Champion of the Forest (3.5e Optimized Character Build)
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One of the wonderful things (among many others) about Tome of Battle is that it introduced the Superior Unarmed Strike feat. It allows one to build an effective unarmed combatant without having to take levels in monk, or get the aid of some magic implement. It doesn't allow a character to do as much damage as a monk of an equivalent level (nor should it), but it's better than the 1d3 damage with which you're saddled, otherwise.
That being said, the special benefit of Superior Unarmed Strike is that it also enhances a monk's unarmed strikes, so the temptation to take monk levels (or monk-like levels) is still there.
System Reference Document, Complete Champion (alternative barbarian class feature spiritual lion totem, fist of the forest), Complete Warrior (bear warrior, warshaper), Races of the Dragon (mighty wallop and greater mighty wallop), Tome of Battle (Snap Kick, Superior Unarmed Strike)
Game Rule Components
Spells, Powers, Soulmelds, Stances, etc...
Spells: (greater) mighty wallop.
Starting Ability Scores: Str 14, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 14, Cha 8.
Starting Racial Traits:
- bonus feat.
- bonus skill points.
|Saving Throws||Feats|| Class
|1st||ranger 1||+1||+2||+2||+0||Great Fortitude, Power AttackB, TrackB||1st favored enemy +2, wild empathy|
|2nd||ranger 2||+2||+3||+3||+0||Two-Weapon FightingV||combat style|
|3rd||monk 1||+2||+5||+5||+2||Improved Unarmed StrikeB, Stunning FistB, Weapon Focus (unarmed strike)||flurry of blows, unarmed strike||1d6 unarmed damage|
|4th||ranger 3||+3||+5||+5||+3||EnduranceB||ability score increase (Str 15)|
|5th||ranger 4||+4||+6||+5||+3||animal companion, spells|
|6th||ranger 5||+5||+6||+5||+3||Superior Unarmed Strike||2nd favored enemy +4/+2||1d8 unarmed damage|
|7th||ranger 6||+6/+1||+7||+6||+4||Improved Two-Weapon FightingV||improved combat style|
|8th||barbarian 1||+7/+2||+9||+6||+4||fast movement, rage 1/day||ability score increase (Str 16)|
|9th||bear warrior 1||+8/+3||+11||+6||+4||Extra Rage (rage)||bear form (black)|
|10th||bear warrior 2||+9/+4||+12||+6||+4|
|11th||bear warrior 3||+10/+5||+12||+7||+5||scent|
|12th||bear warrior 4||+11/+6/+1||+13||+7||+5||Extra Rage (rage)||1d10 unarmed damage, ability score increase (Str 17)|
|13th||bear warrior 5||+12/+7/+2||+13||+7||+5||bear form (brown)||2d8 Large unarmed damage (1d10 Medium base)|
|14th||warshaper 1||+12/+7/+2||+15||+7||+5||morphic immunities, morphic weapons||3d8 Huge unarmed damage (1d10 Medium base)|
|15th||warshaper 2||+13/+8/+3||+16||+7||+5||Snap Kick||morphic body|
|16th||warshaper 3||+14/+9/+4||+16||+8||+6||morphic reach||4d6 Huge unarmed damage (2d6 Medium base), ability score increase (Str 18)|
|17th||warshaper 4||+15/+10/+5||+17||+8||+6||morphic healing|
|18th||fist of the forest 1||+16/+11/+6/+1||+19||+10||+6||Improved Natural Attack (unarmed strike)||AC bonus, fast movement, feral trance 1/day, primal living, unarmed damage||6d8 Gargantuan unarmed damage (2d8 Medium base)|
|19th||fist of the forest 2||+17/+12/+7/+2||+20||+11||+6||uncanny dodge, untamed strike|
|20th||fist of the forest 3||+18/+13/+8/+3||+20||+11||+7||feral trance 2/day, scent, unarmed damage||8d8 Gargantuan unarmed damage (2d10 Medium base), ability score increase (Str 19)|
Alternative Class Features: barbarian spiritual lion totem.
+18 (base attack bonus), +14 (39 Str), +1 (Weapon Focus) −1 (size) = +32
- unarmed strike +32/+27/+22/+17 (8d8+14) claw +26 (1d8+7) bite +26 (2d6+7)
- unarmed strike +30/+25/+20/+15 (8d8+14) off-hand +30/+25 (8d8+7) bite +26 (2d6+7)
- unarmed strike +28/+23/+18/+13 (8d8+14) Snap Kick +28 (8d8+21) off-hand +28/+23 (8d8+7) bite +24 (2d6+7)
- unarmed strike +26/+26/+21/+16/+11 (8d8+14) Snap Kick +26 (8d8+21) off-hand +26/+21 (8d8+7) bite +22 (2d6+7) with flurry of blows
- permanent greater magic fang (+5 enhancement to attack and damage)
- manual of gainful exercise +5 (Str 44)
- belt of giant strength +6 (Str 50)
- (greater) mighty wallop (increased damage to Colossal+, 16d8, bite damage increases to Colossal, 8d6)
unarmed strike +37/+37/+32/+27/+22 (16d8+25) Snap Kick +37 (16d8+35) off-hand +37/+32 (16d8+15) bite +33 (8d6+15) with flurry of blows
The alternative barbarian class feature spiritual lion totem grants the pounce ability in place of fast movement, but from an RP perspective, your DM may question why a character with the lion totem transforms into a bear.
If your DM doesn't impose damage-by-size cap, you can increase your damage up to Colossal++:
- 2d10 Medium
- 4d8 Large (brown bear)
- 6d8 Huge (mighty wallop)
- 8d8 Gargantuan (greater mighty wallop 8th-level caster)
- 12d8 Colossal (greater mighty wallop 12th-level caster)
- 16d8 Colossal+ (Improved Natural Attack)
- 24d8 Colossal++ (morphic weapons)
At the cost of an XP penalty from 4th-level on, Weapon Focus, and Snap Kick, You can use an orc instead of a human and have the feat Headlong Rush to do double damage with a charge, and since you have the pounce ability, you'll be able to do a full attack. The +4 to Strength doesn't hurt either.
unarmed strike +42/+42/+37/+32/+27 (48d8+54) off-hand +42/+37 (48d8+32) bite +39 (16d6+32) with charge and flurry of blows
If you don't want the XP penalty, you'll have to give up levels of ranger (and thereby giving up Improved Two-Weapon Fighting).
Add a flaw or two to pick up some feats early, and you can get Ascetic Hunter (Complete Adventure), which stacks your ranger and monk levels to determine unarmed damage.
May not allow the alignment change required for monk/barbarian builds.