As usual for the showcase, these builds are intended to spur discussion and perhaps inspire a few people in the spirit of the old CO boards. They come from members of my gaming group - me, TempestStormwind, DisposableHero_, Andarious, Sionnis, and Seishi - and I'll always identify who wrote the build at the start, so do not assume I'm the guy behind all of them (because I'm not!).
Unless otherwise noted, showcase builds use 28 point-buy, and have their snapshots evaluated using fractional base attack / saves (because it simplifies the math). None of them actually rely on fractional to be built, though. The format I use showcases their progression at key levels rather than just presenting the build and showing off a few tricks at level 20; most of these are capable of being played 1-20 if you so choose.
With that out of the way, let's get started. This week, I’m offering one of Andarious’ builds, and the first dedicated melee build in more than a few weeks.
Rest in pieces.
Required Books: Eberron Campaign Setting/Races of Eberron (but see Race and Variants), Tome of Battle, Expanded Psionics Handbook, Complete Warrior, Complete Scoundrel (1 feat, but oh what a feat)
Unearthed Arcana used: None. It’s an Andarious build, you surprised?
Background: A while back Andarious noticed the Combat Brute feat and decided he had to play around with the Momentum Swing maneuver it offered. The first build to come out of this was a little bruiser called the Momentum Blade. If there’s interest in it, we’ll offer it up for the vote later. Andarious wasn’t quite satisfied with the BAB that the Momentum Blade ended up with, so he made a pure warblade build that used the same trick. The result is a nice combo build that will lay out serious hurt every round. After enough levels, you will likely not have to recover your maneuvers unless you’re up against huge groups of opponents, as it’s unlikely that there will be anything left standing after you complete your combo routine.
- Race: Kalashtar. Nets you the psionic template and enough power points so that a single power draining effect may not totally clean you out. Any psionic race with no LA or Str/Dex penalties will do, or even a human with Wild Talent. Elan’s another option.
- Ability Scores: 14/12/14/14/14/8. All your level increases should go into Strength, which is the first ability score to get tomes too. You’ll need +1 manual for Dex before you take Combat Reflexes, should you choose to take it.
Skill Notes: Max Concentration and Tumble, and take these four skill tricks (at the following levels), Twisted Charge (2), Up the Hill (4), Nimble Stand (6), and Acrobatic Backstab (9). Make sure you meet their prereqs in time. Andarious’ level 20 set up also maxed out Martial Lore and put 17 in jump, 18 in Climb, 14 in Swim (enough to swim in Mithral Full Plate during a storm given our Str), and 12 in Balance. That’s a fairly good setup for a mobile combatant.
Basic Equipment: A greatsword and the best armor that fits. Breastplate will do you fine at the early levels; mithral breastplate later on. You lack ranged proficiencies, so be careful; consider tanglefoot bags for snagging tricksy enemies who won’t sit still.
Magical Gear Goals: A Third Eye Concentrate for +10 to your Concentration checks is an absolute given. You want to grab yourself a pair of Shadow Hands carrying the Cloak of Deception maneuver around level 7, definitely by level 9. It’s very useful. Later on you’ll want a Ring of Evasion and a Ring of Diamond Mind, the latter used to pick up Moment of Alacrity. If you fear grappling more than Reflex save effects, a ring of Freedom of Movement is an alternative to Evasion. If you want to sunder regularly, you’ll want a greatsword made of adamantine.
Build Stub: Warblade 20
1 – Warblade – (Battle clarity (Reflex saves), weapon aptitude) (Psionic Weapon) (Steel Wind, Moment of Perfect Mind, Sapphire Nightmare Blade, Punishing Stance) *
At level 1 your attack sequence is simple, hit em with everything round one. Greatsword 2d6+Punishing Stance 1d6+Sapphire Nightmare Blade 1d6+Psionic Weapon 2d6=6d6 (21)+4 for Str, a lovely final average of 25 damage in one hit. Keep in mind that the average HP for a CR 3 enemy is 27. Rotate between a single attack (recovering maneuvers) and a Sapphire Nightmare Blade each two rounds thereafter until everything falls down. If you want to pace yourself, open with Sapphire Nightmare Blade, then use Psionic Weapon on your recovery round before returning to SNB. Average HP for a CR 1 threat is 12.24, and you can deal enough damage to drop one every round for the first three rounds, even with Punishing Stance off.
