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    Default Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    I've been trying to sort out a build for an possible antagonist in my PbP campaign. The person in question is supposed to be a dex-based gish with decent social skills. The person isn't a lone player, but operates as the head of a team that includes 2 full-class full-casters, who admittedly would be lower level.

    This person isn't supposed to be especially hostile to the PCs, but it's very possible that they may run into this person's plans and machinations at various points, especially that I've been feeding them information through NPCs about how dangerous this person is.

    Well, anyway, stats I rolled up
    Str 11
    Dex 16
    Con 14
    Int 17 (will be 20 by the time this person is encountered, see below)
    Wis 11
    Chr 12

    Build I'm thinking of at this point would be Wizard 1/Human Paragon 3(giving a total of +3 to INT by 4th level)/Swashbuckler 3. That would be the point this person is first encountered. This person would have BAB +5, Casting as a Wizard 3, and 1d4+3d8+3d10 worth of hit points.

    The PCs will probably be significantly lower level at this point, maybe 4th level.

    After that, assuming nobody kills anyone, this person would take 2 more wizard levels and then goes into Eldritch Knight.

    Now, as I said, this person has a team, so pure personal power isn't what's important. This person is trying to be a balanced and versatile human being. Depending on how the PCs behave, this person could become a determined enemy, a sporadic ally, or just somebody that's in the background.

    So, after all that, is this build look respectable enough to be interesting as a recurring NPC?
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    At the moment I have every faith that the PCs will kill him when they first meet him.

    Gishes are notoriously weak at low levels, before they come into their own. Even then they're usually low on HP. Your build is no exception.

    What surprises me most is that you have Swashbuckler. When I read that you wanted a dex-based gish, I started thinking Arcane Archer (with spellcasting naturally). Of course, swashbuckler works with int and dex, which you want. The problem is that it doesn't work with spellcasting, and Human Paragon doesn't either. Between them you give up 4 spell levels, meaning that at level 7 you've given up the ability to turn into a Remorhazz with Bite +10 melee (2d8+12) for Rapier +8 melee (1d8+5).

    On the positive side, you're the DM! Your characters don't have to be optimized, and I recently read a suggestion that I really liked: just slap a few more class levels on that character! Having high HP and saves is good for a boss-type enemy, and the only drawback is... Wait! There isn't one, because you're the DM! Isn't life great?
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    Question; How goes "gish" remotely translate into "Ranged combatant"? I note you deleted your first post.
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    Quote Originally Posted by Marlowe View Post
    Question; How goes "gish" remotely translate into "Ranged combatant"? I note you deleted your first post.
    I deleted it because I posted it by accident before I was done.

    Answer: You say "gish," I hear "magic plus weapons."

    Edit: Also, I didn't appreciate the way you responded.

    And I have a problem with reviewing my work after I post it.
    Last edited by rockdeworld; 2012-10-28 at 10:39 AM.
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    I'm sorry you don't like the way I responded, but I was geniuinely confused by your post. Given that your assumptions don't have anything to do with what I originally wrote.

    I'll say it clearer. I'm looking for somebody, specifically human with the listed stat array, that does SOME melee, SOME magic, and a lot of politicking. Bard would be easy, but there's already a Bard on this person's side of the table. Expect a full-class Martial Cleric and Druid for backup as well. Like I said, this isn't a solo performer.
    Last edited by Marlowe; 2012-10-28 at 11:01 AM. Reason: post responded to edited beyond recognition.
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    High int, High dex, seems to want a whole bunch of skills and some spellcasting; wants to be "balanced" and "versatile."

    That sounds very much like a Factotum moving into Chameleon to me.
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    Swashbuckler 3 has no place in any gish build unless it's gestalt. When CW was first published and your only gish classes were EK and what was contained in that book, most Bladesinger builds included Swashbuckler 3 for lack of better choices. Over the past eight years there have been fewer and fewer reasons to use Swashbuckler in a gish build, and currently it's just not worth it.

    If you're using Wizard, then you're going to need to specialize in conjuration for Abrupt Jaunt. Otherwise make him a Sorcerer and get Wings of Cover. If you don't do either of these, then he's probably going to die the first time the PCs fight him. Consider making him high level and have a bunch of Simulacrum lieutenants running around instead. Give him a Third Eye Clarity (MIC) and/or Iron Heart Surge and/or Quick Recovery (LoM) so he won't just go down without a fight on one failed save.

