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    Default Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Hey guys, I just wanted to know what some people thought of some of the alternate class features presented throughout the books. Which ones you think are best, which ones you think are worthless; but most importantly, I have a few questions on the ones below:

    Berserker Strength (Barbarian, Player's Handbook II): This barbarian variant allows you to enter some kinda "Super-rage" when reduced pretty low in hit points. I've never seen this feature commented on; is it at all useful?

    Shapeshifter (Druid, Player's Handbook II): I see it mentioned every-so-often but I don't know how it actually compares to what you lose.

    Divine Spirits (Paladin, Dungeonscape): I personally think it looks awesome, but is it really as useful as it seems?

    Battle Sorcerer (Sorcerer, Unearthed Arcana): Fun? Useful? I've never gotten the chance to bring one into play for an extended period.

    Spontaneous Dispel (Wizard, Unearthed Arcana): Dropping known spells to cast Dispel Magic and Greater Dispel Magic sounds really useful, but is it worth losing spell slots?

    Fiendish Flamewreath (Warlock, Player's Handbook II): It looks flavorful, but is it worth giving up Fiendish Resilience?

    Dragonscale Husk (Fighter OR Cleric OR Paladin, any class that grants heavy armor, Dragon Magic): You lose Heavy Armor proficiency to grow scaly medium-armor that also gives Energy resistance. It sounds nice, but it also says it doesn't stack with any other AC bonus...

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by Xallace; 2008-10-16 at 07:00 AM.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Shapeshifter is worse than regular druid, but the more relevant point is that it's more balanced than the top-tier regular druid. It's also less bookkeeping for the player involved.

    Battle Sorc isn't worth it as a gish; Duskblade and a variety of other gish classes are better. Admittedly the BS gets 9th-level spells eventually, but if your character goal is to get 9th-level spells, that raises the question why you're playing a gish in the first place.

    Spont Dispel isn't worth losing spell slots on unless you're an Ultimate Magus.

    Flamewreath is worse then resilience.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    Hey guys, I just wanted to know what some people thought of some of the alternate class features presented throughout the books. Which ones you think are best, which ones you think are worthless; but most importantly, I have a few questions on the ones below:

    Berserker Strength (Barbarian, Player's Handbook II): This barbarian variant allows you to enter some kinda "Super-rage" when reduced pretty low in hit points. I've never seen this feature commented on; is it at all useful?
    It ONLY activates when you are low health, which severely nerfs it's use. Considering you probably don't want to get that low to begin with, or if you do, you want the party healbot to bring you back up rather than charge in the midst of battle, this is a trap.

    Shapeshifter (Druid, Player's Handbook II): I see it mentioned every-so-often but I don't know how it actually compares to what you lose.
    It doesn't, that's the point. This is more for the GM's to rule "All druids in my campaign do this rather than standard wildshape" to avoid DruidZillas.

    Divine Spirits (Paladin, Dungeonscape): I personally think it looks awesome, but is it really as useful as it seems?
    Haven't had a chance to see it yet, so cannot comment.

    Battle Sorcerer (Sorcerer, Unearthed Arcana): Fun? Useful? I've never gotten the chance to bring one into play for an extended period.
    Trap. In exchange for getting FEWER spells known, you get 3/4 BAB and the ability to cast in light armor at no penalty. I'd rather play a straight Sorcerer with +1 Twilight Mithral Chain Shirt, which can also cast without ASF. 1/2 vs 3/4 is almost a non-issue when you can pick up True Strike as a Spell Known.

    Spontaneous Dispel (Wizard, Unearthed Arcana): Dropping known spells to cast Dispel Magic and Greater Dispel Magic sounds really useful, but is it worth losing spell slots?
    I haven't seen it, but it doesn't sound very useful. Lots of ways to be able to spointaniously cast Dispel Magic that don't involve screwing your spell slots.

    Fiendish Flamewreath (Warlock, Player's Handbook II): It looks flavorful, but is it worth giving up Fiendish Resilience?
    Actually, Fiendish Resilience isn't all that good, so this is a better deal than it seems. IIRC, it lets you do your EB damage to anyone attacking you, right? Very worth it, and the sheer intimidation value is just schweet.

