Weekly Optimization Showcase: Uberflank

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Sorry for the brief delay in getting this up - but there's two this week! And we're trying out the new format, so the build itself is much more condensed for ease of reading. Let me know if it doesn't work. 

Administratively, I'm doing two different things here. One of the builds (Uberflank) uses the new format. The other (Flip the Bird) uses the old format. Both employ a spacing change fix, but I'm not sure which format is more useful to you as a reader. (Old format has level-by-level commentary interspaced with the build, new one has the build presented in a single place with attached commentary). Let me know which one you prefer and we'll use that on future builds.

Before I start, I'd like to say that it's pure coincidence that we have two Kenku builds this week. They'd make wonderful partners, though - hilariously so, in fact. Go ahead and read the MM3's section on Kenku in Eberron; we discovered how perfectly that fit these builds after we wrote them.


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, Andarious helps himself by helping others.


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


UBERFLANK
I got your back.


Required Books: Tome of Battle, Complete Warrior, Complete Adventurer, Monster Manual 3, possibly Complete Scoundrel (if you want skill tricks).
Unearthed Arcana used: None!


Background: This is another concept build – and the low requirements showcase it as Andarious’ style. The nutshell idea was to get as serious a flanking bonus as possible, and to do so reliably. Most of these apply to the self as well, so you aren’t really as selfless as it seems. This is a pretty straightforward task, but the results can be rather impressive when amalgamated.


And yes, that tagline is both a show of support and a thinly veiled threat, depending on who you’re speaking to.


The Basics



  • Race: Kenku (MM3). These guys are hilariously under-used (unless you’re the Radical Taoist, in which case they show up about as often as any non-human). Here, the main emphasis is on the Dexterity bonus and Great Ally. If you can’t use Kenku, my preferred replacement remains Strongheart Halfling. (If you use the bonus feat to nab Vexing Flanker, you’ve got the same results as with the kenku; you can’t combine Great Ally and Vexing Flanker, sadly.)

  • Ability Scores: 12/16/14/10/11/8, before ability modifiers (+2 Dex, -2 Strength). The build’s focusedon single-ability Dexterity wherever possible – thank you, Tome of Battle – so you pump that at every opportunity, including tomes.However, you have many abilities keyed off of other ability scores: any items that boost Intelligence and Wisdom (including the obvious tome on the 11 Wisdom) help, but aren’t your primary focus – pick up the wizard’s or monk’s leftovers and you’ll be fine. (We snapshot using these, but they’re optional.)


Skill Notes: This is pretty flexible, but a sample loadout maxes out Tumble and Escape Artist (so nothing stops you from getting into a helpful position), putting several ranks into Hide and Move Silently (we snapshot it at 18 ranks, which is plenty for a non-primary stealther, especially with kenku’s racial stealth bonuses), and putting the rest of the points into Listen and Sense Motive, to aid with out-of-combat effects. If you’re investing in skill tricks, three good ones with this loadout are Easy Escape around level 5, Nimble Stand at 6th, and Quick Escape at 9th, but several other movement or sensory tricks are possible.If you’re playing from a low level, you might want to put ranks into Jump and retrain them later; at higher levels simple items should be enough.


Basic Equipment: You’re going to buy two short swords or daggers. There’s not much flexibility here – you need two weapons (although the second can wait until base attack and feats allow), and they have to be favored weapons of the Shadow Hand discipline, which cuts your options pretty short. Armorwise, you’re good with leather or studded leather to start (chain shirts are fine early on if you can stomach the check penalty), but you’ll quickly outgrow the max dex of light armor, so don’t over-invest in it.


Magical Gear Goals: Equip yourself like a sneak attacker – MIC augment gems are cheap and very good at this job, and the sword of subtlety (DMG) is a great investment in any case. If you can score Gloves of the Balanced Hands, you can possibly save a feat; see the variants section for what to do in this case. Otherwise, you’re basically a combat rogue with ToB levels – this isn’t a hard area to anticipate gear-wise.



The Build.
Build Stub: Swordsage 4 / Swashbuckler 8 / Rogue 2 / Nightsong Enforcer 6.


