A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
You can get A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2 now at Gumroad
Page 10 of 18 FirstFirst 123456789101112131415161718 LastLast
Results 271 to 300 of 523
  1. - Top - End - #271
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    dysprosium's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    the periodic table
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    For what it's worth, I think the argument for number of entries versus number of judges is a moot point.

    Cipher Adept had 13 entries -- but only one judge. If ever there has been a round lately for multiple judges that one would have been it.

    People are going to judge if they can no matter the number of entries.

  2. - Top - End - #272
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by Amphetryon View Post
    My mother was classmates with a Patricia Bottum. Friends called her Patty.
    One of the guys I went to school with was named Alex Peden (his pants).

    Please hold off posting until I can get all of the entries up.

  3. - Top - End - #273
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Monkey See, Monkey Do
    Quote Originally Posted by Amanu Vaki
    The Basics

    Race
    Vanara
    +2 Intelligence
    +2 Wisdom
    -2 Strength
    +8 Racial bonus to climb checks
    +4 Racial bonus to balance and jump checks
    +2 Racial bonus to hide and move silently checks
    Low-light vision
    Climb speed of 20 feet
    Vanara may use either their strength modifier or dexterity modifier (whichever is higher) for climb checks
    Vanara always take 10 on climb checks, even if rushed or threatened

    Final Class Breakdown
    Monk 2 / Swordsage 8 / Shadow Sun Ninja 10

    Alignment
    Lawful Good of course, only way to qualify for both Monk and SSN levels.

    Stat Array
    Initial Ability Scores
    {table=head]Ability|score

    STR|
    6

    DEX|
    18

    CON|
    10

    INT|
    14

    WIS|
    18

    CHA|
    8
    [/table]

    Final Ability Scores
    {table=head]Ability|score

    STR|
    6

    DEX|
    23

    CON|
    10

    INT|
    14

    WIS|
    18

    CHA|
    8
    [/table]
    All Stat increases were placed in Dexterity

    Backstory
    Amanu Vaki knew from a young age that he was different. While his friends, family, and everyone he knew were all jovial and curious, perhaps to a fault, Amanu was very serious, organized, and even a bit brooding. He didn't long for the same freedoms of his kin, in fact he craved boundaries and order. This led Amanu to realize that there was a darkness within him that the others did not seem to have, or perhaps they simply did not notice.
    Amanu left his family and their unbearable follies behind and sought out a human monestary where he could have the order he needed. Within the walls of the abbey Amanu would meditate for long hours on the nature of the darkness within himself, wondering if it was a natural part of him or if it would eventually corrupt the goodness within his heart. The thought of this filled him with dread and nightmares of a twisted negative of himself. Amanu decided that he would never allow this to happen and began searching for a way to master the darkness within so as not to allow it to master him.

    The Build
    Amanu Vaki
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features|Flurry of Blows|Unarmed Damage|AC Bonus|Movement Speed

    1st|Monk 1|
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |(24) Climb 4, Concentration 4, Hide 4, Jump 4, Move Silently 4, Tumble 4|Versatile Unarmed Strike|Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist, Flurry of Blows, Monk AC|-2/-2|1d6|+0|+0 ft.

    2nd|Monk 2|
    +1
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |(6) Climb 5, Concentration 5, Hide 5, Jump 5, Move Silently 5, Tumble 5|None|Combat Reflexes, Evasion|-1/-1|1d6|+0|+0 ft.

    3rd|Swordsage 1|
    +1
    |
    +3
    |
    +5
    |
    +5
    |(8) Climb 6, Concentration 6, Hide 6, Jump 6, Move Silently 6, Tumble 6|Shadow Blade|Quick to act +1, Discipline Focus (Weapon Focus)-Shadow Hand|-1/-1|1d6|+0|+0 ft.

    4th|Swordsage 2|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |(10) Climb 7, Concentration 7, Hide 7, Jump 7, Move Silently 7, Tumble 7|None|Swordsage AC Bonus|+0/+0|1d6|+0|+0 ft.

    5th|Swordsage 3|
    +3
    |
    +4
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |(12) Climb 8, Concentration 8, Hide 8, Jump 8, Move Silently 8, Tumble 8|None|None|+1/+1|1d6|+0|+0 ft.

    6th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    |(12) Climb 9, Concentration 9, Hide 9, Jump 9, Move Silently 9, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 9|Weapon Finesse|Monk Abilities, Touch of the Shadow Sun|+1/+1|1d6|+0|+10 ft.

    7th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +4
    |
    +7
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    |(7) Climb 10, Concentration 10, Hide 10, Jump 10, Move Silently 10, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 10|None|Flame of the Shadow Sun|+2/+2|1d8|+0|+10 ft.

    8th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +5
    |
    +7
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    |(7) Climb 11, Concentration 10, Hide 11, Jump 11, Move Silently 11, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 11, Skill Trick-Shrouded Dance|None|None|+4/+4|1d8|+1|+10 ft.

    9th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +6/+1
    |
    +8
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    |(6) Climb 12, Concentration 10, Hide 12, Jump 12, Move Silently 12, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 12|Blade Meditation - Shadow Hand|Light within Darkness|+5/+5/+0|1d8|+1|+20 ft.

    10th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +6/+1
    |
    +8
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    |(7) Climb 13, Concentration 10, Hide 13 , Jump 13, Move Silently 13, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 13, Skill Trick-Acrobatic Backstab|None|Darkness within Light|+5/+5/+0|1d8|+1|+20 ft.

    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +7/+2
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    |(6) Climb 14, Concentration 10, Hide 14 , Jump 14, Move Silently 14, Perform (Dance) 5 ranks, Tumble 14|None|None|+6/+6/+1|1d10|+1|+20 ft.

    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +8/+3
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    |(7) Climb 15, Concentration 10, Hide 15 , Jump 15, Move Silently 15, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 15, Skill Trick-Extreme Leap|Superior Unarmed Strike|Void of the Shadow Sun|+8/+8/+3|2d6|+1|+30 ft.

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +9/+4
    |
    +10
    |
    +12
    |
    +12
    |(6) Climb 16, Concentration 10, Hide 16 , Jump 16 ranks, Move Silently 16, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 16|None|Child of Shadow and Light|+9/+9/+4|2d6|+2|+30 ft.

    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +9/+4
    |
    +10
    |
    +12
    |
    +12
    |(7) Climb 17, Concentration 10, Hide 17 , Jump 17, Move Silently 17, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 17, Skill Trick-Leaping Climber|None|None|+9/+9/+9/+4|2d6|+2|+30 ft.

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +10/+5
    |
    +11
    |
    +13
    |
    +13
    |(6) Climb 18, Concentration 10, Hide 18, Jump 18, Move Silently 18, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 18|Fists of Iron|Balance of Light and Dark|+10/+10/+10/+5|2d8|+2|+40 ft.

    16th|Swordsage 4|
    +11/+6/+1
    |
    +11
    |
    +14
    |
    +14
    |(9) Climb 19, Concentration 12, Hide 19, Jump 19, Move Silently 19, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 19, Skill Trick-Speedy Ascent|None|Discipline Focus (Insightful Strike) - Shadow Hand|+11/+11/+11/+6/+1|2d8|+2|+40 ft.

    17th|Swordsage 5|
    +11/+6/+1
    |
    +11
    |
    +14
    |
    +14
    |(8) Climb 20, Concentration 13, Hide 20, Jump 20, Move Silently 20, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 20, Skill Trick-Wall Jumper|None|Quick to Act +2|+11/+11/+11/+6/+1|2d8|+2|+40 ft.

    18th|Swordsage 6|
    +12/+7/+2
    |
    +12
    |
    +15
    |
    +15
    |(8) Climb 21, Concentration 14, Hide 21, Jump 21, Move Silently 21, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 21, Skill Trick-Walk the Walls|Fiery Fists|None|+12/+12/+12/+7/+2|2d8|+2|+40 ft.

    19th|Swordsage 7|
    +13/+8/+3
    |
    +12
    |
    +15
    |
    +15
    |(8) Climb 22, Concentration 17, Hide 22, Jump 22, Move Silently 22, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 22|None|Sense Magic|+13/+13/+13/+8/+3|2d8|+2|+40 ft.

    20th|Swordsage 8|
    +14/+9/+3
    |
    +12
    |
    +16
    |
    +16
    |(8) Climb 23, Concentration 20, Hide 23, Jump 23, Move Silently 23, Perform (Dance) 5, Tumble 23|None|Discipline Focus (Defensive Stance) - Shadow Hand|+14/+14/+14/+9/+3|2d8|+2|+40 ft.[/table]


    Manuevers
    {table=head]Level|Maneuvers Known|Maneuvers Readied|Stances Known|Special

    1st|
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |

    2nd|
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |

    3rd|
    6
    |
    4
    |
    1
    |Initiator Level 1

    4th|
    +1
    |
    4
    |
    +1
    |Initiator Level 2

    5th|
    +1
    |[center]5[center/]|
    -
    |Initiator Level 3

    6th|
    +1
    |
    5
    |
    -
    |Shadow Hand or Setting Sun Only, Initiator Level 4

    7th|
    -
    |
    5
    |
    -
    |Initiator Level 5

    8th|
    +1
    |
    5
    |
    -
    |Shadow Hand or Setting Sun Only, Initiator Level 6

    9th|
    -
    |
    5
    |
    -
    |Initiator Level 7

    10th|
    -
    |
    6
    |
    +1
    |Shadow Hand or Setting Sun Only, Initiator Level 8

    11th|
    +1
    |
    6
    |
    -
    |Shadow Hand or Setting Sun Only, Initiator Level 9

    12th|
    -
    |
    6
    |
    -
    |Initiator Level 10

    13th|
    -
    |
    6
    |
    -
    |Initiator Level 11

    14th|
    +1
    |
    6
    |
    -
    |Shadow Hand or Setting Sun Only, Initiator Level 12

    15th|
    -
    |
    7
    |
    -
    |Initiator Level 13

    16th|
    +1
    |
    8
    |
    -
    |Initiator Level 14

    17th|
    +1
    |
    9
    |
    +1
    |Initiator Level 15

    18th|
    +1
    |
    9
    |
    -
    |Initiator Level 16

    19th|
    +1
    |
    9
    |
    -
    |Initiator Level 17

    20th|
    +1
    |
    10
    |
    -
    |Initiator Level 18[/table]


    Manuevers Known
    {table=head]Level of Maneuver|Maneuver|Discipline|When Taken|Special

    1st|Blistering Flourish|Desert Wind|Swordsage 1|-

    1st|Distracting Ember|Desert Wind|Swordsage 1|-

    1st|Sapphire Nightmare Blade|Diamond Mind|Swordsage 1|-

    1st|Counter Charge|Setting Sun|Swordsage 1|-

    1st|Mighty Throw|Setting Sun|Swordsage 1|-

    1st|Shadow Blade Technique|Shadow Hand|Swordsage 1|-

    1st|Sudden Leap|Tiger Claw|Swordsage 2|-

    2nd|Coak of Deception|Shadow Hand|Swordsage 3|-

    2nd|Shadow Jaunt|Shadow Hand|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|-

    3rd|Shadow Garrote|Shadow Hand|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|-

    4th|Strike of the Broken Shield|Setting Sun|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|-

    6th|Ghost Blade|Shadow Hand|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|-

    3rd|Fan the Flames|Desert Wind|Swordsage 4|-

    3rd|Devastating Throw|Setting Sun|Swordsage 4|Replaces Mighty Throw

    7th|Inferno Blade|Desert Wind|Swordsage 5|-

    3rd|Insightful Strike|Diamond Mind|Swordsage 6|-

    6th|Greater Insightful Strike|Diamond Mind|Swordsage 6|Replaces Sudden Leap

    9th|Inferno Blast|Desert Wind|Swordsage 7|-

    9th|Five-Shadow Creeping Ice Enervation Strike|Shadow Hand|Swordsage 8|-

    8th|Wyrm’s Flame|Desert Wind|Swordsage 8|Replaces Blistering Flourish[/table]

    Stances Known
    {table=head]Level of Stance|Stance|Discipline|When Taken

    1st|Child of Shadow|Shadow Hand|Swordsage 1

    1st|Flame's Blessing|Desert Wind|Swordsage 2

    3rd|Assassin’s Stance|Shadow Hand|Shadow Sun Ninja 5

    8th|Ghostly Defense|Setting Sun|Swordsage 5[/table]


    Explanations

    Is that a Monkey-Man?
    I chose Vanara for the race of this build for both flavor and potency, as well as a sprinkle of the ridiculus. The Vanara's +2 in Intelligence meant an additional skill, their +2 on Wisdom is a very nice addition as it increases both armor class and save DC's for all of their major powers and abilities, the -2 a Vanara takes to Strength is really only a detriment at lower levels, you'll see why in a moment. The Vanara's bonuses to jump, balance, hide, and move silently, as well as their unrivaled climbing abilities lend perfectly to the concept of a combatant that is never in the same place twice, just as the shadow of the flickering flame this build was named for. And finally, besides all this, who doesn't love monkeys?

    Do you even lift bro?
    This has a very low Strength score. This causes a pretty big hit on low level combat abilities that begins to even out and eventually disappear at later levels through the use of the Weapon Finesse and Shadow Blade feats. Due to the Vanara's racial ability to use dexterity for climb checks this low strength does not hinder this build in most forms of movement. A low constitution has a similar effect, lowered hit points. At early levels this a big hit in combat situations. However the lower number of hitpoints is less of a hindrance at higher levels due to the evasion class feature and a high reflex save as well as an extremely high unarmored AC bonus. You may not have many hit points, but this doesn't matter if they can't hit you.

    Why all the fire? You some kind of pyro?
    Some may fault me for going with a concentration on Desert Wind rather than Setting Sun. To them I say, "Boo to You". The idea of the SSN is Shadow and Light. What says light and warmth more than fire? It just seemed a better fit for the theme of the SI.


    Level Breakpoints
    Level 1
    Unfortunately for this build, early levels are going to be extremely difficult for him. With such a low strength score, no armor, and a fairly low constitution score, melee is pretty much off the table. All he can really do is try to stay out of the way and toss a couple shuriken here and there (or maybe wing a sling). If he's caught in melee however, his ability to change the type of attack of his fists could come in handy against some low level monsters such as skeletons that are resistant to slashing and piercing, or zombies who are resistant to bludgeoning and piercing. This could, of course, come into play even at later levels.

    Level 5

    This is where things start to get a little better for Amanu Vaki. He's now attained the Shadow Blade feat, allowing him to add his dexterity modifier to damage with any of the Shadow Hand Weapons, turning his -2 damage into a +2 damage in melee. He's also managed the Weapon Focus class feature of Swordsage, offsetting his negative to-hit from the low strength by one point. And this is of course not to mention an increase in his ability to stay hidden and out of harms way (Child of Shadow Stance specifically).

    Level 10 "Sweet Spot"
    Level ten really is the point at which Amanu truly begins to shine. By this time, not only have he offset the damage penalty from his poor strength, but he has also overcome the penalty to melee accuracy through the Weapon Finesse feat and lowered his Flurry of Blows penalty by one point. Blade Meditation (Shadow Hand) has helped to increase his to-hit and damage, as well as the Save DC of his Shadow Hand strikes. Having honed his ability to trick and misdirect his enemies has brought him the power to hide within even his own shadow (Shrouded Dance skill trick and Cloak of Deception maneuver). When coupling this extraordinary level of stealth with the Shadow Sun Ninja ability of Light within Darkness Amanu Vaki begins to be able to dispatch his enemies with ease and at the speed of shadow. From this point forward Amanu will be focusing on increasing his efficacy with his unarmed strikes and his abilty to move quickly and stealthily through his surroundings.

    Level 15
    At this point Amanu has reached the pinnacle of the Shadow Sun Ninja prestige class counting as a level 12 Monk for the purposes of Unarmed Damage, Stunning Fist uses, Armor Class Bonus, and Flurry of Blows progression. He also counts as a level 13 Initiator when determining the highest level maneuver he may choose to learn. In addition to this, he has found a new way to use the same chi that he channels for the use of stunning blows, he may simply increase the damage dealt by his fists, this cannot be avoided by those previously immune to the old use of that chi. He has also trained his fists to the same deadly force of a much more experienced monk (Superior Unarmed Strike).

    Level 20
    Now Amanu Vaki effectively counts as both a level 12 Monk and a level 18 Initiator in addition to his mastery of shadow and light through SSN levels. He is a formidable warrior by any standard. His foray into the study of Chi, Shadow, Light, and Fire have yielded extraordinary results, in addition to his concentration in the Martial Disciplines of Desert Wind and Shadow Hand, he has also learned to focus his Chi into a flame all its own (Fiery Fists feat). His speed, stealth, and mobility on the battlefield is nearly unmatched. The Ninja of the Flickering Flame truly lives up to his name, burning his foes from every angle and disappearing again as quickly as the shadows from a flame.

    Use of the Secret Ingredient
    I was actually excited to see this SI; I'm a huge fan of Monks and the martial arts. After reading the description and abilities of the SSN, I saw the concept of Shadow and Light, Fire and Ice, so I ran with that.
    I've used several aspects of the Shadow Sun Ninja, however, none more so than Light within Darkness and Darkness within Light. In fact, quite a bit of the Ninja of the Flickering Flame build's combat strategies center around these two SSN abilities. I know that eschewed as much of the Setting Sun Discipline as possible beyond that which was neccessary for the prereq's of the SI. Instead I felt that the fire based techniques of the Desert Wind Discipline fit much better with the SI's theme of Light and Dark. I then ran with the concept of Shadow and Light, Fire and Ice.

    Throwing some Gas on the Fire
    Just some magic items that bring the build up to a whole new level of power.
    Monk's Belt - Unarmed damage and AC bonus brought up to 2d10 and +3 as well as granting an additional use of Stunning Fist per day.
    Bracers of Armor +8 - Furthering the untouchability of the build.
    Robe of Blending - further improving the builds ability to hide.
    Amulet of Mighty Fists +5 - furthering damage output of his fists.
    Boots of Speed - speeding around the battle field and striking at the speed of shadow to the next level.
    2 Gloves of Storing - allowing the quick retrieval and storing of the sais.
    +2 Returning Sai of Flaming Burst
    +2 Returning Sai of Icy Burst - furthering the fire and ice, shadow and light theme.
    Ring of Invisibility - gauranteed hide checks in the midst of combat.
    Ring of Blinking - instant movement.
    Major Circlet of Blasting - Light-based cheese, mostly for flavor but you can't sneeze at 40 (60 vs undead) points of light damage either.
    Cape of the Mountebank - Even more instant movement.

    Sources Used
    Player's Handbook (Monk, Feats)
    Player's Handbook II (Feats)
    Complete Warrior (Feats)
    Complete Adventurer (Feats)
    Complete Scoundrel (Skill Tricks)
    Tome of Battle (SS, SSN, Maneuvers, Feats)
    Oriental Adventures (Vanara Race)
    Dungeon Master's Guide (Just for the Gas)

  4. - Top - End - #274
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Well, he's no Hulking Hurler, but he's got a trick or two up his sleeve
    Quote Originally Posted by Gleam
    Twilight's Last Gleam/Dawn's First Glare

    Important bits: Gleam, to my friends: Neutral Good Male Tasloi Duskblade 5/Swordsage 3/Soldier of Light 2/Shadow Sun Ninja 10 with Strength 10, Dexterity 14, Constitution 14, Intelligence 14, Wisdom 14, and Charisma 12.
    Spoiler
    Show
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features
    1st|Duskblade 1|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |Knowledge (Religion) 4, Spellcraft 4, Climb 4, and Hide 4|Arcane Disciple (Destruction)|Arcane Attunement, Armored Mage (Light)
    2nd|Duskblade 2|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |Climb 5, Hide 5, Sense Motive 2|--|Combat Casting
    3rd|Duskblade 3|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +1
    |
    +3
    |Climb 6, Hide 6, Sense Motive 4|Improved Unarmed Strike|Arcane Channeling
    4th|Duskblade 4|
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +1
    |
    +4
    | Climb 7. Hide 7, Sense Motive 6|+1 to Dexterity|Armored Mage (Medium Armor)
    5th|Duskblade 5|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +1
    |
    +4
    |Hide 8, Climb 8, Sense Motive 8|--|Quick Cast 1/d
    6th|Swordsage 1|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |Hide 9, Climb 9, Concentration 6|Combat Expertise|Quick to Act +1, Discipline Focus (Shadow Hand)
    7th|Soldier of Light (Deities and Demigods, pg. 208) 1|
    +6
    |
    +6
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |Concentration 10|--|Detect Undead, Turn Undead
    8th|Soldier of Light 2|
    +7
    |
    +7
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |Hide 10, Climb 10|+1 Wisdom|Divine Grace, Smite Undead
    9th|Swordsage 2|
    +8
    |
    +7
    |
    +4
    |
    +7
    |Hide 12, Climb 12, Sense Motive 12|Extra Smiting (Smite Undead)|Ac Bonus (Wisdom)
    10th|Swordsage 3|
    +9
    |
    +8
    |
    +4
    |
    +7
    |Hide 13, Climb 13, Sense Motive 13, Concentration 13, Martial Lore 2|--|--
    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +9
    |
    +10
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |Hide 14, Climb 14, Sense Motive 14, Concentration 14, Martial Lore 4|--|Monk Abilities, Touch of the Shadow Sun
    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +10
    |
    +11
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    |Hide 15, Climb 15, Sense Motive 15, Concentration 15, Martial Lore 6|Blade Meditation (Shadow Hand), +1 Dexterity|Flames of the Shadow Sun
    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +11
    |
    +11
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    |Hide 16, Climb 16, Sense Motive 16, Concentration 16, Martial Lore 8|--|--
    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +12
    |
    +12
    |
    +8
    |
    +11
    |Hide 17, Climb 17, Sense Motive 17, Concentration 17, Martial Lore 10|--|Light Within Darkness
    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +12
    |
    +12
    |
    +8
    |
    +11
    |Hide 18, Climb 18, Sense Motive 18, Concentration 18, Martial Lore 12|Shadow Blade|Light Within Darkness
    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +13
    |
    +13
    |
    +9
    |
    +12
    |Hide 19, Climb 19, Sense Motive 19, Concentration 19, Martial Lore 14|+1 to Wisdom|Darkness Within Light
    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +14
    |
    +14
    |
    +10
    |
    +13
    |Hide 20, Climb 20, Sense Motive 20, Concentration 20, Martial Lore 16|--|Void of the Shadow Sun
    18th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +15
    |
    +15
    |
    +11
    |
    +14
    |Hide 21, Climb 21, Sense Motive 21, Concentration 21, Martial Lore 18|Gloom Razor|Child of Shadow and Light
    19th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +15
    |
    +15
    |
    +11
    |
    +14
    |Hide 22, Climb 22, Sense Motive 22, Concentration 22, Martial Lore 20|--|--
    20th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +16
    |
    +15
    |
    +11
    |
    +14
    |Hide 23, Climb 23, Sense Motive 23, Concentration 23, Martial Lore 22|+1 Dexterity|Balance of Light and Dark[/table]

    Spoiler
    Show
    Build Idea
    The idea for this build comes the flavor for the SI: A martial artist who studies the balance between good and evil, light and dark; and an oft-ignored part of Deities and Demigods: Elishar and Taldoth, the sample Dualism religion. From there, a class that gave me EVERYTHING to meet Soldier of Light's prerequisites was needed. Then suddenly, Duskblade! Arcane Channeling, along with Negative and Positive Energy allow me to meet the fluff flavor, "studying the balance between good and evil". And from there, the seed of this build started germinating.

    Spoiler
    Show
    Level Breakdown
    Level 1-5
    Spoiler
    Show
    Gleam was found by a human couple a few weeks after he was born, his parents and village slaughtered by undead. As he grew, his new parents raised him in the faith of Elishar. His magical talent sparked one day, and he was sent to train with the village militia. He trained hard, and took to the soldier life quite easily. Then everything went South. The same undead that ravaged his old village attacked his current one. He fought long and hard, and eventually defeated the undead force, only to find that he was one of the few survivors. He buried the dead, making sure to prevent their resurrection, and packed his bags.


    At this point he plays as a hit-and-run Duskblade. His small size and lack of strength do not lend him to front-line battle that well, and he knows this. His preferred spells keep him out of range, allow him to move into range and then right back out, or weaken his foes so he can get away. Arcane Channeling, and Quick Cast are the high points of this quadrant.

    Levels 6-10
    Spoiler
    Show
    He traveled for days, living off of mercenary jobs, not really looking for much, until he heard rumor of a temple. It promised knowledge and power, perhaps the power to bring back his village. So he trekked there, and after a few days, he arrived, to see three humans training. One was bedecked in Full Plate, wielding a greatsword glowing with light. This hurt his eyes, but it was glorious enough that he didn't close his eyes. Another was clad in shadows, the lack of light around him protecting him and shielding him from attacks and observation. The third had both light and dark in his hands, channeling them with ease and skill. He strode forward, and spoke up, in his heavily accented Common. "Greetings, warriors, I am called Shivael. I wish to train under your master!" The one wielding the brilliant blade smiled.

    "Greetings, Shivael. I am Akoris Dawnsword." He strode forward. "Soldier of Light."

    The one clad in shadows stepped forward. "I am Diavilos Maratein, student of Sword of Night."

    Then finally, the one who seemed to be in true balance stepped forward. "I am Duncan Rosenschilt, student of the Shadow Sun, and if you seek to train here, you are welcome." And so did the young Tasloi train here.


    Here, Gleam picks up his three levels of Swordsage and his two levels of Soldier of Light. Most of his maneuvers are dedicated to getting around (Shadow Jaunt), ensuring he can resist his foes' spells and attacks (Moment of Perfect Mind, Action Before Thought, Baffling Defense), or weakening his foes (Strength Draining Strike), while his Soldier of Light Levels are there to give him positive energy channeling and spells, as well as a smite useful against that which has caused him so much hurt. The high points here are Divine Grace, and Wisdom to AC.

    LEVEL 11-15 Sweet Spot
    Spoiler
    Show
    The young Tasloi was training here, the nine years he spent shaping him into a champion of justice and a sneak beyond compare. Something happened in his fifth year of study when he happened upon a text that held unsettling implications for the faith of Shivael, or as he was now called, Gleam. It postulated that Elishar and Taldoth weren't two deities, but one that had fragmented. Shiv thought back to his childhood, told to welcome the sun even though it caused him discomfort, and fear the moon. He prayed and he prayed every night for a fortnight, until Duncan called for him one night. "What is the matter, apostle Gleam?" He asked.

    "W-well, sir, I found a book, and it said that Elishar and Taldoth were one and the same, and I've been thinking on it and praying on it, and I don't understand it. How can that be?" He asked, reasonably confused.

    "Knowledge is power, young one. You read the Tome of Balance, an old manuscript once deemed heretical, until my grandfather came to the temple, demonstrating the exact same powers that I am learning now.

    "Can you teach me? I know a little about being a champion, and little about sneaking."

    "I can indeed, youngling, but know that you now tread a precarious path. One step too many and you will slide into extremism". Diavilos said.

    "I can do it, sir! Teach me!'

    At this point, Gleam gains his first five levels of the SI. It seems odd, doesn't it? Taking knightly classes into a stealth-focused class like the SI? But that's the beauty of it. You can sneak with the best of them, fight with the best of them, and still be a good looking son of a crossbow. You pick up Touch of the Shadow Sun and Flames of the Shadow Sun, giving you some of neat tricks. Allied with a Dread Necro? Heal his minions (or him), and then heal yourself. Got a Belt of Battle and facing down a Red Dragon? Activate FotSS, eat the breath weapon, and then spend a charge for an action to sling off ice at the offending winged, spellcasting reptilian. With your Light Within and Darkness Within features, your sneaking becomes incredible, and if blinded, you become an even bigger threat against targets blinded by the previous effect. And you gain Monk's AC Bonus.

    Level 16-20
    Spoiler
    Show
    After the young Tasloi's last year of training, Akoris, Diavilos, and Duncan sent the Tasloi out into the world. "I have taught you as much as I could. Now you must make your own way in the world." Akoris spoke.

    "Indeed, my training has come to an end, and I wish you luck, child." Diavilos said.

    "And I suppose that leaves me. You have taken well to the lessons all three of us taught, and have indeed taught us that even the smallest fire may burn brighter than a thousand suns. May the light of Elishar and the shadow of Taldoth bless you." Duncan said to Shivael, now called Twilight's Last Gleam. The newly minted Tasloi adult left the temple and went out into the big wide world to make his name.

    Finally, out of that stuffy old temple. But on a more serious note, you gain Void of the Shadow Sun. Having trouble being hit? Toss up VotSS and laugh in the face of enemies with a +2 Deflection bonus to AC, and if they hit, laugh as they eat 8d6 Cold damage. Child of Shadow and Light? Dazzle foes (and yourself incidentally, unless you have immunity at this point, which you should), and then laugh next turn as you gain concealment from your foes, proccing Gloom Razor shenanigans. Finally, there's Balance of Light and Darkness, not all that impressive a capstone, unless you count partial Undead traits to be unimpressive. Healed by negative energy (with no word on positive energy ANYWHERE IN THE DESCRIPTION), no poison, no disease, no mind affecting, no ability drain or damage, no crits, even more Hide bonus, +4 against creatures in darkness, and an option to bestow negative levels with your fists, at the cost of one Constitution damage per level, with fluff relating to Dispater, who is the most awesome Archduke of the Nine Hells ever. There are many ways around this, but I'm not concerned about that. This is merely a breakdown.

    Spoiler
    Show

    Tactics
    1. Sneak in
    2. Attack
    3. If Swarmed, use a throw or Shadow Jaunt and duck out of the way
    4. ????
    5. Profit

    Spoiler
    Show

    Strengths
    • Versatility- You have Arcane and Divine Spells, significant stealth ability, and a lot of good options in your maneuvers.
    • Teleportation- You have ways of moving without moving your legs.
    • Stealth- With your high Hide bonus, as well as all the options generate cover available, the only reason someone should see you is if you want to be seen.
    • Cost- Not a very expensive build to arm, really.

    Spoiler
    Show
    Weaknesses
    • Feats- This is a feat intensive build.
    • One-trick pony- Really, your whole schtick is to sneak in, smack, throw someone into his friends, and get the flock out of Dodge.

    Spoiler
    Show
    Items
    • Gloves of Dexterity +6 (36K GP)
    • Periapt of Wisdom +6/Constitution +6 (both if possible) (72K GP)
    • Belt of Battle (12K)
    • +5 Shadow Hand Setting Sun Shortsword (98,310 GP)
    • Boots of Speed (12K)
    • Ring of Negative Protection (36K)
    • +5 Mithral Twilight Chain Shirt (37,250)
    • +5 Heavy Mithral Shield (26,159)
    • Cloak of Charisma +6 (36K GP)


    And that's only a partial list. Anything else is up to the player in question. Personally, I would grab some Ioun stones, but they aren't completely necessary. I like the sustenance stones myself, as well as they Insight bonus to AC Ioun Stone.

    Spoiler
    Show

    Adaptation
    Flaws: Grab Blindfight and Blindsight,5 ft radius.

    Try with Bard, Sorcerer, or another Charisma Class.

    Academic Priest (Legend of the Twins, pg. 11) is another good option. Intelligence determines your Bonus Spells and what level spells you can cast, but not your DCs, and since Soldier of Light uses the Paladin spell list, you might be able to finagle Battle Blessing and the Paladin spells from your DM.


    Maneuvers and Stances
    {table]Level|Shadow Hand|Setting Sun|Diamond Mind|Desert Wind
    1|Shadow Blade Technique, Child of Shadow|Mighty Throw, Step of the Wind|Moment of Perfect Mind|Blistering Strike
    2|Shadow Jaunt|Baffling Defense|Action Before Thought|--
    3|Strength Draining Strike, Assassin Stance|Feigned Opening|--|--
    4|--|Comet Throw|--|--
    6|Stalker in the Night|Ballista Throw|--|--
    [/table]

    Spells
    {table]Level|Name|DC
    0|Touch of Fatigue, Acid Splash, Ray of Frost, Disrupt Undead|12
    1|Inflict Light Wounds, Shocking Grasp, True Strike, True Strike, Expeditious Retreat|13
    2|Dimension Hop|Swift Fly|14
    [/table]

  5. - Top - End - #275
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Man, Bruce Lee wishes that the mummified template was real...
    Quote Originally Posted by Kher-ra Reedayl
    Kher-ra Reedayl

    LG Mummified Asherati (LA 4) - Monk2 (decisive strike ACF)/Swordsage 3/Shadow Sun Ninja 10/Swordsage 1


    On alignment:
    Spoiler
    Show
    This build uses mummified template found in Libris Mortis. It says your alignment is always LE, which is bad for us as we need LG for our monk/shadow sun ninja. It is assumed that this character is allowed to use LG alignment by the DM. There is even argument in Libris Mortis that mummies are the ones most prone to alignment shift towards neutral or good. Still if this is issue, it stops the build right there.


    Story:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Kher-ra Reedayl was young inquisitive asherati girl. She was close to her maturity and she was travelling a lot to feed her curiosity and to find her place in the life. The story we are following here started when she visited a small temple dedicated to the god of sun, Re-Horakhty. She already spent two weeks with monks and priests of the sun god and she enjoyed her stay there. She even decided to join them, seeing her ability to light her body up as a sign that she is close to the sun god. Before she could be fully initiated, the temple was raided by a ruthless war band of new self-proclaimed emperor who worshiped Set. Some monks and priests were killed, other were enslaved. Kher-ra was one of the enslaved few and was dragged in chains to work on a new temple for Set.

    The work was very hard and Kher-ra was always quite fragile and prone to diseases. She wanted to escape, but she was always kept chained as every other asherati was, to keep them from escaping by their sand-swimming abilities. If Kher-ra learned something during her travels, it was to never give up. She had a sharp mind and was quite perceptive so she soon found out a weakness that could be exploited and allow her and few others to escape. Kher-ra and the other slaves set the plan in motion during the night. They started freeing themselves of chains thanks to tools that they hid in advance and ran into the desert. However Kher-ra was too weak already, and could not pry her chains off. Another asherati tried to help her, but was forced to leave her as the guard was coming to see what was going on. The alarm was raised and Kher-ra knew she was to face the consequences. Next day she was on of many slaves that were executed as a punishment and warning to others.

    While many stories would end here, this was just beginning.

    She was mummified, her corpse filled with dark magic, and prepared to be the defense of the temple should it ever be invaded. Kher-ra woke up 400 years later, when the temple was uncovered in the sands and entered by band of treasure seekers. Only thanks to her monastic training, strong will and sharp mind, she was able to keep her sanity and not give up to the dark magic that was forcing her to kill everything living. Realizing she was influenced by the temple magic, she ran away, buried herself in sand and swam as fast as she could. The further she was, the calmer she felt. However she realized what she has become and felt that she is a stain on the face of the world. She was afraid to show her face to the sun and her god ever again. She drifted through the sands for days, mostly being left alone by the waste creatures. But after all that travelling she found herself standing at ruins of the small temple where she was about to be initiated. She entered the ruins and for first time since she was awakened she prayed to her god. She prayed all night and when the sun was rising and first rays touched her, she was given a vision. She talked with her god, and was given answers to her many questions and more importantly a new life purpose.

    She understood that there is no light without darkness and vice versa. There always must be balance and that is her new quest given to her by Re-Horakhty. She was learning how to balance her inner light and darkness, how to disguise herself so she can go and help people living in the wastes. She even found few friends, who didn’t judge her by what she is on the outside, but by what is in her heart. Kher-ra traveled a lot again and did good where she could, hoping that one day, during her little sunrise talk with her god, she will be told, that she did enough good to warrant her an eternal rest she is seeking.


    Ability scores:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Str:12 (+8) = 20/+5
    Dex:16 = 16/+3
    Con:8 (-) = -
    Int:14 (-4) = 10/0
    Wis:16 (+4) = 20/+5 (All bonuses from lvls go here)
    Cha:10 (+4) = 14/+2

    Mummified creature gives us +8 str, -4 int, +4 wis, +4 cha and takes away con score. It sets all HD to d12, gives bunch of undead immunities, slows us down by 10ft, sets natural armor to +10, gives 1d8 slam attack, despair ability, mummy rot, DR 5/- and fire vulnerability.


    Build:
    Spoiler
    Show
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Monk 1|
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |Hide 4, Move Silnetly 4, Spot 4, Balance 4 |Improved Unarmed Strike(b), Stunning Fist (b), Pharaoh’s Fist, Heat endurance (b)|Unarmed Strike (1d6), AC bonus, Decisive Strike

    2nd|Monk 2|
    +1
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    | Hide 5, Move Silnetly 5, Spot 5, Balance 5 |Combat reflexes (b)|Evasion

    3rd|Swordsage 1|
    +1
    |
    +3
    |
    +5
    |
    +5
    | Hide 6, Move Silnetly 6, Spot 5, Balance 5, Tumble 4 |Darkstalker, Weapon Focus (Shadow hand) (b)|Quick to act +1, IL:2

    4th|Swordsage 2|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    | Hide 7, Move Silnetly 7, Spot 5, Balance 5, Tumble 6, Disguise 1(2) |-|AC bonus in light armor, IL:3

    5th|Swordsage 3|
    +3
    |
    +4
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    | Hide 8, Move Silnetly 8, Spot 5, Balance 5, Tumble 8, Disguise 1(2), Survival 1(2) |-|IL:4

    6th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    | Hide 9, Move Silnetly 9, Spot 6, Balance 5, Tumble 9, Disguise 1(2), Survival 1(2) |Superior Unarmed Strike |Touch of the Shadow Sun, Monk Abilities (1d10, +10ft), IL:5

    7th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +4
    |
    +7
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    | Hide 10, Move Silnetly 10, Spot 7, Balance 5, Tumble 10, Disguise 1(2), Survival 1(2) |-|Flame of Shadow Sun, IL:6

    8th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +5
    |
    +7
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    | Hide 11, Move Silnetly 11, Spot 8, Balance 5, Tumble 11, Disguise 1(2), Survival 1(2) |-|Dodge bonus +1, IL:7

    9th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +6
    |
    +8
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    | Hide 12, Move Silnetly 12, Spot 9, Balance 5, Tumble 12, Disguise 1(2), Survival 1(2) |Sand Dance |Light Within Darkness, +20 ft, IL:8

    10th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +6
    |
    +8
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    | Hide 13, Move Silnetly 3, Spot 10, Balance 5, Tumble 13, Disguise 1(2), Survival 1(2) |-|Darkness Within Light, IL:9

    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +7
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    | Hide 14, Move Silnetly 14, Spot 11, Balance 5, Tumble 14, Disguise 1(2), Survival 1(2) |- |2d6 ,IL:10

    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +8
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    | Hide 15, Move Silnetly 15, Spot 12, Balance 5, Tumble 15, Disguise 1(2), Survival 1(2) |Sand Spinner |Void of the Shadow Sun, +30ft, IL:11

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +9
    |
    +10
    |
    +12
    |
    +12
    | Hide 16, Move Silnetly 16, Spot 13, Balance 5, Tumble 16, Disguise 1(2), Survival 1(2) |- |Child of Shadow and Light, Dodge bonus +2, IL:12

    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +9
    |
    +10
    |
    +12
    |
    +12
    | Hide 17, Move Silnetly 17, Spot 14, Balance 5, Tumble 17, Disguise 1(2), Survival 1(2) |- |IL: 13

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +10
    |
    +11
    |
    +13
    |
    +13
    | Hide 18, Move Silnetly 18, Spot 15, Balance 5, Tumble 18, Disguise 1(2), Survival 1(2) |Pain Touch|Balance of Light and Dark, 2d8, +40ft, IL:14

    16th|Swordsage 4|
    +11
    |
    +11
    |
    +14
    |
    +14
    | Hide 19, Move Silnetly 19, Spot 18, Balance 5, Tumble 19, Disguise 1(2), Survival 1(2) |- |Discipline Focus (Shadow Hand)

    17th|LA +1|
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |-|-|-

    18th|LA +2|
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |-|-|-

    19th|LA +3|
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |-|-|-

    20th|LA +4|
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |-|-|- [/table]


    Maneuvers and stances:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Maneuvers:
    At lvl 3 (swordsage 1, IL 2)
    Wind Stride (DW)
    Shadow Blade Technique (SH)
    Clinging Shadow Strike (SH)
    Countercharge (SS)
    Wolf Fang Strike (TC) (*Swapped out at swordsage 2)
    Sudden Leadp (TC)

    At lvl 4 (swordsage 2, IL 3)
    Cloak of Deception (SH)
    Shadow Jaunt (SH) (*Swapped for Wolf Fang Strike at swordsage 2 and swapped out at swordsage 4)

    At lvl 5 (swordsage 3, IL 4)
    Mountain Hammer (SD)

    At lvl 6 (shadow sun ninja 1, IL5)
    Feigned Opening (SS)

    At lvl 8 (shadow sun ninja 3, IL 7)
    Obscuring Shadow Veil (SH)

    At lvl 11 (shadow sun ninja 6, IL 10)
    Mirrored Pursuit (SS)

    At lvl 14 (shadow sun ninja 9, IL 13)
    Shadow Stride (SH)

    At lvl 16 (swordsage 4, IL 15)
    Death in the Dark (SH) (*Swapped for Shadow Jaunt)
    Hydra Slaying Strike (SS)

    Stances:
    lvl3: Flames Blessing
    lvl4: Hunters Sense
    lvl10: Dance of the Spider


    Tactics:
    1st lvl:
    Spoiler
    Show

    At first level, you are not much. You are just a monk and therefore skirmisher/scout. You can do some combat controll with your stunning fist and pharaoh's fist, but it's only 1/day. Because of your mummified condition, you have quite good AC, DR 5/- and usable imunities and saves. Your despair ability can also shut down low will enemies for a while. You should probably use your slam attack for melee as it does better damage then unarmed strike now. The bad thing is, you are lvl1 with 4 LA template and so you are squishy. You have 12 hps in party of lvl5 ppl, which is bad. You will probably just spend most of your time carrying stuff, throwing alchemical fire and covering in the back. Also, you have immunity to poison, so use poisons freely. It might not be "Good", but are about balancing between good and bad and it helps your character to survive it's early stage. If you are in party where everyone has 4 LA for free, you are most likely behind in terms of power too, as 4 LA gives you a lot of things to play with.

    5th lvl:
    Spoiler
    Show
    At fifth level, you are doing a bit better. You are still skirmisher/scout with same tactics as when you were lvl 1, but you have ability to wear light armor and lose nothing, darkstalker protects you from most ways of detection and you have some maneuvers to play with. You are also ready to jump in the Shadow Sun Ninja for all it's goodness. You should also stay in Flames Blessing stance for protection against fire in combat and Hunters sense for scent for out of combat. Still, staying in melee is not such a good idea. You have d12 for hit points, but no way to add con to it, so your HPs are probably lowish. You must hope your AC and DR will hold you up.

    10th lvl:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Getting better at stuff with each level! Yes, you are and always be skirmisher/scout type, but you are getting good at it. Shadow Sun Ninja stacking with monk is good for you, more stunning attempts, rising your unarmed damage (+ superior unarmed strike to boost it even more) and rising your speed which was cut down a bit by your template. If you feel speed isn't needed, you can also continue to wear light armor. Touch of Shadow Sun lets you heal yourself and also heal your party for free (but be wary of mummy rot, get a glove or something), Light Withing Darkness lets you blind all who haven't seen you coming (which should be almost everyone) and Darkness Withing Light lets you close your eyes to get bonuses against blind enemies. Since your attack bonus is lowish, you can use Touch of Shadow Sun to deliver some damage, mummy rot and stunning fist at once to do some combat control.

    12th lvl (highlight):
    Spoiler
    Show
    Ok, here you get all the combat controll you need. You are hidden and ambush your enemies. Move in with tumble. They have to roll for despair, versus dazzle thanks to your asherati ability (every enemy in 30ft radius, DC 10 +1/2 lvl +cha), versus blindness thanks to Light Within Darkness (everyone who hasn't seen you in 60ft radius, DC 10 +1/2 lvl +wis), versus blindness again thanks to Sand Spinner feat (5ft radius if you moved and used tumble for at least 10ft, DC 10 +1/2 lvl +wis) and then eat your (touch) attack with stunning fist (DC 10 +1/2 lvl +wis, everyone adjacent to target as well thanks to Pharaoh's fist feat) with extra bonuses if you attack blinded oponent. Use sudden leap to get out or activate belt of battle for extra move action to get out. Since almost every enemy should be blinded now and you have darkstalker to avoid other senses, you should be able to repeat this in next round again (withouth despair and dazzle), if your party didn't just wipe out everyone.

    15th and 16th lvl:
    Spoiler
    Show
    You are at the end of your journey. You have more maneuvers to use, DCs are a bit higher as well as your skills and attack bonus. Pain touch feat allows you to disable enemy for 2 rounds instead of one on stunning fist attempt which is good. Balance of Light and Dark has no ill effects on you thanks to your undead template so you can use it without worrying much.


    Recommended items:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Monk‘s belt (13 000 gp), DMG pg. 128
    Bracers of armor +8 (64 000 gp), DMG pg. 250/Light armor of your choice if you don't care about movement that much
    Anklets of translocation (1 400 gp), MIC pg. 71 (everyone needs this)
    Tome of clear thought +4 (110 000 gp), DMG pg. 268 (most of your stuff is WIS centered, more wis is better)
    Wis/Cha/Str/Dex items +6 (36 000 gp each), DMG
    Belt of Battle (12 000 gp, needs to be added to Monk's belt for extra money), MiC
    Necklace of natural attacks (600 + enh.) SS
    Phoenix cloak (50 000 gp) MIC pg. 210
    Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis (10 800 gp) ToM (handy but probably not needed that much)



    Options and comments:
    Spoiler
    Show
    First things first, asherati race. It seemed to fit in nice with it's bonus to hide and move silently and the Body Lamp ability seemed nice to Shadow Sun Ninja. Sandswim ability is icing on the cake, because as written I see it as earth glide through sand, ash and dust, which is nice for sneaky type. Mummified creature was to get easy immunities for Balance of Light and Dark. Sure you could do it cheaper, with say necropolitan or Talisma of Undying Fortitude, but it mummies fit well into sand and that is the theme of this build. Asheratis heat endurance bonus feat is helping your mummy to survive fire spells even easier.

