View Full Version : Build Suggestions for a somewhat low-magic setting

2011-09-06, 02:35 PM
Hey folks!

The campaign I was running as a DM finally came to a close and the 'DM hat' has passed to another member of our group. We've been asked to build characters subject to the following constraints:

4d6 drop lowest, 12x, pick your fave 6, for stats
4th level characters
Up to LA+2 for free (!)
Feats every odd level, stat pts every even level, but you can't buff the same stat consecutively.
Allegedly Low magic setting, but the DM is allowing full casters. (I take this to mean "No Magic Marts!")
Any 3.5 source, allowed if used responsibly (Our group takes this to mean "Carefully explain to the DM exactly what you're capable of doing before you consider it approved").

Other people in the group have committed to:

A DD sorcerer, probably catfolk+draconic. The Player doesn't really understand optimization, so don't read this as "The Mailman!".
A Necropolitan Cleric with some LA+1 base race or template. Player wants to use DMM:Persist to be a tank, and the DM is allowing him to apply cha mod to hp if he burns a feat.
A modified psionic Thri-Kreen Psionic Rogue. Wants to psychically sneak attack things.
A human rogue with some template(s). Unsure of mechanical niche.

I'm the most experienced optimizer in the group, which honestly doesn't say much. I wanted to create a character that would play well with the concepts the others are looking at while simultaneously not stepping on any toes, and not being hamstrung by allegedly low-magic setting. In short, I want to carve out my own niche without intruding on anyone else's carving :smallsmile:

In that vein, I'd been thinking about either a ToB class (likely a warblade or swordsage), a gish of the arcane or psionic variety, or an Incarnum build.

Thoughts on ToB:

I love ToB with the passion of 1000 suns. I'm a little worried though that a Warblade might step on the Cleric's toes, and I'm certain that a Swordsage would step on the rogues's toes. That being said, it's hard to deny that once-in-a-very-long-time-opportunity to live the dream as a githzerai swordsage!

All I need here is a two-level dip in OA samurai and I will barely care about the difficult to find magic items. Having access to a primary weapon that I can control the magic-ness of would work nicely.

Thoughts on Gish:

I've never played an arcane gish before, and I particularly liked some of the Suel Arcanamach builds that incorporate some ToB into them.

On the psionic side, a PsyWar who specializes in CotB/MetaClaw/VampClaw would be nearly gear independent. Or if I didn't want claws, the Soulbound Weapon ACF would work nicely.

Thoughts on Incarnum:

This option seems really good. PRC-wise, the DM is willing to be flexible about Ironsoul Forgemaster racial requirements. I could be good at crafting, and leverage that to help out other party members, and in the meantime, soulmelds are neat enough that I probably won't miss magic marts too much.

As far as builds go, I was looking at either a Totemist-splash-Incarnate or Incarnate-splash-Totemist.

If I go the former I think totemist17-18/Incarnate2-3 would be a good way to mix some of the cool incarnate soulmelds with the totemist ones. Depending on my alignment, I could try to be a range striker with Sighting Gloves/Incarnate Avatar or be even scarier in melee with Bluesteel Bracers/Incarnate Avatar/Mantle of Flame.

If I try the latter, something like Incarnate8/Totemist2/ISFM10 seems like it could be really good at crafting, which would be GREAT if our party is going to have a hard time tracking down appropriate magic items.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what sounds like it would work the best out of all of these? Or potentially, suggestions for appropriate builds?

Right now, I think I'm leaning towards the Incarnum build because I haven't had a chance to do anything with it yet.

2011-09-06, 02:52 PM
The unoptimal players are going to chafe under a lack of magic items. The Clericzilla won't care. Going Artificer would help the little guys. See if you can get the Cleric to Chain his buffs so that everyone gets to be awesome.

I do notice that between tank, DPS and artillery you don't really have a battlefield controller, and yet all your build ideas are "more damage". If you plan to kill things dead before they have a chance to react, then that's a thing, but if you really want to avoid stepping on people's toes, then do any non-damage thing.

2011-09-06, 03:59 PM
With at least one level of OA Samurai, Ancestral Relic (BoED), and Item Familiar (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/itemFamiliars.htm) you can have two weapons and two other items that you upgrade as you choose. If you include Chameleon 2 in your build you can use your floating feat to use every item creation feat you qualify for.

