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Author Topic: [Expert Class & Featchain] The Soulknife  (Read 551 times)
Mutt
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« on: June 19, 2015, 07:15:20 PM »

This concept requires a special thanks towards a couple of other Forumites who got the creative juices flowing. Thank you Deral for being the original creator of the Soulknife BMS chain, which kicked this whole thing off the ground and whose feats I modified to better-fit the rules. A big thanks to Big_Jim for his help with other homebrew, it gave a nice jumpstart looking at some ways that he's twisted the system while still staying within the boundries. Khaalis' own Spell Thief class actually put a kernal-of-idea in my head for a class of this kind, and I thank them for it. Anyway, off to the show!

Inspirations: Soulknife Base Class (Psionics Handbook, TOG), Psylocke (Marvel Comics), Jedi Order (Star Wars), Archer and Gilgamesh (Fate/Stay Night), The Crystal Gems (Steven Universe), Shanoa (Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia), and others.

SOULKNIFE (EXPERT)

(click to show/hide)

Soulknives are a unique brand of warrior, able to call weapons and gear from seemingly out of thin air. His ability often catches his foes by surprise, as they can never be sure as to whether or not he is truly 'unarmed'. With their powers, the only thing stopping a Soulknife is their own imagination.

Depending on your campaign, a Soulknife could be...
   A monastic warrior who has quite literally tempered his mind and turned it to steel.
   An enigmatic spellblade and blacksmith, able to summon copies of magical artifacts from Elsewhere.
   A phantom thief able to break in or break out of any location, no matter how little she carries on her person.
   A Shardmind with the power to call their unique gemstone-weapon thanks to their psychic abilities.
   A wizard that appears defenseless, only to suit up and load out when danger arrives.

Party Role: Combatant/Specialist. With a constantly-changing weapon at his side, the Soulknife can easily fill the role of a fighter in any party. However, his skill with manipulating strange energy means he can also become a back-up for when the team needs a specific object on-hand immediately.

CLASS FEATURES
Requirements: Base Attack Bonus +3, The Gift feat, Spectral Weapon Basics feat (but see the sidebar "Soulknives and Your Setting", below)
Favored Attributes: Constitution, Wisdom, Charisma (although not always in that order)
Class Skills: Acrobatics, Athletics, Crafting, Haggle, Intimidate, Notice, Prestidigitation, Resolve, Search, Sense Motive
Skill Points: 6 + Int mod per Level
Vitality: 9 + Con mod per Level

BAB: High
Fort: Low
Ref: Medium
Will: High
Def: Low
Init: Medium
Lifestyle: Low
Legend: High

(click to show/hide)

CORE ABILITY
Self-Sufficient: Whenever you become sprawled, you may spend an action die to remain in one stance you are currently in. Also, at Level 1 and each Class Level thereafter, you gain 1 additional skill point that must be spent on Prestidigitation or Resolve.

CLASS ABILITIES
Energized Armaments: At Level 1, choose one Lesser Charm and one Lesser Essence; you learn these Charms and Essences, and if you have the Charm Binding Basics or Essence Binding Basics feat(s), you may create magic items that can include your chosen Charm and Essence. At the beginning of each adventure, select 1 Lesser Charm or Lesser Essence you know; whenever you manifest a weapon, you may choose to manifest it as though it were a magical weapon with your chosen option included on it.
At Level 5, choose 1 more Lesser or Greater Charm and Essence known (total 2 Charms and 2 Essences known). Also, you may select both a Lesser Charm and Lesser Essence (or a single Greater Charm OR Essence), and may do so at the beginning of each session.
At Level 9, choose 1 more Lesser or Greater Charm and Essence known (total 3 Charms and 3 Essences known). Also, you may select a Charm and an Essence to manifest your weapon to include (regardless of if they are Lesser or Greater), and may do so at the beginning of each scene.

Nothing Up My Sleeve I: At Level 2, you gain the Spectral Weapon Mastery feat and 1 additional proficiency or trick.

Nothing Up My Sleeve II: At Level 7, you gain the Spectral Weapon Supremacy feat and 1 additional proficiency or trick (total 2).

Bonus Feat: At Levels 3 and 7, you gain an additional Melee Combat or Gear feat.

