Part three! We're not done. Why would we be done?

The Professor: 14.25
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This isn't going to be a penalty or anything, but when I read the line "That… box. Was that always there?" and then the build wasn't a Solid Snake joke, I got a little bit disappointed. Just a little. (Also, please be advised that I know very little about Doctor Who, but I've picked up a few of the basic ideas from cultural osmosis.)

Originality: 5

I can safely say that I didn't expect, like, any of this. I haven't cracked the SBG in so long that I forgot where my copy is, and I didn't expect a Persistificer. I didn't even expect a warforged scout (partly because they're usually pretty suboptimal, but such is life). You make a shaky but real argument that Hoardstealer at least partially contributes to your shtick that Artificer started, which, again, is not something I saw coming. Your Artificerness is mostly pretty much textbook, but this still feels like a fairly fresh take on it. This is pretty much exactly what I was talking about when I said that it's okay to use well-known optimization tactics if you've got a way to put a new spin on them, and I think this qualifies. I'm willing to give you a perfect score here. I genuinely didn't think that I'd see anything like this, but it's still relevant to the ingredient in question. Good show!

Power: 4

I confess to being suspect of any build that relies too heavily upon an ability that costs XP (namely Spell-Storing Item) as what appears to be a primary strategy. I know, I know, XP is a river, and you're likely to gain more XP from any given challenge that a Spell-Storing Item let you overcome than you spent powering the SSI itself. I know. It still just kind of triggers a deep-set gag reflex I have, though. I hate the concept of being behind on XP. I'm trying not to let this color my judgment too much, but it's there. (Speaking of losing XP, "upgrading" from Kitt to Kaynein involves dismissing Kitt, which still costs XP. And there's no exception to the rule about needing to wait a year and a day, either. You'd have been better off here not mentioning Kitt at all and just waiting for Kaynein.)

Reservations aside, though, you've brought an awful lot of magical utility here. Like, an awful lot. I do wonder if you've got quite as much staying power as you seem to assume (daily infusions aren't exactly unlimited), but a few well-chosen Persists do go a long way, and it's true that SSI provides Spellpool-esque levels of flexibility with a minute or two of prep time, and that's pretty impressive. I believe that you might be somewhat more limited than average if you happen to get caught with your metaphorical pants down, but you do seem to have poured a bit of effort into minimizing how often that might happen. It's been a while since I really looked at Artificer. I forgot how disgustingly powerful it is just with its base features, honestly.

The other thing that gives me pause about you is that you don't seem to have much to do with your actions once initiative is rolled. You're pretty much a pure support character, but you didn't go full Kole Naerrin and present an argument about how you're so good at your chosen tasks that you can expect to basically never need to fight anything. I'm not saying that you'll have no effect on a combat, of course, since you can prebuff like a boss. (It'll be tricky for you to Persist spells on your allies—you've read the handbook, so you know what limits there are on spells that can and can't be Persisted, and only you can prevent forest fires activate the SSIs you make—but you might be able to load them up with a few non-Persisted buffs if you're lucky.) But regardless of whether you've prebuffed or not, you don't seem to really have much use for a standard action once combat actually starts. You're still a very useful support character in general, but I don't feel like you made a strong argument for your usefulness in an actual fight scene, at least not before very high levels when you start talking about crap like Planar Binding and Summon Giants. The fact that you do seem to need a party doesn't play 100% nicely with you using personal-range teleportation to get into and out of your force-enclosed (implied to be doorless) stronghold at high levels, but that's a relatively minor oversight.

Having high Search without high Disable is awkward, but if you have to pick just one, it's better to find a trap and then have to creatively think of a solution to it than it is to be able to get rid of traps that you only found by setting them off the first time. Also, calling yourself a scout (racial names notwithstanding) with no Spot/Listen is, well, a bit questionable. Not unworkable, but less than ideal.

Overall, this seems like a solid 4 to me. You've got strong self-Persistomancy, above-average (for a Hoardstealer, at least) party buffing, obnoxiously versatile spontaneity with about a minute or two of preparation, and an impressively outfitted base of operations. You'd have scored higher if you had convinced me that you have meaningful on-the-spot contributions to a fight you hadn't exhaustively prepared for in advance, if you'd have laid out more clearly how your ability to buff your allies is more than a tiny fraction of your ability to self-buff, and if you hadn't had the stumble with the familiar swap.

