5E [GUIDE] Raven Soul : thematically optimising Shadow Blade for insane damage

Fevvers

Visitor
Raven Soul / Eldritch Soul
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A ridiculously OP Melee DPR build for Eldritch Knight/Divine Soul focusing on Shadow Blade & Booming Blade, with TPK Management as their secondary role. RAW & RAI, No UA, Not AL compliant, requires Feats and Multi-Classing variant rules. Shadar-kai would be ideal mechanically and thematically.


Build Notes

This build is designed to maximise the synergy between Booming Blade, Warcaster, Shadow Blade, Twin-casting, Mobile, Elven Accuracy and War Magic for Melee DPR, with Action Surge & Hexblade’s Curse for Nova.

As a secondary role this build is designed to Tank its way through a TPK, providing emergency Healing Word, Revivify and Mass Healing Word to get the party back on its feet, while protecting self with Protection against Evil & Good (PEG), Darkness, Warding Wind and Blur. There are options to also pack Rope Trick and Catnap for emergency short rests in hostile territory after a near-TPK. Scatter at 20th level.

Tertiary roles are as a Party Buffer with Aid, Death Ward and Freedom of Movement (FoM) from 14th-20th level, and an everyday buffer of ability checks with Guidance, able to be delivered via familiar, from 5th level, and Control, using Booming Blade & Mobile.

You are up and running at 7th level, getting pretty god-like at 11th, with more big DPR boosts at 13th, 16th, 17th and 20th. Five ASIs are available: at 4th, 8th, 10th, 13th & 17th level.



Roles

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DM’s Notes (a.k.a. But How Do I Kill It?)

Very reliant on magical damage, especially psychic & thunder, delivered at melee range, and thus very susceptible to magical damage limitation. Low Wisdom and Intelligence saves, mediocre Charisma saves. That old classic, an illithid riding an enslaved beholder should ‘solve’ any ongoing issues you may have with this build being too OP. Dominate Person and similar will annoy them until they get Resilient (Wisdom).



Colour Code

Gold Yes!
Blue Highly Recommended
Green Reasonable
Red Better than nothing
Black Nope


Ability Scores

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I’ve given a possible 9 in Strength for those using Variant Encumbrance rules. Very difficult to wear a breastplate and maintain mobility on an 8 Strength. If you aren’t using Variant Encumbrance then 8 is sufficient. You will have proficiency in Strength saves and take Athletics to make up for your low base score.

Dexterity is your maxing-out stat. You will be using Shadow Blade as a finesse weapon, as a Dexterity-based fighter. It’s your boost to AC, Initiative and a major saving throw.

Constitution is your second favourite ability score. You’re a front-line fighter: plentiful hit points and a solid Constitution saving throw is mandatory.

Intelligence is completely useless to you, except in a role-playing sense. You will not be using any attack that requires an Intelligence based spell attack or Intelligence saving throw.

Wisdom is where any spare points go; Wisdom saves are a big deal. The very last thing any party wants is a god-like fighter turning on the party while under Dominate Person. You need to choose whether you take 9 and upgrade to 10 with the Resilient (Wisdom) feat later, (at 13th level) or take it at 10, upgraded later to 11. If you’re not using Variant Encumbrance rules, go 10. (This advice is quite different if you’re playing a Half-Elf, impacts Charisma too, see below).

Charisma needs to be 13 to multi-class into Sorceror (and possibly Warlock). It’s a great stat, and will affect most spell attacks that you use that require a saving throw. However, this build seeks to avoid saving throws, so, 14 is as high as you need, unless you’re a Half-Elf, and want to take some social skills.

Half-Elves either take 14 in Charisma and 13 (later to become 14 with Resilient (Wisdom)) Wisdom (after racial modifiers), or 16 Charisma, 9/10 Wisdom (later 10/11 with Resilient (Wisdom)). First choice allows half-elf characters greater scope in deciding their extra skills: Insight, Perception & Survival become viable. Second choice improves DC for offensive cantrips, and makes taking a social skill worth the investment.


Races

(1) Shadar-kai Perfect in every way, including thematically.

(2) Sea elves They’re elves, with the necessary +2 Dexterity & +1 Constitution, but lacking the wonderful Raven Queen’s Blessing and resistance to Necrotic damage. Also, they are harder to link into the build thematically, I think, but that’s most likely my own lack of imagination.

(3) Warforged (Skirmisher) if they could take Elven Accuracy they’d be gold.

(4) Goblins Yes, Goblins! +2 Dex, +1 Con, Darkvision, 30ft movement even though Small. They don’t have access to Elven Accuracy, however, their innate Disengage ability, means that you could forgo taking Mobile and take Squat Nimbleness instead, with Shield Mastery instead of Elven Accuracy. You also get to use Hide, and Fury of the Smol is kind of cute. However, Disengage and Hide burn up your bonus action, which, along with no Elven Accuracy will significantly affect your DPR. Also, no innate Misty Step. On the other hand, watching BBEGs getting torn to shreds by a goblin... hehehe. One for the great players.

(5) Stout Halflings Like goblins, but with no darkvision, and only 25ft movement. Again, no Elven Accuracy, and you have to take Mobile, so no option for Shield Mastery. Squat Nimbleness is still a very good choice however. On the plus side, resistance to Poison damage means you can forgo taking Protection from Poison and take Darkvision instead, until you obtain a pair of Night-Vision Goggles and then take, say, Misty Step. You are also Lucky and Brave. You can do it, but it’s going to be a bit of a struggle. One for the greater players.

(6) Variant Human You’re not an elf. No darkvision. No resistances. You’re not lucky, brave or all that nimble. You will have to take +2 Dexterity instead of Elven Accuracy, and getting hold of night-vision goggles must be a priority. However, you can take Shield Mastery at 1st level, and you’re a Dex-based fighter...

