rilem
10-29-05, 12:22 AM
There are a lot of reasons to be irritated with the Complete Warrior Samurai. I think catharz once noted that it’s possibly the only class less flexible than the Soulknife: You fight with two weapons and frighten people. That’s it.

What’s worse, the class isn’t even that good at the things it’s supposed to be good at. On the intimidation side, the mechanic just sucks before level 14. And when fighting, the Samurai has no mechanism for gaining bonus damage. The TWF ability only works with a specific two weapons — one of which doesn’t qualify for Power Attack, so the OTWF + Power Attack trick doesn’t even work.

And despite being included in the same book as a bunch of TWF Combat Style feats, there is no such Combat Style feat for Bastard Sword + Short Sword.

Multiclassing is an obvious solution, but this is complicated by the Samurai’s slow TWF advancement compared to the ranger and reliance on Heavy Armor (which reduces the utility of Rogue/Samurai builds, which already seem sketchy). Pal4 or Cleric1 for Divine Might is an option that I’ve used several times, but a lot of people reject the idea of a Divine Casting Samurai.

The incarnum rules, however, provide another avenue for bonus damage that seems to fit flavor-wise with the Samurai and improves their Intimidation as well.

LN Human CWSamurai14/Incarnate6
BAB: 17
Saves: 14/7/10
Essentia Pool: 6 + 2 from feat = 8

Feats: TWF/ITWF (daisho only)*, Quick Draw*, Improved Initiative*, Improved Buckler Defense, Flay Foe, Fearsome and Fearless, Dreadful Wrath, Bonus Essentia, Shape Soulmeld (Fearsome Mask), Dual Strike, Power Attack

Soulmelds (4 + 1)
Bluesteel Bracers -- Insight bonus to damage/essentia
Crystal Helm (Crown) — Bonus vs. Charm, Deflection to AC/Essentia, Melee attacks gain [force] descriptor
Cerulean Sandals (feet) – Water Walk, D-door, Speed boost/essentia
Incarnate Avatar — +1 to hit per essentia
Fearsome Mask – +2 Insight bonus to Intimidate + (+2/essentia)

Essentia:
Bracers: 5
Cobalt Power: 1
Incarnate Avatar: 2
Fearsome Mask: 1


So 6 attacks with +5 damage per hit, with no to-hit penalty. If you power attack for –2, that’s +8 damage on four attacks and +5 on two of them, at standard TWF penalties.

(You could get a seventh attack with Sam16/Incarnate4 if you drop the bonus to +6; I haven't done the math on this).

That’s less potential than a tricked-out TWF sneak-attacker or a Half-Orc Paragon Paladin with Divine Might, of course, but this guy can do it all day, in every circumstance, in heavy armor, with more points to spend on Strength because he doesn’t need to worry about Dexterity. And it’s probably better than a Samurai could do using multiclassing while still taking enough Sam levels for the Improved Staredown ability.

It also builds on the Samurai’s Intimidation ability, able to get +10 to intimidate checks through Fearsome Mask, another +4 from Staredown and another +4 from Fearsome/Fearless (an OA feat). With a Cha of 14 and maxed out Intimidate, that's a +43 Intimidate modifier.

I’m still getting the hang of Incarnum, so I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. Any thoughts?

Blade2718
10-29-05, 02:39 AM
I very much like how you stuck to the base class and building its strengths. Not something you see every day unless you're talking about the CoD-Zilla, Artificers, or Archivists.

Isn't there a FR feat that forces everyone in an area to save vs. your Intimidate or something similar?

Tleilaxu_Ghola
10-29-05, 03:04 AM
Fear builds are interesting to me... What essentially this build needs is a way to get the fear effects to stick. If they last for more than a round or you can make multiple in one round then you can reap the benefit of stacking fear effects. shaken->frightened->panicked->cowering is the sequence I think, but they must build on eachother. Is there any way that multiple intimidation checks or fear effects may be pulled off in a round, without resorting to a fear spell? I don't know... but someone here might... and it's an idea thats been gnawing at me for a while.

Note that I'm in no way saying that this build is only for your intimidation check... that's just what popped out when I first looked at it. Solid build all around I'd say.

slimgoodbody
10-29-05, 07:03 AM
I seem to remember there being some fear feats in Libris Mortis.

rilem
10-29-05, 09:00 AM
Fear builds are interesting to me... What essentially this build needs is a way to get the fear effects to stick.


Dreadful Wrath (PGF), makes nearby enemies shaken for 1 minute when you full-attack or charge. DC 1/2 HD + Cha + 4 from Fearsome — overall a better mechanic than Intimidate, reallly. Libris Mortis (and Draconomicon) have similar feats, though not quite as good.

Blade, thanks — Yes, I was trying to get a Sam-heavy build; the class is an example of WotC's attempts to encourage people to take 10+ levels in a core class, I think. It just needs something extra to make its core abilities work.

