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Weekly Optimization Showcase V - Gnowhere Gnome



Questo è uno degli esempi di build 20 livelli (ce ne sono un altro paio fra le varie build, fra cui uno con il Paladino... Let's the HYPE rise!!!) che riescono ad essere tremendamente efficaci comunque.

A little man who wasn't there

Required Books: PHB2, Races of Stone, Lords of Madness, Complete Adventurer, Complete Mage, Tome of Battle, Spell Compendium, Magic Item Compendium.
Unearthed Arcana used: None!



RT played a single-classed kenku beguiler in a game a while back, capitalizing on beguiler stealth and misdirection when combined with natural kenku psychology and mimicry. The Gnowhere Gnome (yes, the silent G does make it deadlier) is a natural revision of that build – the sneakiest bastard that you’ll gnever find.

The Basics:


Race: Whisper Gnome. Everyone’s favorite elusive little bugger, they’re hard to beat in this area. If you don’t have access to whisper gnomes, any race with decent stealth synergy (goblin, strongheart / ghostwise Halfling, kenku, etc) would be a passable substitute.

Ability Scores: 6 / 16 / 12 / 16 / 10 / 10, after racial modifiers. Intelligence and Dexterity are both quite important; put your 4th and 8th level stat increases into Intelligence, and after that figure out what your gear is likely to provide and pump accordingly.

Skill GNotes: 


It goes without saying that you’re investing in Hide and Move Silently. Also max out the rest of the trapscout skills (Disable Device, Listen, Search, and Spot), as well as Concentration and Bluff. Plan yourself more as a scout than a caster on the skill front – you gneed 12 Spellcraft and a reasonable Concentration for your feats, but should be fine elsewhere. You should max out Use Magic Device, but not at first; you only need 12 ranks in Spellcraft, and by then your level-based stat increases should give you more skill points, so ignore UMD from levels 1-7 and then boost it more later on. If you can spare the skill points, look into some skill tricks in the mid-to-late levels; False Theurgy, Timely Misdirect, Group Fake-Out, and Swift Concentration come to mind.

Basic Equipment: 


Masterwork stealth gear (i.e. your gnome gninja outfit) is a good place to start. A light or heavy crossbow is a good fallback weapon to conserve early slots. You will need to have a melee threatened area later on; any basic weapon will work (dagger for style and preference, but a gauntlet works too – as does any magic staff or rod you’re packing at that point).

Magical Gear Goals: 


Your mundane and caster gear selection is pretty straightforward. I like the Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis here (it gives you a set of particularly nice stealth abilities that combine well with beguiler illusions – the real sell his Hide in Plain Sight, though, and you can get that through one of your Advanced Learnings), and you can save yourself a feat at the late game with the MIC’s Serpent Armor (preferably enhanced with Greater Shadow and Silent Moves). For reasons which will be discussed below, a Circlet of Persuasion is a better buy for you than for most beguilers. Similarly, you might want to pack a runestaff with Greater Dispel Magic on it – shockingly, it’s not on the beguiler list, but it’s highly desirable to have a dispeller who can’t be located, and it gives you some help against Mind Blanks and True Seers.

The Build.

Build Stub: Beguiler 20


1 – Beguiler – (Armored Mage, Trapfinding) (Darkstalker)


Do not underestimate the power of this feat. Although it’s online a little early here, it can make all the difference against most anti-stealth measures people will take.

2 – Beguiler – (Cloaked Casting (DC +1), Surprise Casting)

3 – Beguiler – (Advanced Learning: Shock and Awe) (Improved Diversion)


Shock and Awe is an amazing spell from the Spell Compendium, but it’s normally pretty limited in when it can be employed – surprise rounds only. It’s a great fit for sneaky beguilers like yourself – cast it on whoever will raise the alarm or who can make or break an upcoming fight. Improved Diversion can keep you hidden while you cast – it speeds up your ability to create diversions to the point where you can cast spells and shout “look behind you, a three-headed monkey!” in the same round. You’re unfortunately limited to a 5’ step in hiding, but with Darkstalker and the right use of Silent Image, that will do.

4 – Beguiler – 


Fog Cloud and Invisibility start to compete with Silent Image for providing a hiding place in combat. Bump Int at this level.

5 – Beguiler – (Silent Spell)


This feat will become much more useful later, but it’s good to have a way to mask your vocal components.

6 – Beguiler – (Surprise Casting (move action)) (Mobile Spellcasting)


This feat allows you to move and cast a spell as a single standard action. Improved Diversion and the Beguiler’s Surprise Casting allow you to bluff to feint or create a diversion as a move action. You can, in a single round, vanish from the sight any foe without the Sense Motive or Spot to match your Bluff and Hide checks; casting a Fog Cloud or Invisibility and moving is hard to counter when you’ve got Darkstalker.

7 – Beguiler – (Advanced Learning: Phantasmal Strangler)


This is a lovely save-or-up-yours that grapples for an extended period of time against foes who fail their save. Action advantage and denial of Dex? Hell yes!

8 – Beguiler – (Cloaked Casting (Spell Penetration +2))


Improved Invisibility appears, allowing you to be more aggressive. Boost your Int score again and start putting ranks into UMD. Freedom of Movement also appears, protecting you from sticky situations.

9 – Beguiler – (Rapid Metamagic)


And now using Silent Spell no longer costs you bigger actions, freeing you up to move or Bluff.

10 – Beguiler – (Still Spell)


Not quite as handy as Silent Spell, but hey, when you need to cast a Still Freedom of Movement, you’ll appreciate it.

11 – Beguiler – (Advanced Learning: Nightmare Terrain)


A magnificent spell; it entangles enemies and lets you hide while observed in its effect. Probably hands down the best spell in your arsenal for when you gneed to both make life difficult for your enemies and disappear GNOW.

12 – Beguiler – (Spectral Skirmisher)


This PHB2 feat gives you two benefits while invisible. One, enemies take a -5 penalty to Listen checks to locate you. Two, you can make an Attack of Opportunity against any foe who attacks the square you occupy (though it tells them where you are and removes any miss chance). The first benefit is useful now; the second not quite yet.

13 – Beguiler – 

14 – Beguiler – (Cloaked Casting (DC +2))


In addition to that nice little DC boost, two things are worth gnoting. First, you gain access to Project Image at this level, which is just unfair in a beguiler’s hands. See how Project Image combines with other illusions. You can create more decoys by casting Greater Mirror Image through your projected image, change its appearance with Disguise Self and make the enemies believe there’s a traitor in their ranks, or just enjoy another invisible point of origin for your spells by casting Greater Invisibility on it. Second, if you’ve been boosting UMD since level 8, by this point you should have a fairly good amount of ranks in there (especially since we haven’t had to spend skill points on Spellcraft for five levels). Get a Circlet of Persuasion and a few useful wands to deal with enemies that are immune to mind-affecting effects.

15 – Beguiler – (Advanced Learning: Simulacrum) (Evasive Reflexes)


Evasive Reflexes allows us to take a non-provoking 5’ step in place of an AoO. Remember that second benefit to Spectral Skirmisher? Yes, that's right; they attack the square you’re in, and you’re suddenly gnot in it anymore. This is the level by which Serpent Armor becomes very handy, but only wear it if you can get that enchanted with Greater Shadow and Silent Moves enhancements; the primary function of armor for us is to boost our Hide and Move Silently checks. Also take any enhancement that would remove ACP. We don’t care about our Armor Class; a guy who can’t be targeted doesn’t gneed to worry about being hit. Alternatively, with your UMD you can use an Eternal Wand of Heroics to supply yourself with Combat Reflexes, and forget the Serpent Armor.
As a second point, Simulacrum can cause… problems if the DM isn’t prepared. Not only can it produce decoys or body doubles (including duplicates of yourself – see everything up there with Project Image? Now double it and shave off a few levels from the double), it can also duplicate NPCs. Expect a clever player to be able to do great things with this spell.

16 – Beguiler – 


You acquire Moment of Prescience at this level. If you’ve got a Ring of Evasion, this is the spell that will save your bacon when they stop trying to look for you and start blasting the area with explosive magic.

17 – Beguiler

18 – Beguiler – (Combat Reflexes OR Extraordinary Concentration)


Combat Reflexes is the last piece of your “gnever touch me” engine. With it, you can use Evasive Reflexes more than once per round, allowing you to dodge multiple attempts to attack your square. If your GM allows you to get Serpent Armor modified with the appropriate enhancements, or if you have an Eternal Wand of Heroics, then you do not need to take Combat Reflexes. In such a case, take the Extraordinary Concentration feat from Complete Adventurer. This lets you concentrate on a spell (like Scintillating Pattern or Major Image) as a move action. Remember Mobile Spellcasting? You can move, cast, and concentrate all in the same round, and that doesn’t even affect your swift action.

19 – Beguiler – (Advanced Learning: Shades)


Excuse me while I add about half of the Conjuration school to my beguiler spell list.

20 – Beguiler – (Cloaked Casting (SR Breach))





Let’s toss on the +6 items on Constitution, Dexterity, and Intelligence, and assume you pumped Intelligence all the way (i.e. all five pumps into Int, along with a +5 tome, as opposed to amping up Dexterity) – the long game version. We also discussed, above, that your ‘ideal’ armor is probably Serpent Armor (mechanically +1 leather) with Greater Shadow and Greater Silent Moves, and a Circlet of Persuasion. (While this does give the Gnowhere Gnome a bit more equipment than usual for snapshots, I group these particular on the “+skills” heading that I usually use when discussing skillmonkeys, although they are a touch pricier. No one blinked when we gave +Concentration items to Diamond Mind specialists - same thing here).

This finishes off with 152 HP, +10 base attack (or ray +16), and saves of 10/12/12, with a spell save DC of 21+spell level (+2 if you catch ‘em off-guard, which is, er, likely) – rather good for a baseline without further gear or buffs on a spellcaster, albiet slightly skimpy on straight-up HP. Skillwise you’re looking at 228 total skill points and no changes in skill list from 1-20: this is plenty to max out Concentration, Hide, Move Silently, Bluff, Disable Device, Search, Spot, Listen, and Use Magic Device, with points left over to hit Spellcraft 12 (required for your feats). This approach leaves you with 9 skill points left, which you can use to pick up four skill tricks; our recommendation is Timely Misdirection, Clarity of Vision, Swift Concentration and any other one that seems useful to you (i.e. Listen to This).

Taking a step back, let’s look at those skill bonuses. Adding in the gear above, synergy, and racial modifiers, you’re looking at trapscout skills of +34/+34 and sense skills of +25/+25, along with a Bluff of +28 and a Use Magic Device of +30. Those are very good. But the real victor here? Stealth. Hide is +52, Move Silently is +48, and you’ve got the full suite of Beguiler misdirections (Project Image, Simulacrum, and assorted Invisibility tricks), plus Darkstalker (+Hide in Plain Sight from Nightmare Terrain or equipment), Shadow Striker + Evasive Reflexes (+Serpent Armor's Combat Reflexes), and Mobile Spellcasting (+Rapid Metamagic +Silent Spell + Still Spell).

Let me put it in perspective. On the left, you have your common ninja. On the right, you have the Gnowhere Gnome.


Fig. 1a) Ninja                                                                                Fig. 1b) Gnowhere Gnome

Any questions?

Overall Strengths: 


You’re gnot exactly an easy guy to pin down. Able to hide from just about anything, including a direct target, and able to do so in the middle of combat in an open plain should you so desire, the Gnowhere Gnome is basically a paragon of what the beguiler can be. It’s also simple enough to fly at any table – and with his skill list, he’d have no problem being welcome at many tables either. Stick him in your stealth/scout roles and watch him shine (…or, okay, gnot see him shine – let’s be honest here); later on his magic grows to the point where he can even play at being a wizard, particularly with Shades or runestaff fun.

Overall Weaknesses:


What do your opponents do when they fight someone who can’t be pinned down? That’s right, they nuke the site from orbit bring on the area effects. Your Reflex and Fortitude saves are your natural weak points as a result – they’re all that stand between you and a very painful Fire Storm or Cloudkill. Look into Rings of Evasion, or the much cheaper (but less spammable) Diamond Mind rings linked to the appropriate counter, and don’t be afraid to use that Moment of Prescience effect to stay alive. There’s also the usual issues with beguilers in specific or illusionists/enchanters in general, gnamely, the host of things immune to your spells. You’re better equipped than most to handle that (Use Magic Device), but this can get costly really quick. (Thankfully, you’re Beguiler 20, so SR usually isn’t a factor.)



As a Beguiler 20, the points of variation here largely fall on feats and Advanced Learning choices. Your feats largely fall in two categories (deceptive spellcasting and stealth/misdirection), and there’s no direct synergy between them that depends on these particular sets of feats (they work well together, but they don’t depend on each other), you can rotate them around as you see fit. The only potential problem is that with so (relatively) few degrees of freedom, the further you deviate, the more likely it is to run into another beguiler 20 build.

There you have it. I think, quite possibly, that the Gnowhere Gnome is the iconic Beguiler. Go ahead, tell us how you’d beat this.

…And gno apologies from us on the random silent G. It’s required, ye’see.


Bene, siamo alla conclusione di un altra build. Tutte queste G mute sono a quanto pare inevitabili, perciò gnon mi sono opposto al loro utilizzo sfrenato. In ogni caso, decisamente invisibile il ragazzo non è vero?


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