“We are a hundred blades guided by a single spirit. You cannot stop us all.”
—Lanharath, atavist shadow watcher
The path of atavism was developed in Khorvaire over the course of the last century, but its power is drawn from the very foundation of the kalashtar race. The quori spirits that gave birth to the kalashtar are spread throughout their descendants, existing now as little more than a memory. The discipline of an atavist strengthens his bond to this ancestral spirit and to all other kalashtar that have embraced their unique heritage. When working alone, atavists can be versatile and dangerous opponents; when acting in concert, they become an unstoppable force.
BECOMING AN ATAVIST
With their spiritual bond enhancing the powers of mind and body, most atavists are drawn from classes that combine these aspects, such as monk or soulknife. Though some fighters who favor unarmed attacks pursue this class, they are relatively rare.
Hit Die: d10
|1st||+0||+0||+2||+2||Call to mind, spiritual lineage, unarmed strike/mind blade improvement|
|2nd||+1||+0||+3||+3||Augmented mindlink, defensive insight|
|3rd||+2||+1||+3||+3||Supportive mindlink +1|
|6th||+4||+2||+5||+5||Supportive mindlink +2|
|9th||+6||+3||+6||+6||Personal mind blank, supportive mindlink +3|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level): Autohypnosis*, Concentration, Craft, Knowledge (history), Knowledge (the planes), Knowledge (psionics)*, Perform, and Profession. In addition, each atavist adds class skills based on his spiritual lineage (see below).
As an atavist advances in level, he strengthens the bond with his quori spirit. This bond gives him an intuitive connection to other kalashtar who share his lineage, and he gains a range of abilities that allows him to share his knowledge, power, and skills with his spiritual kin. The use of some class features requires the atavist to be psionically focused or to expend his psionic focus.
Call to Mind (Ps): At 1st level, you gain the ability to use the psionic power call to mind three times per day, with a manifester level equal to your atavist level. If you are not using the Expanded Psionics Handbook in your game, use this description of the call to mind power: By meditating for 1 minute after a failed Knowledge check, you can make a new check on the same subject with a +4 competence bonus. If successful, you instantly recall what was previously buried in your subconscious.
Spiritual Lineage (Ex): You gain a strong bond with your linked quori spirit’s personality, initially affecting your list of class skills, then granting additional powers based on the quori spirit’s personality trait.
The four basic personality traits are listed below. You must choose one trait at 1st level, and this choice can never be changed later.
Aggressive: Your quori spirit favors action over discussion. Balance, Climb, Jump, and Tumble are class skills for you.
Cautious: Your quori spirit has a furtive nature. Hide, Move Silently, and Search are class skills for you.
Insightful: Your quori spirit is perceptive and wise. Listen and Spot are class skills for you.
Sociable: Your quori spirit is friendly and has a talent for evaluating others. Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Information, and Sense Motive are class skills for you.
Unarmed Strike/Mind Blade Improvement (Ex): You gain the ability to deal extra damage with a particular favored type of attack. If you have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, you deal damage as if you were a monk of a level equal to your atavist level. This benefit stacks with the damage from any monk levels you already have, so that a 5th-level monk/3rd-level atavist would deal 1d10 points of damage with his unarmed strike (just as an 8th-level monk).
If you have the mind blade class feature, you can add your atavist levels to the levels of the class that grants that feature in order to determine your mind blade’s enhancement bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls (but not for any of the weapon’s other features).
Augmented Mindlink (Ps): Beginning at 2nd level, you can use your racial mindlink power to contact one additional creature for every two class levels you possess (two at 2nd level, three at 4th, and so on). Each additional creature you target cannot be more than 15 feet from another creature with which you are already in mindlink contact.
Also, if you are psionically focused and use your mindlink to contact any psionically focused allies, you gain 1 temporary power point for 1 hour (or until used). No matter how many psionically focused allies you contact, you gain only 1 temporary power point per use of mindlink.
Defensive Insight (Su): Beginning at 2nd level, you can call upon your psychic reserve to assume a defensive posture. By expending your psionic focus, you add a +2 insight bonus to your AC and on your Reflex saves for 1 minute (or until you become psionically focused again, whichever comes first).
