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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Elves's Avatar

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    Feb 2019

    Default The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    needs revision


    This is the ranger class for Age of Warriors, a TOB sequel project.

    A Shinto ranger, basically.

    This is an alpha draft thatís not finished. Most glaringly I havenít assigned stats to the manifested sprite. Iím posting it because I need help with balance.

    The hardest thing is to make sure weapon bond, manifest bond and animal god companion are all relatively balanced and that the former two have their uses.


    Animist

    Spoiler: pretty much this
    Show


    To be in harmony with the awe-inspiring aspects of nature is to be conscious of the Sublime Way.

    As an animist, you access the Sublime Way not through martial practice, but through your connection to the natural spirits. In battle, you make your weapon the physical vessel for a spirit, and it guides you to perform sublime maneuvers. You can even call that spirit out of your weapon to fight by your side, though then it can no longer guide you.


    Saves, HD, skills, and proficiencies as ranger.
    Medium BAB (or possibly full, see my post below).

    Level Special Spirit Bonds Backup Bonds
    1 Create Spirit Bond, Befriend Animal God 1 --
    2 -- 1 1
    3 Unseen Friends 1 1
    4 Sohei Wand 1 1
    5 Increased Manifest Range (60 ft) 1 1
    6 -- 2 1
    7 Twilight Visitor 2 2
    8 Animist Magnetism 2 2
    9 Increased Manifest Range (120 ft) 2 2
    10 Warden of Sacred Places 2 2
    11 Bind Rare Sprites 2 2
    12 -- 2 3
    13 Increased Manifest Range (500 ft) 2 3
    14 Sublime Awe 2 3
    15 Shrinewalker 2 3
    16 -- 3 3
    17 Increased Manifest Range (1 mi) 3 4
    18 Spirit Swap 3 4
    19 -- 3 4
    20 Universal Consciousness 3 4


    CLASS FEATURES


    Create Spirit Bond
    -
    As an animist, you have great empathy with the spirits of nature. As a result, you can create and wield shintai: objects which serve as a spirit's physical body.
    -
    In order to create a shintai, you first need a specially prepared ritual object that will typically be your weapon. These ritual preparations make the object capable of holding and anchoring a spirit. To prepare an object in this way takes 15 minutes and reagents of negligible cost.
    -
    To attract a particular kind of spirit to inhabit your shintai, you need a beacon that attracts spirits of the type you desire. There are three forms of beacon: altars, shrines, and sacred places.
    -
    Sacred places are sites that are extremely appealing to a certain kind of sprite, so much that they are naturally attracted there. For example, an especially famous or ancient tree would count as a sacred place for tree sprites.
    -
    Altars must be set with an offering that appeals to the type of spirit you want to court: blood for a blood sprite, dice for a luck sprite, and so on. To attract a spirit requires focused attention on your altar. The altar must be set in place and not moved.
    -
    Shrines are designed to be comfortable long-term homes for spirits and sprites. At a shrine you can make contact with the specific spirit who lives there, and potentially bond with it. Of course, a spirit living in a well-worshipped and well-established shrine is less willing to join you than one in a small, dilapidated roadside one. A DM can insert shrines housing certain spirits arbitrarily if no appropriate environment for one the player desires is available.
    -
    You gain the ability to build altars at 3rd level. Before that you are reliant on shrines and sacred places.
    -
    The time it takes to attract a given spirit varies by how amenable the environment is to it. An altar significantly reduces this time.
    -
    In a sacred place, you donít really need an altar. With an altar, you'll attract a sprite almost immediately.
    -
    In an appropriate habitat, such as a forge for a metal sprite, you can attract a sprite without an altar, but an altar will make it much faster. In a neutral environment, you are unlikely to find the desired type without an altar. You can't find a sprite in an actively hostile environment, like a desert for a water sprite.
    -
    Times to Attract Spirits
    Shrine ó Most spirits spend at least half the day in their shrine. If it's at home, you can try to convince it to join you.
    Sacred place ó 1d20 minutes; 1d10 minutes with altar
    Appropriate environment ó 3d8 hours; 1d4 hours with altar.
    Neutral environment ó 2d8 hours with altar.
    Inappropriate environment ó Unlikely to be possible.
    -
    Without a beacon, spirits may still find your ritual vessel appealing so long as it's empty -- but this will happen more rarely and you can't control the type of sprite attracted. Percentages forthcoming. You can always refuse to bond with a spirit, if itís not one you want.
    -
    You donít ďbindĒ spirits forcefully as a binder does; they voluntarily choose to inhabit your shintai objects. If you disrespect them, other spirits, or the thing they represent, they may leave.
    -
    Spirits can by default only be bound on the Material and Inner planes. For rules on spirits in the Outer Planes, consult sidebar [TBA]. Spirits can never be bound on demiplanes or in extradimensional spaces (your Twilight Visitor class feature is the exception).

    óóó

    Once you have bonded a spirit in this way you gain the benefits of your two main abilities: Weapon Bond and Manifest Bond.
    -
    When a spirit is in your weapon, thatís called a Weapon Bond.
    When they manifest outside it as a sprite, thatís a Manifest Bond.
    -
    Switching from one bond to another is a swift action. Once you gain more bond slots, you can spend a move action on top of that to change the status of all spirit bonds you have active. (But you can't use this to swap a single bond back and forth in the same turn.)
    -
    While you have a weapon bond active, you gain maneuvers and stances from the discipline(s) granted by that sprite, as detailed in Maneuvers, below. The highest level of maneuver you can use is determined by your effective animist level, as normal for an initiator.
    -
    While you have a manifest bond active, it takes on a small, medium or large semi-physical form and can [initiate strikes somehow]. It has [x stats]. A manifest bond doesnít grant you maneuvers or stances.
    -
    A manifest bond is still part of a shintai bond; itís still connected to your weapon, which serves as its anchor in the physical world. Hence it canít go further than 20 feet from that weapon. This distance increases at later levels.
    -
    If a sprite is killed in manifest form, itís gone. You have to attract another one.
    -
    If desired, you can make almost any object the vessel of your shintai bond by giving it special ritual preparations. If not a weapon, it doesnít grant you martial maneuvers. It can still manifest and perform maneuvers.

    óóó

    In the hands of a non-animist, a spirit-bound weapon or item has no benefit or ability to manifest, as they can't communicate with the spirit effectively.
    -
    Even with multiple weapons, limbs, or brains, an animist still can't wield or manifest multiple spirits, as the communication between an animist and a spirit or sprite takes place through the animist's "soul".

    Maneuvers: You can use a very wide number of disciplines, but not all at once.
    -
    When maintaining a weapon bond, you gain use of one stance and one maneuver, plus one maneuver from each level of maneuver you can use.
    -
    This stance and these maneuvers must be drawn from the discipline(s) your currently bound sprite grants access to. The list of sprites and the disciplines they grant is in the post below this one.

    Recovery Mechanic: A spiritís maneuvers are refreshed whenever a new weapon bond is initiated, including when you swap back from a manifest bond.

    Befriend Animal God: At any level, you may use a bond slot to befriend an animal god ó an animal with a remarkable concentration of spirit. This functions as the druidís animal companion with the exception that its Intelligence and Wisdom are 2 higher than the base animal. It will also have a distinctive appearance, such as skin or fur of an unusual color, strange markings, small horns on an animal usually without them, or similar.
    -
    If desired you can spend multiple bond slots to befriend multiple animal gods.

    Backup Bond: At 2nd level, in addition to your main bond slot(s), you can form a placeholder bond. Typically these are held within specially shaped stones, but the vessel could be almost anything. This is not an extra bond slot: the spirit cannot manifest, grant you maneuvers, or be swapped for an animal god companion. Instead, you can use a swift action to shift a stored sprite into one of your actual shintai objects. This dismisses any current weapon bond or manifest bond you have active.
    -
    If you have an animal god companion, instead of a backup bond you can create a spirit stone. This stone can restore your animal to life as long as a sunrise has not passed since they died. They come back to life with 1 negative level, or 4 if theyíve already died since the last sunrise (plus 3 over that for every further death, and if that's ≥ their HD they're gone). Since animal gods are connected to this planet, if you're on another plane then this is calculated based on the part of the planet where you departed from.
    -
    You gain more backup bonds as you level up, up to 4 at 17th level.

    Unseen Friends: The spirits like you and have let down their walls a little bit.
    -
    You gain the ability to attract spirits with altars. A small DIY altar with an offering is sufficient for attraction; refer to the rules for this in Spirit Bond, above.
    -
    You also gain the ability to build shrines -- permanent houses for spirits. Doing this takes [x gold and time]. [Rules.]
    -
    Finally, you gain spirit empathy. This is identical to the ranger's wild empathy, except that it can also affect plants and fey.

    Sohei Wand: Starting at 4th level, you may use a bond slot to create a shintai bond within a specially prepared ritual wand. While the bond is active, this wand grants you spellcasting as a ranger of your animist level.
    -
    Multiple sohei wands donít let you exceed your maximum spells per day. Rather, you can use two bond slots to create an empowered sohei wand, which grants you spellcasting as a mystic ranger of your animist level. The mystic ranger is in Dragon #336, page 105.
    -
    There is no benefit to spending three bond slots on sohei wands.

    Increased Manifest Range: At 5th level, your manifested sprite can go up to 50 feet from its shintai object. At level 9 this becomes 100 feet, at level 13 it becomes 500 feet, and at level 17, 1 mile.

    Double Spirit Bond: At level 6 you gain an extra bond slot. You can split your 2 bonds between animal gods, martial bonds, and sohei wands, doubling up if desired.

    Twilight Visitor: You become a privileged visitor to the twilit faerie places where sprites manifest.
    -
    When you are in a sacred place or near a shrine, you can open a door to a spirit hideaway. Rarely is this a literal door; near shrines it may take the form of a ceremonial arch, a bridge, a tunnel, a place where statues flank the path, etc. In a sacred place the door may be a cave entrance, a secret hollow, a bend in the road, a tunnel of bowers, a hole in the ground, a gap in the roots of a tree, etc.
    -
    Within the spirit hideaway, which functions much like a private sanctum spell, creatures are immune to divination, except crystal balls. The veil between it and the physical world can't be breached except by the wholesale destruction of the shrine or sacred place -- simply destroying the doorway is not sufficient -- nor can you be trapped there; there will always be another way out. For example, if the entrance to an underground hideaway is collapsed, you might discover an alternative exit through a mysterious tunnel lit by fairy motes of light. Sending does not pierce the veil, though telepathy does. For game purposes, this space is extradimensional; it's the only such space where spirits dwell and can be bound.
    -
    The appearance of a given hideaway varies, but the common theme is that sprites manifest visibly around you, attending to their own concerns.
    -
    You can stay in the hideaway as long as desired, but disturbing or making a mess of the place is highly taboo. Similarly, entering and exiting frequently can be disruptive. It's also not polite to bring a great many people in, though a group the size of a typical adventuring party (<10) is no issue.

    Animist Magnetism: The time it takes you to attract a sprite is halved. Apply this halving after you roll, and divide result into minutes rather than rounding.

    Warden of Sacred Places: You may attune yourself to particular shrines so that, when your spirits are dismissed or killed, they go to that shrine instead of dissipating. However, the shrine must be suitable for that spirit. For example, you may build a hearth shrine for your fire spirit, or a pool shrine for your water spirit. A spirit that returns to an attuned shrine in this way may be bonded with automatically, taking only 1d10 minutes.
    -
    Instead, you can attune your animal god companion to a shrine that is constructed in their honor. At this shrine they may be resurrected without a spirit stone, and without negative levels, or with a spirit stone and negative levels as normal if one or more dawns have passed since their death. This is the only way to resurrect an animal god if a sunrise has gone by; neither arcane nor divine magic are truly in sync with the great flow, and hence an attempt to resurrect an animal god conventionally will return only a dumb beast of ordinary stats for its kind.
    -
    Similarly, this is the only way to recover a specific sprite, who would otherwise dissipate back into the great flow. While a sprite bound this way is immortal unless its shrine is destroyed, few spirits have the temperament to become the heavy, earthy sprites who live for ages; most become restless and bored after a year, and opt to dissipate back into the flow of spirit.
    -
    For convenience, most high level animists choose to make several shrines for their spirits clustered in a single area.
    -
    While you can maintain any number of attuned shrines, you can only send spirits (or the spirits of slain animal gods) to an attuned shrine 3 times per day. This is overall, not per-spirit.

    Bind Rare Sprites: You can now bind rare sprites, more specialized and correspondingly rarer sprites that grant access to two disciplines. They don't give more maneuvers than a normal sprite, but represent an increase in versatility since you can pick maneuvers and stances from either of their disciplines.
    -
    [Insert Animal God buff to keep them even.]

    Sublime Awe: Gain frightful presence. Details TBA.

    Shrinewalker: You are the spirits' chosen guardian and friend, indeed have become almost akin to one. With just a step, you range between locations, going wherever the spirits of the land are threatened, disappearing when surrounded.
    -
    You gain two benefits. First, when at a major sacred place or shrine, you may teleport to any other major sacred place or shrine, or to anywhere within the one you're at, as a full round action. A major shrine means one that's extensively built up, with a large adjoining temple. A major sacred place means a major landmark with spiritual connotations, like Uluru or Mount Fuji.
    -
    Second, you may return yourself to any major sacred place or shrine that you have visited before and established a spiritual communion with. This works like Word of Recall except that the casting time is 5 minutes (spent meditating) and the target is only you.

    Spirit Swap: Once per day, when using a backup bond, you may have the backup spirit swap places with the currently bound spirit, which then inhabits the backup shintai rather than dissipating.

    Universal Consciousness: Though you have long known it in an abstract sense, you finally comprehend and can utilize the truth: all matter is conscious and animate, permeated by Spirit to the core. [TBA]-
    Last edited by Elves; 2020-05-18 at 12:30 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Animist (TOB ranger) - first draft

    Sprites List

    Spoiler: picture
    Show

    An animist tries to attract a fire sprite to inhabit her weapon.


    Desert Wind - flame sprite. Found near furnaces, ovens, hearths, fires, volcanoes, even especially hot deserts.
    Diamond Mind - tree sprite. Found in any woodland but especially near magical or very ancient trees.
    Iron Heart - metal sprite. Found in forges, mines, ore refineries.
    Tiger Claw - blood sprite. Attracted by blood offerings more than to a specific location, unless that place is a slaughterhouse. In the wild, found around recent carcasses and hunting predators.
    Setting Sun - liminal sprite. Liminal sprites are only present at dawn and dusk.
    Shadow Hand - shadow sprite. Found in darkness.
    Stone Dragon - earth sprite. Found in caves or by digging into the earth.
    White Raven - swarm sprite/herd sprite. Found near large crowds, swarms, or herds of animals.

    AOW Disciplines

    Bloodstained Gutter - rage sprite. Drawn to arguments.
    Coinís Edge - luck sprite. Casinos and competitions are the best place to find them. Otherwise, they appear wherever creatures are being lucky, so the majority of the world counts as neutral ground to them.
    Cosmic Imperator - glow sprite. They abide in bright daylight and are especially prevalent during the golden or magic hour.
    Chthonic Serpent - trickster sprite. Devious and hard to bond with.
    Dancing Leaf - darting sprite. Fast, airy, hummingbird-like sprites present in most natural places.
    Event Horizon - gravity sprite. Another common sprite, they can be found anywhere, but especially love when things fall. Waterfalls, as a place of constant falling, appeal to them for this reason. If you go skydiving you can meet one easily.
    Falling Anvil - laugh sprite. Hopefully these are pretty common.
    Falling Star - sky sprite. These are found throughout the air and carried on the wind.
    Foolís Grip - mushroom sprite.
    Infinite Shore - dream sprite. These can only be encountered while dreaming, and appear in your dream. In lieu of an altar, you go to sleep with certain charms under your head to solicit them. If you trance, you still experience hypnagogic pseudo-dreams in which theyíll manifest, and you make an altar as normal.
    Ocean Soul - water sprite. Running water or large bodies of still water.
    Relentless Dusk - death sprite. Graveyards, corpses, the dying, the very old.
    Twin Spirit - bond sprite. Close relationships of any kind. Glue is the typical offering.
    Venerable Battlefield - god sprite (not bindable without divine ranks). Present where deities have walked and perhaps at their temples.
    Witch Razor - spell sprite. Attracted by arcane magic, and seldom interested in bonding with animists.
    Wyrm's Might - dragon sprite. Found near dragon nests, dragon lairs and dragon graveyards.

    Rare Pokemon:
    Slightly harder to find and require Animist 11.

    Boundary sprite - Setting Sun, Narrow Bridge. Found at places where the border between planes is thin.
    Imperious sprite - Cosmic Imperator, White Raven. Found beside monarchs, emperors, and powerful rulers.
    Love sprite - Twin Spirit, Scarlet Bravura. Attracted by pure love! Yay!
    Martyr sprite - Scarlet Bravura, Infinite Shore. Found by the graves and relics of martyrs and fallen heroes.
    Meteor sprite - Falling Star, Iron Heart. Found by fallen meteors or fragments of them.
    Mountain sprite - Stone Dragon, Iron Heart.
    Pool sprite - Ocean Soul, Diamond Mind. Found by sacred pools.
    Prank sprite - Chthonic Serpent, Falling Anvil.
    Singularity sprite - Event Horizon, Shadow Hand. Found near black holes and spheres of annihilation.

    [More double sprites TBA.]
    Last edited by Elves; 2019-06-14 at 12:30 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Animist (TOB ranger) - first draft

    Feats and PrCs

    To be filled in.


    FEATS

    Rapid Attraction
    You are extremely gifted at attracting spirits.

    Benefit: Time to attract a spirit is automatically the minimum possible roll. This stacks with Animist Magnetism, which then halves it. This applies even without an altar.


    Spirit Shot
    Benefit: You can use a ranged weapon when performing strike maneuvers granted by a shintai bond.

    You cannot use a ranged weapon on any maneuver that specifies entering your opponentís square, being adjacent to them, or grappling them. A ranged disarm makes the opponent's weapon drop to their feet.


    PRESTIGE CLASSES

    Yorimashi
    Your body has become the vessel of a shintai bond.
    Last edited by Elves; 2020-05-18 at 12:32 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Fluff

    Fluff

    Spoiler: image
    Show

    Guided by spirits, an animist can fight with moves they never thought possible

    PLAYING AN ANIMIST

    A more civilized animist is a warden of shrines, in touch with nature, and often a wanderer, visiting various sacred natural sites and getting to know the genius loci of each place.
    -
    A less civilized animist is more of a totemic warrior. They are frighteningly connected to their environment and will defend it to the death against any who seek to defile it or torment its spirits.
    -
    If you want to play your animist as more of a neophyte, they could be someone blessed with a special connection to spirits as a result of personality, prophecy, or circumstance. They may still be coming to terms with this gift. Play up the fact that their sprite is guiding them in combat.

    RACES
    Hengeyokai are commonly animists. They treat animist as a favored class. (Dragon Magazine #318 has a 3.5 update of hengeyokai with 0 LA.)
    -
    There are no known planetouched animists ó not truly of this world, they find it correspondingly harder to connect with its spirits.
    -
    Any environmentally coded race (snow elves, water orcs, and so on) likely have a strong bond to their environment that is conducive to interacting with its sprites and genius loci.
    -
    Among the aquatic races, the most prolific animists are darfellan, who bind blood and water sprites. Merfolk also frequently become animists; most prefer animal gods to spirit bonds.
    -
    Wild elves are highly animistic, and take up this class more commonly than their more refined kin.
    -
    The cold-blooded spirits of the Underdark are sometimes courted by kuo-toa and even drow.
    Last edited by Elves; 2020-05-15 at 11:39 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: The Animist (TOB ranger) - first draft

    Interesting. I see this as sort of a cross of a Sha'ir and a martial initiator. I would suggest paring down the maneuver list

    I would drop Spirit Bond Benefit entirely if I were you, as it has intermediate synergy with actual maneuvers- for example, the benefits beyond Two-Weapon Fighting do not apply to most standard-action maneuvers.

    Ranged Initiator is something I am a bit uncertain about, as it leaves open several classes of interactions- for example, disarm attempts that allow you to take the weapon from the target. It also degrades the significance of ranged-specific disciplines.

    This class using literally every maneuver I think is a mistake, and I would cut it down to the more nature-related disciplines if I were you.

    I... note that the recharge for maneuvers is essentially swift action no downside. Even the Warblade requires you to spend a standard action not initiating maneuvers.

    I also don't see how many bonds you can have active at once.

    Manifested Bonds: Combined with Animal God, this seems like too much summoning for one class.

    Backup Bond animal summoning seems like you're always stuck with 4 negative levels, due to the sunrise requirement. Did you accidentally put two separate limitations in?
    My one piece of homebrew: The Shaman. A Druid replacement with more powerlevel control.
    The bargain bin- malfunctioning, missing, and broken magic items.
    Spirit Barbarian: The Barbarian, with heavy elements from the Shaman. Complete up to level 17.
    The Priest: A cleric reword which ran out of steam. Still a fun prestige class suitable for E6.
    The Coward: Not every hero can fight.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    Besides shaíir you might want to look spiritualist from pathfinder occult adventures. Lot of what you want basicly created there with path of war archtype for weboo fightan magic needs.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Shadow View Post
    Threads are like cats. They go where they want, and never listen to what you want them to do.


  7. - Top - End - #7
    Titan in the Playground
     
    PairO'Dice Lost's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Animist (TOB ranger) - first draft

    I definitely like the concept of an initiator who swaps disciplines on the fly, I don't think I've seen that done before.

    Level 1: Bond With Spirits, Spirit Bond Benefits, Befriend Animal God
    Level 2: Backup Bond x1
    Level 3: Unseen Friends
    Level 4: Sohei Wand
    Level 5: Increased Manifest Range x1
    Level 6: Extra Bond
    Level 7: Backup Bond x2, Twilight Visitor
    Level 8: Animist Magnetism
    Level 9: Increased Manifest Range x2
    Level 10: Warden of Sacred Places
    Level 11: Bind Rare Pokemon
    Level 12: Backup Bond x3, Spontaneous Backup Bond
    Level 13: Increased Manifest Range x3
    Level 14: Sublime Awe
    Level 15: Shrinewalker
    Level 16: Extra Bond
    Level 17: Increased Manifest Range x4, Backup Bond x4
    Level 18: ? TBA
    Level 19: ? TBA
    Level 20: Capstone (TBA) (Bind super awesome Timmy Sprites?)
    The table is a bit muddled at the moment. If you don't mind, I've cleaned it up a little:

    Level Special Sprite Bonds Backup Bonds
    1 Bond With Spirits, Befriend Animal God 1 --
    2 -- 1 1
    3 Unseen Friends 1 1
    4 Sohei Wand 1 1
    5 Increased Manifest Range (50 ft) 1 1
    6 -- 2 1
    7 Twilight Visitor 2 2
    8 Animist Magnetism 2 2
    9 Increased Manifest Range (100 ft)[/td[td]2 2
    10 Warden of Sacred Places 2 2
    11 Bind Rare Pokemon 2 2
    12 Spontaneous Backup Bond 2 3
    13 Increased Manifest Range (500 ft) 2 3
    14 Sublime Awe 2 3
    15 Shrinewalker 2 3
    16 -- 3 3
    17 Increased Manifest Range (1 mi) 3 4
    18 -- 3 4
    19 -- 3 4
    20 Capstone 3 4

    Switching from a shintai bond to a manifest bond is a free action. However, switching from a manifest bond to a shintai bond is a swift action.
    This part of Spirit Bonds is a bit of a problem. Summoning an ally as a free action and refreshing all maneuvers as a swift action are both too fast, the former because being able to plop a creature anywhere as a free action means free flanking, the ability to use your maneuvers on your turn and then drop a blocker at the end, and similar stuff, the latter because it lacks the Crusader's randomness or the Warblade's "must attack or do nothing, can't initiate" clause and so is strictly superior to other recovery mechanisms. And flavor-wise, poofing spirits into and out of existence that quickly is a bit silly.

    I'd suggest requiring a swift action to either manifest or de-manifest a spirit, or a move action to manifest/de-manifest multiple spirits at once. It achieves your goal of making players have to choose carefully between maneuvers and full-attacks-with-spirits, since just manifesting one to refresh maneuvers would be 2 rounds (swift in the first to manifest, swift in the second to refresh) and so players would be encouraged to use maneuvers for a few rounds, switch to the sprite for a few rounds, go back to maneuvers for a few rounds, and so on to start with, and later on to manipulate roughly one bond per round of combat.

    Remember, it takes a swift action to initiate a stance. So it actually costs two swift actions, which is two rounds of no swift action maneuvers. Open to changing however.
    Did you mean to require the animist to be in a stance to manifest/de-manifest spirits? 'Cause it'll often be worth it to forego a stance just to be able to refresh more often.

    While you have a shintai bond active, you gain access to all maneuvers, including stances, in the discipline(s) granted by that sprite. The highest level of maneuver you can use is determined by your animist level, as normal for an initiator. Non-animist classes don't contribute to your initiator level for this purpose.

    While you have a manifest bond active, it takes on a small, medium or large semi-physical form and can [initiate maneuvers somehow]. It has [x stats]. A manifest bond doesnít grant you maneuvers or stances.
    Firstly, there's never a good reason to break the normal IL calculation rules. Multiclass-friendliness is a big selling point of ToB, and if you feel the need to restrict IL so people don't multiclass too much or dip into the class too often, it's the class features that should change, not IL.

    Secondly, this grants waaay too many maneuvers. With a single spirit, the animist will have almost as many maneuvers as a swordsage who focuses on a single discipline (who can barely pick up every last maneuver and stance of that discipline with one or two maneuvers or stances to spare), who can't swap things out for more versatility, and many more maneuvers than a swordsage who focuses on two disciplines; with three Rare Pokemon spirits, you have 6 full disciplines at your disposal, a good 120+ maneuvers and 20+ stances, which is completely ridiculous.

    It only has access to at most a few at a time, though, and the rp stuff around appropriate places to bind spirits is partly so that access to disciplines can be mediated as DM and player agree is balanced. Notice that the more rangery ones are easier to access, like Dancing Leaf which is said to be everywhere.
    The roleplaying requirements are irrelevant as far as number of disciplines is concerned, because while the DM can restrict certain disciplines for power or flavor, even if you have full access to the four weakest and most ranger-y disciplines that's still four entire disciplines, blowing any other martial adept out of the water.

    Here's what I'd suggest: have every spirit give a random assortment of maneuvers, roughly half of those available at a given level (but not necessarily half of each level; some might be skewed toward lower-level maneuvers, some might be skewed higher, some might be more even). That ends up giving the animist roughly a warblade's number of maneuvers and stances when bound to a single-discipline spirit and roughly a swordsage's when bound to a two-discipline spirit, and the randomness (A) gives the animist a reason to seek out different spirits of the same kind, giving the player or DM some nice flavor hooks, and (B) balances out the ability to access so many maneuvers overall.

    Optional suggestion: classify spirits as lesser/medium/greater, such that lesser spirits have more low-level maneuvers and manifest as Small creatures, medium spirits have more mid-level maneuvers and manifest as Medium creatures, and greater spirits have more high-level maneuvers and manifest as Large creatures. That provides even more in the way of choice (does a low-level animist seek out a lesser spirit for more maneuvers he can use but a weaker manifestation, or seek out a greater spirit for a stronger manifestation but fewer usable maneuvers?), but might get somewhat fiddly.

    Level 2: Backup Bond
    You can form a shintai bond with a placeholder object. Typically this is a specially shaped stone, but it can be almost any manmade object that is given ritual preparation. This is not an extra bond slot: the spirit can manifest, but it neither grants you nor can perform maneuvers, and it cannot be swapped for an animal god companion. Instead, you can use a swift action to swap the stored sprite into your weapon. This dismisses any current shintai or manifest bond you have active.
    This shouldn't allow the spirit to manifest without swapping it into your weapon; otherwise, a high-level animist could just have his backup spirits manifested all the time for a bunch of minions, which is both slow to play at the table and better than a lot of minion-master builds considering the spirits stick around indefinitely, can be put back in their items to go into town, etc.

    Level 3: Unseen Friends
    The spirits like you and have let down their walls a little bit. Minor flavor ability TBA.
    I'd give this two benefits:

    1) A Wild Empathy-style ability that affects animals, plants, and fey but requires longer periods of meditation to do so.

    2) Move the ability to create an altar to this level, so 1st- and 2nd-level animists always have to get their spirits from a sacred place or rely on existing altars, and then at 3rd it becomes easier to get spirits in merely appropriate or neutral territory.

    Level 6: Double sprite bond
    You gain an extra bond slot.

    [Should there be a nerf to a second manifested sprite, since it gives you an extra action vs just more options? Or is it expected that at this point you have 1 shintai and 1 manifest/animal god?]
    As long as you make the action changes I suggest above, nerfing multiple sprites shouldn't be necessary, since filling the battlefield with them has a larger impact on your maneuvers.

    Level 7: Twilight Visitor
    Flavor/utility abillity TBA. Involves visiting the twilit places where sprites manifest (like in Hayao Miyazaki movies).
    Once again, I'd give this two perks:

    1) The ability to open a doorway to a spirit hideaway (a rope trick/private sanctum-like extradimensional space where you can hide and rest, but only in a sacred place or near an altar and only after negotiating with the local spirits), sense and use such hideaways created by other animists, and sense and use portals to the Ethereal/Spirit World/equivalent plane.

    2) The ability to create and sanctify shrines or, if you want to make that an option from 1st level, the ability to do so faster and cheaper.

    Level 10: Warden of Sacred Places
    Bonuses TBD - final ability if going base 10/PRC 10.
    A good perk for this one would be the ability to attune to a particular shrine such that (A) when your spirits are dismissed or killed, they go to that altar/shrine instead of dissipating (as long as the location makes sense for that spirit) and you can re-bind with them more easily, and (B) you can resurrect an animal companion at that altar/shrine without a spirit stone, or with a spirit stone if more than one sunrise has passed.

    The former ability encourages you to do things like add a pond to your forest shrine to support your water spirit while the latter one frees up a backup slot for a spirit stone but only if you stay near your shrine, giving a flavor incentive to stay near your shrine and invest time into improving it.

    Level 11: Bind Rare Pokemon
    You can now bind Rare Pokemon, more specialized and correspondingly rarer sprites that grant access to two disciplines at once. Refer to the post below this one.
    This ability is only okay to keep if you go with the random maneuver and lesser/medium/greater spirit suggestions I made. In that case, having 4 sets of maneuvers (6, when you get a 3rd bind slot) isn't too overwhelming since there's no guarantee of getting synergistic maneuvers or even multiple greater spirits at once. Otherwise, 4 full disciplines is far too much.

    Level 18 and 19: TBA
    Maybe nothing needed if capstone is awesome?
    Some options:
    • The ability to, 1/day when a backup spirit is bound, swap the replaced bound spirit into the backup slot instead of releasing it.
    • If you go with the suggested random maneuvers setup, the ability to re-roll maneuvers or choose a subset of them when binding a spirit so you get more of the maneuvers you want.
    • If you go with the suggested Warden of Sacred Places perk, the ability to word of recall back to your attuned shrine at will with a few minutes of meditation.
    • The ability to infuse the manifested form of a spirit into your body for a short time, giving you some good buffs according to the type of spirit (DR/AC and Earth Glide for an earth spirit, for instance) and one free maneuver refresh during the duration, at the cost of dismissing the spirit afterwards.


    Level 20: Capstone
    Bind Uber Special Sprites? Quadruple sprite bond?
    More and better spirits is probably a bad idea; even with randomized and level-skewed maneuvers for each spirit, spending all 3 bonds on Rare Pokemon spirits still gives you more maneuvers than a swordsage at this point.

    The best option here is probably an ability to sense spirits or otherwise have much more control over the spirits you find and how long it takes to find them; it's noticeable, since more control does lead to more power, but it's not a huge power-up because you could have picked up a particular combination of spirits a few levels ago, it just would have taken more time and effort.
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    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    Admittedly, I first had them with only 1 bond, period, which is where "know all in x discipline" came from.

    I changed it because having to choose animal god OR maneuvers is bad.

    So what about doing 2 bonds and doing away with double sprites? (Or giving them at 20th?)

    At that point, it seems like the lower ability to mix and match between disciplines is still a significant disadvantage. And backup bonds become more important. It's also cleaner than M:TG pack maneuver card granting.

    This shouldn't allow the spirit to manifest without swapping it into your weapon
    The idea would be that sprites can't attack normally, can only use maneuvers, but I see what you mean with flank granting. Changed.

    Level 20: Capstone
    If going with random maneuver granting, ability to choose what maneuvers your sprites have access to would be a GREAT capstone. Otherwise, I'm underwhelmed by one that simply obviates RP elements since most people will ignore those anyway.

    ----

    Put in all of your suggestions except the random granting and sprite tiers, for now, til I think of the cleanest way to do it.

    What do you think of 2 bonds and/or no doubles instead?
    Last edited by Elves; 2019-02-28 at 12:42 AM.

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    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    Quote Originally Posted by Elves View Post
    What do you think of 2 bonds and/or no doubles instead?
    If by "instead" you mean do one or both of those but keep access to a whole discipline, nope, still excessive; again, one bond puts you on par with a focused swordsage, so two is too many.

    Hmm. If it's the randomness portion that mostly concerns you, how about this: When you bind with a spirit, you gain one maneuver of your choice from each level you can access; a two-discipline spirit doesn't grant any extra maneuvers, but each maneuver may be from either discipline. Then you gain one maneuver of your choice of any valid level, plus one stance of your choice of any valid level, per discipline (so e.g. a Desert Wind spirit grants 1 DS maneuver and 1 DS stance while a Desert Wind/Iron Heart spirit grants 1 DS maneuver, 1 DS stance, 1 IH maneuver, and 1 IH stance).

    So, numbers-wise:
    • A 1st-level animist can bond with 1 one-discipline spirit. He gets 2 maneuvers (1 1st, 1 floating) and 1 stance, comparable to the warblade as it trades a maneuver known for the ability to manifest spirits.
    • A 6th-level animist can bond with 2 one-discipline spirits. He gets 8 maneuvers (2 1st, 2 2nd, 2 3rd, 2 floating) and 2 stances, between a warblade's 6 and a swordsage's 11 maneuvers and the same as a warblade's 2 stances; still relatively comparable, due to the maneuver-swapping versatility.
    • An 11th-level animist can bond with 2 two-discipline spirits. He gets 16 maneuvers (2 1st, 2 2nd, 2 3rd, 2 4th, 2 5th, 2 6th, 4 floating) and 4 stances, matching a swordsage's maneuvers and stances; still seems fair.
    • A 16th-level animist can bond with 3 two-discipline spirits. He gets 30 maneuvers (3 1st, 3 2nd, 3 3rd, 3 4th, 3 5th, 3 6th, 3 7th, 3 8th, 6 floating) and 6 stances, coming out ahead of a swordsage in both categories. With only 2 bonds, that comes out to 20 and 4, definitely more fair since the extra animist features more than make up for 5 maneuvers and 1 stance.


    So a limited pick like that with no 3rd bond is just about the right number of maneuvers, I think. Alternately, if you don't want to lose the "big upgrade" at 16th, you could give the 3rd bond but say that you can't have more than 2 bonds of the same kind (spirit/animal/wand), encouraging diversification.

    Actually, riffing off that thought...currently there's no reason to bond to 2 sohei wands since they don't stack at all, so what if bonding to 2 sohei wands gave you the Mystic Ranger's casting progression? That, combined with the no-more-than-2-bonds-of-1-type clause, gives you some nice symmetry: you can have 2 "primary" bonds of any of the three types and 1 "secondary" bond of another type to decide whether you want to be more swordsage-y or more caster-y or more minionmancer-y at a given time, or 1 of each to split the difference.
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    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    again, one bond puts you on par with a focused swordsage, so two is too many.
    Do practical swordsages actually go all focused though? I feel like you're underestimating the disadvantage of not being able to mix and match, say a diamond mind counter, a tiger claw strike and a shadow hand stance. Mitigated at higher levels, but at the high price of losing extra attacks. Also, while lower level maneuvers don't become irrelevant, they do on average become less valuable, so that inflates the numbers a bit.


    When you bind with a spirit, you gain one maneuver of your choice from each level you can access; a two-discipline spirit doesn't grant any extra maneuvers, but each maneuver may be from either discipline. Then you gain one maneuver of your choice of any valid level, plus one stance of your choice of any valid level, per discipline (so e.g. a Desert Wind spirit grants 1 DS maneuver and 1 DS stance while a Desert Wind/Iron Heart spirit grants 1 DS maneuver, 1 DS stance, 1 IH maneuver, and 1 IH stance).
    Much better take on double-sprites. Implementing this, though I'm on the verge of making it a fixed allotment of 1 spirit, 1 animal god (choose one or the other until 6th), 1 sohei. No slot switching, no double spirits. That makes it more straightforward, makes the backup slots more impactful, and keeps the same dynamic through all levels of "either you can perform maneuvers or can't".

    The floating maneuver seems just a bit finicky. It also seems like you could just pick standard and immediate action maneuvers, reducing the cost of swift action swapping. Maybe grant 1 strike and 1 non-strike maneuver? But that's still finicky.

    Random granting would be perfect in a videogame, I'd prefer it, it's just too clunky IRL -- Crusader is already pushing it.

    Okay. I'll be back with actual ideas.

    Edit: I guess random granting wouldn't be hugely clunky if it were phrased as "roll a d4/d3/d2 and count down the maneuver list in alphabetical order for the given level". Even accounting for multiple sprites, it at least takes less thought than preparing spells.
    Last edited by Elves; 2019-03-01 at 12:02 AM.

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    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    Quote Originally Posted by Elves View Post
    Do practical swordsages actually go all focused though? I feel like you're underestimating the disadvantage of not being able to mix and match, say a diamond mind counter, a tiger claw strike and a shadow hand stance. Mitigated at higher levels, but at the high price of losing extra attacks. Also, while lower level maneuvers don't become irrelevant, they do on average become less valuable, so that inflates the numbers a bit.
    There's a couple different aspects to this:

    1) I'm making comparisons to swordsage because they get the most maneuvers, but keep in mind that Iron Heart, Devoted Spirit, and White Raven spirits should really be compared to crusaders and warblades because swordsages don't have access to those disciplines, and crusaders and warblades have half the maneuvers. So even getting 20 Iron Heart maneuvers compared to a swordsage's 25 is still beating the warblade by a bunch.

    2) There are plenty of initiators who do want to heavily focus on one discipline--Diamond Mind rewards specialization with its heavy Concentration focus, Tiger Claw is the only TWF discipline so if you're going TWF you'll want a lot of those maneuvers, crusaders have random maneuvers granted so if they want to heal they want to stock up on lots of Devoted Spirit maneuvers, and so forth--so you don't want to make the animist the no-brainer choice for those initiators, since if they get everything they want for free there's no reason to take another initiating class.

    3) Dipping another initiator class for meeting prereqs or grabbing a bunch of extra maneuvers is common--a crusader dipping swordsage to pick up the Diamond Mind save replacers, for instance, or dipping warblade to quickly pick up a bunch of White Raven maneuvers so he can take some high-level White Raven maneuvers with his crusader slots. You don't want to make it so someone going e.g. Diamond Mind+Tiger Claw will always want go animist X/swordsage 1 with a spirit for Diamond Mind and swordsage maneuvers for Tiger Claw because they get more and better maneuvers than going straight swordsage.

    So yes, few characters laser-focus on a single discipline, but giving out a full discipline is still a big problem.

    Much better take on double-sprites. Implementing this, though I'm on the verge of making it a fixed allotment of 1 spirit, 1 animal god (choose one or the other until 6th), 1 sohei. No slot switching, no double spirits. That makes it more straightforward, makes the backup slots more impactful, and keeps the same dynamic through all levels of "either you can perform maneuvers or can't".
    I dunno, I like the ability to go nearly pure initiator with 2 spirits vs. "classic ranger" with god+sohei as the situation warrants, and if the whole purpose of the class is to be "the guy who can try out a bunch of different disciplines" then letting them try out discipline combination before they get the two-discipline spirits is good.

    You could expand things to three-discipline spirits at 11th (moving two-discipline spirits down to 6th) while keeping the same number of maneuvers as the one- and two-discipline varieties, so the animist keeps a similar combo potential to binding multiple spirits but has the all-or-nothing setup that you're looking for since all the maneuvers are from one spirit.

