Talk:Spellcasting Powerhouse (3.5e Optimized Character Build)

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Name[edit]

Any ideas on a good name for this? The old name (+1d6 caster level for every arcane spell (DnD Character Optimization)) was too long so I changed it to "Damaging Spells (DnD Character Optimization)". However, I do not think that it encompasses this idea that well. So, any ideas on a better name? --Green Dragon 13:32, 7 April 2007 (MDT)

Spellcasting Powerhouse? Flession 13:19, 9 April 2007 (MDT)
Perfect, thanks. --Green Dragon 10:24, 10 April 2007 (MDT)

Level[edit]

Should be limited to third level characters or higher, otherwise you've got a half-decent chance of having a negative caster level. Otherwise, include rules for said negative caster level (and for zero-level casting, now that I think of it). Armond 15:23, 10 April 2007 (MDT)

If you want to change this please go ahead — this is a stub after all and any help it can get is needed. --Green Dragon 17:59, 10 April 2007 (MDT)
It looks much better now, good job! --Green Dragon 21:06, 11 April 2007 (MDT)
One tries ones best *hides from praise* :P Armond 08:33, 12 April 2007 (MDT)
I was looking at this and it intrigues me. I don't recall if there are any "official" rules for having a caster level of zero or less. The current progression (4 wizard, 1 warmage, then wild mage) would first require you to choose either the Wizard or the Warmage as the class to which you would add the "+1 spellcasting". So you would either get a CL if Wizard 5, Warmage 1 or Wizard 4, Warmage 2. From there, you would subtract the 3 and add the 1d6 to get either Wizard 2+1d6 and Warmage -2+1d6 or Wizard 1+1d6 and Warmage -1+1d6. The second option could end up with an effective CL of zero for the Warmage side. Now I know that the Complete Arcane states that a Wild Mage "reduces her caster level by 3 for all spells she casts from now on," but I think it was only worded that way because you don't often get people taking two arcane classes. If you use this logic, then perhaps only the CL to which you apply the "+1 spellcasting" would be affected by the -3+1d6 CL of the Wild Mage. If this is the case, you would end up with a CL of Wizard 2+1d6 and Warmage 1. I think this would be a reasonable thing for a DM to rule as well. Of course, if you apply it to all arcane caster levels and then continue on to the Ultimate Magus and tack on CL for both sides, this soon disappears. I'm working on a possible build for this and when I get it done, I will post it up. --Skwyd 15:48, 11 June 2007 (MDT)
Oddly enough, the spellcasting requirement for the wild mage is "arcane caster level 1st," so you could be a rogue 4/wizard 1 and qualify for the PrC.
By the wording of the wild magic class feature, the caster level applies to all spells (arcane and divine) cast by the character (and invocations, too).
I'd treat a 0 caster level the same as I would a caster level of 1st or higher. A few spells, like resistance are unaffected by caster level so they'd function normally. With some spells, like magic missile, this may mean they fail altogether. With a less than zero caster level, I'd apply the negative caster level whenever possible, like spells with ranges x ft. + y ft./level, and caster level checks, and treat it as a zero caster level whenever negatives don't work, like fireball damage. —Sledged (talk) 22:12, 14 June 2007 (MDT)
I felt i needed to point out according to the D&D Wiki you need the Wild Child feat as Pre-req for Wild Mage PrC

Game Mechanics[edit]

So I spent some time last night pondering this particular class build and I have some questions that I'd like to present to the group and get some feed back.

The first has to do with the Practiced Spellcaster feat. At face value, the feat simply adds 4 to the effective caster level of one of your spell casting classes, not to exceed your character level. I've seen characters built with this feat and it does wonders to help "balance out" multi-classed spell casters by bringing their damage and such up to levels on par with the opponents they are facing. I'm stuck on the "this benefit can't increase your caster level to higher than your hit dice" and how it interacts with the Wild Mage class ability.

