View Full Version : Defensive Build

2007-04-22, 01:08 PM
I tend to favor (as many of you can probably tell from my name and reading my posts) bards and defensive fighting characters.

I'm interested in a build (preferably using a bard, will multiclass to fighter for two levels of feats), which focuses on fighting defensively so that I can use my bard abilities to buff my allies.

I would like it level by level for as far as you would like to go with it.

All books are available (except Incarnum, and ToM), as are flaws, but ToB may only be used for feats (including those which gain maneuvers).

All help is appreciated.

2007-04-22, 01:13 PM
Firstly, Preform (Oratory) to keep your hands free. Secondly, TWF with two shields will be rockin', then shield focus for more AC.

2007-04-22, 01:14 PM
But shield bonuses don't stack.

2007-04-22, 01:28 PM
Surely duelist is a great defensive fighting class...but I'm guessing you knew that.

Swash 3 / Rogue 4 / Duelist X seems decent - Int to AC and damage, plus defensive fighting bonuses. Daring Outlaw will let your 2 base classes' main abilities stack (and net you, amongst other things, an extra 2D6 sneak attack). Your other early feats will be needed to qualify for Duelist.

2007-04-22, 01:32 PM
What feats would you recommend? I've come up with: dodge, combat expertise, allied defense, deadly defense, and defensive strike.

2007-04-22, 01:37 PM
Superior expertise, prehaps. Dodge on its own is useless.

2007-04-22, 01:42 PM
Dodge is useless except at first level, but then I think mobility is useless if you have a good tumble check.

How useful is Melee Evasion from PHBII?

2007-04-22, 02:00 PM
Not that useful except against touch attacks, I don't think.

I'd reccomend Combat Reflexes and then those feats that help out with Aid Another. If you don't feel like doing that, I'd reccomend picking up a couple White Raven maneuvers and a stance, then going for Song of the White Raven. Inspiring courage as a swift action is good. Combat Expertise, of course.

2007-04-22, 02:03 PM
If any book includes Shining South, then pick up Combat Expertise and Allied Defense. Get three levels of War Chanter (Complete Warrior) and pick up Improved Combat Expertise.

Now you can inspire recklessness in your power attacking ally, and fight defensively next to them, granting your AC bonus from Combat Expertise to yourself and your ally, to counter the AC loss of recklessness.

From there, you can continue with war chanter or go back to taking bard levels.

To throw a bit more into the character, pick up Improved Trip, and use a guisarme or halberd to make trip attacks while fighting defensively and singing. Since trip attacks are touch attacks, you can fight defensively with less problems.

I didn't put a lot of thought into this, so there are several holes, and could probably be executed better.
Bard 1 - (I don't have anything specific in mind here)
Bard 2
Bard 3 - Combat Expertise
Fighter 1 - Improved Trip
Fighter 2 - Weapon Focus (guisarme)
War chanter 1 - Allied Defense
WC 2
WC 3
Character level 9 - Improved Combat Expertise
Continuing war chanter or going back to bard at this point is probably a question of what fits your concept better. WC focuses more on combat, Bard gives you some more spells.

2007-04-22, 02:05 PM
You can only move at half speed if you're using tumble to dodge attacks of opportunity.

In d20 Modern it's more useful because in d20 Modern you can only avoid attacks of opportunity if you tumble in straight lines.

2007-04-22, 02:07 PM
Unless you take a -10 to tumble checks :P.

2007-04-22, 02:15 PM
Wouldn't using a guisarme make me unable to cast spells?
How would using a whip (well a whip dagger since it doesn't suck) be? We have a house rule that you do not provoke an attack of oppertunity using a whip when threatened by a foe.

2007-04-22, 02:17 PM
Then it's not too bad, but the non-threatening isn't great.

However, 15 ft reach, standard damage, and no AOO's is a pretty nice package. Seems like that might actually balance a whip.

If you can't AOO with a whip, how do you get iterative attacks?

