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View Full Version : How to build a Gnomish Illusionist



Ranthog
2008-05-18, 07:07 PM
Having never played a 17th level caster and having never played a caster since 3.0, except for a bard, I could use some advice on how to build a gnomish illusionist. Big issue being that this is not a very twinky game, but the power scale on characters tends to be mid-high to high as far as optimization is concerned. Really at this level there are just too many things that I've never had a chance to look at in the time frame before my next game.

Since this requires specializing, which schools are good ones to ban, and what are the plusses and minuses of doing so. Which spells are must haves for those who are going to surpass level 20? I know I need some that bypass SR due to encounters we have had.

What feats are must haves for epic level characters? I figure some feats to boost my caster check against SR.

Any items besides an +6 int headband?

Any highly useful prestige classes I should look into having as some of the levels?

I believe my limits on books are the core three books, the class books, magic item compendium and spell compendium.

Mark Hall
2008-05-18, 07:29 PM
Any items besides an +6 int headband?

Blessed book. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/wondrousItems.htm#blessedBook)

Nohwl
2008-05-18, 08:25 PM
read this.

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18500

marjan
2008-05-18, 08:30 PM
Blessed book. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/wondrousItems.htm#blessedBook)

You mean this (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/wondrousItems.htm#tomeofClearThought).

Mark Hall
2008-05-18, 08:58 PM
You mean this (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/wondrousItems.htm#tomeofClearThought).

Useful. But the first is also useful.

FlyMolo
2008-05-18, 09:00 PM
Possibly both.

And its much smarter to make those yourself. Sure, it'll cost you like 3 levels, but you gain +5 int. Craft Wondrous Item is such a useful feat.

Cuddly
2008-05-18, 09:05 PM
I hesitate to tell you this, but look up the Killer Gnome on wizard's CharOp boards.

Absolutely sinister.

marjan
2008-05-18, 09:12 PM
Useful. But the first is also useful.

Sorry misunderstood what you were saying - thought you talking about int boosting items. And I agree that blessed book is useful.

From MIC I think Vest Of Archmagi is pretty sweet deal if your DM allows it. Aside from that rods are very useful things.

Basically MIC is full of useful (even some broken) stuff like Anklet Of Translocation, Belt of Healing, Belt of Battle (this one is broken) and similar.

marjan
2008-05-18, 09:16 PM
I hesitate to tell you this, but look up the Killer Gnome on wizard's CharOp boards.

Absolutely sinister.

Killer gnome requires Races of Stone which is not available to OP. But I'm sure you'll find some interesting ideas for your illusionist there.

mabriss lethe
2008-05-18, 09:17 PM
As an Illusionist, you can quite easily ban evocation, then replace it with the Shadow Evocation line of Illusion Spells with only slight hiccups. To a lesser extent, you can do the same with conjuration, but I wouldn't if I were you. Teleportation spells are really nice (even if you can just shadow walk where you want to go with illusion spells.)

Cuddly
2008-05-18, 09:21 PM
I'd ban enhantment if I was spec'ing illusion, since they tend to overlap in what they do.

Or necromancy. Necromancy's biggest stuff is fear (which you can use an illusion to imitate) and level drain.

Aquillion
2008-05-18, 09:28 PM
Possibly both.

And its much smarter to make those yourself. Sure, it'll cost you like 3 levels, but you gain +5 int. Craft Wondrous Item is such a useful feat.
Actually...

Is it even possible to craft a +5 Tome of Clear Thought pre-epic? A +5 tome will cost you 25,500 XP. I was under the impression that you can't spend enough XP to drop yourself down a level, and a pre-epic character will never simply have 25,500 XP on hand, so they can't craft it.

Cuddly
2008-05-18, 09:31 PM
Why bother crafting it? That seems a pretty retarded option. Just cast wish yourself until you drop to level 16.

marjan
2008-05-18, 09:34 PM
Actually...

Is it even possible to craft a +5 Tome of Clear Thought pre-epic? A +5 tome will cost you 25,500 XP. I was under the impression that you can't spend enough XP to drop yourself down a level, and a pre-epic character will never simply have 25,500 XP on hand, so they can't craft it.

