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    Default [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife


    Being an optimization guide to the Pathfinder iteration of the Soulknife. Links, contributions, suggestions, and critiques are of course welcome.

    Contents
    Under construction.

    Links

    Saph's 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook - Required reading!
    The Pathfinder Soulknife - at the PFSRD.
    For informational/completeness purposes: the D&D (3.5) Soulknife and Sydonis' 3.5 Soulknife Handbook from Gleemax.
    See also the psionic links in my signature.

    Ratings

    Saph's rating system - used with permission. (Slightly modified as I enjoy the color purple )

    Red: Awful.
    Orange: Situational.
    Black: Okay.
    Blue: Good.
    Purple: Excellent.
    Last edited by Psyren; 2013-06-30 at 12:17 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    First, please don't start threads with ideas you don't support just to see what reactions you get. That's almost the definition of trolling.

    Second, the whole "blue text" thing is not a forum rule or even a recommended procedure. If someone wants to do it in their own posts, fine, but everyone should stop telling people that they "need to" or "should have" posted in blue just because they're being sarcastic/ironic/whatever.

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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife



    Why The 3.5 Soulknife Was So Bad

    Credit for this subsection goes to Sydonis, which I shall quote in its entirety.

    Spoiler
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    The main concept behind the Soulknife is that it can create and magically imbue his own weapons. However, the weapons that the soulknife can manifest are supbar to weapons that other characters of the same level will have. As well, the enchantments that a Soulknife may imbue are far beyond subpar. While any other character could essentially gain a +10 weapon by level 15 at the earliest, a soulknife only gains a +9 weapon by level 20.

    The class itself was created to be a combat-oriented class with good maneuverability, but the core mechanics of the class do not agree with this. The class has moderate BAB, low fortitude saves, and can only wear light armor, so he doesn't serve as a very good tank. The soulknife has a high amount of hit points, which would allow him to serve as a solid "protector" type of class, had it the proper proficiencies with heavier armor types and shields.

    This said, the class fulfills more of a striker/scout role in the party, like the rogue. This is reflected in the good reflex saves, great battlefield maneuverability, and Psychic Strike. Unlike a rogue however, who's Sneak Attack can be used automatically against anyone vulnerable to precision damage if they are caught flat-footed or flanked, the Soulknife must constantly sacrifice move actions to gain this additional damage. This is difficult on a class needing as many actions as possible just to keep its head above water. As well, a rogue has a great deal of skills and skill points, which a Soulknife is severely lacking.

    Finally, the Soulknife being psionic is merely a fluff aspect. Nothing else. I know you psionics-lovers cringe at reading this, but it's true. Every psionic class, even the fighter-type, has a power point progression and can manifest powers. The only thing that makes a Soulknife psionic is Wild Talent, which is, in my opinion, is not enough to make a class psionic. The only things that this ability grants the soulknife is access to psionic feats, and the ability to manifest his psi-blade. Which is just another thing the Mind Blade needs, another restriction.

    The highly restrictive nature of the Soulknife's level advancement creates a very powerful "straightjacket" effect, which punishes players if they want to multiclass into non-soulknife prestige classes or other base classes. However, in order to build the soulknife into any sort of great class, it requires multiclassing for certain builds and to enhance its general performance.



    Takeaways from the above breakdown:

    - The Soulknife was intended for melee, but not very good at it.
    - The main benefit of their class is easily replicated by WBL, and at a faster rate besides.
    - Their bonus damage mechanic forces them to do the very thing they were designed NOT to do, i.e. stand around in melee.
    - Their class features are a catch-22 - the blade bonuses punish multiclassing, but the weakness of everything else punishes staying in-class.
    - They were "psionic" in name only. (Literally; the book says "this is a psionic class" because otherwise you'd have no way to tell, other than the charity feat that makes any class psionic.)

    DSP did a great deal to address these issues, enough so that I can confidently recommend the new Soulknife to anyone. We'll be delving deeper to find out why, but first an overview on the new Soulknife itself.

    Overview
    The Soulknife enjoys an infamy almost identical to that of the monk; being simultaneously one of the most beloved and most maligned base classes in WotC history. What was once a wonderful concept marred by horrible execution has been uplifted by the psionics masterminds at Dreamscarred Press. On top of the excellent base they provided in Psionics Unleashed, the class has received a number of new goodies in the form of additional archetypes and class features in psionics expanded, that push it even further ahead.

    The Soulknife's Role
    The base Soulknife's role, as it was in 3.5, is the skirmisher - a melee damage platform with decent mobility/positioning. By receiving an autoscaling weapon with some unique abilities, this allows them to focus their WBL on defense, or to shine in low-wealth/fixed-loot campaigns. Their adaptability allows them to overcome a variety of obstacles - including diverse damage reduction, incorporeality, energy resistance, precision-damage resistance, ranged enemies, foes that sunder/disarm etc.

    Having said that, combat is still really the only thing they can do well, perhaps with a smattering of stealth or scouting ability. They don't have the skills necessary to be a true skillmonkey (though thanks to PF they aren’t awful at it either), nor do they excel at a party face role. Also, while they can broaden their loadout with psionic feats, the base soulknife doesn't get the utility that powers provide. I would say the new Soulknife is T4: "Capable of doing one thing quite well, but often useless when encounters require other areas of expertise." A step up from their 3.5 counterparts perhaps, but still not suitable for high-power campaigns. There are however additional archetypes found in Psionics Expanded that give them a little more punch - we’ll talk about those, and any subsequent changes in tier, in the Archetypes/PrC section.

    The base soulknife does, however, serve one more function I consider vital - they are a way to "wet your DM's feet" in psionics. They get power points, which they can put to use depending on your race, archetype, feats or even a multiclass dip. They get a psionic focus. They can qualify for various psionic feats and even some psionic PrCs. They can put psionic enchantments on their blade. If your group is leery about psionics, the Soulknife is an excellent way to warm them up to the concept without them having to deal with a full-blown manifesting class out of the gate. Play the Soulknife in one campaign, then graduate to a Psywar, Psion or Psychic Rogue/Cryptic in a subsequent game. For this reason, being the weakest psionic base class can actually be a point in their favor. And unlike the D&D Soulknife, you are a still strong enough to contribute to most campaigns without feeling like dead weight.
    Last edited by Psyren; 2013-06-27 at 09:04 PM.
    Sandharrow by Chris the Pontifex
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    First, please don't start threads with ideas you don't support just to see what reactions you get. That's almost the definition of trolling.

    Second, the whole "blue text" thing is not a forum rule or even a recommended procedure. If someone wants to do it in their own posts, fine, but everyone should stop telling people that they "need to" or "should have" posted in blue just because they're being sarcastic/ironic/whatever.

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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife



    Class Features and Changes

    Here I will focus not only on the features of the new Soulknife, but I will highlight any differences from the 3.5 one. As the vast majority of these changes are upgrades, I'll be using the color blue.

    Chassis

    Spoiler
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    • Full BAB (Finally!)
    • Medium Armor Proficiency
    • Skills: Acrobatics (which means Balance), Autohypnosis, Climb, Craft, Intimidate, Knowledge (Psionics), Perception (which means Search), Profession, Stealth, and Swim. Still 4+Int.
    • Bonus Feat: You now have a choice; instead of just Weapon Focus (Mind Blade), you can also grab Power Attack or Two-Weapon Fighting instead, to start customizing your soulknife from day one.
    • Wild Talent: This feat serves the same purpose it did in 3.5, i.e. making Soulknives count as psionic. If you become or already are psionic through some other means (e.g. race, or multiclassing), this automatically converts to Psionic Talent instead.
    • Weapon Proficiencies: Simple + their Mind Blades, as before.
    • Shield Proficiency (no tower shields.)



    The Mind Blade

    Every mind blade has two mechanical parameters: Shape and Type.

    Shape

    Spoiler
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    Shapes can be chosen at 1st-level (instead of 5th as with the 3.5 Soulknife.)

    Assuming a Medium Soulknife:

    - Light (1d6) <-- you can form two of these to dual-wield from the get-go.
    - 1-handed (1d8)
    - 2-handed (2d6)

    Adjust damage accordingly for different sizes, including temporary changes. The damage now also auto-adjusts for Powerful Build and similar abilities.


    Type

    Spoiler
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    Your mind blade doesn't actually have to be a blade at all. This means you are no longer restricted to slashing or piercing.

    - Slashing
    - Piercing
    - Bludgeoning

    Regardless of form, Mind Blades have base stats of: hardness 10, 10 HP, and crit on 19-20/x2.

    So now you can form a Psychic Hammer, or a pair of Mindspikes, or whatever else your character can conceive of. The visual shape of your mind blade is purely fluff based and is up to the character; however, the shape must reflect the damage type in some way (e.g. a "slashing" mind blade would have a sharp edge on it, a "bludgeoning" one would look blunter or thicker at the business end, and a “slashing+piercing” one would be swordlike with sharp edges and a sharp point etc.) This gives an observer a chance at predicting what type of damage your mindweapon will do.

    Once these parameters are chosen, your blade will come out this way every time you form it, until you reconfigure it later. This means you no longer have to start with the basic mind blade and reshape it every single time. Soulknives in 3.5 would typically waste the first round of combat doing this, even after they got Free Draw.

    When you do need to reshape it, you only need a full-round action, easy to do between combats.



    Enhancements

    The Mind Blade's main benefit is that it is a cost-free, scaling, mutable magic weapon keyed to your character’s needs. You don't care if it gets disjoined, sundered, disarmed etc, as you are always free to simply make another; you are also free to take combat feats that benefit a particular weapon since you’ll generally have no reason to want a different one. I'll discuss the enhancements themselves in a later post, but for now I'll cover the change to the enhancement system itself.

    Spoiler
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    In 3.5, the Soulknife had two enhancement tracks: One was the weapon's basic enhancement bonus (+1 to +5), and one was the enhancement "pool" that could be allocated to various special abilities like Ghost Touch, Keen, or Psychokinetic Burst. For instance, a level 8 Soulknife in D&D had a +2 enhancement bonus and a +1 enhancement pool - he could thus create a +2 Merciful Mind Blade.

    In Pathfinder, the two tracks have been combined to remove the confusion surrounding the word "enhancement." Now when you refer to a Mind Blade's enhancement bonus, you refer both to its flat bonus to attack/damage, and its pool to allocate to additional effects.

    This doesn't mean you can have a +5 Weapon at level 11, however. Soulknives have a limit on how much of the bonus they get can be allocated to sheer enhancement; any amount over that limit must be allocated to secondary magical effects, or else wasted. Going back to the level 11 Soulknife example - he has a total enhancement of+5, but a maximum enhancement bonus of +3. A Soulknife 11 can therefore have a +3 Flaming Burst mind blade, but not a +5 mind blade or a +4 Ghost Touch mind blade (both of these fail due to having more than +3 in the enhancement bonus side.).

