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    Titan in the Playground
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    Feb 2009

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIII

    Post 2 of 3:

    Double Door:

    Originality: 3.5 Using Sorcerer as the source of casting isn't staggeringly original, but I definitely approve of using the Dragonblood Sorcerer substitution level to get Draconic Heritage to get Heal as a Sorcerer class skill. That was cool, and I didn't think of it ahead of time, so points there. [+0.25] Using Planar Sorcerer to get the K: Planes necessary to enter Fiend-Blooded isn't anything new, though I wasn't expecting to see a Domain Access Sorcerer, and I definitely wasn't expecting a lesser maeluth (dragonborn or otherwise), so I guess I can give a couple points for that. [+0.25] Other than that, you're pretty much a Sorcerer, so we'll leave off there.

    Power: 2.0 You've got a good pile of Sorcerer casting; there's basically no elegant way to get more Sorcerer casting and still finish all ten levels of the SI (kobolds and their Draconic Rites notwithstanding, and your Elegance score thanks you for not going down that road). You lose a fair bit of freedom as far as spells known goes, since many of your ACFs cost you spells known (or, in the case of Domain Access, restrict your freedom regarding spells known), but you're still very clearly a full caster, plus or minus an annoying half-casting SI.

    However, while you've got a lot of Sorcerer spells, I'm actually not sure how I feel about your spells known. The majority of them seem to be utility spells, which isn't necessarily bad, but it does leave me wondering exactly what your plan is in combat. (The breath weapon is nice, but with a 1d4 round recharge, it's not a reliable primary strategy in the absence of anything else—an average of 2.5 rounds between uses is a long time, considering that many D&D combats only last 3-5 rounds.) At low levels, Chill Touch and Power Word Pain are perfectly serviceable. However, you don't have much at 2nd or 3rd level that actually brings combat to a close faster (Blinding Color Surge is about the only one that affects an enemy, and that only affects one enemy for one round). Are you planning on doing a gishy thing with Bull's Strength, Claws of the Savage, Draconic Might, and (Greater) Magic Fang? That seems like it'll take a lot of actions in combat, since all of those have short durations (except GMF), and your base stats (12 STR, unremarkable BAB, no armor beyond Mage Armor, poor DEX) aren't that great as a backup. (Claws of the Savage has a middling duration, but it's still far from an all-day spell, especially since you can't Extend an SLA, and there's a lot of levels before it comes online.) You eventually get access to some more combat-oriented spells in the form of Burning Blood, Thalassemia, Wall of Stone/Iron, and eventually Flame Strike and Whirlwind of Teeth, but there's a good chunk of levels in the middle where none of your at-level spells seem to be geared around ending combat faster. None of the SI's abilities in that level range are going to be great for that, either, so I feel like there's a pretty good period of time where you actually aren't very good at combat. Kind of weird for a Sorcerer, but that's what I'm seeing based on your spells known. Sorcerers have great potential power, but I'm actually not seeing a spell list that's good at combat for a lot of your career, and since spells are pretty much the alpha and omega of what you're capable of (especially with the bulk of your feats devoted to SI-related prereqs), that's kind of a problem. You start pretty strong, and you eventually make up some of the ground you lost (though I'd never say you end up with game-smashing power), but there's kind of a donut hole in the middle that really stands out. Since I'm not sure how good you are at gishing it up even once you get all the buffs you want, I just don't think you're good at combat for most of the game. [–0.5]

