Building the Detective

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I posted a similar inquiry over on the Eberron board, thinking the collective setting knowledge might be of some benefit, but I've received nothing. So I turn here.

My goal: to build an effective House Medani Inquisitive for an Eberron home game. Here is a description of the characteristics of such a rake that I pulled from eberronunlimited: "When secrets and plots are as much the coin of the realm as the galifar, the value of the counter-spy cannot be undervalued. From the inquisitive sleuths that simply observe the scene of a crime and gain seemingly unnaturally canny insights as to what happened, to the risk taking playboy lifestyle of an agent tasked with discovering what nefarious plot is being devised and putting a stop to it before it has time to come to fruition, you are a Medani. While your character may never have heard of Sherlock Holmes or James Bond, they would doubtlessly see both men as brothers, cut from the same cloth as himself."

Such a character, in my view, should be trained in Insight, Perception, and Streetwise, for sure. Possibly Thievery and certainly at least one CHA skill (probably Bluff over Diplomacy, but I can see both as possibilities). He should have access to Ritual Casting. Bard and Half-elf seem natural choices--to say nothing of the fact that Half-elf and Medani go together the way the designers intended. BUT, Mark of Finding is a heaping pile of a dragonmark feat and is particularly ineffective for a Bard. Furthermore, I don't buy into the Prescient Bard build and what it gives up in its WIS investment, but I can't figure out other ways to sufficiently cover those WIS skills so central to the concept (though I suppose Bard of All Trades might be a fix for this; but that begs the question of burning feat slots that I may need elsewhere). Medani Trueseer is an unappealing PP.

Have others tried building a character of this nature and done so effectively? If so, what choices have you made?
Bard who MC's into Sorcerer can pick up Sorcerous Vision - that lets you use Arcana for Insight/Perception.

Honestly, I'd likely look into Bard/Resourceful Magician MC Swordmage/Sorcerer. I'd also be sure to train in relevant skills, not necessarily skills you think belong. As an example, my Bard is trained in Acrobatics - because there's a benefit to being trained in Acrobatics, but not Diplomacy. Bard of All Trades resolves the Diplomacy skill check problem nicely enough, though.
It should be noted that, for 4e purposes, Medani and Half-Elf are not "intended." Any race can be part of any house in Eberron's 4e, by intention. The developers opened it up on purpose.

As for the build, Arcana can cover nearly every skill in the game with the right classes. Bard, being able to MC into multiple classes, can cover all of that. Plus you can abuse the fun RAW loophole in Resourceful Magician to get eight Cantrips.
For detectives, Avenger is the natural fit. WIS/INT, can snatch up the relevant skills pretty easily, they even like being half-elves and Scholars.



Wait, capital-S Scholars? Meaning the theme? That's the theme on my favorite character (and I wouldn't trade it for anything), but he's almost comically unoptimized (I'll just say "Runepriest MC Bard" and leave it there). Never thought I'd see it actually recommended in CharOp. What do Avengers like about it?
The Traveler's Insight feat is so great combined with Scholar, as well. It's my favorite combo.

The idea is that Scholar's feature lets you learn all core languages and Traveler's Insight gives you a feat bonus to Insight equal to the number of languages known.
As far as key abilities and skills go, I would cast my net a bit further.  Inquisitor-type characters in popular media are usually portrayed as being extremely smart and/or knowledgeable.  And its usually be combining their observations with past knowledge that they get their greatest epiphanies.  So I would add Intelligence and all the knowledge skills to the list of considerations. 

And, yes, that seems counter-intuitive to narrowing down this character build to something manageable.  But bare with me.

The Legend Lore skill power allows you to replace History for a knowledge check once per encounter, and the Arcane Mutterings skill power allows you to replace Arcana for a social skill with the same frequency.  It is a bit of an investment though.  You'll need to take these two specific skills, devote your 2nd level utility power, and probably pick up the Skill Power feat while you're at it.  But with a decent focus on int, you can effectively turn two skill into eight (arcana, bluff, diplomacy, dungeoneering, history, intimidate, nature, religion).  Or at least do so often enough to have profound flashes of Holmes-y brilliance.  And you can then focus on Wis to up your perception and insight checks.  Streetwise is left out of the loop, you can still cover that with the Seek Rumour ritual to use Arcana instead.

Also, a focus on Int also opens up some additional class and build options.  Avengers (Wis/Int), Invokers (Wis/Int), wizards (Int/Cha and Int/Wis), Artificers (Int/Wis), Warlocks (Cha/Int), Shamans (Wis/Int), Psions (Int/Cha and Int/Wis) as well as cunning bards (Cha/Int) are all excellent options as far as primary stats are concerned.  Though if you'd rather skip Int, Clerics (Wis/Cha) and Paladin (Cha/Wis) could possibly work.  Either way, you have more options than just Prescient Bard.

There are also some themes that work very well with this type of character.  Seer is very effective.  At 5th level, you get a bonus to Insight and Bluff, and at 10th, you always roll Perception twice.  And the powers are pretty nice too.  Guttersnipe is a solid theme, and at 10th level you get an sizable power bonus to Streetwise and the ability to make a free action Streetwise check 1/day.  Very nice if you can wait that long.  And Scholars get bonus languages and skills.

Thinking about creating a race for 4e? Make things a lil' easier on yourself by reading my Race Mechanic Creation Guide first.
..and nevermind the little detail that whomever you play with at a table will hate this character, but I guess that comes with wanting to be Sherlock Holmes.



An indicated level start would be useful information, as for example there is a paragon path that allows you to base all Int/Wis/Cha skills on one of the three.   
I suggest tacking Divine Identification (from the Strange Gods article in D398) on as well.



I don't see this in the Compendium, but the name intrigues me. Would you be so kind as to elaborate a bit?
I'm looking to play this character from level 1. But, of course, I'm thinking ahead to PP possibilities, etc. Nevertheless, I want to see how close I can get to this archetype at low levels, and do so with as effective a character as possible.
And it's good advice, erachima, strongly under consideration. My post was in response to another, earlier inquiry.
Does anyone think Ardent may be a viable option for such a character?
I have a WIS/CHA Ardent made myself that's not bad, and has a number of the skills you're talking about (Insight and Bluff focus). You won't have much luck for INT skills though since it's a massive dump stat.
Many thanks to all who posted advice, especially Fireclave, erachima, and Alcestis. I've vacillated for several days examining different iterations, and here is what I came up with. Is it the most optimized of characters? Hell, no! But it should play moderately effectively and do so within the confines of the concept, which is of higher value to me in this case than pure optimization. I couldn't quite pull everything off for 1st level, so here it is at 2nd. Any additional input is, of course, welcome.


====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Maycroft d'Medani, level 2
Half-Elf, Bard
Build: Cunning Bard
Bardic Virtue Option: Virtue of Cunning
Eldritch Strike Option: Eldritch Strike Charisma
Signs of Influence Option: Travel in Style
Signs of Influence Option: Demand Audience
Half-Elf Power Selection Option: Dilettante
Detective (Detective Benefit)
Theme: Scholar

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 14, DEX 10, INT 16, WIS 12, CHA 18

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 12, DEX 10, INT 16, WIS 12, CHA 16


AC: 18 Fort: 14 Ref: 16 Will: 17
HP: 31 Surges: 9 Surge Value: 7

TRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +9, History +9, Insight +10, Nature +7, Perception +8

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +1, Athletics +0, Bluff +6, Diplomacy +8, Dungeoneering +3, Endurance +3, Heal +3, Intimidate +6, Religion +5, Stealth +1, Streetwise +6, Thievery +1

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Scholar Utility: Use Vulnerability
Bard Feature: Majestic Word
Bard Feature: Words of Friendship
Warlock Attack 1: Eldritch Strike
Bard Attack 1: Staggering Note
Bard Attack 1: Vicious Mockery
Bard Attack 1: Blunder
Bard Attack 1: Stirring Shout
Warlock Attack 1: Eyebite
History Utility 2: Legend Lore
Arcana Utility 2: Arcane Mutterings

FEATS
Level 1: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Battle Song Expertise
Level 2: Skill Power

ITEMS
Ritual Book
Glib Limerick
Hold Portal
Wand of Psychic Ravaging +1 x1
Short sword x1
Dagger
Magic Hide Armor +1 x1
Amulet of Mental Resolve +1 x1
Adventurer's Kit
Seek Rumor
Last Sight Vision
Residuum (Any)
Standard Identification Papers
Inquisitive's Kit
Travel Papers
Disguise Kit
Foaming Plaster
====== End ======


 
Apologies in advance to those offended by thread necro.

Since it looks like this story will finally get started soon, I thought I would post the 11th level iteration of this character, with a few tweaks, with hope for any additional input, advice, etc. I believe the game will begin at level 2, and I'm particularly interested in the order of feats. Many thanks for any aid!

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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Maycroft d'Medani, level 11
Half-Elf, Bard, Life Singer
Build: Cunning Bard
Bardic Virtue Option: Virtue of Cunning
Signs of Influence Option: Demand Audience
Signs of Influence Option: Travel in Style
Eldritch Strike Option: Eldritch Strike Charisma
Half-Elf Power Selection Option: Dilettante
Adventurer's Scion (Adventurer's Scion Benefit)
Theme: Scholar

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 9, CON 16, DEX 11, INT 19, WIS 12, CHA 21

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 13, DEX 10, INT 16, WIS 11, CHA 16


AC: 24 Fort: 20 Ref: 22 Will: 26
HP: 78 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 19

TRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +16, Bluff +15, History +16, Insight +13, Nature +13, Perception +11

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +5, Athletics +4, Diplomacy +13, Dungeoneering +9, Endurance +8, Heal +7, Intimidate +11, Religion +12, Stealth +5, Streetwise +13, Thievery +5

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Scholar Utility: Use Vulnerability
Bard Feature: Majestic Word
Bard Feature: Words of Friendship
Warlock Attack 1: Eldritch Strike
Bard Attack 1: Staggering Note
Bard Attack 1: Vicious Mockery
Bard Attack 1: Blunder
Bard Attack 1: Stirring Shout
History Utility 2: Legend Lore
Bard Attack 3: Echoing Weapon
Bard Attack 5: Song of Discord
Perception Utility 6: Guided Shot
Bard Attack 7: Prescient Warning
Bard Attack 9: Counterpoint
Scholar Utility 10: Defensive Lore
Life Singer Attack 11: Pacifying Voice

FEATS
Level 1: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Bardic Knowledge
Level 2: Battle Song Expertise
Level 4: Advantage of Cunning
Level 6: Armor Proficiency: Ring Mail
Level 8: Superior Implement Training (Accurate wand)
Level 10: Superior Will
Level 11: Versatile Master

ITEMS
Ritual Book
Traveler's Chant
Comrades' Succor
Tactician's Ring Mail +2 x1
Master's Accurate wand of Vicious Mockery +2 x1
Farbond Spellblade Longsword +3 x1
Amulet of Physical Resolve +2 x1
Last Sight Vision
Inquisitive's Eyes
Eavesdropper's Foil
Breach Disguise
Discern Lies
Find Traps
Object Reading
Residuum (Any)
History Revealed
Flute
====== End ======

Bard of all Trades is better than Bardic Knowledge.

Tactician's Armor doesn't seem that useful. Armor slot is pretty competitive. I'd use that feat to MC Swordmage, switch to using Daggers as an implement/weapon/ranged (all-in-one solution), and take Rhyme of the Bloodseeking Blade as your E3.

Initially MC via Arcane Prodigy, but @11 retrain into Heart of the Blade (adding another trained skill and getting a neat feature).

No reason not have a Light Shield, now that you only ever need one weapon. Obviously change SIP to Accurate Dagger. If you wan to abuse RAW a bit you can use a Rhythm Blade Spiked Shield and effective be using a Heavy Shield for only the penalties of a Light Shield. Order today!

Illlusary Erasure and Mantle of Unity are to good to pass up @10. On average Mantle of Unity will be stirctly better than the daily you picked, except it is every encounter.

I'd take Perfect Recall over Legend Lore. Actually I'd take Moment of Escape.
Thanks for your reply and suggestions, Alcestis. While I certainly agree that Bard of All Trades is generally a better feat, this build looks to maximize arcana (and also history, though not relevant here) checks, especially looking to build upon the features of the scholar theme and adventurer's scion background for monster checks, etc. (and hence Legend Lore over Moment of Escape or Perfect Recall). Do you think I err in this calculation?

If I swap out the armor feat for the multiclass feat (and retrain) you suggest, what armor would you recommend in its place? For that matter, any obvious items I'm missing? (And do you suggest light shield/dagger combo over equipping the master's wand and a weapon? Is there any reason to wield a weapon and a wand, or should I look to replace the accurate superior implement feat, thus opening up a slot?)
You should take High Imaskar as your background, then. This is another area where Half-Elf is hurting you, not giving you a racial bonus to skill(s) you care about. Realistically with a roll+replacement roll for Arcana, you're going to be hitting easy and medium DCs 99% of the time, with or without Bardic Knowledge. Sherlock Holmes greatest strength was he always knew what he needed to know, that says Bard of all Trades far more to me.

Battle Harness for an initiative boost or one of the +Arcana armors (Runic is the best one, I think).

Ioun's Revelation would be a good pick-up if you're allowed Divine Boons.

Yes, because maintaining two weapons at attack-levels is expensive. Just the dagger is a huge benefit and I said to retrain SIP to Accurate Dagger.
Aside from high perception, diplomacy, bluff, streetwise skills pc needs..truly its the Player who must have the mind of a investigator to make that role work. Imo.
Okay, here's the latest update, taking into account most of Alcestis's suggestions. I do have one further question: Does anyone think Knack for Success/extra feat slot might actually be a better choice than Dilettante Eldritch Strike/Versatile Master on this leader? I doubt it since it gives up the sole melee attack it has, but I'm just curious if anyone thinks the leader-y elements of KfS are in the same ballpark of usefulness.

Show

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Maycroft d'Medani, level 11
Half-Elf, Bard, Life Singer
Build: Cunning Bard
Eldritch Strike Option: Eldritch Strike Charisma
Bardic Virtue Option: Virtue of Cunning
Signs of Influence Option: Demand Audience
Signs of Influence Option: Travel in Style
Half-Elf Power Selection Option: Dilettante
Proficiency: Implement Proficiency (Orb)
Adventurer's Scion (Adventurer's Scion Benefit)
Theme: Scholar

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 9, CON 16, DEX 11, INT 19, WIS 12, CHA 21

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 8, CON 13, DEX 10, INT 16, WIS 11, CHA 16


AC: 25 Fort: 20 Ref: 23 Will: 26
HP: 78 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 19

TRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +11, Arcana +16, Athletics +10, History +16, Insight +15, Nature +13, Perception +13

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Bluff +16, Diplomacy +18, Dungeoneering +12, Endurance +13, Heal +12, Intimidate +16, Religion +15, Stealth +10, Streetwise +16, Thievery +10

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Scholar Utility: Use Vulnerability
Bard Feature: Majestic Word
Bard Feature: Words of Friendship
Warlock Attack 1: Eldritch Strike
Bard Attack 1: Staggering Note
Bard Attack 1: Vicious Mockery
Bard Attack 1: Blunder
Bard Attack 1: Stirring Shout
History Utility 2: Strategist's Epiphany
Bard Attack 3: Rhyme of the Blood-Seeking Blade
Bard Attack 5: Song of Discord
Perception Utility 6: Guided Shot
Bard Attack 7: Prescient Warning
Bard Attack 9: Counterpoint
Bard Utility 10: Mantle of Unity
Life Singer Attack 11: Pacifying Voice

FEATS
Level 1: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Bard of All Trades
Level 2: White Lotus Dueling Expertise
Level 4: Advantage of Cunning
Level 6: Heart of the Blade
Level 8: Superior Implement Training (Accurate dagger)
Level 10: Superior Will
Level 11: Versatile Master

ITEMS
Ritual Book
Traveler's Chant
Comrades' Succor
Amulet of Physical Resolve +2 x1
Last Sight Vision
Inquisitive's Eyes
Eavesdropper's Foil
Breach Disguise
Discern Lies
Find Traps
History Revealed
Object Reading
Residuum (Any)
Flute
Light Shield x1
Runic Hide Armor +2 x1
Jagged Accurate dagger +3 x1
Ioun's Revelation (level 3)
Sitar of Restfulness
Orb of Nimble Thoughts +2
====== End ======

Why'd you change your expertise feat? White Lotus won't apply to the weapon powers you took. Battlesong does and has a useful side-benefit in increasing your forced movement....

You messed up your stats a bit there.

I'd stick with Eldritch Strike. Having an MBA is just useful.
The point where you start thinking about taking Knack for Success should probably be the point where you start to consider other races. I know KfS is a decent power, but there's probably a better race out there for you if you don't need dilettante.
Alcestis, you think 12/12 for Con/Wis is better than 13/11? Or do you mean something else about the stats?

I changed to WLDE over BSE because the CB wasn't applying the feat's bonus to any attack but Eldritch Strike. (I know the CB is not a rules source, but I thought the problem may not be a glitch but the wording of the respective feats ... "any weapon or implement with which you have proficiency" (WLDE) vs. "any weapon with which you have proficiency and with a wand or another item designated as a bard implement" (BSE).) Does seem screwy to me, but....

The Knack for Success business was mostly a thought experiment. I suppose somewhere on some character it must be as useful as Dilettante... 
STR 9, CON 16, DEX 11, INT 19, WIS 12, CHA 21

^Those are the stats in your build. Con 16? That is what I meant by "messed up."

The builder has a known error re: BSE. It hardly ever applies the bonus correctly.
I thought the BSE issue was the CB and not me, but I doubted myself. The stat line is correct; starting stats: STR 8 (+1 tier) --> 9, CON 13 (+2 race, +1 tier) --> 16, DEX 10 (+1 tier) -->11, INT 16 (+2 level bumps, +1 tier) --> 19, WIS 11 (+1 tier) --> 12, Cha 16 (+2 race, +2 level bumps, +1 tier) --> 21.

Thank you for all your help!