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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    I've been thinking of a thread of IC records for some time and TG Oskar's question about the highest score makes me consider it even more.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    I know Old Lob from the Stonelord Challenge got an 18 from Pinny and Olo a 17 from me...that's one of the highest scores I can remember. It was a great character.

    Also, TG...11+ pages of judging...? Jeez, I thought I thought about it too hard.
    Last edited by Grynning; 2010-11-27 at 07:31 PM.
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Reading through all the older threads almost set my mind about the next secret ingredient. Keep the suggestions coming, though!
    Any updates on the remaining judges other than TG?
    Also, I only got three votes for honorable mention as of yet, don't be shy to PM me about it. ^^ Btw, I find the crystal trophy to be the most beautiful out of them.

    EDIT: On the subject of warforged and alcohol, by a contestant.
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    Grynning brings up an interesting question - whether Gazebo qualifies for Drunken Master as a warforged. As I respect Grynning as a judge and this is likely to come up again, I felt obliged to respond

    1. Can a warforged drink? Evidently yes, as it can gain the benefits of magical drinks and potions, and those have to go somewhere. It doesn't need to eat or drink, but it clearly can.

    2. Can it enjoy alcohol without getting poisoned?

    I don't know. This seems like something that's up to the player, like whether a warforged can dream or enjoy a massage. Alcohol isn't even a real poison by D&D terms, since it operates by different rules. Frankly, I feel that a games-mechanics benefit shouldn't be used to limit a player with an interesting premise, and I'm surprised that this came up at all. My own assumption was that a warforged could get drunk if he felt like it. However, see below!

    3. Bizarrely enough, by RAW with a high enough bluff check you don't have to get drunk to enter the PrC - just survive an all-night party with a bunch of drunks without getting poisoned, arrested, or embarrassed.

    In fact, perhaps Gazebo in fact is not drunk at all! He believes with all his insane mechanical heart that he is drunk, just like my best friend in high school when I poured him a half-dozen bottles of non-alcoholic beer. Gazebo's convincingly inebriated performance, however, was enough to be initiated into the secret society, and since then the peculiar interaction of alcohol with Jubilex's magical blessing gives Gazebo bizarre benefits, unlike normal beings and other warforged.

    Would that work as a legal basis for entry by a warforged for those judges who feel that they are typically immune to alcohol?
    Last edited by true_shinken; 2010-11-27 at 09:04 PM.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    I'll check my spreadsheet for the highest score, but won't have access until Monday. Lob was pretty high, but I think Dulcinea got pretty high marks from one judge...Keld, perhaps?
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Quote Originally Posted by OMG PONIES View Post
    I'll check my spreadsheet for the highest score, but won't have access until Monday. Lob was pretty high, but I think Dulcinea got pretty high marks from one judge...Keld, perhaps?
    19.5, the hightest ever. Check the thread of records!
    Last edited by true_shinken; 2010-11-27 at 11:21 PM.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    yup, it was me. Probably a little excessive, but it was my first time judging and I was impressed.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Quote Originally Posted by Grynning View Post
    Also, TG...11+ pages of judging...? Jeez, I thought I thought about it too hard.
    Feedback is good. Waiting... waiting is bad.
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Quote Originally Posted by gbprime View Post
    Feedback is good. Waiting... waiting is bad.
    Well, I can understand, but the slight little thing is that there's stuff I got to do, places I got to visit, and books I have to check and builds I have to recheck in order to do a proper judging. That I've essentially done half of the builds should tell that it's going on a proper pace. Sadly, I might not be able to do much today, since I got to prepare for a long game session, so unless I got that canceled, I'll probably have them by Tuesday. So don't exasperate that much, since it'll hopefully be a good judging. And; hey, maybe someone gets its votes before me. All you'll know is that you might get two posts worth of info, and a very detailed description of why I made my decision.
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Well here's hoping it's not cancelled. After all, were it not for game sessions, none of us would be here.
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    All you'll know is that you might get two posts worth of info, and a very detailed description of why I made my decision.
    I'm sure it will be a great judging, TG. Waiting on it!

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    No, the reason I was dismissive is because I was judging the build as a DM build, not a psionic build. Had the SI been Master Thrower, it would have gotten a better score. I know Soulbow is powerful, but it did not really fit the theme of this particular competition.
    Who says DM has to be a melee build. Soulbow allows for weapon focus with a ranged weapon and DM allows for unarmed damage on a ranged weapon.

    Kensnit...your views on builds outside of the box are incredibly closed minded and make no sense. The Soulbow build does the most damage of any entry while doing it at range, all while having a higher AC. Your judging makes zero sense.
    Last edited by Rancor1; 2010-11-28 at 03:02 PM.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    I think we're getting dangerously close to the horror of IC7, and should really lay off.

    While I do think the soulbow entry wasn't appreciated enough, this is something that should've been handled via PMs. Now he is forced to keep his scores as they are or else be considered "tainted" in his judgements. And worse, we're in danger of chasing off a very good judge. His mechanical style of judging is fantastic. And I think I'm going to enjoy the contrast with Oskar immensely.
    Last edited by Pechvarry; 2010-11-28 at 04:17 PM.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Quote Originally Posted by Pechvarry View Post
    I think we're getting dangerously close to the horror of IC7, and should really lay off.
    What he said. Really, let's steer clear from personal attacks.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    I just wanted to say, while I may not agree 100% with my respected fellow judges, their opinion is just as valuable and valid as anyone else's. Part of the beauty of IC is seeing how differently the judges will react to builds, as this gives the contestants and audience a good idea of how different DM'ing/playstyles will work with the characters presented.

    Responding to the contestant's essay on drunken robots Warforged:

    Your argument is well-thought out and insightful, and if I was DM'ing a game where someone wanted to play Gazebo, I would totally buy it and let him do his thing. I do love the character, and in fact used him as an example recently of how awesomely flexible 3.5 is in a recent discussion with one of my groups. The elegance score I gave reflected the fact that other people may not be as generous and also that the character may just be too damn weird for a lot of games.

    Responding point by point:

    1. This was not in dispute. I know they can drink things, but I don't think they really metabolize anything. I imagine they either spit them up later, or they have a...hrm..."evacuation valve" somewhere.

    2. It really is up to the DM of a game since the rules are very vague on how alcohol works in general, as well as Warforged digestion (or lack thereof). I know the DMG brings it up briefly, but the only place I remember seeing actual rules for it was the 3.0 A&E guide. I can't think of any references to Warforged drinking in the Eberron fluff, and the excellent write up from RoE indicates that they don't really understand the behavior, IIRC.

    3. This is the best interpretation by far, and would even explain Drink Like a Demon (placebo effect and everything). Warforged can definitely go insane, and Gazebo is unquestionably that.
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    A little thought on Gazebo Jones from a contestant:
    Gazebo Jones uses himself as an impressed weapon. What protects him from the natural 1 clause?

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Two questions, one hypothetical:

    1) I know we can expect TG Oskar's dissertation on Tuesday; do we have an ETA on the other remaining judges' scores?

    2)If, hypothetically, the next IC is blackguard, how are we handling the Fallen Paladin Problem? Specifically, many past judges have gone on record in the past as deducting points for deliberate Alignment changes within the backstory, yet blackguard is fairly clearly designed with a fallen paladin as a valid entry method. Should contestants expect a deduction for 'Alignment shenanigans' if they go the paladin route?
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Quote Originally Posted by Amphetryon View Post
    2)If, hypothetically, the next IC is blackguard, how are we handling the Fallen Paladin Problem? Specifically, many past judges have gone on record in the past as deducting points for deliberate Alignment changes within the backstory, yet blackguard is fairly clearly designed with a fallen paladin as a valid entry method. Should contestants expect a deduction for 'Alignment shenanigans' if they go the paladin route?
    Blackguard won't be the next secret ingredient, but this would depend on the judge, I believe.
    Personally, I wouldn't bother with this when we're talking about blackguards, but to each his own.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Quote Originally Posted by true_shinken View Post
    A little thought on Gazebo Jones from a contestant:

    Gazebo Jones uses himself as an impressed weapon. What protects him from the natural 1 clause?

    The same thing that at least one judge has said with regard to Uthunan? If a judge takes that Nat.1 clause into consideration for Gazebo Jones, they have to give some pretty solid Power marks to Uthunan.
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    If no judges have responded by tomorrow, I'll start on some scoring.

    That will make at least 3 judges, 4 when T.G. submits his.
    Last edited by WinWin; 2010-11-29 at 07:50 PM.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    I have to say outright that Gazebo Jones is my favorite character build ever.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Alright: after several days of judging, here are my results!

    Bu the Hobo Fist
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    So, letís seeÖMonk (given, since itís the easiest way to enter Drunken Master), Urban Ranger (kind of a contrast between the ascetic, monastic style and the defined approach to urbanism of the latter), Fist of the Forest (and then you swing again), to Drunken Master (again monastic, but this time youíre going for a very urban kind of monastic feel), to Chameleon (and then you add pretty much everything). PuzzlingÖso you start kind, then you get pushed into living like an animal, then you learn to drink like a maniac (and essentially stealing your booze), then you suddenly master infiltration skills, magic and whatnot?

    ItísÖpuzzling. Really puzzling. Just likeÖwell, when you get drunk and wake up the next morning, wondering ďdude, what the heck happened yesterday?Ē So just for that, you get lots of brownie points; the backstory explains bit by bit how you got all that mangled story patched up all together. You embrace your MADness like you embrace your mix-up of races and classes, and the result is an intoxicating brew just like the secret ingredient. Really, thatís a match made in heaven (donít let the other judges turn you down, now alright?)


    Score: 4.5 (patchwork race, patchwork mix of classes, and a story as embezzling as your main class)

    Power
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    Your power isnít really versatility, thatís for sure. Itís kinda hard to explain, so Iíll try to do it as easy and gentle as possible. Your build behaves like one of two things: a strong hitter or an unbeatable tank. The strong hitter appears early on (during the first five levels), the unbeatable tank appears later (at level 12th when you get Steadfast Determination), and you get to use Drunken Master to shift between both, so up until that level youíre quite set. Level 12th is your sweet spot, which in terms of power/level ratio would be roughly average (you only need to provide support to your trick), albeit comparing that to the power of a Barbarian, a Fighter, or a pure damage dealing build yours dwindles a bit (low BAB, low BAB to PA damage ratio, mini-Pounce is not as great as a full Pounce).

    Where things get bad is when you enter Chameleon. I can see the reasons: free feat, free ability score increase, free spellcastingÖwhy not enter? Sadly, you claim your power to be ďversatilityĒ and you canít get more versatile than having a nice amount of spellcastingÖwhich could have been great had your Wisdom score were a bit better than it actually is. Really, a Wis 14 would have done wonders, since youíll rarely (if ever) get to cast 5th level spells (thereís no way unless you have an item that grants you an extra 5th level spell to prepare, or Wis 20 at the time you prepare spells), but your Wis is 12 which means your higher level spells depend on you actually having the score at the moment youíre casting the spell, so that means a Wis-increasing item (see Elegance below) or casting a spell to boost your Wisdom. BUT, your main schtick (use Drink like a Demon to boost your Strength or Constitution and create two ďstancesĒ of combat) conflicts with your spellcasting, so that means youíll spend about three to five rounds buffing yourself. Without a means to scout ahead, that means youíll be caught unaware several times, so you canít claim to have the spells cast on you at the beginning of the dungeon or the beginning of the day, and you donít get ways to exploit your swift action to buff yourself. So, the greatest source of versatility you have (spellcasting) is something highly debatable in practice, which means youíll probably wonít make full use of it. I almost see Combat Focus being a better option, considering you get to boost the bonuses to level 4, but Combat Focus is kinda hopeless.


