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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Amphetryon's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    He's good, bad, and ugly, all in one.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dustie
    Dustie, The Thri-Kreen With No Name

    Bloodbath Bill stumbled into the old barn, desperate eyes glancing around the wide enclosure as he stumbled into one of the old stalls lining the sides. The hay was damp, and smelled musty- that was normal, that was fine. Grasping his broken arm, he collapsed against the side of the stall. When did this go wrong? The stickup went off without a hitch; he and his posse had made off like the bandits they were. They had enough money to last for at least another three months; quite a feat, given their standard living.

    And then, out of nowhere, as they were getting back to the hideout, it struck. Bill didn't know what it was- no one there did. It was all a blur. A mass of limbs and a jacket had burst out of the underbrush, lightning fast, and got Billy, before incapacitating Mighty Nelson within seconds. There was no hesitation after that- they ran. Bill got hit a half dozen times in the arm- it was broken for sure, but he got away. The others- the others weren't so lucky. It got them. It got all of them. He lost it- he knew he did. His breathing had slowed by now, and the pain had faded into a dull throb. He could get away- start anew. Maybe fall in with Black Heart Jones' gang- they had worked together in the past, and maybe- *snap*

    Bill eyes darted up at the noise. It was here. It was following him. Taking up the rusted shovel leaning on the wall, he crept up to the door- maybe he could get a jump on it, and then-

    A rasping, insectile voice appeared from behind him, causing him to jump. "Bloodbath Bill, your days as an outlaw are over."


    The Build
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    Dustie, The Thri-Kreen with No Name
    Psionic Thri-Kreen 4/Totemist 4/Swordsage 2/Justiciar 10


    Starting Stats:
    Before racial modifiers: Str 16, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 12, Cha 8, Wis 10
    After racial modifiers: Str 18, Dex 18, Con 16, Int 10, Cha 4, Wis 12
    (Stat bonuses from levels go to Strength.)
    The Level-by-Level Breakdown:
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    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Thri-Kreen RHD|
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +3
    |Gather Information 2, Hide 4|Multiattack|Deflect Arrows, Thri-Kreen Racial Abilities

    2nd|Thri-Kreen RHD|
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |Gather Information +.5, Hide +1, Search +.5||

    3rd|Level Adjustment|
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |||

    4th|Level Adjustment|
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |||

    5th|Totemist 1|
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +5
    |
    +3
    |Survival +4|Skill Focus (Gather Information)|Wild Empathy, Illiteracy

    6th|Totemist 2|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +3
    |Gather Information +1, Search +.5, Survival +1||Totem Bind (Chakra)

    7th|Swordsage 1|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +8
    |
    +5
    |Gather Information +.5, Search +1, Hide +3||Quick to Act +1, Discipline Focus (Weapon Focus)

    8th|Totemist 3|
    +4
    |
    +3
    |
    +8
    |
    +6
    |Gather Information +.5, Search +1.5|Track|

    9th|Totemist 4|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +9
    |
    +6
    |Gather Information +.5, Search +1.5||Totem's Protection

    10th|Swordsage 2|
    +6
    |
    +4
    |
    +10
    |
    +7
    |Gather Information +.5, Search +.5, Hide +4||AC Bonus

    11th|Justiciar 1|
    +7
    |
    +4
    |
    +10
    |
    +9
    |Gather Information +1, Search +1, Hide +2|Psychic Renewal|Bring 'em Back Alive, Nonlethal Strike +1d6

    12th|Justiciar 2|
    +8
    |
    +4
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    |Gather Information +1, Search +1, Hide +2||Improved Grapple, Crippling Strike

    13th|Justiciar 3|
    +9
    |
    +5
    |
    +11
    |
    +10
    |Gather Information +1, Search +1, Hide +1, Survival +1||Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Manacles), Street Savvy +2

    14th|Justiciar 4|
    +10
    |
    +5
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    |Gather Information +1, Search +1, Hide +1, Survival +1|Martial Stance(Crushing Weight of Mountains)|Nonlethal Strike +2d6

    15th|Justiciar 5|
    +11
    |
    +5
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    |Gather Information +1, Search +1, Hide +1, Survival +1||Hog-Tie

    16th|Justiciar 6|
    +12
    |
    +6
    |
    +12
    |
    +12
    |Gather Information +1, Search +1, Hide +1, Survival +1||Street Savvy +4

    17th|Justiciar 7|
    +13
    |
    +6
    |
    +12
    |
    +12
    |Gather Information +1, Search +1, Hide +1, Survival +1|Martial Study (Dancing Mongoose)|Nonlethal Strike +3d6

    18th|Justiciar 8|
    +14
    |
    +6
    |
    +12
    |
    +13
    |Gather Information +1, Search +1, Hide +1, Survival +1||Improved Hog-Tie

    19th|Justiar 9|
    +15
    |
    +7
    |
    +13
    |
    +13
    |Gather Information +1, Search +1, Hide +1, Survival +1||Street Savvy +6

    20th|Justiciar 10|
    +16
    |
    +7
    |
    +13
    |
    +14
    |Gather Information +1, Search +1, Hide +1, Survival +1|Power Attack|Intuition, Nonlethal Strike +4d6[/table]

    Meldshaping
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    {table=head]Level|Class|Soulmelds|Essentia|Chakra Binds

    5th|Totemist 1|
    2
    |
    1
    |
    0

    6th|Totemist 2|
    3
    |
    2
    |
    1

    8th|Totemist 3|
    3
    |
    2
    |
    1

    9th|Totemist 4|
    4
    |
    3
    |
    1
    [/table]

    Maneuvers
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    {table=head]Level|Class|Maneuvers Known|Maneuvers Readied|Stances Known

    7th|Swordsage 1|Burning Blade, Distracting Ember, Cloak of Deception, Sudden Leap, Counter Charge, Fire Riposte|4|Child of Shadow

    10th|Swordsage 2|Mountain Hammer|4|Assassin's Stance[/table]


    The Legend
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    Level 5:
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    Thri-Kreen 4/Totemist 1

    Dustie was born to be great. This much was known from the very moment of his hatching. As he was brought out into the world, the first cracks spidering out of the egg, the earth shook. Thunder rumbled on the horizon, and dust clouds billowed over the horizon as he came. As his clutch watched in awe, the storm grew ever louder and the cracks kept growing, until at last the storm had died down, and the young Thri-Kreen crawled out of his egg. It was at this time that the clutch first saw what was in the storm. Dozens of white-topped... things appeared in the dust clouds, led by prey-animals that the clutch had never seen before. Out of the things stepped... they didn't know. It looked like a molted Thri-Kreen, with two arms instead of 4, but it could stand and gesture with no difficulty. It was an odd creature. It was at this point that the clan noticed Dustie, and they knew his destiny. He would go to these creatures, and he would spend his life there. He was groomed by the tribe to learn how to learn from others, learning the basics of picking up details from others and gathering information from the very day he was born, and soon after was taught the sacred art of binding his soul to the land itself.

    Years would pass before he would master the basics of the techniques, before he would be allowed to scout for the clutch's Hunters, and he faced trials and tribulations beyond what any would have expected of him. But that's another story.

    Spoiler
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    This is weakest point in Dustie's build, at the very beginning of his career. Here, his lack of BAB makes him as skilled as spellcasters in combat, with defensive options that help him survive in combat from the Psionic Thri-Kreen levels, such as Greater Concealing Amorpha.

    However, at this level, he is almost unmatched as a scout– between a high dexterity, the Chameleon psi-like ability, the Kruthik Claws soulmeld, and Hide as a racial skill, Dustie is able to sneak around unseen (though perhaps not unnoticed altogether).


    Level 7:
    Spoiler
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    Thri-Kreen 4/Totemist 2/Swordsage 1

    Dustie grew up nice and strong- stronger, quicker, hardier than the other members of his tribe. He was a born fighter, and mastered the technique of bonding the totem-beast of his tribe, the Girallion, to his main Chakra the earliest of anyone else his age. The time swiftly came that he was able to become a man, and to lead his first Hunt- which he did with great aptitude.

    But other things come with adulthood- namely, responsibility. Dustie was born to meet with the human tribe, and once he was grown he was responsible for fulfilling his destiny. With a heavy heart, he left his tribe, to enter the hive of the alien creatures.

    There, he was astounded by the place. There were solid dwellings made of trees, fighting and laughing and strangers. He tried to learn about the town, to try to see what was there. People shunned him, and left him alone. But he had to find his destiny. Eventually, he found something he knew- he found skinned prey-beasts, the meat roasted and the skins hung out by vile liquid. This is where he would learn about the humans.

    He found out that there were Hunters of this place, too. They brought in the prey-beasts, which they called Buffalo, he was told. They brought in 3 or 4 Buffalo each time they went out. Mighty Hunters, then. Dustie went to find them; this was something that he knew, a place to enter this new society, and learning the skill of these hunters, who could take 3 or 4 Buffalo per night! He followed them on their next Hunt, and was unprepared for what they saw. They were no real Hunters! They didn't fight the beasts with spear and wit alone. They tricked the beasts, with fire and shadow, before shooting the things where they stood. There was no justice in that! They didn't respect the animals, merely slaughtering them for food. Disgusted, Dustie left the field group, and went home to his clutch. There was no place with the humans.

    Something stayed with Dustie that day, though. He had seen enough violent deaths at the hands of the prey-beasts. He could figure out a few tricks of these... butchers, could he not? He could save his clutch-mates' lives. He would just make sure to respect the Hunt-Beasts, to fight them like they deserved. Then it would be alright...

    Spoiler
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    At this level, the build is beginning to come together. Dustie now has 7 natural attacks- 4 from his claws, one from his bite, and two more from his Girallion arms soulmeld. However, he has an unfortunately low attack bonus due to the level adjustment and lack of BAB from Swordsage and Totemist 1. However, the maneuvers he gains from the level in Swordsage more than make up for this. Distracting Ember and Cloak of Deception, in particular, allow him to raise his attack bonus to match Rogues, or exceed them in the case of high dexterity opponents. Against opponents with a low armor class and high hit points, such as the prey animals Dustie often hunts, the Burning Blade maneuver adds huge amounts of damage over the attack sequence- about 7d6+21 damage, if all attacks hit.

    Finally, Swordsage adds one last key maneuver for Dustie- the Sudden Leap maneuver. In order to properly get off all of his 7 natural attacks, he needs to be in melee combat range. Sudden Leap, when combined with his 18 in Strength, 40ft base land speed, and +30 racial bonus, can allow him to close into melee combat range in a Swift action, giving the ability to move across the battlefield and full attack someone- a power usually reserved for Charger builds.



    Level 11:
    Spoiler
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    Thri-Kreen 4/Totemist 4/Swordsage 2/Justiciar 1

    Time passed, as it is wont to do. Dustie lived a good life out on the plains, but he grew restless. The few tricks he picked up from the butchers made hunting far too easy now- he was the best hunter in clan history, and he felt less of a thrill from the Hunt. Not from overuse, either- the herds had started disappearing, showing up in smaller and smaller numbers, or not at all. Dustie had to follow the tracks they left, at times, to find the herd, rather than being able to see them from his home. To make matters worse, the humans' city had been growing. More and more of them were swarming the plains, tearing up the prairie grass and growing foreign plant in their place. Dustie knew that it was a sign. He had to go back, and fulfill his destiny. Whatever it was.

    When Dustie entered the town, it was in a state of disarray. Doors were bolted shut, and there were sounds of fighting from the Saloon. Dustie barged in, seeking the source of the commotion. There, in the center of the room, was a brawler. As Dustie watched, dumbfounded, he slammed a man into the floor, threw another against the wall, and chucked one out onto the street behind Dusty. The man was a machine, and was clearly disturbing the peace. There was only one thing to do.

    The thrill of combat was invigorating. Dodging blows, following up with an array of quick punches when the opponent left an opening, only for the foe to dodge many of them- it was the thrill that combat in the open plains had lost long ago. In the end, in a moment of triumph, he expended the focus he was unknowingly holding the whole battle to cause his fists to light up a second time in battle- both to his surprise and his opponents. In a quick finish, he knocked the man unconscious- in a way, it was a shame. He enjoyed the fight, more than any Hunt he had performed in a long, long time. A man walked up behind him and touched him on the shoulder. "Well now," said the sheriff, "That's some fine fight you got there, Dustie. How abouts we get this man in jail, and then we can talk about the bounty."

    After the conversation, it all became clear. Dustie had seen the light, and held his destiny in his hands. Not only could he easily feed his entire tribe with the wealth that the bounty brought, there were dozens of men like the one he fought tonight out there, all his match or better. Dustie left his old life behind. He was born anew, casting off his Thri-Kreen name, and living the life of the bounty hunter. He was only known by the name the Sheriff gave him that night in the bar to those outside of his clutch. And soon, legends of a nameless Bounty Hunter, known to the few who knew of him as Dustie, came to be born.

    Spoiler
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    Dustie finally qualified for his first level of Justiciar, which has brought quite a lot more material to the table to play with. First and foremost amongst the new tricks to play with are Assassin's Stance and Nonlethal Strike. These are reliable boosts to the damage of each of Dustie's attacks- 3d6 per attack for 7 attacks is no small amount of damage tacked on. However, as it is conditional damage, the ways that Dustie has to add it on should be noted.

    First, he still has a huge hide bonus- between the Kruthic Claws and the Chameleon power, Dustie can probably start most encounters unseen, and can fire off a rapid assault in the first round of combat by closing into range with Sudden Leap. One possible tactic is to delay your initiative on the Surprise round to about 100 or so in the following round- as RAW says that you can "Act Normally" in the round, you get your full attack against any opponent that didn't act in the surprise round- given your hide check, that would be most of them.

    Secondly, he has the Maneuvers Cloak of Deception and Distracting Ember to ensure Sneak Attack/Nonlethal Strike damage in at least two rounds of combat against any creature Sneak Attack and Nonlethal Strike can be applied to. These do require Swift actions, and so can't be used in the first round of combat with Sudden Leap; however, on just about any other round of combat, this tactic works.

    Finally, against opponents already flanked or who aren't vulnerable to Sneak Attack damage, Burning Blade still provides a considerable damage boost in combat- the damage has been upped to 1d6+5 damage per attack, which is, on average, two point of damage less per attack than the 3d6 points of Nonlethal Strike + Sneak Attack damage.

    The last point of interest here is the 11th level feat- Psychic Renewal. At first glance, this looks like an odd choice- Thri-Kreen qualify by virtue of their racial power point, but it seems to be a worse version of Sudden Recovery, a relatively subpar feat. However, it is, in reality, Dustie's Maneuver Recovery method. At this level, Dustie can easily afford a Rainbow Ioun Stone; this provides him with an extra 5 power points per day. However, given that Dustie doesn't have maneuvers that go above second level, and in fact relies on mostly first level maneuvers, means that he can recover one maneuver each encounter as a Swift action- a great improvement over the Swordsage's maneuver recovery method. This can give Dustie another round of Sneak Attack, give him another round of bonus damage against opponents immune to Sneak Attack, or the ability to close distance rapidly in the event of a chase.



    Levels 15+:
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    Now, it was at this time that Dustie became the Bounty Hunter of legend that you know and love- I won't bother you with the tale of the time he wrestled Alligator Steve to the floor with his bare hands, and manacling those tiny arms behind his back, or about the time he broke every single bone in Granite McGee's body before that man fell to the floor; you already know those tales. He is a legend, a great hero of the west- and only a few years ago, he disappeared, leaving naught but the memory of him. He will never be forgotten, the Thri-Kreen with no name. He was born at the birth for the battle for the west- and died after it was tamed.

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    Fifteenth level is the last keystone of Dustie's build, where the last missing piece of Dustie's techniques come into place. Over the last 4 levels, Dustie gained the Improved Grapple feat, the Crushing Weight of Mountains stance, and finally, the ability Hog-Tie. All of these combine beautifully together, with the right synergies.

    The first synergy between the grapple abilities gained at these levels and the rest of the build is Dustie's Girallion arms soulmeld. Dustie had been more or less ignoring the base bonus of binding it for most of his career- but now, that bonus comes back with a vengeance. When Dustie invests all of his essentia in the Soulmeld, he gains a +10 Competence bonus on Grapple checks, which is a huge advantage over most of his humanoid foes, and it helps bridge the gap in grapple checks between Dustie and larger foes.

    The second main synergy is that making a grapple check takes an attack action- something that Dustie has plenty of per attack sequence. Each round, Dustie can make 7 attempts to draw his Masterwork Manacles and/or attempt to pin his opponent- and on each successful grapple check, the subject takes 2d6+1.5x Dustie's Strength modifier damage. Additionally, the multiattack feat proves to be a great boon here. Normally, when a character continues to use attack actions in a grapple, their bonus on the grapple check gets lower and lower. However, because of the multiattack feat, Dustie's grapple checks after the first suffer a straight -2 penalty across the board, giving him a huge edge when it comes to winning a grapple.

    The last synergy with grappling comes with another one of the Justiciar's class features- Crippling Blow. Normally, this causes relatively small penalties over the course of a combat. However, with Dustie's 7 attacks per round (9 attacks once per encounter, with Dancing Mongoose), all of which having a great chance of hitting, the stat damage quickly adds up against unprepared characters. The stat damage can cause some large penalties in a grapple after the 2 or 3 rounds of Nonlethal strike that Dustie can usually get off each combat, potentially dealing way over 10 points of Strength damage in that time frame (21 in optimal conditions), giving -5 or far worse penalties to his opponents' grapple checks- allowing him to easily dominate the grapple.

    The stat damage also has another use- against sneaky or roguelike characters, who could easily escape a pin or get out of manacles, stat damage is a good way to pin them down to be brought to justice- after they suffer damage to strength, the gear they carry can easily add up to become a Medium or Heavy load- which imposes a rather low Maximum Dex Bonus on their armor class. From this state, combat becomes significantly easier.




    Adaptations
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    If your DM will allow you, one of the first things you should do with Dustie is to take the LA Buyoff option from Unearthed Arcana and the SRD. This allows Dustie to take more class levels rather than be bogged down the LA that would otherwise just fluff up his level without giving him that much benefit. If you do use this option, consider giving Dustie either two additional levels of Swordsage or two additional levels of Totemist- Swordsage is a good choice at later levels, as a high initiator level means that higher level maneuvers are granted, which is generally good news for Dustie. Some maneuvers, such as Pouncing Charge and Dancing Mongoose (taken in this build) are perfect for Dustie; however, take care to try to select Boosts and Counter for him to use. He wants to be full attacking each round, and Strikes generally do not allow for this. Alternatively, two more Totemist levels give Dustie the ability to bind a second Chakra, and give access to the Hands, Feet, and Crown Chakras.

    If you are able to take more Swordsage levels, I recommend changing the build a bit. If you take a level of Swordsage right after you gain the Hog-Tie ability, rather than after finishing Justiciar, you can free up the feat slot that is currently holding the Martial Study(Dancing Mongoose) for a another feat. Some options are Hidden Talent, if that is allowed, to grand Dustie some basic Manifesting ability to compliment his psi-like abilities and give more uses for his Psychic Renewal feat. If this is disallowed by your DM, taking Power Attack at this level and investing ranks into Jump rather than Survival allows you to take Leap Attack at level 18, which can drastically increase your damage in conjunction with the Pouncing Charge Swordsage Maneuver.


    Recommended Equipment:
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    Dustie isn't very reliant on much equipment, needing Light armor at best, no enchanted weapons, and so has a lot of flexibility in what he buys. However, a few suggestions for him are:

    Ring of Counterspelling- A weakness of this build is Dispel Magic effects, which unshape soulmelds. Protecting against such attacks are a good idea.
    Rainbow Ioun Stone- This is necessary to properly use the Psychic Renewal feat. Take it at 11th level, and no later.
    An Amulet of Mighty Fists grants bonuses to each of Dustie's many natural attacks at a relatively low investment. If you can combine this with an Amulet of Health as per the rules in the Magic Item Compendium, the added Constitution helps shore up your weak Fortitude save and increase your hit points.
    Grappling Tentacle- clocking in at 20,000gp, this graft grants a +5 Untyped bonus to grapple checks to complement the bonuses granted from Girallion Arms.
    Belt of Giant Strength- Strength is an important stat for melee characters, and items that boost Strength are important.
    Cloak of Resistance- While Dustie's base Reflex and Will saves are high, he doesn't have much else in the way of bonuses there, and his Fortitude save is low- which could spell his end without something to boost it.


    Sources: SRD, Expanded Psionics Handbook, Tome of Battle, Magic of Incarnum, Fiend Folio (for the Grappling Tentacle).
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV.

    Who made my awesome Dwarf Hexblade avatar, you ask? BRC did!
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  2. - Top - End - #152
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Amphetryon's Avatar

    Join Date
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    What do you call him? 'I can't say.'

    Quote Originally Posted by Unspeakable
    Familiar Legends
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    There is a reason that many Conjurers prefer the company of a hummingbird, snake, or raven as their familiar. Some options are ruled out by time. Availability. And among those familiar with lore outside the arcane texts of the ivory wizarding towers, the answer is history, and a vague sense of foreboding that comes with it. Shortly after the inception of catweres, created by Transmuters, there began a heated conflict coming from the Conjurer house of the time and place. Ultimately, the Transmuter house was destroyed, slaying wizards and catweres. Bonds were separated, and threads of arcana should never be left unfinished, as any introductory Evoker can attest to.

    There may be truth to the rumors of a graveyard-like dungeon deep within layers of the earth. It is hard to verify, however. After the first few monsters are slain by lucky adventuring parties, they always encounter one that they are particularly ill-equipped to handle. One that knows how to defeat them.

    There may be hidden reasons as to the curious fact of the city's mage's guild: there are no Conjurers.

    Legends are connected intricately. What if I were to say that these are connected, to a fourth? What if it is all connected to the most innocuous thing: the rumor of a stray cat in the area?

    Allow me to explain. Not too long ago, the Tibbit race had entirely developed in several generations before jealously reached its peak. Transmuters and Conjurers had always been the most powerful of wizards, and the jealous ancient guild of Conjurers did not want to lose their...superiority, in a word. Capable of doing anything, they set their sights on destroying the Transmuter's guild. Many orbs were launched and many fiends were summoned. Generations of cast, tibbits, their intermediaries, and Transmuters were killed, as per the lore.

    The connection between a familiar and its master cannot be understated, though a dour wizard does not often mention it. It is for this reason that, in the midst of the conflagrations, a tibbit-familiar chose not to die after a fiendish bear followed up the slaughter of its master by finishing the tibbit itself.

    Time passed. The Transmuters' guild was all but wiped from history. The fall of the Conjurers' guild, decades later, came as quite a surprise.

    The Tibbit, whose epithets I will shorten to the recent one of Unspeakable, became a specter of sorts. At first, it desired revenge for the death of its master, but this is not an easy task to perform for a morphing housecat. Understandably, it took those decades to sabotage an entire conjurer's guild. Perhaps the wizards should have spent a little more time with their divinations, but that kind of musing is purely academic. My theory is that the specter's telekinesis ability allowed it to interrupt a delicate teleportation ritual, but the speculation is purely academic.

    Whatever the case, Unspeakable should have lost its tie to the world then and there. But Conjurers are all over the world, and the specter took it upon itself to search out and kill more of them, out of a mistaken sense of justice. Perhaps it wanted to make sure that they hadn't simply teleported to safety.

    Unspeakable has made travels from Bluepoint to Azt, and every city in between, searching for Conjurers to bring to justice. It's not easy for a cat to do so, however, which is where the graveyard legend comes in. You see, Unspeakable is fundamentally a cat. Even cantrips are enough to kill a cat. They're not enough to kill, say, a leopard. And, as a specter, Unspeakable has the ability to take over a creature's mind.

    If you could do so, wouldn't you want to choose the best body you could find?


    Sixteentoes "Unspeakable" Componentgaurder

    Lawful Evil Old Tibbit Ghost (Partial Savage Progression) LA+4/Ranger 6/Justiciar 10

    Introduction
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    Why Ghost?