    The important qualities to note about this ability are as follows:

    - The mind blade enhancement still functions as it did in 3.5: the only difference is that the DM only has to track the total enhancement now, which should hopefully lessen confusion.
    - Starting at level 3, and every 3 levels after that, the PF Soulknife's enhancement cap is increased by one.
    - Your blade must have a minimum of +1 as a flat enhancement before you can assign any abilities to it, just as if you were crafting a magic weapon.
    - The enhancement cap only applies to the blade's basic enhancement bonus, not to blade abilities. The PF Soulknife can, for instance, have a +1 Brilliant Energy mind blade (a +4 ability) at level 11. This results in a much more mutable blade than that of the 3.5 Soulknife, who would have to wait until 18 for a Brilliant Energy weapon, when they have a +4 mind blade to put it on. The player thus has much more control over what their blades can actually do in Pathfinder, and can access certain helpful enhancements much more quickly.
    - The PF Soulknife's enhancement track is one level faster than the regular one's. Referring again to the above example, a 3.5 Soulknife would have to wait until level 12 to get a +3 Flaming Burst mind blade.
    - In Pathfinder, higher enhancement bonuses allow you to mimic special materials for the purposes of overcoming damage reduction. This means that a PF Soulknife [color=”Blue]can overcome silver, cold iron and adamantine DR[/color] without needing special feats to do so.
    - Rearranging enhancements is harder than changing your blade's shape and type. You must rest or concentrate for at least 8 hours (use the latter if your race needs less sleep or no sleep) before you can exchange the enhancements on your blade.
    - As with the 3.5 Soulknife, splitting the blade in two means each component blade has an enhancement bonus of 1 less. Using the level 11 Soulknife one more time, he can split his +5 Mind Blade in two, and each component blade will have a maximum total bonus of one less, +4. The enhancement cap of +3 still applies, however, and he would be forced to assign at least +1 from each mind blade to an appropriate ability.
    - When you split your blade, you must use the same ability or abilities on each component blade. You cannot, for instance, make one blade Anarchic and one Axiomatic.

    One last use for the enhancement bonus system - the enhancement bonus represents your increased connection with your mind blade. Mechanically, this is represented by a bonus to the will save to maintain your mind blade in a NPF/AMF equal to its current enhancement bonus. However, even if you succeed in maintaining the blade, it is downgraded to simply being masterwork quality (like any other magic weapon in an AMF.)


    Psychic Strike: The soulknife's signature bonus damage technique has gotten some nice buffs in Pathfinder.

    Spoiler
    Show
    - Charging your Psychic Strike works just like it did in 3.5 (i.e. a move action.) However, a Soulknife can also charge her mind blade as a swift action by expending psionic focus.
    - When dual-wielding, you can now charge each mind blade with a psychic strike, spending the necessary number of actions to do so, and discharge them both on the same target. If you reshape your mind blade to a single weapon while both are charged, the single weapon will only have one charge however (the other one is lost.)
    - Psychic Strike now goes off only when you want it to, not on the first eligible target you strike.
    - Psychic Strike can now be used on any creature with a mind (read: Int score) even if they are immune to mind-affecting effects, e.g. a vampire, lich or other sentient undead. It also bypasses protections like Mind Blank. The only way to be safe from Psychic Strike now is to not have an Int score at all. It still works on creatures immune to sneak attacks/criticals, as it is not precision damage.


    Other Features

    Spoiler
    Show
    Throw Mind Blade: You now get this a level earlier. The base range increment has been shortened - though this can be mitigated with the right Blade Skills.

    Quick Draw: The Soulknife Free Draw ability has been renamed but otherwise stays the same.

    Mind Blade Mastery: The capstone is a bit lackluster; you no longer have to make will saves to sustain your blade in an AMF (but sadly, it still loses its powers.) In addition, you can reconfigure the blade completely with a full-round action, including enhancements, rather than resting for 8 hours first. It’s not terrible and it’s better than what the 3.5 Soulknife got (i.e. nothing), but I’m not sure it’s a worthy reason to go to Soulknife 20 - especially when compared with the awesome capstones the other psionic classes got.


    Blade Skills

    This class feature is the meat of the new soulknife - the real reason for not PrCing out of the class. Blade skills, like Rogue Talents and Barbarian Rage Powers, allow you to customize your Soulknife to play differently than someone elses. These abilities are involved enough to deserve their own section. I’ll be covering the full list (including the new ones added in Psionics Expanded) in greater detail - with ratings - in the next section.
    Last edited by Psyren; 2013-07-21 at 10:50 PM.
    Sandharrow by Chris the Pontifex
    Ext. Sig (Handbooks/Creations)
    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    First, please don't start threads with ideas you don't support just to see what reactions you get. That's almost the definition of trolling.

    Second, the whole "blue text" thing is not a forum rule or even a recommended procedure. If someone wants to do it in their own posts, fine, but everyone should stop telling people that they "need to" or "should have" posted in blue just because they're being sarcastic/ironic/whatever.

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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife



    Bladeskills


    Overview: A Blade Skill is a special technique, shape or property a Soulknife can apply to her mind blade. They take advantage of the blade's inherently mutable nature (and its connection to its owner), letting you do things with it that are not possible with more conventional weapons. These are also where you'll find the other Soulknife abilities you may remember from 3.5, such as Knife to the Soul and Bladewind.

    Some Blade Skills form "chains," i.e. you must take a specific prerequisite Blade Skill to have access to the later version. Where applicable, I will note those as well. A base Soulknife will have 10 different Blade Skills by level 20. You can only take a Blade Skill once.

    * = has a prerequisite bladeskill.
    {F} = Must expend Psionic Focus.
    {PS} = Must expend Psychic Strike. (Note - these are all red for the Gifted Blade/Cutthroat.)
    (#) = Level required to take this skill.

    Absorbing Blade {PS} - A great ability - expend your psychic strike and you can flat out ignore any spell, power, SLA or PLA that allows SR, even area attacks. If you’ve ever wanted to cut through a fireball, or if you’ve ever been jealous of a Warblade IHS’ing a Dominate, this blade skill is for you. This is yet another reason to dual wield on a Soulknife - the more psychic strikes you have saved up, the more spells you can negate. this is a great use for one of them. Pity it won’t stop supernatural abilities - no cutting through dragonbreath for instance. I see no reason to avoid this on any Soulknife. (8th)

    Additional Configurations - This bladeskill lets you store a backup setup for your blade - handy if there is a second, more situational type of enemy you might run into on a given day, but you don’t want to spend the 8 hours switching back and forth each time. In most campaigns I think one configuration and a night’s sleep are all you need, but being able to swap elements, or keep a more situational enhancement like Merciful/Ghost Touch/Brilliant Energy in reserve for the perfect time it will be needed is handy. Having said that, I think the Fluid Form line is a better way to access this kind of versatility. (However, if you have a reduced enhancement progression - e.g. by taking Armored Blade - this is the better option.)

    Advanced Talents - see the Cutthroat archetype.

    Alter Blade - This bladeskill gives you two abilities: (1) the ability to change your mind blade's shape every time you form it, instead of it being "locked in" to your last shape and needing a full-round action to change, and (2) you get a new dual-wield option, i.e. 1H+light instead of just light+light. Generally you won’t be changing your blade’s shape in combat too much (e.g. a 2-hander soulknife is unlikely to switch to dual-wielding and vice-versa), and 1H+light hurts your chance to hit for very minor benefit, so all in all I wouldn’t consider this to be very worthwhile. Mind Daggers is usually a better choice if you want an alternate shape you can switch to quickly, and it has other benefits of its own besides.

    Bladestorm* {PS} - As Bladewind, except you throw the blades at every enemy in a 30 ft. radius without taking range increment penalties. The blade must not be in 2-hander form. No matter how many attacks you make, you only provoke an AoO as if you had made one. Requires Bladewind. This has potential but comes online a bit late for my tastes - you may be better off getting a long-reach mindblade and sticking with Bladewind.(16th)

    Bladewind{PS} - This is mostly identical to the 3.5 Soulknife ability: you split your mind blade up into fragments, allowing you to attack all enemies in reach with one full attack. An added ability allows you to expend a psychic strike charge to reroll one of the attacks if it misses.You also get access to this a level earlier than the 3.5 Soulknife would. I would like this better if it didn't require you to be in the middle of a pack of enemies to be effective, but it’s at least much, much easier to pick up than Whirlwind Attack. With the right rider effects on your blade (e.g. elemental damage or Wounding), the AoE potential can be quite nice against a mass of weaker foes. Prereq for Bladestorm. (8th)

    Combat Slide - This gives you two things: (1) An immediate 5-foot step if you hit someone in melee (even if you've already moved that round - like a normal 5-foot step, this is a non-action), and (2) as an immediate action, you can take a 5-foot step if someone misses you in melee. You can never have enough 5-foot steps - more to the point, this gives you a use for your immediate action as early as level 2. A must-pick, for melee and ranged soulknives alike.

    Dazzling Blade - As a standard action, you can dazzle all enemies in 30 feet. Dazzle sucks and so does this, and it’s fort negates to boot. Pass.

    Deadly Blow - Increase your critical multiplier by 1. (to x3 in most cases.) Would be better if you could take it more than once. May be of interest to a crit-fishing build, but all others should skip. (10th)

    Deadly Shield - see the Shielded Blade archetype.

    Deceptive Blade - interesting ability; lets you form your blade while feinting, and even form your blade and charge it while feinting if you have improved feint. Also gives you Bluff as a class skill. Feinting isn’t the best combat style out there, but if you were going to feint anyway this makes you better at it. Consider this for the Cutthroat.

    Disrupting Strike - whack every enemy next to you and they take a penalty to damage rolls until your next turn. Unfortunately, this specifies “adjacent” (as opposed to “within reach,” like Bladewind) so you get no benefit from having a long mindblade with this. This does have the potential to soften dangerous blows, particularly vs. monsters with a lot of attacks, but my personal take is that you’re better off using that full-round action to withdraw so you’re not surrounded anymore, than to stay there and get wailed on. Black for Armored Blade.

    Dual Imbue - You gain a second Psychic Strike charge option; you can use one action to charge both blades simultaneously (even with the swift-action-expend-focus method); however, the strike in each blade is 1d8 lower than it would normally be. You can still charge your blades separately for the full amount if you have the time and wish to do so. If you're dual-wielding and using psychic strike this is a must; if not, skip it.

    Dueling Blade {F} - if an enemy misses you while you’re fighting defensively or using combat expertise, you can expend your focus to get a free AoO on them, with none of the penalties for either. The need to expend focus to use this hurts it a lot (i.e.you can typically only do it once), and you likely have better uses for yours. It can be handy if you’re fighting one hard-hitting foe though, as you can fight defensively as a standard, regain your focus with your move actions and get a free attack every time he misses you. Black for Armored Blade, and should stack with Trade Blows as well for another attack.

    Emulate Melee Weapon - This bladeskill is just what it sounds like; you can transform your mind blade into a specific weapon, gaining its various benefits like special abilities and damage types in exchange for the more mutable and amorphous nature of the standard mind blade. Each time you take this you can emulate another weapon. Where this bladeskill is really nice is that you always have proficiency, even if you emulate an exotic or racial weapon, so this can save you a valuable feat. If there’s an exotic weapon you’ve been dying to try out, or there’s one with just the right combination of abilities for your concept, this bladeskill is for you. This one is also handy for getting an odd weapon into any campaign, like an eastern weapon into a western campaign or vice-versa.

    Emulate Ranged Weapon - see the Soulbolt archetype.

    Enhanced Range - Double your range increment with the thrown blade. This could come in handy for a thrower build since they nerfed it on the base blade. Personally I would use Mind Daggers for ranged fights instead - or if you plan on being primarily ranged, consider using the Soulbolt/Soul Archer.

    Energized Shield* {F} - Let’s count the ways this is terrible, shall we? Requires the mediocre-at-best Mind Shield - check. Requires the corresponding elemental bladeskill to do that type of damage (instead of something simpler and more accessible, like say, your active energy type) - check. Requires an immediate action AND your psionic focus - check. Melee-only - check. Does poor damage after all that - check. To its credit, this goes off on your attacker whether or not they actually hit you, but that’s not enough to save it in my eyes. There are better uses for your immediates and focus alike.

    Evasion - see the Cutthroat archetype.

    Expand Shield* - You can turn your Mind Shield into a tower shield for one turn. This imposes a penalty on your attacks but carries the other standard tower shield benefits - high AC, providing cover, blocking AoE originating from one side of your square etc.The downsides are that you can only use this technique while fighting defensively (and the penalties stack) or while using the total defense action. You also don't get proficiency by RAW since this isn't coming from your blade. Tower Shields have nice benefits but this is not the way to get them - go with Tower Mind Shield instead, and then only if you're a Shielded Blade (who gets it for free anyway.)