    Score: 2.5 (your versatility depends on your spellcasting; otherwise, youíre a two-trick man. With issues of spellcasting resolved, your Power score could boost to 3 or even 3.5 depending on how well itís used).

    Elegance
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    Again, the biggest issue with the build is the dependence on outside sources for what could be considered one of the key aspects of your character. Relying on outside Wisdom sources hurts you, and having a skill that reduces your Wisdom hurts you even more (since you canít use your spells while drunk, almost literally). You offered an option in which you could reduce your Charisma and add it to another score; ironically, that would count as an elegant solution to your problem, since aside from social skills you donít use Charisma at all. I really would have liked to see Wisdom boosted a bit, even more since it would have helped on your AC and your eventual spellcasting, making your non-drunk AC quite good.

    On the other hand, while it definitely doesnít help the build that much, I like what I see about relying on social abilities like Bluff, Disguise and Gather Information. Urban Tracking and Rival Organization synergize real well, and since youíre getting loads of Bluff and Disguise checks for the heck of it, you decided to boost your feinting abilities with Group Fake-Out and the free Improved Feint feat; thatís a bit of synergy that, despite not adding to your overall power in combat, adds to your character and doesnít cost you that much (though I would have liked a little less Bluff and a little bit more something else). I see that you have a bit of a broken progression right at the beginning, but thatís definitely meant for better skill points and better BAB, so no loss of elegance there (I find that kind of leapfrogging to be practical, and since you provided a good explanation for why he interrupted his progressions, all the more power to you).

    BTW: youíre no more MAD than a Monk, and Iíd dare say youíre less MAD than one, since you have an option to forego Wisdom once youíve used it for what you need it (spellcasting, which we discussed earlier on in this section). So all you really need is Strength and Constitution, while having Dexterity and Charisma as secondary options and Intelligence as a dump stat unless you want to add your arcane potential. In fact, you donít become MADder until level 20, where you can add arcane spellcasting to your divine spells, and thatís where having so little Int hurts more.

    Presentation-wise, itís very compact, showing tactics and backstory in a concise way and able to fold for maximum visualization. Iíll do a minor slashing off your score because of two dips: Complete Scoundrel was used for the skill trick but wasnít used to exploit the class a bit more, and the same goes for Tome of Battle.

    Score: 3.5 (shifting two points of your Charisma to your Wisdom could have done a world of good to your build, not a very significative use of two of the books, but the build doesnít have glaring entry faults other than those mentioned)

    Use of Secret Ingredient
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    Iíll commend you for explaining why the last three levels of Drunken Master werenít necessary, and how you intend to replace them. Really, an elixir of fire breath and a potion of cure moderate wounds can be found nearly anywhere, and your use of bull rush isnít that much to justify corkscrew rush. However, I find very difficult to decide whether adding just ONE more level of Drunken Master to the build rather than one level of Chameleon could have helped more. The reasons are varied; For Medicinal Purposes isnít just a healing ability that can be used to offset the penalties on Wisdom and then shift a bit into the other side; in other terms, itís a tactic that could be used to your advantage, claiming a ďsecond windĒ and perhaps adjusting to circumstances (say, you need to hit a bit better, so you turn your drink into a potion, lower your Con, and then drink again but this time adding to your Strength, or viceversa). This kind of adjustment would offset a bit the fact that you wonít have a higher ability score by means of reaching 8th level in chameleon, youíd get three chances to heal 2d8+3 hit points when you need it the most without expending that much, and since youíll never get to use those 5th level spells unless you go Epic or your Wisdom increases to 20 permanently, or attempt to blend arcane and divine spellcasting because of your mental scores, it all resumes to whether you want one more point of Fortitude and Reflex and the ability to shift your Strength and Constitution boosts and ďfreeĒ healing 3/day or a +2 to any ability score and one more focus to add, which could very well be Combat Focus (+4 to attack, +4 to damage, +4 to Fortitude and a redundant proficiency with all martial weapons). However, Iíll err in that you made the choice that fits your build, not the competition, and thus Iíll let that one slide.

    ÖBUUUUUT! The rest of the abilities I rarely see. You did explain how you could use Stagger and Swaying Waist, as well as one particular use of your improvised weapons, but aside from that I donít see much more of Drunken Master aside from literally getting drunk to go angry or quiet. Perhaps if I saw a ďyou could use a pole as a makeshift quarterstaff, thus using flurry + improvised weapons + TWF + unarmed strikeĒ, I could have seen how improvised weapons would have worked; as I see it, that fantastic way to prove improvised weapons were useful was oddly lost, considering you do get proficiency on weapons that can deal better damage since all you get is a 1d8 from it. Also, the dichotomy of whether you should use a table as a tower shield and lose your huge Con to AC or donít use it (hint: you can use it as cover, but not use it as a shield). Overall, from the 9 abilities you get, you really use well 2 (Drink Like a Demon and the AC bonus which stacks with your Con AND Wis bonuses to AC), while the rest you make only spontaneous uses of. Iíll tell you this, though; you at least attempted to make use of all other abilities and explained ways to deal with them, but I feel others made better use of the class abilities.


    Score: 3.5 (definitely putting the ďdrunkĒ in Drunken Master, tried to tackle the rest with only Improved Feint soaring and Swaying Waist adding to your formidable AC, definitely see why not getting For Medicinal Purposes for one more level of Chameleon worked better, but donít see much synergy with the other abilities)

    Overall: 14.0 (3.5)
    This is one of the few builds that really looks to blend the flavor with the power. It does not live that much to its versatility because of a slight trouble with mental stats, but overcoming that restriction can open a world of options. But really, the idea is getting drunk until near-unconsciousness and become the near-unstoppable force or the near-unmovable object, which is quite distant from a one-trick pony, even without the use of many magic items (wonder what can happen with the use of more magic items).


    Eric Redscale
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    You know how usually the strongest drink is dragon-related? Clearly you thought of that. Itís refreshing to see entries done with non-Monk requirements, and seeing two clearly monk-related PrCs which neatly provide the entry requirements reinforces the draconic feel of your build. So yeah; you can claim that you can survive the ďDragonís BloodĒ drink because youíre pretty much part-dragon anyways. But I really, really, really half-expected Dragon Descendant to appear somewhere, if only because that would have completed the Monk-dragon trifecta. This is a big ďughh, so darn close!Ē But Iíll let that one slide; that is one fine entry towards Drunken Master, actually.


    Score: 5.0 (who would have thought dragons of all races had a thing for Monks? Wonít gonna deck you for not going the trifecta, though; if there was a higher score, then Iíd penalize you)

    Power
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    Where the build fails, though, is on its potential. You are clearly focused on one thing: your breath weapon. Your build is roughly equal from 7th level to 20th level, when you get the real boost to your power. Your sweet spot, so to speak, is level 7 because you get the maximum amount of breath damage you can get; Entangling Exhalation and Slow Breath are a dead giveaway. Your damage with improvised weapons is poor (1d4; youíre relying on dealing greater damage with larger weapons) and itís not meant to be a main attack mode. Youíll probably be flying and blowing up your breath, though. And then you get Frightful Presence twice, which makes it really, really redundant. WellÖat least if you actually use it, youíll get your enemy shaken, entangled and slowed which is a big bonus.

    The build would suffer quite a lot were it not because you have Drink Like a Demon without clear interruptions (youíre using it for increasing Con, which means it supercharges your breath weapon DC)Öand Breath of Flame. This one is a little nasty trick; think of a racing carís exhaust pipe throwing bursts of flame because part of the gas heats up and ignites while at it. Thatís what I see with Breath of Flame: 10 short bursts of flame dealing 30d12 damage (anywhere from 30 to 360 points of flame damage, average of 165 points of flame damage), and then you go with yet another burst of flame to slow them AND entangle them. In fact, I see you shooting the DFA breath first (to get Entangling Exhalation and Slow Breath to hold the enemy still) and then delivering the inferno. Unfortunately, this super-nova (really, not even a dragon gets to charge that breath weapon) happens at the very last level, and immunity to fire blocks it entirely (not to mention all of the spells that indirectly or directly block breath weapons, of which there are several). So, itís really a 20-level build up for one super-powered ability that takes 11 levels to recharge; think of that before fighting next time.

    Iíll give you one thing, though: Imperious Command + Never Outnumbered is a great tactic. Make all enemies cower for 1 round while using Intimidate (which means one free round to drink) + 1 round shaken, in which you can just attempt Frightful Presence to shake them up (and hence take them to frightened) works really nice. Sadly, by that level, youíll have to make sure Intimidate works to pull that power up; gotten earlier would have been beautiful but youíd miss on feats.


    Score: 2.0 (Aside from breathing and flying, thereís no real punch to the build, up until 20th level in which you get a superpower that takes a minute to power up)

    Elegance
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    The biggest offender here is the use of one more level of Disciple of the Eye to get what one more level of Dragonfire Adept could have done much, much better. Iím trying real hard to justify why you delayed Drunken Master so much and why have one more level for DotE instead of Dragonfire Adept. I can see the last three levels were for Tumble, but I find that cross-class Tumble ranks could have worked just fine. The reason goes as follows: as far as I can see, you have four points you neglected to add (you have 10 Int from the beginning, then you have the extra skill points of human, coupled with the 4 + Int skill points per level for a total of 5 skill points per level). This could have been added to Tumble, which would have delivered somewhere along the line of 4 ranks at 5th level, where you could have taken the other ranks with IotDM and Disciple of the Eye for a total of 8 ranks, entering Drunken Master 2 levels earlier (assuming you take DFA 6 for Draconic Flight). That way, the supernova-breath enters 2 levels earlier, and you can take the other 2 DFA levels for a better invocation while getting essentially the same NA bonus. Humanoid Shape, Voidsense, Walk Unseen are more powerful than Frightful Presence, which you already get as a feat; that last feat could have then gone for Fly-By Attack for unhealthy synergy with Swagger. There are times where leapfrogging may seem bad, but in this case, delaying two levels of Dragonfire Adept (the 7th level and an 8th level instead of one more DotE level, whose only net benefit is +1 to Reflex). That would have done your build a world of good; also, forgetting about the human skill points would have netted you about 23 skill points, something that would have powered your build quite nicely.

    Another big NO is mentioning the need for tomes. As I can see it, tomes are something youíll rarely, if EVER, find lying around. Thereís no form to justify eating 6 tomes of +5 each to get insanely high bonuses, not even all the WBL on the world. Itís highly inelegant; seeing how the stats work without +11 to them is what gives worth (and beauty) to the build. In a better allegory to the Iron Chef competition, what I want is to feel the flavor of the ingredients without having the right wine to taste them, even if Iíll be offered wine later on. If the concoction only tastes well with the right wine, then itís bad because youíll never know when you wonít have the wine. I donít see the level increases either, which hints of laziness on your part and thatís bad. And your supernova breath depends on you having the stat-boosting items AND the tomes devoured in order to work, otherwise youíre limited to less than half that amount. Never, EVER, assume youíll have the right item; assume the Magic Mart somehow collapses, and youíll see how much thatíll hurt.

    Score: 1.0 (while pretty straightforward, I find it could have been done better and relies on magic items for the trick that grants more power, hence indirectly decking Power as well).

    Use of Secret Ingredient
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    And sadly, here I see the bad trifecta. You already have not enough power, and you were relying on a series of items to boost your stats so that you could get the glorious supernova breath at level 20. AndÖthat is mostly what I see from the build. Of all 20 levels, I see nothing for Improved Grapple, no use of Improved Feint, and poor uses of Swagger. For Medicinal Purposes is hard to optimize, so I wonít hit you there.

    The redeeming option is that you clearly went for the capstone, and definitely Breath of Flame, if done correctly, could do a world of hurt. Instead, the DM has enough ways to cripple your build by deliberately denying you access to enhancement spells, stat boosting items and tomes. Itís a gimmicky trait, but it does deliver one good lesson: if you are smarter than Einstein and wiser than Gandhi, you can deliver a bout of flame stronger than Dhalsimís Super Yoga Flame.


    Score: 1.0 (There are several reasons to enter the capstone, but itís a trick that can be swatted faster than a drunken fly; the other abilities are there for decoration mostly).

    Overall: 9.0 (2.25)
    The build has some promise, but it needs some refinement. It all boils down to use a single trick, but it relies so much on external aid (which undoubtedly exists within the game but itís really, really hard to justify) that it ends up half as powerful as it should really be. Played as-is, you have very little options other than breath-strafing, something that I find hard on a promising build. There are other options within that same chassis that could have made a much more robust character; using stat-boosting items is optional, and tomes just downright frustrating to support that. But, if you have the fortune to achieve that, then itís a force to be reckoned with.


    Simon
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    Originality
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    Seeing the soulknife brings a smile to my face, mostly because itís an underused class. It doesnít have the beauty of other psionic classes, and the alternate class features of the Psychic Warrior pretty much replace the entire class, but itís a good attempt to use it. Soulbow, though, is kinda expected for a Soulknife to get in; it does hearken to your buildís intentions, but most of the Soulknife builds donít enter because they wanna be Soulknives, usually they end up with Soulbow since itís a way to redeem the class. Good to see Master Thrower, though. Also: I donít usually punish for going human, since itís basically the race to go when you donít have any other chance, but thereís few things that really explain the need to become human except a bonus feat, which would be the reason why I cut down a bit on here.


    Score: 3.5 (Soulknife + Master Thrower is a rare combination, and would fly quite well if you used it separately, but aside from that thereís few things that really catch the eye).

    Power
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    Iíll deliver a HUGE hit to your power because it relies on a very, very, very flimsy interpretation of the rules which Iíd personally, as DM, wouldnít let fly out. Iíll start by admitting itís true: you can use an arrow as a light improvised weapon, which works as a dagger (hence, it could be thrown in theory). And as well, you can create mind arrows that last for about one round before they dissipate. However, the way Soulbow works relies on using it unlike intended; hence, it relies on a reading (which decks you in Elegance) AND itís the source of your power (which Iíll deal with here).

    Mostly, your combat style relies on using your mind arrow as an improvised weapon, something that at first sight seems preposterous; you already have a mind blade weapon which does exactly the same, with greater power and with greater capabilities. Then you add the idea that your character relies on making a mind arrow to throw, and hereís where I flinch because itís counter-intuitive. Essentially, youíre relying on creating a magic weapon to use unlike intended, which while clever (Iíll admit at least that), seems a bit like cheating. It does have some great ways to rack up damage (Palm Shot to attack twice, Weak Spot to strike with touch AC instead of normal AC, INA + Superior Unarmed Strike for better unarmed strike damage and hence better improvised weapon damage), but when you consider that you have to use your mind blade for this as a mind arrow and without shooting it, you suddenly lose half of your bonuses (canít use your unarmed strike damage, canít use Palm Shot, canít use Weak Spot), and thatís basically the gist of your character. You can also use your arrow in melee, and that I could let fly, but your intention is to use it thrown instead of melee, so itís (again) counter-intuitive. And again, youíre using the TWF line, but counter-intuitively.

    But letís assume it DOES work, for example. Letís assume, as you are assuming, that the build really does work as intended. In either case, itís still Tier 5, since while you can do good damage, you have few other ways to deal with other stuff. Itís a good attempt to mix two Tier 5-6 classes and try to make a good build out of it, but itís not that powerful at the end; losing that last level of Drunken Master means you donít get a reliable energy attack, even if itís mostly 3d12 fire damage (done several times to rack up damage to a respectable 9d12 or 12d12). You do get a few tricks, but they work mostly once per encounter and with no way to recover them: Group Fake Out to use Improved Feint (but only once and only to deny enemies their Dex bonus for one attack), Point it Out and Clarity of Vision to find and point invisible creatures (again, only once and there are better ways to handle seeing invisible creatures). Thereís also your 3/day ďpotionsĒ which deliver some much needed healing since you donít get wholeness of body, and you get a strong dodge bonus which results in some strong touch AC. And of course, you get ranged attacks which are at times even better than your melee attacks, but you get TWF to assist that. Even then, your full potential is somewhat lacking since you rely a lot on magic items to boost yourself; Bracers of Armor +8, Belt of Magnificence +6, Amulet of Natural Armor +5 and several tomes donít seem to be reasonable, and with that your build takes a huge hit since you end up with roughly a minus 100 hit points and about 20-25 points less of armor, a bad hit where I see it. Perhaps if you had thought a bit on how to deal without those magic items, I would have had a different thought of the build, but as it stands, relying on flimsy interpretations and magic items, I see it as a weak build. Especially if compared to others, whom at least have a few non-magical tricks that help their builds immensely.


    Score: 1.5 (I really donít like to depend on a reading so that I can get half my power, nor into high-level magic items to be roughly decent)

    Elegance
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    Hereís the other part of the smacking. Letís assume, for a moment, you are a player in my table. You make a Mind Arrow, then you say ďI throw my arrow to X enemyĒ. I, without knowing your trick, allow you to throw, and then I hear something along the lines of ďI hit, and I deal 38 points of damage with two arrowsĒ. Then I ask ďhow?Ē, and you might probably present to me my build.

    Expect the facesmacking, along with ďno, you canít do thatĒ.

    Fortunately, Iím not your DM. Unfortunately, you may never know when your DM might say that, especially if you present a build like this. You are very, very lucky that Master Thrower is legal in this build, since Mind Blades can be thrown, and even luckier that your mind arrows share that Weapon Focus, because your trick could be reasonable (if it managed to fly out). But again, that depends on whether the DM allows you to create the arrow in your hand and then use it as an improvised weapon.

    So, you may be asking: why not? Mind arrows are like normal arrows, and arrows can be used as improvised weapons akin to daggers, so I can use a mind arrow as a melee or thrown weapon instead of a ranged weapon. Problem is with fluff: notice how the soulbow constantly says that you form a semisolid arrow, but that it is ďidentical in all ways to an arrow shot from a composite longbowĒ. I canít stress that enough, because that means youíre deliberately ignoring that text tidbit; the 1 round duration means that the mind arrow (or the psychic energy shaped into the arrow) remains on the area for about 6 seconds, not that you can use that mind arrow as an improvised weapon. And that not only shoots your power in the foot, but also your elegance; that missed tidbit really kills your build in the worst way imaginable.

    But again; letís assume it really worked. The text didnít exist, the arrow can be formed into a thrown or melee weapon. In that case, I wouldnít deck you that much in elegance, because the build is pretty complete (there were moments where I was writing, I made a double-check, and then I realized I was wrong instead of you, but I triple-checked the text on mind arrow and sadly found that little quirk that ruined your main trick), and that shows elegance; itís not so complex, and few things are obscure enough so as to cause you any trouble. Itíd worked masterfully as a sign of an elegant build, all organized and explained in a way you could see it, and a deep introspection would have dealt with many of the other possible troubles. Really; had the trick worked, youíd have quite a bit of an elegance score.


    Score: 1.5 (you neglected the key piece of your trick, relying on a strong assumption that the trick would have worked. Think of it as showcasing a TO trick, except this doesnít reach the theoretical limits of TO; it still requires the willing suspension of disbelief to think of it, though)

    Use of Secret Ingredient
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    I can see how you intended to use the Improvised Weapons, but at the same time I donít see on what else you could have used the class. Itís great as a throwing build, but not great as a Drunken Master; in fact, your high Wisdom score would be threatened, and all youíd get in exchange would be more Constitution by using the signature ability of the Drunken Master, which is getting drunk. Also, I see that you use the bonus to AC and the extra damage but not Corkscrew Rush, and I would have seen DM 10 as a fitting way to improve your power. Most importantly, I would have told you to find Miniatures Handbook and look at a very simple, yet effective, feat called Hurling Charge. That way, you could have gotten a stone and another weapon, claim you get the stone from the ground (if the ground has stones lying around, since Master Thrower gets Quick Draw AND youíre drawing a weapon), charge at your leisure knowing that Swagger allows you to move erratically, throw two stones (a stone usually works as if a sling bullet, hence they qualify for Palm Throw) and deal 3d6 + 1d12 + your Strength modifier on one target, THEN charge another enemy with another improvised weapon (again, TWF works wonders here) AND use Corkscrew Rush. That would have been such a mystical synergy it would have earned Originality, Power, AND Elegance points. But not seeing it hurts so very much. In fact, it would have explained why you got Master Thrower (even stones are weapons! But you wouldnít be capable of getting Weapon Focus for that, so probably I would have had to take away the Elegance from it; that doesnít mean you canít use sling bullets, though, and get Weapon Focus (sling bullets), which is less flimsy of a reading than trying to use mind arrows!). Iíll give points for trying to use Improved Feint, though; I donít see a use for Improved Grapple, which cancels the bonus.


    Score: 2.0 (youíre using the Improvised Weapons from the Drunken Master, and virtually nothing else. Drunk Like a Demon hurts you, no use of the charging tricks, and you could have really taken the capstone to boost your power).

    Overall: 8.5 (2.125)
    The build is a showcase for a little trick on how to use thrown improvised weapons, something that had it worked, it would have provided the Drunken Master with a potent ranged attack. Sadly, the big trouble with this build is that it relies on a reading which only a sentence nullifies, which cuts on half of its potential and shows that your build depends on tricks. Iíd shelve the build and refine it; if you could find ways to get improvised weapons to work with Master Thrower, you could get a nifty new way to use Drunken Master, and it might join the ranks of such builds likeÖermÖI dunnoÖmaybe Harmonious Knight of Milil/Suel Arcanamach or Knight of the Weave/Ruathar/Sublime Chord/Abjurant Champion/Spellsword, aka the Arcane Paladin. I would have prized the build for a little thing that few builds lack; lateral thinking. But itís that little sentence that kills it. Donít get disheartened; refine it, and quite probably I could change my mind so hard itíd hurt (not to mention it could have probably swept with the competition, though you have some serious competition around)


    Laph Roaig
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    Originality
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    Why, oh why, if you place Sun Wukong the Monkey King, you didnít used a Vanara with this!? It would have been several degrees of awesome, if only because they are so rare to see (hint, hintÖ) Instead, you went with a pretty classic choice, which is only one step apart from expected (I wouldnít have penalized you for a Kalashtar, or the decking in Originality would have been canceled by the boost in power). Elan are pretty cool, but I donít see an actual reason to use an Elan over another race (say, Xeph for speed, or Dromite for their rays, or even Kalashtar; more difficult for your build would have been Half-Giant, and extremely difficult would have been Githzerai which I find to be one of the best Monk races because of the ability score boosts, Inertial Armor, free Feather Fall/Catfall and Plane Shift which might allow them to go ethereal much earlier, at a cost of +2 LA), nor a weirder race that could really justify adding Originality points (say, Buomman for example, or maybe Rhek). On the other hand, while I know that having Wild Empathy would have been redundant, the fact that you used Zerth Cenobite and not Psionic Fist (of Zuoken) delivers a smile. Personally, itís a bit of good flavor for a bit less power, but youíre using the Zerth abilities as complements, not as main course so itís fine. Also, wondrous idea to have all bits of your build explanations based off drinks and distilled spirits, something that blends greatly with the theme.


