Looking for a non-equipment based Melee focused build

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Greetings folks!

  I find myself coming out of a so called D&D retirement for playing, and I spent a bit of time two weeks ago lazily sifting through this forum for ideas of 'really mean melee types'.   I normally am more interested in building something unique to myself, to carefully fit game world, plot, and other characters.. but this is really looking like a beer and pretzels game, with 'half-arse it' the official word for how prep is being done.  So I honestly can't bring myself to kill a ton of time into things.

  Now, I already tried one of the builds on here, the lovely and utterly broken looking Psycharnum Warrior, but it unfortunately got veto'd.  (Namely, they didn't feel the interpretation of Azure Talent was proper.)  .. Unfortunately, this is only as of a day ago, with game day rolling around sometime in this coming week.  Pity he didn't actually decide this over a week ago, when the GM was supposed to be reviewing characters, oy.

  So, I find myself turning back to the forum, and this time for help.  I'm really not in the right mindset to properly build an overpowered, but rule obeying monstrosity, and I was hoping I'd talk some folks into either taking a nod at it, or pointing me at fitting builds..

  The criteria!  We've got level 6 for starting, but -no- magical equipment, and pretty much no money.  (See also, 'Weapon and Armor of choice, but mundane.')  Elite prepicked stat spread, the 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 type.   Allowed books?  All official WOTC, but nothing that meddles in flaws/perks/disadvantages type area, so that aspect of Unearthed Arcana is out (but swapping out class powers is fine.)  I'm looking for a melee combatant that preferably isn't a 'glass cannon' (that hits real hard, but breaks real easy), and isn't a one-a-day-wonder.  Semi-consistant killing machine is more the urge, leading me to expect that most builds will likely involve Warblades or Crusaders.

  As it is, I'm going to lay out the sheet-stuff for a Heavy Crusader and Stalking Panther build from here, possibly the 'A' Game Paladin, and despite not having the wisdom needed to pick up Psychic Meditation feat, the Dream Blade as well (in case the GM can be just talked into it).. but more options are really hoped for than those.  Between the lower stats, lack of gear, and lack of flaw options, a lot of builds just aren't viable to use as they are.

  In any case, thanks for the time folks.  Here's to hoping there's some more good, broken, but rules obeying options I can run with.  

 - Shirra
I'll add more later when I get a full keyboard (phone, at the moment), but the elite array isn't "low". That's what every build in my sig uses (except the DM-only one). I wouldn't feel too bad about it.

Why is your DM saying no magic gear? The game assumes something like 13000 gp worth of gear at that point. As in, monster CRs assume magic weapons and armor.

(Without magic gear, you'd have to play a martial adept to really contribute. Thankfully there are a lot of them in the Compendium, and several more in my sig.)

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.

Without magic gear maybe a cleric/sacred fist so you rely on your hands and buffs, or for martial adept perhaps the Shadowsun Ninja PrC to aim for?
Why not go for a totemist or incarnate, if you can wrap your head around the soulmelds it would be beneficial and take some of the pressure of magic gear although your still suffering from not having the focuses and other stuff, but maybe even a build like rusty or chaingun porcupine would suffice, otherwise maybe go for vow of poverty shenanigans
...Thank you Firefox for eating yet another long reply.

I would NOT suggest doing unarmed. They actually require more investment than a typical weapon-user just to keep par. And while the Shadow Sun Ninja is awesome, it isn't what Shirra requested. Ditto for anything involving Vow of Poverty, which is also kind of intense RP-wise and thus not very good in beer-and-pretzels games unless everyone's okay with it.

I would instead suggest Andarious' Feral Druid build in my sig (note: no actual druid involved). It actually uses no equipment most of the time (since it uses Bear Warrior, and most of your gear is absorbed when you rage anyway), and it's mostly warblade-based with a touch of barbarian on the side (five rages a day is perfect for "semi-constant" on a daily ability). It uses 28 PB instead of the Elite array, but going 15/13/14/12/10/8 (pre-racial modifiers) will work just fine if you plan your skills accordingly. (Skills don't matter for the build, beyond Jump, but it's helpful to know what you're able to reach in terms of skill tricks.)

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.

While I haven't read that part build, the Feral Druid, it does sound interesting.   And as to the gear.. the GM doesn't want us going on a 'shopping spree' with new characters, but to instead earn our stuff.  In theory, we'll be able to get access to things fairly quickly, -but-, it sounds like we won't be seeing magic item stores, and we don't get to plan it out at the start.
  So the less reliant on 'spiffy' magical gear, the better.  I'm -not- to worried about finding very basic magic weapons and armor, without nifty extras but with plain bonuses, but anything like quiver's with unlimited ammo, stat boosting gear, etc.. yeah, I'm dubious on getting my hands on those any time soon.


