Blog layout restored
Hello all, It came to my attention that the blog's layout was broken, because I stored some files in dropbox, which ended its file sharing service through the public folder. I hosted the files elsewhere and now everything is back to normal :) Cheers!
Posted by
On Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 12:56 PM
Mr. Icy Hot
Disclaimer: This is not my work; everything is written by McJarvis. I tried to duplicate his original formatting as much as I could.

WARNING: Unlike most optimized char builds, the actual optimized build is at the BOTTOM of this post. the Winterhaunt version is a flavour build. Also note that the "Swarm Shifter" template and all benifits derived from it are unavailable to PC's, but work well as an addition if Mr. Icy Hot is a NPC/Villian.

In the thread I originally posted the base idea in people seemed to react favorably, so I decided to do an official write-up. Voila.

Books Used: Lib Mort, Sandstorm, Frostburn, Players Handbook.

Posted by
On Saturday, December 31, 2016 at 7:56 AM
The H.I.V.E.
The H.I.V.E. – Hyper Intelligent Vermin Enclave

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

Posted by
On at 7:32 AM
The Boogeyman
Disclaimer: This is not my work; everything is written by Caelic. I tried to duplicate his original formatting as much as I could.

Just a high-level adversary I'm toying with for an Eberron campaign. Any suggestions appreciated. Most of the build is still rudamentary, and I'd love to find feats to make it more efficient.

In all times, in all places, children have their stories of the dark figure who lurks in the shadows, ready to pounce on the unwary and drag them off. He goes by many names in many cultures, but is known to some simply as the Boogeyman. Parents, of course, always dismiss such stories with the same strengthless reassurances--there's no such thing as a Boogeyman, he's not hiding in the closet, and he's not going to eat you. The children know differently, though.

And in the city of Sharn, the children are right. There IS a Boogeyman, and he IS coming to eat your soul.

Nobody knows for sure who this creature is, or how he came to be...but he is undeniably more than childrens' stories. The dregs of the city speak of him in hushed whispers, and there are certain areas of the sewers and the low city which they avoid like the plague. These are the haunts of the Boogeyman, and those who go in do not come out again. He has worn a thousand faces, and will wear a thousand more--usually the faces of those most trusted by his victim. He lives not for the kill, but for the terror in the eyes of his chosen prey. The fear is what adds savor to his meat...and his meat is nothing less than the souls of living beings. The innocent and the wicked alike are his prey, and all who know of him fear him.

 The Boogeyman is real. Pray that he's not hiding under your bed when you go to bed tonight.

Posted by
On at 7:12 AM
The Omniscificer: A Rational Solution to the Pun-Pun Problem
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.

Posted by
On at 7:02 AM
The Stormwind Fallacy
Disclaimer: This is not my work; everything is written by Tempest Stormwind. I tried to duplicate his original formatting as much as I could.

Posted by
On at 6:38 AM
LordofProcrastination's Dirty Tricks
Disclaimer: This is not my work; everything is written by LordofProcrastination. I tried to duplicate his original formatting as much as I could.

Welcome to a series of short articles dedicated to sharing optimization concepts and combos from my personal playbook. While not as ground-shaking as my larger projects like the 100^10 Elite Optimization Challenge, Nanobots, the Twice-Betrayer of Shar, etc, I hope you enjoy these Dirty Tricks for what they are -- carefully explored pathways to optimization power.

Posted by
On at 6:24 AM
The Complete Shopping List

This is a thread that's has been lost to 339's forum purge and I was regularly receiving the white screen of death for it. I loved this compilation and regularly visited for the finishing touches of my characters. Fortunately, while delving deep into the wayback machine I dug this list up and now it's available once again :D This is not my work, kuddos and a very big thanks to joseccb! You can retreive the thread here.

Posted by
On Friday, December 30, 2016 at 9:01 AM
The Wizard's Handbook Part II

Skills and Feats

Posted by
On Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 6:47 PM
The Wizard's Handbook Part I

Attributes, Races and Class Features

Posted by
On Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at 9:58 AM
The Quickstart Divine Crusader

The Divine Crusader is an easy to qualify for prestige class from Complete Divine. The class is especially good for martial characters, who will gain the ability to cast some spells at a fast progression, with charisma as a main casting statistic.

Posted by
On Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 12:55 AM
The Swift Hunter's Handbook
Posted by
On Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at 10:45 AM
The Paladin's Handbook
Posted by
On Sunday, August 21, 2016 at 12:34 AM
CO Optimization: The Fatemaker

The fatemaker is a wonderful prestige class from planar handbook. It is basically a roguish class, high skill points and wonderful skills. They also receive some arcane spells. I found almost nothing about them on the boards. The search function on this forum has only 7 results. So i decided to make this thread, a mini-guide of sorts, as a tribute.

Posted by
On Wednesday, August 17, 2016 at 9:01 AM
The Bard's Handbook
Posted by
On Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 3:56 PM
The Lurk's Handbook
Posted by
On at 3:05 PM
The Familiar's Handbook
Posted by
On at 2:41 PM
The Quickstart Cleric Archer

Following the Quickstart Druid thread, this thread is going to give a few pointers on ranged cleric builds. The ranged cleric is an old CO staple and, even though it's not the best out there, it keeps a respectable damage output with minimal investment and maintains access to several spells that can benefit a party. This short guide will focus on weapons mainly and not weapon-like spells or abilities (for example, a warlock's eldritch blast).

Posted by
On at 1:40 PM
The Quickstart Druid

Druids are undoubtedly one of the most powerful and versatile core classes, but also a very confusing one, especially for newer players, because of the variety of options they have. This guide is meant to point out key elements you can pick up during your career, so that you can enjoy the game with minimal book-keeping, while still being able to face pretty much everything that gets thrown at you.

Posted by
On at 1:15 PM
The Hexblade's Handbook
Posted by
On at 12:47 PM
The Duskblade's Handbook
Posted by
On Monday, August 15, 2016 at 4:36 AM
Our second 5e session
Our second session of 5e!
Posted by
On Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 2:50 PM
chaos in the old world strategy guide - Slaanesh
Winning Strategy: VP or Dial.
Followers: Defensive.
Chaos Cards: Domination, Control.

Key Points

Least Amount of Followers

Slaanesh has the lowest number of figures in the old world - he only has six cultists (Seductresses), three warriors (Daemonettes) and one greater daemon (Keeper of Secrets). This means that there is a pretty hard cap on the number of possible dial advancement counters that can be gained each round; that number is three, but if you count in your chaos cards and the Keeper of Secrets upgrade, you can possibly get another one or two. This also means that you won’t participate a lot in battles; not only your warriors and greater daemon are just four figures, but they also have the least amount of attack dice per power point cost; at the same time however, they are quite sturdy - both Daemonettes and Keeper of Secrets have the best defence values for their power point cost.

Shortest Dial

Directly assosiated with his low amount of possible dial adcancement counters that can be gained each round, his dial is the shortest in length - only seven ticks are required to get to the finish. Assuming you can manage a dial tick each round, you get a rough feeling about how long an average game of Chaos in the Old World should be, which is about 7 rounds more or less (as already indicated by the Old World deck length!). It’s very important to estimate the dial advancement counters each of the other gods will be able to get and try to manipulate the board with your chaos cards in order to secure a double dial advancement condition if that’s possible - that will bring you very close to a dial win.

Difficult Dial Advancement Condition

From all the Chaos Gods, Slaanesh arguably has the most difficult dial advancement condition; even Tzeentch gets one more Warpstone token, but he may even not care about it if he creates a dial advancement condition opportunity himself, using his chaos cards with magic symbols. During the first couple of turns, in which your cultists are generally weak, you’re better off trying to lay low and secure your dial tick in order to get tougher. Try to save your Noble tokens from early ruinations using your chaos cards, because otherwise you’re in a difficult position if you’re trying to win by the dial. As more tokens get added, you can use Hero tokens, too, because of the game’s twisted sadistic sense: since Slaanesh is the God with the highest threat scores (at least as you gain more ticks), you’ll get caught in a loop of placing units to secure dial advancement conditions from hero tokens and then losing your figures to the tokens; on the other hand, if you’re behind on your threat dial by other gods, the Hero tokens will kinda protect your region from intruder figures.

Difficult Starting Place

Slaanesh wants Noble tokens and those are only two at the start of the game. Not only that, but they may be far off one another, or in regions of low value.

Threat Dial

Slaanesh's dial
As written previously, your threat dial is the shortest one; unfortunately, the trend which is to offer some victory points at the first tick and an upgrade card at the second is also repeated for Slaanesh’s threat dial.
The ability that’s unique to his dial is his third tick, which adds two noble tokens to the board. Getting to three ticks earlier than the third round can be tricky, but the ability to place some additional nobles can be powerful, both as a victory-point gain mechanism and a defensive one - place them in different areas so that you can get dial adcancement conditions; remember though that your maximum number of possible number of dial advancement conditions are three and four or five under very exceptional circumstances; the only way for you to lose your Noble tokens early is to a quick ruination. Remember that initially there are only two Noble tokens on the board and that your situation depends a lot on whether those noble tokens are close to each other or not. The fact that there is a wide array of Old World cards that place Noble or Hero tokens, however, helps a lot.
The other unique feature of Slaanesh’s dial is just next to the victory tick - you get to remove two Old World tokens. The problem with removing Old World tokens with your threat dial bonus is that during the end phase of the game, the sequence of resolving effects that’s printed on each god’s power sheet states that first you resolve end phase Old World cards and then you get your threat dial ticks; this means that the bonus is not that useful against event tokens (unless you’re feeling lucky or you want to defend against an ongoing effect), but it’ll do a very good job at removing the other ones (Noble, Hero, Warpstone, Skaven and Peasant); the top candidates for removal are probably Hero tokens that are a nuisance if you don’t care for the dial advancement condition, Noble tokens that are out of your reach in order to stop your enemies (probably Nurgle) to get free victory points and Warpstone tokens to keep Tzeentch in check or, more rarely to prevent a region from being ruined (that’s because, again, according to the sequence of events at the end of turn, ruined regions are scored before threat dial ticks).


Cultist Upgrade

Your seductresses are, to put simply, the figures that will win the game for you, barring exceptional circumastances. Your four warriors and your greater daemon are just not enough - they only have an auxiliary purpose; besides, they are mostly defensive in nature and will mostly help you to control a region rather to act aggresively. This upgrade is of top priority, because it enhances your main units; a defensive upgrade will keep your cultists from dying with only one lucky hit and secure your precious dial advancement conditions.

Power of Pain/Power of Pleasure

It annoys me a little that you need to get both in order to really have a larger power point reserve than the other gods. It’s a simple: get two and one for free (like pizza!) and although it generally seems to me as being an average deal I usually end up getting them for my second and third upgrade, as the one is next to the other and I don’t have to wait long to utilize my additional power points. Slaanesh has the special benefit to act last in the player order, which may be invaluable as the game progresses: you can delay until all players have depleted their power point reserve and then start using your leftover power points in order to control enemy figures with your chaos cards to secure a win. In a situation like this, having the additional power points from these upgrades is a very good thing, but also situational - it largely depends on the chaos cards that you have drawn and whether you needed to use them or not. Another way to use these upgrades is to put some of your fighting figures on the board in order to score some quick-n-dirty victory points. Important note: another reason why this upgrade might be more worth it than the others for you last upgrades is the Hero tokens; you get dial advancement condition by investing your cultists in regions that contain your Hero tokens and if you’re going for a dial win (or even when you’re not), you’ll quite possibly have the highest threat score of all the players. The fact that a Hero token removes a unit of the player that has the highest threat score in that area means that if you’re investing in remote regions that no one cares about, means that you’ll definitely have to sacrifice some of your units, regardless of your threat score. So, since you’ll probably want to re-use your units, having these ugrades might prove handy when meddling with those pesky Hero tokens.

Greater Daemon Upgrade

I’m always fascinated by this upgrade and I usually find myself wondering whether I should get this upgrade or the power point upgrades, but almost always the power point upgrades win the mental battle. My first problem is that this upgrade only lets you control an enemy cultist or warrior - not a greater daemon; I know deep inside that an upgrade card like that would be extremelly potent, but now that I’ve got a reason to summon my greater daemon, I’d like my three power points spend in a good way, not (another pizza deal!) summon your greater daemon: get a cultist for free. If I could get a fourth upgrade card, this would ultimately be my choice, but I prefer going with my large power point reserve and my sturdy seductresses. I’m planning to playtest a Cultist, Greater Daemon & Power Point upgrade strategy soon and post the results - if you’ve already done such a test or have developed an alternative strategy revolving around this upgrade card, please share the results.

Warrior Upgrade

This upgrade seems to be very good to inexperienced players and I see it getting picked often and they are right - it’s actually a very good upgrade! The downside is that it only affects your three Daemonettes that will, as your greater daemon, rarely see any play, unless you don’t have anything better to spend your power points on. The greater daemon upgrade might be quite goon in the sense that it has the benefit that a strategy can evolve around it, but this is another boring defensive upgrade to your already sturdy warriors. Not to mention that if someone scores two hits in a region where you have warriors and cultists, he is going to completely ignore your Daemonettes that are not able to die (especially with this upgrade!) and are not really an offensive threat and immediately target your cultists. The only way that this upgrade is going to be useful, is if you follow a weird anti-Khorne strategy, to try and dominate regions with your heavily defensive units, backed by some of your chaos cards in order to get the victory points, but not giving him dial advancement conditions.

