**Updated for U23 -- Build updated in post 2, and new commentary starts with Post #48**
U19 brought with it significant changes for the DC caster, and brought them back into a viable, contributing member of a EE group. Mob saves did not increase nearly as much as U17 and U18. Additionally, with the advent of revised enhancement tree, +11 stat items, +5 dc items and Spell Focus Mastery now stacking with school mastery items; it is possible to get meaningful spell dc's for EE content. I have updated the below post with my notes and analysis that I performed while building my PM. The second post includes my updated build that I am playing right now.
As always I welcome feedback, comments and suggestions.
- Build is focused on end game content (Epic Elite)
- No fail spell pen for all mobs is not required: You can get to a 55 Spell Penetration while running EE drow content the first time and then swap out to more meaningful feats/twists after. If you ever need to run EE Drow content again, just swap over to the easy button that is Shiradi.
- Minimum of a 36pt build (Wizard x1 and Bard x1) is assumed: While you can build a solid first life wizard, the benefits of past lives are critical to end game success for a PM
- Push spell DC’s as high as reasonable (keeping other considerations in mind), priority order: Necromancy, Enchantment, Conjuration/Evocation
Where once there was some consideration and flexibility on which race to take, with the advent of the new enhancement system that went away. There are really only two options for race, Drow and Sun Elf. Both are hands down the best choice for a fleshy DC based wizard. They have +3 intelligence over the next best option, which is human. Human only gets you an extra feat (which you don’t need) and +2 con (only 28hp), at the cost of 2 to all your DC’s.
Sun Elf is overall the best choice due to it having all the same benefits as Drow, plus they have access to Feywild Tap, granting ~900 extra spell points between shrines. They also have easy access to 3 additional points of spell pen if it is needed. The only downside to Sun Elf is the cost of a +1 heart (to get rid of the cleric level). If you are on a final life, Sun Elf is the way to go.
For wizards you are either Sun Elf or Drow for (EE) DC casting, or Warforged for Shiradi (outside scope of this guide). I can’t see any major benefit to any other race.
For the highest DC's pure 20 wizard is ideal. However, a 2 level spash in Rogue (traps + Evasion) or Monk (Evasion + saves) is not bad option. You lose the capstone (2 points of Intelligence), a wizard feat (likely Empower), and some spells (Loss of Power Word: Kill is the big one); but gain more suravability and some extra utility. Personally, I prefer 20 wizard (mostly flavor reasons), but there is nothing wrong with a 2 level dip.
Attributes / Spell DCs / Spell pen Breakdowns
Max Intelligence, take Constitution to 16, and call it done.
Max [Sustainable] Intelligence breakdown: 87* -- (20 base +7 tome* +7 level ups +2 enh (PM) +4 enh (harper) +2 enh (Sun/Drow Elf) +2 capstone + 11 item +4* Insight +1 exceptional +2 profane (litany) + 6 destinies +3 Twists +1 epic completionist twist +4 lich +2 yugo +2 ship +3 epic feats +2 completionist* + 2 lasting pot). Unstainable (but not counting silly stuff like Joy of the Queen) max int = 96 (+4 profane (cookies, stack with litany) +3 House D pots +2 Bard)
Most people will not be completionists, be willing to invest all twists and epic feats in Int, wear a sub-standard armor for casters or have a +7 int tome, so for normal purposes I consider the max intelligence to be 80 (20 base +6 tome +7 level ups +7 enh (PM/AM/Sun Elf/Harper) +2 capstone + 11 item +3 Insight +1 exceptional +2 profane (litany) + 6 destinies +2 Twists +4 lich +2 yugo +2 ship +1 epic feats +2 lasting potion), freeing up 2 epic feats and 1 twist slot (2 for assuming epic completionists).
Max [Sustainable] Spell DC's breakdown assuming 80 int (add +1 if completionist, add +1 if you are willing to drop ruin and have a +7 tome or are willing to run in magister and drop energy burst.)
Please note that it is not possible to have max DC's in all spheres, the below calcs are only present to show what is possible. I would recommend either Necromany or Enchantment to be your primary and chose the other for your secondary. If you are spending most of your time running Mark of Death on EE, Transmutation primary is ideal.
NOTE: The Epic Deific Diadem adds up to a +2 DC bonus as long as you cast a spell of that school first. I didn't include its bonus in any of the calculations except for Necromancy as Death Aura ticks constantly keep you at +2 necro DC's
Necromancy: 77 (10 base + 9 spell level + 35 int mod + 1 spell focus + 1 greater focus +1 Epic Focus + 1 wiz past life +1 Lich +1 Necro focus +1 Archmage +3 Magister + 6 item +1 unique +1 profane +2 augment +1 Guild +2 Sacred (Deific focus II)
Enchantment: 77 (10 base + 9 spell level + 34 int mod + 1 spell focus + 1 greater focus +1 Epic Focus + 1 wiz past life + 1 bard past life + 1 enchantment lore +2 Vampire Form +2 Archmage +3 Magister + 6 item +1 unique +1 profane +2 augment (exceptional) +1 Guild)
Illusion: 78 (10 base + 9 spell level + 35 int mod + 1 spell focus + 1 greater focus +1 Epic Focus + 1 wiz past life +2 Archmage +3 Magister +3 Draconic Presence (PK only) +1 Guild + 6 item +1 unique +1 profane +2 augment +1 Guild)
Conj and Evocation: 78 (10 base + 9 spell level + 34 int mod + 1 spell focus + 1 greater focus +1 Epic Focus + 1 wiz past life +2 Archmage +3 Magister +2 Precise Casting +3 Cleric/Sorc PL + 6 item +1 unique +1 profane +2 augment +1 Guild )
Transmutation: 74 (10 base + 9 spell level + 35 int mod + 1 spell focus + 1 greater focus +1 Epic Focus + 1 wiz past life +2 Archmage +3 Magister +1 ship + 6 item +1 unique +1 profane +2 augment +1 Guild)
Max [Sustainable] Spell Penetration breakdown
Getting Max Spell Pen is very limiting and causes a significant hit to your spell DCs which are much more important. I would not recommend anyone bother, considering that Spell Resistance is not prevalent in end game mobs. Calculation is listed below mostly for reference.
