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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Within the confines of the existing core mechanics of the subsystem and the three class's themes, what would be the most reasonable emergence of Incarnum being Tier One capable like Vancian casting and Psionics, in the context of 3.5's design standards? Keeping Chakra unlocks and per-receptacle Essentia limits where they are, "tier" wise, as well as Essentia investment remaining stated per-point values rather than breaking out tables, but what you're doing with that being unbounded within the limits of what other classes can do by the same level on the relevant resource schedules.

    For instance, passive investiture being no better than at-wills, dailies being no better than spells, encounter or similar timeframe effects being no better than Tome of Battle. Do note Meldshaper level exists, so Xd6 pie-plates of Mook-B-Gone, if deemed a necessary function, can be done without Psionic-like scaling investment. Of course, making Essentia itself the daily rendering the spell-alike functionality like a chunkier Manifesting is fine if you think that'd go well in practice.

    I find this an interesting question because Incarnum has some of the best capacity for going Tier One of the "weird" subsystems on the back of not having locked-in choices, it enjoys the Cleric style of preparation where you just pick your toolbox from everything printed. But then 3.5's design doesn't really do dramatic problem-solver abilities outside spell-alike frameworks of daily uses. Tier One sounds impossible with the caveat of working the same way as printed and sticking to 3.5 design trends.

    But that's why I think it's worth a thread. Just how far do at-wills go in 3.5? Just how trivially do you have to solve problems to be Tier One? Going by Artificer, triviality isn't actually an in-play concern. Needing to pick an exact full suite of your Soulmelds for 80% of Tier One tasks wouldn't disqualify because the Artificer has to plan out multiple sessions in advance for an enormous amount of problems, and we specifically consider Druid and Cleric Tier One because they could prepare a near-perfect answer to the vast majority of problems.

    The two big things are working out the use of secondary resource constraints, like Essentia expense alongside unbinding and unshaping Soulmelds, as well as careful minimization of redundancy. The former allows more powerful abilities within the subsystem, vital to really allow major abilities like long-range transportation and other major answers at appropriate levels, while the latter is important to actually have the abilities in question within the "one book and done" situation.

    So, what would you think in terms of specifics?

    Personally, my own favorite sub-challenge would be keeping Soulborn as having a Paladin-type "half-progression starting at 4th" on its class table, yet manage to be Tier One anyways. By all normal optimization sense, this should be impossible. But then we've free reign to mess with Soulmelds and Feats and Class Features in this hypothetical, with the bound being not strictly overpowering anyone else's level-appropriate options. So between the usual "better effects for weaker progression" thing and the ready ability to turn your feats into your missing progression, including accessing effects on the full progression timing... Well, there's room to pull it off in that case!

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Artificer is frankly an awful benchmark that doesn't really belong in tier 1, except insofar as getting double WBL would raise you from tier 4 to tier 1 by itself. Which, I mean, isn't completely wrong, but by that standard getting full WBL in the first place probably should've already put you in tier 1.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Well tier ones can do anything so switching out your souldmelds at will instead of having them locked in for the day would be a good start. Also being able to break your essentia out of incarnum feat jail as part of the swift action essentia allocation rather than locking them up for 24 hours. That would particularly help the soul born, who gets incarnum bonus feats.

    Speaking of bonus feats, maybe give out double chakra bonus feats liberally too, for greater versatility.
    Last edited by Particle_Man; 2021-07-24 at 11:39 PM.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Maybe I'm not getting what OP is asking, but this doesn't really seem like an interesting question to me. Getting Incarnum to T1 is pretty much a matter of taking spells and stapling them onto soulmelds. Like you have a Cerulean Sleep Crown that gives you an at-will sleep that scales the HD cap with Essentia, and that's an AoE SoD effect that can play with the big boys for most of the game. Or your Azure Bracers of Interplanar Alignment allow you to summon monster at a level based on your Essentia investment, and if bound you get a planar binding type effect.

    Basically, I don't think this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Morphic tide View Post
    Just how far do at-wills go in 3.5?
    Is actually a meaningful thing to ask. At-wills go as far as you let them go, unless you mean "keeping with the standards 3.5 sets", in which case the answer is trivial in the opposite direction.

    Having your abilities at-will is strictly better than having them on any other resource management system. The reason the classes that are T1 are on top isn't because Vancian Spellcasting or Spell Points are the most powerful resource management systems you can have, it's because those classes get abilities that are very good, and because they get much broader access to those abilities than other classes do. The Sorcerer's spellcasting mechanic of "cast any spell you know whenever you want" is, in reality, much better than the Wizard's "guess which spells you think you'll need each morning". It's just that when the Sorcerer is getting his first 5th level spell, the Wizard is getting his fourth, and that's without taking advantage of any of the ways Wizards have to learn more spells.

    I find this an interesting question because Incarnum has some of the best capacity for going Tier One of the "weird" subsystems on the back of not having locked-in choices
    I don't think this is true either. The Binder is almost exactly a Cleric, just with weird resource management. If Vestiges happened to make you very good, instead of "kind of okay", the Binder would easily be competitive with the Wizard or the Druid. That's practically the exact same thing that would have to happen for the Incarnate or Totemist to be competitive with them. The Shadowcaster is basically a Wizard that has a weirder resource management setup and a more limited spell list (the Shadowcaster is seriously uninspired for a Shadow Mage -- take a look at the crap people pull with Night in A Practical Guide to Evil and tell me that you can't hit T1 just off shadow magic).

    Frankly, I think any class gets to T1 if you write them abilities that are powerful enough. It's true that all the existing T1s have a high degree of flexibility, but that's a contingent result of 3e making the most powerful classes also the most flexible. It's easy for me to imagine an alternate timeline where Skip hated Wizards instead of Sorcerers, and they were the ones with less spells known, less class features, slower spellcasting progression, and worse magic. And in that timeline I think it's pretty easy for the Sorcerer to come out on top, even though he'd still be stuck with the same spells every day.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Essentia needs to either scale better or have a psycarnum infusion type of trick where you can get more/infinite. I would start by doubling incarnate essentia, triple totemist, and like x5 soulborn. Make extra essentia grant 2x the number of times you take it without limit. Have more/easier access to increased capacity. Binds needs to unlock a LOT earlier, like soul no later than 10 for anyone.

    You should always have enough essentia to fill to the brim all shaped veils, and be able to to fill extra stuff such as feats or race or class abilities as well. At least as an incarnate. Mayhaps not 100% for the non meld/non combat options but enough that its worth. You could potentially just make all melds scale perfectly to their max for the class, so when your capacity is say 3 all your melds have effectively 3 essentia all the time. At least all combat relative ones. Essentia needs to not be trapped as well in stuff. Eliminate all alignment restrictions on melds. A good incarnate should be able to spit acid if he wants no problem.

    Binds and magic items fully function without interfering with one another. An attacking maneuver does not somehow eliminate your weapon, why should a hand meld mess with magic gauntlets?

    Incarnate to 3/4 bab and d8 HD, they are pseudo gishy so why hurt them when they kind of want to mix it up a fair bit.

    Reshaping everything and redoing feat investement etc. should be something like once per every X levels a day. 2/3/4 incarnate totemist soulborn. Bonus incarnum feats at simar intervals.

    Melds need to have better scaling benefits for higher binds. Something like teleport self 10 ft hands, self or ally 30ft. wrists, dimension door that can act after shoulders, teleport heart, greater teleport soul. No 1x a day. Shadow hand stuff for the more tactical range is like every other round, so effectively at will. Maybe 1or 3x a day greater teleport, 3x or 5x regular, etc.

    DSP's vizier class from pf1e is a much better incarnate, capturing the more casteryish feel and having more options that resemble tier 1 stuff, though its generally tier 2 iirc. The way they do their melds works better, with most say attacking melds taking the hand or wrist, most mental melds taking head, etc.

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    NecromancerGirl

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Take the zombie meld and allow it to make additional zombies per essential invested, additional undead types for soul or heart binds.

    Incarnate avatar could do a summon monster effect or grant SLA based on represented creature- blue salad, nycaloth astral deva or marut, soul spark familiar could be buffed to be an outsider with HD equal to meldshaper level with abilities based on where it's bound.

    Lucky Dice also gives a reroll 1/round
    Last edited by Lans; 2021-07-24 at 11:45 PM.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Making spell equivalents so you are wizard or cleric but blue soul like is the easiest obv. Hit the caster benchmarks, flight at 5, good shape change at 7, teleport and planar travel at 9, add incarnum summons like the astral construct line starting at 1 etc.

    Sadly natural attacks and damage (totemist) and really high skills (incarnate), which is a LOT of both those classes, just is not enough.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Incarnate Weapon also gives magical weapon special abilities equal to essentulia invested, fellmist robe makes fog effect. Cerulean Sandals make te speed increase 10 +10 per essentia, change the total teleport to 10*(meldshaper level cubed). So at 4th a total of 640 feet, 80000 feet at 20th.

    Bluesteel Bracers gives enhancement bonus to armor, as well as armor special abilities equal to invested essentia.

    Riding Bracers gives ridden creature special mount abilities similar to paladin.

    Lifebond vestments give the dragon shamans touch of vitality ability based off wisdom

    Lightning Gauntlets arcs out damaging a chain of enemies no more than 10 feet further from closest also damaged creature, they must make a save vs being stunned
    Last edited by Lans; 2021-07-25 at 12:30 AM.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Particle_Man View Post
    Well tier ones can do anything
    Counterpoint: CoDzilla. The entire premise behind putting them in t1 is that they are never "locked out" of their much more modest answers and bundle of harm-removal, as well as kinda lunatic efficiency at dealing with combat. And also Artificer literally taking multiple days to prepare for a whole lot of things. Tier One's definition is how many things a given character could do, not how much they have on hand.

    Also being able to break your essentia out of incarnum feat jail as part of the swift action essentia allocation rather than locking them up for 24 hours. That would particularly help the soul born, who gets incarnum bonus feats.
    Maybe just as a Soulborn thing, because it otherwise adds a bit much complexity for pure feat access. Or as a thing tied to being able to Shape Soulmelds, so it's opened by actually particularly caring about the issue.

