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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default The World in One Feat: A Shape Soulmeld Handbook

    The World in One Feat:
    A Shape Soulmeld Handbook



    The Shape Soulmeld feat from Magic of Incarnum has been called the most versatile feat in the game. Indeed, only Hidden Talent and Precocious Apprentice have anywhere near the same breadth of possible effects. This handbook is intended to be a guide to which soulmelds are best to access using this feat, as well as a clarification of some of Magic of Incarnum's mechanics.

    The Shape Soulmeld feat gives nearly any character access to teleportation, massive skill bonuses, energy resistances, limited flight, and more. With another feat, you can get access to class features like Evasion, an unlimited supply of zombies, telepathy, and at-will etherealness. Many people aren't aware of all the possibilities with this feat, so I have attempted to organize the information and point you in the direction of the best soulmelds available.

    Table of Contents:
    1. The Basics of Soulmeld Shaping
    2. The Soulmelds
    3. Binding Soulmelds
    4. The Strongheart Vest and Hellfire Warlock


    The Basics of Soulmeld Shaping

    Magic of Incarnum is notorious for being rather difficult to understand completely with a single reading. Much of this is due to poor editing, but some of the difficulty is because the mechanic itself is fairly complex. In this section I describe as simply and clearly as I can how shaping and using souldmelds actually works. I will return to many of these topics later in the guide to examine them more closely in the context of the Shape Soulmeld feat.

    Soulmelds

    Soulmelds are semi-permanent magical effects that you may have "shaped" around your body. These effects can give you active or passive benefits, such as bonuses on skill checks, immunities, additional attack options, or utility abilities such as teleportation and flight. The Shape Soulmeld feat gives you access to a single soulmeld, chosen at the time you select the feat.

    Essentia

    Essentia is the power source for soulmelds. Soulmelds provide a benefit when shaped, and Essentia can improve the benefit the soulmelds provide. Essentia is measured in points. As a swift action every round, you may invest any points of Essentia you have into the different soulmelds you have. The Essentia invested in a soulmeld remains there until you decide to invest it somewhere else. There is a limit to how many points of Essentia you may have invested in a soulmeld at any one time, and this limit is based on your character level. You may invest one point of Essentia in any single soulmeld at level 1, and this limit increases by 1 for every six character levels you have. The table giving this information is on page 19 of Magic of Incarnum.

    Chakras

    Chakras are like magic item slots on the body that you can fill with shaped soulmelds. Like magic item slots, you cannot normally have more than one soulmeld occupying the same slot, though there is a feat that allows this. Each Chakra is associated to a magic item slot, but it is important to note that simply having a shaped soulmeld occupying a Chakra does not prevent you from also using a magic item in that slot.

    Some soulmelds can occupy more than one Chakra. When you shape the soulmeld, you decide which Chakra you want the soulmeld to occupy.

    The different Chakras and the magic item slots they correspond to are given below. Chakras are grouped into three categories, with two chakras not in any category:

    Least Chakras
    Crown - Associated with the headband, helmet, or hat slot
    Feet - Associated with the boots slot
    Hands - Associated with the gloves or gauntlets slot (but not the rings slot)

    Lesser Chakras
    Arms - Associated with the bracers slot
    Brow - Associated with the face slot
    Shoulders - Associated with the cloak slot

    Greater Chakras
    Throat - Associated with the necklace or amulet slot
    Waist - Associated with the belt slot

    Uncategorized Chakras
    Heart - Associated with the vest or shirt slot
    Soul - Associated with the robe or armor slot

    When you are reading through the soulmeld list in Magic of Incarnum, you will see that some soulmelds, such as the Ankheg Breastplate, have (totem) listed after their Chakra. The totem Chakra is a class feature of Totemists, and cannot be accessed except through that class. The totem Chakra cannot hold a soulmeld, but a soulmeld can be bound to it.

    Chakra Binds

    Almost every soulmeld grants you a benefit simply by having it shaped in an appropriate Chakra. However, every souldmeld can be Bound to a Chakra it can occupy (or to the totem Chakra, in the case of Totemists). Binding a soulmeld has several benefits and drawbacks. While a soulmeld is Bound to a Chakra, you cannot benefit from a magic item in the associated item slot. However, a Bound soulmeld will provide you with often significantly more powerful abilities or effects than it does when only shaped. When a soulmeld is Bound, you gain both the benefits from having it shaped and the benefits from having it Bound.

    Because Bound soulmelds provide such powerful effects, Binding is not easy. In order to Bind a soulmeld to a Chakra, that Chakra must be opened. Every creature has Chakras, but by default they are closed. There are several ways to open a Chakra. The meldshaping classes (Incarnate, Soulborn, and Totemist) have their Chakras opened as they progress through the class. The Open Least/Lesser/Greater Chakra feats and the spells by the same name are additional options, as is the Psionic Open Chakra power.

    If you have a soulmeld that benefits from having invested essentia in both its shaped ability and its bound ability, you do not need to invest in each ability separately. For instance, if you have the Brass Mane shaped and bound to your throat Chakra, and you have a single point of Essentia invested in it, you will gain a +6 bonus to Intimidate and the range of your roar will be 20 feet.

    Shaping Soulmelds

    In order to shape soulmelds, you must satisfy several requirements and complete a ritual.

    First, you must have the ability to shape one or more soulmelds. This can come from a class feature or the Shape Soulmeld feat.

    Second, you must have a "clear mind". You must have slept or rested for 8 hours before shaping your soulmelds. This works just like the wizard's requirement for preparing spells, so anything that reduces the time needed for that (such as Heward's Fortifying Bedroll from Complete Mage) should work to prepare your mind for shaping.

    Third, you must spend an hour in concentration. During this hour you shape all the soulmelds you wish, whether they come from class or feat. You also unshape any souldmelds you are replacing. In addition, at this time you choose which of your soulmelds will be bound, and to which Chakras (see Chakra Binds above). For any soulmelds which can occupy different Chakras, you decide at this time which Chakras they will occupy.

    Your soulmelds will now remain shaped until unshaped somehow. In particular, if you only have one or two soulmelds and never wish to change them, you can shape them once and then they will remain with you indefinitely. You may invest Essentia into them or use their abilities and benefits as you wish.

    Soulmelds and Alignment

    Work in Progress

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: The World in One Feat: A Shape Soulmeld Handbook

    The Soulmelds


    Finding a good rating system for soulmelds is difficult. Whether or not a soulmeld is a good choice for a character depends almost entirely on his build and purpose. So, when a soulmeld would be graded differently for different kinds of builds, or for different kinds of campaigns, I will try to indicate that.