    The floating maneuver seems just a bit finicky. It also seems like you could just pick standard and immediate action maneuvers, reducing the cost of swift action swapping. Maybe grant 1 strike and 1 non-strike maneuver? But that's still finicky.
    The floating maneuver is mostly there so you can double-up on a given level if you can't decide between two options, but really, the exact maneuvers known scheme is arbitrary as long as it keeps numbers down while giving you a good spread.

    Also, remember that using a counter means you can't use a boost the next round, so you can't entirely avoid clashing with swift actions unless you only take strikes, which is a severe tactical handicap.

    Edit: I guess random granting wouldn't be hugely clunky if it were phrased as "roll a d4/d3/d2 and count down the maneuver list in alphabetical order for the given level". Even accounting for multiple sprites, it at least takes less thought than preparing spells.
    Yeah, that's basically what I had in mind, and keep in mind that you only need to choose maneuvers when you bond with spirits in downtime, so it doesn't even require as much tracking as the crusader's granted maneuvers which are rolled at least once per combat.
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    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    I think the concept of infusing spirits into weapons is strong enough to stand on its own. ToB Ranger should just be a Ranger ACF that grants you some maneuvers. I think this class works best viewed as a ToB Wizard-equivalent, able to swap discipline around by binding a different set of sprites each day.

    You should have a table that explains what a sacred place, appropriate environment, and inimical environment look like for each kind of spirit. Probably several entries for each. A fire spirit might view deserts, volcanoes, and forges as sacred places, while a wood spirit would be comfortable in pretty much any kind of forest or in wooden dwellings.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elves View Post
    Level 1: Bond With Spirits
    You can form bonds with spirits. This requires going into slight detail.
    I think you may define "slight" differently from most people. There's a lot of fluff here that you don't need, and you raise a bunch of questions you don't answer.

    In order to bond with a spirit, you first need a vessel to hold it inside of.
    What properties does a vessel need? Does can I have a really big vessel, like a house or a boat? Can I have a vessel that's part of another object, like "the buckle on my belt"? Can my vessel be an animated object or construct? A vessel needs to be "ritually prepared", but that doesn't seem to be defined. How long does the ritual take? How often do I have to repeat the ritual?

    Without a beacon, spirits may still find your ritual vessel appealing so long as it is empty -- but this will happen more rarely and you can't control the type of sprite attracted.
    This seems needlessly screw-over-y for low level players. I don't see why we need the complexity at all really. Why not let people declare what kind of spirit they want, then just bind it (possibly with a Knowledge/Martial Lore/Whatever check in there somewhere)? The concept of "sacred places" and shrines seems cool, but it seems better suited as a way of turning on powerful abilities by letting you commune with spirits than as a restriction for getting your class features to work.

    Furthermore it takes focused meditation to attract a spirit, so multitasking results in a failure rate of 50% - appropriate environment, 75% - neutral environment and 100% - inappropriate environment (failure meaning the time passes and you still havenít found one).
    I see very little benefit to this complexity. Also, you haven't really defined "multitasking". Why not make it work like spell preparation?

    one living in a well-worshipped and well-established shrine is less willing to join you than one in a small, dilapidated roadside shrine. A shrine counts as a ďsacred locationĒ but you may still want to bring an offering to make it warm up to you.
    Is this process supposed to be purely DM fiat, or were you planning to write some rules for persuading spirits and evaluating the effectiveness of various possible offerings?

    (But you can't use this to swap a single bond back and forth in the same turn.)
    Why not? If you want to spend your entire turn to produce no net effect, it seems like a waste of time to stop you.

    While you have a shintai bond active, you gain maneuvers and stances from the discipline(s) granted by that sprite, as detailed in Maneuvers, below.
    In general, when you say "below", you should re-work the formatting so that people don't have to jump around in the text.

    If not a weapon, it doesnít grant you martial maneuvers
    What about improvised weapons? If I stick a spirit into a beer bottle and start beating on people with it, can I grab some maneuvers?

    Level 1: Befriend Animal God
    Level 1: Spirit Bond Benefit
    These just feel like you trying to shoehorn Ranger-ness into a class concept that isn't particularly Ranger-ish.

    You can form a shintai bond with a placeholder object. Typically this is a specially shaped stone, but it can be almost any object that is given ritual preparation. This is not an extra bond slot: the spirit cannot manifest, grant you maneuvers, or be swapped for an animal god companion. Instead, you can use a swift action to shift the stored sprite into your weapon. This dismisses any current shintai or manifest bond you have active.
    I'm not really clear on how big a deal this is supposed to be. If I have a Tiger Claw spirit bound, and a switch to a Stone Dragon backup spirit, can I switch back to the Tiger Claw spirit?

    Finally, you gain spirit empathy. This is identical to the ranger's wild empathy, except that it can also affect plants and fey.
    IIRC, there's a list of things that count as spirits in Complete Arcane. I would probably just cite to that.

    Level 4: Sohei Wand
    I'm on record in the other thread as favoring discipline-based utility powers. If you are going to go with this, you should decide if Animists can become Swords of the Arcane Order.

    You may attune to particular shrines such that, when your spirits are dismissed or killed, they go to that shrine instead of dissipating.
    Based on the rest of the class mechanics, this doesn't seem like a big deal. Spirits are everywhere, if one of them dies I can just go get more.

    Level 11: Bind Rare Pokemon
    Why not just give out more bind slots?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elves View Post
    Ranged Initiator
    No. This is the exact sort of thing that should just be how maneuvers work. If people want to be bow-based martial adepts, let them. No feat tax. It already doesn't work with some maneuvers (the ones that require proximity, as noted), and it requires fighting the fact that "bow" is traditionally a combat style that focuses on making multiple attacks, which has anti-synergy with strikes.

    Rapid Attraction
    Feats that randomly fiddle with class resource management in minor ways mostly make me think you're either aping late-period 3e design by rote or haven't put enough thought into how the class is supposed to work. Just figure out how long you want spirit binding to take.

    Two-Weapon Adept

    This is a fine feat, and it provides a reasonable buff two dual-wielding initiators that points them towards the boosts that are best suited to their combat style.

    Marshal of Animals
    Beastmaster PrC for people who like lots of animal companions.
    Aren't there already like two of those? Why not just make them A) not suck and B) work with Tome of Battle?

  13. - Top - End - #13
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    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    I think the concept of infusing spirits into weapons is strong enough to stand on its own. ToB Ranger should just be a Ranger ACF that grants you some maneuvers. I think this class works best viewed as a ToB Wizard-equivalent, able to swap discipline around by binding a different set of sprites each day.
    It certainly would be a good mechanic for a ToB Wizard-equivalent, compared to the swordsage's ToB Sorcerer-equivalent (or, really, a ToB Cleric, since dealing with spirits has religious overtones and "pick one maneuver per level from two disciplines" is kinda like domains), but it works fine for the ranger too. Rangers are the ones with Favored Terrain, the ability to choose one combat style out of a big list, a focus on fighting in combat with a natural companion, and a spell list consisting largely of weapon buff spells, so "pick up a spirit from this kind of terrain that attaches to your weapon, gives you access to a particular fighting style, and can be manifested into a companion creature" is right up the ranger's alley.

    Actually, an interesting take would be to make a druid-equivalent, a spirit shaman-equivalent, and a ranger-equivalent, all of which share the same spirit-bond mechanic but have different takes on it. The "ranger" would be like this, being able to use multiple spirits at once but breaking bonds when swapping spirits; the "druid" might be able to have a bunch of spirits bound and swap out spirits without dismissing them but would only be able to use one at once and have to shapechange into a certain form to use its maneuvers (similar to the Naityan rakshasa), and the "spirit shaman" might be able to call upon spirits more easily in non-matching environments and change up maneuvers for each spirit.

    I'm not really clear on how big a deal this is supposed to be. If I have a Tiger Claw spirit bound, and a switch to a Stone Dragon backup spirit, can I switch back to the Tiger Claw spirit?
    "Dismisses" means the spirit is no longer bonded to you. You fight with your Tiger Claw spirit for a while with the Stone Dragon spirit in your backup slot, then you swap to the Stone Dragon spirit and the Tiger Claw spirit is dismissed, and if you want to fight with Tiger Claw again you have to go bond another spirit.

    Based on the rest of the class mechanics, this doesn't seem like a big deal. Spirits are everywhere, if one of them dies I can just go get more.
    Not every kind of spirit is everywhere, and binding one outside of a sacred place takes much longer. I suggested that feature so that if you're e.g. adventuring in a bog with Desert Wind and Stone Dragon spirits and they're killed while manifested, you can just go back to that shrine and pick them up in a few minutes where normally bonding with a Stone Dragon spirit in a bog might take hours and bonding with a Desert Wind spirit would be impossible.

    Why not just give out more bind slots?
    Partly because you can't initiate maneuvers while a spirit is manifested and you refresh maneuvers by manifesting and then de-manifesting a spirit, so having one spirit that grants two disciplines provides a tradeoff compared to having two different spirits; partly because having four one-discipline spirits instead of two two-discipline spirits gives you two extra companion creatures when they're manifested, which is a bit too minionmancer-y for a ranger (though it would be great for a ToB druid-equivalent, as noted above).

    No. This is the exact sort of thing that should just be how maneuvers work. If people want to be bow-based martial adepts, let them. No feat tax. It already doesn't work with some maneuvers (the ones that require proximity, as noted), and it requires fighting the fact that "bow" is traditionally a combat style that focuses on making multiple attacks, which has anti-synergy with strikes.
    Before ToB, 3e melee also focused on making multiple attacks, being almost entirely based around full attacks, and ranged combat is deliberately weaker than melee (fewer sources of extra damage, the Dex attack/Str damage split, and so on) because ranged combat has a lot of advantages compared to melee (better ability to attack multiple targets, being out of range of many enemy attacks, easier to be behind cover or otherwise take advantage of favorable terrain, etc.). If you can just Death Mark or Insightful Strike someone from 50 feet away by default, thereby negating a lot of the disadvantages of ranged combat while retaining all the advantages, there's little reason to be a melee initiator. That's why people write up archery-specific ranged disciplines that do their own thing and are to archery what Tiger Claw is to TWF instead of just letting you initiate anything with a bow.
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    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    I think the concept of infusing spirits into weapons is strong enough to stand on its own. ToB Ranger should just be a Ranger ACF that grants you some maneuvers.

