The Dashing Swordsman: A Bard/Rakish Swashbuckler build

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Prince, pray God that is Lord of all / Pardon your soul, for your time has come


Beat, pass! I fling you aslant, asprawl! / Then as I end the refrain, thrust home!


- Cyrano de Bergerac, Cyrano de Bergerac


Time to buckle our swash!


- Elan, The Order of the Stick #392


This build is a 4th Edition portrayal of an ancient literary/cinematographic archetype: the swashbuckler! Unlike most swashbucklers, though, this one does not try to steal all glory for himself; no, like Cyrano de Bergerac, he stays in the shadows while another climbs up to kiss the sweet rose. It has some nifty tricks to take advantage of the Rakish Swashbuckler's 11th-level feature Vexing Foe, and of the Rakish Swashbuckler's 11th-level encounter attack power Abashing Stab.


On to the build itself:


Race: I chose Human because of the extra Feat - not to mention aesthetic reasons. However, a Drow - or any other race with bonuses to both Dexterity and Charisma, like a Halfling - would also work very well. And, as Seifalmasy pointed out, Half-Elf would also be an excellent choice: not only because of the bonus to Constitution, but also because of the Dilettante racial feature and the new Versatile Master Feat, which would be more useful than the Human's third At-Will.


Class: Cunning Bard (Rogue)/Rakish Swashbuckler.


1st-Level Attributes: STR 10, DEX 16, CON 12, INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 18. Dexterity and Charisma will be increased at every opportunity.


Skills: Acrobatics, Arcana, Athletics, Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight, Streetwise.


Feats: 1st - Weapon Proficiency (Rapier), Sly Dodger (Bluff); 2nd - Melee Training (Charisma); 4th - Focused Expertise (Rapier); 6th - Nimble Blade; 8th - Weapon Focus (Light Blades); 10th - Action Surge*; 11th - Shield Specialization (Light); 12th - Improved Cunning; 14th - Disheartening Presence; 16th - Paragon Defenses; 18th - Light Blade Precision; 20th - Cull the Weak

* For nonhuman Dashing Swordsmen, another Feat should be taken.


At-Will Powers: Guiding Strike, Misdirected Mark, Vicious Mockery


Encounter Powers: 1st - Inspiring Refrain; 3rd - Charger's Call/Cunning Ferocity; 7th - Timely Distraction; 13th - Charger's Call/Cunning Ferocity Couplet of Deceptive Weakness; 17th - Inspiring Refrain Word of Vulnerability


Daily Powers: 1st - Echoes of the Guardian; 5th - Word of Mystic Warding; 9th - Satire of Bravery


Utility Powers: 2nd - Song of Courage/Concerted Effort; 6th - Allegro/Synchronicity; 10th - Savior's Song/Song of Recovery; 16th - Allied Rhythm/Elegy of the Undefeated


Relevant Equipment: Rapier, Hide Armor, Light Shield. Since so many of the powers have the Implement keyword instead of the Weapon keyword, a Songblade - either Piercing or Lilting - is required for this build to work. Boots of the Fencing Master are also particularly appropriate.


1st-Level Defenses (Human): AC 17, Fortitude 12, Reflex 16, Will 16.


NIFTY TRICKS


Vexing Foe: With Misdirected Mark, you can have your target marked by an ally within 5 squares you; combined with Vexing Foe, that means the target will have a -4 penalty on attack rolls against you, and -2 against anyone else but his marker. If you first hit your target with Word of Mystic Warding, and then use Misdirected Mark, he will be dealt damage whenever he moves closer to his marker - hopefully while also provoking opportunity attacks from all adjacent enemies (which may include you). (Once per day, you can use Echoes of the Guardian instead of Misdirected Mark.)


Abashing Stab: With Abashing Stab, you mark your target; combined with Vexing Foe, that means the target will grant combat advantage to all of your allies. You must first hit your target with Word of Vulnerability. Then, on the next round, you can use Abashing Stab and then spend an Action Point to immediately use Satire of Bravery. Whenever your target moves closer to you, he will take damage; meanwhile, all of your allies will deal additional damage on him.

Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
Me likey. :D I love me some swashbuckling, and this makes good use of the PP (which I would have liked to be more useful with a standard fighter or rogue, but oh well).
Me likey. :D

Thanks! :D

I love me some swashbuckling, and this makes good use of the PP (which I would have liked to be more useful with a standard fighter or rogue, but oh well).

Why do you think it doesn't work as well with the Fighter or the Rogue?
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
Needs some Rapier weapon specialization.

No, I don't know of any, but they did it for the underpowered Spiked Chain, they can do it for the underpowered Rapier.
Needs some Rapier weapon specialization.

No, I don't know of any, but they did it for the underpowered Spiked Chain, they can do it for the underpowered Rapier.

Agreed, as long as it isn't in a Dragon article.
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
Why do you think it doesn't work as well with the Fighter or the Rogue?

Whenever I look at the PP, I am left with the impression that is is trying too hard. For a Fighter, the Vexing Foe ability is the opposite of what you want (opponents attacking you), while for a Rogue, having only one Marking power doesn't really do the ability justice.

Come to think of it, it could probably work for a Fey Charger (Tempest(Rogue)/Swashbuckler/Whatever) with some Double Sword cheese. Hmmm...
After reviewing the Rakish Swashbuckler, I have to say this build warms my heart.

Seeing as your 18 is in Cha rather than Dex, would you consider half-elf over human? Dilettante / Versatile Master seem good here (then again, V. M. seems good everywhere). I think half-elf bards have all sorts of off-class opportunities, in part because bards aren't too fixed on their secondary ability score.
Whenever I look at the PP, I am left with the impression that is is trying too hard. For a Fighter, the Vexing Foe ability is the opposite of what you want (opponents attacking you), while for a Rogue, having only one Marking power doesn't really do the ability justice.

On the other hand, whenever the Fighter/Rakish Swashbuckler marks an enemy, that enemy grants combat advantage to all of the Fighter's allies. And in the case of Rogue/Rakish Swashbuckler, whenever one of his Defender allies marks an enemy, that enemy has an additional disincentive to not attack the Rogue.
Of course, Bards can take advantage of both abilities.

Come to think of it, it could probably work for a Fey Charger (Tempest(Rogue)/Swashbuckler/Whatever) with some Double Sword cheese. Hmmm...

I did make a Tempest Fighter/Rakish Swashbuckler build, but I used a rapier and a parrying dagger instead of a double sword. I was actually considering using a short sword instead of a rapier, since the rapier, unfortunately, doesn't have the "off-hand" property.

After reviewing the Rakish Swashbuckler, I have to say this build warms my heart.

Thanks!

Seeing as your 18 is in Cha rather than Dex, would you consider half-elf over human? Dilettante / Versatile Master seem good here (then again, V. M. seems good everywhere). I think half-elf bards have all sorts of off-class opportunities, in part because bards aren't too fixed on their secondary ability score.

That depends. Could you please explain how Dilettante / Versatile Master would help this build?
As for other races, halflings and drow would be very good choices.
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
The main thing I see is that having both Vicious Mockery and Misdirected Mark seems redundant. Misdirected Mark is useful with this PP, but in heroic Vicious Mockery will be better most of the time. Therefore, it seems like you could get away with only 2 bard at-wills, your melee of choice and your ranged of choice, retraining from VM to MM.

This suggests to me that cherry picking an at-will from another class will do more for you than carrying the third in-class at-will. Literally all of the rogue at-wills seem cool for this build, or you could grab a random charisma-based arcane power (the sorcerer's close blast is probably good through heroic, when non-controller minion clearing is scarcer), and then there's the ever-popular twin strike if you swap your shield for a parrying dagger.
This suggests to me that cherry picking an at-will from another class will do more for you than carrying the third in-class at-will. Literally all of the rogue at-wills seem cool for this build, or you could grab a random charisma-based arcane power (the sorcerer's close blast is probably good through heroic, when non-controller minion clearing is scarcer), and then there's the ever-popular twin strike if you swap your shield for a parrying dagger.

Ah, I see what you mean. In that case, the half-elf would be an excellent choice indeed. Sly Flourish, in particular, would be a good choice for an At-Will, if you want to increase your DPR.
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
Made an important change to the build: changed it from a Cunning Bard to a Valorous Bard, mainly so that he can take advantage of Strength of Valor. Also changed a lot of the Feats; some because of flavour (Roundabout Charge screams "swashbuckling Feat" ), some because of overall usefulness (Improved Initiative benefits this build more than Quick Draw, for example, and I had forgotten that Lightning Reflexes doesn't stack with Shield Specialization).
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
Posted on CharOp and no DPR postings? Seems kind of lacking.
Posted on CharOp and no DPR postings? Seems kind of lacking.

