Author Topic: Reprise: Dual-wielding Melee Mage  (Read 875 times)

Legacy_Westan Willows

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Reprise: Dual-wielding Melee Mage
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2014, 10:41:07 pm »


               I see. So that is why he is taking both EW and EMA. Thanks MrZork
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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Reprise: Dual-wielding Melee Mage
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2014, 11:26:14 pm »


               

Westan Willows wrote...

I never thought much of MA so I never took EMA.

Give mage armor to a character with decent AC (aka, non cloth mage) and they'll take 10-15% less damage from the 1 dodge AC.  Very significant bonus for a level 1 spell.

MrZork wrote...

to give +1 AC to another player or NPC in the party, possibly a melee toon for whom it makes a little difference.

It's often equivalent to giving them 10-15% immunity to physical damage.  Except that wouldn't stop elemental damage on weapons or make it harder to hit on Touch attacks.

MrZork wrote...

But, I still say that Epic Mage Armor has its uses, depending on the environment and depending on when the mage sees himself entering melee.

As noted elsewhere, another tactic is to chug heals as those guys pound your toon, and that can work (though it can be a risky tactic with a low-HP toon).

CHUG potions?  POUND your toon?  We're talking about helping against weak enemies who don't do much damage in the first place and die very quickly.  Even getting EMA is usually only going to reduce the damage you take by about 50% from these weak mobs -- so if you're chugging potions without EMA you'll still be chugging them with EMA.

EMA only helps you against the mobs that are mostly trivial anyway doesn't fundamentally change how those fights play out regardless (within the high magic environment we're discussing rather than one with only +3 items or something).

Westan Willows wrote...

I use shield. For me it works better then MA.

Or...use both?

Does it ever bother you how several of us keep having to basically say "No, Westan is wrong, don't listen to him?"

And it's not like it happens 5% of the time, it seems to happen 90% of the time.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par MagicalMaster, 30 janvier 2014 - 11:27 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_MrZork

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Reprise: Dual-wielding Melee Mage
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2014, 05:05:26 am »


               

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...

But, I still say that Epic Mage Armor has its uses, depending on the environment and depending on when the mage sees himself entering melee.

As noted elsewhere, another tactic is to chug heals as those guys pound your toon, and that can work (though it can be a risky tactic with a low-HP toon).

CHUG potions?  POUND your toon?  We're talking about helping against weak enemies who don't do much damage in the first place and die very quickly.  

Why? You seem to assume that an enemy with low AB is also an enemy that won't do significant damage to a mage when he does hit and to assume that his low AB also means he will die quickly. But, there is no necessary connection between a creature's AB and how much damage it will do when it hits and there is no necessary connection between a creature's AB and its HP or damage reduction or fire resistance or whatever else might keep it from dying easily from a mage's blade.

Moreover, the toon in question is not a strength-based fighter, or even a full AB toon at all. Keep in mind that this dexing melee mage typically will not have high HP himself and will not do large damage to his melee opponents. By the time EMA is an option, he won't be facing many opponents with HP so low that he can take them down in a round or two. He has to have high enough AC to last against them long enough to take them down. Or he has to rely on healing. Probably both, to one degree or another.

And, I am not saying there aren't opponents designed the way you seem to assume. But, I have definitely run across opponents in HotU and SoF that are melee-able with EMA but may be too dangerous to take on in melee without EMA. Just considering HotU, there are a wide variety of ABs and areas with plenty of creatures a mage might decide to take on in melee where they won't be able to touch the mage most of the time if he keeps his AC high enough, but where they have high enough HP or resistances that a mage won't be able to take them down in just a couple rounds. The higher the mage's AC, the more opponents will fall into that melee-able category.

I would like to use golems as a good example since they have 3/4 pre-epic BAB progression but tend to have good strength, so they often have moderate AB but decent damage when they hit. But those are mostly present in Chapter 2, where the mage is less likely to have EMA yet. For HotU, it's fairer to consider the variety of AB present in Chapter 3, where the mage has access to EMA. The CR 24 ice trolls faced in one or two areas have AB 30 and over 300 HP. The outsiders in HotU Chapter 3 are worse examples for my case (they are a full BAB monster class), but there are lots of them in the chapter, so let's look at some. The Windswept Battlefield is a good example where a melee mage will get a chance to melee some opponents and still likely use up many spells on the tougher ones that remain. On that field, the CR 28-30 vrocks have AB in the mid-20s and over 300 HP, CR 31-33 Pit fiends have AB around 28-31 and HP in the mid-to-upper 300s. CR 26-29 Erines have AB in the lower 20s and HP in the mid-200s.

So, what is the impact of EMA against these guys? The OPs mage there is likely to have AC = 10 + 8 (DEX 16+10) + 2 (tumble) + 4 (haste) + 7 (robes) + 5 (natural, could be higher) + 5 (deflection, could be higher) +3 (boots) + 1 (MA) = 45 without EMA or 50 with EMA. Assume he feels safe taking on opponents that are only hitting him on a 19 or 20. So, with or without EMA, a mage might decide to take on the erines. Without it, he is taking his chances with the vrocks and probably should steer clear of the rest. With EMA, he is fairly safe in melee against the trolls and most of those outsider opponents, and he might be able to save his best spells for the bosses.

