Factotum will try anything

Given that I’m still pretty new to D&D (having started in early 2010), I’m still having “firsts” that are old hat for most gamers. I’ve just created my first character with a real concept, who I can really role play.

Factotum the Human Bard probably uses the same concept as a lot of 4e bards out there: Multiclassing. His motto is, “Oh, I’m great at that!” He’ll try anything. Note that he’s not especially GOOD at any of those things, but he thinks he’s ultra-capable.

His starting pre-racial stat array was 13 in every ability, with the one extra point in  Charisma (I wonder how many 4e players ever discover that trying to balance your stats gives you five 13s and a 14). As a slight nod to character effectiveness, I put his +2 human racial bonus in Charisma. So, he has 16 Charisma and 13 everything else. Optimized, he is not!

Factotum’s feats are, of course, his bread and butter. I made him a human so that he could have an extra feat at first level. Naturally, both feats are multiclass feats, so he’s a Warlord and a Rogue. Yeah, sneak attacking bards – woo hoo! I’m only picking feats that give him skill training; right now he’s trained in eight skills.

I’ve had a chance to play two Living Forgotten Realms sessions with Factotum. The first was not so great for him; it was the only LFR game I’ve seen so far that was four straight fights, with no time carved out for skill use. He muddled through all right, but he didn’t really shine.

The second session was this past week, and it was a blast. I hadn’t realized that the always-awesome Andy had set up a long series of LFR adventures at the local store with the intention of having a semi-consistent group of characters start at level 1 and go all the way through the heroic tier over the course of many months. I just happened to have signed up for the first game in this series. Two other players had brought fourth-level characters, so they obviously didn’t know about the series either. No matter – off we went!

SPOILERS AHEAD for CORE 2-1 The Radiant Vessel of Thesk

Our quest was to go to Thesk and find a mysterious “radiant vessel” on behalf of an insane halfling. We had a great opportunity for role playing in a small community in an effort to figure out what the heck this radiant vessel was. Factotum tried to turn on the charm, but managed to stick his foot in his mouth more often than not. With the help of the rest of the group, though, we ultimately got a lead: the radiant vessel was a woman with a mystical aura around her that destroyed undead creatures. She had been taken by orcs to some distant mountains, but her cousin had a map to get there (the cousin had been having a fling with one of the orcs – the hussy).

Into the mountains, then; Factotum was happy to stealthily lead the way. When we came to a room with ladders leading down to a chamber with enemies, most of the party climbed down to fight. Factotum, naturally, jumped down the 20 feet (and almost reduced enough damage with his Acrobatics check to land on his feet). He charged into a flank in order to sneak attack a minion. When confronted with a pit to cross (which could be done with ladders), Factotum jumped it.

Eventually the party found the kidnapped woman, surrounded by orcs and an imp. Factotum Bluffed his way in, saying that he was a trained physician. It would have gone well, too – if only he had been trained in Heal. A few failed skill checks later (the party’s Goliath Barbarian/Warlord didn’t have much luck, either), and we had killed the poor woman and her baby.

It was a sad moment around the table, but we wiped our tears and brought the body back to the cousin. Factotum was a blast to play, even though he usually missed in combat (his attacks were at +6 versus Armor Class or +3 versus other defenses). The best moment was when one of the other players said, “Factotum HAS to come back next week!”

Well all right then! It’s a lot of fun to have a character with actual personality. I need to learn to bring some of this to NPCs when I’m running games, too.