In my opinion, there are two ways this could go. One is that the Wild Mage -3 to caster level goes first, then the +4 from practiced spell caster adds back (effectively eliminating the -3), and then add in the +1d6 to get the final CL. The other way is that the Wild Mage -3 goes first, then the +1d6 adds in next, then the Practiced Spellcaster adds whatever amount of the +4 it can to bring the CL up to a max of the character's HD. I tend to go with the first scenario because the Wild Mage ability does have the capability of increasing the CL beyond the HD of the caster, however, the "official" rules may disagree with me.

The other question I have is about the second 1d6 added to the CL. Where does the character get this? The article says that it gets 1d6 from the Wild Mage class feature and 1d6 from "this optimization"... How does that work? I don't see the source of a second 1d6 and I'm really confused by it because without it, the CL doesn't really get that effective... (stop and discuss) --Skwyd 11:35, 12 June 2007 (MDT)

Two relevant entries in the 3.5 FAQ:

Does the bonus to caster level from the Practiced Spellcaster feat (from Complete Arcane and Complete Divine) apply before or after other caster level bonuses (such as those from the Good or Healing domains)?

The bonus from Practiced Spellcaster applies whenever it would be most beneficial to the caster. A 4th-level cleric/4th-level fighter with the Healing domain and Practiced Spellcaster would cast Conjuration (Healing) spells as a 9th-level caster (base caster level 4th, +4 from Practiced Spellcaster, +1 from the Healing domain). A 4th-level cleric/4th-level rogue with Practiced Spellcaster who activates a bead of karma (from a strand of prayer beads) would cast her spells as a 12th-level caster (base 4, +4 from Practiced Spellcaster, +4 from bead of karma).

and...

How does Practiced Spellcaster interact with the wild magic class feature of the wild mage (from Complete Arcane)?

The –3 penalty and +1d6 bonus to the wild mage’s caster level are applied as a single step in the process of determining the wild mage’s caster level. Since Practiced Spellcaster’s bonus is always applied when it is most beneficial to the character (see previous answer), a wild mage with Practiced Spellcaster would typically apply the wild magic class feature first (subtracting 3 and adding 1d6 to her caster level) and then add the Practiced Spellcaster benefit, up to a maximum value equal to her character level.

For example, if a 5th-level wizard/4th-level wild mage with Practiced Spellcaster rolled a 1 on the 1d6 bonus to her caster level, her caster level for that spell would be 9th (base 9th, –3 from wild magic penalty, +1 from wild magic bonus, +4 from Practiced Spellcaster up to a maximum equal to her character level). If she rolled a 6, her caster level would be 12th (base 9th, –3 from wild magic penalty, +6 from wild magic bonus; the Practiced Spellcaster bonus would not apply since it would increase her caster level above her character level).

On the other hand, imagine a wild mage whose caster level (before applying the effects of the wild magic class feature) is less than her character level, such as a wild mage with levels of rogue or other non-spellcasting class. She might well choose to apply the Practiced Spellcaster bonus first, before applying the wild magic modifiers. A rogue 4/wizard 5/wild mage 4 would have a base caster level of 9th before any other modifiers are applied. Adding Practiced Spellcaster’s bonus would increase this to 13th, at which point the penalty and bonus from wild magic would be applied. The Sage recommends that players averse to frequently recalculating caster level avoid playing a character with this combination, as it is likely to cause headaches.

It's interesting to note that the example treats the modifier for the wild magic class feature as a single modifier (+1d6−3), not as a separate penalty (−3) and bonus (+1d6), as the wild magic wording suggests.
My take is that Practiced Spellcaster was meant to pick up the slack for levels that don't provide a caster level increase, like multiclassing, creatures with racial HD, and classes that don't give a caster increase at every level like the eldritch knight, ranger, and paladin classes. It wasn't designed for circumstances like wild mage's wild magic (but I could be wrong about that, given that they both appear in the same sourcebook).
Also, the main theme for the wild mage is that the unpredictable nature of his spells means that the results could be as beneficial for the character as it could be disadvantageous. Using Practiced Spellcaster to completely negate the possible drawback, leaving only the potential for benefit, seems to subvert the theme of the PrC.
As a result I would completely resolve the benefit of Practice Spellcaster first, then apply all other modifiers afterward.
As to the second +1d6 to the caster level, I've MoI'ed Armond since he was the one that added that bit o' text. —Sledged (talk) 10:26, 15 June 2007 (MDT)
Well then, that answers my question perfectly! I'll keep that in mind about applying Practiced Spellcaster when it is most advantageous. The min-maxers in my games will love this bit of info! :) So, as the feat applies to this build, it looks like you would roll your d6 first to see what the result was and if it was below your current CL, you would apply the +4 after to bring it up. If it was above your current CL, you would apply the +4 first...it sounds complex and makes my head want to spin. I'm going to ask my DM if I can change my character...--Skwyd 10:40, 15 June 2007 (MDT)
Ok, I just ran across this site and browsing around, noticed this listing. Back in my college game group, I had a player who did the Wild Mage + Practiced in a game I ran, and as shown above, the FAQ makes it very clear (probably with intent to nerf, but still) that, BEST CASE scenario, you're getting +0-3 CL, so the article certainly misrepresents that. UM also causes a problem, because as your Wizard CL falls lower do to missed levels, you end up with up to another -3 (albeit also a +4). With all of those together, your Wizard CL would probably come out as: Level -4 (-1 warmage, -3 UM), activate wild magic for -2 to +3, +1-4 practiced (because of ceiling), +4 UM for a total of Level +2 to Level +4 OR Level -4, +4 practiced, -2 to +3 wild magic, +4 Um for a total of Level +2 to +7. The second is clearly superior, so there you go. Note that effectively you're back to getting the entire wild magic variance, except that its in a positive range.
I'm also really curious where the magic second +1d6 came from! The only thing I can think of is that this is some weird interpretation of including UM, or that MAYBE you could make an argument for it if you were casting 2 spells at once (but even then, I'd say each casting is a discrete event and you'd get variable CL for each one seperately, since the ability gives no duration for the CL boost beyond the instance of spellcasting).
Skwyd, although we've demonstrated its not as powerful as the original article suggests, Wild Mage + Practiced is still one of the best easy CL boosts in 3.5 without using campaign specific classes (like Red Wizard), granting +0-3 CL with one level of a PRC that is easy to enter and provides a good progression if you decide to stay. UM is also powerful, as demonstrated above, although it requires a large sacrifice in actual casting for the potential for very high CL (note you can leave out Wild Mage and simply be a UM with Practiced, and always have a CL of Level +4). There's also a dubious, cheesy option if you want to go for total optimization: Enter UM with wizard alone, by taking a class feature or feat that grants spontaneous casting (such as Spontaneous Divination from Complete Champion). While most people will veto you getting double advancement in wizard casting on the wizard/sorc levels, you do get full wizard advancement and end up with full wiz casting and CL +4. You can add the Wild Mage + Practiced on top of that, if you want, to end up with full wiz casting and CL +4 to 7. Cheers and happy blasting! ^_^ --Solidstate 00:21, 16 June 2007 (MDT)
When I first went through the exercise of determining the effective CL of the various casters, I made some mistakes. When I push through it now, the Wizard CL essentially goes up rather quickly, and when the character reaches level 16 (all 10 levels of UM) the Wizard CL is 16 + 1d6 and the Warmage is 15 + 1d6, so it is pretty much awesome. I don't think you're giving up that much actual casting. I haven't done that math just yet, but there still would be a fairly large selection of spells. Besides, the ability to drop a spell (or spell slot) to use a metamagic feat is quite powerful! Still a fun concept, though... --Skwyd 01:59, 16 June 2007 (MDT)
Of course, I'm only talking about effective casting (IE, getting high level spells) and caster level. Versitility is something I didnt discuss at all, and going full doubly is going to give you the benefit of two spell lists, a high volume of mid-level spells, the metamagic option, etc... Which is all quite valuable. I'm a big fan of F. Lyrists and Arcane Hierophants, myself, mixing Wizard and Druid for Arcane-Infused death monkey attack style ^_^
My main criticism of your approach is that when you're only reaching level... 11-13ish, maybe, for actual casting you dont get some of the spells that MOST benefit from jacking up CL. Polar Ray and Shapechange, for instance, take advantage up to CL 25... but you do need an actual wizard casting level of 15 or 17 respectively to get advantage of them. My goal was mostly to show how you can get up to +7 CL (well, +8 with Archmage as well) on TOP of full casting, so you can, for example, start Shapechanging into a 25 HD monstrosity when you hit level 17 ;)-Solidstate 13:22, 16 June 2007 (MDT)
I realize that this build does slow down the actual spell progression (when the character gets spells of certain levels), but as far as which spells that MOST benefit from increased CL is a bit subjective. Not everyone uses/likes shapechange or polar ray. And I would also point out that a spell like chain lightning would benefit from the progression as well (you can potentially hit CL20 at 14th level). And since the typical campaign (at least in which I've participated) ends when the characters are about 12th level, figuring out what happens beyond that often is irrelevant.
I tend to look at these "optimizations" with a view of actual playability as well. I guarantee that in the campaigns where I've played, if I shape changed into a 25HD monster at 17th level, I would only get away with it once. At that point, the DM would take a long hard look at how I've trumped up the character and made the party so incredibly unbalanced.
There are probably a million ways to consider how to optimize CL on a wizard. I was trying to clarify and quantify one that was posted here. I liked it due to the broad spell selection available and the rather interesting blend of wild magic with two styles of arcane casting. I'd love to see the builds that other people have created and I would especially love to see them posted on this wiki!
Now I just have to go through and optimize a shape changing wizard that is a CR 17 opponent for the campaign I'm running... --Skwyd 10:30, 18 June 2007 (MDT)
I dont mean to diminish your build at all. Like I said, there are utility advantages to be had in any kind of doubly caster (and, as I said, I have a particular love for the Druid/Arcane ones myself). And I dont deny at all that boosted CL is good early as well. I created a build for a friend of mine to play in some game he had, based entirely around jacking up CL early for Scorching Ray (using things like Draconic Heritage feats and every other little thing possible). Its definitely brutal when you get extra rays ahead of schedule ;) That being said, the point you make about low-level advantage from high CL would apply on my builds as well, since if your DM is silly enough to allow Spontaneous Divination into UM, you get into it faster than with 2 classes :) But the metamagic isnt something to give up casually, and I imagine its worth whatever delay you get, especially if you're doing a few larger encounters/day rather than a lot of small ones.
And of course, that's ALWAYS the best way to approach PCs with silly, broken builds - no reasons the villains shouldn't be equally broken and maximized :D I also totally agree about Shapechange, my home games have banned the polymorph family of spells for a while now, long before the Wizard nerf. I have a personal issue with a menagerie of monsters running around in place of a party of humans and elves and dwarves... it just doesn't seem as thematic. -Solidstate 00:24, 19 June 2007 (MDT)
I noticed something about the two snippets that were posted above. The first one claims. "The bonus from Practiced Spellcaster applies whenever it would be most beneficial to the caster." And the second one claims "If she rolled a 6, her caster level would be 12th (base 9th, –3 from wild magic penalty, +6 from wild magic bonus; the Practiced Spellcaster bonus would not apply since it would increase her caster level above her character level)." Isn't that contradictory? According to the first example it goes when it would be most advantageous, in such a case that someone rolled a 6, wouldn't you in that case add the practiced spell caster first, as previously claimed? --Colona 11:52, 8 August 2008 (PST)

