June 16, 2017

Soul Knife (Redux)

Monastic Tradition
Comments from the Knuckle: Of all the reasons I'm sad I didn't start playing D&D until 5th Edition, the soul knife is up there close to the top. Like how the Feral Ravager Barbarian was based on Wolverine, the following soul knife takes inspiration from Psylocke of the X-Men Comics. Inspired by her abilities and the classic abilities of the 3.5 soul knife, this version encompasses what the Palm and I personally feel the soul knife is. I present the 5e Soul Knife from Middle Finger of Vecna!
     Also, recently I can't shake the feeling when writing content that WotC's Unearthed Arcana is competing with us for conceptual space, but I swear we started writing this long before they dropped the Mystic class! The Palm and I have been working on this for weeks, because I wanted to play a soul knife in a game he's running.


Way of the Soul Knife

Though monks of every tradition are known for their immense force of will, only those that devote themselves to the Way of the Soul Knife can truly say that their mind is their deadliest weapon. Warriors who follow this ancient tradition learn to focus their own willpower into a scintillating weapon, capable of cleaving through armor and flesh with relative ease.

Philosophy of War
Starting when you choose this tradition at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in the Arcana and History skills, and you can add twice your proficiency bonus to any Arcana or History check you make. If you are already proficient with one or both of these skills, you can gain another Intelligence skill in its place. 

Ki Blade
Also at 3rd level, you can weaponize your ki into a scintillating blade of ki energy that projects from your fist. This blade is created as a bonus action on your turn, and remains in existence until you dismiss it (no action required). You can't hold anything in the hand that is occupied by your ki blade.
     While your ki blade is manifested, you gain a melee spell attack (attack bonus equals your proficiency bonus plus your Strength or Dexterity modifier) that you can use with the Attack action. You are proficient with this weapon, and it counts as a monk weapon for you. This weapon has a reach of 5 feet, deals psychic damage, and has a d6 damage die. This die changes as you gain monk levels, becoming a d8 at 5th level, a d10 at 11th level, and a d12 at 17th level.
     When you use the Attack action on your turn to use this special attack, you can spend 1 ki point to make two additional attacks with it as a bonus action.

Psionicist
Starting at 6th level, you can spend 2 ki points to cast the spell blur, hold person, or misty step. When you cast spells gained through this feature, you do so without providing the components. You must follow all other rules of casting spells, such as the rules for casting time and casting more than one spell per turn. If a spell requires a saving throw to avoid its effects, the saving throw is made against your Ki save DC. Additionally, you know the psychic strike cantrip.

Elemental Ki
Also at 6th level, when you manifest your ki blade you can alter the damage type of the blade. Choose from cold, fire, lightning, necrotic, or radiant damage. Until you dismiss your ki blade, it deals the chosen damage type. 

Bladewind Attack
Starting at 11th level, you can use your action to make a melee attack with your ki blade against any number of creatures within 10 feet of you, with a separate attack roll for each target.

Knife to the Soul
Starting at 17th level, you can unleash the unbridled power of your ki blade. Once per turn, when you make a melee weapon attack with your ki blade, you can spend 3 ki points to channel your ki into that creature. On a hit, the target takes an additional 8d10 psychic damage.

New Spell
The following cantrip is intended for sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards.

Psychic Strike
Evocation cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 5 feet
Components: V, M (a weapon)
Duration: 1 round
As part of the action used to cast this spell, you must make a melee attack against one creature within the spell's range, otherwise the spell fails. On a hit, the target suffers the attack's normal effects, and it becomes assaulted by psychic energy until the start of your next turn. If the target willingly makes an attack against a creature other than you, it immediately takes 1d8 psychic damage and the spell ends.
     This spell's damage increases when you reach higher levels. At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra 1d8 psychic damage to the target, and the damage the target takes for attacking a creature other than you increases to 2d8. Both damage rolls increase by 1d8 at 11th and 17th level.



Changelog: 6/16/17: Knife to the Soul: 1/turn
6/19/17: Ki Blade: Attack bonus is clarified
Bladewind Attack: Reach extended to 10 feet, only works with Ki Blade
Knife to the Soul: Saving throw removed, damage reduced to 8d10

33 comments:

  1. I'll be the first to leave a comment this time! This Redux has gone through a lot of drafts, but I think the capstone is missing a 1/turn or bonus action limitation. As is, you can use it on each of your 4 attacks a turn, which is pretty crazy.

    That being said, I'm not sure how to tweak this. It obviously takes its cues from Quivering Palm, but that ability takes two turns to pull off an requires an action. What's a good limiter here?

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    1. No input on the limiter sorry, but I notice that under Psychic Strike it says 4th-level enchantment (in the PDF).

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    2. On that topic, I think it should be enchantment instead of evocation. I realize it makes almost no difference, but enchantment is for spells that effect the mind. That is, unless you are not breaking the mind as much as summoning psychic energy, in which case evocation works.

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    3. To my reading, it's as much an enchantment as Vicious Mockery and Dissonant Whispers are - being a transient effect that assaults the mind - which is to say, it could very well be an enchantment.

      I'd make the capstone 1/turn.

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    4. The class seems great! The previous one was a bit more blurry, but this one is clear and to the point.

      I'd think the capstone, even at 1/turn, should require you to spend the ki before hitting. 1/turn might be enough though.

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    5. Here's the thing: it's balanced directly against quivering palm, which costs the same ki about of ki, paid after you hit the target. Now, quivering palm requires an additional action to use, but also has a save or die effect built into it, which this does not.

      It probably requires a little playtesting at that level to see if the effect balances against Quivering Palm like we think it should.

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    6. Edit: Also, quivering palm does 10d10 damage on a SUCCESSFUL saving throw, whereas knife to the soul only does 5d10 on a successful save.

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    7. I just re-read the Quivering Palm. I was sure it's 1/long rest, but apparently it's just ki cost (and the action to end it).
      Knife to the Soul is definitely ok next to it.

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    8. Worst comes to worst, a Hasted 20th level monk, assuming he hits with all of his 5 attacks, has 20 Dex, expends 15 ki points to use this capstone 5 times, and the target fails all their saving throws, that's a total of (check my math, please) 5d12 + 50d10 damage, for an average total of 307.5 with a maximum of 572 damage.

      And that's discounting crits or any other damage modifiers. Meteor Swarm does 140 average damage, 240 maximum. Now, Meteor Swarm sucks, but it does provide a baseline comparison as a 9th level damage spell (Yes, it is AoE, but a single target damage 9th level spell is a combat ender. There isn't one [yet], and rightly so.)

      Maybe cap it at twice per turn, so that even if the opponent saves both times, they're still looking at 10d10 psychic damage, instead of Cthulhu reaching into their head and pulling their brain over their butt like a pair of undies.

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    9. I didn't mean to come off as aggressive, cause this looks a bit too nerdrage for my taste.

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    10. You're good, Max. I did some similar math, and I wasn't too crazy about giving out the ability to deal a minimum +20d6 on a turn (maximum +40d6). The largest thing for me is that, because Quivering Palm takes an action to trigger, you can't stack the damage on that turn with a full round of attacks, which this still allows for.

      I'll go ahead and give it a 1/turn limit, since that seems to be the most appropriate solution.

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    11. Something still doesn't sit right with me for that. If it's 1/turn, I'd remove the saving throw and just have the damage happen.

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    12. Palm: At 1/turn, it's less damage than Quivering You, but doesn't require an action. 10d10=55 avg damage. 4 attacks of a 17th level (soul knife) monk (assuming all hits)= 4*(1d12+5)=46 avg damage. In other words, quivering palm doesn't actually add that much damage(and deals the damage 1 turn later), while Knife to the Soul certainly does add lots of damage. I think the saving throw should stay.

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    13. I think the Palm's point is that if the target fails their save against Quivering Palm, they're subjected to one of the few Instant Death powers in the game. Quivering Palm deals 10d10 on a *successful* save against the feature, not on a failed one.

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    14. Yeah, I got that point. The reason it's less damage than QP is that it can be resisted to below 10d10. However, it can be used 2 turns in a row, in which case the additional damage is from equal to twice that of (a successfully saved) QP.
      The additional ki cost of doing that and the QP killing on failure balances things out.
      If the saving throw is removed, it's basically an enemy-always-succeeds QP which doesn't require an extra action. And on second thought, that's not really overwhelming.

      So... I wrote a long comment to explain my objection and then took it back.

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    15. I can't tell you the amount of times I've done that, lol.

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  2. Is Psychic Strike a cantrip or a 4th level spell?

    The pdf doesn't seem to be clear on this.

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    1. It should be an evocation cantrip.

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    2. My bad -- I'll fix that post-haste.

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  3. I lile this vetter than the last one and psychic strike was the name deliberate.who on the mfov team plays dimir

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    1. I highly doubt it's an MTG reference (especially since the Dimir aren't anything like monks).

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    2. Could be the Knuckle. It certainly went right over my head.

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    3. I wasn't making a MtG reference. Psychic Strike was the name of an ability that Soul Knives got in 3.5

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  4. Bladewind should state that "you can use your action to make a SINGLE melee attack WITH YOUR KI BLADE against any number of creatures within 5 feet of you".

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  5. This is more or less a linguistics thing, since I'm sure it means melee weapon attack, but I think it should specify in Psychic Strike if you make a weapon or spell attack, similar to Green-Flame Blade

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    1. I'm pretty sure they left it ambiguous so you could use it with your Ki Blade, which is a spell attack. The only thing it really would let you do different than GFB or BB, besides using your Ki Blade, is using it with spells that require a melee attack, but not only when you cast the spell. Like The later attacks of Vampiric Touch. Which isn't too broken and still kinda sketchy on the rules.

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  6. I feel you should set an indicator of what your spell casting ability is. I know the sixth level feature kinda addresses this for saves, but theoretically your Ki Blade should follow the rules of a spell attack and not be treated kinda like a weapon. I suggest giving a look to the Radiant Sun Bolt feature of Sun Soul Monks.

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    1. I did write it based on the Radiant Sun Bolt feature, which generates a spell Attack based on DEX. The idea behind it being a spell Attack using your melee stat is that you're conjuring your Ki (spell Attack) that you physically direct with your body (STR or DEX), which is why the Ki Blade works the way it does.

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    2. I think it just feels weird because you never specify what you use it attack with besides saying it's a monk weapon and leaves someone guessing your exact intent. "Oh, it's a spell attack. Do I use my wisdom for that? That sounds good, I'll focus on that."

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    3. Calling it out as a Monk weapon allows it to be used with STR or DEX.

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    4. I know. I'm not saying there's anything actually wrong with the ability. Clarity, especially for people who are not wholly invested in the game's rules, is very important. At least I feel it is.

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    5. I'll talk to the Finger about specifically saying you use STR or DEX. To remove the confusion.

      I agree with you 100%, though. Clearer rules are better. I thought it /was/ fairly clear, but I've been looking at it for months now. I also figured that when it's called out as a Monk weapon people would look at the rules for a Monk weapon, see that those can be used with STR or DEX and apply that to the Ki Blade.

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  7. When it comes to you competing with WoTC, I find that I like and allow both. Infact, I've had two arcane archers, one from UA and the other your ranger's. The campaign was alot of fun and they didn't complain about power levels,especially when one of them is a power diva.

    So the way I see it, I am more than happy to have your work in addition to UA.

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