Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Omniscificer: A Rational Solution to the Pun-Pun Problem

Shameless Plug
Disclaimer: This is not my work; everything is written by LordofProcrastination. I tried to duplicate his original formatting as much as I could.

I, LordofProcrastination, being of sound mind and rhetoric, hereby present a solution to the Kobold menace.

Moreover, I intend to do it with a 4th level character. Think I'm crazy? We'll see.

Disclaimer 1:
I intend this thread to be an intelligent and rational debate. To this end, I am organizing my solution into labeled premises. This will help readers to both follow my logic and, if necessary, dispute it in an orderly fashion.

Disclaimer 2:
 I admire Khan the Destroyer and his creation, Pun Pun. I was one of the very first to congratulate Khan on his creation, and hold them both in high regard. The very nature of Pun Pun's magnificence has inspired me to challenge it, not some petty jealousy or misunderstanding. I have read all of the relevant Pun Pun threads. Please consider this disclaimer as a good reason not to resort to ad-hominem assaults or generic assertions of invincibility.

Background Understanding
[Premise 1] Once a character becomes nigh-omniscient and nigh-omnipotent such as Pun-Pun is, circumstances make it impossible for new threats to arise. This is because said nigh-omniscient/omnipotent character would know about any new potential threats and have the capability to quash them before they have a chance to mature.

[Premise 2] With enough time, experience, etc, pretty much any moderately optimized character could become nigh-infinitely powerful. What is impressive about Pun-Pun is that this power level is accomplished with alarming speed, i.e. at level 5.

[Premise 3] Thus, the only accurate way to compare two or more nigh-omniscient characters would be to evaluate the amount of time it takes for these characters to reach their ultimate state.

[Premise 4] Controlling for DM temperament and nonmechanical circumstances, as we must on the Character Optimization Boards, experience points obtained is the best way of comparing timeframes between characters. If character experience point levels are the same, then round-by-round analysis of capability curves would be necessary.

The Omniscificer:
Race: Elf
Class: Artificer 4
Feats: Elf Dilettante (1st level), Brew Potion (Artificer 2), Craft Wondrous Item (Artificer 3), Magical Artisan [Craft Wondrous Item] (3rd level), Legendary Artisan (Artificer 4)

UMD Bonus:
+2 Masterwork tool (circumstance)
+3 Item Enhancement (circumstance)
+4 Charisma
+2 Eagle's Splendor (slightly more Cha)
+7 Ranks
+6 Cloak of the Artificer (competence)
+24 (high enough to automatically succeed on all creation-relevant UMD checks

Items: (rather extensive calculations)

Boots of the Resilient Worker (Single Use, Use-Activated) [CRAFTED x4]
- Spell replicated: Delay Death
- Base cost: Caster level (5) x Spell level (3) x Single Use, Use Activated (50) x Skill Required (0.9) x Class Required, Expert (0.7) = 473 gp
- Gold to create: Base (473) x Magical Artisan (0.75) x Crafting (0.5) = 174 gp
- XP to create: Base (473) x Magical Artisan (0.75) x Legendary Artisan (0.75) x Crafting (1/25) = 11 xp

Boots of the Resilient Mastermind (Single Use, Use-Activated) [CRAFTED x1]
- Spell replicated: Delay Death
- Base cost: Caster level (5) x Spell level (3) x Single Use, Use Activated (50) x Skill Required (0.9) x Class Required, Artificer (0.7) = 473 gp
- Gold to create: Base (473) x Magical Artisan (0.75) x Crafting (0.5) = 174 gp
- XP to create: Base (473) x Magical Artisan (0.75) x Legendary Artisan (0.75) x Crafting (1/25) = 11 xp

