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    Troll in the Playground
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    Jul 2007
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    Bellona

    Post Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Cold World

    As I mentioned, in the last showcase, weíre doing a dual take on summoning: I Choose You! and Cold World (formerly known as the Shadow), two very different divine summoners.

    INTRODUCTION
    With more than a decade and a half of toying around with 3.5, Iíve accumulated a lot of spare builds and ideas. While I donít have an active game going right now, I still like to pop open my builds folder and try to refine things. Recently I decided to make a dedicated effort to flesh out some of these builds into full write-ups, and reached out to some friends in the CO community who might be interested in doing the same. In the spirit of Tempest Stormwindís Weekly Optimization Showcase (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?), I thought Iíd showcase the end results here.

    The goal is (usually) not to show off any fancy new TO trick, but to showcase effective, playable builds and spur discussion. While each of us has a different build philosophy, in general the intent is to create something that can be played in most groups from level 1 to level 20. Again, the goal is discussion, so feel free to discuss the build, talk about other options, make suggestions or tear it all to shreds. Also, feel free to use anything showcased here in any of your campaignsóand let us know how they work out if you do!

    Right now the group consists of myself, the Viscount, Akal Saris, Venger and WhamBamSam, with a couple of other folks hopefully on their way. Typically one of us writes up the build concept and possibly a stub, the others share feedback on Discord or in some of the shared documents we have, and together we refine things until weíre happy with the final product. Iíll list the buildís main author whenever I showcase a particular build.

    Spoiler: Previous showcases
    Show

    Buffsader (ToB/Gish/Party Support)
    The Utility Belt (Psionics/Stealth/Utility)
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless War Mind (ToB/Psionics/Melee Damage)
    The Melding Pot (Incarnum/Utility)
    Thatís So Raven (Gish/Ranged/Debuff)
    Dancing in the Dark (ToB/Stealth/Lock-down)
    Gladys Knight and the Pips (Arcane/Face/Utility)
    Zen in the Art of Archery (Psionics/Ranged)
    I Choose You! (Divine/Summmoning)


    As I mentioned, weíre looking at two different takes on summoners. Weíve had I Choose You!, so hereís Cold World!



    Cold World
    **** is deep on the block and you got me locked down / In this cold, cold world...

    BACKGROUND
    Summoning is always a fun tactic, and one that gets a lot of love on the boards. Thereís something really satisfying about calling up the biggest, nastiest creature from the depths of the lower planes to stand up and fight for you.

    Some of our previous showcases have dabbled in a bit of summoning (such as the Utility Beltís astral construct or Gladys Knightís pips), but we havenít done a full-on hardcore summoner yet. In general, though, this is well-plumbed territory, so thereís not a lot of need to do a full showcase. After all, anyone can pull up, say, Treantmonkís excellent malconvoker guide and play one of the builds there more or less out of the box. But there are some interesting things that can be done with full summoners that arenít quite so common. Together, we put together two takes on the classic archetype of the summoner.

    While I Choose You! looked at how to take a classic druidic summoner and tack on extraplanar monster summoning and binding (without sacrificing any druid goodies), for this build, we wanted to look at a different summoning tactic. Here we decided to build an extremely specialized summoner, one who specifically focused on taking one particular type of summoning (specifically, incorporeal undead) and working on making that one type shine.

    To do that we asked a few basic questions: how do most foes deal with incorporeal foes? How can we strip away common ways of dealing with incorporeal creatures, whether offensive or defensive? What can we do to set up an environment where incorporeal creatures shine?

    The end result is a lot of fun, and represents an archetype that doesnít get seen much: a lockdown-focused cleric. I hope you enjoy.

    THE BASICS
    • Race: Human or strongheart halfling. The extra feat is as important as ever in the early game, though with flaws or if you are starting at a higher level, any race will work.
    • Build Stub: Cloistered Cleric 3/Church Inquisitor 1/Master of Shrouds 10/Paragnostic Apostle 5/Contemplative 1
    • ACFs: Cloistered cleric, divine magician, spontaneous domain casting.
    • Alignment: Lawful neutral, and you must channel negative energy.
    • Deity/Religious Order: OK, hereís where it gets a bit complicated. You must be part of a lawful good church or religious order. However, you must ALSO be non-good and rebuke undead. That means youíll need to either worship a non-good deity who has a lawful good religious order, or you must be a concept cleric who is part of such an order. I built this character with the fluff of a member of the Order of the Iron Glacier, the lawful good order dedicated to creating pockets of shelter and law within the frozen wasteland of frostfell. Many members of the Order are devoted to the newly-divine Aengrist, but as Aengrist is lawful good, accepting Aengrist as your patron deity will prohibit you from rebuking undead. Instead, I envisioned this character as a non-deific winter-themed member of the Order of the Iron Glacier who seeks to use the tools of the harsh lands of frostfell to carve out a place of safety, one who respects Aengrist but believes that the unforgiving winter lands sometimes require a bit more pragmatism. Iím going to write this up accordingly, but Iíll leave some notes for other order ideas in the variants section.


    Cold World
    Quote Originally Posted by ĒCold WorldĒ
    Level Class Feats Class Features Divine Magician spells Notes (Click to Expand)
    1st Cloistered Cleric 1 Spell Focus (conjuration), Augment Summoning Lore, rebuke undead, spontaneous domain casting (winter), divine magician Ray of enfeeblement
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    While you start things off with two summon-focused feats, summoning at this level is not really ideal due to the short duration. Instead, put that Spell Focus to good use elsewhere with spells like ice slick. While snowsight isnít terribly useful for you yet unless your campaign happens to start in the dead of winter, your first divine magician spell certainly is: ray of enfeeblement is a fantastic little debuff, and will work especially well alongside your later tactics. In general, that should be your M.O.: lay down some BFC with ice slick or obscuring mist, debuff foes with cause fear and ray of enervation, and basically stay out of harmís way.
    2nd Cloistered Cleric 2
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Not too much to add here, except that summoning becomes a viable option now that your critters stick around for two rounds instead of one. Keep in mind that your lawful alignment does restrict your options a bit as far as summoning goes; most notably, it means you wonít have access to the monstrous spiders. Your best option at this level tends to be the celestial dog.
    3rd Cloistered Cleric 3 Beckon the Frozen Arcane turmoil
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Beckon the Frozen is a solid damage boost for anything with a decent number of natural attacks, and also will serve as a nice way to add some damage to your spectral army in the near future. The medium monstrous scorpion, for instance, does quite well with three attacks. The celestial riding dog and fiendish wolf donít get quite as much bang for their buck out of it, but are also both solid options.

