Hexblade 101




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  1. #1

    Hexblade 101

    Hexblade 101

    Through my travels, I have played a number of fighter/mages in my travels. I always liked a fighting/arcane mix and really was a die-hard fan of bards in 2nd edition. When I finally saw a copy of the Complete Warriors, I heard the name Hexblade and immediately fell in love with the concept. The idea of a warrior who essentially "jinxes" his enemies into submission is a concept I could not resist. Unfortunately it is a tad underpowered, especially with several books that have been used to augment other classes and features. As a result, this article is an attempt to get the most out of your Hexblade and to show others why it is not wise to irk the ire of these unique combatants.

    Overview

    If I had to sum up the idea, I would say they are a living embodiment of Murphy's Law. Many classes augment others and try to thrash the enemy. The Hexblade is designed to not kill, but to make their enemies' lives' miserable. I can even sum it up further by using a single word: Cheat. Stack the deck in your favor at all times. Use scare tactics, alchemical bombs, and dirty tricks to keep your opponents at edge. Cultivate an aura of unluck for those who would oppose you. This will keep your enemies and even your allies guessing. Strike from the flanks and trading that BAB for damage (Power Attack or Two-Weapon Fighting) or defense (Combat Expertise).

    While, the Hexblade's large hit die and good attack bonus place him in the warrior family, but his saving throws and the us of mettle give the class a certain degree of protection against just about anything.

    Ultimately the character must think like a rogue, and strike like a fighter. Don't go toe-to-toe with your peers unless you know something they don't.

    Attribute placement

    As usual, I based any character design on the base stats in order to give you a basic build that will do well.

    15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8

    Unfortunately, with this class, there is are 4 stats that really help the class: Charisma for special abilities and spellcasting, dexterity for AC, Initiative and Ref saves, Strength for attack and damage, and constitution for hit points and fortitude save.

    What should you use your 15 for is ultimately determined by what your style of play. If you expect to have to be on the front lines, strength is pretty much required to allow any sort of heavy hitting, especially when combined with other abilities. If you already have a fighting in the group a good build is that of the archer type. Which means you can really excel with your best stat in dexterity.

    The next highest stat (14) should go into Charisma. While the spells and special abilities are kind of underpowered, having a high charisma more then compensates and allows other options while in combat. It essentially is the "dirty bag of tricks stat" and the use of this stat allows a Hexblade to access this "bag sooner". There are MANY levels where a Hexblade gets *0* spells of a given level (that is, only spells from a high Charisma stat) so plan accordingly.


    Whichever stat you didn't use your 15 for (Strength or Dexterity), you can put as your 13. It is still a darn useful even if it is not your specialty.

    Constitution is good for your 12. Extra hit points are always useful. However you already have a d10 for hit points so it's not essential, especially if you intend to strike from a position of strength.

    Intelligence is good for your 2nd lowest stat, especially if your playing a human that can compensate for the low skill points.

    Your best bet for the lowest attribute is Wisdom: this is probably the best choice for the lowest stat. You can compensate for this with your strong will save.

    Of course, trying to be a caster too means pumping CHA whenever possible
    Dexterity is important as well.

    Race

    As always I like Humans. The extra feat and skill points are hard to beat and it's seriously fun to build to multiclass.

    Dwarves do not make good Hexblades. Their slow movement combined with a penalty to charisma makes these a poor choice.

    Elves make a good Ranged Hex Build. Although they get a penalty to con, their +2 to dexterity makes them good for ranged attacks.

    Gnomes are fairly descent Hexblades. Although small and slow, their natural spellcasting abilities are also charisma based. Plus several of the spells on the hexblade's spell list are illusions, thus allowing them to use their +1 to DC on such spells.

    Half-elves are okay, but they don't particularly excel at being a Hexblade. It is better to play a Human or Elf if you must.

    Half-orcs might be passable Hexblades. You will have to put your 15 in charisma cause it will be reduced to 13, but the +2 to strength and normal move makes a descent melee build.

    Halflings are slightly less optimal then gnomes. They suffer from the same weakness as the other small folk, but don't have the penchant of gnomes' spellcasting. However they are reasonably good as a ranged build, like an elf, but they do a trade off for an additional +1 to hit with less damage and speed.

    Now From other books

    Spellscales (RofDr) make real nice Hexblades since they are one of the few LA +0 races with a cha bonus and Spellscales count as dragons, which help for spells like, alter self.

    Despite an ECL of 1, Catfolk (RofW) have an increased speed when combined with expeditious retreat and the spring attack feat chain can give you a serious maneuverability on the battlefield.

    The Necropolitan (LM) is an interesting choice, even though it has a fairly high ECL, it does have the following advantages.
    It makes Con becomes a dump stat, freeing up points for other character points. With a feat or two will get you using Charisma everywhere Con should be used. Daunting Presence rocks, and the feats that require Daunting Presence and the Undead Type (in Lib) rock even more. The ability to cause fear effects with NO SAVE is not to be underestimated, especially for putting your character in a position where you can do nasty things.

    Feats

    While The Hexblade does get bonus feats at level 5, 10, 15 and 20, it is paramount that one chooses feats to optimize the overall abilities of the character

    Before you start selecting feats, it is a good idea to continue your decision of how you expect to


    Ability Focus (mm) is the must-have Feat. Your main focus that makes you different is the ability to curse your opponent as a free action. This feat is best taken within the first five levels. In fact if you are not doing a specific build, it is useful at level 1.

    Arcane Strike (CW): This is Useful when your spells aren't. However bare in mind it may not be the best choice overall, as many of the Hexblade's spells can be quite useful. You'll find yourself wishing for more spell slots even without this.

