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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]


    That's Telekinesis, Kyle!

    Contents
    Introduction and Class Features
    Stats and Races
    Skills
    Feats
    Spells and Powers
    Magic Items and Equipments
    Multiclassing and Prestige Classes
    Gestalt
    Sample Builds

    Colour Coding
    Bad
    Situational or Campaign/Build Specific
    Okay
    Good
    Great
    Excellent


    Other Online Resources

    Archery Handbook
    Swift Hunter Handbook
    Cleric Archer Handbook
    Last edited by RMS Oceanic; 2013-07-25 at 08:36 AM.
    "They couldn't know that the points from the mainline to the siding were frozen, and the signal should have been set at 'DANGER', but snow had forced it down."
    - The Flying Kipper

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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Introduction

    Archery. Evocative of Robin Hood, the Battle of Crecy and the Sniper from Team Fortress 2. However it's a road that's difficult to travel in D&D compared to using a large stick to hit things or throwing fire created from mystical energy. Not that it stops us from trying.

    There are a number of ways to do archery, but we're focusing on one. It is far from the most efficient way to fight from afar, but it's one of the cooler ways. By the time you're finished, your foe is dead on the floor and full of arrow holes, but the arrows that did it and the bow that shot them are nowhere to be seen, vanished into the ether.

    Yes, it is the Soulbow. From Complete Psionic comes the best reason to take levels in Soulknife since a full BAB houserule. You have all the arrows you ever need, and you don't even need a bow!

    Bad News First: What are the Downsides?

    The main downside is what I just mentioned: You don't need a bow. You do save money, but one of the advantages of Archery is combining weapons to get a total of +20 in enhancement bonuses and special abilities, even if it's too costly to do that too often. It also means not having a bow means you can't benefit from bow-specific enhancements like Serrenwood or taking Hank's Energy Bow, and the arrows you conjure can't be fired from them, only from your hands.

    The second is the limitations of the main benefit of the Mind Weapons: It is a magic weapon you get without spending a penny, but before level 20 it is only a +9 weapon and without other classes can't be enhanced beyond that. Also without DM houserules the amount of abilities one can put on your weapon are restrictive, and don't include the very best special abilities.

    Finally the chassis of the plain Soulbow is generally inferior to that of other archer classes: You get medium base attack bonus progression without significant spellcasting or consistant damage stacking to compensate.

    Well that's lame! Why take this class anyway?

    Well there are three things which make the Soulbow interesting enough for me to try and gather up all this information on it.

    The first is that although the adaptability of the magic weapon is limited, it's still adaptable. A [creature]bane bow is almost never worth having, but these arrows can be changed from one type of bane to another. If you're facing fire elementals, your arrows become rather chilly. Ice elementals can start sweating in your arrow's presence with some preparation. That type of flexibility without sinking money on new arrows can be appealing.

    The second is mostly agreed on, but a DM may rule it doesn't work: A Mind arrow is fired from one hand. That leaves another hand doing nothing, so why not use it to fire another arrow? If your DM agrees, a Soulbow can do what a standard Bow archer can't and use the Two Weapon fighting tree to throw around 60%-80% more arrows, as well as throwing Rapid Shot in there for good measure.

    The third is the unique one: Lucky. To be specific, Lucky is a +1 ability the Soulknife and Soulbow can apply to their weapons, allowing a rerolling of the attack roll once a day. For a sword or a bow, it doesn't sound very interesting. You're not putting it on a bow however, you're putting it on an arrow. Each arrow you sling with an in-built way to reroll a bad attack enhances your accuracy on an unusually reliable way.

    So basically, if you like throwing arrows from each appendage you have with opposable thumbs that hit more reliably, that's why you want to go Soulbow!

    Soulknife Features

    Spoiler
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    d10 Hit Dice, Medium BAB progression - To my knowledge the Soulknife has the dubious honor of being the base class with the largest hit dice that doesn't also have one-for-one BAB progression.
    poor Fortitude saves, good Reflex and Will Saves - For what is supposed to be a melee class, poor Fortitude saves is an odd decision and renders you vulnerable to save-or-die spells. The strong Will save is a nice replacement however, as traditional front liners often fall victim to this.
    Above average skill list, 4+Int skills a level - Despite having some good skills like Autohypnosis and Tumble, there are a few gaps which impede the desire to make a skill monkey out of the Soulbow, and the four skill points may not be enough to be truly flexible in that manner anyway. With the Soulknife and Soulbow, It's better to stick to a few core skills.
    Manifest Mindblade - The bread and butter of the Soulknife. What's good about this ability is it doesn't go away when you start throwing arrows. This means you have two alternate weapons and damage types.
    Wild Talent - Two power points. Yay?
    ACF: Hidden Talent - From Mind's Eye. Two power points and a power to spent them on. Yay!
    Weapon Focus (Mind Blade) - If taking this separately you probably wouldn't give it the time of day, but since it's a free bonus on your attack rolls I can't complain.
    Throw Mindblade - If you want to practise psychic piercings before learning to refine your technique, this is how you do it. A prerequisite for the Soulbow as well.
    Psychic Strike - The standard Soulknife method of adding extra damage, but for an Archer you have to give up something too important: Your move actions. Especially if your DM agrees that Two Weapon Fighting works, you need as many full attacks as possible. Also by focusing on Soulbow you'll add maybe +3d8 to your strikes before epic level, which is pathetic compared to a Rogue's 10d6.
    ACF: Bonus Feats - From Mind's Eye. If you're not taking too many Soulknife levels you may want to forego Psychic Strike entirely. Instead you can pick a feat you can apply to your Mind Blade, or a feat specifically designed for Soulknives.
    Free Draw - For a full Soulknife this could be a useful way to surprise people. However it's subsumed by the ability to generate arrows as a free action.


