Talk:Dwarven Defender (3.5e Optimized Character Build)

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Another good feat for a lot of health (this gives a lot more than Toughness over time) is Improved Toughness. Improved Toughness, found not in the SRD but some random book, gives +1 hp for every level, so at level 20 it gives +20 hp. You may want to include that feat in somewhere. --Green Dragon 23:49, 1 June 2007 (MDT)

Can it be taken more than once? If so, that's absolutely insane... Could someone find out which book it's from? MorkaisChosen 02:57, 2 June 2007 (MDT)
The feat originally appeared in the Complete Warrior from Wizards of the Coast. The prerequisite is a base Fortitude save of +2, which a 1st level fighter has. It can be chosen to fill a fighter bonus-feat slot as well and there is no restriction to how many times you can take it. (I know, that can be gross). It was reprinted in the Libris Mortis (also WotC) and in that printing, it removed the text stating that it can be taked as a fighter bonus-feat. Since the "official" rules of D&D state that the most recent printing of a spell/feat/skill/etc supercedes any previous printing, that would imply that it is no longer available as a fighter bonus-feat. You can still take it multiple times, however. --Skwyd 14:53, 11 June 2007 (MDT)
From the SRD (Feat Descriptions):

If a character has the same feat more than once, its benefits do not stack unless indicated otherwise in the description. In general, having a feat twice is the same as having it once.

Neither version of Improved Toughness indicates otherwise. You only get the benefit only once. —Sledged (talk) 18:20, 11 June 2007 (MDT)
You know, I totally forgot about this until you just brought it up. I just read the Toughness feat and it specifically states that if you take it multiple times, the effects stack. I remember reading that, unless stated otherwise, you can take a feat multiple times, however, I forgot the part about not stacking. Thanks! --Skwyd 09:23, 13 June 2007 (MDT)

Optimization? Where?[edit]

Toughness 5 times??? Toughness is one of the weakest feats available. It's bad enough you have to waste a feat on it to get into Dwarven Defender, taking it 5 times is stupid. Really. +15 hp, that's less than a usual standard attack of any high-level enemy will take from you. That's less than you gain from one Amulet of Health +2 (4000 gp) at 16th level. What a waste of 5 good feats.

What's worse, the character is really weak on Will and Reflex saves. Who cares about a 17th level Dwarven Defender when a simple Hold Person (Clr 2) can take him out? Tanking is not just about taking hp damage, it is about taking and surviving all kinds of attacks, mundane and magical.

Armor Specialization, Shield Specialization, Strong Will, Lightning Reflexes... all are better choices for tank feats. The Combat Form feats will work nicely, too.

But you know what the characters greatest weakness is? Lack of offense... I've seen it. I have a dwarf with this build in my LG group. All he does is walk up to the enemy and miss him every round. Honestly. +2 attack from Str, -2 from Tower Shield, so what's left is BAB + weapon enhancement. That's not enough, especially when you do a meager 1d10+2 (dwarven waraxe) and you lack any ability to increase that damage (power attack).

Equipment: No magical weapon, no Adamantine armor... pathetic.

And about that barkskin: Amulet of natural armor or monk's belt. Nuff said.

Really, if this was posted on the WotC Forum Character Optimization boards, people will fall off their chairs laughing. --Mkill 00:04, 15 June 2007 (MDT)

OK, it's my first one, I didn't know how good it would be. There can be a magical weapon in the equipment, but it's not important what. It is significantly weak against movement, so do you have any ideas to make it, you know, actually not rubbish? Thanks... MorkaisChosen 04:38, 16 June 2007 (MDT)
Sometimes a tank is just that, something to stand there and take the damage. There is a small, but significant, difference between an "optimization" and "min-maxing" a character. While I agree that taking Toughness 5 times as a feat probably isn't the best way to boost the hit points of the character, it still is accomplishing the goal of increased hit points. And to be fair, the author, ( MorkaisChosen ) did state that he needed help with the feat selection. So, instead of criticizing the build, I'll give my 3.5 cents.
The race is a no-brainer. To be the Dwarven Defender, you must be a dwarf. This is also a good choice because the +2 Con will start out the boost in hit points.
Feats - In your first 7 levels (of fighter) you'll get 7 feats (3 general and 4 fighter). I would not take Dodge as a feat for this character, except that it is a requirement for the prestige class. You need a Dex of 13 to take Dodge and typically those points could be better used in another stat, but since it is required, that's a given. You also need Endurance, which I normally wouldn't take either. And finally, Toughness is a requirement, so take it right away as it will give a valueable hp boost at low levels. I would suggest feats like Power Attack, Cleave, Great Cleave, Blind-Fight, Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Improved Critical (you can't take it until level 8 at a minimum, but still good to consider). Depending upon your weapon choice, sometimes Exotic Weapon (Bastard Sword) is good to allow you to use that one handed (so you can still use a shield). I'm just going from the Player's Handbook here for feat ideas. If other sources are open, the options get immense.
Spells, Powers, Items - Armour is the tricky part. If money is no option, you can go to town and get armour of "uber-goodness". Anything that resists damage (weapon or other) is good. Things like Acid/Cold/Electricity/Fire Resistance, Fortification, Ghost Touch, and Spell Resistance are all good. The problem is that you can't always have all of them. Enhancements that only cost money (and no "plus" to the armour) can be stacked on like crazy. You'll have to choose between any abilities that cost a "+1 bonus" (or more) to the base price as you can only have a max of +10 in the armour and you typially want +5 of that to be enhancement to the AC. Fortification is good, however, the drawback is that it costs a lot to add, and if the attack isn't a critical hit, the enhancement does nothing. So this is a personal choice as to what your play style is. I prefer only Light Fortification myself. Also, a special material (like Adamantine) is always a benefit. Other magic items that can help are all over the place. Anything to boost Con (for the hp increase) or Str (for the attack and damage boost), items that give non-armour bonuses to AC (deflection, natural, insight, luck, sacred, profane, etc) are always good to boost the AC. Remember that with the Max Dex of this big armour, things that boost Dex aren't going to give a lot of benefit (if any) so don't worry about those. Also, the weapon you choose is important. Some people like weapons with big dice of damage, which is harder with one-handed weapons (the Bastard Sword is pretty good does a d10 with 19-20 threat range). A Dwarven Waraxe is popular for the x3 crit multiplier. So you can see that there is a lot to consider as you optimize the build. Other magic items are on a case-by-case basis. I like items that either boost will saves or protect against certain effects. Something as simple as an item that provides Protection from Evil is nice.
Ability Scores - I see that the Elite Array was used. However, the standard method for stat generation (other than rolling) is usually the point-buy system (at least in most discussion groups that seems to be the case). So, you can buy the Con up to 16, and with racial bonus get an 18. You need a Dex of 13, so that one is set. Your Str is important, but since buying up to a 13 Dex takes some of the points, you might just go to a 14 Str. I find it is usually best to buy all the stats up to a minimum of 10 so you don't incur any penalties (especially to saves), and if you can, you should buy the Cha up to 12 so the -2 penalty for being a Dwarf is offset. All of this depends upon how many points are used in the point-buy system. Standard is 25 (per DMG), but many games I've played use 28 points to start.
So anyway, there's some of my opinion. Hopefully you find it useful and/or interesting. I don't claim to be an expert in building "perfect" characters. I'm definitely not a "munchkin" when it comes to designing characters. I've had some very effective ones in the past...and some not as effective... Anyway, I look forward to seeing how this concept evolves. --Skwyd 14:06, 18 June 2007 (MDT)
My $0.02: EWP (bastard sword) is almost a waste of a feat when dwarves can treat dwarven waraxes as martial weapons. In the long run, they're effectively the same weapon. For hit points, try three levels of dwarf paragon. Make the dwarf a were-dire badger. You'll get rage while still allowing you to be lawful to qualify for dwarven defender. Rage, defensive stance, and animal/hybrid form: +10 Str, +6 Dex, and +12 Con (though only half of that bonus affects hit points). Unfortunately, you won't be able to wear armor unless you get some specially made, and you stay in hybrid form (or animal form if the armor is made for that form). Otherwise, it will fall off when you change form. Also, unless you can convince your DM that were-badgers are usually lawful, you'll have to be a natural lycanthrope, otherwise you risk not qualifying for the dwarven defender. —Sledged (talk) 14:33, 18 June 2007 (MDT)
Almost forgot, warshaper (Complete Warrior) is must if you go the lycanthrope route. +4 more to Str and Con, immunity to critical hits and stunning, increased reach (wonderful since dwarven stance won't let you move), fast healing, and probably some more benefits of which I can't think. Though with this route, I'd forget about those levels of dwarf paragon. —Sledged (talk) 14:44, 18 June 2007 (MDT)
Dwarves will usually take the Waraxe as their weapon as it saves them the EWP feat. The differences are very minor. A Bastard Sword has a threat range/multiplier of 19-20/x2 while the Dwarven Waraxe has 20/x3. In the end it is about the same. The Dwarf Paragon is a neat class. I'm presuming you mean the +2 Con boost at 3rd level for the hp increase. Personally, I'd put an end to any dire-badger lycanthropes in a campaign I'm running, but I have a long history of badger angst. The Warshaper class is nice, however the BAB progression isn't +1/level, which is an important feature IMHO, the again, the fast healing and reach are very nice abilities. --Skwyd 09:35, 19 June 2007 (MDT)
