So, the first choice you will have to make for playing anything in the MoI is what race you want to be. Some races are better than others, and some are absolute shit for it. Pay close attention to the racial modifiers of each and every race, as they have a heavy impact on this choice. And, obviously, some races are thematically correct for it. Let's get started, shall we?Core+ Incarnum Races
- Humans : Well, we start with the single best race at anything you can ever imagine. Humans are the all-around greatest race printed that will be commonly allowed (yes, the Strongheart Halfling beats them, but I've never met a DM who knew what they were doing and allowed that race without tacking on a LA to it). That said, Humans are best for Skill-Monkey builds, something two of the three base classes in MoI are not. At least, not with the right melds. Play an Azurin before being Human, they get something more important than Skill Point.
- Dwarves : If only for the increase to Con, then you are better off playing something else. But the Dwarf has access to one of the greatest PrCs in this book alone, and make excellent Meldshapers. Oddly enough, Dragonborn Dwarves still qualify for that very PrC, so this isn't a bad choice.
- Gnomes : Small size, check. Con bonus, check. Skill check bonuses, check. Major combat bonuses, check. SLAs, check. Easily one of the best races ever printed, Gnomes are great for just about everything. A two-level dip into Incarnate, PrCing into Soulcaster for a few levels, then finishing up with Shadowcraft Mage is easily one of the best builds the MoI can offer you. The -2 to CL, while sub-optimal, is made up for by the brokeness of being able to negate the damage dealt by casting Sacrifice or Corrupt spells. NG Incarnate Gnomes can get really good AC and attack bonuses. Good option to go with.
- Half-Elves : If you are aiming for a Diplomancer, play a Warlock, not anything in this book. Half-Elf is the second worse race in the PHB, and easily one of the worst choices for a Meldshaper. Next!
- Half-Orcs : Now, normally, Half-Orcs are sub-par. But for an LN Incarnate or a Totemist, go for it. That Str increase is golden for Tank builds, and the Int/Cha penalty is negligible. Not a bad option. Better choices exist, but still, not a bad one.
- Halflings : I see the stats, and in spite of statistical benefits, I don't see what people love about this race. That said, you can be a good archer with a CN Halfling Incarnate, and a good Skill-Monkey if the party needs it. Dissolving Spittle is the Soulmeld you want always
- Elves : Ok, let me get this off my chest: I. Fucking. HATE. Elves! And this is one reason why. Worst Meldshaper race, period. And don't bring up the Sub-level. Elf Soulborns have a d8 for HD, just because that Con penalty is so sub-par. The only reason this race is playable is Eberron and DCFS tricks. Valenar Double Scimitars are amazing weapons with the right feats, but not a good option for a Meldshaper. Stay away from Elves if you are a Meldshaper.
- Azurin : If you can't think of something better, then this is the default race for a Meldshaper. The bonus feat and Essentia are perfect for you. 5 star choice.
- Dusklings : A lot of people say this is the best race in the book. I'm inclined to agree, but I don't like fairies. Not even blue furry ones. Points for being able to make Sonic the Hedgehog without using Savage Species though.
- Rilkan : Hello worst race in the book! This race was made for Skill monkeys, not Meldshapers. Just say no to Rilkans!
- Skarn : And now we say hello to the coolest race in the book, the Skarn. Who doesn't want 6'' long spines growing out of their back and limbs? I know I wouldn't mind them! Totemist is the best class for them, as it grants more natural attacks for them to abuse. Incarnate follows closely. Spinemeld Warrior and Soulborn are about an even split, but I prefer Spinemeld to Soulborn.
- Bugbear : If you are playing with LA buy-offs, this race is great. Otherwise, the LA hurts, but not much. Option considered.
- Deep Dwarf : Not much of a difference between them and the standard Dwarf, but their bonuses to saves are amazing. Light Sensitivity can be a hindrance, but an alchemical item takes care of it just fine. Good option.
- Drow : Yes, my hatred for Elves includes Drow. Why? +2 LA, for crappy SR, light blindness, and you still have a Con penalty. I can't say this enough: Stay away from Elves! Exception to the Hatred: Xen'Dirk Drow are cool.
- Svirfneblin : Take the best part about Gnomes. Now kick them in their short nuts. +3 LA? No thanks! Avoid this race.
- Forest Gnome : Now we are talking! This race is an improvement on the normal Gnoome, and it has no LA! And they still have the racial +1 CL to Illusion spells, and still qualify for Shadowcraft Mage. Good race to pick.
- Goblin : Heh, who says Goblins suck? Try saying that to a NE Goblin Incarnate with his Avatar up and a Flail swinging over his head. Now who's the shrimp? Bitch!
- Half-Dragon/Celestial/Fiend : As with anything, stay away from races with high LAs. They aren't worth it. The only reason you should is if you have one of those crazy DMs who allows you to have a free +4 LA, in which case go for it. Half-Dragon opens up the melds in Dragon Magic, while Half-Celestial/Fiend is very thematic and intriguing for any Meldshaper (just read the damn fluff for why).
- Tallfellow Halfling : You know what I said about not understanding a damn thing about why people like Halflings? Well, this just gives me another reason to say that. Meh. Flip a coin on this one.
- Deep Halfling : Sometimes, I get the feeling WotC likes making useless races. This is a downgrade from standard Halfling people. The comedy this race gives is that they sense depth as easily as Humans sense which way is up, which implies that none of the other races can do this.
- Hobgoblin : Ok, so the only reason this has an LA is because it has no stat penalties? WTF, Wizards? You are giving them an LA when you are doing the exact same thing in 4E? Talk your DM into getting rid of the LA, as this race offers nothing else but stats. Otherwise, this is a fine race to go with.
- Lycanthropes : I mention them because of the Totem Rager PrC. Get a low LA, low HD animal (or a Murder of Crows) as the base animal, and go to damn town on something with massive stats and a number of natural attacks. Normally, this is sub-par. I like the theme of this however, so it is worth a mention.
- Orc : I know some DMs replace the Half-Orc's stats with that of the full-blooded Orc. Totemists and NE/LN Incarnates get the most mileage out of the race's Str boost. Decent for a Tank. Water Orc in the SRD (and UA) is better than the original though.
- Planetouched : The sub-levels make Tiefling good. Both of them get benefits, so the LA may be worth it. Aasimar have a d8 instead of a d6 HD if they are Incarnates, so that is a +. Tieflings get more skill points and can enter Ur-Priest easily. Both have benefits, and flavor.
- Troglodyte : Step 1: Buy-off the LA. Step 2: Become a Dragonborn. Step 3: Kick ass! Or not, and still kick some ass. RotD is pretty foggy on whether or not you keep the Natural Armor. If your DM says you do, good. If not, then don't.
- Changelings : If you like changing your Melds on a daily basis, you may want to change faces too. There are better options, but I can see real RPing reasons for this race. Okay choice.
- Kalashtar : Only if you plan on Soul Manifester. Otherwise, they are sub-par. Not bad, but still sub-par.
- Shifter : Hi-oh fluffy, away! The flavor behind a Shifter Totemist is really good, and the race can benefit any Meldshaper. Look into them. A Lion-totem Totem Rager Shifter in Beasthide or Razorclaw can be a real nightmare! Shame they didn't make a sub-level for them. By the way, you can make Wolverine with Sphinx Claws and your standard Shifter.
- Warforged : Like a Warforged Binder, this is something that makes people scratch their heads. I like it, because Dragonborn and Adamantine Body go so well with an Incarnate or Totemist. Their Slam attack means you have 2 attacks at level 1 with Incarnates, possibly more with Totemist. Good option, possibly one of the best ones there is.
- Silverbrow Humans : Almost as good as the normal, the fact that they get an SLA is nice. Still, better options do exist. Dragonblood means you have the Melds in the same book as an option. Consider this race.
- Deepwyrm Drow : No no no! No Elves! Especially when they still have an LA! And I have no clue what Half-Drow's stats are, so still, no!
- Fireblood Dwarves : Good race for the Fire resistance. If you are in a Desert campaign, this is a really good race. And you still qualify for the PrC for Dwarves. Dragonblood means you have the Melds in the same book as an option. Good choice.
- Forestlord Elves : What the fuck were R&D smoking when they thought this up? Elves+Green Dragons? Aside from sharing the same environment, these two have no reason to screw around like this. Elves are CG, Green Dragons are LE. Do not touch this race anyway, it is an Elf, after all.
- Stonehunter Gnomes : Meh. Dragonblood means you have the Melds in the same book as an option. But still meh.
- Glimmerskin Halflings : Ok? This still gives me a headache trying to figure out why people like Halflings, but this race is really good. Dragonblood means you have the Melds in the same book as an option.
- Viletooth Lizardfolk : Talk to your DM about making this an LA 0 race with no racial HD or Nat Armor. This is a good choice, solely due to what it offers. That Bite attack is fun too.
- Sunscorch Hobgoblins : Same thing as using the normal ones, but this one has different stat boosts. Good for Clerics to!
- Frostblood Orcs: Wow. What a boost to Half-Orcs! Considering that a single feat grants you the Fire subtype while raging, Totem Rager becomes this race's prime option. Good choice.
- Dragonborn : If it wasn't for the fact that you would lose the Essentia and the bonus feat, a Dragonborn Azurin would be the best option. Sadly, this is not the case. Warforged Dragonborn are the best at being a Totemist. Dragonblood+Living Construct=Totem goodness. Dragonborn are up their in good choices. Really up there.
- Spellscale : I see one thing when I look at this race, and that is the boost to the dump stat with the penalty to Con. Avoid like the plague.
- Kobold : And now we get the most broken race in the game. In the name of Pun-Pun, Kobolds do everything better than any other race. If you want proof, play a Desert Kobold Soulcaster with Sorcerer and Incarnate as the base. Watch how broken these boards can make it.
Before I begin this, whenever you see me say the word Phrenetic, or anything that remotely resembles that word, I mean Psionic. I have this entire debate about it, if anyone is interested, feel free to email me about it. That being said:
- Dromite : For a +1 LA race, you would think they would be a little stronger than this, right? This is a poor race to play if you are doing anything involving the MoI. Avoid.
- Duergar : Meh. Dwarf is better than them, IMO. The PLAs they get are great though. Still, better choices exist, so avoid this one.
- Elan : Elan Totemists scare me. Dragonborn Elan Totemists give me nightmares. Optimized Dragonborn Elan Totemists can give me a seizure. What a damn race! Aberration is one of the best types for playing a Totemist, so watch out for these guys.
- Githyanki: Now we are talking stupid good. All those SLAs, for only a +2 LA? Not half bad. But +2 Dex and Con, with a penalty to Wis? Yes please! That LA is so much nicer if you can buy it off though. Be careful with how you play them too.
- Githzerai : Oh. Dear. God! Look at that Dex bonus! Both of the Gith races are amazing for Incarnum, no matter what anyone will tell you. This one may be overkill for Archer builds though. CN here we come!
- Half-Giant : Ask your DM if Powerful Build increases the size of your Incarnate Weapon or the damage dealt by your Totemist Soulmelds that grant natural attacks. If he says yes, then go to freaking town! If not, then they are merely okay.
- Maenad : Good race for a Totemist. Okay for everything else. 'Nuff said.
- Thri-kreen : You know, sometimes a +4 ECL is worth something. This is one of those cases. Creatures with multiple arms and claws can be a nightmare with certain Soulmelds. Watch out for them!
- Xeph : Great for CN Incarnates, Xephs make excellent skirmishers with their increased speed.
Nothing in this book is worth playing for the MoI. Too many LAs.
- Jaebrin : Better options exist than this race. LA +1 for immunity to a commonly banned school of magic? No thanks.
