Weekly Optimization Showcase: Ashardalon Reborn

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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); whenever I showcase a build, I’ll identify its lead author in the immediate preamble (just before the build’s title). By no means should you assume I did all of these on my own – in fact, on some, my only contribution was to write up this post!


 


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.

With that out of the way, let's get started. This week we start with a build on which I did the heavy lifting, but the basic inspiration came from RadicalTaoist and Andarious.
------------------
 The cycle continues. Ashardalon had sought power since time immemorial. Not even the great druid Dydd could slay him - merely set him back. And, it turns out, Dydd's descendants couldn't finish the job - for following his defeat at the Bastion of Souls, Ashardalon exists today as a vestige of his former power.

The funny thing about the Bastion is the amount of raw incarnum that flows through it. That was why Ashardalon chose it for his plans. It may also have been his salvation. For not only did his consciousness find a new... lack of existence... as a vestige, his soul’s passing corrupted countless threads of incarnum with his dark influence. And one of those threads seems destined to become the soul of another of Dydd's descendents - a child of those who dealt the final blow within the Bastion of Broken Souls. A child born with a soul far more dangerous than his own... a soul which hungers for power and burns with greed... 


The cycle continues.



ASHARDALON REBORN
I will swallow your soul

Required Books: Magic of Incarnum, Tome of Magic, Dragon Magic, Drow of the Underdark (for Imperious Command and the Fearsome enhancement), Complete Champion (for Death Devotion), PHB2 (for retraining - optional).
Unearthed Arcana used: Bloodlines. This isn’t actually negotiable; if you can’t use bloodlines, this build will mostly work (except one feat choice), but it’ll be seriously castrated. Note that this uses the RAW interpretation of how bloodlines work with pact magic, and follows a strict RAW translation of when you can buy off the bloodlines. You CAN buy them off later; if you aren’t playing 1-20 it won’t make that much of a difference over time, but the sooner the better.


 


Background: The basic mechanical concept here was to play around with Death Devotion at first. Over time a couple other approaches - RT's idea to use a Tenebrous-pact binder to get more Death Devotion uses to power it while having access to Focalor or Chupoclops to provide save-hosing auras, and Andarious' idea to play around with the Dragon Magic soulmelds to create a terrifying dragon totemist - merged together and created this monstrosity. It wasn't until I realized that it allowed a pretty strong way of blending dragon and demon together, along with a strong direct influence from the Ashardalon vestige, that every element of the lore fit together as well as it did. So I rejiggered a few things with that in mind and came up with a rather compelling villain - or antihero - build, which remains versatile and flexible at every level.

If you don't know who Ashardalon is, in the 3e context he was the Really Really Big Bad of the 3e Adventure Path starting with the Sunless Citadel. More is written on him in the Draconomicon (see the Disciple of Ashardalon) and Dragon Magic (his vestige). But, lore-wise, he was defeated by a powerful druid and survived by binding a demon to serve as his heart. Millenia passed, and his machinations eventually led to a second climactic encounter with descendents of the druid (the PCs in the Adventure Path) in the Bastion of Souls. (Yes, the very same Bastion of Souls later statted out in Magic of Incarnum). I couldn't resist writing a What Happened Next with this in mind.



The Basics 



  • Race: You actually have two options: The 100% legal one (Silverbrow Human with Major Demon bloodline) and the slightly-better-matched one (Azurin wth Major Red Dragon bloodline). The second is preferred narratively (it fits perfectly with the lore above and directly reflects Ashardalon's more prominent red dragon side), but it requires you to rule that having a dragon bloodline qualifies you for the Dragonblood subtype, which isn't made explicit anywhere since bloodlines are a UA variant. The lore just shifts a teensy bit if you pick the silverbrow; the mechanics really don't change much at all. (Biggest difference is the Azurin's bonus essentia.) I will be assuming the more appropriate Azurin one below, but as I said, it really doesn't matter all that much.

  • Ability Scores:  13/10/15/14/8/12; advance Charisma at every opportunity. The Major Bloodline will also provide some bonuses on these scores (rounding out the odd results on Str/Con and providing a point of Cha, no matter what).

  • Alignment: Any Evil. As if Ashardalon’s reincarnation could be anything else. However, see the variants section at the end.


 


Skill Notes: Max out Intimidate – and note that the bloodline levels raise your maximum rank in a skill! It’s okay if you don’t advance it at 1st, though – you have enough Intelligence to get the required points at 2nd level. Just get in the habit of bumping it up to the maximum every time it shows up as a class skill. Other than that, just keep up with the (rather light) prerequisites; the only substantial investment is a 10 rank bump in Spellcraft, but that’s optional. Remember that several totemist melds can give you substantial skill bonuses, too. You’ll definitely want the Never Outnumbered skill trick at some point as well.


 


Basic Equipment: Like most totemist-based characters, you don’t need much in mundane gear: just basic light armor. Investing in heavier armor may be useful once you get into Knight of the Sacred Seal; you’re not a Dexterity character and by then check penalties may not matter much. Bonus points if it's made out of red dragonhide.


Magical Gear Goals: Definitely consider Incarnum Focus items for favored melds (such as the gloves – you’ll be shaping Claws of the Wyrm a lot). Likewise, whatever armor you use should have the Fearsome enhancement (Drow of the Underdark; lets you Intimidate as a move action). Other than that, stick to the basics; nothing particularly nonstandard jumps out.

