Weekly Optimization Showcase: Feral Druid

22 posts / 0 new
Last post

I'd like to thank RadicalTaoist again for saving my bacon on this - he completed the parts of the writup I didn't have finished, and had it sitting in my inbox late Friday, but I was completely away from the internet until now.

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, you’re getting one of Andarious’ builds.
------------------


FERAL DRUID
Real Feral Taste. Zero Druid Calories.

Required Books: Complete Warrior, Tome of Battle. A few more books are suggested in the Variants section.
Unearthed Arcana used: None! (yep, another Andarious zero-variant low-source build. There is a UA suggestion in the variants, though.)



Background: Does not contain any actual Druid. The name comes from the fact that you fight like a savage shapeshifter… who uses Feral Death Blow with positively devastating accuracy by combining the ludicrous Strength boosts from a Bear Warrior with a nifty set of feat and maneuver selections to play up the theme along the way.



The Basics



  • Race: Half-Orc. Really, all you want is +Strength; you can almost certainly go templates / subraces and wind up with something better, but no one will look twice at an orc. 

  •  Ability Scores: 16/12/14/12/10/10 with 28 PB, BEFORE racial modifiers.. You’re a single-ability Strength guy, guess where your points are going. 


Skill Notes: Max out Jump and Concentration, and keep your Tumble up. The rest are governed by your Skill Tricks: Balance 12 and Tumble 12, for instance, unlock Back on Your Feet, Nimble Charge, Twisted Charge, and Nimble Stand. You can get all of this and still have a handful of starting skill points open for fleshing out concepts. Do boost Concentration when you can, as Moment of Perfect Mind shores up a critical weakness for you.


 Basic Equipment: Arm yourself like a standard barbarian, you won’t go wrong. Power Attack comes online a little late, but you can slot it in earlier if you want to play it from the lower levels. High threat weapons like falchions do outperform the classic greatsword, though.


 Magical Gear Goals: Wilding clasps, amulet of mighty fists, and enhancement bonuses for your Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Intelligence scores, plus the usual defensive item suite for AC and saves. A +5 tome of Strength is great; the other tomes, not so necessary. In short, it’s nothing too unusual: You look at it, you’ll see what it needs.


 


The Build.
Build Stub: Barbarian 1 / Warblade 11 / Bear Warrior 5 / Bloodclaw Master 3



1 – Barbarian – (Rage, Illiterate, Fast Movement) (Extra Rage)

*
You can put Power Attack here if you want as well, but Extra Rage early on is boss.

And while the Complete Cheeseball Pounce ability is strictly speaking better, this build isn’t as likely to get your DM crying. If you do swap it in, you know the drill already. The same general observation holds for Whirling Frenzy, but we’ve already seen how much Whirling Frenzy + Bear Warrior rocks, so we’ll skip it here.

2 – Warblade – (Battle Clarity, Weapon Aptitude, Not Illiterate) (Steel Wind, Wolf Fang Strike, Sudden Leap) (Blood in the Water)
*
Pretty classic savage opening, especially with Rage abilities present.

3 – Warblade – (Uncanny Dodge) (Extra Rage) (Moment of Perfect Mind)
*
You didn’t think a barbarian/warblade would exist without this, right?

As usual, be careful - you can't use this maneuver while raging. (You do get +2 Will while raging, which helps a bit, but that won't compare to Moment). Use Moment to block Will effects that come your way before hulking out.


As with level 1, you can move Power Attack here if you want, but having the freedom to rage in every encounter makes Rage feel almost like a stance. When you judge it on those merits, it looks amazing, particularly at this level. Similarly, at this level, your base attack bonus isn't quite high enough to Power Attack freely and still keep a good chance of hitting, so the delay isn't too severe.


4 – Warblade – (Battle Ardor) (Wall of Blades)

5 – Warblade – (Claw at the Moon > Wolf Fang Strike) (Leading the Charge)
*
Sometimes more damage up front is what you need. When you start to turn into a pouncing bear? That’ll be one of those times.

6 – Warblade – (Tiger Blooded, Power Attack) (Iron Heart Surge)
*
Again, you could move Power Attack earlier if you wanted. The early Rages mean you’ll be raging in every battle and still have a use to spare, and early on (before you have enough BAB to make PA rock) that probably makes a bigger difference.

Tiger Blooded’s DC is based off of your Strength, and that’s about to go sky high. Very useful feat to mix with your high movement speed.

7 – Warblade – (Improved Uncanny Dodge)
*
You COULD swap a maneuver out here, but we’re not interested in that quite yet. There are so many “fundamentals” in the low levels that it’s just not worth the upgrade here.

8 – Bear Warrior – (Bear Form: Black)
*
This is where that falchion starts to become less useful. The Strength increases are more than worth it though.

9 – Bear Warrior – (Multiattack)

10 – Bear Warrior – (Scent)
*
Nice not having to take Hunter’s Stance for this, eh?

11 – Bear Warrior
*
Normally BAB +11 and the third iterative attack is cause for celebration for most tank builds, but you use natural attacks. Oh Well.

12 – Bear Warrior – (Bear Form (Brown) (Blade Meditation: Tiger Claw)
*
While Improved Natural Attack is a better feat in general, Blade Meditation is underrated if you’re aiming for DC strikes. Many of Tiger Claw’s that have a DC also have an associated Jump check, so this is sort of like Ability Focus Plus. Especially when you add in the huge boost to Strength from Brown Bear Form.

13 – Bloodclaw Master – (Shifting 1/day, Claws of the Beast) (Dancing Mongoose)
*
That’s another +2 to strength that stacks with our rages. You may want to consider anger management therapy.

We also get Dancing Mongoose, so your bear-tiger can act imitate a third predatory animal if you feel like it.

14 – Bloodclaw Master – (Superior Two Weapon Fighting, Tiger Claw Synergy (Stance))
*
Tiger Claw Synergy’s speed boost is the big winner. With 50’ speed and Tiger Blooded, running down foes can be easy!

15 – Bloodclaw Master – (Pouncing Strike, Low-Light Vision, Shifting 2/day) (Reaping Talons) (Pouncing Charge)
*
And our pouncing bear is online. Remember Leading the Charge? I do.

The Reaping Talons feat turns you into a beast against large groups of opponents.

16 – Warblade – (Battle Cunning) (Swooping Dragon Strike)
*
We needed something a bit more potent than Claw at the Moon.

17 – Warblade – (Hamstring Attack > Claw at the Moon)
*
This is the pinnacle of your rundown capability. You’ve got a save DC in the high 30s on this maneuver, which combines very well with your movement speed and Tiger Blooded.

18 – Warblade – (Blind-Fight, Martial Study) (Adamantine Hurricane, Raging Mongoose)
*
This level showcases a huge boost in power against hidden opponents  and groups of opponents. Scent and Blind-Fight makes invisible opponents much more vulnerable, and the combination of Adamantine Hurricane and Raging Mongoose lets you hit one opponent four times and everyone else within reach twice (possibly triggering a few Reaping Talons maneuvers as well). Oh, make sure to ask your GM how Improved Grab works with Adamantine Hurricane.

19 – Warblade – (Diamond Defense > Steel Wind, Supreme Blade Parry)
*
A little bit of defense when you’re tearing hordes of enemies to shreds isn’t a bad idea. Plus you can now block Will effects even while raging, which is never a bad thing.

20 – Warblade – (Battle Skill) (Feral Death Blow)
*
You are a Tiger-Bear. Your Strength should be giving this maneuver a DC in the low 40s. To put this in context, read on.


Snapshot: In a calm state, using only the usual +6 items mentioned above and the +5 Strength tome, you’ve got 235 HP, +19 BAB, and saves of +19/+12/+6. Your normal stats come to 34/18/20/10/10/8. But let’s count those bonuses: +16 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, and +8 to Constitution while raging, plus another +2 to Strength while shifting. That puts your HP up to 315, and even gives you a handy +2 to will saves (a +24 Diamond Defense Will save or +31 Moment of Perfect Mind can really make a point to those pesky enchanters). You also go from +37 melee to +45 melee using nothing more than Greater Magic Fang – but there’s more than meets the eye here with your offense than raw damage (taking Blade Meditation over Improved Natural Attack should be the tipoff.).

Let’s take a look at your level 20 killing power more closely. Your Raging final Strength is 40, and you’ve picked up Blade Meditation for all those Strength-based Tiger Claw save DCs. There’s an 80% chance that your Feral Death Blow will kill the average CR 20.5 opponent outright upon connecting. For an idea of the range, it will kill Pit Fiends 95% of the time and KO the Tarrasque 10% of the time. That amulet of mighty fists will give you an attack bonus of +45 while raging and shifting. You’ll be hitting CR 20 opponents 95% of the time even with significant investment in Power Attack. Andarious ran the numbers for attack rolls and saving throws, and came up with a 76% kill rate for Feral Death Blow while raging and shifting at level 20. Yes, three out of every four CR 20 monsters will just die as soon as this character initiates that maneuver on them. Even without Feral Death Blow, your claws deal 2d6+30 damage (and your bite 2d6+20). Throw Raging Mongoose onto a full attack or Pouncing Charge, and that’s 6 claws and a bite. Power Attack for 5, and you’re averaging 248 damage in a single round against a CR 20 opponent. (That calculation takes into account a 95% hit rate and a 4.75% chance to critical. It does NOT take into account the possibility of Leading the Pouncing Charge, which makes things even meaner.) Your average CR 20 opponent has around 410 HP, so this isn't a trivial hunk of change.

Overall Strengths: Even without druid levels, you turn into a bear and freaking eat people. Any single opponent you focus on is virtually guaranteed to be dead by turn two. You’re highly mobile, and with Hamstring Attack and Tiger Blooded, you can make your opponents highly not. But you’re not just good at picking on loners. Improved Uncanny Dodge Reaping Talons and Adamantine Hurricane let you share the love with everybody who wants to try ganging up on a poor tiger-bear-mongoose thing.

Overall Weaknesses: Will saves, as always, are your feared weak spot. Keep Moment of Perfect Mind (and later, Diamond Defense) ready at all times, just in case. (Diamond is strictly better, even if you only consider Will saves: Moment won't work while raging, while Diamond will.) Your incredible movement speed and jump checks make you very mobile (you have to be, as a melee combatant), but consider investing in some consumables to protect yourself against kiting ranged attackers. A psionic tattoo of Dimension Slide can really save your bacon, as can an Eternal Wand with a bit of cleverness.

Variants:  The Whirling Frenzy variant rage from Unearthed Arcana is a possible alternative to the normal rage, as is the ferocity variant from Cityscape. If you don’t want to be a half-orc (or (water) orc), the Darfellans from Stormwrack and the Skarn from Magic of Incarnum are two possibilities, as both increase your Strength score. You can also shift the Warblade bonus feats around without too much trouble - oddly enough Run might work, since it further boosts your Jump check results (and thus the DCs of some of your strikes).


 


There you have it. Although it holds no actual druid, it strikes hard and kills at least as reliably as a typical Zilla.


 Next up: We're going to try something a little different.


I have four SETS of builds to upload.You're not voting on individual builds: You're voting on which COLLECTION of builds will go up next. (We'll pick the most interesting one of the winning set to start things off unless there's clear interest in one of them.)


Oh, and since there are four, you get two votes each.



  1. THE RUNNERS UP: [RT] Rusty!, [RT] the T3, and [SN] Handy. These are builds we've offered before but didn't get to showcase due to rotations. (Note that none of the guesses people have made so far about their names are accurate!)

  2. TONE IT DOWN: [TS] Lord of the Fallen, [AR] Heavy Weapons Elf, and [AR] Dreamblade. These are much simpler applications of tricks you've already seen in the showcase, aimed at getting past not just the "any sane DM" barrier but even some of the restrictive ones.

  3. SPIKES EVERYWHERE: [RT] #1 Snoipah, [Various] Deathblow, and [DH] Eat, Sleep, Gank. These are designed to be quick-killers, with style.

  4. SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: I'd tell you about this, but then it would spoil the surprise.


Feedback and votes ahoy! And sory for the delays.

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.

gotta see the construct loving. Group 1 for me.

==Aelryinth
Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
Personally, I'd play this with a Goliath.

First choice: the Monty Python set (...And now for something completely different).
Second choice: The Runners-up
"Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter." -Condoleezza Rice "My fellow Americans... I've just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes." - Ronald Reagan This user has been banned from you by the letters "O-R-C" and the numbers "2, 3, 4, and 6"
User Quotes
56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
"share the love with everybody who wants to try ganging up on a poor tiger-bear-mongoose thing." :p

That made me literally LOL, thanks for posting another of mine. To explain the similarities (if people didn't notice) between this and Captain Con, this build is basically Captain Con's daddy.

I made this after looking over some old threads, noticing how fantastic Bear Warrior was and thinking "how can I add Tiger Claw maneuvers to this?"

The biggest difference between this and Captain Con is a single driving factor. With a few VERY noteworthy exceptions (Tess for example), Tanking in D&D doesn't work like it does in an MMO. I used to tank as a Feral Druid in WoW (BC days), one thing I remember is the way I kept things attention. I dealt more damage than most of the other dudes, and was right in the bad guys face.

Captain Con was built more as a "solo artist" this was designed to work in a group as the primary melee.  If this guy moves into a fight targets the nearest and or badest looking dude and opens up with turning into a bear, taking a single move action and using Feral Death Blow to turn the guy into a fine mist... you get the picture. "Do I have your attention yet?!" is the sort of line I see this guy having show up in clear inner monologue bubble.
AWESOME build.


I vote for: "And now for something completely different"   

HAND OF KARSUS!

 

 

In a fight where people are ganging up on the poor bear/tiger/mongoose thing, I see the red mist happening, and then one of my favorite Magic cards getting played. My friends and I called it Once More... With **** You!.
"Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter." -Condoleezza Rice "My fellow Americans... I've just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes." - Ronald Reagan This user has been banned from you by the letters "O-R-C" and the numbers "2, 3, 4, and 6"
User Quotes
56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
A bear is the best way to bring out your inner WAAGH! Nice build.

My frist vote is for the runners up, second vote for now for something different. 
gotta see the construct loving. Group 1 for me.

 Oddly, there is a construct there, but it isn't the T3. "T3" here is a modified acronym.
Personally, I'd play this with a Goliath. First choice: the Monty Python set (...And now for something completely different). Second choice: The Runners-up

Goliaths are a great choice here, provided you can buy off the LA. They weren't included because as written, it's a two-book build, and those books are a bit sparse on +STR races.
A bear is the best way to bring out your inner WAAGH! Nice build. 