Swiss-Army Weapons: You can change the shape of your spectral gear to be a little less... stabby. At Level 4, you may create Goods and Kits of a complexity up to 10D, 10W, or 5M when entering the Manifest Weapon stance. Goods manifested this way are useless if destroyed or undone (for instance, a Hemp Rope that is manifested and then burned will only burn itself with cold, dark fire that is useless for light or heat), and count as one 'weapon'.
At Level 8, you may manifest Armor as well with the same limitations as above (useless if destroyed, counts as one weapon), and your maximum complexity limit increases to 20D, 15W, and 10M.

Sword Summoner: Your skill with weapons goes beyond the ethereal. At Levels 4 and 8, you may choose one of the following abilities. Each ability may be chosen only once.
Helping Hands: You gain the Many-Armed feat, and whenever you enter the Manifest Weapon stance, you may manifest one additional 1-handed weapon or piece of gear.
Hoard: Your maximum Prizes increase by 2.
Master Weaponsmith: You're considered to have 5 additional ranks in Crafting when building, improving, or repairing weapons in which you're proficient. This may cause you to exceed your maximum skill rank for these activities.
One Step Ahead: You gain a +1 dodge bonus to Defense and DR 1 against attacks with weapons in which you're proficient.
Practice Makes Perfect: Choose either Melee Weapon feats or Gear feats. Feats from your chosen group count as Spellcasting feats for the purpose of Spectral Weapon Basics, Mastery, and Supremacy. You may choose this option a second time, counting both Melee Combat and Gear feats as Spellcasting feats for this purpose.
Steelshift: Each of your manifested weapon's attacks may inflict your choice of lethal, subdual, or force damage (no penalty or damage decrease occurs).

Roll the Shoulderblades: At Level 6, you may Refresh as a Full Action. Also, you may be in two stances at once, as long as one of them is the Manifest Weapon Stance.

Unlimited Blade Works: You're always armed, and you're always dangerous! At Level 10, whenever you enter the Manifest Weapon stance, you may manifest a number of weapons (including ranged weapons, gear, kits, and armor) up to the modifier of the attribute you chose in Spectral Weapon Mastery. Each weapon that exceeds the number of available hands you have appears in a random adjacent square (see page 216, Deviation Diagram), and manifested weapons not in your possession vanish only if in the possession of a non-teammate for 1 full round.



SPECTRAL WEAPON BASICS [Spellcasting]
You can create weapons out of the aether itself.
Prerequisites: Blunt or Edged Forte
Benefit: Whenever you take a Coup De Grace or Refresh action, you may enter a stance as a free action. Also, you gain a stance.
Manifest Weapon (Stance): Upon entering this stance, a single melee weapon appears in your hand. The weapon has the appearance and statistics of any specific melee weapon for which you have forte, except it has no weight and inflicts force damage instead of its normal damage type. This weapon vanishes if you leave this stance, or if the weapon leaves your possession and is not attached by a cord or retrieved by the start of your next Initiative Count.

SPECTRAL WEAPON MASTERY [Spellcasting]
You command an ever-shifting cache of gear with your mind.
Prerequisites: Spectral Weapon Basics
Benefit: When you take your Manifest Weapon stance, you may add Upgrades with a combined complexity increase of up to +2 for every Spellcasting Feat you have. Also, you may manifest two different weapons at once, allowing you to use "Two-Weapon" feats. In addition, select one of Constitution, Wisdom, or Charisma; that attribute rises by 1. Finally, you gain a trick.
Discharge (Manifested Weapon Attack Trick): Your attack deals your choice of Acid, Cold, Electrical, Fire, or Sonic damage, and deals additional damage of this type equal to your chosen attribute modifier. After the attack (even if you miss), the manifested weapon you attacked with vanishes (causing you to leave the stance if you only have one manifested). You may use this trick a number of times per combat equal to the number of Spellcasting feats you have.

SPECTRAL WEAPON SUPREMACY [Spellcasting]
Foes will learn to fear you no matter how far they are... or how close.
Prerequisites: Spectral Weapon Mastery
Benefit: When you take your Manifest Weapon stance, you may choose to manifest any weapon you have a forte in. If you choose to make a Bow, a Hurled Weapon, or a Black Powder Weapon, you may make a number of attacks equal to the number of Spellcasting feats you have before you are forced to exit the Manifest Weapon stance; if you choose to make a Siege Weapon, you may make a single attack with it (Arbalests and Light Cannons act as Bows and Black Powder Weapons for the purpose of counting the maximum number of attacks, and Battering Rams have no limit). Attacks made with any ranged weapon other than a Grenade-type weapon deal Force Damage. Also, you gain a trick.
Soulbreaker (Manifested Weapon Attack Trick): If your target is a standard character with a lower chosen attribute score than yours, he immediately fails his damage save (damage isn't rolled). You may use this trick once per round.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2015, 09:48:32 PM by Mutt » Logged
TKDB
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2015, 09:59:56 PM »

