High-Defense Wizard (3.5e Optimized Character Build)
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This build is intended to maintain maximum caster level while making a Wizard untouchable by anything short of a critical hit. It is the supreme defensive caster build with virtually no dependance on defensive spells.
Envision, if you will, a Wizard with ridiculously high Touch AC, high Saves, high Hit Points, Evasion, and Uncanny Dodge. Then, imagine this wizard using spells like Fly, defensive abjuration spells, and Ranged Touch/AOE spells to rain down punishment on everything below, while sitting untouched above the battle. (Or, untouched by everything above, in front, behind, etc) Virtually impossible to kill and able to unleash potent magic on its enemies, this Wizard is seemingly unbeatable.
Player's Handbook (PHB)
Player's Handbook II (PHB2)
Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG)
Complete Arcane (CA)
Complete Divine (CD)
Complete Mage (CM)
Champions of Valor (CoV)
Complete Scoundrel (CS)
Game Rule Components
To be determined by the user, but I strongly suggest Fly, various Rays, various Orbs, Shield, various AOEs, Teleport, and Enervate. Truthfully, whatever offensive spells, Buffs, or defensive spells are beneficial in any given situation would be beneficial here. Very few defensive spells, if any, are needed.
Suggestions: Bracers of Armor +8, Ring of Protection +5, Vest of Resistance +5, Headband of Intellect +6, Amulet of Health +6, and Gloves of Dexterity +6. This build is meant to rely heavily on Metamagic Rods, such as for Quickening or Maximizing spells.
Special: I highly recommend making items by doubling effects on a single item, such as gaining both +5 Protection AC and +5 Dodge AC on your ring, using the rules found on page 285 of the DMG.
Using the point-buy method with 32 points, as shown on page 169 of the DMG (Before Racial Adjustments): STR 12, DEX 16, CON 14, INT 16, WIS 10, 8 CHA
Elf (Snow): FB page 34. (Alternately, any Elf, or even a Human, would do.)
Starting Racial Traits: Elf Racial Traits found on page 16 of the PHB with one exception: +2 DEX, - 2 CHA.
|1st||Monk 1||+0||+2||+2||+2||Carmendine Monk, Improved Grapple, Improved Unarmed Strike||AC Bonus, flurry of blows|
|2nd||Monk 2||+1||+3||+3||+3||Combat Reflexes||Evasion|
|3rd||Ranger 1||+2||+5||+5||+3||Skill Focus (Knowledge Religion), Track||Wild Empathy, Favored Enemy|
|4th||Wizard 1||+2||+5||+5||+5||Summon Familiar, Scribe Scroll||Arcane Spellcasting, +1 INT|
|6th||Divine Oracle 1||+3||+5||+5||+8||Steadfast Determination||Oracle Domain, Scry Bonus||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|7th||Divine Oracle 2||+4||+5||+5||+9||Prescient Sense, Trap Sense +1||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|8th||Divine Oracle 3||+4||+6||+6||+9||Divination enhancement||+1 level of existing spellcasting class, +1 INT|
|9th||Divine Oracle 4||+5||+6||+6||+10||Combat Casting||Uncanny dodge (Dex bonus to AC)||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|10th||Abjurant Champion 1||+5||+6||+6||+12||Abjurant Armor, Extended Abjuration||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|11th||Abjurant Champion 2||+6||+6||+6||+13||Swift Abjuration||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|12th||Abjurant Champion 3||+7||+7||+7||+13||Practiced Spellcaster||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class, +1 INT|
|13th||Abjurant Champion 4||+8||+7||+7||+13||Arcane Boost||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|14th||Abjurant Champion 5||+9||+7||+7||+14||Martial Arcanist||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|15th||Divine Oracle 5||+10||+7||+7||+14||Spell Penetration||Trap Sense +2||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|16th||Divine Oracle 6||+11||+8||+8||+15||Improved uncanny dodge (can’t be flanked)||+1 level of existing spellcasting class, +1 INT|
|17th||Divine Oracle 7||+11||+8||+8||+15||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|18th||Divine Oracle 8||+12||+8||+8||+16||Point Blank Shot||Trap Sense +3||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|19th||Divine Oracle 9||+12||+9||+9||+16||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|20th||Divine Oracle 10||+13||+9||+9||+17||Immune to Surprise||+1 level of existing spellcasting class, +1 INT|
At level 20: Monk 2/Ranger 1/Wizard 2/Divine Oracle 10/Abjurant Champion 5
For Divine Oracle, the Class requires 8 ranks of Knowledge Religion that can obtained by Spending 5 Skill Points as a Monk and 3 Skill Points over the 2 levels of Wizard.
1. The build is based on combining Arcane Casting with the unarmored Monk AC Bonus, conceptually. Thanks to the Carmendine Monk Feat, the build focuses on Intelligence instead of Wisdom. Ergo, the bonus stat bump at every 4th character level goes into Intelligence. Using the base stats I presented, plus 5 Int from bonuses and items giving +6 Int, Con, and Dex, the Character's relevant Stats would be: DEX 22, CON 20, INT 27. The gear suggested would give +8 AC from the Bracers and +5 AC from the Ring. In total, using the suggested items and point-buy stat array, the AC would be at least 10+6+8+8+5 = 37. (One could easily increase that by multiples of 5 by adding on stacking forms of AC to the Ring of Protection, say Dodge or Deflection, as described on page 285 of the DMG.) All 37 AC is Touch AC, which so high that it is virtually impossible to hit with Touch Attacks - except for natural 20s. (For instance, if even this character rolled a 19 on the ranged attack roll, the result would be 37.) The 37 calculation also does not take into account the swift-cast, buffed abjuration spells like shield, which would give +7 AC due to the Abjurant Champion portion of the build. That would be 44 touch AC.
