Magic of Incarnum by Spiderfist Island
IntroductionOriginal SA post
Hey, remember when WOTC came out with a bunch of alternative magic systems? You know, Tome of Magic? Well, there was this one thing that came out before that, that… well.
Let’s Read Magic of Incarnum!
Ok, so imagine this. You’re a young middle schooler that wanted the Expanded Psionics Handbook but was still hungry for some more 3.5 sourcebooks. You find out on the WOTC website that there’s another new magic system coming out soon that deals with the powers of souls and binding them to your own. To satiate your hunger until you finally get the Expanded Psionics Handbook, you buy it.
Then you realize that you’re me 7 years ago and I want you to slap me in the face for getting this thing .
Anyway, what’s Magic of Incarnum? Let’s let the introduction explain for itself shall we?
Wizards of The Coast posted:
This book came about as an attempt to do something brand¬–new, something the vast multiverse of Dungeons & Dragons had never seen before. We set out to create an entirely original idea– not just interesting twists on existing mechanics and familiar themes, but a whole new system to add new landscapes and horizons into an existing D&D game.
Oh, so something like the Exp
Wizards of The Coast posted:
Like the Expanded Psionics Handbook , this book presents a new system that is similar to magic but different, a novel way of looking at characters who deal with the supernatural. The heart of the system is the substance called incarnum.
Keep these two paragraphs in mind. We’re going to see that everything in them is a damn dirty lie that gets down to why 3.X edition is bad.
Anyway, game setting fluff time– Incarnum, to put it simply, is raw soul energy– the souls of those dead, those not born, and just general soulstuff that isn’t with consciousness. (vague, yes? You’ll be annoyed by contradictions to it soon.) The book says that Incarnum is “The very essence of all creatures,” and is shaped into physical form as a ‘soulmeld’ to have their experiences and energy be used by sages. Ok, aside from having to be in a ‘physical form,’ whatever that means right now, sounds pretty
“Wizards of The Coast” posted:
Talented wielders of incarnum learn to harness specific qualities of incarnum… including particular alignments , insights, experiences and the like. In fact, most wielders of incarnum have strong moral and ethical outlooks inextricably linked to their use of the substance.
Things are starting to go slowly but inexorably wrong. Keep this in mind, because people who think alignment isn’t a bad thing are going to find me soon, Kurtz–like, in this primordial 3.5 jungle and have to return to my hypothetical Belgian wife and lie about my final moments, keeping the bitter truth about alignment to yourself until the end.
Anyway, a short little blurb on Essentia, which is your own personal incarnum that you invest into a soulmeld to give it more power (why is our soul energy modeled so much differently than other people’s? No idea right now, but we’ll come back to that).
And then Chakras, that basically spell out how the system works to a degree. Essentially, a chakra is a magic item slot, or rather what most magic items bind to so they’re used when equipped. Soulmelds can either be suspended over your body or greatly increased in power by being bound to a chakra. I have to give it to WOTC, this is an effective way of bulshitting how magic items work and tying this system into D&D jargon at large.
So, some good stuff, some bad stuff. But I’m sure that there can be some cool things that can come from this book! Let’s look at the art to
Now, as any RPG fan knows, art can make or break interest in a thing. Wayne Reynold’s illustration of a Pentifex Monolith (basically Incarnum paladin-thingy) made me glad about buying this at first. Maybe it’s just because I wanted to play a paladin but without the religious aspects or the crappy class. Maybe it’s because I was an 8th grade dipshit. ]But, hey, I still think it’s cool. See for yourself:
You’ll be happy to know NotPaladin McCoolDude has managed to escape this book and has reappeared in at least 1 4E book (as a paladin paragon path, ironically enough). Sometimes there are happy endings
Anyway, next time, races and classes, where we’ll be seeing less of stuff like NotPaladin and more of stuff like this:
And my disappointment will be palpable.
edit: changed broken image links to WOTC art gallery url links.
doubleplusungoodedit: actually did something right for once.
RacesOriginal SA post Magic of Incarnum Part 2: Races
As is the tradition for any 3.5 book worth its salt, Magic of Incarnum has some new races to go with the new magic system. To be honest, I don’t have much to nitpick about with them flavor-wise, but I’m going to be looking closely at how their mechanics stack up. Classes are next time, I promise.
Basically, Azurins are humans that were born with extra-double-incarnum. The book lets the player figure out how they got that way (the soul got caught in a soulstorm on the way to earth, they were born in an incarnum-rich site, etc.). In a interesting twist, being infused with so much life energy actually accelerates aging, which causes them to be more reckless and a dislike of attachment. They also are prone to strong feelings and beliefs, so they favor the four extreme alignments (lawful good, lawful evil, chaotic good, chaotic evil). If there’s any race from this that can easily fit into a standard 3E setting, it’s Azurins. Pretty neat, if generic, fluff.
Mechanics : Azurin don’t have any ability adjustments, and have the same bonus feat ability as a human. They also count as a human for game rules. Rather than extra skill points, Azurin get an extra point of Essentia, basically the equivalent of the Naturally Psionic Extraordinary ability that all the psionic races have. (However, 1 Essentia is a LOT more useful than 1 extra PP.) Favored class is Soulborn, which is… well, you’ll see.
Probably the most unorthodox new race in this book, Dusklings are “small but savage fey native to the Outer Planes.” (They don’t have the Small size category, and hell, they immediately say that they’re as tall as elves, but hey, let the author be descriptive,) For some reason, I can’t stop thinking of them as being based off of some aboriginal Australian myths or whatever. Maybe it’s the beard on the male one. They’re described as very emotional, valuing loyalties but still “hating restrictions.” Also, the book emphasizes that Dusklings like to go barefoot for some reason. Maybe the authors miss how Halflings aren’t doing that anymore?
Mechanics : +2 Con, –2 Int, fairly decent tradeoff for their niche (you’ll see why when we get to incarnum mechanics). They can allocate Essentia into their landspeed to increase it by 5 per point, which in a miniatures game like 3E is (and yes it is one, fuck the haters) pretty damn good to be able to do. They’re considered extraplanar, which is a trait that doesn’t come up that often for LA+0 races, so that’s pretty original.
However, Dusklings can choose to be from one of a list of planes, something that I think is unique for a 3.5 race. They can be from the Beastlands, Arborea, or Ysgard, and damn is it weird to see fey without their own plane of existence again, let me tell you what.
They also have low-light vision and a +1 Essentia thingy, with Totemist as their favored class. Overall, I’d say they’re one of the strongest races in this book.
The Rilkans and Skarn share a common ancestor, which makes it hard to exactly keep the entries separate. Basically, they’re descended from a sect of Mishtai (the two races’ progenitors) that said ‘fuck it’ to their compatriots’ plans and in doing so ruined the whole thing, at least from a Skarn’s point of view. They really just look like humans with scales on their hands and arms, which reminds me of some Star Trek alien but I can’t remember which ones.
In modern ahistorical D&D days, Rilkans are a spread-out, merry-making race that likes money, making money, making money through singing, and general carousing. Their culture also values impulsive heroism, and they are almost screaming ‘Always chaotic good/neutral’ to boot.
Mechanics : +2 Dex, -2 Str, which means they’re not front-line fighting anything. Despite having scales that only cover 10% of their body, Rilkans are humanoids with the reptilian subtype. They have the Racial Knowledge Ability that lets them tap into collective memories and use any Knowledge skill as a trained skill, as well as a +1 bonus to knowledge/bardic knowledge checks with an extra +1 per 2 soulmelds. If this doesn’t scream Bard multiclass to you, then you’ll be surprised when we get to racial substitution levels.
Also, a +2 to Bluff/Dip, +3 rather than +2 when aiding another Rilkan, and a favored class of Incarnate. Yeah, these guys are basically Dashing Rogue: the Race.
The other half of the Odd Couple, Skarn are like that friend’s prudish older brother that hated your guts but was too polite to say it in public. They are “Strong, sophisticated warriors of intellect,” which I guess makes them the Klingons to whatever Star Trek Alien the Rilkans are (tbh, I’m still thinking that these two seemed ripped from a bad Original or TNG episode ).
Anyway, they continue their Mishtai ancestors’ quest to attain ‘Perfection of Form’ through Incarnum, though they never really go into detail on this. Isn’t soul energy not very good at shaping the body, since there’s the whole Cartesian Mind(soul)/Body duality in fantasy? I mean, ‘Form’ implies physical form, and incarnum seems more suited to creating spiritual perfection. Arghablagargh why don’t you clarify your interesting backstories book!
Oh yeah, present day stuff. They’re obsessed with physical prowess and civic duty (I guess Greek Ideal= perfection of form?) and live in large cities controlled by autocracies or other powerful Lawful governments. They’re also fairly bigoted. For some reason, the Skarn fluff is really interesting to me, and gives a lot of plot hooks.
Oh, and the chick looks totally baked, which is a shame that at this picture’s resolution you can’t see it that well.
Mechanics : +2 Str, -2 Dex, basically proving once and for all that the Half-Orc is probably the worst race ever in 3.X. They also are reptilian humanoids, but they get a natural weapon in the form of spines on their arms (+1d6), with the added bonus that arm bounded soulmelds give these spines as lawful-aligned.
+2 to Intimidate and Climb, further kicking the Half-Orc in the balls, and the favored class of Incarnate. If you were keeping track, you probably noticed that the Skarn is basically the opposite of the Rilkan in mechanics as well.
We finally get a small blurb after the age, height and weight tables on the PHB races and how they look at Incarnum, with the usual stereotypes: Humans ambitious, Dwarves practical, Elves like the nature side, gnomes don’t care, etc. Interestingly enough, they mention that most Evil Incarnates (probably the best intentional pun from a class name/alignment) are actually from humans per capita.
Anyway, let’s review. So we actually have some interesting fluff from 3 of the four races. Personally, I found the Duskling fluff to be the weakest, but all the Fey in 3.X feel discombobulated and nonessential to me, so that might be personal bias. If Incarnum was the only addition to your Core games (and let’s be honest, it probably wasn’t), they wouldn’t feel that out of place.
But since you probably started a game without intending for one of your players to use a completely new system, you probably don’t have the money or energy to get your own copy (or borrow it) to re-write your games to include a Skarn country, or whatever it would be to make your games more inclusive. I guess the main problem here is that like the rest of 3.5 at the time, there is so much product saturation that any time in the limelight for new mechanics, or new races or whatever, is so short as to be nonexistent. There are a lot of cool ideas in here, and it’s a damn shame.
Next time: Classes! Or, God Fucking Dammit, why so many restrictions?
ClassesOriginal SA post Magic of Incarnum, Part 3: Classes
Okay, taking over for Spiderfist Island, because Incarnum is kinda cool, but a lot retarded.
To recap his posts on the subject:
Introduction : Incarnum is the power of souls. All souls, everywhere, of all time. But it's not a bad thing (Except when it is), because you're just borrowing the soul. These souls are formed into solid forms called soulmelds, which hover over (or bind to) a magic item slot and bestow some effect on you.
Races : Azurins are humans with eyes like limpid pools. Dusklings are extraplanar aboriginal fey. Rilkans are Dashing Rogue: the Race. Skarns are Fantasy Klingons. As a side note, I tend to play Rilkans at the drop of a hat.
And now, classes. We begin with a small discussion of essentia. Like psionic power points, the essentia you gain from all sources goes into a collective pool. You use this essentia by allocating it into soulmelds and other receptacles, and how much you can put in each soulmeld is based on your level, topping out at 4 points at 18th level. Incarnates and totemists get ways to exceed that for some of their soulmelds.
Meldshaping (The general term for "using incarnum") is based primarily on Constitution, which has surprised me on multiple occasions by revealing just how much of a fucking tank a meldshaper can be. The number of soulmelds you can have shaped is capped at your Constitution -10 or your class' current limit, whichever is lower. Much like your casting.
The Incarnate is the soulmeld wizard, or maybe the cleric. They can use simple weapons, up to medium armor, and shields, have 1/2 BAB, d6 Hit Dice, and good Fort and Will saves. They must have one, and only one, facet of their alignment at an extreme: NG, LN, NE, or CN. They cannot shape melds of any alignment other than their chosen one. They begin with an alignment aura like a cleric and the ability to detect their opposing alignment, as well as two soulmelds and 1 essentia. Wisdom is also key for incarnates, as their soulmeld save DCs key off it. The other two classes use Constitution for save DCs.
As incarnates advance, they gain a progressive boost to one of their capabilities, based on their alignment: Good gets AC, Evil gets weapon damage, Lawful gets melee attack rolls, and Chaotic gets movement speed (Topping out at +50! I like movement speed ). These are per diem abilities (max of 4/day at 18), and last for 3+Constitution modifier rounds. They also produce a cool glowing aura like one of your Japanese animes for the duration. At later levels, they can share this with allies within 30 feet that share their alignment.
