Ettin in the Playground
Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVIII
"No, I didn't say he was RAGING. . ."
Originally Posted by Raijin
The Tale of the Gallant Raijin
Raijin rode back into town on his horse, carrying the banner of his daimyo proudly on his back. The pack jostled with every bit of rough terrain, but it was a small price to pay to spread the glory and renown of his clan across the land.
The morning had been filled with death, but it seemed more like an aspect of the land than something he and his brethren had caused with their own actions. After a defeat, death was the only way to leave a battle honorably, it was simply understood. Returning to one's daimyo in defeat was unthinkable.
Raijin dismounted and fell to his knees, not sitting higher than his daimyo for any longer than he had to.
He gave his report and a familiar smile of pride tinged with what Raijin suspected to be bloodlust danced across the old man's face. It was not there for long before he was wracked with a cough that rattled his whole body and shook the paper doors of the room.
Raijin heard the chatter of the servants throughout the house dim somewhat as his daimyo cleared his throat and did his best to put forward a brave facade. He resumed his smile, and Raijin couldn't help but notice that his teeth were tinged with blood.
He gave the rest of his report without looking at the old man's face. It wasn't hard since he kept his mask down, obscuring his face.
As he was getting ready to leave the house, he caught something out of the corner of his eye. The daimyo's daughter was standing behind the house, looking introspectively into the pond in the back garden.
He looked around and decided to approach her. He raised his mask. She needed the face of a man, not a snarling oni.
When he drew breath to ask her what was wrong, he knew she needed no words from him. She told him what he already knew, that her father was ill, and he nodded.
She then told him something he did not, that there was a tale of a plum tree far away that bore fruit but once every hundred years, and that it was guarded jealously by a fearsome beast. It would cure whoever ate it of anything that ravaged his body, even the mysterious disease that she said was making her father weaker every day.
A warrior of his caliber did not deserve this slow, wasting death. Raijin knew he had to do all in his power to prevent this. He gave a nod and told her not to worry.
He did not tell her where he was going, so he would not be shamed if he failed, only that he would be away.
He came along the hilltop after weeks of travel and saw the tree standing out starkly against the rising sun. There was no sign of the monster. He drew his sword and approached the tree slowly.
One plum hung, swaying gently in the wind. He nudged at it with the tip of his katana and felt a presence behind him. He turned his blade and looked at the reflection in it, seeing a reptilian eye glinting at him.
"This tree is my own.
A stranger approaches it.
His purpose unknown."
It spoke as though it didn't care about sneaking up on him, not viewing him as a threat.
"My lord is sick. This fruit is the only thing that can make him well. You are doing nothing with it. May I take it, or will there be trouble?"
"A plum for nothing.
Logic is not your strong suit.
What shall you give me?"
"My service is taken in this life. What more could I offer?"
"Life is not endless.
After it, you will be mine.
Do we have a deal?"
Raijin nodded. His life was not his own, but his afterlife was his to give.
"Take away the plum.
Feed it to your sick daimyo.
I will be waiting."
Raijin sliced the plum from the tree and caught it in his hand.
He beat as hasty a path to his daimyo's home as he could.
He threw open the door without being announced, knowing time was of the essence, and that any disrespect would be understood.
All that awaited him was his platoon, sitting in pristine white robes, wakizashis in hand.
They turned to him, the implication understood. He was too late, and when the daimyo died, his samurai followed him.
Raijin had encountered death many times before, but it had always seemed kept at a distance.
He was allowed to retire to his room to prepare. As he was ritually purifying himself, he found his hands shaking. Now that death was tying his robe and washing his hair, it seemed like a different force altogether. Something threatening, something that he was not prepared to embrace.
It planted words in his mind. He had to adhere to the promise he had made. Pledging himself to his daimyo now would invalidate his promise to the dragon. He did not wish to invite its wrath on this house. They had no knowledge of his ill-conceived pact, so they should not pay for his folly. His only choice was escape.