(7) Half-Elf Every list, there it is, the ubiquitous half-elf. The biggest problem with the half-elf is that your starting Dex is 16, making maxing it and getting Elven Accuracy something of a dilemma. One to consider if you’ve rolled your stats and can get 17 Dexterity after applying racial modifiers. On the plus side, with point-buy, your Wisdom needn’t be quite so awful.


Shadar-kai Raven Soul

The Shadar-kai is perfect for this build both mechanically and thematically. I didn’t actually set out to make a Shadar-kai specific build – initially, I was just looking for an elf sub-race that had Constitution as its secondary ability score modifier. However, resistance to Necrotic damage is excellent, adding nicely to the list of damage types this build can effectively be resistant to. Raven Queen’s Blessing is amazing; it makes the Shadar-kai perfect for TPK Management - a once-a-day get-out-of-jail-free card that also gives you a round of resistance to all damage. Which, should be as long as you need to drop one of your defensive spells or heal/revive the fallen before you all run away, ahem, make a strategic withdrawal to fight another day. It may be worth saving your Action Surge for this, when up against BBEGs. You also don’t need to take Misty Step as a spell choice, although Dimension Door is still very highly recommended for when you can get it.

Thematically, Shadar-kai is even better than it is crunch-wise. Consider the possibility of a Shadar-kai Eldritch Knight who, like all Shadar-kai is helping to maintain the Raven Queen by subsuming their personality into ‘Hers’. But there is, for some Shadar-kai, occasionally, a feedback loop, whereby the Raven Queen’s soul-essence begins to manifest through the Shadar-kai, allowing them to manifest much more advanced arcane powers than usual. Consider... that the Shadow Blade, around which this build is solidly based, could, perhaps, be a slice of the Void itself, and that exposure to the Final Reality is what causes those injured by it to suffer psychic damage as their sense of personality and identity disintegrate – just as the Raven Queen’s is said to do, albeit so much more slowly. Consider also, that as the Shadar-kai’s mastery of the Shadow Blade becomes more obvious, the Raven Queen may demand a formal Pact with this host for Her soul-essence, so as to maintain control over how Her powers are being used. In return, the Raven Queen offers to show Her ‘protégé’ how to rescue people, who’s time has not yet come, from near-death and how to perfect the use of the Shadow Blade... and so become... the Raven Soul.

I’m starting to think of this build as the Raven Queen’s answer to the Bladesingers of the Feywild.

I call this build Eldritch Soul when applied to any race other than Shadar-kai.



Skills

Acrobatics Escape grapples – vitally important when relying on Mobile.
Athletics You’ll be expected to be able to swim, climb and jump.
Perception Because it’s Perception, also, you’re probably an Elf.
Stealth Because being Dexterity-based, you can.
Deception } One of these, maybe, because you’ve got decent Charisma.
Intimidation} Intimidation seems most thematic, utilising Thaumaturgy...
Persuasion } Certainly this doesn't seem like a build that excels at diplomacy.
Insight If you’re taking a social skill.
Survival If you’re not.
Investigate Your Intelligence is meh, and not going to get better without magic.
Any other Dexterity or Charisma based skills.
Any other Wisdom or Intelligence based skills.



Backgrounds

If you can find a background that, along with Fighter, will enable you to take the four gold standard skills, plus, say, Thieves’ Tools, I’d say that was ideal.

Urban Bounty Hunter hits the spot nicely. Languages aren’t important, you’re not the party Face, and, while you can ably support the Point person, using Guidance and the Help action, you’re no Infiltrator. Note that proficiency with a Gaming Set allows you to make Insight checks with advantage according to Xanathar’s. This would synergise nicely with a social skill (looking at the half-elves...).



Multi-class split: 8/12, 9/11 or 8/11/1?

The Raven Soul was originally conceived as an 8/12 Eldritch Knight/Divine Soul build. However, 12th Sorceror is, frankly, very weak: no new spells or slots, +1 Sorcery Point and an ASI – which you only get at 20th level.


8th EK & 12th DS

If you are going 12th DS, recommended ASI upgrades are:


  • +2 Constitution or Tough. Hit points are great.
  • Shield Master. You have a shield and high Dexterity... say goodbye to oh so much Dexterity saving throw damage.
  • Elemental Adept (Thunder). Thunder is one of your main sources of consistent damage. All thunder damage 1’s become 2’s, and... nullifies resistance.

However, none of this is available until 20th level. On the other hand, not caring what you get at 20th level means you take every level from 13th onwards one level earlier.



9th EK & 11th DS

Alternatively, going 9th EK gives: Indomitable, at 15th level, when it still has some time to make a difference. It synergises nicely with Favoured of the Gods and it might even be worthwhile picking up the Resistance cantrip.

This is GOLD if your DM doesn’t permit the use of Pact Magic slots for non-Warlock spells.



8th EK, 11th DS & 1st Hex

Or, one level of Hexblade Warlock, for:

  • Hexblade’s Curse, which synergises amazingly with the rest of the build
  • 2 more cantrips with a Charisma DC
  • Armour of Agathys
  • One more 1st level spell
  • One 1st level spell slot per short rest; which basically means one more Twincast per short rest (DM permitting)
  • Hex Warrior is pretty useless since you have Weapon Bond and are using Shadow Blade most of the time anyway.

Absolutely recommended; but at what level to take it? It pushes every level afterwards back one, slowing progress at early levels or, if taken too late will make little difference.


Why Divine Sorceror and Eldritch Knight?

