dnd 3.5e – Input on Variation on KRyan’s TWF Elf Barbarian

I really like KRyan’s solution to this character concept:
How to optimize a TWF Barbarian Elf

I’m looking to build something similar, but I don’t have all the restrictions that the OP had. For instance, I am planning on using the Arctic Template from Dragon #306 applied to a Wood Elf, giving me +2 Str, +2 Dex, -2 Int, -2 Cha.

With those bonuses, does TWF even make sense anymore? If so, are there changes that would make sense to utilize the STR/DEX synergy?

Getting back into 3.5e after a long time, and I’d forgotten that the limitless options are such a double-edged sword…

dnd 3.5e – How do Summon Monster spells work from lore perspective?

Context: I plan on GM’ing a long campaign in MtG universe. Most of my players will become planeswalkers at some point (full-progression casters rules-wise) and will travel throughout universe a lot.

This is when I realized that I completely lack knowledge on how the bread-and-butter part of MtG universe really works, which is summoning. In D&D this comes down to a simple series of spells: Summon Monster, and variants of it. And this is what I want to focus on here.

My problem with Summon Monster comes down to several key aspects of it that are not described in D&D rulebooks. All of those aspects have a source in a single question: whether what is summoned is actually a creature from another plane or just copy of it, magical dummy that does what it was told to and vanishes?

If it’s indeed a creature from another plane being summoned (which most opinions around the web seem to point at) this raises a series of storytelling problems, established lore plot-holes and power level concerns. I’ll try to list those issues here:

  1. How are creatures to be summoned chosen? Can every creature in universe that has an outsider type be summoned? Can players playing tieflings and aasimars be summoned too?
  2. Does a summoned creature have a say in whether it wants to be summoned in the first place? Can You just pull a creature out of it’s own plane at any moment in time? As funny as it sounds, majority of summoning situations would be either during eating, pooping, sleeping or having the fun-time. Not exactly pretty picture.
  3. It also raises another concern. Whatever the creature was doing at the time of summoning is left unattended. This means summoning have a potential of mass destruction, simply by pulling out guards off their posts, builders off their work, sailors off their ships, etc.
  4. Does a summoned creature have a say in whether it wants to follow orders? Can You keep sending let’s say celestial creatures against their own kin? If that’s the case conquering other planes would be as simple as summoning half of it’s inhabitants to fight the other half.
  5. Last but not least there’s a power level issue. From the perspective of simple combat situation Summon Monster seems like an average spell. Gives a temporary meatshield so caster can focus on casting instead of running from enemy. But when You look from the perspective of all I mentioned above, this is basically a planar travel combined with mind control, both of which are high-level endeavors. How can a low-level caster accomplish something like that?

So with all of the above in mind, I’m asking for a comprehensive, detailed description of how Summon Monster spells work in D&D or MtG or both (since after WotC married the too there are intersections) that addresses all or most of the issues I listed above.

I’m only interested in official content (for example official D&D rulebooks/setting books, official D&D novels, official MtG novels).

I’m also aware this is a very complex topic and I might not worded it perfectly so if someone wants to edit the question to be better, feel free to do so.

dnd 3.5e – Is there a class or set of feats that focuses on shooting with the ballista?

Heroes of Battle is the place for the most updated siege rules, including a number of feats (Ballista Proficiency, Expert Siege Engineer, etc.). The relevant feats may be selected as fighter bonus feats, so that makes fighter a possibility here. Fighter is also good for getting crossbow feats—the rules do not specify that feats relating to crossbows apply to ballistae, despite being just an over-large crossbow, but if allowed, fighter is in a pretty good place to get them.

Dragon vol. 295 has a 3.0 prestige class, master siege engineer. As it predates Heroes of Battle, it doesn’t interact with those rules directly, and its abilities are most potent when dealing with multiple siege weapons used by multiple crews. Nonetheless, it does exist.

Back to Heroes of Battle, the legendary commander prestige class may be worth considering. It requires Leadership and expands on one’s ability to command troops. Leadership may even be appropriate for once since siege weapons require crews (ideally two for light ballistae, four for heavy ballistae, in addition to the crew leader).