    Also, I am grading these under the assumption that they will be only shaped, not bound. Later I'll talk about which soulmelds are worth spending resources on to bind.

    The Grades
    Blue - This soulmeld provides a great, relevant benefit, not easily replaced by items, even at higher levels, and is a good trade for a feat.
    Green - This soulmeld gives a good benefit, slightly better than a typical feat, but might be replicated by items or spels.
    Black - This soulmeld gives a benefit about as good as a typical feat.
    Orange - This soulmeld gives only a little benefit or one that is easily replicated with some other, cheaper ability.
    Red - This soulmeld doesn't provide you any benefit.
    Purple - The grade depends on which benefit of the soulmeld you receive, or we don't have enough information to properly grade the soulmeld.

    The Soulmelds

    Spoiler
    Show
    Acrobat Boots - The Jump and Tumble bonuses are nice, but most characters aren't going to be doing that enough to justify a feat. If you're a nimble fighter, a martial adept focusing on Tiger Claw, or an acrobat, and you have essentia to invest, upgrade to green.

    Adamant Pauldrons - Light fortification is good, though mostly at low levels. If you can retrain this once you get medium or heavier fortification, upgrade to green.

    Airstep Sandals - Pseudo-flight, potentially starting at level 1, with increased distance based on invested Essentia. At low levels, this is excellent, and at higher levels it's almost as good. This soulmeld does a similar thing to the Blink Shirt, but allows you to make a standard action after you're done moving, but doesn't have all the goodies that teleportation brings.

    Ankheg Breastplate - This is only useful for people who don't wear armor and don't have access to braces of armor or mage armor. So basically nobody.

    Apparition Ribbon - Super situational. If you're a melee fighter in a campaign where you're facing a lot of incorporeal creatures, upgrade to green.

    Arcane Focus - The piddly additional damage is basically worthless, especially after level 1.

    Armguards of Destruction - You'll deal more damage just swinging that large pointy object in your hands at it. If you've got some ability that triggers off of simply hitting an opponent and you face a lot of undead, upgrade to black, since it can make one of your iteratives a touch attack.

    Basislisk Mask - Low-light vision is not very valuable. If you have Essentia to invest and don't already have darkvision, upgrade to green.

    Beast Tamer Circlet - Useless unless you're fighting alongside animals (that aren't your animal companion) and you have essentia to invest. In this case, upgrade to black.

    Behir Gorget - Situational. Don't take unless you're getting bull rushed and tripped a lot, or if you're a tripper that has to resist the counter-trip on a failure. The electricity resistance for invested essentia is situationally useful.

    Blink Shirt - At-will teleportation is very nice. Similar to Anklets of Translocation, but usable all day, and with a longer range if you invest essentia. Unfortunately, you can't act after you teleport. Even so, this is a great "Get out of Jail Free" card, allowing you to escape grapples, bindings, or even just surprise the people hiding behind a locked door. If you're a conjurer with Abrupt Jaunt, downgrade to orange.

    Bloodtalons - What Die Hard wishes it was. At low levels this can double your effective hit points. The only reason this isn't black is because Rageclaws do it better.

    Bloodwar Gauntlets - A minor bonus to melee attacks, and Essentia improves damage. Unfortunately the bonuses are morale, so they won't stack with your bard's songs or some of your cleric's buffs. Note the Evil descriptor, which by itself doesn't mean anything, but your DM might have a problem with your Paladin using them.

    Bluesteel Bracers - Useful if you're trying to boost Initiative, but provides a (typed) bonus half that of Improved Initiative. The damage boost from Essentia is too low to matter.

    Brass Mane - By itself, better than Skill Focus (Intimidate), and if you have a point of Essentia to invest, it becomes twice as good as Skill Focus!

    Cerulean Sandals - Very useful when it's applicable. In a seafaring campaign, upgrade all the way to blue.

    Crystal Helm - Gives you most of the benefit of Iron Will, and with essentia gives you some deflection bonus to AC, possibly more than you would get with a ring of protection.

    Diadem of Purelight - Buy an everburning torch. The bonus to Spot is too small to be worth a feat, and it doesn't improve with Essentia.

    Disenchanter Mask - The biggest use for this soulmeld in melee is detecting the auras of invisible foes, but the fact that it takes a standard action means they may not be there when you get a chance to attack. The low range means that it's little good as a warning against enemies. However, on a trapfinder who will have trouble with magical traps, upgrade to green

    Displacer Mantle - Better than Skill Focus(Hide). Why is it red? Because it's strictly worse than Kruthik Claws, and they don't stack. There is never a reason to take this soulmeld if you aren't Binding it.

    Dissolving Spittle - The favorite soulmeld of cats wishing to take down commoners even more rapidly, this soulmeld gives a useful ranged touch attack. The acid damage can be useful in dissovling inconvenient objects. If you have the essentia to invest, this lags behind the reserve feat Acid Splatter only slightly at low- to mid-levels.

    Dread Carapace - This is only better than Power Attack if you have a bite attack. Even then, the amount of difference is nowhere near worth a feat.

    Enigma Helm - Situationally, moderately useful. I don't know how many campaigns have NPC's attempting to use divinations on the characters, but they've not been many in my exerpience. Even if that is happening, the DC will be very low because of your reduced meldshaper level, so enemies will have a better than even chance of ignoring the effect of this soulmeld. If you have a significant amount of Essentia to invest, upgrade to orange since enhancement bonuses to saves are unusual.

    Fearsome Mask - Like the Brass Mane, but a lower bonus. On the upside, its bonus is of a slightly less common variety. If you really need to pump Intimidate, get both.

    Fellmist Robe - A flat miss chance against anyone not adjacent to you that improves with essentia. Useful for just about everyone.

    Flame Cincture - Fire resistance is common because fire damage is common. With just the feat, you essentially have the equivalent of an all-day resist energy. With essentia to invest, this becomes even better.

    Frost Helm - The primary benefit is replicated with a simple endure elements spell or item. If you're adventuring in cold regions and often facing cold damage, upgrade to black since the essentia benefit is helpful.

    Girallon Arms - This is rarely going to be a benefit unless you're a dedicated grappler. In that case, upgrade to black. If you also have Essentia to invest, upgrade to green.