    Score: 4.0 (Elan Ardent is kinda bad for such a flavorful build, especially when you could have pulled off something a bit more spectacular. But aside from that, itís a very unique presentation)

    Power
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    First things first; I wonít ever penalize you for going out of Monk. Youíre doing it already. The ďMonk abilitiesĒ bit is separate from ďgaining Monk levelsĒ; you are no longer gaining Monk abilities, you are expanding those that already exist. Much like Superior Unarmed Strike doesnít increase Monk levels, and much like the Monkís Belt doesnít increase Monk levels, but some of the Monkís typical abilities. Hence, your unarmed strike damage would be 1d8 (1d10 with Superior Unarmed Strike; well thought!), your Armor Class bonus would be Wisdom + 1 (Wisdom + 3 with Drunken Master bonuses), and your unarmored speed bonus would be +20 ft., so youíve made quite a good choice with Zerth Cenobite.

    Now, to the meat of the build; the power. As you may know well, there are three ways to deal with a Monk; homebrew, unarmed Swordsage (one that I donít like) or psionics. Sadly enough, I miss Tashalatora; it would have been an awesome choice, since it would have added your few Ardent levels to your Zerth Cenobite levels and thus you would have had even more Monk-y goodness. I donít see very well whatís the gist of getting Alabaster Aerial as an Astral Construct, aside from having a pet that assists with flying creatures; it seems a bit weird given that your psionic potential is very limited, so it would quickly lose power as you gain levels since, having only two Ardent levels, youíd be only capable of using a 1st level Alabaster Aerial. I see itís because of the Assume Psionic Mantle ability, but I feel this could have gone for something else, something that you could use without much problem (such as, say, Consumption, or Life, or Time given you were going for Zerth Cenobite); I just donít see why add Astral Construct which you know wonít be very powerful, and you have no ways to boost it so itíll remain only as a pet. Brutal Strike appears too late; sicken is usually a weak debuff, but in your case it would have used Power Attack much earlier AND it would have had much better utility earlier on. There are several feats that could have been used for something else, even though someone else thought on that; namely, Overwhelming Attack to get free Power Attack and Improved Bull Rush to support Corkscrew Rush, since you donít get any other use for Stunning Fist or Combat Reflexes (you mention use of a battlefield controller, but thereís no Improved Trip which is the usual way to handle it, nor Stand Still which is the other tactic; I assume you mix Combat Reflexes and Stunning Fist for that, right?), which would have then freed your third level feat slot for, say, Flying Kick at level 3, and then get Brutal Strike at level 9, shifting Superior Unarmed Strike at level 12th and freeing your later level feat slots (which could have been used for Practiced Manifester on Ardent, giving you ML 6th on Ardent powers and thus a better Metaphysical Claw). If not interested in Imp. Bull Rush, you could have used Overwhelming Attack on 1st level, break the fighting style at level 2 by choosing Monastic Training (Ardent) as your bonus feat, then get Tashalatora once you got enough ranks in Autohypnosis; that would have jacked up your power to great levels, since you would have then 9 effective Monk levels, a +1 to your AC and up to 2d6 points of damage on your unarmed strikes and improvised weapons (see how that adds to power?). Acrobatic Strike is another feat thatís justÖapparently tacked in, offering little power for whatís worth (a +4 on the next melee attack, not the next set of melee attacks which is kinda meh).

    Then comes the Swordsage dip. Darn, that is one well-thought Swordsage dip. Burning Brand increases your reach (hence, you can attack from afar; enter long pole improvised weapons dealing several points of fire damage and striking from 15 (!!!) feet, Clever Positioning and Step of the Wind work to create opportunities to pull an enemy into difficult terrain (if only you had a way to create difficult terrain, it would be lethal), Drain Vitality is there to hurt on the creatureís Con (which means even more HP lost, less Fortitude as well), Shadow Jaunt is a short-range Dim Door which allows you to escape without much predicamentÖit really adds to the Drunken Masterís power at least two-fold.

    One more thing: why, oh why didnít you use Psionic Lionís Charge (especially with Flying Kick!)? Or Hustle? Itís almost unexcusable, even if Dissolving Touch is really quite good. 4d6 acid damage on one attack doesnít compare to attacking on a full charge, something that you could have done with Swagger and start charging all the way to success (with Burning Brand and others to support you all the way). The Zerth Cenobite move action ability is used once per day, which isnít a very good tactical move when you can nova once per day, instead of several (and Psionic Lionís Charge + Flying Kick would have meant several points of damage, something ALMOST as good as using an improvised weapon)


    Score: 3.5 (Itís a beautiful build whose power could have been polished a bit; it brings a HUGE amount of options to the table, something that I feel other builds havenít brought so far, but adding options that are at best situational and hence not very powerful)

    Elegance
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    Very close to have a masterful use of leapfrogging in here. You chose two of the four classes whose multiclassing potential is determined by how you use those levels, but they donít seem to be tacked there just because. You cleverly used Desert Wind Dodge to enter (yet not very cleverly the Monkís fighting style options, unless Combat Reflexes + Stunning Fist is your way to control the battlefield; otherwise I would have seen Overwhelming Attack + Monastic Training + Tashalatora work much, much more nicely), cleverly use the granted maneuvers from Swordsage, and even thought of ways to use Zerth Cenobite, a class that could use some more love. I can see how well explained are each of the options youíve given for each of your abilities, though I feel some abilities would have been better than others. All in all, itís really a blast to see how, of so many options, youíve gathered quite a bit of them. The only decking on Elegance Iíd make is because I feel a bit more thought and refining would have made a superb Drunken Master build.


    Score: 4.5 (I see several surprising options, very well organized; it shows you thought of pretty much everything on the small frame you were given, and with a bit more time it could be a really nice build. Itís a build I would love to DM at, or even attempt to play, and thatís saying a lot)

    Use of Secret Ingredient
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    Itís pretty bizarre how, at first instance, it may seem that you arenít using the ingredient pretty much. Iíll admit; the core of the ingredient isnít Drunken Master. Sorry to say that. But the build gains quite a bit of power from Drunken Master mostly because it does what your build intended to do; expand your options.

    First: Improvised Weapons seems like a very bad idea, since your fists are really good and thereís no actual support to using them, but then I see Burning Brand, and I think ďlong poles + Expansion + burning brand = 20 ft. reach attackĒ. Swagger definitely works nicely with your charge attempts (since you wanna charge, because of Flying Kick), and you added options to gain a charge that acts more like a double move and attack (and if you had Psionic Lionís Charge, it would have been the ultimate expression of a charge), mostly because you added mobility options (and really, that helps a lot given that you have the movement of a Monk, so it really starts to provide superb options as a Monk; I canít see how the heck you can be held by natural terrain, so youíve created a semi-Freedom of Movement option). Swaying Waist is kinda orphan, but it has a very tactical use; since Desert Wind Dodge activates against ALL enemies, you add that (and thus add more AC) towards the one you feel hits the most, so youíre increasing your survival options. Improved Grapple exists mostly when you need to hold someone up, and you use Expansion to work that out nicely; if lucky, you may actually catch a Large creature (but youíre trying to move when fighting larger creatures, sorta like a mouse running from a larger cat). Corkscrew Rush + Brutal Strike seems like a nice option, but I find that using Psionic Lionís Charge would have been better (several attacks, bull rush, stun, AND sicken); nonetheless, that is the sickest (pun intended) use of Corkscrew Rush ever.

    However, thereís Drink Like a Demon to consider. I see very little use for it, mostly because you effectively depend on Wisdom to use powers. But worry not; I think of it very closely, and I see it: Drink Like a Demon is your last option. Think about it; youíre drunk as heck, your psionic potential is exhausted, and there are still enemies around. Then you jug a drink. Then another, and then another. Suddenly, you resist several wounds, hit harder and better, start to heal, and even blast a furnace of flames, all the while still relying on the combat tactics that were already annoying them. Then, if you need to go away, you backslip into the future (pun also intended) and escape them just when things get really, really bad. Or just Shadow Jaunt. And if things get wrong, you just start spewing your drinks into a huge breath of flames. When all of this mixes, you can realize something pretty; Drunken Master, while not the center of the build, is such a potent component that the build would lose all of its flavor. You draw a huge reservoir of power from the Drunken Masterís secondary options, that just considering you can power up even further by drinking seems like a frightening idea. Certainly, there are few ways that creatures can overpower you, but you are so annoying to them youíll probably make them do great mistakes. And that, of course, deserves a prize.


    Score: 5.0 (aside from Improved Feint, I see how every single part of the Drunken Master chassis connects with your build. Itís not the core aspect of the build, but it opens so many options, it serves almost as a way how to optimize a Drunken Master).

    Overall: 17.0 (4.25)
    Thank you. Thank you. ThatísÖmost of what I say. It was very fun to critique, it was really a blast to analyze. Itís a radical new way to see the PrC, using several options that synergize well with your build, and your build doesnít lose much power from it. And it asks me to ask more. I really, really wanna see a more polished build, because I find that it has yet untapped potential. Itís not Sun Wukong, but closely resembles Son Gohan in that level of untapped potential. Itís not a build to monkey around.


    This is one half of the voting. The other should come pretty soon, as well as some other info, and I might even do a triple-post to add some of my experiences while judging.
    Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2010-11-30 at 01:25 PM. Reason: Fix'd Simon's score to meet the actual sum of the individual categories.

  22. - Top - End - #232
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Vermilion
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    Originality
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    Well, itísÖa drunken minotaur. WhatÖwellÖwhat could go wrong with that? Itís rather nice that you went for a Savage Species progression, making your race ALSO your class, and somehow fitting 8 levels of classes in order to get to Drunken Master. If thereís something original to your build, though, is itís simplicity; it is hilariously simple (points to Elegance, thus) and relatively effective. But what hurts it is the lack of color (pun not intended); aside from Minotaur, the build is pretty bare-bones.

    One saving grace: eventually it gets great. Fire-breathing, rushing minotaur coming at you is a sight to behold. But not so much as a drunken dragon-oid, for example.


    Score: 3.0 (Itís a very bare-bones build, simple but not particularly special. Though, it DOES have a Minotaur as a race and a class, being one of the few whom actually uses a monster on a fairly humanoid competition, speaking on the broadest terms since not all are actually humanoids mechanically but humanoids in appearance)

    Power
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    Pretty average, really. Itís really a build to hit hard and hit strong. It has HUGE strength bonuses, and of course the shining example of ďdonít mess with the MinotaurĒ; horns. I see that the idea is to combine a charge with a bull rush by using Corkscrew Rush; while late, something that hits for 6d6 gore damage + Strength up the wazoo + unbeatable bull rush + near-unbeatable stun definitely screws up the opposition. Also surprising is the secondary option: get a greataxe (or better, a Minotaur Greathammer) and squash the enemy like nobodyís business, what with a tripled PA damage just with a wee little leap (and that Strength modifier makes sure you DO IT).
    But I feel this build would have been much, much better if you added a little caveat; ďI hope LA buy-off worksĒ. Really, this SCREAMS for Dungeon Crasher; the damage would be insane, youíd get rid off the Minotaur LA, and get BAB +16 for all attacks. Itís really simple in its functionÖbut unfortunately brings few else to the table. You still get troubles with flying creatures (though, if you managed to flyÖ), incorporeal creatures still have benefits against you, and I miss Blind-Fight only for purposes of proving invisibility is not a match for you (because you can smell the enemy, ya?). Itís a one-trick pony, something that compared to others it ainít a surprising trick anyways (what with 30d12 breath weapons and unstoppable charges).
    One good thing, though: itís one of the few builds that are strong without magic items, something I like. Magic items are expected, but youíll never know when youíll have them accessible, and the less of them you donít need to rely at, the better. Itís refreshing to see a build that doesnít depend on those items to function at a very bare-bones degree. The fact that only the feats and class abilities can cause that much damage is refreshing.


    Score: 3.5 (it doesnít bring much to the table, though if your gore hitsÖ Or if your axe landsÖ)

    Elegance
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    The build is simple. That should tell enough. But, Iím not a man of ďenoughĒ words. Here are the proís and conís of a simple build.

    The cons include the fact that the build is greatÖfor when things work. All you need to do is charge and gore, much like a minotaur would do. Rely on your gore and weapon to do the work; simple enough. Rely on an improvised weapon that works pretty much like your axe and your gore, even simpler. But when youíre unable to charge (say, difficult terrain!), then your entire potential goes to waste. Stuff like skill tricks do the work, tricks that would have only required a moderate investment in skill points which, while scarce, would have been effective. Then comes flight, or incorporealness, and all of a sudden the simple trick goes to waste. This is really, really bad; but that belongs to power.

    The pros? Itís simple enough to be effective. The trick all consists on Powerful Charge, your racial ability: you wield your greataxe which you got proficiency with because of appearing in the entry list of Minotaur and what monstrous humanoid allows, and your horns which are much more powerful than anything else you can get. Then you use Power Attack, which would seem like a bad idea except you have a Strength score to allow for a reasonable hit, then Leap Attack for damage. Itís a simple, dirty and effective damage dealing build, one that only gets better with each passing level. When the build works, itís at its best pretty much always: you might rarely miss (and if you do, you get to modulate your BAB to add to your attack, as usual), but even with no PA youíll hit like a truck. This is getting on the tracks of the Barbarian, but you add stuff to make it even better.
    The other pros? With a build so simple, itís very difficult to miss what might go wrong. It relies on a simple tactic, not one that relies on weird rulings (Powerful Charge implies you can gore and then attack, Corkscrew Rush implies you can bull rush along the attack, Power Attack and Leap Attack are usually required when you charge), and that adds lots of brownie points for it. And it doesnít depend on other external sources to be useful. It may not be powerful, but as presented, you know exactly why it works, and thatís something I dunno if other judges look or admire, but that I think the audience might.

    I was about to give you a perfect score on Elegance. Almost. Thereís just a tiny, itty-bitty problem with the build, and thatís the fact you donít seem to use Combat Reflexes reliably. Sure, itís great when it works, but it relies very much on your awesome damage, something thatís almost binary (a hit or a miss), and if played intelligently, youíll rarely (if ever) see this feat in function. In fact, I ALMOST see Mobility work. Almost (since I donít ever see worth for Mobility). Heck, if only because you needed Dodge (and could have gotten Expeditious Dodge instead, which would have been EVEN BETTER), I would have recommended Passive Way for Combat Expertise (more AC) and Improved Trip. But I feel you could have replaced that 2nd level feat unless you found a use for it. Wait, thereís another reason: I donít see what would have happened if you added the LA buy-off option. If you did, then youíd have probably gained two more levels, and maybe got Karmic Strike or Stand Still or Robilarís Gambit just to show how nasty your build would have been. But that is mostly optional, so no hard feelings for that, aye?

    Score: 4.5 (It is a very simple build, but rarely you can find that things might not work. Savage Species might be a rare book, true, but the Minotaur already exists on the PHB and what the book does is explaining why or why not it works, and it does it in a very simple way. Aside from that, itís presented in a simple way, and mostly everything thatís added has its use, even Power Attack and Leap Attack which I didnít found any use until I realized there was a Greataxe at the midst and that Powerful Charge was online. So, all in all, the pros IMO greatly outweigh the cons.)

    Use of Secret Ingredient
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    This is an unusual trait, almost worthy of Schrodingerís paradox in how it goes on and off (though his paradox is mostly misinterpreted, but Iím a judge on this competition and not an astrophysicist). The trait is that the build doesnít seem to look as a Drunken Master build because of several things, but when looked at it closely it actually draws a lot from the class, and what it doesnít expand it complements instead. For example: Improvised Weapons donít seem like a choice when you are always wielding an axe, but things change when you realize that the greataxe is strong, but getting any improvised weapon is almost as strong. You donít use Improvised Weapons as a main tactic, but as a secondary one; however, the trick relies in that you are even more dangerous unarmed than wielding your greataxe, for any two-handed improvised weapon earns your already lethal unarmed strike damage, works for Power Attack and Leap Attack, and you donít care that much about the penalty by lack of proficiency because you have an immense Strength score to counteract. Another is Drunk Like a Demon; you have a very good Int and Wis score, natural armor that counteracts the lack of Wis, a reasonable Dodge and AC set of bonuses (and HP to withstand most of the hits), so itís a natural youíre going to boost your Strength even more, which by definition improves just about everything else (better damage, better attack bonus, better bull rush), so nice synergy with that one. Swagger makes your Powerful Charge even more erratic; you can move, gore and strike just from about any position which makes it a quite nasty tactic. Swaying Waist and For Medicinal Purposes exist mostly to provide greater survivability, but they are essentially orphan and unable to be altered. And of course, when you get to level 20th, Breath of Flame adds a huge amount of fire damage (3d12 per drink) to the end of the charge, so if the guy isnít dead, he will. Period. And of course, youíve optimized grappling quite well; not only youíre large, but also with enough strength to beat anything on your disposal, and with enough unarmed strike damage to punish the enemy; short of Gargantuan or Freedom of Movement, you catch near damn anything (but itís kinda secondary to gore-charging).

    Thereís just one thing I donít see using too much, and one I wonít punish you: Improved Feint. Itís definitely an ability you deliberately ignored, but thereís no good reason why you should feint, and given your Strength focus and lack of tactical abilities (heck, you canít be flat-footed, so using feint on you is pointless; makes perfect sense that itíd be an actually reasonable tactic for you), so I canít punish you for not using one ability. You use the rest, you use them so well itís painful.


    Score: 5.0 (Itís rare when a simple build uses the secret ingredient SO WELL. ItísÖitís kinda like Githzerai and Psionic Fist or Zerth Cenobite; the frickiní PrCs are built with them in mind. Kudos on showing the perfect way to build a Drunken Master, mate, though you have challenge on how well you can use the Secret Ingredient.)

    Overall: 16.0 (4.0)

    Itís very nice, very refreshing to see a build that groups the core principles of the competition, and do it so easily. Using Minotaur as a race, despite probably an unusual choice, really brings Drunken Master to a whole new level of power. I still wanna see it shine a bit more, but the fact that you showed it was quite powerful without magic items shows some promise (if it had class features, or LA buy-off, it would be so nasty it hurts, pun intended). Iím sure other judges may see Minotaur as a pretty unfair choice, but I see in here a build thatís simple, effective, easy to explain (the fact that you take the usual lore of the minotaurs, add it some spice, and make a nice short story from it helps a lot) that should earn high scores. I took a good look at it first, thought itíd have low scores, but after seeing the tricks, I notice itís really an above-average build that takes something that hurts (LA) and makes it important with each level. But, of course, the big deal is that, sometimes, it just doesnít feel like a Drunken Master build and feels like a charger build. But thatís fine, because when you see how Drunken Master helps the build, it makes you think you made a charger out of a Drunken Master, and not only that, but provided one new way to play it.


    Uthunan Kavuilika (u-THOO-nan ka-VOOIE-li-kah; thatís how you pronounce it Shinken)
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    Originality
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    Tilt-a-whirl! A monk with originally lawful tendencies turns into a chaotic barbarian, then enters a class that doesnít care about rules but couldnít care more about discipline, then you keep that chaotic line to get into Cleric and finally use your (horrible) luck to your benefit? ButÖI dunno, thatís not my cup of tea. Certainly: Goliath is a pretty odd build for a Monk, and probably weirder for a Drunken Master, but compared to a Minotaur, Mongrelfolk or Dragonborn, itís not that striking. Itís no core race, though, and quite certainly no template, so itís still quite original. However, originality consists of both unusual and interesting, and for some reason seeing a Goliath isnít very interestingÖor maybe itís the pairing of classes.

    But Iíll be fair. One original thing is the story, with the ties to fae, the focus on a bear and how the bear shapes your life (any shorter and youíd be a partner of Bearington the Bearbarian); another is the use of luck feats, and the idea of twisting the rules to your benefit (essentially taking advantage of a natural 1). Perhaps itís really that; youíre trying to do something cool by twisting the meaning of the rules, something that instead of being original, it leaves a bad taste on my mouth. Maybe itís just that.


    Score: 2.0 (A little rule-twisting in the name of originality makes sense and could be liked; using obscure rules to cripple yourself and then gain power from it when itís not needed seems like stretching disbelief a bit too far. A Goliath Monk/Barbarian was already unique enough, but it exceeded a little bit and made those enjoyable unique aspects lose some of their steam).

    Power
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    WellÖyou seeÖ What can I say of a build that tries to use obscure rules and break others? I already said that, while original and unseen, itís not very likeable. A good attempt at fondue, but dissecting the core of the argument is hearkening to dissecting the rules of the edition, and sometimes itís best to keep them quiet.

    Evidently, what you seek here is to use a very simple tactic: grab an enemy, and use it as a club until the enemy dies or you roll a natural 1 or 20, in which you essentially ďbreak the weaponĒ (and hence kill the enemy). So youíre using the power of improvised weapons in a groundbreaking new way, sorta like using arrows created from oneís own mind in the way they arenít intended. The latter has a rule that explicitly (or mostly explicitly) disallows it; here, itís not clear on the rules other than ďimp. weapons break on a natural 1 rollĒ. This, of course, calls for a DM ruling, and as a judge thinking as a DM (not as a player), I go for good taste. The idea is that you want to push the DM that the weapon ďbreaksĒ (you break the neck or the vertebrae of the enemy), the DM interprets the ďbreakĒ part of the rules as ďmaking the weapon uselessĒ, so instead of killing the enemy it no longer hits dealing lethal (or even non-lethal) damage, thus keeping good taste and decorum. That ruins the nice trick youíre trying to work with, leaving you with a grappler that depends on a single use of rage AND luck feats to succeed. What I said above may seem like a thing for Elegance, but in fact it also ruins a great deal of the power of your build, which wasnít very strong enough.