Elegance: 2.25

Basic legality check: I really wish you would have called out which skills are cross-class like I asked you to in my guidelines. Checking your skills was harder as a result. That said, your skills appear to be legal, as do your feats and your PrC. Well done. This is far, far rarer than it has any right to be.

I will say that your choice to bring in Landlord and the SBG in general is definitely testing my commitment to my "no penalty for obscure sources" rule. It's a lot of work checking to figure out exactly what the hell you're doing with that stronghold of yours! I'm not saying that you shouldn't have done it, because it's reasonably clever, and I will adhere to my guidelines of not penalizing just for legal sources used, but man, you're definitely making me work for this judgment! Still, you've laid out your intended upgrades in a surprisingly easy-to-read manner, so I can't complain too much. I'll actually commend you for it; failure to provide that upgrade table actually would have gone much worse for you.

I will say that relying on a constantly upgrading stronghold is rather at odds with your assertion that you don't need or want much downtime. SBG pg. 9 specifies that building a stronghold takes 1 week per 10,000 gp. That's some noticeable downtime, especially once you get to higher levels and start gaining 50k or 100k at each step. Your stronghold is still an excellent source of power, but you're not as elegantly independent of downtime as you advertise.

My biggest quibble, honestly, is the fact that you state repeatedly that you're relying on SSI rather than on crafted wands (fine so far) and that you also say that you're using Hoardstealer spells to power Wand Bonding. I've read your description pretty carefully, and I get the strong impression that you're trying to use the "effectively a wand" clause of SSI to funnel Hoardstealer spells into your SSIs. I've graded in the other three categories as though that were legal and functional (so think carefully before disputing this and claiming that you aren't doing this, because it may affect your other scores, and not in the way that you like), but it's more of a questionable rules interpretation than I like to make, and I think it's somewhat less than elegant. Even if we accept it as legal, I don't think it's elegant.

The amount of skill points you spend cross-class is actually fairly breathtaking. By my count, you spend 126 skill points cross-class (or, by another measure, 63 skill points that you didn't need to spend—you could have almost maxed three more skills if you'd hypothetically been in-class the whole time, impossible as that would have been on this build)! I suppose I should admire your bloody-minded determination to stay stealthy even though Hide/MS are class skills for exactly one of your twenty levels. You seem to have turned razor smarts into a blunt implement and just kept your skills up with brute force. Your dedication to alchemy, though, seems a bit perverse, given your stated aversion to downtime. (Armorsmithing I can forgive as a self-healing option for a 'forged.) It's not a completely useless skill, but I'm not sure why it's worth so many cross-class points when you don't seem to be doing anything unusual or interesting with it. I don't see any mention of it at all in your write-up, just in your build, so I'm left wondering why you bothered. If it had been in-class for you most of the time, that'd be one thing, but you sacrificed quite a lot and never told me why that was a cool thing to do.

Your class structure comes close to making perfect sense. Since you didn't enter the SI as soon as you qualified anyway, there's part of me that feels like it would have made more sense to take one more level in Artificer first just to get 3rd level SSIs on the table before taking your great jaunt into the stealing of hoards. Artificer 5 is still a reasonable breakpoint (3rd level infusions and a weapon familiar), I guess. You don't have any class choices that come completely out of nowhere, though, which is refreshing. You know, assuming that the SI makes sense in the first place, which is a game we mostly have to play anyway.

Almost all of your feat choices matter, so that's nice.

I wish you'd mentioned what's up with those cowlick ranks in Spellcraft and Autohypnosis at 19 and 20. I understand that you sometimes don't really have a place to put a spare rank (you've basically caught up your primary skills by then; I get it), but I still wish you'd given me at least a token explanation of what you were trying to do. I want every choice you make to matter.

You appear to have swapped on your table when Artificer grants Craft Wand and Metamagic Spell Trigger, but that doesn't seem to be affecting your legality or your choices much, so that's minor.

I don't see what rules you used to make up new powers to give your weapon familiar. Intelligent items can be enchanted, but the DMG rules seem to imply that intelligent item powers (which the items activate on their action) aren't exactly the same thing as normal item powers? It's unclear. I'll mostly give you the benefit of the doubt, but I would recommend calling out exactly where you got those rules from and how you calculated your costs. They seem to be the standard "add a spell to an item" rules, but my concern is that intelligent items are weird, and the intelligent item powers listed in the DMG don't seem to quite match the prices for spell effects that the user (rather than the item) activates. So I'm not actually convinced that your weapon familiar can be the one to spend actions on No Light and whatever. The odd saving grace here is that since you don't really have much in the way of ways to spend your own standard actions (plenty of ways to spend a minute or two, but few ways to spend a single action each round), you don't lose that much functionality from not outsourcing the action to your item. Which is honestly pretty weird, but this is kind of a weird build. (Mostly weird in a good way.) That's why I'm sticking this in Elegance rather than Power. It doesn't affect your Power all that much, but the fact that the rules don't seem to work exactly the way you want them to doesn't strike me as perfectly elegant.

I'm going to give this build about a 2.25 in Elegance. I don't have to take off points for being illegal, which is good, but I also don't want to give out a bonus just for, you know, not cheating. The clean class structure and clean feat structure buoy you up a bit, but the massive inefficiency in skill points (especially C: Alchemy) and the squishy rules you have to get involved with lower your score below average.

Use of Secret Ingredient: 3

Let's just go down the list, I suppose.

Getting No Light is a good way to use darkvision. If anyone gets credit for using some kind of custom magic item, it's a bloody Artificer. Doesn't help with other things that have darkvision (like, say, most things that live in the dark), but it's better than nothing, so I applaud the effort. It'd mean more if you had meaningful offensive options and strong ways to harm the darkvisionless creatures you include in the area of your cantrip (and let's not kid ourselves; it is, in fact, a bloody cantrip), but still, it's something.

You pay a little lip service to Trap Sense, but I disagree with your glib assertion that you "disable things as you go" with your whopping 5 whole ranks in DD.

Deep Pockets is not useless on you, but if you look at some of your competitors, you can see why I don't feel like you went especially above and beyond with it. Not needing to breathe (and being Small) and therefore being able to hide inside it is cute, but you didn't say what you really do with such a trick.

You completely fail to mention Hide from Dragons. Even if it's situational as hell, the fact that you didn't even acknowledge its existence isn't exciting. This is far from the worst thing about your build and you are far from alone here, but it's still there. Or not there, as the case may be.

You make a brave argument about Treasure Dowsing being a good way to sense outside your stronghold. I guess if you've really carefully removed all of the, to use your example, steel from your stronghold (so you aren't just pinging on yourself), it might conceivably be useful, but if it's your primary way of sensing things outside of your rapidly moving box, I can see a lot going wrong there. Partial credit for effort, I guess.

I admit to being fairly unimpressed with your use of Skill Mastery. You know better than to pick UMD as a Skill Mastery option. It's legal to pick, but it doesn't do anything. Stress or distraction aren't what prevent taking 10 on UMD; it's a clause in the skill itself, just like Truespeak. In general, I actually kind of question your SM picks. UMD has been covered. Search is a little questionable (how often are you searching in an environment where you can't take 10, especially with no ranks in Concentration?), but I can see it coming up now and again. Hide/MS are rock solid, so no complaints there. DD and OL confuse me because you really only seem to have very bare-bones ranks in them. You don't seem to need to use them often in a stressful environment, and your total bonus is low enough that I'd usually expect you to take 20 rather than 10. Appraise, once again, isn't usually used in a time-crunch environment, and you already called out when discussing Gold Finder that you can succeed on a common DC without rolling. You have one token "I'm trained, really!" rank in Forgery, and even with your very high INT, I don't see you wanting to quickly dash off a forged note in a time-limited situation; if you're trying at all, I think you'd probably take 20, or at least be under sufficient non-stress that you could probably take 10 already. (I guess it makes you slightly more reliable at detecting forgeries, but you didn't call that out as being a particularly meaningful choice.) Now, granted, since Craft is already something you can take 10 on basically all the time, those are pretty much the majority of your skills that you have ranks in at all, but the fact remains, I'm not sure that you're really getting a ton of benefit out of the feature. Honestly, if you'd even thrown ranks into Concentration, you could potentially argue that you might occasionally be using some of the longer-activation skills in stressful situations now and again, but that doesn't seem to be on the table today.

You don't actually gain a single bit of benefit from HS's skill list. You never take a single rank in a skill that's in-class for HS but that isn't in-class for Artificer, and you often do the opposite. You aren't the only chef with this kind of issue, but it seems especially bad on you, given that there are a handful of potentially useful skills that HS gets but Artificer doesn't, and you don't have any way of mitigating the cost of cross-class skills the way many of your fellow Hoardstealers do.

