Author Topic: [3.5] Character review/optimizing (already 3rd-level, Gestalt, lotsa houserules)  (Read 198 times)

Offline Cortillaen

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Hello all!  I've lurked around these boards for a while, mostly for PF1 content, but I finally got a chance to try some 3.5 (sorta; you'll see).  I've already got a build planned out, but, as this is my first time with D&D3.5, I'd love some feedback in evaluating for things I might have missed or screwed up.

The game is already running and in the lv3-4 range (so no changes to race, ability scores, or already-made choices) and will supposedly get into the upper teens, maybe to 20.  All WotC sources are allowed as well as most 3PP and even homebrew, pending GM review. 

First off, the game this is for has a lot of houserules, many of which influence character-building, so I'll include those here.  And please no opinions about the houserules; I've expressed reservations about some of them to the GM already, and they aren't changing:
  • Using Gestalt rules with several houserules/rulings:
    • it's treated as 2 character progressions (so higher levels of a class can only be taken on the side with the previous levels)
    • HD/saves/BAB are taken as the higher of the increase each class level taken at that character level normally gain (ie a Wiz3//Rog3 gained a d6 HP increase, +1 to all saves, and +1 BAB from his third level)
    • levels are "purchased" by spending XP rather than gained at certain XP totals; the costs are the same as the amount you normally need to progress from one level to the next (ie buying a 3rd level with no LA costs 2,000XP)
    • levels on each side of the gestalt must be purchased separately (so a Wiz3//Rog2 would have to spend 3,000XP to become Wiz4//Rog2 or 2,000XP to become Wiz3//Rog3)
    • the right ("sub") side cannot exceed the total levels of the left ("main") side + LA (ie an LA+1 race could be Wiz2//Rog3, but his next level purchase must be on the main side)
    • no limit on the main side exceeding the sub side (ie you could do Wiz20//Rog1 if you wanted)
    • LA only increases costs on the main side
    • a class becoming a class skill makes it treated as such for all subsequent levels on both sides for purposes of both max ranks and buying full ranks instead of half ranks
    • both sides can contribute to meeting prereqs of PrCs and such
    • a dual-progression PrC taken on one side can progress features from one class on the other side (ie a Wiz3//Clr3 can take levels of Mystic Theurge to progress both sides)
    • the XP penalty for multiclassing is determined separately on both sides (applying favored class on both) and the worse result used
  • Using Spell Points (including the nerf to damage spells)
  • Using 5e Attack of Opportunity rules: moving within a creature's threatened area does not provoke, only leaving the area does (not just leaving a threatened square)
  • Crits all auto-confirm
  • Adding spells to a spellbook is free, mainly because of the following
  • Not exactly a houserule, but we have extremely limited access to gold, equipment, and magic items.  The party is currently a range of 3rd-5th level (ECL-wise) and has only acquired a handful of random mundane weapons and armor and some healing potions; no other magic items or equipment.  The GM is also homebrewing some weird crafting houserules, so I have no idea right now if or how crafting will work.
  • LA buyoff is allowed
  • When rolling a nat 1 on an attack roll, your attack is treated as hitting your own weapon or, if there is no weapon, yourself.  This is also applied to spell attack rolls.  For this reason (and knowing how my luck runs), I will use ray spells rarely-if-ever.

I don't know hard details of most of the other players' plans, but I can give a their current states:
  • Grey Vampire Kobold, Rogue3//DreadNecro4; I think planning on focusing minionmancy
  • Greatscale Kobold, Barbarian4//Ranger4; not sure if he even has plans beyond punching things with his 16 STR (don't even ask), but he likes his animal companion
  • Eirene, Eirene3/Crusader1//Bard4; planning on Eirene3/Crusader3/Paladin4/SublimeChord10//Bard6/LyricThaumaturge4/SeekerOfSong10
  • Deep Fishman, Fighter3//Duskblade4; not sure on plans but likes the Duskblade stuff a lot and wants to be the cornerstone of any formation
  • Might be picking up one more; no details yet

I joined a bit later and was told the party could needed both magical support and Divine magic.  After spending entirely too long reading through a hundred classes/PrCs, I decided to do a hardcore theurge build since the gestalt rules remove the only real limitation (and since PF theurges are just sad).  I want to avoid some of the worst cheese I've read about (Archivist abuse, Factotum gestalt blitz-casting, Persisting divine super-buffs, etc) but 1) have a huge array of options for whatever the party needs, and 2) have some big tricks I can pull out if the party gets into a bind.  Kind of a tightrope act of subjectivity, I know.

The main thing is I don't want to build and super-specialize for some game-breaking wombo-combo and be vastly less effective outside of that trick.  My goal is to be a super-generalist using a wide range of buffs, debuffs, battlefield control, SoSs, and some SoLs in combat.  Blasting is out almost entirely thanks to banning Evocation and the Spell Points rules nerfing it anyway.  I'll focus on making the battle's outcome a foregone conclusion but let the combatants actually get us there.

As for the campaign, the GM appears to have a habit (probably 5e-induced, I think) of treating high-threat encounters as the standard and has had to backpedal a couple times to avoid TPKs (an encounter last level with 2 Blink Dogs, 1 incorporeal WIS-damaging undead, and 4 2nd-level Wizards; this level we had a Drider + 6 Araneas that started out surrounding us at about 20ft away).  Outside of combat, it's a very freeform campaign involving monster races trying to get refugees somewhere safe and eventually building up to strike back at a human empire.

Where I currently stand is a Freyinsar Wizard3//Binder1/Factotum1/Warlock1.  Ability scores are probably not surprising at STR 8, DEX 8, CON 14, INT 22, WIS 10, CHA 13.  I plan to advance both sides of the gestalt pretty evenly so I don't just ramp up the spellcasting power of the main side too fast.  Here's my leveling plan and how the HD/saves/BAB stack up (bonuses from ability scores not included, and it's an image because trying to format this table here is not a punishment I want to endure):

Relevant factors:
  • The Factotum levels are to get INT to initiative and most physical skill checks as well as a pool of "No" for saves; I know swapping the first levels of Binder and Factotum would have been a big benefit, but oh well
  • The Binder and Warlock progressions are almost exclusively for passive benefits
  • The first two levels of Anima Mage will progress Wizard casting to catch it up from the two levels of Ur-Priest.  The rest of Anima Mage will progress Warlock.
  • Aligned Spellcaster to make all of my non-Good spells Evil (GM says the language applies even to non-Wizard spells)
  • Abyssal Specialist to have all Evil spells as my specialist school; my banned school is Evocation
  • Theurgic Specialist + Ur-Priest appears to do funky things to my caster level for all those Evil spells.  Like CL20 at 10th-level and CL40 at 20th sorts of funky.  Being nearly dispel-proof sounds fun, and I wonder if there are any uncapped spells out there this will boost.
  • I've already used the LA buyoff to remove my LA+1 for the bargain price of 3,000XP.
And here's my planned feats:
  • Race - Spell Focus (Evil)
  • 1st Level - Lost Tradition (Ur-Priest, INT)
  • Wizard 1 - Scribe Scroll
  • 3rd Level - Iron Will (confirmed with GM I can retrain to Sculpt Spell after the first level of Ur-Priest)
  • Wizard 5 - Extend Spell
  • 6th Level - Theurgic Specialist
  • 9th Level - Greater Spell Focus (Evil) (confirmed with GM I can take this)
  • 12th Level - Quicken Spell
  • 15th Level - Chain Spell
  • 18th Level - Divine Metamagic - Quicken
big exhale  If you've read this far, thank you for your attention.  I've had no actual experience with 3.5 before this game, so if I've missed something important, please call it out.  Likewise, I'll be happy to fill in any information I've forgotten to include.  I'm open to ideas on changing the class progressions, feats, or anything else, though I'd like to stick with the general theme of a support-oriented generalist theurge.

I'm heading to bed momentarily, but I'll check in after work tomorrow.  Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to read this!

Offline Skyrock

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Is setting-specific material allowed? As you already went through the hoops of gaining the giant type, the Primordial Giant template from Secrets (p.81) could be really useful to you just for the stat adjustments. The SLAs and the rest are just icing.

Your abilities are vastly more varied than the rest of the party. It won't matter so much at ECL 4, but if the game progresses to mid and higher levels you might need to pull your punches and try not to overshadow the other party members. Fortunately they are mostly beatsticks, who can be easily made happy by dropping buffs, debuffs, battlefield control and other spells that make them better beatsticks without you stealing their thunder.

With the prospensity of high-threat encounters, keep some escape spells ready to save the party and fight another day if necessary - teleports, walls, shelter, that kind of thing. Grease and Expeditious Retreat make for the el cheapo versions at your current ECL.

EDIT:
  • 3rd Level - Iron Will (confirmed with GM I can retrain to Sculpt Spell after the first level of Ur-Priest)
An Otyugh Hole (Complete Scoundrel) could get you the feat for free. Not likely if the DM is stingy with rewards, but worth a look.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2021, 02:43:42 PM by Skyrock »

Offline Cortillaen

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Thanks for the feedback!

