View Full Version : Early level mischief [3.5]

2009-02-09, 02:19 PM
Hey folks. It looks like I might be in a position to join another 3.5 game pretty soon, one that would be starting at level 1. I don't know anything about the party or the campaign, but I'm thinking I might want to play a character who's good at screwing up opponents in new and entertaining ways. Most WotC books are allowed, but I don't know if Faerun and Eberron stuff are, so I'm shying away from them. I'd also like to do something other than just your normal battlefield control wizard... Sleep and Color Spray are damned effective, to be sure, but they're not very interesting. I want something a little more unique and a little bit less spotlight-hogging. Something like a bard in reverse (I do also love bards, and the lost art of party-buffing, but I want to try something different.)

So, I need something that can really screw up an opponent (or better, multiple opponents) at a very early level, ideally from level 1 on. Remember of course that level 1 means no fancy items. Would it be possible to make something like a Hexblade be viable at low levels? I love the concept and flavor of hexblades, but they also seem to kind of suck. (I've run them as villains before, which works well because they can afford to blow their curses and spells on one climactic battle, but I can't even imagine it as a PC.) A shadowcaster also looks fun, but suffers from a lot of the same problems as the Hexblade does (fun abilities, ridiculously limited in their application). (As you can tell from me even mentioning the hexblade and the shadowcaster, I'm totally okay with weaker classes, as long as there's something that makes them not suck.) Would a Shadowcaster be playable at really low levels or would that just be unnecessarily torturing myself? Are there ways to make them respectable (maybe not on par with a wizard or druid, but respectable) at level 1? What about a Lurk? Some of their augments and powers seem like they could be useful, but it seems like they end up kind of action-starved and low on power points if you're not really careful. How can I screw things up at the earliest levels without resorting to a tired old Wizard?

2009-02-09, 02:44 PM
I played a Lurk from level 1 to 3, and it was okay. I wasn't stunningly effective, and sometimes ran a little low on PP, but it wasn't terrible, either.

Another fun option might be a Beguiler. All the Illusion and Mind-Effecting basically makes you a subtle bard, plus you can easily fill the place of a rogue if your party is missing one.

2009-02-09, 02:59 PM
I second the Beguiler idea. Those guys are always fun.

If you have access to it, the Dragon Compendium has a class called "Jester" which is basically exactly the "Bard in reverse" concept. Instead of various "Bardic music" abilities that buff his teammates, a Jester has "Jester's Performance" tricks that screw up his opponents in various ways. He gets spells like a Bard as well. And he gets the unique ability at level ten to use mind affecting spells and abilities on undead.

All in all a pretty fun seeming class. If I were you though, I'd ask the DM if he could houserule that Jesters can take Bardic Music feats to expand their Jester's Performance repertoire. It would make him more versatile, and doesn't strike me as unbalancing in any way, as the two abilities are directly equivalent to each other.

Fax Celestis
2009-02-09, 03:11 PM
If you don't mind stripping a feat out of NWN, being a bard with the Curse Song feat might be right up your alley.

Curse Song
Type of Feat: General
Prerequisite: Bard 1, Perform 3
Specifics: Bards are able to sing a song that can curse their enemies. Deafened creatures are not affected by the bard's singing. The song affects all enemies within 30 feet and lasts for 10 rounds. The higher the bard's final Perform skill and class level, the more powerful the Curse song. All of the penalties listed are additive.
3 Perform and Bard Level 1: -1 to Attack and Damage rolls.
6 Perform and Bard Level 2: -1 to Will Saves.
9 Perform and Bard Level 3: -1 to Damage rolls and -1 to Fortitude Saves.
12 Perform and Bard Level 6: -1 to Reflex saves, -1 to Skill rolls.
15 Perform and Bard Level 8: -1 to Attack rolls, 8 damage.
18 Perform and Bard Level 12: -2 to Dodge Armor Class, -1 to Skill rolls.
21 Perform and Bard Level 14: -1 to Damage rolls, 8 damage and -1 Dodge Armor Class.
24 Perform and Bard Level 15: -1 Will Saves, -1 Reflex Saves, -1 Fortitude Saves, -1 Dodge Armor Class and -1 to Skill rolls.
30 Perform and Bard Level 16: -1 Will Saves, 4 damage. -1 Dodge Armor Class and -1 to Skill rolls.
For each additional 5 Perform and 1 Class level in Bard an additional 2 damage and -1 to skill rolls is granted.
Use: [Standard action, expending one of your daily uses of bardic music.]