I'm betting 40% of you didn't remember there were races in here. Well there are.
- Vasharan : NE Incarnates make use of two books aside from the MoI: BoVD and Elder Evils. Why? Vile Feats are very good for you. Not for your enemies, but for you.
- Jerren : Wait, so there is a Halfling that I actually want to play? There's news. +3 bonus (total) for a CN Incarnate to use Thrown weapons. Same bonus applies for Totemists. Good race to play, but good luck getting the book they are in allowed. It is a commonly banned book, just because of the tension it puts on PCs and the DM.
Ok, let's get something clear right here: Undead Meldshapers should not exist. Most of the stuff in this book will be useless to you. The lose of your Con score is too big of a hit to afford. Some of the feats may be good though. I'll go over those later.
Only two races in this book are worth mentioning, so I will keep it simple.
- Asheratis : Heheh, if you've read the Mole thread, then this race will make you smile. These guys are good for Hit-and-Run tactics. Their Nat Armor means their can get a good AC at the lower levels, and boost it with Totem Avatar. Take your pick. Oh, and you will glow like a Daylight spell. You know, one of the feats in BoED does the same basic thing that their glow does, but can add a nice damaging effect to a weaker glow. Consider this race if you want to make Human Torch jokes with the Flame Mantle. Multi-weapon Fighting with 4 Eagle Claws can get really nasty if you know what you are doing.
- Bhuka : Standard Goblins are better than this race.
- Karsite : Why do I mention them, when they are almost the same a Drow? Because they can use the Azurin instead of a regular Human, at the DM's permission. If they let you do this, then very little will be able to bypass your resistances at any given level (Incarnates can get massive SR with Spellward Shirt). That, and their Magic-Draining Attack can Shut down Soulmelds easily. Sadly, the DC may never get any higher than 22, and that's only if you pump up their Cha as much as possible. Never underestimate them though.
- Aventi : See Human or Azurin.
- Darfellan : Not a bad race! Their Bite attack is stronger than most of the Totemist's so they can conserve on Soulmelds without losing much.
- Seacliff Dwarf : See Dwarf. (Pun not intended.)
- Aquatic Elf : Better than normal elves! Still hate the bastards though.
- Wavecrest Gnome : See Gnome. (Need to stop with the Puns.)
- Hadozee : Not bad. Better options exist, but it is rather daunting to see a Hadozee Totemist coming at you with a fist-full of rage. If the idea of playing a mini-King Kong doesn't appeal to your tastes, then think about playing a mini-King Kong who has four claws, 3 bites, a tail-slap, and two slams, charging in and pouncing on the enemies while screaming bloody-murder at the top of his lungs from three heads. How's that for intimidating?
- Shoal Halfling : Wizards needs to stop nerfing races. This is really sub-par, unless you are trying to be the aquatic skill-monkey. I compare this race to Aquaman. Both of them are useless.
- Races of the Wild/Stone/Destiny
I own none of these books, so if someone else would be so kind as to write up a review of them, I will gladly put it here.
- Fiendish Codex 2: Tyrants of the Nine Hells
- Hellbred : Please try talking your DM into allowing Evil Exception to apply to Soulmelds! Necrocarnum is fun people! This race is really good for what it does. Consider them a good option.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2008, 03:38:31 PM by Sinfire Titan »
So, now that you have finished looking at the races that can be considered, let's move onto the feats you will be wanting. I will be looking at every feat in the MoI, and then several select few feats from other books in this section. Expect it to be much longer than the Races section, so grab a bag of chips or ten and a nice two-liter of soda. And don't drink it while reading anything I post, as I generally include a few jokes between lines that can crack you up from time to time. I don't want to owe a total stranger a new monitor/keyboard because you were reading my stuff while taking a chug.
Magic of Incarnum's feats
Azure Enmity: Unless Gestalt is allowed, this feat is a meh one. Honestly, they should have just dropped the Favored Enemy requirements, and said that the two stacked in case someone had them both. See the Variants section for info on making this feat decent.
Azure Talent: When compared to previous Talent feats (Wild and Psychic) this is a step forward. Marks a major improvement in such feats though. I single this out as a situational feat, it is an entry requirement, nothing more. Still, bonus PP never hurt a build, and it does grant Essentia. Not bad at all.
Azure Touch: Pallys need this feat and one other to make Lay on Hands good, and Wholeness of Body just sucks period. Avoid this feat, unless you all ready are a Pally on healbot duty.
Azure Toughness: Let me be clear on this: Take it only if you are desperate for the Essentia. Never invest in it! Improved Toughness is still better than this, though it is a step above the various Toughness-oriented feats I've seen. A trap that still helps is still a trap though.
Azure Turning: Special note about this feat: No one turns undead! Except RSoP, but they all ready blow them up with Turning instead of using it on DMM. Scratch that, they can use it on DMM too. To paraphrase Treantmonk's infamous position on things like this: This feat shall soon become Thanksgiving dinner for Starvin Marvin.
Azure Wild Shape: Why bother with it? Because it is a nice feat for Druids. If you focus solely on your Wild Shape, this is a nice augment to it for an Azurin Druid with Incarnum Spellshaping/Midnight Metamagic. Obviously, it needs a little investment to be good. But it is decent for a VoP Druid.
Bonus Essentia: OK, aside from the obvious Blue-theme in the MoI, there has to be a darker blue for this feat's highlight. This is the most important feat for a Meldshaper to take. If only it could be taken more than once! Then it would be the only feat they need to take.
Cerulean Fort/Will/Reflexes: All three of these are meh. Only take them for the Essentia. If you have some to spare, go ahead an invest some in them, once all of your other Incarnum feats are filled.
Cobalt Charge: Now this is a feat worth taking if you have the space for it. Dungeon Crasher likes this feat!
Cobalt Critical: OK feat. The increase to damage is nice. If only it improved the threat range instead...
Cobalt Expertise: Good for the Chain Tripper if they have the feats to spare. I know they will have to Con for it.
Cobalt Power: I can see this being used with Stone Power for shenanigans. Other than that, meh.
Cobalt Precision: When combined with the Dissolving Spittle meld, this is a decent feat to have. With the right build, this feat is Blue (literally).
Cobalt Rage: Now we are talking! Double-dipping for one feat, this is the driving force behind the Lion Totemist build (see PrCs section).
Divine Soultouch: If you are a Sapphire Hierarch, this is an ok feat. If not, there are better uses for your Turn attempts.
Double Chakra: Good feat, 'nuff said. Twin Totem Chakra Bind at 9th level. 3 at 11th.
Expanded Soulmeld Capacity: If you have nothing else to do with your feats, this is always a nice choice. Good for getting an edge on spellscasters and melees alike, the extra oomph for a little more thrashing never hurt anyone but the dead guy.
Healing Soul: I use this as a filler/bonus Essentia. The nice part about this feat is that you don't have to be able to move to use it, so you can use it when KOed, but not dead. Warforged get extra mileage out of it, it bypasses their normal healing resistances.
Heart of Incarnum: Now, if your DM allows Dragonwrought shenanigans, this is a nice feat to have. Beats the hell out of Toughness any day. Note that Essentia invested in feats, class features, melds, and items still counts towards this amount, it only drops if you take Essentia damage.
Improved Essentia Capacity: When you have enough Incarnum feats, this can be a nice boost them.
Incarnum Fortified Body: I think they forgot the [Incarnum] tag on this one. None of the feats like it lack them (Dragonic Toughness, IE.) and this one just sucks otherwise.
Incarnum Resistance: Need I even say why this is bad? Crappy as hell, the bonuses it provides are worthless.
Incarnum Spellshaping: Decent. Not much to say about it. I'm probably going to delve into the spells themselves later on in the Items section, but really, this is only for casters, not Meldshapers.
Indigo Strike: Ok, the editors got something right this time. Decent feat. Also, good pic of Lidda.
Midnight Augmentation; I have two words for you: Death Urge. Temporal Acceleration. Need I go on? This feat is amazing or SoDs or I Win cards. Astral Construct? Sure, why not? Cranial Deluge makes this feat worth something. Boost the hell out of the Save DCs with it! Note that this only applies if your DM interprets it one of two ways. If it is the other way, then this goes bold, not blue.
Midnight Dodge: Better than normal Dodge, but honestly not worth the effort to make it awesome. Extra Essentia never hurt though.
Midnight Metamagic: Anything that lowers the cost of Metamagic is decent. This, I thought at on point, was broken. Turns out not to be that way. Chalk another one up for the Editors. Essentia Helm breaks it outright though.
Necrocarnum Acolyte: It's purple for a reason. This feat grants access to a PrC that nets you infy Essentia. 'Nuff said.
Open Chakras: Meh. Not worth the feats for anyone who is a Meldshaper. Good for non-shapers though. Great for single-classed Soulcasters/Sapphire Hierarchs too.
Psycarnum Blade: A boost to a sub-par class. Most Meldshapers won't meet the requirements anyway.
Psycarnum Infusion: Great feat. If only the points from Azure Talent were temporary PP, then this could be abused with ease. Well, it can be abused easily with Midnight Metamagic.
Sapphire Fist: Meh. Worthless to a Meldshaper.
Sapphire Smite: Don't you just love how WotC tries to help the little guy? Not worth the feat IMO.
Sapphire Sprint: As I said for the Duskling, they get points for enabling Sonic the Hedgehog without using Anthro template.
Shape Soulmeld: Oh this feat would be so good if it granted Essentia! But it is only meh.
Share Soulmeld: This is a good feat. Hope the DM rules that it also shares your Essentia in each one.
Soulsight: Mindsight is better. This is ok.
Soultouched Spellcasting: Useful for Psions too! Phrenetic/Magic Transparency after all. Meh.
Split Chakra: This feat makes Warforged Incarnates happy!
Undead Meldshaper: What, no love for constructs? This feat is crap by the way. Losing your Con score and having to spend a feat just to use class features is bad, m'kay?
Bonus Soulmeld: This isn't a bad feat, but it isn't the best choice for an Epic Meldshaper. You actually get more benefit from multiclassing into either Totemist or Incarnate, or PrCing out than what this feat gives. Still, when you take Epic bonus feats into account, this one is a nice boost.
Epic Essentia: This is what Bonus Essentia should have been. A good feat, considering how much Essentia you can get with Multiclassing post-Epic.
Extra Chakra Bind: Meh. More Binds isn't a bad thing, but some melds aren't worth binding.
Open Heart Chakra: If you are taking this feat, it means you are a Soulborn. This means you are really bad. Those HPs are meaningless when Heart of Incarnum can do so much more for you.
Open Soul Chakra: Totemists are the ones who will be taking this ASAP.
Rapid Meldshaping: Why, oh why, is this an Epic feat?!?! This needs to be a normal one. Still an amazing feat though. Really gets you what you need.
Rebind Soulmeld: Same as above, only slightly less useful. Nice if you have Planar Chasuble though, as you can Gate whenever you really need it.
Book of Exalted Deeds
Ancestral Relic: Why does this have the Good requirement? Oh well, being able to craft a custom item is nice, especially if it conserves your Essentia and isn't slotted.
Exalted Smite: I mention this due to Soulborns having Smite. It is an ok feat for them, but they have better choices for their feats than this one.
Intuitive Attack: Totemists who have Monk/SS levels will appreciate the loss of some of their MAD. Otherwise, not worth it.
Nimbus of Light: Only because it is a prereq for two other feats.
Holy Radiance: This+Asherati+Sun Devotion means a NG Incarnate will be a house against undead, and be the party's torch in the dark alley. This is for specific campaigns though (Ravenloft, I'm looking at you!) and it still doesn't compare to a RSoP, so it is a very situational feat to take. If you have VoP though, then this is a good filler for those bonus feats you get.
