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The Thinktank => Min/Max It! => Topic started by: PhaedrusXY on May 21, 2010, 05:55:28 PM

Title: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: PhaedrusXY on May 21, 2010, 05:55:28 PM
I'm working on a character for a new game, and keep going back and forth between a variety of build options, none of which I'm entirely satisfied with. So I thought I'd see if someone else had ideas to help me squeeze all I can into it. The concept is a sneaky guy who uses psychic powers and skills to act as a kind of detective. The game starts at 5th level, allows about everything as far as material, and is set in a custom world with some house rules I'm going to ignore for now. We're using partial BAB and saves, and 34 pt buy. The original build stub I had was:

Human Ranger 2/Ardent 2/Swordsage 1

1 Ranger 1 Weapon Finesse, Wild Talent (Vigor), Track, Psicrystal Affinity, Able Learner
2 Ardent 1 Charm, Dimension Hop
3 Ranger 2 Practiced Manifester, (TWF)
4 Ardent 2 Clairvoyant Sense
5 Swordsage 1 (Discipline Focus)

I took Wild Talent so I could get Psicrystal Affinity at 1st (when I can afford the feats for it), and ranger for skills, Track (to enter Slayer later), and BAB (to qualify for Weapon Finesse at 1st). The ardent mantles for this one would be Deception, Fate, and Freedom. I'm also using the Getting Rewired material to basically add a few powers known to his repertoire.

More build details:
[spoiler]Stats (34 pt buy):
Wis 16 (10)
Dex 16 (8)(+1 at 4th)
Con 14 (6)
Int 14 (6)
Str 10 (2)
Cha 10 (2)

Powers Known: Vigor, Charm, Dimension Hop, Clairvoyant Sense
Mantles: Freedom, Deception, and Fate (The cake is a lie.)

Equipment (8300/9000 gp):  Boots of Agile Leaping (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=7066.msg267996#msg267996) (600 gp) and MW tumble tool (50 gp), Least Weapon Crystal of Revelation (400 gp), Chronocharm of the Horizon Walker (500 gp), Gloves of Object Reading (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/items/universalItems.htm#glovesofObjectReading) (3000 gp), reusable Psionic Tattoos (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=4319.0) (3000 gp, see below), Wand of Lesser Vigor (750 gp)

Tattoos (3000 gp total, 7/20 slots)
[spoiler]Integrated Circuit (50)
Capacitor (1250)
Transducer (1250)

Elfsight (50)
Chameleon (50)
Share Pain (300)
Forcescreen (50)
[/spoiler]
Maneuvers/Stances Known
[spoiler]Stances
Child of Shadow (SH1) - Move 10+', gain concealment for the round. Can't use this to hide.
Maneuvers (6 known, 4 readied)
*Wolf Fang Strike (Tiger Claw 1) Attack with two weapons as std action, -2 att on both
*Sudden Leap (Tiger Claw 1) Swift action leap
Wind Stride (DW 1): Boost—+10' movement until the end of your turn
Baffling Defense (SS 2): Counter—Use Sense Motive check to dodge attack.
*Cloak of Deception (SH 1) - (Boost) Turn invisible (as greater invisibility) until end of the turn.
*Shadow Jaunt (SH 2) - As a standard action, teleport 50 ft. within line of sight/effect.[/spoiler]

Skills: Gather Info, Spot, Listen, Sense Motive, Hide, Move Silently, Autohypnosis (1 rank), Tumble (enough for a +14 bonus), Knowledge (dungeoneering) 4 ranks.

Variants:
Skilled City-Dweller (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20070228a): Replace Handle Animal, Knowledge (Nature), Survival, and Ride with Gather Information, Knowledge (local), Sense Motive, and Tumble.

