The Vitalist: I want to believe (that it's not OP)


Advice and Rules Questions


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So my group may or may not be starting up another game, and I may or may not be planning to play a psionic monk of some sort in it.

I was looking at the best way to multiclass for that goal, and ran across Vitalist. My first thought was that I wished I'd read it before the current game, as I may well have chosen to play a Vitalist rather than a Psion. My second thought was "Wow, this is really strong." My third thought was, "Uh, this... may be a little *too* strong..." My fourth thought was somewhere along the lines of "Holy *$@#!ing @%#& this is outrageously OP."

So I went and googled it, to see if other people were deriding it as massively overpowered. And to my surprise... I couldn't find a single instance of that. Which is weird, because I've seen people complaining about *Monks* being overpowered, and that's just crazy talk. I saw people recommending the class, seemingly without reservation, and I'm... confused.

Am I missing something? Let me give you my analysis, and tell me what you think.

So, first, it's a full manifester, d6 hit die, 1/2 BAB class. It gets the same power points as a Psion, but with a much more limited powers list. Unlike a Psion--or any other psionic class, really--a Vitalist can change their known powers every morning when they recover power points. There is no restriction on the level these powers can be (Such as there is with say, Psychic Reformation).

So far, I consider that quite strong. Maybe not unbalanced, but being able to shift powers each day isn't really fully counteracted by the limited list or small count of powers known. I wouldn't call it OP yet, but that's... really quite good. I'd make that trade and consider myself to have come out ahead, personally.

Then we get to class features. Which are *also* really strong, on top of being a full manifester who can change powers every day.

First off is the Collective. Which is a REALLY NEAT mechanic. I love it, I want to marry it. It basically lets you split healing across the party in whatever way you want. That's cool! In no way a problem, just a neat feature.

But then it gets improved.

At second level, you get the class feature "Spirit of Many". This grants you a bonus augment you can apply to any power with the Network descriptor. That augment is as follows:
"Augment: For every additional power point you spend, you can choose an additional target, so long as the target is a member of your collective."

Holy...! Well... I mean, OK. That's a multiplicative bonus with a stupidly cheap cost, but there aren't that many powers with the Network descriptor so maybe it's not that bad... I mean, you could use the Network Power metapsionic, but that costs 4 points so...

Then you go back and read the "Medic Powers" class feature, and realize that "The following powers gain the Network descriptor when manifested by a vitalist: all powers of the [healing] subdiscipline, animal affinity, biofeedback, body of iron, endorphin surge, expansion, oak body, physical acceleration, sustenance, suspend life, timeless body, and vigor."

FUUUUUU...

So you're telling me that I can, for a mere 5 power points, grant my ENTIRE 5 person party DR 2/- with Biofeedback? I can manifest Expansion on anyone in tha party, or multiple people in the party at once? I can effectively grant the entire party Barbarian Rage with Endorphin Surge? Hey wait, did that say EVERY power of the [Healing] subdiscipline? Holy...

See, in case you're not the sort who sees something like that and realizes how mathematically powerful it is, allow me to explain.

Natural Healing is a level 1 power, and it's going to be a Vitalist's bread and butter. It heals 3 hp per power point you spend on it. Nothing huge, but very reliable. You can manifest it on anyone in your party, obviously, due to network. But you can *also* copy it across the party. Normally if you spent say, 10 pp to manifest this, you would get 30 hp of healing, which since you're a vitalist, you can spread however you like among the party. But if you were to say, spend 1 point to manifest it, 5 points to augment the healing to 18 hp, and then another 4 points to use your special Vitalist augment and make it apply to all 5 of your party members... You heal EACH member for 18 hp, which means you spend the same 10 points, but heal *90* hp, instead of 30.

That gets even more outrageous with Body Adjustment and empower and maximize and such. I believe it caps out at healing a 5 person collective for something close to 700 hp at level 20.

You may be saying, "But you're talking total HP healed and that's disingenuous because each person is only being healed for 18." and you'd be right, except that a Vitalist can freely split (Or combine) healing applied to any member of their party. So they could put the whole amount into healing one person, if they want.