Not quite true. While you cannot drop your XP more than it is required for your current level you can choose not to level up when you get enough XP and spend it on crafting.

Mark Hall
2008-05-18, 09:38 PM
Not quite true. While you cannot drop your XP more than it is required for your current level you can choose not to level up when you get enough XP and spend it on crafting.

Where is that from?

Aquillion
2008-05-18, 09:42 PM
I was almost certain you can't choose not to level up... but I could be wrong, since the SRD specifically excludes levelling rules and I don't have my books on hand.

marjan
2008-05-18, 09:43 PM
Where is that from?

Not sure right now - PHB or DMG. I'll try to find it and post.

EDIT: Here (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/feats.htm#itemCreationFeats).


XP Cost

Experience that the spellcaster would normally keep is expended when making a magic item. The XP cost equals 1/25 of the cost of the item in gold pieces. A character cannot spend so much XP on an item that he or she loses a level. However, upon gaining enough XP to attain a new level, he or she can immediately expend XP on creating an item rather than keeping the XP to advance a level.

Though it still must be spent immediately after gaining enough XP for level so it is not always possible.

EDIT2: If you are determined to spend that much XP the better way would be to scribe 2 scrolls of wish and then cast it 3 times yourself.

Chronos
2008-05-18, 09:59 PM
I'll add to the developing chorus that Evocation is definitely your first choice of banned school. It's the weakest school to begin with, and almost everything in it can be replicated by the shadow spells. For the other, you can't ban Divination, you can't for practical purposes ban Abjuration unless you have some means of getting the utility spells like Dispel Magic, and you should never ban Conjuration or Transmutation, since there are just so many darned useful spells in both. So really, your only other choices are Enchantment or Necromancy. This is a non-trivial choice, since both have some useful things that no other school can really do, so it's really your call, and might depend as much on play style as optimization.

On the topic of the Tome of Clear Thought, I *think* it would be possible to create a lesser tome, keep it in your library while you adventure a bit to gain back experience, and then increase the bonus on it further. Although it might still work out just as well to make scrolls of Wish, and use those.

Gorbash
2008-05-19, 06:49 AM
I hesitate to tell you this, but look up the Killer Gnome on wizard's CharOp boards.

Absolutely sinister.

Is that the one where he uses something like 6th lvl slots to cast 9th lvl slots? Based on Shadowcraft Mage?

marjan
2008-05-19, 10:40 AM
Is that the one where he uses something like 6th lvl slots to cast 9th lvl slots? Based on Shadowcraft Mage?

No, he uses cantrips.:smallbiggrin:

Gorbash
2008-05-19, 10:49 AM
Is there at least one DM who would allow that build?

marjan
2008-05-19, 10:56 AM
Is there at least one DM who would allow that build?

If I find any I'll give you his phone number.:smallwink:

MorkaisChosen
2008-05-19, 11:18 AM
Just out of interest, what are you meaning that Necros can do that noone else can? Enervation?

I know Enchantment has all the mind-control stuff, but a very creative Illusionist may be able to do that anyway...

Keld Denar
2008-05-19, 12:15 PM
Killer Gnome is good, but not that game breaking compared to some other stuff you can do. About his most potent tricks that are legal are 0g costing Force Cages and slightly early access to a small handful of 9th level spells 2 levels early. Of those, I honestly think that the free Force Cages is the more overpowered option. Since you only get access to Conjouration and Evocations at 9th level early, the only OP spell is really Summon Elemental Monolith. Meteor Swarm? Meh. Obediant Avalanche? Meh. Black Blade of Disaster? Meh, unless you get stuck in a Wall of Force funhouse maze and can't simply teleport out. I have a friend who plays one in Living Greyhawk (legal in that format) and honestly, he's not any more powerful than any other level 15 wizard, even though he does have access to a coulpe level 9 spells. He still spends rounds in combat to use Solid/Freezing Fog, lower level Save/Dies (Entomb from Frostburn is decent when you take away the 500g material cost), and Shadowed direct damage (Radiant Assault is nice, Will save fireball shaped Evocation with 1d6 rounds of daze on a failed save).

Is he powerful because he wrote Shadowcraft Mage at the top of his character sheet? No...he's powerful because he wrote Wizard1 at the top of his character sheet when he started the character. Shadowcraft Mage just gives you a different twist on the usual wizard win tricks.

marjan
2008-05-19, 02:29 PM
Killer Gnome is good, but not that game breaking compared to some other stuff you can do. About his most potent tricks that are legal are 0g costing Force Cages and slightly early access to a small handful of 9th level spells 2 levels early. Of those, I honestly think that the free Force Cages is the more overpowered option. Since you only get access to Conjouration and Evocations at 9th level early, the only OP spell is really Summon Elemental Monolith. Meteor Swarm? Meh. Obediant Avalanche? Meh. Black Blade of Disaster? Meh, unless you get stuck in a Wall of Force funhouse maze and can't simply teleport out. I have a friend who plays one in Living Greyhawk (legal in that format) and honestly, he's not any more powerful than any other level 15 wizard, even though he does have access to a coulpe level 9 spells. He still spends rounds in combat to use Solid/Freezing Fog, lower level Save/Dies (Entomb from Frostburn is decent when you take away the 500g material cost), and Shadowed direct damage (Radiant Assault is nice, Will save fireball shaped Evocation with 1d6 rounds of daze on a failed save).

Is he powerful because he wrote Shadowcraft Mage at the top of his character sheet? No...he's powerful because he wrote Wizard1 at the top of his character sheet when he started the character. Shadowcraft Mage just gives you a different twist on the usual wizard win tricks.

This is completely untrue. The Killer Gnome gives you more stuff:
1. he doesn't only get lvl9 spells earlier (you know kinda game-breaking by itself), he also gets to use his cantrips to cast them.
2. miracle is evocation spell (is this enough for you), which he can cast from cantrip slot
3. with proper feats he can spontaneously cast those spells (wizard's inflexibility for spells prepared is gone)

Does any of this sound game-breaking?

On-topic: I wouldn't advise you to play this, but I think you should take a look since there are some non-broken useful stuff there.

valadil
2008-05-19, 02:38 PM
Ban evocation and enchantment. You can easily duplicate all of evocation with shadow spells. It's the weakest school anyway. I vote for ditching enchantment because it almost exclusively targets will saves. So does illusion. You have no reason to have both schools, especially if illusion has spell focus and greater spell focus. In my experience the only big loss with enchantment is irresistable dance.

Keld Denar
2008-05-19, 02:54 PM
This is completely untrue. The Killer Gnome gives you more stuff:
like what?


1. he doesn't only get lvl9 spells earlier (you know kinda game-breaking by itself), he also gets to use his cantrips to cast them.

Do you even know how Killer Gnome works? Sure, you are casting a 1st level spell (Silent Image) but you have to Heighten it to an 8th level spell slot in order to cast a 9th level spell. And that only works a few times per day, depending on which other metamagic reducer you use. Arcane Thesis doesn't work with Heighten, which leaves Metamagic School Focus (3/day), Practical Metamagic and Easy Metamagic, one of which requires you to be of draconic heritage and the other is so cheasy most DMs won't allow it. Without those, you are using Xth level slots to cast Xth level spells, not cantrips. Read before you comment.


2. miracle is evocation spell (is this enough for you), which he can cast from cantrip slot
This doesn't work. The wording on ScM's ability clearly calls out spells on THE WIZARDS SPELL LIST, not spells the wizard may add to his list with other feats/abilities. Most people just ignore that part because they see "ZOMGFREEMIRICLES" and have an accident. Doesn't work that way.


