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    Default Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Incarnum classes. With exception of the Soulborn, this messy book is generally considered pretty balanced/mid tier. At the heart of all of these classes is the use of Soulmelds, Essentia, and Chakras, and their emphasis being able to somewhat change their specialty on a daily basis. I'll be honest that I've seen very little of these classes in play so I'll abstain from making too many comments on them.

    Incarnate (MoI, 20): The incarnum skill monkey. Can use soulmelds to fill the skill needs of the party, from trapfinding, to scouting, to social skills. It's apparently pretty good at BfC, which is always a plus.

    Soulborn (MoI, 25): The incarnum paladin is as impressive as the paladin. That's to say, not very. Can hit things as well as any Full BAB class can. The d10 HD on a Con focused class that's usually seen in heavy armor means it can tank pretty well, even if it's lacking pretty much everywhere else.

    Totemist (MoI, 29): The incarnum... barbarian? I guess? It's similar to the barbarian in the sense that they are both damage dealers with a wild fluff. It gets some skill bonuses, but nothing as major as the Incarnate.


    What are the tiers?

    The simple answer here is that tier one is the best, the home of things on the approximate problem solving scale of wizards, and tier six is the worst, land of commoners. And problem solving capacity is what's being measured here. Considering the massive range of challenges a character is liable to be presented with across the levels, how much and how often does that character's class contribute to the defeat of those challenges? This value should be considered as a rough averaging across all levels, the center of the level range somewhat more than really low and really high level characters, and across all optimization levels (considering DM restrictiveness as a plausible downward acting factor on how optimized a character is), prioritizing moderate optimization somewhat more than low or high.

    A big issue with the original tier system is that, if anything, it was too specific, generating inflexible definitions for allowance into a tier which did not cover the broad spectrum of ways a class can operate. When an increase in versatility would seem to represent a decrease in tier, because tier two is supposed to be low versatility, it's obvious that we've become mired in something that'd be pointless to anyone trying to glean information from the tier system. Thus, I will be uncharacteristically word light here. The original tier system's tier descriptions are still good guidelines here, but they shouldn't be assumed to be the end all and be all for how classes get ranked.

    Consistent throughout these tiers is the notion of problems and the solving thereof. For the purposes of this tier system, the problem space can be said to be inclusive of combat, social interaction, and exploration, with the heaviest emphasis placed on combat. A problem could theoretically fall outside of that space, but things inside that space are definitely problems. Another way to view the idea of problem solving is through the lens of the niche ranking system. A niche filled tends to imply the capacity to solve a type of problem, whether it's a status condition in the case of healing, or an enemy that just has too many hit points in the case of melee combat. It's not a perfect measure, both because some niches have a lot of overlap in the kinds of problems they can solve and because, again, the niches aren't necessarily all inclusive, but they can act as a good tool for class evaluation.

    Tier one: Incredibly good at solving nearly all problems. This is the realm of clerics, druids, and wizards, classes that open up with strong combat spells backed up by utility, and then get massively stronger from there. If you're not keeping up with that core trio of tier one casters, then you probably don't belong here.

    Tier two: We're just a step below tier one here, in the land of classes around the sorcerer level of power. Generally speaking, this means relaxing one of the two tier one assumptions, either getting us to very good at solving nearly all problems, or incredibly good at solving most problems. But, as will continue to be the case as these tiers go on, there aren't necessarily these two simple categories for this tier. You gotta lose something compared to the tier one casters, but what you lose doesn't have to be in some really specific proportions.

    Tier three: Again, we gotta sacrifice something compared to tier two, here taking us to around the level of a swordsage. The usual outcome is that you are very good at solving a couple of problems and competent at solving a few more. Of course, there are other possibilities, for example that you might instead be competent at solving nearly all problems.

    Tier four: Here we're in ranger/barbarian territory (though the ranger should be considered largely absent of ACF's and stuff to hit this tier, as will be talked about later). Starting from that standard tier three position, the usual sweet spots here are very good at solving a few problems, or alright at solving many problems.

    Tier five
    : We're heading close to the dregs here. Tier five is the tier of monks, classes that are as bad as you can be without being an aristocrat or a commoner. Classes here are sometimes very good at solving nearly no problems, or alright at solving a few, or some other function thereof. It's weak, is the point.

    Tier six: And here we have commoner tier. Or, the bottom is commoner. The top is approximately aristocrat. You don't necessarily have nothing in this tier, but you have close enough to it.


    The Threads

    URL="http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?568771-Retiering-the-Classes-A-new-home"]Tier System Home Base[/URL]

    The Expanded Psionics: Psion, Psychic Warrior, Soulknife, Wilder

    The Auraists (Re-Done): Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, Marshal

    Completing the Psionics: Ardent, Erudite, Lurk, Psychic Rogue

    The Rankings


    Incarnate: 3

    Soulborn: 5

    Totemist: 3
    Last edited by heavyfuel; 2018-10-01 at 09:26 AM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by heavyfuel View Post
    The Rankings


    Incarnate: 3

    Soulborn: 3

    Totemist: 5
    I think you mixed up Soulborn and Totemist.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    I think you mixed up Soulborn and Totemist.
    These Rankings are simply a placeholder from what seems to be the forum's opinion. The whole purpose of these threads is to correct these placeholders

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by heavyfuel View Post
    These Rankings are simply a placeholder from what seems to be the forum's opinion. The whole purpose of these threads is to correct these placeholders
    ... I think you mixed up totemist and soulborn. I've never seen someone rate soulborn as better and totemist as worst. The consensus I've seen has been the opposite. Soulborn is a fighter with inadequate incarnum instead of feats, while totemist is an engine of natural attacks that has useful abilities like flight and teleportation.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Ok... I see what I did now. You and Nifft are correct. Way to start my first thread.
    Last edited by heavyfuel; 2018-09-10 at 01:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    The Soulborn sucks a lot. It's a Paladin, except Soulmelds are worse than spells and it doesn't get the wealth of splat material that the Paladin does. The class's one saving grace is that you can play as alignments that aren't Lawful Good, but the Paladins of Freedom, Tyranny, and Slaughter are right there in Unearthed Arcana.

    People keep telling me the Incarnate is good, but I don't believe them. All it really does is get very large skill bonuses. But very large skill bonuses aren't all that useful, and its options in combat are pretty anemic, particularly at high levels. Apparently you're supposed to rely on dissolving spittle, but it's not really all that impressive. At low levels it's fine because you can beat the essentia curve and do four or five dice of acid damage at low levels. But at high levels it's basically a reserve feat, except you're capped at a single digit number of uses per day (that appears to be wrong, apparently I was looking at a weird source, it's still not great). Compare that to a Rogue or a Beguiler, who gets passably large skill bonuses, but also has the ability to do relevant things in combat.

    The Totemist is fine. It makes a serviceable melee blender that is probably on par with classes like the Warblade or Rogue that do lots of combat damage and have some minimal non-combat abilities.
    Last edited by Cosi; 2018-09-10 at 02:00 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    The Soulborn sucks a lot. It's a Paladin, except Soulmelds are worse than spells and it doesn't get the wealth of splat material that the Paladin does. The class's one saving grace is that you can play as alignments that aren't Lawful Good, but the Paladins of Freedom, Tyranny, and Slaughter are right there in Unearthed Arcana.

    People keep telling me the Incarnate is good, but I don't believe them. All it really does is get very large skill bonuses. But very large skill bonuses aren't all that useful, and its options in combat are pretty anemic, particularly at high levels. Apparently you're supposed to rely on dissolving spittle, but it's not really all that impressive. At low levels it's fine because you can beat the essentia curve and do four or five dice of acid damage at low levels. But at high levels it's basically a reserve feat, except you're capped at a single digit number of uses per day. Compare that to a Rogue or a Beguiler, who gets passably large skill bonuses, but also has the ability to do relevant things in combat.

    The Totemist is fine. It makes a serviceable melee blender that is probably on par with classes like the Warblade or Rogue that do lots of combat damage and have some minimal non-combat abilities.
    So you're ranking them 5, 5, 3?

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    The only change I could imagine happening to these is maybe putting Incarnate down to tier 4 with rogue. Don't really see the other two moving in either direction.
    Known among friends as "Ogres"

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    ...so as we can see, no internal consistency from WotC (unsurprising).

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    The only change I could imagine happening to these is maybe putting Incarnate down to tier 4 with rogue. Don't really see the other two moving in either direction.
    The Rogue is way better than the Incarnate, unless there's something huge I'm missing. The difference between the Rogue's +10 to Climb and the Incarnate's +20 to Climb is not very big, but the difference between the Rogue's ability to deal 40d6 damage per round and the Incarnate's ability to deal 15d6 damage per round is. I just don't see what the killer app for the Incarnate is supposed to be. Skill bonuses are unimpressive, their damage isn't really big enough to matter, and they don't have very much else that I know of.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    The Rogue is way better than the Incarnate, unless there's something huge I'm missing. The difference between the Rogue's +10 to Climb and the Incarnate's +20 to Climb is not very big, but the difference between the Rogue's ability to deal 40d6 damage per round and the Incarnate's ability to deal 15d6 damage per round is. I just don't see what the killer app for the Incarnate is supposed to be. Skill bonuses are unimpressive, their damage isn't really big enough to matter, and they don't have very much else that I know of.
    They've got some minor movement related stuff like airstep sandals for limited flight for example, they also get some pretty alright necrocarnum stuff, with the most major one being the crown that lets you make minions. I'm not very familiar with Incarnates, but considering their tier 3 counterpart is factotum and their tier 4 counterpart is the rogue, I think they would fit better in tier 4. Other than just considering skills and damage, a rogue also has easy access to UMD, which lets them replicate or stomp all over what utility the incarnate gets from binds.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    ...so as we can see, no internal consistency from WotC (unsurprising).