    I also choose monk + swordsage to enter shadow sun ninja because it seemed as good combo. Unarmed swordsage is just suggestion of how to do it and it misses the improved unarmed strike feat. Pure monk would be also very limited in his feat selection to get maneuvers in time to enter. This combo works well, you get wis to AC even in light armor and only loose speed which you can get back other ways or you can just use bracers of amor and keep speed. You also get proficiences that your monk side lacked as well as maneuvers. Swordsage on the other hand gets bunch of free feats and evasion.

    On the other hand LA 4 hurts quite a lot. You are behind in everything compared to normal characters. LA buyoff won't help much as you get to buy of only 1 LA at lvl 12. It is still good as it allows you to get another swordsage lvl (but you are already in xp penalty for multiclassing if you play with those things at table) and thus another maneuver and more importantly lvl8 stance. Balance on the sky is great for example. Anyway, if you are playing in game where everyone is allowed 4 LA for free, you are going to be behind the power curve again. Mummified gives some nice bonuses, but you can get a lot more for 4 LA. If you can talk your DM to lower the LA or let you buy it off at some faster and more meaningful rate, it would be real blessing for this character.

    With LA and undead type comes one big disadvantage. Hit points shortage. You have d12, but no way to add con score to it as you have none. This means you will be lagging behind hps even with this big d12. You could take improved toughness for +1hp/lvl thing, but it's probably not going to save you. There are ways to solve this, but they are DM dependant. First: Some undead got special quality, that allows them to use cha instead of con for determining hps. This isn't that great as you are not cha centered, but it helps. Second: Ask your DM if you can be made by Dread Necromancer with corpsecrafting feats. This with desecrated altar would grant you bunch of abilities, like more hps, bonus damage, extra speed and so on. This is cheesy though and as already said, DM territory.

    As has been said, you are monk/swordsage/shadow sun ninja. You fight unarmed and do combat controll with your abilities. This means, you are item dependant as probably every other melee/unarmed fighter. You get some flexibility from your maneuvers and stances and you already got covered quite a lot of things thanks to your undead immunities, but still, you miss a lot of things.


    Sources:

    Spoiler
    Show
    Player‘s Handbook (monk)
    Player's Handbook II (monk ACF)
    Dungeon Master Guide (items)
    Magic Item Compendium (items)
    Tome of Battle (swordsage, ssn, feats)
    Savage Species (necklace)
    Sandstorm (feats, race)
    Libris Mortis (mummified creature)
    Lord of Madness (darkstalker)
    Complete Warrior (pain touch)

  6. - Top - End - #276
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Who's the true King of Nunchucks?
    Quote Originally Posted by Cowboy
    Cowboy
    Iron Chef Optimization Challenge <XLVIII> Shadow Sun Ninja

    Background
    Spoiler
    Show
    Dedicated to Ivan - Cowboy -
    Always the gentleman was Ivan, always there to lend the hand when needed, worked hard and long at everything he did. until the great conflict called for him.
    and though Ivan was not a true soldier he certainly knew how to hold his own in a fight while gifted with power fair few could grasp, he only used it when in need.
    sly and stealthy he was quick and quite, those he sought rarely knew the man that delt the blow. life was not to hard for the man with the gift during the great conflict
    and when it was over the man turned to the life of a cowboy and worked a ranch until his bitter end.<R.I.P. Ivan>
    Race: Human
    Alignment: any Good


    Build
    Spoiler
    Show
    Build
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Psychic Warrior 1|
    0
    |
    2
    |
    0
    |
    0
    |Autohypnosis 4, Concentration 4, Knowledge (psionics) 4, Psicraft 2, Intimidate 4|HBF:Weapon Focus (Nunchaku), lvl0:Dodge, psionic Fist|-

    2nd|Psychic Warrior 2|
    1
    |
    3
    |
    0
    |
    0
    |Autohypnosis 5, Concentration 5, Psicraft 2.5, Intimidate 5|Greater Psionic Fist|-

    3rd|Psychic Warrior 3|
    2
    |
    3
    |
    1
    |
    1
    |Psicraft 3, Ride 2, Intimidate 6|lvl3:Tashalatora|-

    4th|Psychic Warrior 4|
    3
    |
    4
    |
    1
    |
    1
    |Psicraft 3.5, Search 2, Intimidate 7| - |<Ability dex +1>

    5th|Psychic Warrior 5|
    3
    |
    4
    |
    1
    |
    1
    |Psicraft 4, Ride 3, Search 3, Intimidate 8|Martial Study feat Shadow Hand 1st: Shadow Blade Technique|-

    6th|Psychic Warrior 6|
    4
    |
    5
    |
    2
    |
    2
    |Ride 5, Search 5, Intimidate 9|lvl 6:Practiced Manifester |-

    7th|Psychic Warrior 7|
    5
    |
    5
    |
    2
    |
    2
    |Knowledge (psionics) 5, Swim 3, Intimidate 10|-|-

    8th|Psychic Warrior 8|
    6/1
    |
    6
    |
    2
    |
    2
    |Swim 5, Climb 2, Intimidate 11|Martial Study feat Setting Sun 2nd: Baffling Defense|<Ability dex +1>

    9th|Monk 1|
    5
    |
    4
    |
    10
    |
    7
    |Hide 6, Intimidate 12|lvl 9:Versatile Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist, flurry of blows, unarmed strike –2/–2 1d6 +0 +0 ft

    10th|Monk 2|
    6
    |
    5
    |
    11
    |
    8
    |Hide 8, Move Silently 4, Intimidate 13|-|Monastic Training, evasion –1/–1 1d6 +0 +0 ft.

    11th|Monk 3|
    7
    |
    7
    |
    13
    |
    8
    |Move Silently 5, Sense Motive 5, Intimidate 14|-|Still mind +0/+0 1d6 +0 +10 ft.

    12th|Monk 4|
    7
    |
    9
    |
    15
    |
    10
    |Escape Artist 5, Listen 1, Intimidate 15|lvl 12:Unavoidable Strike|<Ability wis +1>, Ki strike (magic), slow fall 20 ft. +1/+1 1d8 +0 +10 ft.

    13th|Monk 5|
    8
    |
    10
    |
    16
    |
    11
    |Listen 5, Spot 2, Intimidate 16|-|Purity of body +2/+2 1d8 +1 +10 ft.

    14th|Monk 6|
    9
    |
    11
    |
    17
    |
    11
    |Spot 5, Balance 3, Intimidate 17|-|Improved Disarm, slow fall 30 ft. +3/+3 1d8 +1 +20 ft.

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    10
    |
    11
    |
    17
    |
    11
    |Balance 5, Martial Lore 4, Intimidate 18|lvl 15:Blade Meditation|Monk abilities, touch of the Shadow Sun

    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    11
    |
    11
    |
    17
    |
    11
    |Martial Lore 5, Tumble 5, Intimidate 19|-|<Ability wis +1>, Flame of the Shadow Sun

    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    12
    |
    12
    |
    18
    |
    12
    |Knowledge (religion) 5, Knowledge (arcana) 1, Intimidate 20|-|-

    18th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    13
    |
    13
    |
    19
    |
    13
    |Knowledge (arcana) 5, Knowledge (the planes) 2, Psicraft 4.5|lvl 18:Combat Reflexes|Light within darkness

    19th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    14
    |
    13
    |
    19
    |
    13
    |Knowledge (the planes) 5, Diplomacy 3, Craft Nunchaku 1|-|Darkness within light

    20th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    14
    |
    13
    |
    19
    |
    13
    |Diplomacy 5, Psicraft 5|-|<Ability cha +1>
    [/table]


    Stats
    Spoiler
    Show

    Starting Ability Scores: 32pt buy
    Str - 13
    Dex - 16
    Con - 12
    Int - 14
    Wis - 14
    Cha - 09

    Final Ability Scores:
    Str - 13
    Dex - 18
    Con - 12
    Int - 14
    Wis - 18
    Cha - 10


    Armor, Weapons, Items & Equipment
    Spoiler
    Show

    Armor, Weapons, Items & Equipment
    {table=head]Equipment Name|Information|Cost
    Nunchaku|N/a|5
    Dagger|N/a|2
    Standard Adventurer’s Kit|N/a|15
    Periapt of Wisdom +2|+2 enhancement wis|4,000
    Gauntlets of Weaponry Arcane|overcomes damage reduction as if it were a magic silvered weapon 1 lb.|6,000
    Ring of adamantine touch|Melee attacks treated as adamantine for overcoming DR|6,000
    Ring or Protection +5|N/a|50,000
    Monk’s belt|AC and unarmed damage as monk of five levels higher, extra uses of stunning attack|13,000
    Monk’s outfit|N/a|5
    Monk's Tattoo|increases UAS, speed, ac as though a monk of 4 level higher|80,000

    [/table]


    Maneuvers
    Spoiler
    Show

    Maneuvers
    {table=head]Level|-|-|Known|-|Readied|-|Known|-|-|-

    1st|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    2nd|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    3rd|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    4th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    5th|-|-|1|-|1|-|-|-|-|-

    6th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    7th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    8th|-|-|2|-|2|-|-|-|-|-

    9th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    10th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    11th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    12th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    13th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    14th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    15th|-|-|3|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    16th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    17th|-|-|4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    18th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    19th|-|-|-|-|1|-|1|-|-|-

    20th|-|-|5|-|-|-|-|-|-|-[/table]
    ***
    Shadow hand level 1
    Shadow Blade Technique:
    Strike—Roll two attacks, use lower result to deal bonus cold damage.

    setting sun level 2
    Baffling Defense:
    Counter—Use Sense Motive check to dodge attack.

    setting sun level 2
    Clever Positioning:
    Strike—Swap positions with target of attack.

    Shadow hand level 3
    Assassin’s Stance:
    Stance—Gain sneak attack +2d6.


    Psionics
    Spoiler
    Show

    Psionics
    {table=head]Level|-|-|PP/Day|-|Known|-|level|-|Mantle|Mantle

    1st|-|-|0|-|1|-|1|-|-|-

    2nd|-|-|1|-|2|-|1|-|-|-

    3rd|-|-|3|-|3|-|1|-|-|-

    4th|-|-|5|-|4|-|2|-|-|-

    5th|-|-|7|-|5|-|2|-|-|-

    6th|-|-|11|-|6|-|2|-|-|-

    7th|-|-|15|-|7|-|3|-|-|-

    8th|-|-|19|-|8|-|3|-|-|-

    9th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    10th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    11th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    12th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    13th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    14th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    15th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    16th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    17th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    18th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    19th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    20th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-[/table]


    Level Breakdown
    Spoiler
    Show

    Level 1
    Level 1 Personally if this gets dings for the history I don't care.
    the character starts with useage of the Nunchaku

    Level 5
    while gaining psionic powers and abilities the character focuses on the Nunchaku and unarmed strike for offensive

    Level 10
    continued with the power buildup of the characters Nunchaku and unarmed strike

    Level 15
    this is probly the level where the character's power is truely relized for the Nunchaku and unarmed strike are nearly at full potential

    Level 20
    the character fully achieves the Nunchaku, and unarmed strike potential.


    Use of the Secret Ingredient
    Spoiler
    Show

    while the SI is not fully used for all ten levels I felt the characters potential as designed was fully achieved with only 6 levels of ninja.


    Sources
    Spoiler
    Show

    PHB
    XPH 24
    Cph 57
    SoS 119
    ECS 57
    PHB2 85
    TOB 28, 125

  7. - Top - End - #277
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Shadow Sun Ninja of Legacy?
    Quote Originally Posted by Suzaku
    Suzaku
    Iron Chef Optimization Challenge <XLVIII> Shadow Sun Ninja

    Background
    Spoiler
    Show
    several hundred years ago there once was a monk known as Li-Peng, A famous teacher at the five cherry blossoms monastary, who had a pupil transform his arm bones into a magnificent Nunchaku.
    over the years word had spread and eventually reach the young ears of Suzaku. Without a doubt she wanted more than anything to obtain for herself the Nunchaku of legend.
    while in training as a young rogue she found that when pick pocketing things from poeple she knew were bad, she would nearly always end up giving the value to a church or temple as a donation for the less fortunate.
    once during her first year she encountered an humanoid known only as bart blackman a very skilled thief, Suzaku knew if she could get the purse it would allow her to get passage to the east where the five cherry bossom monastry stood.
    so suzaku approched bart and made a wager that she could do something he could not, placing little value in her skills as an upstart bart decided that no matter the odds he could win. so she bet him that he could not balance the very
    dagger he owned on its tip and have it stand upon the round marble she held out. Bart had done this trick many time before and accepted all to hastly. setting the marble on a post and applying just enough pressure bart upended the dagger
    on the marble and just as he let go something happened he did not expect the dagger fell and before it hit the dirt, bart knew he had lost and droped the coin purse, turned and walked away. <Monk’s Cunning>
    while in training susaku founf she liked how the short sword felt and decided to focuse some effort into mastering the weapon. her mentor seeing this decided that the ways to the thief were not for suzaku
    she was sent to a new mentor to learn the skills of a warrior it was a year later that her mentor decided to teach her how to use the weapon she often spoke of wishing to own.
    Suzakus training with the Nunchaku began and it was though watching a natural talent emerge and become a deadly talent. over the next couple years her mentor taught her many things and she still continued to occasionally
    take things from beings she knew were bad in her eyes and give that to the local temple as a donation.
    it was on one such trip to a local monk order monastary that the monk master convinced her to learn the ways of the monk order. She bid her former mentor farwell and entered into the monastary, knowing its teaching could
    help her in her quest to get to the five cherry blossom monastary that the legendary monk teacher was at. over the next several years of training as a monk suzaku had been tasked with delivering goods to an orphanage
    several days journey away this was her task to do alone. while on the road to the orphanage around dusk near a lake suzaku was attacked by several creatures whom in formation, threw spears, she aprtly dodged them all and before she knew what
    she faced they were engaged in melee combat, the first of the four fell to suzakus blow before they could strike the Kuo-toa and suzake fought for several minutes while sustaing hits from the Kuo-toa, Suzaku was continueing to drop them
    with blows from her Nunchaku, and after what seemed like a great length of time she stoof over the corpses of the dead Kuo-toa, and then took their items and burryed the corpses.<Martial Whirlwind>
    once at the orphanage the master of the orphanage tended to the wounds suzaku sustained while in the battle, though the master was not sure why the Kuo-toa woould want the food that was being transported.
    the items that were taken from the corpses of the dead were sold and the coin given to the master of the orphanage before susazu return to the monastary.
    upon her return her teacher and master told her of the road to the monastary of the five cherry blossoms and said she was ready to learn from the shou disciple that was a teacher there.
    after many days travel suzaku reachedthe port to a ship that would take her near where the monastary stood, and for the few coins she bought passage and spent the next week in meditation
    apon reaching the port near the five cherry blossoms monastary suzaku bid her fellow passengers farwell and stared up the long road to the monastary.
    Once she reach the monastary she was greeted by a monk who seem a a child to suzakus eye, when she gave the name of the shou disciple who was to be her techer the monk replied that
    her teacher was in the west wing and that she would be shown the way. after greating her master suzaku was given a room and food before learning of her tasks and what was expected as a student
    of the shou disciple. over the next year she trained hard every day and learned what her teach had to offer and every so often asked about the great monk Li-Peng and his teachings.
    it was not until this year had passed that suzaku was finally shown where Li-Peng’s sepulcher was located, but was told that she was not ready to go there.
    the teacher started training her in an art form she learned with ease learning new maneuvers and skills the second year at the monastary seamed to go by as though it was just a day.
    her teacher informed her that she was ready to go and visit Li-Peng’s sepulcher. after preparing for the days journey to the sepulcher she set out on the path.
    and opon reaching the location sat faceing the rising sun in prayer and meditation, she was unaware of time as she sat in meditationthe warm of the sun faded and grew several times.
    after what only seemed like a day she return to the monastary to the delight of her teacher whom was concerned for it had been neary five days.<Li-Peng’s Road> after some discussion suzaku inquired how she might behold
    the Bones of Li-Peng the teacher said that if she was worthy to behold the weapon that she could all she needed to do was walk into the sacred chamber and com back out with the bones of Li-Peng
    knowing fully that to enter the sacred chamber was death to any who was unworthy to even set a foot within suzaku stood at the entry and pulled the door open and set foot within.
    and finding that she was not dead she walked to the place where the Nunchaku had laid for several hundread years and took it up, placing it within her sash and walked out enlightend.
    Over the next several years suzakus training continued and she after a time began training a few new monks, as her pupils they would be taught the things she knew.
    Race: Elan
    Alignment: Lawful Good

    with blows from her
    Build
    Spoiler
    Show
    Build
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Rogue variant 1|
    0
    |
    0
    |
    2
    |
    0
    |Hide 4, knowledge (Religeon) 4, tumble 4, listen 4, spot 4, search 4, move silent 4|lvl0:Weapon focus (Short Sword), rbf:two weapon fighting|trapfinding

    2nd|Swordsage 1|
    0
    |
    0
    |
    4
    |
    2
    |martial lore 4, climb 3|Weapon Focus (Nunchaku)|+1 initiative

    3rd|Rogue variant 2|
    1
    |
    0
    |
    5
    |
    2
    |open lock 4, disable device 3|lvl3:Endurance, rbf:Dodge|Evasion

    4th|Swordsage 2|
    2
    |
    0
    |
    6
    |
    3
    |knowledge (local shou-expatriate) 4, sense motive 3| - |AC bonus, <Ability dex +1>

    5th|Monk 1|
    2
    |
    2
    |
    8
    |
    5
    |hide 8, climb 4|Stunning Fist, Improved Unarmed Strike|

    6th|Monk 2|
    3
    |
    3
    |
    9
    |
    6
    |disable device 4, sense motive 4, use magic device 3|lvl 6:Falling Sun Attack, Combat Reflexes|evasion

    7th|Monk 3|
    4
    |
    3
    |
    9
    |
    6
    |umd 4, survival 2, swim 2|-|Still mind

    8th|Monk 4|
    5
    |
    4
    |
    10
    |
    7
    |survival 4, swim 4, concentration 1|-|<Ability dex +1>, Ki strike (magic), slow fall 20 ft.

    9th|Monk 5|
    5
    |
    4
    |
    10
    |
    7
    |concentration 4, handle animal 2|lvl 9:improved two weapon fighting|Purity of body

    10th|Monk 6|
    6
    |
    5
    |
    11
    |
    8
    |martial lore 8, ride 1|Improved Disarm|slow fall 30 ft.

    11th|Shou Disciple 1|
    7
    |
    7
    |
    13
    |
    8
    |ride 4|-|unarmed 1d6, dodge bonus +1, unarmed strike

    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    7
    |
    9
    |
    15
    |
    10
    |escape artist 5|lvl 12:Sense Weakness|<Ability wis +1>, Monk abilities, touch of the Shadow Sun

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    8
    |
    10
    |
    16
    |
    11
    |Knowledge (the planes) 5|-|Flame of the Shadow Sun

    14th|Shou Disciple 2|
    9
    |
    11
    |
    17
    |
    11
    |survival 5, umd 8|Combat Expertise|unarmed 1d8, dodge bonus +2

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    10
    |
    11
    |
    17
    |
    11
    |handle animal 5, ride 5, escape artist 6|lvl 15:Deft Opportunist|New Class Abilities

    16th|Shou Disciple 3|
    11
    |
    11
    |
    17
    |
    11
    |handle animal 6, ride 6, concentration 5|-|<Ability wis +1>, unarmed 1d10, dodge bonus +2, martial flurry(light)

    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    12
    |
    12
    |
    18
    |
    12
    |knowledge (history) 4, tumble 5|-|Light within darkness

    18th|Shou Disciple 4|
    13
    |
    13
    |
    19
    |
    13
    |knowledge (religeon) 7|lvl 18:snap kick, Combat Reflexes|unarmed 1d10, dodge bonus +3

    19th|Shou Disciple 5|
    14
    |
    13
    |
    19
    |
    13
    |knowledge (history) 7|-|unarmed 2d6, dodge bonus +3, martial flurry (any)

    20th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    14
    |
    13
    |
    19
    |
    13
    |balance 5|-|<Ability cha +1>, Darkness within light
    [/table]


    Stats
    Spoiler
    Show

    Starting Ability Scores: 32pt buy
    Str - 13
    Dex - 16
    Con - 12
    Int - 14
    Wis - 14
    Cha - 09

    Final Ability Scores:
    Str - 13
    Dex - 18
    Con - 12
    Int - 14
    Wis - 18
    Cha - 10


    Equipment
    Spoiler
    Show

    Armor, Weapons, Items & Equipment
    {table=head]Equipment Name|Information|Cost
    Monk’s outfit|N/a|5
    Monk’s belt|AC and unarmed damage as monk of five levels higher, extra uses of stunning attack|13,000
    Monk's Tattoo|increases UAS, speed, ac as though a monk of 4 level higher|80,000
    +2 Mithral Ghost Touch Short Sword <setting sun>|N/a|8,310
    Dagger|N/a|2
    Periapt of Wisdom +2|+2 enhancement wis|4,000
    Gauntlets of Weaponry Arcane|overcomes damage reduction as if it were a magic silvered weapon 1 lb.|6,000
    Ring of adamantine touch|Melee attacks treated as adamantine for overcoming DR|6,000
    Ring or Protection +5|N/a|50,000
    Bones of Li-Peng -Nunchaku|N/a|54,000
    ** Flurry of blows +3/+3, unarmed strike 2d10|ac bonus 3, speed bonus +30
    ** Rogue Variant: Gain: Bonus feats|(as fighter). Lose: Sneak attack.
    [/table]


    Maneuvers
    Spoiler
    Show

    Maneuvers
    {table=head]Level|Class|-|Known|-|Readied|-|Known|-|-|-

    1st|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    2nd|-|-|6|-|4|-|1|-|-|-

    3rd|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    4th|-|-|7|-|4|-|2|-|-|-

    5th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    6th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    7th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    8th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    9th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    10th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    11th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    12th|-|-|8|-|4|-|2|-|-|-

    13th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    14th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    15th|-|-|9|-|4|-|2|-|-|-

    16th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    17th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    18th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    19th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    20th|-|-|9|-|5|-|3|-|-|-[/table]
    ***
    setting sun level 1
    Counter Charge:
    Counter—Ruin charge attack, force charging foe to move away from you

    setting sun level 1
    Mighty Throw:
    Strike—Grab foe, throw him up to 10 ft.

    Shadow hand level 1
    Clinging Shadow Strike:
    Strike—Foe suffers 20% miss chance on attacks.

    Shadow hand level 1
    Island of Blades:
    Stance—You and allies flank all adjacent foes.

    Shadow hand level 1
    Shadow Blade Technique:
    Strike—Roll two attacks, use lower result to deal bonus cold damage.

    setting sun level 2
    Baffling Defense:
    Counter—Use Sense Motive check to dodge attack

    setting sun level 2
    Clever Positioning:
    Strike—Swap positions with target of attack.

    Shadow hand level 2
    Cloak of Deception:
    Boost—Turn invisible until the end of your turn.

    Shadow hand level 3
    Assassin’s Stance:
    Stance—Gain sneak attack +2d6.

    Shadow hand level 3
    Shadow Garrote:
    Strike—Ranged touch attack deals 5d6 points of damage

    setting sun level 4
    Strike of the Broken Shield:
    Strike—Attack deals +4d6 damage, makes target flat-footed.


    Level Breakdown
    Spoiler
    Show

    Level 1
    Level 1 while not truely involved as thief the fighting skills here are usefull later on.

    Level 5
    Level 5 training with the Nunchaku as the characters primary weapon while the short sword fills in as a nice secondary.

    Level 10
    Level 10 seems that this is the logical break point from monk training the character is still developing in its power

    Level 15
    Level 15 while intermixing the shou disciple levels with the sun ninja the character sees close to full potential here

    Level 20
    Level 20 the character could continue with sun ninja as epic levels but the class abilities later on did not seem to fit with the purpose/planing of the character


    Use of the Secret Ingredient
    Spoiler
    Show

    While only takeing five shadow sun ninja levels it is felt that the character's overall flow works


    Sources
    Spoiler
    Show

    PHB
    PHB2 216
    MIC 104, 121
    Dragon Magic 101
    DMG 248, 263
    Dcn 106
    ToB 15, 31, 32, 33, 126
    CAdv 106
    CWar 99
    UE 32
    MoF 163
    UA 58

  8. - Top - End - #278
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Eye of the TigerLion
    Quote Originally Posted by Anh
    Spoiler
    Show

    (Under the effect of Void of the Shadow Sun)

    Anh of Lost Mountain
    NG Neraphim Mulhorandi Divine Minion of Anhur Wolf Totem Barbarian 5/Warshaper 4/SSN 10

    Build
    Spoiler
    Show
    Point buy: Str 11/Dex 10/Con 16/Int 12/Wis 17/Cha 8
    Stats in lion form: Str 21/Dex 17/Con 15/Int 12/Wis 17/Cha 8

    Level bonuses: Wis +5
    Final stats: Str 11/Dex 10/Con 16/Int 12/Wis 22/Cha 8
    Morphic Body bonuses: Str +4, Con +4
    Final stats in lion form: Str 25/Dex 17/Con 19/Int 10/Wis 22/Cha 8

    Level Breakdown:
    Spoiler
    Show
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features
    1st|Divine Minion LA|||||||Fast Wild Shape (Lion), Fear Immunity
    2nd|Barbarian 1|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |2 Balance, 2 Hide, 2 Move Silently, 2 Tumble|Multiattack|Illiteracy, fast movement, rage 1/day
    3rd|Barbarian 2|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |2.5 Balance, 2.5 Hide , 2.5 Move Silently, 2.5 Tumble| |Improved trip
    4th|Barbarian 3|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |3 Balance, 3 Hide, 3 Move Silently, 3 Tumble|Martial Study (Setting Sun, Mighty Throw)|
    5th|Barbarian 4|
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |3.5 Balance, 3.5 Hide, 3.5 Move Silently, 3.5 Tumble| |Rage 2/day
    6th|Barbarian 5|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |4 Balance, 4 Hide, 4 Move Silently, 4 Tumble| |Track
    7th|Warshaper 1|
    +5
    |
    +6
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |5 Balance, 5 Hide, 4.5 Tumble|Martial Study (Shadow Hand, Cloak of Deception)|Morphic immunities, morphic weapons
    8th|Warshaper 2|
    +6
    |
    +7
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |6 Hide, 5 Tumble| |Morphic body
    9th|Warshaper 3|
    +7
    |
    +7
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |7 Hide, 0.5 Twisted Charge| |Morphic reach
    10th|Warshaper 4|
    +8
    |
    +8
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |8 Hide, Twisted Charge|Improved Unarmed Strike|Morphic healing
    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +8
    |
    +10
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |10 Hide, 5 Move Silently, Nimble Charge| |Monk abilities, touch of the shadow sun
    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +5
    |
    +5
    |12 Hide, 7 Move Silently, 6 Tumble| |Flame of the shadow sun
    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +10
    |
    +11
    |
    +5
    |
    +5
    |14 Hide, 9 Move Silently, 7 Tumble|Darkstalker|
    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +11
    |
    +12
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |16 Hide, 11 Move Silently, 8 Tumble| |Light within darkness
    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +11
    |
    +12
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |17 Hide, 13 Move Silently, 10 Tumble| |Darkness within light, +1 maneuvers readied
    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +12
    |
    +13
    |
    +7
    |
    +7
    |18 Hide, 15 Move Silently, 12 Tumble|Knock-Down|
    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +13
    |
    +13
    |
    +7
    |
    +7
    |19 Hide, 17 Move Silently, 14 Tumble| |Void of the shadow sun
    18th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +14
    |
    +14
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    |20 Hide, 19 Move Silently, 16 Tumble| |Child of shadow and light
    19th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +14
    |
    +14
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    |21 Hide, 21 Move Silently, 18 Tumble|Snap Kick|
    20th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +15
    |
    +15
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    |22 Hide, 22 Move Silently, 21 Tumble| |Balance of light and dark, +1 maneuvers readied[/table]

    Maneuvers and Stance
    Spoiler
    Show
    {table=head]Level|IL|Maneuvers Gained|Stances Gained
    1st|||
    2nd|1||
    3rd|1||
    4th|1.5|Mighty Throw|
    5th|2||
    6th|2.5||
    7th|3|Cloak of Deception|
    8th|3.5||
    9th|4||
    10th|4.5||
    11th|5|Feigned Opening|
    12th|6||
    13th|7|Comet Throw|
    14th|8||
    15th|9||Assassin's Stance
    16th|10|Shadow Stride|
    17th|11||
    18th|12||
    19th|13|Hydra Slaying Strike|
    20th|14||[/table]



    Anh's Story
    Spoiler
    Show
    (Note: This is rather long, so it won't hurt my feelings if you skip it.)

    I'm going to tell you something that I don't tell many people.

    I love killing.

    I love killing.

    I love tearing a man's throat out. I love crushing a head between my jaws. I don't care if it's in battle or outside. I don't care if its an enemy or a prisoner. I feel like when I kill someone, I win.

    Many people don't mind that. After all, every village needs hunters to bring home food. And they say "it's necessary to kill people during war." Or, "I understand why you would kill a murderer." Or, "he was about to force himself on a woman."

    Then one day, my mother said, "you don't need to fight so much."

    "Why not?" I thought. "A fight to the death is the best thing in life"

    She didn't agree. We stopped speaking.

    Then my friends stopped looking me in the eye. Their voices were strained when they spoke to me. Eventually they stopped meeting me altogether.

    Well. I found new friends. People who enjoyed hunting as much as I did, and the thrill of battle.

    Eventually, some of them died. Others stopped fighting for their own reasons. I never did.

    One time my father asked me, "what happened last night?" I had killed a man while drunk. I told my father he had threatened me with his sword. But I had provoked him, wanted to fight him. It had been easy, since he was drunk too. My father frowned.

    We stopped speaking too.

    I think that desire, for killing, was why Anhur chose me. When I first saw him, he appeared majestic. He drew his sword, and said, "draw, Anh." I did so and he charged at me. Though I have a steady stance, he crushed me beneath his strike. It was the hardest blow I have taken, and I have taken many since then. My blood rushed through my body. My soul lept, and I jumped to my feet.

    "Excellent." He said with a laugh. "I accept you, Anh. I will give you the freedom to kill as much as you wish. I will have you reave and massacre and spread the fear of me through the realm. Become my champion!"

    Every word he said touched the core of my being. My heart was bursting within my chest.

    "I accept!" I said.

    "Then we go." He said. "But you are too weak as you are. I will make you strong."

    My legs shortened. My hair grew. My muscles exploded in size. I cried out. It came out as a roar.

    I didn't even notice the transport. In the same instant as my change, Anhur had placed me on a rock from which I could see plains reaching the horizon. I saw a man in robes walking across these plains, and three men waiting in the grass to ambush him.

    "Go." Anhur said.

    I sprang from the stone and flew across the earth. I caught the first man in the back. The second followed seconds later. It was too fast. I took my time with the third one, enjoying the feeling of my powerful limbs holding him on the ground. I roared with pleasure at his inability to dislodge me. Then I tore him apart and devoured his insides.

    From the corner of my eye, I saw the robed man pause and bow in my direction, and understood him. I was the champion of Anhur.

    When I finished, Anhur took me to a forest, where a man was being choked to death by a snake as large as himself. I ripped it apart, and the man ran free. Then Anhur took me to a village under attack by bandits. Women screamed as their children were killed in front of them. I plunged into the village in a frenzy.

    When I calmed down, I was covered in wounds and blood. Anhur didn't take me away. I had done all he needed, so I was allowed to rest. I left the village and found a place under the open sky. I didn't know I could return to my original form at that time, nor did I care.

    I was excited for the first month. My body was made for hunting, and I loved every part of it. I followed tracks, stalked prey, and killed in my own time. I brought down beasts I never dreamed of killing as a man. I felt complete.

    But then I started to feel lonely. People ran from me when they saw me, even as a man. Streets emptied. Doors and windows shut. I attributed it to my title as Anhur's champion. It didn't occur to me that I had killed many of their friends and family, even when they had done no wrong.

    And I had no fellows, no one to sleep with, or who I could share my meals with. My friends were the beasts of the plains, but they could not understand me. I killed even more to feel good. It occurred to me that that might be the reason people feared me, but I couldn't change.

    "How can one stop doing the only thing the only thing they love in life?" I thought. "Killing is natural. It is part of life. Everyone does it to eat. Besides that, I help people! I kill criminals. I protect Anhur's people."

    I made a vow to keep others safe, to kill other thinking beings only when a life was in danger. That would be good, I thought.

    For a while, I kept the vow. I gutted a man who carried a bound woman on the back of his horse, but left the woman and horse untouched. I hunted far away from villages, so that I would not be tempted to enter a bar and start a brawl. It hurt terribly to resist.

    Then I failed. One day I saw a man rob a traveler on the plains and slew him. Though my thirst burned, I left the traveler alone.

    I could not keep my thoughts in order. I wanted so badly to kill the other man. I almost walked straight into a camp. A woman and her boy sat outside their tent, looking across the plains as though waiting for someone to return. By their look I recognized the wife and child of the robber. When the boy saw me, he pulled out a dagger and stood between me and his mother, ignoring her protests.

    I killed him with a single blow. I instantly felt shame. My insides collapsed and I stopped moving. The mother threw herself over the dead boy's body and howled. I seemed cruel to me to let her go on living without husband or child, so I killed her too. Quick and painless.

    And I felt like dying. I begged for help. Anhur did not appear. I was alone, and I felt despair.

    For a while I wandered through the plains, unsure of what to do. Anhur gave me work, but I did not care for it. I could only kill to cover the pain I felt, and killing only brought more pain. I decided to die. The decision gave me relief. The only thing I had to do then was to find a way to die.

    Jumping from a cliff didn't appeal to me, and I wasn't sure it would work anyway. I had mastered my shape-changing powers to the point that almost nothing could kill me. Nothing that I had encountered, at least.

    But I remembered that I had heard of dragons to the East. I had heard dragons were powerful, and thought that one of them might be able to kill me. I set off.

    On the way, I encountered a nomadic tribe. I was far outside my normal territory, so I decided to approach as myself. They were uncertain at first, but welcomed me. I sat at their campfire and listened to their stories. They gave me the first cooked meat I had eaten in a long time. But it was harder than I had expected to sit and eat with them. I had been on my own for years at that point. Though I was grateful, I had to dig my nails into the palms of my hands to resist killing every one of them.

    After eating, one of the elder men, named Muskar, asked me to walk with him. I accepted. After a few minutes, he spoke.

    "I am wondering if I should ask you to leave here tonight." Muskar said.

    "Why?"

    "Everyone is worried that you are a beast in man's shape, and that you will kill us all."

    "What?!" I tensed. I wasn't sure whether I was going to run away or strangle the nomad.

    "But I do not think you are a beast." Muskar continued. "I think you are a man."

    "Of course I'm a man!" I answered. "Who told you otherwise?"

    "No one. These sands, and we who travel on them, are magical. We can see things that are not apparent to others."

    I was quiet for a moment. On the one hand, it was the first time I had been accepted by anyone since Anhur had made me his champion. I was loathe to give that up. On the other hand, they were right. It made my rage burn.

    "Fine. I will leave."

    "To die?"

    I paused. Muskar waited.

    "What do you care?"

    "I care. You are a man; how could I not?"

    That took me aback. I had not heard that before.

    "It would take a long time for me to explain." I said.

    "I have time."

    "Fine." We continued walking. I told him everything: how I felt about killing, how I had left my home with Anhur, how I had lived the past years. I knew he couldn't help me, but I was grateful someone would hear my story before I died.

    As I spoke, Muskar nodded at certain times and smiled at others, but did not interrupt. When I finished, I looked at him. His face showed no fear, no disgust.

    "May I tell you about my life?" He asked. I had nothing better to do. I nodded.

    He told me. He had left his tribe as a young man, intent on becoming a great wizard in a large city. Instead, he had used his magic to alter his feelings. He told me about using spells to feel happy, using so much that he had barely enough to keep himself from starving. Like myself, he was self-sufficient, and could avoid human interaction if he chose. He became isolated. He improved his magic only enough to satisfy his own needs. Eventually, it would always stop working, and he would have to create a stronger magic. Though our stories were different, I felt I understood him.

    He also considered killing himself, but couldn't decide how to do it. Unlike me, he didn't have even enough strength to cross the desert. Nor could he save enough magic to end his own life. Seeing no way out, he resigned himself to living on the streets, spending whatever magic he had making himself happy, eating what he could find, sleeping where he found shelter. I pitied him. At least as a beast I was comfortable in the wilderness.

    But his story continued. He was found by a cleric who fed Muskar and taught him how to live without magic.

    "Do you?" I asked. I couldn't imagine giving up my life's work.

    "Yes." Muskar answered. "I'll tell you the secret. Love."

    I snorted. I had been in love many times, but each time the woman had run away in fear when she saw me kill for Anhur.

    "Not being in love." Muskar said. "Love. Helping people, particularly when it's inconvenient for myself."

    "Charity." I said.

    "Yes, you can call it that."

    "That sounds terrible."

    "I understand. But there's more to the story. Do you remember the girl who sat across the fire from you?" I didn't.

    "Well, she's my daughter. And she has a husband and child. I have a grandchild. And that never would have happened if I had stayed the way I was or committed suicide. And would you believe I spent all day playing cards with my friends? I didn't even think about using magic, and I had a good time."

    That was when I was sure he was lying. Maybe a man could give up his life's work, and maybe he could find something useful to do, but I knew there was no way he could enjoy it.

    But what I didn't understand was how he could have that smile, or look so peaceful. My instinct told me he hadn't been lying about his life in the city.

    "Would you like to try?" He asked. "Would it be worth waiting a few days before you kill yourself?"

    I considered it. I had the time.

    "It might be." I said.

    "Good. Now let me ask you: would you like to sleep on a mat in one of our tents?"

    He took me by surprise again.

    "Yes."

    "Good. Jaelia, come here!" He shouted into the tents. A young woman approached.

    "Yes, dad?"

    "We need to set up a tent for Anh to sleep in, and get a mat for him as well. He's going to stay with us for a few days."

    "Ok." She walked away. I was surprised that she accepted so quickly. Muskar smiled.

    "Just wait a few minutes, and she'll have a place for you to sleep. Now why don't we walk some more."

    I stayed 3 days with the nomads. During that time, Muskar spent every minute with me. The blow from Anhur was the hardest I've ever taken, but what Muskar asked me to do was the hardest thing I've ever done. And he only asked, never commanded.

    "You have to want it." He said.

    I wanted it. After the few days were over, I left, but not to die. I returned to my territory.

    I felt like killing again as soon as I stepped onto familiar ground. Instead, I found some men digging a well and joined them. When we finished, I went with them and found work in their village. I farmed. I ate food others prepared instead of hunting. And I visited Muskar often.

    I learned Muskar wasn't a liar. I did enjoy life without killing. Then one day, our village was attacked by passing bandits. I once again become the beast to protect my fellow villagers, but was able to stop when they were driven away. I told Muskar about the event later.

    "I think that was reasonable." He said. "You were able to protect your community from harm. Your motive was good."

    So I continued to fight, when it was necessary. I didn't go on hunting trips, but whenever a monster approached the village, or bandits came through, I chased them off.

    And just as I changed, so did my abilities. I learned to heal. I can weaken foes, rather than killing them outright. I'm not a slave to my own lust for death anymore.

    Eventually, I returned to Anhur. With his help, I can help more people than on my own. And I still owe him my strength. He seemed to have not noticed my absence, and only asked if I was still able to kill for him. I said yes, and he disappeared.

    Now you know all of my secrets. Will you stay with me?


    Level-by-Level
    Spoiler
    Show
    Levels 1-5
    RAAUGH! Anh is a lion barbarian! See Notes and Adaptations below for level one adventuring. At 2nd level, he can spend all his time as a lion, wildshape back into a human as a free action to turn door handles, and turn back as a free action. At will. Barbarian fast movement on top of that gives him 50' movement speed, which means he can move 100' before a pounce. Now add rage on top of that. And improved grab. And multiattack. At level 2, even a druid runs screaming from the raging lion with 25 STR. And note that the Lion's racial hide bonus offsets Anh's low ranks while he's in areas of tall grass or heavy undergrowth. Don't forget he's immune to fear, has the outsider type (so no charm person!), has darkvision 60' (more on that later), has a +5 bonus on jump checks (total +13 if you include his speed boosts), and a +2 racial bonus on Spot and Search checks, which never hurts for a scout (even if that scout is also a tank. He doesn't have to SPOT IT WITH MY CHEST!).
    At 3rd level, (Barb 2), he gets improved trip, which can be used on any of his attacks during a pounce. In short: the raging lion now trips for a total +17 on each attack, or +21 as a standard action.
    At 4th level, he gets Mighty Throw, whose +4 bonus on trips stacks with his +4 from improved trip and the +4 from being large sized. Yes, he can use it (and all his maneuvers, and Shadow Sun Ninja abilties) with his natural weapons, they're weapons too. Shadow Hand is just Shadow Claw in Anh's case.
    Finally, at 5th level, Anh grabs another rage/day.

    Levels 6-10
    At 6th level, Anh gains track, so assuming you're not on the DM Railroad, Anh can use his Survival ranks to find things and people.
    At 7th level, he gains Cloak of Deception 1/encounter. Not only can he hide for free, but he gets Greater Invisibility to every attack that round. Plus he enters Warshaper, making him immune to stunning and critical hits (enemy rogues, monks, and crit-fishers get eaten). And Morphic Weapons. If you aren't familiar with them, take a look at this image. Yeah, it's like that. Taking the non-broken interpretation that you only get one morphic weapon at a time (which is not supported by RAW), this means Anh can improve his bite or claw damage, or get an extra attack.
    At 8th level, he gets a +4 STR/CON boost to his lion form (i.e. his main form) from Morphic Body.
    At 9th level, he gets Morphic Reach, and really comes into his own as a tripper. Large body + large reach = no passage. Is he a tank? He's a tank.
    At 10th level, he gets fast healing 2, so the party healer never needs to waste an out-of-combat cure spell on him again, in addition to making him tougher to kill during combat, and especially if he's got a lot of time to heal because his enemy is pinned to the ground or tripped 10' away. All day and night. He also gets Twisted Charge, so those enemies laughing behind a rock are in for a nasty surprise. And he picks up Improved Unarmed Strike, added another hit to his full-attack Pounce.

    Levels 11-15
    At 11th level, Anh becomes a Shadow Sun Ninja. He adds a minimum +4 WIS bonus to his AC that grows as he increases in level. He arguably also continues to get boosts to his unarmed strike damage, unarmored speed (which he'll probably be using all the time), flurry of blows (always helpful on a Pounce), and ma-aybe Stunning Fist (which he can use, but it's not worth pushing your DM on). He picks up Nimble Charge, so now nothing can stop him from reaching his intended victim. And finally he gets his first swift-action ability: Touch of the Shadow Sun! This is great for so many reasons. First: the negative energy doesn't need to be used on a creature (just the positive), so Anh can provide infinite out-of-combat healing by destroying rocks. Second, it can be delivered by his claws. Third, he has the WIS to back it up. Who needs a cleric?
    At 12th level, he gets cold resistance from Flame of the Shadow Sun, which is nice because no one likes getting blasted by Cindy's 20+ cold orbs, and because it provides his first ranged attack if he's, say, trapped behind a Forcecage and can't pounce on the evil wizard.
    At 13th level, he gets Darkstalker. Now you might not think a lion can hide very well with his large size, but he has a +4 hide/move silently bonus (and move silently isn't even affected by size). Put him in some tall grass or heavy undergrowth, and his hide check is +25 without items. Add in Cloak of Deception for 1 round, and that becomes +45/+65 against anyone without See Invisibility. That'll come back up over the next two levels.
    At 14th level, he gets Light Within Darkness. And I was just talking about hide checks. Note this ability affects opponents only, which is good because Anh wants to use it every turn. Have you heard the loop? Blinded opponent = automatically successful Hide check. See Combos for more on that.
    At 15th level, he gets too many things! To start, he can now his maneuvers gained as a Shadow Sun Ninja: Feigned Opening and Comet Throw. By RAW, Feigned Opening can be used to attack someone while you're charging at someone else, because it doesn't say it stops the charge. So Anh runs through someone's threatened zone, bites or trips (or grapples?!) them for trying to make an AoO against him, and then pounces on someone else. And Comet Throw lets him remind people of his BFC ability. To recap: he can hit anyone within 10' of his 10x10 area, make a trip attempt at +23, deal 4d6 damage when he succeeds, then throw them at another enemy to deal them 4d6 damage and knock them both prone, and then immediately get a melee attack against that same enemy from Improved Trip. He can only ready one of the two maneuvers, and only use them once per encounter, but it's a powerful addition to his arsenal. And that now includes Darkness within Light, which adds a total of +24-32 damage across his 6-8 attacks at this level. And finally, he gains Assassin's Stance, which for the record gives him a flat 2d6 SA. Remember 13th level where I talked about that massive hide check? Sneak attack. And Cloak of Deception granting Greater Invisibility for each attack that round? Sneak attack. Light Into Darkness blinding opponents? Sneak attack. Neraphim have a racial (Ex) ability called Neraph Camouflage that makes an opponent flat-footed for one attack. Is it a Special Attack lost by Wild Shape? I don't know, ask your DM! If he says yes, SNEAK ATTACK! If none of the above suit your taste, remember that lions are nocturnal predators, and Anh has darkvision. Hint hint.