His skills for stealth served him well and he was able to slip out of the manor undetected. He went out to the garden to climb over the wall and depart. He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the pond and turned away in disgust. He cut off the bun of hair that protruded from his helmet and set it on a lily pad with the plum next to it. His former brethren would need no further explanation. He leapt over the wall and found his way back to that hallowed hill.
The way to it this seemed much easier, as though the beast slumbering in the hill wanted him to return quickly.
he fell before the tree, prostrating himself before it.
"I have returned to you, my master."
The dragon slithered from the corner of his eye to lie coiled in front of him.
"You are still breathing.
And yet you return to me.
Why are you now here?"
Raijin raised his head, his hair blowing about him in the wind, unmoored by his bun.
"My old life is over. I have no way of returning, and now must serve you."
The dragon cackled and poured himself into a human form.
"I will enjoy this.
Exploring this brand new world.
You will guard the tree."
Raijin nodded. He didn't ask how long he would be here, already knowing the answer: until it bore fruit again, in one hundred years.
"What shall I call you?
You are the new guardian.
This hill's new yoma."
Raijin sighed. He no longer struck like the lightning, but ran like a cowardly wind.
"Fujin. The whispering wind."
The dragon tilted his head and took his leave.
Fujin sat down and crosses his legs. He closed his eyes and listened forevermore to the whispering of the wind.
|Level||Class||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Skills||Feats||Class Features|
|Balance 4, Bluff 4, Disguise 4, Hide 4, Intimidate 4, Know (arcana) 2, Listen 4, Move Silently 4, Perform (acting) 4, Sense Motive 4, Spot 4, Tumble 4, UMD 2 || Able Learner, Dragontouched||Sneak attack +1d6, Mimic|
|Balance 1 (5), Bluff 1 (5), Disguise 1 (5), Hide 1 (5), Intimidate 1 (5), Listen 1 (5), Move Silently 1 (5), Perform (acting) 1 (5), Sense Motive 1 (5), Spot 1 (5), Tumble 1 (5), UMD 1 (3)|| ||Evasion|
| Bluff 1 (6), Disguise 1 (6), Hide 1 (6), Intimidate 1 (6), Know (arcana) 3, Listen 1 (6), Move Silently 1 (6), Perform (acting) 1 (6), Spot 1 (6), UMD 1 (4)||Craven ||Sneak attack 2d6, penetrating strike|
|4th||Samurai 1|| |
|Bluff 1 (7), Disguise 1 (7), Hide 1 (7), Intimidate 1 (7), Move Silently 1 (7), Perform (acting) 1 (7)|| ||Daisho proficiency|
|Bluff 1 (8), Intimidate 1 (8), Know (arcana) 1 (4) , Perform (acting) 1 (8), Never Outnumbered|| ||Two swords as one|
|6th||Hand of the Winged Master 1|
|Bluff 1 (9), Disguise 1 (8), Forgery 1, Hide 1 (8), Iaijutsu focus 1 (1), Listen 1 (7), Move Silently 1 (8), Perform (acting) 1 (9), Spot 1 (7), UMD 1 (5)|| Draconic heritage (Howling dragon: sonic damage)||Draconic Senses: (+3 Listen, Search, Spot, low-light vision, dark vision 60)|
|7th||Hand of the Winged Master 2|
|Bluff 1 (10), Disguise 1 (9), Hide 1 (9), Iaijutsu focus 1 (2), Listen 2 (9), Move Silently 1 (9), Spot 2 (9)|| ||Special attack +1d6 (Sneak attack 3d6)|