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Incarnate gets legitimate class features as soulmelds. Trapfinding, Uncanny Dodge, Evasion, animating a zombie as a pet (for free, but only one at a time), plus class feature analogues like walking on water, seeing invisibility, dispelling concealment in an area, continuous immunity to compulsions, or bypassing an incorporeal creature's miss chance.

    These features aren't as good as spells, of course, but the Incarnate does get a soulmeld which grants a significant bonus to UMD -- which is as close as a skill-user gets to spells. Also, similarly to prepared spells, the Incarnate can swap out what she's got for new tricks if she knows in advance what to expect.

    If an Incarnate were forced to just pick one set of melds and had to stick with them for a whole level, the Incarnate would be T4 or T5 (adequate in some roles; "F for effort" in other roles) -- but she can swap out her melds to meet a new role overnight, and that means she's meeting the criteria for being adequate at solving some problems, and (with prep time) kinda competent at solving all the problems, which is T3.

    Probably low T3 though (official vote: T3.5) -- for a skill-based class, it's starved of actual skill ranks. For a melee / ranged class, it's got awful BAB and poor HP. For a UMD class, it doesn't even have the damn skill on its list, nor a way to take 10 on UMD checks. Unlike a prepared caster, it can be difficult for an Incarnate to perform outside of her expected roles -- unless she invests in UMD and keeps that as a back-up role, which hampers her ability to fully exploit her daily re-spec. And at high levels, having skill bonuses rather than spells is not great at all -- at high levels this may turn into a T4, though the weekly gate could arguably turn it into a T2, but I'm not going to argue that.

    Though it's outside the scope of this thread, I'd say that Incarnate is best as a dip / mix-in class. For example an Incarnate 2 / (WizPsi) 3 / Soul (CasManifes)ter 10 is great fun, well worth the 2-level dip. Similarly as a 1 or 2 level prefix to Chameleon it can contribute in a solid way. Also, the class is excellent in Gestalt, where the weird bonus mechanism stacks with skill ranks and spell effects.



    Soulborn is bad at its job. Just give the d10 HD and full BAB to Incarnates, and let them have the (few) Soulborn-exclusive melds too. Ugh. This thing is so awful it makes me want to homebrew.

    Verdict: T5, bad at its job but not Commoner bad.



    Totemist is a swiss army chainsaw. It can uber-charge, but also it can stealth and fly. It's not as good at role-swapping as an Incarnate, but it's better at its core competencies (which largely center around face-stabbing).

    I want to give it a solid T3 because I have enjoyed playing a Totemist, but it's probably a T3.2 -- playing a bit like a Barbarian, but less straightforward. It doesn't get nearly as many class feature replacement melds as an Incarnate, and its skill bonus meld choices are far fewer -- but its combat competence is higher, and the few tricks that it does get are overall better (Move-action teleportation, turning Ethereal while moving, Pounce, breathing fire / cold / sonic, etc.).

    Going beyond the scope of this thread, Totemist as a mix-in for Soul (CasManifes)ter is also quite fun as a weird gish, and it's great as a 2-level prefix for Chameleon, and it can be amazing in Gestalt.
    Last edited by Nifft; 2018-09-12 at 12:30 PM. Reason: fractions for tier votes

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    Totemist is a swiss army chainsaw. It can uber-charge, but also it can stealth and fly. It's not as good at role-swapping as an Incarnate, but it's better at its core competencies (which largely center around face-stabbing).

    I want to give it a T3 because I have enjoyed playing a Totemist, but it's probably a high T4 like a Barbarian. It doesn't get nearly as many class feature replacement melds as an Incarnate, and its skill bonus meld choices are far fewer. But I'm open to arguments that it's actually a T3 because I like the thing.

