The Dervish Handbook

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erdana">The Dervish



The Dervish is a melee prestige class that can be found in complete warrior. Don’t allow any Drizzt backlash to spoil your fun with this class. Although it was designed to duel wield scimitars, the Dervish is flexible class and can be very powerful and quite flavorful without ever laying a hand on a scimitar. The ability to move, get a full attack, and move out of harms way makes it neigh unique in the D & D world so it is easy to see why the CO board gets many requests for Dervish builds. I figure I’d put most of the ideas in one spot for easy reference. Please feel free to contribute!

The Good:
Tons. Full BAB. 2 good saves, including will - the warrior’s Achilles heel. Bonus AC. Free bonuses on speed and initiative. Spring attack and cleave for free. Ability to dual-wield scimitars with no penalty. A scaling character ability (Hello WOTC, please do this more!) that is awesome – the dervish dance which lets you move and full attack. No dead levels! A reason to take this PrC all the way – how many PrCs can honestly claim this? Decent skills.

The Cons:
Bad fort save – something frontliners need to watch for but easily compensated for by base entry classes. Feat requirements are somewhat hefty. That’s it.

The Whirling Dervish archetype:
This is one of the few classes that make TWF viable because it provides alternative bonuses to damage which TWFs need. It also lets TWFs get in all their attacks whenever they want; often times TWFs can only attack once which defeats the purpose of having two weapons. Scimitars, with their high threat range, make the whirling dervish with their seven attacks per round and +5 bonuses to hit and damage a frightening opponent. The ideal is to slice up the bad guy and then move away thumbing your nose up at him as he can usually only respond with one attack. Yes, sign me up! Potential downside: DR and creatures not vulnerable to precision damage if your DM is hardcore on insightful strike.

The Power Dancer:
Dervishes normally aren’t known as brutes but they make damn good power attackers. Their BAB will be high and they’re going to have +5 bonus to every attack that is begging to be converted into damage. They’re not leap attackers, but the ability to move up to a bad guy, take 4 power whacks and then safely move away is rather appealing :D. Your charging raging barbarian buddy just gets 1 attack and has to sit there with a -4 AC and receive the brunt of a full attack.

Fool’s gold:
The charismatic Dervish. Attractive at first sight with bard and snowflake wardance but probably not worth the trouble. The problem is the Dervish suffers from MAD (Multiple attribute disorder - see below) and Dervishes do not need bonus to hit, they need bonuses to damage. If you can convince your DM to wardance with a two-handed weapon so you can power attack, then maybe – but how is your strength going to be high enough in the first place?

Dervish Abilities:



Dervish Dance: Duration is based on ranks, all the more reason to dump cha. The Dervish’s ability to take 10 on tumble checks can help nail the accelerated tumbling DCs. The faster your dervish is, the better suited she is to position herself in a square to get flanking bonuses and such (which is another reason I like barbarian). The power to be able to move, get a full attack, and move away not to receive a full attack in return is *awesome*.

Slashing blades: You can use scimitars as light weapons for all purposes. I, and many DMs I’d imagine, would interpret this as nixing any idea of power attacking with the scimitars. It’s not that big of a loss since hopefully you have another source of damage with int (Swashbuckler). If you want to power attack with 2 weapons, go oversized TWF or Revenant Blade.

Fast movement: Unfortunately this is an enhancement bonus. This makes little sense to me as it is through the Dervish’s skill rather than magic (note: it is an Ex ability) that enables this. It is worth a try to convince your DM to make it a competence or unnamed bonus because there will be times you need that extra 10 feet of movement.

Elaborate Parry: This ability is independent of combat expertise; that is it doesn’t activate when you use the feat. It does activate when fighting defensively (something different, see PHB) or take the total defense action. Normally I don’t think playing passively is optimal, but the Dervish does it better than anyone else. Fighting defensively will net you +7 AC (+2 normal +1 tumble +4 elaborate parry) for a -4 penalty to hit – and this stacks with combat expertise - which makes it an effective tactic against say nasty undead with level draining powers.

A Thousand Cuts: Your DM will hate you when you use this ability, but it is only 1/day.

Becoming a Dervish:



Requirements are somewhat steep.
BAB: +5
Skills: 3 ranks in perform (dance) and tumble
Feats: combat expertise, dodge, mobility, weapon focus (any slashing weapon). Note: Get expeditious dodge from ROW. It counts as dodge, is a superior feat, and you’ll use it every time you dance.

This means you need an int and dex of 13, so the Dervish has some MAD and little room for stuff like charisma. The most practical and simplest way around this is by synergizing these stats with the Swashbuckler class from CW which gives int to damage with insightful strike and free weapon finesse (dex to hit).

Stats:



TWF Whirling Dervish: I’d put my stats in this order:
dex > int > con > str > wis > cha.
Dex keeps you alive (you can’t use a shield) and fuels your to hit bonus, and maybe damage (if elf), that’s got to be the highest. Int for damage and also skills so you’re useful out of combat. I can see an argument for con second, but you have a high hit die and you won’t be on the receiving end of too many full attacks. Cha is the dump stat.

Power Dancer: I’d put my stats in this order:
str > dex > con > int > wis > cha.
Note int has to be 13 so you need decent scores to pull this off. You also want dex to be decent since you are in light armor and want combat reflexes (see below). I think it can be done with 28 point buy like so: 16, 14, 13, 13, 10, 8 or 15, 14, 14, 14, 10, 8 if you want some extra skills and HPs.

Races:



Human: as usual, probably the best choice since Dervishes are voracious when it comes to feats. Bonus skill point is gravy.

Elf: +2 dex is good. -2 con is not crippling since you wont take too many full attacks. Best thing about elf is it opens up Champion of Corellon Larethian which grants dex to damage (but it is precision).

Azurin: Extra feat and extra essentia if you go the incarnum route. Doesn’t get the human’s bonus skill though.

Whisper gnome: +2 dex, +2 con, 30 foot movement. You don’t care about -2 cha and most likely you can live with -2 str. This is a very good race period, especially so if you are a stealthy dervish.

Thri-Kreen: 4 arms! Grab the MM2 version as it’s only +1 LA. You’ve got to eat 2 useless racial levels and be sure to take entry classes with high fort saves or else it will really suck.

Lesser Tiefling: get +2 int and +2 dex with no LA (but I think that's pretty much all you get along with -2 cha)

Avoid: Dwarf (slow), 1/2 orc (bad race with int penalty to boot).

Optimal Entry Classes



Swashbuckler 3: Get this if you are going TWF, you want free weapon finesse and int to damage. Decent skill set (you get tumble) and decent number make this an attractive first level. Convince your DM to let you use finesse for scimitars once you take weapon focus (role-play it as practicing for Dervish or something...pointing out the already finessable rapier is virtually the same weapon may help) Note: the int to damage is technically precision damage, something not talked about enough. If your DM ignores this great. If she doesn’t, be prepared to be annoyed by non-crittable bad guys.

Monk 2: I’d like this a lot more if I like the monk’s flavor. Still, the cobra strike variant in UE gives dodge and mobility for free aside from monk’s saves, unarmed strike, decent skills (both perform and tumble!) and evasion. Only bad side is loss of BAB and stuck being lawful if that matters to you.

Barbarian 2: Yes. Seems contradictory but no no no its not. +10 unnamed speed; you need this since the Dervish’s bonuses are unfortunately enhancement. Uncanny dodge is a highly underrated ability, especially since you’re relying on dex for AC. Rage is always a nice backup for dancing – especially since you wont be dancing until level 6 at the earliest and even then only 1/day. Note: Whirling rage from UE fits both flavorwise and mechanically. Ask your DM nicely. Skill number is good, even if list is somewhat ehh.

Fighter 2: Face it, you need feats. The PrC is a feat hog to begin with, TWF exacerbates this problem.

Ranger 2: Gives you TWF for free and good skills (though the list isn’t Dervish friendly). You also get a bunch of things you’ll never use like track, wild empathy, etc. One potentially nice thing about the ranger, if you thinking long-term, is that 1 level opens the door for the Highland Stalker PrC and more skirmish without losing BAB. On the whole, I think other entry classes are superior to ranger, save for convincing your DM to let you trade in all the useless ranger crap for say the barbarian’s fast movement ability (certainly makes more sense from a role-playing perspective: you are moving on the battlefield, not tracking).

Scout 1-7: How far you take scout is how well it fits into your ultimate Dervish plan (I think Power Dancers should stay away from scout since you lose BAB). Try to convince your DM to let scout’s movement bonus stack with Dervish (why they are enhancement I’ll never know – these classes aren’t magical). Skirmish is dynamite for a dervish; you’ll always use this and is a much needed added damage for TWF and the AC doesn’t hurt either. This + evasion makes Scout 5 and its painful 2 BAB loss arguably worth it. Scout 2 nets you uncanny dodge, Scout 3 grants +1 AC and maybe movement, Scout 4 gets a free feat. 8 skill points a level is nothing to sneeze at either. If you went for Scout 5, might as well grab Scout 6 for the +1 on all saves, BAB, and ability to move through bad terrain which might prove useful.

Totemist 2: You lose a BAB. You get potentially a lot in return. The soulmelds that grant claw attacks are good because they are slashing and girallon arms can make your whirling dervish get even more attacks (especially nice with rend!). Grabbing +2 ac from wormtail belt requires no essentia and blink shirt lets you dimension door at will. Be Azurin and take bonues essentia at either 6 or 12.

Warblade X: D12 HPs, good fort save, decent skills, underrated uncanny dodge, and some INT synergy. Grab counters and boosts.

Intriguing Entry Classes:



Ardent 2: You lose a BAB, need to make your wis score 11, and it doesn’t help with fort saves, but Ardent 2 looks to me like a strong dip for any class. The conflict (saves a feat) and freedom (untyped movement) mantles fit with the Dervish nicely.

Incarnate 2: Loss of BAB, low hit die, and the probable lack of essentia make the otherwise appealing Incarnate difficult to synergize with Dervish. That being said, if you’re willing to invest in bonus essentia and lose another BAB taking the class to 4, some of the soulmelds like bluesteel bracers (especially for TWF) and impulse boots add versatility. Totemist is still better though I think.

False Starts:



Swordsage: You lose BAB, do not help your weak fort saves, have no WIS, and get only D8 HPs. Warblade is better. What does Swordsage get? Limited weapon focus, a small bonus on initiative, and one extra readied maneuver. I think it is possible to make a good Dervish with Swordsage with a lot of thought, but 9 times out of 10 I'd reckon Warblade is easier and better.

Rogue: Take scout instead.

Samurai: Worse than fighter. Please use the same weapons for TWF (weapon focus and improved critical feats).

Bard: Now cha can’t be a dump stat; hope your rolls are high. Also your fort save and HPs will suck. Hope that 2nd level spell was worth it.

Psi-warrior 2: Lose a BAB and don’t get much except for the possibility of taking psionic feats. There are better things to do with your rolls than putting 13 in a dump stat for speed of thought. Go for ardent if you want psionics.

Synergizing PrCs:



Champion of Corellon Larenthian: (ROW) The crown jewel here is the 2nd level ability elegant strike here which adds dex to damage (limits: finessable weapons, precision). Hefty requirements: need to be an elf or half elf, mounted combat and weird weapon focus/proficiency requirements.

Tempest: PrC has god awful feat requirements but you’ll have them all as a dervish and it grants furthers bonuses for TWF.

Thief-Acrobat: If you picked up evasion and some rogue skills, the acrobat's abilities are quite handy to have.

Invisible Blade: You've got to waste feats to pull this off, though dual wielding kukri makes for an effective and flavorful character.

The Revenant Blade PrC from the Player's Guide to Eberron lets you do nasty things (such as power attack) with a double scimitar if you are an elf. Potentially amazing synergy.

Highland Stalker: You need skirmish and track to get into this full BAB class that ups your skirmish damage. One level of scout and ranger gets you both.

Shadowdancer: This PrC isn’t really that good, but is frontloaded enough with lots of useful abilities to cherry pick if you happen to meet the pre-reqs. I wouldn’t go out of the way to grab it though.

Exotic Weapon Master: If you went duel bastard swords, trip attack might be useful. The power dancer with a high strength find uncanny blow appealing if he’s willing to invest a feat in a bastard sword.

Feats you’ll want:



Weapon Focus: required.
Dodge: Ditch, get expeditious dodge instead. It gives you +2 AC vs. everything if you move 40 feet.
Mobility: required
Combat Expertise: required.

Whirling Dervish:



TWF, ITWF, GTWF: doh!

Improved critical: try to get this at 9th level (hopefully you’ve got ITWF by then). Lots of folks scoff at this feat because there is a scabbard of keen edges and the keen enhancement. The scabbard costs 16000 gp – more than ½ your expected wealth at 9th level – and uses a standard action to activate. Oh, you need 2. The keen weapon enhancement runs you 6000K per scimitar, not exactly cheap. Also because you have issues with DR, you will need a golf bag of cold iron, silver, and adamantine scimitars – good luck affording to keen all them by 9th level. You really don’t want to wait until 13th level to afford to take advantage of the great crit range of scimitars; just get the feat and spend your money on something more useful.

Versatile Unarmed Strike (PHB II): This allows you to treat unarmed strikes as slashing weapons. Combine with Monk builds, you get 3 (unfortunetly weak) extra attacks while dancing.

Elusive target (CW): Probably the best tactical feat there is. Oh, it should still work with expeditious dodge (though you still need to select a specific foe..not a problem since they are all affected by dodge).

Flay foe (CoR): If you’ve got 15 str, its adds +1d6 damage to all your hits after the first one.

Two weapon rend (PHB II): not as good as flay foe, but still useful.

Close quarters combat (CW): grappling will ruin your day and your character. All melee characters should have this feat.

Acrobatic Strike (PHB II): +4 to hit on opponents you tumble past (i.e. free +4 to hit everything). Synergize this with elaborate parry to get great AC or power attack!

Combat Acrobat (PHB II): only situationally useful, but being vitually immune to trips and difficult terrain is awfully nice when those situations arise.

Double hit (Mini): use both scimitars for AOO.

Karmic strike (CW): an interesting choice for sadists. I think this works better for the Power Dancer, but you meet the pre-reqs and combined with combat reflexes make make your dances memorable

Robilar's Gambit (PHB II): I think Karmic Strike is a little better as the AC penalty can be mitigated, but this lets you attack even if the bad guy misses

Combat reflexes: I wouldn’t take this unless you plan on karmic striking.

Oversized TWF (CV): Normally this feat isn’t very good, but the Dervish can dual wield bastard swords to make it worthwhile. Else avoid as slashing blades makes this pointless.

Note: that is a ton of feats. Please avoid the pitiful TWF defensive tree.

Power Dancer:



Power attack: use your dance bonuses and flanking position to removes any ugly DR issues or just flay your foe into oblivion.

Combat reflexes & Deft opportunist (CV) & Karmic strike (CW): Don’t tumble while dancing (your useless mobility feat will cancel Karmic strike AC penalty) and whack the hell out of anything which hits you. Oh, with the +4 bonus for deft opportunist, use that for more powerattack :D. With this combination, a dervish can literally wipe out a swarm of mooks before your wiz buddy reaches for her bat guano. Be sure to have close quarters combat for nasties with improved grab else don’t go karmic striking.

Improved trip: Use a guisarme. I’d get quickdraw too because you’ll be dropping lots of guisarmes over your career while dancing. With this feat, defensive throw (CW) + karmic strike makes for an amusing combo.

Short Haft: medium sized enemies no longer safe from reach fighting Karmic Strikers.

If your DM approves Dragon, Retribution (326) allows you to add +1 to your die roll for every 5 HPs an enemy hits you for. Works nice w/ karmic strike.

Hold the line: will put the smack down on annoyed opponents who charge you if you use a reach weapon (which you should if power dancing).

Again, that’s a ton of feats! Unless you are using a falchion, I wouldn’t go for improved critical (and even then with only one weapon and power attack to handle DR problems, I might eschew it altogether).

I think the Dervish should use a glaive or guisarme when powerdancing. You don’t have the issues associated with reach weapons since you can move and get a full attack and get to enjoy all the advantages. If your DM specializes in medium enemies (NPCs), I’d go falchion or grab Short Haft (PHB II).

The gold standard for whirling Dervishes:



Swashbuckler 3 / Fighter 2 / Dervish 10 / Tempest 5
The build defines elegance. Optimal cherry picking of base classes that a DM will likely approve (easy role-play justification and there is only 2) and not only completing PrCs (which will make your DM happy), but also synergizing them (which will make you happy). Simple, effective, and non setting specific. All TWF dervishes should meet this standard; if they can’t, you are making your character overly complicated. Note, this does not mean this build is the best; it is sort of like pizza - easy, simple, yet good.

The Power Dancer
Lawful: Monk (cobra strike) 2 / Fighter 2 / Ranger 2 / Dervish 10 / X 4
Chaotic: Barbarian 2 / Fighter 2 / Ardent 2 / Dervish 10 / X 4
Karmic strike is the way to go here. Don't even tumble while dancing. Allow your enemies to hit you, you hit them back and you use your dance bonus + deft opportunist to fuel power attack. End your dance near the party's cleric if you are low on HPs

Warchanting Dervish
Bard 2 / Barbarian 2 / Fighter 2 / Dervish 10 / Warchanter 4 [not in this order]
If you absolutely have to be a bard, Warchanter offers some promise.
Use a TH weapon. Interchange Warchanter and Dervish levels as you’d like Warchanter 3 soon for inspire recklessness which lets you lower your AC for power attack.

Thri-Kreen Terror.
LA 1 / Racial 2 / Scout 1 / Ranger 2 / Fighter 2 / Dervish 10 / Highland Stalker 2
For Ranger 2 try to replace TWF for Multiweapon fighting (you should, in MM it says this replaces TWF for multiarmed creatures). Int penalty may make Swashbuckler unappealing but Scout/Stalker works well here as all those attacks will yield lots of d6s. to Midaro for pointing out the nice synergy for Ranger/Stalker. If 4 scimitars bore you, be creative; wield a guisarme and two scimitars. Or pump your strength and use two bastard swords and grab EWM’s uncanny blow.

The Dervish Bastard
Barbarian 1 / Fighter 4 / EWM 1 / Dervish 10 / Tempest 4
Those fascinated with dual wielding bastard swords should go this route. The Exotic Weapon Master’s trip attack trumps the last level of tempest. More flavorful than optimized.

Dervish of Corellon Larenthian
Zemyla's Two handed Power Courtblade Dancer
Midaro's dual wielder that gets into CoCL ASAP

Incarnum Dervish
Evil Azurin: Swashbuckler 3 / Incarnate 4 / Fighter 1 / Totemist 2 / Dervish 10
Show

1 Swashbuckler - Weapon finesse(B), midnight dodge(B), mobility
2 Incarnate - (shape incarnate avatar: max essentia, bloodwar guantlets: whatever essentia left)
3 Incarante - combat expertise (shape impulse boots)
4 Swashbuckler - grace +1
5 Swashbuckler - insightful strike
6. Fighter - twf (b), Weapon focus (scimitar)
7. Dervish - dervish dance 1/day, slashing blades, movement mastery
8. Totemist - (shape wormtail belt)
9. Dervish - itwf, fast movement +5 ft
10 Incarnate - Expanded soulmneld capacity +1 (devote to avatar)
11 Dervish - Spring Attack, dervish dance 2/day
12 Totemist - bonus essentia, (bind girallon arms to totem: 1 essentia)
13 Dervish - dance of death
14 Dervish - dervish dance 3/day, fast movement +10 ft
15 Dervish - improved critical, improved reaction
16 Dervish - dervish dance 4/day
17 Dervish - fast movement +15 ft
18 Incarnate - gtwf, (shape whatever non combat essentia meld)
19 Dervish - tireless dance, dervish dance 5/day
20 Dervish - thousand cuts

Here you get 9 attacks with int to damage along with various moral and insight bonuses that bypasses pesky critters immune to crits...total incarnum bonus will be 13 . You don't need str so jack the dex as high as it can go and put 2nd highest score in int. The order can be tweaked, but the idea is to maximze the amount of essentia you can invest in the evil avatar.

Shou Dervishes
Zemyla's slashing unarmed strike Dervish
Otto's offensive-defensive bastard sword Shou Dervish

Versatile Unarmed Strike Dervish
Joseph Kell's Square Dancing Dervish

The Do Everything Dervish
Rogue 2 / Barbarian 1 / Fighter 2 / EWM 1 / Chameleon 7 / Dervish 7
With able learner and high int, your skills will be solid for this "combat" version. Go arcane and combat focus and fight with bastard sword for a "Power Dancer". Sub ranger for barbarian if you need to be the party tracker. Sub Exemplar for EWM if you need some skill mastery (UMD is nice) and fight with a glaive.
Rogue 2 / Swashbuckler 1 / Ranger 2 / Chameleon 7 / Dervish 7 / Exemplar 1
This is a more skill friendly build you'd want to twf and dump str to 10. If you are allowed flaws, switch Ranger 2 for two more levels of Swashbuckler if you don't need to track. Use Exemplar for UMD.

TOB Dervish
Girallon windmill flesh ripping Dervish

Psionic Dervish
Zemyla's pseudo-King of Smack
Complete Scoundrel has some useful things for Dervishes. Thanks to Eldarial fro bringing some of these to my attention.

Feats:

Daring Outlaw combines Swashbuckler & Rogue levels for grace reflex save bonus (who cares) and sneak attack which will add +2d6 to sneak damage since you have three levels of swashbuckler. This might be useful fo whirling dervishes.

Deadly Grace: This is actually quite useful. You get +1d6 untyped damage when you use combat expertise for -2. It is kind of like power attack that raises your AC. Definitely tempting for a TWF.

Improved Skirmish, if you got 5 levels of scout, this feat will increase your skirmish damage by +2d6 and your AC by 2. I see no reason not to take this feat if you have that many scout levels.

Swift Hunter combines ranger levels and scout levels for skirmish benefits. It's a way to get that extra +d6 to skirmish without losing a BAB.

I like the idea behind skill tricks. Some of these are rather potent.

Easy escape
is quite handy if you max escape artist.
Ditto for quick escape.
Same for escape attack

Listen is a class skill and listen to this is potentially quite useful.

Back on your feet
= get out of jail free.

Nimble stand
not quite as tricky as Back on your feat, but I'd still take it.

These tricks make the Battle Trickster class not too bad choice at all. The good fort save is welcome as is the bonus feat; it is certainly better than the fighter as you get a free skill trick and 2extra skill points per level.

---------------------------------------------------

I'm not sure ToB is going to help out the Dervish much as the strike maneuvers require a standard action (and thus one attack) which goes against everything the Dervish stands for.

That being said, some things in here can be cherry picked via dips.

The Crusader offers the furious counterstrike lasts a whole turn and will grant you +1 to hit and, more importantly for whirling dervishes, +1 damage. These bonuses go to +2 if you take Crusader to 4th level.

The Martial Spirit stance (Crusader exclusive) heals 2 HPs per hit. You'll probably never use the strikes once you enter Dervish so it is very annoying there are no boosts or counters for Crusaders in early levels.

The Swordsage loses a BAB which is bad. It does have 6 skills (tumble being one) and weapon focus (you've got to pick the right discipline).

A lot of these stances are appealing:

* Blood in the Water - for crit happy dervishes
* Hunter's Sense - scent is useful
* Child of Shadow - virtually a 24K magic item for you
* Step of the Wind - ignore annoying bad terrain
* Flame's Blessing - fire resistance

Grab boosts and counters. Counter Charge, Burning Blade, and Sudden Leap all seem useful. Wolf Fang Stike is one strike you'll actually occasionally use.

The Warblade I think offers the best synergy. You get full BAB, D12 HPs, Tumble as a skill, some intelligence synergy (relflex saves at 1, critical confirmation is nice at 3), uncanny dodge at 2, and a feat if you go to 5. The good fort save is also welcome.

Punishing stance
is good for a Dervish. Ideally you wont be around the bad guy for the -2 AC and +1d6 unnamed damage is exactly what the whirling Dervish needs.

Hunter's Sense and Blood in the Water are two other options.

Steel Wind is good low level strike as is Wolf Fang. Sudden Leap I'd take as a boost. At 3rd level, I'd probably take Emerald Razor though Wall of Blades will be more useful for high level Dervishes. At 5th I'd take Iron Heart Surge without a doubt.

The Shadow Blade feat allows dex bonus to melee damage weapons if you are using a Shadow Hand stance and a dagger (or unarmed strike if they are somehow slashing). I can think of worse things than having Child of Shadow giving me concealment and adding dex to damage w/ daggers. I'm not sure the investment is worth it though; TWF is already starved for feats and you can't use scimitars.

Snap Kick gets another attack in if you made your unarmed strikes slashing
Yay, a handbook for Dervishes!

Looks good. I'll dig into it later to see if there's anything that might be added.
Great work Xan.
Great work! Dervish is one of my favorite classes.

I like them unarmed so with a combo Cobra monk, Initiative of Draconic Mysteries and Dervish.

Something like

human Cobra monk2/swash3/IoDM4/Dervish10/xxx1 *


I went monk2/swash3/fight1/IODM4/Dervish10
So that I could put in close quarter fighting, before finishing with the twf chain.
Take the Carmendine Monk feat to get lots of milage from int for damage and lots of skills.

Or the old messy way:
Cobra monk2/fighter4/shiba1/IoDM2/Dervish10/xxx1
This is an oldy I made.
I've never played it so I'm not certain how good it is.
It's a dual weilding scimitar build, designed for Dexterity SAD. It gets Champion of Corellon Larethian ASAP, at which point you have Dex to hit, damage and AC.

Race: Elf (or Half Elf)

1 Ranger 1 - Weapon Focus: Longsword [1st]
2 Fighter 1 - (Expeditious) Dodge [Fighter 1]
3 Fighter 2 - Mobility [Fighter 2], Combat Expertise [3rd]
4 Ranger 2 - TWF [Ranger 2]
5 Swashbuckler 1 - Weapon Finesse [Swh 1]
6 Dervish 1 - Mounted Combat [6th]
7 CoCL 1 - Elusive Target [CoCL 1]
8 CoCL 2
9 Dervish 2 - TWF, Improved [9th]
10 Dervish 3 - Spring Attack [Dervish 3]
11 Scout 1
12 Dervish 4 - TWF, Greater [12th]
13 Dervish 5
14 Dervish 6
15 Dervish 7 - Flay Foe [15th]
16 Dervish 8
17 Dervish 9
18 Highland Stk.1 - (Open Feat) [18th]
19 Highland Stk.2
20 Dervish 10 or Barbarian 1

Edit: I previously missed a level of Dervish. So that forces out Wildrunner.
Elusive target (CW): Probably the best tactical feat there is. Oh, with expeditious dodge the conditions apply to ALL enemies.

FWIW, my DM would never allow a player to use expeditious dodge to work like this with elusive target. One reason why I did not pick ED as a feat for my Dervish.

The biggest problem I discovered with a TWF Dervish, which you mentioned in your original post, is DR. I played a TWF Dervish up to level 11 and he always had serious problems damaging constructs and such with his scimitars.

Once that character died, I worked on a Dervish that could overcome DR more easily. This is the character I am currently playing:

Scout 4/Fighter 2/Dervish 6/EWM 1

1 Scout 1 - Dodge [Human], Mobility [1st]
2 Fighter 1 - EWP: Bastard Sword [Fighter 1]
3 Fighter 2 - Power Attack [3rd], WF: Bastard Sword [Fighter 2]
4 Scout 2
5 Scout 3
6 Scout 4 - Combat Reflexes [6th], Combat Expertise [Scout 4]
7 Dervish 1
8 Dervish 2
9 Dervish 3 - Elusive Target [9th], Spring Attack [Dervish 3]
10 Exotic Weapon Master 1
11 Dervish 4 - Cleave (while Dervish Dancing) [Dervish 4]
12 Dervish 5 - Improved Initiative [12th]
13 Dervish 6

Thus far: +12 BAB and +8/+9/+6 Base Saves

This character can dish out a world of hurt in a hurry. Since he cannot use a shield while dancing, he almost always wields his Bastard Sword two handed, which is super nice for Uncanny Blow. I am currently debating on how to finish out the class (after I get 10 levels of Dervish of course ).

Scout 4 provides nice skills points and hit points are not too bad either. I have him wearing a mithril breastplate, so his AC is the best in the group as well or close to it.

This is a really nice thread and one I can appreciate, as Dervish is my favorite prestige class. Great work.

Dedric
You should note that Expeditious Dodge does NOT work with Elusive Target under many DMs.
(I think it also made the FAQ or Errata or something that it didn't but I may be mistaken ..or does it say "you must select a foe for your Dodge Feat" in the ET text?)

Rogue SnAt comes faster than Skirmish and you do get more skills. It's not a complete wash.

NB: CoCL is limitted to a specific and short list of weapons, some of which are not Finessable (longsword at least).

You have Elf at +2 Con instead of -2.

Wildrunner is certainly worthy of mention as a synergistic PrC -anyone taking CoCL should think long and hard before passing on it (best to go in with 3 Ranger levels imo). It does make *some* Cha important though.

I would not allow you to Finesse a scimitar until you have a level of Dervish.
Oopsy: Dervish can't dance while in a Rage of Frenzy so scrap the Wildrunner.
This build falls into the "two-handed power dancer" category and also as a battlefield controller.

Race: Elf
Alignment: any non-evil

Abilities (25-point buy):
Str 14 (+2)
Dex 15 + 2 racial + 5 levels = 22 (+6)
Con 12 - 2 racial = 10 (+0)
Int 14 (+2)
Wis 9 (-1)
Cha 8 (-1)

Abilities (32-point buy):
Str 16 (+3)
Dex 15 + 2 racial + 5 levels = 22 (+6)
Con 12 - 2 racial = 10 (+0)
Int 16 (+3)
Wis 8 (-1)
Cha 8 (-1)

1 Swash - Weapon Finesse, Dodge
2 Swash - grace +1
3 Fighter - Combat Expertise, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (elven courtblade)
4 Fighter - Mounted Combat
5 Swash - insightful strike
6 Fighter - Weapon Focus (elven courtblade)
7 Fighter - Mobility
8 CoCL - Improved Trip, Corellon's blessing
9 CoCL - graceful strike
10 EWM - trip attack
11 Dervish - dervish dance 1/day, slashing blades, movement mastery
12 Dervish - Power Attack, fast movement +5 ft
13 Dervish - Spring Attack, dervish dance 2/day
14 Dervish - dance of death
15 Dervish - Lightning Reflexes, fast movement +10 ft, dervish dance 3/day
16 Dervish - improved reaction
17 Dervish - elaborate parry, dervish dance 4/day
18 Dervish - Prone Attack, fast movement +15 ft
19 Dervish - tireless dance, dervish dance 5/day
20 Dervish - thousand cuts

This build focuses on dancing around, tripping people and getting extra attacks against them. It also gets Str x 1 1/2, Dex, and Int to damage.
Is elusive dance worth it with expeditous dodge? I mean if you're in dervish dance and doing your thing that makes you immune to power attack and attacks of oppertunity.
The Xeph race (SRD or Expanded Psi Handbook) should be mentioned as a good synergy race for Dervish.
Its racial burst ability provides competence bonus to speed, which stacks with the enhancement bonus from Dervish.
Re: Experiditous dodge & Elusive target. After re-reading the feat, it does seem DMs will nix the "negate power attack" and "diverting defense" option from all foes. Still, it is quite clear the feat allows you to specify one particular foe. Since all foes are affected by expeditous dodge, I cannot see how a DM would argue against allowing you to pick one specific enemy. So I agree it probably doesn't work as well as I first thought, but there is still no way dodge works better.

Re: Rogue & scout. Both grant 8 skills a level, both grant trapfinding and disable, both grant +1d6(s) extra damage. As scout's extra d6s are not dependant on circumstance (i.e. they will always apply), it seems the superior choice. If one wanted to go Invisble Blade, I could see rogue instead as bluff and sense motive are needed skills. Still, these are both on the Swashbuckler list as well - a class you'll still want in an Invisible Dervish build. My point is the rogue is a excellent class, particularly as a 1st level choice. However for dervishes, scouts seem to do everything and more.

Invisble Dervish:
Swashbuckler 3 / Dervish 9 / Invisible Blade 5 / Some combo of Rogue & Scout & Fighter 3. [not in this order]
This build is a beast with feats; you need twf tree and useless far shot & point blank shot.
Rogue 3: +2d6 sneak, evasion, but the feats are brutally slow; your build wont come together until too late.
Rogue 2 / Fighter 1: +1d6 sneak, evasion, and build comes together 3 levels faster - more than worth extra +1d6 in game you aren't starting at a high level.
Scout 1 / Fighter 2: +1d6 skirmish (better than sneak), and your build comes together 6 levels faster - not 20th level optimized, but probably the route I'd go if starting at a low level. Use Swashbuckler to get bluff and sense motive skills

Didn't think of Xeph, good call.

Zemyla: Good build w/ courtblade.

I'll link your builds to the 2nd page eventually.
I already made an Invisible Blade Dervish.
. Don’t allow any Drizzt backlash to spoil your fun with this class. Although it was designed to duel wield scimitars, the Dervish is flexible class and can be very powerful and quite flavorful without ever laying a hand on a scimitar.