    Gloves of the Poisoned Soul - The small amount of Wisdom damage done is usually irrelevant unless you've got a lot of Essentia to invest and you're fighting a lot of Wisdom-based caster. Like the Armguards of Disruption, this is mostly useful if you have some sort of ability that triggers off of simply hitting. Unlike the Armguards, however, this can be used by a Sneak Attacker to make one of his iteratives more likely to do a bunch of damage. In either case upgrade it to black.

    Gorgon Mask - The benefits are too minor to be worth much. If you've got a lot of Essentia lying around, upgrade to black.

    Great Raptor Mask - Gives you less than Skill Focus(Spot) unless you invest Essentia into it.

    Heart of Fire - This is going to come up about 0-2 times in a typical campaign. Now if you're campaigning in the Neverending Wastes of [Cold] Creatures, upgrade to orange.

    Hunter's Circlet - Unfortunately, both Heal and Survival are often mostly useless skills, and can be gotten to sufficient scores without spending feats. In a low-level, low-magic survival-style campaign, this could be more useful.

    Illusion Veil - Obviously this is only for illusionists. This is green mostly for the Essentia-based ability. Note that this even makes spells with a duration of "Concentration" last after you stop concentrating.

    Impulse Boots - Getting class features for feats is fun, and Uncanny Dodge is one of those that is useful for a great number of characters. The bonus to Reflex saves is icing on the cake.

    Incarnate Avatar - This is a weird one. First, note that the effect of this soulmeld depends on your alignment (see Soulmelds and Alignment, above) so that can cause issues. Second, this soulmeld gives you no mechanical benefits at all if you don't invest Essentia in it, so if you don't have any Essentia, this is red. Now assuming you have Essentia, the various avatars are graded as follows:
    Chaos - A bonus to attacks is nice, but at most levels this will be an irrelevant amount of bonus.
    Evil - Damage bonuses can be harder to pick up than attack bonuses, but this is restricted to melee.
    Good - If you're trying to boost AC, this isn't bad.
    Law - See Chaos.

    Incarnate Weapon - This feat is kind of cool, and has some niche uses. It grants the use of a martial weapon without nonproficiency penalties, which can help some characters. Also, you can throw your weapon with impunity, since it comes back to you. A little gimmicky, and I'd like to rank this higher, but it doesn't do enough in my opinion.

    Keeneye Lenses - Better than Skill Focus(Spot), and gets better with Essentia.

    Kraken Mantle - Situational. Gives a huge bonus to Swim and doubles (or more) your speed while swimming. In an aquatic campaign where you don't have a swim speed, upgrade to blue.

    Krenshar Mask - This gives a large bonus to both Jump and Move Silently. Unfortunately, those skills aren't found together in a whole lot of archetypes. However, for the Swordsage performing scout duties and focusing on Tiger Claw, I highly recommend this.

    Kruthik Claws - Better than Skill Focus(Hide) and Skill Focus(Move Silently) in a single feat. Green for everyone, blue for anyone making these checks at all regularly. As an aside, a Whisper Gnome with 20 Dex, max ranks in both skills, and this feat has a +21 to Hide and a +17 to Move Silently. At level 1.

    Lamia Belt - Better than Skill Focus(Bluff) and Skill Focus(Hide) together. Unfortunately this won't stack with the Kruthik Claws, but if you're more social and can already move silently well enough, this is a good choice.

    Lammasu Mantle - A situational bonus to AC that won't work against animals or other Neutral creatures. If you're facing exclusively Evil-aligned enemies, upgrade to black.

    Landshark Boots - Gives the same bonus to Jump as the Krenshar Mask but without the bonus to Hide. Only take this if you need to boost Jump and have another soulmeld in the brow Chakra already.

    Lifebond Vestments - This is basically empathic transfer, the soulmeld. Without Essentia, the low amount of healing and the hour wait time between uses on a single creature keep this down. With Essentia, this upgrades to green. If you can get another person to also get this feat, you can use it on each other to get unlimited out-of-comabt healing, though the time requirement is annoying.

    Lightning Gauntlets - Unlike the Armguards of Destruction or the Gloves of the Poisoned Soul, this soulmeld requires a standard action to activate, which makes the amount of damage involved near worthless. If you're a Sneak Attacker who's only making one attack per round anyway, this can be upgraded to black.

    Lucky Dice - Luck bonuses are unusual, and the fact that you can choose where to apply it is good. What's not good is that it uses up your swift action every round, which means no reinvesting essentia or recovering maneuvers in any round you want to use this soulmeld. If you have essentia to invest, so you only have to spend one swift action every few rounds, or if you have nothing else to do with your swift actions (e.g. you're a non-ToB melee), upgrade to black.

    Mage's Spectacles - This soulmeld gives a whopping 12 points total bonus to Decipher Script, Spellcraft, and Use Magic Device and another 6 points of bonus for every Essentia invested, and it lets you make these checks untrained. This soulmeld is so good, even mundane characters should consider picking it up.

    Manticore Belt - Gives a minor bonus to Jump and Spot, two skills rarely found together.

    Mantle of Flame - A damage shield that deals too little damage by itself after about level 4. Also, defenses that require you to be hit before they do anything are mediocre at best. At low levels or with significant Essentia to invest, upgrade to black. Note that this soulmeld produces light, so it's inappropriate for sneakers.

    Mauling Gauntlets - Most characters are not going to be making these checks often enough to be worth it. On a tripper or Dungeoncrasher, upgrade to black. On a tripper or dungeoncrasher with Essentia, upgrade to green.

    Necrocarnum Circlet - Since the detect undead ability keys off blindsense, you need Line of Effect. Most of the time, if you have line of effect to an undead creature you don't need extra detection methods. The Essentia ability is useless except on a necromancer. However, on an undead minionmancer with Essentia to spend, upgrade to black since the boost to turn resistance is nice.

    Necrocarnum Mantle - Only situationally useful and only at low levels, for at mid-high levels a Periapt of Health does the same thing without a feat expenditure.

    Necrocarnum Shroud - The bonuses are minor, unstackable, and situational.

    Necrocarnum Touch - Better than Skill Focus (Sleight of Hand), and gives a similar bonus to fient checks. Unfortunately the bonus does not increase with invested Essentia, and the Essentia ability is mostly irrelevant except to Sneak Attackers making only one melee attack a round anyway.

    Necrocarnum Vestments - The cold resistance is nice, but it doesn't improve with Essentia, and the bonus hit points are too few to be worth much.

    Necrocarnum Weapon - Only useful against things with DR/evil. If you're in an evil campaign fighting primarily outsider forces of good, upgrade to black.

    Pauldrons of Health - Like the Necrocarnum Mantle, but also gives immunity to the sickened and nauseated conditions, which increases its usefulness. The Essentia bonus to Fortitude saves is icing on the cake.

