I personally am a great fan of gish, and I've seen many others who share similar tastes for the fighter/mage hybrid. This thread is dedicated to teaching what gish are, how they work, and the various kinds people enjoy playing.
While the technical appliance of the term "gish" is for a "warrior then mage" build, it has been brought to my attention many people also enjoy "mage then warrior" builds. Therefore, I want to broaden the definition of gish when applying it to this thread's focus.
[size=+2]What is "gish"?
is the term used for any
fighter/mage build where the character's focus in both spellcasting and martial combat is at least somewhat equal and where both aspects of the character are viable. Spellcasting and Manifesting (for psionics) can usually be used interchangeably.
In order for a character to be considered "gish", they must be capable of higher level spellcasting (6th-9th level spells), or capable of attacks with BAB +15 to +18, or a combination of these two things. There are a few very rare exceptions to this rule and these, some examples being the hexblade, bard, 3.5 assassin, fist of zuoken, and warmind) and these are treated as very unusual characters despite their obviously gish-like abilities/tendencies.
Gish builds are arguably the best "glue" to any adventuring party simply because of their dual-purpose nature. There are various types of gish, as is indicated above, and while each one has its own unique role in a group they are all excellent characters for binding a party’s attributes.
In the next several sections, all aspects relating to gish will be discussed and this thread will be updated as much as possible.
[Size=+3]Part 1: Classes[/size]
When looking closely at a gish build, there is always the primary concern of early levels. Afterall, before acquiring any of the several mage/warrior prestige classes available, you are behind any “straight” caster in terms of spells and likely not strong enough in melee to hold your own against a “straight” fighter. This is actually only partly true. This section will focus on classes to start with and why they are useful in construction of usable gish builds. Your core starting classes are exceptionally important, as they will be a key factor in determining the sort of gish your build will be best suited for.
[size=+1]Part One: The "Warrior"
The Barbarian is second to none in terms of outright damage possible. Numerous tests have proven this, Rage being a key factor in all of them. However, once multiclassing away from a Barbarian, a character will loose access to the greater rages that make the class so effective in combat. That said, why would anybody start with this sort of class only to multiclass away from it and dilute the Barbarian’s power? Two words: Rage Mage. The ability to rage extra times per day, cast spells at higher power while raging, and eventually gain Tireless Rage and Warrior Cry make this single prestige class amazingly strong when combined with the Barbarian class’s abilities. Depending on the focus a character spends on Rage Mage, multiclassing out of that
isn’t a bad option either, as is discussed later in the Prestige Classes section. Combination Barbarian3/Wizard3/Rage Mage10/Eldritch Knight4 is remarkably powerful if the character focuses on buff spells, and this is simply one build (providing Base Attack +15, Tenser’s Transformation
1/day as a free action, Tireless Rage, and Wizard Caster Level 11, not to mention great starting HP).
Hexblade is a powerful starting class, without a doubt from anybody who has seen it. High base attack and d10 for hit die, good Will, a good skill set, full weapon proficiencies and ability to use and cast light armor without Arcane Spell Failure (referred to as ASF) are just some
of the goodies this class gets. Unlike other starting classes, multiclassing from the Hexblade is entirely unnecessary. The class is a stand-alone gish on its own, and multclassing away would only be to provide enhanced armor usage while casting spells (via Dragonslayer and Spellsword). However, as good a deal as this sounds for potential gish players, it must also be noted that the Hexblade’s spell selection (while greater then the Sorcerer’s) is limited to a low number per day and tops off at 4th level spells. Careful Hexblade players might look to multiclass a build similar to this: Hexblade5/Sorcerer3/Dragonslayer1/Spellsword1/Eldritch Knight10. This build provides a Base Attack of +18, Sorcerer Caster level of 14, access to 1st level Hexblade spells, no ASF from light armors (for Hexblade spells), and early-level Hexblade abilities. Hexblades are great for nongood characters who are careful builders and know what they want.
This is perhaps the most self explanatory class in regards to beginning your gish build. The boost to your Fortitude save, bonus feats at both 1st and
2nd level, and the high base attack and hit dice make this very attractive to choose. Weapon proficiency is also key here, as many prestige classes (example: Eldritch Knight, Spellsword) require proficiency in all martial weapons and in the latter example all armor as well. Choosing Fighter as your base "warrior" half is a good start because the bonus feats, while limited at such low levels, are what will determine the build’s fighting style in the future of its level progression. If a player chooses Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot, for example, this is a good setup to a ranged type of gish, either a light to middleweight martial gish or a simple spell-focused gish. Choosing Power Attack and Cleave would be good choices if one plans a middleweight or "tank"-type martial gish build who focuses on self-buffs and two-handed weapons.