    I mentioned that your spells tend to be utility rather than combat. So, how good are you at utility? Spider Climb is solid, and Flight of the Dragon is eventually decent (though kind of a short duration; I would have been tempted to hold out for Overland Flight). You have a couple defensive combat spells (Blinding Color Surge, Wings of Cover); they do help you survive combats, but they don't help you end combats, and they don't do a ton out of combat. You have a couple buffs that can be cast on allies, even if they're kind of situational. Your 3rd level spells mostly confuse me. Analyze Portal is a really situational spell, and that seems like the kind of thing that you would leave up to the Wizards and the scroll-users, not the Sorcerer with harshly limited spells known. Control Temperature is cute with Thermoregulation, but how useful it is in its own right is debatable, at least without other spells to combine with it. Nondetection baffles me; what are you hiding so frequently that it's worth a spell known, especially considering the expensive material component? 3rd level spells have a ton of crazy good options (Haste/Slow, Fly, Mass Snake's Swiftness, Dispel Magic . . . even Fireball is halfway decent when you have Force-Charged Energy, even if it's not a primary choice), so the fact that you took nothing but weird situational spells confuses me. Overall, I think you've got a few out-of-combat tricks, but not as many (nor as many that are generally applicable) as I'd expect from a Sorcerer with so few combat spells. As with your combat spells, the late game sees you in a better spot for this sort of thing (Plane Shift is major, Wall of Stone/Iron are great, and even Charm Monster can have its moments). Outside of your spells, your skills are decent enough, but you're decidedly not a skillmonkey, and I can't see your skills being your primary way of solving too many problems. [0]

    Let's go down your feat list. Your early prereq feats are unfortunate, but not significantly more so on you than on anyone else in the contest. Extend Spell is a perfectly serviceable choice for your required metamagic feat, and you do have a decent number of spells it would work with pretty well. Brew Potion is a bit of a problem, though. You took it for Polyhaemia, right? Well, you forgot that Polyhaemia relies on Craft: Alchemy, which you don't have a single rank in. So it's not actually enabling the SI; it's just serving under its own merits, and its own merits are not very strong. Potions are hella expensive, even when you brew them yourself, and at least a few of your potion-legal spells (including, but not limited to, Mage Armor and Greater Magic Fang) definitely suffer from being put into potions and therefore using minimum CL (unless you pay out the nose for a higher CL, of course, but that just makes the first problem worse). After that, we get into late prereq feats, which in some ways are even more annoying that early prereq feats. (On the one hand, they're less bad than early prereq feats because you have a more robust character with more tricks to fall back on, so each lackluster feat represents a smaller portion of your character's total abilities, and you've got other tricks to use as a backup even if a feat isn't doing you much good. On the other hand, they're worse than early prereq feats because you qualify for better feats that are actually useful at these levels, meaning that you've got a higher opportunity cost to taking a lackluster prereq feat instead of something that's actually strong.) As far as how those late prereq feats actually stand up (outside of being prereqs), Eschew Materials is a reasonably fluffy feat, but if your GM is still messing with your spell component pouch at level 12, you've got other problems, and Blood Calls to Blood is pretty darn situational, so those feats are really only serving as the cost of entry into Fiend-Blooded rather than making you stronger in their own right. Shape Breath is decent (having played a DFA, I can definitely appreciate the benefits of having access to both lines and cones), though I'm not sure how critical your breath weapon is going to be from levels 18-20. You basically don't have any bonus feats (except Draconic Heritage, which serves as a different kind of prereq), so your feats are almost entirely prereqs, Brew Potion, and Shape Breath. Brew Potion is an uninspiring feat for you, and Shape Breath comes so late that it almost doesn't matter, so you've pretty much got nothing really interesting in your feat list. I guess Extend Spell is useful despite being a prereq, but other than that? I'm thoroughly unimpressed, and I don't think your feats are making a good argument for your Power. [–0.5]

    I like the Smiting Spell + Dark Tide trick, but there are two problems with it: first (and perhaps most importantly), it's level 20 only, and I don't really care about stuff that only works at level 20. Second, you don't seem to have any way of being immune to the giant pile of extra-spicy blackwater, so that might be dangerous. In short, it's a cute trick, but because of those two reasons, I don't think I can give much credit for it. (Smiting Whirlwind of Teeth is also fun, but again, 20th level.) [0]

    Elegance: 2.75 3.0 Playing a dragonborn who's not Good is a little iffy, but since you're also not Evil, I'll call that close enough. A real hard-ass GM might invoke the Tarnished Dragonborn rule on pg. 15 of RotD in response to a dragonborn taking Fiend-Blooded and using a surprisingly high number of [Evil] spells, but I don't feel like being a hard-ass about this, so whatever. It's not explicitly illegal, and fluff is mutable, so we'll leave it at that. (The only thing that really still worries me is your use of Demonic Blood Infusion, which has the [Evil] tag, explicitly makes the target Chaotic Evil, and has a tendency to permanently turn the target CE even after the spell wears off. I can definitely see Bahamut having a problem with that. Since you didn't list it as being a primary strategy, I guess I won't mark off for that, but do be careful with that sort of thing in the future.)

