[CONAN]Why low level scholar is assumed to be underpowered?


Reading those treads (yes I was bored at work), it appears that for some reason low level scholar appears to many as underpowered, needing to spam alchemy items, or such. How comes, when scholars have plenty of powerful builds for low levels?

For example, my favored one. At first level take zamorian race, and Improved Initiative+Spawn of Dagoth Hill as feats. The first sorcery style is Oriental (acolyte). Taking base dexterity of 16, the scholar gets 16+2 (zamorian)+2 (Spawn)+2 (Clam of the Adept)=22 total dexterity, for a +6 bonus.

Maxing Hide and Move Silently, you end up with a powerful sorcerer, able to move invisible at will (+10 in Hide and Move Silently), and vanish in thin air even if discovered (tactical use of Bluff to create distractions to hide, and Vanish defensive blast). If he decides to fight, his inhuman nature still makes him quicker then most combatants (+10 Initiative), and hard to hit (+6 to dodge defense from dexterity). Starting the fight with blinding powder (Barbaric Treasures), he can keep opponents blinded as well. He also has a high Dex save, high Wis save, and while his Fort save is low he is immune to poison (Spawn feat), so he only has MD saves to worry about (if he gets hit that is).

Skipping to level 4, assuming Curses taken at level 2, he now gets Gelid Bones. Assuming Ambush feat at level 3 (can take both move and standard actions at surprise round), he can now for example get to that level 6 soldier (high initiative to go first), hit him with Gelid Bones (+9 for melee touch attack), get the spell past soldier's Will save, no matter how High (4 base PP as scholar, 4 pp from Spawn feat, 2 from Wis, 1 from 3 levels in scholar, Gelid Bones costs 1 PP, so 10 PP left to increase MAB with spell, +2 MAB from level 4, say +2 from Cha, for a total +14 MAB with Gelid Bones- or much more if scholar actually had time to charge PP to max), and then get out without soldier's allies taking him out. Instead of that level 6 soldier with bardiche and layered armor making meatloaf of scholar's two level 4 barbarian party members.

Another good combat option for low level is Frost magic (taken at level 2). With same build, at level 3 scholar can take Winds of Madness, allowing him to drive his opponents mad from miles away, without even needing magical link (and with maxed PP invested into spell, resisting it won't happen). At level 4 he can take Become Beast, and select poisonous snake or similar, giving him unlimited source of poison (which he can use without needing Poison Use feat, since he is immune to poisons anyway). Using some poisoned finesse weapon (or the classic poisonous ring), it means +9 to hit, after which opponents will die without needing MD.

And at level 8 he gets Spirit of the Avalanche- spell which hits a large area, and results in all who fail the save slowly drowning. Assumed maxed PP, and all PP except 10 needed to cast the spell invested into increasing the MAB, it means everything in area dying without any practical chance of survival (as long as it is rocky or snowy area, and the targets need to breathe)- more then what you can expect from level 8 DnD wizard for example.

Then there are Incantation of Amalric's Witchman (making scholar the key to low level parties taking out demons), Dread Serpent (level 8, and save or die spell, with plenty of utility spells from same style), mixing Augment Summoning feat, Spawn of Dagoth Hill feat, Boiling Blood spell from Fire Magic, and a correct demon selection, for a nice 25-30 Str/Con immune to fire beasty to deliver sorcerer's message (level 9 to pull off), and other fun tactics.

Or another fun one, Blight spell from Hedge magic. Level 3 scholar can use it- and for prepared level 3 scholar (4 PP base, 1 PP from level 3, 4 from Spawn feat, 3 from Wis bonus, 1 from Calm of the Adept, for a total of total 13 base PP, or 26 maxed PP) it means save or die spell with Evil Eye range for anything with 13 or less Con (and scholar can push it, reducing himself to -13 PP, and investing those into making the spell close to impossible to resist, or pushing it to up to 19 Con target instagib). Or, assuming scholar got a magical link to the target, save or die instant effect spell from unlimited range.
And since I was bored at work again, continuation of build, say for level 10.

Scholar invests 5 points into Zingarian fencing and 2 into Balance, allowing him to take Fencer's Finesse feat (one which allows him to use Dex modifier to damage, instead of Str one).

Assuming one of those levels goes into rogue (for one handed martial weapons, sneak attack style arming sword, +rest), and scholar gets Light Footed feat, base damage with arming sword is now 1d10+1d8+1d6.

Scholar, assuming he puts all his ability points into Dex, should also now have 22+4=26 Dex, which together with FF feat gives him 1d10+1d8+1d6+8=average 21.5 damage per hit (assuming he can sneak attack). He also has 7 base+8 from Dex= +15 AB. He also has 10 base+3 class+8 Dex+1 Light Footed=22 Dodge Def (practically higher, since he can afford fighting defensively for example).

Scholar with Oriental Magic, however, also gets Darting Serpent spell. For level 10 scholar, it lasts for 10 rounds, and scholar can invest up to 20 PP on it, giving him +20 Dex for those rounds, for a +10 additional bonus.

Which brings scholar average damage per hit to 31.5, and AB to +25. His defense is also at least +32.

Add Combat Expertise and Improved Faint with high Bluff skill to up scholar's defense, and to make sure he hits, including with Sneak attack damage, no matter what.

Add Incantation of Amalric's Witchman in case he decides to to go melee vs one of demon lords, or say avatar of some god.
You have one low level build, I believe level 4 is veteran and level 9+ is equivalent of Conan or so on as is the power-level guide for second edition. I think there is a whole thread about this somewhere.