Perhaps the least common of gish starting "warrior" classes is the Monk. This is attributed to the lower Base Attack, arguably the only downside to starting as a monk. Despite this one downside, the medium HP, full array of good saves, unarmed/unarmored combat ability, great skills, and bonus feats make the monk incredibly useful in gish builds, even if it might suffer a case of MAD (Multiple Attribute Distribution, the downfall of many potentially-good characters). Starting with 4 levels of Monk and multiclassing away to any primary arcane caster (will be referred to as PAC) or primary psionic "caster" (PPC?) would provide a solid basis for unarmed and unamored abilities, and with no real need for weapons a character can focus all of his or her resources into increasing their magic item arsenal to improved their ability scores and gather more wands/scrolls/etc. Monk4/Wizard or Sorcerer4/Dragonslayer1/Spellsword1/Eldritch Knight10 with Lightning Reflexes provides a solid character with incredible saves (+16/+10/+21, including Iron Will required for Dragonslayer), a +17 base attack bonus, moderate-low hp, very nice skills, unarmed combat ability (bonuses for being unarmored are minimal so this promotes wearing of light armor) and solid spellcasting ability with either Sorcerer or Wizard as a chosen PAC (Caster Level 15). While it typically takes a little longer to get into a gish-type prestige classes, the benefits in the end are usually well-worth it.
Having recently been pointed at the Rokugan Ninja class, I’ve decided to add this to the list of fighter types. With its primary save being Reflex, this presents something of an assassin/roguish feel and a bonus to an often suffering saving throw. Sneak attack and Uncanny dodge are great, as is Speed of Darkness (adding Intelligence to Initiative rolls). The great skill selection and nice number of skill points available make tjos almost a rogue/fighter who would benefit greatly from the addition of a Psion or Wizard. The lack of armor proficiency can hurt, but a level of Dragonslayer can change that and for stealthy assassin or sniper builds the Ninja is a strong starting point. The best part about the class though is that it, while providing the sort of Dexterity/Intelligence oriented abilities and skills that it does, maintains a full Base Attack bonus even if it suffers from a much lower HD then normal (d6 rather then the usual d10 or even less common d8). Like the monk, this isn’t a class that can be returned to once multiclassed away from, but then again there shouldn’t be any need
to run back to this class, neutralizing that as a downside.
While many people dislike the strict code of conduct of Paladins, they are actually one of the better classes available to support the martial side of mage/warriors. High base attack and hit dice, immunity to fear at first level, full proficiencies with weapons and armor, and at 2nd level the ability to heal himself and others and
add his Charisma bonus to saves make the an attractive choice for the gish's "warrior" at early levels. Paladin/Sorcerers are the best build for this, as it allows the high Charisma so important to the Sorcerer to buff the character’s saves with little to no effort at all while at the same time increasing the amount of healing the character can dish out. Although it is regrettable that once a player multiclasses away from Paladin they cannot return (without attonement
anway), beginning the first levels as a Paladin will provide a strong backbone for the character as it leaves Paladin to progress its primary spellcaster levels.
Many people see the Ranger’s smaller hit dice as a negative, but when it’s only an average of 1 hit point less per level and you gain the benefits of great skills and two good saves the tradeoff is more then made up for. Two levels provide a pair of bonus feats (Track and either Two-weapon Fighting or Rapid Shot), nice early-level boosts to Reflex, great skills in terms of skill points and available choices, and the high base attack so important in nearly all gish builds. Although a less-than-common choice, there are several prestige classes that actually work better if entered with levels of Ranger rather then Fighter or Paladin (Master of the Yuirwood, for example).
The Samurai is taken for a similar reason to the Fighter and the Paladin. The bonus feats at first and second level (first level being Exotic Weapon Proficiency for bastard sword, the second being Two-weapon Fighting) provide a built-in weapon style for Samurai-gish to work from if they’re willing to sacrifice a few more feats to enhance this double-weapon style. With full proficiencies (minus shield), high base attack, d10 for health, and free feats the Samurai is a good class for players who like honor-bound characters and still want effective martial ability for their gish builds.
Again a similar case to the fighter, Swashbuckler is a much "lighter" sort of starting warrior class. High base attack and d10 hit dice, very good skills compared to other primary fighter types, and an emphasis on Intelligence-based combat make this an ideal build for high-Dexterity Wizards. Fortitude is the primary save here. This class is best left after 3rd level, as 4th level Swashbuckler provides nothing and the first three levels allow a free feat, intelligence to weapon damage, a small bonus to Reflex. The proficiency with all simple and martial weapons and light armor is always helpful, as even without acquiring any mage/warrior prestige classes. The Swashbuckler is arguably the best martial class for would-be Bladesingers.
*found in Complete Warrior
[size=+1]Part Two: The "Mage"
The term "spellcasting" is most commonly referring to arcane spellcaster, but some of the best
gish builds, despite the limited prestige classes available, are actually psionic characters. Psions are a sort of a Sorcerer offshoot in that they "cast" without preparation and have and make some of the best "blasters". The bonus feat at 1st level is always helpful in meeting prestige class prerequisites or simply increasing the psion’s personal power. Metapsionic feats are superb for psions and the powers available to psionic characters are incredibly versatile. After finally having read thoroughly through my copy of Expanded Psionics, 3.5 psions no longer choose their primary manifesting ability score, but that makes them no less dangerous, only slightly less versatile. The sheer amount of augmented powers psionicists can bring to the table is amazing, as few other characters can belt out the sheer numbers psions can. Got a few extra powerpoints? Load up your energy burst
and then empower it.