Draconic Bloodline Sorceror would be an excellent alternative to Divine Soul if such a creature as a dragon that dealt thunder damage existed. Draconic Resilience is amazing for this build, taking Duelling Fighting Style instead of Defence. The minute WoTC brings out a dragon that does Thunder damage... (This would also make Elemental Adept (Thunder) incredibly attractive, even at 20th level).

However, since almost all damage is coming from Shadow Blade/Booming Blade, then leaving all other spell slots for heals, revives and buffs that can be Quickened or Twincast is pretty amazing. Eldritch Knight for War Magic, which really gets some love from this build, and the +2 to slot levels from being a 1/3rd caster gives access to 5th & 7th level Shadow Blade. The close-packed ASI/Feats at 4th, 8th, 10th and 13th level get the supporting feats online at the right time to make the DPR progression smooth and reasonably early (7th – 13th level is when everything starts coming together nicely).


Why not Paladin or Hexblade instead of Eldritch Knight?


I’m confident that Sorcadin and Hexblade Sorlocks have had a whole lot of love already. EK maximises the SB/BB synergy with War Magic giving a Shadow Blade attack as a bonus action after every Twincast Booming Blade (which also uses Shadow Blade). I feel this really makes EK blossom in the mid to late game when EK can seem, to me, to be a bit under-gunned.

Paladin does, of course, give Divine Smite, Aura of Protection and +4 to slot levels compared to EK’s +2, for -2 cantrips, -1 ASI/Feat, no War Magic, no Action Surge, and needs to be Strength-based otherwise MAD. Divine Smite will burn slots very quickly.

Hexblade gives 4 Invocations, a Pact Boon, +8 Sorcery Points per short rest (!), for -1 cantrip, -1 ASI/Feat, no War Magic, no Action Surge, no Fighting Style and no Second Attack (Shadow Blade is not a Pact Weapon) so very Twincast dependent. Not as MAD as a Paladin, but still needs Dexterity for SB/BB since Hex Warrior cannot apply to Shadow Blade.


Why not just be a Bladesinger?

Why not, indeed? Bladesingers get tons of versatility, best AC, and is a great Shadow Blade vehicle. However, Bladesingers can’t Twincast Booming Blade, which means BB damage only comes from Warcaster opportunity attacks. And maybe you don’t want to be hanging around for attacks of opportunity? Given that having to max both Dexterity and Intelligence means very little left over for Constitution, and you have a d6 for hit points. The Raven Soul is a good deal less squishy than the Bladesinger, and dishes out more damage. Also: heals.

I can easily imagine the two traditions being great rivals, and that a laconic and fatalistic Shadar-kai might value ‘a good death’ at the hands of a master Bladesinger more highly than yet another victory over less worthy opponents.


The Build

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Magic Items

Assuming a High Magic setting (i.e. that magic items are plentiful), I’d suggest:

RavenSoul_MagicItems.png

Adamantine Breastplate


You’ll be wearing a breastplate for most of the characters’ adventuring life. You’re a frontline fighter. Critical hits are very annoying. This becomes a less essential item once you aquire a Cloak of Displacement (0. 25% chance of a Critical Hit, aka 400:1) and should be replaced with magical studded leather after that.

Winged Boots (requires attunement)


Flying is great. At-will flight is even better. Winged Boots give a flying speed equal to your walking speed, which means that if Hasted after picking up Mobile, you could have a flying speed of 80ft./round, Dash while flying for 160ft./round; as fast as dragons.


Sentinel Shield


The advantage given to initiative outweighs the lack of a +1 to AC. To get the most from the Control aspect of Booming Blade you need to be attacking before the enemy does, so as to tie targets up before they can get stickied on your squishier party members. The same goes, arguably even more importantly, for reacting to a near-TPK incident – you really want to be getting your protection and heal spells cast and then getting the hell out of Hell before the enemy can step in and finish you all off. Your excellent Dexterity score gives you a good chance of this when combined with the advantage from this item. Advantage gives an 80% chance of rolling 10 or higher, +3/+4/+5 initiative modifier from 17/18/20 Dexterity, gives a 36%-43%-51% chance of an initiative count of 20+. Perception checks with advantage are nice too. Note that RAI this will add +5 to your passive Perception too.

Pearl of Power (requires attunement, spellcaster only)


Three more twincasts or one more 3rd level casting of Shadow Blade every single day, need I say more? It’s a great shame to part with this for a Ring of Spell Storing at 17th. This helps to balance out the lack of sorcery points due to EK levels.

Cloak of Displacement (requires attunement)


You can’t use Blur and Shadow Blade simultaneously. Giving enemies who rely on sight disadvantage to hit you is a very good thing. An enemy with a +10 attack modifier has an 84% chance to hit a 19 AC (your base AC for most of your character’s adventuring career) without disadvantage, 36% with. To hit 24 AC (taking into account Shield) the same enemy has a 35% chance without disadvantage, 12.3% with. Swap Blur out for Revivify as soon as convenient once you aquire this item.

Rapier +1


Sometimes, there will be enemies who are immune to psychic damage. Constructs loom largely in mind. Or you’ll need to fight in melee while under the effect of one of your protection spells. A non-magical silvered adamantine rapier might suffice...

Ring of Spell Storing (requires attunement)


Lots of Shield and Absorb Elements spells is very good indeed. From 12th level onwards you will have five 1st level slots and three 2nd level slots. Once you have a Ring of Spell Storing, try to keep your 1st level slots unused throughout the day, relying on the RoSS instead. This gives you eight potential slots for Shield and Absorb Elements. Since Absorb Elements can be upcast at 2nd level but Shield cannot, storing four Shield spells and one Absorb Elements spell in the RoSS gives you the possibility of four of each, per day. Your five unused first level slots can be used to restock the RoSS, or, much more likely, for the inevitable emergencies.

