Weekly Optimization Showcase: Flash Step

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There's a slight delay on Eat Sleep Gank (this week's showcase), but after last week's roaring discussion, I figured this was probably worth putting up as well. Flip the Bird set off a lot of discussion on using his trick in melee when Flip, himself, actively avoids melee - but that didn't stop us from investigating what would happen if you used it on a frontliner...

This week, we’re doing something a little different. It’s sort of a “kernel trick” (i.e. a core idea that can be built around, or fit into, other builds) that deserves a slightly different showcase than normal. As such, we’re presenting a few builds in a nonstandard format.

As for who discovered this? Joint effort between Andarious, RadicalTaoist, and me, each pushing the others’ work to new heights in a haphazard sequence.
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FLASH STEP
Too slow!

Required Books: Tome of Battle, plus your preferred AoO support (typically PHB2 with Complete Warrior or XPH).  


Background: Evasive Reflexes (TOB) is a spectacular feat. It really is. Not just because it does something nothing else in the game’s done before, but because it forces you to completely rethink a major D&D paradigm – specifically, that of the AoO Lock. A strongly-built AoO tank generally spends his actions getting into position and setting up for the AoO beatdown outside his turn (i.e. he might use Decisive Strike or Overwhelming Attack, which reduce your damage on your turn in exchange for a much more lethal off-turn presence). Evasive Reflexes, on the other hand, allows a character to remain focused and deadly during his turn, instead using the out-of-turn time as a chance to concentrate on movement and repositioning. This can wind up wasting enemy actions, particularly in melee, without actually needing to overcome the enemy’s defenses, and it allows you to spread the threat around to wherever it’s needed.

What does it do? Under the right circumstances, it lets you counterattack almost everything – by flash-stepping out of its way. This often foils attacks outright, particularly (uber)charges, and it has the side effect of positioning you exactly where you’d like to take your own actions. In extreme cases, this can work out to 20’ of 5’ steps, distributed however you want, in response to a single foiled attack, costing you nothing but an AoO (not even an immediate action!). And while you might think this trick gets stale and anticipatable relatively easily, it honestly doesn’t – it takes just one feat beyond the usual AoO lock setup, so nothing stops you from switching back to beatdown mode whenever you want, and reserving the flash-step for covering distance in melee (and spreading out your threat accordingly).



The Basics
While you look at what's needed, keep in mind how many builds already use many of these elements. All of them are potential flash-steppers with only minimal investment.


  • Required Feats: Evasive Reflexes and, ideally, Combat Reflexes are the bare minimum. Remember that Combat Reflexes allows AoOs while flat-footed, in addition to adding extra AoO chances. Because of this, high Dexterity characters gain the most benefit from the flash-step.

  • Optional Feats: Adding in other AoO provoke feats, most dramatically Robilar’s Gambit, Defensive Sweep, and possibly Hold the Line, can produce some pretty powerful results as well. Do remember to check with your DM about how charging works if the target moves – it’s a grey area that isn’t covered by the rules. (For instance, are you charging to a specific square, or do you continue to follow a target if the target slides away from you? Things like that.) Robilar’s is perhaps the most powerful of the bunch, and Defensive Sweep is a great end-of-turn repositioning attempt (you lock down the enemy with normal AoO stunts (Improved Trip, Stand Still, etc), then use Defensive Sweep to flash-step over to some other bloke). Hold the Line is added to this list because it’s easy to get (one of the lowest-level "extra provoke" feats) and allows surprisingly effective anti-charging measures in a flash-stepper – it’s as good as Thicket against chargers, but available much sooner, and the ability to reposition yourself combines with when HtL triggers to produce something even better than Thicket (although only useful against chargers).

  • Extras: You’ll also notice good synergy with certain stances, most dramatically Press the Advantage, but Thicket of Blades and Shifting Defense bear special mention as well. (Shifting Defense can, in some ways, be considered the ur-flash-step, but it isn’t anywhere near as good on its own.) Certain other effects, such as Sidestep (Miniatures Handbook) or the Psychic Weapon Master’s Wisdom-based extension of AoO limits, also work but tend to be weak and/or kind of expensive, so we set them aside in most practical circumstances.



Naturally, this is easiest to accomplish with fighters, warblades, and crusaders, although you can get some pretty good results with ranged attackers, swordsages, and rogues as well (they’ve got the Dexterity and might have a feat or two free). I’ll be concentrating on the melee here; for ranged, I think you’re going to have to read Flip the Bird.


How does it work? Simple - exactly like any other AoO tank. However, whenever you get a provoke, you get the option to slide around the battlefield instead. By coupling Evasive Reflexes with a few small effects that either enhance the 5' step or play with how your threatened area works, you can end up moving great distances on the field, potentially moving yourself out of incoming attacker's reach or moving yourself to a point where you threaten a different target. (Couldn't reach the enemy mage because of the enemy tank? Well, now fighting the tank moves you to cover the mage!). Since this movement takes place outside of your turn, and doesn't cost you an immediate action to employ, it helps in aiming full attacks and charges as well as repositioning your threatened area. By mixing this movement in with typical AoO tactics (usually trips or beatdowns), you add an extra tactical dimension to AoO tanking.

 A typical setup for this might involve being in melee with someone, using Robilar’s Gambit when they attack you (and miss, due to a counter), and responding by flash-stepping away (foiling the full attack), Improved Tripping or Stand Stilling them with a reach weapon when they try to escape, and since he didn’t move (but you still threaten him!), you trigger Defensive Sweep at the end of the turn (not to hit him: to slide towards whichever punk’s about to act next, where your AoOs will be a bigger threat!), and then get your full round of actions. Another might involve receiving a charge attack and flash-stepping around the enemy (foiling the charge attack since you’re out of reach from the square he had to move to for it to be a charge), then responding on your turn with a charge of your own. (This is an area where certain under-used feats can shine. Normal movement (leaving a threatened square) only provokes once on a given action. However, the Hold the Line feat provokes whenever an enemy enters your threatened area by charging. So, he tries to enter your threatened area, you 5' step back before he does, and then he tries to enter again, triggering Hold the Line again.... Intersperse this with diagonal movement and you'll be almost immune to charge attacks, reach-depending.)