    These just feel like you trying to shoehorn Ranger-ness into a class concept that isn't particularly Ranger-ish.
    I think it is quite ranger-ish. The ranger shtick is connection to nature and the environment, and my problem with the preexisting TOB rangers is that they pretty much just take that and tack on ďand you know the Sublime Way.Ē*

    So the point here is to be a different spin on being connected to the environment, but which also leads naturally to having maneuvers. And the Shinto theme fits TOBís pseudo-orientalness. Here was the thought process anyway.

    I think the beast god is important because a lot of people who want to play ranger want that, and it also fits with the theme (see the Princess Mononoke pic at top).

    The TWF and archery parts are, I agree with you, dispensable, but since those are styles you called out as being under-supported by TOB I felt it couldnít hurt to throw in. The non-maneuver-involving combat style feats were kept so that they arenít useless if they use manifest bond.

    *Obviously, the mechanics of the maneuver system could represent anything, and they did just that in 4e, but this project keeps the idea that the system has specific fluff connotations.

    I think you may define "slight" differently from most people.
    Trimming and clarifying fluff. That was half facetious btw.

    Also, like you suggest, adding in more details on sprites.

    The concept of "sacred places" and shrines seems cool, but it seems better suited as a way of turning on powerful abilities by letting you commune with spirits than as a restriction for getting your class features to work.
    I agree this is cool, do you have any more ideas for stuff like this or do you think Twilight Visitor/Warden of Sacred Places is enough?

    Is this process supposed to be purely DM fiat, or were you planning to write some rules for persuading spirits and evaluating the effectiveness of various possible offerings?
    Going to add skill DCs. In the case of major shrines it will be left to fiat, but you can still improve their mood. The check will either be Diplomacy or a new Spirit Lore skill with synergy from Diplomacy and Knowledge (Nature).

    Why not? If you want to spend your entire turn to produce no net effect, it seems like a waste of time to stop you.
    Then you could just use a single strike on repeat (you still have your standard). I donít think that should be possible.

    What about improvised weapons? If I stick a spirit into a beer bottle and start beating on people with it, can I grab some maneuvers?
    Yeah, it would be a function of wielding the object and making an attack with it. Adding note.

    I'm on record in the other thread as favoring discipline-based utility powers. If you are going to go with this, you should decide if Animists can become Swords of the Arcane Order.
    Fluffwise it would be that youíre binding a spell sprite into the wand, so I donít see a problem there.

    The OG rangerís main use is for gish builds so it might be a pity to take that from them. But thereís still wildshape ranger.

    Why not just give out more bind slots?
    More bind slots ≠ more options for the ones you have.

    No. This is the exact sort of thing that should just be how maneuvers work. If people want to be bow-based martial adepts, let them. No feat tax.
    If you can just Death Mark or Insightful Strike someone from 50 feet away by default, thereby negating a lot of the disadvantages of ranged combat while retaining all the advantages, there's little reason to be a melee initiator. That's why people write up archery-specific ranged disciplines that do their own thing and are to archery what Tiger Claw is to TWF instead of just letting you initiate anything with a bow.
    Cosi is right though that foundational stuff should be either in or out; gating it behind a feat doesnít do much and is just prevarication.

    For this reason Iím probably either nerfing that feat to be animist-only, ie only work with maneuvers granted by spirits, or removing it and assuming that archer animists will bind Falling Star (air is everywhere so thatís no problem).

    Feats that randomly fiddle with class resource management in minor ways mostly make me think you're either aping late-period 3e design by rote
    Fair cop. I will say that the intent was for campaigns without a lot of downtime (like a zombie apocalypse or whatever), or where itís simply inconvenient for the animistís stuff to take longer than the casters preparing their spells.

    Aren't there already like two of those? Why not just make them A) not suck and B) work with Tome of Battle?
    Very possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    an interesting take would be to make a druid-equivalent, a spirit shaman-equivalent, and a ranger-equivalent, all of which share the same spirit-bond mechanic but have different takes on it.
    I donít know if the spirit shaman is necessary, but thatís a really good idea for the druid. Desert phoenix form, shadow panther form, etc. Iíve always liked the shapeshift variant from PHB2 and this makes that work. Probably should be an ACF, not new class.

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    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    Quote Originally Posted by Elves View Post
    Cosi is right though that foundational stuff should be either in or out; gating it behind a feat doesnít do much and is just prevarication.
    Initiating at range is hardly "foundational," though. Every single discipline assumes that you can only attack at melee range by default, except for a handful of maneuvers that are inherently ranged and a handful more that let you attack with a bow (which was probably an oversight more than an intentional design decision, really), and the ability to initiate with a thrown weapon is a signature PrC ability you can't pick up until 7th level at the earliest. Going from that to "Sure, yeah, use any maneuver you want with a bow" by default is a huge change.

    Granted, I glossed over the feat section and assumed Two-Weapon Adept and Ranged Initiator were feats with a bunch of prereqs that the ranger was getting early, like the rest of the Combat Style feats. They both should have some sort of prerequisites; initiating at range is a big deal, and an extra attack that doesn't require a full attack is comparable to Snap Kick which doesn't come in 'til 6th level at the earliest.

    I donít know if the spirit shaman is necessary, but thatís a really good idea for the druid. Desert phoenix form, shadow panther form, etc. Iíve always liked the shapeshift variant from PHB2 and this makes that work. Probably should be an ACF, not new class.
    It certainly could be an ACF along the lines of Wild Shape Ranger, but the basic concept enough to support its own class, particularly if you want to mix in druid casting the same way this mixes in ranger casting. I might write one up myself, if you don't mind me riffing on the spirit bond concept.
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    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    Going from that to "Sure, yeah, use any maneuver you want with a bow" by default is a huge change.
    Hence the nerf to animist only. And for animist, the range limitation on spirit manifest distances is supposed to help even it out at low levels.

    (OR, again, it could get erased and archer animists would be forced to bind Falling Star from 1-5.)


    It certainly could be an ACF along the lines of Wild Shape Ranger, but the basic concept enough to support its own class, particularly if you want to mix in druid casting the same way this mixes in ranger casting. I might write one up myself, if you don't mind me riffing on the spirit bond concept.
    Of course go ahead, and I'm sure one you do will require less tinkering. I meant druid ACF btw.

    I'll try and put the bard class up in a more completed state than this one was.

    I guess barbarian could be similar to what you're doing for druid -- get possessed by spirits, basically -- but I don't think there's much need for it. If swordsage can be rogue+monk then warblade can be fighter+barbarian.

    Beyond that, the only thing left be done as far as base classes is ACFs for the PHB ones.
    Last edited by Elves; 2019-03-03 at 05:24 PM.

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    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    Quote Originally Posted by Elves View Post
    Hence the nerf to animist only. And for animist, the range limitation on spirit manifest distances is supposed to help even it out at low levels.

    (OR, again, it could get erased and archer animists would be forced to bind Falling Star from 1-5.)
    Yeah, making those feats class features would work fine, I was more addressing the "don't bother putting it behind a feat" approach. But removing them might be best; it wouldn't really be "forcing" archer animists to bind Falling Star, any more than TWFer animists would be "forced" to bind Tiger Claw.
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    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    Rezzing thread at Morphic tide's request

    Looking back at this class, it clearly needs some work. But it still seems like a more interesting route for a Tome of Battle ranger than the more obvious "huntsman" with typical ranger abilities plus some Tiger Claw maneuvers.


    Quote Originally Posted by Morphic tide View Post
    One thing would be merging Befriend Animal God and Manifest Bond, so there's only one mechanic of using the Bonds for minions to worry about
    One obvious problem with the Animal God ability is that if you just have animal companions and no spirit bonds you completely suck.

    When writing this, I was intending that Animal God would be a more passive, lower-maintenance alternate option. But it doesn't leave you with much if you go all-out. And simply giving the animal companion more special abilities doesn't fix the problem of you personally lacking things to do in combat.


    Possible fixes:
    - you automatically gain the animal companion on top of your spirit bonds. The worry is this makes it too crowded. Also, doesn't synergize with your other abilities, so something would have to be added to make it synergize.
    - eliminate the class feature entirely.
    - while you have an animal god, you gain something to do. Maybe special actions you can perform to empower it, maybe some synergy that enhances your own abilities.
    - either you or your animal god have some initiating ability, and you have some ability to share it with the other.
    - alternately, you retain initiating ability but your recovery mechanism somehow hinges off your animal companion ("it damages foe with an attack, you recover a maneuver...")
    - as you suggest, let the animal god work like a manifested sprite. However, this seems to leave no real distinction between the two class features, suggesting option 2.

    It seems like the major difference between the two class features is that animal god means more stability -- sprites come in and out but animal companion is out all the time. Not sure what the difference would be if both manifested.

    and a way of recovering Sprites when they die in Manifest Bond so you don't need either a rebuild or a fetch quest
    The idea is less fetch quest and more that you might need to make do with whatever sprites are around, even mid dungeon or mid adventure, and get creative about where to find them. Backup bond is intended to ameliorate that but more might be needed especially if the sprites are relatively fragile, which seems like a good idea especially to draw a contrast with the more stable animal companion.

    Also probably important to add more clarification about ubiquity of sprites (you should be able to find a fire sprite at any campfire or oven, stuff like that, so you'll always have some accessible).

    Additionally, the mechanic itself needs to be reformatted to clearly spell out how it acts in terms of Known/Readied, particularly with regards to how often you change which precise Maneuvers you have. Using Spirit Bond/Backup Bond as Known/Readied lets it be "locking" the Maneuvers on each Sprite, so you don't get into weirdness with swapping what Maneuvers you have known on a Swift Action and Adaptive Style can be used to swap the whole set of "active" Sprites.
    Is there a problem with only letting you swap your maneuvers granted by bonds after resting, like a caster, and not letting Adaptive Style work with the feature at all?

    Maybe a limited swapping through a new feat or class feature, but choosing willy nilly doesn't make sense when you don't really have maneuvers known.

    Do need to clarify the known/readied denotations, as well as, I don't think it's mentioned, whether you even need to meet the "maneuvers known" prerequisites of the maneuvers you choose.

    Sohei Wand as spellcasting needs to go. Flat-out Ranger casting is not okay, as Animist is intended access to almost every Discipline, thereby giving it a vast array of utility options already, and is meant to be an alternative to the Ranger, a simply different class that has much the same theme.
    No one plays straight ranger however. SOTAO mystic ranger is stronger than this class will ever be. Maybe remove the ability to double bond soheis for mystic ranger casting?

