Starlight Captain - An Essentials-Ready Leader

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Starlight Captain
An Essentials-Ready Semi-Leader/Controller/Striker-thing

Knight by *sweetmoon (DeviantArt)

After perusing the Essentials previews, I've noticed an interesting trend towards Melee Basic attacks. It's easy to see characters entering the board that are quite good at making them. As it is however, Melee Basic Attacks are kinda boring to waste a standard action on. This Leader is built to remedy that. The goal is to grant as many melee basic attacks per encounter as possible, through a variety of methods.

There are no significant weaknesses to the build that I'm able to determine except simply that damage is not a main focus of this build. You will not personally achieve high DPR with this build. However, with the amount of attacks per round, some great mobility for you and your party, and some ways to shut down enemies, you'll find this to be a powerful leader overall. This build is a good example of a different approach to a rather classic warlock, while still leveraging all the benefits of its warlord side. While not a direct replacement for a good leader, it does do some things a good leader should, and then some: Grant Attacks. Heal. Frustrate Enemies. Boost Initiative.




The Basics:


The core of the build is spun off of the Warlock's Curse, and treating it as not just a damage component, but as a leader element, and employ a handful of feats to make it into a debuff that stands on its own. The function of the build is to gain the effect of your Student of Caiphon lvl 16 pp feature (Caiphon's Intercession) to generate attacks instead of your typical pact boon. This build really does an effective job of melding Warlord and Warlock, keeping attacks rolling and generating melee basics throughout combat. Though typically you'll use your standard action on your high-damage Eldritch Blast, you'll still grant melee basics when any of the following occur:

-You use Direct the Strike.
-Your cursed enemy drops to 0.
-Your cursed enemy is bloodied.
-You spend an action point.
-You crit.

Assuming you can get the items you need, the build can get a paragon tier teleport move speed that nearly meets it's run speed. As well. Finally, this build really does have decent warlock-level damage capacity, though perhaps not quite as much as a warlock focused solely on damage.  

The build's defenses may appear on the weak side, but with the right gear and proper application of powers, the little bonuses really start stacking. Any seasoned warlock could probably explain this better, but your curse adds a good amount to defenses. Also, once the CB updates the implement/defense feats, they will see immediate application.

-2 to attacks vs. allies.
+2 to all defenses (Warding Curse)
+2 to all defenses (Armor of Dark Majesty)
+1 to all defenses (Warlock's Braces)
Concealment (Shadow Walk)





Starlight Captain, lvl 30



====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Starlight Captain, level 30
Tiefling, Warlock|Warlord, Student of Caiphon, Sage of Ages
Eldritch Pact (Hybrid): Fey Pact (Hybrid)
Hybrid Warlock: Hybrid Warlock Reflex
Warlord Leadership: Combat Leader (Hybrid)
Eldritch Blast: Eldritch Blast Charisma
Hybrid Warlord: Hybrid Warlord Fortitude
Hybrid Talent: Prime Shot
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Light Blade)
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Rod)
Arcane Implement Proficiency: Arcane Implement Proficiency (Dagger)
Twofold Pact: Star Pact


FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 10, Con 14, Dex 14, Int 26, Wis 12, Cha 26.


STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 8, Con 12, Dex 12, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 16.



AC: 44 Fort: 37 Reflex: 44 Will: 44
HP: 171 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 42


TRAINED SKILLS
Endurance +22, Arcana +34, Intimidate +34


UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +17, Bluff +31, Diplomacy +23, Dungeoneering +22, Heal +16, History +29, Insight +16, Nature +22, Perception +16, Religion +29, Stealth +19, Streetwise +23, Thievery +17, Athletics +15


FEATS
Level 1: Hybrid Talent
Level 2: Versatile Expertise
Level 4: Arcane Implement Proficiency
Level 6: Bloodied Boon
Level 8: Superior Implement Training (Accurate dagger)
Level 10: Improved Defenses
Level 11: Twofold Pact
Level 12: Combat Commander
Level 14: Silvery Glow
Level 16: Acolyte of the Veil
Level 18: Nightmare Master
Level 20: Cursed Shadow
Level 21: Enabling Shot
Level 22: Cursed Spells
Level 24: Called Shot
Level 26: Protective Hex
Level 28: Warding Curse
Level 30: Student of the Athanaeum


