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    Question [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    OK, I recently re-purchased MoI, and I admit I'm still not up to speed with Soulmelds, Chakras and such. But I see a lot of people saying that the Soulborn is a woeful class.

    With full BAB, d10 HD, full MWP and armor proficiencies, 4 skills/level from a decent list, and it's other class features, what makes it so bad? Is it that it's meldshaping is so much worse than the other two classes?

    Is the class salvageable? I've seen people with builds that make the Truenamer basically viable...anything similar for the Soulborn?

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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    I seem to read it as 2+I skill points... and the soulmelds available are crap. I don't even know how Incarnates are supposed to be a good class, and the only one that I could theoretically get to be halfway decent (base) class is Totemist, but I still can't seem to get that to work as well as I've heard it goes online.

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    frown Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    You're quite right about the skills...I must have misread it.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    OK, I recently re-purchased MoI, and I admit I'm still not up to speed with Soulmelds, Chakras and such. But I see a lot of people saying that the Soulborn is a woeful class.

    With full BAB, d10 HD, full MWP and armor proficiencies, 4 skills/level from a decent list, and it's other class features, what makes it so bad? Is it that it's meldshaping is so much worse than the other two classes?

    Is the class salvageable? I've seen people with builds that make the Truenamer basically viable...anything similar for the Soulborn?
    Pretty much the Meldshaping, plus the fact that it shoehorns you into extreme alignments.

    Basically, what you get is roughly the same as a Paladin or Hexblade: a class that sacrifices full spellcasting/meldshaping for "sub-par" mechanics: a d10 in classes that are meant to work as tank classes (Paladin more so than Hexblade or Soulborn), full MWP which isn't enough (Totemist doesn't require full MWP and it works better because of the insane amount of natural attacks), and the class abilities come pretty late.

    Example of this: a Soulborn doesn't get meldshaping until 4th level. Before that, it doesn't get even a single bit of essentia, which hinders a class that's meant to work with Incarnum little by little. Immunities are often seen as unnecessary (LG Soulborn, for example, get immunity to fear much like a Paladin does, but at higher levels you can pretty much crank your Will and avoid being frightened at all), and what should really matter gets pretty crippled.

    The final needle in the straw is that the Totemist, which is sort of like a Druid in how it's meant to be built, actually behaves like a Barbarian; decent HD, decent BAB and loads of natural attacks which are very, very useful. The Soulborn has very decent soulmelds, but at most you can fully apply essentia to ONE of them, or spread your little Incarnum very thin and get few to no benefit from it. Not to mention that they suffer from the martial class syndrome: they need loads of feats to complement their martial side and their Incarnum side, but they get the same amount as everybody else.

    The good point, of course (and one that's not stressed enough) is the 4+Int skill points and the skill list, which make it slightly better than other martial classes. However, they get very little class abilities (Incarnum Defense is the most notable of them all, Timeless Body gotten far too late) to compensate, so the end result is that they don't do much better than a Paladin or Hexblade. Their best benefit is that they can replace some feats for Incarnum feats, which can increase their Essentia pool a bit, but they don't get most soulmelds or essentia as the other classes.

    This is just a slight recap of what I've seen as the flaws of the Soulborn, but then again, they have some nice fluff. It's just that they were built upon the Paladin's chassis, which while pretty decent is not the best chassis to build a class upon (unless, of course, you built it on an improved chassis which would have worked better).
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    The good point, of course (and one that's not stressed enough) is the 4+Int skill points and the skill list, which make it slightly better than other martial classes.
    There's some confusion in this thread over this so I checked: they get 2+Int skills. It's almost a blessing in disguise because having more skill points would, as its only significant effect, make it take longer for a Soulborn to decide which of his utterly useless class skills to put more points into. We reading the same class here? From Magic of Incarnum?
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark_Nohn View Post
    I seem to read it as 2+I skill points... and the soulmelds available are crap. I don't even know how Incarnates are supposed to be a good class, and the only one that I could theoretically get to be halfway decent (base) class is Totemist, but I still can't seem to get that to work as well as I've heard it goes online.
    Incarnates are the best essentia: think if them as a wizard. Totomist as a druid. And Soulborn as ranger casting.

    Incarnates gets all its power from Soulmelds + essentia combinations.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    dipping soulborn for smiting may be decent, but it is more of a long term optimization. Their meldshaping comes late, but they do get a few unique powers. Unfortunately, they do not get much in the way of meldshaping or essentia compared to incarnate or totemist.

    I can imagine dipping the class would be beneficial, but I have not really looked at it's potential as the focus of a character build. That is mainly because it does not seem to offer that much apart from full BAB.

    You could make a decent combatant using soulborn, but I don't think the character would be that powerful. A Killoren Smite-Bot with Sapphire Smite and Cobalt power might be entertaining untill you get some meldshaping to play around with.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Starbuck_II View Post
    Incarnates are the best essentia: think if them as a wizard. Totomist as a druid. And Soulborn as ranger casting.

    Incarnates gets all its power from Soulmelds + essentia combinations.
    Incarnates were the nail in the coffin for saying that full BAB is a must for melee. Thanks to essentia investment, they can easily have as high of attack bonuses as any other melee, often more (i.e. an Azurin incarnate can easily get a +2 weapon at level 1).

    The biggest problem with the Soulborn is the cripplingly-horrible essentia/soulmeld progression. It's got some great soulmelds, but it simply can't use them because it's progression is so bad. On top of that, many of its binds are tied into saving throws, but they're the class least able to do anything with saving throws because of MAD. With half-CL, what soulmelds they do manage can be dispelled really easily. They've also got the typical problem of melee classes and have only one good save, a mere 2 skills a level, and hardly any class features beyond 2nd level (merely progression of what's already there, or mechanically worthless ones).
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    It's bad for the same reasons that paladin is bad. Too few options, and the designers placed far too much stock in full base attack, d10 hit dice, and weapon and armor proficiencies. Have you noticed that none of the T1 classes have any of these things, while most of the T5 classes do?

    Moreover, while the paladin received additional spells in many supplements, and some excellent alternative class features and class variant options, the soulborn does not enjoy such support. It's a class with few choices that straightjackets you into doing only a limited selection of things, and it doesn't even do those things especially well compared to other classes.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Another small thing that bothers me about soulborns has nothing to do with mechanics.

    You can only be one of four alignments, which means that if your alignment changes through the course of a game due to character development, it has to be an Immediate Corny Comic Book change, rather than something organic.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    I think Person_Man did a decent Soulborn fix here not long ago. Soulborn do get some really awesome melds. Thunderstride Boots have a chance to STUN people when you hit them on a charge. Luckily, the Shape Soulmeld feat allows others to poach them easily! Take a Totemist, bind Girallon Arms to Totem, Sphinx Claws to Hands, and Thunderstride Boots to Feet, and you've got 4 attacks per round on a charge that all get +ed4 sonic damage AND you have 4 chances to stun the target you charge.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by lsfreak View Post
    Incarnates were the nail in the coffin for saying that full BAB is a must for melee. Thanks to essentia investment, they can easily have as high of attack bonuses as any other melee, often more (i.e. an Azurin incarnate can easily get a +2 weapon at level 1).
    Not entirely true. Most classes do need high BAB for melee, it's just that the incarnate has enough extra ways to boost his to-hit that he can mitigate his lower attack bonus to some extent. Most other classes lack this, and the Incarnate has some problems as well if he's not Lawful/wants to be ranged(which is a huge fail for the design team; chaotic incarnates boost ranged attacks, but their incarnate weapon is a melee weapon....)
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    I do in fact have two different Soulborn fixes.

    The first is basically the MoI Soulborn with increased the essentia progression (while basically keeping the soulmeld and chakra bind progression), bunch of bonus feats (limited to Smite improving and Essentia feats), party face class Skills, an improved Share Incarnum Defense, Dispel Opposition, and Obliterate Opposition.

    The second is the War Soul, which combines the Soulborn with the Soulknife.

    I've play tested both, and they're both pretty fun Tier 3-ish classes.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    …the Totemist, which is sort of like a Druid in how it's meant to be built…
    Totemists are supposed to be bears riding bears while shooting bears?

    Seriously though, what do you mean? It's pretty obvious they're supposed to play much like barbarian, just from looking at them.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    Totemists are supposed to be bears riding bears while shooting bears?

    Seriously though, what do you mean? It's pretty obvious they're supposed to play much like barbarian, just from looking at them.
    I think the point is that they pull power from animals without actually turning into those animals and subsequently breaking the game. So you partially 'turn into' certain animals without getting "always act in the surprise round" or "zomgawesome physical stats at no cost."

    Not entirely true. Most classes do need high BAB for melee, it's just that the incarnate has enough extra ways to boost his to-hit that he can mitigate his lower attack bonus to some extent.
    My point was that a melee class does not have to be designed around full BAB, which was a common misconception (and led to the devs vastly overvaluing full BAB when making classes up about the release of PHB2). It's not a necessary feature for melee classes to have full BAB when they're given other, useful stuff. Swordsages and psychic warriors do this as well, just not nearly to the extent as an incarnate.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Let me put it this way.

    Say you have a Soulborn and a Commoner.

    They both want to have a certain nifty soulmeld from the Soulborn list. You can choose anything.

    The Soulborn is going to use his class features (meldshaping) to get this soulmeld and the corresponding chakra bind. The Commoner is going to use feats (Shape Soulmeld and Open X Chakra).

    The Commoner will get the soulmeld and the bind before the Soulborn does.

    If you can't see the problem with this, I can't help you. The Soulborn will have marginally more essentia, but that's still pretty damning that a Commoner using feats can get your nifty class abilities before you can.

    Their list has a few gems that a real meldshaper might consider poaching with the Shape Soulmeld feat. That's about it.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    Totemists are supposed to be bears riding bears while shooting bears?

    Seriously though, what do you mean? It's pretty obvious they're supposed to play much like barbarian, just from looking at them.
    Well, compare Incarnate with Totemist. They get the same amount of Soulmelds, pretty much the same amount of Essentia, and the same amount of Chakra Binds, except they don't get the unique Heart or Soul chakras and instead they get the extra-unique Totem Chakra.

    They also get 3/4 BAB (like Druid), and they get a combination of soulmelds that grant elemental attacks and natural attacks, along with other stuff.

    Just by that, they are meant to be played as Druids. They lack some of the Druid power (and specifically SNA), but they get to do more stuff. They can't be played as a Barbarian since you'd be missing much of what they can do, specifically since you only get two "slots" for Totem chakra binding.

    Think about this: the Druid is a bear riding a bear shooting bears. The Barbarian is a big man wielding a big weapon while having a big, big, BIG problem with his attitude. The Totemist is a Chimera with even MORE stuff added; the perfect Chimera, if you wish to speak of it. You can focus it on melee attack and rack up your damage, but you'd be a bit blind to ignore they can pull off some breath weapon attacks, plus that they can get natural flight and natural resistances (something the Barbarian can get only through magic items or very obscure resources). The Totemist is closer to an aspect or Shapechanger Druid than a Barbarian in that regard, but they still require some of the mindset of a Druid.

    As for the skill point list, no I wasn't reading a different readout from a parallel universe where D&D is a bit more balanced; I was doing the review from memory, which is why I got confused by Thurbane before he made an edit to his post. Unless the entire post was incorrect?
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    Just by that, they are meant to be played as Druids. They lack some of the Druid power (and specifically SNA), but they get to do more stuff. They can't be played as a Barbarian since you'd be missing much of what they can do, specifically since you only get two "slots" for Totem chakra binding.
    Barbarians, totemists and druids can all charge and maul stuff (or shoot them full or arrows if you go that way), but druids can do so much more. Aside from a few goodies (Blink Shirt, flight - which often resemble arcane casting rather than druid's) they play almost exactly like a barbarian: you're a big, strong, illiterate thug who charge-pounces into melee to maul faces. Druids can do that too, of course (it's not like there are many things t1 can't do), but they have spells to cast and a companion to manage, as well as the ability to rewrite their melee capabilities several times during the day.

    I really don't see how a totemist is supposed to be built like a druid, or how it would be surprising that they play very similarly to barbarians. Heck, look at their signature ability: totem chakra bind. With very few exceptions, it supplies one with natural melee weapons.



    Anyhow, to not get sidetracked, Soulborn is one of the few full-BAB classes that get Spellcraft as a class skill (if my memory isn't failing me), which helps for qualifying into Suel Arcanamach. Duskblades and paladins with the right sub levels are still better, though.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    Anyhow, to not get sidetracked, Soulborn is one of the few full-BAB classes that get Spellcraft as a class skill (if my memory isn't failing me), which helps for qualifying into Suel Arcanamach. Duskblades and paladins with the right sub levels are still better, though.
    Duskblades are just better in general, for full BAB classes.

    Edit, at least, if you wan't full BAB AND spellcasting (or an analogue.)
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Person_Man View Post
    The second is the War Soul, which combines the Soulborn with the Soulknife.
    Those two go together like Saturday and Sunday.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    I really don't see how an incarnate is supposed to out-fight a fighter. It seems like he'd have to allocate all of his soulmelds and feats properly just to keep up with a warrior. I also don't see how he's supposed to have the versatility of a wizard, even if his spec is based on versatility. I can see a decent fighter-type or spitter, but I don't see any of the versatility, control or utility that wizards have.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark_Nohn View Post
    I really don't see how an incarnate is supposed to out-fight a fighter. It seems like he'd have to allocate all of his soulmelds and feats properly just to keep up with a warrior.
    He is pretty comparable to a full attacking fighter, 10 base+2 weapon+6 insight+1 luck and morale, with +4 of that also going to damage. Add in some defensive abilities and some other effects that keep him from being shut down by forcecage.


    I also don't see how he's supposed to have the versatility of a wizard, even if his spec is based on versatility. I can see a decent fighter-type or spitter, but I don't see any of the versatility, control or utility that wizards have.
    He doesn't have the control or utility of the wizard, he is the wizard analog for incarnum. He has good versatility in that he can get flight, DR, energy resistance, natural attacks, skill boosts, blasting, undead, water walking and a bunch of other stuff that will mostly come up via rapid meldshaping.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    I really don't see how a totemist is supposed to be built like a druid, or how it would be surprising that they play very similarly to barbarians. Heck, look at their signature ability: totem chakra bind. With very few exceptions, it supplies one with natural melee weapons.
    They have various creature based abilities and a nature theme. They aren't tier 1 game breakers, they are versatile tier 3s that are analogous to tier 1s. For example talking to animals, flesh to stone, ice rays, stunning, tremorsense and other various abilities that a barbarian has nothing on.
    Also were not talking how they play were talking there theme.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lans View Post
    Also were not talking how they play were talking there theme.
    Totem Rager.

    That is all.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Person_Man View Post
    I do in fact have two different Soulborn fixes.

    The first is basically the MoI Soulborn with increased the essentia progression (while basically keeping the soulmeld and chakra bind progression), bunch of bonus feats (limited to Smite improving and Essentia feats), party face class Skills, an improved Share Incarnum Defense, Dispel Opposition, and Obliterate Opposition.

    The second is the War Soul, which combines the Soulborn with the Soulknife.

    I've play tested both, and they're both pretty fun Tier 3-ish classes.
    Still tryiing to get my head around the Incranum classes but that looks a fun class to play
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Godskook View Post
    Totem Rager.

    That is all.
    Then I take any arcane spellcaster can also be played as a Barbarian? They can use a good load of Constitution (HP, Fortitude), they get the Rage spell, plus they've got Rage Mage going on (Spell Rage, Warrior's Cry which is a 1/day Tenser's Transformation SLA without the loss of spells, and improved Rage).

    The main reason why Barbarian and Totemist would seem so alike is because of the "obvious" Con synergy (longer Rages, of course, and...longer Rages?), and even more "obvious" Str synergy (because you need to add Strength instead of Wisdom, of course, given that your ability needs are covered by Constitution).

    ...But again, you don't play the full extent of the Totemist, focusing mostly on natural attacks. That's fine; it's like a Druid that focuses mostly on Wildshaping and treats spellcasting as a boost. Isn't that what the Totemist does, mostly; use natural attacks for their Totem chakra and couple it with abilities the Barbarian would only dream of?

    Also, I think Lans got it right: it's a Druid analog, rather than a Barbarian analog (since it's what a Barbarian wanted to be and even more). It follows the Incarnate:Wizard/Cleric::Totemist:Druid::Soulborn:Paladin correlation; Incarnate is the class that introduces Incarnum to its fullest extent, Soulborn is the martially-inclined version of the Incarnate, and Totemist is a flavorful variant that's equal (if not more) powerful.
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  26. - Top - End - #26
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark_Nohn View Post
    I really don't see how an incarnate is supposed to out-fight a fighter. It seems like he'd have to allocate all of his soulmelds and feats properly just to keep up with a warrior. I also don't see how he's supposed to have the versatility of a wizard, even if his spec is based on versatility. I can see a decent fighter-type or spitter, but I don't see any of the versatility, control or utility that wizards have.
    1.) CON main, meaning that his HD will not be his main source of HP, making frontlining easy. (This is the thing a lot of early reviews seemed to miss about the Incarnate.)

    2.) Soulmelds can be changed daily, just like a wizard's spells, and an Incarnate can change the current soulmelds on the fly a certain number of times a day.

    3.) Much like a Psychic Warrior, he doesn't need to spend feats on combat to be as effective (or more effective) than the fighter. In fact, the feats can be spent on ANYTHING, and he can still be a combat powerhouse. And a skillmonkey.

    4.) An Incarnate knows ALL SOULMELDS FOR HIS CLASS at level 1.

    Edit: 5.) The Incarnate is NOT a tier 1 class. it is tier 3.
    Last edited by Blackfang108; 2010-10-29 at 02:39 PM.
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  27. - Top - End - #27
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    I would like to see some skeleton builds of assorted Incarnates and Soulborns by alignment. Anyone up to the challenge? In particular, EVIL soulborns seem to have a lot of potential. Whereas Soulborns typically have pretty limited selections for soulmelds, I'm pretty sure (if I remember correctly) all the necrocarnum melds are incarnate AND soulborn.

    If I'm right, it's basically one type of soulborn with incarnate-power melds with built-in methods of getting around their low essentia problems. Without having looked at the book in a month or 7, I'm betting evil soulborns are at least one whole tier above good soulborns.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    Necrocarnum melds don't inherently give you more essentia. You're thinking of the Necrocarnate PrC, which is very clearly not meant to be a beatstick (it CAN be if it wants to be, but not in the same way that a soulborn is . . . and definitely not if it's only got soulborn meldshaping). The only necrocarnum melds that give you more essentia are the Soul bind of the Necrocarnum Shroud (which soulborns can't get until epic) and the Hands bind of the Necrocarnum Weapon (which only works on a critical hit and thus is not reliable).

    Honestly, the lack of essentia is an enormous slap in the face, but the lack of places in which to PUT that essentia is just as bad. Hilariously, if you assume that every bonus feat they take gives them 1 essentia, a soulborn can usually come very close to maxing out his or her soulmelds. They're one point behind at level 6 (even at 7 and until 12), two points behind at 12 (one point behind at 14 and 15), and it's only at level 16 and higher that they really fall behind (three points behind at 16, two points behind at 17, five points behind at 18, four points behind at 19, and seven points behind at 20). This assumes that you don't get essentia from anywhere other than your class and your three class-granted bonus feats. You can always use more essentia, but that's far from the soulborn's biggest issue.
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  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGirl

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    Default Re: [3.5] Soulborn: why the hate?

    I think taking advantage of shape soulmeld and bad interpretation of the alignment issue of the soulmelds that have all the alignments laid out to get double effect out of them. Like incarnum weaon to get a pair of +1 weapons or the one that would give +1 to hit and +1 to AC or +2 to damage.

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