Weekly Optimization Showcase: Pinball Brothers

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So, my gaming group has been building characters for several months right now, in the spirit of the old CO boards. There isn't much activity here, but in an effort to spur some extra discussion, I'll be sharing some of my work here on a weekly basis, aiming for a Friday posting. I welcome discussion of all sorts, so feel free to rip this to shreds, suggest improvements, or just *yoink* it wholesale for your games. (If you do, I'd love to hear about it.)

My group consists of two familiar names from the old CO board (Radical Taoist and DisposableHero_) along with three others (Andarious, Sionnis, and Seishi); for the moment I'll be focusing on builds that I've spearheaded and cite their contributions accordingly. Over time I might showcase some of their work as well (with their permission, of course).

All of these builds, unless noted otherwise, assume 28 point buy and fractional base attack / saves (Unearthed Arcana; this dramatically simplifies the math and usually doesn't impact things much otherwise. If a build relies on fractional to work, I'll list a non-fractional variant as well); any expansion books and variant rules involved will be clearly identified, along with variants we've considered. I tend to do snapshots at significant levels, showing the rationale being specific choices and highlighting capabilities at key levels, rather than just presenting a giant table and summary and leaving it to you to figure out how to play them.

We'll start the series off with a build I've shown here before, actually (one that basically had no revisions from anyone but me), but rather than digging through the archives to fetch it each time, I'll present it here in more professional form. It'll give you a sense of what I'm trying to do and set the stage for other builds in subsequent weeks.

THE PINBALL BROTHERS - Flipper and Bumper
Large And In Charge 

Required Books: PHB2, Races of Stone, Complete Warrior, XPH, Dungeonscape, Complete Psionic, Complete Champion, Tome of Battle (optional but recommended)
Unearthed Arcana used: Whirling Frenzy variant rage. LA Buyoff, but not strictly speaking required. Flaws, although they're not required if you're willing to weaken a few things. Traits, also not required.

Background: Long ago, we had a contest here to develop "partner" characters, who tag-teamed their way through a lot of problems. The Radical Taoist and I entered Flipper and Bumper, the Pinball Brothers, whose whole schtick was to turn the battlefield into, well, a pinball table. Flipper would launch targets great distances, while getting them to hit Bumper would result in big payoffs (Flipper used things like Awesome Blow while Bumper was an early AoO master). I wanted to see how something like this would work now, rather than working on limited material like we had back then. (I'm pretty sure the original even pre-dated Races of Stone - there's no way we would have used Awesome Blow if it were after RoS.)

It turned out quite well - combining the two basic elements of D&D melee (Reach/AoO Tanking and Damage Dealing/Charging) with a healthy dose of Juggling (position control) - and it worked without  using Tome of Battle elements until the end of the build (which are optional and are really only there because I was basically out of ideas). And, as a result, a modern day Flipper and Bumper would actually use identical builds - the one presented below works for both of them at the same time.

Despite the name, you don't need to employ these guys in pairs, but they make a hell of a splash if you do. 

The Basics


  • Race: Goliath.

  • Ability Scores: Before racial adjustments, 10/15/13/14/12/8.  I increase Con by 1 at 4, with all of the other pumps going into Dexterity. (The Con increase can go to Dex if you think you can get a Manual of Gainful Exercise.) The 14 Int is non-negotiable, and you benefit from eventual Wisdom-boosters.

  • Traits: Musclebound, Quick. (These are optional, but they complement you well - Musclebound boosts all your Str checks (and you'll make a lot), Quick cuts your HP (you have a lot, and use a reach weapon) in exchange for speed (which is useful since you don't rely on normal full attacks and basically makes the Lion Totem choice a bit more interesting.).

  • Flaws: Shaky, Vulnerable. (You aren't making any ranged attacks, and you'll be boosting Dexterity. Whirling Rage also comes with an AC *bonus* and you have enough reach to protect you most of the time.)

  • Alignment: Neutral Any. At the start you can even be Chaotic Any; if you like alignment-shifts, grow more regimented with your fighter experience and disicplined as you meditate to awaken your psychic potential (as written in the Talaaric texts) to wind up as Neutral Any by level 9 and you'll be golden.



Skill Notes: Pump up Jump and its synergies; you also need 2 ranks of Knowledge: History to be cross-class. Once War Mind enters the picture, I tend to pump Autohypnosis. Your other ranks are more or less open to you; I like cross-classing a bit of Balance and Intimidate into the picture. The skill timing isn't very hard except between levels 8 and 9, but it's perfectly manageable.

