The Untouchable Mindblade - Psion|Swordmage/Dreamwalker What is this?
The Untouchable Mindblade is what happens when a psion picks up a polearm and starts throwing enemies around the battlefield. Normal psions have a hard time getting the incredible Polearm Momentum feat to work, but when you combine them with a swordmage to get the needed implement proficiency, they turn into unapproachable lockdown machines. Why is it good?
Polearm Momentum does disgusting things with several psion at-will powers and the swordmage's Luring Strike. Starting as early as level 4, you get an at-will area burst 1 proning attack. This is followed by a close burst 2 push + prone attack that also boosts your own defenses at level 7. At level 11, things just get silly when you get acces to Polearm Gamble and Heavy Blade Opportunity. When an enemy tries to approach you, you knock him prone and shift away as an opportunity action. This makes you practically untouchable, as far as melee attacks go.
It's also fairly item-independent, with just the Githyanki Silver Weapon (augmented with Siberys Shard of the Mage) + Headband of Intellect, Antipathy Gloves and of course Rushing Cleats as recommended items. At what levels does it work?
The Mindblade is designed to start working as early as level 1, with a fun marking + invisibility trick. At levels 4, 7 and 11 you add new weapons to your arsenal, and after level 12 you're basically free to choose what you want. Because I don't have a lot of experience with Epic play I chose to stop at level 20, but suggestions for Epic Destinies, feats and powers are welcome! The build Spoiler:
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Mindblade, level 20
Githzerai, Swordmage|Psion, Dreamwalker
Spellscarred Harbinger Starting Feature Option: Vanish
Versatile Expertise Option: Versatile Expertise (Heavy Blade)
Versatile Expertise Option: Versatile Expertise (Polearm)
Spellscarred Harbinger Level 10 Feature Option: Twist Fate
Swordmage Aegis (Hybrid) Option: Aegis of Shielding
Discipline Focus (Hybrid) Option: Telekinesis Focus (Hybrid)
Psionic Augmentation (Hybrid) Option: Hybrid Encounter Power
Auspicious Birth (Auspicious Birth Benefit)
Theme: Spellscarred Harbinger
Hybrid Talent: Swordmage Warding
FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 15, CON 13, DEX 16, INT 23, WIS 18, CHA 9
STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 13, CON 12, DEX 14, INT 16, WIS 13, CHA 8
AC: 34 Fort: 28 Ref: 33 Will: 33
HP: 131 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 32
Arcana +21, Athletics +19, History +21, Perception +19
Acrobatics +15, Bluff +9, Diplomacy +9, Dungeoneering +14, Endurance +11, Heal +14, Insight +14, Intimidate +9, Nature +14, Religion +16, Stealth +13, Streetwise +9, Thievery +13
Spellscarred Harbinger Utility: Spellscar Empowerment
Githzerai Racial Power: Iron Mind
Swordmage Feature: Aegis of Shielding
Psion Feature: Far Hand
Swordmage At-Will Attack 1: Luring Strike
Psion At-Will Attack 1: Memory Hole (replaced with Psychic Anomaly at 3)
Swordmage Encounter Attack 1: Foesnare (replaced with Dimensional Vortex at 13)
Psion Daily Attack 1: Living Missile (replaced with Shred Reality at 19)
Psion Utility 2: Transport Self
Psion At-Will Attack 3: Psychic Anomaly
Swordmage Daily Attack 5: Swordmage Shielding Fire (replaced with Reaper's Challenge at 15)
Swordmage Utility 6: Armathor's Step
Psion Attack 7: Kinetic Buffer
Psion Attack 9: Mind Blast
Psion Utility 10: Mind over Flesh
Time Bender Attack 11: Dream Blade
Time Bender Utility 12: Dream Stride
Swordmage Encounter Attack 13: Dimensional Vortex (replaced with Surprising Transposition at 17)
Swordmage Attack 15: Reaper's Challenge
Psion Utility 16: Mind Blank
Swordmage Attack 17: Surprising Transposition
Psion Attack 19: Shred Reality
Time Bender Attack 20: True Dream Form
Level 1: Versatile Expertise
Level 2: Battle Awareness
Level 4: Polearm Momentum
Level 6: Githzerai Blade Master
Level 8: Armor Proficiency: Leather
Level 11: Polearm Gamble
Level 11: Heavy Blade Opportunity
Level 12: Psychic Lock
Level 14: Hybrid Talent
Level 16: Improved Swordmage Warding / Armor Proficiency: Hide
Level 18: Greater Swordmage Warding / Improved Defenses
Level 20: Hafted Defense
Rushing Cleats (heroic tier), Antipathy Gloves (heroic tier), Battle Harness Leather Armor +4, Githyanki Silver Glaive +4, Amulet of Protection +4, Headband of Intellect (heroic tier), Elven Chain Shirt (paragon tier), Siberys Shard of the Mage.