And that leaves the spells. You tie up one of your highest slots with Dimensional Jaunt, but DJ is a good utility feat, and I honestly didn't expect anyone to use HS spells to power a reserve feat, so that's something, I suppose. (We may need to gloss over the fact that Shape Soulmeld: Blink Shirt exists; it has lower range, but it doesn't tie up your highest level spell slot and is available much earlier on for nearly the same effect.) More meaningfully, you use Wand Bonding to get off-list utility from the slots (maybe even with SSI?), which is pretty nice. You actually tell me how a few of the specific spells HS gets are useful to you (even mentioning at least one spell from each level!), which is, sadly, more than I can say for some of your competitors, so that looks good on you.

I will say that among the competitors who include T1 casting or some equivalent in the build, you're in the upper half when it comes to integrating Hoardstealer with your powerful baseline. There's still a disconnect between the HS part of the build and the Artificer part of the build (I mean, I don't think anyone is even pretending that the build wouldn't be stronger with more Artificer and less non-Artificer, right?), and removing HS from the build doesn't cause it to collapse or to have to radically reinvent itself. You've found an acceptable trick or two that lets you partner up with HS, but you aren't relying on it as fully as some of your competitors. It's definitely not pure dead weight, but you aren't getting any particularly unique benefit out of it. We'll stick you in the middle and call it a 3. You'd have gotten more points if you'd taken more advantage of HS's skill base (and Skill Mastery) and if you'd have made a stronger argument that your main takeaways from HS couldn't really be easily done in another way.


Final Thoughts:

I liked an awful lot about this build. I really didn't see any of it coming, and you have a fairly remarkable power baseline. It still didn't need Hoardstealer, but it's definitely a tidy piece of optimization. Well done.



Paityr: 7.5
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I may or may not be stealing a couple of your fluff elements (like a thief who uses their loot to buy books because the thought of stealing books is anathema to them, and also the part about a necromancer naming all of their undead minions the same name) wholesale for future characters of my own. Those were clever!

Originality: 2

Okay, so, you know how I said in my criteria that it's fine to use known optimization tricks if you make them interesting and clarify what makes your character different? I'm not seeing that second part. I guess I wasn't expecting Uncanny Trickster advancing Dread Necro? I'm not 100% sure why that's in the build at all, mind you, but I wasn't expecting it. (The fact that you appear to have met the skill requirements for the SI before actually going into Uncanny Trickster just adds to the confusion.)

But really, the elephant in the room (not the last time this phrase will appear in this judgment) is the fact that this is just a Rainbow Deathsnake. It's a very Rainbow Deathsnake build (yeah, that's an adjective now). There are very few other flourishes to the build aside from the SI getting bolted to the back end for some reason, and those flourishes were not sufficiently explained to make me think of this as a particularly interesting or unique early entry Rainbow Deathsnake.

I admit that I didn't expect anyone to lunge for, y'know, Dread Necro in a Hoardstealer build. Or Rainbow Servant, for that matter. So I guess that's a mark in your favor. Call it a 2? That seems like a 2. It's an old op trick that I didn't expect in this specific context, but it's still an old op trick with no new spin put on it, and it wasn't meaningfully integrated into the whole.

Power: 3.5

So your early game is almost entirely a full caster. A full caster with early entry cheese, for that matter. And eventually DMM Persist, even. I'm fine with an almost-full-caster taking a skillful class at level 1 just to establish some baseline skills, and then you're basically all spells all the time for almost 13 more levels. That's a mark in your favor. Spells are spells.

Your stats are spread weirdly. That's an awful lot of INT for someone who casts off of CHA and spellstitches off of WIS. In fact, you seem kind of desperate to get more WIS at the end, to the point that you basically admit that you won't have enough without items or other sources of bonuses. It's almost like you were trying to get into a skill-heavy class without a skill-heavy base or something. Hmm. How curious. Your physicals suffer as a result—you're squishy as heck before (and even somewhat after) your undeadification. I mean, -1 CON on d6 and d4 HD? A stray crossbow bolt can kill you early on. (You've got what, an average of 5 + 2.5 + 1.5 + 1.5 = 10.5 HP at level 4? I can forgive low HP at level 1, but that's awfully low for level 4.) To your credit, you do call this out and recognize it, but that doesn't mean that it's not a problem.

Of course, your progression kind of jumps off a cliff at ECL 15. Ending with 6ths (yer table's borked, by the way: DNs don't get 0ths, so it looks like you've got a lower cap than you should) isn't nothing when you've got a million spells spontaneously at your fingertips, but you don't really get any better after that. Why go all the way to 6ths and then stop for 6 levels of an ingredient you ignore? Hoardstealer is actively interfering with your progression.

If we accept that ADW works like you say it does, you've got strong minionmancy, I s'pose. Your lower-level minionmancy is a bit weakened by the lack of actual rebuking power, but you do point out that spells go a long way.

I think this build gets a middling score of about 3.5 in Power. Your raw spellpower bumps you above average, but you'd have earned more if you were less horrifyingly squishy and if you didn't have six levels of actively antisynergistic dead weight sandbagging you at the end of your build. You have an awful lot of very nice spells, but your beginning and your end are fairly terrible.

Elegance: 1

DMM kinda works for you, given that your Cleric spells are cast as divine spells if and only if they don't appear on the Sor/Wiz or Bard spell lists. So I guess that's sort of useful. Not unbridled utility, but it's still DMM Persist.

Your choice to learn Swift Concentration and Magical Appraisal at level 9 is not legal. One skill trick per level (outside of feats and bonus tricks). CSc pg. 82. C'mon, man. This is basic.

Why add the extra hoop of taking Planar Touchstone (a feat with, I will remind you, a bloody quest attached—fluff is generally mutable, but Planar Touchstone is not a feat with trivial fluff prereqs. Oh, and don't forget the expenditure of XP to attune to your touchstone object! And I'd say don't forget the 8 ranks in K: Planes, except you forgot the 8 ranks in K: Planes!) for the Undeath domain to get Extra Turning instead of just freaking taking Extra Turning?! That's the kind of thing Nale would come up with. Sure, your writeup kind of offhandedly mentioned a few other domains you could look at instead of Undeath, but Planar Touchstone isn't a feat that you can change once it's on your sheet. When I'm judging, I only allow wildcards if they're something you can actually swap out, like prepped spells or shaped soulmelds, and not if they're something you can't, like feats. You don't get to make me do the work of picking the best choice for you. I'm going with what's in your table. So yeah. That feat is not only way more complex than it needs to be, but it's also ILLEGAL for the lack of ranks in K: Planes. It's not just a Nale feat, it's an ILLEGAL NALE FEAT. This is gonna cost you.

Okay, elephant in the room time: I'm not fond of early entry (either into Rainbow Servant or into Master Spellthief). I'm not going to call it illegal. It's technically legal. But extraordinary tricks demand extraordinary payoff. And this seems like a fairly generic Rainbow Deathsnake build. This isn't using Rainbow Deathsnake to take you to new and fascinating places. It's kind of just a generic Rainbow Deathsnake. So you brought in cheese to bump up your power, but you didn't really make it interesting. It's just cheese. I forgive cheese if it's interesting cheese, but this is boring cheese.

I could talk about the fact that I don't really agree with your interpretation of Extra Spell, or the fact that you didn't choose your level 18 feat, or the fact that spellstitching yourself is a little questionable (especially without knowing the spell in question), or the fact that your alignment is technically legal but that a GM could be justified in questioning exactly what's going on there, or the fact that your save progression doesn't seem to make ANY sense even if we accept that you're applying your stat mods in addition to your base saves, but I don't think I need to say more than I already have. I think the ILLEGAL NALE FEAT and the cheesy entry without interesting cheesy payoff are enough to decide this build's Elegance score. The rest doesn't help at all.


Use of Secret Ingredient: 1

Sigh. Bro, you told me that your first sweet spot is before you take your first level of the SI. And then you told me that your second sweet spot is when you take your very first level of the SI, but you didn't exactly make an argument that the class features from Hoardstealer 1 (darkvision, trapfinding, and perhaps a single 1st level spell per day) are what kick you into "sweet spot" territory, so I somehow think that this was more a function of hitting ECL 15 rather than Hoardstealer 1. I level this charge at you: you don't care about the Secret Ingredient. You have a super frontloaded almost-full-casting build complete with early entry into Rainbow Servant for Rainbow Deathsnake cheese, which is a reasonable choice if you're gunning for Power, but you have basically zero synergy with Hoardstealer. You even say that "16 to 20 plays out a lot like upper levels." You . . . really don't mention a single thing about Hoardstealer in your writeup during the level range at which you have Hoardstealer levels (half-heartedly name-dropping your divining ability does not impress me). I'm sorry, but this is clearly a non-Hoardstealer build that tacks on 6 levels of Hoardstealer at the very end simply because it's the SI. I guess I can see a tiny bit of token effort put in with Master Spellthief, but that doesn't change the fact that this is clearly just Hoardstealer stapled on for some reason. You have earned no points. I award you a 1.