POWERS
Hybrid at-will 1: Eldritch Blast
Hybrid at-will 1: Direct the Strike
Hybrid encounter 1: Vengeance is Mine
Hybrid daily 1: Star Shackles
Hybrid utility 2: Caiphon's Leap
Hybrid encounter 3: Delban's Deadly Attention
Hybrid daily 5: Scent of Victory
Hybrid utility 6: Reorient the Axis
Hybrid encounter 7: Sign of Ill Omen
Hybrid daily 9: Warlord's Recovery
Hybrid utility 10: Ethereal Sidestep
Hybrid encounter 13: Blade Burst Trap (replaces Delban's Deadly Attention)
Hybrid daily 15: Far Realm Glimpse (replaces Star Shackles)
Hybrid utility 16: Forbidden Ground
Hybrid encounter 17: Strand of Fate (replaces Sign of Ill Omen)
Hybrid daily 19: Exhorted Counterattack (replaces Scent of Victory)
Hybrid utility 22: Avenge Me
Hybrid encounter 23: We Will Not Fail (replaces Vengeance is Mine)
Hybrid daily 25: Ring of Torment (replaces Far Realm Glimpse)
Hybrid encounter 27: Curse of the Fey King (replaces Strand of Fate)
Hybrid daily 29: Break it Up (replaces Warlord's Recovery)


ITEMS
Adventurer's Kit, Radiant Accurate dagger +6, Backlash Tattoo (heroic tier), Warlock's Bracers (paragon tier), Mantle of the Golden General +6, Golden Crown of Battle Command (paragon tier), Ring of the Radiant Storm (paragon tier), Ring of Retreat (paragon tier), Starleather Armor of Dark Majesty +6, Siberys Shard of Radiance (epic tier), Rhythm Blade Accurate dagger +1, Gloves of the Healer (epic tier), Cincture of Vivacity (paragon tier), Eladrin Boots (paragon tier)
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I like it - few points I would change slightly, personally. For one, you can't trade away your second at-will as Eternal Seeker, as you need to have one of each class, I think.

For another - I would personally change the bought stats. Shaman multiclass doesn't seem that important so early - you could easily buy:

8/12/10/18/12/18, post racials, and save that Hybrid Talent for Bravura or Tactical Presence, seriously boosting your team's nova potential. Accurate Implement is seriously too good to give up, I think take Light Blades and use an Accurate Dagger, or stick with Rods and take Radiant One as your Epic Destiny (using Light Blades through Paragon, I suppose? element cheese is weird).

Edit: You also don't have a Pact Boon and can't get one unless you use Twofold Pact to grab Star instead of starting it (or somehow do both if you get a full retrain at Paragon)
lotta magic items for an essentials build, including a shield+arms?

Also, I'm sure I'm missing something stupid (I'm slow, I admit it), but how are you dealing with your Fort being a virtual auto-hit?  I see Warding Curse, but that's still only a 35
This brings up a really interesting point, namely, with the basic attack being the main form of combat for essential fighters and rouges paired with a lazy Warlord are even more powerful (almost overpower), as all of their basic attack buffs are available on what should be relatively weak basic attacks.

I have not actually read essentials yet, but I have looked at the previews. 
I like it - few points I would change slightly, personally. For one, you can't trade away your second at-will as Eternal Seeker, as you need to have one of each class, I think.

For another - I would personally change the bought stats. Shaman multiclass doesn't seem that important so early - you could easily buy:

8/12/10/18/12/18, post racials, and save that Hybrid Talent for Bravura or Tactical Presence, seriously boosting your team's nova potential. Accurate Implement is seriously too good to give up, I think take Light Blades and use an Accurate Dagger, or stick with Rods and take Radiant One as your Epic Destiny (using Light Blades through Paragon, I suppose? element cheese is weird).

Edit: You also don't have a Pact Boon and can't get one unless you use Twofold Pact to grab Star instead of starting it (or somehow do both if you get a full retrain at Paragon)



I'm gonna have to get home to go over some of these points, but I should clarify a few things. I didn't trade away an at-will as Eternal Seeker, I just forgot to pick my second at-will. XD

I really hate the hybrid version of Commanding Presence. Once per encounter on an ally action point is a bonus (of whichever presence) maybe once per every other encounter in actual play. Typically speaking, a party will blow action points all together in the same round, not to mention the same encounter.

I take two-fold pact at level 11 exactly to select the paragon path (Student of Caiphon), which grants the pact boon explicitly for the selected Pact.  

I really don't care for radiant one on a build that doesn't focus on stacking damage mods. Without that lvl 21 feature, radiant one really doesn't seem so appealing. I like the action point effect as well as the sage-of-ages option and the power-cherry-picking that eternal seeker provides more.

Accurate implement is too good to give up. I think now that I have the build as I do, I might reevaluate that when I get home. 



lotta magic items for an essentials build, including a shield+arms?

Also, I'm sure I'm missing something stupid (I'm slow, I admit it), but how are you dealing with your Fort being a virtual auto-hit?  I see Warding Curse, but that's still only a 35


 

Magical items are not super-essential to this build, except for the radiant weapon. That's kinda a requirement. You could add or remove them at will. They mostly just enhance a given tactic, rather than are required. You've got a point though, I need to remove the non-common items.

I'm not mitigating Fort being basically an auto-hit. There simply aren't enough fort attacks in the MMs to justify making it a huge point. Furthermore, this build isn't intended to be a stand-up secondary defender in the least. It's a weakness that personally I consider acceptable.
Don't you need to keep a Warlock encounter attack power and a Warlock daily attack power?