    Pegasus Cloak - Mostly replaced by a ring of feather fall, and the bonus to Jump is less than that of Skill Focus without Essentia invested. Also, there are better ways to improve Jump.

    Phase Cloak - Better than Skill Focus (Climb), plus the ability to always take 10 on Climb checks, plus retain Dex to AC while climbing. Unless you have a fly, climb, or burrow speed, this could very well save your life. With this feat and a +1 Strength modifier, you can hit a climb DC of 15 every time, no matter what.

    Phoenix Belt - Worse than an endure elements spell, and the Essentia-based fire resistance is totally outclassed by the Flame Cincture.

    Planar Chasuble - The planar protection is unlikely to come up more than once or twice even in a planeswalking campaign. The energy resistance is the real reason to shape this soulmeld. If you have essentia to invest, it is better. Note that the energy resisted depends on your alignment (see Soulmelds and Alignment above).

    Planar Ward - It's like a minor mind blank, but without stopping your allies from buffing you. Good unless you're at a high enough level to have other defenses of the same type already.

    Rageclaws - At low levels, this can double (or more) your staying power. If you're a low-HD class or you have Essentia to invest, upgrade to green.

    Riding Bracers - Like the Beast Tamer's Circlet, this gives a hefty bonus to Handle Animal, but it also gives the same bonus to Ride, which is often more useful than wild empathy. A good choice for mounted combatants.

    Sailor's Bracers - This soulmeld will only be useful a few times in most campaigns. If you're in a seafaring campaign and are actually having to make Profession(sailor) checks and Use Rope checks, upgrade this to blue.

    Shadow Mantle - Better than Skill Focus (Listen).

    Shedu Crown - This is good for any type of character who wants to be a wall, as simply being immune to being pushed is something rarely encountered. However, this is not something yer're going to use every combat.

    Sighting Gloves - Bonuses to ranged damage are hard to come by. Unfortunately, the damage granted by this soulmeld is insignificant. If you have a lot of Essentia to invest, upgrade to orange.

    Silvertongue Mask - Provides a minor bonus to Bluff and Diplomacy that can be increased with Essentia.

    Soulspark Familiar - This small being acts sort of like a familar or psicrystal, granting you the Alertness feat. Unlike a familiar or psycrystal, the Soulspark Familiar cannot scout on its own. However, it does have a short-range touch attack that can add a little extra damage. If you have essentia to invest, the Soulspark Familiar gets some impressive abilities. At low levels, this can contribute nearly as much as the Druid's companion.

    Soulspeaker Circlet - Almost entirely replaced with 2 skill ranks. The only benefit this has is that you can change the language you understand once per day. But if you can't speak, read, or wite in the language, the benefit will be minimal. If you have Essentia to invest, and if you are allowed to select a different language every time you invest a point of Essentia, upgrade to orange.

    Spellward Shirt - The Spell Resistance granted is so low that investing Essentia becomes necessary. Even with invested Essentia, you need to find a way to expand the Shirt's Essentia capacity if you want the SR to remain relevant. Frankly, i'm not sure it's worth the trouble when the spell resistance spell exists.

    Sphinx Claws - The bonus is too small to be worth a feat.

    Strongheart Vest - Damage reduction for ability damage is a rare commodity. If you have Essentia to invest, upgrade to blue as it can make you immune to quite a lot of threats. This can serve as partial poison and disease immunity as well ("What do I care if I take 1d3 damage per day? I have a Strongheart Vest and 2 Essentia!"). For information about the Strongheart Vest and Hellfire Warlock, see my analysis below.

    Theft Gloves - This gives a minor bonus to Open Lock, Disable Device, and Sleight of Hand. It also gives the ability to use these skills untrained, but most people who would be interested in the bonuses will be putting points into those skills anyway. However, this can make a member of the party a backup trap disabler with one feat.

    Therapeutic Mantle - This is like Augment Healing, but on the recipient rather than the caster. Ask your DM if this will trigger on the Crusader's healing maneuvers or his Martial Spirit stance (it should). If so, and you have a Crusader in the party or are the Crusader, upgrade to green. If all your healing is out of combat, downgrade to orange

    Threefold Mask of the Chimera - This soulmeld proivides you with immunity to the primary way that melee Sneak Attackers get their damage done: flanking. If you already have Heavy Fortification or Improved Uncanny Dodge, this is pretty much worthless to you.

    Thunderstep Boots - Sonic damage is not easily resisted, but the amount of damage dealt is too low. If you have Essentia to invest, upgrade to black

    Totem Avatar - If you access this through the Shape Soulmeld feat, you will only get half your character level in additional hit points. The bonus to natrual armor is better replicated with an Amulet of Natural Armor.

    Truthseeker Goggles - A small bonus to Gather Information, Search, and Sense Motive, which are less commonly used skills. If you're in a mystery or urban intrigue campaign, upgrade to black.

    Unicorn Horn - A small bonus to Move Silently and wild empathy checks. Two checks that don't go together a whole lot and too low of a bonus to make a lot of difference.

    Urskan Greaves - Very situational. If you have Essentia to invest for cold resistance or you're adventuring in an ice world, upgrade to black.

    Vitality Belt - A bonus to all Con-based checks, including Concentration, that matches Combat Casting. That's right, there's basically no reason except for prerequisites to ever take Combat Casting if you can take Shape Soulmeld(Vitality Belt).

    Wind Cloak - Damage reduction works better against ranged attacks than against melee, so that's good. See if your table rules that the ability to block small creatures from entering you space would keep swarms out. If so, or if you have Essentia to invest, upgrade to green.

    Winter Mask - We are missing information that we would use to determine the grade of this soulmeld. First of all, the soulmeld does not give us a duration for the fatigued effect. Second, we are never told how to calculate save DCs if you access a soulmeld through the Shape Soulmeld feat. The answer to these two questions determines the grade. If the duration is longer than 1 round or the save DC is significant (because it is based on a relevant ability score and you have essentia to invest) AND you have the ability to make many melee attacks in one round (TWF won't work here, but Whirling Frenzy or haste would), then treat as green since you can try to stack the debuffs to make your opponent exhausted. Otherwise, this is pretty bad.

    Worg Pelt - The bonuses to Hide and Move Silently are completely outclassed by the Kruthik Claws.

    Wormtail Belt - The bonus to natural armor is likely to remain relevant if you can invest Essentia into it, and at low levels this is golden.

    Yrthak Mask - Better than Skill Focus (Listen).



