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    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Bellona

    Default Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Dark Side of the Moon

    INTRODUCTION
    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, WhamBamSam, Darrin and daremetoidareyou.. 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.

    For this showcase, itís time to take a good long look at the monk in: Dark Side of the Moon!



    Dark Side of the Moon
    Sometimes, the abyss gazes back...

    BACKGROUND
    There are a lot of abilities that we look at, spend hours discussing how best to build around them, and then end up buried in a morass of half-finished ideas. Two of them in particular seem to come up a lot: the planar bardís portal dissonance, and the dark moon disciple monkís shadow blend.

    The shadow blend ability in particular has been something we keep coming back to. It's far from a new or unknown ability, but that doesn't dilute how good it is. Itís absolutely incredible, giving you total concealment in any condition other than full daylight. I canít even begin to stress how amazing this is. Others have waxed poetic about this ability before, so I wonít waste too many lines adding to the choir, but itís really really good.

    But how do you actually build around it? While almost any build would benefit from it, how do you make it the focal point of a build? Many of the typical monk strategies rely on things like getting really big to maximize damage, which doesnít synergize particularly well with shadow blend. In most cases I feel like it ends up just being an add-on, something that every dedicated monk build should take because itís THAT good but something that is rarely the main point of a build.

    We have a ridiculous number of Monk 7/xxx 13 builds kicking around our folders. Tashalatora war minds, kalashtars that dance with shadows, assassins and unseen seers, swordsages and shadow sun ninjas, shadowpouncers and grapplers and stunnersÖ you name it, weíve probably got a build stub that toys with it. But one idea that really grabbed hold was the idea of diving deep into the stealth and attack negation aspects, and building out from there. We envisioned a skill-focused monk with plenty of utility, something impossible to pin down and with just enough offensive potential to stay valuable in a fight.

    THE BASICS
    • Race: Human. Itís actually required here, not just recommended (otherwise strongheart halfling would be a decent alternative). You could go with azurin if youíd like, since you do dabble in a bit of meldshaping, but I prefer straight human for the skill points.
    • Build Stub: Monk 7/Factotum 3/Warblade 2/Henshin Mystic 3/Heir of Siberys 3/Chameleon 2.
    • ACFs: Invisible fist, hand and foot fighting style (or sleeping tiger; see level 2 notes and variants section), dark moon disciple, standing jump. As is often the case with monk, youíll want to basically replace all the things.
    • Alignment: Any lawful.



    Dark Side of the Moon
    Quote Originally Posted by ĒDark Side of the MoonĒ
    Level Class Feats Class Features Maneuvers Known Notes (Click to Expand)
    1st Factotum 1 Able Learner, Carmendine Monk Inspiration, cunning insight, cunning knowledge, trapfinding
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    Considering how much we love weird skill-based builds and Able Learner, itís kind of funny that Iím pretty sure this is the first factotum weíve showcased. In this case youíll be building in lots of Int-synergy, so taking factotum for access to every skill in the game via Able Learner and the ability to add your Int bonus to an attack, damage or save a couple of times an encounter is definitely nice.
    2nd Monk 1 Stunning FistB, Improved Unarmed StrikeB Bonus feat, flurry of blows, unarmed strike
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show

    Going into monk after taking Carmendine means youíve switched everything to Int, allowing you to focus on your skillmonkey roles while still fully benefiting from your monk abilities. Stunning Fist is your feat of choice here, and while you arenít focusing on it as a build choice, alongside a decent Int itís a nice way to disable foes. We went with the hand and foot fighting style (aka normal monk), which gives you some skill bonuses more or less for free. However, if youíre running with a tighter point buy or donít mind lower damage, sleeping tiger is a good alternative for Weapon Finesse and Improved Initiative. Itíll allow you to focus entirely on Intelligence and Dex, but it comes at the cost of your bonus damage, especially since you wonít easily qualify for Shadow Blade.