Nice guide, but the above part was truly unneeded.
I'm also glad we're using pictures at the top

A good handbook so far, waiting to see what goes in the "more to come" part.
You should note that Expeditious Dodge does NOT work with Elusive Target under many DMs.
(I think it also made the FAQ or Errata or something that it didn't but I may be mistaken ..or does it say "you must select a foe for your Dodge Feat" in the ET text?)

I don't know of an offical ruling, but I think it's fair to designate a single opponent for Elusive Target.
Rogue SnAt comes faster than Skirmish and you do get more skills. It's not a complete wash.

You can get 2d6 Skirmish damage from Scout 1/Highland Stalker 2. You only lose +1 BAB. IMO this is a must if you already have Ranger 1 (for the required Track feat) in your build.
NB: CoCL is limitted to a specific and short list of weapons, some of which are not Finessable (longsword at least).

Dervish requires Weapon Focus in a slashing weapon, whilst CoCL requires Weapon Focus (longsword) or Exotic Weapon Proficiency in one of the Elven weapons. Weapon Focus (longsword) is the only way to fullfill both requirements simultaneously. It saves a precious feat. ;)
I would not allow you to Finesse a scimitar until you have a level of Dervish.

Agreed. My build would probably use a longsword/shield until his first level of Dervish.
The solution: Feycraft (DMG II) longsword. Sure, it costs more, but it's finesseable! I'm pretty sure there's an enchantment that lets you finesse a weapon, also.
Two other things to look into:

Eagle claws from sandstorm: Same damage and crit as scimitars but light and both piercing & slashing. This helps with DR and bonus piercing damage from other classes. There's also a feat, eagle's fury, allowing an extra attack with full strenght at -2 to hit. Stacks with TWF and is better than TWF.

Asherati from sandstrom: pros -Eagle claws are martial weapons, get sandswim which allows you to go under ground for total cover great for mobility classes, +1 nat armour, no level penalty. Cons-water bad.

Also, I'm not a fan of weapon finesse, low strenght, melee builds. You can hit but you can't hurt without bonus damage. Rogue & scouts get good bonus damage against some foes at the price of delayed entry into the class. In LG, it seems half the encounters are immune to crits.
human cobra strike monk 2/swashbuckler 3/initiate of the draconic mysteries 2/shou disciple 3/dervish 10

1 Monk - Improved Unarmed Strike(B), Dodge(B), Alertness, Carmendine Monk, flurry of blows
2 Monk - Mobility(B), evasion
3 Swashbuckler - Weapon Finesse(B), Power Attack
4 Swashbuckler - grace +1
5 Swashbuckler - insightful strike
6 IotDM - Combat Expertise
7 IotDM - claws of the dragon
8 Shou -
9 Shou - Roundabout Kick, Improved Trip
10 Shou - martial flurry (light)
11 Dervish - dervish dance 1/day, slashing blades, movement mastery
12 Dervish - Improved Critical (unarmed strike), fast movement +5 ft
13 Dervish - Spring Attack, dervish dance 2/day
14 Dervish - dance of death
15 Dervish - Knockdown, dervish dance 3/day, fast movement +10 ft
16 Dervish - improved reaction
17 Dervish - dervish dance 4/day
18 Dervish - Improved Natural Attack (unarmed strike), fast movement +15 ft
19 Dervish - tireless dance, dervish dance 5/day
20 Dervish - thousand cuts

Tactics: This build lets you fight with your slashing unarmed strikes. You can flurry, dance, and knock people down, and you get Int to your unarmored AC and to your damage. If you score a critical hit, you can get an extra attack, as well.
Would a monk using Gauntlets of the Talon (CompDiv, relic of bahamut) and weapon focus Unarmed strike qualify for dervish, since the gauntlets make your unarmed attacks slashing?
To races, add Lesser Tiefling (PGtF).

It's a great race for these types of builds. The Int bonus allows you to qualify for Combat Expertise that much easier. The Dex bonus is nice if you're going to buy any TWF feats. I've found that it works out pretty good overall.
Str: 10 points: 16 base (easy to build into respectable score from with level up and magic.)
Dex: 8 points: 17 base (qualifies for ITWF without needing ranger levels)
Con: 6 points: 14 base (could be higher, but not terrible)
Int: 4 points: 14 base (13 for Combat Expertise, 14 for bonus skill points)
Wis: 2 points: 10 base (no will penalty, but with monk and dervish this may be overkill)
Cha: 2 points: 8 base (-1 isn't that bad)

Notice especially how 32 points (10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 2) becomes an effective 37 points (10, 13, 6, 6, 2, 0) after racial adjustments.

To blow the dust off my old stand-by...

Lesser Tiefling
Ranger 2 / Fighter 2 / Cobra Strike Monk 2 / Thief-Acrobat 2 / Shou Disciple 4 / Exotic Weapon Master 1 / Dervish 7

Power Attack, Dodge, Mobility, Track, EWP: Bastard Sword, WF: Bastard Sword, Elusive Target, WF: Unarmed Strike, Leap Attack, TWF, ITWF, Karmic Strike

Anyway, it's pretty straight forward. It covers all the bases, good offense, good defense, good skills.

Cheers

Otto
Skarn is another good race, seeing as how they have built-in slashing weapons and a PrC that enhances them.

LE skarn

1 Ranger - Track, wild empathy, Combat Expertise
2 Ranger - Two-Weapon Fighting
3 Soulborn - Weapon Focus (spines), smite opposition 1/day
4 Soulborn - incarnum defense
5 Soulborn - Midnight Dodge
6 Spinemeld Warrior - Mobility, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, twin spine fighting
7 Spinemeld Warrior - noble familiarity, spine enhancement
8 Spinemeld Warrior
9 Spinemeld Warrior - Improved Natural Attack (spines)
10 Spinemeld Warrior - spine rend
11 Dervish - dervish dance 1/day, slashing blades, movement mastery
12 Dervish - Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, fast movement +5 ft
13 Dervish - Spring Attack, dervish dance 2/day
14 Dervish - dance of death
15 Dervish - Shape Soulmeld (totem avatar), dervish dance 3/day, fast movement +10 ft
16 Dervish - improved reaction
17 Dervish - dervish dance 4/day, elaborate parry
18 Dervish - Open Lesser Chakra (shoulders), fast movement +15 ft
19 Dervish - tireless dance, dervish dance 5/day
20 Dervish - thousand cuts
I always worry when I try a build that is extremely dependent on using a limited attack ability, like dervish dance. I feel like if you go the standard elf SwashBuck/Fighter/Champ of Corellon/Dervish you are quite usless out of your dance. Although I did like some of those monk builds previously listed, seemed like they'd be in complete control all the time and could simply slip into dervish dance when the going got tough. Am I wrong in this perception, will the dervish still be able to hold his own respectively in combat?
I always worry when I try a build that is extremely dependent on using a limited attack ability, like dervish dance. I feel like if you go the standard elf SwashBuck/Fighter/Champ of Corellon/Dervish you are quite usless out of your dance. Although I did like some of those monk builds previously listed, seemed like they'd be in complete control all the time and could simply slip into dervish dance when the going got tough. Am I wrong in this perception, will the dervish still be able to hold his own respectively in combat?

I think most non-spellcasters/manifesters tend towards a limited variety of tactics.
Ouside the Dervish Dance the above characters are still pretty potent.
Example: My build above has Dex to hit, damage and AC (up to +10 @ Lvl 20 before magical items), and 7 attacks on a full-attack even outside of the dervish dance.
I think the issue with most of these builds is against opponents immune to critical hits. That's the big problem with many of the extra sources of damage suggested here, (i.e. Insightful Strike, Elegant Strike, Skirmish, Sneak Attack...).

...but if you've found a character that doesn't have weaknesses we can close down this board.
...oh yeah, Pun Pun.
Otto, good call on the lesser tiefling. Does 4th level Shou let you flurry? I'm guessing that's why you stopped there.

Paintrain - you're certainly right you don't want to be a one trick pony, but I think the dance lends itself to different fighting styles to whatever the situation calls for. This is very much different from the leap attacker who all the can do is charge. Your dance allows you to go wherever you needs to be - even if obstacles are in the way - and get a full attack on whatver needs to be attacked. If you've got a trick, thats a good one to have.

I do agree you don't want to be reliant on precision with CoCL and Swash for all your damage. In fact, these players might do well to get a viscious scimitar or two somewhere in the golf bag - it's a +1 enhancement and does +2d6 extra damage per hit. Sure, you take 1d6 too, but it makes you useful vs constructs and such and you can always move away from the nasties. With 7 hits, you can do 21d6 damage, no save, no sr, no nothing to prevent at least 14d6 of that - all for taking an average of 24 damage. I'll take that rather than be useless for an encounter.
Oh, and a suggestion - Initiate of the Draconic Mysteries turns your hands into Slashing weapons.
Oh, and a suggestion - Initiate of the Draconic Mysteries turns your hands into Slashing weapons.

This from Races of the Dragon? I'm not familiar with the class, but that sounds great for those who dip into Monks.
It's from the Draconomicon.
Otto, good call on the lesser tiefling. Does 4th level Shou let you flurry? I'm guessing that's why you stopped there.

No. Martial flurry (any) is at 5th level. I stopped there for a couple reasons. The bonus feat for one, but more importantly, I can't find a way to get that 5th level and be comfortable with what I've lost.

EWM gives a good boost to damage.
T-A gives that good defensive boost.
Dervish 7 is a good cut-off point if you're not going for 10 levels.

Thief-Acrobat is probably the easiest to drop to 1, but I like the feel and flavor of it. Plus, 'agile fighting' fits with the character type I have in mind.

Actually, using a human for that build instead, you could drop it to 1 level of fighter.

Cheers

Otto
First off all:
This handbook is Nice!

Second: I have a question.
Should I go (wood) Elf Fighter(kensai)5/revenant blade 5/ dervish 10.
Or should i take tempest levels instead or does the -2 barely count?

Cheers
klode_me
Revenant Blade is so much better. Also, go ranger 1/fighter 4, since
THOU SHALT NOT TAKE AN ODD NUMBER OF LEVELS OF FIGHTER.

Revenant Blade is so much better. Also, go ranger 1/fighter 4, since

I'll take 5 levels of Fighter(kensai) a variant from DR #310 and choose double schimitar as chosen weapon.

Cheers
klode_me
Added some preliminary stuff on PHB II from the excerpt. Book looks real good I just preordered it.
Raptoran would be good. You start with a 40 ft. fly speed. Add five levels of Stormtalon and gain two free feats and an extra 20 ft. to your fly speed.
There is also a feat in PHBII that allows a monk to switch from slashing/piercing/bludgeoning from round to round....might make those Monk Dervishes more efficient.
Forgive the silly question, don't have my books with me; is scimitar a finessible weapon?
Is becomes one with levels in Dervish........................
Is becomes one with levels in Dervish........................

So intially taking a Wea Foc in Scimitar doesn't benefit from SWB's free Wea Finesse? Hmm, now that is a bummer.

Also, Dervish Dance can only be used with slashing weapons, yes? Ugh, that means I'm gonna have to rethink my Thinblade/Light Shield TWF idea.
Dervish Dance can only be used with Slashing weapons.


Weapon Focus stacks with Weapon Finesse and Swashbucklers 3rd level ability as well...... that has not changed.
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