Basic Equipment: Guisarme, Mithral Breastplate with armor spikes. Get the weapons in Large size.
Magical Gear Goals: In general, boost Dexterity, then Constitution, then Wisdom. I'm a fan of packing Feather Tokens (Tree) as well; a few key class features depend on obstacles, and sometimes you might have to make your own. (Plus, they're useful anyway.) An Eternal Wand of Heroics can also be a good investment, letting you pick up a few feats needed to adjust yourself more towards tanking or more towards pouncing as you see fit. Offensively, you don't need much gear. When shopping for weapons, look for accuracy above all else (even a flat enhancement bonus is fine!); you'll get most of your damage from class features. Defensively, shore up your Will save. If you want a cheap (cheesy) method of protecting yourself from arrows, buy a buckler of appropriate strength and attach a Crystal of Arrow Deflection (MIC) to it; the crystal provides its own bonus AC against ranged attacks, rather than enhancing the shield's AC bonus, so it continues to apply even if you aren't actually using the shield for defense. Once you take a level of psychic warrior, you can also start shopping for good dorjes - Dimension Slide and Hustle are perennial favorites - which you probably can slot into wand chambers in your armor's gauntlets. The psychic warrior power list is amazing here, and the ability to use such dorjes without Use Psionic Device is a huge boon if you're clever.

EDIT: If you're using one or two Eternal Wands of Heroics, you can probably replace Improved Trip with Stand Still, since the former is a fighter feat while the latter isn't (though it probably should be). Even if Stand Still doesn't work with your main abilities (it's unclear what triggers on a 0-damage Power Attack), it's still a good feat: it provides defense after an ubercharge, it's the quintessential lockdown feat for an AoO tank, and, oddly enough, appears to still work with the power you learn at 13th level. Improved Trip is in the main build instead of Stand Still because it synergizes a bit better with the rest of the build (particularly after level 14), but Stand Still is perhaps slightly better on its own and can't be picked up through equipment.

The Build
Buildstub: Goliath Barbarian 1 / Fighter 6 / Psychic Warrior 2 / War Mind 9 / Crusader 2.

1 - Goliath Barbarian (Mountain Rage/Whirling Frenzy, Lion Totem: Pounce, Illiterate) (Power Attack, Extra Rage, Improved Bull Rush)
*
You start off as a standard reach-weapon barbarian, really... just a big bad bruiser with a big stick. Use armor spikes to cover your natural reach. Mountain Rage (3/day; it actually increases your size to Large) + guisarme gives you insane reach (20') to use with trip attacks, which are made with a very hard to resist +9 bonus on the Strength check at this point. Unlike most warriors, thanks to Whirling Frenzy, you get multiple attacks from level 1 (albeit at a penalty, but the increased Strength more than compensates), which lets Lion Totem actually do something from level 1.

On your turn, Bull Rush quickly becomes your most powerful standard action, as it's an automatic "hit" that they're opposing 1d20+14 (yes, you read that right) with just a Strength check. Plus, Bull Rush requires you to enter their space, but you're Large during a rage, so you can hypothetically bull rush multiple targets and count different directions as "away" from you.

2 - Fighter - (Bonus feat: Knockback) (No Longer Illiterate)
*
 Now your attacks, and AoOs, also bull rush, so you don't need to decide between attacking or pushing targets. Note that this triggers off of ANY power attack "hit", even if it does no damage in and of itself (i.e. the Stand Still feat - a dedicated AoO tank would have that, but this is a hybrid, so it doesn't). It may or may not also apply to the touch attack on Trip.

Oh, and since Knockback adds your PA damage bonus to your Strength check, you will probably never fail a bull rush EVER, and be able to push them ridiculous distances.

3 - Fighter - (Dungeon Crasher 1) (Combat Reflexes) (LA BUYOFF)
*
 And now those Bull Rushes start doing real damage. Why decide between attacking and pushing them around when you can do both? You also have Combat Reflexes, so now you'll be able to deliver these pushes on AoOs. 

Your basic strategy is to run between your enemy and your friends (probably raging if the encounter demands it; you get 3/day), and either pounce the nearest person or park yourself. Anyone who tries to move through your (large, if you're raging) threatened area gets smacked, which sends them flying into the nearest wall for bonus damage. Check with your DM if Knockback triggers on a Power Attack hit that doesn't deal damage, such as Power Attacking on the touch attack to trip a target. (I assume it doesn't for this build.)

4- Fighter - N/A

5 - Fighter (Bonus feat: Combat Expertise)

6 - Fighter - (Shock Trooper)
*
Your base attack is +6, giving you multiple attacks and multiple wall-slams (12d6+6xStr per round on top of weapon damage in a rage - you're outdoing a dedicated Scorching Ray blaster at this point).

And, despite being recognized as a charging feat, Shock Trooper was chosen for bull rush synergy. Directed Bull Rush / Domino Rush combine well with 20' reach (in a rage) and can let you push multiple foes into the same square before racquetballing them.

7 - Fighter - (Dungeon Crasher 2)
*
And now those wall collisions really start racking up the damage. 24d6+9*Str (plus weapon damage while raging) is nothing to sneer at.

Sadly, this is about as good as bull rushing gets, so we transition from here. Pounce + Shock Trooper + Power Attack is already 3/4 of the way to an ubercharger anyway, so...