    But letís assume, as I did earlier on, that the trick would work; you catch two humans and use them as improvised weapons, hoping that on a natural 1 they die instantly. What you have is a mostly atypical grappler that seeks to get as high a grapple modifier as possible, then beating enemies senselessly and finding creative ways to cause attack rolls in hopes you get a natural 1 or natural 20 (even literally pushing your luck for that). Going incorporeal is enough to block that tactic, or flying outside of your range; that isnít solved, unless for some reason you throw the human and push a natural 1 (that way, you kill something even though not the intended target; did I mention watching humans fly with the idea that they may clumsily get screwed is kinda funny, at least when itís kept on a non-realistic frameset? It doesnít have to be humans). Anything that would ruin grapple ruins your tactic, and quite obviously that includes someone with better grapple, bigger creatures, creatures with huge Escape Artist checks, creatures with Freedom of Movement or even Grease get to evade you. And when you manage to do so, you use your weapon clumsily, or attempt to break it.

    But letís get to the good parts, aside from the main tactic. You use a system that helps a bit in controlling and even tanking allies: luck feats. Advantageous Avoidance allows you to prevent enemies from hitting you, Good Karma acts like Shield Other or the knightís improved shield ally ability (something that would work nicely on a tank build, which this isnít), and Unbelievable Luck/Third Timeís the Charm for moments when you need to survive or land that hit desperately (and in the case of attacks, the worst you can do is fail, not fumble). It has a bit more survivability, something I admire of people with the Luck domain, swashbucklers, users of luck feats, and Han Solo (aka, the Star Wars Roleplaying Game scoundrels which had a similar ability); however, they could have helped a lot without relying on a few bad choices.

    Score: 1.5 (The core mechanic of your build relies on a flimsy reading of the rules, and you seek to actually cripple yourself to work things out. If things donít work as intended; aka, kill people by breaking them, then the nice trick you tried to showcase breaks down and you lose a lot of potential, being only a grappler with little else to work with. Still, if you manage to grapple them, they are pretty much out of the competition and quite probably worth their use as weapons.)

    Elegance
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    Again; pushing the rules is nice, pushing the rules a bit too far is bad. As a DM, if something looks awesome, I might even encourage it, but to make a build whose whole basis is to stretch disbelief several degrees towards impossible is not something Iíd like on my table. And I presume other DMs agree. This build, or at least the core mechanic, belongs rightfully towards TO; it depends on a ruling that may or may not fly off, and it seems destined to be kept in the hangar. This is bad on a build, where you want the main trick (or tricks) to work, not to hopefully succeed.

    Second bad thing is to intentionally cripple yourself and then subvert that. You used the rules for playing cursed characters in the BoVD to intentionally take benefit. A fortuituous save ends up being a disaster, only to provide a minor benefit if you succeed on a grapple; however, if you fail on a grapple, yours is only to blame (and you seek the luck feats to patch that, something that I find lacking taste). As a kicker, Iím inclined to Good people; in the interest of fairness, I shouldnít punish you for using the Book of Vile DarknessÖand I wonít. But this cheese not only stinks, it stinks of rotten and thatís bad for Elegance.

    Third bad thing is the addition of Cleric. The idea is to get the domains: Luck for Third Timeís the Charm and Trickery for Trickery domain. Then, you add Fortuneís Friend to boost up that power and get TTtCh. Frankly, I find that unnecessary and terrible for the build; had it happened earlier, it wouldnít have been so bad, but it seems like youíre progressing an entirely new build instead of adding the power of the mix into your own. Note: it seems, since adding the few Cleric spells and the Fortuneís Friendís extra uses of luck feats allows you to survive and alter your luck in various ways, not to mention the possibility for turn undead and hence divine feats. But it doesnít mingle with the intention of the build, something I sadly have to discourage up a bit. I wanted to be surprised, but in a good way! Fortuneís Friend was good enough alone; maybe if the build had a bit of Temple Raider of Olidammara your trick would have worked, but it seems alien to the build. I wouldnít have had troubles with Fortuneís Friend, but I find some troubles with Cleric and what it provides.

    FinallyÖwell, I wonít punish you for alignment shifts. Some builds would be impossible without them. But there are enough things to jot down so as to make any deduction from this pointless.

    Score: 1.0 (long story short: a little cheddar is nice, a mountain of gouda is bad, and this is looking like a TO cheese factory. And while I donít believe Iím lactose intolerant, I donít like cheese with nothing elseÖat least not melted, soft, and with something else to dig in. Luck feats make the build a bit more palatable.)

    Use of Secret Ingredient

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    I donít see much use for Drunken Master. Much less for Drunken Master 10, and thatís saying something. All I see for Drunken Master is Drunk Like a Demon (for bigger Strength along with Mountain Rage) and improvised weapons. Nothing else. And what you intend to use the build relies on a flimsy ruling, so if I were to rule this down, Drunken Master is tacked in just because. Thereís no real reason why to use the class; a Barbarian with Multigrab could have probably used it better by itself, without relying on the idea that fuels the story of your build. I canít see anything to redeem it; not even Improved Grapple, because you already got that beforehand. Really, I donít see why this build is a Drunken Master build; this is a grappler build, something Iíd see better as a Reaping Mauler. Maybe you can try again if Reaping Mauler comes in?


    Score: 1.0 (you only get a benefit from Drunk like a Demon; even then, there are ways to get more Strength. I donít see how anything can get in, even orphan features like For Medicinal Purposes, Swaying Waist or Breath of Flame).

    Overall: 5.5 (1.375)
    IÖwas quite fair with you. But those are really, really low scores. I could have given a bit more for originality, but when I saw what you tried to do to your opponents, I got disheartened. The little side of me that cheers TO says ďhey, this is a cool ideaĒ, but everything else kinda repulses it.
    But Iíve had bad builds. Most of the builds I do arenít that good; others, though, are pretty even if not gems. That shouldnít dishearten you; itís a cool concept, but I just canít see it work, no matter how cool it may be. Thereís bending the rules, thereís breaking the rules, thereís disregarding the rules, and then thereís not understanding the purpose of the rules. Your build blends a bit of each.

    Oh, and donít think of my diatribe as harsh. This isnít meant to attack you, sir; this is to help you (as well as the other contestants) on future builds. Take this as you wish, probably with a grain of salt or a good drink, but I hope thereís no hard feelings involved.


    Chieftain Nini, the Whiskey King
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    Originality
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    If it werenít for one itty-bitty thing, this build would have had a quite original entry. That, of course, is the odd addition of dragonborn. Perhaps itís because of the Constitution bonus, but I really have a hard time figuring out what Dragonborn adds to the racial characteristics: thereís no mention of what else it gets, if you get the heart or wing aspect (you get the breath aspect, but it isn't mentioned in the table). It seems to be tacked on just because, and thereís not even a mention of how Nini became a dragonborn. Simply put, it seems like Bahamut acted on a whim; thatís weird, because Bahamut is lawful and usually demands that kind of respect.
    Removing thatÖitís the only build that uses an entry form that doesnít require Monk. Thatís laudable, even though Shou disciple is a 3.0 class that uses a different set of rules, ones you canít take advantage of. Yes, I am aware; true_shinken agreed that Shou Discipleís flurry ability counts for entrance, but thereís the table below that you canít seem to use; technically, that would imply that levels in Shou Disciple would stack with levels in Monk for purposes of Flurry of Blows. But thatís something of little importance; the fact that you found one of the few non-Monk entry ways into the class deserves to be commended, and also the fact that you make uses of Scout without mentioning ďSwift HunterĒ.


    Score: 4.5 (A small creature is awesome, and one that uses Scout, no lawful alignment AND no Monk levels deserves a prize. Sadly, all gets turned down by Dragonborn, which is bad because someone else used it better, so you get a good hit at it Nini is a Dragonborn because...? But still, no one used it, so...).

    Power
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    Evidently you come here in one of the many charging builds, but what surprises me is that you use a small creature, instead of a larger one. Several things stack: the fact that you can use flurry with martial weapons but also pounce means you can take a reliable amount of advantage from multiple hits regardless of whether you stand still or move around; evidently, you want to be moving of course. Another solid mix is Pounce and skirmish; not only you attempt to get many hits, you actually deal more damage with them (owing to unarmed strike damage and skirmish tagging together). Finally, you take good advantage of your small size without losing much power; rage allows you to have a reasonable Strength score despite your size (and with Drink Like a Demon, even more!), and you use Small race feats such as Underfoot Combat (for more AC against larger creatures), Confound the Big Folk (two out of the three tactics are superb, especially because of your unusual Strength and because you ignore size modifiers) and Elusive Target which synergizes with Confound the Big Folk (and since you have excuses to stay still because of flurrying with improvised light weapons, you can use those tactics and take cover from your own enemy!). The latter three tactics provide phenomenal non-AC defenses, since you can even cause enemies to hit their allies instead of you. It almost excuses that your damage dice is one size lower, which means reduced damage when standing still. Then you get Power Attack and Leap Attack, and you definitely pile the damage on a very small package; the area of the fist doesnít necessarily mean more damage, and you know that.

    However, this doesnít come with its own share of problems. Mostly, the reliance on specific magic items; as Iíve mentioned before, while a suggestion of magic items isnít bad at all, something that shows reliance upon them (especially on stat-boosting items) is a big letdown. I wouldnít have minded the gear to consider, but I see you do depend on a Belt of Magnificence and all tomes, something I frown upon (they are meant to be extremely rare, not so common). Without it, Nini has scores pretty close to elite array, and despite having a very good Strength for a halfling, it still hurts a bit. It hurts a bit more considering that Nini shows it has promise without all that amount of magic items, and even Drunk Like a Demon wouldnít have hurt that much, something that makes adding the magic items a bit of a pointless tactic to prove the worth of your build. Believe me: Iím not impressed by a Strength 30+, but the fact that it has great non-AC defenses (aside from Will) including size-related defenses, another strength for small sizes.


    Score: 4.0 (Belt of Magnificence and 6 tomes undermine the worth of using a small-size character in a most unusual way. You already qualify for Power Attack, and Drunk like a Demon adds quite a bit to that Strength.
    ADDITION: Charger tactics are a bit unexplored, but you mingle the Killer Gnome tactics into your charger tactics so they cancel each other out. Still, they elicit a reduction because you'd depend on magic items to cancel those, and the fighting style can only take advantage of so much...)

    Elegance
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    Everything is very well explained. Barbarian and Scout mingle very well, what with Pounce and Skirmish setting up a potent damage source. The fact that you have used two classes that depend on roughly the same entry requirements makes Dodge less painful to get (though, IMO, you should have gotten Expeditious Dodge because youíll constantly be using it, and it grants even more Dodge bonus to AC). And Shou Disciple allows something that you couldnít have gotten otherwise; to flurry with weapons, even if only improvised light weapons (but hey, add some TWF and more unarmed strike damage to that and you get even MORE damage).