    That said, your summoning skills are quite possibly the least interesting thing about getting access to second level spells. First, your divine magician choice: arcane turmoil is your first access to dispelling magic, which is going to be a focal point throughout your career. Your goal is to lock foes down with battlefield control and debuffs so that your spectral army can shine, and there is no better debuffing option in 3.5 than dispelling. Arcane turmoil gives you your first taste of that, functioning as a targeted dispel.

    Also at this level, you get access to obscuring snow. This is an insanely useful spell, surrounding you at all times with heavy swirling snow that blocks vision like a fog cloud for hours per level. That definitely has the potential to get annoying, both for you and your partyÖ but thanks to snowsight, which you cast spontaneously, you should all be able to see through it without issue. Meanwhile, youíll have total concealment against opponents who rely on vision until they can close within five feet. For other 2nd-level spells of note, both silence and shatter fit right in with your general tactics.
    4th Church Inquisitor 1 Detect evil, Inquisition domain
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Church inquisitor is a very nice addition here. I always love at-will detection spells for their ability to function as radar, but the big draw is the inquisition domain. Arcane turmoil is suddenly a lot more deadly when youíve got a +4 to your dispel checks. It also boosts your base Will save even further, qualifying you for...
    5th Master of Shrouds 1 Extra RebukingB Rebuke undead
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    ...master of shrouds! Early entry MoS via dipping into another class with a good Will save is something that has been well-known for decades, but that doesnít make it any less effective. Youíre entering a level later than usual (the most common method is cleric 2/class with good will save 1/MoS 1 for entry by ECL 4), but in exchange you donít drop a caster level and get access to the inquisition domain, which is definitely worthwhile. This first level is pretty much a throw-away (though Extra Rebuking will definitely come in handy in the very near future), but luckily it comes at a time when your low level cleric spells still get passable mileage.
    6th Master of Shrouds 2 Divine Defiance Summon undead (shadow) Incorporeal enhancement
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Master of shrouds doesnít take long at all to start coming into its own. Shadows are incredibly strong at this level, when incorporeality and ability damage are especially deadly - and you can summon 3+Cha shadows a day. Oh, and just in case you wanted to really drive home how thoroughly it outclasses standard summoning, itís also an SLA, letting you perform it as a standard action instead of the otherwise inconvenient full roundÖ but it explicitly functions in all other ways as a summon monster spell, meaning that Beckon the Frozen should apply. Thatís a very handy way to add some cold damage on top of your strength draining shadows.

    Many enemies youíll find yourself facing at ECL 6 will still be completely vulnerable to shadows. However, you will need to watch out for foes with magical ability. Luckily, thatís where the rest of this level comes into play. With 3rd-level spells comes dispel magic, and despite dropping a casting level youíre still effectively shooting at +3 above your ECL with regard to dispels. In addition to dispelling active spells, you can use this to suppress magical weapons that might otherwise harm your shadow army, or use it as a counterspell against more magically-inclined foes. Except who wants to waste an action by readying a counterspell? With Divine Defiance you can act as you normally would, summoning and debuffing and locking foes down, and when they try to respond magically, you can spend a rebuke attempt and an immediate action to shut that down too. Altogether itís a very potent combination that should stay good for quite a few levels.

    Finally, access to 3rd-level spells provide some other benefits as well. Incorporeal enhancement is your divine magician choice and gives a bevy of buffs to incorporeal creatures. While itís probably not worth the action to cast on a single shadow, it becomes much more potent when you have a whole army available. Summon monster III is still quite effective thanks to Augment Summoning and Beckon the Frozen, and can provide some battlefield control as well, either by summoning dretches to drop a stinking cloud or celestial bisons or fiendish monstrous centipedes to serve as great big grappling walls of HP. And if you need to deal some damage, the fiendish ape with its three attacks is quite good, dealing a very nasty 6d6+20 damage if all three attacks hit.
    7th Master of Shrouds 3
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Not a lot to talk about this level. More spell slots never hurt!
    8th Master of Shrouds 4 Summon undead (wraith) Dispelling screen
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    MoS bumps you up to your next level in summoning prowess. As good as wraiths are, I tend to think the best strategy with these types of summoners is to overwhelm with numbers: summoning two shadows will very quickly drain a lot of common foes down to nothing.

    But even more important than your summoning is your access to 4th-level spells. Again, your focus is on locking down foes in multiple ways. This level gives you several powerful tools. You have a couple of good walls here, namely dispelling screen (nabbed via divine magician) and wall of sand. The former is especially interesting for its ability to block spells, while the latter might be my favorite cleric BFC spell. And thanks to your spontaneous domain casting, you can also spontaneously cast ice storm at this level. This deals solid damage and reduces movement in a pretty decent-sized area for a full round. Best of all, your shadow army wonít be hindered by wall of sand or ice storm due to their incorporeality. Thatís what youíre all about: lock down movement, remove magical effects, shut down opposing spells, and send your shadows out to play.

    Oh, and I do want to call attention to a spell I havenít talked about much. Summon undead is generally going to be inferior to your other summoning spells: an ogre zombie certainly isnít bad, and probably about as useful in most situations as a fiendish ape, but mostly itís just been giving you brutes rather than anything interesting. The level 4 version, however, changes all that. At this level you get access to the allip (AKA the most under-CRíd foe in the Monster ManualÖ good gods, how many low level parties have been slain by this thing?). By level 8 itís only so-so, but it still has some interesting uses. Incorporeality and ability drain are nothing new for you, but the babble ability covers a surprisingly large area. Combine that with the fact that incorporeal creatures are quite good at getting into hard-to-access places, and sending a couple of allips ahead of you to hypnotize huge swaths of foes can be quite effective under the right circumstances.
    9th Master of Shrouds 5 Arcane Mastery Improved summoning
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    A flat boost to all your undead summons? Sure, why not. Little boosts like this go a long way toward making sure your armies of shadows stay competitive even at higher levels.

    As for your feat, Arcane Mastery, despite the name, isnít just for arcane casters. Anyone with spell-like abilities (meaning you, as both church inquisitor and MoS give you SLAs) can qualify and start taking 10 on caster level checks. Now you never have to worry about low rolls on dispel checks again; between this and the various dispelling boosts this build collects, you should almost always succeed on your caster level check to dispel or counter something.
    10th Master of Shrouds 6 Summon undead (spectre) Waves of fatigue
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Another very big bump. First, your spectral army gets even more threatening: you can now summon a whopping four shadows with a single action, or bring up a couple of wraiths for some tag-teaming Constitution drain. Iím still very much of the opinion that youíll almost always be better off summoning multiples (especially when you start thinking about buffs like incorporeal enhancement and Beckon the Frozen), but the spectre is also rather potent on its own, dishing out a pair of negative levels on a successful hit.