    I think you're losing way too many caster levels with that, especially considering the standard build of Human/Elf Paragon 1/ Fighter 1/ Wizard 2/ Human/Elf Paragon 2/ Spellsword 1/ Abjurant Champion 5/ (Wizard PrCs) 4/ EK 4. Starting at 7th level that will have a +5 BAB and 5th level Wizard casting, 2d4+4d8+1d10 HP, and he can use Haste and/or Displacement and/or Vampiric Touch. Those four levels of Wizard PrCs can be Incantatrix for an unkillable god, Divine Oracle (with the feat prerequisite from the Frog God's Fane) for Evasion and Uncanny Dodge, Paragnostic Apostle, etc. You could just skip that and get more Eldritch Knight if you care more about BAB/HP than class features.

    For a Dex-based Gish, I'd actually go something like Spellthief 1/ Psion or Ardent 4/ Psychic Assassin 6/ Slayer 9. Use Practiced Manifester to qualify for Psychic Assassin, remove Death Attack if you don't want him to be evil-aligned, and use Substitute Powers with Ardent. Between using Share Pain on his Psicrystal (don't forget its Hardness 8) and buffing with Vigor (which can be shared), he should be quite resilient. With Psychic Assassin get Mind Cripple, which is extremely potent with TWF. Spellthief is there because it allows you to use wands of any Wizard spells from the schools that a Spellthief gets access to. Fractional BAB is highly recommended, otherwise maybe consider a more standard (higher BAB) psionic gish build. A Psion gets 8th level powers by 20th with that, Ardent will have 9ths. Keep the Psicrystal in a compartment so opponents won't have line of sight/effect to it but he still will. It can even wear a Healing Belt and heal him for 2d8 three times.

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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    Ouch. Those are all nice suggestions. Trouble is they all involve sources I don't have access to and haven't allowed the PCs.

    Also, I'm not too concerned about the PCs attacking and killing on sight. Unless things go really pear shaped
    *This person's going to be quite friendly and interested in the PCs on first meeting. It's just I'm planning on interests clashing with time.
    *This person's going to have her own NPC adventurer group present. Most of which are full-class spellcasters. Albeit mainly divine.
    *This person's also a key government officer for the country they're in. Hence why I want a social focus. It also means that the PCs attacking without a damned good reason gets them hunted like dogs.
    *This person's also a covert agent for another, much more dangerous power, that will resent its minions being interfered with. Strenuously.

    The campaign is not one where killing people just because they seem suspicious is a valid way to operate.

    I could probably do the HP/Fighter/Wizard2/HP 2/Spellsword build...just I can't use Abjurant Champ. I must admit I never thought of starting with Human Paragon.
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    You can jump straight into Eldritch Knight or even Knight Phantom or Swiftblade after that Spellsword dip. Abjurant Champion is extremely nice, and it's painful to skip it, but sometimes you have to.

    Another extremely nasty option would be to take Spellsword 5 to get Channel Spell. You can use that with Cloudkill to make it a single-target effect that deals 1d4 Con damage per round for ten rounds per caster level. That loses too many caster levels for my tastes, but it could be worth it for a boss encounter who's higher level than they are anyway.

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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    That might work. Her caster levels aren't a gigantic priority anyway given she goes around with a druid, a cleric, a shugenja, bard and warlock. And that the PC party isn't exactly magic-heavy (a Cleric and a warlock. That's it as far as magic goes).

    Obviously, more a plot-based character than an optimised killer. Her real strength would lie in having connections (truth to tell, she could be an Expert with Maxed-out UMD, social skills, and a whole lot of wands, and still play the same plot function. But that would be dull). I wanted Swashbuckler to see what Insightful strike would be like on a high-INT character. I rejected Spellsword because nothing else I had planned granted the armour proficiencies. But with that alternate...I'll certainly think about it.
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    Hilariously, you could give that Cleric the Inquisition domain, maybe Improved Counterspell, and the feat Divine Defiance from FC2. That lets him spend a turn attempt to counterspell as an immediate action, he could use dispel magic with a +4 for that domain, or use any spell from that school of equal level with improved counterspell. With such a magic-light party he could easily lock down both of their casters if he also readies an action to counterspell each round.

