View Full Version : Duelist

2008-03-24, 10:37 AM
Is the duelist any good? Can it be effective at all? It seems like it'd be a neat class... but something in the back of my head is screaming "DONT DO IT!"

Tempest Fennac
2008-03-24, 10:50 AM
I think the fact that they can only really use a relatively small number of weapons thanks to Weapon Finess and needing these weapons to apply Int to damage rolls is the problem. They are an interesting class, but they can be a liability against enermies who are immune to Intelligent Strike, so they are a bad choice if there is;t another melee fighter in the group.

2008-03-24, 11:06 AM
Tempest, you may be thinking of swashbuckler judging by your particulars (duelists don't get intelligence to damage). This is the in-the-DMG prc that's being discussed.

My problems with it are as follows:

-The prerequisites suck, badly. The feats are just poor, the BAB means that a character with a few rogue levels can't even enter it at a reasonable point, it's just a lot of stuff for a class that isn't very good.

-Intelligence to AC isn't bad... but you can't apply all of it from day one, you have to get class levels equal to your modifier to gain the full benefit. This is considerably worse than a monk. And you still can't wear armor or use a shield, so you're well behind the curve.

-Enhanced mobility is freaking useless, because you have tumble. Which is better- to get +8 AC versus an attack, or just not have one aimed at you? I thought so.

-Precise strike is like sneak attack, except you only get 2 dice, you can't attack with an offhand weapon (or a two-handed weapon, or slashing weapon), and the fact that you don't have to be flanking or deprive someone of their dexterity bonus isn't a big deal at that point in your character's life (you have to be minimum of level 11 before you even get the first die).

-Elaborate parry: fighting defensively is not a smart tactic in D&D. If there is anyone else the monster can go for, it'll spar with you for maybe a round or two besides realizing that it's not being hurt by you and it has a hard time hurting you, so maybe it should take a bite out of the wizard instead...

2008-03-24, 11:07 AM
Thanks for the input guys :)

Tempest Fennac
2008-03-24, 11:11 AM
(You're right, Zincorium. I'm sorry for getting confused. The dependancy on light piercing weapons is aproblem with Duelists, though).

2008-03-24, 11:47 AM
DM: "All right, the monster hits."
PC: "Okay, next round I sac 1 for Combat Expertise to fight defensively."
DM: "So you're at +1 to AC?"
PC: "Nope, +8 to my 30."
DM: "..."

Seriously, Elaborate Parry alone makes the PrC worthwhile, though you have to stick with the class for awhile to get it. A combination of Swashbuckler 3, Fighter 4 (plus the feat which makes those class levels stack with each other for determining certain class features), and then Duelist can be deadly. Heck, why not throw in ToB. Sure, you're not wearing armor, but that's easily replaced with Bracers plus a few extra items, since you already get your Intelligence + Combat Expertise + Elaborate Parry to your You're wielding a light weapon, but at that level, it's likely a decked-out rapier (either you have it Keen or have taken Improved Critical by now) you'll be critting about every other roll. This isn't to say it's a broken class or belongs in every party. If you're routinely fighting constructs or undead, then you'll be pretty much useless. But if you're looking for a swashbuckler-type class and want to pretty much never get hit, then Duelist is a good and fun choice.

2008-03-24, 11:52 AM
Mind Flayer Duelists (only really feasible in Gestalt) are amusing. That +8 to Int makes them quite effective...

Foir the non-tentacular, it looks OK to me- I imagine Warblade/Duelist can work quite well with Int synergies...

2008-03-24, 11:58 AM

Apparently you don't have a DM who uses monsters with intelligent tactics. If you're the hardest character to hit, you need to be the one doing the most damage, and duelists are not built to do that. They're good in duels, precisely because in a duel your opponent has to attack you.

Needless to say, the average encounter is not a duel.

A few more things-
-Critting every attack, even if you do, still isn't giving you much damage, as you've got very few things added to it and don't have a high multiplier.
-The feat that enables swashbuckler and fighter levels? It stinks. It only allows you to add swashbuckler levels to fighter levels for some very basic swashbuckler features and for qualifying for fighter only feats, you still have to spend the feat to get them.
-'why not throw in ToB' indeed. Why not throw out the duelist and play a warblade or swordsage if that's one of your options? There's no real comparison in terms of cool things to do during your turn, nevermind the power differential.

Lastly, Dervish. Everything you wanted from duelist, in a more versatile and cooler package.

2008-03-24, 12:00 PM
I played one for a long campaign, loved every minute of it even though it was mechanically weaker than the big bad greatsword fighter in the group. I recommend going rogue for your base class, not fighter - having some sneak attack dice makes up for the weaker damage output a bit.

And they make awesome bad guys. :smallamused:

2008-03-24, 01:22 PM
fighting defensively is not a smart tactic in D&D.

This just amuses me to no end.

An over arcing assumption that a tactic that will allow you to hold your own with increased armor class can never be a smart tactic is very short sighted. It may not be a good tactic all the time, but there are times when fighting defensively can be a good idea. Especially if you have the feat that allows you to make AoO's against someone who attacks you and misses while you're defensive fighting (with no penalty to the attack roll). Swift Riposte I believe it's called, combined with Goad, and you can be extremely hard to hit and then be smashing your enemies left and right. Combine with Robilars Gambit and Combat Reflexes for extra AoO's, and the Defensive Throw [edit, wrong feat] if you feel like making trip attacks whenever someone attacks you and misses you, you have a decent battelfield control build based on fighting defensively.

2008-03-24, 01:38 PM
Tempus, without goad (which allows a save), none of your build would make a single difference against the flaw I specified, which is that a creature still has to choose to attack you for it to work. If it ignores you, there's no drawback, and in fact anything with the intelligence to be affected by goad (which only affects melee attacks) would realize that it's getting torn up more by standing there and trading swings with you than backing off and trying to find something else to do. Nevermind it's completely useless against something that doesn't attack in melee. Like Beholders.

I never said that fighting defensively was always a bad tactic, only that it has dramatic shortcomings in actual play as opposed to theoretical challenges. Fighters already have enough of a challenge not getting put at the bottom of a monster's priority list without dancing around and not doing much damage to get the monster's attention in the first place.

And frankly, you can't even get elaborate parry until you're 13th level, I'd much rather take a class that gives me cool stuff other than a bonus to AC when fighting defensively and an AC bonus that doesn't really make up for the inability to wear armor.

2008-03-24, 01:43 PM
Elaborate Parry (Ex): At 7th level and higher, if a duelist chooses to fight defensively or use total defense in melee combat, she gains an additional +1 dodge bonus to AC for each level of duelist she has.
According to the RAW Combat Expertise doesn't count as fighting defensively or total defense. Fighting defensively will give you a -4 to your attack rolls and a +2 (+3 if 5 ranks in Tumble) to your AC. So best case scenario, you're taking a -4 to your attack rolls to gain a +11 (at 7th Duelist level) to your AC.

2008-03-24, 01:45 PM
You can't wear armor as a duelist. Any armor.

Swashbuckler at least allows you light armor. Get a mithril breastplate and enchant it out the wazoo. Multiclass as a swashbuckler/rogue and take Daring Outlaw so you can sneak attack FOR MASSIVE DAMAGE. Pick up improved feint and/or the acrobatic backstab skill trick. Granted, your touch AC is worse, but you're a lot better when flat-footed. Swashbuckler is what duelist should've been.

2008-03-24, 01:52 PM
I'm not defending the duelist here, I'm just saying that the way you made defensive fighting sound was that it was never a sound tactic, and my point is that it's not meant to be a sound tactic all the time, but some of the time, and hell, against the right opponent, you can even make a fairly effective build using it.

I apologize for misunderstanding what you were saying, but being as how I used defensive fighting to great effect in our game last night, your supposed assumption amused me greatly.

2008-03-24, 04:15 PM
The Duelist is great when paired with Swashbuckler. Dex to AC and attacks, Int to AC and damage. You can pump your AC over 60 by level 20, without any real cheese. With Robilar's Gambit, you also deal damage. Add Scout levels for early Uncanny Dodge. Opponents won't want to attack you, but you still deal 30-40 damage per hit, and can't really be ignored.

And you do not use Combat Expertise, you just Fight Defensively (with Two-Weapon Defense and a defending off-hand weapon that you don't attack with unless you're not bothered about being hit that round).

Armor is unnecessary; you get bracers of armor for +8 and unlimited Dex bonus, and +10 (from Int) instead of the +5 enhancement bonus for armor.

Seriously, you will have the highest AC. Your saves, not so good.

2008-03-24, 05:12 PM
Tsoth, you might want to actually post some math about that '30-40 damage per hit' business. I agree about the AC, it's more than possible with some very good ability scores and a complete disregard for offense, but it's nowhere near the best possible, if you want I'll build you a character that blows it out of the water.

You also lose almost all of that if your opponent casts a single fourth level spell on themselves.

The damage is unrealistically high unless you're assuming some extreme cheese (like craven). Remember that as long as you are holding something in your off hand, you don't get a single die of damage from precise strike.

Frankly, the Duelist class is the weakest part of your build.