Psionic Augmentation Striker: The 4e Soulknife

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Found something!  Soulknife's skill pool is a tad restrictive compared to other classes that get the same number of skills.  Usually, the list is 1+(2*trained skills).  Might I recommend adding Insight and Intimidate to the list?




You're quite correct.  Done!
Okay, just had a go tonight and last week.  Pure Blade soulknife.  Absolutely terrific spikes (MC'd rogue and shaped rapier and shield most of the time, plus Psychic Empowerment), but, notably, tonight I got shafted by psychic resistance.  So we just spent six hours fighting one thing because of that (and none of us were hitting the thing, which is a different matter entirely).  'Course, it's a low-level game, so I'm mostly just sharing experience here. Tongue Out

Also, a thought:  A Con-secondary force build, maybe?  And it may just be my current selection (I've got attack on the wind, blurring blade, painful strike, and mind blade flurry right now), but the powers don't seem to encourage me to do anything but stick with the biggest [w] I can shape, thus far. Embarassed 
Okay, just had a go tonight and last week.  Pure Blade soulknife.  Absolutely terrific spikes (MC'd rogue and shaped rapier and shield most of the time, plus Psychic Empowerment), but, notably, tonight I got shafted by psychic resistance.  So we just spent six hours fighting one thing because of that (and none of us were hitting the thing, which is a different matter entirely).  'Course, it's a low-level game, so I'm mostly just sharing experience here. Tongue Out



Psychic resistance is tough, but at most it should only be negating your bonus striker damage.  You should still be dealing 1[w] + dex in non-psychic damage with each attack, since for most powers only the bonus damage that you do is typed.

  Also, a thought:  A Con-secondary force build, maybe?  



It's definite possibility that I'll do a force based build when I come back to this class.  One I get my Eberron campaign up and running I'll come back to this.

  And it may just be my current selection (I've got attack on the wind, blurring blade, painful strike, and mind blade flurry right now), but the powers don't seem to encourage me to do anything but stick with the biggest [w] I can shape, thus far. Embarassed



I guess it was my intention that you'd stick with the highest [w]s under most circumstances, but switch to other weapons as they were situationally useful.  For example, out of the box the Soulknife has the ability to form a Glaive to gain reach, a Rapier for high accuracy, a Broadsword for damage, a Greatsword for both at the expense of defense, or even a Dagger for a ranged option.  This may have been too subtle though and in actual play it may end up that one weapon combo is used exclusively.  I guess that that's okay but I may go back and add some powers with variable riders, i.e. if you use this power with a reach weapon, do x, otherwise do y.  That may get too fiddly in practice, but it's a way that a soulknife could gain more options across rounds and make weapon selection matter more.  Then again, sometimes simpler is better and you already have all the augments on the powers to deal with.  It's a road I'd defintely consider for a new powers or builds.
Okay, just had a go tonight and last week.  Pure Blade soulknife.  Absolutely terrific spikes (MC'd rogue and shaped rapier and shield most of the time, plus Psychic Empowerment), but, notably, tonight I got shafted by psychic resistance.  So we just spent six hours fighting one thing because of that (and none of us were hitting the thing, which is a different matter entirely).  'Course, it's a low-level game, so I'm mostly just sharing experience here. Tongue Out



Psychic resistance is tough, but at most it should only be negating your bonus striker damage.  You should still be dealing 1[w] + dex in non-psychic damage with each attack, since for most powers only the bonus damage that you do is typed.


Actually, the extra damage being psychic gives the whole damage the psychic keyword.  If your extra damage is 5, but the monster has 10 psychic resistance, you're losing 10 off the attack, not just 5.  Granted, that's not going to come up too terribly often, but it is a thing to note I suppose.
Anyone thought of a Str build that uses lightning?
Okay, just had a go tonight and last week.  Pure Blade soulknife.  Absolutely terrific spikes (MC'd rogue and shaped rapier and shield most of the time, plus Psychic Empowerment), but, notably, tonight I got shafted by psychic resistance.  So we just spent six hours fighting one thing because of that (and none of us were hitting the thing, which is a different matter entirely).  'Course, it's a low-level game, so I'm mostly just sharing experience here. Tongue Out



Psychic resistance is tough, but at most it should only be negating your bonus striker damage.  You should still be dealing 1[w] + dex in non-psychic damage with each attack, since for most powers only the bonus damage that you do is typed.


Actually, the extra damage being psychic gives the whole damage the psychic keyword.  If your extra damage is 5, but the monster has 10 psychic resistance, you're losing 10 off the attack, not just 5.  Granted, that's not going to come up too terribly often, but it is a thing to note I suppose.



It gives it the psychic keyword, but doesn't change all the damage to psychic damage. It's still 1[w]+dex untyped damage and then the striker damage in psionic.
I just stumbled on this thread after I tried to make an archer that conjures her bow, as in the "bound bow" spell in Skyrim. I started with a ranger build that created ectoplasmic weapons. Then I found this thread, with all the work done for me. Very nice.
MediumD:  You may want to look at the whirling barbarian's powers for that sort of thing.  Most of them have damage noted along the lines of 1[w] (main hand) + 1[w] (off-hand) + Strength modifier.
MediumD:  You may want to look at the whirling barbarian's powers for that sort of thing.  Most of them have damage noted along the lines of 1[w] (main hand) + 1[w] (off-hand) + Strength modifier.


Interesting. It looks like WotC is fine with multiattack powers as long as they target more than one creature.

I thought of making an at-will like Dual Strike, but there's already several multiattack at-wills at SK 7. I want a mechanical advantage for dual-wielding that sticks over an SK's career, but I don't want to create various leveled versions of DS, TS, or WR, at least not without making a soul knife PP that specializes in dual wielding. So I thought of this:

Two Mind Weapon Fighting
Preqrequisite: Soulknife, Dex 13
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with your main weapon when you fight with two mind weapons. You also qualify for any feats that require the Two Weapon Fighting feat.
MediumD:  You may want to look at the whirling barbarian's powers for that sort of thing.  Most of them have damage noted along the lines of 1[w] (main hand) + 1[w] (off-hand) + Strength modifier.


Interesting. It looks like WotC is fine with multiattack powers as long as they target more than one creature.

I thought of making an at-will like Dual Strike, but there's already several multiattack at-wills at level 7. And even with the TWF feats, it's still mechanically better just to shape a big sword instead of two smaller swords.



Yeah, I pointed out something like that awhile back.  I'd really like to have at least one (non-Essentials) Striker that could get off using long knives instead of bastard swords...
@medium D

I might add a note in the character description and maybe some of the powers on how Soulsteel is ectoplasm infused with a person's mental essence or soul.  How would that be?

If I ever get around to making another build for this, I'm pretty sure it would be a TWF build.  I really like your feat fix in the meantime, though I might make some slight changes if I add it to the guide.  The at-will multiattacks are intentionally weaker than twin strike, as the striker feature and weapons are better.   Generally the ranger multiattack encounter powers at heroic give you some bonus beyond just two attacks, but considering the different requirements I intentionally made the augment double attacks pretty basic as well.  For example, augmented psychic opening is worse than the ranger and rogue minor action attacks and Two-and-One strike and similar are a lot worse than twin strike.  Double mods is a huge source of damage for the ranger.  Even augmented, Two-and-One strike is still on the same level as Two-Fanged Strike, a level 1 ranger encounter and it's level 7.  If the multiattacks are still overpowered with bigger weapons, I may restrict them to dual wielding, but I'd rather leave the class more open to different concepts.  I think it's really something that deserves its own build, feat tree or powers if I ever have the time to come back to this now I'm actually DMing a game.  I also think it would be fun to make some feats specifically supporting one-handed light blades or the like which would also work with TWF.

Shape Mind Weapon should currently allow you to do TWF with no problem.  I made it a free action to allow the Soulknife to switch between different fighting styles with ease and I thought it would fit the class flavor to bake quickdraw into the power, but I guess it would be fine as a minor action.  The only big issue is that it makes it difficult for the Soulknife to use any other power in the first round besides shaping the weapon and the Soulknife has quite a few minor powers they'd want to do in the first round (ie, Augemented Psychic Opening or similar, Psychic Empowerment, Blade Focus, Synesthate, Keen Augment, Ball of Light, Pure Mind Pure Blade, Canny Patience).  I also wanted to make it easy for the Soulknife to switch fighting styles mid-combat.  Minor action may be a better power level though.  Some play experience would better direct this.