    The justiciar is pretty good at making things unconscious, but it attempts to do several things at once: to simultaneously be the party watchman, face, grapplemonkey and skillmonkey is a tall order. There aren't a lot of ways to do it all competently.

    However, it's possible to be a melee beast without having any positive physical ability score besides CON. Druids do it all the time. However, monsters scale Better Than You in terms of grapple checks, and they sometimes have tons of attacks, too.

    The answer to all of these role issues? The Ghost template. Suddenly, the justiciar is good at whatever it wants, through possession.

    Why Old?

    When possessing things, a ghost's physical stats are independent of its mental ones. Age categories are an efficient way of trading useless physical stats for mental stats. Venerable is not chosen because +3 doesn't do more than +2 and because Dexterity is nice to have.

    Why Tibbit?

    For stealth, nothing compares with the Whisper Gnome. Usually. But consider this: since ghosts are soundless, only Hide needs to be optimized here. A Whisper Gnome effectively gets +9 Hide (+2 Dex, racial bonus, small). A Tibbit, in cat form, has +10 (+4 Dex, Tiny). Then consider that charisma penalties are a Bad Thing for ghosts, and that the cat would have +3 AC (Dex, size, Cha), is eligible for Multiattack, and has some exclusive and hilarious options open to it. Tibbit > Whisper Gnome.

    {table=head]Ability score|PB|Adjustment|Result
    STR|8|-5|3
    DEX|14|-1|13
    CON|8|--|--
    INT|16|2|18
    WIS|16|2|18
    CHA|14|2|16[/table]
    (The four level-up increases go into Charisma. After the levels of Ghost, Charisma is 20.)

    Ask about how age modifiers are applied in the case of Ghost. Here, it is assumed that Ghost was applied on a Old creature, instead of a Ghost aging to Old.


    The Build
    Spoiler
    Show
    Note: Unspeakable is presented with LA+4, even though the Ghost template is LA+5. This depends on taking only four levels of the savage progression. It is also possible to do this by Reducing Level Adjustment of the entire template, at level 15, but the XP drain is enormous, and not worth the +2 ghost skills.

    Unspeakable
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Ranger 1|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |Gather Information 4, Use Rope 4, Survival 4, Search 4, Spot 4, Listen 4, Hide 4, Handle Humanoid 2, Concentration 4, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 1|TrackB, Toughness|Favored Enemy (Arcanist), Wild Empathy

    2nd|Ghost (Level Adjustment)|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |Gather Information 4, Use Rope 4, Survival 4, Search 4, Spot 4, Listen 4, Hide 4, Handle Humanoid 2, Concentration 4, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 1||Ethereal, fly, ghostly equipment, ghost skills +2, manifestation, undeath

    3rd|Ghost (Level Adjustment)|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |Gather Information 4, Use Rope 4, Survival 4, Search 4, Spot 4, Listen 4, Hide 4, Handle Humanoid 2, Concentration 4, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 1||Cha +2, lesser ghost powers (Telekinesis), turn resistance +2

    4th|Ghost (Level Adjustment)|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |Gather Information 4, Use Rope 4, Survival 4, Search 4, Spot 4, Listen 4, Hide 4, Handle Humanoid 2, Concentration 4, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 1||Ghost skills +4, rejuvenation

    5th|Ghost (Level Adjustment)|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |Gather Information 4, Use Rope 4, Survival 4, Search 4, Spot 4, Listen 4, Hide 4, Handle Humanoid 2, Concentration 4, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 1||Cha +2, greater ghost powers (Malevolence), ghost skills +6, turn resistance +4

    6th|Ranger 2 (Fangshield Substitution Level)|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +0
    |Gather Information 5, Use Rope 5, Survival 5, Search 5, Spot 5, Listen 5, Hide 5, Handle Humanoid 2.5, Concentration 5, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 1.5|MultiattackB|Combat Style

    7th|Ranger 3|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +1
    |Gather Information 6, Use Rope 6, Survival 6, Search 6, Spot 6, Listen 6, Hide 6, Handle Humanoid 3, Concentration 6, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 2|Ghostly Grasp|Endurance

    8th|Ranger 4|
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +1
    |Gather Information 7, Use Rope 7, Survival 7, Search 7, Spot 7, Listen 7, Hide 7, Handle Humanoid 3.5, Concentration 7, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 2.5||Urban Companion ACF, Blind-FightB (Champion of the Wild ACF)

    9th|Ranger 5|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +1
    |Gather Information 8, Use Rope 8, Survival 8, Search 8, Spot 8, Listen 8, Hide 8, Handle Humanoid 4, Concentration 8, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 3||Favored Enemy (Evil Outsider)

    10th|Master of the Unseen Hand 1|
    +6/+1
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +3
    |Gather Information 8, Use Rope 8, Survival 8, Search 8, Spot 9, Listen 9, Hide 9, Handle Humanoid 4.5, Concentration 8, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 3|Skill Focus (Gather Information)|Improved Caster Level, Verastile Telekineses

    11th|Justiciar 1|
    +7/+2
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +5
    |Gather Information 9, Use Rope 9, Survival 9, Search 10, Spot 10, Listen 10, Hide 10, Handle Humanoid 5, Concentration 8, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 3||Bring 'em back alive, Nonlethal strike +1d6

    12th|Justiciar 2|
    +8/+3
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +6
    |Gather Information 10, Use Rope 11, Survival 10, Search 11, Spot 11, Listen 11, Hide 11, Handle Humanoid 5.5, Concentration 8, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 3||Improved Grapple, crippling strike

    13th|Justiciar 3|
    +9/+4
    |
    +5
    |
    +5
    |
    +6
    |Gather Information 12, Use Rope 12, Survival 11, Search 12, Spot 12, Listen 12, Hide 12, Handle Humanoid 6, Concentration 8, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 3|Weight Focus|Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Manacles), street savvy +2

    14th|Justiciar 4|
    +10/+5
    |
    +5
    |
    +5
    |
    +7
    |Gather Information 13, Use Rope 13, Survival 13, Search 13, Spot 13, Listen 13, Hide 13, Handle Humanoid 6.5, Concentration 8, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 3||Nonlethal Strike +2d6

    15th|Justiciar 5|
    +11/+6/+1
    |
    +5
    |
    +5
    |
    +7
    |Gather Information 14, Use Rope 14, Survival 14, Search 14, Spot 14, Listen 14, Hide 14, Handle Humanoid 7, Concentration 8, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 3||Hog-tie

    16th|Justiciar 6|
    +12/+7/+2
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |
    +8
    |Gather Information 15, Use Rope 15, Survival 15, Search 15, Spot 15, Listen 15, Hide 15, Handle Humanoid 7.5, Concentration 8, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 3|Darkstalker|Street savvy +4

    17th|Justiciar 7|
    +13/+8/+3
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |
    +8
    |Gather Information 16, Use Rope 16, Survival 16, Search 16, Spot 16, Listen 16, Hide 16, Handle Humanoid 8, Concentration 8, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 3||Nonlethal strike +3d6

    18th|Justiciar 8|
    +14/+9/+4
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |Gather Information 17, Use Rope 17, Survival 17, Search 17, Spot 17, Listen 17, Hide 17, Handle Humanoid 8.5, Concentration 8, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 3||Improved hog-tie

    19th|Justiciar 9|
    +15/+10/+5
    |
    +7
    |
    +7
    |
    +9
    |Gather Information 18, Use Rope 18, Survival 18, Search 18, Spot 18, Listen 18, Hide 18, Handle Humanoid 9, Concentration 8, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 3|Defensive Sweep|Street savvy +6

    20th|Justiciar 10|
    +16/+11/+6/+1
    |
    +7
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    |Gather Information 19, Use Rope 19, Survival 19, Search 19, Spot 19, Listen 19, Hide 19, Handle Humanoid 9.5, Concentration 8, Knowledge (Arcana) 1, Knowledge (History) 3||Intuition, nonlethal strike +4d6[/table]


    Early Strategy (ECL 5)
    Spoiler
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    Unspeakable's most important ability is Malevolence, but until she gets that, she functions as the party's scouter. It's a bit like being a Totemist: one must spend a small amount of time being unable to murder everything before that option becomes open. At merely ECL 2, she has a +16 Hide modifier and is soundless due to how incorporeal creatures work. Scouting abilities have +10 to Listen and Search, and +12 to Spot. The latter numbers are achieved with Ghost Skills and a tibbit racial bonus. Attacking as a housecat is a terrible idea, but if you really need to knock off the remaining 3 HP off a monster, I guess you could do that. She is also a bit of a party face, but you will have to ask the DM how to unironically use the "push" function of Handle Humanoid.

    Murder becomes available at ECL 3. Pester one of the people with hands to carry a bag of daggers, then Telekinesis twelve of the pointy things into whatever doesn't have enough pointy things in it. She can also pin things down with +17 telegrapple.

    At ECL 5, Malevolence opens up, and suddenly Unspeakable can melee it up by taking over an enemy. Malevolence basically a save-or-die in this way, though I actually recommend fighting as an enemy 'acquired' in a past battle; remember that you only have 15 HP and die at 0. This is why you took Toughness. This build isn't exactly feat-tight. Anyway, go indenture a hireling and possess him, so that Unspeakable can speak. Unspeakable never has an excuse to come out of cat form anymore.

    Despite Level Adjustment being a pain that leaves her with only 15 HP, Unspeakable is semi-indestructible at low levels because of flight and the incorporeality rules. Physical attacks won't work unless they're magical, and then they have to get through 50% miss chance and some cat AC. If she actually loses some of those HP, de-manifest and flee the scene.


    Ranger strategy (ECL 10)
    Spoiler
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    Favored Enemies (Arcanist and Evil Outsider) because fluff and duh. Ranger is a reeeeeally obvious entry for a justiciar; you know why it's there if you spent more than 10 minutes trying to build one, so I'll just talk about the interesting parts.

    Skilled City Dweller skill-substition puts Gather Information instead of Handle Animal on the Ranger class skill list. The Fangshield substitution level trades combat styles for Multiattack, which will be necessary as powerful many-attacks monsters such as dire bears and dragons become prominent. Urban Companion is more useful than Animal Companion in a variety of ways; if nothing else, an owl is a second scouter and a free Alertness. It will have more uses later. Champion of the Wild's extra feat is a good pick, since Unspeakable won't get much use out of a single level 1 spell per day.

    ECL 10 slows down skill progression, but dipping Master of the Unseen Hand grants a bump to telekinesis. It combos with...


    Snapshot of numbers (ECL 13)
    Spoiler
    Show
    Telegrapple check: +27 = +13 (CL) +6 (Cha) +8 (Improved Grapple/Weight Focus)
    Monstergrapple check: +9 (BAB) +Str +Size
    Hide Check (cat form): +28 = +12 (ranks) +6 (ghost skills) +8 (size) +2 (dex)
    Spot: +26 = +12 (ranks) +6 (ghost skills) +4 (Wis) +2 (tibbit racial) +2 (Alertness)
    Listen: +24 = +12 (ranks) +6 (ghost skills) +4 (Wis) +2 (Alertness)
    Raven Spot and Listen: +16 = +12 (ranks) +2 (Wis) +2 (Alertness)
    Search: +24 = +12 (ranks) +6 (ghost skills) +4 (Int) +2 (Raven assisting)
    Handle Humanoid: +12 [+15] = +6 (ranks) +6 (Cha) [=3 (Circlet of Persuasion)

    That final number is enough to take 10 for minor puppeting of NPCs.


    Justiciar strategy (ECL 15)
    Spoiler
    Show
    ...the ability to deal nonlethal damage.

    Pinned enemies are prone, and denied their Dexterity bonus. By switching the function of Telekinesis on the turn after an enemy is pinned, you can do a violent violent thrust while they're still denied that bonus. By selecting any baker's dozen of melee weapons, this can deal up to +13d6 nonlethal damage, on top of the base. With greatswords, that's 13 attacks for 3d6 each.

    Ow. After the opponent is KO'd, they're considered 'willing', forfeiting their save against things like Malevolence. Unspeakable can't go and get them immediately, obviously, unless there's a healer in the group willing to cooperate. After the battle, though, the enemy can be chained to her monster cart. To do this, Malevolence into the monster with the highest Dex and available, provided they have manipulation appendages--this could easily be a party member--and take 20 on Use Rope, probably using adamanite manacles, and assisted by your Urban Companion. Ravens have talons. Even when having to resort to humanoid gohst form (why is Unspeakable not always a cat, again?), this is a DC 32 Escape Artist Check.

    The crux of the build is that, after monsters are collected and they heal in their shackles, Unspeakable can possess them. Allow the party to untie Monster-Unspeakable, then go out and kill things. Recall that Malevolence works like Magic Jar, so (Ex), (Su), and (Sp) abilities won't work, but automatic and natural ones do. Interesting forms are war trolls, dragons, or generally anything with high stength and a bunch of attacks*. These forms scale by level almost tautologically, simply due to how the CR system is built. Unspeakable can afford to lose them, too, because that big brick of HP isn't really hers.

    Crippling strike is optimized with the same pin-thrust tactic above, or if it's not working, thrust first, count up the Strength damage, then try again. Improved Grapple is making it work more often, though, and puts Unspeakable in the handy position that, if she wants to wade into melee in the form of a collected monster, Grapple Modifier = (highest one so far encountered) + 4. This is kicked up another notch the next level with Weight Focus, which increases effective size category for the purposes of grappling. Excellent. So that's Grapple Modifier = (highest one so far encountered) + 8.

    Street savvy points Unspeakable to nicer monsters to collect. If it's tenacious enough that a PC has to do the cleanup job, it must be something really nice, huh? The check is maximized via possessing a wandering half-elf, letting the raven Aid Another the check (like familiar = it can speak), and using that high Charisma score.

    Hog-tie will be used basically as intended, with an extra option: with the same pinning tactic, Unspeakable can idly fish out her adamantine manacles as a move action (strapped to belt or in Haversack), stroll over to the enemy that can't do anything, then tie them up while dropping concentration. Do remember to use the raven to help. This can be more useful than the telekinesis trick, as it bascially tells a monster that it has to Escape Artist or lose its turn. Save-or-lose is better than damage, as the optimization wisdom goes.

    *Though the text on Magic Jar says you can't get more attacks than you're otherwise capable of, it's clearly meant only to prevent Multiweapon Fighting, and if you use the RAW of it, Unspeakable's cat form can technically get up to 6 attacks at this level by TWFing with unarmed strikes and adding natural weapons as secondaries. Dragon full attacks should be legal no matter the ruling.


    Advanced Justiciar strategy (ECL 20)
    Spoiler
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    Gloves of Man (from Savage Species) are now affordable, so tying up monsters can be done even as another monster, if that's your thing. The build isn't particularly item-dependent besides the obvious everyone-has-it equipment--just depend on class features and useful monsters. I'll mention that the pale blue rhomboid Ioun Stone will be particularly useful, since it doesn't care about the size of the monster it orbits, and Unspeakable should have had a Circlet of Persuasion by level 13.

    To properly use Improved Hog-tie, get within smacking range of the target and tele-grapple them. Note that caster level (and thus bonus) will increase by one for the last four levels of the build, because of telekinesis's scaling. The target is now basically out of the combat.

    If they try to break out, they may suceed. Then they can either 5-foot step, a move action, or not move. If they take a move action, they invoke an attack grapple of opportunity. If they take a five foot step, they've basically done nothing with their turn, and Unspeakable can retry the grapple on her turn. If they don't move, Defensive Sweep means they get a grapple of opportunity. If they fail to break out, they can't do anything with their move action that turn. Devensive Sweep kicks in, and since they're already grappled, the attack action is spent hog-tying them.

    If they try to move while grappling, they invoke an attack of opportunity. Since they're grappling, attack action is spent hogtying.

    If they try to teleport out, that's a spell-like ability, except in the case of archons or something. Hogtie of opportunity.

    If they try to take any in-grapple action, they can't move that round. No movement. Defensive Sweep. Hogtie of opportunity.

    Summary of reactions to sucessful telegrapple check:
    (Sucessful Escape, 5-foot step): End turn ungrappled, but set up for the same routine.
    (Sucessful Escape, move): Recieve physical grapple check before end of turn.
    - If opposed check fails, hogtied on Unspeakable's turn. If opposed check suceeds, see (Sucessful Escape, 5-foot step), where Unspeakble moves on her turn.
    (Sucessful Escape, don't move): Recieve physical grapple check before end of turn.
    - If opposed check fails, hogtied on Unspeakable's turn. If opposed check suceeds, see (Sucessful Escape, 5-foot step).
    (Anything but an escape roll): Hogtied

    Defensive Sweep will serve Unspeakable well, even when she's doing normal physical grapples. If the monster's opposed check fails, hogtie of opportunity. It's all action-efficient.

    As a captone, you get Intution, an upgrade of sorts to the cat form's Scent. Hey, remember that spiffy monster that got away a couple levels ago?

    Go find it.


    No-jokes compliance
    Spoiler
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    If the Fabulous Cats! content isn't allowed--which is more than reasonable--substitute Handle Humanoid with Bluff and Weight Focus with Improved Multiattack.


    Sources outside Core
    Spoiler
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    Tibbits: Dragon Compendium
    Skilled City Dweller, Urban Companion ACFs: Cityscape
    Champion of the Wild ACF: Complete Champion
    Fangshield Substitution levels: Champions of Valor
    Master of the Unseen Hand, Justicar: Complete Warrior
    Defensive Sweep: Player's Handbook II
    Weight Focus, Handle Humanoid: Fabulous Cats!
    Darkstalker: Lords of Madness
    Ghostly Grasp: Libris Mortis
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV.

    Who made my awesome Dwarf Hexblade avatar, you ask? BRC did!
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  3. - Top - End - #153
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Amphetryon's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Does he cast Fist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaroff
    Zaroff

    The Build
    Spoiler
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    LN --> LE Human (This alignment shift has no impact on the mechanics of the build, and occurs for non-mechanical reasons)

    Strength 16
    Dexterity 14
    Constitution 16
    Intelligence 12
    Wisdom 10
    Charisma 8

    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Ranger 1|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    | Gather Information +4, Jump +4, Knowledge [Nature] +4, Listen +4, Move Silently +4, Search +4, Survival +4, Use Rope +4| Great Fortitude, Lion Tribe Warrior, Track | Favored Enemy [Humanoid: Human], Skilled City Dweller [Handle Animal for Gather Information], Spiritual Connection

    2nd|Overwhelming Attack Monk 1|
    +1
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +2
    | Knowledge [Religion] +3 Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Sense Motive +1| Power Attack| AC Bonus, Bonus Feat, Flurry of Blows -2/-2, Intimidate Bonus, Unarmed Strike

    3rd|Overwhelming Attack Monk 2|
    +2
    |
    +5
    |
    +5
    |
    +3
    | Knowledge [Religion] +3 Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Sense Motive +1| Flying Kick, Improved Bull Rush | Bonus Feat, Invisible Fist

    4th|Ranger 2|
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |
    +3
    | Gather Information +3, Knowledge [Nature] +1, Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Search +1, Survival +1| Two-Weapon Fighting | Combat Style [Two Weapon Fighting]

    5th|Ranger 3|
    +4
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |
    +4
    | Gather Information +1, Knowledge [Nature] +1, Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Survival +1, Use Rope +3| Endurance | Bonus Feat

    6th|Ranger 4|
    +5
    |
    +7
    |
    +7
    |
    +4
    | Gather Information +1, Knowledge [Nature] +1, Listen +1, Move Silently +3, Use Rope +2| Skill Focus [Gather Information]| Spells, Spiritual Guide

    7th|Fighter 1|
    +6/+1
    |
    +9
    |
    +7
    |
    +4
    | Handle Animal +4| Shock Trooper | Bonus Feat

    8th|Fist of the Forest 1|
    +7/+2
    |
    +11
    |
    +9
    |
    +4
    | Move Silently +2, Survival +2| | AC Bonus, Fast Movement, Feral Trance 1/day, Primal Living, Unarmed Strike Damage Boost

    9th|Fist of the Forest 2|
    +8/+3
    |
    +12
    |
    +10
    |
    +4
    | Handle Animal +1, Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Survival +1|Snap Kick| Uncanny Dodge, Untamed Strike

    10th|Fist of the Forest 3|
    +9/+4
    |
    +12
    |
    +10
    |
    +5
    | Listen +2, Move Silently +1, Survival +1| | Feral Trance 2/day, Scent, Unarmed Strike Damage Boost

    11th|Justiciar 1|
    +10/+5
    |
    +12
    |
    +10
    |
    +7
    | Knowledge [Nature] + 2, Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Use Rope +2| | Bring ‘em Back Alive, Nonlethal Strike +1d6

    12th|Justiciar 2|
    +11/+6/+1
    |
    +12
    |
    +10
    |
    +8
    | Knowledge [Nature] + 1, Knowledge [Religion] +2, Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Use Rope +1| Improved Grapple, Improved Natural Attack [Unarmed Strike]| Bonus Feat, Crippling Strike

    13th|Justiciar 3|
    +12/+7/+2
    |
    +13
    |
    +11
    |
    +8
    | Knowledge [Religion] +2, Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Use Rope +2| | Exotic Weapon Proficiency [Manacles], Street Savvy +2

    14th|Justiciar 4|
    +13/+8/+3
    |
    +13
    |
    +11
    |
    +9
    | Knowledge [Religion] +2, Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Use Rope +2| | Nonlethal Strike +2d6

    15th|Justiciar 5|
    +14/+9/+4
    |
    +13
    |
    +11
    |
    +9
    | Knowledge [Religion] +2, Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Use Rope +2|Scorpion’s Grasp| Hog-Tie

    16th|Justiciar 6|
    +15/+10/+5
    |
    +14
    |
    +12
    |
    +10
    | Knowledge [Religion] +2, Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Use Rope +2| |Street Savvy +4

    17th|Justiciar 7|
    +16/+11/+6/+1
    |
    +14
    |
    +12
    |
    +10
    | Knowledge [Religion] +3, Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Use Rope +1| |Nonlethal Strike +3d6

    18th|Justiciar 8|
    +17/+12/+7/+2
    |
    +14
    |
    +12
    |
    +11
    | Knowledge [Religion] +2, Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Survival +1, Use Rope +1|Skill Focus [Knowledge: Religion]| Improved Hot-Tie

    19th|Justiciar 9|
    +18/+13/+8/+3
    |
    +15
    |
    +13
    |
    +11
    |S Knowledge [Religion] +1, Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Survival +2, Use Rope +1| |Street Savvy +6

    20th|Justiciar 10|
    +19/+14/+9/+4
    |
    +15
    |
    +13
    |
    +12
    | Knowledge [Religion] +1, Listen +1, Move Silently +1, Survival +2, Use Rope +1| | Intuition, Nonlethal Strike 4d6 [/table]


    Log
    Spoiler
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    Journal of Leorry Milner
    9th of Alturiak
    Spoiler
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    He’s a dead man. The bloodbath in Seamouth was the final straw - the bounty on him is enough for anyone to retire on. Every bounty hunter and mercenary worthy of the name is after him, not to mention the Guard…and no one seems to know anything about him other than “he’s dangerous”. I’m not going to rush into this; I want to know exactly what he’s capable of, know where he might have hidden himself. Problem is, the only people who know anything about him are the Guardians of the Green, and they’re not saying much. Some of the nutjobs still think he’s got the right idea, and the rest are more scared of him than they are of us. One of them gave me the name of the village that found him as a kid. I’m going to start there, see if I can retrace his steps, figure him out.


    16th of Alturiak
    Spoiler
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    It wasn’t much to look at, just a sad collection of huts and a sadder collection of people in them. They were reluctant to talk to me at first, but I was able to get them to tell me what they know. Zaroff was found as a child wandering the plains by one of their hunters. After a time, they were able to pierce together an idea of what had happened to him. He had been a member of one of the nomadic tribes which roamed the plains, but something had happened to the rest of his tribe. Zaroff remembered fire and death, and little more than that. He couldn’t even say how long ago it had happened. The villagers took him in, and did their best to raise him. He was an intensely independent and focused lad, pushing himself far more than even the strictest instructor. In truth, none could claim his friendship - it seemed that his only passion was for the natural world. As comfortable outdoors as in, he spent much of his time with the hunters, though in truth he ranged further than even the boldest of them. In time, he learned of and sought out a group that shared his views - the Guardians of the Green.

    I need more to go on than this…I’ve tapped a few favors and have the location of where he first worked with them. Hopefully I’ll get some answers this time.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Levels 1-5
    With Pounce and Flying Kick, Zaroff possesses decent damage, though he’s a bit limited in combat at this point. Invisible Fist gives a powerful defensive and utility as an Immediate Action, and Improved Bull Rush enables a few more tactical options, but he’s best served by throwing out multiple attacks on a charge. With Track, Speak With Plants/Animals 3/day, and good Gather Information & Survival checks, he’ll be able to find and track a person with ease. He has a social skill with a positive check (Intimidate), which is better than nothing on that front. With regard to scouting, he’s very dependent on Invisible Fist, as he has no ranks in Hide (though he has maximum ranks in Move Silently & Listen). All in all, Zaroff can throw out good damage, find people/information in a city or wilderness, and efficiently stealth.


    13th of Ches
    Spoiler
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    Zaroff has still evaded capture, and a number of the other pursuers have gone missing. I hear nasty rumors about what he does to the people he captures…it’s not going to sway me, but I should consider all of my options. Should it prove necessary, I might need to get some backup for this one. Hate splitting profits, but I’ll take every advantage I can get for someone this dangerous. Bah, enough musing, I should put down what I found while the memory’s fresh.

    Built into the side of a mountain, the building - cave, really - looked like it had been abandoned for years. The size of it surprised me - it took me hours before a stroke of luck revealed a hidden passage to me. It lead into a room full of records, well preserved in the cool and dry space. Much of it was in a cipher, but I was able to translate enough of it for my purposes. What I found was enlightening, both with regard to my quarry and his organization.

    The Guardians of the Green is a militant group, with many different sects which differing in extremism. The group that Zaroff fell in with seems to have been one of the most antagonistic. They believed that the only way to protect their way of life would be violent revolution, with themselves as the new rulers of the nation. The sect refused to recognize a person as a full member unless they underwent an intense, dangerous trial. They forced initiates to survive with no food, clothing, or any tools for a month on the summit of the unforgiving mountain the coven was built into. Those who returned from their ordeal often adapt the lifestyle of an animal, and became easier to control. Zaroff survived his trial with not just body but also mind intact. His unique abilities were recognized, and he began transforming the cult’s vision into reality.There’s no specifics on what he did, but I got the name of his handler. If anyone has answers, they will.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Levels 6-10 (Alignment Change LN---> LE at level 10)
    Zaroff significantly improves both in combat and out of combat abilities. Scent and Commune with Nature are decent bonuses to his ability to locate and scout out areas, and the ability to Wand out Ranger Spells is a huge boost to every part of the character. With regard to damage, BAB and Snap Kick grant additional attacks, and Shock Trooper (while not as potent as it is on an Ubercharger) is another source of tactical options and damage. Fist of the Forest not only boosts Unarmed Damage, but grants an additional (natural) attack as icing on the cake. All in all, much of the utility benefits from this level range will come from Ranger Wands, but damage starts to take off, and a few new toys became accessible. Around this time, Zaroff should be between Warden of the Green and Knight of the Green, as there are repeatable ways to boost Affiliation Score he can perform (Exploring a new area and defeating foes destroying nature, respectively), netting him a handful of skill bonuses.



    26th Ches
    Spoiler
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    The hunt for Zaroff isn’t going well - actually, that’s a downright lie, it’s going horribly. He seems to take a perverse pleasure in hunting his pursuers. The Guard’s taken an interest in my “research” and has been helping me in the hope that I’ll find something, some weakness we can use against him. It’s not about the reward for him anymore; after learning about the things he’s done, and thinking about what he’s capable of, I believe that he needs to be stopped. I found his handler in prison; the Guard had him in custody, as he’d turned himself in a few years back. I was - eventually - able to persuade him to give me the information that I needed.

    Zaroff’s most visible role was as an enforcer. No one was allowed to leave, and he made the futility of escape very clear to the initiates. He’d mastered the ability to inflict pain without lethal damage, and should anyone attempt to leave, he’d beat them within an inch of their lives, leave them to “recover” only to string them up and do it again. And again. And again. It seems that this is when he picked up this particular love of his…..

    It was at this time he started to dabble with sacrifices. He’d had a basic religious education as a child, and now, with the time and drive he’d developed, he saw the potential in it. With his abilities providing an endless stream of warm bodies, he practiced and perfected his depraved craft, ostensibly in the name of protecting nature, but more likely for his own pleasure. What dark powers he fed were unknown, even to my informant.

    I was also able to confirm that he was responsible for dozens, if not hundreds, of missing people. Anyone that was seen as a threat to the group he removed. Some of them he brought back to be conditioned, some of them he took to act as collateral and force a decision that he wanted, some of them he took purely for ransom. The exact numbers of his victims may never be known - it’s clear that he took more people that he was required to. I doubt that any of his victims are alive today. He began to unnerve even those who’d planned to use him as a weapon - it’s unclear exactly when it occurred, but we know that it was during this time he took control of his group, and was recognized as a Regent of the Green by other sects. I don’t believe that the true measure of his depravity was known to others of the organization - they only saw how effective he was at stopping any from encroaching on his “protected” lands, and applauded his efforts in stopping the despoilment of nature.

    This was when the Guard started to take an earnest interest Zaroff. They eventually staged a raid on his compound, but were unable to capture or kill him. He’s not hiding, not really - he’s openly flaunted his notoriety. He seems to enjoy drawing attention to himself, and takes a personal pleasure in killing those he sees as challenges. But we need to stop him. Both the Guard and those few who will still stand against him are prepared, and informed. We stand the best chance of ending his threat, and will not ignore our duty.

    Leorry Milner's tortured body was found by a member of the Guard sent to check on their researcher. The diary was placed neatly on top of the hole where the heart had been removed.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Levels 11-20 (Highlight level: 15)
    Justiciar is used to open up additional tactical options. Nonlethal Strike, combined with Invisible Fist and a high number of attacks, helps keep damage competitive (an unconscious enemy is effectively dead regardless), and Crippling Strike gives another way to disable a target. He’s a reasonably good grappler, and has a maximum rank in Use Rope, letting him make full use of Hog-Tie. For out of combat utility, he gains Control Plants/Transport Via Plants as a Spell Like, can use Intuition to help cover situations Commune with Nature/Scent can’t, and can duplicate the effects of a number of powerful spells via Sacrifices. Divine Power is the low end, with Greater Planar Ally and Lesser Wish at the high end (and all the power such effects can entail). I picked 15th level as the “Sweet Spot” for the build, as this is the point when he has every major ability - he’s now capable of tracking very well, has a goodly bunch of utility spells and effects, has access to self-Teleportation, and still has a wide array of tactical options in combat. His damage is reasonably solid, and he has no problems subduing powerful opponents for the sake of sacrificing them later on.


    Sources Used
    Spoiler
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    Alternate Class Features
    - Invisible Fist Monk Alternate Class Feature (Exemplars of Evil p20)
    - Overwhelming Attack Variant Monk (SRD)
    - Skilled City-Dweller Fighter Skill Trade (Cityscape Online Web Enhancement)
    - Spiritual Guide Ranger Alternate Class Feature (Complete Champion p50)

    Feats
    - Endurance (SRD)
    - Flying Kick (Complete Warrior p99)
    - Great Fortitude (SRD)
    - Lion Tribe Warrior (Shining South p20)
    - Improved Bull Rush (SRD)
    - Improved Natural Attack (Eberron Campaign Setting p55)
    - Power Attack (SRD)
    - Scorpion’s Grasp (Sandstorm p52)
    - Shock Trooper (Complete Warrior p112)
    - Skill Focus (SRD)
    - Snap Kick (Tome of Battle p32)
    - Track (SRD)
    - Two-Weapon Fighting (SRD)

    Miscellaneous
    - Fist of the Forest Prestige Class (Complete Champion p80)
    - Guardians of the Green Organization (Complete Champion p68)
    - Sacrifice Rules (Book of Vile Darkness p26)
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV.

    Who made my awesome Dwarf Hexblade avatar, you ask? BRC did!
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  4. - Top - End - #154
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Amphetryon's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    I present Br'er Breagar Bearclaw. Say that 10 times fast.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheriff Breagar Bearclaw
    Sheriff Breagar Bearclaw

    Breagar, the half orc justiciar,
    once thought that his mark's tale was fishier
    Than a whore's alleged prayer,
    So he became bear,
    And grappled them 'til they were squishier.



    Male LN Half-Orc, Half-Orc Paragon 3 / Human Paragon 3 / Swordsage 2 / Crimson Scourge 1 / Justiciar 10 / Bear Warrior 1

    The Build:
    Spoiler
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    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Half Orc Paragon 1|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |Gather Information 2, Handle Animal 4, Intimidate 3, Search 2, Spot 0.5, Survival 4|Track|Divided ancestry, monstrous mien

    2nd|Human Paragon 1|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |Gather Information 5, Spot 2.5|N/A|Adaptive learning (Search)

    3rd|Human Paragon 2|
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |Gather Information 6, Handle Animal 5, Search 3, Spot 4.5|Urban Tracking, Skill Focus (Gather Information)|Bonus feat

    4th|Half Orc Paragon 2|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |Handle Animal 8, Survival 6|N/A|Rage 1/day

    5th|Swordsage 1|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +2
    |
    +5
    |Heal 1, Knowledge (local) 5, Spot 5|Weapon focus (Tiger Claw)|Quick to act +1, Discipline Focus (Weapon Focus)

    6th|Half Orc Paragon 3|
    +4
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |Search 6, Survival 8|Extra Rage|Ability boost (Str +2)

    7th|Human Paragon 3|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +7
    |Gather Information 8, Spot 6, Survival 10|N/A|Ability boost (Str +2)

    8th|Crimson Scourge 1|
    +6/+1
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |
    +7
    |Gather Information 10, Search 8, Spot 8, Survival 11|N/A|Kid Gloves, Special Dispensation

    9th|Justiciar 1|
    +7/+2
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |Gather Information 11, Search 10, Spot 10|Power Attack|Bring ’em back alive, nonlethal strike +1d6

    10th|Bear Warrior 1|
    +8/+3
    |
    +8
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |Search 13, Survival 13|N/A|Bear form (black)

    11th|Justiciar 2|
    +9/+5
    |
    +8
    |
    +6
    |
    +10
    |Gather Information 13, Spot 12, Survival 14|Improved Grapple (Bonus)|Crippling strike

    12th|Justiciar 3|
    +10/+5
    |
    +9
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    |Gather Information 14, Knowledge (Nature) 2, Search 14, Survival 15|Improved Unarmed Strike, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (manacles) (Bonus)|Street savvy +2

    13th|Justiciar 4|
    +11/+6/+1
    |
    +9
    |
    +7
    |
    +11
    |Gather Information 16, Knowledge (Nature) 4, Survival 16|N/A|Nonlethal strike +2d6

    14th|Justiciar 5|
    +12/+7/+2
    |
    +9
    |
    +7
    |
    +11
    |Gather Information 17, Knowledge (Nature) 5, Spot 14, Survival 17|N/A|Hog-tie

    15th|Justiciar 6|
    +13/+8/+3
    |
    +10
    |
    +8
    |
    +12
    |Gather Information 18, Spot 17, Survival 18|Scorpion's Grasp|Street savvy +4

    16th|Swordsage 2|
    +14/+9/+4
    |
    +10
    |
    +9
    |
    +13
    |Search 19, Clarity of Vision skill trick|N/A|AC Bonus

    17th|Justiciar 7|
    +15/+10/+5
    |
    +10
    |
    +9
    |
    +13
    |Gather Information 19, Search 20, Spot 18, Survival 20|N/A|Nonlethal strike +3d6

    18th|Justiciar 8|
    +16/+11/+6/+1
    |
    +10
    |
    +9
    |
    +14
    |Gather Information 21, Search 21, Spot 19, Survival 21|Superior Unarmed Strike|Improved hog-tie

    19th|Justiciar 9|
    +17/+12/+7/+2
    |
    +11
    |
    +10
    |
    +14
    |Gather Information 22, Search 22, Spot 21, Survival 22|N/A|Street savvy +6

    20th|Justiciar 10|
    +18/+13/+8/+3
    |
    +11
    |
    +10
    |
    +15
    |Gather Information 23, Search 23, Spot 23, Survival 23|N/A|Intuition, nonlethal strike +4d6[/table]


    Maneuvers and Stances:
    Spoiler
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    {table=head]Levels|Maneuvers Known|Maneuvers Readied|Stances Known
    5-15|6|4|1

    16+|7|4|2[/table]

    Maneuvers selected at Sword Sage 1:

    Counter Charge (Setting Sun, p71)
    Cloak of Deception (Shadow Hand 2, p76) - Greater Invis 1/encounter
    Shadow Jaunt (Shadow Hand 2, p79) - standard action teleport 1/encounter
    Charging Minotaur (Stone Dragon 1, p81)
    Rabid Wolf Strike (Tiger Claw 2, p88)
    Wolf Fang Strike (Tiger Claw 1, p90)

    Stance:

    Hunter's Sense (Tiger Claw 1, p88) - Scent


    Maneuvers selected at Sword Sage 2:

    Pouncing Charge (Tiger Claw 5, p88) - Pounce 1/encounter

    Stance:

    Crushing Weight of the Mountain (Stone Dragon 3, p82) - constrict


    Ability Scores:
    Spoiler
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    Base: Str 15, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 12
    Racial: Str 17, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 10
    Levels: Str 22, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 10

    Raging: Str 30, Dex 14, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 10

    Recommend Tome +4, Belt Giant Str + 6 for Strength 40


    Skill Modifiers:
    Spoiler
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    Gather Information: 23 + 2 (Knowledge synergy) + 3 (Skill Focus) = 28
    +6 While in pursuit of a criminal = 34

    Handle Animal: 8

    Heal: 1 + 1 (Wis) = 2

    Intimidate: 3 + 4 (Monstrous mien) = 7

    Knowledge Local: 5 + 1 (Int) = 6

    Knowledge Nature: 5 + 1 (Int) = 6

    Search: 23 + 1 (Int) = 24

    Spot: 23 + 1 (Wis) = 24

    Survival: 23 + 1 (Wis) = 24
    +2 to get along in the wild (knowledge synergy) = 26
    +2 to follow tracks (search synergy) = 26


    Build Notes/Adaptation:
    Spoiler
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    At level 5, Breagar acts like a typical tracker, except he can rage once a day (H/Orc Paragon is one of the few ways to get lawful rage or the equivalent. FotF didn't work in this build). He relies on his brute strength to get through combat. With his low dex he prefers heavier armor for survivability, and also because it does not affect his class abilities. Intimidate is one of the few combat tricks he can play at early levels. Early on having a pet is very useful in combat, and also to help him track by scent. At level 5 he gains scent for himself, enhancing his tracking capabilities. He also gains invisibility 1/encounter, as well as a teleport action to help flank, and some nifty strikes.

    (Unarmed swordsage is not well defined and was not considered for this build. If that variant gives IUS as a bonus feat, it could be considered, but actually hinders the RAW damage of superior unarmed strike, although it would free up a feat to play with. Picking up Swordsage at level 5 grants an initiator level of 3, allowing 2nd level maneuvers to be grabbed.)

    At level 10, Braegar earns the moniker Bearclaw. Having mastered bear shape while raging, he spends most of his time in combat grappling foes non-lethally with his claws and bite, before bringing them to justice. If necessary, of course, he will kill. He starts doing extra nonlethal damage, sapping strength from his foes with every blow. This is easily triggered with his invisibility from Cloak of Deception.

    (Some may wonder why I picked up Crimson Scourge 1. Crimson scourge allows non-lethal from all weapons, not just melee weapons. Natural weapons (from Bear Warrior) are arguably not melee weapons, so do not fall under the Justiciar ability. Why not continue with CS? The non-lethal bonus damage they get is a lot harder to trigger than the Justiciar bonus damage. Bear warrior has absolutely no class features other than "I turn into a bigger badder bear" to pursue, I already have what I want from there. (There is scent, but I already have it from Hunter's Sense). )

    At level 15, Braeger has truly mastered his ability to take down foes. Improved unarmed strike gives him iterative attacks while in bear form, in addition to his natural attacks. Of course, without opposable thumbs he has to wait until he subdues his foes before tieing them up, fortunately that is relatively easy for him with his size and strength. He basically has the Improved Grab special ability through Scorpion's Grasp, which is extremely beneficial to grapple his foes into submission.

    (I really "wrestled" with this. Being a bear means giving up hogtie and EWP (Manacles). I guess if his rage runs out he could use this. But honestly, bear wrestling. I hope originality and power make up for not using some class features.)

    At level 20, Braegar becomes the sheriff, able to keep law and order with ease. He has some of his key skills maxed out, and is able to find nearly anyone, anywhere, and bring them to justice. Superior unarmed strike gives him a large base damage for grapple. He continues to enhance his grapple ability in any way possible, gaining constrict through his new stance and pounce 1/encounter through his new maneuver, enabling him to dominate nearly any encounter. The sole skill trick he picks up enables him to see invisible targets once per encounter.

    (Picking up Swordsage 2 at character level 16 gives an initiator level of 9, allowing 5th level maneuvers to be grabbed. Specifically we want to get pounce, and also qualify for the constrict stance.)

    At level 20 Braegar's grapple modifier is +18 (BAB) + 4 (Improved Grapple) + 10 (Str while raging) + 5 (Tome+Belt) = 37, size medium. Toss in a potion of enlarge (+4 size) = 41, size large. At this point, 3 times a day he can outgrapple almost any legal target of size huge or smaller from MM1, and is just shy of equal to the largest and oldest (size huge) dragons and the greater stone golem, being only about 10 points away. If he needs to grapple a colossal dragon or Big T, he is doing it wrong.

    Adaptations:
    Tome of Battle is frequently banned at some tables. One alternative option for the two levels of swordsage could be to grab Monk of the Overwheming Attack 1 (free IUS and Power Attack) and Cleric of Bralm 1 (CDiv p121), grabbing Animal Devotion (Ape's Fury, +8 sacred str bonus from CChamp) and Strength domain (enlarge person as domain spell). You lose +1 BAB but get three extra feats to play with. Another very interesting option for grapplers is two levels of Totemist from Magic of Incarnum. But if ToB is banned, I can't see MoI being permitted. But it opens up some great options, specifically Girallon Arms and Kraken Mantle. Your mileage may vary. Neither of the alternatives invokes multiclass EXP penalties, for those who use that rule.


    Recommended magic items:
    Spoiler
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    Tome of Str +4 and Belt +6 are almost a given here. What items can a Braegar use while in bear form? It is not really clear. He can probably use a belt, and a necklace of natural attacks or amulet of mighty fists. Other items are questionable.

    From the SRD:
    Spoiler
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    When the change occurs, your equipment, if any, either remains worn or held by the new form (if it is capable of wearing or holding the item), or melds into the new form and becomes nonfunctional. When you revert to your true form, any objects previously melded into the new form reappear in the same location on your body they previously occupied and are once again functional. Any new items you wore in the assumed form and can’t wear in your normal form fall off and land at your feet; any that you could wear in either form or carry in a body part common to both forms at the time of reversion are still held in the same way. Any part of the body or piece of equipment that is separated from the whole reverts to its true form.


    Gloves of Titan's Grip would be real useful, a +8 enhancement to grappling never hurt anyone (except his opponent). Questionable whether gloves remain worn or meld into the form. Probably won't remain worn intact, but they might. Wear them anyway for when you are not a bear. Polymorph is a headache. But... bear wrestling.

    Bearskin armor and spare hand give some boosts to grappling, probably while not as a bear, although strap the hand to your belt and it might.

    Custom +30 competence items for Gather info and survival help hit epic-level checks fairly consistently.

    True seeing, flying, etc, all the necessary magic items. Take your pick. You know you need them.

    Grafts might be helpful (particularly grappling tentacle from Fiend Folio), but probably more appropriate on an LE character, not what I was interested in here, but might interest you.


    Sources:
    Spoiler
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    Cityscape: Crimson Scourge (p92), Urban Track (p64)
    Complete Scoundrel: Clarity of Vision (p85)
    Complete Warrior: Bear Warrior (p16), Justiciar (p47), Extra Rage (p98)
    Sandstorm: Scorpion's Grasp (p52)
    Tome of Battle: Swordsage (p15), Maneuvers/Stances (described above), Superior Unarmed Strike (p33)
    Unearthed Arcana/SRD: Half Orc Paragon, Human Paragon


    In finest of IC tradition,
    I end with this short supposition.
    Life's fun as a bear,
    And this is my prayer:
    That judges enjoy this submission.
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV.

    Who made my awesome Dwarf Hexblade avatar, you ask? BRC did!
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  5. - Top - End - #155
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Amphetryon's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Finds clientele in dive bars. Get it?
    Bilblibliip
    Hunter of the tides,
    I will end your life!
    "Mourn your fallen brave,
    Sleep in a sunken grave."

    Feel the deadly fin,
    My nets drag you in.
    Bloodstained sand, and gore,
    All that's left upon the shore!

    Empty eyes, never blinking,
    Armored scales, but never sinking
    Puddle jumper, the Coastal Runner
    Call me the Tide Hunter!

    Gliding through the depths,
    Gliding to your death,
    Upon the shore I rise
    Hold my flippers to the skies!

    Image
    Spoiler
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    Bilblibliip
    LN Kuo-toan Ranger 5 / Justiciar 10
    STR 18 (increments due to level go here) DEX 14 CON 16 INT 14 WIS 14 CHA 8

    Background
    Spoiler
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    Since Bilblibliip emerged from the breeding pools he was marked by the Sea Mother, Blibdoolpoolp. He grew stronger than other Kuo-toa, and keep a hold of the madness that lurks in the deeps.

    Trained as a Harpooner he specialized on hunting the maddened Kuo-toa who escaped the grasp of the Sea Mother. It didn't take long before Bilblibliip was sent to hunt other creatures in the underdark. Duergars, sliths, svirnerfirs all made fine slaves for the fish men.

    Bilblibliip expertise led him further, hunting even above ground, tracking, stalking and searching for its target for days, weeks or even months before finally capturing them and bringing them back to the wet pools of the Underdark and into the claws of Bibdoolpoolp.


