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  1. - Top - End - #181
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Tainted Minion


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    The tainted minion: one of this book's delightful templates, which is bestowed upon creatures that die from high corruption. Only humanoids and monstrous humanoids can become tainted minions.

    Undead type is a reasonable upgrade, given the ton of immunities it grants. +4 natural armor is pretty cool too, but the two 1d4 claws (assuming medium size) won't be very useful. Tainted minions also get bonuses to strength, dexterity, and charisma. Again, it's nice, but not incredible.

    Furthermore, tainted minions have a number of special qualities.

    Fear Aura is exactly what it sounds like, but while no-action debuffs are nice, the fact that the ability is nonfriendly is less so. Craven rogues and weak-willed fighters you happen to be adventuring with might want to stay a few dozen feet away from you at all times, or invest in a 12000 GP Horn of Plenty.

    Tainted minions can also Change Shape into humanoids: an ability that effectively grants you somewhat better natural armor and weapons, as well as exotic movement modes, but probably won't help you go unnoticed in towns (after all, Fear Aura remains after changing shape).

    Furthermore, the minions have Fast Healing 3 (useful for obvious reasons), and weird DR that continuously changes its mind on what it's weak to (magic or silver, to magic, to good, to magic and silver). It gets pretty useful from level 8 on, though.

    So what LA fits here? Fear Aura can be a pretty huge burden on a party, even if there's ways around it, and the stat bonuses are interesting but not necessarily high. Furthermore, the minion's ability boosts and traits are meant for melee characters, but its undead-grade HP doesn't agree with that. All things considered, +1 is barely acceptable.
    Last edited by Inevitability; 2018-04-07 at 04:13 AM.
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  2. - Top - End - #182
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Undead isn't an amazing type and has plenty of downsides to go with it, especially for martial characters. Still, this template is notably better than necropolitan, so I don't think +1 is appropriate. In the end, I guess I agree on the +2 rating.
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  3. - Top - End - #183
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    There's no rule against you posting whatever picture you like, but I believe that you've posted the picture for a Tainted Raver instead of a Tainted Minion. Though they both have spiked chains for some reason, so whatever. (Though the picture of the actual Tainted Minion, on pg. 153, looks like he's about a quarter of a second away from wrapping that chain around his own legs. I guess maybe it could be going in the other direction around his legs, but then how did it reach the position in the picture?) [EDIT: This has since been fixed.]

    Right. Stats or something.

    Is the fact that a tainted minion has a semi-set taint score in any way useful or interesting (or, alternatively, problematic)? I generally keep the hell away from the taint rules in general, but it seems unavoidable for this particular exercise.

    Fear Aura has no duration. Once something fails the saving throw and becomes spooked, there's no text saying when they stop being shaken, shy of being subjected to something (like the Remove Fear spell) that explicitly clears the condition. That's a little bit troubling. We could maybe say that it lasts until the target is no longer in the aura, perhaps? It shouldn't matter terribly much for things that you're going to fight to the death, but it might matter for things that you aren't fighting or for things that you're fighting but don't end up killing for one reason or another. If being around you has a chance of rendering something permanently shaken, that's going to impose some nastier-than-usual roleplaying effects if you're doing anything at all other than murderhoboing a path through a dungeon or an equivalent adventure zone. (And, you know, it affects your party as well.)

    I'm torn between +1 and +2. I don't think I'd ever see myself playing this at +2, to be honest, but I can see an argument that it gives you more than you'd typically be able to get out of a single class level (on a noncaster, at least), thereby making +1 inappropriate. Semi-acceptable DR and always-on FH aren't nothing, even if WotC did have a remarkable tendency to overvalue both such abilities, and Change Shape is close to being Alter Self at will (with a few differences), which again is more than a non-caster can usually get from a single level. Depending on your op level and your style of play, you might call the DR and FH a wash with the lack of a CON score, though.

    Even with all that, +2 still just seems really high, though. I freely admit to being somewhat allergic to LA and basically shun it on my actual characters, so maybe I'm just biased against it, but I can't see ever wanting to lose two levels in favor of this particular ability package. Losing HD means fewer feats and lower skill rank caps (relative to equivalent ECL with no LA) and later PrC entry and stuff. Not exactly news, I know, but I don't think you're coming out ahead (or coming out terribly even) by this obvious noncaster losing 2 HD and the corresponding progression of BAB, feats, and skills.

    I'm stuck. Either +1 or +2, and I can't talk myself into either feeling fair. And we probably need to think about how Fear Aura really works anyway, but either way.
    Last edited by Zaq; 2018-04-06 at 03:32 PM.
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  4. - Top - End - #184
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    I am leaning towards +1 or +2. I do not think any tempalte-based type change that grants immunities without saddling a character with RHD or level loss should be +0, at least not without debilitating weaknesses. As is, Undead Immunities, +4 natural AC, net +10 abilities, 2 very weak claw attacks, usable DR, natural Fast Healing 3, and a mostly useful Fear Aura together is leaning strong +1 alone, verging on +2; Change shape, even limited to Humanoid, is terrific-uncapped (Su), no restrictions beyond type, at-will without duration is worth maybe half an LA by itself.

    All of that together might seem an easy, even solid +2...until we look at the rest of it. First off, it is Undead with no turn resistance, and no rejuvenation mechanic-seriously ugly, and forces you to take additional templates or invest in dispellable/suppressible magic protection; lest you get dusted by the first level appropriate, vanilla NPC Cleric you see. Next, going straight from strictly Humanoid/Monstrous Humanoid to a particularly frail Undead template cuts out many interesting and potent combinations that could have buttressed the lack of HP and Turn Resistance, and leaves a rather narrow slice of races. The Fear Aura cannot be turned off, and while saving each round is great for combat, it crushes much of the skill monkey potential of changing form and can potentially affect friendly chaff like summons and animal companions.

    Overall, with the Fear aura hamstringing Change shape and making social/skill monkeying/some combat awkward, losing the AC and Strength when changing shape; going Undead with only minor Fast Healing and decent DR to reinforce your durability; combine that with the restrictive Humanoid/Monstrous Humanoid preventing many shenanigans...

    Strong LA +1, though I could see LA +2 without a big complaint.
    Last edited by ViperMagnum357; 2018-04-06 at 03:24 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #185
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    I'm stuck. Either +1 or +2, and I can't talk myself into either feeling fair.
    Yep. There have been well over a dozen times in this exercise that I've wished +1.5 was a thing. This and so many previous creatures have fallen into that weird group of "too strong for +1 but too weak for +2."
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  6. - Top - End - #186
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    There's no rule against you posting whatever picture you like, but I believe that you've posted the picture for a Tainted Raver instead of a Tainted Minion. Though they both have spiked chains for some reason, so whatever. (Though the picture of the actual Tainted Minion, on pg. 153, looks like he's about a quarter of a second away from wrapping that chain around his own legs. I guess maybe it could be going in the other direction around his legs, but then how did it reach the position in the picture?)
    Good catch on the picture, but annoyingly enough there doesn't seem to be an online version of the tainted minion illustration. Would anyone happen to have a suitable replacement?
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  7. - Top - End - #187
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Quote Originally Posted by Inevitability View Post
    Good catch on the picture, but annoyingly enough there doesn't seem to be an online version of the tainted minion illustration. Would anyone happen to have a suitable replacement?
    I looked, and I cannot find anything, not even a scan of hardcopy. No picture, I guess. On the plus side, you already have a picture up for the next entry.

  8. - Top - End - #188
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    I suppose if you want to take the easiest joke possible, you could use those minions that look like severed Homer Simpson heads. I'd say they're aptly tainted/horrific.
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  9. - Top - End - #189
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Crisis averted: 3WhiteFox3 has provided us with the actual image! Many thanks!
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  10. - Top - End - #190
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Quote Originally Posted by Inevitability View Post
    Crisis averted: 3WhiteFox3 has provided us with the actual image! Many thanks!
    Somehow, this one looks even stupider. Who signed off on these illustrations? Who looked at this and said, "Yup. This is worth paying for. This is what I want in my product."
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  11. - Top - End - #191
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    I can't see this being played at LA +2, useful though some of the abilities are.

    As a tainted minion, your +4 strength is only slightly better than +2 base attack (slightly better two-handed damage, slightly fewer attacks, lower Power Attack returns--can even work out to be worse, if you use Shock Trooper), so at LA +2, you'd barely break even on melee power, and that's about the only thing I can see this template being good for (the strength bonus is also lost when you change shape, so taking the form of an orc/lizardfolk/whatever becomes that much less attractive). Fast healing is useful in that it lets you start encounters at full health, but for a brute, you'll have a smallish morale pool, and you'll need to be careful not to drop to zero. I don't see this being an overall top pick by any means; LA +1 is fine, and lets you come out ahead on offensive power.
    Last edited by ExLibrisMortis; 2018-04-06 at 03:26 PM. Reason: BAB vs. STR is hard
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    After reading other comments, I have decided to change my vote from +2 to +1. It's right on the edge, but it doesn't quite deserve +2.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    The random edge-case headaches that come with being undead (turning, can't benefit from heal, evil aura, animals hate you, X person spells don't help you, friendly mind-affecting spells are useless, can't taste coffee, etc) tip this into +1 territory for me.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Hang on.
    It's Change Shape, not a [Polymorph] effect. Change Shape has no effect on your ability scores.

    That said, that's something that cuts both ways - you get to keep your good scores, but you're stuck with your bad scores.

    On the other hand, you qualify for Warshaper, and there's basically no reason to not be continuously under the effects of Change Shape.


    As for the set Taint scores ... that's potentially both good and bad, but I'd go with mostly bad, on account of the fact that as an Undead, you're already immune to the negative effects of having high Taint, and several of the useful abilities involving Taint are directly dependent on the numerical score - ie, the Tainted Scholar - you cast spells based off of your corruption and depravity scores instead of whichever mental ability score you were using before- spell level and bonus spells per day are based on your depravity score +10, Save DC is 10 +spell level + 1/2 corruption.


    Fear Aura's going to cause more problems than it solves, since it cannot be turned off, and doesn't have a temporary immunity period after a successful save.


    It's not really worth a +2 - that's the same as Half-Dragon and Lich, for example.
    On the other hand, as a +1, it's on the strong side ... as long as you don't have to worry about running into enemies capable of turning/rebuking undead, or getting along/blending in with people who aren't immune to fear. If either of those are important, then Tainted Minion is significantly less valuable.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Def only seems like a +1 to me too.

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    IIRC, normally tainted minions and ravers are explicitly NPCs, so what can be done to make them PCs other than saying 'you can play these now'? Isn't high taint supposed to be as bad as being mindless? And if you could cure the taint, wouldn't that keep someone from playing these? How do we deal with this?
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Quote Originally Posted by No brains View Post
    IIRC, normally tainted minions and ravers are explicitly NPCs, so what can be done to make them PCs other than saying 'you can play these now'? Isn't high taint supposed to be as bad as being mindless? And if you could cure the taint, wouldn't that keep someone from playing these? How do we deal with this?
    The whole premise of this thread/exercise is to allow playing of things that WotC doesn’t support being in player hands, and we’re making adjustments to RAW left and right to accommodate that.

    If nothing else, you can always fall back on “PCs are exceptional by definition, so while MOST Tainted Minions are all but entirely consumed by taint, THIS one that I happen to be playing has things a little more under control, even if they’re obviously rather more screwed up than the average human/dwarf/etc.”
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Quote Originally Posted by No brains View Post
    IIRC, normally tainted minions and ravers are explicitly NPCs, so what can be done to make them PCs other than saying 'you can play these now'? Isn't high taint supposed to be as bad as being mindless? And if you could cure the taint, wouldn't that keep someone from playing these? How do we deal with this?
    It's a non-issue.

    Undead and creatures with the Evil subtype are immune to any negative effects from taint. They also automatically have effective corruption and depravity scores equal to one-half their Charisma score, +1 for undead or +2 for outsiders. They take no penalties due to these taint scores, but they can use them to qualify for feats or prestige classes.


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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    LA updated to +1.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    You know, the more I see pictures of the spiked chain, the stupider it looks. Not just me I presume?
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Quote Originally Posted by danielxcutter View Post
    You know, the more I see pictures of the spiked chain, the stupider it looks. Not just me I presume?
    The spiked chain is one of those things where suspension of disbelief is required. Think of it as an Ex ability - the laws of physics as we know them don't permit such a thing to exist, but it has a can-do attitude that doesn't let a minor thing like that get in the way.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Quote Originally Posted by danielxcutter View Post
    You know, the more I see pictures of the spiked chain, the stupider it looks. Not just me I presume?
    I was never brave enough to say it on a character-optimization forum, but yes, I agree with you. The spiked chain's only redeeming quality, in my mind, is that it's not a dire flail.

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    I can still picture Batman or Jackie Chan using a spiked chain and making it look good, so it passes that particular “just how silly is this silly fantasy weapon” test.

    Unlike, say, the gyrspike. I don’t think even Jackie Chan could wield that thing.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Whenever one of my characters wields a spiked chain, I picture it as looking similar to just the first of the four lengths of chain (If you think of it as looking like |V|, then just one of the | bits), with a better handle, a little like Zabimaru only made of chains. At least "The twisted love-child of a flail and a macuahuitl" is better than what the spiked chain actually looks like.

    The gyrspike does look quite silly, though I can see it sorta working if used by someone with bullet-time levels of reflexes.

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    This is how I prefer my game's spiked chains:
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    It's a bunch of spikes at the end of a chain, not a chain which is made of spikes.


    Anyway, the thread has a topic, so let me post on that for just a moment.

    Undead can be a decent type.

    At low op, the immunities are great.

    At high op, you've got all the juicy Corpse Crafter perks because you optimized your backstory and/or because the rules don't prohibit you from having all of them.

    Verdict: LA +2

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Tainted Reaver


    The tainted reaver: another fun little template! These creatures arise from someone being mentally scarred by taint (rather than physically, which produces tainted minions instead).

    I'll be blunt: tainted reavers get essentially three abilities, and that's it. Fortunately, these are all quite interesting.

    First is fast healing. Not dying is good, free out-of-combat healing is good, nothing else to be said here.

    Then there's Madness (not entirely unexpected), which does what you'd expect. +6 charisma, -6 wisdom, immunity to Insanity and Confusion, and the ability to base Will saves on charisma rather than wisdom. The immunity won't come into play very often unless you face lots of enchanters, but the remainder of the feature is a huge advantage to anyone not reliant on wisdom.

    Finally, there's Perpetual Rage, which grants a tainted reaver all of the default adjustments from a barbarian's rage (+4 strength, +4 constitution, -2 AC, +2 Will) without the restrictions that are normally imposed on his actions. This means they can still cast spells, make UMD or knowledge checks, activate magic items and anything else normally not associated with screaming frenzy.

    This template is useful for a diverse group of classes: melee brutes benefit from the Rage, fast healing and higher Will saves, charisma-based casters will love their increased SADness, and higher survivability, and charisma-based gishes get considerable bonuses to their attacking and casting stat.

    I tend towards +2 once more, but will assign +1 for now and let the community debate it.
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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    We should also note that the Tainter Raver is limited to humanoids and monstrous humanoids.

    You're also irretrievably insane.
    Unlike the Tainted Minion, you are not immune to the negative effects of having a high Taint Score (and you automatically have Corruption and depravity scores of half Charisma +1). Thus, you're likely to be looking at

    The AC reduction is bad, but probably compensated for between the +4 Constitution raging bonus and fast healing.

    The +6 Cha is certainly good for Cha-based casters, but because of the fixed Taint scores, you don't want to go Tainted Scholar.

    And -6 Wis is never a good thing.



    It'd take a pretty niche build to get the most mileage out of this, IMO.
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  29. - Top - End - #209
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    GreatWyrmGold's Avatar

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    What has staying on-topic ever done for us?


    Quote Originally Posted by Celestia View Post
    Okay, that's still sloppy game design, though.
    That's true of a lot of D&D. It has its moments of good game design (most of the ones I've noticed focus on getting new TRPG players comfortable with the medium and the game early on), but much of it is based on things the designers wanted to make available, wrote rules for, and then figured out how it would work in a game.


    Quote Originally Posted by No brains View Post
    IIRC, normally tainted minions and ravers are explicitly NPCs, so what can be done to make them PCs other than saying 'you can play these now'? Isn't high taint supposed to be as bad as being mindless? And if you could cure the taint, wouldn't that keep someone from playing these? How do we deal with this?
    1. Inevitability's done level adjustments for actual mindless creatures before. This is little worse.
    2. I've met more than a few PCs who acted with the kind of mindless violent that would give tainted ravers pause. Most of them were played by the same guy, but still.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    The gyrspike does look quite silly, though I can see it sorta working if used by someone with bullet-time levels of reflexes.
    I imagine that someone using the gyrspike would hold the sword bit in one hand and the chain in the other. Awkward, but it more or less works.
    I'm still not sure how you'd use a giant spiked chain as a weapon.
    I'm the GWG from Bay12 and a bunch of other places.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Blade Wolf View Post
    Ah, thank you very much GreatWyrmGold, you obviously live up to that name with your intelligence and wisdom with that post.
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    Negative LA Assignment Thread
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  30. - Top - End - #210
    Troll in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGirl

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    Default Re: The LA-assignment Thread IV: Live Free or Hit Die Hard

    Tailor-made for an evil sorcadin. That said, at LA +2, it'd put you a full spell level behind, and you would lose your 4th iterative. For a sorcadin, it'd have to be LA +1.

    Moving away from casters, intimidate-focused barbarians will love this template. At LA +2, however, you would only gain +1 Intimidate (due to lost skill ranks), and no bonus to attack rolls (due to lost base attack). I don't think +3 damage and +6-7 (or so) to Will saves will really compensate for the lost HD, class features, skills-other-than-Intimidate (Spot, Listen), and so on. So, once again, it'd have to be LA +1.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    Read ExLibrisMortis' post...

    WHY IS THERE NO LIKE BUTTON?!
    Quote Originally Posted by Keledrath View Post
    Libris: look at your allowed sources. I don't think any of your options were from those.
    My incarnate/crusader. A self-healing crowd-control melee build (ECL 8).
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