3.5 [D&D 3.0] How to build a Fighter-Mage?

Sitara

Visitor
D&D version is 3.0, not 3.5.

32 point buy.

Core races only.

Supplements allowed: PHB, DMG, , Sword and Fist, Defenders of the Faith, Song and Silence, Tome and Blood and Masters of the Wild, Hero Builder's Guidebook, Arms and Equipment Guide

Campaign will go up to level 10-12, assuming there is no TPK.

So, what's the best way to build a Warrior-Mage?


Since Unapproachable East is not allowed, that means I can't use the Raumathari Battlemage, which is a pity.

I am thinking of the following point buy:

Str 16
Dex 14
Con 14
Int 16
Wis 08
Cha 08

Race Human ??
Class Wizard 1 (Evoker)
Feats: EWP: Bastard Sword
Human Bonus??
All level up ability points will go into INT, giving me an 18 INT by level 8. The 14 DEX gives me a +2 AC which I can enhance by another +4 Mage Armor. Shield is better in many ways but only lasts for 1 min/level, MA lasts for 1hr/level which can get me through more than one combat with one casting even at lower levels. Yes it burns a spell slot, but at lower levels I can contribute more in combat via melee'ing than spell casting. I could wear armor, but the spell failiure chance, even of 20% bothers me. Any way to counter this apart from the Still Spell feat?

How does it look, and what should I do afterward? How to level up? What PRC to go for?

Please HELP!
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Re: ASF

1) I believe Mithril works much the same in 3Ed and 3.5Ed, namely that it is lighter and reduces ASF.

2) use spells that don't require somatic components.

3) use spells you can cast out of combat, and thus, unarmored.

4) there are PrCls in 3Ed that minimize ASF, liKe the Spellsword.

Personally, I wouldn't bother burning the 1st feat on XWP: Bastard Sword, since you're not going to be optimized for martial damage output & durability like a pure warrior. You're a skirmisher. You're flexible & versatile. Besides, if you go with a good one-handed martial weapon, that will free up your off-hand for a shield or- as you level- wands and the like.

Actually, if you go in with a build emphasizing one-handed spears & javelins, a Quiver of Ehlonna could make you into mobile artillery. Fill it with spears, javelins...and wands (instead of bolts/arrows).

Going that route means you don't need to have 4 good stats- Dex and Int (or Cha, if you go Sorc) and EITHER Str or Con will be sufficient.

I know the Wizard bonus Metamagic feats are seductive. But Sorcerer gives you the ability to spam good spells. Consider: Extend Spell coupled with the longer spell durations of many buff spells in 3Ed means you could buff yourself and your allies for HOURS with good stuff and never be concerned with ASF. If you do stick with Wizard, though, Specialize.
 
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Sitara

Visitor
Come on folks, more suggestions please. I know there are plenty of threads on Warrior Mage builds, but they are all 3.5e. I can only use 3.0 and the books I listed in the OP.

And I am set on using a sword, no thrown weapons please. :)

Any tips on opposing schools would be nice too. I am thinking about spec'ing in Evocation and taking Necro, Divination and Enchantment as opposing schools. By giving up Divination I give up True Strike, and that will hurt, but I don't want to give up Illusion due to Mirror Image.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
OK, sword it is. I'd still just go with a martial one-hander- longsword, scimitar, rapier or even short sword are just fine.

On Specialization: I generally pick opposition schools that reflect the personality of the PC, not adhere to metaconcepts of optimization.

Admitting I'm not an optimizer, I'll point out that Evocation is generally considered one of the weaker Specialty schools because defeating foes via direct damage is usually the least efficient...and there are so many resistances and immunities that affect its efficacy. Conjuration can cover a lot of Evocation's bases with the Orb spells & such. It can also cov some Abjuration. Make sure you have some school that is good vs undead, many of whom are immune to key spells in Enchantment, Illusion and Necromancy.

Also, do you know anything about the campaign world or DM? Info on either will help you figure out which schools will be more helpful in actual play.

If you look in my sig, you'll see a link for the Martial Arcanist database. The info is all post-3.5Ed, but the level-sorted list there covering spells without somatic components will help you find some of them.

This site- when active- covers 3Ed and 3.5Ed. As I recall, it also lets you search for spells by edition and whether they have a particular component.

http://dndtools.eu
 
I'm no expert on optimized builds, but a friend of mine played a fighter-mage character, and I can describe his build and choices:

His highest stats were Strength and Charisma, and he played a Human for the extra Feat. His first level was Fighter, and his second level was Sorcerer. He took Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Bastard Sword, so that he could deal high damage while keeping a hand free for somatic components. For armor, he always paid extra to have light armor made from Mirthil, and I recall that his Dex was decent as well (14 or something, maybe 15 at most).

In terms of spells, he focused on spells that would aid him in melee, such as True Strike and Mage Armor. As a Sorcerer, he had greater short term versatility instead of long term versatility; he could cast whatever spell he wanted, but had a limited range to pick from.

Another thing he did that helped him a lot was to use his high Charisma for more then just Sorcerer spells. He put ranks in Bluff and Intimidate, thus creating a versatile melee combatant with a few spells and excellent diplomatic skills.

Of course, this is not optimized, but I found it worked nicely for a casual campaign.
 

rgard

Visitor
D&D version is 3.0, not 3.5.

32 point buy.

Core races only.

Supplements allowed: PHB, DMG, , Sword and Fist, Defenders of the Faith, Song and Silence, Tome and Blood and Masters of the Wild, Hero Builder's Guidebook, Arms and Equipment Guide

Campaign will go up to level 10-12, assuming there is no TPK.

So, what's the best way to build a Warrior-Mage?


Since Unapproachable East is not allowed, that means I can't use the Raumathari Battlemage, which is a pity.

I am thinking of the following point buy:

Str 16
Dex 14
Con 14
Int 16
Wis 08
Cha 08

Race Human ??
Class Wizard 1 (Evoker)
Feats: EWP: Bastard Sword
Human Bonus??
All level up ability points will go into INT, giving me an 18 INT by level 8. The 14 DEX gives me a +2 AC which I can enhance by another +4 Mage Armor. Shield is better in many ways but only lasts for 1 min/level, MA lasts for 1hr/level which can get me through more than one combat with one casting even at lower levels. Yes it burns a spell slot, but at lower levels I can contribute more in combat via melee'ing than spell casting. I could wear armor, but the spell failiure chance, even of 20% bothers me. Any way to counter this apart from the Still Spell feat?

How does it look, and what should I do afterward? How to level up? What PRC to go for?

Please HELP!
Can you use UA? It's part of the SRD so there is a reference.

If you can, check out Battle Sorcerer.
 

Voadam

Adventurer
Tome and Blood has a fantastic feat, persistent spell, that allows combat buffs to last all day, but it adds 4 levels to the spells so it will only be effective at 9th for straight wizards for doing things like shield and at 11th doing things like all day blur as your capstone magic.

Straight wizards with a sword get chewed up in combat though at every level, even when specced out on melee combat spells. The AC never gets real good, the BAB hurts, and the hp are fairly crippling for head to head combat. Taking a level of fighter or other warrior class at first level helps at low levels but then you quickly fall behind as a warrior and are down a spell level as a caster.

Splitting half and half means you lose a lot of BAB and some hp as a fighter and either go without armor for a much lower AC or use a limited spell selection of no somatic components or lose extra spell levels for still spell on top of being a wizard of half the party level meaning your spell selection and the power of your spells is lower and you get fewer of them. It is a very poor choice. The spellsword PRC from Tome and Blood mitigates this a little with reducing some spell failure but you need to be 6th level to meet the prerequisites and you are still a wizard of half level and not full BAB progression even after entering the PRC. Still very weak at both fighting and magic with little synergy IMO.

Here is how I would suggest.