Because there's nothing in the text that says you can't. Really.
A whip deals nonlethal damage. It deals no damage to any creature with an armor bonus of +1 or higher or a natural armor bonus of +3 or higher. The whip is treated as a melee weapon with 15-foot reach, though you don’t threaten the area into which you can make an attack. In addition, unlike most other weapons with reach, you can use it against foes anywhere within your reach (including adjacent foes).

Using a whip provokes an attack of opportunity, just as if you had used a ranged weapon.

You can make trip attacks with a whip. If you are tripped during your own trip attempt, you can drop the whip to avoid being tripped.

When using a whip, you get a +2 bonus on opposed attack rolls made to disarm an opponent (including the roll to keep from being disarmed if the attack fails).

You can use the Weapon Finesse feat to apply your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier to attack rolls with a whip sized for you, even though it isn’t a light weapon for you.

2007-04-22, 02:25 PM
You don't, unless you TWF, which isn't a bad idea with a whip.

Is there a way to use your DEX instead of STR when making a trip attempt?

2007-04-22, 02:32 PM
Well, that does make using a whip more attractive, so you could go with that if it fits your tastes better.

However, I don't see any reason you couldn't take one hand off a two handed weapon to cast a spell. You don't need two hands to hold it, just to attack with it. And since your casting a spell, you're not going to be attacking with it on your turn anyway. So I think guisarme or halberd is still viable.

Either way, you want to be within 5 feet of your warrior ally to grant him allied defense, and being farther away from the monster is probably better. If your friend uses a reach weapon himself, a whip might work better. If he doesn't, I think guisarme is still a good choice.

2007-04-22, 02:45 PM
The problem with using trip is that for a defensive character (especially a bard), I'll have to go with Dex and Cha over Str, making it less potent.

2007-04-22, 05:05 PM
The best Trip build I've made is Flaming Homer: the Bowling Ball of Doom


Overwhelming Attack Monk (http://www.systemreferencedocuments.org/35/sovelior_sage/unearthedCoreClass.html#monk) 2/Fighter 6/Psychic Warrior 2/Pyrokineticist 1/Warmind 5/Full BAB class 4

Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike, Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Combat Reflexes, Combat Expertise, Improved Trip, Knock-Down, Cleave, Knockback, Leap Attack, Shock Trooper, Hold the Line.

Other Feats for Consideration: Mage Slayer, Battle Jump, Robilar's Gambit.

Books: SRD, Complete Warrior, Races of Stone (Knockback), Unapproachable East (Battle Jump), PHBII (Robilar's Gambit), Dungeonscape (Dungeon Crasher (http://boards1.wizards.com/showthread.php?t=791388) ability).

Before combat, use the Expansion power on yourself to increase your reach.

Charge 10 feet into your enemy. Make a touch attack with your fire lash as a two-handed weapon (as it explicitly says you can in the FAQ). Transfer your full BAB to Leap Attack. Make sure that your initial enemy is close to you when you attack him if possible, as you want to keep your enemies in your threatened area each time you knock him back.

If you hit (you probably will) and deal more then 10 or more points of damage (you will) you get a free Trip attempt (from Knock-Down).

If your enemy is standing next to anyone, each attack also applies to them (Warmind Sweeping Strike). You will also get a free Trip attempt against him and a follow up attack (Improved Trip), which will also apply to someone standing next to him, until pretty much everyone in your threatened area has been hit multiple times and is prone.

Regardless of whether or not the Trip attempts succeed, you get a free Bull Rush attempt (Knockback, which requires that you be a Goliath) on each attack, applying your damage and Power Attack bonus to the opposed Str check.

This should allow you to push your enemy several spaces backwards. For each space you move your enemy backwards, you may also shift him one hex to the left or the right (Shock Trooper). If this pushes your enemy into the same hex as another enemy, you get a free Trip Attempt on each of them (Shock Trooper again - though if one of the enemies is already Prone from a successful Trip, you can't Trip him again).