Goggles of the Martyr (Single Use, Use-Activated) [PURCHASED x1]
- Spell replicated: Glory of the Martyr
- Base cost: Caster level (7) x Spell level (4) x Single Use, Use Activated (50) x Skill Required (0.9) x Class Required, Artificer (0.7) = 882 gp
- Gold to create: Base (882) x Crafting (0.5) = 441 gp
- XP to create: Base (882) x Crafting (1/25) = 36 xp

Bracers of Sharing and Caring (Single Use, Use-Activated) [PURCHASED x4]
- Power replicated: Share Pain
- Base cost: Manifester level (3) x Power level (2) x Single Use, Use Activated (50) x Skill Required (0.9) x Class Required, Expert (0.7) = 189 gp
- Gold to create: Base (189) x Crafting (0.5) = 95 gp
- XP to create: Base (189) x Crafting (1/25) = 8 xp

Gloves of the Painlord (Single Use, Use-Activated) [CRAFTED x1]
- Spell replicated: Masochism
- Base cost: Caster level (5) x Spell level (2) x Single Use, Use Activated (50) x Skill Required (0.9) x Class Required, Artificer (0.7) = 315 gp
- Gold to create: Base (315) x Magical Artisan (0.75) x Crafting (0.5) = 119 gp
- XP to create: Base (315) x Magical Artisan (0.75) x Legendary Artisan (0.75) x Crafting (1/25) = 8 xp

Amulet of the Beast (Single Use, Use-Activated) [CRAFTED x1]
- Spell replicated: Beastland Ferocity
- Base cost: Caster level (2) x Spell level (1) x Single Use, Use Activated (50) x Skill Required (0.9) x Class Required, Artificer (0.7) = 63 gp
- Gold to create: Base (63) x Magical Artisan (0.75) x Crafting (0.5) = 24 gp
- XP to create: Base (63) x Magical Artisan (0.75) x Legendary Artisan (0.75) x Crafting (1/25) = 2 xp

Masterwork Tool, Use Magic Device [PURCHASED x1]
- Per the PHB, 50 gp

Cloak of the Artificer [CRAFTED x1]
- Gives a +6 Competence bonus to Use Magic Device
- Base cost: Bonus Squared (6^2 = 36) x 100 x Skill Required (0.9) x Class Required, Artificer (0.7) = 2,268
- Gold to create: Base (2,268) x Magical Artisan (0.75) x Crafting (0.5) = 851 gp
- XP to create: Base (2,268) x Magical Artisan (0.75) x Legendary Artisan (0.75) x Crafting (1/25) = 51 xp

Ring of Calling to Collect (Single use, use-activated) [PURCHASED x1]
- Spell replicated: Sending
- Base cost: Caster level (7) x Spell level (4) x Single Use, Use Activated (50) x Skill Required (0.9) x Class Required, Artificer (0.7) = 882 gp
- Gold to create: Base (882) x Crafting (0.5) = 441 gp
- XP to create: Base (882) x Crafting (1/25) = 36 xp

Total Gold Spent: 174x4 + 174x1 + 882x1 + 189x4 + 119x1 + 24x1 + 50x1 + 851x1 +882x1 = 3409 gp (of 5400 gp at 4th level)
Total XP: 11x4 + 11x1 + 8x1 + 2x1 + 51x1= 116 xp (well within craft reserve)

The Combination

[Premise 5] Having procured his items by money or self-industry, the Omniscificer equips himself and then pays a handful of gold for the services of three trained hirelings. By selecting hirelings of a certain profession, he obtains the temporary aid of four experts, all of whom possess a chosen skill, enabling their use of the Boots of the Resilient Worker.

[Premise 6] The Omniscificer lends a pair of Boots of the Resilient Worker and a pair of Bracers of Sharing and Caring to each of the hirelings, and asks them to put them on, but not activate them until his signal. The Omniscificer then activates his items in order such that Glory of the Martyr, then Beastland's Ferocity, then Masochism, then Delay Death are working. Upon activating Masochism, he gives the signal for the hirelings to activate their items, bracers first. Now there are four Share Pain effects active, all oriented Omniscificer => Hirelings. Everyone involved has their own Delay Death spell active as well.