    Skill Bonuses

    As you may have noticed, a large number of soulmelds grant bonuses, often large ones, to one or more skills. As a result, the Shape Soulmeld feat is of particular use to anyone trying to increase their modifier in a skill. Below are tables summarize all the skills that the soulmelds can provide a bonus to. In the Bonus column, the symbol E represents the number of essentia invested in the soulmeld.

    Spoiler
    Show

    Balance
    {table="head"] Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Acrobat Boots | 2+2E | Insight | Feet |
    Urskan Greaves | 5 | Untyped | Feet | Only when made on ice
    [/table]

    Bluff
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Lamia Belt | 4+2E | Competence | Waist | Evil
    Necrocarnum Touch |4 | Profane | Arms | Evil, only gives bonus when used to feint
    Silvertongue Mask |2+2E | Insight | Brow, Throat |

    [/table]

    Climb
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Girallon Arms | 2+2E | Competence | Arms |
    Phase Cloak | 4+2E | Competence | Shoulders | Can always take 10
    Sphinx Claws | 1+E | Competence | Hands |

    [/table]

    Concentration
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    vitality Belt | 4 | Morale | Waist |

    [/table]

    Decipher Script
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Mage's Spectacles| 4+2E | Insight | Brow | Allows you to make checks untrained

    [/table]

    Diplomacy
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Silvertongue Mask| 2+2E | Insight | Brow, Throat |

    [/table]

    Disable Device
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Theft Gloves | 2+2E | Insight | Hands | Allows you to make checks untrained

    [/table]

    Escape Artist
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Acrobat Boots | 2+2E | Insight | Feet |

    [/table]

    Handle Animal
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Beast Tamer Circlet | 2+2E | Insight | Crown |
    Riding Bracers | 4+2E | Insight | Arms |

    [/table]

    Gather Information
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Truthseeker Goggles | 2+2E | Insight | Brow |

    [/table]

    Heal
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Hunter's Circlet| 2+2E | Insight | Crown |

    [/table]

    Hide
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Displacer Mantle| 4+2E | Competence | Shoulders |
    Kruthik Claws | 4+2E | Competence | Hands, Shoulders |
    Lamia Belt | 2+2E | Competence | Waist | Evil
    Worg Pelt | 2+2E | Competence | Feet, Hands |

    [/table]

    Intimidate
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Brass Mane | 4+2E | Competence | Throat |
    Fearsome Mask | 2+2E | Insight | Brow |
    Krenshar Mask (bound) | 4+2E | Competence | Brow |
    [/table]

    Jump
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Acrobat Boots | 2+2E | Insight | Feet |
    Krenshar Mask | 4+2E | Competence | Brow |
    Landshark Boots | 4+2E | Competence | Feet |
    Manticore Belt | 2+2E | Enhancement | Waist |
    Pegasus Cloak | 2+2E | Enhancement | Shoulders |
    Sphinx Claws | 1+E | Competence | Hands |

    [/table]

    Listen
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Shadow Mantle | 4+2E | Competence | Shoulders |
    Yrthak Mask | 4+2E | Competence | Brow |
    [/table]

    Move Silently
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Krenshar Mask | 4+2E | Competence | Brow |
    Kruthik Claws | 4+2E | Competence | Hands, Shoulders |
    Unicorn Horn | 2+2E | Competence | Brow |
    Worg Pelt | 2+2E | Competence | Feet, Hands |

    [/table]

    Open Lock
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Theft Gloves | 2+2E | Insight | Hands | Allows you to make checks untrained

    [/table]

    Profession (sailor)
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Sailor's Bracers| 4+2E | Insight | Arms |

    [/table]

    Ride
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Riding Gauntlets| 4+2E | Insight | Arms |

    [/table]

    Search
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Threefold Mask of the Chimera | E | Competence | Crown, Soul |
    Truthseeker Goggles | 2+2E | Insight | Brow

    [/table]

    Sense Motive
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Truthseeker Goggles | 2+2E | Insight | Brow |
    Silvertongue Mask (bound)| 2+2E | Insight | Brow |
    [/table]

    Sleight of Hand
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Necrocarnum Touch| 4 | Profane | Arms | Evil
    Theft Gloves | 2+2E | Insight | Hands | Allows you to make checks untrained

    [/table]

    Spellcraft
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Mage's Spectacles| 4+2E | Insight | Brow | Allows you to make checks untrained

    [/table]

    Spot
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Bloodtalons |2E | Untyped | Hands |
    Diadem of Purelight | 2 | Insight | Crown | Within radius of illumination
    Great Raptor Mask | 2+2E | Competence | Brow |
    Keeneye Lenses | 4+2E | Insight | Brow, Soul |
    Manticore Belt | 2+2E | Enhancement | Waist |
    Threefold Mask of the Chimera |E | Competence | Crown, Soul |

    [/table]

    Survival
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Hunter's Circlet| 2+2E | Insight | Crown |

    [/table]

    Swim
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Kraken Mantle | 8 | Competence | Arms |
    Sailor's Bracers| 4+2E | Insight | Arms |
    Sphinx Claws | 1+E | Competence | Hands |

    [/table]

    Tumble
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Acrobat Boots | 2+2E | Insight | Feet | Doesn't let you use untrained

    [/table]

    Use Magic Device
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Mage's Spectacles| 4+2E | Insight | Brow | Allows you to make checks untrained

    [/table]

    Use Rope
    {table="head"] Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Sailor's Bracers| 4+2E | Insight | Arms |

    [/table]

    Wild Empathy
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Bonus| Type | Chakra | Notes
    Beast Tamer Circlet | 2+2E | Insight | Crown |
    Unicorn Horn | 2+2E | Competence | Brow |
    [/table]


    Energy Resistance
    Another common theme among soulmelds is resistance to various energy types. Below you can find the options available

    Spoiler
    Show

    Acid
    {table="head"]Soulmeld | Resistance | Chakra | Notes
    Planar Chasuble | 10+5E | Brow, Soul | Only if Evil

    [/table]

    Cold
    {table="head"]
    Soulmeld | Resistance | Chakra | Notes
    Frost Helm | 5E | Crown |
    Necrocarnum Vestments | 5 | Heart, Wasit | Evil
    Planar Chasuble | 10+5E | Brow, Soul | Only if Good
    Urskan Greaves | 5E | Feet

    [/table]

    Electricity
    {table="head"]
    Soulmeld | Resistance | Chakra | Notes
    Behir Gorget | 5E | Throat |
    Planar Chasuble | 10+5E | Brow, Soul | Only if Chaotic

    [/table]

    Fire
    {table="head"]
    Soulmeld | Resistance | Chakra | Notes
    Flame Cincture | 10+5E | Waist |
    Phoenix Belt | 5E | Waist |
    Planar Chasuble | 10+5E | Brow, Soul | Only if Lawful

    [/table]

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Default Re: The World in One Feat: A Shape Soulmeld Handbook

    Binding Soulmelds


    Binding soulmelds without taking levels in an Incarnum class is difficult. In order to Bind a soulmeld to a Chakra, you must first Open that Chakra. The meldshapers get their Chakras opened by taking levels in the class. For non-meldshapers, there are options, but they require some investment. None of the methods available to non-meldshapers will open the Heart or Soul Chakras.

