Working out first 3.5 Gestalt character idea

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Hey, I got invited to play a Gestalt game, but never have played one before so I was wondering if anyone could help me critique and maybe optimize an idea I had. I will take constructive criticism, but remember it is my first time with Gestalt so please be gentle if my idea isn't as useful as I am thinking, and note that I prefer roleplay over being uber powerful, so I am fine if it isn't the strongest build as long as it isn't a huge difference (like a first level character traveling with a sixth level party).

Also it is a 3rd level game, and I believe he said races could be up to LA1 although I would prefer not to get into those if I didn't have to.

So my idea was a Marshal/Warmage.

They are both great as primary Charisma classes, so I would get nice bonuses to social situations. That is a reason I am going with Marshal. I figured Marshal would let me try to max out my social skills as well as let me focus on some other bonus skills as Int would most likely be my tertiary (warmage edge). (Also my social skills are lacking when it comes to roleplaying, so I find myself needing to lean on the system for support like this.)

Also I am going with Martial for simple reasons like increased HD, increased attack bonus, increased saves, increased skill points, and increased class skills. But my primary reason is still the social aspect.

So with social encounters settled I figured Warmage would make a great "kill it now, kill it with fire" kind of class. I played a higher level pure Warmage before and it really did that well, but I understand that this is both low level and it would be my only offensive class so I may be behind the rest of the party on damage.

Another reason I chose warmage was because of Armored Mage. A sorcerer would have had more versatility, but I like the idea that since most of my abilities would be going: "primary Charisma, secondary Dexterity, and tertiary Intelligence" that having some armor to make up for my lower Constitution would help. (I did consider having Intelligence second, but it would only provide a moderate difference and I think having Dex higher for my ranged touch attacks might work out better in the end. But Int still helps not only with warmage edge but also with skill points which would be a big part of the build. So I would love to hear if you guys think Dex or Int should be second.)

So I may not be as powerful as other optimized focused builds, but I feel I will be extremely balanced for different situations that may come up. Please share your thoughts about this with me, and if it could work then please help me optimize it. Thank you.
When I hear "gestalt" and "LA" in the same context I always ask "how is that being implemented?"  To me you should be able to put the LA on one side of the character equation (classA3//ClassB2+1LA) while to others it still reduces your overall level one place (classA2//classB2 with + 1 LA counting against both sides).  I think LA becomes an interesting option for gestalt characters where you can just put the LA on one side and balance out the "non-HD/level levels" with "real levels" but that may just be me.

Sorry but I don't know enough about the Marshal to be much help when it comes to the actual build.  One thought I do have is that you could use Battle Sorcerer instead of Warmage if you still want to be able to cast in armor but want a wider assortment of spells. 
The marshal is really bad past class level 1 or 2. You haven't listed what books are available, but a combination that could do what you want - only better - is warlock/Warblade. The warlock is very effective at the social aspect and the kill it with fire aspect; while the Warblade adds full BAB, some social abilities of its own, and with the right maneuver selection, it's a pretty good buffer.
Two... Ah ah ah! Three.. Ah ah ah! Four... Ah ah ah! Six... Ah ah ah!!
88534793 wrote:
Punctuation exists for a reason, and your neglect of the shift key is to the point where Social Services should be involved.
Exactly what books are legal to use?  What direction do you want to take your character?  Do you want any Prestige Classes?  What race is your character?  Are substitution levels and retraining (Found in PH2) allowed?  These are a few questions that need to be answered before we can help and be effective with the answers we provide.  It's a bit of a downer to spend a lot of time building a character, only to find that it isn't able to be used because of one of the feats that the build is dependant on is in a banned book.
Seconding the request for allowed books.

The highest number of Marshal levels I have ever seen in a single build is 5, and that's for an extreme niche. Most of the time marshals cap out at just level 1 (typically for Motivate Charisma or Motivate Dexterity; caster gestalts tend to prefer Determined Caster), more rarely level 2 (for a major aura, although the benefit's minor; Motivate Urgency is perhaps the most versatile if all you get is one), MUCH more rarely level 3 (for two minor auras to switch between) and almost never beyond that. The marshal itself actually sucks for its intended role, instead mostly seeing use for Diplomacy dip builds. 

(The marshal's intended role can actually be fulfilled completely by a White Raven warblade or crusader, which is actually worth playing. It's for this very reason that I rewrote the marshal as a Sublime Way class at one point. It was pretty well-recieved and is still discussed on other boards.)

Still, I have to observe you've avoided part of the problem with most first-time gestalts I've seen: the marshal and the warmage do not conflict for actions (once the marshal's auras are set up, everything he does doesn't really take up an action). Keep that in mind - a warrior//caster can't swing his sword and sling a spell on the same turn without some serious action economy monkeying. If the two sides of your build do not compete for actions (i.e. one is an early 3.5 class with no swift-action use, an the other packs a lot of swift-action effects), and if the two sides genuinely support each other (relying on the same stats is obvious, but working together is a bit trickier), you'll see your effectiveness improve.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

I see, thanks so far guys. I was going to playtest a pure level 5 Marshal to see how it runs as a negotiator kind of utility character, so I can keep an eye out for the things you guys are saying.

As for the books allowed, I didn't get to discuss with him too in-depth about the game, but from the way we were talking about the game it seems like anything that would be considered an official source from WotC would be free reign.

To answer the question about prestige classing, yes I was considering it. Not sure for what though, maybe dropping Marshal for Exemplar. I would want to keep the same kind of synergy that I would start off with though, so Warmage for blaster prestige or Marshal for social skill monkey (like exemplar could be).

Now I know you guys are saying "No Martial" or at the very most 1 or two levels of it, but what else could I put in its place and still get the same kind of results? So far it seems like you have suggested the White Raven Warblade or Crusader as a replacement for Marshal and I admit that I have had good times with the Book of Nine Swords in the past, but is it really enough to fill the social/skill slots I am hoping for?

Also there is a suggestion to replace Warmage with Battle Sorcerer, that would be an option but with utility handled by Marshal then I would probably not focus on much that the Warmage doesn't already give me, but I would like to hear the rest of your suggestions on this.

Last Suggestion was to dump both and go with a Warlock/Warblade. That would follow the Warblade suggestion from earlier, but while I have heard good things about Warlocks I am unsure how well they would fit what I am aiming for, so once again would love to hear all of your thoughts on this.

Also I was asked Race, but as I am still working on the build I am unsure as to what would be best or what class I am going to try and fit the race to anyways. I would probably decide between half-elf or human for the Martial/Warmage build since half-elf would give me a bonus to diplomacy and a few other handy class features, but human is another feat and skill points which would also be good. Worst case would probably be Catfolk for LA1 because of the boost to both Dex and Charisma as well as other fun stuff. But as stated earlier, the entire final build is still being worked on here.

And last but not least, thank you Tempest. I kept that in mind when thinking of builds. I liked the idea of being versatile enough to swing a sword and then another turn cast a spell, but I also figured that it would limit me and I could get the same results with a pure Warblade build, so I wanted something focused on one class while saving the other class for a completely different situation so that if one class couldn't do anything in a situation I could be ready for another. Like if we are facing guards I could sweet talk our way out of it instead of turning the town guard on us, and then if we are ambushed by goblins who don't wish to talk then I could just fry them. As you can see, only have a rough sketch of the idea in my head right now.
Now, there are 2 ways I've seen good Gestalts descibed.

The first is additive, this is where classes are combined to get better at what one of them was doing. Power attack builds add in other nastiness to their charge attacks, Bards add things like Factotum, Druids add shapeshifting prestige classes and more attack strategies to become better spell-tanks. For those of us who can't solo the universe by 4th level like certain optimizers expect should be done, this provides a steeper power curve for characters at what they do.

The second is exclusive, where classes are combined to broaden the characters abilities rather than improve their existing ones. Combat character pick up defensive abilities or skillpoints, Spellcasters go after more hit points, and Buffers do whatever they want. The problem with this is that it tends to strain skillpoints, actions per round, and/or feats which are not also increased by Gestalt rules and those characters have a tendency to fall behind at their focuses if they face competition by an additive Gestalt.


As of right now, you seem to be looking at an exclusive Gestalt where you attempt to do EVERYTHING. With such a combination, you're well on the path to become a good at exactly nothing, a terrible place to be in. Rather than Marshal/Warmage, if you're trying to do everything I'd suggest making that your specialty and go more versatile classes instead. Factotum/Bard (Bardic Knack) could let you play with any skill you want, have a wide variety of spells to sling, and decent buffing.

There are other combos that give synergy that leave you with spells and melee abilities of course. Divine Metamagic (persistent spell) Cleric/Druid could buff into the nastiest animal around and eat people while still having Druid powered explosions sitting around in their spell list. Conventional Supermount builds combined with Arcane Hirophant and/or more levels that increase their power for a Familiar/Mount/Animal Companion conglomerate would likely leave you decently equipped yourself with spellcasting and other abilities as fallout from creating the Mount.

But all of this is just ideas thrown at a wall unless we get a better idea at what you're going to want to be specializing in as "social skills" and being able to "Stab and cast" is a bit lacking in depth and can be tacked for almost free onto a great many builds without even taking into account the Gestalt.

The lesser planetouched variant (Player's Guide to Faerun, p191) changes planetouched races to +0 LA in exchange for making them humanoids. D'hin'ni (Dragon 350, p54) are planetouched that get +2 dex, +2 cha, -2 wis.


The magic-blooded racial variant (Dragon 306, p64) gives a race +2 cha, -2 wis on top of it's normal adjustments with no change to LA. It's explicitly allowed to be applied to any race in the Player's Handbook. You can check with your DM about using it on other races.


Marshal isn't hard to replace with regard to skills. The able learner feat (Races of Destiny, p150) effectively makes skills class skills forever if they're class skills at least once. Warblade and crusader both match marshal for skill points per level.

The stock Marshal might work for a one-level dip in a social build - Skill Focus (Diplomacy) as a free feat plus some extra mileage out of Charisma (possibly for your other  classes).

The usual "diplomancer" build (non-gestalt) makes use of marshal for that reason, although typically it needs a 16 or higher Charisma for it to be worth taking in the first three levels. (The usual aproach is Half-Elf Bard substitution 1 (allows Bardic Music to Calm Emotions, DC=Diplomacy check - translation, use Diplomacy even when the targets are actively fighting you), Binder 1 (Naberius bind gives you Skill Mastery in Diplomacy and the ability to rush it without a -10 penalty; you also get a few other social goodis), Warlock 1 (almost entirely for Beguiling Influence, a +6 boost to your social skills for one level) and Marshal 1 (Skill Focus Diplomacy plus Motivate Charisma) in some order.)

That said, as Maat mentions, both warblade and crusader match marshal for skill points (just not for Charisma synergy), and have Diplomacy as a class skill (it's the key skill for White Raven, and every martial adept has their disciplines' key skills as class skills). There's also the possibility of using certain boost effects with spells - the Heavy Weapons Elf (and to a lesser extent Flip the Bird) build in my sig shows how to combine ToB maneuvers with ranged attacks, and rays fit that limit as well. (The effect of certain boosts won't be too significant but if you're getting martial adept levels anyway...).

Now, for a moment, let's look at the other parts of your gestalt. Three observations.
1) Warmage really isn't all that good at its role. Warmage Edge reads good but really doesn't play all that good, and their full-access spell list is artificially augmented because most of it is just the same spell in different elements. Collapse those into a single effective spell and you'll see that you really won't be casting all that many different spells all that often, which cuts warmage utility pretty dramatically. That's one of the main reasons you'll see battle sorcerer suggested over warmage almost every time. (Rarely, you might find duskblade suggested instead, but its usefulness in gestalt is questionable.
2) You're thinking in terms of two single-class sides. Gestalt is much more complex than that, particularly if you're considering classes that effectively 'stop' after a short while (marshal is the pinnacle of this, because it's typically just a 1-level dip). Don't be afraid to mix it up. Factotum works as a dip or as a full "side" (every skill is a class skill, plus it gains some Intelligence synergy), Cloistered Cleric is worth considering (particularly for the ability to switch domains out for Devotion feats from Complete Champion; several include Intelligence and Charisma synergy), Paladin is sometimes worth it for two levels (Charisma to all saves, and its base attack and HD can cover for a Cha-based spellcaster on the other 'side', particularly the standard sorcerer, but it's best to stop after only two paladin levels), and so on.
3) You really don't need to invest much at all besides skill points and mundane equipment to be an excellent 'social' character, even if you yourself are relying on the system to cover that slack. At level 3, max Diplomacy, five ranks in its synergies (perhaps more in Bluff and/or Sense Motive depending on the campaign), a snazzy outfit (masterwork Diplomacy tool) and nothing else gives +14 to Diplomacy before your Charisma bonus comes online. At this point the things to look for in a dedicated diplomat are things that do NOT modify that bonus but rather let you apply it in different ways - and a non-dedicated diplomat can still be a pretty decent party face. (I'm playing such a character in one of my games, and she's got essentially no emphasis on Diplomacy nor Charisma beyond skill ranks, good clothes, and a 14 Charisma (I do have Master Manipulator, but I lasted a really, really long time without it and the only reason I picked it up was because Trap of Words can't be avoided if you make the check). I've negotiated several surrenders and haggled several good deals using just that basis.)

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

Warmages: Play them the right way or not at all - Christopher Groves
www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=870...

Build one of those, and with the Open feats, fill in for:
Marshal 5 ... like you want
+1 BAB class 2 dip ... whatever suits you / Warblade as suggested
UrPriest 10 ... finish X 3 nigh anything


Here comes your 19th forums breakdown ... ohh who's to blame, it ain't 5E driving you insane.

 

When I hear "gestalt" and "LA" in the same context I always ask "how is that being implemented?"  To me you should be able to put the LA on one side of the character equation (classA3//ClassB2+1LA) while to others it still reduces your overall level one place (classA2//classB2 with + 1 LA counting against both sides).

The problem is that, assuming each gestalt level is 1.5x as powerful as a normal level (not a bad rule of thumb), sticking an LA across both is going to cost you 50% more than normal, whereas gestalting it too favours a high LA (since you can take a lot without actually losing HD) - it would cost you about 1/2 a level per LA, using that rubric. Unfortunately, I can't really think of a satisfactory way to do it.
When I hear "gestalt" and "LA" in the same context I always ask "how is that being implemented?"  To me you should be able to put the LA on one side of the character equation (classA3//ClassB2+1LA) while to others it still reduces your overall level one place (classA2//classB2 with + 1 LA counting against both sides).

The problem is that, assuming each gestalt level is 1.5x as powerful as a normal level (not a bad rule of thumb), sticking an LA across both is going to cost you 50% more than normal, whereas gestalting it too favours a high LA (since you can take a lot without actually losing HD) - it would cost you about 1/2 a level per LA, using that rubric. Unfortunately, I can't really think of a satisfactory way to do it.

When a level2/LA+1 character is considered as "powerful" as a level3 it makes perfectly good sense that you could have either on just one side of a gestalt character's progression.  Admittedly LA normally doesn't give you any HD and the things that come with it be for a gestalt character you wouldn't be getting those things from both sides anyway which means you could just be "giving up" +0 BAB, 2+int skill points, and a d4 HD where the LA has all of those at zero.
 
I may have an idea for you, though I need to know if any Dragonlance material is considered a WotC source.  The build is Paladin 20 (specfically, Tempests' "A-Game Paladin build found here: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...  with a few feat changes (like the Dragonlance feat Academic Priest at 1st to make any Wisdom dependant Divine class features go off of Intellegence instead, and grab 2 flaws from Unearthed Arcana to get 2 extra feats for what you would want)) on one side with Warmage 6/Rainbow Servant 10 (from Complete Divine)/anything War-casting boosting 4 (be it Sacred Exorsist 4 or changing the build to War 5/Abjurant champion 1/R. S. 10/+Ab. Champ 4 after getting Combat Casting) on the other.  With this build, you get full access to Paladin, Sorc./Wiz, Cleric, and Warmage spells.  There is some "text vs. table" FAQ contraversy that may argue the R.S. as a full 10/10 casting class (discussed in the Rainbow Warsnake section here: www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=870...  ), but if you can't get your DM to go that way, it's no loss.  Either way, UMD is your best friend.


Admitadly, this is severe overkill, but this just might be what you're looking for.  Other than that, there is always looking up Dictum Mortuum's Paladin Handbook for other substitution levels to use (found here:  dictummortuum.blogspot.com/2011/08/palad...   ) if that's to your liking.  Have fun and hope that helped.
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