    Nice job using Lesser Planetouched to dodge the LA and qualify for Fiend-Blooded. I normally view Lesser Planetouched as being a little cheesy (not so cheesy as to usually earn a penalty, but it definitely doesn't usually get any goodwill from me), but turning the alleged drawback of going from Outsider to Humanoid into a benefit (since a non-Lesser maeluth couldn't qualify for Fiend-Blooded) is clever enough to earn some points. (I just love seeing drawbacks turned into assets.) [+0.25]

    I have some bad news about your skill points. Believe it or not, Concentration isn't a class skill for Flux Adept. (Yeah, the class is even worse than you thought it was!) That means that at 7th through 14th, you overspent by 1 skill point per level. Since it's an easy mistake to make, I'll only count off once, but the build is still not legal as written. [–0.25]

    I'm not sure it's actually possible to have become a dragonborn "when he had 1 Humanoid Hit Die, prior to obtaining his first class level." You don't have any RHD, so there's no provisions for you having a Humanoid HD before gaining a class level. Especially because the Rite of Dragonic Rebirth costs 100 GP, and while I'm willing to believe that you can get that many before attaining 2nd level, I'm not confident you can do it before attaining 1st. And you can't get your Heal skill on if you don't qualify as [dragonblood] when you take Sorc 1, huh? I'm really torn about this. I mean, the rules are pretty clear that you have to start as a non-dragonborn and become a dragonborn. On the other hand, they're pretty much presented as a race like any other (or a pseudotemplate that's easy to get), and honestly, I've always been in favor of ignoring a lot of the costs of stuff you need at level 1 (a standard Sorc doesn't have enough starting GP to summon a familiar; a standard Pally doesn't have enough GP to afford real heavy armor; a standard Fighter doesn't get a masterwork weapon . . . all of these things are dumb and should be glossed over, in my opinion, and it's not going to break the game to let you start with a familiar or a suit of armor or a dragonborn race). In a home game (not that I'd ever start at level 1, eww), I'd never tell someone they couldn't start as a dragonborn, and I'd only make them pay the 100 gp if they actually did start as something else and truly transformed on-camera. In the end, I think I really do have to mark off a little bit for this; I'm not marking off so much because it's illegal as because it requires the GM making a favorable ruling for you, if that makes any sort of sense (and it may not at this point). [–0.25] EDIT: Successfully disputed. No penalty for this issue.

    You don't have any clever way of dealing with prereq feats, either by getting them as bonus feats or by making them do double duty. I mentioned it in Originality already, but I do like your use of Draconic Heritage to take care of Heal, so that's cool. The fact that both Flux Adept and Fiend-Blooded use K: Arcana is nice, but hardly amazing, since that's pretty much the most common skill for casting-related PrCs to require (or darn close to it; I've never seen the numbers). Still, I like your trick with Heal. [+0.25]

    Your progression is pretty smooth, or as smooth as it can be for a weird SI like Flux Adept. The most noticeable hiccup is actually taking Planar Sorcerer. At the level you take Planar Sorcerer, you don't have any spells that can actually qualify for Force-Charged Energy (and you only ever get a couple of them at all), and the K: Planes ranks don't pay off until much later (even getting K: Planes as a class skill doesn't do much, since the SI gets it as well), so you're basically giving up a 2nd level spell known (your highest level known at the time, I might add, so definitely a big cost!) for a vaguely defined benefit that won't pay off for quite some time. That's . . . less than elegant. It's just one level, but still, for a low-level Sorcerer to give up a precious, precious spell known in exchange for a benefit they can't use for many levels to come? That's not good. In fact, it's not even clear if it's legal to take Domain Access and Planar Sorcerer at 5th level, since they both give up the same thing: the ability to learn a new 2nd level spell at 5th level. You might be able to talk a GM into ruling that you can lose two spells known without each of them trying to grab the same spell known, but I don't think that it works by RAW (and at best, you'd be giving up your already-learned 2nd level spell, replacing it with the domain spell). The Planar Sorcerer level just isn't elegant no matter how you slice it. [–0.25]

