Discussion - General Discussion Thread '08

Knight Otu

Visitor
Question: Do we want to continue using the existing external Wiki? Or do we want to move over to the ENWiki? A few articles have already been moved here by Rae, but most aren't. It doesn't seem like there is all that much going on at the other wiki, either. Would there be more happening if the wiki were here?
 

orsal

LEW Judge
psicrystal feat ruling

Two related questions have come up in the process of character approval:
(1) The statblock given for a psicrystal (Psicrystal :: d20srd.org) has Alertness as a feat. Can a player substitute a different feat?
(2) As psicrystals gain hit dice, do they gain additional feats?

Arguments for yes and yes:
* The feat is not identified as a bonus feat in the statblock. That suggests it is a standard first-level (first-hit-die) feat. Such choices are considered typical but not mandatory.
* "A monster's total Hit Dice...govern its acquisition of feats and ability score increases." (Improving Monsters :: d20srd.org)

Arguments for no and no:
* The psicrystal rules say "Use the statistics for a psicrystal, but make the following changes." (Psion :: d20srd.org). No change to feats is listed.
* Familiars do not gain feats as they advance, and psicrystals are analogous to familiars.

Does anybody have any further insight into these questions? Know of an authoritative or semi-authoritative ruling?
 

Rae ArdGaoth

Visitor
Finals week, among other troubles, have kept me from enjoying the boards recently. It'll all be over soon, and I'll be back to full capacity.
 

Scott DeWar

Prof. Emeritus-Supernatural Events/Countermeasure
Finals week, among other troubles, have kept me from enjoying the boards recently. It'll all be over soon, and I'll be back to full capacity.
no worries. it is that time of the year. it is expected. in case it doesnt get said:
Happy Rama Hana Quasa Mas to all!!
 

Halford

Visitor
Two related questions have come up in the process of character approval:
(1) The statblock given for a psicrystal (Psicrystal :: d20srd.org) has Alertness as a feat. Can a player substitute a different feat?
(2) As psicrystals gain hit dice, do they gain additional feats?

Arguments for yes and yes:
* The feat is not identified as a bonus feat in the statblock. That suggests it is a standard first-level (first-hit-die) feat. Such choices are considered typical but not mandatory.
* "A monster's total Hit Dice...govern its acquisition of feats and ability score increases." (Improving Monsters :: d20srd.org)

Arguments for no and no:
* The psicrystal rules say "Use the statistics for a psicrystal, but make the following changes." (Psion :: d20srd.org). No change to feats is listed.
* Familiars do not gain feats as they advance, and psicrystals are analogous to familiars.

Does anybody have any further insight into these questions? Know of an authoritative or semi-authoritative ruling?
A long standing argument that is simply not settled within the rules. I believe it is rather simply to sort out if we consider a balanced approach.

Psi-crystals are at least as powerful as familiars, probably more so. Though it does cost a feat to acquire a Psi-crystal it is more versitile and better protected than a familiar, with hardness, a climb speed and the ability to be further improved with excellent static "familiar" bonus abilities. It later acquires a fly speed and the ability to serve as a translator to any creature with a language, even potentially to serve as a permanent mini Rary's Telepathic Bond.

In short to allow Psi-crystals feats would be to send them into the stratosphere compared to familiars.

Rules wise we might also consider that the same rules for monster advancement which grant feats also grant skill and save increases which a Psi-crystal specifically does not recieve.

Especially in this forum, which I have always been astonished allows Psionics given their power relative to SRD only classes, allowing feats, etc., for psi-crystals would be vergeing upon the ludicrous.

In my view Psi-crystals should be merged wholly into the familiar rule with the same rules upon destruction as well. But as I have mentioned rules wise Wizards did an incredibly poor job fleshing out the details.
 

Knight Otu

Visitor
My reading is that psicrystals do not get "real" Hit Dice, much like a familiar doesn't, with the unusual hit point calculation, which it shares with familiars, rather than hit points as a construct (I haven't checked, but there may easily be circumstances where a psicrystal has a lower hp maximum than a construct of its Hit Dice could have). Following from that, it doesn't gain any other benefits from Hit Dice other than what the psicrystal description states.

Likewise, I do believe that neither familiars nor psicrystals should have feat choices different from the base creature.
 
Psicrystal

It is my character that motivated the discussion about psicrystal feats. I am in the difficult position where I am arguing that I character option I have chosen is not over-powered. I recognize that given this self interest, one may ask what dirty trick I am trying to sneak past the judges.

