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    Titan in the Playground
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    Feb 2009

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXI

    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    Since you brought it up I would kind of have a problem with that for that reason.
    That's a darn shame, because I've got some piping hot judgments to deliver! I tried to go a little bit easier on people specifically because I didn't post criteria ahead of time, but either way, here you go, four sets of scores.

    Aludra Giantbane
    Originality: 3.5 Nice job being the only chef without levels in Rogue. I wasn't going to penalize for having levels in Rogue (there are only so many sources of Trap Sense, after all), but I certainly don't mind rewarding you for not having it. (+0.25) In fact, I'm impressed that you don't have any non-SI levels in common with anyone else. I'm skeptical how well some of those levels are actually going to serve you, but the fact remains that you took a different path than your comrades, so that's nice to see. (+0.25)

    Power: 1.5 Here's that sentence I hate to say and every chef hates to hear: It's very nice, but what does it do? I don't see what role this character plays in the party. You max out Hide, but you have no Move Silently (and no Darkstalker, HiPS, or on-demand concealment beyond a sharply use-limited Invisibility, for that matter), so I can't tell if you're trying to be stealthy or not. You have two pets, but I don't know what they are or what use you're hoping to get out of them, and since they don't scale at all, they're really weak, no matter which ones you choose. You're allegedly a trapfinder, but you don't have a single rank in Search, so you need to rely on someone else to actually find the traps before you disable them. (Is that what the pets are for? You have them walk in front and trigger the traps, and then you disable the traps around the corpses of your useless dead pets?) You have a few archery-related feats (good on you for bothering to get Precise Shot, even if you wait to get it until well after the damage from an unaugmented arrow stops mattering), but with no tricks or bonus damage, you're not exactly that useful with your bow. The Mark of Warding line is thematically appropriate, but you didn't tell me anything about how you were planning on using it. I guess you half-mention that “alot [sic] of the Si's class features [. . .] gain extra uses if you have it,” but you don't tell me why I should care about that, or why it's beneficial to your character to burn feats on using the SI's features more often. You say that your sweet spot is around ECL 14-16, but I fail to see what makes those levels stand out, or why you're actually worth your share of the EXP budget around then.

    I guess you're decent at tracking things (though you don't have anything that makes you better at it than any other Ranger in the game—you have no Scent or any other abilities that give you a bonus to it, and a pure-class Ranger would eventually get the ability to track a lot faster than you can), but I wouldn't say that you're good enough at it to actually make that your primary role in the party. I guess you can use Handle Animal and raise pets that are stronger than the animal companions you get from your classes, though you didn't actually tell me that you'd do anything like that, so it's not really a mark in your favor. If I knew what your theme actually was, I'd say that maxing K: Dungeoneering and K: Architecture & Engineering would be thematically appropriate, but I don't see a whole ton of use coming out of them, based on the tiny little explanation you gave me.

    All told, this build is a mess. I don't see why you took anything that you took. I really feel like any given party would be stronger without you (in other words, I'd rather have a three-person party fighting challenges geared for a three-person party than add you to the party and fight challenges geared to a four-person party). (–1.5)

    Elegance: 1.75 The fact that you took Midnight Dodge instead of Dodge seems weird to me. For one, you don't qualify for it (it takes 13 CON), and for your character, it's 100% equivalent to Dodge. Why go out of your way to get a point of essentia when you have no essentia receptacles? Sure, the common wisdom is that “Midnight Dodge is strictly superior to Dodge,” but that really only applies if you have somewhere to put the essentia. You're lucky that I'm not the kind of judge who likes to penalize for having lots of sources used, because you just brought in a new book for literally no reason. I mean, you would lose literally nothing by swapping Midnight Dodge for regular Dodge, but the fact remains, you took a feat for which you do not qualify. That seems to warrant a penalty. A small one, since it's easily fixed, but it's still really not elegant to go out of your way to bring in a new book to take an alternate feat for which you don't qualify (and which gives you literally no benefit over the normal alternative) instead of just taking Dodge. (–0.25)

    Anyway, you repeatedly say that this class or that class “adds flavor” to the build, but you don't bother to explain what you mean by that at all. What flavor does it add to have a non-scaling and unspecified pet following you around? With no explanation, what flavor am I supposed to infer from Deepwarden? Your backstory is no help, since very little in it seems to actually correspond to anything in your build itself. I don't understand why you'd spend feats and levels on Beastmaster when you don't even pick a pet (yes, I read your weirdly hostile disclaimer about why you didn't pick a pet, but the fact remains, what “flavor” can you have from a pet you didn't even identify?)—it's not at all clear how that makes you better at anything, either in fluff or in crunch. The only thing Deepwarden does for you is to let you qualify for Silver Key from an unusual source (you have higher DEX than CON, so Stone Warden doesn't help you at all, and while Animal Messenger is cute, you didn't convince me of why it's the best way to spend your precious levels), though I guess Track does exist. I appreciate wanting to do something a little different than just getting your trap aptitude from Rogue and your Tracking from Ranger, but I don't really see why your character is actually stronger or better for it. (Your BAB is higher than a multiclass Rogue/Ranger, true, but you didn't mention that at all, and I'm not sure how much you even care about actually attacking!) I see you jumping through a lot of hoops, but I don't see you actually coming out ahead for doing so. (–0.25)

    You overspent your skill points at levels 6 (2 points over), 7 (2 points over), 8 (4 points over), 9 (4 points over), 10 (3 points over), 11 (2 points over), 12 (2 points over), 13 (4 points over), 14 (4 points over), 15 (2 points over), 16 (2 points over), 17 (2 points over), 18 (2 points over), 19 (2 points over), and 20 (2 points over). That's 39 points overspent, and that's not okay. In addition, your levels in Open Lock are flatly illegal: Open Lock is not a class skill for Rangers (even with Education and Trap Expert), so your ranks in Open Lock need to be lower than they are until you hit Silver Key (though luckily for you, you've got enough levels before you enter Silver Key that you'd still be legal to enter it if we just adjust your full ranks to be half ranks). And of course, you don't have enough skill points once you DO hit Silver Key to get Open Lock up to the level you claim it's at, so that's not cool. All of that is just bad news. (–0.75)

    I'm not happy about the fact that you have no source list. Normally I'd take off an entire point for that. However, since I didn't post any criteria before the reveal, I'll let it slide this time. Still, even if you don't get any judges explicitly telling you to do that ahead of time, it's really just a good idea to include a source list. (0, but with a stern glare)

    I don't see any elegant ways of taking care of prereqs, and I don't see any elegant ways of getting double duty out of things. Silver Key doesn't make any sense for you to take (why would a character with no ranks in Search enter a class based around searching for traps?), so I don't think the build holds together cohesively. I don't see anything here that makes me want to give you Elegance points.

    Use of Secret Ingredient: 1.25 I repeat, you have no ranks in Search. You cannot find traps. Why the hell are you a Silver Key? You list out the SI's features, but you don't tell me why they're good, how the character uses them, why they benefit you, or what you can do with them that your fellow chefs cannot or do not. You don't even tell me what's interesting about Crafty Hands, and that's such a cool and easily used ability that I've seen people dip into Silver Key specifically for it! You do hit the capstone, but I don't see what you would bother to do in a Magnificent Mansion once you got in. Just about the only thing that can be said in your favor is that you do max out the prereq skills, but I don't see what use you actually get out of them. For that reason, and because you did take all 10 levels, I won't give you a rock-bottom score, but I don't really see how you earned any points in UoSI. (–1.75)

    Final Thoughts: This build was really hard to read—with your lackadaisical capitalization and choppy sentence structure and paragraph structure, your write-up reads more like some notes you drowsily scribbled on a napkin before falling asleep than like something you're actually presenting for judging. I have no idea what your character is trying to do, and your write-up did not help. I just don't get what you're about.