Stigmata: If the DM agrees with Strongheart Vest protecting you from the Con damage this does, it means free healing at will. Always a nice thing to have. If not, then this goes Red fast.
Vow of Poverty: This is a real double-whammy feat. For one, it ups your AC while leaving your body slots open. Two, it conserves Essentia for your Incarnate Weapon. Several other benefits make this worth while. But the other good part is that it helps you qualify for the Saint template, which makes you even more of a holy hand grenade. This screams out to NG Incarnates as one of the best investments you can make. I will be going in-depth with this feat in the classes section. None of the others are worth it though.
Touch of Golden Ice: You won't be wearing much armor while using VoP, and this is just plain mean on a Totemist. Low save DC hurts a bit, but they always have the 5% chance of getting screwed.
If anyone else has feats they would like to contribute to this handbook, feel free to post it.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2008, 03:50:29 PM by Sinfire Titan »
From feats, we get into the Meldshaper classes themselves, and I will be going in an unusual order with it. Starting with the Incarnate (easily the best for your all around Meldshaping goodness) and working my way through the three base classes, we will be taking a strong look at what each class feature brings to the table, and will have a look at what Soulmelds each one has access to (and critiquing them later on).
So, without further ado, I present the Handbook's guide to making an Incarnate.Key ability scores for an Incarnate
Strength: This is a very debatable stat. For NE and LN Incarnates, I say it is a crucial stat to have in the higher numbers. For NG and CN, it is less important. Having a high Str means you intend to cover one of the party's big weaknesses: The Big Stupid Fighter. The good news about this is that you can become much more resilient than a standard Fighter for this job.
Dexterity: Having a good Dex means you can leave most of your Soulmelds empty until the fight starts. This also means you can be a good Ranged combatant, one of the specialties of the CN Incarnate. NG Incarnates would do well to have this as a decent score, as it improves their (massive) AC. The bad news about leaving your melds empty until the fight begins is if you lose the Init, you will be little more than Fireball fodder. Those d6s and poor Reflex saves mean that DD will be very effective at cutting you down a few notches on the totem pole. Something you should desperately avoid.
Constitution: If you don't have a good Con, then you are not playing the right build. This is the most vital stat to any character, and it is what determines your Meldshaping skill. The higher, the better. Remember, you only have so many HPs from class levels, this is where the rest comes from. On average, you want this between 15 and 20, numbers easily attained witha 32 PB and the right race.
Intelligence: One of the dump stats. This is only vital if you intend to cover the Skill Monkey role of the party. Still, extra Skills to blow points on is nice to have. If you have the PB left, put a little here to actually know what you are talking about half the time. Spellcraft is a key skill, and works off of this stat, so don't think it is ok to neglect it entirely though.
Wisdom: They say this is a key stat for determining your Meld's save DCs. I say: Fuck DCs Sideways! You aren't the Wizard, why should you worry about it? If you are LN or NG, you won't need this stat as much as the others, as most of your melds will only affect you. CN and NE Incarnates, however, may want this at a decent number. And, obviously, you will be wanting to take advantage of the capstone feature at some point in your game (though multiclassers need not apply to this sentiment).
Charisma: Dump stat. You aren't a Diplomancer, you are an Incarnate (that being said, yes, you can make a Diplonate if you so choose to) and thus have no need for being the party's face. If you are covering the Arcane caster part of the group (via the Mage's Spectacles Soulmeld) then you may wish this to be at least a 12 by level 7.
Hit Dice: d6. You are on par with the Bard here pal. Make those dice count!
BAB: Crap. But this hindrance is easily overcome by your class features and Soulmelds.
Base Saves: Two good, one utterly bites. Those Reflex saves will be the party's undoing if you are the skill monkey.Meldshaping
Essentia: Incarnates have the highest Essentia of all of the base three shaper classes. That being said, at times you will feel this isn't enough. You are right, it isn't. 26-30 points at 20th level is precious little to throw around on a daily basis, so planning is key to your survival. In general, you want at least one of your feats to have 1 or 2 points in it, so you can at least get mileage out of them. If you have a Sapphire Heirarch or a Soulcaster in the party, they may be willing to blow a spell to give you some extra points when you need them the most. Don't count on this though, spellcasters can be stingy (as they have every right to be).
Soulmelds: Likewise, massive Essentia means massive places to put it all in. You start play with 2. That's it. CN and NE Incarnate will want Spellward Shirt and Dissolving Spittle as these two. LN and Ng Incarnates will want the Avatar or Shirt, and the Incarnate Weapon (or Crystal Helm, if you have a natural weapon). Every Warforged Incarnate I've made had the Sword and Shirt up, and relied on the Slam attack at level 1 to follow through if the Incarnate Weapon missed. This worked every time he attacked.
Chakra Binds: No Narutards, this is something entirely different. You get 5 (maybe more if you know what you are doing with those feats). I've only ever needed those five to be effective. The ones you bind are the ones you will be using only for that effect (or both bonuses if they are good melds). I will go into which ones are Bind worthy in the Melds review later on.
Aura: Ok, you glow under Detect spells. Who doesn't? Vermin. Guess what? You glow brighter than you should, seeing as your aura is that of a Cleric's of your level. So you are a freaking Neon sign to your opposite that just screams "Shank me!" Good news: It means your side will be less likely to harm you. You know, if there is a PB for class features that WotC is using, I sure hope this counts as a few extra points, and doesn't eat up a slot.
Detect Opposition: Ah, the Pally's spam button. Let me tell you something: If it glows, don't kill it on the spot. Just be cautious around it. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to have this active during a Dungeon. You never no when being able to Detect Evil will reveal a Curse trap. Or worse. So it does have a good side to it.
Chakra Bind (various): This is important! Without these, you have to waste feats on it. But the fact that you get them so slowly is a killer to you. Good news: You never have to spend a feat to open one of your Chakras if you take the class to 20. Bad news: You gotta take the class to 19th to get all of them.
Expanded Soulmeld Capacity: Thank god for this feature! You can get massive bonuses with your Essentia if you move it around just right. Hell, with the Vitality Belt alone, we are talking about a potential 8xMeldshaper level in HP.
Incarnum Radiance: Have you ever made a Ranger/Scout and had them scout ahead of the party before? Did he die a miserably painful death because he wasn't fast enough? What about playing the Fighter who could never hit anything because he spent so much on his AC? What about the damage-dishing tank who couldn't do a damn thing because he never hit a blasted thing? Well, kiss those problems goodbye! This class feature is a huge one. My only qualms with it is that it is limited to 4/day at 20th. Use them sparingly.
Rapid Meldshaping: Incarnates are the only ones who get the equal of an Epic feat at 5th level. 3/day is a little weak, but if it hurts, it works.
Share Incarnum Radiance: I've yet to see a non-Evil party that was the exact same alignment across the board. That said, if you have followers, a Planar Ally, or a Soulspark, this goes blue very fast. CN is the worst one to share, as it is the weakest for a whole party to have unless everyone is a bunch of cowards. I mean Swift Hunters.
Perfect Meldshaper: NG incarnates will hate this. Everyone else will like it. But it comes into play so late in the game that it almost doesn't matter.
True Incarnation: If only this came much sooner, it would be good. That said, everyone likes abusing Alter Self! Buy a wand or two of it, and turn into an outsider of your choice.
So, which Incarnate is the best? I'm partial to the LN side, just because you can keep up with the party Tank (or even replace him) when you want to. All but the CN one shine in my eyes. CN is only bad because they gave it the wrong stereotype. Every CN character I've played along side of never went ranged unless he really couldn't reach something. Every other time he just ran headlong into the fray (and often got KOed for it).
So, here are a few 20th level builds to think about. Pick your paths carefully. All of them are 20th level Incarnates, seeing as this is what this section is about anyway.
1st: Sacred Vow
Azurin: Vow of Poverty
Flaw: Expanded Soulmeld Capacity (Flaw: Shaky)
Flaw: Cobalt Charge (Flaw: Shaky)
VoP 2nd: Touch of Golden Ice
3rd: Healing Soul/Healing Devotion/Plant Devotion (Complete Champion)
VoP 4th: Nimbus of Light
6th: Bonus Essentia
VoP 6th: Holy Radiance
VoP 8th: Exalted Spell Resistance
9th: Cerulean Reflexes/Plant Devotion/Healing Devotion (CC)
VoP 10th: Knight of the Stars
12th: Expanded Soulmeld Capacity/Weapon Focus (Warhammer)
VoP 12th: Stigmata
VoP 14th: Gifts of Faith
15th: Cobalt Critical/Healing Devotion/Plant Devotion
VoP 16th: Words of Creation/Sanctify Martial Strike
18th: Heart of Incarnum
VoP 18th: Nymph's Kiss (Because you really don't have much of an option)
VoP 20th: Vow of Obedience
So, the only real problem here is the lack of Exalted feats that do a damn thing for you. Most of them are pointless to take, others, you don't want to touch (Vow of Peace, I'm looking at you). But the benefits gained from VoP are terrific for an Incarnate. Why? You save body slots, and lose very little that your Soulmelds can't replace. The Deflection bonus to AC can be either used or overridden by Crystal Helm. The enhancement bonus from VoP applies to your Incarnate Weapon if you choose to be melee over ranged. The Ability Score increases buff stats that actually matter to you.
But sometimes, you may want wealth over freedom. VoP does put some limits on you, so this is really only for someone who is starting off in Incarnum to get the hang of it (pros would rather be spending the gold). You will be seeing VoP again in the Variants section. It makes Druid/Incarnate more broken than it needs to be.
The focus of this build is its AC. You also serve double-duty as a healer. Enemies may not want to hit you that often, but you will also be able to be a threat (unlike a Dwarven Defender). Grappling may not be a good idea for you though. But tripping them is. And because you lack armor, ToGI will trigger a lot more often than it should if you change over to Unarmed/Tripping.
LN Warforged Dragonborn Incarnate 20
1st: Adamantine Body
Flaw 1: Shape Soulmeld (Dragon Tail)
Flaw 2: Jaws of Death
6th: Bonus Essentia
9th: Expanded Soulmeld Capacity
12th: Double Chakra (Arms or Waist)
15th: Split Chakra (Soul)
18th: Double Chakra (Arms, waist, or heart)
This build is a little intense on the ability scores, but is very solid in melee of any kind. The Incarnate Weapon alone makes this a very potent combatant, adding in the Dragon Tail and Jaws of Death, and you have 3 attacks at level 1. True, most of them won't hit, but the Incarnate Weapon still stays behind. it is debatable if Dragonborn allows you to keep the natural weapons of your base race, but the bite from Jaws of Death is kept no matter the ruling the same way you keep Adamantine Body.
If the DM allows you to keep the Slam attack, ditch the 12th level feat for Second Slam to improve upon your combat abilities.
With a +4 bonus to Con, +8 to AC, and 3 attacks off the bat, this build is a solid tank for any party. Couple this with the versatility of the Incarnate's Soulmelds, and the defenses you can put up, and this build shines in any combat. The entire idea is to be a solid tank.
While you lack the sheer offense of a Fighter or Barbarian, you can cover for them when the party needs you to. Multiattack and its Improved form will be a great help to your offense. Note that you also have a sub-optimal weapon for tripping. Disarming, however, is just fine for you.
I admit, they aren't as good as a devoted tank, but they really can cover for one.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 09:41:02 PM by Sinfire Titan »
In terms of sheer offense, the Totemist is rivaled only by Martial Adepts and Spellcasters. This class is the "Design your own Monster" class, and is unique to that respect by being one of the most balanced classes that grants natural weapons (the others being all spellcasters with access to Polymorph). But don't let that deter you from this class. Totemists are a nightmare in combat due to the sheer number of natural attacks they can make due to their Soulmelds, and their unique Totem Chakra is a very potent weapon to use. Sadly, they have few class features that don't involve Soulmelds, and as such they are vulnerable when caught with their pants down (do they even need to wear them?).
