So I recently got invited to a D&D campaign. I’m generally happy to tag along in these, as I’ve DM’d before , and played a variety of different D20 / D100 Based systems, from Gurps, 4.0, 3.5, AD&D, and even a few home brews from time to time. In all of that, I have to say that I truly find 3.5 to be one of the most fun out of all these systems. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the D&D rule set is one of the most malleable. Now I know there are a lot of folks out there who think that D&D 3.5 is a dullards game because of how easy it is to break, I humbly disagree.
I think it allows the player to set their own “level” while at the same time remaining within a set of rules. You see, the thing about D&D is that its not about rolling dice, it’s about spending a couple of hours with friends. It’s all those things that we love about imagination but shared among friends. The basic premise of escapism and new ideas, merged with collective story telling and being social. At it’s heart, D&D is a chance to enjoy having a good time with other people, everything else should be secondary to that goal.
So here I was, at this game. The DM was new at this, and had never DM’d for a high level campaign. As a word of warning to those who have never DM’d a campaign, be aware that past level 10 in D&D through the right combination of skills and abilities, PC’s can accomplish just about anything. If there is an abundance of magic items involved, that goes double. I have never been a fan of the monster manual, as it tends to severely under power creatures. In most cases CR 20 critters can be taken down with way to much ease. I also have players that tend to min / max in my campaigns, so I have to think like a better min / maxer on a consistent basis. Sometimes if things get to out of hand, you just tell them to enjoy the plot choo choo.
With all that in mind, this build has been intentionally gimped for the sake of flavor and not min maxing. It doesn’t do an absolute optimum amount of damage, but it can handle itself pretty well.
Build: Jedi Shadow – D&D 3.5 [Party Tank]
We want this build to be incredibly High In AC, but we want to keep some flavor. As such, we’re going to take a class that can function as a fighter, but doesn’t rely on the Heavy Armor or Magic items in order to pull this off. On top of that, we want to mimic that lightsaber without needing to rely on magic items or stats being buggered. The most obvious choice becomes a Psychic Warrior, it gives us a warrior that can use it’s self buffs to do what’s required. A second obvious choice might be a cleric, but I simply felt that the flavor of the Psychic Warrior was more fitting.
The first key thing to make this a Jedi Shadow as opposed to any other kind of Jedi comes down to that weapon they carry in the game, the Light Saber Lance. So what do we do? The answer comes in the form of an exotic weapon, the Two-Bladed Sword. It starts off at a cost of 100gp, so for a starting adventurer, it shouldn’t be too hard to get. On top of that, with this build, we won’t be using heavy armor at all (we want as high a Dex Bonus as we can afford). So we’re going to go with some padded armor. It’s cheap and still gives us +2 to AC, though we should probably be relying on Dexterity here (High Touch AC).
Our stat priority here gets complicated, as honestly we could really use just about anything but Intelligence and Charisma. Given that we want to be party tank, I’m going to put priority on Dexterity and Constitution, as those stats tend to give us our defensive edge. Wisdom and Strength contribute more to our damage, and if all else fails, we are not the Party’s DPS or Talkers. All we need to do is soak up hits.
The real problem with this build is that until level 3 or so, we are going to be a distinct disadvantage compared to a “real” tank like a cleric or warrior. The lack of Powers, Power Points, and Feats makes it difficult. Of course, this sort of mirrors what happens in SWTOR, so we’ll just call this sticking close to class.
I’d strongly advice going human purely for the fact that they get an extra feat, and if we want to use that fancy 100gp sword we bought, we’re going to need 2 feats to make it not suck… as much. As such we’re going to take Exotic Weapons Proficiency (Double Bladed Sword). To take advantage of that human feat, we’ll be using that for Two Weapon Fighting, the final feat that we’ll take as a bonus is Dodge. The last thing to take care of will be our skills and powers. At first level, Force Screen seems like the most obvious choice. Without a bit of Wisdom, It’s not going to be of much use, but I’m assuming you have a minimum of 14 wisdom for this build. Past that, we want to put some points in Hide, and Perform (Dance), move silently, and concentration.
Second level gives us some more wiggle room. We’ll go ahead and take Mobility to help counter getting hit with attacks of opportunity. We’ll also take Inertial Armor to give us another 4AC (So at this point, between Dodge, Two Weapon Defense, Force Screen, our most recent power, and hopefully some Dexterity, in Combat (in theory) we should have (assuming Max 18 Dexterity) an AC of around 23 (Touch … Not bad for level 2). Now keep in mind the powers need to be cast as Standard action, so it may take a bit of buffing prior to combat. With 3rd level we begin to dip into the Psionic feats, starting with Psionic Dodge, meaning you’re going to have to meditate. On top of this, I would take Empty Mind simply because Psychic warriors have such terrible will saves.
At 4th level, it will depend on if you have a party healer. If you don’t, it would be best to take Body Adjustment, otherwise Emphatic Transfer seems like a good way to siphon away damage from party members that could be on the verge of death. Body Adjustment does seem to be more in line with the Shadow though.
5th Level gets us another feat, and we’re going to want to spend it on actually giving our self a “lightsaber”. We’ll do this by taking Psionic Weapon, by expending our Psionic focus, we’re able to do an extra D6. We can also take this time to take Hustle.
6th level gives us yet another feat, this one we’ll put towards Deep Impact, this will let us blow our focus so that the attack is made as if it was a touch attack. When you’re facing creatures like Dragons who have more natural armor then I have time. Given the disadvantage we have from 2 weapon fighting anyway, it makes sense to go ahead and try to find a way to come up with a method for getting past the enemy’s AC. The power we’ll take is level is Dimension Swap, so that we can be the one in front of the Dragon’s mouth and not the Wizard.
7th level is rather lame, but it does give us our third level spells and the obvious choice seems to be Greater Concealing Amorpha, as one can’t really argue with a 50% Miss Chance for a couple of rounds, and given the general way fights tend to go, 7 rounds seems like plenty of time for a payoff of 5 points.
8th level is once again met with a new feat. We want to take advantage of Hustle earlier and give that a bit of abuse in the form of Psionic Meditation. Vampiric Blade gives us a more flavored sort of ability to match the style of SWTOR’s “Combat Technique” ability.
10th Level, we’ve got just a power. Energy Adaption seems like the obvious choice to round out our ability to tank any sort of damage and just sort of shrug it off.
12th Level gets us a normal feat, At this point, I don’t really see any feats that “Make Sense” given the situation. I feel at this point, it should probably start moving towards some more offensive abilities. At best I would suggest Improved Critical. The Power of choice in this situation would be to give us some Damage Resistance. Inertial Barrier comes off as the best choice
13th Level is again Feat free, but gives us our first 5th level power. Most of the 5th Level powers blow terribly, Oak Body is about the only one that works for combat. Everything else tends to be more focused on having other psychic’s in the world or party.
At 14th level, you should have been putting points in all the correct skills even with a Low Intelligence you should be able to prestige into the Shadow Dancer.
At level 15, With the standard Feat, Heroic Destiny Seems worthwhile, plus we might as well use that Human Race for something right?
Nothing of value until level 18, at which point we’ll take Protected Destiny
Admittedly, the Shadow Dancer Prestige class is listed as one of the bad prestige classes for a Psychic Warrior, in large part due to the complete lack of caster progression. Of course, this build is focused on being a “tank” more than a DPS, this could easily be changed by varying a few powers and feats.
The build again is intentionally gimped for the favor, and could probably use some tidying up in terms of feats, but otherwise gives a sort of ”Midevil” Jedi. In addition, there isn’t really any sort of alignment restrictions, so you could roll with this like a Sith or a Jedi.
All Feedback is welcome.