Alternative[edit]

I was going to suggest taking a level of archmage to get the spell power ability, then I noticed the hierophant's spell power ability can be taken more than once, but you have to be able to cast 7th-level divine spells. So I found this alternative:

wizard 5/rainbow servant 10/any full arcane extender 2/hierophant 3.

The capstone ability of the rainbow servant (which only gives 6 levels of spellcasting progression) is that the character gets to add all cleric spells to her spell list, and, unlike true dragons and couatls, any spell that's not already on her spell list is cast as a divine spell. With Practiced Spellcaster and a bead of karma, her caster level is 27th for divine spells and 23rd for arcane spells at 20th level (though depending on how the DM interprets the description of the bead of karma, the 27th caster level applies to arcane spells, too). One limitation is that her spell selection is that of a 13th-level wizard.

However, this gets even better at epic levels. Take the last two levels of hierophant, and one level of archmage, and her caster level is 33rd/29th at 23th level. Take three levels of any full arcane extender, and she meets all three sets of prerequisites for Epic Spellcasting, allowing her to cast 6 epic spells per day. One more level and she can cast 9 epic spells per day. —Sledged (talk) 12:34, 13 June 2007 (MDT)

A different way to read the rules[edit]

Mkill 02:56, 3 July 2007 (MDT)

The Practised Spellcaster feat (CA 82) says: "Your caster level for the chosen spellcasting class increases by 4. This benefit can't increase your caster level to higher than your Hit Dice." (Meh, bad English, poor game designer does not know the word "beyond", but I disgress)

The Wild Mage (CA 69) says: "She reduces her caster level by 3 for all spells she casts from now on."

As I see it, that's what it does:

Practised Spellcaster affects your class. For example, if you are a Fighter 3 / Sorcerer 3, your Sorcerer caster level would be 6.

The Wild Mage reduces the caster level only the moment he casts a spell. So, a Fighter 3 / Sorcerer 3 / Wildmage 1 would have a caster level of 7 as a Sorcerer (+1 for Wild Mage spellcasting progression), but the moment he casts a spell, that caster level is 4 + 1d6. Note that for other purposes than casting spells, such as using wands, the caster level of this character is still 7.

A Sorcerer 6 / Wildmage 1 with the Practised Spellcaster feat would still have a normal caster level of 7 and 4+1d6 for spellcasting, and he does not gain any benefit from the feat.

In short: The trick you try to sell here is a misreading of the rules and if I was the DM the whole build would be useless.

The Practiced Spellcaster feat does not affect your class at all. It only affects your caster level. The wording on the Wild Mage's Wild Magic ability is not 100% in the source book. The point is that there has been an official ruling by WotC on these (they are included on the discussion page). It seems here that a big deal is being made about what has already been discussed. And the main points are that (1) the Practiced Spellcaster feat is applied when it would be most beneficial to the caster, and (2) the Wild Mage level adjustment is applied all at once (+1d6-3).
So, in your above examples, a Ftr3/Sor3/Wld1 with the Practiced Spellcaster feat would roll a d6 when casting the spell, and then could determine in what order the things that adjust his caster level apply. He has a base of 4 (3 from Sor, 1 from Wld). If the d6 roll is high, he could apply the feat first, raising it up to 7, then apply the Wild Magic adjustment. Or, if the roll is low, he could apply the Wild Magic adjustment first, then the feat, to try to keep it up at 7. That's exactly what the FAQ stated.
Your second example of the Sor6/Wld1 could still take the Practiced Spellcaster feat. Normally, there would be no benefit for the Practiced Spellcaster feat because you have all 7 levels that add to your caster level. However, according to the rules, you could take that feat. And, again according to the rules, you could apply it when it is most beneficial. So, worst case scenario with a Sor6/Wld1 casting a spell, would be to roll a 1. That results in a -2 to caster level. You could then apply the feat to raise your caster level (not beyond your hit dice) to negate the -2. If you rolled a 6, that results in a +3 to caster level, you could apply the feat then, but it would have no effect as you have already exceeded your hit dice with your caster level and the feat has no effect. And, in this example, anytime you apply the feat before the Wild Magic, you get no bonus because you couldn't raise your caster level beyond your hit dice at that point.
So the main points I think there are about this build are that (1) it is tricky to figure caster level when a Wild Mage is involved (2) the Practiced Spellcaster feat is applied when it can provide the most benefit (per the FAQ) (3) I don't think there was any misreading of the rules, just uncertainty to the actual application of them, which has been, in my opinion, cleared up by the FAQ.
The only confusion I have with this build is still where the extra 1d6 comes in for the caster level. I can't figure out how that comes about, so this build isn't really as strong as it first seemed anyway. --Skwyd 10:45, 3 July 2007 (MDT)
I think it's important to note that the FAQ is not a source of official rules. The FAQ's purpose is to clarify the rules. It can neither change rules nor make up rules where none exist. That's the purpose of the errata docs. The most the FAQ can do is reference an official rule sources or give suggestions on how to handle scenarios where the relevant rule information is either ambiguous or absent. The FAQ has been known to contradict the rules and contradict itself. —Sledged (talk) 11:00, 3 July 2007 (MDT)
Good point about the FAQ. My group has always used the FAQ to give some sort of direction in a situation where the rules are very unclear. And in many cases, they are often the best way to resolve a disagreement (we agree to just use the FAQ as it comes from outside of the game table). And thanks for moving this to the discussion page. I thought about it when I was writing, then got distracted. --Skwyd 11:04, 3 July 2007 (MDT)
Ultimately, nothing in the game is so 'official' that it cannot be changed, that's the golden rule, the rule 0, of every tabletop RPG, that the particular GM/DM/ST has final say, potentially with the input of the group. But the FAQ is the most official thing out of Wizards when it comes to the clarification of ability interactions. Saying Errata are more official is a little misleading. Errata only cover misprints, corrections, and balance changes in printed text, so they will NEVER address an issue if the issue isn't handled in a book already - and by definition questions of interaction tend to come up where the rules for interaction -aren't- written in a book. In terms of officialdom, they're both posted to the same place, and I think they're more or less equally official (and certainly, they're both official in the scheme of things like RPGA events). But rule 0 always applies. If your DM decides that fighters are ZOMG too powerful and that they should have d4 hit dice, that's his (bizarre) call :D
And yes... can someone PLEASE clarify the thing with the extra d6 on the main article? If its not justified somewhere it should really be removed, as its from nowhere and makes the build sound way cooler than it is. --Solidstate 12:27, 4 July 2007 (MDT)
Ok, I looked at the FAQ and I find the ruling there fishy at best. "Add your modifiers up in any order how it works best" is not a good way to rule things. Why not just say "Interpret the rules in any way how it works best for your character" or "we're just writing this to appease the munchkins and make them shut up".
No, I really prefer something like "A is always first, B is always second, C is always last". Even better would be more consistent game design. Either *all* abilities that raise spellcaster level are cut off at the HD, or *none*. --Mkill 22:30, 4 July 2007 (MDT)
I think the biggest problem is that the Wild Mage does something that is odd, at best. And the Practiced Spellcaster feat is the only thing (so far) that I've read that gives any sort of variable as to when it applies. I think that the wording there was put in to specifically prevent "munchkins" from abusing it too much. Otherwise, I'm sure someone would figure out how to add the +4 after their caster level was well above their HD. The idea of that feat is to allow a caster to take non-caster levels and recover some of the penalty associated with that. The feat doesn't give them access to spells known that they "missed" but at least helps keep the variables (duration/dice of damage/targets) up to par with others of the same level. I think that some abilities should be able to push caster level above HD (for example the Healing Domain pushing curative spells up). But some shouldn't, so it is difficult in a game to make absolute rules all of the time. Rules like that can help eliminate some confusion, but they also can take away some of the flexibility and freedom that is part of the PnP RPG experience. --Skwyd 10:14, 5 July 2007 (MDT)

Hopefully helpful edits[edit]

I'm going to be using this build and thought I'd throw it into an actual wiki table for easier reading. While I was at it, I added the specials for each level of the various classes. I copied the format from another optimization. I hope I did it right! ~LeeAnn 12/8/2010

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