And since I think Factotum is so much fun, I decided it was worth taking 15 minutes to hack the five-page PDF that the Character Builder spits out into a one-page version. You know, I should probably just use the original offline Character Builder for this guy…

7 thoughts on “Factotum will try anything

  1. Multi-class skill monkey Bards are so cool – I’ve always wanted to make one myself! I’ve got a few pointers for strengthening Factotum’s crunch while hopefully maintaining his strong flavor (what am I, a chef now?). I’m pretty sure a Songblade Rapier is already on your mind for the future. Feats you should look out for are Duelist’s Panache, Armor Finesse, Bardic Knowledge, Bard of All Trades (though this one is less necessary if you keep getting multiclass feats), and a multiclass feat in Monk or Assassin especially. Being able to use a Ki focus as an implement and for weapon attacks gives you lots of options for using weapons, and allows you to use Ki Focus Expertise, rather than Versatile Expertise (so your bonus to hit scales at 1/11/21, instead of 1/15/25), if you choose to take an Expertise feat. Also, unless you really wanted to pick up Inspiring Word, gaining an always active, mini version of the Warlord’s commanding presence for your allies is very useful (So either Bravura, Insightful, Resourceful, or Skirmishing Leader), possibly more useful than an additional heal per day. Other than that though, it sounds like you’ve had a blast playing him, and you’ve certainly done alright in terms of “optimizing” him – Cunning bards don’t require lots of INT to be really effective, and if you pick up Expertise soon you’ll be on par with most PCs of this level.

    • Colin – I appreciate the tips on optimization, but I won’t be using any of them.

      First, Factotum can’t use a rapier without a feat – bards aren’t proficient with them by default.

      Second, you listed a bunch of other feats to consider… Factotum won’t be taking any of them. Every single feat he takes (at least at heroic tier) will be a multiclass feat. That’s the whole point of the character – he does EVERYTHING (but sadly doesn’t do any of it very well), hence the name. He’s not focused specifically on being a skill monkey so much as he’s focused on multiclassing (though bringing skills along with that as much as possible).

      So, no expertise. No Duelist’s Panache. Multiclassing to Monk or Assassin will certainly happen, though!

      As for the Warlord feats, I think it’s quite likely that Factotum will be the party’s only healer in a lot of LFR games, so having the extra once a day heal seems more useful than the “ally spends an action point” benefits. Somehow those feats don’t really excite me, but maybe I’m missing the point of being a Warlord (I’ve never played as one).

      • Oh yes, I failed to notice the very specific list of Bard weapon proficiencies – I think I somehow read ‘Military Ranged’ as ‘Military Melee’ when I last looked. Well, you’re certainly not going to run out of multiclass feats anytime soon, so at least you have a plan!

        Other than Monk or Assassin, the Barbarian and Avenger multiclass feats can be particularly useful, and the Artificer heal is one of the strongest since it’s essentially a daily surgeless heal because of the quirky way in which artificers function. You should probably only pick up the Druid multiclass if you’ve got a plan to use it in roleplay, as it is rather weak in combat.

        As for the “point” of a Warlord – I think he’s much more of a buffing class than a healer, granting extra attacks and useful secondary benefits rather than healing. But you’re not playing a Warlord, so that hardly applies to you! Anyways, good luck with your continued adventures with the unique and unknown!

  2. I like him and love the fact that he’s not optimized. (Sometimes I think DMs are the only ones who build un-optimized characters.)

    Oh and I really like the one page sheet. We are starting a revolution I tell you!

    • Thanks! Yeah, the optimization question is one that I’ll probably blog about at some point, too. I think you’re right about only DMs making non-optimized PCs!

  3. For the record and tying into other discussins, to me, Factotum is a highly optimised PC. He’s optimised to be able to do a bit of everything rather than to specialise. But he’s using every resource he has available to fit the vision (“Someone who will try anything”) as effectively as possible and is therefore optimised.

    • I understand your perspective, and you’re correct that Factotum is “optimized” as a concept of a character who will try anything. But when most people (including me) talk about a character being “optimized” they mean “optimized for combat.” The exact part of combat that’s optimized might vary (pure damage for a striker, stickiness and defenses as a defender, healing and buffs as a leader, AOE damage and negative conditions on enemies as a controller), but if it’s all about making the party beat the bad guys as efficiently as possible, that’s combat optimization. Factotum does NOT have that kind of optimization, and I’m happy with that.

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