Psionic Class - Ardent
No two places in the multiverse are exactly alike. Creatures teem across a multitude of terrains, forming infinitely diverse ecologies. Despite the amazing variety displayed, however, some elements - or, as some call them, philosophies - persist. These fundamental concepts about the way things function have a basic truth to them that transcends any physical, emotional, or ideological boundary.
Some enlightened individuals have found that by acknowledging these concepts, they can tap a reserve of great power. These ideas, they believe, are the only constants throughout the multiverse; as such, they hold the potential to empower anyone who tries to understand them. Through the strength of their minds, these individuals can master these constants, and the great power they offer. They are known as ardents.
The philosophies ardents pursue include aspects such as life, death, annihilation, and fate, among others. Each ardent chooses a philosophy that seems the most powerful to her, personally, based on her experience and mental and emotional leanings. As a result, an ardent develops a unique understanding of her philosophy and approach to the pursuit of power.
An ardent gravitates toward a set of philosophical concepts suitable to her heritage, upbringing, and life experiences. Many mistake an ardent for a cleric or paladin, because she is often as enthusiastic about her personal philosophies as any divine missionary could be. Unlike a divine spellcaster who gains her power through a deity, an ardent directly taps the concepts the deity represents, bypassing any connection to a conscious higher power.
An ardent's pursuit of these cosmic philosophies gives her access to psionic power in a unique way: through psionic mantles. Each mantle is tied to one of the universal true concepts that an ardent so admires, and is represented by a specific list of psionic powers and abilities. An ardent gains access to new mantles as she gains levels, representing her growing awareness of the interconnected nature of core truths and a growing understanding of how the multiverse works.
All ardents focus on two mantles, known as their primary mantles. These concepts are those that an ardent finds most appealing or that possess the most potential power in her eyes. All other mantles are considered secondary mantles - philosophies certainly powerful and worthy of study, but not considered as central to the universe as the character's primary philosophies. Mantles are described more fully in Mantles.
The ardent's role in most groups is as a primary manifester, but she can contribute in other ways depending on the mantles she has selected. She might be able to provide healing to the party, for example, or augment her melee capabilities and wade into the front line of combat.
Abilities: Wisdom helps an ardent manifest the powers to which she will eventually have access, but she also values Intelligence, since it helps her learn more about the philosophical concepts with which she is enamored. Constitution is also important, giving her the stamina to travel and survive wherever her studies take her.
Races: Characters who feel inspired to become an ardent need to select their core philosophies and the mantles associated with them. Among the humanoid races, humans seem most apt to follow such a course. Ardents are rare among savage or monstrous humanoids, since being an ardent requires a philosophical mind and a certain amount of education in esoteric concepts and ideas.
Alignment: An ardent can be of any alignment. Some ardents worship deities and choose mantles in line with their deities' portfolio and domains; these characters also share some component of their patrons' alignments. In most other cases, ardents tend toward alignments that match their philosophical outlooks (few ardents who pursue the death mantle are good, for example).
Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) x 4.
Skill Points at each additional level: 2 + Int modifier.
Ardents master universal philosophies, drawing their power and strength from their knowledge of these concepts. They also gain unique powers from each mantle they learn to wield.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Ardents are proficient with all simple weapons, with all types of armor (heavy, medium, and light), and with shields (except tower shields).
Power Points/Day: An ardent's ability to manifest powers is limited by the power points she has available. Her base daily allotment of power points is given on Table 1-2: The Ardent. In addition, she receives bonus power points per day if she has a high Wisdom score (see Table 2-1: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Power Points, Expanded Psionics Handbook page 18). Her race might also provide bonus power points per day, as might certain feats and items.
Powers Known: An ardent begins play knowing two of the first powers available to her based on her choice of mantles. Each mantle features at least one power or ability with a cost of 1 power point. An ardent selects two of these powers from her two known mantles at 1st level.
At each additional level, an ardent learns one new power from her available mantles. She must be able to manifest the new power at the level at which she learns it, however. For example, an ardent who attains 5th level can learn any power from one of her mantles that costs 5 power points or less to manifest; she cannot learn a power from a mantle that costs more than 5 power points to manifest until she attains a level capable of manifesting a power with that cost.
To learn or manifest a power, an ardent must have a Wisdom score of at least 10 + the power's level. For example, an ardent with a Wisdom score of 13 can manifest powers of 3rd level or lower.
The total number of powers an ardent can manifest in a day is limited only by her daily power points. In other words, an 9th-level ardent (with a total of 72 power points, not including bonus power points for a high Wisdom score) could manifest a power costing 1 power point seventy-two times in one day, a power costing 9 power points eight times in one day, or any combination of power point costs that does not exceed 72 power points in total.
An ardent simply knows her powers; they are ingrained in her mind. She does not need to prepare them (in the way that some spellcasters prepare their spells), though she must get a good night's sleep each day to regain all her spent power points.
The Difficulty Class for saving throws against ardent powers is 10 + the power's level + the ardent's Wis modifier. For example, the saving throw against a 6th-level power has a DC of 16 + Wis modifier.
Mantles: The first two mantles an ardent selects are her primary mantles. All others gained are secondary mantles. Primary mantles represent the two philosophies the ardent feels most strongly about and champions above all others. An ardent must maintain at least as many powers in her primary mantles as she takes in her secondary mantles, reflecting that personal allegiance. An ardent cannot choose a power from a secondary mantle if doing so would give her more powers known from that secondary mantle than she knows from either of her primary mantles.
