Black Lion (4e Optimized Character Build)

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Introduction[edit]

A black lion Dragonrider.

This guide was created so you can busy yourself with role-playing without having to worry about how to build a useful Black Lion striker. The tactics used here rely on high mobility and making use of high spike damage on selected targets. The finished product makes an ideal scout for the party, and is a capable ranged striker. Feats are selected with synergy bonuses in mind.

References[edit]

Black Lion
Black Lion Lead
Black Lion Powers
Adventurer's Vault [AV]
Adventurer's Vault 2 [AV2]
Martial Power [MP]
Player's Handbook [PHB]
Player's Handbook 2 [PHB2]
Forgotten Realm's Players Guide [FRPG]
4th Edition Character Optimization Boards at Wizards Forums

Black Lion Build[edit]

Suggested Path: Black Lion, Black Lion Lead, Demigod

  • Why: Black Lion Lead grants Wisdom damage on a missed attack at 11th level. Demigod's Divine Miracle is ridiculously powerful and the ability score bonuses are awesome.

Suggested Ability Scores: Dexterity 18-20. Wisdom 16-18. Constitution 13.

  • Why: Dexterity is your main offense and defense stat so make it your highest score. Wisdom is used for maximizing damage and power capabilities. Constitution should start at 13 to qualify for the Hide Specialization Feat at 12th level.

Suggested Race: Elf.

  • Why: Ability Score bonuses are perfect. Wild Step and Elven Accuracy are awesome for any ranged striker and offer synergy.

Suggested Skills: Athletics, Endurance, Perception, Stealth.

  • Why: Endurance can be used to increase your survivability and qualify for useful feats. Stealth and Perception are the bread-and-butter of any Striker build, period.

Suggested Human Feat: Action Surge.

  • Why: Novas! A +3 to hit just when you need it. Awesome.

Level Progression (Heroic)[edit]

Key:
BAB: Base Attack Bonus
BDB: Base Defense Bonus
Checks: Bonus to all Skill Checks
NAD: Non Armor Defenses
DPR: Damage Per Round
Nova: Action Point Attack + Daily Power Combo

Level BAB, BDB and Checks Powers Feats Equipment Special
At-will Encounter Daily Utility
1 - Two Claws, Strike and Run Elven Accuracy, Lion Strike Jaws of the Lion - Weapon Proficiency: Greatbow Greatbow, Hide Armor, Adventurers Kit Greatbow over Great Crossbow, as crossbows need Speed Loader feat to maximize potential.
2 +1 - - - Lion's Yield Weapon Expertise: Greatbow +1 Greatbow
3 - - Lion's Counterattack - - - +1 Hide Armor
4 +1 - - - - Martial Freedom +1 Cloak of Distortion (4) [AV] Martial Freedom grants +5 against slow/immobilization.
5 - - - Triple Lion Strike - - - Save your cash if you can.
6 +1 - - - Lion's Luck Weapon Focus: Bows +1 Bracers of Archery (6) [AV]
7 - - Lion's Barrage - - - +2 Hide Armor Add an enchantment to your armor if you want.
8 +1 - - - - Wintertouched +2 Frost Greatbow Grab a Frost weapon ahead of time if you can.
9 - - - Pounce on the Run - - Boots of Quickness (8) [AV], Belt of Vim (8) [AV]
10 +1 - - - Lion's Purge Quick Draw +2 Cloak of Distortion (9) [AV], Endless Quiver (9) [AV2] Unlimited arrows is a must

Level 10 Photograph:

  • At-Will Powers: (2) Two-Claws, Strike and Run.
  • Encounter Powers: (4) Elven Accuracy, Lion Strike, Lions Counterattack, Lions Barrage.
  • Daily Powers: (3) Jaws of the Lion, Triple Lion Strike, Pounce on the Run.
  • Utility Powers: (3) Lions Yield, Lions Luck, Lions Purge.
  • Feats: (6) W.Proficiency: (Greatbow), W.Expertise: (Greatbow), Martial Freedom, W.Focus: (Bows), Wintertouched, Quick Draw.
  • Gear: +2 Frost Greatbow, +2 Hide Armor, +2 Cloak of Distortion, +1 Bracers of Archery, Endless Quiver, Boots of Quickness, Belt of Vim, Adventurers Kit.

Level Progression (Paragon)[edit]

Level BAB, BDB and Checks Powers Feats Equipment Special
At-will Encounter Daily Utility
11 - - Lion's Bear Trap - - Lasting Frost +3 Hide Armor Paragon Path Features: Lead's Mastery, Lead's Action. With Lasting Frost, Wintertouched, and a Frost Greatbow you always have Combat Advantage.
12 +1 - - - Lion's Glory Armor Specialization: Hide - -
13 - - Pinning Claw - - - +3 Frost Greatbow, Salve of Power (10) [AV] Replace Lion Strike (1) with Pinning Claw (13).
14 +1 - - - - Fleet-footed +3 Earthhide Displacer Armor
15 - - - Lion's Volley - - +3 Cloak of Distortion Replace Jaws of the Lion (1) with Lion's Volley (15).
16 +1 - - - Lion's Respite Combat Anticipation Paragon Bracers of Archery (16) [AV] Path Feature: Lead's Recovery
17 - - Three Claws - - - Aquamarine Solitaire (16) [AV] Replace Lion's Counterattack (3) with Three Claws (17). The Solitaire grants an extra attack on a critical hit, once an encounter.
18 +1 - - - - Running Shot +4 Frost Greatbow
19 - - - None - - +4 Displacer Feyhide Armor (19) [AV] Keep Pounce on the Run
20 +1 - - Lion's Prey - Uncanny Dodge +4 Cloak of Distortion, Paragon Boots of Quickness (18) [AV] Path Feature: Lion's Prey. Uncanny Dodge counters Running Shot.

Level 20 Photograph:

  • At-Will Powers: (2) Two-Claws, Strike and Run.
  • Encounter Powers: (5) Elven Accuracy, Pinning Claw, Three Claws, Lions Barrage, Lions Bear Trap.
  • Daily Powers: (4) Lions Volley, Triple Lion Strike, Pounce on the Run, Lions Prey.
  • Utility Powers: (5) Lions Yield, Lions Luck, Lions Purge, Lions Glory, Lions Respite.
  • Feats: (6) W.Proficiency: (Greatbow), W.Expertise: (Greatbow), Martial Freedom, W.Focus: (Bows), Wintertouched, Quick Draw.
  • Feats: (6) Lasting Frost, A.Specialization: (Hide), Fleet-footed, Combat Anticipation, Running Shot, Uncanny Dodge.
  • Gear: +4 Frost Greatbow, +4 Displacer Feyhide Armor, +4 Cloak of Distortion, Paragon Bracers of Archery, Circlet of Indomitably, Paragon Boots of Quickness, Belt of Vim, Aquamarine Solitaire, Endless Quiver, Adventurers Kit.

Level Progression (Epic)[edit]

Level BAB, BDB and Checks Powers Feats Equipment Special
At-will Encounter Daily Utility
21 - - - - - Bow Mastery [PHB2] Paragon Belt of Vim (18) [AV], Paragon Circlet of Indomitably (18) [AV] Demigod Feature: Divine Spark.
22 +1 - - - Lion's Cunning Hawkeye Warrior [MP] (Elf) -
23 - - Bleeding Claws - - - +5 Frost Greatbow Replace Pinning Claw (13) for Bleeding Claws (23)
24 +1 - - - Divine Regeneration Epic Resurgence +5 Displacer Stalkerhide Armor Demigod Feature: Divine Recovery.
25 - - - Thrash - - +5 Cloak of Distortion (24) [AV] Replace Triple Lion Strike (5) with Thrash (25).
26 +1 - - - - Epic Reflex Violet Solitaire (26) [AV] Demigod Feature: Divine Regeneration. Replace Aquamarine Solitaire (16) with Violet Solitaire (26).
27 - - Finish Him - - - Shadow Band (27) [AV] Replace Three Claws (17) for Finish Him (27). Shadow Band gives always active concealment.
28 +1 - - - - Epic Fortitude +6 Frost Greatbow, Epic Bracers of Archery (26) [AV]
29 - - - The Black Game - - +6 Displacer Voidhide Armor (29) [AV] Replace Thrash (25) with The Black Game (29).
30 +1 - - - - Epic Will +6 Cloak of Distortion (29) [AV], Boots of Teleportation (29) [AV] Demigod Feature: Divine Miracle.

Level 30 Photograph:

  • At-Will Powers: (2) Two-Claws, Strike and Run.
  • Encounter Powers: (5) Elven Accuracy, Bleeding Claw, Finish Him, Lions Barrage, Lions Bear Trap.
  • Daily Powers: (4) Lions Volley, The Black Game, Pounce on the Run, Lions Prey.
  • Utility Powers: (7) Lions Yield, Lions Luck, Lions Purge, Lions Glory, Lions Respite, Lions Cunning, Divine Regeneration.
  • Feats: (6) W.Proficiency: (Greatbow), W.Expertise: (Greatbow), Martial Freedom, W.Focus: (Bows), Wintertouched, Quick Draw.
  • Feats: (6) Lasting Frost, A.Specialization: (Hide), Fleet-footed, Combat Anticipation, Running Shot, Uncanny Dodge.
  • Feats: (6) Bow Mastery, Hawkeye Warrior, Epic Resurgence, Epic Reflex, Epic Will, Epic Fortitude.
  • Gear: +6 Frost Greatbow, +6 Displacer Voidhide Armor, +6 Cloak of Distortion, Epic Bracers of Archery, Paragon Circlet of Indomitably, Boots of Teleportation, Paragon Belt of Vim, Violet Solitaire, Shadow Band, Endless Quiver, Adventurers Kit.

Highlights[edit]

This section describes the combinations and synergies of feats and powers that make this build unique.

  • Two Claws At-will Power + Lead's Master Path Feature = Wisdom modifier damage twice even on a miss.
  • Weapon Proficiency Greatbow + Weapon Expertise Greatbow + Weapon Focus Greatbow + Bow Mastery = Near perfect accuracy. Only crossbows with speed loader feat do better.
  • Lasting Frost + Wintertouched + Frost Weapon = Combat Advantage almost 100% of the time.
  • Displacer Armor + Cloak of Distortion + Shadow Band + Combat Anticipation = Almost impossible to be hit by enemy artillery.
  • Lion's Purge + Martial Freedom = Negates slow and immobilization frequently.
  • Fleet-footed + Running Shot + Uncanny Dodge + Defensive Mobility + Boots of Quickness = Running around constantly with amazing speed while maintaining perfect aim and armor class.
  • Epic Resurgence + Divine Miracle = Always have an encounter power to use.
  • Endless Quiver = Unlimited number of arrows to use in combat.

Notes and Extras[edit]

Munchkin-Size Me[edit]

Abuse the Divine Miracle and The Black Game powers. I don't have to tell you how. Also, the Salves of Power (lets you recover a Daily Power of 5th level or lower) can be abused if you acquire too many of these Salves. Since this would allow you to use a Daily Power on an encounter basis. However, this build trades out Triple Lion Strike at 25th level which makes them pretty much useless since you no longer have a Daily Power to use now.

Feat Selection[edit]

You can be pretty loose with your feat choices. This build follows a specific style. Heroic Tier = Attack Bonuses, Paragon = Synergy Bonuses, and Epic Tier = NAD Bonuses.

Limitations[edit]

Must have a Defender holding the front-line. Enemies cannot have Frost Resistances. Conditions such as daze, stun, weakness, immobilization and slow dramatically hinder this build. Close-quarters encounters with difficult terrain can destroy you. Surprise rounds for all enemy forces can lead to a party wipe if your Perception Check does not detect them.

DM Counters[edit]

Status Conditions, Difficult Terrain, Close-quarters Spaces, Frost Resistant Enemies, and a lack of obstacles that grant Cover and Concealment.

Curve your Line[edit]

Remember, when targeting enemies from range you can shoot right through your ally's occupied square. Also, when determining "Line of Effect", PHB p.273, you can curve your line. Your projectile does not always follow a straight path to its target. You can reasonably arch your arrow, missile, or javelin up and over some walls and obstacles. You must still have "Line of Sight" on your enemies to be able to target them and this trick does not affect the rules for cover and concealment.

How is this better than a Ranger?[edit]

It's not. The Hunter's Quarry feature of a Ranger allows for more damage every round than a Black Lion of equal level. However, many Ranger builds require a large number of feats to maximize your damage potential with Hunter's Quarry. A Black Lion is able to take feats in place of these slots and recover its damage potential with the Lead's Mastery Path Feature. Lead's Mastery grants Wisdom modifier damage even on a missed attack. Also, a Ranger has access to the Spitting Cobra Stance [MP], Daily Power. This grants free attacks against any closing enemy for the duration of an entire encounter. So if you want to maximize your DPR, then go with a Ranger Build.

Target Numbers[edit]

-From "The Art of Striking" by -Mkill.

How much damage should a build do to be good? How much AC should a build have to survive? Let's look at average monster numbers to see what you will be up against. There are guidelines for monster stats in DMG.

The average monster has:
Hit points: 8+Con+Level *8
AC: Level+14
NAD (Fort, Ref, Will): Level+12 (monsters typically have high Str and Con and low Wis and Cha.)
Attack bonus: Level+5
Attack vs. NAD: Level+3

Note how monster statistics go up by one with each level. For PCs, your stats only go up at level/2, and you have to compensate with increased ability scores, feats and magic items. The higher you rise in levels, the more important combat advantage, leader boosts, power synergies, marks and other teamwork benefits become. The "average" hero is assumed to have an attack bonus of level+5 vs. AC, and AC of level+15. Monsters are assumed to go down in about 4 hits (average damage of a hit at lvl 1: 8; at lvl 11: 30; at lvl 21: 50; at lvl 30: 70).

These values aren't that hard to reach, and good builds exceed them by far. The question is, where do you want to surpass these minimum requirements?

  • Higher at-will damage
  • Higher mobility
  • Versatility: switch between ranged and melee
  • Stealth
Higher nova damage (burning dailies against a solo)
Secondary controller / debuffs and status effects
Secondary controller / distributed damage against groups
Secondary controller / stop enemy movement, slide, push, pull
Versatility: target different defenses
Secondary defender / better survivability
Secondary leader / buff your allies, heal

When you plan a character, consider which points in the list should be his specialty. In general, each class excels at one or two of them. A good build concentrates on just these choices. Optimizing against your class often ends in an enemy build that wastes a lot of resources only to become mediocre at something. Good luck and good hunting.



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