Glossary (Psychic Meditation terminology you’ll need to know):
Center: If you’re familiar with Hinduism/Buddhism, you know what a center is - an area of the body associated with a certain force or concept. (These are also called chakras - but don’t confuse them with the chakras used by Incarnum, or those of certain orange-jumpsuited ninjas.) I’ve attached the WotC diagram here so that you can see them in order:
The 7 centers are named as follows: (1) Crown, (2) Third Eye, (3) Throat, (4) Heart, (5) Solar Plexus, (6) Base, and (7) Sacral.
Your centers must be each be “awakened” before they can be used (see “Awaken” below.)
Awaken: To awaken a center is to prepare it for use. Doing so requires a long period of inactivity (8 hours of meditation for each center) so try to find some adventure downtime as soon as possible after acquiring each feat to do this. While not called out in the text of the feat itself, the article’s flavor text seems to indicate that sleeping and meditation are treated separately; talk to your DM, but even if this is the case in your campaign (i.e. you cannot sleep and meditate simultaneously, basically costing you a day or more when you want to awaken your centers), it’s still worth it because you’re unlikely to have to pay this time cost often. Furthermore, there are ways to get around this limitation depending on your choice of race.
There is a limit to how many centers you can have awakened at one time. If you have reached this limit (and do not yet have access to all 7), you must “reset” an awakened center in order to replace it with a new one. Once awakened, a center stays that way forever until it is reset (see “Reset” below.)
The four feats needed to enter the Meditant PrC will enable you to awaken all 7 centers. (1+2+2+2 = 7).
Note: Awakening a center is not the same as activating it (see “Activate” below.) Awakening a center provides no special benefits apart from enabling it for activation later.
Reset: This refers to clearing a center of awakened status. Being supernatural, this is a purely mental standard action that does not provoke. When you’re too low a level to have all 7 awakened at once, resetting a previously-awakened center allows you to awaken a different one for alternate benefits. However, the Meditant PrC provides you with additional scenarios under which you may want to reset a center - these will be discussed further below.
Finally, all of your centers are involuntarily reset if you fall below 0 HP, so be sure to prevent this from happening by any means necessary; this goes treble if you’re currently getting a boost to Con from the Base center.
Activate: This is the heart of the mechanic. To activate a center means to use it (also a standard action that does not provoke, like resetting one,) gaining a buff depending on the specific center you’ve chosen. The buffs you gain, being part of the feat, are also supernatural and therefore cannot be dispelled; you can however lose them in an AMF/NPF. As mentioned earlier, you can only activate an awakened center. Doing so does not reset that center, so you don’t have to spend the time awakening it again no matter how many times you activate it in a day or over the course of your career.
The Meditation Mechanic Explained
As previously stated, a center’s benefits are triggered by activating it, and last for 1 hour. You can continue to activate the same center as long as you have enough activations remaining to do so, even before a previous activation’s duration has expired; the bonuses provided will explicitly not stack with existing activations (even if untyped), but any remaining duration will reset to an hour. This means that once you gain enough activations, you can keep a center more or less activated throughout the adventuring day, so long as you take an action to manually refresh it. However, center do experience diminishing returns; each time in a day that you activate the same center, it will cost you an extra activation to do so. (2 for the second time, 3 for the third and so on.) Spreading out your activations across multiple center lets you conserve activations. Fluff-wise this is explained by focusing on one center to the exclusion of the others being unbalancing and draining to you.
There are three ways to gain activations/day:
- The Psychic Meditation feat (1)
- The Deep Psychic Meditation feat (6 total: 2 per feat, can be taken 3x)
- The Meditant PrC (10 total: +2 every 2 levels for 10 levels.)
This gives you a grand total of 17 activations pre-epic, 7 of which come from feats alone rather than any levels in the PrC. As for what activations do, I’ll add a brief summary here by center:
Crown: Natural Armor bonus to AC
Third Eye: Temporary PP (scales with ML)
Throat: Untyped bonus to mental stats
Heart: Temp HP (scales with ML)
Solar: Morale bonus to saves; slightly larger bonus to one of them.
Base: Untyped bonus to physical stats
Sacral: Power Resistance, scales with ML
Because you gain 7 activations before even entering the class, you have access to these buffs before actually becoming a Meditant. You can choose whether to concentrate them on one or two centers for a day of adventuring, or spread them out for some hour-long buffs across a variety of areas. (You can even, if you choose, activate each of your centers for an hour per day.) Though it burns through your activations more quickly, I favor the first option; especially since you’ll have limited centers awakened anyway until you can amass all four feats. I’ll go into a bit more of the math on this in the Strategy section; for now I’ll cover the Meditant class itself.