    One thing that worried me, though, was the mix between Shou, jungle halfling and dragonborn. That seems to be a bit of stale or badly-done fluff: Shou disciple requires you to be either from the region, or to know pretty well of the region; the two ranks on Knowledge (local; Shou Expatriate) explain the first, but I donít seem to connect why a jungle halfling, or why dragonborn added to that. Dragonborn seems tacked on to the class for more Con, while jungle halfling exists mostly to prevent an XP penalty and thereís not much use for it (though you get proficiency with the shortbow, which should deal a bit with the range problem). Worse; halfling could have helped a bit with range, since you get at least a +1 to thrown weapons and some of the improvised weapons could very well be thrown. I canít seem to justify how a region that resembles China could work as a jungle so as to allow jungle halflings; thereís Guangdong/Kwangtung which could qualify as a jungle and thus explain whether jungles could exist in Shou as a China-expy, but those arenít treated as actual tropical rainforests, so a DM may very well disqualify it on a whim. The lack of clarity from this, and the fact the alternate race exists merely as a method to prevent a penalty makes the race choice rather unusual, even more since you could have found a small race which could have helped a bit more (and probably be even more unique). Then you add dragonborn, and it makes me think whether the race choice is actually legal.

    Still, I love how you explain the tricks, with catchy titles to indicate their general utility. I also like that, despite the reliance on stat-boosting items, you mention which magic items could work with the class on a separate part, showing how the magic items could boost the character but still showing separately how the build is still effective without them.

    Score: 4.5 (I donít like much the choice of race in terms of how little explanation for why it is possible exists within the build description; fluff is one thing, but it doesnít seem to bind to the bigger fluff. However, it shows you donít need to be a Monk to enter Drunken Master)

    Use of Secret Ingredient
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    It doesnít take much to see what kind of tricks you were trying to work with Drunken Master. The fact that the ultimate tactic goes online at level 20th and that you take only 9 levels makes it painstakingly obvious: a charger with Corkscrew Rush tacked in, with Drink Like a Demon adding to the Strength (and hence increasing attack rolls, damage rolls and bull rush opposed checks; then you stun the enemy). However, while thereís almost an exact similar build that works with this (Vermilionís Powerful Charge tactic), you add a new ingredient to the list, one thatís really, really worthwhile: Skirmish. Skirmish adds two things, one being the tacked damage and the other being the +1 bonus to AC. This may not seem as much: 2d6 tacked on to, technically, another 2d6 worth of unarmed strike damage plus 1d12 by means of improvised weapons may not seem much, but a +1 to AC that stacks with your AC bonus is worthwhile, even more when you realize you can wear armor. This is a big win, since the AC bonus for Drunken Master is independent of the AC bonus of the Monk, which means you get roughly 2 points of AC to add to light, medium or even heavy armor if you want (though heavy armor cripples your Evasion and Dex bonus to AC), coupled with Swaying Waist and the Shou Discipleís Dodge bonus to AC. Swagger obviously works with the charge, which becomes ever more important when coupled with Skirmish AND Elusive Target.

    That said, I disagree with some of the other uses. Your small size makes Improved Grapple a risk more than anything else, since you canít grapple larger creatures and your feats donít provide boosts to grapple; your size and Strength, though, allow you to escape grapples well which may be a good option. Likewise, thereís too little Charisma and Bluff for an effective feint, and your mobility dependence makes feinting a bad idea. The fact that you at least try to consider it isnít an excuse for not being truly able to use it.


    Score: 4.0
    (Breath of Flame is missed and not much use of Improved Feint, though I forgive the latter. Still, thatís probably one of the two most dangerous Corkscrew Rushes Iíll see, worse because yours actually grants the skill to land a few more hits. A few more feats and youíd have struck gold, probably Flying Kick, Snap Kick and maybe Clever Wrestling, but you donít really need them to be brutally effective.)

    Overall: 17.0 (4.25)
    Your path is quite bizarre; blending killer gnome and charger strategies seems counter-intuitive because killer gnomes tend to be Small (or smaller) and chargers tend to be usually Medium but preferably Large (or Larger). However, your path pays off nicely; the fact that you deal quite a bit of damage, if not MORE, than most chargers and still rely on killer gnome defenses grants you quite a bit of leverage. Itís also a Drunken Master build which, despite having most of the problems with most martial characters (inability to fly on its own, troubles with illusions or incorporeal creatures), it tackles some of the troubles (namely non-AC defenses) quite well. I attempt to reason how Dragonborn fits in (I see a mention of using the breath weapon), but I would have discarded it; no true flavor comes from it, actually, and the breath weapon you get doesnít get some of the nice tricks to power it up, so it mostly seems to exist just because, and no real synergy with the class (and it would have made Breath of Flame all the more nice). Even if Dragonborn wasnít present, the build is quite good, and actually pretty powerful considering the other people are either Medium, Large, or Medium acting like Large.


    Gazebo Jones
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    Originality
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    The name ďGazeboĒ shows it all. A WarforgedÖnot very eye-catching, I must admit. Thereís the typical Monk (which isnít really a problem), and even a bit of Fighter to boot. Normally, it wouldnít be a surprising build, and could be easily dismissed. Then you get me. Drunken pogo stick humpingÖerm, leaping upon the body of the fallen victim? Darn, thatís comedy gold! And the thing is, itís meant to be serious!
    Another thing is using one of the Thralls. Usually, the Thralls and Disciples tend to be pretty potent, though usually used to enable sickening builds (mostly Disciple of Dispater for critical shenanigans). There are other ways to get Alter Self, but this one is pretty clever indeed, and one that essentially forces you to be evil. SoÖyou may very well be used by any of the other guys in the competition, and eventually betray them by attacking them! I mean, just seeing you and Bu fight each other (you because youíre evil and hiding as an improvised weapon, Bu because he hunts other Drunken Masters but not necessarily cares for alignment) would make for a very interesting fictional storyÖ


    Score: 3.5 (the fact that you are your own weapon takes a whole new meaning. Also; you are a slimy guy, indeed. And Iím not speaking about sleazy either.)

    Power
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    One thing Iíve noticed is that most builds go for grapple, charging or dealing with improvised weapons. You, on the other hand, try your hand on several tactics, including charging (Power Attack + Shock Trooper + Combat Brute), bull-rushing (Imp. Bull Rush + Corkscrew Rush + Combat Brute), and even the lesser used sunder and overrun. This is both a boon and a curse.

    The boon, of course, lies in that you use Combat Brute for charging and bull-rushing, which supports your use of the PrC. Combat Brute also supports sundering, allowing you to get what you usually get with Improved Trip, plus you make the enemy lose its weapon or shield, meaning that if they depend on a weapon theyíre officially screwed (and with your corrosive slime, I think you can reliably destroy a weapon). When you use Corkscrew Rush, you essentially prepare to deal even greater damage on the next round, sorta like a Stormguard Warrior benefit which is really, really awesome. Then, from Shock Trooper, you get Directed Bull Rush and Domino Bull Rush, which means you do so much with bull rush attempts that it hurtsÖor would have hurt, except for something Iíll mention below. You use Improved Overrun instead of trip, which means you can also let enemies fall to the floor and take advantage of their state to land free hits, and if they escape, they set up nicely for your future charges.

    The curse, though, relies on what's missing of each tactic. First, bull rush: you have four levels of Fighter, and I really, really donít understand why you didnít got Dungeon Crasher. You more than anyone else, because youíre redefining bull rush as a potent offensive move, and Corkscrew Rush with Dungeon Crasher, Combat Brute and Shock Trooper would have delivered a world of hurt. Because of what you do, youíll rarely use overrun, which is a tactic thatís very hard to optimize (you canít land a hit while using it, something thatís really bad because it doesnít work as well as trip does), and youíreÖsundering. Sundering, something that almost 100% of the players can agree, is bad; you get no magic items or loot at all, and that can be a waste even for someone who may not see himself or herself as depending on magic items.

    However, letís leave that behind. Letís go to the real power behind your character; Alter Self. Itís hard to define which monsters make good constructs, but Alter Self allows you to use them all (or mostly all); aside from animated objects (which is the source of your power), you can transform into stuff like guardian familiars or homunculi or even other kinds of warforged. Using constructs of less than 5 HD well works much better than using animated objects, a power that undoubtedly shouldnít go to waste (all the more if you get a form that aids on your combat actions and still allows you to use your feats).

    One thing worries me, though, and thatís how feasible it is to use yourself as a weapon. You can blame that worry on what others have said, but itís indeed a sensible worry; to what extent something counts as an improvised weapon? As far as I can see, it requires being an object; the moment an object becomes animated, it becomes a creature and stops becoming an improvised weapon. Furthermore, you have no hand with which to wield yourself, so the trick may end up being a bit pointless. However, I donít consider it that much because your powers lie elsewhere, mostly within Alter Self (and some other of the Thrallís powers such as sickening slime and corrosive touch) and combat maneuvers (bull rush, charge, sunder, overrun).
    One more thing: the best thing you can have is a summoned ooze. They are hard to manipulate, but harder to defeat and much harder to deal with. Even the most potent spellcaster may find himself victim of an ooze, and thatís as much defense you can get against them.


    Score: 3.5 (Your main trick isnít really your main trick, and your real main tricks are either really good but bested by others, or lackluster. Alter Self isnít exploited which is a shame. Yet, being a thrall gives you a potent ally to use, one that used appropriately can cause nearly anything to grit their teeth in anger.)

    Elegance
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    A thrall of Juiblex (not Jubilex) is kinda messy, but the build really isnít that messy. Itís quite simple, straight to the point: a few levels of Monk to prepare for Drunken Master, Fighter levels for better BAB and more feats, Thrall of Juiblex for your trick and Drunken Master for your other tricks. I find little problem with that.

    What I find problems is with your main trick. As I can see it, turning into an animated object wouldnít fly out; you are the weapon, but you really do slam attacks which you can already do as a warforged (you do get the unarmed strike damage as a warforged monk with your slams, IIRC). Still, thereís a benefit from listing on what you can turn into: you determine what are your options when using a real improvised weapon.

    Quirk-wise, I liked the small FAQ and how the story works as an introduction to the build, allowing you to hide in plain sight of your opponents AND making for an interesting read. A bit turned off because of the immense title, and the fact itís used twice.


    Score: 3.0 (Pretty simple, bare-bones and effective; still, I have some troubles with the main trick and how viable that may be.)

    Use of Secret Ingredient
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    I admire that you tried to have improvised weapons in mind, but they arenít really your forte. With two levels of Monk, the damage you get is pretty little and mostly insignificant, which means YOU as an improvised weapon wouldnít have dealt much damage; that said, you probably canít use yourself as an improvised weapon so you canít add the damage to yourself (though thatís clever use of lateral thinking). As usual, anything that charges and uses Bull Rush uses Swagger and Corkscrew Rush, so definitely using them well. I have no qualms with Drink Like a Demon, since while you donít actually get drunk, the rules speak nothing about you having to get drunk, so you can be called Gazebo ďPlaceboĒ Jones and still be as effective.

    One big point I wanna say about Corkscrew Rush. If you had added the Dungeon Crasher feature, that would have been one LETHAL bull rush charge, dealing damage on the first try and then shelling out Power Attack on the second, along with adding the very nice bonus to attack and damage rolls from the earlier roll (and if you used Power Attack on the latter one, benefitting from Momentum Swing). Also, if you had thought of Leap Attack, you could have nearly tripled your PA damage and with a +16 thatís nothing to scoff off. Having said that, you probably made the best use of Corkscrew Rushís bull rush attempt, pairing off with other great charger builds on the use of that ability. Your Strength aids for Improved Grapple, but I donít really see how you can use it more than other competitors, and Improved Feint is something that you clearly ignore. The other orphan features provide a minor benefit, though I have my worries about For Medicinal Purposes, since youíre a Warforged; in any case, you gain half the benefit of For Medicinal Purposes, and that hurts the ability a LOT. You donít get to heal 2d8+3; you heal half that amount, which can be somewhere between 2 to 9 hit points of damage, something pretty insignificant.


    Score: 2.5 (One of, if not the, best uses of Corkscrew Rush, but the other abilities donít seem to shine, and you nerfed the potential of For Medicinal Purposes. If it really flew out, you could draw a lot from improvised weapons added damage, but you donít add too much damage to your slams, so you mostly depend from charging.)

    Overall: 12.5 (3.125)

    For all the funny hijinks that could ensue, I donít see much potential in this character. It makes a unique use of Alter Self, but aside from that, you get little benefit from Fighter or Drunken Master. Remaining as a Thrall would have been much more effective in your case, because while Corkscrew Rush is clearly a target of your build, the Thrall itself would have given you greater benefits (such as more oozes to manipulate or more acid to secrete, not to mention immunity to crits, sneak attacks, paralysis and poisons which you lack. As a Drunken Master, I see little to justify delving all 10 levels aside from Corkscrew Rush, and I see very few combat maneuvers truly synergizing with each other aside from bull-rush, charge, and probably sunder.
    Last edited by T.G. Oskar; 2010-12-01 at 10:38 AM. Reason: Fixing Nini's scores after solving some disputes.

  23. - Top - End - #233
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Alright, now for the experiences:

    First and foremost, thanks for showing your builds. Some were really, really good, while some IMO could have done better (and there was one build that really disappointed me because of what it relies upon). Took me a while to do each, but after a pretty solid run I finished the last four today; so, while it's Tuesday, some people may think of it as late Monday. So, word has been honored.

    Second, and for the curious: the document where I saved the judgings has 21 pages, 15,183 words, 85,458 characters (with 70, 364 of those characters not relying on lines or spaces), 982 lines and 140 paragraphs. So yes, it's a long document. It's not the longest document I've ever made, however. So, in case you were wondering whether I had a Twitter account, you may realize it's impossible for me to have one because I LOVE to write stuff.

    Finally, there's one thing I did to each build, and that was give an opinion on how to make them better. You see; even if the build is good, giving options on how to make it better should aid the contestants in future sessions. Ideally, a build should have a sense of power and flavor in equal terms, but sometimes a contestant finds himself (or herself) in a rush and doesn't consider a move that could provide some more power or add to the flavor. For example; while there were 3 Monk builds for every one non-Monk build, only a few considered fighting styles, and I don't recall ever seeing an alternate class feature or racial substitution level applying to the Monk (but I saw it on other classes). Some choices I expected them to be a bit more pronounced but they were absent; namely, Expeditious Dodge was great for mobility-geared builds, but sadly I didn't saw it on action. I saw two or three builds whom could have taken advantage of Dungeon Crasher as well. These, amongst others, are tidbits on how to customize and improve builds to add more power or complement the main trick, or even to add to the flavor (since something such as Expeditious Dodge would have fit something like Skirmish, for example, or even Swagger).

    Having said that, any comments or questions please provide to Chairman Shinken. I hope to be of service and that I made a fair judging, even though all scores varied wildly.
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  24. - Top - End - #234
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    (Stealing OMG_Ponies' table)

    {table=head]Name|Place|Total|Average
    Vermillion|GOLD|44|3.67
    Chieftain Nini, the Whiskey King|SILVER|42|3.5
    Laph Roaig|SILVER|42|3.5
    Gazebo Jones|BRONZE|41|3.417
    Bu the Hobo Fist|Fifth|40|3.33
    Eric Redscale|Sixth|38|3.167
    Uthunan Kavuilika|Seventh|32.5|2.71
    Simon the Incompetent Archer|Eighth|32|2.67[/table]

    Looks like we're going to need another judge to break up the 2nd place tie, and it'd be good anyways since the top scores are very close and have swung so wildly across the three judges so far.
    Last edited by Grynning; 2010-11-30 at 03:53 AM.
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  25. - Top - End - #235
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    I had some time so I did a little scoring. I shall await the chairmans permission before I post them though.

  26. - Top - End - #236
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Quote Originally Posted by WinWin View Post
    I had some time so I did a little scoring. I shall await the chairmans permission before I post them though.
    Go ahead, WinWin.
    Even after WinWin posts, I'll await until the end of the week to see if the remaining judges do show up.

  27. - Top - End - #237
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    Sorry for the delay

    Bu
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    Originality 3.5: I like the idea, though I would not require a reflavouring of Fist of the Forest as a DM. As long as your character slept outdoors or used improvised shelter and did not actually pay for sustenance, it would be adhering to the requirments of the class. Chameleon was unexpected, but see below.
    Power 4: Versatile and decent combat efficacy.
    Elegance 3: Mongrelfolk do not qualify for chameleon without taking a feat like Human Heritage. Otherwise ok, but may lag behind at a few points in his career depending on the composition of the party. Additional 1 awarded to elegance
    Use of Secret Ingredient 3.5: You make decent use of a few features. Nothing unexpected here. For charge optimization I would have thought Corksrew Rush to be invaluable.


    Eric Redscale
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    Originality 5: I can honestly say I was not expecting Dragonfire Adept.
    Power 2: I can see what you were trying to do here...I am not that impressed. Sure, you can dish out the hurt when you reach the capstone, but before then your damage is not that impressive. With an attack bonus of +11, the listed tactics you suggested will most likely fail when your breath weapon is unavailable.
    Elegance 2.5: Starts of strong, DM adds to Save DC's of breath weapon, but otherwise inhibits the build until the capstone. Most campaigns struggle to reach level 10, let alone level 20.
    Use of Secret Ingredient 2.5: You make exceptional use of a couple of features. The others appear to be wasted space.


    Simon
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    Originality 4.5: Soulknife/bow was not was I was expecting
    Power 3.5: Hinges on a dubious argument about mind arrows. A bonus point for making your own booze.
    Elegance 2: You seem to want to optimize Soulbow before moving into a class that harms the build.
    Use of Secret Ingredient 2.5: DM seems to be more of an afterthought than the main ingredient. Clever if you can convince the DM that your trick works as intended.


    Laph Roig
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    Originality 4: A psionic build is an interesting approach.
    Power 3: Difficult to approximate accurately. You counter the low BAB by making touch attacks and certainly have the charging down...But you encounter a few traditional Monk stop/start inhibitions. Martial maneuvers and Powers help here, but I can forsee a few issues with action economy.
    Elegance 4: Fairly straightforward with a lot of content for levels invested.
    Use of Secret Ingredient 3: This score relates somewhat to power. You go to great pains to describe how Psionics and Maneuvers help the build but make almost no mention of Drunken Master's features. I would have liked to have seen more description of how it was essential to the character other than as a prerequisite for competition.


    Vermillion
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    Originality 4: Minotaur monk. Unusual for sure.
    Power 2: Not really overwhelming. You start fairly strong, then almmost in spite of racial ability modifiers you character begins falling behind. I expected more damage potential from the use of Minotaur.
    Elegance 4: Simple, but not really effective in comparison to other builds.
    Use of Secret Ingredient 2: I do not see it. Even with LA buyoff this build would be struggling to make great use of all features of the PrC.
    Last edited by WinWin; 2010-12-01 at 10:28 AM.

  28. - Top - End - #238
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    WinWin seems to be missing a few contestants, but by now (with WinWin's judgings for Bu, Eric, Simon, Laph and Vermillion) [B]we have a tie for first place[/B]. Let's wait for WinWin's remaining judgings, but by now it seems we're gonna need another judge! Well, nevermind. We still could have a tie for 2nd place.
    1st - Chieftain Nini - 59
    2nd - Vermillion - 56
    2nd - Laph - 56
    4th - Gazebo Jones - 52
    5th - Eric Redscale -50
    6th - Simon the Incompetent Archer - 44.5
    7th - Uthunan Kavuilika Seventh - 42.5
    8th - Bu the Hobo Fist - 40

    More surprisingly all contestants still have a shot of winning if we indeed get another judge. This looks like the most balanced IC so far!
    Well, this did swing anywhere. Very, very balanced. Let's see all disputes, votes for honorable mention and wait to see if we have another judge until the end of the week.
    Last edited by true_shinken; 2010-11-30 at 11:09 AM.

  29. - Top - End - #239
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    for some reason I can't post anything with copy/pasted content. annoying, as I have to retype everything. This is going to be a major issue if I plan on competing or judging in another competition...I do everything via a word processor.

    Uthunan
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    Originality 4.5: Barbarian Monk...That attempts to optimize failure. Sure, have some points.
    Power 2.5: Improved Grab requires an attack roll to hit...Lucky your natural attacks are not improvised. Grappling is an opposed roll, not an attack roll. As for using an opponent as a weapon I can see nothing in the rules about it, but a permissive DM may allow it. Even so, swinging a pinned opponent around for a 1 in 10 chance of auto-destruction is not an efficient form of optimization. Mildy amusing in a one-off game. An inefficient use of actions over the course of a campaign.
    Elegance 1.5: The build seems to be geared around one trick.
    Use of Secret Ingredient 2: You attempted to enhance one minor aspect of Drunken Master. A more rounded character may have resulted in a higher score.


    Chieftain Nini
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    Originality 4: I was not expecting a halfing Shou Disciple.
    Power 4.25: You're behind the rest of the party thanks to multiclass penalties, from level 4 onwards. Aside from that, you make decent use of Elusive Target, Pounce and Corkscrew Rush for some impressive staggering charges and battlefield mobility.
    Elegance 4.25: Multiclassing hurts. Aside from that, your build is relattively straightforward.
    Use of Secret Ingredient 5: Probably the best in this round as far as I am concerned. Comprehensive and all features are addressed. There is some room for improvement, but then there almost always is.

    Edit: Additional 0.25 awarded to Power and Elegance


    Gazebo
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    Originality 3: Reminds me of psycrystal optimization, though this build takes it into a different dimension
    Power 4: Whilst in another form, Gazebo is still a construct. His attacks are not improvised as construct are proficient with their natural attacks. Having said that, many construct form are still capable of using improvised weapons.
    Elegance 1.5: Constructs do not eat. Unlike Outsiders, which do not need to eat, but can if they choose to...By my reading this character can not become a Drunken Master. This score has been modified by and additional 0.5
    Use of Secret Ingredient 3: An interesting approach, but I do not believe that your character can qualify for the class. If he could...Then your creative approach would certainly be effective
    Last edited by WinWin; 2010-12-01 at 10:18 AM.

  30. - Top - End - #240
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge XV

    I'd volunteer as tie breaker, but I've been judging/critiquing the PrC competition for several days and too mentally weary of homebrew.

    How about you just choose your favorite, Shinken? In contests I run I reserve votes until just such an occasion.

    Edit: That's odd. Working on an NPC for my game called Vermilion....
    Last edited by The Vorpal Tribble; 2010-11-30 at 10:17 AM.

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