That's a great question, and probably one that a number of people could argue about. My thought on it is this: Eternal Seeker allows me to select from any class, and that Eternal Seeker feature from my Epic Destiny is more specific than the general hybrid rule requiring me to select encounters/dailies from each class. Since Specific > General, I get to ignore that rule for those particular power choices. I don't get to do it for other power choices, but specifically the ones that Eternal Seeker enables.

That sounds like a fairly reasonable argument, Sagacious-Atom. I'd allow it.

I've got to say, you can get a lot more mileage out of this character with Shadow Walk & Higher Int than Warlord Armor Proficiency. Pick up either Armor of Dark Majesty or Shadow Warlock's Armor for AC or attack bonus. You can make up for a lack of a shield with a Rhythm or Shielded blade and a Disembodied Hand/Rakshasa Claw/Court Attendant familiar. Which will let you juggle out a Rod of Corruption as a free to curse the ever-living hell out of everything in your way. 

Hmmmm... I like your idea about swapping those out. One of my initial views of this character was a more front-lines leader, even though this character is a bit more effective being in the second line. That gives the character substantially more mobility, as well as knocking down his weak physical defenses. That said, Rod of Corruption might be counter-intuitive. I'd really rather EVERY SINGLE pact boon proc create a melee basic attack. The idea is that this character walks into an encounter knowing exactly how many MBAs he can toss per round. I'd really rather spend other actions that can't create a mba than my boons. Minor actions (for the most part) as well as enhanced cursing through feats (twofold curse, vengeful curse [the latter of which isn't actually fit into this build]).

I need to go through the Rod options too, to really get the most out of those. It's possible I missed something that could further enhance the effects I'm already using.

The build has been updated. Changes are as thus:

-(Hybrid Talent Class Feature) Swapped Warlord Armor Proficiency with Shadow Walk.
-(Ability Scores) Changed from 8, 10, 10, 13, 13, 18 to 9, 10, 10, 16, 13, 16 to even out ability scores.
-(lvl 10 feat) Replaced Improved Inspiring Word with Superior Implement Training (Accurate Dagger).
-(lvl 24 feat) Replaced Royal Command of Asmodeus with Robust Defenses.
-(Hybrid at-will 1) Added Warlord's Direct the Strike.
-(Hybrid Daily 25) Replaces Frenzied Rhythm with Thrall
-(item) Replaced Radiant Longsword +6 with Radiant Accurate dagger +6
-(item) Replaced Shield of Deflection with Rhythm Blade Accurate dagger +1
-(item) Replaced Eladrin Spiritmail +6 with Starleather Armor of Dark Majesty +6

Overall effect:

-Better at intelligence attacks, now can use INT and CHA interchangably. Cha still provides the same attack bonus (Accurate implement). 
-Stronger Defenses overall, more "move" based mobility, less teleportation distance.
-No more burst 5 domination for 2 rounds. Domination (save ends) has been added.
-Slightly Weaker healing.
-Added forgotten Warlord at-Will.
-No more weird "Bard-flavor".

Shouldn't your Versatile Expertise include daggers?  Right now it's set for heavy blades and rods.
Fix'd. Thanks. XD
SagAt,

Warlock|Warlord is a potentially devastating pairing, but you're not squeezing as much out of it as you can here.

You should really focus on damage, IMO. This build has no hope of being a legitimate Leader at any point before L11, and making it one by that point requires giving up some positives that you have included.

Keep:
-- Cha/Int focus.
-- Combat Leader/Combat Commander
-- Reorient at 6
-- Student of Caiphon + Enabling Shot
-- probably... Shadow Walk. Prime Shot would be an OK alternative, but Shadow Walk is the way to go if you aren't using Eyes of the Vestige, and are operating at range.

Drop:
-- any feat that gets in the way of damage focus.

No one will ever say, "lets take that guy instead of a (taclord, cleric, artificer, etc)". In plain english, they're better leaders-- even generic representations.

BUT...

Would you rather run with a straight warlock, or a guy who hits nearly (or just as) hard, but also boosts party initiative, heals 1-2 times per encounter, and has Reorient the Axis in his pocket?


That's where the money is, IMO.
Has anyone confirmed that you can take a feat at level 11 and qualify for a PP?
It is perfectly legal to retrain to take a PP, since retraining has a fuzzy timing to it.

Laz 
To those interested, I've retooled the build to include a bit more of a damage focus, and as well shore up a few of the weaker defenses. As it is right now, against a cursed enemy with shadow walk, this build will be looking at Fort 43 being its lowest defense, and AC 51 being its highest.

If anyone has any recommendations for improving the damage-focus of this build, please make them clear.
A few more updates have been added lately, with a removed cleric multiclass, an added assassin multiclass (for shadow walk and daze with fear powers), which opens up using Prime Shot and Called Shot. I removed Radiant One and added Sage of Ages. I think, overall, this version accomplishes more of my intentions with this build.
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