|8th||Hand of the Winged Master 3|
|Bluff 1 (11), Disguise 1 (10), Hide 1 (10), Iaijutsu focus 2 (4), Listen 2 (11), Move Silently 1 (10), Spot 2 (11), UMD 1 (6)|| ||Dragonfire Strike (+4 Listen, Search, Spot, low-light vision, dark vision 60, blindsense 20)|
|Bluff 1 (12), Disguise 1 (11), Hide 1 (11), Iaijutsu focus 1 (5), Listen 1 (12), Move Silently 1 (11), Spot 1 (12)|| Two-weapon pounce||Infamy, sneak attack +1d6 (4d6)|
|Bluff 1 (13), Disguise 1 (12), Hide 1 (12), Iaijutsu focus 1 (6), Listen 1 (13), Move Silently 1 (12), Spot 1 (13)|| ||Banzai charge|
|11th||Master of Masks|
|Bluff 1 (14), Disguise 1 (13), Hide 1 (13), Iaijutsu focus 1 (7), Listen 1 (14), Move Silently 1 (13), Spot 1 (14), UMD 2 (8)|| ||Persona masks: Assassin's mask: +1d6 sneak attack (5d6 sneak attack), Faceless mask: +5 competence vs mind-affecting, nondetection (CL 16) |
|12th||Hand of the Winged Master 4|
|Bluff 1 (14), Disguise 1 (15), Hide 2 (15), Intimidate 1 (9), Listen 1 (15), Move Silently 2 (15), Spot 1 (15), UMD 2 (10)|| Improved Two-weapon fighting|| |
|13th||Hand of the Winged Master 5|
|Bluff 1 (16), Disguise 1 (15), Hide 1 (16), Iaijutsu focus 1 (8), Listen 1 (16), Move Silently 1 (16), Spot 1 (16), UMD 4 (14)|| ||Special attack +2d6 (sneak attack 6d6)|
|14th||Hand of the Winged Master 6|
|Bluff 1 (17), Disguise 1 (16), Hide 1 (17), Intimidate 5 (14), Listen 1 (17), Move Silently 1 (17), Spot 1 (17)|| || |
|15th||Hand of the Winged Master 7|
|Bluff 1 (18), Disguise 1 (17), Hide 1 (18), Iaijutsu Focus 1 (9), Intimidate 4 (18), Listen 1 (18), Move Silently 1 (18), Spot 1 (18)|| Arterial Strike||Master's gift|
|16th||Hand of the Winged Master 8|
|Bluff 1 (19), Disguise 2 (19), Hide 1 (19), Intimidate 1 (19), Listen 1 (19), Move Silently 1 (19), Sense Motive 4 (9), Spot 1 (19)|| ||Special attack +3d6 (sneak attack +7d6)|
|17th||Hand of the Winged Master 9|
|Bluff 1 (20), Disguise 1 (20), Hide 1 (20), Iaijutsu Focus 1 (10), Intimidate 1 (20), Listen 1 (20), Move Silently 1 (20), Sense Motive 6 (15) Spot 1 (20)|| ||Improved dragonfire strike|
|18th||Hand of the Winged Master 10|
|Bluff 1 (21), Disguise 1 (21), Hide 1 (21), Intimidate 1 (21), Listen 1 (21), Move Silently 1 (21), Sense Motive 5 (20) Spot 1 (21)|| Deafening Strike||True stealth|
|Bluff 1 (22) Hide 1 (22),Iaijutsu focus 1 (11), Intimidate 1 (22), Listen 1 (22), Move Silently 1 (22), Sense Motive 1 (21) Spot 1 (22)|| || |
|Bluff 1 (23), Disguise 1 (22), Hide 1 (23), Intimidate 1 (23), Listen 1 (23), Move Silently 1 (23), Sense Motive 1 (21) Spot 1 (23)|| ||Sneak attack +1d6 (+8d6)|
Samurai? In my iron chef? Your eyes do not deceive you, samurai does indeed sit before you for your tasting pleasure. The complete warrior version, too. Why? Free TWF! Sure, it's only with 2 specific weapons, but it's free! TWF is a boon to any character with sneak attack, and you're no exception. Your BA is higher than a normal rogue, so you get extra attacks more quickly.
Craven helps with damage, which is good. Able learner also helps with skills for now and for later, making the prereqs for your prcs less painful.
Mimic allows you to disguise yourself, which'll help you infiltrate and skulk around at low levels, since a disguise check with that kind of bonus will be very difficult to circumvent with normal resources allocated to spot.
Dragontouched allows you to take other draconic feats like you were a sorcerer(and counts itself) along with being a prereq for the SI. The boost to spot and listen is appreciated and sleep still affects you at low levels.
Penetrating strike is better than your worthless trap sense ability and lets you beat on things normally immune to SA.
Daisho proficiency gives you EWP with the bastard sword/katana (a prereq for ronin) and lets you TWF from the start, usually difficult due to feats being tight at low levels.
As far as combat goes, play it like a rogue. Sneak around. Able learner lets you keep maxing sneaky skills even at levels when they're not class skills without paying extra, so you can put the hurt on your enemies with extra BA without sacrificing what you're good at.
Congratulations! you're in the SI! the game wants you to take 6 levels of rogue, but you've beefed up your BA early and entered at 6 instead of 7. Sweet deal.
What does the SI actually give you? Well! It gives you your skill points back. What's on its list? Nothing much you didn't already have as a rogue, but having points back to buy ranks in good skills (sorry samurai, you don't know how to skills) certainly helps you excel at your chosen field of speciality (sneaking up on suckers and stabbing them in the neck)
Draconic heritage is up and running now, and draconic senses is kicking into overdrive as soon as it comes online. Remember, it gives you bonuses the more draconic feats you have. It's not only giving you 3 to spot/search/listen, but also low-light vision, and since you've got 3, dark vision 60. Not too shabby for your first level in the class.
Dealing sonic damage via dragon fire strike with your SAs is also pretty cool, so make use of it whenever possible. Unless you run into a lot of destruchans (in which case, you are playing in a weird game) then it's almost always a good bet. Plus, this is your 4th draconic feat! that means blind sense 20 at level 8. Not only are you an exceptional sneak (thanks to consistent maxing of disguise and hide/MS), but you're a great anti-sneak too (max spot/listen, plus +4 bonuses to them) along with lowlight, dark vision, and now blind sense too. It's very difficult for anything to get past you.
You have turned your back on the bushido way and have now become ronin. Disguise, once used to infiltrate in times of conflict, is now used to hide your true identity to try to escape your shame. Your infamy disability is cool and flavorful, but explicitly doesn't apply when you're in disguise, so make use of that.
You're back to not having very many skill points, but able learner saves the day and makes you still able to sneak around (ronin, despite giving SA, grants neither hide nor MS. What the hell? Fortunately you've planned for this) you get yet more SA, as you did from the SI, and at level 10 are only 1 die behind a straight rogue as far as SA goes, which isn't too shabby looking at all the interesting class features you have, plus having a BA one point higher.
Ronin's banzai charge ability, like craven, helps to beef up your damage. Tank your AC as much as you like and charge the bejeezus out of your enemies. Two-weapon pounce is online now, so:
Get a bead on your enemies using all your super-senses
Banzai charge! destroy your AC and deal up to 8 more damage on each of your attacks
Charge at him, draw a weapon, make a iaijutsu focus roll for bonus damage
Hit once with each weapon, deal SA with each as normal, use draconic strike to get more damage and make it sonic.
this routine should be able to deal ruinous damage to CR-appropriate adversaries and if not kill them outright, at least hurt them very badly.
Iaijutsu focus? On an actual samurai? Yep. The skill's specific, but not very complicated. It's keyed off cha, and if you hit an enemy that's flatfooted (shouldn't be too hard with your elite sneaking skills) immediately after drawing your weapons, then you'll be entitled to make a check. You deal 1d6 extra damage for hitting 10 with the check, and another d6 for every 5 above that (2d6 for 15, 3d6 for 20, etc, capping at 50 for 9d6, which isn't likely for you)
You'll probably only be able to get it off once per combat. Once per enemy perhaps if you've got stuff to hide behind and can do it without being directly observed. You're not going to be dishing out pandemonic gnomish quick razor levels of damage with it, but it's a nice little boost that'll come up in the situations that you like to engineer anyway, so it's no real extra effort.
