Champion of Darkness: A Drow Tempest Fighter Build
Melee-Magthere Champion / Gladiator Champion / Indomitable Champion
"Oh, you think darkness is your ally.
But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it.
I didn't see the light until I was already a man,
by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING!"
While looking through some of the new and interesting Dragon Magazine Themes designed for Drow Characters in the Builder, I started to become really enamored with the idea of making a Melee-Magthere Champion. Although I realize that Drow do not usually make the best Defenders, I decided to take a shot at designing a half-decent one for pure fluff and narrative purposes. What I have accidentally stumbled upon, however, might actually be a surprisingly potent Character that also has a lot of Drow-specific thematic goodness!
The name Champion of Darkness came forth due to the fact that his Theme, Paragon Path, and Epic Destiny all use the term “Champion”, and the strategy involved with the build relies heavily on keen use of the “Cloud of Darkness” Racial Power.
As previously stated, your effectiveness with this character revolves entirely around the optimal use of Cloud of Darkness. Because of this, your pre-disposition toward the Striker-Defender Role becomes outweighed by decidedly Controller-esque behavior. You will sacrifice overall DPR, but you’re ability to lockdown a group of key enemies (especially Solos) will increase exponentially!
Not only do you become ridiculously sticky, but you also become frustratingly difficult to hit. Tricks like Cloud of Darkness and Cloak of Distortion help you elude only the most adamant... or fortunate... of foes. Fair warning; this might severely annoy your Dungeon Master (but hey, you’re a Drow. Since when did you care for Mercy?).
IMPORTANT NOTE: I am brand new to the concept of serious optimization, especially theoretical High-Level optimization such as this. As such, there are a few areas that were left Blank (---) or Open-Ended (???) because I am not sure what the best choice would be for the build. I’m hoping more experienced Optimizers can help me in selecting more appropriate or effective choices to really get the most out of it. I also built this character as if the campaign or adventure initiated at Level 30, so a natural or logical progression of Feats is absent... I’ve simply cherry-picked the Feats I would want/need, without worrying about retraining or Tier-by-Tier effectiveness.
I'm also an HTML Noob, so sorry if this looks awkward.
Level 30 Snapshot:
Champion of Darkness, Level 30
Drow, Fighter (Weaponmaster), Gladiator Champion, Indomitable Champion
Build: Arena Fighter
Fighter Option: Combat Superiority
Fighter Talents Option: Tempest Technique
Epic Heroism Option: Strength
Epic Heroism Option: Dexterity
Backround: Born Under a Bad Sign (Born Under a Bad Sign Benefit)
Theme: Melee-Magthere Champion
FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 28, CON 12, DEX 26, INT 10, WIS 15, CHA 12
STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 18, CON 10, DEX 14, INT 8, WIS 11, CHA 10
AC: 48 Fort: 48 Ref: 44 Will: 41 HP: 237 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 59
Athletics +28, Endurance +20, Intimidate +23
Acrobatics +22, Arcana +15, Bluff +17, Diplomacy +16,
Dungeoneering +17, Endurance +15, Heal +17, History +15,
Insight +17, Nature +17, Perception +17,
Religion +15, Stealth +24, Streetwise +16, Thievery +22
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Melee-Magthere Champion Utility: Lurking Spider
Drow Racial Power: Cloud of Darkness
Fighter Attack: Combat Challenge
Fighter Attack 1: Footwork Lure
Fighter Attack 1: Knockdown Assault
Fighter Utility 2: Glowering Threat
Fighter Attack 3: Parry and Riposte
Fighter Attack 5: Rain of Steel
Fighter Attack 7: Come and Get It
Fighter Attack 9: Jackal Strike
Utility 6 (---)
Melee-Magthere Champion Utility 10: Black Widow's Bite
Gladiator Champion Attack 11: Opening Ploy
Gladiator Champion Utility 12: Fail to Disappoint
Fighter Attack 15: Unyielding Avalanche
Fighter Utility 16: Tangle Up
Fighter Attack 17: Revel in Pain
Fighter Attack 19: Masterful Parry
Gladiator Champion Attack 20: Finishing Strike
Fighter Utility 22: Martial Supremacy Fighter
Attack 23: Warrior's Urging
Fighter Attack 25: Reaper's Stance
Indomitable Champion Utility 26: Epic Tenacity
Fighter Attack 27: Cruel Reaper
Fighter Attack 29: Force the Battle
Indomitable Champion Utility 30: Unmatched Defense
Level 1: Xen'drik Weapon Training
Level 2: Heavy Blade Expertise
Level 4: Two-Weapon Fighting
Level 6: Agile Superiority
Level 8: Clutch of Darkness
Level 10: Knife in the Dark
Level 11: Web Spinner (???)
