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    Troll in the Playground
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    Apr 2011
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground LVI

    Tread lightly
    Quote Originally Posted by Bolivar of Kundarak
    Spoiler: Image and Fluff
    "Your job is simple; stand here, and don't let anyone in or out. You guard this vault with your life, y'hear? If they don't got the papers, the signet ring, the cohort and the toll, they don't get to go in. Simple as that. You might not need 'em now, but you can thank us later when that Urgosh and leather stops an axe from getting dug into yer skull. It gets easier after the first couple of years. Oh, and watch out for House Thuranni. They can get in and out before you even notice."
    "That said? Welcome to the Iron Gate, kid."

    Inheritance is a tricky thing. Sometimes the whole lot goes to one snot-nosed kid; sometimes it gets shared evenly amongst benefactors and close family. Out of his seven brothers and sisters, Bolivar received nothing from his father's passing. He had no claim to membership in the Merchant's guild, nor any evidence to his status as a noble. Korunda Gate did not permit freeloaders, however, and so he joined the Iron Gate to remain of use to his kinsmen.

    While he may have been the runt of the litter at home, he was determined to reach heights beyond his many siblings. His work was simplistic and draining, but it paid well and built up his stamina for the many years to come. More importantly, it gave reason to his ambition. Things could hardly get worse. He would resort to books and other academia in his piddling spare time, seeking some minor way to improve his working conditions. He would consort with members of the Golden Door, building up a knowledge of defensive traps and similar mechanisms. He would improve.

    For a while he moved under the radar, his tactics and devices being seen as little more than a peculiar hobby, but that fate was set to change. News spreaded quickly amongst the Warding Guild, praising his discipline and ingenuity even without a dragonmark of his own. As time passed his contracts and employers grew in value and status, respectively. He was of course regarded with caution, distrust and no small amount of scrutiny, but his skills proved more than sufficient for many. Even the Golden Door took notice, providing him with a probationary membership so long as he continued his work.

    Membership in the Golden Door provided Bolivar something precious; library access. While he'd used shadier, off-the-record deals in the past to gain access to one too many tomes of ancient dwarven arts, legitimate access was something else entirely. He took particular interest in the Defender's Codex, an elusive tome which detailed the methodology and exploits of an ancient dwarven art. It wasn't long before the tome belonged to him. With his intellect and cunning, the Codex proved easy to decipher and apply. whether he was guarding a vault or acting as a noble's bodyguard, its teachings proved to be an invaluable in his line of work.

    Time passed, and Bolivar's skills grew. He continued his learning into alchemy and trapmaking, intrigued by exotic compounds and devious gambits. One of his later assignments, a stint through Korran's Maw in the defense of some dwarven nobleman, earned him not only respect amongst the Hearthwarded Council but also the companionship of a particularly vicious lizard. He returned to Korunda Gate only to be honoured and given a permanent assignment to the nobleman's vault, the inside of which proving just large enough to hold his newfound bestial friend.

    Spoiler: Specifics
    Bolivar, Silver Key of House Kundarak
    Race: Dwarf
    Classes: Ranger 4/Artificer 1/Trapsmith 5/Dwarven Defender 10
    Ranger ACFs: Trap Expert (Replace Track with Trapfinding and Disable Device), Rival Organisation (Replace Favored Enemy with "Favored Organisation"), Skilled City Dweller (Replace Survival with Sense Motive), Urban Companion (Trade animal companion for special familiar), Champion of the Wild (Trade spells for style-specific bonus feats)
    Alignment: Lawful Neutral

    Ability Scores: 32 Point Buy
    Base: 10 Str, 16 Dex, 14 Con, 17 Int, 10 Wis, 7 Cha
    Racial: +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma
    Levels: +5 Intelligence
    Total: 10 Str, 16 Dex, 16 Con, 22 Int, 10 Wis, 5 Cha