Incarnates can eventually bind a soulmeld to just about anything, including the heart and soul chakras, which arguably bestow the most impressive benefits. They can put more essentia into their soulmelds than other meldshapers, reshape a few each day as a full-round action, and the capstone ability is literally going super saiyan, filling all their soulmelds to the essentia cap for 3+Wis mod rounds. They also become an alignment-subtype outsider. Big whoop.
If an incarnate changes alignment, they lose everything except basic BAB and saves, unless their new alignment is also in line with Incarnate, in which case they just change focus.
In flavor, incarnates make paladins look like wishy-washy milquetoasts. In fact, the "Incarnates in the world" segment is headed up by Alhandra the paladin complaining about the iconic incarnate's moral rigidity. Beware of chaotic ones using their monkey cheese abilities to reinforce their monkey cheese philosophy. They provide short descriptions of four historic incarnates, one of each alignment, including a guy named N!doka the North Star. You are already dead.
So the class is made for melee combat, with their per diems maybe possibly offsetting their horrid BAB and simple weapons. They have so much multi-attribute dependency it's not even funny, but if you build them right, you can really clean up with some of the save-forcing soulmelds.
Bottom line: The soul still burns.
Next, we have the Soulborn . Soulborn fill the other extremes of the alignment grid: They must be CE, CG, LG, or LE. Soulborn are made to be the fighter to the incarnate's wizard, and it shows. They have full BAB, good Fort, d10 HD, up to heavy armor, martial weapons, shields, and the class abilities of half a paladin. Seriously. At first level, they have an aura like a cleric and Smite Opposition 1/day (Anything with an opposing element, LG smites chaos and/or evil). They don't gain any soulmelds until 4th level, they don't gain any essentia until 6th, and they only get chakra binds at 8th and beyond. They also don't gain heart or soul binds. Instead of a capstone ability at 20, they gain another daily use of smite (5 in all). But hey, at least they're not gonna take any penalties due to age! Yes, for some reason they get Timeless Body at 19th. The one "good" bit in here is their Incarnum Defense ability: they gain immunity to a status effect based on their alignment: LG is immune to fear, CG paralysis, LE exhaustion, and CE any penalty, damage, or drain to Strength. These make their eyes all glowy and cool. They get that at 2nd level, and can share it with a touch at 9th, as long as the target doesn't oppose their alignment.
As with the incarnate, Soulborn lose their class features if their alignment shifts, unless it shifts to another extreme. In flavor, soulborn are Fantasy Klingons, living for battle and nothing else. I suppose it makes since, since skarns are the only ones with soulborn as a favored class. The world-inclusion flavor again begins with Alhandra complaining about the iconic. In this case, that the iconic soulborn is a total nerd about soulmelds.
I've seen exactly one Soulborn build, and it filled all its feat slots with Shape Soulmeld. The class is almost entirely useless, unless you want to take a two-level dip for the smite and defense to fit into the rest of your classes. It falls somewhere between Warrior and Fighter, but it is probably better than Samurai.
Bottom line: Your words are as empty as your soul.
And rounding out the classes we have the Totemist , the druid-analogue that channels the souls of magical beasts. They don't have any alignment baggage, although they trend towards neutrality. They gain 3/4 BAB, good Fort and Ref saves, d10 HD, martial weapons, heavy armor, shields, and the same meldshaping capabilities as the incarnate, albeit with a slightly slower essentia progression. Once they get a little experience under their belt, the class takes off, gaining access to the totem chakra, a connection to the soul of nature. This unlocks most of the awesome abilities of their soulmelds, usually taking the form of a natural attack or some kind of movement mode or special ability. They can assign more essentia to their totem chakra and shape it at 1 level higher (Mostly prevents dispelling). At higher levels they can change which soulmeld they have bound to the totem chakra, and bind the same soulmeld to another chakra at the same time, gaining both benefits.
They're also specially tuned to work with magical beasts, gaining wild empathy and +4 to the magical beast corresponding to their totem chakra bind, as well as +4 on saving throws versus all magical beasts. They're also illiterate. Their capstone ability lets them double the essentia invested in their totem bind for their Con bonus in minutes.
Flavor-wise, they're basically druids, spending their time revering nature or acting as the spiritual leaders of primitive settlements. The "in the world" quote has Vidania the druid comparing the iconic totemist to not one, but two magical beasts.
Personally, I find these guys pretty damn good, because one of my friends played a Totemist. With the right setup and a little Eagle Totem Barbarian rage, he was producing a full attack consisting of Bite/Bite/Bite/Bite/Gore/Claw/Claw/Tail for 4d8+4d6+42 if everything hit. That was for special occasions, though. His normal attack routine when the game ended was three bites and two claws for 5d6+20 at a flat +15 attack bonus for each attack, plus bonus cold damage per essentia. We used to joke about setting him on frappé. The only real problem is the same flavor issue that hinders other meldshapers: You tend to look like you've been dumpster diving at Magical Goodwill , and in the Totemist's case, you found fursuit parts .
Bottom Line: The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.
Next: Skills, feats, and a dozen different shades of blue.
Charcter OptionsOriginal SA post Magic of Incarnum, Part 4: Character Options
Okay, there's not much new on the skills front regarding incarnum. Concentration comes into play if you happen to be shaping or binding a soulmeld in rough weather or with a fuck looming over you with a sword, just like casting a spell. Knowledge of incarnum is covered by both Arcana and Planes, each reveals the same information. And it's a DC 20 Spellcraft check to identify a shaped soulmeld.
Now, the feats are a great way to include incarnum in a pre-incarnum character. A new subtype of feat is introduced: The incarnum feat. Like soulmelds, you can invest essentia in these feats and gain a bonus per point invested. All or nearly all incarnum feats have 13 constitution as a prereq, and grant one point of essentia, so they're useful even if you're not a meldshaping class. Most of them don't let you remove essentia from them for 24 hours, and a significant majority of them interface with other class features. They're also mostly named after shades of blue.
It's going to be hard not to just make this a big ol' list, but if I split them into blue families, we should be good. Usually the incarnum feats add 1 per essentia, unless otherwise noted.
The Azure family concerns itself with class features, and has HP as the odd man out, plus doesn't include another class feature that has its own blue flavor all to itself. This family includes Azure Emnity, which adds to favored enemy bonuses; Azure Talent, which adds 2 bonus power points per essentia; Touch, which increases paladin level for determining lay on hands; Toughness, which adds 3 temporary HP per essentia (A bad deal, even compared to regular Toughness); Turning, which lets you deal 1d8 damage per essentia to undead you can turn (Not just the undead you do turn); and Wild Shape, which adds damage to natural attacks when wildshaped.
Bonus Essentia lands in this little gap, you need to be level 6 for it, and it grants 1 essentia, 2 if you can shape soulmelds.
Cerulean feats are a trio concerning saving throws, each just gives +1 per essentia.
The Cobalt group is based on general combat maneuvers. You have Charge, which adds to attack and damage; Critical, which adds to rolls to confirm melee critical hits; Expertise, which gives boni to disarm, feint, and trip, as well as AC when using Combat Expertise; Power, which is Expertise's aggressive brother and deals with bull rush, overrun, sunder, and damage during Power Attack; Precision, which is Cobalt Critical for ranged attacks; and Rage, which adds damage and Will save when raging.
Divine Soultouch is a divine feat: spend a use of turn or rebuke undead to gain 1 essentia and increase the capacity of your essentia receptacles by 1 for 1 round.
Double Chakra lets you pick one chakra that can then hold two soulmelds, either occupying or bound to it. While undeniably useful, I can't help picturing it like the Fallout 3 bug where the Chinese Stealth Suit would let you wear all the hats you wanted. Usually they'd clip into each other and the Stealth Suit's headpiece and look horrible.
Expanded Soulmeld Capacity increases the essentia capacity of a single soulmeld by 1. Related, Improved Essentia Capacity increases the capacity of all your incarnum feats.
Healing Soul lets you heal your own wounds as a swift action: 2 HP per essentia, a number of times per day equal to the essentia. For those keeping track, that is 2 HP once a day at 1st level, up to 10 5 times a day at 18+ with the feat just above. If you can bind a soulmeld to your soul chakra, the healing increases to 4/essentia, which makes it slightly more effective. Also on the HP front, Heart of Incarnum gives you HP equal to your essentia pool and Incarnum-Fortified Body gives you 2 HP for each incarnum feat you have, much like the Psionic Body feat in the Expanded Psionics Handbook.
Also similar to psionics, we have Incarnum Resistance , which can only be taken if you don't have an essentia pool, and grants +2 to saving throws vs. soulmelds. Given this (Similar to the Psionic Hole antipsionic feat), the pool of points, and a few other things here and there, it does seem like they tried to make this like psionics, but different.
Incarnum Spellshaping lets spellcasters cast spells with the incarnum descriptor, and grants them a point of essentia. I'll cover incarnum spells when we get to magic, but without this feat, you can't even use scrolls and wands of incarnum spells.
And now we're into the Indigo family of incarnum feats! Well, it's an only child. Indigo Strike adds 2 damage per essentia to a sneak attack, skirmish, or sudden strike. Why this isn't in Azure or Cobalt I have no idea.
Midnight is the next group of blue-tinted feats. Midnight Augmentation is a psionic feat as well, and lets you expend your psionic focus to reduce the augmentation cost of a single power by the amount of essentia invested in this feat. It's kind of complex, seeing as I misrepresented it three times while writing this, and probably still am. Midnight Dodge is Dodge... with incarnum! It even counts as Dodge for prereqs. Midnight Metamagic makes magic more miserly. You can prepare metamagic spells with appropriate amounts of essentia (1 per spell level required by the metamagic) and then cast the metamagicked spell with no change to spell level or casting time. This one is unique among incarnum feats in that once you cast the spell, you get the incarnum back.
Necrocarnum Acolyte lets nonevil meldshapers use necrocarnum. Technically, nonevil, nongood meldshapers. Evil meldshapers can already use them and the feat requires nongood alignment. That, plus the fact that the alignment restrictions don't apply to anyone shaping soulmelds through the Shape Soulmeld feat, makes this a feat that is only useful to lawful and chaotic incarnates. It also provides a +1 bonus to the save DC of necrocarnum soulmelds.
There are three Open <Foo> Chakra feats, Least, Lesser, and Greater. Each lets you bind a soulmeld or magic item to a single chakra and bestows a small insight bonus on rolls related to that chakra.
Now we reach the Psycarnum group of feats, a surprisingly non-blue group of incarnum/psionic feats. Actually, only one of them is an incarnum feat, the other two are just psionic. Psycarnum Blade lets you expend your psionic focus to deal an extra 1d6 damage per essentia on a mind blade strike. Psycarnum Crystal adds 1 essentia to your pool when your psicrystal is within arm's reach. And the most useful of this group, Psycarnum Infusion lets you expend your psionic focus to treat a soulmeld as if it has its essentia capacity filled for one round.
You know, I'm thinking they just assigned colors by die roll, because these color families show very little internal consistency. The Sapphire line deals with smite, Stunning Fist, and... running. Sapphire Fist gives bonuses to damage and DC of Stunning Fist, Smite grants additional uses and damage, and Sprint is a complex beast that adds five feet of speed per essentia when running, and also adds to Constitution checks made to continue running. But that's not all! Order now and, if you can bind a soulmeld to the feet chakra, you get to keep your Dex bonus and get bonus AC versus attacks of opportunity while running! Now how much would you pay?
Shape Soulmeld lets you... shape a single soulmeld. Not the most inspired description, but this is where you can get into a lot of neat tricks with cross-class soulmelds for meldshaping classes and mechanics combos or flavor details with non-shaping classes. You can invest essentia and bind it to chakras normally if you have the capability.
Share Soulmeld lets you share any soulmeld with an animal companion, familiar, or special mount within 5 feet, much like the share spells feature.
Soulsight is both virtually useless and nearly broken. It's an incarnum feat, and you gain 5 feet of blindsense per point of essentia, limited to living creatures only (but expands to include nonliving if you can bind soulmelds to your brow chakra). It says this lasts for one round, but it doesn't say how many times you can use it or what action it takes to activate it. In theory it might be activated as soon as you put essentia into it, but it still wouldn't give you back the essentia for 24 hours, which seems really steep for a round of blindsense.
Soultouched Spellcasting is another unblue incarnum feat. You gain a bonus to dispel checks and caster level checks to overcome spell resistance.
Split Chakra lets you pick one chakra that you can both bind a soulmeld to and wear a magic item on.
And, finally, Undead Meldshaper lets intelligent undead use Wisdom instead of Constitution for everything related to meldshaping.
And finishing up this chapter, we have racial substitution levels. For those who have been living under a core rulebook since before 4th Edition came out, racial substitution levels replace given levels in a standard class, granting a more racially-appropriate flavor. Each level is optional, so you can skip any level you don't want to take. Usually, these are found within the racial splatbooks, but they threw together a nice selection here.
We begin alphabetically, with the Aasimar Incarnate . I can never get that double A right the first time. At first level, they gain proficiency and Weapon Focus in a single martial weapon, with the warhammer being the typical choice. At 3rd, they add good alignment and 1d6 damage to evil creatures to their attacks while incarnum radiance is active. And at 7th, they can share their incarnum radiance (But not the align weapon effect) with any nonevil ally, not just those of their alignment. Plus, they gain a d8 Hit Die for each of those levels. Overall, quite handy, and probably worth the +1 LA for playing an aasimar.
The Azurin Cleric gets the short end of the stick, though. Rather than just risking alignment change if they cast spells contrary to their alignment, they literally cannot cast those spells if they take any of the substitution levels. At first level, they swap turn/rebuke undead for the ability to grant themselves bonus essentia equal to their Charisma bonus or half their cleric level, whichever is less, for one round. This does qualify as turn/rebuke for the purposes of prereqs, though, so it's not entirely bad. At 4th level, the azurin cleric can, as a move action, grant their weapon one component of their alignment. Neutral clerics can fuck off. They can also invest essentia in the weapon while the ability is active, granting it a bonus on damage vs. opposed alignments. They give up a 2nd-level spell slot for this, but it is arguably more useful and can certainly be used more often (3+half level). And at 9th level, they lose the ability to spontaneously cast cure or inflict spells of 5th-level or higher, gaining the ability to sacrifice a 5th-level or higher spell and bestow the spell's level in bonus essentia to allies in a 30-foot burst, lasting until the end of the cleric's next turn. Those without an essentia pool heal a like amount of damage. Possibly useful, but the azurin cleric isn't really high on my list of possible characters.
The Duskling Barbarian is kind of simple, they just swap their standard features for incarnum-fortified ones. At 1st, they swap fast movement for an essentia receptacle version that also increases initiative checks. At 7th, they swap damage reduction for an essentia receptacle version that also grants resistance to the five main types of elemental energy. And at 11th, they lose greater rage, but gain 2 points of essentia while raging. Overall, simple to keep track of, and a bit better than the base class. But they do tradeoff by having a d10 HD for those levels rather than the standard d12.
Dwarf Soulborn are living conduits to Moradin, the Soul Forger. They gain a +1 attack bonus when using a warhammer to smite (1st level); give up a bonus feat at 3rd in order to gain a bonus equal to the number of soulmelds they have shaped (1 to 5, usually) on metal and stone Craft/Appraise checks, stonecunning-related Search checks, and damage versus their racial enemies; and can share their incarnum defense with any dwarf within 30 feet as a free action at 7th. Add a d12 HD for those levels to that, and they become... Well, better than a regular Soulborn, but still not really as good as a Fighter.
Elf Soulborn ? Who would first pick an elf, then pick Soulborn ? It is kind of an okay choice, though, just for the new features. They can smite with a bow at first level (Within 30 feet, just like sneak attack), adds charm effects to their incarnum defense along with whatever other defense they get at 2nd, and gets a bunch of vision-related perks in place of a bonus feat at 7th: Low-light vision extended to triple human, bonus to Search and spot (Which are also class skills for the substitution levels) equal to twice the essentia invested in a soulmeld on the brow chakra, and they gain 150% range with a bow if they have a soulmeld bound to their brow. Given the great paucity of ranged options, I'd actually be vaguely tempted to take this.
Gnome Incarnate is kind of a mixed bag. At first level, they lose detect opposition, but gain a bonus to damage versus their racial enemies equal to half the number of soulmelds they have shaped, increasing to the full number if there's another gnome ally within 30 feet. At 2nd level, they just flat-out gain Detect Thoughts 1/day if a soulmeld is bound to their crown chakra. And at 7th level, when they share incarnum radiance, that ally also gains a +4 dodge bonus to AC versus giants. It all makes sense flavor-wise, but it's a mechanical jumble.
The Halfling Totemist gains low-light vision at 1st, +2 boni to Swim, Climb, or Jump if they have soulmelds occupying the appropriate chakras at 3rd (Losing the +4 saves versus magical beasts), and gains fast movement like a barbarian (but not like a duskling barbarian) at 8th. Personally, I'd skip the 3rd-level substitution.
Ladies, ladies, one at a time, the Rilkan Rogue has the capabilities to handle all of you. Instead of his first die of sneak attack at 1st, the rilkan rogue gets an extra +2 bonus to attack when flanking an enemy, which is also bestowed upon other rilkans flanking the same opponent. At 3rd, he gets his first die of sneak attack, bardic knowledge instead of trap sense, and a bonus feat pulled from the social set of "+2 to 2 skills" types. And at 10th, instead of a special ability, he gets the ability to reroll Reflex saves. But, he also can't gain improved evasion from Rogue levels.
The Skarn Monk is a pretty simple substitution. Instead of dealing with punches, at first level all its unarmed strike stuff switches to using their arm spikes instead. At fifth, much like the duskling barbarian, he trades his class defense bonus (But not Wis to AC) for an essentia receptacle version that isn't lost under any condition (including armor!), and gains a point of essentia. And at tenth, he trades the lawful ki strike for a single soulborn soulmeld and the ability to bind a soulmeld to his arms chakra.
And finally, we come to the Tiefling Incarnate . Where the aasimar incarnate is tweaked towards the crusading knight, the tiefling is geared more towards the rogue archetype. At first level, as long as they have a soulmeld shaped on their brow chakra, they can see in magical darkness. This is just free, doesn't replace anything. At 3rd, while their incarnum radiance is active, they gain concealment while in darkness or shadowy illumination. Despite the fact that they have a magnificent glowing aura around them. And at 7th, instead of sharing their incarnum radiance, they gain telepathy in a 100-foot range while a soulmeld is bound to their crown chakra. I like this one, mainly because I find telepathy to be a really handy ability.
Next up is soulmelds, and an even longer list . I'd welcome suggestions on how to handle this. I've been toying with the idea of a mini-update covering all things necrocarnum, but that would only knock six entries out of the soulmeld list.
aaag chakrasOriginal SA post Magic of Incarnum, Part 5: aaag chakras
Okay, I think I have a workable plan for the soulmelds chapter. I'll just break it into several smaller, logically-connected segments. Maybe group them by chakra.
But before that, we'll begin with the general mechanics for soulmelds. Shaping soulmelds operates under the same rules as preparing spells: Eight hours of rest followed by an hour of meditation. Unlike spells, they don't go away when you use them, so you can leave them shaped as long as you like, barring effects that unshape soulmelds. Usually this is a hostile spell or monster special ability, but a few soulmelds have abilities that let you unshape them for an effect.
Speaking of hostile spells and monster effects, your essentia can be damaged from the same. This heals like ability damage.
And now we get into chakras. Excuse me while I sperg a little. Chakras in this system refers to areas that map more or less to the locations you can wear magic items on. A soulmeld either occupies a chakra, floating above/around it, in which case you can wear a magic item on the same chakra, or is bound to it, in which case the location is either physically or magically prevented from gaining the benefit of a corresponding magic item.
Now, here are the chakras as widely accepted by most forms of mysticism:
Not too bad, not too bad. Crown, check. The third eye chakra is also often termed the brow, so that fits. Throat, check. Heart, check. Now here's where we run into a problem.
Here is the chakra body slot chart provided by the downloadable character sheet on WOTC's official site (Located between Tome of Magic and Complete Series ).
For some reason, they include rings.
I'm actually a lot less nerdrage-y about that after doing a little more research, but it's still a pretty bad use of the word. There are actually minor chakras in the waist and feet (Part of the seven corresponding to base animal instincts) and pairs of minor chakras in the hands and elbows (plus the clavicular, which I guess is close enough to the shoulders), but the spleen is also a minor chakra, they've still left out three of the major ones including the taint chakra (Seriously, the red one is located in the perineum), and since they made up three words already, why couldn't they just make up a fourth?
Back in the feats, I mentioned three groups of chakras, Least, Lesser, and Greater. Least contains Crown, Feet, and Hands, Lesser is Arms, Brow, and Shoulders, and Greater is Throat and Waist. Heart and Soul are each separate, and require epic feats (and 20+ Con) to open for a non-Incarnate.
There may be some confusion about what I mean by "epic feats". In this case, it means a feat that you must be over level 20 to take. Although if an incarnum-bearing PC of mine did something suitably awesome, I'd probably give him one of those feats.
At any rate, the totemist's totem chakra operates slightly differently. Since it doesn't correspond to a magic item slot, totemist soulmelds must occupy a body chakra while being bound to the totem chakra. I assume this lets them wear and benefit from a magic item in the occupied chakra.
Soulmelds and magic interact, one can affect the other. This is somehow described as soulmeld-magic transparency, which makes absolutely zero goddamn sense. Dispel Magic suppresses a soulmeld's effects for 1d4 rounds, Detect Magic detects soulmelds, and dead magic areas suppress (but do not unshape) soulmelds. And, a little redundantly, it reiterates the fact from the PHB that bonuses of the same type do not stack.
CRAWLING IN MY SKIIIINOriginal SA post
As someone who's hopeless at the number crunching behind an RPG, how would a game of RIFTS play if you limited the classes available to players? No full cyborg conversions or glitter boys, for starters.
Well, that would tighten up the power scale, but you'd still have Eyeball A Fella on the bottom end.
And now, stygian clouds of charcoal ebony.
Magic of Incarnum, Part 6: CRAWLING IN MY SKIIIIN
Necrocarnum! It's evil! But not in the way that shaping soulmelds with the evil descriptor is evil, no, this is doubleplusungood badong evil! Most [Evil] soulmelds may be the souls of demons or fiends, but Necrocarnum is literally torturing good souls until they scream.
To use Necrocarnum, they intend for you to take the Necrocarnum Acolyte feat , but it's not actually needed except in edge cases and to qualify for the prestige class. Evil incarnates and soulborn can shape them because they have the [Evil] descriptor, so the feat, as mentioned previously, is only required for Lawful or Chaotic incarnates. Plus, there's absolutely no restriction on alignment for soulmelds shaped using the Shape Soulmeld feat, which I've personally used to make a paladin with Necrocarnum Circlet. It was Eberron and he was going to fall and take Bone Knight anyway.
All necrocarnum melds are shapable by both incarnates and soulborn. There are 6 soulmelds in the category, and a meldshaper of sufficiently high level can shape all 6 (Soulborn cap out at 5, but can use the prestige class to get all 6). There's only one chakra that's shared between two soulmelds, and each of those melds also offers a second chakra it can use. Chakras each soulmeld can be bound to (And, incidentally, which it can occupy) will be underlined. Binding a soulmeld to a chakra changes its flavor a little, but in all cases, I won't be covering that unless it's fairly interesting.
Necrocarnum bends itself into a matte black crown that seems to consume light. The fractured remnants of souls broken by the power of necrocarnum float within this soulmeld. These forms barely surface in this dark and foreboding crown, yet even the faintest glimpse is unsettling.
Binding it to the crown chakra lets you animate a necrocarnum zombie, but you take damage equal to its HD that won't heal until the zombie deanimates. While this is active, essentia invested in the crown increases the zombie's essentia pool.
A long cloak of shifting shadow drapes from your shoulders and down your back. Faint forms seem to swim in the depths of this shadow, tortured and twisted shapes that once might have been human. These apparitions writhe and buckle, wracked by incomprehensible agony. Their tortured, elongated faces hold their gaping mouths open in soundless eternal screams.
A deadening field of necrocarnum radiates from you, filling the air around you with faint, shadowy tendrils.
This one has two binds. The soul bind lets you deal 1d4 negative levels as a touch attack, each level inflicted granting you 1 temporary essentia for 1 round and 5 temporary HP for an hour. It also turns your skin and eyes matte black. The waist bind causes anyone within the Shroud's area at the start of your turn to become shaken for 1 round (Will negates).
Jet black shadows wreathe your hands and forearms, coiling and twisting with a life of their own. These insubstantial coils of energy hint at evil and agony, seeming to draw light and hope out of the surrounding area.
With essentia invested, you can make touch attacks on living creatures for 1d8 damage per essentia, Fortitude save for half. Binding it to your arms lets you do ranged touch attacks with the same damage within 30 feet.
Necrocarnum twists and writhes into the shape of long, flowing vestments. These vestments cling tightly to your shoulders, but drape loosely over the rest of your body, obscuring other garments behind an ever-shifting screen of terror. As with all necrocarnum melds, faint forms seem to swim in the depths of this shadowy vestment. These tortured apparitions seem wracked by incomprehensible agony, their elongated faces wrenched open in eternal screams.
At any rate, for cloaking yourself in "an ever-shifting screen of terror", you get... 5 points of resistance to cold. Essentia grants 3 HP per point. This is not temporary hp, and is not lost first. "You can render yourself staggered, unconscious, or even dead by changing the quantity of essentia invested in this soulmeld."
This one also has two binds, the heart bind renders you immune to stunning or death effects, and the waist bind causes anyone next to you at the end of your turn to take 1d6 cold damage (Fort negates).
Shadowy threads of necrocarnum bind to your melee weapon. This dark energy seems to ripple beneath the surface of the weapon, pulsing irregularly from your hands to the tip of the weapon and back again.
Naturally, there's also a prestige class dedicated to necrocarnum. The Necrocarnate is the unimaginatively-named analogue to the necromancer.
