The Duskblade's Handbook

Why Duskblade?


Why would anyone want to play a duskblade? They can't blast cities with the powerful spells a sorcerer gets, or have the versatility of a wizard in spell selection. He doesn't get bonus feats like a fighter or ranger for combat nor the powerful defensive abilities of a paladin. With all that in mind they are considered a below average class. However note that with the right feats duskblades are able to deal ridiculous amounts of damage concentrated in one hit. Duskblades are intellectual warriors.

Duskblades are mainly support characters. They can't specialize in fighting or spellcasting as other classes do. However if your party already has the four main types (meaning warrior, arcane spellcaster, divine spellcaster and skill-monkey) you can really shine as the fifth member, assisting in combat while blasting things up. By selecting a few tactical spells, you will easily get the role of the leader in a party.

While duskblades can be described as arcane gish, they don't need clever dips in prestige classes to acquire as high base attack bonus and spellcasting as possible. In fact they do fine even without prestige classes and they get their most powerful ability at medium to high levels.

Basic Stats:

Full Base Attack Bonus
d8 Hit Die
Good Fortitude and Will saves
2+int skill points

Essential Abilities:

Duskblades are arcane gish-in-a-can. As such they benefit from high:

Strength: Generally melee combat relies heavily on strength. After all duskblades are a melee class with a high base attack bonus.
Constitution: While your hit die isn't crappy, you still need all the hit points you can get. Also helps concentration checks. 
Intelligence: Though important for your spellcasting, you actually need only 15 to be able to cast 5th level spells. You can keep it low if you don't care for spells difficulty classes. Duskblades get a huge number of spells per day, so it isn't important for bonus spells either.
Wisdom: Not an essential stat per se, but because the main way of expanding a spell list, without dips, is through Arcane Disciple.

There is virtually no reason for you to boost dexterity. Your AC can be kept high with a good suit of armor and your attack bonus is just fine with strength. Charisma is a dump stat.

Class Abilities:

Spells: Duskblades gain a small selection of arcane spells. They cast like a sorcerer does and their key ability for spellcasting is intelligence.
Arcane Attunement (Sp): Allows the use of a selection of cantrips 3+int times per day. Note that the sourcebook Drow of the Underdark contains several feats that augment your spell-like abilities. If retraining is an option and the sourcebook is allowed, make sure to take them for the first few levels.
Armored Mage (Ex): This ability lets you use ignore arcane spell failure with some armor and shield types.
Arcane Channeling (Su): Probably the duskblade's signature ability, the one that lets you deliver a touch spell with a melee attack.
Quick Cast: Essentially a "sudden quicken" feat.
Spell Power (Ex): Gives you a bonus to overcome an opponent's spell resistance if you have hurt him with a melee attack. Handy.

Races:


Races suitable for Duskblades generally need to have melee ability while being able to backup spellcasting as well. Strength and constitution boosts are nice, as intelligence. Small races are not generally optimal for duskblades due to strength hits. Moreover, you are not going to get reach by enlarging a small race (through enlarge person for instance).
Bonus feats are welcome. Duskblades don't receive bonus feats, even though they are combat oriented.
Humans PHB: Bonus feat and skill points greatly help the duskblade who is lacking in both areas. This is probably the best race you can pick.
Silverbrow Humans DM: Human bonus feat and dragonblood subtype is a nice combination if you want to choose feats available to dragonblood characters only.
Half Orcs PHB: The strength boost helps any melee build and duskblades can recover easily from a small intelligence hit.
Goliath RoS: Huge bonuses for a melee build. +4 strength and +2 constitution along with powerful build is well worth the +1 level adjastment, which can be bought off.
Dragonborn of Bahamut RotD: Con bonus is always nice and if with Mind draconic aspect duskblades gain nice bonuses, including the awesome blindsence at 15th level.
Half-Giants EPH: Bonuses to strength and constitution and a minus to dexterity along with powerful build. As with goliaths it is more than worth it in a melee build. Also half-giants duskblades can use psionic feats.
Azurins MoI: As humans, a nice race for duskblades with touches of incarnum.

Combat:


Your role in battle is simple. Position yourself well, provide flanking bonuses to your teamates, use your channeling ability whenever possible and protect your friends using your spells at your best ability.
Levels 1-2: At this point you haven't acquired your channeling ability yet. Hopefully your first level feat is power attack. Grab color spray and true strike as your spells. Magic weapon is another choice that'll get you through most of the battles you'll face. If applicable, try to disable as many enemies as you can with your color spray and then coup de grace them. Otherwise use true strike and/or a flanking position and power attack to capitalize damage output.
Levels 3-5: This is the first time you acquire your channeling ability, but you haven't yet a bonus attack from high BAB. That means you'll going to be channeling most of the time. Get shocking grasp as soon as possible, you'll be channeling that most of the time. At 5th level you are receiving 2nd level spells, so get dimension hop to enhance your mobility. Also, get rid of color spray, it won't be able to affect most enemies. Get ray of enfeeblement to debuff people. Knowledge devotion will net you another bonus point to damage and attack rolls. At third level, assuming an enemy wearing a lot of metal and using a two handed weapon, you get a +4 to attack and +3 BAB. Spending all your BAB to power attack, you are attacking at a total of +4 for weapon damage + 7 + 3d6. Quite impressive.
Levels 6-12: You can channel, but you also have extra attacks from high BAB. Most of the times i'd vote for arcane channel, but normal attacks have their uses. At 9th level you get vampiric touch. This spell is going to be your bread and butter channeling spell as it combines offense and defense.
Levels 13 and later: Now you get your full-attack channeling. Switch to a reach weapon and start positioning yourself to affect as many enemies you can with your arcane channeling ability.

Useful Rules:


About Full Attacks: Reach is ok to have, but sometimes moving can get you more targets, as well a more strategic spot in the battlefield. You can move when performing a full attack: The only movement you can take during a full attack is a 5-foot step. You may take the step before, after, or between your attacks.
About Two Handed Weapons: You need to provide the gestures required to channel a spell. Somatic Weaponry normally covers that. You can save a feat though by following this ruling here: Although the rules don't mention it, letting go of a two-handed weapon with one hand or putting a free hand back on the weapon is a free action for you.

Feats:


What to Look for:

So you are playing a duskblade. That means you have 7 available general feats to work with, not counting flaws or racial bonus feats. Combat casting is a bonus for you, even though it's not that important, unless you want to fulfill a requirement. That means you are looking for stand-alone feats or small feat-chains. With that in mind, try to avoid useless feats that are just used to get something better (an unrelated example is dodge and mobility for spring attack, while the resulting feat is nice, its requirements are below average) or feats that are used to switch your main fighting ability to dexterity, like two weapon fighting and its improved versions or weapon finesse. They are very good, but just not for this class. Good feat examples are power attack, knowledge devotion, arcane strike and obtain familiar.

General Feats

Arcane Disciple:A way to expand your spell list a little and enrich it with some touch spells to use with your arcane channeling.
Draconic Aura: Useful in many situations. If you choose the energy aura you get a bonus on your spells difficulty class. If you are of the dragonblood type the bonus is dependant on your level. It is a way to have normal DCs.
Extra Spell: According to how your DM interprets this, it may let you choose a spell not from your spell list. Even if that isn't the case it still benefits you a lot, due to your small number of spells known.
Obtain Familiar:Familiars get to deliver touch spells, which duskblades have a thing for and provide you with some bonuses. Besides that, familiars improve your skills through aid another, they can act as scouts and even advance your roleplaying possibilities if they talk. A feat for a companion is a great trade in my book.
Improved Familiar: Improves your normal familiar to something greater. Imps and coure eladrins are probably the best candidates. Your high BAB and hit points though make familiars of medium size (like small elementals, mephits or other improved familiars) and high strength a formidable fighting companion.
Practised Spellcaster: Mainly for multiclass duskblades. Hopefully you will follow my advice on single classed duskblades and you won't need this.
Knowledge Devotion: You have all knowledges as class skills and this feat actually connects your skills with your fighting capabilities. It's interesting and very useful. For example compare it with weapon focus or weapon specialization: just by expending a few skill points (5-6 really) you get +1 to hit with all weapons AND damage. You can then use your power attack and transform it to +3 damage with your two-handed weapon, essentially getting something better than both feats. And that is only if considering the least bonus you can get from the feat. It is a very good choice as a 3rd level feat.