1 – Swordsage – (Quick to Act +1, Discipline Focus: Weapon Focus (Shadow Hand))(Shadow Blade) (Wolf Fang Strike, Sudden Leap, Burning Blade, Distracting Ember, Counter Charge, Sapphire Nightmare Blade) (Island of Blades
2 – Swashbuckler – (Weapon Finesse)
3 – Swashbuckler – (Grace +1)
4 – Swashbuckler – (Insightful Strike
5 – Swashbuckler
6 – Swashbuckler – (Dodge +1)(Combat Reflexes)
7 – Swashbuckler
8 – Swordsage – (AC Bonus) (Cloak of Deception, Assassin’s Stance)
9 – Swashbuckler – (Acrobatic Charge) (Daring Outlaw)
10 – Swashbuckler – (Improved Flanking)
11 – Swordsage – (Hand of Death)
12 – Rogue – (Sneak Attack +1d6, Trapfinding) (Improved Initiative)
13 – Rogue – (Evasion, Dodge +2)
14 – Swordsage – (Discipline Focus: Insightful Strike (Tiger Claw))(Dancing Mongoose, Pouncing Charge replaces Sapphire Nightmare Blade)
15 – Nightsong Enforcer – (Teamwork (See/Hear Allies), Sneak Attack +6d6)(Improved Two-Weapon Fighting)
16 – Nightsong Enforcer – (Agility Training)
17 – Nightsong Enforcer – (Skill Teamwork +2)
18 – Nightsong Enforcer – (Sneak Attack +7d6) (Adaptive Style)
19 – Nightsong Enforcer – (Flanking Teamwork)
20 – Nightsong Enforcer – (Opportunist)


Build Notes

:
Level 1
Island + Shadow Blade + Discipline Focus gives a surprisingly good offense at level 1, particularly if delivered via Wolf Fang Strike.

Distracting Ember gives you a flanking buddy throughout your entire career – with Great Ally, that’s a swift action for +4 on your attacks, and later on will allow you to generate flanking bonuses while solo.


Your other maneuvers are good general-purpose moves (Sudden Leap is cheap swift-action mobility, Counter Charge is just mean with high Dexterity, and Sapphire Nightmare Blade helps against other high-Dexterity targets). Your stance is your primary battle stance for most of the build; Island + Great Ally gives you a pretty big shadow in tight quarters.

Level 2
You’re a level 2 character with 18 Dexterity, Weapon Finesse, Shadow Blade, and Discipline Focus. Trigger Distracting Ember or flank with a buddy and you’ve got a +10 attack bonus, with each attack dealing 1d6+4 damage (possibly doubled-up at +8/+8 with Wolf Fang Strike). That’s a pretty meaty offense for a non-primary warrior at this level.
Level 4
You get two abilities named “insightful strike” and they do different things, oddly enough; neither is your primary focus, more like a nice secondary benefit if you’re using good equipment. Also oddly, Swashbuckler was not included for this ability, but it’s of course nice when you have it.
Level 6
You could grab Improved Initiative or Adaptive Style here instead if you find that more useful. Your low reach makes Combat Reflexes less appealing than usual but it’s still useful.
Level 8
Oddly, you don’t truly need Assassin’s as a primary stance: Island of Blades will be more effective, especially in group situations, since you can flank from just about anywhere. But if you’re soloing (with Distracting Ember), have a flanking situation already, or are using Cloak of Deception, it’s about time you got some sneak attack damage.
Level 9
Daring Outlaw requires Assassin’s Stance to be active, but it’s a surprisingly nice ability. Without any Rogue levels but with 7 Swashbuckler levels at this point, if you activate Assassin’s (and gain Daring Outlaw’s benefit), you can instantly pick up 6d6 sneak attack, which is a nice, solid boost of killing power.

Acrobatic Charge is also a nice ability, but we won’t be using it for a bit. Remember it for now.

Level 10
This is purely selfish, but every time you get a flanking partner, you get an extra +2 now.
Level 11
This is a maneuver you won’t use all that often, but it’s a nice one when you do pull it off (assuming you have +Wisdom gear). An alternative that might see more use is Shadow Garotte, although I wouldn’t stress about this choice since your other maneuvers compete for precious readied maneuver slots.
Level 12
You could move this earlier and grab Combat Reflexes or Adaptive Style here, depending on how your game unfolds. It’s a nice feat on its own, but we’re looking at it as a prerequisite.
Level 13
Daring Outlaw strikes again!
Level 14
If it seems odd to you that Swordsage shows up like this, it’s a result of ToBmulticlassing rules – we needed the IL. Likewise, your maneuvers at this point are what governs your choice of Insightful Strike: Any +Wisdom you have now applies to Pouncing Charge, Wolf Fang Strike, and, under some readings, Dancing Mongoose.

Also, remember Acrobatic Charge? It’s really sweet if you do Dancing Mongoose + Pouncing Charge at this point. You’re in the four-attacks-a-round range now with TWF (or six with Dancing Mongoose), and it can help you move between packs of enemies if your party is split up. (If you’re lacking a flanking buddy at the other end, use Distracting Ember instead.) You’re able to Sneak Attack for +5d6 if you’re in Assassin’s Stance, so your killing power isn’t as weak as it looks.