8 - Psychic Warrior - (Bonus feat: Leap Attack) (Catfall)
*
And that's the fourth component of a stock Ubercharger! This costs you a point of base attack, which hurts, but it's the only point you're going to lose. The power was chosen because it might render you immune to trip attacks, and it doesn't rely on augmentation. (Which is good, since you'll have exactly zero power points anyway without a Wisdom booster, so you won't be using it much.). If you don't subscribe to that interpretation, your power should probably be Synesthete instead, which gives you a decent array of senses at a good duration for a low cost.

If your DM cares about RP being reflected in your builds, you've had plenty of levels at this point to learn about psionic abilities or find a copy of the Talaaric texts (or learn about psionics from a psionic PC). Furthermore, Races of Stone has the most support for psionics out of all the Races of X books (except Races of Eberron, but that one includes the kalashtar, so I'm not surprised), and all of your psionics go into psychometabolism anyway.

The reason 14 Int is non-negotiable is because you need to invest every single psychic warrior skill point into Knowledge: Psionics to meet the requirements for your prestige class and keep the cross-classing down. Remember to do that.

9 - Psychic Warrior - (Bonus feat: Improved Sunder) (Combat Brute) (Adrenaline Boost)
*
The feats were picked together to minimize the "dead air" between the terrible Improved Sunder and the somewhat better Combat Brute. Combat Brute lets us sunder items and follow through with a Knockback attempt, as well as lets our bull rushes provide yet another bonus on our charge attack rolls (you hit someone, they fly back, and the amount they fly back gives you a bonus on your attacks next round, which lets you PA for more, sending them flying back further...). Which can get kind of devastating, I'll be honest. Oh, and it also provides another hidden power attack synergy, especially since Knockback basically means we're pushing the target back with each hit, letting us pounce on the next round and take advantage of Momentum Swing. (The way its worded it may or may not also increase the bonus on Knockback. I'm assuming it doesn't.)

Adrenaline Boost is a poor power, but here it's a poor-man's Prowess, since it boosts your Dexterity and lets you take an extra AoO... if you can time it correctly. If you don't want to play that game and want a more conservative choice, consider Chameleon or Float. (There are other no-augment psywar powers out there to pick; look for ones which are NOT ML-dependent.)

(Minor aside: Compare Float to Longstrider; it's clear that psionics gets the short end of the stick again. Why is its duration that short?!)

You can also use Improved Sunder + Sundering Cleave to bootstrap up attack rolls on tricky maneuvers or ones where the attack roll really matters. For example, if you make a sunder attempt on a shield, you get +4 on the attack roll due to Improved Sunder. If you sunder the shield, you get a Sundering Cleave, which uses the same attack bonus as the sunder attempt - essentially letting that followup attack "inherit" the +4 from Improved Sunder. You can then apply other typeless bonuses as you see fit - at this level, that will probably just be a higher-than-usual Power Attack, but at later levels it could very easily be an Improved Trip attempt (at an extra +4)! Who'd've thought that Improved Sunder could actually sometimes prove useful?

10 - War Mind - (Chain of Personal Superiority +2) (Expansion)
*
War Mind gives us another little boost on just about everything and pushes our 3/day rages just a little longer thanks to an insight bonus on Constitution. Critically, though, it also gives us Expansion. Hooray for Huge reach (an incredible 30 feet!)! The manifesting time is a bit of a drawback now (you can't augment it for speed), but since you have accelerated speed and rely on AoOs or pounces for most of your attacks, the lost action isn't that big a deal.

Quick knockback update: At full power attack, with your buffs active at this point but assuming that Leap Attack/Combat Brute/etc do not increase Knockback's power, you're capable of bull rushing at 1d20+37 at this point. At level 10. That's just a little impressive.

11 - War Mind - (Chain of Defensive Posture +2) (Skate)
*
 Skate increases your speed, which means you can jump higher and Pounce further. The AC boost is gravy.

12 - War Mind - (Enduring Body 1/-) (Improved Trip)
*
This is an amazing level - and not just in the obvious way! Numerically, you've just put your second (even-numbered) pump into Dexterity, getting a higher modifier, and your base attack just hit +11 (so three or four attacks per round). Add to this Improved Trip for a followup attack after every trip attempt and you can basically do every standard combat maneuver at once - i.e. sunder a target (at +4), Sundering Cleave (at +4) into a trip attack (at +8), then engage a followup trip attack (as if you hadn't used the attack, so at +8) into a standard Knockback attack. How's that for a mental image?

13 - War Mind - (Strength of My Enemy)
*
The deadest of levels you'll get for the rest of the game ends up being one with one of the best psychic warrior powers ever printed. Here, you're using it more for the strength damage than the strength leech, since you work best against multiple targets and may be packing a strength booster of your own, though. Note that its duration is really short for now, so you might not even be using it at all (particularly because you can't manifest while raging).

14 - War Mind - (Sweeping Strike)
*
Sweet Cthulhu on a pogo stick. Sweeping Strike is an amazing ability in its own right, but here, it's freaking LETHAL. As you'd expect, it lets all your attacks - which trip, sunder, bull rush, and Dungeon Crasher body slam their targets - hit two squares at once, which is boss on its own.

However, the real power of Sweeping Strike here isn't even the 2-square region. It's the "melee attack targets a SQUARE instead of the guy in it" effect. Remember Shock Trooper's seldom-used bull-rush boosters? You have Directed Bull Rush and enormous reach, meaning you can easily pile people up in the same square - and thanks to Domino Rush and your ridiculous Trip checks, they're prone, so if any one of them tries to stand, you're smacking all of them. 

Just be advised that Sweeping Strike shuts down if you move more than 10 feet in one turn. And you need to move at least 10 feet to trigger your pounces. So in general, you're pouncing on the first turn (which tends to pile up targets) and then rooting yourself in place for the second (with Sweeping Strikes on the aforementioned piles). You can bypass this with swift-action teleportation items - move to a place that's exactly 10 feet away from your desired charging end point - and you can manipulate it a bit with your reach (you can charge Alice, make your first attack, then use your remaining hits in your full attack against Bob), but it is certainly something to consider tactically.

15 - War Mind - (Enduring Body 2/-) (Robilar's Gambit) (Detect Hostile Intent)
*
And there's everyone's favorite AoO tank feat. Furthermore, this particular War Mind level is a good point to end the build on, since it gives you another point of always-on DR, a +1 boost to all your saves, and a third-level power (here chosen to let you act as a scout if you want; it also works well with the Goliath's racial bonus on Sense Motive checks, if you've decided to allocate skill points there). Dimension Slide is perhaps the best alternate power choice if you want pure combat utility, but I figure you probably have enough of that with the build so far, and it gets expensive with regular use (i.e. setting up Sweeping Strike Pounces).

At this point the build is complete, really; the rest of this is just to hit 20. And, I admit, to get the War Mind ML up to make Expansion / SoME more worthwhile. Alternate builds are possible at this point; just take care that it's full base attack or damn close to it.

16 - War Mind - (Chain of Personal Superiority +4)
*
Personally, I like to advance more War Mind, since there isn't much of a downside if you have room to spare. Furthermore, this brings our character level to an even number, meaning our initiator level goes up to 8. If we take a martial adept level next level, we can hit IL 9 and qualify for 5th level maneuvers if we want. (See what I mean when I said, above, that there's really no reason to not take a martial adept level towards the end? At least this build doesn't rely on it, so it should be kind of refreshing for some players.)

Oh, another side note is that now your ML is high enough to double-size with Expansion. Which raises your full Power Attack Bull Rush check to 1d20+53. At this point it's kind of hard to find battlefields that don't have obstacles within range for you to aim your targets towards for bonus damage.

17 - Crusader - (Furious Counterstrike, Steely Resolve 5) (Boulder Roll, Defensive Rebuke, Mountain Avalanche, Overwhelming Mountain Strike, Elder Mountain Hammer) (Iron Guard's Glare)
*
Base Attack +16 (so four or five attacks now) means you're an offensive juggernaut. Crusader maneuvers were picked to exploit reach (Defensive Rebuke), prevent enemies from blocking your positioning (Boulder Roll, Mountain Avalanche), and have some out-of-combat alternatives (Swiss Army Chainsaw Elder Mountain Hammer). They're also mostly from Stone Dragon, which is a natural fit for goliaths thematically (seriously, try reading the Stone Dragon legacy weapon one of these days). Honestly, I'm quite pleased with how this build's fluff works.

On a more mechanical note, it's worth pointing out that Sweeping Strike works on any melee attack. As in "As part of this maneuver, make a melee attack". You can apply Elder Mountain Hammer and Overwhelming Mountain Strike to multiple targets if they're bunched up.

The real winner at this level, though, is your stance. ToB wording limits you to level 1 stances even as you pick level 5 maneuvers here, but thankfully Devoted Spirit has some awsome options for you - Iron Guard's Glare is keyed off of your massive reach, letting you act as a moving no-save debuff as well as your usual duties. And, if the targets go for the bypass and aim at YOU, you've got a huge threatened area to get through, Combat Reflexes, and - if all else fails - Robilar's ready to beat face.

Oh, you also have a rules-lawyer kill move here: The wording on Overwhelming Mountain Strike actually prevents 'trading' your standard for a move, so it combines really well with Bull Rushes into spells, magma, bottomless pits or similar (your victim needs a swift- or standard- action ability that lets them move if they want to escape next round). Since those bull rushes involve bonuses of up to +55 at this point, said obstacles don't even need to be closeby.

