show!




Role: Controller - Your mad science can shock, stun, transform, incapacitate, and outright destroy all who oppose you. Whether you wade into the thick of combat with a wrench and a blade, or stand back and use gadets and guns from a distance, your enemies won't know what hit them. Depending on your choice of features and powers, you lean toward wither Leader or Striker as a secondary role.

Power Source: Martial - You have gained your powers through rigorous study of physics, alchemy, and chemistry. Also, madness. But mostly science.

Key Abilities: Intelligence, Charisma, Dexterity

Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, Leather, Hide, Chain
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple melee, simple ranged, a single martial weapon of your choice
Implements: Rods, toolkits
Bonus to Defense: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will

Hit Points at 1st Level: 10+constitution score
Hit points per level: 4
Healing Surges Per Day: 6+constitution modifier

Trained Skills: Engineering. From the class skills list below, choose four more trained skills at 1st level:
Diplomacy, Dungeoneering, Engineering, Endurance, Heal, History, Insight, Nature, Perception, Thievery

Class Features: Alchemy, Educated, Inspiration, Weapons Tech


Alchemy: You begin play with knowledge of how to create all alchemical items (see page ### for new alchemical items!). You pay 50% left to craft them.

Educated: You have a +1 bonus on all trained skills.

Inspiration: Engineers are known for their insight and brilliant “eureka!” moments. At 1st level you choose whether your inspiration is from your reflexes and battlefield experience, or from your charm and self confidence.

Battlefield Engineer: You have a +1 bonus to your fortitude defense and your healing surge value. These bonuses increase to +2 at 11th level and +3 at 21st level. In addition, you may spend an action point to push an enemy within 5 squares a number of spaces equal to your Dexterity modifier. That creature gains vulnerability to all damage equal to your dexterity modifier until the end of your next turn.

Dazzling Inventor: You have a +1 bonus to your initiative checks and reflex defense. This bonus increases to +2 at 11th level and +3 at 21st level. In addition, you may spend an action point to give an enemy within 5 squares a penalty to saving throws and all defenses equal to your Charisma modifier until the end of your next turn.

Weapons Tech: The key implements of the engineer are the rods and toolkits you use to create various gadgets and constructs, but you know how to fight as well, and you loving modify and enhance the weapons you carry. Any feat, power, or effect that enhances your implement attacks may also enhance your weapon attacks. For example, the Toolkit Expertise feat (page ###) would provide a bonus to your implement attacks with a toolkit, and with all weapon attacks as long as a toolkit is in your possession. When you make an attack with a weapon, you may use that weapon’s enhancement bonus on your implements, whichever is higher. When you score a critical hit with a weapon attack, you may use the bonus from your implement or your weapon (your choice).

Commentary: Alchemy is a nod to giving them some sort of ritual casting without actually giving them ritual casting. Possibly unnecessary.

Educated is a sort of inverse Skill Versatility, and is honestly mostly flavortext.

Inspiration is the meat of the class's features. Originally those abilities triggered whenever you spent an action point, which I decided seemed a bit much when the class got to Paragon and got to stack those bonuses with Paragon bonuses and with some feats. It's an alternative use to an action point now, but I'm curious if its strong enough to compete with an extra action? At any rate, the idea that hopefully comes across is that Battlefield Engineers are a bit more robust and striker-y, while Dazzling Inventors are "true controllers" (and their feat support bends them toward Leadership).

Weapons Tech was hard to word. Like the Artificer I wanted to have them juggle implements if they wanted full versatility; basically as you build an engineer you can specialize in just melee, just ranged, or just implement, but you are slightly nerfing your character to do so. I'm fine with implement juggling, but I hate that implement jugglers also have to sink multiple feats and a ton of their wealth into multiple implements. Weapons Tech is designed to fix that; you get the best implement money can buy, and take all the implement feats, and all those apply to any old sword or crossbow you pick up. Thoughts on this one?


Armor Buster
You make armor for a living; you know just how to break it open
At-will * Martial, Weapon
Std; Melee Weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Int vs. AC
Hit: 1[W] + int modifier damage, and the target takes a -2 penalty to all defenses until the start of your next turn.
Level 21: 2[W] + int modifier damage

Blowtorch Blast
This probably wasn’t the intended use for this tool...but it is effective
At-will * Martial, Fire, Implement
Std; Close Blast 3
Target: All creatures in blast
Attack: Int vs. Ref
Hit: 1d8+intelligence modifier fire damage, and ongoing fire damage 2

Level 21: 2d8+intelligence modifier damage, and ongoing fire damage 5.

