The Mailman: A Direct Damage Sorcerer

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______The Mailman______

"Neither rain nor hail nor sleet nor snow nor heat of day nor dark of night shall keep this carrier from the swift
completion of his appointed rounds."
-Herodotus, 500 BC

IMAGE(http://i62.photobucket.com/albums/h111/Montycat/orb.jpg)

Save or Dies, eat your hearts out.

There comes a time in every battle where damage must be delivered. There may be AC, or SR, or various and sundry resistances in your way. The target may be incorporeal, or flying, or invisible. It might even not be your turn, in fact, the battle may have started only an instant ago. If you wish to take on the appointed duty of delivering that damage, this build is for you. It is not on par with the most broken combos in 3.5, and will not completely destroy your game; however it is a very fun Tier Two build. The concept of the Mailman, rather than exploding a single combo, plays on certain ideals and synrgies, as well as a couple of smaller combos and general nifty tricks. It doesn't require a rigid 20 level build, though I'll suggest one below. I believe this build is the essence of the 3.5 Sorcerer, and it uses a couple Kobold and Sorc-only tricks.

I know you're probably now skeptical: there is a lot of prejudice on these boards against Direct Damage through magic. However, I think that in a campaign with not only optimizing players but also an optimizing DM, direct damage has the very nice quality of being hard to prevent and very reliable at bringing things down. In a world where Vampires wear Vests of Resistance +5 and are multiclassed up the yin-yang, Save or Dies are just not gonna work. Doing anything but DD almost always allows a Save, and the point of this build is to not even give your target a chance to Save whenever possible. Battlefield control is great, but your enemies can change the battlefield too, and at the end of the day I've found it easier to make them explode than play Chess with them.

Required Books

Obviously, more open material is always better, but there are a couple books that you pretty much need to run the Mailman the way it's meant to be run.
Player's Guide to Faerun: For the Incantatrix
Spell Compendium: Many nifty things are here, but what you NEED are the Orb spells.
Complete Mage: Sundry goodies, but Arcane Fusion is the reason you're here.
PHII: Same as above, except you're here for Celerity.
Dragon Magic: The final of your four stops for really handy spells, you're picking up Arcane Spellsurge.
Dragon Magazine 333: Knowstones! Your spell list is crying for them.
Other handy books: Races of the Dragon (dumb Kobold Tricks), Lords of Madness (Sundry), Cityscape (Invisible Spell), CAdv (Force of Personality), Frostburn (Can you say Dexterity damage?), Complete Champion (The book that makes no sense!)
The more of these you're missing, the less insane you'll be. I would say the bare minimum would be SC & 3 of the other 5 big ones. With a full booklist, you'll be throwing the pain around like you're Keanu Reeves in an action movie.

The Build

The thing that is essential to remember is that the Mailman is more about the synergy of Sorcery with metamagic, time control, and superior targeting than a specific 20 level build. What I'm putting here is a rather laid back example of a Mailman you can put together. It's more to illustrate the concept than anything else, and it strongly reflects my personal preferences and style.


Assuming a 28 point buy and no fun with flaws and traits:

Race: Kobold, of some flavor or ilk. You can grab some Cha with a Spellscale if you like. If you're missing out on RotD you may just want to go with Human, since most of the Dragonblood skeeze is off the table. This example uses a straight Kobold. If you can do the Kobold +1 full caster level quest of insanity in the web enchancement, that's a damn good reason to Kobold it up (though I'm assuming you can't in this build). Silverbrow Human (Dragon Magic) gives an extra Feat and Dragonblood. This build assumes a standard Kobold.

Sorcerer 6/Incantatrix 10/Arcane Devotee 2/Marshal 1/Spellsword 1

The first 16 levels are pretty critical, but the last 4 are fielder's choice. I find ditching the caster level for Marshal 1 and the aura of SR breaking to be worth it, plus it helps out your Fort save, which is seriously of the good.

Initial Stats:
Str 5: There's always the wacky subplot of managing your meagre carry capacity!
Dex 14: Initiative, AC, To hit, Reflex. This is important.
Con 12: HP total, also vary important, especially with almost all d4s. Ooh, and Fort Saves: Not dying!
Int 12: Because you can't get by with 10.
Wis 8: A complete dump stat.
Cha 17: This is the one you cast with. Maybe it should be high?
If you don't do the Spellscale and have Unearthed Arcana avalible, give it a look through for the enviormental Kobolds, it can help with this difficult situation.

Feats:
1)Iron Will
3)Maximize Spell (If playing from low levels initially (under 10), you may want to go Empower here instead, but this becomes awk later)
6)Practical Metamagic: Maximize
7-Incant) Enlarge Spell
9)Force of Personality
10-Incant) Invisible Spell
12)Quick Recovery (LoM; good for Celerity) (you may or may not wish to invert 9 with 12)
13-Incant) Twin Spell
15)Practical Metamagic: Twin
16-Incant) Ocular Spell (LoM, wacky fun)
18)Empower Spell

The most difficult decision here is Maximize vs. Empower at level 3. Maximize is better late, since P. Maximize stacks with Improved Metamagic (Incantatrix 10) and Practical Empower will not, making it unwise to select there. Practical Empower is however extremely strong early on, and an attractive lure. If you can retrain your way out of it, that may be the best course.

Some other strong feat choices that could work are Residual Metamagic (CM), Arcane Thesis (PHII), Improved Initiative (Your initiative in general should be very very high), Repeat Spell (mileage may vary, the Piranha Death Trap is nice though), and Practiced Spellcaster for those of you going Epic and eyeing Paladin 2. Speaking of Epic, Enhance is obviously much more up our alley than Intensify.

Skills, end of the day:
Most of this is necessary for one reason or another, not a whole bunch of freedom here. A star indicates the skills are bought CC.
23:Concentration
1*:Tumble (Handy)
8:K.A.
16:Spellcraft (2*)
4*:K.Dung
5*:K.Rel
1: Diplomacy
The Direct Damage Sorcerer of 3.5e: The Mailman
Basic Ideas and Philosophy

0) You are not God. Controlling the battlefield is not your job, your job is to Deliver the Mail. Save or Dies are not your style; you don't let your targets control their own destiny, YOU control it. In addition to not being a wizard, you are not a thief, a cleric, or a tank. These roles may or may not need to be filled in your party, but you will not be the one to fill them.

1) Metamagic abuse. The Sorcerer is in some ways better at absuing metamagic than the wizard, since she can do it on the fly and select the best metamagic/spell combo for the job. The loss of the move action is painful, but this can be gotten around in a couple ways. Rapid Metamagic (C.Mage) is a feat that is a short term solution at level 9, but it's actually detrimental when combined with Arcane Spellsurge. The Fast Metamagic familiar ditch in PHII is nifty and will be useful throughout. The main idea here is to use Practical Metamagic to make damage increasing metamagic, well, practical, early on, and stacking it with Improved Metamagic later to make Twin and Maximize insane, at 2 levels and 1 levels of cost respectively. This is where the damage will generally come from; amplification of low to mid level spells.

2) Temporal/Action abuse. Celerity is the early keystone here, and even without some way out of daze is extremely useful for turning the course of a battle. Arcane Fusion (and its big brother, Greater Arcane Fusion) give you action economy for popping out a True Strike or True Cast or Assay Spell Resistance for getting the main part of the spell to actually hit. Finally, Arcane Spellsurge is an economical and effective way to get two spells out per turn, and is helped out a lot by Invisible Spell for cases when spells need to be "fit" into your turn. In summary; Quicken, Eat Your Heart Out.

3) Targeting and Bypassing. Using action control, getting off spells like True Strike and True Casting to make sure you hit and break through SR lets you make sure the mail is delivered. In addition, the Orb line of spells bypass SR entirely. Orb of Force in particular bypasses almost every defense that can exist besides Touch AC. One key idea here is you don't want the target to be making a save, ESPECIALLY a reflex save (Damn you Evasion!). It's better to be making ranged touch attacks that you can control than letting your enemies make saves that they can control. With Rings of Evasion prevalent in the lands, Fireball sometimes becomes an excercise in futility.


Spells

I think that posting a full example spell list is a bit silly; this isn't by any means a rigid build and such lists depend entirely too much on spells permitted. I will however go through the nine levels and point out the important sights for this build in particular, mostly my opinions concerning some better known spells and the more useful lesser known spells.

Red will designate damage dealing or similar; this is the stuff you use metamagic on.
Purple is for time control and action advantage spells.
Green is for spells that help with targeting.
Blue covers some of my favorite defensive spells.
Lastly, Black color is used for spells that are just generally useful, and do not fall into one of these categories. Generally, the few BC spells you have up your sleeve, plus movement.

Some spells cover multiple bases and will be in multicolor. This may not be a very useful feature, but I think it might be helpful if you're having trouble in a specific area, or if you have a different build and want to try to add some of my philosophies to it.

1st:
Lesser Orb of ___ (SC): This is good stuff. Ranged Touch, SR No, and no save. Often at later levels when trying to conserve (or after having run out of) high level slots, metamagic with this spell can give you a lot of bang out of low to mid level slots.
Magic Missile : Doesn't miss, but it's SR Yes, and the damage is lower than lesser orbs. It *is* your only good source of force damage until Orb of Force however, and has range medium. This and a Lesser Orb together make for a good pair in the early game.
True Strike : Huge. True Strike is a big part of the reason why Ranged Touch beats out things that allow saves; you can whip out a true strike and suddenly only the slipperyest of eels can avoid damage.
True Casting (CM): The counterpart to True Strike, though not so dominating. At a certain point Assay SR replaces some of its use, but its still worth hanging on to if only because it can be popped out of an Arcane Fusion.
Shocking Grasp : Combust's little electrical brother. Much of what is said about Combust applies, though it is a slightly inferior spell damage-level efficiency wise.

2nd:
Scorching Ray : This is a spell with high damage potential, and at the same time, lots of issues. The multiple ranged touch attacks make True Striking pointless, the SR is there, the range is close, and fire damage is resisted by lots of things. In spite of all this, it's still really good damage, especially in middlegame.
Glitterdust : Vision is a key part of your game.
See Invisibility : Likewise.
Combust (SC): This is the best metamagic seed in the game damage wise, by a very large margin. Needing to get up close and personal is rough, but you can use Ocular Spell to get around that, or just be a tumble ninja. This is a good one for low Epic, as by then you'll be able to use it more easily, be able to use Enhance Spell, and be more needful of it's excessive damage output. (a EnTwiniMaxiPowered Combust autocritted with Surge of Fortune deals ~810 Fire over two blows. That probably falls under the assault weapons ban or something...)
Dimension Hop (PHII): I really like it. It's a little bit that does its job, without a lot of backtalk.

3rd:
Fireball : Saving Throw: Reflex half. Those four words will haunt you for the rest of your life, but you probably should take it anyway. Range long comes in handy, and sadly there isn't much better for multi-target damage until late game.
Alter Fortune (PHII): Its reasons like Alter Fortune that in a game with lots of open source material save-or-dies tend to become less than terrifying. If it's allowed, it's a spell you just take, XP drain be damned.
Shivering Touch (Frostburn): If you aren't totally incapable of getting up close and personal, or if you use Ocular Spell or something else to launch the sucker from afar, it is an "I Win" button for enemies who can't do anything inside of paralysis or prevent ability damage. Even just maximized, this will stop most things in their tracks. It's best combined with True Strike and True Casting/Assay SR to make it actually hit (probably packaged in a Fusion). Do not use against enemies with Psionics, the cold subtype, or those with no constitution score.
Primal Senses (DM): +5 competence to initiative is not worth being the first 3rd level spell you know, but don't forget to get it eventually, especially if you have Knowstone access.
Heart of Water (CM): Freedom of Movement on a third level spell as a swift activation action. As an extra special bonus, you get a swim speed and water breathing! There's a lot to like. In fact, with Knowstones it is a good idea to pick up all the Heart spells for immunity to critical hits with an elemental source, something that is very hard to get around (No crystals for it, or spells iirc).
Haste : 20 or 30 more feet of movement is sometimes really necessary, especially when half speed tumbling.
Fly : For when walking just doesn't cut it.