Don't forget were-bears, which have +16 strength, +2 dex, and +8 con. They do require 8 levels to be taken though, which give a +4 BAB (yuck). You can't take level 10 in Dwarven Defender this way. Your stats do end up at +18 Strength, +2 dex, +12 con while in defensive stance. Also were-bears are Lawful Good so you don't have to convince your DM that the lycantherope is Lawful. --Aarnott 10:01, 19 June 2007 (MDT)
What about using 4-HD dire badger (size increase to Large) for your base animal instead of the standard 3-HD variety? hybrid + rage + defensive stance = +18 Str, +4 Dex, +20 Con. Throw in warshaper: +22 Str, +4 Dex, +24 Con. Also, a minor, but often overlooked fact: regular animals have good Fort and Ref saves; dire animals have all good saves. —Sledged (talk) 11:00, 19 June 2007 (MDT)
I'd be more concerned about the LA for being a lycanthrope than the warshaper's BAB. If you take all five levels of warshaper (I'd most likely stop at four), you only get a +3 to your BAB, but you get a +4 to Str which makes up for those two levels that didn't provide a BAB increase. So you end up delaying when you get extra attacks due to BAB, in exchange for a +2 to damage (+1 for off-hand attacks and secondary natural attacks). And if you only use natural weapons, the delay is irrelevant since natural attacks don't gain multiple attacks from BAB.
With LA, however, it effects HD and all things associated with HD: BAB, BSBs, feats, ability score increases, skill points, max ranks, etc. —Sledged (talk) 11:00, 19 June 2007 (MDT)
Making the character a lycanthrope strays a bit far from the "dwarven defender" archetype. I think it is better to discuss that kind of optimization somewhere else. The char here should stay a dwarf.
To go back to feat and weapon choice, Sledged already wrote that the dwarven waraxe is pretty much equal to the bastard sword so no need to waste a feat on EWP here. If you go for EWP take the classic spiked chain. It has the huge advantage that it gives you reach, which compensates a bit for the lack of mobility.
Improved Critical is a waste of a feat for a dwarven waraxe. An additional 5% chance for triple damage (+200%), that you can confirm maybe 50% of the time? So that's +5% average damage, all in all. With a waraxe, Str 14, Weapon Spec and a +1 weapon you do 1d10+5 damage (you concentrate on defense, after all), so that's 10.5 damage average, so all in all, that improved critical enhances your average damage by a mere 0.5 points to 11. Meh. Not worth it.
Dwarf Paragon is an okay idea. The basics are like a fighter, but without bonus feats, in exchange for another +1 save vs. spells and poison (good!) and +2 Con (good!). --Mkill 11:44, 19 June 2007 (MDT)
Unless MorkaisChosen is trying to maintain the dwarven defender archetype, the lycanthrope option is just as valid as any of other suggested options. —Sledged (talk) 13:39, 19 June 2007 (MDT)
The only issue is there has to be some point of restriction for optimization. It does depend on how MorkaisChosen wants to restrict it. Really there are much stronger "tank" race/class combos than dwarves with the dwarven defender PrC. I think Lycanthrope doesn't distort the theme too much. --Aarnott 20:44, 19 June 2007 (MDT)
Does not distort the theme too much? You turn into a fricking 4 foot armored badger with an axe and that does not distort the theme? People turn into badger lycantrophes if you bite them? --Mkill 21:05, 19 June 2007 (MDT)
As Aarnott pointed out, he's still a dwarf, and in the game world, he may gain favor or be looked upon with reverence due to his ability to assume an animalistic form. It'd probably the same relationship that lythari have with other elves in the Forgotten Realms. You could even have a community of dwarf lycanthropes if one were so inclined. —Sledged (talk) 13:22, 20 June 2007 (MDT)
Then, there's a +3 LA and 3 animal racial hit dice, which throws off the advancement table, let's you enter dwarven defender later, reduces your hit points and BAB by a margin, and all that for a meager Str +4, Dex +6, Con +8, Wis +2. The three animal racial levels only have d8 hit dice and 3/4 BAB. The character can't even enter a campaign before everyone else is level 6. At ECL 6, the "straight dwarven fighter has something like 63 hit points (average rolling, starting Con 17, 1x Toughness), the "dire badger were-dwarf" has 38 hit points. That's 25 less. Since his con bonus is 4 points higher, he'll make up for it eventually, but it takes until ECL 12! --Mkill 21:05, 19 June 2007 (MDT)
You also get a natural armor bonus increase of +2, rage (which, though you have no control over when it begins or ends, has indefinite daily uses, indefinite per encounter uses, and no fatigue at the end), damage reduction 10/silver or 5/silver, Toughness and Iron Will—among other feats—as bonus feats (good for "The Tank" theme), low-light vision, scent, all good saves for your animal HD, and the option to take levels in warshaper for even more goodies. Additionally, if your base animal is 4-HD dire badger instead of the standard 3-HD, you get an increase to BAB and all saves by +1, a size increase to Large (increased reach in hybrid form), a +8 to Str, −2 to Dex, +4 to Con, and another natural armor bonus increase of +2.
If the ECL is an issue, then consider it a high-level option for "The Tank", and feel free to discuss any ideas you have for lower level builds. —Sledged (talk) 13:22, 20 June 2007 (MDT)
So no, any were-form is not something that you slap on easily. I suggest we leave this character here as a non-templated dwarf and make a new page for lycantrope optimization --Mkill 21:05, 19 June 2007 (MDT)
I guess my point is, were-dwarves are still dwarves. It is a lot different than making a half-dragon dwarf, which gains the dragon type. I agree with a separate lycanthrope optimization page though. Maybe we should rename this to "Dwarf Tank"? --Aarnott 06:14, 20 June 2007 (MDT)
I see no need have it on a separate page. MorkaisChosen has solicited advice on making this build better, and according to him "The idea [of this build] is to create a character who, while not all that special at dealing out damage, can take one heck of a lot in return." So there's no obligation to limit this discussion to the dwarven defender PrC, or even the dwarf race. I'd be willing to bet there's a warforged tank build out there somewhere. —Sledged (talk) 13:22, 20 June 2007 (MDT)
Ok, I renamed the page to make clear we should talk about Dwarven Defender builds here. A separate, more general discussion on tank builds would be welcome, though. Clerics or Druids are much better tanks anyway. --Mkill 07:16, 20 June 2007 (MDT)

