Weekly Optimization Showcase: Zero Buff Time Gish

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As usual for the showcase, these builds are intended to spur discussion and perhaps inspire a few people in the spirit of the old CO boards. They come from members of my gaming group - me, TempestStormwind, DisposableHero_, Andarious, Sionnis, and Seishi - and I'll always identify who wrote the build at the start, so do not assume I'm the guy behind all of them (because I'm not!).

Unless otherwise noted, showcase builds use 28 point-buy, and have their snapshots evaluated using fractional base attack / saves (because it simplifies the math). None of them actually rely on fractional to be built, though. The format I use showcases their progression at key levels rather than just presenting the build and showing off a few tricks at level 20; most of these are capable of being played 1-20 if you so choose. 


With that out of the way, let's get started. This week, one of Andarious’ ideas gets the spotlight (I may have added a few spell and magic item suggestions here and there).


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

0 BUFF TIME GISH


Try to keep up!



Required Books: Complete Mage, the Swiftblade online enhancement, Complete Champion, Complete Warrior. Unsurprisingly, the Magic Item and Spell compendiums are useful as hell.
Unearthed Arcana used: None!


Background: Andarious likes his gishes. However, he’s not so big a fan of wasting several rounds at the outset of combat turning into a serious threat; in that time the alpha strikers can end the whole fight. So he whipped up this bad boy to get right to the beating face stage of combat. The Zero Buff Time Gish is fast, hard hitting, versatile, well prepared for nearly anything, and capable of going from 0 to greatsword-in-your-face on round 1.



The Basics



  • Race: Illumian (Aeshkrau).

  •  Ability Scores: 16/14/14/14/8/8. Fighter first, caster second is the order of the day, so Strength gets all the tomes and level ups.


Skill Notes: Andarious’ original skill loadout maxed Concentration, Spellcraft, and Knowledge: Arcana, threw 5 ranks in Jump and 10 in Balance, and still had enough left over for 18 ranks in Tumble and four skill tricks.


Basic Equipment: Aside from your greatsword, spellbook, and spell component pouch? You’re pretty easy to equip. Given how fragile you are at the early levels, items like tanglefoot bags may not go amiss.


Magical Gear Goals: As your only melee investment is a big fat greatsword with the best enhancements you can put on it, your have a lot of free cash to spare. Pearls of Power and Rings of Wizardry are very handy to you. You may want a ring of the Diamond Mind to get Mind Over Body and shore up your weakest save. Oh, and ioun stones, of course.


 



The Build.
Build Stub: Wizard6/Swiftblade9/Abjurant Champion5

1 – Wizard – (Familiar) (Greatsword Proficiency, Scribe Scroll) (Aesh sigil)

*
Spells to grab: True Strike and Shield 

You start as a wannabe gish, but you can do an okay job of it if you pick on weaker enemies who are unlikely to survive a greatsword hit.


2 – Wizard – (Krau sigil)

*
Your full runeword comes online now.

3 – Wizard – (Dodge)

*
Spells to grab: Heroics and Invisibility

Realistically, despite your gish setup, you’re probably still getting more killing power from the spells that f*cking kill people at this level. But it’s nice to be efficient with the melee when mooks show up.


4 – Wizard –

*
Spells to grab: Protection from Arrows, Rope Trick

5 – Wizard – (Spontaneous Divination)

*
Spells to grab: Haste, Tongues 

This Complete Champion alternate class feature offers a lot more than it appears. Nothing is worse than casting a buff that doesn’t help you out; the ability to pull divinations out whenever you need them will be a big help later. You will eventually be able to identify ambushes, creatures with special defenses, casters who can dispel, and other gish killing traps in advance and adjust your tactics accordingly.


6 – Wizard – (Mobility)

*
A dull prereq feat and you’re not allowed to cast anything with your 3rd level slots besides Haste. Ehhhhhh…

7 – Swiftblade – (Swift surge +1/0 ft.) (Spring Attack)

*
Spells to grab: Heart of Water, Greater Mage Armor

Now that you’re allowed to cast 3rd level spells other than Haste again, time to pick up a better Mage Armor and the poor man’s Freedom of Movement. Spring Attack compensates for our lack of durability; stay safe and out of reach.


