Author Topic: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist  (Read 4596 times)

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Caelic

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Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« on: February 04, 2009, 06:08:57 PM »
This is going to be a place to tinker with some concepts.

While playing with various bard builds, it occurred to me that there are a lot of options out there for boosting the DC for illusion spells--much moreso than any other school of magic in 3.5.

It also occurred to me that a bard/sublime chord has the potential to ramp his caster level way, WAY up--particularly if he does so in conjunction with Earth Spell.

The question is: what to do with this.

To start, I'm going to make a general list of resources; builds will follow from there.

DC BOOSTERS FOR ILLUSION SPELLS

Gnome racial: +1 DC
SF: Illusion: +1 DC
GSF: Illusion: +1 DC
Captivating Melody: +2 DC (swift action, costs bardic music)
Misleading Song: +1 DC, +1 caster level (free action, costs bardic music, requires SF: Illusion)
Shadow Weave Magic: +1 DC, +1 to CL checks for purposes of spell resistance.  (Campaign-specific)


CASTER LEVEL BOOSTS

1. Inspire Greatness + Practiced Spellcaster + Song of the Heart: Boosts CL by 3 for the duration of Inspire Greatness
2. Song of Arcane Power: Boosts caster level by up to 4.  (Move action, costs bardic music)
3. Earth Spell: +1 CL/level the spell is heightened
4. Arcane Domain class feature:  Replaces one of a wizard's bonus feats with a domain power.  Gnome and Illusion domains for a potential +2 additional CL, but restricted to a wizard.



Possible Direction for this:

Bard/Sublime Chord/Shadowcraft Mage with Arcane Disciple (Good) uses Shadow Illusion to mimic Holy Word with a massive CL-boost?  Heightening it to 9th level could result in a CL-boost of:

+9 (Earth Spell)
+3 (Inspire Greatness/Practiced Spellcaster/Song of the Heart)
+4 (Song of Arcane Power)

...plus any of the other +1 CL feats that could be fit in.


To be continued...
« Last Edit: February 04, 2009, 08:00:56 PM by Caelic »

PhaedrusXY

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2009, 06:16:12 PM »
Doesn't Arcane Disciple give you the domain ability? Also, Spellgifted can raise your Illusion CL by 1, while lowering all others.
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skydragonknight

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2009, 06:27:00 PM »
For the domain ability:

Planar Touchstone(Catalogues of Enlightenment) is one feat. You get the basic ability of the site even without visiting it, and the basic ability of CoE is the granted power of any cleric domain.

Though it doesn't require a direct visit to the site, it does, however, require an item from that site so I wouldn't take it until 12th level(9th if planar travel is a part of the plot) and can visit a planar metropolis to buy something from/related to the site. In this case the site is a library, so you could easily get away with just buying a book from the library worth 250 gold as the focus.
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carnivore

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2009, 06:27:14 PM »
do you plan on going to Shadowcraft Mage to progress Sublime Chord.... if so then there are others:

Talfirian SongForest Gnome PhantasistRock Gnome TricksterSvirfneblin Figment MasterShadow Weave Magicillusion, and necromancy increases by +1. You also get a +1 bonus on caster level checks to overcome spell resistance with spells from these schools.
The Shadow Weave proves less than optimal for effects involving energy r matter. Your effective caster level for spells you cast from the schools of evocation or transmutation (except spells with the darkness descriptor) is reduced by one. A 1st-level Shadow Weave user cannot cast spells from these schools at all.
You can no longer cast spells with the light descriptor. No matter what school they are from, such spells automatically fail. Your ability to use magic items that produce light effects is also limited - you cannot invoke an item's light power if its activation method is spell completion or spell trigger. From now on, any magic item you create is a Shadow Weave item (see Chapter 2 of the FORGOTTEN REALMS Campaign Setting).

Tattoo FocusPernicious MagicNocturnal Caster
Type: General
Source: Tome of Magic
You are empowered by darkness, making your abilities stronger at night.
Prerequisite: Ability to cast mysteries or a spell with the Darkness descriptor.
Benefit: Choose one path of mysteries or school of magic to which you have access. At night, the save DC of all associated mysteries or spells increases by +1. This bonus stacks with similar bonuses, such those from the Path Focus or Spell Focus feats.
The ambient light is irrelevant, nor does it matter if you can see the sky. Only the actual time of day matters.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times, but its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new school or path.