    Second, letís talk spells. 5th-level spells provide some extremely potent options. Blizzard completely shuts down visibility and severely hampers movement for everyone EXCEPT your party, thanks to your access to snowsight and snow walk. Boreal wind is perhaps my favorite cleric blasting option and also fits perfectly with your theme: it does decent damage in an absolutely gigantic area and pushes enemies around as a gust of wind, and as itís an emanation that lasts for several rounds (and that can be redirected as a move action), itís something you can cast in the first round or two before sending in your spectral army or using other spells. Your divine magician choice, waves of fatigue, is a phenomenal debuff that hits a good-sized area, drops Strength and Dex (making your shadows even scarier), and prevents your foes from running or charging, all without a save. Wall of stone may lack some of the charms of wall of sand, but itís harder to outright bypass it and it can be used in a lot of creative ways. Plus you have a whole bevy of powerful utility options (true seeing, break enchantment, raise dead, revivify, scrying, plane shift).
    11th Master of Shrouds 7
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Not much to talk about here; more spells are always nice, but nothing super interesting comes up at this level.
    12th Master of Shrouds 8 Divine Spell Power Summon undead (greater shadow) Greater anticipate teleportation
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Iím not a huge fan of pulling a single greater shadow at this level (though incorporeal Spring Attack is cute alongside your walls), but a pair of spectres or four wraiths? Now thatís something I can definitely get behind.

    As for 6th-level spells, there are some real doozies. Of particular note is greater dispel magic. This is the first level youíre really running into the CL cap on standard dispels, so removing it is huge. Death hail pelts a huge area with Strength- and Con-damaging stones for several rounds; it plays very nicely with your spectral army, which is immune to the hail and dishes out quite a bit of Strength or Con damage itself. Harm doubles as a powerful attack and a great way to fully restore one of your undead minions. And your divine magician spell this time around is greater anticipate teleportation. In addition to safeguarding you against common scry and die tactics (which would be more than good enough), this also seriously screws with short-range tactical teleportation in a very major way. Considering that youíre focused on locking down enemies, removing this means of bypassing your BFC is just the beeís knees.

    Oh, and I mentioned caster level. Take a look at this levelís feat. Divine Spell Power lets you spend a rebuke attempt to try to increase your caster level. Between synergy bonuses, a true holy symbol and the +3 bonus the feat itself provides, you should be looking at a bonus of +7 before adding your Charisma on any turning checks. With your Charisma focus, that should easily put you at +12 total at this level, meaning it is guaranteed to give you at least a +1 bonus to caster level (and gives as much as a +4 bonus on a roll of a 10 or higher). As levels progress and your Charisma increases (and you pick up other items to further increase Charisma checks), this becomes even more reliable. While you donít want to constantly burn through your rebuke attempts, this is a great way to successfully dispel against more powerful foes, or eke out some extra boosts with spells like incorporeal enhancement.
    13th Master of Shrouds 9
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Again, nothing big to talk about this level other than more spell slots.
    14th Master of Shrouds 10 Summon undead (dread wraith) Waves of exhaustion
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    And finally, you hit the capstone of Master of Shrouds. It was a good run, and it ends well. I know Iíve been harping on always summoning crowds instead of a single creature but the dread wraith on its own is actually really scary even at ECL 14, and a huge step up from the standard wraith. With a +18 to its incorporeal touch attack, a 10í reach, Combat Reflexes, Spring Attack and an excellent fly speed, itís very good at harrying foes. It can incorporeally bypass most of your lock-down magic, using Spring Attack and reach to safely attack and withdraw from the most dangerous enemies while still positioning itself to get the most use out of its Combat Reflexes. Plus this thing just has a pile of hit points and is almost impossible to evade thanks to its lifesense ability (which also has the handy advantage of allowing it to still function well inside a blizzard). And if that doesnít do it for you, you can always summon four spectres to swarm an opponent and start dishing out eight negative levels a round.

    But as good as your summoning abilities are, your clerical casting is still worth noting. Waves of fatigue gets upgraded to its big brother waves of exhaustion, which takes everything good about the former spell and cranks it up to 11: twice the area, a penalty three times as powerful, and an even better movement debuff. Honestly thereís a ton that clerics get at this level, like greater scrying, resurrection, destruction, control weather and dictum/holy word/blasphemy (the latter of which really loves the fact that you can punch above your ECL thanks to Divine Spell Power). You also get SMVII, which means that you can summon forth an avoral or bone devil. The avoral is great for spamming dispels alongside you, as it gets them at will, while the bone devil is an excellent combatant with several strong SLAs of its own and a very nice fear aura.
    15th Paragnostic Apostle 1 Extra Rebuking Holy texts, knowledge is power (penetrating insight), lore
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Paragnostic apostle is a pretty common filler PrC, offering decent but not gamebreaking benefits to just about any full caster. Here it keeps your casting up, advances your rebuking and helps ensure that both your summoning and your dispelling stay top notch. To start things off, go ahead and take penetrating insight, which improves your dispelling and helps you pierce spell resistance.

    Extra Rebuking isnít flashy, but as turning will be used both for Divine Spell Power and your best ďNOPEĒ option in Divine Defiance, getting another four attempts is always going to be appreciated.
    16th Paragnostic Apostle 2 Knowledge is power (call of worlds) Mind blank
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Adding fast healing onto a summoned critter isnít gamebreaking, but definitely doesnít hurt, especially for combat summons. Thatís nice, because in addition to your usual summoning options, at this level you can start summoning frost giants via your domain spell. Alongside the flexibility of SMVIII (you unfortunately wonít be able to summon a blue slaad due to alignment issues, but greater elementals are always, um, great, and Iím a huge fan of the celestial triceratops), you have some very nice options.