    Exploding Critical {F} - This lets you expend your psionic focus after confirming a critical to get a free psychic strike. It also works if you don’t have one charged - which means you can use this even after you’ve hit a foe with your psychic strike already and zap them a second time. It’s great when it goes off but crits tend to be infrequent - unless you’re a crit-fishing build, in which case this becomes blue. (12th)

    Extended Strike - You can extend your reach by 5' for a single attack. Requires a standard action, so no full-attack, cleave, AoO etc. It does work with the Twin Strike blade skill, but that's not enough to save this one in my eyes. If you want reach, either emulate a weapon that has it, or pick up the far superior Reaching Blade instead. (12th)

    Fire Blade {F} - This lets you turn all of your mind blade’s damage into fire damage, whenever you want. Who needs Pyrokineticist? By RAW this converts bonus damage too (such as from Str, sneak attack, and even psychic strike) and you can even expend your psionic focus for an additional d10. This can be done on the fly so it’s a nice option, but consider choosing an element that is less easily resisted. (8th)

    Firestorm* {F} - If you took the “expend focus” option above when using Fire Blade, you do an extra 1d10 fire damage to the target and each enemy within 10 feet at the end of their turn if they’re still next to you. While it’s nice that this avoids allies (good use of psionic flavor), the damage doesn’t scale at all and that makes this extremely poor. It also relies on the enemy not moving - a single 5-foot step will ruin this. There are better uses for your bladeskills.

    Fluid Form {PS} - This gives you limited ability to reconfigure your mind blade enhancements as a swift action, without resting first. You can either remove one property to add that value to its enhancement bonus, or add one property and reduce your enhancement bonus. When you're done, the blade then gets a -1 enhancement penalty until you get 8 hours of rest. You can't remove a property that would take you over your EB cap with this, nor can you keep adding them until you end up under +1 (including the penalty, if it would bring you below +1.) The penalty is also cumulative, so it's unlikely you'll be able to do this more than once in most cases without resting first. until you rest. Still - the freedom to add, say, ghost touch or axiomatic to your weapon at a moment's notice for a tricky foe can be useful, or dump a costly enhancement to overcome DR.

    Fluid Form, Improved* {PS} - As above, except you can change all the properties on the blade at once, instead of one at a time. The penalty will only increment once per total reconfiguration, rather than once per ability swapped. With this, if you don’t mind your blade being 1 point behind in enhancements, you can actually start each morning with a totally blank blade and configure it based on what you expect to fight each day. Combine with Metaphysical Weapon or GMW to overcome the drawback and you can approach each fight with a lot of flexibility. Requires Fluid Form.

    Flurry of Fists - Turn your soulknife into a monk! But... why? This is useless for most soulknives (including the base one) since your enhancements and other abilities don’t work unarmed - unless you have the Deadly Fist archetype. in which case this is black.

    Flurry of Fists, Improved* - see Flurry of Fists. Once again, black for Deadly Fist. (6th)

    Flurry of Fists, Greater* - see Flurry of Fists. Once again, black for Deadly Fist. (11th)

    Focused Defense - While fighting defensively, using Combat Expertise or the Total Defense action, you get your Wis bonus to AC as long as you maintain psionic focus. This is meh for most Soulknives, except Gifted Blade, who loves it. Combos well with Trade Blows.

    Focused Offense - Wis to attack and damage? While standard Soulknives may not care too much, this is mandatory for Gifted Blade; Deadly Fist likes it too if he goes for a dip in monk, and Soulbolt is eyeing it furtively as well. This bladeskill singlehandedly enables the Wisknife.

    Full Enhancement - Your enhancement bonus isn't lowered when you split your mind blade into two items. All but required for TWF, and note that this affects the Shielded Blade as well. (Note that you technically don’t need this for Mind Daggers, so if that’s your only form of dual-wielding - or you don't plan on dual-wielding at all - feel free to skip this.)

    Furious Charge - You get +2 damage to every attack made at the end of a charge (in most cases, one.) This is lessened to +1 for off-hand attacks, but raised to +3 if you're using the 2-hander mind blade. Not too fantastic by itself, but is required for a much better ability (see below.)

    Furious Charge, Improved* {PS} - You get another main-hand attack at the end of a charge, albeit at a steep penalty (-5.) Can only be used once, even if you have multiple psychic strikes charged. If you're dual-wielding and have Twin Strike, you get an extra off-hand attack too, but that one also eats a -5 penalty. Psywars still rule the roost when it comes to Pouncing, but 1-2 extra attacks can be handy even at a penalty (especially if your blades have some nasty secondary abilities.) Requires Furious Charge. If you could get this one by itself I’d rate it purple. (8th)

    Grasping Shield - see the Shielded Blade archetype.

    Gruesome Riposte {F} - You can immediately attack an enemy who hits you in melee. Their attack lands first, so you may not be able to take advantage of this. (For instance, if they knock you out/kill you.) If this required maintaining focus rather than expending it, it would be much better, though still not great. (10th)

    Ice Blade {F} - Similar to Fire Blade, this lets you convert all your blade’s damage to a single energy type, in this case cold. This is however much better than Fire Blade because the “expend focus” effect, instead of just adding a die of damage, cuts your foe’s move speed in half until your next turn - with no save no SR. Combined with Combat Slide this can make it very hard for a target to escape you and get at your allies. Cold is also not an easily-resisted element so this is useful just for that reason. Note that this works for Soulbolts too, letting you pelt enemies with cold while keeping them at bay. Highly recommended! (8th)

    Freezing Ice* {F} - Like Firestorm, this is a follow-up to its corresponding element blade that freezes an enemy in place if they are still next to you after you’ve used the “expend focus” ability in Ice Blade. This also has no save or SR, making it great one-two punch to lock down an enemy - or two, if you have two foci. It functions by reducing their speed to zero - which means they can still attack or cast spells, but it also means this is not a paralysis effect and therefore paralysis immunity won’t save them. The enemy can simply move away from you (at half-speed of course) to keep themselves from freezing, but if they don’t you can simply keep them locked down indefinitely until one of you is dead. Though less useful for ranged soulknives due to the need to be adjacent, tanks and flankers will love it. Combine with Step Up to keep enemies from 5-footing away and you’ve got them stuck for life.

    Improved Armor - See the Armored Blade archetype.

    Improved Enhancement - Just as it sounds, your enhancement increases by 1. This can raise you above the enhancement soft cap imposed by your Soulknife level (though not above the hard cap of +5), but more importantly, this gives you additional room for abilities - remember, your ability pool is not capped, so every +1 there lets you cram more properties onto the blade. This can also help offset the penalty for using Fluid Form. Even used for nothing else, It's basically a much better version of Weapon Focus. Recommended. (12th)

    Improved Evasion - See the Cutthroat archetype.

    Improved Mind Shield - your Mind Shield’s shield bonus increases by 1. This really isn’t worth a blade skill in my opinion. Black for Shielded Blades.

    Interrupting Throw - see the Shielded Blade archetype.

    Knife to the Soul {PS} - Interestingly, the 3.5 version is actually stronger - now, you can convert no more than half of your PS dice to KtS damage per strike. In addition, despite the other psychic strike changes, being immune to mind-affecting will protect your target from this, just as in 3.5. However, this was indirectly buffed by the other Pathfinder changes - for starters, becoming immune to mind-affecting (e.g. through Mind Blank or shapeshifting) is much harder, and preparing more than one psychic strike at a time is much easier due to bladeskills like Dual Imbue and Exploding Critical. You also get it a level earlier than the 3.5 Soulknife. This is much more useful to a TWFer (who can charge two psychic strikes at a time, and thus do up to 4 points of ability damage per attack, more with certain abilties) and thus it does give a high-level soulknife additional options for dealing with certain monsters. Animals and Magical Beasts in particular will drop quickly to this (e.g. if you target their Int score), and it’s pretty dangerous for casters too since there is no save or SR. Soulbolts in particular love this as they can feeblemind casters standing at the back row. An iconic soulknife ability that actually plays pretty well now. (12th)

    Lightning Blade {F} - Like Fire Blade, only electrical. This one’s “focus-burst” applies a penalty to attack and damage to the target that increases slightly if they’re wearing metal armor. This is slightly better than Fire Blade - electricity is a good element - but the effect is weak, so stick with Ice Blade or Thunder Blade if you want one of these at all.

    Lightning Arc {F} - Like Firestorm, this applies a rider effect to the “focus burst” of its corresponding elemental blade if the target is still next to you at the end of their turn. In this case, lightning arcs out of them at a nearby enemy for 3d6 and they are dazzled. Dazzle sucks (a lot) and the lightning arc, on top of being weak, is Reflex half. Skip this and don’t look back.

    Mark of the Challenger - As a standard action, you can melee attack a target and make it take a minor penalty against other targets until your next turn. The idea of course is to make it focus on you. This is terrible since keeping the mark up prevents you from full-attacking, it’s difficult to mark multiple enemies, and the penalty itself is pretty weak. There are much better abilities (like Freezing Ice, Reaching Blade and Combat Slide) if you want to “tank.”

    Mental Power - See the Gifted Blade archetype.

    Mind Blade Finesse - You can finesse with the Mind Blade regardless of form. This is aimed at Dexknives, but usually they don’t care since they aren’t shaping a 2-handed form anyway. Where this shines is with Emulate Melee Weapon, allowing you to finesse with weapons that are normally un-finessable. The mental image of finessing with a Battle Ladder or Scythe is worth it by itself, and Cutthroats would no doubt enjoy finessing with a Mind Garotte. Strengthknives and Wisknives can skip this.

    Mind Daggers - You get an extra shape for your mind blade - a pair of "daggers." that do 1d4 each. I put "daggers" in quotes because you can still choose slashing, piercing or bludgeoning for these. (Mind Claws? Mind Knuckles?) The daggers get a 30ft. range increment, further even than the light blades form, and you can also switch between your normal blade and the dagger-shapes at any time (free action), even in the middle of a full attack, and back again, without limit. Using this shape lets you form as many daggers in a round as you want. The kicker is that this shape carries the full enhancement of your normal blade - an exception to the rule that forming multiple items lowers the blade’s enhancement bonus. This shape is obviously meant to be thrown, what with the buffed increment, and best of all the ability to create multiples even during an attack routine means you get iteratives - effectively getting you access to Multiple Throw very early. It isn't as easy to switch between these and the 2H form, so these are definitely intended for a Dexknife.

    Mind Shield -You get a +2 shield bonus to AC as long as you have a hand free. This is useless for anyone not using the 1H shape, and it’s not great even then since the “shield” carries no bonuses, can’t be improved beyond the other mind shield bladeskills and can’t be used with any of the sword-and-board feats. Your hand is still technically free though, so this is a way to get a shield bonus (albeit a small one) onto an einhander build. If you want to sword and board that badly, go with Shielded Blade, who gets a better version of this for free. Don’t take this if you plan on skipping (or don’t see yourself getting to) Tower Mind Shield.

    Multiple Throw - as the regular Soulknife ability (but you can get it 3 levels earlier.) Note that the way this is worded means you get more throws if you're dual-wielding (since you also get more attacks.) Between Mind Daggers and Soulbolt I see no reason to get this. (14th)

    Powerful Strikes - Increase your Psychic Strike (all of them, if you can charge more than one) by 1d8. This can offset the damage nerf for utilizing Dual Imbue. This is a must if you plan on Psychic striking at all. Combos very well with Knife to the Soul.

    Ranged Shield Block - see the Shielded Blade archetype.

    Reaching Blade {F} - You can extend your reach by 5 feet until your next turn (i.e. will work for all your attacks and AoOs.) You can even still attack adjacent enemies too, and it will stack with the reach of any weapons you are emulating. Finally, it works with dual-wielding. Why would anyone take Extended Strike over this? If only it didn't require expending focus it would be exceptional - as it is, it’s very good.(8th)

    Reaper's Blade - This is basically Mind Cleave from CPsi; reducing an enemy to 0 or less with a melee attack automatically recharges your Psychic Strike. Doing this with an already-charged blade Empowers it, causing your next Psychic Strike to deal 1.5x damage. Very nice. (Interestingly, it doesn't specify that your target can't be mindless, so you could charge your Psychic Strike with this using a normally illegal target, like a skeleton.) (10th)

    Reflective Blade* {PS} - As an immediate action, you can reflect a spell or power that requires a touch attack back at the caster. This gives you a way to deal with some spells that your Absorbing Blade can’t handle, like orbs or shards, that bypass SR. However, the level of spell/power you can return is capped at your Psychic Strike dice (e.g. 5th-level, 6th with Powerful Strikes.) This works particularly well with powers since their level doesn’t change no matter how high they are augmented, and many dangerous spells are found at 6th-level and below as well. This is a nasty trick to have in your arsenal, though slightly less useful than Abosrbing Blade due to the level it comes in at and the cap limitation. Still, between the two of these and you can become quite the mageslayer. (14th)

    Rending Blades - This sprouts hooks from your blade that do two things: (1) +1d6 bleed damage on a critical, and (b) competence bonus on Climb checks equal to the blade's enhancement. Not worth it at all.

    Rogue Talent - see the Cutthroat archetype.

    Shield Block - see the Shielded Blade archetype.

    Thunder Blade - This elemental blade has a very hard-to-resist element (sonic), and a truly great “focus-burst” effect (stagger.) The stagger effect is unfortunately Fort negates, though the DC scales fairly well (10+BAB, so you can end up forcing a DC 30 fort save at maximum.) Stagger is great against mages since they have to choose between casting or moving away from you, and they lose the ability to 5-foot-step. Not as good as Ice Blade in my opinion but this is a good alternative if you expect cold resistance in your campaign. I like it, but it’s not quite blue due to your damage being halved for using it and being susceptible to hardness.

    Resounding Thunder - Adds some sonic damage to the “focus burst” technique on Thunder Blade, if the opponent doesn’t move away. Like Firestorm and Lightning Arc before it, the damage is negligible and not worth a bladeskill.

    Toppling Strike* - If your mind blade has Trip, this gives you a special attack that lets you (a) make a single attack and deal damage normally, and (b) attempt a free trip attack that does not provoke an AoO if (a) hits. Requires Weapon Special (Trip). Useful for tripping builds, or if you want to try your hand at tripping before getting Improved Trip (since this negates the AoO.) This also allows you to damage an enemy while tripping them, so you can at least do some damage even if the trip fails.

    Toppling Strike, Improved* - as above, except if you successfully Topple your foe, you can make a trip attempt against an adjacent foe, then another if that one succeeds etc. This is basically Trip-Cleave. Combine with Reaching Blade and/or Ice Blade for a nice lockdown build. If you like to trip (particularly if you're big or have Powerful Build) this is venice. If you already have the other two in the chain, you may as well get this one too.

    Tower Mind Shield* - this is the much better version of Expand Shield - letting you convert your Mind Shield into a Tower Shield as a move action, and best of all leave it that way as long as you want. This form carries all the benefits of a real tower shield, including the ability to block attacks from one edge of your square. So why did I rate it poorly? Because it still doesn’t grant you proficiency. Leave this one to the Shielded Blade (who gets it for free anyway.)

    Trade Blows - While performing a Total Defense action, you can make free attacks (at -4) against any enemy that attacks you, whether they hit or not. This is one of the few ways to attack while using Total Defense. You get one attack per enemy who takes a swing at you this way. This is great for a tank/lockdown build since you can just stand in the middle of a bunch of enemies and keep tripping them over and over if they attack you. I definitely prefer this to Gruesome Riposte. Note that this should also stack with Dueling Blade. (10th)

    Trapfinder - See the Cutthroat archetype.

    Twin Strike: - Whenever you make single, standard-action attack while dual-wielding, you can attack with both blades simultaneously instead. This includes AoOs, but not other special attacks. This works with a couple of the other Blade Skills (see above.) Dual-wielders may want this early on, since it lets you unload both psychic strikes at once and recharge them with your move action to repeat.

    Two-Handed Throw - This lets you throw your mind-blade while in 2-hander form - but the range increment is only 10 feet, hardly worth it. Just get reach instead. Tossing a glowing greatsword has to be worth some style points at least. Anyway, Strengthknives don’t really care about throwing and Dexknives don’t use the 2-hander, so this doesn’t have much to offer anyone.

    Weapon Special - You can assign one of the following specials to your mind blade when you shape it: brace, trip or disarm. This is the only blade skill that can be taken more than once (so taking it 3 times gets you access to all three at once.) Combine with Reaching Blade and congratulations, you're a Spiked Chain tripper again, Pathfinder style. Trip is the main benefit of this but the other two aren’t bad as well.

    Whiplash - see the Shielded Blade archetype.

    Wing Clip - A special attack that locks an enemy in place for a number of rounds = 1+Str mod. Fort negates; the save DC is 10 + your BAB. This attack deals no damage. Interestingly, the effect is neither a stun nor paralysis, so it should be effective against enemies that can resist those conditions. You’re better off tripping or using Freezing Ice in my opinion, but this at least works against enemies that are immune to cold and tripping, and (if you can land it successfully) lasts multiple rounds without further input by you. Blue for Strengthknives.
    Last edited by Psyren; 2013-07-06 at 12:15 PM.
    Sandharrow by Chris the Pontifex
    Ext. Sig (Handbooks/Creations)
    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    First, please don't start threads with ideas you don't support just to see what reactions you get. That's almost the definition of trolling.

    Second, the whole "blue text" thing is not a forum rule or even a recommended procedure. If someone wants to do it in their own posts, fine, but everyone should stop telling people that they "need to" or "should have" posted in blue just because they're being sarcastic/ironic/whatever.

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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife


    Soulknife Archetypes

    With the release of Psionics Expanded, the Soulknife has all kinds of new toys to play with - most notably archetypes, which let you remix your soulknife to fit a variety of concepts that the original could only attempt poorly, if at all. While the base Soulknife is generally aimed at being a mobile skirmisher with a smattering of bonus damage and other techniques, the archetypes open up all kinds of conceptual space for your characters. Whether you want a soulknife that focuses on ranged combat, or one that creates shields or armor (or both) in addition to a blade, or if you want a soulknife that takes lessons from rogues, monks or psywars. archetypes are the way to open these options up for you.

    Before I begin, I'll borrow a leaf from another of my favorite handbooks: Cieryn's Archetype Combos. All of the Soulknife archetypes can be combined with at least one other, and the right mix can help you refine a desired concept even further. Here is Cieryn's format:

    Quote Originally Posted by Cieyrin View Post
    There are two special things to note:
    • Italics means the class feature is modified instead of replaced, though it still means it can't be replaced or modified a second time.
    • Striked Out Archetypes mean that, while possible, it's not recommended to combine these archetypes, due to trading class features that make combining them fairly useless, like Qinggong Martial Artists or Master Broodmasters.
    With that, here are the Soulknife Archetype Combinations:

    Spoiler
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    Archetypes that don't Combine with others: None

    Armored Blade
    Features Replaced: Form Mind Blade, Shape Mind Blade, Enhanced Mind Blade (all)
    Valid Archetypes to Combine with: Cutthroat, Gifted Blade, Shielded Blade

    Cutthroat
    Features Replaced: Weapon/Armor Proficiency, Bonus Feat, Psychic Strike
    Valid Archetypes to Combine with: Armored Blade

    Deadly Fist
    Features Replaced: Bonus Feat, Form Mind Blade, Shape Mind Blade, Throw Mind Blade, Quick Draw
    Valid Archetypes to Combine with: Gifted Blade

    Gifted Blade
    Features Replaced: Psychic Strike
    Valid Archetypes to Combine with: Armored Blade, Deadly Fist, Nimble Blade, Shielded Blade, Soulbolt

    Nimble Blade
    Features Replaced: Weapon/Armor Proficiency, Bonus Feat, Bladeskills (2nd, 10th), Enhanced Mind Blade (7th)
    Valid Archetypes to Combine with: Gifted Blade

    Shielded Blade
    Features Replaced: Bonus Feat, Bladeskill (2nd)
    Valid Archetypes to Combine with: Armored Blade, Gifted Blade

    Soulbolt
    Features Replaced: Bonus Feat, Form Mind Blade, Shape Mind Blade, Throw Mind Blade, Bladeskills (all), Enhanced Mind Blade (all)
    Valid Archetypes to Combine with: Gifted Blade

    Triple Archetype Combinations: Armored Blade + Shielded Blade + Gifted Blade


    If you’re wondering why I didn’t advise Cutthroat + Armored Blade, it’s because the two have very little to offer one another despite being miscible. Cutthroat wants to be sneaky with high dex, so right off the bat it is dismissing the medium and heavy Armaments (chain and splint mail respectively) which impose a low dex cap. None of the Armored Blade enhancements help you to be covert either - as of this writing, there’s no Glamered, Shadow, Slick, Creeping etc. So even though you can get a “free” Chain Shirt out of Armored Blade, you can’t put the kind of enhancements on it that a rogue-ish type would find appealing; worse, you’re hobbling your blade’s enhancement to do it. You’re better off sticking with a full-powered blade and simply buying sneaky armor with all the WBL you’re saving on your weapon(s). It’s possible Ultimate Psionics will add in a few more sneaky options for the Armored Blade, but until then your best bet is not to combine them. (However, see the tips and tricks section under Armored Blade.)

    The other archetypes mix just fine, some in very unique ways. I’ll explore/rate the archetypes themselves first, then rate the combinations. In addition, there are some bladeskills that can only be taken by a certain archetype - I’ll analyze those here as well.


    Armored Blade

    Synopsis: By diverting power from your blade(s), you can form armor as well.

    Description:
    This archetype lets you divert some of your blade’s power into making armor. The main benefit here is getting access to Masterwork Splint Mail (+7 AC, -6 ACP) at level 1, making you quite a tank early on for little cost. Despite it being heavy armor, you are still proficient as well. Even moreso than regular soulknives, Armored Blades do well in low-wealth or low-magic campaigns - able to arm and armor themselves in high-quality gear without any sufferance from the DM.

    The price you pay for this independence is dilution - your mind armaments (blade and armor) advance more slowly than the blade of a standard soulknife. Together, they cap at a total enhancement of +7 instead of +10, creating a greater tradeoff between enhancement bonus and abilities. You can offset this somewhat by allocating the majority of your pool to abilities, and making up the base enhancement deficiency with something like Greater Magic Weapon or Metaphysical Weapon.

    Overall, this archetype fits best with a Strength-based Soulknife - giving you the protection of heavy armor very early in the game and letting you start with a lower Dex than a regular Soulknife might be comfortable with. If you go this route, consider focusing your bladeskills and feats around a 2-handed style (e.g. get feats like Power Attack) to get the most out of your strength. Note also that, despite being formed from your mind, Mind Armaments weigh just as much as the real thing (“identical in all ways except visually”) which further underscores the benefit of high strength. If your strength isn’t very high - say, you plan on focusing on Wis later - consider sticking with the medium Chainmail form (+6 AC) so you have some carrying capacity left over. The major advantage to this archetype is that you can put on and take off your armor at a moment’s notice no matter how heavy it is, letting you for instance not have to worry about needing the Endurance feat to sleep, or needing someone to help you get dressed in the event of an emergency.

