ZEITGEIST Question about Technologist benefit rulings in D&D 4e

The technologist theme grants a character an encounter power with the arcane and summoning keywords. Upon reaching level 5 the theme mentions that the contraption summoned through the power follows the rules of an animal companion. Does it mean the Essential's druid sentinel's animal companion rules, the animal master companion rules, the beast master's beast companion rules or something else? Also, does that replace the encounter power such that the contraption is no longer considered a summoned creature but rather an animal companion, and is thus active all the time, or is it both a summon and an animal companion?

On another note, does the contraption use the character's powers as though it were wielding the character's weapon or implement, or must it be equipped with its own? Or is either option allowed?
Oof, man, I'm trying to recall what I intended seven years ago when we designed that. Since then I've learned the rules of and played a lot of games, and so it's kinda a jumble.

I think the main thing was the action economy of animal companions. Like, the contraption initially just does one thing, right? But later on, I think I intended it so it could move on its own?

Also, I'm pretty sure, given how 4e magic item economy works, my intention was not to require separate gear for it. Its power functions literally the same way yours does based on the moment it uses it. It's magically linked to you.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. Going off your answer I think we'll just rule it in the most beneficial way for the player. He's making an artificer/seeker and it's surprisingly difficult to make an effective build as both classes were largely overlooked by WotC.
Also, kinda unrelated but thank you for making such a great product. I'm eagerly awaiting my hardcovers.


Going off the topic here, but... Is there a specific reason your player wants artificer|seeker hybrid? It's pretty difficult in 4e in general to use 2 classes with different primary characteristics, you have to give up a lot to keep your modifier up to date. Looking through the builder, you may have better chances taking artificer|wizard and heavily refluffing the wizard part to make it look like a primal power source.

Edit: i cant words
My players are heavy minmaxers. We played a high optimization game and they totally crushed it with builds so strong that even the modified enemies I throw at them can't keep up. Since Zeitgeist uses the official rules for damage in 4e (at least during the first adventures) I encouraged them to make less optimized builds. However they wanted to optimize so they purposefully chose less powerful classes. Both the artificer and the seeker are widely regarded as being underpowered, so he wanted to use them. He really likes the artificer but, honestly, it's not a very good leader class. And the seeker's control is not great either. But he like the idea of playing a character that embraces industry without forgetting the traditions of Risur and the need to develop eco-friendly technology.

Edit: He's going for the WIS artificer (as opposed to CON) to be able to use the seeker's powers effectively. He likes weird builds. He once made a shade vampire that works off never taking extended rests. And another player made a character that had around 5 animal summons or companions or whatever, and they could all attack while he was unconscious, so his strategy was to knock himself out at the beginning of a fight so he would get to attack 5 times. My players like weird things.
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I feel you. Some general advice on running ZG in 4e (I'm currently on adventure 8):
  • there is a danger of "5-minute day" in many of the adventures; beware of players going nova every other combat and totally obliterating the opposition, if they pay attention to min-maxing. Artificier by himself may not be a good leader, but in ZG it shines by allowing to redistribute healing surges within the party (he can drain anyone for infusions). I strongly recommend you to look for alternative ways for the players to lose healing surges or your party may never feel too threatened. On a plus side, if your players only thought about combat efficiency during character creation, you may throw investigative parts of the story at them as a challenge.
  • Take a good read on firearms section, then do it again. Then think if you want to give them to minmaxxers. If you see grenades anywhere near your seeker PC character sheet, give him a stern look and ask if he has any "Area burst 1 within weapon range" weapon powers, otherwise be prepared for a shower of 9 grenades as an at-will attack (half damage on miss, innaccurate for extra fun). Shotguns as written are incredibly powerful - you're talking effective +5 to hit and extra dice of damage half of the time. Later, cover-piercing bullets with firearm expertise makes it more likely to hit a target in cover than a target in the open.
  • here is a loose collection of my errata for 4e adventures. It's partly in Russian and unfinished, but you may still find it useful
  • Broken Cauldron in adventure 2 allows for rituals to be cast in combat as an action. Think if this poses any danger to your plans, as there are some powerful rituals to break the rails.
  • you may think about introducing some restrictions for requisition in min-max party. I have one player that regularly reads through whole offline Character Builder and makes some creative "save us" buttons (artificier with 42 passive perception, BTW). I can't even imagine what would happen if everyone in my party would be like that.
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Thank you, I think your observations will be quite useful. I admit I am a bit worried the combat encounters will become too easy too quick, but hopefully this will let them relax and focus less on optimizing once they see they don't have too. This might make them more inclined to pick feats and items that are more flavorful or interesting but not as powerful.
I actually think they're a bit scared right now because man, they've had some close calls during combat (a couple of sessions ago we had a "save versus TPK" situation, and at level 29 too) and I imagine they are expecting something similar. Still, I don't want to ban any character options. I'd much rather they feel liberated from the need to optimize instead of forced to build an inefficient character. I told them I don't want to modify the enemies to make them challenging, as it can be quite exhausting, but that I will up their damage output if (and only if) it becomes necessary .
Edit: Just an addendum. So far the group consists of a githzerai artificer/seeker, a tiefling skald, a human battlemind and a half-elf cosmic sorcerer. That skald is going to become a real pain once they get to 11th level and he takes Polyhistor.
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From what you're saying I strongly recommend you to run Asrabey Varal at the end of Adventure 1 as lvl2 solo instead of lvl19 soldier. Otherwise your party may make a conclusion that they're supposed to minmax themselves into fighting enemies 18 levels ahead...

Note that while regular damage output of most enemies is within 4e math, some environmental hazards can easily one-shot PCs. E.g: dropping from the top of the Cauldron hill, standing in the fire of dragonborn arsonists, standing under railway cars levitated by Leone, standing in the rainstorm during the fight vs weretiger shamans etc. Amusingly, PCs can kill each other if they try to nova Ekossigan in adventure 5 with ranged weapons - it automatically redirects such attacks to other targets around.
Great of you to mention that, I wasn't actually sure which version of Asrabey I'd end up using. I must admit that the idea of fighting the level 20 version holds some appeal but your observation is on point. Besides, it could end up being very anticlimactic since he could end up one-shotted from a very lucky crit or the sorcerer's dazzling ray (half damage on a miss, but having 6d6+CHA base damage, that's nothing to sniff at)