Studded Leather +2


No more attunement slots left. AC is god. You’re definitely back in leathers after 17th level and your +2 Dexterity ASI.

(Broom of Flying)


If you cannot bear to give up the Pearl of Power then give up Winged Boots and Rapier +1 instead, and take the annoying Broom. It takes both hands to operate, and is thus seemingly quite useless for combat. Prove me wrong.

Arcane Power

RavenSoul_Power.png

*Power is calculated by totalling the number of spell slots available for each level, and multiplying by the slot level e.g. four 1st level slots = 4*1 = 4, three 2nd level slots = 3*2 = 6, and then adding daily available sorcery points to the total. A Pact magic slot is worth three times as much, e.g. two 5th level Pact Magic slots = 2*(5*3) = 30.

Caveat: this is my own rating invention to give a rough numerical value to gauge differences in arcane power between levels and classes.

Comparing the magical power of the two source classes with the multi-class, I think the Eldritch Soul comes out quite favourably at about halfway in between the two, while having more cantrips and spells available than either source class.

The table below gives a side-by-side comparison of growth in arcane power of all three classes. I haven’t gone to the indulgence of calculating *Power for every level.

Key

CL: Class Level
P: Sorcery Points
C: Cantrips known
S: Spells known
L: Maximum spell level available (this only affects the Raven Soul)

Spell Slots (1-x): Number of spell slots available for each spell level
Note that the fifth 1st level slot the Raven Soul gets at 12th level is a Pact slot.


RavenSoul_Slots.png

It is noticable that the Raven Soul build has a significant slowing down of increase in arcane power between 9th – 13th levels. However, you are picking up two attacks, Elven Accuracy, War Magic, Hexblade’s Curse and Resilient (Wisdom) during this time. You have a steady supply of 3rd level slots for Shadow Blade, Booming Blade boosts at 11th level, and with a Pearl of Power in your possession, a reasonable number of Sorcery Points to Twincast with.


Additional Thoughts

Certainly there is a case to be made for dumping EK 7-8 and Hexblade 1, and going DS 5 at 11th level instead. This gives 5th level Shadow Blade at 13th, and 7th level Shadow Blade at 17th. No War Magic or Hexblade’s Curse. Hmmm, Elven Accuracy still arrives at 10th, Resilient (Wisdom) and +2 Dexterity ASI are both put back, but only one level, to 14th and 18th respectively. This also opens up 7th level spells and an 8th level slot, as well as giving you Otherworldly Wings at 20th level. A very nice capstone indeed! And 8th level Globe of Invulnerability means you can still retain your 6th level slot for Scatter... but... no 3-5d8+4-11 bonus attack every turn, from 11th level onwards, nor 30% crits from 12th. Choices, choices... hmmmm.

Cantrip choices

This build gives you ten cantrips. Thank you, yes, you're welcome! You have to take Booming Blade and Thaumaturgy, and it would seem foolish not to take Guidance if it is so conveniently available, especially since you will have a familiar who can deliver Guidance to other party members by touch.

My suggestions for the remaining seven are completely replacable. The ones I have suggested offer a variety of damage types and saving throws for those situations when your main attack isn't an option.

Acknowledgements

I couldn't have written this without the style and logic of the excellent guides already to be found here. Obliza
in particular really opened my eyes to the possibilities inherent in the Divine Soul. It was the missing link that I was looking for when trying for a build that could maximise Shadow Blade - Booming Blade, which is really all this build is about. Everything else is icing, but I do hope that you will find that the 'icing' works towards a mechanical and thematic whole.

Feedback Please!

I would be interested to hear your thoughts about this build.
Any improvements or questions readily responded to. Thank you for taking the time to read this, my first build!
 

Attachments

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Fevvers

Visitor
Tl;dr? Why this build?

Potentially 75d8+70 action surge damage [145-670, 407.5av.] at 20th level, not including critical hits, which have a 15-30% probability.

Potentially 51d8+60 damage without action surge [111-468, 289.5av.] at 20th level, ditto criticals.
 

RogueJK

Visitor
A nice writeup on a cool, thematic build.

Seems great for a high level character. But how does it play at lower levels, where most campaigns seems to take place? For example, I think Levels 5-8 would feel fairly lackluster as both a melee fighter and a caster, when you have only one attack and only 1st or 2nd level spells, while everyone else is running around with nifty higher level abilities, multiple attacks, 3rd and 4th level spells, etc.
 

Fevvers

Visitor
@RogueJK
Thank you, for both your praise and very pertinent feedback!

I did wonder about 5th level: whether to take DS1 or EK5. Two attacks would seem pretty essential to an EK build. And that would strongly influence taking EK6 next for Mobile as well as rounding up the spell slot boost for DS by two levels when DS1 is eventually taken (i.e. 3rd level casting at DS1).

So I ran a play-test, comparing EK4/DS2 build with taking pure EK to 6th level.

And soon discovered that a single attack with advantage (from owl familiar help action) doing 1d8+3 non-magical piercing, plus 1d8 thunder, plus either 2d8 triggered thunder damage or that opponent unable to move, is not only slightly more statistical DPR than two attacks, only one with advantage doing 1d8+3 non-magical piercing damage each, but also slightly more fun.

Bear in mind that DS1 allows you to pick up Inflict Wounds for excellent opportunity damage, and Shield of Faith and Favoured by the Gods allows a nice degree of Tanking. Possibly even tanky enough to deliberately trigger opportunity attacks, opening the field for other members of the party. Shield + Shield of Faith = +7AC.

