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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XIX

    Finally finished! My total word count is 11,165, so I'm going to need several posts for this. Let's get started.

    Jacinta Marzoni

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    I can see right off the bat that you're quite good at “initimidating.” I'm not sure what “initimidating” is, but you seem to have max ranks in “initimidate.” It may be related to “diguise,” but I'm not quite sure. Pro tip: If you're going to copy and paste something over and over, make sure that it's spelled correctly first. Also, I don't know whether it's dedication to the cause or just some really interesting copying and pasting, but I find it noteworthy that you stuck doggedly to these spellings even in your stat block.

    Originality: Rogue gets a yawn, but the changeling sub levels and Uncanny Trickster at least sort of got my attention. That's at least a lot more Rogue than I'm used to seeing here. (0) Total: 3

    Power: The Changeling Rogue sub level ability to take 10 on Intimidate is quite useful here, but I don't really see much else in the way of fear optimization. (0) Your 7d6 SA is respectable, but I don't see any good way of getting it on a full attack; Improved Feint is acceptable at lower levels, but at higher levels (especially with TWF), it's important to get in more than a single good strike. You do mention that “Group Fake-Out lets you deal sneak attack damage to lots of foes at once,” but what exactly do you mean by that? Are you planning on throwing your daggers at multiple enemies? I really don't see anything here that actually flows. You have SA and TWF, but you're not really a blender. You have Scourge of the Seas and the ability to take 10, but you don't have any way of decreasing the action time or worsening the fear. In short, you seem unfocused. Your skill tricks are cute, and you're not going to be totally useless, but you're never really going to shine, either. (–1) Staggering Strike is a good trick (and I wish it had come earlier in your build), so that at least lets your one sneak attack per round function as a debuff instead of just a few dice of damage. (+0.25) Total: 2.25

    Elegance: I admit, I laughed out loud when I saw your footnote claiming that the “substituion” level wasn't a typo. You really would have benefited from a quick proofreading. Between “initimidate,” “diguise,” “substituion,” and a few other spelling errors (not to mention a few questionable unformatted hyphens which were meant as en dashes but should have been em dashes), I can't let you go by without some red ink. (–0.25) I do think that this is one of the only times that I've seen Uncanny Trickster actually used for skill tricks instead of just for progressing something that you shouldn't progress or nabbing a few extra skill points on an otherwise normal build, so that's pretty cool. (+0.25) Overall, I don't see anything impressively good or impressively bad. Total: 3

    Use of Secret Ingredient: I was a little bit surprised to see a changeling, since a disguised DP does not gain the benefit of Fearsome Reputation. That said, since you don't have that many ranks in Disguise (or “Diguise”), it's obvious to me that you aren't planning on going around in a false form most of the time. (0) Moving right along, I'm rather displeased by the fact that you dropped P: Sailor like a hot potato the minute you qualified for Dread Pirate. Seamanship or no Seamanship, you need to have some strong ranks if you want to actually sail a vessel. More than anything, that made it feel like you forgot that you were on a boat. (–0.25) Skill Mastery is nice, but nothing special. Between Improved Feint, Tumbling Feint, and your movement-based skill tricks, it's clear to me that you're not planning on standing in one spot long enough to really use TWF. I'm repeating myself, but I just don't see what you really do with any of the DP class features. In short, I'm not convinced that you need to be a Dread Pirate. (–0.5) Total: 2.25

    Final Evaluation: I like skillmonkeys and skill-heavy characters. I expected to get a lot more out of your build than I actually saw. I just didn't see anything special or terribly interesting. Changeling Rogue was cool, but you didn't do much with it.

    Final Total: 10.5


    Captain Four Fingers

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    You know, I expected to see more people use some of your tricks. No time to waste; let's get started.

    Originality: Good job expertly dodging all of the expected entry classes. No Rogue, no Bard, no Swashbuckler. Quite refreshing. Barbarian actually fits the class quite well in both fluff and crunch (hell, the Vikings were basically seafaring pirates in a lot of ways). I like what I'm seeing. (+1) Total: 4

    Power: I think this is the most elegant (not necessarily Elegant; elegant) use of fear I've seen out of Dread Pirate. Dreadful Wrath is much better than most Frightful Presence-style abilities, and you use it to good effect. Scourge of the Seas and Imperious Command are standard, but the way you trigger them isn't. I'm almost having a hard time keeping track of how many different sources of AoE fear you have, and they all flow seamlessly together with excellent action economy. (+0.5) I find your assertion that Dread Blade gives you SA and Craven to be contentious; it's quite specific about being “for the purpose of sudden strike,” not for anything else. As such, I don't think that your actual damage output is quite as high as you say it is. That said, a cowering enemy loses its DEX bonus to AC, so once you're started your fear cycle, you should be OK. (0) I was thrilled to see Pounce show up, given that DP gives you TWF and Acrobatic Charge. I also believe that you're the only (or perhaps one of the only; forgive me if I'm mistaken, but I've been at this for a while) one to use GTWF, which is a mark in your favor. You're a terrifying blender, and you're quite good at it. (+0.5)

    You do get off to a slow start; you're pretty much nothing but Dreadful Wrath at low levels, especially if we listen to your fluff and tactics and say that you use an axe at low levels (I somehow doubt that you're using a handaxe, and with 8 STR, you really need a finesse weapon). I mean, really, a charger with 8 STR and 11 CON? It's really a slower start than I'd like. (–0.25) The standard note about fear-immune foes applies, of course, but at least you acknowledged your weakness and mentioned it. UMD helps, definitely. We'll call that even. (0) Total: 3.75

    Elegance: K: Geography as your Adaptive Learning? Most classy, sir! Most classy! I played in a seafaring campaign once where, despite being well-trained, our navigator could not make a K: Geography check to save his life. We were really good at our P: Sailor checks, and we'd stay dead on course to go to whatever hilariously wrong point we set our course for, but since that damned K: Geo check always failed, we'd always end up somewhere bizarre. I'm very glad to see someone recognize that it's such an important part of seafaring. (+0.5) I can't decide how I feel about your sudden low-rank training in a bunch of piratey skills once you hit DP. On the one hand, I suppose it's easier to swallow than “last level I barely knew which end of the horse was the front, but this level I've got eight ranks in Ride and the Mounted Combat feat.” On the other, those single ranks only do you the barest amount of good until you get around to boosting 'em. We'll call it even. (0) I must say that I love your level progression; you meet your prereqs perfectly, and your level breakpoints make perfect sense. (+0.25) Also, I adore your rationale for Quick Draw. It was an obvious prereq feat for everyone else, but your little triple-free-action trophy snatch trick is just a thing of beauty. (+0.25) I really don't see much that I don't like. Total: 4

    Use of Secret Ingredient: I believe that this build came the closest to using every part of the buffalo. Pounce and the TWF feat chain are great with Acrobatic Charge; you took Craven to make your 2d6 SA worthwhile; you found clever uses for the prereq feats; you remembered that you're on a boat; your tactic of killing your own crew to activate both Motivate the Scum and Bloody Murder is very classy— I love it. It just works. This build is obviously a Dread Pirate through and through, building on and very neatly meshing with its other 10 levels. Bravo. (+1.5) The only thing I see to quibble about is that Motivate the Scum does require that you kill a helpless target, so you'll have to have your victim properly prepared prior to combat. Nonetheless, excellent work. Total: 4.5

    Final Evaluation: What can I say? This build just works. It's smooth, it's unique, it's effective in ways that I didn't expect, and it was downright refreshing to see. I didn't expect to give you so high of a score, honestly, but when I go through and tally up my notes, you've earned it.

    Final Total: 16.25


    Hendrick Van der Decken

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    I have a hunch that I know how Mr. der Decken wears his hair. The answer is dreadlocks. But you knew that.

    Originality: I know what you're thinking. You're thinking about how you came up with a clever and unique combination that has cool name synergy and great potential, and how cool you are for having thought of it when no one else did. You're feeling pretty smug and self-satisfied, aren't you? Well, you know what? You go ahead and feel as smug as you want. You've earned it. Congrats. (+2) Total: 5

    Power: OK, first the good part. I love seeing Dread Witch here. It gives a bigger bonus to Intimidate in 4 levels than Dread Pirate does in 10, but since the two work well together, Dread Witch is an excellent addition to the build. (+0.5) Your strategies are pretty obvious; between the fear aura, Frightful Presence, Daunting Presence, Scourge of the Seas, and so on, you're a nasty fear machine. Unfortunately, you're totally shut down by anything immune to fear, but that's the nature of the beast. Frightful Presence isn't that useful, of course—almost anything worth bothering with has more HD than you and is thus immune, which is kind of a real shame. I kind of feel like Intimidating Strike (PHB2) would have been more effective than Daunting Presence, since (as your build aptly demonstrates) it's much easier to get an enormous bonus to Intimidate than it is to increase the save DC on Daunting Presence, and it would have triggered Frightful Presence as well. If you're truly comfortable in melee, I think it would have been worth the risk.