Indeed, Bear Warrior is a positively amazing class. This build, and Captain Constitution, both use its obscene ability score boosts to fuel DCs, though, which is something I don't recall seeing done all that often.

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.

Tone it down and Spikes everywhere for me.
Cool.

Group 2 sounds like a nice idea (CO boards too often just assume that, say, Master Spellthief works the way which gives me a CL30, rather than the way which makes most sense). That said, I can't resist the idea of Group 4. 
Just keeping a tally


  1. THE RUNNERS UP: 3 votes

  2. TONE IT DOWN: 2 votes

  3. SPIKES EVERYWHERE: 1 vote

  4. SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: 4 votes


Still time to vote, folks!
Regarding the Runners Up, it occurs to me that I forgot the status of a couple of our builds and should, instead, have left out [SN] Handy, instead replacing it with [AR] Evasion Tank.

That group's in second place, but it'll matter for when it does show up. 

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 like your style, AR.

And in the spirit of Bear kinship, I offer this build's little brother, the Fire Kung-Fu Bear.
FKFB

Barbarian 2/Swordsage 7/Bear Warrior 1 (level 10)

1 Extra Rage
2B Combat Expertise (Wolf Totem ACF from UA)
3S Improved Unarmed Strike (Unarmed Swordsage variant)
3 Improved Trip
6 Power Attack
9 (for instance) Snap Kick

Swordsage maneuvers: emphasis on Setting Sun and Desert Wind
At later levels, Tiger Claw would evidently be more present, like in the OP.

I haven't tested it (yet), but the result is a bear who throws people around and kills them with fiery punches.
I like the mental picture of the bear using Searing Charge, for instance. Sue me.

For the levels 11-20 you can go more for more BW, more maneuvers or a mix of the two.

(Note: somebody may have come up with this before me. I've never checked all the builds in the ToB compendium.)

I do realize that was slightly off-topic , but the build did not see much discussion anyway.

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
I appreciate the compliment. You seem to have a similar take on rulings and optimization to myself from your reponses to peoples requests for help. The bear with Searing Charge as well as Burning Brand makes me chuckle. I'd be very inclined to make it a single Barbarian level and 5 Bear Warrior levels, OR to take 2/ and 2 and 2 War Shaper perhaps.
Barb 2 is to get Improved Trip even with a low point-buy campaign and to get the build inline earlier (at level 3 Mighty Throw where you throw then an attack is pretty good, and you have Burning Blade already). In a campaign with high point-buy and flaws it should definitely be dropped.

Warshaper 2 is indeed very tasty for this build.

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
A small objection I forgot: Moment of Perfect Mind arguably can't be used while Raging, since it's based on the Concentration skill. Diamond Defense works like a charm, though. And for a more defensive build, subbing in Endurance + Steadfast Determination (the former can be taken as a Warblade bonus feat) would shore up Will significantly.

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
Recently a varient on this came up. This is one of the few builds that would really benefit (most of the time) from Vow of Poverty. Get Sacred vow early (by 6) and Vow of Poverty sometime at or after 12.

I'd like to thank RadicalTaoist again for saving my bacon on this - he completed the parts of the writup I didn't have finished, and had it sitting in my inbox late Friday, but I was completely away from the internet until now.

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, you’re getting one of Andarious’ builds.
------------------


FERAL DRUID
Real Feral Taste. Zero Druid Calories.

Required Books: Complete Warrior, Tome of Battle. A few more books are suggested in the Variants section.
Unearthed Arcana used: None! (yep, another Andarious zero-variant low-source build. There is a UA suggestion in the variants, though.)



Background: Does not contain any actual Druid. The name comes from the fact that you fight like a savage shapeshifter… who uses Feral Death Blow with positively devastating accuracy by combining the ludicrous Strength boosts from a Bear Warrior with a nifty set of feat and maneuver selections to play up the theme along the way.



The Basics



  • Race: Half-Orc. Really, all you want is +Strength; you can almost certainly go templates / subraces and wind up with something better, but no one will look twice at an orc. 

  •  Ability Scores: 16/12/14/12/10/10 with 28 PB, BEFORE racial modifiers.. You’re a single-ability Strength guy, guess where your points are going. 


Skill Notes: Max out Jump and Concentration, and keep your Tumble up. The rest are governed by your Skill Tricks: Balance 12 and Tumble 12, for instance, unlock Back on Your Feet, Nimble Charge, Twisted Charge, and Nimble Stand. You can get all of this and still have a handful of starting skill points open for fleshing out concepts. Do boost Concentration when you can, as Moment of Perfect Mind shores up a critical weakness for you.


 Basic Equipment: Arm yourself like a standard barbarian, you won’t go wrong. Power Attack comes online a little late, but you can slot it in earlier if you want to play it from the lower levels. High threat weapons like falchions do outperform the classic greatsword, though.


 Magical Gear Goals: Wilding clasps, amulet of mighty fists, and enhancement bonuses for your Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Intelligence scores, plus the usual defensive item suite for AC and saves. A +5 tome of Strength is great; the other tomes, not so necessary. In short, it’s nothing too unusual: You look at it, you’ll see what it needs.