Dragon vol. 310 provides a number variant fighters, including targeteer which gains proficiency in two ranged exotic weapons—Heroes of Battle does not define ballistas as exotic weapons, and Ballista Proficiency is distinct from Exotic Weapon Proficiency, but it’s a minor stretch to consider it. Alternatively, the commander variant in the same article may be more appropriate.

The commander and targeteer have different bonus feat lists from the base fighter, but it only covers core feats—it seems to me that non-core feats should be added to the list as appropriate, and these siege weaponry feats are appropriate for these variants. If the ruling is that they cannot be added, though, then of course you don’t want anything to touch that feat list, and base fighter is ideal.

dnd 3.5e – Size alteration while under a spell effect that is a radius centred on you

The spell remains the same size, though its exact positioning might move slightly.

The important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t be drawing the spells radius from the edge of your space, you should be drawing it from the center.

Lets say that you have Magic Circle Against Evil cast upon you, so it’s a spell with a 10 foot radius that is centered upon you. If you’re medium, then the center of the spell is centered on your 5×5 space. If you suddenly become large, say via Enlarge, then the spell is still centered on your center, but instead of being centered in the middle of a singe square, it’s centered at the intersection of 4 squares. Since your, and by extension the spells, center have moved from the center of a square to the intersection between squares, the edge of the spell will move accordingly.

As a side note, some DM’s will have you center the effect on your choice of a corner of the square you occupy if you’re medium or smaller.

dnd 3.5e – Protection from Evil cast on a player who’s already under a Charm Person spell?

I’m currently playing a D&D 3.5 campaign and in our last session our fighter has fallen under a Charm Person spell cast by an evil enemy spellcaster.
My character is a Cleric and has access to both Protection from Evil and Magic Circle against Evil.
If I cast the former upon the figher, or the other one so that the fighter is included in the affected area, what happens?
I’m not sure how to interpret the spell’s description. From the PHB (emphasis mine):

The barrier blocks any attempt to possess the warded creature (by a magic jar attack, for example) or to exercise mental control over the creature (including enchantment (charm) effects and enchantment (compulsion) effects that grant the caster ongoing control over the subject, such as dominate person). The protection does not prevent such effects from targeting the protected creature, but it suppresses the effect for the duration of the protection from evil effect.

Therefore, it seems that once the spell is cast the target becomes immune to the mental influence of the evil entity. However, the spell description also says that (emphasis mine)

If the protection from evil effect ends before the effect granting mental control does, the would-be controller would then be able to mentally command the controlled creature. Likewise, the barrier keeps out a possessing life force but does not expel one if it is in place before the spell is cast.

It is clear that the spell does not nullify Charm Person, but the controller seems (at least) to be unable to give orders to the targeted creature. What about the order given before Protection from Evil is cast?
There are three possible interpretations:

  1. Nothing happens, as the target was already Charmed before;
  2. The creature is still Charmed but the evil guy cannot give new orders (as Protection suppresses the effects of Charme);
  3. Charme Person is stopped for the duration of the Protection spell, and my fighter is free to act as he pleases.

Thank you for your input!

dnd 3.5e – Does Discipline Focus (Insightful Strikes) add the Wisdom bonus to each attack of Flashing Sun’s full-attack action?

Discipline Focus (Insightful Strikes) states the following:

At 4th level, you can add your Wisdom modifier as a bonus on damage
rolls whenever you execute a strike from the chosen discipline. At
12th level, you can choose a second discipline to which this ability

and Flashing Sun states the following:

Flashing sun allows you to make an additional melee attack during this
round. As part of this maneuver, you take a full attack action and
make your normal melee attacks. However, you can make one additional
attack this round at your highest attack bonus. All the attacks you
make this round, including the extra attack granted by this maneuver,
are made with a -2 penalty.

