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Darkxarth
2010-05-02, 11:36 AM
I am looking for some assistance. I will be running a one-shot at GenCon this August in the 3.5 system. I will be using a home-made adventure where the PCs are hired to protect an airship on its voyage. Needless to say, there is much danger.

So, the level of the PCs for this one-shot is 6th, since classes tend to be the most balanced around this level. Plus, I already sent the info to GenCon and it's probably too late to change it. Regardless, I will be accepting between two and six players and thought it would for everyone to be able to pick characters, so that no one gets stuck playing the only remaining character if they show up last. To that end, I am looking to create 10 character sheets for 6th-level characters.

Ideally, these characters should be vaguely balanced (no more than 2 tiers apart) and above all, they should be fun to play. I already have ideas for what races/classes I want to use, since I already have the portraits picked out, but I could be flexible on this. I tried to include all of the core races and also attempted to keep the classes relatively simple to learn and play.


Dwarf Factotum (Controller, Two-Handed Fighting, Movement skills)
Dwarf Ranger (Damage Dealer, Archery, Movement skills)
Gnome Barbarian (Damage Dealer, Two-Handed Fighting, Movement skills)
Grey Elf Duskblade (Offensive Caster, Sword and Board, Caster skills)
Half-Elf Swashbuckler (Damage Dealer, Fencing, Movement + Social skills)
Half-Orc Cleric (Defensive Caster, Any combat style, Any skill focus)
Halfling Ninja (Controller, Two-Weapon Fighting, Sneak + Movement skills)
Human Warlock (Damage Dealer, Offensive Blaster, Caster skills)
Human Knight (Tank, Sword and Board, Social skills)
Wood Elf Druid (Shapeshift variant; Defensive Caster, Archery, Any skill focus)


What I am looking for are builds for these characters that make the playable and fun. I realize it's not necessarily possible to balance a Ninja against a Cleric, but keep in mind that it's just a one-shot, so close is good enough.

My biggest problem is feat selection and magic item purchasing. I have access to many 3.5 books, but not all (no Dragon Magic, none of the Races of X books, no Heroes of Horror, and probably a few other obscure ones).

If you need more information, which I am sure you will, ask and I shall provide. Thanks in advance.

Eldariel
2010-05-02, 11:43 AM
Specify roles for:
- Factotum
- Ranger
- Swashbuckler
- Cleric
- Ninja
- Druid


All of those can be built for a dozen different focuses. Need:
1) Combat role (damage dealer, tank (that is, martial controller), defensive caster, offensive caster?)
2) Combat style (TWF/THF/Archery/UA+NW combat?; control/damage/buff/debuff spells?)
3) Skill focus (social, sneak, other?)

The rest are rather straightforward. Bit surprised by the Gnome Barbarian though; but it's definitely doable!

Darkxarth
2010-05-02, 12:04 PM
- Factotum
- - Controller
- - Two-Handed Weapon (10-ft reach)
- - Movement (Climb, Jump, Balance, etc.)
- Ranger
- - Damage Dealer
- - Crossbow Archery (I know, I know)
- - Movement skills
- Swashbuckler
- - Damage Dealer
- - Fencing
- - Social + Movement
- Cleric
- - Tank/Defensive Caster
- - Any combat style
- - Any skill focus
- Ninja
- - Martial Controller (double kusari-gama)
- - Two-Weapon Fighting
- - Sneak
- Druid
- - Defensive Caster
- - Archery
- - Any skill focus

Also, the Gnome Barbarian is fun. I was figuring using Monkey Grip (and getting rid of that pesky -2 atk) for a medium Greatsword.

I will add these descriptors to the list at the top, too.

Tinydwarfman
2010-05-02, 12:05 PM
Consider replacing the ninja with a shadow-hand spec'd swordsage, and the knight with a crusader or warblade. I you pick their maneuvers beforehand, it should be fairly simple even to players who haven't used ToB before.

