View Full Version : [3.5] Multi-tactic fighter with UMD build attempt

2008-12-16, 08:11 PM
There’s lots of advice on building specialist fighters focused on doing one or two tactics very well. In the right sort of campaign, though, it might be fun to try a generalist – a fighter who is competent with many tactics. Here’s what I came up with.

He has a few feats for each of the combat tactics of archery, throwing, power attacking, charging, tripping, stunning and grappling, and two-weapon-fighting. The strengths and weaknesses of his opponents, and the battleground, determine which tactics he uses – for example, using archery to attack from a distance and avoid counter-attacks whenever possible, power-attacking large foes, using two-weapon fighting or tripping against lots of low-level foes, and stunning foes with weak fortitude saves.

Via Use Magic Device he can use wands at low character levels and scrolls at higher levels, plus he has a smattering of other useful skills, and he has decent will saving throws. (Built without Tome of Battle, spellcasting, or psionic classes – a restriction which makes the build less powerful at high levels, but coping with that restriction is part of the fun.)

A build like this is probably more useful a small party where members can’t be highly specialized, in a campaign with a wide variety of opponents. Although he can work solo in a pinch, he’s not trying to be a solo wizard-killer or dragon-slayer. His more realistic goal is to be a strong protector of the spellcasters in his party at low character levels, a complement to spellcasters at medium levels, and a competent friend / sidekick / bodyguard at high levels. He’ll be increasingly reliant on scrolls or other magic items at higher levels, but the goal is tactical flexibility rather than over-using scrolls.

Details of the build as currently conceived:

Starting stats: Str-15 / Con-13 / Dex-14 / Int-10 / Wis-10 / Cha-10
Like most fighters, concentrate on building Str, Con, Dex. Ignore Int, Wis, Cha.

Levels 1-2: Wolf-totem Barbarian(1-2). (Flaws: Slow to anger, Quick burning rage)
.....Feats @ 2: Point blank shot, Rapid shot, Quick draw, Power attack; Improved trip
.....Skills @ 2: Handle animal[5], Listen[5], Ride[3], Survival[2], Climb[1], Swim[1] Jump[4], Open lock[1], Disable device[1]
.....Tactics: Guisarme for two-handed fighting with reach, guisarme for trip attacks, armor spikes, composite bow built for his strength as soon as he can afford it. The two flaws severely limit the rage ability, but they buy two useful feats. If the DM allows it, train a few dogs or wolves for combat support.

Level 3: Rogue(1) (fighter feat variant)
.....Feats: Knockdown, Skill focus Use Magic Device
.....Skills @ 3: UMD[6], Spot[3]
.....Tactics: With masterwork tools giving +2 to UMD, he can activate wands with 60% success. (Not reliable for combat, but good out of combat or in an emergency.)

Levels 4-5: Fighter(1-2)
.....Feats: Two-weapon fighting, Leap attack
.....Skills @ 5: Jump[8], Handle animal[7]
.....Tactics: Three tactics – archery, tripping, charging-with-power attack – are feat-supported.

Levels 6-7: Monk(1-2)
.....Feats: Improved unarmed strike, Stunning fist, Improved grapple, Combat reflexes
.....Skills @ 7: Listen[6], Spot[8], Diplomacy[2], Sense Motive[2]
.....Tactics: Now he can also stun and/or grapple magically strong but physically weak foes, get multiple attacks of opportunity per round, and throw shuriken at high rates. He can also two-weapon-fight with a two-handed sword + unarmed strike (or armor spikes) when the need arises. All saving throws get nice boosts.
Fluff: He’d shift alignment from neutral to lawful at this point.

Levels 8-9: Rogue(2-3)
.....Feats: Magical aptitude, Improved TWF
.....Skills @ 9: UMD[12], Diplomacy[8], Sense motive[8]
.....Tactics: Scrolls are now usable. With a +9 UMD skill-boosting magic item (if allowed), he could reliably read scrolls of caster level = his character level. Keep UMD maximized from here on.

Levels 10-13: Samurai(1-4) from Oriental Adventures
.....Feats: Iron will, Endurance, Indomitable soul
.....Skills @ 13: UMD[16], Diplomacy[16], Sense motive[12]
.....Purpose: With these feats, by level 13 he’ll have a will save bonus of 10 and get to roll every will save twice.

