2.4: Build #9, Stabby McTankerson, is up. Now you can be a very physical front-liner who rains death from above and can stand in melee for a round or few. (8 20 9)
I rearranged Shoppin' so it uses 2 posts. All items of a type (rings, wondrous items) are in a separate SBlock.
2.3: After many hours of combing through the guide, I now declare all sections free of bugs, be they mechanical, grammatical, or formatting.
I changed the ratings on some items and feats and referenced Magic Item Compendium 233-234's rules on adding common effects to existing items. I fixed all builds so their maneuvers are fully legal.
Build #7, Eternal Daughter, was missing its last stance. Build #4, The Twilight Lancer, and Build #8, The Trancer, had titles mismatch their level progressions.
I added an SBlock in Feats for Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62) on how to use it to mimic Spring Attack.
2.2: Build #8, the Trancer, is up. This build could pass for a backup arcanist much of the time.
Further proofreading revealed many now-squashed minor bugs. (7 28 9)
2.1: I fixed minor typos and tweaked the format of some things more to my liking. (7 23 9)
2.0: Build #7, Eternal Daughter, is up. I advise against playing it unless you start at or near level 20 as Island in Time, your level 20 ability, is the only redeeming feature compared to other builds!
In other news, I turned 25 last week. Happy birthday. (6 28 9)
1.9: I added my thought process to the Administrative Q&A section and fixed minor bugs. (5 16 9)
1.8: Build #6 is up for the charismatic, party-boosting dragoons. (2 6 9)
1.7: I added build #5 for those dragoons suck without Tome of Battle or Unearthed Arcana. (1 30 9)
1.6: I expanded the build section with The Blade Lancer and will soon expand it further. (11 26 8)
1.5: The maneuver progression for all builds is legal now. I also fixed minor typos and bugs. (11 11 8)
1.4: I fixed the Powertool build since it had Shock Trooper (Complete Warrior 112) listed twice. I also rearranged its feats to get Shock Trooper at level 9 for more accurate power attackin'! (10 26 8)
1.3: I added the section Your Role as a Dragoon as well as some other minor additions like spider climb.
Q: What is a dragoon? What is a dragon knight? What is a lancer? A: A dragoon or 'dragon knight' is a high-jumping, heavy armor-wearing spear-wielding unit from the Final Fantasy series. Some dragoons, especially from Final Fantasy Tactics, are called lancers. This is the main definition. This guide is mostly about unmounted dragoons, though with certain modifications you can also handle mounted combat fairly well.
Historically, dragoons were mounted cavalry who also fought on foot. Let us discuss historical dragoons no more in this post.
Q: What happened to the old dragoon threads? A: Tempest Stormwind's dragoon builds were from this thread, now archived. I reformatted it and placed the spiffifications in a post below.
Q: Where'd you get that picture? What is it? A: I found it on the above dragoon thread. It's a picture of the female lancer from Final Fantasy Tactics.
Q: Why write this? A: I intended to play a dragoon and decided to share my findings with the world in a spectacular fashion. Second, I wanted to get more attention to the 3.5 boards. Also, I had a burning desire that bordered on obsession to build this character, which is awkward considering I ususally prefer wizards.My Thought ProcessShow
My Thought Process
For those curious about how I assembled the various pieces for writing this guide, here y' go! This list is not necessarily in the order it happened in my head but is a rough organization of the dragoon's aspects I wanted to include.
-Dragoons are acrobatic fighters that typically use polearms. -A rogue level would help fill this archetype with Jump and Tumble. -Conveniently, rogues are proficient with all simple weapons and longspears are simple polearms. -Rogues have a variant to trade Sneak Attack for a fighter feat. -Battle Jump is a fighter feat.
-Battle Jump allows me to charge by attacking someone from above but doesn't function with magical flight or levitation. -Lion Totem barbarian allows me to make a full attack on a charge. -Vertical Jump checks get ridiculously high for Large and larger creatures. -Boosting my land speed also increases my Jump checks. -Expeditious retreat is a level 1 wizard spell and I can get longstrider as a level 1 domain spell. -The feat Leap of the Heavens treats all standing jumps as running jumps. -Up the Walls is a psionic feat that allows me to run up and along walls and fall on foes, but it requires 13 WIS. -Psychic warrior1 gives a psionic or fighter feat, but I need 14 WIS to get a power point.
-Jump checks alone don't negate most falling damage. -Tumble checks help, but the DCs ramp up quickly. -Raptorans and Dragonborn negate falling damage, eventually fly, and get +10 racial Jump. -A Dragonborn water half-orc gets a STR boost and swim speed but a Dragonborn fire elf gets +2 INT and a negligible -2 CHA. A Dragonborn nezumi gets +4 CON, -2 CHA, and a spiffy 40' base move speed as a medium creature for no LA.
-Each round I get a standard, move, and swift action. -Charging is a full round (standard & move) action. -Most the time I'm not using my swift action. -The Travel Devotion allows me to move as a swift action a certain number of times per day. -Taking 1 cleric level can get me the Travel Devotion and another domain, plus a bunch of other stuff.
-Battle Jump when properly set up allows me to down most foes in one hit. -Valorous weapons, the feat Headlong Rush, and a Halberd of Vaulting increase my charge damage and thus my Battle Jump damage multiplier. -If I had more attacks each round, I could down more foes. -Combat Reflexes, Cleave, Great Cleave, haste, and Whirling Frenzy grant more attacks.
-I need some means of boosting my Will and Reflex saves. -Moment of Perfect Mind is a level 1 warblade maneuver and Action Before Thought is a level 2 Warblade maneuver. -I can get those maneuvers with 1 warblade level if I take Warblade at 5 or later. -Evasion is handy to have for negating area damaging effects. -I already have a rogue level. -Rogue2 provides spiffy synergy.
-I want my allies to contribute as well. -They can only contribute if they get a turn. -White Raven Tactics is a level 3 warblade maneuver that gives an ally within 10' another turn.
In my experience playing the Red Hand of Doom module with my Dragonborn half-minotaur water half-orc cohort, only bosses have a reasonable chance to avoid being one-shot, and when I attack more than once per round such as via haste and Cleave, rooms clear quickly.
This cohort started 2 levels behind the party, 3 with her level adjustment, but can hit about as accurately as a casually optimized fighter, and definitely much harder. Fortunately, Red Hand of Doom has many open outdoor areas and outposts, allowing Ebony to climb or run up the sides of buildings and Battle Jump onto her victims below. My DM said that my main character and her cohort could solo or duo this module, and while it could happen, I'd need to start at level 6 or higher for Leadership.
My main character is a Conjurer5/Incantatrix4/Hathran1 who I call the special effects crew. She fortifies the party with 24 to 48 hour buffs via Metamagic Effect and her massive Spellcraft bonus. During fights, she sprinkles on the crowd control spells judiciously. A single Evard's black tentacles can shut down most the fight, while glitterdust nullifies one- or two-target threats. Ebony then acrobatic leaps, wall runs, and impalings to clear rooms in a turn or three that would make fellow dragoons proud.
Q: What are some helpful relevant links? A: See the links section in a below SBlock.
Q: How long did this take? A: 1.0 probably took at least 50 hours over 3 weeks.
Q: What do your color codes mean? A:Blue is critical or almost critical for your build. Alternatively, an item, spell, or feat may be so worthy that it's a gimme for almost everyone. If necessary, plead with your DM to allow you this. Navy is of high priority for most dragoons. An item may be a wonderful bargain, a spell may be more potent with your build, or a feat that normally is dubious works wonders for you. Black is nice to have for most dragoons. Maybe an effect is awesome but can only be used once per day. Perhaps a spell is excellent, but a continuous item of that spell isn't worth the price. Some things' usefulness varies so widely that I can't adequately gauge how much it will help, and if in doubt I make it black. Red is either extremely niche or utter crap for you. Many spells with saves work well when cast by a high INT wizard, but you aren't a primary caster. Something may seem appealing and may even be thematically appropriate, but you should only take a red item if your heart begs you to take it or there's no better choice.
I do not attempt to list every option. While I wish to provide a comprehensive list, I present only the most popular, optimal, or thematically appropriate materials.
Q: Must I wear red? Must I be female? A: No and no, though you'd probably get more laughs than cheers if as a man you called yourself Little Red Raiding Hood.
Game Mechanics Questions, House Rules, and Some Things to Clear With Your DMShow
Game Mechanics Q&A
Q: What is partial BAB stacking? A: A rogue gets 3 points of base attack bonus every 4 levels. A wizard gets 1 point of BAB every 2 levels. A rogue1/wizard1 by default rules has a BAB of 0 but with partial BAB stacking, he instead has a BAB of 1.25 which is rounded down to 1. (Unearthed Arcana 73 lists the table.)
Q: Do I need partial BAB stacking? A: No, but if you start below level 5ish, plead with your DM to allow it. Expect to have a hard time hitting otherwise. Even if you start later, hitting them more often is better.
Q: What if my DM enforces alignment, like saying lawful barbarians can't rage? A: Talk to your DM. Blade dancers (Oriental Adventures 37) by their flavor text seem more unlawful because of their drinking habits. They're more roguish or bardic than paladinic. If your DM uses Oriental Adventures errata, blade dancers are nonchaotic instead of just lawful. Regardless, if you can't enter and you want in, you'll need to adapt.
Failing that, seriously consider if you want blade dancer. You need three icky feats, Dodge, Mobility, and Spring Attack, to qualify.
By extrapolation, this applies to other alignment-based abilities and classes as well.
Q: What if I can't use Eberron material? A: You lose Powerful Charge (Eberron Campaign Setting 57) and Greater Powerful Charge (Eberron Campaign Setting 54). Eberron has the least useful material available for dragoons.
Q: What if I can't use Faerun material? A: You lose Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42), the Valorous enchant (Unapproachable East 54), and anything else from Faerun books. You can withstand losing Valorous, but Battle Jump is key to the dragoon's style. Plead with your DM to allow it if you want to be a dragoon!
Q: What if I can't use Oriental Adventures? A: Unless you greatly wanted to be a blade dancer (Oriental Adventures 37), you lose nothing of note.
Q: What if I can't use psionics? A: No Up the Walls or hustle for you then. You can achieve similar stylistic results by magical flight or wings, or a Transmuter's Sudden Shift (Player's Handbook II 68), but Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42) requires you hurl yourself at your opponents, not fly down at them. Also, the Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62) becomes more important.
Complete Scoundrel's skill tricks help slightly, but they do little to compensate.
Q: What if my DM enforces favored classes and multiclass penalties? A: Then I'm glad I ain't playin' in that game. Seriously, if you must, take Additional Favored Class (Unearthed Arcana 100). Alternatively, try talking to your DM to let warblade or a class of your choice be your favored class. This works especially well if your race's normal favored class is ranger, fighter, or barbarian.
Failing that, find a new build.
Q: What stats do I need to make each build work? A: Check in each build's SBlock. (Post 1, Post 2)
Some aspects apply to all builds, however.
You need 14 WIS to get the bonus power point needed to psionically focus with 1 psychic warrior level. You need only 13 WIS otherwise.
I also recommend AT LEAST a 14 CON because you're a melee person. Over the long term, you need CON about as much as the party's tank because a giant flying, wall-running menace that impales foes with one hit and clears rooms in one round will draw aggro, if any foes remain that is.
If you wish to focus on casting, you'll need a higher INT, WIS, or CHA. Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62) requires 2 turning attempts per use, and if you don't want to blow feats or buy items, bump your CHA.
Q: Do Tome of Battle prestige classes add their initiator level bonus to crusader, swordsage, and warblade? A: By the rules as written, yes! I consider this fair considering a full caster has far more tricks than a multiclassed martial adept.
Q: Does Evasion work with abilities that replace Reflex saves with skill checks, like Action Before Thought? A: By the rules as written, no. Evasion applies to Reflex saves, and Action Before Thought uses a skill check instead of a save. Allowing Evasion to work is a reasonable interpretation.
Q: How should I allocate my stat points from levels? A: Boost your stats to fill prereqs first. Casters should boost their primary casting stat. Other dragoons should boost stats according to preference.
STR: Melee accuracy & damage, Climb & Jump checks DEX: AC, reflex saves, Tumble checks, more attacks from Combat Reflexes CON: HP, fortitude saves, Concentration checks INT: Skill points, Knowledge & Search checks WIS: Will saves, Spot & Listen checks CHA: More turn/rebuke undead attempts for Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62), social skills
Q: Does becoming a Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) remove my previous race's Climb or Jump bonuses since these skills determine distance I can jump or climb per turn and I keep the movement modes of my original race? Normally I'd lose skill bonuses and a bunch of other stuff. A: I'd like to think so, but in this guide I assume not. See the Dragonborn template below and ask your DM!
Q: What about a certain house rule, feat, variant, item, class, or...? A: Remember, the dragoon concept is a template and able to change a bit to suit your needs. I'm open to suggestions for its improvement, though the core concept of a high-jumping acrobatic polearm-wielding "OMGWTFBBQ" martial character, not necessarily a martial adept, won't change.
Q: Must I wear red? Must I be female? A: No and no, though you'd probably get more laughs than cheers if as a man you called yourself Little Red Raiding Hood.
Q: Why is this build called Little Red Raiding Hood? A: Because she's an air raider! Let the sirens blare when you move 50 feet, jump onto your foe, full attack, and spring away via Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62) as if nothing ever happened. (Spring Attack, eat your heart out!)
This list is mostly for repliers who use acronymns instead of full names.
An Anauroch: The Empire of Shade AEG Arms and Equipment Guide BFK Barrow of the Forgotten King BB Bastion of Broken Souls BC Book of Challenges: Dungeon Rooms, Puzzles, and Traps BE Book of Exalted Deeds BV Book of Vile Darkness CoR Champions of Ruin CoV Champions of Valor CiP City of Peril CSW City of Splendors: Waterdeep CSQ City of the Spider Queen Ci Cityscape CV Complete Adventurer CA Complete Arcane CC Complete Champion CD Complete Divine CM Complete Mage CP Complete Psionic CS Complete Scoundrel CW Complete Warrior Co Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave DG D&D Gazetteer DH Deep Horizon DotF Defenders of the Faith: A Guidebook to Clerics and Paladins DD Deities and Demigods Dr Draconomicon DM Dragon Magic DCS Dragonlance Campaign Setting Dra Dragonmarked DE Dragons of Eberron DrF Dragons of Faerûn DrU Drow of the Underdark DMG Dungeon Master's Guide v.3.5 DMG2 Dungeon Master's Guide II Du Dungeonscape ECS Eberron Campaign Setting ElE Elder Evils EA Enemies and Allies ELH Epic Level Handbook EE Exemplars of Evil XPH Expanded Psionics Handbook Rav Expedition to Castle Ravenloft EDP Expedition to the Demonweb Pits ERG Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk EU Expedition to Undermountain EH Explorer's Handbook ELQ Eyes of the Lich Queen F&P Faiths & Pantheons FoE Faiths of Eberron FLFD Fantastic Locations: Fane of the Drow FLFR Fantastic Locations: Fields of Ruin FLHP Fantastic Locations: Hellspike Prison FF Fiend Folio FC1 Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss FC2 Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells 5N Five Nations Fo Forge of Fury, The FW Forge of War, The FRCS Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting FY Fortress of the Yuan-Ti FB Frostburn Gh Ghostwalk GHR Grand History of the Realms GC Grasp of the Emerald Claw HN Heart of Nightfang Spire HBG Hero Builder's Guidebook HoB Heroes of Battle HoH Heroes of Horror LM Libris Mortis: The Book of the Dead LG Living Greyhawk Gazetteer LF Lord of the Iron Fortress LoD Lords of Darkness LoM Lords of Madness LEOF Lost Empires of Faerûn MIC Magic Item Compendium MoE Magic of Eberron MoF Magic of Faerûn MoI Magic of Incarnum MP Manual of the Planes MW Masters of the Wild: A Guidebook to Barbarians, Druids, and Rangers MH Miniatures Handbook Mon Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn MM5 Monster Manual V MM4 Monster Manual IV MM3 Monster Manual III MM2 Monster Manual II MM Monster Manual v.3.5 Mys Mysteries of the Moonsea OA Oriental Adventures PlH Planar Handbook PE Player's Guide to Eberron PG Player's Guide to Faerûn PH Player's Handbook v.3.5 PH2 Player's Handbook II PF Power of Faerûn RD Races of Destiny RE Races of Eberron Rac Races of Faerûn RS Races of Stone RDr Races of the Dragon RW Races of the Wild RH Red Hand of Doom RT Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil RC Rules Compendium Sa Sandstorm SS Savage Species SoS Secrets of Sarlona SX Secrets of Xen'drik SK Serpent Kingdoms SSL Shadowdale: The Scouring of the Land SL Shadows of the Last War Sh Sharn: City of Towers ShG The Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde ShS Shining South SM Silver Marches SiS Sinister Spire, The SaS Song and Silence: A Guidebook to Bards and Rogues SG Sons of Gruumsh SD Speaker in Dreams, The SC Spell Compendium StS Standing Stone, The Sto Stormwrack SB Stronghold Builder's Guidebook SuC Sunless Citadel, The SF Sword and Fist: A Guidebook to Monks and Fighters TB Tome and Blood: A Guidebook to Wizards and Sorcerers ToB Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords ToM Tome of Magic Una Unapproachable East Und Underdark UA Unearthed Arcana VGD Voyage of the Golden Dragon WB Whispers of the Vampire's Blade
Overall, your job is to do lots of damage in melee via your polearm. At mid to late levels, this will be enough to kill nearly anything in one full attack, assuming all your attacks hit. (In MMO terms, you're mad melee DPS.) While you're frequently on the front lines, if you are the main target, you should remain just ouf of reach of things wishing to harm you. Leave 'tanking' to the Big Stupid Fighter™ or Locke Downe. With your polearm, you should be able to stand far enough away to poke at anyone entering your threat range, hopefully stopping them from touching you.
Level 1: FeatRogue1 (You gain a fighter bonus feat instead of sneak attack.)
Initially, you're one of the party's scouts. You can sneak and Spot better than the average character, though many will wonder why as a stealther you rely on a longspear. Answer: You're proficient with it and it's the best simple reach weapon available at level 1.
You may also need a bow because of your low HP, 0 BAB, and meager Fortitude save. Play it safe and you should level in a month.
You can occasionally trigger Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42), but you most likely need to climb somewhere high to do it.
If you aren't a Raptoran (Races of the Wild 68) or Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8), becoming a Dragonborn ) is an immediate goal and one you may be able to attain at level 1 in your backstory. Even if you must take out a loan or promise someone or something service, it's most likely worthwhile. (Talk to your DM about this.)
Level 2: Cleric1 After gaining your first cleric level, you're still the stealthy, scouting type with a longspear, but now you can heal yourself should you get in trouble. Hopefully you snagged the Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62) so you can move as a swift action instead of a move action.
You can also heal your allies between fights and buff slightly before fights, but you should still try to remain out of view. Remember you can use clerical wands and staves if the spell is on your cleric list or granted to you by your domains!
Level 3: Psychic Warrior1 Up The Walls, baby! Now you can trigger Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42) by backflipping from a wall onto some poor sap's head. You can also run along walls and surprise most people who don't think in 3D.
You also become proficient with lances and halberds, increasing your damage capacity slightly.
Level 4: Barbarian1 Little changes from last level, but now you're guaranteed to have a positive base attack bonus, thereby allowing Power Attack bonus damage. You can hopefully also use Whirling Frenzy to gain an extra attack for one fight per day.
While you don't benefit from it immediately, Pounce gained from the Lion Totem (Complete Champion 46) also works when hasted. Better to have it sooner than later.
You should also have the HP to take a blow or 3 in melee and not worry about falling over. Things probably only get more intense from here!
Level 5: Warblade1 (Tome of Battle 21) Bring on the maneuvers! This is the last time your power level will increase so greatly with one level gained. You should have Moment of Perfect Mind (Tome of Battle 64) to protect against mind control, Sudden Leap (Tome of Battle 89) to allow you to jump as a swift action when your Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 162) power is depleted, and Punishing Stance (Tome of Battle 69) to do d6 more damage and be out of harm's way so the -2 AC from this stance doesn't affect you. If you're paranoid of being mind controlled, instead take the stance Bolstering Voice (Tome of Battle 90) so all allies within 60' that can hear you get +2 Will.
Now you'll need to manage your swift and immediate actions. Remember, using an immediate action when it isn't your turn steals your next turn's swift action!
Around level 5 is when you can take a few more risks around enemies and not risk death from one stab or full attack. Enemy melee characters get multiple attacks on a full attack starting around this time; beware!
Finally, if you're a Raptoran (Races of the Wild 68), you can fly for brief periods. While flying, you can perform a diving charge with a piercing weapon for double damage. Woot!
Phase II: Levels 6-10 - Heroic Medieval Fantasy
You've survived the growing pains of gaining your first point of BAB by acting smart and staying out of harm's way as much as practical. Keep up the good work and you'll be jumping even higher soon!
From now on, you won't be hiding frequently to great effect: A mere 4 ranks in Hide got you here, but it filled its purpose. (If you have more ranks, you're probably trying to be sneaky in which case, sneak on!)
I won't do a by-level breakdown for every level from now on, but instead give notes on important levels and a general feel for how I expect things to be.
Level 6: Warblade2 If you're a Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8), you can fly for brief periods. While flying, you can perform a diving charge with a piercing weapon for double damage. Woot!
Level 7: Warblade3 If you're consistently near the back ranks, you can help your wizard tremendously via White Raven Tactics (Tome of Battle 94). Spend a swift action to give him another round immediately following your turn. (WRT has a 10' range, mind you.) Have him buff you or take out an important target.
Level 8: Warblade4 You gain Leaping Dragon Stance (Tome of Battle 88), allowing you to make running jumps as standing jumps and giving you jump 10 more feet per jump.. From now on, jumping should be no problem!
Level 10: Warblade5 By now you should have White Raven Tactics (Tome of Battle 94) to allow your allies extra turns, and Iron Heart Surge (Tome of Battle 68) to ensure most status effects are a thing of the past.
Also, if you're a Raptoran (Races of the Wild 68), you can fly indefinitely with a base speed of 40' (average maneuverability). Yee haw!
To the typical commoner or low-level person, you're effectively a god. Your base land speed doubles from blade dancer (Oriental Adventures 37), you can jump tremendous heights by taking 10, withstand blow after blow that would kill commoners, and kill many if not most things with one attack or a full attack. With the aid of your party, you can do even more!
Things may get easier from here. Your cleric should be able to raise the dead. Your wizard should be able to turn you into unspeakably powerful horrors, and you two should be buddy buddy from all the extra turns you give him. Play style doesn't much change from here on unless you take levels in a different casting or manifesting class.
If you can get a turn, Moment of Alacrity (Tome of Battle 64) almost ensures you go first. Combine with other initiative boosters to improve your odds. If you can do hundreds of damage by jumping on someone by this point, more than enough to kill them, you're nearly invincible. Beware forced share pain and other effects that damage you based on damage you deal, and of course, falling rocks!
Level 12 If you're a Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8), you can fly indefinitely with a base speed of 30' (average maneuverability). Yee haw!