18 - Crusader -  (Indomitable Soul) (Practiced Manifester: War Mind) (Thicket of Blades)
*
Aaaand there's the last element of every good AoO tank. (We're missing Stand Still, but 1: we're not an AoO tank primary, and 2: an Eternal Wand of heroics (good investment on any warrior) can nab it for you if you think you'll really need it.) This is coupled with another major breakpoint: War Mind ML 11. We can now Double Expand to Gargantuan (with an absolutely unbelievable 40-foot reach!), and have it last for nearly two hours. 40' reach + Thicket of Blades + the ability to directly control opponent positions (1d20+57 now!) is win.

Just note that you'll need to get your Dexterity up there to offset Expansion's drain on it. You've probably been pumping it with magic gloves or Manuals of Quickness of Action by this point (good on you!) for Combat Reflexes use; here it'll pay off again.

19 - War Mind - (Chain of Defensive Posture +4)
*
Really, these last two levels could be anything warrior-related, but I opted for War Mind.

Full base attack, extra ML and power points, that's basically everything you'd ask for at this point. The class feature is a cherry on top.

20 - War Mind - (Enduring Body 3/-) (Vampiric Blade)
*
See the note at level 19. Here, Vampiric Blade is probably the best of the choices for you (note that your base weapon damage is 4d6 at this point), even though it's hard to apply due to not being able to manifest while raging. If you need an alternative, Dimension Slide is probably your best choice (again), but its utility is subsumed a bit by your Stone Dragon moves from above.


Snapshot: With a +6 item on each of the three physical scores (you need all three), a +5 Tome of Dexterity and a +4 Tome of Con - which you can afford since you don't need to rely too much on your actual weapon for damage - assuming average HD rolls, you've got over 250 hit points (with DR 3/-; if you drop the Quick trait that climbs to nearly 275), +19 base attack, melee attack +29 (assuming only Greater Magic Weapon), saves of Fort+27, Ref+17, Will+8, and a passable (though not amazing by any stretch) sum of skill points to distribute. A +4 Periapt of Wisdom gives you a base of 81 power points to use (Psywar ML 2, War Mind ML 13), and you have a Crusader IL of 11. This is without any of your buffs (powers, War Mind features, or rage) active, nor is it using any special maneuver (you get +4 on a surprising number of them, and can daisy-chain those +4s onto other attacks if you time it right). The boosts from Rage and Strength of My Enemy alone can be downright devastating and can make that +29 melee modifier get substantially larger.
(EDITED NOTE: This originally said "belt of magnificence". I forgot that was an all-six scores item, and thought it was just the three physical scores. You have no real need for a boosted Intelligence, and the only things Charisma buys this build are a higher Intimidate modifier (if you've been going that route) and a slightly better Will save. However, since you don't add a charisma penalty to your Will save, it's uneconomical to boost Charisma for this reason over Wisdom, particularly because Wisdom improves your psionic stamina as well (oh, and your passive perception skills, which can actually be quite respectable in this build!).)

Overall Strengths:  You've got just about everything you'd want as a fighter here. High HP, high attack bonus, DR, answers to just about every combat situation, and a good combination of AoO tanking and ubercharging. Your position control causes opponents to waste actions just getting back to where they were last round, and chances are if they try that, they're getting slammed into a wall for even more damage. You also aren't incredibly equipment-reliant, as far as non-ToB fighters go - you could get by with a nonmagical guisarme and you wouldn't suffer all that much. You're capable of bull rushing great wyrm red dragons (they resist bull rushes at +37, and you're bull rushing at up to +64 in the snapshot - and note that this started with 10 strength and doesn't actually pump it at all beyond a basic +6 item) on regular attacks, as well as chaining together basic combat maneuvers (charge, full attack, sunder, trip, bull rush, and AoO tank) all without expending a single resource. You have a decent amount of rages to push those results even higher, plus the War Mind's class features.

Overall Weaknesses: As you'd expect for a fighter, your Will save is in the gutter. Boost it as soon as you can, preferrably doubling-up with a high save bonus AND mind-immunity. Similarly, against a really good sniper (at very long range), you don't have a lot of options, as your senses depend on cross-class skill spending and the shorter-range Detect Hostile Intent. Plus, you have no inherent means of teleporting, but I'm assuming you're shoring that up with magic equipment (and there are variants for that if you want inherent teleporting). There's an unfortunate tradeoff between your key ability score (Dexterity) and your key buff effect (size increases), meaning you have to either engage in a Dex-boosting arms race or think tactically about when you Expand or Rage. Finally, like all Expanders, tight quarters can be your downfall. Unlike most of them, though, you still have pretty good combat prowess without your size increases.

Suggested Variations: If you'd like, you can drop Improved Trip and Combat Expertise, freeing up two feats and letting you drop the flaws (you still need 14 Int, though). If you keep the flaws, this lets you grab Stand Still (the most important AoO tank feat that you don't have); the other feat can be used to bump Practiced Manifester earlier, letting you hit augment breakpoints faster. If you do this, your 18th level feat can easily become Defensive Sweep; a Gargantuan character takes up enough room to have a LOT of targets be "adjacent", especially if he can trample his way to them. If you want a more classical approach without Improved Trip, you can also pick up a spiked chain if you prefer. The power selections (apart from Expansion) are actually pretty wide open as well; most notably missing is a self-teleport, so if you don't want one of them, exchange it for Dimension Slide or Dimension Swap. Finally, the later levels (basically everything past 15) are completely interchangeable; I haven't explored what's doable with those levels, but I imagine it could be pretty fierce.