3. with proper feats he can spontaneously cast those spells (wizard's inflexibility for spells prepared is gone)
You still have to prep enough Minor Images to do what you need, and if you prep too many, you give up the rest of your versistility. Also, Shadow Illusions ALL have SR, even if the base type doesn't. Creatures like Golems have infinite SR (effectively) and thus are completely immune to your Shadowed Solid Fog, and your Shadowed Orbs. ScMs are no more versitile or powerful than a sorcerer or a wizard with Alacritous Cognition, since you have to invest a great deal of feats into the combo anyway.


Does any of this sound game-breaking?


Only if you cheat.

Renegade Paladin
2008-05-19, 03:33 PM
Okay, when you say the class books, do you mean the Complete series? As in, all of them? As in, Complete Mage?

Go master specialist. Illusionists are scary with that. Check this out. (http://www.libriumarcana.com/RPG/public_profiler/view.php?id=13) I gave him the Chains of Disbelief alternate feature from Unearthed Arcana (it's in the SRD), but other than that, everything is from the sources you named. And his illusion save DCs are frightening. Frightening enough to kill you, in fact. :smallamused:

I'm still filling out the sheet, but most of the essentials are already there.

Ranthog
2008-05-19, 05:44 PM
Okay, when you say the class books, do you mean the Complete series? As in, all of them? As in, Complete Mage?

Go master specialist. Illusionists are scary with that. Check this out. (http://www.libriumarcana.com/RPG/public_profiler/view.php?id=13) I gave him the Chains of Disbelief alternate feature from Unearthed Arcana (it's in the SRD), but other than that, everything is from the sources you named. And his illusion save DCs are frightening. Frightening enough to kill you, in fact. :smallamused:

I'm still filling out the sheet, but most of the essentials are already there.

Yes, the Complete Mage, Complete Scoundrel, and etc.

What book is Master Specialist out of?

Renegade Paladin
2008-05-19, 05:51 PM
Complete Mage. Which is why I asked the question. :smalltongue: With it, you'd be even scarier than that guy since you're at 17th level; the Major School Esoterica (which the character I linked hasn't achieved yet) allows you to cast any and all illusion spells as though they were silent, stilled, and had Eschew Materials applied, for free. No higher spell slot, no increased casting time. And you get concealment when you do it, thanks to the Moderate School Esoterica. :smallbiggrin:

Paul H
2008-06-17, 09:06 AM
Hi

Of course, if you really want to specialise - try a Beguiler (PHB2). All those extra skill points & abilities. D6 HP & even wear armour!

For 17th lvl char I would choose Beguiler 12/Nightmare Spinner 5. You drop 1 Caster Level, but get extra spell/lvl to make up for it. Immunity to Fear effects, subdual damage added to spells, plus lots other goodies. Beguiler allows you to wear light armour, grants Silent & Still Spell feats, spont caster, plus much more:

Gnome Beguiler 12/Nightmare Spinner 5

1) Armoured Mage, Trapfinding (Spell Focus Illusion)
2) Cloaked Casting (+1DC), Surprise Csting
3) Adv Learning (Spell Focus Enchantment)
4)
5) Silent Spell
6) Surprise Casting (move action) (Unsettling Enchantment)
7) Advanced Learning
8) Cloaked Casting (+2 vs SR)
9) (Gtr Spell Focus Illusion)
10) Still Spell
11) Adv Learning
12) Gtr Spell Focus Enchantment
13) [Nightmare Spinner] Bonus Spells, Immunity to Fear, Inspire fear
14) Nighmare Phantasm
15) Spirit Chill (Spell Penetration)
16)
17) Deadly Nightmare

You could replace Spell Penetration with Arcane Disciple to expand your spell list. (Beguilers know their entire list like warmages, but are spont casters based on Int).

Master Specialist is very good, and allows greater freedom of spells to learn.
Beguiler/x has more spells/day, knows entire spell list, is spont caster, has more HP & skill choices.

Of course, the nastiest Illusionist you could make is the Beguiler 7/Rainbow Servant 10.

[B]Full caster progression, (text beats tables), plus all the Beguiler & Cleric spells known. Spontaneous Caster. Spells & abilities of Air, Good & Law Domains. Can grow wings & fly! :smallyuk:

Cheers
Paul H