Welcome to the new and improved Dragonfire Adept handbook! This newest addition has refined and clarified some of the original handbook’s issues, and I’ve added more than a couple new fun combos and builds. Hope it proves useful and a fun read - I’ve certainly had a good time compiling it!
Some thanks are in order. First off, I’d like to thank Bishop Drazz’t for his many additions, suggestions, and general interest in/contributions to the guide. TG gets thanks too for helping out with layout.
I've been playing one of these for a while and have found her to be one of the most versatile and effective characters I've ever had. To that end, I've created a handbook to help people get the most out of their Dragonfire Adepts, and to demonstrate all the impressive things that they're capable of. If there's anything you think of that I can add on, I'll include it.
First, a quick link to Gerdeg's Dragonfire Adept Handbook, a short but sweet little thread. I personally don't agree that you can apply metabreath feats to a breath weapon that doesn't have a recharge duration expressed in rounds, but there is some good info here nonetheless. For more on the metabreath feat conundrum, see the update that's linked below.
A link to a theoretical thread that led to a new update on my part. Interesting info for those who want breath weapons that can immolate the world!
A link to the original guide, in all its un-edited glory. Though it is not as complete, there are some great replies to peruse there - take a look if you’re interested: the Old Dragonfire Adept Handbook.
I've recently written TWO updates for the guide exploring new combinations, feats, and findings that have interesting implications. The information in each is now contained inside this guide, but if you're curious to see the updates on their own (or just want to see the pretty pictures), go here:
And, finally, a little link to a thread in which an earnest newbie asks for help . . . and asks why Entangling Exhalation is so important. I did a little lecturing on Entangling Exhalation and threw out my favorite mid-level builds for his perusal, and first-time DFA players may find what I said there a bit more accessible than the enormous guide that follows.
Strong Will and Fort: The two most important saves in the game are strong for you. Cheers!
Breath Weapon: Your breath weapon is one of the best attack methods in the game. It’s a supernatural ability (meaning your enemies’ SR has no effect on it and it does not provoke attacks of opportunity), doesn’t require an attack roll, and can cover large areas of effect. Since you don’t have to attack, this means you can use blindsense to target invisible or concealed opponents and suffer no miss chance. In addition, you can use your breath to create different effects that make you an incredibly effective battlefield controller. Finally, your breath weapon is usable every round - unlike every other class that has one.
Invocations: Limitless use abilities that give you mobility, battlefield control, and de-buff skills. Though the Dragonfire Adept gives you fewer than Warlocks and a different list, it also gives you access to some impressive effects that Warlocks wish they could get their filthy paws on.
4+Int Skills: You have all the main social skills (Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Sense Motive), all Knowledge skills, Spot and Listen, and, most importantly, Use Magic Device. This lets you play party scholar and party face, in addition to making you (along with your invocations) the party’s eyes and ears, detecting trouble before it gets the jump on you. 4 points per level means you’ll have enough skill points to be able to play multiple roles for your party, replacing a Bard or Rogue and still maintaining battlefield spellcasting control.
Scales: A bonus to natural armor is very nice - especially for a caster-style character. Whee!
Low Ref: Awww, you get a bad score in the LEAST important save. What a downer.
D8 HD: Sure, it’s bad if you were a front-liner. And if you had a bad Constitution. But Con determines the DC of your breath weapon, and you won’t be front-line fighting EVER. Well, hardly ever.
Single Class: You can choose to multiclass, but Dragonfire Adepts tend to be the most powerful if you stick to your guns and see it through to 18 (for reasons I’ll discuss later, 19 and 20 are the only levels in the class that are less than mandatory). This means your base saves will be lower than those of characters who multiclass like maniacs. Oh well.
No Armor Proficiency: Gasp! No - really? Can it be true ? They MUST be worse then Warlocks, I hear you scream. Nope! Why not? Because - many of the Dragonfire Adept’s invocations have a 24 hour duration or aren’t needed in combat, meaning that for many DFAs spell failure won’t be an issue. What’s more, their primary attack form (breath weapon) does not require an attack roll - meaning they only take the check penalty increase for being non-proficient. This can be minimized by choosing the right gear - more on this in the equipment section.
Wizard BaB: Yes, it’s true - though the class is draconically flavored you get the lowest BaB progression in the game. This is, however, not much of a problem for a Dragonfire Adept - your primary attack (breath!) requires no attack roll (in case you haven't been reading closely, I thought I'd mention this again), and barring a multiclassing issue there is no reason for you to mourn a low BaB. Properly done, a DFA will never need to roll an attack die EVER.
OTHER REASONS TO PLAY A DFA
Flavor: These guys are chock full of flavorful goodness. Dragons are half of the game's name, and they are for a reason. The more supplements WotC releases, the more draconic material they publish, and as a DFA you get to tap into the wealth of world-building background text from any one of a number of sources.
Playstyle: DFAs are wonderful "transition" characters for those who want to try out a caster style of play without having to deal with the sometimes complex and even prohibitive mechanics of the d20 spellcasting system. You can lay down fields of effect, deal ranged energy damage, and get a variety of spell-like effects at will, all designed around a single, thematically unified style of play that will allow you to create a satisfying and believable character.
Build Flexibility: One thing you'll notice, if you hang around these boards long enough, is that 99% of the builds here are created by people who have done LOADS of research and careful planning to make sure that by 20th level they haven't made a single mis-step. Planning is often the bread and butter of optimization - if you don't know what feat you're going to take at 6th level, you are likely going to choose the WRONG feat. It's unusual to find a character class that allows for enough build flexibility that you don't have to plan everything out ahead of time. DFAs, however, are like Druids in this one respect: all but ONE of their feats are negotiable in any build. Druids have Natural Spell; DFAs have Entangling Exhalation. If you take Entangling Exhalation, you don't need to plan the rest; when you get to a new level, you can enjoy the process of choosing a feat without worrying about a misstep! I was asked for a rating of the feats listed in the feat section to help people sort out which they'd like to take. I haven't because, honestly, many are equivalent - it all depends on what you FEEL like. What a rarity!
Versatility: DFAs are a very versatile class, and can be used to fill nearly any party role. As such, they are excellent for smaller parties and those lacking critical skills. With a little tweaking, a Dragonfire Adept can be made to suit any player - one who wants a sneak, a healer, a trapfinder, a scout, a mage, or even (in rare cases) a brawler.
Power Without Problems: Many players get frustrated when another member of their gaming group plays a powerful and effective character. They often feel overshadowed by their team member's skill and success, and can gradually come to resent the other player's understanding of the rules. Not so with a DFA! Dragonfire Adepts are wonderful support characters, and nearly everything they do serves to augment and amplify their party members' abilities. Fighter types will LOVE the way Entangling Exhalation makes all targets easier to run down, hit, and avoid; casters will appreciate the way it keeps them clear to sling spells with abandon. Everyone will be delighted when magic items found on the road are instantly identified and put into use. In short, a DFA will win the hearts of every party member without even trying, and no-one will ever complain about the impressive power he or she wields.
Human: That extra feat goes a long way on a Dragonfire Adept. I highly recommend humans as prime DFA material.
Half-Elf: Decent if you’re going for Diplomacy (see the Feats section for more on how), but honestly there are more productive and sexy ways to do it. I mean really - all the obnoxious elf flavor with none of the function? This is one of the most obnoxiously weak races in the game (no, I have no prejudice against elves . . . why do you ask?).
Half-Orc, Orc: Interesting, savage-flavored options for a DFA, but generally less optimal than other choices unless you're going for a very specific, Strength-oriented build. DFAs can get darkvision, so that advantage loses its value, and Strength is one of most DFAs dump stats. If you play a Water Orc from Unearthed Arcana (also on the d20 SRD under "races"), though, you can net a very significant +2 Con, +4 Strength, and some nice swimming-related stuff. You won't be the sexiest DFA on the block, though, so prepare to focus on your breath weapon.
Halfling: If Strongheart Halflings are an option, they might trump humans with their +1 Size modifier to AC and skill bonuses. The one thing you'll want to be leery of, though, is their 20 ft. of base speed - this will hurt their ability to retreat from attackers who are wrapped up in a battlefield control effect like Entangling Exhalation (for more on this, see the feats section).
Kobold: Great if you’re going for a Dragonwrought build, opening up all sorts of fun feats and allowing you to boost your mental stats by +3 without any physical stat penalty (see the Feats section for details on how). The other problem is that if you're starting at 1st level, waiting until third level for Entangling Exhalation is going to prevent you from having one of the more entertaining experiences in d20 - the feeling of being absolutely, unfairly unbeatable at first level. You'll also want to make sure to look into sub-races for better stats for a kobold, since the Con penalty hurts too much - personally I recommend Jungle Kobolds from Unearthed Arcana. More on the sub-races can be found here, at the d20srd. You'll also want to look into some of the lovely new abilities granted this usually underpowered race by the web enhancement for Races of the Dragon, which you'll find here.
Dwarf: A bonus to Constitution helps your breath DCs, but a penalty to Charisma hurts your invocations and social skills. It should be noted, however, that some of the best invocations don’t allow for a save, and an improved breath weapon DC is far more important than an improved invocation DC. All that having been said, these guys are not the best. Their low land speed hurts for the same reason it hurts halflings.
Gnome: Better than dwarves (small size!), and the +2 Con can help a bunch. Of course, without the extra feat of a human or strongheart halfling you lose a lot. If you are going to play one, I highly suggest the very sexy Whispergnomes from Races of Stone, who not only get 30 feet of speed despite their small size, but a +2 Dex to complement their Con boost. This means they’ve got an effective +2 AC and some nice skill bonuses (+8 total to Hide, +4 to Move Silently), darkvision, and a nice little silencing ability. Not shabby! They do, of course, receive a -2 Charisma penalty, which does hurt the DC of your invocations. There can be some feats that would make a gnome interesting to play as a DFA, though - see the feats section for more on this.
Hellbred: An offering from the new Fiendish Codex II, these guys can start with +2 Con or a +2 Charisma and some snazzy bonus "Devil-Touched" feats. Very handy, very fun. Plus you get points for style - you look like a humanoid demon. Always fun when you're breathing fire!
Dragonborn: Adds flavor and Constitution to the Dragonfire Adpet, but pretty much every ability this race gets can be duplicated (and done better) by the class’s abilities. Of course, doing this can let you save certain invocations (like Draconic Flight) for some other purpose, and pairing this template with a +2 Con race (gnomes make a good choice) will let you boost your Con by +4 (or Mongrelfolk for a total of +6!). Very nice.
Raptorans: An interesting option for getting flight. These guys make for very decent Dragonborn, allowing you to double up on special abilities - Raptorans can fly, so you can choose the breath weapon or blindsend option for your Dragonborn ability, freeing up more invocations.
Half-Dragon: Meh. The LA makes this a TERRIBLE choice, and the other abilities, once again, are duplicated by class abilities. Give this a miss!
Illumians: The krau sigil can be handy for improving your caster level, which can give you all sorts of fun effects. Still, overall Illumians aren’t the best choice for a DFA, though they can be a flavorful one (the primal language of magic, after all, has to be related to Draconic . . .).
Spellscale: A +2 to Cha helps invocations, but a -2 Con hurts your breath weapon. In addition, none of the Blood Quickening meditiations help you too much - Tamara is decent (you can use spell-trigger items with cure spells without penalty), but not phenomenal.
Mongrelfolk: These guys can be found in Races of Destiny and also in the Fiend Folio. A nasty -4 Charisma will make your invocations a lot easier to resist. Fortunately, most of the best Dragonfire Adept invocations don’t require a save DC to work. The upside to these guys is the +4 Con mod - hooah!
Hengeyokai: It's been recently pointed out that the 3.5 updated version of this Oriental Adventures race (published in Dragon #318) can offer some interesting options to the enterprising DFA player. They can shift into animal forms, which is fun in and of itself, but can be wicked when you've got a breath weapon. Form-wise, notables include the Sparrow Hengeyokai, able to turn into a tiny sparrow form with a 23 Dex (but a Con of only 10 . . . sigh!) and a very nice fly speed. There's also the Badger, which, though tiny, has a burrow speed and a Con of 15 - not bad! Considering that your breath weapon and scales are class-based abilities and, arguably, come with you, this has obvious - and fun! - implications for play.
Tibbit: From the Dragon Compendium, these guys feel a bit like Hengeyokai - they can shift into kitties. Fire-breathing kitties! An . . . interesting option, and one with the potential for hours of entertainment. Better yet, their Con doesn't get hit when they shift, so they can easily breathe on enemies without sweating a lowered DC from a weaker form . . . okay, I can't resist saying it again: FIRE-BREATHING KITTIES!
Dvati: Okay, since I mentioned the Dragon Compendium . . . These guys are weird, and the rules that govern them ill-designed and ill-explained. That said, if your DM allows them, they're SICK AND TWISTED as a character race. Yep, you have to pay a +1 LA, 'tis true. For it, though, you get the ability to play a PAIR of characters - two twins that share the same soul. Why is this so groovy, you ask? Well, because it means that when you breathe, TWO MOUTHS do the breathing - DOUBLING your damage! Woot! If your DM lets you do this, go nuts. With Fivefold Breath, you'll end up doing TEN TIMES your total breath weapon damage, for a massive 90d6 of breath! They split one character's HP between them, which may make you nervous, but remember: Con is a DFA's strong stat. If I were to do this, I'd definitely go Dragonborn to up the Con a bit more. Wow . . . just THINKING about it makes me start to salivate . . .
Beguiler: No, not the class - the little Pikachu-looking critters from Forgotten Realms - Shining South. These insanely unbalanced little guys get a +6 Dex, +6 Int, 4 natural attacks (claw, claw, bite, and a tail-wielded weapon), darkvision, low-light vision, multiattack as a bonus feat, small size, and, the icing on the cake: CONSTANT TRUE SEEING. Okay, so they're not the best flavor choice. But TRUE SEEING?! Jeebus. Try it out - you'll like it. May **** off your DM, though.
Changeling: With a level of the Changeling substitution for Rogue from Races of Eberron and the Able Learner feat, a Changeling DFA becomes the ultimate spy and party face - capable of shifting appearance, taking 10 on all social checks, and being a perfect skill monkey. These guys are consummate manipulators, and are excellent choices for those invested in making a DFA Diplomancer.
Warforged: Okay, a bit strange - how is a robot related to dragons? But hell, Warforged get a Con boost and some excellent built-in armor, which is groovy. What's more, they get TONS of immunities to all the things players hate and DMs love: poison, fatigue, disease, etc. And hey - fire-breathing robots are cool!
Dusklings (Magic of Incarnum): Small, extra essentia, and they've got Con ups. What's not to like? Sure, they lose out in the long run to the other choice races, but you could pull one of these guys off as a convincing DFA if you liked. Plus, they're Fey type, which can help in odd ways - like not having to worry about hold person or charm person, for instance. And they look like goblins. I like goblins. They get no love in this game, but I like 'em.
Azurin: Just like a normal human, only lacking the extra skill point per level, with a favored class, and plus a bonus essentia point. If you're doing a particular build that's focused on use of soulmelds, these guys are worth a shot - they trump dusklings (despite the Con boost) for their lovely extra feat.
Rilkan: Another Incarnum race, but this one is kind of scaly (always a plus on a DFA!) and gets some small Knowledge boosting racial benefits. No essentia, though! Could make for an interesting "Dragon Sage" (see the Combos and Builds sections). Also gets a racial +2 on Bluff and Diplomacy, which is always a nice thing.
Krinth (Champions of Ruin): +2 Con, -2 Cha, and immunity to the shaken effect. This can be pretty sweet in certain circumstance - look up Cumbrous Will in the Feats section for more on this. . Others: You can make a decent Dragonfire Adept out of almost any race, but there are some things to look out for. Like casters, Adepts get a lot out of levels, so avoid anything with a high LA. A +1 or +2 LA template could be worth it, but only for really snazzy payoffs - big stat boosts, flight, AC boosts, immunities, and special abilities all come to mind (White Dragonspawn from Dragonlance, Half-Fey, Mineral Warrior from FR - Underdark, Dvati from Dragon Compendium, Half-Minotaur from Dragon #313, Feral from Savage Species, Magic-Blooded from . . . ah hell, I forget the number on that Dragon Mag - go check CrystalKeep for answers . . . etc.). Attribute-wise, anything with a Con or Cha bonus can be attractive, but don’t get too wrapped up in finding a special race - the extra feat from being a human or strongheart halfling is often worth more than most abilities to a Dragonfire Adept. Plus, it pays to remember that unless you're playing with the LA buyoff rules from Unearthed Arcana, when you choose an LA race you're trading long-term benefits for a short-term, static boost. You may feel cool for a while, but class abilities always outstrip the ones you got for your sacrificed level in the end!
GOOD CHARACTERS TO PARTY WITH
Combat Reflexes + Improved Trip/Standstill/Knockdown Warrior: These are your best friends. If you’re standing behind a tank character with Combat Reflexes, a nice reach, and some abilities that help stop incoming enemies, the two of you will be a force to be reckoned with. Between entangling and slowing enemies with your breath, almost no one will be able to get close to the two of you - and if they do, your partner can stop them dead before they get within melee range. Best of all, with the Endure Elements invocation you can actually stand BEHIND a melee tank and breathe THROUGH him, as he'll be immune to the damage! I often think the best organic representation of a DnD mecha would be a strongheart halfling or Jermlaine DFA strapped to the back of a Goliath Crusader/Dungeoncrasher. Cannons and crushing!
Ranged Fighter/Caster: Your battlefield control abilities will allow you to keep enemies at bay. Once they’re locked down, a ranged fighter can tear through them with high-damage shots, and a battle caster can blow them the heck up. This is very satisfying when put into practice. The Dragonfire Adept can also synergize a battle caster’s abilities, upping the DC to resist certain spells and making them deal more damage (more on this in the Combo section).
Save Crippler: These include Paladins of Slaughter, Hexblades (especially with the 4th level alternate class ability Dark Companion from the PHBII), Binders (with Focalor or Chupoclops - or both - bound), and Bards (with the Doomspeak feat from Champions of Ruin). All of these characters have abilities that let you penalize enemy saves, making them some of your best friends. If you’ve got the Endure Elements invocation, you can make your allies immune to your breath weapon for the day. Now they can wade into the fray, crippling your target’s saves, while you strafe the enemy with nasty breath effects. Very effective, very fun.
Fear Caster: They come in all shapes and sizes: Dread Necromancers, Dread Witches, Fighter-types with all sorts of feats, Warlocks - you name it. The bottom line is that they scare enemies, and scared enemies have lousy saves. Better yet, with the right DFA build you can double up on the terrifying, dog-piling those nasty penalties onto your foes until they're all gibbering fools.
Charmer: A DFA can be an incredibly effective diplomacer, and if you pair up with another charmer you can seduce the world. Pairing some of the DFA's invocations (Enthralling Voice and Charm, notably) with other attitude-improving effects can mean you don't have to fight anymore - just walk into the room and make new friends.
Strength Hobbler or Grappler/Tripper/Knockbacker: DFAs can manage to land some pretty impressive Strength-penalizing effects on foes. Partying up with others who do the same can make for some pretty unpleasant experiences for bad guys. Things only get worse if you have a character who relies on Strength checks to pull off combat maneuvers - a Dungeoncrasher who bull rushes with Knockback, a grappler, a tripper - whatever. Once the enemy is weak, your friend can waltz right in and start beating it down. Good times!
Flaws: If these are allowed in your game, do a little jig! There are a number of flaws that a DFA will NEVER notice – Murky-Eyed makes you re-roll concealment miss chances (and you never roll to hit!), Non-Combatant gives you a penalty to attack rolls (again – never roll, not a probem!), etc. Someone at WotC has been under the misguided impression that attacks make a real difference – heck, you can see that just in the serious penalties they give for abilities that increase the number of attacks you make (from BaB, from two-weapon fighting feats, etc.). Same as the foolish impression that damage is important – as if being able to kill in one hit makes a bit of difference in a world of contingent teleport, force cage, blasphemy, and all those other “save or be screwed” spells.
Gestalt: Hooooo boy. Gestalt makes for some crazy, kung-fu, epic, super-powered, world-shattering, DBZ-style action. Dragonfire Adepts can be an AWESOME half of a Gestalt combo, and make you look and feel like sex on the beach - dirty, naughty, and stylish. First choice here would be a caster, preferably one with access to metabreath spells a la the Draconomicon. These include such hits as Rebuking, Dispelling, Stunning, and even Enervating (negative levels on a breath weapon - yes PLEASE!). Other good choices could include skill monkey/casters (yay for Beguilers!), or even a nice fat Aoo-based warrior-type (thin Crusader with Stand Still - you'll be your own backup). If you're going the warrior route, be sure to trick out the metabreath feats, running up your recharge rate, and then use the other rounds to whomp your foes with martial strikes. Good times. Hard to blow a gestalt, but focus on complementing the DFA's significant at-will de-buff and utility abilities with damage and casting and you'll kick butt and take names.
Each of the following will be given a grade from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest grade and 5 being the highest. Some may have an asterisk, indicating special conditions under which the grade may change; check the description for more details. It should also be noted that at each level at which a new grade of invocation is obtained (6th, 11th, and 16th levels), a Dragonfire Adept may “swap” any invocation of a grade lower than his highest (least invocations at 6th, lesser at 11th, and greater at 16th) for a different invocation of the same grade. Thus a DFA has the freedom to pick invocations that have greater use at lower levels early on, then swap them out later to avoid having any abilities that become useless or redundant. Keep in mind, however, that you only receive 3 swaps - one least, one lesser, and one greater meaning you must be careful not to choose more than one invocation of each level that you plan to get rid of later on.
Aquatic Adaptation (2*): This gives you a swim speed and lets you breathe in water (both to survive and hurt people ). If you’re playing in a water-heavy campaign, this is indispensable, and receives a grade of 5 rather than 2. In the average game, it may come up in occasionally, but you’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s necessary or not. Ask your DM.