Your party could use a Batman Wizard, to buff the rogues and crowd control opponents so they're considerably less of a threat. Take Craft Wondrous Item and maybe Craft Arms/Armor, so you can equip your party during downtime and turn a nice profit in the process. I'd say use Quasilycanthrope (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/mb/20040721a) Half-Giant Primordial Giant for the free +2 LA, otherwise maybe Drow or Phrenic Whisper Gnome with Magic in the Blood. Paragnostic Apostle has some very party-friendly benefits, but only take as many levels as you need for the abilities you want. Incantatrix, Master Specialist, and Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil are all great choices.

You could go with an arcane gish who can buff and crowd control. See if your DM will let you forfeit the free level adjustment to go something like Spellhoarding Venerable Dragonwrought Desert Kobold Loredrake, Stalwart Battle Sorcerer 4/ Swiftblade (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/prc/20070327) 9/ Abjurant Champion 5/ Dragonslayer 1/ Spellsword 1, which gets 20th level Wizard spellcasting and +19 BAB at 20th level with the Greater Draconic Rite of Passage. Your spellcasting ability will be higher than your character level for the first 2/3 of your career, but you'll be able to start out casting Haste on the party which I'm sure they'll appreciate. Your 2nd level spells should be Web, Glitterdust, and Rope Trick and start with a Lesser Rod of Extend for Rope Trick and Haste.

A pretty standard arcane gish build would be something like Fighter 1/ Wizard 2/ Human or Elf Paragon 3/ Spellsword 1/ Incantatrix 4/ Abjurant Champion 5/ Eldritch Knight or Knight Phantom 4. You can pick up some or all of the Abjurant Champion before Incantatrix if you need to be tankier, but you should go for Cooperative Metamagic and Metamagic Effect asap for persistent buffs. Your first racial paragon level should be taken at 1st for skill points. Fighter can be replaced with Crusader and taken later for higher level maneuvers. A standard Cha-based gish build is Paladin 2/ Sorcerer 4/ Spellsword 1/ Abjurant Champion 5/ Sacred Exorcist 8, though it's not as strong as the previous build. Use Harmonious Knight (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20060327a) with a Badge of Valor to Inspire Courage for +2, though you'll want Melodic Casting so you don't have to stop inspiring to cast. In any case use Power Attack/Leap Attack with Wraithstrike and Arcane Strike, then (Lesser Rod of Quickened or Circlet of Rapid Casting) Whirling Blade to hit everything in a line with the same damage bonuses.

For a psionic gish, consider going Wildshape Ranger 1/ Psion 4/ Warblade 1/ Slayer 10/ Psion 4, either Kineticist or Telepath because you'll want Psicrystal Affinity, Solicit Psicrystal, Control Body, and Schism, so you'll need Expanded Knowledge for one of those last two. If you don't want to use that cheese, maybe go Wildshape Ranger 1/ Wilder 4/ Slayer 9/ Sanctified Mind 6 instead. Share Pain: Psicrystal with Vigor + Share Powers gives you an amazing damage cushion, especially considering the Psicrystal's hardness. For your free +2 LA, I'd go Draconic Half-Giant Primordial Giant or Half-Ogre Primordial Giant, otherwise Shadow Creature and Phrenic are some of your best choices.

A bit weaker ToB Psionic Gish that I'm rather fond of goes Crusader or Warblade* 4/ Sanctified Mind 1/ Warmind 10/ Sanctified Mind 5, which gets +20 BAB and a manifester level of 19 with Practiced Manifester (for bonus powerpoints and augmenting, the Warmind progression stops at 10). *Warblade would need racial weapon proficiencies via Outsider to qualify. You'll need a Psionic race or Wild/Hidden Talent or maybe Warped Mind as well. Be sure to pick up Martial Study and maybe Martial Stance later on for some higher level maneuvers and stances, considering prestige class levels always add +1 initiator level as per the unclear wording.

2011-09-06, 04:07 PM
If you're doing a front line fighter with +2 LA for free, consider the Volodni race from Unapproachable East. You're type (Plant) with all the immunities that confers. (or conifers, if you prefers. :smallbiggrin: )

By fluff, it limits you to non-metallic armor and weapons, but Darkwood isn't a stretch by 4th level, nor is Dragonhide armor.

2011-09-06, 04:12 PM
Wait... you're worried about a Swordsage stepping on the Rogue's toes?