Let me be upfront then. I swapped the psicrystal's first HD feat, which in the example given in the srd is Alertness, for Dodge. I intend to have the psicrystal take mobility when it reachs 3rd level. At 3rd level the psicrystal also obtains the Deliever touch powers abilities, since the psicrystal has 0' reach, this will help protect it against any AoO opportunities it draws for entering an opponites square to deliever a touch power.

To me it, the rules are clear. The psicrystal is an intelligent construct. All inteligent constructs have feats based on the number of hit dice they have. The psicrystal has special rules for skill points, saves, and hit points. But feats and BAB are not modified from the standard rules.

Familiars have their own Hit Dice depending on the type of animal it is. For effects that depend on Hit Dice the master's class level may be substituted if it is higher. These are the psuedo hit dice Knight Otu referred to. Contrast this to the Druid's Animal companion, which as it gains its bonus hit dice acquires the benfits of those dice (such as skill points and feats.)

To me the rules concerning psicrystal construction are clear that they receive feats just as any other intelligent creature does, depending on their hit dice. It is then that Halford's question should be addressed, is the psicrystal unbalancing?

I do not agree with his assertion that psionics is over powered compared to the other base classes. However, that is neither here nor there.

I do agree that the rules concerning the destruction of a psicrystal are not provided, and they really must be adopted before it happens to any of the characters on LEW. I would ague against adopting the familiar rules however, it is the loss of XP and the long waiting period that often make the familiar too much of a liability to the wizard or sorcerer.

I will not argue that the psion's psicrystal is not better than the wizard's familiar. Hardness 8 and telepathic speech at level 5 is rather nifty. I do think that the opportunity cost for the psicrystal has been dismissed to easily.

The psicrystal requires a feat to obtain, really then we should not be comparing the psicrystal to a regular familiar, but to the improved familiars which also require a feat to obtain. In such a case, the psicrystal is not so much obviously better.

Look at the the 5th level wizard with an small earth elemental familiar, or a 7th level wizard with a ice mephit familiar. Both are probably going to come out ahead of the psion's psicrystal. (Especially that Ice Mephit)
 

Halford

Visitor
While I appreciate your point Dire Tadpole, that it is an intelligent construct and should gain benefits as such I believe there are several points that make the intent clear - although the rules are not.

If it were in fact supposed to gain abilities as a leveled up construct it ought also to gain saves as such. It does not.

If it were in fact supposed to gain abilities as a leveled up construct it ought also to gain skills as such. It does not.

If it were in fact supposed to gain abilities as a leveled up construct it ought also to gain hp as such. It does not.

All of these things are exactly the same as a familiar.

I play a Psion in a game where all the books are allowed and my group considers Kiro, my Psi-crystal, to be vastly overpowered without feats.

The argument that Psi-crstals cost a feat to get and as such should be better than familiars is also highly suspect in my book. A Psi-crystal is effectively three feats for the price of one, you gain alertness, the personality benefit all of which are as good as a feat in their own right, and a Psi-crystal. If there is a better feat available please let me know what it is because I'll be damned if I can think of one! Improved Familiar is not on a par in my view as it takes away the familiar benefit, the choices are limited by alignment, and it requires a more coveted higher level feat slot - I believe you still keep alertness? Psi-crystals are of course available at first level.

Lets take the example of that earth elemental and compare it to a ninth level Psi-crystal, because effectively that is whn a creature available at 7th level becomes available due to feat progression. The Psi-crystal is more durable, thanks to hardness, can fly, can converse with and translate for any creature with a language, and can enable silent telepathic communication between the party at will. The earth elemental can earth glide - which is not to be sniifed at.

It is also worth noteing that in the Psi-crystal advancement entry there is a dash. To me this very clearly implies that they advance only in the same manner as familiars.

Additionally there has never been a Psion published by Wizards with a Psi-crystal advanced with feats.

The real question is are Psi-crystals supposed to be close analogues of familiars or not. I think it is clear that they are, they were even gained as a class feature back in 3rd edition, and even by that interpretation they are far superior.
 
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Psicrystal Feats

I see that there are two points being made. 1) Since the psicrystal is a close analogue to the familiar, and a familiar does not gain hit dice as its master advances, a psicrystal does not gain hit dice as it's master advances. 2) A psicrystal is such a good feat choice anyway, allowing a psicrystal to have feats for its hit dice is overpowering.

