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D&D 5E Bladesinger with a staff

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
So I’d like to make a staff wielding Bladesinger. However I don’t really want to put points into Strength.

However I did think a level of monk would allow the character to use Dex to hit and damage as a staff is a Monk Weapon.

Alternatively by investing in Wisdom it could be possible to cast Shillelagh and get Wisdom to Attack and Damage.

Add in polearm master to get a free attack when someone enters your space and a very good off hand attack as a bonus.

Id probably use the alternative race from Tasha’s. Our GM is kind and also gives us a bonus feat at level 1.

What are people thoughts? I appreciate that a rapier is just better for less effort but I do like the idea as a staff wielding wizard seems cool.
 

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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Well, at this point, since you DM looks like a good guy, just ask him to be able to wield a staff that deals 1d8 B in one hand, without the versatile option. As you said, the rapier is already doing that without any hoop jumping. Maybe 1d6 B, since you already plan to use a powerful feat that a rapier would not be able to benefit from.
 



jgsugden

Legend
If you have a fun character concept that requires a rule tweak, and it does not result in the balance of the game breaking, just ask the DM. Many DMs will realize it won't cause a problem and will allow you to just have the fun you want to have. Some will tell you no. That may be a sign that they're more interested in their idea of fun than yours. In those situations, you should expect to be constrained in your options, and may expect that they'll make rulings during the game that seem problematic. Those things have a pretty high correlation in my experience.

If they're concerned with the rules being abusive, suggest that you be given a magic staff that has only one magic property - to be used by a Bladesinger. That will allow the DM to control whether you can find other items that can be used by a Bladesinger later on, allowing them to use that as a power control level. Too strong? Well, then you find no other magic weapons that can be used by your Bladesigner. Fairly powered? They can add magical quarterstaffs with this ability and others.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
If I was your DM I'd have absolutely no issue with you taking a "rapier" that uses DEX and gives you 1d8 damage and you refluffing it as a staff. There's no reason whatsoever to deny that refluff.

Now to add in the Polearm Master feat to that? That's where you're probably going to find a little bit of pushback since the prerequisites for the feat involve something more than a refluff-- you're now using DEX on an attack for a feat that was meant for STR. Now me personally I'd also have no problem with you taking the feat, because at the end of the day you are still a wizard doing these two attacks a round with a 1d8/1d4 "rapier". With your smaller hit die you're not going to overpower your fellow warriors in the party by any stretch, so letting you play your wizard as you'd like would be a-okay with me. Your DM might think differently though.
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
If I was your DM I'd have absolutely no issue with you taking a "rapier" that uses DEX and gives you 1d8 damage and you refluffing it as a staff. There's no reason whatsoever to deny that refluff.

Now to add in the Polearm Master feat to that? That's where you're probably going to find a little bit of pushback since the prerequisites for the feat involve something more than a refluff-- you're now using DEX on an attack for a feat that was meant for STR. Now me personally I'd also have no problem with you taking the feat, because at the end of the day you are still a wizard doing these two attacks a round with a 1d8/1d4 "rapier". With your smaller hit die you're not going to overpower your fellow warriors in the party by any stretch, so letting you play your wizard as you'd like would be a-okay with me. Your DM might think differently though.
I think you’re right. Getting the staff Dex to damage is reasonable but when other stuff gets laid on top, I’d prefer to stick within the rules.

Perhaps a feat that gives Shillelagh is the solution and stack Wisdom. It will be MAD but I don’t see much choice. Taking a level of monk is a big pain for not much benefit.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
You might not get there, but polearm master for a bladesinger with a staff is a pretty big damage boost by level 14 when Song of Victory comes online - and they don't even have to use their bonus action to take advantage of their cantrip-for-one-attack feature.

It's a pretty decent boost to the at-will damage of the wizard archetype that already has the highest at-will damage.

So; 2d8+1d4+30, plus 1/2/3d8 from a SCAGtrip

That's 50.5 damage (before accuracy) at level 14. A fighter's at will is more like 36 damage unless they use GWM, and against reasonable ACs, GWM will only add 2-3 damage per round without something like precision attack or a way to gain advantage.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I think you’re right. Getting the staff Dex to damage is reasonable but when other stuff gets laid on top, I’d prefer to stick within the rules.

Perhaps a feat that gives Shillelagh is the solution and stack Wisdom. It will be MAD but I don’t see much choice. Taking a level of monk is a big pain for not much benefit.
A level of Monk gets you martial arts, which includes a bonus action 1d4+dex attack.

That saves you on getting PAM as the benefit is much reduced.

As you need 13 wis, your unarmored AC is 11+dex, 12+dex if you hit 14 wis. Not a huge benefit (with mage armor), but something.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
You might not get there, but polearm master for a bladesinger with a staff is a pretty big damage boost by level 14 when Song of Victory comes online - and they don't even have to use their bonus action to take advantage of their cantrip-for-one-attack feature.

It's a pretty decent boost to the at-will damage of the wizard archetype that already has the highest at-will damage.

So; 2d8+1d4+30, plus 1/2/3d8 from a SCAGtrip

That's 50.5 damage (before accuracy) at level 14. A fighter's at will is more like 36 damage unless they use GWM, and against reasonable ACs, GWM will only add 2-3 damage per round without something like precision attack or a way to gain advantage.
These are all very good points you make and indeed is something that should definitely be beared in mind. Although I would add that if by some chance this character/campaign reaches 14th level there would be two other things to consider that might lessen the issue you put forth.

First, that any fighter in the party will probably have acquired a much more powerful magic weapon by then which would boost their damage considerably (whereas the bladesinger-- still a wizard at the end of the day-- would be stuck with only the option of finding magical melee "quarterstaffs", items not nearly as powerful comparatively). So the actual damage comparison would probably be closer than we might think.

And second, since the bladesinger is indeed still a wizard... by 14th level there's always a good possibility that the character at that point has begun using their attack rounds to cast spells for damage or other wizardly control purposes, rather than still weapon attacking each and every round. Thus the bladesinger's melee damage is no longer is as important to him as often as it might have been at a lower level. At which point trying to compare the bladesinger to any other warrior in the party ends up not being that useful.

All in all, it's something that indeed could be an issue if not kept at eye on... but I personally do not think it would end up being that big of a deal. Especially when you also consider that by 14th level the warriors have hit points up the wazoo, while the bladesinger is still getting knocked on his rear all the time if he still wades into melee. ;)
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
Just to be clear, there’s no way of getting the martial arts ability through a feat? Taking a level out of any full spellcasting class is always painful.

Plus ironically having a level of monk is only gonna make me want to push Wis more for the Wis to AC
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
I find the metamagic feat from Tasha’s fascinating. Being able to cast a spell as a bonus, and attack, and cast a cantrip is very good. Even if you are limited to the number of times per day = to feats taken.
 


ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
First, that any fighter in the party will probably have acquired a much more powerful magic weapon by then which would boost their damage considerably

to make up for a 14 point deficit? A flametongue would do that, but the bladesinger could have a flametongue, too. The bladesinger is getting three strikes, here - just like the fighter is, and they have a better damage bonus than the fighter (+10 instead of +5), and can lay cantrip damage on top of that.

Its a reasonable assumption that if the DM will change the rules to allow the bladesinger to dexify and PAM a stave, they'll give them nice magical ones, too.


And second, since the bladesinger is indeed still a wizard... by 14th level there's always a good possibility that the character at that point has begun using their attack rounds to cast spells for damage or other wizardly control purposes, rather than still weapon attacking each and every round. Thus the bladesinger's melee damage is no longer is as important to him as often as it might have been at a lower level. At which point trying to compare the bladesinger to any other warrior in the party ends up not being that useful.

You're right - they're still a wizard. The class with arguably the most options and versatility in the game, only in this case with a subclass that already has great at-will damage has even better at-will damage. Good AC, tons of slots for shield and absorb elements, and Song of Defense. It is a strong subclass, and this is a straight damage upgrade for it - just as it already got one (the TCoE cantrip/attack change). It was good before, it's great now, and it doesn't need more.

In this case the bladesinger can absolutely hang with the fighter, blow the rogue out of the water (with at-will damage, too), and still do all their fun wizard stuff; and because of how PAM works there's no conflict with somatic components and dual wielding to get that bonus action attack, nor is there any startup time like there would be with Melf's Minute Meteors or Crown of Stars (and they don't have to spend any resources, either, other than bladesong). And all of that is before considering how easy it is for a bladesinger to gain advantage relative to a fighter.

It is a strong archetype for a strong class - and this is a buff that interacts with the subclass's strengths in a strong positive way.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
There's 2 different issues here. Simply reskinning a rapier into a 1d8 B weapon and calling it a staff is obviously no big deal.

Synergizing PAM with a Dex-based option that can then be used with Bladesinger (a strong subclass of a strong class) is a different kettle of fish, though. Doing that should require some sacrifice, either a dip or a 2nd feat. (Compare this to Revenant Blade from Eberron.)
 

JPL

Adventurer
I love staffsingers, especially if you think of it as just an arcanist martial art. Sages and various minor magic-users learn the basics of staff fighting, and a few melee-friendly cantrips, the same way a modern-day desk jockey might take a self-defense class or do a little tai chi or Tae-bo to stay fit. A PC might think of himself first and foremost as a scholar, who keeps getting dragged into "adventures" and continues to progress in his mastery just because he keeps getting into fights.

Might tie it into the monks of Azuth, actually. Monk + Sage + Magic Initiate feat (bladesinger cantrips and maybe Shield?) + a cool stick. Always shouts out the name of the technique he's using, and it's Dr. Strange-style gibberish.

Having said that . . . although bladesinger reads as more of a Dex-based class, I guess I'd just leave the rules as they are, and let the player figure out whether they want to do in terms of prioritizing Strength v. Dex.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
to make up for a 14 point deficit? A flametongue would do that, but the bladesinger could have a flametongue, too. The bladesinger is getting three strikes, here - just like the fighter is, and they have a better damage bonus than the fighter (+10 instead of +5), and can lay cantrip damage on top of that.

Its a reasonable assumption that if the DM will change the rules to allow the bladesinger to dexify and PAM a stave, they'll give them nice magical ones, too.
Not going to disagree with you on most of your points, but at least in terms of the quote above, I might suggest that if we assume the DM has been on point in allowing the bladesinger to do the PAM thing and keep things working for 14 levels... that the DM would also be able to recognize whether or not the character ended up overshadowing the other warriors in the game. At which point they'd know enough not to give the bladesingers a powerful magical melee quarterstaff too.

While the DM could give powerful magical melee weapons to both the wizard and the fighter, I'd be willing to bet that said DM would know what would be necessary to keep all the characters in the party relatively balanced with each other (both in terms of power and spotlight time), and thus would not admit things into the game that would throw that balance off. That would be my hunch.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
I might suggest that if we assume the DM has been on point in allowing the bladesinger to do the PAM thing and keep things working for 14 levels...
I don't think it is necessarily the case that the DM will allow this and balance it appropriately.

Rather, any DM that considers allowing dex+pam staves without a hefty drawback probably makes poor balance choices across the board.
 

JPL

Adventurer
Yeah, I guess I'd have no objection to a lighter staff that's a finesse weapon, but I would be reluctant to set that work with PAM.

I'd just work up a magic staff that uses Int instead of Str. You could sell a lot of those!
 

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