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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default The Gish Handbook

    The Gish Handbook

    I'd ditch the TWF and be riding a Phantom Steed instead, but you get the idea.

    1. Introduction
    2. Types of Gishes
    3. Races and Feats
    4. Gish-in-a-can Options
    5. Spellcasters
    6. Spells for a Gish
    7. Mundanes
    8. Prestige Classes
    9. Sample Builds
    10. Divine and Psionic Gishes

    D&D 3.5 services a lot of character concepts, one of which is the spellsword--or, as referred to in CO, the "gish". Gishes can hit things and cast (arcane) spells. How hard can it be? Uh, well...D&D likes this concept, but the high standards of CO mean that it's tricky to pull off. The "standard" CO gish benchmark is +16 BAB and 9th level spells, and no base class in the game gives this natively. This guide will help you in the art and science of the spellsword. Gishin' ain't easy.

    There's already a handbook, but I find that there's more collective wisdom to be gathered than what's available in that one. This handbook will go into more detail about your own gish. I am open to suggestions and improvements.

    I should also mention that this handbook deals primarily with arcane gishes. Other types of gish will be briefly discussed at the end.

    Option rankings:
    Purple: Downright cheesy. Know your DM.
    Blue: Great option. Don't have any plans for a particular option category? Get one of these.
    Green: Good choice. Not awesome, but you could easily make better use of one of these than a blue option in certain builds.
    Black: Lower power, but it's not like you can't build around stuff that isn't the very best in class. Take it to do something you won't see rehashed in every other gish ever.
    Orange: generally, avoid these. If you're in a lower-powered game or are just doing something weird that will make it fit, they can still bring something to the table. Remember that picking one of these is not a CO death sentence.
    Red: It's a trap, and the boards will jump down your throat if you mention using it. Unless you're building specifically around it as part of an optimization exercise, or if you're in a low power game, pick something else.
    Last edited by Kazyan; 2013-12-25 at 12:12 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Types of Gishes

    Broadly speaking, a gish can be a combination of any mundane concept and any spellcaster concept. This means there's a huge variety of possible gishes, most of which are garbage. See, a gish cannot devote their entire build to holding up one anemic half of their concept without losing out on the other.

    For mundanes, you've got THF, TWF, sword-and-board, archery, throwing, maneuvers, goes on. For spellcasters, there's GOD caster, batman, ray caster, goes on. And a gish can be any combination of the two lists. Sadly, one character does not have the resources to excel at both independently, so pick low-investment or synergistic pairs. For example, two-handed fighting is low-investment--take Power Attack, pick up a greatsword, done. If you're going to go archery (good luck with that), you'll find Dexterity and Point Blank Shot synergy if you shoot rays everywhere.

    Gishes are either self-buffers or role-switchers. A self-buffer pours their spells into making themselves good at their combat method, which can be potent. A role-switcher basically keeps their spells reserved for being a conventional spellcaster. Both are valid, but a role-switcher generally has a stronger spellcasting base, where a self-buffer has more mundane emphasis. Pick which one you want to be and stick with it.

    You can also have either a gish-in-a-can or a combination gish. A gish-in-a-can can fight and cast spells even from early levels, such as a Duskblade. A combination gish staples a mundane and magical pair of classes together, which can be stronger, but usually struggles at early levels--like a Fighter/Wizard/Abjurant Champion/Eldritch Knight. It helps to know which one you're getting into.

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Races and Feats

    Gray Elf (SRD): That +2 Int is tempting as a casting stat boost, but this is for pure wizards, not gishes. Lack of Str and Con will hurt, and if you wanted more spells per day, why aren't you going Sorcerer? And don't pretend you cared about your save DCs; you're a gish. They're not gonna be high in the first place. You can make this work with Dex-based fighting, though, and hey, they do have martial weapon proficiency--relevant for Swiftblade and Abjurant Champion entry. If you have Faerie Mysteries Initiate, this jumps up to blue.
    Fire Elf (SRD): Like Gray Elf, but with a charisma penalty instead of a strength penalty. With Necropolitan, this is an elf that can work, particularly if you've been dared to use Bladesinger or something.
    Human (SRD): Come on, you know enough about D&D to be looking at an online handbook; you know what humans do and why they're good.
    Neraphim (Planar Handbook): Outsider opens up Alter Self abuse to make a self-buffing gish very happy. Outsider = proficiency with all martial weapons--hello Swiftblade, AbjChamp, and Spellsword. Throw in natural armor, and this unusual race makes a good pick.
    Savage Progression Tiefling and Aasimar: Other outsiders, available here. The trick is to play the base of the progressions, and just not take the level. The outsider goodness of Neraphim, but cheesy.
    Deep Imaskari (Online): For wizards, not gishes. The Int looks good, as does the extra 1st level spell, but that's all.
    Illumian (Races of Destiny): The Naenhoon combination can get a pseudo-DMM:Persist for the Sacred Exorcists out there, or you can use one of the other useful gish-friendly sigil combinations--one of them allows you to use Strength for bonus spells, freeing up investment into your casting stat. Odd race, but the sigils can be useful, even if you get nothing else useful.
    Darfellan or Skarn (Stormwrack/Magic of Incarnum): They're basically the same thing: more Str, less Dex, and a natural weapon. They don't do anything for the casting side, but they help you out in melee.
    Half-Orc (SRD): A casting stat penalty for +2 strength. Really? Just play a Darfellan or Skarn. Yeah, yeah, +2 Str is useful, but you can do so much better.
    Whisper Gnome (Races of Stone): Not for Sorcerers due to the charisma penalty, but these guys can have good defenses. However, docking your strength and needing to use small weapons hurts. Usually a good race, but they're for sneaking, and gishes don't need to be any more unfocused.
    Kobold (SRD and Web Enhancement): The exact opposite of a typical gish wants. But these guys can get a nice big to-hit with their several natural weapons, if you're willing to deal with the big hit to Str and Con and then blow a feat on Weapon Finesse. Small size, natural armor, and slight build synergize into good innate AC. Finally, they get Martial Weapon Proficiencies--Swiftblade and AbjChamp like that. If you're planning on a dexterity-based melee build of some kind, Kobold isn't bad. They also have the Dragonwrought feat, which opens up the door to a vast array of cheese that has been discussed elsewhere.
    Muckdweller (Serpent Kingdoms): An obscure race that I can see working really well for dexterity builds: it has Weapon Finesse built-in, tiny size, and +6 Dex. Charisma penalty means it's mostly for wizards, though, and that strength penalty is awful.
    Necropolitan (Libris Mortis): Not a race, but an LA +0 template. Gishes are MAD, and if you can't afford Constitution for some reason, Necropolitan is a decent substitute with its free d12 hit dice. That, and all the delicious immunities. If you have Faerie Mysteries Initiate on the table so that you get bonus hit points anyway, this is off-the-wall awesome. Finally, Stalwart Sorcerer can apply its bonus hit points to a Necropolitan, if you need them.
    Lesser Mechanatrix (Fiend Folio and Player's Guide to Faerun): The "Lesser Planetouched" option creates all sorts of shenanigans, perhaps one of the best being the Lesser Mechanatrix. A bonus to Con and Int is just part of it; what you're really there for is the ability to absorb electricity. Getting healed from a type of energy, while common in JRPGs and such, is rare in D&D outside of golems. Further, you can take Shape Soulmeld (Lightning Gauntelets) for unlimited out-of-combat healing. This race is perfect for a divine gish: Sapphire Heirarch fits like a glove in flavor and mechanics.

    Feats should be geared towards your gishing style. Also, get a mix that will let you both cast and hit monsters, or you're not really a gish.