Chaos Cards

Slaanesh has a good deck of chaos cards that generally follow two main themes; they will mostly help you win the game by controlling enemy units or making it easier for you to dominate regions. Your chaos cards is another signature part of this Chaos God and if I had to describe them with one word, that would be ‘control’.
The worst thing about Slaanesh is that he doesn’t have a method of drawing additional Chaos Cards and that will prove to be a problem in many of your games; a control player’s main requirement for an easy victory is a large hand of cards, a lot like Tzeentch’s method of card drawing. For that reason, it’s important that you think through before playing or start spamming your cards. Also, remember that the game will last something around seven turns and you’re beginning with three, so that’s a total of approximately 17 cards, out of your deck of 24. This means that you will not draw all the cards, so, if you need multiples of a specific card, on an average game you’ll probably won’t get it. You’ll have to get into Slaanesh’s playstyle - he does have cards important to his game, but at the same time you’ll have to learn and adapt to the situation and when the time’s right to actually spend the card.

Domination (Victory Point Themed) Cards

Abyssal Pact - 0 pp

This card is somewhat of a double-edged sword, as it can serve multiple purposes beneficial to you, but it also carries a magic symbol, which can benefit Tzeentch. Fortunately, you’re last in the player order after Tzeentch and you can play it in a position that will not benefit him. Quite simply, what this card does, is to deny opponents to add their figures’ total to their domination scores for that region. The card has zero power point cost, which is perfect when you just want to stall, so that the board is already fixed and you just want to place your cultists in an advantageous position. You can also use it as an oppening move to discourage the other players to place their units in a region where you want to settle yourself, so don’t be afraid to use it early if that means that Abyssal Pact will increase your chances of getting that double tick early on. Normally, the card will target Nurgle most of the times, or anyone that meddles with your Noble tokens; alternatively you can use it as your finishing move against regions with lots of units, in order to deny both victory points to the other player and make him essentially lose many resources from placing units that in the end did not contribute anything (such as Nurgle using just his cheap warriors to dominate a region); of course, that might be a tricky move, because you might find that the chaos card slots for regions such as those get filled quickly. Abyssal Pact is also a direct counter to lots of Nurgle cards, like Influenza, Plague Aura, Stentch of Death and to Khorne’s The Skull Throne.

Insidious Lies - 1 pp

While Abyssal Pact clears the way, but doesn’t really gives you any power points, Insidious Lies does a very good job at dominating regions - sometimes it doesn’t even require the presence of your units! With this card you can easily dominate the weak regions if they just have a Noble or Hero token; I usually try to keep my Insidious Lies (and generally cards that help to dominate) for regions that provide a heavy victory point return - Kislev, the Empire, Bretonnia, Tilea, Estalia and especially if they carry Noble tokens you’ll score additional points. Another benefit of this card is that these regions are usually Populous, which means that you’re treading on Nurgle grounds, who loves ruining regions. For this reason, you can use cards that will help you dominate them, like this one, without adding extra corruption tokens; the benefits are twofold: first, you’re delaying the ruination of a region that carries precious Noble tokens until you get a Dark Influence card to move them to another region, while still scoring big victory points without investing much of your power points; of course this strategy might prove to be problematic, because you’re giving the most corruption tokens and thus the first ruination place, quite possibly to another god, but the net result might worth it; second, you’re free to move your cultists to other regions in order to dominate and/or ruin them. You can also employ mind game tactics when playing this chaos card, it can be used to screw someone’s resources to dominate a certain region almost too efficiently, at least if they dare to mess with your tokens.

Degenerate Royalty - 3 pp

This is another card that is similar to Insidius Lies and gives a flat bonus of three points to your domination score. However it assumes that you have to play it on regions that have already seen some action, since you’ll never want to pay its cost - rather, you’ll want to play it for free to ensure that you’ll dominate a region. That makes the card almost worthless if you get it for your oppening hand, since you can do nothing with it - it’s better if you summon your cultists and actually get a dial advancement condition and some corruption tokens in addition to dominating a region. A bonus of this card is that it states ‘three corruption tokens’, but it doesn’t care to whom those tokens belong! So you can have the others do the work for you and then start claiming regions. Again you’ll want to target the high-resistant regions with these chaos cards and just skip the low costed border regions - you can dominate them easily with a head start of three points, especially since it will be free. Another note is that this card doesn’t care about Noble or Hero tokens, which Slaanesh is all about, so you can use this to your advantage and surprise the other players by focusing on a region like Tilea or Kislev (add some of your Daemonettes for a guaranteed domination on the region) if they don’t have any tokens that are useful to you.

Perverse Infiltration - 0 pp

Play this for free: get a free corruption token in that region. The card is straightforward - since you can’t use it to get a dial advancement condition, you’ll use it solely for the chance to take part in ruinations, especially those that are not particularly close to your regions of interest (which means, regions that do not contain a Noble or a Hero token, at least in the vast majority of times). However note, that this card will not give you the ‘taking part’ in a ruination bonus, because, to qualify, you have to put corruption tokens in that region during the corruption phase. Of course, the downside is that you either have to time it well. It’s not so difficult to get the ruination of a region right, since ruinations occur at the end step; the most difficult part is mainly to get an open chaos card slot on your turn (remember you’re playing last in the player order, so if there’s a lot of hype over a region that’s close to being ruined, cards might get played) and for your token to actually to make it to the end step, as there are multiple effects (it’s kinda Nurgle’s theme) to remove corruption tokens. Thankfully, Nurgle won’t be able to remove your tokens with his threat dial bonuses if you play your chaos card in the same round the region is going to be ruined, as ruined regions are scored before advancing threat dials. Unfortunately, Perverse Infiltration won’t be able to do much more than getting you the second ruiner place and score you some additional victory points, but usually, unless the region that’s being ruined is far away, almost everyone will invest a single cultist in order to get some additional points, so remember to be careful. Another way of using it, due to your low number of figures, is probably to just ruin the regions you have invested in more rapidly.

Utility & Control Cards

Dark Influence - 1 pp

This card is quite versatile and helps you to offset some of the randomness of the game setup out of your game, in order to better plan your strategy. What’s most unfortunate is that this chaos card only allow you to move only a single Hero, Noble or Peasant token. So far, I’ve mostly used it to save my Noble tokens from ruinations in order to continue get additional victory points and dial advancement conditions. If, at the start of the game your regions of interest are far off one another, you can use Dark Influence in order to move your token to a more advantageous position, possibly in a middle region with high conquest value, in order to get more victory points. You can also move Hero tokens if need be, in order to kill units of other gods; this seems to be a valid strategy, but I usually won’t bother, since the domination step is before the Hero token resolution, so it won’t make much difference; of course, the other players will need to re-invest power points to summon their figures.

Soporific Musk - 2 pp

This chaos card is one of those that at first seem to be overcosted and underwhelming. However, I came to like this card very much and it’s one of the few that can be used as both an offensive and a defensive tool. The truth is that three out of four players in this game love their cultists and that their cultists are limited - it’s not one of those examples where you’re getting control of a unit that doesn’t make any difference and your opponent can just summon more - it’s like taking one out of eight, six or four of their cultists, which is a quite large percentage if you think about it closely. Now, this card hurts, but when you think about what its uses are, you’ll be positively surprised - you can take part in distant ruinations, you can transform parasitic cultists (like those Khorne usually uses) into your own, denying them victory points and making them yours. But most importantly, this card can win get you those precious additional dial advancement conditions and take you one step closer to winning the game. A related note is that if another player has upgraded his cultists, you’re receiving the upgrage’s benefit, too, at least for that cultist; it’s probably not that important, besides dominating Khorne’s cultists that is able to attack, as the others trigger their bonuses when moving. I’m not sure whether or not you still control the unit after that it’s left the region that you applied Soporific Musk to it in the first place. If anyone has any information on this subject, please comment.

Field of Ecstasy - 2 pp

I think this is a wonderfully solid control card: it has a reasonable price and the effect is simple, effective and powerful. It’s another one of those cards that screw someone’s power points, when he makes the mistake of over-commiting non-cultists to a particular region. You can also use it to secure a dial advancement condition or, again in the great scheme of getting double ticks, deny a dial advancement condition to Khorne.

General Strategy

Early Game (Turn #1 - #2)

Your early game depends a lot on the game setup situation. Remember that you’re playing last, so you’ll have some serious pointers about where each player wants to deploy his figures. You can use those zero-power point cards or just spam cultists on a Noble token in order to delay and watch as the board reaches a fixed point. If you’ve got a Dark Influence card, save it for later - it’s important to get dial advancement conditions, but it will be almost impossible for you to get the double tick that early in the game; you can just spam cultists in a region to quickly ruin it and use the Dark Influence to move the token to a more valuable region before the ruination occurs. Spreading your units to multiple regions might not be such a great idea, because you don’t want to give Khorne more dial advancement conditions. An exception to this rule is using your domination cards to score points in conjunction with your Daemonettes, which are quite tough. Remember that you want to be far from the action, but not too far. Tilea is probably a very good starting region if it has a Noble token, because it’s not Populous, so you’re safe from Nurgle and at the same time is next to a very high scoring region; another good choice is Kislev and Bretonnia. On the second turn you can also try and dominate a high scoring region using Degenerate Royalty.

Mid Game (Turn #3 - #4)

If you want to win by your dial, this is where you’ll have to get lucky, otherwise you’ll just have to switch to a victory point win by necessity; if Old World cards that do not add additional Hero or Noble tokens are drawn, you can try and use your third dial bonus in order to get the additional ticks needed. Otherwise, start laying some dominations on those middle regions and in addition put the Noble tokens on them, so that you get a higher return. Try to participate in ruinations and always try to get at least the second place with your Perverse Infiltrations - add cultists as needed.
Posted by
On at 11:16 AM
The Spell Effectiveness Calculator
I'd like to present you with my newest project, a very small application that will help you figure out the chance your spell has to succeed versus the average abilities of the chosen challenge rating. To run it, make sure you have the most recent Java Runtive Environment version.

The GUI (stands for graphical user interface) is really straightforward - you enter the DC of your spell, your caster level and the CR you're testing your spell against; tick the appropriate boxes for your spell (e.g. if you're testing Ray of Enfeeblement you'll only tick the 'SR' box, while against Phantasmal Killer you'll have to tick 'Fort', 'Will' and 'SR'. Finally, press calculate and the bars under the button should be populated with the statistical chances your spell has to succeed - if a saving throw or spell resistance is not ticked, the appropriate bars will have a 'not applicable' indication on them.

Important: Make sure that you close the application using File->Exit or the Ctrl+Q shortcut and not the "X" button.

The average abilities are taken from an old graph I once made for the old Wizards' Handbook, back on 339, using Cubeknight's critter filter:

Download Link

If you have any problems, suggestions or you want me to implement more features (I plan to add attack rolls, too, totally forgot about them!), just leave me a comment. 
Posted by
On Monday, January 4, 2016 at 7:35 AM
Wand Handbook
Posted by
On Friday, January 1, 2016 at 6:58 AM
Great Weapon Fighting
Posted by
On Monday, March 2, 2015 at 12:36 PM
Encounter Manager
Posted by
On Monday, January 5, 2015 at 3:52 PM
The Cleric's Handbook


Compared to most of the other caster classes, the Cleric has an interesting quirk: it doesn’t have access to an ability or cantrip that enables a member of the class to attack using his wisdom modifier. This means that a Cleric has to rely on weapons in order to deal damage and as a direct consequence, he has to choose strength or dexterity as a secondary attribute, depending on whether the weapon’s type is ranged or melee.


The blue rating for strength stands only if you pick it up as a secondary combat attribute. Generally, you’ll want this if your weapon of choice is a heavy high-damage weapon and if your domain offers access to heavy armor.

Besides constitution, which doesn’t have any skills related to it, strength is next in line, pumping only your athletics skill.

According to the saving throws statistical information, strength as a saving throw is the fourth best, appearing in player’s handbook a total of 26 times.

You can dump this attribute completely, or keep it at 10 if you don’t want negative saving throw modifiers or your dungeon master is strict with encumbrance.


This is the secondary combat attribute you’ll want to use in most cases, because dexterity is much more important than strength, as it provides bonuses to your armor class and initiative besides hit and damage, both useful when you don’t have access to heavy armor.

The best thing about dexterity is that you don’t have to limit yourself to ranged weapons, due to the way finesse weapons work. The weapon with the most damage is the rapier (1d8), but there’s also the whip which has reach.

Dexterity is related to the three ‘sneaky’ skills: acrobatics, sleight of hand and stealth, which aren’t that useful to a cleric.

According to the saving throws statistical information, dexterity is second to the first wisdom, appearing in the Player’s Handbook a total of 78 times, making it a good saving throw to keep high.


According to the saving throws statistical information, constitution is the third best, appearing in the Player’s Handbook a total of 64 times; not only this means that it’s a good idea to get any bonus that you can from a moderate constitution score, but also the nature of the saving throw makes nasty things happen to you if you fail.

Besides saving throws and hit points, constitution isn’t that useful to anything else, but both areas are really important, so make sure to keep a score of 12-14 at minimum.


Intelligence is one of the attributes that you can truly dump, since the only thing it provides to a cleric build is a bonus to intelligence skills (arcana, history, investigation, nature and religion) and it appears only 6 times as a saving throw.

The only time that you should be considering raising it above 8-10 is if you want to multiclass to the wizard class, in which case you’ll have to spare a score of 13.


One of the many perks of choosing a class that benefits from a high wisdom is the fact that wisdom is a very good attribute by itself, boosting important skills like insight, medicine and perception, but also appearing as a saving throws a total of 85 times in the Player’s Handbook, more than any other attribute.

If you’re using point buy, you’ll want to spend 9 points to get a 15 here, pushing to an early 18 at level 4.

There’s a way to use your wisdom as a combat modifier, but it involves a druid cantrip (Shillelagh), which obviously calls for a specialized build. A cleric can access this cantrip with three ways: multiclassing, picking the Nature domain, or picking the Magic Initiate feat.


As with intelligence, charisma is an attribute that you can dump, as it boosts social skills and charisma saving throws are slightly less rare compared to intelligence ones, appearing a total of 18 times in the Player’s Handbook.

Considering multiclassing, charisma opens up a lot more options compared to intelligence: Bard, Sorcerer and Warlock.


The races that provide wisdom bonuses are quite rare and almost never by more than +1, which means that most of the times you will be able to max out your wisdom attribute by level 8, the earliest. In the sample point buy spreads that I’m providing, I regularly allocate a 15 to wisdom on races that don’t provide increases in that score, because I assume that one of your attribute score improvements will be spend on the Observant feat, which also provides a +1 to wisdom, so you’ll have 20 in your primary score by level 12. If your race doesn’t provide a +1 to wisdom, you’re not planning on getting the Observant feat, or you’re not thinking of increasing two ability scores by +1, then you’re better off keeping your wisdom score at 14 and spend the two points elsewhere. As a note, the only race that is able to begin with a wisdom score of 17 is a variant human that picks up the Observant feat as his bonus feat. Also note that this option isn’t the best.

Variant Human

The normal human race is a multiclassing expert, but the variant human is able to choose his unique ability, making him the king of utility - it’s only going to get better with every added sourcebook.

Heavy Armor Master is very good at low levels if you want to focus on strength; high armor, damage reduction plus some healing through the cleric class is going to make you very durable. As this feat requires heavy armor proficiency, this is only useful with Nature, Life, Tempest or War domain.

Magic Initiate gives you not one, but two cantrips from the spellcasting class that you select. This feat is golden with the druid class, which shares wisdom as a casting attribute: the best choice is Shillelagh, enabling you to completely disregard strength and dexterity as a combat attribute; additionally, you can also get Produce Flame as a means to get a ranged attack, albeit with a short range or Thorn Whip, which does a bit less damage, but gives you some crowd control ability, since you can drag large or smaller creatures towards you. You also get a single first level spell, which can be used on Animal Friendship (has 24 hour duration and gives you a free animal companion) or Goodberry (creates 10 berries that if consumed provide enough nourishment for the day).

By picking Observant you can start with a +2 on your wisdom attribute; currently, there’s no race that provides a +2 bonus to wisdom, so there’s some value in this feat based on this fact alone. The +5 to passive perception and passive investigation scores is also quite valuable.

Clerics that somehow pick up Shillelagh will love the Polearm Master feat, because both abilities work with a quarterstaff. You can get both from level 1 if you selected the Nature domain. The feat not only enables you to get another attack as a bonus action, but also spend your reaction on opportunity attacks when a creature enters your reach (something that’s not normally possible).

Ritual Caster for the Wizard class (which has the highest number of [Ritual] spells), is also a good idea and since you will already have wisdom score of 13 or higher, you don’t need to boost your intelligence; [Ritual] spells generally don’t require saving throws that you’d care about. This is also a good way of acquiring the Find Familiar spell without multiclassing to the wizard class.

War Caster is useful if you want to keep a shield and you can cast a spell with your reaction; unfortunately the spell must target specifically the creature that provoked an opportunity attack from you, so you’ll have to memorize appropriate spells to set this up. This feat is very good if it’s combined with Polearm Master, because through that feat you get an additional method of receiving opportunity attacks.

Wood Elf

The wood elf is a very good fit if you want to play a dexterity focused cleric, as choosing this race increases your dexterity and wisdom scores. Wood elves are in many ways mechanically similar to hill dwarves, but with a dexterity focus instead of constitution.

As with high elves, getting Elf Weapon Training is going to be especially useful for clerics that do not choose Tempest or War as a domain and thus won’t receive martial weapon proficiencies.

Fleet of Foot is quite straightforward, but also note that it has the same results if you choose to wear heavy armor without meeting the strength requirement, thus bringing your walking speed to 25feet. As with dwarves, choosing a domain that gives you heavy armor proficiency and disregarding strength requirements could be an option.

Mask of the Wild is, unfortunately, a stealth buff, which isn’t going to be that useful to a cleric.

Hill Dwarf

Hill dwarves are one of the few races that grant a bonus to wisdom, which is a very good thing to a cleric. The core dwarf traits increase your constitution by two points and the subrace adds one more hit point per level; since constitution increases just saving throws and hit points, it’s safe to assume that the Hill Dwarf subrace almost provides +4 constitution and +1 wisdom, making it a very good defensive option.

Even though this subrace doesn’t offer a bonus to a combat attribute, you can almost dump constitution (probably keep it to a pre-racially modifier 10) and increase the attribute of your choice. In the case that you choose a domain that doesn’t offer proficiency with martial weapons, you can still go with strength as a combat stat, because the core dwarf traits offer proficiency with hammers and axes.

If you pick up the Life or the Nature domain, which offer heavy armor proficiency, remember that as a dwarf you don’t care about armor strength requirements - normally, if you don’t fulfill the requirement, that means that the armor imposes a 10ft speed reduction, but a dwarf’s speed isn’t reduced by wearing heavy armor. Multiclass spellcasters will benefit for this, as they can keep their armor class high while having low strength and dexterity scores in order to boost their mental stats.

With 24 points you can easily cover your combat attribute and max out your wisdom; keep the rest three points and spend them to dexterity, intelligence or charisma depending on what multiclass options you want to have open.

High Elf

The racial bonuses of the high elf aren’t the best for a cleric. Elf Weapon Training provides access to bows, which coupled with the dexterity bonus that all elves receive makes for a good combat setup; other subraces offer a similar weapon selection though.

The bonus cantrip may be a good option if more cantrips are introduced, but currently, due to the way spell attacks work, you won’t be able to use most of them reliably, unless you increase your intelligence. You’re better off choosing a cantrip that offers utility, but doing that isn’t going to give your character an important combat edge.

Pump both dexterity and wisdom to a pre-racial 15 in order to increase both at the earliest to an even number and then continue maxing out your wisdom (which will most probably happen at 12th level). Alternatively you can keep dexterity to 14 and select a feat that increases your wisdom score, like Observant.


While other races have a big ability that make them appealing and unique, the human race offers a single point increase in all ability scores. This means that their unique ability is actually multiclassing, as they can spend their attribute points optimally in order to support different classes and weird builds.

You can spend your attribute points evenly and get five 13s and one 10, which will be increased to 14. Alternatively you can get a single 15 in wisdom, support three 13s and still have some leftover points.

If you don’t plan to multiclass to a class that has a strength requirement, like the fighter class and obviously you don’t want to go with strength as your secondary combat attribute, you can put any points left there - it’s the only attribute that gives you essential bonuses when it’s not even (it increases your carrying capacity).


Unfortunately, this race doesn’t have any selling points. Just compare them to the dragonborn, a race that’s already quite bad for a cleric, but does pump a combat attribute, gives you resistance to a form of elemental damage and also gives you an alternative way to deal damage - a breath weapon. By choosing tiefling as your race you just get resistance, the Thaumaturgy cantrip (which you can already get from cleric levels) and a couple of spells that will be quickly outleveled - Hellish Rebuke as a 2nd level spell and Darkness.

You could use the tiefling race if you wanted a weird multiclass combination that involved wizard and a charisma-based casting class, but this isn’t anything the human or half-elf race wouldn’t be able to handle.


I view the half-elf race as a human subrace that trades some of its attribute bonuses for skill choices and minor goodies like darkvision. Since this race is similar to human, its primary function is multiclassing, albeit with a more specific focus to classes that have charisma requirements and/or benefit from charisma, like bard, sorcerer and warlock.


If you wish to play a strength focused cleric, half-orcs are quite possibly the best choice after the variant human, as they get strength and constitution bonuses. Relentless Endurance is nice to have as a cleric - if you are required to cure someone, it’s best if you can stay up to do so.

Savage Attacks is great with weapons that have a large damage dice, like d12, so make sure to get a domain that provides martial weapon proficiencies, like War or Tempest.

Rock Gnome

As with forest gnomes, this subrace doesn’t offer much to the cleric class and doesn’t even have a dexterity bonus, but a constitution one; at least dexterity-focused forest gnomes have the option to begin with a 16 in dexterity, but rock gnomes can’t do this.

I like the fluff that the Tinker ability has, but it doesn’t offer anything mechanically concrete.

Lightfoot Halfling

Halfling is another race which hints that your combat focus should be dexterity. Unfortunately they don’t get any racial proficiencies like elves do and instead receive a defensive ability (Brave) and Lucky.

Naturally Stealthy is a stealth buff and while it won’t be that useful to a cleric, you can use it regularly when you’re next to teammates; Halfling Nimbleness helps in that regard, too.

The charisma bonus could be useful, if you’re planning to multiclass to bard, sorcerer or warlock (more on this on the multiclassing session).


Compared to other more common races, the Dragonborn seems to be a little luckluster: it boosts strength and charisma, but also gets Breath Weapon, which has a constitution based saving throw; this combined with the fact that you’ll want to max out your wisdom already makes you suffer from multiple attribute dependency, so it’s not going to work easily.

The only notable mention is that there’s some synergy with Tempest clerics and dragonborns with a lightning damage breath weapon, as they can maximize one breath attack per short rest and also benefit from the Tempest cleric’s martial weapon and heavy armor proficiencies, since they get a +2 strength bonus. This combination is ok during the low levels, but spells will quickly make the Breath Weapon obsolete and will be better candidates for Destructive Wrath.

Forest Gnome

There isn’t much synergy between forest gnomes and the cleric class besides the dexterity bonus that they receive and even then, there are better races if you want to focus on that as a combat attribute. Getting Minor Illusion for free unfortunately isn’t going to cut it.

At least Gnome Cunning is a nice ability to have, especially since you have proficiency in wisdom and charisma saving throws from the cleric class.


What I dislike most about this subrace is that’s the only one that actually has a built-in disadvantage on important rolls (attacks and perception); this isn’t balanced by the additional spells that drows receive via their Drow Magic ability, especially since they’re charisma-based.

This fact aside though, if you’re planning to create a dexterity-focused cleric and want to pick a domain that doesn’t offer martial weapon proficiency, drows can really work, as they get proficiency with rapiers and hand crossbows - the first is the highest damage finesse weapon and the latter is a light ranged weapon, usable in the offhand.

The charisma bonus could be useful, too, if you’re planning to multiclass to bard, sorcerer or warlock (more on this on the multiclassing session).

Mountain Dwarf

Mountain dwarves may not provide a bonus to wisdom, but they do offer a +2 increase to both strength and constitution. This almost guarantees that your combat attribute is going to be strength, especially if you combine it with the core dwarf trait ‘combat training’, which offers proficiency with hammers and axes.

Unfortunately, Dwarven Armor Training, which provides you with light and medium armor proficiency goes to waste, since clerics already have proficiency with those armor types.

Since you don’t receive a bonus to wisdom, you can go with a starting 14 and max it out at 12 level, or go with a 15 and choose a feat that increases your wisdom by 1 on one of your level-ups, like Observant, or take the +1/+1 attribute boost option.

Stout Halfling

This subrace gets a constitution increase and Stout Resilience, an ability that gives you advantage on saving throws against poison and resistance against poison damage, making them really similar to dwarves.
Lucky, the ability to reroll 1’s on attack rolls, ability checks or saving throws is a good enough reason to pick the halfling over a dwarf, if you don’t mind going with dexterity as a secondary attribute.

Class Features

A cleric’s playstyle depends a lot on the domain he is going to choose. Unfortunately, not all domains are equal in power; for instance, you could never go wrong if you picked Nature, War or Life as your domain, as they have straightforward abilities. Light, Knowledge and Tempest are weirder: Light is blasty, Knowledge has a couple of abilities that are useful out-of-combat and Tempest is some weird split between a blaster and a melee warrior. Trickery is the worst of them all without an argument.

Nature Domain

domain spells. Most of the options that the nature domain provides are taken from the ranger and druid lists, so your spell list is expanded quite well. Animal Friendship gets you a pet, Spike Growth has good synergy with the Thorn Whip cantrip and Plant Growth is a very good crowd-controlling tool making everyone caught in the area of effect effectively move no more than 5ft per round without a save.

acolyte of nature. Not only you can choose a druid cantrip, but you also have the option of choosing one skill of your choice from animal handling, nature or survival. The cantrip that you’re going to choose is most probably going to be Shillelagh, but Thorn Whip or Produce Flame can work, too.

bonus proficiency. Heavy armor proficiency is very nice to have. If you don’t go with strength as your combat ability (since you can use your wisdom modifier with Shillelagh), then make sure to be a dwarf or a wood elf to avoid or minimize, respectively, the fact that you lack the strength requirement of a heavy armor.
channel divinity: charm animals and plants. This is quite similar to the original turn undead feature, so it’s quite situational, but nice to have.

dampen elements. Grant to you or to a nearby ally resistance to elemental damage as a reaction; you have virtually unlimited uses of this ability, so it’s a very nice thing to possess.

divine strike. I view this ability as the domain’s way to advance your weapon damage in a way similar to the damage upgrade of cantrips at certain levels. Since you’ll most probably be using weapon attacks with this domain, as there aren’t any reliable cantrips available, this ability is very useful.

master of nature. This ability largely depends on how many animals or plants you’re facing, but it can be extremelly potent and single handedly turn a battle. It would be a lot better if you could get the same ability earlier, but, at least, you can affect creatures regardless of their challenge rating.

War Domain

domain spells. For paladins that favor a more martial playstyle, this is a quite good selection of spells. Divine Favor, Magic Weapon and Crusader’s Mantle are paladin spells. Spiritual Weapon is plainly useful as it’s not a concentration spell and it’s always good to have it prepared.

bonus proficiencies. You receive proficiency with martial weapons and heavy armor, so there’s nothing more that you could ask for.

war priest. Get additional attacks as a bonus action, but limited to a number of times equal to your wisdom modifier. The extra attacks may be limited, but it’s always nice to have options with your bonus action when using the attack option, aside from spells. Based on the abilities of the domain, it’s a good idea to use a weapon with high damage dice in order to make the most out of this feature.

channel divinity: guided strike. Spend a Channel Divinity use in order to gain a +10 on an attack roll. This ability essentially enables you to turn an important attack that would normally miss into a successful one; remember that the attack roll need not be one made with a weapon - you can turn a missed spell attack into a hit!
channel divinity: war god’s blessing. Share your Guided Strike with your teammates.

divine strike. I view this ability as the domain’s way to advance your weapon damage in a way similar to the damage upgrade of cantrips at certain levels. Since you’ll most probably be using weapon attacks with this domain, as there aren’t any reliable cantrips available, this ability is very useful. This is the only Divine Strike feature that you can influence its damage type, as it depends on the weapon that you’re using.

avatar of battle. Getting resistance against bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage would be a very good deal, however, it only applies to nonmagical weapons.

Tempest Domain

domain spells. The bonus spells you receive have two functions: one, you receive spells that deal lightning or thunder damage (Thunderwave, Call Lightning, Destructive Wave), on which you can spend your Destructive Wrath ability and two, some utility or blasty spells that most are not on your spell list.

bonus proficiency. You receive proficiency with martial weapons and heavy armor, so there’s nothing more that you could ask for.

wrath of the storm. I’m kind of disappointed by this ability for a variety of reasons. First of all, the damage at low levels is quite good, but it doesn’t scale, so it will quickly not be that impressive; additionally it requires a dexterity saving throw and it can only be used against creatures that are within 5ft of you - using a reach weapon renders you immune to Wrath of the Storm. The thing that bugs me the most, however, is that you kinda have to keep your armor down on purpose; you will eventually get hit regardless of your AC and buffs, but the more that you optimize your defense, the less you will be able to use this. At least you can use this on your reaction, which is always good and is activated when you get hit, which normally doesn’t provoke an opportunity attack.

channel divinity: destructive wrath. Maximize one thunder or lightning damage roll per short rest. Your domain spells already provide some spells that deal that kind of damage and it also works on Wrath of the Storm.

thunderbolt strike. If you find a way to reliably deal lightning damage each round, then this is actually a pretty good crowd-controlling ability, as it doesn’t allow a save. It has good synergy with Polearm Master and a reach weapon, since the Tempest domain already provides martial weapon proficiency. You can trigger this with your Wrath of the Storm ability, but you can also activate it each round by somehow acquiring the Shocking Grasp cantrip.

divine strike. I view this ability as the domain’s way to advance your weapon damage in a way similar to the damage upgrade of cantrips at certain levels. Since you’ll most probably be using weapon attacks with this domain, as there aren’t any reliable cantrips available, this ability is very useful. Too bad that the extra damage that this ability provides is thunder and not lightning - that way you’d be able to activate Thunderbolt Strike on your hits.

stormborn. Get a flying speed whenever you’re not indoors or underground. Simple and nice to have, although I’m certain that there are ways of getting a fly speed earlier if need be.

Life Domain

domain spells. Nothing stands out here, since all the spells are already present in your spell list anyway; some of them you’d probably want memorized for the day, anyway, but a couple of options from another spell list would be more than welcome.
bonus proficiency. Heavy armor proficiency is very nice to have if you choose to use strength as a combat attribute, you’re a dwarf or you’re a wood elf.

disciple of life. Cure additional hit points equal to 2 + the spell’s level whenever you use a spell to cure; it’s good to heal an additional 3 hit points with a first level cure wounds spell, but it doesn’t scale that well, until you get mass cure wounds.

channel divinity: preserve life. Cure hit point damage with a use of your Channel Divinity. This is a good ability because not only it helps you to preserve your spell slots for something other than healing spells, but also you can quite possibly use it more than once per day, as you recover it on a short rest.

blessed healer. Another ability that preserves your spells; this isn’t extraordinarily good, but it can prove useful, especially in the middle of battle during low levels.

divine strike. I view this ability as the domain’s way to advance your weapon damage in a way similar to the damage upgrade of cantrips at certain levels. Since you’ll most probably be using weapon attacks with this domain, as there aren’t any reliable cantrips available, this ability is very useful.

supreme healing. Automatically maximize dice when healing. It’s a very good ability, but at this level I suspect that it will be trivially easy to restore hit points, with maximized dice or not.

Light Domain

domain spells. Now we’re talking! Light domain is the one you should choose if you want flashy, direct damage spells. Scorching Ray and Fireball are all very good at the level that you’re going to acquire them and they stay good for a few levels. Faerie Fire is just awesome, as advantage on attack rolls cannot be underestimated.

bonus cantrip. Gain the Light cantrip if you don’t already have it; good to have.
warding flare. Impose disadvantage as a reaction when an opponent you can see attack you. You have limited uses of this ability per day equal to your wisdom modifier, but using your reaction to activate it is quite nice, as clerics do not have much use for it, aside from opportunity attacks.

channel divinity: radiance of the dawn. This ability isn’t very exciting, but it’s useful during the low levels. It has a quite large area of effect and only targets hostile creatures. Note that it’s not actually a spell, so you can use this and also cast one that has a casting time of a bonus action.

improved flare. Chances are that you’re not going to be in the front line or at least in melee range, based on your class features; this improvement to the flare ability is quite good, since you can now protect teammates that need it more than you do.

potent spellcasting. Currently this is very bad, since the only cleric cantrip that deals damage is Sacred Flame, which does zero damage on a successful saving throw. It may become better as more sourcebooks are introduced, though.

corona of light. Impose disadvantage on saving throws against any spell that deals fire or radiant damage within a 60-foot radius. Considering that most of your bonus domain spells are going to benefit from this feature, this is quite good and it can also help your spellcaster teammates. The bad news are that you need to spend an action to activate this ability, so you’ll have to wait a round in order to cast anything offensive.

Knowledge Domain

domain spells. The spells added to your spell list are ok, but nothing special - it’s a mix of enchantment and divination spells.

Blessings of knowledge. Gain access to two additional languages and two knowledge skills of your choice for which you receive double your proficiency bonus.

channel divinity: knowledge of the ages. It seems to be a good ability if no one in your party has a certain skill or it’s a skill that’s only situationally useful. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use certain tools effectively, as the duration of this power is just 10 minutes.

channel divinity: read thoughts. This is an ability that you’d normally use outside of battle and its quite potent to read the surface thoughts of a target. You can also cast a suggestion spell for free on your affected target and he automatically fails his saving throw.

potent spellcasting. Currently this is very bad, since the only cleric cantrip that deals damage is Sacred Flame, which does zero damage on a successful saving throw. It may become better as more sourcebooks are introduced, though.

visions of the past. This is a quite feature, but it’s mostly fluff and completely depends on how your dungeon master handles abilities such as this.


Channel Divinity: Turn Undead. This is quite a situational ability, but it’s nice to have, especially during the low levels. It affects all undead within 30ft of you and can possibly disable multiple enemies, preventing you and your friends from being overrun by hordes of undead. This ability is replenished after a short rest.

Destroy Undead. Destroy instead of turning undead creatures if their challenge rating is low enough, scaling according to your level. It’s a nice upgrade to your default Channel Divinity, but nothing special; it’s an ability that will make your life easier clearing large amounts of undead mooks.

Divine Intervention. Have you ever been in such a situation, either in- or out-of-combat that no matter what you did would make little difference? This is an ability for those times, giving you a last ditch effort for a deus ex machina to resolve the situation. The ability is vague on purpose, but unfortunately it has little chance of success (10% when you first acquire it) and for a good enough reason, otherwise it would be trivially used.

Trickery Domain

domain spells. The Trickery domain offers a good selection of utility and mobility spells.

blessing of the trickster. This is rather luckluster - you can’t use this ability on yourself, so you have to have an ally that favors stealth checks. Additionally, you can’t use this on multiple teammates, as if you reuse it previous blessings automatically stop. So you can bless a single ally to gain advantage on a single skill check, as many times as you wish in the day.

channel divinity: invoke duplicity. This could have been an interesting feature, but unfortunately it has two serious drawbacks; first, you have to use an action in order to activate it, so you can’t use it in order to further your reach; second, it eats up your concentration, which narrows down the spells that you can use. At least, if you and your illusion are next to the same creature, you’ve got advantage on attack rolls, which is something.

channel divinity: cloak of shadows. You can turn invisible by using your Channel Divinity; it would be a good ability to have if it wasn’t activated as an action - that way you could invoke the ability and immediately gain advantage on your attack rolls - now you’ll have to wait until your next turn.

divine strike. I view this ability as the domain’s way to advance your weapon damage in a way similar to the damage upgrade of cantrips at certain levels. Since you’ll most probably be using weapon attacks with this domain, as there aren’t any reliable cantrips available, this ability is very useful. Unfortunately, it’s not that good compared to the Divine Strike that other domains get because the damage type is poison, as one whole common race (dwarves) and a common subrace (stout halflings) are resistant against poison.

improved duplicity. Creating four instead of one duplicate would be awesome, but it will just increase your spell range, it won’t do anything more about receiving advantage on attack rolls. It would be a lot better if your teammates could receive the advantage on their attack rolls also - at level 17 it sounds like something that you’d be normally be able to do easily.


The cleric class enables you to choose two skills from the following list: History, Insight, Medicine, Persuation and Religion. It’s important to note that in the beginning of the chapter, where the backgrounds are explained, it’s mentioned that if you’d gain the same proficiency from two different sources, you can choose a different proficiency of the same kind (meaning tool or skill) instead. Arguably the best background is the alternative Guild Artisan, the Merchant: just choose Insight and Persuation as your two skills and then choose whatever two skills you like best, probably Perception and something else. They are probably the only background that receives two languages and proficiency in some kind of tool - navigator’s tools. If you want to dump charisma, you could do the same thing with the Acolyte background, but you’d lose the tool proficiency, the cart and the mule.

Guild Artisan

Insight and Persuation are both very good skills and if you already picked them up from your cleric skill list you are free to choose any two skills that you want. You gain access to artisan’s tools and a language, but the merchant variant gives you an additional language, navigator’s tools, a mule and a cart, which is a superior option.


This background offers skill proficiencies in Insight and Religion that you can already pick up from your class skill list, so if you’ve already picked them up you have the choice of receiving two skills of your choice. The two bonus languages are a very nice addition, but this background doesn’t have any tool proficiencies.


At last a background that offers proficiency in the perception skill! Athletics is good to have, too, especially if you have high strength. The tools are not that interesting.


You gain proficiency in thieves’ tools, Stealth and Deception. This is a good option if you want to act as the party’s rogue, as both of the offered skills are good to have and you also gain a good tool proficiency.


Get proficiency in Arcana and History; you could pick them up from your cleric skill list and choose any two other skills, but Arcana and History aren’t the best skills anyway, so you’re better off staying away from this background. Aside from this, the two bonus languages are great.


Proficiency with Atheltics, Intimidation and land vehicles.


Religion and Medicine aren’t the best skills to get proficiency with, but as they appear in your cleric skill list, if you already picked them up from your cleric skill list you are free to choose any two skills that you want. Herbalist kit mentions that you can use it to create potions of healing and you also receive a bonus language of your choice.

Folk Hero

There is nothing much going on for a cleric here - the two skills are related to wisdom, but generally you wouldn’t care for proficiency in them and the tool proficiencies are rather uninteresting.


You gain proficiency with Deception and Sleight of Hand; Deception is quite good, but Sleight of Hand and the two tool proficiencies aren’t that hot.


Proficiency with Sleight of Hand, Stealth and thieves’ tools are the highest points of this background. It’s funny that you get a pet mouse in the equipment section.


You get proficiency with Athletics and Survival; there is no skill or tool proficiency overlap, so this isn’t the best background, but it work if you’re using strength as a combat attribute. Since Survival is related to wisdom, however, I’d prefer to not have proficiency in it and instead rely on my wisdom modifier.


The only reason that you’d want this is for Acrobatics.


Persuation is good and History isn’t that important, but as they appear in your cleric skill list, if you already picked them up from your cleric skill list you are free to choose any two skills that you want. The extra language is always welcome.



As with Observant, get this in order to start with a +2 to wisdom with a variant human, or in order to even out your wisdom score if you started with a score of 15.

You can also use this on constitution, in order to gain proficiency with constitution saves, which is going to help a lot for your concentration spells. Alternatively, if you’re planning to multiclass, it’s good to start your build with a class that grants constitution save proficiency and then get Resilient on Wisdom.

War Caster

You are most probably going to be a frontline caster and all of these abilities are very useful to those that want to cast in melee range. The first ability is perfect, since most of your good buffs are going to be concentration; if you manage to get proficiency in constitution saves somehow, this is going to be even better. The second ability is useful to those that are not going to go with the rules clarification presented by the designers and affix the divine focus on your shield and want to have both hands full with something; this is also the go-to feat to take if you want to play a cleric that dual-wields weapons. Finally, the last ability enables you to forgo your attack of opportunity in order to cast a spell on that creature; this ability needs some setup, as you have to memorize offensive spells that meet certain criteria (single target and casting time of 1 action), but considering that you’re a full caster, your spells will generally have a greater impact than a single attack of opportunity.

Polearm Master

Clerics that somehow pick up Shillelagh will love the Polearm Master feat, because both abilities work with a quarterstaff. You can get both from level 1 if you selected the Nature domain. The feat not only enables you to get another attack as a bonus action, but also spend your reaction on opportunity attacks when a creature enters your reach (something that’s not normally possible).

I would rate this feat navy, if it wasn’t for its dependency on Shillelagh.

Magic Initiate

This gives you not one, but two cantrips from the spellcasting class that you select. This feat is golden with the druid class, which shares wisdom as a casting attribute: the best choice is Shillelagh, enabling you to completely disregard strength and dexterity as a combat attribute; additionally, you can also get Produce Flame as a means to get a ranged attack, albeit with a short range or Thorn Whip, which does a bit less damage, but gives you some crowd control ability, since you can drag large or smaller creatures towards you. You also get a single first level spell, which can be used on Animal Friendship (has 24 hour duration and gives you a free animal companion) or Goodberry (creates 10 berries that if consumed provide enough nourishment for the day).


Getting advantage on rolls, even three times per long rest, can be very potent when you absolutely need it.


Like Mage Slayer, this is a feat for melee clerics. The abilities granted by the feat are really solid and synergistic, for instance, it enables you to hit creatures with opportunity attacks, even if they used the disengage action and if you manage to hit them, they are unable to continue their movement. Sentinel has very good lockdown potential.

Ritual Caster

Ritual Caster for the Wizard class (which has the highest number of [Ritual] spells), is also a good idea and since you will already have wisdom score of 13 or higher, you don’t need to boost your intelligence; [Ritual] spells generally don’t require saving throws that you’d care about. This is also a good way of acquiring the Find Familiar spell without multiclassing to the wizard class.


As noted in the attributes section, get this to even out your wisdom score if you had the points to spend and started with a 15. Alternatively, it’s one of two ways to start with a +2 bonus to wisdom as a variant human.

Medium Armor Master

Basically, if your dexterity score is 16 or higher, you’ve got to spend a feat slot for +1 AC. If you are interested in stealth, you’re spending a feat slot for +2 AC. In both examples, compare the half-plate (15+dex AC, imposes disadvantage on stealth rolls) to breastplate (14+dex AC, no disadvantage).

Spell Sniper

Useful to Light domain clerics that regularly use Scorching Ray or to clerics that really like Guiding Bolt. The bonuses are solid, however due to the lack of spells in the cleric spell list that benefit from them, this isn’t very good.

This feat may prove to be better if you’re a multiclass character or just looking to use a different combat attribute from strength or dexterity, for instance picking Eldritch Blast for your cantrip and focusing on Charisma as a secondary combat stat seems to be ok.


Receive a quite large bonus to initiative and two situational abilities when you’re surprised. The thing here is that while the benefits are good, they are passive and you generally don’t care that much to begin your turn before your opponents, like Assassins do. If you’re thinking of acquiring this feat, do it after you’ve maxed out your main casting attribute.

Heavy Armor Master

A frontliner cleric of the War, Life, Nature or Tempest domain would benefit greatly from this feat during the early levels, especially against multiple enemies that do not deal heavy damage; the character can be exceptionally durable, since he has the ability to cure himself of damage, too.

The feat also increases your strength, providing extra melee synergy.

Great Weapon Fighter

This has great synergy with War clerics, because of their Channel Divinity special feature that gets them to add a +10 bonus - but after they’ve seen their die roll. As long as you’ve got Channel Divinity uses, then you can keep using the feat’s second option and benefit of a +10 damage bonus consistently.

The first ability doesn’t have exceptional synergy for a War cleric, but if it triggers it does save you War Priest uses per day, which is a good thing.

Most of the other domains wouldn’t benefit greatly from Great Weapon Master - they need to be using a heavy weapon and all of them are martial, so that leaves only multiclassing or the Tempest domain, not the most synergistic options.


This may be a good feat for other classes, but I wouldn’t bother picking it up for a cleric; you’ve got cure wounds in order to cover what this feat would give you and if you want to boost your constitution, you’re better off going with the +1/+1 attribute option.


You should only be considering this if you have to do a lot of healing at low levels and you don’t want to choose the Life domain, as 10 uses of a 1d6+4 hit point healing at only 5gp is great. As you get enough levels this feature will be horribly underwhelming.

Do note that the fact that each creature can only receive the benefit of the healer feat only once per long or short rest contributes greatly to the reduction of this feat’s potential.

Weapon Master

The cleric class already has two domains that grant proficiency with all martial weapons; in addition to that, there are certain races that grant weapon proficiencies, like dwarves and elves. If you’re considering getting this feat, then for some reason you have to avoid getting weapon proficiencies through your domain and race, but you also think that a certain weapon or two are absolutely integral to your character build; unfortunately no martial weapon is worth delaying the upgrade to your wisdom bonus and most of the times the difference in damage is about 2-3 points on average.

The boost to your strength or dexterity is a nice selling point, but there are feats that offer better abilities than some weapon proficiencies.

Tavern Brawler

Really useful if you want to make a grappler, this can work if you can cast spells while grappling. A grappled creature has effectively zero speed, which isn’t the best condition around, but it’s quite good if you want to keep an enemy in place. Do note that you’re probably have to get your strength score up and gain proficiency in athletics.


Useful to sneaky characters; if you’re not going to use stealth, then the bonuses are going to be just situational.


Nothing special here - you get proficiency with three skills of your choice; it’s considered to be an even trade for the two attribute points.

Shield Master

Great abilities, but the unfortunate thing of using shields is that you either have to not be wielding a weapon when casting spells with material components, unless you go with the rules clarification presented by the designers and affix the divine focus on your shield.

Martial Adept

The maneuvers are actually nice, however all of them require the expenditure of a superiority die; the fact that the feat provides you only one superiority die, which is recovered after a short or long rest makes it a kinda weak option.


A little bit like the Keen Mind feat, getting three additional languages and a deciphering ability at the cost of an attribute point and a point in intelligence doesn’t seem like a fair trade.

Inspiring Leader

Since this feat provides temporary hit points that is based on your level plus your charisma modifier, it’s a quite good source of extra durability; you can use it after having a short rest, which makes the feat’s value even better.

The only problem is the charisma requirement, which, unless you’re a half-elf or a human, won’t be that easy to meet.


Dungeon Delver

This feat isn’t average - the abilities provided are actually quite interesting, but the problem is that it’s quite situational and depends heavily on the type of the adventure your dungeon master is running. If you’re planning on being the party scout, then pick it, probably combined with a background that grants you access to thieves’ tools.


Use a bonus action to attack when you use your action to Dash. Useful to get into position and attack, too, but it’s not worth a feat.


Bonus to charisma and some charisma-related abilities; this isn’t helpful to a cleric.


Useful, but I’d prefer to get the +2 attribute bonus to constitution, which also helps constitution saving throws (and helps you avoid losing concentration spells).


The ranged counterpart to Great Weapon Master, this has great synergy with War clerics, because of their Channel Divinity special feature that gets them to add a +10 bonus - but after they’ve seen their die roll. As long as you’ve got Channel Divinity uses, then you can keep using the feat’s third option and benefit of a +10 damage bonus consistently.

If you’ve chosen to fight with dexterity, this is a very good pick, as it also removes the disadvantage that you normally get when firing shots at long range and you also ignore half cover and three-quarters cover. For longbow users, this means that you can start fighting at 600feet, which can be deadly - a theoretical opponent with 100ft speed equipped with a longbow has to spend 5 rounds to get close if he wants to fire shots without disadvantage.

Savage Attacker

This is like having advantage on weapon damage rolls alone. While it’s a neat ability to have, it doesn’t offer any solid results and it largely depends on the damage die of your chosen weapon: if it’s something like d8 or d6, then you should really don’t bother at all; however you can get more mileage from this if you get something like a maul (2d6) or battleaxe (d12).

Moderately Armored

You already have medium armor and shields proficiency; you’re better of getting the attribute boost.


Basically it’s a “instead of using the disengage action, attack and receive the same benefit”, as long as you’re threatened by more than one opponent. It’s ok, especially if you consider the speed and the Dash action boosts, but it’s nothing special.

Mage Slayer

If you are going to be a melee combatant, the benefits granted by this feat are overall great - extra attack as a reaction, advantage on saving throws and chance to screw up opponent spellcasters’ concentration checks by imposing disadvantage on the rool.

It’s a pitty that these abilities work when the enemy spellcaster is within 5 feet of you and not within your reach - that way reach weapons could be a lot more useful.

Lightly Armored

You already have light armor proficiency.

Keen Mind

You probably don’t need the intelligence bump and even then, you are better off taking the +1/+1 increase over the situational abilities that Keen Mind provides.

Heavily Armored

If you want to play a cleric in heavy armor, there is a large number of domain options available, as this proficiency is provided by Nature, Life, War and Tempest domains. If you want to be a heavily armored member of Knowledge, Light or Trickery domain and you want to boost your strength instead of your dexterity score, then you can consider this feat, but it isn’t the greatest idea.

Elemental Adept

Light is the only domain that would benefit of picking up this feat, using the fire option; it enables your blasts to avoid minimum damage and ignore resistance.

It’s an option for clerics of the Tempest domain as well, but it doesn’t seem like a good idea; they have a dual element focus on lightning and thunder, and Tempest clerics tend to also use weapons in order to deal damage. Finally, this feat only works on spells and Tempests do have some special abilities that won’t benefit from this feat.

Dual Wielder

Two weapon fighting doesn’t have enough synergy with spellcasting classes. First of all, it eats up your bonus action, which can be used to cast spells (probably of the kind that enhances combat abilities) and use your normal action to attack or cast a cantrip. If you’ve got both of your hands full you will be unable hold on to material components or wield your deity’s holy symbol, so you won’t have the ability to cast spells with material components. Finally, if you use your action to cast a spell, dual wielding is almost useless, as you need to use the attack action in order to attack with your off-hand.

Defensive Duelist

Adding your proficiency bonus to your armor class against attacks is a pretty good ability - even from level 1, it’s like you’re wielding an additional shield and it gets better with levels. You’ve got unlimited uses, but the feat is kinda narrow, as you can only use it with finesse weapons, which means that you’re probably focusing on dexterity, and it applies only against melee attacks - you can’t dodge ranged attacks.

Crossbow Expert

Only useful for clerics that focus on dexterity; since you do not gain additional attacks on your attack action, the first ability isn’t that useful - you will only attack once with each hand crossbow - unless you have chosen the War domain. The second and third abilities are useful if you want to use a hand crossbow in the off-hand.


The movement bonuses are great and you also get a bonus on your combat attribute, however you can live without them.

Posted by
On Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 5:50 AM
Our first 5e session!
Last Sunday we had our first session of 5e and so, since it was quite the joyous occasion for us, I thought that it would be a good idea to take some pictures and share the fun that we had.
Posted by
On Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 5:29 PM
Saving throws statistics
Posted by
On Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 10:08 AM
PHB 5e lexical analysis
Posted by
On Monday, July 7, 2014 at 2:32 PM
The Fighter's Handbook


A fighter might be bland, but thankfully it’s a malleable class. Unfortunately for the player that wants to be a fighter, he doesn’t have the in-game versatility of the spellcasting classes: they can rest, change their spells and essentially be an almost completely different character - their feat and prestige class selection might not be subject to change, but what mostly deals with enemies and helps their teammates is their spells. To make an analogy, a fighter is like cement: you can work with it at first, but once it hardens it’s generally too difficult to make drastic changes; on the other hand, classes that generally rely on spells are like plasteline clay: their attribute (which is basically their color) remains the same, but you can shape it as you wish.

So, since you decided to play a fighter, the best thing that you can do in order to be successful and actually help your party is to come prepared; study the builds of your party members and find out the weak spots; try to fill them in. This is actually a tricky process, since you won’t generally have full knowledge of the builds while you’re making your own, so you’ll have to rely, at least partially, to previous experiences that you had with your friends. You can also get important information that can influence your build choices by your in-game battles, so make sure to keep a few notes when during an encounter something really bad happens to you or to a teammate that could prove to be disastrous to the party.

I felt the urge to write a few words on this subject, mainly because I’ve many times experienced players that make their builds independently of their party. I’ve also heard players stating that they don’t want to play spellcasting classes, because they have a lot of bookkeeping. While that is generally true, this doesn’t mean that fighters don’t have bookkeeping to do; a spellcaster memorizes or selects spells trying to cover as many threats as possible, which is what a fighter should also do - the threats are the same, the only thing that changes is the means they employ in order to deal with them: one has spells, the other has special abilities and weapons. During character creation your cement isn’t dry yet, so you can make any changes you like; try to work with it in order to fit your team best, don’t let it dry and then regret your choices.

Since you already decided that the bulk of your levels will be spent in the fighter class, naturally, you want to be able to use weapons as your main source of damage. This is perfectly fine and there are many different combat styles that you can specialize in that deal a lot of damage. However, you need to remember that there are many ways in order to avoid or be immune to physical attacks; this guide will expand on hitting hard with your favorite weapons or styles, while tackling the subject of what you will actually do when your weapons prove worthless versus your enemies.


The fighter is a class that’s deceptively MAD. At first glance they look like they don’t need multiple statistics, but that’s not the case, as all attributes are beneficial, maybe with the exception of Charisma, which is optional.

However, not all of the statistics need to be kept high. An average starting score in all attributes will serve most fighter builds fine. If the game you are playing a fighter in uses point buy, then make every bit of them count; even with 28 points, you can allocate 14/14/14 in your physical scores, a 14 in your primary mental stat and 10 in the other two.

Spellcasters dump as many points as they can in their primary mental attribute because it gives them extra spells per day and it increases their spell DC. These two abilities are not easily replicated through items or class abilities. Even when you encounter them, they are often difficult to acquire. On the other hand, a fighter can easily get bonuses to hit and to damage, which is analogous to increasing his primary combat atttribute.

What I mention above applies mainly to character creation. After this process you will most certainly try to make the most out of your primary combat attribute using level up bonuses and items, as well as independent boosts to your to hit score and damage.


What people think it’s useful for: melee attack rolls.
What it is actually useful for: damage.

Strength boosts your attack rolls when using melee weapons. Because of this fact, it’s often mistakenly associated with the key attribute of melee combat. In reality, strength is able to boost the damage of pretty much any combat style: ranged (through composite bows), throwing weapons and melee. This is true even for dual wielding builds, which are traditionally dexterity based. Granted, you are getting only one half of your strength bonus on off-hand attacks, so it’s not the best option, but it works.

We have established that you will have to invest in strength to have a cheap and readily available damage source with virtually any weapon. Now the question that you need to ponder on while planning your melee fighter build is if you want to have strength as your main combat attribute. Strength is straightforward, meaning that it won’t bother you and it will just work. You won’t need to rely on feats or class features like Weapon Finesse to switch to another attribute for melee fighting. You will be able to boost it easily with low level spells like enlarge person and fist of stone.

