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Sobolev

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Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power [WIP]
« on: November 21, 2010, 07:14:32 AM »
Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power
Table of Contents

Introduction
     The Sha'ir is a rather obscure Charisma based caster with an Arabian Nights flavor.  Originally printed in Dragon Magazine #315 it was later reprinted in Dragon Compendium.  Aided by his or her Genie familiar the Sha'ir can acquire any Wizard/Sorcerer spell given enough time, along with a small number of domain spells.  Sha'ir is an interesting combination of Wizard and Sorcerer with access to the arcane and the divine.  There seems to be basically no information about them on the interwebs, except recently when I've spammed the forum with various questions about them in the hopes of writing this guide.  I doubt I'm quite qualified to write this guide as my experience in the world of Min/Max is limited, but I'm researching them these days anyway so I figured I'd post it up.  Thanks to everyone who gave me their interpretation of rules in the various "Ask A Simple Question..." threads as well as in this thread where I got many of my ideas from.  All credit goes to the people who supplied it in the first place and at some point I will likely make a "Thanks" list.  That being said, the actual guide you are reading now is my compilation and ratings of the ideas I've heard or read about.  Feel free to disagree or submit something to the Guide, as I expect it to be quite limited to begin with.  Enjoy.

On the Matter of Tier
I don't see any conceivable way the sha'ir could not be Tier 1, assuming that timed-out spells do not count against spells per day. It's a full caster with unrestricted access to the sorc/wiz spell list and full flexibility for any individual character to use any spell from the list. The class has some unusual quirks that need to be accounted for, but they don't change the class's fundamental nature as a tier 1 caster.

Role in the Party
  • Big Stupid Fighter: You have d4 hit points, no shield, no armor, and poor BAB.  What are you even thinking?  This is a terrible role for you.
  • Glass Canon: You are basically a Wizard/Sorcerer hybrid.  You can technically do this job, but I agree with many that this is a waste of your skills.  Additionally I don't think your spell preparation lends itself to preparing 10 Lightning Bolts.  Leave this to someone else.
  • Battlefield Controller: This is your time to shine.  You have every spell, just like a Wizard and you can cast them when it matters, just like a Sorcerer.  Use this power like a champ.  For more information on how to play this style look here.

Grading Scale
I'm sure most of you are familiar with this system, but here it is for completeness.
  • Red: This option is terrible.  Avoid this.
  • Green: This option is meh.  I guess you can take this for RP?  This color was originally black, but I thought it blended in an ugly way.
  • Blue: This is a nice option, you should probably take it.
  • Purple: This option is perfect.  Practically custom made to benefit Sha'ir.  If you don't take this option, there should be a reason.

Thanks!
Thanks to...
  • AfterCrescent, not only did AC write an excellent Cleric guide but I stole its excellent formatting.
  • CantripN, who had many good ideas for this class, many of which I stole and put in here.
More to Come.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2010, 02:51:50 AM by Sobolev »
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Quote from: Negative Zero on November 04, 2009, 02:16:14 AM
In my humble opinion, CO is haberdashery. Some say we're mad, but we can all agree we're hatters. Yes, we have potential to make very sophisticated hats, very fancy hats, be they dark or light. But the truth is that the color of the hat does not come from the group of us - our community doesn't directly produce hats. We simply give average head circumferences, list current fashion trends, and point out some shiny, obscure baubles to add to the latest hat line.

Sobolev

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-phenomenal, Nearly-cosmic Power
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2010, 07:14:43 AM »
Attributes, Races and Templates
Attributes
  • Strength: This is a dump stat.  We went over this when we talked about Boris the Strong and Fair.  You need enough to carry your stuff and walk, and not a point more.
  • Dexterity: This is a nice stat.  Adds to your AC, your Touch Attacks, and your crossbow when you're waiting for spells.
  • Constitution: Hit Points are great, and everyone knows it.  You can't be great if you're dead.  Make sure you do something with this.
  • Intelligence: If you're playing a human, get a 10 here, otherwise get a 12.  You need three skills and you only get 2 per level.  If you get a bonus language, keep in mind that your Gen knows its elemental language and common so you can add something else.
  • Wisdom: Dump!  This is for Clerics.  Keep in mind it adds to your saves and then realize you don't care.
  • Charisma: Casting! Diplomacy! Bonus Spells!  What a great stat!  Max it if you can, with the right templates you can start with a 24 at LA +0 and wouldn't that be swell?

     I personally would likely build this way, but there is a fair argument to be made for switching Intelligence and Dexterity.  By switching the two you gain more skill points per level and are more easily able to meet prerequisites of prestige classes and more easily get synergy bonuses to your Diplomacy.  My rating of stats is most relevant to people who are playing the Sha'ir "straight", going to Sha'ir 20 or at the least not trying to get too much past their DM.  These people are likely NOT trying to convince their DM that Sha'ir/Skypledged is fair and balanced.