Energized Armaments is neat, but strikes me as potentially a bit too powerful. There's a ton of value packed into that; just in terms of Rep value, you're looking at as much as 45 Rep's worth of Essence & Charm on your weapons (where the standard for roughly feat-level effects granting free Prizes is 30 Rep), plus on top of that you're getting absolutely phenomenal flexibility. Just having the Feat Greater Essence alone would be phenomenal (a floating bonus feat of any category!). That ability really needs to be reined in -- have the first grade of the ability only put a Charm OR Essence on it, needing a higher grade to get Charm & Essence both, maybe have a cap on the max Rep value, perhaps limit to Lesser Charms/Essences at lower grades, one or more of that sort of thing.

Under Sword Summoner:
  • Pretty sure Blade Practice is not kosher for this slot. Pick-one lists generally run a smidge weaker than a feat's worth, and a floating feat is worth more than just a bonus feat.
  • The flavor in Gate of Babylon is amusing, but it should probably just use the standard "Hoard" ability rather than duplicating it under another name.
  • Helping Hands is extremely cool, but possibly too strong for the slot; as noted above, this sort of ability slot should typically be weaker than a feat. Though this is just so ridiculously cool flavor I'd really hate to see it go. Maybe it could slide just this once...

On the gamebreaker, I feel like tying the number of weapons manifested to an attribute modifier makes for a somewhat anemic quantity from something called "Unlimited" Blade Works...but then again, since each of these has an Essence and Charm on it and can be passed out to allies, having a whole pile of the things might be a wee bit problematic Tongue

For the feats themselves: I feel that having the stance actually just make the weapon in question (albeit perhaps with caveats about it vanishing if it leaves your possession) would be a lot cleaner than the whole "modify your unarmed attacks" approach. It would let you trim down the text on Unlimited Blade Works considerably, for one, since half the text there would basically just be how an actual conjured weapon would function anyway. And it makes the nature of the weapons much clearer -- are your attacks unarmed, or with the wepaon? Do you use unarmed tricks, or weapon tricks, or both? The text seems kind of conflicting on that issue, though seemingly inclined toward "both"...which is somewhat of a problem in itself as it basically cheats you into half of Master's Touch I (albeit the weaker half of that ability).
Also, the Discharge trick is all out of whack with the established rules precedent for exotic damage on attacks. Aside from a select few notable exceptions (namely, the Battering and Unnerving NPC qualities and the excruciating weapon quality), the system does not ever add damage of a different type to your attack. Attacks deal just one type of damage. For consistency with the usual rules, it should really switch the damage type for the attack whole-hog. However, this would probably be a bit too strong for a Mastery-tier trick; it would need to come with a cost. Perhaps require spending an action die, or to really draw on the "Discharge" concept perhaps it's only usable in-stance and kicks you out of stance when you use it?
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Mutt
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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2015, 01:57:02 AM »

Alright, I've modified the class a little bit. Here's my responses, TKDB:

Blade Practice is an option in the Assassin's 6/9/12/15/18 slot, so I believe it also fits in this slot.
How should I go about changing the text for the Spectral Weapon Basics stance? I am scratching my head over the exact wording I should use (and thus the wording I should use for the Gamebreaker UBW).
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TKDB
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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2015, 09:48:28 AM »

Alright, I've modified the class a little bit.
The revised Energized Armaments looks much better. Could probably get away with giving it a little more oomph by making grade II allow 1 Greater Charm or Essence in place of a Lesser of each, and grade III allow for one of each regardless of Greater/Lesser.

Quote
Here's my responses, TKDB:

Blade Practice is an option in the Assassin's 6/9/12/15/18 slot, so I believe it also fits in this slot.
It's actually in 5/9/13/17; the Assassin's E slot is Masks. Admittedly, the Keeper does use the Ceven for a pick-one list, but I don't think it's reasonable to assume that because an ability can appear in a fixed position in a given slot it can also appear in a pick-one list in that slot. Based on the fact that abilities offered in such lists are pretty much universally weaker than a full feat, it seems to me that the design standard is to consider the flexibility of choosing from the list to count as some of the value in itself. Some options on the weaker end of their slot's power range could appear both in a fixed slot and a pick-one (eg, Explorer gets attribute bumps in the E slot and one of the options in the Priest's E slot pick-one is an attribute bump), but Blade Practice is certainly not on the weaker end of its slot.

