The Duskblade: an Essentials Swordmage

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The Duskblade
An Essentials Swordmage

Arcane and Martial Striker:  Your skill and experience in both the arcane and martial arts make you a highly mobile and aggressive attacker.
Key Abilities:  Intelligence, Strength.  Your strength in combat and comprehension of ancient eldritch lore make you a formidable foe.

The Duskblade blurs the line between spellcaster and warrior, marrying the power of magic with martial combat prowess.  A student of ancient elven spellcasting technique, the Duskblade combines arcane knowledge with the combat skills of a fighter.

Click the Title to view the class.

This class is largely based on the Forgotten Realms class, with influences by Wizardmon's rendition of the Duskblade.  Please feel free to evaluate honestly, and let me know how it fits into your game!   

I have removed the list of revisions to this date, as the list is numerous.


Just downloaded it to look.  First problem:  HP should remain unchanged from the base class.  See fighter (slayer) and paladin (blackguard).

I like the expanded weapons list, tho. 
Tried to preview my rather long reply. Entire text gone. Here's the summary:

1. Basics
- Switch stats. Swordmage is Int-primary, Duskblade should be, too.
- HP and Surges of main class.
- Armor profs only up to leather and lesser version of Swordmage Warding (always +1)
- No wizard powers. This isn't 3.5. Cantrip is okay though.

2. Heroic Tier
- Bladebond: Well done, but +1 to attacks seems questionable. Then again, Essentials Striker.
- Arcane Strike: Change to Intelligent Blademaster for free and make damage bonus dependent on strength.
- Arcane Attunement: Daily retraining seems too powerful.
- Arcane Step: Slide makes no sense; at-will teleportation with Swordmage's superior support might be problematic.
- Energy Substitution: Change into encounter utility.
- Combat Casting: Refocusing Bladebond: Nice. Doubling Arcane Attunement: Not so much.
- Quick Casting: In itself not that bad, but combined with current Energy Substitution gives player complete control over element and effect of every single MBA. Not good.

3. Paragon Tier, 4. Epic Tier and 5. Powers and Feats later, however:

3. Paragon Tier Preview
- Arcane Aegis: At-will defender mark punishment feature without reliance on mark, avoiding blasts, dealing striker-level damage and completely invalidating one melee attack per round with Concussive Strikes or Illusory Weapon granted instead of a utility power? Unforgivable. Misdirection is just as bad, with less damage but even more denial.

That said, I love the concept and design and would very much like to make it work within 4e standards.
Thanks for the tips, I'll work out some of the kinks.
Okay, now that I'm no longer angry about the loss of my explanations, let me elaborate on my suggestions:

HP and Armor: Yeah, I see your point, but that's the 3.5 side of the argument. 4e standards suggest that a subclass have the same HP and armor proficiencies (and primary stat) as the main class. Furthermore, even if you stick with Str-primary, Int-secondary, a Duskblade would be expected to have at least 16 Int at level 1, thus not giving the player any incentive to pick Chain. Also, Chain doesn't have too many striker-y properties, IIRC. And to make a 3.5 argument: Duskblades only start out with the ability to wear Light Armor without Spell Failure. I don't know about you, but I just love Swordmage/Duskblade Warding thematically.

Wizard Powers: Might've sounded a bit aggressive, but my point is this: The arcane spells the Duskblade received in 3.5 are fluff-wise already included in 4e's Arcane power source.

Arcane Strike: This goes hand in hand with my suggestion to make the Duskblade an Int/Str class instead of a Str/Int class. What I meant to say is that the Duskblade should get Intelligent Blademaster for free, for the Essentials primary-based MBA, and that the extra damage from both the feature and the power should be Str-based.

Arcane Step: Okay, then it's just badly worded. But negating slides and gaining crazy mobility at-will? Restricting this to shifts is probably better. Even then it's still dangerous. Teleportation is probably more powerful than you give it credit for. Swordmage teleportation even moreso.

Arcane Attunement: You know what? Forget what I said. In a recent CharOp thread they determined that having all at-wills of a class at once doesn't increase the character's power significantly. I'm totally okay with it now.

Arcane Aegis: No. Absolutely not. In the hands of even a moderately skilled party this can be utterly devastating. There are enough ways to force and direct enemy attacks for this feature to effectively double the Duskblade's damage output against at least 3 targets, all encounter long. Making this an encounter attack power would alleviate most of its problems, except that it's still out of role and gained at an inappropriate level (Although granted, there's not much space for it elsewhere).

Two more things:

Regarding the Int/Str-Str/Int issue: I don't see the Duskblade as a fighter supplementing his style with arcane magic but as someone who unites sword- and spellcraft with just a bit more needed dedication to the arcane arts. Also, 4e/Essentials standards.

And I'm not quite as firm on Paragon and Epic tier mechanics as I am on Heroic. So I'd really love a second opinion on my thoughts there. But CharOp regulars don't seem to frequent this board much...
So, continuing at a slower pace, here's...

3. Paragon Tier
- Empowered Arcane Step: *sigh* Level 11 Duskblade with Extended Swordmage Teleportation, Mark of Passage, Arcane Familiar (Arcane Wisp), Arcane Wayfarer, Incisive Dagger and Rubicant Blade. Chosen Wayfarer feat: Dimensional Strike.
Typical At-Will Round:
Move Action: Shift 1 square -> turn into teleport 6 with Arcane Step -> make MBA.
Standard Action: MBA.
That's a full speed teleport and two MBAs with no strings attached. Add Frostcheeze and World Serpent's Grasp and you can say "Would you like fries CA, extra damage, slow and prone with that?" And that's just level 11. The optimization only gets more extreme from there.
I hope this aptly illustrates my problem with Arcane Step.
- Mythic Duskblade's Action: An extra move action? Seems too much. Then again I have barely any experience with Paragon tier and thus with AP benefits. Just something to think about. Or to prove with an official example of this benefit.
- Arcane Aegis: Um, yeah... Just a little idea, the Duskblade's a striker, not a defender. Let him defend himself, not others.
- Arcane Conduit: This feature confuses me. On one hand, it seems awfully powerful, but on the other hand it's a bit too situational and random. Then again, we're talking about Paragon, so it might not be that powerful. Also this makes a lot of sense in combination with Combat Casting. But if the DM only throws untyped and poison damage at the Duskblade, that feature's pretty worthless. Hmm... at least the wording needs to be corrected, but we can worry about that once we've worked out the other kinks.
- Elemental Vortex: Err... same problems as Arcane Conduit, minus the randomness. The Duskblade as is would be a truly fearsome opponent in mono-typed encounters...
- Arcane Burst: That's extremely... underwhelming. As much as I dislike Daily powers, level 20 should give a character something awe inspiring that can be rarely used. A little pushing just seems... meh. Also this primarily supports Concussive Strikes. That's just not right.

To wrap this up, I just noticed something about your Imbuement spells. Freely targetting NADs with Weapon attacks from level 1? That's reeeeally bad. Don't do this. I'd prefer the NAD targetting to be at most confined to Arcane Strikes with the level 7 feature, if not left out completely.
I've made some significant modifications to the class, even before checking out some of your suggestions.  I'll post the updated class later in the day
4. Epic Tier
Honestly, I have no idea.
Never played Epic, never worried about it either.
Try to get someone else to look over that section.

5. Powers
- Greater Blade of Blood: Effectively losing two healing surges for two rounds of maximized damage rolls? This is useless for low-[W] attacks and devastating for high-[W] attacks. I don't like this one bit.
- Step through Space: Ghost Step (Swordmage dU2, AP) says hi. Also, scaling on utilities? Bad form.

6. Feats
- Attuned Familiar: Just express it as making an MBA originating in your familiar's space. Then again, this is completely out of line for a familiar feat. That kind of ability belongs to a specific familiar's Active Benefit.
- Blade Magic Mastery: Err, yeah. No Wizard powers.
- Nightblade Attunement: Err, yeah. No powers from completey unrelated classes either. Besides, assassin as a requirement for learning powers from a class unrelated to assassins?
- Duskblade's Familiar, Improved Arcane Step: ...Arcane Step.
- Eldritch Knight/Slayer: Too powerful.
- True Step: This is clearly at least epic material. If not beyond epic. One does not simply teleport without line of sight. Ever used a "walk through walls" cheat in a video game? The results are NOT pretty.
- Warblade Bladebond: Those Arena Fighters over there look preeetty angry. Might want to discuss this feat with them.
- Arcane Dodge: Using just about any teleportation power, especially attack powers, as an Immediate Interrupt has way too much potential for abuse.
- Arcane Evasion/Momentum: Better, but there's still the issue with attack powers. At least the conditions somewhat reduce the possible abuse.
- Dimensional Strike: Ahem. Eladrin. Behind you. They want their feat back.
- Planar Shift: I'm not too familiar with phasing. But I don't think it's very good to give it out on an encounter basis.
- Resilient Wayfarer: Make that spending your Second Wind.
Huh... Regarding the Paragon features: In my defense, I told you my expertise heads straight outta the window come Paragon.

Arcane Aegis: You're still kind of missing the role here. Retaliating for attacks is a Defender's job. Retaliating for attacks on yourself is a Striker's job. That said, Temporal Assault is still striker-y enough, but Bloody Misdirection doesn't really fit.
Twilight Strike: Umm... Elaborate please.
Combat Casting: Nonono, the original version is okay. It's important for a few other features and versatility in weapon choice.
Imbuement Spells: Yes, there are a lot of implement attacks targetting NADs. Weapon attacks are more accurate than implement attacks, and thus target mostly AC, which is higher than NADs. Weapon attacks targetting NADs, such as the Rogue's Piercing Strike do so at the expense of other effects.

Empowered Arcane Step: This isn't just about Dimensional Strike. Pick just about any Wayfarer feat.
Arcane Wayfarer: 1/round teleport 8-16
Arcane Ambush: 1/round teleport 6 + CA
Arcane Dodge: 1/round teleport 6 out of turn, negating a BA
Resilient Wayfarer: 1/round teleport 6 + healing
Steadfast Wayfarer: 1/round teleport 6 + increased defenses + CA negation-
Alot of the feats are based on Fey Step feats, in particular the Wayfarer feats, only their weaker than their eladrin counterparts (as you noted with Dimensional Strike) because they can be used with any teleportation power.

Next areas I'll look into:  
Wayfarer feats + Empowered Arcane Step (now Mythic Step)
Arcane Imbuement spells

Issue with Arcane Strike:  A melee basic attack IS NOT an arcane attack power.  As-is, a duskblade can't ever trigger this power.

EDIT:  Nevermind, I seem to be terrible at reading today... Embarassed
Just posted my final revisions to the class for review.  Thoughts?
- The striker damage feature has gone missing.
- Concealment at-will is a defensive feature. The Duskblade has high enough defenses as is. Also, it doesn't exactly fit the theme of the other two Twilight Strike features.
- The Healing Surge cost will deter people from using Instant Attunement at all. Keeping the 1/day restriction is enough.
- Duskblade's Familiar: "...attack as if you were standing..."
- Extended Arcane Step should be moved to Epic. The official feat that increases shift distance is Epic, too.
- Improved Arcane Attunement: Umm... Combat Casting isn't a power. What are you supposed to do as a Minor?

These issues aside, this class is already looking much better.Laughing
...There was a damage feature?
Yeah. It wasn't a separate feature, but Arcane Strike originally granted Str-mod to damage alongside the encounter power.