EDIT: 123456789blaaaaa observed that a Desert Wind cloak linked to Distracting Ember gives you a cheap way to summon an unlimited number of critters. At the early levels, this is not anything particularly synergistic with this build (mostly it's the intended use - a self-flanker - and the usual unintended uses - i.e. setting off traps), but at the late levels, assuming you just need to slay something instead of keeping a corpse around for the full minute, you can use it to fuel your Havest Soul ability. Sating your greed with elemental fire you form from your will - yep, that fits the theme.



The Build:

Build Stub: Totemist 6 / Binder 7 / Knight of the Sacred Seal 5 / Scion of Dantalion 1 / Necrocarnate 1. (See level 18's note before you judge that.)

Note: We assume that you get all three bloodline levels at ECL 1. This means you hit level 2 at 4000xp total, and level 3 at 6000, the same point that everyone else is hitting level 4. The XP system will cause you to catch up pretty quickly. As a side effect, your EBL - which governs virtually everything about your pacts, including which are available and how many you get - is 3 higher than it would normally seem. Similarly for your meldshaper level, which normally matters less but winds up proving important mid-build. The bloodline levels are what let us get away with mixing these two different systems without a theurge class; this odd choice will pay off.

I’ve also listed bloodline bonus feats in the list below; first with the red dragon, second with the demon. Non-feat bouses that aren't appropriate to the concept are present, but not shown below.

1 – Totemist - (Wild Empathy) (Improved Soulmeld Capacity, Death Devotion)
Your dragonblood subtype (either as a Silverbrow Human or as a dragon bloodliner) lets you use two interesting totemist melds at this point - the Claws of the Wyrm and the Dragon's Tail, both in Dragon Magic - which grant natural attacks merely by being shaped, as opposed to being totem-bound like most melds. You're level 1 and you're acting almost like a level 2 totemist due to your draconic nature. Both of these melds boost up with essentia, so you can get up to a pair of +2 claws at level 1 this way. Oh, and they (or the tail) can be used to deliver negative levels from Death Devotion. Sure, you can only bestow one negative level per target this way, but at this level a LOT of your opponents who it'll kill in one shot (and a very accurate weapon for this level, equal to your average 28-PB fighter!).

If you want a noncombat trick at this point, you can still tap into Dydd's heritage and shape the Unicorn Horn instead of the Dragon Tail. A SINGLE point of essentia invested in that, thanks to 3 bloodline levels and your Charisma, gives you a +9 Wild Empathy check. You can probably get a small army of weakling forest critters to accompany you if you wish. Wild Empathy isn’t mind control, but it shouldn’t be underestimated if you’re getting boosts this big for free.

2 – Binder – (Soul Binding) (Bloodline bonus feat: Alertness OR Power Attack)
The combination of Soul Binding and 3 bloodline levels gives us an EBL of 4, enough to get 2nd level vestiges right off the bat. The choice is relatively open, but one of my favorites is Malphas. This unlocks an amazing stealth-kill combination that will make your rogue sad in the pants: shape Claws of the Wyrm on your hands and Kruthik Claws (for the stealth skill bonus) on your shoulders, take a pact with Malphas (for invisibility and Sudden Strike), and watch what happens.

3 – Totemist – (Totem Chakra Bind (+1)) (Improved Binding) (Bloodline: Strength +1)
At this point, you get an extra shaped soulmeld and a chakra bind to the amazing Totem chakra. Girallon Arms gets there right now, combining with either Claws of the Wyrm (if you're following RAW) or Dragon Tail (if you're arguing that two sets of claws from the same hands doesn't make sense, or if you want to combine your natural attacks with a weapon), resulting in either five or six attacks. Which are made with Sudden Strike... frequently from Invisibility, and you have enough space to still shape the Kruthik Claws to make sure it triggers frequently.

 Also, adding Improved Binding to the mix lets you pick up 3rd level vestiges (EBL for vestige choice: 6), so you have a lot more options now if you don’t want to stick to Malphas’ ambush tactics. Focalor is an interesting choice – you get a pretty decent distance attack on par with a 5th-level warlock (that’s about what level your team would be if you got the bloodlines at 1st), as well as your first saving-throw-hosing aura, which makes Death Devotion more likely to succeed. Consider switching your totem bind to the Basilisk Mask if you do this – Focalor’s aura + a petrification effect + an ally with a hammer = good times.


4 – Binder -  (Pact Augmentation, Suppress Sign)
The real winner here is that your pact-based EBL rises to 7 - Binder 2 + 3 bloodline + 2 Improved Binding - so you can finally forge a pact with Tenebrous and use Death Devotion much more frequently.

5 – Totemist - (Totem's Protection).

6 – Binder - (Bonus Essentia.)


7 – Totemist - (Bloodline: +2 on Intimidate or +2 on Hide.)
This is a reasonably dead level (apart from the extra meld), although if you picked the dragon bloodline, you get a boost to Intimidate at around the same time that you can reliably Demoralize any other target you see (if you've been maxing Intimidate - 13 ranks, thanks to bloodline levels). If you want, now's a good time to grab the Never Outnumbered skill trick. This lets you spread the pain around - and it only gets worse if you happen to decide to bind a Dragonfire Mask to your totem instead. (Honestly, Never Outnumbered + Frightful Presence is win. Add in Focalor or Tenebrous, and this also sets up opponents for a lethal Death Devotion strike, adding insult to injury.This combination is optional for now, but it will come back to the fore later on.  However, since you can still get natural weapons just from having melds shaped, it's a good use for your totem anyway.

It's also worth noting that if you're making use of Never Outnumbered, you should definitely have the Brass Mane shaped if at all possible. It turbo-boosts Intimidate to the point where creatures don't really stand a chance, even if you gave up Focalor (with the saving-throw-lowering aura) for Tenebrous (for more Death Devotion uses).

8 - Binder (Bonus Feat: Expel Vestige.)
This feat is actually completely optional. If you prefer the meta-supernatural feats in the ToM, take one of those instead. I just wanted to play up the versatility here and let him change between forms as needed.

9 - Totemist (Chakra Binds: Crown/Feet/Hands) (Weapon Focus: Bite or Claw) (Bloodline: +1 Constitution)

 

10 - Binder (Pact Augment 2)
The real winner here is that, thanks to your bloodlines, your raw EBL is now 5+3=8, meaning two vestiges. Due to Improved Binding (EBL for vestige choice = 10), they can be up to 5th level. You have a LOT of options here, but it lets you combine Focalor with some of your other options. Most importantly, you can add his Aura of Sadness in when you're making Death Devotion attacks or Intimidating people. He's not the best choice, but it'll help get you used to the tactics to come.

11 - Totemist (Improved Totem Bind +1/+1)

12 - Binder (Soul Guardian: Fear) (Double Chakra: Totem)
Yep. Bloodline 3 + Totemist 6 = meldshaper level 9, so the Totemist's Natural Spell enters the picture. And look, you just got a second bind last level, so you can begin to put different things together on the totem and really rock. 

An example setup at this level is: Focalor+Tenebrous, {Dragonfire Mask/Totem}, Brass Mane, {Landshark Boots or Girallon Arms/Totem}, Totem Avatar OR Dragon Mantle, Claws of the Wyrm OR Dragon Tail (see level 3 for why you might need to pick the latter). This gives you an incredible Frightful Presence (which works great with Never Outnumbered and the Brass Mane's intimidate boost, supported by Focalor's aura if they're close-by), which can collectively hose opponent saves into the abyss. You then follow this up with Death Devotion and swallow their soul while hitting them with five or six natural attacks for raw damage.

 


And, unlike most damage-dealers, if you’re moving into a noncombat part of the adventure, all of this is completely reconfigurable. (You’ll note the feat choices are rather generic for this reason.)


13 - Binder
And this raises your EBL to 10+2 for the purposes of vestige level, meaning 6th level vestiges are open. Drop Focalor for now and swap in Chupoclops; he's got the best of Focalor (a debuff aura, but Chupo's is bigger), a bite attack (hey, look at that, another natural attack), and a bit of the same stealth abilities you'd find with Malphas earlier. Oh, and he also has a POUNCE ability, not that you’d ever want that with all your natural weapons and everything.

 


Interestingly, the Tome of Magic repeatedly says that Chupoclops should grant you a poison bite, but the ability itself doesn’t actually give your bite any poison properties.


14 - Knight of the Sacred Seal (Patron Vestige, Aligned Strike) (Bloodline: Power Attack OR Cleave)
For your patron vestige, pick Chupoclops. He supports you in almost everything you'd want later on.

Hilariously, your bloodline levels advance all of your class levels, including KOSS, which treats its class level as 4 for assorted formulas. One such formula is what level is added to your EBL for binding purposes - boosting your EBL all the way to 14 normally, or 16 for vestige level. This means you now have three pacts available at once and can go up to 7th level vestiges (there's a LOT of options open to you here; the binder handbook can help you narrow your choices down.)

15 - Knight of the Sacred Seal (Vestige's Protection, Soul Binding) (Imperious Command) (Bloodline: Charisma +1)
EBL is now 15+2, so you get 8th level vestiges - you've found what remains of your earlier incarnation in some forgotten depths of the Void, and have promised him space in your soul in exchange for his power. Go ahead and bind Ashardalon. (If your DM allows Atonement to change who you dedicate your KOSS levels to, you might consider switching them over, but even if you can't, Chupo's still a wonderful choice for the knight.) Ashardalon has a 1/5 round fear roar (The DC here, thanks to the bloodline boost to EBL, is 23) that even renders targets Shaken on a successful save. When combined with Chupoclops' save-hosing aura, Fearsome Armor letting you Intimidate / Never Outnumbered as a move aciton (and triggering Imperious Command), and the Brass Mane boosting your Intimidate score something fierce (seriously, you're looking at +41 to Intimidate with just 3 essentia in the Brass Mane), you prety much paralyze everything nearby if they're not fear-immune.  You even still have your swift action open, so if you feel like shifting your essentia around (say, to your totem-bound Dragonfire Mask, before its fear effect triggers!) you can.

All of those numbers assume only one piece of equipment: a +4 cloak of Charisma, which is a mere fraction of your WBL at this stage.

Oh, and as a side effect? You retain all your powerful melee presence abilities described above. The general pattern might look like Ashardalon + Chupoclops + Tenebrous + {Dragonfire Mask:Totem}+Brass Mane+Claws of the Wyrm/Dragon Tail + {Girallon Arms:Totem}+Totem Avatar/Dragon Mantle, giving you a bite, six claws (or four claws and a tail), a fear aura (and a fear "breath weapon"), and some draconic toughness. And one final thing: You hit base attack +11 here, so if you feel like adding in a weapon, you can.

16 - Knight of the Sacred Seal (Vestige Aura)

17 - Knight of the Sacred Seal (Vestige Power) (Retrain Improved Binding to Necrocarnum Acolyte)
You can now bind 8th level vestiges without making use of Improved Binding, so it gets retrained. Necrocarnum itself isn't all that useful, though, so we leave it alone for now. I wish I could have found a way to pack more Oomph into these levels that didn't look like an obvious optimiztion kluge, but in the meantime you get something that's kind of slow.

Hey, I'm trying a theurge without any theurge infrastructure, so sue me.

18 - Knight of the Sacred Seal (Apotheosis, Vestige Surge), (Open (Lesser/Greater) Chakra)
The Open Chakra feat is more because it gives you an extra bind as long as it's to whichever chakra you open. You have to choose now: If you favor this build's melee presence, the Shoulders chakra is a decent choice (as Totem Avatar provides a free size increase to all of your natural weapons, while providing some extra hit points and natural armor if it's shaped); if you like the intimidating debuff engine focus, instead open the Throat greater chakra (bind your Brass Mane to your throat; you now have a roar that fatigues the targets, which shuts down an alarming number of physical options and further saps their strength. With Chupoclops' aura and your insane DCs (Vestige DC 28, soulmeld DC 19-22 depending on which bind you're looking at), not a lot of things will be able to bring their full strength to you.)

19 - Scion of Dantalion (Favored, Scholarship, Soul Binding)
This level, I openly admit, is a kluge, I needed one more soul binding PrC to combine with the bloodline levels to raise our EBL up to 22 - high enough to get the fourth vestige bind. The one I prefer here is Ipos - gives a bit of DR penetration to all our Claw weapons (we have a lot of those), gives a flat DC boost to all our other vestige powers (Ashardalon's fear roar, etc), a Rend effect (which is kind of nasty given the sheer number of claws we have), and a 1/5 rounds True Seeing effect. That's just about perfect for a build like this, rounding out nearly everything we're missing.

If you don't like the kluge, this works just fine with two "real" binder levels at the end too, but that prevents you from getting the sweetness I've managed to cram in at 20.

20 - Necrocarnate (Improved Meldshaper Level, Harvest Soul (1 minute))
At this point we have up to 5 melds shapeable, three of which can be chakra-bound (and two of those binds can be to the totem, granting very powerful effects). We even have two methods of raising essentia capacity - Improved Soulmeld Capacity and the Totem chakra itself. However, we've been making do with only 7 essentia so far. That's where the truly evil side of this build kicks in - Necrocarnate + a big bag of sacrificial critters = unlimited essentia for the day, in a dark ritual. Basically all your melds are now eternally full, so max out your natural weapon enhancement bonuses and your soulmeld save DCs.


Snapshot: With +6 items on Strength, Constitution, and Charisma, you’re looking at 261 expected HP after you bind Ashardalon; some other class features (pact augmentation, shaping the totem avatar, etc.) can change this. Base attack 16, saves 22/8/11, 8th level vestiges, up to 4 of them at once, at EBL 22; 5 soulmelds, 3 chakra binds (up to two to the totem), maximum essentia capacity on your primary meld 6, capacity of secondary melds 4, with functionally unlimited essentia at the end of the build, great DCs (28 for Death Devotion, 29 on the vestige powers (which tend to be the ones that will be calling for saves), and typically 16+Essentia for any meld powers (most of your melds aren’t asking for saves, though),all of these usually made vs debilitated opponents), and a good combination of dragonlike melee prowess and fear effects, along with a permanent aura which lowers saving throws even more. All of this makes easy fuel for the Death Devotion feat, which is a surprisingly reliable way to deliver negative levels, provided you can turn undead - which this build can do from level 4. You also get a host of bloodline powers, most of which aren't all that useful here, but there are three key ability bumps and a bonus Power Attack feat, along with +2 to an already killer Intimidate score (a whopping +54 with Fearsome armor and 4 points of essentia in the Brass Mane – note that the bloodline levels raise your maximum skill rank by 3. Support for turning this into an action-controlling effect is present thanks to Never Outnumbered and Imperious Command). Not bad for combining two systems that have no direct support for each other at all. (Ashardalon thinks that theurges are for wimps.)


Overall Strengths: This build has quite a bit of flexibility, but in my experience the choices that will bring the greatest effects all key off of one of three things: Melee prowess, fear and intimidation, and energy drain. Two sample approaches are given below, depending on your choice for that Open Chakra feat at 18th.



  • Melee Beast (physical damage + energy drain): Tenebrous, Chupoclops, Ipos, Ashardalon + {Girallon Arms:Totem}, {Totem Avatar:Shoulders}, Claws of the Wyrm OR Dragon Tail, {Heart of Fire:Totem}, and any other meld (probably Brass Mane, since you still have Imperious Command, which adds in a splash of fear.).

  • Fear Engine (melee/ranged hybrid): Ashardalon, Chupoclops, Focalor, Ipos + {Dragonfire Mask:Totem}, {Brass Mane:Throat},Claws of the Wyrm OR Dragon Tail, {Girallon Arms:Totem}, and Dragon Mantle. (Focalor can be swapped for Tenebrous without much of a problem if you want to emphasize the negative energy abilities over the course of the whole day.)


Overall Weaknesses: Your Reflex save is alarmingly low; if you expect to be fighting lots of area effects, you might want to shore that up. Several of your powers are fear-based and mind-affecting, which get less useful as your levels go up. You don’t require a lot of equipment, but on the flipside not a lot of equipment directly improves your combat power either. Also, you don’t have the ability to rebind your totem chakra, so once you’re set in that, you’re stuck for the day in a fixed role. (You have Expel Vestige and/or a Vestige Phylactery, so the pacts are a bit more flexible, but sadly they're also the ones that are less flexible.) A side effect of relying so much on class features for your abilities is that the build really “matures” somewhat late (there’s a couple godlike levels in the teens, compared to a few relatively “dead” levels earlier on), although it remains serviceable from 1-20 if you're willing to shift your role to what your features can provide.

Variants: An approach like this can work well in any team capable of accepting an evil character.  If you want to drop the evil focus, exchange the last two levels for more of Binder (although this might bring up an XP penalty) and you still get four concurrent pacts. Exchange the Necrocarnate level for another Totemist level for a bit more essentia; sadly there aren't any good meldshaping PrCs for pure totemists, but this approach does remove the need to be Evil. This really opens up the fluff quite a lot (really, the Ashardalon connection is just for fun - evil, fiendish dragon abilities with an emphasis on draining souls? When one of the key vestiges you use was a fiendish dragon who met his end in an Incarnum-rich region? Too perfect - but not unchangeable.) In fact, if you want, you can drop Death Devotion altogether (freeing up the Tenebrous bind for another one) and Imperious Command, and just play a binder/totemist as if there were a theurge class somewhere between pact magic and incarnum; most of the build is actually pretty generic in that regard. If you’re abandoning the Ashardalon flavor, you’re also free to pick from any of the major bloodlines and it’ll still work. Red Dragon and Demon still work the best, I think, but Efreeti is a possibility as well.


 


 


There you have it. I’d love to see ways to make this guy more beastly, or to channel the flavor a bit more strongly. Alternatively, I’d love to see him used to terrify your players; he might work quite well as a recurring villain.


 


Next week, to start the shift away from melee characters, we're probably showcasing the "A"-Game Paladin, unless I get requests for a specific character type. (This was originally going to be the Wiszassin, but I already have a writeup ready for the "A"-Game Paladin, and honestly it's one that just makes me want to squee.)

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)

 

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 really love this build. Ashardalon is a freakin awesome villan and you guys somehow manage to blend the fluff perfectly despite drawing from a variety of sources in the build.

My only qualm is that the build requires bloodlines. I really really dislike bloodlines. How well would the build function with this homebrew theurge class(www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t...) instead of bloodlines?
I really love this build. Ashardalon is a freakin awesome villan and you guys somehow manage to blend the fluff perfectly despite drawing from a variety of sources in the build.


I like it too, and I was always disappointed that this didn't get any comments when it first cycled around. I have a similar debuff-focused build with less fluff in the works but haven't gotten it finalized quite yet (and I'm positive it'd be less distinctive than this anyway).

I'm open to suggestions on the last few levels. The retrained feat and last two levels can easily be switched back to Binder and a free feat to avoid the dipping kluge. It could use a bit of focus at that point, particularly against mind-affecting-immunity.
My only qualm is that the build requires bloodlines. I really really dislike bloodlines. How well would the build function with this homebrew theurge class(www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t...) instead of bloodlines?


...I was looking for that for a long time - I spotted it ages ago but didn't remember its name or that it was on Giant. I'd have to look a bit more into it before I can answer this. (I joked at it by claiming that Ashardalon thinks theurges are for wimps.)

Bloodlines have a few uses here and there, and they work particularly well with pact magic, but I agree they aren't everyone's cup of tea.

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)

 

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 like this build. Well done
IIRC he also got his own boxed DnD game complete with minis.
 
IIRC he also got his own boxed DnD game complete with minis.
 


Indeed he did. He shows up in a lot of things, but only flagshipped a few of them.




Having looked through (and played around with) the midnight occultist, I can say that some parts of this build will still work fine while others will fall behind, and overall it'll be weaker numerically but perhaps more flexible mechanically. The midnight occultist version will have better incarnum overall (much more essentia, and you'll still get access to the double chakra: totem feat) but will be weaker in the pact department. Thus, something like Totemist 2 / Binder 3 / Midnight Occultist 10 / Knight of the Sacred Seal 5 would be my first stab at using occultist in this manner - EBL 18 (8th level vestiges even without Improved Binding, but only three simultaneous vestiges), 6 soulmelds, 9 base essentia, 3 base chakra binds, plus the full range of class features from the two PrCs (although you still can't pick Ashardalon as your patron). There's a few bits of nice timing here (notably, you won't double-up on any particular chakras being opened, and several feats with level prerequisites line up with when you get a free feat slot), so you can probably take that skeleton in a different direction than trying to copy Ashadalon.