    Your spells provide some good tricks at low levels, though you don't get terribly many spells that stay useful at high levels, mostly since the save DCs just aren't going to cut it after too long. By my count, you've got 3rd level spells (note that your table is incorrect: DNs don't get cantrips, so it looks like you're one spell level behind where you actually are) from ECL 6 until ECL 19, so your actual spells aren't going to be astounding after you start taking Dread Pirate (though Ray of Exhaustion is going to be useful for quite some time to come). This means that you kind of falter a bit between around when you enter (or perhaps leave) Dread Witch and until you hit Scourge of the Seas; you're still mostly casterlike at that point, but your spells are kind of lagging. You're fine at low levels and you're pretty good at high levels, but there's kind of a donut hole there. (–0.25) While it's not quite unique, I would have loved to have seen Arcane Strike in here, just so that your spells aren't dead weight at higher levels. (Netherese Battle Curse would have been even better, of course, but it requires Power Attack, and I don't blame you for not taking PA.) Your SA damage is pretty laughable; I can see you putting on your game face and desperately trying to say that it's relevant (Wracking Touch is a nice flourish), but 1d6 at ECL 11 and 2d6 at ECL 15 is, well, forgettable. We all know you're in this for the fear, though, which you do quite well. Total: 3.25

    Elegance: So, this may be inadvertent, but it turns out that Greater Master of Terror doesn't actually help you. Perhaps you noticed this, but whether you did or not, this is what I got out of it. I was all set to berate you for getting Dread Witch 4 way too late; I had misremembered GMoT as letting you punch through ALL fear immunity, when it in fact only works on spells you cast on enemies who have no more than 3 HD more than your (rather low) caster level. At level 20, it does nothing for you. So, lucky for you, that's really a wash; GMoT doesn't really help you at all, but it also means that you didn't delay what I thought would be a critical part of your build to an insultingly late level. Since GMoT's not the only thing you get at that level (Delay Fear isn't amazingly useful, but it's damn funny when it works), Dread Witch 4 is a fine capstone. (0)

    Anyway, it took me a few minutes to try to figure out what was up with your saves. I eventually got that you were giving me your full saves instead of your base saves, but I was quite taken aback for a while there. That was hard to read. (–0.25) I do approve of the fact that you took Tomb-Tainted Soul even though you eventually went Necropolitan. (Speaking of Necropolitan, I'm not 100% convinced that a human keeps getting the extra skill point every level after undergoing crucimigration, but since it's ambiguous, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.) Sure, Necropolitan means that you can't benefit from Absorb Fear, but I've played a Dread Witch, and Absorb Fear is not exactly why you're in the class. I'm pretty sure that it never came up in that entire campaign, actually. At any rate, Tomb-Tainted Soul gets you some points in my book, because it shows that you realize that you might not start at level 10, which is an attitude that's depressingly uncommon in circles like this. (+0.25) I do approve of your use of rebuked minions as crew; that's an excellent way to use your relatively small undead control pool (which is, if I'm not mistaken, 24 HD; hardly overwhelming) and relatively low rebuking level (which limits how powerful the undead you can control are) to very flavorful effect. Most of your crew will still probably be alive, but I can't argue with the image of a literal skeleton crew. (+0.25) Total: 3.25

    Use of Secret Ingredient: First, a small quibble. While I adore the idea of crewing your ship with rebuked undead, Motivate the Scum simply won't work on them; it gives a morale bonus, and Rules Compendium p. 21 states that morale bonuses are always mind-affecting, which your undead crew members are immune to. It was a nice idea, but at least that small bit of it doesn't work. As I said in another build, I understand that you took Frightful Presence to try to get some use out of Acrobatic Charge, but since Frightful Presence also triggers on an attack, that's kind of a wash. I do see what you were trying to do, at least, so I won't take off anything, but I also can't really reward it. (0) You really did try gamely to use pretty much every feature that DP gives, even if it didn't always work. Given Skill Mastery, I was shocked to not see a single rank in Tumble. Also, given your relatively late entry, I was impressed to see that you hit DP 10 at one of the lowest ECLs in the contest. I will confess that DP does feel like it didn't have to be the focal point of the build, at least not for 10 levels; a lot of your tricks come from Dread N. and Dread W. rather than Dread P. (OK, I kind of just wanted to use all those abbreviations in one sentence, but my point stands), you know? Still, you tried. I love the image of Seamanship letting mindless skellies be competent (if not amazing) sailors, and (most importantly) your fluff tied everything together in a relatively convincing manner. (The only part I found odd was that your beloved master forced you to undergo crucimigration, apparently against your will, but hey, hiccups happen.) Overall, I think you earned a solid 3. Total: 3

    Final Evaluation: This one was kind of a thrill ride. I laughed out loud when I saw the class combo, I got really excited when I thought that DW would let you beat the fear immunity that plagues most dishonorable pirates, I got affronted when I realized that you took DW 4 at ECL 20, and I had a rather humbling moment of realization when I checked the wording on GMoT and realized that it didn't do what I think it did. It was a bit of work, but I think I had the most fun reading your build out of any so far. For that, if nothing else, bravo.

    Final Total: 14.5
    Last edited by Zaq; 2011-04-06 at 01:51 AM. Reason: Muphry's Law
    In the Beginning Was the Word, and the Word Was Suck: A Guide to Truenamers

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    Gentlefolk, learn from Zaq's example, and his suffering. Remember, seven out of eleven players who use truenamer lose their ability to taste ice cream.
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