Bonus feats aplenty, the Psychic Warrior is very powerful psychic gish starter. With medium base attack, it tends to not fall quite as far behind in BAB as the other primary casters/manifesters, even if it’s limited in the psionic power scope. Although only reaching 6 levels of psionic manifesting, these powers are nearly all combat oriented and all very useful. Wisdom is the key manifesting ability score, and while no extra power points are gained for high strength the increased DC and bonus to Will are pretty good tradeoffs. This build is excellent for multiclassing with other wisdom-based characters, such as Clerics, and I am working out a Cleric/Psychic Warrior/Mystic Theurge that should be pretty effective. With Fortitude as their good save, a d8 for hit die, and a decent skill list this class is excellent for martial gish of any kind, especially martial tanks, while at the same time providing just enough to be considered "mage" as well.
The epitome of blaster, Sorcerers are arguably the best gish out there. The high volume of spells per day, regardless of how limited they are, allow for continuous spell support and spell-focused Sorcerer gish are literally walking artillery platforms. Their machine-gun nature allows for a war-based spell list that can easily outshine many other gish casters in combat simply due to the repetitiveness (for example, a Wizard can only cast so many dispel
’s in a day before he runs out...). Martially-bent gish excel with the Sorcerer because of how many times they can cast Tenser’s transformation
While the Psion is an excellent class in regards to gish builds, the Wilder might be the more dangerous outright. Most Wilder players don’t particularly care to multiclass away, considering the benefits of the Wilder class at later levels, but gish Wilder are surprisingly effective. With the ability to boost their manifesting level (at the cost of potential psychic enervation) this functions as a sort of built in Practiced Spellcaster. The ability to Elude Touch (better avoid touch attacks) and surging euphoria make this a very attractive class for the "mage" part of a gish build. The low number of powers known but high number of power points (plus Charisma as a primary stat) make it a very good combination with Charisma-related fighter-type classes (paladin, samurai, swashbuckler) who can continuously manifest strong psionic powers. Metapsionics are great despite the Wilder’s lack of bonus feats.
Wizards, while lacking the sheer number of available castings as their Sorcerer counterparts, have the huge advantage in that they can learn a limitless number of spells so long as their spellbook is protected and metamagic feats will not extend the casting time of their spells if they prepare the metamagic feats with the spells ahead of time. Two fewer spells per day for each spell level seems like a bad tradeoff, but not needing an extra feat to simply cast metamagic spells at their normal casting time is more then a little helpful. The bonus feats this class acquires is also very helpful, as is Scribe Scroll at level one (allowing the Wizard to make many spell scrolls and allowing for a self-made spell "battery" ). Item creation feats can make up for the lack of spellcasting volume very easily. Wizards also gain new spell levels one level earlier then the Sorcerer, making it easier to gain access to prestige classes. The use of Intelligence as a primary spellcasting stat make a Wizard’s iffy skill list seem much better indeed as you learn you can max out many of the skills.NOTE
: Many of the prestige classes made for arcane casters (Dragonslayer, Eldritch Knight, etc.) can be almost literally translated into psionics with a few skill changes and name changes. Bladesingers and Spellswords require a little more work but are still easily doable. These adjustments are tricky only in the respect that psionics are not affected by ASF, so there will be some minor adjustments in the transitions to make it more balanced for psionic characters.