8 – Swiftblade – (Blurred alacrity)

*
Spells to grab: Polymorph, Arcane Eye

9 – Swiftblade – (Sudden casting) (Arcane Strike)

*
Spells to grab: Dimension Door, Stoneskin

We start living up to the name of the build; our signature spell can be quickened for free now. Arcane Strike gives us a nice damage source to spend our heaps of bonus spells on.


10 – Swiftblade – (Arcane reflexes, swift surge +1/10 ft.)

*
The loss of a spellcasting progression level sucks, but you will be acting sooner.

11 – Swiftblade – (Evasive celerity)

*
Spells to grab: Teleport, Telepathic Bond

The miss chance from blurred alacrity maxes out now, at the same time we get another miss chance. Swiftblade helps reduce buffing times as one spell just does so many things for us.


12 – Swiftblade – (Fortified hustle) (Power Attack)

*
Spells to grab: Improved Blink

We need ability boosters to cast 5th level spells, but you’re level 12; how do you not have them? Protection from dispelling and antimagic is handy at least. With PA, we now have a means to start dealing real damage, fueled by Arcane Strike. This is about the tipping point where you are more gish than caster, so act like it. Get Improved Blink if you don’t have it already; it’s a great defensive buff and it stacks with your miss chance from blurred alacrity. It does NOT stack with your miss chance from evasive celerity, but that hasn’t reached 50% yet, and it doesn’t protect you from area effects or allow you to walk through walls.


13 – Swiftblade – (Swift surge +2/10 ft.) (Bounding Assault)

*
This is the only level at which you lose a caster level. Given that you now have the ability to give ‘em the ol’ one-two with Bounding Assault, it’s a fair price to pay.

14 – Swiftblade – (Diligent rapidity)

*
Spells to grab: True Seeing, Mislead 

You no longer need Heart of Water for its FoM effect, but it can still compensate for diligent rapidity’s limitations if you can’t cross that body of water in one round.


15 – Swiftblade – (Perpetual options) (Combat Casting)

*
Spells to grab: Contingency, Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability

And now we live up to the name. Haste now gives us extra actions that we can cast buffs with while fighting. And by now, you should have two spells that allow you to turn on your buffs as non-actions – not swift actions, non-actions.


16 – Abjurant Champion – (Abjurant armor, extended abjuration)

*
Spells to grab: Vision, Waves of Exhaustion 

Time for another gish PrC to keep that BAB and HP up. At this point you should have the divinations that will let you get the most use out of your earlier ACF and keep you ahead of your enemies.


17 – Abjurant Champion – (Swift abjuration)

*
Isn’t it great casting buffs as swift actions so you can buff and fight at the same time?

18 – Abjurant Champion – (Elusive Target)

*
Spells to grab: Moment of Prescience, Mind Blank

Power Attackers are hard countered by this lovely feat.


19 – Abjurant Champion – (Arcane boost)

*
The offensive options provided by this class feature don’t offer much compared to Arcane Strike, but the defensive options are quite handy.

20 – Abjurant Champion – (Martial arcanist)

*
Spells to grab: Shapechange, Foresight 

Woohoo, 9th level spells! If you haven’t got the tomes yet and you don’t like being dependent on Int boosters to cast your highest level spells, grab Wish and provide your own inherent bonuses.


Snapshot: We end up at level 20, assuming +6 ability boosters on Str, Dex, Con, and Int (we don’t have any other major expenditures besides the weapon, so this is not a great demand), packing a +17 BAB (+33 melee attack rolls with a +5 weapon and Haste on, and you know Haste will be on), a caster level of 19 and 17 levels of wizard spellcasting, saves of +11/+14/+14 before cloaks or luckstones or such, 175 hit points, and an AC in the 35 range with buffs up before you grab stuff like rings of protection. On the first round of combat, you can put up Haste as a swift action, trigger a Contingency buff (up to a 6th level spell), have your familiar cast his imbued spell on you, and still have a full round action to full attack, charge, or Bounding Assault. On the second round, you can cast any abjuration buff of your choice as a swift action and keep laying down own. If that’s not enough time for you, I suppose a scroll of Time Stop would be handy…

Overall Strengths: Here we have a gish that makes it happen when it needs to happen, if not sooner. The confluence of good BAB, caster level, and spell access is pretty great for a framework, but your ability to start beating serious face right away is the biggest appeal of this build. Arcane Strike, lots of bonus spell slots, and Power Attack mean you can do a fair amount of damage. You’re mobile as swiftblades are wont to be and hard to hit with all your miss chances. And you can still pack the fixit utility spells when an awkward magical trap or environmental hazard shows up.

