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Beemer

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rpg preview: soulknife variant [May. 7th, 2006|03:10 am]
Beemer
The thing that kept me up until 5:30 am last night, because I am stupid and obsessive:
VARIANT SOULKNIFE

Many players feel that the soulknife is an underpowered class. This class is a variant version of the soulknife that makes it a little more powerful and a lot more flexible. In the designer's opinion, it's also more straightforward and a whole lot cooler, but you should be the judge of that. This is a class for players who really like weapons, weapon stats, and weapon special abilities, although if you have one or two favorite weapons that you stick with and are just interested in the nifty flavor of the soulknife, that'll work, too.

Variant Soulknife

Alignment: Any
Hit Die: d10

Class Skills: Autohypnosis, Climb, Concentration, Craft, Hide, Jump, Knowledge(Psionics), Listen, Move Silently, Profession, Psicraft, Spot, Tumble

Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Int modifier) x4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Level  BAB              Fort    Ref     Will
1st    +0               +1      +1      +1
2nd    +1               +1      +1      +1
3rd    +2               +2      +2      +2
4th    +3               +2      +2      +2
5th    +3               +3      +3      +3
6th    +4               +3      +3      +3
7th    +5               +3      +3      +3
8th    +6/+1            +4      +4      +4
9th    +6/+1            +4      +4      +4
10th   +7/+2            +5      +5      +5
11th   +8/+3            +5      +5      +5
12th   +9/+4            +5      +5      +5
13th   +9/+4            +6      +6      +6
14th   +10/+5           +6      +6      +6
15th   +11/+6/+1        +7      +7      +7
16th   +12/+7/+2        +7      +7      +7
17th   +12/+7/+2        +7      +7      +7
18th   +13/+8/+3        +8      +8      +8
19th   +14/+9/+4        +8      +8      +8
20th   +15/+10/+5       +9      +9      +9

Level  Special
1st    Mind blade, Weapon familiarity, Wild talent, Shape mind blade (basic)
2nd    Shape mind blade (thrown), Mind blade enhancement +1
3rd    Shape mind blade (split), Psychic strike +1d8
4th    Shape mind blade (bow), Mind blade enhancement +2
5th    Shape mind blade (martial), Bonus feat
6th    Shape mind blade (exotic), Mind blade enhancement +3
7th    Psychic strike +2d8
8th    Mind blade enhancement +4
9th    Bonus feat
10th   Mind blade enhancement +5
11th   Psychic strike +3d8
12th   Mind blade enhancement +6
13th   Bonus feat
14th   Mind blade enhancement +7
15th   Psychic strike +4d8
16th   Mind blade enhancement +8
17th   Bonus feat
18th   Mind blade enhancement +9
19th   Psychic strike +5d8
20th   Mind blade enhancement +10


Class Features

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Soulknives are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and with light armor and shields (except tower shields).


Mind Blade (Su): As a move action, a soulknife can focus his mental energies to create a mind blade, a weapon made of solidified ectoplasm. (A soulknife with the Quick Draw feat can manifest a mind blade as a free action.) When materializing the mind blade, the soulknife can give it the shape of any weapon he is proficient with, subject to the limitations listed below. The mind blade is always of a size appropriate for the soulknife to wield when it is created.

Despite its mystical appearance, a mind blade has statistics identitical to a normal weapon of its type. It is considered a normal manufactured weapon for the purposes of spells, powers, feats, and other effects having to do with weapons. Like a weapon summoned with call weaponry, a mind blade is considered magical for the purposes of overcoming damage reduction. It can be broken (a mind blade has a hardness of 10 and 10 hit points, regardless of form), but the soulknife can simply create a new one on his next move action. Unless intentionally used as a ranged weapon (see below), a mind blade dissipates the instant it leaves the soulknife's hand.

Even in places where psionic effects do not normally function (such as within a null psionics field), a soulknife can attempt to sustain his mind blade by making a DC 20 Will save. On a successful save, the soulknife maintains his mind blade for a number of rounds equal to his class level before he needs to check again. On an unsuccessful attempt, the mind blade vanishes. As a move action on his turn, the soulknife can attempt a new Will save to rematerialize his mind blade while he remains within the psionics negating effect.


Weapon Familiarity: Soulknives may treat longswords as simple weapons, rather than martial weapons. [Note: elvish soulknives work best if you give them weapon familiarity with bow, rapier, and longsword, allowing them to treat these martial weapons as simple weapons, instead of weapon proficiency with them.]


