Practical Group Optimization (the old Warlord/Slayer trick with some new twists)

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So, I'm trying to put together a reasonably well-optimized 5-PC team. Between the lot of them, they need to be able to handle a wide variety of situations both on- and off-battlefield. They also need to have good "fluff" - i.e., every choice on the character sheet needs to come together into a cohesive narrative whole. Right now, I'm focussing optimization at early heroic (1-5), although it'd be nice to know that they can continue to grow impressively as they adventure together.

We'll start with the party leader.

 Sanaoi is the youngest son of the ruling shogunate family that once held the entire kingdom together. While he's not in line to the throne, he's still expected to make a good showing of himself. His childhood was spent apprenticed to the family's master swordsmith, learning to craft moon-and-water blades in the style of the legendary founder of the school. He has earned enough respect to be granted a pair of ancestral moon-and-water blades made by the school's founder himself, and has proven himself sufficiently competent with a bow to be granted the use of his father's hunting greatbow. He is still hopeful that he wil prove himself worthy to wield his great-grandfather's spear, which pierced the heart of the dragon Eightfold Sorrows in year 167.

Sanaoi, level 5 Half-Elf Warlord/Artificer
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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Warlord Leadership Option: Combat Leader (Hybrid)
Hybrid Warlord Option: Hybrid Warlord Will
Hybrid Artificer Option: Hybrid Artificer Fortitude
Half-Elf Power Selection Option: Knack for Success
Warsmith (Warsmith Benefit)
Theme: Noble 

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 12, DEX 10, INT 19, WIS 16, CHA 13 

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 10, DEX 10, INT 18, WIS 13, CHA 13  AC: 19
Fort: 15 Ref: 17 Will: 17
HP: 44 Surges: 7 Surge Value: 11 

TRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +11, Diplomacy +10, Perception +10 

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +2, Athletics +1, Bluff +3, Dungeoneering +5, Endurance +3, Heal +5, History +6, Insight +7, Intimidate +3, Nature +5, Religion +6, Stealth +2, Streetwise +3, Thievery +2 

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Noble Utility: Noble Presence
Half-Elf Racial Power: Knack for Success
Warlord Feature: Inspiring Word
Artificer Feature: Healing Infusion: Curative Admixture
Artificer Feature: Healing Infusion: Resistive Formula
Warlord Attack 1: Commander's Strike
Artificer Attack 1: Aggravating Force (At-Will: +9 vs. AC, 1D12+5)
Warlord Attack 1: Provocative Order 
Artificer Attack 1: War Proxy (Daily: +9 vs. AC, 3D12+5)
Warlord Utility 2: Motivated Recovery
Artificer Attack 3: Repulsion Strike (Encounter: +9 vs. Reflex, 2D12+5 Force)
Warlord Attack 5: Create Opportunity (Daily: +4 vs. AC, 2D12+0)

FEATS
Level 1: Group Insight
Level 2: Weapon Proficiency (Greatbow)
Level 4: Hidden Sniper 

ITEMS
Targeting Greatbow +1 x1
Inspiring Longsword +1
Defensive Short sword +1
Cloak of Resistance +1 x1
Adventurer's Kit
Battle Harness
Leather Armor +1 x1
Dragonslayer Longspear +2
====== End ======


I went with War Proxy and Aggravating Force rather than the oft-recommended Magic Weapon and Punishing Eye, to try to set up a situation with War Proxy and the Hidden Sniper feat whereby a teammate acts as a forward observer, and arrows rain down seemingly from nowhere. This is, of course, a fallback choice - his default weapon of choice is his wife, a half-orc Slayer:

Grenka, level 5 Half-Orc Fighter (Slayer)

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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Proficiency: Choose Nothing
Gritty Sergeant (Gritty Sergeant Benefit)
Theme: Mercenary 

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 21, CON 11, DEX 17, INT 10, WIS 8, CHA 10 

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 18, CON 11, DEX 14, INT 10, WIS 8, CHA 10  

