Suboptimal build: eladrin fighter

August 20, 2008 at 10:21 pm
filed under Roleplaying
Tagged , ,

There are actually a surprisingly large number of semi-viable race/class combinations. That is, you can still do pretty well for yourself even if you only have a stat that belongs to a class build’s secondary stat.

Lemme show you one that’s been bouncing around in my head: a spear-wielding, Hide-wearing eladrin fighter.

Teleportation! Spears!

I think spears are neat, and I like eladrins’ ability to teleport. I imagine this guy as being slightly out of place in eladrin society, despite the fact that he can’t really shake his contemplative or scholastic side. This might ordinarily be a warlord, but let’s say you want a guy who gets into the thick of things. Eladrin fighter: GO!

An aside: highly optimized vs. not

You probably won’t want to try this in a group that has a bunch of highly optimized characters. More than likely you will miss a lot more than everyone else, and missing a lot is one of the fastest ways for combat to start dragging for you.

In other words, I would avoid doing this unless you’re sure the DM will either work with you to make it viable (e.g. put you a little ahead of the curve on magic items), if you’re really good, or if you see other players with characters like this. Or, uh, if you’re OK with missing and/or dying a lot.

Concept and stats

A light fighter isn’t the worst idea for this kind of guy— we can give him Dex enough to compensate for Hide, and enjoy charging with a speed of 6. There are also plenty of spear-and-Dexterity based exploits.

Because his bonuses aren’t a great match for the class, we have fewer options for what we do with the rest of our stats; in other words, we can’t use the 16/16/12 or 16/14/14 spread unless we want to take a hit on Strength (and we don’t). Let’s go for Str 18 / Dex 16.

I’m gonna go ahead and put a point into Intelligence so that he could conceivably get Jack of All Trades or Linguist. I like the idea of a guy who, despite playing against type, still tries to keep his hand in a variety of disciplines.

Here’s our stat block, from the D&D Ability Generator:

Ability Ability Score Ability Modifier Check Modifier
STR 18 +4 +4
CON 10 +0 +0
DEX 16 +3 +3
INT 13 +1 +1
WIS 10 +0 +0
CHA 8 -1 -1

Eugh. He’s strong, quick, and he’s slightly above average when it comes to smarts, but socially, he’s not great. When he’s not fighting, he just looks uncomfortable in his skin, and it’s somewhat off-putting.

What’s he good for?

With Hide armor, his defenses are AC 16, Fortitude 15, Reflex 13, Will 10. He has 25 hit points. Not great!

Since this whole exercise ain’t worth it without one, he gets the Eladrin Soldier feat. Which spear should he use? After glancing through the PHB, I saw one fighter exploit that excludes a spear or polearm at the expense of the other, and no magic items that do this. So it’s a 2h vs. 1h comparison.

If you go 2h, you’ll probably want Toughness soon and Power Attack to max out your damage. If you go 1h, you get access to shield-based powers and feats, and a more reasonable AC.

It should go without saying that you should pick fighter exploits that leverage Dexterity and/or spears, as there are a fair number of them, and some of the ones in the heroic tier are quite nasty.

Heroic tier feats should be mostly obvious. After Eladrin Soldier, pick up shield feats, Dex-based feats, or anything else that catches your fancy. I see a potentially interesting Defensive Mobility + Powerful Charge + speed 6 combo, for example.

When you hit Paragon Tier, things get a little more interesting, feat-wise. Spear Push is a gimme, as is Feywild Protection. With your high Dexterity, you can get Defensive Advantage and Seize the Moment. You can also trade up to much, much better armor in the long term with Armor Specialization (Scale). Fleet-footed means you can pretend you’re an elf.

I see this guy as being pretty mobile, and doing some neat stuff with the appropriate fighter exploits. He can teleport to where he’s needed if he can’t get there on foot. Plus, spears are cool.

Disclaimer

I’m not actually a fan of min-maxing, and I don’t think I’m particularly good at it. I have no idea if this character is viable in the short-term or the long-term. Heck, why don’t you give it a try and get back to me?

I will say I’m a little surprised by how not-shitty this turned out, at least on paper. I expected this mostly to turn out as a vanity sort of guy, and as I think more about him, I see some interesting possibilities, both mechanically and in terms of roleplaying.

I could see doing more of these unconventional types of characters just for fun. For instance, a tiefling cleric could be an interesting combination!

  • Tom

    I’m actually a big fan of “sub optimal” characters. I tend to feel that have more meat in them for role play versus roll play. What you’ve done, it looks to me, is made a character who kind of bucks Eladrin society overall. His low charisma and his rejection of typical Eladrin fighting techniques seems to show this.

    For what it’s worth, I like it, and I’m not even a fan of 4th Edition ;)

  • Hi, there! I’m glad you like it. :) He is a bit of an odd bird. Maybe someday I’ll even get to play him!

    I’m all right with optimal characters; some people just like to play those kinds of characters, whether they’re big into the roleplaying aspect or not.

    That said, I do kind of see a correlation between sub-optimal characters and ones with interesting roleplay potential. It’s not unlike a player that will make poor decisions for his character because that’s what the character would do.

    It’s not impossible to do this with a highly optimized character. Someday I want to play a wizard who, despite being very adept, absolutely cannot resist an argument. Possibly the new World of Darkness’ Vice system would be good for this kind of inspiration.

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