Overall Weaknesses: You take a while to get going; you’re a suboptimal wizard for a third of your progression and a lightweight gish for another third. Slightly fragile for a front liner, you’ll be in trouble if someone can drop or pierce your magical defenses. No investment in the save DCs of your spells means that you don’t really have access to many of the spells that end fights (I recommend the no-save Necromancy debuffs, particularly those delivered by rays, to compensate). A reliance on Arcane Strike to fuel Power Attack for serious damage does mean that you will be burning through your considerable spell slots fairly fast. There’s a period in your progression where a good dispel knocking out your Int circlet can cut off your access to high level spells (though you can still Arcane Strike with those slots).



Variants:  A Focused Specialist Transmuter would get considerably more spell slots, at the cost of two schools. Enchantment and Evocation would probably be the schools to drop; you don't do spells that rely on high save DCs, they’re not your thing. If you’re not into Elusive Target, feel free to replace it with another feat, and remember in such a case to switch Dodge with Expeditious Dodge too.

Andarious wanted to add:

if people aren't happy with this build there's another Gish I finished partway through this build which is much more cohesive albeit probably less powerful in melee. One of the nice things about the other gish is that it really only need give up a single caster level, or two if you want a bit more arcane spell failure reduction.

 

 


There you have it. It's nice when things just work. And it's even nicer when they work right now.


 


Next up: We'll let you know. The list of remaining available builds is currently being finalized. That said, we'd be glad to hear what general types of builds you would like. Alternatively, if there were any previous showcases in particular that you really liked, go ahead and tell us "give us another like that" (or if you really didn't like them, I guess a "go back and try that one again" will do too...).

I really liked the build I really like how andarious designs characters I feel we think along the same lines. I personally love psionic gishes though but that more out of preferance. I really like the build though it does what it says on the box and there is no opening for a dm to argue. Also the power level is probably high t3 or mid t2 its not an unfair game breaker. As for what I would like to see next week, I was thinking of putting a vote for abomidable throwman (air elemental/swordsage comes to mind) or "handy" a build from quite awhile back. It has intrigues me because I don't knwo if he has multiple hands or if he is a handy man. The suspense has been killing me for months. Also would it be viable to switch elusive target for a 3rd swing on spring attack I feel that might be very viable. In finishing I have almost finished a build using your originally posted build "quiet murder" which utilizies a tad more swashbuckler to up the bab and the attacks off a spring attack. Would you be opposed to me adding a flaw to it (only way I can get it to work I think ill double check though) but I figured I'd ask just so I didn't get chastised for using that when the original build didn't need any.
I build with as simple as possible, I don't include flaws, but often include the "if you're using flaws". I didn't this time, no real idea what exactly I'd do with flaws in the build, tbh. Power Attack wouldn't go amis, for sure.  I'm fairly certain none of us are going to get upset if you modify the builds we post for your own purposes.

The way it works best for you is what matters. The only thing I'd avise against is modifying a build that has feat or feature interactions you don't completey get, because you may be losing certain synergies in choices. As most of these interactions are detailed in the posts, as long as you've read the posts that won't be a problem.
Yeah, feel free to modify away.

Rapid Blitz will be tough, though. It requires BAB 18 IIRC, and this build doesn't get that pre-epic. You could make that happen by entering with Battle Sorceror instead of Wizard and nabbing it with Heroics, but that's a HUGE loss of casting power (and Spontaneous Divination).
You're correct I opened my mouth before looking at the pre reqs and all the finer details. I miss counted the bab in my head too which didn't help.
No starting int 18 makes me cry a little inside, as does no Spellsword.

While interesting as a build, the MAD, combined with the lack of Persist and a bunch of other Gish staples, as well as my general distaste for Swiftblade makes me view this as absolutely inferior to a standard Sorcadin. In fact, it really looks a lot like a normal Swiftblade, which seriously hurts it in the style category.