2 – Warblade – (Uncanny dodge) (Charging Minotaur) *
It’s a handy little maneuver. Keep it in mind for later.
3 – Warblade – (Battle ardor (critical confirmation)) (Power Attack) (Battle Leader’s Charge) *
Your attack routine for a while is going to be:
Round 1: the best charge you have
Round 2: the best Nightmare Blade you have, with appropriate Power Attack
Round 3: recover maneuvers, find another target
At this level, Psionic Weapon should go on Round 1 if against a low-Dex opponent and Round 2 against a high-Dex opponent, to maximize chances of it connecting.
4 – Warblade – (Action Before Thought > Steel Wind, Leading the Charge) *
MOAR DAMAGE. Enjoy your new default stance!
5 – Warblade – (Unnerving Calm) (Iron Heart Surge) *
The duel of wills can give you a little buff, or your opponent a little debuff.
6 – Warblade – (Improved uncanny dodge) (Deep Impact) *
See level 3, but we don’t spend our Psionic Focus on Psionic Weapon anymore. Full Power Attack against a hosed AC can ruin someone’s day.
7 – Warblade – (Battle cunning (damage)) (Ruby Nightmare Blade) *
Around this level you should be getting those gloves of the Shadow Hand. They should be 16% of your 19k wealth at that level. Against low-Dex opponents, a full Power Attack RNB will HURT.
8 – Warblade – (Mind Over Body > Sapphire Nightmare Blade) *
Now with RNB and Cloak of Deception running, you're able to outperform SNB dramatically.
9 – Warblade – (Blind-Fight, Psionic Meditation) (Disrupting Blow) *
A lot of good stuff comes online. You can finally grab the Acrobatic Backstab skill trick. Psionic Meditation allows in combat reloading, so Deep Impact can be used multiple times per combat without that awful full round action cost to refocus. Disrupting Blow is a lovely maneuver for a high-Str warblade. And Blind-Fight?
10 – Warblade – (Hearing the Air) *
Here’s what Blind-Fight is for. Invisible opponents just became a lot less threatening.
11 – Warblade – (Battle skill (opposed checks)) (Iron Heart Endurance) *
3rd iterative attack! IHE provides some resilience, and while Greater Insightful Strike does provide reliable damage, it's not hard to replace particularly later on when you've got access to Strike of Perfect Clarity.
12 – Warblade – (Improved Sunder) *
Usually a meh tactical choice – you don’t want to destroy potential loot – but it’s a prereq.
13 – Warblade – (Improved Initiative) (War Leader’s Charge) *
And a better charge shows up!
14 – Warblade
15 – Warblade – (Battle mastery (attacks of opportunity)) (Combat Brute) (Diamond Nightmare Blade) *
This is the level where the Dream Blade picks up the schtick that Andarious was building it towards. Combat Brute’s Momentum Swing maneuver comes online at the same time as you get access to Diamond Nightmare Blade, and with Deep Impact and Cloak of Deception fueling your attacks, you should routinely be pushing 180 damage with your DNBs. (The average HP for a CR 15 monster is 224.63, mind you). Oh, and Momentum Swing isn’t the only maneuver Combat Brute has to offer; this is the other reason to keep Charging Minotaur in mind.
16 – Warblade – (White Raven Hammer > Ruby Nightmare Blade, Stance of Alacrity) *
Your attack routine now looks like:
Round 1: Best charge you have
Round 2: Full power attack, Deep Impact, and Dex denial on a Diamond Nightmare Blade
Round 3: White Raven Hammer, either to finish off or hold your original target in place, or to snag your next target
Stance of Alacrity allows counters to be used each round while maintaining available standard actions, OR lets you use multiple counters in a single round if need be. Helpful against a barrage of effects that would drain your Diamond Mind counters.
17 – Warblade – (Combat Reflexes) (War Master’s Charge) *
Best charge there is!
