Yes, it's a day late. I had a masters' thesis to submit. I think you'll understand.
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, RadicalTaoist gets the spotlight with the T3, or, more appropriately…
TASHALATORA TRIPLE THREAT
My Kung Fu is more Powerful
Required Books: XPH, Complete Psionic, Eberron Campaign Setting (1 feat), Secrets of Sarlona (1 feat), Tome of Battle (1 feat).
Unearthed Arcana used: None!
Background: Specialization is the key to victory as an adventurer. Sometimes, however, specializing in one thing can allow you to specialize in another “for free”. And sometimes, just sometimes, the two of them together are only a short way off from specializing in a third. And so on.
The T3 is an example of this, based around the amazing monk/any-psionic hybrid feat in Secrets of Sarlona. Able to switch freely between skirmish brawler, position controller and blaster, and healer as the situation demands, the Tashalatora Triple Threat is one of those people who specializes in anything. She’s not a skillmonkey, and she only uses one type of magic, but the flexible nature in which she can apply it will surprise you.
- Race: Human. The bonus feat is too good to pass up.
- Ability Scores: 14/14/14/8/16/8. You’re a monk; MAD comes with the territory. All your advances go into Wisdom. (If you want to be slightly more skilled, going to 15 Wisdom and 10 Intelligence is a possibility, especially if you’re at a higher level or have good equipment availability.)
Skill Notes: You’re a monk and an ardent. Neither are experts. Pump up Concentration and spend the rest as you see fit.
Basic Equipment: Again, you’re a monk and an ardent. You could be running around in a bathrobe and still generally be OK.
Magical Gear Goals: Nothing out of the ordinary, really – ability score boosters, backup manifesting gear (psicrowns, etc – note that ardents interact weirdly with these), and anything to support your monk features will cover all the bases quite well.
Build Stub: Ardent 18 / Monk 2.
1 – Ardent – (Force mantle, Life mantle) (Psicrystal Affinity, Practiced Manifester) (Touch of Health, Force Screen) *
To start things off, you’re a basic healer and backup sentry at the lowest of the low levels, when these really matter. You can also wear heavier armor (though you’re likely to only be able to afford scale mail). Think of yourself as a less versatile cleric for now.
2 – Monk – (Unarmed Strike, Flurry, AC Bonus) (Improved Grapple)
3 – Monk – (Evasion) (Monastic Training, Tashalatora) *
Monastic Training can be taken as a monk bonus feat, so that’s what you’re doing here. Tashalatora is of course beyond awesome; from now on, your ardent levels basically give you everything you could want from monk anyway.
4 – Ardent – (Law mantle) (Deflection Field) *
This isn’t actually the best power available to you (it scales horribly), but ardent power selection sometimes dictates weird choices.
5 – Ardent – (Body Purification) *
Ability damage sucks. Try not to get it.
6 – Ardent – (Expanded Knowledge) (Heavy Earth, Share Pain) *
Share Pain + Psicrystal gives the T3 enough durability to survive on the front lines – it’s basically a 50% increase in total HP. Heavy Earth is one of those powers everyone skims over, but you really should give it a look – it’s a surprisingly useful control power.
7 – Ardent – (Repose mantle) (Solicit Psicrystal) *
This isn’t so useful now, but ardentpower timing is tricky, and this is really important later on.
8 – Ardent – (Telekinetic Maneuver) *
See? Told you.
This power is amazing. Not only do you have full ML and a very high key ability modifier, you also have Improved Grapple (for free, thank you monk), a decent unarmed damage value (again, monk + tashalatora), and Solicit Psicrystal (so you can still keep fighting or TK:Grappling other creatures). Go ahead and Force Choke someone.
9 – Ardent – (Expanded Knowledge) (Psionic Revivify, Strength of My Enemy) *
Revivify is one of those powers you really want on your team, and you need an extra Life mantle power, so go ahead and solve two problems at once. And as for Strength of My Enemy, it’s one of the best buff powers ever printed – and you can use it with Flurry (which is already almost at the 2-attacks-no-penalty stage).
10 – Ardent – (Grip of Iron) *
Since you’re TK:Grappling, why not give you the ability to chokeslam the Tarrasque?
11 – Ardent – (Mend Wounds)
12 – Ardent – (Time mantle) (Expanded knowledge) (Inertial Armor, Concussive Detonation) *
You could probably stand to get Inertial Armor online sooner, since it’s efficient as hell on a monk-type, but we’ve slotted it here. Concussive Detonation isn’t all that efficient, but it’s a useful and hard to resist blast power, should you need to switch to that style.