Beguiling Influence (4): A +6 to Bluff, Intimidate, and Diplomacy (all class skills ) makes you a brilliant party face and provides hours and hours of role-playing entertainment. This skill boost can last you until much later in the game, and will never go out of style!
Breath of the Night (2): The cloud of fog produced by this spell is easily created with a wand or an eversmoking bottle. Though it may prove useful in some low-level fights, it should ultimately be swapped out for a different invocation once items that can produce the same effect (wands etc.) become available. This is of limited to no use - skip this invocation.
Darkness (2): See Breath of the Night, above.
Deafening Roar (1): “Deafened” is a mediocre de-buff, but can be effective versus enemy casters as it applies a 20% failure chance to their casting attempts. All in all, not worth an action in combat, however - pass on this one.
Draconic Knowlegde (4): This gives a +6 to all Knowledge checks and lets you make them untrained. This can be incredibly handy, and allows DFAs to take over the role of party know-it-all from the bard. Very stylish, very useful, and proves handy even late in the game.
Endure Exposure (5): This is one of the very best least invocations. Not only can you use this to make your whole party comfortable in extreme environments (it’s the equivalent of an endure elements spell), but it also makes them immune to your breath weapon This allows you to breathe freely without worrying about hurting your allies, which is hugely important. A must-have.
Magic Insight (5): This is an ability which no other class in the game can duplicate. Detect Magic is great, sure, but the secondary effect of this ability is unbelievable: identify without the need for material components! This saves you and your party a ton of gold, and more importantly lets them use items they pick up while adventuring without having to return to town first. This will make your party members worship the ground you walk on. Get this.
Scalding Gust (2): The damage done by this invocation is negligible, and the crowd-control effect (blowing back small creatures and stopping the forward advance of medium creatures on failed saves) is easily replaced by Entangling Exhalation (see the Feats section for more on this). Pass.
See the Unseen (4): Darkvision is good. See invisibility is good. This invocation is good. When you pick up Voidsense later on, you may choose to swap this out for something else, but until then, it’s dang handy.
Charm (4*): Charm is just snazzy, and this isn’t just charm - it’s charm monster! That means it will work on almost anything with a brain that can be affected by mind-affecting effects. If your Charisma is high enough and you invest in social skills (and maybe even stack on the Beguiling Influence least invocation), this can mean having a flunky around to do some dirty work for you. Keep in mind, though, that different DMs work charm differently - some will give you a loyal goon with each casting, others will simply make something that would otherwise be an enemy back off. The asterisk represents this - if your DM is one who’ll give you a pet for charming a monster, this receives a 5. Otherwise, it’s a 4. One of your best lesser invocation options.
Draconic Flight (3*): Flight is huge - when synergized by Flyby Attack this can make for strafing runs that keep you out of harm’s way. If playing a battlefield comp-troller, this one is a very nice invocation. Though it can be replaced by Greater Draconic Flight later on, having this from level 6 will prove a very useful ability. This goes down to a score of 0 if your DM allows you to retain your breath weapon when shifted using Humanoid Form, as you can get flight and a whole lot more from that lovely invocation. It drops to a 1 in a dungeon-heavy campaign; if you're always inside, flight loses its main advantages!
Energy Resistance (4): The baby brother of the dark invocation Energy Immunity, this is a phenomenal choice. Since you can re-cast this to gain resistance to cold, fire, lightning, acid, or sonic, you can customize your defenses to keep yourself safe from whatever kind of attacks your enemy favors. A really nice ability - especially in dragon-heavy campaigns!
Enthralling Voice (3): This works kind of like a bard’s music, fascinating enemies in the same way. The biggest advantage of it, though, is that any enemy that fails its save acts one step friendlier towards you. For more on how to abuse this, see the Combo section. Definitely a flavor-favorite for charismatic DFAs, and less a battlefield skill than a stylish role-playing power.
Frightful Presence (5*): Scare your enemies (shaken) when you breathe as a swift action. This has some obvious applications, but only really gets silly with some tweaking - see the Combo section for more. This is better, by the way, than most fear effects, because the text doesn’t mention anything about the targets having fewer HD than you - in other words, you can scare pretty much anything that fails its save. Moreover, it allows you to use another invocation or a breath effect at the same time - effectively doubling your actions and forcing two saves each round. Very nice! If you’re playing in a campaign where you often run into undead, constructs, vermin, and other creatures immune to fear or mind-affecting effects, this ability can lose its massive impact. If over half your encounters are with mentally-shielded enemies, the grade becomes a 2~3.
Humanoid Shape (5*): Changing shape can allow you to pick up movement modes (flight, burrow, swim), natural weapons, and, most importantly, extraordinary special attacks. This can make for a sort-of Swiss Army knife-style invocation, allowing you to use different abilities depending on the situation. In particular, stealth-based builds and save-cripplers will find this a godsend, as are some nice movement types and speeds. This invocation is almost the best there is for the level. However, due to the listed SRD qualities of Change Shape, some DMs may rule that you don't keep your breath weapon - if you can't, this only gets a 4. If you can, it gets a 5! For more on how to abuse this, see the Combos and Tricks section.
Voidsense (5): 30 feet of blindsense is incredibly useful. The passive ability to detect approaching enemies (not just invisible ones, but hidden ones as well!) isn’t all this has to offer, either. Since a DFA's breath weapon does not require a roll to hit, if you know where an enemy is (regardless of whether it’s invisible) you can hit it without fail. See the Combo section for some offensive applications.
Voracious Dispelling (4): The ability to dispel magic and deal 1 point of damage per spell level is fantastic. I’m a big fan of this ability, and your party will be too. There are few things handier than a “dispel persistent dungeon effect” ability that is usable at will, and you’ll find it very useful in combat for removing enemy buffs and duration spells (think Web). Best of all, you can do it at very long range (100 ft. + 10 ft./level), allowing you to take out nastier spells from a safe distance. Unfortunately it will lose its potency at later levels, so you may need to swap it out in your mid to late career.
Walk Unseen (4): Becoming invisible at will is a useful ability, no question about it. If you can come up with Move Silently as a class skill (see the feats section for suggestions on how to manage this) you will be nearly undetectable. This has the drawback, of course, of de-activating when you attack, which is unfortunate, but there are some interesting ways around this. See the Combos section for more.
Aura of Flame (1): This is a terrible waste of a greater invocation. TERRIBLE. Enemies attacking you in melee combat with non-reach weapons take 1 point of fire damage per caster level. Did I mention that spell resistance will stop this? Whoop-dee-doo. If someone is hitting you in melee combat with a non-reach weapon, you are doing something VERY WRONG.
Baleful Geas (5*): Ummm . . . holy CRAP. I used to think this one wasn't that hot, but check the text on the spell it mimics:
SRD]Geas/Quest Enchantment (Compulsion) [Language-Dependent, Mind-Affecting] Level: Brd 6, Clr 6, Sor/Wiz 6 Casting Time:10 minutes Target: One living creature Saving Throw: None This spell functions similarly to lesser geas, except that it affects a creature of any HD and allows no saving throw. Instead of taking penalties to ability scores (as with lesser geas), the subject takes 3d6 points of damage each day it does not attempt to follow the geas/quest. Additionally, each day it must make a Fortitude saving throw or become sickened. These effects end 24 hours after the creature attempts to resume the geas/ quest. A remove curse spell ends a geas/quest spell only if its caster level is at least two higher than your caster level. Break enchantment does not end a geas/quest, but limited wish, miracle, and wish do.
The lime green emphasis is, of course, mine, and led to my original opinion: if you can think of a way to get a creature that means you harm to stand within that range for 10 minutes while you cast this, good for you." But then something was brought to my attention:
Geas/Quest Enchantment (Compulsion) [Language-Dependent, Mind-Affecting] Level: Brd 6, Clr 6, Sor/Wiz 6 Casting Time:10 minutes Target: One living creature Saving Throw: None This spell functions similarly to lesser geas, except that it affects a creature of any HD and allows no saving throw. Instead of taking penalties to ability scores (as with lesser geas), the subject takes 3d6 points of damage each day it does not attempt to follow the geas/quest. Additionally, each day it must make a Fortitude saving throw or become sickened. These effects end 24 hours after the creature attempts to resume the geas/ quest. A remove curse spell ends a geas/quest spell only if its caster level is at least two higher than your caster level. Break enchantment does not end a geas/quest, but limited wish, miracle, and wish do.[/quote] The lime green emphasis is, of course, mine, and led to my original opinion: if you can think of a way to get a creature that means you harm to stand within that range for 10 minutes while you cast this, good for you." But then something was brought to my attention:
Dragon Magic, p.25]A Dragonfire Adept's invocations are spell-like abilities wrote:
A Dragonfire Adept's invocations are spell-like abilities; using one is therefore a standard action which provokes attacks of opportunity.
Emphasis, once again, mine.
In other words, as a standard action, you can make a living creature with HD equal to or lower than your level within 25 + 5 ft./level follow any command you set. You win!
Now I have heard it argued that the "this invocation otherwise functions as the geas/quest spell" clause puts the casting time back at 10 minutes. If your DM takes that reading, this invocation gets a 0 - it wouldn't even be WORTH a 1 with a casting time of 10 minutes! Of course, you can pair it up with Walk Unseen to sneak up on foes and force them to do your bidding, but hell - that's a lot of work when you could just be charming, enthralling, or breathing on them. If you can use it as a standard action, though, it's most definitely a 5.
Chilling Fog (5): This alone makes the Dragonfire Adept worth playing. Solid fog is well known as one of the ultimate battlefield control spells, limiting anything in its radius to 5 feet of movement per round. Add on 2d6 cold damage for each round they stay within it and you’ve got a real winner of an invocation - something that nearly tops the Warlock’s Chilling Tentacles (of course, it doesn’t quite out-do the new invocation Nightmares Made Real in the Complete Mage, but very little does). While you may only cast one Chilling Fog at a time, this really does a number on melee types, tying them up and dealing damage to them. With a big enough breath weapon, you don’t even need Voidsense to hit them in the fog, either - just breathe on the radius of the effect If you’ve got more enemies to deal with, Chilling Fog frees you up to concentrate on them. If you’ve only got one, Chilling Fog will keep him locked in place while you breathe him to death. This is the first greater invocation anyone should get, without question.
Devour Magic (1~2): Sadly, though this is a higher-level variant of Voracious Dispelling, ultimately it loses to its younger sibling. Voracious Dispelling can be used at range, which, if you haven’t intuited it from what I’ve written so far, is one of the DFA’s greatest allies. Devour Magic, on the other hand, requires you to TOUCH your target - something you never want to be close enough to be able to do! It does give you temporary HP equal to 5 times the level of the dispelled effect, which can be very handy for fueling your uses of some of the nastier breath effects (like Fivefold Breath, for instance). Still, this is no Mordenkainen’s disjunction, and anything that requires you to be right next to your target is something you should be hesitant to rely on.
Draconic Toughness (4): This is an amazingly good, solid invocation. This gives you temporary HP equal to your caster level. The trick is, you can re-cast it, effectively “filling up” your temporary HP “battery” each time. Multiple castings don’t stack, allowing limitless HP, but they do re-set the amount of temporary HP. In other words, you can always heal your temporary HP back to full! This is a necessity for off-setting HP loss if you’re going to use Fivefold Breath or Bahamut’s Breath, and an all-around groovy choice for any character.
Terrifying Roar (4*): This panics creatures that fail their save and shakes those that don’t. The really nice thing is that even the shaken creatures can’t attack you (or cast at you ), meaning you can stop whole packs from attacking (provided the targets aren’t immune to fear or mind-affecting effects). Very useful! The score goes down, however, in fear-immune enemy-heavy campaigns (see the description of the Least invocation Frightful Presence for details) to a 2~3.
Wingstorm (1): This is another one of those invocations with great potential that is ruined by the details. First of all, you have to have Draconic Flight or Greater Draconic Flight active to use this invocation. When you use it, all creatures within 20 feet are knocked to 25 feet away and rendered prone. If they make a Fortitude save, neither effect affects them. If they’re more than one size category larger than you, they’re immune. Anything that hits an obstacle as it’s being pushed takes 2d6 damage. Once again - very nice, but most enemies you meet when you’re 11th level or higher have decent Fortitude saves and/or are really, really big. Moreover, the Dragonfire Adept has access to much more effective movement/tactical control effects, including Entangling Exhalation and Slow Breath (not to mention Chilling Fog ). I would go for Chilling Fog and Draconic Toughness before I considered this one. Now the one exception to this rule comes into play when you're playing a DFA with Humanoid Shape who has shifted into Huge Constrictor Naga form; it ain't terrible, then, but it ain't the best, either.
Greater Draconic Flight (1): This adds 30 feet to your fly speed (which is equal to your land speed) and gives you perfect maneuverability. You can get the same from the feats Improved Flight and Improved Speed or Air Heritage applied to Draconic Flight, however. Even if you do plan to get this, it probably shouldn’t be the first dark invocation you grab - the other options are just too juicy! If you’re starting at high levels, however, you might want this instead of Draconic Flight to ensure speed and precision.
Energy Immunity (5): This is a must-have - I’d get it before anything else. What’s obnoxious at high levels? Energy attacks. With this invocation, you can shift your defenses so that any one of the major energy types (fire, cold, lightning, acid, and sonic) can’t hurt you. Every time you re-cast it, you can choose another. If you want to go dragon hunting, grab this and laugh. Entangle the big lug and watch it try to catch you, then stick your tongue out when it breathes and does no damage.
Instill Vulnerability (3): Very handy when used well, this increases the damage done to a given target by a given energy type by 50%. When in a party of arcane casters, this makes you everyone’s best friend - you cast it, they unleash with heavy-hitting spells that now deal a ton more damage. Of course, it only works on targets within 30 feet, the effect is negated with a Fortitude save, and it can’t break through immunities. This can make it unreliable. In addition, it does require an action to cast, taking away one round of possible damage. For dragon hunting, though, it's a very nice companion to Energy Immunity, as it will let you take a vulnerability (such as a red dragon's susceptibility to cold damage) and turn it into a SERIOUS liability (double damage instead of just a 50% increase).
Perilous Veil (2): This allows you to cast veil, as the spell, at will, disguising your entire party. If something sees through the disguise, it takes 5d6 damage (SR helps resist this damage). Good, but not great - especially not compared with Energy Immunity, for instance. As a greater invocation, this might have been decent, but as a dark invocation, it’s a waste. Pass on this.
Breath effects are what make Dragonfire Adepts truly shine, and separate them from Dragon Shamans and Warlocks. The following effects will be scored as the invocations were, with a rating of 1 to 5. An important thing to note is that a DFA only receives breath effects at 2nd, 5th, 10th, 12th, 15th, and 20th levels, and cannot “swap” effects - once one is chosen, it’s permanent. This means that choosing the right effect is crucial, and selecting effects that don’t lose power over subsequent levels is a primary concern for a DFA. In total, a single-classed DFA will get one 2nd level effect, two of 5th or lower, two of 10th or lower, and two of 15th or lower.
Frost Breath (4): This lets you deal cold damage in a cone shape instead of fire. Handy not only for fire resistant enemies but also for clearing land without setting forest fires! Finally, more things are vulnerable to either fire or cold than they are to other energy types; typically monsters with energy affiliations other than flame or frost aren't expressly vulnerable to another energy type.
Lightning Breath (3): Lets you deal electricity damage in a line instead of fire damage. Line effects, while useful, ultimately affect fewer targets. If you are using the Shape Breath feat to make line effects into cones (a la metabreath feats; see the Dragonfire Handbook Update), however, this can make for another 30 foot cone attack to use against fire resistant or immune opponents.
Sickening Breath (3): This one lets you sicken creatures in a cone for 2 rounds on a failed Fort save, 1 on a successful save. Sickening is a -2 to attack, damage, saves, skill and ability checks. Only works on living creatures, of course, and has a pretty limited duration. If it lasted longer, this would be nasty with Entangling Exhalation, but its duration is rather unimpressive. If sickens could stack and make a creature nauseated, this might be worth it. It can also work wonders if you’ve got a caster in your party with Escalating Enfeeblement from Complete Mage.
Acid Breath (3): This is a handy damage type to have around, and will help a ton with melting objects. Door annoying you? Melt it into slag! Also good for Dragonwrought kobolds scheming to find, buy, steal, or build their own Crown of the North Winds (see the Equipment section for details).
Shaped Breath (1): Not worth it. This lets you create up to 4 squares of “safe haven” in your breath effect. Of course, if you’ve got Endure Exposure, your whole team is already safe from the effect. An argument has been made that this might be worth it if you’re trying to save some innocents who are being held in the line of fire by baddies. Breath effects are, however, extremely limited - you only receive a scant few over your levels, and thus it behooves you to choose them carefully. If you’ve got hostages to save, use Slow Breath - it won’t hurt the innocents and it will cripple the bad guys.
Slow Breath (5++): Oh . . . my . . . GAWD! Why would you take any other 5th level breath effect? WHY? Creatures within your cone of breath are slowed, as the spell, for two rounds on a failed Fort save (one on a successful save). This makes you an incredible support caster, as you can keep enemies from taking full round actions and keep them off your friends and allies backs. Hooah.
Weakening Breath (4): This comes a close second to Slow breath, imposing a -6 penalty to the Strength score of any enemy in the cone of effect for 4 rounds on a failed save, 2 rounds on a successful one. The big hit here is that it’s a penalty, meaning even undead are affected. Of course, multiple breaths don’t stack, so no crippling your enemies into the dirt - sigh! In a party with a monk who has Weakening Touch, a martial adept with Strength-draining Strike, or an arcane caster with Ray of Enfeeblement, this can get snazzy, allowing for you to aid your friends in dog-piling the penalties onto a foe until it drops.
Cloud Breath (1): Meh. You can make your breath a cloud instead of a cone. Who cares? If you’re in the midst of a big crowd of enemies, you’re doing something wrong. Skip!
Enduring Breath (3): Now we’re talking. Make everything in your breath weapon’s effect take ½ initial damage in the second round. Very handy for the levels before you get your breath weapon “nuke” (Fivefold Breath of Tiamat). There’s also a combo that can make this little gem pretty sexy (see the Combo section for details).
Sleep Breath (4*): Good. Anything that fails a Will save goes to sleep for a round, opening up the possibility of slaughtering it with a quadruple damage coup-de-grace hit from a weapon like a pick or a scythe. Anything that succeeds is instead exhausted for a round, which is a very nice effect in and of itself, and can be useful against stronger enemies. Of course, in a campaign against sleep/Fortitude save-resitant/immune critters, this one loses its effect and becomes a 1. Check the combos section for more on Sleep Breath’s uses.
Thunder Breath (4): Oooooh. Now here’s a really choice pick: this lets you deal sonic damage in a cone. Sonic damage not only crushes objects, but is the least common resistance on major enemies in the game. In other words, this effect will tear right through most critters, including the ones that manage to resist cold, fire, lightning, or acid.
Discorporating Breath of Bahamut (1): What a disappointment. Once again, as we all learned from watching GI Joe and Transformers, the bad guys not only look cooler but are ten times as buff. Where evil Adepts get the tactical nuke of Fivefold Breath, good ones get the disappointing Breath of Bahamut, which, though it deals untyped damage and does 1.5 times the normal amount, does so in a LINE. Sigh. It also auto-kills anything at 0 HP. So what. If it’s at 0 HP, chances are you’re not worried about it. Moreover it deals twice your class level in damage to you and you can’t prevent the damage with DR or “any similar benefit.” If you’re not good, it deals quadruple your class level in damage. Finally, you can’t use it on two consecutive rounds. Bah humbug.
Force Breath (4): This is a hard one to pass up. Incorporeal and ethereal foes are obnoxious, and this lets your nail them without breaking a sweat. Useful. The same effect, however, can be had with a potion of Ethereal Breath for only 2,250 gold. Ultimately, this will depend on the campaign - your call.
Paralyzing Breath (2): Paralyze enemies in a cone. Sounds awesome until you realize that a successful Fort save negates the effect and that it only lasts for one round on a failed save anyway.
Fivefold Breath of Tiamat (5): Hold me closer, 5-headed mistress! This is so sexy it deserves its own theme music. You breathe three cones and two lines, each of a different energy type, each dealing your breath weapon’s FULL DAMAGE. Very hot, very sexy. Of course, it does do twice your class level in damage when you use it (quadruple if you’re not evil), and you can’t use it on two consecutive rounds. Ow. Still worth it. To quote Spaceballs: "Evil will always win over good because good is dumb."
THE METABREATH FEAT CONUNDRUM
So here’s the poop on metabreath feats from the Draconomicon: they take a bit of wrangling to make work on a Dragonfire Adept. The basic issue is this clause:
Draconomicon, p. 66]To take a metabreath feat, a creature must have a breath weapon whose time between breaths is expressed in rounds.  wrote:
To take a metabreath feat, a creature must have a breath weapon whose time between breaths is expressed in rounds. Therefore a hell hound (which can breathe once every 2d4 rounds) can take metabreath feats, whereas a behir (breath weapon usable 1/minute) cannot.
There are approximately two different arguments that the enterprising player of a DFA can make to get around this nasty clause.
1. The Dragonborn Identity This is a sneaky one. By taking the Dragonborn template, a DFA can grab him or herself a breath weapon with a recharge period that’s expressed in rounds. This, of course, qualifies such DFAs for metabreath feats. Since, the argument goes, there is no clause about metabreath feats which explicitly prevents them from being applied to a breath weapon which does not have a recharge rate expressed in rounds, the Dragonborn DFA can then take metabreath feats and apply those to his or her breath weapon. The obvious counter-argument, of course, is that this is clearly a case of using the letter of the law to circumvent its intention – the classic “RAI” vs. “RAW” debate.
2. Power Surge! This is my new find, and my favorite end-run for obtaining metabreath feats. Power Surge is a feat in the Beholder section of Dragon #313, which allows you to modify a supernatural ability (one that has a minimum of 3/day uses) in a number of ways:
You can increase the damage by +1 per die
Increase the DC by +1
Increase the duration by +50% (not applicable to effects with an instantaneous duration)
But, best of all, it forces you to wait one round before using the ability again. Why is that important? Because, taking it means that you now have a breath weapon with a recharge rate expressed in rounds, which opens up all of the breath weapon FEATS from Draconomicon! Best of all, it can’t be argued with – it works perfectly, both in terms of RAI and RAW.