In spite of this weakness, their Soulmelds are the most versatile in terms of Binding locations, as all of them can be bound to at least 2 Chakras. This gives them a distinct customization to them rivaled by prepared casters; if one day goes by and you are bored of their current melds and abilities, rebind and reshape them into a new beast of destruction.
Continuing this guide, we look at everything the Totemist can bring to the table. The following will help you determine if the class is the right Meldshaper you want to play.HE WHO MAKES A BEAST OUT OF HIMSELF, GETS RID OF THE PAIN OF BEING A MAN!
Key Ability Scores for a Totemist
Strength: This is one of your many stats you will be wanting in the higher numbers. Second to Con, and above Dex, this is a key score to have as a Totemist. You will be getting into melee quite a bit, so the higher this is, the better.
Dexterity: Thanks to Shadow Blade and Weapon Finesse, this can replace your Strength score for virtually everything. This is a tertiary score though. Keep it above 11, and you will be set for the long-haul. Ask your DM if Natural Weapons count as unarmed strikes.
Constitution: Again, the key Meldshaper stat rears its head. With a d8 for HD, you will be wanting the HP a high Con score grants. Because you are more resilient than the Incarnate, you don't have to worry about Reflex saves as much, as you can take a Twinned Fireball and shrug off most of the damage.
Intelligence: Totemists have a lot of skill points to work with, but this is only important if you are going to cover the Skill Monkey roll (which you can look the part if you want to). Neglecting this may not be a bad decision, but I like playing characters who are a least able to string a sentence together, so don't just dump it outright.
Wisdom: If it weren't for your poor Will saves, this would be a priority dump stat. Seeing as you have need of a higher than average Wisdom score, you may want to put a good number here. If you are rolling stats, and have a little luck, you can easily manage a 13 or 14 in it. If you are using 32 PB, then put it at 12. Some of your Soulmelds will shore up your weakness too.
Charisma: Curb-stop this stat. The only use is if you plan on making Magical Beasts your pets via Diplomancy, and even then this is negligible. All but the Soulborn have this as a dump stat if you play by the MoI.
Hit Dice: d8. You can take a little punishment. But not nearly as much as you would like to. Still, this at least means you won't be on ice from a Shocking Grasp at 1st level, so it has a few perks.
BAB: Medium. Thankfully, you are more adept at hitting things that are pestering you. I get the feeling WotC didn't want to supercharge this class by making the entire thing into the same stats as a Magical Beast (d10, full BAB, two Good saves). If this instinct is correct, then try and talk your DM into fixing this and the Soulborn. Two of the Substitution Levels for the Incarnate upgrade Skill Points and HD, while none of the Totemist ones even touch either. I can see a fix of this class doing just that though.
Saves: Alas, where the Incarnate had to worry about Reflex, you have to worry about being Dominated. Literally. And no one wants the party's
Totemist being turned against them. Several feats and Soulmelds will help shore this weakness up. Good news, you have two good saves. This makes Gestalting very nice, as you can just choose Knight to upgrade everything you have but Skill Points. Not a bad deal there. I would personally use Crusader or Warblade for it though, or maybe the Duskblade (and go to town with Shocking Grasp).
So, in all the Totemist is probably the easiest to learn (due to the lack of class features), but has the hardest melds to figure out. Why play one? For the satisfaction of playing your own monster. This class literally is the "Be the Beast" class, and has several potent tricks up its sleeves (or lack thereof).
Still, it is somewhat more chocked than the Incarnate, which means you will have to make a lot of decisions yourself. Trust me, this class can be more trouble than a dog that hasn't been housebroken. In more than one way.
Sample Totemist Build
Warforged Totemist 8/Barbarian 2/Totem Rager 10
1st: Jaws of Death
Flaw 1: Expanded Soulmeld Capacity
Flaw 2: Cerulean Will
6th: Cobalt Rage
12th: Extra Rage
15th: Second Slam
18th: Double Chakra (Totem)
This build is a monster in combat. Even from level 1, it shows what true ferocity can be with a pair of attacks (Bite+Slam). As soon as you hit 2nd, your damage output triples with the Girallon Arms meld. At 3rd, your chances of hitting increase. At 6th, you gain the house of all houses: Cobalt Rage. From this point until 17th, you are taking levels in Totem Rager.
Dragontouched is there for the Dragon Tail Soulmeld, just shaping that thing gives you a tail attack, which can easily make the DM shiver a little. Binding it to your Waist Chakra grants you a nice increase to the damage from the tail, and a natural melee reach. An alternate route to conserve on Soulmelds is to drop Cerulean Will for Dragon Tail (Races of the Dragon) and swap Dragontouched with Expanded Soulmeld Capacity. This is less house-rules dependent, but more feat and item-intense.
Swap out the Fast Movement for Pounce via CC's Lion Totem variant. This easily breaks the combat wide open, as it allows you to dish out the damage on a Charge with ease.
Invest as much Essentia into the Tail and Girallon Arms as you can afford. Then make sure the rest is in Cobalt Rage. While not needed, Rage Claws do have a nice touch to them.
If you can afford the PB, Dragonborn is a nice way to get extra HP. And it opens up another trick: The Dragon Tail feat from races of the Dragon. At the cost of your Composite Plating (and possibly your two slams) you move the Tail attack up to 1st level, and even get a 2nd tail from the deal. Vicious doesn't even start to describe it.
A good item to have is the Shadow Hand Gloves from the Bo9S (and have the Assassin's Stance as the 3rd level maneuver it grants). Heavily debatable, but man does it hurt if it is allowed.
I leave out Rapidstrike and its older brother for a few reasons: 1) BAB requirements puts it at the later-levels when it won't make much of a difference, and 2) Wrong race.
Now, first impressions aside, I have had the pleasure of playing a Totemist (and have been recording its progress here
) and can proudly say that the class has some serious strength with the right build.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 09:38:33 PM by Sinfire Titan »
Sadly, I view the Soulborn as horridly underpowered for the purposes of this handbook. That being said, this
is a previously made handbook that has slipped into the obscurity of the Archives. If you are seeking help for optimizing a Soulborn, then that link contains everything you would need to do so. But, for the sake of this handbook, I will cover the Soulborn too.Preparation is the key to victory
Key ability scores for a Soulborn
Hit Dice: d10. As with the Paladin, you are one hardy Mother FuckerTM
BAB: The only full BAB Meldshaper base class in the entire existance of DnD, the Soulborn is on par with his other melee-based classes, at least when it comes to this. Smite+Full BAB+Power Attack=Good hit with extra damage.
Base Saves: Ah shit. Another high-Fort class with no bonus to Will and Full BAB. With no Divine Grace, you need to have some kind of backup for your Will saves at the lower levels.
So, that's it. If you want to play a Soulborn, you know what to focus on.
However, I would advise against doing this. From personal experience, the Soulborn itself can be outclassed by both of the other Meldshaper classes, and the Crusader alone does everything the Soulborn could dream of doing with the right feats. I have seen several people praising the class, but I for one see it as underpowered. There really is nothing it does that the other Meldshapers can't do better.
I've seen the potential for the class, and I am unimpressed. The hit to its Meldshaper level alone hinders its ability to use its Soulmelds as several of them offer saves (and thus need to bypass SR). While it may be able to take advantage of Shape Soulmeld, that feat isn't one they are able to select with their class bonus feats (as it itself isn't an Incarnum feat). This means they are spending something far more valuable than a bonus feat to do something another class all ready does (the Totemist alone takes the same advantages the Soulborn has, and does so without the alignment restrictions).
Its Smite feature is limited to 5-11 uses per day. What more, Smite doesn't affect a full-attack, something this class desperately needs to use just to keep up with other classes. Add in the poor support for it via PrCs and feats, and this class just gets the shaft. I can see someone trying to do a Charger build to play this class, but that is still out-shined by the Dungeoncrasher, the Lion Totemist, and even the Charging Smite builds.
Do take my advice for this one. It really is a weak class.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 09:29:10 PM by Sinfire Titan »
Prestige Classes and Multiclassing Options
This section of the handbook is devoted solely to the Prestige Classes that would benefit a Meldshaper, and to give tips for multiclassing with a Meldshaper.
The MoI is perhaps one of a few books that really forces you to make a choice when multiclassing. Almost everything the Incarnate and Totemist gets are dependent on them staying for the whole 20 levels. This, coupled with the fact that there isn't a single feat designed to alleviate multiclassing the way there is one for Ranger/Scout, Rogue/Swashbuckler, or even Paladin/Monk is one massive red light for multiclassing.
That being said, there are several classes that can benefit your Meldshaping advancement, and it may even be worth halting that entirely for certain classes (such as to attain 9th level spells).
So, let us begin the next section.Incandescent Champion
At a glance, this seems to be a hybrid of the Incarnate and Warlock. In fact, it is just another PrC with a fancy title.
Entry Requirements: Due to the minimum BAB of +6, Incarnates can never finish this class pre-Epic. Totemists, however, can enter with little effort, but they get little out of it. Soulborns, IMO, shouldn't be considered optimal for anything in this book, but they can make do with this PrC.
Honestly, the best way to enter it is the Dungeoncrasher Fighter or another full BAB class that can benefit from not advancing in 3 points of BAB and can afford losing 10 levels worth of class features. Martial Adepts can do much better than this PrC.
Incandescent Strike: Meh. If the feature provided a bonus to attack rolls too, then it would be blue. But it doesn't, so it only gets a Meh. As to the glowing like a torch, the Asherati all ready do that.
Fast Healing (Self): Everyone likes FH 4 for 10 rounds. Despite the limited number of uses you get from this feature, it is actually a decent thing to have. Technically, FH 0 will still stabilize you, so you don't need to invest if the fight is going to end the round you do so. Action Points (SRD, ECS) can make this a nice ability to have in emergencies. But with the printing of Complete Champion, and the single LA provided by the Feral template, this ability is quickly shone to the door.
The IC is unique with its Fast Healing in that it can share it with all adjacent allies at 7th level. After combat, this makes a nice way to take a little pressure off of the healbot. I've never seen a class feature that can heal so many people at once that wasn't a spell or horridly underpowered, so this is blue for that reason.
Unbearable Countenance: If this was like any other Gaze attack, it would be blue. But it isn't, so its not. Shaken is a crappy little debuff to have, but having it at will is somewhat ok. Considering the level you get this at happens around 9th, I'd say it could be better. The DC is low, which is another point to take off from it. Seriously, do they think being Shakened is really that huge of a penalty?
Incarnum Overload: If the duration on this feature were longer than one round, or the ability could be used more often, then this thing would get a gold star for being awesome. A 4 level dip can easily spell out doom for your opponents 1/day, and the fact that it is a free action to use is what makes it worth having. It is quite possible to boost your Cha above 30 by level 20, so a cap of 18 Essentia in any single Soulmeld, feat, or Class Feature is dangerous to have. Incarnates would love to have this for their Soulmelds, and the Totem Rager may want to grab this and a Belt of Magnificence to really abuse Cobalt Rage. The applications can get very deadly.
Incandescent Ray: This is nice to have at will. Makes you into a Warlock. The max you can get for this is about 5-15, which means it is nothing to sneeze at if you have no other ranged capabilities. Still, it isn't as powerful as it could be. Nice trick to catch someone off guard with though. Good follow-through for your Unbearable Countenance. Still weak though.