Ronin is where it is because that's the earliest you can qualify, and 2 is a good break point for right now since that's its only unique class feature and can help with damage at mid-levels.
Master of masks! It provides more SA via the assassin's mask in addition to a +2 to hide/ms (just keep getting better at what you're best at!) and the very cool faceless mask for a +5 bonus against mind-affecting things and continuous non detection at CL 16. Best to wear them in and out of combat respectively, but feel free to mix it up if you want to.
MoM was a largely thematic choice, because samurai wore masks of oni and dragons and animals to practice deindividuation, as many military outfits do, so finding an in-game way to represent this for Raijin really excited me, as these masks represent his loss of his sense of what was once his identity as he loses his honor. The faceless mask represents his questioning state of his own identity, and the assassin's mask represents him finding more and more familiarity with the role of the killer than the warrior of virtue.
this isn't to say it's useless stats wise, it boosts SA and gives non detection, which are useful for a stealthy, SA focused character, as shown. the SI gives more SA, which is nice, and gies the master's gift ability, which you can make good use of thanks to having plenty of ranks in UMD. buy wands and stuff and have fun with them. greater invisibility is likely a good investment, and the duration booster will certainly be enjoyed. regular invisibility, or even the less-used swift invisibility could also be useful. swift invis usually only lasts a round, but this'd make it 2, which can make all the difference for making a quick getaway, or being able to go invisible and get off a gigantic iaijutsu two weapon pounce banzai charge sonic SA as delineated earlier, since you can have the actions for it thanks to master's gift.
Arterial strike may seem an odd choice, but it's intended to help represent both in and out of game the sort of hit and run tactics (out of game term, not the actual "hit and run tactics" ability) that you are built around. Hide, hit, reposition, repeat. If you can space out your attacks and pick when the time is best while dealing damage the whole time, then that's all the better. Depending on the method the enemy uses to stop the bleeding wound inflicted by arterial strike, they may well provoke AoOs. Since you only sacrifice 1d6 SA (the same amount you're gaining each time you use dragon fire strike) so it doesn't hurt you too much to use this, especially if you can layer them, since bleed damage does stack.
Inflicting an arterial strike (or three) and then using a wand of swift invisibility to "flee" (actually staying put) so your enemy treats their wound can give you an AoO, which may make them lose their spell or outright put them in the ground. You can also tail them if they attempt to flee and monitor them bleeding out. Deathwatch wands (which are dirt cheap) may also be handy for tracking how hard the bleed damage is hitting your enemies.
More SA from the SI. Cool. You've finished with it now, gotten improved dragon fire strike (more damage. thanks), and gotten the capstone. What is deafening strike doing there?
Many of the creatures that you'll be using true stealth against are blind and will observe their environment through hearing (such as a destruchan, pictured in that feat that this class pretends does not exist)
If you deafen them, they're defenseless against you, and you can land a meaty complicated SA (above) routine against them, dealing a lot more damage than you'd be able to deal without it.
even against enemies that are not using sonar to track you, you can go ahead and punch them in the ear like ed norton and then go invisible (hi swift invisibility!) due to your stupid mod to hide along with invisibility's boost, spot will be prohibitively difficult. most people prefer to listen for invisible foes, but automatically fail this check if deafened. 3 rounds is plenty of time for you to SA, which is possible thanks to deafening strike working in tandem with true stealth.
Ronin comes back to say hi and gives more SA after the SI's done giving out goodies. When you're finished at level 20, you've got 8 dice of SA, only 2 less than a straight rogue or other SA build. Your BA is also better than a rogue assassin, scorpion heritor, assassin, avenging executioner, etc. finishing out with a nice 15 (BANZAAAAI!) 2 dice of SA for all the class features and tricks you get seem like a pretty good tradeoff.
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Who made my awesome Dwarf Hexblade avatar, you ask? BRC