So, whichever strategy you like best, if you choose one you can get access to the following feats:
NOTE ON METABREATH FEATS: There's new info on these! See here for more info!
Clinging Breath: Adds +1 to number of recharge rounds for your breath. Also makes your breath weapon last 1 round longer, dealing 50% of the original damage to targets that were damaged in the first round. This can mean 2 extra rounds with Power Surge, which can be nasty-mean with maximize laid on top. Totally off-settable with Rapid + Recover Breath, too, so can be VERY worth the investment.
Lingering Breath: Your breath lingers in a cloud for a round, which deals damage to anybody dumb enough not to run out of it post-haste and forthwith. You can stack another round on it with Power Surge. Deals ½ damage and adds 2 rounds to recharge rate. This is HUGE when used in combo with Clinging - especially since it can be applied MULTIPLE TIMES TO THE SAME BREATH WEAPON, making a static field of energy that can last as long as you want it to! For more on this, check
Enlarge Breath: Extends your breath weapon out to 150% of its normal distance. A must-have. Adds a +1 to the recharge rounds, too, so it's a very small investment. Get this one!
Heighten Breath: Add up to your Con mod in DC to your breath weapon, adding 1 round for each point of boost. This means you can get DOUBLE your Con mod to your save DCs, which is great for nuking high save enemies.
Maximize Breath: Does what you think it would. Adds +3 to recharge rounds. Use this with Fivefold Breath to deal stupid damage. If you're getting this one, you'll have a 4 round total recharge with Power Surge added. This doesn't really pop until you add on Lingering and/or Clinging Breath to make the effect LAST, which then means that the recharge rate doesn't hurt you (since the effect will keep repeating without any effort from you!). See here for more info.
Quicken Breath: Useful if you want to fire off a breath and an invocation in the same round. This one is particularly nasty for chaining breath effects with other abilities, and makes for a good choice for assault/support fire DFAs. Adds 4 rounds to your recharge time, though, so you want to save this for encounters in which you want to lay the hammer down hard and fast. If you're already stacking on a bunch of other metabreath feats, though, there's no point to NOT using this too, since chances are you won't get to the end of your recharge before the fight's over. The best use of this is to use it to double up, firing off one quickened breath weapon and using a second for follow-up (for instance, using a Quickened, Entangling Dragonborn breath to de-buff enemies and then following up with your DFA breath as they struggle). See See here for more info.
Recover Breath: Subtracts one from the recharge rounds for your breath. Since most fights aren’t going to last TOO many rounds and your best bet on metabreath feats is to stack them on HARD, this isn’t a great choice for a DFA. Use only if you decide to focus on one or two metabreath feats with low recharge increases (like Shape Breath or Enlarge Breath). It also bears mentioning that Rapid Breath, below, can be stacked with this one to offset the "recharge cost" of more "expensive" metabreath choices.
Quicken Spell-Like Ability + Rapid Breath: Wooah! This one's from Savage Species, but technically, as it has a different name, is a different feat from the Draconomicon's Recover Breath. This means you can STACK THEM! A 2 round decrease in your recharge rate may seem insignificant, but it makes quite a few of the metabreath choices MUCH more usable. Strangely enough, you need Quicken Spell-Like ABility to qualify, but you can use that for a favorite invocation. Weird to have it as a prereq for Rapid Breath, though, since breath weapons are usually (Ex) or (Su).
Shape Breath: One of the true top picks of the metabreaths for a DFA, this gem lets you reshape your breath weapon from a line to a cone and vice versa for the low, low cost of just one round of recharge. This, apart from letting you apply certain energy types or effects to shapes you’d otherwise be unable to, can give you a giant boost in range! If you’ve got a 60 ft. line and a 30 ft. cone, you can choose to change your line effect to a cone and effectively double your cone (and thus your battlefield coverage!). Throw on Enlarge Breath and you’re up to a 90 foot cone. Crazy good!
Split Breath: Interesting, especially with a 90 ft. breath weapon (a la Shape Breath and Enlarge Breath). This lets you broaden your overall coverage by splitting your cone effect into two overlapping cones, each of which deals one-half of your normal damage (full damage in any overlap area of both cones). Good if you’re going into big battles with tons of mooks, but otherwise not the most impressive of the breath weapon feats.
Spreading Breath: Lets you change your breath weapon to a spread centered on your head. Worse yet, makes the spread dependant on your size, with only a 35 ft. spread for a colossal sized creature. TERRIBLE! Boooo! Don’t take this feat!
Extend Spreading Breath: This just gives you greater range with your spread effect. Whoop-di-doo. Take this if you want to waste two feats.
Power Attack + Tempest Breath: If you’re playing a BIG Dragonfire Adept (or just one shaped into a large size with humanoid shape - I suggest a Constrictor Naga from Oriental Adventures for HUGE SIZE!), you can use tempest breath to blow your enemies away. +1 to recharge, and the worst part: the checked condition doesn’t apply since your breath weapon is instantaneous in duration (in other words, it doesn’t make enemies pause – it either blows them over or doesn’t). It seems like you might be able to get around this by extending the duration (as per Exhaled Barrier, Entangling Exhalation, etc.), but that’s really up to DM fiat. Best of all, even though this normally requires a two feat investment, you can pick it up for a mere 10,000 gold if you invest in a Gorget of Tempest Breath from the Draconomicon!
These lovely little gems were recently brought to my attention by mmshah, and can be located in the Dragonlance Campaign Setting.
Flyby Attack + Flyby Breath: Flyby Breath is pretty sweet. I mean REALLY. Here's what it does: now, instead of a standard action, your breath weapon is a FREE action as long as you do nothing but fly during the round you use it. This means you can take a double move and use your breath weapon at the same time - very slick, especially if you've got perfect flight. Consider: with Entangling Exhalation, you'll be making your foe's movement pathetically slow. With a double move and perfect flight, you can dodge in your full speed in feet, tag opponents up to your full breath weapon's range away, then fly directly back out, leaving them at half speed, entangled, trying vainly to catch you. Very choice.
Strafing Breath: This requires the previous two feats as prerequisites, but allows you to lay down an area of effect on a Flyby Breath run that is the same as your cone (so think a 30 ft. cone with Shape and Enlarge Breath) stretched over half your flight speed in feet (let's say 30 ft. with Improved Draconic Flight). Assuming, say, a 30 ft. cone over 30 feet, you're covering a big rounded rectangle of around 60 by 30 feet. Great for storming castles. Pair with a Gorget of Tempest Breath, Humanoid Shape, and Enlarge Person to blow entire armies off of ramparts.
MUSINGS ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF MAXIMIZE BREATH
The following thoughts come from my ideas for a DFA who would use metabreath feats. I ended up statting out some damage progressions to see how effective Maximize would be. See what you think.
Maximize Breath seemed a bit tempting there for a bit. Aw hell. With Recover + Shape, you’ve got a breath weapon usable every other round that fills a 30 ft. cone from 3rd level and a 60 ft. cone from 8th. Now if I had Extend Breath instead, I’d have 1 more round of wait time but I’d be granted an extra 15 ft. at 6th for 45 ft. total and a huge 90 ft. breath at 9th. Maximize ain’t bad, of course, but . . . Okay – so which effect of Power Surge to use? The 50% duration increase, I suppose. That way I’ll get 1, 3, 4, or 6 rounds for my entangling effect (on a roll of 1, 2, 3, or 4, respectively). Not shabby!
Maximized Breath Damage by Level: 14 (2d6; 3rd), 21 (3d6; 5th), 28 (4d6; 7th), 35 (5d6; 9th), 42 (6d6; 11th), 49 (7d6; 14th), 245 (x5; 15th), 280 (8d6; 17th), 315 (9d6; 20th). This is assuming the use of the +1 damage per die option of Power Surge.
Per Round Damage (assuming use of normal breath every round) over 4 Rounds: 7x4 = 28 (2d6; 3rd), 10.5x4 = 42 (3d6; 5th) . . . no real reason to go on, here. It’s fairly obvious that one shouldn’t take Maximize Breath until 15th level - this is still NOT significant damage. But what about then? Let’s see . . .
Per Round Damage (assuming Fivefold Breath every OTHER round) over 4 rounds: 122.5x2 = 245 (x5; 15th), 140x2 = 280 (8d6; 17th), 157.5x2 = 315 (9d6; 20th). INTERESTING! Someone actually did their math homework over at WotC! . . . or, more likely, got lucky. Maximize actually ends up doing equivalent damage over the same period of time. The only difference, then, is the potential for “one-hit kills” in the first round from a maximized breath, and, of course, the automatic guarantee offered by maximize (as opposed to the statistically average but specifically random success experienced when rolling damage).
Maximized Entangling Exhalation Damage by Level: 6 (2d6; 3rd), 9 (3d6; 5th), 12 (4d6; 7th), 15 (5d6; 9th), 18 (6d6; 11th), 21 (7d6; 14th), 105 (x5; 15th), 120 (8d6; 17th), (9d6; 20th). This is assuming the 50% duration increase option of Power Surge (since Entangling Exhalation would benefit more from it), so another 36 damage would accrue over the 6 rounds of entanglement in each case. This would significantly increase damage over time.
The other thing is that with a Maximized, Power Surge breath you’ve got a guaranteed 6 rounds of entanglement (but you have to wait 4 rounds before your second breath and deal ½ damage), and on each round of entanglement the target would take 6 more damage. Of course, re-applications of your breath will ultimately deal more damage and keep your opponents entangled – the question then becomes how to use your actions afterward. Walk Unseen would have a different advantage – you could lay down a maximized entangling breath, go unseen, and then pop back in when the entangling effect wears off. You could also use it to your advantage if you chose Quickened Breath – lay out a quickened breath, go invisible, and move (all in the same round!), wait 5 rounds, lay out a quickened breath, go invisible, move, etc. You’d be better defended, that’s for sure. Maximize doesn’t really become worth it until you net Fivefold Breath at 15th level, sadly.
There might be some better feat choices, in short, than Maximize. In fact, there’s no real need to use ANY metabreath feats. Still, it’s a new trick that I’m curious to try, so I’m going to stick with it for now. Well, at least with Shape Breath, which I think has some obvious – and excellent – applications. On the other low-level DFAs who I’ve played and seen played finding a way to line up enemies in a 15 ft. cone was ALWAYS an issue, and a 30 ft. cone goes a loooooong way towards solving that basic issue. Fantasy Grounds is also very handy in that regard, as it provides nice, angle-appropriate cone templates you can use to spot whether your breath is going to catch baddies in it’s area; if you’re playing off-line, you kind of have to cut your own template out to help resolve those questions. Another nice dealio about cones in a dungeon game is the lovely way they nail guys around corners – I forget exactly how that works, though, so I’ll have to look it up.
I guess something in Maximize’s favor would be its ability to meet and exceed the resistance caps on certain monsters. Of course, you would have to be dealing full damage, not half damage from entangling exhalation, which means that the damage you’d deal would be negligible anyway. The bottom line is that Shape and Enlarge Breath are WORTH IT - they get you a HUGE bonus to range for very few recharge issues.
Maximize CAN, however, be worth it if you're willing to pick up Recover AND Rapid Breath. The total feat investment is kind of heavy, though: Entangling Exhalation, Power Surge, Maximize Breath, Recover Breath, Quicken Spell-Like, and Rapid Breath makes for SIX feats - do-able by 6th level with flaws, of course, but without them a looooooong haul strategy (by 12th).
That would end up looking like this:
Per Round Damage (assuming Fivefold Breath every OTHER round) over 2 rounds: 122.5x2 = 245 (x5; 15th), 140x2 = 280 (8d6; 17th), 157.5x2 = 315 (9d6; 20th). In other words, DOUBLE what Maximize would normally get you. Rapid and Recover and definitely worth it for those invested in Maximize's effect, but without them Maximize is a waste.
THE FINAL WORD ON METABREATH:
There's new info on how these feats work and what you can do with them. Check it out at the end of the guide, here.
Fearless (Player's Guide to Faerun): Yay for immunity to fear. Lets you show other dragons that you're the real deal. It also lets you take the Cumbrous Will feat (somewhere in this enormous section) for a constant +6 to Will saves. Yay!
Draconic Heritage: This may seem a waste on a DFA, but it can be a big help. If there’s a class skill you want but would otherwise be unable to afford (like, for instance, Hide), you can pick it up using this feat. In particular, check out its use in the Ghost Wyrm build (see the Full Builds section, below). It also stacks with other Draconic feats to amplify their stacking effects, so it can be very effective if you’re going heavy on the Draconics.
Mastery of the Day and Night (Magic of Eberron): This feat is handy in a very sexy combo that lets you launch maximized inflict spells at will. Check the combo section for more on how!
Guerilla Warrior (Heroes of Battle): For those who want to make a sneaky build but don't want to play a human or changeling with the Able Learner feat, this feat lets you pay only one point per rank for Hide and Move Silently even if they're purchased as cross-class skills. If you have at least one class WITH those skills and this feat, then, you can treat them as full class skills - same price, same cap. Mostly only of use on halfling or gnome builds focused around stealth (see the Builds and Combos sections for more on sneaky DFA builds).
Soultouched Spellcasting (Magic of Incarnum): Add a bonus equal to the essentia you invest to your dispel checks. Consider doing this only if you're REALLY worried about meeting DCs and have already invested in playing a race with starting essentia (Duskling, Azurin, or Rilkan). If you're going heavy into Incarnum, maybe this is worth it. Maybe.
Leadership: Okay, this one's obvious. Everybody knows this is likely the best feat in the game. I say only take it if you want a flavor-riffic companion who is sort-of central to your character build, if you don't mind running extra character stuff, and if you are in a smaller party. You might go with a big bruiser of a bodyguard (Crusader with Stand Still), a Marshal for aura-based boosts, whatever you like.
Steadfast Determination (PHB II): Makes your Will save attribute your Con. Worth it on a hefty Con build, but the feat investment (Endurace, Steadfast Determination) is a bit high. Consider using this on a Frostblood Orc, from Dragon Magic, to allow you to pick up Endurance for free, making the Steadfast Determination feat more of a shoe-in.
Wanderer's Diplomacy (PHB II): On a halfling Diplomancer build this can serve the same purpose of some of the other fun tricks (Human + Naberius, Changeling Rogue sub, etc.), letting you use Bluff as a standard action to improve an opponent's attitude for a minute. That minute may be all you need to cast a nice Charm, use Enthralling Voice, or just diplomacize him up to fanatical.
Inured to Energy (Savage Species): Raise existing Energy Resistance by 10 with a feat. You have to specify when you take it, but still – a 10 point boost in energy resistance could be a serious boon to a DFA who isn’t going to be able to snag the Energy Immunity invocation (for instance, in a campaign that won’t be going to such a high level). Still, not a hugely handy feat – especially when Shape Soulmeld – Dragon Mantle + Bonus Essentia can net you ER 9 to all major energy types, stacking with your Energy Resistance invocation!
Obtain Familiar (Complete Arcane): Yep, you too can have a familiar. In case you're wondering why you'd want one (i.e., experience bomb!), check out this thread by Dictum Mortuum for more info on how to optimize for a familiar-focused DFA.
Cumbrous Will (Savage Species): Requires Iron Will to get. With this feat, you get to add a +6 to your Will save (+8 total with Iron Will), but once you use it you're shaken for the entire encounter. Except if you're immune to fear, that is 9or if you're immune to being shaken, like a Krinth)! It also never says a THING about only being usable once per combat, so that's nice.
Cumbrous Dodge (Savage Species): This is a feat that allows you a +2 Dodge bonus to AC for an encounter but renders you fatigued afterward. If you're immune to fatigue (as you can be if you're Warforged), you can have a free +2 Dodge bonus to AC for the price of a feat! Pair with Expeditious Dodge as a prerequisite (instead of Dodge) to get another +2 Dodge bonus when you move at least 20 feet in a round, and you've got a more-or-less constant +4 to AC. Not shabby if you're going to try for a front-line build.
Quick Change (Savage Species): If you're doing the Humanoid Shape thing, there may be times that you'll want to shape into another form as a move action to leave your standard action free for breathing. Please feel free to grab this feat if that's the case!
Wingstorm: A nasty and effective choice for Dragonwrought kobold DFAs, this interesting entry will allow you, once you reach 6th level and can shape into a large humanoid form, to blow your enemies away with galeforce winds. The best part? The size of the wind effect is dependent on your AGE CATEGORY. In other words, as a venerable great wyrm, you create a cylinder 120 feet in radius and height (that’s 240 feet in diameter) of SEVERE windstorm effect! Now if you throw on some nice size boosting spells (say . . . Giantsize? Humanoid Shape into a Constrictor Naga?), you can boost that up to tornado force (if you can swing colossal size). Fun for the whole family! Hell, fun for the whole damn VILLAGE! Blow them away and burninate the remains!
Metamagic Spell Trigger: This little gem allows you to apply metamagic feat effects to items uses, so it’s got a lot of potential. Consider using this little number with Persistent Spell and some schemas or wands to give yourself an all-day buff or three.
Infernal Adept: This feat is from the online class chronicles article - you can find it here. It’s not the best thing in the world, but it’s interesting – if you take it, you can pick up an invocation from the Warlock list that’s two levels lower than the highest invocation you can use. It’s really a waste of a feat – if it granted one from the same level, it’d be fun (but not powerful), and at one level lower it’d be a flavor-only feat. At two levels lower than your highest, this just lets you (effectively) cast a cantrip. MUCH more worth it for Warlocks, who can pick up Magical Insight from the DFA list (which might actually be a decent payoff!).
Shape Soulmeld (Magic of Incarnum): This is an absolute ass-kicker of a feat, and allows for all sorts of coolness. Perhaps my favorite is Planar Ward, which prevents your character from suffering from the effects of ANY AND ALL compulsion and charm effects - all day long. There are numerous other possibilities, including very sexy options that boost skills, give you deflection bonuses against evil critters, heal others by taking damage, offer defense against critical and sneak attacks, the ability to re-roll miss chances against incorporeal enemies, energy resistance, spell resistance, DR, immunity to bull rushing, immunity to flanking, a constant feather fall effect, and dimension door at will. To name a few. Find out more from the following threads: Incarnate By the Numbers, Soulborn Handbook, and Incarnum Tricks/Combos/Builds?. Keep in mind that you can always use a wand of Open Least Chakra (from MoI, again - a 4th level spell) to bind whatever soulmeld you pick up with this feat to a chakra of your choice for 24 hours, making this a very worthwhile investment not just for the short term, but for the long haul. For more on tricks using this lovely little feat, see Dragonfire Handbook Update - The Second!
Dragon Wings/Improved Dragon Wings (Races of the Dragon): You can pick this up at 1st level to add flavor to your character if you want to. Since flight can be gained through an invocation (or, for that matter, ITEMS!), however, these are ultimately wasted feats. The one exception is when you’re building a Scout/Dragonfire Adept and you don’t want to go all the way to 6th level in the Dragonfire Adept class to pick up Draconic Flight.
Steady Concentration (Races of Stone): This very handy feat lets you take 10 on all Concentration checks. Since invocations do have somatic components and can provoke Aoos, this can help you auto-succeed on checks to avoid those in close combat. You shouldn’t be in close combat, of course, but in case you end up there, this can help.
Darkstalker (Lords of Madness): If you’re planning a sneaky Dragonfire Adept, this is an incredibly useful feat. With it, even enemies with blindsense, blindsight, scent, or tremorsense can’t automatically detect you when you’re hidden (or invisible!), and moreover they have to make a Listen or Spot check (whichever DC is higher ) to attempt to discern your location. Paired with the Walk Unseen invocation this can make for a very fun, very sneaky DFA.
Furious Inhalation (Races of the Dragon): Interesting if you want to try a Barbarian build. You’ll need some levels in a class or template that gives you a bite (I suggest two levels of Totemist or using a Longtooth Shifter as a base race), but then you can add 2d6 energy to your bite when you rage. Useful if you design around the ability (something like a Dragonfire Adept 2/Totemist 2/Barbarian 2/Fighter 1/Totem Rager 10 would work), but otherwise give this a pass. Your breath weapon will continue to be useful at later levels if you pick up Entangling Exhalation, too.
Exhaled Barrier (Races of the Dragon): This lets you create a 10 foot wall of energy for 1d4 rounds that deals damage equal to your breath weapon to creatures that pass through it. This feat has some significant limitations to work around: when you breathe, you may create a vertical wall that is 10 feet by 10 feet that extends from any corner of your square. It’s that last piece that really kills it. Not only are you prevented from stacking this with something like Entangling Exhalation, but you can’t use it at range and you can’t use it to block yourself off. Nonetheless, this can be especially useful in dungeons, and if you pair this with the Endure Elements invocation you can do some interesting stuff (see the Combos section, below). As a final note, the wall is opague, so it can offer defensive cover if you need it.
Exhaled Immunity (Races of the Dragon): This grants an adjacent ally immunity to the energy type of your breath weapon for 1d4 rounds after you breathe. This can be pretty impressive when you load on several different energy types through breath effects - essentially, you can grant immunity to an energy type for 1d4 rounds to any of your allies. The drawback is, of course, that it costs a standard action - which in combat is a precious thing. The Endure Elements invocation allows you to grant your allies immunity to your breath weapon all day. Both have their uses, but the d4 rounds of duration plus the sacrifice of a round in combat make Exhaled Immunity worth, all in all, worse.
Entangling Exhalation (Races of the Dragon): Inarguably the single best feat for any Dragonfire Adept, hands down - without this feat, the class isn't HALF as good! This makes your breath weapon into a battlefield control device, and is especially effective at early levels. Anything that takes damage from your breath weapon (which deals ½ damage when this feat is applied) is automatically entangled (which means that without evasion, anything you breathe on will get tripped up) for 1d4 rounds. Entangling imposes some impressive penalties: a -4 to Dex, -2 to attacks, halves the target’s speed, makes them unable to run or charge, and makes targets roll a DC 15 Concentration check to cast spells. Moreover, each round they remain entangled they take 1d6 energy damage (same type as your initial breath) - and multiple uses stack. At 1st level this makes your sustained damage capacity huge, and at later levels the battlefield control remains handy for tying enemies up. A must-have!
Ability Focus (Monster Manual, Complete Arcane): Another must-have. A +2 to the DC of an ability is nothing to sneeze at, and since every breath effect still counts as being your breath weapon the DC improvement will apply to any use. You may want to get this for some invocations as well, depending on your build.
Reverberation (Savage Species): The Dragonfire Adept has access to several sonic-based invocations and one sonic breath effect (Thunder Breath). Reverberation stacks with Ability Focus and adds another +2 to the DC. Unless you're focused, you won't want this.
Snake Blood (Forgotten Realms - Campaign Setting/Player's Guide) + Cobra Hood (Forgotten Realms - Serpent Kingdoms): The first of these two gives you access to the second. The second gives you an inflatable cobra hood which, apart from looking freaky, gives you a +2 on Intimidate checks and a +1 to the DC of all fear-based spells, spell-like abilities, and effects you create. If you're bound and determined to do a terrifying DFA, this could add some flavor and a little effect; personally, I don't think the boost is worth two feats.
Dragonwrought (Draconomicon): This feat, available only at 1st level, allows you to play a Dragonwrought kobold - a kobold with the full dragon type. This opens up some interesting feat combinations, but also helps offset the otherwise prohibitive stat modifiers for a lizard (-2 Con and a -4 Strength ). How, you ask? A popular fact about Dragonwrought kobolds on the age table on p. 39 of Races of the Dragon informs the reader that Dragonwrought kobolds receive no attribute penalties for age. This means a “venerable” Dragonwrought kobold, who still has a looooooong life ahead of him, has a massive +3 to Int, Wis, and Cha - and no attending penalties to Str, Con, or Dex!
Improved Speed (Draconomicon): This feat is phenomenal, especially given all the advantages that greater mobility gives a Dragonfire Adept. This adds 10 feet to your land speed and 20 to your flight. However, as the flight speed of a Dragonfire Adept is based on land speed, you can net 30 feet of flight speed with this single feat (depending on if your DM allows the logic). Unfortunately, only dragons can pick up this feat, which makes it limited to use by Dragonwrought kobolds.
Flyby Attack (Monster Manual): Anything that lets you strafe your enemies with your breath weapon keeps you safe. Get this feat. The only reason you might not want it would be that you spend most of your time standing next to a character with huge reach and Stand Still or Knockback who guards you against melee attacks, or you never get to fight aboveground.
Great Flyby Attack (Savage Species): This is a fantastic feat for Scout multiclassing! This lets you attack a number of targets equal to your Dex mod in a straight line without taking Aoos from any of them, which can be amazingly effective if you’re fighting a lot of enemies and have something to up your damage (like skirmish ). Pair with Weapon Finesse and Shadow Blade from Tome of Battle, and you can streak through crowds dealing impressive skirmish damage. The new feats in Complete Scoundrel can make you even more effective at this.
Improved Flyby Attack (Savage Species): This ensures that you’ll never suffer Aoos when strafing. That said, you most likely won’t get close enough to targets to suffer Aoos, so this feat is of questionable use.
Draconic Senses (Dragon Magic): A Dragonfire Adept can use an invocation to get blindsense, but if you’re getting other Draconic feats this allows you to save the slot for another invocation. This feat gives you low-light vision and a bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks equal to the number of your Draconic feats; with three Draconic feats you get darkvision, and with four total (this one included) you get blindsense.
Draconic Knowledge (Dragon Magic): This enhances your Knowledge skills by adding a +1 un-named bonus for every Draconic feat you have. If you’re looking to build a Scholar (see the Builds section, below), this can be entertaining.
Draconic Knowledge (Draconomicon): That’s right - it has the same name as the previous feat. WotC really needs to hire some decent editors/proof-readers . . . (points to himself, waving frantically). An interesting ability that requires a prohibitive 19 in Intelligence and the Dragonwrought Kobold feat to take, this lets you make the equivalent of bardic knowledge checks, and does some impressive stuff when paired with other Dragonfire Adept abilities (see the Combos section).
Draconic Aura (Dragon Magic): The Energy aura is incredibly useful, allowing you to up the DC on a particular breath weapon (of a given energy type) by +4. Of course, the aura won’t work on some of the best breath types (Bahamut’s, Tiamat’s, and Force), but there are ways to use this aura to your advantage (see the Combo section, below). Moreover, the Energy aura ups the DC on the saves for your spellcasting friends’ spells of the same energy type, leading to a very nice party synergy. The Senses aura gives up to a +4 to initiative, Listen, and Spot checks, and the Insight aura improves Knowledge, Decipher Script, and Spellcraft checks. Good stuff, all.
Double Draconic Aura (Dragon Magic): If you’re planning to grab a couple of auras, this feat is for you. This lets you apply the effects of two auras at once, which can prove incredibly handy.
Trivial Knowledge (Races of Stone): This is a gnomish godsend, and is particularly effective when paired with the Draconic Knowledge invocation. This allows you to re-roll any Knowledge check, making you a party shcolar extroardinaire. If you like playing know-it-alls, this one’s for you, baby.
Bind Vestige + Improved Bind Vestige + Practiced Binder (Tome of Magic): There are a couple of options here that are just too juicy to pass up. If you’re planning on front-lining it, you can’t go wrong with all three of these feats and Dahlver Nahr, who can grant you ½ your Con bonus to AC (in addition to making you immune to Wisdom damage and insanity). This is particularly nice if you’re playing a truly Con-heavy breath-weapon focused DFA, like a Dragonborn Mongrelfolk. On the other hand, just picking up Bind Vestige and Improved Bind Vestige gets you access to Focalor’s Aura of Sadness, which lays down an impressive -2 to a target’s saves, attacks, AC, and skill checks when they’re adjacent to you. This is not to be scoffed at, especially when stacked with Entangling Exhalation for a very sexy -4 to AC, -4 to melee attacks, -6 to ranged attacks (and finesse attacks), -4 to Reflex saves, and -2 to all other saves! Finally there’s Naberius, who with just Bind Vestige and Practiced Binder gets you skill mastery in both Diplomacy and Bluff (for those non-Changeling DFAs determined to Diplomance). Hooah.
Scorpion’s Resolve (Sandstorm): This is a feat that deserves mention for any character build. This feat is essentially “Iron Will plus,” granting a +4 to saves vs. mind-affecting spells and abilities. The perfect choice for a truly hard-headed, arrogant DFA.
Expeditious Dodge (Races of the Wild): If you’re planning on using Flyby Attack and a decent fly speed (40 feet or more per round), this will improve your AC by 2 while you make your strafing runs. Heck, even if you stay ground-bound, you will be able to move and breathe every round, which will mean a constant +2 to AC if you are tactically clever about your moves.
Aerial Reflexes (Races of the Wild): If you’re going to fly, this will grant you a bonus to Reflex saves while flying that can be quite significant, covering for what is otherwise a low save for Dragonfire Adepts. Perfect maneuverability gets you a +4 in the air, good a +3, average a +2, and poor a +1. A reasonable choice for improving your weak save, but not entirely necessary.
Aerial Superiority (Races of the Wild): Grants a +1 dodge bonus to AC while in the air against non-flying opponents or flying ones with lower maneuverability. All in all, not phenomenal - but not entirely worthless, either, if AC is what you feel you need most.
Sociable Personality (Races of Destiny): The only reason to ever play a Half-Elf. This can make you the consummate diplomat by allowing you to re-roll Diplomacy and Gather Information checks. Very nice on a slick DFA build with a Charisma-focus. Of course, you could just get the same thing from a level of Binder on a human DFA or a level of Rogue on a Changeling DFA. Your choice.
Spring Attack (Player’s Handbook): This is a substitute for Flyby Attack and isn’t as good - it costs 2 feats to get. If you’re bound and determined not to fly (WHY?), you could pick this up. Don’t.
Improved Flight (Complete Adventurer): If you don’t plan on picking up the Greater Draconic Flight invocation, this will allow you to get perfect maneuverability with the Lesser invocation, Dragon’s Flight. Of course, you can get the same effect from an item that costs only 12,000 gold (see the Items section, below). Pass on this.
Frightful Presence (Draconomicon): This has some very nice applications with the Dragonfire Adept’s class abilities (see Combos), and adds to your overall draconic feel. A good crowd control ability, but you should plan for it if you want to use it. Since technically this only triggers on an "attack or charge," some DMs may rule that your breath weapon doesn't count (which, technically, it doesn't . . . boo!). If that's the case, skip this feat. The flavor, however, is perfect for a DFA, and reasonable DMs may be able to be persuaded to let you have a go with this one.
Dreadful Wrath (Player's Guide to Faerun): Another feat worth mentioning while we're on the subject of Fear Auras that don't TECHNICALLY work on a DFA is Dreadful Wrath from the Player's Guide to Faerun, which is essentially the same feat as Frightful Presence but which you can pick up at first level. This one is of use even if it can't apply to your breath weapon, since unlike Frightful Presence, which stipulates the use of an attack or charge action, this one works with the use of spells - which your invocations, as spell-like abilities, qualify as! Of course, if you can convince your DM to allow it, it would be lovely if it could apply to your breath weapon as well.
Dragonfire Strike (Dragon Magic): If you’re planning on playing a Scout or Rogue build, this will add 1d6 to your skirmish or sneak attack and turn it into fire damage. Very flavorful, very effective. A great option for multiclassers.
Extra Invocation (Complete Arcane): This one’s kind of a “gimme.” You gain the use of an invocation of any level up to one lower than your current highest (meaning you can’t take it before 6th level). This allows you greater flexibility and greater effectiveness when choosing your invocations, and ultimately makes for a better character. If your DM is picky about the letter of the law but not the spirit, you can also technically make the argument that this feat would allow you to pick up Warlock invocations as well. Of course, the Sage has made a ruling about “Extra Spell” that suggests that this wouldn’t be kosher, but until it’s been officially errata’ed, I’d say go for it.
Able Learner (Races of Destiny): This one lets humans pay only one skill point per rank for all skills, cross-class or not. If you multiclass with one level of something like Rogue, this can translate in being able to have full ranks in tons of handy skills (Hide, Move Silently, Disable Device, Open Locks, etc.), and can allow you to be the party trap-finder, lock-opener, and all-around Swiss Army Knife.
Dragon Cohort (Draconomicon): This is mostly for flavor, but can be very fun nonetheless. This feat gets you a better than normal Leadership-style cohort, which has to (incidentally) be a dragon. Depending on how your DM runs things (the Draconomicon is full of obnoxious rules that make dragons, all ready a mediocre cohort at best, even more annoying to take care of), this can be a fun way to amplify your draconic flavor and give your party an extra helping . . . erm . . . breath.
Draconic Prophecy + Craft Wand + Prophecy’s Artifex (Magic of Eberron): Craft Wand is a bit of a wasted feat on a DFA, since you won’t be able to fulfill most of the spellcasting requirements to actually MAKE the kind of wands you want to use. The ability to activate a wand once per round as a SWIFT ACTION, however, is frankly amazing! The cost in feats is heavy, but the benefit is very nearly worth it. Nothing says loving like being able to cast a wand spell, move, AND breathe all in the same round - especially with wands of Metabreath spells!
Dual Wand Wielder (Complete Arcane): This one has some hefty prerequisites (including Craft Wand, which is annoying for the reasons stated above), but activating two wands in a single turn can change a complete rout into a victory for your party. DFAs who have to play the healer for their compatriots by using wands will find this one VERY useful. All in all, however, this loses out to Prophecy’s Artifex - if your DM doesn’t allow the Eberron books, though, it can play a similar role.
Breath of Syberis (Dragonmarked): This is my new favorite DFA feat! Okay, maybe not my FAVORITE, but it sure as hell ain’t shabby! Add 1d6 to your breath weapon if you have a standard dragonmark. If, on the other hand, you’ve got a Syberis Mark (which you can only get with a level dip into Heir of Syberis, available from 13th level - perhaps best to wait until 15th, so you can then pick up Breath of Tiamat at 16th) you can whip out an impressive +2d6. This, of course, turns into +4d6 on Bahamut’s Breath and a whopping +10d6 on Tiamat’s - shazam!
Improved Draconic Aura (Dragonmarked): As a swift action, you can grant up to a +4 bonus to the effect of any of your draconic auras for a round by spending an action point. This can be nicely optimized with certain auras, but you have to have a good idea of which you want to use. This feat also requires you to invest rather heavily in Dragonmark feats in order to reap its full benefit, so you have to be certain there's an aura you want to improve before you take it.
Mark of Stars (Dragonmarked): If you're doing an Heir of Syberis build, you can't go wrong with this one! This grants you a +2 insight bonus to AC and saves, and also guarantees that you will NEVER be surprised or flat-footed. Since the text specifically states NEVER, that means you can sleep in peace and never risk being thugged! Granted, Heir of Syberis is a late-levels PrC, but this is quite a choice, flavorful feat if you're into it.
Least Aberrant Dragonmark, Mark of Madness, Mark of Xoriat (Eberron Campaign Setting, Dragonmarked): Achievable by 3rd level, this string of feats can benefit any character. The third in the series grants DR 5/beshyk, which is a rare enough material that almost no enemies will be able to overcome it.
Orien Battle Stride (Dragonmarked): Another Mark of Syberis trick. If you've got a Syberis Mark of Passage (which gives you a Greater Teleport spell-like ability once per day), this lovely gem allows you to take a free 5-foot step (which, of course, doesn't provoke Aoos) whenever an enemy misses you. This is amazingly handy for negating melee types - if they miss with ANY of their attacks, you get to 5-foot step and move OUT OF RANGE, ruining their full attack action! Fun and slick.
MUSINGS ON SHAPE SOULMELD
This came from an interest on my part in which Soulmelds might have some sort of interesting use for a DFA character. Shape Soulmeld, the feat, has the nice advantage of scaling with level, since you can grab a wand of Open Least Chakra to link your soulmeld up for a secondary benefit later on. Wait a minute – 4th level wands cost an assload – make it a Schema from Magic of Eberron for 1/day use! They cost 11,200 gold, which is only 5,100 gold in materials and a paltry 448 experience for a crafter (party up with an Artificer!).
Now to check out some of the options:
Adamant Pauldrons: 25% negation of crits and sneak attacks. Not shabby.
Airstep Sandals: It’s kind of dirty, but the text of the foot-bound sandals states “you fly with perfect maneuverability.” It says nothing about the maneuverability increase only affecting your flight speed from airstep sandals. Perfect flight? Niiiiice.
Basilisk Mask: If I were an Azurin, I could invest a single essentia into this to pick up 30 ft. of Darkvision. Not bad. Chakra-binding isn’t great, though.
Blink Shirt: A gimme for the dimension door, but I’d want to pick up Bonus Essentia as a feat at 6th.
Bluesteel Bracers: +2 to initiative. Bah. Chakra bind to grant allies a +2 as well. I’d rather get Improved Initiative, frankly.
Fearsome Mask: A meager Intimidate bonus without brow-binding, but with brow-binding gives a fear-inducing gaze attack. Makes me want to build a scary character! Especially worth it with a schema of Open Least Chakra.
Fellmist Robe: 10% concealment (or 15% with an Azurin) is not to be scoffed at – especially when most enemies will be at range.
Flame Cincture: Fire resistance 10 (15 on an Azurin) is not shabby in a dragon campaign. Still, a bit situationally-dependent.
Impulse Boots: Uncanny dodge, plus an enhancement bonus to Ref saves with essentia (which would stack with a resistance bonus). Foot-bind for Evasion.
Incarnate Avatar: +1 insight bonus to AC if an Azurin.
Keeneye Lenses: Spot ups and see invisibility if brow-bound.
Kruthik Claws: Sneak ups. Since I’m not playing a sneak, meh!
Llamasu Mantle: +2 deflection bonus to AC against evil critters. Wears out at higher levels, so meh.
Lucky Dice: Swift action for +1 to attack and damage, saving throws, or skill and ability checks; a chance of adding to all of them, too.
Mage’s Spectacles: +4 to UMD checks. Thank you! I think the Elder Spirit does it better, though.
Necrocarnum Vestments: Cold resistance 5 – meh.
Pauldrons of Health: Immunity to sickening and nausea. With my fort save, this gets a meh.
Pegasus Cloak: Feather fall, fly if you shoulder bind. Meh.
Phase Cloak: Climb speed, ethereal movement if shoulder-bound.
Planar Chausuble: Energy Resistance 10 based on alignment (15 if Azurin).
Planar Ward: Immunity to possession, charm, and compulsion. Wow.
Rage Claws: Act at lower than 0 HP without bleeding out.
Riding Bracers: The skill bonuses are worthless, but the +2 dodge bonus to AC when mounted could be fun on a DFA with a Dragon cohort.
Shedu Crown: Immunity to bull rushes, essentia in competence bonus to saves against mind-affecting effects (so it stacks with resistance bonuses), and crown-bind for telepathy. Not shabby!
Silvertongue Mask: +2 to Bluff and Diplomacy (+4 on an Azurin). Maybe worth it on a Diplomancer build, but not this guy.
Soulspeaker Circlet: Understand a spoken language (2 if an Azurin). Crown-bind to read and speak, too.
Spellward Shirt: SR 5 (9 if an Azurin). At 6th, you can get Bonus Essentia to kick your SR up to 17. This can be further enhanced by Boost SR (is that the name of it?) from the BoVD, I suppose. Interesting idea, but not easily optimizable.
Strongheart Vest: Reduce ability damage. Meh.
Threefold Mask: You can’t be flanked. Crown-bind for extra move actions.
Totem Avatar: +1 enhancement bonus to natural AC for an Azurin – more with Bonus Essentia. Otherwise worthless, and will definitely lose utility later on.
Truthseeker Goggles: Brow-bind for darkvision. Also gives Sense Motive, Gather Info, and Search ups. Meh.
Unicorn Horn: Brow-bind for detect evil at will. Who cares?
Wind Cloak: Magic DR against ranged weapons is . . . okay. Shoulder-bind for Deflect Arrows. Meh.
Wormtail Belt: +2 enhancement to nat AC. Woot! Azurin would get a +3, and you could up that to a +5 by 6th level with Bonus Esentia.
Ythrak Mask: Listen ups; blindsense if you brow-bind. Meh.
Astral Vambraces: DR 2/magic; 4/magic for an Azurin. Arm-bind for an astral construct feat (interesting!).
Charming Veil: +1 to Charm DCs (+2 on an Azurin, +4 with Bonus Essentia). Could be cool on a Diplomancer! Brow-bind for a saving throw and sense motive bonus.
Psion’s Eyes: Brow-bind for mindlink at will.
Dragon Mantle: +2 enhancement bonus to Fort saves (so stacks with resistance ups); resistance 3xessentia against all four main energy types. Very nice, potentially, since the resistance explicitly states that it stacks with all other energy resistances. With an Azurin who had bonus essentia, this could get you to ER 9 against fire, cold, electricity, and fire – not shabby for a dragon hunter.
Elder Spirit: +4 to Know (arcane), Know (history), and UMD. Crown-bind for immunity to sleep, paralysis, and a +4 to Intimidate.
So the big winners strike me as the Blink Shirt, Planar Ward, Dragon Mantle, and Shedu Crown. I do so like telepathy, after all! Of course, I could also do Bind Vestige and Practiced Binder to grab Naberius’s Skills, which would give me skill mastery with Bluff and Diplomacy and let me make standard action Diplomacy checks at no penalty (hooah!). Another option would be to be a Dragonwrought Kobold, to take advantage of the attribute ups without losing out on Entangling Exhalation and Power Surge (and to net a +2 to AC – yay!). Expeditious Dodge would also up the AC, as long as I kept moving.
Worshipping an Elder Evil
Makes you awesome. With the advent of this supplement, you've got all kinds of evil options - and hey, just for swearing allegiance to a Lovecraftian force for change, you get FIVE FREE VILE FEATS! Better yet, some - in fact, MANY - of those feats kick BUTT on a DFA!
Apostate: ½ level to saves vs. divine magic. Kind of defensive, so it’s a bit of a meh feat.
Chosen of Evil: 1 Con to get an insight bonus equal to vile feats to add an un-named bonus to attack, saving, ability, or skill check. Pair with Master’s Will for a big stacker (but requires two immediate actions in a round).
Enemy of Good: +2 DC against foes with an aura of good. Meh.
Slave of Evil: Increasing benefits against divine casters. Meh.
Master’s Will: Immediate action for a 50/50 chance of a +8 un-named bonus to an attack, save, ability check, or skill for 1 round. Otherwise, 1 damage per HD. For a skillmonkey DFA with a level of Factotum or Rogue (especially Changeling Rogue with Able Learner), this means MASSIVE skill checks from LOW levels, making you battlefield control AND skillmongerer extraordinaire. Woot!
Dark Speech: Fun with scaring critters. This is a prereq for Dark Whispers, which is a kick-butt suplementary ability for a battlefield comptroller DFA.
Dark Whispers: 1 Con to cause confusion on enemies for a round (stagger lower HD enemies for 1d10 rounds). Grab a Wand of Lesser Restoration, then breathe, entangle, and finish them off by making them go NUTS. Sweet.
Filthy Outburst: 1d6 Con damage to deafen and weaken the resistance of foes to evil stuff. Since DFAs don't really get any specifically evil abilities, this is mostly only useful for amping Dark Whispers.
Evil’s Blessing: Cha mod as a profane bonus to saves for 5 rounds as a standard. This is INSANE on a Cha-based, invocation-focused DFA - use it!
Harvester of Souls: Coup de’ grace to get some extra hit points and prevent resurrection. Big fat meh - especially for DFAs, who don't bother attacking anyhoo.
