Alternate Archetype Question (Kineticist)

Yeah, yeah, I know, Kineticists suck and I shouldn't be using them. Moving on...

The general rules for Alternate Archetypes is that you can take two at a time, as long as the modifications they make to the original class don't overlap. If they both modify the same ability, you can't use those two archetypes together, right?

"A character can take more than one archetype and garner additional alternate class features, but none of the alternate class features can replace or alter the same class feature from the core class as another alternate class feature. For example, a paladin could not be both a hospitaler and an undead scourge since they both modify the smite evil class feature and both replace the aura of justice class feature. A paladin could, however, be both an undead scourge and a warrior of the holy light, since none of their new class features replace the same core class feature."

Here's the question: What if two Alternate Archetypes modify an ability in EXACTLY the same way? Can you still not take both, even though the overlapping ability is the same between both?

The example I'm looking at is the Kineticist Archetypes "Blightburner" and "Elemental Purist". They have only one overlapping ability change, the Kineticist's Internal Buffer. For both Archetypes, the Internal Buffer ability is taken at level 11 instead of level 6, and your Kineticist level is treated as 5 levels lower for determining benefits. This is the ONLY change made to the Internal Buffer on both Archetypes.

BLIGHTBURNER: A blightburner gains an internal buffer at 11th level, and it has a capacity as if she were 5 levels lower.
ELEMENTAL PURIST: An elemental purist does not gain internal buffer at 6th level. She instead gains internal buffer at 11th level and treats her kineticist level as 5 lower for the purpose of the ability.

The wording is slightly different, but the IB's "capacity" is the only thing affected by having a lower Kineticist level, so they are effectively identical. 100% identical.


  • I would allow it, but I tend to more lenient in my rulings. I honestly don't think this would break anything, though I don't really know the archetypes.
  • Strictly by "as written", both are modifying the same ability and aren't compatible.

    Analytically speaking, many archetypes are written in a way that they provide positive benefits (compared to the base class) in some areas and negative detriments in others. As a result, if two archetypes provide different benefits but have the same detriment (which cannot stack with itself) then taking both archetypes provides a net benefit greater than taking either individually, since you get all the perks and half the downsides.

    Practically speaking, pushing the Internal Buffer feature back to 16th level and treating the kineticist as -10 class level for its purposes would be a reasonable compromise. Of course, it's a kineticist; just stacking the delay to 11 (i.e. as-is) wouldn't disrupt play at the table.

    Personally speaking, I allow archetype stacking with overlap (with occasional tweaks to switch which features are altered) so long as it's not actually impossible to resolve the combined set of changes (e.g. they change class features in mutually incompatible ways). For example, the Investigator Questioner and Polymath archetypes both replace Poison Lore, but my upcoming campaign has a PC that's allowed to stack both by also replacing Swift Alchemy, another class feature of roughly equal value and place within the class' progression. Polymath reduces extracts per day by 1 per extract level and Questioner changes extracts to bard spells, so the character reduces spells per day by 1 per spell level instead. These sorts of tweaks are strictly allowed, but when you're not running PFS, I find they're the kind of tweaks that keep things running smoothly.
  • @rukitanuki Thanks a bunch! I never thought about the downsides as being an offset for some other benefit. This was especially true for Pure Elementalist, since there is no benefit listed alongside the detriment. I guess that one just applies to the benefit of Pure Elementalist as a whole.

    Your suggested fixes are pretty cool, too, so I'll check those out.

    BTW, if anyone sees this post and is thinking about building a Kineticist, I found an awesome guide to them here:
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