Three more levels[edit]

If you're still looking for those last three levels, I'd recommend one of Fighter, one of Monk, and one of Cleric.

The level of fighter is strictly for the bonus feat. I notice you took a seventh level of fighter (I assume to qualify for Dwarven Defender). So one more level gives you another valuable feat. What you spend it on is up to you, I see plenty of suggestions above. This level continues the strong base attack and hit point values, and your Fort. save also goes up (though it's already fairly high).

The monk level, while sacrificing one BAB and some hit points (average one), improves all your saves by 2, helping those poor ref. and will saves. You also get improved unarmed strike and improved grapple in case you're disarmed. Unfortunately you don't get your wisdom bonus added to AC due to your armor. Still, the boost to your saves may help immensely.

The level of cleric, while again losing a point of BAB and an average of one hit point, again boosts your fort. and will saves by two. By this point your fortitude is ridiculous (base of +17!), your will is good (base of +12) and your reflex, while still low, is at a base of +7 compared to a +6 base for a weak save at 20th level. Add a cloak of resistance and even your reflex is passably strong. The level of cleric also lets you use cleric wands (healing spells, support spells to boost your AC, plus utility spells).

Alternatively you could drop the level of cleric and take a second level of monk. This would give you evasion (always useful, though less given your low reflex save) and either deflect arrows or combat reflexes. Given your low dex and poor mobility, you're probably better off with deflect arrows, as you gain little benefit from combat reflexes, and this will limit the danger of ranged attacks. This option loses one point of fort. and will save over the cleric level, but your reflex is one point better.--WithoutHisFoot 11:43, 26 July 2007 (MDT)


Error: Character does not have 13 Dex for required Dodge Feat. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 20:15, 7 December 2007 (MST). Please sign your posts.


If you want to improve this, consider adding levels of the Knight class. Your taunts can effectively allow you to "draw aggro"... Treating spaces around you as difficult ground is also pretty peachy. --Aarnott 13:49, 26 February 2008 (MST)

Also, consider the Exiled Dwarf race found in Dragon magazine #320. They lose stone-cunning and darkvision, but get a bonus feat at level 1 and their bonuses against orcs, goblins, and giants improve.

SRD Build[edit]

Suggestion to turn this into a more SRD build:

ECL 4: Improved Trip
ECL 6: Mobility,Spring Attack
ECL 9: Whirlwind Attack
ECL 12: Lightning Reflexes
ECL 15: Power Attack

Also needs to have Dex 13 at the beginning. --Angel Black 14:52, 22 May 2008 (MDT)

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