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Dictum Mortuum

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2009, 06:30:15 PM »
1. Inspire Greatness + Practiced Spellcaster + Song of the Heart: Boosts CL by 3 for the duration of Inspire Greatness

Nice! Never thought of it that way ^-^
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awaken DM golem

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2009, 07:35:11 PM »
Psiotheurgist feat from Dragon #349, takes the CL and ML, and adds them together, for one specific discipline/school combo.
Alas, it's tricky enough I'll have to check it to get the extra discipline/school.
Get a (ps) with 1/2 hd ML race, and 2 feats to get up to +10 CL, and 1 more feat for +14 CL.

Tshern

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2009, 07:47:00 PM »
Craft magic tattoo via Shadow conjuration.

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Caelic

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2009, 07:49:56 PM »
I'd like to steer clear of 3.0 feats; one of the major changes in 3.5 was the massive decrease in DC-boosting synergy, so I'd like to work within those restrictions and see how high we can get things.

Likewise, I'm leaning strongly towards Gnome as the race (both for the racial caster boost and Shadowcraft Mage.)

Gnome Racial Paragon is also an interesting possibility.  It boosts the CL of illusions--which is good--but would eat into Bard levels, and thus remove Inspire Greatness, which is bad.

Caelic

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2009, 07:50:58 PM »
Craft magic tattoo via Shadow conjuration.


Most definitely.  Haven't gotten around to putting up spells and items yet, but Craft Magic Tattoo will be on the list.

Echoes

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2009, 11:26:58 PM »
For DC-boosting I'm a fan of Frostburn. Use Snowcasting to make your spell [Cold]-typed, then apply Cold Focus and Greater Cold Focus (which stack with Spell Focus et al). For further boosts, Draconic Aura (Cold) can get you a +4 to the DC if you're a dragonblood race. Icemail armor (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/fw/20030323a) gives another +2 to the DC of cold spells (and has the stats of a +3 mithril breastplate, among other things). That's +8 to the DC for 4 feats and an item.

It gets pretty feat-intensive, esp. if you try to combine it with the Illusion-based feats, but there are some perks to going Cold-based. Access to Frost Mage and Piercing Cold (bypassing item and spell-based resistances/immunities with both) is a viable strategy though not perhaps in line with you're original concept.

Still, some combination like Bard 5/Frost Mage 4/X 1/Sublime Chord 2/Y 8 could lead to really high save DCs. Comboing it with Shadowcraft Mage would take too many feats unless flaws are allowed though, and even then that might be stretching things too thin.

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2009, 01:20:10 AM »
I'm familiar with some of these abilities but could you list the sources please.  Also, could you list around what level of optimization you are looking for and what stats we can use to help develope this character.
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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2009, 01:34:54 AM »
Isn't there a bard spell that boosts an arcane caster's CL?  Would that fit in anywhere?  I'm AFB right now and don't really recall the spell.

Caelic

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2009, 09:01:16 PM »
I'm familiar with some of these abilities but could you list the sources please.  Also, could you list around what level of optimization you are looking for and what stats we can use to help develope this character.


In general, I tend to be a conservative optimizer.  I like to design builds that are likely to be useful in as many campaigns as possible, and that don't rely on questionable rules readings or loopholes.  Thus, I try to avoid Thought Bottles, infinite Wish loops, or such things.

Realistically, with a liberal reading of the rules, CL isn't an issue; there are several combinations that will generate an infinite CL-loop.  Such a build would NOT be optimal, though, because it wouldn't be fun.

So what I'm shooting for--what I usually shoot for--is "Strong enough to excel in his own area, not strong enough to make the rest of the party irrelevant."

Loke

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2009, 09:13:18 PM »
Ive been struggling with a few bard builds lately, and I find it hard for them to be competative at low levels...It's generally overshadowed by the specialists.....the DMs i play with also have a very conservative view on social skills relying more on my own social skills in roleplay rather than die rolls. Making an 20+ cha and maxed diplomacy a bit wasted...

I will follow this workshop for sure, as it seems to have some very interesting concepts, even tho it focuses more on the high level of things (unless i'm reading it all wrong)

Caelic

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2009, 09:24:58 PM »
Ive been struggling with a few bard builds lately, and I find it hard for them to be competative at low levels...It's generally overshadowed by the specialists.....the DMs i play with also have a very conservative view on social skills relying more on my own social skills in roleplay rather than die rolls. Making an 20+ cha and maxed diplomacy a bit wasted...

I will follow this workshop for sure, as it seems to have some very interesting concepts, even tho it focuses more on the high level of things (unless i'm reading it all wrong)


At low levels, the bard's utility is more subtle than most.  As a member of a small group, he might struggle to hold up his end; as a member of a large group, he will quite possibly be the most valuable member.

The thing to remember is that you don't deal most of your damage directly.

Consider a third level bard with Song of the Heart and Inspirational Boost.  That's a +3 to damage for every swing that hits, and a 15% increase in the number of swings that hit.

At one point, we had a group member complaining that my bard "didn't pull his weight."  I proceeded to keep track of the amount of damage I added to the party--the extra damage from each swing that hit, plus all of the damage from blows that would otherwise have missed.

As it turned out, I was adding more damage to the total than any other character in the party, by a large margin.

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2009, 09:28:14 PM »
You are indeed correct, the little things are not always so easy to spot, but they can be the most important :)


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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2009, 01:26:11 AM »
Isn't there a bard spell that boosts an arcane caster's CL?  Would that fit in anywhere?  I'm AFB right now and don't really recall the spell.

Sure, if you gave it to your bard cohort (or better, Beguiler/Prestige Bard cohort).  It boosts one OTHER arcane caster's spells.  +2 DC, +2 CL.

+1 to what Caelic said.  I played a bard3-5/paladin of freedom2 from levels 5-7, with the feats Melodic Casting, Song of the Heart, and Versatile Performer.  (technically not legal, but the DM ruled that getting VP from my first level bonus feat for being human was not at all unfair).  In effect, i had 1 useful feat that gave +1 to Inspire courage, one feat that as mildly useful in a situation that never came up (making concentration checks related to spells), and one which I used only to add +4 to my perform checks by dancing, singing and playing the lute all at once.  Yet, throw in inspirational boost, and my +3/+3, easily became the biggest contribution to the party.  The DM privately noted to me that I was actually OVERPOWERED for the game (my fellow players had solid builds, but did not optimize).

Yes, my suboptimaly built Bard was widely regarded as the BIGGEST contributor in combat, and this in a group with a Duskblade that could nova for almost 50 damage by the time I left the game.  (The TWF ranger with a pet probably helped with that, though.)  And you have to note that aside from Inspire Courage, almost I did was toss knives for piddly damage (usually about 6) and occasionally provide flanking.

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2009, 07:29:44 AM »
This is a great concept.  I've played a few bards and found that my favorite was a Enchanter type that also focused on his music.  By doing such, I found that I could contribute to the party at just about any level of play as long as I wasn't facing those immune to mind affecting abilities.  I would suggest that you find something to over come that little drawback and the illusionist bard will be awesome.  I'm currently looking for that myself.
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Optimator

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2009, 02:38:54 AM »
1. Inspire Greatness + Practiced Spellcaster + Song of the Heart: Boosts CL by 3 for the duration of Inspire Greatness
Would this trick only be worth using for tricking out specific spells in conjunction with all the other methods to boost CLs or is this a worthy investment for any caster-oriented Bard (Sublime Chord specifically)?  What are your thoughts, guys?

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Re: Build Workshop: The Bardic Illusionist
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2009, 06:47:10 AM »
For the domain ability:

Planar Touchstone(Catalogues of Enlightenment) is one feat. You get the basic ability of the site even without visiting it, and the basic ability of CoE is the granted power of any cleric domain.

Though it doesn't require a direct visit to the site, it does, however, require an item from that site so I wouldn't take it until 12th level(9th if planar travel is a part of the plot) and can visit a planar metropolis to buy something from/related to the site. In this case the site is a library, so you could easily get away with just buying a book from the library worth 250 gold as the focus.
And, of course, the book will be a masterwork tool for five different knowledges, because hey, why not?
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