Psionic Cheese

So I was going through the Expanded Psionics Handbook recently, and in true nerdly fashion, found myself mentally rewriting several core aspects of the book. Classes, feats, skills; naught but the powers remained untouched. Well, I didn’t spend much time on them, at least. In talking with several other collaborators, who will remain nameless, we came to the determination that there were lobotomies required all around…

The first set of victims… *ahem* patients, I mean, was composed of The Psychic Warrior and The Wilder base classes. Primarily, it was agreed that something absolutely horrible must have occurred to the brains of the R&D team to permit them to give the Psychic Warror more powers known than the Wilder over 20 levels, especially since the Wilder is to psionics what the Sorcerer is to magic…

Wait, nevermind, that does make sense, then. Crazy crack-smoking R&D people. See The Sorcerer for more on that topic, but in the meantime, note the following changes to the psionic classes:

The Psychic Warrior

Changes: HD is d10, as it should be; Powers Known becomes 1 plus 1 every 2 levels for a maximum of 10 powers at level 20

The Wilder

Changes: Powers Known becomes 2 plus 1 every level for a maximum of 21 powers at level 20; Delete “Elude Touch” and “Volatile Mind” because they’re dumb; “Wild Surge” becomes “Power Surge” as below; change “Psychic Enervation” and “Surging Euphoria” as below.

Power Surge (Su): Any time that the Wilder would manifest a power, she may increase her Effective Manifester Level by a number of levels less than or equal to her rating in this ability but risks the effects of Psychic Enervation from doing so. The Wilder gains rating 1 in this ability at level 1, and the rating increases every four levels to a maximum of 6 at level 20.

Psychic Enervation (Ex): Immediately following the use of the Power Surge ability, make a Concentration check versus DC 15 + Power Level of the power being manifested with a penalty of -2 per Manifester Level increase. Failure on this check renders the Wilder dazed for a number of rounds equal to the level of the surge and causes her to lose Power Points equal to her Wilder level. For example, if Leila, an 12th level Wilder, manifests the 3rd level power Body Adjustment with her maximum +4 Manifester Level, she must make a Concentration check vs DC 18 (15 + 3) with a -8 penalty or suffer Psychic Enervation. If, instead, she chose to use only a +2 Manifester Level increase, the check would be made with only a -4 penalty.

Surging Euphoria (Ex): As written, but gained at 5th and increasing every 5 levels thereafter.

And now for everyone’s favorite: The Soulknife. This poor guy doesn’t even exist anymore, he was so cheesy. Well, not in a form you’d recognize, at least. I mean, consider: d10 HD, Good REF and WIL saves, Skill Points 4 + INT mod, Skill Selection as per MNK (almost), AND scalable powers granted at every level… A little overboard, wouldn’t you say? If you answered “no” to that question, then slap yourself. Beat down that inner twink. Supress the munchkin within. Enter The Soulknife Prestige Class!

The Soulknife

Requirements: BAB: +3, Concentration: 8 ranks, Manifest Mind Blade (see Feats), Weapon Focus (Mind Blade)

HD: d8; Skill Points: 4 + INT mod; Skill Selection: As per The Soulknife on page 27 of the Expanded Psionics Handbook

lvl BAB F R W Class Abilities
1 +0 +0 +2 +2 Quickened Mind Blade, Persistent Blade
2 +1 +0 +3 +3 Bonus Feat
3 +2 +1 +3 +3 Enhance Mind Blade +1
4 +3 +1 +4 +4 Bonus Feat
5 +3 +1 +4 +4 Bladewind
6 +4 +2 +5 +5 Enhance Mind Blade +2
7 +5 +2 +5 +5 Psionic Strike +2d6, Fuel Psionic Strike
8 +6 +2 +6 +6 Bonus Feat
9 +6 +3 +6 +6 Enahnce Mind Blade +3
10 +7 +3 +7 +7 Psionic Strike +4d6, Debilitating Strike

Quickened Mind Blade (Su): The Soulknife gains the ability to manifest his Mind Blade as a Swift Action, as if manifesting a Quickened power.

Persistent Blade (Ex): The Soulknife’s Mind Blade is much more resilient than those of other manifesters, particularly in areas where psionics are inhibited. When the Soulknife is subjected to any dispelling or inhibiting effect, such as Dispel Psionics or Null Psionics Field that would normally be successful in dismissing or preventing the manifestation of his Mind Blade, he may make an immediate WIL save vs DC 20 to maintain or manifest his weapon. The Soulknife must still be Psionically Focused to manifest his Mind Blade.