A quick aside: Normally, AoO tanks threaten multiple opponents by using size increases to boost their reach. This is a good strategy - until you're in really close quarters, with tight corridors and low ceilings, and so on, which make size increases impractical. Flash-stepping allows an AoO tank to cover multiple opponents as well - by sliding between them instead of covering them all at once. There are advantages to both strategies (for instance, flash-stepping allows you to play mind games with your targets: a caster tries casting a 1-round spell when he isn't covered, then you flash-step over during the enemy warrior's turn and say hello to the mage), and of course they work well together, so I'm not suggesting one over the other. However, the effect of giant reach is well-known, so I'll concentrate on flash-steps alone here.

As far as I can tell, with the right gear, nothing short of Thicket of Blades + heavy lockdown can stop this – and interestingly, an enemy Thicket also helps you. It’s hypothetically possible to try a flash-step out of a Thicket, provoking an attack, then using Robilar’s in response to the AoO to continue the flash-step attempt, provoking again, and so on, repeating until one or both of you are out of AoOs for the round. This is risky because the Robilar's AoOs resolve late - but they still happen! (With good enough defenses, Press the Advantage gives you a 2:1 advantage over the typical Thicket user for this, oddly – you provoke, they attack, you step twice, each of which provokes.) I wouldn’t suggest doing this unless you’re crazy, but how many other characters can single-handedly deplete an AoO tank’s attacks as part of normal fare?


Sample Builds
The following are sample builds all employing the flash step. They’re presented in simplified manner, rather than the usual level-by-level manner, simply because there’s a lot of them. All three assume Human, but that’s hardly necessary to pull off flash-stepping. Hell, these probably aren’t even the best at flash-stepping – they just show the concept at work in an assortment of ways.

The first build, the Rook Knight, is a simple attempt to get most of the relevant effects online with minimal fuss at a low level, and includes an emphasis on classic charging tactics and team movement; it’d work wonders as an NPC or a cohort as well as a basic PC. The second, Outmaneuver, is the quintessential flash-stepper: a simple Warblade 20 with emphasis on combat fundamentals, combining flash-stepping with action denial, and a heavy spike in damage as monster HP increase. It’s not too out of the ordinary and would make a fine basic introduction to the Tome of Battle as well as to flash-stepping. The third, Flashmaster, takes the feat-intensive route of entering Master of Nine in order to maximize flash-step potential as soon as possible at the cost of stamina; along the way he develops into a technical fighter based on directly controlling position, both for himself and his allies. Elements of this borderline on the theoretical, but it would work well in a climactic encounter or as a modification of the Evasion Tank.

I would argue that Outmaneuver is perhaps the “iconic” flash-step build, but I’ll present them in order of relative complexity. None of these builds include gear; see below for suggestions on that.

Build 1: Rook Knight
:

Checkmate!

Build Stub: Barbarian 2 / Fighter 8 / Warblade 10.
Additional books:Complete Champion, one less-common UA variant, and the Cityscape web enhancement (all optional).

Note: That’s “knight” as in the chess piece. From level 3, you can in fact pull off a knight’s move as a flash-step (in response to a charge – just make one of your two five-foot steps diagonally). From 14 you can do it in response to anything. Largely, the build does operate the way knights are commonly used in chess: casting a threat over a large area, luring enemies into overextending themselves, or pouncing on vulnerable pieces that have taken the bait. Also like the knight, these guys work great in tight spaces, near the action, or more passively if they’re front-and-center. Finally, their ability to reposition their threatened area during the opponent’s turn is as close as D&D is ever going to get to a chess fork, something for which the knight is particularly well-suited. It’s a good name, and a good example of why flash-stepping forces you to think a bit differently about the battlefield. (The "Rook" part emphasizes how he plays on his turn, favoring straight-line attacks, open fields, and finishing moves the endgame.)

1 – Barbarian (Pounce, Ferocity) (Stand Still, Evasive Reflexes)
2 – Wolf Totem Barbarian (Improved Trip)
3 – Fighter (Hold the Line, Combat Reflexes)
4 – Fighter (Power Attack)
5 – Warblade (Wall of Blades, Battle Leader’s Charge, Tactical Strike, Leading the Charge)
6 – Fighter (Improved Bull Rush)
7 – Fighter (Shock Trooper)
8 – Warblade(White Raven Tactics)
9 – Warblade (Leap Attack) (Iron Heart Surge)
10 – Warblade (Absolute Steel)
11 – Warblade (Improved Initiative) (White Raven Strike)
12 – Warblade (Robilar’s Gambit)
13 – Fighter
14 – Fighter (Martial Stance: Press the Advantage)
15 – Fighter (Defensive Sweep)
16 – Fighter (Exotic Weapon: Spiked Chain) [Optional]
17 – Warblade (Order Forged from Chaos)
18 – Warblade (Extra Rage)
19 – Warblade (Blind-fight) (Clarion Call)
20 – Warblade (Switch White Raven Hammer > Tactical Strike, Swarm Tactics)

The rook knight is a pretty simple attempt at deploying the flash-step reasonably early and with minimal hassle. They work quite well as elite guards for NPC bosses (including at the lower levels!), especially in pairs against a melee-heavy team, and particularly if the situation won’t allow you to use Gargantuan warriors (and let's face it, there's quite a few of those situations!). The unique aspect of this build is that they include an emphasis on charging, with all the damage that usually brings, rather than anything terribly technical. On the side, their maneuvers scale very well with nothing more than combat fundamentals, and they’re always ready to lend a hand to their partner. Give them any polearm of your choice and you’re good to go.