Either int or cha 11, the rest all in physicals. Level 1 is a warrior-type class of your choice for the max hp. Level 2 is either wizard or sorcerer. The rest is all warrior class who uses armor weapons, wands, and scrolls. Net -1 BAB, a few lower hp and back 1 in the warrior class. Most combat magic is from wands which can be used in armor and not provoke AoOs. Utility spells from scrolls usually out of combat out of armor. Low level utility and buff spells go a long way and you are a decent warrior. A wand of mirror image is fantastic for a front liner from as soon as you get it and stays useful even at high levels.

People do the warrior caster as a ranged combatant fairly decently because the lack of AC and hp does not hurt nearly as much, but I think you want Gandalf swinging a sword which is fairly tough to do effectively.
 
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Starfox

Adventurer
For a caster-mage, I'd always use a two-handed weapon. You can shift the grip on the weapon to hold itin only one hand as a free action, allowing you to cast spells (staff wizards do this all the time), and two-handed is just plain better than one handed without shield.

If you use a one-handed weapon, you might want to consider large shield. You can fight with it, it gives an AC bonus with the right feat, you can weild it two-handed for the extra damage, and you can cast spells - albeit with a spell failure chance. You can also put it down to cast spells without spell failure out of combat.
 
Your AC will always be low. Don't rely on it. Pick illusion spells such as Mirror Image and Displacement to make sure you just don't get hit.

At higher levels, you can actually get a good (indeed, ridiculous) AC by abusing Polymorph Self. Turn into a troll, enjoy your new high ability scores and natural armor. Polymorph Self lasts a long time in 3.0 too, IIRC.

Speaking of spell schools... specialize. You're going to be spell-limited, and you don't need the entire variety of spells, especially if there's already another mage in the group.

Your real problem is the action economy. Quicken Spell is too expensive to use on low-level defense spells, and you can't pull that off until you can cast 9th-level spells anyway. There's stuff in 3.5 and Pathfinder that relieve that, but you're sticking with 3.0, so there's no cure that I've seen.
 

Sitara

Visitor
Ok thanks for the tips guys, but I really need more help. I am going out of my mind here deciding what to do and what not to do. The game is this coming Saturday, we will be playing all evening until late night. We are going to start at level 1 and are expected to go all the way uptill level 3, give or take by adventures end. The adventure will then continue every other Saturday. Our DM says he designed the adventure to level us up quickly the first time, but subsequent adventures will have slower leveling, max of 1 per session if that.

Mithril is out of the question at level 1, so are masterwork items. The game is going to be low on magic and special items, especially as much time will be spent in the wild and in dungeons. Death is a real possibility in this game. Whoever dies joins the DM running monsters for that night only, and can rejoin the next game with a new character but with less xp than the rest of the survivors. This might seem harsh, but adds a cool thrill to the game (we are all old friends from High School so we are cool with it)

So anyway here is what I have planned:

-Race Human (free feat is too attractive since we start at level 1.)
-High Str and Int, followed by Con and finally Dex. I won't focus that much on AC like [MENTION=6693129]Severed[/MENTION]Head said, but I still need to survive to level 3-4 to be able to cast Mirror Image.
-First level will be Wizard. I want to cast spells right off the bat. Also, while I would actually prefer sorcerer, I will be loosing spell levels already due to multi classing into a fighter, so it's not worth it IMO to lose even more by taking Sorcerer. Best of all I get Scribe Scroll I can use to make back up scrolls for emergencies.
-Spec school Evocation or Abjuration. Opposing schools Necromancy, Divination, and Enchantment. Losing True Strike hurts, but it's the ONLY Divination spell worth taking for a warrior mage up until the really high levels. Just not worth it IMO. And I don't want to loose Illusion for mirror image and other cool stuff. I can also take Color Spray instead of Sleep to have a group disabler.
-Feat Choices: EWP Bastard Sword, Spell Focus (unless someone recommends another)

Now I need tips on how to proceed and/or further improve it. Should I go Wizard 3 asap in order to get mirror image? Or should I go for a Fighter level earlier?

And is Spellsword worth it? It seems really underwhelming. I mostly dislike the loss of spell casting levels. But there really is nothing else worthwhile to take. Blade singer sucks.
 