AC: 19 Fort: 19 Ref: 15 Will: 12
HP: 50 Surges: 9 Surge Value: 12 

TRAINED SKILLS
Athletics +11, Endurance +8, Intimidate +11 
UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +4, Arcana +2, Bluff +2, Diplomacy +2, Dungeoneering +1, Heal +1, History +2, Insight +1, Nature +1, Perception +1, Religion +2, Stealth +4, Streetwise +4, Thievery +4 
POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack (+12 vs. AC, 1D12+13)
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Mercenary Attack: Takedown Strike (Encounter: +5 damage)
Half-Orc Racial Power: Furious Assault (Encounter: +1D12 damage)
Multiple Class Attack: Power Strike (Encounter: +1D12 damage)
Fighter Utility: Unfettered Fury (MBA: +13 vs. AC, 1D12+18)
Fighter Utility: Berserker's Charge (Charge: +15 vs. AC, 1D12+16)
Fighter Utility 2: Pass Forward
Fighter Attack 3: Sweeping Blow (Encounter: +5 damage)

FEATS
Level 1: Disciple of Strength
Level 2: Weapon Proficiency (Fullblade)
Level 4: Martial Versatility (Sweeping Blow)

ITEMS
Adventurer's Kit
Master's Blade Fullblade +1 x1
Bracers of Mighty Striking (heroic tier) x1
Veteran's Hide Armor +1 x1
Javelin
====== End ======
 

With Sanaoi directing her blows, Grenka can deal 1D12+18 damage twice per turn. She can add an additional +D12 damage twice per encounter, or an additional +5 and spend a surge, or an additional +5 and a knockdown - all three of these can be stacked together on a single attack, so if she achieves a crit she should be able to manage a 64 damage spike (or 76 if it was a charge enabled with Provocative Order - this actually happened during testing, and it was *hilarious*).

Of course, all of this only matters if she hits. With +13 vs. AC while in-stance, this shouldn't be too difficult, but in case we run into a difficult-to-manage solo, we have:

Shaera, level 5 Deva Cleric (Templar)
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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Build: Devoted Cleric
Auspicious Birth (Auspicious Birth Benefit)
Theme: Knight Hospitaler 

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 10, CON 8, DEX 10, INT 11, WIS 21, CHA 17 

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 10, CON 8, DEX 10, INT 11, WIS 18, CHA 14  

AC: 19 Fort: 13 Ref: 13 Will: 20
HP: 53 Surges: 6 Surge Value: 13 

TRAINED SKILLS
Diplomacy +10, Heal +12, Insight +12, Religion +9 

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +1, Arcana +2, Athletics +1, Bluff +5, Dungeoneering +7, Endurance +0, History +4, Intimidate +5, Nature +7, Perception +7, Stealth +1, Streetwise +5, Thievery +1 

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Knight Hospitaler Utility: Shield of Devotion
Deva Racial Power: Memory of a Thousand Lifetimes
Cleric Feature: Divine Fortune
Cleric Feature: Healer's Mercy
Cleric Utility: Healing Word
Cleric Attack 1: Astral Seal (At-Will: +10 vs. Reflex, -2 to all defenses)
Cleric Attack 1: Gaze of Defiance (At-Will: +8 vs. Will, 1D8+5)
Cleric Attack 1: Bane (Encounter: +8 vs. Will, -4 to all attacks/defenses)
Cleric Attack 1: Beacon of Hope (Encounter: +8 vs. Will, Weakened)
Cleric Utility 2: Resurgent Strength
Cleric Attack 3: Hymn of Resurgence (Encounter: +8 vs. Fortitude, -2 to all defenses)
Cleric Attack 5: Iron to Glass (Encounter: +8 vs. Reflex, -2/4/6/8/10 to damage)

FEATS
Level 1: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Pacifist Healer
Level 2: Auspicious Lineage
Level 4: Healer's Implement 

