May the odds be ever in your favour.
Originally Posted by Czar HailCzar Hail
Air Goblin, LN, Artificer 15/ Dungeon lord 5
Strength Dexterity Constitution Intelligence Wisdom Charisma Reason 10 13 12 17 10 14 32-point buy 8 17 10 17 10 14 Racial mods 8 17 10 18 10 14 4th 8 18 10 18 10 14 8th 8 18 10 19 10 14 12th 8 18 10 20 10 14 16th 8 18 10 21 10 14 20th
A small forewarning: While normally in IC we make it a point to grab the class as early as possible, this class is not really meant for such an endeavor. To me, this class is about what the player wishes to do when his character has retired. There is almost no change in tactics whether you become a dungeon lord at 5-10-15 or 20 and the tactics presented can be toned down or turned up based on the level you choose to grab dungeon lord. I will be presenting the following under the assumption that the character must live till level 15 and thus he will be playable as a normal character till then. Once he enters dungeon lord his tactics will change slightly, mostly because he no longer needs to fight. Additionally, as an artificer, it is bound to come up that his XP will be behind that of his party members, this has been shown to actually be a non-issue, also, there are a number of ways to alleviate the costs to Czar Hail which will be further discussed in the advanced tactics/cheese area.
*Skills were not a requisite for PrC, so I opted to just give a list of skills and their ranks at level 20. All feat prerequisites can easily be met, since hail focuses on int and has 2 bonus skill points/level
Level Class BAB Fort Ref Will Skills* Feats Features 1 Artificer [ECS] 0 0 0 2 - Apprentice (craftsman) [DMGII] Artificer knowledge, artisan bonus, disable trap, item creation, Scribe Scroll 2 Artificer 1 0 0 3 - - Brew Potion 3 Artificer 2 1 1 3 - Improved Aid [OA] Craft Wondrous Item 4 Artificer 3 1 1 4 - Fell Drain [LM] Craft homunculus, bonus feat 5 Artificer 3 1 1 4 - (Apprentice changes to mentor) [DMGII] Craft Magic Arms and Armor, retain essence 6 Artificer 4 2 2 5 - Leadership [PHB] Craft Wand 7 Artificer 5 2 2 5 - - Metamagic spell trigger 8 Artificer 6 2 2 6 - Bind elemental [ECS] Bonus feat 9 Artificer 6 3 3 6 - Twin spell [PGtF] Craft rod 10 Artificer 7 3 3 7 - - - 11 Artificer 8 3 3 7 - - Metamagic spell completion 12 Artificer 9 4 4 8 - Improved homunculus [MoE], Craft construct [MMIV] Craft staff, Bonus feat 13 Artificer 9 4 4 8 - - Skill mastery 14 Artificer 10 4 4 9 - - Forge ring 15 Artificer 11 5 5 9 - Great Captain [SW] - 16 Dungeon Lord [DS] 11 5 7 11 - - Dungeon mastery, horde lord +1 17 Dungeon Lord 12 5 8 12 - - Dungeon step 18 Dungeon Lord 13 6 8 12 - Extra followers [HB] Complete awareness, dungeon minions 19 Dungeon Lord 14 6 9 13 - - Animate objects 20 Dungeon Lord 14 6 9 13 - - Dungeon defender, horde lord +2, Leadership
Craft (sculpting) 10
Craft (pottery) 10
Craft (metalworking) 10
Craft (Trapmaking) 10
Craft (weaponsmithing) 10
Craft (Alchemy) 10
Decipher Script (CC) 5
Disable Device 24
Knowledge (arcana) 5
Knowledge (architecture and engineering) 5
Knowledge (the planes) 5
Knowledge (Geography) 24
Open Lock 24
Profession (Sailor) 7
Use Magic Device 24
He awoke suddenly. Realization swept through him as he found himself hanging from the ceiling by chains, his feet barely touching the floor. His arms strained with the effort of holding his body up. It was hard to think and his head felt stuffed with cotton. He was in a small room perhaps 5x5, the walls and ceiling were solid stone, there were no exits that he could see and panic began to swell in him, after years of adventuring he would die in a cell, hung from a ceiling like some common criminal. He could hear stone sliding on stone as a small cubby appeared to his left, about halfway up the wall. Inside the cubby was a small pack, a holy symbol, 2 potions and a dagger.
Suddenly and without warning the chains holding him released and he fell to the ground hard, his legs not ready to hold his weight.
