Core Concept: It occurred to me as I was laying out this post that I’ve never actually taken a serious look at the inquisitor before. Other classes, like the Cavalier, the Witch, or the Alchemist at least caught my fancy enough that I read over their abilities briefly when I picked up the Advanced Player’s Guide. The Inquisitor, though? Not so much.
While my initial impression was that Inquisitors are meant to be a dark and gritty paladin, it’s a little more complicated than that. They’re much closer to cleric-rogues, with an emphasis on the cleric part. Inquisitors are who the church sends when paladins are too goody-goody to get the job done. It has a certain appeal, though like the cavalier, the inquisitor’s goals seem awfully specific for a random adventurer.
None the less, I think I like them significantly more than I like the cavalier. Though that may just be my bias towards rogue characters.
Also, I’d like to take a moment to point out the ridiculous boobage on the iconic inquisitor. It looks pretty damn stupid. Fortunately, if she goes all “Spanish Inquisition” on us, we know right where to stab her.
Spells: With spells through level 6, the Inquisitor is among the most magically invested classes outside of the primary casters. That seems a little powerful for a character with such significant physical combat ability, but I haven’t seen one played before, so I won’t make presumptions about the class’s balance.
I will say that I’ve always wanted to see a caster like this. One with spells up to 6th level or so, who rounds out their magical weakness with other cool abilities.
Domain: Since the Inquisitor doesn’t get any domain spells as the cleric class does, Inquisitor domains function more like a Sorcerer‘s Bloodlines. And while I’m not a fan of clerical domains, my primary issue with them is that they require too much of a day-to-day time investment from the player. With only a single domain, and without bonus spells, I actually think domains work pretty well for the inquisitor.
Judgement / Second Judgement / Third Judgement: I’m not terribly fond of abilities which function only in combat. There’s a certain verisimilitude to the judgement abilities, since they are god-given strength to mete out justice. But that’s the slippery slope to 4th editionism!
Aside from the “only in combat” aspect, I quite like judgements. A consistent buff which can be switched out for another in the set as a swift action is a solid mechanic which keeps things fairly simple, but can also give the inquisitor lots of options for how to approach battle. I also like how iterative levels of the judgement do not add new potential buffs, but instead allow the inquisitor to call upon multiple buffs at once. If keeps an already complicated mechanic from getting entirely out of hand.
The judgement ability is actually surprisingly similar to something I’ve been working on for awhile. On the one hand it’s a little frustrating to find out I’ve been preempted, since this is an idea I came up with before the Advanced Player’s Guide came out. On the other hand, it’s encouraging to know that the professionals at Paizo apparently like my ideas enough to come up with them themselves.
Monster Lore: In years of playing, I don’t know that a player has ever made a knowledge check to identify the weakness of a monster. This may be more a result of the way I run the game than the way my players play it, but regardless, I’m not really impressed by an ability which allows you to add your wisdom score to such a minor edge case.
I’d call this filler, but it’s a level 1 ability, so it’s one among a half dozen other abilities.
Stern Gaze: Despite my general distaste for the skills system–and in particular the Intimidate and Sense Motive skills–I none the less think this ability is entirely appropriate. The character is an inquisitor, that they would receive a significant bonus to extracting information and discerning lies is to be expected.
I might try to represent it differently mechanically, but the spirit of the ability is solid.
Cunning Initiative: I’m not certain why the inquisitor warrants a bonus to initiative. As far as I can see, they don’t have any abilities which are contingent upon acting first. If anything, it seems as though this should be a rogue ability.
The mechanic is simple enough. I just don’t see how it relates to the inquisitor.
Detect Alignment: A very standard ability for this type of class, which doesn’t really need to be discussed. Though, interestingly, the type of action required is not listed here. I would probably rule it to be a standard action, though it’d be interesting if it were a free action.
Solo Tactics: I find it interesting that so far, every martial class from the Advanced Player’s Guide (Cavalier and Inquisitor) have an ability which makes Teamwork feats work better. I would also point out that teamwork feats were introduced in the Advanced Player’s Guide.
It’s almost as if they agreed with me that teamwork feats are a terrible idea, and intentionally designed their new classes so as to avoid some of the issues I pointed out in my cavalier analysis. Namely, that any feat which requires multiple people to have the feat in order to work means that one person not being able to show up for a session, or leaving the group entirely, can severely gimp another player.
Teamwork Feat: I’m not a huge fan of bonus feats, blah blah blah, filler abilities, whatever. You’ve heard it all before, and it’s becoming super repetitive through these class analyses.
I have something new to bitch about here, though, because apparently the inquisitor can change her most recent teamwork feat a number of times per day equal to her wisdom modifier. What the fuck? As if there wasn’t already enough fiddling over feats, now alternating between any feat on the teamwork list is an ability? That would be insufferably frustrating at the table.
Discern Lies: I like this for the same reason I like “Stern Gaze” above. Though personally I think it would be cooler if the inquisitor gradually became completely immune to lies, save those which were magically warded against her somehow.
Stalwart: The D&D 3.5 Hexblade had this ability, though it was called “Mettle.” I always thought it was a little overpowered when compared to its inverse, “evasion,” which is omnipresent among the core classes. But the inquisitor has to wait until level 11 to get it, so I suppose it’s alright for it to be more powerful.
Exploit Weakness: I like the idea of critical hits which have an extra oomf to them. However, these improvements are extremely situational, to the point that the ability would be easy to forget when it’s actually relevant. It really only affects monsters who have damage reduction, regeneration, or who have a vulnerability to a type of energy which the inquisitor is using to attack them. Granted, all of those things are fairly common against high level monsters. But they’re not common enough that I think I would be able to remember “oh hey, since this creature is an ice demon and I’m attacking it with fire, my critical hit gets +1 point of damage per die rolled!”
Slayer: I really like judgement, but this just seems to make it complicated. Out of the 3 judgements the inquisitor can use simultaneously at this point, one of those can be used as if it were 5 levels higher, and that judgement cannot be switched out like the other judgements can.
It’s possible that I’m just a super stickler for simplicity, but that seems convoluted me.
True Judgement: I don’t personally find save-or-die capstone abilities to be interesting. But it kinda works for the inquisitor!