Now, I'd be willing to buy the argument that combat healing in general is weak to the point of near uselessness, so having the Vitalist be really good at it isn't a major problem. But all those other spells... Iron body gives DR 15/adamant, for instance. That's a bit insane to be able to grant to the entire party. And we're also not done.

They also get an at-will vampiric touch attack which has NO SAVE at level 3. If they make the touch attack, they do the damage (And heal the party). On it's own, not completely out of line, but it's pretty strong. It's particularly good in a campaign where you'll be fighting mostly monsters, rather than PC race types with PC classes, as most monsters have poor touch AC.

The Vitalist also gets a class feature which mimics Quivering Palm but is better in most respects, allows you to heal the party at the same time, and they get it at level 14, 2 levels earlier than Monk gets Quivering Palm. The biggest limiter on it is that it outright cannot work against anything with 140hp or more. This is pretty limiting against monsters, where bosses are going to have way more HP than that, but if you're playing a more intrigue based campaign where the bad guys are mostly PC races with PC classes, very few are going to have more than 140 hp.

So you have one ability that's really quite good in a largely monster based campaign, and another that's really great against "humanoid" type campaigns. That's really quite good. And combine it with the other things the class gets and... I mean, it's starting to feel more than a little OP to me.

But wait, there's more!

All of that I could maybe think is... strong but... maybe not completely absurd, but then we get into their "method" abilities.

If they choose to go with Guardian Method, at level 6 they can spend 1pp and give the whole party DR 2/-. This only lasts one round, but it's a FREE ACTION. So there's literally no reason to ever not use it every single round. That DR increases by +1 for every 3 levels the vitalist gains beyond level 6. At level 20 they basically give the party permanent DR 6/-. I mean, yeah, it costs 1 pp, but that's nothing.

And at level 11, they get to add two different bonus augments to the Empathic Feedback power. Let me point out that Empathic Feedback is *really strong*, even just on its own. But you add these augments to the text of it:
"If you spend 6 additional power points, this power may be manifested as an immediate action.
If you spend 4 additional power points, the damage dealt to the attacker is subtracted from the damage you take."

The immediate action thing is nice, but not staggering. The second one is BAT$#!^ insane. Empathic Feedback costs 7 to manifest for a Vitalist, or 5 if you use Expanded Knowledge to snatch it off the Psychic Warrior list. Assuming you did the latter, and you have Overchannel, you can spend 5 to manifest it, 3 to increase the damage it returns to the attacker to 1/2, and 4 to cause it to reduce the damage you take by the amount reflected, at level 11. And you only need to overchannel by one point. So you take only half damage from melee attacks, and the attacker eats the other half. At level 13 you become *completely immune to melee damage* with this. 5pp to manifest, 6 to augment it so that it returns the FULL damage dealt by the attacker, and then another 4 to get your special damage reduction augment. Any damage dealt to you in melee is returned completely. You take none of it, the attacker takes all of it. You eat 3d8 overchannel damage, but do you really care, considering what you can do with Natural Healing and Body Adjustment?

The other Methods all have similarly broken (IMO) things. Intercessor Method lets you give the whole party +2 competence on attack and weapon damage rolls, which goes up to +3 at level 12, an +4 at level 18. That's not huge, but it also gives a morale bonus against charm and fear effects, and you can easily keep it up throughout an entire fight, and it costs you no actions to do so. And it's a competence bonus that stacks with weapon enhancements and such.

Alternatively you can choose to apply the effects of the Sanctuary spell to the entire party instead.

Mender Method increases the HP you restore with a power with the Healing descriptor by 50%, which works on non-random healing quantities, and stacks with Empower Power for random quantities.

Amazingly, that's probably the least broken method.

So, is there something I'm missing here that balances this class's power out? It seems unreasonably strong to me, but no one seems to be complaining about it at all.

