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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Lightbulb What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Intro
    Greetings, all!

    Recently, a friend and I have been debating what the most powerful core 3.5 character would be. 'Most powerful' in this case is one able to survive and thrive in a variety of situations, preferably able to handle the game solo when a party of 4+ is normally expected. (Minions gained from spells, class features, skills, feats, and similar sources are allowed and don't count against the 'solo' assumption.) Thus, assume some combination of overworld/overland travel, interplanar travel, dungeon/underground exploration, social situations, knowledge situations, combat situations, and otherwise for this character.

    This character's ability to overcome challenges is continually tested since this character is continually being challenged. (Off-days are still permissible and likely, but reaching level 20 is still the end goal.)

    No (nearly) infinite loops.

    Character Creation
    -Sources: PHB1, DMG1, and MM1 only with the latest errata.
    -Classes: PHB1 base classes only. No prestige classes. No multiclassing.
    -Ability Score Generation: 32 point buy.
    -Starting ECL: 1

    Modifier 1
    -Multiclassing and PrCs are allowed. Favored class penalties exist only if you want them to. How do things change?

    Modifier 2
    -Ability score generation is any number of points, though all stats are capped at 18 before modifiers from race, items, age, etc. How do things change?

    Modifier 3
    -Minions obtained via money are allowed, such as animals and hirelings.

    Modifier 4
    -All SRD content is allowed, except gestalt.

    Modifier 5
    Gestalt is allowed.

    My Thoughts
    Dwarf Druid all the way (except perhaps dipping Monk1 for its goodies) is probably best in this case due to darkvision, a CON bonus, and not needing to highly prioritize STR and DEX. You get 4+INT modifier skill points per level, Spot and Listen as class skills, d8, 2 good saves, and other goodies. Take Leadership at level 6 for a Cleric cohort (Magic and Travel domains) who might be a Dwarf and Natural Spell at 9.

    Alternatively, a Human or Dwarf Generalist Wizard may be more viable due to his utility and crowd control spells.
    Last edited by Endarire; 2019-06-01 at 02:51 AM.
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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    No modifier: Holy Word (And friends)-focused Cleric with at least +10 to CL;
    Modifier 1: not sure, maybe Holy Word Cleric with Hierophant, or Archmage with the right arcana;
    Modifier 2: doesnít change much
    Modifier 3: well, spell point is SRD content...

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    I feel like the answer is very clearly druid.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Assuming you mean a PO build without excessive cheese, I would probably go with Commodore Guff, Doc Roc's build found here, that was competing in this contest.

    It uses a debatable wording in Magic Jar (arguing that having no defined place where your soul goes means you keep your current body), though. The judge in this competition ruled it legal, but there are other opinions.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Starting at ECL 1, must-be-able to solo all encounters normally for 4+, is a very different character compared to ECL 20.

    If power is measured only at the end, but 1-20 survival was required, then access to lvl 9 spells is crucial.

    If power is measured for each level, with the best character simply being the best at as many levels as possible, then casting level is far less of a concern compared to spell access. Such a character will be blasting lvl 8 spells (available per the PHB equipment rules) as soon as possible.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    I feel like the answer is very clearly druid.
    No it's wizard. At the start maybe druid but Planar Binding line of spells, Polymorph line of spells, and Simulacrum dwarf the druid starting at level 7.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by RoboEmperor View Post
    No it's wizard. At the start maybe druid but Planar Binding line of spells, Polymorph line of spells, and Simulacrum dwarf the druid starting at level 7.
    Emperor is correct. Druid is personally a tougher at most levels, but wizards have a better toolkit. And the core Druid misses a lot of its versatility tricks like enhance wildshape.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    You have 3 options, maybe.4, cleric, druid, or wizard. Psion maybe since its srd. Everything else does not compete.

    Without dmm cleric has to optimize for CL, which is plus 6 max in core? Or for rebuke/animate undead. Prayer bead, domain plus 1 and orange ioun stone? Think thats all unless there is a psionic trick I am unaware if with those sources. Planar ally is nice as well but its more restrictive than binding. Animate dead is online at 5 for you plus semi permanent rubuked creatures but I do not think command undead is in a phb domain. Dwarf cleric in full plate is pretty durable early fwiw.

    Druid is great at 1 through 6, dwarf is nice but gnome might be better since you more easily ride a mount. You get pet upgrade at 4 (is dire bat a 4th level option) wild shape at 5, and at 6 it gets pretty dang great with natural spell. You remain great but not insane 7 through 20.

    Wizard is trash 1 and 2, though sleep and a heavy pick should do it most the time. Elf for longbow and kiting good vs. most foes. Halfling gets more survivability but medium longbows a lot better than small slings. At level 3 with downtime wizard can surpass because of command undead. Find some big zombies and zombie away your problems. Or maybe something better situationally that fails a save. At 7 you get animate dead and lpb, so you win from there on out. Plus polymorph.

    Psion might make it if there is an infinite pp trick just in the srd, I do not think there is, but idk I am very weak on psionics.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by Helluin View Post
    No modifier: Holy Word (And friends)-focused Cleric with at least +10 to CL;
    How are you getting +10CL in core?

    Quote Originally Posted by RoboEmperor View Post
    No it's wizard. At the start maybe druid but Planar Binding line of spells, Polymorph line of spells, and Simulacrum dwarf the druid starting at level 7.
    A solo Wizard is seriously vulnerable at level 1-4, it'd only take one decent hit and they'd never make it to higher levels...

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
    A solo Wizard is seriously vulnerable at level 1-4, it'd only take one decent hit and they'd never make it to higher levels...
    Good thing Guard Dogs are only 25gp and in core and Heavy Warhorses are 400gp and in core. Just buy an animal army until you get your levels.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by RoboEmperor View Post
    Good thing Guard Dogs are only 25gp and in core and Heavy Warhorses are 400gp and in core. Just buy an animal army until you get your levels.
    Huh. It has never occured to me in the year or so of playing that you can buy animals. We mostly end up getting our druid to befriend wild ones or new characters come wit-

    We were literally in a town that sold dire wolf puppies and it never occured to me when I had all the monies...

    Ok I need to up my game and stop playing spellcasters for a bit. I get a bit magic-tunnel visioned and forget that nonmagical stuff is useful.
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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by Malphegor View Post
    Huh. It has never occured to me in the year or so of playing that you can buy animals. We mostly end up getting our druid to befriend wild ones or new characters come wit-

    We were literally in a town that sold dire wolf puppies and it never occured to me when I had all the monies...

    Ok I need to up my game and stop playing spellcasters for a bit. I get a bit magic-tunnel visioned and forget that nonmagical stuff is useful.
    Don't beat yourself up. I came up with the animal army trying to solve my necromancer's corpse sourcing problem. So it was spellcasting that led me to it.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by RoboEmperor View Post
    Good thing Guard Dogs are only 25gp and in core and Heavy Warhorses are 400gp and in core. Just buy an animal army until you get your levels.
    Do you know what is even better than having an army of animals? being able to control said animals, so ya the druid is still winning for the first 5 levels.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    Do you know what is even better than having an army of animals? being able to control said animals, so ya the druid is still winning for the first 5 levels.
    This is mostly true (although a wizard with sleep and color spray will still outperform most PCs for combat contribution and utility beginning at level 1. Druid is still better).

    I dispute 5. But it really doesnít matter. Even if Druid clearly wins 1-6 and wizard 7-20, still isnít much of an argument for Druid.
    Last edited by Gnaeus; 2019-05-31 at 10:20 AM.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    Do you know what is even better than having an army of animals? being able to control said animals, so ya the druid is still winning for the first 5 levels.
    So a DC10 untrained handle animal check to make the domesticated trained animals guard you all day is impossible?

    And ofc druid wins first 5 levels. You know what's better than an animal army? Animal army + animal companion.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Sleep's 1 round casting time is an extremely poor choice on a lonely frail dude who'll routinely end up surprised due to abysmal perceptive/infiltration skills.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by Efrate View Post
    Psion might make it if there is an infinite pp trick just in the srd, I do not think there is, but idk I am very weak on psionics.
    I know that there's always Affinity Field + any two psionic friends knowing Bestow Power, or Fission + one Affinity Field each + Bestow Power. I'm not aware of any core recharge trick without Affinity Field though. They come online very late.
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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by emeraldstreak View Post
    Sleep's 1 round casting time is an extremely poor choice on a lonely frail dude who'll routinely end up surprised due to abysmal perceptive/infiltration skills.
    1. Why do you think he has poor perception infiltration skills? He has a pile of skill points and a familiar. He can trivially have a bat, with blindsense, or an owl, with +16 listen. Wizard has the best perception skills of any level 1 character.

    2. Sleep isnít a poor choice. Itís a situational choice. Sleep can disable multiple enemies from 110 feet away. No other core level 1 Spell can do that. If enemies are in your face, use color spray instead. If they are 95 feet off and your tank is between you, sleep is amazing.

    And you know what is amazing about situational choices for wizards? You get a lot of them. Scribe scroll is free. If you can win 1 fight a week later you could have scrolls of sleep, grease, charm person, mage armor, mount, expeditious retreat, animate rope, color spray, comprehend language for 112 gp.
    Last edited by Gnaeus; 2019-05-31 at 11:13 AM.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pippin View Post
    I know that there's always Affinity Field + any two psionic friends knowing Bestow Power, or Fission + one Affinity Field each + Bestow Power. I'm not aware of any core recharge trick without Affinity Field though. They come online very late.
    i believe it uses the Torc. But Psionics is not core so it's moot.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by emeraldstreak View Post
    Sleep's 1 round casting time is an extremely poor choice on a lonely frail dude who'll routinely end up surprised due to abysmal perceptive/infiltration skills.
    There are also too many things that are flatly immune to sleep to depend on it when you only get 3-5 level 1 spells at level 1-2. It's situational, you won't want to prepare it more than once.

    If I'm actually going to game this, say there's an impartial GM, you have to advance by soloing 4 encounters per day with EL=your level or one level lower, leveling is only at the end of the day, with some downtime between days, I start at level 1 and end at level 20, with a prize for making it to 20, I go druid.

    Same conditions, but there are 100 contestants, and those who survive to 20 fight a tournament (random seeding) to the death at level 20 and the winner of that gets a prize. It's cleric, he's less survivable than druid at early levels, but may make it to 5, at which point desecrate+animate makes him effectively unkillable and he's got a real chance at 20 due to having stuff like miracle available. Note that druid still wins if the point buy or rolling method for abilities isn't extremely generous, the cleric needs strength+con to survive low levels (he's basically a self-healing fighter with some spells level 1-4), but then he needs to have high wisdom for things like save DCs at higher levels. Use 25 point buy or elite array or something similar as ability generation, and low level survival basically requires druid.

    Make low level survival a lot easier than above, and I'll go wizard.

    Survival is never a problem after level 5, as all characters take leadership at level 6 and take a generalist wizard cohort, unless the character is a wizard, then he takes a cleric. Since your cohort will be level 18 when you reach the endgame, you can choose domains and races for early survival, knowing that all level 9 wizard magic is available endgame.
    Last edited by Doug Lampert; 2019-05-31 at 11:13 AM.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by RoboEmperor View Post
    So a DC10 untrained handle animal check to make the domesticated trained animals guard you all day is impossible?

    And ofc druid wins first 5 levels. You know what's better than an animal army? Animal army + animal companion.
    Handle Animal (Cha; Trained Only) 'Guard (DC 20): The animal stays in place and prevents others from approaching.'

    good luck with that dc 10 untrained check of yours... Even if you make it just means the dog will stand there and watch you get shot to death. These shenanigans really depend on how much bs and how easy going of a dm you have.

    So it seems to me that this whole thing comes down to who will make it to level 6 alive soloing because after that it is kind of irrelevant, sure a wizard gets awesome spells but they are also statistically most likely to die from levels 1-5. Also there isn't enough of a difference in survivability for a wizard compared to a druid level 7-20. In the end It seems like the druid is the best choice, followed by the cleric, and the wizard takes up the rear.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by RoboEmperor View Post
    So a DC10 untrained handle animal check to make the domesticated trained animals guard you all day is impossible?

    And ofc druid wins first 5 levels. You know what's better than an animal army? Animal army + animal companion.
    I think the bigger issue is, is that the Wizard is going through all of their money to get a dog to keep them safe while the Druid got a better one for free.

    I put money on the Druid being the best, as while a Wizard can get truly insane, they have no room for error while the Druid is far more survivable and can do their own shapeshifting BS without eating spells.
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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    It's hard to say. It's easy to make a decent core druid, it's hard to make a great one. Wizard or perhaps sorc has the most good options, but in core only unless you cheese it hard a beatstick is ahead against monsters at many levels. Especially if this is solo level 1 to 20. For that matter soloing at all at high level is hard, because it only takes 1 failed save to end the campaign. You'd at least need an NPC to rez your corpse from time to time. Maybe some kind of miniomancer so you don't roll saves yourself?