 .. And as to why I see the Elite set as a 'low' stat build, I'm used to my old group, where we solved our issues of rolling vs equality of characters with letting the whole group roll once for stats, and everyone used the best set.  We've got two people who consistantly cranked out high rolls all the way through.  I guess it leads to bad expectations.  ;)

 - Shirra
Really, pretty much anything that's an ubercharger or AoO tank can be used sans magic gear at low levels.  Some of my favorites: Kris the Sadomasochist, an AoO tank/secondary healer that is built on survivability, but has little damage output; Lester the Molester, one of RT's builds (I hear it has stamina issues, though); the Pinball Brothers (one of Tempest's builds - it's in his sig)... Heck, I even built a Weretouched Master AoO/charger that I can look up if you'd like to take a look at that.

Evasion Tank is also worth a look, though as written, it is equipment dependent. 
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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
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When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
Power attack and two handed weapon is pretty hard to stop.  Dip a level in lion totem barbarian and you are in all likelyhood outshining the rest of your group unless they optimize.  

You won't need a whole lot more. I'd look into going lion barb 1/warblade 19, and just charging stuff, and then using manuvers when you're next to it.  

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While I haven't read that part build, the Feral Druid, it does sound interesting.   And as to the gear.. the GM doesn't want us going on a 'shopping spree' with new characters, but to instead earn our stuff.  In theory, we'll be able to get access to things fairly quickly, -but-, it sounds like we won't be seeing magic item stores, and we don't get to plan it out at the start.
  So the less reliant on 'spiffy' magical gear, the better.  I'm -not- to worried about finding very basic magic weapons and armor, without nifty extras but with plain bonuses, but anything like quiver's with unlimited ammo, stat boosting gear, etc.. yeah, I'm dubious on getting my hands on those any time soon.


 .. And as to why I see the Elite set as a 'low' stat build, I'm used to my old group, where we solved our issues of rolling vs equality of characters with letting the whole group roll once for stats, and everyone used the best set.  We've got two people who consistantly cranked out high rolls all the way through.  I guess it leads to bad expectations.  ;)

 - Shirra


Honestly, melee needs high numbers, but nothing more. Ability score boosters, enhancement bonuses, basic gear to boost AC in various circumstances... that's pretty much all ..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true">most meleeists need. Certain abilies on weapons are very common (in particular, Keen on critical-hit emphasis builds and, to a lesser extent (since it's noncore), Valorous on charge builds), but not strictly speaking required in many cases. If you think you're set for that there's not much else you'd need for the majority of melee builds I know of.

Melee needs to do one of two things in 3.5, generally: Dish out damage, or prevent the enemy from acting. The latter is kind of technical and involved and at times feels kind of weird (since it relies on Dexterity rather than Strength and benefits greatly from size increases). The former seems fine for your game. Typical damage builds in 3.5 follow one of three different patterns: Power Attackers, Two-Weapon Carriers, and martial adepts. Power Attackers generally use Power Attack with anything that makes sure it hits; the most common of these by far are Uberchargers (Power Attack + Improved Bull Rush + Shock Trooper + Leap Attack; generally likes Valorous weapons and any equipment that enhances mobility). Two-Weapon Carriers rely on amplifying the number of attacks you make and add on carrier effects of a "per hit" variety (the most common of which is Sneak Attack, but you sometimes see clever builds relying on "on critical hit" effects using kukris or double scimitars). Martial Adepts are pretty diverse, but stand as a category alone because maneuvers are clearly something different from Power Attack or per-hit boosts (well, most maneuvers are, at least).

It's quite possible to mix these styles without too much trouble. The Pinball Brothers link in my signature combines AoO tanking (the usual method of denying enemy actions) with ubercharging, for instance, while a quick search on this board for "Revenant Blade" will show you the usual ways of mixing Power Attack and Two-Weapon Carriers (Revenant Blades can treat both ends of a double scimitar as two-handed, giving amazing Power Attack results on an 18-20 base weapon that lends itself well to two-weapon fighting). And, of course, martial adepts mix well with everything.

But generally speaking, if you want straightforward damage, use Power Attack and anything to multiply that damage and anything that makes sure you hit. The Dreamblade build in my sig (one of Andarious') uses Deep Impact on Nightmare Blade attacks for this. Charge builds tend to use Shock Trooper. The Feral Druid I recommended simply makes use of overwhelming Strength and martial maneuvers.

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.

Typical damage builds in 3.5 follow one of three different patterns: Power Attackers, Two-Weapon Carriers, and martial adepts. Power Attackers generally use Power Attack with anything that makes sure it hits; the most common of these by far are Uberchargers (Power Attack + Improved Bull Rush + Shock Trooper + Leap Attack; generally likes Valorous weapons and any equipment that enhances mobility).

 (-snip-)

But generally speaking, if you want straightforward damage, use Power Attack and anything to multiply that damage and anything that makes sure you hit. The Dreamblade build in my sig (one of Andarious') uses Deep Impact on Nightmare Blade attacks for this. Charge builds tend to use Shock Trooper. The Feral Druid I recommended simply makes use of overwhelming Strength and martial maneuvers.



