Weekly Optimization Showcase: Nuker

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As usual for the showcase, these builds are intended to spur discussion and perhaps inspire a few people in the spirit of the old CO boards. They come from members of my gaming group - me, Radical Taoist, DisposableHero_, Andarious, Sionnis, and Seishi - and I'll always identify who wrote the build at the start, so do not assume I'm the guy behind all of them (because I'm not!).

Unless otherwise noted, showcase builds use 28 point-buy, and have their snapshots evaluated using fractional base attack / saves (because it simplifies the math). None of them actually rely on fractional to be built, though. The format I use showcases their progression at key levels rather than just presenting the build and showing off a few tricks at level 20; most of these are capable of being played 1-20 if you so choose.

With that out of the way, let's get started. This week, another Andarious build hits the showcase. I’d also like to thank the Radical Taoist for help in expediting this writeup in time for the deadline.

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NUKER
I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down!

Required Books:Complete Arcane, Complete Mage, Complete Adventurer for the build. Books for wizard spells are to taste (probably at least the Spell Compendium though).
Unearthed Arcana used: We’re too straightforward for Unearthed Arcana this week.


Background: You’ve all heard it a zillion times before: Direct damage sucks, especially after, oh, around level 5-6 or so. Around that time, if not sooner, you should switch to save-or-lose spells or action-denying battlefield control effects, and leave dealing direct damage to melee (which starts to really come online around this time as well).

BOLLOCKS TO THAT WE’RE TRYING IT ANYWAY!

Kill it with fire, nuke the site from orbit, order three pounds of six-siders and roll them all. One could say this is almost “style over substance”, where  ‘style’ refers to a playstyle rather than appearances or feel, but just like the Storm Knight and the Wizsassin, we aren’t sacrificing as much on the substance as you’d think. Just like most ‘optimization’ efforts respect the limits of the request, this is an effort to provide an optimized mage for someone who just wants to watch the world burn.

We have a couple alternative approaches to this that work out totally differently and have more math to support them, and they suggest that the Nuker might not be the most optimal blaster we could showcase… but the Nuker has another serious advantage over all of them. The build is deceptively simple (well, as simple as a wizard primary gets, really), and it’s hard to shut it down as long as you’ve got all the required books. It even uses Warmage – finally, an effective build to use warmage, although not in the way you think – which has some appeal.

But wait, I can hear you thinking, what about the Mailman? We’ve seen it, it’s a good build – and if you haven’t, the one-sentence version is that it uses bonus actions plus no-save effects to make delivering damage reliable. However, it relies, pretty strongly, on generating extra actions, particularly at the higher levels. While this is brutally effective (like anything that monkeys with the action economy), spells that grant bonus actions are far more likely to be banned or otherwise regulated, especially by experienced DMs, entirely because they can blow the game wide open. The Nuker is an alternative take on this – perhaps less effective at rapid spike damage than the Mailman, but with dramatically improved flexibility and less vulnerability to the banhammer. It also takes a different approach to saving throws – rather than focusing on no-save effects (though it has those too), it amps its spell DCs and works to exploit energy vulnerabilities where possible.

Be advised, there’s only so much you can do with damage at the lower levels. This build is pretty weak from 3 to 7 or so – exactly when normal direct-damage blasters are usually most effective. If you’re playing at this range, nearly any blasty-blasty build will probably be better. At levels above 7, this rapidly outperforms them. Thus, you can probably use it to teach new players (especially those who are still married to the concept of blasting after creating their first sorcerer or similar) about playing more sophisticated mages than magic missile gatling guns.

The Basics


 



  • Race: Grey Elf. The +2 Intelligence at LA+0 from a core book (MM) is too sweet to pass up here; any similar race might also do the trick. If you want an interesting variant, an Illumian armed with the Naenkrau power word might be an interesting approach, but it does add another book to the list.

  • Ability Scores: 6/14/14/16/10/14 before racial adjustments (-2 Con, +2 Int). You’re pumping Intelligence at every level – your warmage casting is secondary, and we’re mostly interested in the slots rather than the actual spells(and don’t actually need the really high level warmage spells anyway; the heavy lifting is done by 1st-5th, even on the wizard side!), so you can afford a middle-ground on Charisma.  Don’t hose Dexterity if you can help it; a lot of the best blasting spells are ray spells.



Skill Notes:
You’re a wizard, spend the points accordingly. Concentration, Spellcraft, and Knowledge (Arcana) are good starting points, but you’ve got plenty of Intelligence (and over 80 unspent skill points) to pick up an assortment of other skills along the way.