I can't tell what gender that's supposed to be. Meldshapers get armor, why is it dressed like a graveyard hooker?
The Necrocarnate is mildly irregular in that it has 13 levels. To qualify, you need a skill at 10, meaning you enter at 7th level and take it to 20. However, in this like many things, soulborn get shafted. Beyond the skill and Necrocarnum Acolyte feat requirements, it requires the ability to bind soulmelds to all three least chakras. Soulborn get this at 8th level, which means they can only take 12 levels of Necrocarnate, missing out on the soul chakra bind capstone.
The Necrocarnate has a d6 Hit Die, 1/2 BAB, and good Will save. Rather than add levels of your previous meldshaping class, it has its own progression of soulmelds and chakra binds. This is apparently intentional, because it doesn't gain more essentia that way. Instead, they gain a ritual to harvest souls at 1st level. Taking a recently-dead corpse, you rip the soul from it and turn it into essentia equal to half your necrocarnate level that lasts for 24 hours. You can apparently do this as often as you like, but you need a new corpse each time, it takes a full minute up until 10th level, and it doesn't seem to interfere with the potential to resurrect the corpse.
The other abilities gained are: A profane bonus to all saves equal to the number of necrocarnum melds shaped (This is a per diem ability, but has no duration or action listed); the ability to snare a dying creature's soul (in the form of essentia equal to half its level) for one round as an immediate action; Better functionality out of the Necrocarnum circlet bind (Half damage from raising a zombie and the ability to have 2 at once); and expanded essentia capacity for necrocarnum soulmelds.
Edge CasesOriginal SA post Magic of Incarnum, Part 7: Edge Cases
Several soulmelds are made for cross-classing, and a few have special rules even compared to the rest of incarnum. For the sake of my sanity, I'm ignoring the ones that just give bonuses to skills that would be cross-class for one or more of the meldshaping classes, and will be covering those in the chakra-specific posts.
When considering cross-class chakra binds, bear in mind that to open the crown, feet, or hands chakra via feats you need to be 6th level, 12th for arms/brow/shoulders, and 18th for throat or waist.
Soulspark Familiar : A spark of light hovers over your shoulder. While featureless, it seems to emote using its own brilliance, ranging from an angry burn to a contented glow. Incarnate/Soulborn, this has a single alignment descriptor matching the shaper's alignment. This summons a soulspark, a new incarnum-based creature. You gain Alertness while the meld is shaped, but if the soulspark ends its turn more than ten feet from you or loses all its HP, the meld unshapes. Investing essentia allows you to pick one of the following effects, and all essentia must be invested in that effect:
Align Attack: The first point grants the soulspark an alignment for overcoming damage reduction, the rest grant +1 damage versus oppositely-aligned creatures.
Attack Bonus: +1 attack/damage per essentia.
Deflection Bonus: +1 AC per essentia.
Healing: This grants fast healing based on the amount of essentia and the type of soulspark.
- Saving Throw Bonus: +1 bonus to all saves per essentia.
The soulspark itself looks like a fairly handy critter, with 13 hp, alignment DR, and a +5, 1d4+1 ranged attack on the least version. This is horribly misleading. The ranged attack has a range of 5 feet , its AC is in the toilet, and it caps out at a CR 7 creature (Which can be created by a 14th-level incarnate or 18th-level soulborn). Much like the incarnate, it's intended to be a fighter, but falls short in terms of capabilities.
Illusion Veil : You shape incarnum into a wispy veil, which fades into invisibility when you wear it. When you cast an illusion spell, tendrils of incarnum surround and merge with the illusory effect, making it more vibrant and believable. Incarnate/Soulborn. +1 save DC for illusion spells, +1 round of duration per point of essentia. Brow : See Invisibility, as well as a bonus on Spot and saves vs. illusion equal to essentia invested. The flavor for this bind turns it into a scanning visor.
Therapeutic Mantle : A sheath of incarnum energy surrounds your body and is slowly absorbed into your skin. As healing magic is applied to you, the affected area sparkles with tiny blue motes. Incarnate/Soulborn. This increases the healing bestowed on the shaper by a healing spell by an amount equal to the spell's level, +2 per essentia. Shoulders : Bonus to caster level for healing spells equal to the invested essentia.
Arcane Focus : A necklace of blue crystals fits around your neck. The crystals shed a faint glow that increases in brightness when you cast a damaging spell. Incarnate/Soulborn. Grants +1 spell damage, +1 per essentia. Throat : Damaging spells also daze the target for 1 round (Fort save at the soulmeld's DC negates).
Disenchanter Mask : You shape incarnum into a silvery mask with a long snout, clubbed protrusions at the crown, and a long, forked tongue. The silver scales of the mask glint and gleam in the light, and the tongue seems to sway of its own accord. Totemist. Can use Detect Magic with 10-foot range, +10 feet per essentia. Brow : Can instantly determine number, strength, and location of auras. Totem : Can make a touch attack with 5 foot greater-than-normal reach to suppress a magic item for ten minutes with a meldshaper level check.
Threefold Mask of the Chimera : You form incarnum into a three-sided mask that hovers in front of your face. As you turn your head, the mask does not turn with you, so you can look out three different sets of eyes—and somehow each face of the mask seems to color your view of the world through it. The mask depicts the three heads of a chimera—a savage dragon, a fierce lion, and a demonic goat. Totemist. You cannot be flanked, and gain +1 Search/Spot per essentia. Crown : Can take an extra move action, but you take a -5 penalty to attack rolls and AC next round, and can take only a move or standard action. This penalty is reduced by 1 per essentia invested. Totem : Gain three natural weapons: A 1d8 bite, a 1d6 bite, and a 1d6 gore. You can attack with one as a standard action, attack with all three and full BAB/Str bonus as a full attack, or attack with one at -5 attack and half Str as part of a full attack.
This meld also happens to have a soul bind, available only to epic-level totemists. It functions as the crown bind, but lets you take a standard action instead and costs all your actions next turn.
Use Your HeadOriginal SA post Magic of Incarnum, Part 8: Use Your Head
The crown/brow soulmelds tend to focus on awareness, mental effects, and communication, but there are a handful of wild cards in the mix.
I'm going to skip verbatim pastes of the flavor for the most part, but I will provide pictures wherever possible.
Crystal Helm : Looks doofy . Incarnate/Soulborn, [Force] descriptor. +2 resistance bonus to saves vs. charm/compulsion. Essentia grants deflection AC. Crown : Your melee attacks gain the [Force] descriptor, letting you attack incorporeal creatures.
Diadem of Purelight : Incarnate/Soulborn, [Light]. 20-foot radius of bright light, with shadowy illumination double that. All creatures within any of the light gain +2 to Spot. Essentia expands the radius of bright light by 10 feet per point, with a corresponding increase to the shadowy part. Crown : The light negates anything short of total concealment. They told me I could be anything, so I became a lighthouse.
Enigma Helm : Incarnate/Soulborn. You wear the soul of mystery as a stylish hat, and anyone casting a divination spell on you needs to succeed on a caster level check based off your meldshaper level. Bonus to Will saves equal to the essentia invested. Crown : Immunity to charm effects.
Keeneye Lenses : Incarnate. Remember that chick I mentioned, N!doka the North Star? This is one of the soulmelds she was known for. In its basic form, it gives you +4 to Spot, +2 per essentia. Brow : See Invisibility, and your eyes turn completely blue. Soul : True Seeing.
Mage's Spectacles : Incarnate. Provides +4 to Decipher Script, Spellcraft, and Use Magic Device, +2 per essentia, and allows use of all three untrained. Brow : Constant Read Magic effect.
Planar Chasuble : Incarnate. Your big blue poncho gives you an alignment subtype based on your own alignment, rendering you native to any plane with the appropriate alignment trait, and extraplanar on the Material Plane. You also gain resistance to an energy type based on your alignment, starting at 10, +5 per essentia. Brow : The bonus granted by your incarnum radiance increases by 1. Soul : Gate 1/week.
Silvertongue Mask : Incarnate/Soulborn. +2 Bluff+Diplomacy, +2 per essentia. Brow : Bonus also applies to Sense Motive. Throat : Suggestion at-will.
Truthseeker Goggles : Incarnate/Soulborn. +2 on Gather Information, Search, and Sense Motive, +2 per essentia. Brow : 60-foot darkvision.
Hunter's Circlet : Soulborn/Totemist. +2 on Heal and Survival, +2 per point of essentia. Crown : The Track feat. Totem : Gain Scent Jr., all the great detection abilities of scent, with only 15-foot range! I like this one, personally, although a Ranger with a couple of ToB feats can do it better.
Soulspeaker Circlet : Soulborn. You can understand, but not speak, read, or write, one language, plus one per point of essentia. Crown : You can now speak those languages. Throat : Telepathy with a range of 20 feet per point of essentia.
Fearsome Mask : Soulborn, [Mind-Affecting]. Your Halloween mask (This is literally what it is, a mask of an outsider matching your alignment) grants +2 to Intimidate checks, +2 per point of essentia. Brow : Gain an enemies-only gaze attack that leaves them shaken for one minute.
Beast Tamer Circlet : Totemist. Rather than picking a specific magical beast, you just order the salad bar. This grants +2 to Handle animal and wild empathy checks, +2 per point of essentia. Crown : Speak With Animals as long as essentia is invested, with the added bonus of being able to talk to magical beasts with an Intelligence of 1 or 2. Totem : You can use Animal Trance once per minute, as long as you have essentia invested.
Frost Helm : Looks pretty cool to me! Totemist, [Cold, Sonic]. Donning the jaws and forehead nodule of the mighty frost worm , you gain the ability to survive in very cold temperatures (down to -50 Fahrenheit) without needing to make Fort saves. You also gain 5 points of cold resistance per point of essentia. Crown : You can make a ray attack (no range listed) for 1d6 cold damage, +1d6 per essentia. Totem : You can trill like a frost worm, stunning one enemy (+1 per essentia) within 20 feet for 1d4 rounds, Will negates.
Shedu Crown : Totemist, [Good, Mind-Affecting]. The shedu appears in the Fiend Folio, and is not Open Game Content, so all you get is the Wikipedia page . By shaping it, you are immune to bull rush, including spells that use the same rules. Essentia grants you a bonus on saves vs. mind-affecting effects, 1 per point. Crown : 100-foot telepathy. Always useful. Heart : You can go ethereal for a number of rounds per day equal to your meldshaper level. Totem : You can fucking trample bitches. Acceptable targets are those your size or smaller, and it deals 1d8 damage (or 1d6 for small shapers), plus 1.5x your Str bonus.
Basilisk Mask : Oh hey, this guy again . Totemist. Grants low-light vision, and 30-foot darkvision per essentia. Brow : The Blind-Fight feat. Totem : Petrifying gaze! Well, kind of. One enemy, 30 feet, for one round. And it's a full-round action with a Fort save, so you can maybe lock down the wizard if you win initiative.
Great Raptor Mask : Totemist. Resembling a giant eagle or giant owl, this grants you the great bird's visual acuity: +2 to Spot checks, +2 per essentia. Brow : You gain the superior low-light vision of the giant owl . Totem : Evasion!
Krenshar Mask : Totemist, [Fear, Mind-Affecting, Sonic]. The krenshar is more of a nuisance than a real credible threat, but wearing its soul lets you be as nimble and awe-inspiring as it is. More, even. This meld grants a +4 bonus to Jump and Move Silently, +2 per essentia. Brow : The same bonus now applies to Intimidate as well. Totem : You can screech as a standard action, causing one creature within 30 feet to become frightened (Will negates).
Unicorn Horn : Totemist. This one seems a little out of whack. Rather than any of the classical unicorn abilities, like proof against poison or purity-related things, you instead gain +2 bonuses to wild empathy and Move Silently, +2 per essentia. Those are the abilities that the unicorn gets racial bonuses to, but still. Brow : Detect Evil at will. Totem : Gain a gore attack for 1d6, +1d6 vs undead, with a bonus to attack and damage equal to the invested essentia.
Yrthak Mask : Totemist, [Sonic]. Yrthak? Really? +4 to Listen checks, +2 per essentia. Brow : Gain a kind of blindsense. You can pinpoint the locations of all creatures within 10 feet, increasing by 10 feet per point of essentia in the mask. You also take a -4 penalty to spot checks, but this also translates into a +4 bonus against gaze attacks, visual illusions, and whatnot. Totem : Every 2 rounds, you can make a 60-foot ray attack that does 1d6 sonic damage, +1d6 per essentia.
Also on this list from previous installments: Illusion Veil, Necrocarnum Circlet, Disenchanter Mask, Threefold Mask of the Chimera, and Soulspark Familiar twice.
AlignmentOriginal SA post Magic of Incarnum Mini-Update: Alignment? Alignment!
Just how restrictive are the alignment restrictions on shaping soulmelds? To recap, Incarnates and Soulborn are prohibited from shaping any soulmelds with alignment descriptors that clash with their alignments. However, there aren't that many soulmelds that even have an alignment descriptor.