So, you are off-setting Second Attack and Mobility for increased AC, excellent opportunity attack damage, improved emergency save 1/short rest, two excellent combat cantrips, the ability to boost everyone's ability checks using Guidance delivered via owl fam - you don't even need to be next to the party member. Your party's rogue could be stuck halfway up a sheer wall, trying to disable a trap, and you can still Help...

6th level gives extra hp with False Life - not ordinarily available to EK, and immediately can be cast at 2nd level, and an extra first level slot. However, it has to be admitted, 6th level is the closest this build has to a dead level. However, EK doesn't get a second level slot until level 7. Pure EK6 gets four 1st level slots. Raven Soul 6 gets five 1st level slots and two 2nd level. 5-7 Shield/Absorb Elements is almost twice as effective as EK's 4.

7th is where the fun starts. The first time I was able to Action Surge a double twincast SB/BB it changed to course of the combat. I had to burn a Shield spell to escape the four opportunity attacks made against me, however, four opponents took major damage, some didn't move or attack and died the following round, some did, and died this round. Everyone else could melee swarm these four opponents and move away without taking opportunity attacks! Plus my familiar was able to give another PC advantage because I was getting mine from SB (it yielded one critical in this Action Surge round) I didn't personally kill any of these opponents, but, adding together the damage inflicted over the turn, definitely made it easier for the rest of the party to finish this fight remarkably quickly. It was at this point that I started to think that this build might have some legs to stand on.

8th-13th: personally I think this is the most fun part of the build's development! Every level you get something to boost that thing you do best. If anything, I think the build loses momentum after 13th, although the TPK management spells and chunky damage boosts alleviate that somewhat. However, 9th is definitely contender for most dead level even though that's where Second Attack is picked up.

See, having two attacks is kind of irrelevant when you are using Twincast Booming Blade to get two much more powerful and potentially Controlling attacks in. This then becomes three attacks with War Magic.

As to the envy the Raven Soul might feel towards pure casters with their 3rd and 4th level spells - remember you are a magical fighter, not a wizard or cleric. It's about boosting the EK chassis' magical fighting abilities by harnessing it to the Divine Soul engine. That's why you won't see Fireballs or Spirit Guardians anywhere in this build. They're great spells but completely irrelevant to this build. Note that Raven Soul does get 3rd level slots five levels earlier than EK, and that 3rd level Shadow Blade is the maximum level casting for an EK.

Gosh, I have gone on a bit; sorry about that! Hope my reply isn't too tedious. Also, must admit a terrible personal weakness for using italics! :)
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I'd like to look at this assuming a reasonable number of encounters per day. Let's say 4-6.

Caster level 5 is where you just about have enough 2+ level slots to cast Shadow Blade every encounter. That comes on at character level 9. But the majority of them are 2nd level castings, so still the 2d8. At that point you have no slots left over for Shield of Faith or Blur which affects not just survivability but also your ability to avoid damage to keep up your Concentration for Shadow Blade. You have four 1st level spells that can be used for healing word or false life, but that means you aren't turning them into SP for twin casts. At that point you have 4 SP, and a cantrip takes 1, so you can do it once in some of the combats per day.

So your general attack sequence at 9th is: 2d8 psychic + 1d8 thunder + 3 (avg 16.5 on hit). A few combats it's 3d8 psychic + 1d8 thunder + 3 (avg 21 on hit). And you can rarely twincast to do that to two separate targets. You can also action surge once per short rest.

A finesse fight at 9th would be doing two attacks for d8 + 2 (dueling) + 5 (dex) for 11.5 per hit, or 23 per round. They would also have a better chance to hit (and other benefits) since they would have a 20 Dex instead of 16. Because of the fighter extra ASI they could have that and still have Mobile. Studded Leather + 5 Dex is the same AC as Breastplate +2 max Dex and +1 fighting style, so there's no penalty for picking the Dueling Fighting style over Defense. Both have action surge.

Oh, and that doesn't include any bonuses from their subclass, such as battle master's superiority dice or samurai's advantage & resistance. And at this point a magic weapon adds more because it will always have 2 attack (4 with surge) as opposed to the build only occasionally beign able to twincast for two attacks, and those prevented from being focus fire since they have to be different targets. Though shadow blade will do better OA damage on a hit (vs. the fighter's better chance to hit with an OA due to higher Dex).

Now, where this build does seem to come into it's own vs. a finesse fighter is the teens. Enough slots to upcast Shadow Blade and still have plenty to break down into SPs to twincast a lot. It's got a lot of potential at those levels.

I see you've got a level of Warlock at 12th. One thought to getting enough castings of Shadow Blade for a full day earlier would be to take 3 levels of it since it refreshes on a short rest. But that's a separate slot advancement so your sorcerer and EK spell levels wouldn't boost it, so you'd need more Warlock levels if you wanted to upcast it. (Or eventually switch over to sorcerer slots and use these for blur and the like.)
 
Tl;dr? Why this build?

Potentially 75d8+70 action surge damage [145-670, 407.5av.] at 20th level, not including critical hits, which have a 15-30% probability.

Potentially 51d8+60 damage without action surge [111-468, 289.5av.] at 20th level, ditto criticals.
Counting damage from oa’s And enemies moving away is a terrible way to talk about damage.

also multitarget dpr isn’t the same thing as single tartget dpr. It would help your build if you acknowledged this.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
@Blue

Will reply to your interesting and constructive feedback soon.
I really like your base concept, so I was trying to fiddle around to get it to come online earlier. I succeeded, but at heavy cost of not going sorcerer so missing out on twinning the cantrips. I was able to work in Extra attack so we can hit more often, but I can't say it's better. It starts earlier but lacks the excellent nova capacity you have. Even Action Surge is gained at a later level.