Obviously, the point isn't to be comprehensive, but just to show that there are opponents the OP will face where he will do better in melee with them if he has EMA than if he does not and those opponents aren't all creampuffs that he can take down quickly in melee even if he is getting hit.

MagicalMaster wrote...
Even getting EMA is usually only going to reduce the damage you take by about 50% from these weak mobs -- so if you're chugging potions without EMA you'll still be chugging them with EMA.

Taking 44% as much damage per round still means using fewer heals. (And, it's even better against a 3 APR opponent.) That's still more than twice as long that the mage can be doing damage himself before he has to heal, more chance of finishing off the mob before needing to heal, and fewer resulting attacks of opportunity as well.

The point remains that there is a pretty wide range of ABs for these mobs. By increasing his AC by 5, the mage increases the range of mobs that he can melee. Presumably, for someone playing a melee mage, that is worthwhile.

MagicalMaster wrote...
EMA only helps you against the mobs that are mostly trivial anyway doesn't fundamentally change how those fights play out regardless (within the high magic environment we're discussing rather than one with only +3 items or something).

I don't think you are evaluating "trivial" in the context of a melee mage. An opponent with mediocre AB but possibly decent HP is the exact sort of opponent that a melee mage wants to be able to take down with his blade, rather than wasting spells on them or have them chew through his DR quickly (having to rest more often in either case). A pile of mobs with 200 or 300 HP each is going to take many spells to take down, unless he uses AoE death spells on those mobs. It's possible that he is better off Wailing on those guys and just resting more often (and I am not arguing that point), but that isn't really the idea with this sort of toon.

BTW, please don't take any of this as me saying that the melee mage is a great way to go. It can be fun to play in many environments, but I don't that it is a fantastic mage build or the most fun way to play a mage. However, since that's what's on the menu in this discussion, I think it's worth advising the OP about building a melee mage that will give him the most options to play that mage as one.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par MrZork, 31 janvier 2014 - 05:05 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_MrZork

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Reprise: Dual-wielding Melee Mage
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2014, 07:38:47 am »


               

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...

As noted elsewhere, another tactic is to chug heals as those guys pound your toon, and that can work (though it can be a risky tactic with a low-HP toon).

CHUG potions?  POUND your toon? 

You are right. I nettles me when people mischaracterize or exaggerate what I have said and that's exactly what I did to what you had said. You have made thoughtful posts and they deserve to be taken as what you wrote and not some caricature of what you wrote. Apologies.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MrZork

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Reprise: Dual-wielding Melee Mage
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2014, 08:21:11 am »


               BTW, to brendonwp, I know it seems like some of your thread is derailed by more lengthy discussions of details, and I hope it isn't too bothersome. But, I find that I learn more by digging into the arcana, so to speak. I have gotten some insight into a few things by reading others' in-depth posts.

Meanwhile, I figured it may be worth a build post that makes a few adjustments to your last one. This is my quick CBC sheet of your melee mage, just so that you can make further refinements as you see fit. I only made skill recommendations for concentration, spellcraft, and tumble; fill in the rest to your tastes. I would suggest that you put some points into open lock and disable trap, since those are skills that can't be used unless you have at least 1 rank in them and just five or ten ranks in each will get you a long way in many modules, especially with a high INT, a respectable buffed DEX, and when there is gear to help.

Wizard(40), Elf

STR: 10
DEX: 16
CON: 12
WIS: 8
INT: 18 (36)
CHA: 8

Elf: (Hardiness vs. Enchantments, Keen Sense, Low-light Vision, Skill Affinity: Listen, Skill Affinity: Search, Skill Affinity: Spot, Sleeplessness)
01: Wizard(1): Toughness, {Scribe Scroll} [6]
02: Wizard(2) [6]
03: Wizard(3): Weapon Finesse [6]
04: Wizard(4): INT+1, (INT=19) [6]
05: Wizard(5): Extend Spell [6]
06: Wizard(6): Spell Focus: Evocation [6]
07: Wizard(7) [6]
08: Wizard(8): INT+1, (INT=20) [6]
09: Wizard(9): Two-Weapon Fighting [6]
10: Wizard(10): Maximize Spell [6]
11: Wizard(11) [6]
12: Wizard(12): INT+1, Ambidexterity, (INT=21) [6]
13: Wizard(13) [6]
14: Wizard(14) [6]
15: Wizard(15): Spell Focus: Necromancy, Greater Spell Focus: Evocation [6]
16: Wizard(16): INT+1, (INT=22) [6]
17: Wizard(17) [6]
18: Wizard(18): Improved Two-Weapon Fighting [6]
19: Wizard(19) [6]
20: Wizard(20): INT+1, Greater Spell Focus: Necromancy, (INT=23) [6]
21: Wizard(21): Epic Spell Focus: Necromancy [6]
22: Wizard(22) [6]
23: Wizard(23): Epic Spell: Epic Mage Armor [6]
24: Wizard(24): INT+1, Epic Spell Focus: Evocation, (INT=24) [6]
25: Wizard(25) [6]
26: Wizard(26): Great Intelligence I, (INT=25) [6]
27: Wizard(27): Epic Skill Focus: Concentration [6]
28: Wizard(28): INT+1, (INT=26) [6]
29: Wizard(29): Great Intelligence II, (INT=27) [6]
30: Wizard(30): Great Intelligence III, (INT=28) [6]
31: Wizard(31) [6]
32: Wizard(32): INT+1, Epic Spell: Epic Warding, (INT=29) [6]
33: Wizard(33): Great Intelligence IV, (INT=30) [6]
34: Wizard(34) [6]
35: Wizard(35): Great Intelligence V, (INT=31) [6]
36: Wizard(36): INT+1, Great Intelligence VI, (INT=33) [6]
37: Wizard(37) [6]
38: Wizard(38): Great Intelligence VII, (INT=34) [6]
39: Wizard(39): Great Intelligence VIII, (INT=35) [6]
40: Wizard(40): INT+1, (INT=36) [6]

Hitpoints: 240
Skillpoints: 371
Saving Throws (Fortitude/Will/Reflex): 17/21/19
Saving Throw bonuses: Spells: +11, Mind Effects: +2
BAB: 20
AB (max, naked): 23 (melee), 23 (ranged)
AC (naked/mundane armor/shield only): 17/17
Spell Casting: Wizard(9)
Alignment Changes: 0

Concentration 43(54), Spellcraft 43(56), Tumble 20(23), remaining skillpoints 245


I think that gets you a fairly playable, pure-wizard, dual-wielding, melee mage. I won't be the first or last to note that you could very substantially improve on this build with just a couple levels in another class. But, the SP campaigns don't require a power build.

While I consider the necromancy focus to be a good feat investment, the evocation focus is optional. It does increase the average damage done by your evocation spells. But, those spells typically scale poorly into epic levels.

(As an aside, I would say that Sunburst may the best spell in epics for the evocation school that actually has a save. It does a bit of rarely-resisted magical damage and acts as a party-friendly crowd-control spell. No creatures in the game are immune to blindness and it is a useful way for a mage to blind opponents with a high fortitude save.)

If you decide to drop evocation, instead of going back to the penetration feats, I would suggest you use the pre-epic feats for Silent (or Still) Spell and Empower Spell. The epic feat is more up in the air, but if you drop ESF:Concentration, you can take the last two Great Intelligence feats, per MM's recommendation. That would get your toon up to 38 INT, 50 with +12 gear (which your toon will have by the end of your run). That's just 2 below the max for a PC in the game and ensures respectable DCs for any spell you cast, whether you have focus in their schools or not.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par MrZork, 31 janvier 2014 - 08:30 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_PracticalKat

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Reprise: Dual-wielding Melee Mage
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2014, 04:19:53 pm »


               MrZ, thanks for the CBC update - I've been caught up in work stuff.  Would tend to go for one Spell Focus series, and Silent Spell + Empower.  I generally play good characters, so Necromancy seems out of place role-play wise, but I'll make the choice when I roll it '<img'>

What would you suggest in terms of dips into other classes, other than Rogue (the obvious choice)?
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MrZork

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Reprise: Dual-wielding Melee Mage
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2014, 10:35:58 pm »


               Even considering the alignment implications of spell schools, don't forget that a necromancy focus also gives you better ability against undead with Undeath to Death and Control Undead. And, even when you are using spells like Wail of the Banshee, you are trying to take down bad guys who want to take your life. ;-)

Seriously, in a build with very high INT, your toon will be okay without the spell focus. The +6 to DCs for spells where the saves really matter is a pretty substantial improvement, IMO, but it isn't an absolute necessity. But, I really hope you aren't planning to give up spells like Wail. Mages don't really have another high-level area-of-effect spell to disable a group of enemies at once - you will really miss Wail.

As you say, rogue is an obvious choice for a second class, largely because it gives you so many options for putting all of those skill points to good use. Also, being able to set deadly holy traps is very handy when you run across tough opponents who are immune to spells, like demiliches and certain golems.

Really, if you are to take levels in other classes, an important question arises: How many total levels of wizard do you end up with? For a high-level caster, most builders will aim for either 38 or 35 levels of wizard because that preserves as many wizard epic bonus feats as possible. It's also worth noting that taking one level of a non-wizard class pre-epic will push your level 20 wizard feat to level 21, where you can use it for some of the epic wizard bonus feats (basically any of them except epic spells). 38 wizard levels still results in a very high level caster (no worries about SR), but less smooth leveling in terms of when you get improvements in skill levels, class abilities, etc. 35 wizard levels has a somewhat bigger impact on spell power and penetration of SR (though it's still very good), but allows smoother leveling and access to better benefits from the secondary class(es). In this post, I am assuming you want 38 levels of wizard, mostly because it seemed you were interested in a pure wizard before and this stays closer to that concept.

The other issue is how long are you willing to wait for the goodies that the other classes provide? I mentioned the benefit of taking one non-wizard level pre-epic. Aside from that, many will argue that the last level of a secondary class with some skill you want (tumble is the most common example here) should be take very late in the build, so that you can put the most useful points into it and have the optimal level 40 character. For toons who won't actually spend that much playing time at level 40, I prefer to compromise and take that last secondary class level at 27 or 32, knowing that I am giving up some power at level 40 in order that I can have extra fun with the character for longer when I am actually playing it.

For 38 levels of wizard, one tempting approach for a melee mage is to take fighter at level 20 (to grab 23 points of discipline and a combat feat, possibly an easy place to pick up Improved Two Weapon Fighting) and rogue at level 37 or level 32 for tumble and the other rogue skills (level 38 or 33 if you want to max UMD). The advantage to taking fighter pre-epic is that it bumps your level 20 wizard feat into the epics, still gives you a feat, and doesn't penalize your AB. And, of course, it greatly improves your choice in weapons.

I will post a variation on the above theme, with a level of ranger at 20 and a level of monk at level 27. I am picking this one for a couple reasons. First, it's a different class mix than you will see for level 38 wizard builds on the search engine. You could look at the others for more ideas, but I don't think this one is there. Another is that you seem to have some interest in a toon with stealth abilities and this one lets you take that a bit further, since both secondary classes have hide and move silently as class skills. You can set all deadly traps. Another is that it gives you some options that may be interesting to you. For instance, you can decide which perception skill to enhance and put some points either into spot or into listen (and still have plenty of skill points to cross-class into the other later on), or mix up the points you put into search, etc. Heck, even animal empathy is a possibility. To my mind, the main thing this approach lacks is UMD, but it seemed like you were asking for a non-rogue option.

With this variation, it is worth considering just how much you want that second off-hand attack. Unless you have dropped Moskwa's PnP Tenser's Transformation into your override and you cast it often, you won't be hitting all that much on non-full-AB attacks. (And, just to make sure you know, you don't get an extra full-AB off-hand attack from haste.) I have not done it here, but if you decide to forego that second off-hand attack, you could save that Improved Two Weapon Fighting feat and two others (Two Weapon Fighting and Abidexterity) pre-epic because rangers get Dual-Wield for free. Suddenly, better saves (Great Reflexes, etc,), better combat feats (Weapon Focus, Expertise, etc.), or a second line of Spell Focus feats are possibilities. Just something to think about.

You may note that, although it is a class skill for both secondary classes, I put no points into discipline and that is deliberate. I really doubt that it will do you any good in this build. You are better off using one of the knockdown immunity items to prevent KDs. Opponents who will disarm you in these modules should be pretty rare. But, even if they do, you are a wizard, so you have plenty of options. The basic reasoning is that the skill check for KD or other discipline check will be pretty high (see this thread for a bit more on this thinking) and a non-strength build without discipline items will have a difficult time making that discipline check, even if you were to push your monk level later in the build.

BTW, you can certainly push the monk level later if you want. I took it somewhat early so that you would get the AC bump a little earlier and a chance that Evasion would be able to help you before the end of HotU.

Anyway, here is the build. I am including the skill progression this time, because you want to make sure there are enough skill points saved to take with your secondary classes, but there are still points aplenty left over to spend however you like.

Wizard(38), Monk(1), Ranger(1), Elf, Alignment: Any Lawful

STR: 10
DEX: 16
CON: 12
WIS: 8
INT: 18 (38)
CHA: 8

Elf: (Hardiness vs. Enchantments, Keen Sense, Low-light Vision, Skill Affinity: Listen, Skill Affinity: Search, Skill Affinity: Spot, Sleeplessness)
01: Wizard(1): Toughness, {Scribe Scroll} [6]
02: Wizard(2) [6]
03: Wizard(3): Weapon Finesse [6]
04: Wizard(4): INT+1, (INT=19) [6]
05: Wizard(5): Extend Spell [6]
06: Wizard(6): Still Spell [6]
07: Wizard(7) [6]
08: Wizard(8): INT+1, (INT=20) [6]
09: Wizard(9): Two-Weapon Fighting [6]
10: Wizard(10): Empower Spell [6]
11: Wizard(11) [6]
12: Wizard(12): INT+1, Ambidexterity, (INT=21) [6]
13: Wizard(13) [6]
14: Wizard(14) [6]
15: Wizard(15): Spell Focus: Necromancy, Maximize Spell [6]
16: Wizard(16): INT+1, (INT=22) [6]
17: Wizard(17) [6]
18: Wizard(18): Improved Two-Weapon Fighting [6]
19: Wizard(19) [6]
20: Ranger(1): INT+1, Greater Spell Focus: Necromancy, {Dual Wield}, (INT=23) [12]
21: Wizard(20): Great Intelligence I, Epic Spell Focus: Necromancy, (INT=24) [6]
22: Wizard(21) [6]
23: Wizard(22) [6]
24: Wizard(23): INT+1, Great Intelligence II, Epic Spell: Epic Mage Armor, (INT=26) [6]
25: Wizard(24) [6]
26: Wizard(25) [6]
27: Monk(1): Epic Skill Focus: Concentration, {Cleave, Evasion, Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist} [10]
28: Wizard(26): INT+1, Great Intelligence III, (INT=28) [6]
29: Wizard(27) [6]
30: Wizard(28): Great Intelligence IV, (INT=29) [6]
31: Wizard(29): Epic Spell: Epic Warding [6]
32: Wizard(30): INT+1, (INT=30) [6]
33: Wizard(31): Great Intelligence V, (INT=31) [6]
34: Wizard(32): Great Intelligence VI, (INT=32) [6]
35: Wizard(33) [6]
36: Wizard(34): INT+1, Great Intelligence VII, (INT=34) [6]
37: Wizard(35): Great Intelligence VIII, (INT=35) [6]
38: Wizard(36) [6]
39: Wizard(37): Great Intelligence IX, (INT=36) [6]
40: Wizard(38): INT+1, Great Intelligence X, (INT=38) [6]

Hitpoints: 250
Skillpoints: 387
Saving Throws (Fortitude/Will/Reflex): 19/20/19
Saving Throw bonuses: Spells: +11, Mind Effects: +2
BAB: 20
AB (max, naked): 23 (melee), 23 (ranged)
AC (naked/mundane armor/shield only): 19/26
Spell Casting: Wizard(9)
Alignment Changes: 0

Concentration 43(54), Disable Trap 5(21), Hide 30(33), Listen 30(31), Move Silently 30(33), Open Lock 2(5), Search 10(26), Set Trap 20(25), Spellcraft 43(57), Tumble 30(33), remaining skillpoints 137

01: Concentration(4), Disable Trap(2), Open Lock(2), Spellcraft(4), Save(8),
02: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(12),
03: Concentration(1), Disable Trap(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(14),
04: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(18),
05: Concentration(1), Disable Trap(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(20),
06: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(24),
07: Concentration(1), Disable Trap(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(26),
08: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(31),
09: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(36),
10: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(41),
11: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(46),
12: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(51),
13: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(56),
14: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(61),
15: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(66),
16: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(72),
17: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(78),
18: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(84),
19: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(90),
20: Concentration(1), Hide(23), Listen(23), Move Silently(23), Search(10), Set Trap(20),
21: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(2), Save(5),
22: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(12),
23: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(19),
24: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(26),
25: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(34),
26: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(42),
27: Concentration(1), Hide(7), Listen(7), Move Silently(7), Tumble(30), Save(2),
28: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(2), Save(9),
29: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(18),
30: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(27),
31: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(36),
32: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(46),
33: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(56),
34: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(66),
35: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(77),
36: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(88),
37: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(100),
38: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(112),
39: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(124),
40: Concentration(1), Spellcraft(1), Save(137)

               
               

               


                     Modifié par MrZork, 31 janvier 2014 - 10:39 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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Reprise: Dual-wielding Melee Mage
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2014, 02:50:59 am »


               

MrZork wrote...

Why? You seem to assume that an enemy with low AB is also an enemy that won't do significant damage to a mage when he does hit and to assume that his low AB also means he will die quickly. But, there is no necessary connection between a creature's AB and how much damage it will do when it hits and there is no necessary connection between a creature's AB and its HP or damage reduction or fire resistance or whatever else might keep it from dying easily from a mage's blade.

Low AB means less strength (or if dex based then low strength to start), worse weapons, and/or lower level.  All of which generally correlate to less damage.  It's technically true that you could make low AB enemy with very high damage per hit or a low AB enemy that's meant to soak up damage -- but the former is very unusual and definitely not a standard Bioware mob while a tankish enemy is not meant to do much damage in the first place and is also not standard Bioware.

And if a monster is specifically designed to wreck mages while not hitting higher AC characters much then the mage will get wrecked with or without EMA.  EMA might let you drink a Heal potion every 30 seconds instead of every 15 versus that extremely narrow range of opponents -- but is that really worth an Epic Feat and giving up an Epic Spell Focus?

MrZork wrote...

So, what is the impact of EMA against these guys? The OPs mage there is likely to have AC = 10 + 8 (DEX 16+10) + 2 (tumble) + 4 (haste) + 7 (robes) + 5 (natural, could be higher) + 5 (deflection, could be higher) +3 (boots) + 1 (MA) = 45 without EMA or 50 with EMA. Assume he feels safe taking on opponents that are only hitting him on a 19 or 20. So, with or without EMA, a mage might decide to take on the erines.

I don't think that's a reasonable assumption at all.  If they only hit on a 19 or 20 then he's only getting hit by a monster every 8 rounds (assuming 4 attacks, no Haste, 50% concealment).  Even if they hit on a 14+ he's only getting hit once every 4 rounds.  Why in the world would be be afraid to take on an enemy that'll only hit him once every 24 seconds?

I'll also note that he should have +9 Deflection from the ring and +7 natural which is an extra 6 AC -- meaning he'd be perfectly fine even with your original assumption.

MrZork wrote...

You are right. I nettles me when people mischaracterize or exaggerate what I have said and that's exactly what I did to what you had said. You have made thoughtful posts and they deserve to be taken as what you wrote and not some caricature of what you wrote. Apologies.

To be fair, my point was more that if you're having to drink a full Heal every 6 seconds or something then that's a pretty dangerous mob you're facing and drinking every 12 seconds due to EMA doesn't make much of a difference.

And if you're having to drink a Heal potion every 30 seconds versus every minute then that also doesn't make much of a difference in the environments we're talking about.

Maybe it would "feel" significant at 15 seconds versus 30 seconds with EMA?  Not sure, but it would have to be a very specific range.

MrZork wrote...

23: Wizard(23): Epic Spell: Epic Mage Armor [6]
27: Wizard(27): Epic Skill Focus: Concentration [6]

While I consider the necromancy focus to be a good feat investment, the evocation focus is optional. It does increase the average damage done by your evocation spells. But, those spells typically scale poorly into epic levels.

If you decide to drop evocation, instead of going back to the penetration feats, I would suggest you use the pre-epic feats for Silent (or Still) Spell and Empower Spell. The epic feat is more up in the air, but if you drop ESF:Concentration, you can take the last two Great Intelligence feats, per MM's recommendation.


As I've been saying, and as I demonstrated above, both of those are better off going into Great Int.  Gives you 1 more universal DC along with an extra level 4 and 8 spell.  You're very rarely going to get hit for just the right amount where Epic Skill Focus: Concentration saves you and the EMA isn't a substantial bonus.

However, I would agree that the spell foci line in Evocation is not essential -- but picking up Still/Silent Spell AND Empower Spell is ABSOLUTELY essential.  Drop something for it -- be it Toughness or (Greater) Spell Focus Evocation.  You need it for more IGMSs, more Firebrands, more Cones of Cold/Ice Storms, more Chain Lightnings/Schin Spheres, more Horrid Wiltings.  Nothing is more important (under roughly default rules) for a mage than Maximize AND Empower and Still/Silent is nearly as critical.

If you dropped Evocation (and thus Epic Spell Focus: Evocation) you'd have one free Epic Feat that could go into Epic Skill Focus: Concentration or Epic Mage Armor.

brendonwp wrote...

What would you suggest in terms of dips into other classes, other than Rogue (the obvious choice)?

Only rogue, fighter, and ranger offer any significant benefits and you really don't want more than a level or three or you lose too much casting power (not so much at level 40 but definitely while leveling).

MrZork wrote...

Even considering the alignment implications of spell schools, don't forget that a necromancy focus also gives you better ability against undead with Undeath to Death and Control Undead. And, even when you are using spells like Wail of the Banshee, you are trying to take down bad guys who want to take your life. ;-)

Indeed.  You also aren't RAISING the dead with the spells we're recommending.

MrZork wrote...

For 38 levels of wizard, one tempting approach for a melee mage is to take fighter at level 20 (to grab 23 points of discipline and a combat feat, possibly an easy place to pick up Improved Two Weapon Fighting) and rogue at level 37 or level 32 for tumble and the other rogue skills (level 38 or 33 if you want to max UMD). The advantage to taking fighter pre-epic is that it bumps your level 20 wizard feat into the epics, still gives you a feat, and doesn't penalize your AB. And, of course, it greatly improves your choice in weapons.

Fighter a 20 for the feat and weapons isn't a bad idea but 23 points of Discipline is useless.  Need a full investment or Discipline or don't even bother.  However, taking Fighter means no Tumble dump and no UMD.

Oh, and now I see your bit on Discipline down below, so yeah.

MrZork wrote...

I have not done it here, but if you decide to forego that second off-hand attack, you could save that Improved Two Weapon Fighting feat and two others (Two Weapon Fighting and Abidexterity) pre-epic because rangers get Dual-Wield for free.

I'd like to point out that unless you abuse Ranger like that there's no point to going dual-wield without ITWF.  If you wanted to be really sneaky you could take ranger 1 at 21 and thus use the bonus feat on Epic Spell Focus rather than Favored Enemy.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par MagicalMaster, 01 février 2014 - 02:52 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_MrZork

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« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2014, 10:49:23 am »


               

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...

I have not done it here, but if you decide to forego that second off-hand attack, you could save that Improved Two Weapon Fighting feat and two others (Two Weapon Fighting and Abidexterity) pre-epic because rangers get Dual-Wield for free.

I'd like to point out that unless you abuse Ranger like that there's no point to going dual-wield without ITWF. If you wanted to be really sneaky you could take ranger 1 at 21 and thus use the bonus feat on Epic Spell Focus rather than Favored Enemy.

Not quite sure I follow you on the first point. Are you saying that, with TWF and Ambidexterity, it is worth getting ITWF on a build like this? I haven't done the math and I am not disputing anything, I am just curious about the reasoning. My worry was that this particular toon may have trouble finding opponents it can hit 30% of the time (on a 15 or better) while holding two weapons. But, with TWF and Amb., he at least will get two at 30% (the mainhand attack and then offhand attack), a free attack from haste at 40% and the second mainhand attack at 5%, so 1.05 hits per round. If I am thinking about this correctly, the extra offhand attack from ITWF adds another at -5 AB, bringing this to 1.10 hits per round. Am I missing something in the math (or maybe it's reasonable to think he is hitting more often?) or are you saying that that gain is worth the feat?

On the second point, I often push the ranger level into epics for that extra casting feat, but I think it is pretty much a wash in this build because that would drop the level 20 wizard feat back into pre-epics. As it is, the ranger feat at level twenty is already used for Greater Spell Focus, so putting ranger 1 into epics would pretty much be swapping a casting feat for a casting feat. I took the ranger level in pre-epics to improve the fortitude save by +2 at a cost of -1 to will save, which is a small change either way, but my thiniking was that mages can self-buff for mind immunity pretty easily. Ultimately, this toon's saves are low enough that he is going to want spell immunity or immunity items to anything that doesn't benefit from the spellcraft bonus. If I could have made the same trade for +2 reflex instead I probably would have, since that leverages Evasion a little better later on.

In reality, the ranger level could be taken earlier as well to get DW earlier (if one goes that route) and get traps and search earlier, at the cost of waiting longer for decent sneak skills.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par MrZork, 01 février 2014 - 11:03 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_PracticalKat

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« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2014, 10:03:00 pm »


               MrZ, appreciate the thinking set out with the build.  The skill point payoff looks good.   Was a bit surprised to see Monk at first, but it not only gives Cleave and Evasion, it should be possible to use kamas with Flurry of Blows as well for an extra attack per round.  Very nice!
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2014, 06:39:49 am »


               

MrZork wrote...

Not quite sure I follow you on the first point. Are you saying that, with TWF and Ambidexterity, it is worth getting ITWF on a build like this?

Correct -- or rather, that if you aren't getting ITWF then you should just generally single-wield.

MrZork wrote...

I haven't done the math and I am not disputing anything, I am just curious about the reasoning. My worry was that this particular toon may have trouble finding opponents it can hit 30% of the time (on a 15 or better) while holding two weapons. But, with TWF and Amb., he at least will get two at 30% (the mainhand attack and then offhand attack), a free attack from haste at 40% and the second mainhand attack at 5%, so 1.05 hits per round. If I am thinking about this correctly, the extra offhand attack from ITWF adds another at -5 AB, bringing this to 1.10 hits per round. Am I missing something in the math (or maybe it's reasonable to think he is hitting more often?) or are you saying that that gain is worth the feat?

Your math is perfectly correct but you also managed to pick the most extreme case.  Of course, without dual-wield you'd get 0.4/0.15/0.4 = 0.95 hits per round so you're spending two feats to gain 10% damage.  ITWF is gaining another 5% for one more feat.

Imagine an enemy that you can only hit on 20s, for example -- you gain 25% more damage from ITWF.

Or let's say you hit 15% of the time dual-wielding -- that's 15/5/15/25= 0.6 HPR.  Single wielding would be 25/5/25 = 0.55 so a 9% improvement and ITWF would be 8% on top of that for a single feat.

And let's take it the other way -- say you hit 40% of the time.  50/25/50 = 1.25 single wielding, 40/15/40/50 = 1.45 dual-wielding so a 16% improvement.  ITWF takes that to 1.6.

In other words, ITWF usually gives as much benefit as the other two feats combined, roughly, in most cases (especially since you need BOTH feats to be better than single wield in the first place).

MrZork wrote...

As it is, the ranger feat at level twenty is already used for Greater Spell Focus, so putting ranger 1 into epics would pretty much be swapping a casting feat for a casting feat.

Ah, I forgot you could do that pre-epic, thought it was an epic only thing.  Then yeah, doesn't really matter.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_PracticalKat

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« Reply #26 on: February 04, 2014, 08:50:36 am »


               MrZ, a few comments on your multiclass build earlier.  I popped it into CBC, and only get one feat at level 21 where you have two.  I then put in Armor Skin in place of one Great Int, swopped Silent Spell for Still , and came up with the build that I've listed at the bottom. 
Comparing this to the Sinister Magus build on the Epic Site, with similar starting stats, I'm surprised to see how much lower the naked AC is on my character: 19 vs 24.  Halflings only get an extra 1AC to start with, so is this due to the Assassin levels?  
I understand why there should be an AB difference (23 vs 29), as the SM build has used Weapon Focus, Epic Weapon Focus and Epic Prowess to pump it up.  Mmmm, I should really compare Dual Wield + Monk Flurry of Blows with Kamas to TWF/Ambi/ITWF for effectiveness, and see if I could use the freed feat slots to increase AB and add other useful feats.  That would also mean moving Ranger and Monk much earlier.

Wizard(38), Ranger(1), Monk(1), Elf
STR: 10
DEX: 16
CON: 12
WIS: 8
INT: 18 (36)
CHA: 8

Elf: (Hardiness vs. Enchantments, Keen Sense, Low-light Vision, Skill Affinity: Listen, Skill Affinity: Search, Skill Affinity: Spot, Sleeplessness)
01: Wizard(1): Toughness, {Scribe Scroll}
02: Wizard(2)
03: Wizard(3): Weapon Finesse
04: Wizard(4): INT+1, (INT=19)
05: Wizard(5): Extend Spell
06: Wizard(6): Silent Spell
07: Wizard(7)
08: Wizard(8): INT+1, (INT=20)
09: Wizard(9): Two-Weapon Fighting
10: Wizard(10): Empower Spell
11: Wizard(11)
12: Wizard(12): INT+1, Ambidexterity, (INT=21)
13: Wizard(13)14: Wizard(14)
15: Wizard(15): Spell Focus: Necromancy, Maximize Spell
16: Wizard(16): INT+1, (INT=22)
17: Wizard(17)
18: Wizard(18): Improved Two-Weapon Fighting
19: Wizard(19)
20: Ranger(1): INT+1, Greater Spell Focus: Necromancy, {Dual Wield}, (INT=23)
21: Wizard(20): Epic Spell Focus: Necromancy
22: Wizard(21)
23: Wizard(22)
24: Wizard(23): INT+1, Great Intelligence I, Epic Spell: Epic Mage Armor, (INT=25)
25: Wizard(24)
26: Wizard(25)
27: Monk(1): Epic Skill Focus: Concentration, {Cleave, Evasion, Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist}
28: Wizard(26): INT+1, Great Intelligence II, (INT=27)
29: Wizard(27)
30: Wizard(28): Great Intelligence III, (INT=28)
31: Wizard(29): Epic Spell: Epic Warding
32: Wizard(30): INT+1, (INT=29)
33: Wizard(31): Armor Skin
34: Wizard(32): Great Intelligence IV, (INT=30)
35: Wizard(33)
36: Wizard(34): INT+1, Great Intelligence V, (INT=32)
37: Wizard(35): Great Intelligence VI, (INT=33)
38: Wizard(36)
39: Wizard(37): Great Intelligence VII, (INT=34)
40: Wizard(38): INT+1, Great Intelligence VIII, (INT=36)

Hitpoints: 250
Skillpoints: 371
Saving Throws (Fortitude/Will/Reflex): 19/20/19
Saving Throw bonuses: Spells: +11, Mind Effects: +2
BAB: 20
AB (max, naked): 23 (melee), 23 (ranged)
AC (naked/mundane armor/shield only): 19/26
Spell Casting: Wizard(9)Alignment Changes: 0
               
               

               


                     Modifié par brendonwp, 04 février 2014 - 09:19 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_MrZork

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« Reply #27 on: February 04, 2014, 09:26:32 am »


               

brendonwp wrote...

MrZ, a few comments on your multiclass build earlier.  I popped it into CBC, and only get one feat at level 21 where you have two.  I then put in Armor Skin in place of one Great Int, and came up with the build that I've listed at the bottom.
Comparing this to the Sinister Magus build on the Epic Site, with similar starting stats, I'm surprised to see how much lower the naked AC is on my character: 19 vs 24.  Halflings only get an extra 1AC to start with, so is this due to the Assassin levels?  
I understand the sizable AB difference (23 vs 29), as the SM build has used Weapon Focus, Epic Weapon Focus and Epic Prowess to pump it up.


Not sure what's going on with your CBC sheet. You are taking wizard level 20 at character level 21. That gives you the wizard bonus feat and the general epic feat. Here is the CBC sheet (7zipped for size) that I whipped up. Maybe that will help.

The AC difference is partly because that build takes a later tumble dump. At level 37, one can put 40 ranks into tumble. At level 27, the limit is 30, so that's a +2 AC improvement for the later skill dump at a cost of not being able to use those skills until 10 levels later in the build. It's a playing preference, as I have noted elsewhere, whether your prefer to be a bit more powerful at the end, or to have better playability through a longer portion of the build. I generally go for the latter, unless I am playing in a module where most of the toon's career will be at level 40.

The rest of the AC difference is not clear to me. That assassin build should wind up with an AC 3 better than the build I posted, if you altered it to take Armor Skin. I don't see the skill summary in the build you posted - is it possible that you forgot to put 30 points into tumble at level 27 or that you forgot the Armor Skin? Here's where the AC comes from: 10 (base) +3 (DEX) +6 (tumble) +2 (Armor Skin) = 21 AC. That's what you should be showing. The assassin build has an extra 10 ranks in tumble (+2) and gets a bonus for a small race (+1) = 24 AC.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_PracticalKat

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« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2014, 09:49:41 am »


               Will look at the CBC sheet.  Did not look at adjusting the skills (incl Tumble) yet, so that will account for most of the difference. Duh!

I prefer earlier access to Tumble over waiting for more ranks in total.