View Full Version : How should I overhaul the Dragon Shaman?

2008-08-12, 11:56 PM
So, even after giving the Dragon Shaman full BAB and a few bonus feats for free, it is still behind par at level 13 compared to the rest of the group. I have actually written up a prestige class for the DS so it can hopefully catch up a bit in terms of power and versatility (I'll repost it here later) but what can I do to the DS itself to make it more viable?

I guess first we'd have to examine the DS's intended role. It has some Paladin abilities but not the BAB or smiting, so not a Striker. It's got some ranged area support in the form of breath attack, but it's not at will like a warlock's. It also can't slow enemies down or force them to come attack the DS, so it'snot a Controller. It can take some hits, but there's nothing really preventing the enemies from ignoring the DS, so it's not an effective Defender. It's got auras which is cool...so the only thing left is Leader?

I would look at the Marshal at this point, but most people consider the Marshall a failure as a 20 level class...so how do we make an effect Leader that can also do some head crinching of his own if he needs to? I feel like the DS spreads itself too thin trying to do many things at once, suffering from Bard syndrom. My own PrC, the Dragon Aspect Disciple, makes that viable, but the PrC is arguably overpowered just to compensate for the weaksauce that is the DS. What can we do to make the DS a viable class from 1 to 20?

2008-08-13, 01:27 AM
well, i see no harm in giving him breath weapons at will, just like the dragonfire adept.
you could also let him project auras from the Marshal's list as well.

It's a pity that draconic adaptations are kinda weak. You may try to improve that.

On the other hand, the class seems enough fun fluffwise. Why not play it as it is?

2008-08-13, 02:13 AM
Fluff-wise it's terrific. The DS is the most memorable character in the party. However, he is beginning to be a liability, and his character knows he is lagging behind, and is wondering why his dragon-given powers are failing him.

Btw, what do you think of the PRC I've written for the DS? I took ideas from 4e and Tome of Battle and borrowed heavily from the Chameleon to make a class that isn't stuck in any one role.

Dragon Aspect Disciple
*Neutral in at least one alignment axis
*Hide or Move Silently or Bluff or Survival 10 ranks, Knowledge (nature) 14 ranks, Spellcraft 3 ranks.
*two breath related feats, two feats on the list of Fighter bonus feats, skill focus (any)
*All stats 12 or above
*Must own at least 200k gold worth of valuable art, gems, platinum, gold or other valuables. This is basically liquid assets and not equipment that the Disciple uses in adventuring.
*Special: To continue advancing as a Dragon Aspect Disciple, the character must accumulate a bigger and bigger treasure hoard. The exact amount is specified by the DM.

Hit Dice: D10

Skills: 4 + int modifier per level. Class list includes Dragon Shaman base skills plus every skill associated with a dragon totem plus Knowledge (Arcana) and Appraise

Save progression: All bad
BAB Progression: As Fighter
7 level prestige class

1: Aspect focus 2/day (+2), Skill Focus Aptitude 1/day
2: Draconic blessing +2
3: Bonus Feat, Aspect focus 2/day (+3)
4: Draconic blessing +4, Aspect focus 3/day (+3), Fast focus
5: Double Aspect , Aspect Focus 3/day (+4), Skill Focus Aptitude 2/day
6: Draconic blessing +6, Dragon Wings
7: Aspect focus 4/day (+4), Swift focus

Bonus Feat: At 3rd level, you gain a bonus feat. You must meet the prerequisites for this feat. At the start of each day, you can choose to change your bonus feat to any other feat for which you meet the prerequisites by meditating for 5 minutes.

Aspect focus (ex): Twice per day, you can select one of three areas upon which to focus your balanced talents. After meditating for 30 minutes (usually right after waking up), you gain the chosen abilities for 24 hours or until you change your Aspect focus. An Aspect focus ability is usable twice per day at 1st level, three times per day at 4th level, and four times per day at 7th level.

At 1st level, you may only focus on one Aspect at a time. You may expend the 2nd use of your Aspect focus and meditate for 30 minutes to change your focus for the next 24 hours.