So, the thing is, Flashing Sun includes a full attack in its description, and Insightful Strikes says “damage rolls”, in plural. Does this mean that it adds the Wis bonus to each attack’s damage roll, only to the one added by the strike itself, or neither?

dnd 3.5e – Item of Arrow Mind

I am looking to price out an item for one of my players. Basically, they would like an item that grants them continuous use Arrow Mind from the Spell Compendium. It is a 1st level sorcerer/wizard spell with a duration of 1 min/level. So, by standard item creation rules, it would be a 4,000gp item. It would grant them the ability to make attacks of opportunities with a bow and never provoke attacks of opportunity when firing within melee range. 4,000gp seems a bit low, as it provides a ton of versatility in combat. But, I am not sure of a good price point.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how I might evaluate what this is worth? I figure, it is granting a second level ability for a weak class (Order of the Bow Initiate) plus granting the potential for an extra attack per round (by granting attacks of opportunity with a bow). I am thinking the class ability alone is probably worth around 3-4,000gp. Add in the possible extra attack that occurs on average once a combat and you have something similar to a very limited haste effect. Maybe 10,000gp would be more appropriate for the item? Would it make sense for it to take the eyes slot given the fluff for the Arrow Mind spell affecting your vision?

dnd 3.5e – What are the fastest mundane ways to heal out of combat?

Extraordinary healing to full in 1 round, every round

You mention Tome of Battle, but note concerns with recovery. I note that stances don’t need recovery, and martial spirit conveniently lacks rules about the attacks being against “threats” or “opponents” or “aggressive creatures” or whatever:

While you are in this stance, you or an ally within 30 feet heals 2 points of damage each time you make a successful melee attack. This healing represents the vigor, drive, and toughness you inspire in others. Your connection to the divine causes such inspiration to have a real, tangible effect on your allies? health.

Each time you hit an opponent in melee, you can choose a different recipient within range to receive this healing.

That’s 2 hp/attack, and you can keep it or give it to a friend.¹ More attacks you have, more hp you can heal. And best of all, it just says “successful melee attack”—absolutely nothing about an enemy, a threat, or anything else. So it probably works best as some kind of barbarian/chaos monk with Two-weapon Fighting² whaling on a training dummy or something (could be a brick wall or the ground for all the rules seem to care) maximizes our results, but ultimately it isn’t terribly important. A decent 20th-level barbarian has maybe 336 hp during a rage,³ so you can fully heal up about the beefiest target available in just over two minutes.⁴

But, of course, that’s just one feat,⁵ a single 1st-level stance. We haven’t even finished getting through Devoted Spirit yet, because your single best bet here is probably Tome of Battle’s aura of triumph:

While you are in this stance, you and any ally within 10 feet of you both heal 4 points of damage with each successful melee attack either of you makes against an evil target.

Note that it requires an evil target, not necessarily a threatening one. So while you can’t attack the ground itself,⁶ you could attack, say, an evil item. Of which there are many, whether we’re talking about cursed objects or just stuff like unholy weapons or whatever. And attacking objects is explicitly a thing in the rules,⁷ and they are “targets” of your attacks, so, cool. Better yet, magic items are damnably⁸ difficult to destroy, so you’ll be able to make successful melee attacks against that item for a long time before you have to worry about replacing it.

Anyway, access is somewhat less trivial than just “take Martial Stance any time you like,” but warblade has only extraordinary class features,⁹ so it’s easy enough to take levels of that for the sake of reaching initiator level 11th. Then just pick up Martial Study (crusader’s strike), Martial Stance (martial spirit), and Martial Stance (aura of triumph) at your convenience. You can have all 3 by 12th level if you want.

Non-warblade levels, as usual, count half towards meeting the initiator level 11th requirement on aura of triumph, so up to two of them are “free” for this exercise (they won’t delay aura of triumph since you don’t get a feat at 11th anyway so you get it at 12th either way). And of course, delaying things would be allowed and we could always pick up aura of triumph at 15th or 18th level, or even at 20th if that level was fighter, or got a fighter bonus feat. The bare minimum number of warblade levels here is 2, though that forces a level of fighter at 20th. To hit IL 11th by 18th, you need warblade 3rd.

Probably the ideal thing to do with the rest of the levels is, again, to rack up extra attacks. The “melee” requirement actually winds up being kind of meaningful, because ranged attacks are way easier to come by, plus throwing weapons could combine those with two-weapon fighting for the best of both worlds. But anyway, still plenty of options for melee attacks too. Maybe pick up avalanche of blades along the way, and grab Stormguard Warrior so you can make all of those attacks as touch attacks—and deal no damage. Boom, you might get 100 hp out of that every other round.