Is setting-specific material allowed? As you already went through the hoops of gaining the giant type, the Primordial Giant template from Secrets (p.81) could be really useful to you just for the stat adjustments. The SLAs and the rest are just icing.
That sounds really interesting and the GM has allowed a couple other setting-specific things.  Unfortunately, I don't have that book, and I can't change my race at this point anyway.  It would be pretty crazy getting an extra +4 INT for this build, though :lol  Maybe I'll see if he'll let me pursue a transformation later or something since that would be in-line with the character's goals as well.

Your abilities are vastly more varied than the rest of the party. It won't matter so much at ECL 4, but if the game progresses to mid and higher levels you might need to pull your punches and try not to overshadow the other party members. Fortunately they are mostly beatsticks, who can be easily made happy by dropping buffs, debuffs, battlefield control and other spells that make them better beatsticks without you stealing their thunder.
Heh, I might have gone slightly overboard, but this is the first time I've spotted a 3.5 game that was recruiting and at a time I could do.  I almost never see 3.5 games recruiting at all, unfortunately.  It's a shame since I'd love to experiment more with the incredible array of class options out there.
In any case, I plan to spend a lot of my casting power boosting rest of the party (and I just noticed Greater Magic Weapon and Magic Vestment both scale with my broken CL, so they'll appreciate those) once I get a few more levels under my belt.  I'll save the nastier tricks for when we're struggling.

With the prospensity of high-threat encounters, keep some escape spells ready to save the party and fight another day if necessary - teleports, walls, shelter, that kind of thing. Grease and Expeditious Retreat make for the el cheapo versions at your current ECL.
Do you have any specific recommendations outside of sorta the standard Dimension Door, Teleport, and various Wall of Whatever spells?  Luckily, the Spell Points rules removes much of the opportunity cost of having emergency spells ready.

An Otyugh Hole (Complete Scoundrel) could get you the feat for free. Not likely if the DM is stingy with rewards, but worth a look.
With the ridiculous Will stacking going on, I'm not too worried about missing it, and I doubt the GM would allow it without a pretty high chance of death.

Offline Skyrock

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Do you have any specific recommendations outside of sorta the standard Dimension Door, Teleport, and various Wall of Whatever spells?  Luckily, the Spell Points rules removes much of the opportunity cost of having emergency spells ready.
Those are the staple escape spells.

The Tiny Hut line can also be a life-saver that is worth having prepped for whenever you really really need a really really secure break real quick.

Offline Keldar

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Benign Transposition (Level 1, Spell Compendium), is good for bail-outs on the tactical level.  Also useful for using someone with a charger build to help move a pokey character into place.

Offline Cortillaen

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Thanks, that one is fascinating.  So many uses come to mind.  We don't have a charger, but that would be hilarious to have someone charging, me swapping them for another character who can then full-attack instead of moving in, and then the charger just charges in again.  Especially once I can quicken it, it just redefines battlefield positioning.  Too bad the GM swapped the 3.5 threat/AoO rules for 5e ones and neutered area protection.

Random:  I just realized the Anima Mage capstone is utterly insane.  Cast any spell, no matter the cast time, as an Immediate action.  Even just once per day, the sheer shenanigans possible are mind-boggling.

Offline Keldar

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Those weird AoO rules just mean the best weapon for area denial are bog standard pole arms.  Eat your heart out spiked chain, longspear still gets to whack people moving into the donut hole.  Suck it dragons, a guy with a glaive is more annoying to close with!  Embiggen for extra annoyance.

Offline Cortillaen

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Those weird AoO rules just mean the best weapon for area denial are bog standard pole arms.  Eat your heart out spiked chain, longspear still gets to whack people moving into the donut hole.  Suck it dragons, a guy with a glaive is more annoying to close with!  Embiggen for extra annoyance.
Presumably, yeah, anything that doesn't threaten adjacent squares gets to AoO on the way in, but I expect this GM won't run them that way (just based on his "that's too complicated" rulings so far).  I expect he'll just houserule fill in the donut.

Reach has actually become counterproductive for defense since the martials can't AoO someone on the way in, only on their way out of their threatened area.  So having longer reach just makes a larger area they can move around in without provoking, meaning casters have to stay even further away (just setting them up for inevitable ambush).  And Combat Reflexes is vastly less useful since you will never get more than one AoO on a creature going past you.  Makes staying alive as a low-level caster even more challenging than the usual being made of paper.