Now, for the next builds, I've always been impressed by your more powerful or complex builds. Wizsassin, Ashardalon, and Psycarnum Warrior are probably my favorites overall, though Gun-Fu was a very nice one as well. I vote for an interesting build that has both power and style. But, hey, that's just me.
Customer Disservice of the House of Trolls Resident Secretly Ron Paul God of Spite and Sloth
EA, aeshkrau makes it mostly SAD - Strength determines bonus spells, but it still requires high INT to be able to access the spells. Plus it has a racial +1 caster level, which helps make up for the swiftblade. And there's no Spellsword because there's no way to enter the class without fighter/paladin/Duskblade/samurai levels. I looked.
For my vote... I'd like to see something that uses one of YOUR classes - either a martial ranger build or something out of DSP.
"Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter." -Condoleezza Rice "My fellow Americans... I've just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes." - Ronald Reagan This user has been banned from you by the letters "O-R-C" and the numbers "2, 3, 4, and 6"
User Quotes
56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
Oooo... Draco's got a good suggestion... I think there's a good Martial Ranger or two.
Except that Aeshkrau is horrible. Anyways, Wizard means slots are lulz.
Customer Disservice of the House of Trolls Resident Secretly Ron Paul God of Spite and Sloth
I'm curious as to how you reach that conclusion.
It would be cool to see one of your custom classes, but if you could pretty please link that! I would hate to not see links for everything to understand the build concept more. A cool ranged one I would like to see(although still curious about handy)! Anyway you guys do a great job!
I'm curious as to how you reach that conclusion.

Aeshkrau being horrible? Because everything it affects is lulz anyways. Why bother?

Why slots are lulz? God wizard+focused specialist=
Customer Disservice of the House of Trolls Resident Secretly Ron Paul God of Spite and Sloth
I'm curious as to how you reach that conclusion.

Aeshkrau being horrible? Because everything it affects is lulz anyways. Why bother?

Why slots are lulz? God wizard+focused specialist=


That's still not quite answering the question. Either question, actually.

Re: Aeshkrau: We've used it before and it really helped reduce MAD on several gishtypes. Not to outstanding levels, but to manageable ones. The A-Game Paladin comes to mind as a good example of this (although that fudged things a bit on the RP front; a version focused on the Mystra aspect would be able to focus almost entirely on Strength using Aeshkrau). In fact, we used the virtually identical Uurkrau on the Wizsassin, a build you yourself said you liked and thought was effective.

Re: Slots. We were playing around with some options today which might make slots "lulz", but it's far more involved (and interesting) than just "god wizard + focused specialist". I admit I'm not the most proficient wizard player,  so I may not be aware of everything that goes into the "god" role. Would you care to enlighten?

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

It would be cool to see one of your custom classes, but if you could pretty please link that! I would hate to not see links for everything to understand the build concept more. A cool ranged one I would like to see(although still curious about handy)! Anyway you guys do a great job!

Martial Ranger
And don't feel bad; this was the first build in a long time that only used books that I already own.  
"Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter." -Condoleezza Rice "My fellow Americans... I've just signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes." - Ronald Reagan This user has been banned from you by the letters "O-R-C" and the numbers "2, 3, 4, and 6"
User Quotes
56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
Resident Pithed-Off Dragon Poon Slayer of the House of Trolls
That's still not quite answering the question. Either question, actually.

Really? I thought it was relatively clear.
Re: Aeshkrau: We've used it before and it really helped reduce MAD on several gishtypes. Not to outstanding levels, but to manageable ones. The A-Game Paladin comes to mind as a good example of this (although that fudged things a bit on the RP front; a version focused on the Mystra aspect would be able to focus almost entirely on Strength using Aeshkrau). In fact, we used the virtually identical Uurkrau on the Wizsassin, a build you yourself said you liked and thought was effective.

Wile I haven't even looked at Krau in a long time, the last Illumian I actually built was a kickass Naenhoon Mystic Theurge, there are, if I'm not mistaken, other, non-crappy Krau combinations. All you specifically called out in the race section was Krau, which is obvious for a UM.
Re: Slots. We were playing around with some options today which might make slots "lulz", but it's far more involved (and interesting) than just "god wizard + focused specialist". I admit I'm not the most proficient wizard player,  so I may not be aware of everything that goes into the "god" role. Would you care to enlighten?

A God wizard is, more or less, the wizard who effectively ends encounters, whether the other players or DM knows it or not, with one spell, maybe two, under nearly all situations. The god wizard knows it's a bad idea to waste slots, and doesn't blow them unnecessarily. A Focused Specialist gives them enough slots to make the Sorcerer break down in tears. So, massive efficiency+lots of slots=lulz.
Customer Disservice of the House of Trolls Resident Secretly Ron Paul God of Spite and Sloth

A God wizard is, more or less, the wizard who effectively ends encounters, whether the other players or DM knows it or not, with one spell, maybe two, under nearly all situations. The god wizard knows it's a bad idea to waste slots, and doesn't blow them unnecessarily. A Focused Specialist gives them enough slots to make the Sorcerer break down in tears. So, massive efficiency+lots of slots=lulz.