From all around him he hears a loud gong and then “Welcome Heroes!” A loud roar erupts and the ground shakes with the voices of hundreds of people all cheering at once. After a few moments the crowd quiets and the voice continues. “You have been chosen to compete in the Hero Games, a great honor I assure you. Should you survive, you will be showered with gifts and allowed to live out your life as you see fit.” More cheering but the voice continues unhindered. “The rules are simple, you must complete the labyrinth before you, using only that which you find along the way. Welcome to the 74th annual Hero Games!” The ground shakes again with the countless voices cheering before the sound finally cuts out, and only a slight vibration can be felt.
Pulling himself to standing he approaches the cubby, the potions conveniently are labeled in common “healing”, the bag is empty but has enough string to be looped over his shoulder. Chugging the first potion, he places the second in the bag. Before him the wall slides away revealing a wilderness area and bright light. Wavering for a moment he hears the wall begin to slide back into place and rushes through the opening before his opportunity is lost.
Another loud gong erupts, startling him and at the same time drawing his attention to the sky. A pale goblin with hair the color of fresh snow appears to be floating in the air, an Illusion clearly as only the creatures upper body is visible and much larger than life.
It opens it mouth and speaks, “Welcome! Heroes, we welcome you. We salute your courage and your sacrifice, and we wish you Happy Hero Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.” The loud gong sounds again and he turns his attention back to the world around him. Four others stand around, their clothing as disheveled as his, their gear the same. He approaches the nearest one, his arm outstretched in greeting, “You look like a trustworthy soul, perhaps you would like to accompany me on this venture?”
An artificer through and through. Craft every item you need while trying not to eat too much into your xp. Pass around items to your friends and let everyone enjoy having you in the party. Your mentor is an 5th-10th level Wizard giving you any one knowledge skill and UMD as class skills, as well as 2 bonus skill points/level to spend on these skills ensuring that UMD will always be maxed. Additionally we are counted 2 levels higher for crafting purposes which means we are 2 levels ahead of the wizard for spells that we can “cast” and at 3rd level will be able to cast a fireball (not the best spell I know but often desired by blasters) while the wizard is waiting until 5th to do so. At 4th level we gain craft homunculus which sets our path for the rest of our career. The first that we craft is of course a dedicated wright, so that we can pump out much better items while maintaining a full adventuring day. Followed by an Arbalest for damage, and then lastly a packmate for clutch healing or if you’re the primary scout, grab an Expeditious Messenger. Depending on the game some of these may take more than 1 level to complete. At 5th level we have become a mentor ourselves while retaining the bonuses from our apprentice feat it was traded in for. This gives us our own apprentice to help us with our crafting needs. (see advanced tactics for possible exploit). Once you get retain essence, abuse the crap out of it by promising party members things later on. Make sure to use up that craft reserve since it resets every level. Spell storing infusion is probably the most useful and will be used even into epic, every non-living thing is an object and therefore can be a target of this ability, “in effect it becomes a wand with a single charge”.
In combat - At the early levels we grab a crossbow and sit back as much as possible in combat, we are mostly a utility class at these levels. As soon as we can get arbalesters we start abusing the action economy by having several shots/round, they’re expensive so we may have to choose between arbalester and the others. Potions and scrolls are cheap and you can easily replenish them. Infuse Bane against whatever your fighting and destroy.
Artificer still. Every bit of our gear is likely magical and at least the big items for our party members as well. We can have a veritable army of homunculi, mostly arbalesters for combat as we would hate to lose too many of our homunculi and suffer the feedback of their death. Bind elemental gives us several strong options for magic items and later we can begin constructing our airship, though for practical purposes, the price may be out of range for now. Twin spell, easily doubles the effectiveness of our spells/infusions. Our Homunculus, army now likely includes 1-2 Iron defenders to help keep the enemy away, and several Arb’s, and at least 1 of each other type of homunculus. Metamagic wand grips are your friend and should be used to help keep down the cost on wand charges. We’ve grabbed leadership which has earned us a large following (should be at or near 25 with cha boosters) but this mostly comes as a minor benefit for now since cohorts are being ignored. In theory at level 10 our apprentice could be level 5 and have an apprentice of his own giving us another helper for crafting and such. The Rod of Wands is our big item in these levels, letting us have as many as 6 spells ready at a time, 3 of which can all be used with the same action.