[Premise 7] The Omniscificer tosses himself off of a nearby 80 ft cliff, deliberately fails his Jump check, and takes 8-48 damage. This sets off a Perpetual Damage Mechanism, and the hirelings immediately pass out. Instantly, the Omniscificer is sustaining an infinite amount of damage.

Disclaimer 3:
If you are unfamiliar with this mechanism, please read about it in the second of my "LoP's Dirty Tricks" articles, The Perpetual Damage Machine. Likewise, please direct all comments and questions about the infinite damage loop involved here to that thread. For the purposes of this thread, you need to understand that the Omniscificer is sustaining infinite damage for as long as his Glory of the Martyr spell is active, and let's move on.

[Premise 8] The round after falling, the Omniscificer's masochism spell grants him a +1 bonus on skill checks, attack rolls, and saving throws per 10 damage sustained. Since he sustained infinite damage last round, he now has +Infinity to these stats. That's right, not "nigh-infinity," or "limitless," it's really "infinity infinity."

[Premise 9] Thanks to his Elf Dilettante spell, the Omniscificer is free to attempt any skill check he desires at a +Infinity bonus. The Omniscificer uses this opportunity to learn everything. The Knowledge skills require no action to activate, and every check in any of the broad categories instantly reveals everything there is to know about the subject. Thus, in a flash of an eye, the Omniscificer becomes perfectly omniscient.

[Premise 10] Since the Omniscificer can know an infinite amount, and the D&D multiverse contains a finite amount of information (thanks to the limitations of published material), the Omniscificer knows every combination of action possible. Going by the sample topics, the Omniscificer knows everything there is to know about every type of creature. The Omniscificer knows the vulnerabilities of every creature that exists or might exist.

[Premise 11a] Knowing everything, the Omniscificer knows about the dangerous possibilities presented by some shapechanging kobold wandering elsewhere. Knowing all of this kobold's weaknesses, as he does any creature's weaknesses, the Omniscificer also knows what steps can be taken to ensure the destruction of either the kobold in question or the necessary stepping stones to full power in its path.

[Premise 11b] Though the Omniscificer's knowledge is infinite, it does not require "all knowledge" to successfully predict the pun-pun trick. Eager to make his power permanent, the Omniscificer conducts knowledge checks regarding all spells, items, abilities, powers, etc, in the multiverse. There is a finite number of spells/items/abilities/etc, due to the limited number and length of WotC publications. Next, he makes knowledge checks regarding the results of combining every one of these capabilities. He is now aware of every trick and loop made available through the combination of WotC spells/items/abilities/etc. This includes the pun-pun/manipulate form combination.

[Premise 11c] Knowing the pun pun combination, the Omniscificer is then able to determine the assorted factors and capabilities that must converge in any given character/circumstance for the combination to be activated. These characteristics include the capacity to transform into a Sarruhk, the presence of an ally/minion to set up the original manipulate-form exchange, the knowledge-availability/ingenuity necessary to become cognizant of the combo, and a host of other enabling factors.

[Premise 11d] Knowing all of the factors necessary to activate the pun-pun/manipulate form combination, and furthermore knowing everything about every creature in existence, and normalizing by the "Background Understanding" assumptions, the Omniscificer knows that Pun Pun the Kobold is the creature possessing the most factors for being the first/next to activate the manipulate form combination. Since the vast array of factors must converge in a single character for the combination to occur, and Premises 1-4 establish that the combination has yet to occur, it is quite reasonable with infinite knowledge to identify differentiating factors that set Pun Pun the Kobold as the primary target of the Omniscificer's efforts.

