A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #91
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Black Blood Hunter (Would be made more interesting if the LA of Lycanthrope was ignored for that round only)
    Bloodhound
    Swiftblade
    Remember: Offence is taken, not given



    Play-by-Post Characters:

    Sir Balduin of Buckwood (OOC | IC)
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  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Elocater
    Ghost-faced Killer
    Hellreaver
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    Charisma, it makes the difference between "Oh hey, it's this guy!" And "oh hey it's this guy."
    My True Neutral Handbook, a resource for creating and playing TN characters.

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  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Bloodhound
    Ghost-Faced Killer
    Gray Guard
    Contest Medals
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    Ayesha: Gold, Junkyard Wars I
    The Last Warder: Silver, Junkyard Wars IV
    Princess Pufflebutt: Silver, Junkyard Wars VII
    Gren Beastclaws: Silver, Junkyard Wars VIII
    Mother Halfbreed: Silver, Iron Chef Home Cooking I

    Vathoa Frostspeaker Kualavoaka: Gold, Junkyard Wars IX
    Sanna Blackfish: Bronze, Villainous Competition II
    Annabelle: Gold, Villainous Competition IV
    Nulara of the Evil Eye: Gold, Villainous Competition IX

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Venger's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Winterhaunt of Ibhorigu, bloodhound, and thief of life
    I've got a new fantasy TTRPG about running your own fencing school in a 3 musketeers pastiche setting. Book coming soon.

    Check out my new sci-fi TTRPG about first contact. Cool alien races, murderous AIs, and more. New book coming soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by weckar View Post
    Venger, can you be my full-time memory aid please?
    Iron Chef Medals!
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  5. - Top - End - #95
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    The Viscount's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    I'm going Thief of Life, Elocator, and Winterhaunt

    As for why winterhaunt is so popular, I think it's partially because many class features have little use, and partially a desire to do something with the capstone.
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    Only playing Tier 1s is like only eating in five-star restaurants [...] sometimes I just want a cheeseburger and some frogurt. Why limit yourself?
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  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Venger's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by The Viscount View Post
    I'm going Thief of Life, Elocator, and Winterhaunt

    As for why winterhaunt is so popular, I think it's partially because many class features have little use, and partially a desire to do something with the capstone.
    yeah, it's very difficult to gain elemental as a type, and that's just too good to turn down.
    I've got a new fantasy TTRPG about running your own fencing school in a 3 musketeers pastiche setting. Book coming soon.

    Check out my new sci-fi TTRPG about first contact. Cool alien races, murderous AIs, and more. New book coming soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by weckar View Post
    Venger, can you be my full-time memory aid please?
    Iron Chef Medals!
    Amazing Princess Mononoke avatar by Dispozition

  7. - Top - End - #97
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    I've looked over the list, and I can't find anything that piques my interest more than my nominations:
    Bloodhound
    Court Herald
    Justiciar of Taiia
    I think Court Herald, a 12-level PrC, might be an interesting change of pace.

  8. - Top - End - #98
    Orc in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    My votes are for Grey Guard, Avenging Executioner, Swiftblade.

    If no self-voting, then Watch Detective.

  9. - Top - End - #99
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    ugh... Procrastination ... only lacked setting up skills and figuring out a proper background story, even back immediately after announcement of the dish, but it have been laid untouched for near-on 10 days now, and i havn't gotten any further
    Last edited by Sian; 2015-11-28 at 04:59 AM.

  10. - Top - End - #100
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Finally done my entry. I remembered how much I hate that build table. How's everyone else doing?
    Spoiler: Build Competitions/Medals
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    LX: Bronze. Krad, the Mad Strangler.
    LXII: Nebbercracker
    LXIII: LOCKDOWN Unit 4456: Honorable Mention
    LXIV: Gold. Xel'Dek, Scourge of the Underdark
    LXVI: Bronze. Sergeant Hammer
    Junkyard Wars X: Bronze. Master Lee

  11. - Top - End - #101
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    Jormengand's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
    I've looked over the list, and I can't find anything that piques my interest more than my nominations:
    If we can really do this, I guess I'll restate Bereft, Disciple of the Word and Arcane Archer.

  12. - Top - End - #102
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadasadoor View Post
    Finally done my entry. I remembered how much I hate that build table. How's everyone else doing?
    remembered that i hadn't done any snapshots either so I've done that and Skills ... only need Background story and thats consistently what i have the most problems with.

  13. - Top - End - #103
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Arachnomancer, Arcane Archer, Elocator
    The gnomes once had many mines, but now they have gnome ore.

  14. - Top - End - #104
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    Darrin's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Beast Heart Adept, Arcane Archer, and Oozemaster.

  15. - Top - End - #105
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    Venger's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    The hour approaches. Can't wait to see what everyone did. Arcane archer seems to be popular. I feel I'm missing something. What is its appeal as an SI?
    I've got a new fantasy TTRPG about running your own fencing school in a 3 musketeers pastiche setting. Book coming soon.

    Check out my new sci-fi TTRPG about first contact. Cool alien races, murderous AIs, and more. New book coming soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by weckar View Post
    Venger, can you be my full-time memory aid please?
    Iron Chef Medals!
    Amazing Princess Mononoke avatar by Dispozition

  16. - Top - End - #106
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    The hour approaches. Can't wait to see what everyone did. Arcane archer seems to be popular. I feel I'm missing something. What is its appeal as an SI?
    I have to say, i don't see the appeal in Arcane Archer either, its abilities are 1/day, or demand you being a (arcane) caster, with no +existing caster levels, even its capstone is a somewhat weak 1/day (effectively) Attack+DC20 Fort or die ... anyone with half a mind on the level where its available (since youre at least level 16 at this point) has enough boosts to saves that a DC20 is quite simple to beat, probably even to the degree that only a 1 would fail (which certain abilities can make sure doesn't fail or get rerolled anyways)

    If Arcane Archer was a half-caster, and was a bit more scaling in its DCs, even if it caused it to only have medium BAB, i could see the intriguing parts of it ... but as it is, no.
    Last edited by Sian; 2015-11-29 at 05:52 AM.

  17. - Top - End - #107
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Venger's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Sian View Post
    I have to say, i don't see the appeal in Arcane Archer either, its abilities are 1/day, or demand you being a (arcane) caster, with no +existing caster levels, even its capstone is a somewhat weak 1/day (effectively) Attack+DC20 Fort or die ... anyone with half a mind on the level where its available (since youre at least level 16 at this point) has enough boosts to saves that a DC20 is quite simple to beat, probably even to the degree that only a 1 would fail (which certain abilities can make sure doesn't fail or get rerolled anyways)
    yeah, 1/day is one thing I don't miss about 3.0 design philosophy. since your arrow of death takes a whole day to make, you can actually use it once every other day. you can't even share with the other members of AA, since it'll only work for you.
    I've got a new fantasy TTRPG about running your own fencing school in a 3 musketeers pastiche setting. Book coming soon.

    Check out my new sci-fi TTRPG about first contact. Cool alien races, murderous AIs, and more. New book coming soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by weckar View Post
    Venger, can you be my full-time memory aid please?
    Iron Chef Medals!
    Amazing Princess Mononoke avatar by Dispozition

  18. - Top - End - #108
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    Heliomance's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Apologies all, I've not been in the forums much all weekend. Reveal will be tomorrow, as I'm going to bed now.

    ... I have 15 unread PMs. This is going to be fun.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalirren View Post
    The only person in the past two pages who has known what (s)he has been talking about is Heliomance.
    Quote Originally Posted by golentan View Post
    I just don't want to have long romantic conversations or any sort of drama with my computer, okay? It knows what kind of porn I watch. I don't want to mess that up by allowing it to judge any of my choices in romance.

    Avatar by Rain Dragon

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  19. - Top - End - #109
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Venger's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Heliomance View Post
    Apologies all, I've not been in the forums much all weekend. Reveal will be tomorrow, as I'm going to bed now.

    ... I have 15 unread PMs. This is going to be fun.
    Thanks for the update. can't wait.
    I've got a new fantasy TTRPG about running your own fencing school in a 3 musketeers pastiche setting. Book coming soon.

    Check out my new sci-fi TTRPG about first contact. Cool alien races, murderous AIs, and more. New book coming soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by weckar View Post
    Venger, can you be my full-time memory aid please?
    Iron Chef Medals!
    Amazing Princess Mononoke avatar by Dispozition

  20. - Top - End - #110
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    15+ entries? Now I'm almost glad I couldn't get my act together enough to cobble together an entry. The chances of standing out in that crowd are pretty slim. (Plus, I imagine the judges are going to be happy to have fewer entries to plow through.)
    In the Beginning Was the Word, and the Word Was Suck: A Guide to Truenamers

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    Gentlefolk, learn from Zaq's example, and his suffering. Remember, seven out of eleven players who use truenamer lose their ability to taste ice cream.
    Come join the Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground E6 Appetizer Edition! We're currently judging for round 39. Everyone is welcome!

    My compiled Iron Chef stuff!

    ~ Gay all day, queer all year ~

  21. - Top - End - #111
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    Venger's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    15+ entries? Now I'm almost glad I couldn't get my act together enough to cobble together an entry. The chances of standing out in that crowd are pretty slim. (Plus, I imagine the judges are going to be happy to have fewer entries to plow through.)
    it's probably less, taking into account long entries, corrections, and such
    I've got a new fantasy TTRPG about running your own fencing school in a 3 musketeers pastiche setting. Book coming soon.

    Check out my new sci-fi TTRPG about first contact. Cool alien races, murderous AIs, and more. New book coming soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by weckar View Post
    Venger, can you be my full-time memory aid please?
    Iron Chef Medals!
    Amazing Princess Mononoke avatar by Dispozition

  22. - Top - End - #112
    Orc in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    My anticipation is building.

    (And yeah, there's probably less than 15 entries: I know mine ended up split across a bunch of PMs.)

  23. - Top - End - #113
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PirateWench

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Unfortunately due to my laptop being stolen, and some other facrors, I was not able to get my write up done. If it wasn't used I'll let you know what I was planning for this round.
    Iron Chef in the Playground LXVI - Honorable Mention : Azalin Stonecutter

    Iron Chef Home Cooking in the Playground II - Second Place : Takenaka Kenshin

  24. - Top - End - #114
    Orc in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by KrimsonNekros View Post
    Unfortunately due to my laptop being stolen, and some other facrors, I was not able to get my write up done. If it wasn't used I'll let you know what I was planning for this round.
    I'm sorry to hear that.

    (Also, curse the no-speculation rule!)

  25. - Top - End - #115
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by KrimsonNekros View Post
    Unfortunately due to my laptop being stolen, and some other facrors, I was not able to get my write up done. If it wasn't used I'll let you know what I was planning for this round.
    Hope they track it down. love to see what your ideas were if they aren't in one of our tasty thanksgiving dishes.
    I've got a new fantasy TTRPG about running your own fencing school in a 3 musketeers pastiche setting. Book coming soon.

    Check out my new sci-fi TTRPG about first contact. Cool alien races, murderous AIs, and more. New book coming soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by weckar View Post
    Venger, can you be my full-time memory aid please?
    Iron Chef Medals!
    Amazing Princess Mononoke avatar by Dispozition

  26. - Top - End - #116
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    Heliomance's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Damn, I left this late. I'm afraid there won't be any snappy comments on the entries this time, I don't have time to come up with them! Entries follow.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalirren View Post
    The only person in the past two pages who has known what (s)he has been talking about is Heliomance.
    Quote Originally Posted by golentan View Post
    I just don't want to have long romantic conversations or any sort of drama with my computer, okay? It knows what kind of porn I watch. I don't want to mess that up by allowing it to judge any of my choices in romance.

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    Wish building characters for D&D 3.5 was simpler? Try HeroForge Anew! An Excel-based, highly automated character builder. v7.4 now out!

  27. - Top - End - #117
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Entry number 1:
    Quote Originally Posted by Mourne Elisviir
    Mourne Elisviir
    NE Lesser Drow Ranger 2/Wilderness Rogue 3/Assassin 10/Crinti Shadow Marauder 5



    Ability Scores
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    Ability Scores: Str 16, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 10
    Increase: Int at 4 and 8; Str at 12, 16, and 20.

    Build Table
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    Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
    1st Ranger +1 +2 +2 +0 Handle Animal 4, Hide 4, Listen 4, Knowledge (Arcana) 2, Move Silently 4, Ride 4, Search 4, Spot 4, Survival 4 Darkstalker, Track (B) Favored Enemy (Humans), Wild Empathy
    2nd Ranger +2 +3 +3 +0 Handle Animal 5, Hide 5, Listen 5, Knowledge (Arcana) 2.5, Move Silently 5, Ride 5, Search 5, Spot 5, Survival 5 Two-Weapon Fighting (B)
    3rd Wilderness Rogue +2 +3 +5 +0 Disguise 2, Hide 6, Intimidate 1, Knowledge (Arcana) 3, Listen 6, Move Silently 6, Ride 6, Spot 6, Use Magic Device 2 Mounted Combat Sneak Attack +1d6, Trapfinding
    4th Wilderness Rogue +3 +3 +6 +0 Disguise 3, Hide 7, Intimidate 2, Knowlege (Arcana) 3.5, Listen 7, Move Silently 7, Ride 7, Search 6, Spot 7, Use Magic Device 4 Evasion
    5th Wilderness Rogue +4 +4 +6 +1 Disguise 4, Hide 8, Intimidate 3, Knowledge (Arcana) 4, Listen 8, Move Silently 8, Ride 8, Search 8, Spot 8, Use Magic Device 6 Sneak Attack +2d6, Penetrating Strike
    6th Assassin +4 +4 +8 +1 Hide 9, Listen 9, Move Silently 9, Ride 9, Spot 9, Use Magic Device 7 Stealthy Sneak Attack +3d6
    7th Assassin +5 +4 +9 +1 Hide 10, Listen 10, Move Silently 10, Ride 10, Spot 10, Use Magic Device 8 Uncanny Dodge, +1 Save vs. Poison
    8th Assassin +6/+1 +5 +9 +2 Hide 11, Intimidate 4, Listen 11, Move Silently 11, Ride 11, Spot 11, Use Magic Device 9 Sneak Attack +4d6
    9th Assassin +7/+2 +5 +10 +2 Hide 12, Intimidate 5, Listen 12, Move Silently 12, Ride 12, Spot 12, Use Magic Device 10 Obtain Familiar Save vs. Poison +2
    10th Assassin +7/+2 +5 +10 +2 Hide 13, Intimidate 6, Listen 13, Move Silently 13, Ride 13, Spot 13, Use Magic Device 11 Improved Uncanny Dodge, Sneak Attack +5d6
    11th Assassin +8/+3 +6 +11 +3 Hide 14, Intimidate 7, Listen 14, Move Silently 14, Ride 14, Spot 14, Use Magic Device 12 Save vs. Poison +3
    12th Assassin +9/+4 +6 +13 +3 Hide 15, Intimidate 8, Listen 15, Move Silently 15, Ride 15, Spot 15, Use Magic Device 13 Improved Familiar Sneak Attack +6d6
    13th Crinti Shadow Marauder +9/+4 +6 +14 +3 Hide 16, Intimidate 9, Listen 16, Move Silently 16, Ride 16, Spot 16, Use Magic Device 14 Shadow Ride
    14th Crinti Shadow Marauder +10/+5 +7 +14 +4 Hide 17, Intimidate 10, Listen 17, Move Silently 17, Ride 17, Spot 17, Use Magic Device 15 Ride-By Attack (B) Shadow Walk
    15th Crinti Shadow Marauder +11/+6/+1 +7 +15 +4 Hide 18, Intimidate 11, Listen 18, Move Silently 18, Ride 18, Spot 18, Use Magic Device 16 Instinctive Darkness Sudden Strike +1d6
    16th Crinti Shadow Marauder +12/+7/+2 +7 +15 +4 Hide 19, Intimidate 12, Listen 19, Move Silently 19, Ride 19, Spot 19, Use Magic Device 17 Shadow Pounce
    17th Crinti Shadow Marauder +12/+7/+2 +7 +15 +4 Hide 20, Intimidate 13, Listen 20, Move Silently 20, Ride 20, Spot 20, Use Magic Device 18 Sudden Strike +2d6
    18th Assassin +13/+8/+3 +7 +16 +5 Hide 21, Intimidate 14, Listen 21, Move Silently 21, Ride 21, Spot 21, Use Magic Device 19 Improved Two-Weapon Fighting Hide in Plain Sight, +4 Save vs. Poison
    19th Assassin +13/+8/+3 +8 +16 +5 Hide 22, Intimidate 14, Listen 22, Move Silently 22, Ride 22, Spot 22, Use Magic Device 20 Sneak Attack +6d6
    20th Assassin +14/+9/+4 +8 +17 +5 Hide 23, Intimidate 15, Listen 23, Move Silently 23, Ride 23, Spot 23, Use Magic Device 21 Save vs. Poison +5

    Spells
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    Spells per Day/Spells Known
    Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
    1st - - - -
    2nd - - - -
    3rd - - - -
    4th - - - -
    5th - - - -
    6th 0/2 - - -
    7th 1/3 - - -
    8th 2/3 0/2 - -
    9th 3/4 1/3 - -
    10th 3/4 2/3 0/2 -
    11th 3/4 3/4 1/3 -
    12th 3/4 3/4 2/3 0/2
    13th 3/4 3/4 2/3 0/2
    14th 3/4 3/4 2/3 0/2
    15th 3/4 3/4 2/3 0/2
    16th 3/4 3/4 2/3 0/2
    17th 3/4 3/4 2/3 0/2
    18th 3/4 3/4 3/4 1/3
    19th 3/4 3/4 3/4 2/3
    20th 3/4 3/4 3/4 3/4

    Spells Known
    1st: Critical Strike1, Shadow Double2, Ebon Eyes3, Shock and Awe3
    2nd: Blade of Pain and Fear3, Alter Self, Swift Invisibility3, Darklight4
    3rd: Wratihstrike3, Deeper Darkness, Magic Circle Against Good, Sadism4
    4th:Greater Invisibility, Assassin's Darkness5, Freedom of Movement, Shadow Arrow6

    1. This spell appears in both the Spell Compendium and Complete Mage, and the latter is not an update of the former. I like the SC version better, but the CM version came later. Talk to your DM.
    2. This spell is from Drow of the Underdark
    3. This spell is from the Spell Compendium
    4. This spell is from the Book of Vile Darkness
    5. This spell is from Complete Scoundrel
    6. This spell is from Champions of Ruin

    Familiar Stuff
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    Image by SilveringOak
    Mourne gains a hippogriff familiar at level 12, and before that, his familiar doesn't matter much. Grab a cat for the Move Silently bonus, maybe. Because Assassin is his only spellcasting class, his effective spellcaster level maxes out at 3, so the hippogriff gets/gives the following: Alertness, Improved Evasion, Share Spells, Empathic Link, and Deliver Touch Spells. Mostly, though, it's there to serve as a mount, with Mounted Combat helping it to stay alive in battle. It's got decent HP and BAB because Mourne does, and it's perfectly capable of stealthing along with him.

    And no, it doesn't have a name. Mourne isn't much of a pet-namer.

    Design Notes
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    Level 5
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    Mourne was unsurprised when he was asked to join the assassins. After all, his incursions against the Arkuins had been wildly successful, and everyone knew he was almost pure drow, which, unfortunately mattered when one was a candidate for a prestigious position. But...he had expected his target to be an enemy of the state, some worthless human he could feel good about putting out of its misery. But here he was in T’lindhet. stalking a full drow who would undoubtedly consider herself his better. He knew better than to ask why she had to die, and the fact that she was wearing better clothes than he could personally afford and riding in a palanquin carried by a pair of skum did little to endear her. As the palanquin passed, he slipped alongside it. He could pass for full drow, and the skum averted their eyes, as was the custom. Mourne didn't bother to draw back the palaquin's curtains; he just stabbed through them until he heard the corpse tumble out the other side.

    Mourne has those Ranger levels for a couple reasons: Easily picking up TWF and getting better BAB. Fluff-wise, Ranger and Wilderness Rogue are pretty much the same, and his levels are arranged to avoid multiclass penalties. No reason to antagonize the judges! He's got +4 BAB, +2d6 Sneak Attack, Darkstalker from level 1, and all the skills he needs to scout. Pretty much what you'd expect from a Ranger/Rogue. Only Mounted Combat is odd, though right now he'll have to settle for riding a horse, probably. I picked humans for his favored enemy to deal with Arkuin rebels. Also note that these levels are where he picks up the Knowlege (Arcana) ranks he needs for Obtain Familiar later.

    Level 10
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    It was such a terrible shame that T’lindheti ambassadors kept being ambushed and killed by Arkuin raiders on the road to Cathyr, and such bad timing too--the politicians might call it "furthering cooperation with our homeland," but Mourne knew what it meant: The drow, fearing the increasing independence of their surface-world kin, were trying to reassert their dominance, which was more difficult when malcontents kept murdering their diplomats. Few knew that Crinti assassins were taught the rudiments of magic, so Mourne appeared as just another human. He signaled his team, and the attack began.