One advantage is that using warlock is that Shadow Blade does get upcast consistently at higher levels because the warlock slots are the highest.

The Shadow Blade spell can't every qualify for the Hexblade CHR as attack, which would have made that easier.

Racially I'm thinking halfling (stout) for lucky or drow for elven accuracy and darkness if wanting to go the devil's sight route, but I've often considered that better in a white room then with an actual party you might be impacting. Both are +2 DEX, stout has +1 CON vs the drow's +1 CHR.

The build below using Halfling Stout for the starting ability scores of S 8, D 16, C 14, I 12, W 12, Chr 14.

[1] Fighter 1: Weapon/Armor prof, STR&CON saves, Fighting Style: Duelist, Second Wind
HP 12 AC 18 (Scale+Dex+Shield) Rapier [d8+5]+BB[d8 move], Heavy Crossbow [d10+3]
[2] Fgt 1 / Warlock 1: 1 x 1st slot, Celestial. Healing Light – Pool: 1+warlock lvl d6s. Bonus Action to spend up to CHR and heal anyone within 60’. Hex since we don’t have Shadow Blade
HP 18 Hex: Rapier [d8+d6+5]+BB[d8 move], Heavy Crossbow [d10+d6+3]
[3] Fgt 1 / Warlock 2: 2 x 1st slot. Beguiling Influence, Devil’s Sight
HP 24 AC 19 (Half Plate+Dex+Shield) [gold for armor upgrade]
[4] Fgt 1 / Warlock 3: 2 x 2nd slot. Pact of the chain. Familiar to turn invisible and use help action. Replace Beguiling Influence with Gift of the Ever-Living Ones to maximize healing. (From Healing Light & others). 2nd level slots so Shadow Blade comes online.
HP 30 Shadow Blade [2d8+5 psychic]+BB[d8 move], Rapier [d8+5]+BB[d8 move], Heavy Crossbow [d10+3]
[5] Fgt 1 / Warlock 4: +2 Dex [18], Booming Blade damage increases
HP 36 Shadow Blade [2d8+6 psychic +d8 thunder]+BB[2d8 move], Rapier [d8+6 + d8 thunder]+BB[2d8 move], Heavy Crossbow [d10+4]
[6] Fgt 1 / Warlock 5: 2 x 3rd level slot. Revivify from Celestial spell list? +1 Invocation
HP 42 Shadow Blade [3d8+6 psychic +d8 thunder]+BB[2d8 move]
[7] Fighter 2 / Wrlk 5: Action Surge
HP 49
[8] Fighter 3 / Wrlk 5: Eldritch Knight. 2 x 1st level slots. Shield
HP 56
[9] Fighter 4 / Wrlk 5: 3 x 1st slots. Feat: Warcaster [can cast Shield, plus advantage Concentration]
HP 63
[10] Fighter 5 / Wrlk 5: Extra Attack
HP 70 2x Shadow Blade [3d8+6 psychic], Rapier [d8+6], Long Bow [d8+4]
[11] Fighter 6 / Wrlk 5: +2 Dex [20], Cantrips inprove
HP 77 2x Shadow Blade [3d8+7 psychic], Rapier [d8+7], Long Bow [d8+5]
[12] Fighter 7 / Wrlk 5: 4 x 1st + 2 x 2nd slots; War magic – cantrip and 1 attack
HP 84 Shadow Blade [3d8+7 Psychic + 2d8 thunder]+BB[3d8 move] + Shadow Blade [no BB]
(DPR, no move: 8d8+14 = 50 avg hit * .65 hit = 32.5 expected DPR. More with advantage (dim or familiar. Also ignores crits and avoiding 1s from halfling lucky)
Melee with Hex and BB: Rapier [d8+d6+7 + 2d8 thunder]+BB[3d8 move] + Rapier [d8+d6+7]
Ranged with hex: 2x +5 attack, Longbow d8+d6+5 damage, OR 3x +2 attack EB d10+d6 plus +5 attack Hvy Crossbow d10+d8+5?
[13] Fighter 8 / Wrlk 5 - for an ASI/feat. Which depends on how to go from here.

From here a bunch of ways to go.
+4W Warlock 9 - 5th level spells for better Shadow Blade, ASI (@ 8th), increases healing pool
+5W Warlock 10 – Celestial Radiance = 12 tHP to party every short rest.
+6W Warlock 11 – 3 x 5th level slots, +a daily 6th level slot.
+1F Fighter 9 – Indomitable
+3F Fighter 11 – Extra Attack [2], but this stops cantrip+1attack so lose BB damage. +1 2nd level slot @ 10th
+1S Sorc (Divine Soul) 1 – Favored by the gods (+2d4 to attack/dave 1/rest) and slots
+2S Sorc (any) Metamagic and higher level slots
+3S Sorc (Shadow) 3 – Darkness/Devil’s sight w/o needing Devil’s sight. Can swap out. 1/day make CHR save to stay at 1 HP instead of going to 0. Not we are not proficient in CHR saves.

One possible way: More warlock focused.
[13] Fighter 8 / Wrlk 5: +2 CHR [16] – can spend 3 dice of healing pool
HP 91
[14] Fgt 8 / Warlock 6: Radiant soul
HP 97
[15] Fgt 8 / Warlock 7: 2 x 4th slots, +1 Invocation
HP 103
[16] Fgt 8 / Warlock 8: +2 CHR or +2 CON
[17] Fgt 8 / Warlock 9: 2 x 5th slots. +1 Invocation. Cantrips improve. Extra cantrip
Shadow Blade [4d8+7 Psychic + 3d8 thunder]+BB[4d8 move] + Shadow Blade [no BB]
[18] Fgt 8 / Warlock 10: Celestial Radiance
[19] Fgt 8 / Warlock 11: 3 x 5th slots. Mystic Arcanum (6th level spell)
[20] Warlock 12 for ASI + Invocation, or Fighter 9 for Indomitable. Play it by ear based on how the campaign went.

Bonus action economy is a little busy - spending healing from the warlock pool, casting or moving hex for when not using shadow blade, EK's War Magic if using a cantrip.

Can self heal and all healing on the character is maximized, but doesn't have the slots for Blur or other hit-prevention spells except Shield to keep up concentration like your build.

Can get advantage on a single attack per round from familiar, who is sitting duck for AoE but thanks to warlock improved familiars will be invisible so harder for non-area attacks to take out.

Also sets up for devil's sight + darkness if you have a party composition that will allow that to work without hamstringing your party. I didn't consider it in the above.

Like I said, not saying this one is better, it definitely can't nova as well. But if the DM is giving the ~2 short rests a day that the DMG recommends, it should have shadow blade most combats starting at 4th level, and can deal with when it doesn't.
 

RogueJK

Visitor
I like your Eldritch Knight/Warlock Shadow build, Blue.

While it won't be as optimized, how about an Eldritch Knight/Bladesinger Raven Soul, just for fun?

Here's an example Shadar-Kai with Point Buy:
STR 8
DEX 15+2
CON 15+1 (Or 13+1 if you don't like having 3 negative dump stats and want to increase one of them to 12 or two of them to 10)
INT 15
WIS 8
CHA 8

[1] Fighter 1: CON Proficiency and Dueling Fighting Style. Use a Rapier until Shadow Blade is available. You can wear Medium/Heavy Armor and use a shield if you want for now, but you'll be going Light Armor and no Shield from Level 3 onward.
[2] F1/Wizard1
[3] F1/W2: Bladesinger. When Bladesong is active, you get +INT to AC and Concentration saves and +10 movement.
[4] F1/W3: Shadow Blade comes online.
[5] F1/W4: +1 DEX and +1 INT.
[6] F2/W4:
[7] F3/W4: Eldritch Knight. 3rd level slots available for upcasting Shadow Blade.
[8] F4/W4: +2 DEX (20)
[9] F5/W4: Extra Attack.
[10] F6/W4: Tough feat. (Same HP bonus as two ASIs spent on CON. And you'll have a high Concentration bonus anyway due to CON save proficiency and Bladesong's +INT.)
[11] F7/W4: War Magic

Up to you where you go from there, either stay Eldritch Knight for more melee, extra feats and a bit of additional spellcasting, or go Bladesinger for more casting. For your upcoming ASIs, boost INT and possibly take Warcaster for Booming Blade Opportunity Attacks.
 
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RogueJK

Visitor
Or, if you don't want to bother with Eldritch Knight, and want more attacks overall (albeit at lower damage) combined with high level Wizard spellcasting, you can do a Shadar-Kai Fighter1/BladesingerX, with the same stats as above. Start with Fighter at Level 1, and then go straight Bladesinger.

This one is more of a pure caster, and will end up with some decent melee ability thanks to Bladesinger features and Shadow Blade, on top of basically full Wizard caster ability.

Take the Two Weapon Fighting Fighting Style, then wield a Shadow Blade plus a shortsword, or two shortswords when you don't have Shadow Blade running.

Go +1 DEX and +1 INT at W4, Warcaster at W8 and +2 DEX at W12 (or vice versa), +2 INT at W16, and finally +2 INT at W19.

You'll need the Warcaster feat to be able to cast most spells while dual-wielding weapons. And while Booming Blade won't be used during your normal Attacks, it's still useful for Warcaster Opportunity Attacks.

With Extra Attack at Bladesinger 6, you'll be doing Shadow Blade Attack + Shadow Blade Extra Attack + Shortsword Bonus Attack. And starting at Bladesinger 14 you'll be adding both DEX and INT to your damage on each of the three weapon attacks.

In addition, you'll have practically full Wizard casting, so you can choose between slinging spells, or wading into melee when you want to conserve spells for later, or you're running out. And you'll have access to higher level defensive spells than the other Shadow Blade builds, plus access to high level world-altering stuff. Plus your AC, movement, and Concentration will be higher than nearly any other Wizard.
 
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Fevvers

Visitor
[MENTION=20564]Blue[/MENTION] & [MENTION=170]RogueJK[/MENTION]

These are both enviably excellent builds!

I hadn't thought of going Celestial - interesting idea! Getting Revivify at 6th level is awesome and you've built up the SB damage beautifully. Very nicely balanced! When I'd been considering Warlock, Hexblade seemed to be the logical choice. I like how you've got the Extra Attack in. For quite a while I tried to shoehorn this build into Obliza's outstanding Sorlock build, indeed that was the initial inspiration for it, substituting SB/BB for EB/Hex. It just sort of grew from there.

Oh yes, the Bladesinger+ builds - so seriously crunchy! I love how you've reached 20 DEX at 8th, and taking Tough at 10th alleviates the Bladesinger glass cannon problem, and at a reasonable stage in the character's adventuring life!

I have a Paladin 2/Bladesinger x character, who attempts to force the SB/BB opp attack by sticking close to an opponent and Smiting. She's a bit of a beast... thematically I treat her as though she has taken an 'Oath of the Sword Dancer' in service to Eilistraee at 3rd level.

Thanks for these. I'm glad you've both found the central concept sufficiently interesting to be inspired to write up these excellent alternate routes to it.
 

Fevvers

Visitor
Counting damage from oa’s And enemies moving away is a terrible way to talk about damage.

also multitarget dpr isn’t the same thing as single tartget dpr. It would help your build if you acknowledged this.
Did I not? I thought I did...

Pretty sure I included a line in each damage section to describe "realistically probable" damage.

Thank you fro your input.
 
Did I not? I thought I did...

Pretty sure I included a line in each damage section to describe "realistically probable" damage.

Thank you fro your input.
All you said was...

Tl;dr? Why this build?

Potentially 75d8+70 action surge damage [145-670, 407.5av.] at 20th level, not including critical hits, which have a 15-30% probability.

Potentially 51d8+60 damage without action surge [111-468, 289.5av.] at 20th level, ditto criticals.
There is nothing here about "realistically probable" damage
 

Balfore

Explorer
@RogueJK
Thank you, for both your praise and very pertinent feedback!

I did wonder about 5th level: whether to take DS1 or EK5. Two attacks would seem pretty essential to an EK build. And that would strongly influence taking EK6 next for Mobile as well as rounding up the spell slot boost for DS by two levels when DS1 is eventually taken (i.e. 3rd level casting at DS1).

So I ran a play-test, comparing EK4/DS2 build with taking pure EK to 6th level.

And soon discovered that a single attack with advantage (from owl familiar help action) doing 1d8+3 non-magical piercing, plus 1d8 thunder, plus either 2d8 triggered thunder damage or that opponent unable to move, is not only slightly more statistical DPR than two attacks, only one with advantage doing 1d8+3 non-magical piercing damage each, but also slightly more fun.

Bear in mind that DS1 allows you to pick up Inflict Wounds for excellent opportunity damage, and Shield of Faith and Favoured by the Gods allows a nice degree of Tanking. Possibly even tanky enough to deliberately trigger opportunity attacks, opening the field for other members of the party. Shield + Shield of Faith = +7AC.

So, you are off-setting Second Attack and Mobility for increased AC, excellent opportunity attack damage, improved emergency save 1/short rest, two excellent combat cantrips, the ability to boost everyone's ability checks using Guidance delivered via owl fam - you don't even need to be next to the party member. Your party's rogue could be stuck halfway up a sheer wall, trying to disable a trap, and you can still Help...

6th level gives extra hp with False Life - not ordinarily available to EK, and immediately can be cast at 2nd level, and an extra first level slot. However, it has to be admitted, 6th level is the closest this build has to a dead level. However, EK doesn't get a second level slot until level 7. Pure EK6 gets four 1st level slots. Raven Soul 6 gets five 1st level slots and two 2nd level. 5-7 Shield/Absorb Elements is almost twice as effective as EK's 4.

7th is where the fun starts. The first time I was able to Action Surge a double twincast SB/BB it changed to course of the combat. I had to burn a Shield spell to escape the four opportunity attacks made against me, however, four opponents took major damage, some didn't move or attack and died the following round, some did, and died this round. Everyone else could melee swarm these four opponents and move away without taking opportunity attacks! Plus my familiar was able to give another PC advantage because I was getting mine from SB (it yielded one critical in this Action Surge round) I didn't personally kill any of these opponents, but, adding together the damage inflicted over the turn, definitely made it easier for the rest of the party to finish this fight remarkably quickly. It was at this point that I started to think that this build might have some legs to stand on.

8th-13th: personally I think this is the most fun part of the build's development! Every level you get something to boost that thing you do best. If anything, I think the build loses momentum after 13th, although the TPK management spells and chunky damage boosts alleviate that somewhat. However, 9th is definitely contender for most dead level even though that's where Second Attack is picked up.

See, having two attacks is kind of irrelevant when you are using Twincast Booming Blade to get two much more powerful and potentially Controlling attacks in. This then becomes three attacks with War Magic.

As to the envy the Raven Soul might feel towards pure casters with their 3rd and 4th level spells - remember you are a magical fighter, not a wizard or cleric. It's about boosting the EK chassis' magical fighting abilities by harnessing it to the Divine Soul engine. That's why you won't see Fireballs or Spirit Guardians anywhere in this build. They're great spells but completely irrelevant to this build. Note that Raven Soul does get 3rd level slots five levels earlier than EK, and that 3rd level Shadow Blade is the maximum level casting for an EK.

Gosh, I have gone on a bit; sorry about that! Hope my reply isn't too tedious. Also, must admit a terrible personal weakness for using italics! :)
Question: why do people multiclass? Is it worth throwing away 9th level magic and 3rd level specialty spells @ will...like infinite counterspells, shields or misty steps...or even fireball?
 
Question: why do people multiclass? Is it worth throwing away 9th level magic and 3rd level specialty spells @ will...like infinite counterspells, shields or misty steps...or even fireball?
What if I told you that in all liklihood you aren't going to get to 9th level spells.
 

Esker

Explorer
Question: why do people multiclass? Is it worth throwing away 9th level magic and 3rd level specialty spells @ will...like infinite counterspells, shields or misty steps...or even fireball?
Also, wizards don't get 3rd level spells at will. They get short rest refreshing castings of two of them that don't use spell slots. So more like 3 extra counterspells and fireballs per day even if you do play at 20th.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Question: why do people multiclass? Is it worth throwing away 9th level magic and 3rd level specialty spells @ will...like infinite counterspells, shields or misty steps...or even fireball?

I don't plan a build for a hypothetical 1/20th of their adventuring career. I plan them to be fun and effective for as much of their effective life as I can.

Also, I don't play AL, so I plan up through somewhere in top Tier 2 through Tier 3 - that's as high effectively as I expect in the games I'm in.

Though to be truthful, I more do builds for theoretical fun. My actual characters in ongoing campaigns I usually just have a rough idea where they are going and when I level I advance thinking about party synergy more than anything else.
 

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