SoulGamit
10-29-05, 09:51 AM
Isn't there a feat in draconomicon that gives you frightful precense? Might be something to look into.

Marcus Majarra
10-29-05, 01:58 PM
Unfortunately, there are a few things that don't work here:

1. A 6th-level incarnate can shape only 4 soulmelds. With the Shape Soulmeld (Fearsome Mask) feat, that increases to 5.

2. Your essentia pool is of 8. Not a lot to distribute between your various melds.

3. The Lucky Dice's luck bonus doesn't scale with essentia. Only its duration does.

My recommended changes would be:

1. Drop the Pauldrons of Heath. You need to get rid of a soulmeld anyway.

2. Replace the Lucky Dice with the Bloodwar Gauntlets. These provide a morale bonus on attack rolls equal to the number of essentia you invest. Binding them to your Hands chakra will make your critical hits worthwhile.

3. Rather than taking Fearsome Mask with your Shape Souldmeld feat, I would go with Brass Mane instead. It's a Totemist soulmeld that provides a +4 competence bonus on Intimidate checks that scales with essentia. Of course, if you plan on obtaining an item that grants competence bonuses to Intimidate, you can forget this.

rilem
10-29-05, 03:11 PM
Marcus: Good points, thanks; I misread the lucky dice explanation.

1. Essentia pool: Yes, it's just 8 (I'm thinking about perhaps grabbing either the Cobalt Power or Sapphire Smite feat, to boost it to 9). It's not a lot, but I'm not looking for much, just enough to make TWF viable.

2. Bloodwar Gauntlets: I did take them, until I realized they have the Evil Descriptor. So aren't they off-limits to a Samurai/Incarnate (Must be Lawful Neutral, unless I'm missing something)? Sucks, I know.

3. Brass Mane does look better than Fearsome Mask, but competence-boosting items are easier to get than Insight ones.

That takes our bonus damage down to 6 — 5 from Bluesteel Bracers (using the expanded soulmeld capacity, 1 from dice). Might be better to Take Incarnate Avatar (lawful) instead of the Dice and plow the extra bonus into power attack (which doesn't help the off-hand weapon, but might be worth it anyway).

There are ways around the Bloodwar Bracers issue — You could Switch to Neutral Evil, and you might be able to convince a DM that you could use the Shape Soulmeld feat to access the Bloodwar gauntlets (especially if you took the feat before taking Incarnate levels).

But one requires you to abandon the Samurai's Lawful code, the other requires a house rule. I'm trying to stay within the lines here.

Marcus Majarra
10-29-05, 05:20 PM
Good call on the Bloodwar Gauntlets alignment descriptor. I missed it.

As an alternative to concentrating on soulmelds, I would delve into Incarnum feats for abilities instead. Sapphire Smite isn't a bad idea, since essentia = more damage and more smites. Cobalt Power and Cobalt Expertise aren't bad either.

NilesB
10-29-05, 05:42 PM
With the Fearsome Mask, Open Lesser Chakra: Brow will Give you a gaze weapon that makes enemies shaken for a minute.

MerricB
10-30-05, 06:10 PM
Hmm.

Interesting. I like the Samurai quite a bit, and the Incarnate is just fun. I need to be at home to fully appreciate the build, but well done!

Cheers!

UMiskatonic
10-30-05, 10:41 PM
Exotic Weapon Master gets a intimidate ability, and samurai can easily qualify. Is it possible to get that to stack with the Samurai ability somehow? I leave the details to someone with more free time than myself.

Rowan_Whispercloak
11-14-05, 02:49 AM
If you can get a hold of a sunblade for your offhand then you might be able to use it with Power Attack. I'm not entirely sure on that one.

tsuyoshikentsu
11-14-05, 03:00 AM
If you can get a hold of a sunblade for your offhand then you might be able to use it with Power Attack. I'm not entirely sure on that one.

Is a Sunblade a wakizashi?

Rowan_Whispercloak
11-14-05, 03:04 AM
wakizashi uses short sword rules.
Sunblade can be used as either a bastard sword or short sword for purposes of rules. I think that means you can use it as a short sword (wakizash) for twf and a bastard sword for power attack.

Vaelan
11-14-05, 03:10 AM
Is a Sunblade a wakizashi?
It is a bastard sword that is as easy to use as a short sword. One would imagine that it would be, if it were from an oriental culture.

tsuyoshikentsu
11-14-05, 03:27 AM
Yeah, but it has to be masterwork, which all magic items are in the first place, forgive me, I'm tired.

Uhm... so it'd be like a katana that acts like a waizashi, in game terms?

rilem
11-14-05, 09:50 AM
wakizashi uses short sword rules.

This depends on books. Using OA rules, the Wakazashi does slashing, not piercing damage, which makes a difference in this build because the Flay Foe feat will apply to both weapons.

The Sun Blade idea is very interesting, but the rules seem a bit unclear on whether you can power attack with it. Since it's considered a short sword with "respect to weight" a DM might rule you can't power attack with it. Still a solid option, though.

rilem
11-28-05, 12:44 PM
Took another crack at it … noticed that the Incandescent Champion’s gets an untyped untyped damage-boosting melee ability and pretty fast-progression Essentia, which could mix with the Shape Soulmeld feat to ramp up bonus damage needed for TWF. And its other abilities either synergize with (or replace) the Samurai’s ability. Azurin is great for the bonus feat and essentia pool.

And with 11 levels in a core class and only 1 PrC, it’s a very simple build that’s easy to get past even strict Dms. And it’s almost Epic-ready.


Azurin Samurai11/IncandescentChampion9
BAB +17
Saves 10/6/9

Stats: 16/10/15/10/10/16
32 Point buy, 2 level-up points into str/cha, 1 point into Con.


Feats:
Feats: TWF/ITWF (daisho only)*, Quick Draw*, Improved Initiative*, Flay Foe, Fearsome and Fearless (OA), Bonus Essentia, Frightful Presence (dracon), Shape Soulmeld (Bluesteel Bracers), Soulsight, Dual Strike, one open feat
* Bonus Feat

Essentia: 11 (7 class + 3 feats + 1 Racial)
Investments: Incandescent Strike (4), BlueSteel bracers (4), Soulsight (1), Unbearable Countenance (2)

This gets six attacks with +8 damage per strike, along with +1d6 damage for each hit after the first. And he can boost that value to +11 per hit with Incarnum Overload 2/day (in most cases only +10, as the Soulsight value is fixed for the day.) And once he’s used his fear-inducing aura, he can shift at least 2 essentia points to trigger the Incandescent Aura for 2d6 damage to adjacent foes per round.

Again, probably less than a devoted TWF sneak-attacker or Dervish, but he does this in any situation, in any armor, without fatigue, against any foe.

It’s also still pretty scary. He loses the Improved Staredown ability, but the Champion’s Unbearable Countenance is a move action to activate (only one opponent though), DC 17-21, depending on Essentia. Frightful Prescence is free action with attack or charge, DC 27. And there’s the standard-action Mass Staredown for DC 30 (assumes a roll of 10).

He also gets an OK at-will ranged attack when he needs it, shifting points into Incarnum Ray for 4d8 damage (or 7d8 w/overload). If he’s injured, he can get Fast Healing 4 for himself (and allies!) for 9 rds./day.

He’s got one feat open (two if I dump Dual Strike), which I’m unsure about. Sapphire Smite would get me another Essentia Point, or I could Shape another Soulmeld (Brass Mane or Incarnate Avatar are a couple choices). Improved Essentia Capacity might apply to the Champion’s abilities, but I think it only applies to feats.

Other options include Nymph's Kiss (for Intimidate) or Ancestral Relic. Improved Buckler Defense is out, as I just remembered Samurai don’t get shield proficiency. And Dreadful Wrath could replace Fearsome/Fearless & Frightful Presence; I took F/F because its bonus applies to any fear effect.

One downside is it doesn't start ramping up Essentia 'til you get into Champion — take Shape Soulmeld, then Bonus Essentia ASAP, however, and you'll still have some bonus damage that way.

Khazra Reborn
11-28-05, 02:54 PM
If you were to use a platinum or gold Wakazashi couldn't you use it to PA? It goes up one size catergory IIRC so i think it should be doable. Gold & platinum weapons are in magic of faereun.

rilem
11-28-05, 03:06 PM
Interesting; that would certainly help, especially with the Cobalt Power Feat.

Assuming it's translatable to 3.5, I suppose you'd need two feats (EWP + OTWF) to make use of it, but there's feat room in both builds for this.

Incarum_lover
11-29-05, 12:38 AM
he could take a level in incanum blade prc

rilem
11-29-05, 10:01 AM
he could take a level in incanum blade prc

He could, and that would boost his BAB, but aside from that the Incarnum Blade doesn't bring much to the cause in one level. The Crown/Feet chakra binds are interesting, but the Hands bind gives an insight bonus to damage and so doesn't stack with Bluesteel Bracers.

Plus, you lose 1 point of Essentia and the Fast Healing (allies) ability. I don't see that as a good trade.

If I were to dip into a Full-BAB PrC instead of Champion9, it'd likely be something like:

- Knight of the Middle Circle for the +2 Insight bonus to Hit (offsets TWF)
- Annointed Knight (makes flavor sense and some of the abilities are nice)
- EWM (just because)

Incarum_lover
12-01-05, 05:14 PM
if you want a samurai who beefs up his katana alot a good build might be samurai5/incarnumblade5/kensai10