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View Full Version : +1 LA vs Sorcerer/wizard dip



Frosty
2008-07-03, 06:00 PM
Even for non-casters, where LA hurts you less, I can't really imagine LA being worth it barring a few specific races or templates that are very very good (and some of them downright cheesy. *cough* Mineral warrior).

If you're going to "waste" a level, why not take a one level sorcere/wizard dip? I mean, it is GOOD to being able to cast True Strike or Feather Fall 3 times a day, getting a Familiar, +2 Will saves, ability to use wands, a chance to add to some skills you never had good access to before, +1 *actual* HD (even if it's only 1d4), and if wizard instead of sorcerer, you can get Scribe Scroll for free as well! If you use that one spell from the Book of Vile Darkness you can even change that Scribe Scroll into another feat.

Seriously, I can count on one hand the +1 LAs that beat this. Hell, True Strike and Feather Fall don't even have Somatic components, so no ASF! So...should everyone just ignore anything with a Level Adjustment?

monty
2008-07-03, 06:05 PM
1. Stats. You need 11 Int or Cha, popular dump stats.
2. Roleplaying. Joe Barbarian can cast spells now? Also, a lot of people choose races with LA for flavor reasons. Otherwise, you wouldn't need most of the monster as PC rules, because everyone'd be one of half a dozen races.
3. Multiclassing penalties. Some DMs actually enforce this.

Frosty
2008-07-03, 06:13 PM
Joe Chain-Tripper with Imporved Trip probably doesn't have Int as a dump stat. Enlarge Person is a level 1 spell too.

monty
2008-07-03, 06:16 PM
Joe Chain-Tripper with Imporved Trip probably doesn't have Int as a dump stat. Enlarge Person is a level 1 spell too.

So? There are stupid fighter builds too. Exceptions don't invalidate the point.

Frosty
2008-07-03, 06:19 PM
In my experience, I don't see many fighters with both <11 int AND <11 cha. Fighters are hurting for skillpoints, so pumping some into Int is a good idea. Obviously, if you don't have at least 11 in a casting stat, don't do this. I personally have never played a fighter with less than 11 int AND 11 cha.

monty
2008-07-03, 06:22 PM
Depends on what sort of stat generation you're using. With rolled stats, it depends on your luck. If you only roll a few high stats, or if you're using point buy, Con is always more important than Cha or Int, and Str and/or Dex is/are a higher priority, depending on the sort of build you're doing. Int is rarely more important than any of the physical stats unless your build relies on it.

Chronos
2008-07-03, 06:24 PM
Action economy. If you take Goliath or Half-Giant, you get +4 Str and Powerful Build, always. For Minotaur or Half-Ogre, you get even more strength and honest-to-goodness Large size, again always, albeit at the cost of another LA. For Wizard, you get large size and +str (and not even as much of it) for a single battle, after you waste an action to cast your spell.

Basically, once you get up to decent levels, your fightery abilities will almost always be a better use of your actions than your magey abilities.

Frosty
2008-07-03, 06:26 PM
I almost always go with Point buy. I hate rolling, to be honest.

As for action, you don't think True Strike might be worth it? You can basically power attack with impunity. Sure you won't be casting it over and over, but there are times when a few strategic level 1 spells would be very beneficial.

Besides, If you're a half-ogre or minotaur, you better be prepared for the social consequences.

monty
2008-07-03, 06:30 PM
Besides, If you're a half-ogre or minotaur, you better be prepared for the social consequences.

Roleplaying. Some people like having to deal with things like that (personally, I like playing goblins mostly because of this). You haven't said anything about that or my third point.

Frosty
2008-07-03, 06:31 PM
Meh. I've never played with a DM that enforced multiclass penalties. If you do, it's a consideration. And why can't Grog the barbarian cast some spells? You can rp it any way you like. He has sucha strong force of personality, that even the laws of physics are intimidated! They grant Grog small gifts int he form of magical effects.

Jack_Simth
2008-07-03, 06:35 PM
For a Fighter-type where you're only worried about HP and To-Hit:

If:
(Pre Template-Con bonus + 1/2 class Hit Die size) * Template LA < (Post-Template Con bonus * Post-template Hit Dice)
AND:
(Template Strength increase/2) > Template LA
THEN:
Template is worthwhile.