Additionally, while in the presence of like minds, you can draw on those minds for support and insight. If any ally with at least 1 power point is within 30 feet when you activate this class feature, your insight bonus improves to +3. If that ally is a kalashtar, the bonus improves to +4.
Supportive Mindlink (Su): Beginning at 3rd level, you can use your mindlink power as a mental support network for your allies. While the power is active, all allies in the mindlink whose Hit Dice are equal to or less than your character level gain a +1 morale bonus on Will saves. This bonus increases by 1 for every three additional atavist levels you possess, but you do not gain the bonus yourself.
Detect Possession (Su): As an enemy of the Inspired, you learn at 4th level to detect the effects of their quori masters’ intrusive presence. By expending your psionic focus and targeting a single visible creature within 30 feet, you learn whether that creature is possessed by a quori spirit (true of both kalashtar and the Inspired), is possessed by an outsider, or is under the effect of a possession spell (such as magic jar) or a supernatural power (such as a ghost’s malevolence).
This effect is blocked by any spell or effect that would prevent you from reading the target’s thoughts, and it has no ability to detect other kinds of charm or compulsion effects.
Spiritual Focus (Su): Beginning at 5th level, while you are psionically focused, your body is surrounded by an invisible, intangible spiritual energy. This field grants you a supernatural power based on the personality of your quori spirit (see Spiritual Lineage, above).
Aggressive: You channel your attacks through your quori spirit, extending your natural reach with your unarmed strike and mind blade attacks by 5 feet.
Cautious: Your quori spirit increases your speed, adding 5 feet to all your movement rates.
Insightful: Your senses are in tune with the awareness of your quori spirit, granting you blindsense out to 5 feet..
Sociable: Your quori spirit inspires you with hope, granting you a +1 morale bonus on attack rolls and weapon damage rolls, as well as on saves against fear effects.
Quori Hunter (Su): Beginning at 7th level, while you are psionically focused, you gain the ability to deal potent strikes against the quori and the creatures they possess. Depending on whether you have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat or the mind blade class feature, your unarmed strike or mind blade (as appropriate) is treated as a good-aligned weapon for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. In addition, your unarmed strike or mind blade (as appropriate) deals extra damage equal to 1/2 your atavist level against quori or quori-possessed creatures (including kalashtar and Inspired).
Dismissing Strike (Su): At 8th level, you learn to cast out spiritual entities from the physical forms they possess. Three times per day (but no more than once per round), you can declare any melee attack you make while psionically focused to be a dismissing strike. If the attack hits, treat it as if you had also cast a dismissal spell on any outsider (such as a quori) possessing the creature struck. Your caster level for determining the effectiveness of the dismissal is equal to your class level +5 (or +10 when attempting to dismiss a quori).
Personal Mind Blank (Ps): At 9th level, you gain the ability to temporarily protect your mind against magical or psionic influence, but at the cost of shutting yourself off from telepathic contact with others. Once per day, you can manifest personal mind blank, as the psionic power except that its duration is 1 hour and you can dismiss it as a standard action.
If your campaign doesn’t make use of the Expanded Psionics Handbook, treat this as a mind blank spell-like ability that you can cast only on yourself.
Since mindlink is a mind-affecting power, you can’t use that ability while this one is active.
Spiritual Union (Su): At 10th level, you forge a special bond with your quori spirit, gaining a +4 insight bonus on all class skills it grants you. In addition, by expending your psionic focus, you can acquire temporary control of your quori spirit, allowing you to take one extra standard action or move action on your turn.
PLAYING AN ATAVIST
You perceive a world that those around you cannot see. Always listening to the whispered thoughts of your brothers and sisters, you half-dream of battles you’ve never fought and places you’ve never been. Though nonkalashtar often see your gift as madness, you draw your strength from this world, allowing these whispers to guide you in battle and strengthen your mind. When your call to mind summons up forgotten knowledge or your defensive insight grants you the edge that allows you to survive an attack, give thanks to your spiritual advisers. When Sense Motive warns you of suspicious behavior, attribute that insight to your quori spirit or an absent friend, and remember that you are never alone.
