Spiked Chain Freak (3.5e Optimized Character Build)

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Many of the D&D players I know consider the wizard to be the best class. I try here make even deadlier but the same time very adaptable character than can ever be made just sticking onto wizard. My goal is to build the best melee-combatant ever by using only the core rulebooks. I tried to build a killing machine, who can adapt to almost any situation and who does not need any spell puffing -support from the spellcasters of the party. The character uses its own spells to greatly enhance its killing potential before rushing to the combat. The result was a rogue-assassin-barbarian-fighter-ranger-wizard(!).

The core of this character is the devastating use of its chain weapon. Another point is to get the best out the different classes, so there are total five different classes/prestige classes used in this build. And no exp-penalty whatsoever!

I have tried to thoroughly optimize the character about to the 12th level. After that you might want to consider to take another route than sticking on to rogue (for example a ranger, barbarian or assassin would be an interesting choice). Note that the favoured class will not be determined until reaching 12th level or so.

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

The character has one wizard and three assassin levels. The roman numbers present the amount of spells per day /scrolls possessed. In a normal combat situation (if the character has a couple of rounds to prepare herself) she casts the Enlarge person and Shield on herself. If confronting spellcasters, the Protection from Evil/Law...etc. spell is a good choice to be cast from the scroll. In general the character can react and puff herself in wide range of situations and different threats by having so many scrolls.

WIZARD SPELLS: School specialization: Abjuration. Prohibited schools: Necromancy, Evocation. 1-level spells (5): Enlarge Person I, Shield I (II dungeons), Expeditious Retreat (I countryside), Charm Person (I city), Mount (I or more when in trouble/much loot) 0-level spells (all, except prohibited): Read Magic I, Detect Magic I, Message I, Resistance I

ASSASSIN SPELLS: 1-level spells: true strike I, disguise self I, jump I 2-level spells: invisibility I (city, countryside), spider climb I (dungeons)

Scrolls to buy (cost appr. 2000 gp): 0-level wizard: Mending II, Prestidigitation I, Detect Magic I, Read Magic I, Message I, Light I, Mage Hand I 1-level wizard: Shield II, Feather Fall II, Unseen Servant II, Disguise Self II, True Strike I, Expeditious Retreat I, Charm Person III, Grease I, Enlarge Person I, Obscuring Mist I, Sleep II, Protection from Evil IV, …from Good II, …from Law II, …from Chaos II, Identify ?, Comprehend Languages I, Hold Portal I, True Strike III, Jump II, Reduce Person I, Detect secret doors I, Mount IV, Detect Undead I 2-level assassin: Spider climb II, Invisibility II

Feel free to buy even higher level scrolls that will require a check to be cast successfully. The chance for failure is quite small: 10% for 2-level wizard spells, 20 % for 3-level spells, and so forth.


Surprisingly, the primary goal for this character is to have a high AC and high attack and damage bonus. A Mithral Shirt of Twilight + 3/4 is an ample armor to look for when in the lower classes. And a magically enhanced spiked chain of some sort is naturally a must. And, when enough money, buy a cloak of resistance +5. Without it this Spiked Chain Freak would be an easy target for the enemy casters using will-based spells.

No further item list is necessary. It is easy to "optimize" the character if you have 100 000 gp money. The point in this character is that it manages pretty well even without much wealth.


Here is an example using the 32 point-buy: STR 14 DEX 16 CON 14 INT 14 WIS 10 (or 12 if you don't mind so much about charisma based roleplaying) CHA 10 (8)

And a 24 point-buy version: STR 14 DEX 14 CON 12 INT 14 WIS 10 CHA 8

Note that the dexterity and intelligence needs to be at least 13 in order to get whirlwind attack. It is wise to raise the intelligence score to 14 in order to get the access to 2nd level assassin spells.

RACE: Any, but human seems to be the best option by far because that is the only way to obtain the whirlwind attack at level 6 and iron will at level 9 (without taking the iron will the character is pretty vulnerable against spellcasters).

PROGRESSION: (level + feats and special abilities)

1: rogue - comb expertise, dodge, sneak atk 1d6, trapfinding

2: barbarian - rage, fast movement

3: barbarian - exotic weapon: spiked chain, uncanny dodge

4: fighter - mobility

5: wizard - familiar (rat), scribe scroll (1-lvl spells)

6: fighter - spring attack, whirwind attack

7: assassin - sneak attack 2d6, death attack, poison use

8: assassin - improved uncanny dodge, +1 against poison

9: assassin - iron will, sneak attack 3d6 (2-lvl spells)

10: ranger - favoured enemy: humans, track, wild empathy

11: rogue - evasion

12: rogue - weapon focus: spiked chain, sneak attack 4d6, trap sense +1

13: ranger - combat style: rapid shot

14: rogue

15: rogue - improved trip, sneak attack 5d6

16: rogue - trap sense +2

17: rogue - sneak attack 6d6

18: rogue - improved initiative

19: rogue - sneak attack 7d6, trap sense +3

20: rogue - improved evasion

Skills: Any, but it is very recommended to focus on move silently and hide skills. Disable device, search, spot and listen are always good skills too for roguish characters. And you might want to take ranks in survival too so the character can track enemies properly after taking the first ranger class at 10th level.