Tempest, you know God wizards. You played one: Dayvid. Morris, while an Archivist, is effectively another.

Anyways, given that Aeshkrau gives you spell slots in the "lulz" category as you define it and lets you focus on your primary attack modifier instead of your casting modifier, I don't see the point. This isn't a build that casts spells with save DCs - entirely different set of strategies.
That's still not quite answering the question. Either question, actually.

Really? I thought it was relatively clear.
Re: Aeshkrau: We've used it before and it really helped reduce MAD on several gishtypes. Not to outstanding levels, but to manageable ones. The A-Game Paladin comes to mind as a good example of this (although that fudged things a bit on the RP front; a version focused on the Mystra aspect would be able to focus almost entirely on Strength using Aeshkrau). In fact, we used the virtually identical Uurkrau on the Wizsassin, a build you yourself said you liked and thought was effective.

Wile I haven't even looked at Krau in a long time, the last Illumian I actually built was a kickass Naenhoon Mystic Theurge, there are, if I'm not mistaken, other, non-crappy Krau combinations. All you specifically called out in the race section was Krau, which is obvious for a UM.
Re: Slots. We were playing around with some options today which might make slots "lulz", but it's far more involved (and interesting) than just "god wizard + focused specialist". I admit I'm not the most proficient wizard player,  so I may not be aware of everything that goes into the "god" role. Would you care to enlighten?

A God wizard is, more or less, the wizard who effectively ends encounters, whether the other players or DM knows it or not, with one spell, maybe two, under nearly all situations. The god wizard knows it's a bad idea to waste slots, and doesn't blow them unnecessarily. A Focused Specialist gives them enough slots to make the Sorcerer break down in tears. So, massive efficiency+lots of slots=lulz.


Thanks, that clears it up quite a bit. 

Re: Krau: A couple of its combinations are useful for reducing MAD if you're not using powers with saving throws. The aforementioned A-Game Paladin is a good example of this, because it's not hard to hit the minimum "real" ability score to hit maximum spell levels, because the base spell slots are small (and thus bonus spells make up a bigger proportion of your stamina), and because the class itself suffers from a degree of MAD to begin with (Krau itself also helps with the slower CL progression). The Zero Buff Time Gish is similar, but needs a slightly higher "real" ability score to get the higher level spell slots. (Also, wizard doing gish is sort of like the Wand Overdrive build in that it's a step down in power compared to the base class, while the A-Game Paladin was several steps up from standard, so perhaps this isn't the most apt comparison. But then again, you've admitted that wizards can be disruptive - I concur completely with the don't-be-a-douche sentiment!)

Re: God wizard: Ah, I see - it's a demand-side solution rather than a supply-side one. I interpreted your original remark as something more like "A god wizard has enough ways to get unlimited stamina that he will laugh in the face of limited spells per day" rather than the more apparent "Each and every spell slot is at least one enemy (and often one entire encounter) down, and we have enough spell slots on that scale".



RT: Dayvid wasn't terribly well-equipped, and EA has repeatedly said that WBL optimization is perhaps the single strongest part of the optimization game. I've never seen a comprehensive single "why WBL is win" thread, now that I think about it - could a commoner 20 with full PC WBL be a significant challenge, for instance - even though I've got what I think are the basics down.


Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

Since you all ask, I particularly liked the "Inevitable Nightmare" - I like builds that (albeit perhaps not as powerful as a damage-focused build) have turn after turn after turn of focused reliablility. I'd like to see another build that did something along those lines, focusing on reliability and repeatability/ sustainability, if it was possible to do one without covering past ground. 

I'd also like to say that I really like your builds in general; I've been lurking for a while but never posted on them before.

edit: Err, incorrect. It appears my only other post /was/ on one of these. Huh. 
The Inevitable Nightmare was actually kind of embarrassing in hindsight, since it appeared I'd kind of stumbled on to almost exactly the same trick that had been used for ages under the name "Meditant" (there are significant differences, but the builds are clearly similar enough). I'd been out of the optimization scene for a while and didn't know about the build, but it's still embarrassing to be scooped by years - even moreso than usual because I'm in academia, and after all the diligent work I did on the math, it was kind of an amateur mistake.