The Wisdom build is meant to be able to be subdefender (several defensive powers, Soulsteel Knight paragon path) and there's meant to be some tension between using a sheild or a bigger weapon.  That's the reason for light sheidl proficiency and the heavy sheild feat.  Also, the Soulknife is a melee striker with few surges and likely little Con to make up for it.  A high AC makes up for that.  A lot of strikers start with hide or equilvalant and light sheilds + leather is almost the same thing so I'm not super worried about "turtle-ing." 

The burning augment type powers don't end on reshaping weapons partially for simplicity and partially because I want to encourage weapon-swapping.

I was originally going to make Soulbow an elf racial feat, but I thought it was cool enough to open up ot everyone.  I thought that allowing you full access to all your powers both at range and in melee was a bit overpowered for a single feat.  Feat + Weapon Proficiency (Greatbow), Feat + Elf, or Feat + Background seemed like a reasonable comprimise, as most folks would want to take one of those anyway. Convince me it's not OP and I may bake Longbow proficiency into the feat.  Soul Weapon crossbows make no sense to me; shaping those complex mechanisms and springs from your mind seems like it would be much harder than just making a bow or a blade.

The soul armor concept was something I tried to put into the flavor of the Soulsteel Knight powers, but in practice I'm not sure it adds enough to overcome the complications it would have to have to avoid not just being a free item.  Adding a bunch of items to enhance Soul Armor seems like a lot more trouble than it's worth.

 
I think the Augments should commit you to a single weapon. That turns the Augments into a tactical decision instead of just a damage buff. I know it works fine the way it is, but I don't like the visual of a charged mind weapon being swapped out for another weapon.

As a soulknife, why do I even need a cranequin on my crossbow? I can just re-shape it so that it's already nocked and/or loaded. I can picture dwarves with soul crossbows. I think you can support that just by making the Soulbow feat a bit less specific to bows.
  
I agree about soul armor. There would need to be benefit to it besides the quick outfit change. I noticed you tucked it into a PP as a power.

I love your class design vis-a-vis the multiattacks, especially the level 7 at-wills. You step around the multiattack problems with cleaner mechanics that nevertheless simulate twin strike. I found I really can't add anything to them.

I like the flavor of soulknives using ectoplasm to create ghostly weapons as opposed to energy blades that look like lightsabers. I can see a soulknife investing a bit of his consciousness in those weapons as part of the shaping process, creating the "soulsteel" you mentioned. This would make the ectoplasm used by psion shapers a "lower grade" that lacks such a personal connection.
Okay, the XPH version of the soulknife comes out of the box with shield proficiencies. He doesn't get to shape one, but he can use a mundane one. It's unfair to pay a feat tax for that, so Soulshield goes to the reject pile. And now I see what you were saying about it--it's easier just to dogpile all the shaping options into the same power instead of rationing them like in 3.5e.

I can think of some cases where the Soulbow feat is useless to a character until he spends another feat on a WP two levels later, meaning it's a feat tax for him (then again he could retrain). We have rangers, bowlords, warlocks, rogues, bards, etc., slinging around ranged and melee powers, so I don't see the ranged option as something more valuable than a feat. I didn't know about the background options of Gritty Sergeant or Noble Bred for War.
I think my next blog post will be a two-weapon fighting build for the Soulknife so you can look forward to that.  I'm thinking of ways it can be more interesting than just improved TWF.  I'm thinking a melee basic with off hand theme (i.e. melee basic with off-hand on crit, powers that can be used as basic attacks with off hand weapons, feats and powers that grant melee basics with off-hand weapons).  I think I've found a balanced way to do it.  The only issue is that the TWF build is going to have to choose between powers that can be used with any soul weapon and those that can only be used with TWF.  I think that's okay though, the two builds I already have support the versatile soulknife pretty well.

I'm very interested in that. My vision for my SK was that he'd use a soulbow for ranged and then switch to two short swords.

Perhaps the TWF build requires light weapons in the off-hand or both hands? That'd tone down the damage a bit.

Long knife, FTW! Tongue Out
Weapons of the Split Soul? Interesting.