[Premise 12a] The methodology of preventing the rise of Pun Pun is mostly irrelevant. The important thing is that the Omniscificer knows how to get it done. For imagination's sake, this could mean leveraging his intimate familiarity with all secrets to induce local rulers to hunt down and kill Pun Pun. This might mean that the Omniscificer knows the ancient riddle answer necessary to unlock a powerful creature that may act in gratitude. This might mean that the Omniscificer's infinite knowledge of the planes means that he knows exactly where to find a handy artifact. Like I said, the important thing is that against infinite knowledge, one potential cosmic threat as a 4th level character doesn't stand a chance.

[Premise 12b] After identifying the threat, the Omniscificer knows exactly how to prevent the activation of the pun-pun combination. For the sake of proving surety of this method without reliance on the manipulate form combination itself or excessive DM intervention, I will outline a few possible options that the Omniscificer could pursue.

[Premise 12c] The first step is the addition of an item enabling remote communication, ala sending or correspond. A single-use, use-activated item based on either of these is well within the Omniscificer's remaining budget, and would enable direct communication with the gods and/or beings directly under the remote-senses and/or control of the gods. It's worth noting that the argument presented by a number of participants in this thread that the Omniscificer can immediately attract the attention of the gods through the use of an infinite Perform (god-attracting-haiku) check, or other such skill-based mechanism, still has validity. However, since the presence of an item enabling no-save contact with a god of choice helps remove uncertainty, let's run with that.

[Premise 12d] Sending and correspond enable communication-based interaction, which is the primary requisite for social skill use. After coming into communication with a deity of choice, the Omniscificer can use his assorted infinite social skills (Bluff/Diplomacy/Perform/Intimidate/etc) to ensure that the contacted god immediately does a number of things for the Omniscifer.
  • After selecting a god with Alter Reality, have the god make all of the Omniscificer's spells/powers permanent. Yay for continually-updating omniscience and eternally infinite skills.
  • Make the god come to the Omniscificer and make him a Divine Proxy. Divine Rank 1 goes a long way towards finishing off all possible activators of the pun-pun combination, especially because it entails greater teleportation at will.
  • If we are being setting-specific, pick Shar and ask her to give the archetypal form trait to the Sarruhk. This is based on Catharz's assertion that Shar can do thus. Corroboration would be nice, if anyone can provide that.
  • Alternately, we could go for Set, the current head-god of the remaining sarruhk (through his fabricated Sseth aspect), and have him slaughter all of his worshippers.
Even if the god-meditated genocide or archetypal neutering don't seem "realistic enough" to convince you, it should be readily apparent that the mechanics of permanent infinite skills, instant transportation, and divine rank should be more than sufficient to assuredly dispose of potential activators of the pun-pun combination. Furthermore, brute destruction of potential activators is only the simplest of options available, and not even the most efficient at that. Mass memory-alteration, history revision, having the deity to whom Pun Pun is a divine minion removing said status, and limitation of certain magics/psionics altogether are all possible.

In short, once we have obtained the services of a god combined with infinite knowledge, there are few, if any, mechanical challenges remaining for the Omniscificer's mission.

[Premise 13] Whether the Omniscificer chooses to act on his knowledge is a matter of character design and player's intent, not DM fiat. For the sake of simplicity, let's set the theoretical player's design to be such that this character does not wish to be surpassed. Call it the LoP default to paranoid self-preservation.

[Premise 14] After obtaining infinite knowledge, the Omniscificer dismisses Glory of the Martyr, lets the damage loop end, and puts his head into a pond until he starts to drown. Due to a quirk in the DMG drowning rules, this sets the Omniscificer back at 0 hit points, and his contingent Cure Minor Wounds kicks in to put him back to normal (plus infinite knowledge), and he can begin to take action as he sees necessary.

Wrap-Up and FAQ
[Premise 15] I posit that this combination is one of the quickest routes to omniscience available. While not as versatile as Pun-Pun's manipulate form trick, this character "gets there" first, and is thus pretty much guaranteed to stay on top.