Basic Equipment:Again, you’re a wizard. You’ve already got your spellbook and component pouch? Then you’re probably set.

Magical Gear Goals:Max out Intelligence like a boss – tome, headband, you know the drill. You’ll probably want a boosted Constitution as well, like all elf wizards usually do.It doesn’t particularly matter here; most of what we’re using warmage for is backup or fuel anyway. Your warmage side is oddly not used offensively as a primary mode of attack – rather, it augments the wizard side and supplements it when you wish to preserve your more potent spell slots. Think of your warmage casting, in a sense, as a swordsage would think of his default melee attack, except slightly less synergistic. If you find yourself casting as a warmage – especially early on – investing in +Charisma for increased DCs is a good thing; this becomes less important as you gain levels.

Other than this, go for the usual wizard gear. The only “must-have” that isn’t an ability score booster is the orange ioun stone, though metamagic rods, blessed books, and rings of wizardry are always appreciated (go geometric scaling!).

The Build.
Build Stub: Evoker 3 / Warmage 2 / Ultimate Magus 10 / Master Specialist 3 / Archmage 2.

1 – Evoker – (Familiar, Ban: Illusion, Enchantment)(Scribe Scroll, Still Spell)
*
Wizard casting: 1st level (CL 1).

Messing with minds is for less manly elves than you (i.e. all of them).

…All joking aside, the loss of Illusion does hurt, but without shadowcraft, their best spells at the higher levels are mind-affecting, as is most of Enchantment, which means a lot of foes are immune. They are the most expendable schools here.

Your familiar is probably the rat or the raven in a core environment, or the thrush (Dragon 349, grants an incredible +4 Initiative) if there are no restrictions on books. The little guy isn’t going to show up all that often, so pick him for a passive benefit.

Still Spell isn’t all that hot at the low levels; it was picked as an emergency failsafe for later levels. Any metamagic feat for which you qualify can be used here.

2 – Evoker – N/A
*
Wizard casting: 2nd level (CL 2)

3 – Warmage – (Armored Mage (light), Warmage Edge) (Practiced Spellcaster: Warmage)
*
Wizard casting: 2nd level (CL 2). Warmage casting: 1st level (CL 3).

This is the classic way of getting Ultimate Magus to behave appropriately. Sadly, despite your massive Intelligence, warmage edge only applies to the warmage spells – which are only likely to be used in a primary offensive fashion for the next couple of levels.

4 – Evoker – N/A
*
Wizard casting: 3rd level (CL 3). Warmage casting: 1st level (CL 4).

5 – Warmage – ()
*
Wizard casting: 3rd level (CL 3). Warmage casting: 2nd level (CL 5)

6 – Ultimate Magus – (Arcane Spell Power +1) (Spell Focus: Evocation)
*
Wizard casting: 4th level (CL 5). Warmage casting: 2nd level (CL 7).

7 – Ultimate Magus – (Expanded Spell Knowledge: 1st)
*
Wizard casting: 5th level (CL 6). Warmage casting: 3rd level (CL 8).

You’re not under any specific pressure for 1st level spells; the choice is up to you.

8 – Ultimate Magus – (Augmented Casting)
*
Wizard casting: 6th level (CL 7). Warmage casting: 4th level (CL 9)

Here’s where the build’s main trick comes online – Augmented Casting, employed similarly to the way the Wizsassin used it: you tap spell slots on your secondary class to apply metamagic efficiently to your primary class. The Wizsassin used it to do things with assassin-only spells that could never be done before, while the Nuker uses his plentiful warmage slots to basically get Divine Metamagic for his wizard size. And if there’s one thing that ultimate magi do really well, it’s metamagic.

It’s limited by class level, so we race to complete Ultimate Magus. Note that you can’t use this on really high level spells, so you’re looking for really good 1st-5th-level wizard spells to use it. Spells higher than that have to pull their own weight, but your boosted caster level helps with that. (Your warmage caster level comes along for the ride and caps out pretty high as well, so surprisingly, your low-level warmage spells can sometimes remain useful for conserving wizard slots as well as for powering their metamagic.)

9 – Ultimate Magus – (Arcane Spell Power +2, Expanded Spell Knowledge: 2nd) (Spell Focus: Necromancy)
*
Wizard casting: 7th (CL 9). Warmage casting: 4th (CL 10).

The Spell Focus is in Necromancy for drain effects, particularly Enervation which is online now, or powerful debuffs at later levels. A passable second choice is Conjuration (Stinking Cloud, Sleet Storm, Cloudkill, etc). Again, Expanded Spell Knowledge is pretty much a free choice; I’d suggest looking for SR: No or no-save spells to transfer over.

10 – Ultimate Magus – (Maximize Spell)
*
Wizard casting: 8th (CL 10). Warmage casting: 5th (CL 11).

LogicNinja summed it up perfectly:
Empower is better for smaller dice (1.5*1d4 = 3.5 on average, just 0.5 less than the maximized 4), Maximize for larger dice (1.5*1d10 = 8 on average, 2 less than the maximized 10). Note that even for larger dice, the extra spell level increase may well not be worth it.

Usually, the extra spell level cost for Maximize tips the scales in favor of Empower. Here, since we’re getting metamagic on the cheap thanks to warmage spell slots + Augmented Casting, Maximize has less of a drawback (and is protected against the odd effect like Damp Power). This puts Maximize slightly ahead of Empower except on a few critical spells (i.e. the energy-drain necromancy spells), we think, so Maximize goes in.

11 – Ultimate Magus – (Expanded Spell Knowledge: 3rd)
*
Wizard casting: 9th (CL 11). Warmage casting: 6th (CL 12).

Andarious recommends picking up Moonbow and Greater Fireburst for spike and AoE damage at this point, and I’d be inclined to agree that they’re excellent choices. Again, there isn’t a specific selection for your warmage Expanded Spell Knowledge here.

12 – Ultimate Magus – (Arcane Spell Power +3) (Extraordinary Spell Aim)
*
Wizard casting: 10th (CL 13). Warmage casting: 6th (CL 13).

Rule One of military intelligence: Friendly fire, isn’t. Strictly speaking you can swap Extraordinary Spell Aim for more nuke-friendly metamagic, but I think your allies will appreciate you killing the enemies rather than your friends.

13 – Ultimate Magus – (Expanded Spell Knowledge: 4th)
*
Wizard casting: 11th (CL 14). Warmage casting: 7th (CL 14).

Once again, you’re pretty much free on Expanded Spell Knowledge.For your wizard side, you’ve got access to Chain Lightning, Disintegrate, or Freezing Sphere, which look spiffy when you cheaply metamagic them.

14 – Ultimate Magus – (Twin Spell)
*
Wizard casting: 12th (CL 15). Warmage casting: 8th (CL 15).

15 – Ultimate Magus – (Arcane Spell Power +4, Expanded Spell Knowledge: 5th)(Split Ray)
*
Wizard casting: 13th (CL 17). Warmage casting: 9th (CL 17).

Prismatic Spray, Delayed Blast Fireball, Waves of Exhaustion, and Radiant Assault are fun spells when your caster level is this high. Your Intelligence at this point puts your DCs at 19+spell level (+1 for Evocation and either Necromancy or Conjuration), which is more than adequate.

16 – Master Specialist – (Skill Focus: Spellcraft)
*
Wizard casting: 14th (CL 18). Warmage casting: 9th (CL 17).\

Let’s hear it for bonus feats helping meet deadweight feat costs!

17 – Archmage – (Spell Power)
*
Wizard Casting: 15th (CL 20). Warmage casting: 9th (CL 18).

Oddly, losing the 5th level slot here hurts a lot more here than it normally would, since Augmented Casting only applies to 5th and lower spells, and there’s a lot of good 5th blast effects.

18 – Archmage – (Mastery of Elements) (Practiced Spellcaster: Wizard)
*
Wizard casting: 16th (CL 23). Warmage casting: 9th (CL 18).

Your wizard casting level is only 2 behind your HD, so you don’t get the full Practiced Spellcaster benefit here, but even then it’s hard to find a better feat. (The illumian version above gets this benefit for free, so it can choose any feat here.)


19 – Master Specialist – (Expanded Spellbook)
*
Wizard casting: 17th (CL 24). Warmage casting: 9th (CL 18).

9th level spells are online at last, and at insane caster level to boot.

Expanded Spellbook is a free choice. It’s also a worthless class feature as near as I can tell, saving you around a few hundred gold even after errata. (If it operated like Extra Spell, it’d be much more interesting.)

20 – Master Specialist – (Greater Spell Focus: Evocation)
*
Wizard casting: 18th (CL 24). Warmage casting: 9th (CL 18).



Snapshot: Adding the +6 items on Int, Con, and Dex, a +5 tome of Intelligence, and an orange ioun stone (+1 caster level), we get the following result at 20:

HP 133, base attack +10 (ranged touch +15), saves of +9/+10/+19 (your familiar may modify these), and enough skill points to max out six skills (and nearly max a seventh). With a final effective Intelligence of 34, you have 5/8/8/8/8/6/7/6/5/4 spell slots with a DC of 22+spell level (+2 for Evocation, +1 for Necromancy); most of your heavy lifting is done by your DC 27 5th level spells boosted with cheap metamagic from Augmented Casting + warmage slots. These take effect at caster level 25, sufficient to breach the SR 32 on many high-level outsiders 75% of the time; while most of your 5ths hit CL caps, your higher level spells do not benefit from cheap metamagic, and need the boosted CL to hit their caps as well. Your warmage half has 6/7/7/6/4 spell slots at a DC of 12+CL (+2 evocation, which is most of the list); most of the good spells you’ll actually cast from here have no saving throw but a high CL (19), and they benefit from a +12 Warmage Edge. If you wish to cast from this side, invest in a cloak of charisma to increase its stamina. Note that Rings of Wizardry would apply to both sets of spells, so they become highly desirable items.

None of this assumes any of your wizard slots are spent on divination buffs. You’re usually too busy calling down the thunder to worry about buffs – the build’s designed to be as close to ‘ideal’ as we can get while still playing the way a blasty-blasty player expects. As such, it falls behind what the Mailman can do, especially if you’re only looking at a single round, but has increased stamina and cheap metamagic (plus a backup set of spontaneous slots) to avoid the usual wizard limit. The wizard casting is strong enough to include most of the Tier One “showing off” wizard stunts if you feel the need to do this, since it hits 9th and includes the full set of Conjuration, Abjuration, and Transmutation spells at a very high CL (and some of the metamagics you’d want to use on these spells are still in the build!), so if you’re facing challenges that are tough enough that you find your blasting playstyle just can’t keep up, it’s a seamless transition to a stronger casting type (as simple as getting new spells in the spellbook and filling the slots differently).

Overall Strengths: Incredible blasting efficiency, and because of it, incredible blasting capacity. Your "weaker" Warmage spells will drop with a CL of 18 before you buy an Ioun Stone. You'll beat the common SR of 26 95% of the time (2 or higher), and a more average CR 20 SR of 32 75% of the time, using your meaty wizard casting. That's assuming you bother with spells that allow SR at all, which you do not need to do with access to the Warmage list on top of what you learn as a Wizard. But more than anything, what you own with is efficiency over time. You have tons of low-to-mid level spell slots, and can combine them with the most efficient metamagic feat combinations for great blasting value on your spell slot and better stamina than your average wizard. Outlasting the ten-minute workday isn't your only asset to the team; you can prevent friendly fire with Extraordinary Spell Aim, so your tank never needs to fear your destructive AoEspells. You get fantastic flexibility with the wide array of warmage+wizard casting, with Mastery of Elements on top to get around any troublesome resistances. All these factors in combination with your SR piercing means less spell slots wasted on enemy defenses, and fewer actions wasted due to tactical issues like positioning. Moreover, those actions will count - a twinned maximized Scorching Ray doesn't tickle, especially when it's adjusted to an energy type to which your target is vulnerable, and you can spit those out practically all day long.

Oh, and it manages this with wizard primary casting, and gets up to an effective 18th level in that class, with most of the good schools intact. If you take on a mission where blasting just won’t help, or if you just want to try something out, you can easily do that – most of the feat and Ultimate Magus infrastructure will still apply, and the warmage casting makes sure you always have some (albeit low level) blasting available at a high CL.

Overall Weaknesses:The Nuker suffers from typical squishy wizard weaknesses, and doesn't have any special capability with defensive buffs. You'll want Rings of the Diamond Mind to shore up those sorry Fortitude and Reflex saves, and the usual array of miss-chance buffs (Improved Blink (transmutation) and Shadow Phase (conjuration) come to mind) to avoid archers or skirmishers. Your rejection of the Illusion school denies you a lot of defensive Wizard tricks (Silent Image, Displacement, Greater Mirror Image, Greater Invisibility), so be careful. While you can bring the hurt, obscenely-high HP monsters will take time for you to whittle down - you don't have the feats or resources to play games with the action economy and do more in fewer rounds. Enemies with godly Touch AC and saves can be a pain - you'll want to Forcecage + Acid Fog them right away. In general, the skirmisher archetype is this build's worst enemy: a good Swift Ambusher build with the Acrobatic Backstab trick could work this guy over quick, possibly in a single round if not a single attack. Invest in detection spells – and remember that contingency is actually Evocation.