    Going beyond the scope of this thread, Totemist as a mix-in for Soul (CasManifes)ter is also quite fun as a weird gish, and it's great as a 2-level prefix for Chameleon, and it can be amazing in Gestalt.
    Totemist compared to barbarian has as many skill points, a better list and access to skill boosts from melds. In addition, it gets stuff like flight, teleports, multi-target stunning and limited save-or-die effects. I'd say a totemist is more or less comparable to a ToB class and should be tier 3 as such.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    ...so as we can see, no internal consistency from WotC (unsurprising).

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    Incarnate gets legitimate class features as soulmelds. Trapfinding, Uncanny Dodge, Evasion, animating a zombie as a pet (for free, but only one at a time), plus class feature analogues like walking on water, seeing invisibility, dispelling concealment in an area, continuous immunity to compulsions, or bypassing an incorporeal creature's miss chance.

    These features aren't as good as spells, of course, but the Incarnate does get a soulmeld which grants a significant bonus to UMD -- which is as close as a skill-user gets to spells. Also, similarly to prepared spells, the Incarnate can swap out what she's got for new tricks if she knows in advance what to expect.

    If an Incarnate were forced to just pick one set of melds and had to stick with them for a whole level, the Incarnate would be T4 or T5 (adequate in some roles; "F for effort" in other roles) -- but she can swap out her melds to meet a new role overnight, and that means she's meeting the criteria for being adequate at solving some problems, and (with prep time) kinda competent at solving all the problems, which is T3.

    Probably low T3 though -- for a skill-based class, it's starved of actual skill ranks. For a melee / ranged class, it's got awful BAB and poor HP. For a UMD class, it doesn't even have the damn skill on its list, nor a way to take 10 on UMD checks. Unlike a prepared caster, it can be difficult for an Incarnate to perform outside of her expected roles -- unless she invests in UMD and keeps that as a back-up role, which hampers her ability to fully exploit her daily re-spec.
    That seems like a very long list of options that aren't relevant to combat. If the Incarnate got maneuvers or sneak attack or DFI or anything that made it useful in combat I could understand that ranking, but as is I don't see how you can justify a ranking like that in a game as combat focused as D&D. Your contributions in a fight are a ranged attack that does slightly more damage than a single sneak attack, and one zombie. How are the things this class does better than a Rogue (various utility options, arguably better at UMD) more relevant than the things a Rogue does better than it (massively more damage in combat)?

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    The Rogue is way better than the Incarnate, unless there's something huge I'm missing. The difference between the Rogue's +10 to Climb and the Incarnate's +20 to Climb is not very big, but the difference between the Rogue's ability to deal 40d6 damage per round and the Incarnate's ability to deal 15d6 damage per round is. I just don't see what the killer app for the Incarnate is supposed to be. Skill bonuses are unimpressive, their damage isn't really big enough to matter, and they don't have very much else that I know of.
    Incarnates can make decisions like:
    - Today I'm going to walk on water.
    - Today I can fly (in a limited way).
    - Today I can see invisibility.
    - Today I can spit acid.
    - Today I'm immune to charms & compulsions.
    - Today I have Trapfinding and a bonus on some related skills.
    - etc.

    Rogues can't do that -- they get Trapfinding (or trade it away), they allocate their skills at level-up, and they're done. Yes the Rogue gets MORE skills, from a MUCH better list, but the Incarnate has the type of day-to-day tactical flexibility which separates a Wizard from a Sorcerer.

    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    Totemist compared to barbarian has as many skill points, a better list and access to skill boosts from melds. In addition, it gets stuff like flight, teleports, multi-target stunning and limited save-or-die effects. I'd say a totemist is more or less comparable to a ToB class and should be tier 3 as such.
    That seems like a very reasonable comparison.

    Is there a feature-to-feature comparison that someone has made? I see a few obvious similarities like Shadow Hand teleportation <-> Blink Shirt, kinda, but I'm not sure exactly how they stack up.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    Incarnates can make decisions like:
    - Today I'm going to walk on water.
    - Today I can fly (in a limited way).
    - Today I can see invisibility.
    - Today I can spit acid.
    - Today I'm immune to charms & compulsions.
    - Today I have Trapfinding and a bonus on some related skills.
    - etc.
    Sure? But they can't kill things, which is the core competency of any D&D character. I understand that they do lots of things outside of a fight. But what do they do in a fight, and why do I care about it?

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    - Today I can spit acid.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    Sure? But they can't kill things, which is the core competency of any D&D character. I understand that they do lots of things outside of a fight. But what do they do in a fight, and why do I care about it?
    Ahem.