Ability increase: 4th dex, 8th dex, 12th str, 16th str, 20th str

Other Components[edit]

Note the poison use and the death attack special abilities. With curious planning and preparations this character can take out very tough enemies with a surprise attack. In turn, she herself is not that vulnerable to ambushes - thanks to uncanny dodge that is already gained at 3rd level. (And just compare how vulnerable a wizard is to sudden blows!)

When in prolonged combat, the character uses its ability to rage to get extra HP and especially to make the attacks more deadlier.


The more enemies, the nastier it gets! When using Enlarge Person she can use the whirlwind attack to all the enemies within reach - and the reach is 20 ft. And with spiked chain she can hit every single square within reach (also adjacent squares)! So there are total 96 squares in the threat range - a theoretical chance of hitting 96 attacks per round with full attack bonuses!!!

The character itself remains well protected. The goal is to enhance the dexterity to 22. After that the AC is easily over 30 with magic mithral shirt, some deflection ring /nat armor amulet and the shield spell cast by the character itself. And in turn, from the 8th level onwards the enemies don't get the chance to flank this freak.

This character is very deadly way before entering high or epic levels. I think the gap between the regular "sticking-onto-one-class" characters is pretty wide especially on levels 9-12.

Now some of you reading this will point that the BAB fells short in comparison to all fighting-oriented classes. But with rage, enlarge person and weapon focus the attack roll is enhanced by four. With all this the character hits the target pretty much as easy as an equivalent ranger, monk or paladin would do.

And hey what about the saves! Thanks to the cross-classing, the saves are, for example, at 10th level: FORT 11 (with familiar), REF 7, WILL 5 (with iron will). Just compare this to saves of a 10th level wizard: FORT 3 (5 with the rat), REF 3, WILL 6 (8 with iron will).


The character needs to get to close combat to fully utilize its potential. She is not comfortable in situations where the enemy strikes with ranged attacks from longer distance. But even this is not a big problem: the character base speed is in one round boosted to 70ft by casting the expeditious retreat. Even a wizard casting fireballs from long distance will taste the spike chain in no time! The great speed is also very useful when the character tries to pull off from battle or tries to chase down the enemy. And although this character is far from being good bowman, she will take rapid shot for her combat style when reaching 13th level - there is good to have some plan b or c when the character for some reason can't get the enemy within the reach of her spiked chain and the combat is nevertheless unavoidable.

Higher-level advancement is harder due to "over-multi-classing", but this can be mitigated somewhat by switching the Assasin level at 9th with the Rougue level at 11th, and the Ranger level at 13th with the Rougue level at 12th. You'll still take XP penalties, but they'll be delayed until much later on, and you'll still get all the fun abillities you'd have at 13th anyway (though access to 2nd-level spells will be delayed a couple of levels).

The only somewhat a big problem is the will save. I think it is almost necessary to take the iron will feat at 9th level. After taking the iron will and collecting money to buy a +5 cloak of resistance the will save is on tolerable, not yet on a good level. If the character has the money, one can also buy a +X Animated Light Mythril Shield (improves AC with only a minor Arcane Spell Fail chance, potentially freeing up the Shield spell slot) and stick a Crystal of Mind-Cloaking in there (Magic Item Compendium). Both it and the Cloak stack, and mind-effecting spells/enchantments are what the character would usually want to defend against anyway. In fact, the Greater version of the crystal (requires the shield to have +3 enhancement or more) also allows the character to reroll one Will save a day. Invaluable trick if you can afford it.

DM Counters[edit]

This build uses four different classes and a one prestige class. The DM might deny taking this character if the player does not write a convincing background for the character. There sure needs to be some explaination how the character has so many different classes! Of course the true explanation for that is the power gaming, but try to build a proper background for the character to convince the DM that there can be a character with all these traits.

Will save sucks even with Iron Will (since all characters tend to use Cloaks of Resistence, they're factored out here): cast just about any enchantment or mind-effecting spell on him, and he'll be the evil one's puppet for the whole combat.


Although my point was to optimize the melee combat abilities, the character will eventually develop to be a "Jack of all trades" too. The character can make itself to be the party's melee tank, trap beater, tracker and even a secondary spellcaster (especially if using lots of scrolls). So this character basically needs just a cleric on its side to make a "full" party that react properly to almost any of the usual challenges in D&D.

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