December 2, 2017

Soul Knife (Redux)²

Monastic Tradition
Comments from the Finger: I know, I know: we already did this one. Well, jokes on us, because we needed to take another crack at it. Some playtesting has pointed out some problems with the previous build, plus we generally wanted to simplify it down and balance it more tightly. After all, the Soul Knife is the Jedi of the D&D world, so we really wanted to get this one right.

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 willpower into a scintillating weapon, capable of cleaving through armor and flesh with relative ease. With focus and discipline, they can channel their ki to manipulate the minds of others or shape their weapon into a myriad of forms, each more deadly than the last.

Psychic Blade
Starting at 3rd level, you gain the ability to manifest a weapon of psychic energy. On your turn, you can create a luminous weapon made of pure psionic energy in your empty hand (no action required). This weapon lasts until you dismiss it (requiring no action), you release your grip on it (vanishing at the end of your turn), or you fall unconscious.
     Your psychic blade is a one-handed monk weapon which deals 1d6 slashing, piercing, or bludgeoning damage on a hit (your choice when you manifest the weapon), and it is treated as magical for the purposes of overcoming damage resistance and immunity. As a bonus action when you use the Attack action to make an attack with your psychic blade, you can spend 1 ki point to make an additional attack with it.
     Your psychic blades damage die gets larger at you gain levels in the monk class. It increases to 1d8 at 5th level, 1d10 at 11th level, and 1d12 at 17th level.

Psionic Savant
Starting at 6th level, you can use your ki to duplicate the effects of certain spells. As an action, you can spend 2 ki points to cast charm person, invisibility, levitate, or thunderwave without providing somatic or material components, and you gain the mage hand cantrip. When you cast mage hand, you can choose to make the spectral hand invisible. If a spell requires a saving throw to avoid its effects, the saving throw is made against your Ki save DC.

Shape Blade
Starting at 11th level, when you manifest your psychic blade, you can choose to shape your blade into a form of your choosing, selecting from one of the following options when you manifest it:
     Duality Blades. You manifest a pair of identical psychic blades, one in each hand. The damage die of these psychic blades is 1d6, even if your Martial Arts damage die is larger. You can make three attacks, rather than one, when you use your bonus action to attack with your psychic blades.
     At 17th level, the damage of these weapons increases to 1d8.
     Id Cleaver. Your psychic blade crystallizes into a scintillating construct, brimming with power. On a hit with your psychic blade, you deal an additional 1d4 psychic damage.
     Mind Javelin. Your psychic blade gains the Thrown (60/120) property, and it returns to your hand immediately after each attack. Additionally, the javelin curves through the air in response to your thoughts. Ranged attacks made with your mind javelin ignore half and three-quarters cover
     Psychic Glaive. Your psychic blade becomes a two-handed weapon, gains the Reach property and counts as a polearm. You can use your action to make a melee attack with your psychic blade against any number of creatures within your reach, with a separate attack roll for each target.

Mindbreak
Starting at 17th level, once on each of your turns when you hit with your psychic blade, you can spend 4 ki points to cast the spell feeblemind on the target.



Changelog:
12/2/17: Psychic Blade: Damage progression was missing! Psychic blade is always one step better than unarmed strike. Treated as magical from level 3
Psionic Savant: Thunderwave added
Shape Blade: Simplified
Knife to the Soul: Replaced with Mindbreak
12/3/17: Mindbreak: Cost increased to 4 ki points
12/4/17: Psionic Savant: Doesn't require somatic components

26 comments:

  1. Sorry for the late post, ya'll! I thought we'd get this one out on time, but we pulled something of an all-nighter running in-depth numbers and tweaking things to get it just right. I'll try to be a little more on schedule next week.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A minor gripe, but instead of 1d20 Danae for knife to the soul, why not 2d10? I just don’t like how “swingy” it feels, using a d20 damage die.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also feel that 1d20 is a bad choice for the capstone. I can't think of another instance where the damage die for anything in the books was higher than a d12. It's too wide a range to feel reliably powerful, especially for the ultimate ability of a class. Three attacks that can deal only 2+... oh yeah what stat do they use for damage? Are they Versatile or do they use Int or Wis?

      Delete
    2. Also shouldn't a weapon made of pure psychic energy already count as magical since it's made out of essentially pure magic?

      Delete
    3. Well, I decided to use d20s for the capstone because it's novel. It's swingy, but you're also rolling a lot of dice as a monk.

      Delete
    4. Also the whole thing about damage should be fixed -- I missed an all-important sentence when putting the draft together about the blade's damage progression.

      Delete
    5. It has been bugging me since I saw it the first time but I could never really figure out why til today. I know it doesn't have anything to do with mechanics but the Image in the PDF looks nothing like any Soul Knife ever would all armored up and with a shield. I think the firs

      Delete
    6. *first Soul Knife PDF had a more fitting image.

      Delete
    7. You know, the Digits and i about that already, and I honestly forgot to switch out the image. Should be done now

      Delete
  3. Until 11th level, you have absolutely no reason whatsoever to prefer spending you ki on 1 blade attack rather than 2 unarmed attacks.

    A normal 11th level monk deals 4*(1d8+5)=38 damage per round.
    A Duality Blade soulknife deals 5*(1d8+1d4+5)=60 damage per round.

    I think the best option is to allow all options at 11th level make 2 attacks as a bonus for spending ki, and have one option which replaces duality blade and adds 1d4 to attacks made with the Attack action. That way the damage is a lot less absurd, and all options are comparable in power.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, whoops. "Instead of dealing this extra damage". Well, my math was wrong (47.5 instead of 60), but I still stand behind my suggestion.

      Delete
    2. Okay, there we go. Now it should work as intended.

      Delete
    3. Just so you know, the math for duality blade should be 5d6+25 (42.5) per round: a little better than the monk when it's spending Ki, a lot worse when it isn't (but then you can just switch blade styles).

      Delete
  4. Unless I'm missing something, the clause in Duality Blades that limits the damage to 1d8 until 17th level is unnecessary, because the monk's Martial Arts die doesn't increase to 1d10 until that level anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We left out a sentence about psychic blade damage progression. With that in, it should make more sense: the blade is always one damage die higher than your fists, but gets one less attack when you flurry.

      Delete
  5. There's a significant part of this that is missing which I'll put to us staying up very later last night finishing it.

    Your blades damage die should always be 1 step better than your unarmed strike, while the duality blades should be one step worse.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Point of clarification: When you manifest the weapon, does the manifested weapon have the same properties of the mundane version? Or does it only have the one-handed property?
    Additionally, are you limited to having only one psi-blade at a time, or could you have 2, and dual wield it? If that is the case, couldn't someone then make the bonus-action attack from dual wielding and not need the ki-point to attack?

    I guess the main question I have is if the Psi-weapon is its own malleable weapon or if it simulate a monk weapon of your choice?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A psi-weapon is it's own weapon -- it doesn't emulate another monk weapon, it just counts as a monk weapon on its own. Only when you get the Shape Blade feature at 11th level do you have the ability to customize the blade's shape.

      Delete
  8. Casting feeblemind for 3 points in addition to an attack? Feeblemind could be amazingly crippling. Then again, any smart DM could easily plan ahead to it (give the sorcerer bbeg a 10th level cleric follower, or just make sure he's protected by other means).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, compared to Quivering Palm... almost anything seems permissible.

      In any case, I'm definitely going to bump up the cost to 4 ki points -- the Nails and Palm would rather see 5, but I think, since it's fairly niche (the text of the spell calls out that your enemy can still fight) and does require a save, 4 is probably about right.

      Delete
    2. Not sure I'd classify utterly destroying any arcane caster, in addition to removing any strategic abilities of an opponent, and also dealing 4d6 psychic, as "niche".

      Heck, I'd pay 4 ki just for the 4d6 damage half the time.

      Delete
  9. Really love this version of the soul knife - psionics really appeals to me. One small issue I have is that the psionic savant feature requires verbal and somatic components in order to cast the listed spells, which doesn't feel very psionic to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good point -- consider it done.

      Delete
  10. I honestly found the last feature a little dry, with the choice of blades why not add in a feature of improvements at 17.
    Let the soul knife get increased mental skills enabling him to use a single feat as a dynamic ability changeable upon short rest, hence suddenly your monk goes up in versatility and fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Toggleable feats wouldn't quite work, for a few reasons -- first and foremost, it's (technically) a variant rule, and while every DM I've played with has allowed feats, it's bad form to include them as standard.

      All things told, if we're talking about psionics, the idea of leaving your enemies mentally impaired in your wake seems very apt, and is extremely useful in some circumstances. Plus, these guys are more jedi than mentalists, so more mind-interacting stuff is par for the course.

      Delete