    Total Score: 8.0

    Originality: 3.0 I'm torn. Having two changelings doesn't bother me—you're basically limited to dwarves and changelings (and Stoneblessed, but then you'd have to argue that a Stoneblessed pseudo-dwarf can still be a “member of House Kundarak,” which isn't necessarily easy) to meet the SI's prereqs, so that's not a problem. Having two characters with the Dark template doesn't bother me—the SI is obviously about sneaking around, and that's the easiest way to get HiPS (even if it's not perfect HiPS), so why not. Having two Trapsmiths doesn't bother me—I've actually played in a real game with a character who had levels in both Silver Key and Trapsmith, so to me it just makes a ton of sense that you'd stick those two classes together. That said, don't you think it's a little noteworthy to have two Dark changeling Trapsmiths out of just four entries? I'm not accusing you of copying one another, but the fact that all of those things fall on the same two characters really makes me not want to hand out too many Originality points. I recognize that the SI doesn't give you a whole ton of different options as far as what the character can look like, so I'm not going to hand out any penalties, but neither am I seeing anything I really didn't expect, so we'll just call it a wash.

    Power: 3.25 Not having Darkstalker is really kind of a bummer for you. You spend a lot of effort being stealthy, so wouldn't it make sense to make sure that you can actually be stealthy without one of the many dirt-common anti-stealth senses getting in your way? Yeah, it's dumb that Darkstalker is such a feat tax, but that's the reality of the game. (–0.5)

    Feign Death is risky for you. On the one hand, I understand the appeal of being able to basically “nope out” of combat that you can't otherwise avoid. On the other hand, you're allegedly supposed to be dealing with traps, right? Lots of traps trigger Reflex saves, so it's really pretty nice to have Evasion for that sort of thing. Also, just because most enemies won't kill someone they think is dead doesn't mean they won't loot someone they think is dead, so if you're planning on playing dead whenever someone hits you with a sword, you had better be damn sure that your party can take out whatever's threatening you before they take all your shiny stuff. So I'm not 100% sold on Feign Death being the best option for you. Since I can see where you're coming from, though, I guess we'll call it even. (0)

    That table of sabotage effects from City of Stormreach is pretty much your bread and butter, huh? It's a very good find, by the way. The Rogue Quick Fingers ACF does not, in fact, make it faster (Quick Fingers very clearly states “when you use Disable Device to disarm a trap . . .”), but the Trapsmith Quick Fingers feature does seem to work, so it's still handy. That's where a lot of your utility comes from, as I read it, but definitely good job on finding a mechanical list of sabotage effects instead of relying on the GM letting you ad-hoc things. As I said in Originality, I've played in a real game with a character with Silver Key and Trapsmith, and he had a lot of fun with ad-hoc Disable Device checks, like Disabling someone's belt and making their pants fall down (from across the room—thanks, Crafty Hands!). Since I've seen it in a real game, I would have been amenable to using it as part of your strategy, but the fact that you found RAW sabotage effects is definitely a mark in your favor. (+0.75) I do wish that you had ways of dealing with enemies who don't necessarily sleep, use manufactured weapons, or wear armor, but it's not like Silver Key gives you a ton of options.

    Trapsmith is a great class, and it's really the core of your power, as I'm reading you. When you can sneak in ahead of time and sabotage things, you've got a pretty decent setup between your booby traps and your sabotages. You're not exactly a damage monster or a reality-warping caster (though you do have a few fun spells from the Trapsmith list), but you've got enough tools in your box to solve a few problems (or create them, as the case may be). (+0.25) The reason I'm not giving you a higher bonus for that is because you don't seem to have anything to fall back on if your Plan A goes awry. If you get spotted (which is fairly likely without Darkstalker), or if something prevents you from laying all your traps and your sabotages, or basically if anything goes wrong, I don't see anything you can do to really contribute until you're back in control of the situation.

    You yourself admit that you don't really bring that much to the table in the late game. Like you said, Silver Key doesn't really make your main trick better, and you don't wring much use out of what it does give you. Your late-game feats don't seem to be super helpful. Your traps are already dirt-cheap and pretty fast to create, so I don't see why Extraordinary Trapsmith is great for you (you might be able to fast-talk a GM into accepting that reducing a full-round creation time by 25% makes it a standard action, but I wouldn't bank on it). I guess wands aren't bad to have (especially with the Trapsmith list letting you put spells in them that really shouldn't be in wands), but you didn't really sell me on how Craft Wand is the best use of your resources or on how it changes your power level. Trickery Devotion doesn't seem great for you—sure, your double can also make traps, but if you've got the time to set up traps in the first place, you probably have the time to do it without getting a magical double involved. I don't have an immediate choice for what you could have replaced all of those feats with (beyond Darkstalker, at least), but I'm not really seeing a ton of benefit out of your last few feats. Combined with the fact that your late-game Silver Key levels aren't really helpful and the fact that you aren't really very powerful in the early game (it basically takes you until you hit Trapsmith to really contribute to things, especially with that LA cutting into your HD and your basic numbers early on), it looks like you've got a relatively narrow band of levels where you can really pull your weight. (–0.25)

    Elegance: 1.0 I have some very bad news. You don't qualify for Trapsmith. The Changeling Rogue Substitution Level trades away Trapfinding, and you don't get Trapfinding from anything else before you take Trapsmith. Since you don't qualify for Trapsmith, you never get Trap Sense +1. Since you never get Trap Sense +1, you don't qualify for Silver Key. So 15 levels of your build are technically illegal. That's . . . that's a pretty big number of illegal levels. I mean, I guess you could lose some of your ACFs and just pick up Trapfinding and Trap Sense the normal way, but the fact remains that you didn't. It's not my job to figure out how your build could be changed to be made legal; it's your job to make it legal by the time it gets to me. So we have a pretty big problem here. Since it would be theoretically possible to fix this by nixing ACFs, I'll give you a 1 instead of a 0, but I really can't justify giving a build with 15 illegal levels any higher than a 1. (–2.0)

    You did underspend your skill points at a couple levels, but I'm not going to complain too much about that. You did overspend at levels 10 through 13, though. (You spent 12 points instead of the 11 you'd get from 6 base + 5 INT—remember that Hide/MS are cross-class for Trapsmith.) Normally I'd give you a penalty in Elegance for that, but your Elegance is a special case. I guess I'll just leave it alone here. Still, it doesn't make me happy.

    Use of Secret Ingredient: 2.5 It's a darn shame you don't actually finish the Secret Ingredient, since that capstone is really cool. What? You say you did finish it? No. You finished it at ECL 21, not ECL 20. I assume that LA buyoff is not in play, so since you took an LA +1 race, you don't get your 20th level. Yeah, LA sucks. Your fellow chef Ina managed to take the same template and still finish the SI on time, so the fact that you didn't manage to do that doesn't look good for you. It's just one level (even if it is the really cool capstone), and you can get around it by invoking variant rules, so I won't give you a massive penalty, but I'm still going to give you a penalty for that. (–0.25)

    As far as this character is concerned, Silver Key basically consists of Crafty Hands, and that's about it. The fact that you brought in that table from City of Stormreach means that you can use Crafty Hands better than most of your fellow chefs, though, so I can give you some credit for that. (+0.25)

    Beyond that, though, you admitted that you didn't really do much with your Silver Key levels. It's true that it's hard to really get a ton of benefit out of anything besides Crafty Hands, but I'm not convinced you really tried to use anything else. You take a Least Mark of Warding (which does require some real headaches as to whether that should be allowed, though I'm not going to focus on that—that would have been discussed under Elegance, but your Elegance is special), but you don't tell me how you do anything with it. You barely even mention anything between Crafty Hands/Invisibility and Master of Doors. Your Power might have risen a little bit from trying to focus your abilities on things other than specifically “traps in a dungeon,” but since “traps in a dungeon” is what the SI pretty much entirely focuses upon, I don't feel like you needed more than 2 or 3 levels of Silver Key. (–0.5)

    Final Thoughts: I love your concept (that table from City of Stormreach is pure gold), but you outsmarted yourself with your ACFs. You tried to get fancy by getting Trapfinding and Trap Sense from unusual places, but you forgot to make sure that everything lined up to be legal from the ground up. If you were actually legal, this would have been a pretty interesting build, but I can't reward a build with 15 illegal levels.

    Total Score: 9.75

    Originality: 3.0 Kindly scroll up to Jinx and read what I wrote for Jinx's Originality, since I have basically the same thing to say about you. Long story short, I'm not going to penalize you for being so similar, but I'm not seeing anything that I really didn't expect, so we'll just call it even.

    Power: 3.25 Spymaster isn't a bad choice. You do manage to actually get some use out of Skill Focus (Bluff), given that your entire life is a lie. I'm totally okay with Racial Emulation letting you qualify for Silver Key, and Persona Immersion is a good choice for an always-disguised changeling. What I don't really understand is why you're going to such lengths to pretend to be one specific dwarf instead of just, you know, being a dwarf. You kind of allude to the idea in your backstory, but your write-up doesn't give me any indication of you actually taking more than just the one identity. There's always some benefit to taking the Changeling Rogue Substitution Level for Social Intuition (it's one of the strongest single levels in the game, for some characters), but you seem to want to avoid combat by running and hiding rather than by talking your way out of trouble, so I'm not sure that the whole big setup makes all that much sense. I guess there's some thematic joy to be had in playing a character whose whole life is a carefully constructed ruse, but as far as Power is concerned, you haven't really sold me on why it's better to be a changeling pretending to be a dwarf than it is to be a dwarf.

    You're pretty good at taking care of traps. You keep your relevant skills (nearly) maxed, you get some extra bonuses from Trapsmith, and Trap Sensitivity/Trap Engineer are nice touches. Being a trapmonkey isn't always useful, but it's what the SI is best at, and you perform well in that role. (+0.25)

    Trapsmith is a nice touch. It's not in any way a surprising touch (as I said in Jinx's Originality, I've seen Trapsmith and Silver Key used together in an actual game, so to me it just seems perfectly natural that they'd end up on the same character), but this is Power, not Originality, and it's a useful class. Your strategy write-up doesn't really mention actually making booby traps, but you've got maxed Craft (Trapmaking), so that says to me that you like having the ability to make traps in your toolbox. I wish you told me a little more about what you were actually going to do with those traps, so I can't give you a huge bonus for it, but you've got enough stealth that I wouldn't be shocked to see you solving some problems with some cleverly-laid snares. (+0.25)

    It takes quite a few levels before you can really contribute much to a party. Your numbers (HP/BAB/saves/skill points, though I do recognize that you get a nice boost to Hide/MS) are down because of your LA, so that slows you down, and it takes until level 7 (ECL 8) before you actually can find traps that no one else can find, since you trade away Trapfinding and don't get a replacement until you get Wardsense. Until then, you can run and hide with your Dark template, and you've got above-average social skills, but I don't know if it's fair to say that you can really pull your weight in a party. I don't get a strong NPC feeling from your write-up, so I do feel like you're trying to be treated as a PC, but if I were a level 6 party leader in a tavern assembling a group, I'd probably take a generic Rogue over you, even if they didn't have HiPS and were a little bit less silver-tongued. Even after you get Wardsense, it still takes a while before you're so much better at traps than everyone else that you'd be a good party choice based on that alone (again, compared to a generic Rogue). I know that a lot of SIs just naturally lend themselves to slow starts, but I feel like your start is slower than average. This is at least partially because you're explicitly trying to make a non-combat character, but the fact remains that there are a pretty big number of levels where you just aren't that useful. (–0.25)