  Thank you for that explaination!  I had seen power attack over and over in the various builds, and kept mumbling to myself, 'But that makes it harder to hit, how is that helpful?'.  I didn't realize that they were to be attached to garunteed-hitter stuff.  Now they make a -lot- more sense.
  As it stands, with the given stats, I'm going to probably go with the straightforward ones, as opposed to two weaponers (even if 'The chainsaw that walks' approach is still terribly nifty to me.), as it'll be easier with the given stats and with the lack of gearings, I think.

  As it is, I'm tracking down the builds, to slap together on my sheets.  Aftering having one disallowed 'late', I figure having a half a dozen characters ready to rock, totally filled out on the sheets, named an' minorly backgrounded and all, will save me from any other last minute hassles.

  - Shirra
  As it stands, with the given stats, I'm going to probably go with the straightforward ones, as opposed to two weaponers (even if 'The chainsaw that walks' approach is still terribly nifty to me.), as it'll be easier with the given stats and with the lack of gearings, I think.

Actually, TWF fighters tend to be more dependent on gear than other builds.  AoO tanks require a reach weapon & armor (and a spiked gauntlet if the reach weapon isn't a chain), 2H weapons just require a weapon & armor, Sword & Boards (worst option) require a weapon, armor, and shield (which is still cheaper than a second weapon).  A TWFer requires 2 weapons, the best light armor they can find, items to help the AC even more, etc.  In all honesty, you're better off as a Spiked Chain AoO tank or Greatsword 2H ubercharger...

On second thought, you could take Tempest's advice and combine TWF with ubercharging and take the Revenant Blade PrC, found in Player's Guide to Eberron.
"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
  Thank you for that explaination!  I had seen power attack over and over in the various builds, and kept mumbling to myself, 'But that makes it harder to hit, how is that helpful?'.  I didn't realize that they were to be attached to garunteed-hitter stuff.  Now they make a -lot- more sense.


There's so much more to it than that, though you don't really need to worry about it too much if you've got something like Deep Impact or Shock Trooper on hand. Let me illustrate.

Normally, a character with a full base attack bonus, decent Strength, and a level-appropriate weapon (if you want a quick-and-dirty estimate of what your enhancement bonus "should" be, go with your level divided by four) doesn't actually need a high roll to "hit" the enemy. They can actually suffer a few penalties and still have, more or less, the same chance to hit. Meanwhile, the bonus damage they rack up from Power Attack, especially with multipliers, can easily exceed the "lost damage" that potential misses will make.

Here's a concrete example (incomplete, since I'll skip critical hits and multiple attacks on a full attack, but it shows the point well). You're a level 8 Fighter, have a +2 greatsword, and 16 base Strength with a +2 belt of Strength, and Weapon Focus. Your total attack bonus is +15, and a normal hit will deal 2d6+8 damage (average 15). However, on any given round, you won't be dealing 15 damage - your foe has AC 20, so you will hit him 75% of the time. Thus, on three rounds out of four, you'll deal 15 damage, and on one out of four you'll miss, dealing 0 damage. Therefore, you can expect to deal 75% of 15 damage, or 10 damage, on any given round.

Now let's add Power Attack to the equation - WITHOUT using auto-hit effects. If you take a -2 penalty on the attack roll, that's +4 on your damage roll. Your chances of hitting go down slightly (65% from 75%), but your damage on each of those hits goes up (19 from 15). Your expected damage is now 65% of 19 - or 12.35, which is higher than you would have gotten without Power Attack (even though it was harder to hit, the return was worth it).

(In this particular example, if you include critical hits, the "optimal" power attack is actually -4, for 13.92 expected damage; if you also include multiple hits it's actually -5 (yes, that makes your second attack horribly inaccurate, but it was inaccurate anyway - may as well make it hurt on the few chances it does hit). The math behind this is kind of tiresome to type out. I personally use a Google Spreadsheet to handle things for me on this.)

You can make this even better by looking for effects which add to your attack bonus - things like Inspire Courage or even the +2 attack from charging. (In fact, confession time: When I first read the rules about ten years ago, I read that charging increased your attack bonus but didn't increase your damage, and thought that was weird - turns out it does increase your damage, if you use Power Attack. If you're a warrior-type with a good attack bonus, then that +2 translates into extra fodder for Power Attack. In the above example, having +2 attack changes the optimal Power Attack to -5 on a single hit.)

Other things which add to your attack bonus can fuel Power Attack as well, even in places you don't expect - the Deft Opportunist feat, for instance, adds +4 on all of your attacks of opportunity, which are already all made at your full attack bonus, so you can also read that feat as "+8 damage on AoOs". You can even go the other way and look at ways of lowering your opponent's AC if you want - check the Dead for Nothing link in my signature and read up on Hadyn, for instance.

I hope that's helpful.

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.

Indeed it is!  Not only on reminding one to be a bit more tactical minded, but in knowing the how/why of it.  Thanks muchly for that.    Character building time! 

 - Shirra
Indeed it is!  Not only on reminding one to be a bit more tactical minded, but in knowing the how/why of it.  Thanks muchly for that.    Character building time! 

 - Shirra

I'm fairly certain the reminder isn't necessary, but just in case: If you have questions, feel free to ask!
"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