Still, Andarious' take on that approach - the Dream Blade - fits the criteria you mentioned and is a lot easier to work with. And we were kind of hammering out ideas in the same vein (albeit from a completely different playstyle) yesterday. None are ready for writeups yet (still finalizing some things), but they should make a bit of a splash.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

Why were you out of the optimization scene for so long anyways?
Anyways, given that Aeshkrau gives you spell slots in the "lulz" category as you define it and lets you focus on your primary attack modifier instead of your casting modifier, I don't see the point. This isn't a build that casts spells with save DCs - entirely different set of strategies.

Strength is easy enough to boost it doesn't actually require any investment. That is one of the many reasons especially Aeshkrau(I think that's the Str one) is lulz. Strength doesn't even do anything else. It's pretty useless. It'd be much more efficient, especially on a character who uses strength, to have a higher Int score.
Re: Krau: A couple of its combinations are useful for reducing MAD if you're not using powers with saving throws. The aforementioned A-Game Paladin is a good example of this, because it's not hard to hit the minimum "real" ability score to hit maximum spell levels, because the base spell slots are small (and thus bonus spells make up a bigger proportion of your stamina), and because the class itself suffers from a degree of MAD to begin with (Krau itself also helps with the slower CL progression). The Zero Buff Time Gish is similar, but needs a slightly higher "real" ability score to get the higher level spell slots. (Also, wizard doing gish is sort of like the Wand Overdrive build in that it's a step down in power compared to the base class, while the A-Game Paladin was several steps up from standard, so perhaps this isn't the most apt comparison. But then again, you've admitted that wizards can be disruptive - I concur completely with the don't-be-a-douche sentiment!)

But the problem is, as I've stated earlier, any real investment in strength is inefficient. I especially cannot agree with not having access to 9s without gear. I mean, one Disjunction and this guy goes and cries in a corner, but seriously, it's far too easy to get massive strength. Bite of the Werebear is lol, same with the many other damage and strength-boosting spells, and getting out-of-list fun spells like Giant Size is just . Basically, if you need to really invest in strength, urdoinitwrong.

So, as I've said, it's more efficient to forget the anti-MAD sigils, where the only possible use I can think of would be trying to build a theurge in, like, 16PB.
Re: God wizard: Ah, I see - it's a demand-side solution rather than a supply-side one. I interpreted your original remark as something more like "A god wizard has enough ways to get unlimited stamina that he will laugh in the face of limited spells per day" rather than the more apparent "Each and every spell slot is at least one enemy (and often one entire encounter) down, and we have enough spell slots on that scale".

That's mostly correct, although a properly-equiped focused specialist does pretty much have the supply side covered as well. 
RT: Dayvid wasn't terribly well-equipped, and EA has repeatedly said that WBL optimization is perhaps the single strongest part of the optimization game. I've never seen a comprehensive single "why WBL is win" thread, now that I think about it - could a commoner 20 with full PC WBL be a significant challenge, for instance - even though I've got what I think are the basics down.

I've actually been thinking about putting that kind of thread together, or at least a demonstration of how a full-WBL commoner can laugh at a fighter1. The only reasons I haven't are a combination of sloth and the fact that I doubt many people here would be terribly interested.

1Yes, the fighter will be strictly superior, but the fighter has other concerns, like a fancy weapon, that will suck up large amount of WBL. A fully optomized WBL should roflstomp that.
Customer Disservice of the House of Trolls Resident Secretly Ron Paul God of Spite and Sloth
Ah! That's wonderful; thank you for the information. And I had seen the Mediant comment, but it didn't seem to be the same kind of thing; yes, the same purpose, but it appeared yours was more reliable... Plus I'm biased towards Warforged (and living weapons at that). 
Variant: If UA is in play, get Martial Weapon Proficiency instead of Scribe Scroll from the Martial Wizard ACF - you save one feat.

I like the build but... in my eyes it's just a classic, straightforward Swiftblade build.


As for my favourite among your builds, perhaps the A-Game Paladin. I'd have to go through the list to be sure.

