Technical Fighter (3.5e Optimized Character Build)

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Introduction[edit]

An intelligent, highly mobile fighter who disarms, trips and grapples opponents. Takes monk for the handy feats (including evasion) and skill points for first 2 levels, and two levels of barbarian for uncanny dodge (the dex bonus is important).

References[edit]

SRD only.

Game Rule Components[edit]

Spells, Powers, Soulmelds, Stances, etc...[edit]

None. This is a completely mundane character.

Items[edit]

Weapon
Masterwork whip. High Dex and weapon finesse. For the first 2 levels, don't wield anything.
Armour
+2 spiked chain shirt. Don't take anything heavier than a chain shirt - the lowered max dex bonus is going to hurt, not to mention stopping you from tumbling. For the first two levels, wear leather armour if you're worried about low AC, or go naked to get flurry of blows (having a Wis bonus higher than 0 helps here since it improves your naked AC as a monk).
Other
Anything that improves your AC without slowing you down is good. Gauntlets of dexterity, amulet of natural armour, dusty rose ioun stone. A cloak of displacement is also very nice (even a minor one).

Progression[edit]

Starting Ability Scores (Before Racial Adjustments): Int 13+ for combat expertise. Dex 12+ but should be as high as possible. Str 12+ (raise it to 13 later) gives you power attack and other technical combat feats like improved overrun/bull rush. Wis 12+ helps at the first two levels to improve your AC, and helps with the will save later, but is optional (you can just wear leather armour instead).

For example, standard (25) point buy: Str 12, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 8. This is used below. Swap Str and Con if you like: better damage (and better attack when you're using non-finesse weapons) for a couple fewer HP and slightly worse Fort save (which is great anyway).

Race: Human for multiclassing goodness and the extra feat (this is what the build below is based on). Half-elf works almost as well, you just have to get weapon finesse a bit later. Dwarf is a possibility - wear heavier armour, probably don't bother with weapon finesse, and have better strength, which also means you hit harder - but you won't want barbarian levels for uncanny dodge then because of the XP penalty.

Starting Racial Traits: Extra feat at 1st level.

ECL Class/HD/LA Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Feats Class
Features
Special
Fort Ref Will
1st Monk +0 +4 +4 +3 Improved unarmed strike, improved grapple,
combat expertise, weapon finesse
Flurry of blows -2/-2, d6 unarmed damage +1 Wis bonus to AC
2nd Monk +1 +5 +5 +4 Deflect arrows, evasion Flurry of blows -1/-1
3rd Monk2/Ftr1 +2 +7 +5 +4 Improved trip, exotic weapon proficiency (whip) Start wielding weapons & wearing armour.
4th Monk2/Ftr2 +3 +8 +5 +4 Improved disarm Put attribute point in Dex. Upgrade your chain shirt to +2.
5th Monk2/Ftr3 +4 +8 +7 +5 Get gauntlets of dexterity (+2)
6th Monk2/Ftr4 +5 +8 +7 +5 Dodge, mobility Get amulet of natural armour +1
7th Monk2/Ftr4/Bar1 +6/+1 +10 +7 +5 Fast movement, rage 1/day Get dusty rose ioun stone
8th Monk2/Ftr4/Bar2 +7/+2 +11 +8 +5 Uncanny dodge Put attribute point in Dex. Upgrade amulet to +2.
9th Monk2/Ftr5/Bar2 +8/+3 +11 +8 +5 Skill focus (tumble)
10th Monk2/Ftr6/Bar2 +9/+4 +12 +9 +6 Weapon focus (whip) Get minor cloak of displacement (20% miss chance)

Other Components[edit]

Your strategy is to tumble through to the boss (take jump too for the synergy), disarm and trip him, then grapple him (which stops him casting spells, etc.) and pound away with unarmed attacks, all the while using combat expertise to improve your AC. If you find you're not doing enough damage in a grapple, get a decent light weapon (magic short sword or light mace is good, but make sure it's better than your d6 unarmed attack!) to use while grappling.

If you put your whip away, you can (fairly) safely go out in the open and get shot at because you can deflect some of the arrows.

You can also replace the whip with a spiked chain if you're willing to give up the shield, which gives you slightly better damage if you don't need to grapple. Get a composite longbow too (take ranks in ride and you can shoot it from horseback).

If you don't really care about evasion or deflect arrows, you can save some time by taking your second level in fighter instead of monk.

Highlights[edit]

I don't know how well this build works in practice, but it seems like it would be a lot of fun to play. It's good at neutralising pesky spellcasters by denying them their somatic components (particularly if you add some spell resistance and fear immunities). It's also good for less violent campaigns where you don't necessarily want to kill the target but just stop him, especially since you get extra skill points to put into the likes of hide, move silently, and social skills.

You're really good at just dodging out of the way of stuff: tumble to push through a crowd, evasion to dodge area spells, and uncanny dodge to always have your full AC. You've also got an awesome fortitude save (3 better than the normal "good" progression at 10th level) thanks to the monk and barbarian levels.

Munchkin-Size Me[edit]

(This section mentions some non-SRD stuff.)

Take Power Attack and pile on the other technical feats (improved overrun, improved bull rush, improved sunder).

Take monkey grip and wield a halberd or ranseur instead of a whip. Later, take two weapon fighting and wield a greataxe with a whip in your off hand. If you go this way, you're not going to be doing much grappling (unless your DM continually disarms you :), so you might as well drop the monk levels (losing evasion). Drop weapon finesse too since you can't use it with a greataxe. That frees up a feat to take monkey grip at 1st level.

With the spiked chain variant, take monkey grip at 6th level instead of mobility (get it back later) and wear a shield.

Side Notes[edit]

Limitations[edit]

Going from monk to barbarian obviously requires going from lawful to nonlawful, which might be a problem. Doing such makes you lose all monk abilities except feats, BAB and saves.

With all the multiclassing silliness, saving throws get rather messed up. Your will save doesn't go up for 6 whole levels, except when you rage (which you won't do often because it breaks combat expertise). Reflex is only OK because you're pumping all you can into dex. (On the other hand, you get an awesome fortitude save.) For this reason it might be worth taking iron will instead of mobility at 6th level.

Without cleave, you're going to find it hard to deal with large groups of enemies except by running away from or through them, or with lots of help from your friendly wizard to keep them away from you. You can mitigate this by taking spring attack and whirlwind attack at 12th level. But large numbers is not really what this build is about.

DM Counters[edit]

  • Anything that's hard or impossible to trip or disarm:
    • cavalry with locked gauntlets
    • quadrupeds with natural weapons
    • anything huge or larger. Can be countered to some extent with enlarge person.
    • dwarf wrestlers :)
  • Fear and mind-affecting spells to exploit the poor will save.
  • Casters with still spells to get around grappling.

Miscellaneous[edit]

<- Any other side notes that don't fit in the above sections. ->



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