Ardent/Stygian Adept/Topaz Crusader
Build Goal: To create a master of battlefield positioning and area effect debuffing capable of spamming a Demoralizing Strike that debuffs, slides, and slows. In addition, to optimize the Second Wind features of Ardent to produce a fully functional healer/leader. And, finally, to mix in basic attack granting and enabling, for those that can't take advantage of the area effect debuffing.
Half-Elf Ardent/Fighter/Stygian Adept/Topaz Crusader
Theme: Noble Adept
Level 1: Str 13 Con 16 Dex 12 Int 8 Wis 13 Cha 18
Level 30: Str 15 Con 24 Dex 14 Int 10 Wis 15 Cha 28
Bluff +29, Diplomacy +33, Streetwise +29, Intimidate +31, Endurance +27
AC 51 = 10 + 15 + 20 (plate) + 2 (shield) + 3 (TC) + 1 (spec)
Fort 50 = 10 + 15 + 7 + 6 + 1 (class) + 3 (id) + 4 (epic) + 2 (TC) + 2 (*dc)
Ref 44 = 10 + 15 + 2 + 6 + 3 (id) + 4 (epic) + 2 (TC) + 2 (shield)
Will 46 = 10 + 15 + 9 + 6 + 1 (class) + 3 (id) + 2 (TC)
Immune to daze, dominate, polymorph, immobilize, restrain
Hit Points/Surges/Power Points
Hit Points 179, Bloodied 89, Surge Value 44, Surges per Day 13
Power Points 20
Initiative +23 (15+2+6)
Dilettante: Eldritch Strike (Cha)
AW 1: Energizing Strike
AW 1: Demoralizing Strike
Enc 1: Battle Awareness Feat
Daily 1: Implanted Suggestion
Utility 2: Sympathetic Agony
AW 3: Ire Strike
Daily 5: Invitation to Defeat
Utility 6: Grit and Spittle (retrain to Evade Attack at level 21)
AW 7: Forward Thinking Cut (replaces Ire Strike)
Daily 9: Passage of Swords
Utility 10: Tower of Iron Will
Enc 11: Stygian Strike
Utility 12: Haunting Shadows
AW 13: No change
Daily 15: Coordinated Effort (replaces Implanted Suggestion)
Utility 16: Reactive Resistance
AW 17: Terrifying Deluge (replaces Focusing Strike)
Daily 19: Mind Rend (replaces Passage of Swords)
Daily 20: Subconscious Horror
Utility 22: Rapid Recovery
AW 23: Revelatory Slash (replaces Forward-Thinking Cut)
Daily 25: Corona of Battle (replaces Mind Rend)
Daily 26: Topaz Corona
AW 27: No change
Daily 29: Violent Spark (replaces Coordinated Effort)
L1: Battle Awareness
L2: Flail Expertise
L4: Wind of Sympathy
L6: Bolstering Mantle
L8: Shield Proficiency (Light)
L10: Timely Respite (retrain to Versatile Master at 11)
L11: Hindering Shield
L12: Striking Resurgence
L14: Improved Ardent Surge
L16: Improved Defenses
L18: Armor Proficiency (Scale)
L20: Bolstering Wind
L21: Epic Recovery
L22: Shield Proficiency (Heavy)
L24: Epic Reflex
L26: Epic Fortitude
L28: Armor Proficiency (Plate)
L30: Armor Specialization (Plate)
Staggering Alhulak +6, Benefactor Godplate +6, Timeless Locket +6, Focused Shield, Diamond Cincture (Paragon), Strikebacks, Spark Slippers, Battle Standard of the Hungry Blade, Iron Ring of the Dwarf Lords (x2), Cloak of the Walking Wounded
Demoralizing Strike: The core of the build is a sliding, slowing, debuffing 1+Con defenses, close burst 1 Demoralizing Strike. At level 30, it is possible to use the aug 2 of Demo Strike an astounding 10 times (more if you recover power points). With a Staggering Weapon, Demo Strike, thanks to Stygian Adept, slides 1+6=7 squares. Plus more if you wanted to add Rushing Cleats or Bludgeon Expertise+Hammer. This build can pretty much put monsters exactly where it wants on the battlefield, and set them up for powerful burst/area attacks. Unaugmented, you can knock prone via Flail Expertise.
Fleeing Fear from Stygian Adept makes it slide, and the Hindering Shield (taken at level 11) feat makes anything that slides while you're using a shield also slow. (See the relevant Customer Service rulings in the next post). Terrifying Deluge slides/slows both when you do it, and when the ally hits, and Stygian Strike gains a slide in addition to the push also.
Ideal Party to Work With Slidesalot: Ideally, the party can take advantage of the area effect debuff and positioning with multitarget powers. Imagine Sir Slides and a defender with 3 monsters in between them. SS can Demo Strike, and the defender (a fighter, say) could Cruel Reaper with a huge bonus to hit. Sorcerers and any area effect users work beautifully with this debuff. World Serpent's Grasp also becomes an incredible feat for any of these party members to take, since you will be keeping multiple monsters slowed all the time (it's not so good for us, though, because Hindering Shield only slows until the start of our next turn).
"Angry Birds" Action Points: A common tactic is to pull monsters to Sir Slides and spend an action point to Demo Strike them all, sliding them back out debuffed, slowed and squawking like angry birds =) Terrifying Deluge can pull monsters in a close burst 2, and the incredible Invitation to Defeat can pull everything in a close burst 5. This daily is so strong, it can pull, weaken, debuff defenses (Demo Strike AP), and give Con+Cha extra damage when hit (Stygian Adept AP feature). Sir Slides can "borrow" monsters, debuff them, then send them back out to their respective targets w/Demo Strike.
Sir Slides is not too item dependent, but a Staggering Weapon is kind of essential to really take advantage of the positioning.
I chose to eliminate the epic dazing at-wills in this build, mainly because other than second wind basic attacks (from Striking Resurgence) and Stygian Strike, Sir Slides is unlikely to be using melee attacks. Mostly, he will be doing close bursts or granting attacks, none of which benefit from the daze. The +1 to hit that is lost from switching to hammer is just more relevant imo, since it strongly penalizes all the close bursts. Plus Flail Expertise is excellent on our basic attacks, letting us knock prone.
Second Wind Optimization: Sir Slidesalot can spend 2 second winds an encounter at epic. His second wind grants a free basic attack (which slides 7 squares and slows or knocks prone), a free second wind to an ally (Wind of Sympathy), free hit points to all in the mantle radius (Bolstering Wind), and a free saving throw to an ally in the mantle radius (Bolstering Mantle). All of this without even losing an attack!
Fearsome Zone and the Power of Defense: Ardents are commonly considered to be somewhat weak defensively, but this really isn't the case (at least in paragon/epic). Once Fearsome Zone kicks in, the Ardent is often effectively +2 against all melee attacks, while also debuffing the monsters for allies with an area -2 penalty. Once Topaz Crusader arrives, SS picks up an enormous boost to all defenses as well as many immunities.
Saving Throws: Sir Slides makes the rather unusual choice of using Bolstering Mantle and Sympathetic Agony to deal with saving throws rather than taking Focusing Strike. If your DM allows Mark of Healing, by all means, take it (consider Shared Vigor at 19, then, and keeping Coordinated Effort at 29). Sympathetic Agony is nice for dealing with a nasty condition on a striker. You can take it, then Grit and Spittle it away (which grants an additional save to another ally via Bolstering Mantle). (Or, at epic, often just ignore it, because it's something Topaz Crusader gives us immunity to). Bolstering Mantle can be triggered with an Energizing Strike giving us a surge, with second winds, or with powers like Grit and Spittle and Coordinated Effort.
Melee Basic Attacks/Enabling: Sir Slides is no warlord or animist shaman, but he's not bad in the attack granting department, at least for melee basics. Starting at level 3, the build always has an attack-granting power such as Ire Strike, Forward Thinking Cut, and Revelatory Slash. FTC, in particular, is so strong it's ridiculous; a warlord would kill to have a 3 attack power (1 on off, 2 on focus) that doesn't even require a hit to trigger the charges. This power crushes warlord powers like On My Mark, Signal the Charge, and Race the Arrow due to not needing an attack roll (with the admitted drawback that the ardent must be adjacent to an enemy, and the party must have two characters who can charge). Stygian Strike is also a nice positioning/attack granting power (both pushing and sliding/knocking prone).
SS lacks the ranged capability of Warlord's Direct the Strike or Shaman's Spirit Infusion until level 23, when Revelatory Slash fills this role; granting two at-wills can be extremely strong, especially if SS has been paired with a sorcerer or other multiattacker (Demo Strike + Revelatory Slash, etc).
Initiative and Mobility... Looks Awful!: It is the one glaring weakness of the build. Coordinated Effort can help somewhat by giving a minor action flying move in the first round. Boots of Speed should be highly sought after. Heavy Armor Agility could also be taken if you really feel like your Slidesalot needs a speed of 6.
Front-Loaded: Like all my builds, I tried to make SS strong right from level 1. Battle Awareness plus a Dilettante Eldritch Strike gives a super strong extra encounter power. Not only does SS get a guaranteed extra attack, but the attack is an interrupt that slides, and so it can also foil a monster attack. Wind of Sympathy early also adds a lot of healing "ooomph" at low levels when most likely to run out of resources. I also chose Ire Strike at level 3 so that the build can be aiding and abetting thieves, rogues, slayers, barbarians, etc., right away instead of waiting for level 7 and Forward Thinking Cut.