Prestige classes are the meat and bones to gish builds. There is no way a fighter-type10/mage-type10 can achieve the power of a simple Fighter2/Wizard4/Spellsword10/Eldritch Knight4. Therefore, this segment is for the various gish prestige classes available.BladesingerPrerequisites:
Elf or Half Elf, Base Attack Bonus +5, Balance 2 ranks, Concentration 4 ranks, Perform (dance) 2 ranks, Perform (sing) 2 ranks, Tumble 2 ranks, Combat Casting, Combat Expertise, Dodge, Weapon Focus (longsword or rapier), Ability to cast 1st level arcane spellsNOTE
: I personally include Elven Lightblade and Elven Thinblade in the Weapon Focus category, as they fit the class perfectly.Merits:
Bladesong Style, Lesser/Greater Spellsong, Song of Celerity, 2 good saves, d8 hit dieDrawbacks:
Odd levels do not progress spellcastingGood levels to jump out after:
Bladesingers have a unique spellcasting vs special ability progression. At every odd level, they increase spellcasting level, but with the exception of first level special abilities are only gained at even levels. First level is always good, as it allows a +4 dodge bonus when using a rapier or longsword (see above note) and nothing in the other hand and it also increases spellcasting level. After that, depending on what you want from the class will depend on what levels you go for. Lesser Spellsong isn’t worth shooting for, but Song of Celerity (4th) and Greater Spellsong (6th) are.Good drop-levels:
If you want to dip, only two levels of the class are necessary. This allows the above mentioned +4 dodge bonus and also the ability to cast defensively and take 10 on Concentration. After Greater Spellsong there isn’t really need to finish levels in the class, unless you really
want Song of Fury (allows an extra attack).Good lead ins:
Swashbuckler3/Fighter1/Wizard2, Fighter4/Wizard2 or Sorcerer2
: Alignment any evil, Disguise 4 ranks, Hide 8 ranks, Move Silently 8 ranks, Must kill someone for no other reason than to become an assassinMerits:
Brief but effective spell list, good skills, sneak attack, (Improved) Uncanny dodge, Hide in Plain Sight, Reflex save as good save (unusual for gish), spells cast spontaneously and in light armorDrawbacks:
Medium Base Attack bonus, d6 hit die, spellcasting encourages light armor, self-contained spell list and progressionGood levels to jump out after:
The assassin works excellent with Intelligence focused characters, especially caster-focused ones with an evil twist and a penchant for gift for killing. However, since the class has its own system of casting, it works best with at least 3 levels. You loose 1 BAB and 3 PCL (primary caster levels) in exchange for a few assassin-related spells and the ability to cast them in light armor. Level two provides Uncanny Dodge, which is nice for characters that don’t have it (as is the Improved version), poison use and death attack make good use of Intelligence, and sneak attack is perfect for invisibility
junkies. 5th level, if you’re loosing a good bit of PCL and 2 BAB, but have even more spells and even more benefits of this class.Good drop-levels:
The assassin, with a small handful of other prestige classes, works best as a gish compliment/supplement with at least 5 levels or so. You suffer a -2 BAB loss up to level 8, which isn’t bad. Levels 9 and 10 really aren’t needed.Good lead ins:
Rogue3/Swashbuckler3 is great for more martial ones, as is Rogue1/Wizard4/Swashbuckler3 if you’re willing to wait and focus on Spellsword and Eldritch Knight after a few assassin levels to further/finish up Wizard.
: Base Attack Bonus +5, Dodge, Iron Will, Tumble 2 ranksMerits:
Fear immunity, energy resistance, Damage reduction, Full BAB, d8 HD, two high saves and a bonus to the class's weak saveDrawbacks:
Every even level doesn't increase spellcasting, the biggest setback.Good levels to jump out after:
1st level is good for a boost to Fortitude and Will and a +1 to Base Attack, immunity to fear, and a level of spellcasting. 5th level is good for full energy resistance 5 and another spell level, and 6th level is good for another point of damage reduction and for the free feat (Lightning Reflexes). If you're going to 9th level you have another spell level and another point of Damage Reduction tacked on, but you also may as well take the 10th level and gain energy resistance 10 and the ability to use true strike
as a move action.Good drop-levels:
Any even level is a decent drop level, as you gain no real "benefits" and each even level delays your spellcasting progression. Levels 2, 4, and 8 are all useless, honestly. 6th level is alright, but neither greatly beneficial nor important simply because of its lack of spellcasting progression.Good lead ins:
Fighter2/Wizard4/Spellsword1, Paladin4/Sorcerer2. This PrC seems to be one to dip into later levels or shoot out for soon as possible and add on the extra spellcasting levels afterwards with Eldritch Knight or simply more Sorcerer levels.
: Profiency with all martial weapons, Able to cast 3rd-level spellsMerits:
Full base attack bonus progression and one-level-from-full spell progression is nothing to scoff at.Drawbacks:
First level doesn’t increase spellcasting level and there are no class abilities to speak of. D6 for hit dice is sorta ew, but easily forgivable if a character is smart and takes feats like Improved Toughness and has self-buff spells/powers.Good levels to jump out after:
Really any level past 1st. Levels 2-10 provide full Base Attack increase and full spellcasting progression, so any level of this class is as useful to get to as any other. This makes the Eldritch Knight the perfect “filler” class, one designed to raise BAB and Spellcasting.Good drop-levels:
See above.Good lead ins:
Aiming straight for Eldritch Knight is not typically a sound choice in gish building, as other classes can be acquired earlier and provide more benefits (with the exception as a straight PAC (or psionic caster) with the Militia feat. This having been said, Eldritch Knight is good to “finish off” the 20-level progression, or take at odd levels when you just want a bonus feat (at first level) or an increase in spellcasting and base attack.NOTE
: This, with the change of a few skills and words, this can easily translate into what I affectionately call “Cerebral Knight”, the psionic variant. Abilities are exactly the same, with the spellcasting progression replaced with psionic manifester progression.