    Battle Caster (CAr): gives medium armor and therefore a better AC. Another must have if doing a melee build.

    Combat Panache (PHBII): These three maneuvers are all charisma based, and this is a stat that you excel. If you go to a heavy hitter fighter, these are a must.

    Frightful Presence (DR): Shaken enemies are wonderful and add to your penalties. Daunting Presence (LM) does something similar and builds on other feats in LM.

    Force of Personality (CV): Using your high will saves, you can basically draw attention away from other casters and force them to use a will based save, especially if you look like a big dumb fighter type.

    Goad (CV, Min, Rofs): If you are in a party with more fragile characters this is a godsend for them. It is charisma based which plays to your strength. While it may take a round or two to "penalize the opponent, by forcing them to attack you frees up other players to do nasty things to the target).

    Improved Familiar: If you decide to go the familiar route, it is extremely useful ability to take. Winter wolves in particular will be quite useful. More details on familiars are listed below:

    Intimidating Strike (PHBII): With your high charisma, this spell builds on what you excel at: Namely giving your enemy penalties. It stacks with your other penalties as well making it nastier.

    Kiau/Great Kiau (OA): Although useable only once per day, it is a great "mook stopping" feat and stacks with your negative abilities.

    Power attack (PHB): This is a means of capitalizing on the penalties you have brought on your opponent. Use a two handed weapon and rely on a melee build to maximize it's effectiveness.

    Practiced Spellcaster (CAr): If you wish to use your spellcasting as a favored ability, this ability is pretty much required. It is 4 levels of spellcasting effectively become 8 (since Hexblades cast as half their level). This is a serious power up and very useful in conjunction with a ranged build.

    The Curse feats From Dragon #333: If your Gm allows these hexblade specific feats, you have a number of great choices added to your feat selections:

    Curse of Distraction is descent again spellcasters, especially if you can "follow it up" with additional damage from other targets.

    Curse of Failure is awesome if teamed up with a proper spellcaster. Just target the specific save and have them follow up accordingly. However, if you are not working with an artillery piece (wizard and/or smiting cleric) best to take something else. Your penalities are descent and there are other feats that may be more useful.

    Curse of ignorance is kinda fun, but kinda specialized for continuous use.

    Curse of Paranoa increases the flanking bonus, which is awesome if you have a group of fighters and/or rogues. Just zap him and crowd around the target. If your going against "big game" this feat rocks.

    Curse of Sloth is a favorite for it allows greater "battlefield control" on your target. It's seriously fun to zap a monk, quickling or other fast moving character and bring him down to take him out. because it is a free action to do a curse, you can do it just as they are running away.

    Curse of the Stricken is good when going up against "tin cans". While awesome against them, it is not as versatile as against other targets. However, if the gm says it affects natural armor, it becomes seriously useful.

    Curse of the Soften blade is also good against high damage targets, but you need a gm's ruling to see if it works with natural weapons as well. Since it only affects one attack, it is most useful against targets swinging large weapons. and/or only having one attack.

    Empower Curse ione of those feats that always useful and good to take. As a hexblade you can never generate too many penalties.

    Extend Curse is not as useful as you think. Most battles don't last more then a minute, much less a day, and it's pretty much only usable if your trying to track down somebody and want to "soften him up." Not a prime choice.

    Extra Curse is always useful: For a primary ability, the hexblade doesn't get that many curses and an extra curse goes a long way.

    Foe of the unlucky is thee spell if you want to stay on the good side of your party. by expending a free action and a curse, you can pretty much save any party member from a critical hit within 60 feet. Your party will love you.

    Skills

    While the Hexblade has a descent skill list, but most of the time, the hexblade will have comparatively few skill points: even if human. The two skills that will come in handy are Concentration (to cast spells while threatened) and Intimidate (allows demoralizating of opponents and and stacks with your curse powers). If you have any left over, it is a good idea to put points in bluff (never underestimate a good blarn) and a couple of points ride (always good, especially at low levels). Your best leaving spellcraft and knowledge (arcana) to the wizard of the group.

    If your worried about not being heard, diplomacy may be a good option for those times when you don't want to scare the bejesus out of people.

    If you decided to take a craft, both trap making and poisons have their appeal. Profession (gambler) is also useful when you can curse the competition.

    Finally, while I'm still reviewing the skill tricks in CSc, one stuck out as a pretty much must have: Never outnumbered. Basically gives you the ability to intimidate multiple targets at a 10 foot radius for one round. for a megre cost of 2 points, it's a good choice that builds off your abilities.

    Equipment

    Weapons: Never forget that even if you go for a specific build, you still have access to all simple and martial weapons. Furthermore because you are not proficient with shields, it's a good idea to have a two handed weapon for the increased damage. Use this by having redundant weapons. You usually have the strength to carry multiple options so take advantage of it.

    For your main weapon: The greatsword, falchion, and heavy flail (and sometimes the bastard sword) are scary looking two-handed weapons with good base damage and nice, wide critical threat ranges.

    However, if you have any doubts, you can use a two handed weapon with reach: glaive, guisarme, and ranseur are excellent reach with the scythe is also kind of fun, has a high multiplier and works well in conjunction with a dark motif. But also have a good one-handed weapon, such as a longsword. some gm's may require you have one hand free while casting.

    Even if you're not a dedicated archer, it is a good idea to have a composite longbow as a backup weapon. When used with your great strength, it usually pays for itself. Plus throwing axes are a good cheap weapon if you cannot afford the composite longbow. Also remember, if you are within 60 feet, you can lay down your curses.

    It's a good idea to carry a silver weapon even if it is rarely used. If you can, try to get you main nonmagical weapon made of starmetal (CAr). You can enchant it easily with your wand of magic weapon and it's awesome against extraplanar creatures.

