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I was thinking of a new Master of Many Forms build and how Vow of Poverty would fit into it. The campaing is low level and I would like to be relevant starting from level one. Here is what I got so far:

Human Wild Shape Mystic Ranger up to level 5, Master of Many Forms after STR 10 CON 15 DEX 15 INT 13 WIS 17 CHA 9

I took the Mystic Ranger variant since seems better for the first levels than a standard ranger (you only give up the animal companion for some useful spells at early levels).

My question is how Vow of Poverty would benefit this build? Since I have 2 feats at level 1 I could take both Sacred Vow and Vow of Poverty. One thing I like is that you dont have to worry about Wilding Clasps in order to use your magic items in Wild Shape and for the first levels up to 5 I was thinking of using a Crossbow. In case it is worth it, do you have any suggestions about the Exalted Feats to take for this character?

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Vow of Poverty does not benefit any build ever

The benefits of the Vow are worth less than the benefits of magic items at every level, so even if Vow of Poverty was a free option, it would be weaker to have it than to not. But since Vow of Poverty is a feat that requires another (awful) feat, the cost for this self-nerf is very high.

In a campaign with very low-wealth, the calculus changes somewhat; at some point, Vow of Poverty might be better than your items, but that’s basically only if you get nearly zero items to begin with. And even then, it takes a primary spellcaster to make much use of it; nothing in the Vow does much of anything to replace critical magical items for more mundane characters.

In your case, you definitely don’t want the vow prior to getting Wild Shape, as you’ll basically be weaponless (a non-masterwork, non-magical crossbow with no Rapid Reload is very close to not even participating in the battle, and Rapid Reload is another feat trying to make this work), and then once you have Wild Shape you’ll want Natural Spell ASAP, which means the vow doesn’t happen until 9th. By then, there are a lot of items that you’ll really, really want – particularly a wildling clasp and a necklace of natural attacks.

As for exalted feats,

  • Defender of the Homeland is fairly decent, providing immunity to fear, but only if you stay in your home region. Good in some campaigns with some characters, nearly or completely worthless in others.

  • Nymph’s Kiss is one of the best skill feats in the game (but as a ranger you should have pretty good skills anyway; you probably won’t need it),

  • Touch of Golden Ice is solid at low levels but quickly becomes obsolete (save DC doesn’t scale),

  • Intuitive Attack is excellent (but Wild Shape obviates most of its benefit, since the creatures you turn into will replace your Strength with a number that may very well be higher than your Wisdom),

  • Words of Creation is broken (for a bard).

  • Knight of Tyr’s Holy Judgment (Champions of Valor) is kind of hilarious and awesome (you supernaturally sense which laws apply to wherever you find yourself, even if you’re completely lost and have never heard of wherever you’ve ended up), but it is by no means a strong feat.

The rest are quite poor. Since you asked,

  • Nemesis is a decent benefit, but only for one type. Unless you’re in a themed campaign where a huge proportion of your foes are the chosen type, that’s a complete waste of time.

    • It is much improved if you choose the Favored Enemy (arcanists) option presented in Complete Mage. Then it might be worthwhile. Certainly better than a lot of other options you might take with Vow of Poverty bonus feats. Not sure it’s worth a feat on its own.
  • Exalted Wild Shape is close pointless for you; Master of Many Forms will cover all your “extra wild shape option” needs. None of the creatures explicitly indicated by Exalted Wild Shape are all that impressive, and the Celestial template is exceedingly minor for someone with above-animal Intelligence.

The vows are all pretty awful; the Vows of Peace and Nonviolence go so far as to not only nerf yourself, but also screw over your party (I have seriously left games because a player showed up with those feats without running it past the group, and the DM didn’t make him get rid of them).

So your options for exalted feats are: good if your character and campaign fit (Defender of the Homeland), good for low levels only (Touch of Golden Ice, Intuitive Attack), good but not for you (Nymph’s Kiss, Words of Creation), an amusing but weak option (Knight of Tyr’s Holy Judgment), and an option that’s fairly decent if you can combine it with a supplemental option (Nemesis). You don’t really need any of these feats in any particular way; Defender of the Homeland, Intuitive Attack, and Nemesis (arcanists) are probably the only ones I’d bother with, and I’d strongly consider replacing Intuitive Attack with Nemesis around 5th level, if possible. At two, maybe three feats, you can just take those for the same price as taking Vow of Poverty to begin with, and avoid having to be impoverished.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Isnt a crossbow a simple weapon and therefore allowed by vow of poverty? Also the mystic ranger variant only allows for ranged martial weapons, so you are only missing out on the bow. Maybe the mystic ranger variation is not a good idea? I also considered to dump STR DEX and CON but I'm not sure if I will suffer too much the first few levels. Besided, hit points do not change while wildshaped, son CON is not bad. Is CHA useful at all? I was taking a look at the elevated feats and you are right that most of them are quite useless, but what do you think about Nemesis and Exalted Wild Shape? \$\endgroup\$ – skd Sep 8 '15 at 17:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @skd Ah, you are correct; I had thought the limit on weapons was that they not cost as much as a gold piece (eliminating everything except quarterstaves); not sure where I got that idea. A non-masterwork, non-magical crossbow is still awful, though; unless you take Rapid Reload, you’re going to be barely a presence in combat. Mystic ranger is pretty solid, and that I recommend. Dumping Con was a mistake, and is basically something no one should ever do. Nemesis is only worthwhile in a themed campaign (where most foes are the right type). Exalted Wild Shape is a waste; MoMF does more. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 8 '15 at 17:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Because immunity to fear is tough get for a druid (as the spell heroes' feast isn't on its spell list), the exalted feat Defender of the Homeland (Champions of Valor 28) is, the right campaign, worthwhile. Also, I like the exalted feat Lliira’s Blessing (Player's Guide to Faerûn 176) a lot; I hate being unable to play my character. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 8 '15 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Defender of the Homeland’s a decent call, though I’d sooner use an item than a feat, but Lliira’s Blessing seems... pretty meh. A delayed reroll is a far cry from freedom of movement. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 8 '15 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Both are, admittedly, better at low levels than at high, but they can see a lot of use before one can splurge on a banner of the storm's eye or a cast a 4th-level spell like freedom of movement. (We, however, might disagree as to whether a feat that permits surviving the first 1/3 of one's career is a good feat if the feat loses its value after surviving that long.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 8 '15 at 18:32

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