In addition, look at the dominant trait of your spiritual lineage and act accordingly. If you are aggressive, you might have trouble standing in one place for more than a few minutes. If you are insightful, you might be prone to long lectures. You are not manically devoted to this single trait, but it should certainly be the driving force behind your personality.
Like all atavists, you rely on stealth and guerilla tactics, with mind blades and inertial armor transforming you from an unarmed kalashtar into a deadly warrior in the blink of an eye. Atavists will almost always team up to focus on one opponent at a time, using the aid another action if necessary to ensure successful attacks against well-armored foes.
A typical atavist strike force will include two or more soulknives of the same spiritual lineage (either aggressive or insightful), backed up by an esoteric atavist with strong psion skills (discipline depending on the needs of the mission). The team will coordinate using augmented mindlink, identifying targets and waiting to strike until the situation is to their advantage. They will always try to set up flanking positions and begin by eliminating spellcasters or psions, putting the emphasis on swift and devastating offense as they combine attacks to pick off the weakest opponents.
If the assignment looks especially dangerous, a cleric of the Path of Light might be present to provide healing. Though clerics rarely pursue the atavist class, a cleric who travels with an atavist cell will usually possess the Gestalt Anchor feat.
The line of Serath (see Organization, below) pioneered the path of the atavist less than thirty years ago—a very short time by kalashtar standards. Serath atavists frequently visit the major kalashtar enclaves of Khorvaire to explain the concept of atavism and teach aspiring students. All are welcome, and even those who cannot pursue the class might be able to learn the Gestalt Anchor feat.
The first steps on the path of the atavist are an intense experience requiring considerable mental discipline. Aspirants are broken into groups based on spiritual lineage. They undergo harsh training designed to break down the walls they have built around their personalities, eventually opening their minds to contact with other kalashtar of their line.
The process can be physically deadly or result in permanent psychological damage, but the Serath see the atavists as the army of the kalashtar and allow no room for weakness or coddling. While atavists are most effective in the company of other atavists, your numbers are extremely small. As an adventuring atavist, you typically see your fellow adventurers as recruits in the battle against darkness (even if you might have neglected to tell them this).
As an atavist, you find it best to focus on a tight path and hold to it. Choose a few skills to excel at. If you are a soulknife with relatively low hit points, focus on your ability to deal damage as quickly as possible, acquiring Psionic Weapon, Power Attack, and similar feats. Likewise, psions should look to Overchannel, Psionic Endowment, and other feats that will let you deal the greatest amount of damage in the shortest amount of time.
As an atavist, you can always obtain room and board in a kalashtar community, even if the residents rarely have more to offer than a bowl of gruel and a stretch of hard floor. Local psions will offer their skills if it is clear that your goals relate to the battle for the light, but a greedy atavist will be viewed with embarrassment and shame. Other atavists of your lineage will go out of their way to provide you assistance, and they will expect you to do the same for them.
ATAVISTS IN THE WORLD
“For the first time, we have the strength to take the battle to our ancient foe. Yet I fear that the atavists might lose sight of the light as they battle the darkness.”
—Darashana, Lady of the Fourth Dawn
The atavist epitomizes the alien nature of the kalashtar—an outsider soul hidden within a human form. Coordinating telepathically and wielding blades of pure thought, atavists personify the powers that are the kalashtar birthright.
The atavist shadow watchers are more an informal resistance movement than an organized army. Atavists are divided into cells—strike teams of three to six members (much like a typical adventuring party), with half the cell representing a particular lineage and the rest chosen for the sake of versatility. Occasionally, non-kalashtar who have proven their skill and dedication will be invited to join an atavist cell.
The dominant force behind the atavists is the lineage of Serath. The mystic Soserath had long been interested in finding a way to revive the flagging strength of the dispersed kalashtar quori, and the discipline of the atavist emerged from this work. Soserath claimed that with sufficient dedication to the path, every kalashtar could come to be the equal of one of the quori—potentially giving the kalashtar the power to face the Dreaming Dark. However, Soserath was killed ten years ago by thoughtstealer assassins. His work is now carried on by others of his line.