    Speaking of bonus feats, maybe give out double chakra bonus feats liberally too, for greater versatility.
    I was actually thinking having Soulborn get floating bonus feats as part of managing it despite a "gutted" Incarnum progression, basically using feats to bludgeon the progression back in shape.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Maybe I'm not getting what OP is asking, but this doesn't really seem like an interesting question to me. Getting Incarnum to T1 is pretty much a matter of taking spells and stapling them onto soulmelds. Like you have a Cerulean Sleep Crown that gives you an at-will sleep that scales the HD cap with Essentia, and that's an AoE SoD effect that can play with the big boys for most of the game. Or your Azure Bracers of Interplanar Alignment allow you to summon monster at a level based on your Essentia investment, and if bound you get a planar binding type effect.
    {scrubbed}

    Basically, I don't think this:

    Is actually a meaningful thing to ask. At-wills go as far as you let them go, unless you mean "keeping with the standards 3.5 sets", in which case the answer is trivial in the opposite direction.
    ...Are you seriously going to just ignore Warlock's pile of spell-like Invocations without useage restrictions? Incarnum as already printed? Yes, they're not as campaign-buggering as high-level spells, but they are not remotely pathetic space . It's the "mundanes" that are screwed out of any real versatility, not the at-will resource schedule. And the extremely vast majority of spells are just bigger numbers than at-will abilities, especially once you're counting Invocations since those are very specifically designed as at-will spell-likes.

    Am I incorrect in recalling the benchmark for t1 being the capacity to answer all problems with one build? Because a Spell to Power Erudite is specifically made to be incapable of answering every kind of issue in one day, yet was originally specifically deemed eligible for t1 when most other forms of Psion weren't, entirely on the basis of having a lot more of the "iconic" carte-blanch answers courtesy of getting to use the Wizard list.

    And yet when you drop into a game with the realities of play, the gap between Wizard and Psion has far more to do with the spellbook and far larger pile of feats and PRCs, not spell selection, because Psionics does a remarkably good job filling the t1 needs in a single book without totally open-ended answers. There's basically just Wish-alikes and Metamorphic Transfer for that, otherwise it's on the fact that the vast majority of it comes down to like a dozen distinct effects that screw with plots while being able to handle just about every kind of fight. And an Egoist or Nomad can pretty much do that, thanks to Expanded Knowledge allowing the looting of one or two missing major answers from another specialist Psion, or even another Psionic class.

    Quote Originally Posted by Efrate View Post
    You should always have enough essentia to fill to the brim all shaped veils
    Why's that required? It's all of a Swift Action to shift the Essentia around, you only need enough to fill the set needed to answer a problem to the point of managing that answer. Because you can switch it around instantly, all but mid-action. Just make the individual Soulmelds enough stronger that you don't feel particularly pressed in that fashion because you can get all your combat numbers in an actively good place with room for utility left over.

    Binds and magic items fully function without interfering with one another.
    Pre-existing core rule, with feat workarounds, and can be made class feature workarounds more befitting their themes. It isn't actually crippling, particularly when you're specifically eying wide-ranging problem solving in the Soulmeld abilities. And, of course, one can have an inversion where you can run the Soulmeld off the item, where its GP value is translated into Essentia while it's suppressed.

    Incarnate to 3/4 bab and d8 HD, they are pseudo gishy so why hurt them when they kind of want to mix it up a fair bit.
    Alternative: De-gish them for variety, because Totemist and Soulborn are also melee. I'm not asking full-bore TO extravaganza competition here, I'm talking meeting the benchmarks for t1 when talking theoreticals but not actually stepping outside existing bounds of each resource usage method. The sort of theoretical capacity that has the days-to-months preparation Artificer be there.

    Melds need to have better scaling benefits for higher binds.
    Definitely agreed that they need better effects at higher levels, but I'd greatly prefer keeping the oddly "scattered" effects. Never have the "same thing but better" Bind like Pegasus Mantle or Soulspark Familiar, always do something different.

    No 1x a day.
    Wizard starts at 1/day for each spell level, and daily restrictions are kinda necessary to preserve "playability" of 3.5. Though I'd mentioned use of Essentia expense, unbinding, and unshaping as alternative costs specifically to have resource variance so that it isn't artificially imposed in the Soulmeld description as an awkward "catch", but instead pointing at another entirely-sensible rule confining the usage frequency. So rather than being awkwardly spelled out as 1/day, those extreme burst outputs like long-range teleportation use up Essentia or unshape the Soulmeld, to be recovered the next day.

    Again, remember Artificer's placement, the tiers are a categorization of theoretical build capacity vastly more than on-hand in-the-field options.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lans View Post
    Take the zombie meld and allow it to make additional zombies per essential invested, additional undead types for soul or heart binds.
    I mean if we're talking more options out of Necrocarnum, it's not a stretch at all to have full ability retention reanimation.

    The line between Incarnum reanimation and Necrocarnum enslavement is a rather fine one, in the underlying fluff. Because if you can grab the soul to put it back in the body, what's to stop you from twisting it beforehand to bind to service?

    Incarnate avatar could do a summon monster effect or grant SLA based on represented creature- blue salad, nycaloth astral deva or marut, soul spark familiar could be buffed to be an outsider with HD equal to meldshaper level with abilities based on where it's bound.
    The Incarnate having literal Outsider summoning and the Totemist some variety of open-ended SLA looting are both well fitting with their themes, and are major sources of problem-solving for all Psionics shows us we could perfectly well manage it single-book without needing to use such measures.

    Quote Originally Posted by Efrate View Post
    Making spell equivalents so you are wizard or cleric but blue soul like is the easiest obv. Hit the caster benchmarks, flight at 5, good shape change at 7, teleport and planar travel at 9, add incarnum summons like the astral construct line starting at 1 etc.
    In this case, these Big Utility Pushes where you actually need the burst output only seen in top-level spells should be daily expenses, just as they are with casters. Is it better to unshape the meld, unbind it, or burn the Essentia involved? Probably the last since it reduces simultaneity of answers and eventually scale, rather than raw variety of problem-solving as appears the dominant t1 distinction.

    However, note when the Warlock or Binder or the ToB classes get things like this, and where t1 options don't really do such things themselves. Cleric runs on self-buffs, not shapeshifting, for example, and Druid's strategic mobility is just barely there, while Wizard is to my knowledge literally required to use summons for any serious healing or condition removal.

    Sadly natural attacks and damage (totemist) and really high skills (incarnate), which is a LOT of both those classes, just is not enough.
    Big Think: Give Totemist baseline Natural Weapons, then the pile of Totem effects currently granting instead give other, more significant, properties modifying combat capabilities. That way you end up not truly needing more Soulmelds chosen for combat past 5th level (so perhaps two or three shaped atop the Totem bind), for all you might be able to go Full Blender for a day just to see what being an Ubercharger feels like, and in-between allows a nice breeze instead of just meeting basic technical competencies to engage in the WotC approved slugging match.
    Last edited by truemane; 2021-07-31 at 03:25 PM. Reason: Scrubbed

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Artificer can whip out spell effects as needed on-the-fly via infusions, and can get longer-term items capable of basically anything if they've got the downtime and resources to make them. Artificer is fairly versatile in regular play, and when they get that downtime the wealth advantage they give themselves or their party members can be quite significant even at low levels. Even with no custom items or cost shenanigans and "only" double WBL, that's a lot of extra item power. That's enough for you to get your basic numbers to useful levels, while still having plenty of money left over for scrolls and wands and smaller buff spells that are still highly effective. Combined with using infusions for bigger buffs, even a relatively low-op artificer can still be a force to be reckoned with.


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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    You know, at first I kind of scoffed at the idea. Tier 1 incarnum? WITHOUT changing any of the design principles behind it? Incarnum has always interested me, but there's just so little room for exploitation. The bonuses gained from investing essentia are always linear, the cap on essentia investment is so low with so few ways to improve it. But, thinking on it more, having access to magical abilities and being able to change your loadout every day is prime real estate for T1 nonsense.

    If a character is asked "Can you solve this level appropriate problem?" the answer needs to be "Yes*" for them to be Tier 1. It's fine if there's a little footnote reading "*Tomorrow". So, in order to answer your question, we would have to ask first "What problems does a T1 character need to be able to solve?" That's a long list, but the broader our solutions the fewer answers we need to cover for larger amounts of problems.

    Probably the most prevalent problem across D&D's history is "I want that thing to be dead before it makes me dead". Being such a common problem, a wide variety of methods have been developed to solve it. Our T1 incarnum class is probably going to want a couple of them. Direct damage could be made viable without too many changes. Either alter Soulspark Familiar or make a feat so that Share Soulmeld works with it. At the cost of possibly just a single feat and all your daily resources, dissolving spittle would get 2 touch attacks at 2d6 acid damage each at level 1. Just by using more daily resources, this scales up to 2 touch attacks at 4d6+3 (average 17) damage each at level 6. Looking at a few random CR 6 foes, the annis, chain Devil, and girallon all go down in an average of about 4 hits, easily possible in 2 turns solo. A young blue dragon takes an average of 6 hits, which means that, if the rest of the party is keeping up with your damage, it would have to get lucky on some rolls to survive the end of the first round. It starts to fall behind in damage after that point, but if you add on sighting gloves, that should carry your damage output until you hit level 9, where you could slot in another change, a shoulder bind to be able to full attack with your dissolving spittle. With just those changes, at level 20 you're easily looking at 4 attacks (2 from Bab, 1 from Haste, 1 from Rapidshot) with an additional 2 from your Soulspark familiar (until it gets killed), hitting for 7d6+7 (average 31.5) damage both at the time of the hit, then again the following round. You're level 20, why not compare this to the Tarrasque? At 6 hits a round, you're doing an average of 189 dpr the first round, then double that on each following round. Big T regenerates 40 per round, so doing this solo (assuming some kind of defense so you don't get eaten the first round) it would take about 3 rounds to get it unconscious. It's no ubercharger, but it gets the job done.

    But then, that brings up a relevant point. Uberchargers are not Tier 1. Just doing damage isn't enough. You would need to add melds and binds for buffing, debuffing, and improved minionmancy. Open-ended stuff like polymorph and planar binding effects that let you cherry pick through monster statblocks to grab any abilities you don't get natively. You need some "just win" options equivalent to stuff like Knock and Glibness that completely bypass non-combat encounters, and equivalents to Freedom of Movement, Mind Blank, and Death Ward that give you flat out immunity. You need flight, tactical and strategic teleportation (including between planes), you could use some mind control. Divinations are always useful. You don't need these exact effects or copy-pasted spell descriptions for most of these, just options in the same vein.