  • By level 3, the main trick is completely online, and they’re pretty decent territory controllers before that. It’s worth noting that Hold the Line triggers when a charger enters your threatened area (rather than leaving it like normal), and if you shift back, they have to enter your threatened area again. (If you’re charging a rook knight from long range, he may very well lure you further away than you’d expected.) Be sure to check with your DM if charging follows a moving target – a simple diagonal-back flash-step is enough to utterly thwart a normal charge if you charge to a specific square. Either way, though, Hold the Line is in addition to the usual AOO provoked from leaving a threatened square, so either way you’re likely to pull off two flash steps in response to any given charge, so long as they still threaten the right squares. And if they aren't charging you, they still have to pass through your threatened area, giving you the opportunity to step around or fight back as need be (and you've got both Improved Trip and Stand Still, so you're not wanting for options).

  • By level 5, with Power Attack, they’re a big enough threat on their own, even before you factor in the ability to foil a charge with a flash-step or two – which can be diagonally. (Interestingly, since the 5’ steps resolve separately, two diagonal moves count as 5’ each, even though the same movement would cost 15’ of speed.). This puts them 10+ feet away from the charger they foiled, and so they can retaliate with a powerful White Raven charge of their own. (Critically, White Raven charges bypass AoOs (including, presumably, Hold the Line), so you can’t get served by your own trick unless, perhaps, they’re packing Thicket.). Basically, anyone who tries to charge you will likely miss, and you will be in a place to counter-charge on your turn. (And since your flash-steps can be in any direction and don't need to be in a straight line, you're hard to corner, and can avoid situations like this.)

  • By level 9, that retaliatory counter-charge is a full-on Ubercharge, complete with Wall of Blades to defend themselves afterwards and White Raven Tactics to bring their buddy in for extra cover (or rescue him from an unsuccessful counter-Ubercharge).

  • By level 12, you can grab either Press the Advantage or Robilar’s Gambit and the build is basically done. (I like Robilar’s, as it’s the more flexible of the two, but an argument can be made for an early Press.) The other feat can show up at 14.

  • At 15, Defensive Sweep is online, and all of the stunts discussed above work. Note that Defensive Sweep doesn’t care if you move, so long as the guy who started next to you doesn’t – hence Stand Still or Improved Trip. (Because of this, you can actually be attacked from inside the reach of a standard reach weapon and still flash-step out of the way (Robilar’s), so the spiked chain is optional, though highly recommended.)



Everything past 15th is optional and was picked for completeness, focusing on the theme of providing team movement (outside their turn) and denying enemy actions without the nonsense of having to beat them at a Strength check. Got a move action free, or a full-round action to charge? So does your team. Got a standard action near an enemy? They don’t have theirs anymore. Even the Spiked Chain and Extra Rage were literally just placeholders; swap 'em around if you want.

And don’t forget that if they’re NPCs, Ferocity is an immediate action that can boost their Initiative – or give them extra AoOs (or flash-steps) and damage whenever you need it. (You might want to hold off, at least until you use Moment of Perfect Mind to block the inevitable Will-targeting effect – once it’s spent, Ferocity away! If you don’t like Ferocity, standard Rage is still fine.)


Build 2: Outmaneuver
:

No, I am behind YOU!

 Build Stub: Warblade 20.
Additional books: None!

1 – Warblade (Evasive Reflexes, Power Attack) (Wolf Fang Strike, Sudden Leap, Douse the Flames) (Punishing Stance)
2 – Warblade (Moment of Perfect Mind)
3 – Warblade (Martial Study) (Stone Vise, Shield Block)
4 – Warblade (Switch Wall of Blades > Wolf Fang Strike) (Hunter’s Sense)
5 – Warblade (Combat Reflexes) (White Raven Tactics)
6 – Warblade (Martial Stance) (Thicket of Blades)
7 – Warblade (Ruby Nightmare Blade)
8 – Warblade
9 – Warblade (Improved Initiative) (Hold the Line OR Stand Still) (Rapid Counter)
10 – Warblade (Switch Disrupting Blow > Douse the Flames) (Press the Advantage)
11 – Warblade (Crushing Vise)
12 – Warblade (Robilar’s Gambit) (Switch Irresistible Mountain Strike > Stone Vise)
13 – Warblade (Blind-Fight) (Avalanche of Blades)
14 – Warblade
15 – Warblade (Defensive Sweep) (Diamond Nightmare Blade)
16 – Warblade (Switch White Raven Hammer > Ruby Nightmare Blade) (Hearing the Air)
17 – Warblade (Ironheart Aura) (War Master’s Charge)
18 – Warblade (Stormguard Warrior) (Switch Diamond Defense > Moment of Perfect Mind)
19 – Warblade (Time Stands Still)
20 – Warblade

Outmaneuver is perhaps the classic flash-step build – single-classed, online relatively quick (levels 5-6), and not too out of the way for most warblades. Interestingly, he doesn’t actually need a reach weapon to make this work, although they certainly help. Grab any ol’ weapon you like and let’s rock.

Outmanever’s big thing is adding Thicket to the flash-step infrastructure on a warblade, who (at 20th) is able to combine both Thicket and Press the Advantage to devastating effect thanks to Dual Stance. The feat structure is straightforward, getting all the key feats as early as possible – the only flex point is whether you take Hold the Line or Stand Still at 9 (largely it’s a choice on what you’re fighting – hell, you could even pick up Martial Study (Defensive Rebuke) for another source of flash-step joy, or an exotic weapon like the Spiked Chain if you wish). At the late levels you even bring on Stormguard Warrior, with both Avalanche of Blades + Combat Rhythm and Channel the Storm + Thicket of Blades + Robilar’s Gambit if you need to unleash hell instead of flash-step. Consider what Thicket does to this well-known combination: someone tries to leave your threatened area, and you take a 5’ step to make sure you threaten where he’ll end up. Repeat. With a high enough Dexterity, or Press the Advantage, you can functionally replicate the Mirrored Pursuit counter this way – meaning that with a high enough Dexterity, you’re already next to him after charging up Stormguard. (In addition to flash-steps, you include more proactive ways of making sure your targets remain in range for the followup from Stormguard Warrior, so if this won’t work, you can still Sudden Leap, for instance.)