That is, the half-dragon template (+3 LA, +8 Str, +2 Con) always meets the second condition (+8 strength increase / 2 = +4, which is greater than the +3 LA) and (assuming a base Con of 16, for now) meets the first after ECL 27 or so (e.g., not in normal play, unless you can effectively get it for free).

Frosty
2008-07-03, 06:42 PM
Well having less HD is bad in general. For example, Blasphemy, Holy Word, and other things reliant on HD will affect that half-dragon a lot more. And, a bit less of a concern, they also get less base saves. But yes, to-hit and HP are two of the more important things.

Jack_Simth
2008-07-03, 06:45 PM
Well having less HD is bad in general. For example, Blasphemy, Holy Word, and other things reliant on HD will affect that half-dragon a lot more. And, a bit less of a concern, they also get less base saves. But yes, to-hit and HP are two of the more important things.

Yes, there are a relative handful of effects that are based primarily on HD, and an LA of +3 means all your saves are down by at least 1 (before the stat boosts bring them back up). But then, I did put the caveat at the top "where you're only worried about HP and To-Hit" - if you've got more concerns than that, the rest doesn't fully apply.

Faithless
2008-07-03, 06:52 PM
Frosty makes an excellent point. However the biggest weakness is that it requires an action to cast these spells. A valuable action.

Goliath
+4 Strength, -2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution

So from a standard orc, that's no mental penalties and a +2 constitution(Balanced out by the dex penalty but still).

We can translate that too better roleplay and fluff.

+1 will
+1 skill point/level
Powerful build(An extra d8 at it's best)
+4 to grapple, bullrush whatever
Other unique abilities

Wizard
+2 will
An extra HD
A few skill points(Becomes obsolete at higher levels)
Minor spells that require an action where you could be hitting them.
Requires an extra statistic

monty
2008-07-03, 06:56 PM
Meh. I've never played with a DM that enforced multiclass penalties. If you do, it's a consideration. And why can't Grog the barbarian cast some spells? You can rp it any way you like. He has sucha strong force of personality, that even the laws of physics are intimidated! They grant Grog small gifts int he form of magical effects.

Sorcerer maybe, but I can't see wizard working for anything like this (wizard fluff implies a significant part of your life studying the arcane arts). Of course, having a "strong force of personality" follows from a high Cha score, in which case you're justified in taking Sorcerer anyway.

Chronicled
2008-07-03, 07:44 PM
As for action, you don't think True Strike might be worth it? You can basically power attack with impunity. Sure you won't be casting it over and over, but there are times when a few strategic level 1 spells would be very beneficial.

No, I don't think it is. You spend 1 turn casting, so that the immediate next turn you can power attack for full on ONE attack. That means it's only really useful the turn before you spring an ambush. Better spells would be things that could be highly useful, but are situational--Featherfall, for instance (but there's many better ways to get that).

Also consider that if you want those spell slots each day, that means you're no longer able to pull the night watch, which can be important in some campaigns.

Finally, the Wizard's Scribe Scroll can be swapped out for a Fighter bonus feat even without the Embrace/Shun the Dark Chaos trick. There's a variant that does this in Unearthed Arcana (which means it's also in the SRD).

Chronos
2008-07-03, 08:06 PM
Also don't forget about arcane spell failure from armor. Some spells lack somatic components, of course, but not very many, and you can't afford Still Spell on the rest. You can still do the twilight mithral thing, but that'll give you less AC than whatever armor you'd wear if you weren't worried about ASF. Long-duration buffs that you cast before putting on your armor aren't really an option, either, since at first level, there aren't any long-duration buffs.

kjones
2008-07-03, 08:22 PM
Excellent point, Chronos - I'm surprised that nobody brought this up already. One of the challenges of playing any sort of gish is trying to figure out how to wear armor and still cast spells. (Not that a 1-level dip makes you a gish, but a lot of the same considerations come into play.) So in addition to having a few situationally useful spells, you'd have to take off your armor in order to cast them.

tyckspoon
2008-07-03, 08:36 PM
Excellent point, Chronos - I'm surprised that nobody brought this up already. One of the challenges of playing any sort of gish is trying to figure out how to wear armor and still cast spells. (Not that a 1-level dip makes you a gish, but a lot of the same considerations come into play.) So in addition to having a few situationally useful spells, you'd have to take off your armor in order to cast them.