    Levels 16-20
    At 16th level, Anh gets Knock-Down! This lets him make a trip attack as a free action whenever he does 10 damage to a target. Without any items, his minimum is 8 damage per attack. Then improved trip gives him a bonus to trip and another attack if he succeeds. By RAW, Knock-Down activates against a tripped opponent, so Anh can repeat until the enemy is dead or he rolls a 1. Even if your DM says it can't, Knock-Down is still very good. And Shadow Stride, which lets him escape forcecages and appear next to allies to heal with Touch of the Shadow Sun, or close the range for Flame of the Shadow Sun, or just beat Prismatic Walls. And don't forget Anh only needs to connect with one attack to activate Light Within Darkness the next round. How about teleporting above the flying dragon and hitting him on the way down?
    At 17th level, he gets Void of the Shadow Sun, and that +2 deflection bonus makes all the difference. When is a +2 deflection bonus good? 1. When you want to add it to you +3 Dex bonus to Touch AC to dodge stray rays, and 2. when you want to be hit by the enemy whose square you're charging through so you can explode on them. Sure, it's a standard action, but remember one level ago when Anh got the move-action teleport? And at this level, it's a minimum DC23 Fort save.
    At 18th level, he becomes a child where before he was a man. While dazzling might be nothing special, the ability to create magical darkness is great because it allows Anh to hide, attack (with Darkness Within Light of course) for SA damage with Assassin's Stance, then next turn light the place up with Light Within Darkness and add more SA damage on his remaining attacks.
    At 19th level, he picks up Snap Kick for another attack on his pounce, and Hydra Slaying Strike, for the situations when teleporting around isn't as important as stopping a creature from making a full attack. Like, perhaps, a Tarrasque?
    At 20th level, he balances light and dark, but mostly makes use of the dark by draining 9 levels a round (since technically every attack he makes is an unarmed attack), healing himself and allies with Touch of the Shadow Sun, and hiding even better with the +8 untyped bonus. If you don't care about fluff, this ability reads: get a LA+8 template and immortality for free (and a vampire with 9 attacks per pounce drains 18 levels, ya know). Last but not least, he gains his second maneuver readied, so he can choose any of the 4 maneuvers he got from Shadow Sun Ninja and combine them with the two from Martial Study (fortunately, the ones he chose are always useful) for a total 4 maneuvers per encounter. And with the damage he deals, no encounter should last longer than 4 maneuvers.


    Combos
    Spoiler
    Show
    Barbarian + Good Reflex Save + Good Will Save
    You know he loves it And nothing hurts like being forced to rend your friends because you got Dominated.

    Cloak of Deception + Light Within Darkness + Pounce + IUS + Snap Kick + Morphic Weapons + Flurry?
    As stated in the Highlights, Cloak of Deception gives Anh an easy way to activate Light Within Darkness. And he has 3 natural weapons + 3 IUS + 1 snap kick + 1 morphic weapon ?+ 1 flurry, if you DM allows it, = 9 attacks per round. He's going to hit with one of them.

    Wild Shape + Improved Trip + Comet Throw + Knock-Down
    As stated in the Highlights, Anh can hit anyone within 10' of his 10x10 area, make a trip attempt at his BAB + 12, deal 4d6 damage when he succeeds, then throw them at another enemy to deal them 4d6 damage and knock them both prone, and then immediately get a melee attack against that same enemy from Improved Trip, and then attack them again thanks to Knock-Down, and then trip, and then knock-down, etc.

    Darkness Within Light + Pounce + IUS + Snap Kick + Morphic Weapons + Flurry?
    +4 damage per attack * 9 attacks = 36 bonus damage.

    Assassin's Stance + Everything
    As stated in the Highlights, almost every ability Anh has allows him to deal sneak attack damage. 2d6 * 9 = 18d6, or 63 average damage per round from Sneak Attacks. If he's using Darkness Within Light too, Anh is dealing 99 bonus damage per round.

    Void of the Shadow Sun + Pounce + Shadow Stride
    As stated in the Highlights, Anh can charge past an enemy, let them hit him, pounce on his victim, and next turn Shadow Stride back to the fool who hit him and blow him up.

    Morphic Body + Balance of Light and Dark + Pounce + IUS + Snap Kick + Morphic Weapons + Flurry?
    Morphic Body allows Anh to drain more levels with Balance of Light and Dark without becoming a vampire, if you really want to. And those 9 attacks mean 9 levels drained per round.


    Notes and Adaptations
    Spoiler
    Show
    Notes
    • If he can get one, Anh benefits from a Scarab of Invulnerability (MIC) or Talisman of Undying Fortitude (MIC) more than most builds because of the large number of attacks he can make with Balance of Light and Dark active. With either of those, he can go all out and drain 80-90 negative levels without being insta-gibbed by BoLaD's secondary effect.
    • I hope you won't penalize Anh for avoiding the final level of Warshaper, because it would have given him less than a level of Warrior (yes, the NPC class). No BAB, no save bonuses, no new abilities. Just some HP and a pair of skill points. I imagine a conversation between Anh and a Warshaping master going like this:
      "Come, warshaper! You have fought hard and well by my side for long enough. It it time for you to learn the most powerful teaching of our kind: flashmorph!"
      "I can do this already."
      "Multimorphing then!"
      "I have but one form."
      "...Then I have nothing more to teach you. Go."


    Adaptations
    • LA buyoff allows Anh to take another level of Barbarian (or any full BAB class) to get 16 BAB pre-epic.
    • Fractional BAB/Saves gives Anh +1 Ref/Will, and it's early on.
    • If you're required to have 3 maneuvers for SSN, take the following feats instead: Martial Study (Shadow Hand, Shadow Blade Technique), Improved Unarmed Strike, Martial Study (Shadow Hand, Cloak of Deception), Martial Study (Setting Sun, Mighty Throw), Multiattack, Darkstalker, Snap Kick. Martial Study can be taken at first level according to the ruling posted here by Magocrat. In the last question on that post, he says the minimum Initiator Level is 1, so even a non-martial-adept has the Initiator Level required to take a first level maneuver. This gives you a higher Hide skill early on, and a bonus pseudo-TWF that you can use during a grapple.
    • If Anh grows up in a city, he can become a Skilled City Dweller and tumble much better at low levels.
    • If your DM rules that Feigned Opening doesn't work while you're charging, or that you can't keep charging after using it, it can be switched with the very effective Devastating Throw.
    • If your campaign doesn't have a lot of enemies immune to stun, you can replace the 15th and 18th level feats with Stunning Fist and Freezing the Lifeblood for fun synergy with Assassin's Stance.
    • Just for fun, if your DM will let you use a level of commoner as a placeholder, this build is playable at level 1 just by staying wildshaped all day.



    Sources:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Planar Handbook - Neraphim
    Web - Mulhorandi Divine Minion
    Unearthed Arcana - Wolf Totem Barbarian
    Complete Warrior - Warshaper
    Tome of Battle - Shadow Sun Ninja, Martial Study, Snap Kick
    Lords of Madness - Darkstalker
    Deities and Demigods - Knock-Down
    Fire Lion picture - Capitan Mark Antony

  9. - Top - End - #279
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Let's hope that he listens to his father and doesn't fly too close to the sun...
    Quote Originally Posted by Icarus
    Icarus
    LG Wyrm of War Wyrmling Mercury Dragon Monk 2/Unarmed Swordsage 2/Shadow Sun Ninja 10/Warblade 1

    As the sun breaks, above the ground,
    An old man stands on the hill
    As the ground warms, to the first rays of light
    A birdsong shatters the still
    Spoiler
    Show
    "Within every dragon lies both the noble guardian and the terrible ravager. Tiamat's shadow dances even in Bahamut's sacred fire, yet the gleam of the Platinum Dragon's scales is just as ubiquitous, and can be found upon every fang of his sister's five maws. All comes forth from Io, and all returns to Chronepsis. Only by mastering both sides of yourself can you achieve your full potential. Only in this way can you attain the power needed to stem the tide of evil that threatens to bring doom upon us all…"

    The old kobold scowled and rapped the little dragon who had been staring out the window on the head with his stick. "Icarus, pay attention!"

    "Ow!" The wyrmling cried, lifting a clawed foreleg to rub at the point where the stick had hit, though in truth, it hadn’t really hurt. "I'm sorry master," Icarus said, "but I'm only a week old, and I'm not sure Mercury Dragons are predisposed for monastic discipline."

    "A week already? Well, then, we've no time to lose." The kobold laughed at the incredulous look on his pupil's face. "If we wait too much longer, you'll start growing up and I won't be able to teach you these things while you're young and impressionable. As for discipline," his eyes twinkled with what seemed, to Icarus' utter surprise, to be mischief, "well that's why you'll be training in the way of the Shadow Sun."

    "The Shadow Sun," Icarus asked. "What's that?"

    "This is why we listen, young one. The way of the Shadow Sun is the way of darkness and light and of their flow from one into the other. You will learn to draw on dark powers to fuel actions of the highest good. You will find blessings where the sight of others can observe only a crippling curse. You will fly from the shadow to the light and back again to perform this sublime art, and I daresay it will suit your – if you'll pardon the puns – flighty and mercurial nature better than straightforward monasticism."

    "I do like the sun," Icarus said. He seemed to have scarcely been listening, and his eyes were wandering once more toward the sunlit window.

    The old teacher sighed and once more raised his stick, though this time he only used it to gently turn the wyrmling's face back toward his own. "I can see we had best hurry this lesson along. Take heed Icarus, the power of the Shadow Sun is great, and its draw can be very tempting, but you must exercise caution with the dark powers. Even if you remember nothing else of this lesson, remember this; Do not fly too close to the Shadow Sun."

    His eyes are ablaze.
    See the madman in his gaze
    Spoiler
    Show

    Ability Scores
    Spoiler
    Show
    Point Buy: Str 16, Dex 11, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 8
    After Adjustments for Wyrmling Mercury Dragon: Str 16, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 8
    Increase Dex at 4th class level (ECL 9), Wis at 8th class level (ECL 13), and Str at 12th class level (ECL 17).
    Final Naked Ability Scores: Str 17, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 8

    The Build
    Spoiler
    Show

    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Level Adjustment |
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |-|-|-

    2nd|Level Adjustment |
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |-|-|-

    3rd|Mercury Dragon 1|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |Tumble 4, Hide 2 (cross class), Move Silently 2 (cross class), Balance 4, Spot 4, Listen 4, Escape Artist 4|Flyby Attack| Wyrm of War Sovereign Archetype, Mercury Dragon Racial Traits

    4th|Mercury Dragon 2|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    | Tumble 5, Hide 2½ (cross class), Move Silently 2½ (cross class), Balance 5, Spot 5, Listen 5, Escape Artist 5|-|-

    5th|Mercury Dragon 3|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    | Tumble 6, Hide 3 (cross class), Move Silently 3 (cross class), Balance 6, Spot 6, Listen 6, Escape Artist 6|Darkstalker|Immunity to Fire, Vulnerability to Cold, Protected Sight

    6th|Monk 1|
    +3
    |
    +5
    |
    +5
    |
    +5
    | Tumble 7, Hide 5, Move Silently 5, Balance 6, Spot 6, Listen 6, Escape Artist 6|Improved Unarmed Strike (Monk Bonus Feat), Stunning Fist (Monk Bonus Feat), Superior Unarmed Strike (Wyrm of War Bonus Feat)|Flurry of Blows, Unarmed Strike, AC Bonus

    7th|Monk 2|
    +4
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    | Tumble 8, Hide 7, Move Silently 7, Balance 6, Spot 6, Listen 6, Escape Artist 6|Combat Reflexes (Monk Bonus Feat)|Evasion

    8th|Unarmed Swordsage 1|
    +4
    |
    +6
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    | Tumble 9, Hide 9, Move Silently 9, Balance 6, Spot 6, Listen 7, Escape Artist 7|Adaptive Style|Quick to Act +1, Weapon Focus (Shadow Hand)

    9th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +4
    |
    +8
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    | Tumble 10, Hide 10, Move Silently 10, Balance 6, Spot 7, Listen 8, Escape Artist 7|-|Monk Abilities, Touch of the Shadow Sun

    10th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +5
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    | Tumble 11, Hide 11, Move Silently 11, Balance 6, Spot 8, Listen 8, Escape Artist 8|Improved Trip (Wyrm of War Bonus Feat)|Flame of the Shadow Sun

    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +6
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    | Tumble 12, Hide 12, Move Silently 12, Balance 6, Spot 9, Listen 9, Escape Artist 8|Sudden Recovery|-

    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +7
    |
    +10
    |
    +12
    |
    +12
    | Tumble 13, Hide 13, Move Silently 13, Balance 6, Spot 10, Listen 9, Escape Artist 9|-|Light Within Darkness

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +7
    |
    +10
    |
    +12
    |
    +12
    | Tumble 14, Hide 14, Move Silently 14, Balance 6, Spot 10, Listen 10, Escape Artist 10|-|Darkness Within Light

    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +8
    |
    +11
    |
    +13
    |
    +13
    | Tumble 15, Hide 15, Move Silently 15, Balance 6, Spot 11, Listen 11, Escape Artist 10|Shadow Blade, Improved Initiative (Wyrm of War Bonus Feat)|-

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +13
    |
    +13
    | Tumble 16, Hide 16, Move Silently 16, Balance 6, Spot 12, Listen 11, Escape Artist 11|-|Void of the Shadow Sun

    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +10
    |
    +12
    |
    +14
    |
    +14
    | Tumble 17, Hide 17, Move Silently 17, Balance 6, Spot 12, Listen 12, Escape Artist 12|-|Child of Shadow and Light

    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +10
    |
    +12
    |
    +14
    |
    +14
    | Tumble 18, Hide 18, Move Silently 18, Balance 6, Spot 13, Listen 13, Escape Artist 12|Gloom Razor|-

    18th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +11
    |
    +13
    |
    +15
    |
    +15
    | Tumble 19, Hide 19, Move Silently 19, Balance 6, Spot 15, Listen 13, Escape Artist 12|Martial Study (Hydra Slaying Strike) (Wyrm of War Bonus Feat)|Balance of Light and Dark

    19th|Warblade 1|
    +12
    |
    +15
    |
    +15
    |
    +15
    | Tumble 20, Hide 20 (cross class), Move Silently 20 (cross class), Balance 6, Spot 15, Listen 13, Escape Artist 12|-|Battle Clarity (Reflex Saves), Weapon Aptitude

    20th|Unarmed Swordsage 2|
    +13
    |
    +15
    |
    +16
    |
    +16
    | Tumble 21, Hide 21, Move Silently 21, Balance 6, Spot 15, Listen 15, Escape Artist 15|Travel Devotion|AC Bonus[/table]

    Stances/Maneuvers
    Spoiler
    Show
    {table=head]Level|Maneuvers Known|Maneuvers Readied|Stances Known

    8th| Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Burning Blade, Mountain Hammer|4| Child of Shadow

    9th| Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Burning Blade, Mountain Hammer, Mighty Throw |4| Child of Shadow

    10th| Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Burning Blade, Mountain Hammer, Mighty Throw |4| Child of Shadow

    11th| Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Burning Blade, Mountain Hammer, Mighty Throw, Strength Draining Strike |4| Child of Shadow

    12th| Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Burning Blade, Mountain Hammer, Mighty Throw, Strength Draining Strike |4| Child of Shadow

    13th| Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Burning Blade, Mountain Hammer, Mighty Throw, Strength Draining Strike |5| Child of Shadow, Assassin's Stance

    14th| Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Burning Blade, Mountain Hammer, Mighty Throw, Strength Draining Strike, Soaring Throw |5| Child of Shadow, Assassin's Stance

    15th| Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Burning Blade, Mountain Hammer, Mighty Throw, Strength Draining Strike, Soaring Throw |5| Child of Shadow, Assassin's Stance

    16th| Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Burning Blade, Mountain Hammer, Mighty Throw, Strength Draining Strike, Soaring Throw |5| Child of Shadow, Assassin's Stance

    17th| Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Burning Blade, Mountain Hammer, Mighty Throw, Strength Draining Strike, Soaring Throw, Balista Throw |5| Child of Shadow, Assassin's Stance

    18th| Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Burning Blade, Mountain Hammer, Mighty Throw, Strength Draining Strike, Soaring Throw, Balista Throw, Hydra Slaying Strike |6| Child of Shadow, Assassin's Stance

    19th| Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Burning Blade, Mountain Hammer, Mighty Throw, Strength Draining Strike, Soaring Throw, Balista Throw, Hydra Slaying Strike, Steely Strike, Iron Heart Surge, Mithral Tornado |9| Child of Shadow, Assassin's Stance, Hunter's Sense

    20th| Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Burning Blade, Mountain Hammer, Mighty Throw, Strength Draining Strike, Soaring Throw, Balista Throw, Hydra Slaying Strike, Steely Strike, Iron Heart Surge, Mithral Tornado, Enervating Shadow Strike |9| Child of Shadow, Assassin's Stance, Hunter's Sense, Giant Killing Style [/table]


    Fly on your way
    Spoiler
    Show
    ECL 5: As a Mercury Dragon, Icarus takes Flyby Attack at first level. Darkstalker gets nabbed at 3rd, though stealth skills aren't maxed yet. Then there's the Wyrm of War Sovereign Archetype. It doesn't get as much attention as the flashier and more kobold friendly Loredrake, but it's broken in its own special way. Long story short, it gives proficiencies in all simple and martial weapons, and a Fighter bonus feat every 4 HD. As Icarus doesn't have 4 HD yet he's still a few levels away from the point where humans get told to suck it, but the proficiencies might be handy at lower levels if you feel like making the investment in a replacement for his bite. In general though, things are pretty simple at this level. Use the 200ft perfect fly speed and make Flyby Attacks. That's about it.

    Like an eagle
    Spoiler
    Show
    ECL 10: After a quick two level Monk dip, Icarus uses a level in Swordsage to qualify for the SI. He's now got maxed stealth skills, some maneuvers to Flyby Attack with, and a few Shadow Sun Ninja abilities. Icarus can use Touch of the Shadow Sun on a Flyby Attack to smack an enemy, then fly back to his friend on one turn, then heal said friend as a swift action and make another Flyby Attack on the following turn. Since Setting Sun throws are melee touch attacks made as standard actions it's possible that you can use them to deliver the negative energy damage, making them a tad less useless for the little cat-sized dragon. Also, thanks to the Monk's unarmed speed, which the SI is so nicely progressing for us, Icarus now has 210ft perfect flight. Then there's Flame of the Shadow Sun. I'll be honest, I'm completely ignoring the blasting part of this ability, and I'll be pretty surprised if anyone finds a good use for it, especially with the awkwardness of using your next turn's swift action. Mercury Dragons are vulnerable to cold though, so getting Cold Resistance 10 as an immediate action can be handy.


    Fly as high as the sun
    Spoiler
    Show
    ECL 15: Now we're starting to get somewhere. Icarus has picked up most of the SI's abilities, and he's using them. First off, there's Light Within Darkness. Icarus' flight speed is sufficient to pretty much always be able to fly up to the best possible point and deliver the AoE blindness effect from any hiding spot, and still have enough movement left over to fly away. Once the enemy is blinded, that's where Darkness Within Light comes in. Fighting blinded halves your movement speed, but half speed for Icarus is still 115ft perfect flight at this point, which means Flyby Attack options are still open. There will be situations where you won't really want to bother, or where full speed will be necessary, but it's an option. Void of the Shadow Sun adds a bit of AC, then gives you another standard action option for your Flyby Attack (I love this feat so much) if anyone ever does manage to hit you. As with Light Within Darkness, Icarus should be able to position himself perfectly to deliver his AoE to its fullest effect, and still be able to fly off to safety after doing so. All of this is adds to the chassis of a very solid stealth build and the ability to deliver a martial strike and a Stunning Fist to just about any enemy it likes without having to stay even remotely close to them.

    But wait, there's more! Icarus is up to the level where his WBL or his Cleric buddy can be relied upon to have the alternate curse from BoVD to raise his age category readily available. It's a +4 to ECL, which cuts into your exp too much for it to be standard practice, but it's a nice little ace in the hole. But burning a standard action to use a spell/item or a move action to put on a cursed item on mid fight is lame, so we're not actually going to be using Bestow Curse for this. Nope, Mark of Justice is where it's at. It functions the same way as Bestow Curse, and can be set to trigger off any act you like, so just have one (or more realistically a bunch with different triggers) put on you and set to go off with the age curse when you make some specific predetermined free action. Now, when you need a power boost, just take a free action fire up a mark and gain a +2 to Str, a size increase to small (helping push the Str checks for your Setting Sun throws almost to the point of being passable), three HD with full BAB and all good saves, and with those HD any feat and any Wyrm of War feat (assuming you aren't starting from some multiple of 4HD) that you qualify for. Since you've got an odd number of non initiator levels (3 Dragon HD and 2 Monk levels) the three more levels in dragon increase your initiator level by 2, and so it's likely that one or both of those feats will be usable on Martial Study to gain a higher level maneuver than you previously had access to. Alternately, Distracting Attack, Great Flyby Attack, feats slotted for later on in Icarus' build progression, or any number of other feats could be useful depending on the situation.


    On your way, like an eagle

    Fly, touch the sun
    Spoiler
    Show
    ECL 20 (Sweet Spot): Over the course of the levels between 15 and 20 Icarus picks up the last couple of Shadow Sun Ninja abilities. Child of Shadow and Light is a fun little stance for him. As a dragon he's got 60ft darkvision for the darkness effect, and with his fly speed and mobile fighting style, every enemy will be within 60ft of him at some point for the light effect. Balance of Light and Dark is doing the same thing for him that it's doing for everyone else, at least until ECL 20. A dip into Warblade gets Icarus a better recovery mechanic and good old Iron Heart Surge, which he can use to de-curse himself in addition to its usual utility. Then finally, we hit our sweet spot and the real fun begins.

    Icarus has been perfectly functional up to this point, but ECL 20 is where everything really comes together. At long last, his big trick is online. For those of you who have been wondering why I've even been bothering with Setting Sun throws, this is the reason. Icarus' initiator level is 15, and hits 17 with the three levels of dragon he gains when his age has been cursed up. The third HD gained from the curse is number 21, which means he gains a feat which can be used for Marital Study(Tornado Throw), which he now meets the prerequisites for. Tornado Throw adds +2 to the trip check for every 5 feet Icarus has moved on his turn. With the Monk unarmed speed Shadow Sun Ninja has been progressing, he now has 240ft perfect flight, and picked up Travel Devotion at ECL 20. The movement from Travel Devotion counts for Tornado Throw, so after moving 240ft as a swift action and the requisite 10ft for his first throw, that's a +100 to his trip check, just from the maneuver's bonuses. To put that into perspective, the Tarrasque's opposed trip check as a colossal quadruped with 45 Str is +37. Big T is getting thrown around like a ragdoll. And there's still 470ft of movement left to go, with the ability to make another throw every 10ft, with the bonus to his trip check only getting sillier. And hey, every touch to initiate the trip is an unarmed attack, so if need be you can add a blindness AoE from Light Within Darkness if you made a successful Hide attempt on the previous turn and/or a negative level from Balance of Light and Dark with every throw. If you make a throw every 10ft, that's 48 times in the round, so anything susceptible to Light Within Darkness is going to fail its save eventually, and you can dole out enough negative levels to kill anything not immune to them extra special dead. Just be sure to have a friendly Cleric around to cast True Resurrection if you really do go that crazy with level draining. Better yet, he can set this up very quickly (free action to activate a Mark of Justice increasing his age category, swift action to activate Travel Devotion, and full-round action to ready Tornado Throw with Adaptive Style, maybe another few turns worth of swift actions to turn on Balance of Light and Dark and/or Child of Shadow and Light), and can do it repeatedly thanks to the ability to recover Tornado Throw as a swift action with his 1/day Sudden Recovery or the Warblade recovery mechanic. So yeah, move 480 to 720ft with perfect flight, fling your enemies around with ridiculous ease, and hand out blindness or negative levels on top of that if it strikes your fancy. Travel Devotion is only 1/day without a Turning pool, but even with only the 480 feet from Tornado throw, the trip check is up to +192 (Tornado Throw) +4 Improved Trip + 4 Str – 4 Small size = +196 by the end of the maneuver.


    Now the crowd breaks and a young boy appears
    Looks the old man in the eye
    As he spreads his wings and shouts at the crowd
    In the name of God my father I'll fly.

    Spoiler
    Show
    Uses of WBL
    Spoiler
    Show
    The big thing that Icarus wants is to have Marks of Justice cast on him. If you have a Cleric or Paladin buddy to do this for you, super. If you don't, well, then at least you've got all the money that other melee characters are burning on an item of permanent flight. You also need some means of removing the curses to bring your ECL back down until Iron Heart Surge comes online.

    Stat boosters would be very welcome. Icarus is more than a little MAD and doesn't really need a Monk's belt, so a Belt of Magnificence might be a worthwhile investment. Str, Dex, Con, and Wis would all like a few more points.

    A Necklace of Natural Attacks would be handy, though you don't need to pay for anything but your unarmed strike.

    If LA Buy-off is Allowed
    Spoiler
    Show
    There are a number of things Icarus could do with two extra class levels.

    The first is more or less obvious. Two class levels, one of which is in an initiator class will bring Icarus' initiator level up to 17 without age cursing shenanigans. Take one more level in Warblade, and either nab a higher level maneuver out of Iron Heart or take Douse the Flames instead of Mithral Tornado on the first Warblade level, then learn White Raven Tactics at Warblade 2. For the second level, either go with Unarmed Swordsage 3 to pick up Tornado Throw, or dip Cloistered Cleric for a few more daily uses of Travel Devotion. The Wyrm of War feat gained at 20HD can be used to snag Tornado Throw or (if you already have it) Five-Shadow Creeping Ice Enervating Strike.

    Next, there's the chance that your campaign might take up too much in-game time, forcing you to take another dragon HD or two per the rules in Draconomicon. In this case, LA buyoff can keep that from being too disastrous, ensuring that you still have enough wiggle room to fit in all the class levels that he needs.

    But I think I might like the last option best. Though the fluff of the Shadow Creature template (MotP) indicates that it should probably be inherited, the crunch doesn't say anything one way or the other. If it's ruled that it can be acquired, you can do so once you've bought off your Mercury Wyrmling LA bringing the total Level Adjustment back to +2. Shadow Creature increases the base creature's movement speed by a factor of 1.5, so you'd be looking at 340ft perfect flight at high levels, along with a bunch of other handy bonuses.


    His eyes seem so glazed
    As he flies on the wings of a dream
    Now he knows his father betrayed
    Now his wings turn to ashes to ashes his grave
    Spoiler
    Show
    The battalion marched up the hill toward the monastery. From his hiding spot Icarus watched them, and despite his master's warnings, he knew what had to be done. The little dragon spoke a single word under his breath and felt his body and mind grow with the sudden rush of years of life. His metallic scales went black as night and he took wing. Blinding light and pitch darkness flickered on the battlefield below as the forces of evil were thrown about like motes of dust beneath the wings of a Great Wyrm. The limp figures of mages fell to earth with their magic drained from them. Prone soldiers scrambled to re-organize themselves with sapped strength and blinded eyes. Again and again, Icarus flew across the battlefield, leaving chaos and devastation in his wake. Within the minute, it was done. Evil had been vanquished for the day, but a price had to be paid for such power. The darkness receded from the dragon and with it went his life energy. Icarus' body was consumed from within as if by dragon fire, and his ashes scattered on the wind.

    Now all fear the sight of Icarus' shadow as he stalks the earth and the sky, a reminder to all of the risk of flying too close to the sun.


    Fly, on your way, like an eagle
    Fly as high as the sun
    On your way, like an eagle
    Fly as high as the sun
    On your way, like an eagle
    Fly, touch the sun
    On your way, like an eagle

    Fly as high as the sun
    Spoiler
    Show
    Book of Vile Deeds: Alternate Curse to increase age category
    Complete Divine: Travel Devotion
    Dragons of Eberron: Wyrm of War Sovereign Archetype
    Dragons of Faerun: Mercury Dragon
    Lords of Madness: Darkstalker feat
    Everything else used in the build should either be from Tome of Battle or the SRD.
    The lyrics used in the formatting are from the Iron Maiden song "Flight of Icarus"

  10. - Top - End - #280
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    I've seen the good and the bad - he must be the ugly.
    Quote Originally Posted by Songtu Dai
    Soongtu Dai, CG Wild Dwarf (RoF 23) Barbarian 5/Swordsage 2/Battlerager (RoF 178) 3/Shadow Sun Ninja 10

    Starting stats: STR 16 DEX 14 CON 14 INT 10 WIS 16 CHA 6. Boost STR with level.
    Soongtu Dai
    Spoiler
    Show
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Barbarian 1|
    +1
    |
    +4
    |
    +2
    |
    +3
    |Hide 2.0, Intimidate 4, Knowledge (Religion) 2.0, Perform (Sing) 2.0|Power Attack|Rage (Whirling Frenzy SRD variant) 1/day, Spirit Totem: Lion (CCh 46), Illiteracy

    2nd|Barbarian 2|
    +2
    |
    +5
    |
    +2
    |
    +3
    |Hide 2.5, Intimidate 5, Knowledge (Religion) 2.5, Perform (Sing) 2.5|-|Uncanny Dodge

    3rd|Barbarian 3|
    +3
    |
    +5
    |
    +3
    |
    +4
    |Hide 3.0, Intimidate 6, Knowledge (Religion) 3.0, Perform (Sing) 3.0|Cleave|Trap Sense +1

    4th|Barbarian 4|
    +4
    |
    +6
    |
    +3
    |
    +4
    |Hide 3.5, Intimidate 7, Knowledge (Religion) 3.5, Perform (Sing) 3.5|-|Rage 2/day

    5th|Barbarian 5|
    +5
    |
    +6
    |
    +3
    |
    +4
    |Hide 4.0, Intimidate 8, Knowledge (Religion) 4.0, Perform (Sing) 4.0|-|View The Spirit World (CCh 46)

    6th|Swordsage 1|
    +5
    |
    +6
    |
    +5
    |
    +6
    |Balance 1, Hide 5, Intimidate 9, Knowledge (Religion) 4.5, Perform (Sing) 4.5, Tumble 1|Endurance|Quick To Act +1, Discipline Focus (Setting Sun)

    7th|Swordsage 2|
    +6
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |
    +7
    |Balance 2, Hide 6, Intimidate 10, Knowledge (Religion) 5.0, Perform (Sing) 5.0, Tumble 2|-|AC Bonus

    8th|Battlerager (RoF 178) 1|
    +7
    |
    +8
    |
    +6
    |
    +7
    |Hide 6.5, Intimidate 11|-|Rage 3/day, Gruff, Rock Gut

    9th|Battlerager 2|
    +8
    |
    +9
    |
    +6
    |
    +7
    |Hide 7.0, Intimidate 12|Close-Quarters Fighting (RoF 162), Shape Soulmeld: Strongheart Vest (MoI 40, 89)|Bonus Feat (Close-Quarters Fighting), Fearless

    10th|Battlerager 3|
    +9
    |
    +9
    |
    +7
    |
    +8
    |Hide 8|Improved Unarmed Strike|Rage 3/Day, Bonus Feat (Improved Unarmed Strike)

    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +9
    |
    +10
    |Balance 3, Hide 9, Knowledge (Religion) 6, Tumble 4|-|Monk Abilities, Touch of the Shadow Sun, New Maneuver Known

    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +10
    |
    +12
    |
    +10
    |
    +11
    |Balance 4, Hide 10, Knowledge (Religion) 7, Tumble 5|Stunning Fist|Flame of the Shadow Sun

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +11
    |
    +12
    |
    +10
    |
    +11
    |Balance 5, Hide 11, Knowledge (Religion) 8, Perform (Sing) 6|-|New Maneuver Known

    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +12
    |
    +13
    |
    +11
    |
    +12
    |Hide 12, Knowledge (Religion) 9, Perform (Sing) 7, Tumble 6|-|Light Within Darkness

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +12
    |
    +13
    |
    +11
    |
    +12
    |Balance 6, Hide 13, Knowledge (Religion) 10, Perform (Sing) 8|Pain Touch (CW 103)|Darkness Within Light

    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +13
    |
    +14
    |
    +12
    |
    +13
    |Hide 14, Intimidate 12.5, Knowledge (Religion) 11, Perform (Sing) 9|-|New Maneuver Known

    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +14
    |
    +14
    |
    +12
    |
    +13
    |Hide 15, Intimidate 13.0, Knowledge (Religion) 12, Perform (Sing) 10|-|Void of the Shadow Sun

    18th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +15
    |
    +15
    |
    +13
    |
    +14
    |Hide 16, Intimidate 13.5, Knowledge (Religion) 13, Perform (Sing) 11|Superior Unarmed Strike (ToB 33)|Child of Shadow and Light

    19th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +15
    |
    +15
    |
    +13
    |
    +14
    |Hide 17, Intimidate 14.0, Knowledge (Religion) 14, Perform (Sing) 12|-|New Maneuver Known

    20th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +16
    |
    +16
    |
    +14
    |
    +15
    |Balance 7, Hide 18, Knowledge (Religion) 15, Perform (Sing) 13|-|Balance of Light and Dark[/table]While the table above includes base stat bonuses to saves, skills are listed with ranks only.


    I have chosen to list the total number of maneuvers and stances known, at each level where he gains them, in the table below.

    Spoiler
    Show
    {table=head]Level|Maneuvers Known|Maneuvers Readied|Stances Known

    1st | - | - | -

    2nd | - | - | -

    3rd | - | - | -

    4th | - | - | -

    5th | - | - | -

    6th | 6 | 4 | 1

    7th | 7 | 4 | 2

    8th | - | - | -

    9th | - | - | -

    10th | - | - | -

    11th | 8 | 4 | 2

    12th | 8 | 4 | 2

    13th | 9 | 4 | 2

    14th | 9 | 4 | 2

    15th | 9 | 5 | 3

    16th | - | - | -

    17th | - | - | -

    18th | - | - | -

    19th | 10 | 5 | 3

    20th | 10 | 6 | 3[/table]

    Maneuvers/Stances taken by Character Level:

    6th: Counter Charge, Mighty Throw, Clever Positioning, Shadow Blade Technique, Drain Vitality, Mountain Hammer/Step of the Wind.
    7th: Shadow Jaunt/Island of Blades
    11th: Shadow Garrotte
    13th: Strike of the Broken Shield
    15th: Giant Killing Style (Stance)
    16th: Bloodletting Strike
    19th: Scorpion Parry

    Snapshots:
    1st Level:
    “Soongtu, my son, it is time for you to leave our hut and become an adult.”
    ‘Yes, father.’
    “Our family is poor. We can only provide you this quarterstaff as a weapon, along with the blowgun and poison you already know how to use.”
    ‘Yes, father.’
    “You have learned the value of staying hidden from those too large to attack, the value of scaring off those you do not wish to fight, the nature of our beliefs, and the songs of our heritage, have you not?”
    ‘Yes, father.’
    “Your anger runs hot, as is common in our tribe, Soongtu. Use this tool. However, you must always strive to balance your anger with the calm of hiding, of our beliefs, and our songs. Do not disgrace our family.”
    ‘No, father.’
    Spoiler
    Show
    Soongtu is a power attacking, lion totem pouncing, whirling frenzy barbarian. We all know that’s a strong 1st-level option, and his small size with no STR penalty makes his attacks a bit more likely to hit. He’s marginally stronger than otherwise expected defensively, as well, thanks to small size making him a bit harder to hit, his natural dwarven resistances, and fire resistance 5. His by-the-book assumed starting equipment of a blowgun (with proficiency and poison use) and poison doses for the blowgun’s darts gives him a useful, and unusual, ranged attack, while his cultural ties provide an in-game method for him to reasonably expect to be able to replenish his poison supply. His skill choices mark him as different than your standard barbarian and give him something to do out of combat. (As an aside, it’s this competitor’s understanding that drow sleep poison is explicitly not evil by RAW, and that the wild dwarf knockout poison’s incredibly similar effect should not be considered evil on the same grounds).


    5th Level:
    “Soongtu, my friend, I heard something up ahead. Come with me, quietly.”
    ‘Yes, Ketal.’
    “They look like cultists or something. Duck behind those trees until they come close enough for a better look.”
    ‘Yes, Ketal.’
    (whispered)“Does that look like the symbol of Myrkul to you?”
    ‘RAURGH!’
    “O. . .kay. . .”
    <Twelve crowded seconds pass>
    “Well, they’re dead. Any other clever ideas?”
    ‘This symbol says they do worship Myrkul. The next holy day for them is in three days, at midnight. There’s a temple to Myrkul two days from here. Should we check it out?’
    Spoiler
    Show
    Barbarian is Soongtu’s favored class, and he sticks to it, gaining more damage capacity and survivability, including some stealth capability to allow him to jump out, frenzied, on flat-footed opponents in addition to playing guard duty for the party trapfinder. With intimidate and knowledge (religion), he can even help the trapfinder with things other than hitting enemies hard. His trap sense is also helpful in that role, which is by no means his only function, as he’s more than capable as a standard heavy hitter. After carefully weighing the options, Soongtu chooses to give up improved uncanny dodge for view the spirit world, because invisible opponents are potentially more dangerous to him, and the relative benefit of improved uncanny dodge over its unimproved precursor is small. He can now use rage for more than a single combat, so he doesn’t need to pick his spots so much when using it. Cleave isn’t the sexiest feat out there, but it provides a solid return on investment, and prepares him for the prestige class ahead, without adding more sourcebooks to keep track of.


    10th Level:
    “Soongtu, we need you to go with Ketal into the high priest’s temple.”
    ‘Yes, Zejoff.’
    “Just let me check this door for <click>. . . oops.”
    <Green mist spews from a knothole in the door>
    “Feel. . . a little woozy. . . hear footsteps. . .you okay?”
    ‘RAURGH!’
    “That. . . answers that. . .”
    Spoiler
    Show
    Soongtu isn’t ready to give up on his barbarian heritage entirely, but his role as the bodyguard of the trapfinder has taught him the value of skills, versatility, and stealth. He takes this lesson to heart by taking some levels in swordsage, choosing the setting sun discipline to keep his attack routine with his quarterstaff from suffering due to swordsage’s slower BAB progression, as well as future uses of unarmed strike. Endurance is a feat tax, pure and simple, but he pays it at 6th level. With his additional skill points from swordsage versus barbarian, Soongtu invests in balance and tumble to improve mobility. Aside from mountain hammer, he selects maneuvers and stances exclusively from the setting sun and shadow hand schools, to improve his battlefield control and positioning, as well as provide some small increases to damage, which are important when he’s not raging. As an added benefit, diverting into swordsage shores up his saving throws, and provides a decent bonus (+3 before items) to his chain shirt’s AC. Because barbarian is his favored class, there are no multiclass penalties, even if the DM typically enforces them. At 8th level, he again embraces his inner rage by entering the battlerager prestige class. It gets him an immediate, additional use of rage, a bonus to intimidate which comes in all the more handy thanks to his poor CHA, and a further bonus against poison. The second battlerager level gets Soongtu, a small-sized character, close-quarters fighting as a bonus feat, which is of most benefit to characters who regularly fight larger foes - something he should expect to be doing almost exclusively by this point. At the same time, he gives a nod to the vulnerability his low CHA can provide against some spells and attacks, and learns about incarnum and the strongheart vest, which can reduce the damage to his CHA or other stats, or - later - decrease the damage he might take from the shadow sun ninja’s capstone ability. At 10th level, he gets another bonus feat: improved unarmed strike. This qualifies him for shadow sun ninja, in time to allow him to finish the class pre-epic.


    15th Level:
    “Soongtu, look out! They’re attacking from the back of that bone dragon!”
    ‘Yes, Zejoff.’ <Soongtu gestures, and one rider slumps>
    “How did you. . . never mind. There are still more!”
    ‘Yes, Zejoff.’ <Soongtu disappears, and reappears on the back of a dragon, behind the rider>
    “I don’t believe it. . . .”
    ‘RAURGH!’
    Spoiler
    Show
    Shadow Sun Ninja opens up new possibilities for Soongtu Dai. Immediately, it starts to improve and progress his unarmed strikes, and gives him both a dangerous negative energy attack and the ability to act as an emergency healer. Presumably, the positive energy from touch of the shadow sun would harm undead undead, though this is not explicit in the text. He uses the available maneuvers to pick up a ranged touch attack, improving his options against flyers beyond the blowgun and the shadow jaunt to close to melee. Flame of the shadow sun provides cold resistance to go with his fire resistance, and an additional, swift action, ranged attack. By picking up stunning fist at 12th level, he takes advantage of shadow sun ninja’s ability to progress this particular feat, as well as gaining the benefits described at the class’s later darkness within light ability. Acknowledging his frequent role as the companion of the party’s trapfinder, Soongtu picks up strike of the broken shield at 13th level as a means of adding damage while also rendering enemies flat-footed in order to assist sneak attacking allies. Light within darkness, gained at 14th level, takes advantage of his typical attack style as an ambush predator in order to blind opponents he catches unawares, while darkness within light’s benefits, gained at 15th, further improve his damage output, particularly, as mentioned, in conjunction with stunning fist. Further building off of stunning fist, Soongtu selects pain touch as his feat at 15th level. To increase the advantages he has as a small-sized combatant, he learns the giant killing style stance at this level as well.


    20th Level:
    “Soongtu, by all the gods, what is that ritual they’re doing?”
    ‘They want to turn their High Priest into a lich. Not happening.’
    “What do you mean, ‘not happening’? What do you plan on. . . where’d you go?”
    <Soongtu appears behind the High Priest and flashes a brilliant light>
    “My eyes! The ceremonial goggles do nothing!”
    <Soongtu’s form changes, he punches the High Priest’s kidneys twice, then touches the priest’s throat. High Priest collapses>
    ‘RAURGH!’
    Spoiler
    Show
    With the maneuver gained at shadow sun ninja’s 6th level, Soongtu selects the potentially devastating bloodletting strike, doubling up on the available options to do straight CON damage to an opponent. His 17th level/7th shadow sun ninja level’s void of the shadow sun provides an additional boon to his AC, as well as a nice AoE burst effect of a damage type that differs from his other attacks, increasing his versatility further. Next level, child of shadow and light provides Soongtu a way to dazzle all enemies in a 60-foot radius burst, with no save, or engulf an identical region in total darkness, or both, as well as potentially turning off extant light or darkness effects. The maneuver he selects at the 9th level of shadow sun ninja, scorpion parry, is both offense and defense in one. Balance of light and dark, the capstone ability of shadow sun ninja and final class level Soongtu gains before epic levels, is uber stylish, perfectly suited to his modus operandi to this point, and potentially dangerous to him; as mentioned before, the strongheart vest he chose to shape way back at 9th character level pays additional benefits here, providing a layer of defense against the possibility of becoming a vampire and, strictly speaking, an NPC.

    At this point, Soongtu Dai is a dangerous melee combatant, and an able opponent at range. He can attack from ambush, or slog right into a standup fight, and has the tools to attack the different weaknesses presented by multiple enemy types. Between his 4 rage uses a day, his various maneuvers and stances, and the various offensive and defensive capabilities of shadow sun ninja, he’s able to take on a single, large foe, or multiple enemies. The maneuvers and stances he gains, primarily through shadow sun ninja, allow him to manipulate the battlefield, or take advantage of it as it stands when he enters combat. He specifically works to take advantage of the progression of stunning fist that shadow sun ninja provides. He has a myriad of defenses, including: across-the-board good saves, the ability to locate invisible foes, multiple energy resistances, and the ability to generate and benefit from concealment without being hindered by it. Rage has transmogrified from his first option, to a solid secondary plan for dealing with enemies after softening them up with his shadow sun ninja abilities. It’s entirely reasonable to assert that 20th level is the sweet spot of his character build.


    Options:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Soongtu Dai has access to multiple energy types and energy defenses, so the offensive magic he’d prefer would be enhancements like vicious, collision, or lucky, while defensively he’d benefit most from gaining miss chances, an item with the darkstalker feat, and anything that allowed re-rolls of failed saving throws, particularly in light of his generally excellent saves. He can do short-range teleportation, but needs magical equipment or assistance to fly, as well. Given the option of flaws, he would take shaky and inattentive, and would shuffle cleave and endurance to 1st level, picking up extra rage and instantaneous rage to improve his damage output and survivability further at low levels.


    Sources:
    Spoiler
    Show
    SRD
    Races of Faerun
    Tome of Battle
    Complete Warrior
    Complete Champion
    Magic of Incarnum

  11. - Top - End - #281
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    He really puts the emphasis on Shadow Sun Ninja
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaltus
    The Story
    Spoiler
    Show
    “Dark is not Evil, and Light is not Good. We are both, everything in between, and nothing. To fight my foes, I hold the balance of Sun and Void on the edge of a razor. So closely that I am my own shadow, and my chi is the Sun unbound, all at once. I let my soul step into shadow a hundred times a day, and every time the Void has returned me in a flash sunlight to where I need to be to insure the victory of Good.” -Kaltus, the Walker Between
    Kaltus is between worlds, lives, and moments. Born a drow wizard in one of their shrouded cities beneath the surface of the world, he lived 500 years of hate, scheming, and ambition. Kaltus’s VoidLife, as he calls it, was the life of an archmage or nearly complete power. He used this power to lead an invasion of a peaceful elven settlement on the surface. On the very night of his death, he lead a force of drow wizards and clerics to despoil the elven settlement in the name of Lloth and destroy it completely. They had great initial success, but Kaltus was exposed to something he’d never encountered before, true beauty. The beauty of the sky at night, the beauty of the famed elven tree-homes, and most importantly the beauty in the hearts of the elves who stood, hopelessly, against Kaltus’s drow while their families fled. When the Elven High Mages arrived to stem the tide of the pillaging drow, Kaltus was still locked in a revelatory trance, staring into the beauty of the sky and contemplating honor, the mages smashed Kaltus and killed him. In the moments before the devils of the hells could claim his soul for eternity, an angel, having seem a glimmer of redemption in Kaltus’s soul, got him scourged into a hellbred, and released on the world.
    His body strong, and foreign for a drow, and his mind weaker; Kaltus wandered the world, trying to figure out what to do. The magic of his drow heritage and memories provided something strange and unique. Just as he was between heavens and hells, some strange in-between fragment of his magic lingered, and manifested over control over shadows. He manipulated the shadows, and worked the mysteries that came to him. But their came a point in his exile, where he realized he needed to earn his new life, his SunLife. Kaltus bore down, and trained his mody and mind in every meditational technique he could find.

    Finally, after years it paid off. His skill in shadow magic combined with his physical mastery of his body through the training of the Sun School of monks, left him with a breakthrough. Kaltus could gather the world around him…and step outside it. He found the Void within the World. Walking between Void and Sun, Kaltus opposed demons, devils and drow wherever they could be found. He studied the hells for a second time, no longer as a wizard, and learned the secrets of the fallen Shadow Sun Ninjas whose souls rotted in Dis.
    Armed with their knowledge, Kaltus made complete peace with his twisted past by finding the good within his evil, and the evil within the good he opposed. He found Shadow and Sun, Void and Light, and learned to balance them so closely he could walk between them to make himself able to destroy evil wherever it threatened the world. He walks between.

    The Build
    Spoiler
    Show

    Kaltus, the Walker Between
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Shadowcaster 1|
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |Concentration +4, Spellcraft+4, Hide+4, Intimidate +4|Extend Mystery, Devil’s Favor| Fundamentals of shadow, apprentice mysteries

    2nd|Shadowcaster 2|
    +1
    |
    +3
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    | Concentration +5, Spellcraft+5, Hide+5, Intimidate +5|Favored Mystery (Steel Shadows)|

    3rd|Shadowcaster 3|
    +0
    |
    +3
    |
    +1
    |
    +3
    | Concentration +6, Spellcraft+6, Hide+6, Intimidate +6|Practiced Spellcaster (Shadowcaster)| Umbral Sight (Darkvision 30 ft)

    4th|Shadowcaster 4|
    +2
    |
    +4
    |
    +1
    |
    +4
    | Concentration +7, Spellcraft+7, Hide+7, Intimidate +7| Devil’s Flesh|Bonus Fundamental

    5th|Shadowcaster 5|
    +2
    |
    +4
    |
    +1
    |
    +4
    | Concentration +8, Spellcraft+8, Hide+8, Intimidate +8| |Sustaining Shadow (eat 1 meal/week)

    6th|Shadowcaster 6|
    +3
    |
    +5
    |
    +2
    |
    +5
    | Concentration +9, Spellcraft+9, Hide+9, Intimidate +9|Favored Mystery (Flicker)|

    7th|Shadowcaster 7|
    +3
    |
    +5
    |
    +2
    |
    +5
    | Concentration +10, Spellcraft+10, Hide+10, Intimidate +10| |Apprentice Mysteries

    8th|Monk 1|
    +3
    |
    +7
    |
    +4
    |
    +7
    | Concentration +10, Spellcraft+10, Hide+10, Intimidate +10, Tumble +6|Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist| flurry of blows, unarmed strike, AC bonus

    9th|Monk 2|
    +4
    |
    +8
    |
    +5
    |
    +8
    | Concentration +10, Spellcraft+10, Hide+10, Intimidate +10, Tumble +12|Combat Reflexes, Sun School|Evasion

    10th|Swordsage 1|
    +4
    |
    +8
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    | Concentration +10, Spellcraft+10, Hide+13, Intimidate +10, Tumble +13, Sense Motive +4| |Quick to Act +1, Discipline Focus (Shadow Hand)

    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +4
    |
    +10
    |
    +9
    |
    +12
    | Concentration +10, Spellcraft+10, Hide+14, Intimidate +10, Tumble +13, Balance +5| |Monk abilities, touch of the shadow sun

    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +5
    |
    +11
    |
    +10
    |
    +13
    | Concentration +10, Spellcraft+10, Hide+15, Intimidate +10, Tumble +15, Balance +5, Diplomacy +3|Shadow Blade| Flame of the Shadow Sun

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +6
    |
    +11
    |
    +10
    |
    +13
    | Concentration +16, Spellcraft+10, Hide+15, Intimidate +10, Tumble +15, Balance +5, Diplomacy +3||

    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +7
    |
    +12
    |
    +11
    |
    +14
    | Concentration +17, Spellcraft+10, Hide+15, Intimidate +10, Tumble +15, Balance +5, Diplomacy +8|Devil’s Vitality | Light within darkness

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +7
    |
    +12
    |
    +11
    |
    +14
    | Concentration +18, Spellcraft+10, Hide+15, Intimidate +10, Tumble +15, Balance +5, Diplomacy +13|Gloom Razor|darkness within light

    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +8
    |
    +13
    |
    +12
    |
    +15
    | Concentration +18, Spellcraft+10, Hide+19, Intimidate +10, Tumble +15, Balance +5, Diplomacy +13, Spot +2| |

    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +9
    |
    +13
    |
    +12
    |
    +15
    | Concentration +18, Spellcraft+10, Hide+20, Intimidate +10, Tumble +15, Balance +5, Diplomacy +13, Spot +7| | Void of the Shadow Sun

    18th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +10
    |
    +14
    |
    +13
    |
    +16
    | Concentration +18, Spellcraft+10, Hide+21, Intimidate +10, Tumble +15, Balance +5, Diplomacy +13, Spot +12|Snap Kick| Child of shadow and light

    19th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +10
    |
    +14
    |
    +13
    |
    +16
    | Concentration +18, Spellcraft+10, Hide+22, Intimidate +10, Tumble +15, Balance +5, Diplomacy +13, Spot +18| |

    20th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +11
    |
    +15
    |
    +14
    |
    +17
    | Concentration +18, Spellcraft+10, Hide+23, Intimidate +10, Tumble +15, Balance +5, Diplomacy +13, Spot +23| | Balance of light and dark [/table]
    Spells per day/Spells Known
    {table=head]Level|0lvl|1st|2nd|3rd|4th|5th|6th|7th|8th|9th

    1st|1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    2nd|1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    3rd|1|1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    4th|1|1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    5th|1|1|1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    6th|1|1|1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    7th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    8th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    9th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    10th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    11th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    12th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    13th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    14th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    15th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    16th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    17th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    18th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    19th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    20th|2|2|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-[/table]
    Abilities:
    STR 12
    DEX 14
    CON 12
    INT 14
    WIS 20
    CHA 10


    The notes and highlights:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Let’s get it out in the open: Kaltus is not a power monster. The mechanical synergy and interesting interactions come at the cost of numerical stacking. BaB isn’t great, damage is decent but unspectacular, and while Kaltus has some useful skills he can’t dominate skill encounters. What can he do? Lots of unexpected little abilities for a monk. His defenses are respectable, he has really good mobility (a mini form of shadow pounce), and the various cool “out of nowhere” abilities of shadow sun ninja. Kaltus is just that, a ninja. Cool little mechanicals, and respectable combat prowess as well. The reason to play Kaltus is simple: A monk with truly unexpected, unique tricks. Plus, the flavor is awesome.


    So, Kaltus is a really weird build, based largely on flavor and some cool interactions. The primary interaction is the Shadow Mystery “Flicker” and the Sun School tactical feat. Besides being literally a Shadow Sun technique, it’s all about finding synergies between really disparate abilities. Kaltus is basically a mini-shadowpouncer. The 50% protection from flickering away from an attack is pretty helpful, and getting a hit when he comes out of it, a hit which could be a stunning attempt or a grapple, is really good for combat flexibility. My favorite option is wait for a caster to try to cast, flicker next to him, smack him twice (with snap kick), if the damage from the first hit doesn’t distract him, grapple with the second one. A caster can’t AoO, has a terrible touch AC, and is unlikely to beat you in a grapple. That should disrupt most spells out there.
    The two shadowcaster abilities he relies most heavily on are cast as supernatural abilities and thus are hard to disrupt. Steel Shadows can be cast 3/day for 110 minutes each, giving him almost 6 hours/day of mage armor and shield. Flicker, his absolute signature ability, can be cast 3 times per day. If Kaltus is doing 4 fights/day, he has to decide which one isn’t important enough for Flicker. Finally, an extended Bolster gives him 75 temp HP for 4 hours a day. This is a huge pad to life total, and timed even vaguely well, will get fully used every day. The other mysteries are vaguely useful, but not stellar. Arrow of Dusk is a ranged attack mode, another fundamental is darkness or light, but the three listed are the draw of shadowcaster.
    He can also take advantage of the numerous abilities of the Ninja class. A high wis allows touch of the shadow sun to deal decent damage, and lets him provide some healing/energy attack modes, something generally not seen on a monk. His shadowcaster abilities making hiding a snap (and let him hide in plain sight), as result, the light with darkness ability is easily triggered, which then easily triggers the darkness within light! Darkness within light becomes the primary ability of Kaltus, as he fights at mid to high levels. Using shadow hand stances, hide in plain sight and flicker, Kaltus sets up some fast, timely blows, while hiding. After hiding, he blinds, and then can use flicker to get an attack immediately after blinding! Once blind, Stunning Fist is better, and a full flurry attack can provide boosted damage. Gloom Razor also synergizes, because anyone who misses due to one of his many concealments he becomes invisible against, which also lets him take advantage of darkness within light!! Void of the Shadow Sun adds a rare area attack energy blast to a monk’s repertoire. Even better, using his swift action on the first turn of combat, allows him to still cast Flicker, and get a flicker/shadow stride powered 4 attack sequence off.
    Child of Shadow and Light is less useful to Kaltus, but he can still adventure as a mega torch!
    The final capstone is an interesting ability for Kaltus. He is more immune to, or resistant to it than anyone else, but with the flicker/shadow jaunt/stride/blink attack routine provide 8 attacks at almost full BAB, Kaltus can pile on the negative levels quickly, and use it to heal himself, if the worst comes to happen. In most fights Kaltus, probably uses Balance of Light in dark to plop 10 negative levels on a powerful boss, and then disengage.
    All in all Kaltus lives up to the billing. He has a huge roster of weird, often unique in 3.5 abilities on a monk chassis that allow for real surprises to any foe that expects a straight up fist fight!

    Wishlist
    Spoiler
    Show
    Kaltus needs stats badly. He has MAD, in a bad way. He could use more STR, DEX, CON, WIS, and even a tad more CHA. After that, the general ways of boosting monk natural attacks are sorely needed. Because of his low BAB, Kaltus needs every point of attack bonus he can find. Assassin’s stance and maneuvers, plus DEX and STR to damage will allow for damage, but his to-hit isn’t stellar. A monk’s belt and a monk’s tattoo would let Kaltus hit max benefits for his monk abilities.

    Life and Times of Kaltus, the Walker Between
    Spoiler
    Show

    Level 5 Life is tough. At this point, you have 5 levels of shadowcaster. You have Flicker, which will become your signature ability, 1/day. You get a total of 5 spells per day. Total. Look upon the focused specialist and despair! BAB stinks, damage stinks, spells stink. Learn to love the light crossbow.
    Level 10 Oh how fast the tides turn! By level 10, all the building blocks for Kaltus are present. You teleport around the battlefield, hitting each time, and staying incredibly mobile. Shadow Hand maneuvers apply solid damage/debuffs, and your fists hit hard.
    Level 13 Sweet Spot! At this level Shadow Stride comes on line. Your dream round in combat is now: Shadow Stride, free hit! Standard action touch of shadow sun (touch attack unarmed strike with extra wis damage!), negative energy damage and build a charge. Pass turn. The enemy goes to hit you: flicker to the other side negating his attack, and getting one of your own! Go to town!
    Level 15 By this level your attack routine is based around powering concealment and miss chances so you can power Darkness Within Light for big attack and damge boosts. Gloom Razor lets your child of shadow stance (which you moved for free with Flicker!) earn you invisible flurries, all of which get +4/+4 on attacks and damage! Burn Stunning Attempts (you have 9) in piles to get the foe to waste a whole turn watching you go nimble all over the place!
    Level 20The routine is largely the same as level 15, except with Snap Kick online all your Sun School shadowpounces got a whole xtra attack. You can easily put 8 attacks at -2 on a target in a turn, which, when combined with the Shadow Sun Ninja capstone, can take someone out of the fight in a hurry.

    Sources
    Spoiler
    Show

    Shadowcaster, favored mystery, Flicker, Bolster, Steel Shadows: Tome of Magic
    Snap Kick, Shadow Blade, Gloom Razor, Swordsage, Shadow Sun Ninja: Tome of Battle
    Sun School: Complete Warrior
    Practiced Spellcaster: Complete Arcane


    Adaptions
    Spoiler
    Show
    Kaltus can be much, much better.
    First, Shadowcaster is a very weak class. The designer, Ari Martell, is aware of this. He has posted suggested fixes for shadowcaster, and one is to change the spells/day tab to spells/encounter. If you do this, Kaltus is totally different. First, you only need 5 levels of shadowcaster to get flicker. 1/encounter is enough. It also frees up 3 feats for general monk-type things. These feats and levels should go to sword sage for things like Adaptive Style, Blade Meditation (Shadow Hand), and perhaps extra readied maneuver. The 2 levels of sword sage help enough that you might wanna drop a level of monk so you can add wisdom damage to shadow hand maneuvers.
    Second, fractional BAB fixes a lot of Kaltus’s problems. Kaltus’s BAB is 3.5 from shadow caster, 1.5 from monk, 0.5 from swordsage and 7.5 from Shadow Sun Ninja. Thus, his fractional BAB is 13. A full 2 points higher. It means Snap Kick and Sun School come online earlier.

    If both changes are in effect…well, that changes so much that Kaltus needs a rebuild, but he’s about three times as good.

  12. - Top - End - #282
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Shadow and Light aren't the only forces that he's balancing
    Quote Originally Posted by Eos
    Eos the torn
    LG
    Hellborn
    Rogue 1/ Monk 2/Totemist 2/ Unarmed swordsage 1 / Umbral disciple 3 /Shadow Sun Ninja 10 /Incandescent Champion 1

    Dusk (background)
    Spoiler
    Show

    Student: „Master, i have finished your task!“
    Master: „Oh, you are already finished reading? So tell me then, what did you learn about Eos the torn?“
    Student: „Eos the torn was a poor kid, raised by a whore. He never knew his father. When his mother got sick, he struggled to keep her and himself alive. Ultimately he sold his own soul for his mother's health and unlimited wealth. The devil kept his promise and cured his mother and showed Eos secret ways to make a fortune.“
    Master: „Is that all?“
    Student: „No, master. But I struggle with the task you given me. I cannot say if Eos is good or evil. Selling your soul to the devil is an evil act, but doing so to protect a loved one seems not evil at all.
    Master: „Accepting your fate can only be done by truely good people. Evil people will always try to overcome their fate.“
    Student: „I see.“
    Master: „Continue with the story.“
    Student: „Eos' soul was claimed by the devil when he died. Being tortured over and over again, he screamed for forgiveness and prayed for mercy. Surprisingly he was heard and resurrected. His body scarred from head to toe, he wandered the land seeking to redeem himself, but was shunned from society. So he kept his distance and watched. He tried to talk to those who left the path of righteousness and hunted down those helping evil grow in the world. Still.....“
    Master: „What troubles you, my student?“
    Student: „The story also mentions Eos appearing as a black humanoid shape, attacking from the shadows or never leaving them, blinding his enemies and simply using everything but honorable tactics. His fighting is best described as cowardice.“
    Master: „So he must be evil then.“
    Student: „I assume so, master.“
    Master: „So the methods outweigh the means?“
    Student: „I believe so, master.“
    Master: „Then you still have to learn a lot, my student.“



    Dawn (build)
    Spoiler
    Show

    Attributes (after racial modifiers)
    Str: 13
    Dex: 14
    Con: 15 [16] 4th level ability score increase
    Int: 12
    Cha: 8
    Wis: 16 [20] all other levels ability score increase

    Vow of Poverty ability increases go to Wis/Con/Dex in that order (+6/+4/+2).

    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Rogue|
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |Hide 4, Move Silently 4, Spot 4, Listen 4, Jump 4, Tumble 4, Search 4, Climb 4, Swim 4 |Sacred Vow, Devil's Favor (Hellbred)| Sneak attack 1d6, trapfinding

    2nd|Monk|
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +4
    |
    +2
    |Hide 5, Move Silently 5, Spot 5, Listen 5, Jump 5, Tumble 4, Search 4, Climb 4, Swim 4|Improved Unarmed Strike(Monk), Stunning Fist (Monk)|Flurry of blows

    3rd|Monk|
    +1
    |
    +3
    |
    +5
    |
    +3
    |Hide 6, Move Silently 6, Spot 6, Listen 6, Jump 5, Tumble 5, Search 4, Climb 4, Swim 4|Vow of Poverty, Combat Reflexes (Monk)| Evasion

    4th|Totemist|
    +1
    |
    +5
    |
    +7
    |
    +3
    |Hide 7, Move Silently 6, Spot 7, Listen 7, Jump 5, Tumble 5, Search 4, Climb 4, Swim 4, Knowledge (arcana) 1, Concentration 1 |Nymph's Kiss(VP), Devil's Stamina(Hellbred)| Wild Empathy

    5th|Totemist|
    +2
    |
    +6
    |
    +8
    |
    +3
    |Hide 8, Move Silently 7, Spot 8, Listen 8, Jump 5, Tumble 5, Search 4, Climb 4, Swim 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 2|-| Totem chakra bind (+1 capacity)

    6th|Unarmed Swordsage|
    +2
    |
    +6
    |
    +10
    |
    +5
    |Hide 9, Move Silently 8, Spot 9, Listen 9, Jump 5, Tumble 5, Search 4, Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|Dark Stalker, Intuitive Attack (VP), Weapon Focus(Swordsage)|Quick to act, Discipline Focus

    7th|Umbral Disciple|
    +2
    |
    +6
    |
    +12
    |
    +9
    |Hide 10, Move Silently 10, Spot 10, Listen 10, Jump 7, Tumble 6, Search 4, Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|-|Sept Knowledge, Step of the bodiless

    8th|Umbral Disciple|
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +13
    |
    +10
    |Hide 11, Move Silently 11, Spot 11, Listen 11, Jump 9, Tumble 8, Search 4, Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|Touch of golden Ice(VP)| Sneak attack 1d6

    9th|Umbral Disciple|
    +4
    |
    +7
    |
    +13
    |
    +10
    |Hide 12, Move Silently 12, Spot 12, Listen 12, Jump 11, Tumble 10, Search 4, Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|Ascetic Rogue| Embrace of Shadow

    10th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +4
    |
    +9
    |
    +15
    |
    +11
    | Hide 13, Move Silently 13, Spot 13, Listen 13, Jump 12, Tumble 11, Search 4, Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|Sacred Strike (VP)| Monk abilities, Touch of the Shadow Sun

    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +5
    |
    +10
    |
    +16
    |
    +12
    | Hide 14, Move Silently 14, Spot 14, Listen 14, Jump 13, Tumble 12, Search 4 Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|-| Flame of the Shadow Sun

    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +6
    |
    +10
    |
    +16
    |
    +12
    | Hide 15, Move Silently 15, Spot 15, Listen 15, Jump 14, Tumble 13, Search 4 Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|Bonus Essentia, Sanctify Natural Attack (VP)| -

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +7
    |
    +11
    |
    +17
    |
    +13
    | Hide 16, Move Silently 16, Spot 16, Listen 16, Jump 15, Tumble 14, Search 4 Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|-| Light within darkness

    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +7
    |
    +11
    |
    +17
    |
    +13
    | Hide 17, Move Silently 17, Spot 17, Listen 17, Jump 16, Tumble 15, Search 4 Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|Gift of Faith (VP), Devil's Flesh (Hellbred)| Darkness within light

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +8
    |
    +12
    |
    +18
    |
    +14
    | Hide 18, Move Silently 18, Spot 18, Listen 18, Jump 17, Tumble 16, Search 4 Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|Craven|-

    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +9
    |
    +12
    |
    +18
    |
    +14
    | Hide 19, Move Silently 19, Spot 19, Listen 19, Jump 18, Tumble 17, Search 4 Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|Servant of the heavens (VP)|Void of the Shadow Sun

    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +10
    |
    +13
    |
    +19
    |
    +15
    | Hide 20, Move Silently 20, Spot 20, Listen 20, Jump 19, Tumble 18, Search 4 Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|-|Child of Shadow and light

    18th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +10
    |
    +13
    |
    +19
    |
    +15
    | Hide 21, Move Silently 21, Spot 21, Listen 21, Jump 20, Tumble 19, Search 4 Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|Sapphire Fist, Vow of Chastity (VP)|-

    19th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +11
    |
    +14
    |
    +20
    |
    +16
    | Hide 22, Move Silently 22, Spot 22, Listen 22, Jump 21, Tumble 20, Search 4 Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|-|Balance of light and dark

    20th|Incandescent Champion|
    +11
    |
    +14
    |
    +20
    |
    +18
    | Hide 23, Move Silently 23, Spot 23, Listen 23, Jump 21, Tumble 20, Search 4 Climb 4, Swim 4, Disable Device 4, Knowledge (arcana) 2, Concentration 4|Vow of Abstinence (VP)|Incandescent strike[/table]


    Maneuvers and Stances
    Spoiler
    Show

    {table=head]Level|Maneuvers known|prepared|Stances|
    1st|-|-|-|

    2nd|-|-|-|

    3rd|-|-|-|

    4th|-|-|-|

    5th|-|-|-|

    6th|6|4|1|

    7th|6|4|1|

    8th|6|4|1|

    9th|6|4|1|

    10th|7|4|1|

    11th|7|4|1|

    12th|8|4|1|

    13th|8|4|1|

    14th|8|5|2|

    15th|9|5|2|

    16th|9|5|2|

    17th|9|5|2|

    18th|10|5|2|

    19th|10|6|2|

    20th|10|6|2|[/table]

    Maneuvers Known
    Level 6 (IL 3): Cloak of deception, Clever positioning, Mountain Hammer, Sudden Leap, Emerald Razor, Distracting Ember
    Level 10 (IL 6): Shadow blade Technique
    Level 12 (IL 8): Shadow Garotte
    Level 15 (IL 11): Stalker in the night
    Level 18 (IL 14): Shadow Blink

    Stances
    Step of the wind
    dance of the spider



    Soulmelds
    Spoiler
    Show

    Krenshar mask (brow): +4 jump and move silently
    Manticore belt (waist): +2 enhancement bonus on jump and spot
    Shadow mantle (Totem bound) 2 essentia: +8 competence listen + hide
    On level 7 and 8 use your 1 spare essentia to pump the krenshar mask. On level nine use both essentia gained from Umbral disciple for embrace the shadows to get hide in plain sight. On level 12 you get bonus essentia to play with and on 18 (sapphire fist) and 20 (incandescent strike) you get two more ways to spend it and one more essentia on 20 too. On level 20 you will very likely distribute your 7 essentia between embrace the shadows and your shadowmantle (totembound).



    Illumination (breakdown)
    Levels 1-5
    Spoiler
    Show

    Follow two rules: 1. Eos is not a melee beatstick because his BAB is horrible. 2. Always hide. When in a party, tell everyone Eos is the scout, not the rogue. He might find a trap now and then but won't be able to disable them. In a fight Eos is a flanking buddy, able to poke at enemies and maybe stun them while being quite sustainable. At level 5 Eos' main skills get severe boosts by soulmelds. Generally Eos is a late bloomer. So he is content with the little things.

    Level 6-10
    Spoiler
    Show

    Unarmed swordsage opens up the maneuver box. Step of the wind was chosen over Child of Shadows because of the 3 level of Umbral Disciple, which would render this stance useless. Island of blades may be debatable, but I feel Eos is better off with no movement penalties at this level. Darkstalker is a given and when Eos hits level nine everyone should have a hard time spotting him regarding his hide skill and hide in plain sight. Slowly Eos gathers some offensive potential (intuitive attack, touch of golden ice(vs evil), sacred strike and of course your maneuvers). When using Touch of the shadow sun Eos can do some out of combat healing just by sacrificing some of his own hp (devil's stamina will recover 10 hp at that level). Eos' biggest weakness at that level would be grapple. Honestly, when he gets grappled he is done for.

    Level 11-15
    Spoiler
    Show

    While flame of the shadow sun isn't Eos' favourite class feature, light within darkness and darkness within light definetely are. As soon as these become available he is pretty scary in melee as craven kicks also in. But always remember rule 1 and 2. VoP finally gives Eos freedom of movement and he is relieved of the grapple doom. Dance of the spider is Eos' new favourite stance and makes him an even better scout.

    Level 16-20
    Spoiler
    Show

    Void of the shadow sun is a somewhat odd pick up. Eos can use it to suicide bomb cold susceptible enemies simply by charging into them (the deflection AC bonus is overwritten by the VoP Bonus). Child of shadow and light should only be entered to exert dark energy, the dazzle effect is really underwhelming. The capstone though is Eos favourite thing. Incandescent champion adds 1 essentia to the pool.



    The Eos manual
    Spoiler
    Show

    With all the things going on, here are Eos main battle strategies gathered:
    Going at it:
    Hide (empowered by shadow mantle souldmeld) and hide in plain sight (embrace of the shadows)
    (or Stalker in the night maneuver) into light within darkness attack (and stunning fist attempt). Succesfully blinded and/or stunned opponent → flurry of blows(darkness within light, craven, vs. Evil sacred strike, sanctify natural attack) with another stunning fist.

    In and out:
    Activate void of the shadow sun(swift), don't hide, move in provoking attacks of opportunity, hope you get hit, use touch of the shadowsun to deal damage(standard), next round heal yourself or your ally(swift), activate void of the shadow sun for the frost blast, move away. Use shadow garrot (standard) when you didn't get hit.

    Full throttle:
    Use the same opening as with „going at it“ but activate Child of shadow and light when you move in (so you cannot use stalker in the night) and use balance of light and dark in the next round and then go to town. Use sudden leap to keep up with your enemy and still full attack him. Remember your cap is 19 negative levels (as you have Con 20 by the time). When the minute is over and your enemy is not down → shadow blink, cloak of deception and run for your life.

    Stunning fist:
    You can power it up with sapphire fist if you feel you don't need all your essentia in embrace the shadow and shadow mantle. Only use it when your opponent is flatfooted (ascetic rogue) or when you are using darkness within light.


    Variants
    Spoiler
    Show

    Eos actively avoids infinte out of combat healing, simply for the reason that infinite is a word not every DM likes to here. Vow of poverty also only makes any sense if your game isn't of the top notch optimization kind. If you want this build to work in such a game, i strongly recommend ditching Vow of poverty and consider Necropolitan/Warforged or another +1 LA (ditching Incandescent champion) race to get you immunity to energy drain and/or negative energy. If your DM allows fractional BAB Robilars Gambit could be considered instead of Sapphire fist.



    Sources
    Spoiler
    Show

    Hellbred and devil touched feats: Fiendish Codex 2: Tyrants of the Nine Hells
    Sacred Vow, Vow of poverty and all exalted feats: Book of exalted Deeds
    Totemist, Umbral Disciple, Incandescent Champion, Bonus Essentia, Sapphire Fist: Magic of Incarnum
    Unarmed Swordsage, Shadow Sun Ninja: Tome of Battle
    Craven: Champion of Ruins
    Ascetic Rogue: Complete adventurer
    Darkstalker: Lords of Madness

  13. - Top - End - #283
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    I wonder if perhaps Donatello would have been a better name...
    Quote Originally Posted by Botticelli
    Botticelli

    Basics
    Spoiler
    Show
    NG male anthropomorphic snapping turtle ex-Monk 4/Ninja 2/Exotic Weapon Master 1/Shadow Sun Ninja 10
    32 point buy
    Str 16, Dex 8, Con 17, Int 11, Wis 14, Cha 8
    ability increase to Con at level 4
    rest goes into Wis

    anthropomorphic snapping turtle racial adjustments: Str +6, Dex -4, Con +6, Int=11, Wis +2, Cha +4; bite attack 1d6, darkvision 60 ft, hold breath, low light vision, natural armor +5, Swim checks +8 racial bonus, can take 10 on Swim checks, +1 Level Adjustment


    Build
    Spoiler
    Show
    {table=head]Level|Class|BAB|Fort|Ref|Will|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Level Adjustment|
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    |
    -
    | | |

    2nd|Racial Hit Die 1|
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    | Spot 4, Swim 4|Exotic Weapon Proficiency (lajatang)| bite attack 1d6, darkvision 60 ft, hold breath, low light vision, natural armor +5
    3rd|Racial Hit Die 2|
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    | Spot +1, Swim +1| |
    4th|Monk 1|
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +5
    |
    +5
    |Hide 2, Move Silently 2|Improved Unarmed Strike (B), Stunning Fist (B), Weapon Focus (lajatang)| flurry of blows
    5th|Monk 2|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |Hide +2, Move Silently +2|Blind Fight (B)| evasion
    6th|Monk 3|
    +4
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |Balance 1, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble 1| |still mind
    7th|Monk 4|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +7
    |
    +7
    |Balance +1, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1|Martial Study (mighty throw)| ki strike (magic), slow fall 20 ft

    8th|Ninja 1|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +9
    |
    +7
    |Balance +1, Craft (weapon making) 2, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1| |ki power, sudden strike +1d6, trapfinding
    9th|Ninja 2|
    +6
    |
    +4
    |
    +10
    |
    +7
    |Balance +1, Craft (weapon making) +1, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1| |ghost step (invisible)
    10th|Exotic Weapon Master 1|
    +7
    |
    +6
    |
    +10
    |
    +7
    |Intimidate 2|Martial Study (shadow jaunt)| exotic stunt (flurry of strikes)
    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +7
    |
    +8
    |
    +12
    |
    +9
    |Balance +1, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1| |monk abilities, touch of the shadow sun
    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +8
    |
    +9
    |
    +13
    |
    +10
    |Balance +1, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1| |flame of the shadow sun
    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +9
    |
    +9
    |
    +13
    |
    +10
    |Balance +1, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1|Ascetic Stalker|
    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +10
    |
    +10
    |
    +14
    |
    +11
    |Balance +1, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1| |light within darkness
    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +10
    |
    +10
    |
    +14
    |
    +11
    |Balance +1, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1| |darkness within light
    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +11
    |
    +11
    |
    +15
    |
    +12
    |Balance +1, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1|Snap Kick|
    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +12
    |
    +11
    |
    +15
    |
    +12
    |Balance +1, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1| |void of the shadow sun
    18th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +13
    |
    +12
    |
    +16
    |
    +13
    |Balance +1, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1| |child of shadow and light
    19th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +13
    |
    +12
    |
    +16
    |
    +13
    |Balance +1, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1|Serpent Fang|
    20th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +14
    |
    +13
    |
    +17
    |
    +14
    |Balance +1, Hide +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1| |balance of light and dark
    [/table]

    Maneuvers Gained by Level:
    7: mighty throw (SS via feat)
    10: shadow jaunt (SH via feat)
    11: shadow garrote (SH)
    13: obscuring shadow veil (SH)
    15: assassin’s stance (SH stance)
    16: shadow stride (SH)
    19: shadow blink (SH)


    The New Renaissance
    Spoiler
    Show
    Level 1-5 Weapon of Choice
    Spoiler
    Show
    “I will name you Botticelli,” the master told his unusual student, a young humanoid turtle. Walking around his new student, the master continued with a raspy voice. “You will be the last student I will ever train in the ninja arts.”
    “You’ve trained others? Like me?” Botticelli seemed surprised.
    “Indeed I have,” he replied in his raspy voice. “But that was many years ago. My students have gone their separate ways now.”
    “So what do you call this thing?” the student asked while holding the pole with a blade shaped like a crescent moon on each end.
    “That thing is called a lajatang,” the master replied. “And you will learn how to wield it effectively.”
    Spoiler
    Show
    Botticelli is an anthropomorphic snapping turtle—complete with two racial hit dice and a level adjustment. These are tough to swallow but at least the hit dice count as half initiator levels. The lajatang is an exotic double weapon that Botticelli can use his unarmed base attack progression to attack and he can follow that up with a secondary bite attack. He picks up Blind Fight as a bonus feat through his martial arts training as described by the monk section in Oriental Adventures page 19. His good Wisdom score and natural armor bonus makes up for a poor Dexterity and help with survivability at these early levels.


    Level 6-10 Further Training
    Spoiler
    Show
    “You must always remember your training!” the master exclaimed with frustration as Botticelli lazily twirled his weapon. “Think of the lajatang as an extension of yourself. Also remember that the ninja needs to be able to fade away into the darkness. Your inner power—your ki—is . . .”
    “Ugh. All of this training makes my head spin,” Botticelli complained. “You sure you’ve done this before?”
    The master’s cane suddenly rapped Botticelli on the back of his head. He turned to look but no one was there. The next thing he knew, he was on the floor looking up at his master’s scowled muzzle.
    “Whoa! How did you do that?” the turtle was as surprised as he was impressed.
    “Now will you listen to what I have to say?” the master asked.
    “Yes, master,” Botticelli answered. He was ashamed of himself but was now ready to learn.
    Spoiler
    Show
    Botticelli continues his Monk training but not for too much longer before branching into the Ninja class. Of note is the ghost step ability which allows Botticelli to become invisible which can help with his sudden strike ability. More importantly Botticelli enters the Exotic Weapon Master prestige class and gains the stunt flurry of strikes. The lajatang as an exotic double weapon can be used to make an extra attack which is in addition to the attacks made from a lajatang flurry attack. Botticelli is also able to use the Martial Study feats to pick up the two maneuvers needed to enter the SI. (Here I must say ‘Thank you’ to the Chairman for his beneficial ruling—three Martial Study feats would have been really hard to fit in this build.)


    Level 11-15 Shadows and Light
    Spoiler
    Show
    “You must always walk in the darkness but bring the light to the less fortunate,” the master explained to his student after Botticelli returned from a mission with a lot of acquired loot.
    “It’s not like they’re going to miss it,” Botticelli said flippantly.
    “That is not the point!” the master exclaimed as he knocked away some of the gold items.
    “Whoa! You’ve lost your mind you old rat! I’m outta here.” Botticelli stormed out to his room and gathered his things. “Keep your philosophy to yourself next time,” he said as he left.
    The master just lowered his head in disappointment. “They never seem to learn.”
    Spoiler
    Show
    It would be around this time that Botticelli would have an alignment shift to Neutral Good from Lawful Good. The rigidity on the monastic training proves to be too much for our turtle. But more importantly we are now fully into the SI and will stay for the rest of our pre epic career. And it is now that Botticelli starts getting things that make him go. The SI explicitly states that our monk progression continues for all of the important features—AC bonus, unarmed damage, unarmored speed bonus, flurry of blows, and Stunning Fist daily attempts. These are all things that Botticelli has and can continue to use and grow. The Ascetic Stalker feat added during this time also gives us more mileage out of our Monk and Ninja levels. The touch of the shadow sun ability gives us an emergency healing option for any teammates—use the negative touch attack to drain some life out of an opponent, then next turn use the shadow jaunt maneuver to get to our hurting comrade. It should also be noted that Botticelli could be the creature touched in this case. Flame of the shadow sun gives us a ranged attack that we do not normally have within our arsenal—even if it is highly situational. Botticelli’s Hide check is good enough to get use out of the light within darkness and darkness within light features. The two really seem to go hand in hand. As Botticelli blinds his opponents, he can close his eyes and gain his bonuses for attacking and stunning and still benefit from his Blind Fight feat. The maneuvers chosen during this time also give Botticelli more versatility—shadow garrote gives another short range option. Assassin’s stance gives Botticelli extra damage which is always appreciated.


    Level 16-20 Balance
    Spoiler
    Show
    The master’s body was laid out on the burial pyre. Botticelli fought back the tears as he lit the fire. He was alone now—there was no one to help keep the balance of light and darkness. As he watched the fire die down to nothingness he came to a realization. The balance was always about the battles within himself, not the battles going on around outside. Botticelli wished he could tell his master that he finally understood.
    Spoiler
    Show
    Botticelli continues on finishing the SI. Monk abilities reach near full progression by Level 20 thanks in part to Ascetic Stalker and his earlier Monk training combined with the SI. Our feats chosen only increase our attacking capabilities. Snap Kick gives us another attack added to our double lajatang flurry and makes use of our substantial monk unarmed damage. Serpent Fang gives us a stunning reach attack that can be made through our lajatang or our unarmed strikes. Void of the shadow sun is a useful ability that can give us a small deflection bonus that can (will?) turn into a burst effect to help when surrounded by mooks. The child of shadow and light ability is much more useful as Botticelli can alternately change the area around him from light to dark. The dazzled condition hampers our enemies but when they are in darkness, Botticelli can take advantage of his darkness within light ability stunning his foes with either kick or lajatang strike. Botticelli’s maneuvers gained during this time are shadow stride and shadow blink which are improvements to his shadow jumping abilities. The capstone ability gives Botticelli awesome immunities and the devastating ability to drain levels away from victims. Such power would drive a lesser turtle to darkness but since Botticelli can choose not to bestow negative levels, he can keep his soul intact.


    Mutations and Other Notes
    Spoiler
    Show
    Though not included in this build itself, Botticelli would benefit from the abilities of the Staff of the Torrent Moons weapon of legacy. It is a lajatang with a water based theme. He is a qualified potential user of the weapon and if the campaign that Botticelli would be used in was either an aquatic or mostly aquatic one this weapon would be ideal. Otherwise Botticelli does not need much in the way of equipment—his lajatang as a double weapon should have different enchantments on each end—not to mention the weapon augment crystals to help with facing critical immune creatures. That way Botticelli could make the most out of either side of the weapon during battle. Note that even though the lajatang is a double weapon, Botticelli does not use it as a double weapon. His ability to make multiple attacks comes from the flurry of blows feature and the flurry of strikes feature. Botticelli ends up with the progression of a 16th level Monk—unarmed damage 2d8, +50 ft movement speed, +3 class AC, and the ability to make six attacks with the lajatang (five through flurry plus one through Exotic Weapon Master) plus one unarmed attack via Snap Kick plus one bite. WBL makes up for his shortcomings and bolsters his Strength, Constitution, and Wisdom.


    Source List
    Spoiler
    Show
    Complete Adventurer: Ninja class
    Complete Scoundrel: Ascetic Stalker feat
    Complete Warrior: Exotic Weapon Master prestige class
    Oriental Adventures: Monk class variants, lajatang weapon
    Sandstorm: Serpent Fang feat
    Savage Species: anthropomorphic animals
    Stormwrack: snapping turtle
    Tome of Battle: Shadow Sun Ninja prestige class, maneuvers
    Weapons of Legacy: Staff of the Torrent Moons (mutations)

  14. - Top - End - #284
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    The Flying Swords of the Dragon Gate
    Quote Originally Posted by Dusk and Dawn

    Picture Unrelated
    Dusk & Dawn
    LG Dvati Monk 2/Swordsage 3/Shadow Sun Ninja 10/Master of Nine 4

    The Legend
    Spoiler
    Show
    The old master sat in quiet meditation in his chambers. The twilight air was still and silent, the winds were peaceful. But the perfect evening rhythm was shattered by an ululating cry that rose from outside the walls, and the sharp crack of splintering wood as the gates were torn asunder. The courtyard filled with a horde of orc bandits, their roars of triumph echoed off the walls as they pillaged the storehouses. At the head of the bandits strode a tall, sinewy orc, his rough hide adorned with warpaint and scars of battles long past. He gazed around at his minions as they ransacked the monestary, and his eyes narrowed as he noticed that none had come out to challenge them. He had heard of this place from a defeated rival, who had spoken of the monestary only in hushed, fearful tones. The orc bandit chief had expected to find a worthy foe here to crush, and the lack of challenge infuriated him. He grabbed his lieutenant and growled out an order, "Find me their champion! Bring him before me!"

    The old master sat in quiet meditation in his chambers. All around, orcs crashed doors from their hinges, spilled foodstuffs on the ground, and argued over trinkets. The general din of the warcries from the bandits died down as one by one they all realized that there was no foe to fight, no blood to be spilled. The bandit lieutenant went building to building, kicking each door in and searching their contents. All the while, the bandit chief roared out various challenges to the evening air, "Come before me mighty warriors of this place! Face Thorg the Merciless, of the Scarred Eye tribe! Scourge of the Western Steppes!" His bellowing continued to be met with silence, which only served to infuriate him. His lieutenant kicked in a door, and to his surprise, he saw the old master, sitting in quiet meditation. "My chief!" he shouted, "I have found someone!" He stepped into the old master's chambers and reached for him, "On your feet old man!" His hand stopped short of the old monk's shoulder, as someone grabbed him from behind and hurled him from the building. He landed at Thorg's feet, his neck broken from the impact.

    The old master sat in quiet mediation in his chambers. The mighty Thorg raced to the door of his chambers, and stopped short when he saw the old monk sitting in a calm, cross-legged position. He stared in disbelief for a moment, before a toothy smile spread across his face as he hefted his axe. "You!? You are the champion of this place? Your head hardly seems worth taking!" He took a step towards the old master, and for the first time that evening, the old monk's lilting voice was heard. "You have chosen a most inauspicious time for your raid, Chief Thorg." The orc chief stopped, a look of bemusement decorating his visage. "Is that so, old man? And why is that?" The old master reached for a cup of cooling tea and took a sip before continuing, "By attacking at Dusk, you have angered the Dawn, and by angering the Dawn, so too have you angered the Dusk, for they are as one." As the old master set down his cup of tea, a bright explosion of light erupted across the courtyard. Orcs screamed in pain and fear, and Thorg swiveled his head around in confusion. As he watched, a grey-garbed figure wreathed in darkness and light leaped and tumbled through his forces, landing impossible blows and hurling orcs twice his size in all directions. Enraged, Thorg spun on the old monk, his axed raised high for a killing strike. Before he could land the blow, the world went white, and someone grabbed him and hurled him from the building. All around him, the sounds of panicked and injured orcs piered the night air, but Thorg could not see. He swung his great axe in wild arcs around him, only managing to kill a few of his bandits. As his vision returned, someone landed a hammer blow to his kidneys, and he dropped to the ground, momentarily stunned. As he gazed up at the stars, two figures moved to stand over him, each planting a foot on the orc chief's chest. "Who ... who are you?" Thorg managed, those few words coming in between painful gasps. The twin warriors gazed down upon him and replied, "Dusk. And Dawn." Shortly after, Thorg breathed his last as the duo routed the bandit forces and sent them fleeing into the night.

    The old master sat in quiet meditation in his chambers.


    The Path
    Spoiler
    Show
    Dusk & Dawn
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Dvati LA|
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    | | |

    2nd|Passive Way Monk 1|
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |Balance 4, Concentration 4, Hide 4, Move Silently 4, Tumble 4|Improved Unarmed Strike(B), Combat Expertise(B), Dodge|Bonus Feat(Combat Expertise), Flurry of Blows, Unarmed Strike(Improved Unarmed Strike), Unarmed Damage(1d6), AC Bonus +0, Unarmed Speed Bonus +0ft, +2 bonus on Bluff checks

    3rd|Passive Way Monk 2|
    +1
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |Balance 5, Concentration 5, Hide 5, Move Silently 5, Tumble 5|Improved Trip(B)|Bonus Feat(Improved Trip), Evasion

    4th|Swordsage 1|
    +1
    |
    +3
    |
    +5
    |
    +5
    |Concentration 6, Hide 6, Jump 3, Move Silently 6, Tumble 6|Darkstalker, Weapon Focus(Setting Sun)(B)|Quick to Act +1, Discipline Focus(Weapon Focus - Setting Sun)

    5th|Swordsage 2|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |Concentration 7, Hide 7, Jump 6, Move Silently 7, Tumble 7| |AC Bonus

    6th|Swordsage 3|
    +3
    |
    +4
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |Concentration 8, Hide 8, Jump 8, Martial Lore 1, Move Silently 8, Tumble 8| |

    7th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    |Concentration 9, Hide 9, Jump 9, Move Silently 9, Tumble 9|Blind-Fight|Monk Abilities, Touch of the Shadow Sun

    8th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +4
    |
    +7
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    |Concentration 10, Hide 10, Jump 10, Move Silently 10, Tumble 10| |Flame of the Shadow Sun

    9th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +5
    |
    +7
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    |Concentration 11, Hide 11, Martial Lore 2, Move Silently 11, Tumble 11| |

    10th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +6
    |
    +8
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    |Concentration 12, Hide 12, Martial Lore 3, Move Silently 12, Tumble 12|Improved Initiative|Light within Darkness

    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +6
    |
    +8
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    |Concentration 13, Hide 13, Martial Lore 4, Move Silently 13, Tumble 13| |Darkness within Light

    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +7
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    |Concentration 14, Hide 14, Martial Lore 5, Move Silently 14, Tumble 14| |

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +8
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    |Concentration 15, Hide 15, Martial Lore 6, Move Silently 15, Tumble 15|Adaptive Style|Void of the Shadow Sun Ninja

    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +9
    |
    +10
    |
    +12
    |
    +12
    |Concentration 16, Hide 16, Martial Lore 7, Move Silently 16, Tumble 16| |Child of shadow and light

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +9
    |
    +10
    |
    +12
    |
    +12
    |Concentration 17, Hide 17, Martial Lore 8, Move Silently 17, Tumble 17| |

    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +10
    |
    +11
    |
    +13
    |
    +13
    |Concentration 18, Hide 18, Martial Lore 9, Move Silently 18, Tumble 18|Stunning Fist|Balance of light and dark

    17th|Master of Nine 1|
    +10
    |
    +11
    |
    +13
    |
    +15
    |Concentration 19, Hide 19, Martial Lore 11, Move Silently (19), Tumble 19| |

    18th|Master of Nine 2|
    +11
    |
    +11
    |
    +13
    |
    +16
    |Concentration 20, Hide 20, Martial Lore 13, Move Silently (20), Tumble 20| |Dual Stance

    19th|Master of Nine 3|
    +12
    |
    +12
    |
    +14
    |
    +16
    |Concentration 21, Hide 21, Martial Lore 15, Move Silently (21), Tumble 21|Superior Unarmed Strike|Perfect Form

    20th|Master of Nine 4|
    +13
    |
    +12
    |
    +14
    |
    +17
    |Concentration 22, Hide 22, Martial Lore 17, Move Silently (22), Tumble 22| |Counter Stance[/table]


    The Stats
    Spoiler
    Show

    Starting Ability Scores:
    Str - 14
    Dex - 16
    Con - 14
    Int - 12
    Wis - 14
    Cha - 8

    Final Ability Scores:
    Str - 14
    Dex - 17 (+1 at 20th)
    Con - 14
    Int - 12
    Wis - 18 (+4 from levels - 4, 8, 12, 16)
    Cha - 8


    The Techniques
    Spoiler
    Show

    Maneuvers
    {table=head]Level|Maneuvers Known|Maneuvers Readied|Stances Known

    1st|-|-|-

    2nd|-|-|-

    3rd|-|-|-

    4th|6|4|1

    5th|7|4|2

    6th|8|5|2

    7th|9|5|2

    8th|9|5|2

    9th|10|5|2

    10th|10|5|2

    11th|10|6|3

    12th|11|6|3

    13th|11|6|3

    14th|11|6|3

    15th|12|6|3

    16th|12|7|3

    17th|14|8|3

    18th|15|9|4

    19th|17|10|4

    20th|18|11|5[/table]

    Maneuvers/Stances Known:
    1st
    Crusader's Strike(Devoted Spirit), Moment of Perfect Mind(Diamond Mind), Counter Charge(Setting Sun), Mighty Throw(Setting Sun), Clinging Shadow Strike(Shadow Hand), Shadow Blade Technique(Shadow Hand), Stone Bones(Stone Dragon), Island of Blades Stance(Shadow Hand), Hunter's Sense Stance(Tiger Claw)

    2nd
    Action Before Thought(Diamond Mind), Mountain Hammer(Stone Dragon)

    3rd
    Revitalizing Strike(Devoted Spirit), Devastating Throw(Setting Sun), Assassin's Stance(Shadow Hand)

    4th
    Obscuring Shadow Veil(Shadow Hand)

    5th
    Soaring Throw(Setting Sun)

    6th
    Rallying Strike(Devoted Spirit), Ballista Throw(Setting Sun)

    7th

    8th
    Immortal Fortitude Stance(Devoted Spirit), Ghostly Defense Stance(Setting Sun)

    9th
    Strike of Righteous Vitality(Devoted Spirit), Tornado Throw(Setting Sun), Five-Shadow Creeping Ice Enervation Strike(Shadow Hand)



    The Critiques
    Spoiler
    Show

    Level 5

    First off, I want to take a moment to discuss how I interpret the interaction between Dvati and the initiation and recovery of maneuvers. I've covered some alternate takes in the Adaptation section below, in case the judges disagree with my inerpretation.

