Gimmick Builds – 4 – Quick Hits – Local Peaks

Gimmick builds are usually about optimizing characters in certain ways. The builds I’m writing about here are going to be about optimizing certain aspects of characters. They’re going to be pretty simple and emphasize one specific trait.

The first build I’m writing about here is going to be one I’m actually playing. It’s a build to optimize initiative. There aren’t a lot of things in 5e which manipulate initiative. In Adventurer’s League, there are a few items which raise initiative. There are both Rings and Cloaks of Protection, as well as Staves of Withering, all of which give +2 to initiative. There are also Whips and Tridents of Warning. Outside of that, most characters are simply at the mercy of their dexterity for their initiative modifier. A few of the only exceptions I know of are the rogue archetype Swashbuckler, which gives you a bonus to initiative equal to your charisma modifier, the Jack of All Trades feature of bards, and the Alert feat. Fortunately, these work pretty well with each other.

The minimum level to get all of these is level 5, with 3 levels of rogue and 2 levels of bard. At level 5, assuming 16 DEX and 16 CHA, you’d have +12 initiative. At level 20, with 20 DEX and 20 CHA, you’d have a total of +18. Assuming all AL-legal items, that would put you at +24 to initiative. Chances are, you’re going first.

The next build is even simpler. It’s a build that emphasizes maximizing hit points. Most hit points are purely based on hit die and constitution, but there are a couple of ways that this can be manipulated slightly. The most obvious method is the feat Toughness, which simply gives you 2 HP for every level. The second one is the hill dwarf subrace, which gives you an additional 1 HP per level. As far as the hit dice themselves, you would maximize it by becoming a barbarian, which is the sole owner of the d12 hit die. In addition, at level 20, the barbarian gets +4 to STR and CON, for a total possible 24, increasing HP by another 2 points per level over any other class.

Since this build is fairly pure, it is achievable as early as level 4. However, due to how hill dwarves’ stat bonuses work out, the true peak of the build happens around level 12 or level 20. At level 4, you’d have 57 HP. At level 12, you’d have 185 HP. At level 20, you’d top off at 345 HP, not even mentioning that this 345 HP is effectively 690 since the character would likely be a Bear Totem barbarian, giving you resistance to almost all damage.

There are a couple more tricks, but they venture into a different territory I’m not exactly prepared to talk about at the moment. Just keep in mind that in theory, Heavy Armor Mastery could potentially shave off a couple of points.

The next build is a little more involved, and that revolves around a DEX-based paladin. Now, the one thing to keep in mind is that a DEX-based paladin is normally unable to multiclass. So in order to multiclass, a version of this character would have to do something special, such as acquire Gauntlets of Ogre Power. The reason why the paladin has to be DEX-based is that the point of the build in question is to be a different kind of tank to the dwarf barbarian. It would be a character with high save values and high AC.

The most important part of the character, and probably the one aspect that takes the most interesting route, is the stat array. You’d start with an array of 8, 15, 13, 8, 12, 15 as a variant human. You put +1 into DEX and CHA, as well as taking the feat Resilient – CON, putting you at 8, 16, 14, 8, 12, 16, but giving you +3 to DEX saves, +4 to CON saves and +3 to WIS saves, all at level 1. DEX, CON and WIS being the most important saves. As DEX would be your primary stat, you’d put your points into it at higher levels, leaving your saves at +5 DEX, +5 CON and +4 WIS baseline at level 8, just based on stat increases. However, that’s not all. As a paladin, at level 6, you begin to add your CHA to saves. That gives you an additional +3 to all saves at level 8, and you’d end up with +8 DEX, +8 CON, +7 WIS. Starting at level 17, assuming you put the rest of your points into CHA, you end up with +10 DEX, +11 CON, +10 WIS. In addition, if you choose to be an Oath of the Ancients paladin, you can give yourself and your party resistance to damage from spells.

The other half of this equation is the AC. Without magic items, for this build, the highest possible achievable AC would be 20. With studded leather, +5 from DEX, +2 from the shield and +1 from the Defense fighting style. In AL, there are a variety of increasing that number a little higher. The Wall of Teeth gives an additional +2 on top of the shield’s bonus, and is not an attuned item. +1 studded leather can be traded for with a rare item and is also unattuned. There are also a variety of attuned items which provide AC, such as the Ioun Stone of Protection, Cloaks and Rings of Protection, the Glasstaff, Staves of Power. Some of those are able to be attuned by a character with this build, though some are not.

A truly tricked out character would have at least 1 level of sorcerer, using Gauntlets of Ogre Power to qualify to multiclass out of paladin, then have the Wall of Teeth as well as +1 studded leather, then have the Ring of Protection and Staff of Power as remaining attuned items. That would give the character +11 DEX, +12 CON, +11 WIS, 26 AC and access to the Shield spell. Barring a no-save situation, bad luck or one of the few save spells outside of those main save attributes, that’s one hell of a wall.

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