    Beyond summoning, as far as dispelling goes, itís really hard to beat chain dispel. And for your divine magician spell, there are a ton of fantastic options, but I feel like itís hard to go wrong with mind blank. Iíve said this elsewhere but in my opinion itís the best defensive buff spell in all of 3.5, providing serious and outright game-changing defenses that last all day long.
    17th Paragnostic Apostle 3 Knowledge is power (divine understanding)
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Since dispelling is such a key part of this build, letís boost it even further: use divine understanding alongside the liberation domain (it explicitly does not need to be a domain that you have access to or that your deity offers). Youíll get a +1 CL on all spells from that domain, which includes standouts like break enchantment and, yes, greater dispel magic.
    18th Contemplative 1 Extra Rebuking Bonus domain (law), divine health Mageís disjunction
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Well, with 9th-level spells, itís really hard to go wrong here. Clerics easily make up for their fairly sparse 8th-level options with a cornucopia of powerful choices here. Miracle in particular is absolutely incredible: not only does it have all the totally broken applications of wish, but it also is insanely flexible, duplicating any 8th-level or lower cleric spell or any 7th-level lower spell from any list without requiring you to burn any of your precious XP. Gate is, of course, similarly phenomenal. You also get imprisonment from the inquisition domain, and while Iím not a fan of touch spells that offer saving throws, itís trivially easy to dish out a -4 penalty on the save and a very nice way of stopping enemies that donít fear death. Oh, and since youíre specifically focused on completely shutting down foes, go ahead and grab disjunction via divine magician. Itís the best debuff in the game bar-none. I hear a lot of guff about how itís not worth it because it destroys loot, but when it comes to facing other spellcasters, thereís just no replacement. (If you really really donít like disjunction, reaving dispel is a solid replacement.)

    Dipping into contemplative at this point is more or less free, so enjoy your free domain. Unfortunately as a non-deity specific cleric, youíre limited to domains ďmade available by yourÖ alignment,Ē which in your case just means the law domain. This wonít give you many interesting new spells, but the +1 CL on law spells is certainly nice, especially for spells like dictum.

    And again, I recommend you continue increasing your rebuking pool. Even without Divine Metamagic, spell battles are so prominent at higher levels that leaving the option open to use Divine Defiance more or less every round is huge. Extra Rebuking may seem a bit lame as a capstone feat, but it can be a big help. (Youíve also got 18 effective rebuking levels and a Charisma focus, making your rebuking itself decently powerful all on its own if you ever encounter opposing undead.)
    19th Paragnostic Apostle 4 Knowledge is power (see through the veil)
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Might as well finish out paragnostic apostle while weíre at it; it basically gives you everything cloistered cleric would, but trades out 2 skill points per level for some neat extra abilities. See through the veil increases your effective turning level by 2, completely eliminating the levels you lost by dipping into church inquisitor and contemplative.
    20th Paragnostic Apostle 5 Knowledge is power (divine understanding)
    Spoiler: Build Notes
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    Go ahead and take divine understanding again, since further boosting CL never hurts. I recommend grabbing it for the inquisition or law domain this time around; boosting dictum is pretty much always going to be worthwhile.

    Spoiler: Divine magician spells
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    1: Ray of enfeeblement
    2: Arcane turmoil
    3: Incorporeal enhancement
    4: Dispelling screen
    5: Waves of fatigue
    6: Greater anticipate teleportation
    7: Waves of exhaustion
    8: Mind blank
    9: Mageís disjunction


    Spoiler: Stat Suggestions
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    Wisdom and Charisma are your bread and butter: Wisdom drives your clerical casting, while Charisma powers your master of shrouds abilities and rebuking. Ideally youíll want a passable Dexterity as well for purpose of ranged touch attacks (and because you lack the armor proficiencies of a standard cleric), but it doesnít require heavy investment and you shouldnít need much beyond that.

    SAMPLE STAT ARRAYS:
    28-point buy: Str 8/Dex 14/Con 12/Int 10/Wis 16/Cha 14
    32-point buy: Str 8/Dex 14/Con 12/Int 10/Wis 16/Cha 16


    Spoiler: Skills Notes
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    Most of your skill requirements should be fairly straightforward. All told, youíll require 13 ranks in knowledge (religion), 5 ranks in knowledge (arcana), 6 ranks in knowledge (the planes), 5 ranks in concentration and 5 ranks in spellcraft. Most of these are skills youíd want regardless, and you should have all the skill points necessary to hit these marks. Beyond that, spellcraft in particular is essential for anyone focused on dispelling and counterspelling, and concentration is always important.


    Spoiler: Equipment Recommendations
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    All the usual clerical goodies are great here, but you should especially be on the lookout for a prayer bead of karma, which gives a huge CL boost for its cost. In general, anything that increases caster level in particular will be of good use for you. Because your primary summoning is of the spectral variety, most common items Iíd suggest for a summoner (such as the ring of mighty summons) are less essential, though theyíre still not bad.

    In general, though, Cold World will be equipped like a standard cleric, and shouldnít require any specialized equipment.
    BUILD SUMMARY
    Though you end up delaying your spellcasting for a level, you still finish things off with 19 effective levels in cleric and all the goodness that comes with that. You also rebuke as a 20th-level cleric (and with a Charisma focus on the build, youíll likely be quite good at this). Rebuking doesnít really get a lot of attention outside of dedicated necromancers, probably because most clerics tend to prefer to use their rebuke attempts to power Divine Metamagic, but strong rebuking is very nice against many of the foes that would otherwise be immune to your most powerful debuffs.

    From an early level you have a variety of ways to hinder your opponents, many of which wouldnít be available to an ordinary cleric: from the always excellent snowsight plus obscuring snow combo and other storm-based spells brought to you by spontaneous casting of the Winter domain to the various walls that a cleric has access to, you have quite a few nice forms of BFC. You also have numerous ways to go after magical foes: you get your first dispel effect at ECL 3 with arcane turmoil and even pick up powerhouses like dispelling screen and mageís disjunction. Divine Defiance allows you to counter spells as an immediate action without requiring you to ready, and between Arcane Mastery, the inquisition domain and your various paragnostic apostle abilities, you should have an excellent dispel check that allows you to punch well above your ECL.

    And your summoning. You take a different approach to summoning than most, using your summons primarily as debuffs rather than as bruisers. With a single standard action you can summon a shadow at ECL 6, two shadows at ECL 8, four shadows at ECL 10, four wraiths at ECL 12 or a dread wraith or four spectres at ECL 14, and due to your high Charisma, you can do this several times in a single combat. Incorporeal creatures with ability or level drain are scary enough on their own, but when you add on the ability to lock down your foeís movements with BFC, suppress their magical gear or defensive buffs with your various dispels and counter their magic with Divine Defiance, they become downright oppressive. You can also accelerate their effectiveness either by buffing them with incorporeal enhancement or by further debuffing your enemies with ray of enfeeblement or waves of fatigue/exhaustion.

    VARIANTS
    A lot of the later levels of this build can easily be re-shuffled to fit in the divine prestige class of your choice. In fact, while I still highly recommend taking at least two levels in paragnostic apostle for the boost to your dispel checks, it is possible to take things in entirely different directions once you complete master of shrouds. For example, you could go with malconvoker for your last 6 levels, which would delay your spellcasting for another level but add on the planar binding line to your spell list and eventually allow you to double the effectiveness of your summoning spells.

    As for the basic fluff of the build, the Order of the Iron Glacier was my choice for a lawful good order per church inquisitorís requirements, but it is far from the only one. If you move away from the winter theme, there are still a ton of interesting options. How about a cleric devoted to Zouken who is a member of a lawful good monkís order, and uses the celerity domain to buff her shadows with haste? Or a strongheart halfling dedicated to an order of Yondalla with the creation domain, whose shadows sap the strength of those who would seek to use brute force against halfling communities? Or a cleric of the Brotherhood of Those Who Smile in the Face of Death, who uses the plant domain to trap foes with entangle or wall of thorns while his shades drag down those who would seek to deny a natural death? Once you take the core concept - a lock-down cleric who uses battlefield control and dispelling/counterspelling to leave foes vulnerable to her incorporeal undead - there are a lot of thematic directions you can take this.

    ***

    And thatís that! Please let us know what you think in the comments, and what youíd like to see for future showcases!
    Current project:
    Optimization Showcase in the Playground

    Former projects:
    Shadowcaster Handbook
    Archer Build Compendium

    Iron Chef Awards!
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    GOLD
    IC LXXVI: Talos
    IC LXXV: Alphonse Louise Constant
    IC XLIX: Babalon, Queen of Bones
    IC XLV: Dead Mists
    IC XL: Lycus Blackbeak
    IC XXXIX: AM-1468
    IC XXXV: Parsifal the Fool
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  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Cold World

    Usually I look at your builds, and think that they are good. Today I looked at it and was surprised. I enjoy this one.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    I feel like telling the ghost of Gary Gygax to hold your beer is a good way to suddenly stop being the GM, but I have to admit that this would probably be remarkably effective. At what, I dunno, but effective.
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    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Cold World

    I havenít looked at master of shrouds in a long time. For some reason I had it in my head that it was only 5 levels long. Wonder where I got that idea? Either way, powerful and interesting build as always!

    Itís actually fairly deceptively simpleóyou seem like you arenít really putting together any particularly unusual combos of feats or class features or anything. What you see is pretty much what you get. Where I think this build shines brightest is in your clear description of your tactics, putting some specifics on the broad potential power that (almost) full cleric casting brings to the table. I admit that the cleric list is by far my personal least favorite of the Big Three, so itís neat to see your explanation of what it can do when channeled towards a very specific goal.

    As usual, got a source list? I actually donít think I need to look anything up in particular for this one, but Iím not the only one reading it, and itís always good to have for future reference.
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    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Cold World

    Quote Originally Posted by Falontani View Post
    Usually I look at your builds, and think that they are good. Today I looked at it and was surprised. I enjoy this one.
    Awesome, glad you liked it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    I admit that the cleric list is by far my personal least favorite of the Big Three, so itís neat to see your explanation of what it can do when channeled towards a very specific goal.
    Mine too, truth be told. I think that at least personally, I've become so accustomed to just seeing clerics used as DMM persist machines that I'm always pleasantly surprised when I dig a bit deeper into their spell list.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    As usual, got a source list? I actually donít think I need to look anything up in particular for this one, but Iím not the only one reading it, and itís always good to have for future reference.
    Sure, happy to! I should really start including that in the main post when I write these upÖ

    • Complete Arcane (Arcane Mastery)
    • Complete Champion (Paragnostic apostle)
    • Complete Divine (Church inquisitor, contemplative, Divine Spell Power)
    • Complete Mage (Divine magician ACF, arcane turmoil)
    • Fiendish Codex II (Divine Defiance)
    • Frostburn (Winter domain, snowsight, obscuring snow, blizzard, ice slick, boreal winds, Beckon the Frozen)
    • Libris Mortis (Master of shrouds)
    • Spell Compendium (incorporeal enhancement, dispelling screen, greater anticipate teleportation, probably most of the other non-SRD spells I mentioned in the description that Iíve forgotten about)


    I think that about covers everything? Anything not mentioned should be core/SRD, unless Iíve missed something.
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    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Cold World

    I always love your builds, simply because of the clear and interesting commentary for each level and design decision. Thank you for making this!

    However, I have questions :
    • Does this still work if you use fractional BaB and saves?
    • Does the cleric have any actual attacks at first level, or is it relying on its tiny number of level 1 spells?
    • How does this cleric handle the spawn its undead risk creating? Rebuke them and cut them to bits if they're too inconvenient? That feels like it will make you hemorrhage rebuking attempts fast.

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    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Cold World

    Quote Originally Posted by TalonOfAnathrax View Post
    Does this still work if you use fractional BaB and saves?
    My understanding is that under fractional saves you still get the +2 when you take the first level of a class with a good save, so there shouldnít be a problem. If youíre only getting +1/2 every level in good Will save classes after the first, then you canít pull off the early entry into Master of Shrouds and it all kinda falls apart.

    Does the cleric have any actual attacks at first level, or is it relying on its tiny number of level 1 spells?
    Basically just spells. If youíre up against undead you can rebuke and can always plink away with a crossbow, but thatís basically it. That said, most characters will be in a similar situation at that level.

    How does this cleric handle the spawn its undead risk creating? Rebuke them and cut them to bits if they're too inconvenient? That feels like it will make you hemorrhage rebuking attempts fast.
    Thatís part of why we just filled in the later feat slots with Extra Rebuking.

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    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Cold World

    In the last thread I said I could've built it myself, this.. Not so much.. I've played clerics at high level, but a lot of these spells are totally new to me :D

    That's what I like most about these showcases, all the small details!!

    Thanks!

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    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Cold World

    Quote Originally Posted by TalonOfAnathrax View Post
    I always love your builds, simply because of the clear and interesting commentary for each level and design decision. Thank you for making this!

    However, I have questions :
    • Does this still work if you use fractional BaB and saves?
    • Does the cleric have any actual attacks at first level, or is it relying on its tiny number of level 1 spells?
    • How does this cleric handle the spawn its undead risk creating? Rebuke them and cut them to bits if they're too inconvenient? That feels like it will make you hemorrhage rebuking attempts fast.
    As Sam mentioned, fractional BAB is pretty irrelevant, but if you're going off the save table on p73 of UA then you won't have +5 Will at ECL 4, and you'll have to delay master of shrouds entry by a level. That's obviously not ideal, though you could certainly make it work.