2009-02-09, 03:19 PM
Beguiler. They are godlike. The other option is a Dread Necro, who gets a lot of fun at all levels, but really is good at low ones.

2009-02-09, 03:28 PM
Well at level one you can be a spiked chain (EWP:chain + combat reflexes) fighter. If you're human, you can grab an additional feat on either the cleave or WW attack lines. It's classic, and it's core. Something to think about if you want to go on the martial side of battlefield control.

Then there's druid or barb. They're just ridiculous out of the box.

2009-02-09, 03:29 PM
Hmmm. See, while Beguilers are cool and I'm not one to say they're not effective, especially at early levels they're an awful lot like the straight-up control wizard I want to avoid. There's no difference between a Wizard going "Color Spray, I win" and a Beguiler doing the exact same thing, except that at early levels the Beguiler can do it more often unless the Wizard specializes. It's effective, it can be fun, but it's not what I'm after.

Fax, I like that Bard feat you posted (I doubt I'll get to use it, since I don't know the GM very well yet, but it never hurts to ask), but what does it mean when it says "X damage?" The enemy takes that much damage per round, or upon hearing it initially, or what?

Fax Celestis
2009-02-09, 03:39 PM
Fax, I like that Bard feat you posted (I doubt I'll get to use it, since I don't know the GM very well yet, but it never hurts to ask), but what does it mean when it says "X damage?" The enemy takes that much damage per round, or upon hearing it initially, or what?

Upon initially hearing it. It's a neat debuff effect, and it's not too powerful. You can even augment it with Dirgesinger from Libris Mortis if you feel the desire.

2009-02-09, 05:29 PM
Well, if you're worried about the Hexblade and/or Shadowcaster sucking, the authors of each class have posted unofficial "fixes" online that make them quite a bit better.

Ari Marmell (aka Mouseferatu) posted his Shadowcaster fix HERE (http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/184955-shadowcaster-fixes-mouseferatu.html), and Mike Mearls's suggestions for a fixed Hexblade is HERE (http://forums.gleemax.com/showpost.php?p=10585113&postcount=11). Along with that, take a look at the PHB2 Dark Companion variant for the Hexblade - supposedly it goes a long way towards making the class good.

For either of them, you could consider changing their iconic abilities (Shadowcaster mysteries and Hexblade curses) to being per-encounter abilities rather than per-day abilities, which means they don't burn out too fast (especially at lower levels).

2009-02-09, 07:52 PM
I would definitely plan to take the Dark Companion, but that's not until level 4. Even if this campaign progresses with very generous exp, I can't possibly see that being fewer than four sessions away, so while it's a huge help, it's not what I'm after on its own. The more I look at the hexblade the more I like it for the archetype I have in mind, though I also see plenty not to like. (As in, iconic ability once per day until 5th level! How do the barbarians deal with it?)

I'm wondering if something that uses Intimidate wouldn't be good. I've played a fear-based character before (a Dread Witch, to be exact) and it was fun... Intimidate would fit in the vein of debuffs I have in mind, and it would make cursing easier, wouldn't it? Maybe Daunting Presence or something. Thoughts? Remember, first level.

Olo Demonsbane
2009-02-09, 08:21 PM
Combat Panache is fun: for intimidate you get an additional ability.

Skill Tricks from complete warrior: Never Outnumbered lets you intimidate multiple enemies at once.

Plus, spelltheif is fun for mischief at low-level

2009-02-09, 09:10 PM
Consider a hexblade build - they're a little underpowered as-is, mostly due to low save DCs for their curse, but with some tweaking they become more viable.

2009-02-10, 02:24 AM
Play a tripper. If you can get a reach weapon (prefurably spiked chain) remember; every time you trip an opponant, not only are they prone, taking an AoO if they try to stand up, but you get a free attack on them as they fall.

And if you're a bard, take that feat you've been shown to use in addition to tripping opponants.