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  1. Metamorphosis yourself and your psicrystal into Madcrafters of Thoon.
  2. Use Assume Supernatural Ability: Launch Spawn to create as many Scythers of Thoon you want. Use some form of infinite healing to make more than 3.
  3. Have the Psicrystal use its Telepathic Speech ability to program all newly created Scythers of Thoon such as who not to attack ever and to obey commands even when the psicrystal changes form. Maybe even order them to not obey any commands that don't start with a password.

After being given enough quintessence and metal ore, madcrafters of Thoon spit out scythers that then await orders from any telepathic creature of Thoon (usually a mindflayer).

So the above directly says Scythers of Thoon, upon creation, await orders from any telepathic creature of Thoon. Your psicrystal polymorphed into a madcrafter of thoon is a telepathic creature of Thoon. Put two and two together and your polymorphed psicrystal can order any newly created Scyther of Thoon to do anything it wants.

Scythers of thoon, being literally mindless, will never figure out anything, and will never question or defy its orders. So there is a 0% chance they will disobey or mutiny.

Have I missed anything? Did I overlook a crucial detail that would render this tactic nonviable?


As usual, I'm interested in RAW answers only. I'd add "Ruled as written" in the question but people keep editing it out with out my permission so... whatever. I saw people discussing this tactic over at a different forum and it was... disgusting to say the least. You can clearly tell everyone there was scrambling to make up half assed reasons as to why this doesn't work, didn't even review the material in question before spewing an opinion, and then just die on that hill. I'm not interested in that. I'm not interested in people who have no interest in what the rules say and just make stuff up without even reviewing the materials in question just because they don't like it for whatever reason and try to argue everything as a grey area and therefore DM's ruling to avoid calling their opinion a house rule.

So yeah, RAW answers only please. No "at my table I would such and such". I'm not at your table and I'm not interested in what you would do at your table.

Also to pre-empt any "ZOMG IT'S GAMEBREAKING OP" people, every monster and their mothers have DR and SR which reduces the infinite scyther army's damage output to literally 0, and MMV even directly says this

Madcrafters handle high-level PCs poorly because they depend on CR 6 monsters to do much of their dirty work. The CR 10 madcrafter is indeed a suitable challenge for four 10th-level PCs. But two CR 10 madcrafters don’t challenge four 12th-level PCs in the same way, because the CR 6 scythers of Thoon just can’t hurt the PCs. Nor would four CR 10 madcrafters challenge a 14th-level group. You can, however, mix a single madcrafter with other monsters to get the encounter level you desire.

Just RAW answers please. Yes with your supporting evidence or No with your supporting evidence. Nothing more.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Where do you get infinite healing from? Is this part of the method, or part of the question (or a separate question)? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 17, 2023 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ What rules as written means on this site—and probably why folks (not me!) remove the phrase from your questions—is explained here. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 17, 2023 at 19:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NobodytheHobgoblin There are way too many infinite healing methods so rather than list them all I just say pick the one you want. IIRC martial study feat by itself gives infinite healing? Also a teammate with DMM Persistent Spell. Some kind of power point regeneration technique + vigor spam also works. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 17, 2023 at 21:01

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Yes, but it's more complicated than the question makes it out to be

Strictly speaking, a creature can take the feat Assume Supernatural Ability (launch spawn (Monster Manual V 115)) (Savage Species 30–1) then, if manifester level 10 or higher, use the 4th-level egoist power metamorphosis [psychometabolism] (Expanded Psionics Handbook 116–17) at al. to take the form of a madcrafter of Thoon (MM5 114–16) and spit countless scythers of Thoon (116–18), but, practically, doing so may not be as elegant as the question supposes.

The supernatural ability launch spawn begins by saying

A madcrafter of Thoon usually takes a full day to give birth to a stormcloud of Thoon or a scyther of Thoon. When threatened, however, it can create constructs far more rapidly, then expel them in globules of caustic spittle. Once per round, as a swift action, a madcrafter of Thoon can spit a stormcloud of Thoon or a scyther of Thoon into any unoccupied square within 60 feet. (115 and emphases mine)

Using the launch spawn ability to give birth to a scyther of Thoon usually takes a madcrafter of Thoon 1 day. Methods beyond this answer's scope exist to extend the metamorphosis power's duration beyond its normal 1 min./level so that it's possible for a PC to use the launch spawn ability in this usual way, but that's not the question's concern.

