Optimized saves for evil (3.5e Optimized Character Build)

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Maximized save bonuses using charisma oriented evil and non-good classes. Strong combat.

A character built to have the highest possible save bonuses and immunity to "save for partial" spells. It uses evil classes, so player access may be limited. Be careful of making a villain NPC too resilient if you use this build as a GM.


PHB, Complete Warrior, Unearthed Arcana, DMG, Complete Adventurer

Game Rule Components[edit]


Starting Ability Scores (Before Racial Adjustments): Max Charisma. At least 13 strength for power attack. the rest to taste. Assuming an 18 starting charisma for this example.

Race (Templates): Assuming human for this example.

Starting Racial Traits: Bonus feat is the relevant trait.

At level 9: Monk 2 / Paladin of Tyranny 2 / Hexblade 3 / Blackguard 2
ECL Class/HD/LA Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Feats Class
Fort Ref Will
1st Monk +0 +2 +2 +2 Power attack, Cleave
2nd Monk +1 +3 +3 +3 Evasion Negates partial effects for "reflex save for partial" spells on successful save
3rd Paladin of Tyranny +2 +5 +3 +3 Improved sunder
4th Paladin of Tyranny +3 +6 +3 +3 Divine grace Adds Cha modifier to all saves. Improve Charisma for level 4.
5th Hexblade +4 +6 +3 +5
6th Hexblade +5 +6 +3 +6 Force of personality Arcane resistance A.R. adds Charisma modifier to saves vs. spell and spell-like abilities. Force of personality adds your Charisma modifier to your Will save instead of Wisdom.
7th Hexblade +6 +7 +4 +6 Mettle Mettle negates "save for partial" effects on Will and Fortitude saves.
8th Blackguard +7 +9 +4 +6 Improve Charisma for level 8. Charisma now 20.
9th Blackguard +8 +10 +4(+6) +6 Open feat (Lightning reflexes) Dark blessing D.B. adds your Charisma modifier to your saves again.

Other Components[edit]

You could take rogue for two levels instead of monk. You would have slightly worse Fort and Will saves, but would gain a lot of skill points and use magic device as a skill. I chose monk because I went caster for the last 11 levels. Force of personality is somewhat optional. To absolutely maximize your save bonuses, you could take iron will and great fortitude as well. Luck of Heroes would also help.

<<Edit by Sooba>>

If taking this particular build, consider also that all three of these classes have abilities to reduce opponent's saves (Paladin of Slaughter 3 + Blackguard may be more effective than PoT3+BlGuard as the two auras of despair can be argued to not stack, whereas the PoS's one does.) Hexblade has its weak curse, of course, but additionally Hexblade4 grants a familiar that can be traded out for one that also offers -2 to all opponents saves. -6 to all saves (-8 if cursed), or alternatively -4 to all saves (+) -1 to AC is a nasty combined aura to run around with. In addition to making opposing casters hate you, you will be making your own evil caster-mates very very happy.

Beyond this, I would recommend standard melee tactics: tripper or charge build.

Classes/levels with synergies:

Marshal 1 - put that charisma to good use with a small bonus to diplomacy, and more importantly a choice of aura that turns your sky-high charisma into yet another aura. (this time a benefit to allies.) I recommend motivate dex (suddenly everyone in your party is sneaky and has a wonderful initiative), or motivate cha (for a diplomacy based campaign, the ability for everyone in your party to have great diplo/intimidate/bluff is fantastic). This 1-level dip is probably the strongest contribution you could make.

Divine Crusader - combine with divine casting PRC's and you get full casting in one (or maybe more with the right PRC) domain, with bonus spells and DC's keyed off of your cha modifier.

Barbarian 1 - Switch out fast movement for Spirit Lion Totem Pounce from Complete Champion, and your character can now do the standard shock trooper / charge tactics for great damage. Rage won't be of much use to you, so switch it out with a decent alternative class feature. This option may require Paladin of Slaughter, or starting with Barb and then a switch of alignment for Paladin of Tyranny, as Barbs are typically chaotic.

Wilder 2 - Cha to touch AC (up to but not over the value of your standard AC). The PoT/Hexblade/Blackgaurd combo tends to result in a character who wears heavy armor and has decent AC, but terrible touch AC. This shores up that weakness somewhat. Some Cha-to-AC abilities explicitly do not work with armor. The wilder2 ability seems to have been designed to work exactly the opposite way. The heavier armor you wear, the better it can be.

Draconic Template - +2Str +2Con +2Cha + assorted weak bonuses for +1LA - Chances are, these are going to be your top 3 stats with this build, so this fits anyway. This option is stronger if LA buyoff (UA) is in effect. Additionally opens up the possibility for yet another aura (Draconic Aura). Sadly it keys off of class level instead of charisma, but the template is great even without the feat.

Phrenic Template - +4Cha +2Int +2Wis + battery of PLA (Psionic-Like abilities) for +2 LA - Again, synergistic ability scores. Again stronger with LA buyoff. This time costs a bit more, but adds a series of nice abilities to your character that level with you. Save DC's determined by Cha. Manifester level determined by character level. Very nice! When combined with the feat "magic in the blood" allows your (likely non-spellcasting) character to have a significant utility spell presence.

Magic Blooded Template - +2Cha -2Wis + a couple cantrips /1day for +0 LA - Obvious synergy here. Trade away a dump stat to get even more of your primary. Combines well with either of the above templates mechanically and in flavor.


This build capitalizes on one very high stat for massive save bonuses. It also has a very strong combat component, only losing one base attack bonus in nine levels.

The example character would have a natural Charisma of 20 at level 9. Add a +4 cloak of charisma, which should be doable by then. The characters charisma modifier is now +7. So this character adds +7 to all saves for divine grace, +7 to all saves for dark blessing, +7 to all saves vs. spells and spell-like abilities for arcane resistance, and an extra +7 to Will saves for Force of Personality. The characters final saves at level 9, not counting other attribute bonuses, are Fort +31, Reflex +25 and Will +34. At 20th level, maxing Charisma as you go, you could easily get all your saves up to the high 50s. Will can get to the 70s. And thanks to Mettle and Evasion, you will completely negate partial spell effects.

DM Counters[edit]

The GM would need to rely on physical damage, or spells that don't allow any save, such as irresistable dance.

<<Edit by Sooba>>

Contrary to some stated opinions that I have removed, as per RAW Divine Grace and Dark Blessing DO stack explicitly, as they do not have the same name. However--

DMs may deem this combination of classes unacceptable as a Paladin of Tyranny need not "fall" to become a Blackguard. (Thus gaining more abilities than originally intended as a wonderful consequence, of course.) The gain of extra abilities is not illegal in-and-of-itself, but rather that extra Blackguard abilities are "supposed" to be gained by ex- or fallen paladins.

Given however: that the Paladin class is not a huge powerhouse; that the counters to this particular strategy are many and relatively easy; that full casters are easily optimized and stronger in D&D 3.5 in general; and that the Paladin of Tyranny/Hexblade/Blackguard is a very flavourful combination, I would be inclined to allow this to pass as a DM. With the Caveat that the campaign be one that is easily customized to Evil characters of course.

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