Level 15
The sudden jump in Sneak Attack is because you no longer need Assassin’s Stance to benefit from Daring Outlaw. You’ll still switch to Assassin’s as appropriate, but you no longer rely upon it for killing. Improved TWF causes you to jump to five attacks per round (or seven with Dancing Mongoose) on your Pouncing Charges or full attacks, and with Distracting Ember or Cloak of Deception, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to deliver your meaty new Sneak Attack on each of those hits.
Level 18
This is used as swordsage maneuver recovery more than maneuver style switching, but it’s still a good feat. It can come online earlier depending on where you place Improved Initiative; it’s likely Combat Reflexes will fall to this point instead. If you shift it earlier, replacements for this level can include Extra Granted Maneuver or Greater Two-Weapon Fighting (provided you aren’t using Gloves of the Balanced Hands).
Level 20
A third Rogue level gives +1 reflex (via Daring Outlaw), +4 skill points, and most notably +1d6 Sneak Attack (getting it up to +10d6 with Assassin’s Stance) in place of Opportunist and 2 hit points, but I think the extra AoO outweighs that, especially because of your heavy flanking bonuses improving your allies’ chances to hit.


Snapshot: We’re toming Dexterity by 5 and Wisdom by 1, and packing +6 items on Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom. (Swashbuckler’s Insightful Strike isn’t getting any love here, but you do still have it and it isn’t halved off-hand like Strength, so keep that in mind, particularly if you fight enemies with +Intelligence equipment.). With this loadout, you’re looking at 199 hit points, +18 base attack (melee +36 with Greater Magic Weapon, with a full attack routine of +34/+34/+29/+29/+24/+19 (with Dancing Mongoose, Combat Reflexes, and Opportunist for extra hits, and with Acrobatic Charge and Pouncing Charge to use that more frequently), and base melee damage of 1d6+17; if you’re using a Tiger Claw move you get an extra +3 damage per hit), and saves of +14/+27 (Evasion)/+12. You have an initiator level of 12, which matters for Burning Blade, and you finish off with 114 overall skill points from reasonably generous lists.


Class-feature wise, you’re packing Sneak Attack +7d6 and use either Island of Blades (far easier flanking) or Assassin’s Stance (+9d6 total Sneak Attack) as necessary. You have five readied maneuvers; which set you’re using depends on whether you’re operating solo or in a group. Your default (group mode) is probably Burning Blade, Wolf Fang Strike, Pouncing Charge, Dancing Mongoose, and either Sudden Leap or Cloak of Deception. Operating alone, you need to provide your own flanking partners, so you switch to Wolf Fang Strike, Distracting Ember, Cloak of Deception, Pouncing Charge and either Counter Charge or Hand of Death. Adaptive Style lets you switch around as necessary, but functionally will let you reload a bit quicker (you can use Opportunist and Combat Reflexes to keep the damage coming on Adaptive Style rounds, not to mention your passive flanking benefits).


Finally, we come to your namesake: flanking bonuses. Normal flanking bonuses are +2 to you and +2 to your buddies. Uberflank laughs at this – Great Ally, Improved Flanking, and Flanking Teamwork increase those to +7 to you and +3 to your allies. You also pack Distracting Ember (so you can flank with yourself) and Opportunist (so if anyone takes advantage of the +3, you say hello with a sneak attack).



Overall Strengths: Passive teamwork support from early levels, definitely encouraging the group to operate together and be aware of placement opportunities. Powerful Sneak Attacks (one die short of full Rogue, although they are a bit back-loaded) and nearly full base attack is something anyone’s got to take seriously.Positively sickening flanking bonuses – if it helps, this basically converts the 1st level Island of Blades stance into the 8th level Swarm Tactics stance, except you can continue to supply bonuses of that magnitude with Assassin’s Stance with the right placement or boosts. Your saving throws are also quite good as a baseline, but that’s no excuse to get sloppy on the defenses.


Overall Weaknesses: Most dramatically, this build is foiled outright by Improved Uncanny Dodge or other abilities which prevent flanking. These aren’t amazingly common, but it means that rogues, barbarians, warblades, and certain prestige classes are your primary bane, and you should be cautious around certain monsters as well. It also inherits most of the same weaknesses a TWF rogue does – namely, the need for full attacks (although your boosts help with these a lot and you’ve got Pouncing Charge) and caution around fortified enemies (MIC crystals can help here, but it can be difficult to switch them on two weapons at once if you’re caught with your pants down mid-combat). Also, curiously, you lack Uncanny Dodge of your own, so you’re especially vulnerable while flat-footed.


Variants: You can save a feat with Gloves of the Balanced Hands, flaws, or playing a Strongheart Halfling (though this costs you Great Ally, and you might want to use Vexing Flanker to get the bonuses back up). This allows you to shift up Improved Initiative and/or Adaptive Style earlier, and saves you a slot for other possibilities, such as Greater TWF (if you find the insane flanking bonuses are good enough to let that hit, and didn’t shave ITWF with the Gloves) or Extra Readied Maneuver.


A particularly twisted variant, but one that requires a bonus feat to pull off early (and is thus best used if you’re a Strongheart Halfling instead of a Kenku), is to employ a spiked chain. It is, weirdly, the only two-handed Shadow Hand weapon, and its reach helps provide more flanking benefits than normal (albeit not due to Island of Blades, which requires you to be adjacent rather than merely threatening your target). The reach is the big thing (more threatened area = more flanking angles and more use of Combat Reflexes); you can also possibly look into Setting Sun throws with this as well (switch Wolf Fang Strike for Mighty Throw – don’t view it as a throw, view it as a Dexterity-based trip that can pull targets into dogpiling positions). If you do this, consider replacing Two Weapon Fighting with, of all things, Power Attack – you won’t be getting flurries of sneak attacks without the second weapon (particularly because Dancing Mongoose is half as effective), but you will be able to switch your +7 flanking bonus and the +4 prone-target bonus into extra damage when needed. (This approach emphasizes the high attack bonus more than the high sneak attack damage, and isn’t in the main build because honestly, spiked chains are over-used.).



There you have it. I don't think it's possible to get your personal flanking bonuses any higher than this while still remaining effective elsewhere.


Next up: Hop on over to Flip the Bird to discuss next week's plans! But leave a comment here on Uberflank as well. For a real laugh, combine the two...

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)

 

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 find myself less than impressed, sadly.
The build does what it was designed to do (flank bonuses through the roof) with panache, but it seems (to me, at least) to sacrifice too much in order to do it.
1) I understand and applaud that it's a much quicker starter than many builds, but it seems to sacrifice a quick start for less power at the end.
A) With the dearth of swordsage levels, it would seem to make sense to put ss1 at level 5 so you can get 2nd-level maneuvers right off the bat.
B) Why have an even number of swashbuckler + rogue levels? Wouldn't it make more sense to snag a level of something else instead of the second rogue level?

Observations re: the Chain variant:
1) How would you go about getting the STR 13 required for Power Attack? Does the Strongheart Halfling get a Strength bonus?
2) This requires a RAI interpretation by the DM, but dual-wielding kusari-gama would work well. Better than a spiked chain (iirc) if the DM allows it to count as a Shadow Hand weapon. Doesn't the swashbuckler's Insightful Strike only apply to light weapons & rapiers?
3) Another easy way to get the extra feat required for a chain fighter would be a level of fighter instead of that second level of rogue.
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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
Would the feat rogue varient work with daring outlaw? All it says it that levels stack for determining SA damage, but it doesn't actually say anything about the rogue level earning the SA.
1) I understand and applaud that it's a much quicker starter than many builds, but it seems to sacrifice a quick start for less power at the end. A) With the dearth of swordsage levels, it would seem to make sense to put ss1 at level 5 so you can get 2nd-level maneuvers right off the bat. B) Why have an even number of swashbuckler + rogue levels? Wouldn't it make more sense to snag a level of something else instead of the second rogue level?


The early start is kind of by design here - this way you can use it at games that aren't likely to last until the super-high levels. Low level play is important. With that out of the way:

A: Look at which maneuvers we're interested in. You don't need to put off swordsage to get them - they're all level 1 and 2, and the only reason we'd need the 2nd level one at all is to trigger Sneak Attack on our own (so it's useless until we get an array of sneak attack).
B: Consider it this way: Swashbuckler was picked early on to get attack bonuses high without needing to compensate with gear - gear you often can't afford until later on. Once Swordsage comes online with Assassin's, Swashbuckler levels are as good as rogue levels for Sneak Attack, so we keep it up until Improved Flanking comes online. Rogue 2 ges us into Nightsong Enforcer (requires Evasion); Nightsong Enforcer is nearly as good as rogue for sneak attack, but is full base attack again, so we keep going on that front. And we only have enough room for Nightsong 6 - which gives us Opportunist, which is in my opinion much better than +1d6 sneak attack at that point. It's not like we're violating some Daring Outlaw timing law - it's more that we're picking things auxiliary to Daring Outlaw, and the sneak attack just happens.

Observations re: the Chain variant: 1) How would you go about getting the STR 13 required for Power Attack? Does the Strongheart Halfling get a Strength bonus? 2) This requires a RAI interpretation by the DM, but dual-wielding kusari-gama would work well. Better than a spiked chain (iirc) if the DM allows it to count as a Shadow Hand weapon. Doesn't the swashbuckler's Insightful Strike only apply to light weapons & rapiers? 3) Another easy way to get the extra feat required for a chain fighter would be a level of fighter instead of that second level of rogue.


1) That's part of why it's listed as a variant - it digs deep into your other ability scores since Kenku and Strongheart both have -2 Strength. You might have to switch to human to do it with Power Attack.
2) That relies on a houserule, but yes, it would be the best of every world. However, the swashbuckler's insightful strike applies to light weapons andy any weapon compatible with Finesse, so it would also apply to the spiked chain. Which, you'll note, is also two-handed and doesn't cost TWF feats.
3) That costs us Nightsong Enforcer (requires Evasion).

The build is underwhelming at the late levels but a solid, and frustrating, support in the low to mid levels, and remains afloat after that in the same way non-martial-adept warrior/rogues did - while they weren't fun, and they could get submerged in tier one or tier two games, they can remain afloat in lower tier 3 and upper tier 4. 

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)

 

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 see. I didn't realize that Evasion was a prerequisite for NE, and you're right about everything else.
"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
Error in the Snapshot, Tempest. Remember that Great Ally doesn't apply to allies; their flanking bonuses will be +3, not +5.

I love mixing this build with Flip the Bird so much. I can't not see them as a pair of Nightswift operatives now. They also mix really well with Eat, Sleep, Gank. You could probably make an all-around sneaky party with just showcase entries at this point.
1) You really need Power Attack to make this build work without Sneak Attack, and against stuff Immune to Sneak Attack.


2) I was actually expecting a class that pulled off all the Flanking tricks...flank with yourself from another square, grant your flanker an Opportunist attack.  I actually think the build as presented is weak because of the reliance on SA, and not being able to truly make use of the flanking bonuses.

3) Do you rule Swords of Subtlety to get the +4/+4 anytime something is flanked, even if it is immune to Sneak Attack damage? (I have...it's not precision damage, after all). Still foiled by Uncanny Dodge, of course.

4) Why no Craven to up the damage by +20 a swing?

5) I like the other format better, because you can see what mods you're referring to.
Might want to note you're picking Kenku because of Great Ally, and what Great Ally does. Not all of us have our books. 


I'd like to see this build redone as a cohort super-flanking machine, which is what I thought it was going to be...something more melee minded then SA minded. A little Sneak Attack damage is fine, but certainly not necessary for a flanking build. Note that +7 Attack is +14 damage with a 2h weapon when flanking...there are a bunch of feats which work when flanking to make the other guy stronger, I thought this was going to be a 'giving' build like that.

Imagine a master flanker with the bodyguard ability to fight right next to his boss, give him flanking bonuses, and then take the hits for him...that's what I thought you were doing here. 


==Aelryinth          
Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
Okay. Took a day to get over the bruised ego with this one. Some constructive comments were made and let's see what we can make of them. A big part of this showcase is to say "what can we do better" not just "hey look at the cool thing we did". I'll admit this build does precious little cool stuff, so let's see how much better we can make it.


Starting from scratch we'll look at component pieces that are being used or could be used.

Stance
Island of Blades (Swordsage 1)

Maneuver
Distracting Ember (Swordsage 1)

Racial Features
Great ally (Kenku)

Class Features
Improved Flanking (Swashbuckler 8)
Flanking Teamwork (Nightsong Enforcer 5)
Flanker (Elocator 4)

Equipment
Amulet of Teamwork (MIC 70) +2 to damage rolls for self and others when flanking
There was a technique that allowed you to basically flank with yourself, which would remove the need for Distracting Ember (you could use it to help others flank). Something to do with also flanking from any square you threatened. Combined with Islands of Blades, you could flank from your square and the square next to you, and threaten because that's legal for an Islands flanking combo.

There was a feat or manuver, White Raven possibly, that gave an ally an opportunist attack if you hit.  

The bodyguard manuver is either a feat, and certainly part of an old PrC.

As a flanking/SA generating build, the original is okay...but it needs to focus on making use of that +7 to hit to really lay on the damage, which it doesn't do. In particular, it needs some method of generating full attacks so it can TWF and lay on the Sneak Attack Craven Power Attack damage. Turning that +7 to hit into +7d6+20 Craven +7-14 Power Attack would be impressive. As presented, not.

If we're focusing on helping others, Improved Aid ANother, in multiple feats, could grant an ally +4 to hit or AC. I think there's a feat that turns Aid Another into an Attack Action, too...so you could use your last iterative as a touch attack to give your friend another +4 to hit...and maybe another one for +4 AC.

I can just imagine this guy paired up with some barbarian with a greatsword, getting into position and delivering the barbarian an AoO and +7 to hit, maybe +4 AC against the unfortunate enemy in between them every round...and doing it while defensive fighting and swapping in to take a hit aimed at the low AC barb, and then maybe using that Focus feat and either sucking the Power Attack out of the hit, being on the defensive and haivng it miss, or deflecting it into another opponent.

Yeah, i was picturing Uberflank as kind of the ultimate melee support character...kind of like a bard using blades instead of singing.

==Aelryinth      

      
Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
Okay. Took a day to get over the bruised ego with this one. Some constructive comments were made and let's see what we can make of them. A big part of this showcase is to say "what can we do better" not just "hey look at the cool thing we did". I'll admit this build does precious little cool stuff, so let's see how much better we can make it.


Starting from scratch we'll look at component pieces that are being used or could be used.

Stance
Island of Blades (Swordsage 1)

Maneuver
Distracting Ember (Swordsage 1)

Racial Features
Great ally (Kenku)

Class Features
Improved Flanking (Swashbuckler 8)
Flanking Teamwork (Nightsong Enforcer 5)

I know Elocator has something but can't access SRD atm and am AFB. What other sorts of components can we mix and match to build a more uber Uber-Flank?


Flanking Teamwork is probably the most sacrificial aspect of this. Improved Flanking is the second-most-sacrificial, but due to Daring Outlaw + Assassin's Stance it can be made very useful (full base attack +4d6 sneak attack is nothing to be shy at!). Having some method to capitalize on the attack bonuses, such as Power Attack, is probably a good idea as well.

There's also the White Raven flanking abilities, but I'll leave those alone for now. They'd be a nice effect to bolt on, however.

The text for the elocator abiltiy is "She can designate any adjacent square as the square from which flanking against an ally is determined (including the square where she stands, as normal). She can designate the square at the beginning of her turn or at any time during her turn. The designated square remains her effective square for flanking until she is no longer adjacent to it or until she chooses a different square (at the start of one of her turns). The character can even choose a square that is impassable or occupied."  This same ability is present on the Miniatures Handbook Tactical Soldier, which is largely (and deservedly) overlooked, except here it might be worthwhile as the ability comes online at level 1 and the prereqs are rather light (Sense Motive 2, Base Attack +5, Combat Reflexes, and Cleave - we may already be getting Power Attack to capitalize on the flanking bonuses anyway, so if we have a feat free...)

It won't stack with the Kenku's ability, but there's a Vexing Flanker feat in the PHB2 which does the same thing. It's not very good, but it's the prerequisite for Adaptable Flanker (PHB2), which is the feat I think Aelryinth was referring to. It takes a swift action to use, and only works on one target, but with respect to that target you basically occupy two separate squares for flanking. With a reach weapon you might be able to flank with yourself. Interestingly, this feat is better than the Elocator ability, because you remain in your own space for flanking purposes as well as the new space, and the new space can be any square you threaten instead of any adjacent square. This is enough to flank with yourself through Island of Blades, although you'll need Sneak Attack from some other source to do this with the swashbuckler ability.

It's largely for show, but there's a tactical feat (Wolfpack) based around flanking in Races of the Wild. In a nutshell, its three maneuvers are a toned-down version of the White Raven Flanking Maneuver (if you and your team flank a foe for two rounds, on the second round you can add a Bluff check to your attack which, if successful, causes the opponent to provoke from your team), adding a limited Bull Rush effect to your attack if an ally aids you, and adding AC bonuses to flanking when you aid an ally. Most interestingly, the prerequisites for this feat dovetail nicely with Elocator, although you wouldn't normally expect it since the latter is primarily a manifesting class rather than a warrior.

A particularly nasty and under-used flanking effect is the White Raven tactical feat, Clarion Commander. With a Diplomacy check, you can treat an opponent as flanked for pretty much the entire combat, regardless of ally position. As a side effect, the other two maneuvers on Clarion Commander also link up well with granting allies extra attacks, and the second gives you an AoO when an ally you Aided successfully hits a target you both threaten (possible synergy with Wolfpack and the Kenku's Great Ally ability due to Aid Another interactions). You can go one step further with this and add on the PHB2 Hindering Opportunist feat. (Hindering Opportunist works like Evasive Reflexes, but instead of a 5' step you get an Aid Another attempt vs the opponent - note what happens with Clarion Commander and a flanking buddy.)

If we're looking into Aid Another as a possible side effect, remember the Complete Adventurer expansion on Aid Another. With 5 or more ranks in the skill, or a base attack bonus of +5, you increase the size of your Aid Another effects by 1 for every 10 points your check exceeds the 10 needed to Aid in the first place.

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)

 

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.

There's a PrC in Heroes of Battle that adds your class level as an attack bonus for your allies every time you hit. Don't have the book, so I don't remember which class.
"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
It won't stack with the Kenku's ability, but there's a Vexing Flanker feat in the PHB2 which does the same thing. It's not very good, but it's the prerequisite for Adaptable Flanker (PHB2), which is the feat I think Aelryinth was referring to. It takes a swift action to use, and only works on one target, but with respect to that target you basically occupy two separate squares for flanking. With a reach weapon you might be able to flank with yourself. Interestingly, this feat is better than the Elocator ability, because you remain in your own space for flanking purposes as well as the new space, and the new space can be any square you threaten instead of any adjacent square. This is enough to flank with yourself through Island of Blades, although you'll need Sneak Attack from some other source to do this with the swashbuckler ability.

The FAQ has a response about using the Adaptable Flanker feat with a spiked chain that describes flanking as inherently requiring an ally, which is consistent with the way the SRD describes it.  I think you'd want to stick to the abilities that specifically allow it to be sure of it working.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome Lurker, Fulminating Crab, Ironglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
Since you qualifie for daring outlaw with your assassin stance, when you are in the Island of blade stance, you only have 3d6 of sneack attack, don't you?

In your build, if you remove your 6 levels of Nightsong enforcer and replace them by 4 levels of ranger + 2 levels of Bloodclaw master, you'll lose 1 bab, you only get +6 when flanking instead of +7 and you finaly lose 2d6 of sneack attack. But you get a sure way of flanking after your first attack.
And since you get TWF for free, you get a feat slot for craven.

What do you think?
Island of Blades for one specifies an ally, and whilst I guess you are your own ally, I don't think it would count for this purpose.

This is pretty nice, however. There are also a lot of White Raven Manoeuvres which work well; I can see Crusader being useful here. However, you do probably just get the most mileage from Sneak Attack.

Wolfpack is interesting because it provides AoOs, which could work nicely if you did pair this and an Evasive Reflexes build (ER being good to set up flanks, too). I think the prereqs are probably too steep to make it worthwhile, however.
Since you qualifie for daring outlaw with your assassin stance, when you are in the Island of blade stance, you only have 3d6 of sneack attack, don't you?


Depends on what level you're at - before you natively have 2d6 Sneak Attack, you actually lose the benefit of Daring Outlaw altogether. So the build as presented goes from 0d6 sneak attack in Island of Blades to 6d6 sneak attack (4d6 swashbuckler + 2d6 assassin's stance) when you switch to Assassin's. It's an interesting way to get sneak attack up there without dropping base attack too much.

In an extreme example, months ago, I got involved in a big argument with Aelryinth over Weapon Supremacy and TWFing, and for fun I put together a sneak attacking Swashbuckler 20 simply because it has full base attack and can get +12d6 sneak attack with three feats. (The remaining five feats (human) went to the TWF tree, Shadow Blade, and Craven; a very straightforward build.) Using twin Keen Shadow Hand Swords of Subltety on that produces... interesting results.

In your build, if you remove your 6 levels of Nightsong enforcer and replace them by 4 levels of ranger + 2 levels of Bloodclaw master, you'll lose 1 bab, you only get +6 when flanking instead of +7 and you finaly lose 2d6 of sneack attack. But you get a sure way of flanking after your first attack.
And since you get TWF for free, you get a feat slot for craven.


That's an interesting approach, but Distracting Attack doesn't let you flank with yourself.

This is, however, why I suggested pairing Uberflank with Flip the Bird. Not only is the "Kenku in Eberron" section just screaming out ways to do this fluffwise, functionally, anything Flip hits is considered flanked, and both of them get Great Ally.

The same could be said if we redo Uberflank into an "Omniflank" build that focuses less on the flanking bonuses and more on what you can do while flanking... but I digress here...."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" class="mceContentBody " contenteditable="true" />
Island of Blades for one specifies an ally, and whilst I guess you are your own ally, I don't think it would count for this purpose.


Same argument as White Raven Tactics; I can buy that. But consider Vexing Flanker + Spiked Chain-style weapon, and an adjacent target. You are simultaneously in your own square and in a square on the other side of the target as far as flanking's concerned. Island of Blades or not, he's probably flanked.

This is pretty nice, however. There are also a lot of White Raven Manoeuvres which work well; I can see Crusader being useful here. However, you do probably just get the most mileage from Sneak Attack.


...Oddly enough I have a homebrew PrC that combines the two - it was an attempt to create a PrC that would appeal to my sublime way variant marshal, RT's variant sublime way ranger, or a whole host of similar characters. (Specifically, it was designed to give sneaky-sneaky characters a way to make the rest of the party sneaky-sneaky as well, or to give sneaky-sneakies a chance to support the party in a straight-up fight, so that the gulf of gameplay between stealthers and non-stealthers wasn't as wide). This PRC, the Strike Leader, was based on stealth teamwork ambushes, and included a Major Aura that gave your team Sudden Strike, as well as a capstone ability that allows the team to perform copies of your martial maneuvers during a surprise round. It can get kind of... interesting if those maneuvers involve Assassin's Stance and Flanking Maneuver.

I have to see about releasing that material soon... there's a lot of GREAT stuff in progress here. Hell, that's not even the most creative thing here! (RT, for instance, created a PrC that set the entire group's build creativity on fire.)

Wolfpack is interesting because it provides AoOs, which could work nicely if you did pair this and an Evasive Reflexes build (ER being good to set up flanks, too). I think the prereqs are probably too steep to make it worthwhile, however.


Wolfpack is costly, but Evasive Reflexes is oddly not. It counts as Combat Reflexes for purposes of prerequisites, so it doesn't slow down your builds if you take it at the right point. You can even use Serpent Armor (MIC) to get Combat Reflexes' benefit in the meantime.

But you're right: The thought of providing these abilities together in a build to produce an Omniflanker is quite... interesting. We'll see how it fares against Improved Uncanny Dodge.

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)

 

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.

Same argument as White Raven Tactics; I can buy that. But consider Vexing Flanker + Spiked Chain-style weapon, and an adjacent target. You are simultaneously in your own square and in a square on the other side of the target as far as flanking's concerned. Island of Blades or not, he's probably flanked.


I presume you mean Adaptable Flanker, but yeah, that says you "count as" in a square "for the purposes of determining flanking bonus for you and your allies". It probably still means in terms of you getting the flanking bonus from an ally, but by RAW that should work.

Wolfpack is costly, but Evasive Reflexes is oddly not. It counts as Combat Reflexes for purposes of prerequisites, so it doesn't slow down your builds if you take it at the right point. You can even use Serpent Armor (MIC) to get Combat Reflexes' benefit in the meantime.


I only meant Wolfpack - it's a lot to take just so that you can allow your all(y/ies) to provoke another AoO. That said, there are some abilities which trigger on AoOs it might be worth triggering. It is into team optimisation, however, which isn't always something on the table.

Improved Uncanny Dodge... well, that could throw a spanner in the works. 
Would the feat rogue varient work with daring outlaw? All it says it that levels stack for determining SA damage, but it doesn't actually say anything about the rogue level earning the SA.



Quoting myself to hopefully get an answer on this. Maybe it was ignored for being a really stupid question, i don't know.
In theory yes it would work or no it wouldn't work at all. By taking feat rogue and some other source for 2d6 sneak attack your rogue levels are already counted for SA (and net 0) so wouldn't count again. A lenient DM may rule otherwise though.
Would the feat rogue varient work with daring outlaw? All it says it that levels stack for determining SA damage, but it doesn't actually say anything about the rogue level earning the SA.



Quoting myself to hopefully get an answer on this. Maybe it was ignored for being a really stupid question, i don't know.

No, you don't get your rogue levels to count for both SA AND net yourself free feats. The feat allows you to count Swash/Fighter as Rogue levels for SA, not to count Feat Rogue levels as SA Rogue levels for SA.  Since Feat Rogue levels don't grant SA, you'd get no SA from those.

You would still get SA from Swash levels with the feat, even if you were taking Feat Rogue, however, provided you get the qualifying SA.

==Aelryinth   
Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
This might have been pointed out, but I'd suggest getting Hellforged weapons (DMGII) for the whole party. 1,500gp for +1 damage on flanking isn't exactly a steal, but it's not useless, either.

Unless you're good (-1 to attack if you are)

Also, the Helm of Tactics (2000 gp, MiC) is a cheap way to add +2 damage to all your allies flank attacks for 10 rounds (3/day). It fits right into the support role you've lined up perfectly. Your allies, especially the TWFers and Flurry-ers, will just be dishing out the damage at low levels.
Harry Potter and the Natural 20 Milo, a genre-savvy Level 3 D&D Wizard and Adventurer Extraordinaire is forced to attend Hogwarts, and soon finds himself plunged into a new adventure of magic, mad old Wizards, metagaming, misunderstandings, and munchkinry. Updates Sundays.
How well do you think a build would work that combines some aspects of this with bits of the Evasion Tank, and taking Shadow Striker?

In general, I'm thinking of a flanking focused build that goes for a lot of the Evasion Tank's parrying and redirecting tactics, and also takes Shadow Striker for Evade Notice.  Move into seemingly vulnerable positions, granting big bonuses to your attack roll and any allies who move in for flanks.  You can use Evade Notice, which does NOT restrict you from making off turn attacks, to further help avoid attacks when surrounded by enemies.  Since most of the Evasion Tank's counter maneuvers are based on attack rolls, getting heavy bonuses from flanking boosts will help that considerably, and you'll also be aiding your allies with flanking bonuses yourself.

Just a thought, not really sure if it would be possible to fit all the necessary elements together.  Maybe if I have some time, I'll try to hack together a build stub.

EDIT: It occurs to me that I may not have been clear with what I'm envisioning.  Basically, I am thinking of a build that moves past enemies in vulnerable positions.  The attacks provoke, and the character counters with the various parry attacks, diverting defense, etc.  Since you're not actually attacking with the parry maneuvers, you can still trigger Evade Notice.  This prevents your enemy from retaliating on his turn after you've used your immediate action.  So instead of a build that moves into flanked positions and stays there, it would be a build that walks through flanked positions to cause mayhem as he passes, then moves into a flank of his own, boosting his ally but unable to be attacked in return because of Evade Notice.

Of course, you'd need a way of being relevant enough that your enemies don't simply ignore you after the first time that happens...
Also, there's another item in the MiC, IIRC the Amulet of Teamwork, that adds +2 damage to yourself and all allies against anyone you flank. You can really rock with that and the Helm of Tactics, and both are pretty cheap.
Harry Potter and the Natural 20 Milo, a genre-savvy Level 3 D&D Wizard and Adventurer Extraordinaire is forced to attend Hogwarts, and soon finds himself plunged into a new adventure of magic, mad old Wizards, metagaming, misunderstandings, and munchkinry. Updates Sundays.