Cleric works better from a strictly mechanical viewpoint anyway. Better HD, no failure chance, and picking Domains makes for better class features.

monty
2008-07-03, 08:39 PM
Cleric works better from a strictly mechanical viewpoint anyway. Better HD, no failure chance, and picking Domains makes for better class features.

Also, that extra +2 to your Fort save can't hurt.

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2008-07-03, 09:50 PM
What it really comes down to is the fact that you'll usually be taking a LA in order for your character to be better at something he already does. For a tripper, your Powerful Build or Large size gives an extra +4 to trip checks, plus the Str bonus doesn't hurt. A large size race means more reach in the surprise round with Combat Reflexes, which Enlarge Person doesn't accomplish. You're comparing dipping one level in a specifically non-combat class, as opposed to taking a level-adjusted race or template that specifically makes you better at your combat role. It's like apples and oranges.

Compare the versatility gain of a two-level dip in Wizard, Sorcerer, Bard, even Suel Arcanamach, Ur-Priest, or Divine Crusader, with gaining the Half-Fey (http://wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sp/20040213a) or Phrenic (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/monsters/phrenicCreature.htm) templates for any non-spellcaster build. I'd take one of those templates over gaining the spells and whatnot of dipping a spellcasting class any day. For a noncaster build, the only class I'd dip into for versatility or power would be Wizard, specialized in Conjuration, with the Fighter Feat variant (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm#wizard) from UA, and the PHB2 Immediate Magic variant for Conjurers to get Abrupt Jaunt. Spells would include Benign Transposition, Blades of Fire, Nerveskitter, Ray of Flame (to catch stuff on fire), and every 1st level swift action spell. Spells that either don't take actions, won't be used in combat, or would be useful to get out of a bad situation. And that's mostly just for the free feat and because Abrupt Jaunt is so good.

Generally speaking, you'll usually get better results out of a template than dipping a class for 1st or even 2nd level spells. Most templates will either improve what you're already good at above and beyond what dipping an offspec class could grant, or they'll give you way better abilities than an equal number of levels in a given class. The only exception would probably be if you're already aiming at quite a few levels in a prestige class that advances spellcasting without requiring spellcasting to enter. Examples of such classes would be Dragon Slayer, Talon of Tiamat, and quite a few classes from BoVD. In that case, taking just one level of a spellcasting class would probably be worth doing in the long run since you'll end up getting better at it, as opposed to being forever stuck at only 1st level spells.

Frosty
2008-07-04, 12:01 PM
Sure I agree *some* +1 LA races are good for certain builds, but the vast majority of races aren't worth it. Why would anyone ever want a normal Tiefling or Aasimar without LA buyoff? You're always better off with another level in like...anything,

AmberVael
2008-07-04, 12:09 PM
Excellent point, Chronos - I'm surprised that nobody brought this up already. One of the challenges of playing any sort of gish is trying to figure out how to wear armor and still cast spells. (Not that a 1-level dip makes you a gish, but a lot of the same considerations come into play.) So in addition to having a few situationally useful spells, you'd have to take off your armor in order to cast them.

I'm not surprised. Armor class is practically worthless considering how it scales as opposed to attack bonuses. Why do you think Power Attack works so well?
The only real reason to wear armor is for the enchantments you can put on them. A better defense is something like a cloak of displacement, or other pure miss chance based defenses.

monty
2008-07-04, 12:27 PM
Sure I agree *some* +1 LA races are good for certain builds, but the vast majority of races aren't worth it. Why would anyone ever want a normal Tiefling or Aasimar without LA buyoff? You're always better off with another level in like...anything,

Again: roleplaying. Sure, it's not optimal, but you asked why anybody would want to play it, not necessarily whether it would be a good choice.