Insane Defiance: Take 1 Wis to transfer, as an immediate action, a mind-affecting spell or attack to an enemy (who gets a -4 penalty to the save). This can be awesome for channeling friendly spellcasters spells - have them cast on you, then sucker-punch an enemy with the effect!
Murderous Intent: Full-round action to melee attack a chosen enemy. If you do 1 point of damage, the enemy makes a Will save; if it fails, that enemy can take only a move or standard next round. You also auto-confirm threats against favored enemies. DFAs don't care, so give this feat a miss.
Abominable Form: Gets a shaken from enemies, but the DC ain’t gonna be worth it – it’s based on the number of Deformity feats you have. If you wanna be freaky, consider being obese (+2 Con/-2 Dex); a fat-assed Dragonborn Mongrelfolk would, by the by, get a +8 Con for a +0 LA!
Deformity (madness): -4 to Wisdom for immunity to mind-affecting spells and abilities. Sweet. This is a two-feat chain, though – it begins with Willing Deformity. You can't lose with this - GET IT!
Reflexive Psychosis: Get DR 5/- for a round of madness after. Pair with Half-Minotaur for brokenness. Technically, since confused is italicized in the entry, it’s a spell-like effect, which means, given your deformity, you should technically be immune to it . . . which makes no sense. Oh well.
Oil Flasks + Entangling Exhalation: I’ll start with a very fun, very low-level trick that can be of use from first level to any party with a DFA in it. Make sure everyone carries multiple flasks of oil. Now, after you “napalm” an enemy with Entangling Exhalation, everyone can chuck a flask of oil at the enemy as a ranged touch attack (which, at first level, can be very helpful in ensuring hits - especially for caster characters!). Since the target’s already burning, the oil is guaranteed to be set off, dealing damage as alchemist’s fire (1d6 fire damage plus another 1d6 the following round). With an entire party chucking oil, this can add up to one very toasty critter (½ of 1d6 from the breath weapon + 1d6 x number of party members the first round, 2d6 breath weapon + 2d6 x number of party members the second round). Use this on bosses, and to pick fights with critters you'd normally be unable to kill. Loads of fun, loads of exp!
Humanoid Shape – Varag + Draconic Flight/Greater Draconic Flight: This is a nice little trick if you really want some serious flight speed on your DFA. Shift into Varag form to get 60 feet of base land speed. Now use Draconic Flight for 60 feet of flight, or Greater Draconic Flight for 120 feet of speed. If you really want to soup up your overall speed, throw on Air Heritage for a total of 150 feet, or Improved Speed for 160 feet. Add BOTH on a Dragonwrought Kobold (the only characters who will benefit from Improved Speed) for 190 feet of flight speed. Ridiculous on a Strafing Attack + Exhaled Barrier character, since that makes for static rectangular solids of energy that fill 10 x 10 x 80 cubic foot areas and last for a d4 rounds (or more with Power Surge).
Maximize Spell + Mastery of the Day and Night + Least Mark of Healing + Nosomatic Chirurgeon lv. 1: The ability Nosomatic Chirurgeon grants allows you to use invocations to cast at-will inflict spells, which is handy as heck, and the addition of Mastery of the Day and Night allows you to treat every casting as automatically maximized (!!). At higher levels, this means you can lay out maximized mass inflict spells each round. This is very handy for a DFA who is investing in metabreath feats, since it gives you an ability you can use in the rounds during which you’re waiting for your breath weapon to recharge.
Lifebond Vestments + Draconic Toughness/Iron Heart Endurance: This is kind of entertaining, but doesn't really work wonders unless you've got some Incarnate levels. The idea is simple - you can use your temporary HP granted by Draconic Toughness to fuel your use of Lifebond Vestments, allowing you to heal. Granted, you can only use it on any given character once in an hour, but still a fun combo.
UMD (Wand of Shield Other) + Draconic Toughness: You take 1/2 a party member's damage, and get to refill your temporary HP whenever you start to take real damage. Great way to make yourself useful against energy-immune creatures, or hard-hitting monsters. NOTE: Credit for this goes to JamesWilliamMogle!
Instill Vulnerability + Walk Unseen: Though Instill Vulnerability can be obnoxious to use once combat has begun, it works phenomenally well in a surprise round. Normally Instill Vulnerability wastes an action in combat, but Walk Unseen can mean that you use your surprise round to get the jump on a single baddie (usually the scariest) and soften it up for subsequent breath-weapon hits. Especially nice if you’ve got an arcane caster or two in the party with energy spells of the appropriate type prepared!
Prophecy’s Artifex + Wand of Breath Weapon Spell: Prophecy’s Artifex, a feat from Magic of Eberron with some hefty prerequisites (see the Feats section for details), can let you use a wand a quickened action each round for a limited duration. This can allow you to lay down some impressive effects, such as admixture (for double damage!), substitution (to vary energy type to avoid enemy immunities), enervation (to give an enemy 2d4 negative levels with a breath!), stunning, etc. The cost of some of these wands can be prohibitive, though, so choose your timing carefully and don’t waste charges.
Instill Vulnerability + Enduring Breath + Draconic Aura - Energy: This is a nice one. Instill Vulnerability makes your breath weapon do 50% more damage to your target, which means Enduring Breath also does 50% more damage on a subsequent round. The Energy Aura adds another +4 to your breath weapon’s DC, which is incredibly significant and means most enemies will have a hard time avoiding it. Furthermore, if you’re in a party with casters you can have them prepare spells of the same energy type, making their spells both deal more damage and harder to resist. Since Instill Vulnerability only works on a single target at a time, this is best for big enemies. Technically speaking, Instill Vulnerability is really not the best of the Dark Invocations unless you’re passing up Fivefold Breath of Tiamat, but if you are, this combo makes your 9d6 weapon deal 13-81 damage the first round (instead of 9-54) and 9-60 the second (instead of 4-27). Since multiple breaths will stack, this means you’ll be doing 22-141 the second round and each subsequent round, effectively. Still, this doesn’t come close to Fivefold Breath’s 45-270 damage for a single round. Since you do have to wait a round before employing Fivefold Breath again, however, and since it deals damage to you, you may want to consider using this combination instead. If you like, throw on Improved Draconic Aura so that you can spend an action point to add another +4 to the save to make this REALLY hard to resist.
Exhaled Barrier + Walk Unseen + Endure Elements: This one is tricky and can be quite nasty, and it’s one of the more entertaining combos a DFA gets access to. Invisibility de-activates when you “attack” a foe, which the SRD further qualifies as including “any spell targeting a foe or whose area or effect includes a foe.” This means that if you breathe an energy wall that doesn’t actually hit a foe, you are technically not attacking and can remain invisible. In other words, you can stay invisible for an entire combat and waltz across the battlefield, throwing down energy walls as barriers to keep your enemies trapped like rats in a maze. If you have pre-cast Endure Elements on your allies, they’re all immune to the energy damage the walls cause, meaning that they can move freely about the battefield without fear of getting hurt. If you want to make this even sillier, use the Enduring Breath effect to make each wall deal damage twice - once when the enemy walks through it, then ½ that damage again on the following round. Alternatively, do this with Slow Breath, Weakening Breath, or the like - the Exhaled Barrier feat stipulates that “if your breath weapon doesn’t deal damage, the wall does 2d6 fire damage.” In other words, you can get a breath weapon effect like Slow or Sleep AND deal damage at the same time! This can be a ferocious combo, especially in dungeons or places where mobility and movement are otherwise limited. Throw on an Eversmoking Bottle and Voidsense if you want to get really nasty, and you’ll be able to dance around in a cloud of smoke making walls for your enemies to stumble blindly through.
Voidsense + Eversmoking Bottle: The thing that’s interesting about your Breath Weapon is that it doesn’t require an attack roll. This means that if you know the square an opponent is occupying, you can breathe on that opponent - in effect, concealment means nothing to you if you have blindsense. Using an Eversmoking Bottle is an excellent way to take advantage of this, giving yourself full concealment while using Voidsense to wreak havoc on your enemies.
Exhaled Barrier + Chilling Fog: This one is a cool combo that Gerdeg's Dragonfire Adept Handbook brought to my attention. Lay down a Chilling Fog, then start layering different 10 foot breath-weapon walls throughout the fog. Your targets can barely move, and when they do they end up taking full damage from stepping into a wall and then full damage again in the next round (since they can only take 5 foot steps). A very nasty nobbling combo. This is, of course, limited by the fact that your walls can only be cast 10 feet from you, meaning you’ll either need a friend to cast Freedom of Movement on you (or get it from an item) or be willing to spend a lot of time dancing around the edges of your cloud.
Chilling Fog + Spring Attack/Flyby Attack + Voidsense + Freedom of Movement: This is a nasty one for Scout/Unseen Seer builds. You cast a Chilling Fog, limiting your foe’s mobility. Now you proceed to use Freedom of Movement to dart in, jab your foe with a skirmish strike, and dart out. You don’t even need cold resistance or immunity for this, since the cold damage dealt by Chilling Fog is applied to creatures who start their turn inside its radius. This is very cinematic - think the end scene in Gangs of New York where Daniel Day Lewis cuts Leonardo di Caprio into pieces by darting by him in the mist. Wish he’d actually done him in . . .
Chilling Fog + Bind Vestige + Improved Bind Vestige + Entangling Exhalation + Energy Resistance/Immunity: This one’s also fun. With Focalor’s Aura of Sadness, your enemy will take a -2 to almost all rolls. With Entangling Exhalation, that gets amplified. Step into the fog with your enemy, and you can guarantee that you’ll be standing next to him when you breathe each round, giving him a -4 to AC, attacks, damage, Reflex saves, ability checks, skill checks, and a -2 to Fort and Will saves. Add on that you won’t be hurt by your own fog’s cold damage, and this can annoy the ever-loving crap out of bad guys. Especially those with reach weapons - since they can’t hit you when you’re standing right next to them, they’ll only be able to manage a single attack each round. If you really want to get silly, throw on Humanoid Shape and turn into a Troglodyte, using your Stench to sicken your target in addition to all the other big save penalties!
Draconic Flight/Greater Draconic Flight + Improved Speed/Air Heritage + Flyby Attack: Improved Speed is incredible - with a single feat, your land speed improves by 10 feet and your fly speed by 20. The interesting thing about this is that technically your base fly speed, as determined by Draconic Flight, is equal to your land speed - meaning that with one feat, your flight improves by 30 feet per round. Air Heritage is another way to grab 30 feet of flight speed, and doesn’t require the Dragonwrought feat and the kobold race, but if your choose to throw both on a Kobold, you're looking at 90 feet of flight speed. Flyby Attack has obvious application with your breath weapon, letting you stay out of harm’s way and strafe your opponents.
Slow Breath + Entangling Exhalation: This combo makes you one of the most incredible battlefield control casters out there. Your Slow Breath works for 2 rounds if they fail a save - and one if they don’t! In other words, if you breathe on a target, it is GUARANTEED to be slowed for a round (unless it’s hasted, in which case you remove its buff), giving it a -1 to AC and attacks and limiting it to either a partial or move action each turn! The best part is that even teleporting characters will have trouble with you - after all, though their movement won’t be slowed by entanglement, limiting their action choices will make them suffer. Alternate this with Entangling Exhalation and all but incorporeal enemies will be completely locked down, unable to effectively defend themselves or mount any significant attack.
Draconic Toughness/Iron Heart Endurance + Fivefold Breath of Tiamat: Draconic Toughness gives you HP equal to your caster level with each use. This is excellent for using in the off-rounds when you can’t use your Fivefold Breath to help heal the damage taken from each use. Draconic Aura - Vigor will add on fast healing 4 whenever you’re below ½ hit points, giving you even more security. The Iron Heart Endurance maneuver from Tome of Battle is another way to build up HP in the off-rounds, and can be coupled with Draconic Toughness to almost totally offset the damage cost of Fivefold Breath.
Charm + Enthralling Voice + Beguiling Influence: Now you can Charm to make a creature friendly, make a Diplomacy check (DC 20) to make it helpful, then use Enthralling Voice to make it fanatical. This works well if you grab that auto-language learning feat (PHBII or Races of Destiny?) or go telepathic with a level of Mindbender. It also helps if you are a Changeling with the Rogue substitution level from Races of Eberron, a human with a level of Binder who binds Naberius, or a Half-Elf with the Sociable Personality feat, any of which will let you take 10 on Diplomacy checks in stressful situations and let you make them faster! This is the combo for you budding DFA Diplomancers out there - after all, why fight 'em when you can make them your friends?
Aura of Flame + Draconic Aura - Energy Shield: Aura of Flame is generally not the most impressive invocation, giving you a fire shield effect against non-reach and natural weapons that deals damage equal to your caster level. As SR applies, this becomes rather ineffective at higher levels. One way to synergize this effect, however, is to add on Draconic Aura - Energy Shield, which adds up to 8 more damage of an energy type of your choice (and makes it so that other characters within your aura also deal damage when hit). Could be useful if you’ve decided to make a melee variant of the Dragonfire Adept (though why you would is beyond me!). Really I should just erase this combo before it misleads some sorry sucker.
Frightful Presence + Frightful Presence: Two abilities with the same name? Well, yes - unfortunately, WoTC has been lax in naming the immense number of draconic-flavored feats, spells, and abilities they've been coming up with lately, which has resulted in a lot of repeat titles. The two abilities referred to here are an invocation and a feat from the Draconomicon. The invocation works as a swift action when you breathe, and the feat works whenever you attack (which, depending on your DM's ruling, your breath weapon may or may not count as). Now whenever you attack or breathe, enemies with equal or fewer HD are subject to two Will saves - if they fail one, they’re shaken; if they fail two, they’re frightened! This gets really ridiculous when combined with Entangling Exhalation or Slow Breath and Endure Elements - you breathe and everything starts running away . . . sloooooowly. Your party runs in to mop the hobbled enemies up while you continue breathing. Hordes of living critters become chowder.
Frightful Presence (invocation) + Dreadful Wrath + Terrifying Roar + Adoration of the Fearful: The last in that chain is a spell that comes from the Draconomicon and converts scared characters into friends. The spell can come from a clerical friend, or you can get it yourself if you're trying out an Eldritch Disciple build (see the Multiclassing section for more on them). A nice diplo-combo that allows you to choose between terrifying and manipulating crowds!
Flyby Attack/Greater Flyby Attack/Great Flyby Attack + Skirmish + Dragonfire Strike: An amazingly effective way to deliver skirmish hits is by air. In particular, Great Flyby Attack lets you hit a large number of targets on a single flying pass as well.
Weakening Breath + Sleep Breath: If you use your Weakening Breath, your target gets a -6 penalty to Strength for either 2 or 4 rounds. If you then use Sleep breath, your target either passes out for a round (yay - coup de’ gracie time ) or gets exhausted, laying on another -6 to Strength. This means laying both down puts your enemy in a sorry position: either rendered helpless or weak as a kitten. Hooray!
Weakening Breath + Draught of Gold Dragon Breath: Take that -6 penalty and add on another amount based on how your DM rules the Draught will work in your game. This can get silly, especially if you’re playing an ancient Dragonwrought kobold, who has an age category like all other dragons. A venerable Dragonwrought kobold would get an extra 9 points of Strength damage. Stack on Sleep Breath (as in the previous combo) and this gets pretty gross. Take a caster to 0 Strength in one round, or just make that big ugly into a mid-BaB fighter with a lousy Strength score.
Sickening/Sleep Breath + Escalating Enfeeblement: This one’s a great combo for parties that include arcane casters. Sickening breath or sleep breath will sicken or exhaust most targets, and escalating enfeeblement deals more strength penalty based on that. This is a good combo to unload on big, strong enemies to pull them down to the melee fighters’ level (and sometimes even make them weaker ).
Toughness + Roll With It: Gain DR 2/-. You need a Con of 20 to pull this off, so it works well on Con-heavy DFAs like Dragonborn Mongrelfolk. You can keep taking Roll With It, too, if you want to get even tougher.
Toughness + Troll-Blooded: A nasty combo from Dragon #XXX that allows you to get regeneration but renders you fatigued in sunlight. You may want to get the darkness invocation to keep yourself safe. Consider pairing this with Roll With It for REAL manly-toughness!
Quicken Spell-Like Ability + Rapid Breath + Recover Breath: Rapid Breath can lower your recharge rate by yet another round, since it is technically a different feat than Recover Breath! Yeah Savage Species! This is especially nice when you pair the two of them up to make a normally expensive (round-wise) metabreath feat like Quicken or Maximize FAR more reasonable.
Azurin + Shape Soulmeld – Dragon Mantle + Bonus Essentia: This combo is a nice one for serious dragon hunters. Azurins are just humans with a bonus point of essentia and no extra skill point. Dragon Mantle gives you a +2 enhancement bonus to Fortitude and energy resistance equal to 3 x essentia invested. This means that by 6th level, when you pick up Bonus Essentia, you can have ER 9 to fire, cold, electricity and acid – all of them! Better yet, the soulmeld specifically states that the ER STACKS with existing energy resistance, meaning that with the invocation energy resistance you can, at will, have ER 19 vs. one energy type and ER 9 vs. the others.
Power Surge + Clinging Breath + Lingering Breath + Quicken Breath + Maximize Breath + Fivefold Breath of Tiamat + Chilling Fog: This is just ridiculous. Here’s the shakedown – your first move is to lay a chilling fog on the baddies. Move two has you using a quickened, maximized, lingering, clinging, power surge Fivefold Breath. The enemies can’t run (chilling fog), so next round your damage will repeat. Without all the crazy items and things like the Breath of Syberis feat, that’s 45d6+45 maximized, which comes out to 315 damage. Throw on Shape Breath to make even the lines in the Fivefold Breath breath routine into cones, and maybe Enlarge Breath to get a little more distance, then kick back and watch your foes fry.
Dragonborn Breath Weapon + Quicken Breath + DFA Breath Weapon: This has a lot of advantages, and I like to think of it as the “double barrel” combo. The trick here is to use your two breath weapons for different reasons; you can lay down an entangling breath with your Dragonborn breath and then layer over a DFA breath for damage, add on an extra invocation – whatever you like.
HUMANOID SHAPE + SAVAGE SPECIES COMBOS and OTHER COMBO GOODIES
These combos are mostly based on some nice Savage Species feats that are available only to Huge critters.
Humanoid Shape + Hover + Power Attack + Wingstorm + Enlarge Person: Shift into Constrictor Naga form, use Enlarge Person, and whip up a storm with them wings of yours. Congrats on creating a hurricane strength wind effect! The trick is to use the version of the feat in Savage Species, since it doesn’t require you to be a dragon (though I think you could technically qualify based on your dragonblood subtype, since it doesn’t specify “true dragon”.
Humanoid Shape + Enlarge Person + Power Attack + Tempest Breath: This is another, simpler way to get the ability to create hurricane-force winds. Better yet, however, is the fact that this wind effect occurs IN ADDITION to your breath weapon's normal effect! YEP! You heard right! Blow your enemies away with MASSIVE wind effects AND napalm-like energy damage! RARH! Keep in mind that you don't even NEED to take the Tempest Breath or Power Attack feats to pick up this ability; for the low-low price of 10,000 gold you can get a Gorget of Tempest Breath and get this feat for FREE! DOUBLE RARH! Best of all, this cheap-ass item takes up the slot a ROBE normally occupies - and who wears a damn robe, I ask you? Please DO keep in mind, however, that this trick will NOT work if your DM rules that you cannot keep a breath weapon that results from class levels when you change shape, so don't assume this will work without checking into it first!
For those of you who are curious, here are the impressive effects of hurricane-force winds:
All flames are extinguished. Ranged attacks are impossible (except with siege weapons, which have a -8 penalty on attack rolls). Listen checks are impossible: All characters can hear is the roaring of the wind. Hurricane-force winds often fell trees.
HUGE creatures are Checked: Creatures are unable to move forward against the force of the wind. Flying creatures are blown b wrote:
All flames are extinguished. Ranged attacks are impossible (except with siege weapons, which have a -8 penalty on attack rolls). Listen checks are impossible: All characters can hear is the roaring of the wind. Hurricane-force winds often fell trees.
HUGE creatures are Checked: Creatures are unable to move forward against the force of the wind. Flying creatures are blown back 1d6
The Voice of the Dragon: This build revolves around using sonic and language-based attacks to create a character who speaks the ancient draconic words of power. Deafening Roar, Enthralling Voice, and Terrifying Roar are all sound-based, and Thunder Breath will allow you to further enhance your flavor. Good feat choices include Reverberation from Savage Species, which can increase the DC of any sonic-based attack you choose by another +2, stacking with Ability Focus.
The Nobbler: This is a top-notch battlefield control character. Use Chilling Fog to stop enemies dead and damage them, then throw down Slow Breath and Entangling Exhalation for any baddies lucky enough to escape your fog. Weakening + Sleep Breath is another fun combo for knocking out those big beefy enemies. If possible, be evil and use Fivefold Breath of Tiamat to blanket huge areas with your breath weapon, dealing massive damage to your crippled foes. Look to party with Aoo fighters and ranged casters, and revel in your ability to decimate crowds. Flight and Flyby attack will help guarantee that even should they eventually escape your invocations and breath effects, enemies will almost never be able to touch you.
The Sneak: The Sneak relies on invisibility and vision-clouding effects to avoid detection. Grab the Invisibility invocation and Voidsense. Now use an Eversmoking Bottle in combat to further ensure your enemies can’t find you, and you'll drive NPC enemies NUTS. Another very nice option is to pair Walk Unseen with Exhaled Barrier, to make an invisible “maze-layer” who confounds enemies and trips them up. To make you a more competent sneak, consider picking up the Darkstalker feat from Lords of Madness to ensure immune to discovery even by creatures with blindsense, blindsight, or scent. Finally, pick up the feat Guerilla Warrior from the Miniatures handbook to make Hide and Move Silently cost only one skill point per rank. Another option is a level of Rogue (take the feat Rogue variant from Unearthed Arcana) and the Able Learner feat, which allows you to treat Hide and Move Silenlty as class skills. Now you can sneak just as well as the best rogues, and whether invisible or hidden in a cloud of smoke you’ll almost never risk detection. Since all of this can be achieved by 6th level, you can multiclass with Rogue if you like - just be sure to grab Entangling Exhalation and Slow Breath so that even if you can’t deal sneak attack damage with it, your breath weapon retains its use as a de-buff and crowd control ability all the way ‘till 20th level.