    Overall, I'd say that, yeah, with enough extra support Incarnates and Totemists could be Tier 1, just like Wizards and Druids are. What's that? Soulborn? Look here, buddy, I'm not some kind of miracle worker. I have no idea what it would even take to make a half caster Tier 1 without making some serious changes to design philosophy, much less a half meldshaper. You're on your own for that one.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Particle_Man View Post
    Well tier ones can do anything so switching out your souldmelds at will instead of having them locked in for the day would be a good start.
    How is that remotely necessary? The ability to pick new soulmelds every day is already exactly analogous to the ability to pick new spells every day, which is how the Wizard, Druid, Cleric, Archivist, and Erudite all work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Efrate View Post
    Essentia needs to either scale better or have a psycarnum infusion type of trick where you can get more/infinite. I would start by doubling incarnate essentia, triple totemist, and like x5 soulborn. Make extra essentia grant 2x the number of times you take it without limit. Have more/easier access to increased capacity. Binds needs to unlock a LOT earlier, like soul no later than 10 for anyone.
    I don't think that follows. You don't need to change the amount of essentia people get to make soulmelds scale better. You just need to give better scaling per essentia. Similarly, you don't need to move the chakra unlocks forward, you just need to make the earlier chakras unlock stuff people care about. Indeed, you don't want to move them forward, because you need something to unlock whatever the Incarnate's answer to 9th level spells is going to be, and I'm skeptical that just "scaling up your 1st level spells more" is ever going to do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morphic tide View Post
    ...Are you seriously going to just ignore Warlock's pile of spell-like Invocations without useage restrictions?
    Which makes them T3. There's not a single T2 or higher class whose primary abilities are at-will, so if you want to maintain the existing constraints the system puts on what at-will abilities can do, you can't go higher than T3. The question you're asking is just not as interesting as you seem to believe. Either we're constrained by what existing at-will abilities can do (and at the end of the line, that's "be in T3") or we aren't (and can simply write whatever abilities are necessary to be in T1). And I didn't ignore the Warlock's SLAs, I proposed the exact same thing for the Incarnate, but apparently that's not an acceptable solution.

    Am I incorrect in recalling the benchmark for t1 being the capacity to answer all problems with one build?
    The benchmark for T1 is "more powerful than any T2". It happens that all the classes that do that do so by having any extremely high level of versatility, but claiming that's fundamental to the definition is confusing a contingent truth for a fundamental one.

    Wizard starts at 1/day for each spell level, and daily restrictions are kinda necessary to preserve "playability" of 3.5.
    Daily restrictions are necessary for strategic abilities like fabricate and teleport, because the ability to do those things at-will has a dramatically different effect on the setting and the story than the ability to do them a few times a day. But combat abilities don't need daily caps at all. Past very low levels (either character or optimization), Wizards are constrained by the number of combat actions they have rather than the number of spell slots they have for fireball or stinking cloud or finger of death. If they weren't, celerity would be a garbage spell.

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarVecna View Post
    Artificer can whip out spell effects as needed on-the-fly via infusions
    That's pretty limited though. The Infusions list is quite short, and while spell-storing item lets you get around that a bit, it's limited in its own right. A character who just got Infusions as their ability set would be maybe T3.
    Last edited by RandomPeasant; 2021-07-25 at 06:52 AM.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    How

    Which makes them T3. There's not a single T2 or higher class whose primary abilities are at-will, so if you want to maintain the existing constraints the system puts on what at-will abilities can do, you can't go higher than T3. The question you're asking is just not as interesting as you seem to believe. Either we're constrained by what existing at-will abilities can do (and at the end of the line, that's "be in T3") or we aren't (and can simply write whatever abilities are necessary to be in T1). And I didn't ignore the Warlock's SLAs, I proposed the exact same thing for the Incarnate, but apparently that's not an acceptable solution.



    That's pretty limited though. The Infusions list is quite short, and while spell-storing item lets you get around that a bit, it's limited in its own right. A character who just got Infusions as their ability set would be maybe T3.
    The Binder is considered T2 on it's at will Summon Monster


    Spell storing item by itself makes artificer T1 for the first 8 levels

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lans View Post
    The Binder is considered T2 on it's at will Summon Monster
    I always felt like that was a bit of a bogus assessment. It's like having a separate ranking for Sorcerer With Planar Binding and calling that T1. Every class can be optimized up (or down), the Summon Monster vestige isn't really a uniquely large power spike.

    Spell storing item by itself makes artificer T1 for the first 8 levels
    Not really. The UMD check is not trivial to make at low levels. It takes significant investment to get even a +10 bonus as a 1st level character (including high CHA and Skill Focus, neither of which you want long term), and even if you pull out a +15 bonus you're still failing your check to store a 1st level spell about 35% of the time. Which makes you a bit like a Wizard walking around in full plate, which is not remotely a T1 character. Eventually you can make yourself a +UMD item and stop worrying, but that doesn't happen immediately.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    I always felt like that was a bit of a bogus assessment. It's like having a separate ranking for Sorcerer With Planar Binding and calling that T1. Every class can be optimized up (or down), the Summon Monster vestige isn't really a uniquely large power spike.