A decent amount of the alignment-based ones simply take on the alignment descriptor of the shaper, like Incarnate Avatar, Incarnate Weapon, or Soulspark Familiar.
The Shedu Crown has the good descriptor, as does the Lammasu Mantle, but they're only available to totemists.
Armguards of Disruption: damage, AC and saves versus undead.
All Necrocarnum melds have the evil descriptor, but the Necrocarnum Acolyte feat unlocks the category for chaotic or lawful incarnates.
The Lamia Belt is evil-aligned, but again is totemist-only.
Bloodwar Gauntlets: Melee attack+damage, critical threats, and you can unshape it for an area effect.
Gloves of the Poisoned Soul: Wis+Str damage poison.
There are no soulmelds with the [Chaotic] or [Lawful] descriptors, except for the ones that take on the shaper's alignment. If there's a reason for the restriction beyond the project director pounding on his desk with a bone and screaming "ALIGNMENT!", it's a mystery to me.
Halls Wintergreen Wolf Soul, For Soothing Throat ReliefOriginal SA post Magic of Incarnum, Part 9: Halls Wintergreen Wolf Soul, For Soothing Throat Relief
Throat soulmelds usually deal with communication or breath weapons, and shoulders melds usually provide protective effects, but as usual there's a grab bag of effects once you look closer.
In case the order I cover these in seems obtuse, the book provides orderly lists of all the soulmelds separated by class. First I go over the Incarnate list, then I put in the ones the Soulborn list has, and finally Totemist.
Adamant Pauldrons : Fairly unobtrusive. Incarnate. Provides light fortification and alignment DR equal to the invested essentia. Shoulders : Increases to 50% fortification. This one has some historical flavor notes: Despite its utility, this meld gets a bad rap because they were used by a necrocarnate, Murthien the Soul-Render.
Lammasu Mantle : So awesome. Incarnate/Totemist, [Good]. That little mini-update I did on alignment? Had an error. There are actually two incarnate soulmelds with the Good descriptor. In any case, your glorious feathery cape grants +2 AC vs. evil creatures, and a bonus to saves from their abilities equal to the invested essentia. Arms : The benefits extend to allies within 10 feet. Shoulders : non-good summoned creatures cannot approach within 10 feet, much like a Magic Circle spell. Totem : 15-foot cone of fire, at-will, 1d4+1d4 per essentia. In theory, an Incarnate/Totemist could wring an extra die or two out of the totem bind by convincing the DM that because it's on both class lists, he can totem bind it and still get the bonus essentia capacity both for Totemist totem binds and incarnate soulmelds. In practice, congratulations, you got another 1d4 fire damage, the most commonly-soaked damage type out there.
Mantle of Flame : We also have a wheelbarrow. Incarnate, [Fire]. You may be wondering how you can pull flame from a soul. I could provide some planar theory about fire elementals, but the truth is much stupider. Vengeance burns like a fire in people's hearts, and this soulmeld is vengeance made flame . Still, this is fairly handy: 1d6 fire damage to anyone hitting you with their body or a close-range melee weapon, +1d6 per essentia. It also provides shadowy illumination in your space. Shoulders : At will, you can flare it into a burst in your adjacent squares, dealing that damage to everyone.
Pauldrons of Health : Incarnate/Soulborn. Immunity to disease and the nauseated and sickened conditions. Essentia grants Fort save bonus. Shoulders : Add energy drain to those immunities. Fairly uninteresting immunities, but handy if you're facing certain undead, and I can picture members of a sewer worker's guild having this through Shape Soulmeld.
Wind Cloak : Incarnate/Soulborn. No weak justification like the soul of vengeance or mystery here, this is just a moving shell of incarnum. DR 2/magic versus ranged weapons, +2/essentia. This functions against all ranged weapons, so go ahead, stand in front of that ballista. It also serves as a ward against Tiny and smaller flying creatures. Shoulders : The wind cloak itself provides the Deflect Arrows feat, with essentia increasing the number of arrows it can deflect per round.
Apparition Ribbon : Incarnate. Lets you reroll the miss chance due to fighting incorporeal enemies. +2 damage versus those enemies per essentia, too. Throat : You can go incorporeal for a number of minutes equal to your meldshaper level.
Dissolving Spittle : Incarnate, [Acid]. This is the go-to attack soulmeld for an incarnate, being a 30-foot ranged touch attack dealing 1d6 acid damage, +1d6 per essentia. Throat : Oh god, now it's sticky! Your acid deals a second round of damage a round after you hit with it. This is really remarkably better than 90% of the attack soulmelds, because you don't need to bind it and you're reliably dropping 2-3d6 damage per round at early levels. It drops off in comparison to wizard spells later, but it's still handy because not too much has acid resistance. Murthien the Soul-Render used this one, too.
Planar Ward : Incarnate. The base flavor on this is an Egyptian scarab holding the sun disc. The prevalence of notEgypt in D&D always vaguely mystifies me when I encounter it, although it occasionally leads to hilarity like Blessed of Tem-Et-Nu. But I digress. This protects against mental control and possession of all types. Essentia bestows a bonus vs the spell-like and supernatural abilities of extraplanar creatures. Throat : Any extraplanar creature striking you must make a saving throw or be forced back to its home plane. If it saves, it's immune for a while.
Of minor interest is the fact that, except for the Soulspeaker Circlet, the Soulborn has no unique soulmelds for their shoulders or throat, they share all of them with the Incarnate.
Displacer Mantle : Who's got two tentacles and a face like a bad road? This guy! Totemist. The displacer beast is apparently D&D product identity, like the beholder, so it doesn't appear in the SRD. Regardless, it is stealthy as fuck, giving +4 to Hide, +2 per essentia. Shoulders : Constant concealment, similar to Blur . Totem : Tentacles! 1d4 damage each, and they have reach, but you can't make AoOs with them. +1 damage per essentia.
Kruthik Claws : Totemist, [Acid]. Kruthiks are from the Miniatures Handbook, are very agile, stealthy hunters, and basically look like Zerglings. This one grants +4 Hide/Move Silently, +2 per essentia. Hands : Gain Weapon Finesse, but only when using natural weapons. Shoulders : resistance to acid 10, +5 per essentia. Totem : Two 1d6 claw attacks, +1d4 acid damage per essentia.
Pegasus Cloak : Banzai! Totemist. If you're going for "winged magical critter", you're going to come up with " pegasus " really darn quick. Constant Feather Fall , and +2 to Jump checks, increasing by 2 per essentia. Shoulders : You can fly! Average maneuverability, speed 10 feet per point of essentia. Totem : Same as shoulders, except you need to end your movement on a solid surface or you (feather) fall. Since you open the shoulders chakra well after the totem chakra, it's just the organization that makes that look weird.
Phase Cloak : Totemist. The phase spider looks like a vermin, acts like a vermin, but surprise! It's a magical beast! You can also surprise your foes with this soulmeld. In its basic form, it provides +4 to Climb checks, +2 per essentia, and you can always take 10 and retain your Dex bonus while climbing. The basic flavor is kinda cool, because it looks like you're wearing a cloak made of Rorschach's mask stuff. There's a few soulmelds I'd take just for flavor, even before their mechanical benefits, and this is one of them. Shoulders : You become ethereal whenever you move. This has all the attendant benefits and drawbacks, and you solidify at the end of each move, so you still need to be in the clear if you double move. Totem : Your head turns into a spider's! You gain a 1d4 bite attack with a mild Con poison.
Shadow Mantle : Totemist, [Darkness]. Hey, remember the darkmantle ? Anyone? No? Well, they're stealthy and cave-dwelling, that's what's important. This meld grants +4 Listen, +2 per essentia. Shoulders : You can create a globe of magical darkness, and you get blindsight within that same radius. Good for ambushing people, except for the fact that it's a GLOBE OF MAGICAL DARKNESS. I have never seen how that spell could be any more obvious a sign of shenanigans. Area of the globe is 5 feet to start, expanding by five feet per essentia. Totem : The bonus to Listen checks now applies to Hide checks as well.
Totem Avatar : Totemist. This is the big one. Totemist and Incarnate each gets a full-body morph meld that exemplifies the creatures they revere. In the Totem Avatar's case, you get to wear five different magical beasts renowned for their strength and ferocity. The base form is the grey render, and grants you bonus HP equal to your meldshaper level. Putting essentia in increases your natural armor AC. Arms : The avatar resembles an owlbear, and you get Improved Grapple. Feet : Form of Ravager! From Monster Manual II, these are huge, elephantine murder machines. You gain the stability of a quadruped and a bit of size, registering as +8 (!) to resist bull rush, trip, and overrun attacks, and +4 to resist grapples. Heart : Motherfucking tarrasque , bitches! DR 5/magic, boosted by essentia. Virtually useless at that level. Shoulders : A blood ape. MMII again, these are just fuckoff big red gorillas. Your natural weapons are treated as a size category larger. Totem : Still the grey render, only moreso. Bonus to damage on natural weapons equal to the essentia invested. Unfortunately, like so much in this book, this meld is impressive, but not overly useful.
Ankheg Breastplate : Totemist, [Acid]. +2 armor bonus to AC, no penalties, counts as light armor. AC increases with essentia. Throat : Line attack once a minute, starting at 5 feet and 2d6 acid damage, increasing by 5 feet and 1d6 per essentia. Totem : 1d8 bite attack, plus 1d4 acid damage per essentia. Fairly useful, but the AC bonus is pretty well outstripped due to the essentia capacity limits. Of course, since it doesn't occupy the soul chakra, you can still wear it and a suit of armor, although they don't stack.
Behir Gorget : Totemist, [Lightning]. The behir is famous for two things: Having a breath weapon and scales but not being a dragon, and having a metric fuckton of legs. It gives you +4 to resist bull rush or trip attacks, and 5 points of electricity resistance per essentia. Throat : Line attack once a minute, starting at 5 feet and 2d6 electricity damage, increasing by 5 feet and 1d6 per essentia. Totem : 1d8 bite attack, plus 1d4 electricity damage per essentia. Copy/Paste from Ankheg Breastplate, hope no one notices.
Brass Mane : Banzai! Again! Totemist, [Sonic]. The dragonne . Like a dragon, but also like a lion! Two great tastes that- ROOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAR! +4 Intimidate, +2 per essentia. Throat : Can roar once a minute, fatiguing those within 10 feet. Essentia extends the radius by 10 feet per point. Totem : A 1d8 bite attack! What were the odds?! Essentia provides a straight-up enhancement bonus to attack and damage.
Gorgon Mask : Er... care for a breath mint? Totemist. Pardon me while I sperg a little. I've never felt comfortable with the Gygaxian gorgon . The beast is a weird version of the Khalkotauri of the Argonautica , labeled with the race that Medusa and her sisters belonged to. That aside, it is kickin' rad. This meld gives you +1 on fort saves and +2 to resist bull rush, trip, overrun or trample attacks. Essentia increases both those bonuses on a 1-to-1 basis. Throat : Flesh to Stone on an adjacent creature, 1/day. Totem : A trample attack just like the Shedu Crown's.
Winter Mask : Totemist, [Cold]. The soul of the winter wolf grants you the power of the arctic cold. With a touch, you can fatigue opponents, and deal 1d4 nonlethal cold damage per essentia. Throat : A breath weapon! 2d6 cold, +2d6 per essentia, 15-foot cone, every 1d4 rounds. Totem : A 1d6 bite attack, with 1d4 cold damage per essentia.
Also on this list from prior installments: Soulspark Familiar, Arcane Focus, Silvertongue Mask, Therapeutic Mantle, Soulspeaker Circlet, and Necrocarnum Mantle.
Boy, they used Cloak and Mantle a hell of a lot more than they used Pauldrons, and pauldrons are a lot cooler. Just ask anyone (from Warhammer)!
Shocking GropeOriginal SA post Magic of Incarnum Part 10: Shocking Grope
Merry Christmas! Your present is soulmelds! Enjoy your vague physical representations of incorporeal concepts, and don't forget to let your brother play with them too!
Hand and arm soulmelds share most of the attack abilities, and also have a bunch of enhancements to your normal attacks.
Bloodwar Gauntlets : Incarnate, [Evil, Mind-Affecting]. For borrowing some of the ferocity of the demons and devils fighting on the Lower Planes, this is a very weaksauce soulmeld. +1 to melee attack rolls, +1 to melee damage per essentia. Arms : You can unshape the soulmeld to create a 20-foot burst centered on you, dealing 3d6 damage per point of essentia, Fort save for half. Hands : +4 to confirm melee criticals. The only thing of even questionable utility over other arm/hand melds is the arms bind, and that's a 1/day thing. Granted, anything to help an incarnate's anemic BAB is helpful, but this is just a cherry atop a shit sundae.
Lightning Gauntlets : Incarnate, [Electricity]. These are what gave N!doka the North Star her title, she zapped the fuck out of a lot of things. 1d6 electricity damage as a touch attack, +1d6 per essentia. Hands : You can add the damage to a weapon, unarmed strike, or natural attack. These are decent, except for the fact that incarnates don't belong in melee, despite what they try and make you think.