Psicrystal
Feats: Mindsight (at 6th), 2 others (Martial Study/Martial Stance/soulmeld stuff?)
Personality: Nimble (+2 Initiative)

I would love to fit in a level of barbarian for pounce (Lion Totem, CC) and whirling frenzy (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/classFeatureVariants.htm#rageVariantWhirlingFrenzy), but it is hard to drop any of the stuff that I have... [/spoiler]

Future progression would be something like:
[spoiler]6 Ardent 3 Shadow Blade Danger Sense (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=8043.msg269013#msg269013)
7 Ardent 4 (new mantle) Psionic Fly
8 SS2 (Wis to AC, Assassin's Stance)
9 Slayer 1 Staggering Strike (CAdv)
10+ Slayer 2+ Teleport[/spoiler]

This guy is going to be terrible at dishing out damage until he gains a level, but he should be quite handy out of combat with the awesome of Object Reading and Clairvoyant Sense, and with Vigor, Share Pain, and a Psicrystal he'll be hard to kill also. At 6th+, his combat abilities start to catch up quite well with Dex to damage, and then +2d6 sneak attack and Wis to AC at 8th.

However, I'd like him to have a bit of combat offense starting out, and also like to maybe get the Staggering Strike feat from CAdv. So then I started tinkering around with alternatives, and came up with these two variants, which I'm still not that happy with.


Alt Builds:
[spoiler]Thug SA Ftr 1/Ardent 2/PW1/SS1
1 Thug SA Ftr 1 Weapon Finesse, TWF, Track, Able Learner
2 Ardent 1 Charm, Vigor
3 Psychic Warrior 1 Practiced Manifester, Psicrystal Affinity, (Dimension Hop)
4 Ardent 2 Clairvoyant Sense
5 Swordsage 1 (Discipline Focus)

Rgr1/Ardent 2/HuP1/SS1/HuP+2/SS+1/

1 Ranger 1 Weapon Finesse, Wild Talent (Vigor), Track, Psicrystal Affinity, Able Learner
2 Ardent 1 Charm, Dimension Hop
3 HuP1 Practiced Manifester
4 Ardent 2 Clairvoyant Sense
5 Swordsage 1 (Discipline Focus)

6 HuP2 Shadow Blade, Staggering Strike (doesn't qualify, as this build lacks SA till 8th...)

Pick up Gloves of the Balanced Hands for TWF (8000 gp), and the 2nd level of ranger later to upgrade it to ITFW.
[/spoiler]So overall, I'd like skills, psionics, TWF, and sneak attack, but it's hard to cram all that into one build, especially at lowish levels.
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: awaken DM golem on May 21, 2010, 06:28:56 PM
Can't help with Swordsage.

Erudite would get 3 feats up.
Ranger 2 / SS 2 / Erudite into Slayer might work.
Of course it violates a commandment or two.
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: snakeman830 on May 21, 2010, 06:47:18 PM
Have you considered using Psychic Rogue?  That will get sneaky and psionics with less effort.
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: PhaedrusXY on May 21, 2010, 07:22:17 PM
Have you considered using Psychic Rogue?  That will get sneaky and psionics with less effort.
Yeah, but... it kind of sucks.  :p Even though powers/spells above 6th level are technically "nerfed" inside the cities... I'd still like to have a build capable of reaching them.

Can't help with Swordsage.

Erudite would get 3 feats up.
Ranger 2 / SS 2 / Erudite into Slayer might work.
Of course it violates a commandment or two.
Hmm... I could dip Erudite for feats, I guess. I had another ardent build that I did that on. Hmm... not a bad idea.

I might pair that with the SA-Thug fighter, like:

Thug SA Ftr 1/Ardent 2/Erudite 1/SS1
1 Thug SA Ftr 1 Weapon Finesse, TWF, Track, Able Learner
2 Ardent 1 Charm, Vigor
3 Erudite 1 Practiced Manifester, Psicrystal Affinity(b), 1 more feat, (variable power known)
4 Ardent 2 Clairvoyant Sense
5 Swordsage 1 (Discipline Focus)

BAB: 1+2.25+0.5 = 3.75
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: Lycanthromancer on May 21, 2010, 11:22:07 PM
Can't use Wild Talent to take Psicrystal Affinity. You need to have an actual manifester level, and the one from WT won't work.

I'd avoid taking levels in ranger; the only reason you should really be dipping ranger is due to nabbing prerequisites for slayer, and even then it's iffy (lost manifester levels are awful, even for ardents).

If you really want a few dips, try factotum 3/seer X with the occasional dip in a ToB class way later in the build, heading into a psionic version of jade phoenix mage, perhaps.
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: PhaedrusXY on May 22, 2010, 12:57:35 AM
Can't use Wild Talent to take Psicrystal Affinity. You need to have an actual manifester level, and the one from WT won't work.
Got a rules quote for that? I don't think I'll be doing it anyway (I'll probably go with the Erudite dip), but still... it says ML, not "real" ML... or levels in a psionic class, etc. There is plenty of precedence for caster levels from SLAs qualifying you for PrCs, etc.
Quote
I'd avoid taking levels in ranger; the only reason you should really be dipping ranger is due to nabbing prerequisites for slayer, and even then it's iffy (lost manifester levels are awful, even for ardents).
I disagree. Early in the game, non-casting classes actually have something to offer, and you aren't missing as much by losing a few low level powers known. Later on, every power you learn is a major upgrade. The good lower level powers are also affordable in tattoo form. The lost power points do hurt, but I'm using my powers for utility and buffing, so it's tolerable.

Quote
If you really want a few dips, try factotum 3/seer X with the occasional dip in a ToB class way later in the build, heading into a psionic version of jade phoenix mage, perhaps.
This build is quite feat hungry, and the dips I'm taking help tremendously with that. It's also for a PbP game, so I am not counting on advancing many levels.
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: Lycanthromancer on May 22, 2010, 01:29:34 AM
Hidden Talent, XPH p62:
"If you have no psionic class levels, you are considered a 1st-level manifester when manifesting this power. If you have psionic class levels, you can manifest the power at the highest manifester level you have attained. (This is not a manifester level, and it does not add to any manifester levels gained by taking psionic classes.)"
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: PhaedrusXY on May 22, 2010, 01:31:27 AM
Hidden Talent, XPH p62:
"If you have no psionic class levels, you are considered a 1st-level manifester when manifesting this power. If you have psionic class levels, you can manifest the power at the highest manifester level you have attained. (This is not a manifester level, and it does not add to any manifester levels gained by taking psionic classes.)"
Thanks. I didn't have the book handy. The first bolded part is pretty damning, yeah... I was already leaning towards the Erudite dip anyway, though.

I might do the psionic JPM... I made one of those, but that game never really took off...
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: PhaedrusXY on May 22, 2010, 01:43:06 AM
Crapping on my BAB even more... another alternative after I realized that the thug fighter doesn't even get Hide as a class skill...

Sleeping Tiger Monk (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm#sleepingTiger) 1/Ardent 2/Erudite 1/SS1
1 Monk 1 Weapon Finesse (B), TWF, Track, Able Learner, Monastic Training
2 Ardent 1 Charm, Vigor
3 Erudite 1 Practiced Manifester, Psicrystal Affinity(b), Tashalatora, (variable power known)
4 Ardent 2 Clairvoyant Sense
5 Swordsage 1 (Discipline Focus)
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: Lycanthromancer on May 22, 2010, 02:07:20 AM
Be an elf, pay someone to do the dark chaos feat shuffle.
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: PhaedrusXY on May 22, 2010, 03:37:02 PM
Be an elf, pay someone to do the dark chaos feat shuffle.
I think that might be a bit too much cheese for this game. I'm not sure I could even pull it off, as like I said spells above 6th level don't work inside the cities, and the wilderness outside the cities is supposedly incredibly hostile. Embrace/Shun are 8th level spells, right?
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: Endarire on May 22, 2010, 10:56:09 PM
Phadrus: Aye.

Emphasize the psionic and stealthy aspects of Hood (http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19872838/Little_Red_Raiding_Hood_A_Tale_of_38_Guide_to_the_35_Dragoon) and you're set!
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: PhaedrusXY on May 23, 2010, 12:27:24 AM
New mix:

Rgr1/Ardent 1/Human Paragon 2/SS1 starting
Rgr1/Ardent 10/Human Paragon 3/SS2/X4? or Rgr1/Ardent 4/Human Paragon 3/SS2/Slayer 10 final

1 Ranger 1 Weapon Finesse, Track (b), TWF, Able Learner, Darkstalker
2 Ardent 1 Vigor, ?
3 HuP1 Practiced Manifester
4 HP2 Clairvoyant Sense, Psicrystal Affinity(b)
5 Swordsage 1 (Discipline Focus)

6 HP3 3 Shadow Blade, Sense Danger
7 Ard 2 Fly
8 SS 2 (Assassin's Stance, Wis to AC)
9 Ard3 Staggering Strike, Teleport
10 ?


Do I need Able Learner? Or Slayer?
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: Lycanthromancer on May 23, 2010, 12:47:33 AM
Unless you've taken the Magic mantle, or your DM says so, human paragon doesn't improve your manifester level.
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: PhaedrusXY on May 23, 2010, 12:55:36 AM
Unless you've taken the Magic mantle, or your DM says so, human paragon doesn't improve your manifester level.
While technically right... I think most DMs would allow that... I'll ask.

Or I guess I could take the Magic Mantle if he says no...

Hmm... This build gets almost everything I want right out of the box, but requires retraining prereqs in its history. The skill points are lower and I lose Able Learner, but I guess I can live with that...

Ftr1/Ardent1/HuP2/SS1

1 Ftr 1 (SA Thug) Weapon Finesse, TWF (retrained from Martial Study), Darkstalker (retrained from Martial Stance), Shadow Blade
2 Ardent 1 Vigor, ?
3 HuP1 Practiced Manifester
4 HP2 Psicrystal Affinity (b), Clairvoyant Sense
5 Swordsage 1 (Discipline Focus)

6 HP3 3 Staggering Strike, Sense Danger
7 Ard 2 Fly
8 SS 2 (Assassin's Stance, Wis to AC)
9 Ard3 FEAT, Teleport
10 ?


I'm also considering just saying "screw Dex", dumping Weapon Finesse and Shadow Blade, and using Str for attacks. That would make things a hell of a lot easier... Psychic Rogue might be something to look at also, to let me get those psionic feats in earlier and not lose skill points. My BAB will suffer, but we're using partial so no more than a standard rogue's.

Psychic Rogue 1/Ardent1/HuP2/SS1

1 Psychic Rogue TWF, Darkstalker, Psicrystal Affinity, FEAT
2 Ardent 1 Vigor, ?
3 HuP1 Practiced Manifester
4 HP2 FEAT, Clairvoyant Sense
5 Swordsage 1 (Discipline Focus)

6 HP3 Staggering Strike

Hmm... don't know if I really need Human Paragon... at least not yet.
Psychic Rogue 1/Ardent3/SS1

1 Psychic Rogue TWF, Darkstalker, Psicrystal Affinity, Psionic Meditation
2 Ardent 1 Vigor, Dimension Hop
3 Ardent 2 Practiced Manifester, Clairvoyant Sense
4 Ardent 3 Hustle
5 Swordsage 1 (Discipline Focus)

6 Ardent 4 Staggering Strike, Sense Danger
7-8 ? Fly

Stats:
Str 14
Dex 14
Con 14
Int 14
Wis 14
Cha 12

Mantles: Physical Power, Freedom (primary), Fate, Deception

I think I'll take all the Diamond Mind counters, since I can take 15 on Concentration and have Hustle + Psionic Meditation...

If I can afford it, Deep Crystal weapons should help bring the pain...

[spoiler]Equipment (8979/9000 gp): Gloves of Object Reading (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/items/universalItems.htm#glovesofObjectReading) (3000 gp), reusable Psionic Tattoos (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=4319.0) (3000 gp, see below), Wand of Lesser Vigor (25 charges left, 375 gp), two MW Deep Crystal daggers (1604 gp)

Tattoos (3000 gp total, 7/20 slots)
[spoiler]Integrated Circuit (50)
Capacitor (1250)
Transducer (1250)

Elfsight (50)
Chameleon (50)
Share Pain (300)
Forcescreen (50)
[/spoiler]
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: awaken DM golem on May 23, 2010, 05:02:47 PM
Unless you've taken the Magic mantle or your DM says so human paragon doesn't improve your manifester level.
I vote yes to magic mantle.
So now Human Paragon is a "fester" class.
Awesome.
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: Lycanthromancer on May 23, 2010, 10:03:27 PM
Unless you've taken the Magic mantle or your DM says so human paragon doesn't improve your manifester level.
I vote yes to magic mantle.
So now Human Paragon is a "fester" class.
Awesome.

It's 'manifester level,' you dork. :p

You don't get levels of rotting unless you're a dread necromancer.
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: lianightdemon on May 23, 2010, 10:08:38 PM
Or you could get the GM to rule that it works for psionic classes as well. I'm certain it's meant to but you know WOTC hates psionics.
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: PhaedrusXY on May 24, 2010, 12:39:14 AM
Or you could get the GM to rule that it works for psionic classes as well. I'm certain it's meant to but you know WOTC hates psionics.
DM gave the thumbs up on allowing human paragon to progress manifesting. I'm actually thinking of going with the last build I posted, though, which doesn't even use it :p. It loses fewer manifester levels, gets more mantles (which is huge...) and gets another power known. I think I'll just ditch Slayer.
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: PhaedrusXY on May 27, 2010, 11:37:20 PM
Mostly done with the character. Full version is here (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=346.msg268466#msg268466). I'm trying to decide his maneuvers. Since I want to rely on Sneak Attack, especially once he gets Assassin's Stance, getting extra attacks seems like the optimal thing to go after. So I've mostly chosen counters and boosts. I'm debating whether I should pick up Emerald Razor, though, as making someone flat-footed is also quite handy. Since I'll be limited to a single attack I wonder if it is worth using, though.

Adding extra damage is the way to optimize TWF and other extra attacks, so I took Burning Blade, but I know that will become less and less useful as resistance to fire becomes common.

I'm also debating which of these feats to take: Able Learner, Craven, Darkstalker, or Adaptive Style. I'm thinking I could start out with Able Learner, since you can't pick that up later, then pick up TWF with a level of fighter/psiwarrior and retrain my original TWF to one of the others listed above. Craven is extremely tempting, though... and if I alternate classes with good skills, I can probably manage without Able Learner. It sure makes bookkeeping easier, though...
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: snakeman830 on May 28, 2010, 12:03:38 AM
I would choose Darkstalker>Adaptive Style>Craven in that order.  In my time playing a Rogue/Swordsage, I've only ever refreshed one manuver, so Darkstalker takes precedence (getting off those sneak attacks in the first place is far more important than dealing extra damage with them).  Plus, if you're immune to Fear effects, Craven becomes a wate of a feat.  The other two won't.

Now, Able Learer I won't comment on.
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: PhaedrusXY on May 28, 2010, 12:12:49 AM
I won't technically be immune to fear effects, but I am a psychic with max ranks in Concentration and the Moment of Perfect Mind maneuver. So I can take 15 on a Concentration check and use that for my Will save, unless I've used my immediate action/maneuver already. So the -2 penalty really means almost nothing...

And even things with Blindsense/Tremorsense/etc will still be flat-footed if I go invisible with Cloak of Deception, right? I am also taking Distracting Ember and Island of Blades, so flanking shouldn't be a problem. This isn't a solo character, either. So... even though I have Darkstalker down, I guess I'm leaning towards changing it to one of the others.

Why no comment on Able Learner?
Title: Re: Sneaky Psychic
Post by: snakeman830 on May 28, 2010, 01:06:10 AM
Mainly because I haven't been reading this thread and have no idea what you plan on doing skills-wise :p