I still can't think of a good way to handle a two-weapon build without 30 levels of new at-wills and class features. And I'm not sure what to do with those at-wills that isn't already covered by the level 7 multiattacks. Two-Weapon Opening could be a problem with SK precision damage on a crit fisher.
I've posted the first part of the new build up on my blog here.  Feedback would be extremely welcome.  The class feature is potent, but I tried to balance it with being 1/round and requiring a free action, whcih means it won't stack with two-weapon opening.  It seems like about the same level as the rest.  Let me know what you think of the powers.  I tried to make them multiattacks but limit the amount of potential damage they can do.  I was considering not allowing the use of the off-hand basics on a charge but I thought it might seem weird.  Lemme know your thoughts.
Good mechanics and good flavor. I can see a PP or ED that involes the soulknife splitting into two independent beings.
 
What do you see as the raison d'etat of the dual wielding build? It looks like it trades cookies (buffs/debuffs) for second chances.

It doesn't look like anything in the Split Soul class feature specifically outlaws an extra attack from TWO.
 
I think there should be some benefit when wielding two OH weapons at the same time. If just to make the SS/SS combination attractive. Perhaps a feat called "Mirrored Mind Weapon" that adds +1 damage if you dual wield the same mind weapon.

Is there a generic name for precision damage for a soulknife, given that it can be radiant, psychic or force? Rogues have SA, rangers have HQ...what do I call the bonus soulknife damage?
It doesn't have to specifically outlaw it.  Split Soul's second attack is labeled as a free action, and you can only make one free action attack per turn.

Well shucks. I just found that in the PHB errata.

And I believe the damage mechanic is collectively pegged under "Mind Weapon." Tongue Out
Yeah, the Mind Weapon class feature is like the Sorcerer's "Power Source" feature in that it gives a few benefits:

1.  The Form Mind Weapon Power
2.  The choice of which mind weapon you manifess (Pure Blade, Weapon of Light, Split Soul)

The idea is that though this feature is that your soul energy (Wisdom or Charisma) fortifies your mind weapon so that you can make attacks using the physical Dexterity (or go purely mental with intelligence through a feat).  You're not doing anything differently while fighting, your soul weapons are just better than normal weapons for you due to the time and effort you have put in to honing them.

TWO is not completely useless on a Split Soul, as it can be used 1/turn rather than 1/round, but it doesn't stack on the same crit.  This was a power level issue, as the Soulknife has a few powers that make it easy to get critical hits.  Also, you could theroretically make a Pure Blade soulknife who takes the TWF options and then takes the feat in paragon, which requires much more feat investment but allows you to do psychic instead of force damage and also daze on a critical hit.  It's not quite as good out of the gate at TWF but it's an option.

The mechanical heart of the build is getting free MBAs with the off-hand weapon, but most are set up in such a way to be more accuracy boosters than pure damage boosters.  I think they're comperable to the other soulknife powers when you take into account the smaller [w].  They do get access to true/better multiattacks before the generic soulknife does.Feat support and paragon path(s) will also be forthcoming after I'm through with the powers.
Soulforged Ascendent is fun, but I don't see an existence as a mind weapon as desirable. What if the SK's body becomes malleable soulstuff as well?
Eh, I though Soulforged Ascendant was a cool concept: becoming an all powerful sentient artifact weapon seems cool to me.  I think I put somewhere that you can still reform your body out of soulsteel if you desire when you have no underlings to weild you, but maybe that didn't make it to the final version. 

I don't think it's really that different from how Ki Foci work normally.  It certainly wouldn't break anything but I don't really see the point as you would gain no real benefit to doing so and the flavor difference is subtle. 
Part 2 of new build is up: Paragon and Epic Tier Powers
Those powers look great.
Any PPs geared for SS soulknives in the works? Innocent
PP coming with feats in part 3.
I was looking at the feats and it seemed like the Changeling Soulknife feat was a tad unbalanced. The ability to gain proficiency with any superior weapon as a minor action seems a little broken. I'd recomend changing the proficiencys to only military and simple. That way, you don't have changelings pulling out 2d6 weapons with brutal 1, and then switching to a greatbow. The flexibility is really cool, and I could see a wonderful build coming out of it (Oh, I remember this one elf, he fought like this!), but superior weapons are too strong to be that versatile.
@redhatter54 My logic behind the power level of that feat is that while you can switch up weapons based on the occassion, you're still not getting more bonuses from the feat each round than someone who uses just one superior weapon.  For example, a changling soulknife from this feat is getting the exact same benefits using each superior weapon each round that their friends are getting from using a superior weapon regularly.  The main benefit is in flexiblity to different situations, which I wanted to emphasize for the soulknife.  Since changelings don't get many racial feats, I thought pushing the power level on a flavorful feat would be okay.  I haven't playtested this build though, so you might be right that between rounds it may be too big of an advantage.  I just thought the feat would be a bit weak if I limited it to just martial and simple weapons, as the Soulknife already has access to some of the best martial weapons (longsword, broadsword, greatsword, shortsword, glaive, rapier).  That's a good mix of damage, accuracy, and reach and I'm not sure expanding that to all martial weapons as a minor action is worth a feat.  What do you think?

