As usual for the showcase, these builds are intended to spur discussion and perhaps inspire a few people in the spirit of the old CO boards. They come from members of my gaming group - me, Radical Taoist, DisposableHero_, Andarious, Sionnis, and Seishi - and I'll always identify who wrote the build at the start, so do not assume I'm the guy behind all of them (because I'm not!).
Unless otherwise noted, showcase builds use 28 point-buy, and have their snapshots evaluated using fractional base attack / saves (because it simplifies the math). None of them actually rely on fractional to be built, though. The format I use showcases their progression at key levels rather than just presenting the build and showing off a few tricks at level 20; most of these are capable of being played 1-20 if you so choose.
With that out of the way, let's get started. This week, we have a Tashalatora Monk/Psychic Warrior build from RT (so you know who to blame) that hinges on a lot of synergy from a feat found in the Book of Exalted Deeds. Wait, where are you going? Don’t run away!
What did the five fingers say to the face?
Required Books: Expanded Psionics Handbook, Magic of Incarnum, Secrets of Sarlona, Complete Warrior, Complete Psionic, Planar Handbook, Book of Exalted Deeds (forgive us, it’s not that bad really)
Unearthed Arcana used: None!
Background: A Tashalatora Monk/Psychic Warrior already enjoys Wisdom to Will saves and manifesting. RT decided to push Wis synergy even further, with a focus on maxing out Stunning Fist DCs and using Intuitive Attack to replace Str with Wis for unarmed attack rolls. The result is an accurate, well-defended, and versatile tank that will have enemies cowering in fear of his epic backhand of justice.
- Race: Buomman. An obscure pick from the Planar Handbook, they’re the only LA+0, Wis-bonus race RT could find, and their only real drawbacks are an inability to speak and a penalty to Cha. You don’t need Cha, and you can let your fists do the talking. (The Vow of Silence doesn’t interfere with your psionics at all, naturally, but it will prevent you from throwing out cheesy taunts.)
- Alignment: Lawful Good. Monk locks the former, Intuitive Attack locks the latter.
- Ability Scores: 10/12/14/8/20/6. This version of the build is a proof-of-concept run, and that’s the reason I’ve tubed everything else for Wis. If you want 13 Int for Combat Expertise and thus Improved Trip but DON’T want to reduce Wis, try 8/10/13/13/20/6. You cannot drop Con below 13; it’s a feat prereq. In most games, 10/14/13/13/18/6 or some such will do you fine. We’re just pushing what we can do with Wis here.
Skill Notes: Max out Concentration after you’ve met the prereqs for Tashalatora (Concentration 5, Autohypnosis 5). I’ll admit that the low Int in the initial stat array hurts – it really delays Tashalatora more than it would otherwise (it’s kind of hard to get the skill points for Autohypnosis on a monk (not a class skill) with an Intelligence penalty (stupid psywars only get 1 skill point per level)).
Basic Equipment: Ahem. Monk.
Magical Gear Goals: Ki Straps from the Magic Item Compendium can eke out an extra +2 to your Stunning Fist DC, which gets a bit more mileage here than in other builds. Other than that, you’re a Wis-SAD melee build, and should equip accordingly. You also have the full Tashalatora package, so some items which only work for monks can still show up here, as well as the usual selection of psychic warrior manifesting-support items. (You’ll probably want to dip into dorjes, Manifester weaponry, Torcs of Power Preservation, and similar stamina-enhancing items.)
Build Stub: Monk 2/Psychic Warrior 18
1 – Monk – (Flurry of blows, unarmed strike) (Stunning Fist, Ability Focus: Stunning Fist)
2 – Monk – (Evasion) (Monastic Training: Psychic Warrior)
3 – Psychic Warrior – (Intuitive Attack, Pain Touch) (Inertial Armor)
(If you're like me and you have a hard time following poorly enunciated lyrics, yes, that move really is called the Ball Buster. An apt analogue.)
4 – Psychic Warrior – (Extra Stunning) (Prevenom Weapon)
If you’re using a higher Intelligence array, and bought Int 14 or more, you can get Tashalatora at this level. This isn’t assumed here though.
5 – Psychic Warrior – (Primal Fear)
6 – Psychic Warrior – (Sun School) (Dimension Swap)
7 – Psychic Warrior – (Tashalatora) (Strength of my Enemy)
8 – Psychic Warrior – (Psionic Lion’s Charge)
As a side note, the augment to this power is weirdly worded. It’s pretty obvious what it should be doing - +1 damage on each charge attack per augmented point – but the literal way it’s worded shows that it scales geometrically. Didn’t really notice that before…
9 – Psychic Warrior – (Shape Soulmeld: Therapeutic Mantle) (Vampiric Weapon)
10 – Psychic Warrior – (Psycarnum Infusion) (Greater Concealing Amorpha)
At the moment your only incarnum receptacle is Therapeutic Mantle, which doesn’t benefit all that much from Psycarnum Infusion, but give it two more levels and you’ll see.
11 – Psychic Warrior – (Danger Sense)
If this is less of an issue for you, the psywar list has a few other thematically similar powers to swap in. Detect Hostile Intent is a favorite of mine, in part because it’s kind of catchall.
12 – Psychic Warrior – (Sapphire Fist) (Dimension Door)
And since Dimension Swap probably isn’t cutting it by now, let’s get a better teleportation power. Unlike Primal Fear, Dimension Door actually got more useful in Complete Psionic, with (mechanically interesting but never used outside of that book) negative augments to make the power more efficient. Psychic warriors really need the help with stamina anyway.
13 – Psychic Warrior – (Psionic Meditation) (Steadfast Perception)
14 – Psychic Warrior – (Expansion)
15 – Psychic Warrior – (Improved Essentia Capacity) (Perfect Riposte)
16 – Psychic Warrior – (Expanded Knowledge) (Greater Stomp, Telekinetic Maneuver)
Interestingly, while this power does its own substitutions for base attack and Strength modifier on its maneuvers, it does not replace your size modifier. Go ahead and use Expansion to get a bigger boost on your telekinetic checks!
17 – Psychic Warrior – (Power Weapon)
18 – Psychic Warrior – (Expanded Knowledge) (Inconstant Location, Schism)
19 – Psychic Warrior – (Snap Kick) (Form of Doom)
20 – Psychic Warrior – (Dispelling Buffer)
- Inertial Armor, Prevenom Weapon, Primal Fear, Expansion, Power Weapon
- Dimension Swap, Strength of my Enemy, Psionic Lion's Charge
- Vampiric Weapon, Greater Concealing Amorpha, Danger Sense
- Dimension Door, Steadfast Perception, Telekinetic Maneuver
- Greater Stomp, Perfect Riposte, Schism
- Inconstant Location, Form of Doom, Dispelling Buffer
Snapshot: Strap on your +6 Wisdom, Constitution, and Dexterity boosters, and Tome up your Wisdom by 5. With no other equipment, we’re looking at 193 HP, +15 base attack (melee +33 with Greater Magic Weapon, with full Monk Flurry and unarmed damage), and saves of 19/13/22. Psionically you’ve got ML 18 and 220 power points, again with no other equipment to improve this stamina. Additionally, you’re looking at 9 Stunning Fist / Pain Touch uses per day, with a DC of 40 without the ki straps (and you can nerf enemy saves somewhat using Prevenom and/or Primal Fear). Defensively, with no equipment besides what’s mentioned here, you’re looking at around 31 base AC and touch AC before Inertial Armor; a pretty basic equipment loadout can easily get that to around 45 or so, and that’s before your buffs kick in.
Overall Strengths: Very powerful baseline AC and enough effects designed to bypass monk-style MAD (Tashalatora, Psywar manifesting, Intuitive Attack, Vampiric Weapon/Therapeutic Mantle), combined with potent stun/nausea DCs and effects that synergize with the “free” monk advancement (again with the Vampiric Weapon, but also Expansion, Snap Kick, Form of Doom, Psionic Lion’s Charge, and Strength of My Enemy) and the well-known teleport/Sun School effects. This sidelines the usual arms race connected to Power Attack (it won’t exceed Power Attack, but that’s not its primary role) and allows you to concentrate on effects that all support unarmed combat. You are surprisingly good at dealing ability damage thanks to Prevenom Weapon and Strength of My Enemy flurries. Finally, Expansion, Schism, and Telekinetic Maneuver allow you to exhibit a touch of action control and tactical combat on the side, again bringing that unarmed damage to bear in a way that a regular ol’ monk simply can’t even attempt (and even swordsages have trouble with – telekinesis has a much longer range than any martial maneuver).
Overall Weaknesses: As you’re not allowed to speak per se, try to avoid enemies smart enough to trigger that in combat by asking for your favourite drink. This also prevents you from throwing out cheesy pre-smackdown taunts – but considering this build’s namesake features a Capcom script, this is probably better dialogue than the original. Similarly, without some serious work on your equipment, you’ll have a problem with your psionic stamina, as with most psychic warrior builds (which should go without mentioning at this point). Your daily stuns are kind of low too (that’s one of the bigger things that Tashalatora doesn’t stack).
Variants: Shuffle the ability scores for more Int and Improved Trip (replace the Expanded Knowledge feats). Alternatively, grab the feats Shape Soulmeld: Worg Pelt and Split Chakra: Hands, and then find a way to open your hands chakra (there’s not a lot of room on your powers known list for Psionic Open Chakra, but it’s available via dorje). Mix with the Bite of the Wolf power and you can pick up a Supertrip ability without the need to boost your Intelligence. You won’t be able to take both the Worg Pelt and the Therapeutic Mantle, though. Finally, an Extra Stunning or two would allow more liberal use of your specialty takedown strikes.
There you have it. Go ahead and dragon-kick your enemies into the milky way.
Next week on the showcase: We're putting up the [AR] 0 Buff Time Gish, which won a vote during an earlier cycle but was skipped over. We've got about four writeups almost ready; once the buffer finalizes you'll be able to vote on them.