    Arcane Strike (Complete Warrior): A feat tailor-made for gishes, but heavily depends on build. If you're a wizard, using this eats a prepared spell, so you could lose your wizardly "I have a spell for that" when you need it. Sorcerers don't lose nearly as much, since they can still cast their entire repertoire if they give up a slot, and they have more slots. In general, Arcane Strike goes much better with spontaneous casters than prepared casters.
    Minor Shapeshift (Complete Mage): If you qualify and have a feat slot free, you're gonna have a hard time justifying not taking this. On-demand temporary HP as a swift action is huge for survivability, and the feat would be worth it for that alone, but there's more. A small bonus to melee damage, an emergency backup weapon, a slight speed increase, and some meaningless skill bonuses. It's like a swiss army knife that contains a medikit, a lightsaber, a spork, a pipe cleaner and a piece of lint. And we'll throw in a caster level bonus to polymorph spells for free. This is all one feat.
    Acidic Splatter, et al. (Complete Mage): 15 minute adventuring days are for regular casters. Reserve feats that give you a pack of damage at-will can be good, but they depend heavily on your build. Self-buffing gishes will love the opportunity to just shoot energy instead of going through their spell-expensive buffing routine against weaker enemies, but role-switchers don't run out of sword, you know? Further, making use of one of these requires a prepared caster to block off a spell slot, but spontaneous casters don't need to worry--especially if they have Heighten Spell.
    Power Attack (SRD): The part where you deal damage with a greatsword. Less useful as you lose BAB, and you can get it from the later Bite of the Were-X spells, so it isn't mandatory. PA is only useful when two-handing a weapon, anyway.
    Weapon Finesse (SRD): For dexterity melee builds, but can be replaced cheaply with a light Feycraft weapon. The feat is compatible with certain THF weapons, though--Spiked Chain and Elven Courtblade. Feycraft isn't.
    Extend Spell (SRD): For "1 hour/level" buffs to make them last all day. Consider a Metamagic Rod of Extend, though, if not going for Persist--the Lesser rod is particularly cheap.
    Persistent Spell (Complete Arcane): Go all day. Used alone, it's merely good at high levels--Persistent Wraithstrike, for one. But there are various tricks to get this on spells it has no business being hooked up to, which are floating around in various handbooks. The most gish-friendly one is the metamagic Illumian sigil combination combined with Sacred Exorcist. Note that excessive persisting is the basis of much cheese--be warned before using this.
    Arcane Disciple (Complete Divine): Increases MAD like whoa, but grants access to some cleric spells. The big gish-relevant domains are War, Hero, and Competition, because they have Divine Power--which grants you full BAB and lotsa Strength. Persistent Divine Power is basically a spellcaster's cheat code to gishing, if you can swing the MAD and all the feat investment.
    Shock Trooper et al. (Complete Warrior): The ubercharging feats make you do lots of damage, and you will have spells for mobility. The only problem is the four-feat tax if you want to get Shock Trooper and Leap Attack running, and you need some spellcasting feats. You can use the Battleaxe of the Bull from Arms and Equipment Guide to bypass the Improved Bull Rush feat tax, if you don't mind your build being fragile.
    Versatile Spellcaster (Races of the Dragon): Good filler feat for spontaneous casters--less useful low-level spell slots get upgraded. Turn cantrips into Nerveskitters, or Nerveskitters into Wraithstrikes.
    Heighten Spell (SRD): Black for spontaneous casters with Acidic Splatter or a similar feat. This means you can use the reserve feat with your highest spell slot--and possibly one higher, with Versatile Spellcaster. Red for self-buffer gishes: don't bother. How much do you care about save DCs, really? Role-switchers could make use of this, much like any caster,'s an expensive way to gain save DCs when you're strapped for spell slots.
    Otherworldly (Player's Guide to Faerun): Proficiency with all martial weapons and Alter Self abuse; see Neraphim.
    Martial Weapon Proficiency (SRD): Feat tax to get into AbjChamp and/or Swiftblade when using a pure caster entry. Available through various channels besides just taking the feat.
    Battle Caster (Complete Arcane): You basically need actual proficiency with the armor type you're looking at, and even then, it's just a few points of AC which costs gold and move speed. Not worth it--high-AC builds overwhelmingly do not wear armor, anyway. For gishes, you pump AC by being an Abjurant Champion.
    Travel Devotion (Complete Champion): Good for getting off full attacks, but gishes usually have a lot of other things to do with their swift action.
    Knowledge Devotion (Complete Champion): Great for Int-based gishes that can keep the required skills in-class. Others will likely not have the skill points to make this work.
    Improved Initiative (SRD): Spellcasters have lots of ways to pump their Initiative without spending a feat, but a gish may want to conserve spell slots. Blowing a Nerveskitter every encounter, especially when you're a wizard, can get difficult. Improved Initiative is always on, and it stacks with everything.
    Arcane Preparation (Complete Arcane): This is the one that lets good-aligned Sorcerers cast (Greater) Luminous Armor.
    Echoing Spell (Secrets of Xen'drik): Self-buffers chew through a lot of spells that don't depend much on caster level. Echoing Wraithstrike, Nerveskitter, or Bite of the Were-X means you can use those spells way more often through the day.
    Shadow Blade (Tome of Battle): For Dexterity builds, if you can swing the prerequisite and are going to be using a Shadow Hand weapon anyway. The damage could be significant...but make sure it is, first! You need high Dex. There's a reason Weapon Specialization is not a very popular feat in CO.
    Innate Spell (Complete Arcane): I was going to comment that getting an at-will buff spell could be cool, but the amount of investment required to get this to do anything useful is absurd. Don't do it; the "Shapechange at-will" TO stunt has already been done.
    Snowflake Wardance (Frostburn): Are you a bard? Cool. It's Charisma to attack rolls. You're taking this. Yes, you are.
    Combat Casting (SRD): There is no reason to take this feat unless you're going into Abjurant Champion, and some other, less-popular classes. Which means that like 95% of gishes have this feat.
    Elusive Target: (Complete Warrior) The swiftblade feat, for swiftblades. Requires Dodge and Mobility. The benefit is ignoring Power Attack, and some other stuff. Swiftblades have miss chances and unusually low HP for gishes; being able to turn off one of the big melee damage sources in the game is pretty awesome to round out their defenses. For other classes, the three-feat investment could be a bit much.
    (Adjective) Spirit: (Complete Mage) For Wu Jen gishes, these three feats are options for your elusive low-level feat slots. Each gives you an extra initiative reroll and a small buff for the encounter you use an initiative reroll in. They're appreciable bonuses, and gishes can have trouble filling the early feat slots with things that aren't purely investments for levels that may never come.
    Last edited by Kazyan; 2014-05-17 at 11:30 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Gish-in-a-can Options

    Don't want to do tons of multiclassing and just want something that works out of the box? That won't be as powerful, but, here you go.

    Duskblade 20 (Player's Handbook II): This is blue relative to other options. Duskblades can actually cast spells from level 1 at the same time that they have Full BAB, plus some features to let them cast in armor, and the big draw: Arcane Channeling. Hit things with your weapon and a spell at the same time! They can make lots of use out of Arcane Strike with their great number of spell slots, and all knowledge skills for Knowledge Devotion. This is the best option for an uncomplicated gish build.

    Bard 20 (SRD): 3/4 BAB and 6th level spells is a gish? What? But seriously, 6th level bard spells are potent, and mixing in things like Snowflake Wardance and Dragonfire Inspiration, bards can be blazing melee machine that also cast spells on the side. In this case, it's not about the BAB; it's about the loads of other bard-friendly boosts available.

    Hexblade 20 (Complete Warrior): The Duskblade's unpopular little brother can't cast spells at level 1, and only gets up to 4th level spells, but they draw from a more versatile list--perhaps even a more powerful one--than the Duskblade. They also have a curse ability, and can eventually get Minor Shapeshift instead of the Duskblade's Knowledge Devotion. The bad news is that their toys are a bit underwhelming--it's a Tier 4 class. These days, they're mostly used for "my familiar can beat up your familiar!" builds. The bottom line is that Hexblades are merely viable instead of awesome.

