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    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Default Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Switchblade Suzie

    With more than a decade and a half of toying around with 3.5, Iíve accumulated a lot of spare builds and ideas. While I donít have an active game going right now, I still like to pop open my builds folder and try to refine things. Recently I decided to make a dedicated effort to flesh out some of these builds into full write-ups, and reached out to some friends in the CO community who might be interested in doing the same. In the spirit of Tempest Stormwindís Weekly Optimization Showcase (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?), I thought Iíd showcase the end results here.

    The goal is (usually) not to show off any fancy new TO trick, but to showcase effective, playable builds and spur discussion. While each of us has a different build philosophy, in general the intent is to create something that can be played in most groups from level 1 to level 20. Again, the goal is discussion, so feel free to discuss the build, talk about other options, make suggestions or tear it all to shreds. Also, feel free to use anything showcased here in any of your campaignsóand let us know how they work out if you do!

    Right now the group consists of myself, the Viscount, Akal Saris, Venger and WhamBamSam, with a couple of other folks hopefully on their way. Typically one of us writes up the build concept and possibly a stub, the others share feedback on Discord or in some of the shared documents we have, and together we refine things until weíre happy with the final product. Iíll list the buildís main author whenever I showcase a particular build.

    Spoiler: Previous showcases

    Buffsader (ToB/Gish/Party Support)
    The Utility Belt (Psionics/Stealth/Utility)
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless War Mind (ToB/Psionics/Melee Damage)
    The Melding Pot (Incarnum/Utility)
    Thatís So Raven (Gish/Ranged/Debuff)
    Dancing in the Dark (ToB/Stealth/Lock-down)
    Gladys Knight and the Pips (Arcane/Face/Utility)
    Zen in the Art of Archery
    I Choose You! (Divine/Summmoning)
    Cold World (Divine/Summmoning/Lockdown)
    Holy Roller and His Holy Boulders (Ranged/Wild Shape/Exalted)
    Big Brother is Watching (Scrying/Arcane/Party Support)
    The White Elephant (Arcane/Debuff/BFC)
    Tales From the Crypt (Halloween Spooktacular)

    For this showcase, weíll look at an initiator with a flair for edged weapons: Switchblade Suzie!

    Switchblade Suzie
    ĒWhereíd you get that?Ē

    Early on in 3.5ís history, I feel like everyone was always looking at ways to optimize iaijutsu focus. A holdover from 3.0 that never received an official update, the idea of a skill-based way to add bonus damage was always a captivating one, and the whole concept lends itself to a lot of fun flavor.

    Over time, though, it fell out of favor. Itís still commonly referenced as a way for factotums to contribute in combat, and itís definitely not rare (and for two excellent takes on an iaijutsu-focused character check out the original Op Showcaseís Always on Edge and Assassinís Speed). But in general, leaning too hard into iaijutsu focus feels like a lot of work for minimal returns. Thereís the immediate problem of getting access to the skill, something that only a handful of classes can do, and it requires significant investment and focus on what is usually a dump stat to produce decent damage numbers. Triggering it also requires jumping through several hoops, as there are only a few ways to guarantee that your opponent is flat-footed. Iím also personally not a big fan of two of the most commonly suggested methods of triggering it (bags of marbles and wands of grease); both are fun ways to mess with the enemy but I find them unreliable as methods of consistently triggering your main combat method.

    So no one was more surprised than myself when I found myself poking around with various iaijutsu focus-related builds. Iím not sure why I decided I wanted to build one. I was thinking about non-Power Attack based methods of melee damage in general, and ways to build off of them, and somehow landed on the old classic. For all of its foibles, if you can make the damage numbers high enough to compete with melee staples like PA and find a way to consistently trigger it, there are some very nice aspects to the skill. Itís a lot harder to shut down than other common methods of bonus damage; it isnít precision damage and explicitly even works against objects. And when I was toying with build ideas, I noticed that an elven iaijutsu master (elven for Aereni Focus; I decided right off the bat that I wanted something more martial than your typical factotum and Aereni Focus was one of the best ways to get access to the skill without going down that road) naturally qualified for eternal blade, which in turn gave tons of maneuver flexibility in the lategame for any encounters where iaijutsu focus might not be ideal.

    Itís nothing groundbreakingóas Iíve said, the optimization depths are well-plumbed when it comes to iaijutsu focusóbut I was really pleased with our results. The buildís main focus comes online at level 1 and consistently improves, leaving you with a charismatic and hyper-mobile warblade that can put out damage numbers comparable to your typical Power Attackers without relying on damage staples like charging or sneak attack.

    • Race: Dragonborn Elf, of whatever flavor suits your taste. Elven blood is required for Aereni Focus and eternal blade, so the elf part is non-optional. Dragonborn gives you fighter as a favored class, which prevents any multiclassing penalties. If you arenít playing with multiclassing penalties then the dragonborn element isnít required, but eliminating the standard Con penalty and picking up wings and a +10 racial bonus to jump checks make it a great pick regardless.
    • Build Stub: Warblade 9/Fighter 1/Iaijutsu Master 5/Eternal Blade 5
    • ACFs: Hit and run fighter, skilled city dweller (ride -> tumble).
    • Alignment: Any lawful and non-evil. I personally envisioned this character as lawful neutral, but thereís some room to fiddle.

    Switchblade Suzie
    Quote Originally Posted by ĒSwitchblade SuzieĒ
    Level Class Feats//Skill Tricks Maneuvers Known Class Features Notes (Click to Expand)
    1st Warblade 1 Aereni Focus (iaijutsu focus) Wolf fang strike, sudden leap, sapphire nightmare blade, hunterís sensestance Battle clarity (Reflex saves), weapon aptitude
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Aereni Focus is a fun Eberron feat that both gives you a new class skill and the benefit of Skill Focus (which stacks with actual Skill Focus!). Itís 1st-level only and elf specific, but since you want to be an elf anyhow for eternal blade, it fits here just fine. Youíre using it for iaijutsu focus, which will be a driving source of damage for you throughout this build. By RAW since you select feats after you select skills, you can still only have two ranks at this level, but that still means a +8 bonus, giving you a +1d6 damage boost on a 2 or higher (with an additional +1d6 for every 5 points beyond that). Combined with sapphire nightmare blade to trigger the flat-footed condition, thatís doing some very respectable single-target damage for the level. Carry a few cheap weapons with you so that you can draw and strike multiple times if possible. Sudden leap is always great for repositioning, and with the dragonbornís +10 racial bonus to jump checks, you should have no trouble clearing some serious distance even at level 1. Finally, most of the level one stances donít do much for you, but hunterís sense provides some decent out of combat utility and can help you sniff out invisible or hidden foes.
    2nd Fighter 1 Exotic Weapon Proficiency (katana) Hit-and-run tactics, bonus feat
    Spoiler: Build Notes

    This build is fairly feat heavy so a fighter dip should come as no surprise, and hit and run fighter is a perfect fit. In addition to the initiative boost (always essential even for non-iaijutsu fighters), this also allows you to add your Dex to damage whenever you catch an enemy flat-footed. While you arenít fully Dex-focused you will need to have at least a positive Dex to qualify for all relevant feats, and considering that this build is all about catching foes flat-footed, this is basically free damage.

    As for your feat, I always love taking EWP with my warblades, since you can use weapon aptitude to change up your proficiency every day. While I list it here as katana so that you can wield it one-handed in the classical style, once you become capable of making multiple attacks in a round youíll always want to use weapon aptitude to swap this out for switchblade gnomish quickrazor proficiency. For those who arenít familiar, quickrazors are the ideal iaijutsu focus weapon. Theyíre basically butterfly knives, light low damage weapons that are able to be drawn or sheathed as a free action. Itís that latter bit thatís special: free-action sheathing means you can trigger iaijutsu focus for every single attack in any given attack routine, assuming your opponent is flat-footed. At this level when youíre only making one attack they arenít necessary, but feel free to abuse weapon aptitude to pick up a more useful exotic weapon as desired.
    3rd Warblade 2 Quick Draw Moment of perfect mind Uncanny dodge
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Moment of perfect mind is a natural fit here, shoring up your weakest defense and helping keep your diamond mind maneuvers up. Quick Draw is a required feat that becomes a bit irrelevant as soon as you pick up a quickrazor, but in addition to qualifying you for iaijutsu master it also lets you pick up a couple of relevant skill tricks, so itís not so bad. In the meantime, while youíre still mostly making single attacks, you can use it alongside a katana for some very solid IF damage.
    4th Warblade 3 Wall of blades Battle ardor (critical confirmation)
    Spoiler: Build Notes

    Another solid counter. While your AC wonít be terrible, you are restricted from wearing heavy armor, so having wall of blades in your back pocket is never a bad idea.
    5th Warblade 4 Wolf fang strike -> claw at the moon, bolstering voicestance
    Spoiler: Build Notes

    Wolf fang strike isnít doing much for you, and with your insanely good jump checks, you might as well replace it with claw at the moon for somewhat better damage. This swap is mostly pretty irrelevant, but thereís no reason not to take it. As for your stance, bolstering voice helps with Will saves and gives you a white raven maneuver known for qualification purposes.
    6th Warblade 5 Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (katana) White raven tactics Bonus feat
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    I said bolstering voice was going to be relevant for qualification purposes, right? Well it pays off immediately, allowing you to pick up the incomparable white raven tactics. I donít really need to go into why this is so good. Weapon Focus comes in as a qualification for iaijutsu master, but again, donít forget you can swap it out every morning for WF (quickrazor) instead. Thatís handy, because you pick up a second attack at this level, and with a quickrazor you can draw and sheath multiple times in a single attack routineójust the thing for catching people who act after you in the initiative order (which will be fairly common, given that you have a +6 bonus to initiative just from Imp Init and hit and run fighter).

    Oh, and you also get some limited flight from your wings at this level, too. You can only fly a few rounds at a time right now, but native flight is always useful for a melee character, and itíll improve as your levels progress.
    7th Iaijutsu Master 1 Weapon finesse, canny defense
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Into iaijutsu master. The first level doesnít offer much, especially since youíre more likely to wield a quickrazor on any given day than a katana.
    8th Iaijutsu Master 2 Hidden blade skill trick Lightning blade
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Now thereís a nice bonus. Initiative is incredibly important to you, since one of the most reliable ways to catch someone flat-footed is to act before they do in the initiative order. With your heavy Charisma focus, getting +Cha to initiative on top of the +6 bonus you get from hit and run fighter and Improved Initiative should make this a very common occurrence.

    Also, the reason I recommended you cross-class sleight of hand in the skills section is that it unlocks a couple of nice skill tricks. Hidden blade gives you yet another way to activate iaijutsu focus. Itís only for a single attack, but it can definitely come in handy.
    9th Iaijutsu Master 3 Two-Weapon Fighting
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Quickrazors are light weapons, meaning theyíre easy to dual wield, and since you want to attack as much as possible when youíre up against a flat-footed foe, Two-Weapon Fighting is a natural fit. Dual wielding is also essential for the mongoose maneuvers, which will become very important to you. (In a campaign with easy access to magic items this feat can be replaced entirely with gloves of the balanced hand; in that case Martial Study can be taken here to nab death from above, which is a strict step up from sapphire nightmare blade.)
    10th Iaijutsu Master 4 Skill Focus (iaijutsu focus), acrobatic backstab skill trick Bonus feat
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    A free bonus feat off of a limited list comes on here. Most of the list isnít of much interest, but a +3 to iaijutsu focus that stacks with Aereni Focus will certainly never be unwelcome. And acrobatic backstab is probably the most reliable skill trick for activating iaijutsu focus, allowing you to make a foe flat-footed for one attack by tumbling through their space. Itís especially nice because it works with strikes, and with tumble as a class skill your whole career thereís no reason not to pick it up.
    11th Iaijutsu Master 5 Strike from the void
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    And hereís the real reason you took this class. Strike from the void means you add your Charisma modifier to each extra damage die gained from using the iaijutsu focus skill. Youíve got around a +23 bonus to IF before items, and with level-appropriate items this check should be more in the neighborhood of +33. That means youíre dealing +6d6 damage per attack on a 2, and with a good roll could be dealing the max of +9d6 damage. Even if you havenít managed to get your hands on a cloak of charisma yet, your Charisma should be at least 18 by this point, meaning that with the addition of strike from the void youíre more than doubling your average damage output from each IF strike.
    12th Warblade 6 Martial Study (foehammer) Claw at the moon -> dancing mongoose Improved uncanny dodge
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Back into warblade for a bit. Dancing mongoose is great for any dual wielder, giving you two extra attacks as a swift action. Meanwhile, foehammer comes in to fulfill pre-reqs for when we start taking eternal blade levels. This can be crusaderís strike if you prefer to add on some minor healing, but foehammer can come in handy against high-DR foes.
    13th Warblade 7 White raven strike Battle cunning (damage)
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    White raven strike is another great way to make your opponents flat-footed, with a solid damage rider and no save. But wait, doesnít it only last until the start of their next turn, making it nice for your allies but useless for you? Well, thatís where dancing mongoose comes in. With dancing mongoose, you can white raven strike to make your foe flat-footed, then dancing mongoose to immediately make two attacks that both trigger iaijutsu focus.
    14th Warblade 8 Sudden draw skill trick Wall of blades -> moment of alacrity
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Moment of alacrity is one of my favorite maneuvers in general, and itís especially good here. In particular, it combos well with white raven strike. Against any enemy that moves before you in the initiative order (whether because they rolled high or because you delayed), youíve got a very powerful combo at your fingertips: white raven strike to make them flat-footed, then use moment of alacrity as a swift action to shuffle yourself up ahead of them in the initiative order. That leaves you with a full round of actions while your enemy is still flat-footed, letting you go to town with your impressive iaijutsu focus.

    Oh, and with sudden draw, you get something fairly unique: the ability to deal out iaijutsu focus damage on an attack of opportunity. Youíre not an AoO-focused build, but itís still a cute trick that can make moving through your threatened area particularly deadly.
    15th Warblade 9 Iron Will, Hardened Criminal Greater insightful strike Bonus feat
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Warblade picks up another bonus feat here, which is perfect timing: use it to grab Iron Will, the pre-req for Hardened Criminal. Hardened Criminal is a fun little feat from City of Stormreach that allows you to take 10 on a selected skill. Youíll pick iaijutsu focus, of course; why risk a low roll when you can just take 10? With some fairly straightforward items (nothing more than a cloak of Charisma, +5 item and masterwork tool) this means an automatic iaijutsu focus check of 48, for a guaranteed +8d6+(Cha x 8) damage.

    If youíre playing in a game where magical locations are available, Iíd recommend obtaining Iron Will via the Otyugh Hole instead. In that case, move Hardened Criminal to level 12 and bump Martial Study (foehammer) to here instead. For an alternative bonus feat, I like Blind-fight or Great Fortitude: Blind-fight works well alongside scent from your hunterís sense stance to take on hidden foes, while Great Fortitude can help power immortal fortitude.

    As for your maneuver, greater insightful strikeís damage on its own is going to be lower than what iaijutsu focus can give you, but itís reliable and you need one more diamond mind maneuver to qualify for time stands still down the road. Feel free to replace this with any other diamond mind option that suits you, such as rapid counter.
    16th Eternal Blade 1 Daunting strike Blade guide, eternal training 1/day
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Into eternal blade! As a Diamond Mind-focused elf who already has weapon focus, you auto-qualify for this prestige class. There are two things in particular that this grants you: access to the devoted spirit line of maneuvers and eternal training. (It also helps with your stance timing, allowing you to pick up an 8th-level stance without spending another feat.) Eternal training is just outrageously flexible, letting you pick up your highest level maneuvers on the fly. At this level that means nabbing, say, avalanche of blades, which can be more effective than a standard TWF attack against low-AC foes. Having eternal training also means you can comfortably spend your maneuvers known collecting devoted spirit maneuvers so that you can get to the good stuff down the road. Daunting strike isnít game-breaking, but with some fearsome armor and a maxed out intimidate check it can lead to some decent fear-stacking if thatís what youíre into.
    17th Eternal Blade 2 Guided strike
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Bypassing DR as a swift action is always handy.
    18th Eternal Blade 3 Martial Study (raging mongoose) Castigating strike Armored uncanny dodge, eternal training 2/day
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    8th-level maneuvers have a lot of great options. Castigating strike gives you area damage, something this build has lacked up to this point, with a minor debuff rider. Again, though, the real draw is getting enough maneuvers to qualify for immortal fortitude and strike of righteous vitality. More importantly, you pick up raging mongoose via feat here, letting you make four attacks as a swift action after white raven strike makes one of your foes flat-footed. And with another use of eternal training, you can pick up powerful options like diamond nightmare blade or greater divine surge as needed.
    19th Eternal Blade 4 Eternal knowledge
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Eternal knowledge is cute but doesnít add much to the build at this point. Nice flavor, though.
    20th Eternal Blade 5 Time stands still, immortal fortitudestance Eternal training 3/day
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Ah, here we go. For your final capstone you end with what is arguably the best maneuver in ToB, as well as one of the best stances around. Time stands still hardly needs any introduction; use it early on when your opponents are still flat-footed for an incredibly potent killing blow or use the white raven strike + moment of alacrity shuffle to activate it. And with your excellent Fort save, immortal fortitude gives you an absolutely incredible amount of longevity. Oh, and speaking of longevity, you also get another eternal training, which you can use to pick up powerful maneuvers like strike of righteous vitality.

    Spoiler: Maneuvers

    Maneuvers known:
    1- Wolf fang strike, sudden leap, sapphire nightmare blade, moment of perfect mind, hunterís sensestance, bolstering voicestance
    2- Wall of blades, claw at the moon, foehammer
    3- White raven tactics
    4- White raven strike
    5- Dancing mongoose, daunting strike
    6- Moment of alacrity, greater insightful strike
    7- Castigating strike
    8- Raging mongoose, immortal fortitudestance
    9- Time stands still

    Spoiler: Stat Suggestions

    Oddly enough for a warblade, your main stat will be Charisma, followed by Strength. Strength is still relevant for you as a melee character, though the fact that you have full BAB and you arenít two-handing weapons means itís not absolutely vital. Charisma boosts your initiative, powers your main damage engine and will come in handy if you decide to dabble in any social skills.

    Youíll also need a Dex of at least 15 by level 9 for TWF. However, in a campaign with easy access to items, there are two ways you can alleviate this particular requirement. The first is to ignore it entirely and replace the TWF feat with gloves of the balanced hand (see the level 9 build notes for an alternative feat if you go that route). The second option is to obtain feycraft quickrazors, which will let you get away with focusing hard on Dexterity and more or less ignoring Strength. Feycraft quickrazors can be used as though you have the Weapon Finesse feat, and since hit and run fighter gives you +Dex to damage against flat-footed foes, you wonít see any real drop in damage output. However, feycraft weapons are a bit pricey until the mid-levels, clocking in at around 1500gp a pop. Still, this is a pretty decent direction to go if theyíre an option, and can allow you to run a higher Dexterity and even invest a bit into Int for your warblade abilities.

    28-point buy: Str 14/Dex 14/Con 12/Int 10/Wis 8/Cha 16
    32-point buy: Str 14/Dex 15/Con 12/Int 10/Wis 10/Cha 16

    Spoiler: Skills Notes

    Iaijutsu focus is obviously a must, since it drives this buildís main damage engine. Jump and tumble are also quite useful, both for mobility purposes and for abilities like sudden leap and the acrobatic backstab skill trick. I also highly recommend cross-classing sleight of hand to get it to at least 8 ranks for the hidden blade and sudden draw skill tricks. Neither of them are essential, but having more ways to activate IF in a pinch is never a bad idea. But beyond iaijutsu focus, skill requirements for this build are fairly minimal. Youíll have a great Charisma and intimidate and diplomacy as a skill for much of your career, so investing a bit in the social skills might not be a bad choice.

    Spoiler: Equipment Recommendations

    Youíll definitely want a pair of gnomish quickrazors and the best set of light armor you can afford, as well as the standard stat boosters. As a hyper-mobile character who flies, jumps and tumbles, avoid anything too clunky. Skill boosters for iaijutsu focus are always welcome, and can help you hit that DC 50 check even earlier.

    You can free up some feats with a few cheap magic items and/or magical locations if theyíre available: gloves of the balanced hand for TWF and the otyugh hole for Iron Will. Iím always a bit hesitant to make a build absolutely need a particular item to function, so the main writeup doesnít assume this, but itís something to keep in mind. Also, if you can get your hands on feycraft quickrazors, you can run a much more comfortable point buy spread that focuses on Dex and Charisma and mostly ignores Strength.
    Letís take stock of what you have. With +20 BAB and 9th-level maneuvers, including the outrageous flexibility of eternal training to allow you to pick up maneuvers on demand, it should be no surprise that you can do great things in combat. While youíre mostly focused on a mix of diamond mind and tiger claw maneuvers (with a dash of white raven sprinkled in), eternal blade does open up the devoted spirit line, giving you some serious longevity thanks to the immortal fortitude stance and strike of righteous vitality.

    Instead of focusing on typical damage boosters like Power Attack, you focus on iaijutsu focus. With the ability to take ten on your checks, you are guaranteed to hit the DC 50 required for maximum damage, and with strike from the void that damage ceiling is quite high: with a Charisma of 30, weíre talking about a guaranteed +9d6+90 bonus damage from IF. Remember, this is NOT precision damage, meaning it cannot get shut down in the same way things like sneak attack can. Heck, it even works against objects. If you can catch your foe flat-footed, you can trigger it.

    And you have lots of ways to do just that. The first and most obvious method is simply acting before your foes, and with an initiative bonus of +16 before you add in your Dex and any item-based initiative boosters, that should be a common occurrence. This is especially potent because as a dual wielder with TWF and access to time stands still, you can make a lot of attacks before your opponents ever have a chance to move. You also have several ways of making single target attacks deal IF damage, including sapphire nightmare blade, acrobatic backstab, hidden blade and sudden draw.

    But the real money shot is white raven strike. This is a fairly straightforward strike meant to boost your allies: hit someone, make them flat-footed until the start of their next turn. However, youíve got several ways to abuse this. The easiest method is to smack them with WRS and then activate raging mongoose for four juicy IF-boosted attacks at your highest bonus; if all four attacks hit, youíre likely to immediately drop most level-appropriate foes. If thatís not enough for you, though, you have an even stronger option. Delay until after your foe attacks, then on your turn hit them with WRS to make them flat-footed and activate moment of alacrity. This will give you an instant +20 in the initiative order, shuffling you back up ahead of your foe and letting you get a full roundís worth of actions before they act again. With max BAB and TWF and time stands still, that should be more than enough to take out even the burliest of foes.

    For a few minor variants, check out the level by level notes. In particular, there are a few minor variations you can make depending on certain item availability (for example, dropping TWF in favor of gloves of the balanced hand, which lets you run a higher Strength and also gives you a spare feat that you can use to nab death from above).

    For a more dramatic change, we also built a version without iaijutsu master that finishes out eternal blade. Itís nothing too complicated, just a straightforward Warblade 8/Hit and Run Fighter 2/Eternal Blade 10. While it lacks the sheer damage potential of iaijutsu masterís strike from the void ability, it does have some things going for it: Dex-SAD (or close to it), significantly more freedom in feat selection, more readied maneuvers and uses of eternal training and the absolutely fantastic island in time. The damage potential is a good bit lower, although it closes the gap a little bit by using aura of chaos to take advantage of the fact that you will be rolling dozens of d6s most turns.

    Iíve also been toying with a Cha-SAD version of the build, a bard 4/warblade 10/iaijutsu master 5/exemplar 1 with Snowflake Wardance to lean hard into the Charisma focus of strike from the void. It misses out on 9th-level maneuvers, meaning no time stands still, and it matures a bit later than this build, but it does at least manage to pick up raging mongoose. Iím not completely happy with any of the build stubs Iíve come up with yet, but Iíll keep poking at the idea.

    • Iaijutsu focus skill, iaijutsu master: Oriental Adventures
    • Dragonborn of Bahamut: Races of the Dragon
    • Warblade, eternal blade, Martial Study, maneuvers: Tome of Battle
    • Hit and run fighter ACF: Drow of the Underdark
    • Skilled city dweller ACF: Cityscape web enhancement
    • Aereni Focus: Playerís Guide to Eberron
    • Hardened Criminal: City of Stormreach
    • Skill tricks: Complete Scoundrel
    • Gnome quickrazor: Races of Stone


    And thatís that! Please let us know what you think in the comments, and what youíd like to see for future showcases!
    Last edited by Piggy Knowles; 2019-11-17 at 09:26 AM.
    Optimization Showcase in the Playground

    Former projects:
    Shadowcaster Handbook
    Archer Build Compendium

    Iron Chef Awards!

    IC LXXVI: Talos
    IC LXXV: Alphonse Louise Constant
    IC XLIX: Babalon, Queen of Bones
    IC XLV: Dead Mists
    IC XL: Lycus Blackbeak
    IC XXXIX: AM-1468
    IC XXXV: Parsifal the Fool
    IC XXX: Jal Filius

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground

    Join Date
    Sep 2018

    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Switchblade Suzie

    Huh. I've used Iaijutsu Focus a couple of times now, but I'd never considered combining it with martial maneuvers so that you've got your move action free. Okay, back to reading the build.

    EDIT: Okay, now that I've read the whole thing, it's pretty cool! One variant I would suggest: If you can get your hands on extra feats (flaws, Gloves of the Balanced Hand, Otyugh Hole, etc.) and/or are just willing to drop a few (Iron Will and Hardened Criminal would be my chosen sacrificial lambs here, maybe even TWF too) then Combat Reflexes, Robilar's Gambit, and Mercurial Strike from Dragon Compendium go together with iaijutsu focus like chocolate and oranges. Anytime someone attacks you they provoke an AoO, and they are flatfooted for that AoO, letting you get your full iaijutsu focus damage anytime someone attacks you in melee or otherwise provokes an AoO. This also means you can use your move action to walk around the battlefield provoking as many attacks of opportunity (which you then counter AoO) from your enemies as possible for even more free damage.
    Last edited by PoeticallyPsyco; 2019-11-17 at 04:13 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Darths & Droids
    When you combine the two most devious, sneaky, manipulative, underhanded, cunning, and diabolical forces in the known universe, the consequences can be world-shattering. Those forces are, of course, players and GMs.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    Realism, the natural predator of D&D mechanics.
    Optimization Trophies

    Why not judge my optimization competition, thereby earning fame and glory? It's surprisingly easy! Military Games Act II: Mounted Defense

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Pixie in the Playground

    Join Date
    Nov 2018

    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Switchblade Suzie

    As always, the showcase has some neat ideas, is well-polished, and looks totally playable. Nicely done!

    Quote Originally Posted by Piggy Knowles View Post
    Iíve also been toying with a Cha-SAD version of the build, a bard 4/warblade 10/iaijutsu master 5/exemplar 1 with Snowflake Wardance to lean hard into the Charisma focus of strike from the void. It misses out on 9th-level maneuvers...
    If you don't mind my asking, why four Bard levels? Are you in it for the additional uses of Bardic Music to fuel Wardancing plus second-level spells? (I can see synergy with stuff like whirling blade.) It seems like you could swap out some bard levels to eke out enough IL for 9ths, so I'm curious what you see as the opportunity cost.

    Edit: Thinking about the numbers again, I think I see why. You'd probably have to give up the Exemplar level too. Acquiring Hardened Criminal plus Extra Music makes you way too feat-starved to make up for the 9ths.
    Last edited by FauxKnee; 2019-11-16 at 05:26 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Switchblade Suzie

    One of the IF synergies I've enjoyed is Iajutsu Master 5 + Master Thrower 5 for Strike from the Void (high damage) + Weak Spot (touch attack sans strength bonus vs larger opponents). You get to attack flat-footed touch AC and bypass bypass damage reduction. Master Thrower grants Sleight of Hand, Palm Throw (= two attacks with every attack roll), Defensive Throw (=concentration check to avoid AOO on throw), and Evasion. They also function relatively well together as far as prerequisites. The common Weapon Focus requirement can be finessed via Warblade, and Master Thrower grants Quickdraw implying only one extra feat is required. Given that you'll be attacking touch AC, you don't really need full-BAB levels as much.

    The downsides:
    1. You lose access to the 9th level maneuvers.
    2. Ranged attacks have a few more shutdowns.
    3. It's not quite as easy to trigger flat-footed.
    4. Attacking = disarming yourself.

    So, the downsides are certainly significant compared to the above.

    Nevertheless, the "How many daggers fit in the eye of a beholder?" character concept is pretty fun.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
    Troacctid's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2014

    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Switchblade Suzie

    Exoticist fighter seems like it would be a good upgrade if you have access to magazine material. Four exotic weapon proficiencies instead of one, and you still get another feat to boot.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
    remetagross's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2015

    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Switchblade Suzie

    Very neat build as always, folks! :D and it's quite refreshing to see a Iaijutsu Focus build that does not rely on a Factotum chassis.

    Also, this build made me notice that Danging and Raging Mongoose actually allow you to perform the extra attacks as a swift action, as soon as the boost is initiated. I always believed what they did was allowing you to make extra attacks with the full-round action following the initiation of the maneuver. Good to know.
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