    Some of the methods of opening your Chakras

    Feats
    The Open Least Chakra, Open Lesser Chakra, and Open Greater Chakra feats are in Magic of Incarnum, p. 39-40. Each of these feats has a character level requirement, so you won't be getting any Binds much earlier than the meldshapers themselves. They also require certain Constitution scores. However, they don't have any feat prerequisites. Each feat opens one Chakra (you can open multiple Chakras by taking the feat multiple times) and gives you a minor bonus to a save, skill, or ability check.

    Spells
    The open least chakra, open lesser chakra, and open greater chakra spells are in Magic of Incarnum, p. 103. These spells are open to clerics, wizards, and sorcerers, so there's a good chance you or someone else in your party can cast these. The spells last 24 hours, so you only need it cast once per day. Unfortunately even open least chakra is too high level for an eternal wand. A wand of open least chakra, which will last you almost two months of adventuring, will cost 21000 gp. This is a reasonable expense at higher levels, but is still a handful of cash that could be spent somewhere else. Unless you're getting spells earlier than normal, the open least chakra and open lesser chakra spells open your Chakras at least one level after the feats would, though the open greater chakra spell is available one level earlier than the feat.

    Powers
    The psionic open chakra power is nice in that the one power can open any of the Chakras (given enough augmentation), but it doesn't give you access to the Chakras much faster than the spells, barring extreme optimization.

    The Bound Soulmelds

    In analyzing which Soulmelds are worth the cost to try to bind them, I will be assuming that you are planning on spending two feats to accomlish this: Shape Soulmeld and the appropriate Open Chakra feat. I am also assuming that you're getting access to these binds at the earliset level the feats allow. This section uses the same rating scale as the main Soulmeld section.

    Least Chakras
    Spoiler
    Show

    Acrobat Boots - Just buy a ring of feather fall.

    Airstep Sandals - The bind doesn't add a lot to the original ability.

    Beast Tamer Circlet - Useful in that it allows you to communicate with both animals and magical beasts and lasts all day. You must have Essentia to use it, though.

    Bloodtalons - You can just take Weapon Finesse itself.

    Bloodwar Gauntlets (hands) - Unelss you're a crit-fisher, this usually isn't worth the investment.

    Cerulean Sandals - The Blink Shirt does this better and is easier to access.

    Crystal Helm - This does even better than make your weapon magical. You can completely ignore the chance to be ineffective when swinging against incorporeal foes.

    Diadem of Purelight - Concealment can mess up your day, and you can get access to this before true seeing is available. Just don't use it if you have someone in the group who relies on concealment to operate.

    Dread Carapace (feet) - This can effectively triple your speed once per battle. Useful for emergencies.

    Enigma Helm - We like broad immunities, but (charm)s tend to be less devastating than (compulsion)s.

    Frost Helm - The damage isn't totally irrelevant at the levels you'd be wearing this at, and it is typed damage. On the other hand, surely you have better things to do with your standard action then send 1d6 to 3d6 blasts of cold air at creatures.

    Gloves of the Poisoned Soul - Strength damage is slightly more relevant than Wisdom damage in many cases, but the amount of damage is still really small without further investment.

    Hunter's Circlet - Just take the Track feat.

    Impulse Boots - More class features! Evasion for two feats available to anyone at level 6 is honestly a pretty sweet deal. See if your table will let this qualify for prestige classes requiring evasion. If so, this is the easiest way to satisfy the hardest requirement of Fochlucan Lyrist.

    Kruthik Claws (hands) - Just take Weapon Finesse.

    Landshark Boots - The fact that you can't pinpoint the creatures with this ability makes it have limited usefulness.

    Lightning Gauntlets - At low levels and with a little Essentia invested, this can add a significant amount of damage per round. Synergizes extremely well with ToB strikes.

    Lucky Dice - If this were built into the base soulmeld it would be good, but the added cost of binding the soulmeld keeps it undesirable.

    Necrocarnum Circlet - This is comparable to Wild Cohort, especially since necrocarnum zombies are often considered superior to normal zombies. Note that this allows you to make zombies at will, and so you have an unending supply of minions. Your reduced meldshaper level will hurt you eventually, but at low levels it will suffice.

    Necrocarnum Weapon - You won't generally have enough receptacles to put the bonus essentia in even if you could get criticals reliably.

    Rageclaws - By the time you can bind this, you shouldn't be spending a lot of time in the negatives.

    Shedu Crown (crown) - Telepathy available to noncaster humanoids is hard to come by. This soulmeld also opens up the Mindsight feat for great fun.

    Sighting Gloves - Most of the time, you'd be better off just getting Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot instead of the feats to shape and bind this soulmeld.

    Soulspark Familiar (crown) - The new familiar is slightly more powerful, but the difference between the two is not huge.

    Sphinx Claws - Pounce is more easily obtained with a barbarian dip or on a psionic character, but if those are not options and you're a natural weapon user, this gives it to you.

    Theft Gloves - Like pounce, trapfinding is more easily obtained with a dip, but if you need to keep your full BAB or have more spare feats than levels, this gives you the ability to be your group's trapmonkey.

    Threefold Mask of the Chimera (crown) - This gives additinal tactical options, but I wouldn't bind it unless you have a strategy in mind to really take advantage of the action shuffling (I'll put some good ideas along these lines here if I see some).

    Thunderstep Boots - Stunned is still an excellent condition to impose, and if you're pouncing, you enemy will have to make a lot of saves, hopefully making your stunning actions fairly reliable. Make sure to get some Essentia to increase the save DC.

    Totem Avatar (feet) - Makes you really stable, but if that's what you want there are easier ways of getting there.

    Urskan Greaves - Too little damage relying too much on Essentia invested. If you need more damage on your attack, get Thunderstep Boots.

