Suboptimal build: dwarf wizard

September 7, 2008 at 12:12 pm
filed under Roleplaying
Tagged , ,

Are you ready for this? This combination is an interesting thought experiment. It’s clearly suboptimal, and kind of a one-trick build, mechanically speaking. And it’s not even that great of a trick!

For this build, we’ll go with level 5. Why level 5? Because that’s what level we were in the Moathouse adventure I played at PAX.


Wisdom is ostensibly a useful stat for Wizards. For example, look at the control wizard’s at-wills: both Thunderwave and Cloud of Daggers use Wisdom. The control wizard’s Orb of Imposition feature also uses Wisdom.

Unfortunately, that’s about it! More so than most classes, hardly any wizard attack powers rely on secondary or tertiary stats. That said, since anyone can get an 18 in a stat, this does mean you only need one other related stat to make a viable wizard build.

So let’s do it.

Stats & Class

Our stat block starts off like this: Int 17, Wis 15, Str 13, Con 10. We’ll boost Int and Wis by 1 each at level 4 so after racial bonuses we have Int 18, Wis 18, Str 13, and Con 12.

Get Orb of Imposition, Cloud of Daggers, and Thunderwave. For the level 1 encounter power, Ray of Enfeeblement, Chill Strike, and Icy Terrain are all eminently reasonable choices. Once you see this guy’s defenses, Burning Hands might not seem like such a bad idea, either.

Sleep and Acid Arrow for our dailies (they both have saves, you see). Consider Flaming Sphere purely for fun.

Get Shield and Expeditious Retreat at level 2. At level 3, pick Icy Rays. Consider Fire Shroud also; it’s an encounter power with a save ends effect, which you can of course penalize if you wish.

At level 5, get Web and Bigby’s Icy Grasp.


Let’s sink a couple of our feats into Leather and Light Shield proficiency. Burning Blizzard isn’t a bad choice for our last feat, but I’m compelled to embrace the offbeat nature of this build. Hide Proficiency will let this guy wear Barkskin Armor on top of the +1 AC, so Hide Proficiency it is.


For magic items, we get a level 4, level 5, and level 6 item. Amulet of Protection +2 is an amazingly good level 6 item. We’ll take a loss on our level 4 item and take the Orb of Inevitable Continuance (level 3). Finally, our level 5 slot goes to Barkskin Armor +1.

We probably have a bunch of gold left over. Consider spending money on a wand for a daily use of a level 1 encounter power or for some potions of healing.


This guy has +7 to attack, pushing enemies 4 squares or doing a 4 damage Reaping Strike at range. If he uses orb of imposition to penalize saves, that’s -4, which is kind of scary.

We have AC 21, which becomes 23 when we activate barkskin armor. This is on par with a sword and board fighter of our level. Our other defenses are Reflex 19, Fortitude 15, and Will 20.

In terms of a rough character sketch, this is another against-the-grain kind of character. His armor proficiency suggests that despite his unorthodox choice of profession, he wouldn’t forgo basic protection. Still, as a scholar among dwarves, he is slightly out of place. I could see him multiclassing into cleric eventually, or perhaps earlier, acting almost as a community or spiritual leader with an arcane bent.

Or an elf!

In case you didn’t notice, you could just as easily accomplish this build with an elf. The fact that this guy’s a dwarf means he doesn’t get much benefit from not wearing any armor, whereas an elf could reap the benefits of Speed 7 and the ability to re-roll an attack once per encounter. All told, that’s probably a better choice if you’re trying to be, er, less suboptimal.

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