Massive Damage Striker (3.5e Optimized Character Build)

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Why waste time and risk your life in a long, dangerous battle when you can just kill your opponents in one quick, decisive cut. The Massive Damage Striker optimization seeks to do just that. If your target survives the first attack, it won't want to know what a second is like. Just keep in mind, unless you can fly or run faster than your opponents, you'll want to have a retainer or two with a strong bow at your side, because the Striker is a melee combatant through-and-through.


Complete Warrior [1]
Dungeon Master's Guide [2]
Magic Item Compendium [3]
Oriental Adventures [4]
Player's Handbook [5]
Player's Handbook II [6]
Unearthed Arcana [7]
Netbook of Feats

Game Rule Components[edit]

Race and Templates[edit]

This build was designed on a human character; the human race provides an extra feat which helps tremendously, and the extra skill points help offset the build's comparatively low Intelligence score. Templates that give bonuses to Charisma and Dexterity may be helpful, but you will need to juggle your feat selections accordingly.


This build uses only the Fighter base class from the Player's Handbook and Iaijutsu Master prestige class from Oriental Adventures.


The Focus ability (Oriental Adventures, 125) grants a +4 insight bonus to Iaijutsu Focus checks, only costs 640gp, and does not count against the weapon's enhancement bonus for purposes of determining weapon cost.
Dust of Immobility (Oriental Adventures, 140) forces opponents to succeed on a Fortitude saving throw or be affected by hold person and only costs 300gp. This allows you additional uses of Iaijutsu Focus against the same opponent.
A Circlet of Persuasion (Dungeon Master's Guide 252) provides a +3 competence bonus to Charisma-based checks (which includes Iaijutsu Focus), and costs 4,500gp.
A Cloak of Charisma (Dungeon Master's Guide 253) provides an enhancement bonus to Charisma which will both help with Iaijutsu Focus checks and add to the bonus damage to Iaijutsu bonus dice at 10th level.
If you can convince your DM to allow it, you could create a Crystal Mask (Magic Item Compendium) that provides a bonus to Iaijutsu Focus. This would be a +10 Insight bonus to Iaijutsu Focus for 10,000gp.


This build is feat-heavy, and uses the maximum (two) flaws to help obtain the vast repetoire required to fully take advantage of its features. The build was designed with the flaws Shaky and Illiterate from Unearthed Arcana. Shaky confers a -2 penalty to ranged attack rolls --the Massive Damage Striker is a purely melee combatant, so this blatant abuse of the flaws system only works in your favor (bonus feat, no real penalty). Illiterate functions as the Barbarian class feature Illiteracy, but cannot be overcome by taking a level in a literate class. Additionally, it provides a +1 (unnamed) bonus to a single skill of your choice (since the build relies mostly on Iaijutsu Focus, I recommend that). You can, however, become literate without losing the bonuses of the flaw (extra feat, skill bonus) by spending two skill points to become literate.


The suggested ability scores for this build are as follows.
For a Standard Point-Buy system, your starting abilities should be Str 10, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 17.
If your campaign uses the Elite Array, you should distribute your scores in this manner: Str 13, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 15.
Make sure your Dexterity score is at least 14 at character creation, otherwise you will not be able to raise it high enough (without permanent, expensive magical enhancement) to take Flick of the Wrist at 15th level. A high Intelligence will confer a Dodge bonus to Armor Class after taking the first level of Iaijutsu Master, but only when not wearing armor.

ECL Class/HD/LA Feats Special
1st Fighter Cross Class Learning(Iaijutsu Focus, any other) , Perceptive Duelist, Improved Initiative, Exotic Weapon Proficiency(Katana) Iaijutsu Focus* 4 ranks
2nd Fighter Quick Draw Iaijutsu Focus 5 ranks
3rd Fighter Improved Unarmed Strike Iaijutsu Focus 6 ranks
4th Fighter Weapon Juggle Ability Increase: Dexterity +1, Iaijutsu Focus 7 ranks
5th Fighter Iaijutsu Focus 8 ranks
6th Fighter Stunning Fist, Skill Focus(Iaijutsu Focus) Iaijutsu Focus 9 ranks
7th Iaijutsu Master Canny Defense, Weapon Finesse(Katana), Iaijutsu Focus 10 ranks
8th Iaijutsu Master Lightning Blade, Ability Increase: Dexterity +1, Iaijutsu Focus 11 ranks
9th Iaijutsu Master Freezing the Lifeblood* Iaijutsu Focus 12 ranks
10th Iaijutsu Master (Bonus Feat: Dodge), Iaijutsu Focus 13 ranks
11th Iaijutsu Master Strike From the Void, Iaijutsu Focus 14 ranks
12th Fighter Combat Reflexes Iaijutsu Focus 15 ranks
13th Fighter Weapon Focus (Katana) Ability Increase: Dexterity +1, Iaijutsu Focus 16 ranks
14th Fighter Iaijutsu Focus 17 ranks
15th Fighter Mobility, Spring Attack Iaijutsu Focus 18 ranks
16th Fighter Ability Increase: Charisma +1, Iaijutsu Focus 19 ranks
17th Fighter Weapon Specialization(Katana) Iaijutsu Focus 20 ranks
18th Fighter Improved Critical(Katana) Iaijutsu Focus 21 ranks
19th Fighter Bonded Weapon (3.5e Feat) Iaijutsu Focus 22 ranks
20th Fighter Ability Increase: Charisma +1, Iaijutsu Focus 23 ranks
  • Oriental Adventures


This build relies on killing enemies before they get a chance to react. Iaijutsu Focus grants a character generous bonus damage dice against flat-footed opponents. So long as the Striker acts first in combat, takes his opponents by surprise, or successfully employs his Stunning Fist, he can deal massive damage (both literally and figuratively) to his opponents. A high Charisma modifier acts as bonus on each bonus damage die granted by Iaijutsu Focus at the 5th Iaijutsu Master level. The minimum bonus damage dice at this level (10th) will be +3d6 on a result of 22 (2 result + 3 skill focus + 1 illiterate + 13 skill ranks + 3 Charisma modifier) and the maximum will be +7d6 on a result of 40 (20 result + 3 skill focus + 1 illiterate + 13 skill ranks + 3 Charisma mdifier). This damage is in addition to the normal damage dealt by the katana, so minimum damage output will be 13 (1 katana + 3 Iaijutsu bonus dice + 9 Iaijutsu bonus damage) and maximum damage (no critical) will be 73 (10 katana + 42 Iaijutsu bonus dice + 21 Iaijutsu bonus damage), with the average damage output being 37 with an Iaijutsu Focus roll of 10 (5 katana + 17 Iaijutsu bonus dice + 15 Iaijutsu bonus damage).

It is important to note that Iaijutsu focus only functions against Flat-Footed and Immobilized opponents, and that the bonus damage applies to the first attack made after the check. Additionally, however, to gain the benefits of Iaijutsu Focus, you must draw a weapon in the same round, so Quick Draw and Quick Sheath are absolutely necessary to this build. Quick Sheath makes sheathing your weapon a free action, which does not provoke attacks of opportunity, allowing you to freely draw and sheath your weapon throughout combat, conceivably gaining the benefits of Iaijutsu Focus every attack (the check is a free action).

!!Iaijutsu Focus requires you to strike before the opponents turn in the initiative order "If you attack a flat-footed opponent immediately after drawing a melee weapon, you can deal extra damage" so while stunning fist may be used to delay their action for one turn, it cannot be used mid combat for additional Iaijutsu Focus strikes as it merely denies them Dex to AC, NOT leaving them flat-footed.

This is a correction to the concept of Iaijutsu Focus being used against Immobilized opponents, if they are not flat-footed, it doesn't work!!

Check with your DM as to the appropriateness of the above statement. An example of a flat-footed opponent is given as first round of combat. However, the next sentence can be read that the conditions for flat-footed i.e. an opponent who loses their Dex AC bonus, and cannot make attacks of opportunity. There are feats, such as surprise riposte (Drow of the Underdark), that allow you to confer the flat-footed status in combat.

Unfortunately due to the wording of several books, it's unclear whether immunity to either one of the conditions grants immunity to being flat-footed, i.e. whether a character who retains his dex bonus to AC when he normally would lose it, but cannot make AoOs may still be considered flat-footed.

However, given that feats can confer this status, it would make sense that any combination of status' that would leave an opponent without the Dex bonus to AC and unable to make attacks of opportunity should confer flat-footed as the condition in addition to any other effects. This would make an immobilized opponent flat-footed.

Munchkin-Size Me[edit]

The Striker is already a Munchkin-level abuse of the existing rules, but if you can add anything to it, please feel free to add it here!

  • A one level dip into the Marshal base class (Miniatures Handbook) gets you your CHA bonus to CHA (skill) checks. Good for them early damages. -BBQLord
  • Since Stunning Fist doesn't work well for this classes purposes, get rid of it along with Improved Unarmed Strike and Freezing The Life Blood. (If you want to have the ability to punch something in a grapple go for a gauntlet). Instead, take Item Familiar (Unearthed Arcana) and apply it to your Katana. Pump your skill points into it, potentially doubling your Iajutsu Focus base. Also gives nice additional benefits. Change your 6th level feat to Power Attack (Player's Handbook) and your 9th level feat to Leap Attack (Complete Adventurer). With this combo, there shouldn't be a second turn. You rush in, draw your weapon as part of your charge, Jump at the target. With a -5 point power attack you get +30 damage. Due to the Item Familiar you should have an additional +8 to your Iajutu Focus by tenth level increasing your min, max, and average by one die, by 20th level it should increase IF by +18, leaving your minimum IF roll at the maximum for the skill (2 (d20) + 23(skill) + 18 (Item Familiar) + 3 (skill Focus) + 4 (charisma Bonus) = 50). Downside is that if you lose your Item Familiar you are totally screwed.

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