3.5e Dervish Bard

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Hello all!

It's fair to say that things are decidedly slow at my house at the moment, so in order to entertain myself I've decided to build DnD characters. Who knows, maybe one day some of them will see action. It's also fair to say that I'm a pretty inexperienced character builder, so I come begging you guys for your assistance with my first build.

I'm using 3.5e rules as those are the ones I've always played with. I've decided to begin with a bard - my first attempt at building a character for DnD was a bard and he was rubbish, so I'm taking another stab at it. I found a pretty neat looking Sublime Chord caster bard on the internets, but I've decided I want to build someone who's more of a scrapper and inspirer of courage. The Dervish prestige class caught my eye, so I'm vaguely considering something like: Human with 5 levels in Bard, 5 levels in Fighter and 10 levels in Dervish. Meeting the required pre-requisites for Dervish has been a difficulty, as there are a number of bardic music feats that I want to use (Song of the Heart, Words of Creation, Lingering Song, Snowflake Wardance, Melodic Casting, Song of the White Raven, Doomspeak and Dragonfire Inspiration (along with Draconic Heritage or Dragontouched, or whatever) and Weapon Finesse (possibly) have all taken my eye), hence the levels in fighter. This means that my Inspire Courage bonus takes rather a hit, which is a problem, as it's kinda central to the build. I've found the Chaos Music feat and the Vest of Legends, which I believe raises the Inspire Courage boosts to +3, as if there were 14 levels in Bard - is that correct? This all seems somewhat messy, so I'm wondering whether there are any better ways to do this, with fewer levels in Fighter? Would you consider it a feasible model in the first place?

Also, does Dragonfire Inspiration provide bonus dice when the bard themself deals damage, or does it only go to allies? That was the whole point of me looking at the Dervish prestige class, really.

Apart from the Inspirational Boost spell and the Dragonfire Inspiration (sonic)/Creaking Cacophony combo, what other things would you suggest for this character?

Thanks for any help, guys, I hope my efforts aren't too comical!
have a look at Tome of Battle and more Specifically the feat Song of the White Raven. It allows for pretty well the PERFECT scrapper Bard build if you just take a few (2-6) Bard levels up front and top up with Warblade (more scrapper) or Crusader (with the right feats this can be scrapper but it's more a tank to start with).

You get full inspire courage this way and arguably more mobility in combat than a Dervish ever has, at both earlier and later levels. Dervish as written is kind of a trap, it looks really cool but costs a lot of feats for very little benefit as most of the strong combat abilities are limited in per day uses far too much. 
Hello all!

It's fair to say that things are decidedly slow at my house at the moment, so in order to entertain myself I've decided to build DnD characters. Who knows, maybe one day some of them will see action. It's also fair to say that I'm a pretty inexperienced character builder, so I come begging you guys for your assistance with my first build.

I'm using 3.5e rules as those are the ones I've always played with. I've decided to begin with a bard - my first attempt at building a character for DnD was a bard and he was rubbish, so I'm taking another stab at it. I found a pretty neat looking Sublime Chord caster bard on the internets, but I've decided I want to build someone who's more of a scrapper and inspirer of courage. The Dervish prestige class caught my eye, so I'm vaguely considering something like: Human with 5 levels in Bard, 5 levels in Fighter and 10 levels in Dervish. Meeting the required pre-requisites for Dervish has been a difficulty, as there are a number of bardic music feats that I want to use (Song of the Heart, Words of Creation, Lingering Song, Snowflake Wardance, Melodic Casting, Song of the White Raven, Doomspeak and Dragonfire Inspiration (along with Draconic Heritage or Dragontouched, or whatever) and Weapon Finesse (possibly) have all taken my eye), hence the levels in fighter. This means that my Inspire Courage bonus takes rather a hit, which is a problem, as it's kinda central to the build. I've found the Chaos Music feat and the Vest of Legends, which I believe raises the Inspire Courage boosts to +3, as if there were 14 levels in Bard - is that correct? This all seems somewhat messy, so I'm wondering whether there are any better ways to do this, with fewer levels in Fighter? Would you consider it a feasible model in the first place?



Three addenda over Andarious' suggestions.

First, if you can, use Silverbrow Human (Races of the Dragon). It trades the human's bonus skill point for the Dragonblood subtype without needing to burn a feat on it, and it retains the human bonus feat. (Sadly, you still need a feat to switch to sonic, but this might help with feat timing.) 

Second, there's the Badge of Valor (MIC, it's in the Regalia of the Hero set and it's dirt cheap), which is a 3/day +1 to your Inspire effects. It can be triggered after you start singing and it modifies the existing effect, so it can be used with the Inspirational Boost spell without too much trouble. Add in the Vest of Legends and things get sick real fast. (In fact, see the Party Optimization Showcase in my sig; the team is pooling resources at level 8 for a vest for our own bard/crusader. You can get your team to subsidize it - it's far cheaper than upgrading everyone's weapons if they split the costs between them.)

Third, I know you're probably packed up to your eyes with options and need help narrowing them down, but the "quintessential" combat bard class is the War Chanter (CW). Full base attack, full music progression, interesting extra songs (especially late, but you can afford to skip them if you're focusing on wardance), and critically, the ability to sing two songs at once at 5th level. You can do something similar to this with Lingering Song or a harmonizing sword (MIC); it's inferior, but if you can't squeeze in war chanter you might want this.



Also, does Dragonfire Inspiration provide bonus dice when the bard themself deals damage, or does it only go to allies? That was the whole point of me looking at the Dervish prestige class, really.

Apart from the Inspirational Boost spell and the Dragonfire Inspiration (sonic)/Creaking Cacophony combo, what other things would you suggest for this character?

Thanks for any help, guys, I hope my efforts aren't too comical!

 
Dragonfire Inspiration is identical to Inspire Courage in all ways except that it replaces the attack and damage bonus with bonus damage dice, so it hits your allies as well as the bard (since the bard can inspire himself).

Look into double-singing: The attack bonus from a normal Inspire Courage + the bonus damage from Dragonfire Inspiration can be downright insane.

If you have a lot of actual bard levels, consider the Crystal Echoblade (MIC) as your base weapon. It works with the wardance and adds more sonic damage to your attacks, which works quite well if you're trying Creaking Cacophony.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Well, that's some excellent advice, as always - thanks guys! I knew there must be a better way than that bard/fighter/dervish plan. The Warblade looks very tasty indeed to me - those White Raven manuevers and stances look especially fun, so I'm eager to make the most of them. I'm also keen to get my base attack bonus as high as possible and get as many attack rolls into each turn as possible, so I want to get as many Warblade levels in as I can. Nice though it looks, it seems unlikely that I'll be able to fit War Chanter in, especially since the Bard doesn't get hold of third level spells (such as Creaking Cacophony) until level 7. So is there a way to get hold of the spell without having to take seven levels in Bard? If not, would (possibly Silverbrow) Human Bard 7/Warblade 13 be considered the optimal model for what I'm trying to do?

I shall indeed be wanting to find a way of doubling up my bardic musics - this is probably the most attractive feature of War Chanter for me, as it seems that most of the other benefits can be apporximated one way or another by the Warblade. Level 2 Seeker of the Song can do it, but as I say, I'm reluctant to give up any more levels to another class. I haven't really got around to looking at feats properly yet, but I want to build a duel-wielding character, so can I have two harmonizing weapons, each continuing a different music while the bard sings a third?

I have another concern - many of the White Raven manuevers involve the warblade leading their group into battle with a big charge. This seems to be at odds with all the turns I'll be spending initiating music effects, casting Creaking Cacophony and Inspirational Boost, and activating Badge of Valor, etc at the beginning of combat. Song of the White Raven lets the bard initiate bardic music effects as a swift action, but is there anything else that I can do to help them react quicker to sudden combat situations, or am I just being too greedy with the boosts and buffs?

Again, many thanks for the help!
The Warblade looks very tasty indeed to me - those White Raven manuevers and stances look especially fun, so I'm eager to make the most of them. I'm also keen to get my base attack bonus as high as possible and get as many attack rolls into each turn as possible, so I want to get as many Warblade levels in as I can.


Most of the White Raven school, and indeed, most of the warblade, lends itself to single attacks. While you keep the full attack option open, you can do comparable damage to a full attack simply by moving and using a maneuver. This is what Andarious meant when he said you'd get better mobility with a martial adept than with a Snowflake Wardancer.

Nice though it looks, it seems unlikely that I'll be able to fit War Chanter in, especially since the Bard doesn't get hold of third level spells (such as Creaking Cacophony) until level 7. So is there a way to get hold of the spell without having to take seven levels in Bard? If not, would (possibly Silverbrow) Human Bard 7/Warblade 13 be considered the optimal model for what I'm trying to do?


Two things.

If you just want the one spell, slot your weapon with a wand chamber and load up a wand of the spell. I can't check here, but I seem to recall Cacophony doesn't requre a save for the effect you're wanting it for, so the wand is a good choice.

Second, warblades are extremely forgiving for taking weird level distributions. It's okay if you don't take too many warblade levels. Due to the way IL stacking works, you should probably go with an even number of non-warblade levels first; Bard 7 / Warblade starts off with 2nd level maneuvers, while Bard 8 / Warblade 1 gets third-level maneuvers. (You'll be stuck with a first-level stance either way, but the first-level warblade stances are pretty good; you'll probably be getting Leading the Charge.) This costs you just a point of base attack - but since you'll be getting full Inspire Courage and are using strikes instead of full attacks, that won't matter quite as much.

You also might want to get warblade online a little earlier to benefit from effects like Leading the Charge or Song of the White Raven.

I shall indeed be wanting to find a way of doubling up my bardic musics - this is probably the most attractive feature of War Chanter for me, as it seems that most of the other benefits can be apporximated one way or another by the Warblade. Level 2 Seeker of the Song can do it, but as I say, I'm reluctant to give up any more levels to another class. I haven't really got around to looking at feats properly yet, but I want to build a duel-wielding character, so can I have two harmonizing weapons, each continuing a different music while the bard sings a third?


Two harmonizing weapons sing the same song and cost a lot of feats. You're better off with Lingering Song - just start one performance and then switch to another, and the first effect will linger for 10 whole rounds. (With Song of the White Raven, this can even be on the same turn: Inspire Courage as a swift, then Dragonfire Inspiration as a standard, or vice versa. If one of your maneuvers is Order Forged from Chaos, you can even use that as your move action to make sure your team is able to full attack from the get-go. Note that this approach isn't conductive to the Inspirational Boost spell, but whichever song you sing second can still work with the Badge of Valor.)

I have another concern - many of the White Raven manuevers involve the warblade leading their group into battle with a big charge. This seems to be at odds with all the turns I'll be spending initiating music effects, casting Creaking Cacophony and Inspirational Boost, and activating Badge of Valor, etc at the beginning of combat. Song of the White Raven lets the bard initiate bardic music effects as a swift action, but is there anything else that I can do to help them react quicker to sudden combat situations, or am I just being too greedy with the boosts and buffs?


Oh, trust me, that's plenty. Since your buffs hit the whole party, it's not like the round you spend using either the Cacophony / Dragonfire setup or the Inspire / Boost setup is a wasted round. You'll be under competition for your swift action quite a lot, but that's common with late-3.5 characters.

The warblade's low number of readied maneuvers actually works to your advantage here, since you won't need to initiate every round to keep your influence up.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

You have all the info you need, but I wanted to point out a terrible mistake in the 1st post: you mentioned getting Fighter 5. Heresy! If you want to stay on this board, know that beyond level 2 you never stop at an odd Fighter level... since they bring nothing at all.

As for getting all the boosts... With a decently-sized party, optimized IC + Dragonfire Inspiration will cause enemies to evaporate, so you might actually have to tone it down and not use its full power, lest the DM wrath fall upon you. ;)

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
Omen: Indeed, that 5th Fighter level would've been entirely pointless, I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking of. I must have got it into my head that bonus feats fell on the odd numbered levels, or something. And yes, I suppose I should've learned my lesson last time when I asked you guys to help me optimize my druid and I got murdered to death by a red dragon that I'd angered by almost killing it. The bleeding barbarian ended up snatching that kill, while my poor druid lay smoking on the ground (not in the good way). Still, as I say, for the moment at least, this is just an exercise in character building to pass my time. I hope I'll get to try him/her out sometime, though, so I'll be sure to moderate the power a bit if I do.

Tempest: Ahh, I was assuming that those maneuvers gave me a full attack. Well, fair enough. My original plan was that the bard would abuse Dragonfire Inspiration as much as possible by getting as many attacks in as they could themselves, but doing it by granting attacks to allies instead works for me.

Okay, I haven't really used wands before, so I wasn't sure whether the character needed the ability to cast third level spells in order to use a wand with third level spells on it. Well, that's handy - I don't need to worry about that, then.

This sentence is a bit of a mystery to me: "Due to the way IL stacking works, you should probably go with an even number of non-warblade levels first; Bard 7 / Warblade starts off with 2nd level maneuvers, while Bard 8 / Warblade 1 gets third-level maneuvers." What's IL? And was it meant to say "Bard 7 / Warblade 2", or am I even more confused than I thought? Why does Bard 8/Warblade 1 get third-level maneuvers? I think I need to read that section of the book again, don't I? (Edit: Okay, I think I understand now. Bard 7/Warblade 1 gets 2nd level maneuvers. So to get the 9th level ones I need Bard 6 (or lower)/Warblade 14 (or higher)?)

So... when deciding how to divide my levels up It's be best for me to consider which bardic musics I want, and how many Bardic Music uses per day I want? And I should go with even numbers?

Lingering Song it is! Probably - sounds as though I'm going to need fewer weapon related feats than I thought, if I'm better off keeping my attacks simple, so I should be able to fit that in.
Tiger Claw+White Raven is your scrapper specialized Warblade. Ahem... Leading the Pouncing Charge, as Tempest called it I believe. 5th level Tiger Claw Maneuver Pouncing Charge allows a double move into a full attack (charge, as per any creature with Pounce). Leading the Charge (level 1 White Raven Stance) adds your IL to your allies damage rolls (and your own) when charging. The net result is a LOT of damage with good reach. Consider also for rounds 3 and beyond in your sequence that Dancing Mongoose (Or later on Raging Mongoose) will add 2 attacks even with 2 Weapon Fighting (you don't need to go any deeper into the tree, "ITWF shall be obtained via the Gloves of the Balanced Hand, in the MIC, if you have access to that book." This last point from OoP who made it sound so much like a commandment for COP that it must be so.

Don't underestimate Song of the Heart or Extra Bardic Music, if you go as far as Bard 8 you won't need that but if you only go to Bard 4 you should have it for sure. It's a tradeoff at the end of the day if you're sinking feats into more Maneuvers known or into more Music/day I personally lean to better Martial Skills.


Tools of the trade: Be sure to have wand chambers (C.Scoundrel) in both of your weapons, and use swift action wands like Swift Expeditious Retreat and Inspirational Boost (Aluonna from DFN gets a lot of mileage out of both tricks).
"ITWF shall be obtained via the Gloves of the Balanced Hand, in the MIC, if you have access to that book." This last point from OoP who made it sound so much like a commandment for COP that it must be so.


Haha, I wish. Only Caelic, blessed be His name, has the authority to edict commandments.

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
Well, I've done some more work on this build, and it's raised yet more questions and quandaries that I'm hoping you guys can help me out with. I'm still mulling over whether to go with Bard 6/Warblade 14, or Bard 4/Warblade 16 (by the way, these are just rough models - I may go for some earlier Warblade levels). I'm edging towards Bard 6/WB 14. I'm reasoning that trading the extra attack, maneuvers, base attack bonus, etc, for two extra bardic musics, Suggestion and extra spells may make the character a little more balanced, and hopefully good for more than just beating enemy face. I'm also considering Omen's advice about not building something that deals out too much damage in battle - this build should moderate things at least a little.

I've started looking at feats a bit more closely and wish to benefit from your collective experience. There are some that are obviously going in - Song of the Heart, Dragonfire Inspiration, Words of Creation, Song of the White Raven and Extra Music (not in that order). I remember reading that Song of the Heart can be substituted in in place of a Bardic Music ability, so I'll probably do that, which leaves me with four feat slots to fill. I have a fairly extensive list of feats that I thought could be cool:

Lingering Song (ECS) - although that could be replaced with a Harmonizing weapon.
Snowflake Wardance (Frost) - +CHA modifier to attack rolls seems rather mavellous, although I would be forced to make a dancer to take it.
Two Weapon Fighting (PHB) - for obvious reasons.
Vital Recovery (ToB) - the character seems a bit weak defensively, although there are probably far better ways of dealing with that problem.
Leadership (PHB) - this character would surely love to have their own personal band of followers and helpers, yes?
Subsonics (C.Adv) - dunno how good this would be. I suppose if we're going to be charging into battle with White Raven maneuvers, then there's not much point trying to be stealthy about it.
Versatile Performer (C.Adv) - means I wouldn't be limited to dancing if I took Snowflake Wardance.
Haunting Melody (ECS) - I believe serves to debuff opponent attacks, which would help defensively.
Doomspeak (?) - all I've heard about this is that it's awesome. I don't have the relevant book, so I was hoping that someone could fill me in on the details. (Edit: -10 on pretty much all rolls made by a single opponent during a single round in return for a Bardic Music use, apparently.)
Intimidating Strike (PHBII) - could also prove handy, defensively, although possibly not as good as Haunting Melody.
Defensive Sweep (PHBII) - more attacks of opportunity = good.
Robilar's Gambit (PHBII) - see Defensive Sweep.
There's also the one that nets me an extra maneuver, too (ToB) - could be worth it.
Oh yes, I need that dragon blooded business, and the ability to turn Dragonfire Inspiration's fire attack sonic. I'm basically lost on what the best way to do this is, so if anyone could clarify that for me, it would be great.

I believe I get three bonus Warblade feats, so I'm thinking Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative and Quick Draw.

I'm sure I've probably missed a few badass feats, so if there are any glaring ommissions, then please let me know. Otherwise, which ones should I be looking at?

There are one or two more queries that I must ask about. I haven't been able to find a definitive sounding answer to whether Words of Creation doubles the Inspire Courage boosts before or after bonuses from Song of the Heart, etc, are added. Is there a generally agreed upon ruling on this? Also, I was wondering whether magically summoned animals/monsters/whatever would get the same bonuses as other allies from IC and Dragonfire Inspiration? If so, does anybody have any neat ideas for ally summoning methods? I'm also beginning to wonder about equipment. What would be a good instrument choice for this build? What armour should I look at? What would be an ideal weapon (or combination of weapons)? Would something with reach be a good idea? If so, is there anything with reach that a two weapon fighter can use? If not, is it worth forgetting the TWF idea in order to use a weapon with reach?

Well, I'm beginning to feel like an annoying infant who won't stop asking stupid questions, so I'll stop now and cross my fingers that there's somebody out there with the patience and inclination to answer them.

Cheers guys!
A kusari-gama (DMG) is a TWF reach weapon, and the Spiked Chain might be as well. If you don't have bonus damage, though, it's not really worth spending the feats for both TWF and Exotic Weapon Proficiency; you're better off with a solid martial reach weapon. The guisarme is tops for its ability to trip. The spiked chain still might be worthwhile, though. It's both a reach and non-reach weapon at the same time.
"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 getting bonus damage on my attacks from Dragonfire Inspiration. It gives me +xd6 to damage where x is my bonus to attack and damage from inspire courage. That's why I'm considering TWF. I'll check the spiked chain out, though - I thought it was a two-handed weapon, but there's a distinct possibility that I'm wrong about that.
Sorry, I was unfamiliar with DFI.
I'm afb, so I don't remember if the spiked chain works with TWF, but I KNOW the kusari-gama (it's in the DMG, in the Asian/Oriental/Japanese "alternate settings" section).
"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
Thanks for the tip! The kusari-gama would appear to be the ideal option (the spiked chain is two-handed). That is two feats for TWF and Exotic Weapon Proficiency, though. Murrrr... How much do I want that extra attack? I dunno. Looks as though a Harmonizing weapon isn't going to do the job, either, as it seems to suggest that if I begin a second bardic music ability then the weapon stops keeping the first one going. So that would be another feat gone on Lingering Song. Sucks! I could possibly take a couple of levels of Seeker of the Song, as I think that would give me the ability to maintain two songs simultaneously. They'd still only last 5 rounds, though. Humph! With Draconic Heritage, or whichever feat it is I need to take, that's all my slots filled. Well, does anyone have any thoughts for ways to free one or two up again? Leadership would've been good fun, and I'm still curious about what Doomspeak is. Maybe I'd be better off with just one weapon and two extra feat slots. Both TWF and reach are going to net me extra attacks, though, which is sort of the name of the game... Gah! I hate difficult decisions!
Silverbrow human or the draconic template would eliminate the need for the dragonblooded feat.
"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
Silverbrow human also builds in cold damage, rather than sonic. Never underestimate a reach weapon and Combat Reflexes. You may get as many attacks out of that as you would TWF especially if you intend on spending rounds buffing.
I'm not underestimating reach with this build, trust me. With Combat Reflexes and some of the Warblade maneuvers, etc, I'd be daft not to have a reach weapon. What I'm wondering about is losing the TWF. I could free up a feat slot and grab a shield into the bargain. Also, no more penalties to attacks.

I'm curious about how Defensive Sweep (PHBII) interacts with a reach weapon like kusari-gama (which can threaten both at 5 feet and 10 feet) and Combat Reflexes. Is a Sweep attack of opportunity provoked if an opponent begins their turn ten feet away (not in an adjoining square, but in a threatened one)? And if they begin their turn 10 feet away and they take a step into a square adjoining my character's to make an attack, then would that provoke two AoO - one for leaving a threatened square, and one for the Sweep in the new square? If so, then Defensive Sweep would clearly be far more awesome than TWF (albeit only usable fairly late in the build).
I'm not underestimating reach with this build, trust me. With Combat Reflexes and some of the Warblade maneuvers, etc, I'd be daft not to have a reach weapon. What I'm wondering about is losing the TWF. I could free up a feat slot and grab a shield into the bargain. Also, no more penalties to attacks.


Except for the Kusari-Gama and the Spinning Sword (Secrets of Sarlona), every reach weapon is two-handed, so no shield. This isn't a bad thing, since the most common uses for AoOs are tripping and the Stand Still feat (both of which benefit from two-handing, directly in the case of the former, and via Power Attack for the latter). It does change the feat choices a bit though. I'd recommend it.
I'm curious about how Defensive Sweep (PHBII) interacts with a reach weapon like kusari-gama (which can threaten both at 5 feet and 10 feet) and Combat Reflexes. Is a Sweep attack of opportunity provoked if an opponent begins their turn ten feet away (not in an adjoining square, but in a threatened one)? And if they begin their turn 10 feet away and they take a step into a square adjoining my character's to make an attack, then would that provoke two AoO - one for leaving a threatened square, and one for the Sweep in the new square? If so, then Defensive Sweep would clearly be far more awesome than TWF (albeit only usable fairly late in the build).


Sadly, Defensive Sweep is adjacent, not "threatened", so it doesn't work well with reach weapons other than the Kusari-Gama, Spinning Sword, or Spiked Chain (since they threaten adjacent to you as well). It's still a great feat if you're using one of those weapons (moreso with other lockdown infrastructure, i.e. Thicket of Blades).

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Aww, shame! The description of the feat suggests that a reach weapon should be able to sweep any squares that it threatens. I was hoping that 'adjacent' could be interpreted as 'next to' (as in nothing in between), rather than 'in an adjoining square', but I knew that was a bit of a long shot. But what about that second querie? Would someone moving in from 10 feet to 5 feet provoke 2 AoO? That would be great defense against anything without reach or some way of avoiding AoO. What's Thicket of Blades?

So I'm going to check out tripping mechanics. What's the Stand Still feat?
But what about that second querie? Would someone moving in from 10 feet to 5 feet provoke 2 AoO? That would be great defense against anything without reach or some way of avoiding AoO.


No - they need to start and finish their turn adjacent to you for Defensive Sweep to trigger. They don't need to be in the same adjacent square, but they still need to be adjacent. 10' away is not adjacent.

Second, if they did that movement with a 5' step, it wouldn't provoke AoOs. At least, without Thicket.
What's Thicket of Blades?


You've got your Tome of Battle? Look through Devoted Spirit. It is the final word on AoO tanking support. Every movement type within your threatened area, including tumbling, Withdraw, and the 5' step, provokes while you're in Thicket.
So I'm going to check out tripping mechanics. What's the Stand Still feat?


Stand Still is here (from the XPH, but not a psionic feat).

Looks like you might benefit from reading up on AoO tanking. Head over here and read what I wrote in the spoiler block at the bottom. You might also want to look at the Pinball Brothers link in my signature. 

Mind you, this is pretty far from your original dancing warrior concept, but it's still an important foundation to understanding D&D melee. 

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

It looks as though I need to be a Crusader to use Thicket of Blades, unfortunately. Stand Still looks pretty neat to me (more what I'm after than Defensive Sweep, and much easier to qualify for) - the ability to keep opponents at a 10 foot reach would be frequently useful, I imagine, but do you think Power Attack is really necessary when I have Dragonfire Inspiration piling damage into my attacks? Considering the bonuses I'm already getting to attack with boosted Inspire Courage, would you still consider a two-handed spiked chain to be a better choice than a kusari-gama/spinning sword and a shield?

I'm gonna have a look at your AoO link...
It looks as though I need to be a Crusader to use Thicket of Blades, unfortunately.


True, a two-level Crusader dip can get it without being a real hiccup to your warblade progression; if you're doing a warblade-heavy build you might want to look into that. Just make sure that you have at least six non-crusader levels prior to taking your second level of Crusader if you want Thicket early. As a nice side benefit, crusader still stacks with Song of the White Raven, and two levels gives you the ability to add your Charisma modifier to your Will save (which is usually pretty bad for a warblade but pretty decent for a bard).

You could also use a Martial Stance feat, but that's getting expensive.

Of course, the shift into Thicket generally means you're focusing on defense, while your concept was offense, so while this approach is valid, I'm not sure it's entirely a good fit for you.
Stand Still looks pretty neat to me (more what I'm after than Defensive Sweep, and much easier to qualify for) - the ability to keep opponents at a 10 foot reach would be frequently useful, I imagine, but do you think Power Attack is really necessary when I have Dragonfire Inspiration piling damage into my attacks?


Nope, you don't need PA at all with Dragonfire in mind; I just listed Power Attack because it's the usual source of melee damage (a lot more common than Dragonfire or even Inspire Courage). 

One other remark on Stand Still: There's a long-standing argument about what happens if you trip a flying target, particularly if the target is magically flying. Stand Still has no such arguments - if a creature has less than Perfect maneuverability, it falls if it doesn't move a minimum distance in the air.
Considering the bonuses I'm already getting to attack with boosted Inspire Courage, would you still consider a two-handed spiked chain to be a better choice than a kusari-gama/spinning sword and a shield?


There's plenty of advantages to the chain over the one-handers, particularly because it's a cheap way to get your trip bonuses up there, but if you aren't planning on tripping much (and I can understand that; you'll be busy with other actions and won't be prioritizing Strength to the same degree) you can easily switch to a one-hander with no real loss. You aren't even taking Power Attack, so it's not a bad call at all.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Hmmm. I guess it depends upon what sort of party I'm playing with. The original idea was offense, but it's good to know that there's a relatively easy way to convert this into a defensive character - I'd still get to deal some tasty damage through my melee allies, anyway.

I may have to get Stand Still in there. I like that it can affect enemies who can avoid AoO - that's a very attractive feature. Just to make sure: My character makes attacks from 10 feet, then takes a 5 foot step away from their opponent, and the opponent is forced to provoke an AoO/Stand Still if they want to make an attack, yes?

So my feats, in no particular order:

Dragonfire Inspiration (DM)
Words of Creation (BoED)
Lingering Song (SaS)
Song of the White Raven (ToB)
Extra Music (ECS)
Exotic Weapon Proficiency (PHB)
Stand Still (XPH), or possibly Leadership (PHB)
Tempest, I think you said there was some feat I could get to change Dragonfire Inspiration's energy type to sonic on a Silverbrow Human. Do I remember right? What feat would that be? Also, does this draconic template that's been mentioned remove the necessity for me to get a feat for this at all?

Bonus feats:

Song of the Heart (ECS) (instead of Countersong, perhaps)
Haunting Melody (ECS) (instead of Inspire Competence, maybe)
Combat Reflexes (PHB)
Improved Initiative (PHB)
Quick Draw (PHB)
Hmmm. I guess it depends upon what sort of party I'm playing with. The original idea was offense, but it's good to know that there's a relatively easy way to convert this into a defensive character - I'd still get to deal some tasty damage through my melee allies, anyway.

I may have to get Stand Still in there. I like that it can affect enemies who can avoid AoO - that's a very attractive feature. Just to make sure: My character makes attacks from 10 feet, then takes a 5 foot step away from their opponent, and the opponent is forced to provoke an AoO/Stand Still if they want to make an attack, yes?


That depends entirely on their reach and the attack type they're using. They could be using a reach weapon or ranged weapons themselves, or they could employ something like Battle Leader's Charge (White Raven maneuver) to avoid AoOs while charging at you.

Remember that Stand Still does NOT deal any damage.

So my feats, in no particular order:

Dragonfire Inspiration (DM)
Words of Creation (BoED)
Lingering Song (SaS)
Song of the White Raven (ToB)
Extra Music (ECS)
Exotic Weapon Proficiency (PHB)
Stand Still (XPH), or possibly Leadership (PHB)
Tempest, I think you said there was some feat I could get to change Dragonfire Inspiration's energy type to sonic on a Silverbrow Human. Do I remember right? What feat would that be? Also, does this draconic template that's been mentioned remove the necessity for me to get a feat for this at all?

Bonus feats:

Song of the Heart (ECS) (instead of Countersong, perhaps)
Haunting Melody (ECS) (instead of Inspire Competence, maybe)
Combat Reflexes (PHB)
Improved Initiative (PHB)
Quick Draw (PHB)


The feat I mentioned is Draconic Heritage; without it you'll need some kind of dragon heritor template linked to a sonic dragon (Pyroclastic is my favorite, as you can switch to fire if you want) if you want to switch Dragonfire off of Cold damage as a silverbrow. For some reason Draconic Heritage will not work with bard, even though bard qualifies for Dragon Disciple; it's an easy argument to present to your DM though. If you're making that kind of argument anyway, though, you might be able to switch the innate cold of silverbrow over anyway.

Second, do not drop Inspire Competence - it's required for Song of the Heart, which easily outdoes Haunting Melody in a build like this, especially with Words of Creation. That requirement also prevents you from getting SotH at level 1; the switch I'd recommend is Countersong into Healing Hymn (Complete Champion), which adds your Perform rank onto any Conjuration (Healing) effect cast within range that restores HP. This + Cure Minor Wounds means that one bardic music use and a couple of cantrips can fully heal a badly wounded tank.

You'll be feat-starved with this approach, but it's not unmanageable. I'd suggest focusing on either super-singing (Lingering Song, Extra Music) or AoO tanking (Combat Reflexes (although it's the best of the warblade bonus feats, so you'll probably get it anyway), Stand Still, Exotic Weapon Proficiency) if you need some breathing space. Both approaches keep Words of Creation + Dragonfire Inspiration + Song of the White Raven, as those are all pretty core to your concept.

Note that if you absolutely must drop another feat, perhaps for the sonic damage type, you might want to lose Song of the Heart. It hurts to lose this, but with the right bard spells (Inspirational Boost on a wand, ideally) and equipment (the Badge of Valor post 3rd or 4th, the Vest of Legends as soon as you can convince your team to pool resources for it (likely around 8th-9th; compare its price to the total cost of upgrading your team's weapons by another +1)) you can shore up that loss without sacrificing too much on the melee front.

If you haven't already looked at it, I've mentioned Andarious' character in our Dead for Nothing game multiple times by now, and she can serve as a template if you want. The link's in my signature.

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 put the music replacement feats as possible maybes, because I've been reading arguments about this all over the internet. Some people seem to think that prerequisites may be ignored for these feats because they're considered to be bonus feats. Other people disagree. I have no opinion, but it's a helpful rule if it's allowed. If not, then obviously I drop Haunting Melody and find room for Song of the Heart elsewhere.

As for focusing my feats, I guess that's another thing I can tailor to a group I'm playing with. I can fit Leadership in then, and possibly something else as well. But supposing I stick to my offensive model and lose Exotic Weapon Proficiency and Stand Still, should I go back to TWF and forget about bothering with reach weapons, or should I go for a two-handed martial reach weapon?

I've had a couple of looks at the Bard/Crusader. I'm wondering what the main benefits of the Goliath race are to this build? Do they outweight the extra damage that can be dealt with a sonic Dragonfire Inspiration? Would my defensive build be better off as a goliath, or something similar, than something draconic?
I put the music replacement feats as possible maybes, because I've been reading arguments about this all over the internet. Some people seem to think that prerequisites may be ignored for these feats because they're considered to be bonus feats. Other people disagree. I have no opinion, but it's a helpful rule if it's allowed. If not, then obviously I drop Haunting Melody and find room for Song of the Heart elsewhere.


Allow me to enlighten you with a little anecdote.
Originally posted by FrankTrollman

Did I never tell you guys about "Hungry Jack"? He was a human rogue, who took his 10th level bonus feat as "Gape of the Serpent" - which is totally legal because he can take any feat he wants and doesn't have to meet prereqs as it is a bonus feat.

So he ran around eating people, which was totally awesome. Truly a great character. Not overpowered, not even really all that good. But it made for a great intro to intimidate checks.

"I will eat you."

Good times.


(GotS is in Savage Species. As you can guess, it requires Swallow Whole, but if you ignore the prerequisite, you get a feat that says "You can swallow a creature of up to your own size category" and provides independent mechanics for doing so.)

Of course you still need the prerequisites. D&D is exception-based; the standard rule is you need prereqs, and in the absence of an exception (i.e. ranger combat style), you still have to follow it.
As for focusing my feats, I guess that's another thing I can tailor to a group I'm playing with. I can fit Leadership in then, and possibly something else as well.


Oh, I thought you already had a group and were building towards it. Leadership is one of those feats you kind of need DM permission for anyway... few builds use it "by default" unless they're theoretical as a result.
But supposing I stick to my offensive model and lose Exotic Weapon Proficiency and Stand Still, should I go back to TWF and forget about bothering with reach weapons, or should I go for a two-handed martial reach weapon?


One of these involves three feats. The other requires zero. You're feat-starved. It's not a hard question.

You'll get enough attacks on your own through Tiger Claw, particularly if you spend your first round buffing or double-singing. Let your allies provide the meat of your attack while you call out tactics. THEN join the fray with boosts and buffs.

I've had a couple of looks at the Bard/Crusader. I'm wondering what the main benefits of the Goliath race are to this build? Do they outweight the extra damage that can be dealt with a sonic Dragonfire Inspiration? Would my defensive build be better off as a goliath, or something similar, than something draconic?


In that particular case, you'd have to ask Andarious, but as I gather, it was because around level 8 or so (I forget exactly) the Constitution outweighed the lost level in HP, the +4 Strength is always a good thing, Powerful Build allowed the longsword's base damage to be the same as a greatsword (she uses a sword/shield combination because none of her bonus damage amplifies in a 2-hander case, while her charges cost her AC; this also gives her two slots for wand chambers, and helps cover for the loss of Dex. You'll note that -Dex and no bonus feats rules out being a good AoO tank, so she doesn't bother with reach either, and emphasizes buffing and charging instead.), and the +2 to Sense Motive (note that it's an intrigue game). This is separate from the RP component which did drive a lot of our decisions in that game.

It's a different build. I presented it as an example of how to make buffing effective without sacrificing combat ability - you don't need that much in the way of bard levels. It's a different build to use warblade and Dragonfire Inspiration, but the same core - Song of the White Raven, Song of the Heart (probably) and Words of Creation, plus Inspirational Boost + Badge of Valor. The components are small, but the effect is huge.

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.

Wow, you're going all over the place, Trousers! You're lucky to have an expert (TS) to babysit you through it. ;)
Remember that your character won't be able to do everything at once.

To come back briefly on the topic of debuffing (Haunting Melody, Doomspeak, ...), it's probably done best by a straight build bard (by "straight" here I mean no other base class: Sublime Chord would be a choice PrC). Your character won't be able to do that + double buffing (IC + DFI) + good melee power.

@TS: Healing Hymn was errrata-ed. It's not the powerhouse it used to be; in fact now there's no great replacement for Countersong. The one in Complete Mage is flavourful but I don't see myself using it; Healing Hymn can still be used to double HPs gained while resting... and finally Countersong actually remains a contender thanks to a cheap MIC item that allows its use as an immediate action.

That section of a guidebook that you linked to looks good! Are you still working on it?
(As I was reading your posts, I started thinking: it would be nice to have "Lockdown handbook" to link to - by opposition to aelrynth's thread which is, IIRC, more focused on a decidated build. It seems you might well deliver that and more!)

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
To come back briefly on the topic of debuffing (Haunting Melody, Doomspeak, ...), it's probably done best by a straight build bard (by "straight" here I mean no other base class: Sublime Chord would be a choice PrC). Your character won't be able to do that + double buffing (IC + DFI) + good melee power.


Agreed on this point: if you're debuffing, you'll be spending a lot of bardic music uses, so at the very least you'll get some stamina. The full caster level also helps here somewhat, and there's a few effects (i.e. the Crystal Echoblade) that explicitly reference bard level.

@TS: Healing Hymn was errrata-ed. It's not the powerhouse it used to be; in fact now there's no great replacement for Countersong. The one in Complete Mage is flavourful but I don't see myself using it; Healing Hymn can still be used to double HPs gained while resting... and finally Countersong actually remains a contender thanks to a cheap MIC item that allows its use as an immediate action.


...Wow, how could I have missed that? It's limited by the spell's CL cap.

...Doing some back of the envelope calculations, the ability looks worthless now. It doesn't really improve out of combat healing (the only place it would reasonably be used, since in combat the bard is probably singing a different song) all that much, it just lets your spells reach their caps sooner. And with the exception of the Mass Cure spells, those limits are usually not too far away from when you actually learn the spell in the first place - the difference between the minimum CL and the cap is, as far as I can tell, always less than your maximum Perform rank, so there's no reason to reference Perform at all.

That section of a guidebook that you linked to looks good! Are you still working on it?
(As I was reading your posts, I started thinking: it would be nice to have "Lockdown handbook" to link to - by opposition to aelrynth's thread which is, IIRC, more focused on a decidated build. It seems you might well deliver that and more!)


Yes, I am, but I have a thesis to finish first, so it's kind of backburner.

The only section from that guidebook that's missing from the thread I linked is my take on party responsibilities. I've been working on that for a couple years now; it's related but wasn't intended to be part of that guide. (There have been some revisions snice then, with a couple of the hazier areas split up, collapsed, and refined, but the core argument is unchanged.)
[EDIT: ...Wow, it turns out a more recent version of that very argument shows up on the same thread the AoO guide is in.]