    Stalwart Battle Sorcerer 20 (SRD, Complete Mage): Apply Battle Sorcerer first, then apply Stalwart Sorcerer. Here's the trick: Battle Sorcerers only have one spell known of their highest level at all times. Stalwart Sorcerers lose a spell known of their highest level only, but it's to a minimum of one. Therefore, you can combine the ACFs for no further penalty to spell progression. The result is that you still have the spell quantity problem of a Battle Sorcerer, but in exchange, you get 3/4 BAB, proficiency with two martial weapons, Weapon Focus with one of them, Armored Casting in light armor, and a d8+2 hit die. That's basically a d12. The result is a somewhat limited caster that isn't terrible in melee. Good enough for me.

    There is some debate as to whether this combination actually works: do the class variants from UA count as completely different classes? Because that means you can't take ACFs. I'm not sure how that works, myself. Ask your DM.

    Replace-all-the-things Ranger 20 (SRD and others): There are a variety of ways to take off the bland and mediocre parts of the Ranger chassis and replace them with, like, lasers and spinny rims. Rangers can actually be formidable spellcasters if you do it right. Here's a list of modifications to make a Ranger gish-friendly:
    Sword of the Arcane Order (Champions of Valor): This feat lets you cast Wizard spells out of Ranger slots. Requires Intelligence.
    Shooting Star Substitution Levels (Champions of Valor): Mystra gives you spellcasting goodies, like a better CL.
    Wildshape Ranger (SRD): Gets rid of fighting styles, but frees up resources that would otherwise be invested into melee competence, because you just turned into a bear/fleshraker.
    Mystic Ranger (Dragon Magazine): Delay feats, but gain prepared-caster spell progression that stops giving you spell levels at about 10th level. Warning: Dragon Magazine.

    Staple together as many of these as you can, and the Ranger isn't so bad at gishing. Mystic Ranger bring this up to blue.

    Spellthief 20 (Complete Adventurer): 3/4 BAB and 4th level spells. That's not a gish; that's a Fighter X/Wizard X. Spellthieves have this problem where they sound really interesting until you fight something that doesn't cast spells at you, and then you just sort of weakly try to shiv them while grumbling about how totally relevant you'd be if they were casting something. You can force a spellthief to work, but it takes effort.

    Martial Wizard 20 (SRD): A handful of fighter feats on a 1/2 BAB chassis does not a gish make. Not at all. Martial Wizard is good for qualifications, particularly involving Swiftblade, but on its own, it is not a viable way to create a wizard that hits things.

    Factotum 20 (Dungeonscape): 3/4 BAB, 7th level spells, and more poor design than you can shake a stick at without 10 levels in a stick-shaking PrC. Cunning Surge lets you get additional attacks to thumb your nose at the benchmark +16 BAB, you get Int to damage and to-hit by spending Inspiration, you can get precision damage, and you can copy class features. Among other things. Font of Inspiration is your friend.

    Factotum can also be broken down into gish components. Factotum 8 lets you ignore the +16 BAB benchmark if you're willing to invest FoIs into it, and Factotum 1 grants you Int to damage.

    Huh? Oh, yeah, it's purple because I detest this class, but that's a rant for another day.
    Last edited by Kazyan; 2014-12-10 at 11:53 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook


    When building a combination gish, you gotta have a full caster in there somewhere.

    Wizard (SRD): The Martial Wizard variant grants you fighter bonus feats, which are great for qualifying for stuff or making you better at hitting things. Besides that, it's a friggin' wizard; go look at the wizard handbook and learn all of the reasons it's one of the most powerful base classes in the game. As a prepared caster, it is also compatible with (Greater) Luminous Armor. Finally, you can specialize for more spell slots, and Conjurers get access to Abrupt Jaunt.

    Sorcerer (SRD): ...and yet despite all of the reasons wizards are great, sorcerers may be just as good or better. The conventional wisdom is that wizard > sorcerer, every time. However, gishes are prone to casting the same handful of spells over and over again in proportions that you're not going to be sure of in advance--more swift-action-every-round spells, more per-encounter buffs, or will you need to recast your dailies? Many variable spells per day is what sorcerers were designed for. Sorcerers work much better with Arcane Strike, you can power Reserve feats better, and having every spell in the game is just not your focus. Gishes will be spending money on melee stuff, too; they're not going to be spending money on copying vestigewrack into their spellbook in case they need it. And it's not like sorcerers don't have useful ACFs: Stalwart Sorcerer for qualifications, Divine Companion for self-healing, Metamagic Specialist because you're uncreative and heard it was good. But yeah, the drawbacks are incompatibility with (Greater) Luminous armor and being half a spell level behind. On the whole, it's an even trade.

    Wu Jen (Complete Arcane): They have some unique gish-friendly spells on their list, but their "problem" is that they have most of the drawbacks of a Wizard without most of the benefits. Wu Jen can make interesting and capable gishes, but there's a reason people talk about Wizards and Sorcerers first.

    Beguiler (Player's Handbook II): Lacking most of the go-to arcane gish spells, Beguilers have problems being a self-buffer gish, and they're more of a sneaky/skill sort of class. Gishes don't need to be sidetracked. Cannot cast (Greater) Luminous Armor even if they spend a feat, on account of alignment restrictions. Lots of skills, but not the knowledges necessary for Knowledge Devotion. No polymorph for Minor Shapeshift. They can Arcane Strike, but they've just got so much going against them.

    Warmage (Complete Arcane): Ooh, blasting. And that's it. It's very hard to merge a pure blaster class with mundane hitting things--there's just no synergy.

    Dread Necromancer (Heroes of Horror): This can be made to work. Some DR, self-healing with Tomb Tainted Soul, a martial weapon proficiency, and rebuke undead for the Illumians and those who use Devotion feats. I wouldn't recommend it, but it gimps you rather less than the other two fixed-list casters.

    Classes that don't get 9th level spells: If you're bothering with one of them, look at one of the gish-in-a-can options instead of trying to do a combination gish. You're not going to get any oomph in your spells by hybridizing something that's already a hybrid.
    Last edited by Kazyan; 2013-12-24 at 11:59 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Spells for a Gish

    Beyond simply picking the good spells that you hear in every wizard discussion ever, there are several spells that are good for a self-buffer gish.


    Shadow Conjuration (SRD): Two reasons to get this: Phantom Steed and Create Magic Tattoo. The former is your awesome super-fast mount, and the latter can give you small daily miscellaneous bonuses. Create Magic Tattoo usually requires some gold in materials, but Shadow Conjuration bypasses that. Bonuses to hit, saves, or CL are fun.

    Wraithstrike (SpC): I've mentioned this many times. It's the one that lets you attack against touch AC, and it's Persistable at high levels. That's why.

    Nerveskitter (SpC): Going first: the spell. It's something to do with your 1st level slots.

    Blade of Blood (Player's Handbook II): Get +1d6 damage on your first hit in the round, or +3d6 if you sacrifice 5 HP. Combine with Minor Shapeshift's temporary HP ability for greater effectiveness. Cheap and useful on a wand.

    Ferocity of Sanguine Rage (Dragon Magic): Add some melee damage. Persistable at high levels.

    Bite of the Were(animal) (SpC): This line of spells grants increasing bonuses the higher in level you go, culminating in +16 to Strength and some other awesome bonuses. The only problem is that these spells are 1 round/level, and buffing in combat costs an action.

    Haste (SRD): Attack an additional time, plus some +1s here and there. It affects the whole party, too. Swiftblades love this spell.

    Energy Surge (Player's Handbook II): This includes the Lesser and Greater versions. Put some extra oomph on your weapon for one round as a swift action.

    Glorious Master of the Elements (Draogn Magic): If you can apply a Persisting method to this, you can ignore my discussion of reserve feats and blast all day. Otherwise, this spell provides little of interest.

    Polymorph et al. (SRD): Turn into something that is better at fighting than you and wreck things. Alter Self is the lowest-level version of this, which is mostly good for getting natural armor.

    Heart of X (Complete Mage): The "Heart of" spells provide some neat passive bonuses that can be discharged into contingencies, and synergize into crit immunity. Good, if you can spare the daily spell slots to get the capstone.

    Cloud of Knives (Player's Handbook II): Hitting things as a free action is fun--moreso if Persisted, which can be done at high levels.