13 – Ardent – (Psionic Restoration) *
Negative levels suck. Try not to get them.
14 – Ardent – (Personal Mind Blank) *
This shuts down a lot of effects very quickly. Your Will save is very good anyway, but immunity is better.
15 – Ardent – (Expanded Knowledge) (True Metabolism, Form of Doom) *
Go ahead and play psywar. See how well Form of Doom combines with Strength of My Enemy from earlier? And note that Solicit Psicrystal lets you shunt over one of your TK Grapples so you can continue to grab people before ripping them to shreds?
16 – Ardent – (Telekinetic Sphere) *
Far, FAR better than it looks.
17 – Ardent – (Fate mantle, Switch Time and Life priority) (Time Regression) *
Okay, yes, this might be a bit cheesy, but it is an amazing power, and we managed to time a mantle priority swap for when 9ths came online, so you have to concentrate on Time powers from here on out anyway.
18 – Ardent – (Snap Kick) (Temporal Accleration) *
This could have come online sooner but it would have required a LOT of power shuffling. As it stands, your manifesting is about as good as your actions will allow, so we turn another feat on that doesn’t rely on the action economy to function. Snap Kick also helps in quickly charging up Strength of My Enemy if you’d like.
19 – Ardent – (Mass Time Hop) *
Another one of those glorious psionic powers that does way more than it says on the label.
20 – Ardent – (Anticipatory Strike) *
Why, no, I don’t think I like how that initiative roll turned out. Let me tell you what happens instead…
Snapshot: A very plain build with very plain gear – give her +6 Con and +6 Wisdom boosters, a +5 Wisdom tome, and +4 Strength/Dexterity boosters (the Strength one is optional due to SoME, but I’m including it here for a baseline) and you’ve got 174 HP (with Share Pain effectively raising this to 261, and you have True Metabolism), 70 skill points, +15 base attack (melee +24 with Greater Magic Fang, and you have full Flurry powers and Snap Kick along with level 20 monk unarmed damage; SoME can charge this up more), saves of +14/+13/+25 (with Evasion and Personal Mind Blank). Your ardent manifester level is 20, and you have 390 power points, which is pretty damn good for psionic stamina (especially if you’ll perhaps be punching things on some rounds instead of manifesting every single action). Furthermore, using only this gear, your AC is a minimum of 35 before buffs. This is a pretty solid skeleton to operate on, particularly if you employ Telekinetic Grapple (and optionally Grip of Iron) and Solicit Psicrystal first, then switch to skirmisher or healer as requirements demand. (Solicit Psicrystal means that if you need to drop a Mend Wounds on someone, it doesn’t take too much away from your action economy.)
Overall Strengths: While not a truly exceptional build in any one area, the T3’s simplicity is its strength. It can slip into just about any non-expert role needed with almost no seam. The one it works best at is probably grappling, but if that isn’t needed it can do melee support, backup blasting, backup healing, and even tanking to some degree. Most of her buffs are long duration, too, so apart from SoME and Form of Doom, she doesn’t need much time to switch between these modes either.
Overall Weaknesses: While being solid overall, she’s still a monk, and suffers from the usual monk weaknesses. This is compounded by her big trick being shut down completely with Freedom of Movement; investing in Dispelling weapons would probably be a good choice (if you try to TK Grapple and find Freedom, Solicit the power to your psicrystal and switch to punching mode).
Variants: The mantle selections aren’t as fixed as they look. If you want to emphasize a different aspect of the ardent, you can dive right in and juggle them around; to avoid monkeying with the power timing, just make sure that if you swap a mantle, you pick powers from the new mantle at exactly the same time you had powers from the old one. The basic structure – Ardent 1 (Practiced Manifester) + Monk 2 (Monastic Training + Tashalatora) + Ardent 2-20 – is about as generic as it comes with Tashalatora, and considering how flexible the ardent is, there’s a potentially limitless range of options available to you if you wish to step down from Triple Threat territory.
RT also suggests that taking the Fate mantle earlier and grabbing Defensive Precognition might be worth it, but the power shuffling is kind of headache-worthy. Ardent is tough like that. Once you have the Fate mantle, though, a psicrown with that power is a good investment.
There you have it. While not gamebreakingly strong, the T3 is quite solid in an array of situations, and has enough flexibility to switch between them as needed.
Next up: Since we’ve gone through most of The Runners Up by this point, we’ll switch to Spikes Everywhere. Let me know if you’d rather see [DH] Eat, Sleep, Gank, [RT] #1 Snoipah, or [AR] Slash And Burn. (I’m quite fond of all three of these, personally.)
Comments are open, and be sure to leave a vote!