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.

Heh! Who, moi? The trouble was that people kept firing fun sounding ideas at me without mentioning the fact that they probably wouldn't all fit into one build. I've been trying to make it happen, but you're right, everything's getting watered down to make room for everything else. Thankfully, Tempest didn't let me waste too much time trying to get it all in one. I'm pretty happy with this state of affairs now. I have a flexible basic design that can go defensive or offensive with a few alterations. I think it'll fit well into pretty much any group now, as long as they're not all casters.

Aye, as soon as I found out exactly what Doomspeak actually does, I realised that it wasn't really the most relevent feat for this character. Haunting Melody just seemed preferable to some of the lamer Bardic Music abilities, so I thought I might as well.
Not really, I'd drop Haunting Melody as well if you haven't done so already.
I'm assuming you're going Warblade-heavy rather than Bard-heavy, correct? (Perhaps with a Crusader splash.)

Also, realize that between your two songs, the badge of valor and the Inspiration Boost spell, it will take you more than one round to put everything together. Out a 4-5 rounds encounter, that's not small.

Finally, ware MAD. You need Int & Cha 15 for Words of Creation, some Dex for your AoOs, and Str & Con like any meleer. This build will be more viable with high point buys.

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
Also, realize that between your two songs, the badge of valor and the Inspiration Boost spell, it will take you more than one round to put everything together. Out a 4-5 rounds encounter, that's not small.


Emphasis.

Our own Song of the White Raven crusader takes a full round to get going, and that's with only one song. (Although SotWR lets you sing as a swift, that swift is usually used for an Inspirational Boost spell from a wand, which has to come before the song you sing, so the song comes as a standard action. The badge can be activated afterwards, thankfully. Her move is usually spent getting into position, or drawing weapons if they weren't ready.) 

The advantage to one song is that Inspire Courage has no duration, so in theory you can keep the performance going as long as you like, but in practice this interferes with your voice a bit too much. The only way to get this going with two songs is with War Chanter; the Lingering Song trick relies on the song, well, lingering to get its effects. (If your battles are only 5 rounds, then you probably don't need to get Lingering Song, though, since it lingers that long on its own.)

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.

It would be of little use to this build, but I want to point out there's also a 4th level spell, Lingering Chorus (CM) that sustains your music for you and explicitly allows you to start a new one. Very useful for straight/caster bards.
With its fixed range it could theoretically be Persisted. 

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
I'm familiar with the problem. My druid was a self-buffing melee character and it used to take him forever to get going. If anything, this build should have less trouble with that. It's only a problem in surprise encounters (admittedly, in my experience, most encounters tend to be surprise encounters, but...), and, as you've said, Tempest, at least the character makes their presence felt, even during those one or two rounds of preparation. Also, I can hopefully judge each situation on individual merit. If it looks as though an encounter can be over within four or five rounds, then it probably isn't worth spending two of them buffing everyone up anyway. So it occurs to me that it might be a good idea if my character was able to accurately assess opponents, how strong they are and what their strengths and weaknesses are (enemies with high AC, but low damage attacks probably don't require Dragonfire to be used against them, and those with low AC and high damage attacks can probably be sorted out easily enough without Inspire Courage, etc.), so I'm wondering which knowledge skills/spells/gear would likely be most relevent for finding this sort of information out. Does anyone have any thoughts? I do also want to check, though, if I go for the 'song x' during round 1, then 'song y' during round 2, I can apply all of my boosts from Inspirational Boost and Badge of Valor to both, yes? Is there a specific order that I should activate things in? I gather that it's Inspirational Boost, then 'song x' first, but I'm hazy on what the optimal order is after that.

I must admit that I've been somewhat concerned about the fact that this build seems to require at least reasonably good scores in all abilities other than Wisdom. All I can really think is that I'll have to begin with my high scores in abilities relevant to the bard at early levels, and hopefully amass enough wealth to buy equipment that can boost the others as they become more relevent. The DM I usually play with decides ability scores with dice rolls, so who knows, maybe I'll get some lucky rolls. It could happen...
So it occurs to me that it might be a good idea if my character was able to accurately assess opponents, how strong they are and what their strengths and weaknesses are (enemies with high AC, but low damage attacks probably don't require Dragonfire to be used against them, and those with low AC and high damage attacks can probably be sorted out easily enough without Inspire Courage, etc.), so I'm wondering which knowledge skills/spells/gear would likely be most relevent for finding this sort of information out. Does anyone have any thoughts?


Generally speaking, there's no "best" knowledge skill for this, and there are no spells or gear which give exact numbers (I think there's a feat or two which does this, though - PHB2, but I don't know exactly). You can also make those knowledge checks convert into damage potential with the Knowledge Devotion feat, but this won't be worth it for you due to its action cost.

If you want to get a LOT of bang for your buck, though, consider the Bardic Knack special ability (also PHB2) and the Collector of Stories skill trick (Complete Scoundrel). The trick's only once per encounter, but it's cheap for you (two skill points). The Knack ability replaces Bardic Knowledge with... it's hard to explain without giving everything away, but let's just say it lets you invest just one skill point in each Knowledge skill and gives you a substantially larger return on your investment. It rewards more Bard levels than non-Bard levels, but even a handful of them + Collector of Stories (and knowing which skill relates to which creature type, which is a metagame thing) can give you a good chance of IDing things for a surprisingly small skill point investment.

I do also want to check, though, if I go for the 'song x' during round 1, then 'song y' during round 2, I can apply all of my boosts from Inspirational Boost and Badge of Valor to both, yes? Is there a specific order that I should activate things in? I gather that it's Inspirational Boost, then 'song x' first, but I'm hazy on what the optimal order is after that.


Here's a flowchart in text form. To have the full options available, you'll need to be in a White Raven stance. This is the main reason you'll probably be using Leading the Charge or Tactics of the Wolf all the time; those stances are essentially infinite-duration party-wide buffs set up in advance.


  • If you're hosed and need to fight right away, you can use Song of the White Raven to sing Song X and start fighting on round 1, then use Song of the White Raven to sing Song Y and keep fighting on round 2. Neither effect will be as powerful as a dedicated buff round (though they'll still be stronger than usual due to Song of the Heart + the eventual Vest of Legends you'll be convincing your team to subsidize), but sometimes you'll need to start fighting immediately.

  • If you can afford one buff round or only need one song, the order is Inspirational Boost + Song, then the Badge + fighting on your second round.

  • If you want two songs, it's Inspirational Boost + Song X on round 1, but how you follow that depends on your circumstance.


    • If you need Song X to be your stronger effect and just want Song Y as a tagalong, you use the Badge + second song. You can use the badge again on the following round if you want both songs to be amazing, but your badge is really limited.

    • If you need Song Y to be your stronger effect, or you're conserving Badge charges (it's only 3/day!), you use Inspirational Boost + Song Y.

    • If you need two songs but cannot afford the second buff round, you use Song of the White Raven to sing Song Y as a swift instead, then start fighting. (You can't do this if you aren't in a White Raven stance, and you can't do it with any song other than Inspire Courage or Dragonfire.) If your swift action is free, you can use the Badge on the third round to buff up Song Y, but only consider this on really long battles.




In all cases, if you don't particularly need Song X to be insanely strong, of if you need your swift for other reasons (stances, for instance), you can forgo the initial Inspirational Boost and follow the routines as written. These routines also leave your move action open in the first round, which is a good thing as you're almost never in position on round 1.