[Premise 16] Other than speed, the Omniscificer has a leg-up on Pun Pun in thoroughness. That is to say, the Omniscificer can obtain actually infinite stats, rather than nigh-infinite or limitless capabilities.

[Premise 17] Some people will probably conjecture that this combination is just beating up on a poor 4th level kobold wizard, hardly an impressive feat. I beg to differ. The difference is primarily intent and guarantee. Compared to all other situations, the Omniscificer is the only way to see Pun-Pun's ascent coming and know how to stop him without relying on the fuzzy DM adjudication of godly intervention/nonintervention.

[Premise 18] It is possible that some people may attempt to take a misguided "hard line mechanical" stance against my rather tame interpretation of the reasonable effects of infinite knowledge and say that one cannot derive any in-game use from knowledge checks. May I point you to the PHB, where we can find the following describing the outcome of Knowledge Checks: "For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information." With an infinite knowledge bonus, you exceed any finite DC by an infinite amount, resulting in an infinite number of pieces of useful information.

[Premise 19] The Omniscificer method is also more robust than a number of the other Pun-Pun challenge scenarios in that it evaluates both of the characters from the same standing point in time, rather than relying on giving the challenger a temporal headstart. Even better, this build is capable of fully assessing and meeting the Pun-Pun threat without using what is essentially metagame knowledge of Pun Pun and his powers and capabilities gleaned from the character optimization boards.

[Premise 20] Yes, I know about the direct time-travel spell. It doesn't negatively affect this combination. Pun Pun has to obtain full power before he can cast that spell, and the Omniscificer knows how to stop the so-bold kobold before he reaches that power level, and thus time travel never enters the picture. At least not until the Omniscificer gets around to vacationing around the space-time continuum later on...

[Premise 21a] While I have argued for the identification of "necessary factors" for activation of the pun-pun combination as a simple method for choosing the largest/most-immediate threat of kobold ascension (in Premise 11), I would also like to assert the validity of the alternate, if cheesier, method. This would be making Knowledge(prophecy) or Knowledge(the future) or Knowledge(probabilistic situational evaluation) checks, and reaping the direct benefits. Though it is true that D&D's roll-based system injects a measure of uncertainty in event-by-event interactions involving characters, there is no denying the feasibility of future-determination within this heavily magical, and moreover, story-based, multiverse.

[Premise 21b] The fact that DM permission is required to introduce non-typical Knowledge fields is not a barrier to the use of this option in a Character Optimization scenario. DM's permission is required to take a prestige class (DMG 176), use Forgotten Realms setting material, and pretty much any material whatsoever from any book. Assuming a neutral, complicit DM is a necessity for advanced Character Optimization comparisons.

[Premise 22] On multiplicity. Some have argued that there could be a countless amount of 4th level kobolds out there on the crux of accomplishing the pun-pun combination, and thus would be impossible to identify and target any one of them. This argument leads into an endless spiral of reciprocal, equally unfounded counter-arguments. By that logic, we could say that there is a similarly countless number amount of elf artificers to match. For the sake of accurately comparing character/build capabilities, it is necessary to avoid this escalation.

[Premise 23] As another "clearing the ground" point, there is the question of information assimilation. The boringly easy answer to this issue, which would be significant only in real life, is to realize that information assimilation is actually developing knowledge of the interrelations between data points. Knowledge of interrelations in or between subjects is a matter that can be resolved simply with another knowledge check, of which the Omniscificer has no shortage of capacity for.

Disclaimer 4:
I hope you've all enjoyed my faster, smoother way of pre-empting the Pun Pun problem for any given multiverse. I encourage comments and criticisms of any sort as you wish, but please, if you would like to object to anything, please organize your objections by premise. I wouldn't want to think I did all that ugly prefacing for nothing.

Special Note
In case you missed it earlier, the infinite loop the Omniscificer relies upon can be found in my recent Perpetual Damage Machine Dirty Trick thread.

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