Fast Focus: At 4th level, gaining a focus only requires 5 minutes of meditation instead of 30 minutes.

Double Aspect: At 5th level, you can adopt two Aspect focuses in the same amount of time it previously took for you to adopt one. You can't adopt the same focus twice simultaneously. You can still only adopt as many focuses per day as indicated by your focus ability. In other words, adopting two focuses at once counts as two uses of the ability.

Swift Focus: At 7th level, gaining a focus only requires a full round action that does not provoke an Attack of Opportunity provided you make a DC 15 Concentration check. There is no penalty for failing the Concentration check other than not being protected from AoOs.

Whenever you focus on an aspect, you also gain 3 special abilities. You may only activate one of these abilities per round. When you gain the ability to focus on two aspects as once at 5th level, you may activate two of these abilities per round, but the two abilities canít be from the same focus. For example, if you have both Combat Focus and Battlefield Focus at the same time, you may activate Heavy-handed and Tactical Bash in the same round, but you canít activate Heavy-handed and Charging Fury in the same round.

You may choose from the following list of Focuses:

Combat Focus: You gain proficiency with all martial weapons. You also gain a +2 competence bonus to weapon damage rolls and a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves. At 3rd level, the bonuses improve to +3. At 5th level, the bonuses improve to +4. The 3 special abilities are:

Heavy-handed: Activating this power is a Free action that lasts until the beginning of your next turn. When you Power Attack, you gain an extra damage for each point of attack penalty you take. This extra damage has a cap equal to your levels in Dragon Aspect Disciple.

Charging Fury: Your charging Bull-rush is harder to resist than normal and can hurt opponents. Make a normal charging bullrush attempt (using a full-round action as normal) with a bonus to your strength check equal to your levels in Dragon Aspect Disciple (in addition to the +2 you get for charging). For each square you push your opponent back by, you deal 1d6 damage that is not affected by Damage Resistance. If you slam your opponent into a wall or other solid object, you deal an additional 5d6 + 3x your Str bonus in damage that is not affected by DR. At 5th level, this additional damage increases to 8d6 + 3x your Str bonus.

Ancient Toughness: Activating this power is a Swift action that lasts until the beginning of your next turn. If you manage to deal damage to an opponent this turn, you gain DR 10/Adamantine until the beginning of your next turn. At 5th level, the DR increases to 20/Adamantine. Your skin visibly hardens. You must wait at least 1d4 turns before using this ability again.

Battlefield Focus: You gain proficiency with all martial weapons. You also gain a +2 competence bonus to attack rolls made in an Attack of Opportunity and a +2 bonus on Will saves and you also gain the Improved Trip feat. At 3rd level, the bonuses improve to +3. At 5th level, the bonuses improve to +4. The 3 special abilities are:

Intimidating Aura: Activating this power is a Free action that lasts until the beginning of your next turn. All enemies that are not immune to mind-affecting or fear effects and are within 10 ft of you have trouble concentrating due to how menacing you are. Whenever an enemy that is affected tries to make a Concentration check (such as to cast defensively or to use a Maneuver), you make an Intimidate check as a free action that can be made during someone elseís turn. He is treated as if possessing X ranks in the skill less than normal, where X is your Intimidate check divided by 2, rounded down, minimum 10.

Tactical Bash: You make a single melee attack against a creature as a Standard Action. If this attack hits, calculate damage normally, then double that amount. That is the damage this attack deals. In addition to the damage this attack deals, you may push the target back 10 feet. For every 3 points of Power Attack you use, you may push the target back another square. You do not move with the target. The target does not provoke attacks of opportunities for being pushed back.

Relentless Pursuit: Activating this ability is an IMMEDIATE action. When an opponent adjacent to you moves (normal movement. Not teleportation of ethereal travel), you can activate this ability to immediately move to any square adjacent to the target as soon as the target stops moving, as long as the distance you cover is less than or equal to your speed, and assuming you are capable of moving to that square (if you canít fly and the target can fly, then you canít use it to follow the target into the air). This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity. You must wait at least 1d4 turns before using this ability again starting at the beginning of your next turn.

Breath Focus: You gain an extra breath attack as detailed below. The time between uses of all of your breath weapons lowers by one (down to a minimum of one round). If you already have a breath weapon, the range of it is increased to a 30 ft. cone or 60 ft. line, if it naturally has a shorter range. You also gain a +2 competence bonus to the DC of any Breath weapon you use and a +2 bonus on Reflex saves. At 3rd level, the bonuses improve to +3. At 5th level, the bonuses improve to +4, and the range of all of your breath weapons increase to a 60 ft cone or 120 ft. line. Any existing breath weapon you have that deals damage becomes more damaging. At 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th level, add an extra d6 damage to your existing breath weapons that deal damage. The 3 special abilities are:

Recover Breath: As a Move action, you reduce the cool-down of all of your current breath weapons by 1 round. For example, if you have 3 turns left on Breath Attack #1 and 5 turns left on Breath Attack #2, the time left is now 2 turns and 4 turns respectively.

Counter Breath: To use this ability, you ready a Standard Action to use one of your breath attacks. You may choose which one of your breath weapons to use. You must have a breath weapon ready and not in cool-down. If an enemy uses a breath weapon and the enemy is within range of your breath weapon AND no allies will end up in your area of effect from your breath weapon, you may then use your breath weapon at the same time as the enemy. The energies from your own breath attempt to cancel out the energies from the weapon of your opponent. Make an opposed check. Roll 1d20 + the DC of the breath weapon. If you tie or beat the result of the enemy, the enemyís breath attack is canceled, but is still considered used. If your result is less than that of the opponentís weapon, then the DC of the opponentís breath weapon is reduced by 10. If an enemy is in the way when you attempt to use your breath weapon to counter, the enemy takes damage as normal (and gets a save as normal, if applicable), but your opposed check is made at a Ė2 penalty.

Extra Breath: As a Standard Action (Su), you can breathe out a cone of fire or a cone of weakening gas. Base damage is 6d6, as modified by the bonuses specified above (extra d6 at 1, 3 5, and 7th level), and the base save DC is 10 + Ĺ your levels in something other than Dragon Aspect Disciple + your Con modifier + the bonuses conferred by gaining your Breath Focus. The weakening gas gives a strength penalty (Fort negates) equal to 1d10 + Ĺ your Dragon Aspect Disciple levels for 1 minute. You may use this ability once every 1d4 rounds. Keep track of cool-downs of this and your other breath weapons separately.

Draconic blessing (ex): At 2nd level, when choosing an Aspect focus, you also gain a +2 competence bonus to an ability score of your choice. This bonus lasts until you change your Aspect focus. At 4th level this bonus improves to +4, and at 7th level to +6.

Skill Focus Aptitude (ex): At 1st level, once per day you may meditate for one minute to change what skill one of your Skill Focus applies to. At 5th level, you may do this twice per day

2008-08-13, 03:12 AM
Maybe the problem isn't the class, but how the character is played? With Str and Dex at least 14, Combat Reflexes and a reach weapon make this a superb second-rank combatant.

Take Entangling Exhalation (RotD) and Recover Breath (Dcn) and you've got a character who can keep an entire encounter debuffed spamming that every 1d4-1 rounds, especially since even if they make the save for half damage they're still entangled. They won't be able to run or charge, and iirc won't even be able to take a 5-foot step due to their movement being hindered. With the right positioning, a character with Combat Reflexes and a reach weapon would be able to make quite a few AoOs on entangled opponents. Plus the penalties it imposes will severely hinder their ability to attack and avoid attacks, plus they'd have to make a Concentration check to even cast a spell or use a spell-like ability, which is spectacular considering most creatures with spell-like abilities don't even have any ranks in Concentration in the first place. Make a Dragonborn of Bahamut (RotD) Dragon Shaman and you can use an entangling breath attack every single round.

Take Intimidate and the feat Frightful Presence (Dcn) and he'll have a debuffing aura to go along with his ally-boosting auras. Stack on Dreadful Wrath (PGtF) and he's got two Frightful Presence abilities, possibly causing opponents to become Frightened and flee with no effort on his part. Note that if they fail the first save, the -2 penalty for being shaken would apply to their next save. Add that to the penalties for being Entangled, and you've got some seriously debuffed opponents. Frightened creatures have to flee, but they probably won't get very far if they're Entangled and it would also probably open up plenty more AoOs.

There are also a few feats and maybe even magic items out there that boost a Paladin's Lay on Hands ability, so maybe use those as a guideline in making similar options for a Dragon Shaman.

Maybe even get Use Magic Device to enable countless more tricks.

Dragon Shaman is definitely good enough in combat as-is, just as long as the player makes the best use of his actions. Use Entangling Exhalation as often as possible; position himself to make plenty of AoOs on his slowed opponents; make everyone Shaken or Frightened with no additional effort; remove negative conditions on allies between breath attacks. This character is pure support, making his allies a little better an his opponents a lot worse, giving his party a huge edge over any encounter. I was actually considering playing exactly this character in a 9th level game I've just joined, but the group of five was in serious need of actual spellcasting and typically has long-range encounters, so this will wait for another time.

2008-08-13, 06:52 AM
Instead of Full BAB and extra feats you could give him the psionic power of the Variant Psychic Rogue which works out to 15 first to fifth level powers with 100 PP at L20.

Granting the Dragon Shaman some Binder class specials at DS 2 or 3 to B1 so a Dragon Shaman 10 would have Soul Binding as a Binder 5 or 3.

You could grant the class limited Crusader or Warblade style martial adept maneuvers.

You could grant the class Draconic and Half Dragon Apothesis at L20 like the Dread Necromancer Lich Apothesis.

2008-08-13, 08:30 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the DS only projects one aura at a time, right? If so, allowing the DS to project two auras at 8th and three at 16th might help give the class an additional boost.

As far as a party role, I've always viewed them as an inspirational support. The auras suggest that the DS's draconic majesty empowers himself and his teammates, while his healing arts help him keep his party in the game. Ergo, perhaps some additional "inspiration" powers would help. I would personally like an additional aura that mimics the presence of an attacking dragon (pardon, but I don't remember the official name for that dragon ability). Rather making it a draconic aura, let it be a static aura (which can be supressed if need be) that can intimidate enemies (10+ 1/2 class level + CHA). I can't recall the exact stages of fright right now, but a weak scare status on a successful save and a strong scare status on a failed save would work, I think.

Beyond that, giving them the ability to UMD like a warlock or artificer plays well into their fluff, and gives him another (though perhaps minor) role to fill.

2008-08-13, 08:38 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the DS only projects one aura at a time, right? If so, allowing the DS to project two auras at 8th and three at 16th might help give the class an additional boost.

You are correct but there is a feat that allows projecting two aura's simultaneously (Double Draconic Aura) unfortunately the OP isn't looking for ways to make the DS a more effective buffer, he wants to make the DS combat effective.

The Demented One
2008-08-13, 08:46 AM
Maybe a martial adaptation of the Dragon Shaman, in the same spirit as Fax Celestis's martial paladin or martial fighter, would be fitting. It seems like Desert Wind/Iron Heart/White Raven would fit them pretty well in both mechanics and flavor.

2008-08-13, 10:04 AM
Not a bad idea. My particular player may not want to use ToB maneuvers for his particular character, but for others, some Strikes and Boosts could be very good. What progression and recovery method would you use?

The Demented One
2008-08-13, 10:22 AM
I'd give them progression and recovery as a Warblade, access to Desert Wind, Devoted Spirit, Iron Heart, and White Raven. Balance it out by, say, cutting the natural armor and having them learn auras at each third level, rather than each odd level.

2008-08-13, 10:29 AM
What about BAB?

The Demented One
2008-08-13, 12:57 PM
What about BAB?
I'd keep it is, it's possible to be a melee contender even with 3/4's BAB.

2008-08-14, 02:00 AM
Terrific. Any other suggestions?