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When a psion who follows the path of the kineticist reaches level 9 (or when any other psion or wilder reaches level 12 and takes Expanded Knowledge) they gain access to the psionic power fiery discorporation.

As long as the psion has 9 power points (and a way to manifest the power, either himself or with an item), and as long as there is a fire source somewhere near (like a carried torch or an eternal flame; perhaps stored in an extra-dimensional bag to keep it safe), the kineticist basically cannot die:

Any damage that would reduce you to 0 hit points or lower instead has a chance to discorporate you [...].

He will respawn to the nearest open flame ; there is no limitation specified about this by the way, the distance could even be extra-dimensional if necessary.

As a DM this poses two issues:

  • For PCs: How can I "scare" a kineticist during encounters? Players generally fear for their character's live and will be reluctant to sacrifice themselves to save others. A kineticist won't even hesitate because he can always resurrect freely without suffering from a level penalty and this can easily be exploited.
  • For NPCs: I'm suspecting a villain that can use this power could be a very dangerous adversary. Let's say the encounter happens in a molten fortress or a volcano, the PC cannot kill their enemy at all (especially if the enemy is under a dimensional anchor effect). How can I balance it to make it a fun and challenging encounter?
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I think you're making this harder than it should be with one of your premises. I wouldn't count something in an extradimensional space as "within 30 feet". Even if you are inclined to, I wouldn't consider something in a bag to be an open flame. –  mattdm Aug 24 at 12:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

No, I don't think he'd be immortal at all.

First of all, the rule says "You attempt a Will save (DC 5 + damage dealt)". Solution? Deal enough damage to make the save very risky and hard to make. Also, don't take even simple-looking saves for granted.

Second: this move can be played once against an unsuspecting, but clever opponent. The second time they'll do everything in their power to put your saviour flame out before dealing you the critical damage. A bucket of water on the door? A create water spell, or something more insidious, like control flames? There's a million ways to extinguish a fire source. Or perhaps they'll let you discorporate, then light their own fire a step away from where you disappeared, and just prepare and ready a warm welcome for your return...

Third: Diseases, poisons, debilitating effects, hold effects, polymorphing, transmutation, death effects, etc. Think about them. :)

Fourth: I'm not sure materializing in the middle of a volcano's half-mile wide lava pool would be a pleasant and easily survivable experience. Sure, it can be done with high level stuff... but if the villain is capable of that, he's capable of a lot of other things (that can give him very high chances of surviving attacks) besides using Fiery Discorporation.

Fifth: Just imagine that the nearest fire source is that of the flaming breath of an ancient red dragon. Good luck rematerializing in its mouth upon your return. :D

PS (an edit): As for going extraplanar, I'm not sure how that could be done. Sure, the flame could be in a bag of holding, but for the power to work, the bag should be open (otherwise your fire source is practically out of range), and unless you have someone to close your bag upon your discorporation, (the second part of) #2 becomes an option for your opponents.

Also, as @doppelgreener said in a comment (thanks!), the plane of fire could always prove unpleasantly close in case of extraplanar attempts...

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Build a bonfire inside of a cage, and see how much the psion likes reviving. –  Martin Epsz Aug 24 at 15:08
    
Putting fires out won't help, because there will always be the next nearest fire to recorporate in. All the other options stand. –  Jan Hudec Aug 24 at 20:29
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@JanHudec Not necessarily. The rule says "If you are within 30 feet of an open flame..." I wouldn't take it for granted that there will always be the next nearest fire within 30 feet. Especially if your opponent already knows about your little trick (has done his research thoroughly.) ;) –  OpaCitiZen Aug 24 at 20:41
    
@OpaCitiZen: That's an important addition; it was not mentioned so far either. –  Jan Hudec Aug 24 at 20:45
    
@JanHudec The question has a link to the exact rule in its first paragraph. I think you must have missed that. (Err, the color of the links of the site could be a bit more distinct indeed.) –  OpaCitiZen Aug 24 at 20:51

Only against really dumb enemies (or enemies who have failed their knowledge checks) who aren't smart enough to take advantage of a day's preparation.

You haven't read the full power description.

There is one critical point:

One day later, you reappear adjacent to an open flame nearest to the place where you discorporated,

Setting aside actually making the will save, the day duration is critical. This is the player going "whelp, I'm not going to contribute to the rest of this adventure."

It's fine if the party wins and can set up a camp fire and camps for a day. It is significantly less fine if the party has to run away and the player appears nearby, alone, without having rested, without any support.

Also, at Kineticist 5, the party cleric has access to Last Breath, and Raise Dead, both of which offer significantly better tactical flexibility.

Parties at this level only really need to be scared of of a bad enough TPK that no one would be willing to cast true resurrection for them (a wise party will have an insurance policy for this very possibility).

To address the two outcomes: for PCs, this isn't a problem. It's a less convenient last breath that presumes party control of the nearby environment for twenty-four hours.

For NPCs, this is the kind of trick which works exactly once. When the NPC returns the second time (presuming that she hasn't succumed to a save-or-lose), alongside the campfire the party has built.. she will be facing a completely rested and prepared party... with no additional capabilities, friends, or hope.

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