ITEMS
Ritual Book
Comrades' Succor
Gentle Repose
Comprehend Language
Adventurer's Kit
Healer's Brooch +1 x1
Exalted Chainmail +1 x1
Accurate symbol of Life +1 x1
====== End ======


Shaera's Healing Words heal {Surge Value} + 2D6 +9 HP, and any other surge-based healing she grants heals {Surge Value} + 1D6 + 9 HP. When someone gets knocked below bloodied, she can immediately push them back up to full or nearly-full. Her main job, however, is spamming Astral Seal, degrading her target's defenses by -2. Once she hits, if the rest of the party is in position, she blows her action point on Bane, hopefully degrading the target's defenses by a further -4. If this happens, then on her next turn she'll hit with Iron to Glass, and then follow up the next turn with Beacon of Hope.

NEEDS WORK: If anyone can suggest some good controllery options for Shaera that don't involve dealing damage, that would be awesome. I'd appreciate a breakdown of why the options are superior to what I've put together - my goal isn't simply to build a perfect party; my goal is to understand why some choices are superior to others.

Finally, we have Shaera's lover, a (ahem) fiery Tiefling named Fienna. Fienna was trained in wizardry as a child, but her Tiefling blood made it far easier to just do things the "natural" way. She dropped out of school when she met Shaera, and they adventured together before meeting Sanaoi.

Fienna, level 5 Tiefling Sorcerer/Wizard
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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Sorcerous Power Option: Sorcerous Power Strength
Hybrid Talent Option: Soul of the Sorcerer
Soul of the Sorcerer Option: Dragon Soul
Dragon Soul Option: Dragon Soul Fire
Recent Convert (Recent Convert Benefit)
Theme: Wizard's Apprentice 

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 14, CON 10, DEX 10, INT 16, WIS 8, CHA 20 

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 13, CON 10, DEX 10, INT 13, WIS 8, CHA 18  

AC: 16 Fort: 15 Ref: 16 Will: 20
HP: 37 Surges: 6 Surge Value: 9 

TRAINED SKILLS
Bluff +16, Diplomacy +14, Intimidate +12 

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +2, Arcana +5, Athletics +4, Dungeoneering +1, Endurance +2, Heal +1, History +5, Insight +1, Nature +1, Perception +1, Religion +5, Stealth +4, Streetwise +7, Thievery +2 

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Wizard's Apprentice Attack: Color Orb (+9 vs. Will, 1D8+6 radiant)
Tiefling Racial Power: Infernal Wrath (1D6+6 fire)
Wizard Utility: Ghost Sound
Wizard Utility: Light
Wizard Utility: Mage Hand
Wizard Utility: Prestidigitation
Sorcerer Attack 1: Burning Spray (At-Will: +9 vs. Reflex, 1D8+7 fire)
Wizard Attack 1: Scorching Burst (At-Will: +7 vs. Reflex, 1D6+5 fire)
Wizard Attack 1: Burning Hands (Encounter: +7 vs. Reflex, 2D6+5 fire)
Sorcerer Attack 1: Grounding Rebuke (Daily: +9 vs. Reflex, 1D10+7 fire with Hellfire Staff)
Sorcerer Utility 2: Dragonflame Mantle (Encounter: 1D6+1 fire)
Sorcerer Attack 3: Flame Spiral (Encounter: +9 vs. Reflex, 1D10+7 fire)
Wizard Attack 5: Fireball (Daily: +7 vs. Reflex, 4D6+5 fire)

FEATS
Level 1: Imperious Majesty
Level 2: Hellfire Blood
Level 4: Hybrid Talent 

ITEMS
Hellfire Staff +1 x1
Fireburst Cloth Armor (Basic Clothing) +1 x1
Adventurer's Kit
Ritual Book
Amulet of Seduction +1 x1
Power Jewel (heroic tier)
====== End ======


Fienna... well, Fienna lights things on fire. A lot. It would have been awesome to give her Enlarge Spell, but adding a FOURTH attribute dependency just wasn't going to happen. As it is, she has some rather hilarious options. For example, once per day, assuming everything's been set up right, she can inflict 1D10+1D8+1D6+18 fire damage on someone stupid enough to walk up and hit her (Grounding Rebuke + Fireburst Cloth + Infernal Wrath), and reduces that damage by 5. This will also pop off Shaera's Shield of Devotion, healing her for 5 damage and giving Shaera +2 to attack that enemy with her next debuff. So far, though, Fienna's primary means of control is "I light everything on fire."