    Worg Pelt (feet) - The minor bonus to speed is not worth the feats to get here.

    Worg Pelt (hands) - Bite like a wolf! If you have a bite attack, why not try to get some free trips out of it?


    Lesser Chakras
    Spoiler
    Show

    Adamant Pauldrons - By this level, you should have a way of getting medium fortification or better via gold, not feats.

    Armguards of Destruction - Too situational unless you've got a bunch of Essentia and are fighting a lot of undead.

    Basislisk Mask - Just take the Blind-Fight feat, it's got no prerequisites.

    Bloodwar Gauntlets (arms) - An interesting and flashy way to make a statement, but the damage is sub-par by the time you get it and you can only do it once per day.

    Bluesteel Bracers - This gets better as your group gets larger, and going first is good.

    Disenchanter Mask - If you've got the Spellcarft to make use of this soulmeld, it can give you a wealth of information in the space of one standard action.

    Displacer Mantle - By the time spellcasters are slinging out 7th-level spells, you ought to have defenses better than or equivalent to this.

    Dread Carapace (arms) - Only use this if you have a lot of different natural attacks. For a wildshape-focused druid or a Master of Many Forms, this can significantly increase average damage.

    Fearsome Mask - Check out the rules for fear and gaze attacks on page 294 of the Dungeon Master's Guide. By binding this soulmeld, you have a chance to make everyone except your allies in an unspecified range (probably 30 feet) shaken in the first round, and quite possibly frightened or panicked in subsequent rounds, all without you having to take any actions. Also note the absense of any language like "if a creature saves against this effect, it is immune for 24 hours". Anyone not immune to fear or mind-affecting affects has to keep making saves every round.

    Girallon Arms - Rend damage for two feats. I'd like to see someone make a clawlock or a claw-based psywar using this soulmeld.

    Great Raptor Mask - Usually irrelevant.

    Illusion Veil - By this point you should have a reliable way of seeing invisibility, especially if you're a caster.

    Incarnate Weapon - Stunned is an excellent condition to impose, and the move action activation synergizes perfectly with either ToB strikes or psionicists using hustle

    Keeneye Lenses - See Illusion Veil.

    Kraken Mantle - The bonus and damage are worth far less than the feats required to get here.

    Krenshar Mask - Unfortunately for this soulmeld, the number of builds benefitting from Jump, Move Silently, and Intimidate are few and far between.

    Kruthik Claws (shoulders) - Acid is a typical element to pick when you're trying to avoid the common resistances, so depending on how system-savvy your enemies are, this can give them a surprise. You need Essentia to make this worth the effort at this level, though.

    Lammasu Mantle (arms) - Situational bonuses are no less situational if they apply to the whole group.

    Lammasu Mantle - Situational, but potentially useful if facing a lot of summoners.

    Lifebond Vestments - Without a full meldshaper level, you likely aren't healing enough damage for being able to heal at range to make much of a difference.

    Mage's Spectacles - At the level you can access this, it shouldn't be providing much you don't already have.

    Mantle of Flame - It's too little damage and you have no way of removing your allies from the blast.

    Mauling Gauntlets - This is the Improved Critical feat, but without having to worry about prerequisites and applying to every weapon you wield, even if you're not proficient with it. If you can stand waiting until you can open your Arms Chakra, this is a better choice.

    Necrocarnum Touch - Too little damage requiring a ranged touch attack and allowing a Fortitude save for half.

    Pauldrons of Health - A useful immunity, but by this point you should be getting close to acquiring a soulfire shield or having death ward up on you when you need it.

    Pegasus Cloak - An actual, if slow, fly speed. You should have some form of flight before this, but this might be the first reliable option for flight that lasts all day.

    Phase Cloak - At-will etherealness. Say it with me: "at-will etherealness". If your table can't figure out some shenanigans with this, they don't deserve the title of "Player Character".

    Planar Chasuble - You probably don't even have the incarnum radiance class feature.

    Riding Bracers - If you have no other feats to take, this gives a minor benefit.

    Sailor's Bracers - The double speed while swimming is nice, but it's the effective freedom of movement with respect to underwater combat that's the real draw. If you're in an aquatic campaign but don't have access to the gear that does similar things, upgrade to green.

    Shadow Mantle - This gives a fairly unique ability to engulf others in darkness which you ignore. It obviously won't work on all creatures, but it will work on many humanoids. This really needs Essentia to be effective in many situations.

    Silvertongue Mask (brow) - Is only worth it if you're putting a lot of Essentia into the mask.

    Soulspark Familiar (brow) - At this point the soulspark is not keeping up at all with the enemies you are facing.

    Therapeutic Mantle - The bonus is typically minor, though if you've got Essentia to invest and use spells like heal that vary a lot based on caster level, this soulmeld is worth considering for a bind.

    Totem Avatar (arms) - You're better off taking Improved Unarmed Strike and Improved Grapple.

    Totem Avatar (shoulders) - This is better than Improved Natural Attack if you have two or more types of natural attack you would like to improve.

    Truthseeker Goggles - Darkvision is very nice, but there are other ways of getting it, perhaps not quite as expensive.

    Unicorn Horn - I don't think detect evil at will can be obtained this easily without a level invested in a class like paladin. Can anyone confirm this?

    Wind Cloak - Strictly better than the Deflect Arrows feat, if you invest some Essentia then you become all but immune to mundane archers between deflected arrows and damage reduction.

    Yrthak Mask - You can do much better with a Blindfold of True Darkness.


    Greater Chakras
    Spoiler
    Show

    Ankheg Breastplate - The damage is pitiful.

    Apparition Ribbon - There are other ways to get incorporeality, but this is a good one if you aren't a caster.

    Arcane Focus - By the time you get this the save DC likely be too low for your enemies to fail regularly.

    Behir Gorget - The damage is pitiful.

    Brass Mane - What sort of action is it to roar? How do we calculate the save DC if we access this through a feat? How long does the fatigue last? These are all questions that need answering before we grade this soulmeld.

    Dissolving Spittle - By the time you might access this, the damage is irrelevant.

    Flame Cincture - Free (or to be precise, swift) damage is nice. To make this relevant at the level you'd bind this at, you have to invest a lot of essentia and have a relable source of fire damage coming your way, ideally without any actions spent on your party's end.

    Gorgon Mask - At these levels, immunities are common, and only being able to use the ability once per day is quite limiting.

    Heart of Fire - Minor damage (1) of type "fire" (2) useful only against melee enemies (3). Three strikes and you're out of high-level play.