    As for attacks at first level, you should have a 14 dex and crossbow proficiency, so that should be your fallback when you run out of ray of enfeeblement and ice slicks.

    And re: spawn, shadows only have 3 HD and should be easy rebuking targets. With three Extra Rebukings, you should be able to rebuke any spawn that pop up (and don't forget that they're under the control of your own shadow until it disappears as well, so you have some spare time). It's also only an issue for humanoids, since non-humanoids don't become shadows. If you're really worried about it, you can try to direct your shadows to attack without reducing humanoid opponents all the way to 0.

    Quote Originally Posted by Icarium View Post
    In the last thread I said I could've built it myself, this.. Not so much.. I've played clerics at high level, but a lot of these spells are totally new to me :D

    That's what I like most about these showcases, all the small details!!

    Thanks!
    Awesome, glad you liked it!
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    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Cold World

    I've built and played this before, so I'm going to have a lot to say about it. It was quite popular when Libris Mortis came out as well, so the territory is quite well plumbed. I had some key differences in the last 6 levels (as did others in the community). Here's a couple of things to note:

    1) Doomdreamer is the PrC for rebuking undead. Best of all, you don't even have to worship Tharizdun, you basically just need to have had a dream about him. This also makes Intelligence a priority, but it should be anyways to make sure you're hitting all the important Knowledge skills for your party.
    1.5) Speaking of rebuking, I don't think this build really accounts for just how powerful rebuking is. It needs a list of (or a link to one) the monsters you can create (and control) with Create Undead and Greater. It's by far your biggest asset and is essentially relegated to a footnote in what amounts to another zoo build. These rebuking levels can also be put to excellent use with spells like Substitute Domain and the litany of type-based rebuking domain granted abilities. Your zoo could easily included defeated wizards, bards, and other amazing party options.

    2) You need to address weaknesses with builds like this, particularly vs constructs and antimagic. Both of which shut down your favorite toys. And if they're powered up appropriately for this build's power level, will actually prove to be a real issue. I recommend Planar Touchstone for the Warforged domain granted ability to help counter the former and grow your zoo.

    3) Reserves of Strength is a game changer for dispelling, as it allows you to remove or exceed the cap on your dispel checks.

    4) Metamagic options. You completely ignore options like Rapid Spell that greatly enhance not only your core summoning spells (allowing you to get them out on the round they're cast), but also many of your core battlefield control spells like Blizzard. Chain Spell is a similar circumstance, in that it greatly increases the effectiveness of your dispels, buffing, and debuffing options. Finally, you should at least mention the awesomeness that is Quicken Spell-Like Ability, this was put to good use by my own build and a number of other builds in the community.

    I disagree with Beckon the Frozen. Ability damage and negative levels are your summons' bread and butter, and neither cares overmuch about the cold damage boost (which is why I initially thought this would be a Requiem Divine Bard -> Master of Shrouds build, because adding ~5+ strength damage to every shadow is really nice and a unique trick that hasn't received nearly as much attention). Catalogues of Enlightenment for the Warforged domain granted ability or working towards Reserves of Strength would be a few of my choices for a replacement. Fiendish Summoning Specialist could also have been cool.

    You don't get much of anything from the 4th and 5th level of Paragnostic Apostle. Penetrating Insight and See Through the Veil are the only two you really want, Call of Worlds is alright, but the battle will typically be over before it starts to pay off. Meanwhile, Divine Understanding does almost nothing for this build short of pumping Dictum. Would definitely find something else to do with these levels.

    The items section could certainly use some work. Without even book diving, options like Circlet of Persuasion/Admiral's Bicorne, Dispelling Chord, Rod of Defiance, Talisman of Undead Mastery, Reliquary Holy Symbol, and Nightstick(s) come to mind.
    Here's what I found with a quick search: Phylactery of Undead Turning (DMG), Scepter of the Netherworld (LM), (Greater) Flametouched Iron Holy Symbol (DotF + ECS), Sacred (armor/shield enhancement) (BoED), and Lyre of the Restful Soul (LM).
    The best thing about most of the rebuking items is that they're cheap. So you can put them on when you're using Create Undead/Greater + Rebuke and take them off when you're going to war.
    A Nightstick and Reliquary Holy Symbol go a long way in help mitigating your reliance on feats for rebuke attempts, thus allowing you to invest more in "power" options like metamagic. Of course, Metamagic Rods are a thing and I would certainly snatch up one for Rapid Spell, Extend, and (possibly) Chain or Sculpt to free up your choices even further.

    Your skill section also misses out on niche oddities like Craft (Sculpting) and ranks in Perform to utilize items like the Lyre of the Restful Soul or create amazing undead like the Bonesinger. But this was very low priority for me, especially with how easy it is for clerics to substitute skills with spells.

    A few thoughts on the Divine Magician choices (and Divine Magician is 100% the way to go):

    Missing out on Battlemagic Perception by taking Incorporeal Enhancement? For shame. That's 2 spells you could be counterspelling in a single round, and the ability to counter one of the counterspeller's greatest weaknesses: line of sight. It even frees up feats by giving you an additional resource to counterspell with off-turn. Of course, this also has to compete with Spellcaster's Bane for a +2 insight bonus to dispel checks and the ability to know the caster level of the spells you're trying to dispel. Tough choices, indeed, but both much greater than Incorporeal Enhancement.

    Spell Theft is incredible as a 5th level pick. Even if you don't make the dispel checks, knowning what spells they have on them automatically is WOW! Of course, spells like this are what Anyspell and Greater are for. So make sure you Substitute Domain or Contemplative dip for the Spell Domain. With spell domain in hand, you can now opt for other 9th level spell options such as Srinshee's Spell Shift, Absorption, Maw of Chaos, Prismatic Sphere, Hide Life, etc. and skip out on my next recommendation.

    Animate Dread Warrior is another big deal Divine Magician option (but it can be replaced with Limited Wish, should you grab Spell domain). Needs to at least be mentioned as an opportunity cost (a big one) in a summoning build. Especially when you consider Spell-stitching options. Of course, we aren't trying to break the game or anything...

