Author Topic: The Totemist Handbook  (Read 12137 times)

Offline Sinfire Titan

  • Hustler 3
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1442
  • You have one round to give a rat's ass.
  • Respect: +28
    • View Profile
The Totemist Handbook
« Topic Start: November 08, 2011, 12:49:43 PM »
The Totemist






Forward


Yes, I know, I all ready did the Incarnum Handbook. That was a generalized guide to making a meldshaper character. This handbook shall focus exclusivly on the Totemist and ways to optimize one.

So, what makes a Totemist a good class? Think of it like the Druid, only less broken. Why play one when the Druid is superior? Becuase some DMs don't like casters, some DMs don't like Druids, and some players don't like being a tree-hugger that can't wear studded leather.

Also, the Totemist is strickly superior when it comes to certain tasks. After doing the math, a Totemist is capable of getting certain skills and checks somewhere in the mid-80's without using spells. For example: they can get a Grapple check of +80 by level 20. Or 16 ranged attacks at his highest attack bonus.

Without templates or cheese, and before rolling the damn die.

In other words, they are close to being the ultimate Skill monkey. The can also be a hellishly powerful tank that can at least provide for a party of casters (they actually feel at home when there are three or more casters involved).

Tier-wise, I would put them somewhere between Tier 4 and Tier 2. They aren't capable of being Tier 2 without using certain classes, but they can avoid Tier 4 with even a slight amount of optimization. So, the average you should expect from this class is Tier 3.

A note about this class: They aren't capable of producing the damage a Charger build is. They can sure as hell deal damage, but the values are an average of 160 at level 20. This is just an estimate, and doesn't involved Totem Rager+Frenzied Breserker levels (which can boost that even higher). They are capable of using the Girallon Arms meld to 4-hand a Greatsword, which means they can do the job. But that's sketchy at best, and easily capable of getting a chair to the face.

Again, why play one? They can't out-damage a charger build without being one themselves, and they can't out-class the Druid without being heavily focused on a single task.

Because some DMs don't allow Charger builds. They dislike damage values that are in the 200s by level 10. They don't like Druids.

This class is the medium. It's a balanced mix of the two, but it isn't gimped enough to fall too far behind. They can keep up with ECL-appropriate encounters, and can keep the casters in your party happy by not sucking when the situation changes unexpectedly. Unlike a Charger build, they aren't fucked royally when they can't move, and they aren't crying when they miss with the first 4 attacks. Unlike the Druid, they aren't tree-hugging hippies by default. This is a man's class.

Enough chit-chat, let's get to the grit.
Concerned about how moderation works here? Please PM this account.

Offline Sinfire Titan

  • Hustler 3
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1442
  • You have one round to give a rat's ass.
  • Respect: +28
    • View Profile
Re: The Totemist Handbook
« Reply #1: November 08, 2011, 12:51:42 PM »
Racial Choice

When making a Totemist, it's important to remember one thing: You have no attacks at 1st level. You either need a weapon (which you don't want, as it consumes your gold), or a natural weapon built into your race (the best option, as you can expand upon this easily).

Favored class means bull shit. Most builds for a Totemist either ignore XP Penalties outright, or are single-classed to begin with. So when I post a race here, I post it because it's a good choice for the 1st level, and a solid option for the next 19. If you need to worry about Favored Class, play Azurin or Human. As much as I love the Duskling, they just don't make the cut when it comes to 1st level.

So, here are some solid races to look into:

(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: November 08, 2011, 12:57:44 PM by Sinfire Titan »
Concerned about how moderation works here? Please PM this account.

Offline Sinfire Titan

  • Hustler 3
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1442
  • You have one round to give a rat's ass.
  • Respect: +28
    • View Profile
Re: The Totemist Handbook
« Reply #2: November 08, 2011, 12:57:03 PM »
Class Features

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.

I'm not kidding around about this class. They are beasts in combat. It takes high-level optimization to out-tempo them at their own game. At the lower levels, they are unequaled in melee combat.

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)

The primary way to play a Totemist is to scout for the 1st level, then face-rape for the next 19. Seriously, this class can be mean! You can get about 8 Claw attacks from your Totem Chakra alone, and you can make those claws nasty with the right feats. Or you can get the 18 Ranged Attacks, and kill everything with a built-in Flyby Attack.

Sample Totemist Build
(click to show/hide)

Totemist's Soulmelds:

I've listed all of the melds from the MoI below. Any of them labeled with a (Totem Bonus) offer extra Natural Attacks, all of which stack. The color of the Meld determines the effectivness of it's base abilities, while the color of the (Totem Bonus) tells you if the natural attacks are worth binding to your Totem.
(click to show/hide)

Which melds are the best? See the below portion of the handbook for an explanation of why each meld and bind got the rating it did.


Prestige Classes and Multiclassing

Unlike the Incarnate, the Totemist is very multiclass-friendly (well, sort of). These are a few of the better options.


Soulcaster/manifester
(click to show/hide)

Sapphire Heirarch
(click to show/hide)

Totem Rager
(click to show/hide)


Thayan GladiatorChampions of Ruin
(click to show/hide)
Concerned about how moderation works here? Please PM this account.

Offline Sinfire Titan

  • Hustler 3
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1442
  • You have one round to give a rat's ass.
  • Respect: +28
    • View Profile
Re: The Totemist Handbook
« Reply #3: November 08, 2011, 12:57:31 PM »
Feats and Magic Items

Continuing onward, we arrive at the last things you need for a build: Feats and magic items.

This is a fairly straightforward section.


Magic of Incarnuma
(click to show/hide)


Other

(click to show/hide)

Special Note: Breath Weapons and You
(click to show/hide)

Magic Items

Dungeon Master's Guide
(click to show/hide)



Soulmelds and their Ratings

I'm skipping some of the magic items to make space for this section. It is absolutely vital that you know which soulmelds are worth binding and shaping, and why.
(click to show/hide)
Concerned about how moderation works here? Please PM this account.

Offline Sinfire Titan

  • Hustler 3
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1442
  • You have one round to give a rat's ass.
  • Respect: +28
    • View Profile
Re: The Totemist Handbook
« Reply #4: April 09, 2017, 11:49:37 PM »
Stealth and You (Totemist Stealth Notes)

As far as stealth goes, the best options out there are either 1) Play an Illusionist and pray your DM never uses True Seeing or 2) Play a skill monkey class and pray you never roll badly. The Totemist presents a third option: Buff the everlasting crap out of your stealth abilities and then ignore the die rolls entirely by turning Ethereal (heh). But there's also some extra options, and Sneak Attack loves having multiple attacks. So here's a quick overview of how to be super sneaky in a way even spellcasters would respect.

Classes: Obviously you want to be a Totemist for most of your career, but you can also just dip Totemist 2-4 if you are planning a scout-focused character (you just lose out on Chakra Binds unless you spend feats late-game). It is important to not that you don't get Hide/Move Silently at all without multiclassing or spending feats, so here are some options.

Rogue: Rather meh, as you can also choose Psionic Rogue (or even Lurk) to get the skills (never go Lurk BTW; Psionic Rogue is strictly better). The is pretty much the best option if the DM disallows Psionic Rogue and ToB. Additionally, it is worth noting that this is pretty much your only option for bypassing Undead/Construct immunity as this is the only class that gets the Penetrating Strike class feature in Dungeonscape.

Ninja: Sudden Strike is so much worse than Sneak Attack, but it is still tenable. The invisibility is nice, but you have better options there (see Soulmelds). the AC bonus is cool, but only really useful if you want to save your Belt slot.

Lurk/Psionic Rogue: Go for the latter if at all possible. Psionic Sneak Attack only functions while you are Psionically focused, so you don't want it over the regular thing.

Swordsage: A 4-level dip in this class, at the right time, can give you the Assassin's Stance and a nice bonus to AC. The maneuvers can be otherwise spent on buffing your survivability through Diamond Mind, or giving you mobility through Desert Wind, or gaining some extra attacks with Tiger Claw. Always put your free Weapon Focus into Tiger Claw, as you will be shaping the Girallon Arms with this route.

Umbral Disciple: Once you meet the qualifications this class can be a decent 3-level dip, but I recommend just sticking to Totemist levels for this. The HiPS it provides can be replicated with a Soulmeld outside of enemies with True Seeing.

Races: See above. Most of your racial choices won't change; the Kobold, Skarn, and Rilkan are your best bets here. Warforged aren't as practical, but the sheer size of your Hide/Move Silently bonus is going to negate the penalties (even with Adamantine Body).

Items: A big, obvious problem you're going to run into is the cost of an Amulet of Natural Weaponry. The solution is simple: Don't go +10 on it. A +4 Amulet (Vicious, Merciful, Deadly Precision [hopefully your DM allows the CAdv version]) provides a significant damage bonus without eating 90% of your WBL. Most of your items should be focused on buffing your stats, but look into ones that give you extra natural attacks (grafts or the Fanged Mask, for example).

Bracers of the Hunter (SoX): You may need to burn an extra 5K to give this item the ability to bypass your Totem Chakra if you are using the Girallon Arms, but it's an extra +1d6 Sneak Attack.

Rogue's Vest (MIC): Another +1d6, but you usually won't need to worry about the Chakra slot.

Mantle of the Predator (MIC): Another +1d6, but not explicitly Sneak Attack. You may need the Chakra slot benefit.

Feats: Craven goes without saying. It is imperative to get that. Indigo Strike is... less so. Otherwise just look to the standard Totemist options, and occasionally the Rogue stuff.

Overall Build: Totemist 18/Swordsage 2 gets you Sneak Attack through Assassin's Stance without giving up, Totemist 17/(Psionic) Rogue 3 gives you Sneak Attack+Penetrating Strike, and that's pretty much it. You can end up with a psuedo-Sneak Attack of +9d6 and a significant number of attacks/round, easily capable of annihilating enemies that you can Sneak Attack. You can also turn Merciful off if it gets to be a hindrance.

Soulmelds: A note that the Manticore Belt's ranged attack requires a DM's ruling as to if it is considered a volley attack or not. Personal experience is that most DMs will say it is, in which case you go for the Landshark Boots or Girallon Arms.

Threefold Mask of the Chimera: Inferior to the Landshark Boots or Girallon Arms on almost all accounts. The head bind gives you psuedo-pounce, but that is obtainable elsewhere.

Displacer Mantle: Honestly, if you're going for a reach option, just use the Manticore Belt. Volley or no, it is just plain more helpful to you.

Girallon Arms: All day, every day. 4 free attacks, an enhancement bonus on each, Tiger Claw favored weapon bonuses, really you just tear into things. The Landshark Boots only get the 4 attacks when you move, and prohibit additional natural weapons, so they are less effective (but still viable).

Unicorn Horn: Not quite the best Totem Bind, as there is a graft that gives you a gore attack, but in a pinch you can use this for an extra natural weapon.
Concerned about how moderation works here? Please PM this account.