Variants: As mentioned above, the multiclass spellcaster approach lends itself really well to Illumians, particularly Naenkrau illumians. Krau alone gives a free +2 Practiced Spellcaster on both casting classes gets the CLs slightly higher and frees up your 18th level feat – a fun (but cheesy) choice involves using Extra Spell to learn Disintegrate off the Adept (DMG) list, where it appears as a 4th level spell (and thus a valid companion to your Augmented Casting – say hello to twin/split Disintegrates for 20d6 if the target makes four successful DC 29 saves, with +35d6 added per failed save). Naenkrau makes this even sweeter: By leaving a 4th level warmage spell slot open (not a hard thing to do here), you add another +1 to the DC of all your 4th level wizard spells. You can do the same thing for another lower level of spells, or give up one of your higher-level wizard slots for +1 to the DC of all other spells of that level. (You can apply this to the 5th level spells as well if you devote one level of Archmage casting to the warmage as well; you won't lose much on the wizard side by doing this!) However, these benefits cost you two points of Intelligence (so the Naenkrau advantage is nowhere near as good as it seems, though the Krau advantage is nice), and it adds another book to the equation.

Alternatively, if you like the elf but you would like a technical wizard who keeps a bit more of that versatility, quit being a specialist. Go Elven Generalist (RotW) instead, for both of the possible substitution levels you can take. That's another spell slot, and doubles your familiar bonus – the Thrush recommendation above translates into a +8 Initiative boost that stacks with your Nerveskitters and related effects. This forces you to drop Master Specialist, and while we’re at it, drop the Extraordinary Spell Aim feat as well. In their place, take two more levels of Archmage and one of Loremaster (yes, really, bear with us). Two more of Archmage gives you Mastery of Shaping (making Extraordinary Spell Aim unnecessary) and Arcane Reach (giving us backup offensive options in the form of Touch of Idiocy, Vampiric Touch, and Greater Plane Shift). That one level of Loremaster, thanks to your amazing Int, can pick up the Applicable Knowledge secret. That's a free bonus feat, any one you qualify for, that can be taken as late in the build as you could want. The feat freed up from Extraordinary Spell Aim will have to go towards Skill Focus: Spellcraft, you can grab all sorts of cool options with the latter feat. I would suggest Transdimensional Spell, but I'm a jerk who likes to take an Ethereal Jaunt and then blast enemies from a different dimension. That's just me; Energy Gestalt, Arcane Thesis, Residual Magic, Fell Drain, and Repeat Spell are all good options.




There you have it. The other wizards laughed at you when you said you’d go with blasting. Funny how smoking piles of charcoal don’t laugh.

Next up: I kind of had to crunch to churn this out in time for Friday, so for next week, we'll concentrate only on builds that I've already written up: the three from last week. We've got Andarious' melee Heavy Crusader, my ranged (and sligtly theoretical) Gun Fu, and my intended-for-DMs-but-wow villain, the Dread Lord of the Dead. Go ahead and let me know which looks most interesting below!

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 looks...

And I'm (again) voting for the Heavy Crusader. 
"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"
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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'm probably not looking closely enough but is there any reason Beguiler couldn't, and maybe even shouldn't, be used instead of Warmage?  If you're just using the slots to boost Wizard spells either class could work but where your spell focus feats would still boost the Warmage spells the Beguiler class would actually cover a lot of those low level Illusions and Enchantments that you're giving up with the Evoker.
Ooh, very nice. I've been wanting to have a go at a blaster build for a while now; sure, it's not great, and warmages especially aren't great, but it looks like Ultimate Magus fixes everything.
Ultimate Magus may not "fix" everything but it certainly IS an extremely useful class if you can get it's entry requirements and it's even better when you can (ab)use the Practiced Spellcaster "trick" to put all the casting advances into one class.

I'm not sure just how far this build is from getting access to Wild Mage but Wild Magic (+1d6-3 CL increase) can combine with Practiced Spellcaster and the UM's Arcane Spell Power to throw out spells with CL 27 (or more?) at 20th level.  That would be the base 18 in Wizard spellcasting +2 from Practiced Spellcaster +3 Wild Magic +4 ASP while the minimum would give you -2 from Wild Magic but then you'd get +4 from Practiced Spellcaster.  The spontaneous side will get all the bonuses/penalties.
Awesome build Tempest!  Looks like UM is a rather useful Swiss Army knife of a class.  A very useful item for this build would be the Drake Helm from Explorers' Handbook from the Eberron series.  What does it do?  Gives a Spontainious caster up to 4 additional spells known, as long as they are arcane, even if the spells in question are on other class lists like bard, assassin, etc..  While the Helm spells cannot be used to create magical items, they are treated as if were on your class list, so wands, scrolls, etc. with the spell on it can be used by you as you could UMD the items with your spells on them.  Not only can you use any arcane spell, but you can use feats or class features (like Geomancer Spell Versatility, or Alternate Source metamagic from Dragon Magazine) to change divine spells into arcane, and thus use them too.  In addition, while Wizard has prohibited spell schools, Warmage (or any spon. class used in a variant of this build) is not under the same restictions Laughing.

Edit: My vote is for Dread Lord, with a second place vote for Gun Fu.
I've seen some debate about whether or not a UM can give a prepared spell to the spontaneous caster when the spell isn't on the spontaneous caster's list.  Generally speaking I don't see a lot of problem with it but it has been debated.

The specialist Wizard may have prohibited schools which prevents him from using certain items for a Warmage to use those items he'd still need access to the appropriate spell.  I'll need to review how this works but if a specialist wizard couldn't use a Wand of Invisibility then a Warmage will not be able to use it either because Invisibility is not on its spell list (I believe). 
I'm probably not looking closely enough but is there any reason Beguiler couldn't, and maybe even shouldn't, be used instead of Warmage?  If you're just using the slots to boost Wizard spells either class could work but where your spell focus feats would still boost the Warmage spells the Beguiler class would actually cover a lot of those low level Illusions and Enchantments that you're giving up with the Evoker.



We didn't consider beguiler, but if you're going for a more versatile build and still want to specialize, this works quite well. You can also use this same trick with any of the specialty arcane casters (beguiler, warmage, dread necromancer) and tune your specialization choice and corresponding feats to match, keeping only the general class structure the same, but at that point we're delving into standard Ultimate Magus territory and further from the idea of "blast blast blast wheeee!".

Awesome build Tempest!


This is Andarious' build, not mine - I merely do the writeups (and even then, this time, most of the writeup came from the Radical Taoist, because I was crunched for time). Don't thank me, thank them!
Looks like UM is a rather useful Swiss Army knife of a class.  A very useful item for this build would be the Drake Helm from Explorers' Handbook from the Eberron series.  What does it do?  Gives a Spontainious caster up to 4 additional spells known, as long as they are arcane, even if the spells in question are on other class lists like bard, assassin, etc..  While the Helm spells cannot be used to create magical items, they are treated as if were on your class list, so wands, scrolls, etc. with the spell on it can be used by you as you could UMD the items with your spells on them.  Not only can you use any arcane spell, but you can use feats or class features (like Geomancer Spell Versatility, or Alternate Source metamagic from Dragon Magazine) to change divine spells into arcane, and thus use them too.  In addition, while Wizard has prohibited spell schools, Warmage (or any spon. class used in a variant of this build) is not under the same restictions Laughing.


This would actually be useless to you, since the warmage casting isn't used on its own at all (most of the time). You have pitiful save DCs for it and no real ability to cast high-level warmage spells. I'm also not sure "it could be arcane for this one guy some of the time" (Spell Versatility, Alternative Spell Source, etc) is enough to get a spell to qualify as generically arcane for the Drake Helm.

We did have a build showcased - another of Andarious', actually - that can and does benefit gloriously from the Drake Helm, because (unlike this one) it uses the spontaneous side of the UM casting as its primary. Check out the Wizsassin.

The specialist Wizard may have prohibited schools which prevents him from using certain items for a Warmage to use those items he'd still need access to the appropriate spell.  I'll need to review how this works but if a specialist wizard couldn't use a Wand of Invisibility then a Warmage will not be able to use it either because Invisibility is not on its spell list (I believe). 


You're right for a specialist: the only way for a specialist wizard to access the entire sorcerer/wizard spell list through magic items (barring UMD) is to take a level of sorcerer. This is actually described in Tome and Blood as a "good idea" and a "sneaky trick", showing the level of system mastery in that book's authorship to be surprisingly low.

Basically, specialization effectively deletes those schools from the sorcerer/wizard list as far as the specialist is concerned. They can still activate wands from that school if they have the corresponding spell on another one of their class lists (i.e. if they've multiclassed to a caster who has the spell on their list), though they would be limited to activating it as the other class. For instance, a specialist evoker / sorcerer using a staff with enchantment spells in it would probably be using his sorcerer casting parameters (CL, Charisma, etc) for it rather than his wizard parameters. 

And, just like rogues, any member of any class could use Use Magic Device to trigger the item anyway, even if the spell isn't on any of their class lists.

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.

Not only can you use any arcane spell, but you can use feats or class features (like Geomancer Spell Versatility, or Alternate Source metamagic from Dragon Magazine) to change divine spells into arcane, and thus use them too.


I'm not sure that, by RAW, Geomancer actually lets you cast divine spells as arcane (or vice versa), though I can see a DM allowing it. So, I guess, if you can make it fly, great.
I'm not going to say a lot on this build In fact I'll put it in point form.

We HAD acutally considered Beguiler and went with Warmage because it fit theme and get the +Int to damage on its own list. Warmage casting is just there to feed UM's metamagic, and to provide longevity when casting versus a single target (ray and orb spells are easy to splatter single targets with).

This build's NOT super powerful, it wasn't meant to be. It was meant to nuke the crap out of things in a way that was viable in most party's. Few DM's would argue (THAT'S TOO BROKEN!) and few players would argue (TOO WEAK, WE'LL ALL DIE!). If your game swings one way or the other, it's simple don't play this build. This is probably a strong T3, very specialized and good at what it does, but a bit limited for a caster.

Regarding UMD... it's a class skill for Ultimate Magus, and this build has Int coming out the wazoo. If you can't get max ranks in UMD by 20... I don't even. There's your versatility right there if you really want it.

Thanks for all the feedback, and happy gaming! 
Interesting build. I have a few remarks, but many of them are tied to the use of UM rather than the actual work done by your crew.

0) Why not enter UM as a Wizard 4/Warmage 1 ? That gives more advanced wizard casting till level 9.

1) checking the level-by-level build helped me remember why I've never played a UM.
 One has to wait until level 10 to benefit from the class. Before that, it plays like a Theurge (ok, with one less CL lost).
At level 10, you can Maximize a 3-ray Scorching Ray cast from a Warmage slot, using a Wizard slot to power the metamagic. 3x24 dmg is certainly good, and you can do it 5 times/day.
From level 11 on, you can Maximize spells cast from Wizard slots (which all spells with DCs will have to be).

2) the number of uses of Augmented Casting is a little low at intermediate levels: 6 at level 11. I think Residual Magic has real value for this build (and for all other metamagic builds IMO). I know you mention it at the end, but I want to emphasize this point.
I'd take it at level 9, I think.

3) An important note is that one cannot use Augmented Casting on an already metamagicked spell*. That makes me question the need for both Twin and Split Ray. They're separate options, useful for versatility, rather than ones that add sheer power.
I haven't gone through a list of all metamagic feats though, so I can't mention one right away that I'd introduce.

* Metamagic rods or Residual Magic could be used to circumvent that possibility, depending on the order in which abilities are resolved. But rods beyond Lesser are expensive.

4) The Archmage's Mastery of Elements is fantastic. But I'm not sure it's quite worth using all those feats in lower levels. I guess it's still the best option here, because the restriction from 3) prevents us from using something as simple as Energy Substitution.

5) Overall I wonder how it compares to a more straightforward blaster using Arcane Thesis and metamagic reducers. I'll set the "class that starts with I" aside because it's in a world of its own; and since I'll use Wizard it'll look fairly different from the Mailman.
(some dragonblooded race) Wizard 15
(You could be e.g. a Dragonborn Grey Elf.)
1 Empower Spell 
3 Energy Substitution: Acid
(5) Spontaneous Divination
6 Practical Metamagic: Empower
9 Arcane Thesis: Fireball (or Scorching Ray) (can be retrained to up to a 5th level spell at any point)
10 Maximize Spell
12 Residual Magic
15 Practical Metamagic: Maximize

I threw together in 5min, so I know it's not very good. I just wanted to try and have something comparable.

= We don't have enough feats to get the key combo of Arcane Thesis + Practical Metamagic + Residual Magic before level 12.
But we can already Empower our Rays at level 6 and our Fireballs at level 7.
(For the record I don't believe AT + a 0-level adjustment feat gets you a -1 adjustment. Energy Substitution is there to deal with fire-resistant creatures.)

= Empower at level 6+ is still a +1 adjustment, but since we get higher-level slots than the Nuker we can assume we use those for metamagicked spells.

+ More than one metamagic can be applied to 1 spell for more boom. Residual Magic stretches our resources by a lot.

- There's definitely less flexibility in which spells one can metamagic and how one can do so on the fly. The DCs are lower. The CLs are lower from level 12 on.

(Too-quick) conclusion:  After level 15 this build will undoubtedly lose to the Nuker. Before level 10 I prefer my build. Levels 10-15 both have some merit.

OoP's characters
My current character in Real Adventures Play-by-Post games:

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
I was going to try some sort of Born-of-Three-Thunders-esq metamagic abuse to push direct-damage spells up into high numbers. I seem to recall the Stormcaster (I think - it's from Stormwrack) adds a point or two of sonic to lightning spells, which I was hoping to (ab)use to get sonic on spells which in turn could allow other metamagics or something, hadn't really thought that out.

I think it's a bit of a mistake to compare a direct-damage caster with a disabler or battlefield-control type. Firstly, if such a caster is something like a Wizard, it can always pack utility spells too. Secondly, it operates more like an archer, and should probably be compared with archery or melee builds for output. There's no reason why a party can't tote an illusionist AND an evoker or suchlike.
Since most of my games run in the tier 3-4 range, the particular concept really caught my attention (as an opponent for the PCs).

My question is about the familiar feature.  Are there any alternate class features that would trade out the familar for something else useful?  Energy Afinity (Ex) from Unearthed Arcana trades out the familiar for an additional caster lever to spells of a selected energy type.  Does this help or hinder the execution of this concept?
The problem is that a lot of damaging spells are capped, and you get diminishing returns on the +1 as you level. I suppose it doesn't hurt, though. It does count against spell resistance (though no-SR spells are good) and all the other variables, which is nice. It's only one damage type, mind, so against creatures with energy resistance, it's a bit useless.
A game in the 3-4 range, though, won't run into any of those caps - even the smallest appears at level 5. Likewise, you won't run into any of the advanced stunts here: low-level optimization is weird because you have so few resources to play with. (It's still fun, but a different beast than supplying a 20-level build.)

A straight-up warmage might work quite well in those levels, and that bypasses the familiar problem altogether. 

Here's a list of alternative class features if you choose to stick to wizard or employ a sorcerer.

Personally, the most powerful low-level death-dealer I can think of is still an evoker: A level 1 human evoker with Metamagic School Focus (Evocation) and Fell Drain. It's possible to apply Fell Drain to a Sonic Snap cantrip this way, which gives everything you cast it on a negative level, no save. The third-level flaws approach adds in Snowcasting and Flash Frost Spell, which lets you apply Fell Drain to a damaging Detect Magic as a doom gaze effect. 

I've seen a similar approach for sorcerers: Precocious Apprentice (Scorching Ray) + Firey Burst with a race picked to maximize Charisma gives you all-day-long AoE blasting, and as long as you learned Burning Hands, you can keep going (albeit slightly weaker) even after letting loose a boss-killing Scorching Ray. This loses a lot of oomph later on (since it basically gives you level 4 blasting at level 1, but that loses its lustre as your level approaches 4...), but it's a nifty low-level trick that lets you play warlock when it matters while still building towards a spellcaster.


EDIT: As StevenO points out, I misread "tier" as "level". Oops.

There isn't a particular selection I'd make to replace your familiar. (In fact, the elf generalist variant is strongly suggested to keep it.) Picking one for fluff would do the trick. If there's one I'm not aware of that alters metamagic costs, that's the best choice for you by far.

If you want selections to knock the wizard out of tier one and two, I'd suggest anything that restricts what schools he can access. Focused Specialist comes to mind as a good choice here. 

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.

A game in the 3-4 range, though, won't run into any of those caps - even the smallest appears at level 5. Likewise, you won't run into any of the advanced stunts here: low-level optimization is weird because you have so few resources to play with. (It's still fun, but a different beast than supplying a 20-level build.)

Tempest, I think he was refering to a game that primarily uses the "weaker" classes as opposed to one running around with optimized Cleric , Druid, and Wizard.  Note "tier" 3-4 and not "level" 3-4 although at lower levels the lower tiered character aren't nearly as noticable.


A game in the 3-4 range, though, won't run into any of those caps - even the smallest appears at level 5. Likewise, you won't run into any of the advanced stunts here: low-level optimization is weird because you have so few resources to play with. (It's still fun, but a different beast than supplying a 20-level build.)

Tempest, I think he was refering to a game that primarily uses the "weaker" classes as opposed to one running around with optimized Cleric , Druid, and Wizard.  Note "tier" 3-4 and not "level" 3-4 although at lower levels the lower tiered character aren't nearly as noticable.




Oops. Misread "tier" as "level". Thanks for the catch.

I've edited in some suggestions. 

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.

Good thoughts, everyone.  Thanks, again, for this idea.  I will definitely be checking in regularly for more ideas.
NOTE: The Elf Wizard3 substitution level doubles the bonus of certain aspects, but not initiative.  +4 initiative is still good, though!

And smile!  Jesus loves you!
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