    Elegance: 1.75 You do not technically qualify for Trapsmith. The Changeling Rogue Substitution Level trades away Trapfinding, and while Wardsense is very similar to Trapfinding, it does not explicitly say that it counts as Trapfinding for any purpose. Without Trapfinding, you don't qualify for Trapsmith, which is very unfortunate. Since I don't see an easy way of fixing this (losing the Changeling Substitution Level would make your skill points weird, and you do seem to pretty heavily rely on Social Intuition, so I'm not comfortable saying we could simply drop it), I'm going to assess a penalty of one quarter of a point for every illegal level. (–0.75) Sadly, this also means that you don't qualify for Trap Sensitivity. (–0.25)

    You overspent your skill points at pretty much every level you took Silver Key. It looks like you thought that it offered 8 + INT skill points instead of 6 + INT. Since this character kind of lives and dies by their skills, that's a pretty big bonus that you didn't actually earn. (–0.5) You actually could have saved a few skill points before entering the SI, since the Changeling Rogue Substitution Level gives you a Knowledge skill of your choice as a class skill (letting you get those four ranks in K:A&E right off the bat), but that doesn't change the fact that you overspent a lot once you entered the SI.

    Expeditious Dodge is an interesting choice. Dark does give you a total of 40' for your move speed, so you are capable of triggering it, though I'm not sure if you're entirely likely to. Remember that it's very difficult to move your full speed when trying to hide, which you seem to be trying to do. Also, if you're planning on actually making booby-traps in combat, you're not going to be moving much. Still, it's not entirely useless to you. I'm not 100% convinced that it's actually better than Dodge (weird, right?), but it's good enough that it's certainly not worthy of a penalty.

    Trapsmith and Silver Key complement each other nicely. You overlap the prereqs as well as can be hoped, and the two classes really do seem to go well together. I didn't see anything there that blows me away, but I do recognize that they work well together. (+0.25)

    Use of Secret Ingredient: 2.75 Well, you do play to the SI's strengths. You're a trapmaster, and you do pretty well at that. (+0.25) Unfortunately, I don't see anything that sets you apart from every other Silver Key that's been presented to me. I fully recognize that most of the SI's abilities are reactive, so it's hard to talk about how you can use them better than anyone else can, but I don't see you doing much to stand out with them. You do, at least, fit the role the SI is intended to fit, so I'm not completely wondering “why did Ina need to take more than a couple levels of Silver Key?” but I still don't see much that sets you apart from everyone else. (–0.5) I respect you not wanting to get into the rules weeds of whether Racial Emulation would let you qualify for a dragonmark, but having one might have let you scrape a slightly higher score out of UoSI. (Not saying it would have been a great idea for the build as a whole—it probably wouldn't have done you that many favors overall—but it is conspicuously absent.)

    Final Thoughts: Be careful comparing yourself to Kole Naerrin. Kole's genius was not in simply making a non-combat character. Kole's genius was in admitting that the SI couldn't do anything, then using the SI to convince people that the SI could actually do something. Kole also had the ability to talk his way out of damn near any sort of sticky situation, which this character doesn't really have. (You do have good Bluff and Disguise, so that's not entirely out of the question, but you don't go quite as far as Kole did in that regard.) I'm not saying that the idea of focusing on out-of-combat abilities is necessarily a bad idea, but there was more to Kole than just making a non-combatant. In terms of what YOUR character can do, though? This is pretty much exactly what I expected out of this round. Good at getting past traps, good at using Trapsmith's abilities, and not that good at much else. That's pretty much what you'd expect out of Silver Key. You're a good trapmonkey, and your social abilities are mostly what I expect out of someone doing a social changeling, and that's about it. You're not bad at anything you actually try to do, but I'm not seeing anything I really didn't expect.

    Total Score: 10.75

    Barton d'Kundarak
    Originality: 3.25 Incarnate is a good choice for a skill-focused character. Even just a couple levels of it can add a lot of skill-based versatility to you. While it's not an uncommon trick to use Incarnate to boost a skillmonkey, I admit that I didn't see it coming for Silver Key, so that's nice. (+0.25) Rogue isn't surprising at all, but like I said to Jinx, I'm not going to penalize for taking one of the very few methods of entry into the SI. Beyond that, nothing's leaping out at me (using Midnight Dodge is absolutely obvious once you establish that you're using Incarnum, it's the exact opposite of surprising to take Mark of Warding feats, and nothing else stands out), but still, good job for surprising me with an Incarnate.

    Power: 3.0 For someone who's supposed to be working with traps, I don't see too many ranks in Search. You do have some, at least, which puts you above some other chefs this round, but it still seems like you really could have done better on that front. You might have a huge bonus to disarming traps, but what good does that do you if you can't find the traps before they blow up? Since that seems to be your primary goal, this seems like a pretty glaring omission. Sure, you do get a bonus from the SI, but you don't get that big a bonus that you can afford to basically ignore it for half the game. (I might have backed off on this if you told me that you were going to use the Truthseeker Goggles, but since you didn't tell me that you plan on using them, I'm not going to assume that you are.) (–0.5)

    You have the strongest pre-SI life of any of the chefs this round, which is nice to see. You are going to have some trouble actually landing any attacks (no Precise Shot means most of your ranged attacks will take a –4 after one round, if it even takes that long, and no Weapon Finesse means that you're using your 8 STR in melee), but once you hit Incarnate and have the Dissolving Spittle and/or the Lightning Gauntlets, you can at least make touch attacks. 2d6 Sneak Attack and 2d6 from Dissolving Spittle or Lightning Gauntlets won't stay relevant forever, but it does give you a stronger start than anyone else this round, so I can give you some credit there. (+0.25)

    Although it's the late game before you have access to more than a couple melds at once (or a couple essentia), the flexible nature of soulmelds gives you a little bit of a leg up on your other competitors when you need a skillset other than “trapmonkey.” The fact that it takes so long for you to get a lot of melds does mean I can't give you a huge bonus, but I appreciate that you can at least sort of spec out for something else if there aren't any traps to bust. (+0.25)

    You aren't bad at stealth. You've got decent ranks, you eventually have Darkstalker (though I'd really like to see that before level 15), and the Kruthik Claws are pretty darned effective. The fact that two other chefs have HiPS makes it look less good that you don't, but at least you get several uses per day of Invisibility from the SI (if you choose to burn your dragonmark abilities). However, I'm not sure what you're going to do once you're hidden. You have enough Listen to hear things reliably, but it doesn't look like you have enough Spot to really do stealthy scouting. You can remove traps, but that doesn't usually require much stealth (it's not impossible, but it's unusual). You don't really have enough Sneak Attack to be likely to want to break your hidden status to get a couple d6s of damage, so that doesn't seem like a goal. I guess you can use Sleight of Hand to rob people, especially once Master Pickpocket comes online? Other than that, I'm not 100% sure why you're spending the effort to hide. I do recognize that you're pretty good at it, but I don't really see what you're going to do once you're hidden. (0)

    Like pretty much everyone else, you do kind of suffer in the late game. I appreciate that you finish the SI early—I do feel like you're getting more incremental use out of Incarnate levels than out of Silver Key levels, so your final levels are a little stronger than the final levels of your fellow chefs. But you still don't bring a lot to the table late in the game, and that's unfortunate. I do like Master Pickpocket, but by level 18, I feel like that's a gimmick instead of a real power-boosting strategy. (0)

    Elegance: 2.75 Your first problem is that you don't qualify for the Secret Ingredient. Knowledge (Architecture and Engineering) is cross-class for Rogues, so you can't get 4 ranks in it at first level. You could make up the difference with cross-class ranks by the time you enter Silver Key, so I'll only take off a few points, but the fact remains, the character is not legal as presented. (–0.5)

