The Griffon Knight (3.5e Optimized Character Build)
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The Griffon Knight is a mounted warrior with a good amount of damage, a health pool and to support himself and allies. The key in the build is that you gain a combined health pool with your mount and both get maximum advantage of charging.
For this build, you need to be Lawful Good and some decent ability scores that work. I highly recommend a race that either gives your ability scores enough to run it or human for skill points.
SRD - Fighter, Cleric, Griffon, Feats, Spells
Unearthed Arcana - Prestige Paladin
Races of Stone - Goliath, Heavy Plate
Player Handbook 2 - Two-Weapon Pounce
Spell Compendium - Spells
Monster Manual 2 - Warbeast Template
Complete Warrior - Cavalier, Feats
Complete Mage - Remove Curse
Races of the Wild - Catfolk Pounce Feat
Complete Champion - Barbarian Lion Totem
Complete Adventurer - Feats
Game Rule Components
Spells, Powers, Soulmelds, Stances, etc...
Level 0: Detect Magic (2x), Detect Poison, Light, Read Magic
Level 1: Divine Favor, Shield of Faith, Conviction, Nightshield
Level 2: Bull's Strenght, Shield Other, Resist Energy
Level 3: Prayer, Dispell Magic(, Grace if there is a better dispeller at your party)
Good: Granted Power: You cast good spells at +1 caster level
War: Granted Power: Free Martial Weapon Proficiency with deity’s favored weapon (if necessary) and Weapon Focus with the deity’s favored weapon.
Level 1: Protection from Evil
Level 2: Aid
Level 3: Magic Circle against Evil (only if the DM allowed spell progression also to be for domain spells)
Heavy Plate (10 AC), Tower shield, lance, longsword and spell components. Other items are free to choose.
Starting Ability Scores (Before Racial Adjustments): Str (Highest) Dex (lowest) Con (Second) Int 10 (or 8 when human) Wis 13 Cha 14 (recommended not necessary)
Starting Racial Traits:
|1st||Fighter 1||+1||+2||+0||+0||Weapon Focus (lance)||Bonus Feat: Mounted Combat|
|2nd||Fighter 1/Cleric 1||+1||+4||+0||+4||Aura, Spells, Domains, Spontaneous Casting, Turn or Rebuke Undead||Weapon Focus (longsword)|
|3rd||Fighter 1/Cleric 2||+2||+5||+0||+5||Ride by Attack|
|4th||Fighter 1/Cleric 3||+3||+5||+1||+5|
|5th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4||+4||+6||+1||+6|
|6th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 1||+5||+8||+1||+6||Spirited Charge||Detect evil, smite evil 1/day, turn undead||+1 level of existing divine spellcasting class, turn undead (5th lvl)|
|7th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 2||+6/+1||+9||+1||+6||Divine grace, lay on hands, special mount||turn undead (6th lvl), special mount (5th lvl)|
|8th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 3||+7/+2||+9||+2||+7||Aura of courage, divine health||+1 level of existing divine spellcasting class, turn undead (6th lvl), special mount (6th lvl)|
|9th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 4||+8/+3||+10||+2||+7||Power Attack||Remove disease 1/week||turn undead (7th lvl), special mount (7th lvl)|
|10th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 4/Cavalier 1||+9/+4||+12||+2||+9||Special mount, mounted weapon bonus (lance) +1, Ride bonus +2, courtly knowledge||special mount (8th lvl)|
|11th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 4/Cavalier 2||+10/+5||+13||+2||+10||Deadly charge 1/day, mounted weapon bonus (sword) +1||special mount (9th lvl)|
|12th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 4/Cavalier 3||+11/+6/+1||+13||+3||+10||Cleave||Burst of speed||special mount (10th lvl)|
|13th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 4/Cavalier 4||+12/+7/+2||+14||+3||+11||Deadly charge 1/day, Ride bonus +4||special mount (11th lvl)|
|14th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 4/Cavalier 5||+13/+8/+3||+14||+3||+11||Mounted weapon bonus (lance) +2||special mount (12th lvl)|
|15th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 4/Cavalier 6||+14/+9/+4||+15||+4||+12||Celestial Mount||Deadly charge 3/day, full mounted attack, mounted weapon bonus (sword) +2||special mount (13th lvl)|
|16th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 4/Cavalier 7||+15/+10/+5||+15||+4||+12||Ride bonus +6||special mount (14th lvl)|
|17th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 4/Cavalier 8||+16/+11/+6/+1||+16||+4||+13||Deadly charge 4/day||special mount (15th lvl)|
|18th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 4/Cavalier 9||+17/+12/+7/+2||+16||+5||+13||Improved mounted combat||Mounted weapon bonus (lance) +3, Ride bonus +8||special mount (16th lvl)|
|19th||Fighter 1/Cleric 4/Prestige Paladin 4/Cavalier 10||+18/+13/+8/+3||+17||+5||+14||Unstoppable charge 5/day, mounted weapon bonus (sword) +3||special mount (17th lvl)|
To qualified for Prestige Paladin and Cavalier you also need to invest 18 skill points next to the other requirements. For the other part getting a Griffon is the smartest idea to have as a mount. You should buy one or use the leadership feat to attract one. Remember that the increasing Hit Dice increases the size of a griffon from large to huge, increasing its other stats.
The early levels you are fine by seeing the frontline, tanking, healing and buffing. Yes, you have not the full BAB advancement but you compensate that 1 lost by gaining great spells to buff you.
Prestige Paladin gives you the benefits of a paladin -2 levels, which you want:
- One: Your spells are equal to that of a 6th level cleric which is better than having 8 paladin levels for spells
- Two: You gain all the great class features of a regular paladin
- Three: The Paladin's special mount
The last reason is the best reason. First, your mount doesn't die as fast as regular mounts. Second, your mount gains increase stats above the normal mount. Three your mount and you share spells with your mount. The spell, shield other, allows receiving damage equally (it distributes 50% of the damage to your mount and 50% of that again back to you, etc). Combining both your health pools into one.Also, a healing spell on you heals also your mount. Effectively making your heals twice as good.
The Cavalier is just the cherry on top of the ice. It gives your great maneuverability and great charge damage.
Considering the follow abilities score: Str 16, Dex 8, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 14 (+4 Str from levels) And using a lance one-handed and a griffon. Using Unstoppable charge, Power Attack, smite evil, Bull's Strenght and Prayer.
Cavalier Attack Bonus: +18(BAB) +7(Str) +1(Focus) +1(Prayer) +3(Cav) +2(Charge) +1(High Ground) +2(Cha)-18(Power Attack)= +17
Cavalier Damage: 5(Cavalier)X(D8(Weapon) +7(Str) +1(Prayer) +4(Paladin) +18(Power Attack))= 5d8+150 (on Critt: 15d8+450)
Huge Griffon Attacks (pounce):
-Bite Attack Bonus: +25 (Base) +2(Bull's Str) +1(Prayer) +2(Charge)= +30
-Bite Damage: 3d6+10 (Base) +2(Bull's Str) +1(Prayer)+ 15(Smite)= 3d6+28 (on Critt: 6d6+56)
-Claw Attack Bonus: +22 (Base) +2(Bull's Str) +1(Prayer) +2(Charge)= +27
-Claw Damage: 1d6+5 (Base) +1(Bull's Str) +1(Prayer)= 1d6+7 (on Critt: 2d6+14)
-Rake Attack Bonus: +22 (Base) +2(Bull's Str) +1(Prayer) +2(Charge)= +27
-Rake Damage: 1d8+5 (Base) +1(Bull's Str) +1(Prayer)= 1d8+7 (on Critt: 2d8+14)
Total Damage Potential = 7d8+5d6+206 (all Critt: 19d8+10d6+562)
With or without Level adjustment reducing from UA, I would recommend taking the race Goliath (LA+1). It gives you +4 str, -2Dex, +2Con and because of Powerfull Build, you can use large weapons as a medium character. If you don't have enough Wisdom and Charisma, go for Lesser Aasimar (LA+0) giving +2 Wisdom and +2 Charisma.
Drop your shield and use the Lance Two-Handed, resulting in twice the Power Attack Bonus.
Substitute one level of prestige paladin with Barbarian Lion Totem (CC) gives you pounce!
Being a Catfolk (RotW) and having Catfolk Pounce Feat allows you to make a full attack on the end of your charge if the enemy is flatfooted.
Two lances deal more than one lance. A lance is a One-Handed weapon when on a mount, so getting Two-Weapon Fighting, Two-Weapon Pounce (PH2) and Oversized Two-Weapon Fighting (CA) allows you to do almost twice the damage.
Munchkin size your mount by adding the Warbeast Template from Monster Manual 2.
Gain the Remove Curse as Alternative Class Feature instead of Remove Disease for Paladin (CM
Leap Attack Feat (CA) gives more damage from Power Attack. Shock Trooper Feat (CW), you can trade the penalty you take on your attackroll for making a powerattack to your AC instead.
Don't forget armor for your mount (light is the max when you want it to fly), Both of you having a decent to good AC. Your unmounted damage is still decent and you are still a valuable asset without your mount.
The DM might restrict a number of classes you may take. A griffon is not a standard mount so getting one could be hard if the DM say you have to find one in the game (or not even allowed to get one). Because of the size of the mount (early large, later huge), the DM might make combat space really small preventing you from mounting or changing direction.