You're effectively a superhero or supervillain by this point, able to make lesser gods cringe at the thought of losing initiative to you. You may be able to jump into the atmosphere with your leet skillz and come down with the force of a meteor. By level 20, you should be able to down any creature vulnerable to stabbity death with one full attack. More likely, you can do over 1000 damage per turn far before level 20, much to the ire of your DM.
Play style throughout these levels is mostly the same as Phase III: Jump to epic heights onto your foe, trigger Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42), watch problems explode, and repeat as prudent.
You also get Raging Mongoose (Tome of Battle 89) in this phase for 2 extra attacks. By the time you get it, each additional attack should add hundreds of damage if it hits. This is probably overkill, but better to do an extra thousand damage and ensure something dies than to die to it because it still had 3 HP. Like the saying goes, "There's no kill like overkill!"
Once upon a time, there was once a girl named Ebony. (There's no particular reason for this; I just liked the name.) Ebony lived in a major city, employed as a scout, thug, and smuggler. Life was rough for her: She completed her missions, but always managed to get seriously hurt. Her guild's healers grew tired of spending their cures on her, until one day...
There was a cleric who favored Ebony. In exchange for certain services, he brought her into the faith. (Perhaps he was a cleric of Wee Jas who would later teach her how to spend her massive number of turning attempts to gain equally large numbers of swift actions per round as a ruby knight vindicator.) This union, however, was not meant to be. He was a high ranking cleric, optimized enough to make planar shepherds cry, while she was a lowly acolyte. Tired of being bossed around, she slipped away into the night.
Ebony was heartbroken. In her dreams, she saw terrible, horrible creatures reaching into her chest, taking her bloody heart, kissing her on the lips, and tearing off her face. Then the world turned to explosive ice cream.
She soon got over it. She found solace in meditation and decided to focus on training in melee combat just so she could kick the crap out of future 'lovers.' She knew she didn't want to be so close that she could smell the rank of bandit breath. It wasn't long before she settled on a polearm, though for emergencies she would need something shorter. She wasn't about to touch some slob with her bare fists. She instead settled on armor spikes and grinned as she realized no drunken bastard would try to hug her.
With this, she jumped for joy, realized a wall was about to smack her in the face, and managed to do an acrobatic flip off of it. She experimented with running along walls and realized just how useful this could be! Unfortunately...
Ebony continued her acrobatics and learned to combine wall runs, wall jumps, and and a maneuver she called 'Death from Above!!!' The city guards were always surprised to find someone who emphasized the vertical. Ebony, in some versions of the tale, could not hit any of them reliably; however, she was able to distract the guards while her posse did their deeds and she escaped in a spectacular fashion.
Ebony realized she had trained broadly- pardon the pun- and needed to emphasize her polearm training. She was furous she had worked so hard and missed basic tidbits about accuracy. She was able to channel her anger into making faster, more accurate attacks while keeping a mostly level head. Things went well for her until the time she thought she went in over her head in the arena.
Through means better left to your imagination, Ebony found herself in a 1 on 1 match with the city's champion gladiator. He wore furs on the hottest of days and wielded a giant sword in both hands. Some believed he was a mutant or machine. Some believed he was descended from an unknown god. No one believed he was a plot device.
No rumors would stop Ebony. She didn't care about the fame, but the cash prize was too tempting. Armed with her trusty polearm, she outmaneuvered the brute until he dodged her wall jump. Was she so famous that every fighter in the city knew her tricks? She sighed and remembered her meditation. She kept him out of range, jabbing and tripping him, though he simply refused to drop! She went for another wall jump and he jumped to meet her, smacking her face first into the other side of the arena!
She rolled out of the way of his charge, and when he lept at her, she thrust her polearm up at him, impaling his groin. He cried in pain like an animal, but with a higher voice than usual, then passed out with a loud thud.
She panted, bloody and bruised, as she had downed him, finally! The crowd cheered and began chanting, "Kill him, kill him!"
The arena pit boss had a dilemma, and it wasn't whether to laugh manically or sue because someone saw his face instead of an ominous shadow. He had to decide what would happen to his 'new' champion. She was different, a performer and a warrior, but her style wasn't bringing in the people it once did. He needed someone to dazzle the crowds, someone people could call a fighter and not just a dancer. He needed someone like his old champion- no, better. He knew just how to do it.
Ebony began her daily training in the arena's facilities. Finding a warrior willing to face her was easy. Finding someone who had a chance became harder by the day. The pit boss kept illusion doubles of all his fighters for training purposes and this time she would face herself.
The fight went as she expected, a near stalemate, until her double used the interrupt jump of the former champion to toss her neatly across the floor! She got the point quickly. She remembered studying the former champion's maneuvers and stances and melded his style with hers.
From here, there are varying versions of the tale. Most say she continued per victorious arena streak. Some claim she became a wizard and renounced her life in the arena. Some believe she disappeared and lives under a new identity as a bard. Some even say she returned to her guild in a higher position, pun intended.
Charge Damage Multipliers -Battle Jump (2x) -Diving Charge (2x): Requires a you wield a piercing weapon and that you be either a 5HD Raptoran or 6HD Dragonborn -Halberd of Vaulting (2x) -Headlong Rush (2x) -Spirited Charge (2x while mounted) -Valorous Weapon (2x) OR Valorous Lance (3x while mounted)
Power Attack Multipliers NOTE: Power Attack normally gives double your accuracy penalty to damage when wielding a weapon two-handed. Leap Attack has errata to instead give quadruple your accuracy penalty as bonus damage for 2 handed weapons and is thus listed as (4x PA).
-Combat Brute (2x PA) -Leap Attack (4x PA)
STR Bonus Multipliers -Power Lunge (2x STR): Normally you'd get 1.5x your STR mod, meaning Power Lunge instead gives you 2.5x. -More arms (+.5x STR per arm)
Bring on the Pain! Let's assume near-ideal conditions: You're wielding a Halberd of Vaulting (Arms & Equipment Guide 109) that's been modified to instead act as a lance. It has the Valorous enchant (Unapproachable East 54), and you're able to trigger Battle Jump and Leap Attack, but not Combat Brute, Headlong Rush, or Diving Charge. Since you apparently have no choice, Power Lunge also triggers.
Not including Power Attack or criticals, your charge does quadruple (4x) damage! Suddenly, a meager d8+14 damage does 4d8+56, per attack! (+6 from STR, +4 from Power Lunge, +4 from a +4 weapon - all quadrupled)
Wanna see how Power Attack beefs this up? If not, stop reading and spare your delicate eyes.
Using the same d8+14 damage (+6 is from STR), let's Power Attack for 5. You deal 4d8+136 per hit! (+20 from Power Attack, +6 from STR, +4 from Power Lunge, +4 from a +4 weapon - all quadrupled)
These are modest numbers which may be slightly inaccurate. If you wanna get fancy, read on!
Let's assume all bonuses listed above apply and you're level 20. Someone changed you into a firbolg from Monster Manual II 101 and you have +5 STR from levels (assuming stat increases every 4 levels are unnamed bonuses and not ability score replacements), +5 STR from tomes, and an item of +6 STR for a total of 52 STR for a +21 STR bonus. You're wielding a +5 weapon in 4 arms via girallon's blessing from Spell Compendium 106. You could arm wrestle lesser gods and have a chance at winning.
You're using your trusty Valorous Lance of Vaulting in an ideal unmounted case; Diving Charge, Battle Jump, Combat Brute, full Power Attack - the works. You do d8+57 damage base - before Power Attack, Power Lunge, etc.- but let's tack on s'more options. Power Lunge increases this by 21, Power Attacking for 16 by 80, and your other charge damage multipiers make this full attack do septuple (7x) damage.
Each of your 7 attacks (4 base, +1 haste, +2 Raging Mongoose) does an impressive 7d8+1118 WITHOUT a critical hit! You can do this every other round, conditions permitting as you need a turn to refresh Raging Mongoose. If everything hits for full, you'll down a great wyrn prismatic dragon in one round. To put this damage in perspective, there is no officially published creature that has more than about 3000 HP. To quote Tempest Stormwind, "Line up the deities!"
If your DM insists stat boosts from levels don't transfer to polymorph forms, you "only" have a 47 STR or "only" a +18 STR bonus. You do d8+50 base damage instead of d8+57. If your DM also says stat bonuses from tomes don't work either, you have "merely" 42 STR or "merely" a +16 STR bonus. You do d8+45 base damage. Regardless, the damage difference is practically unnoticeable when you do so much.
(I'm well aware this isn't the highest melee damage build available, but I find it respectable. See the Hulking Hurler for astronomical damage or the Circle Mower for super high damage without magic items.)
Build #1: The Powertool (Power Attack Craziness)Show
Stats 13 STR (Power Attack) 14 INT or +2 skill points/level if you want to get everything at the earliest opportunity. If you can wait, 10 INT is the bare minimum, but you'll miss out. 14 WIS (Up the Walls)
Skills -Max Jump and Tumble. -Maxing Concentration is wise so you can use Diamond Mind maneuvers to greatest effect.
Alignment -You need a nonlawful alignment to enter barbarian and retain raging. -You need a nonevil alignment to become and stay Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 15).
This build should be playable from level 1 on, though you need time to grow into it. Any race will do, but I recommend half-orc for Headlong Rush and Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) or some method like gliding to negate falling damage.
[b]![/b]If entering warblade would NOT give you an experience penalty, instead take another feat. While Leap of the Heavens ([i]Player's Handbook II[/i] 80) effectively allows you to treat standing jumps as running jumps, Leaping Dragon Stance ([i]Tome of Battle[/i] 88) gives you the same thing at level 8.
Other feats to take here are prerequisites or [url=http://www.d20srd.org/srd/feats.htm#cleave]Cleave[/url].
Stats 13 STR (Power Attack) 15 DEX (Dodge  and Two-Weapon Fighting ) 14 INT or +2 skill points/level if you want to get everything at the earliest opportunity. If you can wait, 10 INT is the bare minimum, but you'll miss out. 14 WIS (Up the Walls)
Skills -Max Jump and Tumble. -Maxing Concentration is wise so you can use Diamond Mind maneuvers to greatest effect.
Alignment -You need a nonlawful alignment to enter barbarian and retain raging. -You need a nonchaotic alignment to enter blade dancer at level 11. -You need a nonevil alignment to become and stay Dragonborn..
This build should be playable from level 1 on, though you need time to grow into it. Any race will do, but I recommend half-orc for Headlong Rush and Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) or some method like gliding to negate falling damage.
Stats 13 STR (Power Attack) 13 DEX (Dodge) 14 INT or +2 skill points/level if you want to get everything at the earliest opportunity. If you can wait, 10 INT is the bare minimum, but you'll miss out. 14 WIS (Up the Walls)
Skills -Max Jump and Tumble.
Alignment -You need a nonlawful alignment to enter barbarian and retain raging. -You need a nonchaotic alignment to become a blade dancer. -You need a nonevil alignment to become and stay Dragonborn..
Alignment -You need a nonlawful alignment to enter barbarian and retain raging. -You need a nonchaotic alignment to enter blade dancer at level 10.
This build should be playable from level 1 on, though you need time to grow into it. Any race will do, but I recommend half-orc for Headlong Rush and Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) or some method like gliding to negate falling damage. Nezumi (Oriental Adventures 13) is also spiffy because you get +2 CON, -2 CHA, and a 40' base land speed as a Medium creature for no level adjustment.
Your role with this build is speed at the top end, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! (Really! Blade Dancer doubles your base speed at its first level and triples it at level 10!)
Stats 13 STR (Power Attack) 17 INT+ for wizard spells. You also need 14 base INT at level 1 to fill all skill prerequisites in time. 14 WIS (Up the Walls)
Skills -Max Jump and Tumble. -Max Concentration if you intend to cast in melee range often. -You need enough Spellcraft so you can take 10 on Spellcraft checks to copy spells to your spellbook. Start with 2 ranks at level 1 and add points sparingly over the levels, only getting what you need. A masterwork tool for Spellcraft costs only 50 gold and gives +2.
Alignment -You need a nonlawful alignment to enter barbarian and retain raging. -You need a nonevil alignment to become and stay Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 15).
While this build can be played from level 1 on, I advise this build only if you start around level 8 because of the setup. Unfortunately, this build's arcane power comes in quite late as it's a mishmash of classes for the first 6 to 8 levels and achieves only 15 BAB and wizard base CL 13, or 18 BAB with partial BAB stacking. If you use partial BAB stacking, you can rearrange some things to enter Spellsword sooner. If you're good, you can take sacred exorcist (Complete Divine 57) instead of eldritch knight. I emphasized wizard caster level in this build, neglecting things such as a rogue's Evasion.
Any race will do, but I recommend half-orc for Headlong Rush and Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) or some method like gliding to negate falling damage.
Your role with this build is gargantuan burst damage. Arcane Strike (Complete Warrior 96) and wraithstrike (Complete Adventurer 158) combine for spectacular synergy!
Skills -Max Jump and Tumble. -You need 4 Knowledge (arcana) ranks and 3 Spellcraft ranks for Occult Slayer. Get 2 ranks each from your rogue level. The cleric level is the only level where both of these are class.
Alignment -You need a nonlawful alignment to enter barbarian and retain raging. -You need a nonevil alignment to become and stay Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 15).
This build should be playable from level 1 on, though you need time to grow into it. Assuming no partial BAB stacking, barbarian1 gives your first point of BAB. Since Unearthed Arcana and Tome of Battle are out, fighter levels give you the extra delicious feats which is extra handy since Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) makes fighter an additional favored class.
Any race will do, but I recommend half-orc for Headlong Rush and Dragonborn or some method like gliding to negate falling damage. You also need Dragonborn for the extra favored class without Unearthed Arcana.
If necessary, take barbarian before cleric, change to the appropriate alignment, and stay that way the rest of your career. You may lose rage, but you'll keep your delicious cleric benefits.
Your role with this build is burst damage and to clear areas for the rest of your party to get though. Starting at level 16, you focus more on defense with occult slayer's spell turning. You also show Tome of Battle and Unearthed Arcana aren't so overpowering for a dragoon.
If you believe occult slayer's benefits are worth taking sooner, you can fairly easily rearrange the build to accomodate. Occult slayer lacks Jump and Tumble as class skills!
Stats 13 STR (Power Attack) 16 INT for skills, assuming human. If you aren't human with Able Learner (Races of Destiny 150), you need a much higher INT for the skill points. 12 WIS (clericspells)
Skills -Able Learner is there so you can max Concentration, Diplomacy, Jump, Perform, Sense Motive, and Tumble. -Maxing Concentration is wise so you can use Diamond Mind maneuvers to greatest effect.
Alignment -You need a nonlawful alignment to enter bard and barbarian and to retain raging.
Race -Human for skills and Able Learner (Races of Destiny 150) -If you need Able Learner, DON'T go Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) because you need everything humanity offers!
Your first priority is commanding your teammates and acting as the charismatic and hopefully fearless leader. With them in place, you can proceed to go to town with dragoon smackdown.
This build should be playable from level 1 on, though you need time to grow into it. You focus your pre-Warblade abilities on boosting allies, though Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42), Leap of the Heavens (Player's Handbook II 80), and Pounce allow you to hold your own much of the time
I highly recommend human for the bonus feat and skill points and a favored class of any. This build is MAD (multi-ability dependent), requiring physical stats for damage and survival, 12 INT for skill points (14 for nonhumans), 12 WIS for Cleric spells (recommended), and a high CHA to power your auras. Able Learner (Races of Destiny 150) keeps you sane by allowing you to max Bluff, Diplomacy, Jump, Sense Motive, and Tumble, and if desired, Perform. While you're charismatic, you're focused on being a warrior, not a Diplomancer or Jumplomancer.
If you take Snowflake Wardance (Frostburn 50), you need a slashing weapon you can hold in 1 hand and a way to easily negate or remove fatigue. Ray of resurgence (Lost Empires of Faerun 33) is a handy cleric1 spell that, conveniently, you can cast.
Unlike most dragoon builds, I advise AGAINST being a Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) since you need everything a human has to offer!
Skills -Max Jump and Tumble. -Maxing Concentration is wise so you can use Diamond Mind maneuvers to greatest effect.
Alignment -You need a nonlawful alignment to enter barbarian and retain raging. -You need a nonevil alignment to become and stay Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 15).
Race -You need elven blood. If favored class is a concern, half-elf is your best bet since half-elves are considered elves for all race-dependent effects. -If your DM doesn't enforce favored class penalties, go fire elf for +2 INT and a negligible -2 CHA.
This build should be playable from level 1 on. Unlike most other builds, you start as a strong melee force and continue this way through your career, but you miss out on many options from other builds, like a cleric dip, because you must have a full BAB. Also unlike at least most other builds presented, I only advise you play this build if you start at or near level 20! Island in Time is the only redeeming feature about this build compared to other Hoods!
This build is feat-starved, but requires fewer sources and less multiclassing than a typical Hood build. Taking flaws for extra feats is well-advised.
While Leap of the Heavens ([i]Player's Handbook II[/i] 80) effectively allows you to treat standing jumps as running jumps, Leaping Dragon Stance ([i]Tome of Battle[/i] 88) gives you the same thing at level 7.
[center][b][color=red][u]Maneuvers & Stances[/u][/color][/b][/center] (School & Page): DM62 is a Diamond Mind maneuver on [i]Tome of Battle[/i] page 62. [b][u] Level Maneuvers Gained/Swapped Stance Gained .[/b][/u] W01/I01 Steel Wind  (IH69), Punishing Stance  (IH69) Sudden Leap  (TC89), Wolf Fang Strike  (TC90) W02/I03 Moment of Perfect Mind  (DM64) W03/I04 Leading the Attack  (WR91) W04/I05 SWAP Leading the Attack  for Leaping Dragon Stance  (TC88) White Raven Tactics  (WR94) W05/I06 Iron Heart Surge  (IH68) W06/I07 SWAP Wolf Fang Strike  for Bounding Assault  (DM62) W07/I08 Action Before Thought  (DM62) E01/I09 Rapid Counter  (DM65) E02/I10 Dancing Mongoose  (TC86) E03/I11 Moment of Alacrity  (DM64) E04/I12 E05/I13 Mind Over Body  (DM64) Hearing the Air  (DM63) E07/I15 Quicksilver Motion  (DM65) E08/I18 Raging Mongoose  (TC89) E09/I17 Time Stands Still  (DM66) Stance of Alacrity  (DM65) E10/I18 .
Build #8: The Trancer (Backup Arcanist, Wizard Gish, Arcane Strike Craziness, and no Tome of Battle)Show
Skills -Max Jump and Tumble. -I assume you put 2 ranks in Concentration and Spellcraft at level 1 then put only 1 point per level in each afterward. -Use your extra skill points from Ruathar to get the 6 needed Knowledge (arcana) ranks for Spellsword.
Alignment -You need a nonlawful alignment to enter barbarian and retain raging. -You need a nonevil alignment to become and stay Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 15).
Race -I most strongly recommend Dragonborn fire elf as listed above or Dragonborn nezumi (Oriental Adventures 13). Nezumi gives +2 CON, -2 CHA and has a 40' base land speed as a Medium creature. Only go nezumi if you won't suffer favored class penalties and you need CON more than INT!
Alternate Levels -Taking wizard5 gives an extra fighter feat but slows your BAB progression. You'd need partial BAB stacking to get 16 BAB by level 20.
You are a glass cannon with lots of buffs to boost your AC and give enemies a flat miss chance against you. You can fill the role of backup arcanist assuming your armor has no arcane spell failure and you have the cash to spend on armor, weapons, and spells. Most the time you're better off leaving the heavy wizardry- especially spells with saves and metamagic- to full-time wizards.
You rely on magic to the point of being nearly useless in an antimagic field, but oh the damage you can deal! Oh the spells you can cast! Oh the options you have!
If you don't like your physical stats, change them! Polymorph into a girallon for 4 arms and 22 base STR. Alter self into a troglodyte for +6 natural AC. Check the links in the first post for spell recommendations and delicious forms for polymorph and such. Just be careful about changing your form because you'll lose your Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) gliding ability and +10 racial Jump bonus!
Because you are so wizardly, you can use offensive spells as well as buffs. Don't just stab the night away! Instead, cast Evard's black tentacles to occupy most the foes in a fight, then pick off the foes with your epic dragoon leaps. You'll have spell slots to burn: Arcane Strike (Complete Warrior 96) and wraithstrike (Complete Adventurer 158) combine for spectacular synergy, especially since Arcane Strike's damage's only upper limit is the spell slots you invest!
If you absolutely, positively have to reach that dragon who's flying away at full speed, teleport above him, high enough to trigger Battle Jump, then subdue him for all you're worth! Alternatively, teleport your party onto his back and let them help. First, however, ensure everyone has mass fly (Spell Compendium 96).
You aren't a typical wizard who needs to hide in back because of your frailty, the type whose skin may dissolve if someone poured a bit too much chlorine in the pool. Instead, you can use Sudden Shift (Player's Handbook II 68) to fly to a convenient height then thrust downward onto foes with moves that would make Toon Link cry. For most your career, you gain spells 1 character level behind a full wizard. Smart foes may wonder if the blurry, displaced, many-imaged, 6-armed menace they see that just impaled their heads cast those spells himself.
Skills -Max Jump and Tumble. -Maxing Concentration is wise so you can use Diamond Mind maneuvers to greatest effect. -To qualify for Practiced Spellcaster, you need 4 Spellcraft ranks no later than level 3 -To qualify for Ruby Knight Vindicator, you need 8 Knowledge (religion) ranks, 4 Hide ranks, and 4 Intimidate ranks no later than level 5.
Alignment -You need a nonlawful alignment to enter barbarian and retain raging. -You need a nonevil alignment to become and stay Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 15).
Race -You need elven blood for eternal blade. If favored class is a concern, half-elf is your best bet since half-elves are considered elves for all race-dependent effects. -If your DM doesn't enforce favored class penalties, go fire elf for +2 INT and a negligible -2 CHA.
Deity -I assume you can adapt Ruby Knight Vindicator to any deity with little trouble. If you can't, your domain choices and feat allocations change.
Misc -I hope you're an expert at keeping your abilities straight! You have 3 initiator classes and a spell list! Adaptive Style in thie build is for your sanity, but you don't need it like a full swordsage.
You start as a bruiser, begging to be hit. With your trusty halberd, you can probably one-shot foes at level 1 from d10 halberd + d6 Punishing Stance damage. You continue as a front-liner, never getting less than d8 HP per level. Eventually, you're effective at noticing foes via blindsense from Hearing the Air, and if you cast blindsight or greater blindsight (Spell Compendium 32), you're even better at finding foes.
You're a front-liner who can stand there and take it, or do amazing acrobatics and down foes faster than you can say, "Hey DM, do I get a free Intimidate check against the minions in the room since I did 400 damage to something with 20 HP?"
You have many options for your swift actions. Defensive Rebuke tells boss mobs, "Attack me or you provoke. If I don't roll a 1, I kill you. By the way, I can reroll that natural 1." Later, you can kill things faster with Dancing Mongoose or Raging Mongoose. If you can get into convenient position, Time Stands Still allows you to attack 8 times from BAB +2 attacks from Whirling Frenzy +4 attacks from Raging Mongoose and maybe +2 attacks from haste. If it ain't dead by then, you're probably in tremendous trouble. You can move as a swift action from Travel Devotion.
You could take the Planning domain (Spell Compendium 278) for Extend spell, nab Persistent Spell (Complete Arcane 81) and Divine Metamagic: Persistent (Complete Divine 80) to make (mass) lesser vigor (Spell Compendium 229) last all day, possibly healing you fully between fights.
As a judgment call, I chose Time Stands Still at level 20 instead of Strike of Righteous Vitality, though you can get either for short periods with Eternal Training. Time Stands Still is more generally useful, and you should have a cleric or someone to heal you between fights.
Stance-wise, I chose Stance of Alacrity instead of Immortal Fortitude since being able to use an immediate action as an instantaneous action (a free action when it isn't your turn) rocketh. Immortal Fortitude, however, ensures you just can't die from HP damage. I leave the choice to you, however, and you could take Martial Stance at level 18 for both stances, but you'd lose Raging Mongoose. Ah, the possibilities.
Class-wise, ask your DM if you can take the unarmed swordsage variant (Tome of Battle 20) to get you Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat, just in case you're disarmed or somsone breaks your polearm, then you can go psycho, just like Roy.
Keeping your blade guide in your line of effect may be troublesome, considering your awesome leaps and that a wall of force blocks line of effect. (By the rules as written, an antimagic field doesn't block line of effect.) You'll probably only have your guide for the first round of combat, but considering your awesome damage output, how much more do you need?
You can rearrange things for different goals. This assumes your DM interprets initiator level as I do, that prestige classes add their full class level to your initiator level (IL) for Crusader, Swordsage, and Warblade, even if you haven't taken a level in that class yet. I consider this balanced since level 9 maneuvers are about equal in power to level 6 spells.
You gain clerical spellcasting ability. By level 20, you can cast up to level 4 cleric spells with a caster level of 12. Chosen properly, these are modest boons that make you more self-reliant.
I wanted to take rogue2 for Evasion, but a ]Ring of Evasion is 25,000 gold. Buy one if you need it.
I wanted to include Mettle in this build, but maneuvers kept calling to me. With the meh feats True Believer (Complete Divine 81) and Weapon Focus in your deity's favored weapon, you can get Mettle from pious templar1 (Complete Divine 50). Considering spells with "Fortitude half," "Will partial," or the like are so rare, it's a minor loss.
*This feat can be retaken. **This feat can be retaken with stacking effects.
Additional Favored Class (Unearthed Arcana 100)
If your DM is lenient and nixes favored classes, you don't need this. Even playing with favored classes, you should be able to arrange your build so you don't need this. Ask your DM if you can swap your favored class to a thematically similar one, such as from barbarian/fighter/ranger to warblade or rogue to swordsage.
Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42) [Fighter]: Requires you be from Taer, ONLY available at level 1; May require 2 Knowledge (local: Rashemen) ranks
While this feat doesn't entirely make you a dragoon, it gives you significant progress. Plead with your DM if necessary to allow this for your dragoon!
This feat is only available to level 1 characters from the Taer region. In Player's Guide to Faerun 31, the Taer region was condensed into the Icerim Mountains, and characters from Icerim are typically only creatures of the Taer race. (The Taer/Icerim Mountain region's local knowledge is Rashemen for some reason.) Player's Guide to Faerun 7-8 says races and subraces are typically restricted to a specific region, like humans from human lands. Being from another region may require DM approval, though by the rules as written don't need it. Unapproachable East 40 states characters with 2 ranks of Knowledge (local) in the appropriate region may select regional feats from that region.
In short, take 2 ranks of Knowledge (local: Rashemen) and ask your DM to be safe.
Note how Battle Jump states, "You can execute a charge simply by dropping from a height of at least 5 feet above your opponent" (Unapproachable East 42). It doesn't specify that you must use a specific action, like a standard action to do so. By my interpretation of the rules as written, you can, with a high enough movement speed and Jump check, repeatedly hurl yourself at your foes every turn until they die, using only movement speed to execute charges. Your DM will probably smack you or otherwise limit you if you try this, but the thought reminds me of Mario pogo-jumping around the battlefield!
This helps none against single big baddies, but in most cases against small groups, the extra attack matters just enough.
Combat Brute (Complete Warrior 110) [Fighter, Tactical]: Requires Improved Sunder, Power Attack, 6 BAB Power Attack him for at least 5 the round after. On the round after you charge, the Power Attack damage bonus from wielding your polearm two-handed is 3x the penalty instead of 2x. (Taking a penalty of 6 gives you a damage bonus of 18 if you hit.)>
You'll probably do this anyway, meaning you should get extra damage while you're at it. Power Attack damage bonuses escalate quickly if you have more than 2 arms, such as being polymorphed into a girallon. Unfortunately, Combat Brute requires the icky Improved Sunder feat.
It's +1 dodge AC against one opponent. It may make a difference, but Dodge is mostly a prereq for blade dancer (Oriental Adventures 37) and Spring Attack. If you can, instead take Expeditious Dodge from Races of the Wild 150.
Expeditious Dodge (Races of the Wild 150) [Fighter]: Requires 13 DEX
Considering your mobility, it's significantly better than Dodge and it counts as Dodge in terms of prerequisites! I still normally wouldn't take Expeditious Dodge, but it's better than the original.
Great Cleave's usefulness comes only with hordes of small baddies, and if your DM or local necromancer is smart, he'll order his minions out of convenient Great Cleave formation.
As a dragoon, however, you should have long reach and high damage output. If you happen to wield a 20' lance and have a 10' reach with your armor spikes, suddenly most of the enemy horde is fair game. Regardless, Great Cleave is highly DM-dependent.
Greater Powerful Charge [Fighter] (Eberron Campaign Setting 54): Requires Medium or bigger size, Powerful Charge (Eberron Campaign Setting 57), 4 BAB
This feat is of dubious worth because it's mostly an early-game damage buff. Ask your DM if this feat's damage bonus applies to every attack of a pouncing charge. (I believe it should.)
Only orcs and half-orcs get this, but this is a major perk for orcish dragoons. (The picture on this page is the stupidest I've seen for D&D.)
If as a non-orc you have the resources to burn, Savage Species 148 lists the Minor Ritual of Association to gain the (orc) subtype. It costs 63.000 gold (7,000 for the casting fees and 56,000 for ritual components) as well as 2240 experience. I advise against it, since you should be able to buy much better stuff with that money. Ask your DM if you could drastically reduce that cost to a more reasonable amount, or about 6300 gold and no experience.
It's like the keen edge spell on your polearm in permanent feat form. If you rely on crits, and many mid- and late-game critters are resistant or immune, and you have a spare feat, this may be worthwhile. As a dragoon, you're probably better off with keen edge and saving a feat.
It's thematically appropriate to want to knock someone back so they provoke attacks of opportunity by moving through your threatened area, but someone with pounce, such as via Lion Totem Barbarian (Complete Champion 46), can already start a bull rush as part of a charge, also getting a full attack. There's synergy with Combat Brute (Complete Warrior 110) since you get +1 accuracy and damage for each 5' you knock a foe back with bull rush, but by the time you get the 4 requisite feats, the synergy will be minor.
The only way to qualify for this feat is with magic (polymorph, permanent enlarge person), taking a level adjustment. The level 1-only feat Jotunbrud from Races of Faerun 166 may also qualify you, but it requires you be human. Knockback's trick is nifty, but it's especially niche, hence the red rating.
Knowledge Devotion (Complete Champion 60): Requires 5 ranks in any Knowledge
As a feat, the Knowledge Devotion is slightly better than Weapon Focus, though it requires being trained in the appropriate Knowledge skill and more at-table tracking. You're better off taking a cloistered cleric and getting this instead of the Knowledge domain.
You need 5 ranks in Knowledge (planes) for Neraph Charge (Planar Handbook 40) and 5 ranks in Knowledge (religion) for a bonus turning attempt with a Relinquary Holy Symbol (Magic Item Compendium 120). Dragoons with their first level in rogue find 5 ranks of Knowledge (local) convenient, and dragoons beginning as warblades find 5 ranks in Knowledge (history) convenient.
You may already deal loads of damage. If your accuracy is high enough to regularly spare some for Power Attack, go right ahead. If you're facing creatures with stats straight from a Monster Manual, you most likely won't need the damage boost.
Leap of the Heavens (Player's Handbook II 80): Requires 4 Jump ranks
This feat is excellent if you play in games where items granting massive Jump bonuses are rare or impractical. The Leaping Dragon stance (Tome of Battle 88, Tiger Claw3) lets you to treat standing jumps as running jumps and gives you a continual +10 enhancement Jump. If you can retrain feats and intend to take Leaping Dragon, Leap of the Heavens is almost a no-brainer!
From my understanding, this feat is the same as the goliath's Mountain Movement. It sure kicks the crap odda the epic feat Legendary Leaper!
Leap of the Heavens's usefulness probably diminishes as the game progresses because eventually your Jump check will be so high that an extra 10, 20, or 40 to the DC won't matter much, especially if you can glide from being a raptoran ([i}Races of the Wild[/i] 68) or Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8). It still may be viable for the Boing Boing trick. (See the Battle Jump feat description.)
Martial Stance (Tome of Battle 31) [Fighter]: Requires 1 martial maneuver, otherwise qualifying for the stance
Stance usefulness varies greatly, hence the black rating.
Considering your mobile nature, this may be valuable as something more than a prereq for blade dancer (Oriental Adventures 37) and Spring Attack, but there are far better feats.
Neraph Charge (Planar Handbook 40): Requires 15 WIS, 5 Knowledge (planes) ranks Planar Handbook 13), denying a foe his DEX bonus to AC for your attack.>
This works only once per foe per encounter and your opponent must see you, making it a low priority feat. I wanted to rate this blue, but its high requirements and use limits make this a merely OK feat for most dragoons.
Neraphim (Planar Handbook 13) can take this feat and seemingly use their racial charge and the Neraph Charge feat once each per foe per encounter.
For many, this is a key to your build and a way to squeeze more damage from well-planned attacks. With a proper setup, you can get amazing returns on Power Attack, at least 10 damage for each point of accuracy you lose! You also need it for Leap Attack and certain other feats.
With a high enough damage output, however, Power Attack becomes merely a placeholder feat. Its viability varies greatly, hence its black rating.
Ordered Chaos (Fiendish Codex I 86): Requires nonchaotic alignment, base Will save of 4
If for some reason you want to be considered chaotic and nonchaotic simultaneously, this is your feat. For almost everyone, this is a waste.
If you desperately want this effect as your level 3 feat, ask your DM if you can remove the base will save requirement or have psychic warrior have a strong will save instead.
Powerful Charge [Fighter] (Eberron Campaign Setting 57): Requires Medium or bigger size, 1 BAB
Though the majority your attacks will be charges, this is mostly useful early-game. If you intend to play a dragoon no higher than about level 10, Powerful Charge may be worthwhile. Ask your DM if this damage applies to every attack made with a pouncing charge. (I believe it should.)
Power Lunge (Ghostwalk 37 and Sword and Fist 8) [Fighter]: Requires BAB 3, Power Attack The Ghostwalk version is identical to Sword and Fist's except it also a [Fighter] feat.>
This is a cheap, easy way to get extra damage, especially when your reach is greater than your opponent's! Seemingly, you can choose to deal extra damage on a charge in exchange for provoking an attack of opportunity.
This doesn't fit the dragoon style; you're meant to jump off walls, mounts, and orbital satelites to inflict massive stabbity death, not turn corners!
Shock Trooper (Complete Warrior 112) [Fighter, Tactical]: Requires Improved Bull Rush, Power Attack, 6 BAB Power Attack him for at least 5. Instead of taking the accuracy penalty from Power Attack, you can instead take the penalty to your AC. This effect lasts one round.>
You can reliably hit with Power Attack! (Holy cathedrals, Batman!) You should also be far enough away that the AC penalty won't matter much. Remember that this penalty also applies to touch AC!
You're already feat tight and an extra 10' matters much more in the early game. If you want to try setting land speed records at level 6, this is a better investment. Overall, you're probably better saving your feats for damage boosters.
If you're a mounted dragoon, this is rightfully blue for its awesomeness and it's still a navy for unmounted dragoons with a knack for riding, a flying mount, and the proper gear. Double charge damage while mounted or triple if using a lance? Prereq feats that don't suck for a mounted dragoon?
This is especially useful for combining mounted and unmounted dragoon styles. See the Limit Lancer trick below.The Limit Lancer Trick: Combining Mounted & Unmounted StylesShow
Use Ride-By Attack with a polearm, activate your Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62), jump off your mount and onto the foe, and pretend it's a Final Fantasy limit break!
If you're a Raptoran (Races of the Wild 68) or Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) and have a flying mount, you can assumedly ride-by, order your mount to fly 30' above your opponent, then dive bomb your foe at exactly 30' for the diving charge double damage plus Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42) and charge bonuses. Woot!
Just be careful you can land or glide back onto your mount to repeat the process next turn.
For a dragoon, either this sucks or rocks. It rocks if you can Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42) onto someone to trigger a charge then move away, similar to the Final Fantasy dragoons. (If your DM rules this way, Spring Attack's rating changes to navy.)
My interpretation of Spring Attack as written is "move, attack once, move," and if that's the case, Spring Attack is only slightly useful beyond a prereq for blade dancer (Oriental Adventures 37).
Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62)
While you should probably trade in your Travel domain, this devotion is worthy of a feat. This is like hustle in feat form!
You qualify via warblade6, but even then Weapon Specialization is of dubious worth as a feat. You should be doing ludicrous amounts of damage without this, and +2 damage is barely noticeable after a short while.
Blade Meditation (Tome of Battle 29): Requires 1 Concentration rank, 4 BAB, 1 martial maneuver <+1 damage with preferred weapons when using martial strikes of that discipline, +1 DC on maneuvers from chosen discipline, +2 on key discipline skill>
Normally this feat is at least average, but you'll probably have no White Raven strikes by the time you qualify. Even then, the bonus is negligible.
All synergy bonuses are from 5 ranks in the appropriate skill.
BalanceSynergy: +2 from Tumble Chances are you'll charge over uneven or slick terrain and falling foolishly, however comical, is no remedy for killing your opponent. I've rarely encountered Balance checks, but Balance's usefulness is DM-dependent.
One significant bonus is having 5 Balance ranks prevents you from being flat-footed while balancing, such as on slippery floors or grease patches.
ClimbSynergy: +2 from Use Rope Early in your career at least you'll need to climb to higher ground to jump onto your foes. Late-game, you may need to climb riduculous heights in areas magic won't function. It probably isn't worth maxing- check the skill tricks section below first- but you should have some ranks in Climb.
Concentration Gaining a psionic focus is a DC20 Concentration check. Moment of Perfect Mind (Tome of Battle 64) replaces your Will save with a Concentration check. Max this!
Also, you may need to roll Concentration to manifest or cast within an enemy's threat range.
Escape ArtistSynergy: +2 vs ropes from Use Rope You need ranks for a skill trick, but you shouldn't get entangled or grappled. Escape Artist is purely for backup.
Hide In early to mid game, staying undetected means staying alive. If you start with Hide as a class skill, invest at least 4 ranks in this.
IntimidateSynergy: +2 from Bluff Aside from meeting prereqs, you shouldn't be near enough long enough to opponents to make them tremble. Cause them to flee because you impaled their leader with one jump, not because you're charismatic.
Knowledge (local: Rashemen) If you want Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42), you may need 2 ranks of this to qualify as any race. (See the SBlock Battle Jump Fine Print above for details.) If you intend to get the feat Knowledge Devotion (Complete Champion 60), this is an easy way to get 5 ranks to qualify since rogues have Knowledge (local) as class.
Knowledge (religion) If you prefer a more useful knowledge than local, try religion; almost every campaign involves NPC/enemy clerics, gods, and undead. Also, 5 ranks lets you to get 1 additional turn attempt from a Relinquary Holy Symbol (Magic Item Compendium 120).
Listen Listen is normally good to have and may save your life, but you should only max it if you have spare skill points.
Move Silently In early to mid game, staying undetected means staying alive. If you start with Move Silently as a class skill, invest at least 4 ranks in this.
RideSynergy: +2 from Handle Animal This skill is merely OK for nonmounted dragoons but vital (blue) for mounted dragoons. As a primarly melee character, you may need to resort to something faster than you (perish the thought!) to arrive at your target in time to inflict stabbity death, or use a flying mount as an orbital platform from which to use Spirited Charge to activate the Limit Lancer trick. (See the Spirited Charge feat description for details.)
Search If you start with Search as a class skill and have Trapfinding, you can at least find traps at early levels.
While generally handy to have, save it for the true skill monkeys.
SpellcraftSynergy: +2 from Knowledge (arcana) You can identify spells being cast by your allies and enemies. It's helpful to have so you know whether to go all out on someone about to cast, but generally leave this for the true casters.
Seriously, Spot is useful and may save your life, but max it only if you have points to spare.
TumbleSynergy: +2 from Jump Non-winged dragoons need this so they don't kill themselves jumping. Winged dragoons have less need for this, but still require 12 ranks to enter Blade Dancer (Oriental Adventures 37).
Those pursuing the Flame's Blessing stance (Tome of Battle 53, Desert Wind1) need 9 ranks for 10 fire resist, 14 ranks for 15 fire resist, and 19 ranks for fire immunity.
Finally, a high enough Tumble negates attacks of opportunity garnered from Headlong Rush (Races of Faerun 164).
Jump Ranks 1 Rank: If you pass a Jump check, you can choose to land on your feet. 4 Ranks: You qualify for the feat Leap of the Heavens (Player's Handbook II 80). 5 Ranks: You get +2 on Tumble checks. 5 Ranks: You qualify for the skill trick Extreme Leap (Complete Scoundrel 86). 5 Ranks: If you also have 5 Climb ranks, you qualify for the skill trick Leaping Climber (Complete Scoundrel 87). 5 Ranks: If you also have 5 Balance ranks, you qualify for the skill trick Up the Hill (Complete Scoundrel 90). 5 Ranks: If you also have 5 Climb ranks, you qualify for the skill trick Wall Jumper (Complete Scoundrel 90). 20 Ranks: You qualify for the epic feat Epic Skill Focus. 24 Ranks: You qualify for the epic feat Legendary Leaper.
Jump Results 10 Result: You can make a 10' long jump with a 20' running start, enough to trigger Leap Attack (Complete Adventurer 110). 20 Result: You can make a 10' long jump without a running start, enough to trigger Leap Attack (Complete Adventurer 110). 20 Result: With a Halberd of Vaulting (Arms & Equipment Guide 109), you can make a vaulting charge with a running start. 40 Result: You can trigger Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42) on a 5' tall or shorter target with a running start. If you also move at least 10' horizontally, you also trigger Leap Attack (Complete Adventurer 110). 40 Result: With a Halberd of Vaulting (Arms & Equipment Guide 109), you can make a vaulting charge without a running start. 80 Result: You can trigger Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42) on a 5' tall or shorter target without a running start. If you also move at least 10' horizontally, you also trigger Leap Attack (Complete Adventurer 110).
Tumble Ranks 1 Rank: You can use the Tumble skill. 4 Ranks: In Flame's Blessing stance (Tome of Battle 53), you have 5 fire resistance. 5 Ranks: You get +2 on Jump checks. 5 Ranks: You qualify for the skill trick Tumbling Crawl (Complete Scoundrel 90). 5 Ranks: If you also have 5 Escape Artist ranks, you qualify for the skill trick Slipping Past (Complete Soundrel 89). 5 Ranks: If you also have 5 Balance ranks, you qualify for the skill trick Up the Hill (Complete Soundrel 90). 5 Ranks: If you also have 12 Climb ranks, you qualify for the skill trick Walk the Walls (Complete Soundrel 90). 8 Ranks: If you also have Power Attack, you qualify for Leap Attack (Complete Adventurer 110). 9 Ranks: In Flame's Blessing stance (Tome of Battle 53), you have 10 fire resistance. 12 Ranks: You qualify for the skill tricks Acrobatic Backstab (Complete Scoundrel 85) and Back on Your Feet (Complete Scoundrel 86). 14 Ranks: In Flame's Blessing stance (Tome of Battle 53), you have 15 fire resistance. 19 Ranks: In Flame's Blessing stance (Tome of Battle 53), you are immune to fire damage. 20 Ranks: You qualify for the epic feat Epic Skill Focus.
Tumble Results 15 Result: You don't provoke attacks of opportunity for moving at half speed past one opponent. 15 Result: You take 1d6 less falling damage. 25 Result: You don't provoke attacks of opportunity for moving at half speed through one opponent's square. 25 Result: You don't provoke attacks of opportunity for moving at full speed past one opponent. 30 Result: You take 2d6 less falling damage. 40 Result: You can take a 10' step instead of a 5' step. Bring on the full attacking scouts! (See Complete Adventurer 11 for more details.) 45 Result: You take 3d6 less falling damage. For each 15 additional points of result, you take 1d6 less falling damage.
Trickin' it Out in the Hood: Skill Tricks for DragoonsShow
NOTE: You can only learn 1 skill trick at each level and may know 1 skill trick per 2 levels rounded up. (You can know up to one trick at L1, up to 2 at L3, up to 3 at L5, and so on.) Each skill trick costs 2 skill points.
Also, you can only use each trick once per encounter or once per minute for noncombat situations unless otherwise specified!
Don't get this unless you often start your climbs with jumps. It's slightly better with Speedy Ascent (Complete Scoundrel 89), but even then, it's probably the worst dragoonish skill trick.
Nimble Stand (Complete Scoundrel 88): Requires 8 Tumble ranks (L5)
If you often land off your feet or find yourself wanting to stand in enemy threat ranges often, take this. This is mostly useful at low levels since with a DC35 Tumble check, you can stand from prone as a free action.
Climbing is rarely a factor and climbing quickly even rarer. Speedy Ascent is slightly more useful with Leaping Climber (Complete Scoundrel 87), but I'd only take this if I had nowhere better to put my skill points.
Spot the Weak Point (Complete Scoundrel 89): Requires 12 Spot ranks (L9)
You need to invest heavily in Spot then you must spend a standard action and pass a Spot check. It's only viable in emergencies.
The most important aspects of a dragoon's race are, in this approximate order:
-Gliding/Wings -Large or bigger size -Medium or bigger size -STR bonuses -Jump/Tumble bonuses -CON bonuses -DEX/INT/WIS bonuses -Darkvision -Low-light vision -Racial bonuses, such as racial traits and race-only feats
Dwarf: Humanoid, +2 CON, -2 CHA, Medium, 20' Walk, Favored: Fighter, No LA Even with the Quick trait, these are suboptimal as dragoons. If you're stuck with core races, play a human instead.
Elf [Dragonborn High Elf]: Humanoid (dragonblood), Medium, 30' Walk, Favored: Fighter & Wizard, No LA See my spiel near in the templates secion about the Dragonborn template (Races of the Dragon 8). Most often, this race setup is a step down from a Raptoran (Races of the Wild 68) but will do in a pinch if Raptorans are banned. At least you have no stat penalties.
Goliath (Races of Stone 84): Monstrous Humanoid, +4 STR, -2 DEX, +2 CON, Medium (Powerful Build), 30' Walk, Favored: Barbarian, 1 LA Scroll down on this page to Mountain Movement. You can make running jumps without running, an ability even better than Legendary Leaper! (The feat Leap of the Heavens in Player's Handbook II 80 does effectively the same thing as Mountain Movement.) Powerful Build allows you to use Large weapons, though with the reach of a Medium creature. Unfortunately, the goliath level adjustment and racial traits make it a merely OK race.
You may be within redemption, however. If you want to wield Huge weapons for 1 more LA (though with Large reach) and your DM won't hurt you for it, take Half-Minotaur (Dragon 313 94). From Half-Minotaur alone, you get +12 STR/-2 DEX/+6 CON, some from the template and some from the size increase. See the templates section below for more details.
Half-Giant: Giant (psionic), +2 STR, -2 DEX, +2 CON, Medium (Powerful Build), 30' Walk, Favored: Psychic Warrior, 1 LA Half-giants are second-rate goliaths for dragoons; Powerful Build but no Mountain Movement. Half-giants are psionic, allowing them to get Up the Walls at level 1, though I still recommend a level or 2 of psychic warrior.
Half-Orc: Humanoid, +2 STR, -2 INT, -2 CHA, Medium, 30' Walk, Favored: Barbarian, No LA Half-orcs over the long-term don't get entirely shafted. As a half-orc, you can get the feat Headlong Rush and nab Half-Orc Paragon2 for the ability to rage while lawful, though doing so is rarely worthwhile in non-gestalt games.
I admit though, there isn't much more reason to take an untemplated half-orc. Humans are probably the best race in the early game because of the feat crunch, and as a half-orc your skill progression is slowed from -2 INT. If Headlong Rush is available, however, half-orcs outpace humans, and if the Dragonborn template (Races of the Dragon 8) is available, you have one of the best races for a dragoon.
However, with some slight modifications, you can become...
Half-Orc, Uberfied [QuickDragonborn Half-Minotaur [color=blue]Water Half-Orc][/color]: Humanoid (dragonblood), +14 STR, -4 DEX, +8 CON, -4 INT, -2 CHA, 2 NA, Large, 50' Walk, 50' Swim, Favored: Barbarian & Fighter, 1 LA I don't say it often, but OMGWTFBBQ! Even without Half-Minotaur (Dragon 313 94) you're still better than a Raptoran (Races of the Wild 68): You glide, you have a slightly higher Fortitude save, and you qualify for Headlong Rush. Booyah!
Human: Humanoid, Medium, 30' Walk, Favored: Any, No LA Humans make spiffy dragoons because of the extra feat, skill points, and a favored class of any. Unfortunately, they get no spiffy dragoon-specific bonuses, but the extra feat helps the early game feat crunch. Going human is probably your best bet if you're stuck with core races.
Alternatively, investigate silverbrow humans from Dragon Magic 6. They trade their bonus skill points for feather fall as a spell-like ability once per day plus once per day per 5 HD. Additionally, they get +2 Disguise and Disguise is always a class skill. Normal humans are better lest reducing falling damage is critical and you want to be human.
Interestingly, humans make the worst Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8). They lose their bonus feat and bonus skill points while keeping their favored class (any). With the wealth of D&D 3.5 material available, humans get sidelined this build.
Neraph (Planar Handbook 13): Outsider, Medium, 30' Walk, Favored: Ranger, No LA Despite being outsiders for delicious polymorph cheese, like in this thread, they don't suit dragoons well considering the variety of better races. Even the feat Neraph Charge (Planar Handbook 40) feels slightly weak compared to Headlong Rush (Races of Faerun 164), though maybe it's because Neraph Charge is available to all races.
Neraph get +5 to Jump, +2 natural armor, and the ability to deny each foe his DEX bonus to AC for one charge or thrown attack per encounter.
Beware! As an outsider, not a native outsider, neraphim require revive outsider (Spell Compendium 175) or true resurrection to resurrect! With a Dragonborn Neraph, however, you're considered an outsiderand for some purposes, a dragon, meaning whether you need to eat, sleep, or breathe, as well as what spells will revive you, are up to your DM. Ask him nicely.
Nezumi AKA Ratling (Oriental Adventures 13): Humanoid, +2 CON, -2 CHA, Medium, 40' Walk, Favored: Rogue, No LA The only official LA0 Medium race I've found with 40' base speed, the nezumi are just plain excellent dragoons. They're fast, hearty, and have mild stealth-related abilities. A nezumi with 11+ WIS- and that's you!- qualifies to take Scent as a feat. Taking Quick is more of a no-brainer. Slap Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 10) on this baby and you're ready to go!
The main negatives are rogue as a favored class and the lack of Common as an automatic language. (Most dragoons won't take more than 2 Rogue levels and you get Rokugan and Nezumi as automatic languages which are effectively gibberish in a non-Oriental campaign.) You can't get Headlong Rush since you lack orcish blood, but the feat's double damage on a charge is probably overkill anyway.
However, if you go all-out, you can become...
Nezumi, Uberfied [QuickDragonbornWaterHalf-Minotaur Nezumi]: Humanoid (dragonblood), +12 STR, -4 DEX, +10 CON, -4 INT, -2 CHA, 2 NA, Large, 60' Walk, 60' Swim, Favored: Fighter & Rogue, 1 LA This extrapolates elemental race stats unofficially, but all races of water that aren't half-breeds get +2 CON, besides various penalties negated by being Dragonborn. If your DM allows you to be a Half-Minotaur (Dragon 313 94), he'll probably allow the extrapolation, but an extra 2 CON at this point is minor either way.
Even without Half-Minotaur, you're fast. You're as fast as a standard heavy horse or heavy warhorse. If I could, I'd usually take nezumi over half-orc, especially water nezumi. Another perk is that you can still take Scent as a feat if you feel inclined.
For any DMs in the audience thinking of terrorizing low-level groups with a couple creatures which even savvy players won't expect, here you go. The look on your players' faces when they realize two very big, draconic, telephone pole-wielding, under-CRed creatures are swooping down from the shadows to impale all of them will be priceless. Give these guys a class level or few and you may even start a panic.
Dragoons: For when the crab just isn't that scary.
Raptoran (Races of the Wild 68): Humanoid [?], Medium, 30' Walk, Favored: Cleric, No LA HALLE... lujah? Starting at low levels, raptorans can make a strong contender for the ideal dragoon race. They can glide, giving them +10 on Jump checks and preventing them from taking falling damage while conscious. Even if a raptoran is knocked out in the air, he only takes 1d6 falling damage, which effects like feather fall negate. (Few things ruin an epic leap more than going splat at the end.) At 5HD, raptorans can fly for a number of successive rounds equal to their CON bonus, to a minimum of 1, and at 10 HD, they can fly indefinitely. A raptoran with at least 5 HD can make a diving charge with a piercing weapon that does double damage if it hits.
The Dragonborn template (Races of the Dragon 8) grants the same abilities, but a level or 2 later with 10' less speed and stat mods. I recommend a Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) half-orc or Dragonborn nezumi (Oriental Adventures 13) for most builds, but raptorans shine in campaigns with Faerun and Oriental material banned or when you want no stat penalties and no LA. The raptoran's best niche then is for evil characters because a Dragonborn that turns evil loses the Dragonborn template by the rules as written.
So where's the downside? Raptorans have the icky favored class of cleric. The Dragonborn can be attached to many if not most races, allowing a Quick Dragonborn half-orc to qualify for Headlong Rush (Races of Faerun 164), and compared to a raptoran, have +10 land speed, +1 Fortitude, and the same amount of HP, though -2 DEX.
Also, assumedly, raptorans are humanoid, but Races of the Wild lists no type for them.
Shifter (Eberron Campaign Setting 18): Humanoid (shapechanger), +2 DEX, -2 INT, -2 CHA, Medium, 30' Walk, Favored: Ranger, No LA Originally, I included shifters as a means of qualifying for bloodclaw master (Tome of Battle 96) with no special class levels while meeting blade dancer's alignment requirement (Oriental Adventures 37). I realized soon after that bloodclaw master doesn't require raging or shifting, thus demoting shifters. At least you can become a Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) from the start!
Thri-Kreen (Shining South 72): Monstrous Humanoid +2 STR, +4 DEX, -2 INT, +2 WIS, -4 CHA, Medium, 40' Walk, Favored: Ranger, 1 LA (Nonpsionic), 2 HD Thri-kreen are the original D&D high jumpers, but with various reprints and stat changes, Wizards of the Coast can't make up their mind. Expanded Psionics Handbook 15 and lists their Jump bonus as racial (woo!) instead of competence (boo!). Monster Manual II 196 and [i}Savage Species[/i] 222 again list their Jump bonus as competence instead of racial. The header uses Shining South's version since it's from the most recent publication.
Dragoon-wise, thri-kreen aren't worth the price. Admittedly, they have 40' base speed for a Medium creature, +30 competence Jump, and 4 usable arms with which to hold their polearms, but the bonus to Jump doesn't stack with blade dancer (Oriental Adventures 37) or most items that boost Jump.
Girallon's blessing (Spell Compendium 106) on a 2-armed creature can reproduce the extra arms, and high jumping will make you go splat unless you can stop the damage. Also, going Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) removes the Jump bonus.
Finally, Thri-Kreen have short lifespans. They reach middle age at 16, old age at 20, venerable at 25, and are expected dead by 29. In the case of campaigns that stretch over a year or five, I don't want to risk losing physical stats or dying of old age! Somewhat fortunately, Dragonborn returns you to the normal adult category with none your aging bonuses or penalties and with a middle age of 200 years, but, again, you lose the Jump bonus.
Warforged, Uberfied [QuickIncarnate Construct Shadow Dragonborn Warforged]: Humanoid (dragonblood), -2 DEX, +4 CON, -2 WIS, -2 CHA, Medium, 60' Walk, Favored: Fighter, No LA A plain warforged (Eberron Campaign Setting 20 or Monster Manual III 190) makes for a bland, suboptimal dragoon. Even the Quick trait does a little on its own. To make a noteworthy warforged dragoon, I suggest applying the templates Incarnate Construct (Savage Species 120), Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8), and Shadow Creature (Lords of Madness 168) in that order. You move 50% faster, meaning Quick is more appealing, though you lose composite plating and some other construct traits. Dragonborn, like Red Bull, gives you wings!
A warforged without these templates decreases the rating to red because of the favored class of fighter, -2 WIS and CHA, and permanent 5% arcane spell failure.
Water Orc: Humanoid, +4 STR, +2 CON, -2 INT, -2 WIS, -2 CHA, Medium, 30' Walk, 30' Swim, Favored: Barbarian, No LA With no LA but a WIS penalty, water orcs are slightly worse than half-orcs. A Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) water orc gets -2 DEX and +2 CON as well, and removes light sensitivity and the modifiers against creatures of the fire subtype, but you need 15 base WIS for Up The Walls.
Even without Dragonborn, the Quick trait becomes a serious consideration.
Overall, if you have enough INT, WIS, and CHA for your build and you were about to go Dragonborn half-orc regardless, be a Dragonborn water orc instead.
Whisper Gnome (Races of Stone 94): Humanoid, -2 STR, +2 DEX, +2 CON, -2 CHA, Small, 30' Walk, Favored: Rogue, No LA Sometimes, you want to play something different. Sometimes, being Medium or larger is a hindrance more than a help. Sometimes, you want to threaten beings with the line, "I maybesmall." (Those are separate links.) Sometimes, you want to be a Small race with a 30' land speed besides a goblin or kobold subrace with no level adjustment.
On the down side, you lose all those misc. bonuses when you go Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8). Your weapon damage diminishes slightly compared to a Medium creature- 1d8 with a halberd (less if smaller) versus 1d10. Your STR is also lower compared to a Medium creature, but .hopefully your massive mobility makes up for it.
On the plus side, you have the same reach and land speed as a typical Medium creature. Your favored class of rogue allows you to sneak. Whisper gnomes are especially sneaky, getting darkvision and skill bonuses to make people cry, "Level adjustment!" Small items tend to weigh half as much as Medium ones, but you have 75% the carrying capacity of a Medium creature of equal STR. You qualify for Underfoot Combat (Races of the Wild 152), and Confound the Big Folk (Races of the Wild 153), allowing you to enter your victim's square without attacks of opportunity against you, and get accuracy or AC bonuses against creatures 2+ size categories larger. You probably won't need these feats due to your expected damage, but they're options.
If you go Dragonborn as I expect, you have +4 CON and -2 CHA. If you also squeeze the water variant past your DM, that's 2 more CON!
Dark Creature (Tome of Magic 161): +1 LA The most important reason to take this is for +10' to all movement speeds. You also gain +8 Hide and Move Silently, 10 cold resistance, superior low-light vision, and hide in plain sight.
If you're willing to spare the LA and enjoy being especially sneaky, this is for you. If you have the Shadow Creature template available (Lords of Madness 168), consider taking that instead.
Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8): Must be Non-Evil, No LA If you become a Dragonborn, the wings are the best feature: You initially can glide indefinitely, though at 30' (average maneuverability), and you get +10 on Jump checks! At 6HD, you can fly for a number of successive rounds equal to your CON bonus to a minimum of 1. (Even as a dragoon, you should be able to fly for at least 2 rounds at a time.) While flying, you can make a diving charge with a piercing weapon that does double damage if it hits. The biggest bonus is that a winged Dragonborn never takes falling damage while conscious, and even if you are knocked out in the air, you take only 1d6 falling damage which feather fall and similar effects negate!
I believe the best race to become a Dragonborn dragoon is a nezumi (Oriental Adventures 13). They get +2 CON, -2 CHA, and 40' base movement as a Medium creature for no LA. If your DM is willing, instead get +2 more CON from extrapolating the stats and take water nezumi.
A strong contender more likely to be approved is Dragonborn half-orc because of significant physical bonuses and Headlong Rush. If you can swing it, a water half-orc is obviously better.
Raptoran (Races of the Wild 68) is still viable- Dragonborn template aside- since they get flight at 5HD and improved flight at 10HD, but their favored class is cleric. The only significant Dragonborn drawback compared to a Raptoran is that Raptorans can fly 10' faster and Dragonborn can't be evil.
With that stated, becoming a Dragonborn costs 100 gold and it isn't right for everyone: Humans lose their valuable skill points and bonus feat, but keep their favored class (any). Half-elves lose less and keep their favored class (any). Goliaths lose their delicious Mountain Movement though they keep Powerful Build. Most other races benefit, however.
Dragonborn have a critical clause on page 10 of Races of the Dragon which made me reread: "You lose all other racial traits of your original race, including bonus feats, skill bonuses, attack bonuses, save bonuses, and so forth." Also, Races of the Dragon 15 states a Dragonborn who becomes evil loses the template and takes 2d6 damage per round for a number of rounds equal to his HD.
It bears emphasizing so strongly: You can lose a feat and your delicious racial bonuses like a goliath's Mountain Movement (but not Powerful Build) are gone! At least you gain fighter as an additional favored class, and you can make a reasonable case to your DM to change this additional favored class to warblade.
Contrary to my initial opinion, you lose all aging bonuses and penalties when you become a Dragonborn, though your age changes to a young adult! Beware!Dragonblood Subtype DetailsShow
What's so special about being a (dragonblood)? Page 4 of Races of the Dragon lists these factors.
-You can use items requiring the dragon type or dragonblood subtype. -You are vulnerable to "harmful" effects that only affect dragons. This makes you Favored Enemy #1. -You AREN'T a dragon in any other regard. -If you somehow become a dragon, you lose the dragonblood subtype! It bears mentioning. Ahem.
As a Dragonborn you "retain your original base land speed, as well as any other modes of movement possessed by your original race. Other racial traits related to speed or movement, such as the dwarf’s ability to move at full speed in medium or heavy armor, are lost."
Futhermore, "You lose all other racial traits of your original race, including bonus feats, skill bonuses, attack bonuses, save bonuses, spell-like abilities, and so forth." -Races of the Dragon 10
It seems straightforward, but should I keep my race's skill bonuses to Jump or Climb since these skills determine distance I can jump or climb per turn? I'd like to think so, but in this guide I assume not. Where that true, I'd more heavily advise a Dragonborn raptoran for raptoran wings, gliding,and skill bonuses, and the Dragonborn's breath weapon or darkvision. Ask your DM.
Half-Minotaur (Dragon 313 94): +1 LA (!) This is a viable template for those who want massive STR and CON bonuses and a tremendous size more than all else. (Being an inherited template, you must be born as a Half-Minotaur.) Start with a nezumi (Oriental Adventures 13), half-orc, or goliath, embrance your Half-Minotaur heritage, then add Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) if desired. You must start as a giant, humanoid, or monstrous humanoid to gain Half-Minotaur, but that should be no problem!
You end with Large size and possibly Powerful Build so you can wield Large or Huge weapons. You get +8 STR/-2 DEX/+4 CON because you grew from Meduim to Large. You get an additional +4 STR/+2 CON/-2 INT from the Half-Minotaur template but none of the other misc. bonuses like the Track feat. Assuming you start as a Medium creature, your total stat mods from Half-Minotaur are +12 STR/-2 DEX/+6 CON/-2 INT. Groovy.
At low levels, you can tell the full casters to sit down and shut up while you earn the titles 'Bulldozer,' 'Meat Grinder,' and 'Rain Maker.' Close range spells (25' + 5' per 2 caster levels) mean little when you can jump 30 feet without making a skill check, glide 30 feet, and kill everything in a 20 foot radius in the same turn at level 2!Watch out for falling rocks.
DMs considering allowing a Half-Minotaur into their games should make the LA +2 instead of +1. Half-Minotaur is a strong +2: The size, STR, and CON bonuses alone are just that uber, but the other minor bonuses don't put it over the top to +3.
Incarnate Construct (Savage Species 120): -2 LA (!) If you prefer to be a warforged (Eberron Campaign Setting 20 or Monster Manual III 190), this is the template for you! You lose your construct traits and composite plating, but have -2 level adjustment, and conveniently, Shadow Creature (Lords of Madness 168) is +2 LA. Happy trails!
Shadow Creature (Lords of Madness 168): +2 LA The most important reason to take this is for its 50% speed boost! You also get +6 Move Silently, full concealment in anything less than full daylight or the daylight spell, and one special ability per 4 HD. Some of these abilities are fast healing 2, evasion, and DR 5/magic.
If you're willing to spare the LA, enjoy being sneaky, and want to set land speed records, this is one major way to go. Only take this if you're comfortable with your other stats, however.
Chahar-aina (Oriental Adventures 75): 75G, 10lb, 1ACP, 5% ASF You can only wear this with padded armor, leather armor, or a chain shirt, and since I assume you're the good little Hood you are, you're wearing a chain shirt. You need Medium Armor Proficiency to "wear a chahar-aina without penalty," which I'm fairly certain means no armor check penalty if you're proficient. If you make this item masterwork, there should be no armor check penalty.
Chain Shirt, Mithral: 1100G, 12.5lb, 0ACP, 10% ASF Some recommend a breastplate instead, but the shirt is cheaper and has no armor check penalty. Just watch out for arcane spell failure should you go that route. Ultimately, this shirt offers the most options and is very cost effective!
Chain Shirt, Casterfied [Mithral, Feycraft, Githcraft]: 2200G, 11.25lb, 0ACP, 0% ASF No armor check penalty? Check. No arcane spell failure? Check. Fully nonmagical? Check. Costs less than a +1 Twilight Mithril Chain Shirt? Check. Requires DM to avoid thinking too hard about how it was made? Double check.
Feycraft is from Dungeon Master's Guide II 275. Githcraft is from Dungeon Master's Guide II 276.
Dastana (Oriental Adventures 75): 25G, 5lb, 1ACP, 5% ASF You can only wear this with padded armor, leather armor, or a chain shirt. You need Light Armor Proficiency to "wear a dastana without penalty," which I'm fairly certain means no armor check penalty if you're proficient. If you make this item masterwork, there should be no armor check penalty.
Landing Enchant [Psionic]: +4000G You treat falls as 60' less for damage. You shouldn't need this as a raptoran (Races of the Wild 68) or a Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8), or if you have an item of catfall; however, your DM may insist. Boots of Landing (Magic Item Compendium 77) provide a cheap continuous version of this enchant.
Masterwork Tool: 50G, 1lb You get +2 circumstance to any skill. Jump and Tumble are obvious choices here. While this bonus won't stack with other tools for the same skill, there's no specification in the rules as written requiring you hold or wear the tool to gain the bonus. Most DMs would require you wear or wield the tool to gain its benefits, but lenient DMs would allow you to get this bonus with the tool in your Heward's Handy Haversack.
Fortification Enchant: +1 (Light), +3 (Medium), +5 (Heavy) Negate 25%, 75% or all critical hits and sneak attacks with this. I recommend heavy fortification despite its cost because I'm less likely to be killed by a critical I could have negated. Medium Fortification will suffice for those on a much smaller budget.
Freedom Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 11): +5 You have continual freedom of movement. The effect is often wonderful, but you can probably save money by instead getting a ring offreedom of movement. If you can stick this on a +1 Dastana (Oriental Adventures 75), you get a bargain even compared to the ring!
Greater Healing Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 12): +24,000G, Requires Healing Enchant Twice daily, you can heal 3d8+15 as a swift action and you're healed automatically for this if you fall unconscious from HP damage. Unless I had enough money to swim comfortably in, Uncle Scrooge style, I wouldn't get this. There are more efficient ways to heal, like a wand of cure light wounds for 750G.
Halfweight & Illithidwrought Enchants (Underdark 70): +3 or +4 Combined; see text and ask your DM Halfweight armor is always treated as light and weighs half as much and is intended for those of you who insist on using full plate.
Seemingly, you can get Halfweight for +2 instead of +3 if your armor is Illithidwrought (Underdark 70). Based on the chart from page 69, Illithidwrought (+1 insight AC), which normally costs +2, seemingly also gets a discount if you have Halfweight. Ask your DM if you can get both for a total of +3.
If you want the full plate experience while maximizing your effectiveness, first get Feycraft (Dungeon Master's Guide II 275) +1 Mithral Full Plate, add Illithidwrought (Underdark 70), Halfweight, then Nimbleness (Magic Item Compendium 13).
Healing Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 12): +8000G Once per day as a swift action, you can heal 2d8+5 HP damage. If you're unconscious with negative HP, this healing effect triggers automatically as a free action. It's a minor boost, but there are times when dropping unconscious saved my life and healing would have killed me. I leave the choice to you.
Nimbleness Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 13): +1 Nimbleness reduces the armor check penalty by 2 and increases the max DEX bonus by 1. It's intended for dragoons in mithral breastplates or full plate, but I prefer a mithral chain shirt.
Proof against Transmutation Enchant (Complete Arcane 142): +5 You become immune to petrification, involuntary shape changes, and turning to ash from disintegrate upon hitting -10 HP. This enchant is NOT worth +5- it's maybe worth +2- but this enchant provides a bit of solace against baleful polymorph.
Quickness Enchant [Psionic]: +1 Your speed increases by 5'. This is an unnamed bonus. If it's prudent for your character, get this on your chain shirt, dastana (Oriental Adventures 75), chahar-aina (Oriental Adventures 75), and Animated heavy shield.
This enchantment was reprinted in Magic Item Compendium on page 13 where the bonus is now enhancement and there's no mention of psionics. (I rate that version red[/url].) Ask your DM which version you're using.
[color=blue]Soulfire Enchant (Book of Exalted Deeds 112): +4 You become immune to death and negative energy effects, such a enervation, inflict spells, and slay living. It's probably too cheap for a +4 enchant, but if your DM lets you, even at +5, take this!
Twilight Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 15): +1 Your arcane spell failure from this item is reduced by 10% to a minimum of 0%. If you routinely cast wizard spells in armor and you can't get the casterfied chain shirt (above), a +1 Twilight Mithral Chain Shirt becomes a gimme. For normal dragoons, this is worthless.
Ring of Adamantine (Magic Item Compendium 121): 6000G Your melee attacks bypass DR/adamantine. This is only useful against armies of constructs or weird creatures that have DR/adamantine. This is mostly for backup purposes.
Ring offeather fall: 2200G Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42) should trigger if you feather fall down by the rules as intended as there's no specific prohibition. (Fly and levitate specifically won't work with Battle Jump by the rules as written, but as DM, I would allow Battle Jump to work with feather fall.) If this ring won't interfere with Battle Jump, take the ring and love it as your precious. If the ring interferes or you consistently don't land on your feet after jumping, get Boots of Landing (Magic Item Compendium 77).
If you're a raptoran (Races of the Wild 68) or Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8), you shouldn't need this since you never take falling damage unless you fall unconscious in the air, and even then no more than d6. Your DM may say otherwise, however.
Ring offreedom of movement: 40,000G This is a bargain compared to the price given by the formulas. You'll need freedom of movement eventually considering the great number of grappling creatures and movement impairing spells and effects available; however, this is a mid to late game purchase.
Ring of Evasion: 25,000G If you have the money, the Reflex save, and a ring slot available, this may be a worthy purchase. You're probably better off spending money on items that improve movement or provide cover or concealment so you're out of the blast radius instead.
Ring of Sustenance: 2500G If your DM enforces food and drink rules, this may be a worthy investment just so you no longer need to track personal nourishment. The bonus of only needing 2 hours of sleep instead of 8 may allow you to regain spells more often than normal; check with your DM.
-Only one metamagic rod can be used with each spell at a time and the rod functions 3 times per day. From what I understand, you need only have the rod in your possession, not your hand. You may be able to use a metamagic rod thrice a day and pass it along since the text says, "The wielder can cast up to three spells per day that are [affected by a certain metamagic feat]." -Spontaneous casters still must normally spend at least a full round action to use a metamagic rod on a spell. -Lesser metamagic rods work on spells of level 3 and below, normal rods on level 6 and below, and greater rods on level 9 and below. -Technically, aside from Heigthen Spell, a metamagicked spell changes only the spell slot needed to cast it, not the spell level. Thus, an Extendedhaste cast by a typical wizard is a level 3 spell occupying a level 4 slot and a legal candidate for a Lesser Rod of Quicken. Your DM may disagree, however.
Lesser Rod of Quicken: 35,000G You can cast a spell as a swift instead of a standard action thirce per day. Unfortunately, the rod is expensive and you'll often use swift actions for other things, but if you have this rod to spare, you can heal or buff yourself mid-fight.
Nightstick (Libris Mortis 78): 7500G Even if you can only use one Nightstick per day, that's Divine Metamagic (Complete Divine 80) fuel or two more daily uses of your Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62)
Bloodfeeding Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 29): +1 Each time you damage a living creature, you gain a blood point, and you can spend 5 blood points to do 2 extra damage when you hit a target. You can hold up to 10 blood points and the points last 1 hour, enough for a fight or two overland or part of a dungeon crawl. I'm staying away from this, however great it sounds, because it does low damage and it's more to track.
Collision Enchant [Psionic]: +2 You do 5 extra damage per hit for a +2 enchant. You can probably find better ways to reliably get more damage per strike, but this is simple.
Charging Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 31): +1 When charging while mounted, you do an extra 2d6 if you hit. Mounted dragoons should take this; others should avoid it because of its specificity.
Eager Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 34): +1 You get +2 initiative, +2 damage with the weapon during combat's first round, and the ability to draw this weapon as a free action at any time on your turn. Take Eager for its initiative bonus once you're out of better options.
Ghost Touch Enchant: +1 This is mostly for backup since there seems to be a batch of incorporeal creatures in every game I play. If you become incorporeal with spells or other abilities, this ensures you can wield your weapon. Either you need this greatly or you don't need it, and if you need it, try to instead get a Truedeath Crystal (Magic Item Compendium 66).
Halberd of Vaulting (Arms & Equipment Guide 109): 20,310G, 12lb OMGWTFBBQ! Whenever you charge and jump at least 5' into the air, you deal double damage! Mind you, this is also a +2 halberd that gives a +30 unnamed bonus to Jump for the bargain price of about 20K! Seriously, who made this and how soon can I hug him?
(Price-wise, this costs 310 for the masterwork halberd, 8K for +2, 9K for +30 to Jump under 3.0 rules, and about 3K for double damage on a charge. Going by the numbers, this seems purposely bargain priced like a ring of invisibility. If you manage to get one of these and want to upgrade it, a simple way would be to treat +3 as another 10K, or 15K if you wish to account for the nonstandard bonuses. If you feel especially bold, ask your DM if you can make this a +1 Valorous Halberd (Unapproachable East 54) since it should cost the same by the rules. Beware smackage.)
Holy Enchant: +2 Most campaigns have the goody PCs against the Evil baddies. (Emphasis on the capital E.) If you frequently fight demons, devils, dragons, deities, and dark casters, Holy offers 2d6 extra damage each attack. If this is you, Holy makes for a worthy enchant at +2. If you're the villains killing off heroes or you frequently kill nonevil foes, skip this.
Illusion Bane Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 36): +1 You automatically ignore any miss chance from illusions like blur or mirror image. If you hit, you can use a swift action to attempt to dispel an illusion effect like silent image or all illusions on a target a la a targeted dispel magic, either at +10. This is quite handy against casters, but it's quite niche.
Impaling Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 37): +1 As a swift action thrice per day, you can turn your next attack roll into a touch attack. This enchant is a miniature wraithstrike (Complete Adventurer 158) that doesn't interfere with the spell. Impaling also requires a piercing weapon, but that's a given!
Initiative Enchant (Oriental Adventures 126): +20,000G You get +2 luck initiative for 20K. This seems overly expensive, but initiative maniacs will find it valuable.
Keen Enchant: +1 You double your weapon's natural threat range. A pity this doesn't stack with most other critical multipliers. Even if it did, crits are unreliable and plenty of foes are immune.
If you're in a situation to capitalize on crits, seriously consider this and Maiming (Miniatures Handbook 40).
The Keen enchantment is a permanent version of the keen edge spell.
Lucky Enchant [Psionic]: +1 You can reroll one failed accuracy roll per day. This may be comparable in price to the Luck Blade's luck power, 9,750 when reverse engineered, though the blade's reroll applies to any roll and it's an extraordinary ability. Either reroll is better on ammo if each piece of ammo lets you reroll.
(My Luck Blade calculations, assuming no wishes: 9,750 = 22,060 base - 8K for +2 - 310 for a masterwork shortsword - 4K for the +1 luck bonus to saves on an unslotted item)
Magebane Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 38): +1 Against creatures capable of using arcane spells or warlock invocations (Complete Arcane 7), you get +2 accuracy and +2d6+2 damage. This is a niche weapon, but there are plenty of creatures who can use arcane spells but aren't considered primary casters, like the rakshasa. (Spell-like abilities drawn from the sorcerer/wizard list are seemingly arcane. Ask your DM.)
Maiming Enchant (Miniatures Handbook 40): +1 This enchant is an oddity, turning your critical multiplier into a die roll. A x2 weapon becomes a x1d4 weapon. A x3 weapon is x1d6. A x4 is x1d8. (Assumedly, continue the pattern for higher numbers.) Unfortunately, it's random and it requires the target be crittable.
If you're in a situation to capitalize on crits, seriously consider this and either Keen or a friendly caster who will spare the spell slots for keen edge..
A revised version is on page 38 of Magic Item Compendium, dealing d6 extra damage on a crit with a x2 weapon, 2d6 with a x3 weapon, and 3d6 with a x4 weapon. Ask your DM which version you're using.
Parrying Enchant [Psionic]: +8000G You get +1 insight AC and +1 insight saves while you hold the weapon, even when flat-footed. This seems quite worthwhile.
Unfortunately, Magic Item Compendium 40 changed the price to +2 which I believe to be too much. (My rating changes to red in that case.) Ask your DM which version you're using.
Ribbon [Kaorti] Weapons (Fiend Folio 110): See text. If you're into crits, ribbon weapons are the way to go. By extrapolation, ribbon weapons cost 50 times that of normal nonmasterwork weapons and require an exotic weapon proficiency to wield properly. They allow trip attacks at +2 and their crit multiplier is x4. If you're about to spend a feat, get an already exotic weapon and make it a ribbon weapon, though normally I don't consider spending a feat to wield a weapon worthwhile.
Shadowstrike Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 43): +5000G Once a day, you gain +5' of reach on a melee attack and this attack denies your target his DEX bonus to AC. It's an interesting concept that I'd like to be usable more often.
Sizing Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 43): +5000G You can change your weapon's size category to be anything you want. This is almost useless lest you can make your spear Colossal, maybe Colossal+++++++, to crush your opponents.
Speed Enchant: +3 This is the weapon enchant for people who can't reliably get haste. I advise against this in most situations since your party buffer should gladly buff you and haste should be common by the time you can expect to get Speed.
The main bonus of Speed weapons over haste is Speed weapons each give +1 attack, meaning if you wielded 3 +1 Halberds of Speed with your 6 arms, you'd get 3 more attacks per full attack instead of 1.
Spellblade Enchant (Player's Guide to Faerun 120): +6000G You're immune to a spell that targets you, chosen at the item's creation, like baleful polymorph, slow, or a targeted dispel magic. Even better, you can cast it at another target- like the original caster- with the same DC, caster level, etc. as the original caster as a free action on your next turn.
While this enchant only works when on weapons you wield, armor spikes, gauntlets, and possibly even a horned helm count. Make them +1 items first!
Spell Storing Enchant/Power Storing Enchant [Psionic]: +1 How I love thee; let me count the ways! Nothin' says lovin' to a frost giant like releasing from your polearm a 12d6 scorching ray as a free action (Spell Storing) or a swift action (Power Storing) as part of a charge that does, double, quadruple, or even more damage! Nevermind that the spell damage isn't multiplied for a crit; that sucker's goin' down!
The major drawback is its third level spell limit (Spell Storing) or 5 power point manifestation limit (Power Storing), but remember that spells cast into this weapon use the caster's caster level and DC. Slow against a major villain as part of a full attack, anyone?
Valorous Enchant (Unapproachable East 54): +1 You do double damage on a charge, triple damage if this is a Valorous lance and you're mounted, quadruple if this is a Valorous lance and you're mounted with Spirited Charge, and perhaps more if you have other damage multipliers. If you're a dragoon and your DM allows you Valorous, take it!
Vampiric Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 45): +2 Against living creatures, you do +d6 per hit and heal yourself for that much of the d6. If you have low HP as I expect, this is probably OK, but only get this if your DM bans Wrathful Healing (Enemies & Allies 20).
Warning Enchant (Magic Item Compendium 46): +1 It's a +5 insight bonus to initiative, though probably more expensive than an item of nerveskitter (Spell Compendium 146). Regardless, it will probably still save your life.
Wrathful Healing Enchant (Enemies & Allies 20): +3 This beautiful enchant is hidden in an otherwise crappy 3.0 book in a sidebar. Wrathful Healing heals you for half the damage you deal with it, not to exceed your max HP. Ho. Lee. Crap.
Note that this healing is positive energy. A living wielder is healed, an undead wielder is harmed, and a construct is probably unaffected.
Least crystals require weapon of masterwork or magic quality. Lesser crystals require at least a +1 weapon. Greater crystals require at least a +3 weapon, meaning apply greater magic weapon before use. A straight +3 weapon is rarely worthwhile.
Typically, a lesser crystal also grants the benefit of the associated least crystal and a greater crystal also grants the benefits of the associated lesser and least crystals.
Each weapon can have only one augment crystal active at a time.
Crystal of Life Drinking (Magic Item Compendium 64): +400G (Least), +1500G (Lesser), +6000G (Greater) Deal lethal damage to a living creature and heal 1 HP (least), 3 HP (lesser), or 6 HP (greater) per hit, up to 10 hits per day.
Fiendslayer Crystal (Magic Item Compendium 65): +1000G (Least), +3000G (Lesser), +5000G (Greater) You do +d6 damage to evil outsiders (least) and penetrate DR/good of evil outsiders (lesser). On a critical hit, you prevent evil outsiders from using teleportation abilities for 1 round (greater). Evil outsiders are fairly common, making a lesser a worthwhile purchase for most campaigns.
Truedeath Crystal (Magic Item Compendium 66): +400G (Least), +5000G (Lesser), +10,000G (Greater) You do +d6 damage against undead (least), gain Ghost Touch (lesser), and can crit and sneak attack undead (greater). Undead seem to be foes in every campaign, making a lesser crystal the best value, though if you rely on sneak attack/skirmish/etc. or crits, get a greater.
Unless otherwise stated, all items in this section are made at the lowest possible caster level without using optimization tricks to be able to cast spells early.
If you can choose the body slot and your DM enforces body slot affinities, see this chart on body slot affinities so you don't overspend. Note that robes and rings can have any single effect at no extra charge! Also, ask your DM if the 'quickness' affinity for gloves applies to movement speed and if the 'movement' affinity for boots applies to initiative.
Finally, pages 233-234 of Magic Item Compendium state many common effects that can be added to items without paying 50% more per slot. Adding stat (enhancement bonus), save (resistance bonus), or AC (armor, deflection, or enhancement to natural) boosters only costs normal price. For example, adding +6 STR to a Belt of Battle (Magic Item Compendium 73) costs only 36,000 gold for +6 STR and 12,000 gold for the Belt of Battle. Prior to these rules, the cost would have been 36,000 for +6 STR and 18,000 for the Belt of Battle.
By the rules as written, however, this doesn't work in reverse. Starting with a belt of +6 STR (36,000) and adding the effects of the Belt of Battle (12,000) would cause the Belt of Battle's effects to cost 50% more, for a total of 54,000 gold instead of 48,000.
animal affinity Item: 4500G (Dorje), 10,800G (Use-Activated), 24,000G (Continuous) Each time you use this, you get +4 enhancement to a stat of your choice. This is quite handy to have on a ring or robe for body slot affinity reasons.
Activate this item to boost CHA, get another daily use of Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62), then use this item again to boost DEX and get 2 more attacks of opportunity that round with Combat Reflexes. Considering this item gives +4 enhancement to one stat, though potentially any stat, a continuous version is cheaper than a +2 Belt of Magnificence (Miniatures Handbook 42). This item is cool!
Unfortunately, the enhancement bonus becomes obsolete, and this item's usefulness depends on how many stats benefit, hence the black rating. Regardless, it can be fun while it lasts!
Belt of Battle (Magic Item Compendium 73): 12,000G You always get a +2 competence bonus to initiative and this belt has 3 charges per day. As a swift action, you can gain a move action (1 charge), a standard action (2 charges), or a full round action (3 charges). Buy a bunch and swap them out as needed so you have even more actions per day. This belt is awesome!
Belt of Dwarvenkind: 14,900G If you want continuous darkvision, this is a bargain. If you get an item of dwarvenkind, try to make it a cloak, robe, or bracers so you can also wear the magnificent Belt of Battle (Magic Item Compendium 73).
Belt of Magnificence (Miniatures Handbook 42): 25,000G (+2), 100,000G (+4), 200,000G (+6) The typical dragoon needs STR, DEX, and CON. Casting and manifesting-focused dragoons also need INT, WIS, or/and CHA. This belt provides a boost to 6 stats for the price of 5 and requires only one slot. While you probably will only need boosts to 3 to 5 stats, you may be better off with this belt because of the slots it frees. Besides, you're able to cast higher level spells, get more daily spell slots, and have more power points from boosted mental stats.
Boots of Agile Leaping (Magic Item Compendium 76): 600G You can use your DEX modifier instead of your STR modifier on Jump checks. Also, if you have at least 5 ranks in Balance, you can stand from prone as a swift action. These boots are for the DEX inclined and slightly reduce multi-ability dependency for your dragoon.
Boots of Landing (Magic Item Compendium 77): 500G You always land on your feet and take 2d6 less falling damage. If you're a race besides a raptoran (Races of the Wild 68) or Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8), you'll probably need an item like this to reduce falling damage.
If your DM interprets Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42) to work with a ring offeather fall- as I believe it should- or he says you can't take Battle Jump, get the ring instead.
These boots are worthwhile even with the ring but only if you consistently don't land on your feet.
If you get these boots, try paying 50% more to put their effects on another item, like a robe or cloak, so you free the boot slot.
cure light wounds Item: 750G (Wand), 1800 (Use-Activated) d8+1 healing per application, anyone? Wands are cheap enough to keep one or three or six handy at mid to high levels for the whole party to share, and if you're a cleric, you can use them safely!
In a game I DMed, I made an item called the Hand of Right, a use-activated glove of cure light wounds that worked 5 times per day. (The thumb and each finger held a charge.) If your DM is more permissive, get an item that lets you use cure light wounds every round as a standard action.
Everfull Mug (Magic Item Compendium 160): 200G If you're Medium, you have enough water to last you the rest of your natural life. This is cheaper than a ring of sustenance if you don't care about the ring's sleep reduction.
Everlasting Rations (Magic Item Compendium 160): 350G If your DM enforces food & drink rules, this is a perpetual personal pan pizza. Like the Everfull Mug (Magic Item Compendium 160), these rations are personal only.
expeditious retreat or swift expeditious retreat Item (Spell Compendium 85): 750G (Wand), 1800G (Use-Activated), or 8000G (Continuous) The enhancement bonus to speed won't stack with levels of monk or scout (Complete Adventurer 11), but this is one of the best first level wizard spells for a dragoon. It's +30' to your land speed and +12 to Jump checks for 1 minute per level. A continuous version is cheap enough to be gotten by level 6 to 8. If this item is allowed, it's a gimme!
Field Provisions Box (Magic Item Compendium 160): 2000G This will feed your party and you'll probably have supplies to spare. Sell the extras and make a small profit each day. Only buy this if your party pays for their portion.
girallon's blessing Item (Spell Compendium 106): 11,250G (Wand), 27,000G (Use-Activated), or 45,000G (Continuous) The point of this spell is to wield your polearm in more hands. By extrapolation, wielding a 1-handed spear with 1 hand gives your STR bonus to damage, wielding it with 2 hands gives you 1.5x your STR bonus to damage, wielding it in 3 hands gives 2x, and wielding it in 4 hands gives you 2.5x. If you're mounted and hold your lance with 4 arms, that's 3x your STR bonus to damage and at least double your total damage from hitting with a lance while mounted.
I find it amusing that someone can polymorph you into a girallon with 22 base STR then have someone cast girallon's blessing on you for a total of 6 arms. That's +21 damage from 6-handing your weapon with a base 22 STR!
This may qualify you for Bloodclaw Master (Tome of Battle 97) by saving you a feat, but ask your DM. Dragoons benefit little otherwise.
greater mirror image Item (Player's Handbook II 120): 21,000G (Wand), 50,400G (Use-Activated), or 112,000G (Continuous) The greater version is usable as an immediate action and creates 1 extra image every round the spell is active, to a maximum of 8 images. The spell can also end if no images remain. This is probably too expensive to get as a continuous effect and it often isn't cost-efficient considering normal mirror image is so much cheaper, but this is a toy for rich kids who need every image.
haste Item: 11,250G (Wand), 54,000G (Use-Activated), or 135,000G (Continuous) Swift haste (Spell Compendium 110) is cheaper on an item but is generally less available. Regardless, this rocketh if you have the round to spend buffing and the money to blow. Never underestimate the power of an additional attack!
Healing Belt (Magic Item Compendium 73): 750G Each belt has 3 daily charges. As a standard action, you can use 1 charge to heal 2d8 damage, 2 charges to heal 3d8, or 3 charges to heal 4d8. This healing is positive energy, meaning it hurts undead as well.
This belt provides lots of healing in small daily increments. I advise getting one- even ten- of these to keep yourself healthy. Even if you have a Belt of Battle (Magic Item Compendium 73), you can swap it out for healing between fights. At low levels, this can save your life!
Heward's Handy Haversack: 2000G, 5lb This is probably your first magical container since it's the cheapest in the DMG. I adore this because it's cheap at 2K, weighs only 5 pounds, and holds 120 pounds of gear, probably more than you need. The sack won't automatically puncture if something sharp is put in it, and you can safely place other magical containers in it. Finally, retrieving what you want from it is a move action that doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. (Normally grabbing something from your pack provokes, but is still a move action.)
A bag of holding is a larger scale version of the haversack, but only buy it if you plan to haul castles.
hustle Item: 6000G (Dorge), 14,400G (Use-Activated), 64,000G (Continuous) With a continuous version, you no longer need your Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62) and you have less demand on your swift actions. Cool!
If I had to choose between a use-activated item of hustle and swift haste (Spell Compendium 110), I'd be hard-pressed. The choice depends greatly on which items and effects I could currently do, but I'd generally take swift haste.
Lightstone [Dull Grey Ioun Stone (3.0 Dungeon Master's Guide 220) of [color=blue]continual flame][/color]: 75G (PC caster) OR 135G (NPC caster) It's a hands-free concealable light source available from low levels. The 3.5 DMG mentions dull grey ioun stones, but lists no price. Continual flame has 50G of ruby dust as a material component, and a typical caster will charge 60G for the service. This is money well-spent!
Liquid sunlight (Complete Scoundrel 110) is a cheaper hands-free light at 20 gold that requires a safe storage place on your body, such as shoulder pads.
Liquid Sunlight AKA Liquid Light AKA Sunstone (Complete Scoundrel 110): 20G It's meant to be shot at drow and vampires and other creatures afraid of the light, but it's a cheap means of lighting your way without involving your hands. This nonmagical item "[sheds] light like a torch", illuminating a 20' radius fully and providing shadowy illumination for 20' beyond that. When the liquid's container strikes a firm surface, the glowy juice spills out, making a bright mess. Ask your DM if this item is worth your time, since accidentally jostling it around when it's attached to your armor or in your pack may break it.
A lightstone (see above) is less vulnerable to destruction and may persuade people that you are a wizard who will do nasty things to them if they bother you, but its lighting is magical. Carry a lightstone and liquid light to be even more crazy prepared.
Mask of true seeing(Unapproachable East 57): 75,000G It's expensive and not for everyone, but someone in the party, probably a caster, should have continual true seeing and this is the most efficient way to do it, and even more fortunately, masks occupy the rarely-used face slot!
The effect is powerful, but as a purchase I'd normally hesitate because of its price.
mirror imageItem: 4500G (Wand) or 10,800G (Use-Activated) Mirror image is one of those spells many wizards would be screwed without. For a dragoon, it means that, at worst, you have a 1 in 2 chance of being hit. With a use-activated item, you could keep using it until you rolled a 4 for 5 images so foes would have a 1 in 6 chance of hitting you. These images last 1 minute per level or 'til they're hit with a targeted attack.
There are counters, of course. Blindsense, blindsight, and true seeing negate this and a damaging area effect like fireball may remove the images if your DM is having a bad day, but mirror image is one of the best defensive spells for anyone at low to mid level!
nerveskitter Item (Spell Compendium 146): 750G (Wand), 1800G (Use-Activated), or 8000G (Continuous) It's +5 initiative as an immediate action for one combat. Booyah.
Pearl of Power: 1000G (L1), 4000G (L2), 9000G (L3) Pearls are cheap ways for prepared casters to recast low level spells like expeditious retreat or cure light wounds. You need a standard action to use each pearl to recall the spell, but after that the spell is ready to use as if it hadn't been cast. Also, each prepared caster in your party can use the same pearl once per day!
Change my rating to navy if you frequently use level 1 spells and pearls.
psionic lion's charge Item: 6000G (Dorge), 14,400G (Use-Activated), 64,000G (Continuous) If you can't get the lion totem barbarian alternative class feature (Complete Champion 45), this is a viable though expensive way to obtain continuous pounce.
Relinquary Holy Symbol (Magic Item Compendium 120): 1000G This neck slot item acts as a holy symbol and gives an extra turning attempt per day for each of these:
-5 ranks of Knowledge (Religion) -Improved Turning -At least 1 divine feat such as from Complete Divine
Most likely, you'll get only 1 extra turning attempt from the Knowledge ranks. Remember that Divine Metamagic (Complete Divine 80) gives you an extra turning attempt and DMM was errataed to only work with divine spells.
shield Item: 750G (Wand), 1800G (Use-Activated), or 4000G (Continuous) Shield gives you +4 shield AC even against incorporeal creatures as well as making you immune to magic missile. Since you probablly won't use a shield, this is an excellent way to cheaply boost your AC, DM permitting. If your DM insists on using a ring of force shield instead, ponder whether the ring is worthwhile. (In my opinion, it isn't.)
synesthete Item: 750G (Dorge), 1800G (Use-Activated), 3000G (Continuous) If you wear nothing on your face, you can become immune to gaze attacks, see normally except for darkvision, and get +4 circumstance Search and Spot checks. Alternatively, you can get +4 circumstance Listen. It's cheap and kinda freaky, but I'd take it!
swift haste Item (Spell Compendium 110): 6000G (Wand), 14,400G (Use-Activated), or 64,000G (Continuous) It's a cheaper version of an always-on haste and a swift action to activate. Swift haste only lasts d4 rounds normally, making a continuous item so very worthwhile!
Tiger Claw Bracers (Tome of Battle 150): 3000G (Novice), 15,000G (Scholar), or 45,000G (Master) These bracers allow you to use a Tiger Claw maneuver of up to level 3 (novice), level 6 (scholar), or level 9 (master) for which you meet all prerequisites, including initiator level. (Items for the other 8 disciplines exist, such as a Crown of White Ravens.) Assumedly, you can refresh this maneuver if you are a martial adept, like a warblade.
After equipping these bracers, you need 24 hours before you can use the maneuver granted by this item. From my understanding of the wording, you choose which maneuver to gain after you attune to the bracers.
I rate this item black because of its variability. Even if the bracers grant a specific single maneuver, like Raging Mongoose, Tiger Claw's maneuvers' usefulness varies.
wraithstrike Item (Complete Adventurer 158, Spell Compendium 243): 6000G (Wand), 10,800G (Use-Activated), 48,000G (Continuous) For one round, all attacks become touch attacks. A wand is the only guaranteed way to get a swift action casting time since normally use-activated and continuous items require at least a standard action to activate. If you can get a swift use-activated or, better yet, a continuous version of this, prepare to make your party's ray mages cry and have your DM break something on you.
Winged Mask (Magic of Faerun 168): 13,000G Fly at will with 60' speed and good maneuverability, though you emit a continual white light while doing so. This mask is mostly for backup purposes or flight in polymorph forms since Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42) won't work with fly or levitate.
Remember, if you lose all your power points, you lose your psionic focus! "Once you are psionically focused, you remain focused until you expend your focus, become unconscious, or go to sleep (or enter a meditative trance, in the case of elans), or until your power point reserve drops to 0."
Either you can glide and you don't need this power, or you can't and you're better off with feather fall. If you merely need to reliably land on your feet, instead buy Boots of Landing (Magic Item Compendium 77).
I advise against this power unless you desperately need it.
Unfortunately, you probably won't have the PP to spend to make this worth knowing. Expansion is mostly useful as a non-humanoid so you can grow yourself after someone polymorphs you; enlarge person is generally much more helpful.
I advise against taking this power if you only dip in psychic warrior.
You probably won't have the PP to sustain this, but force screen is a short-term buff when you really need shield AC and have time to prepare. Unfortunately, this is mostly a weaker version of shield since it doesn't block magic missiles.
This may be a viable power to get if you dip psychic warrior.
While your face must be uncovered- no masks, goggles, or full helms- you can become immune to gaze attacks (absorb light) or detect invisible and concealed foes with your normal senses (absorb sound). Considering how common invisible and concealed foes are in mid to late game, the choice should be obvious.
I heartily recommend you take this as you first psychic warrior power!
Vigor is a power that demands lots of PP to be viable. It lasts 1 minute per level and is a standard action to manifest, preventing you from using it as a panic button. Dragoons should avoid this power lest they have lots of PP to blow.
Don't get this power if you merely dip in psychic warrior!
One significant reason to take this is to boost your CHA by 4 for an additional use of your Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62). Beyond that, this power probably isn't worth learning; however, it may be worthwhile to have on an item.
The Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62) is like this power in feat form. I normally don't advise you take enough psychic warrior levels to obtain this power, but this should be your first level 2 power if so.
Either you need this, in which case you're better off with an item, or you don't because you have something like the barbarian's lion totem (Complete Champion 46). The effect is spiffy, but there are more efficient ways of gaining pounce.
It's only d8+X healing, but you can heal yourself and stabilize dying allies. If necessary, you can harm undead with cure spells. Incorporeal undead hit with positive energy don't suffer the 50% miss chance from incorporeality.
Evil is the most likely alignment to protect against. This suppresses mind control effects while active, prevents summoned creatures from attacking you with natural weapons, and gives you +2 deflection AC. Spiffy for a first level spell!
While you may have low HP for a front-liner, you may be asked to protect a much weaker party member, like a wizard. Use this with great caution.
Also, the shielder and shieldee each need a platinum ring worth at least 50 gold as material components.
substitute domain (Complete Champion 128)
You can test drive domains if you're fortunate enough to be able to access more than your normal amount, or use spell slots to trade a crappy domain for a better one.
Unfortunately, this spell requires 10 minutes to cast and is not dismissable. Should you wish to cancel this spell early, someone will need to dispel you.
Wizard Spell Notes
If you become a wizard, I advise specializing in Conjuration or Transmutation. Transmutation has more buff spells and Sudden Shift (Player's Handbook II 68) which allows you to fly at your land speed as an immediate action INT bonus times per day; however, Conjuration has more mobility, including Abrupt Jaunt (Player's Handbook II 68) to move you up to 10' as an immediate action INT bonus times per day. Whether you become a focused specialist (Complete Mage 34) is up to you.
Enchantment is fairly obvious to drop: The vast majority of Enchantment spells are mind-affecting Will saves that check spell resistance. Save that for an enchanter.
Necromancy is a bit harder to drop. There are plenty of save spells, but Necromancy also has no saves and utility. Ray of enfeeblement is a ranged touch attack, helped by having a higher-than-wizard BAB. False life is preventative maintenance, granting you d10+caster level (max +10) temporary HP for 1 hour per level. Finally, if you ever get there, clone is life insurance.
Remember, even summon monster I can summon flying creatures. Swap places with them directly over the enemy to trigger Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42) or swap places with a slower ally to get them into their proper position.
As a minor bonus, this spell is Verbal only, meaning you can cast it in any sort of armor without incuring arcane spell failure.
enlarge person: Transmutation humanoid, you grow one size category, get +2 STR, -1 accuracy, -2 DEX, and the ability to smack things farther away with increased reach for 1 minute per level. Casting is a full-round action.>
This takes a full round to cast, but it's a solid first level buff for you.
Either this spell is excellent because you aren't a Dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) or raptoran (Races of the Wild 68) or it does almost nothing since you are. (You should be able to trigger Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42) with this active since nothing explicitly forbids it.) Note that Spell Compendium 4 states this spell is an immediate action to cast, not a free action.
A minor perk is this spell has no somatic component, allowing you to use it in armor without arcane spell failure.
Cast this as your getaway spell and hope you run in the right direction. Even if you aren't a ninja, this is a useful pseudo-smoke bomb. Regardless, you're probably better off casting benign transposition (Spell Compendium 27) to escape.
Evil is the most likely alignment to protect against. This suppresses mind control effects while active, prevents summoned creatures from attacking you with natural weapons, and gives you +2 deflection AC. Spiffy for a first level spell!
It requires a standard action to cast and it only lasts for one attack roll, but the +20 insight bonus to accuracy nearly guarantees you hit in an emergency. True strike goes well with a Lesser Rod of Quicken.
A minor perk is this spell has no somatic component, allowing you to use it in armor without arcane spell failure.
This is a spell limited largely by your imagination and your access to creatures. Buff yourself for 10 minutes per level in ways the game designers probably didn't intend. This spell is so powerful it deserves a special thread, though because of your caster level, mirror image may be much better.
This is an iconic wizard buff and even for melee types, it is wonderful!
Blindsense, blindsight, and true seeing negate this, and hitting an image with a targeted attack like a ray or sword swing will destroy it, but a damaging area effect like fireball won't remove the images. mirror image is one of the best defensive spells for anyone before blindsense, true seeing, and the like are common!
If you get spider climb before you're able to make epic jumps- like from your party wizard or druid- then it's quite useful for climbing walls to get into position for Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42). If you can leap tall buildings in a single bound, don't bother.
Extra attack on a full attack? Check. Getting you closer to making sonic booms? Check. Possibly buffing at least 4 allies for 1 round per level along with you? Check. Laughing as you recite the phrase, "Haste makes waste of mine enemies?" Check.
While this helps, many mid- to late-game creatures aren't crittable or have crit resistance. It's a bonus, but don't depend on critting to save you.
magic circle against : Abjuration Evil is the most likely alignment to protect against. This is an area version of protection from but probably not worth the third level slot. At least you can also protect against another alignment with the circle version!
This is an excellent cheap, improvised mount for mounted dragoons, though bring falling protection should someone dispel it. Also, the best movement modes (water walk at level 10, air walk at level 12, and flight at level 14) require higher caster levels, meaning the party wizard is better off conjuring one for you.
Mounted dragoons with a caster level comparable to the party's wizard should seriously consider using this spell frequently. It's worth a blue rating in that case.
If you can, don't follow a deity. (According to Player's Handbook 32, "If your cleric not devoted to a particular deity, you still select two domains to represent his spiritual inclinations and abilities. The restriction on alignment domains still applies.")
If you play in Faerun, you need a deity- not an ethos- to be resurrected. Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 39 states, "[A] character who dies without a patron deity cannot be raised from the dead by any mortal means short of a miracle or wish." There is some question of what happens if you're not native to Faerun, worship a non-Faerunian deity, and die in Faerun. I believe you should be resurrectable but ask your DM. Also, what happens if a Faerun native learns of a god from Greyhawk and wishes to worship him? Should this character be resurrectable? Again, I believe so but ask your DM.
(The D&D book On Hallowed Ground mentions that Mystra from Faerun is buddy buddy with Wee Jas, Greyhawk's goddess of death and is friends with Kelemvor, Faerun's death god. The cross-pollenization of Faerun and Greyhawk is canon, but ask your DM before you try to find a cult of Cyndor in Faerun's city of Waterdeep. For more discussion, see this thread.)
Time (Spell Compendium 281) is an important domain and among the rarest, even rarer than Luck! I advise Time and Travel, but Travel is mostly for Travel Devotion, and you can get that via a feat. If you have feats to spare, go for a deity with Time and pay a feat for Travel Devotion.
If you play in Faerun, you're probably stuck following a deity. I included deity lists for Eberron, Faerun, and Greyhawk since some DMs require all clerics to worship a deity.
Finally, if you have any questions about domains, domain spells, or Greyhawk/Faerunian deities, see this comprehensive list.
Eberron Unfortunately, no officially published deities offer the Time domain (Spell Compendium 281).
-The Sovereign Host definitely has Luck and Travel. Faiths of Eberron 149 allows Celerity (Spell Compendium 271) from Balinor and Pride (Spell Compendium 278) from Olladra.
-The Dark Six have and Travel. Also, Faiths of Eberron 149 grants the Dark Six Celerity (Spell Compendium 271).
-Velsharoon (NE) has Undeath (Spell Compendium 281, Libris Mortis 60).
Greyhawk -Cyndor (LN) may have Time (Spell Compendium 281) but definitely has Travel. Since Cyndor's a deity of time, try convincing your DM to also give him Celerity (Spell Compendium 271). You may also need to convince him that Cyndor has Time since this site says Cyndor has Time but a seemingly more official database disagrees. If Cyndor has Time, he would be the only officially published deity to offer Time and Travel.
-Fharlanghn (TN) has Celerity (Spell Compendium 271), Luck, and Travel.
-Istus (TN) has Luck and Time (Spell Compendium 281).
Seriously consider spontaneous domain casting, the cleric variant from Player's Handbook II 37. With this, you trade spontaneous conversion of cure or inflict spells for domain spells but can prepare cure or inflict spells in your domain slots, depending whether you channel positive or negative energy.
If you chose spontaneous domain casting (Travel) and channeled positive energy, you could prepare cure light wounds in your level 1 domain slot and convert all non-domain spells to longstrider.
I recommend spontaneous domain casting more for those stuck channeling negative energy for inflict spells. However, being able to spontaneously convert a spell into expeditious retreat or haste may be worth losing immediate access to cure spells.
These domains (not devotions) work best with a level or 3 of cleric.
Celerity Domain (Spell Compendium 271) Your base land speed increases by 10' which is a boon to all future blade dancers (Oriental Adventures 37). Your first level spell is expeditious retreat which is about as good as level 1 domain spells get.
If you continue your clerical casting, you'll eventually gain blur at L3, haste at level 4, and time stop at L9, allowing you to take Spell Stowaway. This domain is a less of a gimme than Time, but is still worthy. It gets better with Divine Metamagic (Persistent).
I recommend Celerity as a third domain via Church Inquisitor (Complete Divine 26) with substitute domain (Complete Champion 128) or from Contemplative (Complete Divine 30).
Knowledge Domain This domain comes with cloistered cleric and it's OK. All Knowledge skills become cleric class skills, you cast divinations at +1 caster level, and you get detect secret doors which fits a sneaky background. I don't recommend choosing Knowledge as a domain pick unless you're out of better options.
Luck Domain Luck gives you a once daily reroll and if that weren't great enough, entropic shield gives you concealment (20% miss chance) against ranged attacks. Woohoo!
Pride Domain (Spell Compendium 278) You automatically reroll any natural 1s on saves, though you must accept the reroll, even another natural 1. This sounds spiffy, but most the time I'd rather have another reroll ability like the Luck Domain. It's core, it applies to any damage or d20 roll, and Luck offers better spells, though the reroll is usable only once per day.
Also, Pride's spells are mostly icky for dragoons. Level 1 offers hypnotism which is almost pure crap for you. Level 2 has eagle's splendor which is useful to get 2 more turn attempts to fuel your Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62). Probably the best spell this domain offers is divine power which gives you 1 temporary HP per caster level and full BAB for 1 round per level as a standard action.
I know of only one deity that offers Pride, and that's Olladra of the Sovereign Host from Eberron (Faiths of Eberron 149).
Travel Domain You get a contingent freedom of movement for 1 round per level per day (most likely just 1 round) and longstrider for +10' enhancement land speed for at least one hour per day. While the speed bonus is enhancement and scout levels (Complete Adventurer 11) and expeditious retreat can give more, this domain is excellent enough if you start at low levels that you may want to take the Travel Devotion as a feat instead.
Undeath Domain (Spell Compendium 281, Libris Mortis 60) You gain Extra Turning and detect undead as a first level spell. This domain is best for its feat for turning-heavy builds. Normally it isn't worthwhile.
Knowledge Devotion (Complete Champion 60): Requires 5 ranks in any Knowledge if taken as a feat
Even if bomb the check, you still get a bonus of at least 1.
This is one reason to go cloistered cleric. By my understanding of the rules, you can trade your Knowledge domain for Knowledge Devotion without meeting the prereqs.
Travel Devotion (Complete Champion 62)
This is effectively a non-psionic hustle with additional uses for clerics. When you take your first cleric level, you'll need to decide whether you want this devotion or the domain, but remember you can also spend a feat to gain the Travel Devotion. Most dragoons benefit more from the devotion.Travel Devotion Fine Print: Eat Your Heart Out, Spring AttackShow
Since Travel Devotion lets you move as a swift action, and these rules state you can perform a swift action any time you could normally perform a free action, then you could seemingly attack a creature, use Travel Devotion to move up to your speed, then attack another creature. This requires you get at least 2 attacks per round, but that's easy enough. I knew Spring Attack was weak, but Travel Devotion is just so spiffy in comparison!
Alternatively, jump as high as you can as a move action then jump again with Travel Devotion to make it a double jump! Glide afterward if you wish.
Aggressive: +2 Initiative, -1 AC Initiative is a major deciding factor in late-game battles and it's useful regardless. You lose 1 AC, even touch AC. This is not a gimme, but it's close.
Detatched: +1 Will, -1 Reflex While you're nimble, you probably have low HP for a melee type. A lower Reflex save means you take more damage, but a higher Will save means you're less likely to be mind controlled. (Remember, a natural 1 fails no matter your bonus!) This trait is mostly for early levels, before you get Moment of Perfect Mind (Tome of Battle 64).
Farsighted: +1 Spot, -2 Search This is an OK trait if you don't intend to use Search, and while it fits thematically, it probably won't give you a drastic edge.
Focused: +1 Concentration, -1 Spot & Listen If you're trying to max Concentration, take this; otherwise, think very carefully. Spot and Listen are greatly important.
Hardy: +1 Fortitude, -1 Reflex You should have a mammoth Fortitude save.
Illiterate: +1 on a Chosen Skill, -2 Skill Points The main reason for illiteracy is so you can squeeze every bit out of one skill check. This is another trait that's very build-specific.
Plucky: +1 Will, -1 Fortitude Your Fortitude save should be much higher than Will, but remember a natural 1 screws you regardless.
Quick: +10' Base Land Speed, -1 HP/Level The extra 10' allows you to move farther and grants +4 Jump; however, unless it allows you to get out of your enemies' reaches, you're asking for pain. If you feel lucky, take this knowing you've been warned.
Reckless: +1 Melee Damage, -1 Melee Accuracy It's more damage but you hit less. You get more damage from sacrificing the accuracy with Power Attack when double handing.
Saddleborn: +1 Ride, -1 Handle Animal As a dragoon, you shouldn't care about handling animals; you should care about doing superhuman flips and acrobatics from them as you plunge your spear through an enemy's jugular. This is a gimme for mounted dragoons and an incentive for unmounted dragoons to ride a bit more.
Slippery: +1 to Escape or Avoid Grapples, -1 to Grapple Others Dragoons don't grapple, and they normally dislike being held in place. This is another gimme.
Meager Fortitude: -3 Fortitude While you should eventually have a tremendous Fortitude, lowering it by 3 at level 1 can be quite painful. This is a flaw you may grow into.
Murky-Eyed: Must Penetrate Concealment Twice I've rarely had concealment be a concern in games I've played or DMed. Unless your DM continually uses concealment to his benefit, this is a gimme.
Pathetic: -2 to One Ability ...and this ability will be Charisma. Unfortunately, you can't take this flaw if your ability modifiers total to at least 8. Even if you could, I'd be disinclined to take it because of the cleric level. If you have no cleric level or use for Charisma, sink CHA as low as you need!
Shaky: -2 Ranged Accuracy Unless I relied on ray spells or bows, this is a gimme, though you need time to grow into it at low levels.
With gestalt, the build is mostly the same on one side. I assume you use one of the standard builds above. (I prefer the Powertool build.) Suddenly, level adjustments become more appealing, cloisteredclerics seem more interesting, and going gish looks like more of a necessity. Choose your build wisely according to what you most want to accomplish.
-You're normally limited to 1 PrC at a time. Typically, this is no problem.
-Foes tend to have massive AC and gobs of HP. You must be able to disable them before they act, keep them out of reach, and withstand more punishment. Often, touch AC is significantly higher.
-With more options available, you need to keep focus on what you most want to be able to do. In gestalt, you should have no trouble meeting feat requirements or have a BAB below ~85% of your level. You would need to seriously try to have a lower BAB than a standard non-gestalt build.
-If you become a wizard, I advise specializing in Conjuration for Abrupt Jaunt or Transmutation for more buff spells, such as wraithstrike (Complete Adventurer 158). Certain builds also benefit from Necromancy specialization for debuffs. Becoming a focused specialist (Complete Mage 34) is up to you, though you lose 1 general spell slot per spell level. Evocation, Enchantment, and Necromancy are the most common schools to ban because most their spells have saves, but banning illusion is also viable if you can live without the spell series of invisibility, mirror image, project image, shadow evocation (to mimic contingency and wall of force), and simulacrum.
-If in doubt, go full warblade (Tome of Battle 21) on one side. It's hard to go wrong with a d12 HD, full BAB, and maneuvers each level. If spells or powers are your thing, go full cleric, wizard, psion, or psychic warrior. If skills and acrobatics are your thing, rogue offers Uncanny Dodge, Evasion, a high reflex save, 8+INT mod skill points per level, and either +1d6 Sneak Attack or a fighter bonus feat every odd level.
Holancer: (Cloistered) Cleric3/Church Inquisitor2 (Complete Divine 26)/5/Contemplative6 (Complete Divine 30)/4 Requires lawful good or lawful neutral alignment for Church Inquisitor You have the uber goodness of full clerical casting, freeing a level from your main side. You can use Divine Metamagic: Quicken or Persistent 'til your heart's content. You are Powerful⁚ but fear your DM's wrath should you abuse your abilities.
Lucky Lancer: (Martial) Wizard5/Fortune's Friend5 (Complete Scoundrel 38)/Fatespinner4 (Complete Arcane 37)/6 Fortune's Friend requires a luck feat and 3 BAB Fatespinner requires L4 arcane spellcasting ability, L1 divination spellcasting ability, and Profession (Gambler) 5 ranks No matter how powerful you are, there's always at least a 5% chance you'll miss. You may lose your character from a failed will save. You may be one hit or crit confirmation away from killing something before it kills you. Regardless, if luck is on your side, chances are you'll avoid losing your character and may even do something spectacular. (It's the 1s and 20s that hurt the most.)
Wizard5 can get you the Luck domain power (Complete Champion 52), fortune's friend (Complete Scoundrel 38) allows more rerolls each day, and fatespinner allows you to reroll more often each day, even affecting others' rolls. Alternatively, take spontaneous divination at wizard5 and use alter fortune (Player's Handbook II 101) judiciously. Be mindful of the 200 XP casting cost!
If you use this build, you must decide whether you want to enter blade dancer (Oriental Adventures 37) as soon as practical or wait 'til you have fortune's friend and possibly also fatespinner levels.
Ragedancer: Half-Orc Paragon2//4 or Full BAB>7/Blade Dancer10 (Oriental Adventures 37)/X1 Requires lawful alignment and half-orcishness Raging paladins were all the rage awhile ago, but a raging blade dancer via half-orc paragon still allows you get Whirling Frenzy while taking 10 on Jump checks via blade dancer. If you're a half-orc, you may as well nab the feat Headlong Rush, allowing you to do double damage on a charge in exchange for provoking AoOs from everyone along the way.
Ruby Dragoon: (Cloistered) Cleric3/Church Inquisitor1 (Complete Divine 26)/Crusader1 (Tome of Battle 8)/Ruby Knight Vindicator7 (Tome of Battle 122)/X8 Requires lawful alignment (LG or LN for Church Inquisitor) and Wee Jas as your patron deity Ruby knight vindicator limits your domain choices, but is probably worthwhile if your DM allows Divine Impetus from RKV7 to grant an extra swift action per turn attempt used. If not, don't bother.
Spellspear: (Martial) [url=Wizard5/Spellsword4 (Complete Warrior 79)/11 Requires level 2 arcane casting ability, proficiency with all simple and martial weapons and with light, medium, and heavy armor Since you're gestalt, cleric1 provides a convenient way to get your armor proficiencies and barbarian gives you weapon proficiencies. This build uses wraithstrike and the spellsword's channel spell to debuff the target. Enervation, dispel magic, antimagic field, and similar spells are prime candidates but be mindful of spells that require saves.
You can continue in spellsword, but remember that more than 5 levels of spellsword is questionable for this build because of the lost caster levels.
If you use wizard as a base, then a necromancer, transmuter, or conjurer would be most helpful. Necromancers have ray debuffs, transmuters get Sudden Shift (Player's Handbook II 68) and polymorph et al, and conjurers get Abrupt Jaunt (Player's Handbook II 68) and many no save spells.
Windwraith: (Martial) Transmuter3/Master Transmuter2 (Complete Mage 70)/Incantatrix3 (Player's Guide to Faerun 61)/12 Incantatrix requires Iron Will, Extend Spell, and that you not ban Abjuration Long-term buffs require Persistent Spell (Complete Arcane 81) The goal is to buff yourself out of combat and use Persistent Spell and wraithstrike (Complete Adventurer 158) to ensure you hit on anything but a natural 1. With ample INT, caster levels, and spell slots, you can have your buffs run all day. Just watch out for the monumental Spellcraft checks!
Focused specialist (Complete Mage 34) is optional in this build: Transmutation is an excellent school, but you may want not want to nix a general slot every spell level. You already lose 2 schools from specializing and 1 more from Incantatrix.
Alternatively, trade Master Specialist for 2 more wizard levels for Granted Domain Power (Complete Champion 52). Luck, Time (Spell Compendium 281), Travel, or Undeath (Spell Compendium 281, Libris Mortis 60) are among the best domain powers for you.
I'm surprised you made it this far! I had little doubt on your ability to survive. I was especially concerned that your group kept interest and DM allowed it! Regardless, I offer you my best advice for managing at the pinnacles of power.
-Epic battles are initiative wars. If you aren't first, chances are someone will nix you before you can act. Even if you win initiative, a caster probably has a contingent clerity handy. (Initiative wars are common far before epic, but epic accentuates this.)
-Resistances and immunities are common, but HP damage is almost always viable. This works for and against you.
-Magic is common but antimagic is fairly common. You need to be viable when none of your magical toys work. Prepare to be dispelled often.
-Sometimes, you should let the casters handle it. If you're against something with massive HP and AC yet can't fly, let them disable it with reverse gravity before you swoop in and impale it.
-On a similar note, a crazy prepared caster is impossible to touch in epic, and the only way you can even approach him is if he allows you or gods intervene. (Casting, especially epic spellcasting is just that uber.) Meanwhile, a merely well-prepared caster is merely almost impossible to touch.
Classes for the Epic Dragoon
There's little to say except continue to hold to your concept. Classes that advance spellcasting are probably wise investments as creatures with little magic tend to die or become obsolete quickly in epic.
Class-wise, epic levels are a also chance to fill in some holes you couldn't pre-epic. I reiterate: Get magic somehow, be it straight cleric levels, ruby knight vindicator (Tome of Battle 122), jade phoenix mage (Tome of Battle 113), human paragon, or otherwise!
*This feat can be retaken. **This feat can be retaken with stacking effects.
If you qualify, your first epic feat will be Spell Stowaway (time stop). No exceptions. This allows you to act while time is stopped, surprising most casters and allowing you time to avoid being hit by delayed spells.
Failing that, read the below epic feat list, seriously contemplate what nonepic feats you want as they're often better, and pick what seems best for you.
This is mostly for gestalt dragoons. If you don't already have every useful domain, this is a worthy if typically low-priority choice. You may need this to get a domain with time stop for Spell Stowaway.
Finally, an epic feat most dragoons can use that doesn't entirely suck! Unfortunately, it has an icky prereq feat, and it doesn't stack with magic items, but you no longer need Boots of expeditious retreat. This feat is mostly for blade dancers (Oriental Adventures 37) who want even more ludicrous speeds and Jump checks.
It's 4 more initiative, and while there are ways to get ludicrously high initiative pre-epic, this feat gives you even more. You should have Improved Initiative far before you hit epic, meaning grabbing this feat is no sweat.
In terms of epic feats, this is good, even great. In terms of effects, this is of varying merit. You're probably a warblade who took Moment of Alacrity (Tome of Battle 64) meaning you get +20 initiative every fight; however, this only matters when you get your first turn, assuming you get a turn.
The Lancer (AKA The Dragoon) A composite character build by Tempest Stormwind, with valued contributions from the following board members: Shoes, Otto the Bugbear, Antidjinn, Bacris, Tenken, mommy was an orc, Jedrious, Sardrakh, Fendrin, Sentient, and very special thanks to Impeesa - a natural 20 to this build. Lovingly edited and formatted by Endarire. Inspired by the Final Fantasy dragoons.
Inspired by dragons. Trained for war. Glorious in battle.
The lancers are a diverse group of people that fight in a distinctive, if meteoric style. While they may appear no different than any other light foot soldier or cavalry when first encountered, their superhuman speed soon sets them apart. Their signature combat technique is revealed when one takes to the sky through a legendary leap, only to crash, weapon first, into their target before landing gracefully.
The style is passed on by way of individual mentors; each lancer recieved his or her basic training from a single, more experienced master. Such training often involves precision leaping from tall trees and, in extreme cases for experienced lancers, mountains. An individual lancer may then focus on any of several different techniques to round out their combat repotoire. In fact, the tradition declares that each individual lancer develop his or her own unique variation in the combat style. Some wield swords, others ride mighty steeds, and still others practice the way of the warrior-mage. In this way, they remain versatile on the whole, and adaptable individually, while allowing their techniques to expand and develop when new moves are learned, new magic discovered, or new gear engineered.
Lancers who focus on mounts prefer to be called dragon knights. The original founders of this combat technique, who have the strongest ties to the dragons themselves, often in service of Bahamut, call themselves dragoons. For practical purposes, the terms of 'dragoon' and 'dragon knight' are interchangable, and a typical lancer will answer to any of these.
Presented below is a suggested template for lancers. It is fully playable regardless of your character race. There are suggested adaptation tips below.
By and large, the lancer is a modular concept. Only three feats, Battle Jump (Unapproachable East 42), Leap Attack, and Power Attack, highlighted below, are absolutely required, though there feats required in this build that are NOT required to be a lancer. (Dodge is necessary for the blade dancer prestige class but optional for the dragoon concept.) In fact, your lancer could have a completely different class breakdown than this. It's entirely up to you whether you use this basic version or one of your own devising.
At its core, the build is a union of two simple optimization goals, the uberdamage charger and the mobility monkey.
Any Race, Nonchaotic Alignment. Lancers are all dedicated and disciplined individuals, often in military service. The original founders were paragons of virtue in the service of Bahamut himself, but the style has grown so much that today the best and worst that each race has to offer are found bearing the lance.
Stat Increases 4th: +1 to Wis (12 to 13) 8th: +1 to Str (15 to 16) 12th: +1 to Con (13 to 14) 16th: +1 to Str (16 to 17) 20th: +1 to Str (17 to 18)
The lancer requires only 13 STR, DEX, and WIS. Adjust these scores and adjustments as necessary if your chosen race has racial modifiers to one of these abilities. The use of certain feats or classes in customization may alter your priorities here as well.
Assumptions -Psionic powers meet the very loose blade dancer prerequisite.
That's it. Any DM allowing psionics is likely to see that the blade dancer was written for a psionicless campaign, but the class would still work with a psionic feel. (You can explain Battle Jumping scout as an ambush-technique specialist.)
If you feel the lawful alignment is too stringent, ask your DM. The description says many blade dancers frequently get drunk which doesn't seem lawful. Oriental Adventures errata states blade dancers must be nonchaotic instead of lawful.
^ Bonus Feat. [**] Races that do not favor scout or psychic warrior should take Additional Favored Class (Unearthed Arcana 100). Any race that favors scout, psychic warrior, or a suitable replacement can and should take the Run feat here.
The calculations below assume that you took the Run feat. Most lancers are likely to be human anyway, so they have the room.
 These two feat slots are fully rotatable for whatever your lancer wishes. They were chosen both for amazing Power Attack synergy and a nod to the historical dragoons, who were mounted infantry. Stand Still (XPH) and Combat Reflexes are solid replacements for a foot-only soldier using a reach weapon.
If you're more interested in raw damage, the Powerful Charge and Greater Powerful Charge options are useful here, both in Eberron Campaign Setting, although they are size dependent.
Do not underestimate the power of Cleave in this build. It and its bigger brothers, are the only way I know of to add more attacks to the end of the charge at the same damage potential as the charge! Cleaving is especially potent in full-attack-chargers. Don't take them if your DM isn't the sort to offer cleaving opportunities though, as this feat is highly situational unlike the others suggested here.
Monkey Grip (Complete Warrior) is another interesting feat for the damage-monger, as it lets you wield larger weapons with a lower penalty, which of course means more damage. Goliath and half-giant lancers already enjoy a similar ability. If you continue with psionic aspect of the lancer enough to reliably use expansion, psionics becomes an even more attractive choice.
The best feat choices for a damage dealer in general, however, would be Improved Bull Rush and Shock Trooper (CW), for the Heedless Charge maneuver. This not only virtually assures you a hit on an insane PA, but minimizes the penalty that the low AC brings by letting you walk away from the charge -- so far away that they can't even charge back at you unless they have a VERY high speed. Shock Trooper also synergizes nicely with skirmish.
For the tactical warrior, Deft Strike (Complete Adventurer) and Neraph Charge (Planar Handbook) are sound choices, especially since your advanced speed can get you out of most attack ranges while you use Deft Strike.
For the truly mobile, Psionic Charge (XPH) or a similar charge-redirection feat can sew mass chaos on everyone. Remember, OVER to DOWN is only a 90 degree change. (Watch your psionic focus!)
For a melee character, his hit points are surprisingly low, though thankfully he spends most of his time in positions that are impossible or impractical to hit. Improved Toughness (CW) can fix this somewhat, and it should probably be considered, especially if your race has a Constitution penalty.
If you want to limit the number of books you're using or improve your jump a bit, Skill Focus (Jump) and Acrobatic are the way to go. These let you attain similar results to the ones below but in FAR heavier armor, up to a -5 check penalty, for identical results.
Mix and match these or one of your own discovery as you wish.
Skills MUST HAVE Jump! Tumble!
SHOULD HAVE Balance, Climb, Listen, Spot.
WOULD BE NICE Concentration (if you took feats that require you to expend your psionic focus), Hide, Intimidate, Move Silently, Ride (Ride moves up if you wish to be partly or fully mount-dependent.)
Equipment MUST HAVE -Poiearm or spear. Use a lance if you intend to be mounted often or a halberd or longspear otherwise. Double hand your weapon for more damage.
-Light armor with a low armor check penalty. Mithril breastplates and chain shirts work wonders here. Get the halfweight property (Underdark) on mithril armor to make full plate considered to be light armor.
-Longbow or shortbow for skirmish.
SHOULD HAVE -Valorous weapon (Unapproachable East). When using a lance while mounted, you get triple your STR to damage.
-Speed enhancement. Boots of of continuous expeditious retreat cost 8000 gold by the charts. (Must provide a nonenhancement bonus or better than +20 feet enhancement bonus.)
-The perfect weapon for this lancer would probably be an aurorum (BoED) Illithidwrought (Und) Wrathful Healing (Enemies & Allies) Valorous (UE) lance of Collision (XPH). Mind your DR.
-There is a weapon in the A&EG, the halberd of vaulting, which gives a huge bonus on Jump checks and another damage multiplier for exactly this sort of attack; however, attempts to break down the pricing to figure out how much this should appropriately cost a PC proved that it's dramatically underpriced at the value it's listed! If it could readily be converted, it (enhanced with Valorous) would easily make the best base lancer weapon.
-The perfect 'heavy' armor for this lancer would probably be a mithral Halfweight Full Plate of Nimbleness (Magic of Faerun), possibly with Illithidwrought (Und). It has an armor check penalty of -1, regrettably, but +10 AC (before enhancement bonuses) with a max dex of +5 at half the weight of normal full plate. Alternately, a magical mithral breastplate of anything you choose will continue to function in antimagic, and allows greater customization with only slightly weaker protective capability. It lacks the style of a dragoon in full plate, though.
-Critical Booster: Keen/Maiming (Miniatures Handbook) Crits add yet another set of multipliers- and with both these enhancements your lance would be a 19-20/x1d6 weapon- but not every enemy is vulnerable to crits, and you can't count on them. That's why they're optional.
-Some way of summoning a CL 12 or 14 phantom steed: CL 12 for economy or CL 14 if you want all the options
-A method of performing full attacks after charging.
Custom Items, Less to More Luxurious Cape of Catfall A level 2 manifester is important should our jumps take 2 rounds. (See below.) We want it to activate every time we fall 20 feet or more. (Try persuading your DM to allow this cape to trigger when you fall at least 10' or even at least 2'!) By XPH/DMG pricing, this is 2000 GP before the contingent trigger. The Ring of Feather Falling is similar and costs 2200. This suggests a +10% increase in price for the contingent trigger. The final price is therefore 2200, which is comparable to the similar Ring of Feather Falling.
RESULT: A cape that, after falling for 20 feet or more, negates 20' of falling damage and causes you to land on your feet. Very handy, particularily with Tumble checks, and very stylish. Affordable at low levels, too!
Brooch of Inertial Barrier This L4 power requires a kineticist. A command word activation is OK because of its 10 min/level duration. (You may save money by making it a power completion item, thereby requiring passing checks to manifest inertial barrier.)
RESULT: DR 5/- and the complete negation of half your falling damage for at least 70 minutes per use. It's a buff and a parachute!
Bracers of Psionic Lion's Charge This L2 psywar power requires manifester level 4, though a higher ML allows for bonus damage. By the tables, an item of a continuous L4 version of this costs 64,000 gold. There are plenty of other ways to get full attacks on a charge.
RESULT: Pogo-lance for all the insane damage, but more than once! Wheee!
Psi Powers Psywar ML 2, 2 Powers Known, Max Level 1 Go with what you feel like here, though follow the golden rule of psionic dipping: Pick LONG DURATION or NO AUGMENT powers.
I'd suggest powers like synesthete, elfsight, or chameleon, since you'll be using these with your scout levels for so long and they remain useful even later. If you prefer an emergency HP reserve, get vigor.
Final Assets at Level 20 Assumed to have no magical equipment. The stuff above appears in parentheses.
Base Attack Bonus: +16. Epic ready.
Speed: 110 ft base (22 squares). On top of this, he runs at 5x this speed (which works out to, with no equipment, 68 miles an hour, or over a mile a minute), retains his dex bonus to AC while running (even when surprised), has Flawless Step, Up the Walls, Skirmish, a high Tumble and Spring Attack. This amounts to him doing this regardless of terrain, including on vertical surfaces, while getting bonus AC and damage, avoiding AoOs, and spring attacking from further away than most characters can move and attack (or, in extreme cases, charge.) Trackless Step and Ride the Wind are the icing on the cake. (If this is not enough for you, supplement it with your mount, and it's for this reason I suggest a phantom steed. It sticks to the high-speed-in-many-places theme, and can water walk, which means you can now literally run at this speed anywhere on the planet's surface.)
Jump Check: 23 (ranks) +4 (strength) +2 (Synergy) +20 (competence) +4 (Run) +32 (speed) [+anything from other feats like Skill Focus or items] = +85, plus effective Skill Mastery. This lets us take 10 for a high jump of 23.75 feet, or a long jump of 95 feet. He can clear 11.875 feet high jumping or 47.5 feet long jumping without moving first, which is enough to trigger Battle Jump (but not Leap Attack) on a Medium or shorter creature from melee, or Leap Attack (but not Battle Jump) from rest.
Other Skills: Acrobatics provides +20 and Skill Mastery in Balance, Climb, and Tumble as well as Jump. Tumble in particular should be taken to help avoid catastrophic falling damage. (See here for epic Tumble DCs.) Also, OA and the Epic Level Handbook both say that a DC 40 Tumble is all you need to take a 10' step as a 5' step, which means you can trigger Skirmish on close-quarters full attacks, or pull off a poor-man's hustle for evading full attacks.
Finally, max out Ride if you plan on using a mount. you use your mount's Jump check or your Ride check for those attacks, and it's cheaper/easier to compensate for the mount's jump in general than it is for your ride check. Besides, you have Mounted Combat. Keep your mount alive!
Other Combat Stats: Saves 10/12/5, with evasion. Initiative check of +4 due to Battle Fortitude. Also posesses Uncanny Dodge and Acrobatic Attack, and the most impressive Spring Attack you'll ever see this side of the two weapon rogue/tempest/elocator.
(The blade dancer's Acrobatic Attack as written is identical to the 3.0 duelist's ability of the same name, which was updated in the revision to Acrobatic Charge. For some DMs, this may alter the class feature somewhat, making it nearly obsolete as you'll just jump over most difficult terrain.)
Scouting: 30' blindsense, combined with an amazing Spot/Listen check, psionic powers that can augment this, and any natural sensory abilities the character enjoys due to race. On top of all this, he has AMAZING stealth options for an armored fighter with Camoflauge, Hide/Move Silently, and a low armor check penalty, hopefully.
Charge Discussion We all know that charges can be lethal when certain multiplicative effects are applied. This build was the first I know of to use Leap Attack and other multipliers to attain sickening returns on Power Attack.
By using a two-handed weapon such as the lance or most spears, a lancer performing any leap of 10' or more HORIZONTALLY as part of a charge deals triple his bonus damage from Power Attack, which is already +2 per -1 for using a 2-handed weapon. The Battle Jump feat doubles all your damage if you drop or jump DOWN onto an enemy from at least 5' above them to a maximum of 30' above them. (You take fall damage unless you negate it somehow.) Note well the distances; this prevents some types of jumps. Battle Jump also changes attacks into 'charges' even if they violate the charge movement rules: A lancer doing a vertical leap 5' above the target's height, and then falling, will behave as a charge even though the movement was not in the same direction or necessarily the same line. This is important, as some of your options do not trigger unless you 'charge,' mainly the Valorous weapon enhancement (UE) which further doubles all damage on a charge.
The easiest way to handle damage calculations this way is to figure out your multipliers on base damage and power attack separately, and then add the final results for each together. I've worked out a few basic formulas for you here: N = normal weapon damage without strength. (This includes anything else multiplied, like enhancement bonuses.) S = Strength modifier P = Power Attack penalty. M = Final damage multiplier under D&D rules since two doublings equal a tripling. (This is 3 for the normal lancer via Valorous + Battle Jump.) E = Extra damage from nonstacking sources, like Skirmish.
Assumes Leap Attack Triggered TWO HANDED WEAPON: M*(N+1.5*S) + 2*P*(M+2) + E ONE HANDED WEAPON: M*(N+S) + P*(M+1) + E
Basically, under normal conditions (Battle Jump + Leap Attack), this amounts to a 10:1 return on Power Attack, plus 3x normal weapon damage, every round. On foot.
Hence the battlecry for this build: "IN YOUR FACE, FRENZIED BERSERKER!"
(Note: You can drop M to 2 if you do a purely horizontal leap and thus do not trigger Battle Jump, which may work better in tight spaces. If you're completely unable to jump, this drops a fair bit, and you're limited to your weapon's reach as an advantage. Doesn't this remind you very much of the FFT lancers? Unlike them, however, you do have a VERY impressive Spring Attack range, which in the most beneficial case. You have an item granting a mere 10 or 15 extra feet on that which any artificer PC can design for you. (If your DM won't let you, see the item alteration infusion (ECS) and the Boots of Striding and Springing, swapping the enhancement bonus for luck or something. Alternatively, get an item of continuous expeditious retreat for 8000 gold.)
Yes, this is indeed EVERY ROUND! Your prodigous speed allows you to move however far back you need to still get a running start and pull off a leap that covers the requisite 10' horizontal, [enemy height+5]' vertical distance to trigger the charge on Battle Jump, and since you did leap 10' horizontally as part of this charge, Leap Attack kicks in, and... WORLD OF PAIN!
(For the player, the DMG general rule on monster height is that their height is approximately equal to their space, so a Large creature occupying a 10' square is about 10' tall. Skip quantifies the distinction between [Long] and [Tall] creatures in All About Mounts: Part 5.)
Furthermore, the lancer above is capable on foot and on a mount. When mounted, making such a leap limits his options somewhat, as he'll be using his Ride modifier or his mount's Jump modifier, whichever is lower. I'd suggest a phantom steed that's air walking and thusly able to jump from 10' above the opponent. The steed's excellent speed also helps for a wonderful Jump check. Assuming such a leap is possible, you get the same returns as before, but further doubled for a lance (just use it 2-handed), doubled again for Spirited Charge. This means that, for the big guns, he can end up with a 14:1 return, plus 5x normal damage, with the lowest maintenance mount I'm aware of. He does this without any levels in cavalier (CW), too!
If height is an issue, like you're trying to jump on the head of the dragon in true Kain style, use Up the Walls first. This can get you about a hundred extra feet off the ground. You then use your standard action on "start full round action (charge)," leaping away from the wall, tree, dragon, or whatever you ran up. Your next round will be spent finishing the movement and finishing the charge. Just like the Final Fantasy Tactics lancers, your target may move and thus you miss, but in the mid-round you're much, much harder to hit. Up the Walls also has the added flavor bonus of being, effectively, Ignore Height when your speed is this high. (Ignore Height is a marginally useful but very memorable FFT lancer ability.) To get the most out of maneuvers like this one, activate your dorje of hustle first as a swift action. (See Rules Compendium for details. The Sage ruling in Rules of the Game 2 has no link available.) Use the extra move action to run up the wall, and then you still have your full-round action to charge. This compresses the attack into a single round. (NOTE: Since this was published, the barbarian's lion totem alternative class feature from page 46 of Complete Champion has made pouncing quite easy.)
Alternately, on landing from ANY leap, activate the dorje of catfall if you can. Obviously, it won't work on a hustleUp the Walls jump, as you're out of swift actions, but it will work on a two-round jump or a normal jump without a wall. Use the extra move action to withdraw out of anyone's reach. Your abundant speed and Tumble skill, or Mobility and Skirmish, should be reliable. This also helps you reposition after you land should you miss your opponent on the two-round leap.
Finally, since he's moving a fair bit more than 10', he gets +3d6 on all damage and +3 AC. This isn't terribly critical but it's helpful considering your lighter armor and your need to make your one attack this round count.
Customization The lancer is VERY customizable. The armor enhancement, most of the weapon enhancements, between two and four feats (race dependent), the selection of secondary style (mounted, heavy armor, tactical, etc.) are up to you.
In fact, a fully-mounted version is quite possible; my favorite is paladin 5 / cavalier 10 / paladin+5. Simply take some advanced flying mount or the like as your steed, grab your two-handed lance, and be ready to charge. The mount's bonus HD will help you improve its Jump check, as now it can qualify for certain feats including Skill Focus (Jump) and has skill points to spend on Jump. This version, using Unstoppable Charge on a Battle Jump, has a whopping 18:1 return on Power Attack, along with 7x the normal weapon damage, provided he uses the lance two-handed. (Surprisingly, Combat Brute (CW) doesn't help this damage much, but it does give you a similar return on your second attack should you remain in melee rather than spring attacking.)
An alternate heavily-overhauled build is one I will not explicitly quantify, the Supreme Cleaving Full-Attack-Charging Mounted Battle-Jump Attacking Frenzied Berserker lancer. In the interests of avoiding TPKs, DMs should put away their notepads right now, and players should turn off their twink instincts. Any player or DM who attempts to field this behemoth fully deserves the inevitable sack beating behind the game table. The author of this post is not liable for such injuries.
Humans have the easiest time with this build, as expected. A favored class of Any means that they don't need Additional Favored Class, and they get a bonus feat at level 1. Half-Elves come next, also for the same reason.
Not surprisingly for a damage build, the half-orc has another interesting option available to it. The feat Headlong Rush (Races of Faerun) allows a half-orc to double his charge damage YET AGAIN at the cost of provoking AoOs for his movement. A lancer's traditional charge movement is FAR higher than most people can reach with an AoO. This adds 2 to the return on any Power Attack here and adds another multiple to any normal damage; 4x, 12:1 standard, 6x, 16:1 above build while mounted, 8x, 20:1 cavalier version. This damage is NOT on a critical hit!
To put this in perspective, the Ubercharger "only" has 6x, 12:1, and manages a damage range of 1803-1908 with assorted buffs and no less than four miracles. Ouch. (To my knowledge, this sets a new Dungeons and Dragons world record for damage multiplication on a charge.)
The kalashtar (ECS) is another interesting racial choice. Take 1 level of psion instead of psywar and 1 more level of scout instead of the other psywar level. Doing so frees you from taking Additional Favored Class and gets you another scout bonus feat! Spend your psion feat on Up the Walls and your scout bonus feat on run to pull this off properly. You end up with far more power points than usual plus a larger repotoire of powers known by 1, plus the kalashtar's mindlink ability, allowing you to more manifestations. Kalashtar also has the advantage of having Up the Walls when your only multiplier is Battle Jump, so you can trigger the multiples far more often.
Goliaths (Races of Stone) are a surprisingly good race for this, if you're willing to put up with the +1 LA or are using LA buyback in Unearthed Arcana. Not only do they get their famous Powerful Build which lets them use large weapons at no penalty, but they also have a lesser-known ability, Mountain Movement, that lets them make standing jumps as if they were running jumps,a racial ability that's better than the Legendary Leaper Epic feat! Combine this with a strength bonus to aid both combat and jump checks, and you have a winner. This is amazing in confined areas, or for those who want to pull off a Matrix style jump. (With a little bit of flavor work, the lancers could easily reflect a goliath hunting style. Follow your target in stealth for miles, then leap on it from the cragtops, killing it in one blow.)
If goliaths aren't allowed, half-giants (XPH) are functionally similar. They too have powerful build and a strength bonus at a +1 LA, and while they do not have Mountain Movement, they do have other bonuses, one of which is a favored class of psychic warrior, meaning no need for Additional Favored Class. The bonus power points from Naturally Psionic means, that you can manifest more than once without fear of losing your focus, and you can take psionic feats from level 1 should you decide to open with psychic warrior instead of scout.
If your DM allows Planar Handbook, playing a neraph lancer is certainly not a bad call. They are famous as +0 LA outsiders, but they also have a racial version of the Neraph Charge feat mentioned above (deny foe dex bonus to AC on charge, 1/enemy/combat), and a racial bonus on Jump checks. They favor ranger, though, so keep that in mind when building your character.
Raptorans (Races of the Wild) may prove an interesting choice for many a lancer. They get a +10 racial bonus on Jump checks, gliding, and the eventual ability to fly. They also have low light vision and the ability to ignore falling damage. (If they're knocked unconscious, they take only d6 damage from falling, regardless of the distance.)
Flavor-wise, raptorans who relish melee combat but blend it with their flight and natural mobility. This is true aerial assault, if it does part a bit more with the Final Fantasy flavor than the other races do. This does not change their effectiveness.
In the end, raptoran or goliath is probably the most optimal race to build this lancer with, beyond the omnipresent human. Other lancer builds may favor other races, like the half-orc for damage or kalashtar for psionics. (Editor's note: Raptorans are the most statistically optimal race listed here if you can play as them; however, a dragonborn (Races of the Dragon 8) half-orc is better in nearly every case! See above in Under the Hood for details.)
Setting Suggestions Generic Stick to the basic description above, a loosely-knit master/apprentice style of warrior originally inspired by dragons and created by paragons of virtue in service of Bahamut himself.
Faerun Battle Jump is a regional feat which suggests your lancer should play as someone from the region of Taer. (You may be able to take 2 ranks in Knowledge (local (Taer)) and qualify as a member of any region.) A lancer here should probably be a bit more like the Goliath lancer described above, in that you depart from the knight archetype and move onto a hunter/defender archetype.
The Taer as a race aren't for everyone, though. I don't expect to see many dragon knight style lancers in Faerun, at least as written. (Variant lancers work just fine.)
If you scrap Battle Jump, lancers can come from nearly anywhere, as can many region-free builds in Faerun. No one region I can think of exemplifies this sort of feel. This alters your jump tactics accordingly.
Eberron After doing some rethinking and rereading, I've determined the best places for lancers in Eberron as either Aundair or Adar. In Aundair, they would be elite shock trooper & skirmisher hybrids, employed during the Last War to assault key targets and get out alive. Penetration would be due to either excellent stealth skills (and as scouts, they can manage this), or for higher-level lancers, leaping off of the traditional dragonhawk mount, striking the targets, then fleeing by either leaping back on the dragonhawk or simply running like mad, spring attacking as they went.
The Adar lancers, however, fit this particular build far more. For one thing, Adar is a region of mountains and ridges, with narrow passes being the only way for the Riedran forces to assault the fortresses. In this situation, the lancers would serve similar purposes to the Aundair shock skirmishers, tracking their targets from the shadows for an ideal location, leaping from the ridges, striking critical targets, and retreating so swiftly that nothing can touch them. This has the added benefit of fitting the psionic feel of this build while retaining the dragon link; Adar's mountains are supposedly protected by blue dragons. In this case, to honor that tale (which may be true) and to perpetuate the story, the lancer should wear blue armor, stylized to resemble dragons, exactly like Kain. :D (Note that the kalashtar adaptation above works wonderfully here as well, to fit a prominent race.)
Epic Lancers Lancers are ambitious people, and frequently they strive to change the world. One of the dragoons, Sir Kain Highwind of Baron, is so renowned that his very name has become synonymous with the style, and he serves as an inspiration to everyone.
However, the few lancers that accomplish enough to be counted among the heroes of bardic epics are just as diverse as the rank-and-file lancers found throughout the world.
Generally they focus on whatever is expedient at the time.
In the case of this particular lancer build, level 21 is plotted already; Legendary Leaper (CV) is a natural for this build. I'd highly suggest continuing blade dancer until level 10 at the very least for Supreme Fast Movement, taking feats like Epic Skill Focus (Jump) or the like. (Goliath lancers should probably take Epic Skill Focus as their first epic feat, as they already have a close-enough approximation of Legendary Leaper.) Epic blade dancer may also be a sound choice, but I can't remember if there ever was an "official" one published. Still, it isn't too hard to devise an epic progression for it. (NOTE: Since Tempest's original guide was published, Player's Handbook II, page 80 has the feat Leap of the Heavens, available from *level 1*, outdoes even Legendary Leaper!)
Since, for a melee-esque character, the lancer has only mediocre hit points (121 or so at level 20 on average with a modest CON bonus and without Improved Toughness), Epic Toughness might actually be a viable choice here. For lancers who focus heavily on one weapon type, the Devastating Critical (CW) feat chain is certainly worth a look into. For the lancer with more than a passing interest in riding, there are an assortment of mount-related feats worth looking into, along with levels in Cavalier. Be advised that cavalier Deadly/Unstoppable Charges are actually less effective than they sound in the class ability; they count as another doubling or a tripling of the damage in the end, that's all.
The psionically-inclined lancers are strongly encouraged to look into the path of the Illithid Slayer (XPH). It has one of the best arrays of maintain-focus options I've ever seen, and since you probably don't have a lot of Expend-Focus feats, it's worth it. The nearly-full manifesting ability is icing, especially since you will now hit the point where you can use hustle on your own instead of buying a few psionic afterburners every now and again. Qualifying might prove problematic for non-humans, though, unless you used ranger somewhere in the build or took a few more scout levels. (If you wish to expand into Expend-Focus feats, get yourself a psicrystal and Psicrystal Confinement.)
Scout is a good backup if you can think of nothing else. It has a good array of complimentary class features for the remaining 9 levels within it, for sensation, stealth, and mobility, and the extra speed and skirmish power doesn't hurt. The hit points are the weakest aspect of this class, though.
Finally, if you want to play up the dragon side of the dragon knights, there are an assortment of decent classes in Draconomicon that you may find interesting.
Essentially, your epic options are as variable and versatile as your character has been up to this point. You're not wanting for choices, so choose wisely and well.
Adaptation: Let's face it, not every DM is going to allow this many books. Some don't want to use OA for flavor or revision purposes, others deny FR material, and still others hate psionics. What to do in these cases?
No Psionics This hurts you a fair bit, but you can recover. The obvious replacement of psywar with fighter isn't as wise as it would be normally. You still need to be able to cast first level spells for blade dancer. For this reason, I'd suggest dropping two levels of either blade dancer or scout as well as trade psywar for four levels in paladin, hexblade (CW), or ranger depending on your preference, and ability scores in the case of the hexblade, a charisma caster. I recommend Sohei (OA) instead, which also grants spells at 4th level. I haven't seen the 3.5 update for this class, but as written, the signature Ki Frenzy ability further increases your speed and gives you a flurry-like ability. To top it all off, no ability score modifications are required, as Wisdom is its key ability score. In this case, the Bracers of Psionic Lion's Charge mentioned under Would Be Nice become a Should Have.
Using any of these nets you a higher attack bonus (usually) along with a few other interesting class features if you wish. You've lost Up the Walls and a Cape of Catfall as well- consider the Dash feat (Player's Guide to Faerun) to make up for the lost Speed of Thought, and a same-price-but-far-less-effective ring of feather fall- be sure to custom make this one so it doesn't slow you down too early.
No Oriental Adventures This is crippling if you want truly epic leaps, but you can recover as well. The easiest solution here is to replace blade dancer with 2 or 3 levels in scout, fighter or psywar, and 4 or 5 levels in thief-acrobat (CV). This returns your Skill Mastery in Jump along with Defensive Roll and, possibly, Improved Evasion. The cost is a lower base attack bonus and, of course, a SIGNIFICANTLY less effective Jump check; however, since the blade dancer provided Competence bonuses- the easiest ones to get with magic items- replacing it isn't going to be difficult, just slightly expensive. Speed enhancers and jump boosters become critical in this variant.
Another easy solution to this would be the Exemplar (CV). I'm not terribly familiar with the class, but from what my early perusals show, it seems like a decent, if humble, replacement for blade dancer in the Jump department.
No Faerun Material You lose Battle Jump and the Valorous enchant. That's about it. This puts less of an emphasis on high jumps and more on jumps in general, as you no longer need to fall DOWN on your opponent. However, this does also cut out some of the interesting "charge" triggers, as now you're held to the same movement-as-charge restrictions that everyone else is, meaning you must charge in a straight line with no other movement this round. I'm sure you can find a feat to replace Battle Jump.
Core Only Play a druid and pretend you're a dragoon.
One-Plus-One Gaming This is a variant I'm familiar with. DMs allow builds that have one, at most two, classes in them, base or prestige. In this variant, I'd suggest going scout into blade dancer at some high level. You would lose out on martial weapon proficiency at lower levels which isn't critical unless you're going for a mounted build; just use a longspear or other two-handed simple weapon. For psionic feats, you can get by with Wild Talent or a Naturally Psionic race if you wish. If you don't have access to those, then follow some of the No Psionic tips above.
(I should also note that in this variant, many magic items are limited to two special properties, not counting enhancement bonuses. Hence why I phrased the equipment section like I did and limited the abilities of the unique gear.)
Exalted Dragoons Another option if you like your exalted material is to replace 2 levels of blade dancer with 2 levels of vassal of Bahamut (BoED). This is difficult to do, but possible, and it fits the flavor of Kain very, very well. I mean, a Lawful Good character who is intimiately tied to the dragons? You get effective heavy armor with virtually no penalty, AMAZING senses (4x low light + 120 darkvision), plus a spell or two. You can even replace psywar with fighter under this build, as you can meet the blade dancer prerequisite with VoB levels. The problems with this one are easy: Your feats get very tight, you have to have slain a red dragon solo- not as hard as it seems if you're using this build and have an advantage- you must be contacted by an emissary of Bahamut, you must worship Bahamut, you must maintain Exalted status, and you're under a Vow of Obedience to Bahamut.
Yeah, they're pretty fierce, but you knew the risks when you accepted Exalted rules.
Conclusion So, what do we have in the end?
We have a scout character who is fully playable from level 1 regardless of race. He'll be as effective as any low-level multiclasser until level 6, when he truly begins to shine. After that point, the rest is developing the signature attack form to some epic-like levels.
He fits the FFT lancer feel very, very well, with very high jumps that sometimes take more than one round to finish, a breastplate (or heavier armor), and a lance. He has a nod to historical dragoons in his potential as a mounted fighter as well as an infantryman, though admittedly the similarities stop there.
The build is EXTREMELY customizable, and adapts to virtually any expanded ruleset.
The core mechanic is easily ported to builds that only BARELY resemble this one, such as the Pally/Cavalier above. (Virtually ANY charger could gain from this.)
The Power Attack returns are the stuff of legends.
He is THE final word on tactical movement without using the Elocator (XPH).
He breaks many archetypes of armored warriors, in having excellent scouting and stealth options, plus a large skill list for most of his career. (I still find it funny that it's perfectly possible to attain primary-combatant roles without levels in fighter or a related base class. Psywar is a support combatant similar to monk and bard, IMHO.)
Since the core mechanic is so simple, he's remarkably equipment-light. Any two lancers built by different people are going to have different gear, even possibly different weapons, as anything that you can Power Attack with works, though two-handedness is highly preferred. (I choose the lance for flavor and mount synergy, though I can see lancers striking with their gauntlets or greaves if need be, or anything a berserker would use.)
It even manages to remain true to the FFT lancer in build mechanics, the scout is a union between an archer's combat and a thief's skill prowess, while the FFT lancer required training as both an archer and a thief.
In closing, we have the Final Fantasy Dragoon. In D&D.
See you in the skies.
Noncore Books Required Complete Adventurer (Some material in linked excerpt above) Expanded Psionics Handbook (all relevant material also in the SRD) Oriental Adventures (Blade Dancer) Unapproachable East (Battle Jump feat and Valorous weapon enchant)
Recommended Unearthed Arcana (required only for Additional Favored Class)
Other optional material mentioned in the above post is from Complete Warrior, Races of Stone, Races of the Wild, Eberron Campaign Setting, Book of Exalted Deeds, Arms & Equipment Guide, Underdark, Magic of Faerun, Enemies & Allies, Miniatures Handbook, Player's Guide to Faerun, and Planar Handbook.
Well, ****, you asked for constructive criticism. I'd add some, if I had any.
Uhm... well, here's an attempt: This handbook doesn't make me coffee in the mornings. Could we get a fix on that?
Coastercris: Need some ideas for an epic level tank Zaxter: Wizard Coastercris: a wizard can be a tank i was looking for a male toon Zaxter: Oh, sorry. Male wizard. Coastercris: what classes would it be Zaxter: Wizard. Coastercris: and what else Zaxter: More wizard.
Is it true that you can apply the uncarnate construct to a warforged? If this is true wouldn't this also mean you can apply it to the good-aligned zombie elves in Eberron? Both are Living Constructs (or atleast I think they are.....could be wrong....)
Woah... so much... Sblocks.... It's intimidating ^^'' I had not the time to read it all, but it seems very interesting. I've one question: how much can your Dragoon jump? Is enaugh to beat the world record?
This build won't beat world records since it isn't a Jump monkey, but one can jump 1 foot horizontally for each point of result, meaning a result of 100 is a 100' long jump, and this jump will probably require at least 2 turns to complete. Also, at the jump's midpoint, you reach a vertical height of 1/4 the horizontal distance, or 25 feet if you move the full amount. Mind the ceilings.
One can also jump up 1 foot vertically for every 4 points of result, meaning a result of 100 is a 25' high jump. Dragoons typically benefit more from long jumps.
I assume one can choose to jump less than their Jump check result, else things become ridiculous.
(My ECL4 half-minotaur water orc has a Jump check of +48 now. With Leap of the Heavens, I can, from a standing position, trigger Battle Jump on a Large or smaller creature with a natural 1. When I get Leap Attack, I'll also be able to trigger that on a natural 1 assuming I'm properly positioned.)
Okay, here's my porting of this build to a single-classed character (psychic warrior, in this case).
Race: Raptoran Class: Psychic warrior 20
Ability Priorities: Str and Wis are the most important stats. Dex and Con are of secondary importance, and your Int needs to be 10 or above for the skills needed. Cha is a dump stat, like almost all fighter-types.
Skills: Since you are more of a manifester than the standard dragoon, Concentration is of prime importance. Jump is, obviously, also important. And unless you've got lots of good stats, that's pretty much all you're going to get. If you can spare the points, get Tumble next. And don't forget the 2 ranks of Knowledge (local Taer).
Note that these feats are largely suggestions, especially the higher-level ones. 1st: Battlejump, Up the Walls 2nd: Power Attack 3rd: Improved Bull Rush 5th: Leap Attack 6th: Power Lunge 8th: Psionic Weapon 9th: Shock Trooper 11th: Deep Impact 12th: Psionic Meditation 14th: Improved Sunder 15th: Expanded Knowledge (schism) 17th: Combat Brute 18th: Leap of the Heavens 20th: Improved Buckler Defense
Many of these powers are also suggestions, and you can change them for a different build. The important powers have a star by them. 1st: urban strider* 1st: adrenaline boost 1st: synesthete 2nd: wall walker* 2nd: extend reach 2nd: psionic lion's charge* 3rd: concealing amorpha, greater 3rd: graft weapon 3rd: dimension slide 4th: inertial barrier 4th: psionic freedom of movement 2nd: hustle* 4th: schism 5th: perfect riposte 5th: adapt body 5th: psychofeedback 6th: form of doom 6th: inconstant location 6th: personal mind blank 6th: dispelling buffer 6th: blackstone hammer
You will note that pretty much none of the higher-level powers are essential. This is quite often a problem for the psychic warrior.
This dragoon starts off quite strong, with Battlejump and Up the Walls right away. Urban strider also helps, by allowing you to ignore difficult terrain (which is the bane of almost all chargers). It continues to be strong but unexciting at 2nd and 3rd levels. At 4th level, you gain wall walker, which combined with Up the Walls will allow you to run along walls and remain there. 5th level grants you Leap Attack, giving you a much welcome boost in damage. The next level gives you psionic lion's charge (though you can't really use it until 9th level when you get two attacks) and Power Lunge, which at the risk of AoOs increases your damage even more (extend reach is there so you take fewer AoOs). 7th level gives you greater concealing amorpha, which is fairly good for reducing the number of AoOs that actually hit you. The other 3rd level powers are mostly filler. Shock Trooper, your 9th level feat, suddenly makes you vastly more likely to hit. You also get your second attack at 9th level, so psionic lion's charge starts getting used more.
11th level gives you Deep Impact, but you can only really use it once an encounter at this point. This is remedied on your next level, when you get Psionic Meditation and hustle, which combined let you regain your focus as a swift action. At this point, you have pretty much all the feats and powers you need, and the rest is mostly filler. Note that if you have flaws, you can get your important feats much faster.
This build as written has several strengths, not least of which is that it only requires one class. It has a large nuber of free feats, and also has full psychic warrior manifesting. These two facts mean that you have room to add another role to your character as well as that of lancer. It also can be taken by almost any race without worrying about multiclassing penalties. And it needs to be said that some GMs might accept this build better because of its lack of large amounts of multiclassing.
However, it also has quite a number of weaknesses. The most prominent weakness is thatit only gains +15 BAB. However, this can be mitigated by taking Track in place of one of the copious free feats, and gaining levels in Illithid Slayer. Its other primary weakness is lack of skills. Simply put, it cannot act as a scout effectively like the original version of the lancer. This added to the fact that it still cannot act as a front-line tank greatly limits its role. Multiclassing can alleviate this, but this dilutes the high-level manifesting that is this build's main strength.
I hope that this can be helpful to someone looking to play a dragoon.
Quick note: Thri-kreen's jump bonus is racial (not competence), so it stacks with any other modifiers (including the Blade Dancer).The 2 HD and +1 LA is worth it for a dragoon with an additional +35 in jump over humans IMO.
The major drawback is its third level spell limit, but remember that spells cast into this weapon use the caster's caster level and DC. Slow against a major villain as part of a full attack, anyone?
I'm sorry if this has been brought up before.
SRD]Any time the weapon strikes a creature and the creature takes damage from it, the weapon can immediately cast the spell on that creature as a free action if the wielder desires.
I don't see how the spell damage would be multiplied. The spell's not actually a part of your charge attacks. The spell just happens to go off during them. A spell that requires an attack roll might get some bonuses from charging, but they won't be the same ones that applied to your normal melee attacks.
edit: Against anything that's not [cold], I think a Sudden Maximized Shivering Touch would be a great spell to put in a spell storing wrote:
Any time the weapon strikes a creature and the creature takes damage from it, the weapon can immediately cast the spell on that creature as a free action if the wielder desires.[/quote] I don't see how the spell damage would be multiplied. The spell's not actually a part of your charge attacks. The spell just happens to go off during them. A spell that requires an attack roll might get some bonuses from charging, but they won't be the same ones that applied to your normal melee attacks.
edit: Against anything that's not [cold], I think a Sudden Maximized Shivering Touch would be a great spell to put in a spell storing weapon.