    This is not to say that you can't use this archetype with a Dex-based Soulknife - a masterwork chain shirt isn’t a bad start for a skirmisher at all. However, the enhancements granted by an Armored Blade are geared more towards a tanking style than a hit-and-run or high
    mobility combat style. If you want a Dexknife that can form his own armor, consider skipping this archetype altogether and instead multiclassing Aegis, with the aim of entering the Metaforge PrC; Aegii get more dex-friendly properties on their astral suits than Armored Blades do. However, iif you do want to combine this with a Dexknife, consider the Improved Armor bladeskill (discussed further below) which will remove your chain shirt's dex cap and ACP completely.

    Class Features:
    Form Mind Armaments: The main class feature, which counts as Form Mind Blade for prerequisites; this lets you, as before, form your blade with a move action. In addition however, with a separate move action you can form mind armor, choosing light (Masterwork Chain Shirt), medium (Masterwork Chainmail) or heavy (Masterwork Splint Mail) each time. Note that by RAW, Quick Draw applies to both weapon and armor (“Mind armor is treated like a mind blade in all other ways”) so once you hit Soulknife 5 you can become fully-armed and armored with a moment's thought, prior even to taking your turn’s worth of actions. You can also dismiss your armor as a free action, which can help you avoid hazards like drowning, and rearmor yourself at the end of that turn or on a subsequent turn. As with the mind blade, you are always proficient in mind armor, regardless of the form you choose.

    Shape Mind Armaments: As with the Shape Mind Blade class feature this replaces, you can reshape your armor as a full-round action; if you don't, the blade and armor will always take the shape you chose when you first formed them. This lets you, for instance, downgrade to light form if you’re about to do something that requires a bit more finesse (like tumbling, running or climbing) without exposing yourself completely or losing a valuable enhancement - then rebuild to heavy when mobility is no longer needed. (In most cases like this though, it might be better to dismiss the armor entirely, do what you need to do, then resummon it as a free action before ending your turn.)

    Enhanced Mind Armaments: This class feature governs which enhancements you can put on your armor and how fast you get them. As far as your blade, it gets all the abilities of the standard soulknife, however with the lower cap you will have to wait longer to put some of them on. Note that the general rule of needing a minimum +1 enhancement bonus to apply special abilities is still in effect here, which slows your access even more than the table indicates. This, plus the general weakness/narrow application of many of the enhancements themselves, means the primary benefit of the archetype is in the (free) armor itself, rather than the abilities it grants.

    The new enhancements you get are:
    - Light fortification (25%) (+1, 6th level) - Fortification is always useful, particularly against rogues or large numbers of attacks.
    - SR 13 (+2, 8th level ) - SR is nice, but by 8th level enemies should have little trouble getting through it if it's this low - an equal-level enemy needs to roll a 4 or lower to fail, and most dangerous enemies are higher than you. Consider it minor concealment for spells, but sadly, it only gets weaker as you go along from here.
    - Energy Resistance (10) (+3, 11th level) - 10 may not be a ton, but it does apply to every attack - and monsters that use elements tend to spam. This is particularly useful because, unlike actual energy resist armor, you can choose the element whenever you configure this.
    - Ghost Touch (+3, 11th level) - a massive AC boost vs. incorporeal enemies, especially for a Strengthknife. You can get 7-9 more AC vs. incorporeal touch attacks from this alone.
    - Invulnerability (DR 5/Magic) (+3, 11th level) - by this level every enemy should be using magical attacks. Too little, too late; such a cool name for such a lackluster enhancement.
    - Moderate Fortification (50%) (+3, 11th level) - As with light fortification, this protects you from painful crits and precision damage.
    - SR 15 (+3, 11th level) - +2 SR, +3 levels later - this doesn’t bode well. An enemy must now roll a 3 or lower to fail.
    - Improved Energy Resistance (20) (+4, 13th level) - 10 more points for 2 levels, this is a good boost.
    - SR 17 (+4, 13th level) - this stays level with the last grade, but that's not a compliment as it's still 3 or less to fail for an equal-level enemy - not even a speedbump.
    - Heavy Fortification (75%) (+5, 15th level) - Powerful protection, but at a steep cost and late in the game. Unless you're taking on a thieves' guild, Moderate should be enough protection.
    - SR 19 (+5, 15th level) - I think I've said all I need to on the spell resistance mods.
    - Greater Energy Resistance (30) (+5, 15th level) - Ever wanted to wade in lava? This is powerful protection, but expensive. Still, it is the best of the +5s.

    Armored Blade-only Bladeskills:
    Improved Armor: This is a must-pick - it will improve whichever armor you’ve chosen to a more beneficial type for free. The effects are as follows:
    - Light form: you are now treated as though you’re unarmored, while still getting the masterwork chain’s armor bonus to AC. This has a lot of benefits, some of which are not readily apparent - for one, you can multiclass monk and get the monk’s Wis bonus to AC while still getting a +4 armor bonus on top of that. It also means that you no longer have a cap on your dexterity bonus to AC, plus you lose all armor check penalty. There is a sneaky trick with this form - see the tips & tricks section.
    - Medium form: you are now treated as wearing masterwork breastplate. The benefits here are minor (10lbs. less weight, 1 less ACP, 5% less ASF) but the +1 to max dex bonus is helpful. Still, as before I advise you go either heavy or light with armored blade, and leave medium armor to regular soulknives.
    - Heavy form: you are now treated as wearing masterwork full plate. This gives you +3 more AC (+2 from armor, +1 from Dex bonus) along with -1 ACP. The best part naturally is how fast you can put it on relative to real full plate, effectively making you Savnok.

    General Strategy: Armored Blades, as the name suggests, want to be in the thick of things. You’re likely to have a massive amount of AC at first level, particularly if you combine with Shielded Blade, so make the most of it and wade into battle. You also have d10 hd for added beef. In addition, having a free weapon and armor (and possibly shield) means you have a lot more freedom with your WBL - you can pick up accessories like rings, bracers and amulets, as well as various helpful wondrous items, sooner than many of your martial counterparts, or simply throw your gold back into the pot for the casters in exchange for some helpful magic weapons and magic vestments. Your downsides are that your blade and armor both advance slowly (likely, slower than your WBL even) despite having a huge head start over most other fighter-types. In addition, you won’t be very mobile wearing such heavy armor out of the gate, so rely on reach and defensive tactics to win fights rather than chasing the enemy all over the battlefield.

    Tips and Tricks:
    Spoiler
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    - There’s a fairly sneaky trick possible with the Improved Armor bladeskill - it causes your light armor form to be treated as if you’re unarmored. Since you’re unarmored, this means you should be able to wear something else over it, such as say some leather armor. The AC won’t stack of course (you still have an armor bonus to AC) but any other special abilities should, since for mechanical purposes you are only wearing one suit of armor. This can be a way for a sneaky armored blade to get access to properties like Slick or Shadow while also benefiting from the “unarmored” bonuses provided by your not-chain-shirt, like energy resistance and ghost touch. You can also this way allow all your AC to come from the Soul Shirt itself.

    - The Additional Configurations bladeskill will work with your armaments as well, due to the “functions like a mind blade” clause. A good one to store in your alternate is Ghost Touch on both your armor and weapon, so that if you face incorporeal foes you can skyrocket your AC at a moment’s notice. If you have Shielded Blade, you can Ghost Touch that too. (Who ya gonna call?!) More importantly, because Armored Blade lowers/slows your enhancement progression, it makes Fluid Form less attractive.

    - The elemental blades (especially Ice Blade) are particularly useful for the Armored Blade because they don’t have as large an enhancement pool to allocate to special abilities, so every bit of mileage you can get out of bladeskills helps. Ice Blade is particularly useful for helping your likely-slower Armored Blade keep enemies from running away.

    - Because this archetype is best suited to a strength-based soulknife, consider eschewing a Psychic Strike focus (which works better dual-wielding) for a more traditional 2-hander power attack build, and pick up Gifted Blade alongside instead.


    Overall rating: Strengthknife, Dexknife, Wisknife


    Cutthroat

    Synopsis: You trade Psychic Strike for Sneak Attack. You also gain access to some sneaky bladeskills, letting you be a fighter/rogue type.

    Description:
    Soulknife/Rogue combinations have been tried since the XPH debuted, but this archetype is the first in my mind to truly pull it off. If you are familiar with the Thug Fighter from UA in 3.5, the Cutthroat's full BAB and d10 HD will give it a familiar feel, but you also get 6+Int skills and various other rogue abilities (like Trapfinding) through your bladeskills. However, you are a bit less versatile than a pure rogue, missing out on a number of their more useful skills - most notably Diplomacy (needed to Gather Information in PF), Escape Artist, Knowledge-local and UMD.

    This choice strips down your soulknife chassis a bit - you lose your armor and shield skills, your bonus feat and of course your psychic strike. However, you also gain access to new bladeskills, including ones that give you rogue abilities. The major synergy here is your mind blade itself - giving you a "rogue" that can use all kinds of exotic arms without spending feats to do so. Even a more mundane setup like mind daggers gain the advantage of perfect concealment. Between your full sneak attack, access to psionic feats and the mind blade itself, Cutthroats have generally higher damage potential than a rogue of the same level and wealth.

    If you've ever read the soulknife and thought "this would be a cool assassin", or imagined yourself putting a hand on someone and forming a blade inside their heart (more on that later), Cutthroat is the archetype for you.

    Class Features:
    Covert Training: In exchange for your medium armor and shield proficiencies, you gain 6+Int skills instead of the Soulknife's 4. Note that this does not give you any new skills however.

    Cunning: You gain Bluff as a class skill - you also gain a competence bonus to both Bluff and Stealth while psionically focused. You can also expend your focus on a single check to double the bonus,

    Sneak Attack: The main reason to go cutthroat, you gain full sneak attack (though only while psionically focused) in exchange for psychic strike.

    Cutthroat-only Bladeskills:
    Evasion: You're slightly sturdier than a rogue, but reflex saves can still get painful. Be sure to get this. (Amusingly, Soulknife evasion works in medium armor, despite the Cutthroat losing the proficiency.)

    Improved Evasion: This doesn't hurt, but it's still less useful since you're unlikely to fail a reflex save at this point. (10th.)

    Rogue Talent: Sadly you only get access to rogue talents from a small list, but that list includes the great Fast Stealth and Slow Reactions, as well as the useful Sniper's Eye, so this is still a good choice.

    Advanced Talents: This is also a small list. Confounding Blades is... confounding to me, since it seems worse in every way than Slow Reactions. Crippling Strike is nice since you can stack it pretty fast. Stealthy Sniper is great on a thrower build.

    Trapfinder: Not only do you get Trapfinding, you also get Disable Device. Vital if you expect traps to be a problem.

    General Strategy: There's not a whole lot to say here - play the Cutthroat like you would play a fighter/rogue. It should go without saying that the Cutthroat is most-suited to being a dexknife - sneak attack works best for a mobile and stealthy attacker, the loss of armor proficiencies prioritize dexterity as a means of protection, and precision damage helps to compensate for the lower damage from strength. You certainly can combine it with strength, and sneak attack with a powerful 2-hander, if that fits your concept of course.

    Note that if you go for a TWF style, you start out slightly behind relative to a standard soulknife since your free TWF feat is eaten up by Cunning. Focus on feats and items that provide a benefit while you maintain your psionic focus, because you'll be keeping it up anyway to land sneak attacks. Finally, be sure to get a psicrystal - they are great companions for any skillmonkey or sneak. You're likely tougher than a rogue - you have more hitpoints, and more WBL to allocate to defensive items - plus you're likely to do more damage due to full BAB, psionic feats and your magic blades, so take advantage of that to get rough. As I said above, you're closer in playstyle to a Thug Fighter than a true Rogue.

    The mind blade gives you an advantage over regular rogues - throwing. Thanks to Mind Daggers (and later, Multiple Throw) you can toss magic projectiles left and right without running out. You also aren't constrained on damage type like a bow or crossbow would be, e.g. you can throw bludgeoning and slashing just as easily as piercing, without spending a penny.