Bonus Feat: At the listed class levels, the Soulknife may select a bonus feat for which he qualifies from the following list: Improved Mind Blade*, Advanced Mind Blade*, Thrown Mind Blade*, Greater Thrown Mind Blade*, Two Weapon Fighting, Improved Two Weapon Fighting, Advanced Two Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse, Greater Weapon Focus (Mind Blade), or any Psionic feat. *(Indicates a feat from below)

Enhance Mind Blade (Su): The Mind Blade of a Soulknife continues to improve beyond the level of other manifesters. At the listed class levels, the base Enhancement Bonus of his Mind Blade increases as indicated. Alternately, as a Full-Round Action that invokes an Attack of Opportunity, the Soulknife may exchange this extra Enhancement Bonus for an equivalent Weapon Special Ability as listed in the table on page 29 of the Expanded Psionics Handbook for a Power Point cost equal to the exchanged Enhancement Bonus. If the Soulknife possesses the ability to split his Mind Blade, both weapons share the same Special Abilities. In any form, the Enhancement Bonus and Weapon Special Abilities persist until the Soulknife chooses to alter them, even if his Mind Blade is dismissed or dispelled.

Bladewind (Ps): As a Full-Round Action, the Soulknife may expend his Psionic Focus to make an attack against each foe within 10 ft at his highest Base Attack Bonus. He inflicts damage as if striking with his Mind Blade, in whatever form and with whatever abilities it is currently imbued. Note that a character may not utilize any ability he may possess that expends his Psionic Focus in conjuction with any other ability that also requires the same expenditure and must be Psionically Focused in order to manifest or maintain his Mind Blade.

Psionic Strike (Su): The Soulknife gains additional damage dice as listed when utilizing a Psionic Strike with his Mind Blade. If he does not yet possess the ability to make a Psionic Strike, he may only do so by using his Fuel Psionic Strike ability.

Fuel Psionic Strike (Ps): The Soulknife no longer needs to expend his Psionic Focus to make a Psionic Strike (see Feats below) with his Mind Blade. Instead, as a Move-Equivalent Action that provokes an Attack of Opportunity, the Soulknife may imbue his Mind Blade with a number of bonus damage dice less than or equal to his maximum Psionic Strike dice for the expenditure of 1 Power Point per die. This extra damage persists until the Soulknife successfully strikes an opponent, his Mind Blade is dismissed or dispelled, or for a number of rounds equal to his class level. This ability may be combined with the effects of the Psionic Strike feat.

Debiliting Strike (Su): When utilizing his Fuel Psionic Strike ability, the Soulknife may elect to substitute any number of Psionic Strike damage dice for an equal amount of Ability Score damage to his choice of INT, WIS, or CHA. On a successful hit, the target may attempt a FOR save vs DC 20 + CHA mod of the Soulknife to negate this damage. The Soulknife must decide to inflict Ability damage upon imbuing his Mind Blade with his Psionic Strike.

So this class definition yet begs the question: What’s Manifest Mind Blade and how do I acquire it? The answer to that question is:

Manifest Mind Blade [PSIONIC]

Requirements: BAB +1

Effect: While Psionically Focused, the character may manifest a blade-like projection of psychokinetic force known as a Mind Blade. Doing so is a Move-Equivalent Action that may only be performed once in any one round. Any effect that causes the character to lose or expend his Psionic Focus causes his Mind Blade to dissipate after the effect occurs. The character is always proficient with the Mind Blade, which has the hardness, HP, size, and damage code of a steel shortsword sized appropriately and overcomes DR as if magical. It can be dismissed as a free action and is subject to dispelling as per any other psionic effect or breakage as per any other weapon with its hardness and HP.

And since we have a new feat in the mix, why not build a whole tree off of it?

Improved Mind Blade [PSIONIC]

Requirements: Manifest Mind Blade, BAB +4

Effect: The character’s Mind Blade gains a base Enhancement Bonus of +1, which stacks with any Enhancement Bonus granted by powers or spells cast upon it or other feats or class abilities that grant Enhancement Bonus, up to a maximum of +5. Additionally, when manifesting his Mind Blade and as a Full-Round Action that provokes Attacks of Opportunity, the character may alter the form of his Mind Blade for the cost of 1 Power Point, reducing it’s Enhancement Bonus by 1. The weapon may assume the form of either a singular longsword or two shortswords, gaining the stats of a steel weapon sized appropriately. Note that while proficient in their use, the character takes the normal penalties for fighting with an offhand weapon unless he also possesses the feat Two Weapon Fighting. These forms persist every time the character manifests his Mind Blade, even if dismissed or dispelled, until he chooses to alter the form again.