Far from it, my friend! In fact, you will quickly be his best buddy with a single 1st level stance: Island of Blades. It lets you flank with him as long as the two of you are next to the same opponent. Now, what does flanking let him do again?

You can also go into Setting Sun for 'no' maneuvers, and be a passable 'tank', as long as you have some room to maneuver. Baffling Defense + Shifting Defense = near immunity to melee attacks! Throw in some Scorpion Parry to make opponents hit each other (or themselves!) and you're seeing why this is not a bad choice.

Also don't forget Counter-Charge, in case the GM throws an Ubercharger at you.

2011-09-06, 05:20 PM
I'm going to try to talk the cleric into DMM:Chain over Persist. There's nothing like a persist cleric to beg the DM to hit you with a dispel...

Hmm...So do you think that maybe a PsyWar knockdown/knockback guy, or maybe a standstill-crusader would be a better choice? It'll let me keep the bad guys in place while the rogues and cleric go nuts...

Now that you mention it, I think you may be right about the batman role. The Quasilycanthrope Primordial Half-Giant looks really saucy, I'll have to give a long hard look at some sort of wizard or wizard/ToB gish build.


You raise an excellent point about the swordsage. As I mentioned, I'm feeling a pull to live the githzerai dream in this situation :smallsmile:

2011-09-06, 05:27 PM
4d6 drop lowest, 12x, pick your fave 6, for statsThat's a ridiculous amount of rolling, when he could've just given you a hefty point buy. :smallconfused:

Allegedly Low magic setting, but the DM is allowing full casters. (I take this to mean "No Magic Marts!")"Low magic" usually means "very few magic items (for you)".

I say go for the Githzerai swordsage, how often do you get the chance? If you lack control, then so be it!

2011-09-06, 05:33 PM
That's a ridiculous amount of rolling, when he could've just given you a hefty point buy.

I completely agree. This is actually in some way my fault. I wanted to do point buy for my campaign to keep away the variance gods, but everyone else desperately wanted to roll stats. I picked a rolling method that I knew would give them good, and fairly tightly distributed stats, so it felt like they were rolling but they were almost point buying.

The new DM liked the old idea, and decided to hold it over.

Edit: The more I think about it, the more enticed I am by the githzerai swordsage :smallsmile:

2011-09-13, 09:25 AM
The DM has really been driving home the low-magic thing (particularly until we get to the mid-levels). He's also been pretty unclear about how this makes sense in a world where we are evidently allowed to have a full caster of each type in our party.

It's sounding a lot like what Greenish remarked:

"Low magic" usually means "very few magic items (for you)".

in which case, it seems like the casters are going to have a much easier time. Moreover, he's still mulling over whether to allow me the OA Samurai dip for the Ancestral Daisho feature.

If I can't get access to that feature, do you think it might be better to go with something like a totemist or IronSoulFM who is basically gear independent/able-to-craft-their-own-gear rather than hope I'm able to get the magic items I'd like?

2011-09-13, 10:03 AM
If he's going to screw melee characters by not allowing them to get decent magical weapons, then just don't play a melee character.

It still looks like a Batman Wizard would be your best choice. Definitely get Collegiate Wizard just in case he decides that 'low-magic' means 'you can't find any extra spells anywhere' so you'll get four per level instead of the standard two.

2011-09-13, 03:43 PM
Maybe I should strongly consider the Wizard. I've read a little about specializing, would you recommend Focused Specialist: Conjuration banning Ench/Evoc/Necro?

Aside, away from my books right now, but Collegiate Wizard is a 1st level only feat, complete arcane, right?

2011-09-13, 04:05 PM
So you are wanting something either gear-independent, or the ability to make gear, particularly at mid-levels...

Well, if you want to wait until 14th character level, you can always go Warlock12/Chameleon2. Can craft a goodly portion of the items in the game fairly easily, and ride the xp curl!

2011-09-13, 05:18 PM
Heh heh, takes a while but busts the whole low-magic thing out of the water around 14 doesn't it. :smallamused:

2011-09-13, 05:26 PM
Heh heh, takes a while but busts the whole low-magic thing out of the water around 14 doesn't it. :smallamused:

Best of all, you're not screwed out of a feat when adventuring, because you can just shift your floating feat over to something like Extra Invocation when you're heading into dangerous country. In fact, it significantly increases the utility and power of a Warlock, because there's at least one invocation you've got that you CAN switch out on a daily basis.