    Yes, they can kill things, but they can't kill things as well as a rogue can. That alone doesn't set them up nor down a tier, as it can be visibly shown that a good class need not the ability to kill things (i.e wizard, bard, factotum, monk) well in order to be viable. There are ways to contribute to combat other than HP damage, y'know.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    killing and eating a bag of rats is probably kosher.
    Gosh 2D8HP, you are so very correct (and also good looking), and your humility is stunning

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    I've seen mentioned that Incarnates have access to some decent BfC, yet no one here has mentioned it. I'm not familiar with the class to provide my own judgement though.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    That seems like a very long list of options that aren't relevant to combat. If the Incarnate got maneuvers or sneak attack or DFI or anything that made it useful in combat I could understand that ranking, but as is I don't see how you can justify a ranking like that in a game as combat focused as D&D. Your contributions in a fight are a ranged attack that does slightly more damage than a single sneak attack, and one zombie. How are the things this class does better than a Rogue (various utility options, arguably better at UMD) more relevant than the things a Rogue does better than it (massively more damage in combat)?
    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    Sure? But they can't kill things, which is the core competency of any D&D character. I understand that they do lots of things outside of a fight. But what do they do in a fight, and why do I care about it?
    In combat they've got a few tricks with the power of [Reserve] feats (acid ranged touch, electricity or neg energy touch), a few ways to buff allies (including a 30 ft. range +1 luck bonus to attack & damage -- stacks with Bard's morale and such), and some frankly disappointing ways to compensate for their terrible BAB.

    When those [Reserve] tricks are ineffective, they have medium armor and simple weapons. They're going to contribute in combat, but they're not going to shine.

    At level 3 they get Incarnum Radiance, which almost does compensate for their terrible BAB:
    Quote Originally Posted by MoI
    Good: Your body shines with silvery light. You gain a +1 bonus to AC; this bonus improves by 1 for every five levels gained (+2 at 5th level, +3 at 10th, +4 at 15th, and +5 at 20th level).

    Evil: An ash-gray aura surrounds you. You gain a +2 bonus on melee damage rolls; this bonus improves by 2 for every five levels gained (+4 at 5th level, +6 at 10th, +8 at 15th, and +10 at 20th level).

    Lawful: You glow with a blood-red corona. You gain a +1 bonus on melee attack rolls; this bonus improves by 1 for every five levels gained (+2 at 5th level, +3 at 10th, +4 at 15th, and +5 at 20th level).

    Chaotic: A faint green nimbus surrounds your body. You gain a 10-foot increase to your base land speed. This is considered a bonus. This increase improves by 10 feet for every five levels gained (+20 at 5th level, +30 at 10th, +40 at 15th, and +50 at 20th level).
    ... unless you're Chaotic, in which case you just suck.

    This lasts as long as a Barbarian's Rage, and like a Barbarian's Rage it leaves you Fatigued if you do the thing that makes it halfway decent, which is the level 7 ability to share the bonus with all allies in 30 ft.

    A Fighter can flank with the Rogue; an Incarnate can give the Rogue and everyone else a bonus to AC, to damage, or to melee attacks. (Or to move speed but don't.)


    So they can use Soulmelds to make themselves halfway decent at combat, and Incarnum Radiance to temporarily make that more than half decent -- and at 7+ level they buff everyone else nearby, too.

    Including UMD and all the situational utility stuff, I think it's enough to get them into (low) T3.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    I'm inclined to go with these rankings:

    Totemist: Tier 3. Using natural attack soulmelds, Totemist makes for a respectable offensive character. In addition, they get some really useful melds like Blink Shirt, Disenchanter Mask, Manticore Belt and Phase Cloak, not to mention a myriad of other neat little options. Plus, they have at least a few skill points. I definitely think they can hold their own in the tier 3 list.

    Incarnate: Tier 4. Incarnate is underwhelming. Its chassis is terrible, and its features and soulmelds just lack punch. It can perform a variety of roles at a below average level, and boasts no real focus. It is best with skill checks, but even there they don't have much to boast about given the low amount of essentia they can invest in a given soulmeld, and the limited number of soulmelds they can shape. They have day to day flexibility, but very few choices worth making and no abilities to tell them what they might need the next day. Its only a handful of slightly interesting melds that keep them from tier 5.

    Soulborn; Tier 5. In theory, they're the incarnum version of Ranger and Paladin - a melee class with a splash of magic. Unfortunately, soulmelds are way less impressive than spells, and their access to soulmelds is just terrible. They don't get ANY essentia until level six. Their first bind is at level 8! And their soulmeld list is slim and even worse than Incarnate's. In the end I'm pretty sure its worse than the fighter, and that's impressively bad.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Goaty14 View Post
    Yes, they can kill things, but they can't kill things as well as a rogue can.
    They can kill things as well as a Warmage's reserve feat can. No one is praising the Wizard for a crossbow full attack, and this is only slightly above that.