For example, an ardent has the Fate and Good mantles as primary mantles and the Law and Light and Darkness mantles as secondary mantles. When she gains a new level, she could only choose a power from one of her secondary mantles if she had fewer powers in those mantles than in either of her primary ones. The exception to this rule is that if the only choice an ardent can make at a given level would give her more powers in a secondary mantle than in a primary mantle. Under those conditions, that choice is allowed. An ardent can choose to swap the priority of two mantles - making one primary and one secondary - at 8th level, and again at 15th level. As an ardent gains experience, her worldview changes. Many find themselves more devoted to different concepts later in their careers. If an ardent knows fewer powers from a newly designated primary mantle, she must take powers known exclusively from that mantle at each of the next few levels until she has learned more powers from that mantle than the rest of the mantles she has.
Assume Psionic Mantle: An ardent chooses a pair of psionic mantles at 1st level and assumes one additional mantle at 2nd, 5th, 10th, and 15th level. Each mantle provides a list of powers (usually six or more) that an ardent can learn as she increases in level. Each mantle also provides an ardent with a special granted power. See Mantles for a compete listing.
Mantles represent a psionic distillation of a universal concept or philosophical idea that the ardents believe transcends the multiverse. These concepts exist beyond deities or any creation of a creature, whether mortal or immortal.
An ardent can select any mantle she wants over the course of her advancement, even choosing two that seem diametrically opposed to one another, such as Good and Evil. Such ardents might seem to embody a series of contradictions, constantly seeking ways to balance (or not) the conflicting philosophies they endorse. Other ardents who pursue this approach are merely scholars seeking to understand these powerful universal truths.
An ardent with both the Good and Evil (or Law and Chaos) mantles might share one or none of those alignment factors. For example, some good ardents seek to better understand the evil they combat by taking up the mantle of Evil, and the reverse is also true. Manifesting a power from an aligned mantle is considered an act of that alignment, however, so most ardents who take two opposed mantles are neutral.
Most of the powers provided by a mantle are psionic in nature. Some mantles feature new abilities unlike any psionic power in existence. These abilities are still treated as psionic powers in every respect, and always have a power point cost to manifest.
Playing An Ardent
Ardents are passionate adventurers and often see their involvement in a particular enterprise as a way to spread the knowledge of their personal philosophies, and to enlighten those who rely on less universally true sources for inspiration and guidance.
Ardents seeks signs of their philosophies everywhere. As such, they make excellent adventurers. They seek support for their beliefs everywhere, and naturally gravitate toward groups willing to brave danger to bring the light of (their) truth to the world. Communities with a strong religious presence sometimes take exception to ardents, believing that members of the class encourage people to divorce themselves from the churches. This behavior further encourages ardents to travel.
Religion: Ardents, as a rule, avoid religion. Most see deities as embodiments of the universal truths they pursue. As ardents seek to understand these truths, they might come to think of deities that share their interest as powerful kindred spirits, but not necessarily as superior beings. Only the universal philosophical concepts are truly worthy of devotion to an ardent.
That said, some ardents who share an especially similar devotion to that of a deity might show respect or even casual worship. For example, an ardent with the law, Magic, and Knowledge mantles might tithe to the church of Boccob or occasionally offer a prayer, although it would be couched more as a respectful expression of appreciation for the deity's mastery of these truths.
Other Classes: As natural travelers and adventurers, ardents seek out like-minded individuals. Ardents sometimes see their adventuring companions as the first converts to their view of enlightenment, but they, just as often leave their closest friends to a pursuit of their own personal truth. To an ardent, such a quest is the most notable and worthy deed anyone can pursue. That isn't to say that an ardent won't seek to sway others to her point of view, but most respect another's right to seek his own truth. Only the most corrupt and dark ardents seek to force others down the path they have chosen for themselves.
Ardents have a special fondness for the company of other knowledgeable individuals, such as wizards or psions. They are mostly ambivalent about other classes, although they might feel pity, disdain, or possibly unease around clerics, paladins, and druids. They tend to see divinely focused folk as lacking in vision, or at the very least as competitors for the ear of the masses.
Combat: An ardent's role in combat is defined by her choice of mantles. An ardent with the Conflict and Guardian mantles could easily use her powers and granted mantle abilities to wade into battle, mace swinging, while an ardent with the Energy or Mind mantle might be more comfortable manifesting devastating powers from the back ranks of her adventuring group.
Most ardents find that focusing on a single approach makes them more effective in combat. Because ardents select mantles based on their philosophical approach to the multiverse, however, ardents of all walks can be found.
No matter their approach to combat, ardents always face the same question other power wielders face: how many power points to spend in a given encounter. Unlike other psionics users, however, ardents can often tap their granted mantle abilities to supplement their power use, allowing them to conserve their energy when warranted.
Advancement: An ardent can select her mantles as she advances. Her career path, in some respects, is open until she selects her final mantle at 15th level.
An ardent's experiences tend to dictate her choices - a character devoted to diplomacy or subterfuge is less likely to take the Force mantle, for example, but anything is possible.
Feat choice varies wildly from ardent to ardent. Weapon-oriented ardents might choose Power Attack or Psionic Weapon, while ardents focused on dealing damage from afar might choose a number of metapsionic feats. Feats that modify a character's ability to use or expend her psionic focus, such as Psionic Meditation, are useful to any ardent with granted mantle abilities that deal with psionic focus.
|Ardent||Hit Die: d6|
|1st||+0||+0||+0||+2||Assume psionic mantles (2)||2||2|
|2nd||+1||+0||+0||+3||Assume psionic mantle||6||3|
|5th||+3||+1||+1||+4||Assume psionic mantle||25||6|
|10th||+7/+2||+3||+3||+7||Assume psionic mantle||88||11|
|15th||+11/+6/+1||+5||+5||+9||Assume psionic mantle||195||16|
Source: Complete Psionic
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