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 

Human – Militia


Level 1 – Wizard 1 – Dodge
Level 2 – Wizard 2
Level 3 – Wizard 3 – Mobility
Level 4 – Wizard 4
Level 5 – Wizard 5 – Bonus Feat (Extend Spell)
Level 6 – Wizard 6 – Combat Casting
Level 7 – Swiftblade 1
Level 8 – Swiftblade 2
Level 9 – Swiftblade 3 – Endurance
Level 10 – Spelldancer 1
Level 11 – Swiftblade 4
Level 12 – Swiftblade 5 – Persistent Spell
Level 13 – Swiftblade 6
Level 14 – Swiftblade 7
Level 15 – Swiftblade 8 – Ocular Spell
Level 16 – Swiftblade 9
Level 17 – Abjurant Champion 1
Level 18 – Abjurant Champion 2 – Quicken or Reach Spell
Level 19 – Abjurant Champion 3
Level 20 – Abjurant Champion 4


Requirements for Swiftblade are already half way to Spelldancer, which you use to apply Ocular and Persist on your spells. With what Omen said, this build hasn't to choose between Quicken or Reach, and if Ocular really makes Reach obsolete, then we can replace Reach for anything awesome.

What are Militia and Spelldancer?
Two... Ah ah ah! Three.. Ah ah ah! Four... Ah ah ah! Six... Ah ah ah!!
88534793 wrote:
Punctuation exists for a reason, and your neglect of the shift key is to the point where Social Services should be involved.
Militia is a feat from Player's Guide to Faerun that gives you proficiency with all martial weapons, and Spelldancer is a Prestige Class that reduces metamagic cost by... Dancing lol, it's from Magic of Faerun.
Fighter feats won't allow to buy Martial Weapon Proficiency, but allow to buy Dodge and Mobility, so the tip given by Omen isn't totally wrong, here's the new build:

Human – Militia

Level 1 – Wizard 1 (Fighter Feat Variant) – Bonus Feat (Dodge) and Extend Spell
Level 2 – Wizard 2
Level 3 – Wizard 3 – Combat Casting
Level 4 – Wizard 4
Level 5 – Wizard 5 – Bonus Feat (Mobility)
Level 6 – Wizard 6 – Endurance
Level 7 – Swiftblade 1
Level 8 – Swiftblade 2
Level 9 – Swiftblade 3 – Persistent Spell
Level 10 – Spelldancer 1
Level 11 – Swiftblade 4
Level 12 – Swiftblade 5 – Ocular Spell
Level 13 – Swiftblade 6
Level 14 – Swiftblade 7
Level 15 – Swiftblade 8 – Reach Spell
Level 16 – Swiftblade 9
Level 17 – Abjurant Champion 1
Level 18 – Abjurant Champion 2 – Quicken Spell
Level 19 – Abjurant Champion 3
Level 20 – Abjurant Champion 4

Yes, thank you for the correction, that is what I meant. It would be silly for MWP to be a Fighter feat since they are already proficient.

I also recommend Spontaneous Divination at level 5... except if you have a full caster wizard in the party: then he should be the one who takes it.

Another point to mention is Expeditious Dodge (RotW) instead of Dodge if you're going to use Spring Attack quite a bit, and if you have the Dex (13) for it.
It doesn't work well with Elusive Target, but a reasonable DM will let you select a target for ET evne if you don't have the standard Dodge.
There's also Desert Wind Dodge (ToB) in the same vein.

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
Hmm, Sudden Casting says "You can cast haste as a free action once per round, as if augmented by the Quicken Spell metamagic feat" but Quickened Spells are swift actions. Is Swiftblade pre-swift-Quickens? It would seem that Sudden Casting should be swift, in that case (not RAW of course but DM call territory).

The Spelldancer is quite a funny class which I've been meaning to try and make use of. Spelldancing looks pretty infeasible in combat but you could absolutely use if for Persist, a la Incantatrix. It's a bit limited given the whole limited rounds thing but fairly managable, especially if you had Mind Over Body to make the Fort save moot or a way to cure the Con damage. It's also Ref high and gives Evasion at L2, which is nice. It might even work with Cloaked Dancer.

Also, there's Midnight Dodge, because why wouldn't you?

Of course, zero-buff-time becomes a bit moot if you persist spells excessively, especially if one of those is Arcane Spellsurge (swift cast a spell, then full-attack, because you can - it's like a real gish).
Swiftblade is definitely post-swift, but it simply reuses the wording of Quicken, so that it's quite clear that it's in fact a swift action.

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
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