    That alone doesn't set them up nor down a tier, as it can be visibly shown that a good class need not the ability to kill things (i.e wizard, bard, factotum, monk) well in order to be viable.
    The Wizard can in fact kill things. It gets finger of death and cloudkill. It even gets better direct damage than the Incarnate, with acid orb dealing d6/level base, and having the potential for metamagic stacking into absurdity. And it gets planar binding over "one zombie".

    The Bard can do DFI, and is frankly a lot worse than most people think. The core Bard's only non-crap option is charm spam (or the closely related Diplomacy abuse). Outside of core it gets other options, but those options are things like "use DFI to provide Rogue levels of DPS" or "basically be a Wizard with Sublime Chord" (as mentioned, Wizards are very much able to kill things).

    The Factotum is just a straight up bad class. It's dysfunctional, not very good even if you houserule it into functionality, and people only care about it because they assume it will get favorable rulings and be allowed to use abusive spells.

    There are ways to contribute to combat other than HP damage, y'know.
    Yes, and the Incarnate can't do those either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    In combat they've got a few tricks with the power of [Reserve] feats (acid ranged touch, electricity or neg energy touch), a few ways to buff allies (including a 30 ft. range +1 luck bonus to attack & damage -- stacks with Bard's morale and such), and some frankly disappointing ways to compensate for their terrible BAB.
    "A +1 luck bonus" is not exactly an inspiring combat option. If your group has a lot of caster types, you seriously might not notice a +1 bonus.

    When those [Reserve] tricks are ineffective, they have medium armor and simple weapons. They're going to contribute in combat, but they're not going to shine.
    So all it takes to "contribute in combat" is "medium armor and simple weapons"? Does the godsdamned Warrior contribute in combat? Would you say an Adept with a d6/level fire blast and slightly better proficiencies was better than the Rogue?

    Including UMD and all the situational utility stuff, I think it's enough to get them into (low) T3.
    I don't understand how you can say that makes them better than the Rogue. The Rogue is roughly as effective in combat as the Incarnate is out of it (probably more), roughly as effective out of combat as the Incarnate is in it (again, probably more), and also gets UMD. Given that combat is a much bigger part of D&D than non-combat, and that it's much to use roleplaying to mitigating weak non-combat abilities than weak combat ones, I just don't see that making any sense.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Incarnates have the ability to get SR 37 at level 18, which is very good. On the other hand, it costs a feat, 15 incarnate levels, 25 000 gp, and half your essentia, which is very bad.

    Roughly the same problem applies to their ability to get a fly speed of 90' (perfect), +8 weapons (overcoming DR/epic at level 12), +8 CL when casting [healing] spells, 9d6 Dissolving Spittle/Lightning Gauntlet attacks, and so on.

    On the other hand, telepathy, continuous true seeing, spell immunity, and gate are pretty cool, even if they each have their drawbacks.

    Note that Share Soulmeld is a thing, and a Dissolving Spittle build typically features two standard-action attacks for 18d6 damage each.


    All in all, I'd rate incarnates at tier 4, but they're at their best when used to enhance another class, meaning either theurge or gestalt.
    Last edited by ExLibrisMortis; 2018-09-10 at 05:31 PM.
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    Libris: look at your allowed sources. I don't think any of your options were from those.
    My incarnate/crusader. A self-healing crowd-control melee build (ECL 8).
    My Ruby Knight Vindicator barsader. A party-buffing melee build (ECL 14).

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by ExLibrisMortis View Post
    All in all, I'd rate incarnates at tier 4, but they're at their best when used to enhance another class, meaning either theurge or gestalt.
    That I'll agree with. If you already had the abilities of a Warblade or something, I would probably put Incarnate above Rogue (but still below basically any class with casting, and probably Factotum). But on its own the class doesn't really do enough to satisfy me.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    "A +1 luck bonus" is not exactly an inspiring combat option. If your group has a lot of caster types, you seriously might not notice a +1 bonus.
    It's an unusual category of +1, which stacks with most things. Dismissing a stacking bonus would be very poor optimization. It applies to attack & damage rolls, or saving throws, or skill checks -- so it's even better out of combat, but also useful within.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    So all it takes to "contribute in combat" is "medium armor and simple weapons"? Does the godsdamned Warrior contribute in combat? Would you say an Adept with a d6/level fire blast and slightly better proficiencies was better than the Rogue?
    Not by itself, obviously, but if you can fly and shoot a light crossbow then you're probably going to beat That Damn Crab, or a host of other level-appropriate challenges.

    Having continuous Perfect flight at level 4 isn't shabby at all, and is a combat-relevant advantage until WBL catches everyone else up.

    Similarly, walking on water is a utility power until you're facing a line of archers standing across a murky canal or whatever. Then suddenly it's a combat power, because this combat involves water as an obstacle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    I don't understand how you can say that makes them better than the Rogue. The Rogue is roughly as effective in combat as the Incarnate is out of it (probably more), roughly as effective out of combat as the Incarnate is in it (again, probably more), and also gets UMD. Given that combat is a much bigger part of D&D than non-combat, and that it's much to use roleplaying to mitigating weak non-combat abilities than weak combat ones, I just don't see that making any sense.
    Incarnate may not exceed a Rogue at the Rogue's specialty, but one Incarnate can cover a lot more niches than one Rogue. The Rogue is static (like a Sorcerer); the Incarnate can re-spec daily (like a Wizard).

    It seems to me that the flexibility to do all the things is what T3 requires -- not do them better than the T4 specialist, but do all of them instead of just a few.

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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    I guess the lesson to be learned is that "being able to do multiple things" and "switch out your class features on a daily basis" are two completely different things and do not relate in any way whatsoever. I mean, if they did relate at all, then we wouldn't be having a discussion about the incarnate being T3...

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    The Wizard can in fact kill things.
    So it can. However, *having to ability to* and *must be able to* are mutually exclusive terms. I mean, the "GOD" wizard still contributes to combat without killing anything, and so why can't the incarnate?

    And it gets planar binding over "one zombie".
    I thought that we had already established that the incarnate, by any means, is not T1, nor is there any argument suggesting that. It's a pretty good looking scarecrow though.

    Yes, and the Incarnate can't do those either.
    Because...? The incarnate can still do things, not necessarily well, but being able to do everything exceptionally well is the argument for a T1 class, not the T3 argument that is being made.

    "A +1 luck bonus" is not exactly an inspiring combat option. If your group has a lot of caster types, you seriously might not notice a +1 bonus.
    If the group has a lot of caster types, any other T3 is not likely to get noticed in terms of contribution, either.
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    killing and eating a bag of rats is probably kosher.
    Gosh 2D8HP, you are so very correct (and also good looking), and your humility is stunning

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    Not by itself, obviously, but if you can fly and shoot a light crossbow then you're probably going to beat That Damn Crab, or a host of other level-appropriate challenges.

    Having continuous Perfect flight at level 4 isn't shabby at all, and is a combat-relevant advantage until WBL catches everyone else up.

    Similarly, walking on water is a utility power until you're facing a line of archers standing across a murky canal or whatever. Then suddenly it's a combat power, because this combat involves water as an obstacle.
    That continuous perfect flight is only at 20 feet per move action, and costs you 1/4 of your essentia + your only chakra bind at that level. You also can't hover, if you don't end your move on a solid surface, you fall. Still useful for "safespotting" from a ledge, but you're no air elemental or pixie.
    Cerulean Sandals are pretty alright, giving water walk as a shaped soulmeld (expected it to be a bind, to be honest). However, it's only useful if you know 8+ hours ahead of time that you're going to need it, and you can't use them at the same time as the airstep sandals which are probably better in most, if not all cases. Not to mention that charging a line of archers with d6 hit die at level 4 sounds like a quick way to die.
    Known among friends as "Ogres"

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    ...so as we can see, no internal consistency from WotC (unsurprising).

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by ExLibrisMortis View Post

    On the other hand, telepathy, continuous true seeing, spell immunity, and gate are pretty cool, even if they each have their drawbacks.
    Whoa wait do Incarnates get GATE ??? How has that slipped by?

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Lotheb View Post
    Whoa wait do Incarnates get GATE ??? How has that slipped by?
    It didn't. Once a week, at level 19, an incarnate can emulate a gate spell (still using the xp costs and all). At that point you're better off getting gate via truenamer or healer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    killing and eating a bag of rats is probably kosher.
    Gosh 2D8HP, you are so very correct (and also good looking), and your humility is stunning

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    It's an unusual category of +1, which stacks with most things. Dismissing a stacking bonus would be very poor optimization. It applies to attack & damage rolls, or saving throws, or skill checks -- so it's even better out of combat, but also useful within.
    No, bad. Stop neglecting opportunity cost. Yes, the bonus exists. But it's not big enough to justify a party slot (even against Warblades and Healers) and the Incarnate isn't otherwise good enough for an incidental bonus to matter.