    Build
    Spoiler
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    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Kuo-toa RHD|
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |Knowledge (local) 4, Listen 4, Search 4, Spot 4|Exotic weapon proficiency (kuo-toan harpoon), Alertness (bonus)|Kuo-toa abilities, LA +3

    2nd|Kuo-toa RHD|
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |Knowledge (local) 5, Listen 5, Search 5, Spot 5|-|-

    3rd|Ranger 1|
    +3
    |
    +2
    |
    +5
    |
    +3
    |Gather information 2, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 1, Move silently 1, Listen 6, Search 6, Spot 5, Survival 1, Use rope 1|Urban tracking|Favored environment (aquatic) +2, Spiritual connection, Fast movement, Track

    4th|Ranger 2|
    +4
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +3
    |Gather information 4, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 2, Move silently 2, Listen 7, Search 7, Spot 5, Survival 2, Use rope 2|-|-

    5th|Ranger 3|
    +5
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +4
    |Gather information 6, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 3, Move silently 3, Listen 8, Search 8, Spot 5, Survival 3, Use rope 3|-|Endurance

    6th|Ranger 4|
    +6
    |
    +4
    |
    +7
    |
    +4
    |Gather information 8, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 4, Move silently 4, Listen 9, Search 9, Spot 5, Survival 4, Use rope 4|Skill focus (Gather Information)|Urban companion (Sewerm), Spellcasting

    7th|Ranger 5|
    +7
    |
    +4
    |
    +7
    |
    +4
    |Gather information 10, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 5, Move silently 5, Listen 10, Search 10, Spot 5, Survival 5, Use rope 5|-|Wildshape 1/day, Favored environment (aquatic) +2, Favored environment (underground) +4

    8th|Justiciar 1|
    +8
    |
    +4
    |
    +7
    |
    +6
    |Gather information 11, Knowledge (dungeoneering) 1, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 5, Move silently 6, Listen 11, Search 11, Spot 5, Survival 6, Use rope 6|-|Bring 'em back alive, nonlethal strike +1d6

    9th|Justiciar 2|
    +9
    |
    +4
    |
    +7
    |
    +7
    |Gather information 12, Knowledge (dungeoneering) 2, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 5, Move silently 7, Listen 12, Search 12, Spot 5, Survival 7, Use rope 7|Quick reconnoiter|Improved grapple, cripling strike

    10th|Justiciar 3|
    +10
    |
    +5
    |
    +8
    |
    +7
    |Gather information 13, Knowledge (dungeoneering) 3, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 5, Move silently 8, Listen 13, Search 13, Spot 5, Survival 8, Use rope 8|-|Exotic weapon proficiency (manacles), street savy +2

    11th|Justiciar 4|
    +11
    |
    +5
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    |Gather information 14, Knowledge (dungeoneering) 4, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 5, Move silently 9, Listen 14, Search 14, Spot 5, Survival 9, Use rope 9|-|Nonlethal strike +2d6

    12th|Justiciar 5|
    +12
    |
    +5
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    |Gather information 15, Knowledge (dungeoneering) 5, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 5, Move silently 9, Listen 15, Search 15, Spot 5, Survival 9, Use rope 10|Keen eared scout|Hog-tie

    13th|Justiciar 6|
    +13
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    |Gather information 16, Knowledge (dungeoneering) 5, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 5, Move silently 10, Listen 16, Search 16, Spot 5, Survival 10, Use rope 12|-|Street savy +4

    14th|Justiciar 7|
    +14
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    |Gather information 17, Knowledge (dungeoneering) 5, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 5, Move silently 11, Listen 17, Search 17, Spot 5, Survival 11, Use rope 14|-|Non lethal strike +3d6

    15th|Justiciar 8|
    +15
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |
    +10
    |Gather information 18, Knowledge (dungeoneering) 5, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 5, Move silently 12, Listen 18, Search 18, Spot 5, Survival 12, Use rope 16|Quick draw|Improved hog-tie

    16th|Justiciar 9|
    +16
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    |Gather information 19, Knowledge (dungeoneering) 5, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 5, Move silently 13, Listen 19, Search 19, Spot 5, Survival 13, Use rope 18|-|Street savy +6

    17th|Justiciar 10|
    +17
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    |
    +11
    |Gather information 20, Knowledge (dungeoneering) 5, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 5, Move silently 14, Listen 20, Search 20, Spot 5, Survival 14, Use rope 20|-|Intuition, Nonlethal strike +4d6[/table]


    ECL 6
    Spoiler
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    Kuo-toa / Ranger 1

    Yes, a Kuo-toa.

    Kuo-toa are described as playable races in Underdark but they function perfectly as monsters on the monster's handbook. Interestingly this gives a minor problem, kuo-toa in the monster manual have alertness as a bonus feat while kuo-toa in the Underdark do not. Supplements posterior to Underdark, such as monster manual V, list kuo-toa (some using prestige classes from the Underdark) and they always list them as having alertness as a bonus feat. As I understand the monster manual is the primary source regarding monster races and since the kuo-toa player character doesn't appear in the player's handbook the monster manual takes precended, thus giving kuo-toa alertness as a bonus feat. All the other traits from the description on Underdark fits the monster entry from the monster manual.

    Some things on being a kuo-toa.

    Adhesive: Fear the grappling power of the kuo-toa! This ability is strong by itself, but when it combines with hog-tie or improved hog-tie from justiciar levels it can become hilarious, just wait till that damned monk attacks you and grapples itself.
    Pincer Staff (Underdark): Kuo-toa treat a pincer staff as a martial weapon instead of exotic. The pincer staff allows Bilblibliip to initiate grapples without risking melee nor being grappled back, in addition it deals continuous damage as long as he holds the grapple and... works on creatures up to one size larger (or smaller) so it works perfectly with hog-tie. Pro tip use a dastana (arms and equipment guide) that can be used in conjuction with a two handed weapon, in order to apply adhesive to it.
    Kuo-toan Harpoon (MM V): If he uses a sticky buckler in conjunction with the harpoon he gains a +5 on the opposed STR check. That and the option to slam the buckler into the ground (freeing both hands) makes the harpoon a great close range weapon, to use before getting to melee.
    Keen sight: Combined with a good number of skill ranks in listen make easy to locate invisible creatures for Bilblibliip.
    Spoiler
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    Immunity to poison (and paralysis): Bilblibliip never risks poisoning himself when applying poison to weapons, well he risks to but he doesn't care. This poison immunity is also useful against several enemies with poison attacks. Kuo-toan known relation to drows, and Bilblibliip great ability for gathering information can give him access to several poisons.
    Light blindness: This would be a bad thing, if it weren't for sun lenses on sandstorm, Bilblibliip wears sunglasses like a boss.

    But Bilblibliip is not only a kuo-toa he is also a ranger with Favored environment (Aquatic) ACF that means that he gets bonuses while fighting underwater. The ranger ACF from unearthed arcana that grants bonus speed as a Barbarian and wildshape instead of combat styles, that means that Bilblibliip speed is 30 feet, as most medium creatures. He also has a spiritual conection (ACF from complete champion) allowing him to use speak with animals 3/day this will be specially relevant later on, but atm, it benefits him more than wild empathy due to his low charisma. Track and Urban tracking help Bilblibliip to locate any of the targets that try to escape the rage of Blibdoolpoolp. Note that he even can track things underwater, per stormwrack page 51
    Another thing to take into account is that through skilled city dweller Bilblibliip gets gather information as a class skill.


    ECL 10
    Spoiler
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    Kuo-toa / Ranger 5
    At this level Bilblibliip has five levels in ranger, other than his kuo-toa HD. What can he do now?
    The simplest addition is favored environment (Underground) that increases Bilblibliip abilities while in the underdark, and he probably will be there most of the time.
    Another straigthforward addition is spellcasting, ranger spells have some of the most useful tracking spells in the game and they will help Bilblibliip to tail any fugitive, he can prepare one level 1 spell a day (Marked object, scent, lay of the land or quickswim are good examples of spells)
    Wildshape is a bit more difficult to handle but it can give him access to more combat oriented forms, an ape or dire ape that can use weapons are good choices, though the most useful forms are probably going to be uncunsipicous forms, such as taking the form of a dog, that can travel to places without rising the suspicions a kuo-toa might rise.
    Bilblibliip's urban companion is a great asset in itself, and it deserves several mentions. The Sewerm has a great grapple check (+16), it has attach, that is slightly better than an improved grab, that can affect enemies of any size, and since it uses Bilblibliip attack bonus (so it has a full attack bonus progression) it is a great grappler. Per the grapple rules if both the Sewerm and Bilblibliip grapple together they can be devastating to their enemies. The Sewerm can choose to aid Bilblibliip in any skill check and he can succeed reliably in any skill in which Bilblibliip has more than 9 ranks, adding 2 to the check. The Sewerm is intelligent and Bilblibliip can use its speak with animal ability to give it instructions if need be. It also offers an anesthetic poison (in order to not deal damage to Bilblibliip targets, the kuo-toa itself is immune). Finally it grants a +2 bonus on saves to resist pain.


    ECL 15
    Spoiler
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    Kuo-toa / Ranger 5 / Justiciar 5
    Improved grapple aids Bilblibliip when using its Pincer staff making it easier for him to grapple enemies (and hold them with the pincer staff).
    Bring 'em back alive + nonlethal strike combined with the Sewerm's poison allow Bilblibliip to deal a good chunck of damage to its targets without them noticing.
    Street savy adds to the gather information bonus, specially in conjunction with urban tracking.
    Hog-tie, once Bilblibliip is able to hog tie its opponents (from 10 feet away due to its pincer staff) he can bind them pretty well due to high ranks on use rope.
    Quick reconnoiter + Keen eared scout combined with its natural keen sight make Bilblibliip great at localizing hidden enemies, listen functions even when a creature can't see, and even if it is negated on a silence area most possible enemies make noise (or rely on making noise, such as spell casters), are sightable or use invisibility.


    ECL 20
    Spoiler
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    Kuo-toa / Ranger 5 / Justiciar 10
    The cherry on top of the build is improved hog tie. It allows Bilblibliip to hog tie an opponent 10 feet away (due to its pincer staff) as an attack action (so he can do so as part of a full attack) after establishing a grapple (in effect after hitting an opponent with its pincer staff) without need of having manacles in hand (thanks to quick draw). He can even use antimagic shackles (from book of exalted deeds) to create a 5 feet antimagic field arround the hog tied creature (thus not being affected itself, since it is standing 10 feet away). Rendering a creature, bound (with a huge DC to escape or break free) and helpless in an antimagic field.
    Finally its capstone combined with enough ranks on survival, the sewerm's aids, and hopefully being on its favored environment (undreground) will make Bilblibliip succeed a good part of the time.


    Sweetspots
    Spoiler
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    Bilblibliip build has a couple of levels in which he exceels in power, due to getting major boons.
    The sewerm's aid is a great asset, it has strong grappling powers and provides a poison that Bilblibliip can use 24 hours 7 times a day to bring its targets back without dealing pain to them.
    The sweetest spot though is ECL 18 when Bilblibliip gets improved hog tie and quick draw, allowing him to bind characters almost at the time of grappling them.


    Magic item support
    Spoiler
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    Some magic items are really valuable for Bilblibliip, other than the mentioned antimagic shackles the shackles of silence (book of exalted deeds pg 116) or the dimensional shackles might be useful when dealing with spellcasters.
    Hog tie relies on Bilblibliip having the shackles or rope or chain on a free hand. Thus a spare hand (magic item compendium pg 137) can be handy (pun intended).
    Items that grant a bonus to grapple such as gloves of titan's grip (magic item compendium pg 107) enhance its grappling checks, thus making the combo more deadly.
    Bilblibliip relies on substituting attacks for grapple checks, and then hold the opponent, thus items that grant extra free movement or pounce are important for Bilblibliip, belt of battle (magic item compendium pg. 73) can allow Bilblibliip to burn a charge to move and get into melee and then full attack, or a wand of lion's charge (2nd level ranger spell, from spell compendium pg. 133) grants pounce for a round and it can be into a wand chamber (dungeonscape pg. 34) in the pincer staff.
    Similarly Bilblibliip uses on track and urban tracking to find its targets when it is convinient for him, and tools that aid him in that manner can be helpful. A wand of bloodhound (spell compendium pg. 34) allows him to reroll survival checks, other spells such as living prints or stalking brand both from spell compendium can help in that direction.
    Even if he is most likely able to stalk its prey and get to it without being ambushed itself, Bilblibliip tactics rely on acting first and disabling the enemy as fast as possible, thus, items that grant initiative bonus are also a great addition to the arsenal.
    Finally as every character, Bilblibliip benefits from items that increase its ability scores.


    Sources
    Spoiler
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    Other than the PHB

    Underdark: Kuo-toa (as playable race), Pincer Staff
    Monster Manual I: Kuo-toa
    Monster Manual V: Kuo-toan Harpoon
    Arms and equipment guide: Dastana
    Unearthed Arcana: Wildshaping ranger ACF, Urban Tracking feat, favored environment ACF
    Complete Champion: Spiritual connection ACF
    Cityscape web enhancement Skilled city dweller, Urban Companion ACF
    Serpent kingdoms: Sewerm
    Complete adventurer: Quick Reconnoiter
    PHB II: Keen Eared Scout
    Complete warrior: Justiciar
    Book of exalted deeds and DMG: Magic shackles
    Magic item compendium: Some referenced magic items
    Spell compendium: Some referenced spells
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV.

    Who made my awesome Dwarf Hexblade avatar, you ask? BRC did!
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  6. - Top - End - #156
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Amphetryon's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Claw of the Cult of the Dragon Below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ximen Bao
    Nocturnal assemblies took place; thereat the conspirators cemented their alliance with the blood of human victims...

    -Eliphas Levi, the History of Magic

    Since the dawn of civilization - human or otherwise - there have been those who revere the Dragon Below, seeking to placate the forces of darkness through sacrifice and devotion.

    -History of Eberron, p230




    Prelude
    Spoiler
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    William of the Wolf's Paw ran his hand over his balding pate. "But how was he taken? Did he not have his guards with him?"

    Remigio sighed. "Aye," he said. "Six guards, all incapacitated. They claim to have been beset upon by their own shadows, and bound and gagged to watch helplessly as the Marquis was dragged off by this masked one."

    "One assailant - one woman - took out six guards? I don't believe it," said William. "She must have had help. Have we questioned the guards? One must have been in her pay."

    "We have questioned them," Remigio answered, "but such questioning was pointless. This may be your first time dealing with the Cults of the Dragon Below, but it is not mine. Their agents do not deal in bribery and treachery."

    "Question them again," said William. "I will begin collecting gold. Have they contacted anyone for a ransom?"

    Remigio shook his head sadly. "You still do not see," he sighed. "There will be no ransom. They do not seek the gold of the marquis, or that of the Wolf's Paw. They will drag him, alive, into the depths of Khyber, and they will hold him there. And when the Qabalrin Wheel turns and shows them a favorable date, they will kill him, so that his blood may feed the bones of their dead god."

    William stared at him, aghast. "Surely - surely there must be something we can do. Send someone after him -"

    "We can pray," Remigio interrupted. "But I fear it would do little good. Many times have the Cults of the Dragon Below sent a warrior to seize one of our own for their sacrifices, and many times have our people followed them into Khyber to bring them back. And yet none have ever returned..."


    Ximen Bao, Claw of the Dragon Below
    Spoiler
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    LE Lesser Drow, Duskblade 3/Cleric 1/Master of Shrouds 6/Justiciar 10

    XIMEN BAO
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Duskblade 1|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |Craft (poisonmaking) 2 ranks, know (religion) 4 ranks, spellcraft 4 ranks, concentration 4 ranks, gather information 2 ranks|Master of Poisons|Arcane attunement, armored mage (light)

    2nd|Duskblade 2|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |Craft (poisonmaking) 3 ranks, know (religion) 5 ranks, spellcraft 5 ranks, concentration 5 ranks, gather information 2.5 ranks|Combat Casting|

    3rd|Duskblade 3|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +1
    |
    +3
    |Gather information 3 ranks, survival 2 ranks|Spell Focus (Conjuration)|Arcane channeling

    4th|Cleric 1|
    +3
    |
    +5
    |
    +1
    |
    +5
    |Gather information 3.5 ranks, survival 3.5 ranks, search .5 ranks|Augment Summoning|Rebuke undead, divine magician

    5th|Master of Shrouds 1|
    +3
    |
    +5
    |
    +1
    |
    +7
    |Gather information 4 ranks, survival 4 ranks, search 2 ranks||Extra rebuking, rebuke undead

    6th|Master of Shrouds 2|
    +4
    |
    +5
    |
    +1
    |
    +8
    |Gather information 4.5 ranks, survival 4.5 ranks, search 3.5 ranks|Track|Summon undead (shadow)

    7th|Master of Shrouds 3|
    +4
    |
    +6
    |
    +2
    |
    +8
    |Gather information 5 ranks, survival 5 ranks, search 5 ranks||

    8th|Master of Shrouds 4|
    +5
    |
    +6
    |
    +2
    |
    +9
    |Craft (poisonmaking) 5 ranks, gather information 5.5 ranks, survival 5.5 ranks, search 5.5 ranks||Summon undead (wraith)

    9th|Master of Shrouds 5|
    +5
    |
    +6
    |
    +2
    |
    +9
    |Craft (poisonmaking) 7 ranks, gather information 6 ranks, survival 6 ranks, search 6 ranks|Skill Focus (Gather Information)|Improved summoning

    10th|Master of Shrouds 6|
    +6/+1
    |
    +7
    |
    +3
    |
    +10
    |Craft (poisonmaking) 10 ranks, use rope 1 ranks||Summon undead (spectre)

    11th|Justiciar 1|
    +7/+2
    |
    +7
    |
    +3
    |
    +12
    |Gather Information 7 ranks, survival 7 ranks, search 7 ranks, use rope 5 ranks||Bring ‘em back alive, nonlethal strike +1d6

    12th|Justiciar 2|
    +8/+3
    |
    +7
    |
    +3
    |
    +13
    |Gather information 8 ranks, survival 8 ranks, search 8 ranks, use rope 9 ranks|Lolth’s Caress, Improved Grapple|Crippling strike

    13th|Justiciar 3|
    +9/+4
    |
    +8
    |
    +4
    |
    +13
    |Gather information 10 ranks, survival 9 ranks, search 9 ranks, use rope 12 ranks||Exotic Weapon Proficiency (manacles), street savvy +2

    14th|Justiciar 4|
    +10/+5
    |
    +8
    |
    +4
    |
    +14
    |Gather information 11 ranks, survival 11 ranks, search 10 ranks, use rope 15 ranks||Nonlethal strike +2d6

    15th|Justiciar 5|
    +11/+6/+1
    |
    +8
    |
    +4
    |
    +14
    |Gather information 12 ranks, survival 13 ranks, search 11 ranks, use rope 18 ranks|Practiced Spellcaster (Cleric)|Hog-tie

    16th|Justiciar 6|
    +12/+7/+2
    |
    +9
    |
    +5
    |
    +15
    |Gather information 14 ranks, survival 15 ranks, search 13 ranks, use rope 19 ranks||Street savvy +4

    17th|Justiciar 7|
    +13/+8/+3
    |
    +9
    |
    +5
    |
    +15
    |Gather information 16 ranks, survival 17 ranks, search 15 ranks, use rope 20 ranks||Nonlethal strike +3d6

    18th|Justiciar 8|
    +14/+9/+4
    |
    +9
    |
    +5
    |
    +16
    |Gather information 18 ranks, survival 19 ranks, search 17 ranks, use rope 21 ranks|Animal Devotion|Improved hog-tie

    19th|Justiciar 9|
    +15/+10/+5
    |
    +10
    |
    +6
    |
    +16
    |Gather information 20 ranks, survival 21 ranks, search 19 ranks, use rope 22 ranks||Street savvy +6

    20th|Justiciar 10|
    +16/+11/+6/+1
    |
    +10
    |
    +6
    |
    +17
    |Gather information 22 ranks, survival 23 ranks, search 21 ranks, use rope 23 ranks||Intuition, nonlethal strike +4d6[/table]

    Cleric Casting
    Spoiler
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    DOMAINS: Dragon Below, Divine MagicianACF

    Divine Magician Spells:
    1- Magecraft
    2- Escalating Enfeeblement
    3- Anticipate Teleportation

    Spells per day
    {table=head]Level|0lvl|1st|2nd|3rd|4th|5th|6th|7th|8th|9th

    1st|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    2nd|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    3rd|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    4th|3|1+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    5th|3|1+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    6th|4|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    7th|4|2+1|1+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    8th|5|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    9th|5|3+1|2+1|1+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    10th|5|3+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    11th|5|3+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    12th|5|3+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    13th|5|3+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    14th|5|3+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    15th|5|3+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    16th|5|3+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    17th|5|3+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    18th|5|3+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    19th|5|3+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    20th|5|3+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-[/table]

    Typical cleric spells prepared (if battle is expected):
    0- No Light, No Light, No Light, Detect Magic, Detect Poison
    1- Cause Fear*, Lesser Shivering Touch, Lesser Shivering Touch, Prot/Good, Prot/Good
    2- Death Knell*, Divine Insight, Divine Insight, Escalating Enfeeblement, Escalating Enfeeblement
    3- Bestow Curse*, Shivering Touch, Shivering Touch, Anticipate Teleportation

    *Domain spell


    Duskblade Casting
    Spoiler
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    Duskblade spells known:
    0- Touch of fatigue, acid splash, disrupt undead, ray of frost
    1- Chill touch, swift expeditious retreat, ray of enfeeblement, obscuring mist

    Spells per day
    {table=head]Level|0lvl|1st|2nd|3rd|4th|5th

    1st|3|2|-|-|-|-

    2nd|4|3|-|-|-|-

    3rd|5|4|-|-|-|-
    [/table]

    (No Duskblade casting is progressed beyond level 3.)


    Stats
    Spoiler
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    Starting stats (includes racial adjustments for Lesser Drow):
    15/10/12/16/14/10

    Level 4 stat boost goes to Strength.

    In a low magic campaign where magic items are unavailable, the levels 8 and 12 stat boosts will go to Wisdom, while the remaining go to Strength. However, if magic items are available and a Periapt of Wisdom can be obtained, all stat boosts will go to Strength.



    The Way of the Dragon
    Spoiler
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    She has lived in the dark and comforting depths of Khyber, has been nourished by the Dragon Below. It is her sacred duty to feed Him as He has fed her, to bathe His ancient bones and flesh with the blood of those He asks for.

    His priests and priestesses give her a name, a face, and she goes. Alone or with others, she goes and she brings that name, that face, back. She has never yet failed in this task. She brings the named one back to Khyber without spilling a drop of blood, for that blood is sacred, and that blood is destined for the Black Pit where Khyber may feed from it.

    Ximen is not foolhardy. She always prepares. If she is to bring these sacrifices in alive, she must find a way to incapacitate them first. She is skilled in poisons, which she prepares herself. Her favorite is shadow essence, which initially seems as though it does nothing, then suddenly wracks her target with Strength damage. She has an affinity with shadows, you see. She also uses survival and Detect Poison to find poisonous fungii, plants and vermin to add to her cache of poisons.

    Making poisons is a simple matter. Though craft DCs continue to scale throughout the game, the magecraft and divine insight spells make these checks trivial. By level 10, Ximen is looking at +30 to her craft (poisonmaking) check before items are even taken into consideration. This means that, when making shadow essence, she can voluntarily add +20 to the DC of the craft check to craft at an accelerated pace and still auto-succeed by taking 10, again without a single item.

    Ximen is also skilled at finding and tracking her enemies. Again divine insight comes into play here - between her street savvy ability, her ranks and divine insight, she can get a +43 to her check before ability scores and items, which is more than enough to research her enemy while also completely avoiding suspicion (a -20 penalty per the epic usage of gather info). She is also an excellent dedicated tracker, and can use her intuition ability to ensure that no one evades her capture.

    In combat, Ximen attempts to overwhelm her foes with ability damage and nonlethal damage until they are paralyzed or knocked out, then bind them to return to Khyber. She often sends her shadows first, for she can summon four at once to sneak through the floor, surround an enemy, and rapidly drain them of strength. Then she closes in and attacks, switching between ray spells for range and full attacks for those close to her.

    She moves to flank with one of her shadows and focuses on one target at a time. With her shadows draining strength on one side and her own attacks draining strength on the other (not to mention poison), it is usually a simple matter to drain enemies to nothing. If targeting Strength is unwise, she instead channels a shivering touch spell to drain the enemy's Dexterity, or even a bestow curse for enemies with low Will saves.

    She further forces enemies to save against the second effect of her poisons immediately by spending a rebuke attempt.

    Once an enemy has been sufficiently drained, she moves to bind them. She begins her grapple, boosting her Strength with Animal Devotion, and she should win handily thanks to her Strength draining. Then she hog-ties her foe. She has maximum ranks in Use Rope, and her divine insight spell gives her another +15 to this check, meaning that she can beat even the most dedicated escape artist.

    Bound, gagged and usually paralyzed, most enemies have no way of escaping her. She also has anticipate teleportation up each day, to prevent spellcasters from teleporting away.

    If Ximen comes up against undead unexpectedly, she will rebuke them or bind them. If she expects to face undead, she simply memorizes the spell spark of light, which makes them vulnerable to her many forms of physical ability damage.


    Interlude
    Spoiler
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    “All life here comes from Khyber,” the priestess intoned. “With Khyber’s sacrifice, He gave us life. The Dragon Below produces our sustenance, which nourishes life. We drink of His blood, we spring from the rock that is His bones and the ground that is His flesh.”

    Ximen bowed her head and let it in - that warm otherness that came, not from her own heart, but from the heart of Khyber. The priestess continued.

