A different kind of Gish - the Dwarven Theologian


Advice


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Afternoon, all :)

I'm getting involved in a Way of the Wicked campaign and I've been toying around with a new build - he's been a lot of fun thus far so I figured what the hell, I'll share. Feel free to comment, critique or ignore at your peril...

*ahem*

...at your discretion. Sorry.

At any rate, I give you The Mad Dwarf:

The concept has been posted before (we have a couple of our group members on these boards), a Dwarven Miner who devled too deeply and was captured by an Aboleth and his minions. Years of random and pointless torture followed as the Dearf was subjugated by the abomination and subjected to maddening visions of the stars he had never seen. He managed to escape, fleeing as fast and as far as he could, eventually emerging onto the surface for the first time... and finding himself staring up at an endless sea of stars. It broke his mind and ever since he's been a herald, a prophecy of doom for the Old Ones. The character can be played in a good or evil party as I consider him ultimately a neutral nihilist who clings to hope.

At low levels Martials obviously have the advantage in longevity and usefulness, so we start out with two levels of Wild Rager - suffice to say this guy isn't a tank, but two attacks per round at 2nd level with a two-handed weapon ain't nothing to sneeze at. While it might technically be suboptimal, I have him using a Dorn-Dergar for flavor purposes with the head of the weapon actually being a chunk of skymetal or meteorite, allowing it to serve as his holy symbol as well. After that its straight Theologian to maximize what I consider to be one of the strongest buffs/debuffs in the game - Visions of Madness, via the Madness Domain. The Dwarven favored class option allows him almost unlimited use of this ability as he progresses.

Another solid choice for Clerical archetype but one that would play a bit differently would be an Evangelist, also taking the Madness Archetype, his rants and mutterings serving as the 'Performance' as he drives his allies to almost reckless advantage. At any rate, its the Madness Domain that makes this class work. He can floor a foe's saves and attacks with a touch, then follow it up with a Quickened Blindness or Hold Person, he can radiate a miasma of confusion that disrupts a sea of foes or he can just go berserk with that big heavy ball n' chain.

Dwarven 2nd level Wild Rager / 18th level Theologian (Madness Domain)
Dwarven favored class option for Clerics, Craftsman, Deep Warrior, Minesight

Attributes: (20 point buy)
STR - 16
DEX - 12
CON - 16 (+2 racial modifier included)
INT - 12
WIS - 16 (+2 racial modifier included, +1 at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th & 20th)
CHA - 7 (-2 racial modifier included)

Traits:
Berserker of the Society (+3 rounds of Rage)
Glory of Old (+1 saves vs. spells, spell-like abilities & poison)

Feats:
1st - Power Attack
2nd - [Rage Power: Reckless Abandon]
3rd - Furious Focus
5th - Spell Focus: Necromancy
7th - Greater Spell Focus: Necromancy
9th - Spell Penetration
11th - Quicken Spell
13th - Greater Spell Penetration
15th - Extra Channel
17th - Extra Channel
19th - Extra Channel

Skills:
Profession: Miner* - 1/1st level
Knowledge: Dungeoneering* - 1/2nd level
Survival * - 1/level
Perception* - 1/level
Sense Motive* - 1/level

Most times the character will be best suited to casting first, letting someone else take the alpha, shaping the battlefield or locking down a key foe and then stepping in to mop up with some big hits. He'll have some very high ranks in some useful skills, will be a solid spell caster and should be a lot of fun to play. I'm not 100% sold on those Extra Channel feats taken in the later levels, but I wasn't sure exactly what to do with them...

I'm a big fan of 'not quite optimized' characters who have interesting backgrounds and a lot of versatility, so I'm really enjoying this guy and just thought I'd put him out there.

Sczarni

Pretty cool! I like that archetype. Have you thought about what spells you'll want to apply your Domain Secrets to?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

What is his god?


Cthulhu?


blackbloodtroll wrote:
What is his god?

Technically its Azathoth but he doesn't really worship him - or even know his name - so much as he fears and prophecies the coming of the Old Ones as glimpsed in his visions and fears/accepts the eventual destruction of all at their hands. Like I said - he's mad. Which can be played up as evil or as good depending on the moment and circumstance.

Ever wanted to play someone who was really nuts? Prone to muttering quietly or openly ranting, taking horrific things in stride and going off the handle over trifles? There's a reason why his Charisma is so low. I've decided to make him lucid when he's drunk and I try to get him drunk often, so its not always an excercise in disruption.


Trinite wrote:
Pretty cool! I like that archetype. Have you thought about what spells you'll want to apply your Domain Secrets to?

I'm actually kicking that around as we speak. To be honest, I'm not thrilled with the options available. Price you pay for having such awesome granted powers...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

What about the Insanity Subdomain?

The Insane Focus ability basically negates the drawback of Wild Rager.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

What about the Insanity Subdomain?

The Insane Focus ability basically negates the drawback of Wild Rager.

That's not a concern. With such a low Charisma (it should say 5) the save is actually a cakewalk, and if once in a blue moon he fails it on a 1 or something, well that just makes the character that much more fun. Meanwhile, really the entire purpose/inspiration for this build is the potency and versatility of Visions of Madness which is what I would have to give up. The Wild Rager is just a bit of martial fluff for him to vent his aggression (and overcome the 20' movement speed).

Its not just the power's ability to floor attacks and saving throws (which is damned potent), but also the ability to boost saving throws, skill checks or attack rolls in allies for multiple rounds. I literally never run out of uses for it and it just gets more powerful as you level up.


Why the necromancy focus? Most of madness's spells are enchantment. And being a Theologian, and being that madness has hilarious SoS spells you might as well switch them out.

As for the Theologian metamagic stuff here are my thoughts:

5: Disruptive Touch of Idiocy
10: Focused Confusion
15: Bouncing Insanity
20: Focused Weird

I am not convinced about wild rager. You have a lot of spellcasting stuff. More than that you have lots of very good spells to cast. I'd say instead of making him a damage dealer you focus on bad touching people with this build. MAybe you should consider levels of monk instead? Deliver visions of madness through your wild flailing, use crusaders flurry to flurry or take monastic legacy to continue growing your unarmed damage. Could be a neat concept. And there are plenty of lawful madness gods you can choose as a patron. Lamashtu is a fairly common one.

This can also solve the problem on what to do with your feats.

It also keeps you in theme without crippling you.

Scarab Sages

Ummm... Lamashtu is not lawful. Monk is not a bad idea, but Martial Artist is the way to go with this background.

There are some Lawful and Neutral Madness Domains as shown in this list, but I really like the Azathoth cultist angle.


TarkXT wrote:

Why the necromancy focus? Most of madness's spells are enchantment. And being a Theologian, and being that madness has hilarious SoS spells you might as well switch them out.

As for the Theologian metamagic stuff here are my thoughts:

5: Disruptive Touch of Idiocy
10: Focused Confusion
15: Bouncing Insanity
20: Focused Weird

I am not convinced about wild rager. You have a lot of spellcasting stuff. More than that you have lots of very good spells to cast. I'd say instead of making him a damage dealer you focus on bad touching people with this build. MAybe you should consider levels of monk instead? Deliver visions of madness through your wild flailing, use crusaders flurry to flurry or take monastic legacy to continue growing your unarmed damage. Could be a neat concept. And there are plenty of lawful madness gods you can choose as a patron. Lamashtu is a fairly common one.

This can also solve the problem on what to do with your feats.

It also keeps you in theme without crippling you.

I think those are some good suggestions - if I were to stick with a dip, not all of those metamagic options will be available to me.

There are a lot of great Necromancy spells and to be honest, I was kind of just giving up on using most of the domain spells, but you do make the point that if I'm going to be getting them anyway might as well make the best use of them I can. What I'd love is a 'Void' Domain that combined those great Madness Domain powers with Void-appropriate spells like Blindness/Deafness and Suffocate.