Your maneuver choices are based mostly around basic offense and defense – although you lack a specific charge attack until the high levels. If a maneuver does something fancy, that something fancy tends to be action denial (Stone Vise, Crushing Vise, Disrupting Blow (a Will save effect, perfect for most melee opponents), Irresistible Mountain Strike, and White Raven Hammer) or a metric boatload of damage all up front (Avalanche of Blades, Diamond Nightmare Blade, Time Stands Still), or both (War Master’s Charge). Your stances were picked largely for prerequisites, but in-combat you’ll be dual-stancing Thicket of Blades and Press the Advantage; out of combat you can mix and match Hunter’s Sense and Hearing the Air to provide some nonstandard senses to the team.

Also worth noting here is that, as a single-classed warblade, Outmaneuver gets massive Intelligence synergy, most dramatically on all attack and damage rolls made as part of attacks of opportunity (Battle Mastery - read, Int 18 post-gear is effectively 150% of Deft Opportunist, but without the prereqs!), and again on bonus damage when attacking a flanked target (Battle Cunning). This alone can help push Outmaneuver into a top-tier warrior even before you factor in that he can flash-step to exactly where he’s needed, moving between multiple points of melee defense more or less at will. Similarly, while he lacks Improved Trip, he does have Battle Skill, which lets him leverage that Intelligence modifier in much the same way if he packs a weapon that can trip.


Build 3: Flashmaster
:

When I can no longer snatch the pebble from your hand, then we are done.

Build stub: Warblade 11 / Fighter 2 / Crusader 2 / Master of Nine 5
Additional books: Races of the Wild (for a better Dodge replacement; strictly speaking this is optional)

1 – Warblade (Expeditious Dodge, Evasive Reflexes) (Charging Minotaur, Steel Wind, Moment of Perfect Mind) (Punishing Stance)
2 – Fighter (Combat Reflexes)
3 – Fighter (Hold the Line, Blind-Fight)
4 – Warblade (Claw at the Moon)
5 – Warblade (Sudden Leap)
6 – Warblade (Adaptive Style) (Switch Wall of Blades > Claw at the Moon) (Pearl of Black Doubt)
7 – Warblade (Improved Initiative) (Iron Heart Surge)
8 – Warblade (Switch Mithral Tornado > Steel Wind)
9 – Crusader (Improved Unarmed Strike) (Defensive Rebuke, White Raven Tactics, Shield Block, Tactical Strike, Battle Leader’s Charge) (Martial Spirit)
10 – Crusader (Thicket of Blades)
11 – Master of Nine (Comet Throw, Clever Positioning)
12 – Master of Nine (Stand Still) (Disrupting Blow) (Press the Advantage)
13 – Master of Nine (Moment of Alacrity, Shadow Stride*)
14 – Master of Nine (Ballista Throw) (Shifting Defense)
15 – Warblade (Robilar’s Gambit) (Order Forged from Chaos)
16 – Warblade (Ironheart Aura) (Switch Diamond Defense > Moment of Perfect Mind)
17 – Warblade (Adamantine Hurricane)
18 – Warblade (Stormguard Warrior) (Switch Avalanche of Blades > Mithral Tornado) (Stance of Alacrity)
19 – Master of Nine (Strike of Righteous Vitality, War Master’s Charge)
20 – Warblade (Time Stands Still)
*Added to Crusader. Other Mo9 maneuvers go to Warblade.
NOTE: All Master of Nine extra readies go to Crusader, except the last one (assign to Warblade).

Master of Nine is such a feat-intensive class that this approach might not be worth it, but the results were solid nonetheless. For one, you get dual-stancing much earlier (12th here, could be earlier but IL timing is sometimes tricky), and adding in the extra schools (notably Setting Sun) can get interesting.  Pick up a Chinese-style longspear and use your kung-fu to cover the close range in style.

Flashmaster combines some of the earlier flash-step tricks with a tiny touch of Devoted Spirit. With Wall of Blades and Shield Block to cover for Robilar’s, he uses Thicket of Blades and Defensive Rebuke to generate even more AoOs (Defensive Rebuke + Robilar’s is particularly fun) – and if he dual-stances with Press the Advantage, that’s a lot of ground he can cover with minimum effort. Attacks that can no longer reach him simply miss, similar to the Evasion Tank. On his turn, he’s no slouch either, focusing on maneuvers which disrupt enemy position, deny enemy action, and deal significant damage. He even packs the Moment of Alacrity + Adaptive Style trick that lets him reconfigure to match whatever he’s encountered on the first turn, and the Counter Stance + Stance of Alacrity trick from the Evasion Tank. (He does lack Power Attack, but even without the tried-and-proven Eternal Wand of Heroics trick, there’s a way to shave a feat if you want to play that game. See the suggested gear.)