Quote
How should I go about changing the text for the Spectral Weapon Basics stance? I am scratching my head over the exact wording I should use (and thus the wording I should use for the Gamebreaker UBW).
The stance could read like so:

Manifest Weapon (Stance): Upon entering this stance, a single melee weapon appears in your hand. The weapon has the appearance and statistics of any specific melee weapon for which you have forte, except it has no weight and inflicts force damage instead of its normal damage type. This weapon vanishes if you leave this stance, or if the weapon leaves your possession and is not attached by a cord or retrieved by the start of your next Initiative Count.

Nothing "unarmed" about it; you have a weapon, plain and simple. This would then make the tricks at Mastery and Supremacy "Manifest Weapon Attack Tricks", not unarmed. And UBW could then become:

Unlimited Blade Works: You're always armed, and you're always dangerous! At Level 10, whenever you enter the Manifest Weapon stance, you may manifest a number of weapons (including ranged weapons, gear, kits, and armor) up to the modifier of the attribute you chose in Spectral Weapon Mastery. Each weapon that exceeds the number of available hands you have appears in a random adjacent square (see page 216, Deviation Diagram), and manifested weapons not in your possession vanish only if in the possession of a non-teammate for 1 full round.

Since the stance essentially conjures actual weapons, all the verbiage about allowing you and teammates to equip and unequip them is superfluous; it's all covered by the usual rules surrounding items. This tweak does potentially allow more teammates to use your manifested gear, but the original number of eligible teammates was equal to the number of weapons manifested anyway, and there's still only so much to go around.


One thing that occurs to me (though I'm not sure where it could be fit in; maybe one of the pick-one options?): This class seems like it really ought to have something to allow you to count feats of another type (probably Melee Combat or Gear) as Spellcasting feats for your Spectral Weapon effects. The Spectral Weapon's dependency on Spellcasting feat count is obviously intended for use on a casting class, but this class has no real use for such feats. A Soulknife will have at least 4 Spellcasting feats, but most likely no more than 5 because apart from The Gift and Spectral Weapon B/M/S the only other Spellcasting feat he can really make use of is Blessed. At least not until a few levels after finishing the Soulknife levels and returning to a casting base class, anyway. A feat count of 4-5 for your upgrade budget and ranged weapon shots isn't terrible, but it does seem a bit on the low side for a class that's all about making the most of this feat chain.
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paddyfool
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« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2015, 09:59:23 AM »

Looks shiny; I see you've gone some way from your original conversion of Deral's feat chain.  Are you also aware of Aegis' speciality + feat chain, btw?
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2015, 04:27:48 AM »

Alright, all caught-up with the suggestions!

I was not aware, but thank you for pointing that out Paddyfool! It's definitely an interesting take on it; much more psionically flavored, which is both a positive and a negative in my books.
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Mutt
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2015, 09:47:32 PM »

Apologies for the double-post. However, it has come to my attention through some playtesting that players fall into one of three groups when it comes to utilizing the Spectral Weapon feats:

1. They stick to a single weapon forever, even when they unlock different types of weapons. One player that tested this wass enamored by the sheer utility and power of the Lance, and basically never did anything different despite having the full chain (other than adding the Hurl quality to it by the time he got access to +5 Complexity upgrades).
2. They slow the game down due to constantly switching between weapons and upgrades without knowing what to select. Having a player who is purposefully dropping the stance whenever they feel the need to use a different weapon or upgrade-set is frustrating to the other players, especially those who are carrying around a bunch of weapons for the same purpose.
3. They have a tried-and-true collection of weapons that they fall back on as the situation arises. This seems like the 'best' subset of players, but unfortunately it wasn't very common in comparison to the other two.

So, my question is this. Should I limit the number of different weapons a character has access to manifesting? For instance, they would have access to a number of individual weapons (not including any upgrades) equal to their [Spellcasting] feats at the Basics level, twice their [Spellcasting] feats at Mastery, and four times their [Spellcasting] feats once they reach Supremacy (thus defaulting to 12 different weapons, which is a pretty nice selection). What does the rest of the forum think?
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SilvercatMoonpaw
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« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2015, 08:31:06 PM »

Could your restrict restructuring the weapon to an out-of-combat timeframe?  Solves problem 2, doesn't solve 3, I'm not really of the opinion 1 is really a problem.

I think if you want to go the "chosen list of weapons" route it's a shame to base it off Spellcasting feats when this chain is actually very nice for non-spellcasters who don't want to deal with lugging around physical weapons or just want something glowing and cool.  Maybe allow for more than one type of feat, but only one category at a time? (i.e. Based on # Melee Combat or Spellcasting but not both.)
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« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2015, 02:18:02 AM »

Some thoughts, editing, and aggressive effect pruning Smiley.

SPELLCASTING FEATS

Spectral Weapon Basics
  You can draw your favored weapons out of the aether itself.
  Benefit: Choose either Constitution, Wisdom, or Charisma. You may then select a number of weapons present in the campaign equal to your Spellcasting feats as your "spectral weapon types" (excluding siege weapons). You also gain a stance.
  Manifest Weapon (Stance): Upon entering this stance, your choice of a single 2h spectral weapon or one or two 1h spectral weapons from among those you have selected appear readied in your hand(s). The weapons have the appearance and statistics of normal, unmodified weapons of their type, except they have no weight, do not consume ammo, inflict force damage instead of their normal damage type, and inflict additional damage based on the chosen attribute's modifier rather than the modifier normally used (if any). If the weapon has the load quality it must still be reloaded and if it vanishes partially re-loaded it always reappears in the same state as when it vanished. These weapons vanish if broken, you leave this stance, or you lose control of the weapon.
  Special: This feat may not be taken as a temporary feat.

Spectral Weapon Mastery
  Your spectral weapons can appear without warning and deliver heinous wounds.
  Prerequisites: Spectral Weapon Basics
  Benefit: You may enter the manifest weapon stance as part of taking a Coup De Grace or Refresh action (the coup de grace may be performed with a spectral weapon). You also gain a trick.
  Discharge (Spectral Weapon Attack Trick): This attack deals your choice of Acid, Cold, Electrical, Fire, or Sonic damage and then the weapon vanishes (even if you miss). You may use this trick a number of times per scene equal to the number of Spellcasting feats you have.

Spectral Weapon Supremacy
  Foes will learn to fear you no matter how far they are... or how close.
  Prerequisites: Spectral Weapon Mastery
  Benefit: The attribute that you chose as part of your Spectral Weapons Basics feat rises by 1. Also, you gain a trick.
  Soulbreaker (Spectral Weapon Attack Trick): If your target is a standard character with a lower chosen attribute score than yours, he immediately fails his damage save (damage isn't rolled). You may use this trick once per round.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2015, 05:54:07 AM by Morgenstern » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2015, 05:33:38 AM »

While I do mostly like those changes, I am a little saddened by the loss of the Upgrade potential; a Drake-Crafted Longsword for a "Spellblade" type of character, or a something similar. Then again, upon looking at the rules again, there is technically nothing stopping someone from making a Spectral Weapon with the Pech, Cord, Grip, Lure, and Poisonous upgrades all at once with no drawbacks whatsoever. Hmmm... Is there a way to salvage the original intention of the feat benefit without opening it up for abuse?
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Morgenstern
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« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2015, 05:37:01 AM »

  Sure. Make upgrades a class ability Smiley. And limit it to a max number (might increase as you level but probably never more than 3) and a specific list of upgrades.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2015, 05:46:43 AM by Morgenstern » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2015, 03:41:54 PM »

A class ability could work, but what would it replace? Maybe the bonus Proficiency/Trick that comes alongside the next feat in the chain?
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Antilles
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« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2015, 02:15:40 AM »

Was watching a Let's Play of Shadows of Mordor this morning, and was inspired by the Shadow Strike ability in that game. I figured spectral weapons would be a decent approximation of some of the mechanics in that game, so...

Shadow Strike (Ranged Spectral Weapon Attack Trick): If this attack hits, you may spend an action die to teleport to the closest adjacent square of the target, and either replace your ranged spectral weapon with a melee spectral weapon and roll damage using its statistics, or inflict your normal unarmed attack damage. This attack still uses 1 ammunition from the ranged spectral weapon.
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