    While IUS comes online here I recommend sticking with the quarterstaff for now. Until your damage outstrips it, the ability to wield it 2-handed while still benefiting from things like flurry just makes it a better choice.
    3rd Monk 2 Deflect ArrowsB, Knowledge Devotion Invisible fist, bonus feat
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    Youíre not focused on AoO tactics, so I recommend going with Deflect Arrows over Combat Reflexes. Deflect Arrows is often dismissed as a feat choice, but being able to fully negate a missile attack every round without fail is really nice, significantly nerfing archery as a tactic against you. Speaking of immediate ways to negate attacks, invisible fist is one of my absolute favorite class features, giving you invisibility for a round as an immediate action. Disappearing in a flash is just insanely useful, letting you negate attacks, slip past foes unnoticed, cause a distraction, etc.

    Offensively you pick up Knowledge Devotion, which combines with your Int focus and access to every skill to become your main damage engine at low levels. Itís not going to blow enemies out of the water, but even at this level itís general worth a solid +2 to attack and damage against just about every enemy most combats, which will definitely come in handy.
    4th Monk 3 Darkvision
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show

    Still mind is situational at best; save boosts are never bad but this one is limited in scope and your Will save is still above average even if itís not quite at the level of a typical monk. Luckily the dark moon disciple ACF lets you trade it away for darkvision, which is always useful, and especially so for a skill-based build like yours.
    5th Warblade 1 Weapon aptitude, battle clarity (Reflex saves) Claw at the moon, sudden leap, wall of blades, hunterís sensestance
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show

    Now that you qualify for 2nd-level maneuvers, take a brief break from monk to pick up a level in warblade. Claw at the moon gives you another way to turn your skills into damage, while sudden leap is great for mobility (and becomes even better once you get Mantis Leap) and wall of blades adds on to the attack negation aspect of the build. As for your stance, itís hard to beat the utility of hunterís sense on a build like this. Being able to sniff out foes is fantastic for a scout and skillmonkey, especially when you pride yourself on never being surprised or caught unawares. Oh, and you add your Int bonus to Reflex saves as long as you arenít flat-footed (which will eventually mean all the time), which is quite nice.
    6th Monk 4 Darkstalker Ki strike (magic), standing jump
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    Your unarmed strike damage should roughly catch up to the quarterstaff now, and while I still mostly prefer the quarterstaff unless youíre playing the sleeping tiger variant (with a Strength between 14 and 18 itís a basically a difference of 2-7 vs 1-8, and I tend to prefer the higher floor/lower ceiling option), ki strike coming online means you can switch to unarmed strikes against anything with damage reduction. You should be pretty decent at identifying it thanks to your knowledge skills. As for slow fall, go ahead and replace that with either standing jump for better sudden leaps or wall walker so you can play Prince of Persia and run up and down walls with little penalty. Both are cool little abilities that fit in well with the concept of a hyper-mobile, get anywhere style monk. Iím going to write this up as standing jump, but you can make a fun case for either ACF.

    Oh, and you get Darkstalker at this level. Any stealth-based build more or less needs this feat, which allows you to successfully hide against almost anything.
    7th Monk 5 Purity of body
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    Purity of body isÖ well, Iíll be honest, I think Iíve had disease come up maybe half a dozen times total in nearly two decades of playing third edition, but itís nice to have just in case I guess? Itís required for henshin mystic, anyhow.
    8th Monk 6 Improved TripB Bonus feat
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    Improved Trip is the best of the combat maneuver feats for a reason, and while you arenít built out to be hyper-focused on tripping, as with Stunning Fist itís a nice thing to add to your toolkit.
    9th Monk 7 Mantis Leap Shadow blend
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    Ah, here we go. This is where the real money is. The dark moon discipleís shadow blend is one of the absolute best class features around, and makes staying in monk for the previous 6 levels easily worth it. Any time youíre in anything less than full daylight, you get total concealment. Yep, thatís right, total. This doesnít just mean a 50% miss chance on all attacks (though that alone would be worthwhile). This also means no attacks of opportunity, no charges, no sneak attacks, no spells or abilities that require line of sight. It also means most of the foes you face will be flat-footed against your attacks. Sure, blindsight is a thingÖ but hey, thatís what Darkstalker is for, right? Itís insanely useful defensively, and not too shabby offensively either.

