Author Topic: The Incarnum Handbook  (Read 5654 times)

Offline Sinfire Titan

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The Incarnum Handbook
« Topic Start: November 08, 2011, 10:17:20 AM »
The Guide to Incarnum.


Index:
  • Race Optimization
  • Feats Overview
  • Incarnate
  • Totemist
  • Soulborn
  • Prestige Classes and Multiclassing options
  • Items to Consider
  • Variant Rule Systems

The following handbook is designed to optimize one of the more underused alternate magic systems in the game: Incarnum. I will be giving a case-by-case review of everything in the MoI, and several tips for making the best Meldshaper you can get for minimal investment.


And here is a nice tool for those of us who put this book to good use. Thanks to Lycanthromancer for designing this spreadsheet!
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Re: The Incarnum Handbook
« Reply #1: November 08, 2011, 10:17:50 AM »
Race Optimization

So, the first choice you will have to make for playing anything in the MoI is what race you want to be. Some races are better than others, and some are absolute shit for it. Pay close attention to the racial modifiers of each and every race, as they have a heavy impact on this choice. And, obviously, some races are thematically correct for it. Let's get started, shall we?

Core+ Incarnum Races:
(click to show/hide)

MM

(click to show/hide)

Other Races
(click to show/hide)
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Re: The Incarnum Handbook
« Reply #2: November 08, 2011, 10:19:11 AM »
Feats Overview

So, now that you have finished looking at the races that can be considered, let's move onto the feats you will be wanting. I will be looking at every feat in the MoI, and then several select few feats from other books in this section. Expect it to be much longer than the Races section, so grab a bag of chips or ten and a nice two-liter of soda. And don't drink it while reading anything I post, as I generally include a few jokes between lines that can crack you up from time to time. I don't want to owe a total stranger a new monitor/keyboard because you were reading my stuff while taking a chug.

Magic of Incarnum's feats
(click to show/hide)

Outside sources:

Book of Exalted Deeds
(click to show/hide)

Elder Evils

(click to show/hide)

If anyone else has feats they would like to contribute to this handbook, feel free to post it.
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Re: The Incarnum Handbook
« Reply #3: November 08, 2011, 10:19:56 AM »
The Incarnate

From feats, we get into the Meldshaper classes themselves, and I will be going in an unusual order with it. Starting with the Incarnate (easily the best for your all around Meldshaping goodness) and working my way through the three base classes, we will be taking a strong look at what each class feature brings to the table, and will have a look at what Soulmelds each one has access to (and critiquing them later on).

So, without further ado, I present the Handbook's guide to making an Incarnate.

I AM the mother fucking Law!

Key ability scores for an Incarnate
(click to show/hide)

Hit Dice: d6. You are on par with the Bard here pal. Make those dice count!

BAB: Crap. But this hindrance is easily overcome by your class features and Soulmelds.

Base Saves: Two good, one utterly bites. Those Reflex saves will be the party's undoing if you are the skill monkey.

Meldshaping
(click to show/hide)

Class Features
(click to show/hide)

So, which Incarnate is the best? I'm partial to the LN side, just because you can keep up with the party Tank (or even replace him) when you want to. All but the CN one shine in my eyes. CN is only bad because they gave it the wrong stereotype. Every CN character I've played along side of never went ranged unless he really couldn't reach something. Every other time he just ran headlong into the fray (and often got KOed for it).

So, here are a few 20th level builds to think about. Pick your paths carefully. All of them are 20th level Incarnates, seeing as this is what this section is about anyway.

Neutral Good
(click to show/hide)
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Re: The Incarnum Handbook
« Reply #4: November 08, 2011, 10:20:41 AM »
The Totemist

In terms of sheer offense, the Totemist is rivaled only by Martial Adepts and Spellcasters. This class is the "Design your own Monster" class, and is unique to that respect by being one of the most balanced classes that grants natural weapons (the others being all spellcasters with access to Polymorph). But don't let that deter you from this class. Totemists are a nightmare in combat due to the sheer number of natural attacks they can make due to their Soulmelds, and their unique Totem Chakra is a very potent weapon to use. Sadly, they have few class features that don't involve Soulmelds, and as such they are vulnerable when caught with their pants down (do they even need to wear them?).

In spite of this weakness, their Soulmelds are the most versatile in terms of Binding locations, as all of them can be bound to at least 2 Chakras. This gives them a distinct customization to them rivaled by prepared casters; if one day goes by and you are bored of their current melds and abilities, rebind and reshape them into a new beast of destruction.

Continuing this guide, we look at everything the Totemist can bring to the table. The following will help you determine if the class is the right Meldshaper you want to play.

HE WHO MAKES A BEAST OUT OF HIMSELF, GETS RID OF THE PAIN OF BEING A MAN!

Key Ability Scores for a Totemist
(click to show/hide)

Hit Dice: d8. You can take a little punishment. But not nearly as much as you would like to. Still, this at least means you won't be on ice from a Shocking Grasp at 1st level, so it has a few perks.

BAB: Medium. Thankfully, you are more adept at hitting things that are pestering you. I get the feeling WotC didn't want to supercharge this class by making the entire thing into the same stats as a Magical Beast (d10, full BAB, two Good saves). If this instinct is correct, then try and talk your DM into fixing this and the Soulborn. Two of the Substitution Levels for the Incarnate upgrade Skill Points and HD, while none of the Totemist ones even touch either. I can see a fix of this class doing just that though.

Saves: Alas, where the Incarnate had to worry about Reflex, you have to worry about being Dominated. Literally. And no one wants the party's BSF Totemist being turned against them. Several feats and Soulmelds will help shore this weakness up. Good news, you have two good saves. This makes Gestalting very nice, as you can just choose Knight to upgrade everything you have but Skill Points. Not a bad deal there. I would personally use Crusader or Warblade for it though, or maybe the Duskblade (and go to town with Shocking Grasp).

Meldshaping
(click to show/hide)

Class Features
(click to show/hide)

So, in all the Totemist is probably the easiest to learn (due to the lack of class features), but has the hardest melds to figure out. Why play one? For the satisfaction of playing your own monster. This class literally is the "Be the Beast" class, and has several potent tricks up its sleeves (or lack thereof).

Still, it is somewhat more chocked than the Incarnate, which means you will have to make a lot of decisions yourself. Trust me, this class can be more trouble than a dog that hasn't been housebroken. In more than one way.

Sample Totemist Build
(click to show/hide)

Totemist's Soulmelds
(click to show/hide)

Now, first impressions aside, I have had the pleasure of playing a Totemist (and have been recording its progress here) and can proudly say that the class has some serious strength with the right build.
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Re: The Incarnum Handbook
« Reply #5: November 08, 2011, 10:21:07 AM »
The Soulborn


Sadly, I view the Soulborn as horridly underpowered for the purposes of this handbook. That being said, this is a previously made handbook that has slipped into the obscurity of the Archives. If you are seeking help for optimizing a Soulborn, then that link contains everything you would need to do so. But, for the sake of this handbook, I will cover the Soulborn too.

Preparation is the key to victory

Key ability scores for a Soulborn

(click to show/hide)

Hit Dice: d10. As with the Paladin, you are one hardy Mother FuckerTM.

BAB: The only full BAB Meldshaper base class in the entire existance of DnD, the Soulborn is on par with his other melee-based classes, at least when it comes to this. Smite+Full BAB+Power Attack=Good hit with extra damage.

Base Saves: Ah shit. Another high-Fort class with no bonus to Will and Full BAB. With no Divine Grace, you need to have some kind of backup for your Will saves at the lower levels.

Meldshaping
(click to show/hide)

Class Features
(click to show/hide)

So, that's it. If you want to play a Soulborn, you know what to focus on.

However, I would advise against doing this. From personal experience, the Soulborn itself can be outclassed by both of the other Meldshaper classes, and the Crusader alone does everything the Soulborn could dream of doing with the right feats. I have seen several people praising the class, but I for one see it as underpowered. There really is nothing it does that the other Meldshapers can't do better.

I've seen the potential for the class, and I am unimpressed. The hit to its Meldshaper level alone hinders its ability to use its Soulmelds as several of them offer saves (and thus need to bypass SR). While it may be able to take advantage of Shape Soulmeld, that feat isn't one they are able to select with their class bonus feats (as it itself isn't an Incarnum feat). This means they are spending something far more valuable than a bonus feat to do something another class all ready does (the Totemist alone takes the same advantages the Soulborn has, and does so without the alignment restrictions).

Its Smite feature is limited to 5-11 uses per day. What more, Smite doesn't affect a full-attack, something this class desperately needs to use just to keep up with other classes. Add in the poor support for it via PrCs and feats, and this class just gets the shaft. I can see someone trying to do a Charger build to play this class, but that is still out-shined by the Dungeoncrasher, the Lion Totemist, and even the Charging Smite builds.

Do take my advice for this one. It really is a weak class.
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Re: The Incarnum Handbook
« Reply #6: November 08, 2011, 10:21:26 AM »
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

(click to show/hide)

Incarnum Blade

(click to show/hide)

Ironsoul Forger

(click to show/hide)

Necrocarnate

(click to show/hide)

Sapphire Hierarch

(click to show/hide)

Soulcaster/Soulmanifester

(click to show/hide)

Spinemeld Warrior

(click to show/hide)

Totem Rager

(click to show/hide)

Umbral Disciple

(click to show/hide)

Witchborn Binder

(click to show/hide)

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.
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Re: The Incarnum Handbook
« Reply #7: November 08, 2011, 10:22:14 AM »
Items to Consider

This section of the handbook will cover both Magic Items, and Soulmelds. It will be an in-depth look at virtually every item in the DMG and MiC, and a close-up of the Soulmelds presented in Magic of Incarnum and Dragon Magic.

Obviously, Optimizers will love custom-made magic items. They know the potential of turning spells into items, and know how to do this effectively. This section isn't for those who do know this and can easily create such items. This is the place for people who have very little idea on what to purchase.

Before we begin, I do have something of a common sense ruling to mention here: Soulmelds are innately magical effects. This is notable because they all allow spell resistance if they affect someone other than yourself (melds such as the Incarnate Weapon, most Totemist Soulmelds, and dissolving Spittle affect you, despite dealing HP damage to an opponent, as they grant you something that you didn't have before). Due to this, logic dictates that all Soulmelds overcome DR/Magic as though they were the result of a spell if the Soulmeld grants a weapon (be it natural or otherwise). Also, Soulmelds are somewhat tangible items. They can be suppressed and even enhanced by certain spells. And even some outside effects can be applied to them, such as Vow of Poverty's Weapon Enhancement, or the Kensai's Signature Weapon. Debate this all you desire, the fact stands that Soulmelds are magical.

Items of the DMG

(click to show/hide)

Items of the MiC

(click to show/hide)

Items of Note
(click to show/hide)

Legacy Items

(click to show/hide)

Soulmelds

(click to show/hide)
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Re: The Incarnum Handbook
« Reply #8: November 08, 2011, 10:22:30 AM »
Post reserved for Variant rules.
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