    Base Hit Points: 4d8+6d6+10d12 = ~115

    Spoiler: Build
    Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
    1st Ranger 1 +1 +2 +2 +0 4 Handle Animal, 4 Craft (Trapmaking), 4 Disable Device, 4 Search, 4 Sense Motive, 4 Spot, 4 Listen, 4 Knowledge (Local), 4 Knowledge (Nature) Education (Local, Nature) Rival Organisation (House Thuranni), Trapfinding, Wild Empathy
    2nd Ranger 2 +2 +3 +3 +0 5 Handle Animal, 5 Craft (Trapmaking), 5 Disable Device, 5 Search, 5 Sense Motive, 5 Spot, 5 Listen, 5 Knowledge (Local), 5 Knowledge (Nature) Combat Style (Two-Weapon Fighting)
    3rd Ranger 3 +3 +3 +3 +1 6 Handle Animal, 6 Craft (Trapmaking), 6 Disable Device, 6 Search, 6 Sense Motive, 6 Spot, 6 Listen, 6 Knowledge (Local), 6 Knowledge (Nature) Dodge Endurance
    4th Ranger 4 +4 +4 +4 +1 7 Handle Animal, 7 Craft (Trapmaking), 1 Craft (Alchemy), 7 Disable Device, 7 Search, 7 Sense Motive, 7 Spot, 7 Listen, 7 Knowledge (Local), 7 Knowledge (Nature) Urban Companion (Bat, +3 Listen), Weapon Finesse
    5th Artificer 1 +4 +4 +4 +3 7 Handle Animal, 8 Craft (Trapmaking), 1 Craft (Alchemy), 8 Disable device, 8 Search, 7 Sense Motive, 7 Spot, 7 Listen, 7 Knowledge (Local), 7 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock Artificer Knowledge, Artisan Bonus, Disable Trap, Item Creation, Scribe Scroll, Infusions
    6th Trapsmith 1 +4 +4 +6 +3 7 Handle Animal, 9 Craft (Trapmaking), 1 Craft (Alchemy), 9 Disable device, 9 Search, 7 Sense Motive, 9 Spot, 9 Listen, 9 Knowledge (Local), 8 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock Toughness Booby Traps (Simple), Master Disarmer, Trap Sense +1, Spellcasting
    7th Trapsmith 2 +5 +4 +7 +3 7 Handle Animal, 10 Craft (Trapmaking), 3 Craft (Alchemy), 10 Disable device, 10 Search, 7 Sense Motive, 10 Spot, 10 Listen, 10 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock Arrow Proof, Quick Fingers
    8th Trapsmith 3 +6/1 +5 +7 +4 7 Handle Animal, 11 Craft (Trapmaking), 5 Craft (Alchemy), 2 Craft (Poisonmaking), 11 Disable device, 11 Search, 7 Sense Motive, 11 Spot, 11 Listen, 11 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock Booby Traps (Advanced), Unweave, Trap Sense +2
    9th Trapsmith 4 +7/2 +4 +8 +4 7 Handle Animal, 12 Craft (Trapmaking), 6 Craft (Alchemy), 5 Craft (Poisonmaking), 12 Disable device, 12 Search, 7 Sense Motive, 12 Spot, 12 Listen, 12 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock Knowledge Devotion Dance Through Dancer, Spell Proof
    10th Trapsmith 5 +7/2 +5 +8 +4 7 Handle Animal, 13 Craft (Trapmaking), 8 Craft (Alchemy), 7 Craft (Poisonmaking), 13 Disable device, 13 Search, 7 Sense Motive, 13 Spot, 13 Listen, 13 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock Avoid Disaster, Trap Sense +3
    11th Dwarven Defender 1 +8/3 +7 +8 +6 7 Handle Animal, 14 Craft (Trapmaking), 9 Craft (Alchemy), 8 Craft (Poisonmaking), 13 Disable device, 13 Search, 7 Sense Motive, 14 Spot, 14 Listen, 14 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock AC Bonus (+1), Defensive Stance 1/Day
    12th Dwarven Defender 2 +9/4 +8 +8 +7 7 Handle Animal, 15 Craft (Trapmaking), 10 Craft (Alchemy), 8 Craft (Poisonmaking), 13 Disable device, 13 Search, 9 Sense Motive, 15 Spot, 15 Listen, 15 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock Master of Poison Uncanny Dodge
    13th Dwarven Defender 3 +10/5 +8 +9 +7 7 Handle Animal, 16 Craft (Trapmaking), 11 Craft (Alchemy), 8 Craft (Poisonmaking), 13 Disable device, 13 Search, 11 Sense Motive, 16 Spot, 16 Listen, 16 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock Defensive Stance 2/Day
    14th Dwarven Defender 4 +11/6/1 +9 +9 +8 7 Handle Animal, 17 Craft (Trapmaking), 12 Craft (Alchemy), 8 Craft (Poisonmaking), 13 Disable device, 13 Search, 13 Sense Motive, 17 Spot, 17 Listen, 17 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock AC Bonus (+2), Trap Sense +1
    15th Dwarven Defender 5 +12/7/2 +9 +9 +8 7 Handle Animal, 18 Craft (Trapmaking), 14 Craft (Alchemy), 8 Craft (Poisonmaking), 13 Disable device, 13 Search, 14 Sense Motive, 18 Spot, 18 Listen, 18 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock Wild Cohort (Giant Banded Lizard) Defensive Stance 3/Day
    16th Dwarven Defender 6 +13/8/3 +10 +10 +9 7 Handle Animal, 19 Craft (Trapmaking), 15 Craft (Alchemy), 8 Craft (Poisonmaking), 13 Disable device, 13 Search, 15 Sense Motive, 19 Spot, 19 Listen, 19 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock Damage Reduction 3/-, Improved Uncanny Dodge
    17th Dwarven Defender 7 +14/9/4 +10 +10 +9 7 Handle Animal, 20 Craft (Trapmaking), 16 Craft (Alchemy), 8 Craft (Poisonmaking), 13 Disable device, 13 Search, 16 Sense Motive, 20 Spot, 20 Listen, 20 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock AC Bonus (+3), Defensive Stance 4/Day
    18th Dwarven Defender 8 +15/10/5 +11 +10 +10 7 Handle Animal, 21 Craft (Trapmaking), 17 Craft (Alchemy), 8 Craft (Poisonmaking), 13 Disable device, 13 Search, 17 Sense Motive, 21 Spot, 21 Listen, 21 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock Favoured in House (Kundarak) Mobile Defense, Trap Sense +2
    19th Dwarven Defender 9 +16/11/6/1 +11 +11 +10 7 Handle Animal, 22 Craft (Trapmaking), 18 Craft (Alchemy), 8 Craft (Poisonmaking), 13 Disable device, 13 Search, 18 Sense Motive, 22 Spot, 22 Listen, 22 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock Defensive Stance 5/Day
    20th Dwarven Defender 10 +17/12/7/2 +12 +11 +10 7 Handle Animal, 23 Craft (Trapmaking), 23 Craft (Alchemy), 8 Craft (Poisonmaking), 8 Craft (Poisonmaking), 13 Disable device, 13 Search, 18 Sense Motive, 22 Spot, 22 Listen, 23 Knowledge (Local), 10 Knowledge (Nature), 5 Open Lock AC Bonus (+4), Damage Reduction 6/-