    Double bonding then becomes an increased degree of prerequisite games, with a single "Wand" getting two Maneuvers of each level, which can be of either Discipline, allowing for essentially full access to the Disciplines.
    Seems like that would be way too many maneuvers to comfortably keep track of however. So yes, as you point out, would need to reduce maneuvers granted.

    Maybe be a Stance for each Sprite, then capping off at five Maneuvers known at level 20, so part of the capstone bonuses is the 5-requirements 9ths (as the Stance counts) off a single Sprite, and therefor the Animal Gods getting them. This makes the Animist much more cleanly compare to other Initiators in total Maneuvers, though the preferable amount for not being completely crazy in versatility with Sohei Wand as a rebuild tool remains four Sprites, for five Stances, twenty six Maneuvers Known, and eleven Maneuvers Readied (assuming the low-level enabler of the floating Stance and Maneuver remains). Almost equal in raw Initiating to Swordsage, but with the special goodies being about switching around regularly and being quite limited on simultaneous Disciplines.
    Having fewer maneuvers granted per spirit bond, but more ability to switch the granted maneuvers around through the day, is an appealing option because it also helps create the combat dynamic where you need to manifest your sprites to refresh your maneuvers. Since 3.5 combats usually last like 4 rounds, you have to run out of maneuvers pretty quick.

    (Maybe you do get animal god automatically and it can use maneuvers too, helping you run out faster. But that becomes an obnoxious amount of minionmancy.)


    If redoing Sohei Wand is necessary, I would just make it a utility choice with about 5 options, such as "swap a maneuver granted by a spirit for another", "heal a manifested sprite", "resurrect a manifest sprite 1/day", "buff your animal god", that kind of thing.

    Can you write out an example of how the text for the version of sohei wand you suggested might look?

    I'm also not sure what you find so overpowered about using it to gain ranger casting -- do you have an example?


    Still have to balance the manifested sprites. For a concept change, they could be extremely fragile but not vanish when they die.

    Possible gimmick: say that when they manifest they have access to all the maneuvers you gain from them, and then when they die or you voluntarily vanish them, they return to you, and you recover all of their maneuvers that they initiated while manifested.
    Last edited by Elves; 2020-05-16 at 11:06 AM.
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    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    Quote Originally Posted by Elves View Post
    One obvious problem with the Animal God ability is that if you just have animal companions and no spirit bonds you completely suck.

    When writing this, I was intending that Animal God would be a more passive, lower-maintenance alternate option. But it doesn't leave you with much if you go all-out. And simply giving the animal companion more special abilities doesn't fix the problem of you lacking options.


    Possible fixes:
    - you automatically gain the animal companion on top of your spirit bonds. The worry is this makes it too crowded. Also, doesn't synergize with your other abilities, so something would have to be added to make it synergize.
    - eliminate the class feature entirely.
    - while you have an animal god, you gain something to do. Maybe special actions you can perform to empower it, maybe some synergy that enhances your own abilities.
    - either you or your animal god have some initiating ability, and you have some ability to share it with the other.
    - alternately, you retain initiating ability but your recovery mechanism somehow hinges off your animal companion ("it damages foe with an attack, you recover a maneuver...")
    - as you suggest, let the animal god work like a manifested sprite. However, this seems to leave no real distinction between the two class features, suggesting option 2.

    It seems like the major difference between the two class features is that animal god means more stability -- sprites come in and out but animal companion is out all the time. Not sure what the difference would be if both manifested.
    My idea was very much merging the two, rather than eliminating one of the two mechanics. Animal Companion with a stat tweak and Initiating, using a known quantity of a statblock with existing support, but allowing you to run your primary feature off the Animal Companion rather than relying on a single point of output. Having the body available automatically, perhaps in implementation of "backup" bonds retaining some passive benefits if the bond types are "locked in" as you get them, is sensible and helps keep the class as "feeling" like it's based on the Ranger, much as Devoted Spirit keeps the Crusader "feeling" like it's based on Paladin. The big divergence between the Animist and Ranger, thematically, seems to center on the Animist generalizing more and more as levels go up, while the Ranger specializes to an increasingly high peak.

    The idea is less fetch quest and more that you might need to make do with whatever sprites are around, even mid dungeon or mid adventure, and get creative about where to find them. Backup bond is intended to ameliorate that but more might be needed especially if the sprites are relatively fragile, which seems like a good idea especially to draw a contrast with the more stable animal companion.

    Also probably important to add more clarification about ubiquity of sprites (you should be able to find a fire sprite at any campfire or oven, stuff like that, so you'll always have some accessible).
    The underlying problem is that if you hunted down a Shadow Hand sprite, then took Shadowcaster levels to enter Umbral Scion, you now have actual class levels dependent on a Sprite you can lose. Meaning if you end up losing that Shadow Hand sprite, you lose a prestige class. The same issue arises for every PRC with specific school requirements. I know you want the class to stand well without PRCs, but the current structure is so horrifically punishing to even trying to use them that it's pointless because you essentially completely lose most of your Animist features because they can't be used without throwing out huge chunks of your Initiating, either as an opportunity cost on Sohei Wand and Animal God or as a risk on Manifest Sprite.

    Is there a problem with only letting you swap your maneuvers granted by bonds after resting, like a caster, and not letting Adaptive Style work with the feature at all?

    Maybe a limited swapping through a new feat or class feature, but choosing willy nilly doesn't make sense when you don't really have maneuvers known.

    Do need to clarify the known/readied denotations, as well as, I don't think it's mentioned, whether you even need to meet the "maneuvers known" prerequisites of the maneuvers you choose.
    The problem centers on interaction with Initiating mechanics outside the class itself. As-is, it literally can't take Initiator PRCs until far later than usual, because it has such extremely low "Known" Maneuvers. Having the "backup bond" count as unreadied Known Maneuvers on the current table gives it six total Maneuvers at IL 3-4, from the two automatic, two from the active Sprite, and two from the Backup Bond. It still ends up usually needing two levels instead of the typical one for Initiating prerequisites on Theurge classes, but this is often going to turn out needed regardless to get the skills sorted out with many of them.

    As for swapping Maneuvers granted by bonds after resting, doing that while allowing Adaptive Style to do a full swap of which bonds are active is why I brought up tracking what Maneuvers the Sprites each grant, so they stay the same regardless of how you're using them.

    No one plays straight ranger however. SOTAO mystic ranger is significantly stronger than this class will ever be. Maybe remove the ability to double bond soheis for mystic ranger casting?
    The issue isn't about power level, it's about overlap. The Sohei Wand makes this almost strictly Ranger+, when it's supposed to be a different class that stands on its own. And if you have to take a Dragon class variant with a unique spell progression that's full-caster-to-10 using a deity and organization specific feat that flat-out gives you the entire Wizard spell access mechanic, list included, as your baseline to compete with to justify it on power level, you're looking at too high an optimization threshold. Because you are talking about something that is seemingly near strictly Wizard superior until level 11, when 6th level spells come into play to actually give the Wizard something big over the "Ranger". Took me over an hour to find what the heck Mystic Ranger even is because the usual repositories don't have all the Dragon stuff on hand.

    The entire point of Sword of the Arcane Order is to replace multiclassing, anyways. If you're using that, you're a Wizard/Ranger, and with Mystic Ranger you've traded out the Animal Companion for even more Wizard to the point of apparently being on-pace for slots until level 11, yet you keep the Base Attack Bonus, skills and Favored Enemy of a Ranger.

    Seems like that would be way too many maneuvers to comfortably keep track of however. So yes, as you point out, would need to reduce maneuvers granted.
    The bigger issue to me is wildly exceeding the Swordsage in total on-hand access, when the class has enormous re-selection abilities on top of that enormous on-hand selection. So it both wildly exceeds the previous best at mass of Maneuvers, and can switch those out to more relevant ones without considerable expense, meaning it's the best in raw Maneuver output in the most problematic sense the Wizard is the best spellcaster. On a per-unit basis it may not be astonishingly extreme, but sheer lunatic breadth causes the game to break down because there's not really any situation that can't be answered.

    Having fewer maneuvers granted per spirit bond, but more ability to switch the granted maneuvers around through the day, is an appealing option because it also helps create the combat dynamic where you need to manifest your sprites to refresh your maneuvers. Since 3.5 combats usually last like 4 rounds, you have to run out of maneuvers pretty quick.

    (Maybe you do get animal god automatically and it can use maneuvers too, helping you run out faster. But that becomes an obnoxious amount of minionmancy.)
    Perhaps the Spirit Stone bond could be used for focusing on the Manifest option, with the permanent Companion being a Bond Benefit? Render the Manifest Bond far less squishy and thus not risk the penalties for outright death as often, but carry that larger pool between encounters so you're not quite as enduring? Making the Benefits passive for having the involved Bond Item active would help with some of the clunk, as you can more easily split your playstyle because you don't need to activate the bond to have its enabling effects up. Something particularly useful to PRC requirements, because if you grabbed a Spirit Stone to qualify for one of the big-time beastmaster PRCs, then you'd end up stuck with the Spirit Stone active or else end up disqualified from your PRC. Similarly, if the benefits for given types of weapon, or even armor, were passives, they could be used as more general prerequisites than the current pair of enabling effects, because they'd stay around to be used for prerequisites.

    If redoing Sohei Wand is necessary, I would just make it a utility choice with about 5 options, such as "swap a maneuver granted by a spirit for another", "heal a manifested sprite", "resurrect a manifest sprite 1/day", "buff your animal god", that kind of thing.

    Can you write out an example of how the text for the version of sohei wand you suggested might look?
    Hmmm... Making it two-handed so it doesn't play nice with TWF workarounds and better fits the shaman-warrior-monk aesthetic, alongside moving the level back to the second active bond to further it as a true utility sink (with fewer bonds, it could be one of the midpoints as part of the ongoing reasons not to enter a PRC):

    ---

    Sohei Staff: At 6th level, an Animist's knowledge of appealing to the sublime spirits of the world around them advances to the extent that they can craft a staff nearly befitting an Alter, easily adjusting its adornments to fit any Sprite they wish bound to it. Once each day, at dawn, dusk, midnight, or noon, the Animist may change the Maneuvers any Sprite bonded to the staff grants, but any Sprite changed in this way must remain bound to the staff until the next such time of day has come and its Maneuvers may only be used with the staff making the requisite actions, though this may be abridged by planar travel or other means of witnessing that time of day sooner.