It's sort of sad because it's REALLY NEAT, and I want it to be balanced because I'd quite like to play it, but I have trouble convincing myself it's not broken. Anyone want to try and convince me? ;)


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The changing powers known each day is basically the same thing as a cleric choosing different spells each day from the cleric spell list and not at all broken.

Those 5 PP you spent on biofeedback for the whole party costs the equivalent of 5 1st level powers, or 1 3rd level power. Once you realize exactly how finite a resource PP are, this can become a problem if you spend all your PPs on it and have none left to actually manifest your powers when needed.

you also seem to be forgetting the golden rule of psionics (Page 137 in Ultimate Psionics): that you cannot spend more power points on a single power than your manifester level. so at 20th level your body adjustment example costs you 19 PP (3 for the power, 4 to network it to 4 additional collective members, +4 for maximize, +2 for empower, +6 to augment it 3 times(you can't further augment it 'cuz that would put you over your limit of 20PP), and would heal all 5 of you for 90 HP each (4d12 maximuzed and empowered). That's more PP than manifesting a 9th level power. A far cry from being broken.

As long as you keep the golden rule of psionics in mind, none of the Vitalist's abilities are anywhere near broken.


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My "something close to 700hp" figure was me remembering math I'd done hours earlier today, which included the Mender Method's additional +50% bonus.

Allow me to break down the math.

With overchannel, a manifester may break the golden rule by 3 points at level 20. Thus, you may spend up to 23 points.

23 -4 for maximize -2 for empower -3 for activation -4 for extra target augments leaves you with 10 points. Enough for 5 +1d12 augments.

6d12 maximized and empowered is 6*18 = 108

Multiplied by 5 targets, you heal for 540 hp.

If you chose the Mender Method, you multiply that by 1.5, and heal for 810 hp.

I should note that this goes up significantly if you were to, say, take on a couple of hirelings and add them to your collective (Considering you're level 20, you could actually have 11 people in your collective, including yourself, but I haven't done a full spreadsheet on the subject so I'm not sure where you stop seeing returns).

23 - 4 for maximize - 2 for empower - 6 for extra targets -3 for activation = 8, which allows 4 1d12 augments. 5 * 18 = 90, *7 targets = 630, * 1.5 for the mender method = 945hp.

Yes, 23 power points is more than a 9th level power, but that's a LOT of hp. And as a Vitalist you have PP equal to that of a Psion (A class I'm quite used to playing, and have no issues with in terms of their balancing, so please don't assume I'm anti-psionics). You can manifest a 23 point power something like 17 times per day, assuming 20 wisdom, which you absolutely should have with this class at level 20.

The Vitalist is not poor in power points.

And as I stated in my first post, the healing is really the least of my concerns. It's that they can heal that powerfully in addition to all the other amazingly powerful things they can do.


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Not thinking you were anti-psionic, sorry if that's the way it came off. I'm actually glad to see someone else on here supporting Ultimate Psionics.

A 20th level cleric casting mass heal cures 200 HP to any number of creatures in range (no set limit on number of targets) + removes a boatload of conditions at the same time, for a 9th level spell. If applied to 6 targets that's 1200 HP of healing, if applied to 30 targets, that's 6000 HP of healing. compared to that, the vitalist is losing big time... except for the greatly enhanced range of the collective (multi-dimentional at 19th level IS a bit much, but how often is that really gonna matter), which IMO brings them back to roughly even.

If you really compare all the Vitalist abilities and power selection to all those of the other Main Healers (Clerics and Oracles, and to a lesser extent Druids), [BAB, hitpoints, mysteries, domains, spell selection, weapon/armor prof, etc] the Vitalist actually seems to be slightly weaker in overall power, but much more flexible with the power that it has.

That to me is true with all of the psionic classes. They're slightly weaker overall than an equililant non-psionic class, but more flexible with the power that they have. That's also what makes them better IMO than the non-psionic classes. Not the power, but the flexability.
Anyway, that's what I think.


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The reason the vitalist seems so scary is that it does something no other class can do: heal efficiently during combat.