Levels 14-20: Fighter(3-9)
.....Feats: Many shot, Greater TWF, +3 more feats
.....Skills @ 20: UMD[23], +7 more skill points
.....Tactics: There’s a lot of flexibility at these levels. Choose feats and skills which best fit the campaign – whichever are best against typical opponents and synergize well with team mates. Choose scrolls and other magic items the same way. By keeping UMD skill at maximum levels, he can reliably read scrolls so that he can team up with his wizard or cleric friends when one-two spell-combinations are needed.

Final BAB +18. Final base saves without stat bonuses: Fort +17, Dodge +10, Will +13

Magic items: As he goes up in levels, besides scrolls and a few choice wands, he’ll want some of the usual fighters-choice magic items which boost AC, boost touch AC, boost saving throws, boost Str/Con/Dex, boost mobility (freedom of movement, fly, dimension-door), give opponents chances to miss (blur, mirror images, invisibility, blink). He’ll also want that +9 UMD-skill-boost magic item. Int/Wis/Cha can probably safely be kept at 10.

One down side to this build is he can’t concentrate wealth into one very powerful magic weapon. He might compensate for this by using wands or scrolls of Greater magic weapon, and at higher levels by using scrolls instead of permanent magic items for other magic effects.

Variations on the basic build:

1) Rogue at first level. The benefits are 12 more skill points (for things like open lock, search, spot, diplomacy, sense motive etc.) and the ability to Use Magic Device at first level. Costs are 3 hit points (on average) and a delay getting the improved trip feat until third level. Whether or not this is a good trade depends on the challenges faced in the first few character levels.

2) Able learner feat. The cost is one combat feat starting at first level. The benefits are the ability to keep UMD at maximum ranks even at low character levels, and the ability to maximize ranks in one or two other skills besides UMD (like diplomacy or handle animal) at high levels.

3) No flaws. The two flaws at first level do seriously limit his rage ability. Some DMs don’t allow flaws, however. Two feats (probably TWF and improved grapple) would need to be taken later or dropped.

4) Fighter instead of Oriental Adventures Samurai during levels 10-13. There are reasonable role-playing reasons why this character might pick up Samurai levels starting at level 10, given that he has already dipped into barbarian, rogue, fighter, and monk. But if the DM objects that this plan doesn’t fit the campaign setting, the character can simply take fighter levels instead. That loses a +2 bonus on fort saves, a +3 bonus on will saves, and 8 skill points (and diplomacy and sense motive as class skills at those levels). However, it keeps those important will-save-boosting feats.

5) Occult slayer prestige class during levels 10-14 (instead of four Samurai levels, one fighter level, and the feats taken at those levels). The mind blank ability at fifth level occult slayer gives immunity to almost anything requiring a will save. Pre-requisites are Improved initiative feat, one Weapon focus feat, 4 skill ranks in Know(arcana), and 3 ranks in Spellcraft. (The “fluff” could be re-done to say that his magical defense abilities arise not from hatred of arcane magic but from his practice with magic devices.)

6) If a magic item to boost the UMD skill is unavailable, 5 ranks in Spellcraft and 5 ranks in Know(arcana) each give +2 on UMD for scrolls. On the flip side, if a magic item to boost UMD skill is allowed and is +11 instead of +9, he could convert the Magical Aptitude feat to a combat feat.

7) Different skills. The current build has certain assumptions about what skills will be most useful at low, medium, and high character levels. (Handle animal, survival, ride, open lock, disable device at low levels, diplomacy and sense motive at high levels, spot and listen all the time.) Most skill choices could be changed depending on the particulars of the campaign. (Watch out for feat pre-requisites such as 8 ranks of Jump for Leap attack.)

8) Different feats. The current build has 3 unspecified feats at high levels. Still more feat slots could be opened by dropping improved grapple, dropping the two-weapon-fighting tree, or by dropping the will-save-boosting feats at levels 10-13 (if he has a magic item granting permanent mind blank). Many of the feats and feat combinations listed below could only be taken at high levels, but some of them could be taken at low levels by delaying some of the other feats listed in the current build. Any of these would add nicely to the basic build.
Survival feats: Endurance + Diehard; Heroic destiny + Fearless destiny.
More general tactical feats: Improved initiative; Blind fighting; Prone attack.
More archery/throwing feats: Precise shot; Woodland archer; Far shot; Greater many shot
More throwing feats: Brutal throw + Power throw; Hurling charge.
More unarmed attack feats: Choke hold.
More tripping feats: Dodge + Defensive throw.
More “lock-down” feats: Stand still; Hold the line.
More charging feats: Improved bull rush + Shock trooper; Improved sunder + Combat brute
Feats for mounted: Mounted combat; Ride-by-attack; Spirited charge; Mounted archery.
Feats for fighting invisibly: Spectral skirmisher.
Feats vs. invisible opponents: Mage slayer + Pierce magical concealment.
Feats vs. casters: Mage slayer + occult opportunist.

2008-12-16, 08:25 PM
Problem; Starting off with Barbarian, then multi-classing to monk later, you loose all your barbarian bits. Do it the other way around, you won't loose any monk abilities.

Also, what do those flaws do? I've yet to meet a DM who allows flaws which aren't from UA.

2008-12-16, 08:29 PM
I recommend grabbing 2 (or 3) levels of the Human Paragon class (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/races/racialParagonClasses.htm#humanParagon) in the beginning. You lost 1 BAB, and a couple of levels of your fort progression, and a good Will progression for the ability to treat UMD (or any other skill of your choice) as a class skill forever, regardless of what classes you take in the future, a bonus feat (not from any particular list) and if you take the third level +2 to an ability score of your choice.

Keld Denar
2008-12-16, 08:33 PM
Try to do too much, and you will find yourself unable to do anything at all.

Ok, so maybe thats not a direct quote, but it sounds like something the ol' bugger would say, and very applicable in this case.

You are trying to do a little of everything, and with that, you are not going to be able to do much as good, or what you are gonna be able to do will come too late.

Archery is bad for any character who isn't gonna go all out and focus on it. That includes spending tons of cash on an uber bow of doom. You are better off holding your melee weapon(s) in your hands and wait for something useful to do, or maybe UMD something to buff yourself a bit. Enlarge Person is useful.

Tripping is hard. There aren't enough things a character can do to keep up with fast scaling monsters. If you can't afford the resources to do it well, you are best not doing it, since getting counter tripped means you just lost your weapon and effectively, your turn.

TWF is bad, don't even take it. You don't have any source of bonus damage. Even with a 2 hander and armor spikes, you don't benefit from PA on your armor spikes, since they are light. Thus, you are taking penalties on your good damage for VERY minor damage, which is a bad idea. If you want to TWF good, you need to spend more on it than just a couple feats. Which you can't because you are trying to do too much at once.

Finally, the concept of basing your whole character around UMD. Not a good idea. Unless you can count on having TONS of gold over the standard WBL guidelines without it affecting the difficulty of encounters (not a good bet) the you are never gonna have enough cash on hand to be upgrading all of the gear you'll need (+str, +dex, +con, +AC, +resistance, +Haste, Weapons, etc) and still spend a good chunk of cash on the wands you are interested in. A Wand of GMW? Costs (750x3x5) = 11250, and guess what...It only makes your weapon +1, because it doesn't get +2 until 8th level. And to make it cast at 8th level? 18000. Thats right. 1 Wand to make your weapon +2 costs the same as a +3 weapon. Where do you plan on getting this cash? You can't craft the items like an Artificer, because you don't have the CL or spellcasting abilities, or the cash/xp requirement reductions even.

You are either gonna have WAY more gear than a character your level should have (which a slightly more focused character could put to MUCH better use), or you are gonna be absolutely miserable at much of anything past about 3rd-4th level.

2008-12-16, 08:37 PM
Haberdash the Masked: The 3.5 Kitchen Sink (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=88633&highlight=haberdash)

'nuff said. :smallbiggrin:

2008-12-16, 08:45 PM
Rely often and heavily on the Heroics spell; get several Eternal Wands of it. It will let you advance one step further up all of your partially-completed feat trees.