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D&D 3E
1st Level Optimization Challenge - Buster, The Useless Wizard 
2nd-Feb-2007 08:06 am
Bitch Please - peanuts
We are, at some point, going to have a character optimization tournament. 1st level toons, almost anything goes. I present to you my entry: Buster, The Useless Wizard (Formerly Buster, The Human Commoner)

Str 8
Dex 12 (4 points)
Con 14 (6 points)
Int 12 (4 points)
wis 8
Cha 18 (16 points)

HD 1d4+2; hp 6;
AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 10

1st level feat: Mercantile Background (+300 gp; Buy/Sell Item at 75% 1/month)
Human Bonus Feat: Least Mark of Handling (Speak with Animals 1/day)

Weapon: Quarterstaff (free) -1 melee (1d6-1)

Handle Animal 2 ranks (+6 Bonus)
The Rest Don't Matter

Possessions: Tower Shield (30 gp), Guard Dogs (See below)

The Setup:
A wizard's spellbook is considered to contain all 0-level spells and 3+int modifer 1st level spells. In this case, Buster would have all 0-level spells and 4 1st level spells.

Per the rules, you can sell a spellbook for half the cost of scribing said spellbook, or 50 gp per page (75 gp per page with mercantile background, 0 and 1-level spells take up 1 page each). The cost of a guard dog is 25 gp. Therefore, for each spell a wizard knows at first level, he stands to gain 3 guard dogs. In the case of PHB-only spells (19 0-level spells), after Buster has purchased 12 Guard Dogs with his 300 gp from mercantile background, he will stand to gain 69 additional guard dogs for a total of 81 Guard Dogs in total after he sells his spellbook.

When adding in supplements to this equation, Buster gets 3 more guard dogs for every 0-level spell available to a wizard I can find. Currently I have found:
4 in the Book of Vile Darkness
9 in Spell Compedium
1 in Complete Arcane
1 in Magic of Faerun that isn't covered elsewhere

So 15 non-core 0-level spells, for 45 additional guard dogs, bringing the grand total so far up to 126.

After adding in wizard starting gold instead of commoner no money, Buster will also purchase a tower shield to provide total cover. He will weild it clumsily, incuring the ACP on attack rolls (which he won't be making) and a ASF of 50% (he won't be casting spells), but be effectively out of sight while the guard dogs attack.

Non Combat 1st Round: Equip Tower Shield for Total Cover. Activate Least Mark of Handling.
Combat 1st Round: Tell Guard Dogs to eat opponent.
Remainder of Combat: Hilarity ensues.

If you know any other 3.5 book with 0-level spells for a wizard, please let me know ;)
2nd-Feb-2007 02:18 pm (UTC)
I just snorted.
2nd-Feb-2007 03:17 pm (UTC) - You assume too much...
My pet peeve for referring to a character as a "toon" outside of an MMORPG aside...

This is not an optimization. This is a either munchkinism or a waste of a character sheet.

The big thing is here is you're getting gobs of cash from God knows where. How you can justify getting 75 gp per page from a book that costs 15 gp for 100 pages is beyond me. These aren't scrolls -- just pieces of paper with some incantations, notes, coffee stains, etc.

I won't even get into the difficulty of handling and caring for twelve guard dogs, let alone the 81 you propose...

Also, using the Mark of Handling sounds like a standard action, which would be your first round since readying a tower shield for total cover would also be a standard action (I could be wrong in this.)

My response with a first level wizard/sorceror

Round 1: Climb a tree while Buster gets the shield ready, because there's no way Buster's gonna surprise anybody.
Round 2: Nail Buster with a Magic Missile as the shield doesn't provide him cover against targeted spells.
Round 3: Repeat until Buster flees or is otherwise incapacitated.
2nd-Feb-2007 03:19 pm (UTC) - Re: You assume too much...
What if there's no tree?

Just playing devil's advocate. If anyone in my game ever tried to play a guard-dog fiend, I'd take away their dice, but I find it rather amusing anyway.
2nd-Feb-2007 03:45 pm (UTC) - Re: You assume too much...
No tree? No high ground? Expeditious retreat I now outpace the dogs and can still Magic Missile Buster. At this point I might as well make him a Sorcerer.

Still, he's not gonna have the 81 guard dogs, because with that large a pack there's gonna be some pecking, and it sure as hell ain't gonna be a DC 10 to give the attack command.
(Deleted comment)
2nd-Feb-2007 03:48 pm (UTC)
He's not going to have 126 of them because his means of getting the money is flawed. In addition, that lesser Mark is only a once/day Speak with Animals and doesn't confer any sense of loyalty.

The fact that he's caring for at least 12 dogs is probably going to preclude adventuring in the first place.
(Deleted comment)
2nd-Feb-2007 04:21 pm (UTC) - Good point...
But I'm either gonna be in my tree or retreating like crazy with the hopes of finding a druid or building. Besides, if the above plan worked (assuming no Obscuring Mist) he's dead anyway, so I at least have the satisfaction of taking him with me. :D
2nd-Feb-2007 03:41 pm (UTC) - Re: You assume too much...
This isn't a real D&D game we are playing here. It is an optimization tournament, meaning making the most stupidly powerful character you can and fighting it against the other stupidly powerful characters to see who will win. You know, for fun. I don't have to worry about food/caring for the dogs, because all that matters in this case is the combat I'm actually involved in. The character is never used for anythign else.

As for the money, it's pretty clearly spelled out. The 15g wizard's spellbook in the PHB is for a blank spellbook. The cost of scribing a spell into a book is 100gp per page. The rules in the PHB state that you can sell a spellbook for half the cost of this scribe (I can look up the exact page for you if you really want), or 50 gp per page. Mercantile Background bumps this up to 75 gp per page.

As for your comment, you're right, it is munchkinism. But that was the whole point to begin with.

As for your counter, I can always just not get one of the dogs and buy a couple scrolls of Obscuring Mist to prevent being targeted :-p
2nd-Feb-2007 03:56 pm (UTC) - Re: You assume too much...
Okay if it's silly munchkism for the sake of silliness, I can be cool wit' that. :)

"The cost of scribing a spell into a book is 100gp per page."

There's the flaw in your logic.

First of all, your wizard already has those spells inscribed in the book. But even so, spending the money to scribe a spell into a book does not confer any extra monetary value. (Personally I think that's a bogus rule and I house rule it out, but for sake of arguement we'll go by the book here.) A Wizard's spell book is a non-magical item. If you're going through someone else's grimoire, it requires either a Read Magic or a Spellcraft check to read it.

Yes, you can sell the spellbook for half price: 7 gp, 5 sp. Unless of course you can point to something in the rules that raises the value, that's what it's worth (aforementioned coffe stains and all).
2nd-Feb-2007 05:08 pm (UTC) - Re: You assume too much...
Page 179 of the PHB is where I'm getting my figures, under selling a spellbook.
2nd-Feb-2007 05:28 pm (UTC) - Re: You assume too much...
2nd-Feb-2007 05:43 pm (UTC) - Re: You assume too much...
I do hereby stand corrected. Wow, that's a rule I must have glossed over Idon'tknowhow many times.

Still, I don't envy Buster for the mess in his yard that he has to clean every single day...
2nd-Feb-2007 03:17 pm (UTC)
There are no words to describe the awesomeness.
2nd-Feb-2007 11:54 pm (UTC)
That. Is. Awesome.
3rd-Feb-2007 12:04 am (UTC)
I put to you that you can only handle a single animal as a move action. Thus in a single round you could get two of your guard dogs to attack.

And yes, it will require a Handle Animal check, because (trained or not) dogs are not going to attack a man armed with a sword on their own. You'd have a have a pretty lenient DM to say that they don't run away when kicked.

But if you have such a DM... okay then. But by the rules, you can't just "tell them to attack." It will require something else. A Diplomacy check, probably.
3rd-Feb-2007 04:20 am (UTC)
By the wording on handle animal, I can ask them to do a favor for me. Since these are my guard dogs, IE trained and cared for by me, it is plausible they would be friendly towards me, and would carry out a simple request like attack.

But also, there isn't a DM persay in this challege, more like an officiator.
3rd-Feb-2007 09:38 pm (UTC)
Er, attacking people is what guards dogs do. That it why they are guard dogs. Speak with animals probably isn't needed, but it certainly seals the targets fate.
4th-Feb-2007 08:23 am (UTC)
Funny concept and amusing idea for a one-shot fight. I'm confused over some things though.

It's assumed from what you've said that the dogs are trained individually, but can it be assumed that these dogs are trained to work in such a large group? Is this just a let-go-of-the-leash-and-sick-him sort of thing? (ie: they will be running over each other to get to their target?) or is this a pack of dogs that moves like a squadron of jets in formation? Are the dogs going to start biting at each other if another dog gets in their way?

How much space does an individual dog take up? I can only imagine that 126 (or whatever #)dogs takes up a large amount of room. What's the farthest distance that you are going to have to shout to a dog at the fringe end of the pack?

Are guard dogs naturally trained to not bark or something? (I don't know the details on guard dogs in D&D.) If not, unless you can order the guard dogs to be quiet, I can only imagine that 126 dogs barking would make it not only difficult to give a single order to all of them, but it would be almost deafening. Only the nearest dogs would hear your orders.

In summary, I guess my biggest concern is are you going to be able to give the order to all the dogs in the limited time span of the "Speak w/Animals" spell from the feat you took?
4th-Feb-2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
I'm fairly certain that one of the DMGs (or perhaps PHB2) mentions that even if you have additional supplements, you only get as many cantrips as are in the current edition of the PHB, selectable from all available supplements. Maybe? No?
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