[COLOR="Blue"]Incandescent Aura[/COLOR]: Wow. 5d6 just for being adjacent to you. Now that is good. What more, you can exclude your allies from it. And you can easily make it 15d6 2/day. Daylight at will is nice to have too.
Incandescent Transcendence: This would be good if it were at will. Because it lasts for only a few rounds, and is only 1/day, it isn't blue.
Looking at it, this isn't a PrC that I want to work with for this handbook. The features, while mostly nice, can be imitated by a Warlock with the right feats. Because of this, the applications are limited, and optimizing it is going to be a pain.
When you first look at the class, you would easily wonder why a Meldshaper would slow their Essentia and Binds down for the sake of this class. In truth, you are right. Despite the class features it grants, this class is not meant for someone who wants to be a Meldshaper. Rather it is made for those who want a sort of Soulmeld Gish.
The easiest entry is debatable. But any Full BAB class can get in with ease.
Entry Requirements: Two ranks in a (generally) CC skill, and a BAB of +5 is it. Oh, and an alignment restriction. No big deal here. Warblade, Crusader, Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin, Soulborn, the list goes on. Fighter may like this, as it has some synergy with the Weapon Specialization tree. But that is somewhat sub-par.
Shape Blademeld: Nothing interesting about this. It really does nothing but improve your weapon's stats like a magic item. An extra 25 HP for your weapon is nice, but Legacy Weapons get more than that. But who's to say your Blademeld can't be a Legacy Weapon too? Sadly, you can't invest Essentia with just this class feature. And unlike the Totemist, it doesn't do a damn thing for your Essentia capacity.
Blademeld Chakra Binds: Despite having the fastest access to the Heart and Soul Chakras, one thing people commonly overlook is the fact that you can only bind the Blademeld to them, they are not open to all of your Soulmelds. Because of this, the abilities the class offers are limited, and it really isn't worth a damn thing. None of the bonuses provided by the Blademeld Chakra Binds are worth anything special. All of those same bonuses can be attained through feats, magic items, or Soulmelds.
Rebind Blademeld: Not worth a damn thing. really, not worth the level investment. Nice effort though.
Dual Chakra Binding: As with most of the class features this PrC grants, this is worth about a punch in the nuts. Jeez. Well, I didn't expect godhood from a 5 level PrC, and neither should you.
Looking at the class, it isn't worth anything. Because of how focused it is on a single feature, and the fact that you can't bind other Soulmelds to the Chakras it grants, this isn't even a good dip class. This needs a major oversight or overhaul to be playable, and if it happens then maybe the class can be good. Most people will miss the fact that they can't bind other Soulmelds to those Chakras they get. And the fact that it doesn't even advance your previous Meldshaping abilities means this class is more worthless than the Shining Blade of Heironeous. A bold claim, but those who do their research will agree with me.
This is one of the best PrCs in this book due to the synergy it has with Incarnate and Totemist. Despite the racial restriction on it, the entry is fairly easy, and all three Meldshaper classes can enter it with ease.
Entry Requirements: As I said in the Races section, Dwarf is a good choice for a Meldshaper. The Con bonus and access to this PrC is just too good to pass up. Dragonborn may, arguably, be a better choice just because they have the extra bump to their Con score, and they still qualify if Dwarf is used as the base. Craft is a class skill for all classes, so that is covered. And the ability to Shape Soulmelds is easily met by level 5.
Meldshaping: With 9/10ths progression of your Meldshaper abilities, and two good saves to boot, this class is hard to beat. So far, none of the PrCs we have looked at even touched your Meldhshaper level, though it can be completely irrelevant at times. Blue all the way baby.
Shield Bond: Good god! Look at all those resistances! At 20th level, that can easily be 25 to every energy type but Force. What more, it applies even when using a Dancing Shield. This leaves your hands free to go wallop the enemies with a nice, heavy weapon. Like yourself. Because you invest in it as though it were a Soulmeld and not a class feature, item, or feat, you can easily increase the resistances to around 30. And because it functions off of Essentia invested in the Shield itself, and not the class feature, you can use a Soulbound Shield to double-dip for an AC boost.
Secrets of the Forge: This is blue because Spellcraft is a class skill for all Meldshapers. Also, because your CL is 3x your Ironsoul Forgemaster level, not much is out of your reach for crafting. CC ranks in UMD allows you to use Scrolls instead of other casters to make items, and with one Soulmeld bound to a Chakra you can easily meet the DCs to use the scrolls you want. Hell, wands/Eternal Wands can be used too. A good trick to have.
Forge Lore: Meh. One dead level here or there isn't too bad. This bonus is not needed though.
Chakra Binds: The only bad part about this class is that it really hits your Chakra slots. 4/10, assuming you don't have any open. Less if you are an Incarnate or Totemist. But it does get the Heart Chakra by 15th instead of 16th for Incarnates, so it has some applications. It isn't godly, but then again, if it were this PrC may be a bit too strong.
Armor Bond: The fact that it stacks with the DR from Adamantine makes it decent. If it stacked with a Barbarian's DR, then I would be marking this as blue. Just like the Shield bond, it is treated as a Soulmeld, so you can get a nice AC boost and higher than normal DR.
Weapon Bond: Ouch! This is a nice trick to have. Soulbound Weapons are easy to make for you, and this can get the damage pretty high. Couple with PA, Cobalt Power, and maybe Cobalt Charge, and you can get the damage up there. It is up for debate if the Ancestral Relic feat, a new-found Legacy Weapon, or Soulmelds you shape are considered weapons you have crafted. If your DM rules yes, then Totemists can go to town with this. If not, Incarnates will still like it, and Totemists will be missing out on at least a claw attack.
So, this is the #3 PrC in the book, and the easiest to optimize. Why? Because everyone on these boards can tell you that crafting your own magic items is more cost effective than buying them from someone else. What's more, this PrC double-dips with the Armor, Shield, and Weapon bonds, all of which can give you incredible bonuses for just a few points of Essentia. I compare this class to another 9/10s PrC, the Fist of Raziel. At the loss of a single level of advancement, this PrC gives a nice payout, and is well worth the 1/10th. However, while I am comparing the two, I would like to say that they are not on the same power level. FoR is a spellcasting class. This alone puts it well above the Ironsoul Forgemaster. But think of Ironsoul Forgemaster as the FoR of the MoI, and you wouldn't be that far off.
An entire thread dedicated to optimizing this PrC can be found here
. That being said, good god, is it broken or what?
And now we move into the dual-advancement classes. At a glance, this PrC is a huge downgrade for a Cleric. d6 HD, poor BAB, one good save. But the truth is, it is a very tricky little class to have. Both Totemist/Ur-Priest and Cleric/Incarnate can enter this class with little effort. So, let's have a look.
Entry Requirements: 4 ranks in two skills, able to shape three melds, and able to cast 2nd level Divine spells (and access to the Law domain), with an Essentia Pool of three. The alignment restriction should actually read Any Lawful. But that is more or less irrelevant. The Lawful restriction means Incarnate/Ur-Priest doesn't work. But Totemist/Ur-Priest does. Good entry is any combo of Cleric and Incarnate that totals 10 levels (Cleric 9/Incarnate 1 for those who want 9th level spells), and Totemist 4 with either Binder 2, Hexblade 2, or Knight 2 with the Educated feat, and Ur-Priest 3/Contemplative 1.
Consultation: 3/level is nice, but the fact that you still pay the XP cost hurts it. Commune is a decent SLA to have, but really, this is mostly worthless. Still, not red.
Smite Chaos: Because it only does class level in extra damage, and relies on melee combat with a dual-advancement PrC, this ability is next to worthless. Still, some like it.
Favored of the Eidolon: The bonus to saves is limited, situational, and minor. But it is a bonus to saves against Transmutation effects. Meh.
DR: Adamantine is common, and it is so weak it almost isn't worth a damn thing.
Sapphire Body: Now we are talking! This is nice to have, and it is Ex to boot!
Timeless Body: And?
Looking at it, this PrC leaves a lot to be desired. But the entry requirements are so easy, it is laughable. Divine Power more than covers your lowly BAB. I'd say the Totemist route is the most potent, as their Meldshaping isn't dependent on too much Essentia or Chakra Binds other than the Totem bind. Too bad you have to spend feats to get new Chakras to bind to. Oh well, a deal is a freaking deal, and the Incarnum domain is wickedly good for any Meldshaper. If you focus solely on the Meldshaping, it is decent. But if you focus on your spellcasting, and use it like a Gish class, then you can do some real damage. Watch out for it.
I put these two in the same place because, really, they are almost the exact same thing. Soulcaster is probably better, due to Strongheart Vest+Sanctified Spell abuse.
Entry Requirements: Due to the fact that Meldshaping and spellcasting are two different things, Focused Specialist+Precocious Apprentice is a very optimal entry to this class. Also, with only a two-level dip, you have your Chakra bind. So you can focus mostly on your spellcasting. 6th level is the earliest you can enter (unless you cheese the Skill points requirement). The Phrenic version (Soulmanifester) has its own Optimization tricks with a few feats and Soulmelds, but I will be focusing on the Arcane version to conserve post-space.
Arcane Investment: Anything that pumps the DCs of your spells is nice. The fact that this stacks with Spell Focus makes it nice. But it is a bit expensive for a spellcaster to invest in so many spells, so only boost the ones that really need it. This combos well with Shadowcraft Mage, and you only need 7 levels in the class to get the best of it.
Chakra Binds: Too bad it doesn't grant the other 4 binds you lack. Otherwise this would be blue. But hey, it isn't half-bad to have more Chakra binds. Especially when you can get Spellward Shirt bound at 18th with a feat. Not a bad deal. Not the best though.
Magical Distillation: The duration is so short, it almost isn't worth it. Add in the fact that you have to expend your highest level spell slots to use it, and this is junk outright.
This is a nice PrC to have. With a Ring of Wizardry (3/4) and Focused Specialist, you can easily afford to keep several Soulmelds full for a combat or two. This class can get great mileage out of its spells. A good build is Wizard 1/Incarnate 2/Master Specialist 3/Soulcaster 4/Shadowcraft Mage 10, but it is very feat-intense. A very nice class because it can dodge the Ability Damage caused by Sanctified or Corrupt spells (hurray for being able to cast Rapture of Rupture without taking Strength damage!)
Now we move on to one of the most notable PrCs in the book. The Spinemeld Warrior does something that an entire base class wishes it could do: Win. Let's take a look at it.
Entry Requirements: Wow. Those are easy to get! This is very similar to Incandescent Champion (in fact, the two classes can be used together for a few levels).
Twin Spine Fighting: Not bad. Improved Rapidstrike for your Spine attacks. There may be some argument over if the "you can't use this with any other weapons" applies to manufactured ones or all (including natural), but it seems to be leaning towards manufactured.
Two-Weapon Fighting: This is a real improvement on the previous TWFing classes. It actually allows you to select something else if you all ready had the feat. Still, it is only a bonus feat.
Noble Familiarity: Meh. Bardic Knowledge for Lawful characters, effectively. Not good, but not bad either.
Spine Enhancement: Ouch! Since your spines are now treated as Soulmelds, you can get a huge enhancement to them with a little effort. Evil little bastards, huh?
Spine Rend: Should be a Pounce ability. Rend damage is only meh.
Chakra Bind: Aww, only one!? Still, the ones you can get are nuts to have on a TWFer. The fact that your Meldshaper level is equal to your class levels instead of half that is nice, seeing as you can really improve upon that. Too bad there isn't a dual-advancement PrC for Meldshapers only.
Adamantine Spines: This comes so late game, it is worthless.
So, this class has a little going for it, and a little against it. But this is a very balanced PrC, and it actually gets the job done when it needs to.