In combat - Let the meat shields stay in front, nicely buffed by you. This could include a BSF or your own homunculi. Fire wands from afar or pick up your old crossbow, possibly even take up the bow by making your very own bracers of archery. Touch spells are better for Hail since you do not have the ranged feats for firing into melee. Even better control the battlefield with several useful spells, like black tentacles, entangle, or fog spells. Your arbalesters should still be firing off every round as well giving you a large amount of damage/round. With homunculi often in the fray grab a few ways to heal yourself. A packmate should always be ready with a potion to heal you while chucking alchemical items from the space next to you. Furtive filchers should aim to snatch spell component pouches, leaving casters as little more than annoying commoners.
This will conclude our artificer levels at just the right time since nothing further can be gained as far as item creation is concerned. We are grabbing both improved homunculi and craft construct at level 12 giving us plenty to start working on and very soon we’ll have an insane amount of really nice constructs just waiting to do our bidding. A party at this point is almost redundant since you have your very own army walking the halls with you. Metamagic spell completion can easily get abusive especially if you are custom crafting staves. We also can now take 10 on UMD and spellcraft though by now you shouldn’t even fail on a 1. Most importantly we can now create items as a 17th level caster, meaning we have access to the most broken spells in the game, and there is no reason from here on out for you to ever fear death. Unlike a spellcaster you are not limited on the number of 9th level spells you can cast, so enjoy the unbelievable power that is the top tier class in the game.
In combat - Same as before but with better spells and Infusions. At level 15 its simple, 9th level spells=win. Since your homunculi have a possibility of dying try to keep the golems in the front lines instead. Otherwise follow the tactics that brought you here. See the Cheese section for some simple defense tactics that can break games.
Hail has retired. And in his retirement he chooses to start up the Hero Games. As a training exercise, punishment, and pure entertainment they are a huge success, especially among the lower races. Hail Uses his considerable wealth gained from a custom genesis plane filled with the most precious jewels and rare metals to fund the initial cost of his growing
empirebusiness. By the time the second annual games are announced he should have a slew of lost bets rolling his way. These levels Hail is completing his Dungeon and expanding it. He should have crafted several airships to make use of his Great Captain feat and extra followers.
In Dungeon - With Improved aid another, he is giving every ally on his ship +4 to hit or AC, he has several ships placed throughout the dungeon. Metamagic spell completion with twin spell for some faster buffing. Chain metamagic wand grips are amazing and can easily buff an entire army when combined with twin spell. You really should just be able to sit back and buff while the army fights. Additionally keep in mind that ALL items in the dungeon were put there by Hail. He can do everything the full-casters can do, and more. Hail has viewed their progress through the dungeon, and should have a strong indication of what they can do. Hail would actively have to try to lose once people have come to his dungeon. Even should the party actually be strong enough on their own to have a chance against Hail, he could whittle away their resources while they fight through the dungeon and then engage, when he is sure to destroy them.
Not in dungeon but fighting? Try to force the battles onto one of your many airships if possible, utilize golems with insane HD since its all gold dependent, Homunculi arbalesters should be able to give you 2-3 extra attacks per round ea. all easily enhanced with a simple casting of greater magic weapon (chain+twin), as well as any number of enhancements gained as you leveled. You should have enough contingency spells that you will never have to actually worry about getting attacked. Several spellblade loaded golems, as well as resetting magical traps should be ready to destroy characters. Hail likely has more maneuvers and stances than he knows what to do with, including the absolutely broken White Raven Tactics, combine this with timestop and combat should be null. A pair of greater stone golems are not out of reach load both with spell blades and a resetting trap with transmute mud to rock, means they should have a very hard time dieing. Lastly Hail is a stronger spellcaster (unlimited spells known+Unlimited spells/day) than anything in 3.5 except perhaps Pun-pun (though he could realistically start the process himself) anything that can be thrown at him he can easily do better.
Alleviating xp costs: 2 thought bottles are the easiest, combined with the artificers class abilities. See cheese for other more questionable methods.
Alleviating GP costs: There are several questionable ways to make gold a non-issue available starting at level 1 (wall of salt) but ultimately its all on what the DM will allow. The method used the crafting skill as leveled combined with adventuring. Hail chooses to use the arcane genesis spell on a resetting trap, then uses his constructs to toil away mining the precious jewels from his own land while he carves out the dungeons that will later be used in the games. Once the games are up and running no further mining would be necessary in all actuality, his clients love the blood sports and pay top dollar, while his followers spread the word throughout the land, and Hail charges an entrance fee for all those who just come to watch and not bet. Additionally Hail is smart enough to understand economics and diversifies his products amongst the many realms to keep income at the highest possible.