Eldariel
2010-05-02, 12:18 PM
What about Flaws? That'd give a bit more to work with. Anyways...


- Factotum
- - Controller
- - Two-Handed Weapon (10-ft reach)
- - Movement (Climb, Jump, Balance, etc.)

Int > Str > Con+Dex > Rest

Combat Expertise + Imp. Trip; maybe Knowledge Devotion for last with some focus on Knowledge-skills. Guisarme. Mayhap one-level Master of Masks level to open up various Exotic Weapons.


- Ranger
- - Damage Dealer
- - Crossbow Archery (I know, I know)
- - Movement skills

So, WF: Crossbow, Rapid Reload, Crossbow Archer to go with Rapid Shot. Mystic Ranger with Spell Compendium's Ranger spells (Find the Gap, Hunter's Mercy, Distant Shot, etc.).

Dex >> Con > Int+Wis > Rest


- Swashbuckler
- - Damage Dealer
- - Fencing
- - Social + Movement

Fencing as in one-hander? Consider Swordsage. Also, Daring Outlaw Rogue, though such works better for two-handing. I think Swordsage would work best here.


- Cleric
- - Tank/Defensive Caster
- - Any combat style
- - Any skill focus

Wis > Str + Con > Cha > Rest. Two-hand reach weapon, War-domain as necessary. Concentration + Spellcraft + K: Religion for skills, Divine Spell Power, team buffs, self-buffs, Power Attack.


- Ninja
- - Martial Controller (double kusari-gama)
- - Two-Weapon Fighting
- - Sneak

TWF + Kusari-Gama + Craven (Sudden Strike qualifies as Sneak Attack) then. Str > Dex > Con+Wis > Int > Cha.


- Druid
- - Defensive Caster
- - Archery
- - Any skill focus

Humm, Archery-stuff comes a bit late for Druid. Still...yeah, just Rapid Shot-line and profit.

Darkxarth
2010-05-02, 02:15 PM
Oh yeah, I was hoping to give each character the option of picking one Flaw/Feat combo. That way, they don't have to take a Flaw, but if they really want the extra feat, they can. On that note, the Flaw should have some effect on the character, probably penalizing one of its styles of combat/skill/magic that is not getting boosted by the feat. Or at least they should be thematically related.

For instance:
Gnome Barbarian
Flaw - Weak Will (-3 Will)
Feat - Mad Foam Rager

Dwarf Ranger
Flaw - Noncombatant
Feat - Ranged Pin

Thanks, for your help Eldariel.

Runestar
2010-05-02, 06:44 PM
You will likely want to make those PCs as simple and intuitive to play as possible, since new players won't have much time to analyze all the options at their disposal. Not sure if factotum fits the bill though.

This also limits the extent to which you can optimize them, for better or worse.

For druid, I recommend ranged attack spells such as produce flame, flaming sphere and call lightning. Rejuvenation for spontaneous healing of sorts, probably rapid shot for mundane archery. Shapeshift likely won't come into play much.

For swashbuckler, I agree with daring outlaw. So your build is likely rogue3/swashbuckler3 with daring outlaw and TWF.

For ranger, maybe ranger2/scout4 with swift hunter?

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2010-05-02, 09:03 PM
You can use the Feat Index (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/lists/feats) if you don't know where something comes from. The party looks to be lacking in arcane spellcasting, consider including a Beguiler or a Wizard or Sorcerer.