Chronos
2008-07-04, 01:37 PM
You're always better off with another level in like...anything,While there are certainly a great many LA which are mechanically worse than a typical class level, there are a lot of classes which are more dippable than wizards. Remember, what makes wizards so unbalanced is how their power scales with level: Wizard levels are great when you've got a lot of them. But if you're going to only take one level of it, then you're better off with something with a weaker scaling.

Talya
2008-07-04, 01:42 PM
There are precious few level adjustments that are worth it. They do, however, exist. There are a few races with low LAs for what they give you, and a few templates that give you so much, that you can find ways to abuse it despite the LA.

For example:

Goliath (+4 str, +2 con, -2 dex, Powerful Build, Darkvision, sense motive/jump bonuses, a number of great racial feats) - Very strong for its level adjustment. If using a build that takes advantage of its strengths, this is worth it.

Catfolk (+4 dex, +2 cha, 40' base speed, a number of great racial feats) - Can be strong for its level adjustment, if well optimized.

Half-Celestial or Half Fiend -Apart from insane ability modifiers, it's the spell like abilities that can get abused here--especially if you take the "Magic in the Blood" feat. This character won't ever be overpowered, but they can definitely find their niche and their usefulness, ending up decent at melee if you take a strong melee class, with great utility casting.

monty
2008-07-04, 01:44 PM
Well, as long as we're talking about things that are good for their level adjustment...

Saint. I might consider taking this with a caster, even.

Aneantir
2008-07-04, 02:03 PM
Actually, I believe there was some thread on the Gleemax forums that a more optimal one-level dip was Cleric, as opposed to Wizard/Sorceror.

Sure, you get some random dinky little spells if you go with Wizard/Sorceror, but if you pickup a level in cleric instead you get 2 good saves as opposed to one, you get a better HD for your one level dip, the 11 Wisdom isn't as much of a dump as Int and Cha is for most melee-beaters, some random minor spells which can have decent uses, and, best of all, you get Domains, which translate into Domain feats(complete champion), that scale by Character Level.

For instance, if you were a Barbarian, you would greatly benefit by taking a level in Cleric, so that you can take the Animal and Travel domains, then give up the domain abilities and gain the Animal Devotion and Travel Devotion feats in their place.

Animal Devotion gives you one of the following for 1 minute once per day, activated as a swift action, and you can gain new uses by spending turn attempts (that you wont use anyway):

+2 bonus to strength, an additional +2 per 6 character levels (maxing out at +8 at level 18)
+5 movement speed, an additional +5 ft per 4 character levels (maxing out at +30 at level 20)
Fly as though using the Overland Flight spell, at fifth level and every 5 levels thereafter you gain +5 ft to your flight speed, topping out at +20 at level 20.
A natural bite attack that deals 1d3 points of Constitution damage, but no hit point damage, negated by a fort save.

While Travel Devotion gives you the ability to spend a swift action to give yourself the ability to move as a swift action instead of a move action for one minute. So, for any fighter-type, it's like pounce in a can, only you don.t have to move in a straight line for a charge. And again, you can spend some turn attempts to gain an extra use per day.


So, while yes, dipping a class generally offers more to your character than taking a race with LA, Wizard/Sorceror absolutely pales in comparison to the Cleric for most characters, unless you need those level 1 arcane spells to qualify for something.

Reinboom
2008-07-05, 12:17 AM
Catfolk (+4 dex, +2 cha, 40' base speed, a number of great racial feats) - Can be strong for its level adjustment, if well optimized.

You didn't even mention their racial feat possibility. Pounce is great!

Talic
2008-07-05, 12:37 AM
It can be done, but is rarely optimal. I can see True strike + Circlet of rapid casting for a Power attack fighter. I can see Twilight Mithril chain shirt + Enlarge for a chain tripper.

In the first, the true strike is free action.

In the second, you enhance your primary feature, area coverage for AoO's, with that action.

monty
2008-07-05, 01:16 AM
You didn't even mention their racial feat possibility. Pounce is great!


a number of great racial feats

What?thisistext

Mark Hall
2008-07-05, 01:26 AM
+1 LA is nothing if you're allowed LA buyoff. I went with a half-giant for my warblade because I realized it would work, both for character reasons and mechanically.