4th: This is a crowded place. Here, more than anywhere else, is where Knowstones really give the Sorc a boost.
Celerity (PHII): This is the spell that needs no introduction. It's the first major way you get to act when YOU want to.
Orb of Force (SC): The other spell that needs no introduction. Range Medium, damage force, no save, SR No. There is almost no defense against an Orb of Force besides being out of range or having high Touch AC. For the reason, it is the best seed for metamagic abuse, even though the damage is less than impressive.
Orb of ___ (SC): At higher levels, it's an exchange of Range Close and typed energy for 50% more damage. Sometimes a good trade, sometimes not.
Doom Scarabs (PHII): DOOM! This is the multitarget spell you'll be metamagicing at higher levels, if you have any say in it. A 60 foot cone of Will half and SR No untyped energy is hard to argue with, and infinitely better than dealing with Fireball antics. The damage progression is slow though, and for this reason it's less useful at middle levels.
Assay SR (SC): For those days when you want to do something other than chuck Orbs at it. Rare days, but they happen. Usually shunked into an Arcane Fusion with something else like True Strike or True Casting.
Greater Invisibility: It's very hit or miss for a battle, but when it hits, it hits hard.
Enervation : This is mainly useful if you need to lower something's saves for some reason, for example if some other party member is trying to mind control it. Twinimaxed Enervation deals 8 negative levels, but as it is SR Yes and Ranged Touch, you might need to lay down a Arcane Fusion -> True Strike&Assay SR before using it.
Vortex of Teeth (SC): This is a quaint little spell that deals small amounts of Force damage 1/round, SR Yes with no save. Using Metamagic skeeze, this tiny little 3d8 can become much more significant, and can be exploited with the Piranha Death Trap maneuver above. VoT can also be used to good effect if there is some way of pinning an enemy or group of enemies down for a number of rounds.
Wings of Flurry (RoD): This spell is either really great or really bad, depending on the situation. On the one hand, it does uncapped d6 force damage with Daze on a failed save to selected targets in a burst. On the other, it's SR Yes, that save is REFLEX, it only can reach 30 feet from you, and it's 4th level. It's a good thing in your bag of tricks, but if you depend on it too much it's easy to see a flurry of evasion. I personally prefer Doom Scarabs (at least at higher levels), but then again I'm a crazy person. Most of the reason is I love Orb of Force, and using this AND that is just asking for a Forceward to get shoved in your face.

5th
Arcane Fusion (CM): Action efficiency is your friend. This is particularly handy for getting off some fourth level Ranged Touch Spell with a True Strike attached. Or a SR:Yes spell with a True Cast. A notable limitation is that you can't shove metamagic into one of these until/unless you get Arcane Spellsurge up.
Surge of Fortune (C Champ): Wait guys: this is a CLERIC spell. For once, they got something good. The way you cast this is a Limited Wish, probably inside a Greater Fusion with a True Strike tagged on. The specific reason you want it, is once active, an immediate action gives you a automatic natural 20 on your next roll. Autocritting one of your extreme DD spells could be worth the XP cost of Limited Wish, especially if you're setting up in a Time Stop. It doesn't really have defensive value for us, not only because of the XP cost, but the short duration. It costs TWO combat actions to use, which is too much to spend on D. Just have a MoP ready to drop instead.
Wall of Force : This is handy for playing tag when you have more actions than the enemy. It's also big and fairly reliable for most situations. In a list strapped for space, this is a good BC spell to pick. Instead of spending a standard action to dismiss, remember you can shunk a fourth level spell into a GAF with a Disintegrate to save some time while bringing this down.
Undying Vigor of the Dragonlords (DM): While the 1 round casting time makes this a quirky choice in most builds, Arcane Spellsurge makes it practical. Being able to use metamagic to multiply the effect makes you into a good self healer, if the need arises. This is what I usually carry (Maximized) inside a Contingency.

6th
Disintegrate : Ironically, this isn't very useful for damage because of its high level, SR:Yes and Fort Partial. However, you should still take it to dust Indomitable-type people and kill force effects. And beyond that, A Twinimaxed Disintegrate is something of a Hail Mary, if you ever need one.
Contingency : For those situations when you just don't have enough actions, Contingency gives you one more. Contingency: Celerity lets you react to a situation as you see fit at the time.
Greater Dispel : Ray Deflection & Delay Death. Silence. CoDzilla. No more needs to be said.
True Sight : Again, vision, vision, vision. Sadly, the other three spells here are probably more critical, but you should put serious thought into a Knowstone or another item.

7th
Arcane Spellsurge (DM): This is arguably your best individual spell, allowing you to cast a metamagic spell and a normal spell each turn. If you need two normal spells, you can make one of them Invisible to lengthen its casting time. If you need two metamagic spells, you can use a fast metamagic ability from Sorc 1 (Metamagic Specialist, PHB II) or Incantatrix 7/9 to fit them in. Also very noteworthy, is that with Spellsurge active, Arcane Fusions cost a swift action to cast AND can be fitted with metamagic spells (which now have a casting time of 1 standard action), giving you another way to shove two metamagic spells into one turn.
Limited Wish: This is useful if someone else in your party likes save or dies and needs a bit of help. You have enough actions that you can often throw a Limited Wish on someone for a -7 to saves. Metamagic-Enervation is usually better, but it requires a Ranged Touch Attack to hit (if it doesn't have Ray Deflection, you shouldn't be resorting to Wizard Save or Dies). This is also the way you cast Surge of Fortune, probably the most broken individual spell I've bothered to mention here. This is especially useful for low Epic play to maximize damage efficiency per high level slot expended.
Avasculate (SC): One problem with DD is the ones with hundreds upon hundreds of HP to kill. If you suspect such is the case, let one of these fly, possibly Twinned. Precasting, you might want to Arcane Fusion out a True Strike/Assay SR. Alternatively, you could cast it under a G Fusion with a True Strike or a True Cast.

8th
Greater Arcane Fusion (CM): Another real winner here. Marrying a True Strike to a Twinimaxed Force Orb is a staple attack that deals a nearly unavoidable 120 damage.
Moment of Prescience: This is a simply wonderful must have buff. Need a True strike but can't squeeze it in and still deal enough damage? Drop the MoP. Ugly Beastie Banshee Wails? Drop the MoP. Freaky tree thing returns some unknown Fort Save to sender as you kill it with Fire Orbs? You BETTER be dropping that MoP. The best part? It's a FREE action. The difference between a free action defensive maneuver and an immediate one is HUGE for this build.

9th
Time Stop : Surprisingly, not THAT useful. You can get buffs up, reload your eyes, move around and hide though. Good to have.
Foresight : Battle starts. You are never never flat footed. You cast Celerity; you go first. This is countered if assaulted by enemies immune to Divination.
Mordenkainen's Disjunction : Depending on the environment in your campaign, this could easily be your most important 9th level spell. This is the best way to kill Ray Deflection and Delay Death to set up for a Force Orb execution, so if those spells hang around a lot you'll need it. Also, if your enemies are smart enough to be chucking them at you, it's useful to be able to countermagic with no chance of error.
The Direct Damage Sorcerer of 3.5e: The Mailman
Tricks and Combos

Invisible Spellsurge: The main problem with Arcane Spellsurge is that it does not allow you to cast two spells with 'normal' casting times of only 1 standard or swift action in one turn (shortened to swift by Spellsurge). The way around this is to take Invisible spell from Cityscape, which can be applied to any spell for a +0, and apply it on the fly to any spell whose casting time you want to lengthen to a normal casting time of a full round action (shortened to standard by Spellsurge).

The Opening Volley: Often, instead of casting Spellsurge at the start of combat, it pays to cast Greater Arcane Fusion as a standard action. Fuse out the Spellsurge, and a normal Scorching Ray too. Direct the three rays at one or more likely targets. This allows you to determine 1)If they have touch AC high enough that you need True Strike; 2) If they have SR high enough that you need to Assay; and 3) If they Resist Fire damage. These are useful things to know. If you want to metamagic with your other action, this is an optimal time for your fast metamagic class ability.

Time Stop Reloading: While the only spell you can damage with in Time Stop is usually Vortex of Teeth, there are some other useful things for you to do there. Specifically, you can reload your Ocular Spells, or set up a Surge of Fortune. Using Time Stop to do a quick Surge of Fortune Shuffle can be a handy tactic, especially if approaching the enemy is tricky.

The Piranha Death Trap: First, wait for it to be almost your turn. Right before your turn, cast Celerity, and cast Time Stop inside it. Inside Time Stop, cast a bunch of Twinned, Maximized, (possibly Empowered and Repeated as well) Vortex of Teeth spells (3d8 Force damage at the beginning of your turn in a 40 foot radius for a round/level, SC). Since Vortex is SR Yes, use Assay SR and True Cast liberally if need be. Come out of Time Stop, and when your turn starts, all the Vortexes hit for ludicrous, painful, horrible unavoidable Force damage all across their area. Thus, Piranha Death Trap. The advantage over Delayed Blast Fireball is obviously that there is no saving throw.

The Surge of Fortune Shuffle: This is a low Epic (level 21+) two round maneuver that deals 810 fire over two hits at the cost of a 9th and 7th level spell, plus some change and XP. On round one, cast Greater Arcane Fusion for Limited Wish -> Surge of Fortune and True Strike. If Spellsurge is already up, also cast Arcane Fusion for Assay SR and True Casting. If not, use another GAF to pump it out with an Assay. Use your move action to Hide in Plain Sight if you're capable. On round two, use your standard to cast Enhanced Twinned Maximized Empowered Combust as a 9th level spell. Use your move action to tumble next to the enemy. Then, use your swift action to activate Surge of Fortune, and finally, make the touch attack (which you can make at any point in the round after casting a touch spell).
It will auto-crit threat due to the Surge, get a +20 to hit on the crit confirmation melee touch attack, and have an SR check of 1d20+50 or so if you took the Marshal level. The 810 or so critted fire damage comes over two hits, meaning even Fire Resist 30 is pretty overwhelmed. If the enemy is immune to fire, you can use a Metamagic Rod of Substitution or just a Shocking Grasp (less damage) instead. The SR check is enough to get by a lot of Epic critters and some gods, and your melee touch crit confirmation roll with True Strike ought to be 1d20+30 touch at least, which again, is enough for most Epic critters and some gods. If you either screw up, or the thing for some ungodly reason isn't dead, cast Celerity immediately after your turn and dimension hop your butt away or put up a Force Wall or something. This could be adapted to lower levels with less metamagic, but its main value is the high damage/spell slot ratio and the shock value of so much damage, so it's less applicable.
The Direct Damage Sorcerer of 3.5e: The Mailman
Gear
A couple shout-outs to good stuff.

Knowstones (DR 333): For 1000gp*(Spell Level)^2, you know an additional spell. This is how the Sorcerer gets out of the pit of too few spells known, especially for low level spells. You still have to choose your high level spells wisely, but no more do you have to make hard choices about the five first level spells you know.
Psychoactive Skin of the Tumbler (MiC): (15,000 gp) do yourself a favor and get into the tumbling game. This, a rank, a bit of Dex, and you're tumbling like a pro.
Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis (Tome of Magic): (22,000) This is a broke-good item. Not only do you get Hide In Plain Sight, but also skills bonuses galore and 10 untyped feet of speed. If you can buy it, do so.

Initiative Gear:
The Mailman really, really, REALLY should try to go first. This is mostly so he can kill the nastiest thing before it can go and kill someone else (possibly you). After all, the most basic way to get action advantage is doing it the old fashioned way and winning initiative.
Belt of Battle (MiC): (12,000 gp) For us, the charges are actually the secondary ability, though useful in specific situations. +2 competence to initiative is eventually beat out by Primal Senses, but not until you can afford to be casting it.
+1 Warning Dagger, or Armor Spikes (MiC) (8,000 gp) +5 insight to initiative, drop it after battle starts.
Sandals of the Vagabond (4,000 gp) +2 luck to initiative here, at the low low price of 4k.
Bands of the Iron Monkey (Dragon Compendium) (15,000 gp) +2 bonus to initiative, untyped.

With this stuff and Primal Senses, you're at a +14 bonus to initiative, pre Dex.

Defensive Gear:
+X Mithral Ghost Ward Buckler & Twilight Chain (MiC): I prefer shields and armor to Mage Armor spells because of the Ghost Ward property, which applies the Enhancement bonus of the item to Touch Attacks. Your AC is likely not good enough to deter a melee type, but it IS possible to stop some silly wizard type from trying to hit your touch AC. Don't expect to stop something dedicated like yourself though. This is a particularly good option if you can buy +1 gear and get some cleric to Magic Vestment it.
Raptor Mask (MiC): (3,500 gp) It sucks to be blind, and this thing is cheap. Also solves light sensitivity for Kobolds.
Vest of Resistance +5: (25,000 gp) This is the best 25,000 gp you'll ever spend.
The Direct Damage Sorcerer of 3.5e: The Mailman


Very solid good work sir...
Okay, now for some actual stuff.

A kobold Sorcerer without Dragonwrought? This is totally unheard of. I'd like to note that being Dragonwrought nets you +3 to all mental stats, you gain spells as fast as a Wizard would and opens Loredrake shenanigans. Loredrake shenanigans, on the other hand, give you +2 CL for absolutely no cost. Use it and get Iron will via Otyugh hole magical location for 3000 gp.

If flaws are game, I'd actually pick Arcane thesis for the spell you use the most. It's a killer when you use that much metamagic.

Also, why is Force of personality there? You are a Wizard, will saves are not going to be troublesome for you. Runestaff with Superior resistance makes sure there will be no trouble at all.

Marshal level is not worth it. For the last two levels I suggest anything that costs you nothing, but gives caster levels. Even plain Sorcerer is better than taking Marshal at that point. If you have the skill points, a dip into Mindbender is bloody awesome.

Changing Force of personality and Quick recovery for Lesser dragonmark and Mark of the dauntless makes you totally immune to being dazed. Mixing settings might not fly and I'd rather not be immune to dazing and simply avoid using Celerity. Nevertheless, Force of personality would open space for Arcane thesis.

Rainbow falls magical location gives you any metamagic feat for a year and costs only a few thousand gold pieces. Definitely worth considering.
Okay, now for some actual stuff.

A kobold Sorcerer without Dragonwrought? This is totally unheard of. I'd like to note that being Dragonwrought nets you +3 to all mental stats, you gain spells as fast as a Wizard would and opens Loredrake shenanigans. Loredrake shenanigans, on the other hand, give you +2 CL for absolutely no cost. Use it and get Iron will via Otyugh hole magical location for 3000 gp.

I've seen this suggestion before, but I'm not seeing where Dragonwrought (by itself) get's you the +3 to all mental stats and gain spells as fast as a wizard. I'm looking in RoTD on page 100, and all I see are the type change, increase of a single skill, and the changes to vision.

Edit...I see how you gain the plus 3 (I'm assuming you're starting at venerable), but I still have no idea how or where your getting the 'gain spells as fast as a wizard' thing from Dragonwrought alone.
--bleh
I've seen this suggestion before, but I'm not seeing where Dragonwrought (by itself) get's you the +3 to all mental stats and gain spells as fast as a wizard. I'm looking in RoTD on page 100, and all I see are the type change, increase of a single skill, and the changes to vision.

You can be venerable for no cost at all, dragons gain no penalties for aging.

Also, read the Greater rite of passage.

By the way, desert kobolds from the Unearthed Arcana get a -2 penalty to wisdom, but no minuses to constitution. Worth considering.
A venerable dragonwraught desert kobold sorcerer who takes rite of draconic passage (RotD) and greater rite of draconic passage from the web enhancement gains the following.
-4 Str, +2 dex, +1 wis, +3 int, +3 cha
A level 1 spell-like ability usable once/day (caster level=character level, useful for one hour/level buff spells and those long-time utility spells you don't want to waste a spell slot on)
+1 level in sorcerer spellcasting ability (without the increase in saves/BaB, putting them equal to wizards for spell levels available).
No sensitivity to daylight (desert kobold)

All of that at the cost of:
-3 hp (from rites)
and 1300 gold for the gems required for the rites.
15 minutes preparation time each morning (for spell-like ability)
2 feats (first and sixth level.) You have to take draconic resivoir and dragonwraught kobold feats. Draconic resivoir requires you to have completed the rite of passage, and you need to have third level to take the rite, so sixth level is the earliest you can take the resivoir feat required for the greater rite of draconic passage.
You have to play a kobold so other players will likely want to kill you when you get introduced, and will likely not trust you.


Not a bad deal at all, although you will miss the HP you use up to take the rites, and the resivoir feat makes you able to re-cast your day-long buff a couple times if you get dispelled, having the spell-level ability of a wizard totally rocks.
Edit...I see how you gain the plus 3 (I'm assuming you're starting at venerable), but I still have no idea how or where your getting the 'gain spells as fast as a wizard' thing from Dragonwrought alone.