Dwarf Factotum (Controller, Two-Handed Fighting, Movement skills)
Combat Reflexes, Stand Still, and Knowledge Devotion. Bladeweave and Web would be good spells for him to pick. Int > Dex > Str > Con > Wis > Cha
+1 Brutal Surge Glaive, Masterwork Armor Spikes, Mithral Breastplate

Dwarf Ranger (Damage Dealer, Archery, Movement skills)
Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, and Natural Bond, and if I were given this character to play the first thing I would do is go buy a bow and throw that crossbow away. Seriously, that just looks like you're trying to make the character suck. Give him a Dire Bat or Dire Eagle animal companion which he'd use as a mount, if it doesn't do more than a single-move in a round he takes no penalty to ranged attacks. I'd prefer a Dire Eagle because it has a 10 ft. reach so he'd stay out of reach while it attacks, it's detailed in Races of Stone. Dex > Str > Con > Wis > Int > Cha
+1 Mighty Composite Longbow, 20 +1 Spell Storing Arrows (contain Bands of Steel, Shivering Touch, Sound Lance, Hold Person, etc.), +1 Mithral Breastplate, Wand of Cat's Grace (16 charges)

Gnome Barbarian (Damage Dealer, Two-Handed Fighting, Movement skills)
Power Attack, Extra Rage, and Leap Attack, max ranks in Intimidate with the Never Outnumbered skill trick. Str > Con > Dex > Wis > Cha > Int
+1 Greataxe, +1 Mithral Breastplate, Armbands of Might, Cloak of Resistance +1
Stat his attacks Power Attacking for 0, for -2 (most efficient due to armbands), and for -6, and include both normal and Leap Attack damage modifiers.

Grey Elf Duskblade (Offensive Caster, Sword and Board, Caster skills)
Make this character the Half-Elf, and the Swashbuckler a Grey Elf. Use a two-handed weapon rather than sword and board. Knowledge Devotion, Battle Caster, Power Attack. Str > Int > Con > Dex > Wis > Cha
Masterwork Full Plate, +1 Greatsword, Armbands of Might, Eternal Wand of Whirling Blade
Stat his attacks Power Attacking for 0, for -2 (most efficient due to armbands), and for -6.

Half-Elf Swashbuckler (Damage Dealer, Fencing, Movement + Social skills)
Make this character the Grey Elf, and the Duskblade a Half-Elf. Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Weapon Familiarity, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, use the Arcane Stunt ACF in Complete Mage for probably Spider Climb. Be sure to check out the skill tricks in Complete Scoundrel. Dex > Int > Con > Cha > Wis > Str
+1 Elven Lightblade, +1 Elven Thinblade, +1 Mithral Breastplate, Ring of Protection +1, Cloak of Resistance +1

Half-Orc Cleric (Defensive Caster, Any combat style, Any skill focus)
Sword and board Cleric of St. Cuthbert, Strength domain, Law Devotion; Law Inviolate, Touch of Healing, Heavy Armor Optimization. Wis > Con > Str > Cha > Int > Dex
Masterwork Full Plate, Masterwork Heavy Steel Shield, +1 Heavy Mace, War Cross of St. Cuthbert (Complete Champion p133-135), Tabard of the Great Crusade (MIC version, relic power inactive), Lesser Rod of Extend

Halfling Ninja (Controller, Two-Weapon Fighting, Sneak + Movement skills)
Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse, Craven. Dex > Wis > Con > Int > Str > Cha
Two Small +1 Shortswords, Bracers of Armor +2, Gloves of Dex +2

Human Warlock (Damage Dealer, Offensive Blaster, Caster skills)
Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Focus: Ranged Touch, Flyby Attack; Eldritch Spear, Baleful Utterance, See the Unseen, Fell Flight. Dex > Cha > Con > Int > Str > Wis
Lesser Chasuble of Fell Power, +1 Mithral Buckler, +1 Chain Shirt, Vest of Resistance +1

Human Knight (Tank, Sword and Board, Social skills)
I honestly know nothing about this class, because I hate the idea of implementing an MMO-style tank in D&D. You won't even get any social skills as class skills other than Intimidate and Handle Animal. As others have suggested, consider using Crusader or Warblade instead. You could even swap this out for an arcane spellcaster, since the group is already melee-heavy.

