Weekly Optimization Showcase: The T3

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Yes, it's a day late. I had a masters' thesis to submit. I think you'll understand.

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

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


 With that out of the way, let's get started. This week, RadicalTaoist gets the spotlight with the T3, or, more appropriately…


------------------

TASHALATORA TRIPLE THREAT


My Kung Fu is more Powerful



Required Books: XPH, Complete Psionic, Eberron Campaign Setting (1 feat), Secrets of Sarlona (1 feat), Tome of Battle (1 feat).
Unearthed Arcana used: None!


 


Background: Specialization is the key to victory as an adventurer. Sometimes, however, specializing in one thing can allow you to specialize in another “for free”. And sometimes, just sometimes, the two of them together are only a short way off from specializing in a third. And so on.


 


The T3 is an example of this, based around the amazing monk/any-psionic hybrid feat in Secrets of Sarlona. Able to switch freely between skirmish brawler, position controller and blaster, and healer as the situation demands, the Tashalatora Triple Threat is one of those people who specializes in anything. She’s not a skillmonkey, and she only uses one type of magic, but the flexible nature in which she can apply it will surprise you.



The Basics


 



  • Race: Human. The bonus feat is too good to pass up.

  •  Ability Scores: 14/14/14/8/16/8. You’re a monk; MAD comes with the territory. All  your advances go into Wisdom. (If you want to be slightly more skilled, going to 15 Wisdom and 10 Intelligence is a possibility, especially if you’re at a higher level or have good equipment availability.)


 


Skill Notes: You’re a monk and an ardent. Neither are experts. Pump up Concentration and spend the rest as you see fit.


 


Basic Equipment: Again, you’re a monk and an ardent. You could be running around in a bathrobe and still generally be OK.


 


Magical Gear Goals: Nothing out of the ordinary, really – ability score boosters, backup manifesting gear (psicrowns, etc – note that ardents interact weirdly with these), and anything to support your monk features will cover all the bases quite well.  


 



The Build.
Build Stub: Ardent 18 / Monk 2.



1 – Ardent – (Force mantle, Life mantle) (Psicrystal Affinity, Practiced Manifester) (Touch of Health, Force Screen)

*
To start things off, you’re a basic healer and backup sentry at the lowest of the low levels, when these really matter. You can also wear heavier armor (though you’re likely to only be able to afford scale mail). Think of yourself as a less versatile cleric for now.

2 – Monk – (Unarmed Strike, Flurry, AC Bonus) (Improved Grapple)


 3 – Monk – (Evasion) (Monastic Training, Tashalatora)

*
Monastic Training can be taken as a monk bonus feat, so that’s what you’re doing here. Tashalatora is of course beyond awesome; from now on, your ardent levels basically give you everything you could want from monk anyway.

4 – Ardent – (Law mantle) (Deflection Field)

*
This isn’t actually the best power available to you (it scales horribly), but ardent power selection sometimes dictates weird choices.

5 – Ardent – (Body Purification)

*
Ability damage sucks.  Try not to get it.

6 – Ardent – (Expanded Knowledge) (Heavy Earth, Share Pain)

*
Share Pain + Psicrystal gives the T3 enough durability to survive on the front lines – it’s basically a 50% increase in total HP. Heavy Earth is one of those powers everyone skims over, but you really should give it a look – it’s a surprisingly useful control power.

7 – Ardent – (Repose mantle) (Solicit Psicrystal)

*
This isn’t so useful now, but ardentpower timing is tricky, and this is really important later on.

8 – Ardent – (Telekinetic Maneuver)

*
See? Told you.

 This power is amazing. Not only do you have full ML and a very high key ability modifier, you also have Improved Grapple (for free, thank you monk), a decent unarmed damage value (again, monk + tashalatora), and Solicit Psicrystal (so you can still keep fighting or TK:Grappling other creatures). Go ahead and Force Choke someone.


9 – Ardent – (Expanded Knowledge) (Psionic Revivify, Strength of My Enemy)

*
Revivify is one of those powers you really want on your team, and you need an extra Life mantle power, so go ahead and solve two problems at once. And as for Strength of My Enemy, it’s one of the best buff powers ever printed – and you can use it with Flurry (which is already almost at the 2-attacks-no-penalty stage).

10 – Ardent – (Grip of Iron)

*
Since you’re TK:Grappling, why not give you the ability to chokeslam the Tarrasque?

11 – Ardent – (Mend Wounds)


 12 – Ardent – (Time mantle) (Expanded knowledge) (Inertial Armor, Concussive Detonation)

*
You could probably stand to get Inertial Armor online sooner, since it’s efficient as hell on a monk-type, but we’ve slotted it here. Concussive Detonation isn’t all that efficient, but it’s a useful and hard to resist blast power, should you need to switch to that style.

13 – Ardent – (Psionic Restoration)

*
Negative levels suck. Try not to get them.

14 – Ardent – (Personal Mind Blank)

*
This shuts down a lot of effects very quickly. Your Will save is very good anyway, but immunity is better.

15 – Ardent – (Expanded Knowledge) (True Metabolism, Form of Doom)

*
Go ahead and play psywar. See how well Form of Doom combines with Strength of My Enemy from earlier? And note that Solicit Psicrystal lets you shunt over one of your TK Grapples so you can continue to grab people before ripping them to shreds?

16 – Ardent – (Telekinetic Sphere)

*
Far, FAR better than it looks.

17 – Ardent – (Fate mantle, Switch Time and Life priority) (Time Regression)

*
Okay, yes, this might be a bit cheesy, but it is an amazing power, and we managed to time a mantle priority swap for when 9ths came online, so you have to concentrate on Time powers from here on out anyway.

18 – Ardent – (Snap Kick) (Temporal Accleration)

*
This could have come online sooner but it would have required a LOT of power shuffling. As it stands, your manifesting is about as good as your actions will allow, so we turn another feat on that doesn’t rely on the action economy to function. Snap Kick also helps in quickly charging up Strength of My Enemy if you’d like.

19 – Ardent – (Mass Time Hop)

*
Another one of those glorious psionic powers that does way more than it says on the label.

20 – Ardent – (Anticipatory Strike)

*
Why, no, I don’t think I like how that initiative roll turned out. Let me tell you what happens instead…

 


Snapshot:  A very plain build with very plain gear – give her +6 Con and +6 Wisdom boosters, a +5 Wisdom tome, and +4 Strength/Dexterity boosters (the Strength one is optional due to SoME, but I’m including it here for a baseline) and you’ve got 174 HP (with Share Pain effectively raising this to 261, and you have True Metabolism), 70 skill points, +15 base attack (melee +24 with Greater Magic Fang, and you have full Flurry powers and Snap Kick along with level 20 monk unarmed damage; SoME can charge this up more), saves of +14/+13/+25 (with Evasion and Personal Mind Blank). Your ardent manifester level is 20, and you have 390 power points, which is pretty damn good for psionic stamina (especially if you’ll perhaps be punching things on some rounds instead of manifesting every single action). Furthermore, using only this gear, your AC is a minimum of 35 before buffs. This is a pretty solid skeleton to operate on, particularly if you employ Telekinetic Grapple (and optionally Grip of Iron) and Solicit Psicrystal first, then switch to skirmisher or healer as requirements demand. (Solicit Psicrystal means that if you need to drop a Mend Wounds on someone, it doesn’t take too much away from your action economy.)


 



Overall Strengths: While not a truly exceptional build in any one area, the T3’s simplicity is its strength. It can slip into just about any non-expert role needed with almost no seam. The one it works best at is probably grappling, but if that isn’t needed it can do melee support, backup blasting, backup healing, and even tanking to some degree. Most of her buffs are long duration, too, so apart from SoME and Form of Doom, she doesn’t need much time to switch between these modes either. 


Overall Weaknesses: While being solid overall, she’s still a monk, and suffers from the usual monk weaknesses. This is compounded by her big trick being shut down completely with Freedom of Movement; investing in Dispelling weapons would probably be a good choice (if you try to TK Grapple and find Freedom, Solicit the power to your psicrystal and switch to punching mode).

Variants:  The mantle selections aren’t as fixed as they look. If you want to emphasize a different aspect of the ardent, you can dive right in and juggle them around; to avoid monkeying with the power timing, just make sure that if you swap a mantle, you pick powers from the new mantle at exactly the same time you had powers from the old one. The basic structure – Ardent 1 (Practiced Manifester) + Monk 2 (Monastic Training + Tashalatora) + Ardent 2-20 – is about as generic as it comes with Tashalatora, and considering how flexible the ardent is, there’s a potentially limitless range of options available to you if you wish to step down from Triple Threat territory.

RT also suggests that taking the Fate mantle earlier and grabbing Defensive Precognition might be worth it, but the power shuffling is kind of headache-worthy. Ardent is tough like that. Once you have the Fate mantle, though, a psicrown with that power is a good investment.


  


There you have it. While not gamebreakingly strong, the T3 is quite solid in an array of situations, and has enough flexibility to switch between them as needed.


 Next up: Since we’ve gone through most of The Runners Up by this point, we’ll switch to Spikes Everywhere. Let me know if you’d rather see [DH] Eat, Sleep, Gank, [RT] #1 Snoipah, or [AR] Slash And Burn. (I’m quite fond of all three of these, personally.)


 Comments are open, and be sure to leave a vote!

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.

Nice.
The Ardent doesn't get enough love, in part because as mentioned it's harder to build one. Plus it gets way fewer known powers than the psion.

I feel you should mention the Mind's Eye Substitute Powers option as a Variant: it's DM-dependent, so impossible to use in a straight build, but it has the potential to facilitate the building and/or increase the power of an Ardent.

I generally wouldn't go for the Life mantle, but it does grant some nice versatility.
Freedom would be a nice alternative, since as we know mobility is a problem for flurrying monks. But I haven't check to see how much it would impact the delicate balance of primary Mantle powers.

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
Now to go try once again to finish my Slayer PC.  *grumble*

I'm voting for the #1 Snoipah! 
"Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter." -Condoleezza Rice "My fellow Americans... I've just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes." - Ronald Reagan This user has been banned from you by the letters "O-R-C" and the numbers "2, 3, 4, and 6"
User Quotes
56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
I'd like to put my vote in for slash and burn, also this build could turn nasty quick using the essentially "custom mantle" variant
May I ask why you aren't posting these on the Giant in the Playground and Minmaxboard forums? You would get alot more discussion on those sites plus many more optimizers would get to see these fantastic builds. If you are too busy than I would be happy too (while crediting you and your group of course)
I'm voting for the #1 Snoipah!

Nice build btw, I like the Force-Choce visuals :P got me inspired
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