Aug 24, 2012
The best way would probably be a warblade/ swordsage and if those are off the table then I would probably look into 2 fighter levels for the bonus feats. The warblade/swordsage will give your harpy a lot more options to position and to deal damage with some effective drawbacks to the person being hit.
Jun 20, 2004
A bit of an off-topic since the character in question is a cohort so he has a LA weighting him down - but what will be the two best levels that can be tagged to a harpy in order to make the most out of it as a cohort character? Furder character growth is not really important (at lest not for more than 2 additional levels, since the campaign will probably end by then).
I am aware that it is far far far from being optimised since we are talking about ECL 10, rather than CR 4, but nonetheless - does anyone have a suggestion?
The entire reason why this thread exists is because martial adepts gain (most of) their powers based on initiator level, and initiator level scales with any hit dice, including monster HD (which are not on a 1:1 ratio with CR). Unless the monster has specific innate abilities which stack with a particular class (there's a few that do this with sorcerer, for instance), you will probably get the most bang from one of the three martial adepts. Swordsage perhaps offers the most in terms of a specific dip - the most maneuvers from the most schools (several of which are also light on prerequisites), along with two stances (the level 1 text on all martial adepts restricts you to 1st level stances, so if you're dipping, it's the second stance that's open to acceleration). Crusaders offer the best recovery method, a high number of maneuvers (although they're not all available at once in battle), and also gives the second stance at level 2 - and since they've got access to Thicket of Blades at IL 5, this is a popular choice on control builds. Warblades offer the least in terms of a small dip like this, but can be useful if you'd like Uncanny Dodge.
For a harpy, as far as it's a stock harpy, I'd suggest crusader. You'll get that meaty Charisma bonus to your Will save as well as a decent selection of maneuvers that don't necessarily require melee attack rolls (see Flip the Bird in my signature as an example of this), along with a number of White Raven options which work quite nicely on a cohort because of their party-support nature (see the Heavy Weapons Elf in my signature for an example of how to do this with warblade; most of it's portable over to crusader as well). Crusaders also have a lot of options based around locking down the enemy, which might (depending on your build) synergize with the Captivating Song ability. Your IL will be 4 at crusader level 1, and IL 5 at crusader level 2, so you can pick 1st and 2nd level maneuvers (and a 1st level stance) at level 1, or maneuvers and stances of up to 3rd level at level 2.
A decent second choice would be swordsage, focusing on Setting Sun, Shadow Hand, and Desert Wind. These schools all contain maneuvers that can work off of the harpy's Dexterity score and most will allow it to attack at a distance or force enemies to keep their distance (by throwing them away). If the crusader option is based around supporting the team and drawing enemies in, the swordsage option is based around harassing the enemies and keeping them at a distance. I don't think this'll be as effective on a cohort, though.
Finally, one other note: Harpies get Flyby Attack. This is actually a lot better than the Spring Attack feat it resembles: Flyby Attack allows a standard action at any point during your flight. Most strike maneuvers take a standard action to perform. Exploiting this approach will work better with the swordsage (who has distance attacks like Fan the Flames or Shadow Garotte that can be used in midair); the crusader will largely only benefit from it if you're needing to get close enough to a target for a healing strike to reach. Note that neither class option will be able to use its Stone Dragon maneuvers while flying (it's got Average maneuverability, which isn't enough to quickly land, initiate a strike, and then take off again); if you choose crusader, most of what you'd want from Stone Dragon also shows up in Devoted Spirit (swordsages have no such alternative).
Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.Weekly Optimization Series:
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows:
[TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.
[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)
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[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft