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So, what builds are y'all sporting these days?

Discussion in 'Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition' started by chevalier, Apr 28, 2020.

  1. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Hi. Yesterday, I was looking for build suggestions for EE, and this old classic thread came up:

    https://sorcerers.net/community/threads/interesting-fun-builds.12993/

    I had a lot of fun rereading it.

    So what are you all playing these days?

    I'm inclined toward finally living out the experience of Plain Joe Fighter, given the multitude of interesting and actually quite flavourful customizations you can do and the versatility you can achieve within the broad fighter role by learning a variety of combat modes. So paladins and rangers have their spells and spell-like abilities, clerics can buff-melee if they want to, and you — as a fighter — can cover Expertise tanking, high-damage Power Attacks, chain-killing Great Cleave and improved criticals… all at the same time. There is beauty in all this, and I guess also rarity, given how few people are probably going ever to stick with the vanilla versions of the most basic classes, which ironically means those are going to be vastly underexplored.

    Ironically also, Fighter and CoT bonus feats result not only in the possibility of qualifying for martial prestige classes quite quickly and without making too many sacrifices or spreading yourself too thin but also allow you to spare a feat or two for background feats (some of which, like Courteous Magocracy, are special background feats selectable only on level 1 and some, like Thug, are reputation feats selectable at any point in the game), where gaining +2 to 2 skills is not only interesting in terms of flavour but also opens some interesting practical options.

    And of course you can throw in one or two strategically placed Rogue, Ranger or Monk levels to gain access to certain skills (after hoarding some points to go from 0 to max instantly, e.g. with Tumble, for the AC).

    At a very minimum, I think I'm going to spend some time trying out the various Fighter(10/15/20) possibilities in a trainer module just to see what you can end up with.

    However, given the length of the break — almost 14 years — I think I'll resist the lure of the Fighter's feat wealth and start with a refresher course in vanilla Paladin and only move on to other builds later on.

    For example, starting a high-level module as Fighter(7)/WeaponMaster(7) probably gives a more enjoyable experience than the getting there, anyway. Will see.

    So, anyway, what you are folks playing as these days?
     
  2. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    Haven't played NWN in a long time. Most recently played NWN 2 as a favored soul based build, but that class is not in NWN.

    For NWN, sure, Fighter / CoT / WM is a pretty easy build to make. Lots of feats for fighter and CoT make the requirements for WM pretty easy to reach. Paladin might be easier to build for, but would probably do less damage on the whole. Haven't really made that many paladin builds myself, though, it seems a bit harder to come up with a good build for that.
     
  3. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    I'm a bit bored by those high-smiting CHA-based builds. Sure, I always start at 14-10-10-14-14 with a paladin and only raise charisma ever after (with the rare exception of those multiclassed paladin builds where I need 16 INT for skills), but I like to have a bunch of all-round feats and a solid spell repertoire rather than just high saves and a lot of Divine Might/Smites.

    So on the one hand I'm intrigued by vanilla paladins again, on the other hand since I intended to try playing as a fighter I might as well take the middle route and go CoT with its plenty of feats. Paladin(min)/Fighter(4)/CoT(rest) perhaps. Alternatively, since I consider WS to be way overrated as a reward for sacrificing the benefits of four levels in a different class, perhaps Paladin/CoT/HS. Or even something with Rogue or Ranger.

    One interesting angle with Paladin levels below 4 is that you can ditch Wisdom and recover some points for other stats. However:

    • you still need BAB 7 to qualify for CoT, which means it's either paladin or some other base class
    • Divine Might, Divine Shield and Extra Turning need to be taken on a paladin level, and you need level 3 in Paladin to even have Turn Undead, meaning you need at least 4 levels if you want both Might and Shield, and at least 5 if you also want Extra Turning — spaced apart so that you take a Paladin level on a general feat level, which is better for premade high-level characters than actually levelling up while playing :/ In this case Fighter of course makes some sense, since the gapfill levels between Paladin and CoT will at least count toward enabling you to take WS (though there are probably better feats to take)

    I have a hard time deciding whether extra feats and the option to ditch Wisdom are worth sacrificing Paladin spells (combined with high CL, meaning e.g. Bull's Strength or Eagle's Splendour will last quite some hours, e.g. 12 on level 12, so they are essentially persistent effects), but I guess there's only one way of finding out.

    But if I'm going to spend time trying out CoT and Fighter levels on a paladin, I might as well treat myself to the Fighter's ease of acquiring EWP+WF+WS+IC and later Overwhelming Crits, Devcrit and Epic WF & WS while still having the luxury of picking up IKD, Toughness, perhaps Expertise, Focuses for important skills (combined with other feats enhancing the same skill, e.g. to end up with skyhigh values for class skills) and so on.

    Character builder/trainer for me, I guess. Time for some lab testing. ;)
     
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  4. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    Yeah, making a build in NWN is usually something I require a sheet to plan it out, and then a character builder to test it out to see if I made any mistakes on the sheet.

    WS is weapon specialization? It's pretty decent, I guess, but mostly if you already wanted to add fighter levels anyway. The choice would otherwise indeed be between that and some other (prestige) class. Or if you're going for weapon master.

    I did once do a Pal / CoT / HS, which was pretty interesting. Not really sure HS is really worth it, but getting tumble is quite nice, I suppose.

    I once tried one of those paladin builds with max divine might, but it really was a one-trick pony. Getting max damage on a few hits, then back to rest to recover your abilities. I stopped with that one as soon as I realised that it was indeed a one-trick pony, and made another build, instead.

    What I also remember being fun was a Monk x / Fighter 10 / WM 7, using kamas. Bit of a tricky build, because there really aren't many good kamas, so you really need something like the upgrading in HotU to make it work. Even then, damage per hit is pretty low, but when you're hitting with 10 hits per round, stuff tends to die really, really fast, regardless.
     
  5. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    People tend to want WS, but I wonder how often that's based not really on practical usefulness but more on some sort of roleplaying value attached to specializing in a weapon.

    By contrast, my way has often been to skip weapon-related feats on a paladin character at all, except perhaps Improved Crits. Well, +2 to dmg multiplied by the crit multiplier is good to have, but the benefits of 4 more paladin levels are far greater. The same applies to CoT, I think.

    I played paladin/HS once or twice, perhaps even in the Daggerford module from Ossian in NWN1, and well, it has its uses, though the costs are quite prohibitive, so it's mostly for roleplaying value or for the sake of trying something different. One good thing for a paladin is that HS spell-like abilities stack with proper paladin spells of the same name. If you skip paladin spells, those Harper abilities can serve as partial replacements. And you get Persuade and Tumble. The latter two would be great for a Fighter/CoT but making a CoT without any paladin levels would be a waste.

    As for high-CHA builds, well, if you have a lot of Turn Undead attempts, then you have plenty of Divine Might and Divine Shield, so you do a lot of damage and your AC is good. However, I'm glad people still do STR-based paladins.

    One intriguing idea about multiclassed monks is Zen Archery, but huge WIS on a non-caster seems like a waste.
     
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  6. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Update: Playing Siege of Shadowdale (completed) and Crimson Tides of Tethyr (hard to assess how far I'm through, but I've done almost all there is to do in the city). In CToT I've had the pleasure of fighting alongside a pure fighter. A troll with superhuman STR and CON, and one level higher than my own character, granted, but highly illuminating.

    I see all the things a fighter can do with essentially two things:

    1. High BAB from greater focus possible on STR due to not being 'MAD' (multi-attribute-dependent).
    2. Multitude of feats given.

    The most spectacular of these wonders is the ability to still hit things while using Power Attack with a two-handed weapon, which also means 1.5 STR modifier to damage IIRC. And of course Weapon Specialization gets multiplied on critcs, and you can also take Improved Crits Easily, and of course Weapon Focus helps you hit. Likewise, if you're finding yourself hit too often, you're still going to keep hitting things with Expertise. You still have enough feats to pick up Knockdown and Improved Knockdown, and of course even at -4 to hit you'll still trip people (and things) over. You can also play around with gimmicky things like Improved Power Attack + Improved Crits to punch through damage reductions in a way nobody else can. You can also tank with Improved Expertise. And you can have all these things on your feat list without overextending yourself (although specializing more narrowly tends to be better), while you also pick up Cleave and perhaps Great Cleave for crowd management, so you don't have to go to sleep after every 50 yards through a dungeon. And if saves are a problem, there's always CoT — you just lose access to some specific feats, the most notable of which is Weapon Specialization, which is worth losing for all the gains of the class that don't even make use of CHA, so you can still have it at 8. Smite Evil will beat WS for your most important foes anyway.

    So now I'm more and more desirous to play if not a proper fighter (I really have to, one day!), then at least a paladin/CoT, without bothering with paladin spellcasting but with all the goodies of a combat machine.
     
  7. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    So, I have this paladin I've taken through SoS, CToT and ultimately the Tyrants of the Moonsea premium module — and one more module is expected in the series, so I'll be shelving the character after Moonsea rather than playing other mods.

    Right now it's a 14-10-10-14-14-19 paladin (with +10 to STR, +6 to CHA and +5 to INT from items, also considering +4 WIS), with WF: longsword, which means he qualifies for CoT.

    However, the story now also has him working directly with Harpers and sporting his own pin. He's not an official member but effectively, functionally a Harper for the time being, justifying the taking of the Harper Scout class on the roleplaying front.

    I have three options:

    1) vanilla epic paladin, which I've never actually done before;
    2) paladin/CoT, taking CoT at level 20, so as to have a bonus-feat level on level 21 and grab two epic feats and thereafter pick up an epic feat every two CoT levels and of course get the Sacred Defence bonuses to saves
    3) paladin/CoT/Harper Scout, selecting Alertness and Iron Will at levels 18 (already have the XP to level up) and 21; instead of the Favoured Enemy or Curse Song on levels 1 and 5 you can take Great Charisma at epic levels, which is basically 2 bonus epic feats for 5 levels in the class, which is almost the same as CoT's 1 bonus epic feat every 2 levels, except you can't take Great Charisma as CoT (only Great Wisdom — probably a bug), which means HS helps you get 25 CHA and Great Smiting faster

    Problems:

    1) Investing so much in Great Smiting makes you a one-trick pony, although the trick is powerful indeed and, after all, is what paladins (and CoTs) are made for, so it's roleplaying really. You don't make paladins for fighting against true neutral or Chaotic Good opponents, you only fight those on an exceptional basis, with the odd TN creature summoned by an evil caster.
    2) The CoT route eventually has you picking up Epic Toughness time after time, as the pool of bonus feats is small if you don't have 13 DEX for the Dodge-Whirlwind chain or the 23 STR for the Devcrit chain, etc. You can always take Expertise and Improved Power attack, but AC and damage is something you can regulate through the choice of your gear and buffs. However, you can pick up Cleave and Great Cleave, which finally become useful due to the high damage output for a short number of rounds resulting from paladin buffs. This would actually have roleplaying value more than anything else, because the character himself doesn't depend much on the ability to mow through mobs quickly, but this unquestionably makes you better at saving and preserving your low-HP low-AC allies.
    3) While HS gets to Great Smiting faster, it's worse on saves — even despite the Iron Will required along the way.
    4) And Alertness is kinda useless unless you decide to invest in Spot as a HS and/or CoT, which is a class skill. I already have Blind Fight, and I usually travel with a rogue, but I guess Spot is far from being a waste, given the amount of Sneak Attack damage rogue types can amass by epic levels.
    5) Harper Cat's Grace is a free +1 to AC and Ref save. Harper Eagle's Splendour stacks with the paladin spell of the same name(!) and other bonuses. Sleep could be useful for when you don't want to kill our enemies, which is often the case when toppling evil rulers. Bonus vs traps can sometimes be useful. Bonus to ID-ing items doesn't seem to be necessary any more with +4 INT bonus, maxed Lore and +5 Lore ring for such occasions. But I guess Bardic Knowledge pops up in conversations from time to time.

    I have no information about the expected setting of Alazander's fourth module, though one can expect it to involve the Malaugrym to keep popping up and perhaps Harpers, though that's not sure. Also not sure about the undead, which would be about the only reason to stay vanilla as paladin, for the sake of Turn Undead used for its real purpose for once as opposed to DM/DS. ;) Caster level is also nice, of course, as in buffs lasting from rest to rest and being essentially undispellable (from level 25 or so).

    So what do you think?

    Right now, I think I'll fetch a trainer module and just see what a vanilla pally would look like. After all, all epic feats I really feel strongly about are Epic Reputation and Epic Weapon Focus, while Epic Prowess (+1 to attacks) and Armor Skin (+2 natural AC) and Epic Toughness (+20 HP) are nice but not essential and stat augments are most a point of vanity (2 feat slots in exchange for +1 to stat bonus is very step). I can have Reputation and EWF at level 21 as a vanilla pally and still pick up a couple of the rest later on.
     
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  8. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    Yeah, the smiting feats are the thing to do for a palladin, but it's rather limited use. As you say, a one-trick pony, and that's what I don't like about those palladin builds. A palladin / CoT would give a bit different options, though not very much. Just a bit more feats, but, as you said, the feat pool is pretty limited for CoT. I don't feel HS adds much to the build either, more of a role play thing, if your pally is like that.

    I can't really give much advice here, I find palladins in NWN a bit boring. BG2 they were amazing, not so much in NWN. The best use of palladin I had, was in a sorcerer X / Pal 1 / Monk 1. Powergamey, but at least I felt the CHA was better used on a sorcerer, really.

    I guess my advice would be to go with whatever you think is fun to (role)play.
     
  9. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Yeah, that's the problem. I don't really know what would be the most fun to play here really, it's just meh. I could certainly just go ahead and stay vanilla without giving much thought to stats and such like, basically 'action RPG'.

    Each of the solutions could be justified:

    1. Paladin (vanilla): Staying on the path. Not genuinely feeling Torm-y enough to go CoT, not really having a favourite particular Faerun deity so as to pretend that 'Champion of Torm' stands for 'Champion of Insert_Here', more of a 'this is just what I happen to be'; not irreligious by any means but quite possibly not knowing where exactly the spells are coming from.

    2. CoT: The 'Champion' part is pretty much evident for any paladin anyway, and especially for an adventurer of overblown stature who rose quickly. For an errant pally with no church background Torm is as good as anybody.

    3. Harper Scout: If you have a Harper Pin in your inventory, then what else would you need.

    Still haven't checked epic vanilla in the trainer.
     
  10. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    I guess what I don't really like about palladins in NWN (or 3e), is that to maximise on their special abilities, you need to go all in with CHA. But that makes them relatively weak melee fighters, which is not what I feel palladins should be, I suppose. Also, going all in with CHA tailors them to be one trick ponies, with massive damage when using smite, and being decidedly meh when not using smite.
     
  11. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    I guess so. I kind of liked them more before Divine Might and Divine Shield were introduced. At that time sure, saves and Smite Evil AB depended a lot on CHA, but that wasn't enough to force more than 14–16, except for serious roleplaying reasons. So you bumped STR like all other melee types.

    Some people still take the DevCrit route, which requires them to bump STR considerably — say, +5 from non-epic increases, perhaps +6 by level 24 with perhaps one or two Great Strength feats, so you basically end up with DevCrit around level 27 or 28. By this time you probably have some sort of Cloak of the Nymph +6 plus Eagle's, so you might even actually have and use DM, if not DS. It might be refreshing to play such a paladin.

    Realistically speaking, permanent +2 to damage from 4 additional STR points is far superior to the ability to add +2 to damage for 2 rounds from 4 additional CHA points. STR bonus doesn't help your saves, but it helps your AB, so you hit more often and get more opportunity to actually do damage. You're just slightly less resistant to spells, poisons and the like. But you don't need so much resistance to such things when you can two-hand the caster with Power Attack turned on, perhaps after dispelling his stoneskin. Knockdown also works. So does Smite Evil, if you hit, and STR is just as good as making Smite Evil hit as CHA bonus is, because the throw still includes your STR bonus.

    All in all, in principle I agree with you that the CHA trend for paladins is kinda retarded. Perhaps people massively overplay its subjective importance due to the 'look, I have a cool personality and am special, special!, divine even, maybe' aspect of CHA, being the socially withdrawn and starved nerds that we, gamers tend to be.

    My pally is lucky enough to have +10 STR from items and a further 1d4+1 from Bull's, which is pretty much overkill, but this of course doesn't give him access to Overwhelming Crits and DevCrit. Still makes him a good melee fighter, at least.
     
  12. henkie

    henkie Hammertime Resourceful Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!)

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    I suppose high STR makes a palladin a better fighter, but a fighter makes an even better fighter. And in NWN, typically, the better saves and such don't really seem to matter that much. So what makes palladins stand out from fighters or barbarians, is the CHA based things. It seems natural to boost CHA for a palladin.

    Whenever I try to think of a build for a palladin in NWN, I tend to end up with just making something fighter based, because that seems more efficient. Unless you go CHA for the palladin, but then that makes them worse general fighters. Eh.

    I'm not sure devastating critical is really worth it very much, I'd only really choose it if my build is specced for high STR anyway, and most of the times it woul be a WM, and would be specced for maxing anything critical.
     
  13. damedog Gems: 15/31
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    I started up NWN after a long hiatus, seeing that some of the most popular module series were still being updated.

    I often use the fighting styles in Alternate Combat Animations, and the style called "Demon Blade" looks good on certain monks. So I rolled up a monk 1/Druid X with a dual wielded pair of sai and called it a day.

    Shapeshifting is actually useful in NWN, since you can achieve a higher BaB and 30 strength with bear form fairly easily at low levels, and flurry of blows works in many forms.

    In NWN2 shapeshifting is even better, since you can become nearly untouchable in the elemental forms.
     
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