    Armor: When first starting out, the chain shirt is probably your first choice. It is the heaviest light armor and should serve you well until you can replace it.

    Once you get a chunk of money there are pretty much two choices:

    Adamantine chain shirt: allows damage reduction of 1, which can go a long way.

    Mithril Breastplate: Normally a medium armor, when composed of Mithril, is considered a light armor for purposes of spellcasting and movement and gives you the best protection of the "faux light armor"

    Misc equipment: no character should be without the following items or their magical equivalent:
    backpack
    belt pouch
    bedroll
    flint and steel
    hempen rope (50')
    Courtier's outfit
    Explorer's outfit
    Mess kit (A&E)
    Signal whistle
    sunrods (2)
    trail rations (10 days)
    waterskin

    If you can convince the gm that you can, get a "spiked collar" that adds +2 to intimidate checks (treat as mastercraft tool in the phb)

    As said earlier, build your character in having the ability to access dirty tricks as necessary. Smokesticks are wonderful for breaking line of site (they provide portable cover). Caltrops (Phb) and marbles (A&E) can often be used to "irritate an opponent, giving you a round or two to choose your position.

    checking in A&E, here are some other ideas.

    Flash pellets (CV), thunderstones (PHB) are useful at low levels for providing a distraction.

    Alchemical capsules (CV) are tons of fun for giving that cheap edge. For the false tooth, Strongarm capsule is useful for that precision strike, also iron man capsule is good if your outrageous saves fail. A weapon capsule on your weapon may give you that "precision strike" especially when covered with poison or an alchemical effect. Just remember if you select poison, you have a 10% chance of putting it on yourself (mind you with the special ability mettle, you can usually survive the worst of it, provided you have a high saving throw).

    Hidden blades (CSc) may give you a last ditch attack, but do not rely on it.

    From A&E other good alchemical stuff for such dirty tricks is defoilator (fun against plant based creatures), dwarfblind, ghostoil, sparkstones, stonebreaker acid, verminbane and vicious bleeder.

    Other alchemical items include Rust cubes (CSc) useful against armored and metal foes, toxic tooth (good as a last ditch strike)

    Magic Items

    Magic Weapons: Even if you have a good solid weapon, it is a good idea to have a wand of magic weapon. If your weapon is common enough and you purchase a mastercraft weapon, you may acquire a magic item through looting before you use up all the charges. It also allows a switching of weapon easier and as needed. A wand of Greater magic weapon is not nearly as useful (for the increase in price of a third level spell you only get a +2 weapon).

    Still if you can afford it, your main weapon should be enchanted. I usually recommend a two handed weapon for it's hitting power, but a bow is also a great choice.

    Sudden Stunning (DMGii) is pretty much your 1st choice if you can get it. Once stunned a Hexblade can do all sorts of nasty things to their target.

    Other choices include bursts (acidic burst (A&E), and screaming is one of my favorites), Harmony (A&E) - adds +2 when flanking.

    Magic Armor: After selecting one of the armors above, your best bet is to go for pluses. Most of the special affects are better off by using wands.
    However anti-impact (CW) is a descent choice. For 2k gold you get half damage against blunt weapons.

    Amulet of Natural Armor (PHB): Because your A.C. is relatively low, it's a good idea to acquire one of these to assist in improving your ac. Usually you can get the "hand me downs" of the spellcasting classes that do not wear armor as they acquire greater protection.

    Rings: A couple of people I have contacted swear by rings of evasion (PHB). I can't blame them cause it essentially covers the one save not touched by mettle. With this item and a good save enhancement device you could be effectively untouchable. The only real issue is the cost, but it would be worth it, especially when combined with intimidation and bluff.

    Some other excellent choices include force shield (PHB), and energy resistance.

    Attribute augmentations (PHB): The cloak of Charisma, Belt of Giant Strength and Gauntlets of Dexterity are always useful. Of the three, belt of giant's strength is perhaps the lease useful for you can duplicate easily with spells or wands.

    Cloak of resistance (PHB): one of the most universal items for usefully, Best to see if you can have it made to take another body slot, especially if your looking for a cloak of charisma. The Vest of Resistance (CAr) is your best bet to avoid overlap.

    Armbands of might (CV): If you have taken power attack, it's a quite useful and fairly cheap item

    Bag of Endless Caltrops (A&E): Will pay for itself quickly

    Jumping Caltrops (CV): Still fairly cheap as far as magic items go and really fun to use at low levels.

    Emerald Caltrops (A&E): slightly more expensive, but they do acid damage - useful against hit and run on regenerators.

    Mask of Lies (CV): Useful combo item that adds to bluff, and allows use of the spells disguise self and undetectable alignment. Not a must have, but a darn useful.
    Spellsight spectacles (CV): useful for jacking up those spellcraft and knowledge arcana checks, without spending the points.

    Momento Magica (RofD) may be more useful for the Hexblade if you need to recall a particular spell that you've already cast.

    Spool of endless rope (CV): Always useful for any adventuring parties.

    Knowstones(DrM #333) are moderately useful because they give a Hexblade a few more spells they might know on their spell list, and are fairly cheap, especially at the Lower levels. Still, often the hexblade has more spells known then castable so it's only good for the purposes of versatility.

    Ring of Wizardry: While sort of useful, it's better to go for charisma increasing devices. If you get one great, but usually it's better to let the wizard or sorcerer have it.

    Wands and Scrolls: Use your spell list to your advantage. Often spells not worth taking as a standard spell are useful as a "utility" scroll or wand. If you have a choice, it is more cost effective to use a wand over a scroll.
    1. They are cheaper per charge.
    2. They do not require an activation check.
    3. They can be used in armor.

