I'd like to thank RadicalTaoist again for saving my bacon on this - he completed the parts of the writup I didn't have finished, and had it sitting in my inbox late Friday, but I was completely away from the internet until now.
As usual for the showcase, these builds are intended to spur discussion and perhaps inspire a few people in the spirit of the old CO boards. They come from members of my gaming group - me, Radical Taoist, DisposableHero_, Andarious, Sionnis, and Seishi - and I'll always identify who wrote the build at the start, so do not assume I'm the guy behind all of them (because I'm not!).
Unless otherwise noted, showcase builds use 28 point-buy, and have their snapshots evaluated using fractional base attack / saves (because it simplifies the math). None of them actually rely on fractional to be built, though. The format I use showcases their progression at key levels rather than just presenting the build and showing off a few tricks at level 20; most of these are capable of being played 1-20 if you so choose.
With that out of the way, let's get started. This week, you’re getting one of Andarious’ builds.
Real Feral Taste. Zero Druid Calories.
Required Books: Complete Warrior, Tome of Battle. A few more books are suggested in the Variants section.
Unearthed Arcana used: None! (yep, another Andarious zero-variant low-source build. There is a UA suggestion in the variants, though.)
Background: Does not contain any actual Druid. The name comes from the fact that you fight like a savage shapeshifter… who uses Feral Death Blow with positively devastating accuracy by combining the ludicrous Strength boosts from a Bear Warrior with a nifty set of feat and maneuver selections to play up the theme along the way.
- Race: Half-Orc. Really, all you want is +Strength; you can almost certainly go templates / subraces and wind up with something better, but no one will look twice at an orc.
- Ability Scores: 16/12/14/12/10/10 with 28 PB, BEFORE racial modifiers.. You’re a single-ability Strength guy, guess where your points are going.
Skill Notes: Max out Jump and Concentration, and keep your Tumble up. The rest are governed by your Skill Tricks: Balance 12 and Tumble 12, for instance, unlock Back on Your Feet, Nimble Charge, Twisted Charge, and Nimble Stand. You can get all of this and still have a handful of starting skill points open for fleshing out concepts. Do boost Concentration when you can, as Moment of Perfect Mind shores up a critical weakness for you.
Basic Equipment: Arm yourself like a standard barbarian, you won’t go wrong. Power Attack comes online a little late, but you can slot it in earlier if you want to play it from the lower levels. High threat weapons like falchions do outperform the classic greatsword, though.
Magical Gear Goals: Wilding clasps, amulet of mighty fists, and enhancement bonuses for your Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Intelligence scores, plus the usual defensive item suite for AC and saves. A +5 tome of Strength is great; the other tomes, not so necessary. In short, it’s nothing too unusual: You look at it, you’ll see what it needs.
Build Stub: Barbarian 1 / Warblade 11 / Bear Warrior 5 / Bloodclaw Master 3
1 – Barbarian – (Rage, Illiterate, Fast Movement) (Extra Rage)
And while the Complete Cheeseball Pounce ability is strictly speaking better, this build isn’t as likely to get your DM crying. If you do swap it in, you know the drill already. The same general observation holds for Whirling Frenzy, but we’ve already seen how much Whirling Frenzy + Bear Warrior rocks, so we’ll skip it here.
2 – Warblade – (Battle Clarity, Weapon Aptitude, Not Illiterate) (Steel Wind, Wolf Fang Strike, Sudden Leap) (Blood in the Water)
3 – Warblade – (Uncanny Dodge) (Extra Rage) (Moment of Perfect Mind)
As usual, be careful - you can't use this maneuver while raging. (You do get +2 Will while raging, which helps a bit, but that won't compare to Moment). Use Moment to block Will effects that come your way before hulking out.
As with level 1, you can move Power Attack here if you want, but having the freedom to rage in every encounter makes Rage feel almost like a stance. When you judge it on those merits, it looks amazing, particularly at this level. Similarly, at this level, your base attack bonus isn't quite high enough to Power Attack freely and still keep a good chance of hitting, so the delay isn't too severe.
4 – Warblade – (Battle Ardor) (Wall of Blades)
5 – Warblade – (Claw at the Moon > Wolf Fang Strike) (Leading the Charge)
6 – Warblade – (Tiger Blooded, Power Attack) (Iron Heart Surge)
Tiger Blooded’s DC is based off of your Strength, and that’s about to go sky high. Very useful feat to mix with your high movement speed.
7 – Warblade – (Improved Uncanny Dodge)
8 – Bear Warrior – (Bear Form: Black)
9 – Bear Warrior – (Multiattack)
10 – Bear Warrior – (Scent)
11 – Bear Warrior
12 – Bear Warrior – (Bear Form (Brown) (Blade Meditation: Tiger Claw)
13 – Bloodclaw Master – (Shifting 1/day, Claws of the Beast) (Dancing Mongoose)
We also get Dancing Mongoose, so your bear-tiger can act imitate a third predatory animal if you feel like it.
14 – Bloodclaw Master – (Superior Two Weapon Fighting, Tiger Claw Synergy (Stance))
15 – Bloodclaw Master – (Pouncing Strike, Low-Light Vision, Shifting 2/day) (Reaping Talons) (Pouncing Charge)
The Reaping Talons feat turns you into a beast against large groups of opponents.
16 – Warblade – (Battle Cunning) (Swooping Dragon Strike)
17 – Warblade – (Hamstring Attack > Claw at the Moon)
18 – Warblade – (Blind-Fight, Martial Study) (Adamantine Hurricane, Raging Mongoose)
19 – Warblade – (Diamond Defense > Steel Wind, Supreme Blade Parry)
20 – Warblade – (Battle Skill) (Feral Death Blow)
Snapshot: In a calm state, using only the usual +6 items mentioned above and the +5 Strength tome, you’ve got 235 HP, +19 BAB, and saves of +19/+12/+6. Your normal stats come to 34/18/20/10/10/8. But let’s count those bonuses: +16 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, and +8 to Constitution while raging, plus another +2 to Strength while shifting. That puts your HP up to 315, and even gives you a handy +2 to will saves (a +24 Diamond Defense Will save or +31 Moment of Perfect Mind can really make a point to those pesky enchanters). You also go from +37 melee to +45 melee using nothing more than Greater Magic Fang – but there’s more than meets the eye here with your offense than raw damage (taking Blade Meditation over Improved Natural Attack should be the tipoff.).
Let’s take a look at your level 20 killing power more closely. Your Raging final Strength is 40, and you’ve picked up Blade Meditation for all those Strength-based Tiger Claw save DCs. There’s an 80% chance that your Feral Death Blow will kill the average CR 20.5 opponent outright upon connecting. For an idea of the range, it will kill Pit Fiends 95% of the time and KO the Tarrasque 10% of the time. That amulet of mighty fists will give you an attack bonus of +45 while raging and shifting. You’ll be hitting CR 20 opponents 95% of the time even with significant investment in Power Attack. Andarious ran the numbers for attack rolls and saving throws, and came up with a 76% kill rate for Feral Death Blow while raging and shifting at level 20. Yes, three out of every four CR 20 monsters will just die as soon as this character initiates that maneuver on them. Even without Feral Death Blow, your claws deal 2d6+30 damage (and your bite 2d6+20). Throw Raging Mongoose onto a full attack or Pouncing Charge, and that’s 6 claws and a bite. Power Attack for 5, and you’re averaging 248 damage in a single round against a CR 20 opponent. (That calculation takes into account a 95% hit rate and a 4.75% chance to critical. It does NOT take into account the possibility of Leading the Pouncing Charge, which makes things even meaner.) Your average CR 20 opponent has around 410 HP, so this isn't a trivial hunk of change.
Overall Strengths: Even without druid levels, you turn into a bear and freaking eat people. Any single opponent you focus on is virtually guaranteed to be dead by turn two. You’re highly mobile, and with Hamstring Attack and Tiger Blooded, you can make your opponents highly not. But you’re not just good at picking on loners. Improved Uncanny Dodge Reaping Talons and Adamantine Hurricane let you share the love with everybody who wants to try ganging up on a poor tiger-bear-mongoose thing.
Overall Weaknesses: Will saves, as always, are your feared weak spot. Keep Moment of Perfect Mind (and later, Diamond Defense) ready at all times, just in case. (Diamond is strictly better, even if you only consider Will saves: Moment won't work while raging, while Diamond will.) Your incredible movement speed and jump checks make you very mobile (you have to be, as a melee combatant), but consider investing in some consumables to protect yourself against kiting ranged attackers. A psionic tattoo of Dimension Slide can really save your bacon, as can an Eternal Wand with a bit of cleverness.
Variants: The Whirling Frenzy variant rage from Unearthed Arcana is a possible alternative to the normal rage, as is the ferocity variant from Cityscape. If you don’t want to be a half-orc (or (water) orc), the Darfellans from Stormwrack and the Skarn from Magic of Incarnum are two possibilities, as both increase your Strength score. You can also shift the Warblade bonus feats around without too much trouble - oddly enough Run might work, since it further boosts your Jump check results (and thus the DCs of some of your strikes).
There you have it. Although it holds no actual druid, it strikes hard and kills at least as reliably as a typical Zilla.
Next up: We're going to try something a little different.
I have four SETS of builds to upload.You're not voting on individual builds: You're voting on which COLLECTION of builds will go up next. (We'll pick the most interesting one of the winning set to start things off unless there's clear interest in one of them.)
Oh, and since there are four, you get two votes each.
- THE RUNNERS UP: [RT] Rusty!, [RT] the T3, and [SN] Handy. These are builds we've offered before but didn't get to showcase due to rotations. (Note that none of the guesses people have made so far about their names are accurate!)
- TONE IT DOWN: [TS] Lord of the Fallen, [AR] Heavy Weapons Elf, and [AR] Dreamblade. These are much simpler applications of tricks you've already seen in the showcase, aimed at getting past not just the "any sane DM" barrier but even some of the restrictive ones.
- SPIKES EVERYWHERE: [RT] #1 Snoipah, [Various] Deathblow, and [DH] Eat, Sleep, Gank. These are designed to be quick-killers, with style.
- SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: I'd tell you about this, but then it would spoil the surprise.
Feedback and votes ahoy! And sory for the delays.