    Tips and Tricks:
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    - Consider a dip in Assassin; you should easily qualify. and death attack works quite well with a class that can form weapons out of thin air as a free action. This should fulfill the longstanding fantasy of Soulknife players to form a blade inside someone. Simply study for 3 rounds, place your hand on them, and during the surprise round, you'll get both a sneak and death attack. Combine with Twin Strike, and you can use both hands and get two sneak attacks and two death attacks, all in the surprise round.

    - Mind Finesse and Emulate Weapon combine exceptionally well, letting you finesse with 2-handers and all kinds of exotic weaponry, all of which you'll be proficient with thanks to your mind blade.

    -


    Overall rating: Strengthknife, Dexknife, Wisknife


    Deadly Fist

    Synopsis: You channel your psychic power into your fists, becoming a Soulmonk. (Why didn't they call this Soulfist?)

    Description:
    As the Cutthroat was the Soulknife-Rogue, the Deadly Fist is the Soulknife-Monk. This was another oft-envisioned (or oft-requested) combination during 3.5 - expressed in Eberron via the flufftastic Atavist PrC, as well as piecemeal in Dragon Magazines. But where the Atavist was tied to a specific race and the Dragon Mag offerings were a handful of disparate abilities, the Deadly Fist offers an end-to-end monk/soulknife hybrid that will let you enhance your punches from the start.

    Note that unlike a Monk, the Deadly Fist gets to wear armor and even use shields. If you've ever wanted to make an armored brawler this class can do well for you, but do consider a monk dip as an alternative.

    As with the Cutthroat vs. the Rogue, there are some drawbacks here compared to the Monk, such as the lack of Escape Artist and Sense Motive as class skills.

    Class Features:
    Empowered Strikes: This ability is the "Form Mind Blade" for the Deadly Fist, except rather than form a blade, you infuse your body with energy. This carries most of the effects of the mind blade itself, such as: letting your fist count as magic for DR purposes, letting you change the damage type like a mind blade (s/b/p), improving your US damage to 1d6, and letting you use mind blade abilities like psychic strike. What you cannot do is change the form of your mind blade, which means effects like Emulate Melee Weapon or Mind Daggers don't work for the Deadly Fist. On the plus side, your fists can't be disarmed or sundered either.

    Enhanced Strikes: Like Enhanced Mind Blade, this lets you put abilities into your fists. Note that unlike a regular soulknife, TWFing with a Deadly Fist does not reduce your enhancement bonus, because you aren't actually forming any items. (Note however that you need the Flurry of Fists bladeskill to TWF.)

    Psychokinetic Discharge: This basically lets you “throw” your unarmed strikes - though to be more accurate you are shooting them, since you get 10 range increments instead of 5. Unfortunately, without Multiple Throw you won’t get iteratives. (Note that this IS explicitly an unarmed attack despite being ranged, so it will work with things like Flurry of Fists... once you get Multiple Throw that is.)

    Quick Empower: Quick Draw for your fists. Since Empowered Strikes has no duration, you can simply leave your fists charged up all the time (there doesn’t seem to be a visual effect either), but this is here if you need to depower and repower in a hurry for some reason.

    Deadly Fist-only Bladeskills:
    Flurry of Fists: You get it for free, so there’s no need to take it. This is vital if you plan to TWF since it will save you a boatload of feats. Note also that, like a Monk's flurry, you get full Str bonus to each attack.

    Improved Flurry of Fists: This is ITWF for you. Take it as soon as you have the BAB to benefit.

    Greater Flurry of Fists: This is GTWF for you. Take it as soon as you have the BAB to benefit.

    General Strategy: The Deadly Fist is a cool archetype at first blush but has some tough problems to overcome. The main one is damage - the archetype pushes you away from a strength build since you can't 2-hand with your unarmed strikes, but you also lack the bonus damage to really benefit from a dex build. Psychic Strike works with your punches, but because you aren't forming two blades like a regular soulknife, you can only charge one strike at a time. For that reason, you may be better off dropping Psychic Strike for Gifted Blade.

    Strongly consider multiclassing - the Soulknife capstone does nothing for you anyway, so you might as well. A monk dip works well, granting you Wis to AC and bonus feats. See the Tips and Tricks section for good monk archetypes to combine with a Deadly Fist. The triad synergy of Deadly Fist, Monk, and Gifted Blade is formidable indeed, particularly once you add in the Focused Offense and Focused Defense bladeskills.

    Tips and Tricks:
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    - Since Deadly Fist gives you IUS and Flurry on its own, monk archetypes that replace one or both of those two things give you the most bang for your buck. Sohei, Tetori, and Master of Maneuvers are examples of archetypes that work well.

    - A monk dip combined with Focused Offense and Defense will give you powerful AC.


    Overall rating: Strengthknife, Dexknife, Wisknife


    Nimble Blade

    Synopsis: The Nimble Blade archetype is a collection of abilities that emphasize dexterity and flexibility.

    Description:
    The main benefit of Nimble Blade is the powerful combination of the Mind Blade Finesse bladeskill and the Agile weapon property. Together, these two abilities give you Dex to both attack and damage regardless of the shape you use for your mind blade. You can even emulate 2-handed or exotic weapons, and still gain Dex to both attack and damage. Finally, the Nimble Blade gains a "floating bladeskill" which you can use to make a key change to your build on the fly. If you plan on being a Dexknife, strongly consider either Nimble Blade or Cutthroat to increase your SAD.

    Class Features:

    Weapon Finesse: You get this feat for free. Naturally, Dexknives make great Nimble Blades.

    Mind Blade Finesse: Not only do you get this bladeskill for free, you get it at first level, i.e. before any other soulknife can pick it up.

    Piranha Strike: In exchange for your first bladeskill, you get this ability for free. This is basically power attack for light weapons, and rewards you for keeping your mind blade(s) in light form or emulating a light weapon. Combined with the Agile property, you can get decent damage out of a high-dex build.

    Agile Blade: This gives you the useful Agile property, which soulknives don't otherwise get normally. Though it replaces one of your blade enhancements, the property itself is worth +1 anyway, and furthermore doesn't actually count towards your blade's enhancement pool. (You "treat your blade as though you had it" - it doesn't actually take up any enhancement space.) A Nimble Blade therefore has a total enhancement 1 lower than normal. Note that you don't get this until 7th level, so if you're starting at level 1, don't neglect strength completely.

    Adaptive Form: By spending an immediate action and your focus, you can add a free bladeskill (whose requirements you meet) to your build indefinitely. You can then swap that bladeskill for another by repeating this process anytime you want. There are some powerful tactics you can pull off with this - see the Tips & Tricks section.


    Nimble Blade-only Bladeskills: None

    General Strategy:
    As stated above, you'll want to stick with a Dexknife for the Nimble Blade. They lose shield and medium armor proficiency, so most of your protection will have to come from Dex, and light armor. However the benefits are significant - you become nearly Dex-SAD, and Adaptive Form grants you a lot of freedom with your build. It works particularly well with Bladeskills that grant you a changeable or modular benefit - for instance, Emulate Melee Weapon normally only gives you a specific weapon shape each time you take it, but by using your floating bladeskill you can change its shape anytime you want.

    Be careful if you are starting from a low level - you don't get your Agile mind blade until 7th level, so neglecting strength entirely before then can harm your build. If you can buy one earlier, consider doing so and selling it later.

    Tips and Tricks:
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    - Nimble Blade combos extremely well with Gifted Blade - specifically, the combo of Adaptive Form + Mental Power, which lets you pick up any power on the Gifted Blade list for free at any time as an immediate action. This opens you up for all kinds of situational powers, like Immovability, Body Purification, Synesthete and Float. You even refresh the 2 PP each time, though I'd advise against trying that part of the trick lest your DM become wroth.

    -


    Overall rating: Strengthknife, Dexknife, Wisknife


    Shielded Blade

    Synopsis: Divert some of your blade's power into your mind shield, enhancing its effectiveness greatly and making it count as a true shield.

    Description: This archetype is aimed at a sword-and-board Soulknife. The main benefit here is that you can now use Pathfinder's sword-and-shield feats; in addition, you can now add bonuses to your mind shield and make shield bash attacks with it. Note that unlike a regular shield, you keep the shield bonus to AC even if you bash with it, encouraging a more aggressive combat style. However, your shield counts as a heavy shield, i.e. one-handed instead of light, so if you plan to TWF with weapon and shield be aware of the increased penalties.


    Class Features:

    Form Mind Shield:

    Improved Shield:

    Shielded Blade-only Bladeskills:

    Deadly Shield: This allows you to apply your shield's enhancement bonus to attacks rather than AC. It's unclear how you switch between the two, but a safe bet is that this is chosen on formation, in which case Additional Configurations will be handy to let you keep an "attack shield" and "defense shield" shape. If you plan on shield bashing this is highly recommended as it will let you overcome DR and add other nasty abilities to your shield bashes. If you don't plan on attacking with your shield you can skip this.

    Grasping Shield:

    Interrupting Shield:

    Shield Block

    Ranged Shield Block

    Whiplash

    General Strategy:

    Tips and Tricks:
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    - {Note - look into sword and shield feats.}



    Overall rating: Strengthknife, Dexknife, Wisknife


    Soulbolt

    Synopsis:

    Description:


    Class Features:

    Manifesting:

    Gifted Blade-only Bladeskills:

    Mental Power:

    General Strategy:

    Tips and Tricks:
    Spoiler
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    -



    Overall rating: Strengthknife, Dexknife, Wisknife
    Last edited by Psyren; 2013-07-09 at 08:56 PM.
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    Second, the whole "blue text" thing is not a forum rule or even a recommended procedure. If someone wants to do it in their own posts, fine, but everyone should stop telling people that they "need to" or "should have" posted in blue just because they're being sarcastic/ironic/whatever.

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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife


    Races and Multiclassing


    PF Soulknives share one problem in common with their 3.5 counterparts; with the notable exception of the Gifted Blade, being psionic is almost purely cosmetic for them. Thus, unlike the other psionic classes, soulknives function roughly as well whether you choose a psionic race or a non-psionic one, unless you plan on multiclassing into another manifester later; the extra power points do nothing for you, and simply being a Soulknife gives you access to the psionic feats you would normally have wanted the race for. Your primary considerations then should be racial abilities, stat bonuses and favored class bonuses.

    Note 1: There is a campaign variant in Psionics Expanded (High Psionics) that lets you replace all instances of Wild Talent with Unlocked Talent, the PF version of Hidden Talent. If this variant is in play, or if Unlocked Talent exists in your games at all, upgrade the psionic races a step.

    Note 2: If you're using the Gifted Blade, upgrade the psionic races another step, and be sure to take the "power point" favored class option.

    Note 3: In my first version of this guide, I had a lot of 3.5 info mixed in here simply because Psionics Unleashed offered very little in the way of options for soulknives. With the release of Psionics Expanded, there is a lot more pure PF material to focus on, so I'll be removing the 3.5 information from this section. If I have space/time, I may add a section at the end with recommendations on what to bring in for a 3.P game, but covering the PF material takes precedence.


    Core Races - Psionic

    Blues: With the one-two punch of being small and having a strength penalty, these guys are middling base soulknives due to the low damage output. The right archetypes can help with this; they are also speedy for their size. They make great Nimble Blades, Cutthroats, and Soulbolts. No Favored Class bonus. +2 Int, +2 Dex, -2 Str.

    Ratings: Base, AB, Ct, DF, GB, NB, SB, Sb

    Dromites: Slightly worse than Blues due to being slower and having a bonus to a dump stat. They also have the same Str penalty but at least have +1 NA . They also have Scent, energy resistance and their 1/day ray. Cha is worse to boost than Int. Worst of all they have no use for PP from their race or class. I would stick with Blues if you want to be a small Soulknife. No Favored Class bonus. +2 Cha, +2 Dex, -2 Str

    Ratings: Base, AB, Ct, DF, GB, NB, SB, Sb

    Duergar: The Wis boost is nice with the right archetype and you can never have too much Con. Other than that though, there's not much helpful here and no use for your PP. They're also slow. No favored class bonus. +2 Wis, +2 Con, -2 Cha

    Ratings: Base, AB, Ct, DF, GB, NB, SB, Sb


    Elans: Now we're talking. Not only do we get TWO uses for your PP built right into the race, we get damn good ones - and a use for your swift actions even before you get Psychic Strike. Choosing where your ability score bonus goes is icing on the cake. An Elan Soulknife can soak a ridiculous amount of damage at low levels, and plays well with every archetype. They do particularly well with Gifted Blades since their racials help you with your power selection. Finally, the favored class bonus is nice for a crit-fishing build as it helps you confirm. +2 to any one ability score

    Ratings: Base, AB, Ct, DF, GB, NB, SB, Sb

    Half-Giants: The dex penalty means you probably won't be dual-wielding - but thanks to Powerful Build, you probably won't care. This is the best race for a 2-hander soulknife build, aka Strengthknife. They make great Wisknifes too. +2 Str, +2 Wis, -2 Dex

    Ratings: Base, AB, Ct, DF, GB, NB, SB, Sb

    Maenads: The scream is pretty meh, but Outburst and Inner Rage are great. A PP dump that lets you penalize two dump stats to boost your damage stat? I'll take two with fries. The favored class bonus is also pretty meh though. +2 to any one ability score

    Ratings: Base, AB, Ct, DF, GB, NB, SB, Sb

    Ophiduans: Natural armor, medium size and a dex bonus for dual-wieldy goodness. The Darkvision and bite are nice too. Due to having a Dex bonus and no Str penalty, they make great dual-wielders. They are great Wisknifes as well. The favored class bonus is great, since grapples and trips come up a lot. One of the best all-around races. +2 Wis, +2 Dex, -2 Cha

    Xephs: A Str penalty rears its head again, but at least your weapons are regular-sized. The speed boost is nice (both the racial and the favored class) and so they make great mobile attackers.+2 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Str

    Core Races - Non-Psionic

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    Dwarves: Nothing special here. Going Soulknife at least qualifies them for psionic feats, helping them catch up to Duergar, but they are overall a worse choice. Slow speed and lack of favored class bonuses lead me to advise against it. +2 Con, +2 Wis, –2 Cha

    Elves: The Dex bonus is nice for dual-wielding, and Int never hurts, but you pay for it with a Con penalty. The favored class bonus is unlikely to come up. +2 Dex, +2 Int, –2 Con

    Gnomes: Aside from maybe Con, no good stats here. Your weapon is smaller too. No favored class bonuses either. Next! +2 Con, +2 Cha, -2 Str

    Half-Elves: The floating stat bonus is nice but there's not a whole lot else here. They're decent at multi-classing though, and Soulknives definitely have the potential to play well with others. The favored class bonus is unlikely to come up often. +2 to any one ability score

    Half-Orcs: The floating stat and Ferocity make them a solid non-psionic choice. The favored class bonus to psychic strike damage helps as well. +2 to any one ability score

    Halflings: A better choice than Gnomes, but that's not saying much. Halflings get a helpful favored class bonus and are good with ranged builds. I put them slightly ahead of Dromites if you're not manifesting.. +2 Cha, +2 Dex, -2 Str

    Humans: Floating stat, free feat and no drawbacks - as usual for 3.x, you can't really go wrong with a human. The favored class bonus is sheer dynamite. +2 to any one ability score


    Other Races

    Spoiler
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    There are of course many other options; I'll only do a few here.

    Kalashtar - Along with a smattering of miscellaneous bonuses, you get more bonus PP from these guys from any other race, but no way to use them without Hidden Talent, racial sub or a dip. Even so, the sheer amount of ammunition can come in handy. The first racial sub level in Races of Eberron is also nice (see below.) Finally, Kalashtar have access to nice racial perks such as Host Feats, unique PrCs like Atavist and Quori Shards. All in all, not a bad choice. If porting to Pathfinder, try to convince your DM to allow them +2 to any stat like Elans and Humans get; if this is allowed, upgrade them to a blue choice.

    Shifter: +2 Dex, -2 Int, -2 Cha. The stat adjustments are harsh, especially in Pathfinder, but thankfully the penalties are to stats you don't really care about anyway. The shifting buffs are all useful to a Soulknife, so this is another solid choice. If you can get the race a Pathfinder boost (at least a net zero stats, or stronger/more frequent shifting bonuses), this is another good candidate for a blue rating.

    Changeling: There isn't a whole lot of mechanical synergy here. They're good at infiltrating, so being able to create powerful weapons out of thin air can probably come in handy for that, but in terms of actual numbers they don't get much to help (or hinder) you. Interesting RP-wise, but there are many more powerful options.

    Warforged: Warforged are of course universally good at melee. +2 Con, -2 Wis, -2 Cha.; as with Shifters, it's a net negative but both are dump stats so you probably won't mind anyway. Their suite of immunities and defensive attributes all hold value for a Soulknife as well.


    Prestige Classes

    The Pathfinder Soulknife is much more friendly to multiclassing than its 3.5 cousin. Often in 3.5, even PrCs designed for the soulknife would advance only the blade's enhancement bonus - not its ability pool, much less Psychic Strike. And PrCs that weren't specifically meant for the Soulknife advanced nothing at all.

    PsU changes that with a new ruling, introduced in Hyperconscious and leveraged for other DSP works like Untapped Potential. It states the following:

    (Buffs have again been colored blue.)

    Soulknives And Prestige Classes

    Sometimes, a soulknife may qualify for a prestige class with “+1 level of existing manifesting class” as a class feature. This increased psionic training helps those who follow the path of the mind blade as well as the path of the manifester. At each level where a manifester level would increase by one, treat the soulknife as if he had gained a level of soulknife for the purposes of Enhanced Mind Blade. The soulknife does not gain any other benefits from an increased level (blade skills, etc.).

    It’s less common, but sometimes a multiclass soulknife enters one of these prestige classes with a bit of manifesting talent. In high psionics games, for this special case, each indicated level of the prestige class advances both the soulknife’s Enhanced Mind Blade, as above, and his existing manifester level by one level. In games that are not high psionics, choose one or the other to increase, but not both.
    Psionic Prestige Classes: Core

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    Cerebremancer: This is for casters, not for you. Moving right along.

    Elocater: A decent choice, with 7/10 blade advancement. The requisite feats are much better in Pathfinder, and you can enter with a tiny dip or with Hidden Talent (if houseruled into your game.) In exchange for your Blade Skills, some BAB, and Psychic Strike, you gain a number of unique abilities: walking on walls and ceilings, flanking from almost anywhere, taking extra 5-foot steps, and even short-range teleportation a few times per day. In addition, Spatial Awareness can help overcome the damage lost from missing Psychic Strike, and all the flanking goodness makes you much more likely to hit your targets. This is still a much better class for Nomad-gishes, but the Soulknife gets some decent mileage out of it, particularly if you're not the only member of the party in melee. The biggest downside is that the Transporter ability is useless for you. If Hidden Talent is allowed, upgrade to blue.

    Metamind: Nothing for you here either.

    Phrenic Slayer: The 9/10 blade advancement and full BAB are very nice. You also gain powerful defenses against a single enemy type - even with a low Wis, you can get plenty of mileage out of these. Useful for a "hunter-type" SK. Effectively, you're trading versatility vs. many enemy types (and your reflex save, sadly) for supreme offensive and defensive capability vs. one.

    Psion Uncarnate: The benefits are powerful, but you give up too much qualifying. Leave this one to the casters. 6/10 blade advancement.

    Psychic Fist: The primary benefits of this monk-oriented PrC require that you use your fist instead of your mind blade. And you lose BAB to boot. Why are you a soulknife then? (Note: with sufficient shenanigans, you can make your mind blade count as an unarmed strike. If such is the case, upgrade this to Good.)

    Pyrokineticist: Fantastic. This class has always meshed well with the Soulknife, and Pathfinder is no exception - with a special clause that allows your fire whip to benefit from all Blade skills and enhancements received thus far. If the class itself granted more enhancements it would get an even higher rating. If you want a dex-heavy, non-TWF soulwhip, this is the way to go, particularly with the alternate elements from Mind's Eye.

    Thrallherd: The most powerful psionic PrC in the game nevertheless has little to offer you. Skip this.

    War Mind: You give up your blade progression for a suite of Psywar powers and a use for your PP. With full BAB in the mix, this is a fantastic choice.


    Psionic Prestige Classes: Splat

    Under construction.

    Prestige Classes: Core

    Spoiler
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    Arcane Archer/Arcane Trickster: Nope.

    Assassin: A brilliant fit, both mechanically and thematically. Take a normal assassin; now add on a base class with a full BAB chassis instead of 3/4, a "precision-damage" ability that does full damage to most sneak-resistant creature types, and best of all one that can create its (magic) weapon out of thin air, even after being searched by the king's guards. And because it's never a "hidden weapon" it creates this blade as a free action instead of a move action - i.e. you can "study your foe," make your blade, then full-Death-Attack. Ready to be the terror of the kingdom?

    Dragon Disciple: Skip.

    Duelist: An intriguing choice. Combine with the Mind Shield blade skill (your offhand is still empty) for some added defense. Keep in mind that you must shape the piercing mind blade for this to work.

    Eldritch Knight/Loremaster/MT: No.

    Pathfinder Chronicler: I don't see anything in this class to recommend it. It seems to be based around boosting everyone else's combat abilitiy instead of your own, which is not what a soulknife is about, but maybe someone can see something I don't.

    Shadowdancer: Not a terrible choice, but doesn't offer all that much either. This can help you make a stealthy soulknife, but unlike Assassin and Duelist it doesn't help your damage output much, and damage is really the Soulknife's thing.


    Prestige Classes: Splat

    Under construction.
    Last edited by Psyren; 2013-07-08 at 03:07 PM.
    Sandharrow by Chris the Pontifex
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife


    Useful Feats

    In this section, I'll compile a list of handy feats for Soulknives, keeping in mind their melee focus, durability (or lack thereof) and above all their psionic nature. Though they don't actually use psionics for much, getting Wild Talent for free gives Soulknives access to psionic feats; an advantage that more mentally mundane martial classes (like Barbarians, Fighters, Monks etc.) do not share.

    There are also a number of feats specifically designed for Soulknives - some good, some less than good. Where possible, I will highlight the treats (and traps) for what they are.

    Psionic Feats

    Under construction

    Non-Psionic Feats

    Under construction
    Last edited by Psyren; 2013-06-27 at 09:18 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Reserved #8 (of 10)
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    Reserved #9 (of 10)
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Last one - post away.

    I wasn't kidding when I said help is welcome btw - melee is not my forté, so writing this is as much about my own edification as anyone else's.
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Last one - post away.

    I wasn't kidding when I said help is welcome btw - melee is not my forté, so writing this is as much about my own edification as anyone else's.
    I'll say this: PF Soulknife is 100% better than 3.5 Soulknife. Heck, almost every class is better in Pathfinder (minus Monk, who once again gets the shaft)
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by Tokuhara View Post
    I'll say this: PF Soulknife is 100% better than 3.5 Soulknife. Heck, almost every class is better in Pathfinder (minus Monk, who once again gets the shaft)
    Base monk, definitely. The Hungry Ghost Archtype on a crit-fishing build can, by reports I've had, be incredibly effective as far as melee combatants go.
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Hmmm interesting; I am not too familiar with pathfinder; but I have read the PF Soulknife and I really liked what I saw.
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    i tryed the 3.5 version, and was really disappointed (and eventually had my gm kill him of so i could make a new character..)
    however I DO like the changes in pathfinder, and ill be happy to play the new version :D
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Question about Psychic Strike: Aren't Undead et al still immune to ability point damage, and thus still immune to Psychic Strike? Or did they change that in Pathfinder?

