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  1. - Top - End - #61
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    My thoughts are just the opposite: I have never penalized a melee character because she didn't adequately explain where she got her greatsword from other than "I bought it." I'm assuming due to the nature of the class, hippogriffs exist and are available. If you have a legal means to obtain a hippogriff, which includes purchase by cold hard cash, then as a judge I'm happy.
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  2. - Top - End - #62
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    Troacctid's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    I'm with Piggy here. There's a listed price for hippogriffs, and they're established to be available in the region, so you should be able to buy a hippogriff egg for 2000 gp or a foal for 3000, just like you'd buy any other item, and then rear it with Handle Animal or pay a trainer 1000 gp to rear it for you.

    Backstory can be used to explain the character's relationship with her beloved hippogriff, but I don't see why that would be any more necessary than e.g. explaining how a Shadowdancer first learned how to dance.
    Last edited by Troacctid; 2016-04-04 at 12:33 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #63
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    I wish I'd put more thought in my build. It's finished and I put many hours of work in it but next to the (back)story it is just a normal decent build. Don't want that to be my first build. Next time I'll make something really cool but I won't compete sadly

  4. - Top - End - #64
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    Thurbane's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    I have two different ideas, not sure if I'll get a chance to submit one or not.

  5. - Top - End - #65
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    Devil

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    The statement of my criteria is there. Like it or not, it is what I'm looking for. Build to it or not, it's your choice. It's not changing however.

    Think on it that it's a particular magic item that's integral to your build. If you cannot make that item yourself, you have typically been penalised over and above being item dependent as well as being DM dependent. Here, unless you can make that backstory interesting enough, I'm looking for some mechanics that will let you have said Hippogriff. I can think of one way that EVERY character can manage at least, so It should be a good story to make those points.

    See it as a bonus for meeting, rather than a penalty for not meeting if it suits you better.
    Last edited by Vaz; 2016-04-05 at 02:55 AM. Reason: I

  6. - Top - End - #66
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaz View Post

    See it as a bonus for meeting, rather than a penalty for not meeting if it suits you better.
    As you observed yourself, these two things are identical.
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV. Play as me!


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  7. - Top - End - #67
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    Devil

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Quote Originally Posted by Amphetryon View Post
    As you observed yourself, these two things are identical.
    But Blizzard* and World of Warcraft showed that the two have entirely different effects on people.

    *They originally penalised people for playing too long with experience penalties. People got angry. So they rewrote the code, and sold it as getting a log in bonus each day for a duration to XP gaining. It was a miracle! No net difference to what people got, but gave Blizzard the kudos for playing only short stints and social responsibility or some such nonsense.

  8. - Top - End - #68
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaz View Post
    But Blizzard* and World of Warcraft showed that the two have entirely different effects on people.

    *They originally penalised people for playing too long with experience penalties. People got angry. So they rewrote the code, and sold it as getting a log in bonus each day for a duration to XP gaining. It was a miracle! No net difference to what people got, but gave Blizzard the kudos for playing only short stints and social responsibility or some such nonsense.
    How nice for Blizzard.
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV. Play as me!


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  9. - Top - End - #69
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    Devil

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Oh sass. I bet that was cute back when you 12.

    Lack of mechanical difference isn't the same as a Psychological difference.

  10. - Top - End - #70
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Hmm, no sure I'll be able to cobble together a build by the deadline. I may be able to judge, but I'll have to see what time I can find for it. My position on hippogriff acquisition will remain a Super Secret For British Eyes Only Ultra Top Mystery until such a time as I figure out if I care about it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vaz View Post
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  11. - Top - End - #71
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Yeah. Good luck, contestants.
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV. Play as me!


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  12. - Top - End - #72
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Darrin's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Submitted. Although I think I still have time to send in about a dozen or so last-minute revisions... ugh. I think I prefer it to when I procrastinate up to the last minute. It doesn't give me any time to second-guess myself and worry about stupid mistakes.

    Is it too late to get into a rules hullabaloo about falling object damage? There's two ways to calculate it: DMG or Rules Compendium. I wasn't sure if the Chair had expressed a preference.

  13. - Top - End - #73
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Rules Compendium takes precedence in games that use it. Granted, not every game uses it, but considering that it is an allowed source for this contest, I'd expect a build that relies on it not being used to be considered less elegant than a build that is compatible with it.

  14. - Top - End - #74
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    Rules Compendium takes precedence in games that use it. Granted, not every game uses it, but considering that it is an allowed source for this contest, I'd expect a build that relies on it not being used to be considered less elegant than a build that is compatible with it.
    There's an argument about precedence when you consider the core books have been reprinted after the Rules Compendium without some of the changes. But the only person insisting on that argument hasn't been posting.

    Ok, well, this isn't covered well by either the DMG or Rules Compendium: does a creature always fall a maximum of 150' on the first round, or can they fall farther if accelrated, by... oh, let's say an extremely enthusiastic hippogriff?

  15. - Top - End - #75
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Build submitted. That's the most work I can remember putting into an Iron Chef entry. Really hope it ends up doing well, it's one of those builds that I could see landing at either extreme. I might try to throw together an entry for my second idea as well, as it can probably be completed a lot more quickly.

    EDIT: Woo! Got the second build in. Looking forward to seeing what everyone else came up with for this SI.
    Last edited by WhamBamSam; 2016-04-10 at 01:00 PM.

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  16. - Top - End - #76
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Number 1 (sorry, no witty commentary this month)

    Quote Originally Posted by Vultag Thunderkeg
    Vultag Thunderkeg



    Race: Gold Dwarf
    Build Stub: Sim.Barbarian 1/Cob.Monk 2/Cl.Cleric 1/Fighter 1/Great Rift Skyguard 2/Drunken Master 2/Artificer 3/Great Rift Skyguard +8
    Multiclass Penalty: Yes (13th-20th, add Otyugh Hole + Dragonslayer 1 instead of Artificer 3 to avoid).
    Languages: Common, Riftspeak (Dwarven), Undercommon, Auran
    Alignment: LN
    Ability Scores:
    Ability Score Racial Points 4th 8th 12th 16th 20th
    Strength 16 10 17 18 19 20
    Dexterity 10 -2 4
    Constitution 16 +2 6
    Intelligence 14 6
    Wisdom 12 4 13
    Charisma 10 2

    Spoiler: Backstory
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    Vultag was praying in the temple when the news arrived. Runemaster Gwillar appeared in one of the transepts and beckoned him over to a private alcove with stubby finger. Gwillar was always somber and stoic, but his chiseled face was even more stonelike than usual. After a brief moment of grave silence, Gwillar shook himself, breaking the sharp lines of his face into a deep grimace.

    "There is no easy way to say this," said Gwillar. "Sky pirates attacked four riftedge towers along the Silverskull Rim yesterday. Red Wizards looking for slaves. They were defeated, but there were heavy losses among the Skyguard. Your brother was one of the fallen."

    Vultag could not feel his legs, his arms. He tried to speak, but it took a moment to get his mouth to work. He was able to stammer, "But... the b... the body... my mother! She ... she could pay..."

    Gwillar barely shook his head, but the slight motion carried a mountain's weight of irrefutable finality. "His body could not be recovered. I am sorry, Vultag."

    Cold, so cold inside. Vultag's muscles were still numb, still refusing to move. He should hit something, very hard, or burn something. Not now, maybe later. He searched his body, looking for anger, vengeance, rage... it wasn't there. Not yet. But it would come, and there would be time for smashing, burning, and raging. For right now... "I need to see my mother."

    Gwillar nodded. "Go."

    Underhome was always crowded and loud, but now even more so. The Deep Lords had called their shieldbearers, and the caverns echoed not only with hammer and anvil, but now with the sound of marching boots, armor plates clapping on chainmail, and hammers banging on shields. War was in the rocks, and you could feel it through your boots, vibrating along the tunnels. The merchants were also louder: armies needed provisions, gear, and weapons. If you weren't going with the flow of traffic, then the tunnels were effectively blocked by the overburdened pack lizards, plodding along shoulder-to-shoulder, dragging wagons behind them that barely cleared the tunnel roofs. The Thunderkeg warehouses were no different: wagons and packlizards everywhere, merchants shouting at loaders and drivers to fit one more box, one more basket, one more barrel. Vultag expected to find his mother there, the loudest of all, but she wasn't. He checked the offices, but Master Yarrek told him she'd gone home.

    The runelanterns were all dimmed but that's where he found her. Boggs, her personal secretary, showed him into her chamber.

    The first thing she did was hug him, which suprised Vultag. After that, it was all business.

    "You went to the warehouses?" she asked.

    "Yes. Master Yarrek told me they are ahead of schedule, 32 wagons were going out today, 20 more tomorrow."

    "Good, good. And the earthsilk shipment?"

    "200 bolts arrived this morning."

    And so on. Shipments. Deliveries. Suppliers. Purchase orders. Anything and everything to keep her busy, to keep her mind from thinking about what she'd lost. After several hours of this, she managed to exhaust herself. Suddenly sinking into a chair, she said, "Enough. Vultag. One last thing... I can't... not yet. Maybe in a few days. I need you to take care of something."

    "Of course."

    "Skycaptain Biro was here earlier. I... I couldn't. First your father, now your brother... I just couldn't."

    Vultag nodded. His brother's things. "I'll take care of it."

    The Skycaptain was happy to see him, or at least put up a good cheerful facade over the somber reserve of an old soldier. Biro asked, "How's your mother?"

    "As well as can be expected. Keeping busy with work."

    "Same as us lot. Got time to share a mug?"

    "Does Moradin like hammers?"

    Vultag spent the rest of the day, emptying mugs and swapping stories with the Skyguard. Maybe it was the alcohol, but that's where he felt the first spark... just an ember, but he could feel it. Burning. Anger. Vengeance. But not now. He had to get his brother's things and get back to his mother.

    Biro showed him into the barracks. His brother's footlocker had already been packed up and was ready to go. "One last thing," Biro said, almost a whisper. "Guthook."

    "The hippogriff? She survived?"

    Biro nodded. "Almost lost an eye, but the Peacehammers managed to patch up the rest of her."

    "Show me!"

    Biro led him into the stables. Vultag almost lost a finger when he approached too quickly and Guthook snapped at him, but once the hippogriff recognized his scent, she lowered her head with an apologetic cluck.

    "Will she take another rider?" asked Vultag.

    Brio shrugged. "Haven't tried yet."

    Vultag ran his fingers along the hippogriff's neck, and felt that ember flicker, a little brighter. "You have someone to feed her, exercise her?"

    Biro laid a hand on Vultag's shoulder. "So long as a single stone of this riftedge tower is left standing, a Thunderkeg will be welcome here."

    The ember flared into a geyser of hot flame, but it also felt like a white-hot axe splitting him in half. "I can't... my mother. First my father, now my brother... it would destroy her."

    Biro nodded. "I know. But it had to be said. We all do our duty, in our own way, be it with axe, prayerbook, or abacus."

    For the next tenday, Vultag helped his mother with the warehouse, running messages to Master Yarrek, helping with the loading, pitching in whenever they needed another pair of hands. Having a priest of Vergadain on hand was also useful: contracts could always use another blessing, a joke from the Laughing God to put a client at ease, a quick divination on a new business venture. When his mother was finally tired enough to sleep, he'd sneak off to the stables to feed Guthook, rub down her feathers, and make sure she got enough exercise. The fire inside him was still there, cutting him in half, but Vultag discovered that his racial disposition to consume large quantities of alcohol was surprisingly effective in keeping that fire dampened. His mother was so busy with work, she didn't notice, as always.

    However, Boggs did notice, as always, and that was about the same as his mother noticing.

    One morning, as Vultag reported for duty, he found his mother sunken into her chair, already cradling a half-empty bottle of firewine. "Is it true?" she demanded. "You've been to the stables?"

    Vultag nodded. "To feed Guthook. She needs grooming, exercise."

    "The Skyguard can do that well enough. Do you need riding spurs to feed a hippogriff? A drogue wing?"

    Vultag looked at his feet and said nothing.

    "Oh Vultag... you were the dutiful son. Two sons, one for his Skyguard, one for the Laughing God. That's the deal I made with your father. Have I lost you as well?"

    "No, mother. I am sworn to Vergadain, the Lord of Coins. I am honored to bring the fortune and blessings of the Merchant King to our family. I live to serve the Laughing God."

    "This is not a question of duty. I am asking about desire. Do you want this?"

    Vultag could feel the fire inside tearing him in half. He was sworn to Vergadain, but he could feel the fire growing stronger every day. Loyalty, duty, and honor were his entire life, his entire purpose, his entire being. His brother went to the Skyguard, he went to the church. That was the deal. He had accepted it, lived with it. But now... his father and brother were dead. He had Thunderkeg blood flowing in his veins. And the Thunderkegs had always been Skyguards.

    He lifted his head and stared his mother in the eye. "I want to dive onto our enemies and cleave their skulls with my axe. I want to wash my hands in their blood. I want the Red Wizards to look up into the sky with fear in their eyes. When my shadow falls on them, I want them to run in terror. I can feel it burning inside me. It's in my blood."

    There was a flash of a smile that tugged at his mother's lips, so quick that Vultag almost missed it. Then he saw tears in her eyes, like squeezing water from a stone, he couldn't quite believe it. She said, "It's your father's blood. And as he liked to say, there's always a Thunderkeg in the Skyguard. If this is what you want, then so be it."