    That about covers it for now.
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    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Cold World

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleven View Post
    I've built and played this before, so I'm going to have a lot to say about it. It was quite popular when Libris Mortis came out as well, so the territory is quite well plumbed. I had some key differences in the last 6 levels (as did others in the community). Here's a couple of things to note:

    1) Doomdreamer is the PrC for rebuking undead. Best of all, you don't even have to worship Tharizdun, you basically just need to have had a dream about him. This also makes Intelligence a priority, but it should be anyways to make sure you're hitting all the important Knowledge skills for your party.
    1.5) Speaking of rebuking, I don't think this build really accounts for just how powerful rebuking is. It needs a list of (or a link to one) the monsters you can create (and control) with Create Undead and Greater. It's by far your biggest asset and is essentially relegated to a footnote in what amounts to another zoo build. These rebuking levels can also be put to excellent use with spells like Substitute Domain and the litany of type-based rebuking domain granted abilities. Your zoo could easily included defeated wizards, bards, and other amazing party options.

    2) You need to address weaknesses with builds like this, particularly vs constructs and antimagic. Both of which shut down your favorite toys. And if they're powered up appropriately for this build's power level, will actually prove to be a real issue. I recommend Planar Touchstone for the Warforged domain granted ability to help counter the former and grow your zoo.

    3) Reserves of Strength is a game changer for dispelling, as it allows you to remove or exceed the cap on your dispel checks.

    4) Metamagic options. You completely ignore options like Rapid Spell that greatly enhance not only your core summoning spells (allowing you to get them out on the round they're cast), but also many of your core battlefield control spells like Blizzard. Chain Spell is a similar circumstance, in that it greatly increases the effectiveness of your dispels, buffing, and debuffing options. Finally, you should at least mention the awesomeness that is Quicken Spell-Like Ability, this was put to good use by my own build and a number of other builds in the community.

    I disagree with Beckon the Frozen. Ability damage and negative levels are your summons' bread and butter, and neither cares overmuch about the cold damage boost (which is why I initially thought this would be a Requiem Divine Bard -> Master of Shrouds build, because adding ~5+ strength damage to every shadow is really nice and a unique trick that hasn't received nearly as much attention). Catalogues of Enlightenment for the Warforged domain granted ability or working towards Reserves of Strength would be a few of my choices for a replacement. Fiendish Summoning Specialist could also have been cool.

    You don't get much of anything from the 4th and 5th level of Paragnostic Apostle. Penetrating Insight and See Through the Veil are the only two you really want, Call of Worlds is alright, but the battle will typically be over before it starts to pay off. Meanwhile, Divine Understanding does almost nothing for this build short of pumping Dictum. Would definitely find something else to do with these levels.

    The items section could certainly use some work. Without even book diving, options like Circlet of Persuasion/Admiral's Bicorne, Dispelling Chord, Rod of Defiance, Talisman of Undead Mastery, Reliquary Holy Symbol, and Nightstick(s) come to mind.
    Here's what I found with a quick search: Phylactery of Undead Turning (DMG), Scepter of the Netherworld (LM), (Greater) Flametouched Iron Holy Symbol (DotF + ECS), Sacred (armor/shield enhancement) (BoED), and Lyre of the Restful Soul (LM).
    The best thing about most of the rebuking items is that they're cheap. So you can put them on when you're using Create Undead/Greater + Rebuke and take them off when you're going to war.
    A Nightstick and Reliquary Holy Symbol go a long way in help mitigating your reliance on feats for rebuke attempts, thus allowing you to invest more in "power" options like metamagic. Of course, Metamagic Rods are a thing and I would certainly snatch up one for Rapid Spell, Extend, and (possibly) Chain or Sculpt to free up your choices even further.

    Your skill section also misses out on niche oddities like Craft (Sculpting) and ranks in Perform to utilize items like the Lyre of the Restful Soul or create amazing undead like the Bonesinger. But this was very low priority for me, especially with how easy it is for clerics to substitute skills with spells.

    A few thoughts on the Divine Magician choices (and Divine Magician is 100% the way to go):

    Missing out on Battlemagic Perception by taking Incorporeal Enhancement? For shame. That's 2 spells you could be counterspelling in a single round, and the ability to counter one of the counterspeller's greatest weaknesses: line of sight. It even frees up feats by giving you an additional resource to counterspell with off-turn. Of course, this also has to compete with Spellcaster's Bane for a +2 insight bonus to dispel checks and the ability to know the caster level of the spells you're trying to dispel. Tough choices, indeed, but both much greater than Incorporeal Enhancement.

    Spell Theft is incredible as a 5th level pick. Even if you don't make the dispel checks, knowning what spells they have on them automatically is WOW! Of course, spells like this are what Anyspell and Greater are for. So make sure you Substitute Domain or Contemplative dip for the Spell Domain. With spell domain in hand, you can now opt for other 9th level spell options such as Srinshee's Spell Shift, Absorption, Maw of Chaos, Prismatic Sphere, Hide Life, etc. and skip out on my next recommendation.

    Animate Dread Warrior is another big deal Divine Magician option (but it can be replaced with Limited Wish, should you grab Spell domain). Needs to at least be mentioned as an opportunity cost (a big one) in a summoning build. Especially when you consider Spell-stitching options. Of course, we aren't trying to break the game or anything...

    That about covers it for now.
    While I absolutely agree with most of your criticisms, Beckon the Frozen is very good on this build : this character will be spamming cold AoEs around the battlefield, and shadows aren't immune to cold damage unless you have Beckon the Frozen.

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    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Cold World

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleven View Post
    I've built and played this before, so I'm going to have a lot to say about it. It was quite popular when Libris Mortis came out as well, so the territory is quite well plumbed. I had some key differences in the last 6 levels (as did others in the community).
    I appreciate the feedback. Both Akal Saris and myself were also active on the old boards, so we definitely know there's a ton of history with MoS. This definitely isn't an attempt to make the definitive take on it or anything.

    Anyhow, I think the feedback is great. I'll comment on a few of these re: why we went in a different direction, but again, this is not at all the definitive MoS build, and pretty much everything in your post could be incorporated to some degree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleven View Post
    1) Doomdreamer is the PrC for rebuking undead. Best of all, you don't even have to worship Tharizdun, you basically just need to have had a dream about him. This also makes Intelligence a priority, but it should be anyways to make sure you're hitting all the important Knowledge skills for your party.
    I like Doomdreamer a lot but it requires Evil, so unfortunately it wasn't a great fit here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleven View Post
    1.5) Speaking of rebuking, I don't think this build really accounts for just how powerful rebuking is. It needs a list of (or a link to one) the monsters you can create (and control) with Create Undead and Greater. It's by far your biggest asset and is essentially relegated to a footnote in what amounts to another zoo build. These rebuking levels can also be put to excellent use with spells like Substitute Domain and the litany of type-based rebuking domain granted abilities. Your zoo could easily included defeated wizards, bards, and other amazing party options.
    Indeed, rebuking can be quite strong; we tried to make keeping it up a priority, though we didn't want it to be the main focus of the build. I do quite like the idea of substitute domain to swap out different rebuking domain granted abilities, although it would require worshiping a deity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleven View Post
    2) You need to address weaknesses with builds like this, particularly vs constructs and antimagic. Both of which shut down your favorite toys.
    Antimagic is definitely annoying. Constructs are always a pain, though this build does have access to some solid SR: No BFC spells that can bypass a golem's immunities, so that helps.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleven View Post
    4) Metamagic options. You completely ignore options like Rapid Spell that greatly enhance not only your core summoning spells (allowing you to get them out on the round they're cast), but also many of your core battlefield control spells like Blizzard. Chain Spell is a similar circumstance, in that it greatly increases the effectiveness of your dispels, buffing, and debuffing options. Finally, you should at least mention the awesomeness that is Quicken Spell-Like Ability, this was put to good use by my own build and a number of other builds in the community.
    Would love Quicken SLA for obvious reasons, but by my reading the feat doesn't work with summon undead as there's no effective spell level provided. The summon undead class feature doesn't duplicate summon monster I but rather "the summon monster line of spells" in general.

    Rapid Spell and Chain Spell sound like great options if you aren't getting them as rods, yeah. Could both go in over one or both copies of Extra Rebuking.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleven View Post
    I disagree with Beckon the Frozen. Ability damage and negative levels are your summons' bread and butter, and neither cares overmuch about the cold damage boost
    The extra damage can add up in low levels and means your shadows aren't useless against things that aren't vulnerable to ability damage. More importantly, Beckon the Frozen gives the cold subtype to your summons, which in turn gives them an immunity to cold.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleven View Post
    You don't get much of anything from the 4th and 5th level of Paragnostic Apostle. Penetrating Insight and See Through the Veil are the only two you really want, Call of Worlds is alright, but the battle will typically be over before it starts to pay off. Meanwhile, Divine Understanding does almost nothing for this build short of pumping Dictum. Would definitely find something else to do with these levels.
    Yeah, those were basically just tossed in because we couldn't think of anything else that the build easily qualified for that progressed both casting and rebuking. I figured those two abilities, as marginal as they are, were worth more than the two skill points per level as compared to just taking more cloistered cleric levels.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleven View Post
    The items section could certainly use some work. Without even book diving, options like Circlet of Persuasion/Admiral's Bicorne, Dispelling Chord, Rod of Defiance, Talisman of Undead Mastery, Reliquary Holy Symbol, and Nightstick(s) come to mind.
    Here's what I found with a quick search: Phylactery of Undead Turning (DMG), Scepter of the Netherworld (LM), (Greater) Flametouched Iron Holy Symbol (DotF + ECS), Sacred (armor/shield enhancement) (BoED), and Lyre of the Restful Soul (LM).
    The best thing about most of the rebuking items is that they're cheap. So you can put them on when you're using Create Undead/Greater + Rebuke and take them off when you're going to war.
    A Nightstick and Reliquary Holy Symbol go a long way in help mitigating your reliance on feats for rebuke attempts, thus allowing you to invest more in "power" options like metamagic. Of course, Metamagic Rods are a thing and I would certainly snatch up one for Rapid Spell, Extend, and (possibly) Chain or Sculpt to free up your choices even further.
    These all sound like perfect additions. The gear section is always the part of these builds I'm least interested in writing and the part I put off until the very end, so it sometimes gets the short shrift. All of these are perfect though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleven View Post
    Missing out on Battlemagic Perception by taking Incorporeal Enhancement? For shame. That's 2 spells you could be counterspelling in a single round, and the ability to counter one of the counterspeller's greatest weaknesses: line of sight. It even frees up feats by giving you an additional resource to counterspell with off-turn. Of course, this also has to compete with Spellcaster's Bane for a +2 insight bonus to dispel checks and the ability to know the caster level of the spells you're trying to dispel. Tough choices, indeed, but both much greater than Incorporeal Enhancement.
    We actually considered battlemagic perception but decided to pass because it felt a bit redundant alongside Divine Defiance, and its duration and the limited number of divine magician slots meant it couldn't be an outright replacement for it. It's handy for when you need to counter two spells in a round, but I thought that incorporeal enhancement would be more consistently useful overall unless in a campaign that specifically devolved into caster vs caster matches previously (the fact that it boosts multiple targets and gives them several across-the-board buffs makes it a nice way to keep your shadows threatening into the mid-levels). That said, I missed the bit about it only requiring line of effect, not line of sight, to perceive magic. That's really really nice, and does make me think maybe we should have gone with battlemagic after all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleven View Post
    Spell Theft is incredible as a 5th level pick. Even if you don't make the dispel checks, knowning what spells they have on them automatically is WOW!
    Another one we considered, though the fact that it couldn't be used to counterspell and was pretty much exclusively limited to taking out buffstacks (which the other dispel options did, if less efficiently) was our main reason for passing. But it's still a great option and very much fits with the theme.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleven View Post
    Of course, spells like this are what Anyspell and Greater are for. So make sure you Substitute Domain or Contemplative dip for the Spell Domain.
    Unfortunately to meet the various PrC requirements, you need to be a non-evil cleric of a lawful good religious order who channels negative energy (meaning no being a neutral cleric of a good god). The only realistic way we could make that work without dealing with the messiness of changing religion mid-build was with a non-deity specific cleric, which severely limits options for contemplative. Otherwise there are a ton of better options than the Law domain, and Spell is definitely more or less at the top of the list.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sleven View Post
    Animate Dread Warrior is another big deal Divine Magician option (but it can be replaced with Limited Wish, should you grab Spell domain). Needs to at least be mentioned as an opportunity cost (a big one) in a summoning build. Especially when you consider Spell-stitching options. Of course, we aren't trying to break the game or anything...
    I tried to shy away from creating new undead more than was necessary for alignment reasons (you'll already likely have a hell of a time convincing your LG religious order that the spawn your shadows end up creating are really just serving the greater good), but yeah, animate dread warrior is always great.
    Current project:
    Optimization Showcase in the Playground

    Former projects:
    Shadowcaster Handbook
    Archer Build Compendium

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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2014

    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Cold World

    As always i would like anything from tome of magic that isnt just anima mage divine for limitess persistomancy lul.

    I really want shadowcaster to work as well but I fail to see how generally.

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