I'll try and calculate them once I get home.
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
Er, noobish question... How do I calculate DPR? :P
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
I've added some damage calculations. Hopefully, they're correct. :P
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
I followed the link to this thread from the "Oh, Blame not the Bard" thread.

I would love to see some expanded thoughts on how viable something like this would be... or perhaps an update taking into account the material from Arcane Power. :D
I would love to see some expanded thoughts on how viable something like this would be...

Well, I'll have to leave such to others.

or perhaps an update taking into account the material from Arcane Power. :D

Unfortunately, "Arcane Power" had very little additional material for weapon-wielding Bards.
Of the new Feats that would suit a Dashing Swordsman, Disheartening Presence and Song of Inspiration are both good choices - and both have been added to the build! :D
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
I've been playing a character very similar to this, except closer to Aramis than Cerano: Hybrid Chaladin|Bard multiclassed into rogue.
I was tempted to take rakish swashbuckler, but in the end I opted for Daring Acrobat, since I think it is actually better at the swashbuckling fighting style than the Rakish Swashbuckler is, oddly enough.

Crunch tactics wise, I'm able to perform my defender role well, do striker-esque damage, add extra healing to the party, AND when I'm not doing striker damage, I'm using attacks that give bonuses to the party.

Out-of-combat, I'm also able to give the party bonuses during skill challenges, and I'm quite competent at thievery as well (only for disabling traps, of course ;) )
I was tempted to take rakish swashbuckler, but in the end I opted for Daring Acrobat, since I think it is actually better at the swashbuckling fighting style than the Rakish Swashbuckler is, oddly enough.

Daring Acrobat is, indeed, a most swashbucklery Paragon Path. I opted for Rakish Swashbuckler in the end because of Vexing Foe hijinks.
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
Updated!
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )

While it might not be thematically apropriate, I feel like the Paladin's at-will that lays divine sanction on the enemy (Sorry! Forgot the name!) would be a nice dillitante. You essentially get an at-will power that slaps a rather powerful mark on the enemy, giving combat advantage to all your allies whenever you want, and if it decides to ignore you for whatever reason, he loses a chunk of his health to radiant damage. It works better still if you take the opening multiclass to Paladin so you get divine challenge once an encounter. Now Vexing Foe is ranged!


 


Edit: Doh! I thought Misdirected mark was a weapon attack. I didn't have the books in front of me when I initially posted, and I'm not too familiar with bards, however I still think that Ardent Strike would be a useful power for Dillitante.

Well dilettante turns another class' at will into your *encounter* power, so it's not as if you can spam these abilities.


Divine Sanction is the Paladin mark that occurs on a hit, the ability is called, "Ardent Strike". It also only lasts until the typical "End of your next turn".


So rather than ownage you get a mark that lasts one turn, that costs you an encounter power, and only marks if it hit. There may be better ways to achieve this.


To be honest I've found an awful lot of mistakes in these "Optimization" boards. A lot of the builds rely on mis-interpreted and twisted rules, or bizarre DM discretions.


Well dilettante turns another class' at will into your *encounter* power, so it's not as if you can spam these abilities.




Well, you can't spam them until paragon tier, at which point the Versatile Master feat makes the Dilettante power an at-will. At which point I could definitely see the usefulness of having an At-Will marking power to get more mileage out of Vexing Foe, especially when that mark has punishment keyed off of your Charisma stat.

Is there a way to do this build without having the specific item?  I'd love to play something like this, but I play Living Forgotten Realms so I can't guarantee that I'll be able to find a magic item of a particular type.

Wayne M.
Formerly known as WayneTheGame

"Better that I should wrong the world, than let the world wrong me!" - Cao Cao (Romance of the Three Kingdoms)

Is there a way to do this build without having the specific item?  I'd love to play something like this, but I play Living Forgotten Realms so I can't guarantee that I'll be able to find a magic item of a particular type.



Hi there! Sorry it took me so long to answer, but I've been away from these boards. Now, what item are you referring to - the Songblade? Well, if you don't mind needing both a weapon and an implement, then yes, you wouldn't need a Songblade at all; but, as far as I'm aware, Living Forgotten Realms does have Songblades, doesn't it?
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
Updated! I've changed several of the build's Feats, and I've also changed it back to a Virtue of Cunning build, instead of a Virtue of Valor one. As always, any comments and criticisms are more than welcome.
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
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