The thing about the Barbarian dip is this: I never design builds for the end-game, but rather to be played from 1st level on. I feel like it would really take a while to develop into a fully contributing member of the party following the paths you've laid out - but with a two-level dip in Rager, I can make an immediate and significant impact in the early game without sacrificing too much as a full caster (Ultimately CL 18 instead of 20).

Also, in the insterest of full disclosure, in our game we've got some fundamental house-rules that I had to convert this build from for public consumption, most notably we've done away with Spell Resistance, giving creatures with Spell Resistance a flat +4 save bonus vs. Spells and Spell-like Abilities. Those two slots used to contain the Spell Focus feats for Enchantment as well.

I'll think about your suggestions though - a two-level dip into MOMS could net Me Crane or Snake - but I'll still miss out on those big SMASHES that I've so enjoyed. Wild Rager + a Raging Weapon makes for an incredibly potent melee threat early on, one that remains legit throughout the entirety of the character's evolution.


Imbicatus wrote:

Ummm... Lamashtu is not lawful. Monk is not a bad idea, but Martial Artist is the way to go with this background.

There are some Lawful and Neutral Madness Domains as shown in this list, but I really like the Azathoth cultist angle.

My fault I thought she was.

The issue with martial artist is no still mind, no crusaders flurry, no flailing wildly wiht deities favored weapon while screaming the scream of the damned.

But that's just my thinking. :)

Scarab Sages

Crusader's flurry only requires Flurry of Blows, Channel Energy, and Weapon Focus in the weapon, and Azathoth's favored weapon is warhammer, which is appropriate for a dwarf.

But mechanically, Barb is a better dip for a chaotic cleric.


Imbicatus wrote:


But mechanically, Barb is a better dip for a chaotic cleric.

Not till you explain your nonsense it aint.


It's also true about crusaders flurry, which I mistook for monastic legacy.

Grand Lodge

Use the variant channeling. Harm for confusion! Also, while wild rager does add a lot, I feel you're missing out a lot not going full caster. Then again, it fits thematically with your backstory.


Kiinyan wrote:
Use the variant channeling. Harm for confusion! Also, while wild rager does add a lot, I feel you're missing out a lot not going full caster. Then again, it fits thematically with your backstory.

Thought about that - then I saw that the saves were CHA? based and this guy's (very deliberate) 5 Charisma just wasn't going to cut it. The character does get his own confusion aura though from the Madness Domain.

I think a full caster can dip two levels without losing a great deal of effectiveness, especially once you consider what is gained. Just my opinion.

Grand Lodge

Martial, Martial, Martial! wrote:
Kiinyan wrote:
Use the variant channeling. Harm for confusion! Also, while wild rager does add a lot, I feel you're missing out a lot not going full caster. Then again, it fits thematically with your backstory.

Thought about that - then I saw that the saves were CHA? based and this guy's (very deliberate) 5 Charisma just wasn't going to cut it. The character does get his own confusion aura though from the Madness Domain.

I think a full caster can dip two levels without losing a great deal of effectiveness, especially once you consider what is gained. Just my opinion.

Oh yea, it's save based and the low charisma... Do you mind if I steal this to make a similar-ish cleric focused on negatively channeling chaos?

Grand Lodge

[spoiler="My" Stolen Chaos Channeler]
Aasimar Cleric 12 (for PFS) Madness channeling negative with the madness variant
Stats:
Str 10
Dex 12
Con 12
Int 7 (my version of the insanity drain... plus I needed the points)
Wis 16+2=18 (I would drop this lower but I don't expect I can depend solely on channel so I'll probably need some SoSes to land)
Cha 16+2=18

Traits: Exalted of the Society
Reactionary

Feats:
1:Selective Channel
3: Improved Channel
5: Alignment channel (eeeeeviiillll)
7: Quick Channel
9: should I spell focus for SoS? And should it be necro or enchant? I should I go for sacred summons?
11: More Spell focus SoS

Should I buy a phylas terry of negative. Channeling? Granted its only an extra d6 half the time. Actually, it's pretty obvious is hold get a cha/wis headband. [/spoiler]

I noticed you can probably grab the trait Magical Knack to make up lost caster levels to boost your SoSes.