Frosty
2008-07-05, 01:27 AM
You didn't even mention their racial feat possibility. Pounce is great!

Monty, she's talking about Catfolk Pounce. If target is flat-footed, you can make a full-attack on the charge. I'd rather dip barbarian though for Pounce whenever I want.

monty
2008-07-05, 01:29 AM
Monty, she's talking about Catfolk Pounce. If target is flat-footed, you can make a full-attack on the charge. I'd rather dip barbarian though for Pounce whenever I want.

I know what Pounce does, but the quote said the previous poster didn't mention racial feats, which they did.

Reinboom
2008-07-05, 01:30 AM
I know what Pounce does, but the quote said the previous poster didn't mention racial feats, which they did.

Hey, let me have my partial and misreads. :smalltongue:

monty
2008-07-05, 01:32 AM
Hey, let me have my partial and misreads. :smalltongue:

All right, as long as I can feel superior by correcting you.:smallbiggrin:

Talic
2008-07-05, 01:40 AM
TBH, a psion is a better fit to fighter classes, and psy warrior better still. Both get bonus feats, usable towards any psionic feat (psywar can also get fighter bonus feats).

Wilder is probably a bit better than sorceror, in terms of ease of use (no somatic components), though sorceror gets a bit more bang for the buck at level 1.

Reinboom
2008-07-05, 01:41 AM
All right, as long as I can feel superior by correcting you.:smallbiggrin:

I can't stop how you feel. Just know that, the love between us shall wither because of it though.


On topic:
I've commonly considered doing Sorcerer dips just to grab Benign Transposition a lot.
However, it's been more of a passing fancy than anything.


Also, I can only think of 3 template LAs off the top of my head for +1 that I would consider 'worthy'.
Mineral Warrior, Lolth Touched, and Dark.

Talic
2008-07-05, 01:53 AM
Tauric is worth the cost as well, but only because you can stack up free templates on the animal side, with no additional cost, and almost all the power.

Frosty
2008-07-05, 02:06 AM
Why get the Dark Template? spend 20k gold and get it as an item!

Reinboom
2008-07-05, 02:11 AM
Why get the Dark Template? spend 20k gold and get it as an item!

For only 10 minutes a day.

Frosty
2008-07-05, 02:13 AM
The 10k version is 10 minutes a day. The 20k version is continuous.

Draz74
2008-07-05, 02:38 AM
The 10k version is 10 minutes a day. The 20k version is continuous.

10.8k and 22k, technically. Your point stands anyway (though if you play with LA buyoff, I'd rather take the template than spend 22k).

Chronos
2008-07-05, 11:40 AM
When I play a sneaky character, I prefer to be as independent of magic as possible. First, it keeps me functioning in an AMF (which I expect to encounter fairly often, from UMDing it myself, if nothing else), and second, it's one less aura I have to worry about giving me away. That, and there's a ton of good stuff out there for the neck slot, that I'd have to give up. So even without LA buyoff, I'd rather have the template than the collar. With buy-off, though, it's a no-brainer.

monty
2008-07-05, 11:57 AM
So, from an optimizing standpoint, a level of wizard is better than most templates. You're asking why you'd take a level adjustment when you could take a caster level. Well, I ask: why would you take non-caster levels when you could be taking more caster levels instead? Why are you sticking all those barbarian levels on your character when you could just take a 20-level wizard dip instead? It's better.

Frosty
2008-07-05, 12:19 PM
So, from an optimizing standpoint, a level of wizard is better than most templates. You're asking why you'd take a level adjustment when you could take a caster level. Well, I ask: why would you take non-caster levels when you could be taking more caster levels instead? Why are you sticking all those barbarian levels on your character when you could just take a 20-level wizard dip instead? It's better.

In 3.5, this is very much a concern and a huge balance issue.

monty
2008-07-05, 12:56 PM
In 3.5, this is very much a concern and a huge balance issue.

That's my point. The "best" choice isn't always the best choice. Assuming your goal is to have fun, at least.

Mark Hall
2008-07-05, 11:45 PM
That's my point. The "best" choice isn't always the best choice. Assuming your goal is to have fun, at least.

Bah. Fun was legislated out of RPGs at Gen Con '04.