    Assassin continues increasing Mourne's Sneak Attack, and gives him the arcane spellcasting to get a familiar. Oh, and it has Use Magic Device as a class skill, which is surprisingly rare for PrCs. Mourne's Int mod is sufficient for his spellcasting, but that's about it, and his caster level will never be any good. I recommend he avoid spells that have saves and instead focus on buffing himself with spells like Blade of Pain and Fear and Wraithstrike. Frankly, all good Assassin spells are wand-worthy, but if that's not an option, Mourne can cast it himself.

    Level 17 (Sweet Spot)
    Spoiler
    Show
    Officially, Mourne was inducted into the shadow marauders in order to quell human uprisings to the east, but, officially, that had always been his job. The queen must have been aware of the assassins and shadow marauders' movements against T’lindhet. With treason of that magnitude, the lack of a knife in Mourne's own back was as resounding an endorsement as he was likely to get. And the drop in attacks once he started training with the Shadow Marauders was remarkable--after all, riding around on a hippogriff made it much harder to effectively pose as an Arkuin.

    The optimal improved familiar for Mourne is probably a hippogriff because of its flight, but any of the Large (and therefore rideable) familiars from Complete Warrior will do in a pinch. Anyway, this is the level where he gets Shadow Pounce, which lets him ride his improved familiar through magical darkness and full-attack. Mounted Combat shines here, because his familiar is going to be in combat pretty much constantly. He's got a maximum of 10 Shadow Ride uses per day just from his class, but he can supplement that with Dimension Door, either cast himself of through a wand, but that's not magical darkness, so ehh. His precision damage also continues to improve, though Sudden Strike isn't as good as Sneak Attack.

    Level 20
    Spoiler
    Show
    The queen's announcement yesterday that the Crinti were officially cutting ties with T'lindhet, had received a...mixed reception. Most of the populace were glad to be out from under the heel of those underground decadents, but there were always traditionalists, especially those whose social cachet relied on their drow blood. And for Mourne, the head of queen's guard and master of the assassins, that meant there was always plenty to keep him occupied...

    It's too bad that Mourne doesn't get up to +16 BAB (seriously, Crinti Shadow Marauder, who gives out pounce without full BAB?!), but TWF and Improved TWF give him a decent number of attacks, and he's got a total of 9d6 dice of precision damage (7 Sneak Attack and 2 Sudden Strike). He finally picks up Hide in Plain Sight at level 18, another use of magical darkness that combos nicely with his racial Darkness power, which can be used in a pinch to create shadows. It's even useful in combat, since the Instinctive Darkness feat (which he gained at level 15 but only comes into its own with HiPS) allows him to use it (a) twice a day, and (b) as a swift, non-AOO-provoking action. Note also that even though he's not a very impressive spellcaster, more than a quarter of his spells known deal with magical darkness.

    Adaptation
    Spoiler
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    If your DM allows Practiced Spellcaster to apply to familiar, take that at 15th level instead of Instinctive Darkness. More familiar abilities is better. Also, if you can customize his familiar's feats, exchange Dodge for Flyby Attack. Nothing fancy.

    Sources
    Spoiler
    Show
    Complete Arcane: Obtain Familiar
    Complete Warrior: Improved Familiar (Hippogriff)
    Drow of the Underdark: Instinctive Darkness
    Dungeonscape: Penetrating Strike ACF
    Lords of Madness: Darkstalker
    Shining South: Crinti Shadow Marauder
    Unearthed Arcana: Wilderness Rogue
    Last edited by Heliomance; 2015-11-30 at 05:23 PM.
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  28. - Top - End - #118
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Entry number 2
    Quote Originally Posted by Aranni and Oritonde
    Aranni and Oritonde
    TE Dvati
    (10 STR) (12 DEX) (16(+5) CON) (14 INT) (14 WIS) (12 CHA)
    1 dvati/1 warlock /5 ranger/5 marauder /8 Master of Many Forms

    Spoiler: Build table
    Show
    Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
    1st Dvati +0 +0 +0 +0 - - Twins
    2nd Ranger 1 +1 +2 +2 +0 4 Hide, 4 Move Silently, 4 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 4 Bluff, 4 Spot, 4 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information Apprentice(Criminal), Track Favored enemy(humans), Wild Empathy, Fast movement
    3rd Warlock 1 +1 +2 +2 +2 4 Hide, 4 Move Silently, 4 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 4 Bluff, 4 Spot, 4 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information, 2 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD - Eldritch Blast 1d6
    4th Ranger 2 +2 +3 +3 +2 5 Hide, 5 Move Silently, 5 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 5 Bluff, 5 Spot, 5 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,4 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD Alertness -
    5th Ranger 3 +3 +3 +3 +3 6 Hide, 6 Move Silently, 6 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 6 Bluff, 6 Spot, 6 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,6 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD Endurance -
    6th Ranger 4 +4 +4 +4 +3 7 Hide, 7 Move Silently, 7 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 7 Bluff, 7 Spot, 7 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,7 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 1 Listen - Urban Companion, Spellcasting
    7th Ranger 5 +5 +4 +4 +3 8 Hide, 8 Move Silently, 8 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 8 Bluff, 8 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,8 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 2 Listen Mounted Combat Favored enemy(elves), Wildshape
    8th Master of Many Forms 1 +5 +6 +6 +3 9 Hide, 8 Move Silently, 8 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 9 Bluff, 9 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,9 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 4 Listen - Wildshape(humanoid), Shifters speech
    9th MoMF 2 +6 +7 +7 +3 10 Hide, 8 Move Silently, 8 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 10 Bluff, 10 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,10 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 6 Listen - Improved Wildshape(giants), large
    10th Crinti Shadow Marauder +6 +7 +9 +3 11 Hide, 9 Move Silently, 10 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 11 Bluff, 10 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,11 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 6 Listen Stealthy Shadow Ride
    11th Crinti Shadow Marauder 2 +7 +7 +9 +3 12 Hide, 10 Move Silently, 12 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 12 Bluff, 10 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,12 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 6 Listen - Sudden Strike 1d6
    12th CSM 3 +8 +8 +9 +4 13 Hide, 12 Move Silently, 13 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 13 Bluff, 10 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,13 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 6 Listen Trample Shadow Walk
    13th CSM 4 +9 +8 +10 +4 14 Hide, 14 Move Silently, 14 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 14 Bluff, 10 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,14 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 6 Listen Multiattack Sudden Strike 2d6
    14th CSM 5 +9 +8 +10 +4 15 Hide, 15 Move Silently, 15 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 15 Bluff, 10 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,15 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 7 Listen - Shadow Pounce
    15th MoMF 3 +10 +8 +10 +5 16 Hide, 15 Move Silently, 15 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 16 Bluff, 10 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,15 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 7 Listen, 4 Disguise - Fast wild shape, monstrous humanoid
    16th MoMF 4 +11 +9 +11 +5 17 Hide, 15 Move Silently, 15 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 17 Bluff, 10 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,15 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 7 Listen, 6 Disguise, Skill trick: assume quirk Darkstalker improved wildshape, fey, tiny
    17th MoMF 5 +11 +9 +11 +5 18 Hide, 15 Move Silently, 15 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 18 Bluff, 10 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,15 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 7 Listen, 10 Disguise, Skill trick: assume quirk - wildshape(vermin)
    18th MoMF 6 +12 +10 +12 +6 19 Hide, 15 Move Silently, 15 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 19 Bluff, 10 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,15 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 7 Listen, 14 Disguise, Skill trick: assume quirk - wildshape aberration, huge
    19th MoMF 7 +13 +10 +12 +6 20 Hide, 15 Move Silently, 15 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 20 Bluff, 10 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information,15 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 7 Listen, 18 Disguise, Skill trick: assume quirk Assume Supernatural ability Extraordinary Wildshape, wildshape plant
    20th MoMF 8 +14 +11 +13 + 21 Hide, 15 Move Silently, 15 Ride, 4 Handle Animal, 21 Bluff, 10 Spot, 8 Survival, 1 Knowledge(nature), 1 Knowledge(dungeoneering), 2 Gather Information, 15 Concentration, 1 Knowledge(arcana), 1 UMD, 10 Listen, 19 Disguise, Skill trick: assume quirk - Wildshape(ooze)


    Spoiler: Backstory
    Show
    Aranni and Oritonde were orphaned in the city of Dambrath at a young age. Unlike most Dvati, they had different opinions and tastes on subjects. Arrani preferred the wilds, shying away from people and feeling cramped within the confines of cities. Oritande was his opposite, living in the spotlight, relishing in the crowds and stone walls. This proved useful as poverty drove them into a life of crime. Oritande would distract an unwitting victim, as Arrandi stole a loaf of bread, or a few apples. After being drafted into the Thieves Guild, the twins discovered a talent for disguise, and later, shapeshifting into both animals and humanoids.

    After growing bored with the Thieves Guild, Oritande took on the guise of a travelling knight, along with Arrandi his trusty steed. After they were famous enough, an old Crinti noble hired them to keep an eye on the streets for any threats to the power of those in rule. Once they gained the trust of the old man, he trained them in the way of the Shadow Marauders. While it was usually reserved for a rider and his mount, the twins unique skill set allowed them to quickly dispatch any threat on the battlefield.

    As unrest grew in Dambrath, the twins took on a role more like that of assassins or enforcers. Troublemaking adventurers came and went, but were always found dead miles away from the cities, with wounds suggesting they were mauled by wild beasts.


    Spoiler: Overview
    Show
    1-5
    1 Dvati/1 Ranger/1 Warlock/2 Ranger
    The twins start off as Wildshape Rangers with a level of warlock. Urban companion is also taken over a regular companion because a scout will help out the twins much more than another brute. A level of Ranger is taken first instead of Warlock. This makes early progression slightly awkward, but squeezes out necessary health and skill points. The low levels will of course be difficult due to the low health pool, but staying at range and using Eldritch blast should mitigate that. The first and only invocation taken is Darkness. This comes in handy for staying stealthy, as well as always having darkness for our later abilities. It also gives UMD as a class skill, to use some of the great ranger wands. Apprentice(criminal) gives Bluff and Gather Information as permanent class skills, allowing the twins to infiltrate places and maintain disguises. Their mentor could either be a representative in the Thieves Guild, or the old Shadow Marauder that mentors them. Alertness is taken at level 3. While this could come from Urban Companion, qualifying for PrC’s with it seems to differ person to person, as its a “virtual feat”.

    At these levels, the twins can skill monkey as well as scout. With a decent disguise and bluff check they can pull off small criminal jobs. One twin can even provide the other with an alibi if they do jobs separately. Favored enemy(Humans) is taken because the twins stay largely in Dambrath.

    6-10
    1 Dvati/1 Ranger/1 Warlock/4 Ranger/2 Master of Many Forms/1 Crinti Shadow Marauder
    We start getting into the main trick of the build here. The 5th level in ranger gives Wild Shape, and the 2nd level of MoMF gives large forms. One twin can turn into a large ridable form, like a tiger or bear, and the other can ride them, using Mounted Combat to mitigate damage to the mount. Other combinations include one twin becoming a small humanoid, and the other becoming something medium and deadly, like a fleshraker. Urban Companion is taken to replace the regular animal companion. Ravens are common in cities, and are able to speak and deliver messages as well as fly. The second favored enemy taken is elves.

    The twins are still fragile though, and can’t stay in melee combat for long. Forms with high natural armor or dexterity can help with this. Eldritch blast is still usable in Wild shape, and can deal free damage if needed. Darkstalker is also taken at level 9 to remain stealthy. We also start the secret ingredient and start gaining some great mobility.

    Around this level, they can pose as a knight or soldier with a horse mount. The twins accept contracts from Dambrath nobility, and can remove political enemies of the houses from the picture with their skills as criminals. Some guy knows too much? Frame him for horse theft by Wild Shaping into horses and get him executed under Dambrath law!

    11-15
    1 Dvati/1 Ranger/1 Warlock/4 Ranger/2 Master of Many Forms/5 Crinti Shadow Marauder/1 Master of Many Forms
    We progress through the SI and pick up our main tricks. Sudden Strike may be inferior to sneak attack, but there are still situations where we can use it. Having the mount grapple an opponent can deny the foe Dex to AC, letting both twins Sudden Strike it. Tripping an opponent also works. Shadow Walk also gives Plane Shift/Teleport - lite, fantastic for hopping from city to city. And then we finally get Shadow Pounce, the capstone of the build. Because both twins have the ability, they both get a full attack on teleportation. They also share initiative count, allowing for tonnes of possibilities. If both twins use Shadow Ride in the same turn, they can get 2 full attacks each. In a situation where a foe is denied dexterity to AC, such as a surprise round, the twins have a good chance of killing a foe before it can even act. For the bonus feat, we take trample, since the twins eventually have access to huge forms, enabling easy Sudden Strikes.

    The twins are now more or less capable of removing anything that their employers wish. With a growing number of forms to pick from, as well as formidable stealth capabilities, they can be excellent hitmen or great for performing frame-ups.


    16-20
    1 Dvati/1 Ranger/1 Warlock/4 Ranger/2 Master of Many Forms/5 Crinti Shadow Marauder/6 Master of Many Forms
    We’re on the last leg of the build, and everything here is gravy. The 7th level of MoMF gives a major power spike, giving the (Ex) qualities of any assumed form. How about a troll riding an elephant? Not exactly subtle, but 4 full attacks from those beasts in one turn will kill most anything in a single turn. For something a little sneakier, diminutive forms are available. Assume supernatural ability is taken as a cherry on top.

    Pesky adventurers getting the corrupt nobility down? It would be a shame if they were mauled by some roving trolls while out on a mission. Really, the possibilities here are endless.


    Spoiler: UoSI
    Show
    Shadow ride:
    Our main way of teleporting. We have a maximum of 10 teleports a day, which is pretty great. The butter to our bread.

    Sudden Strike:
    We get a few ways of enabling this, like grappling or trampling. A good way to boost damage, especially on forms with large amounts of natural attacks.

    Shadow Pounce:
    Our bread. It comes online fairly late, but lets the twins murder enemies with major action efficiency when they can make 2 full attacks plus move actions each.


    Spoiler: FAQ
    Show
    Any changes?
    The warlock level hurts in the early game, but having darkness anywhere for use of Mantle of Darkness and Shadow Pounce is handy. It also incurs favoured class penalties, but the build is stronger for it. If I were to take out the Warlock level, it would get access to the main trick of the build earlier, and it would be replaced with another level in Master of Many Forms.
    More levels of Warlock replacing MoMF levels gives access to a few nice invocations. Getting 6 levels in Warlock gives dimension door at-will, and still allows the mount to come along. However, this makes for awkward level progression and comes online very late.

    Using Hellbreaker?
    Because Shadow Pounce that any time she uses an ability that causes teleportation, they may make a full attack, a DM may say that the “mount” in the twins case would be unable to use Shadow Pounce. In this case, swapping spellcasting for Champion of the Wild and changing a few feats around allows the twins to enter Hellbreaker to get the Stowaway ability. However, this nearly guts the build for feats, and the fluff becomes awkward. Heliomance had this to say:
    Quote Originally Posted by Heliomance
    Quote Originally Posted by The twins
    Another question:

    Say that a Dvati wildshape ranger/Shadow pouncer was being ridden by their twin. When they use an ability that allows the rider to shadow pounce, would the mount also get a full attack, due to them being teleported?

    For more detail: the Shadow Pounce ability states: Any time she uses an ability, she can execute a full attack.... Does this mean that only the "activator" of the ability gets a full attack, even though both twins have the Shadow Pounce ability?
    Personally I think that both twins would get an attack (and I did wonder about building a Dvati pair using just that concept!), but it would be down to the judges, I think.
    How are you mounting all these weird creatures? (Insert joke about mounting here)
    Having a number of saddles custom-made for different creatures will help with this. If there isn’t time for a saddle, or the creature can’t accommodate one, riding bareback gives a -5 on Ride checks but is still doable.

    Your build table has you taking Disguise ranks starting at level 15?
    Clerical error while completing the table that I lack the time to fix. Wildshape gives a +10 to Disguise, and other items can help keep the bonus high enough until they actually take skills ranks in it.


    Spoiler: Sources
    Show
    Master of Many Forms- Complete Adventurer
    Dvati- Dragon Compendium
    Darkstalker- LoM
    Assume Supernatural Ability- Savage Species
    Assume Quirk- Complete Scoundrel
    Apprentice- DMG2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalirren View Post
    The only person in the past two pages who has known what (s)he has been talking about is Heliomance.
    Quote Originally Posted by golentan View Post
    I just don't want to have long romantic conversations or any sort of drama with my computer, okay? It knows what kind of porn I watch. I don't want to mess that up by allowing it to judge any of my choices in romance.

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  29. - Top - End - #119
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXIV

    Entry number 3
    Quote Originally Posted by Katjusha
    Katjusha, the Bloodstorm

    Guardian of the Ghost City, original art by Jake Murray, ©Fantasy Flight Games 2015

    A Warning
    Spoiler
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    "The waters of the bay are almost unnaturally calm, giving rise to the rumors that some kind of subtly magic protects it from storms. Indeed, no storm has churned its waters for at least the last 500 years, though many stretches of coastline nearby have been repeatedly battered by winds and rain."
    - excerpt from the tales of Shining South, pertaining to Dambrath


    The Crinti dared not risk another human uprising, and so forbade these second-class citizens from ever possessing weapons. But, alas, the burning ambition inside Katjusha's brainwashed psyche simply wouldn't allow her to be quelled and subdued; it quietly whispered Nana's words over and over again, and it raged fiercely with a fire that forged her own weapons. Once Katjusha had her fangs and claws bared, she became just as lethal as any fully-armed warrior.


    She eventually turned to banditry, further sharpening her predatory prowess, so as to better ambush passing trade caravans with. Indeed, it didn't take long for her rising notoriety to be noticed by those in power. One of the Crinti houses took her under its protection, and in return her band of brigands directed the ambushes against merchant convoys allied to the other houses, employing hit-and-run tactics to wear down any opposition.


    Surely, however, being a dispensable lapdog of the nobility was far from being enough to sate Nana's ambition for her. Katjusha scratched and clawed her way to the top of Crinti society, eventually rising to the ranks of the elite Shadow Marauders while doing so. Nothing was ever too sacred to not be used as leverage, and at the end of all the politicking, backstabbing, bribing, blackmailing, and everything else, she finally (and rightfully, as Nana always told her) claimed her place as one of them. By the time her political enemies finally decided to stop her on her tracks, it was far too late: Gnollwatch Mountains and the entire slave trade had already been firmly under her control, and even she had grown powerful enough to mangle and eviscerate entire armies from afar in the blink of an eye.


    Lately, there had been a lot of rumours going around; of Katjusha gathering forces from outside Dambrath, of the pure-blood Drow aristocracies in the Underdark finally mobilizing their own denizens, of human uprisings brought about by the sudden surge of underground weapons distribution. For the first time in Dambrath's semi-millenial history of Drow complacency, its citizens can once again feel a massive storm heading their way.

    Under the Bloodied Hood
    Spoiler
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    Soulknife 4 / Crusader 1 / Soulbow 3 / Bloodstorm Blade 4 / Crinti Shadow Marauder 5 / Kensai 3
    Lawful Evil Human
    STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
    Initial (with Point-Buy) 10 15 14 14 14 12
    Final (with Hit Die Bonus) 10 20 14 14 14 12


    Level Class Base
    Attack
    Bonus
    Fort
    Save
    Ref
    Save
    Will
    Save
    Skills* Feats Class Features
    1st Soulknife 1 +0 +0 +2 +2 Auto 4, Bala 2,
    Conc 4, Hand 2,
    Hide 4, Move 2,
    Ride 2, Spot 4,
    Tumb 4
    Able LearnerRD150,
    Weapon FocusB
    (Mind Blade),
    Wild TalentB,
    Point Blank ShotB
    Mind Blade,
    Weapon FocusB
    (Mind Blade),
    Wild Talent
    2nd CrusaderToB8 1 +1 +2 +2 +2 Auto 5, Bala 5(3),
    Ride 5(3)
    Furious Counterstrike,
    Steely Resolve 5
    3rd Soulknife 2 +2 +2 +3 +3 Auto 6, Bala 6,
    Hide 6(2), Ride 6,
    Spot 6(2)
    Weapon Finesse Throw Mindblade
    4th Soulknife 3 +3 +3 +3 +3 Auto 7, Bala 7,
    Hide 7, Ride 7,
    Spot 7, Tumb 6(2)
    Martial StudyB,ToB31
    (Steely Strike)
    Bonus Feat
    5th Soulknife 4 +4 +3 +4 +4 Auto 8, Bala 8,
    Hide 8, Ride 8,
    Spot 8, Tumb 8(2)
    +1 Mind Blade
    6th SoulbowCP36 1 +4 +3 +6 +6 Conc 5, Hide 9,
    Move 4(2), Ride 9,
    Spot 9, Tumb 9
    Martial StanceToB31
    (Punishing Stance)
    Precise ShotB
    Mind Arrow,
    Bonus Feat
    7th Bloodstorm
    BladeToB100 1
    +5 +5 +6 +6 Hand 5(3), Hide 10,
    Ride 10, Spot 10,
    Tumb 10
    Throw AnythingB,CW105 Throw Anything,
    Returning Attacks,
    Weapon Aptitude
    8th Bloodstorm
    Blade 2
    +6 +6 +6 +6 Hide 11, Move 7(3),
    Ride 11, Spot 11,
    Tumb 11
    Martial Throw,
    Thunderous Throw
    9th Bloodstorm
    Blade 3
    +7 +6 +7 +7 Hide 12, Move 10(3),
    Ride 12, Spot 12,
    Tumb 12
    Stealthy,
    Mounted CombatB
    Bonus Feat
    10th Crinti
    Shadow
    MarauderShS23 1
    +7 +6 +9 +7 Hide 13, Move 13(3),
    Ride 13, Spot 13,
    Tumb 13
    Shadow Ride
    11th Crinti
    Shadow
    Marauder 2
    +8 +6 +10 +7 Dipl 2, Hide 14,
    Move 14, Ride 14,
    Spot 14, Tumb 14
    Sudden Strike +1d6
    12th Crinti
    Shadow
    Marauder 3
    +9 +7 +10 +8 Dipl 4(2), Hide 15,
    Move 15, Ride 15,
    Spot 15, Tumb 15
    Combat Expertise,
    Mounted ArcheryB
    Shadow Walk,
    Bonus Feat
    13th Crinti
    Shadow
    Marauder 4
    +10 +7 +11 +8 Dipl 6(2), Hide 16,
    Move 16, Ride 16,
    Spot 16, Tumb 16
    Sudden Strike +2d6
    14th Crinti
    Shadow
    Marauder 5
    +10 +7 +11 +8 Dipl 8(2), Hide 17,
    Move 17, Ride 17,
    Spot 17, Tumb 17
    Shadow Pounce
    15th KensaiCW49 1 +10 +7 +11 +10 Dipl 10(2), Hide 18,
    Move 18, Ride 18,
    Spot 18, Tumb 18
    Ranged PinCW104 Signature Weapon
    (+Teleporting)
    16th Kensai 2 +11 +7 +11 +11 Dipl 12(2), Hide 19,
    Move 19, Ride 19,
    Spot 19, Tumb 19
    Power Surge,
    (+Distance)
    17th Kensai 3 +12 +8 +12 +11 Dipl 14(2), Hide 20,
    Move 20, Ride 20,
    Spot 20, Tumb 20
    (+Dispelling)
    18th Bloodstorm
    Blade 3
    +13 +8 +13 +12 Dipl 17(3), Hide 21,
    Move 21, Spot 21,
    Tumb 21
    Staggering StrikeCAd112 Lightning Ricochet
    19th Soulbow 2 +14 +8 +14 +13 Dipl 20(3), Hide 22,
    Move 22, Spot 22,
    Tumb 22
    Mind arrow
    enhancement +1
    20th Soulbow 3 +15 +9 +14 +13 Dipl 23(3), Hide 23,
    Move 23, Spot 23,
    Tumb 23
    Far Shot +1 Mind Arrow,
    Bonus Feat
    * Skill names are abbreviated to their first four letters. Numbers outside parentheses indicate skill ranks. Numbers within parentheses indicate skill points used, if equal to neither 1 nor the current skill rank.


    Maneuvers Known/Readied (2 Granted): Martial Spirit (Stance), Crusader's Strike, Vanguard Strike, Leading the Attack, Douse the Flames, Stone Bones


    Sources
    • SRD: everything else
    • Shining South: Crinti Shadow Marauder
    • Tome of Battle: Crusader, Bloodstorm Blade, Martial Study, Martial Stance, maneuvers/stances
    • Complete Warrior: Kensai, Ranged Pin
    • Complete Psionics: Soulbow
    • Complete Adventurer: Staggering Strike
    • Races of Destiny: Able Learner
    • Expanded Classes (Soulknife), Web Article: Soulknife ACFs (Bonus Feat)

    In Action
    Spoiler
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    Riding into Battle
    Spoiler
    Show
    Tactics


    General: Across almost all levels, she has high HP due to d10s, AC due to Dex and armor/shield, and saves. Her skills are good, ending up with 6 nearly maxed out: Hide, Spot, Ride, Tumble, Move Silently, and then Diplomacy. Her BAB and attack bonus are above average whenever they're most important. Her combat mobility is unmatched due to her mount.


    Level 5
    She is a great support, having Crusader maneuvers give attack bonus, minor healing, and AoO prevention; this is coupled with a Mind Blade attack bonus of up to +11 = 4(BAB) +3(DEX) +1(Focus) +1(Enhancement) +1(Higher Ground) +1(Furious Counterstrike).

    With mounted combat, she can effectively hit-and-run with Maneuvers, making the 1/round mount-AC substitution sufficient. Her defenses are solid with the usual Crusader defensive perks, as well as Autohypnosis to stave-off Fear and Poison. Hit-and-run tactics also favor thrown her Mind Blades, whose generation isn't much of a problem and whose attack penalties at far ranges she can take.


    Level 10
    Shadow Ride gives her and her mount more mobility that only teleportation effects can provide, helps her in scouting, and increases her attack/retreat range. Punishing Stance gives a slight bump to thrown-melee attack damage and Steely Strike gives a good bump to attack bonus, if needed.

    More importantly, activating Thunderous Throw allows her to hit any Maneuver from her throwing range (up to 150ft for Mind Blade), bringing Crusader support even at range. Full-attacking with ranged weapons while in a speeding mount is another option, so she can shoot or throw 2 Mind Arrows per round whenever not using Maneuvers.


    Level 15 (Sweet Spot)
    Combat Expertise trades attack bonus (max 5) for AC, while Ranged Pin enables Sudden Strike. Shadow Walk also provides her with a means to scout in/out (even interplanar) of target areas, and Shadow Ride becomes now triggers Shadow Pounce. Mounted combat works well with Shadow Pounce as intended: Shadow Ride to get in range, free full-attack and standard action mount attack, and then move out.

    Additionally, Thunderous Throw turns thrown-weapon ranged attacks from maximum range (150ft for Mind Blade) into Melee Attacks. Combined with Sudden Strike, it allows iterative melee Sudden Strikes and even at >30ft range. Combined with Shadow Pounce triggered from using a teleportation effect up to 50-150ft away, it gives a free full-attack by having "a place from which she can make a melee attack against the intended target". Shadow Pounce doesn't even have to be a melee full-attack, so she can be far away wielding a Mind Blade and making a full-attack shooting Mind Arrows; as a quick reminder, she can make a full-attack with her Mind Arrows even while her mount is moving at top speed.

    This is also where Katjusha goes from just being a mobile support/recon to also being a mobile artillery with pseudo-cover-fire support, courtesy of Kensai imbuing the Teleporting ability to her Mind Blade/Arrow, which is technically a part of "You". If even a single one Mind Arrow is thrown, it travels through the Astral Plane and returns it next round to its source. Thus, each single thrown Mind Arrow, such as those used for Maneuvers, will use a Teleportation effect on "You" and trigger Shadow Pounce full-attack, which can the be used to throw a newly generated Mind Arrow or two for more full-attacks, repeated ad infinitum. This means NI attacks of any combination of ranged-thrown/melee and ranged-projectile against anything/one within her maximum throwing weapon range.
    Spoiler: With this combo available, she unlocks more tricks:
    Show

    Inspiring Salvo: Give NI healing via Martial Spirit (melee attack only) to anyone within 30ft, a range which is actually pretty flexible when moving with a mount.

    Mind Arrow Pincushion: NI grapple attempts via Ranged Pin (ranged-projectile attack only) statistically means having opposing rolls of 20 and 1, in her favor, will occur; thus, any modifier less than her BAB+STR+19 is doomed to fail. This is the pseudo-cover-fire effect that vastly improves her support role, in that the enemies will have to waste a standard action to get out of grapple. This is more or less useful for opponents that needs to be alive and conscious, but denied of standard actions, with Martial Spirit likely used to keep them alive too.

    Mounted Bombing Run: Have all of the above tricks on a far larger scale with the help of her mount. Even a single movement of a Light Warhorse (60ft) or a Nightmare (90ft) already brings a massive increase in area coverage (60/90ft line, 300ft thick). That can only get worse with a double-move, or a run (with the Run feat).

    Shadow Ride Missile: Get larger effective range of where "Ground Zero" starts, by a distance of up to 250ft courtesy of Shadow Ride. In this case, Shadow Ride also doubles as an initial Shadow Pounce trigger.

    Shadow-Plane Orbital Cannon: Since Shadow Walk is effectively done at the edge of the Material Plane, a case could be made that she can attack within such a strategically situated edge, affecting anything on that part of the Material Plane. While she can't make out details of the areas/terrain, she doesn't have to because she can just bombard every arbitrary square within range during her entire trip, likely getting a 50% miss chance similar to attacking an invisible creature by attacking its square. In the end, she'd have laid waste to an entire 250mi. line, 300ft wide.
    Be wary, however, that her attacks have low individual damage output, and can be foiled by a combination of DR and critical hit immunity.


    Level 20
    Mind Arrow Enhancement provides Bane for preparing against enemies with crit immunity and high DR, or Merciful to knock creatures unconscious instead. Lightning Ricochet means even manufactured weapons can be used for her barrage of attacks, such as a tripping/disarming weapon or an adamantine weapon for atomizing virtually anything in range with Hardness less than 20. Far Shot doubles her throwing range, and with Distance, gives Mind Blade a max range of 600ft.

    Dispelling improves her supporting role further, with Martial Spirit keeping her target creature alive and a maximum Dispel check of 30 making sure the creature is completely dispelled of anything with CL below 20. Being another great addition to her support role, Staggering Strike also forces the staggered condition on those she Sudden Strikes, which, combined with Ranged Pin, makes for a perfect action-denial combo.


    The Great Shadow Marauding
    Spoiler
    Show
    Use of Crinti Shadow Marauder
    • Prereq (Stealthy + stealth skills): Maxed out, although not useful during combat. Her guerilla tactics is sufficiently stealthy in principle, as well as nuking the Material Plane from the border of the Shadow Plane.
    • Prereq (Mounted Combat + mount skills) + Mounted Archery: Her mount isn't just tacked-on. It complements and massively augments her style from the first quartile to the fourth, with Handle Animal enough for low-levels and Ride maxed out. Mounted Archery is useful whenever she isn't nuking, such as when shooting or throwing manufactured weapons pre-LightningRicochet.
    • Shadow Ride: Utilized for actual Mounted Combat, mobility, Shadow Pounce, and the Shadow Ride Missile trick.
    • Sudden Strike: Combined with Thundering Throws for iterative sudden strikes from up to 600ft of distance. Additionally, it's enabled with Ranged Pin's grappling, and further combining the two with Staggering Strike means enemies spend their only action getting out of the pin.
    • Shadow Walk: Utilized for getting in/out of areas for reconnaisance, interplanar travel, and the Shadow-Plane Orbital Cannon trick.
    • Shadow Pounce: Combined with Thundering Throws for ranged/melee full-attacks. Further combined with Teleporting Mind Arrows for NI attacks, and thus is one of the keys to the tricks presented in Level 15. Additionally, her usage of this ability means effects like Dimensional Anchor isn't a complete problem for her.