    Soulbow Features

    Spoiler
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    Same hit dice, BAB, saves and skills as Soulknife - See the Soulknife.
    Mind Arrow - The reason you're here. As a side note, any actual enhancement bonus to your Arrows you pick up from this class (and not the enhancement-equivalent abilities) apply to your Mindblade as well, so your backup weapon doesn't feel too left behind.
    Bonus Feats - Archery is greedy about feats at the best of times, so picking up two or three from the Soulbow relieves some of the pressure.
    Close Combat Shot - Archers have trouble with intimacy at the best of time, so having a solution to this built into your class is well appreciated.
    Phase Shot - While it's preferable to throw as many arrows as you can at your target, sometimes it's more important that a single arrow reaches the target.
    Last edited by RMS Oceanic; 2013-07-25 at 08:36 AM.
    "They couldn't know that the points from the mainline to the siding were frozen, and the signal should have been set at 'DANGER', but snow had forced it down."
    - The Flying Kipper

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Stats and Races

    Stats

    Strength - Unlike other archers it's not often you'll be adding your strength to damage. That's what wisdom is for. However neglecting it may harm some of your skill checks
    Dexterity - While you're hoping Wisdom will take up the strain of your character, Dexterity enhances your AC, and unless your main class is Ranger a lot of the feats you want ask for high dexterity.
    Constitution - Never a bad thing to have a positive modifier.
    Intelligence - You don't have a broad range of skills to truly worry about beyond Class Requirements, but if you get a good roll it wouldn't hurt to put it here.
    Wisdom - The early levels won't get much use out of this, but upon throwing your first Mind Arrow, it will be worth it.
    Charisma - Few of the skills you'll be using need it, and none of your class abilities do.


    Races and Templates

    Level Adjustment +0
    Spoiler
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    Human - Most of the time that feat will be worth all the special abilities in the world.
    Stronghold Halfling - Arguably exceeds a human in usefullness, because in addition to the feat you get the important stat of dexterity.
    Lesser Aasimar - We're here for the Wisdom bonus.
    Lesser Tiefling - We're here for the Dexterity bonus.
    Kalashtar - A race from Races of Eberron, really predisposed towards Psionic classes. Getting more bonus powerpoints than a wisdom of 14 would provide over 20 classes is impressive, although a Straight Soulbow won't have much use for them beyond Hidden Talent.


    Level Adjustment +1
    Spoiler
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    Aasimar - Like their Lesser form, we're here for Wisdom. The minor resistances are nice, but possibly not worth the lost level. LA Buyback improves this.
    Tiefling - See Aasimar, but for Dexterity.


    Level Adjustment +2
    Spoiler
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    Githzerai - a Wisdom boost, a massive boost to Dexterity, and a penalty to Intelligence to start with. Follow up with inbuilt power resistance (aka Spell Resistance) and some free Psionic Powers and you have a tempting choice.
    Saint - Constitution and Wisdom boosts (and Charisma, but who cares), a host of special abilities and you can add your Wisdom to AC! However be careful about the roleplaying constraints this places upon you.


    Other
    Spoiler
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    Non-Psionic Thri-Kreen - Two Hit Dice and LA+1. Boosts to Dexterity and Wisdom (and Strength) while dumping Intelligence and Dexterity never hurt, but the real beauty lies between the shoulder and the waist: Two extra hands. Besides this allowing you to have more bracers, gauntlets and rings, the real reason to be a Thri-Kreen is if your DM subscribes to the Two Weapon Fighting interpretation of the Mind Arrow, for Four Arms means it's now the Multi-Weapon Fighting interpretation. For losing three levels of development (two with LA buyback) you double your output.
    Last edited by RMS Oceanic; 2013-07-25 at 08:39 AM.
    "They couldn't know that the points from the mainline to the siding were frozen, and the signal should have been set at 'DANGER', but snow had forced it down."
    - The Flying Kipper

  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Skills

    The Soulknife and Soulbow are not powerful skill monkeys. Their skillset and number of skill points outpaces the likes of the Fighter easily, but are in turn outpaced by Rangers and Bards, lacking a few important class skills and the skillpoints to spend on them to focus in more than one area. Unless you've maxed your Intelligence - and you might want to get a lottery ticket after rolling your fourth 18 - focus primarily on prerequisites for feats and classes.

