The Mindborn

The procedure that the unbodied (see the Expanded Psionics Handbook) used to abandon their physical forms has not been lost, as common knowledge might say… it lives on in their racial subconscious, and any psionic manifester capable of plumbing those depths can discover how it was done, and go through the process themselves. It is currently impossible to fully transform into an unbodied, and in this respect common psionic lore is correct. An experienced enough manifester can, nonetheless, derive a sufficient substitute — at the behest of a member of the unbodied race, for it is in their subconscious that the path lies. Most unbodied consider themselves far above such a contact, but an experienced and dedicated manifester may be able to convince one to try. And thus does a manifester take the first step towards an existence unbound…

Mindborn have no appearance to speak of. They are incorporeal entities of pure mental energy, the result of an extended psionic ritual that powerful manifesters may use to extend their lifespans. Although they have no “natural form” so to speak, they can assume virtually any form they can imagine, through the use of their Assume Likeness ability. Such forms are still incorporeal, though it may still be a convincing act. Most individual mindborn have a few preferred shapes, often including an image of themselves prior to the metamorphosis – although, of course, considering the mindset of many such manifesters, minor physical “imperfections of the flesh” are usually removed, so the image may look somewhat better than the original. Even psionic masters are not above vanity, it seems.

Adaptation: The mindborn serves as a psionically-themed substitute for the lich template, and shares many essential elements with it. While functionally similar to an Unbodied, it need not actually have a connection to that monster.

This sample mindborn uses an 11th level xeph seer as the base creature. His ability scores before the template were Str 6, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 17, Wis 12, Cha 10. Additionally, no psionic powers are active in the statistics block below.

Medium Outsider (Extraplanar, Incorporeal, Psionic)
Hit Dice: 11d8+45 (94hp)
Initiative: +5
Speed: Fly 30 ft. (good)
Armor Class: 16 (+3 Dex, +3 deflection)
Base Attack/Grapple: +5 / +5 (incorporeal)
Attack: Incorporeal touch +8 (1d6)
Full Attack: Incorporeal touch +8 (1d6)
Space/Reach: 5 ft. / 5 ft
Special Attacks: Psionic powers, psychokinesis (DC 16), mode check +9, resting mode Sap Mind +0
Special Qualities: Assume likeness, burst, darkvision 60’, hide mind, naturally psionic, telepathy (100 ft), true manifestation
Saves: Fort +7, Reflex +7, Will +10
Abilities: Str -, Dex 17, Con 16, Int 25, Wis 16, Cha 16
Skills: Bluff +7, Concentration +17, Disguise +7, Gather Information +17, Knowledge (arcana) +21, Knowledge (psionics) +21, Listen +17, Psicraft +23, Spot +17
Feats: Extend Power, Overchannel, Psicrystal Affinity (nimble), Psicrystal Containment, Psionic Body, Psionic Meditation, Talented Environment: Any
Organization: Solitary or Illumination (3-6)
Challenge Rating: 13
Treasure: Half standard (all incorporeal or ghost touch)
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Advancement: By character class
Level Adjustment: +4

Assume Likeness (Su): A mindborn can assume the likeness of any small, medium, or large creature as a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. Its abilities do not change, but it appears to be that creature, relying on its Bluff and Disguise skills to deflect suspicion. A mindborn using this ability gains an additional +10 competence bonus on Disguise checks. If it can read an opponent’s mind, it gains a further +4 circumstance bonus on Bluff checks.

Burst (Su): Three times per day, the mindborn can increase his speed by 30 feet. These bursts of speed are considered a competence bonus to the mindborn’s base speed. A burst of speed lasts 3 rounds.

Hide Mind (Su): A mindborn cannot be identified as psionic by divination spells or clairsentience powers.

Psionic Powers: 145 power points, manifester level 15, DC 17+power level (+augments):

  • 1st: conceal thoughts, deceleration, distract, know direction and location, defensive precognition
  • 2nd: clairvoyant sense, detect hostile intent, ego whip, object reading
  • 3rd: dispel psionics, escape detection, mind trap, ubiquitous vision
  • 4th: detect remote viewing, psionic divination, remote viewing, telekinetic maneuver
  • 5th: bliss, clairtangent hand, psychic crush, second chance
  • 6th: psionic disintegrate

Psychokinesis (Su): This mindborn can use telekinetic force (manifester level 11, DC 16) as a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

This sample mindborn carries a small amount of gear from his transformation, which he may touch as if it were ghost touch. His headband of intellect +4, ioun stone (pink and green sphere), and mindstones (3pp; holds sensitivity to psychic impressions) have already been factored into the statistics above.

Creating a Mindborn:

“Mindborn” is an acquired template that can be added to any psionic manifester who has created a projection crystal (see below), hereafter referred to as the base creature.

Size and Type: The creature’s type changes to Outsider, native to the astral plane. Size, base attack bonus, saves, and skill points do not change. It gains the Incorporeal subtype.
Hit Dice: Increase all current and future Hit Dice to d8s.
Speed: A mindborn has a fly speed of 30 feet (good maneuverability), or the speed or maneuverability of the base creature’s fly speed (if better). It loses all other forms of movement.
Armor Class: A mindborn gains a deflection bonus to armor class equal to its Charisma modifier, minimum +1.
Attack: A mindborn has a touch attack that it can use once per round. If the base creature can use weapons, the mindborn retains this ability. A creature with natural weapons retains those natural weapons. A mindborn fighting without weapons uses either its touch attack or its primary natural weapon (if it has any). A mindborn armed with a weapon uses its touch or a weapon, as it desires. A mindborn’s natural weapons are considered ghost touch weapons when attacking with them.
Full Attack: A mindborn fighting without weapons uses either its touch attack (see above) or its natural weapons (if it has any). If armed with a weapon, it usually uses the weapon as its primary attack along with a touch as a natural secondary attack, provided it has a way to make that attack (either a free hand or a natural weapon that it can use as a secondary attack). As before, a mindborn’s natural weapons are treated as ghost touch weapons when attacking.
Damage: A mindborn without natural weapons has an incorporeal touch attack that uses psychic energy to deal 1d6 points of damage. A mindborn with natural weapons can use its touch attack or its natural weaponry, as it prefers. If it chooses the latter, it deals 1d6 points of extra damage on one natural weapon attack.
Special Attacks: The mindborn retains all of the base creature’s special attacks except those that relied on physical contact (such as Trample), and gains the ones listed below.
Psionic Powers: A mindborn can manifest any psionic powers it could before the metamorphosis. See also True Manifestation, below.
Psychokinesis (Su): A mindborn can use telekinetic force (DC 13+Charisma modifier) as a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. Psychokinesis has a manifester level equal to the mindborn’s HD. Additionally, a mindborn increases his mode check bonus to that of a psion of his hit dice +4. All future hit dice provide the good mode check progression instead of their normal type. If you are not using the Mindscapes psionic combat system from Hyperconscious: Explorations in Psionics by Bruce R. Cordell, ignore this change.
Special Qualities: A mindborn retains all the base creature’s special qualities except those that relied on a physical form (such as most types of damage reduction), and gains those listed below.

  • Assume Likeness (Su): A mindborn can assume the likeness of any Small, Medium, or Large creature as a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. Its abilities do not change, but it appears to be that creature, relying on its Bluff and Disguise skills to deflect suspicion.
  • Darkvision: A mindborn has darkvision out to 60 feet.
  • Hide Mind (Su): A mindborn cannot be identified as psionic by divination spells or clairsentience powers.
  • Telepathy: A mindborn can communicate telepathically with any creature within 100 feet that has a language.
  • True Manifestation (Su): A mindborn has a more powerful link to its internal power than most entities do. It gains +4 to its manifester level in a single existing manifesting class (if it had more than one manifesting class prior to the metamorphosis, it chooses which class to which this +4 applies). Treat this bonus in all regards as the temporarily heightened manifester level from Overchannel (for instance, it provides no bonus power points), except that it is permanent and does not deal damage if used.

Ability Scores: Increase from the base creature as follows: Dex +2, Con +2, Int +4, Wis +4, Cha +4. As an incorporeal creature, a mindborn has no Strength score.
Skills: Mindborn gain a +4 racial bonus on Bluff checks and Disguise checks. When using its assume likeness ability, a mindborn gets an additional +10 competence bonus on Disguise checks. If it can read an opponent’s mind, it gains a further +4 circumstance bonus on Bluff checks. Otherwise, same as the base creature.
Environment: Any, usually same as base creature.
Organization: Solitary or Illumination (3-6).
Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature +2.
Treasure: Half standard or none. Any worn or carriedgear is ghost touch or incorporeal.
Alignment: Any, although any former class restrictions remain in effect.
Advancement: By character class.
Level Adjustment: +4.

Mindborn are immune to magical aging and suffer no penalties from aging effects. Bonuses still accrue at the rates they did prior to the metamorphosis, although the mindborn has no maximum age. Mindborn do not need to eat or sleep (though they can if they wish and are able to — in fact, as psionic manifesters, sleep or its equivalent is required for healthy manifesting), although they do find that they need to be surrounded with a breathable substance or their consciousness begins to fade (exactly as if one were holding their breath or being drowned) — and as beings of pure consciousness, that is quite an unsettling thought.

A mindborn’s psicrystal remains corporeal. A few mindborn use it as a weak physical prop, while others secret it away for safekeeping.

Becoming a Mindborn:

The Crystal Projection and the Awakening:
The secret to becoming a mindborn lies dormant in the creatures most like it: the Unbodied. A mindborn-potential must first have already impressive skill with handling psionic manifestations before any potential Unbodied will agree to her request for contact , even assuming that she can locate such a creature. The character must be able to consistently manifest psionic powers with a manifester level of at least 11 before the connection is established. The manifester must also possess the Psicrystal Affinity feat, for reasons which are about to become clear, although she need not have it when initially seeking an Unbodied patron.

Assuming a willing Unbodied can be found, the next logical step is an intimate mindlink. This is a deep, mutual connection between the psionic character and the Unbodied, almost at an instinctive level. It can only be established by the Unbodied “interfacing” with the psionic character — that is, it must move into the same space as the character and maintain telepathic contact with the character. The process takes an hour to fully establish, and neither entity can move or attempt any action during this time. Treat such a link as if both characters were in contact and attempting to view each other’s powers known (see the Expanded Psionics Handbook), with one exception. The mindborn-potential will see one additional power beyond what the Unbodied normally knows — this is a special function of the interface, and the power is the result of a racial memory, so the Unbodied in question may not even have been aware of it. The power is similar to astral seed, but it cannot be learned by any means (as it draws deeply on the racial consciousness and identity of
another being). It is treated as a 6th level power on every psionic power list for the purposes of manifesting it, and manifesting it takes eight hours to complete (the Unbodied may not manifest this power for her).

Upon successful manifestation of this power, the manifester reaches an epiphany. On some primal, inexplicable level, she has learned how the original Unbodied ancestors abandoned their forms, and knows what must be done to reach the same step of ascendance. However, this is only the first step of a long and arduous journey.

The second step involves an extended psionic ritual very much like creating a psionic item, in which the manifester’s psicrystal is enhanced and refined. This process requires the Psicrystal Affinity feat and costs 120,000 GP and 4800 XP to complete (successful manifestation of the Unbodied’s racial power grants the knowledge necessary to use this feat as an item creation feat). Once completed, the manifester’s psicrystal has been strengthened dramatically, gaining hardness 20 and 20 bonus hit points.

The third, and final, stage of the metamorphosis is the most taxing of all. The potential mindborn must withdraw into total isolation, accompanied only by a few important possessions and the psicrystal. The manifester then enters a deep trance, strengthening her bond to the psicrystal, in an effort to synchronize its psionic nature with her own. She may do nothing else during this time — not even eat or sleep (though the process is close enough to dreaming that sleep becomes irrelevant). The exact length of time varies from candidate to candidate, but averages about four days. At the end of the procedure, her body disappears — dematerialized and absorbed into the psicrystal. At the same time, her consciousness awakens within her psicrystal, which immediately uses the accumulated psychic energy to project the form of a new mindborn into existence.

Unlike most incorporeal creatures, the mindborn may touch the ectoplasmic limbs of her psicrystal. Additionally, the ritual bestows a limited version of the ghost touch property on anything the mindborn was wearing during the transformation — for her hands alone, such items behave as if ghost touch. (She still must be in a compatible form of assume likeness to use them, though, and the items are not ghost touch for anyone else. They are also fully corporeal, so they cannot pass through objects as she can.)

As outsiders (entities with their soul and form linked as a single unit), a mindborn cannot be raised or resurrected. However, after being destroyed, a mindborn awakens in her psicrystal, which is relatively drained of psychic energy. She shares the physical form of her psicrystal with its personality during this time, and retains the psionic powers and maximum power points she had at time of death, although she also has a negative level that cannot be removed, and loses all special abilities from the mindborn template. Unlike the similar astral seed power, the telepathic bond a mindborn shares with her psicrystal ensures that it is always “up to date”.

Projecting her mind from the crystal requires it to be recharged first. Recharging is similar to the synchronization process, but without a physical body to aid the mind, it takes a fair bit longer. This takes 10 days of doing nothing but meditating and focusing psionic might – even the psicrystal cannot use any of its abilities during this time, and is essentially a very tough rock for the duration. Once the process begins, it cannot be stopped by any means, so mindborn have learned to only try this in a very safe place (preferably in solitude). At the end of this time, her mind has been projected again, and she regain the full powers of the mindborn template.

As may have been surmised, a mindborn can only be permanently terminated by the destruction of her psicrystal. Even if she creates a replacement (see the expanded rules for Psicrystal Affinity in Chapter 3: Feats), it is a normal psicrystal and must undergo the item creation process again before it can serve as a projection crystal. Mundane means, such as understanding the very intricate cut of the gem (Appraise DC 25, or Knowledge: Psionics DC 20), or very advanced means, such as analyze dwoemer, can serve to differentiate between a normal psicrystal and one that has been transformed to project a mindborn.

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