Author Topic: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character  (Read 9173 times)

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Sachiru

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Hi all,

I'm a new player to DnD, relatively marginally acquainted with the rules. I'm planning to build a spellcaster who'll be focusing heavily on illusions and protective magics, so I'd like for advice on how to proceed. Character Creation guidelines as explained by the DM are as follows:

[spoiler]What is the characters' starting status (i.eexperience level)?
3//2. See variants for explanation.

How much gold or other starting funds will the characters begin with?
Standard 3rd level, 2700gp. Each of you also gets an additional 50gp for mission expenses, not to spend before game starts.

Are there any particular character classes, professions, orders, etc that you want..or do not want? What are your rules on 'prestige' and/or homebrewed classes?
Any classes is fine, but see background for more info.

What races, subraces, species, etc. are allowed for your game? Will you allow homebrewed races or species? 'Prestige' races or species?
Like classes, most races are fine as long as they fit and explained.

By what method should Players generate their attributes/ability scores and Hit Points?
28 point buy. Average HP (except first level)

Are your Players restricted to particular rulebooks and supplements, or will you be allowing access to non-standard material? What sources can Players use for their characters?
No restrictions. All official material, third-party is mostly allowed, check with me if I'm familiar with the source first, and if I'm OK with you using the specific feature you want. Homebrew is approved on case by case.

Gestalt:
3rd level, with 2 levels extra as gestalt. (Such as Wizard3//Factotum2).
Note that the first side (wizard in this case) in most cases is counted as the main one, the focus of your character, with the second side is more of a dabbling side, usable more for background, fluff or complimenting the first class. You can take prestige classes on both sides at the same side.
When you reach halfway of your xp needed to level up, you get another level in your gestalt side. If the game would have started at level 1, then you would have played level 1 until you had 500xp, then you would be 1//1, and at 1000xp you would have 2//1.
Partial saves and BAB is used. You get the +2 boost to good saves once only.

Feats:
You get one bonus feat for background/fluff purposes. It can't be an important feat for your character (like power attack for fighters, stuff like that) and it can't be used for prereqs.
If there are weak feats you need to take to get into a PrC you want, discuss with me. I will be awarding minor feats for special actions and character development, and if there is anything specific feat you want to work towards and have an idea on some minor quest or something to achieve that, PM me.
You can take up to two flaws. Traits are allowed as well.
Death:
You die at -(5+HD+Con/2). So a level 1 character with 8 Con will die at -10. If you suffer a non-instant death, you can have final words for your character.
When you reach below 0hp, you get a fortitude save (DC10+hp below 0. The absolute value ) to remain conscious. You are still staggered and bleeding. Any damage sustained while below 0hp triggers another save at (DC10+2*hp below zero). Forgetting this rule is like choosing to fail the fort save.
Action Points, Reputation, Reducing LA (LA can only be on the main side).

Metamagic componenets:
you can submit your own ideas, or make checks in game to see if you can find some nearby. Specific components require specific skill. So for art objects you will need Appraise, for gems - craft(gemcutting) or appraise, for harvesting animal parts, or plants, Survival. You get the idea.
Sorcerers get Eschew Materials for free.

Contacts:
All characters have two contacts + the appropriate amount on the table. You can trade all contacts (including the future ones) for a single feat, if character appropriate.
Any additional variants or rules you want to ask about or wish to use, just ask.

Added:
Two-Weapon Fighting chain is folded into one feat. For every attack, besides AoOs, every attack with your main weapon can be followed by an attack with the second weapon. (So you can move and attack with both weapons in a standard action.

The Improved combat maneuver feats (like Disarm, Trip, Bull Rush, etc) don't require their prereq feat (Power Attack or Combat Expertise)
Spontaneous casters get at will cantrip casting. Quicken Spell works for them as normal, but other metamagic feats still increase casting time.[/spoiler]

I'm planning to go a gnomish beguiler, with focused illusion specialist wizard as gestalt, with the beguiler going all the way to 20 and the illusion wizard going mindbender; a dip in nightmare spinner for more illusion goodness, if viable; full 5 levels of shadowcraft mage, and master specialist in illusions. My question is, how would I go about distributing stats/skills/gold for items etc? Also, are those plans viable for a newbie?

mans0011

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Re: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2010, 02:09:36 PM »
Dude, you've got an amazing opportunity here. Being able to take prestige classes at the same time in Gestalt is, quite frankly, delicious. You should think of a way to incorporate Incantatrix, Shadowcraft Mage, and maybe the one level dip for Mindbender. Getting mindbender + mindsight will be overall great, but it also helps with your illusions (being able to make a silent image of something on the other side of the room and then addressing any other people AS your image is very useful, not to mention being able to know the squares of non-mindless beings). You will want Darkstalker (Mindsight and Darkstalker are both in Lords of Madness) so that people can't use scent, blindsense, etc. to find you while hiding.

Mindbender is in Complete Arcane
Incantatrix is in Player's Guide to Faerun
Shadowcraft Mage is, I think, in Races of Stone (?)

Also, don't forget to take the Wizard level 5 alternative class feature called Spontaneous Divination from Complete Champion. It's... amazing.
OOC-well for that matter he could just ride on my sword, that's about 15' ;)
OOC - That's what SHE said!  But, otherwise, that works for me, if you guys are willing.

Sachiru

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Re: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2010, 02:24:16 PM »
I would REALLY REALLY like to include Incantatrix, but from what I've heard about it, I doubt if the DM will allow it since it's a wee bit on the overpowered side.

However I do like your suggestion. How would you recommend me to build my character? Skill and stat distribution, items, etc?

DavidWL

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Re: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2010, 02:28:56 PM »
Illusionist OR Beguiler / Shadowcraft Mage is a perfectly valid and powerful build.  See the shadowcraft mage build in my sig as an example.

I wouldn't do both Illusionist and Beguiler .. there actually isn't that much synergy (it doesn't make you much stronger at the things you are strong at, nor does it strengthen weaknesses).

I'm pretty conservative, so my instinct would be to use the other side to shore up weaknesses.  In gestalt, charisma based builds do very well, because then the other side can be used to get CHA to saves, CHA to AC, etc.  There are a few gestalt builds floating around the boards - I'd suggest that you look at them to see how they both shore up weaknesses as well as accent strengths.  Here's an example of a build I did a long time ago: http://killfear.pbworks.com/DavidWL

Note:  One of the most important things in that mess of words is that 3rd party is allowed, as well as a lot of home brew.  That changes things quite a lot.  Also that Flaws and Gestalt are in effect.

Best,
David
« Last Edit: May 16, 2010, 02:33:49 PM by DavidWL »
Some Cool Quotes:  [spoiler]
Quote from: unknown
Non-PC activities like out of combat healing should be left to wands and NPCs. It's not fun to play a walking wand of CLW. Likewise, being a combat wall is not a viable PC role. A Wall of Force could do that.

-Sort of, but you left out the important note that a Wall of Force does it better.

Quote from: Runestar / skydragonknight
The most powerful character is the one that you actually get to play.

Quote from: Operation Shoestring
I often have to remind people not to underrate divination.  The ability to effectively metagame without actually metagaming beats the ability to set things on fire more times than not.
[/spoiler]
DavidWL's Random Build Archive

Sachiru

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Re: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2010, 02:37:23 PM »
Well I wouldn't really focus on the homebrew stuff since that tends towards boring games where the entire party's fate lies in the hands of a ridiculously overpowered player.

I'd like to be powerful enough to be important, but not too powerful that if I screw up we get TPK due to others not being able to do 1/10th of what I can do.

Beguiler with Shadowcraft Mage on the side sounds nice, but can that be done this early in the game? Also, I kinda like your build, but I really would like to fit in the Nightmare Spinner instead of the Divine Oracle for the extra illusion spells. Is that wise?

mans0011

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Re: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2010, 03:04:49 PM »
The best you can do about Incantatrix is ask your DM. If the DM says no, shrug and work on a different build. If DM says yes... oh baby.

Uhm, let's see. Do you get flaws?
OOC-well for that matter he could just ride on my sword, that's about 15' ;)
OOC - That's what SHE said!  But, otherwise, that works for me, if you guys are willing.

DavidWL

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Re: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2010, 03:08:19 PM »
Well I wouldn't really focus on the homebrew stuff since that tends towards boring games where the entire party's fate lies in the hands of a ridiculously overpowered player.

For homebrew, there is also some great flavor and cool abilities out there that aren't necessarily overpowered ... Frank and K's stuff is just plain cool!
http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?p=10243675

Quote
I'd like to be powerful enough to be important, but not too powerful that if I screw up we get TPK due to others not being able to do 1/10th of what I can do.

Very valid - but that also means you need to be able to be defensive enough!

Quote
Beguiler with Shadowcraft Mage on the side sounds nice, but can that be done this early in the game?

Well, Beguiler is very good early in the game.  Very, good.

Without early qualification, you can't get into shadowcraft mage until 8th level  However, if you can use early qualification tricks (Heighten + Versatile spellcaster to cast 1 level higher than normal + Sanctum spell to cast 1 level higher), then you'll be able to get in at 4th level.  If you can find a way to get 1 more level, then you can do it right from the get-go!

Quote
Also, I kinda like your build, but I really would like to fit in the Nightmare Spinner instead of the Divine Oracle for the extra illusion spells. Is that wise?

You can do both - you have 2 sides of gestalt to work with - just put the Nightmare Spinner on the other side.

Best,
David

Beguiler is quite flexible early in the game, and Shadowcraft Mage shores up some of it's weaknesses.  Nightmare Spinner is actually a great fit for a Gestalt game, since you don't have to pay the CL loss.  Just put it on the other side.  If your DM allows early qualification tricks, you could qualify for Shadowcraft Mage at 4th (or earlier) with Heighten + Versatile Spellcaster + Sanctum Spell.

Best,
David
« Last Edit: May 16, 2010, 03:11:47 PM by DavidWL »
Some Cool Quotes:  [spoiler]
Quote from: unknown
Non-PC activities like out of combat healing should be left to wands and NPCs. It's not fun to play a walking wand of CLW. Likewise, being a combat wall is not a viable PC role. A Wall of Force could do that.

-Sort of, but you left out the important note that a Wall of Force does it better.

Quote from: Runestar / skydragonknight
The most powerful character is the one that you actually get to play.

Quote from: Operation Shoestring
I often have to remind people not to underrate divination.  The ability to effectively metagame without actually metagaming beats the ability to set things on fire more times than not.
[/spoiler]
DavidWL's Random Build Archive

duncandun

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Re: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2010, 04:02:31 PM »
beguiler/shadocraft mage on one side, barbarian/frenziedberserker/ragemage on the other.

alternately, ragemage on the beguiler side after finishing SCM.


:(

Sachiru

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Re: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2010, 12:39:54 AM »
Well, crud, the DM just banned Incantatrix.

I can get flaws and traits (2 of each, I think), and since another player basically had the same idea as mine, yet has created a sheet faster than me, with him going for Warlock/Binder.

Right now I'm confused between going for Focused Illusionist or plain 'ol sorcerer, since David said that charisma-based builds are good too. Any particular charisma-based build you can recommend?

DavidWL

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Re: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2010, 04:24:21 AM »
If you want to play an illusionist, play an illusionist!  The whole point of a ruleset this loose, is that you can do what you want.

I'd do (something) like this (sketch of first 6 levels):

Race:  Venerable Dragonwrought Kobold Loredrake

Build:
Stalwart Sorcerer 6\\
Paladin 2/Monk 2/Rogue 2/

Feats
Flaw: ???

Flaw: (Some feat from AEG: Feats or Ultimate Feats that gives you more known spells based on your casting attribute ... I don't remember the name, but both books have a feat like this.  The low number of spells known is the bane of a sorcerer's existance)

1st: Dragonwrought Kobold (Races of the Dragon ... I think)
3rd: Ascetic Sorcerer (Complete Adventurer)
5th: Bonus fighter feat from Rogue - improved initiative
6th: Bonus fighter feat from Rogue - Improved Toughness
6th: Draconic Reservoir (web enhancement: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20060420a)

Options:
Divine Companion - give up familiar, be able to spend spell slots for bonus to save and AC.  (Complete Champion).  Buy many 1st level Eternal Wands (Magic Item Compendium) to fuel this.

Venerable Age - dragonwrought means that you are a true dragon, and thus don't take aging pentalties, so start at venerable to get extra Cha.

Loredrake - as a true dragon (from dragonwrought) there is an option in Dragon's of Eberron to get an extra +2 CL as a sorcerer

Greater Draconic Ritual - at 6th level you get an extra sorcerer caster level basically in exchange for a Feat and a few hit points.  See this web enhancement:
http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20060420a

Spell Reflection - from Complete Mage.  Instead of Evasion from the Monk, since it doesn't do anything for you.

Feat Rogue - from SRD (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm#rogue) 2 fighter feats instead of 1D6 Sneak attack.

Stalwart Sorcerer - not everyone likes it, but I think it does make you much less squishy, even though you do have to give up a spell slot.

You get at start:

5th level Sorcerer casting, good HP, good spells known, CHA to Saves.  Good stats

You get at 6th level:

9th level sorcerer casting
Good stats
Cha to saves
Cha to AC
Evasion
Spell Reflection
etc.

After that ...

Now that you are pretty tough, start to improve you abilities as an illusionist however your like.

Potentially:
Hexblade dip for CHA to saves again and Mettle
Warblade Dip for Ironheart surge and save re-dos
Nightmare spinner for bonus illusion spells
Shadow Adept  (bonus illusion feats)

Over all 6th level summary:
Assuming Cha = 18 + 3 racial + 1 level = 22 = +6

HP = + 12 Stalwart Sorcerer, + 6 Improved Toughness = +18
AC = +6 CHA + (9?) Divine Companion (if needed) = +15
Saves = +6 CHA + (9?) Divine Companion (if needed) = +15
Evasion
Spell Reflection

9th level Sorcerer Casting.

The main point is that you are effective (very good Cha, 9th level casting at 6th level), but also very tough.  If this is too strong, just don't use the divine companion.

Alternatively:
Wizard 5 +  - wizards have a couple of good substitution levels for illusionists.  You can take gnome substitution levels as well

You just have to be more careful, as you'll be more fragile.

Best,
David
Some Cool Quotes:  [spoiler]
Quote from: unknown
Non-PC activities like out of combat healing should be left to wands and NPCs. It's not fun to play a walking wand of CLW. Likewise, being a combat wall is not a viable PC role. A Wall of Force could do that.

-Sort of, but you left out the important note that a Wall of Force does it better.

Quote from: Runestar / skydragonknight
The most powerful character is the one that you actually get to play.

Quote from: Operation Shoestring
I often have to remind people not to underrate divination.  The ability to effectively metagame without actually metagaming beats the ability to set things on fire more times than not.
[/spoiler]
DavidWL's Random Build Archive

KellKheraptis

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Re: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2010, 04:32:51 AM »
I would punish the DM for allowing SCM and banning Incantatrix :P  SCM is the absolute only PrC I would ever rate above Inca, and only because it can literally do ANYTHING.

EDIT : Oh...almost forgot.  Is he allowing "theurge" classes?  Because that opens up a lot of options.  And also : two words : Hathran SCM.  Congrats, you're spamming Circle Magic Shadow Illusions now at CL 40 from 20th level slots :D
« Last Edit: May 17, 2010, 04:35:01 AM by KellKheraptis »
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DavidWL

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Re: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2010, 04:39:54 AM »
EDIT : Oh...almost forgot.  Is he allowing "theurge" classes?  Because that opens up a lot of options.  And also : two words : Hathran SCM.  Congrats, you're spamming Circle Magic Shadow Illusions now at CL 40 from 20th level slots :D

+1.  That is playing with power ... so if you still want to go Shadowcraft Mage, that is the right way to go.  (Or Halruaan Elder).

Best,
David
Some Cool Quotes:  [spoiler]
Quote from: unknown
Non-PC activities like out of combat healing should be left to wands and NPCs. It's not fun to play a walking wand of CLW. Likewise, being a combat wall is not a viable PC role. A Wall of Force could do that.

-Sort of, but you left out the important note that a Wall of Force does it better.

Quote from: Runestar / skydragonknight
The most powerful character is the one that you actually get to play.

Quote from: Operation Shoestring
I often have to remind people not to underrate divination.  The ability to effectively metagame without actually metagaming beats the ability to set things on fire more times than not.
[/spoiler]
DavidWL's Random Build Archive

KellKheraptis

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Re: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2010, 04:42:58 AM »
EDIT : Oh...almost forgot.  Is he allowing "theurge" classes?  Because that opens up a lot of options.  And also : two words : Hathran SCM.  Congrats, you're spamming Circle Magic Shadow Illusions now at CL 40 from 20th level slots :D

+1.  That is playing with power ... so if you still want to go Shadowcraft Mage, that is the right way to go.  (Or Halruaan Elder).

Best,
David

Actually Halruuan Elder is even better, due to metamagic modification only needing to go to one spell.  That and you'll only ever need that one spell, so you get the spontaneous perks of the Hathran from the Halruuan Elder, and can even go full RKV up the other side for 9th level maneuvers naturally (in addition to emulating them with Shadow Miracles).  Hell if you're going epic, the prereq's both boost Spellcraft :D
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Sachiru

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Re: Help me Build a 3.5 Heavily Illusion-Based Yet Viable Character
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2010, 05:38:49 AM »
I would punish the DM for allowing SCM and banning Incantatrix :P  SCM is the absolute only PrC I would ever rate above Inca, and only because it can literally do ANYTHING.

EDIT : Oh...almost forgot.  Is he allowing "theurge" classes?  Because that opens up a lot of options.  And also : two words : Hathran SCM.  Congrats, you're spamming Circle Magic Shadow Illusions now at CL 40 from 20th level slots :D

How does that work? I'm not familiar with the Hathran SCM.