Sample Builds (32-Point Buy)
  • Human: Str 08/Dex 14/Con 14/Int 10/Wis 10/Cha 18
  • Other:  Str 08/Dex 14/Con 14/Int 12/Wis 08/Cha 18

Races
Player's Handbook:
  • HumanPHB: Not only is a bonus feat just as good as ever, and trust me it's good, but the extra skill point allows your character to have a 10 Int score and still max your three skills you need to function.  This is a strong choice that I would recommend if you're "playing it straight."
  • DwarfPHB: +2 Con, -2 Cha.  While a Con Bonus is nice, this race comes with a Charisma penalty.  Additionally, many of the racial traits don't even benefit you.  You can't wear armor and you hopefully aren't getting tripped often.  Dwarves are a great race, but Sha'ir should look elsewhere.
  • ElfPHB: +2 Dex, -2 Con.  The stat bonuses you spend points to undo and your template is going to give you low-light vision anyway.  This race is too popular to be this underwhelming.
  • GnomePHB: +2 Con, -2 Str.  Being small is nice but the rest of this is unexciting.
  • Half-ElfPHB: You may be fooled by the +2 Diplomacy, but this race is a trap.  Compare to a race that gives +2 Charisma and you'll quickly realize you're giving up actual racial features to get +1 Diplomacy and to look like a fruit.  Avoid at all costs.
  • Half-OrcPHB: +2 Str, -2 Int, -2 Cha.  If you're actually reading this, I can only assume you're doing it for RP reasons.  This is the wrong guide.  Please go to this website and read the works of this man.
  • HalflingPHB: +2 Dex, -2 Str.  Small, with a nice racial bonus to saves.  Being small gives all the usual suspects of bonuses.  I would likely recommend the Feat Halflings instead, but Core only you can do much worse than play a Halfling.  See above.

Other Races:
  • RaptoranRotW: What?!  How can I rate these guys as purple when they don't give a Charisma bonus?  Honestly I must be insane!  The real reason is because I believe one of the strongest abuses with this class is to go in to Skypledged and get access to Divine Spellpool.  That combined with your Sha'ir powers should give you access to most things, and the Spellpool will cover you when you find yourself without a spell.  An excellent choice.
  • KoboldRotD: For those who don't know, the trick is to get the feat Dragonwrought.  With it you no longer take aging penalties so just start yourself off in the last age category, getting +3 to all your mental stats.  Pretty snazzy. It's a little cheesy though and won't mesh well with a regular group.
  • Lesser CansinDR 297: +2 Int, +2 Charisma.  Gives you those extra skill points and gives you a casting bonus.  An excellent choice, similar to human for people who are playing the class "straight" as an Arcane caster. Thanks to The Mad Linquist for bringing them up.
  • Lesser D'hin'niDR 350: +2 Dex, -2 Wis, +2 Cha.  Some SLA's, and the 1/day ones aren't bad.  They have small size too which is great. Thanks again to TML.
  • Lesser CeladrinDR 350:+2 Dex, -2 Con, +2 Cha.  I hate Elves, but these are about as good as it's gonna get for elves. Another TML find.
  • Lesser AasimarPGtF: The lesser Aasimar give up not much, in order to become an excellent caster for you.  The Wisdom bonus is likely just balancing out you dumping but charisma is nice.  I'm not as keen on them as Cansin, but they are a good choice nonetheless.  Avoid the "Greater" Aasimar as they are a waste of LA.
  • Strongheart HalflingFR: A far cry from some of the other blues, but still a good option.  You're still small and you get a bonus feat.  I would likely consider another option, but I'm not going to knock them, and they're still heads and shoulders above some others.
  • Star ElfUnA: +2 Charisma is nice, but it comes with a Constitution penalty.  You can do better, but you can do a lot worse.

     While so far I've posted quite a few Races that I think are "Pretty Good", among these I think Kobolds, Raptoran, Humans and Lesser Cansin are the real winners.  I would select one of these depending on how accepting your group is of optimizers.

Templates:
  • Magic-Blooded (Spark)DR 306: LA +0. This template is 3.0 but pefect!  Penalty to a dump stat and a bonus to your casting stat.  As an added bonus it gives skill bonuses to a skill you will probably never have, Knowledge (Arcana), and a skill you'll have to keep up with to learn new spells by observation, Spellcraft.  This feels custom-made for Sha'ir everywhere.
  • Unseelie FeyDR 304: LA +0. This template does a lot!  While it has some penalties, it increases your HD to a d6, gives you wings, gives you a charisma bonus, gives you DR.  A definite possibility. Strength penalties (which may end up putting you TOO low), combined with a penalty to your Con (nullifying on average the HD buff) prevents this from being Purple, though it does let you start the game with a Charisma of 24.
  • Ritual of AssociationSavage: LA +0. If you need to qualify for Skypledged but don't want to be a Raptoran here's how you become a Humanoid (Raptoran).  You'll still need Extraordinary Flight, which is debatably provided by Unseelie Fey, and is definitely provided by Dragonborn and a few others.  Something to keep in mind, but it isn't cheap and will require some DM intervention as it's 3.0
  • DragonbornRotD: LA +0. Gives a Constitution bonus, and is a possibility for getting extraordinary wings to qualify for Skypledged.  You'll still need to impersonate a Raptoran in some way.  I'm not sure what Race this should be applied to however, since you will often want to keep your racial features. Still something to keep in mind.
  • SaintBoED: LA +2.  Gives some nice bonuses, but has an LA.  Consider if you're in an LA buyoff game.  In games without LA buyoff I try to avoid LA's, but you can use this if it floats your boat.
  • PhrenicXPH: LA +2.  Another Template with reasonable bonuses, and some Psionic Powers.  Same as Saint with the LA buyoff.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2011, 07:07:41 PM by Sobolev »
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Quote from: Negative Zero on November 04, 2009, 02:16:14 AM
In my humble opinion, CO is haberdashery. Some say we're mad, but we can all agree we're hatters. Yes, we have potential to make very sophisticated hats, very fancy hats, be they dark or light. But the truth is that the color of the hat does not come from the group of us - our community doesn't directly produce hats. We simply give average head circumferences, list current fashion trends, and point out some shiny, obscure baubles to add to the latest hat line.