Atavist cells remain in constant motion, searching for new threats. When atavists arrive in a new community, they will check in with the local shadow watchers if any are present. If not, they will spend a few days investigating the area on their own—identifying possible targets, eliminating these forces as quickly and efficiently as possible, then fading into the shadows and moving on to the next community. If there are repercussions from an attack, it is likely that a new cell will be called in to deal with them, preventing the original cell from becoming potential targets by staying too long in the area.
The two most accomplished atavists of the modern age are Tolserath (LG male kalashtar, psion [seer] 6/soulknife 1/atavist 8) and Sharserath (LE male kalashtar, soulknife 6/atavist 9). Tolserath is generally seen as Soserath’s successor, overseeing the training of new atavists as he uses correspond to keep in touch with the leaders of different cells. Sharserath was once a noble soul, but had a radical change of personality after narrowly surviving an assassination attempt. Recently, he has been encouraging his followers to adopt the methodology of the Dreaming Dark, and many in the movement feel that he has turned away from the Path of Light.
The kalashtar are a secretive people, with the atavists an even more secret sect within this silent population. As a result, few outside the kalashtar have even heard of the atavists and are unlikely to react to the name in any particular way. The kalashtar of Khorvaire are usually friendly toward atavists, and kalashtar of the same spiritual lineage are invariably helpful. The kalashtar of Adar are still reserving judgment about the tradition, and are usually indifferent toward these visitors from Khorvaire.
Agents of the Dreaming Dark will always be hostile if they recognize an atavist—but are more likely to conceal this reaction and arrange an ambush than to act rashly or reveal their presence.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (psionics) can research the atavists to learn more about them (with Kalashtar receiving a +5 bonus on the check). When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including the information from lower DCs.
DC 10: “All kalashtar are bound to spirits from the Region of Dreams.”
DC 20: “Certain kalashtar use this spiritual connection to enhance their mental and physical abilities. Known as atavists, these kalashtar gain enhanced abilities when fighting alongside others of their order.”
DC 25: “The atavists have a very loose organization comprised of small groups of wandering kalashtar. Most of the atavists are stealthy warriors who fight with conjured weapons, or mystics who wield considerable mental power. Atavists must be close to one another to gain their enhanced skills, but most can enhance their abilities to a lesser degree even when alone.”
DC 35: “The atavists were first formed around thirty years ago. Since the kalashtar who founded the order was killed, two kalashtar from his line have been giving general direction to the members of the order, but these two have very different ideas as to what the atavists should be doing.”
ATAVISTS IN THE GAME
The secretive nature of the atavists makes it simple to incorporate them into a campaign. A band of atavists could emerge from the shadows to help the party battle a powerful evil. If there is a kalashtar in the party, a ’serath atavist could recruit him into the order or an atavist relative of the character’s could come to him for help. Alternatively, the atavists could be set up against the party, either by duped kalashtar working for Sharserath, or with the player characters themselves unknowingly assisting a scheme of the Dreaming Dark or the Lords of Dust.
There are no formal ranks among the atavists, with some leading and some following according to their skills. If a PC atavist shows promise, though, he will inevitably be given responsibility within the order.
In a campaign without psionics, the atavist’s manifester levels could easily be converted to general caster levels, with the atavistic link based on blood ties to an ancient empire or mystical creature. This change would be particularly appropriate if the prestige class was focused on sorcerers.
Because of their secretive nature, friendly contact between an atavist and an adventuring party will generally be initiated by the atavist. However, the party could easily encounter an atavist in the midst of battling the forces of darkness, or could be duped into thinking that a good atavist is a villain.
EL 11: Outside the elders of the Serath line, Lanharath is one of the most gifted atavists in Khorvaire. Recently, though, he led his cell into an ambush in which his fellow atavists were killed, misled by false information that was fed to him by one of the Lords of Dust. Now Lanharath wants to avenge his fallen brethren and destroy the powerful and cunning rakshasa responsible for their deaths, but he needs the aid of a strong adventuring party to do it.