Edit:  By the way, the Split Soul part 3 is almost done.  All the mechanics are done, I just need to write the flavor text up.   Should be up today or tommorow.
Hm. I see your point about them already having access to some of the best weapons, but I'm not conviced that giving them unlimited access to all of the weapons isn't overpowered.
I think it would be a very nice feat for changelings if changed still, as it would give access to all the hammers, axes, and other weapons that they've missed out on before. However, it might be a good idea to (if making a change to the feat) add several other feats that use this as a prerequisite.
These feats could give proficiency in all of one type of superior weaponry (i.e, all one-handed superior melee weapons, all two-handed superior melee weapons, all one-handed superior ranged weapons, all two-handed superior ranged weapons).
This way, the changelings still get a chance to gain profiencey with more weapons than any other race, but without getting so many as to be unbalanced.
I would prefer this way, as it requires two feats to gain proficiency with around 5-6 powerful weapons, which may still be strong, but the feat requirement would keep it from being too broken.
4e tends to favor specialization, and there's not really a single weapon group that has both a top-flight one-hander and two-hander that the Soulknife can make the most of. If you have gouge and triple-headed flail proficiencies from one feat, sweet! But you'll have to find an expertise feat that favors both of them (which will be weaker than any of the individual options), and single-group feats that make the weapons shine individually (like the Polearm tree) won't work with the other and vice versa. You can mitigate that by taking more conservative weapon selections (Waraxe and Executioner's Axe, Fullblade and Bastard Sword), but you'll find that the Soulknife can't really get the best out of those weapon pairs. It's useful, but overpowered? I don't think so. Not when you can't enchant them, especially.

Looking forward to the new Split Soul stuff. Just whipped up a L8 thunder/lightning Revenant Genasi, and I'm excited to see how she plays out (even if I was coming to the conclusion that thunder/cold or cold/fire would be much better.. thematic concerns trump all, in this case!)
Question regarding the wording on Two Souls, Three Strikes.  It can target up to three creatures, but it always makes three attacks?  That is a soulknife can use it to pile the hurt on one creature with three chances to crit, or potentially six if those three main attacks miss?  Seems silly, yeah, but I've never seen that wording before.

Also, indulge me... will we see elocator-style Scorn Earth shenanigans in the new batch of feats and PP(s)?
Split Soul Part 3 is up.  I like the mechanics but I kept the flavor a bit more basic than the other paths, given that it will cover a greater number of archetypes.

@Eisenritter.  You're reading it right.  A lot of the ranger powers are also worded that way, allowing you to distribute the attacks as you please between the targets.  See Twin Strike for reference.  Of course the most optimal way to use them is probably to pile them on one creature.  I don't know.  Upon further review I'm worried that I made the high paragon and epic daily powers a bit too good.  Might need to reduce damage for a couple of them.  Need to  make up some mock ups to compare to other strikers at that level beyond just comparing on paper.

Elocator wasn't something I was thinking about before, but it definitely looks cool.  Maybe in a seperate update in the future.  
Very cool Soul Knife build.  Very cool indeed.  keep up the work.
I was bummed when soulknife didn't make it into any of the psionics handbooks. Your creation is beautiful, elegant and Im going to introduce it to my GM freind who is running a home champaign (even though I live 1000+ miles away)
A player in my game showed this to me and begged me to let him use it. We're only at level 4, but it seems to work well.
I love this class  definetly one of the most balanced homebrew classes ive seen. Glad my dm approves 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/18.jpg)

Glad to see it being used!  I'd be interested to hear your experiences using it.