And now, we move into the broken territory. I may want to do a handbook just for this PrC! Totem Rager is really hardcore for optimization, despite its Medium BAB progression. I'll crack it open, and look at what makes it tick.
Entry Requirements: Wait, so 14 skill points, one feat, and a BAB of +5 is it? Aside from Rage+Totem Chakra binding, yes. Not all that bad.
Meldshaping: The double hit to your Meldshaping abilities hurts a little (total of 4 ML lost if you are Totemist 4/Barb 2). But the payoff is worth it. Any more loses of Meldshaping abilities would be a no-go. It is a bit of a stretch, but it is possible to talk someone into allowing you to get Double Totem Bind through this alone. If it happens, then this gets a huge boost in power. But it is a huge stretch, and you can live without it.
Totem Rage: Namesake ability is really good too. Bonus Essentia that can be easily increased via Bloodlines, and the ability to invest in Cobalt Rage without the 24 hour restriction.
Wild Empathy: Unless you are seriously going to make an animal-based Diplomancer, don't worry about this feature.
Extra Rage: Only one of it, so take the feat of the same name to improve upon it as soon as you can.
DR: If you could improve it by investing Essentia, then this would be somewhat decent. I'm not marking this as red though, because it says it stacks with other DR/-. Very little DR stacks, so this is a bonus.
Chakra Binds: With only a total of 7 Chakras to bind to, the Totem Rager is a bit hurt for binding abilities. But those 7 are all you will need.
Extended Rage: While it won't come into play that often, it is nice to have the little extra mileage.
Totem Chakra Bind (+1 capacity): Good thing this actually mentions it stacks! Most of the Totemist's melds affect only themselves, so while it helps, it isn't strictly needed. But it shores up on their lack of BAB, which is nice to have.
So, the class looks a little sub-par at a glance. But when you think about what you can do with all of the Totemist's Soulmelds, and the Lion Totem Barbarian ACF, this really becomes godly. Not as powerful as a Frenzied Berserker, but you can at least keep up for a while. A good follow-up to this PrC is Bear Warrior, though you will want a dip into FB to make up for the lost Rage benefits.
Moving on, we take a look at the Umbral Disciple, a PrC I have heard mentioned here numerous times. At a glance, you could almost mistake it for a Monk PrC. In truth, it is much easier to enter than a large number of Monk classes.
Entry Requirements: Those are all easily met through any number of 4+Int classes. And the Essentia can be attained via Azurin as the base race.
Essentia Pool: Extra Essentia never hurt anyone (but the dead guy). This class receives only 7 points over 10 levels, but a single level dip nets a single point and a class feature to invest it in.
Sept Knowledge: Now, the primary use of this will come from Knowledge Devotion making up for your 3/4 BAB, but otherwise this will see little play.
Step of the Bodiless: All but one of those skills is a designated favored skill of several ToB disciplines, and each of those skills can come into play at any given time during a game. Never underestimate bonuses, but this doesn't need to be a focus for all of your Essentia unless you know you will be making every one of those skill checks. Meh.
Sneak Attack: Who doesn't like free Sneak Attack dice?
Embrace of Shadow: This is a neat trick to have if you can pump the Essentia to insane levels. The most you can get pre-Epic is around 50% concealment, but it will be like having a Su Persistent Displacement on yourself. Stealth builds will love the fact that it bypasses True Seeing (as you are only gaining concealment and making a Hide check). This almost beats the Dark template.
Eyes of the Sightless: Blindsight is hard to get around. It is even harder to get it permanently on your character. 50ft is a good range for it too.
Soulchilling Strike: I may catch some flak for this, but the ability really isn't that good. Str damage means Undead and Constructs are immune outright, it can only ever be 5 points at a time, you need 5 Essentia to get that 5 damage, and the DC scales miserably. And it only works 1/round. Craptastic.
Kiss of the Shadows: It only lasts during your turn, but extend reach is a really good thing to have. This is an ability worth having for something like Whirlwind Attack, or even Adamantine Hurricane (if you can get it).
Looking at it, it isn't a bad class in the least. This is one of the good PrCs to take for skill monkey builds.
I look at this PrC, and cringe a little inside. That is a huge chunk of your Meldshaper advancement it is eating. I recommend rethinking this PrC, or asking for an improvement to the advancement.
Entry Requirements: Ok, let me just set the record here. You want 14 skill points (possibly more, as some of those are CC skills for Soulborn and Incarnate), two bum steer feats, a 6 level investment into a base class at the least, and no spellcasting ever, for d6 HD, 4+Int/level, one good save, 3/4s BAB, and four sharp kicks into my Meldshaper advancement? I'm all ready hating this class.
Meldshaping: Four. That's right, you lose 4 Meldshaper levels. Totem Rager loses two. Soulcaster, well, they lose two Caster Levels at the least. This class alone costs you 4 Meldshaper levels. Ouch. And the class doesn't even grant Chakra binds. This is not a good way to make your class. The BAB isn't worth it for Incarnates, Totemists can be better magic-haters with one Soulmeld, and Soulborns can't even finish the PrC until Epic.
Detect Magic: At will Detect Magic is handy, but not a really good ability.
Meldshield: Cool. Hexblade 2 gives Cha to all saves against spells/SLAs. This requires Essentia, and is limited to a +5 bonus at 20th. You can easily get a +20 from Hexblade/Paladin of Tyranny (Slaughter), or other classes. And +10 of that can apply against everything.
Royal Purse: Do you know how much gold the average nobleman has at any given point in the year that he can freely spend as he chooses according to DMG 2? 1000 GP. A drop in the bucket at this level. And you get this ability 1/level, not day.
Dispelling Orb: Neat little trick. It has three key problems though:
1: Dispel Magic, as the spell, is limited to a +10. At ECL 20, you aren't going to dispel s*** with this.
2: Meldshaper Level took a hit all ready, and this ability is ML-dependent.
3: The insight bonus caps at 4, which means you are SOL against high CLs.
Essentia: Oh look, something worth having. This class could have just increased your Meldshaping abilities instead of granting more Essentia, as it really would do the same damn thing.
Mages Shackles: You know those problems with the Dispelling Orb? Replace the first one with "It is a melee touch attack", and you have my opinion on this feature. At 20th level, if you are an Incarnate, your BAB will be 12. Totemist? 14. Touch AC is easy to hit, but both of those classes have a problem with their AC and low HP, which means you aren't going to be using this to shut down a Pit Fiend Blasphemy lock. Plus, you are using it on Arcane spellcasters who have access to higher AC bonuses than most others. And you have to overcome SR without a Practiced Meldshaper feat existing and the -4 ML.
Word of Abrogation: Should have been subsumed into the Dispelling Orb in the first place. This suffers the same consequences as that ability, save for the Dispel Magic cap.
Spiritflay: While you get a similar effect from Dissolving Spittle, this is untyped damage. They get a save instead of Touch AC, and the DC is decent for a change. The damage is pitiful though. Nauseating them is a good tactic.
Grim Integument: Aside from being able to suffocate them, this ability is almost junk. About 11 uses/day though, which is the average you can normally get without CO's help. But the DC is so low it almost isn't worth trying.
As I said before, this class gives off the stench of weaksauce. This is a pitiful Meldshaper PrC option.
So, a few tips on multiclassing with a Meldshaper:
- Weigh your options. If you are only a level away from a new Chakra Bind, Soulmeld, or a new class feature, then only multiclass if what that other class offers is better than the abilites you could be getting
- BAB is really a non-issue with Totemists or LN Incarnates. It is even very viable to go all the way to 20 with those classes and never miss a single point if you take the right feats.
- In general, the class features a PrC offers are less-important than your Soulmelds. Fill Soulmelds you will be using all day first, Features second, and feats last.
- Skill Points are not a needed thing for Incarnates. They can be perfect skill monkeys without 6+Int skills.
- If it doesn't advance your Meldshaping, only take it if it offers spells or maneuvers. Those are worth something. Feats are not however.
- Like spellcasting, slowing your Meldshaper progression is a bad idea. Unlike spellcasting, you can afford to slow it a little if what is being offered more than makes up for it.
- No PrC offers full Meldshaper advancement. Even the Sapphire Heirarch and Soulcaster lose at least three levels from their Meldshaping just to meet entry requirements. This is a sad game we play, where the very book these classes come in doesn't even give full advancement for them in a single PrC.
- Flavor is always mutable.
The MoI received almost as much support as the CW Samurai (next to nothing). This fact limits you to only a handful of books when making a multiclassing Meldshaper. I highly suggest convincing your DM to allow some of the Home Brew PrCs for it here
Inventing a new PrC for a Meldshaper is somewhat a problem too. I can't cover anything home brew, as not all DMs will even look at the classes with any serious consideration. Due to this, they are excluded from this handbook.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2008, 01:28:42 PM by Sinfire Titan »
Items to Consider
This section of the handbook will cover both Magic Items, and Soulmelds. It will be an in-depth look at virtually every item in the DMG and MiC, and a close-up of the Soulmelds presented in Magic of Incarnum and Dragon Magic.
Obviously, Optimizers will love custom-made magic items. They know the potential of turning spells into items, and know how to do this effectively. This section isn't for those who do know this and can easily create such items. This is the place for people who have very little idea on what to purchase.
Before we begin, I do have something of a common sense ruling to mention here: Soulmelds are innately magical effects. This is notable because they all allow spell resistance if they affect someone other than yourself (melds such as the Incarnate Weapon, most Totemist Soulmelds, and dissolving Spittle affect you, despite dealing HP damage to an opponent, as they grant you something that you didn't have before). Due to this, logic dictates that all Soulmelds overcome DR/Magic as though they were the result of a spell if the Soulmeld grants a weapon (be it natural or otherwise). Also, Soulmelds are somewhat tangible items. They can be suppressed and even enhanced by certain spells. And even some outside effects can be applied to them, such as Vow of Poverty's Weapon Enhancement, or the Kensai's Signature Weapon. Debate this all you desire, the fact stands that Soulmelds are magical.Items of the DMG
Items of the MiC
- Armor Enhancements: While you will be most certainly wearing armor (unless you have Vow of Poverty), some may or may not be useful to you. In general, if the enhancement offers something a Soulmeld you can shape or bind does, then it won't be worth it unless you want to conserve on Essentia/Chakra slots. Of all of them in the DMG, the following stand out as very useful to a Meldshaper:
- Animated: An Animated shield is your best friend, Totemists. Incarnates will love having an extra hand on their Incarnate Weapon.
- Fortification: While a Soulmeld does indeed offer this effect, you are better off buying it over Binding it.
- Ghost Touch: Touch AC is good to keep around Incorporeal opponents. Expensive, but worth the investment.
- Weapon Enhancements: Both Totemists and Incarnates have little need for a weapon, but in the case of certain foes it is best to have one handy. Of them all, look into the following enhancements, and specific weapons when flipping through the DMG:
- Alignment qualities: Anarchic, Axiomatic, Holy, and Unholy are almost obvious for an Incarnate to have. Warforged would do well to have their Slams or a Battle fist enchanted with these qualities if they are the right alignment. Note than Anarchic and Axiomatic can be applied to the same weapon at no penalty to the wielder if the wielder is Neutral on that axis. Getting your DM to allow this for (Un)Holy will be a bit tricky, but RAW says nothing against it.
- Brilliant Energy: While normally it is never considered for a melee's primary weapon, it does have a double duty. It can be both a torch and a solid back-up from your natural weapons (and Incarnate Weapon). Normally, it sucks. But having one can offset your low BAB against armored foes that are alive. Note that a Warforged is technically immune to this weapon's ability, which can allow for shenanigans with it while wielding one.