    “Khyber’s sacrifice sustains us, sustains this world. Everything below springs from His flesh-hood - the earth, the people, all is Khyber. All grows from the buried blood, the claws, the teeth, the eyes of Khyber.”

    “We owe the Dragon Below a great debt,” Ximen whispered.

    The priestess smiled. “Yes, my dear,” she said. “A debt that can only be paid in blood. As He nourishes us, so must we nourish Him.”

    Ximen stood then, and pulled the dragon mask down over her face once more. She reached for the rope at her feet and pulled her prey forward, bound and gagged. “Here,” she said to the priestess. “Here is my offering to Khyber. Here is my offering to the Dragon Below. Here is the one you have told me was prophesied to die. I shed no blood in bringing him here, not one drop of the sacred lifeforce."

    "Good," said the priestess, her smile widening. She ran her finger down the cheek of the marquis. She could see Ximen was telling it true, could see that, despite his paleness, no blood had been spilled. "You did well, Ximen. He will make a fine feast for the Dragon Below..."


    The Justice of the Dragon Below
    Spoiler
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    The justiciar brings many potent abilities to Ximen, allowing her to capture any enemy and bring them to the Black Pit for sacrifice.

    The first and most obvious boon is the justiciar's high BAB. Being able to maintain a +16 BAB despite focusing much of her build on casting and summons is crucial, especially since she spends much of her time grappling. However, each ability gives her great power:

    Bring 'em back alive: Ximen strives to avoid shedding blood, for only those who are unharmed may be brought down to be sacrificed below the Dragon Below. This allows her to wield a guisarme and armor spikes, her preferred weapon choices, without spilling blood.

    Nonlethal strike: Adding +4d6 nonlethal damage to each attack means that Ximen will quickly overwhelm her foes with nonlethal damage and force them into unconsciousness. It also powers her crippling strike ability. This is especially easy for Ximen to trigger, as she can summon more than a dozen shadows each day, so flanking partners will always be available.

    Improved grapple: As mentioned in her tactics, Ximen attempts to grapple enemies once their strength has been drained. On her end, she sports a high Strength (further boosted with Animal Devotion), high base attack bonus, and Improved Grapple. Meanwhile, her enemies will be taking huge amounts of Strength damage each round. This allows her to grapple enemies twice her size with ease.

    Crippling strike: If it is not apparent, ability damage drives most of Ximen's build. Dealing strength damage with each attack is a tremendous part of what makes Ximen so dangerous. It also gives her an easy way to trigger escalating enfeeblement's bonus strength penalties.

    Exotic weapon proficiency (manacles): What kidnapper does not carry a set of manacles close by at all times? In Ximen's case, she always likes to have a set of antimagic shackles hanging from her belt, which can help her temporarily neutralize casters while she moves on to other enemies. Though she prefers to use her guisarme when possible, when she drops her guisarme to focus on grappling, it is nice to have another close range weapon on hand so she does not have to rely on her armor spikes alone.

    Street savvy: As mentioned in her tactics section, street savvy gives Ximen the boost she needs to research her targets without arising suspicion, via the epic usage of gather information. With a +43 to gather information, she succeeds on a 2 to gather information on a difficult subject without alerting the subject or arising any suspicion.

    Hog-tie: After grappling her enemies, Ximen hog-ties them, making them helpess (Dexterity 0) to easily carry them back into Khyber. As mentioned in tactics, Ximen can get exceptionally high bonuses on her use rope check thanks to divine insight. Also, her Strength-draining tactics means that she can easily make breaking free through brute force impossible, and anticipate teleportation further helps keep enemies in place.

    Improved hog-tie: Even better! Now Ximen can hog-tie her enemies almost immediately, rather than waiting until they are pinned.

    Intuition: This ability is the equivalent of the circle dance spell, only usable at-will, and as a standard action (as opposed to one minute). You can not hide from the Dragon Below.


    Beyond Khyber
    Spoiler
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    Ximen Bao's variety of abilities would make her an effective melee character with some unique methods of fighting and scouting in most campaigns. Here are some notes on adding Ximen Bao to your campaign.

    Drow in Eberron? (Possible concerns and adaptations)
    Spoiler
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    Drow explicitly exist in Eberron, and mostly take up residence in Khyber, as Ximen Bao does. Though they primarily worship their own scorpion god, finding one in the service of the Cults of the Dragon Below is not unheard of.

    The lesser drow has never been statted up for Eberron, but did exist in 3.5 in the Player's Guide to Faerun. It is these stats that I have used for Ximen Bao. If your DM decides that lesser drow do not exist in Eberron, full drow could be used (look into LA buyoff if you go this route), or even a re-fluffed elf.

    Also, the Lolth's Caress feat specifically references Lolth in the name. The feat itself does not require worship of Lolth as long as you are a drow. If you DM rules that this feat does not exist because of its references to Lolth, it is no tremendous loss to the build. Instead, I would recommend bumping Animal Devotion and Practiced Spellcaster up a level, and taking Quick Draw to better take advantage of her improved hog-tie ability.

    The build could also work outside of Eberron. In Faerun or Greyhawk, it would be more likely that Ximen was offering sacrifices to Lolth herself. This could be a fun alternative build, with her hog-tie ability being fluffed as the webbing of a spider.

    Finally, if fractional BAB is allowed, I highly recommend it. It will allow you to get in to Justiciar a level early, and in general I find it to be a superior system for melee characters.


    Sources
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    The Cults of the Dragon Below are from Eberron Campaign Setting. Lesser drow stats are in Player's Guide to Faerun. Lolth's Caress and Master of Poisons are from Drow of the Underdark. Shivering Touch (and its lesser version) are in Frostburn. The Divine Magician alternate class feature is from Complete Mage. Animal Devotion is from Complete Champion.


    Equipping Ximen Bao
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    Ximen Bao prefers to wear heavy spiked armor covered in dark, oiled cloth that helps her blend into the shadows. She wears a dragon mask over her face when retrieving sacrifices for the Cults, and fights with a guisarme and armor spikes or with her manacles. She also carries the strongest rope available, for her hog-tie ability, as well as antimagic shackles.

    Item boosts will definitely not go amiss - a Periapt of Wisdom +2 will give her an additional third level spell per day without requiring her to use her level boosts, and boosting Charisma will help with her gather information checks and also give her more uses of her undead summoning ability and rebuking.

    Beyond that, she always seeks to improve her strength and her grappling ability. She also likes to carry items that give penalties to stats, such as tanglefoot bags, as easy ways to debilitate enemies.

    In general she relies on her rays or her shadows to attack enemies at range, but carrying a hand crossbow with poisoned bolts is not unwise. However, because she cannot use her "bring 'em back alive" class feature on crossbows, she will mostly use this to incapacitate those who are guarding her main target.


    Ximen Bao at All Levels
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    LEVEL 5 (Duskblade 3/Cleric 1/Master of Shrouds 1): With the ability to channel lesser shivering touch and similar spells and early access to poison, plus excellent rebuking for a non-dedicated cleric, Ximen is a competent melee character with some nice extra effects at the low levels.

    LEVEL 10 (Duskblade 3/Cleric 1/Master of Shrouds 6): Now she can channel full shivering touch and bestow curse spells, overwhelm enemies with four shadows at a time, etc. Her summon undead ability is especially potent at levels 5-10, when many enemies simply cannot deal with incorporeal creatures.

    LEVEL 15 (Duskblade 3/Cleric 1/MoS 6/Justiciar 5): See the above, but add in excellent grappling capability, improved poison use, better spells, the ability to hog-tie enemies, extra nonlethal damage, and crippling strike. This is perhaps Ximen at her very best.

    LEVEL 20 (Duskblade 3/Cleric 1/MoS 6/Justiciar 10): Plays very similar to level 15, but the addition of improved hog-tie and intuition make Ximen especially dangerous.



    Fugue
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    Ximen's heart beat faster still. There was a flash of steel and then red, not the brilliant red of fire but a dun red, a red like rust, spilling from the marquis' throat.

    That wed redness seeped down, down, down, slowly making its way into the Black Pit.

    Somewhere deep below her feet, she could feel a vague rumbling, as the bones of Khyber began to stir...
    Last edited by Amphetryon; 2012-09-22 at 08:35 PM.
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV.

    Who made my awesome Dwarf Hexblade avatar, you ask? BRC did!
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  7. - Top - End - #157
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Amphetryon's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Armin Long, long arm of the law.

    Quote Originally Posted by Armin Long
    Armin Long

    "With faith, all criminals are within reach of the Law."

    Build:

    Spoiler
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    Human, Lawful Neutral Cleric 1/Human Paragon 3/Church Inquisitor 6/ Justicar 10

    Spoiler
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    Armin Long, of the Law
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skill Ranks|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Cleric of St. Cuthbert|
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |K:Arcana 4, K:Religion 4, Spellcraft 4, Concentration 4|H: Track, 1st: Smiting Spell, D: Spell Focus (Enchantment)|Turn Undead, Domination Domain, Divine Magician ACF

    2nd|Human Paragon|
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +4
    |K:Arcana 5, K:Dungeoneering 1, K:Nature 2, Survival 1, Escape Artist 1|--| Adaptive Learning

    3rd|Human Paragon2|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +5
    |K:Dungeoneering 3, K:Nature 3, Survival 3, Escape Artist 2|EWP: Sasumata, Knowledge Devotion|+1 Cleric casting

    4th|Human Paragon3|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +1
    |
    +5
    |K:Nature 4, Survival 5, Escape Artist 5|--| +2 Wis, +1 Cleric casting

    5th|Church Inquisitor|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +1
    |
    +7
    |Gather Information 1, Search 1, K:Local 1, K: Planes 1, Spot 1, Sense Motive 1|--|Detect Evil, Inquisition Domain, +1 Cleric casting

    6th|Church Inquisitor2|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +1
    |
    +8
    |Gather Information 2, Search 2, Listen 2, Spot 2, Concentration 5, Sense Motive 2|Still Spell|Immune to Charms, +1 Cleric casting

    7th|Church Inquisitor3|
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +2
    |
    +8
    |Gather Information 3, Search 3, Listen 3, Spot 3, K:Planes 2, Sense Motive 3|--|Pierce Illusions, +1 Cleric casting

    8th|Chruch Inquisitor4|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +2
    |
    +9
    |Gather Information 4, Search 4, Listen 4, Spot 4, K:Local 2, Sense Motive 4|--|Pierce Disguise, +1 Cleric casting

    9th|Church Inquisitor5|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +2
    |
    +9
    |Gather Information 5, Search 5, Listen 5, Spot 5, K:Local 3, Sense Motive 5|Skill Focus (Gather Information)|Immune to Compulsions, +1 Cleric casting

    10th|Church Inquisitor6|
    +6/1
    |
    +5
    |
    +3
    |
    +10
    |Listen 7, Spot 7, Spellcraft 5, Concentration 6|--|Force Shapechange, +1 Cleric casting

    11th|Justicar|
    +7/2
    |
    +5
    |
    +3
    |
    +12
    |Use Rope 6|--|Bring 'em back alive, Non-lethal strike +1d6

    12th|Justicar2|
    +8/3
    |
    +5
    |
    +3
    |
    +13
    |Use Rope 12|Practiced Spellcaster, Improved Grapple|Crippling strike

    13th|Justicar3|
    +9/4
    |
    +6
    |
    +4
    |
    +13
    |Survival 11|EWP: Manacles|Street Savy +2

    14th|Justicar4|
    +10/5
    |
    +6
    |
    +4
    |
    +14
    |Spot 11|--|Non-lethal strike +2d6

    15th|Justicar5|
    +11/6/1
    |
    +6
    |
    +4
    |
    +14
    |K:Local 9|Urban Track|Hogtie

    16th|Justicar6|
    +12/7/2
    |
    +7
    |
    +5
    |
    +15
    |Gather Information 11|--|Street Savy +4

    17th|Justicar7|
    +13/8/3
    |
    +7
    |
    +5
    |
    +15
    |Survival 17|--|Non-lethal strike +3d6

    18th|Justicar8|
    +14/9/4
    |
    +7
    |
    +5
    |
    +16
    |K:Local 15|Quick Draw|Improved Hogtie

    19th|Justicar9|
    +15/10/5
    |
    +8
    |
    +6
    |
    +16
    |Gather Information 17|--|Street Savy +6

    20th|Justicar10|
    +16/11/6/1
    |
    +8
    |
    +6
    |
    +17
    |K:Local 20|--|Intuiton, Non-lethal strike +4d6[/table]



    Spells:

    Spoiler
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    Spells per day/Spells Known
    {table=head]Level|0lvl|1st|2nd|3rd|4th|5th|6th|7th|8th|9th

    1st|3|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    2nd|3|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    3rd|4|3+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    4th|4|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    5th|5|4+1|3+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    6th|5|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    7th|5|4+1|4+1|3+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    8th|6|6+1|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-

    9th|6|6+1|4+1|4+1|3+1|-|-|-|-|-

    10th|6|6+1|5+1|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-

    11th|6|6+1|5+1|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-

    12th|6|6+1|5+1|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-

    13th|6|6+1|5+1|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-

    14th|6|6+1|5+1|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-

    15th|6|6+1|5+1|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-

    16th|6|6+1|5+1|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-

    17th|6|6+1|5+1|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-

    18th|6|6+1|5+1|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-

    19th|6|6+1|5+1|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-

    20th|6|6+1|5+1|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-[/table]

    Divine Magician spells:

    Spoiler
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    Divine Magician spells
    1 True Strike
    2 Escalating Enfeeblement
    3 Unluck
    4 Touch of Years
    5 Spell Theft










    Stat Array:
    Spoiler
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    Level bonuses (in order) Wis, Wis, Str, Str, Str.

    Str 14 (+3) = 17
    Con 14
    Dex 12
    Int 12
    Wis 16 (+2) (+2) = 20
    Cha 10


    Tactics and abilities:
    Spoiler
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    Armin Long of St. Cuthbert who seeks justice. He'll certainly improvise to use any thing as a weapon to subdue a criminal, though he prefers tanglefoot bags, nets, or bolas. And, of course, hiss prefered weapon, his sasumata. With it, he grapples from a distance, keeping his foe tied up at bay. He delivers his spells to incapacitate through his sasumata by using his smiting spell feat, prefering non-damaging spells like Hold Person, Rigor Mortis, and, once available, Hibernate.

    As he gains experience as a Church Inquisitor, he gets the training he needs to seek out corruption wherever it may be found. The immuntities it offers keep his mind clear, his eyes open to the truth in front of him. The spells he gains help him to divine insights others can't see, to expose clues in a crime scene, and to lead him onward to the criminal he seeks. Knowledge is power and Armin will use it to track down his suspect and bring him (or, of course, her) to justice.

    Justicar brings Armin a stronger ability to go toe-to-toe with a villian. Crippling strike weakens his foe, and works well with Armin's Escalating Enfeeblement and Touch of Years spells. That loss of strength combined with an Unluck spell, really has a criminal at a disadvantage. When Armin powers up for the big fights with Divine Power, Righteous Wrath of the Faithful, Righteous Might, Bull's Strength, Stretch Weapon, etc. he can be quite the force to contend with. A strengthened cleric holding a criminal pinned from a distance with a sasumata, channeling stilled spells through the weapon to debuff, control, incapacitate, dispell -- quite the force indeed. The hogtie ability will not be far behind, preferably with anti-magic shackles (from Book of Exalted Deeds).


    Story:
    Spoiler
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    I wasn't the first one there. But, then again, I never did pride my reputation on being first.

    There were several men there, decked out in the finest of armor, the prettiest uniforms money could buy. Most held crossbows, loaded, ready. The one man who didn't was the one I recognized. He was older than the rest, but still young. His was the shiniest armor with the biggest insignia. He had a shield strapped to one arm, his sword still sheathed at his side. He was a career-oriented man, ambitious, on the hunt for glory. The last thing he would want to see was a grizzled old man like me, a few weeks from retirement, out of his juristiction. But I had saved his life a few years back, and he wasn't the kind to forget it.

    I walked up and gave a polite nod of my head. "Planning to let the clerics resurrect him in time for his execution?"

    "What are you doing here, Long?"

    "Seems a girl was murdered. My investigation led me here."

    "As did ours, Long. And much sooner than yours, I might add. We've got everything under control here."

    "You're after the wrong guy, you know. It wasn't the boyfriend."

    He looked at me blankly, trying to read my intentions.

    "Look, do us both a favor. Let me go in there. You take him afterward. No one gets hurt. Everyone wins."

    He didn't argue. I didn't give him the chance.


    I walked into the tavern. Everything was quiet. One man sat at the bar, staring into his drink. The bartender stood behind the counter, lazily wiping a few glasses. There was no one else around. The place was empty, quiet. Just the way I liked it.

    I slid onto a stool at the end of the bar. I kept telling myself that I wasn't as old as I looked, but my knees told a different story. The dull ache of a long day on my feet ran up my legs, through my body, and forced its way out of my throat as the kind of grunt I remembered hearing my grandfather make whenever he sat down.

    The bartender stepped near and nodded. I nodded back. I always asked the same question of a server. It didn't matter where, what the atmosphere was like. It could be a regal party at a duke's castle or a pre-brawl evening in a run-down dive. The question was always the same, and rarely reveived the answer I hoped for. "Do you know how to make Elysian Tea?"

    Today, the answer suprised me. The baretender simply nodded. He poured brandy into a skillet, put it on the stove, then headed into the back room while it simmered.

    I turned to the other man there. He was still staring into his drink. He was just a kid, couldn't've been more than 20. Smears ran down his face where the tears had been. The puffiness had receded some. His hands tremored a bit.

    The bartender came back carrying supplies. A few herbs and spices went into the skillet. Anice, cinnamon, rea, a few yellow petals of the Cinowa flower. He sliced an Elysian orange, barely losing a drip of juice to the cutting board, squeezing it all into the skillet. The cinnamon was expensive, but found easily enough. The orange was certainly a rare find. Most people skipped the Cinowa petals entirely when making Elysian Tea. Few knew enough to want them. They were practically unheard of. Only a true master of his craft would know to use them, or know how to use them delicately enough. Even then, it was quite the oddity to find someone with them in supply.

    The bartender, nay, Craftsman, took the skillet from the stove. He strained the liquid slowly out into a short, shallow mug, then set it before me on the bar. I leaned over the mug, took a deep breath, let the scent fill my head. I remembered a frozen winter night, huddled in a cabin, curled in front of a fireplace with a girl I hadn't thought of for years. Such was the beauty of Elysian Tea. But this... I could hear the cold wind whistling outside the cabin. I felt the warm glow of the fire. I knew again the soft press of her flesh against my chest.

    I opened my eyes, amazed. "Absolutely perfect."

    I curled my hands around the mug again and said a little prayer. I lifted it up, tipped it, poured the warm liquid out onto the floor. The Craftsman looked confused. The poor man didn't even know what hit him when I cracked the mug across his jaw. His eyes went wide in surprise. Then his body went stiff and he simply fell to the floor.

    I leaned over the bar and looked down at the body. "Sarn Daniem, you are hereby ordered to stand down. Under the authority of His Lawfulness, you are charged with sale and distribution of an illegal and lethal substance. Please, do not resist." I crawled over the bar, kneeled down, tied him up.

    I looked up. The kid at the bar was stunned, his eyes wide, jaw hanging open. I was glad to see that his drink was still untouched. "C'mon, kid. There's someone you should meet. An old friend on mine, right next door."

    I couldn't imagine the pain of losing the woman you loved. Especially if she had committed suicide by ingestion. I suppose it might drive me to follow her. It was the kind of pain that couldn't be fixed overnight. But I knew someone who might be able to help him. I put my hand on his shoulder and led him out the door. The paladins wanted him, but I told him their guy was tied up behind the bar. Then I led the kid down the road adn through the archway to the temple of Pelor.

    "Yup, kid, there's someone here you should talk to."

    As we walked through the temple gardens, I could smell the scent of Cinowa on the air, saw the yellow flowers waving in the breeze. "There's someone here we should both talk to...."



    Sources

    Spoiler
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    Divine Magician ACF (Complete Mage)
    Sasumata (Oriental Adventures)
    Smiting Spell (PHB II)
    Human Paragon (SRD)
    Church Inquisitor (Complete Divine)
    Knowledge Devotion (Complete Champion)
    Spells mentioned are in the SRD or:
    Rigor Moris (Heroes of Horror)
    Hibernate (Frostburn)
    Escalating Enfeeblement (complete Mage)
    Unluck (SpC)
    Touch of Years (Complete Mage)
    Spell Theft (Complete Scoundral)
    Stretch Weapon (PHB II)
    Last edited by Amphetryon; 2012-09-22 at 09:08 PM.
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV.

    Who made my awesome Dwarf Hexblade avatar, you ask? BRC did!
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  8. - Top - End - #158
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Amphetryon's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    "Son," she said. "Have I got a little story for you." - Pearl Jam

    Part 1:
    Quote Originally Posted by Alive
    Alive

    The Build
    Spoiler
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    Abilities
    Spoiler
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    str 14
    dex 12
    con 16 (increases here)
    int 14
    wis 14
    cha 8

    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Shape-changing Ranger 1|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |Gather Information 4, Hide 4, Know (nature) 4, Listen 4, Move Silently 4, Search 4, Spot 4, Survival 4, Tumble 4| Able Learner, Skill Focus (Gather Information)|Favored Enemy (Arcanists) +2, Track, Fast Movement +10ft, Voice of the City

    2nd|Shape-changing Ranger 2|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +0
    |Gather Information (1) 5, Hide (1) 5, Know (nature) 1 (5), Move Silently (1) 5, Search (1) 5, Spot (1) 5, Survival (1) 5, Tumble (1) 5, Use Rope 1||

    3rd|Shape-changing Ranger 3|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +1
    |Gather Information (1) 6, Hide (1) 6, Know (planes) 2, Listen 1 (5), Move Silently (1) 6, Search (1) 6, Spot (1) 6, Survival (1) 6, Use Rope 1 (2)| Stand Still|Endurance

    4th|Shape-changing Ranger 4|
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +1
    |Gather Information (1) 7, Hide (1) 7, Listen 2 (7), Know (nature) 2 (7), Ride 1, Survival (1) 7, Use Rope 1 (3)||Animal Companion

    5th|Shape-changing Ranger 5|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +1
    |Gather Information (1) 8, Hide (1) 8, Know (nature) 1 (8), Listen (1) 8, Move Silently (2) 8, Spot (1) 7, Use Rope 1 (4)||Wild Shape 1/day (Small/medium animals), Favored Enemy Arcanists +2 (+4), Favored Enemy Aberrations +2

    6th|Nature's Warrior 1|
    +6/+1
    |
    +6
    |
    +4
    |
    +1
    |Diplomacy 5|Natural Bond|Nature's Armament (Serpent's coils), Wilding, Wild Shape 2/day

    7th|Justiciar 1|
    +7/+2
    |
    +6
    |
    +4
    |
    +3
    |Bluff 1, Diplomacy 1 (6), Survival 3 (10), Use Rope 2 (6)||Bring ’em back alive, nonlethal strike +1d6

    8th|Justiciar 2|
    +8/+3
    |
    +6
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |Ride 2 (3), Survival 1 (11), Use Rope 4 (10)||Improved grapple, crippling strike

    9th|Justiciar 3|
    +9/+4
    |
    +7
    |
    +5
    |
    +4
    |Disguise 2, Ride 3 (5), Use Rope 2 (12)|Lunging Strike|Exotic Weapon, Proficiency (manacles), street savvy +2

    10th|Justiciar 4|
    +10/+5
    |
    +8
    |
    +6
    |
    +4
    |Bluff 2 (3), Disguise 1 (3), Hide 1 (9), Move silently 2 (9), Use Rope 1 (13)||Nonlethal strike +2d6

    11th|Exemplar 1|
    +10/+5
    |
    +8
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |Bluff 3 (6), Gather Information 5 (13), Survival 2 (13), Use Rope 1 (14)||Skill artistry (+4 to Use Rope), skill mastery (Gather Information, Use Rope, Survival)

    12th|Justiciar 5|
    +11/+6/+1
    |
    +8
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |Bluff 2 (8), Disguise 2 (5), Survival 2 (15), Use Rope 1 (15)|Combat Reflexes|Hog-tie

    13th|Justiciar 6|
    +12/+7/+2
    |
    +9
    |
    +7
    |
    +7
    |Disguise 3 (8), Spot 2 (10), Survival 1 (16), Use Rope 1 (16)||Street savvy +4

    14th|Justiciar 7|
    +13/+8/+3
    |
    +9
    |
    +7
    |
    +7
    |Disguise 1 (9), Hide 2 (11), Move Silently 2 (11), Survival 1 (17), Use Rope 1 (17)||Nonlethal strike +3d6

    15th|Justiciar 8|
    +14/+9/+4
    |
    +9
    |
    +7
    |
    +8
    |Disguise 1 (10), Gather Information 2 (15), Hide 1 (12), Move Silently 1 (12), Survival 1 (18), Use Rope 1 (18)|Robilar's Gambit|Improved hog-tie

    16th|Justiciar 9|
    +15/+10/+5
    |
    +10
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    |Hide 1 (13), Move Silently 1 (13), Spot 3 (13), Survival 1 (19), Use Rope 1 (19)||Street savvy +6

    17th|Justiciar 10|
    +16/+11/+6/+1
    |
    +10
    |
    +8
    |
    +9
    | Hide 1 (14), Know (local) 3 (8), Move Silently 1 (14), Survival 1 (20), Use Rope 1 (20) ||Intuition, nonlethal strike +4d6

    18th|Nature's Warrior 2|
    +17/+12/+7/+2
    |
    +11
    |
    +8
    |
    +9
    |Disguise 3 (13), Use Rope 1 (21), Survival 1 (21)|Scent|+1 level of existing divine spellcasting class, Wild Shape 3/day

    19th|Nature's Warrior 3|
    +18/+13/+8/+3
    |
    +11
    |
    +9
    |
    +10
    |Hide 3 (17), Use Rope 1 (22), Survival 1 (22)||Nature's Armament (Wild Growth)

    20th|Nature's Warrior 4|
    +19/+14/+9/+4
    |
    +12
    |
    +9
    |
    +10
    |Disguise 3 (16), Use Rope 1 (23), Survival 1 (23)||+1 level of existing divine spellcasting class[/table]


    Spells per day
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    20th|-|1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-[/table]


    Milestones
    Level 5
    Spoiler
    Show

    You are a Ranger, at the moment, and will function accordingly. Your lack of TWF doesn't hurt too much, and more importantly, lets you focus your assets in other areas then dex. This isn't to say that dex isn't important, but wild shape allows you to simply assume the shape of something with a better str or dex. This lets you not put all your eggs in one basket, as it were, and diversify your assets in the form of wisdom.

