The Gish Fighter 1 / Battle Sorcerer 4 / SpellSword 5 / Eldritch Knight 10 BAB: +19 Caster Level: 16 (20 with practiced spellcaster, 1 8th lvl slot) Saves: +14/+5/+11 Special: Ignore 20% ASF, 3 Bonus Feats, Channel Spell 3/day. You have no feat requeriments at all, so you are free to chose the path you prefer. Requeriments: Knoledge (Arcana) 6, +4 BAB, All armors and all simple and martial weapons proficencies, 2nd level arcane casting && all martial weapon proficiencies and 3rd level arcane casting. Books: Dungeon Master's Guide, Complete Warrior and Unearthed Arcana.
It's a very neat and easy build. You have virtually no requeriments and a lot of room to choose your feats. You can even try a tactical gish with this build. It is playable at low levels as you will have good HP and good BAB. Consider yourself as a fighter with lots of magical tricks. This build is from Jared de'Minco, not mine.
If you're going to make a the thread that is to take over for the original Gish thread you'd better not forget what JK always referred to as the best gish combo there is:
The Quintessential Gish Ftr 2/Wiz or Sor 4/Spellsword 5/Eldritch Knight 9
BAB: 18 Caster level: 15 (19 with Practiced Spellcaster) Saves: +14/+5/+11 Special: A bit lower CL than other popular gish builds but with plenty of feats and Channel Spell included, which more than compensates. ASF -20%. A solid build all the way.
This build is in my experience best done as a human wielding a Spiked Chain or a Dwarf wielding a Greatsword.
Battlemage Fighter 1/Battle Sorcerer 8/Eldritch Knight 10/Spellsword 1 BAB: +18 Caster Level: 18 (20 with practiced spellcaster, 2 9th lvl base slots, 1 9th level spell known) Saves: +13/+5/+11 Special: Ignore 10% ASF, 2 Bonus Feats, Ignore all ASF when in light armor. No feat requirements. Requirements: All martial weapon and armor proficiencies, able to cast 3rd level arcane spells, must defeat an enemy through force of arms alone, Knowledge (Arcana) 6 ranks. Books: Dungeon Master's Guide, Complete Warrior and Unearthed Arcana.
Clean, simple, and you get two extra feats over and above what a normal spellcaster gets (admttedly, they're fighter feats, but, hey...). BAB and CL 18 (20 if you want to get Practised Spellcaster). Personally, Arcane Strike would be a must with me for this build, but you can do what you want with it. Please pick any holes you see in this; it is a concept that I might just try for my next gish character. Perhaps going Star Elf (from the Forgotten Realms) would be a good idea for the Cha boost. Maybe not, but it's just an idea...
1. shadow mage is right, I retired the Gish thread because it got cluttered. I have been considering making a new (4th? could that be right?) one. But I would rather work on it with other people using a shared account. It would work better if the entire thread were restricted and done a lot like how Funny Slaughter did the 3.5 FAQ (i.e. asking for help and having submissions e-mailed in for an organized look).
2. After I realized the mistake I made when I introduced the Gish term was that is was rather specific to Caster/Warriors that tended to use magic almost exclusively for killing directly (as opposed to hasting, mage armoring, etc.). That was when I tried to repair the damage done by trying to reclassify things as Bladesinger (for Illusion and Transmutation focus like Elves. Mobility/self-empowering), Gish (direct warring), and I forget the other two I came up with.
3. The reason I left Unearthed Arcana out is because one could argue that a small change to a class warrents a totally different build. Also, the varient wizards are so vague someone could argue that you don't have to be in the wizard class to take the specials (when in fact you do because a lot of them trade the bonus wizard feats).
4. I am Jared de'Minco. Well, not really, my name is Jonathan E F... but I made the Jared account for a game on the Real d20 boards, but I stepped out to make room for someone that wanted to be there more. Thanks Patrick, I didn't think anyone remembered the post I did under Jared. (that is why I put the laugh.)
5. The reason I don't like the Battle Sorcerer in Multiclassed progressions for a warrior is that it is a cop out! It already jumps out of Sorcerer for a better BAB (albeit a slower spell progression). Part of the reason the threads I've done got so much respect is because I didn't except cop outs. If something is worth doing or remembering it is worth doing right. Which leads directly into point #6.
6. The biggest reason I didn't start over again is because each time I did, I got four hours and like three pages done and felt that what I did was good enough, so I trashed it. If I were to 'start again' again (not a typo). I would only include spotlights on Prestige Classes, Feats, Core Classes, Spells, Weapons, and the like to point out other ideas. Basically it would be something of a "You might like this for your Arcane Warrior." Make a manual instead of a template. It could teach Min/Maxing instead of showing finish products.
Prestige Classes: Merits, Fast Lead Ins, Levels to jump out.
Core Classes: Bards aren't as bad as a lot of people think (inspire courage is like a varying duration Magic Weapon spell).
Feats: Feats make as much of an impact on the character as the classes selected, they deserve more attention. Arcane Strike is very important for Wizards, since it allows a spell to do double duty.
Spells: There is more to Arcane Warriors than Fireballs, Mage Armor, and Haste spells. There is also Heroism, Rage, and a smorgasborg of other spells that I have greased over in my haste to make this list.
Weapons: Not just enhancements, but the weapons themselves. Some of the builds have no feat requirements! So a Spell Channeling Spiked Chain Arcane Warrior could be devastating!
Sample NPCs: The thing I was most proud of (and regret not doing more of) was the sample NPCs that were short of level 20. It was just a pain to format them as NPC blocks!
Go for it Shadow Mage! Have a blast with it! If you ever need help or (more likely) emotional support (some people can really be trying on the paitence) I'm around.
[size=+3]Strategies of Gish[/size] Notes on Strategy and Tactics: While tactics are battle-by-battle formulas for success, so to speak, strategy is slightly larger in scale. However, since in a campaign you don’t usually have much of a choice (DM’s the “god”, after all), we will refer to individual combat maneuvers as “tactics” and group maneuvers as “strategy”.
Strategy and tactics are an essential when participating in combat-heavy adventures and even in campaigns with fewer-than-normal combat encounters they are still very useful to know. From mages to fighters, the tactical maneuvers an individual and/or a group can present is mindboggling, but gish hold a special place in the area of tactics and strategy in that they combine both aspects of mage and fighter. The following section will detail the basics of strategies and tactics with the three main gish subtypes and tips on how to make combat in general smoother for your party. Afterall, you're playing a versatile character, right? Why not use him for all he's worth?
[size=+2]Balanced Gish Focus[/size] Combat Formation: Balanced gish have the hardest time finding their favored combat position because they’re the most versatile of gish types and their roles can change focus suddenly and effectively. However, lack of specialization could mean spreading one’s self too thin, while overspecialization can lead to a too-focused character. Balanced gish, regardless of their type favored weapons, should be easily adaptable in frontline and rear-support, as well as provide decent mage support from wherever. This means you go where you’re needed. If a hole presents itself, plug it with a magic missile and then yourself. If no more melee combat is needed, sit tight and fling spells at your enemy (this is where those nice big evocation spells and Sculpt Spell come in) to assist your buddies in melee. If enemy magical types are proving to be troublesome, dimension door into melee with them, or simply buff your allies to high heaven. Melee is where most balanced gish seem to gravitate, though, so spells that can turn the tide in melee should be applied liberally but not so often that you forget you’re holding a sword.
If your balanced gish enjoys reach weapons, perfect. You effectively have a character that can sit in “melee”, nail enemies from a range they can’t hit you with and sit behind a wall of your party’s meleeists. Even better, you can cast your spells easily without worrying about other foes striking at you and causing you to loose your spell (unless they have reach, too). Ranged gish typically have a nice bow but less archer ability than the focused archer gish, which is fine since they also tend to have higher level spells. Trading off polar ray and four bow shots a round is certainly nothing wrong. Players who enjoy their spellcasting are ideally suited for reach-weapon or ranged gish of this type.