But ultimately, that optimization is probably wasted—because that’s not the real gold here. The real advantage of aura of triumph is that your allies’ attacks count too. They can’t heal each other, but they can all heal you (and themselves at the same time). So really it’s more like, everybody get in a huddle and kick this evil monolith, and you’ll heal me to full in a round, easy.

  1. Switching who you’re healing, amusingly, might require an actual “opponent,” due to the last line of the stance.

  2. Or just “two-weapon fighting,” that is, without the feats, since you don’t really need to care very much about your attack bonus when your target can literally be the broad side of a barn. Since city-brawler barbarians get both Improved Unarmed Strike and Two-Weapon Fighting (for unarmed strikes), though, at basically zero cost, you’ll probably have the feat, and it allows for yet more attacks as BAB increases and you take ITWF and GTWF.

  3. Assumed average HD rolls and 30 Con, which might be low if you’re actually a single-classed barbarian and have mighty rage, but realistically almost no one does that so it’s probably just rage and for rage it might be a bit high, so I call it a wash and say it’s a reasonable ballpark figure.

  4. I assumed full BAB, whirling frenzy, and the Two-weapon Fighting line, for 8 attacks per round, for 16 hp/round, for (exactly!) 21 rounds to heal 336 hp. That’s 2 minutes, 6 seconds. As noted, with chaos monk or whatever you can do better than 8 attacks per round, but that math gets uglier and it’s kind of besides the point.

  5. Well, one feat doing the healing; a bunch of class levels and feats getting the attacks you want to fuel it.

  6. Most places, though if you find yourself in the Lower Planes you should totally give it a try.

  7. Sundering; it’s plausible for people to forget it’s a thing players can actually do since it’s so rare that they’d ever want to, but you can.

  8. I’m not even sorry at this point.

  9. There are some really dubious extraordinary abilities among warblade maneuvers—earthstrike quake is my personal choice for greatest offender—but if we were worrying about something like that we couldn’t use martial spirit or aura of triumph to begin with.

dnd 3.5e – Is there a way to make Chaotic Neutral Anti-Paladin?

There is!

Dragon vol. 310 has the anarch, a CN paladin. They get a different skill list, instances of good are replaced with chaos and evil with law, and they get different ribbons¹ from the paladin. Turn undead becomes turn construct, which is super-weird. The spell list is different, which doesn’t really matter from a core perspective (since both the anarch and the core paladin spell lists are poor), but you’ll have to discuss with your DM which non-core spells should go on the anarch list and/or which non-core paladin spells should be adapted for anarchs.

  1. “Ribbons” are minor class features that are more about fluff than anything. In this case, lay on hands, divine health, and remove disease, which are replaced with destructive strike, slippery mind, and dispel law, respectively.

dnd 3.5e – Can a warlock combine an essence into hellfire blast?

Yes, Hellfire Blast can be combined with eldritch essences.

Hellfire Warlock’s Hellfire Blast ability is not an eldritch essence. Here is the description of the ability (from Fiendish Codex II, p. 89):

Hellfire Blast (Sp): Whenever you use your eldritch blast ability, you can change your eldritch blast into a hell fire blast. A hellfire blast deals your normal eldritch blast damage plus an extra 2d6 points of damage per class level. If your blast hits multiple targets (for example, the eldritch chain or eldritch cone blast shape invocations), each target takes the extra damage. This damage is not fire damage. Hellfire burns hotter than any normal fire, as described in the sidebar on page 119.

Each time you use this ability, you take 1 point of Constitution damage. Because the diabolical forces behind the power of hellfire demand part of your essence in exchange for this granted power, if you do not have a Constitution score or are somehow immune to Constitution damage, you cannot use this ability.

No mention is made in this ability of being an eldritch essence, or being incompatible with eldritch essences.

When you combine eldritch blast with an eldritch essence, you are still using eldritch blast, and therefore qualify for the triggering conditions described above (“Whenever you use your eldritch blast ability”).

How would that change effective caster level of the blast?

Neither Hellfire Blast nor eldritch essences have any effect on your caster level when using eldritch blast. The effective caster level of the blast will be your effective Warlock class level (including advancement from Hellfire Warlock), plus any bonuses you have to caster level from other sources.