Taking the plunge. I'm going Soulknife.

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Now I realize how bad of an idea this is already. Its a terrible class, but is it really a terrible class when you're playing with terrible people? Its been a long time since I played with this particular group, but I got asked to reroll 4 times last time I played because they told me my double-scimitar Desert Wind focused Swordsage, my Greatsword singing Factotum, my Double Dagger Psychic Rogue, and my Dragonfire Inspiration Bard (admittedly that one was scary) were all overshadowing the rest of the crew. I was competing with a straight PHB Paladin, a Dragon Shaman, a PHB fighter, and Scout, so maybe they were right.

At any rate! Gonna roll up a Soulknife so no matter how mediocre I think the character is, he can't possibly overshadow anyone this time around. Its going to be level 5, and this is what I've got so far. Oh, and its level 5:

Human
1.* Hidden talent (via the mind's eye alt class feature)
1. Two-Weapon Fighting (houserule from the DM that you can take it with a +0 BaB because +1 BaB is a bad prerequesite)
1. Martial Study (Wolf-Fang Strike)
3. Mind Cleave

A lot of the character's design is around synergy with the Bard, who is going to be playing a Dragonfire Inspiration Bard. I'm gonna be trying to get as many attacks as possible early on to stack on the damage. I haven't rolled stats or picked skills yet, but honestly that can wait for now. Oh, and I'll be running 2 short sword mindblades, if that isn't obvious.

The idea for this character is to be a  passable melee combatant within a group of players that are pretty traditionally terrible at the game. If I can accomplish that then I've done my job. Of course, I'm also afraid I'm going to get told to take it down a notch again as it is...
Xeph Soulbow with TWF & Xeph Celerity will get you a bury load of attacks, too. ;)
"Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter." -Condoleezza Rice "My fellow Americans... I've just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes." - Ronald Reagan This user has been banned from you by the letters "O-R-C" and the numbers "2, 3, 4, and 6"
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56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
Kalashtar soulknives can pick up access to Holy on their mind blades, and do so rather early with the Soulblade Warrior feat - all in Races of Eberron. Likewise, you can add Bane to it through a Mind Blade Guantlet (MIC), although like so many psionic things it's ridiculously overpriced (both in terms of gold and in terms of action costs - you'd need to expend two psionic foci if you want to use it in two weapons). If you're dead-set on attacking multiple times, you may as well have as many possible damage boosts as you can.


EDIT: I see a Martial Study there, so presumably they didn't ban the Tome outright (just your swordsage). If this is the case, definitely consider something like Soulblade Warrior (+2 levels for mind-blade enhancement ability) and a small (say, a well-timed 2-level) warblade or swordsage dip for Diamond Mind and Tiger Claw maneuvers. (Pick depending on your ability scores; a high-Wis soulknife - perhaps for making use of Hidden Talent and qualifying for cool feats like Up the Walls - would benefit more from soulknife, while warblade gets a better maneuver recovery.) Diamond Mind will let your Concentration skill do something, including offensively and defensively, while Tiger Claw is just badass if you're already working for it. (Special note: Pouncing Charge. Bladewind is a full attack (not a separate full round action). Pouncing Charge lets you take a full attack at the end of a charge. You can pounce into the center of an enemy formation and unleash a bladewind if necessary, meaning all of a sudden that ability may not be entirely useless.)

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

Not bad advise all around. The issues I'm having rought now is that the current DM isn't sure whether this is going to be a 1 shot or an actual campaign right now, so there's that to contend with. Its absolutely going to start at level 5, so I have to take those 5 levels of Soulknife so I can get shape mindblade and free draw (I just really like free draw). I'll ahve to look into Soulblade Warrior. I've never heard of it before. I was also considering homebrewing something that allows Soulknife to be a martial adept, but they're not big on homebrew stuff for the most part, so that would just be a pet project. I'm thinking Warblade maneuver progression with 1 less readied maneuver, refresh whenever you expend psychic strike. Something like that.

More on topic, I like the idea of a welltimed dip into Warblade or Sword Sage. I'll ahve to see what would work best for my character.
Also, to add to Tempests idea, you get +2 to hit, and you get +IL to damage if you're using Leading the Charge (level 1 White Raven Stance). Overall, that's pretty spiffy as attack sequences go.

Soulknife is one of those underdeveloped classes that should really be better than it is, but lack of secondary material and lack of synergy with a lot of other classes leaves it weak. Weaker even than Monk or Rogue since you don't have Synergy feats (such as Daring Outlaw, etc.). That's exactly the sort of feat that would fix Soulknife really quickly. See if your DM would allow such a homebrew feat to allow stacking with Warblade or Swordsage levels or some such.

Have the feat require a Diamond Mind Stance, and the Mind Blade class feature. "While using a Diamond Mind stance your Swordsage and Warblade levels stack with your Soulknife levels for purposes of determining your effective enhancement bonus with your Mind Blade. Additionally your Soulknife class levels count as initiator class levels for purposes of determining which maneuvers you qualify to learn and the effects of maneuvers dependant on initiator level. You do not gain any additional maneuvers known or stances known."

 Not all DM's are recptive to Homebrew but something like this wouldn't go amis for a Soulknife/Initiator and would fit feel very well. Maybe the DM might allow additional special abilities for the weapon or the like, possibly allow fast swapping while in Diamond Mind Stance.
Natch, I was gonna post a rough-in Soulknife ... but then I remembered I had more Kitty Videos to watch.



edit --- Ooh , there's still (scattered) access to Carnivore's Soulknifes on the closed BG board.

Here comes your 19th forums breakdown ... ohh who's to blame, it ain't 5E driving you insane.

 

Also, to add to Tempests idea, you get +2 to hit, and you get +IL to damage if you're using Leading the Charge (level 1 White Raven Stance). Overall, that's pretty spiffy as attack sequences go.

Soulknife is one of those underdeveloped classes that should really be better than it is, but lack of secondary material and lack of synergy with a lot of other classes leaves it weak. Weaker even than Monk or Rogue since you don't have Synergy feats (such as Daring Outlaw, etc.). That's exactly the sort of feat that would fix Soulknife really quickly. See if your DM would allow such a homebrew feat to allow stacking with Warblade or Swordsage levels or some such.

Have the feat require a Diamond Mind Stance, and the Mind Blade class feature. "While using a Diamond Mind stance your Swordsage and Warblade levels stack with your Soulknife levels for purposes of determining your effective enhancement bonus with your Mind Blade. Additionally your Soulknife class levels count as initiator class levels for purposes of determining which maneuvers you qualify to learn and the effects of maneuvers dependant on initiator level. You do not gain any additional maneuvers known or stances known."

 Not all DM's are recptive to Homebrew but something like this wouldn't go amis for a Soulknife/Initiator and would fit feel very well. Maybe the DM might allow additional special abilities for the weapon or the like, possibly allow fast swapping while in Diamond Mind Stance.




I completely agree that the Soulknife needs homebrew feats in order to work. I think a tie in with the Martial Adepts would be perfect. That feat you proposed would be great. I would personally change it ever so slightly though. Allow it to always stack Warblade/Swordsage levels for Mind Blade strength, but while in a Diamond Mind stance you can ready Psychic Strike as if it were a Diamond Mind maneuver. That would allow you to use Psychic strike more than once a fight, outside of the lucky mind cleave, because honestly, who spends their move action to ready Psychic Strike again past level 9? And its not like it would even be a very good maneuver. But even past that I would love to see a feat that allowed the Soulknife and 'X' to stack for Mind Blade strength. 

 
Or just automatically get it back whenever you use your Warblade or Swordsage recovery method.
The Soulknife is hardly the greatest class, but you're playing at L5, right? Up until then it doesn't really do any worse than anything else, and after that magic starts to throw its weight around far more than most lame melee can do anyway. Compared with the Paladin or Fighter (both PHB-only?), it actually sounds unlikely that your Soulknife lameness is really going to manifest itself.

I sometimes show people these arena fights as reference - they're not a great metric because those character particularly are SRD-only, fight in (usually) 1v1 and against (usually) PC classed foes, and sometimes they win or lose because someone's doing something wierd for fun, or they just get (un)lucky. However, there's a theme that at L3-5 the Soulknife does actually pretty well, all things considered. Then it starts losing, badly.

So yeah, it's not a strong class, but even just being able to take feats from beyond the PHB is probably going to set you ahead of that Fighter, by the sounds of it.
Look, I understand needing to play a bad class, but there's a difference between "bad" and "Oh my god, what the hell is this?" Soulknife's class features are pretty much "Hey, here, have a level-appropriate weapon. What, other people can have level-appropriate weapons and class features? Preposterous." It makes Samurai look good. It makes Truenamer look good. It makes Monk look good. Hell, I'd bet an Expert would be better in almost all circumstances.

If I may suggest another crappy, but not completely non-functional class, I'd look at the dragon shaman.



Nah, I totally get what you're saying. I'm intimiately familiar with the levels of crap the Soulknife embodies. The thing is it also represents a concept I've always been super interested in with the mind blade. Plus I've always enjoyed the challenge of making a passable Soulknife, so there's that. I've seen Dragon Shamans in action, and they're pretty underwhelming too, but they make a good 5th man. Thing is, right now it doesn't have the buttons I'm looking to press. I'd either run a Soulknife, a Gish like a Battle Sorcerer or Wilder, or a jack of all trades ala Factotum. Actually, that last one is sounding pretty nice right about now...

Soulbow is actually a pretty effective PrC, and allows you a couple tricks most bow wielder a don't get - namely, the ability to both fire & threaten in melee, and the ability to TWF longbows.
"Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter." -Condoleezza Rice "My fellow Americans... I've just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes." - Ronald Reagan This user has been banned from you by the letters "O-R-C" and the numbers "2, 3, 4, and 6"
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56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
Look, I understand needing to play a bad class, but there's a difference between "bad" and "Oh my god, what the hell is this?" Soulknife's class features are pretty much "Hey, here, have a level-appropriate weapon. What, other people can have level-appropriate weapons and class features? Preposterous." It makes Samurai look good. It makes Truenamer look good. It makes Monk look good. Hell, I'd bet an Expert would be better in almost all circumstances.

If I may suggest another crappy, but not completely non-functional class, I'd look at the dragon shaman.



Nah, I totally get what you're saying. I'm intimiately familiar with the levels of crap the Soulknife embodies. The thing is it also represents a concept I've always been super interested in with the mind blade. Plus I've always enjoyed the challenge of making a passable Soulknife, so there's that. I've seen Dragon Shamans in action, and they're pretty underwhelming too, but they make a good 5th man. Thing is, right now it doesn't have the buttons I'm looking to press. I'd either run a Soulknife, a Gish like a Battle Sorcerer or Wilder, or a jack of all trades ala Factotum. Actually, that last one is sounding pretty nice right about now...


The biggest issue with Soulknife, well, beyond having all of its class features being replicatable with a small investment of wealth, is that another class does it better.

So the real question is this: Are you looking for a fun character that won't overshadow your group, or are you looking to make a soulknife?



Argh. I'm really torn. I think that the soulbound weapon feature is really cool, but 1/min a level means that I'll be spending the first round of every combat just drawing them dang thing. Plus that's a pretty hefty investment into the Psychic Warrior's paltry PP pool. I really hate the idea of wasting the first turn of every combat, and try to ensure I have the PP to actually use my weapon.

Could use the incarnate weapon feature, which costs nothing I think. But that defeats the purpose of using a low low tier class in the first place
Could use the incarnate weapon feature, which costs nothing I think. But that defeats the purpose of using a low low tier class in the first place

Those classes give me a headache. Everytime I open Magic of Incarnum I walk away feeling vulnerable and confused. I kind of get the basics, (I've got equipment slots that get occupied by class features I can swap out at the beginning of each day, right?) And a number of *blank* points I can spend on the "equipment", but as far as incarnums, and essentias, and chakras, and all those doo-dads I'm afraid I'm right clueless. The book itself just does a poor job of explaining it clearly.
Could use the incarnate weapon feature, which costs nothing I think. But that defeats the purpose of using a low low tier class in the first place

Those classes give me a headache. Everytime I open Magic of Incarnum I walk away feeling vulnerable and confused. I kind of get the basics, (I've got equipment slots that get occupied by class features I can swap out at the beginning of each day, right?) And a number of *blank* points I can spend on the "equipment", but as far as incarnums, and essentias, and chakras, and all those doo-dads I'm afraid I'm right clueless. The book itself just does a poor job of explaining it clearly.


The book DOES explain it, but the explanations are scattered. Here's how I explain it to new players (assuming they're playing a meldshaper).

You have one "chakra" for each body slot except Rings.
Each chakra can hold one soulmeld, chosen from the class lists (you "know" all of the melds on your class' list already). You can "shape" and "bind" a certain number of these at the start of the day, based off of your class table.  Think of these as spells.
 Simply having the meld shaped doesn't lock the slot. 
To bind a meld, you need to have the item slot's corresponding "Chakra Bind" class feature. If you bind the meld, it gets a better effect, but the item slot it's in becomes unavailable for items. Think of a bound soulmeld like a magic item.
Once a soulmeld is shaped, you can power it up with your essentia (a separate column on your class table). As a swift action, you can freely split however many essentia you have however you want between all of your melds. There IS a limit to how much essentia a single meld can hold, and it's based on your character level (not any specific class level). More essentia in a meld makes it stronger - think of it like a spell's caster level. 
If your situation changes, all it takes is a swift action to switch your essentia around to different melds. You might start with it in melds that give you speed and initiatve, shift it to melds that are weaponlike when you get into combat, then shift to a defensive meld just as the enemy's organizing their response.


(It helps to have a card like the one in the back of the book that shows all your item slots and chakras, and a pile of stones equal to your essentia. Write down how an effect scales on index cards - for instance, it might say "+4 to stealth skills, +2 per essentia" or whatever - and just move the stones between index cards as need be.)

It's very different from the rest of 3.5, but it's not insurmountably so. It has an internal logic to it, but that logic is hidden behind a LOT of new terminology.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

Okay, I think I get it now. So I can shape a meld, and get a benefit for having that meld. The more essentia I invest into it, the better that benefit is. If I lock it into a chakra slot then it gains an additional benefit, but I lose that equipment slot. Essentia can be shifted around as needed. That's actually pretty cool. So basically that entire book is what the Soulknife was trying to be in the first place. I'm having trouble finding the Incarnum Weapon feature though. Is it in the same book?
Okay, I think I get it now. So I can shape a meld, and get a benefit for having that meld. The more essentia I invest into it, the better that benefit is. If I lock it into a chakra slot then it gains an additional benefit, but I lose that equipment slot. Essentia can be shifted around as needed. That's actually pretty cool. So basically that entire book is what the Soulknife was trying to be in the first place. I'm having trouble finding the Incarnum Weapon feature though. Is it in the same book?


Incarnate Weapon is one of the incarnate's soulmelds, page 72. (Note that what I described is incarnum in its basic form; each class does something different with it. For incarnates, they have easy ways of boosting soulmeld essentia capacities beyond what your character level would indicate, and they are strongly tied to one of the four alignment components. Law tends to be accurate, Good tends to be defensive, Evil tends to be aggressive, and Chaos tends to be fast. Just read the class description.)

There's also the Incarnum Blade PrC (which binds your weapon to your chakras, in effect treating your weapon like a soulmeld and getting better weapon abilities from it) and, if you want to get more soulknifey, the book Weapons of Legacy has the Maru-Jehe, which is a short sword that can become a mind blade even if you aren't a soulknife. (If you are a soulknife, it benefits from your mind blade abilities as well as its own legacy weapon abilities).

Remember if you try either route that you don't actually need that many levels of Incarnate. Or of any meldshaper, really. I've seen totemist builds that get by with just two levels of Totemist, and the Psycarnum Warrior build in my sig manages to be devastating despite being Psychic Warrior 20. (Essentia caps scale with your character level, and can be enhanced with feats like Improved Soulmeld Capacity or Improved Essentia Capacity. You can also get extra essentia through playing an incarnum race (Azurin is easily the best - it's Human, without the skill points, but with +1 essentia), picking up incarnum feats, the Bonus Essentia feat at level 6, or use the Psycarnum Infusion feat to temporarily treat any particular receptacle as full. All of these feats are in the book.)

...Oddly enough, you might be able to pull this off with zero levels in Incarnate if you'd like. An Azurin with Shape Soulmeld (Incarnate Weapon), Bonus Essentia, and one other incarnum feat (probably one of the Cobalt feats; these all enhance something related to combat) would be able to shape a fully-charged Incarnate Weapon almost all the time.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

Hmm, there's a thought; would a gestalt soulknife/soulborn (both kind of sub-par) would work as the equivalent of a higher-Tier class?  I've previously considered fusing some of the weaker classes previously (like divine mind/paladin), though not this specific combination.

If nothing else, you'd have great HD features.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Fulminating Crab, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome LurkerIronglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
Soulbound Weapon is pretty cool, but not the same as the Soulknife - especially not at low levels. At L1 you can manifest Call Weapon like once per day, it's a 1 round manifesting time, and it lasts 1 minute. Whoop.

Personally I think I like Incarnum weapon the best. You can have a +1 from L1, and it scales far better (+1 from Expanded Soulmeld Capacity and +1 from Incarnate L3 means you can have a +3 weapon at L3!). However, you won't get special properties with it, only raw enhancement.

Soulknife sucks, I think we're all agreed, but it really depends on a lot of factors. In a low-level, low-optimisation game, then play your cards right and you probably won't even notice how bad it is - I mean, at that level, what the d20s say is far more important than your character's raw power anyway.
Compare a L1 Soulknife with a L1 Fighter. Both get d10. The Soulknife's weapon is worse, but free, and can't be disarmed. The Fighter gets a bonus feat, but the Soulknife gets Wild Talent. Kinda useless, but if he's allowed Hidden Talent, it takes him up to almost on par. His BAB is +0, but he gets Weapon Focus for free so (opportunity cost aside) he's still in line with the Fighter. Then the Soulknife gets 4 skill points, rather than 2, and a much better list (Autohypnosis, Tumble). The Soulknife also gets Ref/Will high, where the Fighter only gets Fort.

So we have our sucky class being no worse than another, very mainstream sucky class. A L3 or 4 snapshot probably doesn't look too bad either. Our +1d8 damage makes up for our worse weapon dice (remember you can prebuff this too for an OK alpha strike) and the +1 Mind Blade, whilst it won't outpace the weapon the Fighter can buy anyway, saves us over 2k we could spend on something else. We're probably going to get Gauntlets of Ogre Power sooner, for example.
Unfortunately, from this point on, the Soulknife kind of gets worse and worse, and it was never good to begin with. I mean, I'm comparing it to the Fighter here, so it's not like it was ever powerful. However, at L1-5 I don't think it's unplayably bad, just bad. Given how bad the rest of your team sound... you might be behind them, but probably not that much.

Point being, people cry about the Soulknife, but if you don't think you can play one, don't. You know what you're getting - a sub-par class to keep you behind a party of sub-par other characters.
I agree that Incarnum would be a MUCH more sensible way to go, flavor-wise.  I also agree that Soulknives suck.  Finally, I think that whatever you do with a Soulknife, you're more or less obligated to dip heavily into other classes - in effect, play a character who does well DESPITE his one or two levels of Soulknife.  Sigh.
 

... however ... 

In the grey years of my optimization, I'm starting to embark on little thought-projects; you know, totally impractical stuff that's just fun to play around with.  Things like how to play a venerable non-spell caster who doesn't suck.  One thing I've been toying with is the question of "boner builds."

The idea is simple: 20 levels of a sucky class.  And when I say "sucky," I mean red-hot, steaming piles like Soulknives, Samurai, Swashbucklers (hmm ... it seems the sucky classes suffer from sibilant "s" syndrome ...) and the like.

In any case, some feat combos for 5 levels Soulknife viability (in a low-power campaign, mind you - nothing scary or game-breaking here!).  The idea is not just to be a straight Soulknife and survive, but also to try to stick to the idea of the class - not do anything that would be too ... I dunno ... un-Soulknifey.  Ew.

So first, build goals (for my little thought experiment, which you may or may not want to use):


  • Full Soulknife levels (after all, that's what makes it a Soulknife build!).

  • Doesn't suck completely (just enough that it doesn't scare people who can't optimize).

  • Entertaining - cinematic in some way (if not, why bother?).


Without further ado, here's how I'd meet those goals:

    1. Use the Mind's Eye variant rules you mentioned earlier so you can have some extra combat feats.  Really, you NEED them.  Plus, SCREW Psychic Strike.  Oh, and use Hidden Talent to pick up a handy 1st level power - there are tons to choose from.

    2. I'm not sure about TWF.  After all, you won't hit much (though I do love me some Dragonfire Inspiration!).

    3. (1st) Aereni Skill Focus - Iaijutsu Focus (PGtE, OA) + (3rd) Combat Expertise + (Soulknife 3) Improved Feint: Now, since you can manifest as a swift action, feint first, then manifest, then slice with Iaijutsu Focus, dealing lots of extra sixes.  Costs you a move each round, so it's hardly unfair - just replaces the random awfulness of Psychic Strike with something much more like what Psychic Strike SHOULD be.  Oh, you'll need to be an Elf, too.  Sweet flavor: you move as if to attack, but as the target hunches its shoulders and moves to defend against the blade descending in your right hand, it disappears - and reappears as a projection from the open palm of your left, which slams home into your foe's neck.

    4. (1st) Battle Jump (FG-UE) + (human) Leap of the Heavens (PHBII) + (3rd) Up the Walls: Your Soulknife feat remains open.  Another flavorful and cinematic pick!  Run up the walls and drop on enemy heads, dealing double damage on the charge.  You could also do this with an Azurin who took Shape Soulmeld - Airstep Sandals, which let you fly 20 feet (with a 1 essentia investment, which you have just from being Azurin) as a move action.  Depending on how your DM ruled, you could then take either Improved Flight or Power Climb (from the Draconomicon) so you can boost straight up, then drop on enemy heads.  Tres cinematique!  Follow up with Power Attack as your 6th, then Leap Attack from CA as your 7th level feats.  Either way, be sure to pick up Skate as your Hidden Talent power to reap the Jump boost from the extra 15 ft. of speed.  Also, you might consider being a Silverbrow human from Dragon Magic and grabbing the Dragon Wings feat for a +10 racial bonus to Jump (boing!).

    5. (1st) Aberration Blood - Flexible Limbs (LoM) + (human) Inhuman Reach (LoM) + (3rd) Extended Reach (Savage Species) + Combat Reflexes (Soulknife 3): You have arms that stretch 15 feet and Combat Reflexes.  This synergizes nicely with Dragonfire Inspiration, and you can stand next to the Bard and give him some much-needed protection while he rains fire arrows on enemies.  Alternatively, ditch Extended Reach (which is a stretch, since your flexible limbs from Aberration Blood could be argued as not technically a "non-rigid attack form") and grab Stand Still.  Now you can stop anyone who tries to attack your Bard in their tracks, but not deal any damage - none of the other players or the DM will get intimidated, and everybody (especially the Bard) will appreciate you playing defense.

    6. Most of the fun stuff having to do with shaping your Mind Blade into an Exotic Weapon (I'm thinking about harpoons, a Ri'tiik, rope dart (yay for 15 ft. of reach!), crescent knife if you're really feeling cheesy, etc.) you have to wait until 6th level for - boo.  But as of 6th, you can pick up Reshape Mindblade from Dragon #341.  Granted, it sucks that you could just spend ONE feat and use a normal weapon, instead of TWO just so your weapon is shiny and can't get sundered, but what the hell - this is a Soulknife build.  Sigh.


That's my two cents.  Or penny, I guess, since it's a Soulknife build.

Cheers!

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