This column aims to provide players with tips on creating effective and interesting characters of various types. Whether you're a beginning player creating your very 1st character or an experienced gamer looking to put some punch into an old standby, this column is for you!
The ardent from Complete Psionic offers players a chance to play a deep-thinking character whose personal philosophy is so well developed that the character attains psionic powers. The class allows nearly any kind of character. An ardent can blast foes with energy attacks, be stealthy or subtly persuasive, serve as a healer or protector, or even function as a melee combatant.
When you chose an ardent, you have access to psionic powers and a few other useful abilities. Here's a brief list of things you'll have going for you when you choose an ardent --
The ardent's many advantages come at a price. Here are a few things to consider when thinking about an ardent character --
Playing a Classy Ardent
People who play great ardents usually keep the following in mind --
Choose Your Mantles Carefully
Don't pick a mantle lightly, especially when selecting your two primary mantles at 1st level. Start by deciding what sort of character you'd like to create. For example, if you plan to create a psionic powerhouse who can blast your party's foes, look for at least one mantle that provides you with offensive powers. Don't overlook the granted ability a mantle provides. These powers can give you an important edge when the going gets tough. A granted power also lends some depth to your character concept.
Once you've chosen your first mantle, choose a second that supplements or complements the first in some way. You can also choose a second mantle based on what suits your character concept. For example, if you want to serve as mobile artillery for your group, your first mantle might be the energy mantle, which includes the powers energy ray, energy push, energy bolt, energy burst, energy wall, energy manipulation, and energy wave. You also gain a granted power that gives you some energy resistance (when you expend your psionic focus).These are potent combat powers, and the granted ability gives helps you to resist energy-based counterattacks. You can expand your offensive options with the destruction or mental power mantles. Alternatively, you might want a mantle that gives you useful options when you enter combat or maneuver before combat. Some excellent companions to your energy mantle include the element mantle (which includes offensive, defensive, and utilitarian powers) and the freedom mantle (which provides excellent mobility).
You can use the methods described here to choose your secondary mantles when you gain them.
Remember Your Friends
No matter what kind of ardent you create, working well with your friends improves your chances for success and survival. The mantles you choose will determine how you get the most from your relationship with your comrades.
The Party's Main Fighter: Whoever has to stand in the front line and handle most of the fighting acts as a bulwark against danger for the more vulnerable members of the party, and that includes you. You have a good Armor Class and a respectable hit point total, but a few rounds of spirited melee will ruin your day.
If your selection of powers is primarily offensive, be ready to support those characters with your powers in case they get into trouble. When manifesting your powers, aim them so your friends aren't caught in their destructive effects. Nothing wears out your welcome faster than poorly aimed effects that hurt friends as well as (or instead of!) foes.
If your mantles don't run to offense, look for other ways to support your party's fighting characters. If you can provide healing, be generous with it. Few, if any, powers you can manifest are as effective as a fighting peer. A fighting character also benefits from ability enhancements or effects that harass or hinder their foes.
With the right selection of mantles, you might be able to handle some fighting yourself. If so, look for ways to share some of your psionic effects with your allies. If you can shorten a battle by enhancing your allies, you are more likely to survive the fight. Plan to work with fighting characters to identify dangerous foes and eliminate them quickly.
The Party Scout: Stealthy characters such as rogues, rangers, and monks often get in over their heads, so expect to be part of the rescue party when necessary. These characters also are quite good at flushing out targets for your psionic effects.
If you're serving as a scout, don't take unnecessary risks and try not to range too far ahead of your allies.
Other Spellcasters and Manifesters: You probably have more hit points and a better Armor Class than any arcane spellcasters or psionic characters in your group. Try to stay close enough to these characters so that you can protect them if a foe breaks through the front line.
Whenever possible, make spellcasters aware of what powers you have at your command and encourage those characters to choose daily spells that fill the gaps in your power selection and avoid too much duplication. When working with other manifesters (or with spellcasters who don't prepare spells in advance), work out a plan ahead of time for which character will use which power and when. For example, a massive volley of attack spells at the beginning of each fight probably is overkill and a waste of resources. It's more effective to divide up casting and manifesting tasks in some manner. A character with a high initiative bonus, for example, might loose an area attack. After that, other casters and manifesters can pick off the survivors.
Some Key Equipment
As an ardent, your gear is nearly as important as your spells, so don't neglect it. Here are some essentials --
About the Author
Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies and was the Sage of Dragon Magazine for many years. Skip is a co-designer of the D&D 3rd Edition game and the chief architect of the Monster Manual. When not devising swift and cruel deaths for player characters, Skip putters in his kitchen or garden (rabbits and deer are not Skip's friends) or works on repairing and improving the century-old farmhouse that he shares with his wife, Penny, and a growing menagerie of pets.
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