NEEDS WORK: Fienna seems like a halfway decent AoE striker, but she needs help in the control department. For thematic reasons, it'd be nice if everything stayed fire-based.

Finally, the group needs a defender. For now, I'm trying to build a Dragonborn Warden with Con 20 and Toughness - the idea is to maximize his surge value, so I can make best use of Shaera's heals. Here's my current work-in-progress, Ryuu:


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Ryuu, level 5 Dragonborn Warden
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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Build: Earth Warden
Guardian Might Option: Earthstrength
Armor of Resistance +1 Option: Poison
Dragonborn Racial Power Option: Dragon Breath
Dragon Breath Key Ability: Dragon Breath Constitution
Dragon Breath Damage Type: Dragon Breath Poison
Explorer/Guide (Explorer/Guide Benefit)
Theme: Guardian 

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 14, CON 21, DEX 13, INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 10 

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 13, CON 18, DEX 13, INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 8  

AC: 21 Fort: 18 Ref: 13 Will: 13
HP: 71 Surges: 14 Surge Value: 22 

TRAINED SKILLS
Dungeoneering +7, Endurance +11, Heal +7, Nature +9 

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +2, Arcana +2, Athletics +3, Bluff +2, Diplomacy +2, History +4, Insight +4, Intimidate +4, Perception +4, Religion +2, Stealth +2, Streetwise +2, Thievery +2 

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Guardian Attack: Guardian's Counter
Dragonborn Racial Power: Dragon Breath
Warden Feature: Warden's Fury
Warden Feature: Warden's Grasp
Warden Attack 1: Thorn Strike
Warden Attack 1: Strength of Stone
Warden Attack 1: Roots of Stone
Warden Attack 1: Form of the Dread Serpent
Warden Utility 2: Nature's Abundance
Warden Attack 3: Earthgrasp Strike
Warden Attack 5: Rampant Forest 

FEATS
Level 1: Toughness
Level 2: Whip Training
Level 4: Bolstering Breath 

ITEMS
Adventurer's Kit
Maw of the Guardian Whip +1 x1
Inescapable Whip +1 x1
Hide Armor of Resistance +1 x1
====== End ======


That's it - a dual-whip-wielding dragonborn that spews poison gas everywhere. 

NEEDS WORK: Probably everything, I built this one off of a single schtick (maximum HP) and a doodle on the back of a blank character sheet (an angry dragonborn with two whips made out of thorn vines, spewing rose petals out of his mouth). 

So, what would increase this teams synergy? Grenka and Sanoi seem to be working pretty well together; Fienna and Shaera seem to have a budding seed of interaction forming, and Ryuu seems to just be there as a meatshield. Where do I go from here? 
I think you might be a bit better off making some changes to the warlord character.

1. By going single class warlord rather than hybrid, you would enable yourself to take full advantage of the warlord's commanding presence action point benefit, and devote more attention to your power selection. (For instance, Adaptive Stratagem is a great power at warlord 2). You could also go for a strength and Int based warlord (possibly giving up the half-elf race) and take advantage of some of the great warlord powers that have attack rolls.
1.5 Switching to at least a mixed role warlord that is similarly comfortable in melee and at range would also help out with your (currently weak) front line.
2. Regardless of whether or not you stay hybrid, you are probably better off with a superior crossbow than a greatbow. Being more likely to hit means more likely to benefit from the secondary effects of your powers.

As far as the party goes, you might also consider changing your cleric to a hybrid. Here's why.
A. Two full leaders with one devoted to healing is probably more healing than your party will need. A hybrid cleric can still get some very good healing ability (if not usable quite as often as a full cleric), and hybrid invoker/clerics (which would probably be my choice) can add quite a bit of control to the mix.
B. Your wizard seems designed to primarily be a blaster. That's a useful option for a wizard but it will most likley leave you a bit lacking in the control department. Hybridizing the cleric with invoker could help pick up the slack.

You probably also want to look at boosting the strength on your Warden. Right now, he's not very likely to hit with his powers.
A. Even wardens need to hit in order to hold the line
B. It's good to have a second character who can take advantage of the warlord's commander's strike and other powers.
C. It's very good to have multiple characters be able to be the party's damage dealer.

I would reconsider your mix of ranged and melee characters. Right now, you have a party that will feature 3 characters whose options are pretty severly curtailed if the enemy gets in their face hiding behind two characters. Switching one of those three backfield characters to at least be melee capable (the warlord would be the easiest to switch) would make it much easier to hold the line and reduce your vulnerability.

Additionally, right now the party seems to be depending on the slayer and the wizard for the vast majority of its damage. The cleric doesn't have much in the way of damage capability and the warden's attack bonus and weapon choice makes it hard for him to deal noticable damage. You can probably make that work, but upgrading the warden and cleric's damage capabilities will be a big advantage to the party. You don't want your offense to vanish when one character is stunned or dominated. And I am a great believer in the theory that every character should at least theoritically be capable of winning fight with a monster by himself. If the rest of your party is down, you don't want a TPK because you never thought the cleric would need to kill something himself.
Fienna needs to be completely scrapped....

Magic Weapon is stupid not to take.

You're letting fluff inform mechanics way to much. Fluff things however you want, but making choices that give you mechanically poor characters (Fienna is honestly going to be unplayably bad in all likelihood) is Not Fun.
Echoing Alcestis, but perhaps a little more gently, the Wizard/Sorcerer hybrid simply doesn't work. The Sorcerer relies on high CHA and either STR/DEX for damage and armor. The Wizard relies on high INT for the same. You simply can't be anywhere near optimal and make it work, sadly. I would pick one, either Wizard and Sorcerer, and go with that.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
I'm still convinced I can find an edge case with Fienna. Here's my current experiment:

By swapping Strength for Wisdom, I can take the Enlarge Spell feat. I can now use Scorching Burst to spam an Area Blast 2 within 10 that deals 1D6+3 fire damage per hit. More importantly, since I have a Hellfire Staff, every time I crit someone in that burst, I replenish an expended fire-based encounter power.

Fire Shroud is a fire-based encounter power that I can also apply Enlarge Spell to, increasing its area to Close Burst 4. That's eighty squares worth of 1D8+3 fire damage and 5 ongoing fire damage. And, of course, if I crit anyone in that blurst, I get Fire Shroud back. If not, then I just spam Scorching Burst until I get Fire Shroud back.

Throw in the Hellfire Master feat, and whenever they successfully save vs. that 5 ongoing fire damage, they immediately take another 10 fire damage. Thus, each person in that burst is guaranteed to take 1D8+18 fire damage, over the course of a round or so (more-but-longer if they fail to save). And hilariously, Fire Shroud only targets enemies.

So, opening volley is obviously an enlarged Fire Shroud. Then, spam an enlarged Scorching Burst at my Warden (who has Resist Fire 5 thanks to his armor), blasting away whoever he's managed to lock down until I hear the "ding!" of a crit. Then blast Fire Shroud again. Rinse and repeat.


And then you ask yourself, "wait a second, am I going to get into a fight where I can hit 80 monsters and still win?", and the answer is a resounding "no". Autokill single target damage beats multitarget scratch damage. Never forget this and work on killing ONE guy super fast instead of a billion guys at snail speeds.
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
I'm still convinced I can find an edge case with Fienna. Here's my current experiment:

By swapping Strength for Wisdom, I can take the Enlarge Spell feat. I can now use Scorching Burst to spam an Area Blast 2 within 10 that deals 1D6+3 fire damage per hit. More importantly, since I have a Hellfire Staff, every time I crit someone in that burst, I replenish an expended fire-based encounter power.

Fire Shroud is a fire-based encounter power that I can also apply Enlarge Spell to, increasing its area to Close Burst 4. That's eighty squares worth of 1D8+3 fire damage and 5 ongoing fire damage. And, of course, if I crit anyone in that blurst, I get Fire Shroud back. If not, then I just spam Scorching Burst until I get Fire Shroud back.

Throw in the Hellfire Master feat, and whenever they successfully save vs. that 5 ongoing fire damage, they immediately take another 10 fire damage. Thus, each person in that burst is guaranteed to take 1D8+18 fire damage, over the course of a round or so (more-but-longer if they fail to save). And hilariously, Fire Shroud only targets enemies.

So, opening volley is obviously an enlarged Fire Shroud. Then, spam an enlarged Scorching Burst at my Warden (who has Resist Fire 5 thanks to his armor), blasting away whoever he's managed to lock down until I hear the "ding!" of a crit. Then blast Fire Shroud again. Rinse and repeat.





Then why aren't you a Tiefling Pyromancer?
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
I'm still convinced I can find an edge case with Fienna. Here's my current experiment:

...So which part of that requires hybrid Sorcerer and a God awful stat spread?

Also you seem to be playing Wizards as "Blasters." Which is fine, they can do that. But you give them 20 int to start (and unlike giving a Sorc 20 Cha, this actually makes sense) and a Staff of Ruin.

Magic Weapon is stupid not to take.



Regarding Magic Weapon vs. Aggravating Force:

With Aggravating Force, I grant the next person to hit the target a +2 to attack, no matter where they are.

With Magic Weapon, I grant each person adjacent to me a +1 to attack and a +3 to damage. 

Ah. But Magic Weapon also gives *me* a +1 to hit. I see.

Very well, I am sold on Magic Weapon, and thank you. 

Then why aren't you a Tiefling Pyromancer?



Because Fire Shroud doesn't show up on the Pryomancer's spell lists in the CB, for some bizzare reason. Or if it does, then I'm doin' it wrong, because I can't find it.
Click "Show Additional Options."
Click "Show Additional Options."



I did. No luck.

...That doesn't make any sense. I just went into the CB and it shows up fine.

Magic Weapon is stupid not to take.



Regarding Magic Weapon vs. Aggravating Force:

With Aggravating Force, I grant the next person to hit the target a +2 to attack, no matter where they are.

With Magic Weapon, I grant each person adjacent to me a +1 to attack and a +3 to damage. 

Ah. But Magic Weapon also gives *me* a +1 to hit. I see.

Very well, I am sold on Magic Weapon, and thank you. 



Magic Weapon also effects multiple allies for the bonus, AND allows the target to engage and recieve the bonus on multiple targets AND allows for multi-attacking. Its better, and considerably better.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
...That doesn't make any sense. I just went into the CB and it shows up fine.



I had to close out of the CB and load it back up, and now it shows up fine. Dunno what was up with that. I'm trying the Tiefling Pyromancer build now.
...huh. Pyromancers can't paragon path?
...huh. Pyromancers can't paragon path?


Is your CB on crack? They can take their Enigmatic Mage PP and any Wizard PP he qualifies for, etc.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
Aha! Apparently, hybrid Sorcerer/Wizards REALLY mess up the CB. I had to delete the old character before the options would appear on any new character.
Ok! So. How does this look:

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Fienna (Wizard), level 5
Tiefling, Wizard (Mage)
School: Pyromancy School
School: Enchantment School
Expert Mage Option: Pyromancy School Expert
Early Life - Social Outcast (+2 to Bluff)
Theme: Wizard's Apprentice
 
FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 10, DEX 10, INT 21, WIS 13, CHA 16
 
STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 10, DEX 10, INT 18, WIS 13, CHA 13
 
 
AC: 17 Fort: 13 Ref: 18 Will: 18
HP: 36 Surges: 6 Surge Value: 9
 
TRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +12, Bluff +18, Diplomacy +12, Intimidate +12
 
UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +2, Athletics +1, Dungeoneering +3, Endurance +2, Heal +3, History +7, Insight +3, Nature +3, Perception +3, Religion +7, Stealth +4, Streetwise +5, Thievery +2
 
POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Wizard's Apprentice Attack: Color Orb
Tiefling Racial Power: Infernal Wrath
Wizard Utility: Ghost Sound
Wizard Utility: Spook
Wizard Utility: Mage Hand
Wizard Attack 1: Fountain of Flame
Wizard Attack 1: Sleep
Wizard Attack 1: Burning Hands
Wizard Attack 1: Charm of Misplaced Wrath
Wizard Attack 1: Scorching Burst
Wizard Attack 1: Hypnotism
Wizard Attack 1: Magic Missile
Wizard Utility 2: Daunting Presence
Wizard Utility 2: Instant Friends
Wizard Attack 3: Fire Shroud
Wizard Attack 3: Blissful Ignorance
Wizard Attack 5: Fireball
Wizard Attack 5: Tasha's Forcible Conscription
 
FEATS
Level 1: Enlarge Spell
Level 2: Hellfire Blood
Level 4: Hellfire Master
 
ITEMS
Hellfire Staff +1 x1
Adventurer's Kit
Ritual Book
Amulet of Seduction +1 x1
Burning Gauntlets (heroic tier)
====== End ======

The goal: Enlarge Spell + Hellfire Staff to crit-fish with my area spells (especially a burst-2 Scorching Burst), so I can spam a burst-4 Fire Shroud over and over again. Once they take ongoing damage, Hellfire Master deals them additional damage after they save.

In situations where fire won't work, the Amulet of Seduction + Charm alternate spells (like Sleep) means I can reasonably successfully lock down an entire encounter.
Why Magic Missile?  Everything else seems to be fire and more fire, which works with the Hellfire Staff and your Tieflingness, but... magic missile?  Obviously not everything can be in theme, but if you have to go out of theme, I'm quite sure that magic missile is the worse possiblity there.

Am I missing something?  It seems to cover the same responsiblities as Scorching Burst, but with less damage, no AOE, and no recharge potential (since even if you used the staff to make it fire keyworded, it still has no attack roll).

Why not cover something in a different area with, say, Thunderwave, and use the Staff to turn that into a fire spell.  (Fluffing it as a pyrokinetic blast seems decent, or as a channelled detonation shockwave fire thing of death.)  And hey, that way you enlarge it too, if need be.

(Though I suppose Thunderwave is a bit underwhelming with your Wisdom.)

Or alternatively, get yourself a little bit of debuffing power, with Illusionary ambush or something.  Fire psychic attacks?  Use that staff to cook people brains and make their heads asplode?

Though... while we are on the topic of Hellfire staff making everything fire... is there any advantage to Scorching Burst over Freezing Burst (changed to fire keyword, and obviously refluffed)?  Correct me if I'm wrong, but Freezing Burst seems to be Scorching Burst + slide.


Oh, and I hope you got my message about other things.  Didn't want to necro the thread just for that, but seemed like something you might want to know. 
CB is telling me that Magic Missile is an automatic feature of Mage wizards - it won't let me select another option.

Also, can you cite where basic weapon attacks are considered "powers"? that seems counter-intuitive.
As of Essentials, basic attacks have been formatted as powers.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
As of Essentials, basic attacks have been formatted as powers.