The Scholar: This character taps into the ancestral knowledge of dragons to supply her party with all the scholarly support it could ever need. Pick up the invocation Draconic Knowledge and supplement it with the Draconic Knowledge feat. This allows you a total bonus of 6+Int+(# of Draconic feats) on every Knowledge check - and lets you make all Knowledge checks as though they’re trained. Good Draconic feats to improve this include Draconic Resistance (giving you energy reistance), Draconic Toughness (adding 2 HP for each Draconic feat), and Draconic Senses (giving you lowlight, darkvision, blindsense, and a bonus to Listen, Spot, and Search equal to the number of Draconic feats you have ). Another feat choice that really works with this concept is Draconic Aura - Insight, which adds up to another +4 to all Knowledge, Spellcraft, and Decipher Script checks. If you’re a Dragonwrought kobold and grab the ill-named Draconic Knowledge feat from the Draconomicon (yep, that’s 2 feats and one invocation with the same name, people!) you get the equivalent of a bardic knowledge check, too (though it does require your Int to be at least 19 - easier with a venerable Dragonwrought Kobold's +3 to Int, but still - yeesh!). If you don’t want to over-invest in Int, you can always be a gnome - the feat Trivial Knowledge from Races of Stone will let you re-roll your Knowledge checks! You can invest in Knowledge skills as well if you like, but your bonus will be enough that you can also choose to use them untrained and be incredibly effective. Keep your Decipher Script level maxed and your party will never want for a Bard!
The Lord of Terror: This character likes to scare his prey. Take the Frightful Presence invocation and couple it with the Dreadful Wrath feat from the Player's Guide to Faerun. Now take the Terrifying Roar invocation. When you roar, your enemies now have to make THREE SAVES: once vs. Dreadful Wrath, once vs. the Frightful Presence feat, once vs. the Frightful Presence invocation, and once vs. Terrifying Roar! Terrifying Roar guarantees that enemies with fewer HD are auto-shaken, and if they fail their save are panicked. If they fail against Frightful Presence, they'll be frightened, and if they fail against Dreadful Wrath, panicked. For flavor reasons, Baleful Geas is a nice choice as well; if it has a casting time of a standard action (DM's call - see the Invocation section for more details on this), it will be incredibly effective as well! When building this character, be sure to show the text of Dreadful Wrath, Frightful Presence, and the Frightful Presence feat from the Draconomicon to your DM and ask if the effects will apply when you use your breath weapon in his or her game. Some DMs may allow it, which will make your character truly a force to be feared!
The Scout: This build focuses on being the party’s eyes and ears, alerting them to danger and dealing with it quickly. Flight is a must, and Improved Speed or Air Heritage and a Pectoral of Maneuverability will make you very fast at 6th level (until you pick up Greater Draconic Flight later on). Make sure to max Spot and Listen ranks, and pick up Draconic Aura - Senses to improve your already impressive sensory abilities (another +4 to each will make you nearly impossible to fool). See the Unseen and Voidsense will allow you to elude detection yourself, allowing you to scout ahead and return with invaluable information on upcoming threats. Draconic Senses will add a +1 to Listen, Spot, and Search checks per Draconic feat, which can add up quickly if you’re investing heavily there, and gives you Blindsense if you have 4 total Draconic feats (which saves you the need to pick up Voidsense as an invocation). Quick Recconoiter from Complete Adventurer will add another +2 to your initiative and also allow you to make Listen and Spot checks as free actions every round. If you multiclass with Rogue or Scout, you can also grab trapfinding so that you cover all your party’s sensory needs.
The Manipulator: This is the Dragonfire Adept version of the Diplomancer, a character who is persuasive, suave, and able to charm the pants off even the most ferocious opponent. Use Beguiling Influence to up your social skills, and couple this with the Charm/Enthralling Voice combo from the previous section. Consider taking a level of Mindbender to grab telepathy, so that you can command a charmed vassal more effectively and communicate with any opponent, regardless of language barriers. Being a Half-Elf also has benefits, as it lets you pick up Sociable Personality from Races of Destiny so that you can re-roll your Diplomacy checks; alternatively, you can take 10 on Diplomacy checks by being a Changeling and taking the Rogue substitution level from Races of Eberron or by being a human and taking a one-level dip into Binder (for Naberius, who grants you skill mastery with Diplomacy). A single level of Marshal doubles your Cha bonus to social skills and gets you Skill Focus - Diplomacy. Another good single-level dip is Exemplar, which allows you to take 10 on a surprisingly large number of skills (and lets you add a +4 bonus to one of them).
The Spy: This character uses the illusory abilities of his draconic ancestry to impersonate others. Humanoid Shape and Perilous Veil will let you and your party, respectively, impersonate nearly anything. Beguiling Influence and Enthralling Voice will help you in being convincing in your roles. Charm never hurts. Be a Changeling with a Hat of Disguise and you can be shifted into a more combat-savvy shape without ever looking freakish, and you'll be able to impersonate your friend's dad so you can talk smack about how good his mom was last night and MEAN it. Ultimately, this is a variant of the manipulator build, above.
The One-Man Party: This is a DFA designed to handle all of a party’s needs. A human with a one-level dip into Rogue and the Able Learner feat, this character can search for traps, disable them, and open locks. The Draconic Knowledge aura and invocation plus max ranks into the Decipher Script skill allow him to perform the function of a Bard as well, reading all the ancient texts a party comes across and knowing whatever random bits of knowledge the party needs access to. A decent Charisma, the Beguiling Influence and Charm invocations, and max ranks in Bluff, Diplomacy, and Gather Information make him a brilliant party face, able to convince almost anyone to put their weapons down and chat instead of fighting. Wands of Lesser Vigor and Cure Light Wounds allow him to play party healer, granting both in-combat and out-of-combat healing to all who need it. Spot and Listen ranks, See the Unseen, Voidsense, and Walk Unseen make him an incredible party scout, able to detect nearly anything and stay ahead of the party without risking too much. Entangling Exhalation, Slow Breath, Endure Elements, and Chilling Fog make him an excellent battlefield control caster, able to lock the opposition down without hindering his companions and keep casters, ranged warriors, and melee monsters alike at bay. The only role a DFA who multi-tasks like this has trouble covering is the melee tank role - apart from that, he’s the one-man party: capable of doing just about anything well and covering all the bases.
The Heir of Syberis: This Dragonfire Adept is an Eberron-specific, draconic-flavored masterpiece. 12 levels of Dragonfire Adept start the class off, with only one feat constraint - Heroic Spirit must be one of the character's feats. 13th level should be taken in the Heir of Syberis class, granting an extra spell-like ability usable once per day. 14th through 16th levels should be in DFA, again. At 15th level this character grabs Breath of Syberis, adding a whopping 2d6 to his breath weapon damage. At 16th, he has access to Fivefold Breath of Tiamat, which now, instead of dealing a maximum of 9d6 x 5 = 45d6 damage, deals a phenomenal 11d6 x 5 = 55d6 damage! After 16th level you can choose how you want to finish your build - two more levels of Heir of Syberis won't do any harm (it will advance your invocations and breath damage, after all), and of course a couple of Warblade levels can give you some nice defensive maneuvers (including Iron Heart Endurance for offsetting the HP cost of your Fivefold Breath). 18th level grants you yet another feat, which can be anything you like - Mark of Stars is a nice finisher to make your build complete, but you might want to grab Dragonmark Spellturning so you can deflect up to 7th level spells back at their caster. For a high-level build, this one's hard to beat - it's tough, it's strong, and the breath weapon is positively nuclear.
The following list is by no means exhaustive, and there are many options for the enterprising optimizer that are out there. Some can be found posted on the old thread, here. I have compiled this list as a set of suggestions rather than a proscriptive list of specific builds, and they should be viewed as such.
First, some words on multiclassing and PrCs as they apply to Dragonfire Adepts. As I’ve mentioned, the Dragonfire Adept is, in general, a class that rewards solid investment. It is a base class that is playable to 20th level without modification, and as such is, for the most part, more powerful without major multiclassing than with it. The major drawback to multiclassing and PrCs is that even though invocation-casting and breath-weapon damage can be improved by classes that provide “+1 level of spellcasting” or “+1 level of previous arcane spellcasting class,” they do NOT provide breath effects - the heart and soul of the effective DFA.
With that said, there are certain levels that do bear mentioning as “break-points” of a sort:
DFA 1 or 2: With only a single level in DFA, you’ve got Dragontouched as a bonus feat, the ability to use Entangling Exhalation, and a single invocation (See the Unseen and Magical Insight stand out as excellent choices). This can be a good dip for a character planning on a prestige class that requires the dragonblood subtype (Hand of the Winged Masters, Dragon Descendant, etc.). Level 2 gets you yet another invocation and a +2 to natural armor. Many characters will be able to get a lot out of these two levels, and it bears consideration for anyone doing a build that could benefit from the Dragonfire Adept's early advantages.
DFA 5: This allows you to pick up one of the truly effective breath effects such as Weakening Breath or Slow Breath, and is a decent investment if you’re planning to focus mainly on invocations by going into a 10 level “+1 caster level” class.
DFA 6: This grants you the use of one of the lesser invocations, some of which may be worth it. Once you’ve hit 6th level in DFA, however, other classes start to have diminishing returns when compared to investing more in DFA.
DFA 10: This is where your breath weapon’s range effectively doubles - a very important issue. Worth it.
DFA 15: Once you hit 15th level, you get your first of the highest tier of breath effects and can use the impressive Fivefold Breath of Tiamat. After this you could, if you chose, go into a “+1 caster level” class and not lose too much in the way of overall utility.
DFA 18: There is quite a bit to be gained by many 2 level dips: 2 levels of Rogue with Able Learner can make you a skill monkey as well as battlefield control caster, 2 levels of Totemist can improve your armor and mobility, 2 levels of Warblade at 19th and 20th can help you heal and resist enemy attacks, etc. 20th level does give you a final breath effect, which can be handy, but ultimately you have to weigh that extra effect against some of the other impressive abilities available from other classes. By 18th level you already have access to the last of your dark invocations, so the only thing you lose is immunity to paralysis and sleep (19th level ability) and the final breath effect mentioned above.
Without any further ado, here’s the list of some of the interesting dips and PrCs for Dragonfire Adept builds:
Changeling Rogue Substitution levels (1st) (Races of Eberron): This one is an interesting choice that has recently been pointed out. You can grab this to get mastery in social skills, and use the impressive array of social abilities available to a Changeling to make a very social Dragonfire Adept.
Binder (Tome of Magic): A single level of Binder can get you access to Naberius, granting you the ability to auto-heal attribute damage and mastery with Diplomacy and Bluff - very nice for social builds. Add on the Improved Binding feat and you'll be able to pick up some other fun ones, such as Dahlver-Nahr for half of your Constitution modifier to AC and Malphas for invisibility. Too many levels, however, isn't necessarily the best idea, as you'd be better off single classed in either Binder or DFA than heavily dipping in both.
Daggerspell Mage (Complete Adventurer): This one doesn't synergize well with the DFA, but you can get into it.
Paladin (PHB) or Hexblade (Complete Warrior): Neither of these is something to write home about as anything more than 2 level dip, but as a 2 level dip they can EXCEL. If you're playing a Cha-heavy DFA, 2 levels of Paladin means you Cha mod added to your saves - something you will ALWAYS appreciate! 2 levels of Hexblade grants you a crappy curse ability, but far more importantly your Cha mod on saves against spells and spell-like effects. Third level of Hexblade grants you the Fort and Will save equivalent of Evasion - the ability to ignore the "1/2 effect" result experienced by characters who succeed on certain saves: Mettle. Past third is a waste, as is past second on a Paladin, but if you need a desperate defense boost, you may want to consider these options.
Warshaper (Complete Warrior): A strange but potentially gratifying class for Changeling, Tibbit, Hengeyokai, or even Shifter DFAs, Warshaper can grant your DFA a +4 to Strength and Con, fast healing, natural weapons, reach, and immunity to critical hits. Of course, it does retard the progress of your invocations and breath, so it may not be the best of choices. Still, an interesting option!
Barbarian: Even if you're not a big combat guy, the +4 Con from a rage can help your breath weapon out, and speed is always nice for keeping out of the clutches of entangled baddies. Still, by no means a lock, and you should NEVER put in more than one level (unless you're making a mostly melee build with only a couple of DFA levels for flavor).
Paragon Classes: If it grants you a +2 to Con or Charisma and grants at least 2 increases in your invocation level, I MIGHT consider it. Maybe. Probably not.
Chameleon (Races of Destiny): It's been pointed out that you can get into this using a Changeling, but the DFA is not the best class for a Chameleon build and the overall effect will be questionable. Though you can pick up a bunch of arcane spells to blow on breath-weapon effects, your base breath weapon will be pretty pathetic. I'd rather play a straight Chameleon build or a straight DFA, myself, but if this toots your horn, go for it.
Maester (Complete Adventurer): Yep, you can be a draconic gnomish crafter - weird, but possible! Kind of pointless, since you don't get access to most of the spells that would make you a worthwhile magical smith.
Virtuoso (Complete Adventurer): Bizarre. If you can get yourself Perform as a class skill, you can get into this PrC at level 8, and end up a very persuasive Draconic sort. You could even use this as a springboard for a Dragonsong Lyrist from the Draconomicon.
Acolyte of the Skin (Complete Arcane): This sucks, but you can get into it. If you want a Fiendish-flavored DFA, this does do the trick, but the abilities you gain for giving up ½ your caster levels aren’t worth the investment.
Blood Magus (Complete Arcane): Most of these abilities don't help an invocation user.
Enlightened Fist (Complete Arcane): Though this monk-flavored class gives you once-every-other level caster progression, almost all of its abilities rely on spells to work, making it a pretty worthless class for a DFA. If you want a draconic-flavored monk, the Dragon Descendant from Dragon Magic is better.
Green Star Adept (Complete Arcane): This could be interesting, actually - this class lets you turn yourself into a construct and gain some neat abilities. The big question here is what happens to your breath weapon’s DC when you turn into a construct and lose your Con score - does it change to be based on Charisma, or do you just lose the DC boost? If your DM rules the latter, give this class a miss. If he rules the former, then the class can provide a way for you to get both your breath and invocations based on the same ability - Charisma. Ultimately this is more of a melee combat class, which isn’t really what a DFA is all about, but it could provide an interesting build if you designed with it in mind.
Wild Mage (Complete Arcane): Works, but not all that impressive. Once again you’ve got a class designed for spellcasters that has limited use for an invocation user. Not worth giving up breath effects for, methinks.
Evangelist (Complete Divine): Doesn't improve caster levels, but amplifies some of the more impressive social aspects of the DFA's abilities for a very charismatic character. Think "uber Diplomancer."
Ur-Priest (Complete Divine): You can get into this after 5 levels of DFA, then go into Eldritch Disciple. You'd have to take the non-blast divine gifts, of course, but it could still be a very entertaining character. Especially nice as it can allow you to get 9th level spellcasting by level 20 in addition to keeping your invocations effective.
Dragonslayer (Draconomicon): This improves your casting capacity along with full BAB. Still, not the best since it has alternate casting levels. If you really wanted an invocation-using combat character this might work, but a regular DFA would still kick your kiester.
Platinum Knight (Draconomicon): A lousy fighter-style class, but it fits the flavor bill. Alternate casting levels do help out a bit.
Talon of Tiamat (Draconomicon): This one has potential. Still not perfect, but very flavorful and cool - and the abilities suit the DFA. The Talon’s breath weapons can help augment your own.
Unholy Abomination (Dragon Magazine #313): A three level class for Aberrations that requires you to have 8 ranks in Knowledge (religion), a supernatural ability usable at least 3 times per day (like your breath weapon!), and the Power Surge feat (from the same issue - see the DFA Handbook Update for more details on this). Play a Half-Daelkyr from Magic of Eberron or an Elan from the Expanded Psionics Handbook and you can get into this class after 5th level. Why would you want to? Because it grants you a +1 to all checks at 1st level, the ability to shoot a 60 foot ray (three times per day) that deals 2 negative levels at 2nd, and gives you a stenchy aura that renders foes within 60 ft. shaken and damages their strength if they stand adjacent to you. Stack with the Troglodyte's stench aura from Humanoid Shape and be a grotesque follower of an evil god. Good stuff.
Scar Enforcer (Races of Destiny): You can do this as a half-elf. Why you would want to eludes me.
Sand Shaper (Sandstorm): You lose the major benefit of this class, which is the knowledge of a bunch more spells. Other than that, it offers little to a DFA.
Scion of Tem-et-Nu (Sandstorm): Hmmm. Weird, but kind of cool. Sort of a "river serpent" feel. This will make you a more effective fighter while still giving you every-other-level casting increases. Still sub-par when compared to a single-classed DFA, though.
Disciple of Asmodeus (Book of Vile Deeds): For an "evil devil dragon" feel. Alternate caster levels, but adds on the aspect of summoning. Like most all of these classes, still "meh."
Tainted Scholar (Heroes of Horror): It's arguable whether you can get into this class (it does say "warlock" in the req line), but most DMs should allow it. Okay if you’re using taint rules, but still sub-par when compared to a regular DFA.
Dragon Samurai (Miniatures Handbook): Weirdly, you can add the class level in d8s of damage to your breath weapon once per day. Interesting on a half-dragon, perhaps, but less so on a DFA. The once/day limitation makes what could have been an optimizable ability worthless, and you don't get increases to your casting ability.
Doomlord (Planar Handbook): A once-every-other level spellcasting class, but could be flavorful. Still sub-par overall.
Visionary Seeker (Planar Handbook): Okay - once again, a weird choice.
Urban Savant (Cityscape): A city-oriented full casting class with some flavor-based abilities related to urban life. Worth giving up breath effects for? I think not.
Mindbender (Complete Arcane): If you grab the Charm invocation, a one-level dip into this will give you telepathy, enabling you to grab the Mindsight feat from Lords of Madness (like Blindsense with a range equal to your telepathy range for creatures with readable brains) and letting you ensure that you can charm anything with a brain that’s subject to mind-affecting effects. Nice.
Marshal (Miniatures Handbook): One level doubles your Cha bonus to Cha-based skills and checks - very handy - in addition to adding Skill Focus (Diplomacy). Excellent on persuasive builds. A second level can get you a free Draconic aura as well.
Exemplar (Complete Adventurer): Skill Mastery is always great, as is a +4 unnamed bonus to a skill. If you’re going with a skill-focused build, this may be worth it.
Dragon Devotee (Races of the Dragon): This can be a decent choice for a Rogue or Scout multiclasser, adding Con, Cha, and some sneak attack dice.
Dragon Descendant (Dragon Magic): For a character with Monk levels, this is a great PrC. If you grab Entangling Exhalation, your breath weapon will stay useful ‘till later levels, and the Dragon Descendant’s abilities will make you able to do some very impressive stuff. The 10th level ability allows you to get the effect of Karmic Strike and Defensive Throw combined, plus technically stacks with those feats - very sexy. This class really deserves its own thread, so I’ll leave it at that - check it out if you’re curious.
Eldritch Disciple (Complete Mage): Though designed for Warlocks, you can get into this class with a Dragonfire Adept and do some very interesting things. Worth checking out - divine casting plus breath weapons and invocations can be loads of fun. One of the best options for hopping into this class is the Ur-Priest (in both the Book of Vile Deeds and Complete Divine), which can get you 9th level divine casting to supplement your invocations. Unfortunately, RAW prevents you from using some of the classes’ abilities, forcing you to choose non-breath oriented options. This is not one for a heavy breather, but rather for a draconically-flavored divine caster.
Unseen Seer (Complete Mage): With one level of Beguiler, the Able Learner feat, and 4 levels of DFA you can get into the Unseen Seer class, a 10 level PrC that will increase your invocation-use and grant you 4d6 sneak attack or skirmish dice (your choice). This can add up to create some fun, mobile possibilities for a DFA, but you’ll miss out on some of the better breath weapon effects; moreover, sneak attack and skirmish won't add to your breath weapon, since it doesn't require an attack roll. All in all, this class is decent but not optimal.
Incarnum Classes: The value of a Totemist with the ability to bind soulmelds to the Totem chakra includes the use of a Blink Shirt, which can make your move action each round guaranteed not to provoke an Attack of Opportunity. Incarnates can add valuable skill bonuses and even some nice concealment from melds like the Fellmist Robe. Ultimately any more than about a two-level dip, however, is an over-investment.
Rogue, Scout, and similar classes: There are too many options to list. Check the Sneak build in the Builds section, below, for details. Of particular interest is the Able Learner feat, which can turn a human DFA with a one or two level dip into a skill monkey as well as the party’s battlefield control caster, party face, and scholar.
Martial Adept Classes: Entangling Exhalation can be an incredible addition to an Aoo battlefield control fighter who uses abilities like Thicket of Blades and feats like Knockback or Stand Still. Consider Crusader or Warblade as a combo class. Also of note are abilities like Iron Heart Endurance, which can grant a DFA the healing he or she needs to offset the damage dealt by Fivefold Breath. As a two-level dip for 19th and 20th levels, this can be a good choice to finish off a human DFA.
Warlock PrCs: Almost any PrC a Warlock can get into a Dragonfire Adept can get into. It’s important to note, however, that a Dragonfire Adept’s power often stems from his breath effects, not his invocations, making many casting-level PrCs a bad choice. Be careful, here.