Final Thoughts: I don't know why this build is in Hoardstealer. I might—might—have been more open to it if you were going for a "hordestealer" joke, plundering dragon graveyards and stealing minions from dracoliches and stuff, but even then. This build was both trying to do too much (like qualify for Hoardstealer and get high WIS for spellstitching on a CHA-caster chassis) and not trying to do enough (like, you know, making the character unique enough to justify raw cheese).



Master Overmound: 7.75
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This build is so aggressively halfling-y that I'm almost surprised you didn't jam Halfling Paragon in there. I mean, this isn't a complaint (Halfling Paragon isn't actually good). Just an observation.

Originality: 2.25

Um, you're pretty much just a basic halfling Rogue with some Whisperknife in there. And Hoardstealer for some undefined reason. Swordsage is used acceptably well, but it's about the exact opposite of novel or surprising; you are in no way weaker (or even less Original) for it, but you're definitely not more Original for it. Luckstealer is potentially neat, but it feels like an afterthought and doesn't feel meaningful in this build. No new tricks, no new spins on old tricks, no integration of disparate parts into a cohesive whole.

I'm going to rate this as around a 2.25. I'm not going lower than that because I'd rather see a simple baseline build like this than a build that clumsily tries to bring in some old optimization combo but does it poorly and doesn't own anything about it, but you'd have scored higher if there were anything in here that didn't feel generic.

Power: 2.5

Penetrating Strike is weird on a halfling Rogue taking the halfling racial sub levels to be better at ranged SA than at melee SA. I mean, it's still probably more useful than Trap Sense (close to something-for-nothing, so that's good for you), but still, don't you agree that it's a little odd? You do presumably bother with melee attacks, so don't think that I don't see that, but I still find it odd.

Luckstealer without any luck feats makes me sad. I understand that the majority of your feats were spent getting into Whisperknife (is that ever a feat-greedy class or what?!), but that still seems like a heck of a missed opportunity.

Speaking of Whisperknife, just how much return on investment do you get for those feats? Sure, you probably would have taken at least Weapon Finesse (maybe even one or more of the others) alone, but even so, that's a lot of feat investment. You honestly talk a lot more about qualifying for Whisperknife than you do about actually using Whisperknife. The only mention I can really see about actually using Whisperknife's abilities is an oblique reference to it letting you function both in and out of melee. You've left it up to me to determine why you care about the class, I suppose, so I guess I need to assess that for you. Rapid Shot is acceptable but it's kind of just a refund on feats you had to spend. IUD is acceptable, though it is passive. Defensive Throw isn't terrible, though it's kind of optimizing for losing (it's rare for you to both want to throw things and to be able to get SA, since a flat-footed target or one that can't see you is vulnerable to SA, and you can't flank at range). Still, covering your bases is okay. Improved Catch is weird and situational (and it precludes a full attack), so I'm not impressed. Close Attack is, at best, +2 AC; is that all? SA is SA, though that's still kinda expensive SA. It's not the worst class you could have taken (the BAB, if nothing else, matters a little bit), but I'm not convinced that you need it so much that it's worth tying up the majority of your feats for it. I think I could potentially have been convinced with a more in-depth write-up, but I didn't get that.

Darkstalker comes online at ECL 18. A guard dog (whose Scent ability pierces your Hide/MS attempt) is CR 1/3. You have failed to present me with a successfully stealthy character. You attempted to be stealthy, but you paid your taxes far too late, so much of your investment (what's up with that mismatch between Hide/MS, anyway?) is significantly less useful than it should be for the amount of build currency you spend on it. I honestly wouldn't have even said anything at ECL 6 or maybe even ECL 9 (I would have had some comments at 9, but 6 woulda been fine), but this is too little, too late.

8 CON is pretty painful. You've spread yourself hella thin. I mean, I understand that you've got some kind of ability that relies on each of your three mental stats, you're obviously DEX-primary, and you've got a racial penalty to STR, but still, voluntarily accepting fewer HP? That's a cost I'm not usually happy to pay.

Let's try to find a few bright spots. You have fairly meaningful SA, though your table is hard to read and hard to figure out exactly how much you have. Are you actually combining TWF and Rapid Shot with thrown weapons? If so, that's a fair number of attacks; something like 3 for BAB 15 (see Elegance), +1 for TWF, +1 for Rapid Shot? I've seen worse. You do at least pay a modicum of attention to your offensive power. Ranged SA is hard to get off reliably, but I guess at least Cloak of Deception lets it work once per encounter most of the time. Your maneuvers are mostly chosen well, though Flesh Ripper is a real head-scratcher (you have a penalty to STR! It's a DC 12 saving throw, and it does nothing but a single attack's worth of damage if they—when they—succeed on their saving throw! Why not Soaring Raptor Strike or Death Mark or even the good old usable-out-of-combat Mountain Hammer?).

You get no credit for your stealth, but you have reasonable mobility skills, Appraise, and dungeon manipulation. Even slightly more than a token investment in Spot/Listen. You pay dearly for a lot of those skills, but your skills are overall not bad.

I've said about as many words as you did by now, so I should probably just give you a number and be done. I'm going to call this about 2.5. You're close enough to a vanilla Rogue (with a sprinkle of Swordsage) that I accept that you've got some basic usefulness, and you probably pack a little more punch on a full round of SA (when such a thing is possible) than some of your competitors do, but you'd have scored higher without the nearly-wasted points in stealth, the bizarrely poor choice of Flesh Ripper, the godawful CON, or the odd feat structure. You'd also have scored higher if you had enough ability to actually benefit from Luckstealer's abilities that it justified the cost of investment.

Elegance: 1.5

Okay, bro, this thing with your skills? You know, that thing where you list all of your total ranks (current and prior) at every level on the table but then you don't make it super easy to see which skills increased from level X to level X +1? That's literally exactly what I told you not to do. This is extremely obnoxious to read and makes it really hard to check your legality. If you want an example of how to do it better, look at literally any other build in this current round. There are all kinds of ways to do this right.

  • Hae Wyre highlights updated skills in red.
  • Splash Gordon goes above and beyond by both highlighting updated skills in boldface and by spelling out how many points are being spent on each skill. (Best in show in this department, Gordon! Keep doing what you're doing!)
  • Buckethead only lists updated skills and also spells out how many points are being spent on each one.
  • Paulie Pocket's choice to only list updated skills without spelling out points spent (except for cross-class ranks) is less good than what Buckethead does, but it's still acceptably easy to read. It's the bare minimum of acceptability, but it does, in fact, pass muster.
  • Shellie Caleesye would be better by highlighting the updated skills in some way, but at least they tell me how many skill points are being spent on each skill at each level.
  • Mellon, like Paulie Pocket, doesn't list skills that aren't being updated.
  • The Professor is like Buckethead, listing only updated skills and telling me how much each one went up.
  • Paityr highlights updated skills in boldface.
  • Ser Iaijutsu also highlights updated skills in boldface.
  • Gunnar von Sacher, like Buckethead and The Professor, only lists updated skills and tells me how big each increase is.
  • Tag Baggit subscribes to the same school as Paityr and Ser Iaijutsu, highlighting updated skills in boldface.


You, and only you, do nothing to tell me which of your skills are changing and which of your skills aren't changing. Your skills are uniquely awful to read. Can you see how much harder your skills are to read than everyone else's? Really? I know that making a skill table is miserable toil. I'm not being patronizing or sarcastic here. It is, hands down, my least favorite part of putting together a build. It truly sucks, especially if you change anything at all about your level order or about which skills you take when. But I feel like I'm playing nineteen separate games of spot-the-six-differences looking at your build table. That makes it hard to keep in my head which skills are and aren't class skills for your current class, adding to the complexity of my task. I don't care which stats go with which skills. I know that Escape Artist requires DEX and Climb requires STR. If you're putting in parenthetical text, I say use that parenthetical text to tell me how many points on each skill this level! Putting every skill on a separate line is a baby step in the right direction, but it's really, truly, genuinely not enough on its own.

I think I can be done ranting now, but this is definitely not going to help your score. This is one of the only two formatting sins that could directly affect your score this time around (the other one being failure to cite sources), but I truly did warn you about this. I said in black and white that this is wrong and I don't want you to do it. What kind of judge would I be if I were to ignore that warning the way you did? Exactly.