    Use of Secret Ingredient: 3.5 I like the flavor of a Flux Adept with Scent (how bizarre is it that they don't actually get it normally?), but I don't buy your argument that having Scent makes all your opposed CHA-based rolls get the +2 from Pheromonic Control. "Against" has a meaning, and it's not that. If the wording was something like "any CHA-based skill check involving a creature with the Scent ability," I'd definitely give it to you, but you're very clearly rolling against the other creature, not against yourself. So that's clever, but it's not clever enough to really work.

    As far as everything else goes, I guess it's best to look at everything one at a time. You have a few token ranks in Tumble and Balance, but you otherwise ignore Grace Through Will entirely (and even the full +5 bonus from GTW doesn't make you good at those two skills). Pheromonic Control is both good and bad on a CHA-based caster; on the one hand, the Eagle's Splendor effect does directly make your casting better, but on the other hand, a CHA-based caster is ideally going to want to find a permanent enhancement bonus (that doesn't take an action in combat and that affects bonus spells per day, unlike Eagle's Splendor). I do appreciate you not assuming that you'll automatically have access to a Cloak of Charisma, but you can see where I'm coming from, I hope. Still, it's not totally useless on you. Control Temperature was a very clever choice for you; you're basically the only chef to be able to proactively do anything with Thermoregulation, so kudos there. You don't have any especially clever uses of Iron Stomach or Feign Death; I definitely recognize that those abilities are situational and hard to show off as primary strategies, but I don't see a lot of effort put into them on your end. Bitter Tides also isn't doing you a ton of good; RAW, it only adds extra damage to the claws you get through Boiling Blood, not the ones from Claws of the Savage, and you don't do anything especially interesting with it. You have enough Bluff that Taste of Truth is noticeable (and getting Scent is thematically appropriate, if not actually that useful), but you don't max it out, and you have the same trouble as some of your fellow chefs in that (1) you don't really pay a lot of attention to Bluff for a while but then get a massive bonus all at once after Taste of Truth comes online, and (2) you don't have any other face skills, so you have a character who can lie like crazy but who can't convince people of things honestly, which is weird. If you actually do use your crazy claws strategy, I guess Haste does you some good (there's ambiguity if Haste grants an extra claw attack, since the spell description specifies "one extra attack with any weapon he is holding," but I'm willing to let that slide); I'm not sure how powerful you actually are with your claws even when fully buffed, but at least you're making some effort there. You're the only chef to make use of spells that directly buff your claws, so Boiling Blood is a bit less bad on you than on everyone else; the fact that you have to spend a ton of actions turning on the claws and then turning on the buffs (again, minus GMF, though it's ambiguous what happens if GMF's duration goes beyond the duration of the claws, or if you can pre-cast GMF before your claws exist) is definitely not a great thing for how useful that'll actually be, but as far as UoSI goes, you're the only chef who seems to do much with Boiling Blood, so that's good for you. You sort of ignored Polyhaemia; you went out of your way to pick up Brew Potion to guarantee that you'd have potions to use with it, but you completely forgot that it takes a Craft: Alchemy check to use it, so you can't actually do anything with it, and that's sad. Regeneration is a nifty ability, but you didn't do anything special with it; the only thing I can see you doing is casting Demonic Blood Infusion on yourself to get some minor resistance to cold and fire, but as I mentioned in Elegance, I can definitely see that jeopardizing your dragonborn status, so that doesn't seem like a primary strategy.

    Overall, there are a couple abilities in the SI that aren't doing you much good (that loss of Polyhaemia is really unfortunate, given that you burnt a feat on the otherwise not-so-great Brew Potion), but I do appreciate you trying to make use of Thermoregulation, Boiling Blood, and Haste in ways that most of your fellow chefs didn't. (You also did get some baseline use out of Pheromonic Control, Taste of Truth, and Regeneration, even if you didn't do anything special with those abilities.) I'm not going to go so far as to say that you use the SI's abilities well enough to make up for the loss of 5 spellcasting levels (especially given that the actual results of your efforts are questionable), but you seem to be trying to work with the SI's abilities as much as or more than many of the other contestants, and with an SI this awful, that counts for a lot. No one started the SI earlier than you (there was a tie), and you finished the SI earlier than anyone else who actually took all 10 levels, so that's cool. I don't know that I'm actually convinced that you really needed to be a Flux Adept, but I think you put more effort into being a Flux Adept than pretty much anyone else, so at the end of the day, you've earned some points here. Not a ton of points (it does definitely interfere with the character's other capabilities, and that loss of Polyhaemia is bad), but definitely something. [+0.5]

    Final Thoughts: I wasn't sure what to make of this build. You've got a lot of magic, but you don't have a lot of really great spells known. A Sorcerer lives and dies on their spells, so to have a limp spell list is a pretty big crime on a Sorcerer. You put in the best effort I saw as far as using the SI's abilities goes, but being brutally honest, I'm not sure how much good it really does you in the end. You've got a number of buff spells that make me think you want to gish it up, but you've got no way of dealing with the massive action economy headache that accompanies all of them, and I'm not sure how great the payoff is even if you get all your buffs up at once. You're not the most chaotic entry I've ever seen by a long shot, but there isn't a real clear picture of what the character really wants to accomplish, and I think that ended up costing you in the end.
    Total Score: 11.75 12.0

    Honest James Horson:

    Originality: 3.5 Shugenja is an interesting way of answering the question of "how do I get Heal AND K: Arcana AND spells on a single character?", so that's neat. I definitely wouldn't have guessed we'd see any Shugenjas (especially not with weird spells from OA, though I'm not convinced that those OA spells are super useful), so I can give you some points for that. [+0.25] Since the SI has two abilities that focus on boosting CHA-related things, it's not entirely surprising to see another character who plays the face role to the hilt and tries to just talk their way out of everything, but it's definitely gratifying to see one of those characters who doesn't happen to be a Changeling Rogue, so thumbs up for that. (I love Changeling Rogue in general, but we see soooo many in Iron Chef, so it's nice to see a face who isn't one.) [+0.25]

    Power: 2.75 Doing a Handle Animal-heavy character is always risky in Iron Chef, since it's really not clear how many animals (and what kind of animals) it's fair to assume you have at any given point. That's really dependent on availability of funds, availability of time, and availability of the animals in question, all of which are incredibly campaign-specific. You are clearly aware of this, as you mention early on that "this build takes loads of game time to set up," so you can understand where I'm coming from. It's obviously not fair to put this build in a fast-paced hack-'n'-slash dungeon crawl and judge it based on that. That said, it's also not entirely fair to just assume that you have all the time you could ever need and can bring tons of CR-appropriate animals to every fight, or that you can always afford as many rare animal cubs as you want (of whatever type you want), or that you can just generate arbitrarily high amounts of income by selling your animal training services during arbitrarily long downtimes. It is important to remember that pg. 75 of the PHB stipulates that you can't rear more than 3 animals of the same kind at once, though I admit that it's ambiguous if that also bars you from raising other animals of different kinds or if it just means you can only do 3 at a time per type of animal. (Either way, it does put a bit of a damper on your plan to have 20 mice trained at all times, or anything like that—at the very least, it makes it take longer, which brings us back to the original concern about not being sure how much downtime it's fair to assume you have available.)