    Your ability score breakdown is what some may call counterintuitive, but it certainly merits mention.

    Str: 14. You are indeed melee focused, but due to your wild shape ability, you can turn into an ape as soon as you unlock the ability at 5 and rock a 21 str for 5 hours.

    Dex: 12. You don't TWF, and aren't taking any of the chain on your own due to focusing on natural attacks, which benefit less from TWF. a positive modifier ensures you are able to make some use of combat reflexes in the instances you are not wild shaped into something with a good dex.

    Con 16. Points are necessary here for your hit points, which, remember do NOT increase if you turn into something with a better con than you have, so this needs to be high due to your melee focus in combat.

    Int: 14 while not a traditionally important stat for rangers (due to their limited list despite their large number of points) this is highly important for your eventual absolutely critical level in exemplar. you gain skill mastery with 1+ your int mod in skills when you take the class, so you need to have one. the skills that you are interested in (for skill mastery, and in general) are gather information, survival, and use rope (elaborated on later)

    wis:14 most spells are will saves, and while your will saves are not terrible throughout this build, you always want to avoid a penalty here. your spell casting is not a huge part of your general strategy, but the ranger list has a number of nice level 1 buffs that aren't especially dependent on saves/CL.

    cha: 8 your dump stat, as tradition dictates for a ranger. While gather information is keyed off of this, a -1 isn't going to kill you, especially between all the ranks you put in it, the DCs not being very high, and skill mastery enabling you to take 10.

    As far as combat goes, you will focus on melee due to your wild shape. It gives you better numbers than most characters at your CR and will help put you on par with monsters. you don't need to invest stat points in physical stats as much as a normal ranger, so gain the advantages of good int and wis without having to sacrifice damage.

    You've got the points to sneak around, and remember: small size gives you a +4 bonus on hide checks, which can make it much easier to reconnoiter a quarry without being detected.

    Speaking of detection, you're no slouch at that either. Ranger is one of the rare classes that has both spot and listen on its list (unlike, say, nature's warrior, which engages in the hideously annoying trend of having listen, but no spot for no discernible reason) and thanks to wild shape freeing up points for int, you have enough points to max ranks. Hooray!

    Able learner sets the groundwork to keep you from falling behind in your important skills when you pick up your nature's warrior levels, and also allows you to treat everything as class skills forever once you've got your (once more absolutely vital) exemplar level under your belt

    your animal companion at this level is a horse (but anything that you like can work, horse is selected for extra cowboy flavor and large size makes it something of a better flanking buddy) so have him block people off and enjoy that +2 to attacks. it makes all the difference at low levels.

    skill focus lets you make really high gather info rolls (since you are still rolling at this point) with relative ease, so between this, maxed ranks in hide/MS, and the ability to fly by assuming bird forms, you're really good at finding enemies, and exceptionally difficult to notice.

    remember, if an enemy "sees" you as a hawk or weasel or whatever following him around, you are entitled to a disguise check (with a +10 bonus) to masquerade as an ordinary animal. if someone sees a hawk flying around while they're on the run, they'd need to be exceptionally paranoid (have lots of spot) to expect random animals to be conspiring against them. a +10 to your check is higher than the 8 they can have (maxed spot) at 5, assuming no wis bonus, so your odds of being able to remain unseen until the time to strike arises are pretty darn good.

    mundane movement speeds (burrow, swim, fly, and climb) are your friends. When your quarry moves somewhere that he thinks is hard to get to, your job is to find the right animal for the job.

    He's in a cave with only one entrance and he's guarding it with a shotgun? badger time. burrow in and pop up behind him to take him in.

    he's atop a hill or mountain with only 1 narrow path leading up it, so he'll see anyone who follows him up and can pick them off at leisure with rifle fire? turn into a hawk and fly above him. Make a dive and resume your human form to knock him down. dropping a full grown ma from a height (of your choosing) feet first right down onto a criminal's collarbones isn't going to leave him in much of a condition to put up a fight.

    he tries to get lost in the woods? Aspect of the wolf (spell compendium p16) turns you into a wolf and gives you a number of cool abilities, most notably, improved trip, low-light vision, and scent. this is usable as early as level 4, thanks to being able to put points into wis, and remember: if you have the scent ability and the track feat, you can track people down while ignoring almost all of the negative modifiers that normally interfere with tracking (ground hardness, visibility, and light) making it stupidly easy for you to find somebody if you put your mind to it. the duration of 10 minutes/level is especially attractive, even at very low levels, essentially letting you use wild shape deluxe without using up your daily use.

    climbing as a monkey or snake (who can also swim) can provide you with a better vantage point or place to hide when flying is not possible (such as inside a barn or loft, where it is difficult or impossible to maintain minimum forward movement for a flying form, as no animal offers perfect maneuverability, which allows hovering

    a climb speed is also useful when dealing with enemies on a cliff or wall. you do not lose your dex mod to AC, while they do, and you also gain the ability to take 10 on a climb check with a +8 racial bonus (and a decent str to boot) so you'll usually overtake them with amazing ease) again, the dire ape is an excellent choice for this. your opponent is limited to 1/4 their normal speed, while you can cruise along at 1/2, so you should catch up in a matter of rounds.

    a swim speed also comes in especially useful if your quarry assumes you are using dogs and tries to follow the river for a while, it's often useful to assume the form of a snake to keep up with him.

    remember that in addition to size bonuses, many animals have racial skill bonuses (such as snakes' bonus to hide)

    this is considered, like racial feats, an extraordinary special quality, so you do NOT gain them in addition to the other goodies. note: this does not refer to the bonuses you get from climb/swim, those come with the movement speeds, and are not racial.

    this does lead to the rather peculiar problem that animals with camouflage, such as the incredibly versatile leopard, do not pass their hiding ability on to you. despite the fit that you look like one. this is what makes maxing hide/MS even more important throughout your career, and makes able learner even more important.

    Stand Still is an oddball little feat that is useful when it comes online, and only gets more useful as your wild shape and feats give you more options, but those will be addressed at later checkpoints.

    The upshot is, that when an opponent provokes an AoO by leaving a square you threaten, you can instead whack them with an attack, and they must make a ref save equal to 10 + your damage roll and if they fail, they can't leave. When combined with Robilar's gambit and combat reflexes later on, this will let you do a variety of cool things that'll be explained more later on when those abilities are activated.

    The upshot so far is that you're able to have a variety of ways of moving around, and have good str/dex when you need it without having to pay for it essentially, and good mental scores for skills and saves.

    MVP forms for lv 5:
    Snake: constrict, and imp grab with constrictor, poison with viper, and swim and climb 20 with both, along with pretty good grapples.
    leopard: pounce, rake, imp grab
    baboon: great speed, climb, and THUMBS! (can use weapons and manipulate objects. this is absolutely vital for later)
    hawk: flight
    squid/shark: water breathing, swim


    Level 10
    Spoiler
    Show

    You're certainly knee-deep in justiciar by now and have its kickass improved grapple and crippling strike ability. Each ability will be explained and why it is useful to the build:

    Bring 'em back alive While in theory, the merciful enhancement exists for this purpose, it's problematic to have on everything, and a merciful pair of manacles is just weird. This lets you deal nonlethal damage while wild shaped, which is as useful as it is hilarious. Those shark teeth, black bear claws, or crushing coils are now padded for your target's safety.

    Your MVP list looks pretty much the same as it did at level 5 since you've only got 1 more effective druid level for the purpose of wild shaping. While 6HD does in theory unlock brown bear, you do not have wild shape (large) though you do have another use per day, which is pretty nice.

    Nonlethal Strike At this level, an extra 2d6 damage isn't really anything to turn up your nose at. It really helps to put a target down more quickly.

    Crippling Strike This provides more of an incentive to line up nonlethal strikes. Your animal companion ought to be a big help in this regard, serving as a pretty sweet flanking buddy.

    Natural bond is online now, so you've got enough HD for an axebeak. Large size lets him threaten 4 squares and flank from any one of them, so he's great at tying up targets for you to nonlethal strike. Speaking of tying up, keep your eye on the next level.

    Str damage also has the happy effect of making it far more difficult for your target to resist your grapple checks (depending on how many crippling strikes you're able to get off against them). Axebeaks also have the absolutely ridiculous movement speed of 65 feet, plus they move 5x their speed when running, just because. This obviously fits with the justiciar theme of chasing down targets, because at low levels, it is problematic for a non-caster to reliably move at that speed for long periods of time.

    While ranger's animal companions are entitled to feats, and the 5HD your axebeak has entitle him to 2, the arms and equipment guide oddly has no feats printed for him (the feats section of his stat block is missing entirely) So rather than skirt an elegance penalty assuming feats exist for axebeak, I'll play it safe and assume that for these purposes he does not have any and put suggestions under adaptation.

    Improved Grapple Sometimes you'll find a wild shape that has a good str, but no imp grab. improved grapple helps at least a little, and stays with you regardless of what form you take.

    EWP manacles Sometimes, you won't have a weapon handy, and/or will be out of wild shapes. Baboon (and later dire ape) both have THUMBS and as a result can use weapons, allowing you to make use of their superior strength score without losing the hogtie ability you acquire soon after.


    Street Savvy Oh, come one, I hear you saying. what use could this have? That too will be answered next level, along with the reason he has so many ranks in it. Regardless, there is great profit to be had in making use of this ability.

    There is the smallest bit of non-justiciar garnish in this section of the big fat justiciar roast that I'm serving up this month. Why nature's warrior?

    It progresses wild shape, as another level of ranger would have done, but it also gives nature's armament. Like some classes, it lets you pick class features from a list in whatever order you want. Serpents coils comes first for this build since grappling is a very useful strategy you have at your disposal, and giving the constrict ability to any form with improved grab really helps ramp up the damage at low levels.

    It also provides diplomacy as a class skill for exemplar, which, in tandem with able learner, means that it never costs extra and never holds you back for being CC.

    Lunging strike helps improve your reach, letting you threaten more enemies, and keep an eye out for any action that provokes an AoO. High-dex forms aren't as important yet as they will be later on, but it's still good to keep a list handy.


    Level 15
    Spoiler
    Show

    Here is the fabled exemplar level. Only one is taken since this build is primarily melee focused, and losing BA is bad. As-is, you finish at 19/20, so get all 4 iteratives with as good as a chance to hit with the last one as any BA20 character is.

    But why take it at all?

    The answer to this lies in your new class features from justiciar:

    Hog tie This ability is a little involved. First, you must pin, then whip out your rope/chain/manacles. Pay particular attention to how you can make a use rope check instead of a grapple check

    That's right. The focus on a couple tried and true D&D tricks, such as the wintimidator, lies in keying opposed checks that your opponents have to make a roll against keyed off of skill checks when they normally shouldn't be able to.

    Grapple checks are somewhat difficult to get very high, especially for opponents who aren't' specced for it. Being able to use a Use Rope check instead of a normal grapple check means that it's much harder to resist. In theory, your target can oppose with an escape artist check. But very few monsters actually have ranks in EA. Those that do often have some form of racial bonus due to either being snakelike, or being blob-like, like a gibbering mouther, making them ineligible targets for your hogtie anyway, since they have to be vaguely human shaped (this is not defined, but I'm assuming it means 2 arms/legs and a head with maybe a tail or wings)

    This does somewhat confusingly mean you can't actually hog-tie a hog or other quadrapedal creature with this ability, which is sort of obnoxious, but talk to your DM and see if common sense can prevail in this instance. There are a lot of simple looking 4 legged creatures and being able to hogtie them would be pretty nice in ending an encounter early.

    Improved Hogtie Same as above but you don't need to pin. You are allowed to use one of your attack actions during the grapple to make your tie attempt.

    Grapple rules are hard and confusing, so you need to be familiar with them. Rather than balloon play tips with explanations of how the hell they work allow me to just hit on the point that'll be important for this character:

    while your enemy loses dex during a grapple, he doesn't lose it against you, so you do not deal nonlethal strike and crippling strike damage against your opponent during a grapple.

    while you can use your multiple attacks from high BA to try to start grapple several times, you cannot attack more than once while engaged in a grapple unless you have rake from your WS form (leopard probably) so there's that.

    remember that if you're in a form with improved grab, serpent's coils gives you +4 on grapple checks (untyped! so it stacks with the +4 from imp grapple) and gives you the constrict ability, letting you deal 1d8+str damage automatically when succeeding on a grapple check (you will)

    Speaking of +4 bonuses to stuff, Exemplar!

    Why take it?

    Skill artistry gives +4 with Use rope checks (Yes.) and gives you skill mastery with 1 + int mod of skills. That lets you take 10 on Use Rope checks even when rushed and/or threatened, like in a combat scenario. You've been maxing ranks in it consistently, so at 15, your Use Rope modifier is 18 (from ranks) +4 competence (skill artistry) +10 (if you use skill mastery) +2 circumstance (masterwork manacles) for an absolutely enormous +34 without even touching a die.

    Even something much larger than you (hogtie/imp hogtie are capped at 1 size larger, but honestly, you're not going to grapple anything bigger than that) with a ton of strength, like a troll will only equal you on a 20. Picking on someone your own size is even easier. A medium or small (snicker) foe may pull a lucky roll, but it'll be very hard for them to beat a 34 3 times, and that's just what you can do to them. You get multiple grapples in a round if you have a high BA (which you do) so can an enemy roll a 34 grapple/escape artist check? No. Nobody puts ranks in it, and no monster with a good escape artist check is likely to be eligible for hogtie anyway.

    While "use a masterwork tool" usually elicits cries of cheese, masterwork manacles are specifically mentioned in justiciar's entry, and it is called out that you are allowed to use them while making a hogtie attempt.

    Skill Mastery with survival allows you to track your enemies more consistently, removing the chance for to roll poorly, which can sometimes mean the difference between finding and not finding your quarry.

    Gather information is another skill that's unfortunately quite subject to pesky variation with something of a binary result: either you find info, or you don't, there are no partial successes. Taking 10 with it, especially since you've been more or less maxing ranks, means that you can learn essentially anything you want to with relative ease; track the target's trail with similar ease, and when it comes to hogtying them: you guessed it. Easy.

    Combat reflexes is up and running now, so enjoy it. combine it with forms with reach (like snakes) and surprise your enemies by pulling another 5 feet of reach out of nowhere. Few things are as satisfying as lying in wait as a snake (those points in hide serve a purpose) having your enemy think he's skirting by you, slapping him with a bite, imp grab (+4 from serpent's coils! +4 from improved grapple!) and then reeling them in for constriction.

    Justiciar gives disguise, so enjoy it! It's a useful skill and can let you get the drop on targets before they know there's a fight, especially if you are in animal form.
    Last edited by Amphetryon; 2012-09-23 at 06:21 AM.
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV.

    Who made my awesome Dwarf Hexblade avatar, you ask? BRC did!
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  9. - Top - End - #159
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    And now, Part 2:
    Level 20
    Spoiler
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    Here it is. You're done with Justiciar and have its last unique ability (as opposed to improvements to existing ones which I haven't bothered talking about)

    Intuition Your survival check is pretty excellent, especially with skill mastery enabling you to take 10. by the time you get this, you'll have a 30 to the check, so getting away from you, in combo with your other abilities, should be really hard.

    Remember your synergy bonuses! Since track is seldom used at all (much less optimized as it is here) the rules are not well known. Relevant info regarding tracking:

    bonus to know (nature)
    bonus when on other planes (thanks, awkward nature's warrior prerequisites!)
    5 ranks in search (thanks awkward justiciar prerequisites! and now we know why we need 5 ranks in search to get in) gives you a bonus when following tracks.

    This is especially important due to your level 18 feat. Scent is a pretty nice ability, and burning a wild shape use to get scent for 1 hour/HD (not effective druid level) is pretty awesome indeed. With 3 wild shapes per day, each lasting 9 hours, and gaining scent for 18 hours a day when it comes online, you can be wild shaped all day, and have scent the whole time. it's especially helpful when dealing with invisible opponents since you can detect them when they're within 30 feet of you. Masking your scent is pretty difficult to do in the first place in this game, and fewer individuals still will actually think of it.

    But the real reason you're taking this feat is slightly different. if you have track (you do!) then you can track creatures by scent, and you retain this ability regardless of your form, meaning you can enjoy it even when not wild shaped.

    Check out the track DC modifier table again. See how they're all about visual input?

    tracking with scent works a bit differently and it's a bit harder to pump your check as high as the 30 you have when following mundane tracks, surface conditions and visibility don't slow you down, so, the DC won't be as high. This is also part of the reason for allocating points to wisdom.

    As in life, the most common way of shaking an enemy with scent who's following you is to run through a river, but once more, wild shape saves the day. If you shape into something that breathes underwater, you keep right on trucking, and don't need to burn a wild shape for the scent special ability, since tracking with scent persists regardless of current form.

    What you're all about is having a very particular set of skills; skills that you have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make you a nightmare for people like your enemies. If they agree to arrest, then that's the end of it. You will not look for them; you will not pursue them. But if they don't, you will look for them. You will find them, and you will kill them.




    Bring 'em back, Alive

    Or:

    The Sheriff and the Succubus
    Spoiler
    Show


    The sheriff didn't have an easy job. There was no right way to say what'd happened. Demons had few indeed who would call them friend, but nonetheless, what had happened to the succubus who now lay weeping in front of him was simply cruel.

    He wrapped a blanket around her too-bare flesh. Succubi weren't exactly well known for wearing an abundance of clothes, but he had never seen one without its skin on before.

    The sheriff leveled a baleful glare at the cadre of paladins that had brought her in. One of them still gripped the iron chain that dangled lazily from the collar around the succubus's neck, showing no sign of letting go.

    "Did you do this?" There was no malice in his tone, just a simple cause and effect. The only language understood by men like the grim-faced paladins that stood, unblinking before him.

    The largest of them gave a barely perceptible shake of the head, the motion so slight that the chain in his hand didn't even rattle.

    "It was like this when we found it."

    "Do you have any idea who or what did this to her?" He placed deliberate emphasis on the last word. Protect and serve didn't have an asterisk attached. It would be far more fitting for those suns proudly emblazoned on the paladins' cuirasses to be asterisks. The groups who they did not consider worthy of their protection were nearly as numerous as their enemies in the first place.

    The paladin holding the succubus's leash slammed it down on the sheriff's desk and drove an iron nail through the last link, holding it fast with a loud bang from the pommel of his sword.

    "She gave us a name after a while."

    The sheriff grit his teeth. There shouldn't have been much trouble. He knew of the succubus's ability to speak in tongues. The only reason there would have been trouble is if she had some reason not to want to cooperate with them. Given what he'd seen so far, he didn't exactly wonder why.

    "What was it?" the sheriff said. No matter who was getting skinned, he had to put a stop to it.

    The paladin knelt on the ground around the shuddering succubus and laid out the circle of powdered silver, a mutter of magic laying out an intricate pattern of shining suns boxing her in.

    "Miguel Gustan. Mean anything to you, sheriff?"

    The sheriff squinted as the light of Pelor burned brightly before fading to a dull hum, a softly glowing light emanating from the circle. It seemed more blinding than comforting, and he was sure the succubus felt much the same way.

    "No. Sounds fake."

    "That was my thought as well. Our divinations haven't turned anything up."

    "How many have you cast?"

    The sheriff noticed a small upwards quirk of the paladin's upper lip. Had he blinked, he would have missed it. Disgraceful. He hoped the paladin hadn't prepared [i]detect thoughts[i] today, but doubted it.

    "We've reached our daily limit."

    The sheriff bit his tongue.

    "Either way. It's your problem now." He cast a dismissive gaze at the succubus on the floor.

    "Am I right to assume that I cannot rely on the church's assistance in this endeavor?" he tried to mimic the paladin's stentorian tone and elaborate diction. The words felt cumbersome and uncomfortable in his mouth.

    The paladin's contempt was less concealed now as he let out a more overt smirk.

    "We wouldn't dream of infringing on your jurisdiction, sheriff."

    "Thought so. You know your way out." They certainly used it often enough.

    A department of one was hardly an unstoppable army, especially with a rogue demon in his slam.

    After another second, it was just the two of them.

    The sheriff tried not to stare. It wasn't right to stare at a lady without her clothes on. It could only be truer for one without her skin on.

    He tried not to deliberately avert his gaze. The last thing she needed was insult added to her significant injury.

    "I could get a fire going. I know it's cold out. I think you might be more comfortable with your skin on. I know you can change 'em. I understand why you didn't wanna do it in fronta them."

    "Can't," she hissed, her forked tongue tinging the word with her peppery Abyssal accent.

    He backed toward the fireplace and tossed in some wood. He murmured a dirty little magic word and spat out a spark.

    "Ma'am, if you wanted to put on a different shape, I could turn away." He knew she couldn't get out of the circle, so he was in no real danger.

    "Can't!"

    The room shook as the power of her voice boomed through it. Though she may be caged and wounded, the sheriff couldn't afford to forget that she was still dangerous.

    "What do you mean?"

    "My power lies in my skin. Not something that we like to let get out, but it's not like you wouldn't have figured it out. You seem sharper than those blunt instruments that brought me to your humble abode."

    Even through the magic of the silver circle, the sheriff felt his head begin to fog as though he'd had too much whiskey.

    "None of that." He tried not to smile. It was only natural to try to escape from a cage: man, beast or demon.

    He had seen demon hunters before, of varying degrees of success. The paladins embossed miniature suns on their armor for every fiend they felled. He had seen other hunters from the tribes across the river. They had scalps hanging from their belts, some allegedly fiendish, some discernibly less so. There was often one of their number cooling off in the jail, usually little more than a drunk tank.

    He had never heard of a fiend's entire skin being removed, and though he knew it would be tactless to ask, wondered why she had been left alive. He could rule out the tribes across the river. For better or worse, they wasted nothing of their victims. This was the crime of someone from the city. Someone with a hideout, or house, and plenty of time.

    Taking the skin off a wolf or a sow took hours, he couldn't imagine it was much easier with a succubus, especially if she was kicking and screaming the whole time.

    "Why would he want your skin?"

    "Can't say I know. Usually when someone wants the flesh of a succubus, it's in a more metaphorical sense."

    Though the succubus's lips were missing, along with the rest of her face, he could still feel the power behind her gaze and her slippery words. He swallowed and knew that even though his intention was to help, he would have to take reasonable precautions with her.

    "Is there anything you can tell me about the man who did this to you?"

    "Not sure it was a man, myself."

    "What do you mean?"

    "He's been making the rounds. Wasn't much man left."

    The sheriff quirked an eyebrow.

    "He looked… stitched together. Badly. I could see why. Neither of the hands attached to his wrists looked like the ones he was born with."

    The sheriff's eyes leapt forward. He knew never to let a criminal see the whites of his eyes, but couldn't help himself.

    "He was grafting?"

    The succubus nodded.

    It wasn't so much that it was illegal. It certainly was. Wildly so. But it was so wildly illegal that the possibility had almost left his mind. Success rates were limited to say the least. Due to its illegality, people in the field had to look to less than reputable sources for their parts, many of which didn't come from anything approaching natural causes, fewer still were well-preserved.

    In those rare cases when the body didn't reject a graft outright, attacking it as an invader and leading to the subject's death of blood poisoning, they were never the same, mentally as well as physically.

    "What did he look like?" the sheriff reached for a stick of charcoal.

    "He had a long, segmented tongue with pincers on the end. He got me in the back of the neck with it, and I couldn't move. It kept knocking against a pair of vampire teeth when he tried to talk. I could understand him, tongues and all, but I'm sure you wouldn't be able to."

    The sheriff set the charcoal down for a moment after he had finished the teeth. There couldn't be two men that looked like Gustan. Could there?

    "What did he say?"

    "Just what you'd expect. Telling me to put lotion on my skin, or he'd hose me with holy water."

    The sheriff swallowed. "You didn't find that unusual?"

    She shrugged. "I didn't think much of it at first. I'm used to being summoned to fulfill the Rite of Friendly Contact with an Evil Outsider, and know some folks like a little foreplay first. 'sides, it wasn't like there was much I could do, I was stuck in a summoning circle. I thought he was just trying to be tough."

    "Was there anything else?"
    "He had one skeleton arm. I don't know what it was from, it only had three fingers, and his other arm was this huge muscled… thing. Its knuckles dragged on the floor when he walked, so he had to do all his fine motor manipulation with the bony one."

    The sheriff kept his hand steady as he ran it across the contour of an imaginary ulna.

    "There was a scorpion tail coming out of his back. He kept knocking things over with it, I think it might have been a new addition. It was joined just above the snake tail."

    The sheriff blinked and looked at his picture.

    "Did you say he had a snake tail and a scorpion tail?"

    "Yes."

    "Under each other?"

    "No. He didn't have any legs, just a snake tail, and the scorpion tail was held on just above it. There were bandages around it, where it must've been attached. I don't know how the hell he did it, but he must've done it himself, like the wings."

    "Wings?"

    "Yeah. They came from a vrock I went to finishing school with. I recognized the tattoo on the back of one of them."

    "What did it say?"

    For the first time so far, the succubus looked away, her blasé attitude evaporating for a moment.

    "It's not important."

    "Ma'am, it could have come up. I don't know how, but maybe he disguised himself. Wore a cloak and let the wings come out the back and pretended to be a vrock or an angel and someone gave him shelter. An inn, a hospital where he was treated for the host of infections he no doubt has by now. Please. I'm trying to help you."

    "Just my name."

    He waited as long as he could to see if she would answer without him having to ask. The last thing he needed to do was make it worse. When it became clear he would have no choice, he did.

    "What is it?"

    The succubus, even without a face, looked uncomfortable.

    "Lily," she murmured, the word clear even without her lips.

    "Short for Lillian?"

    She did her best to smile. "Most people assume Lilith."

    Though it was against procedure, he returned it. "I'm not most people.

    "There was one other thing," she said, pulling him back to the reason for their discourse.

    "What?"

    "I was able to get a swipe at him, I got him in the neck, but the wound closed itself back up. The blood was-"

    "Bright green?"

    "How could you have known that?"

    "Silthilar. Hard to find. There's only one place nearby that sells it. Is there any reason to believe he'd have gotten far?"

    "Not really. Like I said, his wings weren't looking at all functional. I'm sure he had to sleep off the damage taken from the scorpion tail. Whatever he was, he still needed to sleep. He would sleep in the summoning room after he was done with me for the day."

    "Did he-"

    "Honestly, I'm not even sure if he can anymore. He's crazy. He kept talking about "perfection," and how he was getting closer."

    "So he's going to keep doing this?"

    "Why shouldn't he? It's not like the LG brigade cares if he's cutting up demons. They think he's doing them a favor, I heard them say it themselves. I appreciate the thoroughness, but I'm not exactly expecting much from you, Sheriff."

    "Alive."

    "Hm?"

    "You told me your name. I might as well tell you mine. And I may be lawful, but I never said I was good."

    She gave a laugh, her tongue making a hissing noise as the air whiffled through it.

    "That still doesn't mean I'm ever getting out of this cage."

    "Who said that?"

    She once more dropped her jaded facade, kept up until now ten through the bare muscles of her face and showed genuine surprise.

    "You can't be serious."

    "Dead serious. Pelorites said it themselves. Case is in my jurisdiction. I can solve it any way I see fit. Way I see it, something was stolen from you, and you oughta get it back. I sure don't have any way of keeping a skin fresh for the ride back with Gustan from whatever spider hole he's hiding in, so it looks like I'll have to bring you with me."

    Despite her lack of lips, he could tell by the crinkling around her eyes that she was grinning.

    "You said something about bringing him back. Was it dead or alive?"

    "When in doubt, I go with alive," her face fell, "but not well," it rose again.

    "Hold out your hand."

    She did so. He reached into his office drawer for a rubber stamp with an A on it. He used it to sign documents with the sheriff's seal. He tossed it into the circle into her palm.

    "Go ahead and put the mark over your heart."

    She examined it. "A scarlet letter? How Puritanical. Doesn't seem like you at all."

    "More for your benefit than mine. Anyone sees me consorting with a succubus, you're gonna have to be able to display your mark of justice pronto to show that you're being kept on a short leash."

    "Then we're keeping this?" She pulled at the collar around her neck.

    He tossed in the key. "Couldn't if I wanted to. Captain sunshine made sure I'm not going to be able to get that chain out of my desk, and I don't fancy bringing it along."

    She unlocked the collar and a plume of smoke came out, showing a blackened ring around her neck. It did not heal.

    "Comes from the skin too," she said before he could ask.

    "Bastard."

    "What are the terms?"

    "Hm?"

    "For the mark of justice."

    "Just not to try and escape or do me any harm."

    "Sounds fine." She pressed the ink to her breast and came away with a crisp, red A.

    He spat on the floor, the touch of a mortal disrupting the circle and letting Lily step out.

    He gave her his spare uniform.

    "Cover up, it'll help us lie low."

    "Mind if I cut a hole for my tail? I can't shift it away."

    "There's a knife in the boot."

    She knelt and retrieved it, making a small slit for her spade-tipped tail to slither out of. It was hidden well enough by the hooded cloak she clasped around her neck, as were her wings, which she wrapped around herself under the arms, like a dress, the two bat-like protrusions on the top clasping together like a brooch .

    "You trust me with this?" She spun the knife around her finger.

    "How else're we gonna get back what's yours?"

    "Alive, I think this might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

    He didn't bother hiding his smile. "We'll see."

    ***

    A pair of law enforcement boys in matching uniforms sat down on stools in "The Shaky Gun." Their synchronized movement let the bartender know they'd been working together a while. A fight between these two was unlikely. He could afford to take his eyes off them a moment. Both of their faces were hidden behind hoods. Not particularly unusual, as there was a dust storm outside.

    As he turned away, one of them tapped the bar with what he knew from the sound to be a gold piece. He turned on his heel and gave his best cordial smile, pulling up the ends of his moustache and pushing his glasses up his nose.

    "Evening, sirs. What'll it be?"

    "How about a nice, big, steaming bowl of information?"

    The barkeep rolled his eyes. Like he hadn't heard that one before.

    "Why can't you people ever just have a drink and leave?" He turned his head both ways like an owl and made sure no one was listening. There wasn't much of a demand for a bar that couldn't keep your secrets.

    "I know you have a silthilar blood for sale here. You've got a guy."

    "That's illegal, sir. I'm sure I don't know anything about that."

    "Relax. I ain't here for that."

    "Oh, I gotcha. How much you need?"

    The second one slammed a knife into the bar deep enough for it to stand on end. It caught the bartender's attention, though no one else in the noisy bar batted an eye.

    He took a step back as he saw the hand wrapped around the knife was missing its skin.

    "None. He took something from me. Three guesses what."

    He could think of only one person, though he used the term loosely, who would want a woman's skin.

    "I… I had no idea. I thought he'd acquired them legitimately, I swear."

    "Save it. Where is this thing?" The skinless woman unrolled a scroll with a hideous monstrosity that was all too familiar to him. The blood-spattered giant's cloak he wore did a poor job of hiding the numerous additions to his form. He had paid well for the blood, and had departed quickly, leaving a trail of foul-smelling juices of various colors and viscosities on the dirt floor.

    "There's a minin' shaft outside of town. Been closed down more than a coupla years. I ain't seen him in town since he bought the blood. He was bleeding' pretty bad. He couldn't have got far."

    "Much obliged," said the man, leaving the coin on the bar. He handed him a drink for those who may have been listening. After all, he couldn't be seen being too cooperative with the law.

    As soon as they'd left, he reached under the bar and unrolled a scroll. He read the confusing, jittery writing that a pair of mismatched hands had scribed. The writing evaporated from before his eyes and the inky words slipped between his lips. His mouth felt greasy and thick. He had only 25 words to spare.

    "Gustan. There's a pair of local yokels on their way to you. They're heading towards the mine. Get ready for them."

    ***

    Alive found a misshapen track leading to the mine. It looked like a larger version of a sidewinder's hopping gait, to avoid touching the hot sand that lay outside for longer than necessary. It was uneven, due to Gustan's unfamiliarity with the new body and his injured state.

    "He's in here. I can feel it."

    "Is it normally this easy?" Lily asked.

    "For me, it is. Why? You smell something?"

    "Metaphorically. If he was able to lie low this long, why would he break cover now? He either ran out of places to run or knows he's cornered. Be careful. Animals are dangerous when they know they're beat."

    Lily drew her cloak tightly around herself, the dust clinging painfully to her bare muscle.

    "I'm going to do something… different here. Don't be alarmed."

    "You're going to change your shape."

    "How'd you know?"

    "I smell it on you."

    He smirked and shrugged off his shape, his cloak sliding wetly into his form, a wolf replacing the man standing next to Lily.

    "Stay here," he barked at her, knowing she would understand.

    "Will do," she barked back. Pincers maneuver. Alive was so cute.

    She played the part of the damsel admirably, even without her skin. She shrugged off her cloak and bared her too-bare skin posing seductively on a rock.

    "I do hope nothing happens to me," she purred in Abyssal, since that's what Gustan had summoned her with, she was sure he understood it.

    As soon as she'd finished her invocation of misfortune upon herself, there was a rustling of wings. A dirty white feather fell on her lap. She looked up and delivered a well-rehearsed gasp.

    Gustan had been hanging from a stalactite, his serpent's tail wrapped around it, his ill-fitting wings doing their best to wrap around him and failing. He dropped down and was able to glide down and land in Lily's lap, his weight greatly increased from his monstrous body parts.

    "Hey zhere hot schtuff. Couldn't shtay away?" he slurred with a tongue too big to stay in his mouth, clicking it against four mismatched vampire fangs. A new pair of mandibles were stitched to his cheeks, clicking together and nuzzling at her cheek. She could feel they too were slightly misaligned.

    Her skin fit him poorly, as she surmised it would. All the same, seeing her own face purring infantile profanities at her was unsettling, as were her own breasts being pressed up against her skin, sagging halfway down Gustan's stomach.

    "You know it," she said with a lipless grin. She pulled him in tight, her fingers winding through her own hair, hanging lank and greasy on the back of Gustan's head. She felt her teeth click against his as she kissed her own lips, waiting.

    And then it came.

    Alive leapt onto Gustan's back and sank his teeth into his neck. Gustan let out a piercing shriek through Lily's lips and into her mouth.

    It was delicious.

    Just as soon as he'd struck, the wolf's face dissolved into the cold gaze of a boa constrictor. While Gustan no longer had any legs, he still had arms. Alive wound his body around his wings and arms and began to squeeze. Lily giggled at the snap of his borrowed bones.

    "Gotcha."

    Alive hissed venomously into Gustan's ear, one of the few things that was still his own.

    "He says you're under arrest," Lily said.

    Gustan croaked out a word, but even through tongues was indeterminable. His chest, unable to expand, had finally given out, the constrictor's preferred method of dispatch successful.

    Alive slipped back into his own shape and took out a pair of manacles, tossing them aside as he saw Gustan's oversized wrist. He lashed his arms, wings, and tails together in a vague approximation of a hogtie.

    "Justice is served," Lily purred.

    "Not quite yet," Alive said. He tossed his knife into the ground.

    "Aren't you going to mark of justice him?" Lily popped the crude seam at the back of Gustan's neck and pulled out the thread. Her skin, no longer held in place, slithered off his body, wriggled through the ropes, and poured itself onto her, sealing wetly closed as her fast healing reactivated. She looked good as new. If Alive didn't know better, he would never know there had been a problem.

    "Nah. Rangers can't cast mark of justice. That mark on your chest is just ink."

    "I know."

    "Then why'd you stay?"

    "Why indeed. What're you gonna say?"

    Alive shrugged as he tossed Gustan's body over the back of his axebeak outside the mine's entrance.

    "Say you outsmarted me. Not exactly far from the truth."

    "Fair enough. What're you gonna do with him?"

    "Take him back to the clink, tell the Pelorites I used you for bait and you got away. Long as they get something for the chopping block, figure it's all the same.

    "Take care," Lily said with a soulful goodbye kiss.

    "What was that for?"

    "Systems check." She popped her lips. "Making sure everything's in working order."

    "See you around." He hopped atop his mount so she couldn't see the redness in his cheek that he couldn't fully attribute to the negative level he'd just gained.

    "Alive?" he heard her say behind him.

    "Yeah?"

    "Thanks."

    He turned around his head to speak, but she had plane shifted away.

    "You're welcome."


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    SRD: Skill Focus, Stand Still, Combat Reflexes, Shape-changing Ranger
    Complete Mage: Favored Enemy (Arcanists)
    Complete Warrior: Nature's Warrior, Justiciar
    Complete Adventurer: Exemplar, Scent, Natural Bond
    Cityscape Web Enhancement: Voice of the City, Skilled City-Dweller
    Races of Destiny: Able Learner
    Player's Handbook II: Lunging Strike, Robilar's Gambit
    Arms and Equipment Guide: Axebeak

    gather info for handle animal
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  10. - Top - End - #160
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    That's the last of them, folks. Ready, set, JUDGE!

    Incidentally, the weird dangling spoiler bit in Alive's build is now fix'd. Apologies to the author for the fact that the build doesn't precisely match her/his intended appearance; ya wrote more than a mere post could contain.
    Last edited by Amphetryon; 2012-09-22 at 09:07 PM.
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Awesome!

    Things I expected to see a LOT more of: Totemist, Factotum and PsyWar or Ardent. Only one Totemist and no Factotums/Ardents/PsyWars makes me very surprised!

    I really, really, really wanted to make a Necrocarnate work. The idea of incapacitating foes and bringing them home to convert into essentia later just seemed too cool.

    Unfortunately, I just couldn't make a decent one. Incarnates would be unable to qualify, because of alignment restrictions (Necrocarnate requires evil, Justiciar requires lawful, and Incarnates can be one or the other but not both). Totemist could work, but I worried about originality points for using Totemist, and anyhow there would be a bunch of wasted feats and abilities because Totemists don't get any necrocarnate soulmelds.

    I was very close to submitting a Soulborn 8/Necrocarnate 2/Justiciar 10, just because I knew I'd get some cool points for submitting an IC build with 8 levels of Soulborn. The plan was to make it a synad, with the fluff that one of my three minds, the one I considered my soul, had disappeared, and I had to track down enemies, bring them back to my lair, and absorb their soul to try to find the one that was missing.

    Crunch was that it used Psycarnum Infusion to max out either Girallon Arms (via Shape Soulmeld) or Sailor's Bracers for high grapple checks or high use rope checks, and.... that was about it. I couldn't even do both at once, since both soulmelds took up the arms slot for me. With only two soulmelds and one bind, there was really not much I could do. Those two soulmelds could be maxed out, sure, but that was where I was left.

    It was such a cool concept and had some neat components to it, but in the end, it just wasn't very good.

    I also thought about doing a PsyWar 5/Justiciar 10/Flayerspawn Psychic 5, with all of the Illithid Grapple feats, but it didn't really work out. PsyWar 5/Flayerspawn Psychic 5 didn't have sufficient BAB to enter Justiciar. PsyWar 6/Flayerspawn 4 did, just barely, but I had some feat troubles regardless. I did manage to get a PsyWar 10/Justiciar 10 build together that had all four Illithid Grapple feats by level 20, but it lost some oomph without Flayerspawn Psychic (since it lost the free Mind Blast), and I was again worried about getting hammered in originality with PsyWar.

    Anyhow, I'm pretty happy with the build I submitted, even though I still kind of wish I'd found a way to make that synad Soulborn more powerful.
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Lots of great builds this time around. I was working on a Martial Rogue 4/Warblade or Swordsage 4/Duraakash 2/Justicar 10 TWFer, but didn't have time to write up the fluff.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Interesting crop this time around, and something I may be able to judge. The build I didn't have time to submit was a Factotum 8/Justiciar 10/Exemplar 2. The main gig was a combination of Martial Study (Sudden Leap), Improved Hogtie, Cunning Surge, and Death Blow. I'd be able to leap in, initiate a grapple, hog tie, and get off two nonlethal attacks against a helpless opponent. Then, Cunning Surge/Death Blow with a Quick Drawn scythe would allow a death attack with a Fort DC of (42+8d4) thanks to the scythe's high crit multiplier and maxed Knowledge Devotion.

    Exemplar provided a competence bonus and the ability to take 10 on Knowledge checks as well as Use Rope, so I could consistently hit a 40+ on Use Rope. However, all the attention paid to the above meant my initial grapple checks were lacking, and the "criminal who hunts other criminals" fluff just came across very "Boondock Saints."
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Quote Originally Posted by OMG PONIES View Post
    Interesting crop this time around, and something I may be able to judge. The build I didn't have time to submit was a Factotum 8/Justiciar 10/Exemplar 2. The main gig was a combination of Martial Study (Sudden Leap), Improved Hogtie, Cunning Surge, and Death Blow. I'd be able to leap in, initiate a grapple, hog tie, and get off two nonlethal attacks against a helpless opponent. Then, Cunning Surge/Death Blow with a Quick Drawn scythe would allow a death attack with a Fort DC of (42+8d4) thanks to the scythe's high crit multiplier and maxed Knowledge Devotion.

    Exemplar provided a competence bonus and the ability to take 10 on Knowledge checks as well as Use Rope, so I could consistently hit a 40+ on Use Rope. However, all the attention paid to the above meant my initial grapple checks were lacking, and the "criminal who hunts other criminals" fluff just came across very "Boondock Saints."
    Well.... That just blows my idea out of the water.

    My idea was a kalashtar Rogue 2/Lurk 8 (tracker archetype)/Justiciar 10 with Able Learner to maximize my Use Rope checks. Taking Deaden Blow as my first level power, he was going to function as a pseudo-Justiciar starting at about 4th level, psychic-reforming out Deaden Blow after I entered Justiciar.

    Apparently, I would have gotten decent Originality points - I see no other kalashtar, and I'm really not surprised to not see another Lurk.

    Fluff-wise, she specialized in hunting down Inspired Agents (and quori-possessed humans) with her Atavist (soulknife) lover. Work completely swamped me in the last week and a half, however, so I didn't get the chance to refine it as much as I liked, and I never even started formatting the damned thing.

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    Frankly, I think the designers and novelists did great work in the post-Spellplague Realms. But, in the end, this wasn’t a new setting. It was the Realms, the Realms 100 years later, and therein lay the problem.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    I think this is the ideal number of contestants. Pretty cool!

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    didnt have time to submit but would you believe i was working on an old west Thri-Kreen Totemist bounty hunter? Dustie is so close to what I was working on it's just scary.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Quote Originally Posted by Narsis View Post
    didnt have time to submit but would you believe i was working on an old west Thri-Kreen Totemist bounty hunter? Dustie is so close to what I was working on it's just scary.
    after shadow sentinel, it's a matter of public record that two contestants CAN submit the same exact level by level build.

    plus ardent dilettante had 2 VoP ghost prostitutes, so that was weird too.
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    after shadow sentinel, it's a matter of public record that two contestants CAN submit the same exact level by level build.

    plus ardent dilettante had 2 VoP ghost prostitutes, so that was weird too.
    And if I remember that correctly, 'twas you and I, friend.

    Although I had it Duskblade 5/Abjurant champion 5/Shadow Sentinel 10, while the other one was Duskblade 5/Shadow Sentinel 10/Abjurant Champion 5. Mine maintained a full caster level throughout the entire build, while Sue was stuck with CL 5 until 20th level.

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    The Power of the Orient: A Wu Jen Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul S. Kemp
    Frankly, I think the designers and novelists did great work in the post-Spellplague Realms. But, in the end, this wasn’t a new setting. It was the Realms, the Realms 100 years later, and therein lay the problem.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Interesting stuff. I was expecting to see Subduing Strike and sneak attack in most of the builds; I'm really surprised not to see it once.
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    I thought we'd see more Crimson Scourge this time around, myself.
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Oh gosh this whole judging thing takes up a lot of time and mental energies. I've judged up to Zaroff, who I'll be starting on later today, after a break. In the meantime, have my judging criteria:

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    Originality: This is very much a first-impression thing. If I look at your build, or general idea, and think, “yes, that seems fairly obvious,” then you won't be getting a good score. If it's something I never would have guessed, then you'll get a good score. If it's something that I sort of expected, but didn't think was painfully obvious, you'll get an average score. This applies to choices within the build, as well as the race and class combinations, however.

    Power: I'm not going to lie, I'm not a very good judge of power. For this competition, I'll be judging this one one of two criteria: does the build have a good deal of strength in a single area; does the build have a wide selection of abilities. If you fit either of those, I'll judge on that; fulfilling both will obviously be better, fulfilling neither is a bad thing.

    Elegance: Let me say up front that formatting is going to be a significant part of this category, for me. I don't think anybody will have an absolutely atrocious presentation, but things like frequent misspellings will get you a penalty here; presentation is definitely a factor, so anything that makes it more difficult to read your build will get you penalized. In a similar vein, having abilities that interact with each other in odd ways, and then not properly explaining them, will get you penalized as well; how am I supposed to judge your build if I can't manage to figure out how it works?

    Also into this category is using any tricks that I think are executed poorly or not strictly possible without a very permissive DM (though at the same time, doing something may get you points elsewhere; a balancing act). I'm usually a permissive person when it comes to dipping, but if you get a lot of abilities you're not putting to use, then expect a penalty (i.e. dipping cloistered cleric for knowledge devotion and not using the casting, or barbarian for pounce and not using rage). On the flip side, however, sticking to a small selection of classes may get you a bonus. Anything above and beyond a typical entry would also go in here, making this a sort of catch-all for stuff that won't fit into other categories.