====== End ======
- Race: I picked Githzerai for the +2 initiative (great for a controller), +2 to saves against daze/dominate/stun (great for a defender), and the defensive racial power for when enemies come after you instead of your allies. However, any Int/Wis or Int/Dex race will work. Shadar-Kai is a good alternative thanks to the defensive ability to turn insubstantial.
- Swordmage Aegis: let's get one thing straight - although you have the ability to mark, you do not want to be anywhere near combat. So the best Aegis is hands-down Shielding, even though you won't be preventing a lot of damage due to your Constitution being in the toilet.
- Paragon Path: in order to get the most out of the psionic powers, I picked a psion paragon path for the extra power points. And let me tell you, they have some very good paths! I went with the tactically amazing Dreamwalker, of course. Being able to conjure your Dream Form amidst a group of enemies and then start spamming Kinetic Burst is very powerful.
- Theme: Spellscarred Harbinger provides a very good defensive option with the ability to turn invisible once/encounter. Combined with Iron Mind, enemies have to work hard to put you down. Also provides a saving throw reroll or a minor action teleport 2 at level 10.
Besides this theme, Knight Hospitaler and Order Adept are also okay.
I want to make this build LFR-legal, so Dark Sun themes are out. However, if you're allowed to use those, Noble Adept is by far the best option thanks to the extra power point.
- Feats: during paragon you finally have room for feats that improve your defenses. But there's some conflict between Improved & Greater Swordmage Warding on the one hand, and Hide Armor Proficiency and Improved Defenses on the other. Since the bonusses from GSW and ID are both feat bonusses, you basically choose between having one more point of AC (Warding feats) or one more point of Fort, Ref and Will (Hide and Defenses feats). If you manage to bump up your CON to 15 though, Hide Armor wins out thanks to Hide Armor Specialization (which you will take in Epic). Tricks
Level 1: Aegis of Assault + Memory Hole/Vanish: with an AC of 14 at level 1, you're not much of a defender. Fortunately, you can bump this up to 19 for a turn by turning invisible, encouraging your mark to look elsewhere for a target and trigger your Aegis.
Level 4: Polearm Momentum + Psychic Anomaly: your major lockdown trick. You choose an area burst 1 within range 10, and every enemy in the zone gets attacked at the start of its turn. If you hit, you reposition it within the burst and prone it. You can repeat this trick every single turn. If you pump 2 power points into the attack, the enemy is becomes dazed, but there's no slide involved, so no proning.
Level 7: Polearm Momentum + Kinetic Buffer: your big burst attack. Every enemy in close burst 2 gets hit for some force damage, is pushed 2 squares and proned. And, as the cherry on top, you get a +2 power bonus to all
defenses until the end of your next turn.
Works only when augmented with 2 power points though, so don't waste those other stuff! Combine with Armathor's Step for good positioning and an attack bonus, and Manifest Dream Form so you won't have to be near melee at all.
Level 11: Heavy Blade Opportunity + Polearm Gamble + Luring Strike + Rushing Cleats: this combination will make you truly untouchable. When an enemy moves next to you, you use Luring Strike as an opportunity attack. If you hit, you shift 1 square, shift the enemy 2 squares (thanks to Rushing Cleats) into the square you left, prone him, and finally shift away 1 more square. If the enemy doesn't have reach or a ranged attack, it's SOL. Your Antipathy Gloves make sure nobody can shift next to you, so Polearm Gamble will always trigger.