    Lamia Belt - A minor speed bonus and a mediocre feat for my last feat before epic? I think not.

    Manticore Belt - Not good enough, not at this level.

    Necrocarnum Mantle - You're not immune to poison yet? How are you alive?

    Necrocarnum Shroud (waist) - You can't exclude your allies, and many things are immune to fear at this level. That said, this can be a component in a fear-stacking strategy.

    Necrocarnum Vestments (waist) - I have no words to describe how feeble that effect is.

    Phoenix Belt - The healing is insignificant at this level.

    Planar Ward - By the time you get this ability, the difference between your meldshaper level and the HD of relevant opponents will make this very unlikely to trigger.

    Silvertongue Mask (throat) - Too many things are immune to this effect and the save DC will be too low to make this relable. However, it would be a great way to manipulate the common folk.

    Soulspark Familiar (throat) - At this point, you'd be getting one for style as much as anything else.

    Strongheart Vest - If you're not immune to ability drain already, this is a decent defense assuming you have enough Essentia to support it.

    Vitality Belt - If you don't have immunity to Consitution damage and drain yet, you need it now.

    Winter Mask - Irrelevant damage at this level.

    Wormtail Belt - I started reading the description of this bind, and went to look up Awesome blow, and then saw the virtual size increase, and was ready to give this a green rating, but then the DC clause came in and made everything that much worse. Unless you can really pump this DC this is going to be mostly useless.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The World in One Feat: A Shape Soulmeld Handbook

    The Strongheart Vest and Hellfire Warlock


    The Hellfire Warlock from Fiendish Codex II is a presitge class designed for the Warlock class from Complete Arcane. Throughout the course of the prestige class, the Hellfire Warlock gains the ability to add "hellfire" to his eldritch blast and use it in other ways. The use of this ability has a cost associated with it: every time the Hellfire Warlock uses one of his hellife-themed abilities, he takes a point of Constitution damage. People who would like to use a Hellfire Warlock but who are concerned about blasting themselves into oblivion rather than their enemies have looked for ways to mitigate this. Certain "obvious" solutions include having someone around to cast lesser restoration after every fight and using the Rod of Bodily Restoration from the Magic Item Compendium at regular intervals. Neither of these methods have encountered any serious opposition from the optimization community from a standpoint of rules-legality, but have limited uses per day.

    The most popular solution is to take a level of Binder (from Tome of Magic) and bind the vestige Naberius. This vestige heals 1 point of ability damage every round. This method works like the ones described above, but has more staying power and allows the Warlock to (almost) blast to his heart's content. The Warlock has to be careful not to use too many of his swift and immediate action hellfire abilities in the same round he uses a hellfire blast, but this is a minor concern.

    The final option that has been suggested is using the Strongheart Vest from Magic of Incarnum, accessed via a single feat at any level. If the Strongheart Vest is allowed to reduce the damage dealt by the use of the hellfire abilities, then it really does allow the Hellfire Warlock to blast and use his other abilities as much as he wants. This is because he will never take any damage, since none of the abilities do more than one point of Constitution damage to the Warlock.

    There are three main objections to the Strongheart Vest working in this manner, and they are all somewhat related. They are as follows:

    The Balance Argument: This method allows the Warlock to gain a significant advantage (the boost to damage through the use of hellfire) at effectively no cost since the Constitution damage never comes through. Obviously, whether or not this is a concern depends on the game in question. When making the decision for your group, however, note that even with hellfire blast, a typical warlock 9/hellfire warlock 3 is dealing 11d6 damage per round to a single target within 30 ft. This is an average of 38.5 damage, which is generally considered pretty low for level 12, especially for a non-area effect spell. For comparison, a 12th-level sorcerer with no feats or prestige classes could be casting a chain lightning for 12d6 damage to one target within 880 ft and half that to as many as 12 secondary targets around him, and a 12th-level Warblade could use Greater Insightful Strike to deal around 2d20+36 damage in melee.

    The Fluff Argument: The infernal beings granting the Hellfire Warlock power demand payment in the form of his soul/being/essence. If they don't get it, they're not going to keep giving him his extra power. This argument is based on the following passage from Fiendish Codex II:
    Quote Originally Posted by Fiendish Codex II, p. 90
    ...the diabolical forces behind the power of hellfire demand part of your essence in exchange for this granted power....
    This is a stronger argument against the Strongheart Vest working than the Balance Argument. However, a fluff justification is not difficult to come up with since souldmelds are themselves made of soulstuff. Taking lifeforce from the Vest still means the fiend is getting his payment, it's just that you're paying using someone else's soul, so to speak.

    The Rules Argument: According to the text of the Hellfire Warlock prestige class,
    Quote Originally Posted by Fiendish Codex II, p. 90
    Each time you use this ability, you take 1 point of Constitution damage....if you do not have a Constitution score or are somehow immune to Constitution damage, you cannot use this ability.
    The Shape Soulmeld feat requires Constitution 13, so if you take this feat you have a Constitution score. The Rules Argument claims that having what is essentially Damage Reduction against ability damage is the same as being "somehow immune to Constitution damage". However, this is not a natural way of reading the quoted text. The word 'somehow' is an adverb, modifying the verb 'are'. The statements "you are immune to Constitution damage" and "you are somehow immune to Constitution damage" are logically equivalent; whenever one statement is true, so is the other one. The Strongheart Vest does not make you immune to Constitution damage, it merely provides resistance to it.

    I believe that using the Strongheart Vest to mitigate the Hellfire damage is rules-legal and balanced. The fluff objection is a valid one, though I would try hard to convince a DM that there are ways of finding a fluff solution.

  5. - Top - End - #5
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    Default Re: The World in One Feat: A Shape Soulmeld Handbook

    Post reserved for future expansion.

  6. - Top - End - #6
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    Default Re: The World in One Feat: A Shape Soulmeld Handbook

    You really should clear up Mage's Spectacles. The way it reads now suggests that it's +12 and +6 per essentia. I get that you were just adding up the +4 and +2 for the three skills but I doubt most are as familiar with incarnum as you or I.

    Edit: whoops. Didn't see the date.
    Last edited by Kelb_Panthera; 2020-06-17 at 02:37 PM.
    I am not seaweed. That's a B.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThiagoMartell View Post
    Kelb, recently it looks like you're the Avatar of Reason in these forums, man.
    Quote Originally Posted by LTwerewolf View Post
    [...] bringing Kelb in on your side in a rules fight is like bringing Mike Tyson in on your side to fight a toddler. You can, but it's such massive overkill.
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