Sobolev

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-phenomenal, Nearly-cosmic Power
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2010, 07:14:51 AM »
Class Features and ACFs
Class Features
  • Spells: You have access to all Sorcerer/Wizard spells given enough time, and in addition you have some spells known that you are able to retrieve more quickly.  You'll occasionally find yourself with your pants down, but on the whole it's a trade worth making in my opinion.  You also have access to a small number of domain spells.  However, these domains are limited and many of the spells provided are terrible.  Many are Wizard spells already, and there's no reason to take 60 times as long to retrieve the spell.  Of all the domain spells available the only ones I find particularly interesting are Control Water (available several spell levels early), Control Winds (Druid Telekinesis), Find the Path, and Miracle.  The only real advantage to the divine spells here is that because you can cast Divine spells you can qualify for prestige classes and are an Arcane/Divine caster.  It's also worth noting that while this class may seem like a sorcerer, you're on the fast track for spells, not the slow one.
  • Gen Familiar (1st Level): Originally I ranked these as lower, at Red, mostly because I don't like having a guy hanging around who can die and lose me experience.  They have low hp (having half of your d4+con) and prevent you from getting Improved Familiar or the like.  However, Gen Familiar you have people sticking up for you!  With all of your skills and skills of its own that you might not have, along with some having a fly speed and hide it's not as terrible as I make it out to be.  Just keep it safe and if you can't tell it to go get you a spell.
  • Recognize Genie Works (3rd Level): This ability is red, red, red, RED.  I considered making an extra color JUST FOR THIS.  This ability is unbelievably bad and will never come up ever.  In fact, if it ever comes up please let me know and I'll give you a penny or something.  I wouldn't even sweat it if you can't make the check.  Maybe in certain campaigns this will come up...but I doubt it.
  • Elemental Protection (5th Level): Okay, we're finally getting somewhere.  I was starting to worry.  The resistances are low, to the point where I doubt they'll matter much but I like the bonus on saves.  If you have a Fire Gen, a bonus on your saves against fireball isn't too shabby.  You'll probably go this far for the extended memory of spells anyway so not a bad pick-up.  You can do a lot worse.
  • Call Janni (7th Level): I'm honestly a little underwhelmed by this ability, but as pointed out in another thread if nothing else you can summon your own personal vendor to unload some things holding you back.  Additionally it makes decent planar travel available to you and you can use it to go Etheral.
  • Elemental Travel (9th Level): Crap, you got caught without any spells.  Just go somewhere else.  I recommend the Plane of Air probably, as it's likely the safest.  Additionally, you can call a Janni when you're ready to return home.
  • Call Genie (11th Level): Get Wishes!  We're really cooking now!  You probably won't get this far before you prestige class though.  Still, the ability itself is pretty snazzy and has all the benefits of Janni plus Wishes, and who doesn't love those.
  • Craft Genie Prison (13th Level): Annnnnnd the class ends with a stinker.  This is not worth it at all.  If you have to be a Sha'ir 12/Wizard 8 so you don't get this ability then do it!  This ability is shameful!  That being said, Calling Genie's and Janni and then imprisoning them with Flasks isn't a terrible idea!  Use the real feat though and ignore this waste of ink.

Alternate Class Features
     Sha'ir are obscure, and not well supported.  I know of no alternate class features for them.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2011, 05:25:28 PM by Sobolev »
Sha'ir Handbook
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Quote from: Negative Zero on November 04, 2009, 02:16:14 AM
In my humble opinion, CO is haberdashery. Some say we're mad, but we can all agree we're hatters. Yes, we have potential to make very sophisticated hats, very fancy hats, be they dark or light. But the truth is that the color of the hat does not come from the group of us - our community doesn't directly produce hats. We simply give average head circumferences, list current fashion trends, and point out some shiny, obscure baubles to add to the latest hat line.

Sobolev

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-phenomenal, Nearly-cosmic Power
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2010, 07:14:58 AM »
Skills, Skill Tricks, Feats
Skills
  • Diplomacy: Not only is this skill good all on its own, you need this skill to get spells.  Max it and consider crazy things like Skill Focus (Diplomacy).  Or not.  However, you should max it and get various bonuses to increase your ability to use it.  Nymph's Kiss or a Circlet of Persuasion will go a long way to ensuring you get the spell you asked for.  If you fail a check you wasted all that time, particularly brutal for divine spells, and if you fail by 5 or more your Gen gets lost on its way home, wasting more time.  Max it.
  • Concentration: You never want this skill to come up, but it eventually will and then you'll really want it to work.  Max this skill.
  • Spellcraft: You need this skill to identify spells, which is more than just a counterspell opportunity since it basically adds them to your "spellbook".  The rules are unclear if a spellcaster can cast a spell and then tell you what it is.  Do you auto-succeed the check?  Be sure to be able to identify as high a spell level as possible because there's no way of telling how many times the DM will show you that spell.  Also, as far as I know there is no rule preventing you from spellcrafting a spell levels before you could ever cast it.  Look in to watching high level mages duel each other in the town square or something.
  • Bluff: Get your synergy bonus.
  • Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty): More synergy. You'll need a way to get it as a class skill though.
  • Sense Motive: Finishing out your +6 Diplomacy.
  • Tumble: Get yourself a rank so you can get a 50-50 shot of getting away if you ever need to. The DC is only 15, so with a couple points of Dex you have some chance rather than no chance.
  • Knowledge (Arcana): Knowledge (Arcana) is far from a bad skill, however you only get 2+Int skills per level and you have 3 that you want to max so it's unlikely you'll be providing this particular service at a competent level.  Let your party know that you won't be providing this so the guy with Knowledge Devotion will or something.  The party will likely just assume you have it since you're an arcane caster and you don't want them to find out at an inconvenient time.
  • Other Skills: Any other skills you get are most likely going to be to fulfill various Prestige Class requirements as your other class skills aren't too exciting.  Craft (Glassblowing) could be a fascinating character concept for a guy who makes fancy genie bottles and traps Genies but that really doesn't belong here.

Gen Skills
     Gen "advance as a normal familiar, gaining all the normal benefits described in the Familiars section on page 52 of the Player's Handbook" which means in addition to the skill list it already has, it has a copy of all of your skills.  Gen have some decent skills on their own and possess the excellent ability to Aid you and make you look even better.  Here's a quick run-down.
  • All of your Skills: Gen have all of your skills, use it to Aid you.  In particular, if your Gen isn't fetching you a spell you should never Diplomacy without it.  When asked how your Gen assists you, ask your DM if he or she is familiar with the concept of Good Cop/Bad Cop or a plant in a crowd who cheers at all the right times.  If you picked up Use Magic Device Gen speak so they are able to activate magic items as well and you certainly have the charisma to activate it on your end.
  • Spellcraft: Your Gen has ranks in Spellcraft, but will probably get a better bonus from hanging out with you.  Don't forget its +1 for Int.  Never identify a spell alone if you don't need to.
  • Knowledge (Arcana): See! You get the skill after all.  It's only +5 but your Gen can perform this identifying task for the party at lowish levels.
  • Knowledge (The Planes): Same as above, more Knowledges that you might not have, don't forget your familiar has them!  Who needs a normal familiar when you have an extraplanar Genie.
  • Senses: Your familiar isn't the best at it, but it has Search, Spot, Listen and Survival as skills.  With you likely having a poor wisdom and perhaps not a ton of extra points to sink in to detection, your Familiar can try to help you out.  It's definitely better than nothing, and don't forget about it.

Skill Tricks
  • Swift ConcentrationCS: Can be quite helpful sometimes, might be worth it if you find yourself using concentration spells.  Remember, however you cannot cast a spell while you're concentrating on another spell, even if you don't take an action because of this text:
    Quote from: Player's Handbook pg 176
    You can't cast a spell while concentrating on another one.

Feats
  • DragonwroughtRotD: If you're a Kobold, pick this up and become amazing.
  • Nymph's KissBoED: Extra skill points and a skill bonus to your purple skill.  Does require you to be good.
  • LeadershipPHB: This basically gives you a second character, and you have Charisma anyway.  For added fun, get yourself someone to do Circle Magic with you.
  • Sociable PersonalityRoD: Half-Elves are bad, but if you must be one, you MUST get this feat.  
  • Craft Wonderous ItemPHB: While not min/maxed to the extreme, because it's basically trading your feat slot for money, I feel that in a "real" campaign, money is an actual issue and being able to make your own stuff can save you a good amount of money in the long run.  While the loss of experience seems like a problem, eventually you will fall behind a level and then gain extra experience which will help you keep up.  It's not for every game but it's worth considering.  Additionally, with access to all arcane spells and with the proper set up divine spells as well you can make anything you like.
  • Dragon WingsRotD: Get wings as part of your Raptoran disguise.
  • OtherworldlyPGtF: I don't know how you became one of the required races, but if you did this feat isn't bad and gives you a +2 Diplomacy.  I wouldn't ever qualify though, but it's here in case you want it.  Deep Imaskari (Underdark [Deep Imaskar]), elf (Evermeet, Sildeyuir), or spirit folk (Ashane) only.  Can also qualify with the Celestial-Attended BirthCoV regional background.
  • Vow of PovertyBoED: This is awful.  How do you bargain with Genies if you have no money?  I only bring this up because people are constantly trying to find Vow of Poverty's role in life.  I thought people might be fooled just because Sha'ir don't need spellbooks.  Do not get this feat.
  • Improved FamiliarCW: You actually can't get this because you need your Gen to get you spells.  Alas!
More to come...


Traits
  • AggressiveUA: Initiative is good for casters, and good for people who need to wait for spells.
  • HonestUA: Get a bonus on that skill you need to cast spells, +1 Diplomacy.
  • PoliteUA: Same as above, with an even less relevant penalty.
  • FocusedUA: Concentration is an important skill, but there are better traits to get.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 04:53:53 AM by Sobolev »
Sha'ir Handbook
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Quote from: Negative Zero on November 04, 2009, 02:16:14 AM
In my humble opinion, CO is haberdashery. Some say we're mad, but we can all agree we're hatters. Yes, we have potential to make very sophisticated hats, very fancy hats, be they dark or light. But the truth is that the color of the hat does not come from the group of us - our community doesn't directly produce hats. We simply give average head circumferences, list current fashion trends, and point out some shiny, obscure baubles to add to the latest hat line.

