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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Mar 2021

    d20 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    So...Old friends want to fire up a 3.5e game.

    I haven't looked at 3.5 in ages, but I know I gotta be careful to strike the fine line between gimp monster-fodder and that Kobold Cleric of Bahamut that I swear I wouldn't turn into a game-breaking CoDzilla, just a bit more opti...no, that path leads to madness.

    Anyway. As free will is an illusion and all my decisions were predetermined at the time of the Big Bang, I woke up this morning with an Arctic Elf berserker character concept wedged firmly in my mind. A bit of google fu turned up an interesting Two-Weapon Fighting Elf Berserker Build:

    https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/49290/how-to-optimize-a-twf-barbarian-elf

    (I'd imbed that but I'm apparently not authorized at Clearance Level Red to do so)

    I know I don't know enough to know if that's as viable and/or cromulent as it sounds, but I trust the fine folks here more than elsewhere on the internet because reasons. (That's a lie, it's just my instincts, but they've kept me alive so far...so far...)

    The other way I was thinking of going was start Barbarian, divert into Dungeoncrashing, finding a way to get embiggened by mid-levels and go War Hulk. Because it would entertain me.

    Mind you, I'm not looking for optimal...I mean, that ship sailed with the Kobold...just wondering if either idea is possible to do without becoming the useless melee dude who didn't wanna play to optimal tropes.

    Thoughts? Derision? Witty reparte?

    -Jn-
    Ifriti Sophist

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    The usual questions:

    What's your table's (expected) optimization level? What's your group's (expected) party mix, both in terms of intended roles/concepts and the execution of those concepts?

    The entire build presented in the post you linked looks like it would be a lot of fun.

    A sweet little combo that you could slot in somewhere into that build is this: barbarian 1 with pounce and whirling frenzy ACFs, binder 1 binding Amon. You'd get three attacks on a charge, as early as level 2! You can continue to add binder levels, if you want to go that route, or you can switch to Naberius or some other high-level-friendly low-level vestige once Amon is outclassed.

    Alternatively, you can also do straight warblade -> eternal blade and focus on maneuvers that allow you to make more than one attack in a round (either by moving without using your move or standard action, or by explicitly having you make more than one attack during a standard action strike).
    Excel sheet for 3.5 -- Native support for stacking rules and multiple forms; as lightweight as possible otherwise. (links currently broken, if you want a copy LMK)

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Mar 2021

    Default Re: 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    Thanks. Appreciate the assessment and recommendations.

    Yeah, it looked fun -- I didn't want to Dunnings-Kruger myself.

    The GM and myself are the only ones likely to delve too deeply into high levels of optimization -- GM's good enough not to drop anything too horrific on us unless we ask for it, and I'm aware enough of my foibles to hopefully avoid asking for it...mostly.

    Only other character that is a solid concept in the party is a Dwarf Paladin -- I've got to pick his brain and see if he's going with that, we've all been out of the game for awhile.


    -Jn-

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Dec 2010

    Default Re: 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    Hmm, what about:

    Lion Totem Barbarian 1/Warblade 4/Revenant Blade 5/Eternal Blade 10

    Initiator level 17 is nice and you TWF with a good, elf specific, double weapon.

    Be a frost elf for +2 Dex/-2 Cha since you really need your con score as a front liner.

    Have fun.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Troll in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    If you don't expect the rest o the table to do any optimization, I'd recommend aiming a little lower than dungeoncrasher and war hulk- I feel like either the kobold penalty is enough that your shtick is so unreliable it won't be fun, or you'll power through it (you did say you were going to seek size-increasing) and still be a dungeoncrashing war hulk.

    As for my recommendation: how about some Frostrager? Even fits with the Arctic Elf. Change your rage from AC-dumping to AC-boosting, punch and rend things with icicles on one or both hands, heal from cold damage for inter-party combo opportunities.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Maat Mons's Avatar

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    Default Re: 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    Two-Weapon Fighting doesn't synergize with Power Attack. I mean, you can combine them, if you really want. But you can't use a light weapon without severely handicapping yourself.

    Two-Weapon Fighting is a massive feat investment. Three feats just for the TWF chain itself, if you go all the way. Then, since you need Dexterity to take those feats, you probably didn't manage to have a high Strength (unless you skimped on Con, which you shouldn't). So you'll need to pick up Weapon Finesse to use Dex instead of Str on attack rolls. And Shadow Blade if you also want to apply Dex to damage. And if you go Power Attack on top of that, there's not only Power Attack itself, but since Power Attack doesn't work with light weapons, you'll either be eating a -4 penalty to attack rolls, or you'll use yet another feat to take Oversized Two-Weapon Fighting, and get that down to the minimum -2 penalty for TWF.

    Power Attack can be a little feat-intensive, but it starts working just fine out-of-the-box with just the Power Attack feat. If you want to crank things up to ubercharger, you'll also need Leap Attack and Shock Trooper. And Shock Trooper requires Improved Bull Rush. You'll also want Pounce from some source or another, and it doesn't hurt to have swift-action movement, so your enemies can't circumvent your tactic by standing close to you.



    Did you mean you were planning to use Arctic Elf, the race presented in Unearthed Arcana? Or did you mean you were planning to use the Arctic Template from Dragon 306 (p61) and apply it to one of the Elf subraces?

    Arctic Elf (UA) and Desert Elf (also UA) are better than most elves, since they have no Con penalty. But for melee characters, I'd usually prefer Painted Elf (Sandstorm) or Snow Elf (Frostburn). Those two also have no Con penalty. But they don't trade it for a Str penalty the way Arctic and Desert do.

    If Dragon magazine is on the table, a High Elf with the Arctic Template applied has the same +2 Dex, -2 Cha as Snow Elf. If your DM allows you to apply Arctic to any elven subrace, you could apply it to Wood Elf (MM) for +2 Str, +2 Dex, -2 Int, -2 Cha. Or apply it to Star Elf for no ability score adjustments. Or Snow Elf for +2 Dex, +2 Con, -4 Cha.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Mar 2014

    Default Re: 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeNapalm View Post
    Thanks. Appreciate the assessment and recommendations.

    Yeah, it looked fun -- I didn't want to Dunnings-Kruger myself.

    The GM and myself are the only ones likely to delve too deeply into high levels of optimization -- GM's good enough not to drop anything too horrific on us unless we ask for it, and I'm aware enough of my foibles to hopefully avoid asking for it...mostly.

    Only other character that is a solid concept in the party is a Dwarf Paladin -- I've got to pick his brain and see if he's going with that, we've all been out of the game for awhile.


    -Jn-
    Dwarf Paladin doesn't say a ton, but I think what it does primarily say is two things: (1) in combat, they are probably going to hit things and sometimes cast stuff, and (2) they aren't going to be super optimized. This would lean me away from some of the higher-powered melee options; the barbarian pounce ACF, for example, might outshine at this table. Whirling frenzy might outshine as well.

    What level are you starting at? If you're starting early enough, you could also pick something flexible for the first couple levels, see where things go, and then optimize to the table with your later choices. A build I've had in my back pocket for a while centered around TWF (that I haven't had the opportunity to play yet) is this:

    Human

    Warblade 1 - Combat Expertise, Two-Weapon Fighting
    Duskblade 1
    Fighter 1 - Weapon Focus: scimitar, (Expeditious) Dodge; skill trick: Extreme Leap
    Warblade 2
    Fighter 2 - Mobility
    Dervish 1-4 - Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Critical: scimitar; skill trick: Acrobatic Backstab
    Blade Dancer 1-2
    Dervish 6-10 - Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Acrobatic Strike
    Blade Dancer 3-5 - Elusive Target

    This build is *not* optimized in the slightest, it's just trying to attack attack attack attack. It even takes the whole TWF chain! Dervish is a great class for this, getting you the ability to dance around the battlefield while making your attacks (and the thousand cuts capstone while, again, probably not "optimized", looks like hella fun). Blade Dancer is here for big bonuses to acrobatic skills for easier mobility.

    While not optimized, I think this build *is* pretty flexible. You can skip the skill tricks if you want; you can use Gloves of the Balanced Hand instead of the later TWF feats if you want; you can pull back and focus more on defense if you want; you could slip in a level of Barbarian if you want (possibly replacing Warblade levels if maneuvers is too much). If you want to be an Elf badly enough, instead of that bonus feat you could swap the Warblade levels for Ranger to get TWF at Ranger 2. If you're not interested in Blade Dancer you can skip Duskblade. Etc etc etc. All this stuff will result in incremental change rather than causing the whole thing to fall apart.

    Heck if dervish dance as a whole looks like it's shaping up to be too powerful at your table, or maybe more than 1/day or whatever, you can ditch the Dervish plan entirely/partially and continue picking up fighter levels, or maybe duskblade levels and get arcane channeling going. The class names don't really say "berserker" per se, but you could easily play it that way if you wanted to!

    EDIT: I apparently also took some notes on the choices made in this build and how I might have played the early levels

    Ordering of the first five levels is designed to (1) qualify for Dervish, (2) get second-level maneuvers (so Warblade 2 is at 4th or later), and to a much lesser extent (3) maximize HP and skill points by taking Warblade 1 at 1.

    Warblade 1 maneuvers are wolf fang strike, sudden leap, and leading the attack. Stance is up in the air but it looks like I'd have picked punishing stance. Equip a scimitar and a short sword to be able to get two attacks with either sudden leap + full attack, or wolf fang strike.

    Duskblade 1sts are obscuring mist and swift expeditious retreat; defense and mobility will be your weaknesses this early. 0s don't really matter (there are only four and you get three of them; the main point of note is whether disrupt undead should be on your list which is entirely campaign dependent)

    My Warblade 2 maneuver of choice is mountain hammer. The floor on this maneuver is "just" 2d6 bonus damage. It's also a fantastic maneuver for "picking locks" since it overcomes hardness ;)
    Last edited by rrwoods; 2021-03-04 at 07:55 PM.
    Excel sheet for 3.5 -- Native support for stacking rules and multiple forms; as lightweight as possible otherwise. (links currently broken, if you want a copy LMK)

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Mar 2021

    Default Re: 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Maat Mons View Post
    If Dragon magazine is on the table, a High Elf with the Arctic Template applied has the same +2 Dex, -2 Cha as Snow Elf. If your DM allows you to apply Arctic to any elven subrace, you could apply it to Wood Elf (MM) for +2 Str, +2 Dex, -2 Int, -2 Cha. Or apply it to Star Elf for no ability score adjustments. Or Snow Elf for +2 Dex, +2 Con, -4 Cha.
    I was looking at doing the Dragon #306 Arctic Template over the top of Wood Elf, didn't even notice the UA Arctic Elf...but somehow hadn't considered my STR and DEX bonuses as equal.

    I guess that really opens up my options, as I wouldn't necessarily have to go the dex-monkey route at all.

    Oh my. So...many...options...!

    So, sheer maths...now I gotta really think is TWF worth the deep dive...

    I'm going to need more booze and a night light....

    Many thanks, folks.


    -Jn-

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    Hiya, sounds like fun.
    Let's see twf raging elf immediately takes me to Wildrunner from races of the wild.
    I'm thinking something like
    1: Champion of the wild Ranger - Improved Unarmed Strike, track
    2: Barbarian
    3: Ranger - Twf style, frozen berserker
    4: Ranger - endurance
    5: Fighter - Power Attack
    6: Ranger (swap animal companion for distracting attack), improved two weapon fighting, extra rage
    7: Frostrager
    8: Wildrunner
    9: Wildrunner - improved natural attack: unarmed Strike
    10: Wildrunner
    11: Wildrunner
    12: Wildrunner - Greater Two Weapon Fighting
    13: Wildrunner
    14: Frostrager
    15: Frostrager - Two weapon Rend
    16: Frostrager
    17: Wildrunner
    18: Wildrunner - Two weapon pounce
    19: Wildrunner
    20: Wildrunner

    You are dual wielding your unarmed Strike which deals 2d6 plus 1d6 cold. You have full bab, flank by yourself, 8 attacks on a full attack, can only pounce at the beginning of combat, otherwise are limited to only two hits on a charge, heal by cold, and your still a barbarian. Bonus points for track, scent, and survival. You aren't a powerful ubercharger at all. Oh and you kept Rend.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    Yeah, I was looking at Wildrunner from the original build -- I really like how that meshes with the concept.

    Does Power Attack work with TWF? I guess it would, just more missing?

    It occurs to me with +2 STR/DEX I'm slightly less Feat Poor as I don't have to pursue all the "use DEX vs STR" stuff.



    -Jn-

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Maat Mons's Avatar

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    Default Re: 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    Power Attack works with Two-Weapon Fighting. But it doesn't work with light weapons. So you kind of need to wield two one-handed weapons. But yeah, once you're doing that, it's the same total damage output as as power attacking with one weapon in two hands, except for all the extra misses.

    I guess you could do a Revenant Blade build. It lets you Two-Weapon Fight with both weapons counting as two-handed. But you're locked into one particular weapon. And it's kind of a silly one that's trying too hard to be cool.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Falontani View Post
    Hiya, sounds like fun.
    Let's see twf raging elf immediately takes me to Wildrunner from races of the wild.
    I'm thinking something like
    1: Champion of the wild Ranger - Improved Unarmed Strike, track
    2: Barbarian
    3: Ranger - Twf style, frozen berserker
    4: Ranger - endurance
    5: Fighter - Power Attack
    6: Ranger (swap animal companion for distracting attack), improved two weapon fighting, extra rage
    7: Frostrager
    8: Wildrunner
    9: Wildrunner - improved natural attack: unarmed Strike
    10: Wildrunner
    11: Wildrunner
    12: Wildrunner - Greater Two Weapon Fighting
    13: Wildrunner
    14: Frostrager
    15: Frostrager - Two weapon Rend
    16: Frostrager
    17: Wildrunner
    18: Wildrunner - Two weapon pounce
    19: Wildrunner
    20: Wildrunner

    You are dual wielding your unarmed Strike which deals 2d6 plus 1d6 cold. You have full bab, flank by yourself, 8 attacks on a full attack, can only pounce at the beginning of combat, otherwise are limited to only two hits on a charge, heal by cold, and your still a barbarian. Bonus points for track, scent, and survival. You aren't a powerful ubercharger at all. Oh and you kept Rend.
    This is a pretty good build here are some thoughts to make it slightly better, first off if you are taking frozen berserker it is very advisable to fit in flaming berserker too as then you are immune to cold and fire damage. If you take your barbarian level at level 1 you can take City Brawler ACF (drag mag) which replaces proficiency with martial weapons, medium armor, and shields with Improved Unarmed Strike and f Two-Weapon Fighting feats. that opens you up to getting flaming berserker at level 1 and maybe a different feat with ranger 2. Also taking the lion totem spirit AFC would open up your 18th level feat like superior unarmed strike or snapkick. Heck you could even take whirling frenzy for more attacks.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    This is a pretty good build here are some thoughts to make it slightly better, first off if you are taking frozen berserker it is very advisable to fit in flaming berserker too as then you are immune to cold and fire damage. If you take your barbarian level at level 1 you can take City Brawler ACF (drag mag) which replaces proficiency with martial weapons, medium armor, and shields with Improved Unarmed Strike and f Two-Weapon Fighting feats. that opens you up to getting flaming berserker at level 1 and maybe a different feat with ranger 2. Also taking the lion totem spirit AFC would open up your 18th level feat like superior unarmed strike or snapkick. Heck you could even take whirling frenzy for more attacks.
    agreed with most of this; I don't use dragon mag and didn't know if op was ok with it, but also built the char for less power specifically because of the optimization level he has explained about his group. I figured leaving in the glaring weakness vs fire (the most prominent energy type) would bring down the character's op level, and not touching superior unarmed strike would make it easier to figure out exactly what your unarmed damage is supposed to be. Snapkick, whirling frenzy, and actual pounce are all exceptional things that would be great here.

    Also forgot to mention, have enough dex for improved two weapon fighting and no more. Primal Scream will allow you to qualify for Greater Two Weapon Fighting once you have screamed, so you don't need to pump your dex anymore. You could delay Ranger 4 and improved two weapon fighting until after you get primal scream in order to only need 13 dex on the character. Your main stats are Str, Con, and Cha. In that order. Your dex is entirely for prereq purposes.

    Using Unarmed strikes means that you get full benefit from power attack, while counting your offhand as a light weapon. You also get a bite that I forgot to mention, which will also benefit from the power attack. Biggest thing to worry about is the flurry of misses, -2 to hit from using twf, means that with Power Attack you are already 2 points behind. Remember that there is no shame in just using your iteratives on a round to save yourself the -2 penalty.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    I feel like telling the ghost of Gary Gygax to hold your beer is a good way to suddenly stop being the GM, but I have to admit that this would probably be remarkably effective. At what, I dunno, but effective.
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  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: 3.5e Elf Berserker Build Advice

    If you want alternative build options to choose, I could offer a Berserker Elf build of mine.
    It's one of mine older Driving Attack builds (the first of the four). It's a mounted ubercharger build that can send your enemies flying (similar to Knockback but better. It just comes online late..). Whirlwind lets you attack anything in reach. Can maintain a high AC if wanted.
    Orochimaru, the ultimate villain
    El Mariachi dual double-hand-crossbow action
    Papa Smurf a Redcap Lion of Talisid (ubercharger/gish)
    Hellfire Escalation Glaivelock a Killer Kobold build
    Hammerdin of Moradin a guide to epic hammer throwing
    Almighty Claw of Malar monk/warlock gish (with minor DBZ-SSJ fluff)
    TO: BoBaFeat Body outside Body & Void Disciple 4 to break the game.

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