Base Attack Bonus +3, Concentration 8 ranks, Mobility, Spring Attack, Able to manifest 1st-level powersMerits:
Two good saves, better manifesting progression then any Bladesinger or Spellblade equivalent, Scorn Earth, Dimension Step, Flanker, Dimension Spring AttackDrawbacks:
2nd, 5th, and 8th levels do not progress manifester level, medium BAB, d6 hit diceGood levels to jump out after:
As a personal fan of elocaters, I've played with ideas involving them quite a bit. 4th level elocater presents +3 to manifester level and +3 to BAB, along with two good save boosts to Reflex and Will and five good and useful abilities promoting mobile combat. 7th level suffers slightly from the medium BAB and being 2 manifest levels behind a full manifester, but still provides even more bonuses. Rising to 10th level elocater puts you at +7 to manifester level and +7 to BAB, along with great saves and a series of amazingly mobile abilities (dimension spring attack and accelerated action are extremely useful and deadly in martially-bent psionic gish).Good drop-levels:
Levels 2, 5, and 8 are great to drop at. Opportunistic Strike is nice and all, but probably the least used of the elocater's abilities and at each level it increases in bonus the elocater skips a manifester level.Good lead ins:
Psychic Warrior5, Psion1/Monk4, Psion2/Ranger3, Swashbuckler3/Psion2, Wilder2/Barbarian3
----------------------------------------------Fist of Zuoken*Prerequisites:
Base attack bonus +4, Concentration 9 ranks, Wild Talent, Still Mind class featureMerits:
Stacks with monk levels for unarmed damage/unarmored speed/AC bonuses, two good saves, quick power-point gain, two bonus psionic feats.Drawbacks:
Medium Base Attack, d6, very
limited power points and powers.Good levels to jump out after:
This is a very...unusual prestige class, even among similar ones that have their own stand-alone spell/power lists. The actual psionics of this class is fairly weak, but it's what it augments that makes this prestige class worth noting. A full monk with any number of levels in Fist of Zuoken is tough. However, he suffers from a lower Base Attack, making this a perfect candidate for a 4-level dip before running to Illithid Slayer or a similar class for BAB boosts.Good drop-levels:
Level 5 is when the second loss of BAB takes place, same with level 9, but otherwise there is really no difference between levels to get out. 5th and 9th are the best to drop at (4 levels of FoZ or 8 levels of FoZ).Good lead ins:
Fighter2/Monk5, Monk6, Psychic Warrior2/Monk4, any build is fine but at least 3 levels of monk are required.
(courtesy of Sang-Drax)Prerequisites:
Base Attack Bonus +4, Knowledge (arcana) 5 ranks, ability to cast 2nd level arcane spellsMerits:
Two high saves, d8 hit die, and Battlecast, which means that, by level 5, you may cast a 8th level or lower spell and make a single attack as a full round action.Drawbacks:
3/4 BAB and 3/4 casting means you lose 2 points of BAB and 2 caster levels in 5 class levels.Good levels to jump out after:
Taking all 5 levels seems to be the best option. If you're a sorcerer Gish and you don't want to take lots of Spellsword levels, you might take 4 levels to qualify to Eldritch Knight, as in Fig2/Sor4/SS1/HM4/EK X.Good drop-levels:
Taking 2 levels means you lose 1 BAB and 1 CL and the trade off is being able to Battlecast 2nd level spells - so not worth it. By 4th level, you lose 1 BAB and 2 CL for the ability to Battlecast 4th level spells. And you're 1 level away from Battlecast 8th and +1 CL. If you want to take this class, take all 5 levels.Good lead ins:
Fighter2/Wizard4; Paladin 2/Sorcerer 4/Spellsword 1 to qualify to EK without taking more Spellsword levels.
Base Attack Bonus +4, Knowledge (dungeoneering) 4 ranks, Track, Must have a power point reserve of at least 1 power point, must have killed an illithid, either individually or as part of a group composed of no more then six members.Merits:
Full BAB, nigh-full manifesting level, Lucid Buffer, Cerebral Blind, Breach Power Resistance, Cerebral Immunity, Blast FeedbackDrawbacks:
First level is essentially a dead level, unusual high save (Will)Good levels to jump out after:
Really, there are four main levels you want to go for in this prestige class. If only dipping, 3rd level for Lucid Buffer. If delving semi-deeply, 6th level provides permanent protection (requiring psionic focus) against detection by even the most powerful of spells and abilities. 9th level ups the ownage factor by providing Cerebral Immunity, essentially a permanent mind blank
that works even against the biggest baddest spells/psionics for as long as you're psionically focused.Good drop-levels:
First level is the only real dead level in this prestige class, though 5th level similarly provides nothing except another point to Base Attack and add another level to manifester. 4th and 7th are good drop-points if you want the Slayer for dipping purposes, and the latter at least leaves you with an undetectable nature (even foils the biggest, baddest spells and psionics).Good lead ins:
Psychic Warrior6, Swashbuckler3/Psion2, Wilder4/Ranger1
(courtesy of RadicalTaoist)Prerequisites:
Base Attack Bonus +3, Heavy Arrmor Proficiency, Invest Armor, Concentration 8 ranks, Ability to manifest 1st level powers.Merits:
d10 Hit Die, only loses a manifester level at 1st and 6th, Armored Mind, Mind over Matter, -/x damage reduction while psionically focused in heavy armor, Mettle of Will, Barbed Mind at level 10Drawbacks:
Medium BAB. That's. About. It.Good levels to jump out after:
5th, if you don't want to lose a 2nd manifester level. 5th grants you Mettle of Will (only applies to Will saves, sorry) which ain't half bad.Good drop-levels:
Really, every level of this class is pretty sick. D10 Hit Die??? 6th is the weakest level, with no manifester progression and granting another daily use of Mind over Matter (use your Will save in place of a Fortitude or Reflex save as an immediate action). Definitely a PrC worth going all out in, even though the 10th level ability Barbed Mind isn't stunning (good, mind you, but not stunning).Good lead ins:
Psywar5, Psion4/Fighter1, Psion3/Ftr2, also segues into PrCs like Warmind and Illithid Slayer (which grants heavy armor proficiency) very nicely.
: Any nonevil, Bluff 8 ranks, Diplomacy 8 ranks, Knowledge (local) 12 ranks, Perform 12 ranks, Sense Motive 8 ranks, Spellcraft 8 ranks, Alertness, Iron Will, Able to cast 2nd-level arcane or divine spells, Approval of the High Harpers or majority vote of any dozen master Harpers.Merits:
Two good saves, Full spellcasting progression, bonus featsDrawbacks:
d6 hit die and medium base attack bonusGood levels to jump out after:
1st level is a good dip level, providing a bonus feat and the equivalent to bardic knowledge. 2nd level is good to get because it provides another free feat (an item creation feat). After that the only level truly worth shooting for is 5th, simply because you acquire another bonus feat and immunity to lycanthropy (as well as the ability to cure it).Good drop-levels:
If you are only dipping, any level after the first or second is good to leave at. The abilities are sorta weak for the HD of this type of class, even though full spellcasting AND medium BAB is not necessarily a bad thing. No levels are needed past 5th.Good lead ins:
Due to the steep
prerequisites skills, this class is much harder to qualify for. Wizard3/Ranger5/Dragonslayer1 sets up nicely for it and provides a measure of safety, and similar Sorcerer builds (ie Sorcerer4/Ranger4/Dragonslayer1) work too. Since Iron Will is required by both, it's good to go ahead and grab Dodge to dip into both Dragonslayer and Master Harper for fear immunity and a couple bonus feats.
----------------------------------------------Master of YuirwoodPrerequisites:
Elf or Half Elf, any nonevil, Knowledge (nature) 5 ranks, Survival 10 ranks, Alertness, Track, must qualify to select regional feats from Aglarond or the star elf region (Faerûn)Merits:
Full spellcasting progression, good skills (points and selection), Uncanny Dodge, pass without trace
, Forest’s Grace, d8 for hit dieDrawbacks:
Medium BAB increase, Faerûn-exclusiveGood levels to jump out after:
2nd level is almost a must. Since every level increases spellcasting, 2nd level also adds Uncanny Dodge to your list, and at 5th level Improved Uncanny Dodge.Good drop-levels:
Because of the Faerûn-exclusive abilities, anything past 5th level should be treated as completely optional. The slightly lower than full BAB and Work Menhir Circle abilities aren’t usually worth it, although Forest’s Grace (adds Charisma to saves) is very good to have.Good lead ins:
Ranger6/Sorcerer1 --- Since this prestige class has such steep skill requirements, levels of Rogue might be recommended to augment Ranger levels, although I suggest simply waiting until slightly later levels (9th-12th) to take up this PrC.NOTE
: Since this is a very Faerûn-exclusive PrC, it isn’t encouraged to take unless a DM allows for this to be changed a little (replacing Work Menhir Circle ability with something else, for instance).
Any evil, Disguise 4 ranks, Hide 8 ranks, Move Silently 8 ranks, Manifester Level 5th, the character must kill someone for no other reason than to become an assassin.Merits:
Great special abilities, primary save is unusual for gish PrCs, great skills and Intelligence synergyDrawbacks:
medium base attack, d6 hit die, manifester level progresses at +1 level at each even levelGood levels to jump out after:
Any level is good to jump for. 4th level is good, as you have poison use, death attack, +2d6 sneak attack, +2 save against poison, and uncanny dodge. 8th level provides Hide in Plain Sight and has yet more sneak attack.Good drop-levels:
Really any odd level is alright to drop out at. The psionics doesn't increase on odd levels, but the only complication here is that odd levels tend to give some attractive benefits (Sneak Attack, uncanny dodge, special abilities). This is a "take what you want and leave" PrC, and is quite playable up to 10th level.Good lead ins:
Psychic Rogue5, Rogue1/Psion5, Swashbuckler3/Psychic Rogue5
----------------------------------------------Psychic Weapon Master
: Base Attack Bonus +5, Ability to manifest a 3rd-level power, must have a crystal melee weapon, Dodge, Mobility, Power Attack, Psionic Dodge, Psionic Weapon, Weapon Focus, Weapon Proficiency (weapon of choice).Merits:
Full base attack bonus, d8 HD, decent skills per level (4 + int), only misses out on three manifester levels, bonded weapon, psionic damage, increased multiplier, power critical, psionic whirlwindDrawbacks:
must maintain a power point reserve of at least 11 to maintain maximum effectiveness, steep prerequisitesGood levels to jump out after:
This is probably the worst prestige class to merely dip into. First level sucks, but is a good precursor to what happens later. The more levels you take in the class, the better the benefits. Since BAB does not suffer and manifesting barely suffers, all levels are good to go for. Increasing the multiplier of your weapon starting at second level makes it very attractive and power critical at 7th level augments this perfectly by increasing threat range. Psionic damage (maximizes weapon damage) is awesome as you gain more levels and can use it more often per day and first acquire it at first level.Good drop-levels:
The best level to drop at is after 5th. 5th level provides no increase in manifester level/power points and has a weak ability, not to mention no save increase. The other levels just bring too much benefits to ignore, especially with bonded weapon.Good lead ins:
Psychic Warrior7, Psion6/Fighter2
: Any nonlawful, Base Attack Bonus +4, Combat Casting, Able to cast 2nd-level spells, Rage or Frenzy ability.Merits:
Spell rage, overcome spell failure, Spell fury, Tireless Rage, Warrior Cry, d8 HDDrawbacks:
Odd levels do not increase spellcasting, medium BAB increaseGood levels to jump out after:
2nd level is the perfect level to get to for simple dipping purposes, as a character will have spell rage 1/day and will be able to ignore 10% spell failure.Good drop-levels:
Depending on what the player wants, this is a tough decision. 4th and 6th level receive no benefits except save increases and increase in spellcasting level. Those are the only levels, however, that a character is not
gaining an ability of some sort, be it more raging, more spell rage, or any of the other abilities. If dipping only two levels are necessary, as any more compromise increase of spellcasting level.Good lead ins:
: Combat Casting, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword), any one metamagic feat, Able to cast 3rd-level arcane spells and knowledge of at least four evocation spells, Able to read Roushoum and the Imaskari script, Proficient with all martial weapons, The character must find a mentor who already has levels in Raumathari battlemage and spend at least ten days studying in the mentor's company (during this time of study, both mentor and student must spend at least 8 hours a day in training).Merits:
Nearly complete spellcasting progression, sword focus, Channel Spell, Battle SpellDrawbacks:
low hit die (d4), medium base attack progressionGood levels to jump out after:
Virtually every level in this prestige class is worth acquiring. From using the bastard sword as a focus for spells (replaces most material components, gains ability at 1st level), to channel spell (lesser form of Spellsword's channel; gained first at first level), to battle spell, which allows certain metamagic feats to be used X / day without increasing casting time or adjusting spell level, this class is exceptionally good at what it does. Except for the matter of LOW hit points. 3rd and 4th levels are excellent to go for for dipping purposes, for more extensive class-taking 6-10 are all good levels.Good drop-levels:
5th level is the only real "dead" level of this prestige class, as it provides a weak ability and no progression of spellcasting. Furthermore, it slows down BAB progression by 1 more. If you're serious about this PrC, tough it out and move on, if you only want minor dipping then use 5th level as the dropout point and take only 4 levels of the Raumathari battlemage.Good lead ins:
(Militia) Sorcerer6, Fighter1/Wizard5NOTE:
This class is also very Faerûn-exclusive, but it is still very useful. Changing the prerequisites is the only necessary change needed, actually, and I should think this would be no problem for any DM.
: Alignment any good, Knowledge (the planes) 7 ranks, Knowledge (religion) 10 ranks, Able to cast dismissal
or dispel evil
. Adopting this prestige calss requires the sanction of a church or order that ordains sacred exorcists and only characters judged by their church to be exemplary in faith and devotion, strong of will and upright in morality, are made sacred exorcists.Merits:
Full spell progression, proficiency with all simple weapons, chosen foe (undead or evil outsiders), turn undead, Extra Turning, Consecrated presence, dispel evil.Drawbacks:
unusual good save (will), medium base attack bonus, somewhat steep knowledge prerequisites.Good levels to jump out after:
Perhaps the most devastatingly useful prestige class for sorcerers, 1st level alone makes this prestige class worth it by allowing a slight bonus against either undead or evil outsiders and, more importantly, the ability to turn undead as a cleric. Divine Might anyone? 4th level allows dispel evil
, increases the bonus against the sacred exorcist's chosen foe, and the level before you gain Extra Turning. 5th level gives no bonus to saves OR Base Attack, but the increase of spellcasting an the gaining of Concetrated Presence makes all five of these levels worthwhile. Any levels taken after 5th are gravy, all useful but none absolutely necessary, either giving another Extra Turning, another dispel evil
use, and a Chosen Foe bonus.Good drop-levels:
The only "prime" drop point of this prestige class is at 9th level, which gives you another Extra Turning (number three in fact) but on its own decreases again in base attack; most gish builds don't want to slow down their BAB progression too much. The rest of the PrC is simply too nice to ignore and any level's as good/bad as another to drop out.Good lead ins:
This is a later-gained prestige class, not something to aim for from first level. To help with the Knowledge requirements, though, Educated is a good feat to take (taken at 1st level only, makes all knowledge class skills, +1 bonus to knowledge checks with two particular knowledge areas). As long as you acquire dismissal
(a useful spell anyway) and have the requisite skills this PrC is a sinch to get into mid-late levels (likely levels 10-16 is when the first level of this should be acquired, even if it's only a dip).NOTE:
Sacred exorcist is the second simplest class to convert into psionic use. A rule that psionic dismissal
counts for the spell requisite and ruling "+1 level of existing class" includes psionics as well makes this perfect for a certainly flavorful character (psionic exorcists...hm...)
: Base Attack Bonus +4, Knowledge (arcana) 6 ranks, Full armor and weapon proficiency, Able to cast 2nd-level arcane spells.Merits:
Ignore Arcane Spellfailure, Channel Spell (by far the best feature), Full BAB, d10 HD, two high savesDrawbacks:
Every even level doesn't increase spellcasting, the biggest setback.Good levels to jump out after:
1st level provides a +1 to BAB, ability to ignore a little Arcane Spell Failure, a boost to Fortitude and Will, and a level of spellcasting. 5th level allows for even better armor-wearing ability and Channel spell rocks no matter how you look at it. 9th level spellswords allow you most of the class abilities, good BAB and saves, and of course you by now ignore most arcane spell failure (30%...adamantine full plate, anyone?). 10th level gives the shining gold of this PrC by allowing up to two channellings of spells, a truly devastating ability that gets more dangerous at high levels.Good drop-levels:
Any even level is a decent drop level, as you gain no real "benefits" and each even level delays your spellcasting progression.Good lead ins:
----------------------------------------------Vassal of BahamutPrerequisites: Merits:
Full base attack bonus, d10, imperious aura, platinum armor, dragon senses, shared trove (lots of free money)Drawbacks:
doesn't progress any spellcasting but has own small divine spells, Good levels to jump out after:
Level 1 is the ONLY recommended level of this PrC. It gives platinum armor, which is simply awesome. However, 2nd level gives access to a divine spell, gives lots of platinum, and gives dragon senses. That said, for gish builds only one or at the most TWO levels are useful.Good drop-levels:
Any level after 2nd and including 2nd. A gish does not need to try and progress too much in a class that does not improve spellcasting ability.Good lead ins:
This is too difficult to determine, considering the steep BAB and the feat requirements. More than likely this will be taken at 10th level or so; any lawful good-BAB +7-vow taking-dragonslayer of reds can be a vassal.
: Alignment any nonchaotic, Base Attack Bonus +3, Knowledge (history) 2 ranks, Knowledge (psionics) 8 ranks, Must have a power point reserve of at least 1 power point, must have had some instruction by another war mind, have access to Talariic texts, or belong to an organization that has access to Talariic textsMerits:
Full base attack bonus, both Fort and Ref as good saves (highly unusual), very fast power point gaining, chain of personal superiority, enduring body, sweeping strike, chain of overwhelming force, d10 for HDDrawbacks:
Doesn’t further manifester level. That’s it.Good levels to jump out after:
All of them. The war mind is just one of those oddball prestige classes that on its own is amazing. A psionic character can get a LOT of mileage out of this prestige class without even having a primary manifesting class. Third level gives you chain of personal superiority +2 and chain of defensive posture +2 as well as damage reduction 1/-. 5th level gives you the awesome Sweeping Strike, and ever level after the previously named abilities just get tougher until at 10th level you gain the ability to make a single attack once per day that deals an extra 10d6 points of damage.Good drop-levels:
4th level is the only level that doesn’t gain anything. After that, it’s all dependent on how much of this class you want.Good lead ins:
Psychic Warrior5 is the most obvious lead in, though Education and Fighter4/Monk1 also has some potential. This class has nasty tendency of trapping players who want their abilities better, and the full BAB progression makes this class’s only downside its lack of furthering another prior class’s manifesting levels.
*These prestige classes are unique because they have their own self-contained manifesting/spellcasting. They will
hamper progression of primary manifesting/spellcasting, but tend to be worth it in the end due to the mutli-use nature of such a character. These are admittedly difficult to use, but should a character land levels in them they are typically better rounded at all levels rather than simply great in the end.
---------------------------------------------Congratulations Sang-Drax for creating one of the best gish-types I've seen using the most creative/unusual combination classes/prestige classes.Much thanks to everyone who helped in posting, suggestions, and continuation of this thread, and special thanks to JosephKell who started it all. Happy gaming folks.