Wild Talent: At 1st level, a soulknife gains Wild Talent as a bonus feat. (This class feature makes the character psionic and able to manifest a mind blade, if he was not already.)


Shape Mindblade: When manifesting his mind blade, a soulknife can give it the shape of any weapon he is proficient with, as follows:

Basic: at 1st level, a soulknife's mind blade can take the shape of simple light or one-handed melee weapons, including martial weapons the soulknife treats as simple due to weapon familiarity (like the
longsword, or the rapier for elves). If the soulknife is proficient in their use, the mind blade can also take on the shape of basic monkish weapons (those that can be used in a flurry of blows: kama, nunchaku, etc.).

Thrown: at 2nd level, a soulknife's mind blade can take the shape of a dart, a javelin, or any thrown, light or one-handed melee weapon he is proficient with. The soulknife can throw such a mind blade, which does not dissipate until it hits (or misses) its target.

Split: at 3rd level, a soulknife can split his mind blade into two pieces. He can either manifest two weapons (taking the appropriate penalties), or he can manifest a weapon and a shield. In either form, a split mind blade has a -1/-1 penalty that stacks with its enhancement bonuses. The same enhancement configuration (choice of bonuses and special abilities) is applied to both pieces of the mind blade. A soulknife can use a mind blade shield to perform a shield bash.

Bow: at 4th level, a soulknife's mind blade can take the shape of a bow (but not a crossbow). The soulknife can manifest arrows as a free action while wielding a bow. A composite bow mind blade can be manifested with an appropriate strength rating.

Martial: at 5th level, a soulknife's mind blade can take the shape of any simple or martial melee weapon, including two-handed weapons.

Exotic: at 6th level, a soulknife's mind blade can take the shape of any exotic melee weapon, as well as thrown exotic weapons like the bolas, net, or shuriken.


Mindblade Enhancement (Su): A soulknife's mind blade improves as the character gains higher levels. At 2nd level and every two levels thereafter, the mind blade gains a cumulative +1 enhancement bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls, to a maximum of +10 at 20th level.

The soulknife can choose to assign part of this enhancement bonus as special abilities instead of an enhancement bonus. The soulknife can choose any combination of abilities whose total is no more than twice the enhancement bonus. For example, a 6th level soulknife could choose to have a +3/+3 mind blade, a +2/+2 mind blade with a +1 special ability, or a +1/+1 mind blade with a +2 special ability or two +1 special abilities. The list below enumerates the allowable special abilities.

Weapon Special Abilities:
Defending               +1
Flaming                 +1
Frost                   +1
Keen                    +1
Ki Focus                +1
Merciful                +1
Mighty Cleaving         +1
Power Storing*~         +1
Psychokinetic*          +1
Seeking                 +1
Shock                   +1
Sundering*              +1
Thunder                 +1
Vicious                 +1
Collision*              +2
Flaming Burst           +2
Frost Burst             +2
Ghost Touch+            +2
Mindcrusher*            +2
Psychokinetic Burst*    +2
Shocking Burst          +2
Suppressing*            +2
Wounding                +2
Bodyfeeder*             +3
Mindfeeder*             +3
Soulbreaker*            +3
Speed                   +3
Brilliant Energy        +4
Coup de Grace*          +5
Vorpal                  +5

* from the XPH
~ initially empty
+ applies to both weapon and shield form; cost differs from normal

Shield Special Abilities:
Arrow Catching          +1
Bashing                 +1
Light Fortification     +1
Animated                +2
Arrow Deflection        +2
Ghost Touch+            +2
Power Resistance 13*    +2
Medium Fortification    +3
Power Resistance 15*    +3
Power Resistance 17*    +4
Heavy Fortification     +5
Power Resistance 19*    +5

+ applies to both weapon and shield form; cost differs from normal


The weapon ability or abilities remain the same every time the soulknife materializes his mind blade until he chooses to reassign its abilities. The ability or abilities apply to any form the mind blade takes. If a special ability does not apply to the weapon in its current form, such as a keen mace or a rapier of bashing, it has no effect.

Reallocating the weapon's enhancements becomes easier as the soulknife increases in level. At 4th level, assigning special abilities requires an hour of concentration and can be done only at the beginning of the day (when power points are recovered). At 8th level and higher, reallocation still requires an hour of concentration, but it can be done at any time. At 12th level, reassigning the bonus requires 1 minute of concentration, at 16th level it requires a full-round action, and at 20th level it requires a move-equivalent action. The soulknife must succeed at a DC 20 Concentration check while he is reallocating the bonuses. Concentrating in combat provokes an attack of opportunity.


Psychic Strike (Su): As a move action, a soulknife of 3rd level or higher can imbue his mind blade with destructive psychic energy. This effect deals an extra 1d8 points of damage to the next living, nonmindless target he successfully hits with an attack made with the mind blade. Creatures immune to mind-affecting effects are immune to psychic strike damage. The psychic strike is not a sneak attack. A mind blade deals this extra damage only once when this ability is called upon, but a soulknife can imbue his mind blade with psychic energy again by taking another move action.

Once a soulknife has prepared his blade for a psychic strike, it holds the extra energy until it is used. Even if the soulknife drops the mind blade (or it otherwise dissipates, such as when it is thrown and misses), it is still imbued with psychic energy when the soulknife next materializes it. Each piece or head of a split or double mind blade can be charged with energy for a psychic strike, but they must be charged separately.

At every four levels beyond 3rd (7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th), the extra damage from a soulknife's psychic strike increases by 1d8.


Bonus Feats: At 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th levels, a soulknife get a bonus feat. These bonus feats must be drawn from the feats noted as fighter bonus feats or psionic feats. The soulknife must still meet all normal prerequisites for the bonus feat. [Note that there will be several new feats that provide abilities like the standard soulknife's Knife to the Soul.]
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: goobermunch
2006-05-07 08:35 am (UTC)
If soulknives are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, why do they need weapon familiarity?

I understand that it's for the create mindblade, but it seems awkward (so does the spelling of that word).

--G
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2006-05-07 09:52 am (UTC)
It is so they have access to longsword at 1st level, instead of having to wait for it until 5th. To me, it felt less awkward to say they could treat a particular weapon as one category simpler (which is the Weapon Familiarity mechanic) than to define the category as "simple melee weapons, plus longsword", but I'm open to suggestions.

I tend to fuse words more often that I should; I've changed "mindblade" to "mind blade" everywhere. Thanks!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: bryree
2006-05-07 09:46 pm (UTC)
So at lvl 2, I can overcome DR/magical - can I use one of my enhancement points to imbue an additional DR beater? What does it cost? Weapon is treated as one of the metals (alc. silver, cold iron) for +1, treated as my alignment for +2, treated as adjacent alignment for +3?

This is cool, Beems. I'd play one.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2006-05-08 09:47 am (UTC)
Actually, at level 1 you can overcome DR/magical -- it's a +0/+0 magic weapon.

Thanks for bringing up the other DR types, though! I knew there was something I hadn't thought all the way through. There's a feat (align weapon) that lets you expend psionic focus to give your weapon alignment penetration and extra damage, so that aspect of it is covered, I figure. I'll have to look at the other DR types and think about how to handle them.
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[User Picture]From: ng_nighthawk
2006-05-09 08:52 am (UTC)
Trying to absorb a ton of posts I've been ignoring. My one immediate thought in terms of non-system mechanics--in the final draft, you may want to avoid harshing on anyone else's work. First, it's not generally done because it's unprofessional. Second, you may end up working with the guy who came up with the original soulknife concept--I know, given that this is a hobby for you that one is really unlikely.

So this entire section, I think, should be replaced.
Many players feel that the soulknife is an underpowered class. This class is a variant version of the soulknife that makes it a little more powerful and a lot more flexible. In the designer's opinion, it's also more straightforward and a whole lot cooler, but you should be the judge of that.


Without drawing any judgements on the previous class, you might just call this an alternate version of the soulknife, mentioning that it tries to focus on power, simplicity, and versatility.

Just a thought for an approach overall on a book that is really trying to fix stuff you think is broken. Try not to describe anything as broken, wrong, or poorly designed, and instead focus on how you changed it. If you really fixed a bunch of stuff in a way that is clearly superior to what was already out there, people will know that's what you did.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2006-05-09 02:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm trying to find the balance between not dissing someone else's stuff, promoting my own stuff, and exposing the design rationale behind the stuff. It's hard.

So, while you're right, I want to avoid saying that the standard soulknife is lame, there is a problem of creeping power levels in third-party products, so if I'm making a variant class that's more powerful, I want to mention the fact that it's in response to a widespread sentiment that the standard class is underpowered, not just for the sake of being uber. Plus, I think that if the designer comes right out and says "my intent here is X", the players are far more likely to run with the spirit of the rules instead of the letter.

Would something like this work better?

There are some players who regard the soulknife as somewhat limited relative to other core classes. For them, we present this variant, which is a little more powerful and a lot more flexible than the standard soulknife.
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