- Dancing: This is a nice property to have to double your attacks. See also the Fleshgrinding property from the BoVD. The low BAB is a problem, but Totemists will love it.
- Defending: Battle fists, and amulets of natural attacks can both use this quality for improving upon a low AC. Works great in conjunction with Greater Magic Weapon for Soulcasters and Sapphire Hierarchs.
- Energy (and Burst): Not worth it. The damage they give is pitiful, and easily ignored.
- Ghost Touch: Incarnates have the Crystal Helm binding effect to negate the need for this, but Totemists get nothing of the sort without the Shape Soulmeld feat. Better to spend gold than a feat slot.
- Speed: When you have a ton of Soulmelds, sometimes you can't spare the boots slot for Boots of Speed. This makes up for it, a little bit at a time.
- Wounding: While this is your nightmare, it is also your best friend. Perfect for shutting down an enemy Meldshaper, Wounding is also the requirement for a similar enhancement in the BoVD.
- Dwarven Thrower: Ironsoul Forgers can craft this weapon themselves, which makes it a perfect back-up for them. The only problem is it is a Martial weapon, and Incarnates don't get MWP.
- Luck Blade: Aside from the Wishes, this is a nice weapon for TWFing Lawful Incarnates. The bonuses stack with almost every Soulmeld in the book.
- Oathbow: CN Elven Incarnates (why are you playing one?!?!) will appreciate the improved attack bonuses this provides.
- Sun Blade: Not a bad item to have, if you are a Totem Rager.
- Rings: The only slot no one can bind Soulmelds to is this. So this makes for a perfect way to get some extra bonuses in. Of these, the following Core rings are useful to you:
- Djinni Calling: Extra Gate effects for those who need an ally.
- Elemental Command: The effects they provide are a decent benefit, but they are a tad expensive to use. The Charm effect is a nice trick to have, but the DC is a little low. Good for making allies though.
- Evasion: Always nice to have.
- Rods: A number of Rods will have a serious impact on what you can do. The fact that they aren't slotted means you don't have to worry about Chakra Binds with them. These are a nice set of Rods to have:
- Alertness: Animate Objects 1/day is good help for anyone. The fact that it doubles as a Mace is better. And the spells it lets you use are decent to have.
- Cancellation: A bane to everyone, especially Meldshapers. Multiple of these will shut down an enemy Meldshaper.
- Lordly Might: Great back-up weapon.
- Security: When in doubt, hide like a child. This effect also heals Essentia damage at a faster rate than normal, so in case of emergency: Pop Rod.
- Staves: Due to the Mage's Spectacles, it is possible to get a nice amount of use out of these. The price is crap though. Custom Staves are the way to roll. None of them in the DMG are worth their price, save for the Staff of Power (you know, just for the threat of having one).
- Wands: Never a bad option for replacing the party Arcanist, wands have a distinct advantage when custom-made. Soul Boon and Suppress Magic are great combat-options. Hope you know an Artificer!
- Wondrous Items: It is surprising how many of these are trash. But I will go through at tell you what ones are the best to have. In general, the ones that give you an enhancement bonus to an ability score are best not being used. Get a Belt of Magnificence to conserve Chakra slots.
- Monk's Belt: This is a great item for Incarnates who don't take VoP. Totemists get less of a benefit from it, but they still may want one.
- Manuals/Tomes: Your Con score can never be high enough. Pump as many scores as you need to get the campaign done.
Items of Note
The MiC is the next best source for Magic Items. I am intentionally leaving out sources like the Eberron or Forgotten Realms splatbooks, to conserve text.
- Armor: As above, the MiC opens up a huge list of abilities to put on armor. The following are a few of the good ones for a Meldshaper:
- Blurring, Greater: The concealment this provides is enough to save your ass in a tight spot. The price is a little much though.
- Freedom: For a low, low price of a +5 enhancement, you will never have to worry about your crappy BAB during a grapple.
- Healing: Vital if you don't have a healer in your party, and even better if you do.
- Soulbound: If you can spare the Essentia, this will easily triple in value. Don't bother with the Binding effects though.
- Weapons: As I said in the DMG part, you may not need a weapon at all. Still, good to have a back-up. The specific weapons in the MiC are better than most of the DMG ones.
- Acidic/Corrosive: Acid damage is hard to ignore. This makes it better than the elemental ones in the DMG.
- Brash: Put this on an Amulet, and a Totem Rager may be able to Rage all day long (depending on how your DM rules about the effect being on multiple natural weapons). This argument may or may not be similar to the Nightstick argument.
- Brutal Surge: Bull Rushing is a good way to get Battlefield Control.
- Collision: Totemists love it for a reason!
- Fleshgrinding: It was updated. This is always nasty for your back-up weapon.
- Implacable: Normally, I wouldn't even consider this a viable option. But Totemists can make so many attacks each round, that this easily becomes a house.
- Metalline: Pesky damage reduction no more!
- Psychokinetic Burst: The extra damage is Force, and is impossible to ignore. Great for a back-up.
- Screaming Burst: Sonic damage is the single energy type that has almost no creatures immune to the effects.
- Shattermantle: Reducing the enemy's SR means your spellcasting allies will love you more.
- Sizing: Totemists, prepare to break this enhancement.
- Soulbound: The greater version of this allows you to bypass DR/Epic if the normal enhancement is high enough.
- Transmuting: Much better than Metalline, for those who can afford it.
- Warning: Get this! It is your key to victory!
- Clothing: Very little will actually have an impact on what you can do. Of note, the Essentia Helm and Incarnum Focus items are worth their weight and effect.
- Tools: The tools section is best used when you have purchased every item you plan on using on a regular basis. These items are not needed, but very helpful. Obviously, what is good here will vary on a case-by-case basis, so I can't possibly cover everything. A rule of thumb is if it is too situational for you to use more less once/week, don't buy it. You will be better off with Soulmelds. Notable items are Eternal Wands, Psychoactive Skins, and the Rod of Viscid Globs all make for great items to have on you while adventuring. Use your best judgment on what items you will and will not need.
Very few sources have magic items worth noting for a meldshaper, but there are a few items that are just plain old useful no matter who you are.Beast Claws (from Savage Species)
: This item, along with it's bigger brother (the Necklace of Natural Attacks) just breaks the Totemist. For those who don't have SS, here's an online version.
These items are powerful because they improve your damage output dramatically. They allow you to add special abilities to your natural attacks. A bit pricey (especially the Necklace), but if you can afford them or get them crafted by an Artificer, you're set. THings like Collision are always a good idea, though try to shy away from things like Flamming (no matter how awesome it looks).
Moving on, we come to the Wine and Cheese of the MoI: Soulmelds. These are effectively very potent magic items, each one capable of something you will enjoy having access to. I will list them alphabetically, and rate their effects so you won't have to.
Acrobat Boots: Useful for when you are trying to fulfill the Skill Monkey shtick. Leave them unbound, as you can just get a fly speed or be Dragonborn and have automatic Slow Fall.
Adamant Pauldrons: The main reason this is good is if you are not a Warforged, these will be like having Light Fortification at 1st level. Once you hit about 7th-9th, they become junk, as you can just buy the Fortification enhancement.
Airstep Sandals: For the Incarnate, this is the fastest way to get a Fly speed. The limited movement hurts a little, but it is a very effective way to get around when you need the mobility. At third level, you can easily have a Fly speed of 30ft. Binding them is a bit iffy. It relies on the DM's interpretation of the effect. If he rules that you can continue flying, despite what the Meld says above, then bind it. If not, leave it unbound.
Ankheg Breastplate: Crappy armor bonus that is easily outdone, and a limited breath weapon that loses to the Dragonborn (or every Soulmeld that grants a breath weapon) means that this almost isn't worth a damn thing. The bite attack is strong though. If you are shaping this for the Bite attack, only invest in it when you need the extra damage. Otherwise never shape this meld.
Apparition Ribbon: The unbound ability is meh, as the Crystal Helm gives your weapons and attacks the Force tag, but the Incorporeality is hard to beat. The limited duration means you will only be using this for infiltration, which makes it perfect for a Skill Monkey/Thief focus. Also, in case of emergency, you can easily escape the fray with it.
Arcane Focus: Worse than the Warmage's Edge, but it stacks with the Edge. The Chakra bind effect gives everything a saving throw, so shenanigans can be pulled if you know how to abuse that. And Stunning them with every spell that hits is ok. The limit to DD spells hurts it. Only shape it if you are playing Battlefield Control and have the spell slots to spare.
Armguards of Disruption: They are so limited, it isn't funny. This meld is junk. The damage is pitiful, only happens 1/round, and the AC bonus is garbage. They dropped the ball on this one. Even in a Ravenloft setting, I would rather eat my own foot than bind or shape this meld.
Basilisk Mask: Oh this is so evil! The DC is meek, but at will Flesh to Stone is mean! If they ever fail the save, then it denies them their next turn's worth of action. What more, if your party has an adamantine weapon, it can easily spell game over. And it comes so early in the game, it is easily valuable.
Beast Tamer Circlet: If you know you will be fighting animals or Magical Beasts, this can prove itself worth something. Don't keep it shaped though, only have it if you know you will be using it.
Behir Gorget: While it suffers similar restrictions to the Ankheg Beastplate, this meld actually provides you with an Energy Resistance of 5-35 points. This keeps it from being red.
Blink Shirt: Great for mobility, and it even has a defensive mechanic to help you out. I wouldn't bother binding it to your Totem unless you also have the Threefold Mask bound to it too, as then you could Teleport and make 3 attacks at your leisure.
Bloodtalons: The Rage Claws are better for their Diehard effect, but the Totem and Hand binds are worth something.
Bloodwar Gauntlets: The bonuses to attacks and damage is a little on the weak side, but the explosion is nice seeing as you can easily get it up to 24d6. The radius on it is low, but it is a nice emergency attack. But you really shouldn't bind it to your arms unless you know what you are doing. The hands bind sucks for Evil Incarnates, as their Incarnate Weapon has a low chance of hitting.
Bluesteel Bracers: Shaping them is a good bonus. The Init and damage increase is always nice to have. DOn't bother binding them unless you are a Spinemeld Warrior though, as that part is pitiful.
Brass Mane: At the lower levels, the throat bind is ok. At higher levels, it loses power dramatically. The bite attack is standard.
Cerulean Sandals: Blink Shirt>>>This meld.
Crystal Helm: The deflection bonus this provides is second only to an Epic Ring of Protection. The resistance bonus to Will saves is somewhat nice. But the key behind this is the early-access to the Crown Chakra. Giving every one of your attacks the Force tag means that they hit Incorporeal beings and Ethereal enemies easily, which shuts down a nice number of escape routes. I consider this a standard Chakra bind and a nice way to pump your stats.
Daidem of Purelight: Unless your intent is to **** off the Drow, this really isn't worth it. Note that it affects you too, so you don't benefit from any concealment.
Disenchanter Mask: This is a mean attack to have! The Totem bind shuts down magic items for a few minutes. If you can get the drop on the opponent, this will spell out their doom!
Displacer Mantle: The primary use of this is to get Hide bonuses and Concealment. The tentacles are nice, but you do have better natural weapons out there.
Dissolving Spittle: This is a nice weapon for NE and CN Incarnates. They can easily boost the attack rolls/damage to a good number, and Acid is one of the hardest things to resist in the game. 8d6 is pitiful, but 16d6/round with a good chance of hitting or dealing extra damage is nice!
Dread Carapace: Think of it as a limited form of Power Attack. The Chakra bind effects are ok, but you have better options for it.
Enigma Helm: SR versus Divinations is nice. The bonus to Will is good. Immunity to Charm effects means you can shut down some of the standard means of controlling you.