    My interpretation:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Here are the relevant rules quoted from the Dvati entry:
    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon Compendium
    A dvati character is actually two separate dvati twins who share a soul. These two creatures move and act separately but have a number of restrictions based on their connection.

    When a dvati casts a spell, both members of the pair must focus and concentrate on it. Both twins must simultaneously take the actions required to cast a spell, although only one must supply material components. One twin cannot cast a spell while the other attacks, for example. A lone dvati can cast spells if his twin takes no actions while he casts. Any other sort of action, including a free one, makes it impossible for the casting twin to focus and use his spell. If the dvati tries to use a spell anyway, his casting attempt is ruined and the spell is lost.
    And here is my interpretation:
    • Dvati appear to have their own separate action pools, but have a special restriction when it comes to casting spells. Specifically, one twin has to do nothing while the other casts. So the question is, how does this racial quirk affect Spell-like abilities, Supernatural abilities, initiating Maneuvers, and recovering Maneuvers? You can read some of the designer's thoughts on the Dvati action pool here, although that doesn't address this point specifically.
    • The glossary definition for Spell-like abilities specifies that they function just like casting a spell. So it seems reasonably clear that the Dvati limitation applies to Spell-like abilities. For this dish, I have assumed that the Dvati limitation does apply to Spell-like abilities.
    • The glossary definition for Supernatural abilities doesn't include language comparing them to spells, so I'm interpreting this to mean the use of (Su) abilities is not subject to the Dvati limitation. For this dish, I have assumed that the Dvati limitation does not apply to (Su) abilities.
    • On page 38 of the Tome of Battle, it states: "The process of initiating a maneuver is similar to that of casting a spell or manifesting a psionic power, although there are some key differences." It goes on to state: "Unlike with spells or psionic powers, you need not concentrate to initiate a maneuver or stance." It goes on to specify that you don't lose the maneuver when injured or disrupted, and that you don't provoke an attack of opportunity when initiating a maneuver. Taken together, all of this reads very much like using a (Su) ability, rather than a spell or spell-like ability. Given that Dvati are two bodies with one mind, and coupled with the statement that you do not need to concentrate to initiate a maneuver, it seems safe (albeit powerful) to assume that the Dvati limitation does not apply to initiating maneuvers. For this dish, I have assumed that the Dvati limitation does not apply to initiating maneuvers or stances. After all, that +1 LA has to come in somewhere, doesn't it?
    • Oddly enough, because of the phrasing for Swordsage maneuver recovery and the fact that a Dvati is one character with two bodies, it seems to imply that the Dvati limitation applies to Swordsage maneuver recovery. This is the point I'm the most unclear on, and for the purposes of this entry, I have assumed that the Dvati limitation does apply to recovering maneuvers.


    We start early in Dusk & Dawn's career, where they are a nice even mix of Monk and Swordsage. They work well as flanking partners thanks to the Dvati racial traits. They've got great defenses thanks to their good saves, solid AC, and maneuvers. They've got the will and reflex save boosting maneuvers to prevent complete shutdown from will save spells, and damage from reflex save spells (and evasion to come through squeaky clean!). The Stone Bones maneuver really helps out with their lower than average hitpoints, and Dodge, Combat Expertise, Counter Charge, and Clinging Shadow Strike layer on some extra defenses. The Island of Blades stance helps guarantee they get their great racial flanking bonus, and Hunter's Sense is a good utility stance. Dusk & Dawn function as solid sneaks out of combat with Darkstalker and good sneak skills, and in combat they function as good skirmishers (which is a role they will carry forward through this build). They've got some battlefield control ability with a solid Dex score, Mighty Throw, and Improved Trip (all of which mean that it is likely that Dusk & Dawn can hurl opponents about with ease (+9 or higher on opposed trip attempts with Mighty Throw), especially if the Aid Another action is allowed on the trip attempt, as Dvati grant their twin +4 from a successful Aid Another check). Note: Because passive way grants Combat Expertise and Improved Trip as monk bonus feats, and because the Monk entry states that the monk gains their bonus feats even if they don't meet their pre-requisites, Dusk & Dawn are good to go with Combat Expertise and Improved Trip even though they don't have Int 13. They've also got Weapon Focus with any Setting Sun weapon (like Unarmed Strike) to help them land their strikes.

    Level 10

    Dusk & Dawn have gotten a taste for the Secret Ingredient, and it is good. By this point, a couple of the SI's very nice abilities are available, Touch of the Shadow Sun, and Light within Darkness. Touch of the Shadow Sun provides some nice added damage, and allows Dusk or Dawn to heal on the round after it is used, which helps mitigate their lower than average HP. The real winner here is Light within Darkness. If both Dusk & Dawn start an encounter hidden, one can pop out and blind the opponents. The next round, the revealed twin and hide while the foes are blinded, and the second twin can pop out and blind them again. Dusk & Dawn can repeat this strobe light disco action as long as they continue to blind at least one opponent. This tactic plays nicely into their skirmishing role, and they can continue to exercise some limited battlefield control with Might Throw, Devastating Throw, and Improved Trip. Mountain Hammer gives them a handy way to punch (literally!) through DR, and Obscuring Shadow Veil can give them the needed concealment to hide from an enemy that didn't get blinded by Light within Darkness. The enhanced monk abilities granted by the SI also begin paying off a nicely, granting Dusk & Dawn 1d8 Unarmed Strike Damage, +1 unarmored AC, +20ft unarmored speed, and a reduced flurry penalty of -1. Lastly, Dusk & Dawn have the rather under-used Blind-Fight feat. While this feat loses some of it's limited potency when the twins pick up Darkness within Light next level, it is still useful against non-blinded opponents, fits thematically, and is required for the last ingredient in this dish.

    Level 16

    Dusk & Dawn now have the full flavor of the SI. Darkness within Light enhances the already effective tactic that Dusk & Dawn use Light within Darkness for, meaning that the twin that is striking the blinded target can get a little boost in accuracy and damage essentially for free (closing your eyes is a free action). Void of the Shadow Sun Ninja and Child of Shadow and Light function exactly as written and are minor area damage and battlefield control abilities, except that Dusk & Dawn can both use them, thereby covering twice the area and affecting more of the battlefield. The minor boost to AC from Void of the Shadow Sun Ninja is particularly nice for Dusk & Dawn, assuming they both haven't managed to pick up a Ring of Protection +2 or better by this point in their career. If nothing else, it allows them to save their cash for other more necessary items. Balance of Light and Dark is an awesomely potent ability, and it is just a bit better for Dusk & Dawn. While one of them is using Balance of Light and Dark, the other can use Touch of the Shadow Sun to alternately heal themself and the one in Darkness Form (because the twin in Darkness Form is healed by negative energy). The increased monk abilities are again useful here, as it means that Dusk & Dawn gain a +2 unarmored AC bonus, 2d6 Unarmed Damage, and +40ft unarmored speed, and no penalty on flurry attacks. Additionally, as Dusk & Dawn pick up Stunning Fist at this level, they now have several uses to burn (12, to be exact).

    Dusk & Dawn have also picked up some increased versatility with the Adaptive Style feat, which lets them switch out readied maneuvers with a full round action, rather than 5 minutes of meditation.

    As far as maneuver's and stances, Dusk & Dawn have picked up some excellent ones. Assassin's Stance came in at 11th level, which gives the twins a nice boost in damage that is almost always on. Soaring Throw and Ballista Throw help Dusk & Dawn really lay down some damage and control a few foes on the battle field. When coupled with one twin throwing an enemy into a line position with another enemey, Ballista Throw can reliably drop it's damage on three foes at once.

    This level really would be the "Sweet Spot" of the build, if it weren't for...

    Level 20 "Sweet Spot"

    Wow, Master of Nine really enhances the power of Dusk & Dawn. Coupled with the abilities from Shadow Sun Ninja, some of the benefits of this prestige class are supercharged. First and foremost, Dual Stance really shines, especially with Child of Shadow and Light (which requires you to forgoe the benefit of a stance to gain it's benefit). Now you can do both! The amount of time you can keep this ability is limited to 8 rounds a day, but there are some terrific combos to be had here. For example, Assassin's Stance coupled with Island of Blades let's Dusk & Dawn get their sneak attack damage in from any squares adjacent to a given enemy. Ghostly Defense coupled with Immortal Fortitude let's you survive the nastiest damage if it sneaks through any miss chance you might have, or redirect it to another foe within reach if it doesn't. Perfect Form enhances the DC on your Shadow Hand maneuvers, and Counter Stance let's you jump into a needed stance whenever you use Counter Charge, Moment of Perfect Mind, or Action Before Thought to shut down an incoming attack. And the extra maneuvers and stances this opens up are the perfect frosting on this cake.

    The big wins here are the ability to pick up the capstone maneuvers for both of the SI's favored schools, Setting Sun and Shadow Hand. Five-Shadow Creeping Ice Enervation Strike is a potent finisher, further enhanced by Perfect Form. Tornado Throw is the big winner though, with the enhanced monk abilities from the SI granting a huge speed boost (+40ft), allowing for potentially 4 additional throws than would normally be available. Ghostly Defense is the capstone Setting Sun stance, and for good reason. When coupled with attacks from hiding, opponents blinded by Light within Darkness, or the two Shadow Hand maneuvers that Dusk & Dawn have that grant a miss chance, this stance lets you put your foes to work for you in the battle, assuming there are multiple foes.

    The last selection of maneuvers really help to offset the lower than average hitpoints that Dvati suffer from. At the end of the day, despite all the defenses they have in place, all the terrific saves and save enhancers(evasion and the save boosting maneuvers) they have, Dusk & Dawn are going to take damage. Even though they've got some great healing from the SI, the addition of Crusader's Strike, Revitalizing Strike, Rallying Strike, and Strike of Righteous Vitality just made them a very useful addition to any team (and to each other). Now they've got some added versatility as backup in-combat healers. The last big ticket item here is Immortal Fortitude, which is an amazing stance, and all but eliminates the fragility of these Dvati twins.

    The final addition to this topping is Superior Unarmed Strike, which further enhances Dusk & Dawn's unarmed damage. This feat can be swapped out for another, if necessary, and I've provided some suggestions in my Adaptations section below.


    The Adaptations
    Spoiler
    Show

    First off, the Superior Unarmed Strike feat can be swapped out for Martial Study to pick up Mind Over Body, virtually guaranteeing that Dusk & Dawn won't fail the saving throw from Immortal Fortitude. It could also be swapped out for Pebble Underfoot (Dragon Compendium) to make throwing larger targets a possibility, or Ring the Golden Bell (Dragon Compendium) to allow for shenanigans with ranged stunning fist attacks and the like.

    As far as items are concerned, it's obvious that cash will be tight with any Dvati character (as most gear must be purchased twice), but not needing to pick up armor is a nice savings. Beyond the usual stat boosters (Dex, Con, and Wis being the most desired), Dusk & Dawn are going to want to pick up amulets to boost their unarmed strikes, and will almost certainly want cloaks of displacement (just the basic 20% miss chance will do) so that Ghostly Defense can be constantly active and effective. Monk's Belts would also be a terrific investment here. Depending on how one interprets the Dvati action limitation, Belts of Battle may be necessary to keep the power level up.

    Now for the elephant in the room. What if my interpretation for how the Dvati action limitation isn't kosher?

    There are a few different ways I could see this going:
    • The full nerfing. A DM could decide that initiating maneuvers and using (Su) abilities are both subject to the Dvati limitation. This obviously puts the hurt on power here, but surprisingly it doesn't limit versatility all that much. Under this interpretation, the non-initiating Dvati twin is mostly relegated to a flanking buddy, and a "forward spotter", positioning themself in order to launch a maneuver or (Su) ability. Under this interpretation, both twins should still be able to have stances active, they just wouldn't be able to activate them on the same round. Dusk & Dawn's main tactic of using Light within Darkness would remain intact.
    • The partial nerfing. A DM could decide that only initiating standard action maneuvers or using standard action (Su) abilities are subject to the Dvati limitation. This still cuts back on power, but not as badly as above, and leaves many of Dusk & Dawn's tactics intact.
    • The Full Monty. This would be any interpretation that provides greater flexibility than the one I've already assumed for this dish. Allowing Dusk & Dawn to share the SI's (Su) effects (making Flame of the Shadow Sun a much more usable ability), or allowing one twin to recover maneuvers as a full-round action while the other does as they please would all lead to amped up power and versatility.



    The Sources For Real Ultimate Power!
    Spoiler
    Show

    Dragon Compendium (Dvati)
    Tome of Battle (Adaptive Style, Superior Unarmed Strike, Shadow Sun Ninja, Master of Nine, Swordsage, Maneuvers)
    SRD (Monk, Feats)
    Unearthed Arcana (Passive Way Monk variant)
    Lords of Madness (Darkstalker)

  15. - Top - End - #285
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Ra Ra.. Hamish?
    Quote Originally Posted by Hamish




    Source

    The Song of Hamish Half-Dead

    They went and killed Hamish in dark of night,
    stabbed him and burned him and left him to bleed.
    We all saw what happened come morning’s light.

    Hamish was brave as he stood in the street,
    protecting his town, but still they killed him,
    stabbed him and burned him and left him to bleed.

    An evil man will act on evil whim,
    and so evil men first saw poor Hamish
    protecting his town, but still they killed him.

    But without him, his children would famish,
    so he clawed his way out of his own grave.
    And so evil men first saw poor Hamish.

    Though they had killed him, still Hamish was brave.
    The evil men looked about them in fear.
    “So he clawed his way out of his own grave!”

    First shadows, then light, both blinded then seared.
    They went and killed Hamish in dark of night.
    The evil men looked about them in fear.
    We all saw what happened come morning’s light.

    HAMISH HALF-DEAD
    Spoiler
    Show

    Hamish Half-Dead
    Illumian (uurkrau) Warblade 7/Death Delver 3/Shadow Sun Ninja 10

    STATS (32-PB):
    Str 16/Dex 12/Con 12/Int 12/Wis 16/Cha 8
    • 4: +1 Str
    • 8: +1 Str
    • 12: +1 Wis
    • 16: +1 Wis
    • 20: +1 Str


    HAMISH HALF-DEAD
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features|Maneuvers

    1st|Warblade 1|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |Balance 4 ranks, concentration 4 ranks, jump 4 ranks, hide 4 ranks, knowledge (religion) 2 ranks|Martial Study (Shadow Blade Technique)|Battle clarity (reflex saves), weapon aptitude|Punishing Stance, Moment of Perfect Mind, Sudden Leap, Steel Wind, Shadow Blade Technique

    2nd|Warblade 2|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |Balance 5 ranks, concentration 5 ranks, hide 5 ranks, knowledge religion 2.5 ranks, heal .5 ranks||Uncanny dodge|Charging Minotaur

    3rd|Warblade 3|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |Concentration 6 ranks, hide 6 ranks, jump 5 ranks, knowledge (religion) 3 ranks, heal 1 rank|Improved Unarmed Strike|Battle ardor (critical confirmation)|Wall of Blades

    4th|Warblade 4|
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |Concentration 7 ranks, hide 7 ranks, jump 6 ranks, knowledge (religion) 3.5 ranks, heal 1.5 ranks|||Stance of Clarity, Steel Wind -> Emerald Razor

    5th|Warblade 5|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |Concentration 8 ranks, hide 8 ranks, jump 7 ranks, knowledge (religion) 4 ranks, heal 2 ranks|Ironheart Aura|Bonus feat|Iron Heart Surge

    6th|Warblade 6|
    +6/+1
    |
    +5
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |Sense motive 3 ranks, spellcraft 1 rank|Martial Study (baffling defense)|Improved uncanny dodge|Wall of Blades -> Insightful Strike, Baffling Defense

    7th|Death Delver 1|
    +6/+1
    |
    +7
    |
    +2
    |
    +4
    |Sense motive 4 ranks, spellcraft 4 ranks||Deathsense, rebuke undead|

    8th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +6/+1
    |
    +9
    |
    +4
    |
    +6
    |Concentration 9 ranks, hide 9 ranks, sense motive 5 ranks, move silently 2 ranks||Monk abilities, touch of the Shadow Sun|Comet Throw

    9th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +7/+2
    |
    +10
    |
    +5
    |
    +7
    |Concentration 10 ranks, hide 10 ranks, sense motive 6 ranks, move silently 4 ranks|Practiced Spellcaster (Death Delver)|Flame of the Shadow Sun|

    10th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +8/+3
    |
    +10
    |
    +5
    |
    +7
    |Hide 11 ranks, sense motive 8 ranks, move silently 6 ranks|||Mirrored Pursuit

    11th|Death Delver 2|
    +9/+4
    |
    +11
    |
    +5
    |
    +8
    |Hide 12 ranks, sense motive 10 ranks||Deadened soul, spontaneous casting|

    12th|Death Delver 3|
    +10/+5
    |
    +11
    |
    +6
    |
    +8
    |Hide 13 ranks, sense motive 12 ranks|Profane Aura|Death ward 1/day|

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +11/+6/+1
    |
    +12
    |
    +7
    |
    +9
    |Hide 14 ranks, sense motive 14 ranks, move silently 8 ranks||Light within darkness|

    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +11/+6/+1
    |
    +12
    |
    +7
    |
    +9
    |Hide 15 ranks, sense motive 15 ranks, move silently 11 ranks||Darkness within light|Shifting Defense

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +12/+7/+2
    |
    +13
    |
    +8
    |
    +10
    |Hide 16 ranks, sense motive 16 ranks, move silently 14 ranks|Darkstalker||Shadow Blink

    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +13/+8/+5
    |
    +13
    |
    +8
    |
    +10
    |Hide 17 ranks, sense motive 17 ranks, move silently 17 ranks||Void of the Shadow Sun|

    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +14/+9/+4
    |
    +14
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |Hide 19 ranks, sense motive 18 ranks, move silently 19 ranks||Child of shadow and light|

    18th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +14/+9/+4
    |
    +14
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |Hide 21 ranks, sense motive 19 ranks, move silently 21 ranks|Stormguard Warrior||Fool's Strike

    19th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +15/+10/+5
    |
    +15
    |
    +10
    |
    +12
    |Hide 22 ranks, sense motive 22 ranks, move silently 22 ranks||Balance of light and dark

    20th|Warblade 7|
    +16/+11/+6/+1
    |
    +15
    |
    +10
    |
    +12
    |Concentration 11 ranks, hide 23 ranks, sense motive 23 ranks, move silently 23 ranks||Battle cunning (damage)|Time Stands Still[/table]

    Maneuvers Known:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Maneuvers:
    • 1- Moment of Perfect Mind, Sudden Leap, Steel Wind, Charging Minotaur, Shadow Blade Technique
    • 2- Wall of Blades, Emerald Razor, Baffling Defense
    • 3- Iron Heart Surge, Insightful Strike
    • 4- Comet Throw
    • 5- Mirrored Pursuit
    • 6- Shadow Blink
    • 7- Fool's Strike
    • 9- Time Stands Still


    Stances:
    Punishing Stance, Stance of Clarity, Shifting Defense


    Spells per Day
    Spoiler
    Show

    Spells per day/Spells Known
    {table=head]Level|1st|2nd|3rd|4th

    7th|0|-|-|-

    8th|0|-|-|-

    9th|0|-|-|-

    10th|0|-|-|-

    11th|1|-|-|-

    12th|1|0|-|-

    13th|1|0|-|-

    14th|1|0|-|-

    15th|1|0|-|-

    16th|1|0|-|-

    17th|1|0|-|-

    18th|1|0|-|-

    19th|1|0|-|-

    20th|1|0|-|-[/table]


    Suggested Items
    Spoiler
    Show

    Hamish Half-Dead needs a solid two-handed reach weapon to function, ideally a guisarme. A reach weapon combines well with Improved Unarmed Strike to threaten a broad area, and also allows him to fully benefit from darkness within light by remaining far enough away to be completely obscured while fighting.

    Armor should be the best light armor he can afford. His skills are important, as is his mobility, so ACP and move penalties are important to avoid. Adding on the silent moves/shadow enhancements will also go a great way to improving his stealth.

    A collar of umbral metamorphosis is always a nice stealth option, although Hamish has several ways of introducing concealment, so it is not as essential as it could be. Still, it is nice.

    Stat boosters should focus on Strength, Wisdom and Constitution, and ToB items such as Shadow Hands and Rings of the Diamond Mind can help flesh out his maneuvers, giving him access to things like Moment of Alacrity or Stalker in the Night. His saves are high enough that he does not need many save boosters (his poorest save is Reflex, and with a base of +10 and battle clarity, even this is passable), and he has teleportation and similar effects to avoid many BFC effects, but a wand of Freedom of Movement still would not go amiss, as would a method of flight.

    Finally, there are several utility spells from the Death Delver list that would be useful on a wand, such as animate dead, restoration, speak with dead and protection from energy.


    Sources
    Spoiler
    Show

    • Tome of Battle
    • Heroes of Horror
    • Player's Handbook II
    • Complete Divine
    • Lords of Madness




    INTERLUDE
    Spoiler
    Show

    Hamish held his breath as the two ogres came pounding through the brush. Concealed as he was, he went unnoticed as they pushed past him.

    The first ogre spoke up, dragging behind him the rough oak branch torn from a tree he had been wielding like a club. "Don't see 'im," he grunted. "Can't smash 'im if I don't see 'im."

    The second ogre had a cunning look about him. "'e's here," he said. "Little mouse can't run far. 'e's hiding somewhere, that's all." He pulled a long and cruel blade from his belt.

    The ogres stood back to back, staring intently at the brush about them. Hamish closed his eyes. Absentmindedly, he brushed his fingers against the criss-crossing of scars that covered his arms, the burns. He had been left for dead once, brought back by faith and magic. He thought of that time spent in the cold ground, buried and dead and unable to protect those he loved. Though his heart burned with a powerful flame, burned like the sun, the grave had left a shadow, a darkness, across him.

    That was alright, he thought. He had need of shadow today.

    He called on that dead part of him, the part that had never truly come back, even after he was resurrected. He called on the cold ground, the emptiness. As he did, a cold and clammy mist began rising from the ground all about him. The ogres looked around in confusion. It grew thicker, billowing about like a fog. Soon he could barely see his hand in front of his face.

    "What's goin' on?" The first ogre whirled around, trying to squint through the fog. "Can't see a thing. Where is the little bugger?"

    Hamish stepped out of hiding. Though he could not see them through the fog, he could sense the life of the two ogres in front of him, feel them fighting off the cold hand of death.

    Again he closed his eyes. He let his deathsense fade away, and trusted to the darkness. Spinning his guisarme, he began to strike.

    The ogres grunted in pain and confusion. Out of the fog, there came a great many painful slashes. Hamish moved about constantly, shifting away every time they would swing at him blindly, keeping them guessing. And the whole time, his blade would bite at their legs and arms, sweep their feet from under them or nick at their throats. It was maddening, like trying to fighting a swarm of bees.

    The Hamish stepped forward, and this time he became naught but light and fury. This time he called on the part of him that lived, the part of him that struggled through the coldness of death, that came back even after he had been burnt alive by bandits. A faint glow flickered around the edges of his body, followed by a blinding radiance. He burned brighter than a torch, brighter than the stars in the sky. He burned like the sun, and the ogres cowered in his blistering glare.

    "Tonight I offer you mercy," he said, his voice burning and terrible. "But only tonight. Take my mercy and leave this place, forever. I will not offer it again."

    Though he was still blinded, the second ogre was never one to be cowed. He brought his great blade up before him and sneered. "And if we don't?" Flecks of spittle flew from his wide mouth.

    For a moment, the brilliant light flickered. Hamish felt the coldness of shadow, of death, begin to take over. At first the ogres were heartened to see this light fade, but the shadows that replaced it were even more terrible. This time when Hamish spoke, it was with a voice as cold as the grave.

    "If you do not," he whispered, placing one hand just under the chin of the second ogre, as though he were about to caress him, "if you do not, then I will suck the life from you. I will drain your very soul, until you are naught but shadow." One finger flicked forward and delicately brushed against the ogre's rough face. The ogre's knees wobbled and he could feel himself weaken. "My mercy fades like the setting sun," Hamish whispered. "Will you take what is left of it and go? Or do you wish to see the terrible things that live only in the dark depths of night?"

    And with a great clattering of wood and steel, the ogres fled, leaving a wide and wicked path behind them.


    LEVEL-BY-LEVEL (sweet spot in red)
    Spoiler
    Show

    • LEVEL 1: You start off as a fairly standard warblade with a bit of stealth mixed in. Punishing Stance is powerful enough at this level to punch through most single enemies fairly easily, and your maneuvers are focused on repositioning and attacking multiple foes.
    • LEVEL 3: Improved Unarmed Strike comes online, allowing you to threaten adjacent enemies while still wielding your guisarme. You've also picked up Charging Minotaur, which deals some handy damage alongside a move and offers some BFC, and Wall of Blades, the first of your counters.
    • LEVEL 6: These last three levels have brought you the defensive beast that is Iron Heart Surge. You've also gone ahead and swapped out Wall of Blades for a maneuver that will help you fill pre-reqs down the road; don't worry, because in turn you've picked up Baffling Defense and begun boosting your sense motive checks.
    • LEVEL 7: Death Delver seems like an odd choice, but here it fits. Deathsense at will gives you a near-unbeatable alternative method of detection. The wisdom focus of the class means you'll be picking up useful defensive spells (plus the ability to animate the dead - always handy, and about to get handier). Finally, this is just about the only way to get rebuke undead on a good character. That'll be handy later.
    • LEVEL 8: ...and it follows up with our first level of Shadow Sun Ninja. Right off the bat, both defense and offense improve considerably thanks to the monk abilities. Touch of the Shadow Sun combines well with Animate Dead and Command Undead off of the Death Delver list, as well as rebuking/controlling, to generate infinite off-turn healing. You also start picking up some nice Setting Sun maneuvers - Comet Throw is a handy powerup from Charging Minotaur here.
    • LEVEL 9: Practiced Spellcaster is primarily here for when you pick up second level spells, and to fill a pre-req that will become apparent soon - alongside your krau sigil, it means you have a CL of 7 despite only a single Death Delver level. Flame of the Shadow Sun gives you a handy (if situational) ranged attack.
    • LEVEL 12: These last three levels were significant. On the maneuver side, Mirrored Pursuit is a handy tool that can give you some off-turn movement, especially when combined with stealth to approach enemies unaware. But hey, don't you need some sort of concealment to remain hidden? Enter Profane Aura, which gives you the ability to surround yourself with a mobile 60' cloud of cold, clammy mist. This gives you concealment (up to total concealment) on demand, and allows you to harry enemies without any of them realizing what is coming. You've also picked up immunity to fear, a free death ward effect, and second level spells - now you can use things like Command Undead without a wand, for no-save control over mindless undead for nine days.
    • LEVEL 15: Your two latest Shadow Sun Ninja abilities are huge. Light within darkness gives you free chances to make hide attempts followed up by a handy blinding effect. Best of all, though, is darkness within light. Profane Aura means that everything more than 5' out has total concealment, meaning that your enemies are effectively blinded when you fight with a reach weapon. This means that you can ignore their concealment in turn, and in fact fight better than you did before. Yes, not only are you providing powerful BFC with a huge fog effect that can't be blown away, you are also able to fight in that fog as if it wasn't there. Darkstalker and Shifting Defense provide the finishing touches, by allowing you to use this even against enemies with blindsense, blindsight, etc., and by giving you additional off-turn movement to move from enemy to enemy and to provide more opportunities for Hide checks, while Shadow Blink gives you excellent teleportation as a swift action.
    • LEVEL 18: Void of the shadow and Fool's Strike give you two more defensive abilities, with the former also granting a potent area attack for those who pierce your defenses. Child of shadow and light perfectly captures your dual nature, and serves as a powerful debuff, dazzling enemies with no save and blinding all whose sight cannot pierce magical darkness. Blink across the battlefield, blinding enemies, fighting with a mix of guisarme strikes and unarmed attacks as you avoid attacks and take down your foes. You also pick up Stormguard Warrior, a handy tactical feat that will become even more handy next level...
    • LEVEL 20: ...when you pick up balance of light and dark, your capstone ability. This is quite powerful, increasing your stealth by a significant margin and making you immune to a wide berth of attacks. Even better is the fact that you are now dealing negative levels with each successful unarmed strike. Note that this works with any successful unarmed strike. Now look at Combat Rhythm from Stormguard Warrior. You can make a full attack of unarmed strike as touch attacks, dealing negative levels and charging up combat rhythm for next round. After dealing several negative levels and using your counters and Shifting Defense to negate any counter attacks, you can follow up with a huge follow up attack, dealing more negative levels and an additional +5 damage for each previous attack. With Time Stands Still, you can even do this twice in a row, dishing out eight to ten negative levels a round while simultaneously giving yourself a considerable damage boost. Then, use your Death Delver spells to restore away any lost constitution so that you can do it all over again.



    WHAT CAN HAMISH HALF-DEAD DO?
    Spoiler
    Show
    OFFENSE
    With +16 BAB, an IL of 18, 9th-level maneuvers, and the ability to attack enemies both at reach and close up, Hamish has a wide variety of offensive option. He starts with high damaging maneuvers and stances at level one (Punishing Stance and maneuvers like Steel Wind and Charging Minotaur can easily punch through most CR-appropriate encounters), and gradually shifts focus to attacks that debuff, reposition and harry.

    In particular, Hamish has several maneuvers that reposition, throw or otherwise restrain enemies. He can blind enemies, fire off bolts of flame, dazzle entire armies, surround himself with a huge, mobile cloud of concealing vapors, plunge the entire battlefield into magical darkness, make large area attacks to take out crowds of mooks, and dish out negative levels. Stormguard Warrior both provides a boost and allows him to make these levels as a touch attack - combined with Time Stands Still, he can dish out ten negative levels in a single round as touch attacks, giving his following attack a sizable +50 bonus to damage.

    Hamish Half-Dead manages to do this all without falling back on the usual crutch that is Power Attack. In fact, he excels in situations where a typical ubercharger simply does not function - he functions well despite concealment and miss chances, he has a wide variety of short-range tactical movement options, and he has sources of bonus damage and debuffing effects that don't rely on charging or on cutting into his attack bonus.

    His affinity with death also means that the undead are no threat to him, between rebuking and no-save spells such as Hide from Undead and Command Undead.

    DEFENSE
    Hamish spends much of his time hidden or concealed, which provides a natural defense against most attacks. For those who do locate him, he can evade most direct attacks with counters such as Wall of Blades, Baffling Defense and Fool's Strike, and foil chargers and full attacks with Shifting Defense. His AC is high thanks to his Wisdom focus and monk abilities, as well as void of the shadow sun. He can also shift out of the way via Shifting Defense or shadow blink across the battlefield.

    Against other sorts of attacks, Hamish boasts excellent saving throws, immunity to fear, death ward, infinite out of combat healing, a variety of spells such as Lesser Restoration and Resist Energy, and the powerful Iron Heart Surge. With all of this, he is nearly impossible to stop or contain - lock him down, and he can IHS away the effect, use Profane Aura to pick up concealment, and move away into hiding.

    UTILITY
    Hamish Half-Dead is a competent scout, thanks to maxed out Hide and Move Silently (boosted further with uur sigil and balance of light and dark), Darkstalker, an at-will Deathwatch effect to notice enemies, and the ability to create concealment or darkness on demand.

    Hamish has a wide range of options from his Death Delver spells, including defensive buffs and healing spells, fear effects, undead animation and mastery, and the powerful utility of Speak with Dead. Though he will need wands to unlock your higher level spells, he can use them to nab things like Freedom of Movement and Enervation.

    Max ranks in Sense Motive plus a Wisdom focus means Hamish is not simply twiddling his thumbs during social encounters, either.

  16. - Top - End - #286
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Isn't there a saying about how Justice is blind?
    Quote Originally Posted by Justice
    Justice



    Monk 1/Swordsage 4/Scout 5/Shadow Sun Ninja 10 Sharakim

    {table=head]Ability|Base Score|Modifiers|Final Score

    Strength|10|+2 Racial|12
    Dexterity|16|-2 Racial|14
    Constitution|15|[email protected] 4|16
    Intelligence|10|+2 Racial|12
    Wisdom|16|[email protected] 8,12,16,20|20
    Charisma|8|-2 Racial|6[/table]

    The Fluff
    Spoiler
    Show
    Justice was born Alain Bakesworth to a small, relatively isolated Sharakim community. He spent his younger years working under his mother, who served as the village's herbalist and doctor. The village made it's living by growing rare plants and trading them in the nearest city, five days away. As Alain grew into adolescence he gained an interest in the outside world and began to serve as bodyguard for the village's traders, but this proved to be a poor vocation for him. On his first trip the traders were beset by bandits on the return trip and an errant sword destroyed Alain's eyes.

    After being blinded, Alain fell into depression. Sharakim are taught from birth that they are flawed creatures, corrupted by an ancient sin. This causes their entire society to be based off of ingratiating themselves with other races out of a deep-seated desire to be useful and prove that they aren't beasts. Alain's uselessness eventually bothered him so much that he set off into the wilderness to either find a way to survive and learn to be useful somehow or at least be useful in death as something's meal. Alain survived, and over the years honed his sense of smell beyond that of any humanoid he'd ever heard of. He became the self-appointed warden of his forest and refined a strange, defensive fighting style during his limited interaction with other sentient beings.

    Alain's wardenship came to an end when his forest was claimed as a hideout for a bandit gang. Their presence alone annoyed Alain, but the lack of respect they showed the forest and their habit of drunkenly killing the fauna for fun enraged him. Late one night Alain stole into their camp with a bucket of water, extinguished their fire and murdered them while they panicked in the darkness. A couple had managed to light torches before they died, but Alain didn't notice the heat and they were left where they fell when the bandits died. Far too late Alain realized that the forest had caught on fire and fled, the knowledge of his failure (and blame) flooding him with guilt. Alain died a death, of sorts, that day, becoming a creature fueled by grief and anger. He robbed and even killed those that he came across on his journey, though he also had a fair number of near-death encounters.

    Some time later the nameless husk that had been Alain came to an isolated monastery and before he could demand food he was invited in and offered a meal and a bed for the night. The kindness shook something deep inside him and instead of stealing food and valuables, he stayed for another day. The head of the monastery managed to pry his story out of him and told him that their training could not only fix him, it would redeem his actions. Justice was born that day and he found that the training resonated with the racial shame that had been pounded into him through his childhood, leading to an easy understanding of the integral concepts the monastery taught. Over time he absolved himself of his guilt and became a true force of good.


    The Crunch
    Spoiler
    Show
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Swordsage 1|
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |28|Blind-Fight|Quick to Act (+1), Discipline Focus (Weapon Focus (Setting Sun))

    2nd|Swordsage 2|
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |7||AC Bonus

    3rd|Scout 1|
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |9|Improved Scent|Skirmish (1d6), Trapfinding

    4th|Scout 2|
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |9||Battle Fortitude +1, Uncanny Dodge

    5th|Scout 3|
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +1
    |9||Skirmish (1d6, 1 AC), Fast Movement, Trackless Step

    6th|Monk 1|
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |5|Stunning Fist, Uncanny Scent|Bonus Feat, Flurry of Blows, Unarmed Strike

    7th|Swordsage 3|
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |7||

    8th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |5||Monk Abilities, Touch of the Shadow Sun

    9th|Scout 4|
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +1
    |
    +0
    |9|Intuitive Attack, Hear the Unseen|Bonus Feat

    10th|Scout 5|
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |9||Skirmish (2d6, 1 AC), Evasion

    11th|Swordsage 4|
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |7||Discipline Focus (Insightful Strike (Diamond Mind))

    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |5|Improved Skirmish|Flame of the Shadow Sun

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |5||

    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |5||Light Within Darkness

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |5|Pain Touch|Darkness Within Light

    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |5||

    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |5||Void of the Shadow Sun

    18th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |5|Improved Natural Attack|Child of Shadow and Light

    19th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |5||

    20th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |5||Balance of Light and Dark[/table]



    Maneuvers
    {table=head]Level|Maneuvers Known|Maneuvers Readied|Stances Known

    1st | 6 | 4 | 1

    2nd | 7 | 4 | 2

    3rd | 7 | 4 | 2

    4th | 7 | 4 | 2

    5th | 7 | 4 | 2

    6th | 7 | 4 | 2

    7th | 8 | 5 | 2

    8th | 9 | 5 | 2

    9th | 9 | 5 | 2

    10th | 9 | 5 | 2

    11th | 10 | 5 | 2

    12th | 10 | 5 | 2

    13th | 11 | 5 | 2

    14th | 11 | 5 | 2

    15th | 11 | 6 | 3

    16th | 12 | 6 | 3

    17th | 12 | 6 | 3

    18th | 12 | 6 | 3

    19th | 13 | 6 | 3

    20th | 13 | 7 | 3[/table]


    Tactics, Items, Etc
    Spoiler
    Show
    Blindness means Justice has a limited range. His max speed is 30ft after the Scout's Fast Movement and he can only pinpoint enemies within 5ft (20ft starting at level six). Even with Blind-Fight's re-roll, he still loses effectiveness to concealment, but the build is playable without magic items.

    Justice's main source of damage is skirmish, which means he moves around quite a bit and Tumbles almost as often. He makes every effort he can to take full advantage of his blindness; for the most part this means he tries to blind others, forcing them to fight on unfamiliar terms. Flash Pellets, Flashstones, Smokesticks and Spy Buttons (Smoke) are all used to effectively blind his foes, and with ranks in Craft (Alchemy) he can guarantee a steady source of these items.

    Justice likes to limit his enemies' movement so they can't escape his detection range. Stunning Fist helps with this, but the Setting Sun throwing chain (Mighty Throw, et al) will be the commonly used tactic. The Nightmare Blade maneuvers from Diamond Mind are used to help negate Justice's initial pathetic attack bonus. Mind Over Body helps compensate for his low Fort save.

    Liquid Ice and Freeze Powder allow him to trigger Flame of the Shadow sun's fire bolt at will and, being alchemical items, we can reasonably assume he has some at any given time. Flash Pellets and Flash Stones are both useful for using Darkness within Light without the need to hide+attack beforehand (to trigger Light Within Darkness).

    Once available Justice will often use Darkness Within Light for the buff it gives his Stunning Fist, because with Pain Touch his foes are incapacitated for two rounds and the less they can act, the better.

    Justice carries a mundane buckler, though it is not equipped by default. It's only use is to lower his AC (Swordsage/Monk AC bonus is lost when using a shield) in an attempt to trigger Void of the Shadow Sun's darkness pulse.

    Moving to the wishlist items, Justice benefits greatly from the Blindfold of True Darkness, from Magic Item Compendium. It doesn't increase his effective range by much (30ft) but it allows him to exit Hunter's Sense and use other stances (such as Assassin's Stance and Pearl of Black Doubt) and, more importantly, negates the concealment that is otherwise a major annoyance to this build.

    An item of constant Synesthete or Touchsight (both Expanded Psionics Handbook) is even better than the Blindfold, but the former is vague on how, exactly, it interacts with blindness and the later costs five times the Blindfold, making it a higher-level option. A competence item of Listen helps drastically in making listen checks to pinpoint enemies, but is inferior to the previous items by itself.

    As with any character, ability-boosters are greatly appreciated and put to good use. A Belt of Battle allows Justice to escape sticky situations and lets him use Hear the Unseen and still move+attack in the same round (or equip his buckler to set up a Void of the Shadow Sun pulse). Fluff-wise a Belt of Hidden Pouches is a favorite of mine and provides easy access to the various alchemical items he'll be using, but is hardly necessary.

    Finally, Justice has no built-in way to avoid the drawback to Balance of Light and Dark, so a Talisman of Undying Fortitude is necessary to use it to it's full potential. Lacking that, a Rod of Bodily Restoration helps but is not ideal. Non-item-wise, Necropolitan is also an option and fits nicely with the fluff of the SSN (embracing the evil of undeath to serve good for a potential eternity), but is undesirable without LA buyoff. With it, however, Necropolitan is go, no question, and negates the need for either of the previous items.


    Level Analysis
    Spoiler
    Show

    Levels 1-5 are easily the hardest with this build. Scent's range is only 30ft until level 3, but even then it only doubles. Pinpointing is impossible until enemies are within melee range (or with an exceedingly good listen check), meaning there will be quite a bit of time spent chasing down foes and fighting defensively. Until level 5 movement is capped at 3/4 30ft, which rounds down to 20ft. At level 5 he can move 30ft/round due to Scout's Fast Movement.

    Levels 6-10 see a huge increase in viability. Uncanny Scent allows pinpointing within 20ft so in your standard fight the odds are good that Justice will be within range of an enemy on any given turn unless they are actively avoiding him. Intuitive Attack increases his to-hit significantly and Stunning Fist allows him to keep important foes nearby.

    Levels 11-15 are getting even better. Improved Skirmish adds significant damage output, Flame of the Shadow Sun gives a ranged option that is reliable within 20ft and Light Within Darkness/Darkness Within Light will be a commonly used combo. Pain Touch incapacitates stunned foes longer and doesn't require a second save (I'm looking at you, Freezing the Lifeblood...).

    Levels 16-20 only improve upon the previous five, though the only game-changer is Balance of Light and Dark. In the right situations, however, Void of the Shadow Sun can be quite the heavy-hitter.

    Sweet-Spot: Due to the fact that I can't guarantee Con-damage-negation, I'll ignore balance of Light and Shadow and say that the sweet spot is level 17. Darkness Within Light will be used often for stunning purposes, a couple higher-level maneuvers have been learned and Void of the Shadow Sun is useful to have around.


    Sources
    Spoiler
    Show

    Player's Handbook - Monk, Stunning Fist, Blind Fight, Smokestick
    Monster Manual - Improved Natural Attack
    Book of Nine Swords - Swordsage, Maneuvers, Shadow Sun Ninja
    Complete Adventurer - Scout, Hear the Unseen, Flash Pellet
    Complete Scoundrel - Improved Skirmish
    Complete Warrior - Pain Touch
    Forstburn - Freeze Powder
    Book of Exalted Deeds - Intuitive Attack
    Savage Species - Improved Scent, Uncanny Scent
    Dragon Magazine Compendium - Spy Button (Smoke), Flash Powder, Liquid Ice

  17. - Top - End - #287
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Alternate Name: Inigo Montoya, the Dread Pirate Roberts
    Quote Originally Posted by Ran Rand
    Ran Rand, the Whispering Fist

    Chaotic Good Human worshiper of Lirr
    Divine Bard 1/Crusader 4/Dirgesinger 5/Shadow Sun Ninja 10

    Background
    Spoiler
    Show

    Ran grew up in a carefree lifestyle. Both of his parents were Bards, both loved locally within their village, but not renowned beyond locally. Ran's parents brought him up to be a Divine Bard. He learned the basics and at 16 had learned all the basics. As a devoted Bard to Lir, he used Poetry and Odes to generate his Bardic Music effects. But Lirr came to Ran in a dream and told him to become her Crusader. Ran's abilities as a Crusader mimicked his Bardic Abilities; they produced effects to help his fellow warriors.
    Ran's father had run up significant debts creating the public library for their small village. One day a six fingered man appeared in the village to collect on the debt. Ran saw his entire family killed while he tried to protect them from a six fingered man. Ran was nearly killed and would have been had his friend Evin not dragged him away.
    Ran became a despondent drunk (alignment changing from Chaotic Good to Chaotic Neutral). Ran wondered from tavern to Tavern using his Bardic abilities to pay for more ale. The progressively more saddening songs quickly had powerful effects on crowds. Ran gained some renowned by uniquely performing such sad epics. Ran started playing bigger and bigger villages. Ran was every bit a drunk, but he had become a successful Bard none the less. Ran was to play his biggest performance of his life. Ran's friend from his crusading days, Evin Bader, came to see the performance.
    Prior to the performance, Ran noticed the six fingered man sitting at the table of prominence. Ran asked about the six fingered man and found out that his name was Baron Von Dam. Von Dam had ruthlessly risen through the ranks of the banking world. That night would be the angriest performance of Ran's life. Von Dam left with his entourage, and Ran decided that more than anything, he needed revenge for the death of his family. Ran followed Von Dam's bodyguard and killed him and used his music to “Awaken” the bodyguard who was able to walk right in and kill a defenseless Von Dam. The assassination of the person brought no comfort. Ran was distraught. Luckily Evin suggested Ran do penance as a Shadow Sun Ninja.
    Ran swore an oath to be Good (alignment changes from Chaotic Neutral to Chaotic Good). And learned from the Shadowy Master that Evin introduced Ran too. Ran's powers have grown, he now is capable of animating the dead with performance. His touch can heal that undead or his living allies. Ran hones his ninja powers in hopes of making a safer place for the downtrodden.




