Author Topic: Optimating a swash/rogue/warblade using Einhander  (Read 3895 times)

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  • Bi-Curious George
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Optimating a swash/rogue/warblade using Einhander
« on: August 27, 2008, 11:58:18 PM »
Hey gang, I have a character concept for an upcoming campaign and I needed some advice.  The basic premise is that I want to make a Warblade who uses a rapier in one hand, and that's all.  He's supposed to be a swashbuckler type, though not necessarily a Swashbuckler.  If you could please lend me your ear/eyes and give me any tips on how I can achieve or alter my vision, I would be very grateful.   

The people I'm playing with are sorta new (not brand new) to D&D and this build seems like it could be a flavorful way of toning down a class which some of them would perceive as overpowered (The DM is quite experienced and has no problems with the ToB in any way, other than the way it "makes fighters useless" ;)).  His role in the party is not necessarily the front-liner, although he may end up that way--I don't know what the others are playing yet.  He might also be the skill-monkey and he'll definitely be the party's face.  The game starts around 4th level (maybe as high as 8th) and will end in the early 20's.  It will likely be very urban in the beginning, but will end up as a high-CR huge monster stabathon due to our DMs understandable dislike of statting high level humanoid NPCs--I don't know this for sure though.

House rules:  Once a class skill, always a class skill.  The DM is letting me fight defensively while using a standard action ToB strike instead of a standard action attack action.  I, however, cannot use a strike while using spring attack or something similar.  No flaws, and most stuff from UA will be looked at with extreme scrutiny.  Fighter bonus feats from fighter levels after 20 can be epic fighter feats (probably won't come into play).  Those are all of the houserules I can remember.

Consider every 3.5 WotC book as available, I am pretty sure he has all of them except some of the smaller FR and Eberron ones.

Here are Lyle Lanley's stats:
CN Human
Str 10
Dex 16
Con 14
Int 18
Wis 12
Cha 14

These are set in stone.  Especially the name.

So far his levels are Rogue1 Swashbuckler 3 Warblade 1. 
H: Dodge
Swash: Weapon Finesse
1: Combat Expertise
3: Improved Disarm

These are still able to be changed up (they are preliminary feats).  There is one feat I gotta have, and that's Einhander.  I'll take it even though it isn't the strongest feat out there in order to be flavorful and bring my own power down a wee bit.  I still gotta optimize it though, you know?  Anyway, after kicking around some ideas--this guy was originally gonna be straight Warblade--I thought of something that could end up really fun, and this is the shtick I was hoping we could optimize:  Fighting defensively while Improved Feinting followed by a martial maneuver strike combined with the Staggering Strike feat.  That's why the classes are they way they are right now.  Swash for the Weapon Finesse and Insightful Strike, Rogue for the Sneak Attack dice, and then the Warblade levels for the remainder.

I am pretty set that I want to try out this combo since the DC for Staggering Strike is based off of damage dealt and since Einhander grants a decent way to pull off a sneak attack.  Also, getting +5 AC for defensively fighting, including the bonus from Tumble ranks,  is a slight improvement.  Considering this guy will likely be lightly armored, fighting defensively frequently might not be so bad since the opponent will frequently be denied their Dex bonus to AC.  I dunno. 
***Here's where the tricky part comes in.  I have to juggle a lot of various things that this build could eventually get worked in.  This is the bulk of my CO question here.  A short list follows.

Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, Staggering Strike.  Einhander... as I start to write this post I am thinking more and more that I don't need it at all.  Maybe it could be the level 18 feat.

Elusive Target--thematic as well as useful, but a large feat investment.
Improved Disarm--also thematic, but increasingly useless. Already will have prereq.
Combat Panache--this character will have bluff maxed, so this feat could come into play a bunch.  The Sneering Glower part could be really good.
Robilar's Gambit or Karmic Strike--Always useful, even more so with the Warblade's Int bonus to hit and damage on attacks of opportunity.  More dangerous than average due to the agile nature of the character.  Less dangerous due to things like Wall of Blades... which I now realize would be affected by fighting defensively.

One of the major problems so far is the number of feats that require a BAB of +6.  This makes my level 1, 3, and potentially level 6 feats, well, not the feats I want.  This can be alleviated in a few ways I can see:   

Rogue 1 Swash 3 Warblade 3 ( even Swash 3 Warblade5 Rogue 1 since I only need one level of Rogue by level 9).  One problem with this is the fact that the more levels in other classes I have before my first Warblade level, the better--IL and all that.  It's still an option.  The 1st level rogue dip helps out the skills known, leading to things like bluff and intimidate.
Warblade8 Rogue 1.  Skipping out on the Swashbuckler levels is more powerful in combat, but I love skills and I would be way behind in the Bluff department.  The Int to damage will be very useful early on due to my character's high Int score. 