Scarab Sages

TarkXT wrote:
Imbicatus wrote:


But mechanically, Barb is a better dip for a chaotic cleric.

Not till you explain your nonsense it aint.

Wild Rager simply gives more for a two level dip than martial artist does. You get Fast Movement, more HP, and a Flurry Equivalent in Wild Fighting. Uncontrollable Rage fits the role playing concept too. Since Martial Artist changes nothing from Monk for levels one and two, you get flurry, unarmed damage, and Evasion, and that's all that's worth noting. The low dex means AC will be tanked if you want to use flurry since you can't flurry in armor, and Crusader's Flurry means your would pretty much have to. If you were going to go four or five levels, Martial Artist is more attractive, but for these stats and this background with a two level dip, Barbarian is a better fit.


Imbicatus wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
Imbicatus wrote:


But mechanically, Barb is a better dip for a chaotic cleric.

Not till you explain your nonsense it aint.
Wild Rager simply gives more for a two level dip than martial artist does. You get Fast Movement, more HP, and a Flurry Equivalent in Wild Fighting. Uncontrollable Rage fits the role playing concept too. Since Martial Artist changes nothing from Monk for levels one and two, you get flurry, unarmed damage, and Evasion, and that's all that's worth noting. The low dex means AC will be tanked if you want to use flurry since you can't flurry in armor, and Crusader's Flurry means your would pretty much have to. If you were going to go four or five levels, Martial Artist is more attractive, but for these stats and this background with a two level dip, Barbarian is a better fit.

Think about it like this - at 2nd level, before ever pursuing his cleric levels:

Attack: +5/+5
+2[BAB] +3[STR] +2[Rage] +1[Reckless] -2[Wild] -1[PA]
Damage: 1d10+10
1d10[Weapon] +4[STR] +3[Rage] +3[PA]

At 5th level with three levels of Cleric under his belt and a +1 Raging Weapon, it'll look like this:

Attack: +11/+9
+4[BAB] +3[STR] +2[Rage] +1[Reckless] -2[Wild] -0/-2[PA] +3[Raging Weapon]
Damage: 1d10+16
1d10[Weapon] +4[STR] +3[Rage] +6[PA] +3[Raging Weapon]

Sure the AC will be crap, but the point of this character in melee is as a finisher - what he hits shouldn't get back up. He'll only have 12 rounds of Rage, but considering that the first round or two of combat he will often be casting or using an ability, that should be plenty for 2-3 fights a day.


Kiinyan wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

I noticed you can probably grab the trait Magical Knack to make up lost caster levels to boost your SoSes.

I never think of Magical Knack for Divine Casters but you're right - probably a better choice than Glory of Old.


At the same time you aren't able to cast while raging. That to me feels far more crippling than a loss of caster levels.

And keep in mind that one of the reasons monk becomes attractive is because we want a high wisdom anyway for our spell dc's. So we'll actually have a fairly decent armor class as well. We're not even discussing getting better saves. Imbicatus failed to mention the two bonus feats you get which, again, can easily fit within the theme. Throw Anything? Catch offguard? Are these not the tools of a mad dwarf who bludgeons foes to death with tables in the name of his amorphous lord? And than there's stunning fist which can also serve as a vehicle to drop Visions of madness or nasty touch spells through.

Consider this as food for thought. You've just cast Bestow Curse. You hold the charge, then stunning fist and deliver the spell while using Domain Strike to use Visions of madness. If we assume this is level 7 (the earlieest you can cast bestow curse on your build) all of the following just happened in one punch: he took damage, he took a -3 penalty to attack rolls and saving throws, and he now has to save versus being stunned, and save because he's being cursed. If he fails either of those saves that's pretty much GG for that bad guy.

As far as effectiveness goes I think that's somewhat relative to your definition of effective. In my mind a dwarf monk with combat reflexes and a longspear who headbutts things that get too close are already pretty effective at first level.

Anyway I think the build can function either way, don't get me wrong. But I dislike the notion of makign a detrimental dip that doesn't benefit the long game to overpower the short.

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