Lanharath: Male kalashtar soulknife 5/atavist 4; CR 9;
Medium humanoid; HD 9d10+9; hp 63;
Init +8; Spd 30 ft.;
AC 23, touch 15, flat-footed 19;
Base Atk +6; Grp +8;
Atk +13 melee or ranged (1d6+4/19–20, mind blade);
Full Atk +13/+8 melee or ranged (1d6+4/19–20, mind blade);
Special Abilities: align mind blade, mind blade, psychic strike +1d8, shape mind blade, throw mind blade;
Special Qualities: augmented mindlink, call to mind 3/day, defensive insight, detect possession, kalashtar traits, mindlink, naturally psionic, racial substitution level, spiritual lineage, supportive mindlink, unarmed strike/mind blade improvement;
AL LG; SV Fort +6, Ref +12, Will +10;
Str 14, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8;
power points 9.
Skills: Autohypnosis* +13, Balance +6, Bluff +1, Concentration +9, Diplomacy +1, Disguise –1 (+1 impersonating humans), Hide +12, Intimidate +1, Jump +4, Listen +5, Move Silently +8, Spot +5, Tumble +12;
Feats: Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Psionic Meditation, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (mind blade)^^B^^.
Languages: Common, Quor.
Align Mind Blade (Su): Lanharath can spend 1 power point as a free action to imbue his mind blade with a good alignment for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. This effect lasts for 1 round.
Mind Blade (Su): As a free action once per round, Lanharath can create a semisolid blade composed of psychic energy. This blade functions identically to a +1 short sword. For more information about the mind blade, see the soulknife class description in the Expanded Psionics Handbook.
Psychic Strike (Su): As a move action, Lanharath can imbue his mind blade with destructive psychic energy. This effect deals an extra 1d8 points of damage to the next living, nonmindless target he successfully hits with his mind blade. For more information about this ability, see the soulknife class description in the Expanded Psionics Handbook.
Shape Mind Blade (Su): As a full-round action, Lanharath can change his mind blade to replicate a +1 longsword or a +1 bastard sword, or two identical (nonmagical) short swords. For more information about this ability, see the soulknife class description in the Expanded Psionics Handbook.
Throw Mind Blade (Ex): Lanharath can throw his mind blade as a ranged weapon with a range increment of 30 feet. A thrown mind blade dissipates after the attack is resolved.
Augmented Mindlink (Ps): Lanharath can contact up to three minds when using his racial mindlink power, as long as each target is no more than 15 feet from one other target. If Lanharath is psionically focused when he contacts another psionically focused mind with this power, he gains 1 temporary power point that lasts for 1 hour (or until used).
Call to Mind (Ps): 3/day, manifester level 4th. For campaigns not using the Expanded Psionics Handbook, use the following description.
Three times per day, by meditating for 1 minute after a failed Knowledge check, Lanharath can make a new check on the same subject with a +4 competence bonus.
Defensive Insight (Su): By expending his psionic focus, Lanharath can add a +2 insight bonus to his AC and on his Reflex saves for 1 minute (or until he becomes psionically focused again, whichever comes first). If any ally with at least 1 power point is within 30 feet, his insight bonus improves to +3. If that ally is a kalashtar, the bonus improves to +4.
Detect Possession (Su): By expending his psionic focus, Lanharath can learn whether a single visible creature within 30 feet is possessed.
Kalashtar Traits: +2 racial bonus on saves against mind-affecting spells and abilities, including possession; immunity to dream and nightmare spells.
Mindlink (Ps): 1/day, manifester level 4th. Lanharath’s mindlink lasts for 9 rounds.
Naturally Psionic (Su): Kalashtar gain 1 extra power point per character level, regardless of whether they choose a psionic class.
Racial Substitution Level: Kalashtar soulknife 1st.
Spiritual Lineage (Ex): Lanharath’s bond with his quori spirit’s insightful personality grants him Listen and Spot as class skills.
Supportive Mindlink (Su): While Lanharath’s mindlink power is active, all allies in the mindlink with 9 or fewer Hit Dice gain a +1 morale bonus on Will saves.
Possessions: +1 chain shirt, +1 heavy steel shield, ring of protection +1, gloves of Dexterity +2, cloak of resistance +1, rope of climbing.