    Build Details
    Spoiler
    Show


    List Alternate Class Features Used
    • Divine Bard from Unearthed Arcana

    Skill Tricks in Italics [Complete Scoundrel]
    NAME OF ENTRY
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|New Class Abilities

    1st|Divine Bard|
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |Bluff 1, Climb 1, Bluff 1, Concentrate 1, Diplomacy 1, Disguise 1, Escape Artist 1, Gather Information 1, Hide 4, Jump 1, Knowledge Arcana 1, Knowledge Nature 1, Listen 2, Move Silently 4, Perform 4, Sleight of Hand 1, Spellcraft 4, Swim 1, Tumble 1, Use Magical Device 4|Improved Unarmed Strike, Martial Study (Clinging Shadow Strike)| Bardic Music, Bardic Knowledge, Countersong, Fascinate, Inspire Courage +1

    2nd|Crusader|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |Knowledge Religion 1, Balance 1, Intimidate 1, Martial Lore 1, Perform 5, Ride 1|-|Furious Counterstrike, Steely Resolve 5

    3rd|Crusader|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |Knowledge Religion 2, Perform 6, Hide 6|Martial Study (Counter Charge)|Indomitable Soul

    4th|Crusader|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |Knowledge Religion 3, Perform 7, Hide 7, Use Magical Device 5|-|Zealous Surge

    5th|Crusader|
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |Knowledge Religion 4, Perform 8, Hide 8, Use Magical Device 6|-|Steely Resolve 10

    6th|Dirgesinger|
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +3
    |
    +5
    |Hide 9, Perform 9, Use Magical Device 8|Requiem|Song of Sorrow

    7th|Dirgesinger|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |Hide 10, Perform 10, Use Magical Device 10|-|Song of Bolstering

    8th|Dirgesinger|
    +6
    |
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +6
    |Hide 11, Perform 11, Use Magical Device 11, Skill Trick|-|Song of Grief

    9th|Dirgesinger|
    +7
    |
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +7
    |Knowledge Religion 5, Knowledge History 1, Hide 12, Perform 12, Use Magical Device 12, Skill Trick - Collector of Stories|Marital Study (Cloak of Deception)|Song of Horror

    10th|Dirgesinger|
    +7
    |
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +7
    |Hide 13, Perform 13, Spot 1, Use Magical Device 13|-|Song of Awakening

    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +7
    |
    +7
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |Hide 14, Knowledge the Planes 1, Move Silently 5, Perform 14, Spot 4|-|Monk Abilities, Touch of the Shadow Sun

    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +8
    |
    +8
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    |Hide 15, Listen 3, Move Silently 6, Perform 15, Spot 7 |Subsonics|Flame of the Shadow Sun

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +9
    |
    +8
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    |Hide 16, Listen 4, Move Silently 7, Perform 16, Spot 10|-|-

    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +10
    |
    +9
    |
    +8
    |
    +11
    |Hide 17, Listen 4, Perform 17, Spot 12, Skill Trick - Spot the Weak Point|-|Light within Darkness

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +10
    |
    +9
    |
    +8
    |
    +11
    |Hide 18, Listen 5, Move Silently 8, Perform 18, Spot 13, Use Magical Device 13|Dark Stalker|Darkness within Light

    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +11
    |
    +10
    |
    +9
    |
    +12
    |Hide 19, Listen 6, Move Silently 9, Perform 19, Spot 14, Use Magical Device 14|-|-

    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +12
    |
    +10x
    |
    +9
    |
    +12
    |Hide 20, Listen 7, Move Silently 10, Perform 20, Spot 15, Use Magical Device 15|-|Void of the Shadow Sun

    18th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +13
    |
    +11
    |
    +10
    |
    +13
    |Hide 21, Listen 8, Move Silently 11, Perform 21, Spot 16, Use Magical Device 16|Martial Stance (Immortal Fortitude)|Child of Shadow and Light

    19th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +13
    |
    +11
    |
    +10
    |
    +13
    |Hide 22, Listen 8, Move Silently 12, Perform 22, Spot 17, Use Magical Device 17|-|-

    20th|Shadow Sun Ninja|
    +14
    |
    +12
    |
    +11
    |
    +14
    |Hide 23, Listen 9, Move Silently 13, Perform 23, Spot 18, Use Magical Device 18|-|Balance of Light and Dark[/table]
    Final Skill Ranks
    Spoiler
    Show

    Balance 1, Bluff 1, Climb 1, Bluff 1, Concentrate 1, Diplomacy 1, Disguise 1, Escape Artist 1, Gather Information 1, Hide 23, Intimidate 1, Jump 1, Knowledge Arcana 1, Knowledge History 1, Knowledge Nature 1, Knowledge the Planes 1, Knowledge Religion 5, Listen 9, Martial Lore 1, Move Silently 14, Perform 23, Ride 1, Sleight of Hand 1, Spellcraft 4, Spot 18, Swim 1, Tumble 1, Use Magical Device 18
    Skill Tricks: Collector of Stories, Spot the Weak Point

    Starting Abilities (32 Point Buy)
    Strength 12
    Dexterity 12
    Constitution 14
    Intelligence 14
    Wisdom 14
    Charisma 14


    Divine Bard Spells – Table
    Spoiler
    Show

    Spells per day/Spells Known
    {table=head]Level|0lvl|1st|2nd|3rd|4th|5th|6th|7th|8th|9th

    1st|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    2nd|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    3rd|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    4th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    5th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    6th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    7th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    8th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    9th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    10th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    11th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    12th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    13th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    14th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    15th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    16th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    17th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    18th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    19th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    20th|2/4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-[/table]

    Spells Known: Detect Magic, Ghost Sound, Mage Hand, Read Magic

    Tome of Battle Table
    Spoiler
    Show

    Maneuvers Known/Maneuvers Readied(Available at Start of Encounter)
    {table=head]Level|0lvl|1st|2nd|3rd|4th|5th|6th|7th|8th|9th

    1st|special|Clinging Shadow Strike|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    2nd|5/5(2)|Vanguard Strike, Crusader Strike, Leading the Attack, Douse the Flames, Stone Bones, Iron Guard's Glare|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    3rd|5/5(2)|Counter Charge, Bolstering Voice|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    4th|6/5(2)-|Mountain Hammer|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    5th|6/5(2)|-|Shield Block for Stone Bones|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    6th|6/5(2)|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    7th|6/5(2)|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    8th|6/5(2)|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    9th|6/5(2)|-|Cloak of Deception|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    10th|6/5(2)-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    11th|7/5(2)|-|-|-|Hand of Death|-|-|-|-|-

    12th|7/5(2)|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    13th|8/5(2)|-|-|-|-|Shadow Stride|-|-|-|-

    14th|8/5(2)|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    15th|8/6(2)|-|-|-|-|Step of the Dancing Moth|-|-|-|-

    16th|9/6(2)|-|-|-|-|-|-|Death in the Dark|-|-

    17th|9/6(2)|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    18th|9/6(2)|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|Immortal Fortitude|-

    19th|10/6(2)|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|Enervating Shadow Strike|-

    20th|10/7(2)|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-[/table]

    Maneuvers at Level 20
    Spoiler
    Show

    Special: Clinging Shadow Strike is a once per encounter maneuver that cannot be recovered or used by his Crusader maneuvers. (Clinging Strike counts as a prerequisite).

    Known: Vanguard Strike, Crusader Strike, Leading the Attack, Douse the Flames, [strikeout]Stone Bones[/strikeout], Counter Charge, Mountain Hammer, Shield Block, Cloak of Deception, Hand of Death, Shadow Stride, Death in the Dark, Enervating Shadow Strike

    Readied: Cloak of Deception, Enervating Shadow Strike, Counter Charge, Shield Block, Shadow Stride, Hand of Death, Leading the Attack

    Stances: Iron Guard's Glare, Bolstering Voice, Step of the Dancing Moth, Immortal Fortitude

    Maneuvers Known from Items: Strike of Righteous Vitality, White Raven Tactics, possibly others (See Below)

    Equipment
    Spoiler
    Show

    Interestingly this is a very item dependent build. You unquestionably will want a Master Devoted Spirit Amulet. This allows you to know the maneuver, Strike of Righteous Vitality grants an effect like a Heal spell. This allows you to use your Balance of Light and Dark and remove all of the Constitution damage that you will take from using it. This also lets you heal if you are in your Immortal Fortitude stance.
    The other Wondrous Items that grant knowledge to martial adepts are less necessary, but none the less add a lot to this build. Just a novice Crown of White Raven allows you to use White Raven Tactics which you'll want at level 10 when you can start awakening an Undead enemy, this can effectively allow the Undead to take two turns. Shadow Hands would be considered a luxury, but there are a number of really solid high level Shadow Hand Maneuvers we just aren't able to get because Shadow Sun Ninja doesn't grant very many maneuvers at all. Stone Dragon Belt of the Scholar can allow you to grab Giant's Stance which allows you to do damage as if you were one size larger, which can boost your unarmed strike damage and the healing you can do with Touch of the Shadow Sun. You certainly have a good number of Setting Sun maneuvers, I'd look at getting the highest level of throw you can afford because you may want to be able to do some battlefield positioning.

    • Master Devoted Spirit Amulet (price 45,000 gp)
    • Novice Crown of White Raven (price 3,000 gp)
    • Master Shadow Hands (price 45,000 gp)
    • Scholar Stone Dragon Belt (price 15,000 gp)
    • Scholar Slippers of Setting Sun (price 15,000 gp)


    This that increase your unarmed damage include the Monk's Belt, Monk's Tattoo, Mighty Arms & Battle Fist. This build doesn't enter Shadow Sun Ninja with a Monk's unarmed damage progression. So some of these might not pass muster with your DM's interpretation of what Shadow Sun Ninja's class ability Monk abilities grants non-monks entering the class. Battle Fist will definitely work, but its a lot to fluff and a lot of money to spend for one size increase especially if you aren't maximizing your unarmed strike damage. The simplest way is a wand of Greater Mighty Wallop , from Races of the Dragon. It can give you the damage of a much larger creature with one simple spell. I'm not trying to redo the King of Smack build, but Greater Mighty Wallop by itself does a lot to making your unarmed damage something that is relevant.

    • Monk's Belt
    • Monk's Tattoo
    • Battlefist with Might Arms Graft
    • Wand of Greater Mighty Wallop


    The last special item(s) this build really wants are ways to carry corpses. Your normal tactic is to kill something from hiding with a maneuver like Death in the Dark, then awaken the toughest thing you can kill in a surprise round (often an enemy caster). But with a Handy Haversack, a Wand of Gentle Repose and Wand of Shrink Item you can keep a few corpses in the Haversack to pull out a corpse that might have a special purpose. Having an on level caster in your backpack can be a little ghoulish, but it has a lot of utility. But these can be used much like scrolls allowing you to have some neat utility belt of creatures. The wand of Gentle Repose allows you to keep the corpses fresh enough to be awakened with your Song of Awakening, and doesn't have to be used every day so one charge a day may keep several corpses fresh enough to use. The Wand of Shrink Item may or may not work on a corpse depending on a DM's ruling. Once shrunk, the Handy Haversack just adds a little to the fun of pulling out just the right corpse at the needed moment. If your DM won't let you shrink corpses, then look for a Wagon and just pull the corpses. The corpses won't smell or anything if they have Gentle Repose cast on them, of course some of the larger corpses may not be easily mobile if you can't shrink them. If you have access to Golems or animals, look for ones that carry corpses like a Cadaver Collector, Harpoon Spider, or Carrion Crab. The more allies you have the more effective many of your maneuvers will be.

    • Wand of Gentle Repose
    • Wand of Shrink Item and Handy Haversack
    • Wagon with a Horse to pull it
    • Get the use of an animal or golem like: Cadaver Collector, Harpoon Spider, or Carrion Crab



    Build Notes and Strategy
    Spoiler
    Show

    Level 1-5
    Spoiler
    Show

    At these levels, Ran plays much like a Crusader. Your maneuvers are designed to protect allies and to make them more lethal. At low levels the buffs and debuffs that you can place upon enemies will greatly support the brawlers that are good at low levels. You have one use of Music a day so make it count. But you should have a good number of Hit Points from your Crusader levels and your Steely Resolve. Mountain Hammer gives you a good way to damage items, usually doors that won't open since it bypasses hardness and damage reduction.

    Level 6-10
    Spoiler
    Show

    Here you become a Dirgesinger. You are increasing your number of Bardic Musics per day. You'll find ways to use all your song abilities, but the capstone Song of Awakening allows you to turn a corpse that has been dead for less than one hour into your “do guy”. This corpse is undead, but can be up to your character level, this means it scales for the rest of your adventuring career. If you Awaken a caster, the caster has any spells available he hadn't yet cast for the day. No matter what you awaken, your maneuvers will greatly enhance what the corpse can do for you. DM's may vary on how long they allow you to keep a corpse awakened. Potentially you can keep them going for a really long time, but DM's may want to place limits on how long you can keep performing.
    Cloak of Deception allows you to disappear if you need to get away from a fight and Hide. You are really good at Hiding and this allows you to get away during a fight to Hide. This can allow you to recharge maneuvers or to just allow your corpse to do all the heavy lifting.
    Two items are important to try to get by level 10, a Wand of Gentle Repose and a Crown of White Raven. Gentle Repose allows you to awaken corpses at a later time, often you may want a corpse at the beginning of a fight, this gives you a way to do it. Crown of White Raven allows you to use White Raven Tactics maneuver and effectively give your corpse or another ally another turn.

    Level 11-15
    Spoiler
    Show

    Here you are getting to the secret ingredient. Your Touch of Shadow Sun allows you to heal your Awakened Corpse or any other Undead that might be an ally. The healing touches only require a swift action to use as opposed to attacks. If you don't have an undead ally then you should attack early and hold the positive energy to heal yourself or an ally as the fight goes on. But once you have an undead ally you can use a swift action to heal someone each turn. Get a wand of Greater Mighty Wallop to greatly increase the damage you do with an unarmed attack and thus also your healing.
    Stealth is a big bonus you get in these levels. Subsonics comes online here to allow you to perform Bardic Music without making any audible noise. You are a ninja with many levels in Hide and a few in Move Silently. This will allow you to be both stealthy and not have to dismiss your corpse. Darkstalker seems like all builds that Hide well require this at higher levels for their stealth to remain relevant, but we grabbed it. You have enough tough to stay in the fight, but if it goes wrong you should be able to escape. Shadow Stride is coming online to allow you to teleport from Shadow to Shadow to greatly aid in stealth. Hand of Death allows you to Paralyze foes, this can further help you to help your team in terms of battlefield control. Light Within Darkness and Darkness within Light both allow me to control who can see me and further debuff enemies. I don't have to worry about them negately effecting my allies.

    Level 16-20
    Spoiler
    Show

    Finally we are reaching the highest level maneuvers. Death in the Dark allows you to do a lot of damage in a surprise round, hopefully killing something you can Awaken next round. Immortal Fortitude will come online at level 18 and you'll be a lot harder to kill. You have ways to heal yourself which will only get better, but now you can stand again on the front line and use your maneuvers to debuff enemies. It allows you to make longer fights to get that first good corpse.
    Enervating Shadow Strike pairs well with your capstone ability Balance of Light and Dark. If you are giving a bunch of negative levels this can add to the sheer number of negative levels you can grant. Negative levels are also debuffs; debuffs help your corpses do more damage and take less damage.
    At level 20 the only level at which you qualify for ninth level maneuvers, you need to get a Master's Amulet of Devoted Spirit in order to know the Maneuver Strike of Righteous Vitality. The ability to cast Heal is a huge boon to you especially after you've taken significant Constitution damage from your Balance of Light and Dark form.

    Thoughts on Shadow Sun Ninja
    Spoiler
    Show

    I have always liked Shadow Sun Ninja's theme. It wants to be a really neat class, but it fails in a lot of ways.
    The prerequisites to getting into the class push you greatly into Unarmed Swordsage, if you do that you don't need levels of Monk. The number of maneuvers to get into the class pretty much requires you to use Swordsage since its the only class that has access to either of the maneuvers. I paid an enormous feat tax in order to bypass the Unarmed Swordsage normal entry. If you pay that enormous feat tax, it seems like they could explicitly grant you some of the Monk abilities that otherwise go to waste. I also dislike having a Prestige Class tell me what alignment or race I need to be to enter it, being good seems silly when its a class about balance, you'd think it would require you to be Neutral.
    The only good way to increase the amount the Touch of Sun and Shadow does is by increasing your size or effective size or your Wisdom modifier. The Flame of Shadow Sun ability by RAW does absolutely nothing on the second turn. I'm interested to see if other people could do more with the Flash Bang effects that Shadow Sun Ninja produces. I use them, but I don't feel like I optimized those abilities.
    I feel the build is woefully lacking in maneuver known granted. It only allows selection from two disciplines. I feel like this is why I recommend so many of the Wondrous Items that grant maneuvers know. I feel terrible that the lack of maneuvers pushes you in that direction, especially since you don't get a maneuver known at the capstone level.
    It may seem like I'm complaining, but Shadow Sun Ninja is pretty cool. I think it makes an excellent stealthy support character. By adding Dirgesinger, I have granted something for all the Shadow Sun Ninja abilities to support even if you aren't running with a full party or if you get separated from your party like generic scouts often do. Shadow Sun Ninja provides some limited healing, but its in combat healing which while traditionally isn't worth wasting actions on. Here you are still being productive by having a character level equal undead corpse that also can take actions replacing the actions you loose by battlefield control or healing. At late levels you can be absolutely devastating, even if you can't kill things you'll leave them with so many negative levels that your corpse or allies will finish them off quickly.

  18. - Top - End - #288
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Man, Machinima missed out on this one
    Quote Originally Posted by Megan Wu
    Megan Wu



    The Story

    Spoiler
    Show

    This week, Zero Punctuation* reviews Shadow Sun Ninja

    The end of a console generation always brings a glut of games given a AAA-release which would have barely rated a D at any other period in the lifecycle. This is the case with plucky upstart Polyhedron Studios' offering Shadow Sun Ninja, although judging from the box art their female protagonist rates at least a Double-D and by that I mean, yes, BOOBIES.

    You play as the titular character Megan Wu, because in videogame universe the only thing it takes to be a ninja is to be a vaguely Asian stereotype who is marginally good at sneaking. Also, the only thing it takes to sell a videogame is to feature a female protagonist who runs around wearing two scarves and a belt, and here's a surprising development: the scarf covering her face is the most concealing article of clothing. All we know about Mizz Wu is that she posesses abilities to capably climb out her bedroom window while Mummy and Daddy are asleep in order to get another Chinese symbol tattooed on her caboose, because her history and motives are left entirely unexplored. The only time she speaks is during pre-mission briefings and when she taunts enemies during combat, and then her voice sounds like an unwanted love child between a Russian and an Englishman, both with bad accents.

    The game predictably suffers from the persistent modern problem of now knowing what the bloody hell its about. You're called a ninja so there's sneaking, sure, but also first-person combat and special combat maneuvers and psionic powes. Oh yes, did I forget to mention you're a PSIONIC ninja because of cocking course you are. There are so many comparable examples of this type of tossed-on mechanic that I'm not sure if Shadow Sun Ninja would be better compared to a mental patient with multiple personalities, or a cheap dollar-store multitool wrench set. It tries do everything, and ends up doing nothing well.

    Gameplay is actually rather straightforward once you get the byzantine control system figured out. Like any game with a novel gimmick, the entire design is built to pander to that gimmick and never let you do anything else. Gears of War was a cover-based shooter composed entirely of waist-high walls, and by comparison Shadow Sun Ninja is composed entirely of alternating patches of glaring spotlight and moody shadow.

    Most of your abilities involve bringing one into the other and then stabbing your opponents while they're confused about it. You certainly have plenty of options for doing this, between your combat maneuvers and psionic powers and something called 'shadow discipline,' but it gets confusing when your combat techniques are based on cooldown times and your psionics on points-per-day and your shadow disciplines are OH BUGGER you need to be an actuary just to play the bloody game.

    Sneaking at least is trreated with more than the usual hand-wave; in fact, a decent amount of time seems to have been spent programming a workable AI to detect you. The only problem is, by the time you can reliably sneak past most enemies it doesn't matter because now you can teleport through shadows.

    Also, leaping out of shadows to stab enemies is fun for the first few missions but make sure you stab them well the first time, because your non-ambush attacks do about as much damage as a sorority girl's pillow. And should you ever get trapped in a stand-up fight, you'll quickly learn that you can take a punch about as well as wet cardboard.

    Fortunately there are plenty of options to escape combat and hide in the shadows again, which is good for surviving but does tend to slow the game down to roughly the speed of a newborn snail first learning to crawl.

    And finally I must again complain about the attempt to include a "Morality" system in a videogame. As always, in Shadow Sun Ninja this mechanic appears to have been slapped on at the last second and has little to no impact on the actual game. This title does mostly avoid the typical binary moral choices of "burn down the orphanage" or "give everyone a puppy" but it's nonetheless obnoxious because, despite being a ninja trained to sneak, kill, and steal, you're arbitrarily declared to be a GOOD ninja, and therefore you can actually do none of those things. Except you can, you're just not supposed to, and the game enforces absolutely no consequences for being naughty until you accumulate a certain number of evil deeds, at which point you promptly DIE.

    In the end, Shadow Sun Ninja is another afterthought collection of interesting ideas given a piss-poor execution. While some of the concepts are a bit more interesting than your typical spunk-gargle-weewee shooter, nothing is fully realized and I spent the entire game imagining how much fun I could be having playing a better-developed game like Thief.


    Hiding in the shadows and watching you,
    Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw



    The Build

    NG Human Female Swordsage 4/Ardent 6/Shadow Sun Ninja 10
    Starting Stats
    {table=head]STR|DEX|CON|INT|WIS|CHA
    13|16|10|12|17|6[/table]

    Spoiler
    Show

    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Swordsage 1|
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |Concentration 4, Escape Artist 2, Hide 4, Listen 4, Move Silently 4, Sense Motive 4, Spot 2, Tumble 4|Improved Unarmed Strike, Weapon Finesse|Quick to Act, Discipline Focus (Weapon Focus)

    2nd|Ardent 1|
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +4
    |Concentration 5, Hide 5, Psicraft 1||Assume Psionic Mantles: Fate, Light & Dark

    3rd|Swordsage 2|
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |Concentration , Escape Artist 3, Hide 6, Listen 5, Move Silently 5, Sense Motive 5, Spot 3, Tumble 5|Shadow Blade|AC Bonus

    4th|Ardent 2|
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |Concentration 7, Hide 7, Psicraft 2||Assume Psionic Mantle: Deception. Ability Increase: WIS 18

    5th|Swordsage 3|
    +3
    |
    +1
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |Concentration 8, Escape Artist 4, Hide 8, Listen , Move Silently 6, Sense Motive 6, Spot 4, Tumble 6||

    6th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +5
    |
    +8
    |Concentration 9; Hide 9; Listen 7, Move Silently 7, Spot 5, Tumble 7|Psionic Fist|Monk Abilities, Touch of the Shadow Sun

    7th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |Concentration 10, Hide 10, Listen 8, Move Silently 8, Spot 6, Tumble 8||Flame of the Shadow Sun

    8th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |Concentration 11, Hide 11, Listen 9, Move Silently 9, Spot 7, Tumble 9||Ability Increase: Wis 19

    9th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +6
    |
    +5
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    |Concentration 12, Hide 12, Listen 10, Move Silently 10, Spot 8, Tumble 10|Instant Clarity|Light Within Darkness

    10th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +6
    |
    +5
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    |Concentation 13, Hide 13, Listen 11, Move Silently 11, Sot 9, Tumble 11||Darkness Within Light

    11th|Swordsage 4|
    +7
    |
    +5
    |
    +8
    |
    +11
    |Concentration 14, Hide 14, Listen 12, Move Silently 12, Psicraft 3, Spot 10, Tumble 12||Discipline Focus (Insightful Strike)

    12th|Ardent 3|
    +8
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |Concentration 15, Hide 15, Psicraft 4|Practiced Manifestor|Ability Increase: Wis 20

    13th|Ardent 4|
    +9
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |
    +12
    |Concentation 16, Hide 16, Spot 10.5||

    14th|Ardent 5|
    +9
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |
    +12
    |Concentration 17, Hide 17, Spot 11|Weapon Focus: Unarmed Strike (bonus from Conflict mantle)|Assume Psionic Mantle (Conflict)

    15th|Ardent 6|
    +10
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    |
    +13
    |Concentration 18, Hide 18, Autohypnosis 1|Stunning Fist|

    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +11
    |
    +8
    |
    +11
    |
    +14
    |Concentration 19, Hide 19, Listen 13, Move Silently 13, Spot 12, Tumble 13||Ability Increase: Wisdom 21

    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +12
    |
    +8
    |
    +11
    |
    +14
    |Concentration 10, Hide 20, Listen 14, Move Silently 14, Spot 13, Tumble 14||Void of the Shadow Sun

    18th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +13
    |
    +9
    |
    +12
    |
    +15
    |Concentration 21, Hide 21, Listen 14, Move Silently 15, Spot 14, Tumble 15|Psychic Renewal|Child of Shadow and Light

    19th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +13
    |
    +9
    |
    +12
    |
    +15
    |Concentration 22, Hide 22, Listen 16, Move Silently 16, Spot 15, Tumble 16||

    20th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +14
    |
    +10
    |
    +13
    |
    +16
    |Concentration 23, Hide 23, Listen 17, Move Silently 17, Spot 16, Tumble 17||Balance of Light and Dark, Ability Increase: Wisdom 22[/table]



    Martial Maneuvers Known/Readied
    Spoiler
    Show

    {table=head]Level|Known|Readied|List|Stances

    Swordsage 1|6|4|Sapphire Nightmare Blade, Distracting Ember, Clinging Shadow Strike, Counter Charge, Moment of Perfect Mind, Burning Blade|Child of Shadow

    Swordsage 2|7|5|Shadow Blade Technique|Island of Blades

    Swordsage 3|8|5|Shadow Jaunt

    Shadow Sun Ninja 1|9|5|Cloak of Deception

    Shadow Sun Ninja 3|10|5|Baffling Defense

    Shadow Sun Ninja 5|10|5|-|Assassin's Stance

    Swordsage 4|11|6|Shadow Stride (replace Shadow Jaunt), Insightful Strike

    Shadow Sun Ninja 6|12|6|Strike of the Broken Shield

    Shadow Sun Ninja 10|13|7|Stalker in Night[/table]



    Ardent Powers/Points
    Spoiler
    Show

    {table=head]Level|Power Points|Manifestor Level|Powers Known

    Ardent 1|4|1|Precognition (Defensive), Control Light

    Ardent 2|10|2|Precognition (Offensive)

    Ardent 3|18|7|Cloud Mind

    Ardent 4|27|8|Light Beam

    Ardent 5|37|9|Shadow Walk

    Ardent 6|50|10|Psychic Crush

    Shadow Sun Ninja 10|53|10[/table]


    Breakdown, Levels 1-5
    Spoiler
    Show

    Megan spends the first 5 levels being a decent sneaker, what with a good Dex score and maxed skill ranks, as well as combat maneuvers and psionic abilities that support stealth. She supplements this with abilities that shore up her admittedly lacking direct-combat abilities. Weapon Finesse is a must, and Shadow Blade allows her to add some damage to her attacks; while precognition powers give her some needed bonuses in combat, and Distracting Ember summons a flanking buddy and Sapphire Nightmare Strike capitalizes on her Concentration skill. By the time we reach Level 5, we've accumulated all prerequisites to enter Shadow Sun Ninja on time.


    Levels 6-10
    Spoiler
    Show

    By the time Megan is halfway through the Shadow Sun progression, she has attained most of the core abilities she will continue to use henceforward. Assassin's Stance allows her to Sneak Attack any enemy that she can catch in compromised position, such as with her Light Within Darkness blinding ability, or being flanked by her Distracting Ember. Darkness Within Light obviously complements this by allowing a bonus on attacks against any enemies that were blinded by Light Within Darkness. The only thing missing is a Stunning Fist ability, which she'll pick up as a feat later, but for now any magic items that could be found to grant this ability will simply make more use of Sneak Attack. Touch of the Shadow Sun of course can be used as an alternate (albeit a less-effective, and therefore secondary) attack, or as an impromptu healing source (the rules do not state that Megan cannot touch herself with the healing aspect of this power). Psionic Focus allows Megan to expend her psionic focus in one attack for extra damage, giving her a needed boost. Her most commonly-used maneuvers include Shadow Blade Technique, Distracting Ember, and Sapphire Nightmare Blade.


    Levels 11-15 "The Sweet Spot"
    Spoiler
    Show

    At Level 15, Megan is practically complete. By taking Practiced Manifester she can overreach her psionic powers from Ardent (which does not have a specific level-by-level limit on the powers she can learn, in contrast to other psionic classes like Psichic Warrior) and she now has Stunning Fist with which she can disable an opponent during the first strike of a full attack, and then Sneak Attack on iterative strikes. Shadow Stride maneuver and Shadow Walk power allow her to escape perilous situations, and Psychic Crush allows her to potentially disable opponents at distance and from hiding. Insightful Strike continues to capitalize on Concentration skill. Older abilities like Distracting Ember and Sapphire Nightmare find new utility as a vehicle to deliver Sneak Attacks. Combining Instant Clarity with Psionic Focus allows Megan to expend her psionic focus for damage in one round, then recover it for free the next round (assuming a martial strike hits).


    Levels 16-20
    Spoiler
    Show

    The rest of Shadow Sun Ninja's progression extends and complements Megan's existing abilities. Void of the Shadow Sun of course helps supplement Megan's defenses, and Balance of Light and Dark is a final emergency option for any combat that goes poorly. Immunity to critical hits and sneak attacks helps her survive, and a Hide bonus helps her escape. Higher-level combat maneuvers become available, and Psychic Renewal finally allows Megan to reclaim her expended maneuvers at the cost of power points and her psionic focus (which can, one assumes, be renewed next round when a martial strike lands on an opponent).


    Suggested Gear
    Spoiler
    Show

    As mentioned above, any item that can be found to allow Stunning Fist attacks will greatly enhance Megan's melee combat abilities between levels 10-15. Since Megan spends much of her time in shadow and relies on precision damage, Darkvision (such as from a goggles of night is very important, but not quite critical. Defensive items such as bracers of armor, amulet of natural armor and ring of protection are highly suggested because most of Megan's abilities function best when wearing light or no armor. Note that Megan adds her Wisdom bonus to AC from her Swordsage class while wearing light armor, and from her Monk abilities (granted by Shadow Sun Ninja) when wearing no armor. These bonuses are untyped, so depending on the DM it could be argued that they stack when unarmored. Even so, a +5 Mithral chain shirt will more than balance out the AC lost from Monk abilities, and psionic powers are not subject to spell failure from armor.


    Sources
    Spoiler
    Show

    Ardent, Practiced Manifestor: Complete Psionic
    Swordsage, Shadow Sun Ninja, Instant Clarity, Psyhic Reneewal, Shadow Blade: Tome of Battle
    Psionic Fist: Expanded Psionic Handbook
    Stunning Fist, Improved Unarmed Strike, Weapon Finesse: SRD



    *
    Spoiler
    Show

    Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, Zero Punctuation, and The Escapist did not endorse this parody. No permission was requested or given. Images were robbed from Google or imitated in MS Paint.

    Also, I don't expect it to affect the scoring, but for anyone interested in learning "Dear Gods, WHY?" I challenged myself before this competition was posted to make a psionic character this round. I'll leave it to the Judges to determine if I pulled it off.

  19. - Top - End - #289
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    For every force, there is an equal and opposite reaction
    Quote Originally Posted by Shi Gandang
    Shi Gandang
    Spoiler
    Show
    LG male human Unarmed Swordsage 5/Shadow Sun Ninja 10/Master of Nine 5
    32 point buy
    Str 14, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 8
    increase Wis at level 4, 16, 20
    increase Dex at level 8, 12


    Vital Signs
    Spoiler
    Show
    {table=head]Level|Class|BAB|Fort|Ref|Will|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Unarmed Swordsage 1|
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |Balance 4, Concentration 4, Hide 4, Knowledge (local) 2, Knowledge (nobility) 2, Listen 4, Martial Lore 4, Tumble 4|Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike, Weapon Focus (B)|discipline focus (shadow hand), monk unarmed progression, quick to act +1

    2nd|Unarmed Swordsage 2|
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Move Silently 2, Tumble +1| |AC Bonus

    3rd|Unarmed Swordsage 3|
    +2
    |
    +1
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Martial Lore +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1|Desert Wind Dodge|

    4th|Unarmed Swordsage 4|
    +3
    |
    +1
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    | Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Martial Lore +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1| |discipline focus (insightful strike)

    5th|Unarmed Swordsage 5|
    +3
    |
    +1
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Martial Lore +1, Move Silently +1, Tumble +1| |quick to act +2

    6th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Tumble +1|Adaptive Style|monk abilities, touch of the shadow sun

    7th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +7
    |
    +7
    | Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Tumble +1| |flame of the shadow sun

    8th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +7
    |
    +7
    | Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Tumble +1| |

    9th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +6
    |
    +5
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    | Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Tumble +1|Blind Fight|light within darkness

    10th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +6
    |
    +5
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    | Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Tumble +1| |darkness within light

    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +7
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    | Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Tumble +1| |

    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +8
    |
    +6
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    | Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Tumble +1|Darkstalker|void of the shadow sun

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +9
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    | Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Tumble +1| |child of shadow and light

    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +9
    |
    +7
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    | Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Tumble +1| |

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +10
    |
    +8
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    | Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Listen +1, Tumble +1|Superior Unarmed Strike|balance of light and dark

    16th|Master of Nine 1|
    +10
    |
    +8
    |
    +11
    |
    +13
    |Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Jump 1, Knowledge (local) +1, Martial Lore +1, Tumble +1| |

    17th|Master of Nine 2|
    +11
    |
    +8
    |
    +11
    |
    +14
    |Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Jump +1, Knowledge (local) +1, Martial Lore +1, Tumble +1| |dual stance

    18th|Master of Nine 3|
    +12
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +14
    |Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Jump +1, Knowledge (local) +1, Martial Lore +1, Tumble +1|Shadow Blade|perfect form

    19th|Master of Nine 4|
    +13
    |
    +9
    |
    +12
    |
    +15
    |Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Jump +1, Knowledge (local) +1, Martial Lore +1, Tumble +1| |counter stance

    20th|Master of Nine 5|
    +13
    |
    +9
    |
    +12
    |
    +15
    |Balance +1, Concentration +1, Hide +1, Jump +1, Knowledge (local) +1, Martial Lore +1, Tumble +1| |mastery of nine[/table]

    Maneuvers
    Spoiler
    Show
    {table=head]Level|Known|Readied|Stance
    1st|6|4|1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    2nd|7|4|2|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    3rd|8|5|2|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    4th|9|5|2|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    5th|10|6|3|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    6th|11|6|3|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    7th|11|6|3|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    8th|12|6|3|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    9th|12|6|3|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    10th|12|7|4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    11th|13|7|4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    12th|13|7|4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    13th|13|7|4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    14th|14|7|4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    15th|14|8|4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    16th|16|9|4|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    17th|17|10|5|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    18th|19|11|5|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    19th|20|12|6|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
    20th|22|13|6|-|-|-|-|-|-|-[/table]

    Maneuvers by Level:
    1: blistering flourish (DW), charging minotaur (SD), clinging shadow strike (SH), mighty throw (SS), sapphire nightmare blade (DM), step of the wind (SS stance), wolf fang strike (TC)
    2: child of shadow (SH stance), moment of perfect mind (DM)
    3: action before thought (DM)
    4: swap clinging shadow strike (SH) for shadow jaunt (SH)
    5: pearl of black doubt (DM stance), shadow garrote (SH)
    6: devastating throw (SS)
    8: obscuring shadow veil (SH)
    10: shifting defense (SS stance)
    11: shadow stride (SH)
    14: hydra slaying strike (SS)
    16: foehammer (DS), mind over body (DM)
    17: defensive rebuke (DS), ghostly defense (SS stance)
    18: entangling blade (DS), time stands still (DM)
    19: immortal fortitude (DS stance), shadow blink (SH)
    20: five shadow creeping ice enervating strike (SH), tornado throw (SS)


    Available Light – The Legend of Shi Gandang
    Spoiler
    Show
    Level 1-5 Closer to the Heart
    “And the men who hold high places/Must be the ones to start/To mold a new reality/Closer to the heart”
    Spoiler
    Show
    The man who would become Shi Gandang was born to nobility and prosperity. However he soon saw how the decadence of his family made them both lazy and arrogant. As soon as he could he left home and began training his body to become stronger and faster and began training in the Sublime Way. Not sure of what direction to focus upon at first, Shi Gandang dabbled in all of the disciplines he could study. However, soon enough he found himself drawn to the Shadow Hand discipline. During his training he became very good friends with one of the other students – Aku Shiomori.
    Spoiler
    Show
    We start off our career as an unarmed Swordsage. By taking the focus in the Shadow Hand discipline, Shi Gandang can use the SI with more effectiveness. All of the feats chosen now go into the Master of Nine prestige class later and help with the SI now. He easily meets the maneuver requirements as both of the schools are offered to the Swordsage. The highlight maneuvers include the Diamond counters action before thought and moment of the perfect mind. Each of these shore up Shi Gandang’s saving throws—having maxed out Concentration helps with this too.


    Level 6-10 The Weapon
    “He’s not afraid of your judgment/He knows of horrors worse than your Hell/He’s a little bit afraid of dying/But he’s a lot more afraid of your lying”
    Spoiler
    Show
    Though he swore he would never be like his decadent family, Shi Gandang could not escape the reach of his family. They owned large swaths of land and treated the people who worked the land poorly. He vowed to take care of the people but could not openly defy his former family. He proceeded to use his skills of stealth to find a way and became a part of the Shadow Sun Ninja. After the oppressive guards attacked some villagers, Shi Gandang was able to strike from the shadows, harming the guards and healing the wounded. The nobles would back down and the people were safe—for now.
    Spoiler
    Show
    We have entered the SI as soon as we possibly could having easily met all requirements. Maxing out our skills of Hide and Move Silently keeps him hidden while our maximum Listen ranks keeps us from missing when our opponents approach. Best of all our unarmed progression continues during our time in the SI making our strikes more potent. Adaptive Style is a must for any Swordsage and fulfills the Master of Nine requirement. Blind Fight which is also a necessity for Master of Nine makes sense for Shi Gandang for his darkness within light ability. Being able to counter the blindness effects while still gaining the ability’s bonuses is key. Flame of the shadow sun protects us from the cold and gives us a ranged option that we do not have at this level. The ability to alternate the light and darkness makes our enemy blind and allows Shi Gandang to take advantage of their temporary affliction.


    Level 11-15 Time Stand Still
    “I turn my back to the wind/To catch my breath/Before I start off again./Driven on without a moment to spend/To pass an evening with a drink and a friend”
    Spoiler
    Show
    Aku Shiomori returned to his friend’s side and vowed to help him protect the villagers from the dangers of the world at large. The nobles would occasionally harass the people of the villages but Shi Gandang was there to protect them as always. Even though the villagers remained safe for the most part, the nobles could not totally be stopped. It seemed as though the nobles could predict Shi Gandang’s movements. He reasoned that they knew it was their former family member protecting the village and used their memories of him to help with their maneuverings. Still the people loved their champion—some said that they have even seen a halo of sorts above Shi Gandang’s head while he protects them. They started to believe that their protector was sent from the Heavens above.
    Spoiler
    Show
    We spend these levels finishing the SI so all of our abilities are enjoyed for the latter quarter of our career. Picking up Darkstalker foils the detecting abilities of foes that can see beyond normal senses—and yes picking it up this “late” in the game hurts. Superior Unarmed Strike acts for us similar to how Practiced Spellcaster does for gishes—so we can gain the unarmed power of a 19th level monk now and enjoy that for the rest of our pre epic career. When our “halo” is pierced, those that do so are effected by the void of the shadow sun and suffer for it with cold damage—a burst effect that helps clear out too many undesirables and keeps our perimeter safe. The capstone ability gives us the ultimate form of protection with an amazing set of immunities but it also replenishes our health when we drain levels—dangerous for what happens afterwards but a good nova ability when desperate times are met.


    Level 16-20 Double Agent
    “Wilderness of mirrors/World of polished steel/Gears and iron chains/Turn the grinding wheel/I run between the shadows/Some are phantoms, some are real”
    Spoiler
    Show
    Shi Gandang had reached the pinnacle of his training with the Shadow Sun Ninja but still felt incomplete within. He decided to master all of the disciplines of the Sublime Way he could in order to help those in need. He was able to use this mastery of the nine to enhance his Shadow Sun Ninja maneuvers. It was a rainy night when the nobles launched an overwhelming assault on the villages. Shi Gandang was able to fend off all attackers using his void of the shadow sun to freeze out the warriors. Once the attack was over, Shi Gandang started to relax. His good friend Aku had been with him all along, but now something looked amiss. Aku approached Shi and raised his weapon high and struck his friend. Shi was shocked to see his friend strike him. Even more shocked to see that Aku was helping the nobles and from what it seemed like, Aku was helping them all along. Shi Gandang assumed his most terrible form – the balance of light and dark. Aku could do nothing against defend against the negative energy attacks Shi launched. Aku begged for mercy but Shi had a look in his eyes – a look of a killer. Dangerously close to his threshold of succumbing to the dark, Shi raised his hand one last time. But was it to give mercy or to give death?
    Spoiler
    Show
    These last five levels are dedicated to the Master of Nine prestige class. Shi Gandang had dabbled with the six Swordsage disciplines at level one and has maximum ranks in four key discipline skills along with the prerequisite feats. Now he is able to take any maneuver he can qualify for from the nine disciplines. He is finally able to get the last Diamond Mind counter for saving throws—which has even a more significant advantage now. Being able to add the ninth level Shadow Hand and Setting Sun maneuvers go thematically with the Shadow Sun Ninja. I’m sure I don’t have to describe the benefits of Time Stands Still to the Playground. The Master of Nine class ability of dual stance allows Shi to stay in a stance like Immortal Fortitude and use the benefits of the child of shadow and light Shadow Sun Ninja ability. He can alternate the dazzling ability with the darkness ability, close his eyes and launch attacks against the effectively blinded opponents. Obviously he could have done this earlier but since that means giving up a stance to do so, it is much more opportunistic to use this ability now when he can still use a stance’s effect. Perfect form allows Shi Gandang to perform his maneuvers with a higher difficulty for the opponent’s saving throws. And the discipline that gives lots of saving throws—Shadow Hand.


    Freewill
    Spoiler
    Show
    Shi Gandang does not need much for his abilities. Since he chooses unarmed combat, weapons are not needed. Standard WBL would cover his needs with enhancements for Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, and Constitution as well as Armor Class. An interesting adaptation for this character would be to make him Exalted and take the Vow of Poverty.


    Show Don’t Tell
    Spoiler
    Show
    Lords of Madness: Darkstalker feat
    Tome of Battle: most of what you see here outside of SRD
    Rush: song titles and lyrics


    The case had been tried by the jury inside
    The choice between darkness and light...
    The choice between darkness and light
    ” – Double Agent, Rush

  20. - Top - End - #290
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Enter the Dragon
    Quote Originally Posted by Sun
    Chasing Shadows

    An Apologia and Explanation
    Spoiler
    Show
    I spent an inordinately long time on what you’re about to read - enough that I had to take a moment and ask myself why.

    What was I trying to prove?

    The answer is an apologia - a defense. I wish to defend the way I build characters.

    Let me explain, if you will.

    I was saddened to see that points are detracted for “dipping,” and also for use of “too many sources.” There are a few reasons I like both strategies.

    First, let me begin by saying I optimize non-casters. I dislike casters, because optimizing casters is a bit like learning kung-fu kata with a bazooka: you really don’t need to, and doing so is just kind of gratuitous.

    I like to optimize non-casters because I want to play the fantasy archetypes I liked most in fiction: the mighty warriors, the thieves in the shadows, the tricksters and confidence men. Unfortunately, d20 is a badly designed game for letting a novice live out his archetypal fantasies. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll end up second fiddle - or worse yet, in the audience - while the spellcasters dominate the stage.

    Dipping into classes that grant feats and abilities you need to make a given character work is one of the ONLY ways in the game to allow non-casters to develop end-game tactics that are functional and FLAVORFUL. I put stress on flavor because flavor arises from a large variety of playstyles. The way most combat classes are written, there is only one or two main ways to play them through to 20 without becoming obsolete early in the game.

    Thus, dipping allows non-casters a taste of what casters have built in to their class mechanics: variety. A caster can be themed any way you like just by selecting from an endless list of spells, and can even change themes day to day (which I find a bit ridiculous): fire themed, electricity themed, snow themed, desert themed, aquatic, snake, aberrant - you name it, a Wizard can play that way just by picking spells. Worse yet, they are more effective, with the ability to lay a variety of effects on foes (entangling, stunning, ability damage, etc.), have utility abilities (invisibility, shelter spells, etc.), target lower enemy defense numbers (saves are far lower than AC) … I digress.