    Rolling 1s and dying aside, maybe a gish like an EK? Level 1 can be a high HP beatstick who later sheds his armor. You're only 1 spell level behind so this can be a gish that usually uses his spells rather than his sword. Later on anyway. Or maybe straight wizard who simply tries for easy challenges at low level and avoids anything else ("Those bandits must suck, sorry, bye."). Or is this solo adventurer supposed to actually replace a party of 4 at equal encounter level? I know a wizard can do ok at low level in core, but he doesn't do great and too much encounter level will stomp him. Just like the druid can do decently at all levels, but not necessarily that great in core.

    Btw the druid riding dog trip trick requires 5-6 weeks of prep. 6-7 including the trick to let him attack all creature types. And that's if the druid has a pumped handle animal to take a 10. Otherwise he'll take much longer. Before that the riding dog is much weaker. During which time any class could make some profession checks and also get plenty of money for a variety of useful things.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2019-05-31 at 12:11 PM.
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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    Handle Animal (Cha; Trained Only) 'Guard (DC 20): The animal stays in place and prevents others from approaching.'
    The quoted DC (20) is the DC to teach the trick to an animal - and you can buy them trained for purposes. The DC is 10 to get an animal to perform a trick it knows.
    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    HANDLE ANIMAL (CHA; TRAINED ONLY)

    Check: The DC depends on what you are trying to do.
    Task Handle Animal DC
    Handle an animal 10

    Handle an Animal: This task involves commanding an animal to perform a task or trick that it knows. If the animal is wounded or has taken any nonlethal damage or ability score damage, the DC increases by 2. If your check succeeds, the animal performs the task or trick on its next action.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    A guard dog is much weaker than a riding dog btw. CR 1/3 instead of CR 1 for a reason. Less HP, less attack bonus and less damage. The druid riding dog is missing his trip attack and only understands 1 trick to start. The trick the druid selects is most likely to attack any of 4 creature types. But it's still much better than a guard dog. OTOH the guard dog most likely knows 4 tricks from the start rather than just 1:
    Quote Originally Posted by Handle Animal
    An animal trained to guard knows the tricks attack, defend, down, and guard
    "Down" means stop attacking. Otherwise once you say "attack" the dog won't stop. "Attack" likewise only works on any of 4 creature types: humanoids, monstrous humanoids, giants, animals. Undead, construct, magical beast, abberation, dragon, plant, vermin, ooze, fey, and you're screwed with either class. Being able to attack any creature type is an additional trick.

    That magical beast restriction might be the most painful restriction. That or undead. Both classes need to get their animal better trained ASAP or they risk a really ugly fight. And even for the druid the DC is not nice at level 1. He needs a 14 cha to take a 10 at level 1. Or a feat.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2019-05-31 at 12:12 PM.
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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by RoboEmperor View Post
    Good thing Guard Dogs are only 25gp and in core and Heavy Warhorses are 400gp and in core. Just buy an animal army until you get your levels.
    That is a pretty good survival strategy. Where are Guard Dogs listed? I can only find standard Dog and Riding Dog.

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    For that matter soloing at all at high level is hard, because it only takes 1 failed save to end the campaign. You'd at least need an NPC to rez your corpse from time to time.
    This is a good point, I'm not certain what class I want but I do know I want a Cleric cohort.
    Last edited by Biggus; 2019-05-31 at 12:17 PM.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
    That is a pretty good survival strategy. Where are Guard Dogs listed? I can only find standard Dog and Riding Dog.
    In the SRD I only see guard dog and riding dog. Is the PHB different?
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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    Handle Animal (Cha; Trained Only) 'Guard (DC 20): The animal stays in place and prevents others from approaching.'

    good luck with that dc 10 untrained check of yours... Even if you make it just means the dog will stand there and watch you get shot to death. These shenanigans really depend on how much bs and how easy going of a dm you have.

    So it seems to me that this whole thing comes down to who will make it to level 6 alive soloing because after that it is kind of irrelevant, sure a wizard gets awesome spells but they are also statistically most likely to die from levels 1-5. Also there isn't enough of a difference in survivability for a wizard compared to a druid level 7-20. In the end It seems like the druid is the best choice, followed by the cleric, and the wizard takes up the rear.
    Sigh, why don't you actually read the entire skill before questioning someone who actually used those rules in a real game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Handle Animal
    Untrained

    If you have no ranks in Handle Animal, you can use a Charisma check to handle and push domestic animals
    Who cares about who's stronger at level 1-5. The question is what's the most powerful 3.5 core build. Druid takes the cake for low levels. Wizard blows the druid away early mid all the way to 20 so wizard wins. You can't beat all of the broken spells wizards have access to. LPB gives Nightmare for at-will astral projection and an army of Gargantuan Animated Objects. Succubus for scout and face, and did I mention you can bind an army? And lets not forget eschew materials + simulacrum. Or Hydra polymorphs.

    Wizards get an army of pit fiends at level 15. What do druids get?

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    A guard dog is much weaker than a riding dog btw.
    You can buy a riding dog too but if you can buy one you can buy a heavy warhorse and the heavy warhorse is much better.


    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    "Down" means stop attacking. Otherwise once you say "attack" the dog won't stop. "Attack" likewise only works on any of 4 creature types: humanoids, monstrous humanoids, giants, animals. Undead, construct, magical beast, abberation, dragon, plant, vermin, ooze, fey, and you're screwed with either class. Being able to attack any creature type is an additional trick.

    That magical beast restriction might be the most painful restriction. That or undead. Both classes need to get their animal better trained ASAP or they risk a really ugly fight. And even for the druid the DC is not nice at level 1. He needs a 14 cha to take a 10 at level 1. Or a feat.
    The Guard command is not restricted by attack's type restrictions. Guard attacks anything that threatens you or the animal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Biggus View Post
    That is a pretty good survival strategy. Where are Guard Dogs listed? I can only find standard Dog and Riding Dog.
    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    In the SRD I only see guard dog and riding dog. Is the PHB different?
    It's just a normal dog that's trained to guard.
    Last edited by RoboEmperor; 2019-05-31 at 12:27 PM.

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    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    With modifier 3 I would assume that a gestalt druid/wizard would win, given the "druid vs. wizard" battle in this thread.

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    Male

    Default Re: What's the most powerful 3.5 core build?

    Quote Originally Posted by RoboEmperor View Post
    You can buy a riding dog too but if you can buy one you can buy a heavy warhorse and the heavy warhorse is much better.
    Yes, eventually both riding dog and warhorse are options to consider. But a riding dog isn't affordable at level 1.

    The Guard command is not restricted by attack's type restrictions. Guard attacks anything that threatens you or the animal.
    Yeah but guard has other restrictions:
    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    Guard (DC 20): The animal stays in place and prevents others from approaching.
    Trying to use guard as a substitute for attack sounds fishy at best. Moving behind your animal and saying guard isn't that bad of an idea against melee foes. But many foes have ranged attacks, including many primarily melee foes. Even for melee charges attacking sooner is better than attacking after waiting for the enemy to approach first. Especially at low level when that first attack might drop the companion or force him to flee. Teaching him to attack all creature types is ideal, and having the ability to attack the 4 common creature types before they approach is much nicer than waiting. I can see why a druid might make his first trick guard instead of attack, but it's still far from ideal. And guard isn't necessarily the better choice out of the two.

    Also arguably an animal companion or even a friendly dog might protect its owner even without any tricks, though only after he was attacked or otherwise realized his owner was threatened. He most likely will protect himself regardless.

    Quote Originally Posted by Particle_Man View Post
    With modifier 3 I would assume that a gestalt druid/wizard would win, given the "druid vs. wizard" battle in this thread.
    Sounds great at high level, but that's the easy part. Besides the need for rez help from even a single failed save at high level. If this is meant to survive low level like 1-4 or perhaps even 1-7ish, maybe gestalt wizard with something more stabby like barbarian & fighter. I mean druid is already a little bit of a gish in a can, so gestalting with a full caster is partially redundant. Sure it gets you more dakka later on, but that may not be the issue. And all this assumes "all SRD" includes optional rules like gestalt. It may not.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2019-05-31 at 01:03 PM.
    So you never have to interrupt a game to look up a rule again:
    My 3.5e Rules Cheat Sheets: Normal, With Consolidated Skill System
    TOGC's 3.5e Spell/etc Cards: rpgnow / drivethru rpg
    Utilities: Magic Item Shop Generator (Req. MS Excel), Balanced Low Magic Item System
    Printable Cardstock Dungeon Tiles and other terrain stuff (100 MB)

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