    Let's start with what you do well. You're an excellent liar, and while I'm not willing to believe that you've got epic skill checks for most of your career, you do have undeniably respectable totals for your highest skills, and you can certainly hit a few epic DCs late in the game. [+0.5] I ideally would have liked to have seen some higher totals for face skills other than just Bluff, but you don't totally ignore your other CHA-based skills, and enough of your bonuses apply to all CHA skills (between Half-Elf Paragon, Motivate Charisma, Eagle's Splendor, and just stupidly high CHA, you've got a pretty darn good total before we break down the skill-specific bonuses) that you can certainly make a functional face, even if you're only really at your best when lying to people. When you have access to animals to train and the time necessary to train them, you're definitely very good at that; I'm not willing to say that you're always going to have the time and the resources available to always have the perfect pet ready, but you definitely invested enough in your Handle Animal abilities that I'm willing to say that you can definitely use it to solve a few problems over the course of your career. [+0.25]

    You're going to have a nontrivial time casting spells in combat if anything decides you look like a target, since you have no Concentration and no Tumble. Anything you can't 5 ft step away from WILL mess up your casting. I understand that you're a half-caster at best, but your spells still seem to be your primary way of contributing to things after initiative is rolled, so the fact that you're entirely relying on your party to stand between you and things that don't want you to cast is worrisome. [–0.25]

    Let's look at your feats. Able Learner is never a bad choice, especially when you're jumping around from class to class. Combat Panache may be your single most helpful feat, since it's about the only thing that you can do once someone gets too close to you. I'm not sure why you chose Earthbound Spell (yes, you needed a metamagic feat, but I don't see why you chose that specific one); you're ECL 11 before you can even use it on a 1st level spell (and I think only Obscuring Mist actually makes sense as an Earthbound Spell among your 1st level spells), and very few of your spells known really seem to do anything when you turn them into traps. Heroic Destiny and Fearless Destiny seem like an awful lot of work for something that only works once per day; I do like the synergy between Fearless Destiny, Combat Panache's ability to play dead, and Flux Adept's actual Feign Death feature, but that's still a lot of feat space for a once-daily ability. (It's not clear whether an animal would be smart enough to wake you from Feign Death after the battle is over. Without you there to tell them what to do, an animal would have to be extraordinarily well trained to stick around a battle dangerous enough to drop its master, and even if you invent a new, non-RAW trick for "wake up the master, who is playing dead," I'm not sure that INT 2 is enough to get an animal to wait until combat is over to do that, especially without you there to tell it what to do. You might wake from your coma and continue to play dead if the animal wakes you up too early, but you could do that with just Combat Panache, kind of obviating the usefulness of the SI.) Persuasive is a prereq, of course, though at least it does make your main trick better, and Master Manipulator has its uses. At a minimum, I think Earthbound Spell is poorly chosen (you just don't have high enough spell slots to really use it, and relatively few of your spells are even good targets for it), and I'm not convinced that Fearless Destiny improves your Combat Panache Play Dead trick enough to warrant spending two feats on it. So after dealing with your prereqs, you've got relatively few feats that really make you stronger, and since you've got a lot of annoying prereq feats to begin with, having dead feat space is pretty rough for you. [–0.5]

    Insidious Corruptor is an interesting choice. I do like the thematic potential of it, and it was clever of you to use half-drow to qualify for yet another thing. My biggest concern with it is that the save DC on Claws of Influence is really low, since it's based on your class level, and you take it super late in the build. Yeah, your CHA is definitely higher than most, but not so much higher that a DC 11 + CHA effect is likely to work at ECL 17 (unless you're dealing with someone of such low level that you likely didn't need Claws of Influence). All told, I think it's a neat thematic choice for the character, but I'm not convinced that what it gives you will really affect your power level at the level you take it. [0]

    As is often the case for silver-tongued rascals, it's not at all clear exactly at what level the character starts being playable; you've got reasonably high skills out of the box, but you don't have "never-fail" levels of skills until you get a good few HD under your belt, and if your skills fail you early on, you have absolutely nothing to fall back on (your early spells are a joke as far as combat goes, and you have no real combat capabilities beyond that). I wouldn't really be comfortable playing this character in the 1-5 range; you're about as good a talker as they come in that range (barring silliness like a Changeling Rogue with a dip in Warlock for Beguiling Influence), but I don't think you're a good enough talker to rely on it to the exclusion of everything else at that level, and if initiative ends up being rolled, you're pretty much useless there. At mid levels, you've got enough tricks that you can handle yourself, but it'd take some really charmed d20s to actually level you up to a point where I'd be comfortable bringing you to the table. [–0.25]

    Overall, you're a hard character to rate in terms of Power, as is so often the case for tricksy skill-reliant characters in Iron Chef. You're not going for a full Kole Naerrin-style "talk your way out of literally every single problem" character, and you do have a trick or two once initiative is rolled, but you tend to be way stronger when things aren't making attack rolls around you. A GM who's willing to work with you (by letting you have access to lots of trainable animals and time to train them, by letting you build up a network of contacts, by letting you try to talk your way out of more than the average dungeon crawl would usually allow, and so on) would see you as a very strong force, but you do rely pretty heavily on the GM giving you opportunities to use your tricks (in ways that a "normal" character wouldn't necessarily need). I guess we'll just leave it at that.

    Elegance: 2.5 I'm a little wary of allowing half-drow into Half-Elf Paragon, given that Drow Paragon exists, but I think the strictest reading of the rules does allow it (depending on whether you read the "except as follows" bit to have Drow Blood replace Elven Blood), so I'll let it slide. Once we're over that hurdle, it's a little bit impressive to see just how much crap you managed to make half-drow qualify you for (Able Learner AND Half-Elf Paragon AND Human Paragon AND Insidious Corruptor). Of course, you do have to invoke the variant rule in the sidebar on pg. 150 of RoD to actually qualify for Able Learner (by default, half-elves qualify for elf-only stuff, but not for human-only stuff; Human Paragon is an exception thanks to the wording of Divided Ancestry in Half-Elf Paragon), so that makes me a little bit less happy. I'm going to say that the positive part of cleverly using half-drow to qualify for a million things cancels out the negative part of having to use fuzzy rules to qualify for Half-Elf Paragon and Able Learner. [0]

    I'm torn about what to do with your lack of a source list. On the one hand, you do offer a lot of citations in your build table, which is good. On the other hand, you don't have a master source list, and you don't actually cite everything—it took me way longer than I care to admit to find half-drow, which was very frustrating. I'm not going to give you the full –1 penalty, since you do cite almost all of your sources, but you still didn't include a list, and I still had to spend time looking for one of your sources, so that's a penalty. [–0.25]

    You spent 2 extra skill points at level 6. You underspent by 2 at 7th, so it's conceivable that you accidentally shuffled the 2 ranks in K: Religion from 7 to 6, but you do need to be careful about that. You also underspent by 2 at 13th, but then you overspent by 3 at 14th. You then underspent by 4 at 17th, and then you underspent by 2 at 18th, 19th, and 20th. You ended up underspending more than you overspent, so I'm not going to take off a ton of points for this, but the fact remains that your skill points ended up sloppy, and you did overspend a couple times. [–0.25]

    I don't like seeing you trying to cross setting lines by invoking a ritual of the Church of Cyric in Eberron. I'm not going to dock you points for it, but I'm also not going to assume that you actually have access to it. Since it's just a bonus to what you're already doing, that's not a huge loss (it's not like it gave you a brand new ability that you were relying on using), but that's going just a little bit too deep into cross-setting material for me to feel comfortable about it in an Iron Chef context. [0]

    In terms of how your actual build is set up, I don't see anything especially elegant, but I don't see much that's terribly inelegant. In a vacuum, using Shugenja to take care of three of the prereqs for Flux Adept (spells + Heal + K: Arcana) is clever. The fact that you're using Human Paragon and Able Learner makes the clever use of Shugenja a lot less clever—since you could easily get the awkward skills out of the way with Human Paragon and Able Learner, you could have gotten your spells from a casting class with a more generally applicable list, so Shugenja ends up feeling like a grab at exoticism for the sake of exoticism rather than simply a clever way of knocking out several prereqs that usually don't come together. [0] Other than that, your early levels are kind of a hodgepodge, but they're a hodgepodge that makes sense for what you're trying to do, and I did mean what I said when I mentioned that I don't mind seeing dips if they really contribute to the character's goals. It's nice to see you using bonus feats to get the SI's prereqs out of the way, but beyond that, nothing really makes me sit up and take notice.