Fearsome Mask: Awe, how cute. They tried to make the Soulborn good. Too bad Shaken is a negligible penalty.
Fellmist Robe: The best offense is a good defense, you know? This can get you a concealment of 50% easily. One of the greatest parts about fighting with it active is the satisfaction that half of their attacks will always miss.
Flame Cincture: Just more proof that fire sucks and people shouldn't be using it. This can get about 50 points of resistance, which may as well be immunity to most effects. 20d6 of Fire damage is about an average of 70 points of damage/round. This cuts that down to about 20 points, so you can almost swim in lava and get away with it. Not much deals more than 15d6 of fire damage, so you are pretty damn safe. Don't keep this shaped all the time though.
Frost Helm: As above, but for cold. Oh, and only 40 points of resistance, so not as good. The ray effect is nice though. And the stunning has its advantages.
Girallon Arms: If there is a reason to take Multiattack, here it is. This meld can get you 4 attacks at minimum as early as 2nd level. 5 if Skarn and 6 if Warforged with Jaws of Death. This is a nice Soulmeld to have.
Gloves of the Poisoned Soul: This, on the other hand, is not. So many things are immune to poison, and the damage this can get is only 3-4 points of Wisdom damage, only 1/round, and the DC is horridly low. Talk about a turkey. Plus, it is a Soulborn meld, which means it is a piece of junk long before you can shape it.
Gorgon Mask: The best part about this is the breath weapon, and you can live without that. Trampling them is, in general, worse than taking a full attack, as you only get 1d6+1.5 Str. Not much. And, it isn't a natural weapon, so it doesn't benefit from the Totem Avatar. Not good, but not entirely bad either.
Great Raptor Mack: Evasion at the cost of your Totem bind is pretty weak. If you want Evasion that badly, consider Shape Soulmeld (Impulse Boots), which also nets you Uncanny Dodge and an improved Reflex save.
Heart of Fire: Wow, this is really bad. Don't bother with it, as Fire damage sucks.
Hunter's Circlet: Rangers do the tracking, not you!
Illusion Veil: Not too shabby. The bind effect is worth the slot if you know what you are up against.
Impulse Boots: At the low, low cost of your boots, you always have Uncanny Dodge and Evasion, and a nice bonus to your Reflex saves. That, and you can qualify for PrCs that require either at the cost of one or two feats.
Incarnate Avatar: This is one of the meanest melds in the book. With the Soul bind, you can get quite a bit of mileage from a single Soulmeld. The Essentia effects are all worth-while. Leaving it empty is a bad idea, as no effects are granted unless you either Bind it or invest Essentia.
Incarnate Weapon: The bonuses this can get are near-Epic, and it can stun your opponents with the Chakra bind effect. Not a bad deal. The Incandescent Champion PrC can get the bonus up by massive numbers, which makes for an excellent offense or defense.
Keeneye Lenses: For when you really need that constant True Seeing/See Invisibility, with a nice bonus on Spot checks.
Kraken Mantle: The uses behind this meld vary from game to game, but it does have a few.
Krenshar Mask: The Totem Bind isn't practical, but it is a nice bonus to skill checks.
Kruthilk Claws: More skill bonuses, and a very difficult to resist energy damage on the claws it grants. Double Chakra the Totem bind, and shape this with the Girallon Arms for a nice damage output increase (the rules say nothing on how the effects interact, so your DM may rule against this).
Lamia Belt: The Evil tag is a nerf, the bonuses overlap with several other Soulmelds, the Spring Attack feat sucks for Totemists, and you can get much better claws from something else.
Lammasu Mantle: The deflection bonus needs to scale a little better, but the bonus to saves, the Shoulder bind, and the Arms bind are nice to have. Couple the Shoulders bind with a Reach weapon.
Landshark Boots: The Girallon Arms is better, seeing as you can make a full attack with all 4 claws unhindered. The damage difference is marginal. I'd put them about even with the Arms, but I like 4-handing a Greatsword more than jumping on someone's face.
Lifebond Vestments: For those who can't see the healing loop in this meld, I'll spell it out for you. You hit an ally for as much healing as it is safe for you to use, and then keep using it until they are at 1 HP away from full (or you are 1 HP away from 0). It allows you to shift the damage from others to yourself, and with the Heart bind it allows you to get back up to near full without any healing spells.
Lightning Gauntlets: My gripe with them is that it doesn't affect a full attack in the least. The damage is also electricity, and means it is the third most common resisted energy type.
Lucky Dice: If it granted a higher bonus for every point of Essentia, it would be great. But it is only meh.
Mage's Spectacles: Artificers love it. Incarnates can use it to mimic the spellcasting classes as good as (or better than) the Rogue, but they may need a little more than just the Soulmeld to do so.
Manticore Belt: Flyby Attack and a nice natural weapon to use with it? Oh, and more skill bonuses. Nice meld, very effective on its own.
Mantle of Flame: While the effect is nice, the damage is fire, it is pitifully small, and it doesn't help against Ranged attacks. There are better options for your Chakra slots.
Mauling Gauntlets: Not too shabby. The bonus really should apply to natural weapons too though.
Necrocarnum Circlet: Free minions! Get your free minions! Works great with Soulcasters!
Necrocarnum Mantle: Considering that an Eternal Wand of Remove Disease is cheap, immunity to Mind-Affecting spells can be attained through a simple item or the Crystal Helm meld, and that immunity to poison is overrated, I'd say this fails.
Necrocarnum Shroud: While it is situational, the ability to bestow Negative Levels is a great way to debuff something. It is late-game, but very nice for what it does.
Necrocarnum Touch: It is ok, but the fact that it is useless against undead and constructs is points off of its usefullness.
Necrocarnum Vestments: Looks like they really couldn't make up their minds about this meld. The Heart bind is a nice trick, and the Waist bind is somewhat decent, but the bonus HP and Cold resistance isn't worth writing home about.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2009, 09:51:37 PM by Sinfire Titan »
Nice. I love Incarnum, so I'm GLaD to see some love for it beyond the Totemist.
I hate mouth breathing fuckwits who go around spouting lies, even after being corrected on those lies, and that bait mods into helping to defend their wrongness and fail. I also hate the MBFs that don't understand the meaning of words, and that can't get a fucking clue.
Hey! I like spouting lies. It's very entertaining to observe how people on the internet are buffing their small egos by declaring victories over some stupid MBFs.
Also - I hate people who use too smart words that I don't understand.
Go fuck yourself, because others won't do it for you.
Stop flirting you two.
bump for completion.
Good to see this great handbook over here, SiFir
"Weakness? Come test thy mettle against me, hairless ape, and we shall know who is weak!"
You caught a fish. It was awesome.
Very nice !
If you have a TODO list somewhere... add to it "Finish the critique of the soulmelds" ! I know you're busy right now.
I'd help but I'm not knowledgeable about Incarnum at all.
Silanah heard their songs and prayers. And she watched. Sometimes mortals did indeed forget. Sometimes, mortals needed… reminding…
The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Steven Erikson
Very nice !
If you have a TODO list somewhere... add to it "Finish the critique of the soulmelds" ! I know you're busy right now.
I'd help but I'm not knowledgeable about Incarnum at all.
I kinda let that slip into the background during the huge wait...
The Variant section is somewhat more important than the Soulmelds, IMO.
Is it about homebrew variants or ones from the book (I don't have it with me) ? If the former, I advocate to finish dealing with the WotC stuff before going farther afield.
Silanah heard their songs and prayers. And she watched. Sometimes mortals did indeed forget. Sometimes, mortals needed… reminding…
The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Steven Erikson
Is it about homebrew variants or ones from the book (I don't have it with me) ? If the former, I advocate to finish dealing with the WotC stuff before going farther afield.
The book and UA, specifically.
So, I've found that totemists are the one of the only things in the game that can really grapple. I mean really grapple.
Feral human totemist 19. There's the build to out-grapple almost everything. Feral gives you claws, but you loose out on fast healing and such because you don't have monstrous hitdie. For that, make a feral anthropomorphic crocodile. 2 hd, 1 la, pure wut? If you go croc, dipping swordsage 2 might be an option to knock up ac, but you keep pushing off binding better chakra by dipping. Your goal is to get the shoulder chakra bind fast for Phase cloak. Going ethereal while you move to grapple casters is good. Very good. Don't forget that since grapple is in place of an attack, once you have 6 bab you can grab-> pin on the same turn if you full attack. Fun.
Feral synergizes well with the enhancement bonuses and claws you get from GA soulmeld. Use your amulet of natural attacks to give them things that are fun, like you know, mage bane and collision?
I stated one out to 9 once as a potential back up character, he looks like (ignore the stats, I rolled really well)
Feral Human totemist 9
24(28) str 14 dex 18 con 11 int 16 wis 12 chr
BaB: + 6; HP 9d8+36; F 10 (6+4) R (6+2) W (3+3) Speed 40;
AC 28 ( 2 dex 6 armor 10 na 0 shield 0 deflection)
Grapple: +39 (6 bab 9 str 6 mauling gaunt 10 girallon’s arms 4 feat 4 totem avatar)
Flaw shaky –2 ranged attacks, (choose one: Inattentive?)
Feats: 1 improved grapple 1(h) multi attack 1(f)Expanded soul meld: Mauling Gauntlets 1(f)Expanded Soulmeld capacity : Girallon’s arms 3 Split Chakra: hands(or belt if you are going belt of magnificence) 6 Extra Essentia 9 Improved natural attack(claws); (future feat suggestions of mulit-grab/ improved multi-grab double chakra bind?)
Skills: Spot12 +15 Listen12 +15; swim 5+ 14; Tumble6 +8;
+18(6 bab 4 enhancement 8 str) claw, 2d6+17(8 str, +4 enhancment +5 enchant) x2
+16(6 bab 4 enhanement 8 str –2 off) claw 1d6+13 (4 str 4 enhancement 5 enchant) x2
Essentia: 8(6class +2 feat) 4 Girallon’s arms, 2 mauling gauntlets, 2 wyrmtail belt
Girralon’s arms: arms Bound to totem
Mauling Gauntlets: hands
Totem Avatar: Feet Bound here
Wyrmtail belt: waist
Phase Spider Cloak: shoulders
Items: Necklace of natural attacks +1 collision (16k), +1 Mithral Breastplate(?) Gauntlets of strength +4 (16k)
Incarnum focuses are great investments at mid-high levels
*though I don't remember it, there's some armbands in MiC that give +8 grapple for several rounds a couple times/day. You probably want to buy several pair to rotate through in between encounters.
Snapshot @ 1: HP 12 - not bad AC 24(4 armor (chain shirt) 8 natural 2 dex), - you ain't getting hit.
2 claws +6, 1d8+6, grapple 14;
You are good in melee combat and most monsters don’t stand a chance against your grapple, unless you meet ogres. Grapple then pin medium or smaller enemies and just shred the big ones;
* note: level 2 is tough on you, no HD. Be careful to move without provoking, etc. You aren't a force yet, but if you get into a grapple, you will own them.
Snapshot@5 HP ~48 24 AC (4 armor, 8 natural 2 dex)
2 claws +12 1d8+9 2 claws +10 1d4+5; Grapple 24; Now you really can grapple ogres. Feel free to grapple large creatures, as you *should* win. Against things with low DR, pin and rape with your claws in a matter of rounds. You should be able to chew through even dr 10/- with your main attacks, it'll just take a while.
Items: +2 str gauntlets
Snapshot @ 10 hp ~100 28 ac Claws at +18/+16 for 2d6+17/1d6+13; Grapple +39
You can grapple huge things well, you have a very good chance against gargantuan. You have 4 attacks per turn with enough to reliably punch dr 15/-