Lucky Dice : Incarnate/Soulborn. The soul of mystery, the soul of vengeance, and now the soul of luck! When you use these, you actually roll physical dice (2d6) as well as these in-game objects. If the roll totals 7, you get a +1 bonus to attack/damage, saves, and skill/ability checks for one round, +1 round per essentia. Any other total and you need to pick one of the three. Hands : The bonus affects allies within 30 feet as well.
Sighting Gloves : Incarnate/Soulborn. +1 damage with ranged weapons, +1/essentia. Hands : Precise Shot.
Theft Gloves : Incarnate. +2 Disable Device, Open Lock, and Sleight of Hand, +2 per essentia, and you can use them untrained. Hands : Trapfinding! But no Search.
Armguards of Disruption : Incarnate/Soulborn, [Good]. 1d6 damage to undead as a touch attack, +1d6 per essentia. Arms : AC and saving throw bonus equal to essentia, only effective against undead. Thematic, but situational, most of the time you're going to have Lightning Gauntlets shaped if you want touch attacks. Although you can have both, since there's no chakra conflict.
Bluesteel Bracers : Do not go with his shoes . These are basic warrior souls, and grant +2 to initiative and a bonus on weapon damage per essentia. Arms : The initiative bonus extends to allies within 30 feet.
Incarnate Weapon : That's a longsword . Incarnate, [Chaotic, Lawful, Evil, or Good]. This is one of the ones that changes descriptor based on alignment, and it also changes form. The meld takes shape as an oversized weapon that still functions as if it were sized for you. The flavor for this meld is that it is the essence of your alignment given form. Lawful incarnates shape a longsword, chaotic a battleaxe, good warhammer, and evil flail. You're automatically proficient with it, any weapon-specific feats apply, and it has your alignment descriptor for overcoming DR. It can't be sundered, and returns to your hand automatically at the beginning of your turn. Other people can use it in that time as if it were a normal, nonmagical weapon of its type. Essentia grants it an enhancement bonus. Arms : You can charge it up and stun people with it. I suppose this is decent at low levels, because you have a magic weapon that outstrips those you can buy for a while. You're still trying to use it with 1/2 BAB, though.
Lifebond Vestments : Incarnate. These change color based on your alignment, and let you lay on hands, healing up to 1 HP per meldshaper level, +5/essentia, but you take half the damage yourself (round up). You can't use them on someone more than once per hour. Arms : Increases range to 30 feet. Heart : Removes the hourly limit. I think.
Riding Bracers : Incarnate/Soulborn/Totemist. Yes, this is the only soulmeld that all three classes can shape. It is the soul energy of both horsemen and horses, and provides +4 to Handle Animal and Ride, +2/essentia. Arms : +2 melee damage and +2 dodge AC when mounted. Totem : If riding an animal or magical beast with Int of 1 or 2, you can handle it as a free action or push it as a move action, even if Handle Animal is untrained. Additionally, your mount gains evasion.
Sailor's Bracers : Incarnate/Soulborn. +4 on Swim, Profession (Sailor) (and you can use it untrained) and Use Rope, +2/essentia. Arms : You can swim half your speed as a move action, and take no penalty to attack rolls when underwater.
Gloves of the Poisoned Soul : Soulborn, [Evil]. Poisonous touch attack, dealing 1 Wis/1 Wis damage. Essentia increases that point-for-point. Hands : Does Str damage, too.
Mauling Gauntlets : You are huge! That means you have huge guts! Soulborn. +2 on strength checks (but not Str skills), +2/essentia. Arms : Double threat range for melee weapons. Hands : Improved Unarmed Strike and a bonus to damage equal to the Strength check bonus.
Bloodtalons : Totemist. Blood hawks, from the Fiend Folio, are voracious, bloodthirsty predators, capable of fighting until they drop dead. With this meld shaped, you can continue to act without penalty while in negative HP, although you still die if you hit -10. Hands : Weapon Finesse when using natural weapons. Totem : Two 1d4 claw attacks, bleeding for 1 damage per essentia in the round after. Essentia also increases your attack bonus with the claws.
Rageclaws : Totemist, [Mind-Affecting]. Instead of a specific beast, this channels the general fury and survival instinct of the wild. Like the Bloodtalons, you can fight while disabled or dying. Essentia postpones the point at which you die by 3 per point, so with 1 essentia you die at -13 HP. Hands : +2 on melee attack, melee damage, and Fort saves when below 0 HP. Totem : Two 1d6 claw attacks, and you can use them both in a grapple without penalty. Essentia boosts attack and damage.
Sphinx Claws : You know what, I'm not gonna hide this one behind a link.
...Have I mentioned yet that Totemists are badass? This meld grants +1 on Strength checks and Strength-based skills, +1 per essentia. Hands : You can pounce with natural weapons, making a full attack with them at the end of a charge. But if you do, you can't use manufactured weapons at the same time. Totem : Two 1d8 claws, essentia boosts attack and damage like usual.
Worg Pelt : Totemist. The worg is a swift, stealthy hunter, as is a totemist using this meld. +2 Hide/Move Silently, +2/essentia. Feet : +5 feet land speed, +5 per essentia. Hands : When you hit with a bite attack, you can make a free trip attempt. Totem : a 1d6 bite attack, essentia boosts attack and damage.
Dread Carapace : Totemist. This is that big orange thing stuck to the tarrasque's back. This also makes the tarrasque the only creature represented in more than one soulmeld. This meld essentially gives you a Power Attack-like ability with natural weapons: You take -1 to attack rolls, but deal +2 damage with a bite or +1 damage with any other type of natural attack. Essentia investment makes all of those increase proportionally, 3 essentia would mean -4 attack, +8 bite, +4 claw/tail/gore/wing/wong. Arms : Critical threat range for all your natural attacks doubles. Feet : The tarrasque has one weird ability: It can sprint like a motherfucker. This gives you the same ability, once a minute you can add 60 feet to your land speed for a round, +10 feet per essentia. Heart : Spell resistance, 5+4/essentia. Totem : Frightful presence, enemies within 60 feet become shaken for 1 round when you charge (Will negates). Very useful, highly customizable, why can't more soulmelds be like this?
Girallon Arms : Rip and tear! Totemist. The girallon is big, white, and has four arms. +2 on Climb and grapple checks, +2/essentia. Arms : You can rend if you hit with two or more claw attacks, dealing double claw damage. Totem : Four 1d4 claw attacks, one primary, three secondary. Essentia provides a bonus to attack and damage.
Kraken Mantle : Totemist. +8 to Swim, and you can swim half your speed as a move action. Essentia increases that speed by 5 feet per point. Arms : Bonus to grapple checks equal to invested essentia. Totem : Water Breathing.
Also on this list: Necrocarnum Weapon, Lammasu Mantle, Necrocarnum Touch, Kruthik Claws, and Totem Avatar.
I've got four chakras left to cover, but there aren't many entries under Heart and Soul, and a lot of them have been covered already, so I'm going to try and bang out the entire set in the next update, then we're on into more interesting pastures.
Feets do ALL the things!Original SA post Magic of Incarnum, Part 11: Feets do ALL the things!
Here we are, the last stretch of soulmelds, then we can move on into mildly more interesting pastures.
Waist soulmelds tend to cover defense and feats of strength or endurance. Those occupying the feet are, as could be expected, primarily concerned with movement. The heart chakra is otherwise occupied by vests, and these melds are again mostly defensive in nature. The soul chakra conflicts with armor, and binding to it is exclusively the demesne of the incarnate, at least until you get up into epic levels. Soul-bound melds tend to be pretty good, but not high-level-armor good.
Acrobat Boots : Incarnate. +2 on Balance, Escape Artist, Jump, and Tumble, +2/essentia. Feet : Reduce falling damage by 1d6/essentia.
Airstep Sandals : Don't match his bracers. And also don't match the soulmeld's flavor! Incarnate. You can fly 10 feet (good maneuverability) as a move action, +10 ft. per essentia, but need to end your move solidly supported or you fall. Feet : Maneuverability improves to perfect, meaning you move like a hummingbird instead of a plane.
Cerulean Sandals : Incarnate/Soulborn. These are souls linked to the Astral Plane, thus weightless. Is this another flight meld? Nope, water walking! Essentia grants a 5-foot increase to land speed per point. Feet : Dimension Door as a standard action, in 10-foot increments, up to 10 feet per meldshaper level. Once you reach that point, the meld unshapes.
Impulse Boots : Incarnate/Soulborn. Uncanny dodge and a bonus to Reflex saves equal to invested essentia. Feet : Evasion. Useful, but not exciting.
Flame Cincture : Incarnate/Soulborn,
Strongheart Vest : Incarnate/Soulborn. This one is kind of useful for anyone, it reduces incoming ability score damage by 1 point, +1 per essentia. Heart : Immunity to energy drain and death attacks. Waist : Stops ability score drain as well as damage. There's some cheese you can theoretically do with this, involving the Hellfire Warlock, a PrC that takes a point of Constitution damage every time it uses its main ability. There's been some pretty heavy argument about it, and I think the official stance is that the vest doesn't work on ability score damage incurred as a cost.
Vitality Belt : Incarnate. +4 on Constitution checks and skill checks, but not fort saves. Essentia gives you bonus hit points at a rate of your meldshaper level per point. Waist : Immunity to Con damage and drain. This one is actually pretty boss at medium-high levels. A 20th-level incarnate would be gaining at least 100 hp if he filled it. Of course, there's the whole "You can kill yourself if you're not careful" caveat, and anyone going up against a high-level incarnate is really encouraged to have the Divest Essentia spell in some form.
Spellward Shirt : Incarnate/Soulborn. Spell resistance 5, +4/essentia. Heart : Complete immunity to 4 spells of 6th level or lower.
Fellmist Robe : Neener neener! Incarnate. This is either the souls of swamp-dwelling creatures, or the wispy souls of the dead. Nonadjacent attackers (Archers and things with reach), have a 10% miss chance against you, +5%/essentia. Your own attacks are unaffected. Soul : Miss chance applies against adjacent enemies, too.
Incarnate Avatar : Incarnate, [Chaotic, Lawful, Evil, or Good]. This is the incarnate's full-body meld, and it's a doozy. You take the form of a powerful outsider representing your alignment. This meld is unique in that it has no effect on its own. In the basic sense, investing essentia into it provides similar bonuses to incarnum radiance. Since each alignment has a different effect with it, I'll cover each separately:
Chaos: A blue slaad, the better to eat you with, my dear. +1 to ranged attack rolls per essentia.
: +30-foot bonus to land speed.
Evil: A nycaloth, one of the neutral evil fiends they came up with. +2 to melee damage per essentia.
: Fly speed of 30 feet.
Good: An astral deva, your basic angel, just with green skin. +1 AC per essentia.
: Fly speed of 30 feet.
- Law: A marut, one of those kickass inevitables.. +1 to melee attack per essentia. Soul : Immunity to daze, paralysis, petrification, stun, and slow.
Thunderstep Boots : Soulborn, [Sonic]. This is the only meld in this category that's Soulborn-only. It lets you deal 1d4 sonic damage when charging, +1d4/essentia. Feet : Enemy is stunned to boot ( ), Fortitude negates.
Landshark Boots : Totemist. The bulette is one of the iconic D&D monsters, and closely associated with the powers of the earth by totemists. This meld gives you +4 to Jump checks, +2 per essentia. Feet : Limited tremorsense, you can determine how many creatures are touching the ground within 10 feet of you, +5/essentia, but can't pinpoint them. Would this actually be useful? Totem : Four 1d6 claws, +1 atk/dmg per essentia. You can only use two of them normally, but if you can jump on an enemy, you can attack with all four, but nothing else.
Urskan Greaves : Totemist. Urskans appear in Frostburn, and are basically those huge fuckoff armored bears from The Golden Compass. With their boots on, you can move through ice and snow at normal speed, and have +5 to Balance on ice. essentia grants resistance to cold, 5/point. Feet : You deal an additional 1d4 damage per essentia when you charge. Totem : When you overrun someone, they can't avoid you, and you gain +2, +1 per essentia, on the check to knock the dude down.
Heart of Fire : Totemist, [Fire]. The remorhaz is hard to spell. And also fiery. This meld grants +1 to attack and damage versus creatures with the cold subtype, +1/essentia. Waist : Any creature striking the shaper with a natural weapon or unarmed strike takes 1d6 fire damage per essentia. Weapons take the same amount of damage themselves, but most weapons take half damage from fire. Creatures grappling the shaper take the damage every round. Totem : Natural weapons and unarmed strikes deal 1d4 fire damage per essentia.
Lamia Belt : Totemist, [Evil]. The lamia are evil, cruel, and deceptive, as well as being agile attackers. This meld grants +4 to Hide and Bluff, the skills a lamia has racial bonuses in, +2 per essentia. Waist : +10 ft. land speed, and Spring Attack. Totem : Your lower body grows tauric, gaining two 1d4 claws usable as secondary natural weapons.
Manticore Belt : Totemist. +2 Jump and Spot, +2/essentia. Waist : 10-foot fly speed per point of essentia, clumsy maneuverability, plus the Flyby Attack feat. Totem : You gain the manticore's tail spikes. You can fire one per point of essentia invested, 30-foot range increment, and all targets must be within 30 feet of each other. That always struck me as a clunky targeting method, but it is the best way to represent a spray of projectiles rather than a space-filling cone. Each spike deals 1d6 plus half Str bonus.
Phoenix Belt : Totemist, [Fire]. You can exist comfortably up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and gain 5 points of fire resistance per essentia. Waist : If you resist fire damage by any means, you gain fast healing 1 for as many rounds as there was resisted damage. Totem : At will, you can create a small explosion around yourself, dealing 1d6 fire damage per essentia to those adjacent to you.
Wormtail Belt : Totemist. The mighty purple worm ! Tough! Powerful! Poisonous! In basic form, this meld enhances your natural armor by 2, +1/essentia. Waist : The Awesome Blow feat, with a few minor changes. Totem : A 1d6 stinger as a natural weapon. It carries poison, of course: 1d4 Str initial, no secondary. Essentia increases attack rolls and poison save DC.
Blink Shirt : Banzai the Third: Banzai Harder! Totemist. Dimension Door as a standard action, 10 feet+10/essentia. Heart : Blink at will. Totem : You can dimension door as a move action now. This is probably one of the totemist's primary soulmelds, and no wonder. Who doesn't like teleporting?
Most of the heart/soul melds have bindings on other chakras as well, so it's no surprise that this list is rather long: Necrocarnum Shroud, Necrocarnum Vestments, Lifebond Vestments, Keeneye Lenses, Planar Chasuble, Dread Carapace, Totem Avatar, Worg Pelt, Shedu Crown, and Threefold Mask of the Chimera.
And finally we're out of the bigass list, only a couple smaller lists to go. I want to get away from the main content of the book for a bit and discuss potential applications, now that we've got the main content out of the way. I don't keep a close eye on CharOp strategies or anything like that, so I'd like to hear from you guys: Beyond Hellfire Warlock/Strongheart Vest and whatever other combos I've mentioned, what sort of multiclass incarnum-dipping shenanigans have you heard of? Or thought of?
What's in it for me?Original SA post Magic of Incarnum, Part 12: What's In It for Me?
So, you've heard enough about incarnum by now to make an informed decision on whether you want to use it or not. For those that do, the question now becomes: How will you use it? Aside from Totemist, the classes aren't extraordinary. My friend, 80% of your troubles can be solved by two simple words: Shape Soulmeld. The other 20% can also be solved by two words*, but that's another story.
Shape Soulmeld, and indeed the rest of the incarnum feats, are open to any character with a 13 or higher Constitution score. This gives you a single soulmeld, chosen at the time you take the feat, and immutable thereafter.
There are two urges driving the vast majority of character-building decisions: Flavor, and mechanics. For flavor, a soulmeld is hard to beat. A general wearing a glorious cloak of golden feathers, a necromancer with a tattered cloak writhing of its own volition behind him, a brawler with blood-red metal gauntlets. If your DM lets you reassign flavor as you wish, so much the better. The totemist I was partied with reflavored his soulmelds into shadowy cat-like things, as an example.
Mechanics, however, are a mixed bag. The majority of soulmelds simply add to skills. When selecting a soulmeld, you thus need to weigh its benefit against that of all the other skill-boosting feats. Most of them are okay, as they'll provide +4 to one skill or +2 to three or four, mechanically outstripping Skill Focus and the +2-to-two group. Naturally, some will be better, and better suited to a concept, than others. A rogue could not go far wrong with Acrobat Boots or Theft Gloves, for instance, and certain ones would get mileage out of Mage's Spectacles or Truthseeker Goggles.
But for those not seeking skills, there are still a plethora of options available. If you're missing a ranged attack, why not use Dissolving Spittle? Hock corrosive loogies at your foes! The Ankheg Breastplate is the equivalent of leather armor without any pesky arcane spell failure. Without a source of essentia, it never gets better, but if you're playing a low-level one-shot, it may be worth the investment. Or you could take the Wormtail Belt and still be good to go once Bracers of Armor +2 or better become available.
An added benefit is that these abilities can't be taken away from you without specialized magic. If you know your DM will be throwing your characters in jail, take Dissolving Spittle or Blink Shirt along! What's he going to do, make it an antimagic jail?
These all have decent effect just on their own without essentia or binds. But to get them even better, we can add some essentia. Azurins swap the human bonus skill points for a point of essentia, but are otherwise identical, thus make a good option for a new character for those that really like that human bonus feat. Dusklings also possess a racial essentia pool, plus they're actually fey, which should make for some nice shenanigans somewhere.
The Bonus Essentia and Open Least Chakra feats both require level 6, so depending on how much of your character you want to devote to that single soulmeld, you may be forced to choose between them. For some, this isn't much of a choice. Impulse Boots, for instance: On their own, uncanny dodge. With a point of essentia, +2 to Reflex saves. Bound to the feet, evasion. Plus, opening that chakra grants bonuses to Balance and Move Silently. And, I may not have mentioned this anywhere previously, but when binding a soulmeld, you still get the basic ability and that granted by essentia.
There are, naturally, a few caveats to be considered when taking Shape Soulmeld. The first is feat economy: Is there a feat you can take that is more useful for your concept, and how do you feel about taking it? I'm not one to suggest thoroughly optimizing your character, as evidenced by my hawking incarnum. Instead, play the character you'd like to play, whether or not it would get you insulted in "serious" gaming circles.
The second consideration is bonus type conflicts. Most soulmelds provide either an insight bonus or a competence bonus to skills, or an enhancement bonus to most other things. These don't stack with boni of the same type. These are also the type of bonuses that most spells or PrC class features provide. Unless you get greedy, however, most DMs don't keep incredibly close track of which type of bonus(es) you're currently using. It's great when you can legitimately finagle something like a +40 foot increase to land speed through three different things, all with different bonus types, though.
Third is flavor. Ask your DM if you can reflavor soulmelds. If he says no, consider the question "Will this make me look like a homeless person?"
With these points in mind, you too can go about character creation secure in the knowledge that your magical elfman will not only be mechanically decent, but aesthetically pleasing as well!
Summon Inbred MoronOriginal SA post Magic of Incarnum Part XIII: Summon Inbred Moron
New spells! I think we've had quite enough of big long lists from me for a while, so I'll break these up into families and only cover the more interesting ones. In general, incarnum-based spells fall into three broad categories: Those to be used against meldshapers, those to be used on meldshapers, and those to be used because incarnum is cool .
This chapter introduces two new wrinkles into the already shar pei-like Vancian magic system: Essentia components and the [Incarnum] spell descriptor. You must have the Incarnum Spellshaping feat in order to cast spells with the Incarnum descriptor. Most, but not all, such spells can also have essentia invested into them. As with all other essentia receptacles, this improves their numeric abilities, and you get the essentia back once the spell's duration expires.
The anti-meldshaper spells are basically what you'd prepare if you were going up against a spellcaster, only with "magic" hastily crossed out. Detect Incarnum, Protection From Incarnum,
Protection from Incarnum. As a bonus, you can paint with all the colors of the wind.
Pro-meldshaper spells usually involve essentia or chakra binds, granting extra essentia, opening a chakra, or in one notable case, letting meldshapers reallocate their essentia at the time the spell is cast, with no action required.
First notable in the "incarnum is cool" subset is the *Foo* Spirit trio. These set up a hanging effect in the target, and any time over the next few hours, they can activate it to gain a bonus to one type of save, one type of ability-based check (Including skills), and a boost to a capability related to the ability boost. Essentia can be invested to increase the boosts, too. Each comes in single-target and Mass versions.
Adept Spirit: Will saves, Concentration & Int checks, caster level.
Animal Spirit: Low-light vision, scent, Wis checks.
- Valiant Spirit: Fort saves, Str checks, attack & damage.
Animal Spirit. I tried to stand like that and hurt my knee.
We also get a set of summoning spells, because every book has to include something to pull from the luminiferous aether. In this case, Midnight Constructs, big purple crystalline-looking things. They're pretty good, you can invest essentia into the spells and boost the constructs, pretty much like you can do with astral constructs. As a bonus, these aren't actually summoned, so they just laugh at things like Dismissal.
Most of the attack spells deal ability damage rather than straight HP damage, which makes them a really nice option in my book. There's also a spell that does something I don't think any other spell does. Incarnum Arc creates a floating focal point for the spell, and each round of the spell's duration, creates a line attack between the focus and the caster. It's only 1d6 at the basic level, but adds 1d6 per essentia invested into it. Very useful, and in fact I just noticed something neat: It only affects living creatures, making it useful for a necromancer screened behind a horde of undead.
Incarnum Arc. Um... No comment.
By far my favorite spell in this book, however, is Channel the Mishtai. Reaching back across the ages to the progenitors of the rilkans and skarn, you bring the soul energy and collected knowledge of one of these ancient beings forward and channel it into a mortal host. The mishtai spirit then provides a bonus to the host... usually. The catch is, at first you can't decide which spirit you get. The spell gives you a table of 10 spirits, and you roll either a d10 (When casting it on a skarn or rilkan) or a d6 (Any other time). Thus, you may get lucky and channel the spirit of a Golden Age mishtai noblewoman into your bard just before an audience with the king (granting him +2 to Cha-based checks, but -2 to Fort saves), but you're just as likely to call forth the spirit of an ancient wizard (+1 caster level, -1 HP per HD) or an inbred moron (-2 to all skills, Will save or be dazed for 1 round). The greater version of the spell allows you to pick and choose your spirit, but you can't pick the same one more than once a week.
They also provide new warlock invocations! The most useful of them lets you plink away at the opposing cleric until he stops casting and falls over from Wis damage (It also does essentia damage if the target has essentia). Other invocations steal a tiny amount of essentia, daze alignment-opposed targets of your eldritch blast, and provide a 20% miss chance for 24 hours. That last would be kind of handy if it wasn't coming so late.
Psionic powers, too! Not very many, though. We get Psionic Open Chakra, which functions like the spells do. Soul Crystal is really handy, since you can use it to give one of your other powers to someone else for a while. You basically create a wand (technically a dorje, all the psionic shit gets weird names) to give to someone, which they can use anytime during the spell's duration (Half a day at the least). And then there's Incarnum Fusion, which grants adamantine DR and treats your claws (Whatever ones you have) as your alignment for DR purposes. You can't augment this one, but you can put essentia in it, which boosts the DR and enhances your claws.
And now we come to magic items. To start off, we get rules for binding magic items to chakras. Any magic item that occupies a body slot can be bound to a chakra, and held items like weapons and wands can be bound to either the hands or arms. The bind's effect only functions when the item is being used as intended, so a bound cloak of resistance would function constantly, but a cloak of the manta ray or other situational item would only function while... functioning.
The bonus a bound magic item provides is always an insight bonus, which follows the normal bonus stacking rules with one exception: It will stack with the bonus from the Open Chakra feat line. They provide tables both of common magic items that you might want to bind, and suggested powers for particular chakra binds.
Also on the topic of chakra binds, we have a whole bunch of items with the Soulbound property. Weapon, armor/shield, ring of protection, cloak of resistance. These function as basic +1 versions, but can have essentia invested into them and (except for the ring) be bound to certain chakras. Essentia increases their numeric values, and the binds provide some effects in line with the item type. There are also a few items which replicate certain magic-focused or psionic items. The Ring of Essentia is essentially ( ) a Ring of Spell Storing, and the Essentia Jewel is a single-use cognizance crystal.
There are unique magic items as well. The Glove of Incarnum Theft is fairly decent for meldshaper-to-meldshaper combat, and the Soulvoid Orb is a single-use casting of Divest Essentia that anyone can use, handy for knocking down a dude's capabilities for a round, or potentially lethal against one using one of the +HP/essentia melds. A few others exist as well, nothing worth writing home about for the most part.
If you want to use these magic items, I strongly suggest using the versions found in the Magic Item Compendium, they're either identical or cheaper. They knock 10,000 gp off the cost of the more expensive ones, for instance.
It's nowhere near as bad as it looks. I'll explain more when you get to incarnum magic items. As a preview, it uses the MIC rules for combining enchantments on items.
How PrestigiousOriginal SA post Magic of Incarnum, Part XIV: How Prestigious
Prestige classes! Incarnum prestige classes! If you happen to be unfamiliar with the term, 3rd Edition D&D introduced the concept, although there's some obvious DNA from earlier editions with high-level clerics being able to turn into druids. You have your basic class, like Fighter, and your prestige class (PrC), like Order of the Bow Initiate, which specializes your talents or combines them with another class. Each prestige class has some prerequisites, usually involving base attack bonus, one or more skills at a certain level, and/or specific feats, but most of them are so esoteric that you generally need to plan to take one. It's very rare to stumble into the prereqs. Which could be a problem in the heyday of 3rd and 3.5, where a new book would come out with a PrC that was perfect for your character concept, but you couldn't take it for a while because it required eight ranks in Knowledge: Gemology or Skill Focus: Fucking the Dog. Most PrCs are set up so that you can take your first level in them at level 6 or 7, and most have five or ten levels, although there are some outliers.
Incandescent Champion is just like one of your Japanese animes. The best entry is from a paladin-type class, with prereqs of good alignment, BAB of +6 and 4 ranks of Concentration, which is usually cross-class for full-BAB classes. It also requires an essentia pool, which can be acquired with any of several methods. Its basic mechanics are 10 levels, d10 Hit Die, 3/4 BAB, good Will save, and their class skills are an odd mix of fighter and caster skills that don't encompass the full sets of either.
Ability-wise, they get some essentia receptacles: A weapon damage boost, fast healing (Limited in the number of rounds per day it can be used), a ray attack, and a damaging aura. They can also render a foe shaken with a move action, boost the capacity of an essentia receptacle a few times a day, and eventually turn into a native outsider that can also turn into a flying blob of light. While Lawful/Good Incarnates and LG/CG Soulborns are already rather paladin-like, the Incandescent Champion intensifies those tendencies. They also become the party flashlight, with two of their essentia receptacles providing Light and Daylight when invested in. Their world-inclusion flavor is as knightly orders, respected by good nobles, feared by evil, and regarded as loose cannons by deity-focused clerics.
The Incarnum Blade is what happens when Fighter goes full retard. Entry is easy from any full-BAB class, with +5 BAB, 2 ranks of Concentration, and any alignment except neutral for prereqs. They don't gain soulmelds, chakra binds, or essentia, instead co-opting the chakra system and sticking their sword in it. In basic terms, it's a continuation of your typical full-BAB class, with full BAB, good Fort, d10 HD, and fighter skills plus Concentration over 5 levels.
The core ability of the PrC is the blademeld, the ability to infuse one of their melee weapons with incarnum. This lets it bypass magic DR, and makes it harder to sunder. Because sunder is always a threat, right? The class also gains the ability, over five levels, to bind the blademeld, and only the blademeld, to any of the chakras without affecting the ability to wear magic items or possibly other soulmelds on those chakras. This generally gives a basic situational combat boost, like a bonus versus being disarmed, an initiative boost, +1 damage ( ), and the ability to utter a hearty battle cry! (60' radius, shaken for one round, Will DC pitiful.) In world flavor, they're a knightly order, the souls of whom actually form the incarnum used in the blademelds. Fight well and die a glorious death, and you too may find yourself granting some schmo a pitiful +1 to damage! The flavor of a warrior binding the souls of his ancestors/predecessors to his blade is great, I just wish it was mechanically better, like if it had an essentia pool and the blademeld could be invested in to boost the bind effects.
Ironsoul Forgemaster s combine soulmelds with the dwarven pursuits of smithery. Nonevil meldshaping dwarves with 8 ranks in armor- or weaponsmithing and 2 ranks of Knowledge (Arcana) can access the class, and in its basic capabilities, its 10 levels provide a d8 HD, 3/4 BAB, good Fort and Will, an odd mix of skills but only 2 skill points per level, and 9/10 meldshaping progression with the dead level at 1st.
They become magnificent smiths, gaining Craft Magic Arms and Armor, although they still need a spellcasting friend to make... pretty much everything. They gain a bonus to the aforementioned smithery skills, open the arms, waist, shoulders, and heart chakras, and gain the ability to invest essentia into the shield, armor, and weapon they're using, provided they crafted it themselves. This grants energy resistance (shield), DR (armor), and damage+daze (weapon). In flavor, they are ALL DWARF ALL THE TIME Amusingly, it recommends selling weapons you make to your party members for a 20-30% discount off market price. Every party I've played a crafter in gets annoyed if you don't provide them at cost. Otherwise, they're dwarves, and stereotypical in the broad strokes. They have a friendly rivalry with the Battlesmith PrC from Races of Stone and will debate the merits of their forging styles until they're too drunk to see. Personally, I like the class, but finding the downtime to craft things can be a problem in most games.
The Necrocarnate was covered back in my post on necrocarnum in general. Evil bad scary man. Bad.
Sapphire Hierarch s are the divine/meldshaping combo PrC, but their flavor and prereqs are so damn specific it's hard to imagine anyone thinking "Yes, this is exactly what I'm looking for." At the beginning of this segment I mentioned the rarity of stumbling into a PrC, and this class is a good example of that problem. You must be a lawful cleric/meldshaper with the Law domain, 2nd-level spells, 3 soulmelds, an essentia pool of 3, and 4 ranks each in Knowledge: Religion and Arcana. Granted, the meldshaping requirement can be fulfilled by any of the classes (Incarnate at 3rd, Totemist at 4th), except maybe Soulborn, who would not only be qualifying at 12th, but would potentially fail the alignment prereq, because it's specifically "Lawful", not "Any lawful". At any rate, the class provides 10 levels of 1/2 BAB, good Will save, and full meldshaping and divine casting progression, plus a d6 HD and Cleric skills plus Sense Motive.
The unique feature of the class is the ability to consult a big blue Cthulhu. No, seriously. Three times per level, upgrading to once a month at 10, they can Commune with the Sapphire Eidolon, an alien unknowable incarnation of law that fell from the stars. This is location-tied, you have to actually be in the room with the Eidolon to do it. Otherwise, they get smite chaos, a bonus to saves versus chaotic spells, adamantine DR, fortification, and timeless body. Much like the Incarnate, they seem to be geared towards melee combat, but don't have the BAB to back it up. In flavor, these guys represent order. This is generally a neutral thing, but DMs are advised to adjust their execution based on the party. They would make great enemies for a chaotic party. Naturally, they have a rigid hierarchy, and the book goes on for a couple pages about it. In my opinion, cleric spellcasting is strong enough that the class doesn't lose anything, but if your concept is primarily a meldshaper, the lack of new binds is going to hurt.
Since we have a divine/meldshaper, naturally we need an arcane/meldshaper, and the Soulcaster fills the bill. Where the Sapphire Hierarch is very niche, practically anyone who wants to be an arcane caster/meldshaper is going to be able to take this: The prerequisites are 2nd-level spells, 3 soulmelds and at least one bind, Incarnum Spellshaping, and 8 ranks of Knowledge (Arcana). This is a ten-level class that is basically Wizard with soulmelds. Same HD, saves, BAB, and skills as flat wizard, plus full soulmeld and caster progression. It even gets chakra binds! Crown, feet, hands, arms, brow, and shoulders. It does have two special abilities: The ability to invest essentia into spells for a DC and caster level boost, and the ability to sacrifice spells for bonus essentia. Soulcasters are mostly like any other wizard, although there's an organization of them living on the Positive Energy Plane fighting demons. Not very far off a straightforward combination of the two types, but it's got some nice tricks with the investment in and sacrifice of spells.
Spinemeld Warrior is a weird one. Racially exclusive to skarns, it focuses entirely on their forearm spines. The class is open to any lawful skarn with an essentia pool and BAB +5. It's 10 levels of d10 HD, full BAB, and good Fort. Its skill selection is mostly the same as the Paladin. They start with the ability to TWF with their spines, then add on the ability to enhance their spines up to +5 attack and damage with essentia, rend for extra damage if hitting with both spines, and overcome DR and hardness as if the spines were made of adamantine. They have their own progression of soulmelds and essentia, and only ever unlock the arms chakra. Also, they get a bonus on Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty).
All spinemeld warriors are members of the Hierarchy of Spinemeld Warriors. They're fantasy Klingons, okay, that's what they are, there's like no difference, you are Worf in an elfgame. This is a pretty decent class, specializing in the skarn's natural spines is no different than specializing in, say, shortswords. It lets you spend your feats and money on things besides weapons, at least.
The Totem Rager is a barbarian/totemist combination: BAB +5, 5 ranks Intimidate, 9 ranks Survival, the Cobalt Rage feat, rage and the ability to bind a soulmeld to your totem chakra gets you 10 levels of 3/4 BAB, d10 HD, good Fort and Reflex, and 4/5 meldshaping progression. The class mainly focuses on the Cobalt Rage feat, boosting its essentia capacity and giving you extra essentia you can put in it, defying the rule about the feat's once-a-day investment. Otherwise, it advances some of the abilities of both classes, granting extra and longer rages, damage reduction, more chakra binds, and a boost to totem chakra bind capacity.
In terms of world flavor, totem ragers fill roughly the same niche for tribal societies that paladins do for more civilized ones. They serve as war leaders and minor spiritual guides, hermiting in times of peace. They have no overarching hierarchy, but they are all similarly ANGRY. ANGRY WITH SOULMELDS. It's a pretty solid PrC, a step between Totemist and Barbarian, but it doesn't really bring anything new to the table.
Umbral Disciple is intended as a monk option (Monks can multiclass with it freely), although any suitable sneaky class can take it. It requires 8 ranks in Hide and Listen, 4 ranks of Concentration, 2 ranks Knowledge (arcana), which is usually cross-class for any stealthy class, and an essentia pool. It's a 10-level class, with d6 HD, 3/4 BAB, good Reflex and will saves, and 6 skill points per level to choose from most of the Monk skills. It also has its own essentia pool, but no melds or binding progression. Instead, it gets several essentia receptacles. +2 to acrobatic skills per point, 10% miss chance per point and hide in plain sight at 20% or more, 10-foot blindsight per point, 1 point of Str damage per point on attacks, and their capstone is the ability to increase their reach by 5 feet per point of essentia, but only on their turn, they still only threaten their normal area. They also get 3d6 sneak attack, as well as a boost to Knowledge and Gather Information whenever they contact the organization they belong to.
Which brings us to their flavor! Their basic flavor is monks that meld shadow with incarnum. These are organized into "septs" - which is defined on the Internet as a clan, tribe, or family from a common progenitor, especially used for clans of ancient Ireland. So we immediately throw out that definition and instead pull context from use, because they just use the word like we should know what it means. From context, it is exactly like a guild, monastery, or other organization that any adventurer may join if they meet the prerequisites, so way to go, Wizards, you've fucked up TWO terms in this book! Umbral Disciples typically work as scouts or spies, with options for assassination, burglary, and other skullduggery. Aside from the aforementioned knowledge boost class feature, a sept won't provide much beyond basic room and board to its members. I like the class, personally. It's a great fit for a ninja or pretty much any rogue at all. 3d6 sneak attack over 10 levels is not the greatest progression, but the hide in plain sight ability at least gives you more opportunities to use it.
And finally, Witchborn Binder . This is kind of a cool concept, but execution is lacking. They're meldshapers dedicated to the tracking and destruction of arcane casters. The prereqs are brutal, though, 6th-level meldshaper with the Alertness and Track feats, and a handful of skill points across Knowledge (Religion), Search, Sense Motive, Survival, and Use Rope, only one of which is in-class for Incarnate and Totemist, and none are in-class for Soulborn. To top off the prereqs, you cannot have any arcane caster levels. Still, fill out all those cross-class skills and trash feats, and you get 10 levels of d6 HD, 3/4 BAB, good Will, and 4 skill points/level to use on a weird skill list that includes the prereq skills and a cross between Ranger and Rogue otherwise.
They get a few essentia boosts over their levels, Detect Magic as a spell-like ability at-will, and an essentia receptacle: a bonus versus spells and spell-likes equal to the invested essentia. The meat and potatoes of the class, however, is tuned specifically against spellcasters and those with spell-like abilities. They get:
A ranged targeted Dispel Magic;
A unique soulmeld that lets them bind an arcane caster in special mage-resistant shackles;
A ranged damage ability that, again, only works on arcane casters;
- And the ability to seal a target (Doesn't have to be a caster) in a coffin made of incarnum, preventing them from casting spells/spell-likes with components other than just verbal, and damaging them if they try those.
They also have another weird ability: Once per level, upgrading to 1/year at 10th, they can withdraw money from a royal treasury equal to 500 gp times their class level. They can withdraw more than that, but they'll be called to task and may need to pay it back if their explanation is lacking. So contracting siege engineers to protect a city is fine, but don't overdraw your credit card on hookers and booze. No, I have no idea how that ability affects wealth by level.
The class also comes with a complimentary stick, in case you didn't have one up your ass to begin with. They hate spellcasters, naturally. They are, essentially, inquisitors, tasked from a royal order itself with legally-backed powers: The power to arrest evil spellcasters, those consorting with evil powers, and enemies to the crown (Or suspects to such activities); immunity from most minor legal infractions (You can only be legally hindered or detained by someone of captain rank or higher); and the aforementioned royal purse. Naturally, these can be taken away should you abuse them. All told, it's a weak, specialized class. The book even points this out: "A witchborn binder PC has chosen a difﬁcult pathshe doesnt really fight well, she doesnt cast powerful spells, and shes not even a very good meldshaper." If you have the right campaign world, where arcane casters and warlocks are a dime a dozen, a PC might be served by taking it. On the flip side, they make good villains if the party has a high concentration of targets.
Next up: Monsters!