Strength is also useful because it contributes to strength checks and most of the special attacks: bull rush, overrun and trip. Even if you don’t want to use these maneuvers, having a good strength score will provide you some bonus if you are defending against them, as most of them are opposed checks.

As a final note, because of the way that carrying capacity works, strength is an attribute that gives you a marginal benefit even when it’s not even.


What people think it’s useful for: ranged attack rolls.
What it is actually useful for: combat reflexes.

Dexterity is going to be used as your main combat attribute when using ranged weapons like bows, crossbows and throwing axes. The trouble that these builds have is that they need to invest in strength, or they need another source of extra damage like specific feats, such as crossbow sniper or dead eye.

Dexterity increases reflex saves, armor class and touch armor class. The most important of these stats is touch armor class, which is difficult to increase through items and abilities. I am conflicted about its actual usefulness beyond a certain level, though, because it’s far easier to increase attack rolls that it is to increase touch armor class.

Dexterity is a requirement for many different feats, especially for those that fit in the archery and the two weapon fighting styles. One of the most important of them is the combat reflexes feat from Player’s Handbook. This feat, combined with some of its upgrades (for instance, robilar’s gambit) are the basis for builds that use attacks of opportunity as a source of generating extra attacks per round.


Constitution is important for all characters, especially when you are going to be in melee range. Truth be told, if you select the fighter class, you already have a pretty good hit die and good fortitude saving throws, but almost everyone can spare a 14 in constitution before racial modifiers. Whatever you do, try to keep positive bonuses in your constitution, it’s invaluable.


Intelligence is sneakily useful when planning a fighter build.

The first benefit that it provides is obvious: skill points. Fighters get the lowest number of skill points per level up. If you need skill points to fulfill the requirements of a feat or a prestige class, then plan ahead and if need be, get a 12 or 14 in intelligence.

If you need the combat expertise feat for your build, you’ll have to have a minimum of 13 in intelligence, because that’s its requirement. Since the difference between a 13 and a 14 are formidable, compared to the investment, consider spending an additional point to benefit from the extra skill point.


The purpose of this attribute is to boost your will saving throw, especially early in your career, where you will generally be unable to purchase effective equipment that boosts saving throws.

Whatever you do, spend a couple of points to get wisdom to 10. This way, you won’t be getting any negative modifiers, as starting out with a negative saving throw score is going to be brutal. Races that have penalties to wisdom are extremely rare, so that 10 won’t be reduced by racial modifiers.

Wisdom is the key skill for most of the detection skills: listen, spot and sense motive; these skills are useful for any character, but listen and spot are not class skills for the fighter class.

Some feats, especially the Combat Form line, have wisdom as a requirement, but most of them do not have that much of an impact to have a whole playstyle revolving around them.


Charisma is completely optional, which makes it a prime candidate for dumping. It can provide a couple of interesting abilities to your repertoire, but it’s nothing that you can’t live with.

Demoralize is an option that’s provided by the intimidate skill and it’s an effective tactic against enemies that are not immune to mind-affecting effects. If the demoralize attempt is successful, then the target becomes shaken for 1 round and takes a -2 penalty to almost everything. Additionally, fear effects stack, so demoralize becomes better if other people in your party use the same tactic.

This skill check works even if your charisma score is low; however, ever since the sourcebook Drow of the Underdark was released, the demoralize maneuver was improved dramatically, because of a feat named Imperious Command, which has a requirement of 15 in charisma.

class features

Greater Weapon Focus

Fighter 8,Player’s Handbook

Weapon Focus is actually a useful feat, because there is a large number of other good feats that require it, but the benefit it provides you with is horrendous. Greater Weapon Focus on the other hand is only required for Weapon Supremacy/Greater Weapon Specialization and gives you the same benefit, making it a horrible pick.

Weapon Specialization

Fighter 4,Player’s Handbook

Contrary to popular belief, Weapon Specialization’s power completely depends on the build you’re shooting for and can be anywhere from a complete waste of space to a very good damage source. Extra unconditional damage is always welcome, but a +2 bonus per hit isn’t going to do you much good, unless you pump your attacks per round: an archer can easily get +10 from it per round, but it’s next to nothing compared to a charger’s Power Attack feat as a means for extra damage. It’s not even useful as a requirement filler, because it doesn’t oftenly appear as such, contrary to its little brother, weapon focus. The truth about Weapon Specialization is that its bonuses are useful, but usually you’ve got other priorities and you can definitely live without it.

Greater Weapon Specialization

Fighter 12,Player’s Handbook

Getting a total of +2 to hit and +4 to damage for a total of four feats, is a very bad deal. Like Greater Weapon Focus, the benefits this feat provides are too few and you shouldn’t consider it, unless you’re shooting for Weapon Supremacy.

Melee Weapon Mastery

Fighter 4, BAB +8,Player’s Handbook II

Essentially pick a damage type and gain a +2 untyped bonus to damage and attack rolls with all weapons that deal this kind of damage. Compare it to Greater Weapon Specialization/Greater Weapon Focus which combined give one attack bonus less with just one weapon, contrary to a full category of weapons and you’ll understand why they’re just a feat sink.

Even though this is an average feat, you can optimize it a little bit by using it with weapons like the morningstar, which has two damage types, both as a base (acquiring the feats that are required on a morningstar and then selecting two melee weapon masteries with piercing and slashing) or as a backup (if you have weapon mastery [piercing] you can gain the benefits with a morningstar for instance).

This feat isn’t worth the trouble most of the times; it would definitely be worthwhile if it also gave you the benefits of having Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization for a whole category of weapons (i.e. not only their benefits), in order to cut down the required feats so many [Weapon Style] and [Fighter] feats have.

Ranged Weapon Mastery

Fighter 4, BAB +8,Player’s Handbook II

This feat is exactly the same with Melee Weapon Mastery, but it has the added benefit of increasing the range increment of the weapon by 20ft. Higher range is always welcome when using ranged weapons, especially those thrown weapons that have a small range increment. Also note that it’s generally difficult to boost the damage of missile weapons, contrary to melee weapons (strength bonus and Power Attack), so all damage boosts are more than welcome.

Crushing Strike

Fighter 4, BAB +14,Player’s Handbook II

From the trio of “weapon category” feats from Player’s Handbook II, I consider this the weaker of the three. The effect can be considered useful if you have a large amount of attacks per round in order to lessen the penalties of your iterative attacks. Unfortunately, the feat explicitly states that the bonuses last until the end of your current round, which rules out attacks of opportunity.
There is a trick that should be mentioned that involves this feat, sometimes combined with Tiger Claw’s “Blood in the Water” stance: if you have Great Cleave (Supreme Cleave works a lot better) and a bag of rats, well, you can use your first iterative attack to kill a rat and kill the rest of the rats with the extra attacks of Great Cleave, giving you a +1 bonus to attack and possibly to damage. Then you can dump the rest of your attacks on your enemies, possibly after taking a 5ft step.

Do note that according to the Player’s Handbook II Errata, this feat is normally a [Fighter] bonus feat.

Driving Attack

Fighter 4, BAB +14,Player’s Handbook II

If you favor bull rush, then this is a wonderful feat, as it lets you substitute your total damage bonus in place of your strength modifier when initiating a bull rush; because optimizing your attack damage using Power Attack is generally easy to do, you can get incredibly high bull rush checks and thus be able to push your opponents greater distances than normal and even have them fall prone. The fact that this feat is the piercing-themed, makes this fact weird, as it is more of a bludgeoning type ability.

The feat requires you to use a full-round action and make a just a single attack with a piercing weapon in order to activate it, which is normally not that good, as you are denied of your iterative attacks, but by RAW the charge option works just fine. Shield Slam, a feat which activates when taking a full-round or charge action attacking with your shield, has the ability to stack with Driving Attack, if you use shield spikes; the shield spikes entry states “When added to your shield, these spikes turn it into a martial piercing weapon that increases the damage dealt by a shield bash as if the shield were designed for a creature one size category larger than you. You can’t put spikes on a buckler or a tower shield. Otherwise, attacking with a spiked shield is like making a shield bash attack.”, thus you can get both effects together.

Other effects that have synergy with Driving Attack are: the Dungeoncrusher alternative class feature, the Brutal Strike [Fighter] feat, the Combat Brute [Tactical] feat and the Shock Trooper [Tactical] feat. A great weapon to use with this feat would be the morningstar, because it is both a piercing and bludgeoning weapon. You could for example charge an enemy with a morningstar using both hands, activating heedless charge and going all in for damage; Driving Attack activates in the process and you get a huge bonus to bull rush your opponent, in addition Brutal Strike activates, too, and benefits from your high Power Attack damage bonus. Assuming that you can push your foe back enough, you can activate Dungeoncrusher (you can use Directed Bull Rush in order to make this happen easier) and also set up Advancing Blows (from Combat Brute) for the next round. Getting all these effects together can be quite devastating for enemies, as it can very well leave them sickened, prone and next to a wall away from you, set up for a follow up charge the following round (with additional bonuses from Advancing Blows and Momentum Swing). You could even get Hold the Line and Standstill in order to avoid getting charged in return, if your enemy has the ability to stand as a swift action or you didn’t leave them in a prone position.

Do note that according to the Player’s Handbook II Errata, this feat is normally a [Fighter] bonus feat.

Slashing Fury

Fighter 4, BAB +14,Player’s Handbook II

If you favor slashing weapons, you can use this feat in order to gain additional attacks. The main bonus that makes this feat a lot different by those that offer additional attacks, is that you gain two attacks in a standard action, instead of an extra one in a full action. Unfortunately the required feats do not outweight the benefits of this feat, like Driving Attack does and in addition, the penalties that it applies to your attack sequence is very high.

Do note that according to the Player’s Handbook II Errata, this feat is normally a [Fighter] bonus feat.

Weapon Supremacy

Fighter 18,Player’s Handbook II

The benefits this feat provides are useful and nice, but if you consider that it requires a whooping five, taking the space for six out of your eleven bonus [Fighter] feats and that it comes very late in order to build around, it’s not really worth your trouble.

Do note that according to the Player’s Handbook II Errata, this feat is normally a [Fighter] bonus feat.

Martial Stalker

Fighter 1, Ki Power,Complete Scoundrel

Your fighter and ninja levels stack for the purpose of determining the size of your ki pool, as well as your AC bonus. They also stack for the purpose of qualifying for feats that require a minimum fighter level. Even though stacking feats are generally great and have been used in lots of builds (Swift Hunter is a great example for instance), the fighter and the ninja just lack the required synergy: you will mostly be using your ki power on ghost steps in order to enable your one or two dice of sudden strike and the ninja’s armor bonus is not going to be better than wearing an armor.

Daring Warrior

Fighter 4, Grace +1,Complete Scoundrel

Your fighter and swashbuckler levels stack for the purpose of determining your competence bonus on Reflex saves from the grace class feature and the swashbuckler’s dodge bonus to AC. Your fighter and swashbuckler levels also stack for the purpose of qualifying for feats that require a minimum fighter level, such as Greater Weapon Focus. If Martial Stalker is a bad feat, this feat is a joke. It makes you dip two levels into the swashbuckler class, which isn’t the best thing available, and nets you a total of +3 to reflex saves and a +4 dodge bonus against a single opponent (and only against his melee attacks!) over twenty levels. Compared to other stacking feats that made sense, this is just poorly written.

Aligned Strike

Fighter 4+,Complete Champion

Aligned strike is a quite colorful ability and really helps where damage reduction hurts most: the lower levels. For the cost of a [Fighter] bonus feat, you’re getting a free action activated ability that aligns your weapon with one of your alignment’s aspects. The fact that this ability is based on your alignment is significant, as there usually are no hard alignment restrictions for fighters.

Aligned strike also seems to work after an alignment change; although I wouldn’t suggest to anyone to purposely change their alignment in order to benefit from this alternative class feature, it’s important that you get to use it, should such a change occur. Last but not least, in order to get the maximum out of it, although not necessery, you need a non-neutral alignment.

This ability will work best for you, if your fighting style favors multiple attacks that do not deal significant damage; a power attack brute wielding a weapon with both hands will probably find this ability useless, but if you’re favoring dual weapons and their damage isn’t backed-up by damage enhancers (an example would be precision damage), then you’re good to go and should invest in this. It should be noted, that this ability is one of the cheapest ways to align natural weapons.

At any case, there are multiple spells and enhancements that align your weapons; some of them are very cost-effective and there is no reason for you not to use them, unless the cost is an issue. So, if you’re designing a character that’s pretty low in levels and you think that damage reduction is going to be an issue, Aligned Strike is going to serve you well; higher level characters should instead invest in items, barring extreme circumstances (e.g. not having access to your primary weapons for a long period of time, cost-effective damage reduction bypassers not available due to book availability or campaign style, etc).

Rules as written suggests that only melee weapons are aligned until you no longer wield them; ammunition or thrown weapons (and lots of weapons can be effectively ‘thrown’) are charged until the either strike or miss a target, i.e. after you use them. When need arises, this ability can be handy if your party develops tactics around it.

Aligned Strike is a supernatural ability, which is a big negative, as you don’t want your tools to not function when inside antimagic or dead magic zones.

Armor of God

Fighter 8+,Complete Champion

Armor of God is one of those ‘active’ devensive abilities and it’s pretty unique. You can reduce your base Will save as an immediate action in order to gain a bonus to your armor class equal to the amount of the reduction. I’m going to assume that since the armor class bonus is untyped, it applies to touch armor class, just like dodge bonus; otherwise, the ability is below average and you shouldn’t consider investing in it; investing eight levels in the fighter class for it is not worth it.

Armor of God completely depends on your base will score; if you decide to invest in this ability, the obvious optimization is to increase your base will score, by entering prestige classes or dipping; this should occur naturally and not push it to the limits.

The good news is that the effects that target will saves and those that target armor class are not exactly mutually exclusive, but their intersection is relatively small. In order to keep your defenses up while your will save is down, you can invest in immunities; you can’t normally cover them all, but it will give your character an extra degree of protection.