Halford said:
If it were in fact supposed to gain abilities as a leveled up construct it ought also to gain saves as such. It does not.

If it were in fact supposed to gain abilities as a leveled up construct it ought also to gain skills as such. It does not.

If it were in fact supposed to gain abilities as a leveled up construct it ought also to gain hp as such. It does not.
You are right that in these respects the psicrystal is similar to the familiar, there are other similairites as well such as the psicrystal granted abilities, that make it clear the psicrystal is modeled after the familiar. However, the examples provided are also explicitly mentioned to be execeptions to the normal monster generation rules.

Yet even the familiar gains feats according to its hit dice. It is just the familiar never gains any additional hit dice from being a familiar. A psicrystal however, does have a number of hit dice based on the number of hit dice it's master has.

It is undeniable that the the sample psicrystal given in the SRD has the Alertness feat. Even if the sentiment of the judges turned against allowing the psicrystal's feats for its hit dice, I am sure, psicrystal's would still be allowed that feat. Where did it come from?

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/intro.htm said:
A monster gains feats just as a character does. Sometimes a creature has one or more bonus feats, marked with a superscript B (B). Creatures often do not have the prerequisites for a bonus feat. If this is so, the creature can still use the feat. If you wish to customize the creature with new feats, you can reassign its other feats, but not its bonus feats. A creature cannot have a feat that is not a bonus feat unless it has the feat’s prerequisites.
Normally monsters have feats from two sources, from their Hit Dice, or a bonus feats. The psicrystal, as has been noted, also has some special generation rules.

The alertness feat given in the example is not marked with a superscript B, so it is not a bonus feat. None of the psicrystal rules, give the psicrystal the alertness feat. The alertness feat in the example psicrystal (which is marked as being for a 1st level manifester) comes from its 1 HD.

Halford said:
I play a Psion in a game where all the books are allowed and my group considers Kiro, my Psi-crystal, to be vastly overpowered without feats.

The argument that Psi-crstals cost a feat to get and as such should be better than familiars is also highly suspect in my book. A Psi-crystal is effectively three feats for the price of one, you gain alertness, the personality benefit all of which are as good as a feat in their own right, and a Psi-crystal. If there is a better feat available please let me know what it is because I'll be damned if I can think of one!
I will not argue that the psicrystal affinity feat is not a good feat. I agree that it is. Your are right that personality benfits are equivalent to a skill focus or one of the save improvement feats (but then the familiar benefits are the same.) To a character that would have chosen to take alertness or one of the the skill focusefeats anyway (and not to meet some prerequisite), psicrystal affinity is a a great bargain. However, for those characters that would not have chosen such a feat, they are nice benefits.

But let us pull back from that discussion, and look at it from another angle. Does allowing the psicrystal feats for its hit dice make it significantly more powerful? With one exception, I do not believe so.

That exception is Leadership. In practice, if a psicrystal was allowed to take leadership it would be the same as giving it to the PC for free. Other than that, what feats are left that the psicrystal meets the requirements for? Do they make the psicrystal overpowered?

(The problem with leadership is the same for the druid's animal companion or the paladin's special mount as they gain HD.)
 

Trouvere

Visitor
I apologise for forgetting about the psicrystal issue. Dire Tadpole has probably long since turned into a Dire Frog waiting.

I'm still not sure of the RAW/RAI ins and outs, and I think there is nothing that resolves the issue one way or another, since the argument has raged on various boards for years.

But I share Knight Otu's view as to how we should run psicrystals in LEW. That is, as a creature with an intelligence score, a psicrystal definitely gains one feat, which should be the default of Alertness, but its later familiar-like pseudo-HD do not grant any more feats.

We do have the weak in-LEW precedent of Rystil's characters' psicrystals, since their stats are not listed at all - and surely they would have been if they had different or additional feats? I suppose Psychic Reformation could be used to switch out the default Alertness feat eventually, in any case.
 

covaithe

Visitor
As an outsider who's not terribly well versed in psionics, I find myself unconvinced by the arguments that a psycrystal should get additional feats or be able to choose something besides alertness for its opening feat. I might be willing to consider it as a proposal for a house rule, which if it were passed would allow DT's character to switch it out retroactively, but I think the default interpretation has to be that psycrystals only get alertness.
 

Knight Otu

Visitor
Has anyone heard from Halford? It's been a while since he's been online. If not, a question to the judges, is Halford's proposal detailed enough to be successfully run by another DM?
 

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