Then again, it doesn't take much to do if you've already got the dragonblood subtype: have Death Devotion, make pacts with Ashardalon, Chupoclops, and Tenebrous, shape the Claws of the Wyrm, Dragonfire Mask (Totem), Dragon Tail, Brass Mane, and Dragon Mantle, and chakra pact Ashardalon to the Heart and Totem (get flight through equipment; the totem bind is more for the increased capacity than its actual effect). If you're fighting fear-immune enemies, swap the Dragonfire Mask for any good Totem bind with multiple attacks (Landshark Boots or Girallon Claws, say). Check if the KotSS's accelerated vestige cooldown applies to abilities from the chakra pact; if it does, Ashardalon's hear bind is actually damn good, allowing you to alternate between draconic melee beast (pounce+lots of natural attacks+Frightful Presence+Aura of Despair+Death Devotion, plus DR, energy resistance, lots of HP, and impressive fast healing) and demonic spellcaster (Heart bind gives unlimited access to three domain's spells (and you have easy access to save-hosing effects, like Aura of Despair and Death Devotion), with a cooldown - and some of those spells are otherwise hard to get or include summons, and given how the entire reason Zycyryll pushes binders up an entire tier is that he grants the ability to summon, we can guess how powerful this would be). 

Sadly, the PrC looks slightly incomplete, as a few vestiges (including Tenebrous) aren't written with chakra pact entries. And, hilariously, they make the same mistake that the ToM editors did, in that Chupoclops's totem bind says he gives you poison but there's no poison actually in the ability (in the ToM, his bite attack is not poisonous but is named Poison Bite). (The only way to get that bind's effect is to double bind him, and while he's not a bad choice there are better ones out there.)

EDIT: I did notice that there's some interesting interaction here if you chakra pact bind a vestige to your totem. The PrC states that such a vestige is simultaneously a vestige and a soulmeld, meaning it's a legitimate target for Expanded Soulmeld Capacity as well as the increase from Favored Vestige if there's room for both in your build (the setup I used was Death Devotion, Improved Soulmeld, Improved Binding, Weapon Focus (claw), Bonus Essentia, Double Chakra (totem), Imperious Command, Favored Vestige (Ashardalon), and retraining Improved Binding to (something I haven't finalized yet, probably a Double Chakra, Shape Soulmeld, or odd pact magic feat) at 19th.). Ashardalon's chakra pacts are pretty abusable here; fully boosting Ashardalon in the above configuration would get you Fast Healing 28 (on top of his default bonus HP, DR, and energy resists), a 19d6 120' cone breath weapon that can be combined with a natural attack routine (on top of the Death Devotion empowered draconic / totem soulmelds plus Pounce), and the ability to cast up to 9th level spells from the Chaos/Evil/Fire domains at CL 19 and DC 28+Cha or Con mod (and apparently, despite being actual spells and not spell-like abilities, this is without any components or arcane/divine/whatever spell type), which is, all told, susprisingly badass.

(EDIT2: I omitted the Incarnum Focus items from the above, which is all snapshotted without any gear (it's kind of overkill, but an incarnum vest on top of that would allow an incredible 10 essentia to be crammed in to Ashardalon - that's a point where you might want to consider dropping the 5th KotSS level for a Necrocarnate level just to have any essentia left over for your other melds!). I also didn't mention that without gear, that approach looks like ~237 HP, +16 base attack, +23/+8/+10 saves, and 91 unallocated skill points. All of this assumed Silverbrow Human for the race). Interestingly, item-slot-wise, the only item slot this approach devours is the Torso slot, so you still have most of your equipment available to you, unlike some totemist builds.)

EDIT3: Hmm. I just remembered the Dragonborn template. Getting the Wings aspect would give you the one missing draconic visual element, and - interestingly - it interacts with Chupoclops' Ethereal Watcher ability (which ends if you take an action - but gliding is no more of an action than falling, so you might be able to glide through walls and floors. If this works, a mere 5' jump before triggering Ethereal Watcher will let you glide through a 20' wall). It also gives you the dragonblood type, so that's one problem solved; the CON bonus also helps with the number of soulmelds. All that you'd need here is a decent base race for dragonborn, taking into account what you keep and what you lose when you become one (and fluffwise, this lets you pick a half-decent LA+0 fiendish race to blend the fiend/dragon elements together without appealing to bloodlines - although I don't know of any LA+0 fiendish races that are actually Outsiders, let alone any with good ability mods that persist through the dragonborn template).

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)

 

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.

Thank you for that excellent and comprehensive analysis Tempest Smile.
Posting for two reasons.

Frst, Count, I updated that analysis with a lot more information (the three edits).

Second, I found this little gem and am editing it in to the main post:
Mostly off topic post here but I just wanted to let you guys know that you could use the desert wind cloak keyed to the fire elemental summon manuver to power the necrocarnate level in the "Ashdarlon reborn" build (I didn't want to necro the thread). 

 
Assuming the critter only needs to be alive long enough for you to kill it, and not for the entire minute the ritual takes, and that it doesn't need a corpse to complete, this is actually a very, very nice suggestion.

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)

 

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.

Do fire elementals (in general) leave corpses?

Also, since dragonborn requires you to be non-evil (after you take the template too, not just when you get it) you won't be able to get into necrocarnate if you get it on the character.    

   
Do fire elementals (in general) leave corpses?

Probably not the normal sort, though the existence of the Cinderspawn (described as being the burnt-out uundead remnants of creatures of elemental fire) as a monster in Libris Mortis, and the Necromental template just a little later in the same book suggests that there's at least something left behind when they die.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome Lurker, Fulminating Crab, Ironglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
I've been going over this showcase for the last couple of days for a bit of inspiration for a dread necro/anima mage combo build I'm working on themed around Acerak, and I noticed something about the build. Technically if you follow the reasoning that a summoned creature is a viable target for the necrocarnate ability, binding with malphas allows you to summon a raven/dove at will. A vestige phylactery can swap him out to one of the more optimal choices after you've gotten your full allotment of essentia.
I've been going over this showcase for the last couple of days for a bit of inspiration for a dread necro/anima mage combo build I'm working on themed around Acerak, and I noticed something about the build. Technically if you follow the reasoning that a summoned creature is a viable target for the necrocarnate ability, binding with malphas allows you to summon a raven/dove at will. A vestige phylactery can swap him out to one of the more optimal choices after you've gotten your full allotment of essentia.


Aye, that's a good catch! I keep forgetting about vestige phylacteries, even though I know they're one of the must-have items of this type.

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)

 

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.

So, there's a discussion that started elsewhere on this build that should be moving here shortly.
 
We've found an alternate way to order the classes that works much better - grab a Scion of Dantalion level before going into KoSS. it's a bit of a kluge, but it allows Ashardalon to be your patron vestige, which just feels right. This also allows a slight adjustment on the number of actual Binder levels.  I'll be making the modifications shortly.
 
The other disputed topics come from how Tenebrous' turning actually works, and I'll leave that  to Anagrosis and to Luna_Trigger.
 
My suggestion was to simply use a Shroudcrown. And that's where I rejoin the conversation.

Anagorisis wrote:

The shroudcrown runs 113,600 gp. That's rolling pretty deep, isn't it?

But you could have it all, rolling in the deep. Look how light on the equipment the build is - ability boosters and one or two incarnum focus items (which are expensive, but you're not buying weapons, which are more expensive) and that's about it. It can manage.

 

For others, though? Consider this. The Shroudcrown costs 113,600.

Continuous Hide from Undead spell (CL 10): Level 1 * CL 10 * 2000 continuous * 1.5 for its base duration = 30000. Remaining cost: 83600.

+2 Resistance on all saves vs undead: 4 (bonus squared) *1000 = 4000, with a 10% discount for it only work against one creature type: 3600. 

Turn Undead as 10th level cleric takes up the rest - 80,000. This is hard to dispute from simple decosting.

If you want to go further, hypothetically, if that followed any of the usual conventions for item creation (i.e. some base value * class level), Turn Undead as a 1st level cleric may cost just 8,000 gp.

(Compare to items that improve your turning level but only function if you already have turning, such as the Phylactery of Undead Turning (DMG), Scepter of the Netherworld (LM), etc - these tend to cost about 2000gp per +1 turning level, though there's quite a bit of variance (I've seen +3 for 9k and +1 for 750g.))

 

Now, I'm not doing this sort of thing myself - I have a character aiming for one of these for Death Devotion who isn't Ashardalon Reborn, and the DM and I both agree the item's a better fit for him as a whole than just as a Turn Undead battery. But in theory, it's not hard to obtain this.

 

Worse, how does the shroudcrown stack with turn undead from other sources? (This is the bizarre thing about turn undead: the turn undead rules are at their worst when you use turn undead as turn undead; when you use turn undead for ancillary functions (which require hits of turn undead use and don't care about the puissance or characteristics of standard turn undead employment), the rules become quite clean -- it's implied that pretty much everything just stacks right on up.)

The bigger question is: why would this ever come up? If all you're looking for is Turn Undead, it's probably because your class doesn't provide it (which is why, for instance, we occasionally see Cloistered Cleric dips in Swift Hunter builds - Turn Undead to fuel Travel Devotion and so on). Here, gold is much cheaper than a class level, so the two don't overlap.

 

This also gets around controversial arguments from, say, Plant Defiance or elemental domains stacking for turn attempt pools. Rather than monkeying around wih class imbalance, you just don a creepy crown that might be cursed.

 

You get 3+Cha turn attempts per day, and your only use of them is to recharge Death Devotion (which lasts for a minute - read, the entire combat, more or less) when you use it. The first use of Death Devotion is free. It costs 3 turn attempts to recharge it. You'll only need a +6 Charisma modifier to use it four times per day. This build gets that and then some, and I don't even believe I used tomes when I snapshotted it. Unless you're trying to keep Death Devotion online 24/7 (in which case you should probably rebuild as a soul eater or something), this should be enough.

 

 

 

 

 

In other news, if I'm using a shroudcrown, it replaces the need for a Tenebrous pact (and the arguments about it!), and leaves me open to pick a different vestige - I haven't decided on which, yet, would best compliment Ashardalon, Ipos, and Chupoclops, given the array of soulmelds also present. I'm open to suggestions, since it'll be a while before I can properly sit down and think about it. Ones that are coming to mind immediately are Dantalion (we're using his PrC anyway, and he's not a bad choice on his own, even though he doesn't synergize directly with the usual loadouts) and Focalor (for a second (but shorter range) Aura of Despair, a different debuff, and an at-will distance attack on par with a warlock as a fallback option), but I'm certain there are other higher-level vestiges to pick, and I haven't read the binder handbook in a long while.

 

 

EDIT: Also, Count's link above to the Midnight Occultist is incomplete; the full one is here. My overall reasoning (described above) is more or less unchanged. Some of the new Chakra Pact abilities are nice, however, which means the levelling up process is going to be a bit more dynamic until you get Ashardalon (who probably eats up both chakra pacts).

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)

 

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.

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:
So, there's a discussion that started elsewhere on this build that should be moving here shortly.

 

I agreed that the previous thread had become an inappropriate place to parse a narrow issue concerning vestige-granted turn undead; I disagree that the discussion belongs here and created a new thread. As for the other issues, I'm ambivalent as to placement, so without further ado:

 
Tempest_Stormwind wrote:
We've found an alternate way to order the classes that works much better - grab a Scion of Dantalion level before going into KoSS. it's a bit of a kluge, but it allows Ashardalon to be your patron vestige, which just feels right. This also allows a slight adjustment on the number of actual Binder levels.
 
Ditch Scion of Dantalion and one level of straight Binder, take Ardent, which, due to Bloodline levels, manifests greater than 1st level powers, take a 2nd level power, then enter Anima Mage. I sincerely doubt that a table untroubled by Bloodlines will be troubled by using the Anima Mage adaptation -- indeed, in person and on the web, I haven't seen anyone who's accepted Binder who didn't also accept that adaptation. Bloodlines are a heavier issue, understandably. In any event, this switch frees you from a terrible class -- I like mind-reading and telepathic abilities, but find Scion of Dantalion to be a nigh-worthless class, and locking in Dantalion is awful. And also, now you have at least two psionic powers.

 

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:
Look how light on the equipment the build is - ability boosters and one or two incarnum focus items (which are expensive, but you're not buying weapons, which are more expensive) and that's about it. It can manage.

 

It could buy other things. That doesn't mean that the build wouldn't be better off with Shroudcrown than "other things," but it could be. TBH, you've studied this build more than I have and I haven't had the time to think about a level-20 character for any reason for some time, so I'm willing to concede that there's nothing out there better than a Shroudcrown (though I'd like to know why not, if so, out of curiosity).

 

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:
The Shroudcrown costs 113,600.

Continuous Hide from Undead spell (CL 10): Level 1 * CL 10 * 2000 continuous * 1.5 for its base duration = 30000. Remaining cost: 83600.

+2 Resistance on all saves vs undead: 4 (bonus squared) *1000 = 4000, with a 10% discount for it only work against one creature type: 3600. 

 

Yeeeaaaaaah, but see, here's the thing: I don't give a rat's about those two abilities. That's me, personally. I could be actually tactically wrong about the worth of those two things (and, again, I'd like to know if I could be). As such, I'm loathe to buy them in any build.

 

Now Turn Undead as a cleric is worth some change, no doubt. I don't know that I'd like to use cash for that; cleric is ubar and shockingly flexible, so if I want turn undead, I'd much rather use a cleric build. And if I'm not using a cleric build, I use a binder build. I really never considered what I'd use if I weren't using binder or cleric because, well, binder can be splashed in. It's not that the cost of turn undead in an item is inappropriate -- it's a good deal -- it's that I'd rather eat some class levels and feats for this sort of thing. But with the odd way you have of looking at binder-based turn undead, I understand the necessity.

 

Anagorisis wrote:
Worse, how does the shroudcrown stack with turn undead from other sources? (This is the bizarre thing about turn undead: the turn undead rules are at their worst when you use turn undead as turn undead; when you use turn undead for ancillary functions (which require hits of turn undead use and don't care about the puissance or characteristics of standard turn undead employment), the rules become quite clean -- it's implied that pretty much everything just stacks right on up.)

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:
The bigger question is: why would this ever come up?

 

?????? . . . because you took levels of cleric and grabbed a shroudcrown. First thing I'd do if I was keen on getting one.

 

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:
If all you're looking for is Turn Undead, it's probably because your class doesn't provide it. . .

 

Nope, not what I and, I'd say at least a few others, would do. I'd grab a bunch of turn undead and a bunch of divine feats and have a blast using all kinds of wacky abilities that are usually underpowered and never seen. How turn undead pools work is still a problem for anyone trying to use more than one such feat, or some of the more poorly-written feats. To wit:

 

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:
You get 3+Cha turn attempts per day, and your only use of them is to recharge Death Devotion. . . this should be enough.

 

Which is spiffy for Death Devotion, but keep in mind I wasn't originally referring to Death Devotion (and I don't believe that was being discussed in the other thread). For other divine feats, or multiple ones, more juice is required or they're dead letter. I'm fine with, and glad that, shroudcrown works in this precise case, but it's hardly a panacea for the morass of turn undead issues in 3.5. Hell, it isn't even online until near when the game stupids itself out.


Tempest_Stormwind wrote:
In other news, if I'm using a shroudcrown, it replaces the need for a Tenebrous pact (and the arguments about it!), and leaves me open to pick a different vestige

 

Best reason to use a shroudcrown yet, though your vestige phylactery makes this a non-pressing decision. If you're doing the Ardent thing, Abysm is sitting right there. It isn't a powerhouse -- Focalor will actually help drop bodies -- but Astral Construct is Astral Construct. And to undermine my own point, you could just take Zceryll and win D&D. (Or both -- Summon Monster and Astral Construct -- but that's silly.) Eligor buffs Str and AC, which is pedestrian, but there you are. Marchosias is probably a big winner here: gaseous form at will. . . or would be if Chupoclops wasn't granting ethereal watcher which kinda overlaps there.

 

You're probably better off seeking flexibility. Karsus gives you a dispel effect which can be devastating, depending on what the DM tends to run, and effectively grants you perfect UMD for a large selection of magical items. That might be the strongest thing yet. (The Green Lady does the same thing, but that's, well, yeah. . .) Naberius grants nigh-at-will Suggest at this point, without the usual huge investment mind control builds require, and could be a good alternative to punching things. It complements, well, nothing, but that's the point: you're flexible. And capable of dangerous surprise.