Advanced (Greater) Mind Blade [PSIONIC]

Requirements: Improved Mind Blade, BAB +8

Effect: The character’s Mind Blade gains an additional +1 base Enhancement Bonus, which stacks as per Improved Mind Blade, to a maximum of +5. Additionally, the character gains two more forms for his Mind Blade: a singular bastard sword or a longsword and shortsword, which cost 2 Power Points to manifest and have a base Enhancement 2 lower than normal. Note that while proficient in its use, the character cannot wield a bastard sword one-handed unless he also possesses the appropriate Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat, but he does gain the benefit of 1½ STR mod on damage when wielding the weapon two-handed.

Thrown Mind Blade [PSIONIC]

Requirements: Manifest Mind Blade, BAB +3

Effect: As a Standard Action, the character may make a ranged attack with his Mind Blade against any foe within 30 ft, with a range increment of 10 ft. This attack inflicts damage from his Mind Blade as per its shortsword form only and causes the weapon to dissipate as if dismissed. This does not alter the regular form of the character’s Mind Blade for future manifestations.

Greater Thrown Mind Blade [PSIONIC]

Requirements: Thrown Mind Blade, BAB +6

Effect: The character gains the ability to splinter and throw his Mind Blade multiple times in a round. As a Full-Round Action, the character may choose to throw his Mind Blade as per his Full Attack bonus, inflicting damage as per Thrown Mind Blade. Additionally, the range increment and maximum range of the character’s Mind Blade increases to 20 ft and 60 ft, respectively.

Next on the operating table: existing Psionic feats, specifically Psionic Fist, Psionic Shot, Psionic Weapon, and their ilk. First of all, do we really need three feats that do the exact same thing for three different types of weapons? It’s hard enough to squeeze a weapon style out the few feat slots allotted a character by the rules, so let’s not complicate things further, shall we? Submitted for your approval:

Psionic Strike [PSIONIC]

Requirements: BAB +1

Effect: The character may expend his Psionic Focus before an attack to gain +2d6 bonus damage on a successful hit, which may be either lethal or non-lethal at the character’s option. The character may employ a Psionic Strike with a melee or ranged weapon, natural weapon, or unarmed attack, but doing so does not cause unarmed attacks to be treated as armed.

Greater Psionic Strike [PSIONIC]

Requirements: Psionic Strike, BAB +4

Effect: The character’s Psionic Strike increases to +4d6 and unarmed attacks made in conjunction with this ability are considered armed, due to a visual display wreathing the weapon employed.

Penetrating Strike [PSIONIC]

Requirements: Psionic Strike, BAB +4

Effect: The character may expend his Psionic Focus to resolve his next attack as a touch, whether melee or ranged depending on the weapon employed.

See, that wasn’t so painful, was it? Oh, and while it probably goes without saying, it should be noted in the section on Psionic Feats that any ability that requires the expenditure of one’s Psionic Focus cannot be combined with any other ability that requires the same. That means you can’t, for instance, inflict your extra Psionic Strike damage with a touch attack by using it in conjunction with Penetrating Strike… Unless you’re playing a Soulknife of 7th level or higher (see Fuel Psionic Strike above).

Finally, any feat with the description: “character must expend Psionic Focus in order to gain +10 to the next [skillname] check”. Don’t argue semantics, either; I know it’s not a direct quote, and the [skillname] refers to whatever skill that feat applies to. Derr.

In reading the “Design and Development” articles on the DnD website, it’s obvious that the designers intended for these feats to offer some sort of residual, lesser benefit to the character if he chose to retain his Psionic Focus instead of blowing it and having to get refocused. Thus, change these descriptions to read:

While Psionically Focused, the character gains +4 psionic bonus to all [skillname] checks and may choose to expend his Psionic Focus to gain +10 psionic bonus to his next [skillname] check.

Note the all important “psionic bonus” inclusion, meaning that they stack with other non-psionic bonuses but not with themselves or other abilities that grant similar bonuses. So for all those cheese monkeys out there who are still looking for a loophole here, stop trying. Supress the inner twink! Remember?

Of course, as always, these ideas are open for debate. Just comment away, and I’ll do my best to flame you… *ahem* address your concerns, I mean, in future posts. I don’t claim to be the little guy on the mountain handing down decrees, after all… Who is that guy, anyway?

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