    These are usually cheaper per use then a Misc magical item of the same name, so it's often a good idea to have some sort of "wand caddy".

    There are pretty much three categories. For emergencies, where you can never have enough and general utility.

    Emergencies
    Alter Self
    Assay Resistance
    Break Enchantment
    Cursed Blade
    Dimension Door
    Expeditious Retreat
    Glitterdust
    Invisibility Sphere
    Spectral Weapon
    Wind Wall

    Never have enough
    Bull's Strength
    Entrophy Shield
    Mirror Image.

    Utility
    Arcane sight
    Augment Familiar
    Detect Magic
    Enhance familiar
    Identify
    Invisibility
    Protection from arrows.
    magic weapon (way cheaper then a weapon +1 and way more versatile)
    mount
    Nondetection
    Prestidigitation
    Protection from Energy
    Resist Energy
    shadow form
    See Invisibility
    sending
    spider climb
    Last edited by Shades of Eternity; Friday, 27th April, 2007 at 08:11 PM.

 

  • #2
    Special abilities

    Curse you: This is the ability that separates the Hexblade from other fighter/mage concepts. The trick to using this ability is to pick when you use it.

    1. Try to penalize your opponent first: Every point you reduce their save by makes your curse that more likely. Ways you can reduce the saving throw include Ability Focus (+2 is hardly anything to sneeze at), intimidation check (and the feats intimidating strike, Frightful Presence (DR) and Daunting Presence (LM)), your dark companion, and the spells Enervation and Touch of Idiocy.

    2. It has a range of 60' so use this ability at range whenever possible. This is particularly nasty when used with an archer build and a dark companion.

    3. It is a free action so it can be used immediately after using a "softening" attack.

    4. No creature subtype is immune to curses. Which means provided you get over the saving throw (spell resistance does not protect- it is a su affect), it will affect pretty much any creature.

    5. Concentrate on one creature. It is better to have a sure thing then a bunch of maybes. However once one is successfully cursed, move onto the next target.

    6. Try to pick targets with low will saves: While not always possible, you do your best work on sure things. Animals, Construct, Elementals, Giant, Humanoid, Magical Beast, Ooze, and Plant have weak saves. For classes, basically target fighter and rogues over spellcasting types, unless you got a sure thing.

    Familiar verses Dark Companion

    At 4th level, the Hexblade gets a bit of dilemma. He gets the option between having a standard familiar or a Dark Companion. Both have their perks and cons.

    Familiar:

    The big advantage of a familiar is it is an awesome fighting companion, especially when compared to a familiar of a sorcerer or wizard. Because it's based on your hit points of d10, your familiar will have hit points comparable to, or even surpass a wizard and sorcerer. Additionally any familiar attacks are based on the Hexblades full BAB. Plus the Hexblades saves override the familiars. Not only do the familiar get improved evasion, but also mettle as well, which means any save it makes renders it completely unaffected. They also get the Hexblades arcane resistance,

    Because they are smarter then a standard animal companion, they can be used almost as an extension of oneself in combat. They should always flank when possible, thus allowing a bonus when striking.

    They also benefit from linked spells. The following is a list of good choices. Make note of both alter self and Polymorph, although they have to be the same form:

    1st
    Entropic Shield
    Expeditious Retreat
    Protection from

    2nd
    Alter Self
    Bull's Strength,
    Invisibility
    Mirror Image
    Protection from Arrows
    Rage
    Resist Energy
    See Invisibility
    Spider Climb

    3rd
    Non Detection

    4th
    Polymorph
    Shadow Form

    Normal Familiars (from the PHB): If you decide to not take Improved familiar, some of the better choices are as follows:
    Bat: Not really a fighting type, but with blindsight, pretty much guarantees you will not be blinded.
    Cat: The scourge of commoners, it is stealthy and has scent. They also get multiple attacks.
    Hawk: an awesome spotter and descent damage. Plus flight is always useful.
    Lizard: okay, but not great
    Owl: Awesome spot and good for stealth. Plus flight is always useful.
    Rat/Mouse: Okay, but cat is better form the standard list.
    Raven/Thrush: They can talk and can fly.
    snake (tiny viper): Good imitative, but kind of slow. Poison attack is okay for the low levels though.
    Toad: Not usually useful as a whole, even the +2 hit points kinda defeat the purpose of the familiar.
    Weasel/ferret: If flanking, have it attach to its rear and you get both the bite damage and flank bonuses per round. A great choice for a Hexblade

    Alternative normal Familiars: These are often still considered normal creatures, but are off the expanded list on both Tomb of blood (a 3.0 listing) and dragon magazine 280.

    Bird: Descent, but still prefer Ravens and/or Hawks
    Dog: Man's best friend is a decent little tank for ECL 0 even before you make it a familiar. plus you get +2 to sense motive which helps with your bluff and intimidation.
    Fox: Descent, but if you have a choice, take a dog.
    Hare: not very useful as a combatative familiar
    Otter: These swimmers are okay, but not very useful unless near water.
    Racoon: Almost as good as the Dog, plus has semi perhensile hands
    Shrew: About the same as a snake in terms of ability and usefulness.
    Skunk: The special atacks is fun, but will have to be enhanced to maintain usefulness.
    Squirrel: kinda useful, but better to have a more physically imposing familiar.

    I remember reading this one somewhere, but it eludes me.
    Monkey: A 2nd set of hands is always wonderful that can get into unusual places.

    Improved Familiars: It is worth the feat to get an "enhanced familiar":
    Riding Dog: Can take it right off the bat at level 4, is already a tank and can be augmented with either a axiomatic, fiendish or entrophic template.
    Hippogriff: Awesome for flight, speed and multiple attacks.
    Winter wolf: This is the best Familiar for double-teaming. superior attacks and damage, immunity to cold, 50 ft speed, and an improved trip attack for free shots. It really does make it an excellent choice.

    Augmenting your familiar:
    1. As soon as possible get permanency and both Enhance Familiar and Fortify Familiar cast on them.
    2. Bonded familiar (PHBii) is probably the best enhancement feat with a Hexblade. By being able to swap damage and the sizable hit points of both your hit points and familiar give you a greater degree of survivability.
    3. Practiced Spellcaster (CAr): Because familiar augmentation is based on spellcasting, taking these four levels basically allows the familiar to considered at base Hexblade level (instead of Hexblade level -3). Not a bad secondary effect.
    4. Familiar pocket is pretty much a standby for protection and is good for comedic effect.

    The main con is that your familiar is still killable.

    Dark Companion (PHBII): This choice is excellent for a number of reasons.
    1. Adds a -2 penalty to saves thus making the Hexblades curses more effective.
    2. Not Killable: even when dispelled it will return 24 hours.

    A few notes:

    1. remember the speed of the dark companion is usually 30' , or 20' if a small creature. Because this is based on your personal speed, spells like expedious retreat also increase the speed of the dark companion. Other good examples of items that will help are fly and haste.
    2. The penalties created by the dark compnaion does not affect allie's so you can shoehorn yourself and other fighting types around it.

    however it is not as versatile as the standard familiar.

    A third option: If you can't choose a fun option is as follow. Take the Dark Companion option, then take a feat to take an extra familiar. That will allow you the best of both worlds.

    Bonus Feats: At first glance, the addition of bonus feats looks great. however, the choices of bonus feats available is actually very limited. While you might convince most gm's to add a few other options to the list (such as the hex feats from Dragon # 333), this article assumes you have not had such luck.

    Combat casting: This is probably the best choice for a hexblade. It basically helps to ensures that you when casting in battle you will be able to get off your touch of idiocy or vampiric touch.

    Spellfocus/Greater Spell focus: This +1 to DC can only be selected from enchantement, necromancy or transmutation. here's a quick overview of spells of each category to allow you to pick what's best for you:

    Enchanment: Charm Monster (Will), Charm Person (Will), Confusion (Will), Deep Slumber (Will), Dominate Person
    (Will), Enthrall (Will), Hidious laughter (Will), Sleep (Will), Suggestion (will)

    Necromancy: Blindness/Deafness (Fort), Cause Fear (Will), Fear (Will), Poison (Fort)

    Transmutation: Baleful Polymorph (Fort/Will), Pyrotechnics (Will/Fort), Slow (WILL)

    As you can see enchantment is the best choice for spell focus.

    spell Penetration/Greater Spell Penetration: This is the better choices then spell focus, provided you take it at level 10 and 15. If you've picked spells that don't require saves, you'll get more out of this. Still do not expect great returns.

    Spells

    Before I begin, I will put in the current Hexblade list.

    1st-Level Hexblade Spells
    Alarm. Player's Handbook, page 197.
    Arcane Mark. Player's Handbook, page 201.
    Cause Fear. Player's Handbook, page 208.
    Charm Person. Player's Handbook, page 209.
    Detect Magic. Player's Handbook, page 219.
    Disguise Self. Player's Handbook, page 222.
    Entropic Shield. Player's Handbook, page 227.
    Expeditious Retreat. Player's Handbook, page 228.
    Identify. Player's Handbook, page 243.
    Light. Player's Handbook, page 248.
    Magic Weapon. Player's Handbook, page 251.
    Mount. Player's Handbook, page 256.
    Nystul's Magic Aura. Player's Handbook, page 257.
    Prestidigitation. Player's Handbook, page 264.
    Protection from Chaos. Player's Handbook, page 266.
    Protection from Evil. Player's Handbook, page 266.
    Protection from Good. Player's Handbook, page 266.
    Protection from Law. Player's Handbook, page 266.
    Read Magic. Player's Handbook, page 269.
    Sleep. Player's Handbook, page 280.
    Tasha's Hideous Laughter. Player's Handbook, page 292.
    Undetectable Alignment. Player's Handbook, page 297.
    Unseen Servant. Player's Handbook, page 297.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Armor Lock, Complete Scoundrel, page 95
    Augment Familiar. Complete Warrior, page 116.
    Backbiter. Complete Arcane, page 98.
    Distract Assailant. Complete Adventurer, page 146.
    Mage Burr, Complete Scoundrel, page 100
    Phantom Threat. Complete Warrior, page 118.