Bear in mind, this AC figure requires 64,000 gold for the Bracers, 25,000 for the ring, and 36,000 x 3 for the 3 stat-boosting items which is 197,000 - or 3,000 less than the cost of enchanting both an Armor to effectively +10 and a Shield to effectively +10, per DMG rules. Comparatively, a Fighter with a +5 Full Plate, at least 12 Dex, a +5 Heavy Shield, and a Ring of Protection +5 would have 10+8+1+5+2+5+5 = 36 AC. In total, a Fighter with fully decked-out Mithril armor, a ring, and any relevant stat boosting items for his build will have close to the same AC, but that gear will cost significantly more and generally have 19 Touch AC or less, at best. For the same gold cost, one could invest in additional AC bonuses on an AC ring for this Wizard build.
2. Saves are the other component that make this great, defensively. Due to the various classes used, the Base Saves are +9, +9, and +17. Add +6 from Dex to Reflex, +5 Con to both Fortitude and Will (Thanks to Steadfast Determination Feat), and +5 to all from the Vest of Resistance and your Saves would be 19, 20, and 27. Similarly to the Ring of Protection, you can increase all saves by multiples of 5 by adding on stacking forms of Save Bonuses to the Vest of Resistance, such as Inherent or Holy, as described on page 285 of the DMG.
3. Evasion is a nice touch that prevents this build from taking much, if any, damage from AOE damage spells or similar effects that save for half damage on a Reflex save.
4. The Divine Oracle provides Uncanny Dodge, which is significant for the build. It is vitally important that this build gets Uncanny Dodge to ensure that it cannot be caught Flat-Footed because, if it were, most of the character's AC would not apply to a surprise attack. It's likely that a flanking Rogue will be 4 levels higher than your Divine Oracle level, but your full AC would still be brought to bear against the Rogue's ability to hit you if you have Uncanny Dodge. (However, Improved Uncanny Dodge is almost irrelevant due to that fact.)
5. Thanks to Practiced Spellcaster, the effective caster is equal to the character level - ie 20 Caster level at 20th character level. The character will gain access to 9th level spells by level 20.
6. This build also provides higher Hit Points for an arcane caster due to the D6 Hit Dice for Divine Oracle, D10 for Abjurant Champion, and d8 for both Ranger and Monk - essentially comprising 18 levels of the 20 with Hit Dice higher than a Wizard's d4.
7. Offensively, this build is intended to more effectively use Ranged Touch Attack spells because of it's higher than normal BAB, high Dex, and Point Blank Shot Feat. It can, however; certainly use any spells a Wizard can learn - including AOE, transport, utility, defensive, or CC spells.
If you want to build an even more dangerous and complex variant, work a level of Rogue and 5 levels of Spellwarp Sniper (CS) into the build by reducing the Divine Oracle level to 4 total. (Four levels of Divine Oracle is the minimum for this build to work.) Like this!
The build allows one to become nearly impossible to hit with any form of attack, except natural 20s on attack rolls. The Fort and Reflex saves, which are still pretty high, are actually the weakest points. Almost anything a player can do to shore this up will be to their benefit.
Until this build gains Uncanny Dodge, it is susceptible to surprise attacks, just as any Monk would be. Due to the nature of the build, the AC is able to expand without bound because you can increase your Dex and Int as high as possible and each increase in modifier will increase the AC of the build without any limits, such as you would find on a piece of armor. Once Uncanny Dodge is gained, the character has only one limitation: no Spell Resistance.
This build would handle almost any form of assault from intended/appropriate CR enemies and has only one true weakness - no spell resistance.
The best ways to attack this build are 1. with either a very HIGH BAB NPC, like a Dragon, 2. with LOTS of enemies to ensure maximum chances of rolling a 20, or 3. to attack the Fortitude Save, which is likely the lowest save the character has, albeit at 19 or higher. Alternatively, if you can find a spell that does not require a Touch Attack or a Save, this character would be defenseless against it without a defensive spell active to counter it or an item that provides SR. Additionally, this Wizard is just as susceptible to Silence and Anti-Magic zones as any other.
The best ways to defend against this build are to have high Touch AC enemies with good Saves and Evasion, eg Monks. If an NPC has any weakness, especially a stereotypical one like low Reflex Saves for a Full Plate armor wearer, this build will be able to exploit it. Resistances would help, but since this is a Wizard, it can reach into its bag of tricks and pull out a spell like Enervate or Magic Missile in order to avoid resistances altogether or use a Metamagic rod of Energy Substitution.
Additionally, NPCs being able to fly would help immensely due to the fact they could spread out further (3 dimensionally, rather than 2D) and can get through any sort of line that melee fighters in this character's party may have formed to defend it.