Combat Feats

Arcane Strike: Duskblades with their huge number of spells per day can fuel arcane strike with little trouble. Also check this post on how arcane strike really works.
Battle Casting: Gain some dodge bonus if you cast a spell. Since you will be melee most times this helps. Also you get combat casting as a bonus feat.
Battle Caster: With your Armored Mage ability maxed out and this feat you can wear any type of armor and heavy shields without arcane casting failure. Ok if your mind is set on wearing heavy armor, but note that you are better off using mithral material.
Combat Expertise: A requirement feat for improved trip/disarm. Due to your high base attack bonus you can actually benefit from it. At low levels you can use it along with power attack and true strike to optimize your damage, attack bonus and defense in melee.
Deformity (tall): Requires willing deformity. The mechanics of this and inhuman reach are pretty much the same. It is a question of flavor which one should you use.
Exotic Weapon Proficiency: The best weapons with reach generally are exotic. Spiked chain and whip are some of the choices.
Improved Trip/Disarm: Tripping is considered an attack option so it doesn't interfere with your arcane channeling ability. Benefits from a high strength.
Inhuman Reach: Sure it requires a worthless feat to get, but reach helps you much!
Martial Study/Stance: To enchance the combat abilities of a duskblade, maneuvers and stances can provide nice benefits especialy when you can use them while channeling. One maneuver of note is White Raven Tactics that can be used on yourself. That's essentialy a double full channeling attack. Getting martial study in the white raven school at early levels nets you diplomacy as a class skill, which will let you act as your party's face if needed.
Power Attack: Great base attack bonus and ability to cast true strike can result to nice damage boosts. Make sure that you use a two handed weapon. That way you get double the penalty you apply to your BAB. It scales nicely at all levels and synergizes with the other suggested abilities that provide bonuses to your attacks (arcane strike, knowledge devotion, improved familiar flanking bonuses, etc).
Spellcasting/Metamagic Feats

Arcane Preparation: This helps you to apply metamagic to your touch spells and still be able to channel them. Because you are a spontaneous caster, if you apply a metamagic feat to one of your spells, it then becomes a full-round action, making it unable to channel. I highly recommend against taking metamagic feats to your duskblade. Moreover, rapid metamagic is strictly better than this.
Eschew MaterialsIn the case you are channeling a spell with material components and have both hands full, you still need to provide the component needed for the spell to work. According to the quoted rules however, you probably won't have to use this or Somatic Weaponry. Check with your DM.
Rapid Metamagic: Use it with your favourite metamagic feats for channeling.
Somatic Weaponry: Same as eschew materials, but better depending on point of view.
Poison Spell: After 13th level, you basically expend one use of poison to apply it to many targets, which is a bargain in my book. Poison Spell can be combined with the Master of Poisons feat, to force your opponent to save against two poison checks in just one attack. You can get good poisons for a low gold cost if you craft it yourself or if you extract it from your familiar (and Obtain Familiar/Improved Familiar are already great feats for a Duskblade), like a viper or an imp. Check Akalsaris's poison handbook to get some information on the most useful substances you can use.
Versatile SpellcasterSince you already have a huge amount of spells per day, the cost is not big. In case you use cantrips to fuel 1st spells or 1st spells to fuel 2nd, you get 1-1 spell level ratio. Works especially great with rings of wizardry.

Retrainable Feats

This section covers feats that are useful for low levels, but become increasingly useless as you gain levels. Note that these feats are color-graded for the level (and 2-3 more) that first become available, afterwards you'll need to retrain them.

Fascinating Illumination: You can get this feat at first level because you can cast dancing lights as a spell-like ability 3+int times per day, from the duskblade's arcane attunement ability. At the first few levels, the ability to cast hypnotic pattern 4+int (you gain an extra use from the feat) times per day (which is 2d4+ hit dice each time) is wonderful! Absolutely a must pick for any duskblade, until you're able to use your arcane channeling. As you gain levels and monsters that are immune or resistant to mind-affecting effects are more common, it's a good idea to swap it out for something else, like power attack.
Deceptive Illumination: As above, but you get to cast silent image instead of hypnotic pattern. This feat has some staying power, as silent image is a powerful spell at all levels, but it's highly dependent on your DM's style.
Class Skills 
Duskblades receive a small amount of skill points per level, but one of their best attributes is intelligence, so you are going to receive a decent amount. Your best bet is probably concentration and knowledges.

Climb: This skill is situational. You aren't going to be using it constantly, but is useful to have in stressful situations.
Concentration: This skill's usefulness is highly debated, since a spell casted through arcane channeling isn't normally subject to concentration checks, even if you are threatened. However, since you are a spellcaster and you actually have spells that can't be channeled, this may come handy.
Craft: Nah. Leave this to peasants. However, two crafts you can seriously consider are craft(alchemy) and craft(poison-making). You can find more details in the Poison Spell feat entry above.
Decipher Script: Get the ability to understand scriptures. Unfortunately it's limited to the campaign and it has no general use. However keep in mind that this is listed often as a requirement.
Jump: As with climb.
Knowledge: Intelligence will be one of your highest attributes and knowledges provide useful information on your opponents. The best course of action is for the party to split the various knowledges that creature types are related to. However since you have the skill points to spend, you can take quite a few. Even by investing 1 skill point to each knowledge, your knowledge devotion will link your skills with your fighting abilites. You can combine the collector of stories skill trick for added synergy, but check with your DM if that works with knowledge devotion.
Ride: Not required, since you aren't going to be mounted probably.
Sense Motive: Avoid being bluffed or that something is wrong. I can see no other applications than enemies using feint attacks, so this is probably not worth having. You may want just 5 ranks for the synergy bonus.
Spellcraft: No ranks required here, unless you want to fulfill a certain requirement. You are not going to need spellcraft, as you won't use counterspell or similar techniques. If you like it that much, just spend 1 rank so that you won't be untrained in it.
Swim: Ditto for climb.

You should also consider using the cityscape web enhancement. It will let you swap the worthless ride with tumble. Although you cannot tumble in armor that hinders your speed, there are two ways to overcome this problem. The first is using light armor or medium mithral armor. The second is to take a race that heavy armor doesn't reduce its speed. An example is dwarf (or dream dwarf from races of stone which probably works better).

Equipment:

Weapons:

You have the ability to affect with a touch spell each target of your attacks through arcane channeling ability. The best way to take advantage of it with the minimum cost is using a reach weapon.
The most common reach weapons are: Guisarme, Whip and Spiked Chain.

Guisarme is a martial weapon, so you already have proficiency with it. It is also a trip weapon. Probably the best weapon if you don't have the feats to invest.
Whip needs exotic weapon proficiency, but you can use it to attack anyone 15ft away from you. It is also a tripping and disarming weapon.
Spiked chain normally doubles your natural reach as with all reach weapons, but you can use it to attack adjacent creatures. Requires exotic weapon proficiency and is a tripping and disarming weapon. Probably the best available and you should invest a feat if you have access to extra feats, e.g. from flaws.

Enchantments:

Bloodstone MIC: As spellstoring but only for vampiric touch spells. It also empowers it for free. Vampiric touch is going to be your bread and butter channeling spell at later levels and free empower really scales its damage.
Shattermantle MIC: Great for gishes. Reducing the spell resistance of your targets can help your spellcasting allies, too.
Sizing MIC: A nice weapon enchantment if you use reach weapons and/or change your size. According to the FAQ a reach weapon of a size smaller than your actual size doesn't give you reach benefits. So if you need to attack an adjacent enemy just lower the size of your weapon to lose reach benefits. Remember that you do get a penalty (-2) on attack rolls for wielding a weapon not of your appropriate size. It's the best (and featless!) way to strike enemies close to you when wielding a reach weapon that doesn't let you strike adjacent targets.
Speed DMG: More attacks means more targets affected with your channeling. Only useable after 13th level since you get the extra attack on a full attack action. Also doesn't stack with the speed armor enchantment or haste spell. It's pretty expensive though.
Whirling MIC: Effectivelly gives you the whirlwind attack feat useable 3/day. Very nice for only +1 bonus. You should eventually get it on your weapon (or one of your weapons if you use multiple). Whirling attack is a full-attack action so it is usable with arcane channeling on a full attack. It is a cheap way to gain an ability that has a huge amount of required feats.

Armor:

You gain the ability to ignore arcane spellcasting failure from medium armor at 4th level. Mithral quality lets you treat an armor as one category lighter. So you can use mithral heavy armor without casting failure. Since Duskblades are proficient with physical skills like jump, climb, swim and ride i would suggest a mithral breastplate. That way you can maintain your speed, high dexterity bonus (+5) and keep armor check penalty only at -1. After all duskblades are not tanks and frontliners, but more support characters. If you have the skill points to spend and use the cityscape web enhancement, mithral breastplate will also help you with your tumble rolls.

Enchantments:

Agility MIC: If you can't afford a vest/cloak of resistance or you don't have the room for it, this is a nice way to boost your bad save. Even the greater for a +5 resistance bonus is cheap (8.000).
Anchoring MIC: Nice to have a special bonus on these special attack maneuvers, especially when you use them. Mobility is a minor issue to the duskblade, because these characters need to position themselves correctly in the battlefield.
Animated DMG: If you want to use a shield make it animated. It frees your hands to use a two handed weapon and boosts your armor. Remember that armor check penalties, arcane spell failure and nonproficiency still apply. This way you can get most out of your power attack and channel without problems.
Healing MIC: If you don't have a divine spellcaster to heal you, this can be useful especially when you fell to negative hit points. Even with a cleric in the party, having this will get you again into battle in most cases or in the worst case will stabilize you, probably saving a round for your spellcaster. The cost after all is negligible (8.000).
Quickness MIC: Boosts to speed are nice to have if it's reduced for some reason (such as heavy armor). Remember though that it provides an enchantment bonus. Still handy for (5.000).
Speed MIC: 3/day swift action you can have a haste effect on you. That means more attacks for that round so more targets for your channelled spell. Only (6.000).
Twilight MIC: Lets you reduce arcane spellcasting failure. Since you have spellcasting failure only with heavy armor past 4th level, only use it if you can't find a mithril piece of heavy armor. Otherwise worthless.

Miscellaneous:

Rings of Wizardry DMG: Probably the best rings you can wear. A ring of wizardry I, easily optainable by level 9-10 gets you 14 and 16 1st level spells per day, respectively. Can be combined with versatile spellcaster to greater effect.
Ring of Spell Storing DMG: Assuming that you can cast the spells stored into this ring and you have a caster to load it with touch spells, this can be invaluable. After level 13 you can translate that one slot into (number of attacks) slots. A decent choice if you have other casters in your party.
Heward's Handy Haversack DMG: Normally you won't have a problem with your carrying capacity due to your strength. However every adventurer should have one of these sacks, the ability to draw an item as a move action is, as the name implies, handy.
Ioun stones DMG: Pale green and orange helps your combat ability and your caster level without taking a body slot. Luxury items, but well worth it. A decent low level trick is a grey ioun stone with a continual flame casted on it, if you lack darkvision. Ioun stones even work on familiars.
Ring of Piercing Spells MIC: A way to add a bit more damage to your channelled spells. If you catch the opponent flat-footed when you attack him you add 2d6 bonus damage to the spell's damage. It's decent at low levels. (2000)
Crystal of Arcane Steel (Greater) MIC: Gives you 1 point of insight bonus on attack and damage when you channel a spell with a melee attack. It also includes a nice 1 point boost to the spell's difficulty class. Remember though that the bonus on attack rolls doesn't work with knowledge devotion. However, compared to the other crystals, this is the most fitting thematically. (500, 2000, 6000)
Boots of Speed DMG: More attacks per round as a free action. Only useful after 13th level of course. It's nice to have if your party lacks a character to haste you. (12.000)
Belt of Growth MIC: Enlarge person helps reach and trip. Nice addition for 10 minutes. (3000)
Belt of Battle MIC: Extra actions can be valuable. It also boosts initiative. Although the best use is probably full-attack channelling twice, get it as fast as you can, it's a solid item. (12.000)
Armbands of Might MIC: They give +2 bonus on strength checks and strength skill checks, which include many of the duskblade's class skills. It also applies to trip/disarm. Gives a decent boost in power attack as well. It's more than good for its money in my opinion. (4.100)
Bracers of the Blast Barrier MIC: Cheap and it adds battlefield control. Also can be used to provide cover. (3.200)
Bracers of the Entangling Blast MIC: To use with chill touch. While initially it will probably not deal much damage, it can deal 1 to 3 strength damage while entangling the subjects. Even with other spells, the ability to entangle people without a save is quite a good debuff and battlefield control tactic. (2.000)
Chronocharm of the Horizon Walker MIC: Lets you move as a swift action and then full attack. Nice if you want to get in a position for a whirlwind attack. 1/day but very very cheap (500g).
Greatreach Bracers MIC: Quick way to add 10ft to your reach. 3/day but only (2000)
Eternal Wands MIC: Eternal wands are usable 2/day and hold an arcane spell of up to 3rd level. You can use them even if the spell they contain isn't on your spell list. Best spells for these wands would include: Cure Light/Moderate/Serious wounds, Alter Self, Invisibility, knock, rope trick, shatter, Enlarge Person. Other spells that may prove useful are: Lightfoot, whirling blade. Remember that you can have multiple wands of a single spell. Also assuming you are ok with your DM, trapsmiths cast arcane spells.
Ring of Theurgy CA: This ring adds spells known until you cast them. Great if you have spellcasters in your team. Shivering touch is a powerful third level spell that can be put in a eternal wand. Consult your dm if you can load spells into a ring of theurgy from other items, like wands. If he is ok with that, get as many eternal wands as you can and easily add spells known to your list.
Hand of Glory DMG: Lets you pick up 3 rings of wizardry. Also lets you cast see invisibility and daylight. Not bad for only 8.000.
Drake-Helm XPH: If allowed, this is almost a must for a Duskblade. It's a perfect and pretty affordable way to get more spells known (1-4). Shivering Touch and its lesser version are good candidates for a Drake-Helm, as are other offensive or utility spells (Heroics, Wraithstrike, Polymorph, Alter Self, etc). Just in case you manage to get Sneak Attack ability, Wracking Touch from Spell Compendium lets you deal it, regardless of the situation.

Runestaffs MIC

Runestaffs let you expand your spell list. While you can't channel spells from a runestaff (as they are not "known" spells) they give you some versatility. From the runestaffs available below i would choose Necromancy, size alternation or vision.

Abjuration: (32.000) Gives dispel magic, resist energy
Assasin: (10.000) obscuring mist
Destruction: (27.000) Disintegrate
Evocation: (25.000) Chain Lightning
Eyes: (11.000) see invisibility
Fiendish Darkness: (48.000) Dispel Magic
Fire: (8.400) Burning Hands
Necromancy: (32.000) Cause Fear, Ghoul Touch, Waves of Fatigue
Night: (14.000) darkvision
Passage: (75.000) Dimension Door
Power: (38.300) Ray of Enfeeblement
Size Alternation: (12.000) enlarge person Can only use it if you grab Arcane Disciple (Strength Domain)
Transmutation: (25.000) Disintegrate
Teleportation: (19.000) Dimension Door
Vision: (16.000) Darkvision, See invisibility

Spells:


Duskblades have a limited list, so it's easy to comment on every spell they get. Remember not to get many spells that require saving throws to affect their targets and to avoid spells that you are not going to use much. Those are better on a wand or eternal wand.

Touch of fatigue, chill touch, shocking grasp, resist energy, dimension hop, ghoul touch, touch of idiocy, dispelling touch and vampiric touch are all range:touch spells.

Shocking grasp, chill touch, vampiric touch are the main damaging spells of the duskblade.
Touch of fatigue, ghoul touch, touch of idiocy, dispelling touch are mainly used to debuff.
Dimension Hop is interesting when you want the enemies away from you, or throw them down a cliff.
Greater magic weapon and resist energy are buffs.

Now, while the offensive uses are pretty straightforward, there can be defensive/buffing uses as well.

e.g. you can channel resist energy and buff your party or greater magic weapon. That way you affect multiple targets per casting instead of just one. Use a weapon that deals nonlethal damage such as a whip or your unarmed strike.

It may not be much, but it becomes really interesting with spells with expensive material components. An example of this is Raise Dead. With just a whip you pay the material component of one spell (5.000) and raise 4 subjects which would normaly cost 4x the price (20.000).

Here is a small analysis and tips for each spell, listed by level:

0-Level

Not much to say here. You get acid splash, disrupt undead, ray of frost and touch of fatigue. Eventually you'll get most of them, but be sure to grab touch of fatigue, the only spell that you can channel from this level. Unfortunately, when you get your channeling ability at 3rd level, 0-level spells lack significantly in power, but you can see it as an extra effect on your attack.

1st Level

Now there are two categories. The first one is the spells you'll need early before you get your channeling ability, but you'll want to quickly get rid of them later. The second category consists of spells that work great when you channel them.

Bigby's Tripping Hand: This is a bad spell. You effectively trade a standard action for a crappy trip attack at range. The numbers are not worth it. +1 on the trip attempt for every three caster levels, to a maximum at +5, is the equivalent of a first level tripper roughly.
Blade of Blood Touch: You can channel a spell, deal more than 3d6 and do all that without hurting yourself. The duration is limited, so it isn't useful even as a pre-combat buff. People often like this, but i strongly advise to not go this way. First of all you can't channel it, at least to hurt an enemy, as it is a swift action mini-buff spell. Duskblades do not have a way to heal themselves and doing extra damage doesn't mean you are going to hit your enemy. Most who defend blade of blood suggest that you can use it to mini-nova at early levels, but what do you want a spell that eats away a large portion of your hit points? That means you are not going to use it regularly. It's better from an eternal wand with a wand chamber from inside your weapon. The only use i see for this is if you have martial teamates. You can use a whip (or your hands if they are close to you) to buff all your friends' weapons while only taking 5 damage yourself. The most effective way to use this on a Duskblade would be coupled with temporary hit points (like those from Vampiric Touch).
Burning Hands: It's a low level area spell. The damage isn't impressive and it requires a saving throw. It is wise to avoid this spell. Low level is about disabling people, not dealing crappy damage, especially when its type is one of the most common.
Cause Fear: Another spell you are most likely better without it. It's mind-affecting and fear. Moreover it requires a saving throw. The worst part is that it has a close range, so you cannot channel it.
Chill Touch Touch: This should be one of your first choices. It deals negative energy damage, which is useful in many situations. It has an option of dealing strength damage, which is a great thing. Reducing the strength of key enemies can reduce their fighting capabilities, or even disable them. Best used with bracers of entangling blast to multidebuff martial characters (cannot run or charge, -2 penalty on attack rolls, -4 penalty to dexterity, -1d3 strength, duration 1d3 rounds). Chill Touch is also a prime candidate for Poison Spell (assuming you're not channeling it), because you can apply a single dose of poison with multiple touch attacks.
Color Spray: If your intelligence score is big enough to provide a decent difficulty class, this can be a low level gem. However at later levels it gets increasingly less useful, so get rid of it as soon as possible. It's probably better than cause fear.
Jump: Get an enchantment bonus to your jump check. This is a bad spell choice. First the skill in question is a class skill for duskblades, second your spell list is extremely limited and third you don't have to make big jump checks. Now in the rare occasion that you find yourself wanting to hop around regularly, get an eternal wand of this.
Kelgore's Fire Bolt: It's a trap! Just channel a spell and deal damage. If you strike and spell resistance blocks your spell, you still deal your weapon damage, which is probably more than 1d6. Moreover at early levels you don't usually mind about spell resistance and later you get spell power.
Lesser Deflect: An immediate action that grants you an AC bonus and hopefully prevents opponents from hitting you. The bonus is crappy though and it lasts only for one round.
Magic Weapon Touch: Make your weapon magical for a short period of time. This helps at low levels, but make sure that you swap it for something better later.
Obscuring Mist: This is usually used to gain strategic advantage, but since you are actually a melee character that needs to pick targets, you don't have much synergy with it. Better pass. Nice on wands since it doesn't really depend on caster level.
Ray of Enfeeblement: Now this is a ray that helps you. Unfortunately it bestows a strength penalty, but it has no saving throw and your BAB is great, so it can support nearly any touch attack. Usually a great pick.
Resist Energy Touch: Nice buff for your whole career. It has no damage cap, so it can potentially absorb large amounts of elemental damage. Duskblades are full casters, so you will quickly upgrade it to open up higher resistance numbers. The duration is great.
Rouse: Another bad spell. The listen check to wake up is not great, so this is actually the same as spending a standard action making noise.
Shocking Grasp Touch: Another great first level offensive spell, this will add a bit of electricity damage on your attacks. However it adds a extra synergy, as when your opponent wears metal armor, you get a +3 unnamed bonus on attack rolls. Now it mentions that you get it when you are delivering the spell, but since the arcane channeling's effect states [...]any touch spell you know and deliver the spell through your weapon[...] it probably works. Thus it can help as a small power attack boost for you occasionally.
Stand: This is most helpful if you are dealing with trippers. If you are worried about tripper builds, better get the skill tricks from complete scoundrel that do the exact same thing and skip this. Otherwise, eternal wands will do the trick.
Swift Expeditious Retreat: Huge amount of bonus to your speed, this spell gives you a variety of options. Escape easily from a tight battle, get into better position for channeling your spell, etc.
True Strike: Sometimes it is crucial that you strike true, and this spell does exactly that. Not only it gives you a +20 insight bonus on attack rolls, but it also gives you the ability to avoid miss chance if your opponents have concealment. Actually, this is an average spell, but since you have many abilities that involve hitting your opponents' AC, you probably won't regret taking it. Unfortunately it doesn't work with knowledge devotion because both provide insight bonuses.

2nd Level

Animalistic Power Touch: It's nice if used as an all-around boost, but it will quickly diminish in power. It's probably equal to the bear's endurance series of spells.
Bear's Endurance Touch: It's a nice buff for low levels, but once you get an item to boost the attribute in question, you should get rid of it. The same goes for the other stat buffs (bull's strength, cat's grace, etc).
Bigby's Striking Fist: As with the previous fist, this isn't worth the trouble.
Bull's Strength Touch: See Bear's Endurance.
Cat's Grace Touch: See Bear's Endurance.
Darkvision Touch: You shouldn't spend a spell known for an effect like this. If you want this so bad, you're better off selecting a race with darkvision. This spell can come from an eternal wand, but even then, it's not worth the trouble.
Deflect: Same with the previous version, but worse, since you add just 1/2 of your caster level to the next attack that targets you. Seems to be a waste.
Dimension Hop Touch: This is a great all-around spell. You teleport the subject of this spell 5ft per two caster levels. You can use it on yourself for better positioning, easy escape, to move pass barriers or difficult terrain. You can channel it, knocking enemies back (and possibly down a cliff ), closer to you, to a flaning position or behind your lines, dividing the opponents' set up. You can probably save a friend from danger in-battle by attacking and teleporting him. The same goes if you want to provide strategic advantage (e.g. giving up one of your attacks and teleporting your barbarian/charger to a charge position before his turn comes). The uses are probably endless, so this is a great pick. The problem is that it requires a will save, but that doesn't limit its uses.
Ghoul Touch Touch: It paralyzes for a great duration creatures you touch. As a side bonus, all living creatures in a 10ft radius of the paralyzed target become sickened. Paralysis is a condition. Paralyzed creatures have effective dexterity and strength scores of 0 and are helpless. This spell is too great to pass by, as it helps your allies take care of enemies more easily and it has great strategic uses. One less enemy, even paralyzed, can turn the tide of battle. Unfortunately this spell is not blue because it has a great drawback. You need a material component to cast it, thus it requires a free hand. I used to think that this was good and indeed the effects are great, but you can only use it against living targets, which narrows down the available targets. Moreover, a save negates the effects completely, which is a major drawback, as boosting spell DCs are not a Duskblade's first priority.
Melf's Acid Arrow: This is a strange spell, but the best plus is that it doesn't require a saving throw or spell resistance. It's not the best pick for this level, but if you choose to go with it you won't be disappointed. This spell however should only be used if you can't meet the spell resistance of your opponents and your intelligence is low.
Scorching Ray: The damage output is nice, but once you get to 13th level, even a lowly shocking grasp will probably deal more damage by channeling it and using power attack. The problem is that you can't channel it.
See Invisibility: Great spell, but unfortunately it's better on a eternal wand as it has a pretty big duration.
Seeking Ray: This is possibly useful to other arcane spellcasters that make heavily use of rays, but it isn't going to help duskblades (remember that your BAB is full, while normally arcane casters have half BAB. A +4 bonus is next to nothing for touch attacks if you have perfect BAB). Skip this.
Spider Climb Touch: Can be used as a tactical spell for ambushes and attacks from unexpected positions. Unfortunately this isn't useful to you as duskblades are purely melee characters and by the level you will be able to buff your party, there will be lots of other ways to move tactically, possibly through flight.
Stretch Weapon: Self-explanatory. It is obviously bad to trade one of your few 2nd level spells for a situational +5ft of reach.
Sure Strike: It's like true strike, but worse. There is no reason to get this.
Swift Fly: Nice ability, but unfortunately the duration is too limited. Still it has its uses and is the only way to fly with your class abilities alone. If you get another way for an alternative movement mode, absolutely retrain this.
Swift Invisibility: As above, this is the only way to turn invisible with your class abilities. This invisibility has various uses, from a power attack boost (targets are possibly flat-footed, you gain a +2 bonus to your attack roll) to an escape mechanism.
Touch of Idiocy Touch: It's a touch spell, so you can undermine enemy spellcasters with this, but note that it is a mind-affecting spell. It can do some damage and even undermine enemy spellcasters, especially if that isn't their primary role (like paladin or ranger).
Swift Ready: Only works if the items are in your possession and you have a line of sight to them, so you need to carry them. That ruins using the spell as an element of surprise or using it to steal equipment.

3rd Level

Crown of Might Touch: I don't think that this spell is worth it. It even occupies space as an item, who wants that :S
Crown of Protection Touch: As above, the bonuses are too lousy for a 3rd level spell.
Dispelling Touch Touch: You can end ongoing spell effects with this dispel-like spell. Unfortunately, you can't treat it like a targeted dispel magic, but it is a touch spell, so you can channel it. It has quite a few uses and serves as a debuff on your attack. Dispelling enemy buffs is always good and you have good caster level.
Doom Scarabs: Deal some non-impressive damage in a 60ft cone and gain some situational temporary hit points. Not worth it, choose it only if you want some crude crowd control through spells.
Energy Aegis: Bad spell. Just cast resist energy that lasts a lot more and is a 1st level spell.
Energy Surge: Use your swift action to surge your weapon to deal extra elemental damage. I am against this spell, because first of all you are going to duplicate it even better through arcane strike (3d4 + 3 attack roll against 2d6 elemental damage). Second it eats your swift action, which you are going to need. Moreover, this reminds me a lot of blade of blood spell, which i absolutely despise.
Greater Magic Weapon: Not a touch spell, but you are a full caster with full BAB, upgrading your weapons is almost always a good tactic. You can go even further with this, using a rod of extend, lesser to make several of your party members' weapons magical. That way you can invest in weapon enhancements and still get the maximum of your weapon, for a very low price.
Halt: Roughly, stop an opponent from moving. The range is close and you can't channel it. Also it requires a saving throw. Its tactical uses aren't impressive either. I'd avoid this.
Keen Edge: Note that this spell isn't a range:touch one. You can have multiple weapons receiving the benefit with a rod of extend, lesser, but generally you should leave this spell to those that aren't so tight with their selection, as it isn't going to play a major role in your party tactics.
Protection from Energy Touch: This spell is a better version of the 1st level resist energy spell. This is because it completely protects you against damage until it absorbs a specific amount of damage. However i would aim for resist energy and pass on this one. Resist energy doesn't have a cap in the amount of damage it can protect you from, and the 30 elemental damage protection of the last upgrade, are pretty much more than enough. At any event, don't take both spells, but choose between the two.
Ray of Exhaustion: A ray spell, but it has great tactical uses. First of all even if your target fails his save, he becomes fatigued. That means that he receives a penalty in two attributes and he cannot run or charge, which is going to hurt specific builds a lot. The exhausted condition is even worse for the fighting types, reducing dexterity and strength by 6. If you need to nova a target, this is an excellent spell to quick cast.
Regroup: There are many uses to this, defensive mainly, but can be used as an offensive spell, too (as in charging the enemy and then swift regrouping to bring tanks and your melee focused characters in position for full attacks). This is a nice spell that will get you out of difficult and stressful situations, i'd almost always get it. Also this is great for quick cast.
Vampiric Touch Touch: Enter your main damage dealing spell for mid-to-high levels. No saving throw listed, deals damage and you gain temporary hit points. It's pretty straightforward and simple, but note that you can gain the temporary hit points only one time, as they don't stack (at least if your DM is sane). On the other hand, weapon damage may be fair deal to be added to the temporary hit points, so abuse that power attack.

4th Level

Bigby's Interposing Hand: Create a large hand that provides you cover against one opponent. It's better than the previous hands, but remains an average spell.
Channeled Pyroburst: It's a trap! Crappy spell, not worth the trouble.
Dimension Door: Saves you a lot of trouble and it's one of the best arcane spells. You already have dimension hop, but they are both worth it.
Dispel Magic: Every caster should be able to use dispel magic if he is able to, it's just too good to pass on it. Your caster level is great and you can even buff it up with items (like dispelling chord). The targeted function is very nice. Great spell to quick cast.
Enervation: A strong debuff that has no saving throw. If you are having troubles with the high saves of a potential target, this is an option. Again, nice to debuff as a swift action before channeling an attack.
Fire Shield: Various fire and cold related abilities. Unless you know what you're doing, don't get this.
Phantasmal Killer: You are going to get this spell so late that the odds to get one through are minimal. It's mind-affecting, fear, requires two saving throws and spell resistance check. That means the chance of success is only 85% and that's only if your target isn't immune to one of the subtypes.
Shout: This should be your choice if you need an area damaging spell. It can apply a condition to the affected targets and destroy items. It isn't exactly duskblade style, but gets the job done. Still, using your full attack arcane channeling and nice range you get something close to an area effect.
Toxic Weapon Touch: This seems like a nice choice, but it requires a saving throw. What is great is that you can apply it to different weapons (if you have access to this level of spells, you probably have arcane channeling on full attack, too). So applying the spell to your friends' weapons is an option.
Fracturing Weapon FoW, Touch: Unfortunately this spell is only useful if you benefit from multiple hits against an opponent, or if your teammates do, as the penalty applies only for a single round. Plus, the duration is very short. Since this is a touch spell however, it could be useful under certain circumstances (like your wizard buddy is using telekinesis on several greatswords, so you multi-buff them).

5th Level

Bigby's Clenched Fist: This is actually a nice spell, contrary to the other hands/fists. Note that is normally a 8th level spell for sorcerer/wizards.
Chain Lightning: A blasting spell, almost perfect for high area damage. Although it's not actually your style, it is helpful sometimes to have bombs like this. Note that it's normally a 6th level spell for sorcerer/wizards.
Disintegrate: Although this is a ray, it deals heavy damage to specific targets and serves as a good swift casting. Also it has other functions, like destroying Wall of Force. Again this is 6th level normally for sorcerers and wizards.
Hold Monster: I usually don't pick this. You already have ghoul touch that paralyzes and they both target living targets. Moreover you can't channel it.
Polar Ray: As with disintegrate, but no save and close range. I'd get one of the two, but personally i prefer disintegrate.
Slashing Dispel: It's a nice spell, but you already have two dispel effects, there is no reason to get this. If you really want this, retrain the dispel magic spell. However note that the damage this spell deals won't be that important (dispelling 10 spell levels result in only 20 damage).
Sonic Shield: This is actually good if you are wielding a reach weapon which can't strike on your adjacent squares. The duration is extremely limited though, but the effect has no save. Sonic damage is good.
Waves of Fatigue: Great tactical spell. Choose between this and ray of exhaustion, as they don't stack unfortunately. What is great about this, is that it has no save, and can really disable some characters that depend on movement.

Arcane Disciple Domain Spells

The following domains appear in Player's Handbook and Spell Compendium. Special thanks to Bloody Initiate @BrilliantGameologists, who compiled the following list.

Celerity: - 1. expeditious retreat, 2. cat's grace, 3. blur, 4. haste, 5. tree stride [overlaps duskblade list at low levels, but blur and haste are good buffs]
Competition: - 1. remove feat, 2. zeal*, 3. prayer, 4. divine power, 5. righteous might [zeal is good for melee duskblades to avoid AOOs; div pow _and_ righteous might is almost too good to be true]
Force: - 1. mage armor, 2. magic missile, 3. blast of force*, 4. resilient sphere, 5. wall of force [force effects are always useful]
Glory: - 1. disrupt undead, 2. bless weapon, 3. searing light, 4. holy smite, 5. holy sword [bless weapon and holy sword are outstanding weapon buffs]
Hatred: - 1. doom, 2. scare, 3. bestow curse, 4. rage, 5. righteous might [bestow curse is Touch; r. might is good, others not so good]
Mysticism: - 1. divine favor, 2. spiritual weapon, 3. lesser visage of the deity*, 4. weapon of the deity*, 5. righteous might [a variety of buffs including r. might]
Purification: - 1. nimbus of light*, 2. deific vengeance*, 3. recitation*, 4. castigate*, 5. dance of the unicorn* [for duskblades with high enough Wis to have decent DCs; also, recitation is a very good buff]
Slime: - 1. grease, 2. Melf's acid arrow, 3. poison, 4. rusting grasp, 5. Evard's black tentacles [poison and rusting grasp are both Touch; grease and black tentacles are good battlefield control spells]
Suffering: - 1. bane, 2. bear's endurance, 3. bestow curse, 4. enervation, 5. feeblemind [bestow curse is Touch; extra slots for bear's end and enervation are never bad; and feelbemind is excellent against opposing spellcasters]
Time: - 1. true strike, 2. gentle repose, 3. haste, 4. freedom of movement, 5. permanency [gentle repose is lame, and perm is expensive; but haste at 3rd and free/move at 4th are excellent]
Wrath: - 1. rhino's rush*, 2. bull's strength, 3. rage, 4. shout, 5. righteous might [rhino's rush synergizes well with charging duskblades (perhaps also using Leap Attack); r. might needs no justification]
Death: - 1. cause fear, 2. death knell, 3. animate dead, 4. death ward, 5. slay living [doesn't get good until 4th and 5th level]
Good: - 1. protection from evil, 2. aid, 3. magic circle against evil, 4. holy smite, 5. dispel evil [useful buffs at 1st-2nd-3rd, good attack spells at 4th-5th]
Strength: - 1. enlarge person, 2. bull's strength, 3. magic vestment, 4. spell immunity, 5. righteous might [the best PH domain to take]

Tactics:


Power Attack + Attack Boosting spell/ability: Pretty straightforward. Use true strike, shocking grasp or knowledge devotion and similar effects to really boost your attack roll. Then transform that attack bonus into damage.
Dimension Hop + Arcane Channeling (standard action): Attack a single enemy and move him on a failed save. You can lead the enemy right next to your melee destroyer, enabling him to full attack or throw your enemy off a cliff. You can even move him back, making this combo act like a strong knockback effect. You can use the same combo on your ally. Attack an ally and channel the spell to effectively "throw" him to an enemy. Really helps shadowpouncers and melee destroyers with low mobility.
Dimension Hop + Arcane Channeling (full attack): Somehow move towards your opponents (with a swift action dimension hop for example) and full attack channel dimension hop to scatter your enemies. If the two parties are mixed together you can attack your allies to move them to strategic positions (such as to a flanking position). You can even full attack your party members to teleport them to nice positions in the battlefield.
Debuffing Enemies: Various duskblade spells are adept to debuffing your enemies (Ray of Enfeeblement, Ghoul Touch, Touch of Idiocy, Chill Touch, Dispelling Touch, Enervation, Dispel Magic, Toxic Weapon, Waves of Fatigue, Ray of Exhaustion). Clever use of these can easily turn the tide of battle. Arcane spellcasters and skill-monkeys should be the targets of strength reducers, as they most likely will end incapacitated by them. Living spellcasters can be harmed by Touch of Idiocy. Melee warriors and tanks that carry heavy equipment targeted by strength reducers can easily be disabled. Spring attackers and mobility characters are harmed by Waves of Fatigue and Ray of Exhaustion. Enervation and a well placed Ghoul Touch can reduce the saving throws of your enemies, making it easier for your fellow spellcasters to land a spell. Dispelling Touch works wonders against buffed up spellcasters and a targeted Dispel Magic can easily deny a target access to his magic items.
Regroup (Defensive Uses): Use this when you can't win a battle. You can easily move away from your enemies and then regroup your allies back to you. The range is close, but by the level you will get it you are easily move your allies 45-50ft away. You can even regroup in battle, if your allies are scattered for whatever reason, or incapacitated (grappled, paralyzed, unconscious, etc). Outside battle, this helps overcoming traps and escaping from similar situations.
Regroup (Offensive Uses): Having a character that can regroup, your allies can easily be brought together or teleported in a large body of enemies, saving them the actions to move closer. You can move towards your opponents (by using dimension hop, charging, moving) and regroup to bring your friends close to you on-the-fly. Again, this is a teleportation effect, so it really helps shadowpouncers and classes that love to full-attack. Another option, when you have a ranged damage dealer in the party, is to waves of fatigue/exhaustion your enemies, move away and regroup, making sure that your opponents can't reach you.

Builds:


Iconic Duskblade

Lawful Neutral Human Duskblade 20 (32 point buy, no flaws - traits)

Medium Humanoid
Hit Dice: 20d8 + 100
Attack: 20 BAB + 8 str + 1 weapon
Space/Reach: 5ft/10ft
Saves: +17/+7/+12
Abilities: str 26 (+6 enchantment, +5 levels), dex 12, con 20 (+6 enchantment), int 16, wis 10, cha 10.
Skills: Knowledge (Any five) +26, Spellcraft +4, Concentration +27.
Feats: Fascinating Illumination retrained to Power Attack 1st, Versatile Spellcaster Human, Combat Casting 2nd, Bonus, Knowledge Devotion 3rd, Obtain Familiar 6th, Arcane Strike 9th, Poison Spell 12th, Improved Familiar (Imp) 15th, Leadership 18th.
Level Adjustment: +0.

Notable Possessions: +1 whirling guisarme, eternal wand (heroics), eternal wand (Enlarge Person), eternal wand (wraithstrike), eternal wand (swift haste), armbands of might, rings of wizardry.

Spells Known:

1st Level: Chill Touch, Shocking Grasp, True Strike, Resist Energy, Obscuring Mist.
2nd Level: Dimension Hop, Bear's Endurance/Bull's Strength, See Invisibility, Spider Climb.
3rd Level: Greater Magic Weapon, Vampiric Touch, Dispelling Touch, Regroup, Ray of Exhaustion.
4th Level: Dimension Door, Enervation, Dispel Magic.
5th Level: Waves of Fatigue, Disintegrate, Sonic Shield, Hold Monster.
Posted by
On Monday, August 15, 2011 at 4:36 AM

49 comments:

  1. I'm surprised you don't list the bloodline feats from Dragon Magazine Annual. The only cost is obtain familiar, and you can add several useful spells to your class list. Plus it has the benefit of not needing wisdom like Arcane Disciple - and multiple casts

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  2. Hey there Xulin, I didn't saw your comment! As I've said before, I'm not using magazines, the dragon compendium, 3.0e material that has not been updated and anything that is unofficial in my guides.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. This guide is a true gem to me. Awesome job, and keep up the good work! =)

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  6. Couldn't you stack Energy Surge and Arcane Strike if you weren't already using your swift action for something else?

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  7. Just made a build using Duskblade 5/Swordsage1/JPM 4/SS1/DB 8/SS1

    Feats: Knowledge Devotion, Power Attack (Human ), Spell Focus: Necro, Rapid Metamagic, Black Lore of Moil, Arcane Strike, Practiced Spellcaster, Open

    Not sure the mechanics all work correctly BUT if they do...

    Arcane strike can be used to boost both Arcane Wrath and Channeled spells, and all 3 can be used together (free + swift + standard actions) for massive damage on one strike.

    Arcane Wrath is a swift action, and you can apply it to one next attack made, meaning you can use it, arcane strike (free action, you can take a swift and a free action AFAIK), and a full attack action, allowing you to give your first, highest BAB hit a massive boost, followed by the rest of his attacks still boosted by arcane strike.

    This combination of wrath + strike also gives a possible +9 BAB as both are untyped bonuses.

    You also get a free empower every time you use a martial strike, which can be boosted by arcane strike + arcane wrath, and you can use Arcane Channel with it with rapid metamagic

    This leads to empowered black lore of moiled (if you take it, I did) channeled vampiric touch with damage boosted by both arcane wrath (swift action) and arcane strike (free action), and from reading the spell, it says you gain temp HP equal to the damage done, not the damage done by the spell... so you should gain that total damage in HP... depending on the DM.

    You get 5th level duskblade spells
    You get up to 6th level manuevers (know 10, 5 can be readied)
    You get a Lvl 1 and a Lvl 3 Stance (Pearl of Black Doubt... +2 AC every time a foe misses you).

    Yes, you don't get the full attack channel till very late (could change this and go straight 13 db, 1ss, 4jpm, 2ss... not sure if it would be better, maybe 1 SS level 1st for discipline focus), but you get a lot of stacking buffs and enough spell slots (especially with rings of wizardy) to use them, you can wear medium armor and continue casting, you get +19 BAB (1 missing from full). Seems like it would be a solid and fun build.

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  8. I am looking for some help understanding the dusk blade and situations that can happen.

    This guide recommends a two handed weapon for a dusk blade, it also recommends power attack to be used while doing it.

    Now when the dusk blade uses Arcane Channelling on a spell like chill touch it requires a somatic component. Somatic components require a free hand to complete the gesture for the spell.

    Can a dusk blade power attack with a two handed weapon and use chill touch through arcane channelling?

    I cant seem to see how, in one action, he can have the free hand to cast the spell and then do a mighty giant sweep with a two handed weapon.

    This is causing some heated debate in my game and would really like peoples opinions.

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    1. WotC has stated that removing a hand from a two handed weapon to become a "free hand" to cast a spell and returning your hand back to a two handed weapon are both free actions.

      You may be wielding a greatsword with both hands, let go with one (as a free action) cast a spell requiring a somatic component (standard), then return your hand to your greatsword (free action).

      So being able to use arcane channeling with a two-hander and using a spell that requires a somatic component is completely legal.

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  9. Excellent handbook, it was really helpful.

    By the way, do you have any thoughts on prestige classes, I've found duskblades are excelent for Abjurant Champion, and that makes them very powerful warriors with high AC.

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  10. Hi guys!!! I'm an amature player aT D&D and the problem is that everyone in the group is amature too, even the DM. We are trying to play and learn in the process. I have a 10 lvl Human Duskblade, and i am thinking to add a prestige class after the 13th lvl, cause he doesnt get any great skills after.. Any one have a suggestion for the prestige class??
    Thnx!!!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. FYI, If your DM treats Drake-Helm as the Extra Spell feat (spells on class list only), an interesting (BUT EXPENSIVE!) loophole is to add 6 spells to your spell list with 2 Rings of Theurgy, and power them with a Drake-Helm so the spells aren't expended. Our party has no wizard, so my 15th level DB used the Leadership feat to get his own Wiz/spell battery :)

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  12. I was going to ask about the validity of Battle Caster as a feat to take at 6th level. That way I could use heavy armor without loss of spellcasting ability.

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  13. trying to understand your spell list. The spells you've listed arn't on the duskblade spell list in the PHBII. Where did the other spells come from?

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    1. You're looking at the wrong spell list. Check page 24.

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  14. Hi, I'm a fairly new D&D player but I decided to play a Duskblade. However since everyone in the party is inexperienced with the game I have some "technical" questions about the class. And even some more general about the game. Is there a way so I could PM you?

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    1. Sure, you can email me at theio.vrefos@gmail.com

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  15. Hi Dictuum and everyone.

    The first thing that i have to say is... wow! this handbooks are amazing dude!
    The second is that i have some problems picking my duskblade's feats. By now im level 10 and i've already select the level 12 feat, but i dont know what to do at levels 15 and 18. I follow ur advice and is true that the pure duskblade is awesome. He doesnt need any prestige until lvl 19 or 20, and only because the epic progression sucks. Well, this is the resume of my char:

    Human: STR 16, DEX 14, CON 18 (16+ amulet +2), INT 16, WIS 12 and CHA 6 (Oh yeah!, CHA 6 and still a fucker).
    Feats: Exotic competence (spiked chain), Power Attack, Combat Casting as a bonus, Combat Expertise, Knowledge Devotion and Arcane Strike. Lvl 12 will be Versatile Spellcaster

    My problemm is that i dont know what to do next. My master doesnt let me pick Poison Spell (Drow feat for him), Arcane disciple with only 12 on WIS... i dont think so... Extra Spell is only for the duskblade's spell list, Obtain familiar and improved familiar... I was seing them but... im not a big fan sincerily. They are great feats but... 2 feats for a coure eladrin who cant grow up and pick some feats or skill points to improve her utility...

    So... i dont know. i dont see any feat that i say... yes! this one!. This is how i felt with the other feats and i want more of this feeling xD. Any sugestions?

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    1. Hello Alvaro :D Thanks for your comment.

      I actually love familiars, but lots people do not; so I'm not going to suggest/insist on that matter. Your feats are pretty standard for a Duskblade, except maybe from Combat Expertise. Do you use that a lot? If you do, you can actually use the combination Allied Defense (from Shinning South) and Improved Combat Expertise (Complete Warrior IIRC) to apply your BAB to your adjacent teammates as a dodge bonus, including yourself. Not actually optimal, but pretty decent for a full BAB class.

      Also, another way would be to utilize attacks of opportunity. This is because if you activate Arcane Strike it lasts for the whole round, so your attacks of opportunity benefit from it. You can make yourself an AoO beast by retraining your Combat Expertise to Combat Reflexes and getting Robilar's Gambit at 12 and Defensive Sweep at 15 (both in PHB II). You've already have a great weapon that's usually incorporated in AoO builds, so there you have it!

      Another good utility feat is in Expanded Psionics Handbook, but it's not actually a psionic feat. It's called Standstill - again it has synergy with Arcane Strike, but you won't generally need more than one attack for opportunity per round to utilize this feat.

      Depending on your campaign, I find that the Enduring Life feat (Libris Mortis) is both decent and effective when needed, especially for characters that depend on spells.

      You've got many levels already, so taking Tome of Battle's Martial Study/Martial Stance can let you pick some good options.

      There are also some reserve feat options, but they're heavily dependent on your spell selection. For instance if you're going to select dimension door, you can take Dimensional Jaunt that'll allow you to teleport 20ft as a standard action, great for mobility in conjunction with stuff like Belt of Battle. Or you can get a fist spell and try Blade of Force (only if you need to bypass incorporeality - the damage bonus will be next to nothing at those levels.

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    2. Thx for answering so fast.

      Well, i have to say that Combat Expertise is a great feat but i used it only once. When i pick it i think... ey this is so usefull, but our master is a little bastard and 5 more to AC doesnt mean anything xD. So i dont know, the choices u give me are amazing. Allied Defense is hard, and we are 6 in my party so... maybe i can let the Werebear fighter and the Weretaurus monk hit hard (yep... my team is a little complicated) and i can put down my own BAB to give them a great bonus to AC. I can always make touch attacks with vampiric touch. But... i'm thinking... is that my style? xD. Those are feats for teamwork.

      On the other side the Combat Reflexes and Robilars Gambit with the Temp PG of the Vampiric touch... Yes, thats my style xD. But expose myself a lot will make it hard for the cleric... those are feats for a fuck yeah, kill them all alone xD.

      The other options are more for specific situations or there are in forbidden manuals for my campaing (Tome of Battle)

      I have to think about it and talk to my master about the retraining. Thx for the answer man.

      PD: Here is my present to you, Its only a little advice xD. If u want a combo item for ur Duskblade list, try the spiked armor (only +50 GP), put a +1 on the spikes and the admonitory enhancement (Another +1, MIC / +5 to initiative rolls when u are armed with the weapon). That is cheaper than a bonus to the main weapon because still being a +1, but is not the same +1 to +2 than +4 to +5. And spikes are part of the armor, u are always armed with them.

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  16. Some more items for consideration, all from MIC
    Memento Magica, it's like a Pearl of Power for spontaneous casters but 50% more expensive, but still WAY cheaper to buy a pile of these than to buy Rings of Wizardry, and don't use item slots. They do use Standard Actions to replenish spell slots, so these aren't optimal if you only have 1 encounter/day.


    Empowered Spellshard 1st (1500gp) Choose a specific 1st level spell. Empowers that spell 3/day for free. Requires no item slot, but is rather folded into the material components. So you can carry as many of these as you can use.

    Empowered Spellshard 3rd (6000gp) Choose a specific 3rd level spell. Empowers that spell 3/day for free. Requires no item slot, but is rather folded into the material components.

    OF course you'll sell these once you get...

    Bloodstone Gauntlets. OMG. Requires you to worship Hextor (LE) and have True Believer feat. They cost about 5k. At 11th level with True Believer, ALL of your touch spells up to 3rd level (so all relevant spells) are automatically Empowered for free. 50% extra damage on your Shocking Grasps and Vampiric Touches, all the time. Also acts as 2x +1 Spiked Gauntlets so you have close-range weapons while using a Guisarme and a backup weapon if disarmed. Also at 7th level with True Believer gives +2 Luck bonus to hit with Touch Spells, but the way it's written it doesn't seem to apply to Arcane Channeling (unless your DM is nice).

    Bloodstone enchantment is mentioned above, but for a +3 total weapon, I'd make a +1 Bloodstone Spell-storing weapon, so in the first round you can basically hit with 3 spells at once, all of them empowered. Use your items above to empower the first spell-stored spell, and the second bloodstone stored spell empowers for free, and arcane channel a third empowered spell.

    A useful feat is Arcane Thesis (Vampiric Touch) at 9. It'll always add an extra d6 and +2 to overcome spell resistance with VT, as well as making metamagic cheaper

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    1. Sorry, that was Gauntlets of the Blood-Lord, not BLoodstone Gauntlets. MIC page 103 or so

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    2. About Memento Magica: Not exactly true. Ring of Wizardry I = 20.000 and Memento Magicka 1 = 1.500. 1500 * 10 (the bonus spells that RoW I will give at high levels) = 15000, so RoW I costs 5.000 more, but, if we do the same calculation for second level spells, then you're 6000 * 10 = 60.000, which is actually 20.000 more than RoW II. Doing the same for third level spells and you'll already be to more than double the cost than a RoW III. However, I'll give you that you can gain additional spells per day in a much cheaper way at low levels to fuel your arcane strike, when you do not have enough founds to get Rings of Wizardry.

      Empowered Spellshards (from MIC, which is the latest version IIRC), take up the Throat body slot. I'll add them though, vampiric touch will love them.

      Bloodstone Gauntlets are pretty neat, thanks. They are cheap, too, so they can be used by low-level Duskblades. Thankfully, Arcane Channeling mentions that you "cast" the spell, otherwise it wouldn't work RAW. Great find!

      About Arcane Thesis: not that hot. Level 9 is a sweet spot for Arcane Strike, which will give you a lot more than +1d6 and +2 to spell resistance. The metamagic reduction will not be that good, as it screws up arcane channeling when you're using metamagic feats.

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  17. hi,

    i read your blog. thx for your hard work. i am also new in D&D. i am goıing to play a lvl 9 duskblade

    i have some questions.

    think we are in combat.

    1.in my turn i cast shocking grasp channeling to my blade. Can i attack after casting spell in the same turn? Or i have to wait for the next round?

    2.in my turn if i cast swift invis. then can i att. in the same turn? or do i have to wait?

    3.in my turn if i cast a quick vampiric touch then can i attack after casting this spell in the same turn? or do i have to wait for next round?

    4.in PH2 it says in channeling section "any touch spell you know" does this include range touch att. spells like rays?

    i will be glad if u answer my questions.
    thx

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    1. Hello! Thanks for your words :D

      About the questions:

      1) If you're using arcane channeling (you should do) then the action to cast and to attack (single attack) is the same standard action. You don't have to wait the next round.
      2) Swift Invisibility is a swift action. So after casting it you've got a standard and a move action (or a full-round action) left. So you can attack or full-attack after swift invisibility. You don't have to wait the next round.
      3) Quick vampiric touch is a swift action, so it's the same with 2).
      4) No, you can only use it with range: touch spells, not ranged touch attack spells.

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  18. Hi again dictum and everyone.

    I see that u were talking about some objects that can be useful. Well i see a crystal for weapon that is made for the duskblade. I really dont know its name in english, in spanish its called "cristal de acero arcano". The translation is "arcane steel crystal" but i dont know if that is the real name in english. I can say that its on MIC on the crystals for weapons section, and when u add it to a melee weapon and u use the chaneling it gives u a +1 introspective bonus to attack, damage and DC to the spell u cast. And its not expensive, between 500 and 6.000 gp. I think this must be on your list ;)

    By the way, i follow your advice again and im not disapointed. I found my style with the Robilar's Gambit feat and now im level 13. Its awesome what a duskblade can make with this feat, the chaneling and the vampiric touch.

    Thx for all man!

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  19. I'd like to suggest an addition to the Races section: Illumian, from Races of Destiny. While the race is more or less designed for multiclassing, the Illumian Words quality makes them well-suited for mixed-role classes such as the Duskblade.

    An Illumian with 'Aeshkrau' is able to base their bonus spells on their Strength ability; they'll need a certain amount of Intelligence, and perhaps a way to protect themselves against Intelligence damage if they only invest in the ability minimally, but they can focus on primarily stacking Strength and Constitution. I'd definitely recommend this if you start at or plan to reach high levels.

    Naenaesh offer the benefits of Still Spell. The wording is a little strange, but I assume the intent of the ability is that you can for example set aside/sacrifice one spell slot for level 1 spells, and one spell slot for level 2 spells, and then you'll effectively get Still spell for free for all level 1 and 2 spells (but not level 3 and so forth). While Still Spell metamagic feats aren't *too* useful to a Duskblade, the Duskblade only has 5 spell levels (cantrips notwithstanding), so these would come in more handy more often than, say, for a Wizard. I'd recommend the first if you're playing a short, low-level campaign where you might not get more than one or two spell levels anyhow, as Naenaesh will let you use Heavy Armor without Arcane Spell Failure from the start.

    Naenkrau works in a similar way, but it gives you a bonus that works similarly to Heighten Spell, letting you boost the DC of two spell levels by +1. If you decide to build a Duskblade on spells that allow saves, this can also be a good choice, as well.

    (On the subject of Heighten Spell effects, the feat Improved Sigil [Krau] also bears consideration. Although it's only good for two spells, you might find a use for it for boosting Dimension Hop and Ghoul Touch in the early levels, and more powerful save-dependent spells later on.)

    Vaulaesh, which lets you sacrifice a spell slot for AC and weapon damage, might also be useful. The other words eclipse its usefulness in my opinion, however.

    In conclusion, it's kind of a weird race, and I wouldn't have thought of it myself if I hadn't been leafing through my books for unconventional material for an unconventional game, but I think it can be made to really work with this class.

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    1. I like them very much ^-^ I will most certainly add them to the list.

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  20. Magma Para-Elemental Genasi (race) gives +2 Strength and +2 Intellect and a -2 to two other stats that are dump stats., and allows you to cast Combust as a spell like ability once per day. Also gives you acid and fire resistance which is good for melee.

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  21. First I would like to say that this handbook has been a real help to me and thank you for putting the time into making it. Now, I have a question, a race idea, and a feat suggestion. I am currently playing a Fire Hobgoblin and I think it works well. As for feats, arcane strike synergizes really well with combat reflexes and Robilar's Gambit. Now for the question, and I know this isn't the best place to ask it but here it goes: can I channel dimension hop, teleport my opponent straight up into the air, then, on their turn hit them with an attack of opportunity before they hit the ground? I've done a good bit of research about a lot of the minutia, for instance this link implys I can teleport someone into the air https://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.aspx?x=dnd/4dnd/20100713 and the rules tell me how much damage they will take when they hit the ground and that they will provoke an attack of opportunity just before hitting it because of the three dimensional combat rules, but I can't find anything about falling speeds or of someone actually saying I can do this. If someone could help me and provide links I would be grateful, my DM is already trying to nerf my combat abilities (like knowledge local doesn't work with Knowledge Devotion) so concrete sources would be great but any help would be appreciated. Also, just as an fyi, this the first time I've played d&d.

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    1. Yes, the combat reflexes - robilar's gambit is a very good feat chain, especially for a character that wields reach weapons.

      I think that the trick that you mention works RAW-wise, unless I'm missing anything on teleport rules. However, I wouldn't rule that they provoke attacks of opportunity, since it's not actually movement - rules are kinda iffy here. Since you're got some rules to back up that it works, well, you can use that in order to convince your DM.

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    2. The article you linked is about 4th Edition D&D, not 3rd. The rules for offensively teleporting in 3rd edition are much more tricky. Really, all they say is: "A creature or object brought into being or transported to your location by a conjuration spell cannot appear inside another creature or object, nor can it appear floating in an empty space. It must arrive in an open location on a surface capable of supporting it."

      Now, Dimension Hop in particular doesn't teleport a creature 'to your location', which means that the rule saying it must arrive on a surface capable of supporting it might not apply. However, this ruling sets an unfortunate precedent for spells like Plane Shift - if someone else Plane Shifts you and doesn't come along himself, there's a good chance that you'll end up several MILES above the ground. So really, the answer is that offensively teleporting is a DM's call.

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  22. Excellent, excellent hand books. Everyone that I have read has inspired me, so keep up the good work!

    I'm confused how the spell chill touch works. Please explain it to me as I want to use it, but really don't understand the wording on the spell!

    Thanks!

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  23. Hey DM,

    These are amazing handbooks -- I've been a quiet admirer of your work for years.

    I have a question, based upon a neat conflux of rules that I just noticed yesterday.

    A Duskblade, because of their full arcane caster progression and full BAB, can take a Hippogriff familiar (or any other Improved Familiar) at level 7. Have you considered that at all in your recommended builds? I'm having a hard time deciding whether to keep my current build or retrain into an arrangement like that.

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  24. Does arcane channeling work at the end of a charge?

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    1. Hello!

      I'm afraid not, a charge is a full-round action and arcane channeling requires a standard action to activate.

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  25. Okay... I'm having a lot of difficulty interpreting the wording of Arcane Channeling, more specifically, the duration of how long the weapon remains "charged" or when the spell "discharges." Somehow, when reading the entry for Full-Round Channeling ("Doing so discharges the spell at the end of the round, in the case of a touch spell that would otherwise last longer than 1 round."), I assumed this meant that making an Arcane Channeling attack as a standard action preserved the "charge" for the entire round, which would mean any and all attacks of opportunity made that round would also deliver the spell, making a Combat Reflexes/Robilar's Gambit build really impressive, but the more I read about it, the more this seems not only unlikely, but very vague and poorly defined.

    Does channeling a touch spell as a standard action always discharge the spell immediately, as seems to be the case when casting most touch spells without channeling? Does channeling a touch spell as part of Full-Round Channeling extend their duration until your next turn? Or does that part only apply to touch spells that would last longer as a way of limiting them? Also, does this "discharge" also nullify other effects of touch spells, such as the fatigue inflicted by Touch of Fatigue, or the temporary hit points gained through Vampiric Touch?

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    1. My most recent reading of it seems to be that since using Full-Round Channeling means "the spell affects each target you hit in melee combat that round", the "charge" from Full-Round Channeling would remain for the entire round, and could be delivered through attacks of opportunity such as those from Combat Reflexes/Robilar's Gambit, but would still only deliver the spell against each target once per round.

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  26. Item Image(Eldritch) seems a nice feat for the duskblade and does have a nice flavour, i think ( it's from Book of the Eldritch Might )

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  27. what about feats like maximize and empower spell?

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    1. Duskblades are spontaneous casters and metamagic feats increase casting time, making them unable to channel many spells.

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  28. Hello there.

    For the past two years I've been admirring your handbooks. They are works af art all of them.
    I would just like to point out one tiny bit that's not entirely accurate. White Raven Tactics does not work on the initiator themselfs, so the 2 x full attack arcance channelling will only work if you have another one in the group using it on you.

    Source: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ask/20070731a


    Other than that, I love your handbooks and have found them very useful for building characters :)

    Peace.

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    1. Hello Sebastian,

      Glad you like my handbooks. I wouldn't call them works of art myself, but I appreciate that people are still using them for building characters.

      There has been a lot of controversy regarding WRT and sage, even though an official source isn't always right; in fact, people have pointed out that sometimes sage's rulings are in conflict with some that where previously given. In this case, it's true that using WRT on yourself is too damn powerful (and no sane DM would let you do it on yourself).

      Since WRT has almost nothing to do with a Duskblade and they can actually use it on themselves with familiar shenanigans (psychic reformation + heroics), I think I'm going to edit the part to reflect that.

      Have fun building characters :)

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  30. First off, congrats on all the work you put, your handbooks are always quite handy :)

    I just wanted to share a few thoughts.
    Taking Battle Caster as a 12th of 15th lvl feat to wear adamantine full plate could be nicely "combo'ed" with with the Iron Ward Crystal (from MIC : 5/- until it as prevented 50 points of damage, renewed each day) :
    while i don't think most DM's would interpret it as a 8/- damage reduction, in fact having it mean a 5/- damage reduction would actually be more reliable if you have a lot of fights per day since only 2 points of damage would be prevented by the crystal, which would thus work on at least 25 hits by day, instead of the 10 hits per day on a mithril full plate (i agree this would probably not be enough to make it really useful)

    This would almost make the Crystal of Life Stealing (MIC) worthwhile to have a insanely durable duskblade, but the temporary HP from the Bloodstone Weapon / Spellshard - empowered Vampiric Touch should be enough

    While i'm on the Crystal of Life Stealing, the greater one might be another way to make Blade of Blood "safe", but at the level it's available (greater crystal need a +3 weapon) this spell isn't that interesting, except if you insist on using every single swift action you have. Note that around that level, you'll probably get rid of Magic Weapon to take GMW, so this might a candidate.
    If you go that way, the Heartening property (MIC) put on your shield (its 2000gp, but since your shield is animated you'll pay 3000) gives you 5 temporary HP, twice a day, as an immediate (mental) action, allowing you to use Blade of Blood even on the first round of combat (before you load up with Vampiric Touch) so even then the Crystal of Life Stealing should only be bought if your healbot can't keep up.

    Thanks again for keeping this handbook alive for so long.

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  31. Hi DM! Your guide helped me so much! I love this class :)

    I have a few questions, please answer me!
    1- Does all Duskblade spells listed on PH2 page 24? Cause there are a few spells that are mentioned by you and D&Dtools as Duskblade spells, but they don't are in that list. For example: Fracturing Weapon. Is there another Duskblade spell list that I don't know about?

    2- About this Fracturing Weapon Spell. It says after casting it, I can declare that my next melee attack will be a fracturing blow. My question is, can I still declare this fracturing blow if I'm trying a trip attack with a trip weapon, like a guisarme? Cause that's still a melee attack right? I got improved trip on my Duskblade, and I think that would be a nice sinergy, cause I could fracture my opponent easily with the melee touch attack of the trip attempt, and gain a second strike with the Fracutring Weapon reduction plus the -4 reduction from the sucessful trip.

    3- What you think about getting the Combust spell with the extra spell feat? It gives a huge damage, and it's a nice option when you can't Vampiric Touch your enemies (Ex: undead guys).

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