Level 12: Psychic Lock + Githyanki Silver weapon: an oldy-but-goody. Works especially well with your burst attacks, your mark (for an additional penalty), and your defense boost from Kinetic Buffer. Really leaves marked enemies with no good choice. Role
As a glaive-wielding swordmage, you won't benefit much from Swordmage Warding*. On top of that, your psion half prevents you from wearing anything but cloth. This means you only have your Int-bonus to improve your AC, and it costs 4 feats to get another measly +5. You do have a few tricks with invisibility, but you'll mostly behave like a ranged controller. At late heroic and during paragon your Int rises, you obtain Kinetic Buffer and you get room for AC-boosting feats and items. At level 11 you become unapproachable thanks to Heavy Blade Opportunity and Polearm Gamble, so you'll be able to mix it up in melee. There's no particular reason to do that though, so try to stay out of melee range if you can and keep locking down enemies with your at-wills.
*Alan SHB and Alcestis brought it to my attention that, RAW, implements can be wielded one-handed, even if they're normally two-handed weapons. This opens up a slight can of worms with regards to Swordmage Warding: when, if ever, do you hold your glaive two-handed and when one-handed?
If you assume that you normally hold it one-handed and only hold it two-handed when you make a weapon attack (like Luring Strike), then Swordmage Warding becomes a better pick than Armor Proficiency: Leather, and should probably be picked earlier than level 8. The combination of the two gives you a +5 AC bonus for only 2 feats, something you might want to consider when picking feats during heroic (before you get the Polearm Gamble/Heavy Blade Opportunity combo). I'll stay conservative and assume that Swordmage Warding only gives +1 AC, but if you can convince your DM you should get +3, don't hesitate to take it! Possible variants
The above build is geared towards getting Polearm Momentum to work at the earliest practical opportunity, which would be level 4 when you raise your Dex/Wis to 15. But there are other ways, depending on which tier you want to play.
Heroic: if you're sure your character won't leave the heroic tier, there's no need to put any points whatsoever in Strength (for Heavy Blade Opportunity at paragon). This frees up points that you can put into Dex and Wis to get Polearm Momentum even earlier, so you can start proning with an augmented Force Punch at level 2.
Another benefit is that this makes Human a viable race (a pretty good one even, since you get one additional feat and at-will power so you don't have to give up your Aegis + Memory hole trick at level 3). Unfortunately no Polearm Momentum until level 4 though, because of the 16,15,14,11,10,8 arrray.
Paragon and higher: if you start at level 11 or above, you can safely postpone getting Polearm Momentum until level 11 when all your stats are automatically raised by 1 point. You can get away with a 16,14,13,13,12,10 array for a Human, or 17,14,13,11,11,8 for any Int+Str/Wis/Dex race.
Also at paragon, when you become more durable in melee, you can choose to abandon your ranged controller role and focus more on up-front combat. You do this by replacing Psychic Anomaly with the level 13 power Kinetic Wave, which pushes all creatures in a close blast 3 and creates difficult terrain when augmented. Now you have a close burst 2 and a close blast 3 push+prone at-will power which gives all targets a -2 to hit. Not bad, eh? Add Double Aegis for more fun with attack penalties.
Finally, if you want to play a true controller instead of controller/defender, you can hybridize your psion half with a wizard instead of a swordmage to add zone abuse to your arsenal. Good powers are Beguiling Strands at level 1 (close blast 5, push 3), Psychic Anomaly at 3, Acid Mire at 5 (damage when they enter and fall prone within the zone), Repelling Sphere at 7 (close burst 3 push, possible to center on active familiar), Wall of Fire at 9, etc. You get your glaive implement through Arcane Implement Proficiency. Maybe I'll build that too someday, but in another thread. Thanks to
Wazat1, for the absurdly good Polearm Momentum handbook
Belile, for the also very good psion handbook
Teracide for the beautiful picture.
Everyone posting! To do
I'd like to eventually build this character up all the way to level 30. I'm open to suggestions for items, the best paragon path, and Epic Destinies/feats. And of course every piece of advice is greatly appreciated.
Thanks for reading!