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When bound to the feet chakra, urskan greaves says

When you charge, if your melee attack hits, you deal an additional +1d4 points of damage per point of essentia you invest in your urskan greaves. (Magic of Incarnum 92)

To preface, one must be a level 5 totemist to bind a soulmeld to the feet chakra. Further, as this is extra damage dice, the damage from the urskan greaves isn't multiplied on a critical hit. Compare this to the heart of fire which, when bound to the totem chakra by a level 2 totemist, says that

Your natural weapons or unarmed strikes deal an additional 1d4 points of fire damage per point of essentia you invest in your heart of fire. (Magic of Incarnum 70)

While I know that the effect of the urskan greaves specifies the attack—singular—made when the meldshaper charges, is game balance upset by allowing the effects of urskan greaves to apply to all attacks made after a charge, such as by a charging totemist possessing the special ability pounce or who has the soulmeld sphinx claws bound to his arms chakra? As a relative newcomer to the ins and outs of meldshaping, I don't know how impressive this effect would be nor if the consensus is that the singular is an oversight.

If game balance would be negatively affected, if a totemist both has urskan greaves bound to his feet chakra and has the ability to make multiple attacks when charging, can the totemist pick which of his melee attacks gains the extra damage from the urskan greaves? Can he pick after he knows the attack's result?

The campaign is a largely investigative one, combat occurring against level-appropriate foes maybe once per session. The party is deliberately all Tier 3 and 4 characters (a gnome beguiler; a halfling warlock; and 1 each of a human ardent, bard, shadowcaster, and totemist) and possess typical wealth for their levels. Characters are currently level 3, so this isn't an issue yet, but I like to be prepared. Game balance concerns should use this campaign as the benchmark, and, although unnecessary for a good answer, a discussion of the game balance effects of the above as it applies to a campaign with more frequent combat involving more typical PCs would be appreciated.

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The damage bonus from urskan greaves is very small. If you invest in every capacity-pumping option (which would include “be an incarnate,” but if you do that you’re not going to have impressive natural weapons), it caps at 8d4 – 20 damage. Rogues can add that to each attack (on top of the expected 35 damage from Sneak Attack) with a single feat, and theirs is crit-multiplied.

More realistically, since urskan greaves aren’t worth that level of investment, they’ll probably stay at 4d4, just 10 expected damage, and that only at high level.

Since these numbers are tiny, yes, urskan greaves should apply their damage bonus to every attack on a pounce. Totemists have native access to pounce via sphinx claws and they are designed to be a multiattack shredder. Bonuses to any single attack miss their purpose entirely.


Ironically, while the rules for how bonuses-to-charge-attacks work with pounce are clear as written, as noted in the linked question about pounce and sphinx claws, no one runs pounce as written. As written, a charge includes an attack, which would get the bonus, and after that pounce would grant a full attack (and that would not get any bonuses).

However, since everyone runs pounce as replacing the usual single attack, things become murky. Putting so much weight on the choice of a singular rather than a plural is, I think, unreasonable, since the general case is singular. Pounce, as a replacement, specifically turns the singular into a plural: I would argue that this overrides the singular in urskan greaves, as well as in the rules for what happens at the end of a charge. But I also note that there are cases where this is definitely not reasonable (battle leader’s charge gives a +10 damage bonus on the charge attack... at 3rd level rather than 18th.

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In Play

I'm not going to bother discussing RAW, as that's not what is being asked for.

In play, Urskan Greaves is a relatively minor damage bonus that requires you to be a totemist. Even with Spirit Lion Barbarian and Incarnate, it is still less useful than say, an unoptimized Rogue. On it's own, it's roughly the equivalent of a weapon focus Fighter. Extra damage dice are scary, and charge attacks are flashy and exciting, but it's definitely nothing you should be concerned about in any sense.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I’m not sure if your comparison here is of the totemist class, or the urskan greaves – the totemist itself can certainly be far scarier than an unoptimized rogue or fighter. The urskan greaves aren’t the way to do it, for sure, but totemists make excellent “king of smack”-style builds. At low levels, they’re actually the best at it (at high levels, psychic warriors pull ahead though). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 1 '15 at 15:06

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