I hesitate to even mention this one, but two levels in normal Fighter might work too.  Swash 3 Ftr 2 Warblade 1 Would get me the BAB I need, but the Fighter bonus feats won't do much for the overall build due to how early I get them--perhaps the Dodge and Mobility I need for Elusive Target?  I just now realized that the Sneak Attack variant Fighter from UA might be just what I am looking for...  but I only need 1 level of the sneak attack Fighter and Rogues have a bunch of skills I would want as well as the sneak attack dice.  Actually, between Swashbuckler and Warblade I have Bluff, Intimidate, Tumble... all the good ones I need, I believe. 

Swash 3 SA Fighter 1 Warblade 2 would get me BAB of +6 by 6th level as well as 2nd level maneuvers upon my first Warblade level.  This will probably be the route I go if the DM okays the UA variant.  He's allowed variants from web enhancements and source books before, but our group never uses UA stuff.  The moment I ask if I can use something inside it, I'm sure a flag will go up and he will wonder why on Earth do I want to use something in there.  I imagine I can talk him into it though. 

In conclusion, I am wondering what feats I have are too crappy for this build, what feats I should have, whether I am going in the completely wrong direction, and If there are better choices/orders for my level setup.  Thank you all for you time.

« Last Edit: August 28, 2008, 12:00:53 AM by Optimator »


  • Organ Grinder
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Re: Optimating a swash/rogue/warblade using Einhander
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2008, 10:03:20 AM »
I might have missed something, but why are you taking a single level of rogue?  It seems you'd benifit more by either taking two levels (for evasion) or none (to keep your BAB maxed).

Generally I'm not sure how much I'd worry about sneak attack damage, although you did say there would be a lot of urban encounters early on, so you may get greater than average use out of it.  Also, with Einhander, you're not going to be adding a lot of sneak attacks per round (as opposed to TWF).  If you really wanted to increase your sneak attack damage, you could always look at the Daring Outlaw feat, but that requires more rogue levels (taking away from warblade).  You could go as high as rogue 4/swashbuckler 3 while still only losing a single point of BAB.  That would also grant you +4d6 sneak attack.

I guess you really need to figure out what you're looking for out of this character.  If you have an idea what manuevers you'd take, it might make the decision easier.  My initial suggestion is to not worry too much about sneak attack damage.  Focus on the ToB stuff.
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Re: Optimating a swash/rogue/warblade using Einhander
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2008, 10:06:21 AM »
I don't have time to comment at length, but:
- have you considered Swordsage 1 + Shadow Blade ? I tend to like it better than Insightful Strike since the investment is much lower and focusing on Dex improves pretty much everything. You get WF which compensates the loss in BAB somewhat.

- there's also Barbarian, in particular with the Cityscape variants - Ferocity instead of Rage, and possibly Roof-Dweller instead of Fast Movement if it suits your character (or Pounce, but that's a higher level of power). Refluff Ferocity as needed for swashbuckling.

- Disarming Strike (Iron Heart) is a decent replacement for Improved Disarm ; it has a smaller opportunity cost.

- You will need Sleight of Hand if you want to use Einhander's 3rd maneuver - which is designed to replace Improved Feint IMO.

Check out the Tome of Battle Build Compendium for ideas too. I'm not helping much with resolution, just contributing to the brainstorming for now. :)
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Re: Optimating a swash/rogue/warblade using Einhander
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2008, 10:37:38 AM »
Hit and Run Fighter from DotU might be nice - add dex to damage (competence) when attacking a flat-footed opponent within 30 feet. That should include right in front of you, so if you can make them flat-footed this is nice. You also get +2 Initiative, which is always nice. And you only lose Heavy-Armour prof., which still puts you in the range of Mithral Full-plate.

As OoP said Swordsage + Shadow Blade + HaR-Fighter 2 could throw off much greater rewards than Insightful Strike. Even so, you could have both.


  • Bi-Curious George
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Re: Optimating a swash/rogue/warblade using Einhander
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2008, 07:19:40 PM »
@RobbyPants--The single level of rogue is just to qualify for Staggering Strike.  Feint, use a martial strike, stagger the enemy, and repeat is what I'm going for here. 

@OoP--I thought about SS, but the problem is losing the BAB before level 6 and not qualifying for a bunch of the feats that are lined up.  The barbarian variant actually sounds pretty cool... I'll definitely think about it.  Good thought on DIsarming Strike, and good catch on the Slight of Hand... I knew I had other reasons to initially take Rogue. 

@Brainpiercing--That is a very good option... maybe even a level in Hit-and-Run variant, Sneak Attack variant Fighter.