Also, if you don't feel like casting as fast as a Wizard, you can simply casts two levels ahead of them instead. In becoming a dragon you can make yourself a Loredrake, from Dragons of Eberron, which nets you +2 effective sorcerer levels and your racial HD are reduced to d10s, but you wouldn't have any of those. Also, even if you did, d10? Oh noes!
Also, if you don't feel like casting as fast as a Wizard, you can simply casts two levels ahead of them instead. In becoming a dragon you can make yourself a Loredrake, from Dragons of Eberron, which nets you +2 effective sorcerer levels and your racial HD are reduced to d10s, but you wouldn't have any of those. Also, even if you did, d10? Oh noes!

I think the dragon loses access to any possible domain spells too. Not much of a loss there either, huh?
Another thing, if you have LA buyoff, the Dragonspawn template is +1 for White and gives an additional level of casting (as well as some other rather sweet bonuses). Buy it off and it's a net profit of +1 effective Sorcerer casting level.
We all know I'm a fan of Energy sub (fire) + sanctified one of Kord for all energy spells. Finish out with

Elemental Savant 1
Santified One of Kord 1
Marshal 1
some other caster 1

You end up w/ caster 18 ... and all of your elemental spells are non-resistable divine damage.
your spell list is missing both wings of cover and wings of flurry.
wings of flurry is too broken to use

cool build
Tshern: What I posted is a somewhat standardized version of my own build, which provides a few explanations:
1) He isn't Dragonwrought because first of all, high Cha doesn't matter much if very few of your spells allow saves. Second of all, he's eight, for funny roleplaying reasons. Dragonwrought is a very viable option but not really as strong as it usually is, and is perhaps less worth spending your DM capitol on than other things, if such is limited.
2) FoP is there to make saves against myself for Quick Recovery out of Celerity. It also raises my will save by about 10, which in my opinion is worth a feat even if it's already high (We see a lot of very high save DCs). If your DM lets it fly though, Dragonmarking yourself into Dauntlessness might be better. It's really a trade between total daze immunity, and needing to not roll a 1, needing to spend a move action, but getting +10 to will. Abandoning Celerity is out of the question because if I can't shunk out that extra after-turn action on turn 1, things often go to hell.
3) The stacking of Arcane Thesis, Practical Metamagic, and Incantrix 10 may be ruled to go to a minimum of +1. If it can bring things to +0, Thesising Force Orb or X Orb could be a good move.
4) I feel the Marshal is worth it in the case of a caster heavy party. I find it very useful when cooperating with the Cleric; the Limited-Wish -> Mind Control combo is much easier if all SR checks are at +10 or so. Also, once you get 9th level Sorcerer spells, your Spells per day increases become relatively tiny; all you're missing out on is a 9th level spell known.

Incidentally, Metamagic Force Orbs are a really good way to kill most gods if you can get close enough. No saves, no SR, you just need a high enough ranged touch modifier (with your True Strike +20) to hit. They can even be chucked into AMFs. It wouldn't get through that pesky Iron Curtain though.

Rebel:
At high levels, Wings of Flurry kind of sucks in this build (sorta like Fireball). Your save DCs are crap and it's Reflex half, so all the Evasioneers just laugh at you. Wings of Cover is sort of good, but the immediate action price is a high price to pay for the Mailman.
The Direct Damage Sorcerer of 3.5e: The Mailman
Incidentally, Metamagic Force Orbs are a really good way to kill most gods if you can get close enough. No saves, no SR, you just need a high enough ranged touch modifier (with your True Strike +20) to hit. They can even be chucked into AMFs. It wouldn't get through that pesky Iron Curtain though.

also blocked by ray deflection and forceward
1) He isn't Dragonwrought because first of all, high Cha doesn't matter much if very few of your spells allow saves.

True, but high Cha also gives you additional spell slots, which isn't something I'd turn down easily.

2) FoP is there to make saves against myself for Quick Recovery out of Celerity. It also raises my will save by about 10, which in my opinion is worth a feat even if it's already high (We see a lot of very high save DCs).

Also an interesting possibility -- if you have an enchanter/beguiler in the party, he can use mind fog targeted on your position to force anybody who tries to melee you to become highly susceptible to Will save effects. Even if you fail your save against the fog, you lose nothing from your original Will save total (which should be pretty high even with the 8 Wis).

3) The stacking of Arcane Thesis, Practical Metamagic, and Incantrix 10 may be ruled to go to a minimum of +1. If it can bring things to +0, Thesising Force Orb or X Orb could be a good move.

I personally tend to prefer Thesis over Practical Metamagic, since most folks I play with have access to the books but not all of Dragon, and many things out of Dragon in the past have ended up seriously warping (if not breaking) our games. YMMV.

4) ...Also, once you get 9th level Sorcerer spells, your Spells per day increases become relatively tiny; all you're missing out on is a 9th level spell known.

Boldly stated, but giving up any spell slot should be considered significant. After all, you don't *have* to expend it on an effective 9th level spell -- an additional Twinmaxxed force orb or enervation per day can't be that useless, can it?

I was going to suggest checking out the Invisible Needle reserve feat from Complete Mage -- there's always encounters (or portions of encounters) where you don't need to deliver a piano, and simply supporting your allies with junk mail is good enough. Unfortunately, Invisible Needle is not a ranged touch attack, but a ranged attack, so your odds of hitting go way down despite the ability not being subject to SR, saves, or even provoking AoOs. Probably not worth it unless you really feel as though you have a feat to burn and deeply desire the +1 CL to force spells Invisible Needle provides.

--
Pauper
Hasn't Empower been proven to be mechanically better than Maximize, or am I just tripping?
Hasn't Empower been proven to be mechanically better than Maximize, or am I just tripping?

I think its the other way around. Example:

10d6 Maximized = 60 damage
10d6 Empowered = 15d6 ~52.5

A basic example, but I think it should hold to be true regardless.
Not true.
Firstly: if you're using something like Cure Light Wounds that gives a seperate bonus on the roll, you still add 50% with Empower, but maximize only maximizes the dice rolls.
CL 5 CLW would heal
Maximized: 13
Empowered: ~13.5
Empower is actually doing better, and it can go even higher.

Secondly: Maximize is three spell slots, empower is only two, and seeing as the Empowered Fireball's average damage is so close to the Maximized one's, why would you not use the lower spell slot and have a chance of going over?
Secondly: Maximize is three spell slots, empower is only two, and seeing as the Empowered Fireball's average damage is so close to the Maximized one's, why would you not use the lower spell slot and have a chance of going over?

...because, as OP stated, he reduces maximise to one level higher, as he would do with empower, if he would take it. And it spares him the dice-rolling ;)
The d6, warped by metamagic:

(+0)Normal: 3.5
(+1)Empowered: 5.25
(+1)Maximized: 6
(+2)Twin: 7
(+2)MaxiPowered: 7.75
(+3)TwiniMaxed: 12
(+4)TwinMaxiPowered: 15.5

The sensible thing to do with costs as they are here is obviously Max-MaxiPower-TwiniMax-TwinMaxiPower. It isn't surprising Maximize comes out better than Empower, since I dump a whole extra feat into it (Practical Maximize).
The Direct Damage Sorcerer of 3.5e: The Mailman
Not true.
Firstly: if you're using something like Cure Light Wounds that gives a seperate bonus on the roll, you still add 50% with Empower, but maximize only maximizes the dice rolls.

Is that verified? Empower Spell says:

All variable, numeric effects of an empowered spell are increased by one-half...

I've always taken that to mean the die roll and not the set amount you add to it (since that amount is not variable when you cast the spell).

However - I suppose in a case where you are adding +1/level - you could argue that it is variable depending on your level.

Anyone know if anything official has come to clarify this?

Secondly: Maximize is three spell slots, empower is only two, and seeing as the Empowered Fireball's average damage is so close to the Maximized one's, why would you not use the lower spell slot and have a chance of going over?

That is generally the line of thought - that Empower offers a bonus comparable to Maximize (even if slightly smaller) for a significantly lower cost.

The larger the size of the dice - the less this is true.

On a d4 - Maximize gives you 4, while empower gives 3.67 on average - very close.

On a d12 - Maximize gives you 12, while empower gives you 9.67 on average - not very close.

However - one advantage of Maximize often not mentioned is that you know what you are going to get. I find with spellcasting - random die rolls are not your friend.

Imagine a Summoning spell where you are getting the 1d3 critters. Maximize gives 3, while empower gives a 1, 3, or 4 - average 2.67. The results are close.

But if you are using Summoning as a tactical spell - then does it really serve to have a 1 in 3 chance of only summoning one critter? Tactically - the guaranteed 3 is probably superior.

I use that as an easy example to explain and visualize - I'm not actually suggesting metamagic for summoning ;)
Is that verified? Empower Spell says:

I've always taken that to mean the die roll and not the set amount you add to it (since that amount is not variable when you cast the spell).

However - I suppose in a case where you are adding +1/level - you could argue that it is variable depending on your level.

Anyone know if anything official has come to clarify this?

According to the PH:
For example, an empowered Magic Missile deals 1 1/2 times it's normal damage (Roll 1d4+1 and multiply the result by 1 1/2 for each missile)

That is generally the line of thought - that Empower offers a bonus comparable to Maximize (even if slightly smaller) for a significantly lower cost.

The larger the size of the dice - the less this is true.

On a d4 - Maximize gives you 4, while empower gives 3.67 on average - very close.

On a d12 - Maximize gives you 12, while empower gives you 9.67 on average - not very close.

Imagine a Summoning spell where you are getting the 1d3 critters. Maximize gives 3, while empower gives a 1, 3, or 4 - average 2.67. The results are close.

But if you are using Summoning as a tactical spell - then does it really serve to have a 1 in 3 chance of only summoning one critter? Tactically - the guaranteed 3 is probably superior.

I use that as an easy example to explain and visualize - I'm not actually suggesting metamagic for summoning ;)

I won't argue that there are times when Maximize is more useful than Empower, I was trying to point out that mechanically Empower is generally more useful than Maximize. Of course if you have the feats to spare to do both, go for it!

However - one advantage of Maximize often not mentioned is that you know what you are going to get. I find with spellcasting - random die rolls are not your friend.

As a consistant roller of utter nonsense when it comes to variables, I can agree with this sentiment quite a lot.
I thought the average for an empowered d4 was 3.75?

Average of 1, 2, 3, and 4 is 2.5. Multiply that by 1.5 and you get...3.75.

D12 empower should be...9.75.

I generally, personally, tend to roll high on damage dice (especially the d6's I've been using since 2nd Ed Shadowrun), so I generally get more out of empower than maximize, but your mileage may vary. (But I'm superstitious.)

(None of this was meant to indicate any actual disagreement with your assessment. There are times when either or both would make more sense, obviously.)
--bleh
I like this build. There's a lot of Faerunian feats and options for [Fire] spells that give a fire-focused mage a lot of oomph, too (I think I put a build in the TML20's Evocation book). Basically, you can get around +6 CL w/ [Fire] spells by L6 or so, making Scorching Ray in the mid-levels really awesome.
wings of flurry is too broken to use

We're talking about a build that uses celerity. Wings of flurry is good, but calling it broken here is just silly.

Rebel:
At high levels, Wings of Flurry kind of sucks in this build (sorta like Fireball). Your save DCs are crap and it's Reflex half, so all the Evasioneers just laugh at you. Wings of Cover is sort of good, but the immediate action price is a high price to pay for the Mailman.

You mentioned fireball is an option, albeit a suboptimal one. Given the option, I would much rather ditch that and take the version that can actually DO something. Also reflex saves tend to be lower than Fort or Will. Obv try to not target rogues.
I thought the average for an empowered d4 was 3.75?

Average of 1, 2, 3, and 4 is 2.5. Multiply that by 1.5 and you get...3.75.

D12 empower should be...9.75.

I generally, personally, tend to roll high on damage dice (especially the d6's I've been using since 2nd Ed Shadowrun), so I generally get more out of empower than maximize, but your mileage may vary. (But I'm superstitious.)

(None of this was meant to indicate any actual disagreement with your assessment. There are times when either or both would make more sense, obviously.)

The average actually changes on your number of dice (more dice is better) since you don't round down. My numbers were just an estimate

Consider 1d4. If you roll a 1, it's still a one not 1.5. If you roll a 2 it's a 3. If you roll a 3 it's a 4. If you roll a 4 it's a 6.

So 1+3+4+6 = 14

14 / 4 = 3.5

And I agree - there are times each is better. Generally - I think with Damage dice you are often better with empower - if there are a variable number of effects - I think Maximize will normally be better.
wings of flurry is too broken to use

cool build

Wings of Cover is so much worse (but hey ban than and you just do Impenetrable form or whatever that spell is called from Lords of Madness)
wings of flurry can do over 1000 damage a round if used correctly, with a 4th level spell?
wings of flurry can do over 1000 damage a round if used correctly, with a 4th level spell?

Now I'm curious about that "used correctly". Please explain!
Now I'm curious about that "used correctly". Please explain!

Adding a load of metamagic I suppose.
now that I look at the thread its really (greater) arcane fusion and arcane spellsurge that are a bit too powerful

Arcane Spellsurge let's us cast standard action spells as a swift action. Spells that normally takes a full round to cast are casted as a standard action.
Remember, we can only make use of one swift action. So what we want to do is to cast one normal and one full round spell, so we get both off in the same standard action.

In the example, our sorceress casts one standard Arcane Fusion (AF) and then one AF with any +0 metamagic on it, bumping the casting time one notch.

Each AF should contain one level 4 and one level 7 spell. Wings of Flurry (WoF) is level 4. She can add Empower on it without raising the spell level. That's because she has Arcane Thesis for WoF and Practical Metamagic for Empower, each dropping spell level increase with one. She also has Accelerate Metamagic for Empower, meaning there is no time added for using Empower metamagic.

Therefore, the level 4 spot is used for an Empowered WoF.
The level 7 spot is used for an Empowered WoF with Twin Spell, which adds 3 levels.
Totally 3 Empowered WoF for each AF.
Two AF makes that 6 WoF.
Belt of Battle repeats this for a total of 12 WoF.

Each WoF deals 1D6/CL damage and a standard reflex save.

What about her Caster Level then? She's level 20. Then we add +1 for her white dragonspawn template, +1 for greater draconic rite of passage, +2 for Arcane Thesis and finally +1 for having some dragon blood in her veins.

Damage for each WoF should be 25D6 x 1.5 = 131,25.
131,25 x 12 = 1.575

but d6/lvl uncapped force damage that you can pick targets for is still too good for a level 4 spell.
Wings of Flurry can be a very good spell (I mostly dislike it because of Reflex half, and I mentioned Fireball explicitly more because the build needed something with Range: Long than anything else). Orb of Force can be a good spell. They aren't really the culprits that make this and certain WoF builds insane. The culprits, as I stated in the OP, are Time magic and metamagic abuse, which multiply their effects for huge damage totals. The reason I prefer the Mailman to a Flurrier is he has a third pillar of skeeze, the unavoidable targeting (which is incidentally made even easier with Arcane Fusion.) It is incredibly good to be able to release 120 ranged touch force damage or 180 ranged touch typed damage 2/turn with a True Strike attached to each [Twinned, Maximized, inside a GAF]. The fact that there are so few things that stop a True Striked Orb of Force (Ray Deflection, Forceward, incredible touch AC, a skeezy redirection spell from Exemplars of Evil) is why I like it so much more at high levels. WoF is neutered by a $25k Ring of Evasion and a high reflex save, neither of which can be dispelled or easily disjunctioned.
The Direct Damage Sorcerer of 3.5e: The Mailman
you could also make a continuous effect item of Ray Deflection or Forceward which would need disjoining to be inoperative but the cost would be considerable

Ray deflection is a wicked carazy spell IMO
you could also make a continuous effect item of Ray Deflection or Forceward which would need disjoining to be inoperative but the cost would be considerable

Ray deflection is a wicked carazy spell IMO

It's for people like that that you have the Marshal level, so you and the Cleric can try to kill him with Limited Wish and a Save or Die. Incidentally, to really have any sort of safety against this build once it's mature, you need both of those items. Forceward because of the Piranha Death Trap, and Ray Deflection for the rest of the Orbs.

EDIT: Forceward might be a good argument for investing in a Knowstone of Ice Storm at high levels, just in case :P.
The Direct Damage Sorcerer of 3.5e: The Mailman
Can someone explain the nature of this 'Piranha Death Trap'? The name intrigues me.
Oh no, I left out the section on Vortex of Teeth somehow, sorry. So here's the deal with Piranha Death Trap. First, wait for it to be almost your turn. Right before your turn, cast Celerity, and cast Time Stop inside it. Inside Time Stop, cast a bunch of Twinned, Maximized, (possibly Empowered and Repeated as well) Vortex of Teeth spells (3d8 Force damage at the beginning of your turn in a 40 foot radius for a round/level, SC). Since Vortex is SR Yes, use Assay SR and True Cast liberally if need be. Come out of Time Stop, and when your turn starts, all the Vortexes hit for ludicrous, painful, horrible unavoidable Force damage all across their area. Thus, Piranha Death Trap. The advantage over Delayed Blast Fireball is obviously that there is no saving throw.
The Direct Damage Sorcerer of 3.5e: The Mailman
You may need Delay Spell for vortex of teeth. As a DM, I rule that all spells cast in time stop happen immediately and one can't directly affect other creatures or attended objects in time stop.
Sorry, the RAW directly disagrees with you:

"A spell that affects an area and has a duration longer than the remaining duration of the time stop have their normal effects on other creatures once the time stop ends."

Vortex of Teeth has a duration of a round per level and effects an area. While it's a dirty trick only for the most dire of situations, it's entirely legal.
The Direct Damage Sorcerer of 3.5e: The Mailman