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Superglucose
2008-12-20, 04:22 AM
Ok, so we're in a core D&D 3.x hybrid game, and I chose to play an illusionist because as per one of our weird house rules the only school I have to ban is evocation. It seemed like a really (REALLY) sweet deal for me.

I have been spending feats to qualify for the Loremaster and Archmage prestige classes, and we started with the elite array. I was convinced into playing a tiefling, and only after we'd gone through the first session did I remember the first rule of optimization and that I had broken it. I'm at level 6 in a post-apocalyptic wasteland (shopping cap is 27 gp in this setting)


After adjustments,
STR: 8
DEX: 16
CON: 13
INT: 18
WIS: 12
CHA: 8

Spells known:
1st:
Shield
Grease
Mage Armor
Mount
Identify
True Strike
Color Spray
Disguise Self
Silent Image
Ray of Enfeeblement
Enlarge Person
Magic Weapon

2nd:
Glitterdust
See Invisibility
Hideous Laughter
Blur
Hypnotic Pattern
Fox's Cunning
Rope Trick

3rd:
Dispel Magic
Displacement

Gear: Intellect +2 item, Pearl of Power lvl 1, assorted crap (I started with 5400 gp of items), lots of magical components to make magic items for myself (I'm eyeing a +6 int item in a couple levels), and a heap of scrolls/wands that we've found (all level 1 or 2 spells).

Raven Familiar, because even though familiars aren't great, I love having them.

Feats:
Scribe Scroll (1st level, and it's an item creation feat so it applies to Loremaster. I'm apparently a pretty funny guy, so I pick up what my GM calls "lulz points" and what I call "scroll XP" with witty observations and remarks. Haven't had to make any yet.)
Craft Wondrous Items (5th level, since we have to make our own enchanted item I went for this over any of the other metamagic/craft feats as a) it was a prereq for Loremaster and b) there are lots of nifty wondrous items for crafting, such as a +6 int item, or a cloak of resistance)
Spell Focus: Conjuration (Archmage prereq, plus the additional 5% chance of my spells actually affecting their targets seemed like a good idea)
Spell Focus: Illusion (GM mandated I had to take this as my first spell focus as I was a specialist, but it counts as one of the two towards Archmage)
Skill Focus: Knowledge Arcana (Loremaster prereq)

Part of the problem is that one of the players is using a homebrew sorceror variant that trades the familiar for his caster level in spell level's worth of auto-quickened ray spells (Ray of Enfeeblement, for instance, also some homebrew 'elemental shot' spell that deals caster level/2 d8 as a ray).

Another part is our GM doesn't run encounters well at all. Today we faced a juvenile blue dragon that just jumped in front of the party on a mountain and breathed twice before getting Ray of Enfeeblement pwned. It just sat still rather than strafing us.

Plus we just seem to play mostly random encounters (and let me say, the table is horrible) which means a large amount of creatures, usually in a wide and open place seeing as most of the times we're in the plains.

Still, it's a little annoying to be outclassed in combat by a ranger/sorceror multiclass, and was wondering if this is a function of my low level, or if there was something horribly wrong I was doing.

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-12-20, 04:32 AM
Primarily random encounters means you need a spell list that can handle everything. What do you have prepared normally, and how much can you retrain? For example, switching Skill Focus to Spellcraft helps with the Archmage requirements and costs you nothing.

Also, see if the DM would allow you to switch to a Lesser Tiefling or use LA Buyoff (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/races/reducingLevelAdjustments.htm). Either would solve your CL issues.

The homebrew Sorcerer sounds way OP, BTW, so it's not you.

Proven_Paradox
2008-12-20, 04:37 AM
Part of the problem is that auto-quickening anything for just the familiar is potentially going to be game breaking. It's only going to get worse when the guy gets enervation and friends.

Another is that it seems your group has misunderstood Ray of Enfeeblement (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/rayOfEnfeeblement.htm); first off, since it's a strength penalty rather than damage, it doesn't stack with itself; casting two Ray of Enfeeblement spells in a row is only a good idea if you rolled a 1 on the first shot, and even then, there are better things you could do. Another is that it seems that bit about "The subjectís Strength score cannot drop below 1" got missed; you can make a melee character's day really suck with the spell, but you can't put them to 0 strength to neutralize them with this spell.

Your character looks solid other than the rather poor choice of race. I'm not sure what to tell you here; it looks like the problem here doesn't lie with you according to the information you've given.

Superglucose
2008-12-20, 04:49 AM
Recently we've been traveling long distances, so I've been burning my first level slots on mounts for the party. Before you say anything about being a chump, I'm a team player by nature and I feel obliged to keep the party from having to pay for horses when I can essentially provide better horses for free.

As for the drain and can't reduce to 0 thing, I remember that now. GRAH! Fortunately, you reminded me so I'm going to email the GM right now. I knew there was something fishy about that...

The race thing was purely my bad. I just forgot at the time about the level adjustment, and as soon as I remembered I wish I'd taken Grey Elf (I like having really high int for my wizards). But I'm stuck with it, so I'll live with it.

I'm not sure how switching to Skill Focus: Spellcraft will help. I need a skill focus in a knowledge skill for Loremaster, which I'm two levels from qualifying for (10 ranks in two skills). It'll be another five levels before Archmage, though, so I want to qualify for Loremaster first. I'm thinking I'll take five levels of Loremaster, and then three or four of Archmage before going back to Loremaster.

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-12-20, 04:57 AM
Recently we've been traveling long distances, so I've been burning my first level slots on mounts for the party. Before you say anything about being a chump, I'm a team player by nature and I feel obliged to keep the party from having to pay for horses when I can essentially provide better horses for free.

As for the drain and can't reduce to 0 thing, I remember that now. GRAH! Fortunately, you reminded me so I'm going to email the GM right now. I knew there was something fishy about that...

The race thing was purely my bad. I just forgot at the time about the level adjustment, and as soon as I remembered I wish I'd taken Grey Elf (I like having really high int for my wizards). But I'm stuck with it, so I'll live with it.

I'm not sure how switching to Skill Focus: Spellcraft will help. I need a skill focus in a knowledge skill for Loremaster, which I'm two levels from qualifying for (10 ranks in two skills). It'll be another five levels before Archmage, though, so I want to qualify for Loremaster first. I'm thinking I'll take five levels of Loremaster, and then three or four of Archmage before going back to Loremaster.See if you can't get a Wand of Mount(may be hard in your setting, though, from what you've said). Failing that, make your party members buy horses. 4 slots are expensive when it's your 3rd-highest spell level.

Ugh, forgot Loremaster needs Skill Focus:Knowledge, rather than just Skill Focus. See if your GM will let Knowledge:Arcana qualify for Archmage rather than Spellcraft, because burning 2 feats on SF sucks.

Again, see if you can buy off the LA or get Lesser Tiefling allowed. LA on a caster sucks.

What, exactly, is your spell list most of the time?

CthulhuM
2008-12-20, 05:00 AM
Your build looks pretty solid to me, although I think you may have been focusing a bit too much on defensive spells - they're great for the batman wizard to have in general, but in a low-level party they aren't generally as necessary, and if you're fighting mostly random encounters then casting them will eat rounds you could be using neutralizing things. You'll be much better off once you get a solid third level offensive spell (sleet storm and stinking cloud are both excellent), and you should probably pick up haste.

Superglucose
2008-12-20, 05:22 AM
6/4/3/2 (+1 illusion each level)

0th level:
Detect Magic (2)
Resistance (1)
Daze (1)
Ghost Sound (1)
Prestidigitation (1)
Mage Hand (1)

1st Level:
Shield (1)
Grease (2)
Color Spray (1)
Magic Weapon (1) (I have 52 charges on various wands of Enlarge Person)

2nd level:
Glitterdust (1)
Blur (1)
Hypnotic Pattern (1)

3rd Level:
Dispel Magic (1)
Displacement (2)

Yeah I was looking at getting stinking cloud but we *needed* dispel magic (lack of a rogue in the party meant it was our only way to deal with magical traps) and I needed an illusion spell so as not to waste the slot. Basically next level I'm going to grab Haste and Stinking Cloud (wanted them both this level, but need came first) assuming I don't find them in scroll loot between now and then.

I'm also going to talk to our GM a bit as he seems really scared of killing off the party. While that's all fine and good at making us feel godly and all our enemies seeming insignificant, I, as well as the rest of the group, prefer to feel like we either need to play a near perfect game or have our bums handed to us on silver platters with the note, "Thanks for being my evening snack."

My first time every playing a long time ago, my GM thought it was fair to send a party of mostly 1s and a 2 and a 3 up against a 5th level Orc wizard and a 7th level Orc fighter (granted it's because we were rolling around an average of a 4 on our diplo rolls). We actually, through a combination of great tactics and lucky rolls of the dice (only in combat, of course) managed to win the day. The rest of that campaign basically underwent the same theme: team super facing off against challenges we probably should be running from.

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-12-20, 05:31 AM
I'd replace Shield with Mage Armor and Color Spray with Silent Image. Swap Hypnotic Pattern for Hideous Laughter(Fascinate is almost never useful), and again, check with your DM about losing the LA.

Superglucose
2008-12-20, 05:34 AM
What specifically can I do with Silent Image in combat? I would assume I'm using it as a "Oooh, look, there's a big bad fighter behind you!" but would it actually provide flanking?

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-12-20, 05:45 AM
What specifically can I do with Silent Image in combat? I would assume I'm using it as a "Oooh, look, there's a big bad fighter behind you!" but would it actually provide flanking?I prefer using it to appear to cast Wall of Stone, Obscuring Mist, or Summon Monster V.

Superglucose
2008-12-20, 06:01 AM
Ah, I can use it as concealment!

Devils_Advocate
2008-12-20, 03:29 PM
It sounds to me like maybe you haven't been doing as much as you'd like in this campaign simply because there isn't a lot for you to do. You've got some good spells, it's just that encounters wind up getting dealt with without much bother on your part, so you don't really get to use them.

If you and your friends talk to the DM about making encounters more challenging, maybe this problem will go away.

Being one level behind isn't anything like horribly crippling; it's just less than totally optimal. I wouldn't sweat it.