Instead, to take a swift action to use the launch spawn ability, the DM must rule on what threatened means in the launch spawn ability. You, clever reader, may think of more, but, broadly, I imagine two rulings:

  • The DM rules that here threatened means that the creature is tactically threatened. The creature is threatened when it's in a position where another creature can make against it an attack of opportunity. This ruling favors the plan in question, but it favors even more actual madcrafters of Thoon. If, in a nonstressful situation, a nearby ally can trigger a madcrafter's quick expulsion of scythers by wielding a weapon, madcrafters will have long ago realized this and exploited it. A madcrafter must still find a way to heal itself so that it needn't spend its precious quintessence making scythers (see below), but afterward it can set up a staging area from which to spit.

    While still largely able to take actions normally (if the launch spawn ability takes only a swift action to use), a madcrafter can launch 1 scyther per round hence 10 per minute hence 600 per hour hence 4,800 per 8-hour workday—that come with 9,600 masterwork scythes with a resale value of over 1.5 million gp. To be clear: That's per madcrafter. The issue then becomes that the madcrafters would have been doing this for nearly their entire existence. (Seriously, they're Int 19. If it's the first thing we'd do, then it's the first thing they'd do.)

    Designing a campaign setting with this in mind is interesting. The Allies stormed Normandy with 130,000 troops; 9 madcrafters can make an army that size in about 3 days. A lone madcrafter endangers a small continent. The Endless Blade Armies of Thoon become an apocalypse to be averted or survived.

    However, I suspect that most campaign settings are not designed with the idea that madcrafters of Thoon employ their launch spawn ability with such rigor and vigor. So, in most campaign settings, after ruling that threatened means not emotionally, morally, or spiritually threatened but mechanically threatened, the DM must grapple with that implication, perhaps leading to retcons and strained verisimilitude. (N.b. I've not met a DM who likes retconning, nor have I met a DM who wants a setting to lack verisimilitude.)

    In short, a DM who rules this way empowers a PC like the one the question describes—and others who follow the same path and others who have already followed the same path—to such a degree that the campaign setting must address it. In any large city of 5,001–12,000, at least 9 inhabitants can potentially tread this path fairly easily (DMG 139). And, from an optimization perspective—and that seems to be the question's perspective—, if the DM doesn't mechanically or narratively gate this path and those 9 folks are not treading it, then they will or should be doing something as or more powerful.

  • The DM rules that here threatened means that the creature's being menaced or pressured. The creature is threatened when it's in danger, challenged, stressed, or whatever state of mind the DM determines that the creature must be in to feel actually threatened—manufactured stressors aren't enough. This could still be enabled by, for instance, a Thoon elder brain (MM5 121–4) that deliberately subjects its madcrafter minions to a constant barrage of terrible trials. However, I can imagine that inuring madcrafters to all but the most heinous heretofore unknown tortures, making it so madcrafters still mainly use the launch spawn ability in the usual fashion, quick use relegated to abnormal circumstances—like when powerful PCs attack a madcrafter's lair.

    This ruling makes it so that the DM tells the player when his PC who assumes the form of a madcrafter of Thoon feels threatened enough to use quickly the launch spawn ability. I know of no player who likes the DM to dictate the player's character's state of mind, so, ideally, the PC should for some reason always feels threatened. I imagine role-playing such a PC would be taxing, especially if the catalyst for the PC's personality is trauma or mental illness. Role-playing a PC with, for instance, acute paranoia specifically so that, at level 10 and beyond, my PC can take a swift action to use the launch spawn ability doesn't sound like a pleasurable way to spend my leisure time—especially if the campaign begins at level 1—, but it may to someone else.

Anyway, after some further description, the the launch spawn ability concludes, saying

A typical madcrafter of Thoon has enough stored quintessence to safely use its launch spawn ability twice per day. If it uses launch spawn a third time, it loses its fast healing ability for the rest of the day. The fourth [i.e. the second with no stored quintessence] and subsequent times it uses launch spawn, it takes 20 points of damage. (ibid. and emphases mine)

A creature that uses the metamorphosis power or other ability to take the form or a madcrafter of Thoon will not be, in most campaigns, a typical madcrafter of Thoon therefore shouldn't have any stored quintessence. Thus, while in madcrafter of Thoon form, either the DM makes available via plot some quintessence to store then use (see How Quintessence Works (107), noting that this quintessence is different from that produced by the power—yes, a thesaurus is in order) or after the first use of the launch spawn ability the creature loses its (maybe nonexistent) fast healing for the day and each additional use of the launch spawn ability deals it 20 points of damage.

To be fair, in a campaign that normalizes the Assume Supernatural Ability (launch spawn) feat as fair and fully functional, being dealt 20 points of damage is likely a pittance for literally anything, much less a 9 HD razorbot with laser vision. So merely taking damage from the launch spawn ability is probably less of a concern than having to play a PC whose powers get weaker with medication or therapy, but a way to mitigate that damage needs to happen nonetheless. (Doing so is largely beyond this answer's scope, but get started with the 4th-level Clr spell delay death [necro] (Spell Compendium 63).)

Issuing orders to scythers

The section Ecology of the scythers of Thoon does, indeed, say, "After being given enough quintessence and metal ore, madcrafters of Thoon spit out scythers that then await orders from any telepathic creature of Thoon" (118). Further, a scyther's lone language entry is "understands telepathic commands" (117).

Normally, a madcrafter of Thoon issues orders to new scythers with its supernatural ability telepathy 100 ft. (MM5 114, q.v. MM 316). The psicrystal Special telepathic speech grants a psicrystal that's owned by a level 5 or higher manifester an extraordinary ability that allows "the psicrystal [to] communicate telepathically with any creature that has a language and is within 30 feet of the psicrystal, while the psicrystal is also within 1 mile of the owner" (XPH 22). Thus an appropriate psicrystal that assumes the form of a creature of Thoon should be able to issue orders to a scyther.1

Once a new scyther has been issued telepathic orders by a creature of Thoon, that scyther obeys those orders until issued additional orders the same way. A scyther literally can't receive orders any other way except telepathically, though, as it lacks any other "language" to receive orders in. A scyther ordered to obey another creature that lacks telepathy presumably follows the last order it was given (which may see it do nothing at all).

This DM would rule that a scyther will follow that another creature's telepathic orders if the order to follow another creature was issued telepathically by a creature of Thoon. (Ordering your scythers to obey only you or another trusted creature is a smart move anyway. Otherwise, any creature of Thoon can totally telepathically swipe your scythers.)

On the other hand, another DM may rule that telepathic orders can be issued to a scyther only by a creature of Thoon specifically. Such a ruling makes army management more complicated as then the Endless Blade Armies of Thoon can't be commanded by telepathic subordinates not of Thoon. Another DM may rule, instead or in addition, that a scyther always follows the telepathic orders issued by all and any creature of Thoon, even if the scyther was told not to follow another creature's orders. (I imagine that DM saying, "Honestly, what did you think that they 'await orders from any telepathic creature of Thoon' meant?") That sounds kind of shady to this player and this DM, but if I can imagine it, someone else can, too, so it's better to ask first.2 You really don't want your carefully expectorated army of razorbots with laser vision turned on you the first time you face in battle madcrafter of Thoon, real or ersatz.


1 Without a psicrystal, the the telepathy ability is typically gained from either the prestige class mindbender level 1 class feature telepathy (Complete Arcane 55) that grants the supernatural ability telepathy 100 ft., or the telepath level 5 alternative class feature telepathic communication that grants the supernatural ability telepathy with a range of 5 ft. per manifester level. (N.b. the metamorphosis power is an egoist power.) Like many things in D&D 3.5, though, there are a host of others, like just taking again the feat Assume Supernatural Ability, for instance.
2 I can imagine a DM using this ruling to explain why madcrafters of Thoon work together rather than, for example, one madcrafter establishing a personal empire by encoding all the scythers to its individual will. (If scythers always obey the last telepathic order issued by those of Thoon, then a telepathic creature of Thoon betraying other telepathic creatures of Thoon becomes far riskier.) I wouldn't like that ruling, but I'd understand it.