    Not by itself, obviously, but if you can fly and shoot a light crossbow then you're probably going to beat That Damn Crab, or a host of other level-appropriate challenges.
    The airstep sandals aren't real flight. Unless there's somewhere you can stop that's out of reach of the Crab, it's still going to gank you because you have to land somewhere you are "solidly supported". That's a lot less like fly than it is like Climb. The circumstances where you do better than a Rogue who invested in Climb are pretty sharply limited. It's basically "chasms" and "ledges that are taller than the Crab's reach, short enough for you to fly up, and smooth enough the Rogue can't climb them".

    It seems to me that the flexibility to do all the things is what T3 requires -- not do them better than the T4 specialist, but do all of them instead of just a few.
    It seems to me we don't have to check against what it seems to you, because there was a provided definition:

    Quote Originally Posted by OP, Tier Three
    The usual outcome is that you are very good at solving a couple of problems and competent at solving a few more. Of course, there are other possibilities, for example that you might instead be competent at solving nearly all problems.
    So what problems is the Incarnate "very good" at solving? Because they're certainly bad enough in combat that they aren't "competent" at solving nearly all problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by Goaty14 View Post
    I guess the lesson to be learned is that "being able to do multiple things" and "switch out your class features on a daily basis" are two completely different things and do not relate in any way whatsoever. I mean, if they did relate at all, then we wouldn't be having a discussion about the incarnate being T3...
    Well, yes, because there's an implicit "effectively" (under this set of definitions, it's actually pretty explicit) in "do multiple things". Indeed, the Adept, who can swap their spells every day and gets such effects as polymorph, raise dead, animate dead, and commune is Tier Four and the Warlock, who doesn't get to swap their spells every day, is Tier Three. Because part of the ranking is how effective you are at what you do, not just the variety of things you do. Also, Nifft is (or was initially) voting Tier Three for the Incarnate and Tier Four for the Totemist despite the fact that both get to swap their powers daily.

    So it can. However, *having to ability to* and *must be able to* are mutually exclusive terms. I mean, the "GOD" wizard still contributes to combat without killing anything, and so why can't the incarnate?
    An enemy who has been incapacitated with color spray, glitterdust, stinking cloud, or evard's black tentacles is functionally dead. And yes, while you can contribute nonlethally, the Incarnate doesn't. If it did, you would just say "what about the <insert soulmeld> which <level appropriate effect>s" instead of asking rhetorical questions.

    I thought that we had already established that the incarnate, by any means, is not T1, nor is there any argument suggesting that. It's a pretty good looking scarecrow though.
    Okay, how many steps down from planar binding is "one zombie"? Because I'm pretty sure the answer is "more than two".

    If the group has a lot of caster types, any other T3 is not likely to get noticed in terms of contribution, either.
    You mean like the Adept, which is Tier Four, but is totally a caster? Or the Warmage, which is Tier Three, but is also a caster? Or the Bard, which is again Tier Three, but is (or can be built as) a caster? Because you can build an either party of casters, none of which are supposed to be higher than Tier Three.
    Last edited by Cosi; 2018-09-11 at 07:52 AM.

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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    Soulborn float somewhere in the tier 5 range, if they got binds earlier and a larger essentia pool sooner they would jump up to tier 3 but as is they are shot in the foot by how delayed their schtick is. I am using one right now as a side in a gestalt game where we are high level and the fact that they can have immunity to just about everything makes them very nasty if you setup your other side to take advantage of that.

    Incarnates seem to be a high tier 4 or very low tier 3. Their skill bonuses, and option are very useful and make them able to float around in what role they can fill. However, like has been stated they are limited in their combat utility. Honestly I think they are the opposite case of a barbarian, barbarians tend to be great and powerful in battle but often useless outside of it. Whereas, Incarnates can do a whole heck of a lot but stumble in combat.

    Totemist are a solid tier 3, they are powerful in combat and their utility outside is enhanced by the random assortment of choices you have for soul melds.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Incarnate, Soulborn, Totemist

    totemist are an easy t3. they are similar to initiators in many ways, just more flexible day to day, and often better outside of combat, but lacking some of the punch.

    incarnate is low 3 or high 4, but I like the class so I want to make it t3. they can be amazing fear stackers with huge intimidate bonuses, and have a bunch of niche stuff. their Chassis is bad and they really should be merged with soulborn since that class can go die in a fire. they are pretty decent generalist just without nova capabilities. as they focus they will be better than most specialists at one thing outside combat, but they suffer in combat. plus hey gate once a week is still gate.

    soulborn is 5. just bad. their meld list can be nice for shape soulmeld for other characters however. a 10 level martial prestige class for those dipping incarnum
    Is what they would have been if not just merged with incarnate. put all their features in 10 levels with full bab and d10 hd and I would gladly add it onto something. as is just pass.

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