Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Questions About Class: the Inquisitor

Welcome back readers! Here is another entry in our Questions about Class series, this time focusing on the inquisitor. As you may (or may not) know, Flying Pincushion Games is about to release its next book, Into the Breach: The Inquisitor.  So we thought it was a good time that I, Kiel Howell, sit down with fellow Pincushioneer Jeffery Harris to talk about the class.

KH: First of all, thank you for taking the time to sit down and answer these questions!

JH: My pleasure Kiel, thank you for taking the time to lay down some excellent questions about the inquisitor class!

KH: Can you give the readers a little about yourself and your role at The Flying Pincushion?

JH: Well sure, I am of course Jeff Harris, co-owner, CFO, sometimes editor and lead designer here at The Flying Pincushion.  I have been gaming for more than 24 years, but have only been in the industry officially for about two and a half years.  I am married to a lovely wife and live in a house with as many cats as there are core classes.

KH: So what exactly is an inquisitor? Is it someone who tortures folks for religious reasons (ala Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition)?

JH: The Spanish Inquisition is likely the default, go to, idea that many folk have.  Thankfully the inquisitor in Pathfinder need not fall into this trope.  While they can be zealous religious fanatics, there is an infinite variety of ways to see the class.  From skilled detectives of the many goods, to vengeance sworn monster hunters.  With the right inspiration and  careful building/character design, inquisitors can be nearly anything the player can brain storm up a story for.

KH: Why does this stand as a whole class to you? Would it have been better as an archetype of the Paladin or perhaps a type of Cleric?  Personally I think the inquisitor stands up very well as a class of its own.  

JH: While a paladin could be a zealous hound of the faith, their paladin code would restrict them from accomplishing any dirty or nasty deeds that need doing.  Conversely clerics seem to (as a class) trade much of their ability to be a skilled character out for their powerful magic and domain powers.  That is not to say a cleric cannot be a skilled character, as a class it is simply not their main focus.  Thus the inquisitor seems to fall somewhere in between, with more divine power than a paladin in terms of spells, but less combat ability, and far more skill breadth than a cleric, but with less divine magic.  Overall the class seems to have a little bit of both paladin and cleric, merged with the practical mindset and broad skills set of rogues.

KH: What exactly are judgments and what are they supposed to represent?

JH: As far as I can tell, a judgment is meant to represent an inquisitor calling down divine justice (or vengeance) against their foes or providing divine reward to themselves or allies.  In general I suspect judgments are the physical manifestation of the inquisitors faith in his or her god, and the rewards for said service.

KH: Some of the abilities seem a little out of place, like Monster Lore and Slayer, what are your thoughts on the cohesiveness of the class?

JH:  To me this is an issue stemming from what fantasy settings commonly employ.  Because it is not just humans that populate the world, it makes perfect sense (in the context of say, Golarion) that inquisitors would have to deal with monsters and non-human foes as part of their gods church.  Slayer, while mechanically sound, perhaps suffers from a less than perfect name for the ability.  To recap the questions, I am fine with Monster Lore and Slayer, I see them as just extension of placing a real world influenced class into a fantasy setting, and its adaptation to that move.

KH: This class seems to suffer from lone wolf syndrome, in that there are abilities that allow the inquisitor to treat allies as if they possessed (without receiving the bonuses from) any teamwork feat she possesses, so she can effectively act alone. Does this work? Is it going against the flavor of the class?

JH:  The “lone wolf” issue is one that I also see as a bit of a problem.  From a theme perspective, the “lone heretic hunter” works nicely, but Pathfinder and table-top RPG’s in general are not solo games, and more than ever now in Pathfinder teamwork is a must.  So, from a game perspective, the thematic power of solo tactics is less than ideal.  It can be worked around, and worked with, but it does leave a bit of a bitter taste in the rest of the parties mouths when only Bob Lone Wolf the inquisitor benefits from his Teamwork feats and everyone else is just a placeholder.  That said, if the players decide to more heavily invest in Teamwork feats, the pain can be mitigated somewhat.

KH: The way the class itself reads, there isn’t much flexibility for what type of character you can play...

JH: I personally feel that while this is true, the build of a class does not prevent interesting and unique inquisitor characters.  I tend to feel that if the chassis is a bit limited, which here one could indeed say that, then it is HOW the inquisitor progresses, and how the player RP’s their character that will make them stand out.  The same issue could be said of a fighter, but there are many levels of detail available (nearly limitless really) beyond just what the inquisitor class ability table provides that can and does make inquisitor characters interesting and unique.  I feel behind every inquisitor is a great story of WHAT made them into what they are, and given the class focus and flavour, those stories can indeed be amazing.  I dare say that is just as valid, perhaps more, than flexibility that is built into the class design. The option of taking specific inquisitions can help support a detailed and interesting inquisitor, and provide more support for their detailed backstory and personality elements (more about that in a later question though.)

KH: The inquisitor gets spells from both the cleric list and the sorcerer/wizard list (such as true strike), yet they are obviously a divine inspired class. What’s the deal?

JH: I suspect this is another of those issues that comes from the mechanics aspect of the game rather than fluff or source material.  In order to provide a list of spells that fits with the class theme it would seem that both lists were scoured and then combined into the mongrel spell list the inquisitor uses.  As I do this often when working on archetypes and class design, I can’t really fault Paizo for doing so, and overall feel the spells are appropriate, even if in the back of my mind I know that they are not all divine in origin.

KH: Should the inquisitor be a d8 hitpoint class or should they be more of a d10?

JH: Given the scope of their class skills, spells, judgments, and other abilities, I feel a d10 would be going too far. Having a d8 for hit die suites me just fine, I might well think differently with d10’s, which also tends to come along with a full BAB class.  So nope, I think they (inquisitors) have the correct HD for what they are and for balance purposes.

KH: What would you change about the base class if you were given free reign?

JH: Solo tactics is my pet peeve, I would want more teamwork focus, rather than benefits for the inquisitor only.  Heretics are dangerous, one would think that friends would be a good thing in the battle against them.

KH: Have you ever had to ban or have you seen the class banned at a table?

JH: I have never banned the inquisitor, though I freely admit nearly none of my players tend to favour the inquisitor class.  I suspect that somewhere someone has banned it, but given that I do not see endless ban this class threads either on Paizo’s forums, or in PFS, I would think its banning is rare in general.

KH: What is your advice for building a successful inquisitor?

JH: While I could go through lots of game mechanics and discuss how to make a deadly awesome murder-hobo inquisitor, in my personal opinion, the best way to make a successful inquisitor is build something that is at least mechanically sound, then FOCUS very hard on roleplay and character motivation/personality.  Because this class has mechanics that to me scream, “there is a really good story behind why I can do this”, it deserves to have those aspects played up.  I dare say that it is the intangibles that make inquisitors memorable at the table.  I suggest picking an inquisition rather than a domain and then writing a hell of a story about the why your inquisitor has said inquisition.

KH: Thank you for taking the time to have this chat, Jeff!

JH: As always, it was my pleasure Kiel, it was a fine set of questions you wrote for this installment of “Questions About Class.”  I hope we have shed a bit of light on a class that is often in the shadows.