Apprentice/mentor feat: While it may be assumed that an apprentice would become a mentor in the same field there is nothing RAW that forces you to do so. With this in mind by having 8 ranks in both a craft skill and Know(architecture and engineering) we can gain an apprentice craftsman instead of an apprentice wizard. Ultimately this would be a downgrade from having a wizard, though realistically the craftsman better fits the character concept and few DM’s would argue with a downgrade. Since your apprentice feat is “kept” you would still hold your bonuses regardless of your mentorship. If the DM rules against this its actually still a good way to go since you get a +2 to your “mentor skills (UMD+ others)”
Earlier access to good items: This mostly comes in the form of boosting our caster level, which can be done any number of ways through stacking magic item bonuses, Ioun stone (+1), Beads of Karma can give +4 once/day, several spells also give +1/+2 including craft magic tattoo. Several potions can give cleric domains for 24hrs as well which comes with CL boosts and other goodies.
On using wands: Wand Chamber(350gp)+Least crystal of return(300gp) + MW Dagger(302gp) = Free action swap and cast, drop if needed for any number of wands for 952gp. Rod of many Wands is great for damage output, Though costly. An alternative is to combine Metamagic item infusion (twin spell) + Metamagic spell trigger (fell drain) + damaging wand of choice
Outfitting the army - money is a non-issue, time is a non-issue, xp is a non-issue, and making the DC is a non-issue, at the upper levels. This makes outfitting the army easy. While we COULD make everyone the best stuff this would not be much of a show for our viewers. Instead we outfit the arena with enough to ultimately win but put on a good show while doing it.
Magic items of noteSpoilerShow
Magic items of note for Hail: CHA and INT boosters are our primary concerns, as well as 2 Thought bottles to alleviate/eliminate xp costs. Metamagic wand grips, and several wands to taste. Ioun Stone to boost caster level, as well as a reliable way to cast create magic tattoo for the boosted CL when crafting. Items that grant maneuvers and stances. Items that boost craft skills.
Magic Items of note for minions: Spellblades combined with magical traps can mean free spells/rnd for all minions that can hold weapons. Packmates carry several bandages which can be used to stabilize dieing minions, before they run away using a secret tunnel (free action to open doors)
Magic items of note for followers: Followers are outfitted based on their location in the dungeon. Nothing is given to the followers that Hail cannot plan ahead for. Many one time use items are given due to the ease of ensuring that the party can’t use them effectively against Hail.
Magic items of note for dungeon: Magical self-resetting traps to taste. These are what makes the dungeon successful. From traps that buff, to traps that harm, to traps that simply keep the party from wrecking plans. Everything is based on gold and Hail literally has more than he can spend using even legal RAI means. While the party rests Hail can prep the dungeon ahead ensuring that he challenges them properly.
Utilizing the SI:SpoilerShow
Dungeon mastery: Hail’s Dungeons are littered with secret passages that let him stay close to the action if he desires, most especially when on his well disguised airships. He will Aid another for +4 to hit or AC for every ally on the ship, then use a secret exit to get away/move to a different location on the ship.
Horde Lord: Stacking with aid another Hail can easily give everyone +6 to hit before factoring in any number of spells and magical items.
Dungeon Step: 5/day before items and 11/day with items since Hail focuses on Int. This is enough to ensure he can get away from any situation even if his minions cannot, while also being able to move around the dungeon providing buffs before the party arrives.
Complete Awareness: Hail Utilizes this ability combined expeditious messengers strategically placed throughout the dungeon to ensure he has constant awareness of what is going on. He further Expands on this with the use of a custom magic item which lets him “share” his viewing with the audience. I could not find a specific spell that would let him do this so it is very much gonna be a DM call, but well within the bounds of a 9th level spell.
Dungeon minions: Uber chargers hurt, with difficult terrain strategically placed they can be almost completely nullified. Additionally as mentioned before secret passages are common in this dungeon and can be utilized by Hail and his minions.
Animate objects: Combined with golems, pretending to be statues the party will always be unsure what can attack them. additionally an item can be created to give more uses of this each day if necessary.
Dungeon Defender: Purely a buff, and a good one to use on all of his plethora of wands.
Leadership: Maxxed leadership score and double dipping with the extra followers. Additionally we have 1-5 apprentices depending on DM ruling, a mentor and an army of constructs/homunculi. Additionally Hail bypasses the "caused the death" clause by actively trying to keep his minions from dying by using packmates to stabilize.
The minions: Hail uses his followers in the dungeon as usual, but during the off times he can use some to assist with crafting and all of them are his eyes and ears searching for the next contenders.