    The careful attentions to the spiritual qualities of the staff make it so it cannot be wielded as a dedicated weapon, always being treated as a two-handed improvised weapon dealing 1d6 Bludgeoning damage for a Medium creature, but simultaneously allow it to be used as if it were a Discipline Weapon for any Maneuver granted by the Sprite. If the Discipline could grant a Maneuver requiring a ranged attack, the adornments may include a rudimentary form of the weapon demanded, such as a poorly-weighted sling or a weak bow atop it, or be made with a basic degree of balancing and streamlining if a Maneuver calls for a thrown attack. In such a case, it may be crafted to use any single form of ammunition desired, but its base range increment is 15 feet, although it may be thrown six range increments rather than five and its projectiles may travel fifteen increments instead of ten.

    The cost of crafting such a staff will typically be 250 GP with a Craft DC of 25, though Martial Lore and Knowledge (Nature) checks may be used as if they were the relevant Craft skill to make the item or the tools for its creation, or to gather materials as if making Profession checks to earn gold, and any of these checks may use your Wisdom instead of your Intelligence. The adornments specific to each kind of Sprite and necessary characteristics for the Maneuvers that may be granted by it 50 GP in addition to that of the base staff and may be switched with an hour's work if crafted beforehand.

    ---

    The second paragraph is there to explicitly allow it to have the necessary qualities for Maneuvers, so if the Discipline calls for a firearm, it can be that. The range is there so that it has basic, raw distance for any utility effect that needs you to hit a spac, like your idea of Pheonix Feather having teleport-to-projectile effects. Though the end-of-range throws are at a -10 from the distance and end-of-range projectiles are at -28, so it really is overwhelmingly for just raw "can it reach" properties hinging on the projectile landing in a given square.

    The third paragraph, meanwhile, is just for the sake of there being rules to making the staff instead of leaving such to DM skullduggery. DC 25 would take a roll of 11 for a basic 9 ranks, 16 Wis, and +2 Masterwork Tools, and would take four weeks of consecutive successful checks, with another week for each Discipline. Feel free to change the DC and price or even further modify the Crafting rules, possibly use it as a basic part of the Bond mechanic as a post-production Masterwork equivalent in reach of a starting character and a "hook" for some level of item self-sufficiency.

    Insistence on a one-handed Wand could alternatively be made more literal, being the ability to make and use spell completion items despite not being an actual spellcaster, giving the same utility effects, but without being an opportunity cost of its core features or explicitly taking what's supposed to separate it from a core class. Again, my problem isn't about power level, it's about overlap. Why play a Ranger at all if the Animist does everything a Ranger does, and more, and better, unless you stack two extremely powerful answers to the same question?

    Still have to balance the manifested sprites. For a concept change, they could be extremely fragile but not vanish when they die.

    Possible gimmick: say that when they manifest they have access to all the maneuvers you gain from them, and then when they die or you voluntarily vanish them, they return to you, and you recover all of their maneuvers that they initiated while manifested.
    So rather than auto-refresh on the swap, which would essentially make Adaptive Style a baseline feature, have the refresh tied to Manifest Bond or applying the Sprite to the Animal God (possibly rename to Animal Sage just to distance from any Cleric nomenclature) and then using the Maneuver once through that, then recall it to the weapon you're using for the Bond? It's a hefty shuffle, but if each Sprite only has 2-5 Maneuvers, the back-to-back-to-back use of them (self, manifest, self) would be very important to low-level play as a serious Initiator, and the relative efficiency of repeating Maneuvers could very well make up for difficulties of keeping up a Stance with the constant switches.

    ---

    Another thing that comes to mind is possibly having Discipline access more formally tiered in hard crunch, such as having a normally-sized core list of Sprites you can start with, no questions asked, and trivially make the conditions to acquire. Then more expensive conditions, but still available under the normal listing, would be typical and fitting replacements, such as the other Nine Swords not included in the "baseline" and thematic overlaps not quite so closely tied to the base flavor like Narrow Bridge and Twin Spirit. Then get more serious mileage out of the Rare Sprites by having some Disciplines only accessed through them, such as Bloodstained Gutter or Experimental Alchemy being very heavily tied to civilization, and thus being a flavor "bleed", but the effects themselves aren't enormously outside the purview of a Ranger type.

    I'd likely ballpark the cost for from-scratch setup as perhaps 500 GP for "core" Disciplines from materials under the basic goods and services basically needed for any kind of society (firewood, livestock, etc), 2,500 GP for the "expected" Disciplines in stuff expected in serious markets, 10,000 GP for the level 11 rares from materials generally reserved for PCs, such as the one with Dancing Leaf taking a sacrifice of Mithral, and the final bracket of the "at this point, do literally anything you want" being something like 50,000 GP and taking actual magic items or sizable quantities of Adamantine or dragonhide, or similarly "you are a living legend, go kill the terror of a kingdom, or that kingdom's army, for your personal expenses for the month" kinds of substances.

    The thing being that attracting a Sprite is Discipline access, so you're competing with Martial Study to an extent, alongside the usually rather high cost of items that expand access mechanics. To get them in just a few days, wherever you are, as spelled-out options, is something competing with extremely expensive processes. Dark Chaos Feat Shuffle, Psychic Chirurgery, Psychic Reformation, the stuff Sprites let you do are giant piles of XP, mountains of gold, Alignment warps, or limited to extremely high levels, usually several, to do quickly like Sprites offer as an underlying mechanic, and trying to have enough Sprites to do something meaningful with with the Spirit Shaman approach of an undersized amount on-hand just chokes the class out. The offering costs could very well be a mere tenth that of the process of establishing the location, or be a full third (perhaps a tenth for Alter offerings, while a third of it for basically "buying" them out of their Shrine), but spelling out those offering costs further helps with keeping the DM skullduggery options down by having the cost when you actually get to the pre-existing locations for the Sprites be listed.

    One further note is that Shintoism is particularly extreme on the spiritual as something to appease yet not necessarily venerate, with the religious role of the priests being primarily to keep the Kami from going nuts and using their grand power to wreck things, rather than typically being a matter of respecting them for being good people deserving of worship (of course, Amatarasu et al get the worship treatment, but offerings to the near-nameless majority of them are very much the "don't break my things" type, to my understanding). Most historic polytheism is very transactory in nature, rather than being particularly reverent as we tend to view religion today, and this is something D&D hasn't really touched on. Having the Animist focus on this transactory approach of inputting offerings for an output of blessings, rather than worshiping the natural world like some idiosyncratic stew of religion, would certainly help establish it as ultimately a variety of warrior rather than yet another funky Cleric, and justify it being an Initiator rather than a spellcaster as such veneration holds as precedent.

    And the previously-mentioned possibility of keeping the utility casting as crafting shenanigans fits well with that sort of approach. Which could well be in the passive benefits for having the Sohei Staff in your backup slots, so even if you don't really ever have a chance to use it outside reselecting Maneuvers on downtime, setting that bond slot aside lets you use Ranger and/or Druid scrolls, wands, and staves for effects that you can't get Maneuvers for, either because the Discipline in question isn't available via Sprite, you can't afford/reach the Sprite in question, or it's an effect in kind or scale Maneuvers just don't have to begin with.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Feb 2019

    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    First of all, I deleted the ranged/twf feats. That has no connection to this class. It also reduces the threat of making the class seem like ranger+ if sohei casting is kept.

    (Apparently it's actually "gohei wand". These things. My mistake.)

    The tassels that get tied to the wand evoke the idea that, maybe the strips of cloth are scribed with maneuvers or somehow function as charges. IDK.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morphic tide View Post
    applying the Sprite to the Animal God
    That's not a bad idea for giving the animal initiating capacity -- you can infuse a sprite in your animal companion, giving it initiating. Probably that's in addition to the ability to manifest the sprite as its own little minion.

    Maybe with the combat style gone it should be sprites + companion as default. This is a somewhat miniony class and that gives you 1 big pet and multiple smaller, more transient pets.

    Alternately, if melding the two features, some sort of size progression could be baked into the manifest sprites.


    Once again I'm leaving this preliminary reply and will respond in more depth when I have a minute to think about it.
    The Age of Warriors (revived 2019) - Huge fanmade TOB sequel. Content needs PEACH and input.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    May 2013

    Default Re: The Animist (new take on TOB ranger)

    Bit of a thought on Manifest Bond vs. Animal God, but what about having the Manifest Bond use Familiar rules? It's actually rather close for many statistics, with the overall curve difference being a progression difference of only 0.75 HP+1/6th Con per level in the Animal Companion's favor, but the Animal Companion rules use the separate usually-melee-oriented statistics in totality that's extremely scarcely below 14 Con while the Familiar is simply half the Master's health, and the Animist needs at least two other ability scores and gets all the tricks an Initiator could have to mitigate need to actually bother boosting Con.

    Where the Familiar gets .75 BAB every level, the Animal Companion gets an increase of 2 per three levels, for a loss of 1/12th of a point of attack bonus each level on better attacks on a creature very likely possessing a better initial Strength. And with AC, on top of the gap in baseline statistics, the Animal Companion gets +2 NA each 3 levels and +1 Dex, for a per-level average of 0.8333 AC where the Familiar rules offer nothing. Evasion at 3rd level, Multiattack at 9th, Improved Evasion at 15th. Plenty of advantages to Animal Companion rules, between the better baseline and the smallness of the statistic losses to go with the defensive edge.

    Another thought for the Companion getting independent Initiating is codifying the intended changes for doing so into a template like Phrenic Creature to give it Initiating that can tie into Animal Companion safely, counting for a "tier" of Druid level -3 improvement if you decide to take the template over the default Animal Companion progression numbers to make lower-level Companions properly compete with the higher-level replacements. This use would probably mean giving it full BAB alongside the hit-dice-based Initiating ability, and likely a bump to Constitution and Wisdom. It also doubles as giving the Animist an option to buy into a bit more Initiating to deal with the flaws of the Sprite access mechanic by having some more that's permanently "on-hand", and Sublime Ranger (or at least the Animal Companion version if splitting it into trade-for-better AFCs) could mandate it once available, locking it to never having a better base Companion than the original Ranger but keep up with Druid through the template's benefits.

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