    Anyway, I'm not at all sure why you took Open Lesser Chakra (Shoulders). Your writeup mentions that it exists, but you give me no indication what melds you'd put there or why that would benefit you. None of the Incarnate melds that can be bound to the Shoulders chakra stand out as being especially important for your character's style, and while the Kruthik Claws can be bound there, I don't see why acid resistance is important enough to warrant spending a feat on it. I'd much rather see Darkstalker moved down a few levels (it's not like it takes until level 15 for Scent/Blindsense/Blindsight/Tremorsense to become common, after all, so the sooner you take Darkstalker, the better), if nothing else. I'm not going to call it a completely wasted feat, but since you've given me no indication as to what good it actually does for you, I just don't see it as being very elegant. (–0.25)

    Using Midnight Dodge to gain a precious point of essentia while qualifying for Silver Key isn't exactly a difficult trick to pull off, but it's still exactly the kind of thing I like to see, so I can give you some credit for that. (+0.25)

    I like that you used your level 16 bonus ability point to let you qualify for Master Pickpocket. That last stat point usually goes to waste (if it doesn't, it's because you've been suffering through an odd stat total for the bulk of the game, which is a different kind of inelegant), but you put it to use right when it would be helpful to you. It's a small touch, but it did not go unnoticed. (+0.25)

    Use of Secret Ingredient: 2.75 You're the only chef who finished the SI before ECL 20, which is kind of surprising when you consider that it's a relatively easy SI to enter. Still, that does make you stand out a bit from the crowd, so good job on that front. (+0.25)

    Like everyone else, you didn't really tell me why you care about being in the SI. You do get a few levels of being able to enter any magical door you like, but I already gave you points for finishing earlier than everyone else, and that's basically the same thing here. I don't feel like you have a high enough Search score to really be called a full trapmonkey, but if you're not doing trapmonkey things, then why are you a Silver Key? As I said with your competitors, I understand that many of the SI's abilities are reactive (and therefore it's hard to explain how you're using them to extraordinary effect), but I'm not seeing much explanation of what makes you a better Silver Key than your fellow chefs. You're not a bad character, but you're also not doing anything that no one else is doing, so I feel like you probably would have been better off with more Rogue and/or more Incarnate than with Silver Key. (–0.5)

    Final Thoughts: You have a weird dislike for capital letters. What confuses me is that you didn't do away with them altogether. You have a few capital letters sprinkled in here and there. This makes me think that you simply don't care, rather than making me think that you're making some kind of weird purposeful statement. If I had posted criteria ahead of time, I would have assessed you a penalty for making the build hard to read. (It wasn't the hardest build I've ever read by a long shot, in no small part because you spell out your skill points relatively nicely, but still.) As far as the build itself went, it's a pretty standard Incarnate skillmonkey. Not a bad build overall, even if I didn't see anything in it that I've never seen before.

    Total Score: 11.75

    For what it's worth, I didn't read any other judge's rulings before doing my own, nor did I read any disputes. These scores are based on my assessment only, not on anyone else's.

    Anyway, kudos to everyone who entered. There wasn't a whole lot that this SI offered, so it was neat to see what you came up with.

    I must admit that I was surprised that we didn't see any Barbarian entries. I also think it's interesting that every single contestant had INT for their highest stat—not that weird when you think about it (this class lives and dies on its skills), but I didn't expect it ahead of time. I was hoping to see at least one Dungeon Delver (and maybe a Gatecrasher, though without looking at Gatecrasher I don't remember if its prereqs are prohibitively incompatible with Silver Key), but I can't say I was surprised to see two Trapsmiths. Still, I had fun judging. I hope you guys had fun cooking. Now I'm going to read everyone else's judgments. Hopefully I won't regret that.

    EDIT: Just realized I messed up my math on the last build. Should be accurate now.
    Last edited by Zaq; 2015-08-29 at 05:39 PM.
    In the Beginning Was the Word, and the Word Was Suck: A Guide to Truenamers

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Roc View Post
    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.
    My compiled Iron Chef stuff!

    ~ Gay all day, queer all year ~