Sobolev

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-phenomenal, Nearly-cosmic Power
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2010, 07:15:08 AM »
Spells Reserve
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 06:17:24 AM by Sobolev »
Sha'ir Handbook
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Quote from: Negative Zero on November 04, 2009, 02:16:14 AM
In my humble opinion, CO is haberdashery. Some say we're mad, but we can all agree we're hatters. Yes, we have potential to make very sophisticated hats, very fancy hats, be they dark or light. But the truth is that the color of the hat does not come from the group of us - our community doesn't directly produce hats. We simply give average head circumferences, list current fashion trends, and point out some shiny, obscure baubles to add to the latest hat line.

Sobolev

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  • ****
  • Posts: 742
Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-phenomenal, Nearly-cosmic Power
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2010, 07:15:18 AM »
Equipment Reserve
« Last Edit: November 21, 2010, 07:17:42 AM by Sobolev »
Sha'ir Handbook
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Quote from: Negative Zero on November 04, 2009, 02:16:14 AM
In my humble opinion, CO is haberdashery. Some say we're mad, but we can all agree we're hatters. Yes, we have potential to make very sophisticated hats, very fancy hats, be they dark or light. But the truth is that the color of the hat does not come from the group of us - our community doesn't directly produce hats. We simply give average head circumferences, list current fashion trends, and point out some shiny, obscure baubles to add to the latest hat line.

Sobolev

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-phenomenal, Nearly-cosmic Power
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2010, 07:15:37 AM »
Multiclass & Prestige Classes
Dips
     Why dip?  You're a caster.  It's a loss of caster levels and you probably don't get anything out of it.

Prestige Class
     Now this, this is awesome.  Sha'ir class features are eh, and Sha'ir has a lot of dead levels.  Additionally, Sha'ir are Divine and Arcane casters! The class provides the ability to cast both spells so find all those great PrC's and use them to your heart's content.
  • SkypledgedRotW:  Divine Spellpool helps a ton.  Not only do you now have access to the Arcane and the Divine (but for real now) you now have something to cover your butt if you're caught without spells.  Why don't sorcerers take this class?  It only increases your Divine Caster level...wait a moment!  As long as your DM agrees you are part Divine Caster (and they should) this is a dream come true.  Requires Raptoran, Extraordinary Flight and the Ability to cast Summon Monster IV.
  • ContemplativeCD: Improves your casting and gives you a domain at first level.  Use it to qualify for other things.  Thumbs up all around.  It does have a hefty skill requirement and it's not a class skill for Sha'ir so you'll need to plan ahead.
  • DweomerkeeperCD Web: Nice little class providing a spell as a Supernatural ability some number of times per day.  You already cast Divine and Arcane spells so just pick up a domain, like with Contemplative and go from there.
  • Dark Pilgrim of TakhisisHOotS:  Downsides: Requires a bad feat, requires evil.  Your wisdom bonus probably isn't good, but add it to your diplomacy. Get Sneak Attack and Poison Use (meh).  Get Charisma to saves at level 3.  Bingo! Full casting all the way through. but I think I'd jump out at 3 most of the time, as Slippery Mind will likely not help much.
  • Halruaan ElderSS: Gives access to Circle Magic at fifth level, also reduces some metamagic costs (up to four separate feats) and gives a few Signature Spells.  I do love Circle Magic.  Requires a feat you might want, a feat you probably don't want, a metamagic feat and a crafting feat.  It also requires a bunch of skills, but those ones you probably actually want anyway.
  • Mage of the Arcane OrderCAr: Spellpool is nice and you can use it in a pinch on days when the DM is evil and finds you without spells.  That being said it's a lot of levels (Seven) and you get a lot of what you already have going for you, except it comes a little faster.  At this point you should play something else.  I greatly, greatly recommend getting access to the Divine Spellpool instead.
  • ArchmageDMG: Making spells reach can be helpful, and Master of Elements can let you substitute elements so you don't become an Oathbreaker.  Requirements are mighty harsh though, and I think there are better options to be had.
  • Paragnostic ApostleCC: Remember this costs you money!  However, this class can give some decent bonuses.  Mind over Matter in conjunction with Mage Armor and Greater Mage Armor is a big one but several can be good depending on the character or the campaign.  Penetrating Insight is another strong choice for most.  Manifest Ethos can be quite good for blasters, though I suggest you not be one.
  • Urban SavantCity: Requires a bunch of skills and Bardic Lore (or another skill).  Then requires a bunch of skills to function, and often does what most DMs interpret Knowledge Checks to do with no investment of Prestige Class.  With 3 Skills that must be maintained, I don't know if a Sha'ir can support this class (or get much from it).  That being said, with certain DMs, this could be a huge upgrade in what they tell you with a proper knowledge skill.  This is highly DM dependant.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2010, 09:45:16 AM by Sobolev »
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Quote from: Negative Zero on November 04, 2009, 02:16:14 AM
In my humble opinion, CO is haberdashery. Some say we're mad, but we can all agree we're hatters. Yes, we have potential to make very sophisticated hats, very fancy hats, be they dark or light. But the truth is that the color of the hat does not come from the group of us - our community doesn't directly produce hats. We simply give average head circumferences, list current fashion trends, and point out some shiny, obscure baubles to add to the latest hat line.

Sobolev

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-phenomenal, Nearly-cosmic Power
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2010, 07:15:55 AM »
Sample Builds
Top-of-the-Head Skypledged
[spoiler]
I haven't fully thought this through, so some of the feats would probably be different, but for demonstrative purposes:

Magic Touched Unseelie Fey/Raptoran
Point Buy (32 Points)
8/10/14/14/10/18
With Modifers
6/12/12/14/10/22

Sha'ir 8/Skypledged 7/Contemplative 1/Dweomerkeeper 4

Skills:
Spellcraft, Concentration, Diplomacy Maxed
Knowledge (Arcana) 8
Knowledge (Religion) 13
Bluff 5
Sense Motive 5
Tumble 1
15 Points Left

Feats:
1st: Nymph's Kiss
3rd: Improved Initiative
6th: Craft Wondrous Item
9th: Extend Spell
12th: Quicken Spell
15th: Spell Penetration
18th: Craft Contingent Spell

With this you have access to Divine Spellpool, all Wizard/Sorcerer spells, can occasionally completely ignore material components, fly, and do whatever you want I guess.  This isn't even particularly optimized.  In particular the character looks almost TOO physically weak, to the point that a DM who is strict on encumbrance might call shenanigans.  Still, it's a step in the right direction and would clearly make Boris look like a fool.
[/spoiler]

Benly's Skypledged
[spoiler]
Sha'ir 8/Skypledged 7/Contemplative 1/Dweomerkeeper 4

1: Educated (Eberron Campaign Setting)
3: Nymph's Kiss (Book of Exalted Deeds)
6: Your Favorite Metamagic Or Item-Creation Feat
9: Your Favorite Item-Creation Or Metamagic Feat
[/spoiler]

Etarran's Apostle of Peace
[spoiler]
Sha'ir 7 / Apostle of Peace 2 / Mystic Theurge 10 / Whatever 1
[/spoiler]
« Last Edit: November 22, 2010, 04:38:52 PM by Sobolev »
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Quote from: Negative Zero on November 04, 2009, 02:16:14 AM
In my humble opinion, CO is haberdashery. Some say we're mad, but we can all agree we're hatters. Yes, we have potential to make very sophisticated hats, very fancy hats, be they dark or light. But the truth is that the color of the hat does not come from the group of us - our community doesn't directly produce hats. We simply give average head circumferences, list current fashion trends, and point out some shiny, obscure baubles to add to the latest hat line.

Sobolev

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-phenomenal, Nearly-cosmic Power
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2010, 07:16:25 AM »
Ask your DM
Points of Contention

     This guide does assume a few things, and while I think most of them are reasonable assumptions, check with your DM so he doesn't decide differently in the middle of your campaign.
  • Divine Caster: This guide assumes Sha'ir are Divine and Arcane casters, and they are because their class lets them cast both divine and arcane spells.  That being said, your DM may not appreciate that you can take divine and arcane prestige classes.
  • Timed-Out Spells:  This guide assumes that when a spell times out it doesn't count as one of your spells per day.  This is because you are limited to "Spells cast per day" and not "Spells fetched for you to cast per day".  Still, your DM may think this is too strong and nerf-bat you.  At low levels this becomes a severe limit to your power and in general means you might want more Sha'ir levels than otherwise you might want.

Tips
  • Leave Slots Open:Don't worry about filling all your slots at all times, but keep a few filled in case you get in to combat.
  • Know Things for Combat:Make sure your Spells Known contains some good combat spells as that is when you are most likely to be in a hurry.
  • Divine Spell Acquisition:Get divine spells over night while you are sleeping.  Wake up with a nice divine spell.  If you do it during the day you run the risk of needing your Gen for more important life or death things.
  • Use Divinations!:  This is twofold.  Primarily, it allows you to plan ahead, and with access to everything planning ahead is great for you.  Secondarily, if you spy a mage casting a spell, congratulations you just "learned" a new spell.  Divinations are your friend
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 03:03:59 AM by Sobolev »
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Quote from: Negative Zero on November 04, 2009, 02:16:14 AM
In my humble opinion, CO is haberdashery. Some say we're mad, but we can all agree we're hatters. Yes, we have potential to make very sophisticated hats, very fancy hats, be they dark or light. But the truth is that the color of the hat does not come from the group of us - our community doesn't directly produce hats. We simply give average head circumferences, list current fashion trends, and point out some shiny, obscure baubles to add to the latest hat line.

The_Mad_Linguist

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2010, 08:49:10 AM »
Lesser cansin or lesser aasimar for your race are decent choices (+2 int/cha, or +2 wis/cha, respectively)

Flavorwise, a lesser D'hin'ni would work well (half halfling half djinn - Dragon 350 ), and mechanically they work out too, since they have +2 dex, -2 wis, +2 cha, and some decent slas (prestidigitation at will, and one of (gust of wind, whispering wind, or wind wall) per day.  Also, small size.

A lesser Celadrin has +2 dex, -2 con, +2 cha, gets a racial bonus to diplomacy, scorching ray, and normal elven benefits as well.

All of them are LA+0.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2010, 08:53:29 AM by The_Mad_Linguist »
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Epimetheus

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2010, 09:22:52 AM »
I think one of the first things that need to be optimized are the early level diplomacy checks.
How do you hit DC 22 (spell lvl 1) at first level?

Most people would easily get:
10 (take 10)
4 (ranks in Diplo)
3 (charisma mod. Might be 4)
2 (It's a spell known)
1 (You are a first lvl sha'ir)
---
20

One would still need a +2 boost at first level in order to always make the diplomacy check. (And you have to basically check for your first level spell every hour, so rolling for diplomacy is a bit risky since the -2 failure penalty is cumulative for the rest of the day.)
If you can get a +4 boost somehow, then you can pick any 1st lvl spell (that you've seen and identified with Spellcraft), not just the ones 'known'.

(Note that beyond first level, the diplomacy check just gets easier and easier the longer you stay in Sha'ir, so this may not be a big deal outside of the early game.)


Overall, the Sha'ir seems somewhat skill dependent, so they cannot fully dump intelligence.
They need to max out Diplomacy, and like most arcane casters, would probably want good Concentration and Spellcraft scores.
Ranks in Bluff and Sense Motive might be useful for the diplomacy synergy. Bluff checks are also boosted by Charisma.
One of the abilities [Recognize Genie Works] is keyed off a DC 20 Knowledge(the planes) check.

All in all, I'd say Nymph's Kiss is a good feat for the Sha'ir because it boosts the diplomacy check early on and grants extra skill points. You do have to be good-aligned though.

CantripN

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2010, 09:28:00 AM »
Yeah, extra Skill Points and a +2 Diplomacy isn't bad for a feat. And it's +1 to saves vs. Spells, too, right?
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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2010, 10:08:33 AM »
(Note that beyond first level, the diplomacy check just gets easier and easier the longer you stay in Sha'ir, so this may not be a big deal outside of the early game.)

Not quite: the difficulty of the check increases by twice the spell level, so the sha'ir class bonus and the level-based penalty for retrieving spells of your highest level will remain within one point of each other, and will start to pull apart in your disfavor when/if you take a PrC. If you intend to PrC (and PrCs are one of the sha'ir's strong suits) you'll be using the bonus from an appropriate-level magic item of +Diplomacy to stay more or less even instead.

For this reason, miscellaneous bonuses to the Diplomacy check (synergy bonuses, Nymph's Kiss, Veil of Allure or Admiral's Bicorn, whatever) are fairly important to the sha'ir - it's not absolutely crucial to wring out every possible bonus, but you'll need some miscellaneous bonus to stay reliable in prepping your highest-level spells.

Personally I rate Intelligence above Dexterity for the sha'ir. The synergy bonuses to diplomacy are very helpful in this regard, and without an intelligence bonus you're not going to have enough skill points to get into the tasty divine PrCs the sha'ir has available. You absolutely need Diplomacy, Spellcraft and Concentration, so any PrC qualification ranks or synergy bonues are going to come out of Intelligence bonus and/or Nymph's Kiss.

The_Mad_Linguist

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2010, 10:30:37 AM »
Having double checked, it seems that celadrins only get the diplo bonus on checks to change attitudes.  Which is a shame, since it's 1+1/5 levels,
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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2010, 11:32:46 AM »
(Note that beyond first level, the diplomacy check just gets easier and easier the longer you stay in Sha'ir, so this may not be a big deal outside of the early game.)

Not quite: the difficulty of the check increases by twice the spell level, so the sha'ir class bonus and the level-based penalty for retrieving spells of your highest level will remain within one point of each other, and will start to pull apart in your disfavor when/if you take a PrC. If you intend to PrC (and PrCs are one of the sha'ir's strong suits) you'll be using the bonus from an appropriate-level magic item of +Diplomacy to stay more or less even instead.

I agree that the sha'ir class bonus and the spell-level based penalty do cancel out.
However, assuming the Sha'ir also puts a point in diplomacy every level, then the Sha'ir pulls ahead as his/her levels increase.

Basically, there is -2 to the check [from spell lvl] every 2 levels, but you get +2 to the check every level. Once you stop taking Sha'ir then it cancels out nicely with -2 to every 2 levels and +1 every level from Diplomacy alone. However, this means that convenient prestige classes will need diplomacy as a class skill. If you are worried though, tacking on synergies, stat bonuses, item bonuses, and spell-based bonuses should end up being good enough.

Or something like that.

I've never heard of a Sha'ir in play before, but I think that if done right it ought to be Tier 1. It may just be Tier 2 though, due to the time needed to retrieve unknown spells and the MAD.

I'm not clear on the spell-selection mechanism. Points to clarify:
  • Is there a limit to the number of spells you can have your familiar retrieve at one time?
  • Can the familiar retrieve the same spell more than one time? (So that you have two of more copies readied)

If both are answered favorably, one can think of the Sha'ir's spellcasting style as being bounded by sorcerer and beholder mage.

One of the few things that the Sha'ir has over the wizard is that it can ready more spells per spell level than the wizard can. While the wizard can also leave some of his slots unprepared for later preparation, the wizard cannot re-prepare any prepared spells. The Sha'ir can, which might push it to Tier 1.

That said because of the spell retrieval mechanism, the Sha'ir will be a bookkeeping pain. We probably need a section on proper timing when selecting spells. i.e. Get 2 copies of all the spells you know, and then try to get spells you don't know for the rest of the day.

Benly

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2010, 12:09:56 PM »
I don't see any conceivable way the sha'ir could not be Tier 1, assuming that timed-out spells do not count against spells per day. It's a full caster with unrestricted access to the sorc/wiz spell list and full flexibility for any individual character to use any spell from the list. The class has some unusual quirks that need to be accounted for, but they don't change the class's fundamental nature as a tier 1 caster.

Epimetheus

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2010, 01:22:39 PM »
The only conceivable objection to the Sha'ir being Tier 1 is the time limit constraint for retrieving spells and how long they stay in memory. But it appears that once you calculate it out, this constraint is actually not a problem at all (assuming you're allowed to sleep and still keep your retrieved spells).

To prepare 1 spell of every level (0 to 9) from a sorc/wiz spell NOT on your spells known list takes (1d6 + lvl minutes):
10d6 + SUM(0 to 9) = ~35 + 45 = ~80 minutes

With bonus spells (and boosted charisma), I suppose you could get up to about 7 slots per level if you take all 20 levels of sha'ir.
That means you have 560 minutes (about 9 hours) in order to prepare 1 spell per slot, which is fine as this is an all day activity. [You are at least as good as a wizard in preparing spells.]

It takes about 1 hour to prepare all the Sha'irs known spells (1d4 + lvl rounds) at Sha'ir 20.

They also last 20 hours each, which means you can prepare more than the wizard can. At least twice as many spells as the wizard, actually, and you're even prepared overnight. [almost Beholder Mage level casting]. Also, if you really needed to use a certain spell, you could always call for that whenever you needed it. Thus, straight Sha'ir 20 ensures you're a better spellcaster than a wizard 20. In terms of feats and skills though, the Sha'ir is somewhat lacking. But this is usually not as significant as spellcasting.

So the Sha'ir is Tier 1 then. I feel like I've proven something. :) Yay. I guess it merits the same status as (Spell to Power)Erudite now.

The_Mad_Linguist

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2010, 01:42:56 PM »
You can't double prepare Sha'ir spells.
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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2010, 02:48:45 PM »
To prepare 1 spell of every level (0 to 9) from a sorc/wiz spell NOT on your spells known list takes (1d6 + lvl minutes):
10d6 + SUM(0 to 9) = ~35 + 45 = ~80 minutes

With bonus spells (and boosted charisma), I suppose you could get up to about 7 slots per level if you take all 20 levels of sha'ir.
That means you have 560 minutes (about 9 hours) in order to prepare 1 spell per slot, which is fine as this is an all day activity. [You are at least as good as a wizard in preparing spells.]

It takes about 1 hour to prepare all the Sha'irs known spells (1d4 + lvl rounds) at Sha'ir 20.

In practical terms, when you're preparing for some action "blind", you're most likely to mostly prepare spells known (since presumably their wide applicability is why you picked them as spells known) and not fill all your slots (since a lot of the fun of being a sha'ir is to say "I have just the thing!" on a moment's notice). So, in all likelihood you'll be done with your starting spell prep for the day before the wizard most days.

Sobolev

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Re: Sha'ir Handbook: Semi-Phenomenal, Nearly-Cosmic Power
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2010, 07:22:18 PM »
I think one of the first things that need to be optimized are the early level diplomacy checks.
How do you hit DC 22 (spell lvl 1) at first level?

Most people would easily get:
10 (take 10)
4 (ranks in Diplo)
3 (charisma mod. Might be 4)
2 (It's a spell known)
1 (You are a first lvl sha'ir)
---
20

Since your Gen is a familiar except for its Intelligence increasing, I think it has your skills.  Ask your DM if your Gen can Aid you on the Diplomacy check.

Lesser cansin or lesser aasimar for your race are decent choices (+2 int/cha, or +2 wis/cha, respectively)

Flavorwise, a lesser D'hin'ni would work well (half halfling half djinn - Dragon 350 ), and mechanically they work out too, since they have +2 dex, -2 wis, +2 cha, and some decent slas (prestidigitation at will, and one of (gust of wind, whispering wind, or wind wall) per day.  Also, small size.

A lesser Celadrin has +2 dex, -2 con, +2 cha, gets a racial bonus to diplomacy, scorching ray, and normal elven benefits as well.

All of them are LA+0.

I see you quote where D'hin'ni are from, and I'm aware of Lesser Aasimar (they were written down to talk about) but I am unfamiliar with Cansin and Celadrin.  I particularly like the Cansin.  Where are they from so I can put it in?  Full credit to you.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2010, 07:26:50 PM by Sobolev »
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Quote from: Negative Zero on November 04, 2009, 02:16:14 AM
In my humble opinion, CO is haberdashery. Some say we're mad, but we can all agree we're hatters. Yes, we have potential to make very sophisticated hats, very fancy hats, be they dark or light. But the truth is that the color of the hat does not come from the group of us - our community doesn't directly produce hats. We simply give average head circumferences, list current fashion trends, and point out some shiny, obscure baubles to add to the latest hat line.