Speaking of dual-stancing, if the enemy is being more aggressive than mobile, swap out Thicket and pair Press the Advantage with Shifting Defense. Switch on Robilar’s Gambit and just watch. Any time the foe misses (read: Wall of Blades, Shield Block), you get an AoO and a 5’ step. Press the Advantage doubles any 5’ steps you take, so you can smack him back and slip away – or, if you’re in too deep, use Evasive Reflexes on the AoO to flash-step an incredible 20 feet away. Being 5’ steps, this movement is exceedingly hard to counter by anyone not packing a Thicket of their own – and anyone actually using Thicket risks fuelling even more flash-step/ripostes when they take the AoOs. You can even use an Eternal Wand of Heroics to grab Deflect Arrows, which makes it easier to trigger Robilar’s against ranged attackers – you can actually close 80 to 100 feet of distance this way under ranged attacks, so you can tell the archer “no” with a Ballista Throw to his face - without using Leaping Flame! You can’t keep it up forever, but with good backup, you won’t need to. (And DMs looking to make a memorable villain can use that duration as a time limit on the BBEG fight… )

Since we were going Mo9 for dual-stancing already, and we have a tiny splash of Crusader for Thicket, we decided to implement the Idiot Crusader trick here (although, as it could also be interpreted as "absorb only what is useful", a better nickname here is the Bruce Lee crusader.). Long story short, by level 14, Flashmaster has more Crusader readied maneuvers than he has Crusader known maneuvers, and every extra ready came with a maneuver granted. This means that every turn, he tries to grant a maneuver and can’t, so all his Crusader maneuvers refresh – every round. That’s right, you’ve got White Raven Tactics, Defensive Rebuke, and Shadow Stride available at will (but once per round) if you need them. (Shadow Stride was picked over Shadow Blink because it doesn’t eat your swift, so you’re free to Rebuke or Tactics as needed.) You also have Battle Leader’s Charge available every round, so if you ever do feel the need to charge, you can do so without AoOs of your own every single time. At the high levels you also have Strike of Righteous Vitality available every other turn (as a warblade, not as a crusader – your crusader IL isn’t high enough to learn it), which can be somewhat difficult to overwhelm – particularly if combined with flash-steps or classic AoO moves when it isn’t your turn. These same flash-steps allow you to position yourself perfectly for a team-wide War Master’s Charge as well as reposition yourself afterwards to threaten targets that the charge attack didn’t stun.


In addition to these three, I'd like to use Andarious' new PBP character, Vidar Lindström, as an example of a mid-level character built to incorporate the flash-step into a solid charge/AoO warrior hybrid chassis. (Vidar is very similar to a rook knight with a splash of crusader for similar to the other two builds. I believe he plans on taking Press the Advantage later, for better synergy with Hold the Line and Defensive Rebuke, but strictly speaking it isn't necessary here.) It doesn't take a lot of effort to bolt this trick onto an existing character (and it takes next to no effort at all if you can shop for light armor - see below).




Suggested Gear: Anything that interacts with AoOs and 5’ steps can interact with flash-stepping, so you’re not wanting for shopping options. You can buy the effect of Combat Reflexes on Serpent Armor (MIC) if you wish; this is actually more “optimal” in most cases assuming you can get by with light armor. (Evasive Reflexes counts as Combat Reflexes for prerequisites, so if you can score the unique effects of Combat Reflexes through gear, it saves you a feat slot! (In essence, take any extant light-armor AoO tank build, replace Combat Reflexes with Evasive Reflexes, dress in Serpent Armor, and you've got a pretty proficient flash-stepper already.)) The Fleet Warrior’s Array (MIC) has two amazing items for this as well: the vest gives you reasonably cheap Freedom of Movement, and the sandals allow you to 5’ step under almost any conditions (along with a handsome speed bonus). I’m not aware of any other equipment of specific interest to a flash-stepper that isn’t also of interest to other characters; if I hear of some I’ll edit it in here
.
Although it's probably the best case, we didn’t use Serpent Armor above because in all three cases. Combat Reflexes remains the best warblade bonus feat, and we’re not fans of leaving build-critical feats to gear, so it truly isn't necessary, but if you want to use Serpent Armor with those three, shift any chosen warblade feats up a slot. The warblade list is largely "nice but not necessary" once you've got Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, and Blind-Fight anyway. Iron Will, Blade Meditation, or one of the gateway feats is probably the way to go here.


The best possible purchase for a flash-stepper is the 3e Arms & Equipment Guide’s Sparring Dummy of the Master, if your DM allows it. This 30,000gp item turns every 5’ step you take into 10’ worth of movement, even without Press the Advantage. (Its lone drawback is that it requires a monk level to use, but a one-level monk dip can pick up Decisive Strike, which is on an AoO tank wishlist anyway!) You don’t need the monk’s AC bonus to sense the banhammer incoming on that one, do you? Still, it’s worth a mention.





Summary:
Flash-stepping is a novel twist on D&D AoO locking. It’s most effective against melee and reasonably effective against ranged attacks (at the higher levels at least – Robilar’s + Evasive Reflexes can let you close the distance with skirmishers). Simply by mounting Evasive Reflexes on an existing AoO build (which can still get Combat Reflexes through gear!), you completely invert how they look at the battlefield, in turn opening up new dimensions of gameplay for the tactically-minded warrior. It won’t even slow down most builds, since it counts as Combat Reflexes on its own and can be retrained later if your environment shifts away from those conductive to flash-stepping.

 Is flash-stepping a replacement for the AoO lock? Of course not – it’s a wonderful supplement to it, particularly in melee-heavy environments. But it does have its weaknesses. Spells tend to follow their targets, so this won’t save you there, and without serious acceleration (i.e. Press the Advantage + Robilar’s) you might not be able to close the distance with a good archer. Similarly, although 5’ steps are a pain to stop, they can be stopped through a good Thicket of Blades user – and anything specifically designed to interfere with AoO tanks tends to wreak havoc with you as well (check how your DM rules on White Raven charges vs Hold the Line, for instance, and beware enemy Covering Strikes). In these situations, you’d be a fool to rely on flash-stepping – so you don’t, and instead act like the AoO warrior you are, simply fighting back with standard trips, Stand Stills, and similar effects. And in other situations, you’d be a fool to not flash-step: when you see an incoming ubercharger, with Strength up the yin-yang and a size modifier bigger than your character level, you aren’t going to win any Strength checks to trip it, so you save your skin with a flash-step.

The trick is to keep your character solid without flash-steps, but to use flash-steps to bring that solid chassis where it’s needed rather than nailing yourself to the ground while the enemy attacks. That big shadow an AoO tank casts over the battlefield is a lot more menacing when it can move across each opponent in order of initiative (instead of acting as a stationary obstacle), for instance, and an ubercharger that can slide out of the way and re-align for a charge next round is a lot scarier than one who sits still with AC 2. It also adds a degree of unpredictability to frontliners, who can now reposition themselves (occasionally great distances!) to more dangerous or defensive positions in response to decoys. (i.e. rather than choosing "slice or no slice" when a skeleton runs past you, you can use the skeleton's movement to get close to the necromancer). Mix and match movement with attacks and keep the enemy guessing - an unpredictable, mobile foe is more dangerous than a predictable, stationary one, and all it takes to turn you from the latter to the former is a single feat.

Respond to your enemy attacks by flash-stepping out of the way – rather than engaging them in an outright struggle and hoping that foils the attack, simply don’t be there when the attack comes to land. React to an incoming enemy warrior by foiling their strike – and shifting your position to cover a gap in your defenses or to threaten a newly-nearby enemy who thought he was in the clear. Laugh as an ubercharger only serves to propel you further away on the battlefield via Hold the Line and a moving goalpost, or suddenly shift behind him for kicks and a perfectly-excecuted one-liner.  It’s all possible with the flash-step.

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.

Warning: more and more chargers will pack the Twisted Charge skill trick. That and other ways of "curving" charges mean a single Flash Step may not be sufficient.

And you didn't link that funny YouTube video illustrating what happens when two flash-steppers face off against each other T___T 
Warning: more and more chargers will pack the Twisted Charge skill trick. That and other ways of "curving" charges mean a single Flash Step may not be sufficient.


Three little words (Once Per Encounter) give the edge to the flash-stepper, particularly with Hold the Line (seriously, that's the perfect moving goalpost - as long as you at least match your enemy's reach, they cannot touch you while you have AoOs remaining, and you can bank your flash-steps in multiple directions (hooking behind someone, which is far beyond what Twisted Charge can do)).

That said, isn't it nice that it forces you to think in terms of different angles right away? Hell, I'm strongly considering renaming the Flash-Step Knight the "Rook Knight" to emphasize how it acts (like a rook on its turn (with straight-line long-distance ubercharges serving as an analogue for the rook's long-range, straight-line deterrents - rooks even favor open fields and are more powerful in the endgame (i.e. as a finishing move)), and a knight on its off-turn (as discussed above).

Edit: What was I waiting for? Yeah, "Rook Knight" is a much better name than "Flash-Step Knight". Flash-stepping is just part of what he does, and the new name removes any confusion as to its origin.

And you didn't link that funny YouTube video illustrating what happens when two flash-steppers face off against each other T___T 


Because it seemed like it would better fit in the comments than the initial writeup. Plus, being based off of anime (and Bleach at that, ugh), it's probably going to be polarizing (though nonetheless quite funny). Alternatively, I could have posted the similar story using Death Note instead of Bleach.

Honestly, I think this thread would benefit from an example. And I suspect that, if Aluonna hadn't made that Diplomacy check last game, we would probably have such an example to draw upon, wouldn't we...

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.

Psionic Charge is usable more than once per encounter. The psionic focus demands gives action advantage to the flash stepper, but it might still be a nasty surprise, and good psionic ubercharger only needs to charge once. Combine it with good positioning so they have to use up their 90 degree redirect before they reach you, though, and you're fine.

As for that Diplomacy check? No spoilers on what you missed. You're going to rumble with the Speakers soon enough. 
...Something just hit me on the train to work: Improved Trip says that if you trip a target in melee, you get a free attack against them, as if you hadn't used up your attack on the trip. The intent is probably to combine a damaging attack with the knockdown attack rather than knocking someone down and then slashing at them again, but the mechanics use a second, followup attack as if you hadn't used up your attack on the trip.

If the attack that tripped them was an AoO, then does the followup attack also count as an AoO? It wouldn't hit the Combat Reflexes limit since it's "as if" you hadn't used the attack, that much is clear - but since you took an AoO to trip him, and the followup is as if you hadn't used that attack on the trip (or, equivalently, if you had used that attack to strike at him), it seems like it might actually count as an AoO. As in, it would it benefit from effects like Deft Opportunist - or, more to the point in this thread, Evasive Reflexes.

If this is the case, then Improved Trip becomes the flash-step control feat of choice - trip someone and 5' (or 10') step away, towards other foes. Many freshly-prone targets are out of actions and parking an AoO tank next to a guy who takes no actions is usually not a winning strategy. (The exception is Defensive Sweep, but as noted in the opening post, Defensive Sweep doesn't care if you move. "If the target starts his turn adjacent to you and does not move" works just fine if he starts out next to you, then over the course of his actions you trip him and step away. Provided you still threaten him at the end, you get another AoO - which can easily translate into more movement.)

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.

Cool.

RE the Trip, I would say it does count as an AoO, but that you probably couldn't trip then 5ft-step with Evasive because by tripping, you've already decided to take the AoO. DM fiat territory again, though.
I would also say you wouldn't be able to move AND take the trip. The trip and the attack are part of the same action essentially is the way it reads.

If you trip an opponent in melee combat, you immediately get a melee attack



If you are trying to say that the attack action is seperate from the trip, you would also have to say that they both use up one of your AoOs.
I would also say you wouldn't be able to move AND take the trip. The trip and the attack are part of the same action essentially is the way it reads.

If you trip an opponent in melee combat, you immediately get a melee attack



If you are trying to say that the attack action is seperate from the trip, you would also have to say that they both use up one of your AoOs.


See, I just see the "immediately" referring to when you resolve the attack - as in, you can't take extra actions in between the trip and the attack. (For instance, if you use a Setting Sun throw to toss someone 10' away, you can't take a 5' step between the throw and the Improved Trip attack.)

Timing-wise, it works like Cleave, which is a complely separate attack - but mechanically they use very different language to describe the attack. The difference between Cleave and Improved Trip is that the former explicitly refers to it as an additional attack, while the latter says it's "a melee attack against that opponent as if you hadn’t used your attack for the trip attempt." Cleave gives you an extra attack for free, while Improved Trip appears to refund the original attack, which was an AoO - and can therefore be exchanged for a step.

I think, anyway. This does require DM adjucation, sort of like what happens when you charge at a target and the target moves in this manner.

And besides, even without this, flash stepping still seems to be a good way of adding some dynamic movement into the game.




...Still no comments on the builds? We gave three of them here!

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.

After thinking about it, I think it actually just wouldn't work at all. The trip has to actually be succesful for you to even get the extra attack, meaning you have to have used an action before you even know if you get the extra attack or not. Think of it like magic, you actually have to resolve the card before you get the effect.
I would just say that "melee attack" means just that. As always, "ask your DM". ;)
As I suggested above, it's something to check.

However, we're now on the second page by forum defaults without any real discussion on the trick or the builds... Seriously, what do you think?

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 think it's because you're using an interpretation of what's usable with Evasive Reflexes that not everyone agrees with, and so the builds aren't so universal, Tempest.

I personally don't think it overcomes Stand Still, and several others agree with me...all movement for the rest of the turn is pretty useful, even if you pop up more out of nowhere. And triggering it off an opponent you can't even reach? That's a big stretch.

I like the CONCEPT, mind you...I just don't think the execution is going to be so smooth, and it's comparable to a couple other builds that rely on DM fiat to go with your interpretation of the rules. And yes, some of them can be crazy effective.

I think you might have gone just a bit overboard on how cool the mechanic is and inundated us with it, and overdid it a smidge in your excitement.

Realize that most of your posts have been about taking one key element and designing a single character around it that can make it rock. Evasive Reflexes and a guy that is trying to stay out of combat make a good combo.

But three variants of the same trick as a Melee combatant kind of dilutes the effect.


That said:

Of the threebuilds, the best one is the first, because it's designed to be simple adn usable by a DM, and make a very frustrating melee enemy for the DM, if a bit complex to use.

The other two might differ significantly in execution, but they all use the same trick, just the emphasis has changed...and they rely more on your interpretation of how things work, which I don't agree with.

How's the cancer results coming along?

==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
Something to look at might be the "Cyran Gliding Boots"; though they only work on level ground or while moving downhill, they allow you to take 10' steps instead of 5' steps. 
Im a but confused as to where Pounce, Standstill, and Evasive Reflexes are all coming from at lvl 1 Barbarian(unless pounce is a class feature replacing something). Im also a bit of a newbie to character optimizing! >_>

If someone could point me in what directions these Feats(?) are found and how we have all three at lvl 1, that would be fantastic! thank you

Also i didnt see a suggested race for this (i may have missed it). Is there and reccomendations? Warforged is my goal, but am open to anything (human looks like a must tbh)
Im a but confused as to where Pounce, Standstill, and Evasive Reflexes are all coming from at lvl 1 Barbarian(unless pounce is a class feature replacing something). Im also a bit of a newbie to character optimizing! >_>


Pounce is a replacement ability from Complete Champion. Specifically, you exchange the Fast Movement ability for the Spiritual Totem: Lion ability, which at 1st level gives you pounce.
Stand Still is a feat (XPH/SRD). It's one of the better ones to consider as an AoO tank.
Evasive Reflexes is the ToB feat that's kind of central to all of this.

A first-level human character gets one feat at level one, plus one other bonus feat at level one, plus whatever his class provides. Here, that's Stand Still, Evasive Reflexes, and the Pounce ability (among other things). All three builds assume Human (we said so right under "Sample Builds").

The basic idea behind the flash step is easy to transfer to other builds though. The three presented here are just examples of how to do it. It's not hard to do it on a warforged. Just decide what exactly "it" is that you want to do (knowing that flash-stepping alone is not a key to victory, but rather a way of making AoO combat even more dynamic) and grab Evasive Reflexes (plus some of the AoO trigger options available here).

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.

Thank you tempest for the reply!
If you included Improved or Greater Combat Reflexes from Dragon #340 would they work with Evasive Reflexes to allow 2 (or 3) 5' steps per provoked AoO? Or could you take an AoO then a 5' step with Improved (or some combination of 3 with Greater)?
If you included Improved or Greater Combat Reflexes from Dragon #340 would they work with Evasive Reflexes to allow 2 (or 3) 5' steps per provoked AoO? Or could you take an AoO then a 5' step with Improved (or some combination of 3 with Greater)?


Sweet Cthulhu on a pogo stick, that's a badly written feat.

I presume that it was supposed to operate like Double Hit (in that in response to a single provoke, you spend a single AoO to make multiple attacks), but the way it's worded it looks like you're spending multiple AoOs in response to a single provoke.

That said, Evasive Reflexes does not actually replace a particular AoO - it is in response to a provoke. If you have those Dragon feats, the enemy is still only provoking once (you're just able to spend more AoOs in response to a particular provoke), so it looks like you'd only be able to 5' step once (or attack two or three times, but not some combination of the two).

This is probably a good thing. It wouldn't be hard to shuffle well over thirty feet in response to a single provoke with those feats, and that's without really trying to go further.

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'm catching up after months away from the board. I'm happy to see this as someone who mentioned Evasive Reflexes in a comment (bottom of the post) on one of your builds - to which you played coy, not mentioning you had this in the pipeline. ;)

As far as I can tell, with the right gear, nothing short of Thicket of Blades + heavy lockdown can stop this – and interestingly, an enemy Thicket also helps you. It’s hypothetically possible to try a flash-step out of a Thicket, provoking an attack, then using Robilar’s in response to the AoO to continue the flash-step attempt, provoking again, and so on, repeating until one or both of you are out of AoOs for the round. This is risky because the Robilar's AoOs resolve late - but they still happen! (With good enough defenses, Press the Advantage gives you a 2:1 advantage over the typical Thicket user for this, oddly – you provoke, they attack, you step twice, each of which provokes.) I wouldn’t suggest doing this unless you’re crazy, but how many other characters can single-handedly deplete an AoO tank’s attacks as part of normal fare?


Except that, as you point out above yourself:
"Moving out of more than one square threatened by the same opponent in the same round doesn’t count as more than one opportunity for that opponent."
which Thicket of Blades does not override.
Other impacted text
Under Outmaneuver:
"Consider what Thicket does to this well-known combination: someone tries to leave your threatened area, and you take a 5’ step to make sure you threaten where he’ll end up. Repeat. With a high enough Dexterity, or Press the Advantage, you can functionally replicate the Mirrored Pursuit counter this way."


Like aelrynth I have my misgivings (several AoOs on one charge from Hold the line? More than one extra 5ft step per round from Press the Advantage?) but again I'm perhaps too conservative (D&D-wise!) and discussing those brings nothing to the table: it's between DM and players.

In the end the part I like the most is the thought of combining flash-step with a standard Lock, to allow for better value through repositioning. So a strategic/build insight rather than a trick.
With that in mind, I think the 2nd build is my current favourite (I've been known to change my mind...).


I actually hadn't noticed Evasive Reflexes on Vidar. Andarious, that might prove tricky at times to make work with PbP, since the DM often resolves a bunch of the enemy actions at once. We'll see...

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
EDIT: Alright, I forgot that part in the introduction, but it seems like a really good swap: two feats and some skill ranks in order to actually do damage while flash-steping...

Ok, Asside from the fact that it takes two additional feats (Dodge, Mobility), tumble ranks, and Dex 15 , wouldn't Side Step (Mini) be a good addition, as it allows you to make a 5' Step after making an attack of opportunity? Or am I missing something?

VB
Ignoring the higher featintensity I believe that side step says it can only be done once a round vs evasive reflexes which clearly says any attack of oppertunity (also this counts as combat reflexes)
An item of interest: Boots of Sidestepping (Dun 40), which let you take a 5ft step (hence 10ft move) before you make a Reflex save. They're cheap too.

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 

So, I've been messing around with Evasive Reflexes a LOT lately thanks to you folks.

 

I've had two thoughts in particular. One is to combine it with fog-style effects that emanate from the caster, which provide total concealment if someone is more than 5' away. Evasive Reflexes alongside that would mean that any enemy who attempted to approach in an effort to see you would trigger Evasive Reflexes, allowing you to step out of the way. In particular, I think this works well with Snowsight and Obscuring Snow (both from Frostburn), since those both last hours per level, and allow you to see through your own fog cloud (and buff your allies to do that as well).

 

The other is to combine Evasive Reflexes with some sort of HiPS ability. Someone approaches you, and you 5' step out of the way and into hiding.

 

I've hacked together up a couple of build stubs with the former approach, including one cleric that is currently participating in an arena combat. As for the second approach, here is my best take on it thus far. I put it together for an archer build compendium I have over on the GitP boards.

 

Changeling, Ranger 3/Totemist 2/Umbral Disciple 3/Warshaper 4/Crusader 8

1. Ranger1- Point Blank Shot, Track
2. Ranger2- Rapid Shot
3. Totemist1- Precise Shot
4. Totemist2- 
5. Ranger3- 
6. Umbral Disciple1- Darkstalker
7. Umbral Disciple2- 
8. Umbral Disciple3- 
9. Crusader1- Evasive Reflexes
Bolstering Voice (s), Lion’s Roar, White Raven Tactics, Crusader’s Strike, Defensive Rebuke, Mountain Hammer
10. Crusader2- 
Thicket of Blades (s)
11. Warshaper1- 
12. Warshaper2- Craven
13. Warshaper3- 
14. Warshaper4- 
15. Crusader3- Robilar’s Gambit
Covering Strike
16. Crusader4- 
17. Crusader5- 
Order Forged From Chaos
18. Crusader6- Combat Reflexes
Crusader’s Strike -> Rallying Strike
19. Crusader7- 
Castigating Strike
20. Crusader8- 
Aura of Perfect Order (s)

If you can get your hands on Serpent Armor, drop Combat Reflexes for Extra Granted Maneuver.

This build works as a somewhat standard ranged build, but with lots of party-buffing crusader maneuvers. Your default stance is Thicket of Blades, and you threaten a 10' area thanks to natural weapons plus improved reach from Warshaper. You can attack and/or buff your party as you'd like, especially hitting folks with things like Covering Strike or Defensive Rebuke to force enemies to focus on you. However, when they approach you and go through your threatened area, you 5' step away into hiding thanks to Evasive Reflexes and Umbral Disciple. Robilar's Gambit gives you yet more AoO opportunities, so that even if someone manages to get close to you without triggering an AoO (such as via teleportation or flight) and attacks, you can still Evasive Reflexes away into hiding.

 

The basic idea is to be a ranged leader who appears out of hiding to rally the party and fire off ranged shots, but when anyone tries to counter-attack, you disappear before their very eyes.

Just wanted to show off the build stub, since it was directly inspired by Flash Step and Flip the Bird...

That fog cloud idea has me thinking of combining it with Ghostly Defense.