“True” melee-oriented balanced gish are your “bladesinger” types, meaning they tend to have medium to higher armor, medium Dexterity, and like a very high AC. These are the ones who can sit in melee duking it out with equal-level warrior types (and/or martial-focused gish) and survive. Balanced gish in melee combat like this should definitely focus on bigger, badder buff spells but should still be able to, should the occasion arise, move away from melee and take up rear support with spells.
[size=+1]Tactics[/size]: Balanced gish don’t usually have much distinction between lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight subtypes. Afterall, a character with BAB +16-18 and CL 16-18 is useful regardless of where he is, especially on his own. In many cases these types of gish can sit alone amongst groups of enemies as a great distraction for their party and with the level of spellcasting they possess cast elemental immunity (lv6 from Manual of the Planes) followed by meteor swarm right at his feet and have the AC and hit points to survive until he can pull this off. Once accomplished, he can easily move back into the main fray (wherever he is).
Individual balanced gish are solid choices for combat of any kind. With high level spells at his disposal and a strong sword arm, most monsters are in for trouble messing with such a character, for many won’t do so well against characters who can fight almost as well as they can in melee and then cast spells to buff himself further (or cast spells to attack and press the offensive). Essentially, the most sound tactic for a lone balanced gish is to move slowly into melee, casting a spell and moving, casting a spell and moving, and just before entering melee buff yourself and go to town. Even if fighting many strong foes, at least you’re softening them up from a range (depending on the location many spells have greater ranges than the best ranged weapons) before entering melee stronger then usual.
[size=+1]Strategy[/size]: When surrounded by friendly allies, balanced gish shine brighter then any other and rivals clerics and druids for outright usefulness. Casting spells one turn and moving into melee the next for a blast of martial power can certainly surprise enemies, especially intelligent ones. Counterspelling balanced gish become the party’s best friend and sculpting a spell around your allies in melee is always helpful. The two strategies, of the many available, I will highlight are the High Mobility strategy and the Tunnel Complex strategy. Neither are explained in great depth, as the idea is to give general ideas and let players come up with the rest.
High Mobility: High mobility combat emphasizes speed of both movement and initiative. Winning initiative is important, but not overpoweringly so. The basic gist of this strategy is that half the party moves while half covers them. Half cast a spell or make a single ranged attack and take a move action, the other take a move action and then follow up with their own ranged attack. This keeps continuous movement possible and makes it hard to pin your group down. The job of the gish is to ensure the two “groups” do not get separated via some quick-witted trickery on the part of the enemy. The best of high mobility strategies are accomplished on horseback. ------
Tunnel Complex: This sort of strategy is unusual in that it favors cramped conditions. Finding areas to bottleneck is typically priority, for if foes are contained and held in such a way that they can only attack from the direction you choose that means you dictate the battle. A “front line” of fighter-types is important, with the mages and lighter characters of course behind them a good long ways. The job of the balanced gish here is to buff up the meleeists and provide abjuration/protection spells while picking away at enemies with either a reach or ranged weapon.
[size=+2]Martial Gish[/size] Combat Formation: Obviously the focused "spellsword" gish (a gish who focuses on high BAB with spellsupport, much like the Spellsword PrC), this being a more martial build, has a sound place as either a rear ranged support or up on the front line. The Spellsword PrC's channel spell makes this arguably the best prestige class martial gish can acquire. Spell channel is very dangerous and very powerful. Channelling a cone of cold works best when no allies are in the way of the cone, so ideally you want to be the "point-man" in a party's formation. Barbarian/Paladin/Ranger/Rogue support (hell, buffed cleric works too) from both sides works well and if thought out carefully prevents flanking assuming your opponents are all in front of you. This sort of V formation with the gish as the point allows the remaining partiy to not only provide ample protection for one another, but their "lead man" is a blaster with HP and BAB to boot. If he takes too bad a beating, he can fall back with at least two other characters protecting his "retreat" to the rear.
Conversely, the martial gish is also extremely effective in the back of the party, completely ignoring the front-line and instead focusing on archery or ranged spells. Standing next to the mage with Quick Draw, a sword at your side, and a bow in hands will keep yourself prepared to protect the mage and still providing valuable aid in combat. This is a very good place in the party for low-hp gish builds, even if they are martial, and with a simple buff (usually not necessary but nice to have anyway) the low-hp martial gish can provide awesome bow-support.