    Spoiler: Artificer Infusion Progression
    Infusions per Day
    Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
    1st - - - - - -
    2nd - - - - - -
    3rd - - - - - -
    4th - - - - - -
    5th - 2 - - - -

    Spoiler: Trapsmith Spellcasting Progression
    Spells per Day
    Level 1st 2nd 3rd
    1st - - -
    2nd - - -
    3rd - - -
    4th - - -
    5th - - -
    6th 1 - -
    7th 2 - -
    8th 2 1 -
    9th 3 2 -
    10th 3 2 1

    Spells Known
    Level 1st 2nd 3rd
    1st - - -
    2nd - - -
    3rd - - -
    4th - - -
    5th - - -
    6th 2 - -
    7th 3 - -
    8th 3 2 -
    9th 4 3 -
    10th 4 3 2

    Spells Known
    1st Level: Haste, Arcane Sight, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Dispel Magic
    2nd Level: Stoneskin, Stone Shape, Dimension Door
    3rd Level: Fabricate, Wall of Stone

    Spoiler: Level Breakdown
    Level 5: Ranger 4/Artificer 1
    Spoiler: Dishonorable Bastard
    "How dare you insult my work! This is prized dwarven architecture, built by a probationary member of the Golden Door! It's perfectly safe!"
    "You just watch yourself, mister. A dwarf never forgets a slight."

    Bolivar is a vault guardian, paid to sit around at a door all day without letting anyone unauthorised get through. To aid him in this mission, he takes extensive ranks in Listen, Spot and Sense Motive to find and interrogate would-be visitors. Those who refuse to leave the premesis after lacking identification or performing an action on Bolivar's personal List Of Bad Ideas gets smacked around by a +4 BAB, urgosh-wielding dwarf with a bad temper.

    Among some of his talents are those of creation, whether through infusions or by use of the Craft skill. He has a habit of setting up long stretches of Razor Wire (+10 attack, 2d6 damage) throughout the hallways leading to his assigned vaults. If he feels like it's worth the risk, he'll lace the wires with Drow Poison and smear the vault door with Carrion Crawler Brain Juice. You know, just in case he has to leave the door and kick some unconscious scmuck off the tripwires. To aid in his devious trapping, he'll obviously pick up Masterwork Craft (Trapmaking) and (Alchemy) tools to squeeze a little bit extra out of his effort and gold. As for his infusions, they give him some pleasant bonuses to AC, attacks and skills.

    He also gains an Urban Companion, a kinda-sorta familiar. He chooses a bat named Aureon, named after the Eberron god of knowledge and craftsmanship, and sticks Aureon in the vault during shifts. If anybody gets in, such as through teleportation magic or just shoddy vault craftsmanship, Aureon can screech and alert Bolivar on the other side of the door.

    Level 10: Ranger 4/Artificer 1/Trapsmith 5
    Spoiler: Magnificent Bastard
    "Careful with that, it's my most prized sample of Aboleth Mucus. Expect to suffocate unless you hold your breath. I can't tell you how I got it, though. That'd be a trade secret."
    "Now, don't tell the old man I asked, but are his books really worth keeping in here? We have a library, you know."

    Can you say booby traps? These reusable gadgets allow Bolivar to set up wide perimiters of deadly death, easily crushing those who would try to reach his vaults. Alarm traps let him know when someone's coming, poison-laden bolt traps let him set up perimiters to ward off weaker foes, and trip rope traps can be used to hinder movement. These are much cheaper than his original traps, and are largely reusable. Picking up a Guardian Lantern is advisable, on the off-chance that some invisible jerk trips an alarm but won't show up to fight.

    His most dangerous tools are the drop traps, which let him apply three doses of any alchemical substance to any poor sods who get too close to the vault. Since these alchemical attacks need to hit a touch AC and Bolivar can easily reach an unbuffed crafting check of +27 (Halved to 13), showering would-be thieves with substances like Drow Poison (coated on a 1d6-damage boulder), Aboleth Mucus and Venomous Fire becomes a simple matter. He's careful to wear a Breathing Hood or Breathing Mask, of course; he's not exactly immune to poison himself, after all.

    As a vault guard, Bolivar has all the time in the world to set up these devices. He can layer his traps as thickly as he wants without any real fear of tripping them himself, and can simply pack them all up when his assignment is complete. Also, because trapsmith is just that good a class, he gets to cast spells like stone shape, wall of stone and fabricate; with some downtime, the space around him (and its newly-shaped pits) becomes another tool in Bolivar's arsenal. Even if they do manage to reach him, he has a competent to-hit and his Knowledge Devotion should prove useful against most thieves. Outsiders and similar beings have better things to do than breaching dwarven vaults - most of the time, anyway.

    Level 15 (Sweet Spot): Ranger 4/Artificer 1/Trapsmith 5/Dwarven Defender 5
    Spoiler: Resilient Bastard
    "No, no - I really think this Defender stuff could work! Trust me! Best. Vault guard. Ever."
    "Now, all ya gotta do is get me a copy of that Defender codex.."

    Bolivar has one job, and one job only: defend this spot. Dwarven Defender fulfils this purpose rather well.

    Those who make it through his traps, in one piece or otherwise, will face the wrath of a rather grumpy Bolivar. With Defensive Stance and a suit of Mithral Interlocking Scale, guarding any space becomes a surprisingly easy task. For every round they fail to hit him, Bolivar will be applying poisons and attacking back; for every hit and for every failed fortitude save, the battle between him and an enemy becomes one of attrition. If he can add the Virulent, Toxic and Assassination enchantments to his Urgosh, massively improving the save DCs for his weapons in the process, then that's even better.

    While the easy solution to bypassing Bolivar would be to teleport into the vault, more trouble lies inside. Thanks to some creative use of Stone Shape, Bolivar keeps his Giant Banded Lizard, nicknamed Scrappy, in the vaults that he's assigned to. At level 15, Scrappy has 19 hit dice, is Gargantuam size and has about +18 to-hit, at which point he grapples the target and injects some DC 21 strength poison into their unworthy veins. If nothing else, Scrappy will give Bolivar the time to enter the vault himself and fight off the intruder. During his downtime, he might even be able to harvest Scrappy's venom through use of the "Push and animal" use of Handle Animal; there is nothing in the Giant Banded Lizard's description which prohibits this, and free poison is quite handy. Alternatively, by DM fiat, the poison extraction rules found in Drow of the Underdark could be extended to animals as well.

    Since Scrappy now occupies the vault, Bolivar's bat familiar Aureon can be put on patrol around the perimeter. As long as he doesn't touch any trapped surfaces, traveling to and from Bolivar should be a relatively riskless task. As for Bolivar's traps and Craft (Trapmaking)..
    • +18 from Craft (Trapmaking) Ranks
    • +5 Bonus from Intelligence (+8 with the customary Headband of Intelligence +6)
    • +2 Circumstance Bonus from using Masterwork Artisan's Tools
    • +2 Racial Bonus from using stone and metal components.

    On an average roll of 10, Bolivar can create a trap with a Craft (Trapmaking) check of 37. His Alarm Traps require a DC 37 Reflex save to avoid tripping. His Bolt Traps fire three times, for 1d20+19 each. His Trip Rope Traps perform trip attempts at 1d20+37. Most importantly, his Drop Traps perform three touch attacks at 1d20+19 each. Against most targets, the only way they're going to miss is with a fumble.

    Level 20: Ranger 4/Artificer 1/Trapsmith 5/Dwarven Defender 10
    Spoiler: 100-Proof Bastard
    "How many was that, Scrappy? Fifty worthless scumbags tried to put me out of a job?"
    "Nah, that can't be right. I only remember fending off about fifteen of them. Have you been getting visitors again?"

    Bolivar's build rounds out here, getting a bit more meat to his Craft and Knowledge (Local) checks while reaching +17 BAB for 4 attacks a round. Alternatively he'll continue dropping alchemical items and poisons on the unsuspecting heads of thieves, brutally murdering them before they even reach them. Korunda Gate is not a nice place, and it's totally not Bolivar's fault that you got sprayed with three doses of Ulathasss Smoke and had to be carried off the premesis.

    Dwarven Defender continues to provide. Damage Reduction helps him to absorb the few attacks which banage to land, while Improved Uncanny Dodge adds insult to injury for those foolhardy rogues who think they can take him on. Mobile Defense is a neat little trick.

    Although the favors originally defined by Favoured In House are vague, Dragonmarked provides some House Kundarak-specific examples. These include loans, followers and - most importantly - access to characters who possess a Mark of Warding. Spells like Mordenkanien's Faithful Hound provide an extra alert and layer of defense, while a Glyph of Warding or its Greater counterpart can be used to summon guardians or apply debuffs.

    Spoiler: Bolivar of Kundarak
    How does Bolivar operate in a group?
    Granted, a lot of Bolivar's tricks are more suited for time spent on the defensive. His forte is in preparing traps and guarding a single location, whether that be his campsite or the vaults he's regularly assigned to. He may seem like a horrible choice for an adventuring companion.

    To the contrary; in an adventuring party, his strength only grows. Whether in a city, a dungeon or in the wilderness, his skills as a trapfinder and damage sponge remain. He has Trapfinding, he has Disable Trap and he has Trap Sense +5. Against traps, he has DR 11/- and SR 20. Master Disarmer gives him a +5 bonus to his search, disable device and open lock checks, Unweave lets him dispel magical traps, and Quick Fingers lets him disarm such dangers far faster than a regular rogue. Abilities like Dance Through Danger and Avoid Disaster give him further chances to simply ignore traps.

    He's no slouch in combat, either. While a character with damage reduction, reasonable hit points and high AC is likely to just get ignored in combat, that's not a terrible thing for Bolivar. Arguably, it's exactly what he wants to happen. If the DM plays enemies intelligently rather than having them target the tank out of pity, Bolivar can still march along and attempt to poison those who attack his comrades. Scrappy can serve a similar purpose, what with being a gargantuan-sized grappler himself. Alternatively, Bolivar has spells like Fabricate, Wall of Stone and Stone Shape which let him modify the battlefield to his advantage; he can create hard terrain by shaping smooth stone into jagged rocks or mud, or he could cut off the paths to his squishier teammates entirely.

    Of course, Bolivar has better options for combat.

    With the exception of an Advanced Bolt Trap, Bolivar's booby traps require little more a single full-round action to create. They don't provoke attacks of opportunity, and there doesn't seem to be anything which prevents them from being deployed in an occupied space. Advanced Trip Rope Traps are good for two uses, occupy a 20ft line and trip using his full Craft (Trapmaking) check; Bolivar is quite capable of cornering enemies and slowing them to a crawl, and doesn't even need to move from his spot to do so. Bolt Traps and Advanced Drop Traps can be used even against enemies who are immune to poison, whether for simply dealing damage (a poor choice) or showering alchemical items onto enemies (which are a mite harder to become resistant to, and which include the aforementioned Aboleth Mucus).

    Spoiler: Resources
    Player's Handbook: Dwarf, Ranger, Masterwork (Artisan's) Tools, Two-Weapon Fighting, Dodge, Endurance, Weapon Finesse, Scribe Scroll, Toughness.
    Dungeon Master's Guide: Dwarven Defender, Razor Wire Trap, Drow Poison, Carrion Crawler Brain Juice, Mithral Armour.
    Eberron Campaign Setting: Artificer, Education, Favoured In House.
    Dungeonscape: Trapsmith, Trap Expert (Ranger ACF).
    Drow of the Underdark: Master of Poisons, Breathing Hood, Toxic Weapon, Virulent Weapon, Extracting Poison Rules.
    Cityscape Web Enhancement 1: Rival Organisation (Ranger ACF), Skilled City-Dweller (Ranger ACF), Urban Companion (Ranger ACF).
    Cityscape Web Enhancement 3: Assassination Weapon, Guardian's Lantern.
    Random Encounters: Wild Cohort.
    Savage Species: Abloeth Mucus, Breathing Mask.
    Complete Champion: Champion of the Wild (Ranger ACF), Knowledge Devotion.
    Dragonmarked: Favoured In House (Expanded Options for Kundarak).
    Sandstorm: Giant Banded Lizard.