    2nd-Level Hexblade Spells
    Alter Self. Player's Handbook, page 197.
    Blindness/Deafness. Player's Handbook, page 206.
    Bull's Strength. Player's Handbook, page 207.
    Darkness. Player's Handbook, page 216.
    Eagle's Splendor. Player's Handbook, page 225.
    Enthrall. Player's Handbook, page 227.
    False Life. Player's Handbook, page 229.
    Glitterdust. Player's Handbook, page 236.
    Invisibility. Player's Handbook, page 245.
    Mirror Image. Player's Handbook, page 254.
    Protection from Arrows. Player's Handbook, page 266.
    Pyrotechnics. Player's Handbook, page 267.
    Rage. Player's Handbook, page 268.
    Resist Energy. Player's Handbook, page 272.
    See Invisibility. Player's Handbook, page 275.
    Spider Climb. Player's Handbook, page 283.
    Suggestion. Player's Handbook, page 285.
    Summon Swarm. Player's Handbook, page
    Touch of Idiocy. Player's Handbook, page 294.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Crisis of Confidence. Heroes of Battle, page 126.
    Critical Strike. Complete Adventurer, page 145.
    Invisibility, Swift. Complete Adventurer, page 153.
    Phantasmal Assailants. Complete Arcane, page 117.
    Whirling Blade. Complete Arcane, page 129.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    3rd-Level Hexblade Spells
    Arcane Sight. Player's Handbook, page 201.
    Charm Monster. Player's Handbook, page 209.
    Confusion. Player's Handbook, page 212.
    Deep Slumber. Player's Handbook, page 217.
    Dispel Magic. Player's Handbook, page 223.
    Invisibility Sphere. Player's Handbook, page 245.
    Magic Weapon, Greater. Player's Handbook, page 251.
    Nondetection. Player's Handbook, page 257.
    Phantom Steed. Player's Handbook, page 260.
    Poison. Player's Handbook, page 262.
    Protection from Energy. Player's Handbook, page 266.
    Repel Vermin. Player's Handbook, page 271.
    Slow. Player's Handbook, page 280.
    Stinking Cloud. Player's Handbook, page 284.
    Vampiric Touch. Player's Handbook, page 298.
    Wind Wall. Player's Handbook, page 302.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Hound of Doom. Complete Warrior, page 117.
    Spectral Weapon. Complete Adventurer, page 157.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------


    4th-Level Hexblade Spells
    Baleful Polymorph. Player's Handbook, page 202.
    Break Enchantment. Player's Handbook, page 207.
    Contact Other Plane. Player's Handbook, page 212.
    Detect Scrying. Player's Handbook, page 219.
    Dimension Door. Player's Handbook, page 221.
    Dominate Person. Player's Handbook, page 224.
    Enervation. Player's Handbook, page 226.
    Fear. Player's Handbook, page 229.
    Invisibility, Greater. Player's Handbook, page 245.
    Phantasmal Killer. Player's Handbook, page 260.
    Polymorph. Player's Handbook, page 263.
    Scrying. Player's Handbook, page 274.
    Sending. Player's Handbook, page 275.
    Solid Fog. Player's Handbook, page 281.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Assay Resistance. Complete Arcane, page 98.
    Cursed Blade. Complete Warrior, page 117.
    Early Twilight. Heroes of Battle, page 126.
    Shadow Form. Complete Adventurer, page 156.
    Spell Theft, Complete Scoundral, page 104
    Suppress Legacy. Weapons of Legacy, page 18.
    Unluck. Complete Arcane, page 128.

    Although this is a descent spell list, it's best to avoid spells with saving throws and spell resistance (your unlikely to have enough to affect either at high levels). however a few spells deserve mention.

    Alter self: This spell is an awesome augmentation spell, but since the polymorph update it comes with a heavy catch: you cannot use class abilities. It is best used when you've run out of "dirty tricks" for the day. One of the best forms to shape into is lizard folk, for it provides an increase in strength and natural ac.

    Assay Resistance: If you must cast a spell on a creature with spell resistance, cast this spell first. However, I would prefer spell theft, in most situation. The exception being if you know your going to go against outer planar beings.

    Bull's Strength: Extremely useful when fighting hand to hand.

    Cursed Blade: spell for chopping down creatures with regeneration and/or access for magical healing. while it doesn't stack with other abilities, it can be a useful scroll or wand,

    Darkness: think of it as an area effect entrophic shield. Useful, but not necessary.

    Dimension Door: Extremely useful get to/get away spell. Might be more useful as a wand or scroll

    Entrophic shield: it's hard to argue with 20% miss chance that you do not need to hang around for. really useful especially when you expected to be on the front lines.

    Enervation: A seriously fun spell. with your bab it hits and pretty much nerfs your opponent considerably, and no saving throw. good means for "softening up an opponent and great for range builds.

    Expeditious Retreat: This spell is awesome for allowing your Hexblade to maneuver into position as required. It also is good for "cutting and running" as needed.

    Glitterdust: with it's blinding effect and outlining invisible creatures, it is usually preferred over see invisible.

    Hideous Laughter: Despite a will save, it is a very useful "stop them" spell.

    Hound of Doom: This is thee companion spell. Having the same hit points as you do, an ac that is probably comparable and your bab augmented by a strength that is likely higher then yours, it will quite literally double your attacks and use it's trip attacks to get into position. Use for flanking, trip and strikes and other "wolfpack tactics".

    Invisibility, Greater: Pretty much thee spell to cast if a melee build before attacking.

    Mirror image: This is thee defensive spell for the hexblade. By giving your opponents multiple targets, it stacks well with the feat goad and acts as a great equalizer against fighters of equivalent levels.

    Polymorph: Even with the nerfing in PHBII it is still a phenominal spell and probably thee most versatile in the game. with it you can pretty much wriggle your way out of any situation. I'll go into more detail in another article, but pretty much this is a must have spell.

    Shadow Form; mainly useful as a utility spell for getting past barriers. Best kept as a wand or scroll.

    See Invisible: prefer glitterdust, but it's good to have a wand with a couple of charges. glitterdust doesn't work on invisible, incorporeal creatures.

    Spectral Weapon: Basically if you ever have a target that has too high a natural ac, use this spell. a must for an emergency wand.

    Slow: Although requiring a save, simply put it's just way too much fun to use and if you've "prepped" the target, doable as well.

    Solid Fog: a descent spell, but your better off using wind wall for "battlefield control."

    Spell Theft: If you are going up against anybody that preps spellcasting before attacking, this is a double bonus. Since most enemies are of a higher level then yourself, you get better bonuses then they would have. additionally, it strips them of their protections. I remember a time where my party had been ambushed by a wizard with time stop, and so had time to prep spell turning, iron skin and a couple of other spells. If I would have had a Hexblade with this spell, I could have made it for naught.

    Touch of Idiocy: This spell is one of the best for a melee build, provided your opponent does not have spell resistance. Your bab is awesome (you usually get to a point where you only fail on a 1) and you can often reduce most spellcasters for useless with a couple taps. Plus this spell saps wisdom, which reduces will saves against your curses.

    unluck: This spell is a bit of a double edged sword. While it really enhances your main abilities, you pretty much need to have already used your curses to be able to use it. There are better 4th level spells.

    Vampiric Touch: With no save and your great bab, this is an awesome spell both draining him and powering yourself up. just be wary of spell resistance.

    Wind Wall: It is an awesome protection spell, but it pretty much makes you unable to attack back, save the occasional curse. best on a scroll or wand as a "backup".
    Last edited by Shades of Eternity; Friday, 27th April, 2007 at 08:28 PM.

  • #3
    Multiclassing with Hexblade.

    Even if Hexblade isn't your first choice in a character, you can often get a great deal with a 3 level dip. Mettle is hard to argue with and the charisma bonus to spell saving throws always helps.

    Barberian: With a 1 or 2 level dip into Barbarian, you can take feats. on feats like Dreadful Wrath, Intimidating Rage, & Extra Rage. These free Fear attacks stack with the hexblade abilities.

    Fighter: If you want to increase your survivability and make your character more of a tank, two levels of fighter are a good choice. They give full access to heavy armor, and couple of bonus feats.

    Monks are a very good "anti-mage" class and the improved movement really help the hexblade move into position. Plus evasion at level 2 make you a nightmare. When combined with anti-magic feats can make you a mage's worst nightmare.

    Rogue is also a good choice for it gives a sneak attack and evasion. uncanny dodge has it's uses as well.

    Prestige classes

    A number of Prestige classes are particularly noteworthy

    Blackguard: If you are playing an evil game, this is an excellent choice. Your saves will be through the roof. Dark blessing stacks with arcane resistance and mettle, giving you a substantial bonus. Aura of Despair combines well with the hexblade curses, and fiendish companion combines well with a strong familiar.

    Dragon Disciple: Remember, that despite the casting enhancements, the dragon disciple is a melee class. As a result the hexblade, with it's full bab is one of the best ways to progress into this class.

    Scarlett Corsair: besides the overt fun of a cursing pirate, at 5th level, a scarlet corsaire can use imtimidate at 5th level to all foes with 30 feet, for a number of rounds equal to his charisma level. This stacks well with the standard hexblade abilities. If you decide to take a familiar with this mix, might I recommend parrot.


    Builds

    The following are a number of builds that I have found throughout my travels.

    Archerer hexblade design
    Human Hexblade 20
    1 Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot
    3 Ability Focus (Curse)
    6 Practiced Spellcaster
    9 Improved Familiar (Winter Wolf)
    12 Rapid Shot
    15 Improved Precise Shot
    18 *Archer feat*

    Melee Hexblade Design
    Human Hexblade 20

    1- dreadful wrath, ability focus: hexblade curse
    3- power attack
    5- combat casting
    6- practiced spellcaster
    9- improved familar: winter wolf
    10- spell focus whatever
    12- arcane strike
    15- improved toughness (benefits you, yor winter wolf, and hound of doom spell), greater spell focus whatever
    18- improved initative
    20- spell penetration

    Quick Hexblade Design
    Catfolk hexblade 19
    1- dodge
    3- mobility
    6- spring attack
    9 - catfolk pounce
    12- practiced spellcaster
    15- power attack
    18- arcane strike


    Melee Design:
    Okay, how about:
    1 Intimidating Strike [PHBII]
    3 Power Attack
    5b Spell Focus (X)
    6 Practiced Spellcaster
    9 Improved Familiar (Winter Wolf) [CW]
    10 Greater Spell Focus (X)
    12 Brutal Strike [PHBII]
    15 Ability Focus (Curse)
    15b Spell Penetration
    18 Bonded Familiar [PHBII]
    20b Greater Spell Penetration

    Monk Hexblade

    Hexblade: 4 Monk: 16
    1 Blind Fight, Combat Expertise
    3 Mage slayer
    5 Dodge (Cobra Style Monk)
    6 Mobility (Cobra Style Monk), Pierce Magical Concealment
    9 Improved Combat Expertise
    10 Spring Attack (Cobra Style Monk)
    12 Elusive Fighter
    15 Pierce Magical Protection
    18 X (Improved Init or Sun School)

    This nets a +16 BaB (Flurry of Blows to boot) 80 movement (110 with expeditious retreat) the ability to ignore magical concealment. Base damage of 2d8. Amazing saves vs spells and spell like effects. Improved Evasion and Mettle. A really nice touch AC. The ability to ignore a BBEG tank with power attack. If your DM isnt a fan of lots of level dips it utilizes only 2 classes. The reason it goes with hexblade 4 is for BaB purposes (Going hex 3/ Fight 1/Monk: 16 with 2 flaws would allow for front loading of spring attack and then just use normal progression for monk but it will lose access to expeditious retreat which is handy for some spring attack situations and jumping situations)

    Other ideas

    Drow: 11 Hexblade/3 Blackguard/2 Ravager/2 Drow judicator

    The auras stack nicely, you also recieve the drow judicator abilities war strike (2d6 con, fort save for half) and the +3 to saves. the prereqs are all pretty much the same. Hexblade becomes extremely nasty with two levels of rogue. Evasion plus mettle means if you make your saving through, nothing will ever happen to you. plus the additional skill points really help setting up such feats as combat panache and goad Oddly enough, an interesting angle for the Hexblade is to take a level of Mindbender after 10th level (easy entry and minimal hardship to enter). Then at 12th level, take the Mindsight feat from the Lords of Madness. You could also take a 2nd level since that adds to BAB and gives you 2 other small-scale class benefits. Otherwise, this small dip only gives you a hit to BAB, yet you also get a nice addition to your Fort Save.

    The Mounted Hexblade: A hexblade is a fairly descent design for mounted combat. They get ride as a class skill, they can use mount, phantom steed or charm monster to increase their options. Additionally, the improved familiar can give them a truely awesome mount.

    Tactics and strategy.

    A Hexblade is an awesome 5th member to the standard 4 base classes. He can fight better then a bard and almost as well as a fighter, can ley down curses to help out your wizard's and smiting clerics. He doesn't have the arcane healing ability, but where the bard brings bonuses, the hexblade bring penalties.

    Remember, with a Hexblade you're not trying to kill the foe. You want to cripple him so that he can be destroyed at whim.

    Your best assets overall are defensive in nature. Your often best hanging back and/or trying to flank a target.

    One rules trick that might help is maxing out your Intimidation skills: a successful Intimidation check at the beginning of an encounter can lower your opponent's saving throws, increasing the chance your hex will stick. When you get access to spellcasting, avoid picking buffs that could be gotten from wands or potions, and concentrate on no-save attack or debuff spells.

    Remember you are not a spellcaster, you are a warrior with little bit of arcane casting. Also realize that a hexblade is more defensively orientated. Use this to your advantage.

  • #4
    PHB - Players HandBook
    DMG - Dungeons Masters Guide
    MM - Monster Manual I
    PHBII - Players handbook II
    DMGII - Dungeons Masters Guide II
    RofDr - Races of the Dragon
    RofW - Races of the Wild
    LM - Libris mortis
    CW - Complete Warrior
    CAr - Complete Arcane
    CV - Complete Adventurer
    CSc - Complete Scoundral
    DR - Draconomicron
    OA - Oriental Adventures
    A&E - Arms and Equipment
    DR - Dragon Magazine - often followed by a number

  • #5
    Some Great ideas!

    I have a Hexblade/Knight. Wierd combo I know, but I play him as a mocking swordsman.

    I love the intimidating strike + Curse combo. The former almost always makes my foe shaken, which means -2 to saves on the curse. Now BBEG is -4 to pretty much everything, and he's a lot less scary. Can't wait for my Dark Companion.

  • #6
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    Ignore Exquisite Dead Guy
    Nice work. I've never even considered a Hexblade before, but now I'm planning to use one against my players.
    Castles & Crusades Evangelist

  • #7
    yeah, when combined with dark companion means you can give a guy a -6 in one melee round .

    Let's just say you can take credit for half your buddy's fireball damage because of it.

  • #8
    Interesting stuff. I personally push Cha and Con over everything else, emphasizing survival in combat, since after all that's what the Hexblade is supposed to be good at.

    I would personally never put a Hexblade into Monk unless the DM ruled that aescetic mage worked with Hexblade levels. The class suffers from MAD enough as is.

    An interesting side note is that because their abilities are not precisely the same, the hexblade bonus vs. spells can be ruled to stack with divine grace from a variant paladin class.
    Will save or click
    Originally Posted by edhel
    I, for one, welcome our new petunia overlords.
    Originally Posted by Malum
    It was a war of attrition. The players had a set amount of hit points vs. the FB who had unlimited hit points.
    Originally Posted by K
    Anything with 'Elven' in the name does more damage.
    Originally Posted by Nifft
    I have great respect for "realism" in its natural habitat ("reality"), but I find it out of place in D&D, and on this board in particular.


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  • #9
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    Ignore Nazhkandrias
    I agree with most of what you've said - but personally, I would ALWAYS pick the Dark Companion. True, the familiar is a lot more powerful than that of a Wizard, but it's still weaker than most of the things you're going to be fighting. I don't ever put familiars into direct combat, since I don't want to give enemies an excuse to aim for my trusty animal friend. And that "year and a day" rule for replacement rule can HURT. The only reason I would ever get a familiar is to deliver touch spells, or for flavor. The Dark Companion still works extremely well, doesn't require you to invest any additional feats to improve upon, and when stacked with an enemy being Shaken, Intimidated, Cursed, and jinxed by various spells, they're screwed.

    As for spells, I would push Necromancy above all else. Necromancy's only real stigma is that it doesn't work on Undead, a negligable disadvantage, and many of its spells are close-range or touch, which is far too close for comfort for many Wizards and Sorcerers, but a Hexblade should be that close anyway.

    I have a fun build that I'm playing in a PbP game right now. I played him to level 10 in a real-life game with some of my friends, and he did wonderfully! He's a gestalt, but you could easily take most of your levels in Hexblade and maybe five or so in Bard (Harbinger). I posted him here. The only disadvantage to this "ultimate debuffer" build is that you have to put more emphasis on Cha than with a normal Hexblade, so point buy is the best method for creation here. Assuming that I had used 28-point buy (my default method), I would have gone with something along the lines of Str 16, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 8, and Cha 16. Either way, a Hexblade / Bard (Harbinger) build is a pretty misfortunate thing to be (for your enemies at least). If you want to walk a darker road, consider taking some levels in the Dirgesinger PrC (Libris Mortis). Just fits with the whole idea of the class, and gives some nice additionaly Bardic Music abilities that fit nicely with the Harbinger's idea.
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  • #10
    A Hexblade's familiar doesn't get Mettle. They just use the Hexblade's base saves if they are higher than the base animal.

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