Spell Pen: 66/69 in one school (20 base + 5 epic destiny + 3 Elven Arcanum [Elf / Morninglord] +3 Archmage Spell Pen + 2 Spell Pen Feat +2 Greater Spell Pen +4 Epic Spell Pen +3 Magister Piercing +3 Draconic Piercing +2 Echo's of the Magister +6 Wiz PLx3 +3 Fvs PLx3 +7 Spell pen item [Thunderforged tier 2] +2 Arcane Augmentation +3 Magister Master of [Spell School] +1 Guild)
Again, Please do not build for max spell pen unless you are running a lot of EE Drow content. For MotU a 58 spell pen will get you to no-fail against EE drow priestess and the Drow in EE Beyond the Rift, a 54 Spell pen is more than enough for that content as it gets every other mob at 100%. For EE 3BC the Drow are CR 61 so Spell Pen of 70 (not achievable) is required for no fail.
For all other content a Spell Pen of mid 40s is sufficient. Personally, I recommend using web and greater shout to deal with Drow and focus more on your DC's. Outside of MotU and VoN3 you don't see that much Drow and I don't see it worth the heavy investment.
Focus your efforts on maximizing your DC’s first, spell power boosts second, and don’t forget Insightful reflexes (it is critical for survival). Spell power boost is important, not so much for your offensive spells but to ensure that your healing burst (negative energy burst) is as powerful as you can make it (trust me, you will need it). Extend spell is nice (mostly for death aura) but not worth a feat slot anymore. One Spell Pen feat gives you the flexibility to twist in up to 6 additional SP from ED’s which is nice flexability.
Enhancements and Skills:
On enhancements there is really not a lot of flexibility with the new system. You can really take nearly everything you want. Only real choice is do you want +1 Necromancy DCs and the Enervation SLA, or +1 Enchantment DC (and maybe Hold monster). Further decisions are on how much spell pen (if any) you want out of archmage, and if you want to use the SLA’s or not (I didn’t see them as worth while).
If you are a Sun Elf, you will have a choice to spend points in Arcanum and Feywild tap, or invest more into Archmage.
As for skills, max concentration, spellcraft, heal, search and UMD. There are points left over for a point in tumble and max ranks in repair, so why not.
Comprehensive look at my gear layout thought process and effects you want can be found here: Post #278 || Updated thoughts on U23 gear can be found here: Post #427
Focus on getting the best intelligence and dc items you can find. Effects that are available are: +11 intelligence item, +3 insightful item (ideally goggles), Epic Deific Diadem, Epic litany, +6 Necro DC item (ideally Thunderforged Staff), +5 enchantment DC item (Sage's Cloak works well here), Slot +2 spell focus augments and, a Nullification spell power and lore item. All other slots are better used to avoid/mitigate damage (PRR, Dodge, ghostly, resistance, etc.)
As for armor you will want Shadow scale with the Shadow caster (+1 DC) effect on it. You can choose robes or light armor if you are willing to slot ASF gear for the extra PRR.
Handy list of non-weapon sources of Spell Power and Lore can be found in Post#528
Comment on Guards: There has been a bit of discussion on if the “traditional” guards are still worthwhile in epic elite content. I have done a fairly through analysis on the value of hp guards/dr on a PM when running EE content. In the interest of not making this post any longer than it is, let me summarize by saying that they are not worth it in current EE content. If you are running old EE content, or EH they are great, but the damage output is just too much for them to keep up anymore. You are better off avoiding damage or mitigating it with PRR.
The two primary destinies I would recommend are Magister (Max DC and Spell pen) and Draconic (Slightly lower DC, massive dps gain). Shiradi is not being discussed as it is outside the scope of this guide. If you are interested in Shiradi there are lots of good threads out there.
Magister is a bit boring, however it allows you to have the +3 to Necro (or Enchantment) DC’s and +8 spell penetrations between the destiny and twists, 10% spell point reduction and most importantly, 1 more point of max intelligence (assuming you are using one of the twists to bring in +3 necro or enchant dc’s).
Draconic gives additional options with the excellent energy burst and dragon breath (serious damage potential when used with mass hold + sense weakness), Energy sheath for elemental absorb, and extra spell power for one of your elemental lines.
Full Spell Review can be viewed here at Post #75
Discussion on Epic and Heroic Past lives can be found here at Post #238
Important information on how Dungeon Alert affects saves (and other things) starting in Post #555
In EH content and below a well-built pale master is a near demi-god, only limited by your mana usage (which due to sla’s like energy burst is nearly limitless). Very few mobs can cause you significant pain, your spell dc’s allow you to kill, hold, web, or dance mobs at will, and your direct damage abilities allow you to nuke most mobs from orbit.
EE content is a vastly different beast, incoming damage from mobs is too high to take many hits and their saves are ridiculously high. For EE content I recommend hanging back, avoid getting hit. Make heavy use of debuffs (Enervation, Crushing Despair and necrotic ray are your friends) and holds/death spells after proper prepping of the mob (crushing despair, energy drain, mind fog, hypo, etc). You will be invaluable to any EE group, but it is a mental shift when you are used to acting like a demi-god in other content.
As always, comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome