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View Full Version : Fear-Stacking with Aristocrat [D&D 3.5]



rooster
2009-11-09, 03:37 AM
Hi folks,

I'm going to be playing an Aristocrat in an upcoming game. There isn't going to be much of a push for combat optimization, but this being D&D (and my DM being unfamiliar), I want something to add. With the Aristocrat's Charisma-heavy skill list, I figure Diplomacy/Handle Animal and Fear effects are my best bets. That's where I start running into trouble.

Forgotten Realms' Dreadful Wrath feat is a no-brainer: a Character-level based minute-long Shaken effect which triggers off attack rolls and aggressive spells without requiring an action. This much is simple.

I'm running into trouble figuring how it stacks with other effects:

The PHB2's Intimidating Strike says it "You cannot use this feat to worsen an opponent's fear condition beyond shaken." Does this mean that another effect can't bump a Shaken status generated from Intimidating Strike up to Frightened? Or does it just mean that Intimidating Strike can't be the effect that escalates a target's Shaken condition?

In the same vein, Libris Mortis's Daunting Presence says "This feat has no effect on a creature that is already shaken." Does that mean it can't be used in fear condition-stacking, or just that it can't be the effect to bump a target's status up to Frightened?
(I guess my real question here is: Is the source of the Shaken effect persistent for the duration or just the Shaken effect itself?)

...

I'm also having trouble finding effective low-level fear abilities that aren't class-dependent and which don't specify that their targets have to have fewer HD than the user. Demoralizing with Intimidate is weak out of the can: the target has to be in reach, the target's save scales quite unpleasantly, the effect only lasts 1 round.

Before Imperious Command/Never Outnumbered at level 6, is there anything I can use to generate fear effects at a range? Any way to affect multiple targets? Any way to create generate a Frightened condition with greater than 1 round duration?

Anything requiring non-Aristocrat class levels is out.

Thanks!

Nich_Critic
2009-11-09, 05:28 AM
You should take a look at the "never outnumbered" skill trick from complete scoundrel (IIRC), which lets you intimidate all enemies within 10ft. Only once per encounter, though.

For ways to get fear effects in general, this (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=3809.0) guide is good. Look specifically in the feats section, since some of them aren't class specific.

That said, it's going to be hard to do this effectively as an aristocrat alone, since a lot of the more powerful fear effects come from class abilities.

For intimidating strike, you can use it to make a foe shaken, but you can't use it to escalate a foe to frightened. Other fear effects without that limitation will still escalate. The same holds with daunting presence. But you could (and should), for example, follow up with intimidate to elevate them to frightened, since demoralizing doesn't have restrictions.

Also keep in mind that while your ideal situation is a cowering opponent (that is, panicked and trapped, and therefor helpless), frightening is excellent as well as it lets you follow up your attack with a charge to catch up while they're trying to escape.

Fishy
2009-11-09, 06:01 AM
"And the father says 'It's a family act, you'll love it...'"

Ahem. Intimidating strike can't be used to escalate someone to frightened. But when they get Struck, any other fear effect will push them up to Frightened, where they will stay for the duration of the longest fear effect- so they're running away from you for the entire rest of the encounter.

Pretty much the only save-or-die that you're going to get as an Aristocrat.

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2009-11-09, 08:46 AM
There's the feat Frightful Presence in the Draconomicon (page 106) can grant you a second frightful presence ability, which would stack with the one granted by Dreadful Wrath. It can't be taken any sooner than level 6, so you may consider delaying Imperious Command until 9th. Never Outnumbered should be taken fairly early. Your earlier feats can include Ability Focus, from the Monster Manual, to give Dreadful Wrath a +2 DC. I'd probably also pick up Combat Reflexes and use a reach weapon with armor spikes, fleeing opponents who enter and then exit a threatened square will still provoke an AoO despite the full retreat action. In that case, making an Intimidate check every round on an already shaken foe will both take that opponent out of the fight for a round, and give you a free attack as they flee. Maybe pick up Skill Focus: Intimidate, possibly via the Otyugh Hole, and you could even go half-orc for the feat Dreadful Wrath (+4 intimidate), in both Complete Scoundrel and Races of Destiny.