    Oh, hey, and thereís another nice benefit of being a monk 7: Mantis Leap! I tend to read this relatively conservatively (in particular I wouldnít allow a player to bunny hop throughout their whole move speed, getting an attack at the end of every hop), but even without that, you have things like sudden leap for swift action leaps that can now turn into charges.
    10th Warblade 2 Iron heart surge
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    Now that youíve got shadow blend, go ahead and pop back into warblade for uncanny dodge and another maneuver: the infamous iron heart surge. After all, you pride yourself on being impossible to contain, right? The open-ended nature of this maneuver can be a bit problematic for some (what exactly constitutes a negative condition?), but no matter how conservatively you read it, youíll rarely find a better catch-all answer to just about everything that could stop you or slow you down for the low cost of a single standard action.
    11th Henshin Mystic 1 Monk abilities, riddle of awareness
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    Henshin mystic is an OA class I donít see talked about much, probably because it exists in kind of an odd space. It fully progresses your flurry, unarmed damage, AC and slow fall (check with your DM to see if you can have this advance your wall walker/standing jump instead), and it has some really interesting utility options, but the BAB and skill requirements make it awkward to qualify for. I actually think itís a fine class for all 10 levels, but even just a couple of levels have some notable benefits. Case in point: at first level you not only pick up scrying once per day (which is always excellent), you also get a nice +4 bonus to all your perception skills.
    12th Henshin Mystic 2 Heroic Spirit, Blind-FightB Blind-Fight, diamond body
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    Blind-Fight is never a bad thing to add to a melee build, especially when you have some means of sensing hidden enemies (though scent is not as precise as something like blindsense would be, it can still alert you to their presence). Diamond body is another flat immunity to add to the bundle, this time to poison. Poison is in my experience way more common than disease, and it also means you can use poisons offensively without fear of harming yourself. Nothing like dipping your hands in black lotus extract every day to really get the blood pumping...
    13th Heir of Siberys 1 Favored in HouseB Additional action points, bonus feat
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    Iím a big fan of heir of Siberys. If youíre of a dragonmarked race, you can almost always fit it onto a build, and three levels will give you +2 BAB, a couple of high level SLAs each day and either progress spellcasting for ⅔ levels or give you a pair of feats without restriction. Iím choosing to ignore the action point aspect here, simply because it has been my experience that most campaigns donít use them, but if yours does then it is even better. (In that case you may prefer Action Surge instead of Favored in House, which was specifically selected because it was the only bonus feat option that didnít rely on action points.)
    14th Heir of Siberys 2 Mark of StarsB Siberys mark (mark of sentinel)
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    With your next level you manifest your Siberys mark, specifically the mark of sentinel. This gives you mind blank once a day, which essentially makes you immune to two entire schools of magic all day long. This is something that I consider more or less essential for any high level character, but itís especially good for you. As it blocks you from showing up on any information gathering spell, explicitly including spells that scan an area, it allows you to shut down the OTHER main way foes might try to locate you while youíre running around with total concealment.

    Oh, and now that youíve got a Siberys mark, spend that bonus feat you get from not being a caster to pick up Mark of Stars. This feat might just be my absolute favorite in the game: in addition to a bonus to AC and Reflex saves, it means you are NEVER surprised or flat-footed. Thatís right, never. This is basically foresight in feat form. Yep, thatís right, this level essentially gave you two of the best high level defensive spells in the game.
    15th Heir of Siberys 3 Shape Soulmeld (phase cloak), Open Lesser Chakra (shoulders)B Improved Siberys mark
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    Improved Siberys mark means an extra use of mind blank each day. It lasts 24 hours, so itís really just there in case it gets dispelled or for you to share the love and use on your other party members. As for your feats, Shape Soulmeld and Open Lesser Chakra come on at the same time to give you the shoulders bind of the phase cloak. What does that actually mean? Well, now any time you move at least 5í in a round, you turn ethereal for the duration of that movement.Yep, you get fully ethereal movement at will. Ethereal movement is three dimensional and incredibly hard to block, without many of the restrictions of incorporeality. Basically nothing short of a wall of force should stop you from getting where you want to be now.
    16th Henshin Mystic 3 Happo zanshin, root of the mountain
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    Hey, youíre already immune to surprise and canít be caught flat-footed, and your constant total concealment should prevent sneak attack, but why not go all the way and become immune to being flanked as well? This is basically improved uncanny dodge with a fancier name, but it is right up your alley. And root of the mountain is fascinating: it is essentially a hard no to ANY effect that would force you to move for 3 rounds/day. Bull rush? Grapple? BFC spell? Nope, none of it will apply. Even the semi-voluntary movement of a fear effect canít force you to move if you activate this ability. There are a lot of ďdifficult to move meĒ-style abilities, but I donít know of any quite as complete as this one.
    17th Chameleon 1 Aptitude focus (+2)
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    You could continue with henshin mystic, but while there is some neat stuff in the last couple of levels, Iím not a huge fan of levels 4-7, which is all you have room for now. (Blindsight at level 6 is very nice, but the other abilities are flavorful but donít add a ton to a build like this.) Instead, go ahead and take a couple of levels of chameleon, which you should already more or less qualify for automatically. Youíre largely doing this for the floating feat, but even this late in the game, having what can essentially amount to access to every single 2nd-level or lower spell in the game is definitely nothing to turn your nose up at. Some low level spells will still put in a ton of work at this level, such as wraithstrike.
    18th Chameleon 2 Improved Natural Attack Bonus feat
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    The chameleon bonus feat is such a fun little feature. Every day you can select a new feat that you qualify for. Use it to fill your spellbook with rare spells via Extra Spell or craft magical items thanks to the caster level provided by your Siberys mark on your off days. When you expect combat, there are a variety of options. Martial Study/Stance for a 5th-level maneuver is always great. Shape Soulmeld is another incredibly useful feat, especially as you have a chakra open already. Or take Superior Unarmed Strike, which alongside a monkís belt and your Carmendine Monk ability to increase your effective monk level can let you hit the 20th level cap on your unarmed damage just a little bit early (which in turn becomes 4d8 damage thanks to Improved Natural Attack).
    19th Factotum 2 Arcane dilettante (1 spell)
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show
    Since you donít have quite enough levels to hit henshin mystic 6 for blindsight, you might as well pop back into factotum for a couple of levels. While arcane dilettante isnít particularly useful, you do get an extra inspiration point here, giving you yet another use of cunning insight each encounter.
    20th Factotum 3 Brains over brawn, cunning defense
    Spoiler: Build Notes
    Show

    One more factotum level gives you cunning defense, so that in the unlikely chance that someone manages to pierce your defenses, you can add your Intelligence to your AC again for a quick and easy defensive boost. You also get brains over brawn. While I doubt combat maneuvers are a huge part of your play at this level, it does represent a sizable boost to them if you are in a scenario where tripping or doing something similar is occurring. More relevantly, you also get your Int to Strength- and Dex-based skill checks, as well as all your initiative (which is a Dexterity check). Itís a passive boost not contingent upon inspiration, too, making it especially nice.

    Spoiler: Maneuvers
    Show

    Warblade Maneuvers Known
    1- Sudden leap, hunterís sensestance
    2- Claw at the moon, wall of blades
    3- Iron heart surge


    Spoiler: Stat Suggestions
    Show

    Intelligence is the name of the game, boosting your skills, factotum abilities, Reflex saves and AC, and positively influencing damage as well via Knowledge Devotion. Youíll also want a decent Strength and Dexterity. In a lower point buy game you could consider taking the sleeping tiger variant, which will let you drop Strength as low as 10 and focus exclusively on Int/Dex, though your damage will take a hit as a result. Wisdom and Charisma can be safely dropped thanks to Carmendine.

    SAMPLE STAT ARRAYS (before racial adjustments):
    28-point buy: Str 14/Dex 14/Con 12/Int 16/Wis 10/Cha 8
    32-point buy: Str 16/Dex 14/Con 12/Int 16/Wis 10/Cha 8


    Spoiler: Skills Notes
    Show

    Youíve got quite a few skill points to play around with, thanks to factotum + Able Learner, your Int focus and your bonus for being human. Youíll definitely want all of the monster-identifying knowledge skills (arcana, dungeoneering, local, nature, religion, the planes); you donít need to max all of them but you need to at least have them all as trained, and anything that youíre likely to encounter a lot is a good choice for fully investing in. Collector of stories will also not go amiss here. Stealth skills are also a must. After that, youíve got some options. Iím a fan of the perception skills, plus jump for fully benefiting from sudden leap/Mantis Leap and at least a bare minimum of ranks in the mobility skills to hit your synergy bonuses. UMD is another option, though if you go this route Iíd probably bump Charisma up to 10 so that you arenít taking a penalty. Hell, you can even go with iaijutsu focus if you want; you probably canít draw your fists but you can certainly draw a scorpion kama, so itís another possible option for bonus damage.


    Spoiler: Equipment Recommendations
    Show

    Monks tend to be a bit more equipment-dependent than most, and you are likely no different. A monkís belt is an obvious choice, allowing you to keep your unarmed damage high even with all your multiclassing. A spell trigger item of greater mighty wallop is also never going to be a bad investment if you donít have anyone in your party that can cast it for you, though if you didnít invest in UMD you will have to wait until your chameleon levels to be able to activate it. Anything that increases your unarmed damage is going to be nice (at minimum youíll want a necklace of natural attacks. A scorpion kama is relatively cheap and lets you attack with slashing damage, which is worth considering and downright essential if you go the iaijutsu focus route. (Note that thereís no reason that using greater mighty wallop on your fists wouldnít also increase the damage of your scorpion kama despite it being a slashing weapon, as it increases your unarmed damage.)
    BUILD SUMMARY
    Letís take a look at everything this build has going on defensively:

    • Permanent total concealment in any condition other than full daylight, combined with Darkstalker and max stealth investment for those who have alternative senses. In addition to the 50% miss chance, this straight up blocks charges, precision damage and any spell or ability that requires line of sight.
    • Complete immunity to surprise and the flat-footed condition.
    • Mind blank twice per day, not only defending you from mental influence but also preventing information-gathering divinations (including those that scan an area) from working.
    • Fully ethereal movement at will (not incorporeal, ethereal).
    • Iron heart surge to shut down any negative conditions.
    • Unable to be flanked.
    • Ability to fully negate any effect that would force you to move.
    • Cunning insight and cunning defense to get +Int to a save or AC as a free action.
    • Wall of blades and Deflect Arrows to negate an attack that, against all odds, manages to pierce your defenses.
    • Scent, darkvision, Blind-Fight and excellent skills for locating hidden foes.
    • Immunity to poison and disease.
    • Immediate action ability to go invisible for a round, for those levels before your shadow blend goes online or when you are in full daylight.
    • Several stacking bonuses to AC and various saves.


    Thatís an awful lot of ways to NOPE your way out of an attack. Many of these abilities come online early, many of them have offensive or out of combat utility as well, and youíve got some other neat tricks up your sleeve like scrying. Youíre hyper-mobile, and with a monkís belt you have a base unarmed damage of 3d8 before spells or other augmentation (or 4d8 with Superior Unarmed Strike via your floating feat), plus Mantis Leap and sudden leap for swift action punching.

    Damage is not your main focus at all, but it stays decently competitive early on thanks to cunning insight and Knowledge Devotion combined with an Int focus and excellent skills, while at later levels you can use Mantis Leap and unarmed strike enhancers. Greater mighty wallop alone can increase your damage from 3d8 to 12d8 per punch in a single casting; add in level-appropriate Knowledge Devotion, Strength bonus and enhancement bonuses and thatís an average of 69 points of damage per hit. Spend your floating feat on Superior Unarmed Strike or get yourself a size bonus elsewhere and that jumps to an average of 87 damage per hit. This is without looking at other low cost damage boosters such as the collision enhancement, a fanged ring, etc. Youíre no ubercharger, but landing a couple of punches a round will certainly sting. While your BAB is a bit low, maxed out Knowledge Devotion clears much of that gap, and youíve got constant total concealment and can cast wraithstrike any round you arenít using that swift action for something else. That should allow you to flurry to your heartís content without running into the dreaded flurry of misses.

    VARIANTS
    There are a few interesting options. One is to go with sleeping tiger instead of hand and foot as your monkís fighting style. This gives you Weapon Finesse and Improved Initiative for your first couple of levels. Losing Stunning Fist and Deflect Arrows is a bit sad but neither is essential to the the build, and by focusing on just Dex and Int youíll end up with somewhat better attack, AC and stealth skills at the cost of damage and the ability to do things like trip. Itís probably the better option in lower point buy games or games where you roll for stats and end up with something unbalanced.

    Speaking of the sleeping tiger variant, another consideration would be swordsage over warblade. Losing more BAB hurts, but you get a free weapon focus to make up for it, plus better skills and more maneuvers. (And if youíre really really nice to your DM, maybe you can convince them to let the unarmed swordsage stack with monk for unarmed damage instead of having its own progression.) You wonít be able to pick up iron heart surge, which felt so perfect for the build, but it would open up Shadow Blade, which would make the sleeping tiger variant definitely the better option.

    The last four levels can definitely be fiddled with as well. Four more levels of henshin mystic would net you blindsight, a few semi-situational bonus abilities, greater flurry and the ability to hit the damage of a 20th-level monk with just a monkís belt and Carmendine. I personally prefer the floating feat, extra inspiration point and +Int to initiative and other Str/Dex checks and skills, but thereís definitely an argument to be made for the henshin mystic route. And if youíre not playing with multiclassing penalties Iíd actually avoid both options and take four more levels of warblade, which will give you another stance and bump you up to 7th-level maneuvers.

    We also had a LOT of other versions of the same basic concept, such as Factotum 8/Monk 7/Heir of Siberys 3/Chameleon 2, Monk 7/Swordsage 3/Henshin Mystic 8/Heir of Siberys 2, Monk 7/Psionic Fist 10/Heir of Siberys 3, Monk 7/War Mind 10/Fist of the Forest 3, Rogue 1/Monk 7/Assassin 1/Heir of Siberys 3/Unseen Seer 8, Monk 7/Swordsage 3/Telflammar Shadowlord 4/Blade of Orien 6, Monk 7/Swordsage 4/Nightsong Enforcer 1/Shadow Sun Ninja 8, Monk 7/Swordsage 3/Heir of Siberys 2/Shadow Sun Ninja 8, Factotum 1/Monk 7/Chameleon 10/Heir of Siberys 2, Monk 7/Ardent 13, Monk 7/ Assassin 10/Heir of Siberys 3 and a bunch of others Iím probably forgetting, plus many little variants of all of the above. Yeah, I wasnít kidding when I said we went through a lot of different build stubs on this one.

    SOURCES
    • Hand and foot/sleeping tiger fighting style: Unearthed Arcana/SRD
    • Dark moon disciple monk: Champions of Valor web enhancement
    • Invisible fist ACF: Exemplars of Evil
    • Warblade, maneuvers: Tome of Battle
    • Heir of Siberys, Mark of Stars, Heroic Spirit, Favored in House: Eberron Campaign Setting and Dragonmarked
    • Henshin mystic, Mantis Leap: Oriental Adventures
    • Carmendine Monk: Champions of Valor
    • Factotum, standing jump/wall walker ACF: Dungeonscape
    • Able Learner, chameleon: Races of Destiny
    • Skill tricks: Complete Scoundrel
    • Darkstalker: Lords of Madness
    • Shape Soulmeld, Open Lesser Chakra, phase cloak: Magic of Incarnum
    • Improved Natural Attack: MM/SRD


    ***

    And thatís that! Please let us know what you think in the comments, and what youíd like to see for future showcases! (Spoiler alert: one of the potential showcase options MAY involve the other build element mentioned in the introÖ)
    Optimization Showcase in the Playground

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    IC LXXVI: Talos
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    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
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Dark Side of the Moon

    Optimization Showcase in the Playground

    Former projects:
    Shadowcaster Handbook
    Archer Build Compendium

    Iron Chef Awards!
    Spoiler
    Show

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

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Zarvistic's Avatar

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    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Dark Side of the Moon

    Interesting build! What do you think/did you consider feign death instead of invisible fist? Seems to fit well too.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Dark Side of the Moon

    I think it's really hard to give up the utility of invisible fist - even beyond the sneaking aspects, the ability to negate line of sight as an immediate action is crazy useful. But if you're starting in the mid-levels, when shadow blend is already on, that's actually a pretty decent option. Invisible fist can still come in handy at level 9+ in full daylight situations, but given the duration on darkness and similar spells, you should pretty much always be able to ensure you have shadow blend as an option. In that case feign death is definitely more useful.
    Optimization Showcase in the Playground

    Former projects:
    Shadowcaster Handbook
    Archer Build Compendium

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

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    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2014

    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Dark Side of the Moon

    How is this build getting around the Ex-Monk restriction for the warblade break?
    Excel sheet for 3.5 -- Native support for stacking rules and multiple forms; as lightweight as possible otherwise. (links currently broken, if you want a copy LMK)

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Sub-Prime Material Plane
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Dark Side of the Moon

    Nice build! I've always thought it was a shame for stealth characters that Cerebral Blind was gated behind six levels of Slayer... It might have been useful here
    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    What I care about here, though, is that the highest standard of pedantry is upheld.
    Level 6 Dread Necromancers can start the apocalypse
    Level 12 Bards can counter T1 spellcasters and kill Greater Deities

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    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Bellona

    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Dark Side of the Moon

    Quote Originally Posted by rrwoods View Post
    How is this build getting around the Ex-Monk restriction for the warblade break?
    Whoops, good point! I originally had both warblade levels come up at levels 9 and 10, but decided the low level progression was smoother if we took the first warblade level earlier and moved it.

    There are three easy fixes:

    1. Move your first warblade level to 9, keeping the build as is in all other respects.

    2. Replace Deflect Arrows with Monastic Training.

    3. Take your first warblade level at level 2, and replace claw at the moon and wall of blades with wolf fang strike and steel wind/steely strike (or go wolf fang strike/moment of perfect mind and replace hunter's sense with punishing stance).
    Optimization Showcase in the Playground

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Troacctid's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    California
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Dark Side of the Moon

    The dark lantern from ToM is a good way to ensure that you can always use shadow blend.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2014

    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Dark Side of the Moon

    Not to be the guy that says "hey this is really cool here's some more work you could do" but Imma be that guy, feel free to completely ignore this :P

    One of the things that's kind of challenging reading these builds is answering the question "if I'm DMing and this character is in my party, how do I design challenges appropriately". With this build I think it's actually less of a problem (so maybe my timing is bad here) but a lot of the previous non-damage-focused ones have had a "no save just lose" theme. I know that high level 3.5 often devolves into debuff rocket tag, but sometimes it can get extreme. With this question in mind, even a thin section on example challenges and the thinking behind them would be kinda sweet.
    Excel sheet for 3.5 -- Native support for stacking rules and multiple forms; as lightweight as possible otherwise. (links currently broken, if you want a copy LMK)

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ElfPirate

    Join Date
    Sep 2018

    Default Re: Optimization Showcase in the Playground: Dark Side of the Moon

    I do love Monk builds. A while ago I entered Junkyard Wars with a similar build, though much more focused on DPR than this one. Another two levels in Monk gives you permanent blink as long as you've got a Wis of 16+, and two levels of Rogue gives you Spell Reflection (between high AC, total concealment, blink, and Wall of Blades you should be able to reflect just about every spell cast at you that targets AC).
    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.

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