    Dragon Skin/Armor (Fighter OR Cleric OR Paladin, Dragon Magic): You lose Heavy Armor proficiency to grow scaly medium-armor that also gives Energy resistance. It sounds nice, but it also says it doesn't stack with any other AC bonus...
    Natural armor generally cannot be enchanted, which is the big downside normally. If it can be enchanted like normal armor, it might be worth it, depending on how the numbers crunch.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    Berserker Strength (Barbarian, Player's Handbook II): This barbarian variant allows you to enter some kinda "Super-rage" when reduced pretty low in hit points. I've never seen this feature commented on; is it at all useful?
    Not worth it outside extreme niché builds (Pain Mastery high HP Frenzy-builds that basically spend all their time in low enough HP to activate this without just rolling over and dying). Basically, you want Rage from the beginning of combat, not when you're about to roll over as it doesn't stop you from rolling over. Even worse, it doesn't even increase your HP total, so usually it's just begging for the opponents to focus on your as you go really strong when you're about to die. Normal Rage is much better (although I'd still rather pick Whirling Frenzy [Unearthed Arcana] or Ferocity [Cityscape Web Enhancement])

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    Shapeshifter (Druid, Player's Handbook II): I see it mentioned every-so-often but I don't know how it actually compares to what you lose.
    Oh, it's nowhere near as good as Wildshape. The thing is, Wildshape is broken as is Druid in general. This can be used to slightly tone down Druid's power, where it works admirably. Of course, there's the benefit of gaining something already level 1 so it isn't strictly worse than Wildshape - just worse level 6 onwards.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    Divine Spirits (Paladin, Dungeonscape): I personally think it looks awesome, but is it really as useful as it seems?
    Well, it's decent. However, the thing is, you give up the only thing that makes it worth being a Paladin in the first place - the Mount. It also means that you'll want to take a crapton of Paladin-levels, which kinda sucks. The abilities are decent, but Spirit of Healing isn't very good for in-combat healing as it requires a Standard Action plus summoning the Spirit and no movement, and for out-of-combat healing, Wands already cover most of your needs.

    Spirit of Combat is quite decent although some Cleric-buffs overlap with it. Spirit of Heroism is bleh (spells do the same thing better) and Spirit of the Fallen comes really late. Overall, the fact that they require actions and can be dispelled makes them somewhat weak. Still, if you're hellbent on playing a Paladin over a Cleric for whatsoever reason and hellbent on not gaining a Mount, and have the stats to pull it off, go ahead and pick it up. It's not that powerful, but it has its uses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    Battle Sorcerer (Sorcerer, Unearthed Arcana): Fun? Useful? I've never gotten the chance to bring one into play for an extended period.
    For "easy gishes". That said, the fact that they lose one spell known per level is really annoying and makes them very impractical for more experienced players, or players who want to have more than one option per level.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    Spontaneous Dispel (Wizard, Unearthed Arcana): Dropping known spells to cast Dispel Magic and Greater Dispel Magic sounds really useful, but is it worth losing spell slots?
    It's quite solid (as Abjuration is very shallow and thus the lost specialist spells aren't that crippling in the first place). That said, it requires being an Abjurer and taking 5 levels in Wizard, which is tough. If specializing though, I'd basically always suggest those specialist ACFs as it gives the character the "feel" of specialization in some specific school (just being a normal specialist tends to be barely visible).

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    Fiendish Flamewreath (Warlock, Player's Handbook II): It looks flavorful, but is it worth giving up Fiendish Resilience?
    Not worth it - it requires melee attacks and the damage is really small (and of a commonly resisted type). Furthermore, reach weapons and such are totally immune. Overall, the damage is too low to really matter at those levels (you only get it on level 8!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    Dragon Skin/Armor (Fighter OR Cleric OR Paladin, Dragon Magic): You lose Heavy Armor proficiency to grow scaly medium-armor that also gives Energy resistance. It sounds nice, but it also says it doesn't stack with any other AC bonus...
    The energy resistances are nice, but accessible through spellcasting. Having so low Dex limitation and unavoidable ACP really hurts - while you save money with that, normal armor is usually just better as the composite bonus is greater (Husk maxes out at 12+2, while +5 Mithril Breastplate is 5+5+5, and Fullplate or Padded Leather are one higher, with +5 Celestial Armor being two higher - that, and you can afford the manufactured armors earlier), and you can add special abilities to it. That said, Dragonscale Husk is a flavourful ability.
    Last edited by Eldariel; 2008-10-15 at 09:06 AM.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    I'm a fan of most of the Dungeonscape variants (especially the Paladin and Ranger ones).

    Dragon Skin looks like it would be quite good, if only for the fact that it's free. Accessible WBL is a good thing, especially because the AC increases as you go up in level. That being said, you'd have to be fine with almost always having less armor than any other frontline-type.

    One of my favorite ACF's is Hit-and-run fighter from Drow of the Underdark. +2 to initiative and Dex bonus to attacks against flat-footed enemies for the cost of heavy armor proficiency/tower shield proficiency for a fighter? Yes, please!

    I haven't looked at the Complete Champion ones much, because most of that book isn't worth looking at or is a little too good (Lion Totem Barbarian, etc), in my opinion.
    Last edited by Andras; 2008-10-15 at 09:05 AM.

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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    I like Shapeshifter much more than the usual Wild Shape, though it is indeed weaker. We are playing in a world in which there are no wildshape druids, just variants - most druids are shapeshift. This results in all druids of 2nd level or higher travelling fast, via woodland stride and a 50' movement rate. Explains how they can keep tabs on a large area. Even 1st level druids do o.k. with a survival check. By 5th level they can fly and use Cloud Wings to boost flight speed for 1hour/level, allowing them to survey even more territory. Fits really well with the idea of druids looking after large territories, which is otherwise much harder for low level characters.

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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Berserker Strength (Barbarian, Player's Handbook II): - looks like a trap. Take a kicking to 50% hp(?) before you can rage? No thanks.

    Shapeshifter (Druid, Player's Handbook II): - standard for druids IMG. More balanced and much simpler to adjudicate than wildbreak.

    Divine Spirits (Paladin, Dungeonscape): - don't have Dungeonscape. Sounds fun though.

    Battle Sorcerer (Sorcerer, Unearthed Arcana): - Never used. *Meh*

    Spontaneous Dispel (Wizard, Unearthed Arcana): - Not used. Looks interesting. Might have to go over the UA sections of the SRD again.

    Fiendish Flamewreath (Warlock, Player's Handbook II): - so-so. The entire Warlock class is a matter of sublime indifference to me though.
    Last edited by bosssmiley; 2008-10-15 at 09:23 AM.

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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    The Totem Barbarian alternate class features from Complete Champion are good (Some of them at least).

    Dungeoncrasher Variant for fighters from Dungeonscape is also pretty fun, not to mention abusable with other feats which shall not be named.

    A lot of the wizard Alternate class features which make you lose your familiar tend to be useful, compared to a familiar at least.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Quote Originally Posted by jcsw View Post
    A lot of the wizard Alternate class features which make you lose your familiar tend to be useful, compared to a familiar at least.
    I personally like the one from Dragon Magic that gives your familiar a Breath Weapon. That always struck me as something that would be a lot of fun, even if it is usable only every-so-often.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    Hey guys, I just wanted to know what some people thought of some of the alternate class features presented throughout the books. Which ones you think are best, which ones you think are worthless; but most importantly, I have a few questions on the ones below:

    Berserker Strength (Barbarian, Player's Handbook II): This barbarian variant allows you to enter some kinda "Super-rage" when reduced pretty low in hit points. I've never seen this feature commented on; is it at all useful?

    Thanks in advance!
    You gain DR that stacks with other DR, increased saves (all not just Will like regular Barb), same AC penalty, but hp limit.

    The fact that it stacks with other DR is nifty. But the hp limit limits it. Plus, it encourages (forces) you to be mostly Barb classes to activate it. Other HD won't affect it.

    I would have changed it to:
    no AC penalty (you already have Hp issue) and this line
    "Whenever your current hit point total is below 5 x your Character level, your berserker strength automatically activates"

    That would have made it useful and still not overpowered.

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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xallace View Post
    Berserker Strength (Barbarian, Player's Handbook II): This barbarian variant allows you to enter some kinda "Super-rage" when reduced pretty low in hit points. I've never seen this feature commented on; is it at all useful?
    Actually someone did the math for this around here and there is a point where you'll pretty much always have it up. Since the threshold is 5 x your barbarian levels.

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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Quote Originally Posted by jcsw View Post
    The Totem Barbarian alternate class features from Complete Champion are good (Some of them at least).
    The Lion Totem ability is broken. Simple fix is to move it to 6th level, since that's when you get your iterative attack anyway, preventing it being the 1 level dip for everyone who wants free pounces.

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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    The thing with Battle Sorcerer is, if you want to play a gish, you'll probably be aiming for Eldritch Knight or some other such prestige class. With a battle sorc going into eldritch knight, you'll get your sorc BAB and HD replaced with that of the prestige class, but you continue advancing the same crippled spellcasting. So you keep on paying the cost, but stop gaining the benefit.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    I really like Battle Sorcerer's in theory; I like the thought of someone with innate magical powers being a bit hardier in a fight than someone who has to study endlessly for their powers. Unfortunately, mechanically it's not very viable, as others have mentioned.


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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    How would you improve Battle Sorcerers, Little_Rudo? Eldrich Knight always looked like a poor choice to me due to how it doesn't help you with ASF (unless you take a Fighter level 1 substitution to get Armoured Mage with Light rmour and Light Shields).
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    To be honest, ASF isn't a big problem for Gish builds, thanks to Mithral Chain Shirt. Let's face it, a Gish has far better ways to defend themselves than AC. Mirror Image, Displacement, Greater Invisibility... a Gish has more ways of preventing an attack than he knows what to do with.

    Battle Sorcerers were a good idea, but poor execution. A Pal2/Sorc4/SpellSword1/AbChamp5 build is WAY more powerful than a Battle Sorcerer 12 is. It has better BAB, better casting (even casting as a 10th level sorcerer is better than a 12th battle sorcerer, due to greater versitility), and better abilities in general (auto-quickened Shield which gives +9 to AC, auto-quickened Dispel Magic, casting stat to all saves...). And that's a fairly un-optimized build.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    I love how people throw in Abjurant Champion from Complete Mage to talk about how bad something from several years before Complete Mage was released is.

    "Battle Sorcerer sucks because you could do it with Abjurant Champion."

    I think that speaks more to the overpowered nature of later books, when things that come out later completely replace old ways of doing things... and they're spellcasting classes.
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    Battle sorcerers can make durable and flavorful blasters, since they have full CL. And they are also useful in low level games. I played one once in a game that ended at lvl 5 and I was quite pleased with the character from both, the fluff and mechanic point of view.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Also, why would burning turns and spell slots to compensate for poor AC be that good an idea? Also, don't forget that armour with less chance of ASF is more expensive then normal armour, which could be a problem (admittedly, I'm probably overestimating the cost of these things: I know a Mithril Chain Shirt would need the Twilight Enhancement to get ASF of 0%, unless I'm really confused about how it works).
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tempest Fennac View Post
    Also, why would burning turns and spell slots to compensate for poor AC be that good an idea? Also, don't forget that armour with less chance of ASF is more expensive then normal armour, which could be a problem (admittedly, I'm probably overestimating the cost of these things: I know a Mithril Chain Shirt would need the Twilight Enhancement to get ASF of 0%, unless I'm really confused about how it works).
    Ahh, but you see, you can either Auto-Quicken to get more armor than you would have been able to get normally, or you can just persist it and leave it on all day. As an example, Greater Mirror Image regenerates it's images, so you're looking at about a 12.5% chance of them even finding the right image, which is generally much better odds than you get with AC. Incantatrix is the easiest way to do it, but I'm sure there are others.

    And with Spellsword dip, you don't need Twilight, because Spellsword reduces ACF by 10%.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    If you want to have almost no spells known, but be able to wear armor and have decent BAB, be a Warlock. Seriously, Battle Sorcerer is horrid. Ignoring cantrips, a BS has 4 spells known at 5th level. That increases to 5 at 6th level. That barely qualifies as a Caster, IMHO. Greater Mage Armor is just as good as Mithral Breastplate, and it saves you WBL. Don't lose spells known for that.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    What are the prequisites for Spellswords? I know ACs aren;t that bad, but I wouldn't bother with a lot of PrCs due to their requirements (admittedly, I also hate the idea of multi-classing most of the time due to having trouble justifying it froma fluff perspective). Does anyone actually have any ideas for improving Battle Sorcerers which don't revolve around PrCs and multi-classing?
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Berserker Strength (Barbarian, Player's Handbook II): Only useful if you're going strait Barbarian in a low level campaign. A Barbarian 4/Whatever X with the Extra Rage feat has all the Rage he needs.

    Shapeshifter (Druid, Player's Handbook II): A huge nerf. But since Druids are already full casters with a solid spell list, this actually makes them a lot more balanced.

    Divine Spirits (Paladin, Dungeonscape): A Paladin's mount can easily be their most powerful class feature. But if you spend a lot of time in tight spaces and don't want to play a Small race with a Medium mount, this is an ok variant. Several PrC progress the Mount, so you're not necessarily limited to strait Paladin.

    Battle Sorcerer (Sorcerer, Unearthed Arcana): Another big nerf. But again, you're still a full caster.

    Spontaneous Dispel (Wizard, Unearthed Arcana): Depends, but I think its more nerf. Buy Wands as needed if you're worried about always having certain spells on hand.

    Fiendish Flamewreath (Warlock, Player's Handbook II): Meh. You trade one minor class feature for another. DR is more useful IMO.

    Dragon Skin/Armor (Fighter OR Cleric OR Paladin, Dragon Magic): Good at low level in that it saves you money. But at mid-higher level, the armor that you can buy will be much better. It arguably doesn't have a spell failure rate though, so you might use it for certain Gish builds.
    Last edited by Person_Man; 2008-10-15 at 01:46 PM.

  25. - Top - End - #25
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tempest Fennac View Post
    (unless you take a Fighter level 1 substitution to get Armoured Mage with Light rmour and Light Shields).
    That substitution doesn't work like you think it does, it only works for spells whose level is equal to half your fighter level.

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    A Pal2/Sorc4/SpellSword1/AbChamp5 build is WAY more powerful than a Battle Sorcerer 12 is
    For that matter no base class 12 (except possibly Druid) holds a candle to anything with two prestige classes and a reasonable build. Battle Sorcerer is a reasonable start for a Gish, but is statistically not the MOST optimized choice.

    Edit: Forgot the Dragon Husk fighter variant from Dragonmagic doesn't have arcane spell failure... so add that to my list.
    Last edited by Animefunkmaster; 2008-10-15 at 01:41 PM.

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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Animefunkmaster View Post
    For that matter no base class 12 (except possibly Druid) holds a candle to anything with two prestige classes and a reasonable build. Battle Sorcerer is a reasonable start for a Gish, but is statistically not the MOST optimized choice..
    Uh, what? A straight Sorcerer 12 would eat that build for breakfast. Let alone a straight Wizard 12, Archivist 12, Artificer 12 or a Cleric 12... PrCs are hardly more powerful than core classes (some stupid editing mistakes aside, like the fact that Sorcerer, Wizard and Cleric have no class features beyond spells, and Planar Shepherd and Incantatrix).

    On a basic level, PrCs may take your character to a different direction, but a straight character has a multitude of advantages over a PrCd character and thus presents a very reasonable alternative. Or well, that's how it should work anyways, and that's how it does to a degree - PrCing doesn't automatically make you better, or even as good as a straight build (just because you lose some progression, and many PrCs have heavy prerequisites while normal characters could make good of those, not to mention, most PrCs suck).
    Last edited by Eldariel; 2008-10-15 at 01:46 PM.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    I'm only commenting on Battle Sorcerer since it's the only alternate class feature I've used.

    Battle Sorc is very suboptimal, but I like it a lot for NPCs. It makes gishes straightforward and easier to build. Mithril Twilight armor is great for PCs, but I don't want to put a set on each of the town guards for the PCs to harvest later. Also, I like my enemies to be somewhat more robust than a PC, and sacrificing a couple utility spells is worth it for them.

    As a PC class there are better options. Theoretically this might let you hit Eldritch Knight or Spellsword a little earlier than straight sorc would due to the increased BAB. I wouldn't be surprised if there are some weird gish builds that can hit 9th level spells with this, but not with straight sorc. Maybe an abjurer champ (since they need a lot of BAB)? But I'm not going to do the math to find that weird build when there are already better choices.

    Playing a gish often requires the mindset of a tank who also gets spells. Playing as a mage who also gets BAB usually leaves you as a slightly weaker mage who doesn't even use his BAB anyway. If you approach this class as a tank with spells, it's a way to get slightly fewer spells but increase your tankiness. Depending on the character you want to play it may be worthwhile.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldariel View Post
    Uh, what? A straight Sorcerer 12 would eat that build for breakfast. Let alone a straight Wizard 12, Archivist 12, Artificer 12 or a Cleric 12... PrCs are hardly more powerful than core classes (some stupid editing mistakes aside, like the fact that Sorcerer, Wizard and Cleric have no class features beyond spells, and Planar Shepherd and Incantatrix).
    Perhaps I didn't make my statements clear enough. What I intended to get across is that Wizard+PRC is better than Wizard, for all classes except for druid in some circumstances. I didn't mean to imply that fighter + Prc + Prc + Prc can always defeat a straight Wizard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldariel View Post
    many PrCs have heavy prerequisites while normal characters could make good of those, not to mention, most PrCs suck).
    I disagree with this statement.
    Last edited by Animefunkmaster; 2008-10-15 at 04:14 PM.

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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    The trick to the Battle Sorceror is not treating it as a caster, but as a Fighter with the ability to enchant himself to the point few things can touch him. Stoneskin, Mage Armor, Shield, then the specific things. As a spontaneous caster, I can snag a selection of spells that'll cover most contingencies, and fire them off at my own choosing. Other fighters have to scream for the Wizard to buff them, plus I can snag Power Attack, max it out, and use a quickened True Strike to ensure I hit for whatever massive damage. Think Tactically, not Strategically.
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    Default Re: Alternate Class Features... Any Use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Triaxx View Post
    The trick to the Battle Sorceror is not treating it as a caster, but as a Fighter with the ability to enchant himself
    If that's your goal, Duskblades are much cooler.
    Guide to the Magus, the Pathfinder Gish class.

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