Finally, a note on setting specific PrCs from Eberron:
Nosomatic Chirurgeon (Dragonmarked): An interesting option for Eberron halflings, the Nosomatic Chirurgeon requires 8 ranks in heal (which means taking at least one level in some other class) and a Least Dragonmark (or a level in the Heir of Syberis class). The first level, however, in addition to increasing your invocations and breath damage, allows you to convert any of your invocations into an Inflict spell of the same level. This means that by using a Dark invocation you can auto-cast Inflict Critical Wounds, Mass. Further, the text specifically states that the energy created by this ability is NOT negative, meaning it won't heal undead - or in other words, it will hurt them! If you grab the Maximize Spell feat and the Mastery of Night and Day feat from the Player's Guide to Eberron, then any inflict spell you cast will be automatically maximized. Not a bad choice for supplemental damage, but it will lose out to Fivefold Breath when you pick it up. It can also be worth it if you're interested in getting into a class that requires you to be able to "cast spells" of a given level - technically, by RAW, your converted invocations count. Finally, if you have Magic of Eberron and are interested, you can grab Dragon Prophesier and Prophecy's Shepherd to be able to quicken one inflict spell per round. This would let you breathe and inflict mass wounds every round in addition to a move, which, while not perfect, is still pretty slick.
Heir of Syberis (Eberron): See the builds section for more on why this ISN'T as worthless as it seems. The bottom line, however, is that you DON'T want to take this class unless you have access to the Dragonmarked supplement. If you DO, however, you can pull of some pretty snazzy tricks.
Escalation Mage (Magic of Eberron): This is an interesting finisher for a Dragonfire Adept. It works better, in general, for Warlocks, but it has potential on a Dragonfire Adept as well. This increases your caster level with each level, and also provides you with some extra Charisma-based HP. The big kicker, though, are the "escalations," which can let you Heighten, Quicken, Empower, or Widen any of your spell-like abilities three times per day. Empower won't help you much, but Quicken and Widen can be snazzy. Widening a Solid Fog is pretty slick (especially if you're wearing a Ring of Freedom of Movement), and Quickening just about any invocation that doesn't have a 24 hour duration can come in pretty handy.
Renegade Mastermaker (Magic of Eberron): This is a weird one. You need Craft Wondrous and Craft Magic Arms and Armor to get in, and you'll have to use magic items to get the spells you need to craft things. It's almost tempting to pick up a level of Artificer and Able Learner before doing this. The bottom line is you'll come out the other end of this PrC as a sort of mechanized dragon - very strange.
This is just a very short list of some of the things a Dragonfire Adept migh be interested in adding to his hoard. I'm leaving out the items of more general use (Bags of Holding, Handy Haversacks, Cloaks of Resistance, etc.), since they are not specifically of interest to DFAs. Please feel free to post ideas if they come up!
Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis: Are you sneaky? This may be the item for you! It gives you hide in plain sight, a big fat bonus to hide and move silently, and even a +10 ft. bonus to speed – all very cool. Plus it makes you look shadowy and incorporeal, which is a nice side effect. The cheap version is 3/day, but the expensive option (22,000 gold) is continuous – very nice.
Grafts - Draconic and Other: Any magic item that doesn't take a slot is a good magic item, says I! Draconic grafts are especially fun for a DFA, but all of these items are a good time. Graft it up and enjoy! Look for these in the Fiend Folio, Magic of Eberron, Libris Mortis, Lords of Madness, and Races of the Dragon. In particular, look for grafts that grant you inherent attribute bonuses (there are some legs out there that give you Con, which is super handy on a DFA).
Gorget of Tempest Breath: Normally not something that helps, this becomes VERY useful when you can manage to increase in size. When you shape into a Large or Huge shape (or even a Gargantuan one with Enlarge Person!) under the influences of the Humanoid Shape invocation, however, this item can truly shine, allowing you to level hideous wind effects on your enemies whilst dealing serious damage. This depends, of course, on your DM's ruling on the "do breath weapons from class levels stay with you when you change shape" question, but should work. This puppy is a STEAL at 10 grand if your DM is reasonable, and I highly suggest you grab one!
Tempo Bloodspike (Magic of Eberron): Basically a hypodermic needle that you can plug yourself with to grant an extra move action during a round of your choice once within an hour of injection. This can be very handy - especially on a high-speed flight-based DFA.
Eversmoking Bottle (DMG): When paired with Blindsense, this lets you breathe on your enemies without letting them figure out where you are. A perfect defense for just 5,000 gold. The only problem is making sure you don't **** your blind teammates off too much.
Pectoral of Maneuverability (Draconomicon): For 12,000 gold, this item from the Draconomicon improves your flight maneuverability by a step. Worth it when you’ve only got Draconic Flight to rely on, as it saves you a feat.
Draught of Metabreath Magic (Draconomicon): These come in a bunch of different flavors and can make you a very scary (and adaptable ) opponent. Rebuking breath potions can make you the bane of undead. Admixture and substitution potions can make you deal obscene amounts of damage (especially when paired with Fivefold breath - yowsa!). Ethereal breath takes out pesky incorporeal opponents, and stunning/greater stunning adds to your already silly battlefield control capabilities. Enervating breath is just unfair, giving negative levels to your targets. All the gold you would spend normally on buying a weapon should go into these potions (or Draughts of Metallic Dragon Breath - see below).
Draught of Metallic Dragon Breath (Draconomicon): This can let you breathe paralyzing, sleep, weakening, repulsion, or slow breath. This becomes HUGE when used in combination with your personal breath effects Given that the effect on your personal breath weapon depends on your “age category” as a dragon, it’s not necessarily clear how this would work with a non-dragon with a breath weapon. There’s some text about how it works in combination with potions of dragon breath that says the effect is based on caster level - if this is what would determine the magnitude of the effect on a Dragonfire Adept’s breath weapon, the possibilities are impressive!
Wands of Metabreath Spells (Draconomicon): So many possibilities . . . In particular, wands of admixture become a very nice way of doubling your damage at later levels (though they will cost a pretty penny!). At low levels, go for things like Breath Flare if you like. You could even try grabbing Double Wand Wielder from Complete Arcane to slap on two separate Metabreath spells onto the same exhalation, though you'll tear through those charges quite quickly (expensive!).
Rod of Many Wands (Complete Arcane): Oh . . . my . . . gawd. This is where the DF Adept starts to get really, really silly. Throw three nice Metabreath Spell wands in here and go to town. Enervation, Admixture, and maybe Dispelling or Greater Stunning Breath are all fun possibilities. This is the equivalent of a tac-nuke when paired with Fivefold Breath. Youch.
Darkwood Shield + Mithral Shirt (DMG): One of the best low-level tricks a Dragonfire Adept has is wearing armor. A darkwood shield costs a mere 257 gold, grants a +2 to AC, and has no armor check penalty. A mithral shirt offers a +4 armor bonus and no check penalty for 1,100 gold. Both are incredibly light, and thus easy for a weak DFA to tote, and the combined spell failure chance is only 20% - not bad, and since many of your abilities won’t be affected by this, not that worrisome. When paired with the natural armor from Scales, this can make your DFA a quite defensive character.
Spell-Failure Reducing Armors (Races of the Wild): These include Thistledown Suits (RotW; reduces ASF by 5% for only 250 gold), Leafweave Armor (RotW; reduces ASF by 5% in leathery armor for +740 gold), Wildwood Armor (RotW; reduces ASF by 5% in metal armor for minor gold - depends on armor type), and probably some others I haven’t thought of. Ultimately you’ll want to wear armor as a DFA, but what kind depends a lot on your tactics in combat. Past 15th level, you’ll want to cast Draconic Toughness once in a while to
Defending Weapon (DMG): As a DFA doesn’t usually use a weapon to attack, a Defending Weapon can allow you to boost your AC impressively. This, of course, if for DFAs who don’t usually hold a wand in their main hand.
Wand Bracer (Dungeonscape): This one’s from Dungeonscape, and basically lets you quickdraw wands without any need for a rank in Sleight of Hand or an otherwise worthless feat. Cheap, too – around 300 gold! Great for wand-slingers, so yay.
Dragon Spirit Cincture (Magic Item Compendium): This has become a new staple for DFAs. A belt-slot item that adds +1d6 to breath weapon damage AND +1 to your breath weapon's DC (if you’ve got a weapon that deals energy damage of the same kind as your breath weapon). Not bad for two grand, says I!
Energy Crystal, Least (Magic Item Compendium): The easiest and cheapest way to get your weapon to deal energy damage, triggering your cincture’s bonus. Cost is a meager 600 gold, so it's easy to buy several and plant them in small, light weapons like daggers, allowing you to draw whichever is appropriate to the foe you're facing to trigger your Dragon Spirit Cincture.
Crown of the North Winds (Dragons of Faerun): This is an item from Dragons of Faerun that allows dragons to modify their breath weapon into any metallic dragon breath with an effect dependent on age category. Put one of these bad boys on a Dragonwrought kobold and go to town with the equivalent of the breath weapon of metallic great wyrms! Fire breath can become sleep gas or weakening breath (as a brass or gold dragon, respectively), acid can grant you slow breath (as a copper dragon), lightning repulsion gas (as a bronze), and cold will nab you paralyzing breath (as silver). Really this is kind of sick, and very impressive; what's more, at 70 grand it's quite affordable at mid to late game. The flavor text does imply that users should be down with Bahamut, but an evil dragon could still use it (but might have to spend a lot of spare time toasty-roasting Bahamut's pawns - oh well!).
Schemas (Magic of Eberron): From Magic of Eberron, these are use/day magical items that can contain any spell. Super good if you can find these and carry a bunch around – especially with Metamagic Spell Trigger to amplify them. Great for buff spells! A particularly nice choice for DFAs interested in using soulmelds from Magic of Incarum is Open Least Chakra, which can allow you to milk your Shape Soulmeld feat for a second benefit. For more on soulmelds and DFAs, see the Dragonfire Handbook Update - The Second!
Fearsome Armor (Magic Item Compendium): For 15 grand this armor lets you project a 20 foot radius of fear for a round, making enemies automatically shaken - panicked if they fail a DC 16 Will save. It's not much for such a massive monetary investment, true, but when you pair it up with class-based fear abilities the effect can end up supplementing and enhancing a terror-inducing build.
Wand Chamber (Dungeonscape): This is another wand-slinger wonder, especially useful when you're using the Dragonspirit Cincture + Least Energy Crystal combo. This is a super-cheap weapon modification which lets you store - and use - a wand in your weapon's hilt, which means you can hold a weapon to enhance your breath weapon and be able to zap away with wand powers without having to worry about re-sheathing. Especially important if you're using metabreath feats, since they mean you can't use your breath for a couple of rounds and will need something to do in the interim.
1st LEVEL WANDS OF CHOICE FOR THE DISCERNING DFA
This section began with some random thoughts on my part as to what I could do with my actions while my breath cannon recharged. The thought was simple - what cheap 1st level wands could I sock away that would be useful in combat? I then added on a little section of decent supplemental and utility wands for a bit more. Enjoy!
Glitterdust: For blinding and illuminating invisible creatures I spot with See the Unseen. Of course, since Glitterdust is a 2nd level spell, I might as well go for Faerie Fire instead (for the utility of lighting up those pesky unseen brats).
Entangle: Only really worth it outside, and this IS going to be a dungeon crawl campaign. Oh well!
Grease: Arguably the ultimate in 1st level ownage when paired with Entangling Exhalation. Their Reflex save is crippled due to the penalty on their Dex, they’ll have a hell of a time making the balance check as well, and even if they DO pull it all off they can only move at ¼ their normal rate! On a 30 ft. speed creature, this equates to a lovely nobbling 5 ft. per round – which means they are guaranteed to be unable to escape without two rounds of effort! The other nice piece is the ability to grease up clerical holy symbols, weapons, shields, and other held objects. Hell, it does say one object – what about greasing boots?
Power Word – Pain: Hooo boy. 4d4 rounds of 1d6/round damage is a nice way to stack on the duration-based hurt. Nobble them with a nice entangling exhalation and then lay one of these on them and . . . walk away. Little better range than flasks of oil, too, and you don’t have to make the ranged touch attack. I like!
Ray of Enfeeblement: What a great spell. Always handy to make your enemies weaker. Almost enough to make me interested in Weakening Breath + Escalating Enfeeblement . . . almost. NOTHING beats out slow breath – limiting enemy actions is the name of the damn game!
Resinous Tar: Complete Mage FTW! The natural complement to Grease, this makes movement count double in the affected square. Lay this down in front of approaching enemies in a hall and watch them try gamely to slog through.
Impeding Stones: Grease and Resinous Tar move OVER! 40 ft. spread of stones turn into difficult terrain. Total mobility destruction. This is the city version of Entangle, and if you had a wand of each kind you’d never be caught off-guard. Better yet, it lasts a minute per level, foes in the area suffer a -2 to attack (stack THAT with your exhalation penalties!), foes in the area have to succeed on concentration checks to cast (DC 15+spell level – once again, stack with entangling effects for total caster-lock!), and every damn round they’re in the effect they have to make their choice of a Reflex or Balance check to remain upright! Holy ever-loving CRAP – 1st level OWNAGE!
Enlarge Person: Cast this when you’re in Constrictor Naga form to become Gargantuan. Now THAT’S the way to make Wingstorm WORK!
Lesser Vigor: The best out of combat healing option there is. 11 HP healed in 11 rounds with a single charge will make you the party's de facto healer - just make sure they contribute to the wand fund.
Protection From Evil: +2 to saves and AC against evil, AND, more importantly, immunity to possession and control. Add on that summons can't touch you and you've got an ultimate buff - and all for just 750 gold. Pow.
Shield: A +4 shield bonus to AC that prevents magic missiles? Hell yes. Great buff if you don't mind pre-buffing occasionally.
Mage Armor: If you're hurting for encumbrance, this is a good choice for you. Use with abandon, since it lasts an hour.
Silence: This is a great spell. Use it and you won’t have to make Move Silently checks, which for a sneaky DFA means fewer worries about spell resistance! Best of all, since your invocations only have a somatic component, silence won’t interfere with them whatsoever! Granted, you won’t be able to talk, but hey – talking’s over-rated – kick some butt without making a sound!
The invocation “Humanoid Shape” allows to assume a different form with the humanoid type as with the “change shape” ability:
CHANGE SHAPE ABILITY
A creature with this special quality has the ability to assume the appearance of a specific creature or type of creature (usually a humanoid), but retains most of its own physical qualities. A true seeing spell or ability reveals the creature’s natural form. A creature using change shape reverts to its natural form when killed, but separated body parts retain their shape. A creature cannot use change shape to take the form of a creature with a template. Changing shape results in the following changes to the creature:
The creature retains the type and subtype of its original form. It gains the size of its new form.
The creature loses the natural weapons and movement modes of its original form, as well as any extraordinary special attacks of its original form not derived from class levels (such as the barbarian’s rage class feature).
The creature gains the natural weapons, movement modes, and extraordinary special attacks of its new form.
The creature retains all other special attacks and qualities of its original form, except for breath weapons and gaze attacks.
The creature retains the ability scores of its original form.
Except as described elsewhere, the creature retains all other game statistics of its original form, including (but not necessarily limited to) HD, hit points, skill ranks, feats, base attack bonus, and base save bonuses.
The creature retains any spellcasting ability it had in its original form, although it must be able to speak intelligibly to cast spells with verbal components and it must have humanlike hands to cast spells with somatic components.
The creature is effectively camouflaged as a creature of its new form, and gains a +10 bonus on Disguise checks if it uses this ability to create a disguise.
Any gear worn or carried by the creature that can’t be worn or carried in its new form instead falls to the ground in its space. If the creature changes size, any gear it wears or carries that can be worn or carried in its new form changes size to match the new size. (Nonhumanoid-shaped creatures can’t wear armor designed for humanoid-shaped creatures, and viceversa.) Gear returns to normal size if dropped.
A few things to note about change shape as it applies to Dragonfire Adepts. First off, the emphasis on the loss of breath weapon when changing shape was mine. Though the ability seems to be absolute, there is an argument - a very convincing one, in fact - that suggests that you would keep your breath weapon. Simply put, your breath weapon, unlike the breath weapons of other creatures, is not an emergent property of your form; instead, it is a class ability derived from your levels of Dragonfire Adept, and as such should be retained (in the same way your invocations, scales, and other class features would be). Ultimately, though, your DM will have a way to prevent breath weapon use if he or she wants to, so be careful before choosing to make a DFA with Humanoid Shape.
Though you can’t grab a big Strength score from changing form, you also don’t lose your Constitution, meaning that your breath weapon’s DC won’t be hurt by shifting. The big things to look for in a shape are therefore natural weapons, extraordinary special attacks, movement modes, and size. Since DFAs are not generally going to be melee monsters, natural weapons won’t be the most useful ability. The two big things to look for in shifted form are therefore movement modes and extraordinary special attacks. The best of these include flight speeds, swim speeds, burrow speeds, and tasty tidbits like sneak attack. The invocation always retains its utility, of course, for infiltration and disguise, and even if your DM rues against shifted breath weapons, you can gain a lot of mobility from it as well.
Below you’ll find a short list of some of the various forms you can shift into using the Humanoid Shape invocation. Afterwards, I'll offer my top pics, and a short explanation of why they get that honor.
The following chart is courtesy of PhaedrusXY, who has compiled a lovely little thread on good forms for alter self that you can see here. Some will be repeats, and the extraordinary abilities of each aren't listed, but it's a good place to get started. If anyone runs into other good forms (and especially other good extraordinary abilities!), do let me know. For the entire compiled list of monsters (which you can have sorted for you by shape), try the consolidated lists archive of monsters.
Without further ado, here's the chart:
Humanoids from the SRD:
[b]Name Source Cast NA Size Movement Skill/feat bonuses[/b] Bugbear MM p29 V/S 3 M 30ft +4 Move Silently Dwarf PHB 14 V/S - M 20ft (no encumbrance) +2 to Craft (Stone or Metal), +2 to Search (Stonework) Duergar MM 92 V/S - M 20ft (no encumbrance) +4 Move Silently, +1 Listen and Spot Elf PHB 15 V/S - M 30ft +2 Listen, +2 Search, +2 Spot Half-Elf PHB 18 V/S - M 30ft +1 Listen, +1 Search, +1 Spot, +2 Diplomacy and Gather Information Aquatic Elf MM 103 V/S - M 30ft, 40ft Swim +2 Listen, +2 Search, +2 Spot Drow Elf MM 103 V/S - M 30ft +2 Listen, +2 Search, +2 Spot (Looks cool) Githyanki MM 127 V/S - M 30ft Githzerai MM 129 V/S - M 30ft Gnoll MM 130 V/S 1 M 30ft Gnome PHB 16 V/S - S 20ft +2 Listen, +2 Craft (Alchemy) Goblin MM 133 V/S - S 30ft +4 Move Silently, +4 Ride Halfling PHB 19 V/S - S 20ft +2 Climb, +2 Listen, +2 Jump, +2 Move Silently Hobgoblin MM 153 V/S 4 M 30ft +4 Move Silently Kobold MM 161 V/S 1 S 30ft +2 Craft (Trapmaking), +2 Search, +2 Profession (Miner) Lizardfolk MM 169 V/S 5 M 30ft +4 Balance, +4 Jump, +4 Swim, Claw and Bite attacks (1d4 each) Locathah MM 169 V/S 3 M 10ft, 60ft Swim +8 Swim (take 10) Merfolk MM 185 V/S - M 5ft, 50ft Swim +8 Swim (take 10) Orc MM 203 V/S - M 30ft Troglodyte MM 246 V/S 6 M 30ft +4 Hide (+8 underground), Multiattack, Claw and Bite attacks (1d4 each)
[b]Name Source Cast NA Size Movement Skill/feat bonuses[/b] Skulk FF 154 V/S - M 30ft +8 to Move Silently, +15 to Hide (only if wearing light/no armor) Svirfneblin MM 132 V/S - S 20ft +2 Search (Stonework), +2 Craft (alchemy), +2 Listen, +2 Hide (+4 underground) Tallfellow Halfling MM 149 V/S - S 20ft +2 Search, +2 Spot, +2 Listen Deep Halfling MM 150 V/S - S 20ft +2 to Craft (Stone or Metal), +2 to Search (Stonework), +2 Listen Phaerlock UD 97 V/S 7 M 30ft +4 balance, +4 Jump, +4 Swim, Multiattack, Claws and Bite attacks (1d4 each) Crucian MH 59 V/S 8 M 20ft Iron Will, Weapon Focus (Warhammer) Catfolk MH 56 V/S 1 M 40ft +2 Listen, +2 Move Silently Dark Creeper FF 38 V/S 1 S 30ft Lightning Reflexes Dark Stalker FF 38 V/S 2 M 30ft Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes Mongrelfolk FF 125 V/S - M 30ft Endurance, +8 Hide, +8 Sleight of Hand Asabi MoF 15 V/S 2 M 50ft, 20ft Burrow Bite attack(1d4), Combat Reflexes, Jump Lengths Increased Bullywug MoF 25 S 3 M 20ft, 30ft Swim Endurance, +6 Hide (Marshes) Gibberling MoF 52 V?/S 1 S 30ft Bite (1d3), Weapon Focus (Bite) Shalarin MoF 76 V/S - M 40ft Swim Weapon Focus (Trident) Siv MoF 78 V/S 2 M 40ft, 20ft Swim Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Siangham) Arctic Dwarf RoF 9 V/S - S 20ft (no encumbrance) +2 to Craft (Stone or Metal), +2 to Search (Stonework) Urdunnir Dwarf RoF 22 V/S - M 20ft (no encumbrance) +2 to Craft (Stone or Metal), +2 to Search (Stonework) Wild Dwarf RoF 24 V/S - S 20ft (no encumbrance) +2 to Craft (Stone or Metal), +2 to Search (Stonework) Avarial RoF 31 V/S - M 30ft, 50ft Fly +4 Spot, +4 Jump, , +2 Listen, +2 Search Forest Gnome RoF 52 V/S - S 20ft +2 Listen, +2 Craft (Alchemy), +4 Hide (+8 Forests) Grey Orc RoF 65 V/S - M 40ft Orog (Deep Orc) RoF 71 V/S 2 M 30ft +2 Craft (Armorsmithing and Weaponsmithing) Spirit Folk, River UE 14 V/S - M 30ft, 30ft Swim +8 Swim (Take 10) Spirit Folk, Mountain UE 13 V/S - M 30ft, 30ft Climb +2 Balance, +2 Jump, +2 Tumble, +8 Climb (Take 10) Tren SK 87 V/S 8 M 30ft, 40ft Swim +4 Hide (+8 in rocky/subterranean), 2xclaw (1d4), 1xbite (1d4), Multiattack Varag MM4 168 S 3 M 60ft Run and Spring Attack bonus feats
HUMANOID SHAPE TOP PICS
This came out of me thinking about the various advantages to different forms so my DFA could be ready to shift into them at a moment’s notice. It’s interesting to realize that the Change Shape special ability, which Humanoid Shape runs off of, is not limited in respect to the HD of the form it can emulate. This opens up a lot of interesting options!
Combat: Tren – these guys are Troglodyte PLUS. Stench, just like a Troglodyte, plus a 40 ft. swim speed. Very sweet. 2 claws and a bite round this out.
Grappling: A Constrictor Naga from Oriental Adventures gets to be HUGE (15 feet of reach and a +8 to grapple checks – this may be the first time I’ve regretted the DFA’s BaB!), Improved Grab, and Constrict. BaB and Strength will still generally suck on a DFA, though. Oh well. A Cobra is large and gets poison, which would be optimizable too. Woot! IMPORTANT NOTE: Unless you're playing with Dragon #318, this works. If you play with the issue's re-write and update for the Oriental Adventures rules, Nagas become MONSTROUS humanoids and are no longer available. If you check the Consolidated Monster List online, however, they are still OFFICIALLY listed as humanoids (by the site, not the magazine - it all goes to how you take Dragon Mag. If your DM doesn't want to allow it, you have an argument ready: if you're going by the Dragon update, then you have to allow for other Dragon material, right? That means the inclusion of Power Surge, which means Shape Breath is available. A small victory, but hey - take what you can get.
Burrowing and Alternate Attack Options: Stingtail Asabi from Monsters of Faerun get large size and a NASTY poison tail attack: it deals Constitution damage on a failed Fort and makes the target CONFUSED on a failed Will save. Best of all, both DCs are Con-based! Makes me want to party up with some combat-oriented types and milk my damn tail to poison their weapons with . . . Stingtails also burrow at 30 ft. per round. Go on and dig yourself a dungeon, you tunnelling fool, you.
Caster Hindering: Shifting into a Gibberling from Monsters of Faerun lets you gibber constantly, imposing a -2 penalty to Concentration checks. This could be pretty handy when paired with Entangling Exhalation, as it will up the DC of the Concentration check to cast to a nice 17 (instead of 15). Be interesting to stack on some other penalty-inducing effects – maybe chucking Thunderstones?
Swimming: Locathah. 50 ft. of swim speed would be nice. Of course, no breath weapon underwater would hurt. Would electricity work, I wonder? It should, god knows! Of course, you might run the risk of frying your friend due to the water’s conductivity . . . in fact, the section on Breath Weapons specifically states that you can use breath weapons even if you “can’t breathe.”
Flight: Flyer Saurians from the Web Enhancement for Serpent Kingdoms are small and have a 50 ft. (average) flight speed – very nice!
Land Speed: Varag for 60 feet per round. Not shabby. Wish I could get the Spring Attack feat too. Man oh man, but that makes me want to sick a party of spring-attacking harpoon-wielding Varags on a party – they’d never know what hit ‘em! Spring in, stab to hobble, then spring out – the enemy is left desperately trying to catch up!
Sneaking: Dark Stalker from the Fiend Folio for 3d6 sneak attack seems a gimme.
Something fun I noticed about all of this: it’s possible to stay in exclusively reptilian forms and still be kick-ass when shifted! How neat is that?! I mean really! Tren are reptilian, as are Stingtails, Nagas, and Flyer Saurians. Granted, Dark Stalkers and Gibberlings aren’t exactly draconically flavored, but you can’t win all the time. The Constrictor Naga in particular would be super-fun for intimidating enemies – huge size with a snake tail? Chances are you’re going to listen to the dude.
I thought I’d throw in a section on this just to give my personal take on how to rock DFA style and rock it hard. Playing a DFA, for me, comes down to a question of class: any way you cut it, a good DFA should have some.
Play with style - use your social skills to make your presence felt in a room. Make grand entrances. Don’t talk too much - wait for really effective moments to say something impressive.
Don’t kill things right off the bat - play with your food a little first. See if you can scare weak opponents, and don’t hesitate to parley with more powerful ones. On the other hand, be brash, brave, and a bit arrogant when fights break out. You’re a dragon, after all - anyone foolish enough to stand against you deserves to taste the scourging lash of your breath!
Laugh off minor insults and party in-fighting - you’re above it. Don’t hesitate to show a sense of humor.
Be mercurial in your mood. You are a creature of powerful emotions and whims, and should be able to change in an instant from happy laughter to heated anger.
Appreciate your allies and don’t squabble over treasure . . . too much. You might just identify the item and lie a bit about its worth, though, if it’s a bauble you truly want for your burgeoning hoard.
Dress flashily, and favor your favorite dragon’s color as a theme. If you worship any draconic demigods, have their sign emblazoned on your armor, cloak, or shield, but don’t be preachy. You worship dragons as ideal representations of what you yourself want to become - they’re more role models than deities to you.
Have a personal coat of arms or emblem. You have a strong sense of self, and announce your presence with your bearing and attire. Make sure to stay well-groomed and dress elegantly, favoring fine materials such as silk, velvet, and suede. Be a bit picky about getting dirty - you're a powerfully charismatic figure who cares about maintaining a grand image.
Don’t hesitate to use your breath weapon as accent for your words - if you’re feeling a bit showy, shoot a line of fire into the air! If you’re getting angry, let a few licks of flame play about the edges of your lips as you speak - or perhaps a frosty cloud that you snort out in disgust. Light the campfire each night with a burst of fire. Your breath isn’t just for combat, it’s for style!
More Metabreath Madness!
The update that follows is a series of my musings on some text brought to my attention by this lovely little thread by Adslahnit. It ushers in a new era for those of us who have been obsessed with the potential of Metabreath feats.
Draconomicon, page 66]Multiple Metabreath Feats on a Breath Weapon
A dragon can use multiple metabreath feats on a single breath. All increases to the time the dragon must wait before breathing again are cumulative. For example, if a dragon uses an enlarged and maximized breath weapon, it must wait 1d4+4 rounds before breathing again.
A dragon can use the same metabreath feat multiple times on the same breath. In some cases, this has no additional effects. In other cases, the feat’ wrote:
Multiple Metabreath Feats on a Breath Weapon
A dragon can use multiple metabreath feats on a single breath. All increases to the time the dragon must wait before breathing again are cumulative. For example, if a dragon uses an enlarged and maximized breath weapon, it must wait 1d4+4 rounds before breathing again.
A dragon can use the same metabreath feat multiple times on the same breath. In some cases, this has no additional effects. In other cases, the feat’s effects are stackable. Apply the feat’s effect to the base values for the breath weapon once for each time the feat is applied and add up the extra time the dragon must wait before breathing again. For example, a Small dragon with a line-shaped breath weapon could use Enlarge Breath twice on the same breath. Since the base length of the line is 40 feet, the doubly enlarged line would become 80 feet long (20 extra feet per application of the feat), and the dragon would have to wait 1d4+2 rounds before breathing again.
If a metabreath feat stacks with itself, this fact will be noted in the Special section of the feat description.
Something interesting here; even though it specifically states that stackable metabreath feats will be specifically noted as such in the Special section of the feat, the feat they use as an example, Enlarge Breath, does not have a Special section and is not described as being stackable.
This means we have to default to Rule 0. Technically, the example suggests – in effect, states – that Enlarge Breath is stackable. Unfortunately, the text of the actual feat does not support the example. In other words, it’s up to the DM. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
Let’s look at one that DOES stack according to its text, shall we?
Draconomicon, page 71]Lingering Breath
Your breath weapon forms a lingering cloud.
Prerequisites: Con 15, breath weapon, Clinging Breath.
Benefit: Your breath weapon has its normal effects, but also remains as a lingering cloud of the same shape and size as the original breath weapon. This cloud lasts 1 round.
Foes caught in the breath weapon’ wrote:
Your breath weapon forms a lingering cloud.
Prerequisites: Con 15, breath weapon, Clinging Breath.
Benefit: Your breath weapon has its normal effects, but also remains as a lingering cloud of the same shape and size as the original breath weapon. This cloud lasts 1 round.
Foes caught in the breath weapon’s area when you breathe take no additional damage from the lingering breath weapon, provided they leave the cloud by the shortest available route on their next turn. Otherwise, anyone who touches or enters the cloud while it lasts takes one-half of the breath weapon’s normal effects; any saving throw the breath weapon normally allows still applies. Damaging breath weapons deal one-half their normal damage, and breath weapons with effects that have durations last for half the normal time. If a creature is affected by the same non-damaging breath weapon twice, the effects do not stack.
For example, an old silver dragon uses this feat on its cold breath weapon. Creatures caught in the 50-foot cone take 16d8 points of cold damage, and a DC 31 Reflex save reduces the damage by half. The 50-foot cone lingers for 1 round. While the cone lasts, anyone touching or entering it takes 8d8 points of cold damage, and a DC 31 Reflex save reduces the cold damage to 4d8 points. Creatures in the cone when the dragon breathed take no additional damage if they leave by the shortest available route on their next turn.
If the same dragon uses this feat on its paralyzing breath weapon, a creature caught in the 50-foot cone must make a DC 31 Fortitude save or be paralyzed for 1d6+8 rounds. The 50-foot cone lingers for 1 round. While the cone lasts, anyone touching or entering it must make a DC 31 Fortitude save or be paralyzed for 1d3+4 rounds. Creatures in the cone when the dragon breathed take no additional damage if they leave by the shortest available route on their next turn. Creatures paralyzed by the initial breath cannot leave the cloud, but suffer no additional effects because the paralyzing effects do not stack.
When you use this feat, add +2 to the number of rounds you must wait before using your breath weapon again.
Special: You can apply this feat more than once to the same breath weapon. Each time you do, the lingering breath lasts an additional round.
You can apply this feat to a breath weapon that also has received the Clinging Breath feat, but the resulting breath clings only to foes caught in the initial breath.
In other words, you can stack BOTH Lingering AND Clinging onto the same breath, and do so as many times as you choose. None of the other metabreath feats have this special designation, and Enlarge Breath, as noted above, is iffy at best. Clinging and Lingering, however, are NOT.
This opens up unreasonable potential for abuse.
So let’s do some maths, shall we?
Let’s assume you’re using Power Surge (because it’s the optimal choice for a breath, since the recharge rate is as low as it can get – one round) to apply Clinging Breath multiple times to your DFA breath weapon. Each application adds one round to the duration of the wait period before your next breath.
Therefore, if n = the number of rounds of Clinging Breath you want, your wait time will be n+1. If you have Recover Breath, you’ll have to wait n rounds. If you have Lingering Breath, you’ll wait (nx2)+1 rounds; if you use Clinging + Lingering, you’ll wait (nx3)+1 rounds (with Recover Breath again removing the +1).
So let’s say you want to protect your camp for the evening. Everybody is pre-buffed with Endure Elements, making each PC perfectly protected from any breath-weapon damage. You want to sleep for 8 hours so that your casters will be fully rested. Every round is about 6 seconds long. This means there are 10 rounds in a minute, 600 rounds in an hour, and 4800 rounds in 8 hours.
Use a Lingering Breath for 8 hours, you’ll be unable to use your breath for 16 hours (9601 rounds, technically). But during those 8 hours, your entire camp will be sleeping soundly beneath a ferocious blanket of energy that will fry any foe dumb enough to venture into it.
Better yet, should you happen to be a double-barrel breather (see the Builds section for details on this; basically, this means a Dragonborn character with a secondary breath weapon from the template), you can use your Dragonborn breath to blanket an area in energy and still, during the “downtime,” use your Dragonfire Adept breath.
Another nice new trick for Clinging Breath:
Draconomicon, p. 68]This feat only works on a breath weapon that has instantaneous duration and that deals some kind of damage, such as energy damage (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic), ability damage, or negative levels.
Check that last little bolded bit again, won’ wrote:
This feat only works on a breath weapon that has instantaneous duration and that deals some kind of damage, such as energy damage (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic), ability damage, or negative levels.[/quote] Check that last little bolded bit again, won’t you?
Now for a normal DFA without any potions or magic items, this isn’t a big deal; after all, you can’t deal ability damage (just a penalty) or negative levels with your breath. But once you add magical items it becomes a whole different ballgame.
Put on a Crown of the North Wind, from Forgotten Realms – Dragons of Faerun. Now, as a Venerable Dragonwrought Kobold, you can breathe weakening gas as a full-on Gold Dragon of your age category. This deals – get this! –
SRD]Breath Weapon (Su): A gold dragon has two types of breath weapon, a cone of fire and a cone of weakening gas. Creatures within a cone of weakening gas must succeed on a Fortitude save or take 1 point of Strength damage per age category of the dragon.
Breath Weapon (Su): A gold dragon has two types of breath weapon, a cone of fire and a cone of weakening gas. Creatures within a cone of weakening gas must succeed on a Fortitude save or take 1 point of Strength damage per age category of the dragon.[/quote] That’s 12 Strength damage. Which is nice. But let’s add some Clinging Breath, shall we?
Now you’ve got 12 Strength damage in the first round, then 6 in the second round.
But wait – aren’t we leaving out Lingering Breath?
Draconomicon, p. 71]Damaging breath weapons deal one-half their normal damage . . .
So stack Lingering AND Clinging onto that 12 Str damage breath and it will deal 12 Str again to anyone dumb enough to linger in the cloud wrote:
Damaging breath weapons deal one-half their normal damage . . .[/quote] So stack Lingering AND Clinging onto that 12 Str damage breath and it will deal 12 Str again to anyone dumb enough to linger in the cloud; 6 if they’re smart enough to leave.
And you can make that effect last as long as you like; you just have to be willing to suffer the annoying fact that you’ll need to wait a looooong time to use that breath weapon again.
But if you have more than one breath weapon, nothing’s keeping you from switching it up!
Let’s get a little more small scale for a moment, though. Sure, it’s great if you’ve got tons of gold to chuck about and a DM who won’t get scared of you if you pull out a Dragonwrought kobold on him. That’s fine and well and good, but what about low-level scrabblers and scrappers who need a damn hand?
Fear not – for you, there’s Lingering/Clinging Breath + Entangling Exhalation.
Clinging Breath is the better option, since it stays with the enemy whether that enemy chooses to stay within the effect or not. On the other hand, Clinging only works on breaths “with an instantaneous duration,” which a savvy DM might argue Entangling Exhalation interferes with (sure, your original breath is instantaneous, but the minute you apply Entangling Exhalation to it you’ve got a breath with a duration, ergo Clinging is a no-go). Of course, the counter argument is just as rational: there is no rule about the order in which you stack effects, which means you can choose to apply Clinging first and THEN Entangling – no problem. Still, some DMs will make arbitrary decisions because they fear their players’ ability to use and abuse the rules more effectively than they themselves can and will quash it. I simply offer this warning – know your DM and know your approach if you want this to work.
Lingering flat works.
Clinging + Entangling means that you can, with a standard action, entangle a foe, causing ½ base breath damage, and then deal ¼ base damage +1d6 on each subsequent round. The damage, however, is really not the impressive part – the impressive part is the increase in the duration of the Entangling effect.
You can make it last as long as you like!
Better yet, if you have another breath weapon, you can now entangle your enemies for an entire fight while still keeping your primary breath free for damage! Take a Dragonborn DFA at 1st level with Power Surge (1st), Clinging Breath (flaw), and Entangling Exhalation (flaw). Breathe with multiple applications of Clinging Breath using your Dragonborn breath weapon; go for 20 rounds or so, which is usually enough for ANY conflict. Now breathe away with your standard breath, stacking on extra damage each round; heck, if you like, make each subsequent breath an Entangling Exhalation (why not!).
Here’s how it shakes out:
Round 1: Dragonborn breath weapon with Entangling and Clinging. Foe takes ½ of 1d8 damage (1~4).
Round 2: Enemy takes 1d6 from Entangling; 1d8/4 (1~2) from Clinging. Enemy takes 1d6 from a new breath, or ½ of 1d6 with an Entangling Exhalation.
Round 3: Enemy takes 2d6 from Entangling (or just 1d6 if the second round’s breath wasn’t entangling); 1d8/4 (1~2) from Clinging. Enemy takes 1d6 from a new breath, or ½ of 1d6 with an Entangling Exhalation.
You can see how this rapidly stacks to make for one seriously nobbled foe. Seriously.
But wait! There’s even one MORE trick for optimizing this stuff!
Now that your breath weapon isn’t as dependent on DFA breath-weapon effects, you can mix and match! Grab some levels of Sorcerer, then go into a dual progression class. Use Power Surge to put a one-round duration increase on a spell-based breath weapon from Fiendish Sorcerer Howl (PHBII – gives a conical sonic breath weapon) or Draconic Breath (from Races of the Dragon), throw on some Metabreath Spells (Enervating Breath comes to mind . . .), then make it a Clinging Breath. A clinging effect that lasts for fricking ever and deals negative levels each round? Yes please!
So that brings me to another section and an additional idea:
Pseudoclasses for the DFA
Other Sources for Breath Weapons:
Binders: Binders get a couple of vestiges that grant breath weapons. Some of them grant things that walk, talk, sound, look, and in all other ways behave as breath weapons. In particular, Amon and Orthos each offer access to breath weapons with recharge rates measured in rounds. Of course, some sticklers will have it that those aren’t breath WEAPONS, just supernatural, breath-based assaults that require no attack rolls, come from your mouth, fill a line or cone, and otherwise behave just like one. Boo to them, say I.
Soulmelds: Yep yep – soulmelds again, FTW! The Behir Gorget, Winter Mask, and Dragonfire Mask all grant breath weapons (though, once again, there’s a problem with specific language; the Behir Gorget grants something “similar to a Behir’s breath weapon” and the Winter Mask allows you to “breathe a cone of cold” – only the Dragonfire Mask specifically states that it grants a breath weapon). Use and enjoy!
Sorcerer Spellslots: Fiendish Sorcerer Howl from the PHBII and Draconic Breath from Races of the Dragon allow you to convert spells into breaths; Power Surge lets you have a recharge rate, opening up Metabreath Feats. Better yet, you’ve got the option to lay Metabreath Spells on your breath weapons, which opens up a whole new vista of entertainment and options!
Dragon Shaman: Five levels of investment for a shabby breath seems quite a lot, but if you’re really feeling it, go ahead!
Dragonborn: The classic way to pick up a supplemental breath. Read about this in the Races section if you need more info.
Dragonfire Adept: These are the guys this whole guide is all about, baby.
I’m not going to bother with the various tricks to get into Anima Mage early. Use the Open Greater Chakra spell to open up your throat chakra, and get Double Chakra Bind so that you can bind both the Winter Mask and Dragonfire Mask to it. You’ll also need Improved Binding and Draconic Breath.
You now have:
Orthos’ Wind Breath (5 round wait)
Amon’s Fire Breath (5 round wait)
Winter Mask’s Cold Breath (no wait without Power Surge)
Dragonfire Mask’s Fire Breath (1d4 round wait)
Dragonborn Energy Breath (1d4 round wait)
Dragonfire Adept’s Fire Breath (no wait without Power Surge)
Draconic Breath’s Fire Breath (no wait without Power Surge)
In other words, 7 different breath weapons. You also, if you grab Clinging and Lingering Breath, could use those to flood areas with massive, lasting energy effects, stacking each on the other. Further, you could amplify any and all of those with metabreath spells, making them deal attribute damage, blind opponents, daze opponents . . . the list goes on and on.
Some of these kick butt, and they deserve mentioning. Here’s the list (all from the Draconomicon):
Breath Flare (1st): Dazzle opponents. -1 to attack? Who cares? Okay, it’s not terrible at low levels when stacked with other de-buffs, but it’s hardly worth a first level slot.
Blinding Breath (3rd): Now we’re talking. This is awesome when paired with Entangling and Clinging for total nuke effect. Congrats - you are now going to stumble around at 1/2 speed making saves against blindness; which, if you fail, will put you at 1/4 speed. Oh, and you're taking damage.
Dispelling Breath (4th): Oooooh! You mean I can breathe an area effect that will cling to enemies, entangling them, damaging them, AND subjecting them to a dispelling effect each round? Is it Christmas already?!
Rebuking Breath (4th): Watching consecutive rebuking attempts humble a bunch of napalm-covered, entangled undead is hilarious.
Stunning Breath (4th): Please ignore Dispel and Rebuke and TAKE THIS SPELL! Hey, guess what? You’re entangled! Oh yeah, and you’re taking damage. Oh, and please to make Fortitude save vs. being completely USELESS. Make it every round. Oh, and since I’ve pumped the DC using Heighten Breath, it’s a stupidly difficult save to make.
Ethereal Breath (5th): Who needs the force breath draconic breath effect?
Animate Breath (7th): This would be worth the slot if it hadn’t been re-done for the Spell Compendium. Bah humbug. If your DM uses this version, kiss him on the mouth; it’s the last time he’ll let you get so close, because he’ll HATE you after you cast this on a crazily amped breath weapon to WIN.
Greater Stunning Breath (7th): More fun with stunning. Not worth the slot if you’re investing in Metabreath feats; stick with the lower-level version and the effect will be the same with Clinging Breath.
Enervating Breath (8th): Take 2d4 negative levels from my breath weapon. It clings to you and does half again what it did first round for as many rounds as I like, by the by. Oh, and just so’s you know, if you stay IN the cloud it deals another 2d4 negative levels. Every round. All the time.
Breath Weapon Admixture (8th): Double your damage. Useful for cutting the effects of clinging, but hardly worth the slot. Unless you're going to nuke the universe, of course.
Deafening Breath (9th): The sorriest excuse for a 9th level spell EVER. Really. Sad.