I would recommend taking Fighter levels fairly early on, at least level 2, if not level 1, as 1st level Wizards lack survivability. As a Fighter, you would have the benefits of high hp and armor, and be able to switch to Wizard with a high number of hit points as a buffer, so to speak.

In terms of school specialization, evocation isn't really the best idea in my mind. Certainly, don't take it as a banned school, but for a melee fighter/caster, evocation is unwieldy because if often requires you to be at great range. I would personally specialize in abjuration or conjuration. One awesome build would be to become for a summoner wizard, and go in to melee with your summoned monsters. The tactical value of summoned meat shields goes beyond even their stats. They can be used to harry dangerous enemies, to trip, to flank, to protect your back, and even as sacrifices to by time.

In terms of feats, I would take the Eschew Materials feat as past as possible. Spell components can be annoying. However, one build I might recommend trying is having Dexterity being your highest stat, and taking Weapon Finesse. This will allow you to have a high AC bonus, and while you will loose out on damage, a Bastard Sword deals 1d10 anyway.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
High Str and Int, followed by Con and finally Dex.
Personally, I'd choose Dex over Con- the extra HP you get from Con are an ablative resource; the ranged combat, initiative & AC bonuses you get from Dex are not.

And is Spellsword worth it? It seems really underwhelming. I mostly dislike the loss of spell casting levels.
If you're multiclassing into a non-casting class, you're already losing casting levels. With Spellsword, you don't lose as many, plus you gain the ability to ignore a certain amount of ASF and cast spells through your melee attacks.
 
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Ok thanks for the tips guys, but I really need more help. I am going out of my mind here deciding what to do and what not to do. The game is this coming Saturday, we will be playing all evening until late night. We are going to start at level 1 and are expected to go all the way uptill level 3, give or take by adventures end. The adventure will then continue every other Saturday. Our DM says he designed the adventure to level us up quickly the first time, but subsequent adventures will have slower leveling, max of 1 per session if that.

Mithril is out of the question at level 1, so are masterwork items. The game is going to be low on magic and special items, especially as much time will be spent in the wild and in dungeons. Death is a real possibility in this game. Whoever dies joins the DM running monsters for that night only, and can rejoin the next game with a new character but with less xp than the rest of the survivors. This might seem harsh, but adds a cool thrill to the game (we are all old friends from High School so we are cool with it)

So anyway here is what I have planned:

-Race Human (free feat is too attractive since we start at level 1.)
-High Str and Int, followed by Con and finally Dex. I won't focus that much on AC like [MENTION=6693129]Severed[/MENTION]Head said, but I still need to survive to level 3-4 to be able to cast Mirror Image.
-First level will be Wizard. I want to cast spells right off the bat. Also, while I would actually prefer sorcerer, I will be loosing spell levels already due to multi classing into a fighter, so it's not worth it IMO to lose even more by taking Sorcerer. Best of all I get Scribe Scroll I can use to make back up scrolls for emergencies.
-Spec school Evocation or Abjuration. Opposing schools Necromancy, Divination, and Enchantment. Losing True Strike hurts, but it's the ONLY Divination spell worth taking for a warrior mage up until the really high levels. Just not worth it IMO. And I don't want to loose Illusion for mirror image and other cool stuff.
Don't worry about True Strike. You won't miss it, unless you wanted to use lots of ranged attacks. Why? Because it's a standard action. It's almost a "neener neener" spell, in that it looks really good, but is actually worthless.

I can also take Color Spray instead of Sleep to have a group disabler.
-Feat Choices: EWP Bastard Sword, Spell Focus (unless someone recommends another)

Now I need tips on how to proceed and/or further improve it. Should I go Wizard 3 asap in order to get mirror image? Or should I go for a Fighter level earlier?

And is Spellsword worth it? It seems really underwhelming. I mostly dislike the loss of spell casting levels. But there really is nothing else worthwhile to take. Blade singer sucks.
This is kind of ... confusing. I'm not sure what your PC expects to do in combat. Color Spray is a fantastic 1st-level spell, but there's nothing distinguishing you from a 1st-level wizard who isn't going to become a fighter/mage. Furthermore, your Int will probably be lower than a "pure" mage, so your save DCs won't be as good. In other words, why do you want fighter levels?

If you're planning on buffing-and-bashing, then Spell Focus is a wasted feat. Spells like Magic Weapon would more suit you. If you could bribe your DM into allowing Wraithstrike (that's a 3.5 spell, unfortunately) that's all the better.

My recommendation would be to focus on touch spells. If there's a wizard spell that works like "Burning Blade", all the better. Unfortunately those spells are pretty lame at low level. :(

On the other hand, maybe you're just looking for a tougher mage.

I had forgotten how limiting school specialization was in 3.0. If you could keep Necromancy, you could use Vampiric Touch, a handy touch spell for when you're getting bashed. (I don't recall if False Life is a 3.0 spell, but if it is, I'd recommend trying to keep that school. That spell saved my 3.5 wizard's life numerous times, even though my wizard was not a fighter/mage.)

Be very careful about using defensive spells. A lot of listed defensive spells are worthless. Fiery Shield for instance. Tough fighters will simply absorb the hits and cut the mage up anyway, since the damage they have to take is pretty low.

I read a few other posts on this topic. One suggestion was to take Combat Expertise to survive low-level, and with your low AC this is always helpful. Of course it hurts your attack bonus. Another suggestion was to use Spring Attack and spells (I don't know if that's actually legal).

One of my own is to get a good familiar, like a bat. A bat can deliver touch spells. Instead of putting your fragile familiar in harm's way, have it cast touch buff spells on you. That helps relieve the action economy problem a little.

Similarly, the Mount spell gives you an assistant who is really handy. No, it isn't good at combat, but can still aid another, and more to the point, if you take Spirited Charge, you're dealing triple damage with melee attacks. Plus it's throw-away. Gets worse at high levels because it will fail every save thrown at it, such as AoE attacks, fear, etc.

See if Ability Enhancer is 3.0 or 3.5: http://www.realmshelps.net/cgi-bin/featbox.pl?feat=Ability_Enhancer

Take a look at Enlarge Person. It works a bit differently in 3.0 compared to 3.5, being weaker, but it can still help.

However, one build I might recommend trying is having Dexterity being your highest stat, and taking Weapon Finesse. This will allow you to have a high AC bonus, and while you will loose out on damage, a Bastard Sword deals 1d10 anyway.
Unfortunately you can't finesse a bastard sword.
 
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Sitara

Visitor
@(Psi)SeveredHead

I intend my PC to have the option of fighting in melee and casting spells, either destructive or utility. I am not looking to be the best in the game with either, just competent enough to have fun. A warrior-mage, nothing too fancy. Think Fighter/Mage from AD&D 2e.

Enlarge person is indeed useful in 3e, unlike 3.5e where it is basically useless. Here is the 3.0e SRD. If you have time, please skim it over and give me more tips. You have been very helpful :)

http://www.opengamingfoundation.org/srd.html

Combat Expertise is a good feat, but I don't want to reduce my attack bonus. I am not looking to be competent in multiple attacks at all, just a single attack. I was hoping to use Mage Armor + dex bonus to cover my armor needs (until I get something like Amulet of Natural Armor or Bracers of Armor...but magic items will be rare in this game) when I am in melee. Mage armor lasts 1 hour per level so it can last me 2 combats in the first level or so as long as both combats occur within a close timeframe of each other.

Also, a good thing about this game is that it involves travel in the wilderness with no random encounters. All encounters are hand picked, and days may pass in narration between encounters so characters will be fully healed and all spells memorized. However the encounters we do play out will be tough and designed to use 50% or more of the party's resources, no piddly challenge ratings. If only one encounter is planned between days of travel, it will be designed with 80%+ of the party's resources in mind

Thus, doing damage is important in melee and magic as well as spells that disable. Spells like Charm Person are not that useful, at least not initially. Later on we will spend time in towns and doing some investigation, as well as possibly a large amount of time on the high seas on a ship, so non combat utility spells will be more useful then.

So I was thinking about taking Power Attack rather than Combat Expertise; a -2 to attack won't hurt much at lower levels with a moderate to high attack bonus from STR, and by wielding a Bastard Blade in two hands I can add a goodly amount of damage to a blow if needed.

For combat spells I was thinking to use the Orb cheeze err I mean spells, like lesser Fire Orb or Lesser Electric Orb from Tome and Blood. They do much more damage than Magic Missile at lower levels, and with the high dex bonus (for a high AC) I could have a greater than average decent chance to hit. @TolumvireOfArendur 's suggestion of using Weapon Finesse would be almost perfect, but finesse weapons suck. Coolness is one of the main reasons I want to play this character, and wielding a rapier is the definition of uncool. Not to mention the piddling damage. Regarding buff spells I want to avoid them, because most have very little durations, only enough for one fight. Useful to have in a spellbook to save for the BBEG, so I will take Bulls Strength if I get to level 3, but overall I prefer longer durations like Mage Armor's.

Hmm, can I use a Katana as a finesse weapon? That would work out really well.

EDIT: Oh and for Familiars, I am going for Toad for the +2 to CON. Yeah I know it's super cheezy but this is a MAD build so I need all the cheeze I can muster. That's why I am here asking you good folk for your expertise!! :)
 
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@(Psi)SeveredHead

I intend my PC to have the option of fighting in melee and casting spells, either destructive or utility. I am not looking to be the best in the game with either, just competent enough to have fun. A warrior-mage, nothing too fancy. Think Fighter/Mage from AD&D 2e.
I've played 7 years of 2e and that trope never really made sense to me. You would need to have spells that make you good in melee and spells that blast/control and weapons skills. Or perhaps you're looking to use spells first, then when you run out use a weapon. That seems a good idea at low levels, but it only really works out when you've got a few levels under your belt, by which point you're not really running out of spells.

Enlarge person is indeed useful in 3e, unlike 3.5e where it is basically useless. Here is the 3.0e SRD. If you have time, please skim it over and give me more tips. You have been very helpful :)
I looked that up already, but it seemed confusing in 3.0. Apparently you need two levels before you even get +1 Strength out of it. (The 3.5 version immediately gave you a size bonus, for extra damage, and the penalty to hit was canceled out by the bonus to Strength.)

I was hoping to use Mage Armor + dex bonus to cover my armor needs (until I get something like Amulet of Natural Armor or Bracers of Armor...but magic items will be rare in this game) when I am in melee. Mage armor lasts 1 hour per level so it can last me 2 combats in the first level or so as long as both combats occur within a close timeframe of each other.
Be sure to take Craft Wondrous Item. Available at 3rd-level. If you have a cleric they'll be happy too, as they can cooperate with you to make cleric-only items.

Also, an AC of about 17 isn't impressive, not when a 1st-level fighter can have more, all day. You're still going to need those short-term non-AC-boosting defensive buffs.

Also, a good thing about this game is that it involves travel in the wilderness with no random encounters. All encounters are hand picked, and days may pass in narration between encounters so characters will be fully healed and all spells memorized. However the encounters we do play out will be tough and designed to use 50% or more of the party's resources, no piddly challenge ratings. If only one encounter is planned between days of travel, it will be designed with 80%+ of the party's resources in mind

Thus, doing damage is important in melee and magic as well as spells that disable.
Even big fights don't last long (in terms of rounds), so you should probably focus on very short-term powerful buffs or attack spells after a few levels rather than longer-term buffs. (Simply put, those are worth more than sword swings.)

Regarding buff spells I want to avoid them, because most have very little durations, only enough for one fight.
Were you talking ability score buffs, or defensive buffs?

Hmm, can I use a Katana as a finesse weapon? That would work out really well.
No, that's not possible in the rules. A katana is actually a pretty big and heavy weapon anyway.

EDIT: Oh and for Familiars, I am going for Toad for the +2 to CON. Yeah I know it's super cheezy but this is a MAD build so I need all the cheeze I can muster. That's why I am here asking you good folk for your expertise!! :)
They can still deliver touch spells on you. Too bad True Strike isn't a touch spell, because ... :lol:
 

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