    Use of Secret Ingredient: 2.0 Seven levels of Flux Adept? Ugh. That doesn't make me happy, especially since levels 9 and 10 are some of the most interesting abilities that the SI grants. [–0.5]

    You appear to use basically two abilities from the SI: Pheromonic Control and Taste of Truth. You really don't seem to care about anything else, with the possible exception of Feign Death. (I do see your offhand mention of using Bitter Tides to make you less appetizing when Feigning Death, but I don't see where you're going to get the actions to do that, since they both take standard actions to activate.) Taste of Truth is a pretty decent boost to Bluff, but is it really the best way you could have gone about doing things? It ends up being a +7 to Bluff from Taste of Truth for the cost of seven levels and three feats (plus some skills). If that's all you care about, why not just dip a single level of Warlock to get Beguiling Influence, giving you a +6 to Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate for the cost of a single level? A level or two in Incarnate and/or Totemist could have provided much the same effect as you get from Pheromonic Control, and then you'd still have more feats and more levels to play with. Please note, of course, that I'm definitely not marking off on you because something else is stronger (and/or easier) than the SI; I'm marking off on you because the only part of the SI that you really used was something that could have been better handled with something else, and you let the rest of the SI's abilities rot on the vine. When you only care about one or two things the SI does, and those things in question can be easily replicated elsewhere, I'm not at all convinced that the SI is the best choice for the character, you know? You make a good effort at making use of those two abilities, but I don't think they add enough to the character to make me feel like you really wanted to be a Flux Adept. This character is definitely working around being a Flux Adept rather than working with being a Flux Adept, if that makes sense. And again, only taking seven levels is really not doing you any favors.

    The fact that you have Combat Panache doesn't do you much good here, since its Play Dead ability is pretty much strictly superior to Feign Death for day-to-day usage (mostly because of the action required, though the fact that it doesn't require obtuse trigger conditions to wake up is also helpful). I have no trouble believing that you like to play dead when the going gets tough, but I do have a hard time believing that it's better for you to do that with the SI than with Combat Panache. So I don't think you're really getting much use out of the SI's version of Feign Death more often than not. (I'm not saying it could never ever be useful, but I don't think you're really going to be relying on it in the way you say you are.)

    Overall, you did get good use out of Pheromonic Control and Taste of Truth. Pretty much every chef shoved some ranks in Bluff to take advantage of those abilities, but you went farther than most in explaining why it matters that you're good at lying and exactly what kinds of things you can do with a crazy high Bluff total, so I can give you credit for that. [+0.25] The problem is that you didn't really use anything else, and as I said earlier, in no way am I convinced that Flux Adept was a natural choice for this character. [–0.75]

    Final Thoughts: There are a few things in your write-up that made me really scratch my head, but they didn't really affect your score, so I'm just going to mention them here. First, while I definitely like the audacity associated with faking being a changeling reality seeker, I don't see how you're going to pull that off, given that you've got no Disguise ranks until the very tail end of your build, and reality seekers look like untransformed changelings, not half-drow. (I did see something about hiring prostitutes to help you, but that's still something literally anyone can do, so I don't really get what you're going for with that one; besides, are prostitutes necessarily going to have higher Disguise than you, what with your miscellaneous bonuses to everything CHA-related?) Second, your comment about "laundering the clean money through shady businesses" is just downright confusing, since that's kind of the exact opposite of how money laundering works, so I have no idea what you're getting at here. Third, you mention "wearing a disguise spell on top, if dealing with truesight type folk," but that's exactly when you need to NOT use a disguise spell, since True Seeing would pierce the disguise spell (but maybe not the mundane Disguise check). Like I said, none of those things bothered me enough to have them affect your score, so I'm putting them here, outside of the main judgment. Anyway, other than that, you're another talky character who tries to live and die on their skills, but you aren't really much of a Flux Adept. You might be a playable character, but you're playable despite Flux Adept, not because of it.
    Total Score: 10.75
    Last edited by Zaq; 2015-11-09 at 03:30 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!

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