Prestige Classes and Multiclassing Options
This section of the handbook is devoted solely to the Prestige Classes that would benefit a Meldshaper, and to give tips for multiclassing with a Meldshaper.
The MoI is perhaps one of a few books that really forces you to make a choice when multiclassing. Almost everything the Incarnate and Totemist gets are dependent on them staying for the whole 20 levels. This, coupled with the fact that there isn't a single feat designed to alleviate multiclassing the way there is one for Ranger/Scout, Rogue/Swashbuckler, or even Paladin/Monk is one massive red light for multiclassing.
That being said, there are several classes that can benefit your Meldshaping advancement, and it may even be worth halting that entirely for certain classes (such as to attain 9th level spells).
So, let us begin the next section.Incandescent Champion
At a glance, this seems to be a hybrid of the Incarnate and Warlock. In fact, it is just another PrC with a fancy title.
Entry Requirements: Due to the minimum BAB of +6, Incarnates can never finish this class pre-Epic. Totemists, however, can enter with little effort, but they get little out of it. Soulborns, IMO, shouldn't be considered optimal for anything in this book, but they can make do with this PrC.
Honestly, the best way to enter it is the Dungeoncrasher Fighter or another full BAB class that can benefit from not advancing in 3 points of BAB and can afford losing 10 levels worth of class features. Martial Adepts can do much better than this PrC.
Incandescent Strike: Meh. If the feature provided a bonus to attack rolls too, then it would be blue. But it doesn't, so it only gets a Meh. As to the glowing like a torch, the Asherati all ready do that.
Fast Healing (Self): Everyone likes FH 4 for 10 rounds. Despite the limited number of uses you get from this feature, it is actually a decent thing to have. Technically, FH 0 will still stabilize you, so you don't need to invest if the fight is going to end the round you do so. Action Points (SRD, ECS) can make this a nice ability to have in emergencies. But with the printing of Complete Champion, and the single LA provided by the Feral template, this ability is quickly shone to the door.
The IC is unique with its Fast Healing in that it can share it with all adjacent allies at 7th level. After combat, this makes a nice way to take a little pressure off of the healbot. I've never seen a class feature that can heal so many people at once that wasn't a spell or horridly underpowered, so this is blue for that reason.
Unbearable Countenance: If this was like any other Gaze attack, it would be blue. But it isn't, so its not. Shaken is a crappy little debuff to have, but having it at will is somewhat ok. Considering the level you get this at happens around 9th, I'd say it could be better. The DC is low, which is another point to take off from it. Seriously, do they think being Shakened is really that huge of a penalty?
Incarnum Overload: If the duration on this feature were longer than one round, or the ability could be used more often, then this thing would get a gold star for being awesome. A 4 level dip can easily spell out doom for your opponents 1/day, and the fact that it is a free action to use is what makes it worth having. It is quite possible to boost your Cha above 30 by level 20, so a cap of 18 Essentia in any single Soulmeld, feat, or Class Feature is dangerous to have. Incarnates would love to have this for their Soulmelds, and the Totem Rager may want to grab this and a Belt of Magnificence to really abuse Cobalt Rage. The applications can get very deadly.
Incandescent Ray: This is nice to have at will. Makes you into a Warlock. The max you can get for this is about 5-15, which means it is nothing to sneeze at if you have no other ranged capabilities. Still, it isn't as powerful as it could be. Nice trick to catch someone off guard with though. Good follow-through for your Unbearable Countenance. Still weak though.
[COLOR="Blue"]Incandescent Aura[/COLOR]: Wow. 5d6 just for being adjacent to you. Now that is good. What more, you can exclude your allies from it. And you can easily make it 15d6 2/day. Daylight at will is nice to have too.
Incandescent Transcendence: This would be good if it were at will. Because it lasts for only a few rounds, and is only 1/day, it isn't blue.
Looking at it, this isn't a PrC that I want to work with for this handbook. The features, while mostly nice, can be imitated by a Warlock with the right feats. Because of this, the applications are limited, and optimizing it is going to be a pain.
When you first look at the class, you would easily wonder why a Meldshaper would slow their Essentia and Binds down for the sake of this class. In truth, you are right. Despite the class features it grants, this class is not meant for someone who wants to be a Meldshaper. Rather it is made for those who want a sort of Soulmeld Gish.
The easiest entry is debatable. But any Full BAB class can get in with ease.
Entry Requirements: Two ranks in a (generally) CC skill, and a BAB of +5 is it. Oh, and an alignment restriction. No big deal here. Warblade, Crusader, Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin, Soulborn, the list goes on. Fighter may like this, as it has some synergy with the Weapon Specialization tree. But that is somewhat sub-par.
Shape Blademeld: Nothing interesting about this. It really does nothing but improve your weapon's stats like a magic item. An extra 25 HP for your weapon is nice, but Legacy Weapons get more than that. But who's to say your Blademeld can't be a Legacy Weapon too? Sadly, you can't invest Essentia with just this class feature. And unlike the Totemist, it doesn't do a damn thing for your Essentia capacity.
Blademeld Chakra Binds: Despite having the fastest access to the Heart and Soul Chakras, one thing people commonly overlook is the fact that you can only bind the Blademeld to them, they are not open to all of your Soulmelds. Because of this, the abilities the class offers are limited, and it really isn't worth a damn thing. None of the bonuses provided by the Blademeld Chakra Binds are worth anything special. All of those same bonuses can be attained through feats, magic items, or Soulmelds.
Rebind Blademeld: Not worth a damn thing. really, not worth the level investment. Nice effort though.
Dual Chakra Binding: As with most of the class features this PrC grants, this is worth about a punch in the nuts. Jeez. Well, I didn't expect godhood from a 5 level PrC, and neither should you.
Looking at the class, it isn't worth anything. Because of how focused it is on a single feature, and the fact that you can't bind other Soulmelds to the Chakras it grants, this isn't even a good dip class. This needs a major oversight or overhaul to be playable, and if it happens then maybe the class can be good. Most people will miss the fact that they can't bind other Soulmelds to those Chakras they get. And the fact that it doesn't even advance your previous Meldshaping abilities means this class is more worthless than the Shining Blade of Heironeous. A bold claim, but those who do their research will agree with me.
This is one of the best PrCs in this book due to the synergy it has with Incarnate and Totemist. Despite the racial restriction on it, the entry is fairly easy, and all three Meldshaper classes can enter it with ease.
Entry Requirements: As I said in the Races section, Dwarf is a good choice for a Meldshaper. The Con bonus and access to this PrC is just too good to pass up. Dragonborn may, arguably, be a better choice just because they have the extra bump to their Con score, and they still qualify if Dwarf is used as the base. Craft is a class skill for all classes, so that is covered. And the ability to Shape Soulmelds is easily met by level 5.
Meldshaping: With 9/10ths progression of your Meldshaper abilities, and two good saves to boot, this class is hard to beat. So far, none of the PrCs we have looked at even touched your Meldhshaper level, though it can be completely irrelevant at times. Blue all the way baby.
Shield Bond: Good god! Look at all those resistances! At 20th level, that can easily be 25 to every energy type but Force. What more, it applies even when using a Dancing Shield. This leaves your hands free to go wallop the enemies with a nice, heavy weapon. Like yourself. Because you invest in it as though it were a Soulmeld and not a class feature, item, or feat, you can easily increase the resistances to around 30. And because it functions off of Essentia invested in the Shield itself, and not the class feature, you can use a Soulbound Shield to double-dip for an AC boost.
Secrets of the Forge: This is blue because Spellcraft is a class skill for all Meldshapers. Also, because your CL is 3x your Ironsoul Forgemaster level, not much is out of your reach for crafting. CC ranks in UMD allows you to use Scrolls instead of other casters to make items, and with one Soulmeld bound to a Chakra you can easily meet the DCs to use the scrolls you want. Hell, wands/Eternal Wands can be used too. A good trick to have.
Forge Lore: Meh. One dead level here or there isn't too bad. This bonus is not needed though.
Chakra Binds: The only bad part about this class is that it really hits your Chakra slots. 4/10, assuming you don't have any open. Less if you are an Incarnate or Totemist. But it does get the Heart Chakra by 15th instead of 16th for Incarnates, so it has some applications. It isn't godly, but then again, if it were this PrC may be a bit too strong.
Armor Bond: The fact that it stacks with the DR from Adamantine makes it decent. If it stacked with a Barbarian's DR, then I would be marking this as blue. Just like the Shield bond, it is treated as a Soulmeld, so you can get a nice AC boost and higher than normal DR.
Weapon Bond: Ouch! This is a nice trick to have. Soulbound Weapons are easy to make for you, and this can get the damage pretty high. Couple with PA, Cobalt Power, and maybe Cobalt Charge, and you can get the damage up there. It is up for debate if the Ancestral Relic feat, a new-found Legacy Weapon, or Soulmelds you shape are considered weapons you have crafted. If your DM rules yes, then Totemists can go to town with this. If not, Incarnates will still like it, and Totemists will be missing out on at least a claw attack.
So, this is the #3 PrC in the book, and the easiest to optimize. Why? Because everyone on these boards can tell you that crafting your own magic items is more cost effective than buying them from someone else. What's more, this PrC double-dips with the Armor, Shield, and Weapon bonds, all of which can give you incredible bonuses for just a few points of Essentia. I compare this class to another 9/10s PrC, the Fist of Raziel. At the loss of a single level of advancement, this PrC gives a nice payout, and is well worth the 1/10th. However, while I am comparing the two, I would like to say that they are not on the same power level. FoR is a spellcasting class. This alone puts it well above the Ironsoul Forgemaster. But think of Ironsoul Forgemaster as the FoR of the MoI, and you wouldn't be that far off.
An entire thread dedicated to optimizing this PrC can be found here
. That being said, good god, is it broken or what?
And now we move into the dual-advancement classes. At a glance, this PrC is a huge downgrade for a Cleric. d6 HD, poor BAB, one good save. But the truth is, it is a very tricky little class to have. Both Totemist/Ur-Priest and Cleric/Incarnate can enter this class with little effort. So, let's have a look.
Entry Requirements: 4 ranks in two skills, able to shape three melds, and able to cast 2nd level Divine spells (and access to the Law domain), with an Essentia Pool of three. The alignment restriction should actually read Any Lawful. But that is more or less irrelevant. The Lawful restriction means Incarnate/Ur-Priest doesn't work. But Totemist/Ur-Priest does. Good entry is any combo of Cleric and Incarnate that totals 10 levels (Cleric 9/Incarnate 1 for those who want 9th level spells), and Totemist 4 with either Binder 2, Hexblade 2, or Knight 2 with the Educated feat, and Ur-Priest 3/Contemplative 1.
Consultation: 3/level is nice, but the fact that you still pay the XP cost hurts it. Commune is a decent SLA to have, but really, this is mostly worthless. Still, not red.
Smite Chaos: Because it only does class level in extra damage, and relies on melee combat with a dual-advancement PrC, this ability is next to worthless. Still, some like it.
Favored of the Eidolon: The bonus to saves is limited, situational, and minor. But it is a bonus to saves against Transmutation effects. Meh.
DR: Adamantine is common, and it is so weak it almost isn't worth a damn thing.
Sapphire Body: Now we are talking! This is nice to have, and it is Ex to boot!
Timeless Body: And?
Looking at it, this PrC leaves a lot to be desired. But the entry requirements are so easy, it is laughable. Divine Power more than covers your lowly BAB. I'd say the Totemist route is the most potent, as their Meldshaping isn't dependent on too much Essentia or Chakra Binds other than the Totem bind. Too bad you have to spend feats to get new Chakras to bind to. Oh well, a deal is a freaking deal, and the Incarnum domain is wickedly good for any Meldshaper. If you focus solely on the Meldshaping, it is decent. But if you focus on your spellcasting, and use it like a Gish class, then you can do some real damage. Watch out for it.
I put these two in the same place because, really, they are almost the exact same thing. Soulcaster is probably better, due to Strongheart Vest+Sanctified Spell abuse.
Entry Requirements: Due to the fact that Meldshaping and spellcasting are two different things, Focused Specialist+Precocious Apprentice is a very optimal entry to this class. Also, with only a two-level dip, you have your Chakra bind. So you can focus mostly on your spellcasting. 6th level is the earliest you can enter (unless you cheese the Skill points requirement). The Phrenic version (Soulmanifester) has its own Optimization tricks with a few feats and Soulmelds, but I will be focusing on the Arcane version to conserve post-space.
Arcane Investment: Anything that pumps the DCs of your spells is nice. The fact that this stacks with Spell Focus makes it nice. But it is a bit expensive for a spellcaster to invest in so many spells, so only boost the ones that really need it. This combos well with Shadowcraft Mage, and you only need 7 levels in the class to get the best of it.
Chakra Binds: Too bad it doesn't grant the other 4 binds you lack. Otherwise this would be blue. But hey, it isn't half-bad to have more Chakra binds. Especially when you can get Spellward Shirt bound at 18th with a feat. Not a bad deal. Not the best though.
Magical Distillation: The duration is so short, it almost isn't worth it. Add in the fact that you have to expend your highest level spell slots to use it, and this is junk outright.
This is a nice PrC to have. With a Ring of Wizardry (3/4) and Focused Specialist, you can easily afford to keep several Soulmelds full for a combat or two. This class can get great mileage out of its spells. A good build is Wizard 1/Incarnate 2/Master Specialist 3/Soulcaster 4/Shadowcraft Mage 10, but it is very feat-intense. A very nice class because it can dodge the Ability Damage caused by Sanctified or Corrupt spells (hurray for being able to cast Rapture of Rupture without taking Strength damage!)
Now we move on to one of the most notable PrCs in the book. The Spinemeld Warrior does something that an entire base class wishes it could do: Win. Let's take a look at it.
Entry Requirements: Wow. Those are easy to get! This is very similar to Incandescent Champion (in fact, the two classes can be used together for a few levels).
Twin Spine Fighting: Not bad. Improved Rapidstrike for your Spine attacks. There may be some argument over if the "you can't use this with any other weapons" applies to manufactured ones or all (including natural), but it seems to be leaning towards manufactured.
Two-Weapon Fighting: This is a real improvement on the previous TWFing classes. It actually allows you to select something else if you all ready had the feat. Still, it is only a bonus feat.
Noble Familiarity: Meh. Bardic Knowledge for Lawful characters, effectively. Not good, but not bad either.
Spine Enhancement: Ouch! Since your spines are now treated as Soulmelds, you can get a huge enhancement to them with a little effort. Evil little bastards, huh?
Spine Rend: Should be a Pounce ability. Rend damage is only meh.
Chakra Bind: Aww, only one!? Still, the ones you can get are nuts to have on a TWFer. The fact that your Meldshaper level is equal to your class levels instead of half that is nice, seeing as you can really improve upon that. Too bad there isn't a dual-advancement PrC for Meldshapers only.
Adamantine Spines: This comes so late game, it is worthless.
So, this class has a little going for it, and a little against it. But this is a very balanced PrC, and it actually gets the job done when it needs to.
And now, we move into the broken territory. I may want to do a handbook just for this PrC! Totem Rager is really hardcore for optimization, despite its Medium BAB progression. I'll crack it open, and look at what makes it tick.
Entry Requirements: Wait, so 14 skill points, one feat, and a BAB of +5 is it? Aside from Rage+Totem Chakra binding, yes. Not all that bad.
Meldshaping: The double hit to your Meldshaping abilities hurts a little (total of 4 ML lost if you are Totemist 4/Barb 2). But the payoff is worth it. Any more loses of Meldshaping abilities would be a no-go. It is a bit of a stretch, but it is possible to talk someone into allowing you to get Double Totem Bind through this alone. If it happens, then this gets a huge boost in power. But it is a huge stretch, and you can live without it.
Totem Rage: Namesake ability is really good too. Bonus Essentia that can be easily increased via Bloodlines, and the ability to invest in Cobalt Rage without the 24 hour restriction.
Wild Empathy: Unless you are seriously going to make an animal-based Diplomancer, don't worry about this feature.
Extra Rage: Only one of it, so take the feat of the same name to improve upon it as soon as you can.
DR: If you could improve it by investing Essentia, then this would be somewhat decent. I'm not marking this as red though, because it says it stacks with other DR/-. Very little DR stacks, so this is a bonus.
Chakra Binds: With only a total of 7 Chakras to bind to, the Totem Rager is a bit hurt for binding abilities. But those 7 are all you will need.
Extended Rage: While it won't come into play that often, it is nice to have the little extra mileage.
Totem Chakra Bind (+1 capacity): Good thing this actually mentions it stacks! Most of the Totemist's melds affect only themselves, so while it helps, it isn't strictly needed. But it shores up on their lack of BAB, which is nice to have.
So, the class looks a little sub-par at a glance. But when you think about what you can do with all of the Totemist's Soulmelds, and the Lion Totem Barbarian ACF, this really becomes godly. Not as powerful as a Frenzied Berserker, but you can at least keep up for a while. A good follow-up to this PrC is Bear Warrior, though you will want a dip into FB to make up for the lost Rage benefits.
Moving on, we take a look at the Umbral Disciple, a PrC I have heard mentioned here numerous times. At a glance, you could almost mistake it for a Monk PrC. In truth, it is much easier to enter than a large number of Monk classes.
Entry Requirements: Those are all easily met through any number of 4+Int classes. And the Essentia can be attained via Azurin as the base race.
Essentia Pool: Extra Essentia never hurt anyone (but the dead guy). This class receives only 7 points over 10 levels, but a single level dip nets a single point and a class feature to invest it in.
Sept Knowledge: Now, the primary use of this will come from Knowledge Devotion making up for your 3/4 BAB, but otherwise this will see little play.
Step of the Bodiless: All but one of those skills is a designated favored skill of several ToB disciplines, and each of those skills can come into play at any given time during a game. Never underestimate bonuses, but this doesn't need to be a focus for all of your Essentia unless you know you will be making every one of those skill checks. Meh.
Sneak Attack: Who doesn't like free Sneak Attack dice?
Embrace of Shadow: This is a neat trick to have if you can pump the Essentia to insane levels. The most you can get pre-Epic is around 50% concealment, but it will be like having a Su Persistent Displacement on yourself. Stealth builds will love the fact that it bypasses True Seeing (as you are only gaining concealment and making a Hide check). This almost beats the Dark template.
Eyes of the Sightless: Blindsight is hard to get around. It is even harder to get it permanently on your character. 50ft is a good range for it too.
Soulchilling Strike: I may catch some flak for this, but the ability really isn't that good. Str damage means Undead and Constructs are immune outright, it can only ever be 5 points at a time, you need 5 Essentia to get that 5 damage, and the DC scales miserably. And it only works 1/round. Craptastic.
Kiss of the Shadows: It only lasts during your turn, but extend reach is a really good thing to have. This is an ability worth having for something like Whirlwind Attack, or even Adamantine Hurricane (if you can get it).
Looking at it, it isn't a bad class in the least. This is one of the good PrCs to take for skill monkey builds.
I look at this PrC, and cringe a little inside. That is a huge chunk of your Meldshaper advancement it is eating. I recommend rethinking this PrC, or asking for an improvement to the advancement.
Entry Requirements: Ok, let me just set the record here. You want 14 skill points (possibly more, as some of those are CC skills for Soulborn and Incarnate), two bum steer feats, a 6 level investment into a base class at the least, and no spellcasting ever, for d6 HD, 4+Int/level, one good save, 3/4s BAB, and four sharp kicks into my Meldshaper advancement? I'm all ready hating this class.
Meldshaping: Four. That's right, you lose 4 Meldshaper levels. Totem Rager loses two. Soulcaster, well, they lose two Caster Levels at the least. This class alone costs you 4 Meldshaper levels. Ouch. And the class doesn't even grant Chakra binds. This is not a good way to make your class. The BAB isn't worth it for Incarnates, Totemists can be better magic-haters with one Soulmeld, and Soulborns can't even finish the PrC until Epic.
Detect Magic: At will Detect Magic is handy, but not a really good ability.
Meldshield: Cool. Hexblade 2 gives Cha to all saves against spells/SLAs. This requires Essentia, and is limited to a +5 bonus at 20th. You can easily get a +20 from Hexblade/Paladin of Tyranny (Slaughter), or other classes. And +10 of that can apply against everything.
Royal Purse: Do you know how much gold the average nobleman has at any given point in the year that he can freely spend as he chooses according to DMG 2? 1000 GP. A drop in the bucket at this level. And you get this ability 1/level, not day.
Dispelling Orb: Neat little trick. It has three key problems though:
1: Dispel Magic, as the spell, is limited to a +10. At ECL 20, you aren't going to dispel s*** with this.
2: Meldshaper Level took a hit all ready, and this ability is ML-dependent.
3: The insight bonus caps at 4, which means you are SOL against high CLs.
Essentia: Oh look, something worth having. This class could have just increased your Meldshaping abilities instead of granting more Essentia, as it really would do the same damn thing.
Mages Shackles: You know those problems with the Dispelling Orb? Replace the first one with "It is a melee touch attack", and you have my opinion on this feature. At 20th level, if you are an Incarnate, your BAB will be 12. Totemist? 14. Touch AC is easy to hit, but both of those classes have a problem with their AC and low HP, which means you aren't going to be using this to shut down a Pit Fiend Blasphemy lock. Plus, you are using it on Arcane spellcasters who have access to higher AC bonuses than most others. And you have to overcome SR without a Practiced Meldshaper feat existing and the -4 ML.
Word of Abrogation: Should have been subsumed into the Dispelling Orb in the first place. This suffers the same consequences as that ability, save for the Dispel Magic cap.
Spiritflay: While you get a similar effect from Dissolving Spittle, this is untyped damage. They get a save instead of Touch AC, and the DC is decent for a change. The damage is pitiful though. Nauseating them is a good tactic.
Grim Integument: Aside from being able to suffocate them, this ability is almost junk. About 11 uses/day though, which is the average you can normally get without CO's help. But the DC is so low it almost isn't worth trying.
As I said before, this class gives off the stench of weaksauce. This is a pitiful Meldshaper PrC option.
So, a few tips on multiclassing with a Meldshaper:
- Weigh your options. If you are only a level away from a new Chakra Bind, Soulmeld, or a new class feature, then only multiclass if what that other class offers is better than the abilites you could be getting
- BAB is really a non-issue with Totemists or LN Incarnates. It is even very viable to go all the way to 20 with those classes and never miss a single point if you take the right feats.
- In general, the class features a PrC offers are less-important than your Soulmelds. Fill Soulmelds you will be using all day first, Features second, and feats last.
- Skill Points are not a needed thing for Incarnates. They can be perfect skill monkeys without 6+Int skills.
- If it doesn't advance your Meldshaping, only take it if it offers spells or maneuvers. Those are worth something. Feats are not however.
- Like spellcasting, slowing your Meldshaper progression is a bad idea. Unlike spellcasting, you can afford to slow it a little if what is being offered more than makes up for it.
- No PrC offers full Meldshaper advancement. Even the Sapphire Heirarch and Soulcaster lose at least three levels from their Meldshaping just to meet entry requirements. This is a sad game we play, where the very book these classes come in doesn't even give full advancement for them in a single PrC.
- Flavor is always mutable.
The MoI received almost as much support as the CW Samurai (next to nothing). This fact limits you to only a handful of books when making a multiclassing Meldshaper. I highly suggest convincing your DM to allow some of the Home Brew PrCs for it here
Inventing a new PrC for a Meldshaper is somewhat a problem too. I can't cover anything home brew, as not all DMs will even look at the classes with any serious consideration. Due to this, they are excluded from this handbook.