Consider instead going with a Thug (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm#fighterVariantThug) (reflavored) and taking the Zhentarim Soldier (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20060327a) substitution levels. I'd probably go with fun feats like Improved Disarm and Spring Attack, and maybe even pick up Whirlwind Attack. Or, just go with a tripper build, but that probably wouldn't be necessary for this game.

Mark Hall
2009-11-09, 10:06 AM
"And the father says 'It's a family act, you'll love it...'"


Damn you. Now I'll have Bob Saget quotes running through my head all day. :smallwink:

Friend Computer
2009-11-09, 05:00 PM
Consider instead going with a Thug (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm#fighterVariantThug) (reflavored) and taking the Zhentarim Soldier (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20060327a) substitution levels. I'd probably go with fun feats like Improved Disarm and Spring Attack, and maybe even pick up Whirlwind Attack. Or, just go with a tripper build, but that probably wouldn't be necessary for this game.
Seriously?
When someone says "Anything requiring non-Aristocrat class levels is out." why do people even bother with this kind of advice?
The OP doesn't even want to multi-class, let alone chose a different class in the first place. Why would you ignore such an important part of the post?

Curmudgeon
2009-11-09, 06:49 PM
Libris Mortis's Daunting Presence says "This feat has no effect on a creature that is already shaken." Does that mean it can't be used in fear condition-stacking, or just that it can't be the effect to bump a target's status up to Frightened?
As stated, it can't do anything if a creature is in the shaken condition. So if it's already frightened, Daunting Presence could escalate it to panicked. But you'll need two different effects to do the escalation. I think that excludes two abilities (Frightful Presence) with the same name.
Does the Armor Class bonus ability from the monk, swordsage, and ninja stack?
No, each of these abilities provides the same bonus. You are not able to benefit from multiple sources that have the same name more then once.

Dimers
2009-11-09, 11:43 PM
How about Kiai and Greater Kiai, from either OA or CW? Well, okay, you won't qualify for Greater for forever, but the basic feat can affect multiple foes at range and the save DC scales with your level.

EDIT: Whoops, sorry, missed the whole "don't specify that their targets have to have fewer HD than the user" thing.

rooster
2009-11-10, 12:25 AM
NC and Fishy, that's how I was reading it too. It's good to see I'm not way off base before I propose it to my DM.

BF, I'm probably going to blow off Frightful Presence because of the HD cap and the redundancy with DM. Ability Focus, though, is something I hadn't considered and which could make for a nice level 3 feat.

Curmudgeon, that's a good catch. I wouldn't use that reading on Daunting Presence (I think it's pretty clearly against RAI), but it's fun to see that sort of thing.

Thanks, everybody!

gorfnab
2009-11-10, 03:01 AM
If you have Weapons of Legacy available you could see about getting him the Mindsplinter.

Thurbane
2009-11-10, 08:29 PM
The Imperious Command feat and the armor enhancement (name escapes me) from Drow of the Underdark seem to be solid favorites for any fear/Initimidate based build.

Curmudgeon
2009-11-10, 11:02 PM
the armor enhancement (name escapes me) from Drow of the Underdark
That would be fearsome. It's on page 97, and lets you demoralize opponents as a move action.

Akal Saris
2009-11-10, 11:20 PM
If you haven't yet made the character and want some more cheesiness, swearing the character's service to an elder evil can net free bonus feats, including several that increase your Intimidate skill bonuses. At the price of being quite evil and possibly mad :P

The PHB II has some diplomacy and bluff related combat feats that might synergize well with this charisma-focused character, by the way.

rooster
2009-11-10, 11:59 PM
The PHB II has some diplomacy and bluff related combat feats that might synergize well with this charisma-focused character, by the way.

Ooo, Combat Panache is pretty neat.

Usually our group ignores tactical feats in favor of giving those sorts of abilities to anyone who's creative with the skills their characters have.

On the other hand, I'm not sure if this DM will allow that sort of thing, so I might take it if we ever get to level 9.

And Thurbane/Curmudgeon, that's a great catch! I'll definitely see if I can get that enhancement somehow.

Thurbane
2009-11-11, 12:11 AM
Happy to help - Aristocrat is by far my favorite NPC class, and I always like to see creative builds around NPC classes. :smallsmile: