Character Building/Optimizing Advice (40th Level PCs)

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Post by daveyeisley on Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:42 pm

For the purpose of this post, I am attempting to give advice on how to optimize a character at 40th level.

Attack Bonus:

Attack Bonus is probably one of the two most important stats on your character sheet if you are not a focused spellcaster. The other would be AC.

For Melee characters and Ranged characters, set a goal for a total modified attack bonus of 60 on the lead attack. If you are a little short, its not a huge problem, but this is mainly to maximize your ability to hit epic enemies reliably thus ensuring you have a chance to deal damage. If you can do better than 60 of course this is a good thing. Always try to ensure your attack bonus is based off whichever stat is higher between your Dexterity (using weapon finesse and a weapon that is viable for such) or Strength. High Wisdom characters who use ranged attacks may wish to obtain Zen Archery feat. Divine casters with monk levels get many benefits from this combination.

Warhulk semiclass is exceptionally helpful with achieving this goal ( 10), as well as Divine Power or Tensors Transformation for casters ( 1 AB per 2 caster levels).

There is, however a 20 attack bonus cap, so if you may get reduced benefit or no benefit from some effects, if they would take you past the 20 cap. Attack or enhancement bonus on your weapon does count for this.

For builds involving classes that do not get full Base Attack bonus per level, try to cram as many of these levels post epic as possible to minimize loss of attack bonus, which may affect your final number of attacks per round.

You will need a 16 Base attack bonus by level 20 in order to gain 4 attacks per round. 4 attacks per round is the best you can do from your base attack bonus, but other sources can add attacks such as the Haste
spell, Divine Power or Tenser's Transformation, or wielding 2 weapons.

You will need a base attack bonus of 11 by level 20 to have 3 attacks per round.

Classes taken post-epic will not affect attacks per round, as the number of attacks per round is finalized
at level 20 and all epic levels grant 1 attack per 2 levels, regardless of class chosen at levelup.

When you *must* take non-full base attack classes pre-epic, try to 'stagger' the number of pre-epic levels you take to the attack bonus 'plateaus'.

For instance, classes that gain 1 attack bonus every 2 levels (such as wizard and sorceror) should be taken in pairs before level 21 (pre-epic). Classes that grant 3 attack bonus every 4 levels (such as cleric, monk, or rogue) should be taken in multiples of 4 pre-epic.

Having odd levels of non-full base attack classes in your 20 pre-epic levels can be a loss of attack bonus that is almost always avoidable. In some cases, it is not... but in most, with the right tweaks, it can be.

1/2 AB classes lose a point of AB every odd level, so try to make sure you have an even number of levels in them by level 20.

3/4 AB classes lose a point of AB on the 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th levels... so try to avoid having a such a number of pre-epic levels in those classes.

Armor Class:

A link to Manny's Excellent AC guide post.

For Epic level enemies, you will want an AC greater than 50 if at all possible. 70 is *very* solid, and will make you extremely hard to hit.

For casters, Epic Mage Armor is extremely helpful for this. For Clerics, Paladins, and Blackguards, the Divine shield feat is also very helpful.

If your attack bonus is well over 60, you may also wish to consider the Expertise and Improved Expertise feats.

Methods of concealment such as Empty Body for level 18 Monks, Improved Invisibility/Displacement for Arcane Casters, Self Concealment for Dex-focused stealth/sneakers, and even Cloaks of displacement are all viable options to either mitigate a poor AC, or improve your avoidance even with a good AC.

Characters with a class that gain tumble as a class skill should strive to take a level in that class between level 37 through level 40 in order to raise the tumble ranks to 40 for the best Tumble dodge bonus to AC.

The Ironheart Prestige class grants the highest natural armor bonus available, and this can be combined with other methods mentioned above to improve a build with poor AC. Recommend taking 10 ironheart levels post-epic if possible, or if needed pre-epic, attemot to take 4 or 8 level only pre-epic, and the rest post-epic to minimize impact to the attack bonus.

Damage:

There are *tons* of ways to increase damage output. Here are examples:

High Strength : for a build that uses strength as its primary statistic, your AB will default to this stat (unless you use a ranged attack), and this will also grant you a nice bonus to damage on every hit. Strength builds also qualify for feats like power attack and improved power attack to further increase damage output. 2 handed weapons also multiply the strength modifer by 1.5 to add to damage.

Dual Wielding: If you dont have high strength (or even if you do), but wish to increase your damage output... it doesnt need to be on a per-hit basis. If you add multiple attacks, such as from an offhand weapon, you have more chances to hit, and hence can increase your damage in this way.

Added Damage Bonuses: Spellcasters can imbue weapons with elemental damages, negative, divine, or even positive damage against some or all types of enemies. This is especially effective for dual wield builds, as the more times you hit, the more times these bonuses come into play.

Critical Hits: the Weapon Master class is a perfect example of how to use critical hits to increase your damage output. Get the improved critical feat, get the keen property on your weapon, add in the Weapon Master's Ki Critical ability, and if you are using a weapon with a large threat range such as a rapier, scimitar, or kukri, you will see a good half of your attacks become critical threats. If your attack bonus is high enough, you will confirm most of these, and that translates to *lots* of extra damage.

You dont need the Weapon Master class to use this trick, but it was specifically designed to help optimize such a build. Note: Scythe Weapon Master get a horrifying x5 critical multiplier. While their threat range may not be as impressive, you will not see many, if any, builds that can consistently rival the large numbers that the build can output on its crits.

Sneak Attacks: While not always reliable, as some enemies are flatly immune to them, just as to critical hits, if you invest heavily into gaining more sneak attack damage, you can *drastically* increase the damage you inflict on enemies who are vulnerable. An optimized sneak attack build can dish out 20d6 or more in sneak attack damage. If able to flank the target, this is added to every attack, for an average bonus of 70 damage on top of weapon, strength, feats, and other bonuses.

Sneak Attacks may not be reliable, but are frighteningly powerful when they apply. Blackguard is a powerful class option for sneak attack builds, as it offers sneak attack dice *and* full BAB. If 10 blackguard levels can be taken pre-epic, it is almost a sure thing the build will have 4 attacks per round base, and the sneak attack dice will not suffer overmuch at all. Being evil, and having a 13 strength (or a monk level) are the main caveats to qualify.


Hope this is helpful to some, I will try to add more later. If anyone has questions, post them, and either I or another experienced builder will try to answer them as best we can.


Last edited by daveyeisley on Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:36 am; edited 7 times in total
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Post by Lauralai on Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:04 pm

Wow Dave!!

Some solid, "here's the secret" info!!

Thank you thank you!!

From all of us that are too immediate to read through all the info to get at the meat of the problem, (you may insert> lazy just wanna play it< folks here) lol

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Post by MannyJabrielle on Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:53 pm


Warhulk semiclass is exceptionally helpful with achieving this goal, as well as Divine
Power or Tensors Transformation for casters. To my knowledge, Warhulk attack bonus
will not stack well with Tensor's, so be aware. I am uncertain if Warhulk and Divine
Power stack well.

Warhulk channeling will stack with tensors up to the +20 cap (meaning if you already have AB sources contributing to the +20 cap, you'll only get as much AB out of either tensors or channeling that'll take you to the cap.... example, a +5 weapon with tensors potion will already put you at +15... warhulk would then only provide +5 more AB).
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Post by daveyeisley on Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:36 am

Bump for reformatting
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