You can safely use this when spellcasters are not around and you need the extra protection, especially against touch attacks. The bad news are that you’re not going to be able to use it round after round - it’s going to eat all of your swift actions and most of the times are vital for a fighter to function properly; however, it should be pretty good when targeted by touch attacks and it does pack a ‘surprise factor’ when used properly. As with Aligned Strike, Armor of God is a supernatural ability and that’s a negative.


Fighter 2+,Complete Champion

Resolute shares a lot with Armor of God; you lower one-half your base attack bonus and increase your Will save instead. Resolute is a lot easier to qualify for, since you can acquire it from level two. Unlike Armor of God, being careful about your prestige class and dips, other than keeping your base attack bonus up, is not required.

This ability enables you to get a large bonus to your Will saves, high enough so that you don’t have to worry about your will save, at least when it’s not your turn. You can safely assume that the bonus will be equal or close to half your character level. It is also a great relief that the bonus lasts for more than just your next saving throw. Moreover, unless you want to keep your base attack bonus high for whatever reason during downtime (e.g. attacks of opportunity) or you want to keep your immediate actions for something more important, you can safely keep this up all the time; defining, however, when exactly your next action ‘ends’ outside of combat, is an interesting issue that you should discuss with your dungeon master.

If the base attack bonus is going to deny you additional attacks on your next action, when you use Resolute on an enemy’s turn, then this alternative class feature will be significantly worse; it’s true that you’re going to lose half your base attack bonus on your first attack, but the penalty lasts until the end of your next action, not the end of your turn. This means that after you make your first attack for the turn, then you get back your base attack bonus and when you check whether you’ll continue attacking (thus choosing to full-attack) or take a move action, your additional attacks will be restored.

Those who will benefit the most from Resolute will be people that have to dip multiple times in classes that have bad Will save scores, resulting at a low base score at high levels. Remember that this alternative class feature is not a solution for bad character planning, but it will mitigate some of the damage that has been done.

This ability is average, but on the other hand, it does only cost a feat to acquire it and you can qualify for it at a low level. Do note that like all alternative class features from Complete Champion, this is a supernatural ability.

Elusive Attack

Fighter 6,Player’s Handbook II

Another alternative class feature that is defensive in nature; unlike Resolute and Armor of God however, this is rather dull and unimpressive. You make a single attack and then get a small dodge bonus to your armor class, which thankfully scales as you get levels, although it is unclear if those are fighter-only levels; only the levels that this bonus increases are mentioned.

This ability is not that good and there are feats that do the job much better. What makes matters worse for those that are thinking of getting it, is that another great alternative class feature, Dungeon Crusher, is a lot better and you can only acquire it at level 6.


Fighter 12,Player’s Handbook II

You spend a full-round action in order to get the ability to attack as an immediate action an enemy that attacks you in melee. I don’t know who thought of this ability, but it’s definitely not worth even considering getting it.
For one, I don’t understand why this doesn’t have a standard action activation. If that was the case and your character didn’t have the ability to pounce, you could at least get a chance to get two attacks through - move up to a target, initiate Counterattack and then, if he attacks you, punish him for doing so.

Two, I don’t get why you get it so high in your career - in perspective, you can use attacks of opportunity from day one of your adventuring days and this ability is fairly similar (okay, most of the times, attacking an opponent in melee range won’t enable you to get an opportunity attack at him, but with the right setup you could effectively do it), so why get it at fighter level 12 (attacks from base attack bonus in a full attack: at least 3), for a chance of only two attacks? If you want to get two attacks per round at the highest base attack bonus, just ask your friendly spellcaster for a haste spell and keep your additional attacks (and your immediate action!).

Bottom line, this ability would be a lot better as a standard action if you could get it at level one or two, where abilities that grant you additional attacks matter most, but at level twelve it’s not worth the feat slot.

Armored Mage

Fighter 1,Complete Mage

Only useful if you’re going to acquire an arcane spellcasting class and even then, there are some arcane spellcasting classes that let you cast in light armor. It is perfectly viable to get some spellcasting ability when you are a fighter for various reasons, but this alternative class feature is better left alone: even if you dip for spells, you’ll have to take this on your first fighter level, which means that your fighter career will be gimbed for quite a few levels; you also have to spend two of your starting skill points on cross-class knowledge(arcana), which, while not that important, it is certainly annoying.

Overpowering Attack

Fighter 16,Player’s Handbook II

Overpowering attack is an ability that resembles a capstone; you could use your bonus [fighter] feat to acquire feats that are far worse than this, however, while it could prove to be a worthwhile addition to certain builds (for instance, attacks of opportunity builds), getting a whooping sixteen levels in the fighter class just for doubling your damage output on attacks of opportunity (since you’re spending a full-round action to initiate this attack and you’re only allowed to strike once), while significantly reducing your damage output on your regular attacks, is certainly not worth it, unless you really know what you’re doing.

Hit-and-Run Tactics

Fighter 1,Drow of the Underdark

A very good ability that boosts your initiative and gives you an additional attribute modifier to damage, albeit conditionally (only against flat-footed enemies). These two effects are almost like two half-feats, considering the effects that Improved Initiative and Craven provide. Fortunately, even though your opponent must be flat-footed, this bonus damage isn’t precision damage, which means that you get to add it against all opponents. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work when flanking.

It’s debatable whether races other than drow and half-drow are able to acquire this alternative class feature, since it’s not stated as a requirement. Some builds are able to incorporate this feature without much hassle, as there are lots of classes and prestige classes that will give you access to heavy armor proficiencies again; the tower shield proficiency is a little rarer, though.


Archetypes are four categories that I’ve got in mind and use them in order to categorize martial characters, based on the way that they contribute to battle.

The brute specializes in hitting hard by optimizing his power attack damage. The Brute is playable at almost all levels, but is really able to come online after the 6th or so level.

The tempest tries to increase his damage output by increasing the number of attacks he gets in a round. Most tempests require many feats, items and class abilities in order to be effective, so tempest builds are pretty late to bloom.

The support employs battlefield control through exotic weapons and combat feats. Even though it doesn’t focus on damage primarily, it’s one of the most effective low-level choices for a fighter and continues to be effective at all levels, depending on your feats.

The blasphemer dabbles with magic to enhance his combat ability. This archetype requires some levels in the abjurant champion prestige class (preferably all five), so it’s playable at the mid level range (around 11-12).


The brute is a traditional compatant type that uses the feat Power Attack as a main source of damage. I decided to nickname this fighter type as ‘Brute’, because of the way that power attack works, reducing accuracy for extra damage. Power Attack is a feat that requires minimal investment in order to work and can easily fit into many builds that want to optimize their damage output. In addition, it is a gateway feat for other, more powerful feats like Combat Brute and Shock Trooper, which is an oddity, as requirement feats are usually a worthless burden (Weapon Focus, for instance).

I will be referring to class abilities, feats and others that double or triple your power attack as power attack multipliers in the rest of the guide. These multipliers are usually x1.5, x2 or x3, but interact weirdly when a character acquires multiple of these, due to the way the D&D mathematics work.

In order to correctly calculate your final power attack multiplier, subtract a single point from each multiplier after the first and add them together. For instance, if you’ve got a power attack multiplier of x1.5, x2, x2 and x3, you end up with the values 1, 1, 2 after subtraction (I’m leaving x1.5 out as the first, but the order doesn’t matter); adding them together yields x5.5.

Be careful for effects that multiply all of your damage, like critical hits; power attack damage is a flat bonus and not additional damage dice (like the flaming enchantment for instance), so it is multiplied. I believe that the best way to tackle this isn’t to apply your power attack multiplier to your power attack damage, add in your weapon damage and then apply your critical hit multiplier to that sum, but rather use the distributive property; to illustrate: a weapon with 1d10 damage, +5 damage from strength +10 power attack damage with an x3 multiplier and a whole damage multiplier of x2 (may be critical hit or the Valorous enchantment for instance) would yield (1d10+5+30)x2 = 2d10+70, but the correct (and honest) to D&D mathematics way would be (1d10+5+10x3)x2 = 2d10+5x2+10x3x2 = 2d10+5x2+10x4 = 2d10+50. This means that you need to eliminate any additional multipliers by combining them and end up with a correct formula.

A Power Attack multiplier is a very powerful tool for the brute and these characters oftenly favor melee, two-handed weapons, which is quite possibly the cheapest multiplier available in the game. For this reason, brutes prefer to pump their strength, as strength gets added x1.5 times to damage when using two-handed weapons; note that this isn’t always the case with brutes: it’s possible to make a brute built around dexterity or wisdom for instance (beware that this also means that there will be a feat toll), because power attack damage doesn’t have any connection to strength, besides needing a score of 13 in order to acquire the feat.

There are many Power Attack multipliers that activate when you’re charging; this is the reason why the brute’s signature move is the charge action. If you want a charging build and you’re looking for a way to deal additional damage, then look no further, as Power Attack is what you want to boost.

Fighting with two weapons and using Power Attack is generally considered to be a very bad idea, not only because you get to add half the amount of the penalty that you apply to your attack rolls (instead of twice that, when using a two-handed weapon), but also because fighting with two weapons incurs additional attack roll penalties (best case scenario, -2 to both hands). Additionally, two weapon fighters prefer light weapons, in order to lessen their penalties, but you can’t Power Attack with those, so you’re forced to spend additional feats in Oversized Two-Weapon Fighting. If, besides these warnings you still want to make a build that incorporates Two Weapon Fighting and Power Attack effectively, look in the prestige classes section, in the entries of Exotic Weapon Master or Revenant Blade, but do note that they both use double weapons.


The tempest is a fighter archetype that tries to maximize his damage output by getting as many attacks per round as it is possible. Out of the four archetypes, this takes the heaviest feat toll and is generally seen as a late bloomer; if you follow the core approach in order to build your tempest (i.e. using the Two Weapon Fighting feat line), this is actually correct, due to the base attack bonus requirements of iterative attacks, off-hand or not. There are other ways to get additional attacks, but the worst problem that any tempest build must address is improving his damage per hit.

Two Weapon Fighting is normally reserved for characters that have additional bonus damage. A dual-wielder must take advantage of his superior number of attacks by relying on effects which add damage to each attack, like sneak attack or the flaming weapon property. The fighter class doesn’t normally have access to a source of high precision damage, like sneak attack; actually there’s an alternative class feature in Unearthed Arcana that trades [Fighter] bonus feats for sneak attack dice, but I won’t cover that here. Keep this in mind when selecting the Two Weapon Fighting feat, as maximizing your damage per hit can be quite difficult.

The tempest’s choice of weapons probably has the biggest impact on his gameplay out of the four archetypes; this is because of the assosiated penalties (usually to your attack rolls) when wielding weapons that are not appropriate to your selected feats.

Melee Tempest

One of the most traditional builds, the melee tempest usually selects Two Weapon Fighting and its follow-up feats; most opt to use twin weapons, in order to benefit from weapon-specific feats, like Weapon Specialization; since the Two Weapon line of feats have a high dexterity requirement, Weapon Finesse often appears in these builds as a means to reduce multiple attribute dependancy. I know that many of the readers came here in order to get advice with this build in mind, but, unfortunately, this is not going to cut it; you are better off with a rogue, scout or even a swift hunter character type that has easy access to additional damage dice in order to maximize his damage output.

A melee tempest is extremely dependent on mobility: if he can’t full-attack an opponent during his round, then all the feats he has invested in are worthless. For that reason, tempests are required to acquire abilities that enable them to move around the battlefield as a swift action, in the case that he is unable to reach an opponent. Additionally, baring size increases, a tempest won’t have access to large reach easily, making battlefield mobility necessary to the tempest.

A melee two weapon fighter will have to address the following issues:
- Multiple Attribute Dependency as is, both dexterity and strength are useful: dexterity is a requirement for the Two Weapon Fighting feat chain and strength gives you bonuses to hit and damage with melee weapons. The damage part with two weapons is a little problematic unfortunately, as you don’t get your full strength modifier to damage. In order to improve on this, you need to shift either to strength or to dexterity; this could be possible by getting Weapon Finesse and Shadow Blade feats for example in order to make a build with a focus on dexterity. Alternatively, you could dip into the Ranger class, which offers the Two Weapon Fighting feat at second level, without you having to meet the prerequisits for it (dexterity score of 15).
- Feat Toll: Switching your primary attribute to dexterity or strength can be done, but requires an investment in feats or dips; for example, switching fully to dexterity requires Weapon Finesse and Shadow Blade, which are going to reserve at least four of your feats. You can overcome this by using items; for example, a feycrafted light weapon gives you the benefit of the Weapon Finesse feat and the Gloves of the Balanced Hand from the Magic Item Compendium either provides you with the Two Weapon Fighting feat if you don’t already possess it, or upgrades it to the improved version if you already possess it; this is particularly useful for characters who do not want to invest in dexterity.
- Weapon Choice: Use a two-handed weapon and use armor spikes as your off-hand weapon. With this method, you can benefit from high strength and have a light off-hand weapon that you can use without holding it into your hands. In addition, using weapons such as this, you can also select a martial reach weapon, There are many alternatives to this method that I’m going to list below.


There are certain times during a battle that dealing damage isn’t the answer to dispose of your opponents. The support fighter understands the need to enhance his martial prowess with additional combat options; while the main focus of the support is still to dish out damage, by making his focus broader he won’t be able to deal as much damage as a more specialized fighter build, so he makes up for it by providing teamwork to the table. As I’ve already analyzed in the guide’s preface, there is a need to build and plan your build before you bring your fighter to play; this is not only true for the support, it is an absolute requirement: if there are no other builds to synergize your abilities with, then your effectiveness will be reduced. This is they style to go for, if you want to play a fighter that controls the battlefield by denying actions and debuffs opponents.

The support isn’t a passive buffer, i.e. he doesn’t have the role of the spellcaster who provides significant buffs to his party and the martial characters are the ones that actually do the heavy-lifting; it’s more appropriate to view the character as the enabler, a character that can easily enhance the combat abilities of his teammates, while also taking part in the heavy-lifting.

Even though I don’t believe the party role that’s known as the “tank” is viable in D&D, the support is as close as you can get to a fighter type that stops enemies from ignoring you and attacking the spellcasters in your party, due to his battlefield-control abilities.

Fear tactics can have devastating effects against humanoid enemies, because the fear conditions stack; these tactics are not useful against all enemies, because almost all fear effects are [Mind-Affecting]. When enemies can be influenced by fear effects, they are a very easy way to disable enemies or to heavily debuff them, making it easier to be influenced by other disabling effects. The support can contribute to these tactics by using the demoralize combat mechanic, by using the intimidate skill, a skill that will almost be a class skill for the fighter or most of the classes he will choose to enter. You need to threaten an enemy in order to demoralize him, so it’s best to choose a reach weapon. The feat Imperious Command from Drow of the Underdark is a very powerful feat that you could select if you want to demoralize enemies, regardless of party tactics, but has a requirement of 15 charisma. Obviously you need to max out your intimidate skill, get any skill synergies that you can spare (e.g. five ranks in the bluff skill, assuming you get it as a class skill by the acquisition of an alternate class level or prestige class) and the Never Outnumbered skill trick from Complete Scoundrel. The Zhentarim Fighter substitution levels from the web enhancement of Champions of Valor are especially useful for fear tactics, as you gain various demoralizing-related abilities on your dead fighter levels (skill focus, extended intimidation and swift demoralization), without losing anything for them and they also give you bluff and diplomacy as class skills. The [Regional] feat Dreadful Wrath from Player’s Guide to Faerun is especially good for this kind of build can be worthwhile, depending on your charisma score.

Battlefield movement is also an important factor that can be attributed to the support if need be. The most useful spell in order to make this happen is Benign Transposition, as it’s low level and cheap to have a wand or an eternal wand. The reasoning behind it, even though you’re losing attacks in the process, is to get better positioning while helping a teammate in the process. For example, if you favor a lockdown build and a teammate is being grappled, it’s a no brainer that swapping places is favorable for both of you.


The blasphemer is a special type of fighter that typically dips into a primary caster or accelerated caster class and then advances that class’s spellcasting using the Abjurant Champion prestige class, in order to gain the maximum benefit of his 5th level ability, which makes your caster level equal to your base attack bonus, very beneficial to the fighter class. I decided to name this type of fighter a “blasphemer” instead of using the usual “gish” name, as the focus of these builds is not getting maximum spellcasting and base attack bonus, but to provide a fighter with a handful of utility spells in order to give him an unusual edge in and out of combat; hence the name, because he breaks one of the most important character optimization commandments: “Thou shalt not lose caster levels” and because suggesting the introduction of spells as a backup to martial character is not going to sit well with those players that prefer ‘pure’ fighter-types.

The single most important feature that enables this type of fighter, is the Abjurant Champion’s Martial Arcanist, because it gives your low level spells a very good caster level, almost equal to your level. Abjurant Champion is intended as a prestige for arcane casters, but keep in mind of the Adaptation part in the class’s entry in Complete Mage, which states that you may work with your dungeon master in order to re-fluff it as a divine (which is easily done) or even a psionic prestige class. The prestige requires you to spend a feat in Combat Casting, which will not be useful in game, but the prestige is very rewarding and is well worth the single feat investment. The blasphemer doesn’t mostly care about mutliple attribute dependancy, as most of the times he sinks several points in intelligence for Combat Expertise or wisdom in order to keep his will saves up and he isn’t likely to cast spells higher than 4th level.

Without getting into much detail, the blashemer is able to: use key low-level spells (Enlarge Person, Protection from X, etc) without relying on friendly spellcasters; save large amounts of cash by casting Magic Weapon, Greater and/or Magic Vestment, Greater, possibly in conjunction with a lesser rod of chaining at high caster level; if the blasphemer wishes to play a mounted character, he can spend a feat on Improved Familiar and select the Hippogriff or the Howler as a mount that scales according to his own level; spend a feat on Craft Magic Arms and Armor in order to save cash and benefit from “experience is a river” tactics; Arrow Mind enables archers; depending on the situation, you could carry multiple exotic weapons and use the best one at no penalty by casting Master’s Touch; always have a floating [Fighter] feat by casting Heroics.

brute & tempest hybrid

Combining these two archetypes is straightforward: you’re trying to maximize attacks per round and power attack damage.

Fighting with two weapons and using Power Attack is generally considered to be a very bad idea, not only because you get to add half the amount of the penalty that you apply to your attack rolls (instead of twice that, when using a two-handed weapon), but also because fighting with two weapons incurs additional attack roll penalties (best case scenario, -2 to both hands). Additionally, two weapon fighters prefer light weapons, in order to lessen their penalties, but you can’t Power Attack with those, so you’re forced to spend additional feats in Oversized Two-Weapon Fighting. If you want to make a hybrid build that incorporates Two Weapon Fighting and Power Attack efficiently, then you’ll have to use the Exotic Weapon Master or the Revenant Blade, but do note that they both use double weapons in order to achieve this.

Another option is acquiring multiple natural attacks, which does not affect your attack routine, but, since natural attacks are considered to be one-handed attacks, you don’t get the multiplier to the power attack damage, as two-handed weapons do.

These characters want to take as many full-attacks as possible in a given fight, so, since their weapon selection is usually limited, they try to acquire additional ways to move for free or just charge, dipping into Barbarian for the Lion Totem Barbarian alternative class feature. Shock Trooper also is a very useful feat, because it lessens the attack penalties while providing you with full Power Attack power.

brute & support hybrid

One of the easiest hybrids, this fighter acquires a bit of crowd-controlling feats, like Brutal Strike and Driving Attack that directly benefit from having a high Power Attack damage output.

These hybrids also use multiple feats that augment bull rushing, like Pushback, Knockback, Shock Trooper and the alternative class feature Dungeoncrasher.

brute & blasphemer hybrid

This combination specializes in maximizing his Power Attack damage through magic means, for instance by getting touch attacks (e.g. the spell Wraithstrike is a staple feat that enables that kind of thing).

Since the blasphemer can also acquire strong mounts through the Improved Familiar feats, a mounted brute also works in order to receive some cheap Power Attack modifiers, like spirited charge.

tempest & support hybrid

There are multiple attack modes, like trip, disarm and grapple and these do not depend on damage, but they do cost an attack. Getting additional attacks are very useful in order to make these work and the tempest provides a solid base for this kind of crowd control.

Additionally, feats like Boomerang Daze and Three Mountains directly benefit from a high number of attacks per round.

Finally, a special type of feats exist mainly in Complete Warrior (but also other books), called [Style] feats. These feats give you additional benefits for fighting with two specific weapons and for this reason they regularly require the Two Weapon Fighting feat, like High Sword, Low Axe.

tempest & blasphemer hybrid

Tempest + Blasphemer = A two-weapon fighter that enhances his weapon damage or his attack rolls with spells

support & blasphemer hybrid

Support + Blasphemer = Bladeweave, exotic weapons


the odd-level horror

Simply put, don’t make builds with an odd number of fighter levels.

Readers that are following the optimization community are familiar with this notion; as a matter of fact, it is number six of Caelic’s ten commandments of practical optimization.

The reasoning behind this commandment is that you are getting nothing new from those fighter levels and you are better off dipping in other classes (with a strong preference on those that feature full base attack bonus), in order to get additional special abilities. However, do keep in mind that this piece of multiclassing advice is only true for finished builds. Do not be afraid to enter a prestige class after five fighter levels. Many prestige classes have a base attack bonus requirement of +5 or +7. You can get that even fighter level later in your build and at the same time you will grab a bonus [fighter] feat. If you plan everything beforehand, getting that feat may be more powerful, too, as you will be able to fulfill additional requirements (e.g. higher base attack bonus).

However, do note that a good break-off point for dipping and switching to prestige classes is the sixth fighter level, because the bonuses you’re getting at that level (additional attack and two feats) increase your power exponentially.

The first checkpoint: Level 6

Assuming that you are a level 6 fighter, this is level is a very important one and will increase your combat value exponentially. The reason is simple: there are just many feats and features that have a base attack bonus requirement of +6, you will be receiving two feats at this level (one from fighter levels and one general feat from your levels) and you have already increased one of your attributes to 15 (remember, optimal attribute allocation is spending no more than 1:1 for fighter classes!), which appears in many different feats. If you are using feat retraining, which you should, if it’s allowed in your game, remember to start retraining feats at around level 4, in order to be able to fulfill requirements at this level.


At the start of your career almost all aspects of your character are going to be on the low side: your saves will be around +2 on average at best, you will get more attack bonus from your strength than your base attack bonus and you’ll be struggling to even get a masterwork weapon of your choice. However, your starting hit points are going to ensure that you are not going to die in a single hit and you’ve got to work on getting the most out of the single thing you’ll have lots of: feats.

However which feats should you get? The usual martial gems are either not going to perform that well (due to lacking numerical bonuses) or they will be unavailable (due to requirements). So what should you get? Well, there is a certain category of feats that seem to be unimpressive and that’s generally true, but they all have one thing in common: flat, fat (compared to your low-level statistics) bonuses to areas that hurt people (which is attack bonus and damage, almost exclusively).

Optimal low-level tactics include:

Denying your opponents of weapons

Which generally means two things: Improved Sunder and Improved Disarm. Power Attack + Improved Sunder is an extremely common start for many different builds, a lot more common than Combat Expertise + Improved Disarm, but they both have a single benefit: you can hit huge numbers with both, weighting the contested roll towards you and, incidentally, denying people of their weapons is going to render them useless, if they don’t have anything better to attack you with, which means that these effects pack optimal execution and resolution, which is rare.

To give you an idea, at first level you can get +1 from BAB, +2 from strength, +4 from the “Improved” feat and +4 for fighting with a two-handed weapon, which is a bonus of +13; if you add in that this may be happening while you’re flanking the target (+2) and that a friendly spellcaster may have casted an Enlarge Person spell on you (+4 from size), you can easily get it up to +19, without resorting to obscure sourcebooks for optimization (everything is from Player’s Handbook); in addition most weapons that are able to disarm give a bonus +2 to the disarm roll.

Both maneuvers are attack options, so you can use them instead of attacking; this also means that you can use them when receiving attacks of opportunity.

Utility: You can use Improved Disarm to grab stuff from opponents and you don’t have to only sunder weapons and armor. This is by no means a complete list, but just keep in mind that you can grab or break amulets, rings, ammunition, holy symbols (divine focus), spell component pouchs, artifacts, wands, spell focuses, quivers and really anything that seems to be important to or shiny on your enemy. Keep an eye out for important equipment.

Why they fail later: first of all, in the case that you face an opponent that doesn’t use weapons, both feats will fail. In addition, as you gain levels, opponents will be increasingly independent of weapons, either through spells and special abilities, or through backup weapons.

You could retrain the Improved Disarm to something more useful, as it’s not used as a requirement (unless you want to get Crescend Moon for whatever reason). Improved Sunder is a lot more common as a requirement feat (Combat Brute for instance), but sundering magical weapons that are going to be part of your loot is not a good idea and it’s seen as a very big “no-no” on most gaming tables I know of; in the first few levels, don’t be afraid to sunder weapons and armor, as they will probably be worthless and you won’t lose much - worst case scenario: you’re losing a masterwork item that you or your party’s spellcaster can make it for you at a discount price. In later levels, a simple detect magic spell will tell you whether an item is magical or not, but also note that weapons that are enchanted also have higher hardness and hit points, so, assuming you don’t mind wasting an attack to figure out if the weapon is magical or not, the rule of thumb is that “if it doesn’t break on ~20 damage, it’s probably magical and therefore not worth breaking”.

Attacks of Opportunity

Combat Reflexes is a wonderful feat in many different builds, especially in lockdown builds, but, you can use it as it was probably originaly intended - gaining more attacks per round. In order to optimize your attack roll, you can employ feats like Deft Opportunist (assuming you have the necessary dexterity) and/or Expert Tactician (which also gives buffs to your teammates).

Assuming you select all three feats, you’re getting +6 to attack rolls and +2 to damage rolls at just level 2 with attacks of opportunity, which gives you a nice buffer of attack bonus in order to spend maximum points for Power Attack. By the way, you won’t be able to activate Power Attack when making the attacks of opportunity, but any penalty that you took to your attack roll in your normal turn will carry over to your attacks of opportunity! So, if you want to use these together, make sure that you use Power Attack on your turn.

In order to get the most out of this tactic, you should really invest in a reach weapon (or an exotic weapon proficiency for a spiked chain) and a way to increase your size to large for the increased damage and reach (usually comes from an enlarge person spell casted by a friendly spellcaster).

Faerunian Charging

If we’re talking really low level, a first level human fighter from the Shaar can get Rhinoceros Tribe Charge from Shinning South (it’s a [Regional] feat) and Powerful Charge from Miniatures Handbook or Eberron Campaign Setting, wield a greatsword and deal 4d6 + 1d8 + str*1.5 damage every time he charges, or 6d6 + str*1.5 if enlarged, which is a very good amount, since you can do this all day long. Of course, as you gain levels this tactic will quickly lose ground, favoring Power Attack and damage multipliers (such as Leap Attack, Spirited Charge, etc), but you can keep this trick running for the first few levels before you retrain your feats to something more viable for later. By the way, I don’t think that greater powerful charge is worth it, just for a +1d6, mainly because it requires a +4 or better base attack bonus, just when you’ll be looking to retrain these feats in order to get something cool on your sixth level.

A cool trick that you can also combine with low-level charging is bashing people with your shield; you can fit in Improved Shield Bash and Shield Slam into your build, which will enable you to make a free trip attempt.

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On Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 1:37 PM