For one center, here are the number of activations you need for specific durations:
- 1 hour: 1 activation
- 2 hours: 3 activations (1+2)
- 3 hours: 6 activations (1+2+3)
- 4 hours: 10 activations (1+2+3+4)
- 5 hours: 15 activations (1+2+3+4+5), but you get Inner Harmony here (at which point, multiply each of these durations by 4.)
The maximum time you can keep a single center active pre-epic therefore is 4 hours before Inner Harmony, and 20 hours once you get it. However, you have to manually refresh every 4 hours and most races need to sleep for 8, so for practical purposes your maximum usage of one center with Inner Harmony will be 10 activations (16 hours, or a whole day of adventuring.) This leaves you with 5 activations; you can invest 3 of these to Deep Intensify the center you’re keeping active for 16 hours (leaving you with two that you can divert to two other centers), or you can invest 2 of these to merely Intensify that center and activate another center twice.
Alternatively, you can presume that you won’t spend 16 hours of every day in combat, and instead go with a lesser amount of activation time. Say, 12 hours (6 activations), which will let you keep two centers active for that time concurrently (12 total) and have 5 left over for priming.
- Activating a center is a purely mental action. This means you can have your Schism do it while your primary mind manifests powers, and not worry about Schism’s ML-reduction.
- After you get Inner Harmony, you can activate your centers as a Swift action. As stated above however, this is optional - and since it’s easier to get additional standard actions than additional swift actions (Twinned Synchronicity, Schism etc.) sometimes it’s more worthwhile to save your swift for manifesting and activate as a standard instead.
Here are some sample configurations/builds that I can recommend. Don’t take these as gospel however - there are a ton of combinations and the true fun of the class is in experimenting. Also, depending on how much combat you have in your campaign and how predictable it is, you may need less or more coverage of certain centers.
Remember that you aren’t locked in to any of these; use one for awhile then try another until you find the one that works best for you. Mix things up!
Appendix: What about the Soulknife?
-Max PP: This one focuses on squeezing as much juice out of Third Eye as possible; you don’t care about stat boosts, you care about ammunition. This build typically works best with no-save powers (e.g. those from seers, egoists and psywars.) Duration is unimportant to you, because you can burn through your PP as quickly as you get them; either through long-term buffs, using them to refill your own (or someone else’s) reserve, long-distance travel, action abuse, storing them in cognizance crystals, healing up the party etc. Or you can just fire it off at the start of combat (using extra actions, e.g. Quickened Synchronicity/Temporal Acceleration/etc. if necessary), burn through the free PP then and wait for the next fight.
- 17 activations total
- Intense Third Eye: 2 activations (1.25/ML per use, i.e. +25 PP per use at ML 20).
- 5 uses: 15 activations (1+2+3+4+5)
- Total bonus PP: 125 (equivalent to 7 extra 9th-level slots.)
You want to boost your ML as high as possible with this setup - every point gives you proportionately more PP. For instance, boosting your ML to 30 gets you 185 PP total, an increase of 60 PP for +10 ML. (equivalent to 6 more 9th-level slots.) Unlike your normal bonus PP for high ML+ability score, temporary boosts work too (activate the boosts, then your Third Eye.)
What’s really nice about this build is that it works nearly as well before you get Inner Harmony, or even Intense Meditation. Because it’s not dependent on keeping your buffs on throughout the day or from one combat to the next, you can save each individual activation until a fight starts, or fire off any leftover ones at night for some healing, quintessence or other long-duration benefit.
-Max DC: This setup tries to achieve maximum coverage of your mental stat boosts. +6 to all your mental stats every day is equivalent to manifesting Reality Revision on yourself 18 times (and stacks with same, or anything else.) This works best for primary manifesters, especially those using powers that require a save (e.g. telepaths and kineticists).
-17 activations total
- Deep Intense Throat (no Deep Throat jokes please...): 3 activations (+6 untyped to all mental stats)
- 4 uses: 10 activations (1+2+3+4) = 16 hours of coverage
- 4 activations left over - you can use these to get 2 uses/hours out of another center (Third Eye is great here for 40 PP @ 20), and 1 hour out of one more; or DIM a center and then get 1 hour out of it. (e.g. Heart for an hour of Fast Healing 2.)
Alternatively, reduce your coverage while gaining flexibility:
- DIM Throat: 3 activations (+6 untyped)
- 3 uses: 6 activations (1+2+3) = 12 hours of coverage
- 8 activations are left over. You can IM another center (2 activations) and activate for the same length of time (12 hours = 6 activations, 1+2+3). For example, Third Eye. This combo would get you +6 to all mental stats and up to 75 bonus PP at ML 20 (25x3.) Or do Base, for +4 to all physical stats untyped, for 12 hours.
Physical builds: These are useful for melee-focused builds with manifester levels. See the section below for granting access to Soulknives.
- If they already have good stat rolls, gishes can make ample use of the max PP build. a Psywar or War Mind for instance becomes much scarier with double (or more) the PP.
- Alternatively, you can go for the stat boosts by adapting the 2nd max DC build; DIM Base instead of Throat for 12 hours, getting +6 untyped to Str, Dex and Con. then put the rest into PP, mental stats, or even the natural armor, saving throw or Power Resistance bonuses.
Soulknife is a special case. A certain reading of the rules gives them a manifester level; if allowed, this would then make them eligible for Meditant. For the rationale behind this, open the spoiler:
Alternatively, you can just grab a level of War Mind and Practiced Manifester - this will give you ML 5 with no rules issues.
For Soulknives that are ruled to have ML and take Hidden Talent, Meditant and the Third Eye center become quite useful to shore up their nearly-nonexistent PP reserve. Crown’s Natural Armor helps their survivability early on, Base helps their physical power and Heart helps boost their hit points. Finally, if you go with a VoP Soulknife, you will still benefit from the Crown center as the NA bonuses provided by VoP are extremely small and easily overwritten by even a basic Crown activation.
That's... about it. To wrap up, Meditant is a great option, particularly for those classes that get bonus feats but little else (Psions and Psywars.) Let's for instance compare a Psywar 10/Meditant 10 to a Psywar 20:
- The Psywar trades in two of his bonus feats to qualify for Meditant, then misses out on 3 feats while inside, for a total of 5. You thus give up 5 feats vs going straight Psywar. You also lose some HP and a point of BAB unless using fractionals.
In exchange you get:
- Never have to eat again
- up to 125 bonus PP over 10 levels, can be traded for various untyped, undispellable buffs to physical stats or fast healing
- Able to become Ethereal 3/day for as long as you want
- Can reflect single-target mind-affecting attacks back at their originator
The PP alone make it worthwhile to me; sinking those same 5 feats into Psionic Talent for instance would only get you 20 PP (2+3+4+5+6), waaaay less than Meditant gets you. The option to get huge stat buffs instead, not to mention become nigh-invulnerable on a whim is icing on the cake.
So next time you're stuck for a psionic PrC, why not give Meditant a try?