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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    That would be mean Anyway, the Cleric is already built. She's actually a slightly reworked PC of mine from a campaign that died. She's got no physical stats under 16, War domain and fire devotion (I allowed devotional feats), carries a Falchion w/free weapon focus from war domain, and talks in this coldly formal manner all the time.

    This Cleric's already met the PCs. The PC Cleric tried hitting on her. After turning down the NPC Shugenja (I use Shugenja because I find it a cool class mechanically, in-game I call them "Elementalists" and ignore the oriental fluff) who was hitting on him.

    End result was that the Fighter had a good night.
    Last edited by Marlowe; 2012-10-28 at 09:13 PM.
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    So, comparing a variation of the original idea:
    HP/Wiz/HP2/Swblkr/3

    with

    HP/Fgt/Wiz2/HP2/Spellsword

    It seems both have the same BAB.

    The swashbuckler build will have slightly more hit points, but not by a lot. Also has Insightful Strike at INT 20 and a lot more skill points.

    The Spellsword build has 3rd level casting instead of 2nd, the ability to wear a mithral shirt with ACF (the swashbuckler would be relying on spells and Dex exclusively for AC) and is finished. As in, it's free to continue with Spellsword or jump into Eldritch Knight. The Swashbuckler build needs 2 more wizard levels before it could go into EK, or a martial level (for armour proficiency) before it could go Spellsword

    The second build is definitely more powerful, but it's lack of social skills bothers me given the concept.

    thanks for the advice.
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    Here's your problem with Swashbuckler...

    Insightful Strike adds Int bonus... up to the number of Swashbuckler levels. So the more levels you drop into Swashbuckler, the fewer casting levels you have, and the less of a threat/force multiplier he becomes.

    With the general idea of 'party buffing gish', I have some options for you:

    1) Pal2/Sorc4/SpellSword1 going into Abjurant Champion and probably War Weaver.

    Use alignment-variant Paladin to match the alignment you were wanting to give him. This nets him his casting stat to all saves. Considering that Save or Lose is going to be the #1 threat for him, this will be a definite boon to his survival. He loses a total of two caster levels, which is rather painful, but since he is buffing, it isn't as bad as it could be.

    He can use a Mithral Chain Shirt with 0 Arcane Spell Failure (thanks to ASF reduction from SpellSword), and use whatever weapon setup feels right for him.

    2) Beguiler.

    Pretty much does exactly what you'd want him to do. Beguilers have a 3/4 BAB, so netting +5 BAB at level 7, which is what most of the other builds are going to end up at anyways. Has good battlefield control, lockdown, and buffing ability.

    Plus awesome Party Face skill selection.

    3) Bard.

    No, really, these guys can be quite impressive when not played Elan-style. They get spells like Slow and Haste, they also get Grease and Glitterdust for some lockdown ability, and they get Inspire Courage which you can optimize to significant benefit. A properly built DFI bard behind a swarm of mooks makes for a swarm of very lethal mooks.

    Furthermore, with BardBlade, you can forego most of your casting for full BAB, even more Inspire Courage optimization, and be a real party-support meatshield. This option does require Tome of Battle to be on the table.

    Plus: Social skills? Yea. Spades, the Bard has them.

    4) Duskblade. Gish-in-a-can. Full BAB, very limited casting. Pair up with something like Suel Archanamach and you've got a very nice build with solid buffs, solid offensive capability, solid defensive capability, and an all-round tank/party buffer.
    Last edited by ShneekeyTheLost; 2012-10-30 at 06:31 AM.
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    Quote Originally Posted by ShneekeyTheLost View Post
    Here's your problem with Swashbuckler...

    Insightful Strike adds Int bonus... up to the number of Swashbuckler levels.
    Complete Warrior just says you get your INT bonus to damage with light weapons (presumably, that should have been FINESSABLE weapons, being that Rapier's not a light weapon) as long as you're not wearing medium or heavy armour, no more than lightly loaded, and the target's not immune to crits. Number of Swashbuckler levels do nothing.

    With the general idea of 'party buffing gish', I have some options for you:

    1) Pal2/Sorc4/SpellSword1 going into Abjurant Champion and probably War Weaver.

    Use alignment-variant Paladin to match the alignment you were wanting to give him. This nets him his casting stat to all saves. Considering that Save or Lose is going to be the #1 threat for him, this will be a definite boon to his survival. He loses a total of two caster levels, which is rather painful, but since he is buffing, it isn't as bad as it could be.

    He can use a Mithral Chain Shirt with 0 Arcane Spell Failure (thanks to ASF reduction from SpellSword), and use whatever weapon setup feels right for him.
    It's a good, sound suggestion. But I'm going to have to say it doesn't suit the character.
    2) Beguiler.

    Pretty much does exactly what you'd want him to do. Beguilers have a 3/4 BAB, so netting +5 BAB at level 7, which is what most of the other builds are going to end up at anyways. Has good battlefield control, lockdown, and buffing ability.

    Plus awesome Party Face skill selection.
    Love to. Only like the Factotum suggestion before, it's not available for this campaign. Not because I dislike those classes, it's because I don't have the books. And I'm not going to have the PCs deal with an NPC using a class they weren't allowed to pick.

    3) Bard.

    No, really, these guys can be quite impressive when not played Elan-style. They get spells like Slow and Haste, they also get Grease and Glitterdust for some lockdown ability, and they get Inspire Courage which you can optimize to significant benefit. A properly built DFI bard behind a swarm of mooks makes for a swarm of very lethal mooks.

    Furthermore, with BardBlade, you can forego most of your casting for full BAB, even more Inspire Courage optimization, and be a real party-support meatshield. This option does require Tome of Battle to be on the table.

    Plus: Social skills? Yea. Spades, the Bard has them.
    All this is true, but her party already has a Bard. With a Cleric dip, admittedly, but she still has a Bard already.

    4) Duskblade. Gish-in-a-can. Full BAB, very limited casting. Pair up with something like Suel Archanamach and you've got a very nice build with solid buffs, solid offensive capability, solid defensive capability, and an all-round tank/party buffer.
    Same problem as Beguiler and Factotum. I'm aware what these classes do, but I originally barred them from the PCs and I'm not going to throw classes at them that they weren't allowed.

    Starting to wonder if I shouldn't just build a simple Clawlock.
    Last edited by Marlowe; 2012-10-30 at 06:49 AM.
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    Quote Originally Posted by Marlowe View Post
    Love to. Only like the Factotum suggestion before, it's not available for this campaign. Not because I dislike those classes, it's because I don't have the books. And I'm not going to have the PCs deal with an NPC using a class they weren't allowed to pick.
    Citing allowed sources in OP can reduce the frequency of this problem.
    All this is true, but her party already has a Bard. With a Cleric dip, admittedly, but she still has a Bard already.
    You can have a party with four different bards, all with radically different abilities and class features and none of them remotely resembling each other. They're almost like Cleric in that regard.

    Same problem as Beguiler and Factotum. I'm aware what these classes do, but I originally barred them from the PCs and I'm not going to throw classes at them that they weren't allowed.
    Again, citing allowed sources reduces this problem

    Starting to wonder if I shouldn't just build a simple Clawlock.
    So wait... PhB II is not an allowed source, but Dragon Mag is?

    Warlock does an exceptionally poor job at party support. Clawlocks do one thing and one thing only: rip people's faces off. If you want to do anything else, choose something else.

    Also, you may wish to clearly state what you want this character to do. You said party support, but apparently your party already has all the party support it needs. You've also stated that you've got two full casters, presumably in addition to the cleric-dipped-Bard, so it sounds like a Gish is really not going to be all that useful to the party.

    Perhaps you could clarify your request so people can more readily provide meaningful assistance?
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    You've got Human Paragon on there, so you can get any ten class skills you want. Pick up Able Learner if you want to keep up your ranks in those later on. That should be plenty of social skills.

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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    Quote Originally Posted by ShneekeyTheLost View Post

    Again, citing allowed sources reduces this problem
    You are correct. This is my bad.

    I'm using Complete Arcane, Divine, Adventurer, and Warrior. With individual feats from other sources on a case by case basis.


    So wait... PhB II is not an allowed source, but Dragon Mag is?
    yes, because it's far easier to work in a single feat than an entire class. I allow feats from other than above, but not classes.

    Warlock does an exceptionally poor job at party support. Clawlocks do one thing and one thing only: rip people's faces off. If you want to do anything else, choose something else.

    Also, you may wish to clearly state what you want this character to do. You said party support?
    I didn't. I really did not say anything of the kind. I want a leader. Someone that the rest of this team would reasonably look up to and follow, and have the social skills and intelligence to bamboozle a reasonably intelligent provincial government into letting her insinuate herself into their higher echelons even though they can tell there's something fishy about her.

    I do appreciate your comments. And I'm sorry I did not quote the allowed sources first. Yes, I know they're dated. They were what I had to work with when I started.
    Last edited by Marlowe; 2012-10-30 at 09:52 AM.
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    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    Quote Originally Posted by Marlowe View Post
    YI didn't. I really did not say anything of the kind. I want a leader. Someone that the rest of this team would reasonably look up to and follow, and have the social skills and intelligence to bamboozle a reasonably intelligent provincial government into letting her insinuate herself into their higher echelons even though they can tell there's something fishy about her.
    I cannot think of any class from the allowed sources better able to do this than Bard. Failing that, Paladin (but you've already shot that down).

    Warlocks do very poorly at the social skills. Granted, they have Bluff, but not Diplomacy, which means he's going to be fast-talking, but not very good at actually getting people on his side. Their invocation will eat up one of only three Least invocations available to him, and is a mere static bonus, so its utility wanes over time. More importantly, they don't have Sense Motive, which is even more important, because as good as you might be at bluffing, you seriously don't want someone to run a bluff on you. A leader can not only lead, but he needs to be good enough to not be fooled, or else he'll quickly devolve into a mere puppet-head.

    Favored Soul might work here, except he doesn't have Bluff. He does, however, have Diplomacy and Sense Motive. It also has a very religious vibe which you seem to be trying to avoid.

    If you don't mind him being Non-Good, then Hexblade could be a bang-up starting point. Bluff, Intimidate, and Diplomacy all on the skill list. Arcane Resistance nets Cha bonus to all saves vs spells. Mettle gives him a lot of 'just plain no' against anything with a Will or Fort/partial. Combo with a source of Evasion, and you've got something very nasty.

    Combo Hexblade with Suel Archanamach, and then into Abjurant Champion and you've got solid buffs which are almost impossible to dispel, the ability to swing a nerf bat at buffed opponents with Dispelling Strike, auto-quicken and extended Abjuration spells, and one heck of an imposing figure.

    So, you'd be looking at Hexblade6/Suel Archanamach2. Or, if you prefer, Hexblade3/Swashbuckler3/Suel Archanamach2. This gives him additional Int synergy. Either way he goes, he progresses into Abjurant Champion.

    Full Base Attack Bonus, high HD all around, some casting ability, and a definite leader who is able to cow or convince people of his inherent superiority.
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    Joker Bard - the DM's solution to the Batman Wizard.
    Takahashi no Onisan - The scariest Samurai alive
    Incarnum and YOU: a reference guide
    Soulmelds, by class and slot: Another Incarnum reference
    Multiclassing for Newbies: A reference guide for the rest of us

    My homebrew world in progress: Falcora

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Marlowe's Avatar

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    Apr 2007
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    NO LONGER IN CHINA!

    Default Re: Looking for advice on an NPC build (Southern Comforters, please don't read)

    Those are some interesting ideas. Yes, I'm sorry if I'm hard to please.

    The reason I'm trying to avoid the religious vibe is that these people have a homebrew pantheon that they regard in the light of "Extremely Senior Officers that we'd really rather didn't get involved in things because when they turn up stuff gets broken." Their Clerics are people that have chosen to take a particular diety as an exemplar of behaviour, and chosen to study deserving.

    They don't have a problem with classes like Druid, Spirit Shaman, Shugenja, because these classes are drawing from a power source that they can plainly see exists. Trees grow, people die, and fire burns. "Oh, you can get class features from celebrating that? Good for you."

    A Favoured Soul, on the other hand, they'd look at sideways and hiss "You keep saying that name. You want him/her to turn up now?"

    And a Paladin...is a paladin. It would seem alien to their mindset.
    The Southern Comforters


    "i may only truly contribute to this game because it is so damned awesom and marlow is the bomb. plus i love the chemistry we all have"

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