    Class Skills
    Spoiler
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    Autohypnosis: Necessary for Soulbow, and always a useful skill when it comes along.
    Climb: The amount of ranks you put in this depends on whether you want to be particularly mobile, and you don't have access to a climb speed from a class or spell. Not as redundant for you as other archers, because you can stop at any time to throw an arrow or two with one hand.
    Concentration: How much use you get out of Concentration depends on (A) How often you expend your Psionic Focus and (B) Whether you have any spellcasting levels. Also a requirement for the Kensai.
    Craft: Label Craft (Bowmaking) a Super-Red, as you'll definitely never need it. Craft and Profession are largely for roleplaying, and your skills are limited.
    Hide: Like Climb and Jump it depends what sort of Archer you want to be. For a Sniper it's essential, but a Skirmisher anchored to thirty feet away may not worry about it, so it averages out to Good.
    Jump: See Climb. For Thri-Kreen Soulbows downgrade to Bad, because they have +30 to jump checks already.
    Knowledge (psionics): The only reason to take this is (A) You have Knowledge Devotion, and (B) You expect to encounter psionic opponents. That said if you're using the Psionic rules already, seeing a couple of Psionic monsters is possible.
    Listen: A good noncombat role for you is recon guy, of which is is the butter to Spot's bread.
    Move Silently: See Hide.
    Profession: See craft.
    Spot: If picking between Listen and Spot, pick Spot. Not only a standard Recon Skill, but essential for long range archers.
    Tumble: Always a popular choice for anyone who can get it. Unless you're skirmishing you won't need to move that much, but you never want to risk provoking an attack of opportunity if you can avoid it.


    Cross-Class Skills
    Spoiler
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    Knowledge (Arcana, Dungeoneering, Local, Nature, Religion, The Planes): Knowledge Devotion lives off these (and Psionics), but without that feat there's no reason to take them. Also at four skillpoints a level to be the party database you'll have to sink almost everything into knowledge skills, making it harder to qualify for other options.
    Search: It's a shame when you see Search separated from Listen and Spot. If you're playing the recon role you may need to be searching enemy bases. If you get it as a class skill bump up to Great.


    Skill Tricks
    Spoiler
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    Back on your Feet: Comes into its own if your DM is a fan of Grease and Tripping.
    Collector of Stories: Almost mandatory with Knowledge Devotion, otherwise not worth it.
    Nimble Stand: A reliable trick, but you still need to eat a move action to get up.
    Spot the Weak Point: There is debate about whether this works with Greater Manyshot and its individual rolls, but it's a good friend to regular Manyshot.
    Last edited by RMS Oceanic; 2013-07-25 at 08:33 AM.
    "They couldn't know that the points from the mainline to the siding were frozen, and the signal should have been set at 'DANGER', but snow had forced it down."
    - The Flying Kipper

  5. - Top - End - #5
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Feats

    Archery Feats
    Spoiler
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    Point Blank Shot - A prerequisite for Soulbow, but otherwise not great.
    (Improved) Precise Shot - Unless your entire party is archers and spellcasters, this feat is important. Becomes excellent with Splitting. The improved version is handy for those who try to hide from your pointy friends.
    (Improved) Rapid Shot - When focusing on volume of attacks, Rapid shot is good. The improved version isn't worth investing in Manyshot to go along with it. Why are these dependant on each other, anyway?
    (Greater) Manyshot - If you like your character to be constantly moving, then Manyshot is for you. Greater Manyshot is only worth it if you have a form of precision damage to stack on each arrow like Sneak Attack or Skirmish. To turn it around, even if you can extend the range of precision damage, the range of Manyshot can't be increased, basically anchoring you to within 30 feet of your target.
    Zen Archery - With this, you worry about a single stat.
    Dead Eye - Dexterity to damage on top of Wisdom sounds great, but it has a limited range and you may not have the feats to fit it in.
    Woodland Archer - Not many archery feats let you ignore dexterity, so a feat with uses for multiple archery styles that does so is very appealing.


    Combat Feats
    Spoiler
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    Greater/Improved/Two Weapon Fighting (Or Multiweapon Fighting) - If your DM allows it, this is a more effective way to turn your foes into pincushions than Manyshot, especially for those Thri-Kreen running around.


    Psionic Feats
    Spoiler
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    Hidden Talent - You can get this for free instead of Wild Talent, so it's handy for a single Psionic Power
    Practised Mind Blade - An additional four levels of Mind Blade enhancement (same restriction as Practised Spellcaster). If you're taking the absolute minimum level of Soulknife (2), this will give you +1 to blades and arrows, and a +1 ability to apply. If you're taking more, there is a school of thought that Soulbow levels don't count as Soulknife levels, so for four Soulbow levels you're effectively doubling up. It's a Dragon Magazine feat though, so be careful.
    Adamandtium/Silver Mind Blade - Two feats from alongside Practised Mind Blade, your Mind Blade behaves as that metal. Before you consider this, check if your DM will allow the feats to apply to the Mind Arrow as well, but even then there are better uses of your feat slot unless you face nothing but Constructs/Lycanthropes.
    (Greater) Psychic Shot - Extra damage is tempting, but at best you could do this once a round along with picking up Psionic Meditation to Focus as a Move Action. You'd be better off firing multiple arrows with Wisdom applied to damage. So possibly in a Manyshot build, but then Greater Manyshot is rendered pointless.
    Fell Shot - It has the same strengths and weaknesses as Psychic Shot, but you have to choose between extra damage and a ranged touch attack.
    Soulblade Warrior - Kalashtar only. In addition to going from unarmed to Psionic Slashing damage in Swift Action flat, it increases your effective Soulknife level by two for enhancement/abilities. No official confirmation on whether it stacks with Practised Mind Blade.