    Yes, this is a big category.

    Use of Secret Ingredient: Out of all the categories, I imagine this will be the most mechanically judged; I'll go through and see if you used each of the class abilities, and how well you've used them. Unlike the other categories (which will start with an average score and add/subtract) I'll start with a high score here and subtract for anything unused. After the tally for which abilities went unused, I'll also consider whether the backstory of the character makes the path embodied by the ingredient a logical choice.
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  22. - Top - End - #172
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Quote Originally Posted by OMG PONIES View Post
    Interesting crop this time around, and something I may be able to judge. The build I didn't have time to submit was a Factotum 8/Justiciar 10/Exemplar 2. The main gig was a combination of Martial Study (Sudden Leap), Improved Hogtie, Cunning Surge, and Death Blow. I'd be able to leap in, initiate a grapple, hog tie, and get off two nonlethal attacks against a helpless opponent. Then, Cunning Surge/Death Blow with a Quick Drawn scythe would allow a death attack with a Fort DC of (42+8d4) thanks to the scythe's high crit multiplier and maxed
    Huh... Very nice, and that actually gives me another trick to add to a (non-IC) build I've been working on! Too bad it wasn't finished; I would have liked to see it in its entirety.
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  23. - Top - End - #173
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    I guess it is table time for the entries, hyperlinked for ease of judging:

    {table=head]Name|Race|Build

    Doril Shadowbane|Centaur|Paladin 1/Shadow Striker 3/Justiciar 10

    Dustie|Thri-Kreen|Totemist 4/Swordsage 2/Justiciar 10

    Sixteentoes "Unspeakable" Componentgaurder|Ghost Tibbit|Ranger 6/Justiciar 10

    Zaroff|Human|Ranger 4/Monk 2/Fighter 1/Fist of the Forest 3/Justiciar 10

    Sheriff Breagar Bearclaw|Half Orc|Half-Orc Paragon 3/Human Paragon 3/Swordsage 2/Crimson Scourge 1/Justiciar 10/Bear Warrior 1

    Bilblibliip|Kuo-toan|Ranger 5/Justiciar 10

    Ximen Bao|Lesser Drow|Duskblade 3/Cleric 1/Master of Shrouds 6/Justiciar 10

    Armin Long|Human|Cleric 1/Human Paragon 3/Church Inquisitor 6/Justiciar 10

    Alive|Human?|Wildshape Ranger 5/Nature's Warrior 4/Justiciar 10/Exemplar 1[/table]
    Last edited by mattie_p; 2012-09-23 at 12:18 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    So now you're claiming that spellcasting "lacks a clear, supernatural element?" Being supernatural is literally the only point of magic.
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  24. - Top - End - #174
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    My own terrible idea that I'm kind of relieved not to see was a pair of Dvati twins with Tracker Lurk 8/Monk 2 entry to mix one's Expanded, Grip of Ironed, Yuan-Ti-grafted grapple with the other's Nonlethal+Sneak Attack shredding. I was kind of surprised when I couldn't think of a single Spaghetti Western with a brother/twin-based conceit to nod heavily toward.

  25. - Top - End - #175
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Because I can't stop myself from toying around with new builds, even though the contest is closed, here's one I was thinking about while doing cleaning the house...

    Warforged, Ardent 3/Totemist 2/Landforged Walker 5/Justiciar 10

    Use Skilled City Dweller to make Gather Info a class skill for the Totemist.

    FEATS:
    1. Totemist1- Ironwood Body
    2. Ardent1-
    3. Totemist2- Practiced Manifester (Ardent)
    4. Ardent2-
    5. Ardent3-
    6. Landforged Walker1- Track
    7. Landforged Walker2-
    8. Landforged Walker3-
    9. Landforged Walker4- Skill Focus (Gather Information)
    10. Landforged Walker5-
    11. Justiciar1-
    12. Justiciar2- Improved Grapple, Psycarnum Infusion
    13. Justiciar3-
    14. Justiciar4-
    15. Justiciar5- Psionic Meditation
    16. Justiciar6-
    17. Justiciar7-
    18. Justiciar8- Shape Soulmeld (Sailor's Bracers)
    19. Justiciar9-
    20. Justiciar10-

    MANTLES: Law, Natural World, Freedom

    Landforged Walker would give me all sorts of fun plant forms. Octopus tree in particular sounds fun, with crazy grappling and a ton of attacks to deal crippling strike damage from. That said, treant might be the more reasonable option, since a treant should still have most necessary body slots for shaping soulmelds.

    Bind Girallon Arms to the totem chakra. Shape Sailor's Bracers to arms, and Sphinx Claws to hands.

    Turn into a huge treant to smash things with (or octopus tree, if for some insane reason your DM decides that an octopus tree can shape soulmelds to the arms and hands chakras). Keep your essentia in Sphinx Claws for the boost to Strength checks. Manifest grip of iron (Law mantle), expend focus to max out Girallon Arms' grapple check via Psycarnum Infusion, and have a truly ridiculous grapple modifier. Next round, use a move action to refocus, use Psycarnum Infusion again to max out Sailor's Bracers, and hog-tie them.

    A little too similar to Jael Filius from the Pistis Sophia round for me to be willing to submit, but it could be a fun option.
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  26. - Top - End - #176
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Quote Originally Posted by Piggy Knowles View Post
    Because I can't stop myself from toying around with new builds, even though the contest is closed, here's one I was thinking about while doing cleaning the house...

    Warforged, Ardent 3/Totemist 2/Landforged Walker 5/Justiciar 10

    A little too similar to Jael Filius from the Pistis Sophia round for me to be willing to submit, but it could be a fun option.
    Interesting idea, but as you say, the hint of plagiarization in these contests is enough to turn off some judges. Honestly I thought I'd see more totemist in this round, since they make such fine grapplers. And really surprised at no expansion focused psionic characters.
    Chairman of Zinc Saucier. Currently judging made from scratch Flayerspawn Psychics. It is just like Iron Chef but comes with double the prize money.
    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    So now you're claiming that spellcasting "lacks a clear, supernatural element?" Being supernatural is literally the only point of magic.
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  27. - Top - End - #177
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Brain hurts. Tired. No more reading.

    Judgings
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    Doril Shadowbane
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    Originality: A paladin isn't exactly unexpected, but I did expect people to stay away from the class for various reasons, so neutral points there. Centaur and Shadowstriker were certainly unexpected, and you also get points for not just treating the Centaur as a mounted warrior who is always mounted. Your backstory, however, is pretty standard fair. Score: 3.5/5

    Power: You do fairly well here, with a simple and obvious focus. Your large size gives you a sizable boost to your grappling capabilities, and your end-game tactics of hitting with your greatsword before starting the grapple with Snap Kick is useful and clever. You're good at grappling, and could do decent outside of that with your greatsword and high strength, and while Shadowstriker doesn't give you as much as you might hope, it's still a little extra damage, and noteworthy. Score: 4/5

    Elegance: Nothing really stands out here to penalize you, aside from a few grammar errors early in the entry and failing to completely update the statblock for the latter levels you present (your javelin is certainly not +8 at level 20). You don't use any questionable tricks, and use a fairly simple progression. As I mention elsewhere, your backstory, however, is fairly simple and if anything is a bit lacking. Score: 3.5/5

    Use of Secret Ingredient: Although you don't specifically mention making use of a few of the abilities (biggest offender here is Nonlethal Strike and Crippling Strike, since you have no real way to get the drop on enemies), it's fairly obvious how you're using almost all of the abilities. Score: 4/5

    Total score: 15/20
    Average: 3.75/5


    Dustie
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    Originality: I don't really know what to say. Looking at this, I should have expected a cowboy, I really should have, but I didn't. Totemist and Swordsage are also a bit of a surprise, so good on ya. And, of course, there's Thri-Kreen. It's original, but surprisingly so... Score: 4.5/5

    Power: You grapple, and you tear people to shreds with your many attacks. Your grappling isn't quite as good as Doril's in straight up number-comparison, but your use of Crippling Strike and other damage boosters with your large number of attacks gives you a very respectable damage output. Your frailty early on is a bit of a black mark, however. Score: 4.5/5

    Elegance: I like the backstory, I really do. At first, I thought it was going to be a fairly standard “born for greater things” story, but your surprised me, and it's written quite well, as well. The little bit at the beginning of your entry was a short, fun read, too. That's a plus. However, there's a few issues with your build. The first problem, and the one I feel strongest about, is that your tactic of grappling people and THEN tearing them apart with your natural attacks doesn't really work, because the rules for grappling state that “If your base attack bonus allows you multiple attacks, you can attempt one of these actions in place of each of your attacks,” and you're attempting to use extra attacks from other sources. Additionally, my source doesn't give Thri-Kreen players the +30 racial modifier on jump checks, though that may have been an error (in which case I will gladly amend this score). Taking a feat and outright stating “you need a rainbow ioun stone” is a bit on the non-kosher side of equipment reliance. I'm not so certain on your suggestion of delaying to initiative 100 after the surprise round, since you'd need a triggering action, but even if you can't do that it doesn't really change your tactics that much. Power Attack at level 20 seems a bit late, and relatively pointless too. You can't actually use Crippling Strike in a grapple, because you don't lose your Dexterity against those you're grappling with. Lastly, I have a slight problem with how you dance between Swordsage and Totemist levels; it seems a bit unnecessarily convoluted. It's mostly a bunch of small problems I have, but they do add up. Score: 2/5

    Use of Secret Ingredient: You use everything in the secret ingredient quite well, and it fits excellently into your build. The only thing I'm not too hot on is how exactly watching hunters taught Dusty non-lethal methods of combat since, you know, you usually kill things you hunt. Score: 4.25/5

    Total score: 15.5/20
    Average: 3.875/5



    Unspeakable
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    Originality: Ranger was obvious, but other than that? Damn. A Tibbit Ghost using the Fabulous Cats! rules? Consider me impressed. It takes something extreme to make me want to give absolute scores, in either direction, but you've done that, despite the ranger entry. Score: 5/5

    Power: I really don't know what to say, here. Telekinesis is hilariously good, you're really difficult to take out, you possess other creatures, and you grapple amazingly well. If you're not grappling, then you're using Telekinesis to kill them, or at least knock them out. I want to note here that using Nonlethal and Crippling Strike with Telekinesis is a nasty bit of rule manipulation, since they require a melee weapon, but not specifically a melee attack. Score: 5/5

    Elegance: You don't have the 1 rank of Knowledge (Religion) necessary to take Fangshield Ranger. If you're using Weight Focus to boost your Telekinetic Grapple, then you're going to have acknowledge that size modifiers apply, which give you a not-so-tasty -8 from being tiny, which is canceled out by Improved Grapple and Weight Focus. Funnily enough, this actually helps you out when you're possessing a larger creature. You rely on some questionable rules-reading, a metric ton of ACFs, and a set of joke rules. Your backstory took me a moment or two of contemplation to grog; could've been written a bit better. Score: 1.5/5

    Use of Secret Ingredient: Well, I'm a bit torn here. You use every ability the Secret Ingredient has to offer, that much is obvious, but it doesn't feel like a Justiciar. It feels like a Telekinetic Ghost Cat That Possesses Monsters (featuring Justiciar). The non-lethal fighting style of Justiciar doesn't really match well with Unspeakable's revenge-filled motivation, either. Score: 2.5/5

    Total score: 14/20
    Average: 2.8/5

    This is my favorite build of this competition, and is my vote for Honorable Mention, as well, if it doesn't win. It has some issues, to be sure, but it's fun. I wish I could've given you a better Elegance score for that. Despite the questionable rules-reading, I would definitely let you play this build in a game I was running, because it is unique, it is original, and it is fun.


    Zaroff
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    Originality: Okay, Ranger was an obvious entry, and neither Monk nor Human were particularly inspired, but Fist of the Forest was quite unexpected for what is essentially an urban PrC, and using the sacrifice rules was an interesting twist as well. Score: 3.5/5

    Power: Unlike the other entries I've judged so far, you don't really have anything in your build that boosts your grappling, so you're not really that good in that respect. Your psuedo-pounce and not-quite-Ubercharge is interesting, though, getting you 1d10+1d12 base damage. Snap Kick gives you another attack, but at this point (with Flurry of Blows, Two-Weapon Fighting, and Snap Kick) you're eating a lot of penalties. Good thing you have Shock Trooper to take care of that on a charge, and invisibility to help with that otherwise. Like Dustie, you want to make as many attacks as possible to deal Nonlethal Strike and Crippling Strike damage as frequently as possible, and that's okay. Your triggering of them, however, trades a bit of versatility for reliability (invisibility every three rounds, whereas Dustie can nova his). I'm comparing you to Dustie a lot because your fighting style and his seem very similar, but he took it that extra bit further, in my mind. Score: 4/4.5

    Elegance: Honestly, using Justiciar's non-lethal attacks for the sinister purpose of procuring sacrificial victims and punishing those who stand against your group is an interesting twist in what I expected be a competition full of Batman-wannabes. The way your presented your build was interesting as well; for a moment or two, I almost thought that maybe your build was actually the person tracking Zaroff. The only problem I really had was plopping your monk levels in the middle of your ranger levels for seemingly no reason, but that's a pretty minor thing, all things considered. You're lucky I'm attentive enough to notice that you're getting your SLAs from your organization, though, else you would have lost points for not explaining that better. You've failed to do anything with the spellcasting you gained from Ranger, though; you could've at least ACF'd it away. Score: 4.254/5

    Use of Secret Ingredient: There isn't really anything that stands out with your use of Justiciar, but at the same time there isn't anything that feels wrong, here. You use all of the abilities and I can see exactly why you took the time to learn the fighting style in the first place. It may not be the standard Justiciar, but dammit you make it work. Score: 4.5/5

    Total score: 16/20
    Average: 4/5


    Sheriff Breagar Bearclaw
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    Originality: Hmph, bears. I never thought I'd say this, but the internet is making me tired of bears. Still, I definitely didn't expect it, so I'll set aside my ursine fatigue and give you some points there. Your race is nothing special (whoo, humans, I see them every day), but you've used a bunch of classes I never expected. Score: 4.5/5

    Power: You can grapple, and that's about it. You do it well, I'll admit, but only when you're raging... still, you shouldn't run out of uses during a typical day. Still, once you're in a grapple you don't really have anything particularly exciting to do, beyond what Justiciar gives you (and everybody has). Score: 3.5/5

    Elegance: You were right, I did wonder why you picked up Crimson Scourge. I don't find your reasoning solid, though, because natural attacks are absolutely melee attacks. As is, there's no reason for the level, which could have gone to something else. You dance around with your non-ingredient levels, taking them in seemingly random configurations. Intimidate, Heal, and Handle Animal feel tacked on, just to get entry into CS; I could probably let it go for one skill, but this is three skills you pick up and then ignore completely, for a class you didn't even need. Maybe if you'd given a story reason for picking them up, I could let you go, but... well, there's no story. I don't know how the other judges will feel, but that's just not right, as far as I'm concerned. Even something basic would have sufficed, but as is, I have no idea who Breagar Bearclaw is, except that he's sheriff of some place and can somehow turn into a bear. Score: 1.51.75/5

    Use of Secret Ingredient: The problem with bear builds is that they always feel like they're more about the bear than anything else. Maybe you could have solved this with a bit of a story, but without it, as I said above, all I know is that your entry is a Justiciar who turns into a bear. There's also the problem that he doesn't use Hogtie, Improved Hogtie, or Manacle Proficiency, which you comment on but make no attempt to fix. He also have difficulty making use of Nonlethal and Crippling Strike, with Cloak of Deception being the only real way to trigger it. Score: 2/5
    Total Score: 11.75/20
    Average: 2.9375/5


    Bilplipliip
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    Originality: I'm tempted to take points of for having a name that's impossible to pronounce, but I'll be nice and let that go. :smalltounge:

    Kuo-Toa is something I would never have expected, even more than the other races present in this competition, and you get mad points for it. However, Ranger was painfully obvious (you're the third one I've judged by this point), and your backstory is pretty basic. There's potential here. Score: 3.5/5

    Power: I don't know what the Sewerm is, I don't have the book its from, and none of my other sources tell me what it is, so I have to hope that you were being honest about its capabilities. That said, its grapple and your grapple, while working well together, aren't exactly that exciting. The pincer staff you have (which seems to be a mancatcher in all but name) is a boost, and you've got some poison stuff going on, but you just don't seem that strong to me. However, your Sewerm does allow you to land Crippling Strike more often if it grapples a foe. Score: 2.53/5

    Elegance: A fairly simple build, and I can't really find anything wrong with it. Gotta give you some points for sticking with Ranger, and nothing else, before entering the ingredient. At the same time, there's nothing too amazing about your build, and your backstory leaves a lot to be desired. Decidedly average, here. You've failed to do anything with the spellcasting you gained from Ranger, though; you could've at least ACF'd it away. Score: 2.75/5

    Use of Secret Ingredient: You use the abilities. Improved Hog-Tie is the one you use best, but you DO, in fact, use the others. You have the stealth to make Nonlethal and Crippling Strike useful in the surprise round, at the very least, and the grapple bonuses help with your pincer staff. Score: 4.5/5

    Total score: 13.75/20
    Average: 3.4375/5


    Ximen Bao
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    Originality: Okay, so it turns out that the idea of using Justiciar to seize sacrificial victims, which was Zaroff's deal as well, wasn't all that unique, but I really and honestly didn't expect it, so you get points here. Duskblade, Cleric, and Master of Shrouds were not things I was expecting, so more points there. Score: 4.25/5

    Power: You do well, here. Whereas most of the other entries focuses on the grappling with Crippling Strike as a bonus, you focus on it. With your shadows, your poisons, your spells, and Crippling Strike, you can drain and enemy quite quickly. Your spells also give you tremendous boosts to your skills, which is good. You're not quite as good of a grappler as some other builds, though. Still, you do well. Score: 4/5

    Elegance: Thank you for giving sources! The thing you forgot to source, though, was the Master of Shrouds, which is kinda a thing since I have no idea where it's from (remember how I said I didn't expect it? I didn't know it existed until now). I can piece together what the class does, though, which is good for you. The story for Ximen was quite nice, and I enjoyed reading it. I was about to take points off for taking Duskblade and doing almost nothing with the casting, but you managed to stick to spells that, although hurt by the lack of the caster level, are still beneficial. Good job. Score: 4/5

    Use of Secret Ingredient: It's at this point I start feeling like I'm repeating myself in this section. Still, you used all of the abilities, and even provided an explanation for each one, which was very nice of you. Your use of the class was obvious, and your build is a wonderful blend of the ingredient with your other classes. Score: 5/5

    Total score: 17.25/20
    Average: 4.3125/5


    Armin Long
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    Originality: Man, so many classes being used in this competition I don't have access to. What a shame. Anyway, human is no surprise, but at the same time not something to penalize. Human Paragon, meanwhile, is a surprise, as are Cleric and Church Inquisitor. There've been two religiously motivated entries before this, but you're the first on the good side of the spectrum. Score: 4/5

    Power: You just barely make your fourth iterative, but you've got some cleric spells to back yourself up. You go for a bit of a similar thing as Ximen, with the channeling spells (well, Smiting Spells, in this case). Your draining relies a bit more on saves, making it a bit more possible for your foes to resist you, and you don't quite have the oomph in your grapple as other characters do, but you make do. Score: 3/5

    Elegance: There's nothing too out of the ordinary here, in either direction, other than your story. It's nice and short... but it leaves me wanting more, so much more. Why's Long at the bar? What'd the barkeep do? Who's the woman he remembers, the other kid, why's he taking him to a temple of Pelor if he worships Cuthbert? Score: 3/5

    Use of Secret Ingredient: You use the abilities, and you use 'em well. You don't really have a consistent way to get Nonlethal and Crippling Strike active, but other than that, you use 'em all. Score: 4.25/5

    Total score: 14.25/20
    Average: 3.5625/5


    Alive
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    Originality: I've already commented on the use of Ranger nearly half a dozen times this competition, but you're saved by Exemplar and Nature's Warrior. Human, I guess, because of the two feats at first level? Score: 3/5

    Power: Good stuff, here. You're hurt a bit by the fact that you're not able to take forms bigger than medium with your wild shape, but you still get some very useful forms, and your grapple is pretty decent. Nice job catching the Use Rope thing; the implication is that when you Hog Tie with Use Rope you, well, use rope, but hey, that's not this category. You're not quite able to dish out the damage some of the other characters are, nor do you get as many attacks to use Nonlethal and Crippling Strike, but you make decent use of them. Score: 4/5

    Elegance: I love that story. At first, the fact that your entry took up two posts scared me off, but I soldiered through and I'm glad I did. You sort of jumble the levels together, your Ranger spells don't really add much, and you get Scent a bit late, but things aren't too bad. Score: 3.5/5

    Use of Secret Ingredient: Yup, you use the secret ingredient. You could get a bit more out of Nonlethal Strike and Crippling Strike, but other than that, it's all good. Score: 4.25/5

    Total score: 14.75/20
    Average: 3.6875/5


    I have a feeling that I'll need to come back and fix something, but I'll do that if and when it becomes necessary. Here's hoping that I didn't get too rambly near the end of it.
    Last edited by The Dark Fiddler; 2012-09-24 at 08:55 PM.
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    Animorphs-styled morphing rules for the Fate Core system!
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  28. - Top - End - #178
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    If I was going to guess, and I am, I'd say that the kuo-toa's name is probably pronounced blip - plip - plé - ip.
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  29. - Top - End - #179
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Quote Originally Posted by The Dark Fiddler View Post
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    Dustie
    Elegance: I like the backstory, I really do. At first, I thought it was going to be a fairly standard “born for greater things” story, but your surprised me, and it's written quite well, as well. The little bit at the beginning of your entry was a short, fun read, too. That's a plus. However, there's a few issues with your build. The first problem, and the one I feel strongest about, is that your tactic of grappling people and THEN tearing them apart with your natural attacks doesn't really work, because the rules for grappling state that “If your base attack bonus allows you multiple attacks, you can attempt one of these actions in place of each of your attacks,” and you're attempting to use extra attacks from other sources. Additionally, my source doesn't give Thri-Kreen players the +30 racial modifier on jump checks, though that may have been an error (in which case I will gladly amend this score). Taking a feat and outright stating “you need a rainbow ioun stone” is a bit on the non-kosher side of equipment reliance. I'm not so certain on your suggestion of delaying to initiative 100 after the surprise round, since you'd need a triggering action, but even if you can't do that it doesn't really change your tactics that much. Power Attack at level 20 seems a bit late, and relatively pointless too. You can't actually use Crippling Strike in a grapple, because you don't lose your Dexterity against those you're grappling with. Lastly, I have a slight problem with how you dance between Swordsage and Totemist levels; it seems a bit unnecessarily convoluted. It's mostly a bunch of small problems I have, but they do add up. Score: 2/5
    IIRC, the Psionic Thri-Kreen from the XPH (The version with 2 LA, unlike the 1 LA version in the MM3) had a +30 racial bonus to jump. For some reason, though, they're not in the SRD...

    [EDIT]Odd question: Maneuvers (obviously) aren't listed in the special actions you can use in a grapple. Can you still perform them in a grapple? And can you still sneak attack someone in a grapple if someone is flanking your opponent?
    Last edited by DMofDarkness; 2012-09-23 at 05:57 PM.
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  30. - Top - End - #180
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XXXVII

    Expanded Psionics Handbook, p214, under Special Qualities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Expanded Psionics Handbook
    Leap (Ex): A thri-kreen is a natural jumper. It has a +30 racial bonus on Jump checks.
    Why this is in the Special Qualities section, rather than in the Racial Skills section (where they put, for instance, the +4 bonus to Hide checks in sandy settings), is anybody's guess.
    Last edited by Piggy Knowles; 2012-09-23 at 06:06 PM. Reason: Missing close-paren.
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