Cunning Strike
You hit your opponent where it hurts
At-will; Martial, Weapon
Std; Melee or Ranged Weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Int +1 vs. AC
Hit: 1[W]+int modifier + dex modifier. If you have an action point remaining, add +2 damage.
Level 21: 2[W]+int+dex modifier, and +5 if you have an action point remaining.
Special: You may use this attack in place of a basic attack.

You lob a small but extremely bright and noisy explosive that scatters your foes
At-will * Martial, Fire, Implement
Std; Area burst 1 within 10
Target: all creatures in burst
Attack: Int vs. Ref
Hit: 1d6+int modifier fire damage, and you may slide each hit creature one square.
Level 21: 2d6+int modifier fire damage

Transistor Cannon
You use your ranged weapon to fire a series of small, disorienting charges of electricity.
At-will; Martial, Lightning, Weapon
Std; Ranged Weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Int vs. Ref
Hit: 1[W]+int modifier lightning damage, and the target takes a -2 penalty on attack rolls until the end of your next turn.
Level 21: 2[W]+intelligence modifier lightning damage


Flashbang Grenade
You lob a high-energy grenade that leaves enemies blinded and reeling
Encounter * Martial, Force, Implement
Std; Area burst 1 within 10
Target: all creatures in burst
Attack: Int versus Fortitude
Hit: 1d6+intelligence modifier force damage, and the target is deafened and blinded until the end of your next round.

Proximity Mines
You scatter proximity mines across the battlefield. Enemies who trigger these mines are blasted to bits
Encounter * Martial, Fire, Implement
You create two land mines in squares within 5 of you; these mines last until the end of your next turn. If an enemy enters of leaves those squares during its turn, you make the following secondary attack.
Free Reaction; When an enemy triggers landmine
Secondary Attack: Intelligence+2 vs. Ref
Hit: 2d10+intelligence modifier fire damage.
Dazzling Inventor: You instead place a number of mines equal to your charisma modifier +1.

Razor Tripwire
You fire a razor-barbed wire around a foe’s legs, causing wracking pains and hobbling their movement
Encounter * Martial, Implement
Std; Ranged 10
Target: One creature
Attack: Intelligence versus Reflex
Hit: 1d10+intelligence modifier damage, and the target is slowed and takes ongoing damage 5 (save ends both)
Battlefield Engineer: This attack deals additional damage equal to your dexterity modifier, and the target also takes a penalty to damage rolls equal to your dexterity modifier while it is slowed.

Sledgehammer Strike
You unleash a series of attacks with heavily reinforced weaponry, sending opponents flying.
Encounter * Martial, Weapon
Std; Melee or Ranged Weapon
Target: One or two creatures
Attack: Intelligence versus AC
Hit: 1[W]+intelligence modifier damage, and you push the target two squares and knock it prone.

Curare Dart
You fire a dart from your weapon that paralyzes your victim.
Daily * Martial, Weapon
Std; Ranged Weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Intelligence versus Fortitude
Hit: 1[W]+intelligence modifier damage, and the target is stunned until the end of your next turn and immobilized (Save Ends).
Miss: The target is immobilized until the end of your next turn.

Knockout Grenade
A small eggshell grenade releases a cloud of gas that stupefies your enemies.
Daily * Martial, Implement
Std; Area Burst 1 within 10
Target: All creatures in burst
Attack: Intelligence versus Will
Hit: The targets are slowed (save ends). The first time they fail a save, they fall unconscious (save ends).
Miss: The target is slowed until the end of your next turn.

Tesla Cannon
You draw a clockwork pistol that jolts a target with electricity, continuing to shock them long after you take your finger off the trigger.
Daily * Martial, Implement, Lightning, Reliable
Std; Ranged 10
Target: One creature
Attack: Intelligence versus Reflex
Hit: 2d8+intelligence modifier lightning damage. Whenever the target takes a minor, move, or standard action, they take 5 lightning damage after that action is complete (save ends).

Suppression Cannon
You drop an automated turret nearby. This turret’s attacks don’t deal much damage, but the relentless spray of rivets forces your foes to defend themselves at the expense of offense.
Daily * Martial, Implement, Summoning
Std; Ranged 5
You summon a turret in an unoccupied square within range that lasts until the end of the encounter. The turret has speed 0 and a +2 bonus to AC and Fortitude defenses. Once per round, you may direct the turret to make the following attack:

Minor action; Ranged 10
Target: One creature
Attack: Intelligence versus Reflex
Hit: 1d4+intelligence modifier damage, and the target can’t make opportunity attacks or gain combat advantage until the end of your next turn.

2011-12-08, 01:58 PM
Reserved the 1st: Powers

2011-12-08, 01:59 PM
Reserved the 2nd: MOAR powers

2011-12-08, 02:00 PM
Reserved the 3rd: Paragon Paths! (and possibly even more powers?)

2011-12-08, 02:01 PM
Reserved the 4th: Feats, Epic Destiny, New Alchemical Items (???), and New Implements

2011-12-08, 02:03 PM
Reserved the 5th: Because its better to be cautious and be able to do extra stuff later. Seriously soooo many powers to design.

Mando Knight
2011-12-08, 04:21 PM
Preamble stuff:
After all, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", right? :smallsmile:.
You forgot the Heterodyne Corollary. (http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20081205) It's why there's a lot of tech-themed powers available to the Artificer. Even has a paragon path for building yourself a sweet robot arm.

2011-12-09, 02:36 PM
You forgot the Heterodyne Corollary. (http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20081205) It's why there's a lot of tech-themed powers available to the Artificer. Even has a paragon path for building yourself a sweet robot arm.

I forgot that strip, lol. Is that a gentle way of saying that re-fluffing a wizard makes more sense? :smalltongue:

Mando Knight
2011-12-09, 06:59 PM
I forgot that strip, lol. Is that a gentle way of saying that re-fluffing a wizard makes more sense? :smalltongue:

I'm saying that if you're willing to relax how much Arcana plays into it, the Artificer already exists, and does almost exactly what you're looking for.

2011-12-09, 07:23 PM
Some other comments besides "refluffing actually does do what you want:" :smalltongue:

The Battlefield Engineer option kind of sucks. The +1 fort per tier is decent, but the +1 surge isn't very powerful, and the action point option will never be used. It doesn't compete, at all, with an extra standard action; there's likely to be powers that push DEX or more that actually deal damage, which will likely mean more than the vulnerability. If you made the push/vulnerable be in addition to the normal stuff, that might be OK, but that's more PP stuff. The fact that this option uses DEX as a secondary stat when INT is already your primary makes it even less attractive.

The Dazzling Inventor option is vastly stronger and is clearly the superior of the two. +1 ref per tier is, again, decent, and since it's to an already-high defense that actually makes it more valuable still. The initiative bonus helps this INT-based class compensate for its probable lower DEX, since DEX doesn't really do anything else for it. In addition, the action point ability might occasionally actually be used as is, though I'd almost call it too strong, since stacking save penalties can be devastating.

Weapons Tech is kind of odd, and I'm not sure I understand its purpose. Why not just let them use any weapon they're proficient with as an implement, drop rods as implements, and make toolkits a special weapon? Or did you mean toolkits to be something like ki foci (in which case, you should look at them and mimic the wording)?

I notice that none of your at-will powers have any real control ability at all. They're just blaster-style powers or give minor penalties; none of them actually have any chance of preventing an enemy from attempting to attack or limiting their options. They seem more suited for an AoE striker than a controller, IMO.

The L1 encounter powers are better. I feel Razor Tripwire shouldn't have a (save ends) effect, though, as that's the purview of daily powers.

Knockout Grenade's very existence turns the Dazzling Inventor option from strong to "outrageously broken." Sleep, which you obviously based it on, starts strong and goes to that level as ways to stack save penalties appear, but you're giving a way to give a major save penalty (as much as -5!) at level 1, and it'll only get worse from there. One of those things surely must be changed.

Tesla Cannon's function is kind of odd. Up to 15 extra damage per round until save? That's too much for a L1 power. I'd probably just make it do ongoing 5 lightning, and maybe (but probably not) daze (save ends both).

Chainsaw Hobbit
2011-12-10, 09:05 PM
I can't think of a good Team Fortress 2 joke.

Anyway, this is awesome. One of the best martial controllers I have seen yet.

2011-12-10, 11:24 PM
I haven't played 4E enough to give a good gauge on how powerful/less it is, but the concept it nice. Like a non-broken Aritificer. I was actually thinking of something like that for 3.x, a rogue/fighter like character that relies on gadgets to fight. If you ever played an MMO called Priston Tale, there's a class in it that is similar, with his skills based on throwing grenades and special weapons.

There WILL have a Sentry power at some level, right?