View Full Version : Deadweight to Brilliance builds

Totally Guy
2009-09-11, 05:52 AM
Have you ever played a character that's been terrible for so many levels? But then upon reaching a new level and getting a well placed feat everything falls into place and suddenly you're competent, you're beyond competent!

And the other players never saw it coming.

It's such a pleasing feeling.

I was progressing a character towards the Enlightened Fist prestige class, and the monk that started that was awful even by monk standards. And I refrained from even useing any sorcerous powers for nearly 2 levels of sorcerer. It probably wasn't worth all the ground work as I only really got to do anything cool in the surprise early BBEG campaign ending fight. Although if I'd had been as incompetent as my previous behaviour had suggested maybe the BBEG would have got away and it would have lasted longer. Oops...:smallredface:

2009-09-11, 06:26 AM
I prefer Good to Awesome builds, where you can hold skills in reserve (to awe your allies or defend yourself from a nasty DM) and still be a useful team member. Like a sorceress who was extremely tough but mainly relied on spellcasting until she was attacked by a group of rogues in the final session, at which point she grew to 70 feet in height and beat them to death with a tree.

2009-09-11, 06:40 AM
There aren't really any viable builds at all that do this that I can think of. Most of the horrible-until-late builds involve a triple-threat or quadruple-threat (9th level arcane/divine and +16 BAB @20, maybe 9th level maneuvers/stances and/or 9th level psionic powers) and are intended to be an exercise in numbers rather than a playable build. The only playable character I can think of that suddenly gains all of its tricks at a single level would be a Shadowcraft Mage upon gaining Shadow Illusion, but that character is probably still one of the most useful characters in the party leading up to that. You could maybe consider a Wild Shape Ranger/ Master of Many Forms build to do this, he's a mediocre melee combatant until he can Wild Shape into a powerful form, but just about anyone with combat reflexes and a reach weapon is going to be useful in the early levels. The builds that contribute nothing until a certain level were never meant to be played in the first place, they're just theoretical look-what-I-can-do builds.

2009-09-11, 06:51 AM
There aren't really any viable builds at all that do this that I can think of.


2009-09-11, 07:23 AM
My bard is an excellent example of this. He spent 10 levels standing in the back singing for the rest of the party, not a bad contribution, mind, but it was very, very boring. Not to mention that I rolled so abysmally for his stats that he was terrible at doing anything but hiding in the corner and amassing magic items that the rest of the party didn't want that would boost his defenses and ability to stay alive should the unthinkable happen and he gets base-to-base with a monster. He shined in roleplay as all bards should, and took nothing but the feat Extra Music for 10 levels.

Then we hit level 11, and he took his first level of Seeker of the Song. Suddenly, Bard McWeaksauce became CANNON OF FIRE. By this time I could juggle two songs concurrently and use the refrain of the first Seeker song to gout a 6d6 cone of fire 30+times/day. Instantly, he became a primary damage dealer for the group and was still the skillmonkey.

We are now level 14, and I can do damage to constructs, cones of fire, lines of cold, and heal people with perform checks. My long (3 years) of slogging through the first 10 levels of bard have finally paid off, and I now finally shine to the rest of the group.

2009-09-11, 07:24 AM
I disagree. You can have a supermount and be an effective mounted ubercharger yourself. Even before you get your supermount up to speed you're still a paladin with Spirited Charge, a Valourous lance, and a riding animal.

Totally Guy
2009-09-11, 07:28 AM
There aren't really any viable builds at all that do this that I can think of.

Ok, you know more than me. But I wasn't thinking of anything so extreme. I was only thinking of characters that make everyone go... "Wait, when did he become competent?" Even if they start hilariously badly that's even funnier.

2009-09-11, 07:33 AM
My Wizard/Loremaster was like this. From levels 2 up to level 6 she contributed, but really wasn't anything amazing. It might have had something to do with the fact that she specialised in enchantment spells, and most of the creatures we ran into had high spell resistance, high saves, immunity to mind-affecting things, or all three at once.

Then somewhere around levels 7-8 everyone suddenly noticed that she'd gone from the party wimp to the party heavyweight. It was a combination of picking up the level 4 and 5 spells, and getting a bunch of treasure that let her put her crafting feats to good use. By level 9 she had a collection of spells and magic items that let her do practically anything. Going from pushover to Supergirl was a fun feeling. :)

Temet Nosce
2009-09-11, 07:35 AM
I have played a few characters which hit serious power jumps, but nothing that was useless to the party beforehand (one, that would be unfair to the party, and two it's unnecessary).

2009-09-11, 07:45 AM
It's nothing special, but in a core/SRD only PbP game, with very few optimized builds, I'm looking forward to when my PC simultaneously takes Human Paragon 3 and gains +2 Dex, gets iterative attacks at BAB +6, and picks up Improved Two Weapon Fighting, and suddenly opens a combat by hurling 4 or 5 sneak attack javelins or daggers.

Zeta Kai
2009-09-11, 07:56 AM
Most of my playtesting of the Bio-Mage leads me to believe that a BM can fill a number of potential party roles, & that their general usefulness is measured by their willingness/capacity to burn themselves out. They can be very conservative & contribute little to the party's average power level, or can go nova (or as nova as one can go with exhausting oneself temporarily) & be a fearsome powerhouse. It all depends on how you wanna play them, which is exactly how the class is designed.

2009-09-11, 12:27 PM
Once you hit the second & third levels of incantatrix, the party suddenly becomes a small band of gods.

2009-09-11, 02:54 PM
My Artificer is doing this. Levels 1-6 or so, there's not much to do in combat. Level 7, I pick up wands, I have both Reach and Chain, and I can get level 5 spells. Everyone in the party becomes minor gods.

2009-09-11, 03:03 PM
My favorite character I've ever played was Rayje, the Binder/Incarnate/Chameleon. He reinvented himself every day, and had enough ranks in Bluff and Disguise to make people think "huh, maybe he really is a cleric, despite having the blasty spells and familiar yesterday and the sneaky archery talent the day before that"

A lot of new roles... well, I won't say opened up for me, but took a couple fewer Bluff checks when I actually got my first level of Chameleon at level 6. Suddenly being able to actually cast divine spells made it a hell of a lot easier to pretend to be, say, a Paladin.

Of course, he was quite competent before then (MAD as all hell, but if he had a day to prepare, he really could fill any niche the party needed), but he became even BETTER once he hit Chameleon for real. I'm still sad that that game ended.

2009-09-11, 03:20 PM
When a druid first gets Large wild shape. Before you had only 1 bear. Now you have 2 bears.

2009-09-11, 03:25 PM
I have to say that this is pretty common for most low level builds played by non-veteran gamers. In particular, level 1ish tends to suck rocks for any non-ToB class unless you really know what you're doing. And when played "honestly" (ie, you pick the spells that seem cool, instead of reading the Batman guide) Wizards tend to "pay for" their high level awesomeness by sucking at low levels (dirt poor hit points, AC, To-Hit, Skills, etc).