Again, each successful Trip gets a free follow up attack, and each successful melee attack gets a free Bull Rush, which can start another Trip. And every melee attack can also apply to someone standing next to your enemy using Sweeping Strike.

Plus, if you kill someone (you will) you get a Cleave attack, which will also apply to whoever is standing next to them, and start the Attack+Trip+Attack+Bull Rush+Trip+Attack... combo, again.

And, at any time you can Bull Rush an enemy into a wall or other inanimate object, and use the Dungeon Crasher ability to deal an extra 8d6 + (3 x Str mod) damage. This is really easy to pull off, since with Shock Trooper and your uber Bull Rush multiplier, you should be able to fling enemies pretty far.

If you're feeling really saucy, use Psionic Lion's Charge for a full attack.

If someone charges you (they pretty much have to in order reach you) you get a free AoO from Hold the Line, resolved immediately before the charge attack, in addition to the normal AoO you'd get for them moving through your threatened area.

But I assume you want something more vanilla. In that case, I suggest:

Marshal (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ex/20030906b) 4/Psychic Warrior 2/Pyrokineticist (http://www.systemreferencedocuments.org/35/sovelior_sage/psionicPyrokineticist.html) X

Marshal is basically a military Bard. With the Art of War aura, you get your Cha bonus to Trip attempts. With the right feats, it'll be impossible for anyone to get close to you. With free Skill Focus (Diplomacy), high Cha, and all the social Skills, you'll also be an excellent party face.

2007-04-22, 05:23 PM
I understand the marshal, but what is the point of Physhic Warrior and Pyrokineticist?

Wouldn't Marshal 2/Bard 4/War Chanter X be more useful for buffing?

2007-04-22, 07:57 PM
I understand the marshal, but what is the point of Physhic Warrior and Pyrokineticist?

Wouldn't Marshal 2/Bard 4/War Chanter X be more useful for buffing?

You need at least 1 reserve power point to get into Pyro. Psychic Warrior 2 is a good choice, because it gives you two bonus feats (useful for Combat Expertise, Improved Trip, Knock-Down, Hold the Line, etc).

Pyrokineticist is one of the best 1 level dips in the game. It gives you a Fire Lash, which allows all of your attacks to be touch attacks. So you will virtually always hit on your attacks. And with the right feat combo's, you'll deal massive damage and/or be untouchable in melee, since no one will be able to get close to you.

Bard/Marshal/Dragon Shaman/War chanter would be a good choice for a party buff. But once you get past mid levels, most of your buffs will be inconsequential compared to magical buff.

On the other side, a Bard/War Weaver (Heroes of Battle) would have some pretty insane buff abilities. But they wouldn't kick in until mid to high levels.

What exactly is the ECL of your build?

And more importantly, what is your biggest priority?

Defense (high AC, Saves, Evasion, Mettle, SR)
Damage output (Leap Attack+Shock Trooper)
Trip Machine (Fire Lash+Knock-Down+Combat Reflexes)
Party Face (Diplomacy, Bluff, Sense Motive)
Scout (Invisibility, Move Silently, Search, Spot)
Continuous Buff (Marshal Aura, Dragon Shaman Vigor, Bard Song)
Magical Buff (Any full caster, surpasses continuous buffs around ECL 7)
Toolbox (various Skills or spells)

A Bard can be mediocre at all of them. But its poorly suited to be really good at any of them compared to other non-Bard builds. Still, knowing exactly what you want to do will help people give you advice.

2007-04-22, 09:04 PM
There is a weapon enhancement in the item compedium that allows bard songs to last a couple of rounds after you stop using them. This'll let you get two or three songs simultaneously. It's not really necessary for short battles since bard song bonuses last for five rounds after you finish. Seeker of the song has a couple good buffs, but it isn't completely combat oriented. Armored mage from complete arcane mixed with mithral full-plate is something to consider. I'm not sure whether I'd recommend it, but it's something to consider.