 


The Build.
Build Stub: Barbarian 1 / Warblade 11 / Bear Warrior 5 / Bloodclaw Master 3



1 – Barbarian – (Rage, Illiterate, Fast Movement) (Extra Rage)

*
You can put Power Attack here if you want as well, but Extra Rage early on is boss.

And while the Complete Cheeseball Pounce ability is strictly speaking better, this build isn’t as likely to get your DM crying. If you do swap it in, you know the drill already. The same general observation holds for Whirling Frenzy, but we’ve already seen how much Whirling Frenzy + Bear Warrior rocks, so we’ll skip it here.

2 – Warblade – (Battle Clarity, Weapon Aptitude, Not Illiterate) (Steel Wind, Wolf Fang Strike, Sudden Leap) (Blood in the Water)
*
Pretty classic savage opening, especially with Rage abilities present.

3 – Warblade – (Uncanny Dodge) (Extra Rage) (Moment of Perfect Mind)
*
You didn’t think a barbarian/warblade would exist without this, right?

As usual, be careful - you can't use this maneuver while raging. (You do get +2 Will while raging, which helps a bit, but that won't compare to Moment). Use Moment to block Will effects that come your way before hulking out.


As with level 1, you can move Power Attack here if you want, but having the freedom to rage in every encounter makes Rage feel almost like a stance. When you judge it on those merits, it looks amazing, particularly at this level. Similarly, at this level, your base attack bonus isn't quite high enough to Power Attack freely and still keep a good chance of hitting, so the delay isn't too severe.


4 – Warblade – (Battle Ardor) (Wall of Blades)

5 – Warblade – (Claw at the Moon > Wolf Fang Strike) (Leading the Charge)
*
Sometimes more damage up front is what you need. When you start to turn into a pouncing bear? That’ll be one of those times.

6 – Warblade – (Tiger Blooded, Power Attack) (Iron Heart Surge)
*
Again, you could move Power Attack earlier if you wanted. The early Rages mean you’ll be raging in every battle and still have a use to spare, and early on (before you have enough BAB to make PA rock) that probably makes a bigger difference.

Tiger Blooded’s DC is based off of your Strength, and that’s about to go sky high. Very useful feat to mix with your high movement speed.

7 – Warblade – (Improved Uncanny Dodge)
*
You COULD swap a maneuver out here, but we’re not interested in that quite yet. There are so many “fundamentals” in the low levels that it’s just not worth the upgrade here.

8 – Bear Warrior – (Bear Form: Black)
*
This is where that falchion starts to become less useful. The Strength increases are more than worth it though.

9 – Bear Warrior – (Multiattack)

10 – Bear Warrior – (Scent)
*
Nice not having to take Hunter’s Stance for this, eh?

11 – Bear Warrior
*
Normally BAB +11 and the third iterative attack is cause for celebration for most tank builds, but you use natural attacks. Oh Well.

12 – Bear Warrior – (Bear Form (Brown) (Blade Meditation: Tiger Claw)
*
While Improved Natural Attack is a better feat in general, Blade Meditation is underrated if you’re aiming for DC strikes. Many of Tiger Claw’s that have a DC also have an associated Jump check, so this is sort of like Ability Focus Plus. Especially when you add in the huge boost to Strength from Brown Bear Form.

13 – Bloodclaw Master – (Shifting 1/day, Claws of the Beast) (Dancing Mongoose)
*
That’s another +2 to strength that stacks with our rages. You may want to consider anger management therapy.

We also get Dancing Mongoose, so your bear-tiger can act imitate a third predatory animal if you feel like it.

14 – Bloodclaw Master – (Superior Two Weapon Fighting, Tiger Claw Synergy (Stance))
*
Tiger Claw Synergy’s speed boost is the big winner. With 50’ speed and Tiger Blooded, running down foes can be easy!

15 – Bloodclaw Master – (Pouncing Strike, Low-Light Vision, Shifting 2/day) (Reaping Talons) (Pouncing Charge)
*
And our pouncing bear is online. Remember Leading the Charge? I do.

The Reaping Talons feat turns you into a beast against large groups of opponents.

16 – Warblade – (Battle Cunning) (Swooping Dragon Strike)
*
We needed something a bit more potent than Claw at the Moon.

17 – Warblade – (Hamstring Attack > Claw at the Moon)
*
This is the pinnacle of your rundown capability. You’ve got a save DC in the high 30s on this maneuver, which combines very well with your movement speed and Tiger Blooded.

18 – Warblade – (Blind-Fight, Martial Study) (Adamantine Hurricane, Raging Mongoose)
*
This level showcases a huge boost in power against hidden opponents  and groups of opponents. Scent and Blind-Fight makes invisible opponents much more vulnerable, and the combination of Adamantine Hurricane and Raging Mongoose lets you hit one opponent four times and everyone else within reach twice (possibly triggering a few Reaping Talons maneuvers as well). Oh, make sure to ask your GM how Improved Grab works with Adamantine Hurricane.

19 – Warblade – (Diamond Defense > Steel Wind, Supreme Blade Parry)
*
A little bit of defense when you’re tearing hordes of enemies to shreds isn’t a bad idea. Plus you can now block Will effects even while raging, which is never a bad thing.

20 – Warblade – (Battle Skill) (Feral Death Blow)
*
You are a Tiger-Bear. Your Strength should be giving this maneuver a DC in the low 40s. To put this in context, read on.


Snapshot: In a calm state, using only the usual +6 items mentioned above and the +5 Strength tome, you’ve got 235 HP, +19 BAB, and saves of +19/+12/+6. Your normal stats come to 34/18/20/10/10/8. But let’s count those bonuses: +16 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, and +8 to Constitution while raging, plus another +2 to Strength while shifting. That puts your HP up to 315, and even gives you a handy +2 to will saves (a +24 Diamond Defense Will save or +31 Moment of Perfect Mind can really make a point to those pesky enchanters). You also go from +37 melee to +45 melee using nothing more than Greater Magic Fang – but there’s more than meets the eye here with your offense than raw damage (taking Blade Meditation over Improved Natural Attack should be the tipoff.).

Let’s take a look at your level 20 killing power more closely. Your Raging final Strength is 40, and you’ve picked up Blade Meditation for all those Strength-based Tiger Claw save DCs. There’s an 80% chance that your Feral Death Blow will kill the average CR 20.5 opponent outright upon connecting. For an idea of the range, it will kill Pit Fiends 95% of the time and KO the Tarrasque 10% of the time. That amulet of mighty fists will give you an attack bonus of +45 while raging and shifting. You’ll be hitting CR 20 opponents 95% of the time even with significant investment in Power Attack. Andarious ran the numbers for attack rolls and saving throws, and came up with a 76% kill rate for Feral Death Blow while raging and shifting at level 20. Yes, three out of every four CR 20 monsters will just die as soon as this character initiates that maneuver on them. Even without Feral Death Blow, your claws deal 2d6+30 damage (and your bite 2d6+20). Throw Raging Mongoose onto a full attack or Pouncing Charge, and that’s 6 claws and a bite. Power Attack for 5, and you’re averaging 248 damage in a single round against a CR 20 opponent. (That calculation takes into account a 95% hit rate and a 4.75% chance to critical. It does NOT take into account the possibility of Leading the Pouncing Charge, which makes things even meaner.) Your average CR 20 opponent has around 410 HP, so this isn't a trivial hunk of change.

Overall Strengths: Even without druid levels, you turn into a bear and freaking eat people. Any single opponent you focus on is virtually guaranteed to be dead by turn two. You’re highly mobile, and with Hamstring Attack and Tiger Blooded, you can make your opponents highly not. But you’re not just good at picking on loners. Improved Uncanny Dodge Reaping Talons and Adamantine Hurricane let you share the love with everybody who wants to try ganging up on a poor tiger-bear-mongoose thing.

Overall Weaknesses: Will saves, as always, are your feared weak spot. Keep Moment of Perfect Mind (and later, Diamond Defense) ready at all times, just in case. (Diamond is strictly better, even if you only consider Will saves: Moment won't work while raging, while Diamond will.) Your incredible movement speed and jump checks make you very mobile (you have to be, as a melee combatant), but consider investing in some consumables to protect yourself against kiting ranged attackers. A psionic tattoo of Dimension Slide can really save your bacon, as can an Eternal Wand with a bit of cleverness.

Variants:  The Whirling Frenzy variant rage from Unearthed Arcana is a possible alternative to the normal rage, as is the ferocity variant from Cityscape. If you don’t want to be a half-orc, the Darfellans from Stormwrack and the Skarn from Magic of Incarnum are two good possibilities, as both increase your Strength score. 


 


There you have it. Although it holds no actual druid, it strikes hard and kills at least as reliably as a typical Zilla.


 Next up: We're going to try something a little different.


I have four SETS of builds to upload.You're not voting on individual builds: You're voting on which COLLECTION of builds will go up next. (We'll pick the most interesting one of the winning set to start things off unless there's clear interest in one of them.)


Oh, and since there are four, you get two votes each.



  1. THE RUNNERS UP: [RT] Rusty!, [RT] the T3, and [SN] Handy. These are builds we've offered before but didn't get to showcase due to rotations. (Note that none of the guesses people have made so far about their names are accurate!)

  2. TONE IT DOWN: [TS] Lord of the Fallen, [AR] Heavy Weapons Elf, and [AR] Dreamblade. These are much simpler applications of tricks you've already seen in the showcase, aimed at getting past not just the "any sane DM" barrier but even some of the restrictive ones.

  3. SPIKES EVERYWHERE: [RT] #1 Snoipah, [Various] Deathblow, and [DH] Eat, Sleep, Gank. These are designed to be quick-killers, with style.

  4. SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: I'd tell you about this, but then it would spoil the surprise.


Feedback and votes ahoy! And sory for the delays.


One Question. From what I can see, this character doesn't meet the prereqs for ninth level maneuvers as he only has 14 levels in warblade/bloodclaw and 17 are needed for 9th level maneuvers like feral death blow. Could someone explain how this works please?
All non-martial adept levels count as .5 for calculating your intiator level so it can because 14 levels of of warblade/bloodclaw gives I level of 14 and the 6 other levels gives 3 levels, which means the total intiator level is 17 thus qualifying for the 9th level maneuvers
I am currently building a Bear warrior and I am basing my core on this build, since my own build is a bit "crap" as Cyclone_Joker has told me repeatedly in this topic: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...(Bear_warrior)?pg=1&sdb=1&num=20
I have one question though. 

I fail to see how the Tiger blooded feat is great at hunting down fleeing foes. It seems most of all a wasted feat to me, but experince tells me, that I am probably overlooking something. Can someone please explain how knocking back enemies (on your own turn even) is helping you hunt them down? It would make sense if you somehow were able to stop their movement as an immidiate action on their turn, but that doesn't seem to be the case. What is the trick I am missing here?
I fail to see how the Tiger blooded feat is great at hunting down fleeing foes. It seems most of all a wasted feat to me, but experince tells me, that I am probably overlooking something. Can someone please explain how knocking back enemies (on your own turn even) is helping you hunt them down? It would make sense if you somehow were able to stop their movement as an immidiate action on their turn, but that doesn't seem to be the case. What is the trick I am missing here?

Did we ever say Tiger Blooded helps with your hunt-down capability? No, we didn't. We did say it was linked to your Strength modifier (which is about to go sky-high when you get it), and that it combines with effects like Hamstring Attack to play with your opponent's mobility (remember that there are three directions which count as "back" from you, that several Tiger Claw jump strikes play with your position (it's not specified when Tiger Blooded resolves relative to the strike connecting, which can produce some odd results when combined with, say, Swooping Dragon Strike - trigger it after landing and a different set of directions count as "away", and trigger it while above the target and you can basically push them in any direction, including, possibly, down (DM's purview on what happens; some might say no, others might say "collision damage", and others might simply say "prone")) and any time you can play with opponent positions with ease is time that they can't plan their movement as freely. 

All that said, it's one of the less valuable parts of the build (I personally wouldn't have taken it - it'd be more interesting if it scaled the distance somehow but remained a save-based effect) and can be replaced if you like. The reasoning, as I recall, was that it was another way to apply your Strength in battle without costing an action. If that doesn't appeal to you, there's enough alternatives listed under the Variants to consider. (One oddball choice that didn't get put in there was Mad Foam Rager. Without any real gear optimization, your kill rates are damn good, but the toughest targets may still survive to fight back for one round. MFR means that so will you.)

The "hunt down" references are largely due to the ability to move (at a boosted speed) and retain combat ability (through strikes combined with ludicrous Strength - read through what your maneuvers actually do, and plug in the numbers for your Strength modifier at whatever level you'd like, and you'll see what I mean). This is without any real gear optimization as well - we tend to leave that out of the picture when evaluating things. This is what we call a single-ability-dependent (SAD) build, in that we try to get as many things as possible to key off of Strength and as high a Strength as possible; I suspect that's why Andarious picked Tiger Blooded in the first place. (As the note at the top of the post says, though, I didn't write this summary - RT did.



Speaking of numbers, just for interest's sake: The majority of Strength-based effects in the game are opposed checks, not DCs. If you want to have an impact, its in your best interests to get as many DCs instead of opposed ability checks as possible. An opposed Strength check, like in a bull rush, puts you largely on even footing with someone your own size (it's a test of Strength vs Strength; conditional modifiers like the Improved [Combat technique] feats can swing this), controlling for gear. Assuming a foe of equal size and level, you have a 50% chance of success, +5% per point of difference between your Strength mod and theirs. Again, Strength is one of those things enemies can increase quite easily. 

Meanwhile, compare how your typical Strength-based DC effect goes - the usual DC formula is 10+half level+Str. The formula for a good saving throw (here, Fortitude) is 2+(half level)+Con, while a poor saving throw (here, Will) is 0+(one-third level)+Wis. First, you've switched to a different ability score, and it's usually much easier to get Strength up there than it is to get another score up there (Rage, size increases, and so on, plus temporary buffs occasionally go much higher for Strength than for other scores - we use Strength of My Enemy a lot, for instance). Second, before you consider gear/temporary buffs, the base DC is already higher than the base saving throw, assuming equal levels. This gives a basline chance of success of 90%, plus 5% per point of difference between your Strength and their defensive ability modifier. This means the defender needs a temporary or gear-based bonus of 8+whatever the difference between your Strength and their Con/Dex/Wis mods is to make it an even 50-50 chance of success or failure. Your goal is to get that difference as high as possible, and it helps to have that head start. (However, it's far easier to boost a saving throw modifier than it is to boost the DC, so it'll take less effort for them to get up there. Which is why the rare Str-based DCs and +2-to-DC feats are here.)

Obviously this is grossly simplified (for one, it ignores the saving throw boost from multiclassing, and doesn't really control for the cost of the gear (bonuses to saving throws and bonuses to ability scores are priced very differently) or the prevalence of buffs), but it's a zeroth-order place to start from if you're relatively new to the numbers game.

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 fail to see how the Tiger blooded feat is great at hunting down fleeing foes. It seems most of all a wasted feat to me, but experince tells me, that I am probably overlooking something. Can someone please explain how knocking back enemies (on your own turn even) is helping you hunt them down? It would make sense if you somehow were able to stop their movement as an immidiate action on their turn, but that doesn't seem to be the case. What is the trick I am missing here?

Did we ever say Tiger Blooded helps with your hunt-down capability? No, we didn't. We did say it was linked to your Strength modifier (which is about to go sky-high when you get it), and that it combines with effects like Hamstring Attack to play with your opponent's mobility (remember that there are three directions which count as "back" from you, that several Tiger Claw jump strikes play with your position (it's not specified when Tiger Blooded resolves relative to the strike connecting, which can produce some odd results when combined with, say, Swooping Dragon Strike - trigger it after landing and a different set of directions count as "away", and trigger it while above the target and you can basically push them in any direction, including, possibly, down (DM's purview on what happens; some might say no, others might say "collision damage", and others might simply say "prone")) and any time you can play with opponent positions with ease is time that they can't plan their movement as freely. 

All that said, it's one of the less valuable parts of the build (I personally wouldn't have taken it - it'd be more interesting if it scaled the distance somehow but remained a save-based effect) and can be replaced if you like. The reasoning, as I recall, was that it was another way to apply your Strength in battle without costing an action. If that doesn't appeal to you, there's enough alternatives listed under the Variants to consider. (One oddball choice that didn't get put in there was Mad Foam Rager. Without any real gear optimization, your kill rates are damn good, but the toughest targets may still survive to fight back for one round. MFR means that so will you.)

The "hunt down" references are largely due to the ability to move (at a boosted speed) and retain combat ability (through strikes combined with ludicrous Strength - read through what your maneuvers actually do, and plug in the numbers for your Strength modifier at whatever level you'd like, and you'll see what I mean). This is without any real gear optimization as well - we tend to leave that out of the picture when evaluating things. This is what we call a single-ability-dependent (SAD) build, in that we try to get as many things as possible to key off of Strength and as high a Strength as possible; I suspect that's why Andarious picked Tiger Blooded in the first place. (As the note at the top of the post says, though, I didn't write this summary - RT did.



Speaking of numbers, just for interest's sake: The majority of Strength-based effects in the game are opposed checks, not DCs. If you want to have an impact, its in your best interests to get as many DCs instead of opposed ability checks as possible. An opposed Strength check, like in a bull rush, puts you largely on even footing with someone your own size (it's a test of Strength vs Strength; conditional modifiers like the Improved [Combat technique] feats can swing this), controlling for gear. Assuming a foe of equal size and level, you have a 50% chance of success, +5% per point of difference between your Strength mod and theirs. Again, Strength is one of those things enemies can increase quite easily. 

Meanwhile, compare how your typical Strength-based DC effect goes - the usual DC formula is 10+half level+Str. The formula for a good saving throw (here, Fortitude) is 2+(half level)+Con, while a poor saving throw (here, Will) is 0+(one-third level)+Wis. First, you've switched to a different ability score, and it's usually much easier to get Strength up there than it is to get another score up there (Rage, size increases, and so on, plus temporary buffs occasionally go much higher for Strength than for other scores - we use Strength of My Enemy a lot, for instance). Second, before you consider gear/temporary buffs, the base DC is already higher than the base saving throw, assuming equal levels. This gives a basline chance of success of 90%, plus 5% per point of difference between your Strength and their defensive ability modifier. This means the defender needs a temporary or gear-based bonus of 8+whatever the difference between your Strength and their Con/Dex/Wis mods is to make it an even 50-50 chance of success or failure. Your goal is to get that difference as high as possible, and it helps to have that head start. (However, it's far easier to boost a saving throw modifier than it is to boost the DC, so it'll take less effort for them to get up there. Which is why the rare Str-based DCs and +2-to-DC feats are here.)

Obviously this is grossly simplified (for one, it ignores the saving throw boost from multiclassing, and doesn't really control for the cost of the gear (bonuses to saving throws and bonuses to ability scores are priced very differently) or the prevalence of buffs), but it's a zeroth-order place to start from if you're relatively new to the numbers game.



Thanks alot! I think I'll go Endurance (Warblade feat) and steadfast determination though on on level 6. I've been given a flaw feat I'll use on Power attack and then progress like this build (but picking "hearing the air" instead of Supreme blade parry at level 19).