Wood Elf Druid (Shapeshift variant; Defensive Caster, Archery, Any skill focus)
Consider using Killoren from Races of the Wild, and use the Aspect of the Hunter. Trying to make what may as well be a primary melee class into an archer because you have a melee-heavy group is probably not a good idea. Switch out one of the other melee characters for an arcane spellcaster and let the Druid do what Druids are best at. Spell Focus: Conjuration, Augment Summoning, Killoren Hunter. Wis > Con > Str > Dex > Int > Wis
Ring of the Beast (Complete Champion), Lesser Rod of Extend, Wand of Splinterbolt (22 charges)

Eldariel
2010-05-02, 09:46 PM
Make this character the Grey Elf, and the Duskblade a Half-Elf. Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Weapon Familiarity, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, use the Arcane Stunt ACF in Complete Mage for probably Spider Climb. Be sure to check out the skill tricks in Complete Scoundrel. Dex > Int > Con > Cha > Wis > Str
+1 Elven Lightblade, +1 Elven Thinblade, +1 Mithral Breastplate, Ring of Protection +1, Cloak of Resistance +1

He did want a fencer; that is, one-hander though. As such, I'm thinking Swordsage or Warblade. They are the only classes that can really pull one-handed combat off. Swordsage seems like a better fit, but Warblade is ultimately probably the way to go as that allows you to pick Einhander for your level 6 feat; not amazing or anything, but it's the only way to really in any way mechanically gain benefit of only wielding one weapon.

Diamond Mind focus with maybe Martial Study to pick up Counter Charge or such, and yeah. And to OP, if you're worried about ToB-classes being hard, read up on the extremely positive experiences in one-shot when they were just released (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dd/20060929a).

Icewraith
2010-05-02, 10:08 PM
Bladesinger has a one-handed weapon style, but it requires longsword or rapier, not bastard sword (level of EWM for 2h power attacking while 1hing) and a ton of feats. Plus the class really only shines in gestalt.

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2010-05-02, 10:25 PM
Bladesinger has a one-handed weapon style, but it requires longsword or rapier, not bastard sword (level of EWM for 2h power attacking while 1hing) and a ton of feats. Plus the class really only shines in gestalt.

EWM doesn't work that way. Uncanny Blow allows you to add twice your Str bonus to damage, instead of one and a half times, when wielding a one-handed exotic weapon in two hands. The note about Power Attack says only that you get the normal two-handed bonus, not that you get any additional bonus. It's probably only there so that nobody is lead to believe that they would get an additional benefit from Power Attack when they're adding twice their Str bonus to damage.

Bladesinger isn't even beneficial at this level. You'd have to go something like Fighter 2/ Duskblade 3/ Bladesinger 1, and then it would only grant +1 AC when one-handing.

Eldariel
2010-05-02, 10:38 PM
Best I can come up with is Swashbuckler 3/Fighter 1 (Hit'n'Run Variant)/Warblade 2 or Swashbuckler 1/Fighter 1 (Hit'n'Run Variant)/Warblade 4. That is assuming one wants Einhander, of course. Hit'n'Run allows actually adding Dex to Damage when opp is Flat-footed so the Free Feint-maneuver is actually useful. Then you only need like:
Apprentice: Criminal (for Sleight of Hand; apparently it's not a class skill for Swashbuckler :smallconfused:)
Martial Study and Martial Stance in Shadow Hand (for...guess)
Weapon Finesse and Shadow Blade
Einhander
and probably Combat Expertise + Improved Disarm. And you'll be majorly suboptimal but with Warblade, you can at least get something done. Getting your Dex x2 (and Int to damage) on flat-footed foes is pretty alright and if you used Sneak Attack Fighter, you could pick up Craven too for some extra, and if you go Warblade 4, you can pick up Insightful Strike from Diamond Mind, but that's about it for easy bonuses and nice stuff I can think of.

Two-weapon fighter would be much better and Swordsage would be a great dip, but unfortunately level 6 is one level too few to have SS-levels and still qualify for Einhander and Einhander is the only real means to utilize one-handed fighting (I refuse to acknowledge Bladesinger's existence; I can't believe WoTC decided to screw it up so bad).

I can't believe WoTC screwed up one-handers so bad overall; clearly there's been an intent to cater to them with Duelist, Swashbuckler, Bladesinger, Einhander and so on, but:
- Duelist can't wear armor, has his Int bonus to AC capped by level and can't use two weapons efficiently gaining minor damage bonuses.
- Swashbuckler has absolutely no reason not to two-weapon fight.
- Bladesinger is caster with again Int bonus to AC capped by level and a bunch of inconsequential abilities.
- Einhander gives you +2 Dodge-bonus to AC which is barely enough to make up for not wielding a non-magical Shield and getting Shield-bonus from anything but the Shield-spell as a one-hander is pretty much impossible (even the Crap Incarnate Two-Weapon Defense line requires two weapons). And the other two maneuvers are kinda meh.

Gah. Oh, and don't even get me started on how Disarming, the archetypal one-hander tactic, is optimized for the Barbarian wielding Greatsword with absolutely zero grace. FFUUUUUU. Indeed, the best weapon for Disarming is...guess what, Spiked Chain!

EDIT: I just thought of a bit better alternative: take Thug Sneak Attack Hit'n'Run Fighter-level and you'll get Sleight of Hand in class, saving the Apprentice-feat. Also, a point of Sneak Attack qualifies you for Craven if you feel so inclined (so your Sapphire Nightmare Blade deals Weapon+Dex+1d6+Dex+Sneak Attack+Craven).

Indeed, Finesse (Swash)+Shadow+Study+Stance+Einhander+Craven is only 6 feats so 2 flaws + Swashbuckler gets you it all.

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2010-05-02, 10:56 PM
I honestly don't see the appeal of Einhander. When fighting defensively you get +5 AC for -4 to hit, and the other benefits don't look like they would even be useful. Replace it with EWP: Broadblade Shortsword and get TWF and ITWF, and you'll still get +5 AC for -4 to hit when fighting defensively (as per errata), plus you're making twice as many attacks/round.

If going for a one-handed duelist/fencer type of fighting style, I'd get EWP: Quickblade Rapier (Complete Adventurer), Combat Expertise, and Improved Disarm. He can use his offhand for tricks like throwing Tanglefoot Bags and Alchemist's Fire, or using a disarm action to take something away from an opponent. Hardly an optimal choice, but that's probably making the most of it.

Eldariel
2010-05-02, 10:59 PM
I honestly don't see the appeal of Einhander. When fighting defensively you get +5 AC for -4 to hit, and the other benefits don't look like they would even be useful. Replace it with EWP: Broadblade Shortsword and get TWF and ITWF, and you'll still get +5 AC for -4 to hit when fighting defensively (as per errata), plus you're making twice as many attacks/round.

There's no appeal. It's simply the only real source of any such effects. That's the whole issue. And yeah, you need Combat Expertise for Einhander's first ability to be any "good" and the last one can be useful, but is about a skill trick. And the second is...well, very rarely any good.

Darkxarth
2010-05-03, 08:21 AM
Well, it looks like one-handed one-weapon fighting is a terrible idea. Thanks to everyone for trying to make it work, though. I might try it out sometime for myself, as I still like the idea of a fencer, but it seems too complicated for a one-shot.

Thanks to everyone for your advice. I think I might switch out the Knight for a Beguiler, which would give the party a potential Arcane Controller + Sneak skills. I will probably make a Daring Outlaw and use two-weapon fighting (not sure if I want to go Grey Elf yet or not, probably will).

If anyone has other suggestions, just feel free to keep in mind that I am DMing the game, so a group of sub-standard power characters is ok, as long as they are fun to play.

Greenish
2010-05-03, 09:02 AM
Since they will be on airship, a source of flight would be useful, if not necessary. Warlock will have it, cleric can get it from domains, factotum and duskblade from spells (though the duskblade one isn't that hot) and druid from forms. How about some good ol' animal devotion for some of the melee'ers?