    Originality
    Expectation Reality
    Manifester with (Teleportation) Teleporting Mind Blade/Arrow
    Initiator with [Teleportation] Buffer Crusader + Bloodstorm
    Sudden Strike beatdown Sudden Strike lockdown
    Shadow Walk tacked-on Shadow Walk orbital-cannon
    Swift+Move+Standard Shadow Pounce Standard+Combo Shadow Pounce
    "Share <X>" to carry mount always carried by mount

    Power
    She ranges from good to overpowered at what she does, such as physical offense buffing, out-of-combat stealth, mobility, battlefield control, HP healing, and then dispel support.

    Elegance
    Since one of the goals was to highlight the SI, the other classes were utilized such that they don't overshadow the SI but she will still get more from taking at least 3 levels. Unfortunately for Crusader, this is a 20-level build; It's really hard to choose who gets shafted, considering Iron Guard's Glare and even the underrated Order forged from Chaos will be great upgrades to this build. The class choices are thematically based on either her personal career or her conviction to further sharpen her "fang"/"claws". Lastly, being a "combo build", the whole will be far larger than the sum of its parts, and nothing it does is doable with any of those taken alone.


    Conflicts
    Spoiler
    Show
    RAW Concerns

    Shadow Pounce (Full-Attack) on a moving mount: While making a melee full-attack is normally forbidden on a mount moving more than 5ft in a round, this seems to be a Specifics trumps General rule similar to how Pounce (Ex) enables a mounted charger to make a full-attack at the end of its charge, or even a full-attack at the end of a normal charge, despite not normally allowing it. Furthermore, the rule seems to refer only to this since the SRD action economy only anticipates one move + one standard action per round as references, which Shadow Pounce already breaks. Lastly, this would make Shadow Pounce almost dysfunctional, since teleporting more than 5ft towards an enemy still technically means that the "mount moves more than 5 feet", only not of its own will/action.

    Throw Mind Arrow: Mind Arrow is based on Throw Mind Blade, and even has Returning as an available enhancement choice, which can only be applied on weapons that can be thrown. Furthermore, Throw Anything pretty much makes normally-non-thrown melee weapons throwable.

    Teleporting Mind Blade/Arrow:
    A Mind Blade/Arrow is created from the very own distilled psychic energies of a Soulknife/bow, and thus sufficiently satisfies the requirement of "You". Unlike manufactured weapons, it's pretty much an extension of your being, using your own energy. Thus, it triggers the Crinti Shadow Marauder's Shadow Pounce.


    Plunders and Bounties
    Spoiler
    Show
    Items
    She needs no item in particular, but she can utilize any melee weapon quite well once she gets Lightning Ricochet. An adamantine weapon, for example, would allow her to terraform and destroy nearly anything. Other weapons allow her to trip and disarm from afar with Thunderous Throw.


    Mounts
    She doesn't need a permanent mount. Her choice heavily depends on 1. creature availability and 2. whether she can successfully use Diplomacy on a non-animal mount (as stated in DMG p.204). She prefers fast and maneuverable ones to complement her tactics: something like Light Warhorse or Dire Bat earlier and Dragon, Hoary Steed, or Nightmare later.
    Last edited by Heliomance; 2015-11-30 at 05:31 PM.
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  30. - Top - End - #120
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    Entry number 4
    Quote Originally Posted by Valkav Kelgrave
    Valkav Kelgrave

    Race: Dragonborn Human
    Build Stub: Wilderness Feat Rogue 1/Ranger 2/Swashbuckler 1/Warblade 1/Rogue +1/Hit-and-Run Fighter 1/CSM 4/Monk 2/CSM +1/Mo9 4/Fighter +1
    Ability Scores (32 Point Buy): Str 14 (6), Dex 16 (10), Con 14 (6), Int 14 (6), Wis 12 (4), Cha 8 (0)
    Ability Increases: Dex 17 (4th), Dex 18 (8th), Dex 19 (12th), Con 15 (16th), Con 16 (20th)
    Dragonborn Scores: (12th) Str 14, Dex 17, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 8
    Ability Increases: Dex 18 (16th), Dex 19 (20th)
    Languages: Common, Drow, Draconic
    Alignment: LN
    Multiclass Penalty: No.

    Spoiler: Image
    Show




    Spoiler: Build Progression
    Show

    Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
    1st Wilderness Feat Rogue 1 +0 +2 +5 +1 Balance 4, DisDev 4, Handle Animal 4, Hide 4, Jump 4, Move Silently 4, Ride 4, Search 4, Tumble 4, UMD 4 Stealthy, Improved Initiative (FB), Able Learner (H) Trapfinding
    2nd Ranger 1 +1 +4 +7 +1 Balance 5, DisDev 5, Hide 5, Jump 5, Move Silently 5, Ride 5, Search 5, Tumble 5 Track Favored Enemy (Arcanists), Spiritual Connection ACF
    3rd Ranger 2 +2 +5 +8 +1 Concentration 1, DisDev 6, Hide 6, Jump 6, Move Silently 6, Ride 6, Search 6, Tumble 6 Darkstalker, Combat Style: TWF
    4th Swashbuckler 1 +3 +7 +8 +1 DisDev 7, Hide 7, Move Silently 7, Ride 7, Search 7, Tumble 7 Weapon Finesse
    5th Warblade 1 +4 +9 +8 +1 DisDev 8, Hide 8, Move Silently 8, Ride 8, Search 8, Tumble 8 Battle Clarity (Ref saves), Weapon Aptitude
    6th Wilderness Feat Rogue 2 +5 +9 +9 +1 Concentration 2, DisDev 9, Handle Animal 5, Hide 9, Jump 9, Move Silently 9, Search 9, Tumble 9 Adaptive Style, Mounted Combat (FB) Evasion
    7th Hit-and-Run Fighter 1 +6 +11 +9 +1 Concentration 4, Hide 10, MOve Silently 10 Improved TWF (FB)
    8th Crinti Shadow Marauder 1 +6 +11 +12 +1 Cocnentration 5, DisDev 10, Hide 11, Move Silently 11, Search 10, Tumble 10 Shadow Ride
    9th Crusader 1 +7 +13 +12 +1 DisDev 11, Hide 12, Jump 10, Move Silently 12, Search 11, Tumble 11 Extra Granted Maneuver Furious Counterstrike, Steely Resolve 5
    10th Crinti Shadow Marauder 2 +8 +13 +13 +1 Concentration 6, DisDev 12, Hide 13, Move Silently 13, Search 12, Timble 12 Sudden Strike 1d6
    11th Crinti Shadow Marauder 3 +9 +14 +13 +2 Concentration 10, Hide 14, Move Silently 14 Mounted Archery Shadow Walk
    12th Crinti Shadow Marauder 4 +10 +15 +13 +2 DisDev 13, Hide 15, Move Silently 15, Search 13, Tumble 13, UMD 5 Craven, Dragon Tail (losing Mounted Archery, Track) Sudden Strike 2d6, Dragonborn: Wings Aspect
    13th Monk 1 +10 +17 +15 +4 DisDev 14, Hide 16, Move Silently 16, Search 14, Tumble 14, UMD 6 Improved Unarmed Strike, Dodge (OA p. 19) Flurry of Blows
    14th Monk 2 +11 +18 +15 +5 DisDev 15, Hide 17, Move Silently 17, Search 15, Tumble 15, UMD 7 Blind-Fight (OA p. 19) Invisible Fist ACF
    15th Crinti Shadow Marauder 5 +11 +18 +15 +5 Hide 18, Move Silently 18, UMD 11 Sun School Shadow Pounce
    16th Master of Nine 1 +11 +18 +16 +7 DisDev 16, Hide 19, Move Silently 19, Search 16, Tumble 16, UMD 14
    17th Master of Nine 2 +12 +18 +16 +8 DisDev 17, Hide 20, Move Silently 20, Search 17, Tumble 17, UMD 17 Dual Stance
    18th Master of Nine 3 +13 +19 +17 +8 DisDev 18, Hide 21, Move Silently 21, Search 18, Tumble 18, UMD 20 Shadow Blade Perfect Form
    19th Master of Nine 4 +14 +19 +17 +8 DisDev 20, Hide 22, Move Silently 22, Search 20, Tumble 20 Counter Stance
    20th Fighter 2 +15 +20 +17 +8 Concentration 12, Hide 23, Move Silently 23 Greater TWF (FB)


    Spoiler: Maneuvers
    Show

    Level Warblade IL Warblade Maneuvers Known Warblade Maneuvers Readied Warblade Maneuvers Warblade Stances Crusader IL Crusader Maneuvers Known Crusader Maneuvers Readied Crusader Maneuvers Granted Crusader Maneuvers Crusader Stances
    5th 3.0 3 3 Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) - - - - - -
    6th 3.5 3 3 Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) - - - - - -
    7th 4.0 3 3 Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) - - - - - -
    8th 4.5 3 3 Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) - - - - - -
    9th 5.0 3 3 Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) 5.0 5 3 3 Crusader's Strike (DS1), Vanguard Strike (DS1), Revitalizing Strike (DS3), Mountain Hammer (SD2), White Raven Tactics (WR3) Leading the Charge (WR1)
    10th 5.5 3 3 Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) 5.5 5 3 3 Crusader's Strike (DS1), Vanguard Strike (DS1), Revitalizing Strike (DS3), Mountain Hammer (SD2), White Raven Tactics (WR3) Leading the Charge (WR1)
    11th 6.0 3 3 Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) 6.0 5 3 3 Crusader's Strike (DS1), Vanguard Strike (DS1), Revitalizing Strike (DS3), Mountain Hammer (SD2), White Raven Tactics (WR3) Leading the Charge (WR1)
    12th 6.5 3 3 Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) 6.5 5 3 3 Crusader's Strike (DS1), Vanguard Strike (DS1), Revitalizing Strike (DS3), Mountain Hammer (SD2), White Raven Tactics (WR3) Leading the Charge (WR1)
    13th 7.0 3 3 Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) 7.0 5 3 3 Crusader's Strike (DS1), Vanguard Strike (DS1), Revitalizing Strike (DS3), Mountain Hammer (SD2), White Raven Tactics (WR3) Leading the Charge (WR1)
    14th 7.5 3 3 Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) 7.5 5 3 3 Crusader's Strike (DS1), Vanguard Strike (DS1), Revitalizing Strike (DS3), Mountain Hammer (SD2), White Raven Tactics (WR3) Leading the Charge (WR1)
    15th 8.0 3 3 Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) 8.0 5 3 3 Crusader's Strike (DS1), Vanguard Strike (DS1), Revitalizing Strike (DS3), Mountain Hammer (SD2), White Raven Tactics (WR3) Leading the Charge (WR1)
    16th 9.0 5 3 Burning Blade (DW1), Iron Heart Surge (IH3), Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) 9.0 5 4 4 Crusader's Strike (DS1), Vanguard Strike (DS1), Revitalizing Strike (DS3), Mountain Hammer (SD2), White Raven Tactics (WR3) Leading the Charge (WR1)
    17th 10.0 5 3 Burning Blade (DW1), Iron Heart Surge (IH3), Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) 10.0 6 5 5 Shadow Stride (SH5), Crusader's Strike (DS1), Vanguard Strike (DS1), Revitalizing Strike (DS3), Mountain Hammer (SD2), White Raven Tactics (WR3) Assassin's Stance (SH3), Leading the Charge (WR1)
    18th 11.0 7 3 Zephyr Dance (DW3), Leaping Flame (DW5), Burning Blade (DW1), Iron Heart Surge (IH3), Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) 11.0 6 6 6 Shadow Stride (SH5), Crusader's Strike (DS1), Vanguard Strike (DS1), Revitalizing Strike (DS3), Mountain Hammer (SD2), White Raven Tactics (WR3) Assassin's Stance (SH3), Leading the Charge (WR1)
    19th 12.0 7 3 Zephyr Dance (DW3), Leaping Flame (DW5), Burning Blade (DW1), Iron Heart Surge (IH3), Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) 12.0 7 7 7 Shadow Jaunt (SH2), Shadow Stride (SH5), Crusader's Strike (DS1), Vanguard Strike (DS1), Revitalizing Strike (DS3), Mountain Hammer (SD2), White Raven Tactics (WR3) Press the Advantage (IH5), Assassin's Stance (SH3), Leading the Charge (WR1)
    20th 12.5 7 3 Zephyr Dance (DW3), Leaping Flame (DW5), Burning Blade (DW1), Iron Heart Surge (IH3), Moment of Perfect Mind (DM1), Wolf Fang Strike (TC1), Sudden Leap (TC1) Punishing Stance (IH1) 12.5 6 5 5 Shadow Jaunt (SH2), Shadow Stride (SH5), Crusader's Strike (DS1), Vanguard Strike (DS1), Revitalizing Strike (DS3), Mountain Hammer (SD2), White Raven Tactics (WR3) Press the Advantage (IH5), Assassin's Stance (SH3), Leading the Charge (WR1)

    Spoiler: Backstory
    Show

    "Kelgrave!" called out Master Embry, his voice cracking like a whip. "In my office! Now!"

    Valkav took in a deep breath, closed his footlocker, and followed Master Embry into his office. No one else in the barracks dared to look up for meet his gaze.

    Master Embry marched sharply behind his desk and... waited.

    Valkav stood at attention, not daring to move.

    After a long silence, Master Embry spoke softly, barely a whisper. "This was a milk run, Kelgrave. Simple bag job, in and out, grab Lord Rilkar's love letters, nothing complicated. Now, please explain to me how you botched this up?"

    Valkav said, "It was smooth, in and out, no problems until I hit the roof. Then I got blindsided. Never saw his face. I tried to jump away, but he could follow me, maybe even anticipate my jumps. Everything I threw at him, he threw it back three times worse. I thought at first he was another Shadow Marauder, but then he kept jumping behind me, every time I turned around he was there."

    "How, exactly, did your horse get up on the roof?" asked Master Embry.

    "I can explain that! I--" started Valkav.

    "Save it!" snapped Master Embry. "Nevermind, I'll just add it to the tally. Did you know you've killed seventeen horses so far? I didn't think you'd top the catapult incident, but somehow you managed it. So... this assailant, you said he was a Shadow Marauder?"

    "At first, I thought so. But he kept jumping around, every time I turned to attack he'd pop behind me... similar technique, to our shadow walking, but he could do it at will."

    Master Embry's eyes narrowed. "And you said you never saw his face. Did you notice anything else about him? Clothing, boots, belt buckle... anything distinctive?"

    Valkav said, "Well, there was one thing. A ring, on his left hand, with a white bird on it."

    "White bird..." said Master Embry. "Like a raven?"

    Valkav squinted, trying to remember it clearly. "It could have been."

    Master Embry held up one of his hands, palm facing toward himself, showing a ring on his finger. "Like this one?"

    Valkav reached immediately for his shortswords, but before his hands had even moved Master Embry and disappeared and reappeared behind him. By the time Valkav got his swords free and spun around to face him, Embry had already landed two solid punches on his ribs and a glancing blow across his cheekbone. Valkav feinted and lunged, but Master Embry disappeared again, reappearing on the desk behind him and letting loose with a kick to the back of Valkav's skull. Before another second had passed, it was over. Mastery Embry had him pinned to the ground, one arm bent way too far behind his back.

    Embry leaned down, putting his face next to Valkav's ear. "You may have lost the letters and your horse, Kelgrave," whispered Master Embry, "But somehow you also got back up on that roof and gave chase for another four city blocks. That was pretty impressive, even by my standards. I've got a couple more questions for you, though. The Blackwulf job, six tendays ago... you killed everyone in the room, except for Lady Birchwood's daughter. Why not the girl?"

    Valkav shifted his weight slightly, and the blinding pain in his shoulder and neck subsided momentarily, enough to collect more of his wits. "Gah... Birchwood's daughter... only fourteen. Still a child. Not part of my orders... kill the Blackwulfs, nothing about killing children."

    "And if killing Birchwood's daughter had been in your orders?" asked Master Embry.

    "And bring Lady Birchwood's assassins down on us all? Even you're not that insane, Master Embry!"

    The weight on his arm and neck suddenly disappeared, as Master Embry popped back behind his desk. "Stand up, Kelgrave."

    Valkav managed it somehow, still holding his shortswords dumbly at his side, and not entirely sure what to do with them. "Sir?"

    "There's a very slight possibility you're not as stupid or useless as I first thought, Kelgrave." Embry called out, "Master Ping!"

    A side door opened to Valkav's right, and a squat, stooped lizardman in silk robes entered the office. He raised his clawed hands and bowed crisply to both of them. Valkav noticed that the lizardman was also wearing a ring with a white raven on it.

    Master Embry said, "Behind you, Kelgrave, is a world of greedy nobles, squabling over petty intrigues. Amusing enough, and lots of good work for someone with your skills, but eventually your name winds up on the wrong list and you're just a fraction of a hair slower than you used to be, maybe if you're lucky you wind up in a cold stone box with a nice litte plaque rather than a nameless wooden box. Or you might consider studying under Master Ping, and learn how to slip between shadows like a knife slips beteween the ribs, walk up a pillar of fire as if it were a staircase, or shatter stone walls with your fists. So tell me, Kelgrave... would such an offer interest you?"


    Spoiler: Levels 1-7
    Show

    Valkav starts out as a trapfinder and skillmonkey, and spends most of his earlier levels as a typical rogue or ranger: namely, pretending to be important, but not nearly as effective as he thinks he is. The wilderness rogue variant was taken as it gave me a lot more skill points to put into support skills, but isn't strictly necessary to qualify for Crinti Shadow Marauder or Master of Nine. Trading away sneak attack reduces his combat effectiveness below what you might expect of a typical rogue, but hopefully in the earlier levels this won't be so noticeable. But there's one thing Valkav does excel at, and that's the sneaky stuff, which helps him survive until the later levels. Swashbuckler is there to help with the attack bonus, although it's not really necessary here, and could be bumpbed until much later if whiffing isn't so much of a concern. Taking Warblade at 5 helps shore up his combat abilities, as both Wolf Fang Strike and Sudden Leap give him "mini-pounces", Moment of Perfect Mind is there to cover his horrible Will save, and Punishing Stance helps make up for the missing sneak attack. After that, a couple more dips for fighter bonus feats as we try and get our prereqs lined up for later.


    Spoiler: Levels 8-12
    Show

    Valkav enters Crinti Shadow Marauder and discovers that mounted combat is not a particularly good fit for a Dex-based finesse fighter. But CSMs are expected to be mounted, and he's not exactly tearing things up as a frontline meatbag, so riding around on a mount isn't a completely useless idea. He can use a lance, so that's at least something useful to do on the first round. The Warblade maneuvers help here as well, allowing him to dismount as a move action and Wolf Fang Strike as a standard attack, or Sudden Leap from his mount and then full attack on the ground. The Crusader level also helps, as Leading the Charge stance adds bonus damage to his lance attack when his mount charges. If Valkav decides to stay in the saddle, then Crusader's Strike, Vanguard Strike, and Mountan Hammer gives him something interesting to do with his single standard attack while his mount is moving. He also picks up White Raven Hammer, which either lets him act twice in a round or can be used to grant extra turns to other party members. Valkav also picks up Craven, which adds to his Sudden Strike damage, but at the moment he doesn't have a reliable way to activate it.

    Valkav flirts a bit with Mounted Archery, but not for long. At level 12, he goes through the Ritual of Rebirth to become a Dragonborn of Bahumat. Instead of losing his human bonus feat, Valkav loses Track, as per the rules on page 10 of Races of the Dragon: "If your original race granted you a nonspecific bonus feat (such as the one gained by a human at 1st level), any feat can be lost, so long as it is not a prerequisite for another feat you have." Track is an eligible feat, and he can get more reliable information from local plants/animals by using his Spiritual Connection ACF. Valkav also takes advantage of the option to pick up a 1st-level only Dragonborn feat, swapping Mounted Archery for the Dragon Tail feat. The Dragonborn ritual isn't strictly necessary, as the build functions well enough without it, but it does add a flight capability and an additional tail attack to Valkav's full attack. If you prefer a more evil-ish Crinti Shadow Marauder, it can be skipped. (For simplicity's sake, I calculated Valkav's skill points without the human bonus points, as I anticipated that Dragonborn would remove them. If you prefer to restore the skill points, then Valkav can max out Concentration and Jump.)


    Spoiler: Levels 13-17
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    Valkav can now dish out some decent damage when he gets the drop on someone, but doesn't have a reliable way to trigger Sudden Strike, so he shifts focus a bit to study as a monk. Using the rules in Oriental Adventures (p. 19), monks can select bonus feats from Table 6-1 (p. 79), which includes Dodge and Blind-Fight. This finishes up the last three feats he needs for Master of Nine, and he also picks up the Invisible Fist ACF. This allows him to get Sudden Strike on most opponents every four rounds or so (and since the text refers to invisible as a special ability rather than a spell effect, attacking doesn't end the effect). In the intervening three rounds, he can rely on his Warblade/Crusader strikes, or if an opponent is articularly challenging, he can pull back and hide until Invisible Fist comes around again. Monk also adds unarmed strike as an offhand attack, allowing Valkav to switch to a two-handed greatsword if he's looking for better damage on his primary attack, or switch to quantity over quality, using Flurry of Blows with unarmed strikes and/or Scorpion Kamas.

    At 15th level, Valkav finishes off Crinti Shadow Marauder and unlocks Shadow Pounce. At this point, Valkav can only do this 3/day: Two Shadow Rides, and one Shadow Walk from his class abilities. Teleport items, such as Chronocharm of the Horizon Walker (500 GP, MIC), Anklets of Translocation (1400 GP, MIC), Shadow Cloak (5500 GP, DotU), or Novice Shadow Hand gloves (3000 GP, ToB) can provide additional uses. He also picks up the Sun School tactical feat, providing an additional attack at full BAB every time he Shadow Pounces.

    After securing Shadow Pounce, Valkav heads into Master of Nine to unlock an "Idiot Crusader" combo by choosing to learn new known maneuvers on his Warblade side and adding additional readied/granted maneuvers to his Crusader side. As per Tome of Battle page 96, these class features are added separately. Under "Maneuvers Known: When you gain additional maneuvers known, these simply add to the maneuvers known of one martial adept standard class you already possess", this allows Valkav to add new known maneuvers to his Warblade class. In the next section below, the text says, "Maneuvers Readied: When indicated, you gain the ability to ready one or more additional martial maneuvers. If you have more than one martial maneuver progression, you must choose which progression the additional readied maneuver slot applies to. If you choose to add the maneuver readied to a martial maneuver progression derived from crusader class levels, you also gain one additional maneuver granted at the beginning of the encounter for each additional maneuver you can ready." At 16th level, Valkav has 5 Crusader maneuvers known and 4 readied/granted. At 17th level, Valkav can add one maneuver and one stance, so he takes Shadow Stride and Assassin's Stance here, allowing him to pick up Shadow Blade next level. It's all coming together now...


    Spoiler: Level 18 "Sweet Spot"
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    At 18th level, Valkav has 6 Crusader maneuvers known and maneuvers readied/granted. Every turn, Valkav gets the following 6 Crusader maneuvers:

    Crusader's Strike (DS1)
    Vanguard Strike (DS1)
    Revitalizing Strike (DS3)
    Mountain Hammer (SD2)
    White Raven Tactics (WR3)
    Shadow Stride (SH5)

    This means every round he can:

    Move Action: Shadow Stride up to 50' -> Shadow Pounce + Sun School
    Standard Action: Revitalizing Strike or UMD a wand with a teleport effect (such as stand or benign transposition)
    Swift Action: Activate White Raven Tactics on himself.

    On the next initiative count, he can repeat all of that, and keep going at every initiative count until everything around him is dead. If he's using Invisible Fist on that round, it lasts for every turn he takes that round, and every attack against an opponent that can't detect him triggers Dex damage from Shadow Blade, 2d6 Sudden Strike, 2d6 Sneak Attack from Assassin's Stance, Craven, and more Dex damage from Hit-and-Run Fighter. If his target can see invisible, Valkav can try flanking or using his standard action to hide. If that doesn't work... even without the bonus damage, a substantially large number of full attacks should be sufficient to render any particularly observant opponent into a particularly unobservant corpse.

    Also at 18th level, Valkav adds a little Desert Wind to his Warblade side, picking up Leaping Flame. Although using this as a counter allows Valkav to add another full attack when an opponent attacks him, it breaks the "White Raven Tactics All The Time" combo: he can't activate WRT on his next turn without a swift action available. But it does allow him to respond to an ambush or unexpected ranged attack: he can teleport in for a full attack, unload another full attack on his next turn, and then activate the WRT combo on the subsequent round. Leaping Flame can also be triggered by an ally making a ranged attack at Valkav, allowing him to teleport up to 100' across the battlefield, pouncing in to help them with an adjacent enemy or moving him into a better position when he's out of teleports for that particular round.

    Outside of combat, Valkav has a little bit of everything: top-notch sneak/spy, accomplished trapfinder, world-class tumbler, some wilderness/animal skills, a dash of magic wands/UMDs, and some Martial Adept utility maneuvers.


    Spoiler: Levels 19-20
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    Valkav finishes off with another level of Master of Nine, which gives him Shadow Jaunt as a Standard Action, so he can now Shadow Pounce twice every turn, and Press the Advantage for 10' steps. Fighter 2 on the last level allows him to complete the TWF trifecta with Greater TWF, and he now has 8 attacks per Shadow Pounce: 3 primary, 3 offhand, tail attack, and Sun School.

    Use of the Secret Ingredient:

    Shadow Ride: At earlier levels, this ability is the source of 2 out of 3 Shadow Pounces per day. However, once the Idiot Crusader combo has been unlocked for unlimited Shadow Strides, it's largely irrelevent outside of certain pranks involving livestock and church belltowers.

    Sudden Strike: This ability allows Valkav to acquire Craven, as it counts as Sneak Attack, and helps leverage up the bonus damage when using Invisible Fist.

    Bonus Feat: Ok, so Mounted Archery (or any of the other mounted combat feats) doesn't really do diddley-squat for this build, but Valkav does use it with Dragonborn of Bahamut to pick up an extra attack via Dragon Tail.

    Shadow Walk: This SLA provides the third and most reliable Shadow Pounce per day. Once Shadow Stride is up and working, it also works as a standard-action teleport until Valkav gets Shadow Jaunt at level 19.

    Shadow Pounce: The key to the build. I think it's safe to say it's going to get a lot of use.


    Spoiler: The DM Just Looked At Me Like I Was Murdering Puppies...
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    Here's some advice on how to deal with a DM blubbering about "game balance" or "broken loopholes" and whatnot.

    The Idiot Crusader trick presented here works by RAW. On your Crusader side, the number of Known, Readied, and Granted maneuvers are equal at levels 18 and 19. As per ToB pages 9-10, you end every turn without any withheld manuevers, and get a fresh set of all your known maneuvers at the start of your next turn. The only part that's even questionable is on Master of Nine 1 and 3, you add Maneuvers Known to your Warblade side and the Maneuvers Readied to the Crusader side. But given how the text breaks these two advances into two separate sections, I don't see any valid argument why this couldn't be done this way on a multiclass Martial Adept with more than one initiator class to choose from. It's possible to get this trick working at much lower levels, but as presented here it's at the point where wizards and clerics are already breaking the action economy into tiny little pieces, so I don't see how this could be any worse.

    White Raven Tactics is a much trickier problem, and much more likely to be banned to start with. If it's not banned outright, then unless your DM goes out of his/her way to enforce strict RAW in all of its bizarre glory, it's likely there will be some restrictions on how you can use WRT. There are two popular house rules, sometimes encountered together:

    1) White Raven Tactics can't be used on yourself. This is explicitly against the RAW (PHB Glossary p. 304 says you count as your own ally), but there's an argument that the designers intended this to be used for the benefit of other PCs in the party, as that's what most White Raven maneuvers are designed to do. Allowing yourself to act twice in the same round feels selfish and against the spirit of the discipline. If this is the case, consider swapping out the Sun School or Shadow Blade feat for the Trickery Devotion (Complete Champion). Your duplicate "ally" can then use WRT on you. However, this is just as likely to get books thrown at your head. Your best course of action is to trade in Shadow Blade or Sun School for Shape Soulmeld: Blink Shirt, take another level of Crusader at 19th, and then Master of Nine 4 at 20th level, picking up Shadow Blink instead of Shadow Jaunt. You get three shadow pounces per round, and can use WRT to give a spellcaster in the party an extra turn every round.

    2) White Raven Tactics an only be used once per round. While just this restriction still leaves the door open for using it on yourself, you don't get an infinite number of turns in the round. Then again, with four full attacks every round, it's not exactly ruining a melee build that can dish out what could reasonably be considered a pretty decent amount of whoopass. So enjoy your four full attacks, and maybe snag a fifth with Leaping Flame. If the DM combines both 1) and 2), see how he likes watching the wizard/cleric/druid in your party to smack the Win button twice instead of once.

    Of course, if your DM is insane enough to allow WRT to be used on yourself for every initiative count... there is a third problem that might need to be addressed, as the rules don't really cover what happens when the initiative count goes into negative numbers. We know that with a large enough Dex penalty, initiative counts can go into the negatives, so in theory if you keep lowering your initiative count to the number below the current count, you could keep going down to negative infinity, or until Pun-Pun shows up to bitch-slap you back into the normal timestream. However, I think the combat rules do address this on page 133 of the PHB:

    "When everyone has had a turn, the combatant with the highest initiative acts again, and steps 4 and 5 repeat until combat ends."

    What this means is that you can keep using WRT up until the last person in the combat who hasn't acted yet takes his turn. At that point, the argument would be that the round ends and the initiative count starts over from the highest initiative count. Even if you still have a turn coming up on the next count, everyone has had a turn (you moreso than most!), so the round ends and a new one begins. More worrisome for you, if your last WRT put you at a very low or negative initiative count, that becomes your count for the new round, and you don't get to act until after everyone else has gone. The fix for this is to keep using WRT up until you are acting on the same count as the last creature that hasn't acted yet, and declare that you are delaying your turn until the next round. You can then reset your initiative count to match whoever goes first, and start another series of turns, stopping to delay again at the person acting last. This means it will be hard to predict how many turns you will get in a round, particularly if everybody's initiative count winds up close to each other, but you can mitigate this by having an ally delay his action to initiative count to 1. (Technically, since the delay rules don't specify a bottom boundary, you could have an ally reduce their count to -99 or negative nine million or negative infinity... but you've probably got enough books flying at your head already, so don't push it.)


    Spoiler: Sources
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    Champions of Ruin: Craven
    Complete Champion: Spiritual Connection ACF
    Complete Mage: Arcane Hunter ACF
    Complete Warrior: Swashbuckler, Sun School
    Drow of the Underdark: Hit-and-Run Fighter
    Exemplars of Evil: Invisible Fist ACF
    Lords of Madness: Darkstalker
    Oriental Adventures: Monk bonus feats (p. 19)
    Races of Destiny: Able Learner
    Races of the Dragon: Dragonborn of Bahamut, Dragon Tail
    Tome of Battle: Warblade, Crusader, Adaptive Style, Extra Granted Maneuver, Shadow Blade
    Unearthed Arcana: Wilderness Rogue variant, Feat Rogue variant
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