So the -2 for Unfettered Fury applies to MBA's? If so, why didn't they just say "-2 to attack rolls" instead of "-2 to rolls with attack powers"?
Compendium says:
"A basic attack is an at-will attack power that everyone possesses, regardless of class." - Glossary, 'melee basic attack' PHB page 287


Over at page 287 of the PHB, the melee basic attack is formatted as a power, and describes itself as an at-will weapon power.  the rest you know, though there is a special bit that says you can use a unarmed attack as a weapon for the melee basic attack.

You can look it up for yourself, if you want.


So the -2 for Unfettered Fury applies to MBA's? If so, why didn't they just say "-2 to attack rolls" instead of "-2 to rolls with attack powers"?


If the ability were -2 to attack rolls, it would... penalize implement powers, and things that aren't based on weapons?  Frankly, I agree with you - if someone is all furious and can't hit straight, it's reasonable that they can't use a wand right either.

Anyway, I noticed this when I was trying to figure out why unfettered fury, existing in a class that cannot, by default, do any non-basic attacks, was not simply 100% better than  the stance that gives only a +2 power bonus to damage.  It took a bit of hunting around, but eventually I found out what's what.


Didn't know about mages being forced to have magic missile.  Sounds pretty lame.  But you do what you can, right?  Which reminds me, why not switch scorching burst for freezing burst (made fire keyworded with the staff) in the interests of optimization?  Seems useful, don't know why not.
Didn't know about mages being forced to have magic missile.  Sounds pretty lame.  But you do what you can, right?  Which reminds me, why not switch scorching burst for freezing burst (made fire keyworded with the staff) in the interests of optimization?  Seems useful, don't know why not.




The staff only changes melee and close area powers to fire - ranged and distance area powers are unaffected.
The staff only changes melee and close area powers to fire - ranged and distance area powers are unaffected.



Oooh... how sad.  My bad there, should have read closer.  And I guess with Magic Missile locked, you don't have any other powers for the firings.
Yep. That was one advantage of doing the sorc/wiz hybrid - I could at least ensure that EVERY chosen power was fire-based.
Yep. That was one advantage of doing the sorc/wiz hybrid - I could at least ensure that EVERY chosen power was fire-based.





You can do that anyways with a straight up pyromancer mage. The only exception is the magic missile feature. Still, magic missile is a terrible spell so you would never end up using it.

sorcerer|wizard hybrid is possibly one of the worst combos you could invent. Definitely stay far away from that.
Yep. That was one advantage of doing the sorc/wiz hybrid - I could at least ensure that EVERY chosen power was fire-based.



You can do that anyways with a straight up pyromancer mage. The only exception is the magic missile feature. Still, magic missile is a terrible spell so you would never end up using it. sorcerer|wizard hybrid is possibly one of the worst combos you could invent. Definitely stay far away from that.



So I see. Current build is to go with all Fire effects for the left side of the spellbook, and all Charm/Fear effects for the right side.
... sorcerer|wizard hybrid is possibly one of the worst combos you could invent. Definitely stay far away from that.



Charop Challenge!

... sorcerer|wizard hybrid is possibly one of the worst combos you could invent. Definitely stay far away from that.



Charop Challenge!




Challenge accepted, sir!

So far, I have found one fun trick:

Grab Fire Shroud from the Wizard side and Arcane Empowerment from the Sorcerer side. Multiclass into Invoker to pick up Enunciation. Take the Enlarge Spell feat. Take Master of Flame as your paragon path.

You can now increase one of your encounter close burst fire spells' burst size by +4. Fire Shroud starts at Close Burst 3, allowing you to pump it up to Close Burst 7. Take Hellfire Mastery to exploit the ongoing damage, and cackle as the world burns.
 
and have trouble hitting, or doing damage, or staying alive.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
and have trouble hitting, or doing damage, or staying alive.



No more than anyone else who takes a 16/14/... stat spread.
At low levels you'll be ok. At higher levels you're going to be in trouble.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
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