Note: This answer omits discussion of the stormclouds of Thoon (118–19). While a stormcloud can also be brought forth using the launch spawn ability, a stormcloud's sentience (such as it is) makes it less useful as a minion than a scyther. For another wacky use of an ability possessed by a creature of Thoon, see here.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @fuzzywuzzy1951 I agree that 1% is probably too high, but unless I'm missing something the trick doesn't mandate a psion; anyone with a polymorph effect at caster level 10, 2 feats (ASA (launch) and (telepathy)), and nigh-limitless healing can pull it off. And ordering a scyther army to go to somewhere, kill everyone, take their stuff, and return when finished doesn't require supervision. I mean, if the DM rules that orders like that can't be given then you're micromanaging each scyther step by step, and that's the DM pretty much saying, "No, you can't have mindless minions." \$\endgroup\$ Nov 20, 2023 at 3:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fuzzywuzzy1951 The scyther description is specific about its dispelling touch, but it also says, "Without a sentient mind to guide them, scythers of Thoon use their dispelling touch only if a magical effect is preventing them from damaging their target, and it must be something obvious such as a magical wall or a visible defensive spell." To be clear, that's without guidance. There's decision-making going on there that is, I think, well beyond what we'd consider normal for a zombie or skeleton. In that regard, comparing scythers to vermin may be more accurate than to mindless undead. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 21, 2023 at 16:06
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RAW on this is inconclusive, likely yes

This question is eerily similar to this one, but this one might work. It depends on if you think Metamorphosis is a similar effect to Polymorph. Assume Supernatural Ability says:

You learn to use a single supernatural ability of another kind of creature while assuming its form through a polymorph self spell or a similar effect.

To quote from @Chemus answer:

Interactions between 3rd and 3.5 form altering abilities are, therefore, to put it in technical terms, an awful mess. This highlights why some players will say that most form altering magic that lets a creature appear to be another to meet the 'polymorph self spell or a similar effect' metric of the Assume Supernatural Ability feat, and others adhere to only converting the words polymorph self to polymorph.

If your DM decides this is similar enough, it will work. Fundamentally that is it. There is no clear-cut RAW answer to be had because there is no consistent defintion of what a similar effect to polymorph self is.

Polymporph has this restriction (Polymorph Self was 3.0, and your question is about 3.5):

The assumed form can’t have more Hit Dice than your caster level (or the subject’s HD, whichever is lower)

We know that you need to be a level 10 or higher psion, because the Madcrafter of Thoon is a 10 HD monster. The numbers therefore would suffice for polymorph, supporting the idea they are similar. However, a psion does not have a caster level, they have a manifester level. Their caster level (unless they have multiclassed) is non-existent.

Other questions

Can you transform the psicrystal? Yes.

Metamprophosis is a Range: Personal power, and psicrystal rules allow you to manifest Metamorphosis on your psicrystal:

a psionic character can manifest a personal range power on his psicrystal even though normally he can manifest such a power only on himself

Can the psicrystal communicate with the Scythers? Probably.

Telepathic Speech has this limitation:

the psicrystal can communicate telepathically with any creature that has a language

And Scythers of Thoon have this languages entry:

Languages understands telepathic commands

Note that they do not list any language. It is not clear to me if "understands telephatic commands" qualifies as having a language. It is in the languages line, but not listed as a language in the SRD.

Limitations

You are asking if one can create "an army" of scythers with this method. The Madcrafter of Thoon's ability states that

Once per round, as a swift action, a madcrafter of Thoon can spit a stormcloud of Thoon or a scyther of Thoon into any unoccupied square within 60 feet.

and Metamorphosis is good for only one minute. So you will be able (assuming you have free healing), to create 10 of them for each use of Metamorphosis. Eventually this may sum up to an army.

You also state that you need to have access to "infinite healing". It's not clear to me where that would come from.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ RE: "It is not clear to me if 'understands telephatic [sic] commands' qualifies as having a language." I went there, too, but the designers thought that it counted enough that it's in the scyther's Language entry. [Shrugs.] Also, if that doesn't count, then a mindcrafter of Thoon can't use its own telepathy (that also requires the recipient have language) to issue orders to a scyther. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 17, 2023 at 20:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I thought about some more fundamental limits like the quintessence section you have, but the answer already was so long. The MCoTs have a defined weight, and creating spawn consumes a given amount of it, so there is a hard upper limit. But the rules also say it is needed at the speed of plot. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 17, 2023 at 20:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I hesitate to speculate on the biology of creatures of Thoon, but… based on How Quintessence Works, I assume the storage of quintessence II: electric quintilloo is a natural ability that a madcrafter just has; likewise, the ability of madcrafter to take damage when it has no stored quintessence is a natural ability—I imagine that damage being due to spitting quintessential pieces of itself to make scythers and stormclouds. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 17, 2023 at 20:12

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