    Aside: this is one reason I loved Tome of Battle. It’s a shame more maneuvers and schools were never released; it helps warriors gain the flavor they lack.

    As far as using a variety of sources, I’d argue that while spellcasters reap huge spell lists from nearly any book you care to name, non-casters can usually find only one or two feats or PrCs that effectively contribute to end-game strategy. Those feats are only useful if you can first FIND them and second REALIZE their worth by understanding how they synergize with other feats in other sources. When I found the synergy between the Dungeoncrasher Fighter sub level in Dungeonscape and the Knockback feat in Races of Stone, I was thrilled - it was a valid end-game tactic, and allowed for a new mechanic and combat style!

    To whit, I have a problem with the definition used for “elegance.”

    To me, function determines flavor. The name of a class, the words wasted by d20 writers giving it a style - to me those are not law, but rather flavor suggestions for those with a paucity of imagination. I’m interested in the effects of the ingredients - what can the class DO? If I want my character to be a ninja, I should make him a Swordsage, because Ninjas do the same job WORSE and with less playable flavor - they’re slower, can do 1~2 things instead of many, lack any cinematic flavor, and lack the power to be effective. They also do not allow for any creativity in build.

    Thus, when I build - when I cook, if you will - I am a gastro-deconstructionist. I render classes down for their flavors, re-combining them to create the synergy I seek. Certainly, if one is presented with an ingredient that needs little presentation to be delicious - a savory full caster - a master chef is not required. All that’s needed is a little salt and pepper, perhaps a squeeze of lemon, and the right temperatures - it’s guaranteed to be delightful.

    But when it comes to less well-known, less savory, more complex ingredients - items which might not have immediate appeal, but which contain unique and exotic flavors - a different approach is required. Moreover, a master chef must employ all of his tricks in order to cook such ingredients in an innovative way that changes them from a jumble of random parts on a plate to a miraculous, synergistic whole - a dish that is new, with its own perfect flavor.

    To that end, I found myself composing not a single dish, but a meal - a five-course meal. Each meal is another take on the same basic ingredient: the Shadowsun Ninja. Each employs a different approach to bring out the elements of the class that make it, if you’ll excuse the pun, shine.

    But to demonstrate how the ends, in the case of non-caster optimization, do justify the means, I felt compelled to demonstrate, through a bit of fiction, how the function of the dishes I’ve created defines the flavor they have in play.

    To that end, I’ve lost the time to give each dish on the menu it’s full treatment. Instead of providing an entire level-by-level breakdown, I will be providing a build stub for each master: levels in each class, feats, relevant class abilities, synergies between those abilities, and an overall breakdown of 20th level capability.

    And if you read all of this, my apologies and gratitude for your patience. On to chapter 1 - or, if you’re impatient, skip to the dishes themselves, sample the flavor, and come back for the story if you have the time or interest after.

    Many thanks!

    Chapter 1: Two Heavens

    Spoiler
    Show
    The young man was frozen in place. Beads of sweat stood out on his brow. His eyes stared straight ahead, unblinking, but a hint of a smile played about the edges of his mouth.

    The old man, still seated on the dais of the temple’s great hall, nodded thoughtfully. He waved his gnarled stick abstractedly.

    “Hmmph. Yes, you know all the basic forms.”

    The boy held his pose, legs akimbo, right hand high and open, left low with fingers curled into a half-claw.

    “Stop that silly posturing - you know you’ve done well. Here, sit by me. Just watching all this energetic leaping and shouting is enough to tire me out.” He patted a small cushion on the dais beside him. The young man’s eyes shifted uneasily. As he relaxed his pose, his shoulders hunched.

    “But … I’m ready, Master Doraku. I know all the forms - I know them all! I even started working on some of my own techniques -”

    The abbott waved his stick again, this time interrupting with an emphatic point.

    “And yet you are still terrible at one of the most basic techniques - listening. I said SIT!”

    The boy was large for his age, his shoulders impossibly wide, his hands, rough and calloused, as broad as shovels. Seated awkwardly next to the tiny, gnarled abbott, he looked huge and clumsy.

    Setting his weathered black stick to the side, the old man reached behind him, where a small, sandy firepit nestled into the stone floor. The roof of the great hall was open here, and the sun shone down in a small pool on the dais. The boy could hear birds singing. He almost trembled with repressed frustration as the old man slowly took out two simple cups, spooned a bit of greenish powder into each, and then gracefully whisked the first to a froth before placing it in front of his student.

    The boy waited, huge hands limp on his knees, eyes on the cup, until the abbot finished preparing his own. “Drink, boy - you must be thirsty!” He took a deep sip, sighing in pleasure. “My tea master always told me I drank too quickly to truly appreciate the flavor. Ha!” He cackled merrily. “I’ve always liked the bitter flavor.” He peered up over the brim of his cup at the boy. “So you’re ready for the mysteries, eh?”

    The boy nearly spit out his mouthful of the hot, almost sour drink. He leaned forward, blurting out the words. “I am master - I’ve trained every day - you’ve seen me! I’ve been here longer than any of the others! Nobody can do the forms as well, and -”

    The old man raised an eyebrow, grinning. “No one?”

    The young man stammered. “Well, none of the other acolytes, and you’re the only master …”

    The old man sipped his tea again, then took a moment to inspect the cup before setting it down. “Hmm. Not so - just the only master here. So, if you are ready, tell me something - what is the sun and what is the shadow?”

    The young man leapt to his feet, almost feverish. “The shadow blinds, the sun burns.” He whipped into a stance, arms akimbo. “The shadows are feints -” his left hand moved in a series of fluid, surprisingly graceful movements “and the sun is the finishing blow that strikes when the enemy is distracted!” His right lashed into the empty air with almost audible force.

    He looked down to find the old man balancing his tea cup, which had nearly tipped over during the exhibition, at the end of his stick. He set it down gently. “I did not ask what the shadow and sun techniques were, boy. I asked what the sun and shadow are.”

    The young man’s brow furrowed. Before he could muster a reply, the hall reverberated with the booming sound of a fist on heavy wooden gates. At the end of the hall, sunlight outlined a massive figure in the circular gate.

    “I am Hargald Mighty Fists! I’ve come for the abbot, and for your temple’s sign!”

    Striding into the shadowed hall was a massive hobgoblin, powerfully muscled, clad in a heavy breastplate with a tall shield across his back. A skinny halfling acolyte ran up behind him, wringing his hands.

    “Master Doraku, we did as you always say - we offered him tea and respite, and we all refused his challenge, but he pushed his way in and -”

    “It is fine, Gon - you may go.” The old man waved airily with his stick.

    The halfling boy nodded, fearfully, his eyes on the huge warrior who stood impassively before the dais. Even with elevation, the old man fell several feet short, and the lantern jawed hulk stared down at him scornfully. The halfling hesitated.

    “I said GO!” There was steel in the master’s voice this time, and the halfling scurried from the hall, pausing nervously to look back as he swung shut the heavy gates to the hall.

    As the gate shut, the acolyte on the dais leapt down lightly. The hobgoblin eyed him without apprehension.

    “Master, let me. Let me show you what I’ve learned - and what I’ve taught myself.”

    The old man said nothing. Reaching back, he poured another cup of tea.

    The hobgoblin broke the silence, unslinging the tower shield across his back with a rasp of steel, wood, and leather. “Seems a shame to do this to an unarmed man, but it’s clear that relic up there hasn’t a prayer.” Hargald shook his shaggy head and drew a heavy blade from across his back, chuckling ruefully. He stood at ease, eyeing the young man. “Well, pup? It’s sad, but it looks as if your school’s honor comes down to you - unless there’s a master here I’ve yet to see. And I’d thought, with the temple’s reputation, I might learn something crushing you.”

    Tense and focused, the boy shifted his weight, sidling in a half-circle about his opponent. The greenskin did nothing but follow the young man’s movement with his eyes.

    “Do they teach dance here? Come on, boy - I’ll even give you the first strike!” He opened his arms, demonstrating an impressive reach, and bared his oversized incisors.

    The two stood equidistant now in front of the dais. The boy’s awkwardness was suddenly gone. Crouched and light on the balls of his feet, his eyes were still level with his huge opponent. With a sudden leap, he came crashing forward, his left and right hands moving together in a whirling, circular thrust.

    “Empty sky, big SUN!”

    His palms hit the warrior’s chest squarely, and the huge armored body went flying across the hall, smashing into the wall with a sickening crunch.

    A momentary surprise flickered in Hargald’s eyes as he pushed himself from the wall. He grinned ruefully as he wiped a trickle of blood from his mouth, eyeing his opponent with clear interest. “So you’re more than big, eh?” He readied his shield to his left, holding his blade behind him to the right. As he began to close, he continued. “You’ve a stronger jaw than most pink-skins … and those are right powerful hands you have. Not a bad technique, but I’d not have thought a mere man could …”

    Suddenly he rasped a hoarse laugh, eyes narrowing. “But you’re no man! You’re a bastard son of one of my mountain brothers! Hah! Well half-blood, come and learn from your old uncle Hargald the true way of the mountains!”

    With a bellow, the boy barreled forward - straight into Hargald’s shield. The boy staggered back, off-balance, and the hob’s blade whipped up in a deadly arc that left a wide slash of red deep across the boy’s chest. With a roar, Hargald followed with a vicious overhand strike that trailed with a pulsing reddish glow.

    Bloody and nearly unconscious, the boy slumped against the wall. The hob laughed, regaining his temper. “So, old man, your sign - or the boy’s life!” He turned to find the dais empty.

    “Hmph … the old man runs for help. Pathetic.” Hargald eyed the room haughtily, flicking his wrist to clear his blade and leaving a bloody spray against the wall.

    Without warning, hundreds of flickers of light glanced through the shadowy hall. Cuts appeared, as if by magic, across the hobgoblin’s unguarded flesh. With a tearing sound, the leather strap binding his breastplate gave, his armor falling askew. In confusion, he ripped at his chest, tearing it free, and fresh blood spurted from beneath. He wiped a suddenly bloody brow with his sword arm, then spotted a tiny form in the shadows of the hall.

    “You’ll pay for that shameful strike, old viper!”

    Harglad charged, stumbling, his shield tearing free from a cut strap as he grasped his blade in both hands, bringing it up for a powerful overhand strike.

    To the boy, blinking through a red haze, it seemed as though his master merely touched his enemy lightly on the leg. There was a flash of purple light, followed almost instantly by a pulse of cold and a blue-black glow. Hargald fell to one knee, cursing. “My eyes! You cursed old man, what have you done to my eyes!?”

    Staggering to his feet, he began hacking wildly, swinging his sword desperately about, reeling like a drunk. A single steely gleam cut the dark and Hargald went crashing to the floor, limp, and the boy let his heavy lids close to black.

    He woke to a burning warmth on his neck. A cool cloth wiped his eyes, and he found himself looking up into the ancient abbott’s clever, wrinkled face. The old man withdrew a liver-spotted hand, and the boy caught the faintest orange glow on his palm. The master’s eyes were smiling, but his mouth was tight. He patted the boy’s head gently.

    “You have found your sun all right. I’m very proud. But I’m afraid your time here has ended. I’ve held on too long.” His mouth gave for a moment, and he smiled - a wrinkled grin that lit up his face. “I was the one who took you from the temple steps, it’s true - and I’ve held you back. I was a selfish fool to miss it.”

    The boy lifted his head weakly, “Master, I …”

    The old man shook his head. “I’ve not the heart to show you your shadow, boy. You’ll have to go to the others for that.”

    “The others?”

    The old man helped the boy to his feet. The boy was surprised at the sudden strength in those wiry hands.

    “You didn’t think I was the only one, did you? Oh no, the temple is in the world, and the world in the temple. I’m just the oldest, and laziest, and the most willing to stay and train you young ones.” With the old man’s support, the boy limped past Hargald’s crumpled form and back to the dais, where this time he waited quietly as the old man poured them both another cup.

    “You’ll need a letter of introduction - the others can be jumpy. They’re still in the thick of it.” Reaching into his robe, the old man pulled out a scroll tube and laid it before the boy, who put both hands to the mat and made to bow, wincing in pain. The old man laid a quiet hand on his arm before he could.

    “Just take it. You’ll find Brother Fleeting Shadow somewhere in the Marches - he hunts there for his own balance. Look for the Gatekeepers. If you manage to survive, he should guide you to another.”

    The old man’s hand lingered on the boy’s, then gave a short squeeze. “Find your shadow. Go on, before I give in to sentiment and ask you to stay.”

    As the young man limped from the hall, he passed the wall where Hargald had fallen. Catching a sudden gleam in the shadows he leaned close to see copper coins - perhaps twenty - half-deep in the stone. Wondering, he tugged until one came free in his hand. It gleamed red, both from the metal and a thin sheen of blood. On one side was emblazoned with a sun with waving rays; the other was smooth and blank.

    From behind him, he heard the voice of his master, the abbott - the only father he had ever known.

    “You may as well take that, too - it may come in handy.”

    Chapter 2: Fleeting Shadow

    Spoiler
    Show
    They had been more than a week in the Crawling Swamp, and it was taking a clear toll on both humor and health.

    “I officially cannot remember what dry feels like. My fungus has a bad case of mold. I think the stuff between my toes may be developing into a rather cultured civilization. Remind me again - we’re here why, exactly?”

    This last was directed at the one they called Sun. The huge man was just as sodden and stinking as his halfling companion, and darted a dark glance in response. “I have an appointment. Who asked you to come, anyhow?” His bare arms were criss-crossed with scars, and he wore across his back a black quarterstaff, as big around as a man’s wrist and easily seven feet in length, shod in bronze.

    “Oh, don’t mind me. I saw how you dealt with those barbarians back in town, and even if you have questionable taste in route, you’re the only option I’ve seen for safe passage to port.” The halfling grinned impishly. “Plus, you’re such charming company, who could resist?”

    Their talk was cut short with a curt pass of their travelling companion’s hand. The tall, rangy orc was dressed in tight leathers, and his skin, where it showed, was a glossy blue-black. “Look.”

    The two followed his outstretched arm to a low huddle of indistinct shapes on the horizon. Squinting through the trailing mists, the three fell silent. The halfling spoke first.

    “You have an appointment … there? I’d hesitate to call it a village, and a word as charming as “hamlet” I reserve for far more pastoral locales. That’s …”

    The orc cut him short. “That’s Clan Skorl. Swift will go first to look.” He crouched down to his companion, a small, grey-colored reptile that stood tall on two legs like a man. It cocked its head, eyes bright, as he croaked quietly to it, then nimbly made it’s way into the mists.

    Sun looked down at the halfling. “Why don’t you tag along, Trim? It’d be the first use you’ve been since you signed on.”

    Trim winced, picking at the edge of his ruined cloak - a cloak that looked as if it had been rather expensive at some point in the recent past. “I suppose I might as well. Swift may not be skilled at conversation, but he at least listens.” He slipped off behind the beast, stepping carefully.

    A moment later, Sun turned to the orc. His friend was grinning. Sun grinned back. “We should follow them, shouldn’t we?”

    The orc shrugged eloquently, still grinning. “You sent him. You think he won’t need backup?”

    Sun shook his head in resignation. “You’re sure this is where we’ll find him - the adept you I’m looking for?”

    The orc spread his hands wide, palms out. “He’s always there before us. He may be no Gatekeeper, but he helps. If this woman - Mad Melody - is leading them to try to open a gateto Khyber, he’ll be there. Probably already is.”

    Sun indicated the path taken by the other two with his hand. “After you, then.”

    The orc nodded and slipped quietly into the tangled, brackish undergrowth. His voice called back quietly. “Be sure you’re as quiet as you are big, man.”

    They caught up with the two outside the camp, crouched behind a pile of refuse. “A fine spot you’ve picked, Trim. It stinks worse than the swamp.” He nudged a half-eaten snake carcass, bigger around than a man’s waist, with his toe. Trim reply was quiet and terse: “You’ll be glad of any cover once you see what they’re up to. Some sort of big mojo going on, that’s for sure.” He nodded towards the middle of the village.

    In the midst of the sod-roofed huts a fire was blazing. The entire Clan - it looked like a good twenty or so warriors, and perhaps twice as many elderly, women, and children - were gathered in front of the dwellings. Framed by the flames was an altar - a massive stone edifice of black basalt. It could not have been natural - there was no such rock for hundreds of miles in any direction. Behind it, a dagger held high, was an impossibly tall woman. Beneath her blade, a heavyset orc, stripped naked, lay unconscious.

    Both Sun and the orc started. The orc muttered “Master Gurl! If they can take him, I do not know what we can do …”

    Sun placed a hand on his shoulder. At first sight of the woman, he had been thrown into turmoil, but he held himself in check. “We can only try, Snake. Be ready - on my signal!”

    The knife came flashing down and the world went dark.

    A hurtling ball of shadows detached itself from one of the sod rooftops and sped directly into the circle of firelight. When it reached the woman’s side, the entire fire was submerged in a sea of black shadows. There were screams and shouts from the entire crowd.

    Snake tensed under Sun’s hand, but he whispered “Wait for it!”

    And then, just as suddenly, the circle was clear. Standing ten feet from the woman, who was now a good distance from the altar, was a tall, thin man wrapped in a dark cloak. The woman’s hands were raised in a gesture, but she looked frozen, as if interrupted in the midst of something. The look on her face was clear from where they crouched: utter astonishment.

    As quick as a snake, something long and red in the firelight whipped from the man’s left hand and around the woman’s throat. There was a flash of purplish light, and she crumpled. At the same moment, a blue-black pulse erupted from the cloaked figure.

    The crowd, some of whom had managed to draw weapons, screamed as one. Many clutched their eyes; one orc warrior swung blindly, cutting deep into the man next to him.

    “Now!” Sun shouted.

    They charged through the staggering crowd, shoving and pushing their way towards the altar. Sun unslung the quarterstaff as he shoved an orc reeling, then gave a start as he hear Trim cry out behind him “Duck!”

    He whipped around in time to see the halfling whip something from his side catching an orc with a battleaxe on the side of his head. His eyes rolled up and he slumped.

    As they pushed forward, Sun shouted back “Now THAT was useful - keep it up!”

    The orcs around him were clearly regaining sight as weapons began to steady. There were angry shouts and growls. As they neared the altar, two things became clear. First, the body lying there was bloody. Second, it was not alone.

    Beneath the altar yawned a portal to madness.

    A huge scar in the ground grinned red in the firelight. Out of it writhed countless tentacles, whipping back and forth. As they watched in horror, one snatched up an orc in tribal headdress and pulled him, screaming, toward the pit.

    The cloaked man’s voice was a rough rasp. “It needs blood to open - I’ve ony stayed the process a moment. Push it back!”

    As he turned, Sun caught the same flashing whip-like movement from the man’s left hand. This time, it moved even more quickly, passing only momentarily over the prone figure on the altar. There was an orange glow, and the body convulsed and coughed for breath.

    “Master Grul!” Snake vaulted the pit recklessly, a few tendrils whipping past him as he did. The man on the altar struggled to lift his head, whispering something Sun could not hear.

    He had other problems.

    He beat at the tendrils with his staff, both bands at it’s base, swinging with all his might. He ripped free as they satched at him. The cloaked man whirled by, long enough for Sun to catch a glimpse of the long black whip, tipped with a bronze-colored dagger, that flashed in his right hand. He shouted out to him: “If I can get above them, I can hurt it!”

    The man’s whip did not pause, nor did Sun’s staff. He rasped back “I’m no good with something that doesn’t move - do what you can!”

    A flick of his wrist sent the dagger flying into the wall of a nearby hut, where it stuck, and the man wrapped the end around his wrist as he shouted “Go!”

    Sun leapt up to grab the leather as tendrils whipped past him. In a moment he was on the roof.

    “Empty sky - ” he shouted, as he leapt with his quarterstaff high above his head.

    ****

    The cleanup took hours. The clan had scattered. Master Gurl advocated leaving the dead where they lay. “They have their own rituals - let them mourn the fallen how they will. We can only add insult to murder if we tamper with them.”

    Sun crouched by the body of the fallen woman. She was impossibly tall - nearly seven feat - and her hands were out-sized, the fingers long but wide. Her skin, which had glowed with arcane designs during the ritual, now bore only faint bluish and purple networks of whorled lines, like a faded tattoo or veins.

    The cloaked man drew near. Sun ran a finger down her cheek.

    “She was … like me.”

    He took the hand offered and stood, a full two heads taller than the dark-skinned man. “Less like you than I am. She never owned her shadow - her shadow owned her.”

    Sun made a small sign with his fingers. “Two heavens …”

    The other made made a gesture and replied: “One sky.” They clasped hands.

    Sun asked “You’re Fleeting Shadow - Master Niten told me to look for you here.” He rummaged in his robe, pulled out the scroll tube and extended it.

    The other waved it away. “I need no proof. You’re a temple brat through and through. We’re the only ones who ever wear the signs.” He nodded to Sun’s staff. “You left that mark on enough foreheads to make it hard to miss.” Sun grinned sheepishly, fingering the butt end of his staff. The bronze caps ended in a bas relief sun.

    The huge man replied “You wear them too,” nodding at the cloaked man’s whip - the bronze blade bore a sun design. “Does that make you a temple brat?”

    The cloaked man grinned. “It’s good to know Doraku’s still kicking. I’d have been back to see him, but there’s always something in the way.” He shifted, and Sun noticed again that he kept his left arm - the arm that had delivered the strike that felled Mad Melody - cloaked. The cloak stirred strangely, and Fleeting Shadow pulled at the edge as though nervous for a moment, then sighed.

    “You might as well look - this is my shadow.”

    He extended his left arm from his cloak. Wrapped tightly around it was a thick, reddish tentacle. It looked raw and alive, like a stand of exposed muscle. Sun stared in open fascination before Shadow whipped the cloak shut. He was suddenly curt.

    “Why have you come?”

    “I’m called Big Sun. Master Doraku sent me to find my shadow. He said you might be able to help me find it.”

    Trip chuckled and called over his shoulder as he merrily plundered corpses. “Are we giving ourselves fancy names now? Well then, I’m Lord Dark-knickers, and you all best deliver me your valuables! Big Sun and Fleeting Shadow, I ask you!”

    Sun looked embarrased. “Don’t mind him - he’s harmless. I understand you’re busy, but … would you train me?”

    The dark man eyed Sun for a long moment, then shook his head. “I can’t train anyone - I’m no teacher. I’m a hunter. But I could use some help.”

    He extended a hand - his left - and Sun took it.


    COMBAT NOTES
    Spoiler
    Show
    Fleeting Shadow is a Half-Daelkyr who was abandoned on the steps of the Shadowsun temple, much like Big Sun. His shadow is his aberrant heritage - more specifically, his twin: the symbiont that shares his left arm. Like all of the Shadowsun masters, he has perfected the art of using his shadow as power to fight against evil.

    The first round of combat is the most worthy of mention. Fleeting Shadow begins in Child of Shadow stance, then swaps it for Child of Shadow and Light to create the deeper darkness that shrouds the altar and the surrounding villagers. He uses pounce to attack with both his weapons - his fifteen-foot long tentacle whip symbiont and his mighty whip - but chooses to deal no damage, instead using the Combat Rhythm option of Stormguard Warrior to build +5 to damage per hit on his next round’s attacks.

    He ends his turn adjacent to Melody in order to prevent her from casting. His Mage Slayer feat makes it impossible for casters in his reach to cast defensively, but anyone in his reach is aware of this fact. Melody attempts the obvious - to move out of his reach.

    Fleeting Shadow uses a combination of feats here: Evasive Reflexes, Double Hit, and again, Stormguard Warrior. Evasive Reflexes allows a character to give up an AoO to instead take a 5 foot step. Double Hit allows a character to attack with an off-hand weapon as well on an AoO, letting Fleeting Shadow give up both for 10 feet of movement. Finally, Stormguard Warrior’s Channel the Storm option grants a +4 to hit and damage for each AoO that a character chooses not to take, which in this case, means +8/+8 for every 5 feet Melody moves back. Melody takes a full move, at the end of which she is shocked to find Fleeting Shadow still adjacent and threatening.

    The next round, Shadow uses Touch of the Shadow Sun, boosted by both his Combat Rhythm (since this is now his next official turn) AND Channel the Storm. The resulting negative energy hit, channeled through his tentacle whip (which can transmit any touch attack), is enough to fell Melody. The subsequent heal is enough to restore Gurl to full HP.

    For this character, I was attempting an approach to combat that was highly mobile. In each build, I’m trying to capitalize on the Shadowsun Ninja’s abilities - Niten Doraku is designed to make good use of blinding with Iaijutsu Focus, for instance. Fleeting Shadow is optimized for use of Touch of the Shadow Sun - he has abilities that let him remain effective in combat while building up massive hits and heals that he can distribute at range. Furthermore, though it never comes into play, he has the ability to take AoOs against any who do, in fact, attack him, through the use of Robliar’s Gambit. Finally, should a melee type attempt a full attack, he can simply use Evasive Reflexes to step back, preventing all but the first successful hit from landing.


    First Course: Fleeting Shadow
    Spoiler
    Show
    Sources Used: Magic of Eberron, Unearthed Arcana, Miniatures Handbook, Player’s Handbook II, Complete Champion, Masters of the Wild, Tome of Battle

    Race: Half-Daelkyr

    Attributes: Str: 10 Con: 14 Dex: 18 Int: 10 Wis: 14 Cha: 8

    Classes: Martial Rogue 2 (ECL 1-2), Monk of the Invisible Eye 1 (ECL 3), Lion Totem Barbarian 1 (ECL 4), Warblade 1 (ECL 5), Swordsage 2 (ECL 6-7), Fighter 2 (ECL 8-9), Shadowsun Ninja 10 (ECL 10-19), Warblade +1 (ECL 20).

    Feats: Two-Weapon Fighting (1st), Symbiont Master (Half-Daelkyr Bonus), WP Finesse (Martial Rogue 1), EWP - Whip (Martial Rogue 2), Improved Unarmed Strike (Monk Bonus 1), Combat Reflexes (Invisible Eye School Bonus 1), Evasive Reflexes (3rd), Ironheart Aura (6th), Combat Reflexes (Fighter 1), Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (Fighter 2), Stormguard Warrior (9th), Double Hit (12th), Mage Slayer (15th), Robilar’s Gambit (18th).

    Notable Skills: Apart from Hide and Move Silently, this build has a lot of freedom, skill-wise. Listen and Spot seem obvious, as do the physical skills like Climb and Jump. Tumble is also handy for the rare enemy with 15 feet or more of reach to help Shadow close in and take advantage of his AoO abilities.

    Notable Class Abilities and Levels:
    • This character plays as a mobile rogue with maneuvers for flavor in early levels. From first, however, he has the use of a symbiont, which should be a Crawling Claw (use with Two-Weapon Fighting) or Throwing Scarab (handy for damage purposes, and a great ranged option - he can also throw with his off-hand or use a hand crossbow).
    • ECL 4 lets Fleet both pounce on a charge AND use Whirling Frenzy, increasing his Strength and Dex and gaining an attack per round once per day. This is less useful at higher levels (except as a way to boost Balance of Light and Dark at 19th), but becomes a crucial fall-back to boost power at 4th.
    • At ECL 5, he picks up Warblade 1 and some very useful maneuvers. Battle Leader’s Charge is almost a necessity for a pouncer, and will significantly increase Fleet’s firepower, as is the Leading the Charge stance.
    • ECL 6 and 7 are lovely for the increase in firepower - maneuvers do a ton for a dual-whip wielder. Tiger Claw moves are fun, and Setting Sun’s Mighty Throw is a gimme choice for keeping enemies at bay - throw someone 15 feet away another 10 and you’re talking a real movement penalty!
    • The first moment when his style crystallizes is ECL 9, when he grabs Stormguard Warrior and can begin using Evasive Reflexes to boost his next round’s hits.
    • ECL 10 grants the symbiont upgrade the build relies on: the tentacle whip. This has the same range as a whip, but also threatens and can deliver touch attacks, and now, with Evasive and Combat Reflexes combined with Stormguard Warrior, Fleeting Shadow starts living up to his name.
    • ECL 11 makes Fleeting Shadow an in-combat healer, using his Stormguard-fueled 15 ft. reach to both inflict and cure allies.
    • ECL 12 marks a significant improvement: Double Hit grants two hits for each one AoO, doubling bonus damage from the build’s fighting style.
    • The final levels of Shadowsun Ninja just keep improving on an already solid build. Maneuvers and stances increase combat effectiveness, and the Shadowsun Ninja’s light and dark powers work well with any moves the character chooses.
    • ECL 15 makes Fleet the worst nightmare of casters, who now no longer can cast defensively within his reach.
    • ECL 20 is significant because it provides the use of Ironheart Surge, which allows Fleeting Shadow to take significant advantage of the final ability of Shadowsun Ninja: Balance of Light and Dark. Dealing negative levels with his AoOs makes him a combat beast; Ironheart Surge lets him recuperate afterwards immediately, dismissing the Con damage taken.


    Final Review: At final level, Fleet has a BaB of +14, and with his extra two attacks from Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, can strike 5 times on his initial pounce. With level bonuses, a Tome, and an enhancement item, his Dex will be at 34, for a +12 to hit. His initial pounce will be given up for Stormguard touch attacks, leading to a total of +5x5 = +25 damage to the next round’s hits. He’ll do this, of course, while hiding in the deeper darkness provided by the Shadowsun Ninja’s Child of Shadow and Light stance. If the target attempts to flee, he can follow for up to 6x2x5 ft. = 60 feet using Double Hit + Evasive Reflexes + Combat Reflexes, making him nearly impossible to escape. Each AoO he uses to move two 5 foot steps will boost the next round’s attacks by +8 to hit and +8 to damage, meaning a total of +8x6 = +48 to hit and damage. If the target attacks, he gets the same advantage whether it is a miss or hit, using Robilar’s Gambit.

    In the second round, he will blind the target as he strikes with Touch of the Shadow Sun, which will now deal 1d10 (unarmed damage for an effectively 11th level Monk) + 2 (Wis, assuming no enhancement) + 25 (Combat Rhythm) + 48 (Channel the Storm) = 1d10+75 negative energy damage, then finish by using a Swift action to shift into Battle Leader’s Charge. In the next round, he can use this to heal an ally and then charge again. In dire circumstances, he can use the Balance ability to deal an incredible number of negative levels (6 using his tentacle, which channels the effect) in a round, then another 6 if the target flees or attacks.

    Third Course: Quick Shadow and Dead Sun
    Spoiler
    Show
    Brother Big Sun will meet these two half-siblings in the next chapter, which will be titled (if anyone bugs me to keep writing!) “The Quick and the Dead.” Obvious, I know.

    Quick Shadow and Dead Sun are the religious names (a la the Temple) of Cassandra (Caz) and Calvino (Cal). Cassandra was born to a human mother; Calvino was born to an elven mother, and is a half-elf. Both share the same father - a Vampire Lord high up in the hierarchy of the Blood of Vol. Each is Vampire Blooded, using the Major bloodline rules from Unearthed Arcana.

    The two were raised by their father, who abducted them shortly after birth. They were trained as killers, educated in his style of swordsmanship (Iaijutsu Focus - a style devoted to quick, secret assassination kills), and were slated to be turned once they reached full maturity. Their friendship with one another, however, proved their salvation, and they began to plot their escape from their cruel, brutal, inhuman father. After their escape at the tender ages of 15 and 17, they spent years on the run, hunted by agents of the Blood of Vol, until they found sanctuary at the Temple of the Shadowsun.

    There they found in Grandmaster Niten emotional guidance and the means to turn their dark heritage against their father.

    Now, they are fully fledged masters of the Shadowsun style, and work as a pair to undermine the actions of the Blood of Vol wherever they can. Ultimately, they seek revenge on their father, and the reassurance that, in ending his undead life, they can prevent him from doing to any other children what he did to them.


    Quick Shadow - Cassandra (Caz)
    Spoiler
    Show
    Sources Used: Dungeonscape, Online, Tome of Battle, Complete Adventurer, Dragon Magic, Unearthed Arcana, Oriental Adventures

    Race: Human (Major Vampire Bloodline)

    Attributes: Str: 8, Con: 12, Dex: 12, Int: 18, Cha: 14

    Classes: Factotum 8 (ECL 1-8), Swordsage 2 (ECL 9-10), Shadowsun Ninja 10 (ECL 11-20)

    Feats: Font of Incarnum (1st, human, 3rd, 6th), Improved Unarmed Strike (9th), Font of Incarnum (12th, 15th, 18th)

    Notable Skills: As she has access to all skills, she has max ranks in Iaijutsu Focus and Use Magic Device. Tumble is also necessary, as are Hide and Move Silently. At least one rank in any skills of interest will allow her to boost checks using Cunning Knowledge, and with her Intelligence and the Factotum’s skill points she works as an excellent support character. Search, Open Locks, and Disable Device will make her a trapfinding expert.

    Notable Class Abilities and Levels:
    • ECL 3 will make Quick Shadow live up to her name, with her Int bonus to initiative and physical skills (Str and Dex-based).
    • ECL 4 sees the use of Cunning Strike, which as written allows as many dice of Sneak Attack as a character has Inspiration Points. At level 4, Caz has 3 base points and 6 from her multiple Fonts of Inspiration, allowing for a +9d6 assassination strike if she chooses to blow all her points in one go! Usually, however, she’ll be better off spending one point to add Int to attack and go for +8d6 damage if she wants to snipe.
    • ECL 5 brings the use of limited healing and turning, letting Caz more effectively fight the undead.
    • ECL 8 is where things get crazy. Now Caz has 5 base Inspiration, +10 from Fonts, for a total of 15 points, which translates to 5 extra standard actions in a round. She can use these to perform multiple Iaijutsu Focus strikes, activate multiple wands, or cast multiple spells through her Arcane Dilletante power. She can start using at least one 3rd level slot from Arcane Dilettante to cast an 8 hour long buff on her weapon: Greater Mighty Wallop. This will also synergize nicely when she gains Improved Unarmed Strike at level 9, and again at level 11 when she gains Touch of the Shadow Sun. This is definitely the build’s sweet spot, and the engine that drives the rest of the levels.
    • ECL 9 grants Improved Unarmed Strike and maneuvers, making the extra standard actions available through Cunning Surge VERY effective.
    • ECL 10 plus just see Caz’s strength multiply as maneuvers and swift actions stack up. She can now pace herself in combat, using only one extra standard per turn, or nova as she sees fit. Int to AC and to hit are cheap at 1 Inspiration each, and may be worth it in longer fights or when a given move has to hit.
    • At ECL 19, when she picks up the Balance ability, Caz can offset attribute loss nicely with wands of lesser restoration.


    Final Review: A note on Bloodlines: while Vampire Bloodline might provide a limited number of bonuses and benefits, it has one major boost and one major drawback. The major boost is to the “effective level” of Caz’s Factotum and Martial Adept levels. The drawback is that she must take levels 3, 6, and 12 twice, effectively - once to gain the bloodline level, then once again to actually level up Though this delays her development slightly, the benefit is effective, raising her caster level with her Arcane Dilettante ability to 11th and her Martial Adept level to 19th by ECL 20, letting her invest in 9th level maneuvers of her choice.

    At ECL 20, she has a BaB of +14/+8/+2, and a total of 28 Inspiration points, which allow for 9 standard actions with a point left over for the ability of her choice. If she chooses to use maneuvers, she has at least one 9th level maneuver from Setting Sun or Shadow Hand, 11 known maneuvers, and 6 maneuvers readied. If she chooses, she can use all 6 maneuvers in combination with Iaijutsu Focus, leaving 10 Inspiration left to add her Int mod to attacks, saves, AC, or even skill checks (like Iaijutsu Focus, of course). Since all her actions will happen during the same round, she doesn’t need to worry about re-sheathing - all her attacks can occur after coming out of hiding in deeper darkness or after blinding targets.


    Dead Sun
    Spoiler
    Show
    Sources Used: Tome of Battle, Unearthed Arcana, Tome of Magic, Oriental Adventures, Player’s Guide to Eberron, Races of Stone, Complete Champion

    Race: Half-Elf (Major Vampire Bloodline)

    Attributes: Str: 10, Con: 14, Dex: 14, Int: 14, Wis: 14, Cha: 14

    Classes: Binder 8 (ECL 1-8), Swordsage 2 (ECL 9-10), Shadowsun Ninja 10 (ECL 11-20)

    Feats: Aereni Skill Focus (1st), EWP - Gnomish Quickrazor (3rd), Practiced Binder (Binder Bonus 4), WP Finesse (6th), Improved Unarmed Strike (9th), Darkstalker (12th), Blind Fight (15th), Travel Devotion (18th).

    Notable Skills: Social skills - this character has potential, by binding Naberius, to be an excellent party face, using Disguise Self and taking 10 on social skills. Hide and Move Silently should be invested in when Swordsage levels are obtained, pushing them in two levels to the 8 ranks each necessary to enter Shadowsun Ninja.

    Notable Class Abilities and Levels:
    • ECL 1: Aereni Skill Focus acts as skill focus and makes any one skill, even a trained only, into a class skill for a character’s entire career. It represents a sort of racial memory and training, and for Cal is heritage from his Aerenal Elven mother. Iaijutsu Focus is now a class skill.
    • ECL 2: Pact augmentation grants a very useful boost at this level. With a shield and Dahlver-Nahr, Cal has a very decent AC in medium armor, or can push his HP up by 5 (useful at 2nd, especially since he has a bloodline level to take at 3rd that will delay his next HD).
    • ECL 4: Practiced Binder as a bonus feat allows access to 3rd level vestiges at this level, making Cal a much more effective character. Paimon is an excellent choice for using Iaijutsu Focus on multiple opponents at once with the Quickrazor, and Malphas can use invisibility and sudden strike to excellent effect.
    • ECL 5: Two pact augmentations is better than one. Insight bonuses to saves are excellent as higher levels bring about more and more dangerous save vs. suck challenges.
    • ECL 8: Binding two vestiges simultaneously is an amazing ability. At this point, Cal can take up to 5th level vestiges thanks to his bloodline levels advancing his effective Binder level, allowing for all sorts of interesting combinations (Paimon + Malphas, etc.).
    • ECL 10: Swordsage levels are gravy for Cal; things get interesting with Touch of the Shadow Sun. Now he can bind Acererak, which allows him to heal with EITHER negative OR positive energy. Effectively, he can heal himself for 1d6+Wis damage as a standard one round, then 1d6+Wis as a swift next round, or mix together his uses as he sees fit.
    • ECL 12: With his final Bloodline level, Cal now counts, with Practiced Binder, as a 13th level Binder, capable of binding vestiges up to 7th level. Marchiosas becomes available, adding a +16 to Hide and Move Silently AND a Death Attack; if bound with Malphas or Chupoclops, Cal becomes a consummate assassin, capable of becoming smoke or ethereal, watching a target for three rounds, then either pouncing with Iaijutsu Focus fueled Death Attacks or striking with Sudden Strike boosted attacks.
      ECL 18: With Travel Devotion, Cal can use Tenebrous - an appropriately shadowy vestige - to get an extra move action every round, which he can use to Hide again in the darkness, fueling each round’s Iaijutsu Focus strike. Another choice at this level would be Expel Vestige, allowing the character the flexibility to change his vestige selections for the day.
    • ECL 19: Cal can easily offset the penalties from Balance of Light and Dark by binding Naberius, and like his sister gains a 9th level maneuver from Shadow Hand or Setting Sun at this level.


    Final Review: This character is very entertaining. With different vestiges bound, he is both flexible and powerful. Using Malphas and Paimon with Iaijutsu Focus at early levels makes him a credible threat; at later levels, Chupoclops grants pounce and Etherealness, Tenebrous darkness and extra move actions, Acererak for infinite healing, and so on.

    Again, with a Major Vampire Bloodline, not only does Cal get access to a 9th level maneuver, but he also gains 3 effective Binder levels for the purposes of determining the highest level vestige he can bind. This, along with Practiced Binder, mean he counts as a 13th level Binder by 12th level. The possibilities are endless, varied, and fun to explore - the beauty of the build is that it maintains flexibility AND power.

    As an example, try Marchiosas + Malphas. Use Malphas’s bird to scout the target. Turn to smoke and watch the target for 3 rounds. When death attacking, add Iaijutsu Focus (average of +6d6 damage), Sudden Strike (+4d6), Five Shadow Creeping Ice Enervation Strike (+15d6) and a host of nasty effects, including possible helplessness, death, paralysis, and ability damage. Upon striking, blind with Flame of the Shadow Sun, then strike again with Iaijutsu Focus, Sudden Strike, and another maneuver in the next round. In the third round, use Malphas to become invisible, and enjoy a repeat performance.

    The same is possible with Chupoclops, who is worth noting for allowing Etherealness while immobile, making him an excellent choice for planning Death Attacks.


    Big Sun
    [spoiler]The hero of our story, and the dessert. He’s a combination of different techniques, learned from each of the masters.

    Sources Used: Expanded Psionics Handbook, Races of Stone, Dungeonscape, Complete Warrior, Unearthed Arcana, Tome of Battle, Compelte Champion

    Race: Half-Giant

    Attributes: Str: 20, Con: 12, Dex: 10, Int: 10, Wis: 14, Cha: 8

    Classes: Monk of the Overwhelming Attack School 2 (ECL 2-3), Dungeoncrasher Fighter 2 (ECL 4-5), Warblade 1 (ECL 6), Lion Totem Barbarian (ECL 7), Swordsage 2 (ECL 8-9), Shadowsun Ninja 10 (ECL 10-19), Warblade +1 (ECL 20)

    Feats: Blind Fight (1st), Power Attack (Overwhelming Attack School 1), Improved Bull Rush (Overwhelming Attack School 2), Knockback (Fighter 1), Improved Unarmed Strike (Monk 1), Leap of the Heavens (3rd), Ironheart Aura (6th), WP Focus - Quarterstaff (Swordsage Dicipline Focus 1), Stormguard Warrior (9th), Leap Attack (12th), Darkstalker (15th), Shock Trooper (18th)

    Notable Skills: Jump, Hide, and Move Silently should be maxed. Note Leap of the Heavens helps jumping out a lot when it kicks in. Other skills are at the builder’s discretion.

  21. - Top - End - #291
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Continued from last entry
    Quote Originally Posted by Big Sun (II)
    Notable Class Abilities and Levels:
    • ECL 5 (including the Half-Giant’s +1 LA) is where we first see Big Sun employing his “Empty Sky Big Sun” technique - to whit, Knockback with Dungeon-crashing on a Power Attack. This deals 4d6 + 2xStr to a target, making it a significant ability.
    • ECL 6 is when Big Sun picks up charging maneuvers in preparation for pounce. Using Battle Leader’s Charge for +10 damage on the basic Power Attack hit AND Dunegon-crashing for another 4d6+2xStr makes Big Sun a serious cannon. Another valuable maneuver is Emerald Razor, for granting a touch attack that can be power-attacked into seriously high bull-rush values; this becomes obsolete after 9th level, however, when Big Sun picks up Stormguard Warrior and starts bull-rushing with the touch attacks used to charge Combat Rhythm.
    • ECL 7 grants pounce, and now Big Sun can charge, pounce, AND Dungeoncrash - a nasty combination.
    • ECL 9 marks a milestone, and is probably the build’s “sweet spot.” Now Big Sun gets TWICE Wis bonus to AC when unarmored, which can mount up with enhancement items. More importantly, he has Stormguard Warrior; though the touch attacks he uses to fuel Combat Rhythm do no damage themselves, they can Bull Rush the target using Knockback, and the force of impact into a wall (or the ground, if jumping above an enemy as in Chapter 2) deals Dungeon-crashing damage. If pouncing on a target, he can damage while charging Combat Rhythm, then follow up with a damage-boosted maneuver in the next round.
    • ECL 10 grants Touch of the Shadow Sun, making Combat Rhythm-fueled negative energy touch attacks (plus, of course, Dunegon-crash damage) very nasty as both a weapon and a healing ability.
    • ECL 11-18 are gravy, and basically just keep boosting Big Sun’s style with more feats, maneuvers, and lovely swift-action abilities from Shadowsun Ninja.
    • ECL 19-20 grant both the negative level ability of Balance of Light and Dark (which pairs well with Combat Rhythm + Dungeon-crashing) AND the Iron Heart Surge maneuver to cancel the Con damage when the ability fades.


    Final Review: The final numbers here are impressive. With levels, Tome, and enhancement, Big Sun has a 36 Strength for a base damage, with his oversized quarterstaff (a style choice, mind you, rather than a more effective reach weapon), of 1d8+19. When Power Attacking (his BaB is +14) on a Leap-Attack charge, adding in bonuses for Leading the Charge (+11), and doing touch-attacks with his quarterstaff, he bull-rushes with a bonus of +12 (Str) + 4 (size) + 4 (imp. bull rush) + 28 (Knockback + PA) = +48 on three attacks, dealing 4d6+35 damage on each for 12d6+105 damage. Next round his attacks gain +15 damage. He also deals triple Power Attack damage on charges and can pinball targets one square left or right for each square back with his bull rushes, and causes them to fall if they hit any obstacle, letting him push, sumo-style, his targets into one another.[/spoiler]

    I have two other builds I haven’t had the time to add, in addition to two more Chapters I didn’t have time to write (one introducing Quick Shadow and Dead Sun, and the last bringing the meal to a close by having Big Sun return to see his master, introducing his build.

    The two final masters:

    Spoiler
    Show
    Sunstorm, a Warforged Swordage 2/Warblade 3/Shadowsun Ninja 10/Swordsage +2/Warblade +2/Swordsage +1 who uses the Shocking Fist feat from PgtE and Stone Power (which absorbs the damage from Shocking Fist) to deal an extra +15d4 electricity damage on his Touch of the Shadow Sun (fueled by Stormguard Warrior, Second Slam, and Jaws of Death pounces using Warblade maneuvers). He searches the Mournlands for the Lord of Blades, seeking to stop his quest to build more Warforged. His “shadow” is his unliving side - the emotionless construct within him that lacks sympathy for life. Hence, he draws power from this shadow in the form of his natural weapons and electrical attacks.

    Dancing Shadow, a Kalashtar who uses Path of Shadows, Dancing Shadows, Defensive Throw, and Improved Combat Expertise along with Robilar’s Gambit, a la Tlielaxu Ghola’s “Edge of Light” build, to have a massively un-hittable AC and the ability to strike back at attackers foolish enough to attack and miss.


    If you’ve made it this far, my thanks and apologies. This was a ton of fun, and I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as I did! If you’d like the final two chapters or final two masters, give me a PM and I’ll see if I can find time - I’d enjoy the excuse.

  22. - Top - End - #292
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Rise to Honour
    Quote Originally Posted by Ar K'Lay
    Ar K’lay, The Dark Prince; NG Azurin Cleric of Grumbar 3/Ardent 2/Swordsage 1/Psychic Theurge 4/Shadow Sun Ninja 10

    Spoiler
    Show


    Spoiler
    Show
    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Cleric 1|
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |Concentration 4, K. Religion 4, Hide 2 cc, Use Magic Device 2 cc|Improved Unarmed Strike, Darkstalker, Incarnum Spellshaping, Improved Initiative|Time Domain, Incarnum Domain, Channel Incarnum, Spontaneous Domain Casting (Time)

    2nd|Cleric 2|
    +1
    |
    +3
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |Concentration 5, K. Religion 5, Hide 2.5 cc, Use Magic Device 3.5 cc||

    3rd|Cleric 3|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +1
    |
    +3
    |Concentration 6, K. Religion 6, Hide 3 cc, Use Magic Device 3 cc|Overchannel|

    4th|Ardent 1|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +1
    |
    +5
    |Concentration 6, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 1, Hide 3, Psicraft 3, Use Magic Device 3||Assume Psionic Mantles (Time and Natural World)

    5th|Swordsage 1|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +7
    |Concentration 6, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 2 cc, Hide 7, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 3||Quick To Act +1, Discipline Focus (Shadow Hand; Weapon Focus)

    6th|Ardent 2|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +8
    |Concentration 6, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 7, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 6|||Practised Manifester|Assume Psionic Mantle (Magic Mantle)

    7th|Psychic Theurge 1|
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +10
    |Concentration 7, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 8 cc, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 6.5 cc||

    8th|Psychic Theurge 2|
    +4
    |
    +3
    |
    +3
    |
    +11
    |Concentration 8, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 8.5 cc, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 7.5 cc||

    9th|Psychic Theurge 3|
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +11
    |Concentration 9, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 9.5 cc, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 8 cc|Weapon Finesse|

    10th|Psychic Theurge 4|
    +5
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    |
    +12
    |Concentration 10, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 10 cc, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 9 cc||

    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +5
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    |
    +14
    |Concentration 13, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 13, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 9||Monk Abilities, Touch of the Shadow Sun

    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +6/+1
    |
    +7
    |
    +7
    |
    +15
    |Concentration 15, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 15, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 10 cc|Shadow Blade|Flame of the Shadow Sun

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +7/+2
    |
    +7
    |
    +7
    |
    +15
    |Concentration 16, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 16, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 12 cc||

    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +8/+3
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    |
    +16
    |Concentration 17, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 17, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 14 cc||Light Within Darkness

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +8/+3
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    |
    +16
    |Concentration 18, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 18, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 16 cc|Psicrystal Affinity|Darkness Within Light

    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +9/+4
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    |
    +17
    |Concentration 19, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 19, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 18 cc||

    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +10/+5
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    |
    +17
    |Concentration 20, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 20, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 20 cc||Void of the Shadow Sun

    18th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +11/+6/+1
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    |
    +18
    |Tumble 1, Concentration 21, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 21, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 21 cc|Shape Soulmeld (Strongheart Vest)|Child of Shadow and Light

    19th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +11/+6/+1
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    |
    +18
    |Tumble 2, Concentration 22, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 22, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 22 cc||

    20th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +12/+7/+2
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    |
    +19
    |Tumble 3, Concentration 23, K. Religion 6, K. Psionics 6, Hide 23, Psicraft 4, Use Magic Device 23 cc||Balance of Light And Dark[/table]

    Spells per day/Spells Known
    {table=head]Level|0lvl|1st|2nd|3rd|4th|5th|6th|7th|8th|9th

    1st|3|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    2nd|4|3+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    3rd|4|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    4th|4|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    5th|4|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    6th|4|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    7th|5|4+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

    8th|5|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    9th|5|4+1|4+1|3+1|-|-|-|-|-|-

    10th|6|5+1|4+1|3+1|2+1|-|-|-|-|-

    [/table]
    Doesn't improve post 10th.

    Typical Spells Prepared
    0 – No Light, Detect Magic, Protection from Evil
    1 – True Strike (Domain), any of; Divine Favour, Ebon Eyes, Lesser Vigor, Conjure Ice Beast I, Detect Incarnum
    2 – Soulboon (Domain), Status, any of; Guidance of the Avatar, Divine Insight, Bear’s Endurance, Owl’s Wisdom
    3 – Wall of Incarnum (Domain), any of; Dispel Magic, Deeper Darkness
    4 – Freedom of Movement (Domain), Imbue with Spell Ability, either Divine Power or Restoration

    Ardent Powers Known
    Note that as an Ardent gains the ability to learn powers provided it can Manifest them at 2nd level and above, and it can manifest powers that are equal to or lower than its Manifester Level, Overchannel (which explicitly increases its Manifester Level) and Practised Manifester are included in the calculations. Overchannel is not clear on whether its level at which its bonus increases is character or manifester, but it makes no difference.
    4th Level; Chameleon, Deceleration (Manifester Level = 1+1 = 2; Power Points = 3)
    6th Level; Time Hop (Manifester Level = 2+1+4 = 7; Power Points = 9)
    7th Level; Forced Dream (Manifester Level = 3+1+4 = 8; Power Points = 15)
    8th Level; Metamorphosis (Manifester Level = 4+1+4 = 9; Power Points = 23)
    9th Level; Anticipatory Strike (Manifester Level = 5+1+4 = 10; Power Points = 32)
    10th Level; Psionic Contingency (Manifester Level = 6+1+4 = 11; Power Points = 46)

    However, note that whenever I take use Psionic Contingency, I MUST use Overchannel, and am subject to taking damage when I do so (however, Metamorphosis will heal me as if I’ve slept a night).

    Maneuvers
    5th Level; Moment of Perfect Mind, Sapphire Nightmare Blade, Counter Charge, Clinging Shadow Strike, Mountain Hammer, Wolf Fang Strike, Stance: Child of Shadow
    11th Level; Shadow Garotte
    13th Level; Shadow Stride
    15th Level; Stance: Step of the Dancing Moth
    19th Level; Death in the Dark

    Ability Scores
    Str; 10
    Dex; 16 (+2)
    Con; 12 +1 (before 18, for Shape Soulmeld)
    Int; 14
    Wis; 16 (+2, at 4 and 8)
    Cha; 8

    Level 1-5
    Spoiler
    Show
    Growing up in the rabid warrens of The Palace during The Insubordination (as it became officially known in later years) had K’lay learning quickly how to defend himself with whatever came to hand; including his own bare fists if need be. The strange eyed child had known how to keep himself hidden, but without the true skill of one brought to it. That changed on the 42nd of Shalisteen, In the Year of the Floating Panther, for it was then that the King decreed to end the threat on his capital caused by the warrens outside the Palace; leading the charge of his Mamaluk’s and Clibanarii they were stopped in their tracks by this strange young man; his eyes ablaze with the teal of the heavens, the horses would go no nearer to him; either calmed or agitated into fear, they would not advance. Ordering the strange boy captured, despite his swiftness and his strange ability over the animals, he could not escape the fit men and women of the King’s household Knights.

    Cleric is a powerful start to any build, but the issue is (especially in this competition) whether in character you’d actually drop out of the spell-progression, due to casting versatility and power in general. However, I feel that the build gets plenty power out of it (without it actually overshadowing that of the SI’s).

    Incarnum Domain is not deity specific; MoI specifically states that any character can select it, regardless of deity, provided that I have a none-True Neutral alignment; which is fixed by the SI requisite. With Spontaneous Domain casting, I’m capable of dropping a True Strike whenever it’s needed, while other numerous cleric utility spells of low level, ranging from Divine Insight/Guidance of the Avatar renders many level appropriate challenges to be trivial.

    With Darkstalker, Ebon Eyes, and No Light, with a maxed cross-class Hide with a decent Dex modifier, (along with the skill check modifying spells and powers (+10+20+8 from Chameleon, Guidance of the Avatar and Divine Insight), I am capable of staying hidden quite effectively. Money is saved earlier on with the lack of need of purchasing a weapon; my fists are a decent weapon. While it’s not excessive damage, I can contribute, and Divine Favour just helps out on that front.

    Improved Initiative from Time Domain stacks with that of the Ardent Mantle, for a total of +6 to Initiative even before including high Dexterity, while Decelerate is just helpful to controlling the battlefield and making it easier to do what I need to do. The Natural World ability isn’t optimized, however, it can allow me to possibly convince low level animal threats not to attack earlier on in the campaign.

    Swordsage just makes me even more capable on the melee front; the addition of the manoeuvres allows me to do more damage in melee; Sapphire Nightmare Blade, Elder Mountain Strike, Clinging Shadow Strike and Wolf Fang Strike gives me a decent range of attacks I can use.

    Level 6-10
    Spoiler
    Show
    Sent into the priesthood, the King oversaw his newly adopted “son” from afar. The worst of the denigration given to his fellow boys was not meted out to him, extra food was given to his cell during the night-time. When others saw hallucination in their exhausted and famished half-life, K’lay did not.

    When the schools came to select their students, only the most gifted and able of the priesthood acolytes were taken; K’lay, his training program disrupted by his adopted father’s meddling had not received the visions, and month after month, year after year, he was forgotten. The latent power the seers had discerned within the boy with heaven-teal eyes was deemed unlockable, and he was considered a lost cause.

    That was until someone, something, somenothing from the shadows, from the past, from the present, from the future, from a time that had not, did not, and never will exist came to visit him in his cell. Awakening the potential of the mind after imbibing a drink containing just a few grains of the Sands of Time, the clock was wound back. Martial studies saw the boy continually triumph over those who had crushed him effortlessly the day before. Nothing could touch him. And yet, K’lay’s hidden knowledge stayed forever hidden, inaccessible to even the most powerful of seers. For K’lay had fought them a hundred times before each fight…


    The second level of Ardent comes online now, combined with Psychic Theurge, and due to the learning mechanic in combination with Practised Manifester, I can pick up Time Hop, Forced Dream, Metamorphosis, Anticipatory Strike, and Psionic Contingency (and Overchannel). While the astute will recognise the basic powers of the Save Game trick (Spoiler: it comes online later), each on their own are powerful utility moves (Time Hopping a door, for example).

    Time Hop is possibly my favourite ability ever; it can be used as above, defensively (oo-err, you’re a bit powerful, see you in a minute boys!) or even offensively. To help with controlling the battlefield in that manner, the spell Wall of Incarnum is available, something which I can invest essentia into to increase the DC; combined with 2 essentia base and the Soul Boon spell to gain extra essentia, it is used to either force mooks away, or to cause Wisdom damage to the more dangerous foes; which then gets targeted by a Time Hop which at this level is reasonably capable of causing victory if it’s a matter of getting past the threat. Forced Dream makes that even more powerful; if I fail, I get a second run at it as I revert back time, while Anticipatory Strike allows me to gain that as an Immediate action if need be). Psionic Contingency allows me to use it with Anticipatory Strike to act in the Surprise Round, while also letting me use my Cleric spells (if you go by the RAW reading of Magic Mantle, of course, and that is iffy for some DM’s. However the build does not rely on the latter).

    4th level spells come online at 10th level; the lost BAB is made up for with the use of Divine Power. At this point, I’m still using my fists to deal some extremely heavy damage. UMD progression gets invested in as much as Concentration and Hide; this gives me the ability to skill monkey reasonably effectively. Weapon Finesse allows me to use my Dex modifier to the attack in place of strength.

    Level 11-15
    Spoiler
    Show
    ”The future is in your past, your past is your present, your present is what you did yesterday and will do in a weeks’ time.”
    “That makes no sense.”
    “Explain time.”
    “I… I cannot. It just… Is.”
    “Neither can I explain. It just is. Open yourself up to that truth. Embrace it, become it, let it become you and embrace you back. The night is an evil, but it is one we can control; I can become a Djinn of the mind’s deepest darkest recesses, a sheer figment of horror. But you – you can become that light, become that dark. The sands have their effect on us all uniquely. In you, your locked potential has awoken; what will you do with it?”


    Better late than never, I enter the SI. At this level, I get Wis to AC; while I’ll been able to make use of armour, embracing the way of the ninja lets me run around in bedsheets and lacy panties. Here is where the ranks in UMD can be helpful; while in combat, and utilising Divine Power, try to get a Wand of Heroics; using that to give myself Stunning Strike as a Bonus Feat (later on, I don’t need Divine Power). As I traded Spontaneous Cures as a Cleric, the Touch of the Shadow Sun means that I can repair that. Combined with Anticipatory Strike, this allows me to quickly heal someone in danger; use the Touch, and then when the turns ended, use Anticipatory Strike and move next to my target, healing him in a quick one-two. With the addition of the Manoeuvres, I can deal a bit more damage; Shadow Garotte can help set up the Death in the Dark later on, while Obscuring Shadow Veil deals a nice amount of damage. Step of the Dancing Moth is always going to be useful, although if I’m required to be doing more climbing, then switching it out for Dance of the Spider is the better option.

    With Shadow Blade taken as well, I gain my Dex to my Damage in addition to strength (assuming text over table). Although my Unarmed Strike is not exactly spectacular damage compared to a Greatsword wielding Barbarian, I can still contribute by virtue of my manoeuvres to deal damage. This is aided by being able to take the form of a Gloura or Spriggan with their Dex of 21 or 20 Respectively for a further little boost.

    Rgarding the Flame of the Shadow Sun, it was hard to come up with a way to optimize it, but as it’s a set resistance, and a set damage, there’s not much that can really be done. However, to trigger it, I can use Conjure Ice Beast to gain a creature from the Summon Monster or SNA list of the appropriate level to radiate a cold aura dealing 1d6 damage; this is protected against via the resistance. Although it wouldn’t be exactly time efficient to use and the damage is fairly piddling at this level (2d6 damage, at the expense of 1 round casting time, 1 swift action to activate shield, and another swift action to launch the bolt), the option to utilise it is there, especially as I’m not too capable at range. Light Within Darkness can be improved by Owl’s Wisdom if needed, and considering my fairly expansive Hide check (Chameleon, Divine Insight (now at +12) and Guidance of the Avatar, High Dex, and Skill ranks at 15 giving me a check of 64 even before rolling, metamorphosis into a Skulk for a further +15 gives me 79), I am fairly confident of pulling it off.

    Darkness Within Light triggers off that ability, and combined Darkstalker turning off their ability to pinpoint me, I can either reengage and deal damage to the blinded opponents, or I can make good my escape. With Darkstalker, however, things like the Destrachan BBEG that just so happens to be around takes damage without the need to optimize my hide over-much. As a non-monk Unarmed Fighter, the +4 is decent; my UAS is dealing d3+11 damage with Divine Power up.

    Finally at 15th level, I take the Psicrystal Affinity feat granting me the ability to use the Save Gave Trick. It is not as powerful as it could be as a Psion (but very few things at ECL 15 are more capable than a Psion 15 anyway), due to lacking Time Hop, Mass, however it is still a useable trick in Combat. If you’re looking for the Save Game Trick, the general idea is here. In short, at the start of seemingly dangerous combats (Anticipatory Strike?) share Forced Dream on the Psicrystal, then time hop it, sending it into the future; when it arrives in the time stream in a few rounds time (hopefully once the combat has finished), it uses a contingent Anticipatory Strike to check the status of the Prince. Should the prince turn up as any set number of conditions, it rolls back time to before it got time hopped (considering this is the same turn as it was Time hopped forward according to itself, it is rolled back to before then. As for personality; Initiative seems to be a trend here; +12 even prior to items.

    Level16-20
    Spoiler
    Show
    ”Let me become you, embrace me as I embrace you, Ar. Become me. The power you feel when you let me in is but a fragment. Remember what He said. Darkness and light; you cannot have light without darkness, and light is always brighter the darker the darkness is. Let me in, Prince K’lay! Fighting does no good. Drain what little is left of their life, they are not worth sacrificing your life for…”

    Darkness clouded his vision as he slowly dissolved into nothingness. He had gone too far once more; the pain and anger of seeing his friends die had subsumed him; the Dark Prince had returned to him once more. The tempting, wheedling, begging, demanding, bargaining, intimidating had continued until the prince collapsed into the exile inside his own mind as the darkness beyond void that had created the sands of time spilled forwards, inhabiting his body. As the last vestiges of his sight descended into a thin sliver of tunnel vision, he just perceived the sight of a turquoise rock pop into view. If he had been in control of his muscles, the prince would have smiled as he felt the Dark Prince inside roil in hatred and pain as the Psicrystal prepared to rescind time. K’lay would not let the Prince win the battle for his soul so easily THIS ti…

    “…for we shall take victory on this day!” finished his father, cheered by a thousand men and women, before leaping away into the charge.

    Ar K’lay smiled once more. This time, he knew where that ambush was hidden, they would not be caught unawares.


    Finishing off the SI here; the Deflection to AC from Void of the Shadow Sun is very helpful (my AC should be around 20 here; not exactly ground breakingly hard to make, but enough to scare off the mooks), while should it be made, the cold damage AoE will really begin to even up the numbers (especially those who’ve made it through the Wall of Incarnum, Time Hop, and Blindness) with actual damage. The Dazzle effect of Child of Shadow and Light is fairly worthless, but 9th level darkness is a lovely ability (especially with Ebon eyes I can see up to that range). As a swift action, I can swap into Dark and hide, and on the next turn, switch back into my Shadow Hand Stance, regaining my Dex to damage, followed by Light within Darkness and Darkness Within Light to deal damage after (alongside Maneuvres to increase damage potential).

    With the capstone comes a lovely little ability, the ability to cause Negative level damage to targets, at the expense of taking Constitution damage in one great big lump sum at the end of the mad minute. The damage speaks for itself; getting the attack bonus is easy enough; as a cleric, cast darkness, or “no light” or whatever is necessary. The hide bonus is decent whenever I’m not completely making the opposed check worthless and the healing on inflicting negative level saves on the action economy slightly, or makes it less resource intensive. However, the damage inflicted to myself can be a pain, but it is mitigated in several ways;

    1 – Metamorphosis; taking the form of a High Con creature (War Troll for 29 Con and Overchannel, Cave Troll for 27 Con).
    2- Bear’s Endurance; a further +4
    3- Strongheart Vest; with Soulboon and the Cleric’s Channelled Essentia invested alongside an Incarnum Focus, I reduce incoming damage by 5.
    4 – Not so much mitigation, but restoring the damage, I can cast Restoration as a cleric.
    6 – Con Increasing Items, up to +6.
    7 – Choosing NOT to inflict Negative Level damage
    8 – If all else still fails and I go over, I can always “oops!” and have the Psicrystal push the reset button.

    If that’s added all together, I can inflict a huge amount of negative levels; a total of 41 as a maximum; with 4 attacks a round thanks to Divine Power, and Haste, even then I’d have a maximum of 50, and there’s no guarantee I’d actually hit with them even then.

    In regards to how the Save Game Trick works (having read the above link), the DM may rule that as you’re an “inky black cloud”, you’re not actually “dead”; however it states that you’re “returned to life” hence the assuming that Status would recognise you were dead. In this event; replace this instead with “Detect Incarnum”; Azurin have the Incarnum subtype; the cloud should not ping on the Detect Incarnum (triggering the rollback if the Psicrystal cannot detect it). Should the DM rule even that, then “Detect Good/Evil” would work as well (assuming standard good party versus evil storyline).

    Items
    The build isn’t dependent on items to actually work. However there are some notable items that would improve it.
    +Stat items; Con, Wis, Dex all get the most benefit in the build, but Cha (+4 for Channel Essentia) and Strength all can get some useability.
    Manifester Ammunition; considered too cheap and broken by some, but still legal, it is one way for a Manifester to rapidly regenerate PP.
    Wands/Scrolls/Staffs; with UMD being as high as it is (22 even with Cha penalty), these are all viable options. One in particular would be very useful; Heroics. It would allow me to gain Stunning Fist which I can then use 12 times a day at 20th.
    Spiked Chain; this is more of a flavour thing; whenever the prince became the Dark Prince, he’d normally use a Spiked Chain/Daggertail in the Prince of Persia games. While it technically is more powerful in 3.5, the prince is not actually proficient in it as it stands. That wand of Heroics can be used to grant myself Exotic Weapon Proficiency.
    Incarnum Focus and Essentia Gems; makes Strongheart Vest more powerful.

    Non-build Relevant Additions
    These are not relevant to the build, but deserve (in my opinion) mentioning in regards to utility;

    Changing into Human Form; gaining an additional number of ranks to put into craft, combined with the free feat which can go to crafting (losing Darkstalker or Improved Unarmed Strike, being useless during downtime) means I can craft some helpful items to help the party. This comes online at 8th level. It also allows me to

    Limitations
    Depending on how the DM rules Overchannel qualifying to learning powers, you can trade Swordsage and the Overchannel/weapon finesse/shadow blade feats for Martial Study and Stance. Although you lose a bit of flexibility and become a bit more MAD, Metamorphosis does help with this (Cave Troll Form). Alternatively, if set increases to Manifester Level are allowed, then an Orange Ioun Stone would help with that.

    Sources; non-Core
    Magic of Incarnum; Azurin, Cleric Substitution, Shape Soulmeld, Strongheart Vest
    Complete Psionic; Ardent + Mantles, Practised Manifester, Powers
    http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/psm/20070629a; Substitute Powers
    Tome of Battle; Swordsage, Maneuvres, Shadow Sun Ninja
    Expanded Psionic Handbook; Overchannel, Powers, Psicrystal Affinity
    Magic of Eberron; Forced Dream
    http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/psm/20040925b; Psychic Theurge
    Frostburn; Conjure Ice Beast I

  23. - Top - End - #293
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Two sides of the same coin indeed
    Quote Originally Posted by Solas and Luna
    Solas And Luna

    Dvati Barbarian 2/Fighter 2/Fist of the Forest 3/Shadow Sun Ninja 10/Frostrager 2

    Base Stats: 16 Str, 16 Dex, 16 Con, 10 Int, 8 Wis, 8 Cha
    Final Stats: 18 Str, 18 Dex, 19 Con, 10 Int, 8 Wis, 8 Cha

    Story
    Spoiler
    Show
    Solas and Luna began as assassins. They were trained to be productive members of society, but it turns out society doesn't like the Dvati so much, so they slowly grew isolated from the rest of the world. This lead to dark times, when they would fight for anyone and kill anything. Eventually though their notoriety caught up to them, and they were driven out of the world at large, even the criminal sector. After this they were found by a small family of nomadic druids who took them in and taught them to live off the land.

    This changed their whole outlook on life, and they grew to embrace the society that had cast them off. They moved to a new city and a new country and they learned from an old sensei. He taught them the ways of the shadow sun, a balance between good and evil. Though they learned this in different ways they were able to work together to assist in fighting the good fight, against the forces of darkness, though they used its power on occasion.


    The nitty Gritty
    Spoiler
    Show

    {table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

    1st|Spritual Fox Totem Ferocity Barbarian|
    +1
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |Handle Animal 4 ranks, Survival 4 ranks, Hide 4 ranks, Move Silently 2 ½ ranks, Intimidate 2 ranks|Martial Study (Shadow Blade Technique)|Spiritual Fox (+4 Hide/Move Silently), illiteracy, ferocity 1/day

    2nd|Barbarian 2|
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |Hide 1 rank, Handle Animal 1 Rank, Survival 1 rank, Intimidate 1 rank|-|Uncanny Dodge

    3rd|Fighter 1|
    +3
    |
    +5
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |Hide 1 rank, Intimidate 1 rank|Improved Unarmed Strike (Fighter bonus), Great Fortitude|-

    4th|Fighter 2|
    +4
    |
    +6
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |Hide 1 rank, Intimidate 1 rank|Power Attack (Fighter Bonus)|-

    5th|Fist of the Forest 1|
    +5
    |
    +8
    |
    +2
    |
    +0
    |Hide 1 rank, Move Silently 1 rank |-|AC bonus, Fast Movement, Feral Trance 1/day, Primal Living

    6th|Fist of the Forest 2|
    +6/+1
    |
    +9
    |
    +3
    |
    +0
    |Hide 1 rank, Move Silently 1 rank|Martial Study (Clever Positioning)|Improved Uncanny Dodge, untamed strike

    7th|Fist of the Forest 3|
    +7/+2
    |
    +9
    |
    +3
    |
    +1
    |Hide 1 rank, Move Silently 1 rank|-|Feral Trance 2/day, scent

    8th|Shadow Sun Ninja 1|
    +7/+2
    |
    +11
    |
    +5
    |
    +3
    |Hide 1 rank, Move Silently 3 ranks|-|Monk Abilities, Touch of the Shadow Sun, Maneuver Known (Shadow Jaunt)

    9th|Shadow Sun Ninja 2|
    +8/+3
    |
    +12
    |
    +6
    |
    +4
    |Hide 1 rank, Move Silently 1 rank, Tumble 2 ranks|Snap Kick|Flame of the Shadow Sun

    10th|Shadow Sun Ninja 3|
    +9/+3
    |
    +12
    |
    +6
    |
    +4
    |Hide 1 rank, Move Silently 1 rank, Tumble 2 ranks|-|Maneuver Known (Strength Draining Strike)

    11th|Shadow Sun Ninja 4|
    +10/+5
    |
    +13
    |
    +7
    |
    +5
    |Hide 1 rank, Move Silently 1 rank, Tumble 2 ranks|-|Light Within Darkness

    12th|Shadow Sun Ninja 5|
    +10/+5
    |
    +13
    |
    +7
    |
    +5
    |Hide 1 rank, Move Silently 1 rank, Tumble 2 ranks|Darkstalker|Darkness Within Light, Maneuver Readied, Stance Known (Assassin's Stance)

    13th|Shadow Sun Ninja 6|
    +11/+6/+1
    |
    +14
    |
    +8
    |
    +6
    |Hide 1 rank, Move Silently 1 rank, Tumble 2 ranks|-|Maneuver Known (Obscuring Shadow Veil)

    14th|Shadow Sun Ninja 7|
    +12/+7/+2
    |
    +14
    |
    +8
    |
    +6
    |Hide 1 rank, Move Silently 1 rank, Tumble 2 ranks|-|Void of the Shadow Sun

    15th|Shadow Sun Ninja 8|
    +13/+8/+3
    |
    +15
    |
    +9
    |
    +7
    |Hide 1 rank, Move Silently 1 rank, Tumble 2 ranks|Frozen Berserker|Child of Shadow and Light

    16th|Shadow Sun Ninja 9|
    +13/+8/+3
    |
    +15
    |
    +9
    |
    +7
    |Hide 1 rank, Move Silently 1 rank, Tumble 2 ranks|-|Maneuver Known (Stalker in the Night)

    17th|Shadow Sun Ninja 10|
    +14/+9/+4
    |
    +16
    |
    +10
    |
    +8
    |Hide 2 rank, Move Silently 1 rank, Tumble 2 ranks|-|Balance of Light and Dark, Maneuver Readied

    18th|Frostrager 1|
    +15/+10/+5
    |
    +18
    |
    +10
    |
    +8
    |Hide 1 rank, Intimidate 1 rank|Extra Rage|Frostrage, Freezing blood

    19th|Frostrager 2|
    +16/+11/+6/+1
    |
    +19
    |
    +10
    |
    +8
    |Hide 1 rank, Intimidate 1 rank|-|One-Two Punch
    [/table]


    Levels and Such

    ECL Five
    Spoiler
    Show
    At this point we are a fairly normal unarmed fighter, dealing decent damage and taking decent punishment. Wearing something like chain and using no weapon it's not the greatest, but serves as a good start. We have quite decent stealth skills as well so can easily do scouting missions, even two at once given the unique race.


    ECL 10

    Spoiler
    Show
    Here is where it really gets started. We have a decent amount of maneuvers, and we know how to use them. At this point the hide skill should be assisted by magic items so should be enough to sneak away to just about any location and kill/incapacitate opponents, especially with flanking.


    ECL 15 (The Sweet Spot)
    Spoiler
    Show
    This is the sweet spot, we have pretty much all the Shadow Sun Ninja stuff now, and maneuvers enough to teleport. Admittedly it would be nice to have more than one maneuver, but beggars can't be choosers. In melee combat the twins are extremely intimidating and their scouting capability is as good as any rogue. They will prove to be a great member of any team.


    ECL 20

    Spoiler
    Show
    Now we're on ice. This adds more attacks, more damage, and allows for a greater alpha strike. If use all three rages at once there will be a dead just about anything. We can do this three times per day because of extra rage, giving us decent longevity.


    Use of SI
    Spoiler
    Show
    Because they are Dvati, Solas and Luna can use both sides of the Shadow Sun's powers in one turn, giving them added utility. All maneuver based classes work well with them, as they can both full attack and use a maneuver in a turn, or can use two maneuvers. Because they are two unique individuals they can also heal and hurt on different sides of the battlefield, making for more unique combats. Finally the pair are even more adept at scouting because even if one is discovered the other can come up from behind.

  24. - Top - End - #294
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Let's hope that the Joker doesn't get this one...
    Quote Originally Posted by Kee Hap
    Kee Hap of the Komori Ninja, F LG Anthropomorphic Bat

    Swordsage 3 / Monk 2 / Shadow Sun Ninja 10 / Master of Nine 5


    On the history of Kee Hap
    Spoiler
    Show

    {table=head] Level | Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills| Feats|Class Features
    1st | Swordsage 1 |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    | Balance 4 , Climb 4 , Hide 4 , Listen 4 , Move Silently 4 , Sense Motive 4 , Tumble 4 , Swim 4 | Flyby Attack | Quick to Act +1, Discipline Focus (Setting Sun)
    2nd | Monk 1 (Hand and Fist) |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |
    +4
    |
    +4
    | Balance 5 , Hide 5 , Listen 5 , Move Silently 5 , Sense Motive 5 , Tumble 5 | *Improved Unarmed Strike, * Stunning Fist | Flurry of Blows, Unarmed Strike
    3rd | Monk 2 (Sleeping Tiger Style) |
    +1
    |
    +3
    |
    +5
    |
    +5
    | Balance 6 , Hide 6 , Listen 6 , Move Silently 6 , Sense Motive 6 , Tumble 6 | *Improved Initiative, Intuitive Attack | Evasion
    4th | Swordsage 2 |
    +2
    |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    | Balance 7 , Hide 7 , Listen 7 , Move Silently 7 , Sense Motive 7 , Tumble 7 , Twisted Charge (Skill Trick) | | AC Bonus
    5th | Swordsage 3 |
    +3
    |
    +4
    |
    +6
    |
    +6
    | Balance 8 , Hide 8 , Listen 8 , Move Silently 8 , Sense Motive 8 , Tumble 8 , Nimble Stand (Skill Trick) | | -
    6th | Shadow Sun Ninja 1 |
    +3
    |
    +6
    |
    +8
    |
    +8
    | Balance 9 , Hide 9 , Listen 9 , Move Silently 9 , Sense Motive 9 , Tumble 9 | Desert Wind Dodge | Monk Abilities, Touch of the Shadow
    7th | Shadow Sun Ninja 2 |
    +4
    |
    +7
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    | Balance 10 , Hide 10 , Listen 10 , Move Silently 10 , Sense Motive 10 , Tumble 10 | | Flame of the Shadow Sun
    8th | Shadow Sun Ninja 3 |
    +5
    |
    +7
    |
    +9
    |
    +9
    | Balance 11 , Hide 11 , Listen 11 , Move Silently 11 , Sense Motive 11 , Tumble 11 | | -
    9th | Shadow Sun Ninja 4 |
    +6/+1
    |
    +8
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    | Balance 12 , Hide 12 , Listen 12 , Move Silently 12 , Sense Motive 12 , Tumble 12 | Adaptive Style | Light within darkness
    10th | Shadow Sun Ninja 5 |
    +6/+1
    |
    +8
    |
    +10
    |
    +10
    | Balance 13 , Hide 13 , Listen 13 , Move Silently 13 , Sense Motive 13 , Tumble 13 | | Darkness within light
    11th | Shadow Sun Ninja 6 |
    +7/+2
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    | Balance 14 , Hide 14 , Listen 14 , Move Silently 14 , Sense Motive 14 , Tumble 14 | | -
    12th | Shadow Sun Ninja 7 |
    +8/+3
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +11
    | Balance 15 , Hide 15 , Listen 15 , Move Silently 15 , Sense Motive 15 , Tumble 15 | Blind Fight | Void of the Shadow Sun
    13th | Master of Nine 1 |
    +8/+3
    |
    +9
    |
    +11
    |
    +13
    | Balance 16 , Hide 16 , Listen 16 , Move Silently 16 , Sense Motive 16 , Tumble 16 | | -
    14th | Shadow Sun Ninja 8 |
    +9/+4
    |
    +10
    |
    +12
    |
    +14
    | Balance 17 , Hide 17 , Listen 17 , Move Silently 17 , Sense Motive 17 , Tumble 17 | | Child of shadow and light
    15th | Shadow Sun Ninja 9 |
    +9/+4
    |
    +10
    |
    +12
    |
    +14
    | Balance 18 , Hide 18 , Listen 18 , Move Silently 18 , Sense Motive 18 , Tumble 18 | Darkstalker | -
    16th | Shadow Sun Ninja 10 |
    +10/+5
    |
    +11
    |
    +13
    |
    +15
    | Balance 19 , Hide 19 , Listen 19 , Move Silently 19 , Sense Motive 19 , Tumble 19 | | Balance of light and dark
    17th | Master of Nine 2 |
    +11/+6/+1
    |
    +11
    |
    +13
    |
    +16
    | Balance 20 , Hide 20 , Listen 20 , Move Silently 20 , Sense Motive 20 , Tumble 20 | | Dual stance
    18th | Master of Nine 3 |
    +12/+7/+2
    |
    +12
    |
    +14
    |
    +16
    | Balance 21 , Hide 21 , Listen 21 , Move Silently 21 , Sense Motive 21 , Tumble 21 | Improved Flight | Perfect form
    19th | Master of Nine 4 |
    +13/+8/+3
    |
    +12
    |
    +14
    |
    +17
    | Balance 22 , Hide 22 , Listen 22 , Move Silently 22 , Sense Motive 22 , Tumble 22 | | Counter stance
    20th | Master of Nine 5 |
    +13/+8/+3
    |
    +12
    |
    +14
    |
    +17
    | Balance 23 , Hide 23 , Listen 23 , Move Silently 23 , Sense Motive 23 , Tumble 23 | | Mastery of nine [/table]


    On the capabilities of this one
    Spoiler
    Show

    Maneuvers and Monk Abilities

    {table=head] Level |Maneuvers Known|Maneuvers Readied|Stances Known|Maneuvers/Stances Known |Flurry of Blows |Unarmed Damage |AC Bonus |Unarmored Speed Bonus
    1st | 6 | 4 | 1 | Blistering Flourish (DW), Mighty Throw (SS), Counter Charge (SS), Clinging Shadow Strike (SH), Charging Minotaur (SD), Wolf Fang Strike (TC), Island of Blades (SH) | N/A | N/A | N/A | N/A
    2nd | 6 | 4 | 1 | | -2/-2 | 1d6 | 0 | +0 ft
    3rd | 6 | 4 | 1 | | -1/-1 | 1d6 | 0 | +0 ft
    4th | 7 | 4 | 2 | Emerald Razor Strike (DM), Child of Shadows (SH) | 0/0 | 1d6 | 0 | +0 ft
    5th | 8 | 5 | 2 | Cloak of Deception (SH) | +1/+1 | 1d6 | 0 | +0 ft
    6th | 9 | 5 | 2 | Strength Draining Strike (SH) | +2/+2 | 1d6 | 0 | +10 ft
    7th | 9 | 5 | 2 | | +3/+3 | 1d8 | 0 | +10 ft
    8th | 10 | 5 | 2 | Strike of the Broken Shield (SS) | +4/+4 | 1d8 | +1 | +10 ft
    9th | 10 | 5 | 2 | | +5/+5/+0 | 1d8 | +1 | +20 ft
    10th | 10 | 6 | 3 | Assassin's Stance (SH) | +5/+5/+0 | 1d8 | +1 | +20 ft
    11th | 11 | 6 | 3 | Hand of Death (SH) | +6/+6/+1 | 1d10 | +1 | +20 ft
    12th | 11 | 6 | 3 | | +8/+8/+3 | 1d10 | +1 | +30 ft
    13th | 13 | 7 | 3 | Scorpion Parry (SS), Shadow Noose (SH) | +8/+8/+3 | 1d10 | +1 | +30 ft
    14th | 13 | 7 | 3 | | +9/+9/+4 | 1d10 | +2 | +30 ft
    15th | 14 | 7 | 3 | Shadow Blink (SH) | +9/+9/+9/+4 | 1d10 | +2 | +30 ft
    16th | 14 | 8 | 3 | | +10/+10/+10/+5 | 2d6 | +2 | +40 ft
    17th | 15 | 9 | 4 | Enervating Shadow Strike (SH), Ghostly Defense (SH) | +11/+11/+11/+6/+1 | 2d6 | +2 | +40 ft
    18th | 17 | 10 | 4 | Five-Shadow Creeping whatever (SH), Fools Strike (SS) | +12/+12/+12/+7/+2 | 2d6 | +2 | +40 ft
    19th | 18 | 11 | 5 | One with Shadow (SH), Shifting Defense (SS) | +13/+13/+13/+8/+3 | 2d6 | +2 | +40 ft
    20th | 20 | 12 | 5 | Death in the Dark (SH), Hydra Slaying Strike (SS) | +13/+13/+13/+8/+3 | 2d6 | +2 | +40 ft [/TABLE]


    On the characteristics of Kee
    Spoiler
    Show

    Small Monstrous Humanoid
    HD: 20
    HP: 20d8 + 40
    Init: +6
    Speed - Land: 45 ft, Flying: 60 ft (Good)

    Starting Stats: Str 14, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 8
    After Race: Str 10, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 21, Cha 8
    Levels: All go to Wis
    Final (without items) Str 10, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 26, Cha 8


    The story of Keey Hap
    Spoiler
    Show

    While raised in the Komori Clan, Kee Hap rebelled against the hireling nature of the ninja, and struck out on her own. She retained the culture and upbringing, taking levels in swordsage and monk in order to enhance her natural strike capabilities, centered around flight. While in general she cannot strike each round due to her usual mode of movement (flying), when she strikes she uses her maneuvers to the full capability before moving out of range thanks to fly-by attack. Her high wisdom score contributes to the save DCs of many of her powers, including Stunning Fist and her Shadow Hand Maneuvers, as well as her attack bonus due to Intuitive Attack (adds wisdom modifier to Attack Bonus!). A Couple of skill tricks provide some utility that lasts throughout her career.

    Kee Hap continues to grow in power, embracing the path of the Shadow Sun Ninja as opposed to her clan ninja style. While her maneuver progression slows (although she still picks up suitable maneuvers), her monk abilities, in particular her unarmored speed bonus as well as her unarmed strike damage, continue to grow at a regular rate. She is more able to take advantage of her surprised foes due to assassin's stance.

    Kee Hap later starts adopting the full capabilities of the Master of Nine class, providing a significant boost to her maneuvers. Her monk capabilities continue to grow until she is significantly faster than her peers from the ninja clan. She decides to embrace the night, adopting both the darkstalker feat (to boost her stealth capabilities) as well as the blind fight feat, to enhance her ability to fight while suppressing her own senses.

    Kee reaches the pinnacle of her powers, taking improved flight to enhance her maneuverability while flying (her natural mode of movement) as well as being able to take the highest level Shadow Hand and Setting Sun maneuvers and stances. She is able to provide a significant flurry when she is forced to fight, but otherwise utilizes carefully selected strikes while staying out of reach in order to remain relevant.


    On the optional components
    Spoiler
    Show

    Important Magic Items might include:
    Necklace of Natural Attacks (enchanted as desired)
    Clothing enchanted as magic armor (again, as desired, courtesy of MIC)
    Items to enhance Wis, Con, Str, Dex (in that order)
    Other utility items


    Sources:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Tome of Battle: Shadow Sun Ninja, Master of Nine, Adaptive Style, Desert Wind Dodge,
    Book of Exalted Deeds: Intuitive Attack
    Races of the Wild: Improved Flight
    Complete Scoundrel: Nimble Stand, Twisted Charge
    Image: A Kumori (Bat) Ninja from Usagi Yojimbo Comic Book Series

  25. - Top - End - #295
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    And NOW that's everybody. Sorry about the... misunderstanding.

  26. - Top - End - #296
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Bellona

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    So, here was my abandoned entry:

    Feral Orc Unarmed Swordsage 4/Crusader 5/Shadow Sun Ninja 10

    1. Swordsage1- Improved Unarmed Strike
    2. Crusader1-
    3. Crusader2- Darkstalker
    4. Swordsage2-
    5. Swordsage3-
    6. Shadow Sun Ninja1- Heedless Charge
    7. Shadow Sun Ninja2-
    8. Shadow Sun Ninja3-
    9. Shadow Sun Ninja4- Snap Kick
    10. Shadow Sun Ninja5-
    11. Shadow Sun Ninja6-
    12. Shadow Sun Ninja7- Adaptive Style
    13. Shadow Sun Ninja8-
    14. Shadow Sun Ninja9-
    15. Shadow Sun Ninja10- Shape Soulmeld (Strongheart Vest)
    16. Crusader3-
    17. Crusader4-
    18. Swordsage4- Bonus Essentia
    19. Crusader5-

    Basically, was a fun little unarmed ubercharger without needing any Power Attack, Shock Trooper, or other similar abilities. +16 BAB, Snap Kick and secondary attacks meant six attacks before items, so hiding and charging from hiding meant, even without a single item, an average of over 300 points of damage (+17 from Leading the Charge, +8 Strength before items = +25, doubled via Heedless Charge to 50 points of bonus damage per attack). With items, he was into quadruple digits without even touching Power Attack. Add in War Master's Charge and I could hit quadruples even without items.

    Fast Healing + Touch of the Shadow Sun meant infinite out of combat healing for all my allies, since I could damage myself, heal it off, and then use the Touch of Sun to heal an ally. Strongheart Vest kept me from turning into a vamp by reducing my Constitution damage by three after Balance of Light and Dark. Various stealth abilities plus maneuvers and Darkstalker worked as you'd imagine. And then there was the fact that I had an IL of 17 for Crusader and 16 for Swordsage, meaning War Master's Charge (absolutely ridiculous when combined with Heedless Charge) and Raging Mongoose.

    I still like the build - clean, simple, and surprisingly effective despite the lack of usual ubercharging staples. My main reason for not being particularly excited about it was because - eh, feral. I'd never allow the template in a game, at least not as a +1 LA template. I tried a few versions without feral, using Sphinx Claws bound to the hands chakra to get pounce instead. Problem is, without fast healing I needed Tomb-Tainted Soul or similar to get infinite healing, and I was having a heck of a time getting Tomb-Tainted Soul, Sphinx Claws, the Hands chakra, +16 BAB and 9th-level maneuvers all on one build. The only versions that succeeded were so dip-tastic that I would have gotten slammed in elegance even more than just straight up taking feral would have done.
    Optimization Showcase in the Playground

    Former projects:
    Shadowcaster Handbook
    Archer Build Compendium

    Iron Chef Awards!
    Spoiler
    Show

    GOLD
    IC LXXVI: Talos
    IC LXXV: Alphonse Louise Constant
    IC XLIX: Babalon, Queen of Bones
    IC XLV: Dead Mists
    IC XL: Lycus Blackbeak
    IC XXXIX: AM-1468
    IC XXXV: Parsifal the Fool
    IC XXX: Jal Filius

  27. - Top - End - #297
    Banned
     
    Devil

    Join Date
    Nov 2012

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Seems that Ar K'lay is missing his Level break down?

    No problem whatsoever Kuul! Travel's hard especially when committed to something like this as well, really appreciate the effort that's gone in, Cheers!
    Last edited by Vaz; 2013-08-25 at 07:32 PM.

  28. - Top - End - #298
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    mattie_p's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    <<Undetected>>
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    My failed idea was a warforged shadow sun ninja that had a deliberately low CON score, in order to become a warforged vampire. This is, I believe, the only legal way for warforged to take that template. I was trying to find a vampire robot from Futurama to draw inspiration from, but couldn't (nor could my wife - a huge Futurama fan) come up with one. Thus that one was left on the drawing board.
    Blank 3.5 Character Creator Iron Chef Style Tables (in Google Sheets)

    Chairman Emeritus of Zinc Saucier.

    Avatar by Derjuin, sing her praises to Elysium.

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    So now you're claiming that spellcasting "lacks a clear, supernatural element?" Being supernatural is literally the only point of magic.

  29. - Top - End - #299
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaz View Post
    Seems that Ar K'lay is missing his Level break down?

    No problem whatsoever Kuul! Travel's hard especially when committed to something like this as well, really appreciate the effort that's gone in, Cheers!
    Looks like a couple of builds had the level table truncated or otherwise not included, from a quick once-over.
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV. Play as me!


    Spoiler
    Show

  30. - Top - End - #300
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground XLVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by Amphetryon View Post
    Looks like a couple of builds had the level table truncated or otherwise not included, from a quick once-over.
    I missed Ar K'Lay's table (build sent in 2 PMs) and Big Sun did not send me one.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •