Well, Tholgrin is officially level 26 (woo-hoo!) while working towards his first Arcane sphere Epic Past Life. Of course, this generally means “level up all of your Destinies in that Sphere” so that you don’t have to do it later on.. which is what he’s doing.
Fatesinger, done. Not a terrible Arcane Destiny to be in for a melee stuck in Arcane, truth be told; Reign is quite giggle-worthy.
Draconic Incarnation, done. Again, not a terrible Destiny to be in (for the Arcane sphere), as there are a few fun tricks you can throw around – Energy Sheath, Dragon Breath, and Flyby Attack come to mind. After all, there are worse Destinies to be in…..
Oh… wait. Worse ones like the last one left in Arcane. Okay, well, here goes… let’s take a look at the sort of things available in Magister that provide some sort of benefit to… a greataxe-weilding paladin war-divine melee. Urk.
Or, let’s not. We could not. Not works better. Have you seen the stuff that’s available in, oh, pretty much any Destiny on the board that is not Magister? That would certainly do better.. but, alas, that won’t fill out my final Destiny, will it.. sigh. Okay, carry on (my wayward son). Time to find that elusive silver lining to ride for the next 1.98M XP…
The Magister Epic Destiny tree
Cores (or “Innate Abilities,” if you want to nitpick about it)
The core abilities in Magister, unlike pretty much every other Destiny on the board, are all effecitvely the same thing until you get to the end. Each core gives you +50 SP and +1 to Wizard, Sorcerer, Bard, and Artificer caster levels. For a divine, this means….. next to nothing. Granted, the total +250 SP is nice… ish?
The “capstone,” per-se, is Arcane Spellsurge, which provides a +5 to all spell DCs for the next 20 seconds. Sure, that’s nifty for spellthrower builds.. but there isn’t a single spell in the entire Paladin spellbook that actually has a DC. (Dispel Magic and Break Enchantment are both caster level checks, if you were wondering.) So that’s six full core abilities that can be boiled down to “some extra spell points on a class build that barely uses any, except to buff.” Hmm, finding this silver lining might be harder than I thought..
Let’s see… we have the Sigil of Spell Warding (up to 3 ranks), which puts a big, round, immobile circle on the floor for a minute. Think of Sigils as the bigger brother of Symbols. This one, in particular, doesn’t actually do.. well.. anything at all with regards to warding against spells. At max rank, it gives you +3 AC and +15 PRR while you’re inside the sigil… none of which will help you defend yourself from hostile spellthrowers. While the benefits are technically beneficial to a melee, the whole “immobile” thing kind of puts a damper on the party.
After that is Imperceptible Casting, for -95% spell threat for thirty seconds. For a class with exactly zero (0) offensive spells, whose job is to generate aggro, that’s.. yeah, that’s functionally useless. Next!
Unearthly Reactions, on the other hand, is actually pretty cool. Thus far, every toon that’s gone through Magister has put three points in it, and a few alts (who don’t have the full board unlocked) have Twisted it in for lack of better options. At rank 3, it lands you +3% Dodge and +6 Reflex saves, with the added benefit of being able to Tumble through enemies in a cloud of puffy bluish-white mist.. which is a great bonus perk for those times when you realize you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
Similarly, Impregnable Mind lands you up to +6 Concentration and +6 Will saves. As an added benefit, you no longer auto-fail Will saves on a roll of a 1.. which is effecively the same as the Epic Will feat that you can’t get until level 27 (I believe). On the other hand, Paladin saves are already through the roof; I’ll probably put some points here, just for the “no automatic failure” benefit. And it’s not like there are a whole lot of better-looking options on the bottom row..
And, of course, on the right hand side is always a stat boost. For Magister, the choice is Intelligence or Charisma (big surprise, there). Intelligence won’t do a dang thing for this particular stumpy, but Charisma is always a bonus for every pally. (After all, every two points in Charisma cranks your Lay on Hands up, adds +1 to all saves, and increases the number of Smite Evils and Turn Undead/Channel Divinity charges. Not inconsequential perks.) Seeing as how this is on every single tier, and doesn’t change, and I don’t feel like writing about it six different times, this will be the last time you see it.
Tier Two four points spent
After spending four points, I get the option to choose the Sigil of Lifeshielding! Yaaay! ……Or not. This particular sigil provides everybody in its borders with Death Ward… which you can cast on yourself as a pally that lasts far longer than a minute, he has Deathblock slotted for beholders anyway, and as a Knight of the Chalice, Thol has Sealed Life to prevent level drain. Oh, but it does 3d6 light damage every two seconds to undead in the area of effect, amplified by his non-existent Light spellpower. Please excuse me if I suddenly strangle myself with my own sarcasm at the enthusiasm I feel for this particular sigil.
Next up is Fade into the Weave, which triggers a Diplomacy effect to shed aggro off of yourself and turns you super-invisible for 20 seconds. I can definitely see the benefit for a rear-line toon – a caster or ranged fighter who accidentally pulls too much aggro who just goes poof! and returns the attention back to the front line. On the other hand, for one who is actually on the front line, whose job is to scream “hey! look at me!” the uses are.. minimal.
Spell School Specialist. Considering this is a requirement for a great deal of other options, and requires the Heroic Spell Focus feat for a given spell school – and of course every front line brute takes spell focus feats, duh – this isn’t even an option for Thol. Maybe I should go trade in Greater Two-Handed Fighting for Spell Focus: Divination.
Wait… what? That’s it? Those are my choices? Okay.. wow. That was awk.
Tier Three eight points spent
Oh, lookie! Another sigil! Because the first two were so useful.. let’s see how this one is. The Sigil of Energy Negation grants a stacking 60 points of fire, cold, electricity, and acid to those standing within it. Okay, aside from the whole “immobile” thing, that’s actually pretty not bad. I can’t talk a whole lot of trash on another sixty points of resistance.. but, at the same token, I can’t go giddy over it. After all, it is stuck in one spot, and that’s kind of a big deal.
Right next to that, however, is Variable Resistance. Every time you take elemental damage, it grants you up to three stacks of +10 resistance to that type for 3 minutes. Well.. heck. I totally missed this ability when I ran through Magister with Uncle Tubbs and a few other toons.. that’s actually worth putting some points in… after all, it’s not like I’m being bombarded with a plethora of great-sounding options (cough, cough, Fury, Sentinel, Dreadnaught, Crusader, cough, cough).
And then we have Piercing Spellcraft! Which requires a) having spells that actually have spell penetration checks, and b) actually having the Heroic feat Spell Penetration! The odds of both of those critera being met on a pure paladin are zero! Exclamation points! Next…..
Oh, wait, that’s blocked off because we don’t have Spell School Specialist from Tier Two. So… yeah. Next row.
Tier Four twelve points spent
Golly gee willikers! Another sigil! It’s like Christmas! The Sigil of Battering Spellcraft grants 45 stacking spellpower to allies within its radius. As it’s once again immobile (yay…..) and paladins are world-renowned for their offensive spellcraft, this one gets tossed back in the Useless Pile along with the first two sigils. Granted, one could make a case that I could use it to bolster other players in the party, but a large chunk of Thol’s playtime is solo. And the major spellthrowers that I would be playing with are a) a DC caster, and b) a Warlock who doesn’t need the crank. So… yeah, still meh.
Then we have Nullmagic Guard, which is a defensive burst with a 6% chance to fire off a mass Dispel Magic effect that leaves hostiles in the area of effect with -4 Spell Resistance for 30 seconds. Well, this one doesn’t sound that bad. I might throw some points in here, considering half the Destiny is already blocked off.
Speaking of being locked out, the next two enhancements (Call Kindred Being and Spell School Familiarity) are just that! Isn’t that just lovely? Yeah, I thought so, too.
Tier Five sixteen points spent
Oh my COW!! Finally, a tier that doesn’t start with a sigil! That makes me happy. (It’s the simple things.. –Ed.) The first ability on Tier Five is Nullmagic Strike, which gives a 15% chance for your melee attacks (and offensive spells and ranged attacks, but, blah blah blah) to proc a Dispel Magic ability much like the Nullmagic Guard. Hunh. So you can have it proc when you get hit and when you hit someone. Kind of makes it seem…. less impressive. About the only part I was interested in either was the “can’t cast spells” part. Of course, an axe to the face settles that problem nicely, too.
Grand Summoner is next up.. which looks like a better version of Augment Summoning that works only on summons. Summons which Thol can’t cast, except via clicky, and the ones he could cast would probably last exactly four point eight seconds. Tossing that one in the Useless Pile… next!!
Oh, wait, there is no next, because Master of Spell School is locked out. Yay?
Tier Six twenty points spent
Up in the corner is Arcane Tempest, which is an area of effect spell that deals 2d6 force damage per caster level every 2 seconds for 8 seconds… which is a long way of saying “four times.” Apparently it has a Reflex save.. which, considering Tholgrin is a) not a caster, b) has poor Force spellpower, and c) his offensive DC is probably dog doo, makes this less than impressive. Oh, and it also requires that I get the Sigil of Battering Suckcraft, to boot… While it might be a wicked ability on an actual caster, there’s not a whole lot of attraction to this particular paladin.
There’s also the Nullmagic Aura Epic Moment, which requires thirty charges of Nullmagic Guard procs or Nullmagic Strike procs, and makes yourself and nearby allies immune to hostile spells for twenty seconds. Hmm.. that might be worth a pair of points, if only as a novelty benefit.
The final non-stat-boost option is Arcane Adept, which gives you a -10% savings on your spell point expenditures. Because paladins are always running out of spell points… I think I’ll pass on that one.
So… those are all the options. Time to weed out the discards and prioritize the ones that are left.. after all, I want to actually get some benefit from the Destiny. If you’re curious what I did with Uncle Tubbs during his run through, I finally got so fed up with the Destiny that I put three points in Unearthly Reactions. Yeah, that’s it. It still says 21 points remaining to spend on it to this day, because, pissy. On the other hand, Thol might actually benefit from some of the stuff…
I have to spend at least four points in Tier One in order to unlock Tier Two. Of course, that’s not a limit, so I’m going to go with five, for Unearthly Reactions rank 3 (3 points) and Charisma Level 1 (2 points)
And there’s pretty much nothing I want in Tier Two, so we’ll just slap on another point of Charisma (2 points) for a grand total of seven points. Of course, that leaves me shy for unlocking Tier 3… and there’s really nothing else on Tier 2 I want.. so let’s invest a point in Impregnable Mind (1 point) which we may come back to later.
8 down, 16 to go, and let’s start with Tier 3. I do like the idea of that Variable Resistance (3 points), so let’s slap that on the roster, and… wow. Okay. Nothing left. I could put some more points in Impregnable Mind, but Charisma would serve me better (every two points of Charisma on a paladin has a pretty hefty gain which totally overpowers just a +1 Will save), so let’s grab Charisma Level 3 (2 points) as well.
Now we waltz into Tier Four with eleven points to go and three to spend to unlock the next tier. Aaandd… okay. Wow. Not a damn thing. Might as well get another point of Charisma (2 points) in level 4 and toss another point into Impregnable Mind (1 more point) for an even sixteen spent.
Well, this works out nicely. I kind of wanted that Nullmagic Strike (1 point), but have enough left over to finish off Impregnable Mind (1 point) to get the “no-fail on a 1” business and score yet another point of Charisma (2 points) to unlock the final tier.
Hmm, yep. Okay, so it’s just Nullmagic Aura (2 points) and the last Charisma (2 points) slot.
So it might seem a little anticlimactic, and it is. But there are some benefits… sort of. Here’s a quick summary for me to reference later (and anyone else who’s going to follow along):
- Unearthly Reactions 3/3
- Impregnable Mind 3/3
- Charisma 1
- Variable Resistance
- Charisma 3
- Nullmagic Strike
- Charisma 5
- Nullmagic Aura
- Charisma 6
In short… blegh. But I don’t see where there’s a whole lot of room for improvement. If anyone else has a better battle plan for a melee Paladin in Magister, I’d love to hear it. At least there’s a nice defensive punch with the barrelful of Charisma points.
Moderately happy slaying, maybe?