Level 12: Darkness Reign
Level 14: Cloud of Poison
Level 16: Blade Opportunist
Level 18: Heavy Blade Opportunity
Level 20: Improved Defenses
Level 21: Heavy Blade Mastery
Level 22: Lolth Blessed
Level 24: Fist of Night (???)
Level 26: Rapid Combat Challenge (???)
Level 28: Mobile Warrior
Level 30: Slashing Storm (???)
Master's Blade Drow long knife +6 x1
Drow long knife +6 x1 (---)
Elderhide Armor of Dark Deeds +6 x1 (???)
Elven Chain Shirt (epic tier)
Iron Armbands of Power (epic tier)
x1 Cloak of Distortion +6 x1
Eye of Awareness x1
Diamond Cincture (paragon tier) x1
Rushing Cleats x1 Shadow Band x1
Ring of Guarded Will x1
Backlash Tattoo x1
====== End ======
- Get Surrounded: Although your AC is not High-End Optimized (18+Level rather than 20+Level, though Shadow Band helps), the core of your effectiveness is directly proportional to the amount of enemies you have adjacent to you. Give in to your suicidal tendencies and aggravate as many bad guys as you can, so they all want to get in your face. Results are best when you snag tough-guy Elite types or even Solos that are high value threats to your team. Most of the powers selected for this character are ones that allow you to either pull enemies toward you in Burst AoEs, or attack multiple targets. This will aid you greatly in getting swarmed.
- Enter the Darkness: This is where things get good. Once you believe you have enough enemy attention and you have a few monsters adjacent to you, pop your Cloud of Darkness Racial Ability as a Minor Action. Because of your Clutch of Darkness feat, you should be able to have captured everyone adjacent to you, plus any stragglers who might be a square away. When this happens, all enemies will be Blinded and you will be Totally Obscured, which is a massive defense buff and a real incentive for enemies to try and escape the Cloud. But here’s a problem; if they are adjacent to you, they cannot shift to a square that is not Adjacent to you thanks to the Gladiator Champion “Whirlwind of Destruction” feature. This gives them two options, either:
A. Try and take a crack at you with a large penalty to the attack roll versus your respectable defenses, or...
B. Move away from you with a Standard Move Action, since shifting is denied. This will provoke an Opportunity Attack (Side Note: Some would argue that an enemy could Teleport from the Zone, which is true. But because Cloud of Darkness eliminates Line-of-Sight, the monster would specifically need a power that allows them to Teleport without it).
With Agile Superiority, you have a +8 bonus to OA’s, with another +2 from Blade Opportunist and additional +1 from Strikebacks. Thats a +11 Bonus on top of your base +37 to hit, making a whopping +48. With the Combat Advantage your enemies yield to you for being Blinded, that is essentially +50 to hit. It’s highly unlikely you’ll miss (although there are a few Stance Powers and Utility Powers built in to the character to reverse that Possibility, should you happen to do so). Your accuracy with OA’s is important because once your Cloud of Darkness is up, you’ll be using EVERY STANDARD ACTION to sustain the Zone with “Darkness Reign”. This is where your DPR gets dramatically lowered, barring the use of an Action Point... which is convienently counter-balanced by the fact that on the use of an AP, you also regenerate a use of Cloud of Darkness, meaning you can start these shenanigans once again later on in the battle. The big upside is, however, with Heavy Blade Opportunity you can use an At-Will attack to substitute a Basic Melee Attack. This brings us to..
- Bind Your Foes: As soon as an enemy tries to move away from you, OA with Knockdown Assault. Yes, yes, the damage is pitiful... but you’re not looking for damage. Your looking for the Prone. Because Knockdown Assault counts as an Opportunity Attack, your Level 5 Melee-Magthere Champion feature allows you to slow them until the end of their turn. With Combat Superiority, they also have their move action interrupted. Now not only has their movement been stopped, but they are Proned, AND Slowed. This puts them in an awkward position. They either move while Proned & Slowed (resulting in only a 1 Space movement for most monsters, as Crawling lets you only move half your speed, and Slowed reduces your base Land Speed to 2 squares), or they choose to use their new Move Action to stand up. Either way, the Monster is still trapped within the zone of your Cloud of Darkness, and susceptible to all it’s effects (more on that covered later).
If your enemies happen to stray too far away from you and seem as if they might make an escape on one of their future turns, you can instead shift or simply move about (since the enemies have a -7 penalty to OA's against you) to use Footwork Lure. Using Rushing Cleats will allow your Slide to place them in a square more towards the center of the Zone. After you enter their square with the shift granted by Footwork Lure, you can use Mobile Warrior to slink back to the center of the Madness to further entrap your victims. The Gladiator Champion at-will “Fail to Disappoint” feature also aids you in this regard.