    Other Feats
    Spoiler
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    Knowledge Devotion - An excellent feat that can give you +1 to hit and damage against almost everyone, but stumbles a little when you may not have the feats to include it because of how greedy archery is, or the skill points to elevate more than one or two knowledge skills to the +5 level.
    Able Learner - If you've dipped into a skill monkey class like Rogue or Factotum, this allows you to be a little more flexible with your skills.


    Feats when Multiclassing
    Spoiler
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    (Fighter) Weapon Specialization - You get Weapon Focus for free, and it's extra damage on each arrow, but more importantly it allows:
    (Fighter) Ranged Weapon Mastery - Extra damage and attack bonuses on your arrows, and letting you shoot from even farther back. However this one is subject to a DM ruling: If Weapon Focus and Specialization for a melee weapon that deals slashing damage also applies to a ranged weapon that deals piercing damage, can RWM (Piercing) be selected, or would you need to specifically take Weapon Focus and Specialization for the Mind Arrow?
    (Paladin) Serenity - The main reason to take a dip in Paladin: Wisdom to your saves.
    (Rogue) Craven - +1 sneak attack damage per character level. Not Rogue level, character level. If you're specialising in ranged sneak attack, this is included.


    Pathfinder
    Spoiler
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    Deadly Aim - Also known as "Power Shot" or "Ranged Power Attack". However Pathfinder took the nerf bat to Power Attack, so while it's an easy source of crit-multipliable damage, you can't really scale it for those times when you've smuggled a Ring of Continuous True Strike into the campaign, and your medium BAB progression makes it a tougher call than it would be for a Fighter or Ranger, especially if your DM believes you can't use ranged touch attack tricks with it.


    Making Space for These - Flaws

    As someone who likes standing back and not anticipate being on the front line, one would be attracted to Frail (-1 hp per level) and Vulnerable (-1 AC). Noncombatant (-2 to melee attack rolls) is tempting for those who don't want any downside, but beware the DM who would like to punish such thinking by having combatants get in your personal space and have damage reduction slashing. My own DM likes to insist that if you're taking flaws, at least one of them has to have a penalty to a save. In this case I'd pick reflex. It's one of your good saves, and the consequences for failing it are less dire than failing a fortitude or will save.

    Fleshing out your Character - Traits

    Not a very popular variant rule, but sometimes an archer can benefit from them. Farsighted (+1 Spot, -2 Search) will help the long range archer while nerfing a cross class skill. For those who intend to be out of melee range and stay that way, Quick (+10 foot land speed, -1 hp per level) is a tempting offer. If you're worried about your poor Fortitude save you can improve it at the expense of your Will Save (Passionate) or your Reflex Save (Hardy).
    Last edited by RMS Oceanic; 2013-07-25 at 08:38 AM.
    "They couldn't know that the points from the mainline to the siding were frozen, and the signal should have been set at 'DANGER', but snow had forced it down."
    - The Flying Kipper

  6. - Top - End - #6
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Spells and Powers

    Spells You Cast
    Ranger

    Cleric

    Hidden Talent

    Other

    Spells Your Colleagues Cast
    Cleric

    Wizard

    Other

    Under Construction
    "They couldn't know that the points from the mainline to the siding were frozen, and the signal should have been set at 'DANGER', but snow had forced it down."
    - The Flying Kipper

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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Magic Items and other Equipment

    Weapon Enhancements (Offically for Mind Blade/Arrow)

    Spoiler
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    Bane - You won't have this on your arrows all the time, but if you anticipate a swathe of homogenous foes it's a cheap source of damage. Ask your DM if this includes the more versatile Magebane.
    Frost/Shock/Flaming - Obviously depends on what you're fighting, but the fact you can change these on a day-to-day basis means sometimes it will be worth it.
    Seeking - If you can't fit Improved Precise Shot into your build, hopefully you can fit this in instead and render it moot.
    Lucky - This is why you choose the Soulbow. For a +1 enhancement every attack you make can be re-rolled.
    Collision - Reliable damage enhancement without worrying about elemental resistance. Definitely comes into its own in a Volley Build.
    Speed - A hefty investment, but one extra arrow never hurts. Only one other +3 ability is really worth it, See Below.


    Weapon Enhancements (House Ruled or other Sources)

    Spoiler
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    Magebane - Your DM said no, huh? Well you should still consider trying to get it.
    Force - Damage reduction? What's that? What stops it being perfect is that there appears to be no way to turn it off in the once in a blue moon situation where you don't want it. A cursory search reveals very few creatures immune to force damage, so spy on your DM to make sure he hasn't found one of them to throw against you before you take this.
    Splitting - Makes Precise Shot worth it. Double the arrows, double the pain.


    Other Magic Items

    Spoiler
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    Bracers of Archery - Can be very expensive, but it's usually better to burn cash on improving an attack roll than burning feats. Also the greater version means each mind arrow hurts just a little bit more.

    Periapt of Wisdom - +1/+2/+3 to damage (and attack with Zen Archery), and if you're taking class levels that get another use out of Wisdom, all the better!

    Monk's Belt - Investing in this gives you a way to deal bludgeoning damage, enhance your mobility and add your Wisdom to AC. However while not explicitly clarified by Wizards, general thought like a real monk is you have to forgo any armor to get these benefits. Ask your DM.

    Mind Blade Gauntlet - Can vary wildly in use depending on what your DM decides. Depending on the flavour, stores a +1, +2 or +3 Mind Blade ability that, with expending your psionic focus, you gain access to for ten rounds. You can wear different gauntlets on each hand to apply different benefits to whatever you manifest. It's not a big stretch to let the Mind Arrow benefit from this as well. What is murkier is whether you could apply the Soulbow-specific abilities to these Gauntlets, or even our beloved Force or Splitting. Will be important for your build if you aren't taking more than a couple of levels in the Soulclasses and want to improve your weapons.


    Other Equipment

    Spoiler
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    Longbow and Arrows - Stop laughing. Remember that it will be level six at the earliest before the reason you're on this path comes online, so until then either you become very familiar with your backup weapon or you get some practise perforating your foes with more mundane means.
    Shield - If you are not using the two weapon fighting branch, you might as well look improve your AC. Consider getting it animated if you actually are using two weapon fighting. Remember the Shield Crystal of Arrow Deflection for added benefit.


    Under Construction
    Last edited by RMS Oceanic; 2013-07-25 at 08:38 AM.
    "They couldn't know that the points from the mainline to the siding were frozen, and the signal should have been set at 'DANGER', but snow had forced it down."
    - The Flying Kipper

  8. - Top - End - #8
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Multiclassing

    Spoiler
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    Ranger: This nets you the core of your fighting style for free, especially if you're going Two Weapon Fighting. Consider Mystic Ranger for quicker access to spells that enhance your archery.

    Fighter: There are two amounts of levels to take: two for two feats, and four for Weapon Specialization (and Ranged Weapon Mastery)
    Targeteer: This Dragon Magazine Fighter Variant has a special ability, Arrow Swarm, which you can take in place of a feat. If you have Rapid Shot, this lets you make two extra attacks at your highest base attack bonus, although the penalty increases to -5.

    Scout: Or perhaps more accurately, the Ranger/Scout Swift Hunter. If you're barred from Two Weapon Fighting and have to rely on Greater Manyshot, this is the most consistent way to pile damage on each arrow, although now you're in serious danger of running out of feats.

    Swordsage: A two level dip nets you a couple of stances, a number of boosts and counters and, most impressive, Wisdom to AC with Armor.

    Cleric: A Cloistered Cleric dip gives you Knowledge Devotion and a small number of spells you can use to heal or protect yourself. Going Cleric as your main class lets you taste the finer aspects of CoDzilla and all that this implies.

    Monk: You can slash, you can pierce, this dip means you can bludgeon as well. Also if you decide to forego armor you add your Wisdom to AC as well in half the time of the Swordsage. If you can't spare the levels and either you forego armor or your DM houserules, it may be better to pick up a Monk's Belt.

    Paladin: A two level dip and the Serenity Feat gives you Wisdom to your saves and a small amount of healing. Definitely tempting, but once again a question of if you can fit it in.


    (Other) Prestige Classes

    Spoiler
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    Kensai: If you're determined to get Splitting and the DM won't let you manifest it on your own, three levels of this is the easiest way to do it. Having to pick up Combat Expertise can be painful, unless you want to try all those Ranged Combat feats anyway.

    Shiba Protector: Anyone who is determined to rely on Wisdom alone can at least be tempted by a one level dip in this. Wisdom to attack and damage - on top of your existing bonuses! The downside is along with Kensai's Combat Expertise, you need to sink two more feats of dubious value into your build. On top of that there are regional requirements which the DM may not be willing to houserule away. I haven't seen many Thri-Kreen builds including this.

    Peerless Archer: A 3.0 class from the Forgotten Realms book Silver Marches, a three level investment gives you Power Shot, and not the nerfed Pathfinder form of it, the full one-for-one trade off that you can set as much or as little as you want. A minor problem is the need to funnel skill points into Craft (Bowmaking), which normally doesn't make sense for you.


    Through the Looking Glass: Soulknife Prestige Class?!

    Wait, what? This is not a fakeout, not a dream, not an alternate reality! Lois finally learns Superman's identity! there is in fact a Soulknife Prestige class, and it's not even third party!

    Where does this come from? Athas, a Wizards-sanctioned 3.5 Adaptation of Dark Sun, which has always loved its Psionics. It nearly everything you love about the Soulknife in half the levels, and can theoretically be taken from level 4 onwards.

    Why would you want to do this? Well the main reason is if you have little interest in developing the actual power of your Mind Blade before skipping to ranged combat, you only need one level of this class over two of the normal Soulknife's levels. That leaves a few levels free for Fighter Feats, Swordsage Maneuvers or what have you. However those intending to take their Mind Weapons all the way can love it too: Rather than getting a +9 weapon over 20 levels, you can get it over 10, and then you improve it even further with Soulbow's Contributions. +7 Seeking Lucky Collision Keen arrows, anyone? And if you're willing to brave Dragon Magazine, Practised Mindblade gives double the bang for your buck, leaving you with +2 enhancement and a +2 ability to play with if you don't want to commit. Also the prestige class is kind enough to have a full base attack bonus, something many Soulbow Builds are crying for.

    What are the downsides? Well I said you can "theoretically" get this at level 4, and I meant it: The prerequisites of +3 base attack bonus, 4 ranks in Knowledge (Psionics) and a power point reserve is difficult to attain by level 3 outside of cheese or Gestalt. Any Psionic class will help with the Power Point reserve and skill ranks, but none have a full Base Attack bonus. Conversely few full Base Attack Bonus classes grant you the knowledge or power points your looking for. About the only cheese-free way I can see it happening at level 4 is to be a Duskblade with a Naturally Psionic character, and a Duskblade's strengths don't really mesh with what you're looking for. The runner up for this is to take a Psionic Thri-Kreen with LA buyoff and one level of Duskblade, which may fit better with what you're trying to do with the class.

    The other downside is your previous skill deficiency has become critical: Being strongarmed into Knowledge Psionics compounds with the fact that Athas' Soulknife only has two skill points per level, so those with Intelligence penalties are going to have a rough time contributing outside of battle unless they immediately abandon Soulknife after their one level.

    On the whole, I'd recommend this path for dip heavy builds focused on getting the Arrow as soon as possible and using other classes to buff it. Alternatively this Class would fit very well in Gestalt builds, both for meeting the requirements earlier and gaining more benefits from an expedited Blade/Arrow development.
    Last edited by RMS Oceanic; 2013-11-24 at 05:27 PM.
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Gestalt

    The current school of thought surrounding Gestalt is that one side should contain the "Active" components - what you use to fight and engage with the world - and the other is the character "Chassis" - the base attributes. The Soulbow is a curious case in this regards. With d10 hit dice and good reflex and will saves we have the makings of a decent chassis, but it also provides the primary weapon of the character. In this regards the Soulbow's weakness is the medium BAB progression, the poor fortitude save and mediocre skills, so one should consider a class that shores these up. Another advantage of Gestalt is that one is less tempted to abandon the Soulclasses in favour of picking up more important abilities, allowing your Mind arrows to develop more naturally.

    Spoiler
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    Fighter: The overlapping d10s hurt, but Fighter//Soulbow helps out in three areas: Base Attack Bonus, fortitude save and lovely lovely feats. Possibly not the most exciting choice, but it allows you to really get your A-Game in the archery department.

    Ranger: Similarly to the fighter you gain important feats for your combat style, but in addition you are a more effective skill monkey and gain important archery spells.

    Swift Hunter: Comes into its own if you can't (or won't) use two-weapon fighting. You have less arrows, so make them count. Also has many advantages of the Ranger, but you have to wait a while to get them.

    Cleric: In a way Soulbow is the Junior Partner here. A simple Cleric Progression doesn't need much help to be an effective archer, but providing the weapon, better hit dice and a good reflex save means this is a viable combination.

    Swordsage: Unfortunately there isn't much offensive power in the Tome of Battle for ranged weapons, and what little there is surrounds thrown weapons. That said Swordsage's use of Wisdom compliments your combat style, and it's possible to instead rely on Boosts and Counters rather than Strikes to get a good solid use.

    Warblade:The same Tome of Battle problems with Swordsage apply here. The Warblade's love of Intelligence isn't shared by the Soulbow, but like the Fighter it shores up your saves and base attack bonus with a sprinkling of extra feats.


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    Last edited by RMS Oceanic; 2013-07-25 at 04:21 AM.
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Sample Builds

    Under Construction
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    [Reserved Post #1]
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    [Reserved Post #2]

    You can post now.

    I started this handbook because I've found it really difficult to find collected information about the Soulbow that isn't "take this class instead", so I've done some research that hopefully isn't treading too much on other Handbooks, and I'd welcome additional information to flesh it out as I add more of my own research, and questioning whether I've rated feats/skills/whatever accurately.
    Last edited by RMS Oceanic; 2013-03-09 at 02:58 PM.
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Very nice. I've wanted a Soulbow handbook for a long time.

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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    You should get a trophy just for the thread title. Exactly what I thought when I first saw the Soulbow.

    Quote Originally Posted by RMS Oceanic View Post
    The second is mostly agreed on, but a DM may rule it doesn't work: A Mind arrow is fired from one hand. That leaves another hand doing nothing, so why not use it to fire another arrow? If your DM agrees, a Soulbow can do what a standard Bow archer can't and use the Two Weapon fighting tree to throw around 60%-80% more arrows, as well as throwing Rapid Shot in there for good measure.
    I never thought of this. You have blown my mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by RMS Oceanic View Post
    The third is the unique one: Lucky. To be specific, Lucky is a +1 ability the Soulknife and Soulbow can apply to their weapons, allowing a rerolling of the attack roll once a day. For a sword or a bow, it doesn't sound very interesting. You're not putting it on a bow however, you're putting it on an arrow. Each arrow you sling with an in-built way to reroll a bad attack enhances your accuracy on an unusually reliable way.
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    You should probably try to weigh in on the argument that, since a Soulbow's arrows function like normal arrows, it should be possible to fire them through an actual bow, as a way to stack enchantments or put splitting on it or the like.
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    I've got a whole long google doc of archer builds I've put together, and one of my favorites involves Soulbow:

    Human, Cloistered Cleric (Knowledge, Trickery, Planning) 1/Soulknife 2/Ranger 2/Soulbow 2/Chameleon 10/Swordsage 2/Warblade 1

    It's pretty dip-tastic, I know, but it's fun. And if any build is going to be full of dips, why not a Chameleon?