As a martially-bent gish, your priority in the build is high base attack with spell-support. That means that, whether in melee (tanks) or at the rear (lightweights), you will likely be very effective buffing yourself and others and hitting enemies with your weapons. If you want attack spells, focus on spells that guarantee hits (ie magic missile) and spells that require ranged touch attacks (ie scorching ray). Otherwise, spells to buff your ability scores (series of level two spells) and that provide good defense are always helpful.
[size=+1]Tactics[/size]: Martially-focused gish are extremely dangerous. They’re usually close to full BAB with roughly 11-14 spellcasting levels. Imagine a Fighter with Tenser’s transformation. That said, there are several tactics martial gish can employ to make them truly dangerous in combat.
1) Tanks- Focusing on the higher points of your abilities, Spellsword gish should always make use of channel spell. It allows you to essentially cast twice in a round, one to buff yourself, one to hurt your enemy. Next round you can strike harder (thanks to the buff) against a weaker foe. Tanks tend to have higher AC so striking them with an AoO is usually much harder. High-AC build should milk every drop of usefulness from their build and be up in melee, distracting the heck out of the enemy by having the balls to cast spells in melee and then turn around and swing a greatsword. ------
2) Middleweights- It’s not hard to be good out of full plate. Simple medium armor enhanced nicely is always effective to keep your AC relatively high, and you usually have an alright bonus from Dexterity. This automatically makes you more versatile. While you can’t stand in melee for as long as a tank-gish, you can also hit with a bow a little more effectively and for a little more damage. You can play both ranged and melee roles fairly well, and spells that augment this should be used often. Actually, middle-weight gish builds are very effective when paired with the various wall spells. Limiting how many foes can attack you and dealing with them first is a very sound tactic, and feat chains are excellent support as well. The spiked-chain feat group, feats focusing on reach weapons, and those enhancing archery are always nice to have and while you can’t have all three of these chains in gish builds, you only need one group. Spiked-chain trippers with cat’s grace and then Tenser’s transformation become arguably the scariest thing on the battlefield. ------
3) Lightweights- Light-weight martial builds are the best ranged gish available. Usually with lighter armor they have much higher Dexterity, so grab a bow and use it. Often. Sit behind the main fray and pelt away with archery-related feats and ranged touch spells for vicious effect. Magic missiles are invaluable to you, since they’re guaranteed hits and damage, and maximizing them for a free 25 damage is never a bad deal. Lightly-armored gish should not be in melee too often, though they should be able to hold their own for a few rounds if need be. Remember to quicken (via wizard gish or Arcane Preparation sorcerers) true strike to guarantee your hits, especially when using Rapid Shot or Many Shot, or any other feat that provides penalties to attacks for more attacks. Again buff spells are infinitely useful here.
[size=+1]Strategy[/size]: Group synergy is where gish specialize. Though no gish is defenseless out of an adventuring group, it’s when surrounded by allies the martial gish shines. Regardless of his role the martial gish is an invaluable combination of combat prowess and spell support (martial gish should not be attempting spell-duels with enemy casters).
1) Tanks- The tank’s usefulness is painfully obvious. Sit in the front line and blast cone spells at multiple enemies. Spells that deal high damage are your goal, if you want to even focus on attack-spells at all. Self-buff and group buff spells (mass bear’s endurance for example) make you a party favorite in a heartbeat, and by sticking next to the fighters of the group enemy focus is usually taken away from the caster at the rear of your group. Or, better yet, the enemy’s attention can be divided between the tank martial gish, the cleric, and/or the PAC. If all three are attacking/spellcasting for higher damage, the other characters are typically ignored in importance and the enemy is splitting their resources (divide...and conquer...). ------
2) Middleweights- Reach-weapons. Your friends will love you forever if they know they can retreat and still be covered, and all the while you’re safely out of melee (middleweight martial gish usually have less HP then their tank cousins). Mass buffs are even more useful for you then for the tank martial gish, because you can sit there casting them without fear of attacks of opportunity. However, you also have the option of falling back to spell support if you so choose (see my Master of Whips). With three feats you can become the best friend of the entire party when you randomly counter an enemy’s spells. Or simple ranged-touch spells (necromancies in particular) can provide ample spell support, and augmenting your caster with mental buffs (eagle’s splendor, fox’s cunning, owl’s wisdom, etc.) makes -his- spells more effective, thus increase his usefulness to a party. Middle-weight martial gish have too many individual roles in a party to list, but focusing on (using Master of Whips example) something like reach-weapon support, spell-support, and buff-spell support will make an incredibly effective gish that doesn’t have to be good alone since in a group he rocks. ------
3) Lightweights- Individual tactics versus group strategy changes little with lightweight martial gish. With the highest Dexterity and lowers armor bonus of the three types, your priority will be to remain in the back to protect the casters and provide (if necessary) retreat cover. Archery feats are helpful here, as is 3.0 haste. Really any spells that will improve your archeries will make you more useful to the group, so Precise Shot and Cat’s grace are must-haves. This class of martial gish is entirely defined by feat-selection, but archery feats are the most optimal since you should be at range during every combat. Sure a sword at the hip is nice, but with likely the lowest HP in the group you don’t want t make it a habit of sitting in melee when your party could suddenly find it’s PAC attacked by a dimension door-ing enemy. Ranged touch spells, shield, and magic missle should always be on your spell list.
[size=+2]Spell-focused Gish[/size] Combat Formation: Surprisingly, the spell-focused gish can, much like a balanced gish, appear anywhere on the battlefield. With higher armor then most rogue-types and certainly higher AC then other full casters/manifesters, spell-focused gish can sit anywhere as artillery platforms or offensive machines (depending on the primary casting/manifesting class). The ideal place for spell-focused gish builds, though, is in the rear just like other casters. It’s easier to cast spells when you know you won’t be affected every single attack of opportunity attempting to ruin your spellcasting day.
Although “the rear” is the most obvious choice for spell-focused gish, something important has been overlooked with that conclusion: spell effectiveness. Many touch spells used at higher levels can be empowered or maximized to great effect (lv16 empowered maximized vampiric touch for example) and such spells should be used liberally. Gish emphasizing their spell or psionic side tend to have a very high caster or manifester level (17-19) and a lower Base Attack bonus (15-16). Casting the said example of vampiric touch and following this with a channeling of 8th level spells into Arcane Strikes bring to light the knowledge that in the midst of melee spell-focused gish can be just as dangerous as martially bent gish, using muscle to augment spells rather then the other way around. However, as dangerous as melee gish who focus more into their spellcasting than into their martial talents are, the optimal place for any primary or near primary caster is at the rear of the party or at least a distance away from the main fray of combat where he can cast spells from relative safety.
[size=+1]Tactics[/size]: Tactics for spell-focused gish are pretty much the same tactics any other primary caster would use, with the minor exception that melee is no place to fear. Use of multiple wall spells in strategic manners can certainly aid in the “divide and conquer” scheme and if there is plenty of time to prepare then spells commonly overlooked like mirage arcana, move earth, and the various symbols are all excellent when laying ambushes. Below are three general tactics individual spell-focused gish can employ and when they would be best employed.
1) Solo Ambush- The neatest thing about gish is that alone they are still as versatile as with a group. Spell-focused gish, however, though randomly left alone, are powerful in the face of superior enemies or enemy numbers. Ambush tactics typically employ at least one or two illisionary spells (ie Hallucinatory terrain, mirage arcana) and a few other less-used spells in a caster's repertoire like the various symbols and explosive runes and alarms. Placing said explosive runes in the midst of a solid fog prevents them from escaping, and while watching from invisibility the gish can take advantage of any higher level area affect spells at the foes who just took damage. Underground and in closed quarters this works especially well, and spells such as stone shape can be put to wonderful use. Solo ambushes should only be taken part of if the gish performing the ambush knows the lay of the land very well. ------
2) Coverfire/Pressuring- The idea of this tactic is to "keep the enemy's head down". There is no stealth required, but keeping enemies bottled into one general area and pinned is an effective way to allow an adventuring party to establish a trap elsewhere while the gish fends off foes. Really any spell is useful here, so long as it's bright and flashy so even stupid creatures can see it and recognize it as something that hurts. Against intelligent foes, wall of fire followed by quickened magic missiles will almost certainly cause at least a momentary pause. Ready actions taken to loose ranged touch spells at foes who peek from behind a corner can also be very effective at pinning down foes. However, to clarify, pinning an enemy is NOT the primary goal of this tactical maneuver; fending the enemy off is. As long as the enemy progress is slowed (typically covering for an escape or lead into an ambush) then the gish has successfully employed this tactic.This tactic becomes less applicable against fewer more powerful foes, but against moderately strong enemies in number coverfire and pressure can become a key element in victory. ------
3) Solo Defense- On one's own and likely outnumbered/outclassed, a spell-focused gish needs to be more then moderately proficient with defending themself. This means making yourself unhittable, be it by buffing yourself so damage does very little or by making enemies not want to hit you. Spells such as fire shield, enlarge when used with reach weapons, and polymorphing into creatures like trolls (dare I say war trolls?) create powerful defenses that are hard to beat. Essentially, the idea behind solo defense is that the gish is either surviving until allies arrive or he's been pinned down by enemies and is forced to last as long as he can until he is either able to escape or he dies. Contingency set to cast teleport when low on life can save the life of any spellcasting character, gish being no exception. This is where the various buff spells shine, namely spell like blurr, displacement, fire shield, globe of invulnerability (greater/lesser/etc.), and stoneskin, though this is far from the complete list.
[size=+1]Strategy[/size]: Some information regarding group strategy and maneuvers.
1) Ambush- Ambushes set up by spell-focused gish with full party support tend to be nasty. The mental ping version of alarm alerts when foes enter a desired area and a series of symbols and glyphs (along with runes) can make life for enemies more than just hellish. While the most powerful of these spell types are the symbols, these spells are simply designed to soften foes up for the "main stage" so to speak. Smart spell-focused gish would have already changed the landscape to their liking via a transmute rock/mud to mud/rock spell or even move earth or stone shape and make it harder for enemies to simply move on through by introducing features (like low walls) to impede movement. Fogs (particularly solid/acid fog are perfectly suited to this sort of combat. Foes emerging from such fogs often find a party's worth of arrows/attack spells targeting them, though in many cases remaining in the fog is just as lethal. Ideally, fighter-types will be waiting close to the ambush entrance (though out of range of any prepared traps) and ranged party members will be just behind them waiting to strike. ------
2) Artillery/Cover- Similar to the coverfire/pressure tactical maneuver, this takes those tactics to the next level and applies them to larger-scale fights. Big, damage-dealing spells like the beloved fireballs, lightning bolts, and their greater versions (delayed blast fireball and chain lightning, respectively) are just a few of the many spells usable in these situations. This is mostly used in groups to cover immediate retreats or to keep enemies hiding behind cover while the gish's party sets up for some attack or another. Bombarding a battlefield with evokation spells is one way of accomplishing this, though another less commonly used way is by summoning large numbers of creatures to engage and hopefully corall enemies into more manageable groups. Regardless of how it's done, this strategy is designed to keep enemies focused on the gish and his spells/minions, leaving the rest of the party to its own designs and tricks. There is very little "group" effort required here. ------
3) Support- Support is the most simple strategy. With a bow in hand, trading turns taking full attack actions with the weapon and casting spells is the most desireable strategy. Other ranged combatants in the group should crowd around the gish to provide it with maximum cover. The main purpose of this spell is to wear down at enemies, typically employing lower level spells (like lots of acid arrows, magic missiles, scorching rays, and the occasional higher level spell like polar ray or horrid wilting). Attacking as many enemies in a turn is important, so likely only one or two bow shots any one round will be focues on the same foe. The idea behind that is to "spread the love" so to speak, making the gish more noticed by enemies while the true ranged combatant of the group picks off the weakened enemies from a distance. Symbols are also useful here, if used in the same manner as in ambush strategies, as are many uses of enervation and even energy drain if available against stronger foes.