18 – Warblade – (Adaptive Style) (Time Stands Still > Battle Leader’s Charge) *
Adaptive Style allows for more reliable defense as well as more versatile options for both defense and attack. It also feeds well into Heroics shenanigans from allies or an eternal wand. The winner here, however, is of course Time Stands Still. Add to your attack routine:
Round 4: Time Stands Still to mop up the opposition
Round 5: Best remaining strike, probably Disrupting Blow
Round 6: …there’s a round 6? Um, run away if there’s anything that survived all that?
19 – Warblade – (Adamantine Hurricane)
20 – Warblade – (Stance mastery) (Strike of Perfect Clarity > War Leader’s Charge) *
With stance mastery, put on Stance of Alacrity and Hearing the Air out of combat. Switch to Leading the Charge and Stance of Alacrity when combat starts. You don't actually need a boost when you charge, so your swift action's free up.
Strangely, this switch actually nets you a free Immediate action (one you'll want to have) so you can counter without losing your Swift action to fuel Cloak of Deception. But even if that DOES happen and you need to double counter, you've still got Acrobatic Backstab once/combat.
Snapshot: At level 20, with a +5 manual for Strength, a +1 manual for Dexterity, and +6 items in every ability score besides Charisma (you can actually swing this at level 20, a lot of your other equipment is cheap as hell), you have 235 HP, +20 BAB (and a +34 melee attack roll with your +5 adamantine greatsword), and saves of +17/+15/+9 BEFORE any resistance bonuses. Your skills include a +38 Concentration check with that Third Eye, and a +28 bonus on your Tumble skill before armor check penalties (so +27 in Mithral Breastplate and +25 in Mithral Fullplate). Your full power attack on a Diamond Nightmare Blade (which WILL connect with hosed ACs) does 260 damage on average, and 340 damage if you time it with Momentum Swing. Consider that you can use Deep Impact on your initial charge maneuver, and then refocus with Psionic Meditation and use it on the followup. Consider that your War Master’s Charge deals 95 damage on average WITH NO POWER ATTACK (not counting your allies’ contributions), and it stuns without a save. Then consider that your War Master’s Charge (AGAIN WITH NO POWER ATTACK) + Momentum Swing Diamond Nightmare Blade combo deals 435 damage and that the average HP of a CR 22 monster is 452.33. See why rounds 3+ of your routine are considered cleanup?
Overall Strengths: This is a build for fighting game aficionados; you build up a strong combo and will be KOing non-boss opponents by round 3 tops. You have all three Diamond Mind save counters and the best possible non-epic uncanny dodge to help with your defenses. Adaptive Style and stance mastery opens further versatility. Hidden opponents are easy pickings with Blind-Fight and Hearing the Air. Deep Impact and Dex denial through items and skill tricks will make sure your attacks hit. And how they hit! You can reliably wipe out CR 21 challenges by round 2 if they’re not immune to stunning. Finally, remind your party spellcasters of the utility in Grease; you have the Balance ranks to ignore its effects
Overall Weaknesses: You rely on Moment of Perfect Mind to shore up your Will save, and that isn’t a perfect defense by any means. You’re also vulnerable to two of the big concerns for high level melee: charge foiling (usually via terrain and positioning, though Twisted Charge will help) and Elusive Target (STUN the suckers before you Power Attack). While Blind-Fight is great against miss chances from concealment, incorporeal miss chances and stuff like Greater Blink can still ruin your day; some ghost touch effects may be in order.
Variants: Andarious wanted to note that the warblade bonus feats he selected were just what he considered to be the best options available, taken in the most beneficial order; those can definitely be switched around or replaced as necessary. We mentioned some alternative races earlier. Some people don’t find Adaptive Style all that necessary for Warblades; it too can be switched out.
There you have it. Whether your campaigns run light or dark, the Dream Blade will be well suited to offing enemies quickly and neatly. Fire up that Momentum Swing, and tuck ‘em in. Sweet dreams!
Next up: You guys didn’t break that three way tie for second place! T___T Take your pick from [AR] Slash and Burn, [DH] Psycarnum Warrior, and [AR] Evasion Tank for next week. Also, indicate if you’d want the runner up for this vote to show up the week after that, or if you want a fresh set of options.
Voting is open, and comments are appreciated!