I work for an insurer. When we can't verify some aspect of the risk an insured is presenting to us (if we have no proof of prior coverage, for example, or if there's a loss in the household and they refuse to respond to our requests for information about the previously undisclosed driver involved), we tend to assume the worst. I'm sorely tempted to just assume that you've got a few random illegal skill points somewhere in that nightmare of a skill table. I'm not going to assume that you're illegal from start to finish, but I can't read your table well enough to prove that you're aboveboard. Considering that I specifically told you to not do this, I'm just going to count it against you.

Your BAB is not 16. I'm not sure exactly at which level you increment it when you shouldn't (the fact that you didn't include which level of each class you were taking at each character level interfered there; not classy on an already challenging table, my friend), but 4 levels of Rogue gives +3, 2 levels of Swordsage gives +1 (4), 8 levels of Hoardstealer gives +6 (10), 1 level of Luckstealer gives 0 (still 10), and 5 levels of Whisperknife gives +5 (15). Fifteen is not sixteen. You do not, in fact, get your fourth attack. So not only are you illegal in your table somewhere, you're also claiming a nontrivial benefit that you didn't earn. The difference between claiming +15 when you've earned +14 and claiming +16 when you've earned +15 is actually fairly major, for reasons that should be obvious. This doesn't look good on you. Not one bit.

Luckstealer kind of comes out of nowhere, to be honest. I appreciate using the SI's minor casting ability to qualify for a new class, but you only take one level in it (your save DC is all of what, 13? At ECL 16+? A Fighter with 10 WIS and no items beats that 65% of the time. Do you often fight Fighters with 10 WIS and no items at ECL 16+? That failure rate is some 5e BS right there. It's like you're playing 5e, but unfortunately, your enemies are not) and barely mention why it's cool for you. I like the thematics of the class, but I didn't see you actually bringing enough of the class's abilities to bear to actually have those thematics show up in a game. It would honestly be fairly easy to miss that you even have that class, so I don't think of that level as being very elegant.

I'm not impressed with anything you did regarding prereqs. You have three different PrCs, and other than a racial prereq, the only prereq overlap you have is a few ranks in Hide and MS. Not nothing, but only barely. This isn't a direct penalty or anything, but I don't see you going out of your way to deserve a bonus.

Your feats are, at a minimum, legal, and so are your PrCs.

I'm going to call this about a 1.5. You flagrantly flouted my instructions about your skill table, you tried to claim a bonus you didn't earn, your Luckstealer level is kind of out of left field, and you have very little making you actually look better aside from reasonably judiciously timed Swordsage levels, which you did do fairly well. You'd have scored higher if, well, the problems that I'm complaining about weren't in place.

Use of Secret Ingredient: 1.5

You carefully trade away Trapfinding in order to pick it up with HS, but you actually do have a reasonable score both in Search and in Disable, so I'll give you a little credit for caring about trappiness. You don't mention Trap Sense much, but it's passive and hard to show off.

You indicate that Skill Mastery is your "capstone," which is not unwarranted. You know what you didn't indicate? What skills you're choosing. So that's not much evidence in favor of you caring all that much.

You basically don't mention Hoardstealer's abilities much at all. The class's actual features are entirely absent from your 6-18 bracket. You mention that the darkvision and the spells exist, but you don't tell me why you care about any of them. I have no clue which spells you're prepping regularly or why those spells make you more awesome. You don't even mention Deep Pockets or Treasure Dowsing, and we won't bother with Hide from Dragons.

So would this build make more sense without Hoardstealer? I think it would. You'd have more room for Rogue, Swordsage, and/or Whisperknife, all of which you clearly care about more than Hoardstealer. You technically wouldn't qualify for Luckstealer, but since you don't really get any meaningful use out of Luckstealer, I'm not counting that as a major loss. Hoardstealer does very little for you, and you make no effort to optimize what it offers aside from technically using the spells to qualify for something you barely use.

I'm awarding you a 1.5. You avoid a rock-bottom score because you do in fact use the spells to qualify for something and because you keep paying at least moderate attention to the prereq skills, but you'd have scored much, much higher if you had actually told me why you care about, like, any of the features.


Final Thoughts:

This build basically just disobeyed my guidelines right and left. You made your skills impossible to read, and more importantly, you didn't spell out for me why you care about most of the choices you made. Your basic concept ("Rogue") is clear enough that I didn't have to deploy The Line on you, but I still feel like the build has all the depth of a cardboard cutout. I apologize for being harsh, but every time I tried to come up with something nice to say, I noticed something standing in the way of me being as nice as I wanted to be.