– In which the most efficacious of ioun stones are ennumerated and described. –
There are some incredible Ioun Stones out there, but they are buried in tables full of worthless tripe. This will essentially just be a run down of the ioun stones that give the biggest bang for your buck so you don’t need to read dozens of the terrible ones. I’ll go in order of ascending price.
Homemade Ioun Torch – 75 gp; Darkness effects are for ninnies.
Most people know about the typical Ioun Torch. They emit light as a torch, as they are basically just a dull gray ioun stone (25 gp) with continual flame cast on it. Well, I played a cleric who for other reasons had taken the Heighten Spell feat. Darkness and light effects are cancelled out by effects of the opposite type of a higher or equal level. My brother had the idea that I could just cast heightened continual flame on some dull grays myself and make Ioun Torches that laugh at deeper darkness as they are technically 5th level spell effects. The 50 gp added onto the cost of the dull gray ioun stone is ruby dust, which is a spell component of continual flame.
Various +1 competence to skill associated with a given attribute – 200 gp
I have mixed feelings towards these. While they are dirt cheap (probably the best gold-to-bonus ratio there is for skill competence bonuses other than the Mask of Stony Demeanor) they are only +1, and don’t stack with anything higher you get. That said, early game play these can be handy doo-dads to have whirling around. They are particularly nice for any skills you like using, but not so much that you’re likely to invest significant gold in.
Cracked Dusty Rose Prism – 500 gp; +1 competence bonus to initiative.
I can’t think of any other ways to get a competence bonus to initiative, or any class that’s getting it as a free class feature. Think of every time you have ever tied initiative, and had the lower modifier. Now add in every time you’ve had the higher modifier, but lost the roll by 1. This makes those situations a bit more unlikely, and costs a pittance.
Magenta Cracked Prism – 800 gp; +2 competence for any skill.
There are certain skills that MW tools don’t work well for, as there are just too many usages for the skill a character encounters. Diplomacy, for example, generally only get kits that aid with one particular group of people or species. 800 gold to benefit all usages of such skills is a good deal. There are probably other wondrous items that give higher competence modifiers, but cracked magenta is slotless and cheap.
Interestingly, you can change what skill the stone benefits every morning. Nifty. Thanks to Dorothy Lindman for pointing this out.
Orange Cracked Prism – 1,000 gp; get a cantrip on your spells known
Some cantrips are incredibly useful, or just fun flavor-wise. The don’t all appear on every spell list. A thousand gold for the infini-cast spell you long for is a good deal. The item doesn’t specifically say you need to be a spellcaster, but it would make sense that one would.
Scarlet and Green Cracked Cabochlon – 1,400 gp; +4 to one use of Endruance.
This one won’t be worthwhile for many players, but depending on your campaign setting it could be a lifesaver. In a frozen or blasted wasteland? Get +4 to saves against hot/cold. Aquatic? +4 to hold breath. No food? +4. You only get one though, and for most of us there is a caster in the party that handles these trivial concerns. Still, could be great for some.
Opalescent White Cracked Pyramid – 1,500 gp; weapon familiarity with a specific keyed weapon
How many times have you wanted to use a certain kind of weapon with a character that isn’t proficient? Don’t worry about that again, for a mere 1.5k. You’ll need to keep that weapon safe though, as the stone is useless without the specific keyed weapon. Invest in an adamantine version when you get this stone.
Pale Orange Cracked Rhomboid – 1,800 gp; reduce resurrection material costs by 20% once.
Less than worthless if you are using raise dead or cheaper, but if your party has switched to resurrection methods costing more than 9,000 gp this will lower total material component costs somewhat. Or, you know, just don’t die.
Clear Spindle – 4000 gp; No need to eat or drink. Resonance makes bad-guys unable to dominate you.
This life-saver is well-known for good reason. The dietary concerns are occasionally handy, but that isn’t why we’re getting it. Dominate effects are almost always cast by evil casters. That’s just how it is. Do you have a low will save? You need this. If you get taken over, the party is now far more likely to get wiped (unless your character sucks). Don’t be a puppet.
Pale Green Cracked Prism – 4000 gp; +1 competence bonus to attacks or saves.
Most everyone likes having good saves. This costs less than the difference between a +2 and +3 cloak, and the bonus stacks with the cloak’s. The attack roll version? Well, I suppose some people might want it, but competence bonuses to attack rolls aren’t as rare, and frankly aren’t as survival-critical most of the time.
Dusty Rose Prism – 5000 gp; +1 insight bonus to AC. Resonating boost CMB and CMD by 2.
Any tank will benefit from the Rose once they have their armor’s enhancement up to +2 or +3. Upgrading to +4 costs 7,000, so this is more cost effective and stacks. No maneuver specialist is going to pass up resonating it, others should likely just have the Clear Spindle in their Wayfinders.
Mossy Disk – 5000 gp; +5 competence bonus to any Knowledge skill.
As far as I know, this is the only wondrous item that gives a sizable competence bonus to Knowledge. It is a bit pricey, but not bank breaking from level 8 or so onward. Worth picking up, especially if there are particular enemy types giving you trouble.
Various +2 Enhancement bonuses to an Attribute – 8000 gp
The same, non-stacking bonus as a belt/headband, but for twice the price. Seems terrible, but it really isn’t. Sometimes you want a physical or mental stat to +2, but you want another stat in the same slot category to scale further. You could get the two stat version for 2,000 gold cheaper than a +2 stone and +2 slotted item, but upgrading the slotted from +2 to +4 costs 16,000 more than having a +2 stone and a +4 single stat slotted item.
Opalescent White Pyramid (Normal) – 10,000 gp; Proficiency with a weapon type. Resonance grants Weapon Focus.
Potentially two feats for 10k. Can’t beat that with a stick. I imagine many folks have found an awesome super-enchanted beat stick exotic weapon before. For a fair price, you know exactly what you’re doing with it. Oh, and unlike the 1,500 gp cracked version, it is not keyed to a specific weapon, but the weapon type. I imagine giving it to eidolons would be a great trick. Save those precious evolution points and feats to hand your critter a longbow, lance, etc.
Vermilion Rhomboid – 10,000 gp; +5 competence bonus to Acrobatics and Swim checks.
Sometimes when you need to make one of these checks, the consequences of failure are very dire. I enjoy playing my brutish low-skill heavy armor wearer as much as the next guy, but a creek or rickety staircase are as often my nemeses as demons and ogres. Once you’re in high-level play, this may be worth dropping some gold on (though a few Elixirs of Swimming and Elixirs of Climbing would probably be cheaper and more effective).
Lavender and Green Ellipsoid – 40,000 gp; Absorb 8th level spells and below, up to 50 total levels of spells. Resonating and holding the wayfinder lets the user absorb as an immediate action.
There is really only one situation I see this being a good purchase in, but it would be epic. High level campaign, this is what your caster brings to the final battle against a caster BBEG. Spellcraft what they’re doing, and stop it. Repeatedly. Use your own dispel magics on the 9th level spells if they have them, complete shutdown.
Well, those are my top picks for ioun stones. Happy trails.