Ultimate Defender (4e Optimized Character Build)

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Defenders are very good at, well... defending. Of course, you will still get hit sometimes. This build tries to make a character that can just keep in the front lines, go in total defense all the time, and watch your opponents trying to hit you. Even if you are hit, you can still heal yourself, and attacks that aren't against AC will also have a hard time hitting you. This build works great if you team up with a ranged striker and just stay where you are while the enemy is killed by attacks from behind you. I only used the PHB for this, because I don't have a lot of D&D books. If you see a way to improve this build, please edit it.


Player's Handbook

First Level[edit]

Race: A human is the best fit for this build. They have a bonus feat, +1 to fortitude, reflex and will and can choose Constitution as an ability bonus.

Class We'll use a paladin. Paladins can use plate armor and heavy shields from the start, so you don't have to take a feat for them. Paladins also get a bonus to all non-AC defenses and can heal themselves, so they are a perfect fit for this build.

Starting Ability Scores: Strength 14, Constitution 16 (+2), Dexterity 13, Intelligence 8, Wisdom 14, Charisma 10. The ability score bonus is in brackets. We need a good Constitution for your HP and some feats. Strength is useful for attacks and feats. Wisdom boosts your will defense and gives you the ability to multiclass to cleric. Finally, we boost Dexterity for a better reflex defense. We dump Intelligence because there are no interesting feats that require it.

You can also choose this array: Strength 11, Constitution 14 (+2), Dexterity 12, Intelligence 8, Wisdom 14 and Charisma 16. This will give you worse melee attacks, HP and feats, but it will boost Divine challenge and your Charisma-based powers. For the remainder of this page, I'll asume that you choose the first array.

Class Options: In my opinion, you should choose either Bahamut or Ioun as your deity. Their Channel divinity feat powers are both useful for this build. Armor of Bahamut lets you turn a critical hit in a normal hit, and Iouns Poise gives you a +5 bonus to will defense until the end of your next turn.

Equipment: Start with this:

  • Plate armor (50 gp). A absolute requirement. It gives you a -2 armor check penalty, but you aren't going to use these skills a lot.
  • Heavy shield (10 gp) +2 to AC and reflex. Again, a -2 armor check penalty, but you can always stow your shield before you are going to do such things.
  • Holy symbol (10 gp) You need this if you want to multiclass to cleric.
  • Adventurers kit (15 gp)
  • Longsword (15 gp) A nice +3 attack bonus and 1d8 damage. Because your attack bonus will be lower than usual, you need a +3 weapon.

50 + 10 + 10 + 15 + 15 = 100 gp.

Feats: At 1st level, pick:

  • Channel divinity (Ioun/Bahamut)
  • Human perseverance (Better saving throws are always nice)

Powers: Your attack bonus will not be great, and PHB Paladin powers aren't great. However, some attacks might be useful.

Suggested level 1 at-will prayers:

  • Holy strike - Not particularly useful, but it's one of the two paladin at-will attacks that uses strength.
  • Valiant strike - A nice bonus to your low attack rolls.
  • Enfeebling strike (human bonus) - It uses Charisma, but enemies will have a harder time hitting you.

Suggested level 1 encounter prayer:

  • Piercing smite - Marks enemies, uses strength and targets reflex.

Suggested level 1 daily prayer:

  • Paladins Judgement - There are no other dailies that use strength, so I recommend this one.

Suggested level 2 utility prayer:

  • Sacred Circle or Martyrs blessing

Final attributes[edit]

At level 1, you will have:

  • 15 + 18 = 33 hit points (Bloodied 16, surge value 8)
  • Speed 5
  • Initiative 1
  • AC 20 (+8 armor, +2 shield)
  • Fortitude 16 (4 + 1 + 1), Reflex 15 (1 + 1 + 1 + 2), Will 14 (2 + 1 +1)
  • +5 attack bonus (+2 strength, +3 weapon)

A little math: According to the 4e Creatures Guideline (4e Guideline), a level 1 creature should have a attack bonus of + 6, and 9 average damage. This means that they have to roll 14 or higher on their attack roll (16 or higher if you are defending), so they will hit around 35 % (25 % when defending) of the time. Your HP is 33, and they will do around 9 damage, so you can take 3 hits. So if you are in total defense all the time, you will be able to survive for 12 to 16 rounds. That should be enough time for the striker behind you to defeat the enemy, shouldn't it? Even if you are having trouble, you can use your second wind or Lay on Hands (You have 14 surges healing 8 each), so you will be able to keep alive for quite a long time.


Powers and Feats[edit]

Heroic feats:



Initiate of the faith

Blade opportunist

Weapon proficiency (Bastard sword)

Paragon feats:

Armor Specialization (Plate)

Combat Anticipation

Iron Will

Lightning reflexes

Great Fortitude

Uncanny dodge

Action Recovery

Improved second wind

Epic feats:


Epic resurgence

Paragon Path: Champion of order or Warpriest.


  • You have a -4 Armor check penalty to some of your skill checks.
  • You are not very good at attacking.

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