There you have it. I plan on doing one of these a week. Not all of them will be that involved - this one works level-by-level because it was designed that way (playable 1-20), but others may only snapshot specific levels. This particular build, as I've said, isn't new, but I wanted a better place to link to when I discuss it.

I'll be taking requests if people want specific builds (i.e. melee, ranged, casters, gish builds, sneaks, villains, supports, ZOMGCHEEZ, etc... we've got plenty to show off). Next week is probably going to be Ashardalon Reborn unless I get a request for another type. (I'll leave it to you to guess what kind of character that is.) 

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style))

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

[RT] Something for Everyone: A.K.A. The Last Sorcerer RT Will Ever Build (Caster, Damage, Trapscout, Takedowns)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

I recall looking over these guys previously - simply fantastic!

I think I'm going to use the chassis for one of the games I'm running for my players.    
I love it!  The ones I would most like to see
The Damage Dealer you and ael came up with (fighter vs rogue).  I lost interest in the discussion because the math was getting to be more than I could handle, but I would love to see the finished product.
The best Touch AC you can come up wih.  I think you've posted one with a 40+ before.
RadTao's Tess and Chester - the other Molesters. 
"Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter." -Condoleezza Rice "My fellow Americans... I've just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes." - Ronald Reagan This user has been banned from you by the letters "O-R-C" and the numbers "2, 3, 4, and 6"
User Quotes
56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
I love it!


Thank you!
The ones I would most like to see
The Damage Dealer you and ael came up with (fighter vs rogue).  I lost interest in the discussion because the math was getting to be more than I could handle, but I would love to see the finished product.


That wasn't an optimized "build" so much as a theoretical optimization stunt, but I can toss it out if you'd like to. I haven't even named it. The sheet where I did all the calcs is public, though. The one I think you're talking about is on the Oddballs tab under Daring Outlaw. (The build itself is listed in this discussion.)

That said, you might see a few theoretical builds here. They're rare, but present. I'm particularly tickled with Gun Fu.
The best Touch AC you can come up wih.  I think you've posted one with a 40+ before.


I've seen higher, actually, but you're thinking of Captain Constitution, who's one of Andarious' builds; I intend to present him later on anyway (along with the build he was written as a response to, one of mine, the Inevitable Nightmare. It makes the most sense as a response to that build, so when he shows up, Capt. Con. will follow.). We also have two similar ones as far as touch AC is concerned: the Edge of the Light (one of Radical Taost's) and the Evasion Tank (AR and RT worked on that one). 
RadTao's Tess and Chester - the other Molesters. 


I couldn't find Tess and Chester, sadly - Chester was a TWF crusader primarily, while Tess... I seem to recall her making use of a non-martial PrC (psychic weapon master, likely) to get +Dex+Wis on the AoO front. If you like AoO work, we're dealing with a similar one right now, but it's not finished yet.

And for those who are wondering a bit about the one I had planned to release, Ashardalon Reborn, for hinting value, is a villain or antihero build that can readily be adjusted for non-villanous characters. It basically notes one place where there isn't a theurge class, and makes its own out of existing rules applied in very clever form,  and it does so dripping in style. It's got alarming flexibility and lives up to its namesake with literally perfect lore.

After that, I'd prefer to toss out non-warriors for a while (I have a few to present there - Uncanny Trapsmith, the Nuker, the Eldrich Chord, and so on, none of which are warrior-types like this week's offering), but if people want warriors, we've GOT warriors. Probalby far more than our fair share of them...

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style))

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

[RT] Something for Everyone: A.K.A. The Last Sorcerer RT Will Ever Build (Caster, Damage, Trapscout, Takedowns)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

This is looking quite impressive!

Just one question for you, though. How do you feel this build compares to aerith's lockdown build(tinyurl.com/czvqwsj) particularily for the early levels? (say, up to about level 10)

Obviously the focus is slightly different (more control in the other build), but just wondering which one you think the team as a whole would benefit most from.
This is looking quite impressive!

Just one question for you, though. How do you feel this build compares to aerith's lockdown build(tinyurl.com/czvqwsj) particularily for the early levels? (say, up to about level 10)

Obviously the focus is slightly different (more control in the other build), but just wondering which one you think the team as a whole would benefit most from.


Thank you.

The two of them honestly play different roles - Lockdown is a dedicated AoO lock, while the Pinball Brothers are hybrid pouncer/locks with aspects of tanks, debuffers, and scouts thrown in there for options. (They even have plenty of skill points for Intimidate and Never Outnumbered if you want to use an action on something like that, and Survival is a class skill for several levels, so they can even fill non-standard skill roles to a degree.) Comparing them isn't going to be easy.

That said, since the canonical Fighter 20 Lockdown is extremely dependent on equipment and matures rather late, and the stats above assume minimal equipment for the Brothers at all (seriously, I didn't even give them a good weapon! A trivial example is Whirling - Whirlwind Attack is a full attack, not a full round action, so you can Pounce into a Whirlwind with his Gargantuan Reach and lay waste), I'd argue the Brothers are better at the lower levels. Then again, this could easily be due to the flaws in the build. (Ditching the flaws to dump Improved Trip or Combat Brute doesn't cost you all that much though.)

However, if your DM rules that zero-damage Power Attack hits still trigger Knockback, fit Stand Still into this build (dump anything, really - Improved Trip, most likely, which also frees up another feat for, say, EWP (Spiked Chain) or Defensive Sweep or something) and equip them similarly (ESPECIALLY the Mind Blank, Covering Strike, and Teleportation items, but possibly the weapon enhancements as well), and I don't think it'll be much of a contest. Likewise, pull in scenarios where lockdowns aren't going to be effective (Ael usually just goes "Mage Slayer, casters aren't a problem" when there are ways to avoid AoOs for casting even while standing right next to a Mage Slayer: Sheilded Manifesting, for instance. Likewise, Ael relies on a Dragon feat to stop swift spells, but even it won't stop Anklets of Translocation, for instance - and while that's a short-range teleport, the Brothers have longer reach.) and the Pinball Brothers have better options available to them. Similarly, the Brothers have some inherent magic options available to them without hideously cross-classing UMD the whole way through - dorjes of Hustle come immediately to mind, as do psicrowns of Dispelling Buffer, plus Expansion, plus Strength of My Enemy, plus Detect Hostile Intent.

Lockdown does its job very, very well. It just relies on a LOT of very specific equipment and a very high level to do it, and it relies on that job being omnipresent (which to be fair it almost always is). The Pinball Brothers also do their job very, very well. They don't rely on any specific equipment (although they are slightly more battlefield dependent if they want their highest damage), can start the trick off from a much lower level, scale VERY well with level, and can switch between combat roles with zero rounds of prep time.

And, let's be honest: Both of them will fall to optimized mages in arena scenarios, but I almost never build for arena scenarios. This guy was engineered the way he was for 1-20 dungeon crawling; that's also why I assume Greater Magic Weapon is available in all of my builds (you're almost certainly travelling with someone who can cast it, and there's no reason why they wouldn't if that spell makes their defensive line that much better). There's even a minor narrative arc, set in Eberron: From goliath outcast (probably discovered in Xen'drik), discovered by the Khorvese military and drafted as an enforcer and shock trooper during the war, working as security for Stormreach expeditions when he discovers evidence of the ancient warrior traditions of the giants (who fought the quori, remember: it's likely the Talaaric texts actually describe what they learned fighting their enemies). Studying these and drawing out his inner might, he becomes a strong, tough paragon of the goliath race, bringing out his inherent strengths and plowing through those who would oppose him like a mighty mountain avalanche. But I digress.

Now, this is just a comparison with the canonical Lockdown - the Fighter 20 listed in the front of the post. The later Lockdowns, which employ different classes, spellcasting, and similar I haven't looked into. 

Conclusion: early game, Pinball Brothers are probably better in an adventuring setting. Late game, Lockdown does his job better, but Pinball isn't that far behind (probably 75-80% of the AoO lock capacity of Lockdown, but in a different style - rather than AoOing everything the enemy does, he just stacks action-crippling penalties onto his normal AoOs) and has more options when that job won't work.



Now, setting the COMPETITION aside for some REAL fun, remember the original concept behind the Pinball Brothers? It was two characters, working in tandem. The original names were Flipper and Bumper. Lockdown makes the ideal new Bumper - he's rather immobile, but once he roots he's devastating as pretty much everything you do in his threatened area is getting greeted with a smack to the face. The Pinball Brothers remain excellent Flippers, pouncing to where targets are and repositioning them into Lockdown's threatened area, usually with a few debuff positions of their own (prone, sundered, in the same square, etc.) and acting as a secondary bumper with Sweeping Strike while Lockdown moves into a new position. I think this would probably be a very fun pair of characters to play on the same team, having Lockdown stand near high-priority targets while the Pinball Brothers act as a sheepdog. 

Mind you, they'd still need the right equipment to handle a dedicated set of non-melee threats, such as a wall of snipers or properly-designed spellcasters. But I never said they were perfect, and (at least in the case of the Pinball Brothers) you have almost a full set of wealth to spend.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style))

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

[RT] Something for Everyone: A.K.A. The Last Sorcerer RT Will Ever Build (Caster, Damage, Trapscout, Takedowns)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

Well, I must say, you have definitely made me excited to try out a build like this. I'm not quite in a position to do so yet, but it's looking extremely likely that I'll be taking a -lot- of cues from this thread when I finally am. I am actually making a combo-character with another player, but it's more thematical(we had a backstory in mind where he plays a wizard and my character actually serves as his familiar because of a magical fluke, if our dm would be up for it ^^) rather than mechanical. Pairing Lockdown with a Brother does seem rather interesting, though, hmmm...
If I plan to take Stand Still instead of Improved Trip, could I go with a Glaive instead of a Guisarme?
If I plan to take Stand Still instead of Improved Trip, could I go with a Glaive instead of a Guisarme?


You can do it with any reach weapon at all; if you'd drop Combat Expertise / Improved Trip the glaive would work. It's not terribly equipment-dependent.

However, the ability to trip at a distance - even without the +4 and followup attack from Improved Trip - make the guisarme well worth the slightly lower average damage compared to the glaive, which can't trip at all. The Pinball Brothers are all about options in combat, and tripping happens to be one of the best options in the basic melee repertoire, so denying it by picking a non-trip weapon is kind of hamstringing yourself. (You get enough of a bonus from your size to make tripping pretty reliable even without the Improved Trip bonus, and you can daisy-chain in the bonus on sundering if you use your Sundering Cleave attack as a trip.)

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style))

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

[RT] Something for Everyone: A.K.A. The Last Sorcerer RT Will Ever Build (Caster, Damage, Trapscout, Takedowns)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

True, I had failed to consider that. Hmmm... and considering my AC is rather low right now(I've picked up a full-plate for the time being, else I fear I'd be slightly too squishy in the current party. The movement penalty hurts, but with Quick it's still quite on-par, at least) Combat Expertise might not even be that bad of a feat to have in some situations.

I'm just afraid of having to drop the guisarme in combat due to a trip attack, and I don't particularily want to carry two. I guess the armour spikes could be used to blow anyone away who tried to take advantage of my being "unarmed", though.

I'll have to give it some thoughts.
True, I had failed to consider that. Hmmm... and considering my AC is rather low right now(I've picked up a full-plate for the time being, else I fear I'd be slightly too squishy in the current party. The movement penalty hurts, but with Quick it's still quite on-par, at least) Combat Expertise might not even be that bad of a feat to have in some situations.

I'll have to give it some thoughts.


If monsters are getting within your reach, trip them before they advance close enough to hit you. (You're using a reach weapon with Combat Reflexes and have a ridiculous size bonus; this will probably work.) Alternatively, use Stand Still, but be sure that this feat works with Knockback before committing to it. You rely on that reach and AoO to defend yourself in melee while your AC suffers (although I would have used a breastplate personally - you want a high Dexterity and full plate doesn't allow for that).

I listed a possible method earlier for defending against arrows - a buckler with the Arrow Deflection gems from the MIC; the gems provide a separate increase to AC against ranged attacks, rather than increasing the shield's bonus, so the crystals apply even if the shield isn't being actively used, so long as it's donned - but this is a tiny bit cheesy.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style))

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

[RT] Something for Everyone: A.K.A. The Last Sorcerer RT Will Ever Build (Caster, Damage, Trapscout, Takedowns)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

Yeah, thing is, at level 4 I really couldn't afford more than a regular buckler with the weakest crystal, and I didn't feel -1 to all attacks was worth +2 ac against ranged attacks only.

I'm planning on switching out the full-plate as I go and my dexterity increases.

I'm pretty sure my DM would go for Knockback triggering off of Stand Still, so I'm in internal debate on that one. (Also, I snuck in an edit in my previous post before I noticed you had replied :p)
Yeah, thing is, at level 4 I really couldn't afford more than a regular buckler with the weakest crystal, and I didn't feel -1 to all attacks was worth +2 ac against ranged attacks only.

I'm planning on switching out the full-plate as I go and my dexterity increases.

I'm pretty sure my DM would go for Knockback triggering off of Stand Still, so I'm in internal debate on that one. (Also, I snuck in an edit in my previous post before I noticed you had replied :p)



[EDITED IN:] I'm just afraid of having to drop the guisarme in combat due to a trip attack, and I don't particularily want to carry two. I guess the armour spikes could be used to blow anyone away who tried to take advantage of my being "unarmed", though.


You're doing fine, then. I wouldn't worry about it too much; just keep up on Dexterity as paramount. More AoOs matters far more than a teensy bit of an attack/damage bonus, particularly since you get lots of ways to boost Attack (Rage) or Damage (Dungeon Crasher).

For your edit, what's your trip modifier? What's your average opponent's trip modifier? Are you likely to fail that check twice? (You have to fail the check for him to get an attempt to trip you, and he has to succeed against the same modifier to get you prone, and as I understand it, you can wait until after that failed check to drop the weapon!) Suffice it to say, this is not a common occurance.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style))

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

[RT] Something for Everyone: A.K.A. The Last Sorcerer RT Will Ever Build (Caster, Damage, Trapscout, Takedowns)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

I guess you're right. Guisarme it is!
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