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The healing over your collective range and being able to divide healing as you will (with willing targets) does a lot.

I played with a vitalist in the group once. Hp damage meant nothing, so every enemy started dealing insane amounts of damage per hit or just straight didn't deal HP damage.

Undead and constructs are the bane of vitalists, but having a useless member in the group isn't much fun for anyone.

The main problem is balance. Either the vitalists doesn't have fun because they do nothing, the party never gets challenged ever, or you play mythic style rocket tag.


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It really isn't the Vitalist's healing that scares me. At least, not on its own.

I'll agree that the Cleric's Mass Heal can recover more total HP, but remember that a Vitalist can concentrate all that healing into one target if he wants. I also ran the numbers (Because I'm obsessive like that) and determined that the optimal point for Body Adjustment (At least with Empower and Maximize) is a 9 person collective, including the Vitalist himself.

It allows for 23 - 3 - 4 - 2 - 8 = 6, so 3 extra d12s. Result = 4 * 18 * 9 = 972. You lose power trying to add more after that.

But that's sort of irrelevant.

Also, I feel compelled to point out that the Vitalist's ability to change powers each morning is NOT like the cleric's. It's much more powerful. Since he's not limited to spell slots, he can use any of the powers he's set to "known" for the day, as many times as he wants, at least until his PP run out.

More importantly, however, the wording of the Vitalist's class feature *does not* restrict the level of the powers he chooses. If he is level 17 and can manifest level 9 powers, he can, going by the rules as written, choose to pick all 10 of his powers known from the level 9 powers on the Vitalist powers list. He need not pick powers based on what he could have known at a given level of progression, as would be the case with Psychic Reformation (Which, interestingly, allowed these sorts of shenanigans in 3.5, but DSP chose to explicitly limit it when porting it to Pathfinder).

A Cleric has to split his powers by level, and must prepare an exact number of each spell, which are gone when he uses them. Vitalist essentially combines the Cleric's ability to prepare from his entire spell list, with the Sorcerer's ability to spontaneously cast, and then some (As the sorcerer is still limited to having X of level 1, Y of level 2, etc).

Psions have always worked like an even more flexible Sorcerer of course, but combining that with an utterly free form ability to reshuffle your powers list every day is maybe a *bit* much.

I'm willing to buy that their limited list and low count of powers they can "know" at any one time act as a balance to that, but it's still leaning towards strong.

Which when you combine it with their monster healing ability, an at-will damaging touch attack, a quivering palm analogue, and then things like the ability to network and add extra targets to powers that were designed as self-only for a half BAB class? I get... concerned.

It's the total package that I find to be worrisomely good, I think.

I mean... As a thought experiment, not that anyone is ever likely to play this in a game because it wouldn't be fun--except maybe in a solo game with nothing but hirelings as companions--but...

OK. I have an 9 person collective. I don't bring them with me. I'm 15th level or higher, they only have to be on the same plane of existence for me to make use of them. I go adventuring by myself. They stay home.

I have d6 hit points, it's true... But I can manifest Vigor for an extra 75hp, which last a minimum of 15 minutes (More if I'm higher than level 15). I can manifest Share Pain, and the target in my collective doesn't have to be within touch range. There's also nothing in Share Pain's text preventing me from doing this with multiple members of my collective, and if I'm level 15+, this power lasts basically all day.

So when I get up in the morning I manifest Share Pain 8 times, and I know take 1/8th of any damage I receive. The rest goes to my collective. I manifest Vigor at the beginning of any fight, and gain 75 hp, or more, if I'm higher level, or use overchannel, which I might as well, really.

If I went Guardian Method, I can throw up Empathic Feedback and make myself utterly immune to melee attacks.

I mean, this is all just off the top of my head. If I were *really* trying to break it, I could do worse. But I'm damn hard to kill at this point, unless the DM is building something specifically to kill me. And I still have plenty of PP for tossing Concussion Blast and whatever else I might feel like. And even if I run out of PP I can still use Steal Health for free.

It's... it's just a little bit over the top, to me.


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N.B. Just because you can break a class doesn't mean you have to. If you see something you think is broken, don't take it, or don't use it at maximum efficiency, or whatever.

Just ... hold back.


kellyR wrote:
I mean, this is all just off the top of my head. If I were *really* trying to break it, I could do worse. But I'm damn hard to kill at this point, unless the DM is building something specifically to kill me. And I still have plenty of PP for tossing Concussion Blast and whatever else I might feel like. And even if I run out of PP I can still use Steal Health for free.

If you really want overpowered healing, try a level 2 vitalist (getting the spirit of many ability) and couple it with magical healing.

Take a mass heal, applied to everyone in your collective, and then redirect that to anyone you want that is also in your collective.


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Quote:
but remember that a Vitalist can concentrate all that healing into one target if he wants.

Being able to shunt all that healing on to one person doesn't matter in the slightest for the simple reason that nobody has that much HP in the first place. Even a 22 con Barbarian 20 with favored class bonus in HP and the Toughness feat doesn't hit 300 HP before a rage.

Shadow Lodge

260 HP before Toughness, going with an average roll(7 for a d12). After Toughness it's 280 and with FCB in HP it is an even 300.


I calculated using 6.5 (alternating 6 and 7 if it was actually played), but it's irrelevant to the point.


its an ok class, not really op, most of its useful abilities are gained at 1st/2nd level and after a 1 or 2 level dip i move on to something better like a cleric, oracle or paladin who can then use the abilities from vitalist to just redirect healing over to the people that need it most


kellyR wrote:
Psions have always worked like an even more flexible Sorcerer of course, but combining that with an utterly free form ability to reshuffle your powers list every day is maybe a *bit* much.

Yet still they are limited by their power point pool. If they take nothing but a list of the top level powers they can choose they are seriously limiting the number of times they can manifest that day. Also, at level 10 they only know 6 powers, 11 at level 20. There's feats of course to take more but that trades away other options they have. I would really call it a stretch to say that is OP.

kellyR wrote:
So when I get up in the morning I manifest Share Pain 8 times, and I know take 1/8th of any damage I receive.

Share pain is very specific in that it specifies "you and one willing creature", also, it has a built in specified range restriction where if you go beyond close range the effect ends. The rules of share pain are quite specific, so I say by the rule of thumb "specific trumps general" no way Jose. I would also say that stacking it 8 times is cheesier than a Kraft factory and all that you would accomplish doing it 8 times is switch who your chosen participant is and waste a bunch of PP.


Random question, someone told me they were able to manifest Metamorphosis to their collective. I'm pretty sure there's no way to do that. Can anyone confirm?


Yropro wrote:
Random question, someone told me they were able to manifest Metamorphosis to their collective. I'm pretty sure there's no way to do that. Can anyone confirm?

no they can only do so with things that don't have a range of personal so unless they are getting rid of metamorphosis' range of personal they can not however if they do find a way then sure


Right, that's what I was trying to find out, if there was a way.

I'm pretty confident there isn't.


Lady-J wrote:
Yropro wrote:
Random question, someone told me they were able to manifest Metamorphosis to their collective. I'm pretty sure there's no way to do that. Can anyone confirm?
no they can only do so with things that don't have a range of personal so unless they are getting rid of metamorphosis' range of personal they can not however if they do find a way then sure

Technically it's things that have a range other than personal OR which have the Network property.

So either the Network Power or the Shared Power metapsionics would allow this.


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Quote:
So when I get up in the morning I manifest Share Pain 8 times, and I know take 1/8th of any damage I receive.

You are breaking stacking rules.


If only characters only had to worry about hit points, yes, Vitalist could be considered OP. But, nope. Imagine the party runs into some Shadows. Strength damage. Now take a look at the powers available to a Vitalist and help the party handle that in combat. Vitalists do hit points GREAT. But negative statuses and ability damage? Yeah....not so much. It's a nice balancing aspect.

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