All of this assumes you have a LOT of Inspirational Boosts available - I'd suggest a wand (chamber it into your shield and it's always available; if you aren't using a shield, chamber it into your weapon. If you aren't using a shield AND you aren't the sort to keep a weapon drawn, either buy a Least Augment Crystal of Return (MIC; basically gives you Quick Draw for the weapon) or buy a gauntlet (always in your hand) and chamber that.). This also assumes you're always in the right stance, and that stance must be from White Raven to use the last option for two songs. Note that Song X in the two-song scenario will last for five rounds after you start singing, while you can keep Song Y going indefinitely; if you suspect you'll be digging in for the long haul, Song Y should be the bigger effect, but for quicker encounters (6 rounds or less), making Song X the stronger effect will have a bigger influence on the battle (since it'll be online during round 1 while Song Y will not).

Things get more complex with a harmonizing weapon (MIC); it LOOKS like it should help with dual-singing, but since you can't stop it from picking up a performance, it actually doesn't help with that (it always picks up a performance the round after you start singing it, and it keeps singing for 10 rounds - so with Song X on round 1, it sings Song X on rounds 2-11. But if you do Song X on round 1, then Song Y on round 2, it'll sing Song Y from round 3-12). What this DOES do is leave your voice free for spellcasting while it keeps your most recent song going for a full minute, instead of the 5 rounds it usually would last. It doesn't help your first song at all. Still, this weapon might help you avoid learning Lingering Song if you have really long fights. It's still no substitute for War Chanter, but then again, few things are.

I must admit that I've been somewhat concerned about the fact that this build seems to require at least reasonably good scores in all abilities other than Wisdom. All I can really think is that I'll have to begin with my high scores in abilities relevant to the bard at early levels, and hopefully amass enough wealth to buy equipment that can boost the others as they become more relevent. The DM I usually play with decides ability scores with dice rolls, so who knows, maybe I'll get some lucky rolls. It could happen...


Even without that, you really don't need much. You can get by with Charisma 13 - you aren't a primary spellcaster and aren't going beyond 3rd level spells. (Obviously 14 is much better for the modifier, but if you're stuck...). Likewise, Warblade rewards Intelligence, but does not require Intelligence; you can get by again without too much here (especially with Bardic Knack). Similarly, warblade has d12 HD, and you will probably be out of combat range on round 1, so you don't need quite as much Constitution as you might think you would otherwise (14 is probably enough - normally this is the minimum I'd suggest for warriors, but this playstyle isn't quite as frontline-heavy due to its buff round.) Dexterity needs to be adequate, yes, and there's few ways around that, especially if you want to use a shield and cast spells from low levels (you should consider the shield anyway, as wands don't suffer ASF%, and the extra wand chamber can help. Just use a buckler or similar until you can afford special materials or Twilight or similar.) Strength, oddly, also doesn't need to be that high - your songs can more than compensate for a low Strength, and by the time your melee maneuvers kick in, your full base attack will cover the rest.

So while you need to be competent in all areas except Wisdom, you don't actually need to be exceptional in any of them. I'd prioritize Dexterity and Constitution over the others (Dex more if you're starting at a high level, Con more if you're starting at a low level), get a 13+ in Charisma, plop anything left over into Strength and Intelligence (Intelligence over Strength (skills, Knowledge checks, warblade synergy) in almost any circumstance; you can probably manage with just a 12 Strength!) and Wisdom gets the scraps.

 Even the elite array can do this: 10/14/15/12/8/13 should do the trick. You'll be using bard ranged weapons and magic for the first few levels until you can get your Inspire gear together. At 4th you probably pump Charisma (bonus spells help bards a lot, and a 14 gets you a bonus 2nd level spell slot as soon as that's available to the bard), and at 8th you pump Constitution (as by then you've got your Inspire gear together to cover for Strength, and you'll start to switch to a frontliner, and you'll have enough HD that the impact will be noticable). From then on out it's up to you.

EDIT: Omen of Peace points out correctly that this is not going to cut it for Words of Creation; if you take this ability score array you will probably have to do without Words (it is not an easy feat to get!). However, you can still pull off Words with the elite array! 10/12/13/15/8/14, putting your 4th or 8th level boost to Charisma (pick which one works best for you; you might want to amplify your Constitution or Intelligence first if you were planning on delaying Words until 9th anyway), does the trick. You'll be slightly more fragile during the early levels, but not terribly so; this just relegates you slightly more to the caster / support bard role early on. 

Note that both of these suggestions force you to work with the elite array; if you get better results, you can take this and make it rule. 

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.

So it occurs to me that it might be a good idea if my character was able to accurately assess opponents, how strong they are and what their strengths and weaknesses are (enemies with high AC, but low damage attacks probably don't require Dragonfire to be used against them, and those with low AC and high damage attacks can probably be sorted out easily enough without Inspire Courage, etc.), so I'm wondering which knowledge skills/spells/gear would likely be most relevent for finding this sort of information out. Does anyone have any thoughts?

Generally speaking, there's no "best" knowledge skill for this, and there are no spells or gear which give exact numbers (I think there's a feat or two which does this, though - PHB2, but I don't know exactly). You can also make those knowledge checks convert into damage potential with the Knowledge Devotion feat, but this won't be worth it for you due to its action cost.

That's not quite true.  Sense Motive allows you to assess the threat level of an opponent, i.e. their power (HD) relative to your own.  That's the only thing it will show you, so you would still need appropriate knowdge skills to find out things like weaknesses and immunities.
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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?
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I like the Bardic Knack and Collector of Stories ideas a lot - I'm using those! I found one other feat in PHBII that lets you know the HP of adjacent opponents, but it has a prerequisite feat and it's not really the effect I want, anyway. Bardic Knack, Sense Motive and CoS look as though they should provide the information I'll need, though. Thanks!

And thanks for the turn-by-turn breakdowns - they've made a number of things clearer. For instance, I wasn't sure exactly how Inspirational Boost and Badge of Valor were going to interact (whether they were going to be able to boost effects from both songs, or just one). I have a thought that might allow them to boost both songs without having to take five levels in War Chanter or two levels in Seeker of the Song. The Song and Silence book has some variation rules for some of the string instruments (fiddle, lute and lap-harp, I believe), which allow two bardic musics to be played simultaneously. From what I understand they'll allow a second Bardic Music effect to be initiated whilst one is underway, so I wouldn't be able to begin both simultaneously with the same action, but I would, I think, definitely be able to get the boost from the badge onto both, and I can probably get the boost from Inspirational Boost (yes, by the way, I shall be using wands for Inspirational Boost and Creaking Cacophony) onto both as well. Turn 1: Inspirational Boost -> song x. Turn 2: Maintain song x (so Inspirational Boost's effect doesn't end) and begin song y -> Badge of Valor. Both boosts to both songs, am I right? How would a Harmonizing weapon interact with that? If my character was playing two songs together, would the weapon carry on both, or just the second?

Thanks once again, Tempest, for the advice concerning ability scores. That makes the build seem a whole lot more realistic than I was beginning to think it was. I'll be sure to follow it closely!
For Words of Creation you'd need Int 15 & Cha 15. It is an amazing feat, but it's also the first one you'd drop if you had a low point buy.

The Harmonizing weapon would likely only pick up the second song (but feel free to ask your DM).

The most precise info one can get on an opponent is through the Urban Savant PrC (Cityscape), but that's not for this PC (and it doesn't apply to all types of creatures).

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My current character in Real Adventures Play-by-Post games:

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
I like the Bardic Knack and Collector of Stories ideas a lot - I'm using those! I found one other feat in PHBII that lets you know the HP of adjacent opponents, but it has a prerequisite feat and it's not really the effect I want, anyway. Bardic Knack, Sense Motive and CoS look as though they should provide the information I'll need, though. Thanks!


That was the feat I was thinking of, and yes, it's not all that worthwhile. Sense Motive also isn't all that hot since all it will tell you is HD, which doesn't tell you anything about their AC nor their HP.

Generally speaking, I would prioritize Inspire Courage over Dragonfire, especially if you have warrior-types with Power Attack on the team. Bonus damage means nothing if your attacks don't hit, and thanks to Song of the Heart, even without any other support your basic Dragonfire effect is still adding at least greatsword damage onto each hit. Meanwhile, let's assume you mismatched it - you used Inspire Courage against low-AC critters with high HP, or Dragonfire against unhittable foes with only moderate HP. The latter is going to be a waste; you'll have to rely on good rolls for it to count (though it will probably end the battle much quicker once those rolls happen). The former, however, will not be a waste - even if you misjudged your foes, your warriors (who will be quite familiar with the Power Attack game) can simply throttle up their Power Attacks and convert that attack bonus into damage. Most often, this'll be on a 2:1 ratio, so Inspire will add 3 damage per point of bonus if they Power Attack for an amount equal to the bonus - this is almost on par with Dragonfire already. (It's not energy damage, so it can't be Cacophonied to higher levels, but it's a start.) And, if they're really built for it, they can get it much higher than that - i.e. through Ubercharging, which also benefits from your Leading the Charge stance.

Nutshell: If your allies have Power Attack, you should probably be amping up Inspire over Dragonfire even against easy-to-hit foes. I'd amp up Dragonfire for significant encounters, but only after you've already put up your best Inspire.

And thanks for the turn-by-turn breakdowns - they've made a number of things clearer. For instance, I wasn't sure exactly how Inspirational Boost and Badge of Valor were going to interact (whether they were going to be able to boost effects from both songs, or just one).

The badge can only be used three times per day, so keep that in mind. You don't want to be without it when it matters. (You also don't want to finish the day off with any charges left in it, though.)

Another point: If you assemble the rest of the set, you can get some pretty decent effects as a set bonus. It's designed for marshals, but will work just fine with bards.

I have a thought that might allow them to boost both songs without having to take five levels in War Chanter or two levels in Seeker of the Song. The Song and Silence book has some variation rules for some of the string instruments (fiddle, lute and lap-harp, I believe), which allow two bardic musics to be played simultaneously. From what I understand they'll allow a second Bardic Music effect to be initiated whilst one is underway, so I wouldn't be able to begin both simultaneously with the same action, but I would, I think, definitely be able to get the boost from the badge onto both, and I can probably get the boost from Inspirational Boost (yes, by the way, I shall be using wands for Inspirational Boost and Creaking Cacophony) onto both as well. Turn 1: Inspirational Boost -> song x. Turn 2: Maintain song x (so Inspirational Boost's effect doesn't end) and begin song y -> Badge of Valor. Both boosts to both songs, am I right?


Given how those instruments were updated (Complete Adventurer) and no longer allow dual-singing on their own, no, you can't do this. Even if you could, Inspirational Boost only applies to songs started in the round you start singing (...I think. AFB.), and the Badge isn't entirely clear but seems to apply to only one song per use.

How would a Harmonizing weapon interact with that? If my character was playing two songs together, would the weapon carry on both, or just the second?

Harmonizing weapons have only one feature: If you start singing a song, they pick it up on the following round. There are three ways this could work with dual-singing.

1) If you sing two songs on two separate rounds (as above, and in most of my buff routines), then the Harmonizing sword will pick up the first song on the second round, but switch to the second song from the third round onward.
2) If you sing two songs on the same round, the harmonizing weapon should pick up whichever song you sung second (the first song will linger, as normal, but won't be sustained by the sword.)
3) If you're a War Chanter and sing two songs at once, it's not clear what the harmonizing sword would do; easiest way to do it is to either run both songs at once, or to pick one song to sustain. It's clear the harmonizing sword wasn't written with this in mind, so you'll have to patch it.

They're good weapons, but they're no substitute for War Chanter or Lingering Song, and they kind of muck around with dual-singing builds that don't use war chanter.

Thanks once again, Tempest, for the advice concerning ability scores. That makes the build seem a whole lot more realistic than I was beginning to think it was. I'll be sure to follow it closely!


I edited that in light of Omen of Peace's suggestion - he's right that Words won't work with the array I gave, but I supplied an alternative that will work with Words. It's also not that bad of an array in its own right, but you'll be less of a warrior and more of a minstrel to start.

One thing to note is that the temptation to round out those 15s to 16s at higher levels is quite high... but if you're just interested in Words, and you aren't being a serious spellcaster or skill-user, you can just leave them at 15 and still be all right. Since you're using Bardic Knack + Collector of Stories, you don't need a serious emphasis on Knowledge skills, and since bards and warblades both get decent skill points to begin with (and you've got a +2 modifier from a 15 Int), you'll be fine on the skill front, especially if you aren't the primary expert on the team. Likewise, if most of your spellcasting comes from wands, your charisma actually doesn't matter at all to your magic - 15 is high enough to use virtually any bardic spell you'd want from a scroll or a wand anyway, and those don't use your ability scores to set the DC or anything. Since you're barely casting from your own slots - and you won't be casting in combat anyway, since you don't have Melodic Casting and your voice is occupied singing - your own spellcasting isn't a primary focus of your character anyway. (You should learn basic out-of-combat support spells, such as divinations, enchantments, and illusions, with a specific focus on those that aren't save-based.) Long story short, try to fight the temptation to boost those scores to a +3 modifier - you won't need them to be any higher!

Both arrays are the 25-pb elite array (4d6 drop lowest's statistical average); if you get better results than this, go to town. But you can do a multi-singer with the elite array without hamstringing yourself. If you get lower, or you find that you wish to be a scrappier fighter rather than a masterful commander, you might have to drop Words to lighten the emphasis on Charisma and Wisdom.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

I mainly chose Goliath for flair and partially to subsidise my ability scores (with WoC in the works the +4 net abilities of a +1 ECL race were worth the trade). Without Goliath she'd be significantly less of a combat threat with or without songs, and far more of an inspiration engine than a singing fighter.


I'd stick with a no-LA race for your build unless there's something you REALLY want thematically. Bearing in mind also our group leaves multiclassing XP penalties at the door (somehting I need to remind myself of when building characters for other games). So the whole Crusader/Bard Goliath thing works in this game in a way it just wouldn't in most.
Blast! I guess no double singing for this character then. Ah well, even without boosts from Inspirational Boost and Badge of Valor (heh! Maybe I'll buy two) Dragonfire Inspiration's still going to be able to deal pretty big damage. As Omen said, it's generally best not to be too over-powered, anyway.

I have taken a look at spells and, yes, I agree, no more needs to be done to improve this character's combat stats (apart, possibly, from the defensive ones) and I'll be spending enough time buffing during combats as it is (although Crabwalk is such a temptation), so I'm looking at utility spells that are minimally effected (if at all) by the caster level. I'm wondering how many dice I'll be rolling for non-lethal damage with Words of Creation at the highest level? Will it be 20d4? If so I'll probably look into getting a wand of Refreshment (lvl 3 spell - cures all non-lethal damage). I'm also thinking that Ambient Song (lvl 1 - disguises the sound of Bardic Music); Joyful Noise (lvl 1 - negates magical silence effects within 10 feet), and Surefooted Stride (lvl 2 - allows normal movement through difficult terrain and +2 to climb checks) might be good choices. My other choices will depend upon the rest of the party that I'm with, somewhat, but I have a list of good candidates.

In terms of feats, I think I've pretty much settled on Dragonfire Inspiration (1), Extra Music (1), Song of the Heart (3), Lingering Song (1), Song of the White Raven (9), Exotic Weapon Proficiency (want kusari-gama) (1), Words of Creation (9), Draconic Heritage (assuming the DM will allow me to take this without Sorcerer 1) (1), (with bonus feats - Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Quick Draw). I've tried deciding on an order to take them, and I landed on the order I've written them here, but I'm far from convinced that this is the best way. Do you guys have any more informed opinions of what a good order would be? I've put the earliest level that the character can take each feat at in brackets.

I'm curious: if an opponent draws an attack of opportunity by moving out of a space that my character threatens, and I use it to successfully trip them, then do they remain in the original square, or do they still make it to where they were trying to go? What other actions can they make during the turn? The move action is wasted, and they presumably use another one to stand up (during which I can make a second attack of opportunity), so that leaves them with a 5 foot step and a swift action (assuming they haven't used it in the previous round as an immediate action), yes?
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