    Not really. The UMD check is not trivial to make at low levels. It takes significant investment to get even a +10 bonus as a 1st level character (including high CHA and Skill Focus, neither of which you want long term), and even if you pull out a +15 bonus you're still failing your check to store a 1st level spell about 35% of the time. Which makes you a bit like a Wizard walking around in full plate, which is not remotely a T1 character. Eventually you can make yourself a +UMD item and stop worrying, but that doesn't happen immediately.
    There is precedent, healer and truenamer being T2 once they get gate

    Good point, I still feel like its on the precipes of single handidly making it tier 1. It's any list, and any spell.
    Last edited by Lans; 2021-07-25 at 12:53 PM.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lans View Post
    There is precedent, healer and truenamer being T2 once they get gate

    Good point, I still feel like its on the precipes of single handidly making it tier 1. It's any list, and any spell.
    I can't agree that gate is such a reliable enough spell for this, planar ally and planar binding are the same. It requires DM fiat to make them broken as all of them tell you that anything unreasonable is never agreed to. If a person wants a wish, it would be unreasonable to command or bargain for it with 100gp.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lans View Post
    There is precedent, healer and truenamer being T2 once they get gate
    But that doesn't show up in the Tiers, which is my point. There's not a separate "Truenamer After Gate" entry. Outliers don't get counted separately in any other case, just this one. I have no idea why that is, but I suspect it was either "there was some ongoing heated debate about that Vestige when JaronK compiled his list" or "JaronK was a big Binder fanboy".

    Good point, I still feel like its on the precipes of single handidly making it tier 1. It's any list, and any spell.
    Only for a pretty small window. At low levels, you can't make the UMD check reliably enough. At high levels, 4th level spells don't cut it (you can extend that a bit by dumpster-diving, but then you get into comparative optimization questions). There's a window between, say, 4th and 8th where you can do a decent Wizard impersonation. But that's a really small window, and outside that window (frankly, outside of specifically spell-storing item) I've never seen anything you can do with Infusions that sounded all that impressive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darg View Post
    I can't agree that gate is such a reliable enough spell for this, planar ally and planar binding are the same. It requires DM fiat to make them broken as all of them tell you that anything unreasonable is never agreed to. If a person wants a wish, it would be unreasonable to command or bargain for it with 100gp.
    Yes, your DM can screw you over. But your DM can always screw you over. It doesn't mean planar binding isn't broken.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Yes, your DM can screw you over. But your DM can always screw you over. It doesn't mean planar binding isn't broken.
    Being reasonable as the RAW dictates is not screwing anyone over. If you want a wish, paying for the service as it were a casting of the spell wouldn't be unreasonable, nor would paying in another form of equivalent exchange. The one screwing everyone over is the player demanding a wish for pennies.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darg View Post
    Being reasonable as the RAW dictates is not screwing anyone over. If you want a wish, paying for the service as it were a casting of the spell wouldn't be unreasonable, nor would paying in another form of equivalent exchange. The one screwing everyone over is the player demanding a wish for pennies.
    So the "reasonable" effect of the spell is that it allows you to buy castings of wish for the price you could already buy them for?

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    How is that remotely necessary? The ability to pick new soulmelds every day is already exactly analogous to the ability to pick new spells every day, which is how the Wizard, Druid, Cleric, Archivist, and Erudite all work.
    Cleric, druid, wizard get lots of spell slots. Incarnate has very few soulmeld slots. Cleric, druid, wizard have extensive spell lists spread over many books. Incarnate has a small soulmeld list spread over two books and one mindís eye article. Cleric, druid, wizard have access to Wands and Staffs for extra spell slots, and spells not prepared that day. Incarnate, not so much. So incarnate needs versatility. If the OP is not going to grow the number of soulmelds or the number of essentia, or the soulmeld list, or grant equivalents to wands, then the options for versatility include a faster way to switch out the soulmelds.

    I suppose it is less necessary if you make every spell into a soulmeld.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    So the "reasonable" effect of the spell is that it allows you to buy castings of wish for the price you could already buy them for?
    Why wouldn't it be? There isn't normally a magic mart in the middle of a battlefield. And you could possibly end up paying with something other than gp.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Particle_Man View Post
    Cleric, druid, wizard get lots of spell slots. Incarnate has very few soulmeld slots.
    True, but a lot of those spell slots are low level ones that aren't worth very much. A 10th level Cleric gets three top-level spell slots (though they'll probably have enough WIS for another one). A 10th level Incarnate gets six soulmelds, can can invest each of them fully in the situation where they're used. Plus Chakra binds that unlock additional abilities. And those soulmelds aren't expended when used.

    Cleric, druid, wizard have extensive spell lists spread over many books. Incarnate has a small soulmeld list spread over two books and one mindís eye article.
    But those classes were plenty powerful when they had only one book worth of spells. The Wizard is still perfectly capable of being T1 if they only ever cast PHB spells.

    Cleric, druid, wizard have access to Wands and Staffs for extra spell slots, and spells not prepared that day.
    So does the Incarnate. There's even a UMD Soulmeld for you to use them with. Casters are somewhat better at using magic items, but it's far from unique to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darg View Post
    Why wouldn't it be? There isn't normally a magic mart in the middle of a battlefield. And you could possibly end up paying with something other than gp.
    Why would it be? "Unreasonable" doesn't mean "anything your DM doesn't like". "Fight for me against people you hate" isn't an "unreasonable" request to make of an outsider that is pro-murder (such as, I don't know, demons). And that's totally game-breaking.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Incarnates as a soul bind gets gate 1x/week and if you call something its 1k xp. Your standard t1 that can cast gate gets that several times a day if they want. Plus all the other 9ths. Thats the gap to bridge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Which makes them T3. There's not a single T2 or higher class whose primary abilities are at-will, so if you want to maintain the existing constraints the system puts on what at-will abilities can do, you can't go higher than T3. The question you're asking is just not as interesting as you seem to believe. Either we're constrained by what existing at-will abilities can do (and at the end of the line, that's "be in T3") or we aren't (and can simply write whatever abilities are necessary to be in T1). And I didn't ignore the Warlock's SLAs, I proposed the exact same thing for the Incarnate, but apparently that's not an acceptable solution.
    How many times have I mentioned alternate expense mechanics? I'm not disallowing the introduction of common expenses that provide daily or per-encounter-ish abilities, whatever the form that takes, because Incarnum does have three separate "parts" you can turn into fuel for this. Making Chakra Binds per-encounter is one idea I apparently pruned out of the OP, but would simultaneously greatly expand in-the-field versatility and offer a middle-ground expense for things that get silly as outright at-wills like most varieties of summoning.

    And as for t1s being more powerful, I'm going to need a pretty big pile of citations on how exactly Wizard has meaningfully more raw in-your-face power than Sorcerer, as base classes. Because the only fundamental difference they have, internally, is how many spells they get, with the usual examples being endurance or versatility tricks, not actual momentary output.

    Quote Originally Posted by Particle_Man View Post
    Cleric, druid, wizard get lots of spell slots. Incarnate has very few soulmeld slots. Cleric, druid, wizard have extensive spell lists spread over many books. Incarnate has a small soulmeld list spread over two books and one mindís eye article. Cleric, druid, wizard have access to Wands and Staffs for extra spell slots, and spells not prepared that day. Incarnate, not so much. So incarnate needs versatility. If the OP is not going to grow the number of soulmelds or the number of essentia, or the soulmeld list, or grant equivalents to wands, then the options for versatility include a faster way to switch out the soulmelds.
    Psion doesn't get that many Powers, and StP Erudite explicitly has fewer yet got rated higher because of better problems-solved from the larger number of broad carte-blanch answers. Staves and Wands are a very good point! I mentioned overhauling the feats right in the OP, didn't I? Why not throw in more items that replicate a lot of the in-play versatility options? I'm against just slapping giant number boosts and a huge pile of more powerful content because that doesn't at all fit with how 3.5's subsystems got designed. Note that Psionics is also t1 off the 90% or so of it in "two books and Mind's Eye", and Artificer's t1 off its home book and how a single class feature lets it loot from nearly every other book in the game.

    So when you start taking a hatchet to typing permutations and other forms of effect redundancy and specifically look to have as many parts independently answer situations as possible, you can pack down t1 outputs to a single book. Even without looting from others, for all that's supremely helpful to managing it and rather iconic to the execution, since Psionics, again, manages to be t1 without. Because they saved page space with Augments and bundling energy types.

    Quote Originally Posted by Efrate View Post
    Incarnates as a soul bind gets gate 1x/week and if you call something its 1k xp. Your standard t1 that can cast gate gets that several times a day if they want. Plus all the other 9ths. Thats the gap to bridge.
    See, that's a good case to tackle! Making it daily, on an actual daily resource, wouldn't at all be overstepping bounds, so long as it's on a Greater bind or otherwise confined to 17th or higher like Gate itself is (underleveled 9ths are Bad Juju, and unstandardized progressions are torture). The main way of doing so, to me, would be having Rapid Meldshaping drop its simultaneous unshaping requirement, while having effects like this unshape the Soulmeld used to do it. Then, for Incarnate, they can just Rapid Meldshaping it back if they need it again, or grab a different effect for what they're doing after using Gate. Like diplomancy to guarantee the loyalty of the thing they Gated in.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Efrate View Post
    Incarnates as a soul bind gets gate 1x/week and if you call something its 1k xp. Your standard t1 that can cast gate gets that several times a day if they want. Plus all the other 9ths. Thats the gap to bridge.
    Eh. The game gets stupid when people have 9th level spells. The Healer gets gate as a 9th level spell, but that does almost nothing to move the needle on the class as a whole because gate is cheesy to the point it doesn't matter in most games, and almost no one plays at 17th level. It's not worthless, but if you approach the problem from the perspective of "how do I make this class the equal of an optimized Wizard at 20th level", you're not going to get much useful stuff done. The issue with Incarnum is the middle range of the the game. The classes are pretty good at very low levels, because you can frontload your progression really hard and get surprisingly big damage numbers and giant skill bonuses at a level where people still care about skill bonuses. The issue is the midgame, because the classes fall off hard there, and it's something people use.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morphic tide View Post
    How many times have I mentioned alternate expense mechanics?
    So your question is "if we add a bunch of mechanics that aren't Incarnum to Incarnum, can we make it better than Incarnum"? Again, how is that remotely a theoretically interesting question? Obviously if you can write up a bunch of daily abilities that are as good as the Wizard, they did that and it's called the Wizard. Maybe it's a practically interesting question if you want to go out and do it, but as far as discussions go "can you write a bunch of abilities that are themed around blue soul magic that are level-appropriate for a party of a Wizard, a Cleric, and a Druid" is not some challenging topic.

    things that get silly as outright at-wills like most varieties of summoning.
    summon monster at-will only gets stupid if you're allowed to stack them. One summoned mook is honestly not a big deal. The list of things summon monster gives you is not an impressive list.

    And as for t1s being more powerful, I'm going to need a pretty big pile of citations on how exactly Wizard has meaningfully more raw in-your-face power than Sorcerer, as base classes. Because the only fundamental difference they have, internally, is how many spells they get, with the usual examples being endurance or versatility tricks, not actual momentary output.
    And the fact that for half the game the Wizard has access to higher level spells than the Sorcerer does. That matters, especially because the Sorcerer doesn't really have any compensating advantage at the even levels. It doesn't (after accounting for ACFs) get more spells per day. It has a quarter the spells known, before considering the Wizard's ability to expand their spellbook for gold. It even has worse metamagic, because lord knows the possibility of a class whose nominal value comes from greater flexibility would be broken if it could customize its spells. If the Wizard and the Sorcerer were on the same spell progression, they'd be balanced in the overwhelming majority of games.

    (underleveled 9ths are Bad Juju, and unstandardized progressions are torture).
    Many, perhaps even most, 9th level spells would be fine at a lower level. You're not breaking anything by giving out meteor swarm or soul bind or refuge at lower levels. In fact, if you did that it might even get people to use those spells. I would go so far as to say you're leaving opportunities on the table if you're not down-leveling spells when writing new material, as it allows you to give characters novel play patterns without having to write any new mechanics.

    As far as standardization goes, that ship has sailed a long time ago. Core alone has four different progressions just for spellcasting. Even among the T1s, the Artificer has its own special progression.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    True, but a lot of those spell slots are low level ones that aren't worth very much. A 10th level Cleric gets three top-level spell slots (though they'll probably have enough WIS for another one). A 10th level Incarnate gets six soulmelds, can can invest each of them fully in the situation where they're used. Plus Chakra binds that unlock additional abilities. And those soulmelds aren't expended when used.
    I disagree with that. Low level spell slots are great for utility spells, divinations, and the like. So it is nice to have them "on tap". Also there are feats that can use up low level spell slots to do other stuff, if one is so inclined (and even reserve feats that make having low level spell slots useful even if you never cast those spells that day). Meanwhile, the incarnate has a handful of soulmelds. They are on all day, but the Warlock has stuff that is at-will all day too and no one says the Warlock is Tier 1.

    Oh, and this would not get the Incarnate to Tier 1. If all of my recommendations were taken, the Wizard, Cleric, Druid, etc. would still out-class the Incarnate. This is just to get the Incarnate, Totemist, SoulBorn, etc., out of the starting gate.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Particle_Man View Post
    I disagree with that. Low level spell slots are great for utility spells, divinations, and the like. So it is nice to have them "on tap".
    Sure. You get value out of having low level spells. But you also get value out of having more top-level abilities (potentially several more, depending on what you have Chakra binds doing), and out of having your abilities at will, and out of being able to customize your abilities on a round-by-round basis. You're confusing the contingent fact that spells are better than soulmelds with some fundamental truth about the possibilities of the two resource management systems.

    They are on all day, but the Warlock has stuff that is at-will all day too and no one says the Warlock is Tier 1.
    That's because Invocations are mostly not very good. WotC was incredibly afraid of the prospect of someone getting to adventure effectively all day. I'm not really sure why they were, because as far as I know there's only one published adventure that really cares about keeping the PCs on a timetable (Red Hand of Doom). Everything else is just "clear the dungeon", a task that doesn't really care whether you do it in one day or ten.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Invocations are actually a really good thing to look at. There are some gems there that could be inspiration. At will dispel magic, flight, charm monster, skill boneses that start higher than what incarnum can, some minionmancy, these are all things that you could design melds around, add scaling so while they might start worse they eventually get better. But thats basically psionics. Worse than spells spells that you can put a resource into to make almost as good as spells. Or just use spells. Flexibility is good but t1s need power as well.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Why would it be? "Unreasonable" doesn't mean "anything your DM doesn't like". "Fight for me against people you hate" isn't an "unreasonable" request to make of an outsider that is pro-murder (such as, I don't know, demons). And that's totally game-breaking.
    Except asking the demon to go murder hobo is not the same as granting you your wish. They have different values and that demon knows how valuable a wish can be. Why does it have to be "anything your DM doesn't like"? Why can't it be "doing something appropriate to the table"? Being reasonable is not a jab. PAO can technically turn you into jupiter sized planet. Will it ever happen? Maybe, but saying no would be reasonable.

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    Default Re: What would t1 Incarnum look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darg View Post
    PAO can technically turn you into jupiter sized planet. Will it ever happen? Maybe, but saying no would be reasonable.
    And that's the point. planar binding isn't unique in that it will be, in practice, restricted to what is appropriate for the table. But that's not what the Tiers ask, because the goal is to be something that is useful across a range of tables. If your answer to "how are imbalances handled" is "the table doesn't allow imbalanced things", the whole point of the Tiers becomes meaningless.

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