    Also, still seems like it's a high Tier 4 (or maybe a very low Tier 3) class. Full BAB, ok Skills/Armor/Saves, a free magic weapon or two (which is notably important for TWF builds, but not that big of deal for everyone else), a couple of bonus feats which are mostly mandated, and some Blade Skills. The Blade Skills are nifty, but most of the good ones require expending psionic focus or psychic strike, and in general they're a lot less impressive then maneuvers, soulmelds, psychic powers, or vestiges. I reminds me very much of their Monk fix - it adds a ton of stuff, but none of it is particularly impressive.

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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by Person_Man View Post
    Question about Psychic Strike: Aren't Undead et al still immune to ability point damage, and thus still immune to Psychic Strike? Or did they change that in Pathfinder?
    Only Knife to the Soul incurs ability damage (and has been moved to a Blade Skill rather than a separate ability.) Psychic Strike is just additional HP damage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Person_Man View Post
    Also, still seems like it's a high Tier 4 (or maybe a very low Tier 3) class. Full BAB, ok Skills/Armor/Saves, a free magic weapon or two (which is notably important for TWF builds, but not that big of deal for everyone else), a couple of bonus feats which are mostly mandated, and some Blade Skills. The Blade Skills are nifty, but most of the good ones require expending psionic focus or psychic strike, and in general they're a lot less impressive then maneuvers, soulmelds, psychic powers, or vestiges. I reminds me very much of their Monk fix - it adds a ton of stuff, but none of it is particularly impressive.
    1) Monk fix was Paizo actually - Soulknife is Dreamscarred Press.
    2) I never said it was T3. T4 is perfectly playable in most games. (See also: Warlock, Scout.) In high-power/high-OP games, you're better off with a SW Psywar bare minimum, and a Tashalatora Ardent for melee ideally.
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    I could see a PF Soulknife/Samurai/Iaijutsu Master being very fun. The scene would be like the Cantina scene in SW Episode 4:

    Thug approaches the character, picking a fight
    Thug: "Get out of my Seat"
    Character: "You don't want to fight me..."
    Thug: "But you're unarmed..."
    Character draws his mind blade and Iaijutsu slashes him for an Instant-Kill
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Core races (psionic and non-psionic) have been updated. I think for the "Other" races I'll stick with Faerun, Eberron and Planar Handbook, but I'll skip that for now and move onto PrCs.

    Any feedback is appreciated, particularly if you disagree with any of my ratings.
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Core races (psionic and non-psionic) have been updated. I think for the "Other" races I'll stick with Faerun, Eberron and Planar Handbook, but I'll skip that for now and move onto PrCs.

    Any feedback is appreciated, particularly if you disagree with any of my ratings.
    Xephs have something to bring to the table: Feats. Xeph Bladestorm is exclusive racial feat for them. For Higher Levels, a Xeph PF Soulknife 10/Kensei 10 would be amazing
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by Tokuhara View Post
    Xephs have something to bring to the table: Feats. Xeph Bladestorm is exclusive racial feat for them. For Higher Levels, a Xeph PF Soulknife 10/Kensei 10 would be amazing
    Good point; I had not, in fact, looked at any of the racial subs or feats when determining those ratings (as they are DM-dependent) but allowing them should tweak the ratings somewhat. More builds have room for them too since you get more feats in Pathfinder.

    I'll add them in when I do the ACF section, and perhaps change to a dual-rating system - one for the base race, and one with everything allowed.

    In addition, I'll throw in the Racial subs from Untapped Potential too, since it is written by the same authors as PsU.
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    This is a great start to the guide. I'd just like to point out that the Duergar entry is misformatted.

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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Does anybody see a reason why we still have to wait until 14th level to make a full attack at range with a mind blade? Also it still needs a better standard action attack option (but that is a standard problem in PF not just the SK).

    I agree on the too many options but most don't do too much. I see the the blade stuff and my eyes just glaze over from too much info and not a quick way to cut through the chaff. So I really like you making this guide so I can more easily look up what I would do if I took this so thanks and good luck!

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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Update: Core PrCs (both psionic and non-psionic) have been rated, and info on the Soulknife's Role has been added.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lateral View Post
    This is a great start to the guide. I'd just like to point out that the Duergar entry is misformatted.
    Thanks, and fixed.

    Quote Originally Posted by MeeposFire View Post
    Does anybody see a reason why we still have to wait until 14th level to make a full attack at range with a mind blade? Also it still needs a better standard action attack option (but that is a standard problem in PF not just the SK).
    I would honestly use the Soulbow, or wait for PsiEx's Soulbolt, to consider making the Soulknife range-focused. Throwing the mind blade seems to me intended to be an alternative attack for niche situations, rather than a dedicated build for the Soulknife. However, making the blade benefit from Powerful Build does open you up to a strength-based thrower (with the right PrCs.)

    The base Soulknife can do range, even aoe range; but as you've pointed out, doesn't really get good at it for awhile.

    Quote Originally Posted by MeeposFire View Post
    I agree on the too many options but most don't do too much. I see the the blade stuff and my eyes just glaze over from too much info and not a quick way to cut through the chaff. So I really like you making this guide so I can more easily look up what I would do if I took this so thanks and good luck!
    You're welcome!

    I'm truly excited to see what new Blade Skills PsiEx will bring to the table. I don't think any will really push it to T3, but the right ones could really help with the core issues of the class (i.e. having to choose between mobility and psychic strike in most cases.)
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    i made a group of lvl 8 heroes to challenge my group. they are all the most powerfull thing i could make in pathfinder. and one is a pure soulknife and i find it to be a real powerfull class.

    i can easily deal 5d6 damage plus 6 per hit and bump that up by 2d6/2d8 on a big hit. i see it as a powerfull class, or maybe im just a good optimizer.

    if you were wondering the mini/max party was:
    a summoner with the fused archtype that has massive HP.
    a cleric who summons about 60 HD worth of undead.
    The soulknife.
    A artificer that makes people explode from 6-7 squares away with a realy hard save.
    And a psion, but the psion might get swapped out.
    Last edited by Rentaromon; 2011-07-02 at 01:53 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Always been a fan of the Soulknife despite its flaws and good to see a handbook spreading the word that you can do fun things with it. My only point of contention is with the use of Orange in ratings, as I keep thinking its Gold as in Awesome like in other guides, which throws me off when I read the description on how subpar it is. Maybe that's just me but I thought I'd point it out.
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Update: Core PrCs (both psionic and non-psionic) have been rated, and info on the Soulknife's Role has been added.



    Thanks, and fixed.



    I would honestly use the Soulbow, or wait for PsiEx's Soulbolt, to consider making the Soulknife range-focused. Throwing the mind blade seems to me intended to be an alternative attack for niche situations, rather than a dedicated build for the Soulknife. However, making the blade benefit from Powerful Build does open you up to a strength-based thrower (with the right PrCs.)

    The base Soulknife can do range, even aoe range; but as you've pointed out, doesn't really get good at it for awhile.



    You're welcome!

    I'm truly excited to see what new Blade Skills PsiEx will bring to the table. I don't think any will really push it to T3, but the right ones could really help with the core issues of the class (i.e. having to choose between mobility and psychic strike in most cases.)
    Honestly I heart the soulbow it is just so cool and it made a specific build of soulknife decent. Still for the life of me I still can't see what they were afraid of when they made throwing knives so long in coming? Am I missing something and this is stronger than I think it is or is this some strange restriction that lingers on with no balance (or really fluff) basis?

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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by MeeposFire View Post
    Honestly I heart the soulbow it is just so cool and it made a specific build of soulknife decent. Still for the life of me I still can't see what they were afraid of when they made throwing knives so long in coming? Am I missing something and this is stronger than I think it is or is this some strange restriction that lingers on with no balance (or really fluff) basis?
    Your best bet is to PM Bacris, as he designed the fix or wait for the Soulbolt, which I have no doubt will put the Soulbow to shame. (DSP is, for the most part, really good at what they do.)

    Fluff basis I can actually somewhat see. The blade comes out of your mind, so sustaining it while it is not in contact with you should be pretty hard, like trying to read a book while it flies away from you. At least, that's how I'd see it. The blade always dissipates shortly after you let go, so clearly it must be actively maintained or at least be touching you in some way. "Throwing" one can't be easy, never mind several in succession.

    Crunchwise, the Soulknife has an inherent advantage when it comes to thrown weapons - they can toss magic ones and not worry about them flying out the window, breaking etc. How many adventurers would toss their +5 dagger, let alone several in succession? 50,000gp per shot isn't cheap. How about a +5 shocking burst weapon?

    In any event, it shouldn't be too hard to homebrew a feat that lets you ignore the level restrictions on Bladeskills, or let you take them earlier than normal; that would allow you to get Multiple Throw sooner.
    Last edited by Psyren; 2011-07-02 at 05:25 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Update: Added Racial subs for the Kalashtar, Xeph and Half-Giant. Also added the two Mind's Eye ACFs, and rundowns on Soulknives from the four Eberron races. Next I will add feats from a variety of sources - PsU/XPH, CPsi, Hyperconscious, Untapped Potential, Dragon Magazine, Eberron books and any Faerun ones that occur to me.

    I'm also kicking myself after reading Dragon 341 - the answer to the Soulknife knife-throwing conundrum was staring me in the face all this time. The Mind Daggers shape is designed to be the Soulknife's throwing weapon - it does little damage (1d4 medium) but can be formed unlimited times per round (allowing iteratives), has a full 30ft. range increment, and each pair formed carry the full enhancement bonus and assigned abilities of the standard blade. This lets you toss a barrage of, for example, Suppression daggers at a target, each of which would have a chance to dispel its protections.

    You can go on to throw the regular blade once you get access to Multiple Throw at 14, but the daggers shape has no level floor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cieyrin View Post
    Always been a fan of the Soulknife despite its flaws and good to see a handbook spreading the word that you can do fun things with it. My only point of contention is with the use of Orange in ratings, as I keep thinking its Gold as in Awesome like in other guides, which throws me off when I read the description on how subpar it is. Maybe that's just me but I thought I'd point it out.
    I've seen Orange = awesome in a couple of other guides too and it throws ME off. I've registered your objection but I still don't like Orange so bad it shall stay.

    If it makes you feel better, I moved Purple (my favorite color) to "really really good." Well, it makes me feel better anyway
    Last edited by Psyren; 2011-07-11 at 02:44 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    I just created a 9th level soulknife/1st psy warrior that can do big damage like this...

    1. half giant wielding a large twohander
    2. half giant casts expansion so he is now wielding a huge twohander
    3. +2 holy weapon
    4. power attack
    5. 4d8 psystrike... coz of bladeskill
    6. improved critical feat
    7. vital strike feat

    so when he is large his damage to an evil creature is:
    8d6(4d6 base dam*2 for vital strike) + 2d6 holy + 4d8 psychic strike + 20(12 from str*1.5 + 6 pw attack + 2 weapon enh)
    with a crit range of 17-20(x2)

    If I understand the rules correctly, his crit would do 12d6 + 2d6 + 4d8 + 40.

    I also use the feat that removes the pw attack penalty for the first attack. If I'm fighting something with really high AC that I'm unlikely to hit with my second swing I'll just use a move action every round to recharge my psychic strike and just swing once per round.

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    Default Re: [3.P] Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife

    Shouldn't Halflings be in the race section?

    Also that build Daernoth put I kept trying out rolls for the crit and I did not get less than 100 damage for the crits, thats pretty awesome.
    Last edited by Stone Heart; 2011-08-15 at 06:25 PM.
    Awesome Avvy courtesy of Beholder1995

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