    Vultag wasn't quite sure if he was still in the real world or had fallen into some nightmarish dream. "But... the church! Runemaster Gwillar..."

    "Will no doubt be quite satisfied if I make a large donation to the church. Don't get all mawkish with me, or I'll change my mind! Now, give me a hug and then go see Biro. I imagine there's quite a bit of training you need to catch up on."

    His mother must have already spoken to Biro, because when Vultag got to the riftedge tower, Guthook was already saddled and waiting.


    Spoiler: Build Progression
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    Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
    1st Simple Barbarian 1 +1 +2 +0 +0 Bluff 2(cc), Handle Animal 4, Jump 4, Ride 4, Know:Local 1(cc), Know:Nature 1(cc), Tumble 2(cc) Power Attack Favored Enemy: Aberrations, Pounce (Spirit Lion Totem)
    2nd Cobra Strike Monk 1 +1 +4 +2 +2 Bluff 2, Handle Animal 4, Jump 5(+1), Ride 4, Know:Arcana 2(+2), Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Tumble 5(+3) Dodge Flurry of Blows, AC Bonus, Unarmed Strike
    3rd Cobra Strike Monk 2 +2 +5 +3 +3 Bluff 2, Handle Animal 4, Jump 6(+1), Ride 4, Know:Arcana 5(+3), Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Religion 1(+1), Tumble 6(+1) Mobility, Toughness Evasion
    4th Cloistered Cleric 1 +2 +5 +5 +3 Bluff 2, Diplomacy 4(+4), Handle Animal 4, Jump 6, Ride 5(+2cc), Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1(+1), Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1(+1), Know:Religion 1, Tumble 5 Great Fortitude, Knowledge Devotion (Dungeoneering), Trickery Devotion Turn Undead (3/day), Deity: Vergadain (Dwarf, Trickery, Knowledge)
    5th Fighter 1 +3 +7 +3 +3 Bluff 2, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 5(+1), Jump 6, Ride 8(+3), Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Tumble 6 Mounted Combat
    6th Great Rift Skyguard 1 +4 +9 +5 +3 Bluff 2, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 6(+1), Jump 8(+2), Ride 9(+1), Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Tumble 6 Roofwalker Axes From the Sky
    7th Great Rift Skyguard 2 +5 +10 +6 +3 Bluff 2, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 7(+1), Jump 10(+2), Ride 10(+1), Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Tumble 6 Hippogriff Steed I, Skyhook
    8th Drunken Master 1 +5 +12 +8 +3 Balance 5(+5), Bluff 2, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 7, Jump 10, Ride 10, Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Tumble 7(+1) Drink Like a Demon, Improvised Weapons
    9th Drunken Master 2 +6 +13 +9 +3 Balance 5, Bluff 5(+3), Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 7, Jump 10, Ride 10, Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Tumble 10(+3) Roof-Jumper Stagger
    10th Artificer 1 +6 +13 +9 +5 Balance 5, Bluff 5, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 7, Jump 10, Ride 10, Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Spellcraft 1(+1), Tumble 10, UMD 5(+5) Scribe Scroll Artificer Knowledge, Artisan Bonus, Disable Trap, Item Creation
    11th Artificer 2 +7 +13 +9 +6 Balance 5, Bluff 5, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 7, Jump 10, Ride 10, Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Spellcraft 1, Tumble 10, UMD 11(+6) Brew Potion
    12th Artificer 3 +8 +14 +10 +6 Balance 5, Bluff 5, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 7, Jump 10, Ride 10, Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Spellcraft 1, Tumble 10, UMD 15(+4), Skill Trick: Collector of Stories 2(+2) Craft Wondrous Item, Improved Bull Rush
    13th Great Rift Skyguard 3 +9 +14 +10 +7 Balance 5, Bluff 5, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 8(+1), Jump 11(+1), Ride 10, Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Spellcraft 1, [B]Tumble 11(+2cc)[B], UMD 15, Skill Trick: Collector of Stories 2 Ride-By Attack Bonus Mounted Combat Feat
    14th Great Rift Skyguard 4 +10 +15 +11 +7 Balance 5, Bluff 5, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 9(+1), Jump 12(+1), Ride 10, Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Spellcraft 1, Tumble 12(+2cc), UMD 15, Skill Trick: Collector of Stories 2 Fly-By Attack
    15th Great Rift Skyguard 5 +11 +15 +11 +7 Balance 5, Bluff 5, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 10(+1), Jump 13(+1), Ride 10, Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Spellcraft 1, Tumble 13(+2cc), UMD 15, Skill Trick: Collector of Stories 2 Shock Trooper Hippogriff Steed II
    16th Great Rift Skyguard 6 +12 +16 +12 +8 Balance 5, Bluff 5, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 10, Jump 14(+1), Ride 11(+1), Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Spellcraft 1, Tumble 14(+2cc), UMD 15, Skill Trick: Collector of Stories 2 Drogue Charge
    17th Great Rift Skyguard 7 +13 +16 +12 +8 Balance 5, Bluff 5, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 10, Jump 15(+1), Ride 12(+1), Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Spellcraft 1, Tumble 15(+2cc), UMD 15, Skill Trick: Collector of Stories 2 Spirited Charge Bonus Mounted Combat Feat
    18th Great Rift Skyguard 8 +14 +17 +13 +8 Balance 5, Bluff 5, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 10, Jump 16(+1), Ride 13(+1), Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Spellcraft 1, Tumble 16(+2cc), UMD 15, Skill Trick: Collector of Stories 2 Martial Study: Shadow Stride Hippogriff Steed III
    19th Great Rift Skyguard 9 +15 +17 +13 +9 Balance 5, Bluff 5, Diplomacy 4, Handle Animal 10, Jump 17(+1), Ride 14(+1), Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Spellcradft 1, Tumble 17(+2cc), UMD 15, Skill Trick: Collector of Stories 2 Glide For Distance
    20th Great Rift Skyguard 10 +16 +18 +14 +9 Balance 5, Bluff 5, Handle Animal 10, Jump 18(+1), Ride 15(+1), Know:Arcana 5, Know:Dungeon 1, Know:Local 1, Know:Nature 1, Know:Planes 1, Know:Religion 1, Spellcraft 1, Tumble 18(+2cc), UMD 15, Skill Trick: Collector of Stories 2 Skyguard Catapult


    Spoiler: Spells and Infusions
    Show

    Cleric Spells per Day
    Level 0lvl 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
    4th 3 2+1 - - - - - - - -

    Typical Cleric Spells Prepared
    0lvl: create water, guidance, mending
    1st: blade of blood (PHBII), bless, magic weapon{D}

    Artificer Infusions per Day
    Level 0lvl 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
    10th 3 - - - - - - - - -
    11th 4 - - - - - - - - -
    12th 4 2 - - - - - - - -

    Typical Artificer Infusions Prepared
    1st: lesser armor enhancement, pending potion (Magic of Eberron), personal weapon augmentation, spell storing item
    2nd: armor enhancement, swift ready (Forge of War)

    Spoiler: Levels 1-5
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    Vultag starts as a Simple Barbarian, which trades Rage away for some Ranger abilities. I knew I wanted to focus on charging, so I needed to get Pounce into the build, and trading Fast Movement for Spirit Lion Totem was the easiest way to do that. But I also knew he'd need to be lawful for Monk/Drunken Master, and I didn't like the idea of an alignment change. Lawful barbarians lose rage, but if there was never any rage to begin with, why not just start lawful? I see this as Vultag's father grooming him for the Skyguard, training him in riding, animal handling, and martial weapons before making the agreement with his mother. Vultag turned out to not quite have the right temperament for a typical battlerager, and entered a monastery dedicated to Vergadain to please his mother. Favored Enemy: Aberrations dovetails nicely with the Gold Dwarf racial bonus against aberrations. After his father dies, Vultag's brother ably fulfills the family obligation to the Skyguard, and Vultag enters the clerical orders. When his brother dies, Vultag finds that his heart really belongs with the skyguard, and switches to Fighter to complete his mounted combat training.

    In combat, Vultag plays mostly as a monk, but he can combine Pounce with Flurry of Blows. Power Attack isn't all that much help at this level, but it's there if he wants to two-hand a quarterstaff or greataxe. The Cloistered Cleric level brings in a little backup healing (wands of CLW/lesser vigor), and a few things that will pay off later: Great Fortitude from the Dwarf Domain, a little damage buff from Knowledge Devotion (picking up Knowledge: Dungeoneering as a class skill), and the Trickery Devotion for duplicate shenanigans. With the extra skill points, Vultag picks up the monster-based knowledge skills he's missing and some ranks in Diplomacy, which is there for two reasons: back up the party Face, and to negotiate with intelligent mounts (Skyguard hippogriffs start off with Int 2 but get smarter).


    Spoiler: Levels 6-9
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    Vultag enters Great Rift Skyguard and can now combine Axes from the Sky with Pounce. He can also Flurry with a quarterstaff (gripped two-handed for Power Attack), but given his not-so-stellar BAB he may be better off sticking with a greataxe. Once he's on the ground, Voltag is kinda stuck just hitting things, which is a problem we'll address later, but for right now there are worse things he could do than tag-teaming his enemies with a hippogriff. Roofwalker represents his familiarity with growing up in the heavily-populated caverns of Underhome and with the broken terrain common around the Great Rift: he's adept at moving across rough surfaces and dealing with sudden changes in elevation.

    Acquiring a Hippogriff: In his backstory, Vultag "inherits" a hippogriff from his brother. However, for practical reasons, you can also assume that Vultag just buys a young hippogriff and pays to have it trained. While this isn't the most elegant method to get a hippogriff, 4000 GP is only 30% of WBL at ECL 6. My original idea for this build involved taking a level of Beast Heart Adept to get a hippogriff as a monstrous companion, but I had to switch in Fighter 1 to pick up Mounted Combat.

    After developing a telepathic link with a stronger hippogriff, Vultag reconnects with his old drinking buddies at the monastery, and after getting really good at being drunk, this helps him solve the problem of what to do once he's on the ground. Stagger lets him charge without moving in a straight line, so he can now charge in any direction, move around obstacles, and even loop back to his original target. This means he can charge + Pounce every single round. Drunken Master may also fix another problem for Vultag: quaffing a potion is normally a standard action, but if the potion contains alcohol, then Drink Like a Demon can reduce that to a move action. Since Axes from the Sky is a standard action, he can squeeze in a potion buff on the first round before he drops in on an enemy.

    Speaking of dropping on an enemy from above... at the same time Vultag gets Stagger, Vultag also gets Roof-Jumper. Presumably the "Death from Above" option can be used to add extra damage to Axes from the Sky, +1d6 for every 10' Vultag falls after the first 10'. However, there are some rules issues with this, namely "You cannot use any ability to slow your fall (such as the monk's slow fall ability, or the feather fall spell) while attacking in this manner." By strict RAW, the drogue wing isn't an ability, it's a piece of equipment. However, there two problems with this argument: 1) "ability" is not an explicitly defined game term that only refers to class abilities, so it's entirely possible that equipment can give you abilities, and 2) it flies against basic common sense, as the drogue wing is deployed just before your attack and it must be slowing your fall because you don't take any falling damage. So unless the DM is going out of his way to be flexible on this point, it's probably not possible to combine Axes from the Sky with Roof-Jumper. On the other hand, this gives Vultag something else to do with Skyhook: he can dive down on the first round, get back up on his hippogriff, and then drop down again the old-fashioned way via "Death From Above", adding the Landing property to his armor (via infusion or otherwise) to negate the falling damage.

    Now if he could only find a way to re-fold that drogue wing...


    Spoiler: Levels 10-14
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    Vultag's interest in arcane magic takes him on a detour into Artificer as he looks for new ways to get the most out of his equipment. Yes, I know Artificer is an Eberron-only class, but the rune magic in FRCS doesn't quite do what I need it to do, and flavor-wise Artificer is very, very close to what the dwarves are supposed to be doing with rune magic anyway. At least, it made more sense than three levels of Assassin.

    The first level of Artificer adds Scribe Scroll and 1st level infusions. Lesser armor enhancement gives him access to the Landing property (+4000 GP, MIC) and the Quickness property (+5000 GP, MIC), if he doesn't have them already. This allows him to ignore 60' of falling damage or increase his land speed by +5' (or +10' when charging). Personal weapon augmentation gives him access to the Valorous property (+1 enhancement, Unapproachable East) if he doesn't have it already. Pending potion allows him to delay a potion effect, and spell storing item may become more important later. The second level of Artificer adds Brew Potion, which helps fix the problem of finding a source for alcoholic potions. But it's the third level of Artificer that Vultag has been waiting for, which gives him access to swift ready (Forge of War p. 117). This solves his biggest problem with the drogue wing, and here's the relevant text:

    "At any time before the spell expires, you can, as a swift action, cause the affected equipment to instantly appear on your body or in your grasp, as though you had taken the time to properly don and prepare it."

    This infusion allows Vultag to refold his drogue wing as a swift action. He can now use Skyhook to climb back up on his hippogriff and drop down again with Axes from the Sky. He also has multiple ways to cast swift ready on his drogue wing: two 2nd level infusions per day (he can stack multiple castings on the same object), potions/oils of swift ready, spell storing item infusions, or by using wands. The sticking point here is the 1 minute casting time, which makes it difficult to cast during combat. However, Vultag now has Craft Wondrous Item, so he can create Glyph Seals (1000 GP, MIC) to activate swift ready as a free action, or he can create his own enchanted drogue wing with an unlimited use-activated swift ready. DMG Guidelines suggest this should cost about (2 x 3 x 2000) = 12000 GP, or possibly just 6000 GP because the duration is 24 hours (ok, that's probably a stretch). Oh, and something else he can use Craft Wondrous Item to create fairly cheaply: Feather Token: Tree for 20d6 falling object damage.

    So, now that the drogue wing can be used repeatedly during the same combat, Vultag returns to Great Rift Skyguard. Ride-By Attack doesn't do all that much but helps us get Spirited Charge later. Fly-By Attack allows him to use Axes from the Sky + Pounce and then glide to a safer distance where his opponent can't full attack him, and after that Stagger allows him to move wherever he likes within 50'. If Vultag would rather return to the air, he can reset his drogue wing with a swift action, raise a dwarven buckler-axe over his head as a free action (using the rule in Complete Warrior to switch his racial weapon familiarity from the urgrosh to the buckler-axe), Guthook can grab him with Skyhook, and he's ready to drop down again with Axes from the Sky on the same round.


    Spoiler: Level 15 "Sweet Spot"
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    At this level, Vultag unlocks his "signature move": fake dive-bombing dwarves. The duplicates created by the Trickery Devotion gain a Strength score (one half of Vultag's) and can perform combat actions... such as Axes from the Sky! Round one, drop Fake Dwarf #1. Round two, Fake Dwarf #1 continues to charge + Stagger + Pounce from the ground, and Vultag trades in his three Turn Undeads for Fake Dwarf #2 to drop in from above. Round three, Vultag can drop down himself, or if he gets his hands on a Nightstick (7500 GP, Libris Mortis), send down Fake Dwarf #3. The half Strength score takes some of the sting out of the duplicates (Strength is 9ish at this level unless Vultag does a little Drinking Like a Demon), but if he can buff his Strength up to 26 (with items/infusions), then they can Power Attack for full BAB and Shock Trooper the attack penalty over to AC, and what do they care if they get hit?

    Also at 15th level, Guthook improves with Hippogriff Steed II. In addition to higher Strength, Intelligence, and Natural Armor, her fly speed improves to 110' (good). At 7 Hit Dice, she also gains a feat, so she'll take Improved Flight (Races of the Wild) to improve her maneuverability to (perfect). After grabbing Vultag with Skyhook, this allows her to quickly climb to more interesting altitudes (that is, more damage from Roof-Jumper or falling objects). Wingover is now redundant, so check with your DM if you can retrain her feats, maybe swap Dodge/Wingover for Fly-By Attack/Great Fly-By Attack.


    Spoiler: Levels 16-20
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    Vultag continues to finish off Great Rift Skyguard. Drogue Charge adds a little more variety to his charges on the ground. After re-folding his drogue wing, he can now hop over his opponent with an additional +1 attack bonus. At 17th, Spirited Charge adds another damage multiplier on a lance attack (on top of Power Attack and Valorous). At 18th, Vultag picks up Martial Study: Shadow Stride. This allows him to teleport back into the saddle as a move action after dropping down with Axes from the Sky if Guthook is still within 50', or skip the hippogriff entirely by teleporting 50' above his opponent and dropping down with Roof-Jumper. Also at 18th level, Guthook picks up SR 20, DR 5/magic, 9 Hit Dice, and another feat: Diving Charge (Races of the Wild). At 19th level, Glide for Distance allows Vultag to turn vertical falls (via Axes from the Sky, Jump Check, Shadow Stride) into triple the horizontal distance.

    Finally, at level 20, Vultag can combine Skyguard Catapult with Roof-Jumper. Guthook has Str 21 and can carry 459 lbs as a light load, so assuming Vultag + equipment starts somewhere around 400 lbs (2d6 damage), a 90' fall (8d6 damage) plus Roof-Jumper (8d6 damage) works out to be 18d6 damage (63 average). Vultag can increase the damage by increasing Guthook's carrying capacity and adding more weight. This can be done with infusions or magic items, such as barding with the Easy Travel enhancement (MIC), Belt of Wide Earth (MIC), Bridle of Burden-Bearing (A&EG), etc. He can also increase the height of the drop, up to 150', which is supposedly the maximum distance a creature can fall in one round (DMG p. 20). It's not clear to me if this is a terminal velocity that can be exceeded by flying straight down (Guthook can double-move straight down up to 440'), but the text for Skyguard Catapult does say "falling any vertical distance", which would appear to include distances above 150'. However, for the sake of argument, if we assume a 150' drop, Vultag + equipment weighs about 400 lbs, and Vultag activates a pending potion of enlarge person on the way down, he does 16d6 damage by weight (400 x 8 = 3200 lbs), 14d6 damage by height, and 14d6 damage by Roof-Jumper for 44d6 damage total (154 average). If you go by the DMG, damage by height is capped at 20d6. If you go by the Rules Compendium, all falling damage is capped at 20d6, so 20d6 + 14d6 for Roof-Jumper would be 34d6 (119 average), which is still pretty decent. Vultag can ignore 90' of the fall via the Landing property + Roofwalker's "Graceful Drop" (Jump Check DC 15) + Tumble Check DC 15, and he takes half damage for the remaining 60', so about 10.5 damage on average. Too bad those Trickery Devotion duplicates don't weigh anything, although they can still get 14d6 damage from Roof-Jumper.

    So, wrapping up the Secret Ingredient...

    Axes from the Sky: Vultag and his duplicates use this frequently, over and over again if need be.

    Hippogriff Steed I/II/III: Vultag doesn't do anything too fancy with his hippogriff, but it's an important part of his build, and the increases help keep his mount relevant in the mid/higher levels.

    Skyhook: For most of his career, this is how Vultag gets back in the saddle, using a Dwarven Buckler Axe as his shield (swapping racial weapon familiarity via Complete Warrior). Once he's reset his drogue wing with swift ready, this allows him to drop down again with Axes from the Sky or Skyguard Catapult.

    Bonus Mounted Combat Feats: Ride-By Attack is mostly redundant with Fly-By Attack, but Spirited Charge gives him something interesting to do while his duplicates are charging around on the ground, just before he drops down himself.

    Fly-By Attack: This didn't really come up much in the build, but it's nice to have available until Spirited Charge comes online.

    Drogue Charge: Somewhat overshadowed by Stagger, but it can be done more than once after resetting the drogue wing, and it's a good way to set up flanking with Vultag's allies/duplicates.

    Glide for Distance: Vultag did not manage to pick up any Fast Movement or speed bonuses, so being able to move quickly around the battlefield helps with his mobility.

    Skyguard Catapult: A bit of a rules headache, but loads of fun.


    Spoiler: Sources
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    Cityscape: Roofwalker, Roof-Jumper
    Complete Champion: Spirit Lion Totem, Knowledge Devotion, Trickery Devotion
    Complete Scoundrel: Collector of Stories
    Complete Warrior: Drunken Master, Shock Trooper, Dwarven Buckler Axe
    Eberron Campaign Setting: Artificer, infusions
    Forge of War: swift ready infusion
    Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting: Dwarf Domain
    Magic of Eberron: pending potion infusion
    Races of Faerun: Great Rift Skyguard, Drogue Wing
    Races of the Wild: Improved Flight, Diving Charge
    Tome of Battle: Martial Study, Shadow Stride
    Unearthed Arcana: Simple Barbarian, Cloistered Cleric, Cobra Strike Monk


    Spoiler: One Last Thing...
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  18. - Top - End - #78
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    Number 2, part 1
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivarr Deathborn
    Ivarr Deathborn
    CE Gold Dwarf Totemist 2/Battle Dancer 2/Death Master 3/Great Rift Skyguard 8/Horned Harbinger 5

    Spoiler
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    Ability Scores
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    32 Point Buy: 14 Str, 10 Dex, 12 Con, 12 Int, 8 Wis, 18 Cha
    After Racial Adjustments: 14 Str, 8 Dex, 14 Con, 12 Int, 8 Wis, 18 Cha
    All stat increases go into Cha

    Build Table
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    Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
    1st Totemist 1 +0 +2 +2 +0 Ride 4, Handle Animal 4, Knowledge (The Planes) 4, Jump 2cc, Tumble 2cc Azure Toughness Wild Empathy, Illiteracy
    2nd Totemist 2 +1 +3 +3 +0 Ride 5, Handle Animal 5, Knowledge (The Planes) 5, Perform (Dance) 1cc, Jump 2, Tumble 2 - Totem Chakra Bind (+1 capacity)
    3rd Battle Dancer 1 +2 +5 +5 +2 Ride 5, Handle Animal 5, Knowledge (The Planes) 5, Perform (Dance) 1, Jump 4, Tumble 5 Improved Unarmed StrikeB, Mounted Combat AC Bonus, Unarmed Strike
    4th Battle Dancer 2 +3 +6 +6 +3 Ride 5.5cc, Handle Animal 5, Knowledge (The Planes) 5, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 4, Tumble 5 - Dance of Reckless Bravery
    5th Death Master 1 +3 +6 +6 +5 Ride 6.5cc, Handle Animal 5, Knowledge (The Planes) 5, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 4, Tumble 5, Spellcraft 1 - Rebuke Undead, Undead Minion
    6th Death Master 2 +4 +6 +6 +6 Ride 7.5cc, Handle Animal 5, Knowledge (The Planes) 6, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 4, Tumble 5, Spellcraft 1 Open Least Chakra (Hands) -
    7th Death Master 3 +5 +7 +7 +6 [b]Ride 8cc[b], Handle Animal 5, Knowledge (The Planes) 8, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 4, Tumble 5, Spellcraft 1 Feats New Class Abilities
    8th Great Rift Skyguard 1 +6 +9 +9 +6 Ride 9, Handle Animal 6, Knowledge (The Planes) 8, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 5, Tumble 5, Spellcraft 1 - Axes From the Sky
    9th Great Rift Skyguard 2 +7 +10 +10 +6 Ride 10, Handle Animal 8, Knowledge (The Planes) 8, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 5, Tumble 5, Spellcraft 1 Multiattack Hippogriff Steed I, Skyhook
    10th Horned Harbinger 1 +7 +10 +10 +8 Ride 10, Handle Animal 8, Knowledge (The Planes) 8, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 5, Tumble 6.5cc, Spellcraft 1 Death DevotionB Bone Horns, Rebuke Undead, Death Domain
    11th Horned Harbinger 2 +8 +10 +10 +9 Ride 10, Handle Animal 8, Knowledge (The Planes) 8, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 5, Tumble 7cc, Spellcraft 1, Dismount Attack - Deathwatch, Animate Dead
    12th Great Rift Skyguard 3 +9 +10 +10 +10 Ride 13, Handle Animal 8, Knowledge (The Planes) 8, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 5, Tumble 7, Spellcraft 1, Dismount Attack Mounted MobilityB, Power Attack -
    13th Great Rift Skyguard 4 +10 +11 +11 +10 Ride 16, Handle Animal 8, Knowledge (The Planes) 8, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 5, Tumble 7, Spellcraft 1, Dismount Attack - Flyby Attack
    14th Great Rift Skyguard 5 +11 +11 +11 +10 Ride 17, Handle Animal 10, Knowledge (The Planes) 8, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 5, Tumble 7, Spellcraft 1, Dismount Attack - Hippogriff Steed II
    15th Great Rift Skyguard 6 +12 +12 +12 +11 Ride 18, Handle Animal 12, Knowledge (The Planes) 8, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 5, Tumble 7, Spellcraft 1, Dismount Attack Divine Might -
    16th Great Rift Skyguard 7 +13 +12 +12 +11 Ride 18, Handle Animal 15, Knowledge (The Planes) 8, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 5, Tumble 7, Spellcraft 1, Dismount Attack Tremendous ChargeB -
    17th Great Rift Skyguard 8 +14 +13 +13 +11 Ride 18, Handle Animal 18, Knowledge (The Planes) 8, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 5, Tumble 7, Spellcraft 1, Dismount Attack - Hippogriff Steed II
    18th Horned Harbinger 3 +15 +14 +14 +11 Ride 18, Handle Animal 18.5cc, Knowledge (The Planes) 8, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 5, Tumble 7, Spellcraft 1, Use Magic Device 1cc, Dismount Attack Extra Turning[supB[/sup], Improved Multiattack -
    19th Horned Harbinger 4 +16 +14 +14 +12 Ride 18, Handle Animal 20cc, Knowledge (The Planes) 8, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 5, Tumble 7, Spellcraft 1, Use Magic Device 1, Dismount Attack Extra TurningB -
    20th Horned Harbinger 5 +16 +14 +14 +12 Ride 18, Handle Animal 21cc, Knowledge (The Planes) 9, Perform (Dance) 5, Jump 5, Tumble 7, Spellcraft 1, Use Magic Device 1, Dismount Attack - Captain of Undeath

    Spellcasting and Meldshaping
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    Spells per Day/Spells Known
    Level Soulmelds Essentia Chakra Binds
    1st 2 2 0
    2nd 3 3 1
    6th 3 3 2

    Spells per Day/Spells Known
    Level 0lvl 1st 2nd
    5th 3 1 -
    6th 4 2 -
    7th 4 2 1
    *Does not take into account bonus spells for a high Int score.

    Level 6
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    “From death I am born anew. I gaze into the face of death and dance with the reaper upon the thread that dangles before oblivion. I dive headlong into the void and rise again with new life. From the Death-Womb I emerge, greater and mightier than before.”

    My mother died before she could give birth to me, they say. You’ll sometimes hear of women dying in childbirth, but she fell a few weeks short even of that. They had to cut me out of the womb, and the clerics apparently had a real job of keeping me alive.

    In the end I did survive and my father was finally able to bring me home. He made his living as a merchant and when I came of age I joined the business as a guard. I have a way with beasts and I was trained in the rituals of calling their spirits across the planes to join me in battle. Truth be told though; I’ll always be most pleased with the one that I found without even searching beyond the boundaries of the Great Rift itself. A mated pair of hippogriffs attacked the caravan and fought us to the bitter end, unwilling to allow us to continue along the road. We were able to slay them in the end, and seeing how viciously they had defended the area, it was guessed that their nest would be nearby. I was lucky enough to be the one to find the nest, and to do so just as the first of the eggs was hatching. A hatchling with red plumage and black hair emerged, gave me a quizzical look, and chirped expectantly. I took a bit of meat from my food bag, ground it up in a claw so it’d go down easier, then placed it into the mouth of the little hippogriff. “I’ll call you Myna,” I told her, stroking her neck feathers with one hand, as I signaled the others.

    ***

    Not every incident on the road went quite so smoothly. A few months later, I had ridden Myna out to scout the area surrounding the desert road that led toward Dambrath, when a sandstorm struck, seemingly out of nowhere. Before we could even land, we were blown away by the stinging wind. For what felt like leagues the wind and sand buffeted us until Myna finally crashed to earth, crying out in pain. I was able to crawl from the saddle, but my leg had been crushed by the impact, and Myna had fared even worse. The wing she had landed on was bent at an unsightly angle, and her hind legs had been crumpled beneath her by the landing. Worse, the sandstorm still raging about us and what I could make out of the sun was setting. I had no idea if or when the others would find us, and the chill of the desert night was already creeping over the land. Myna was thrashing and shrieking and I reached out my hand to her neck to still her. As she quivered against me in fretful terror, I could feel my hand going numb, whether from the cold or horror at what I was about to do, but the beast spirit flowing through me did not falter. My claws closed down upon her neck and she slumped down into the sand. “Go to your ancestors. Join their spirits,” I whispered as another slash opened her belly. I retched at the smell and the prospect of seeking warmth and shelter in such a way, but there was no alternative. I crawled inside and shivered in revulsion until exhaustion finally overwhelmed me and I slipped into darkness.

    I found myself standing before a terrible castle constructed of bones. A pair of enormous skeletal figures looked at me with fixed grins and gleaming eyes as they turned gears and the gates opened. Standing in the entrance hall was an dwarven woman pale as death, bright fangs glinting out from a beard streaked with stains of dark red. Her midriff was bare and her abdomen was scarred as if from some horrific gash. I stood transfixed as she seemed to glide across the floor of bones toward me and took me in her arms. About her neck she wore a pendant showing a laughing skull atop the head of a mace. She flashed her fanged smile again, sweeping me into a strange, wild dance. Through the halls and up the walls she led me. Past skeletons whose rattling bones seemed to play a rhythm that I couldn’t count but my feet followed all the same. Past rolling heads chanting the melody of some wordless dirge. Past ghosts and demons and monstrosities beyond my comprehension. Finally, we danced down along a thread of viscera that hung down into a seemingly endless chasm. When we reached the tip, she dipped me so that my blood-drenched beard was cast down over my eyes.

    When I cleared the hair out of my eyes, she was gone, and I found myself prostrated before a massive throne of skulls. I dared not lift my eyes to see who sat upon the seat, and left my head pressed against the brow of a skull in the floor below me. From every direction, a cacophony of voices chanted to me in a tongue that I did not know that I understood. “Glory to the Prince of Demons, the Lord of Undeath,” they cried. “Eat of his body and drink of his blood and new life awaits you. Emerge from the Death-Womb and be born again, greater and more terrible than ever before.”

    From out of the floor before me there rose a pillar of bones carved in the totemic likeness of a hippogriff and painted red and black by blood and offal. I had just enough time to muse that the hippogriff’s coloration looked like Myna’s, before the beast stepped down from the totem resolving into living flesh and blood, and I realized that it was indeed her. Trembling, I clambered onto her back, wrapped my arms about her neck and buried my face in her feathers as she took off towards a glimmer of what might have been daylight.

    I awoke with a start of horror and clambered out of Myna’s corpse, spilling onto the ground now being heated by the first rays of the desert sun. Even with the sandstorm having subsided, I couldn’t see the road, and knowing that I wasn’t likely to go far on a broken leg, wondered if my desperate bid for survival and the night’s ordeal had all been for naught, when suddenly, I heard the sound of something rising up from the ground behind me. I turned to see Myna’s skeleton walking towards me, the bones broken the night before magically repaired. It stopped in front of me, and her skull nuzzled against my shoulder in the way her head had in life, before continuing on a few paces to dig at the sand with her claws. After a moment the digging stopped and her beak clicked almost happily. I dragged myself over to the spot and looked down to see a thin black tome that had been buried in the sand. On its cover in red ink was the skull-mace that I remembered from my dream. With trembling hands, I stowed the book away and hauled myself into the saddle.
    Totemist is pretty front loaded, so even with stats that are less than ideal for the time being, Ivarr will manage alright. If not for multiclass penalties, I’d probably go Totemist 2/Death Master 3/Battle Dancer 1 through the first 6 levels and skip Battle Dancer 2 entirely, but such is life. At least it shores up your AC a bit. You’ll most likely use the Landshark Boots Totem Bind as your go-to offensive weapon until 6th level, unless full attacks with Unarmed Strikes and Girallon Arms are turning out to be very easy to come by. Once Ivarr's got his Hand Chakra open, he'll bind the Sphinx Claws there and the Girallon Arms to his Totem Chakra for a standard Totemist pouncer setup. Death Master’s Undead Minion ability says you can get any CR1 skeleton or zombie in place of the usual Wolf Skeleton or Troglodyte Zombie at the DM’s discretion. At 3HD, a Hippogriff Skeleton is CR1, so I made that choice for fluff reasons, though it’s hardly the end of the world from an optimization standpoint if the DM vetoes it.


    Level 11
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    I got some funny looks to say the least when I returned to the Rift covered in blood and gore on the back of an undead monstrosity, but they let it slide. I even found a cleric willing to fix my leg after some cajoling and a small donation to the church, though I couldn’t afford to have Myna resurrected. While I was waiting around in the church antechamber, I chatted up an old skyguard with his arm in a sling and his head wrapped in bandages partially covering what looked like a pretty nasty injury. A swollen purple bruise extended down from under the binding into his beard, but he seemed pretty jovial about the situation.

    “Had to do a Skyguard Catapult,” he laughed, “and my damn cleric went ’n’ got himself killed so I had to fly all the way back here for a proper patchin’ up. Ye should see the other guy though. Flat as a pancake!”

    From his description it sounded as though he’d been thrown out of his saddle in midair and landed on some brigand head-first. It didn’t exactly inspire a great deal of enthusiasm when he asked me if I’d like to join the skyguards, but after an hour or so of talking (it was a busy day at the church) and a bottle of brandy something convinced me to say yes.

    ***

    The signal sounded and I ran forward pulling a shield from my back, lifting it aloft to glint in the sun. My new hippogriff grabbed hold of it and we spiraled up into the sky to overlook the battlefield. I singled out a hulking orc from among the brigands and let the shield slip from my arm leaping from the saddle after it. As the wind whipped at my face and the ground loomed ever closer I thought, as I often did, of that desert night. I thought of my desperate plunge into death in hope of survival, of the mad dance of horror in my dream, of that thin thread of death overhanging oblivion, and I thought that I was dancing down that thread again. I saw the face of death staring at me from the looming ground.

    [i]“Emerge from the Death-Womb and be born again, greater and more terrible than ever before.”[/]

    My drogue wing unfurled and I let loose a barrage of claws and kicks upon the orc, who had noticed me dropping out of the air too late, perhaps distracted by the shield clattering to the ground a few feet away. He collapsed under the onslaught and as I landed in front of his dying form a pair of skeletons rushed up behind me to assist me out of my expended wing and into a new one, just before another bandit rushed forward to swing an axe at my head. I ducked under the blow and danced away laughing and lifted a second shield to my steed, plummeting down to strike elsewhere a moment later. I dove into death and rose again and again, while the brigands were not so fortunate.

    The enemy scattered before the rout, and soon the mountain pass was empty but for the warriors of the Rift and the dead or dying. As I absently watched my skeletons set about the menial task of repacking the drogue wings I’d used during the fight, the old commander stepped forward and clapped a hand on my shoulder.

    “Knew there was something special about you, boy!” He roared, raising a flask and taking a pull. “Moradin’s beard, but you fight like a mad demon, especially with all the dead followin’ ye around.” I managed a half-smile, but didn’t say anything. “Anyhow,” he continued, “looks as though the rabble were camped out near here. The big wigs want us to root around in the caves and see if we can find anything.”

    ***

    The cave I was directed toward didn’t seem a likely candidate for shelter, even for desperate brigands. It was cold, damp, and generally unpleasant. Still, I made my way into its depths, with Myna’s skeleton trotting along behind me. After twenty yards or so comprised of a single winding passage, we came to a fork. I had all but resolved to take the left path, which looked more spacious and hospitable when the skeletal hippogriff suddenly shot down the right at a gallop. Following after in bewilderment, I stumbled over the rough cave floor until suddenly coming upon a wide chamber of smooth, worked stone. At the center was a pedestal about which Myna’s skeleton was pacing and upon which sat a silver circlet set with four horns of bone and a black diamond pulsing with sinister energy at its center. I stepped toward it in trepidation, reaching out a hand toward it. I hesitated, but Myka’s skeleton was nudging my arm toward the pedestal and at her insistence, I touched my hand to one of the horns. Of its own volition the crown turned so that the black gem faced directly at me and the light within it surged forth to fill the entire chamber. I staggered back only to feel a presence behind me, and whirling, met the gaze of the same fanged woman from my dream that desert night, except that the skull on her pendant was not now set at the head of a mace, but upon a black field at the center of an outline of vertebrae in the suggestion of a cowl. She led me through a dance over the floor, the walls and the ceiling of the chamber in some unfathomable pattern, before finally arriving back before the crown, where she handed me off into another pair of arms. I gazed up into the face of a hooded figure - a skull sprouting four horns just like those of the crown. He led me once around the room in a plodding waltz that might as well have been a funeral march, then spun me toward the center of the chamber where the pedestal stood. “All shall one day know the embrace of the Lord of Bones,” the vampire woman whispered in my ear, “but we send you back once more, having gazed into the face of death to spread the Reaper’s will upon the earth.” The cloaked figure drew a scythe seemingly from nowhere and slashed four times, each leaving no more than a small gash upon my brow, but searing with pain as horns of bone sprouted out of the cuts into the likeness of the crown.

    I clutched my head and sank to my knees as the light faded and my dancing partners seemed to melt away. Rising to my feet, I looked toward the crown just in time to see it twinkle and then vanish into thin air.

    “Once more you dive into oblivion and once more you rise again. Each time you gaze into the face of death, be born once more out of its womb.”

    With that, the cavern began to collapse around me.
    Ivarr has entered the SI. With Make Whole, Desecrate, and Animate Dead as 2nd level Death Master spells, he can repair Drogue Wings that break and has a few skeleton lackeys who can save him actions by helping him out of a spent Drogue Wing and into a fresh one after an Axes From the Sky attack, as well as handle the tedious task of repacking Drogue Wings after a battle. Thanks to the Sphinx Claws Hand Chakra Bind, Ivarr can make a full attack with both his Unarmed Strikes and Girallon Arms claws on his Axes From the Sky attack, and as it’s only a standard action, he can take a move action to tumble 10ft activating a pair of Slippers of Battledancing before Skyhooking up into the saddle as a free action, so that he can to use his high Cha in place of Str on the attack and damage rolls (the bonus to damage then being doubled by Axes From the Sky). You’ll also use your move action to pull out a shield for Skyhook, since you’d rather not be wearing one most of the time so as to get Cha to AC from Battle Dancer. Ask your DM whether you need to actually be wearing the shield or just carrying it. If you only need to be carrying it, you can just drop it as a free action sometime after your Skyhook (perhaps off of your hippogriff to potentially deal some falling object damage), whereas if it has to actually be worn, you may need an extra skeleton or zombie to undo or cut the straps after your landing possibly adding a few extra things to the pile of Drogue Wings to be repaired with Make Whole. In any case, you’ll need a bunch of shields, light wooden ones if you can just drop them or bucklers if you need to keep the hand free to attack with on the charge itself, but you probably needn’t worry about splurging to make them Masterwork or anything fancy like that. The -1 ACP to Tumble is annoying due to how much we need to take it cross-class, but Ivarr will scrape the bonus he needs.

    We duck out of Skyguard briefly after two levels to enter Horned Harbinger. This means shifting from worshipping Orcus to worshipping Myrkul, but Faiths and Pantheons says that most Horned Harbingers serve other evil gods before touching the Crown of Horns and that Clerics of other gods retain their abilities. I also believe there’s some connection between the two in Faerun anyway. Horned Harbinger grants an additional natural attack which deals double damage on a charge (so triple on an Axes From the Sky charge), the Death Domain (promptly traded away for Death Devotion, which I believe is also multiplied by Axes From the Sky, though it’ll only apply to one of your natural weapons, probably either Unarmed Strikes or Bone Horns), a constant Deathwatch effect, and a SLA (meaning no material components) Animate Dead with a CL that stacks with the CL from Death Master, and tacks on your Cha mod for good measure. With Horned Harbinger not offering many skills that we’re actually interested in, we drop a few points on the Dismount Attack skill trick, which lets him attack as if charging (and hence pounce) as a standard action after succeeding on a fast dismount from a mount that has moved at least 10 ft during the round, giving a nice 1/encounter backup if Ivarr can’t pull off an Axes From the Sky attack for whatever reason.


    Level 15
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    Blazing lights flared in the pits of Myna’s eyes. Stringy, tough skin and muscle appeared over her bones, and the black hair and red feathers that I remembered sprouted from the flesh. Myna stood before me, living once more, and yet still bearing the traces of undeath. I embraced her feathered neck and she rubbed against my horns, squawking happily.

    “How was your visit with Grandma?” I asked jokingly. “Where did she take you this time?”

    “Just the training grounds,” she chirped.

    I grinned. If they’d sent Myna back on a fighting regimen, that meant that the rumors of war coming to the Great Rift were true and Myna wouldn’t need to spend another lunar cycle in the Death-Womb anytime soon. “Excellent. Well, you must be hungry after your trip, and it would be poor form to go into battle without making a sacrifice first.”

    Myna nuzzled her newly feathered neck against mine, then padded over to the altar of skulls behind me, where a young dwarf whimpered and struggled in vain against his restraints. Her beak slid under the dwarf’s beard, clamping down to open his jugular. She slurped up the blood that issued forth, then paused briefly as I touched the corpse causing its bones to slide free from the flesh and ropes that had bound them. Myna watched the skeleton step down from the altar to kneel before me, then returned to consume the rest of the dwarf’s body.

    ***

    We flew out to join the other skyguards, a host of the dead following along below, and I marveled as I often did at how little scrutiny I’d received. My horns were, I suppose, essentially hidden in plain sight. Why, after all, would they look out of place on a dwarf already sporting four glowing clawed arms. The undead raised more eyebrows, but as a Skyguard, there was a certain degree of eccentricity to be expected, and all but the most uptight clerics let it slide without comment. Just as well. Their time would come eventually, but I did intend to help them win their little war first.
    Four more levels of Skyguard. Ivarr picks up Divine Might to get an extra Cha to damage (a separate flat bonus which is multiplied separately, meaning that he now deals 4*Cha on his Axes From the Sky attacks) as well as Drogue Charge as a backup plan if his hippogriff is too busy to do a Skyhook (see below), and pumps ranks into ride so that he now passes fast mount/dismount checks on a 1, making Dismount Attack a reliable option as well.

    More importantly, with Great Rift Skyguard 5, we’ve reached Hippogriff Steed II, and with it, the signature trick of this build. Given that Great Rift Skyguard doesn’t actually give you a hippogriff, it got me thinking about various ways to obtain hippogriffs, and the sorts of hippogriffs that one could reliably acquire. This led me to a few rules questions which I sent along to our distinguished chairwoman.
    Quote Originally Posted by Heliomance
    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    Seeing as the Hippogriff Steed feature bonds you to a hippogriff you already had, is it possible to make a templated hippogriff (which is after all still a hippogriff) your special steed? Specifically, (since it's a type of hippogriff that's easier to ensure native access to), is a Hippogriff Zombie or Skeleton a valid choice of Hippogriff Steed?

    Assuming yes, would they cease to be mindless as a result of the intelligence increase, and would that result in getting feats? Since the feature says that the steed is a magical beast, would their type change, and would this result in a change of FHD with all that entails? Would a Skeleton Hippogriff Steed gain the ability to fly at Hippogriff Steed II, when fly speed improves to 110 (good)?

    On the opposite side of the coin if I have a regular hippogriff as a steed and I animate it after it dies, do the increased HD and non-Int numbers apply to the resulting undead?
    Yes to all.
    There you have it. Designating an animated Hippogriff Skeleton as our Hippogriff Steed we give it its Magical Beast type and ability to fly back along with a set of feats. This is nice enough on its own, but with a little downtime it can get downright silly. If you’ve got a month free, you can kill your Hippogriff, leaving the corpse of a living creature (complete with physical stat adjustments from Hippogriff Steed any previous iterations of the zombie or skeleton templates you’ve applied to it), reanimate the corpse as a zombie or skeleton, then spend a month training it back into a Magical Beast Hippogriff Steed. Since you need your hippogriff not to have the Single Actions Only special quality, and you need to clear the -2 to Dex, you should always have an iteration of the Skeleton template after an iteration of the Zombie template, but with enough time, you can drive the Hippogriff’s Str and Dex as high as you like by repeatedly Magical Beast-izing, killing, and reanimating said hippogriff. Its HD will always be the number set by Hippogriff Steed, as the feature sets that to a specific number (so the doubling of HD from any application of the Zombie template will be nullified), but as Hippogriff Steed says it increases Str to its given value, it presumably won’t decrease it if the creature’s Str score already exceeds that number. You’ll also get the bonus HP from animating on desecrated ground with an altar at least once and possibly each time you do the rigamarole (ask your DM whether said HP falls under the rules regarding bonuses from the same source). In addition, each reanimation clears its preexisting feats, and each time it regains its sentience it regains feats, so it’s possible that you can re-choose the feats each time. If so, this opens up a number of possibilities for our Hippogriff friend, though admittedly not as many at 7HD as at 9. I’ve included different such feat setups in a separate section below.

    Some DMs might say that killing a zombie or skeleton requires destroying the body so that it can’t be reanimated, even if it’s had its type changed back to Magical Beast. But once it becomes a Magical Beast it needs to do all the various things living creatures do, like eat and breathe. Thus, to avoid the need for overmuch DM adjudication and for the sake of fluff, I propose killing the hippogriff as follows. On the night of the new moon (a significant one to Orcus’ cult), Myna will take a sedative and step into the Death-Womb, which is a hollow compartment in the bloated gut of a statue of Orcus (with the horns of Myrkul sprouting from its head, natch) kept at the headquarters of Ivarr’s cult. The statue will then be sealed off so that Myna goes gently into the night without sustaining significant damage to the corpse she leaves behind, after which her body will be reanimated and then trained for a month to become a Hippogriff Steed (if your DM gets on your case about the body decomposing during this period, you’ve got Gentle Repose among your Death Master spells).

    Level 20
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    I was screaming towards the ground head first. My horns dug into the enemy’s neck and I tore and pounded at every inch of flesh I could reach, ending with a knee to the jaw as my drogue wing pulled me out of the dive at the last moment. Myna was shrieking a war cry and my skeletons scarcely had time to replace my wing before I had rushed off and used the new wing to lift myself up over the head of another victim tearing at him as I went. I took a sword cut across my arm, but ducked away from the blade, leapfrogging over the saddle of a zombified tiger to pounce on another enemy who had been hacking at it with an axe, feeling death course through me as I tore her limb from limb. I danced over the slaughter, around it, and through it. I kicked at the Death-Womb and was fed with the blood of my enemies. Newborn from the splendor of victory upon the fresh graveyard I delivered foe after foe to the embrace of the Reaper, and the dead were reborn alongside me, my brothers and sisters before the dead eyes of the Old Skull.

    ***

    As the fog of war cleared from the battlefield I picked up a lance from one of the enemy’s fallen cavalry, and signaled to Myna. Overlooking my legion of the dead, we flew to meet with the old commander whose great grey hippogriff was hovering not far off.

    “You’re a right terror, to be sure. Well done!”

    I inclined my head at the compliment. “How are things on your end?”

    He grimaced. “Lost a few. Hrothnar did a Skyguard Catapult and never came back up. Sihtric and Aelfwynn lost hippogriffs. Bunch o’ the newer lads got cut down.”

    “Comes with the territory for a Skyguard. It’s our lot to stare into the face of death. They blinked.”

    “You’re a morbid one. But I suppose you’re right… Say, what’s with the lance? Looks like one of theirs”

    “That’s the idea.” Myna flapped her wings and rushed toward the commander’s hippogriff. I braced the lance against her shoulder to make use of the strength born of her many trips through the realms of death. The point pierced the commander’s heart before the weapon splintered into pieces before the force of the blow. “I couldn’t have a shard of one of our lances found lodged inside you.”

    The blow had knocked him clear of the saddle, though Myna had ripped open the commander’s hippogriff as well a moment later. I watched him fall and, amusingly, land on a dwarf I hadn’t noticed on the ground, who had looked up from repacking his drogue wing to bear witness to the grizzly scene. The commander’s body landed on the upturned face, sending blood and debris flying.

    I stroked Myna’s neck affectionately. “I guess Skyguard Catapult is good for something after all.”
    We’ve picked up another Extra Turning and General of Undeath from Horned Harbinger and get Hippogriff Steed III from Great Rift Skyguard. We also pick up Drogue Charge, for situations where Myna’s actions are better spent on things besides Skyhook and have enough ranks in Ride to ensure success on a fast mount and/or dismount to set up a Dismount Attack or Axes From the Sky without needing to Skyhook for a standard action charge. Tremendous Charge is our second bonus Mounted Combat feat, and allows Ivarr an additional way to make use of Myna’s potentially obscene Str score. Other than that, it’s basically more of the same. The extra HD from Hippogriff Steed III open up a wider variety of options for Myna’s feats (see below), and we scrape the 4th iterative for the unarmed strike portion of Ivarr’s pounces.
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  19. - Top - End - #79
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    Number 2, part 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivarr Deathborn
    Hippogriff Feat Setups
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    We’re already potentially dealing with arbitrarily high Str, Dex, and NA on our hippogriff, so for completeness’ sake, here’s a section dedicated to the things you can do if allowed to pick out feats for your hippogriff steed. While it’s somewhat true that any Great Rift Skyguard could use these options were they allowed to choose their hippogriff’s feats and had the downtime to keep training new ones, that gets expensive in non-reanimated hippogriffs (indeed it’s somewhat expensive for reanimated hippogriffs if you’re shelling out on Black Onyx for non-SLA Animate Dead). Additionally, the ability to improve the same body through repeated cycles through reanimation and returning the Magical Beast type with Hippogriff Steed gives Ivarr and Myna an added incentive to bother with this nonsense, and the fact that mindlessness from the Zombie and Skeleton templates clear a creature’s feats gives an argument for being able to customize all of the hippogriff’s feats when it gets them back, whereas a Hippogriff Steed made from a regular hippogriff might be stuck with Dodge and Wingover and only get to choose feats at 6 and 9 HD. It is, I suppose, possible that Myna could be stuck with the Improved Initiative feat after being a skeleton, but even so that would allow for a bit more freedom, and many of these setups do leave feat slots open.

    To start off, here are some straightforward combat setups, assuming a relatively low-downtime campaign.

    1: Dodge
    3: Mobility
    6: Elusive Target
    9: Improved Flight

    This is essentially a setup for optimizing around Skyhook. With this, Myna can create some chaos as she provokes AoOs in the process of picking him up. With the +8 total AC from Mobillity and Ivarr’s Mounted Mobility (to say nothing of her higher NA and Dex), making attacks miss to trip enemies via Cause Overreach is feasible, and if Ivarr is Skyhooking from a flanked position one of those attacks is a guaranteed miss which gets diverted into the other enemy by Diverting Defense, and Ivarr can attempt to force another miss with Mounted Combat (assuming his check can actually exceed her AC). This is essentially viable for any Hippogriff Steed though, with the only change being the possible need to forego Improved Flight and delay Mobility and Elusive Target due Wingover being locked into the 3rd level feat slot.

    1: Willing Deformity
    3: Martial Study (Leading the Attack)
    6: Martial Stance (Leading the Charge)
    9: Deformity (Madness)

    This is in essence two separate pairs of feats that you might consider either or both of. Being a Magical Beast instead of an Undead allows for some useful tricks, but it also likely takes away undead immunities which would otherwise be helpful to self-preservation. Immunity to Mind-Affecting is perhaps the most glaring lapse, especially with only 1 Cha. Not being rendered catatonic by a single Ego Whip is a nice thing. Getting a hold of Leading the Charge is pretty straightforward. Ivarr is a charger (in particular a charger with a long attack routine and damage doubling) and commands an army of undead who are likely to do a fair bit of charging. Even at a low IL, Leading the Charge is a really nice thing to have. If you can get reliable access to Plane Shift and a Crown of the White Raven for White Raven Tactics (I suppose you could also use a Psychic Reformation or Dark Chaos shuffle), you can go even further into White Raven shenanigans with the following setup.

    1: Education
    3: Martial Study (Leading the Attack)
    6: Martial Stance (Leading the Charge)
    9: Planar Touchstone (Were Glade)

    If you can keep the higher order condition charged, the Were Glade will turn Myna into a werewolf (wolfogriff?) with all the benefits that entails. In particular, that’ll include 2 Animal HD, which will drive her IL up to 5 and open up White Raven Tactics, which is pretty much the holy grail of things a sidekick pet could be doing. It’s also just potentially useful to have her take Planar Touchstone (Were Glade) on at least one set of feats that she assumes at some point if the Shapechanger subtype it leaves behind is ruled to be a subtype retained under the application of the Skeleton and Zombie templates, just to have an ace in the hole against baleful polymorph.

    If you have a lot of downtime, and actually get away with NI Str and Dex, then the go-to setup is probably the following.

    1: Willing Deformity
    3: Flyby Attack
    6: Great Flyby Attack
    9: Deformity (Madness)

    If Myna is allowed to go full ubermount, then Great Flyby Attacks are really the best use of her time. With effectively no limit on the number of targets beyond how many of them actually stand within reach of a 110 ft line and auto-kill attacks, she has better things to do than bother with Skyhooks. Ivarr can make a Zombie Dragon or something to give him a ride for his Axes From the Sky.

    But hey, there are other things besides training dead hippogriffs that you might want to do with a lot of downtime. Crafting, for instance. Here are two stubs that allow Myna to help with just that (though you’ll still need most of the spells to be provided from somewhere. It’ll even allow you to skirt exp costs, since it’s not Ivarr himself doing the crafting.

    1: Truespeak Training
    3: Minor Utterance of the Evolving Mind
    6: Crafting Feat
    9: Open Feat

    1: Open Feat
    3: Fiendish Heritage
    6: Fiendish Presence
    9: Crafting Feat

    Minor Utterance of the Evolving Mind and Fiendish Presence grant Myna a CL equal to her HD which can be used to qualify for Crafting feats. The first setup is largely better due to working at a lower level, but I like the flavor of the second a bit better given the build’s fluff (either with Myna turning out to have had a small trace of fiendish blood all along or with her blood taking on fiendish characteristics when regenerated after a trip into the Death-Womb). Potentially useful choices for the Open Feat include feats that grant class skills necessary or are themselves necessary for particular items (for example, if you can’t buy a pair of Slippers of Battledancing on the open market, Apprentice (Entertainer) would allow Myna to get the ranks in Perform (Dance) to be able to craft one), Martial Study for the purposes of making Crowns of the White Raven and the like (this is somewhat limited, but can be expanded if you can get access to things like Heroics and uses of Martial Scrips to springboard to maneuvers with harsher prereqs), and additional crafting feats.

    Maybe there’s a spell that your party has decided they want access to. Maybe they don’t have that spell and can’t or won’t even get a scroll for whatever reason, but they do have Owl’s Wisdom, Plane Shift, and a month or two. Well, if this spell is 6th level or lower on some domain, they’re in luck. There’s a hippogriff setup for just that slightly implausible scenario.

    1: Education
    3: Open Feat
    6: Planar Touchstone (Catalogues of Enlightenment)
    9: Planar Touchstone (Were Glade)

    With the Were Glade bumping Wis up to 12, and her HD up to the 11 necessary to cast 6th level spells with the Catalogues of Enlightenment higher order ability, she’s just a casting of Owl’s Wisdom away from being able to do so. If the spell is 1st or 2nd level you don’t even need Owl’s Wisdom. A friendly Bard with Inspire Greatness and a little more Wis boosting could even push this casting further allowing her to reach 7th level spells.

    But yeah, floating feats are pretty cool. There’s a reason people like Chameleon 2 so much. Depending on the situation, there are probably more abilities you can patch together for Myna on a bit of notice. Unfortunately Incarnum is off the table as Myna won’t regain her Con score with her Magical Beast type but there are a lot of things that feat-o-mancy can accomplish if you dig deep enough.


    Use of Secret Ingredient
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    Despite only taking 8 levels, I feel that Ivarr really wrings a lot out of Great Rift Skyguard.
    Prereqs: Gold Dwarf is at least preferable over other Dwarf subraces for this build as it lacks a Cha penalty and the build is very Cha focused. Dwarf itself isn’t entirely desirable, but they do have a longer adulthood than the other PHB races, which is potentially useful on a build that can do so much with downtime but doesn’t have a native means to prevent aging. Azure Toughness is slightly more useful than regular Toughness and Mounted Combat is a nice way to help keep Myna or a ridable undead minion from dying (though Myna’s AC may eventually exceed what Ivarr can pull off with a Ride check). Ride and Handle Animal are kept relatively high. Ranks in Jump help early on when the Landshark Boots Totem Bind is Ivarr’s go-to means of attack, and the synergy bonus to Tumble checks helps him just scrape a +14 to Tumble for AoO avoidance with the help of a +2 Masterwork Item and the +5 competence bonus from his Slippers of Battledancing, even after the -1 ACP from using a non-masterwork shield for Skyhook.
    Axes From the Sky: As it only uses a Standard Action, Axes From the Sky leaves Ivarr’s move action free to move 10 feet and activate his Slippers of Battledancing allowing him to use his massive Cha for his attack and damage rolls in place of Str. With Divine Might, he adds his Cha mod to damage again, for a grand total of 4x with the doubling of damage from Axes From the Sky. He also has pounce from the Sphinx Claws Hand Bind and a nice long natural attack routine to really lay into an enemy, including the Bone Horns from Horned Harbinger which add an extra damage doubling, for 3x damage on an Axes From the Sky charge. I believe you also can multiply negative levels from Death Devotion for further pain. If you don’t mind using Str on attack rolls and only getting Cha to damage from Divine Might, you can also use your free move action on Dance of Reckless Bravery to boost saves against fear for your living allies. Finally, you can repair any Drogue Wings that break as you have Make Whole as a Death Master spell, and your huge control cap for undead minions makes it easy to spare a few HD worth of skeletons to help you swap out your expended Drogue Wing for a fresh one upon landing and to handle the task of repacking the wings after a fight.
    Skyhook: Basically does what it does for everyone else, though Ivarr likes being able to run around on his own two feet to activate his Slippers of Battledancing before saddling up for Axes From the Sky. The shield aspect is a tad annoying, and but he manages until he (as with any build which puts enough ranks into Ride) can reliably fast mount and no longer needs Skyhook.
    Hippogriff Steed: And how. Ivarr has a very high Handle Animal mod (which can be potentially boosted a few more points with the Riding Bracers) to acquire and train regular hippogriffs, and can animate a Hippogriff Skeleton for the purpose without any ill effects (at least no ill effects once he reaches Hippogriff Steed II). This in turn allows things to get really silly, as Hippogriff Steed turns the Skeleton back into a Magical Beast, meaning it can be turned back into a corpse and reanimated ad nauseum which between the Skeleton and Zombie templates allows for potentially arbitrarily high Str, Dex, NA, and possibly HP as well as potentially opening up various floating feat tricks.
    Bonus Mounted Combat Feats: Mounted Mobility is a natural first choice, as it protects the steed against AoOs during a Skyhook, and you don’t spend much time actually mounted to use the other feats available. With the second Mounted Combat feat, I took Tremendous Charge, to help get a little extra mileage out of the ability to potentially give Myna NI Str. With that much Str, you don’t really need to worry about the lance being magical or even masterwork most of the time and don’t need to sweat the fact that it might break.
    Flyby Attack: You won’t use this over Axes From the Sky very often, but at least the fact that you’re moving probably means your Slippers of Battledancing activate.
    Drogue Charge: Losing the move action for Slippers of Battledancing hurts, and both Axes From the Sky and Dismount Attack will take priority over Drogue Charge for that reason. You do still have your Pounce routine and all the nice amenities for Drogue Wing management though, so that’s something.
    Glide For Distance: The chair ruled that this doesn’t work with Axes From the Sky, and only kinda-sorta works when enemies are tall enough on a Drogue Charge, so it just isn’t worth it. The other levels that Ivarr takes instead do more to expand his go-to schtick.
    Skyguard Catapult: I’ll be surprised if anyone has a compelling reason to use this. I guess if you don’t have a fresh Drogue Wing for Axes From the Sky it gives you something to do with your actions, but that’s essentially never going to be the case for Ivarr, and even if that situation does come up, he has Dismount Attack in his back pocket.


    Equipment
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    Slippers of Battledancing and Cha boosters are the main things Ivarr wants, as well as an Amulet of Mighty Fists or Necklace of Natural Attacks, and naturally, a bunch of Drogue Wings. He’ll also carry around a few shields at any given time, but they aren’t a major expenditure.

    Beyond that, a little love for Con and maybe Str wouldn’t go amiss. He can use wands of Death Master spells and would benefit from the usual items that meldshapers like. With all the points that have to be spent cross-class on Tumble, a masterwork item would be nice to have to scrape a +14 mod to make his 10ft of movement for the Slippers without risking AoOs. With Cha boosters he ends up with plenty of turn attempts to manage without Nightsticks, even if you’re using Death Devotion in each fight and Divine Might every round, but if you want a few more turn attempts earlier on or to do something crazy like throw Death Devotion on your Unarmed Strikes and Bone Horns in subsequent rounds of the same fight, that’s a way to make that happen. Certain spellcasting services (see the Hippogriff Feat Setups section above) can help considerably and with reliable Plane Shift access specifically Myna will be able to use a Crown of the White Raven for White Raven Tactics.

    While providing spells is potentially an issue, Myna’s crafting feat setup can help to make access to certain items cheaper and more accessible. Also, before slamming me too hard for item reliance, I would urge you to consider the money Ivarr saves on Drogue Wings compared to any other build that doesn’t have access to Make Whole and possibly on replacement Hippogriff Steeds thanks to SLA Animate Dead. I also feel like Slippers of Battledancing are something of a special case given how resilient to optimization they end up being most of the time.


    Adaptations
    Spoiler
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    While I left it out of the build for Elegance reasons, Ivarr’s fluff fits in very well with dedication to Atropus, the World Born Dead. The extra vile feats would get him access to Deformity (Teeth) to add a bite attack to his routine, and could get Myna Deformity (Madness) for Mind-Affecting Immunity without her having to burn two real feats on it.

    As I said earlier, if multiclass penalties aren’t in effect, then Totemist 2/Death Master 3/Battle Dancer 1 is a better way to start off the build. The extra level should probably go to Horned Harbinger 6 at level 20, as there’s not much to gain from Skyguard 9. This change is mostly significant for the purposes of making the build a little better at low levels and getting PrC abilities a level earlier.

    Your DM might argue that because Hippogriff Steed III says that the steed is “still a Large magical beast,” it no longer shifts the type back from Undead. If so, then you should leave Great Rift Skyguard after 5 levels. Being limited to 7 HD hurts, but it is what it is. Alternately, just rejigger your levels to delay Hippogriff Steed III to 20th level and get all the Death Womb shenanigans in before then, with the final Undead version at 20th level being the “final form” as it were. I would argue that the “still” is in reference to the earlier levels of Hippogriff Steed though, and that Hippogriff Steed III should still follow the chairwoman’s ruling with regard to regaining the Magical Beast type.

    You might consider jumping back into Horned Harbinger after Skyguard 5 to get the Extra Turnings, Animate Dead CL increase, and Captain of Undeath in a greater hurry even if Hippogriff Steed works the way it seems to depending on the campaign. I vacillated on the point, but we are showcasing Skyguard after all.

    Another thing you might consider if, say, you or your DM are particularly vexed by the shield issue, is to drop the Battle Dancer levels for a level of Fighter to squeeze in Improved Unarmed Strike and another of Horned Harbinger, or, if Hippogriff crafting is working out for you, consider just making a Fanged Ring and replacing the Battle Dancer levels with 2 more Horned Harbinger levels. Of course, any of these make it a bit harder to squeeze ranks in Perform (Dance) and Tumble in, which would need to be factored in to your decision.


    Sources List
    Spoiler
    Show
    Complete Champion: Rules for swapping domains for domain feats, Death Devotion
    Complete Mage: Fiendish Heritage, Fiendish Legacy
    Complete Scoundrel: Dismount Attack
    Complete Warrior: Divine Might
    , Elusive Target
    Dragon Compendium: Battle Dancer, Death Master
    Dragonlance Campaign Setting: Tremendous Charge
    Dungeon Master’s Guide II: Slippers of Battledancing
    , Apprentice
    Eberron Campaign Setting: Education
    Elder Evils: Deformity (Madness), Dedication to an Elder Evil
    Faiths and Pantheons: Horned Harbinger
    Heroes of Battle: Mounted Mobillity

    Heroes of Horror: Willing Deformity, Deformity (Teeth)
    Magic of Incarnum: Totemist, Azure Toughness, Open Least Chakra, Soulmelds
    Planar Handbook: Planar Touchstone, Touchstone Sites
    Races of Faerun: Great Rift Skyguard
    Tome of Battle: Martial Study, Martial Stance, Maneuvers, Crown of the White Raven, Martial Scrips
    Tome of Magic: Truespeak Training, Minor Utterance of the Evolving Mind
    Everything else is in the SRD. This list is somewhat artificially long due to the citing of things referenced in the Hippogriff Feats and Adaptation sections. Items used in the build proper are bolded.
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    The only person in the past two pages who has known what (s)he has been talking about is Heliomance.
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    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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  20. - Top - End - #80
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Number 3 -

    Quote Originally Posted by Bromdorn 'Bolt' Stormspear


    Bromdorn 'Bolt' Stormspear
    LN --> CN Gold Dwarf Warblade 3/Barbarian 3/Bloodstorm Blade 4/Great Rift Skyguard 10

    Spoiler: Backstory
    Show
    Spoiler: Cloudless Heavens
    Show
    Bromdorn was born in 1306, the Year of Thunder. Like most dwarves born around that time, a twin brother was born together with him, and like most such twins, their bonds were strong.

    Unlike most such twins, Bromdorn and his brother Vortorn were polar opposites. Bromdorn was calm, collected, and careful, while his brother was wild and impatient. Despite this, the two of them got along very well.

    When they came of age, the two brothers entered the Eartheart guard together. As could be expected, Bromdorn was a calculated warrior; his brother a brute fighter. Despite those differences, the two often fought together, earning them the nickname 'Thunder and Lightning'.


    Spoiler: Darkening Skies
    Show
    "I say we kill it." Vortorn whispered. Bromdorn frowned, and pointed at the sleeping otyugh.

    "Have you seen the size of that thing? It's half... almost twice as big as a normal one. I say we return to the others and tell them what we've found. This thing isn't going anywhere."

    "You know the two of us are the strongest guards around. Having those newbies around won't make a difference. And this way, we're sure none of them will get killed."

    Bromdorn sighed. "I swear; you're going to be the death of me one day. We charge on the count of..."

    Vortorn rushed forward, leaving Bromdorn baffled for a moment. What was he thinking? Sighing, Bromdorn drew his axe and charged after his brother.

    The fight was bloody and long. Axe and spear wounded the otyugh countless times, but the beast retilated fiercely.

    Its tentacles flailed around and its teeth snapped wildly. Time after time did the dwarves strike at it, but it kept fighting. Bromdorn's furious assault grew more desparate, less calm, until suddenly a tentacle came out of nowhere and knocked the dwarf out.


    Spoiler: Rumble of Thunder
    Show
    Three days after his and his brother's disappearance, Bromdorn was found unconscious in a cave. The dwarf was feverish, dehydrated, and had sustained at least half a dozen lethal wounds, but he survived. Next to him, his brother laid, his spear still embedded in the otyugh's forehead. Both were dead.

    Bromdorn was hurried back to civilization, his condition growing worse with every passing day. Occasionally he'd wake up to moan and ask for his brother, but those spells of consciousness grew shorter and shorter.

    Then, when all hope for his survival had been lost, Bromdorn started to recover. When the dwarves eventually arrived back at the capital, Bromdorn had regained enough strength to walk into the healer-priest's quarters himself. There, all remaining traces of the disease were wiped from him.

    Bromdorn, however, had changed. Some said that the souls of his and his brother had merged after his brush with death: others simply figured the dwarf refused to accept his brother's death, and as a result was trying to emulate him. Still, all admitted that his battle style had grown more fierce and less careful.


    Spoiler: Stormy Weather
    Show
    Bromdorn never returned to the Underdark after nearly dying there. Instead, the dwarf turned his gaze upwards, to the skies. Why had he ever chosen to imprison himself beneath tons of stone when the open skies were ever available?

    Bromdorn's fighting techniques changed to fit his new battlefields. Now, the dwarf would fling axes and spears before rushing in, or even stay at a distance and only engage foes in melee when absolutely necessary. It was almost if his desire for battle had died when his brother did.

    Yet being outside wasn't enough for Bromdorn. He desired more freedom! And soon, soon he'd receive it...


    Spoiler: Lightning Strikes
    Show
    At the age of eighty-five years, Bromdorn was accepted in the Great Rift Skyguard. Finally, he had gained the freedom he'd longed for. His personal hippogriff he named Vortorn, after his deceased brother.

    His unusual combat style remained, and with it, his victories.


    Spoiler: Eye of the Storm
    Show
    Bromdorn watched from his hippogriff as the giants approached. The dwarf drew his lance, grinned, and moved his mount into position. The lance was flung, and hit the giant leader. And again. And again. And again.

    The dwarf saw how his other foes noticed him now, and they began to grab boulders to throw. He gained altitude and moved away from the giants, then leaped.

    Just before hitting the ground, the dwarf opened his drogue wing and landed more-or-less softly. The giants were over forty paces away, but he was fast. His lance rained down upon the foes once more, who clearly hadn't expected to be attacked from this direction. A moment later, Bromdorn appeared amidst them.

    The giants, confused and disoriented, failed to hit their foe. Bromdorn leapt away and raised his shield, and his faithful hippogriff carried him upwards. The giants flung some boulders after him, but they were ill-aimed.

    This deadly dance of death repeated itself. Bromdorn would fling his lance, jump down and charge across the battlefield at impossible speed, and be carried up again; leaving less and less giants alive with every cycle, until finally the last one fell.

    Bromdorn scribbled something on a piece of paper. "Three minutes and twelve seconds: should've gone faster."


    Spoiler: Ability Scores
    Show
    Starting array (after racial adjustments):

    STR: 18
    DEX: 10
    CON: 16
    INT: 14
    WIS: 8
    CHA: 8

    Ability score increases: All in strength, because why not?


    Spoiler: Build Table
    Show
    Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
    1st Warblade 1 +1 +2 +0 +0 Balance +4, Climb +4, Jump +4, Knowledge (History) +4, Martial Lore +4, Swim +4 Power Attack Battle Clarity (Reflex saves), Weapon Aptitude, Maneuvers
    2nd Warblade 2 +2 +3 +0 +0 Balance +5, Climb +5, Jump +5, Knowledge (History) +5, Martial Lore +5, Swim +5 Uncanny Dodge
    3rd Warblade 3 +3 +3 +1 +1 Balance +6, Climb +6, Jump +6, Knowledge (History) +6, Martial Lore +6, Swim +6 Point-Blank Shot Battle Ardor (Critical Confirmation)
    4th Barbarian 1 +4 +5 +1 +1 Handle Animal +2, Jump +7, Ride +3 Spirit Lion Totem, Whirling Frenzy 1/day
    5th Barbarian 2 +5 +6 +1 +1 Handle Animal +4, Jump +8, Ride +6 Uncanny Dodge
    6th Barbarian 3 +6/+1 +6 +2 +2 Jump +9, Ride +9, Survival +2 Precise Shot Trapkiller
    7th Bloodstorm Blade 1 +7/+2 +8 +2 +2 Jump +10, Martial Lore +10, Tumble +1 Throw AnythingB Returning Attacks, Weapon Aptitude
    8th Bloodstorm Blade 2 +8/+3 +9 +2 +2 Jump +11, Martial Lore +11, Tumble +5 Martial Throw, Thunderous Throw
    9th Bloodstorm Blade 3 +9/+4 +9 +3 +3 Jump +12, Martial Lore +12, Tumble +9 Improved Bull Rush, Far ShotB
    10th Bloodstorm Blade 4 +10/+5 +10 +3 +3 Jump +13, Martial Lore +13, Tumble +13 Lightning Ricochet
    11th Great Rift Skyguard 1 +11/+6/+1 +12 +5 +3 Jump +14, Ride +12 Axes from the Sky
    12th Great Rift Skyguard 2 +12/+7/+2 +13 +6 +3 Jump +15, Ride +15 Shock Trooper Hippogriff Steed I, Skyhook
    13th Great Rift Skyguard 3 +13/+8/+3 +13 +6 +4 Handle Animal +6, Jump +16, Ride +16 Ride-By AttackB
    14th Great Rift Skyguard 4 +14/+9/+4 +14 +7 +4 Handle Animal +8, Jump +17, Ride +17 Fly-By Attack
    15th Great Rift Skyguard 5 +15/+10/+5 +14 +7 +4 Handle Animal +10, Jump +18, Ride +18 Spirited Charge Hippogriff Steed II
    16th Great Rift Skyguard 6 +16/+11/+6/+1 +15 +8 +5 Handle Animal +12, Jump +19, Ride +19 Drogue Charge
    17th Great Rift Skyguard 7 +17/+12/+7/+2 +15 +8 +5 Handle Animal +14, Jump +20, Ride +20 Mounted MobilityB
    18th Great Rift Skyguard 8 +18/+13/+8/+3 +16 +9 +5 Handle Animal +16, Jump +21, Ride +21 Improved Critical Hippogriff Steed III
    19th Great Rift Skyguard 9 +19/+14/+9/+4 +16 +9 +6 Handle Animal +18, Jump +22, Ride +22 Glide For Distance
    20th Great Rift Skyguard 10 +20/+15/+10/+5 +17 +10 +6 Handle Animal +20, Jump +23, Ride +23 Skyguard Catapult

    Spoiler: Maneuvers/Stances Known
    Show
    Known maneuvers:
    -Wolf Fang Strike (1)
    -Sudden Leap (1)
    -Stone Bones (1)
    -Steel Wind (2)
    -Battle Leader's Charge (3)

    Known stance:
    -Punishing Stance (1)


    Spoiler: Level breakdown
    Show
    Level 5:
    By now, you're mostly a standard charger, save for your slightly atypical skill and feat choices. A whirling frenzy pounce with Battle Leader's Charge can deal enough damage to one-shot most foes. If necessary, you can disengage with Sudden Leap and charge again.

    Level 10 (sweet spot):
    Bloodstorm Blade has come and gone, and left us with a very nice gift: the ability to count ranged attacks as melee attacks. By staying around 100 ft. away from your target, every attack you make can be a charge, and your weapon returns to your hand immediately after. All the damage of being an ubercharger: none of the positioning issues.

    Level 15:
    A few levels in Great Rift Skyguard give us some abilities that interact interestingly with our tendency to charge at range. Jumping from the saddle, throwing the same lance a few times as you do so, and being 'randomly scattered in an adjacent square' afterwards: even if you were a hundred feet away from your target! Fluff it as moving with incredible speed.

    Level 20:
    More fun interactions! Drogue Charge lets us move forty feet, throw our lance, then instantaneously move over a hundred feet to the other side of our foe. Glide For Distance gives us a bit more maneuverability, and Skyguard Catapult, while suboptimal to use, is a flavorful way to end encounters.
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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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  21. - Top - End - #81
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Number 4 -
    Quote Originally Posted by Bolfarg of Knoss
    Bolfarg of Knoss
    CE Half-Goristro Gold Dwarf Barbarian 1/Fighter 6/Great Rift Skyguard 9

    The Monster
    Spoiler
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    Ability Scores
    Spoiler
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    32 Point Buy: 17 Str, 12 Dex, 13 Con, 12 Int, 8 Wis, 14 Cha
    After Stat Adjustments and size increase for Half-Goristro Gold Dwarf: 33 Str, 8 Dex, 25 Con, 12 Int, 8 Wis, 16 Cha
    Stat Improvements go to Str

    The Build
    Spoiler
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    Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
    1st Whirling Frenzy Spirit Lion Totem Barbarian +1 +2 +0 +0 Ride 4, Handle Animal 4, Intimidate 4, Jump 4, Bluff 2cc Toughness Pounce, Whirling Frenzy 1/day, Smite Good 1/day, Levitate 3/day, Illiteracy
    2nd Fighter 1 +2 +4 +0 +0 Ride 5, Handle Animal 5, Intimidate 5, Jump 4, Bluff 2 Power Attack (Bonus) -
    3rd Dungeon Crasher Fighter 2 +3 +5 +0 +0 Ride 6, Handle Animal 6, Intimidate 6, Jump 4, Bluff 2 Improved Bull Rush Dungeon Crasher ACF, Fear 1/day
    4th Zhentarim Soldier Fighter 3 +4 +5 +1 +1 Ride 6, Handle Animal 6, Intimidate 6, Jump 4, Bluff 5 Skill Focus (Intimidate) (Bonus) -
    5th Fighter 4 +5 +6 +1 +1 Ride 8, Handle Animal 6, Intimidate 7, Jump 4, Bluff 5 Mounted Combat (Bonus) Unholy Blight 1/day
    6th Great Rift Skyguard 1 +6 +7 +3 +1 Ride 8, Handle Animal 6, Intimidate 8, Jump 4, Bluff 5, Never Outnumbered Shock Trooper Axes From the Sky
    7th Great Rift Skyguard 2 +7 +8 +4 +1 Ride 8, Handle Animal 7, Intimidate 10, Jump 4, Bluff 5, Never Outnumbered - Hippogriff Steed I, Skyhook, Poison* 3/day
    8th Great Rift Skyguard 3 +8 +8 +4 +2 Ride 9, Handle Animal 8, Intimidate 11, Jump 4, Bluff 5, Never Outnumbered Mounted Casting (Bonus) -
    9th Great Rift Skyguard 4 +9 +10 +5 +2 Ride 10, Handle Animal 9, Intimidate 12, Jump 4, Bluff 5, Never Outnumbered Knockback Flyby Attack, Contagion 1/day
    10th Great Rift Skyguard 5 +10 +10 +5 +2 Ride 11, Handle Animal 10, Intimidate 13, Jump 4, Bluff 5, Never Outnumbered - Hippogriff Steed II
    11th Great Rift Skyguard 6 +11 +11 +6 +3 Ride 12, Handle Animal 11, Intimidate 14, Jump 4, Bluff 5, Never Outnumbered - Drogue Charge, Blasphemy 1/day
    12th Great Rift Skyguard 7 +12 +11 +6 +3 Ride 13, Handle Animal 12, Intimidate 15, Jump 4, Bluff 5, Never Outnumbered Imperious Command, Mounted Mobility (Bonus) -
    13th Great Rift Skyguard 8 +13 +12 +7 +3 Ride 14, Handle Animal 13, Intimidate 16, Jump 4, Bluff 5, Never Outnumbered - Hippogriff Steed III, Unholy Aura 3/day, Unhallow 1/day
    14th Great Rift Skyguard 9 +14 +12 +7 +4 Ride 15, Handle Animal 14, Intimidate 17, Jump 4, Bluff 5, Never Outnumbered - Glide For Distance
    15th Zhentarim Soldier Fighter 5 +15 +12 +7 +4 Ride 16, Handle Animal 15, Intimidate 18, Jump 4, Bluff 5, Never Outnumbered Improved Levitation Extended Intimidation, Horrid Wilting 1/day
    16th Dungeon Crasher Fighter 6 +16 +13 +8 +5 Ride 17, Handle Animal 16, Intimidate 19, Jump 4, Bluff 5, Never Outnumbered - Dungeon Crasher ACF
    *Ask your DM if you can swap Poison for the Goristro’s Spider Climb per the general guidelines in the Half-Fiendish Variety Web Enhancement. It isn’t explicitly mentioned in the Half-Goristro entry, but that seems to be because the template is being applied to a 4HD Centaur.


    The Myth
    Spoiler
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    Old Lord Knoss consorted with dark powers they say.

    They say that he called forth a great bull of Baphomet from the depths of the Abyss that its services might be purchased for a campaign into the Deepwild.
    But one never knows what coin demons will truly take.

    The lord’s wife became enamored of the bull. She mated with the monster and conceived an abomination. A vile half-breed of dwarf and fiend was born to her. Lest the clan elders learn of his transgressions, Lord Knoss spread word that the child had not survived, and feigned grief such that he commissioned a great labyrinth be made beneath his palace to serve as a tomb. Into this labyrinth he took the newborn beast and there it remained for many years. Yet, the suspicions grew amongst the clan, for as the years went by, sounds of fury and destruction seemed to echo distantly from out of the maze. When Lord Knoss finally died, the new lord commanded a full troop of dwarves to search the labyrinth. A short distance into its depths, they began to find walls that had been broken down where the monster had been unwilling to puzzle out the winding passages. Then, finally, they came upon the beast itself. A hulking mockery to the very name of dwarf, it towered over the terrified search party and snorted smoke at them from its bullish snout. A few of the braver warriors stepped forward, but were quickly slain, their skulls smashed against the walls of the maze. The others pleaded with the beast to spare their lives in exchange for freedom from the maze, and the creature was released.

    But one never knows what coin demons will truly take.

    Cast out from the clan, the demonspawn was taken in by a small bastion of the Zhentarim and became a soldier of renown through his overwhelming strength. Despite protestations from Knoss and from the clergy, his reputation was such that he was permitted to join the Skyguards, though his bulk made riding a hippogriff impractical. Perhaps the dwarf lords thought that the monster could be turned toward their enemies until it met its end performing one of the ill-advised stunts for which the Skyguards were infamous, but if that was their plan, it backfired. Despite claims of his depravity, tales of the monster mating with beast and dwarf alike to sire more monsters like himself, of bloodlust and savagery well beyond the necessities of war, of those who crossed him then did not return from battle, his victory after victory allowed him to rise to ever greater prominence. In time, he assumed a position from which he could challenge his clan’s exile and make a claim upon the lordship of Knoss.


    The Legend
    Spoiler
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    ECL 5
    Spoiler
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    Size increasing templates are pretty thin on the ground without Dragon Magazine material, but not entirely unavailable if you dig. The 4 LA hurts, but Bolfarg manages alright. He’s got a huge Con, a d12 Barbarian HD, and Great Rift Skyguard’s Toughness prereq, meaning he’s not quite as frail as he might be with all that LA. You also have a pair of slams and Whirling Frenzy once per day to help make up for your slowed iterative attack progression, and can move and full attack with pounce.

    ECL10
    Spoiler
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    After some Fighter levels, Bolfarg has entered the SI and picked up Shock Trooper. He’s too big to ride a hippogriff, but with his Levitate SLA, he might be able to move a huge mount (depending on whether your DM says that the weight limit applies to creatures as well as objects, it’s not altogether clear) into the air to set up Axes From the Sky even if it doesn’t fly normally. In any case, assuming he can arrange a way to be mounted at a sufficiently high vantage point, he’s got a free move action to move an ally with Levitate (or, if he can get a hold of a suit of Fearsome Armor demoralize enemies) as Axes From the Sky lets him charge as a standard action. With Pounce, huge Strength, Power Attack, Shock Trooper, his 1/day racial Smite, and the damage doubling from Axes From the Sky, he’ll have no trouble turning whichever enemy he drops down on into paste. Alternately, against a grounded enemy, he can use his charge for a Bull Rush, as he’s got a ready-made wall to Dungeon Crash them into, and can use Shock Trooper’s Directed Bull Rush to shunt them 5ft in a direction, and so gain some control over where he lands (since it’ll be a random square adjacent to the enemy in question).

    ECL 15
    Spoiler
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    For those of you wondering why I wanted Large size so badly that I was willing to eat 4 LA for it, this is why. Bolfarg now has Knockback, which means he no longer has to choose between Dungeon Crashing an enemy and pouncing on them, and he can push them further for the purpose of dictating his landing spot. He can do even more in this regard on a Drogue Charge (which is now available to him), as the wing explicitly takes him up and over his target and lands him on their other side, meaning that he’ll follow the enemy as he drives them back. If this seems screwy, you can think of it as Bolfarg using the wind from his strikes or pushing himself off of the enemy as he dribbles them against the ground to keep himself airborne. I’m not sure either of those explanations actually make sense from a physics standpoint, but we are playing D&D here.

    Bolfarg also now has a Bonus Mounted Combat feat (Mounted Casting to shore up Concentration checks for his racial SLAs which explicitly use the same checks as casting spells), and the Hippogriff Steed feature. Where is he getting the hippogriff, you may be asking? The answer is, he’s making his own. By undergoing the Ritual of Alignment in Savage Species, Bolfarg becomes an Outsider (Evil), which should be enough for him to count as a fiend, and so allow him to sire Half-Fiend Hippogriffs (whether they’ll follow any of the Half-Fiendish Variety guidelines is something of a grey area, though it’s likely preferable if you can get away with it, as the wings, claws, and bite from the standard template are redundant and you’d rather give it slams). A Half-Fiend Hippogriff is still a Hippogriff and should be a valid choice for Hippogriff Steed. While this will likely obviate some of the bonuses from Hippogriff Steed and it’ll revert from Outsider to Magical Beast HD, the increase of HD will allow the hippogriff to access more SLAs and it will have higher than animal intelligence from birth, which may open up more feat options to it than the default Dodge and Wingover, which will in turn allow for more interesting possibilities on higher HD feats. It also may get a slightly expanded skill list if Half-Fiendish Variety is in effect, which would likely include Intimidate (a class skill for Goristros and hence for Half-Goristro RHD, even though Bolfarg doesn’t have any), which would allow it to help Bolfarg in any fear-op he gets up to.

    ECL 20
    Spoiler
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    The last few levels are basically more of the same, but they do have some nice things. Imperious Command and Extended Intimidation for demoralize shenanigans. Hippogriff Steed III with all that entails. Improved Levitation expanding the usage of Bolfarg’s Levitate SLA dramatically (increasing from 3 uses of min/level Levitate each day to 3 10 minute Levitates per level each day). The Dungeon Crash damage upgrade and 4th iterative attack, though he likely doesn’t need the boost in damage that badly.

    He also gets Glide For Distance and might actually be able to do something with it as part of his regular combat shtick. The chair said that Glide For Distance might work on a Drogue Charge if the enemy is particularly tall – that is if you get high enough up in the air going over its head. Well, even if the enemy isn’t that tall, you can make the point above their head higher by using Knockback and Directed Bull Rush on your Drogue Charge. Knock the Enemy 5ft in a direction you want to go in and 5ft up with each hit and the power of Bolfarg’s swing will give him an updraft to carry him higher into the air, allowing for him to glide off to some other point on the battlefield (as far as 90ft if all iteratives and both slams hit, and the enemy is knocked upward each time) after passing over the (presumably dead) enemy’s head.


    The Storybook
    Spoiler
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    Complete Champion: Spirit Lion Totem Barbarian
    Complete Scoundrel: Never Outnumbered Skill Trick
    Complete Warrior: Shock Trooper
    Champions of Valor Web Enhancement: Zhentarim Soldier Fighter
    Dungeon Master’s Guide: Gold Dwarf
    Dungeonscape: Dungeon Crasher Fighter
    Drow of the Underdark: Imperious Command, Fearsome Armor
    Fiendish Codex I: Goristro
    Half-Fiendish Variety Web Enhancement: Half-Goristro
    Heroes of Battle: Mounted Mobility
    Miniatures Handbook: Mounted Casting
    Races of Faerun: Great Rift Skyguard
    Races of Stone: Knockback
    Savage Species: Ritual of Alignment
    Underdark: Improved Levitation
    Everything else should be in the SRD.
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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
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    And that's everything. Only four entries! I was really expecting more.

    I'm really sad I didn't manage to find the time to put a build together, actually. I was planning on submitting an Ardent, sharing Metamorphosis with their psicrystal to turn it into an animated drogue wing to bypass the hour long folding time and break chance, as well as for action economy to better handle the full-round attack actions the class has.
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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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    Post Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    My bare bones build was a Gold Dwarf Fighter 1/Wizard 5/Silverwood Arcanist 5/Great Rift Skyguard 9

    Using a Giant Bat through Wild Cohort as his first flying mount...later picking up a Hippogriff with Improved Familiar. He had two mounts to switch between later in his career.



    [edit] Two things I wasn't sure about: 1.) Can you use Handle Animal to get the Warbeast template on a Wild Cohort? And 2.) would the bonus HD and other perks added to your Hippogriff through GRS work on an Improved Familiar? [/edit]

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    Two things I wasn't sure about: 1.) Can you use Handle Animal to get the Warbeast template on a Wild Cohort?
    This is still the subject of some debate. It's not clear if Warbeast can only be applied to an animal that is specifically "born and raised" to be a Warbeast, or if it can be applied to any animal that goes through the training. So it would be up to the judge to call shenanigans on adding the template to a Wild Cohort that you just find wandering around and didn't specifically raise to be a Warbeast.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    And 2.) would the bonus HD and other perks added to your Hippogriff through GRS work on an Improved Familiar?
    Yes, that should work.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Mine would have been Barb 3/Totemist 3/GRS 10/Totem Rager 4.
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Huh, only four entries. The chefs don't seem to like the taste of dwarf. Two of the builds are mine, so I'm guaranteed a medal. Well, this shouldn't be too painful for our esteemed judges. Good luck all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    My bare bones build was a Gold Dwarf Fighter 1/Wizard 5/Silverwood Arcanist 5/Great Rift Skyguard 9

    Using a Giant Bat through Wild Cohort as his first flying mount...later picking up a Hippogriff with Improved Familiar. He had two mounts to switch between later in his career.



    [edit] Two things I wasn't sure about: 1.) Can you use Handle Animal to get the Warbeast template on a Wild Cohort? And 2.) would the bonus HD and other perks added to your Hippogriff through GRS work on an Improved Familiar? [/edit]
    I thought about fooling around with Changeling Wizard 5 and Improved Familiar to get a fancy hippogriff that I could then turn into other things, but ended up not pursuing it. I'd say that the Hippogriff Steed bonuses could apply to a familiar, though the added HD would really only be good for feats, since its HP, BAB, etc would still be based on yours.

    I also toyed around with Charging Smite Paladins a bit, and thought about a Wolf Totem Pouncebarian 2/Evil Incarnate 3/Skyguard using the free move action that Axes From the Sky leaves to charge up the stun ability on Incarnate Weapon's Arm bind, but ended up scrapping all those ideas. I also tried to go for Mantas Leap for two charges per round, but couldn't get it to fit together what with needing 7 levels of Monk.

    I'm pretty happy with the builds I ended up with though.
    Last edited by WhamBamSam; 2016-04-11 at 10:46 AM.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Played a bit around with the idea of using Tunnel Riding to use the Hippogriff in Underdark, and pair this with Cavestaker (Drow of the Underdark) for hilariousness, but never got anywhere.

    Also, just stumbled upon a class that could be interesting for a later swing.

    Thrall of Eltab, from Forgotten Realms: Champions Of Ruin p134 ... so obscure that even Wizards' Prestige class index doesn't know of it

  28. - Top - End - #88
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    Quote Originally Posted by Sian View Post
    Played a bit around with the idea of using Tunnel Riding to use the Hippogriff in Underdark, and pair this with Cavestaker (Drow of the Underdark) for hilariousness, but never got anywhere.

    Also, just stumbled upon a class that could be interesting for a later swing.

    Thrall of Eltab, from Forgotten Realms: Champions Of Ruin p134 ... so obscure that even Wizards' Prestige class index doesn't know of it
    Thrall of Etlab is very similar to Thrall of Orcus in a lot of ways. I guess it's been a while, but even so I feel like we've seen a lot of the things people would submit are things we've seen before.

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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    I was certain that Improved Familiar (Hippogriff) was the obvious thing here. Surprised that not a single official entry used it. My idea was to be Battle Sorcerer 4 / Fighter 1 / Great Right Skyguard 10 / Abjurant Champion 10 (not in that order exactly) but I figured I wouldn't be the only one..
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    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground LXXVII

    The only timely way to get Improved Familiar for a hippogriff is Duskblade, and Arcane Channeling doesn't synergize very well with Great Rift Skyguard, since it doesn't work on a charge. I'm not surprised it didn't show up.

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