There are also several avenues to Slow, Prone and Immobilize enemies with other powers and features in the build. Lurking Spider will help you spread Slows out on Immediate Reactions, and Black Widow’s Bite can Immobilize on a Trigger. Tangle Up can also Prone enemies with whom you are striking with Footwork Lure, allowing you to slide and prone in one big movement. Finally, the “Webspinner” feat in combination with your Frequent use of OAs and increased critical hit threat range (19-20) will net you some lucky Immobilization+Prone combos, which can be absolutely
- Bleed ‘Em Slow: The main drawback to this style of play is the greatly reduced amount of Standard Action attacks, but there are ways around this. Firstly, enemies within your Cloud of Darkness are taking 5 Poison Damage per round, which is decent enough (unless they have poison resistance). Slashing Storm provides a moderate bonus of +2, making it +7 Damage to adjacent enemies per Round. However, should you Bloody any of these adjacent enemies, the Gladiator Champions “Halo of Destruction” feature would trigger; adding an ADDITIONAL +9 damage, which could also set off some painful AoE Bloody-damage Domino Effects.
The real heavy-hitting combo available here is using Stance Powers in combination with your Master's Blade Long Knife to generate a large amount of aura damage. For example, take a look at "Reaper's Stance", which generates an additional +8 Damage on all your OAs, as well as 1[W] to all adjacent targets an inflicts Ongoing 10 (Save Ends). Mix this with "Force the Battle", and now all your OAs do an additional 1[W], and you can make Free Action At-Will attacks (with the aforementioned +8 bonus) to enemies who remain adjacent to you. Throw in Burst attack powers (especially on Action Points) for best results. If you have a multitude of adjacent targets, thats a lot of stacking damage being spread around.
In addition to auto-damaging and stances, you also have access to some Immediate Reaction-style attacks that trigger when your hapless prey strikes back at you. Abilities like Masterful Parry and Revel in Pain ensure that you will still be generating enviable damage even while your Standard Actions are pre-occupied sustaining your Darkness zone.
- Evasive Maneuvers: Despite wearing Hide Armor and not packing a Shield, your Defenses are pretty decent given your healthy Dexterity score and Item Selection. You also have a few ways of increasing your ability to dodge damage or improving damage resistance through Powers. Obviously, staying within the zone of your Cloud of Darkness is a huge boon against attackers in and of itself. But another interesting note is that ranged Artillery attackers will also be relatively useless against your assault on their close-quarters teammates. Cloak of Distortion grants a -6 Penalty to enemy ranged attack rolls, not counting the -5 for being totally obscured. With -11 to hit, Artillery may as well be shooting straight up into the sky.
Other than the infrequency of standard action attacks, this is probably the builds second most prevalent weakness. You do not play very nicely with others. Because your Cloud of Darkness totally obscures the affected zone and blinds all CREATURES inside, you apply a hefty debuff to both friendly Ranged and Melee attacks aimed at the enemies caught within. The bottom tagline “You are immune to these effects” also means that other allied Drow or comrades with Darkvision are also susceptible to the negative attributes of the Cloud. Basically; you have to handle all combat situations like a lone wolf, separating yourself from the group quickly to agitate and imprison important targets while your teammates clean up whatever other threats might be present. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however. You are still denying creatures within your Cloud of Darkness the ability to effectively engage or damage your teammates, so you are (for all intents and purposes) completing your Defender objective quite adequately... and to a degree, ensnaring key mobs and thinning the enemy herd is a rather effective strategy.
The main problem arises when battling enemies with massive health pools. Because of your lower damage output, it’s unlikely that you alone will be able to finish off a Solo or even meaty Elite. Your constant pestering and pummeling of a larger target while your friends conquer the lesser enemies will tend to draw fights out (especially since they cannot effectively help you gang up on the solo due to your debuffs). More often than not, you will be distracting and sticking down a primary adversary long enough that it is the only creature left on the field, where you will then allow your Cloud of Darkness to dissipate so the entire party can finish the Boss off. As long as your Dungeon Master or fellow party members aren’t driven insane by this methodical approach, you’re in the clear... but I could see where it might wear away the patience of more aggressive teammates, or with groups where combat tends to run faster.
Basically, I’m just looking to see what people think, gain some feedback/perspective, and acquire some advice or opinions on how to better improve the character. I think that as it stands, the build does a great job of fulfilling a very niche market for Drow who would like to tackle the Defender role, and it satisfies a lot of character-driven tropes built around Dark Elf fighters in general (which was the original intention).
I need help with a few things in the Item Department (mainly, what would make a suitable Off-Hand enchantment, and what would be the best for Armor), as well as a few Feats. For example, how necessary is Rapid Combat Challenge seeing as allies aren’t likely to be adjacent to enemies in your Cloud of Darkness? Is Fist of Night necessary? Would Two-Weapon Opening/Threat/Flurry be more viable? That sort of thing. There's also still a large portion of GP Available for Wondrous Items or Consummables that would be tactically beneficial.
In closing, thank you for everyone who sat and read this whole thing, hope you enjoyed it; and I can’t wait to hear what people have to say!