    (Greater) Mage Armor (SRD): Non-Good replacements for the Luminous Armor line. Incompatible with Abjurant Champion;s Abjurant Armor, unfortunately.

    (Repelling) Shield (Complete Mage/SRD): Best with Abjurant Champion. Both versions are Persistable at high levels. Repelling Shield is particularly fun, as you can randomly break full attacks with it with a little luck.

    (Greater) Luminous Armor (Book of Exalted Deeds): The only reason this isn't in big font is because you have to figure out how to deal with the ability damage. But if you can do that, these two are close to the best gish spells in the game. +5 to AC paired with -4 to attacks against you, and compatible with Abjurant Champion. The Greater version gives +8 to AC. With all 5 Abjurant Champion levels, Greater Luminous Armor is +13 to AC and -4 to attacks against you. This turns "Eep, I get hit on everything above a 2!" to "They need a 19 to hit me; get on my level." Oh yeah, and it's an hour/level thing.

    Greater Invisibility (SRD): That awkward moment when the enemies can't actually find the guy who's chopping them to ribbons. When that happens, you pretty much win right there.

    (Greater) Mirror Image (Player's Handbook II/SRD): Don't get hit with Mirror Image; they'll hit your decoys. Greater Mirror Image is even better--immediate action activation? New decoy every round? This is incredible for defense.

    True Strike (SRD): Especially when quickened, True Strike's "oh forget this, POWER ATTACK FOR FULL AND HIT ANYWAY" is an effective way to deactivate an enemy.

    Bladeweave (SpC): It lets you daze people after full attacking. And that's fantastic.

    Heroics (SpC): I'm not really sure how WotC expected the material component to be resolved. It's good on a wand, it's in the Extend Spell sweet spot of 10 min/level, and you can duplicate the Fighter's schtick with it.

    Greater Magic Weapon (SRD): Don't feel like spending piles of gold on upgrading your weapon? Take this spell and then simply don't.

    Steeldance (SpC): A shorter-range but double-effectiveness Cloud of Knives.

    Vampiric Touch (SRD): Deal damage and get healz at the same time.

    Wings of Cover (Races of the Dragon): Only available to sorcerers. In short, it's Power Word: No. The ignore-an-attack thing puts this right up there with mild Persisting.

    Ruin Delver's Fortune (SpC): Get +Charisma to a saving throw of your choice as an immediate action, plus a benefit associated with the saving throw, or some temporary HP. See why sorcerers are rated as highly as wizards? This is a very nice defense.


    Fire Shuriken (CA): If you prefer ranged attacks, Fire Shuriken deal noticeable damage at low levels. Very vulnerable to fire resistance, but otherwise interesting as a metamagic seed. Fell Drain, anyone? These are also pretty neat because of the Instantaneous duration--you can save up a bunch of these on off-days.

    Giant Size (CA): Hulk smash.

    Minute Form (CA): Only for ranged gishes who don't care about Strength, e.g. Fire Shuriken builds. For them, it's a pretty comprehensive buff.

    Lightning Blade (CA): Gives you a touch-attack lightsaber that deals electricity damage. Hi, have you met Power Attack?

    Magnetism (CA): Sometimes you need a knife, but you don't have a knife, and your opponent does.

    Body Outside Body (CA): It makes copies of you that can't cast spells and have nonmagical equipment. They can still hit things, and initiate maneuvers, though. On a gish, this obliterates the action economy more thoroughly than Time Stop.

    Surelife (CA): Pick a condition and be specific about it. It can no longer hurt you for a short while. if you know what you're facing in advance, this is a fun "lol no" card.

    Transcend Mortality (CA): If you're a Jade Pheonix Mage, this is awesome at level 20, when you can use it to be indestructible for a while and then use Emerald Immolation just before it times out. For everyone else, it's a spell that kills you.
    Last edited by Kazyan; 2014-05-07 at 10:04 AM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook


    You've got you're spellcasting side; now for the part where you put sharp objects into bad guys competently.

    Fighter (SRD): For those tricky qualifications, like Swiftblade. Also consider the Drow Fighter variant if you're Dexterity-based, though RAI is that it's Drow-only.

    Lion Spirit Totem Barbarian (SRD/Complete Champion): According to some, melee characters are nonfunctional without Pounce. If you're one of those, go ahead and take this, but I say you can do better. You can't cast spells when you're raging, Barbarians don't get the heavy armor proficiency necessary for Spellsword, and it doesn't bring anything else to the table. I love Barbarians and all, but they're not a class for gishes.

    Paladin (SRD): A couple levels of this is a great starter for Sorcerer gishes, due to the Charisma to saves.

    Ranger (SRD): Same armor proficiency problem as the Barbarian, but without Pounce in-house. Take a class that does something for you besides giving Full BAB.

    Warblade (Tome of Battle): Not proficient with heavy armor or ranged-only martial weapons. Maneuvers are fun and everything, but if you start as a Warblade and only go for one or two levels, you get neither Mountain Hammer nor White Raven Tactics. Int to Reflex saves is okay, but I'm going to go for the CO-heresy here and say to choose Fighter over Warblade.

    Swordsage (Tome of Battle): Wis to AC can improve an AbjChamp's already high defenses, and it makes Shadow Blade qualification a snap. However, you lose a point of BAB going in, and it has the stupid armor proficiency problem.

    Crusader (Tome of Battle): Finally, a ToB class that works with Spellsword. Crusaders are really hard to kill, moreso when the delayed damage pool works so friggin' well with Minor Shapeshift by dividing the damage into two chunks for two different temp HP absorptions. ToB junkies, go with Crusader on your gishes.

    A word on all of the martial adepts: though they're not that great on their own, their recovery mechanics are compatible with Martial Study and Crown of the White Raven et al.. If you're going to use a martial adept on a gish, see if Martial Study or a maneuver item would work well for you.

    Swashbuckler (Complete Warrior): Three levels gives you Int to damage, but typically, if you're starting out with a mundane class, you only want one or two levels before jumping into spellcasting. You can still hit the +16 BAB/9th level spells benchmark and everything, though--Swashbuckler 3/Wizard 4/AbjChamp 5/Sacred Exorcist 8, so take that for what it's worth.

    Soulborn (Magic of Incarnum): A downgrade from Paladin 2, to to be sure, but if you just wanna troll some optimizers by saying you used Soulborn for something (*raises hand*)...well, an LG soulborn gets all the proficiencies, a smite, and fear immunity in 2 levels, basically only missing the Charisma to saves.

    Duskblade (Player's Handbook II): BAB? Check. Proficiencies? Check. Combat Casting as a bonus feat to save you the tax? Oh yes. Arcane Channeling of you dive in for three levels? Ha, this is great to start out a combination gish build, even if you don't use the Duskblade spells themselves.

    (Cloistered) Cleric (SRD): There's an entire handbook for dipping this, but you won't get into Spellsword and you'll lose a point of BAB.

    Martial Monk (SRD and some-or-another Dragon Magazine): It's really cheesy, but it's there. Two levels gets you only +1 BAB and none of the good proficiencies, but allows you a mental score to AC so long as you don't wear armor--yes, yes, Abjurant Champion, we're getting to you; sit down--and two fighter bonus feats. Looking carefully at the text for monk bonus feats, it turns out you get to ignore prereqs, so you can grab any fighter feat you want. If your DM is a cheese connoisseur, anyway.

    3/4 BAB or worse classes, in general: The thing is, a good martial base for a gish has A) Full BAB, B) All the proficiencies, and C) a neat feature besides that. 3/4 BAB and worse classes lack A, and often B.
    Last edited by Kazyan; 2013-12-27 at 01:12 AM.

  8. - Top - End - #8
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    Prestige Classes

    This is it. The heart of the gish. You've got your melee side and your mundane side--prestige classes put them together into a coherent whole.

    ABJURANT CHAMPION (Complete Mage)
    No, no, that's not eye-catchy enough. Can we make it sparkly? Does platinum show up on this background? Maybe throw in a lens flare or something...

    Ahem. This is the class almost every combination gish takes, because it's just that good and just that easy to get into. All you need is some BAB, Combat Casting, and a martial weapon proficiency--which is why I've been banging on about martial weapons for this entire handbook. It's five levels long, with five great abilities (though you won't care too much about the last one), and grants +1 BAB and +1 CL at every level. Abjurant Armor improves the armor or shield bonus from abjuration spells, which can bring your AC through the roof, and that's without using Arcane Boost to give yourself an insight bonus to AC. And it has d10 hit dice.

    If you're building a gish without Abjurant Champion, think very carefully about what you're doing. It's the core of the modern gish build.

    Eldritch Knight (SRD): It's not that this is a bad class, it's just that it's kinda boring and no one likes that 1-level speed bump. EK gives you +1 BAB and +1CL every level except for the first, which gives you a bonus feat instead of CL. IT's 10 levels long, and mostly good for filler levels. This is what builds that can still afford to lose a caster level, but not a point of BAB, take instead of Sacred Exorcist.

    Sacred Exorcist (Complete Divine): At first glance, the reason this looks good is not because of the bulk of the class features, but because it gets 3/4 BAB and +1 CL every level. This means that it's good for the later levels of a gish build. But it also gets Turn Undead, which can power Devotion feats and make Illumians happy. However, the qualifications can be tricky, particularly the fluff one, and it straightjackets you into being Good--but you were probably Good anyway for (Greater) Luminous Armor.

    Ruathar (Races of the Wild): 3/4 BAB and full CL classes make great filler. This is one of them. Mechanically, it's one of the easiest classes in the game to get into, with only fluff giving you trouble. Its actual class features are not of much importance, though it does grant Martial Weapon Proficiency. The big draw is the chassis. Sadly, it's only 3 levels long.

    Master Harper (Online): Gag-me-with-a-spoon prerequisites, but the feat taxes are paid back by 5th level. The class features are uninteresting; what you're really getting into the class for is the 3/4 BAB and full CL advancement. Rangers, Factotums, etc. can hit the prereqs more easily.

    Spellsword (Complete Warrior): This is good for one level only, but I've heard that one level referred to as "Abjurant Champion level 0". Spellsword requires one fewer BAB than AbjChamp to get in, plus all the proficiencies, and its first level gives +1 BAB and CL along with reducing ASF a little. Handy before you're a proper AbjChamp, and after that one level, you qualify. It's a filler level. However, you need to have defeated something of high enough CR without using spells, partly why combination gishes usually put their mundane levels first.

    If you take more than that one level, you start bleeding caster levels for features that aren't worth it.

    Knight of the Thorn (Dragonlance Campaign Setting): Fluff requires you to talk to your DM in advance. Preqers are not friendly to either of the three full casters--there's a metamagic feat required, but a big "NO WU JEN ALLOWED" sign in the alignment section. If you can get in, which involve having those Spellsword proficiencies, this is another 3/4 BAB, 10/10 CL PrC, but the class abilities are actually possibly useful.

    Swiftblade (Online): Losing caster levels is heresy, but swiftblade has an entire heterodox church complex backing it up. You need a martial weapon proficiency to get in (sure), along with +3 BAB (okay), and Dodge and Mobility (eeeeewwww). Thus, the archetypal entry is Martial Wizard 6. Swiftblade has a handbook of its own, but briefly: the reason everyone cares about this is because its class features are so good that they justify losing caster levels, all the way to level 10. Swiftblade also makes it less painful to get into Spelldancer. Martial Wizard 6/Swiftblade 9-10/Abjurant Champion 4-5 is a solid build But for the love of Pun-Pun, don't even ironically take Arcane Strike if you try a Wizard entry. You can get Mobility with the Mobility armor enhancement in Magic Item Compendium, but I personally don't like getting feats from easily-removed items.

    Knight Phantom (Five Nations or Online): The class features aren't bad, since you can divvy up the durations as you see fit, but this is basically a modified Eldritch Knight, with the same issues and benefits. You need a feat tax and a spell known tax, but get some more goodies, and you can go without the heavy armor proficiency. It's obscure because it's setting-specific and must characters can just take Eldritch Knight.

    Sublime Chord (Complete Arcane): This is for Bards that think they're sorcerers. Fewer spells known and spells per day, but this advances Bards up to 9th level spells with an added caster-level-increasing class feature and a weird, exploitable way to calculate CL. This comes at the cost of a huge skill tax. It doesn't combine spells and BAB, but it's used to turn a Bard build into something that hits the +16 BAB/9th level spell benchmark when combined with other PrCs to advance its spellcasting.

    Dragonslayer (Draconomicon): At the cost of two feats, one level grants you all the proficiencies and +1 BAB/+1 CL. It's useful for hacking your way into Spellsword et al., but it won't be a pretty build if you use it. To ease the feat tax, you can get Iron Will through the Otyugh Hole in Complete Scoundrel.

    Bladesinger (Complete Warrior): *rimshot*

    (For those who don't get the joke: Awful feat taxes, medicore class features except for the Int-to-AC bit, requires you to use arguably the worst melee fighting style in the game, loses 5 caster levels, and requires you to be a suboptimal race.)

    Havoc Mage (Miniatures Handbook): Easy to get into, but loses 2 BAB and 2 CL. Which is what Fighter 2/Wizard 3 does. The advantage is being really easy to get into and the Battlecast ability, which gives you some action economy. It at least isn't limited by uses per day and can work with Arcane Channeling for a second spell. I really wouldn't, but you could, I guess.

    Jade Phoenix Mage (Tome of Battle): It has some weird fluff and loses two caster levels, but the class features basically let you burn up spells to do gishy things, and it advances both casting and maneuvers. For a theurge class, it's pretty solid, as usual for Tome of Battle. Also, when you get to level 20 on a Wu Jen chassis, Transcend Mortality and Emerald Immolation form a hilariously good combo.

    Rage Mage (Complete Warrior): 3/4 BAB and 1/2 CL; you've got to be kidding me. It lets you rage and cast spells at the same time, but the sparse class features are kinda lame, and there's a feat tax (though it's the same one to get into AbjChamp, so it doesn't really count). Barbarian is a mediocre martial entry to a gish anyway.

    Runescarred Berserker (Unapproachable East): This is what Rage Mage wishes it could be, and can be entered as a pure Barbarian. It advances several Barbarian class features, allows you to store spells for later, and grants spellcasting off a good list that goes up to 5th level. It's not 9ths, but it's a nice upgrade to a standard barbarian. Who wants AMFs!? The bad news is the two-feat tax. Boo.

    Raumathari Battlemage (Unapproachable East): Obscure, but not that bad. Grants a limited Channel Spell thingie, lets you apply free metamagics to spells, grants a caster level boost and save DC boost, and lets you ignore cheap material components. However, it's 3/4 BAB and 9/10 casting. This is another case of the class features making up for the lack of benchmark-friendliness.

    Runesmith (Races of Stone): Dwarf-only, and intended for Wizards, but if you can hit the prereqs, a 1-level dip allows casting through a method that ignores somatic components. Mechanus Gear and Heavy Shield? No problem. Loses a point of BAB, though. If you are not using Abjurant Champion (why?) and want to actually wear armor, this is crucial. The other abilities of the prestige class don't seem all that useful to a gish, except for the Permanent Rune ability at the end, after you've lost 3 points of BAB. It gives you a spell-like ability twice per day, of any spell you know, without requiring XP or anything. This is pretty exploitable, but if you want to hit the benchmark, it's just a stunt-friendly diversion to look at.

    Arcane Archer (SRD): The early attempt at making a gish PrC was one that didn't advance casting. Woo! *blows on noisemaker*

    Between three feat taxes, requiring a "meh" race, and the abilities just not being very good, this PrC is thoroughly bad. The only use is a two-level dip for Imbue Arrow, which is exploitable, but mostly for optimization stunts.

    Suel Arcanamach (Complete Arcane): I dunno, I've heard good things about this, but it seems like it converts a melee character into a gish only half-heartedly. The ASF reduction is too small to matter, it's 3/4 BAB, and the abilities are mostly methods of playing catchup to the real casters--except that the class stops at 5th level spells. Also, feat tax. The real strength of classes like this--ones that apply an entirely new spell list to a character--is that they typically play catch-up enough that you have room in your build for dipping and other fun diversions.

    Dragon Disciple (SRD): The Str would be nice, except that it's a 3/4 BAB class. You can do some neat tricks with it, as Iron Chef has pointed out, but this isn't a good gish class at all. 3/4 BAB + no casting advancement = big pile of fail for those who want to hit the benchmarks. At least it's easy to get into, but then, it wouldn't be a trap if it wasn't.

    Legacy Champion/Uncanny Trickster (Weapons of Legacy/Complete Scoundrel): These are sometimes used to advance AbjChamp beyond level 5. They're bad for hitting the benchmark, but something like Fighter 1/Stalwart Battle Sorcerer 4/Spellsword 1/Abjurant Champion 5/Legacy Champion 9 can get +12 to the AC bonus of their Greater Luminous Armor and Repelling Shield, for +36 to AC. (And -4 to hit you.) Consider for specialized MC Hammer builds. Bonus points if you can get your DM to allow custom parachute pants as your legacy item.

    Wyrm Wizard (Dragon Magic): On the surface, this is pretty bad for everything. However, a 2-level dip at high levels sacrifices +1 CL and +1 BAB to put any spell in the game on your list. That's code for Body Outside Body, the gish multiplier. Don't go any further than that.

    Chameleon (Races of Destiny): Human-only, but this cheese-loving class can get you ability bonuses, extra to-hit and damage, and arcane spells up to 6th level from every list. Easily turns a mundane into a non-benchmark gish that's seriously better than bard casting despite only having 6ths, but the casting is explicitly not PrC-compatible, and only grants 3/4 BAB. Nevertheless, it's very good. If you can gain extra spell slots of levels higher than 6 somehow, you get arcane spells of that level too, which is nuts.

    Knight of the Weave (Champions of Valor): Does the same thing Suel Arcanamach and Chameleon do, but worse, and is way easier to get into. Again, gives you room for dipping and such.

    Impure Prince (Magic of Eberron): Again with the taxes to get into, but after losing a caster level, you get full CL until level 5, along with full BAB. Aberrant Anatomy and Lure Symbiont are a pair of actually-relevant class features, making this possibly a better choice that Eldritch Knight, if you can swing the prereqs--that's always the issue.

    Cyran Avenger (Online): Mostly for rangers, since they can get the skill prereqs and the Track feat tax no sweat, but you can enter it with other classes. It's in the same boat as Impure Prince--loses a CL to start with, but then you get 4 levels of +1 BAB and +1 CL to play with, and a relevant smite-esque ability and the Heroic Spirit feat. Eldritch Knight doesn't have the tax problem, but it's more bland.

    Urban Savant (Cityscape): A 1 or 2-level dip loses a point of BAB, but allows you to cast in light armor. However, the problem is that you have to have bardic knowledge to get in...and bards can already cast in light armor. So you're paying a feat tax (what is with all the taxes!?) to do something you can already do. If the DM allows the replacement with Knowledge (History) ranks, this is significantly better, since you can then tack armored casting onto any casting class, without having to be a dwarf for Runesmith. Light armor, alone, is not that good, however. If you have to have that thingie to attach crystals and armor enchantments to, though...this lets you do it. If you're thinking about it, the Halfweight (Drow of the Underdark) enchantment would let you cast even in Mechanus Gear.

    Incantatrix (Player's Guide to Faerun): *drops mic, walks away*

    ...Okay, okay. You can Persist things with this if you pump your Spellcraft through the roof and are Int-based. This lets you keep the good gish spells on you all the time, so you don't have to use them repeatedly. However, this is notorious as the class that makes you slightly more powerful than the DM. Don't use unless your DM is prepared in advance that you will win D&D. You can get Iron Will through the Otyugh Hole in Complete Scoundrel, but I didn't need to mention that, since you're already the sort of player that does that if you play an Incantatrix.

    Spelldancer (Magic of Faerun): It has a four-feat tax--three if you don't count Combat Casting--but the Spelldance ability allows the user to persist spells if they dance a whole bunch. You will need some method of ignoring fatigue if you want to persist ALL THE THINGS, however. If you do, you can...well, Spelldancer is what makes Preya the Prismatic Priestess tick. It's also noteable for sharing two of its four taxes with Swiftblade, so the two can be taken together fairly easily.
    Last edited by Kazyan; 2013-12-27 at 01:09 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
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    Sample Builds

    These build are not ranked by color. Feel free to submit your own builds.

    The Standard Sorcadin: Paladin 2/Sorcerer 4/Spellsword 1/Abjurant Champion 5/Sacred Exorcist 8
    This is standard for a reason. Cha to saves, and Cha grants more turn attempts. Make it an Illumian for Persistent fun.

    The Standard Swiftblade: Gray Elf Martial Wizard 6/Swiftblade 9-10/Abjurant Champion 4-5
    A common way to Swiftblade, using Elven Wizard substitution levels, with the point of contention being whether you take 9 levels of swiftblade or 10--usually 9. Try swapping Gray Elf for Neraphim for better survivability.

    No Touchie: Duskblade 5/Abjurant Champion 5/Uncanny Trickster (AbjChamp) 3/Legacy Champion (Uncanny Trickster) 6/Bloodline 1
    +16 BAB, 5th level Duskblade spells, and an effective AbjChamp level of 13. Greater Luminous Armor and Shield combine for +48 to AC and -4 to hit you. That, and more skill tricks than anyone knows what to do with.

    Transcendent Immolation: Crusader or Warblade 1/Wu Jen 5/Jade Pheonix Mage 10/Abjurant Champion 4
    This is the simple way to get the Emerald Immolation + Transcendent Mortality thing going. Yes, 4 classes is "simple" for gish builds. That's just how it goes. This also has access to Body Outside Body.

    Wizard Outside Wizard: Paladin, Crusader, et al. 1/(Martial) Wizard 6/Spellsword 1/Abjurant Champion 5/Eldritch Knight 2/Wyrm Wizard 2/Eldritch Knight 3
    About the only way to hit the benchmark while getting Body Outside Body onto a Wizard, unless your DM rules that Extra Spell works that way.

    Melee Bard: Bard 8/Paladin of Freedom 2/Sublime Chord 2/Abjurant Champion 5/Sacred Exorcist 3
    Bard into Sublime Chord means you don't have to wait to gish.

    Ranged Bard: Ranged: Bard 8/Arcane Archer 2/Sublime Chord 2/Abjurant Champion 5/Ruathar 3
    Shoot AMF arrows and laugh.

    "Hax. I call hax.": Naenhoon Illumian Sorcerer 7 (Domain Access ACF: War Domain)/Abjurant Champion 5/Sacred Exorcist 1/??? 7
    Persist a Divine Power through Domain Access. The Martial Arcanist ability of Abjurant Champion sets your CL to your BAB. You now have CL and BAB equal to your character level, at level 13. Do whatever you want for the last 7 levels--maybe try some whacked-out CL shenanigans with Sublime Chord or Master Spellthief.

    Insert Casting Dip Here: Human Paragon 1/Fighter 1/Wizard 2/Human Paragon +2/Spellsword 1/Abjurant Champion 5/(INSERT DIP HERE) 1-4/Eldritch Knight 4-7
    If you like classes such as Incantatrix and Spelldancer or just want some wiggle room in your gish, this build has a slot for up to four levels of a 1/2 BAB full casting prestige class of your choice.

    Lazy Benchmarker: Stalwart Battle Sorcerer 7/Abjurant Champion 5/Sorcerer +8
    The simplest way to hit the benchmark.

    Disco Fever: Duskblade 13/Nar Demonbinder 2/Abjurant Champion 5
    Use Touch of Summoning or Arcane Disciple to qualify for Nar Demonbinder. Take Fey Bloodline from Dragon Compendium to get some nice bonus spells, the big one being Otto's Irresistable Dance. Enjoy the fact that you've got +19 BAB and 8th-level spells (9th with Versatile Spellcaster tricks), plus full attack channeling from Duskblade.

    Natural Attackstravaganza: Totemist 2/Wizard 3/Soulcaster 10/Abjurant Champion 5
    Lots of natural attacks mean that you don't have to care about the +16 BAB benchmark.
    Last edited by Kazyan; 2013-12-27 at 12:47 AM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
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    Divine or Psionic Gishes

    The reason arcane gishes have handbook and divine or psionic gishes have a single post is that...well...comparatively, the other two are easy. But here's an overview of non-arcane gishing methods.

    Divine Metamagic: Persistent Spell (Complete Divine and Complete Arcane): At the cost of three--probably four, since you likely need Extra Turning if you're not charisma-focused--feats, you can persist one divine spell of any level. The usual suggestion is to take the Planning and Undeath domains on a cleric of a cause, since that takes care of two of the feats, though the flavor is a bit wonky.

    Without stacking turning pools and such, this is basically paying feats to get full BAB in the form of Divine Power, allowing you to stop caring about the BAB of your divine prestige classes.

    With stacking turning pools, this can get very out of hand, and fast.

    Chameleon Double-Gish (Races of Destiny): Chameleon can be combined with DMM: Persist and the Divine Bard list for absurd power, and still have a second aptitude focus to get arcane spells. It's completely nuts.

    Archivist (Heroes of Horror): It lacks a turning pool, domain access, and 3/4 BAB, but being able to pick up any divine spell in the game is potent for a divine gish. Hunter's Eye comes to mind, but it's just one of many, many non-cleric spells a divine gish would love to have.

    Ur-Priest (Complete Divine): Two-feat tax for notorious accelerated casting progression, and a turning pool. Frees up levels to do other things with.

    Divine Oracle (Complete Divine): Maybe you want to get into Fochlucan Lyrist with a lenient DM or something; I dunno. For the cost of a Skill Focus, you can dip this for 2 levels as a diving caster and lose 1 BAB for a form of Evasion that works no matter what armor you wear. The Skill Focus can be acquired through Frog God's Fane in Complete Scorundrel, if you don't mind the metallic taste in your mouth and the Sumerian chanting in your dreams after you do so.

    Fochlucan Lyrist (Complete Adventurer): At first glance, this class is too good to be true. Full BAB, full divine casting advancement, and full arcane casting advancement. However, the prereqs are really hard to meet, and will cripple your advancement unless you do some summarily wacky things.

    Psychic Warrior (SRD): You want a psychic gish? Psychic warrior, done.

    Slayer (SRD): Lose an ML, gain lots of levels of +1 BAB/+1 ML.

    Ardent (Complete Psionic): The poorly-edited text allows an ardent to gain powers according to their ML, not their class level. Practiced Manifester means you can lose an extra 4 ML in your build. Go nuts.


    ...and with that, there's the handbook. I know the CO boards have a lot more collective wisdom out there, so please, comment if you want to bring something up.
    Last edited by Kazyan; 2013-12-27 at 01:04 AM.

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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    This... This is beautiful...
    Jon Snow and Ghost avatar (not currently in use) by Gurgleflep 15370262 328.
    How to play a monster.

    I am currently Very Busy, and having limited D&D activity, so I am currently inactive.
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  12. - Top - End - #12
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Yay for fun things!

    Also, lol at the Wu jen JPM combo.

    Couple of questions (I'm new to optimization/ a lot of books beyond complete/races)

    1. You mention Spelldancer in the Swiftblade entry. What is that?

    2. How would gish prestiges with no casting (I'm mostly looking at Arcane Archer) do with houserules giving some progression? What would be more balanced, half or 9/10 casting?

    3. Runesmith is actually really nice. Especially being a one level dip, I would almost say it's essential if you aren't going Abjurant Champion.
    I follow a general rule: better to ask and be told no than not to ask at all.

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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Nice guide! The previous one was kind of one-dimensional.

    A few things you might be interested in:
    • Outsider races in general. There are LA +0 Aasimar and Tieflings in the Savage Progressions article series, and quite a few of the Lesser planetouched races (including non-Core options) have bonkers stats and abilities, even if they lose proficiencies.
    • PrC-based casting lists - Subline Chord, Suel Arcanamach, Chameleon and to a lesser extent Knight of the Weave - all fill 10 levels with casting at least comparable to many of the "Gish in a Can" lists, leaving a lot of levels free to do things beside progress casting. Their casting won't always be the top of the tops, but they can often make longer splashes of Incarnum/ToB/whatever fit where they otherwise wouldn't.
    • Other 3/4 BA full casting PrCs - sometimes they play as second-rate Sacred Exorcists, but sometimes they're just what a build needs due to alignment, skill requirements, spell access and so forth. Ruathar is the big one, since it's filler levels that are usable for basically any build, but Master Harper is also pretty sweet for certain Ranger-based gishes.
    • Other Full BA, 1 CL loss PrCs - Cyran Avenger and Impure Prince from Magic of Eberron are the big ones, since their abilities are somewhat relevant.
    • Urban Savant (Cityscape) - kind of the same vein as Runesmith - a filler level with Armored casting and no CL loss.

    Fire Elf's also pretty nice. The Con penalty hurts, but Strength and Int bonuses and proficiencies for AbjChamp are pretty useful.

    Illumian . Even just keying bonus spells off Strength can, for a buffer, allow mental stats to take second or third priority behind combat spells. Or, more ambitiously, the race gets a mini-DMM and access to a cheaty way of qualifying for various PrCs with technically higher-level spells.

    Remembered that Gold means something different in this than certain other guides. >_<
    Last edited by Pluto!; 2013-12-24 at 07:04 PM.

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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Bard Gishes
    Melee: Bard 8/ Paladin of Freedom 2/ Sublime Chord 2/ Abjurant Champion 5/ Sacred Exorcist 3
    Ranged: Bard 8/ Arcane Archer 2/ Sublime Chord 2/ Anbjurant Champion 5/ Ruathar 3

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    Firbolg in the Playground

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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    I generally find the list casters to be better than the listing here would indicate.
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV. Play as me!


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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Woo, comments. I'll integrate the suggestions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pluto! View Post
    [LIST][*]Other 3/4 BA full casting PrCs - sometimes they play as second-rate Sacred Exorcists, but sometimes they're just what a build needs due to alignment, skill requirements, spell access and so forth. Ruathar is the big one, since it's filler levels that are usable for basically any build, but Master Harper is also pretty sweet for certain Ranger-based gishes.
    I'm not aware of all the 3/4 BAB and full-casting PrCs, but they're going alongside Sacred Exorcist soon.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    It's decent but has a number of holes in it.

    1) Martial Monk. One level lets you pick up one of the three mental ability scores to AC and gets you Weapon Supremacy (or any other Fighter Bonus Feat). A two level dip is something that I recommend to most every gish build around.

    2) Factotum 1 should be in any gish that is using Wizard (or other Int based casting class). Besides all skills as class skills, it lets you throw Int onto attack and damage rolls at will.

    3) You don't talk about Psion's. Psion's gish great. It's somewhat harder to pick up both the BAB and full manifesting but its doable and its basically Sorcerer only better. Especially with a Spell to Power Erudite and Psychic Chiguery to pick up any spells that you want. You can actually run a Psion 19/ Ardent 1 melee build that is pretty much a better gish than most any gish.

    4) Gray Elves make great races for Gish builds. They effectively pick up the same number of bonus feats as 6 levels of fighter while giving you and Int and Dex boost and qualifying you for Int to HP. Especially good when you go Necropolitan.

    5) You don't mention Ur-Priest. Factotum 8/ Martial Monk 2/ Ur-Priest 9/ Shiba Protector 1 (move Shiba down to whenever you qualify for it) is a great gestalt. Persistent Divine Power + Selective (You) Anti Magic Field gives you the BAB and extra attack in a manner that is incredibly difficult to remove (the AMF has to be disjoined before your PDP can be dispelled). Even without that though, you have Cunning Surge to make up for missing attacks.

    6) Factotum 8 is the exception to the idea that you need +16 BAB on a Gish. Factotum 8 lets you easily pick up the extra attack or two and do so at full AB while also letting your add in Int to AB. I actually tend to refuse to run any gish that doesn't have 8 levels of Factotum in it.

    Granted I also tend to do my prefered gish as Factotum 8/ Invisible Fist Decisive Strike Martial Monk 2/ Swashbuckler 3/ Ardent 2/ Psion (Telepath) 5. Magic Mantle allows you to throw both Practiced Manifester and Practiced Spellcaster onto Psion which gives you an ML of 13 and thus up to 84 or so extra PP from Int. For hilarious fun you can actually push your ML to absurd heights (PM and PS for Factotum, Ardent, and Psion before using Psiotheurgist between all three. Theoretically this should technically infinite loop your ML in a feedback loop, but no one will allow that. It still means an ML of 39 with just the PS/PM/Psiotheurgist combo). All done on a Necropolitan Gray Elf base.
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  18. - Top - End - #18
    Barbarian in the Playground

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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    You don't make any mention of divine gishes. DMM Cleric is basically divine gish in a can, and you can do some crazy gish tricks with DMM Chameleon, like persistent Bite of the Werebear, Nixie's Grace, Sirine's Grace, Greater Blink, and Lord of the Skies, all while still getting all of the persisting cleric staples (divine power, righteous wrath of the faithful, righteous might). A standard DMM Chameleon build would be:

    Factotum 1/Paladin4/C Cleric 1/Chameleon 10/Dread Necro 1/Filler 3 (3 more factotum, 3 levels swashbuckler, Tippy-style Martial Monk or various prestiges all work here, depending on how you have your other stats and feats).

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Sep 2011

    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Re: No mentioning divine or psionic gishes. This handbook deals with arcane gishes because that's the usual use of the term, but hey, I reserved a post for a reason.

    Re: Tippy. Welp, the purple font was underused anyway.

    Now, I'm going to a movie soon, but I will get back to this and fix it up with the board's suggestions.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Ogre in the Playground

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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    I think putting the source for all the non-core stuff would make the handbook a lot more user friendly, especially for the people who'd get the most out of it.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Titan in the Playground
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    Jan 2007
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Agreed. Also, since you did mention that your focus is on the Arcane gish (I agree, it is the most prevalent), you may want to edit the title to reflect that.
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  22. - Top - End - #22
    Dwarf in the Playground

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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Looks like pretty sound advice. Since you have Wyrm Wizard on your list, I'd suggest mentioning Recaster as well. Five level PrC from Races of Eberron P157, does basically the same thing. Requires Changeling, only loses one CL (at first level). Despite the name, the book is technically not setting-specific, if it makes a difference.

    While I'm very pleased that you got my favorite spell, Heroics has a range of Touch, and thus can't be persisted without shenanigans or a rather odd reading of Persist Spell. It can be extended, though, and already has a 10 min/level duration. Plus, it's touch, so fun for the whole party. It's actually pretty good in wands as well; you're basically spending 80 GP to get a feat for 30 minutes.

    Also, Arcane disciple has a fiddly bit to it: you add the spells from the domain to your list, but you can only prepare each spell once per day. So taking the War domain lets you use scrolls of Divine Power, but you're limited to one casting from spell slots every day, which can be a problem if you run into a dispeller. An Incantatrix can persist from a scroll, for what it's worth.

    Speaking of, Incantatrix. A gish build is probably the least cheesy thing you can do with this class. It's still kinda disgusting, though.

    No mention of the Artificer makes me very sad. Although a meleeficer or archerficer is basically whole guide in its own right...

    I've been trying to find a way to combo AbjChamp 5 with Divine Power to end up with a BAB 20 CL 20 character; unfortunately the most reliable method I could come up with doesn't come online until around level 15. If you find something, I'd be very interested.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    I'm editing the handbook, right now. Construction signs go here.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Barbarian in the Playground

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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    If Suel Archanamach gets a mention, why not Pious Templar? One of the very few ways to get mettle, plus full BAB. Its native casting is paladin/blackguard, and therefore bad, but the progression is faster than paladins (still don't take it for the spells).

    I really like this HB though. Thank you.

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    I think that you should separate out builds and build templates. Since Gishes are so constrained, it's good to highlight what can be reasonably changed and what can't without changing other stuff.

    One nice build template:

    Human Paragon 1/Fighter 1/Wizard 2/Human Paragon +2/Spellsword 1/Abjurant Champion 5/1/2 BAB 2-4/Eldritch Knight X

    Wizard gish that fits two to four levels of 1/2 BAB in, for Spelldancer, Incantatrix, Wyrm Wizard, etc.
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  26. - Top - End - #26
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    I wish to inquire as to why ruin delver's fortune hasn't made the list, and I'm also curious why wings of flurry isn't there beside its lesser brethren.
    If all rules are suggestions what happens when I pass the save?

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Urpriest View Post
    I think that you should separate out builds and build templates. Since Gishes are so constrained, it's good to highlight what can be reasonably changed and what can't without changing other stuff.

    One nice build template:

    Human Paragon 1/Fighter 1/Wizard 2/Human Paragon +2/Spellsword 1/Abjurant Champion 5/1/2 BAB 2-4/Eldritch Knight X

    Wizard gish that fits two to four levels of 1/2 BAB in, for Spelldancer, Incantatrix, Wyrm Wizard, etc.
    I actually was going to have a "Gish LEGOs" sections for build templates that could be fitted together, but I dropped the idea for lack of LEGOs. I will make a note next to builds that can be easily modified.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Xervous View Post
    I wish to inquire as to why ruin delver's fortune hasn't made the list, and I'm also curious why wings of flurry isn't there beside its lesser brethren.
    RDF is now on the list. Wings of Flurry is more of a blasty spell than a gish spell, though.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    Gishes don't mind a backup blast spell or two, particularly if they have the ability scores for it.

    Class-wise, definitely mention the other Persist options:
    - Spelldancer [Magic of Faerun]
    - Tainted Scholar/derivatives [Heroes of Horror/earlier sources]

    Also worth mentioning, Halruaan Elder/Hathran/Dweomerkeeper/etc. for their well-known qualities in assisting caster builds do fun stuff. Circle magic, supernatural spells, spontaneous casting, et cetera. All useful particularly for persisting but in general for long duration buffs.

    Also, I think Devotion feats deserve a mention, particularly since Sacred Exorcist is a natural combination to some class setups (for instance, Pally 2/Sorc 4/Spellsword 1/Abjurant Champ 5/Sacred Exorcist 8).

    Also, linking Polymorph compilations for all the Polymorph-spells (separate ones for Alter Self, Polymorph & Shapechange) is probably a good idea since each of those spells alone need whole handbooks. Covering Summon Monsters that can buff you/combine well with you in combat might also be of interest, or at least linking a Summon Monster handbook of some sort.
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    Default Re: The Gish Handbook

    It should be noted that the Martial Adepts, although lacking true Martial Weapon proficiency, gain the ability to recover maneuvers in the middle of combat. And while a 1 level dip will not net you anything spectacular, you CAN pick up additional maneuvers through feats or items.

    Aim for low level maneuvers that are powerful for their level (White Raven Tactics, Iron Heart Surge). Iron Heart Surge in particular, may be worth investing a feat in, giving a Warblade-based gish the ability to reliably shut down AMFs (as well as get himself out of all sorts of situations in general).

    Alternatively, you can pick up high level maneuvers that do not have onerous requirements (Shadow Blink, Mountain Tombstone Strike), or which you gun for by investing in the prerequisite maneuvers (e.g. a 1 level Crusader dip can pick up both level 1 Devoted Spirit strikes, and Martial Spirit Stance, which counts as 3 Maneuvers in all, and qualifies him to learn Strike of Righteous Vitality from an item).
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