    In any case, the goal was to make a Wis-SAD archer that focused on persisting the various cool archery spells Chameleon grants me. Wis to attack via Zen Archery, damage via Mind Arrow, AC via Swordsage, etc.
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Just had a quick skim, I've liked the Soulbow a lot. I always preferred the idea of using an actual bow rather than firing from my hand, but hey ho. Going to read properly but a few things stand out.

    1; Cyan is atrociously hard to read. Does it HAVE to be Cyan?
    2; Is there chance of getting sources for ACF's or Feats etc?

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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaz View Post
    1; Cyan is atrociously hard to read. Does it HAVE to be Cyan?
    2; Is there chance of getting sources for ACF's or Feats etc?
    The "handbooks" I have read all seem to have standardized on those colors, but I agree with the inability to change the background from white to anything else, other than the author placing it in spoiler boxes only or the reader just highlighting the words, cyan/sky blue and gold offer poor readability.

    I would also like to see the sources for the alternate class features and feats. I didn't know soulknife had alternate class features.
    Last edited by KillingAScarab; 2013-03-09 at 10:52 PM.

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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Are we going to rate races, here? Because Kalashtar make excellent soulknives, especially with Hidden Talent and Races of Eberron.

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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    FMArthur had interesting soulknife build ideas:

    A Soulknife who has taken the feat Reshape Mind Blade (Unarmed Strike) is able to throw his 'mind fists' at people. If you get Improved Grab somehow or use Scorpion's Grasp, you can grapple people this way. But technically the way the Grapple rules are worded, grappling from afar actually moves you to their space and not the other way around. Which really sounds just as cool to me. I think I'm going to make a Tashalatora Soulknife now that I know this.
    Quote Originally Posted by FMArthur View Post
    I'm far too tired to find it again but I've got a build around here that combines a lot of weird things for a very very weird build: the unarmed soulknife. At its core it's just Tashalatora + Reshape Mind Blade (unarmed strike) but there are lots of additional aspects that work together well. Kalashtar + Hidden Talent: Expansion and Atavist + Practiced Mind Blade are interactions I remember being noteworthy. Fanged Ring is a natural, Strongarm Bracers work with it even though it's an unarmed strike, and I think the Necklace of Natural Weapons also works alongside your level-based enhancements. Throw Mind Blade + Scorprion's Grasp does bizarre tele-grapple things by the rules.

    I remember ECL 10 being the point where all the features are up and running. Keep in mind that it's mostly just an interesting thing and doesn't transcend the problem of being a bare-bones melee class.
    I was just building a Soulknife+Monk Atavist today! Here's what I have:

    Take both Soulknife ACFs from this article: trade Wild Talent for Hidden Talent (obvious choice, since one is strictly superior) and trade Psychic Strike for bonus feats at the same levels. They can be any Soulknife-specific feat or any feat that benefits combat with a Mind Blade in any way... this is actually going to be better than bonus Fighter feats for the most part, and leaps and bounds better than sucky Psychic Strike.

    Take Improved Unarmed Strike, Monastic Training (Soulknife) from ECS and Tashalatora from Secrets of Sarlona as feats. At level 6, take Reshape Mind Blade from Dragon 341 - I know you don't have this, but the feat is really really simple: you need +4 BAB and the ability to shape your mind blade (your 5th level class feature). The feat lets you choose one weapon you are proficient with; you can now shape your mind blade into it.

    Choose Unarmed Strike.

    Now you have Monk's unarmed damage, Wis to AC, Flurry of Blows on a magical weapon that actually progresses with enhancements and enhancement bonuses. At this point you can go into Atavist, benefitting from both growths on the same weapon just like your Soulknife levels did. Take Practiced Mind Blade from Dragon 341 (it's the Soulknife issue I guess) and your Mind Blade will advance up to four levels past your Soulknife level, in addition to the advancement it already gets from the Atavist class feature (you can't do anything similar with Tashalatora and Atavist due to the way the abilities are worded). It should be noted that if you are not doing Practiced Mind Blade, Atavist gives you basically nothing of value over Soulknife-with-bonus-feats, which is disappointing.
    Choosing Expansion for the Hidden Talent power would probably be best.

    The Soulblade Warrior feat from Races of Ebberon is also quite good for this build (You can manifest your mind blade as a swift action, and your effective soulknife level is increased by two for the purpose of the mind blade enhancement class feature if you have it (though this bonus doesn't grant you the ability to enhance your mind blade before 6th level). When you spend an action point to influence an attack roll made with your mind blade, you also add the result of the action point roll to your damage for that attack).

    A little combo from Person Man seems to also be good for the build:

    Scorpion's Grasp feat: Free grapple check whenever you hit with an unarmed strike, light, or melee weapon. Sandstorm.

    Knifefighter feat: If your base attack bonus is +6 or higher, you can make a full attack with a light weapon while grappling, provided that you already have your weapon drawn. (Unarmed Strikes and natural weapons are light weapons, FYI). Player's Guide to Faerun.

    Touch of Golden Ice: Every time you touch an Evil enemy with a natural/unarmed attack, they must make a DC 14 Fort Save or take 1d6 Dex damage. Book of Exalted Deeds. Sadly, the Save DC never increases. But hey, everyone fails on a roll of 1, and since Golden Ice is a ravage ("good poison") they have to Save every time you touch/hit them. Just don't accidentally pick up any Evil women at the bar, the kiss goodnight could be a real problem...

    Very simple and potent combo. Punch enemy. Free Grapple Check. If you succeed you deal unarmed damage (again) and your enemy grappled, which means he's denied their Dex bonus, doesn't threaten, and has very limited actions. Finish out your full attack. Kill enemy and/or reduce them to 0 Dex and leave them paralyzed. If you fail to kill enemy for some reason, he's still grappled, and thus screwed.

    The main downside is that when you grapple, you also lose your Dex bonus to AC and don't threaten, making you highly vulnerable to counter attack. So its best not to grapple unless you only have a very small number of enemies.


    You don't see this combo very often, because Scorpion's Graasp requires that you be from "Wastes" like a desert, Knifefighter requires that you be from a specific list of races from a specific list of places in Faerun. Being a human from Anauroch is usually your best option, though with DM approval, he might let you be a Goliath.
    Only problem is that you need to be a human to qualify for Knifefighter.

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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Quote Originally Posted by KillingAScarab View Post
    The "handbooks" I have read all seem to have standardized on those colors,
    RoyalBlue is a bit more readable than Cyan while more or less sticking to conventions.

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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Worth noting that going the Greater Psychic shot for more powerful attacks makes you more SAD so it's a better option if you haven't got great stats. Of course you're not as dependant on Con if you don't go that route so it's a bit of a toss-up.

    I would also stress that you should add that there's no point in taking any more than two levels in Soulknife for a Soulbow build. Once you hit level 2 SK you have all the prerequisites needed from the class (Throw mind blade) and you're better off taking levels in classes that give you full BAB progression and other useful features. I mean level 3 is 1d8 psychic strike, and if you're going to sacrifice your move actions you get better damage mileage out of Psychic shot. Level 4 is +1 Mind blade, which stacks with your mind arrow enhancements but is it really worth two levels of full BAB + class features? And the level 5 features (Free Draw and Shape) are completely useless on a Soulbow.

    A two level Fighter dip works wonders especially as Soulbow is feat heavy and more bonus feats are always welcome, combined with a one level dip into something else. I went Barbarian when I did it, although there's a number of things you can slot in there.

    Also if your DM shoots down two-weapon fighting (or you don't want to go down that route) consider using a shield instead. After all the Soulbow class illustration is shown as having one, so you can always whip that out if the DM gets fussy about it.

    My personal thoughts after playing one are a little mixed though. They do make the otherwise awful Soulknife class actually playable (even if you aren't really playing one) and they're reasonably good at what they do. But they're very much a one-trick pony. They don't make good skill monkeys, you'll be dumping Cha so that disqualifies you as the party face, and you have almost no utility outside of combat whatsoever. It pretty much limits you (mechanically) to playing a straight blaster. Which can get kind of tiresome. About all you're really good for outside of combat is scouting (due to Wisdom being your primary) and even then you'll suffer from the lack of trap-finding.

    Actually I'd say you could make a case for taking a 1-level dip into Rogue just to give yourself that scouting utility. Plus if you're human and take able learner it'll open up a lot of useful skills.

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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    I've changed the colour codes, fleshed out the Races a little bit and added some feats and equipment.

    123's post about the Kalashtar Soulknife is very interesting, but I think it strays from the path of ranged psionic perforation a little too much.

    So stuff I need help with:

    - Spells and Powers
    - Any other feats I should consider
    - Additional Cross Class Skills that should be Class'd ASAP
    - The Pathfinder Perspective
    - Other Equipment
    - Builds
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Gold is really hard to read on the board color scheme. Maybe go with Dark Orange instead?
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Updated. Also changed good from blue to navy to better contrast with royal blue.
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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Just posting to say, though my op-fu may not be good enough to help much, thanks a lot for this handbook. Also, might the +wis damage on mind arrows be worth noting in the "Reasons to play a soulbow" part?
    Last edited by Samalpetey; 2013-07-25 at 09:47 AM.
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    "Whatever the plot requires" is the most pointless argument anyone can make. Yes, we know that--we know this is a story, not a strangely-presented history lesson. However, if we just say, "There's no point in discussing this because what will happen is what the plot demands" then there's no point in having *any* discussion on these boards, and Rich might as well close down the OotS part of the forum now!

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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Feat rogue would be an excellent class to pair in gestalt. Skills, evasion, and feats are needed.

    Ninja would also be not horrid, as wis to AC, skills, sudden strike, and evasion are nice. I wonder if you can manifest and then poison a mind arrow.

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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Incidently, I'm no expert but since the mind arrows are treated as being fired from a composite longbow, wouldn't you get strength to damage with them?
    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    "Whatever the plot requires" is the most pointless argument anyone can make. Yes, we know that--we know this is a story, not a strangely-presented history lesson. However, if we just say, "There's no point in discussing this because what will happen is what the plot demands" then there's no point in having *any* discussion on these boards, and Rich might as well close down the OotS part of the forum now!

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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Only question, I have is; what does a soul bow do when not throwing arrows around, most ranged classes come from decent skill points also.

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    Default Re: The Handbook to Kill a Yak...With MIND BULLETS! I mean Arrows! [Soulbow, WIP]

    Why a yak?
    Quote Originally Posted by jamieth View Post
    ...though Talla does her best to sound objective and impartial, it doesn't cover stuff like "ask a 9-year-old to tank for the party."
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