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Can the Manyshot feat work to allow you to apply the Psychic Strike soulknife class feature and the Greater Psionic Shot feat to all the arrows?

The hang-up is that you are creating 3 arrows so you charged one arrow... but now all of a sudden, you are doing 3 at once with the exact same attack roll.

The players think that yes, it applies to all 3 arrows for everything. But I'm not certain how this all works, as the two abilities were written with them only working with one single attack at a time.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Kevin. Since you can ask multiple questions, we require questions to focus on one specific problem. You can ask your second question separately in another question. I've edited this down to just the first question. Also, it would help to clarify what you've done so far to find this out and where you're stuck, if anywhere. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 15 '21 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ A relevant forum thread that I came across in my Googling: Psionic Shot, Psychic Strike, and the Manyshots \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jun 15 '21 at 20:30
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The Rules

I'm going to assume the character in question is a Soulbow, because a Soulknife can't use Manyshot with a mind blade.

This effect deals an extra 1d8 points of damage to the next living, nonmindless target he successfully hits with a melee attack (or ranged attack, if he is using the throw mind blade ability).

It's also worth pointing out that the Soulbow's mind arrow class feature has the line

A mind arrow can be charged with a psychic strike as if it were a mind blade.

Technically, this doesn't remove the melee-only restriction on psychic strike. This, however, is a particularly obtuse reading of the rules, so I'm going forward assuming that a Soulbow can, in the general case, apply psychic strike to ranged mind arrow.

As you point out, both psychic strike and Psionic Shot only apply to your next attack after doing a thing (spending a move action, for psychic strike; expending your focus, for Psionic Shot). Since both abilities only apply to a single attack, the natural question is this: is Manyshot one attack, or multiple attacks?

The Player's Handbook defines an attack as

Any of numerous actions intended to harm, disable, or neutralize an opponent. The outcome of an attack is determined by an attack roll.

This connects a single attack with a single roll, which would seem to support reading Manyshot as a single attack. Manyshot itself, however, says that

Damage reduction and other resistances apply separately against each arrow fired.

which is the behavior of multiple, separate attacks.

Either way, however, the result is the same. Either Manyshot is a single attack, in which case the bonus damage gets applied a single time, or it is multiple attacks, in which case the the bonus damage gets applied only to the first arrow, because psychic strike and Psionic Shot both only apply their damage to one attack (per move action or psionic focus spent). The only difference between the two abilities is that Psionic Shot gets spent even if you miss, whereas psychic strike only gets spent if you hit.

For either ability to apply to all the arrows, they'd need to be worded something like "Your attacks this round deal +2d6 damage," if you think Manyshot is multiple attacks, or "Your arrows deal +2d6 damage on your next attack," if you think Manyshot is a single attack. As it stands, however, I can't see a reading of these abilities that would let either Psionic Shot or psychic strike apply more than once to a Manyshot volley.

How Should You Rule It?

So the rules say no, but should you? That, I think, depends entirely on the power level of your campaign. A Soulbow can put out very respectable damage, and...not much else. They have the skills to be a scout, kind of, though no trapfinding. And once damage dealers start optimizing, things look bleaker for the Soulbow; there aren't a huge bevy of options for a WIS-based damage dealer, unlike some Barbarian with a greatsword. (People often say extra arms gives a Soulbow extra mind arrows; reading "must have a free hand" as "free hands give extra attacks" is a bit, uh, blatantly unfounded, but it does show that people often want Soulbow to be a bit better than it is.)

If the Soulbow is consistently outperforming other damage-focused characters, then you should probably enforce the rules as they're written (though if you do, give the Soulbow the option to swap out the relevant feats). If the Soulbow is struggling to contribute, on the other hand, then I say let Manyshot double/triple/quadruple damage from Psionic Shot and psychic strike. Multiple feats and setup in the form of a move action + psionic focus is a steep cost, so a steep reward isn't unreasonable.

So I would rule this depending on the texture and power level of the party and the player within that party. If you're like me and you maintain houserules across campaigns, however, I'd say Psionic Shot and psychic strike only apply once, and then maybe help a struggling Soulbow in some other way (removing the race restriction on Shiba Protector, for example, or maybe expanding the list of magical properties that can get applied to mind arrows) that wouldn't so broadly affect other archers down the road.

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Manyshot doesn’t “split” your arrow; it shoots multiple arrows in a single standard action:

As a standard action, you may fire two arrows at a single opponent within 30 feet.

(Manyshot feat description)

For example, if you only have one arrow in your quiver (that is, using a regular bow and arrow, not psionically-created ones), you can’t use Manyshot. Since they are separate arrows, you can’t “copy” bonuses from one arrow to multiple.

To actually split arrows, copying all of the bonuses, you need the splitting special magic weapon property, found in Champions of Ruin. That is a +3-equivalent bonus, so a +1 splitting longbow costs as much as a +4 longbow—that is, a lot. On the other hand, it turns every arrow you fire into two, doubling your attacks, which is insane, and it does copy one-off bonuses like psychic strike or Psionic Shot, which is incredible. Splitting is, far and away, the best ability you can possibly get on a ranged weapon, and even at its considerable cost, it’s quite possibly still overpowered.

But none of that matters for a soulknife or soulbow, since splitting doesn’t appear on their lists of compatible special weapon properties. There’s a case to be made that D&D 3.5e supplements rarely refer to one another, so it’s not necessarily telling that Expanded Psionics Handbook and Complete Psionic didn’t reference Champion of Ruin or vice versa, but one would have to take that case to a DM.

All that said, I’d put splitting on those tables in a heartbeat. I’d probably even houserule Greater Manyshot to work like that to begin with, at least for soulbows, maybe even just regular Manyshot. Because soulknives and soulbows are just that bad. The soulbow is a substantial improvement over the soulknife, but that isn’t saying very much, because the soulknife makes a strong case for weakest player class in D&D 3.5e.¹ Actually, I tend to go beyond even such minor tweaks, and use a full rewrite of the class.²

  1. Soulknife is certainly weaker than the adept, an NPC class. It’s definitely weaker than the monk, probably the most notoriously-underpowered class in the game. The Complete Warrior samurai is competitive, but I think I’d take full BAB and some minor Intimidate tricks over anything the soulknife gets. For that matter, the NPC warrior—which only gets full BAB—might be better too. Likewise, the Complete Adventurer ninja is very poor, but invisibility and eventually ethereality sound better to me. I guess there’s the truenamer from Tome of Magic, but that class is basically nonfunctional due to extremely poor editing and was almost certainly never actually tested before publication (seeing as they forgot to publish some of its rules).

  2. Dreamscarred Press has a decent one for Pathfinder,¹ but you’ll want the later “high psionics” version or one of the stronger archetypes, because even though they improved it considerably with their initial release, even that didn’t go nearly far enough.

    1. Disclaimer: I’ve done freelance work for Dreamscarred Press, including some editing and feedback on some Pathfinder soulknife archetypes.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ If footnotes on why the Soulknife sucks are a worthwhile part of this answer, then a footnote on why Manyshot sucks might also be so. A DM that would let you houserule the Soulknife might allow a Manyshot houserule for similar reasons. \$\endgroup\$
    – J. Mini
    Jun 17 '21 at 19:19

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