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I'm designing a Warforged character for a new 3.5 campaign I'm playing in. I'm looking at going the 'sword and board' route to maximize my AC, as I'll be the party's tank. Fighter is the main class I'm looking at, with no prestige class in mind. I've already rolled attributes with the DMs approval. I had 17, 17, 17, 14, 12, 8.

I plan on taking the Adamantine Body Feat with a large shield. This would bring my AC to 21 with DR 2/Adamantine. (Adamantine Body Feat (8) + Large Shield (2) + Dex 13 (1) = 21)

I'm concerned about being able to receive enough healing because healing effects only heal half as much to Warforged. I also don't want to take healing away from other party members, because I need twice as much. Taking levels in Artificer would let me heal myself without worrying about that, due to the Repair cycle of spells.

What would help me survive better: taking Artificer at first level to have access to healing right away, or taking Fighter at first level for more hp and hoping to survive to second level?

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This may be too open. You're essentially asking for an opinion vs. a fixed answer to a fixed question. –  Joshua Aslan Smith Oct 25 '12 at 15:41

4 Answers 4

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Level 1

I think you’re better off taking your first level in Fighter, or an alternative, than Artificer. It’s a difference between more HP and more skills, but I don’t think you’re going to use a lot of skills beyond Craft and Use Magic Device. But I’d probably rather something better than Fighter...

Problems with Fighter

I don’t think Fighter offers very much here. The class is generally quite poor, and only a good idea if there are a series of specific feats you have in mind that you cannot get any other way.

Note that tanking in 3.5 is not easy; the system does not offer very many ways to do it effectively. You cannot simply be capable of taking a lot of damage, you also have to be able to handle a wide variety of magical effects so you cannot get sidelined, and you need to be a real threat in your own right so you don’t get ignored.

Fighter can offer these things with very careful feat selection, but there are better ways. You don’t need proficiency in any particular armor, you’re not using Tower Shields, and Base Attack Bonus and large HD are available on other, better classes. The Fighter’s notoriously weak Will save (that 12 is quite likely to go into Wisdom) mean that spellcasters may be able to very trivially prevent you from protecting anyone.

If you insist on Fighter, though, you can do a lot to salvage the class by using the Dungeoncrasher alternate class feature in Dungeonscape. Get Improved Bull Rush, Shock Trooper (Complete Warrior), and go to town on enemies. If you go this route, you’ll want exactly 6 levels of Fighter. At which point, you’ll qualify for Warforged Juggernaut, which I strongly recommend here.

Alternative Martial Base Classes

Just from Core classes, Barbarian is a very good choice. You cannot use Infusions while Raging, but most melee Artificers are about long-term buffs, which don’t go away when you Rage. If you have Complete Champion, you can get Pounce instead of Fast Movement: getting the ability to move and full-attack is paramount to your ability to actually be threat enough to draw enemies’ fire away from your allies.

Of course, as is usually the case in these discussions, Crusader and Warblade from Tome of Battle are far superior choices. The Crusader, in particular, gets some of the very-few true aggro-controlling abilities in the game.

For completeness, I’ll also point out the Knight from Player’s Handbook II. It’s unfortunately rather underwhelming, but Test of Mettle is one of the other very few aggro-controlling abilities in 3.5. It’s got a lot of limitations, lots of things are immune to it, and the DC depends on Knight levels (of which, most are bad) and Charisma (which Warforged take a penalty to), so I don’t really recommend Knight.

Recommended Prestige Classes

The Warforged Juggernaut from Eberron Campaign Setting is an excellent choice for prestige class, regardless of how you start. The immunities it gives you are great for not getting sidelined too easily. It’s prerequisites are also ideal for a Dungeoncrasher; a Dungeoncrasher Fighter 6/Warforged Juggernaut 10 is a pretty solid, simple build. I wouldn’t bother with Artificer as a Dungeoncrasher, though; you won’t be able to fit in enough levels to make it worth it.

If you do go with a Barbarian/Artificer, you may find Rage interfering with your infusions/magic items. There is no official way around this, but you might ask your DM if you could adapt Rage Mage (Complete Warrior) to allow you to enter with 2nd-level Infusions instead of 2nd-level Spells, and have Spell Rage apply to infusions and magic items instead of spells. It’s a pretty minor change, and Rage Mage is hardly an amazing class, so it might fly. Personally, though, I think it’s unnecessary; simply being careful about when you start to Rage should be enough. Combat Casting is a pretty obnoxious feat tax.

Something Different: Straight Artificer

I’d also seriously consider straight Artificer, since the Warforged substitution levels in Races of Eberron are quite good. Your base HP will be low (but you should have high Constitution), and ¾ BAB will hurt (but probably not as much as you think), but personally I’d want to get Artificer 5 sooner rather than later. Artificers also get pretty solid tanking abilities, since they can get things like wand of shield other, and various survival spells and infusions. Magic items can go a very long way to shoring up the Artificer’s weaknesses (actually, at high levels of optimization, the Artificer is one of the strongest classes in the game, and capable of utterly devastating any of the other classes I’ve mentioned in this answer; that’s non-trivial to accomplish though).

Personal Suggestion

I'd probably dip Barbarian, take Artificer long enough to get some useful abilities, and then go with Warforged Juggernaut. You don’t quite qualify for Juggernaut as a Barbarian 1/Artificer 5, so a dip into Crusader for some maneuvers would be a good idea. Alternatively, I might drop that level into Rage Mage if I could convince my DM to allow the adaptation, but only if I really felt the like Rage was interfering too much; I don’t think it would really.

So I’d plan on something like Barbarian 1/Artificer 5/Crusader 1/Warforged Juggernaut 10 or Barbarian 1/Artificer 5/Rage Mage 1/Warforged Juggernaut 10.

If Fighter needs to be a part, I’d go Fighter 6 with Dungeoncrasher, and never look back: I’d enter Warforged Juggernaut at that point, and if I finished it, I’d find something else to do. Without Dungeoncrasher, I think Fighter levels are largely a waste of time.

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A Fighter level 1, with DR 2/Adamantine and 21 AC will survive until level 2 (and beyond). If you don't I would question how you play it or the encounters.

With that said, I would go with Fighter as a main class (since it's the Warforged fav' class). You can get potions and heal normally (unless you go Juggernaut later) and if the Wizard in the party get some repair spell, you don't need to get any level in Artificer. I usually avoid multiclassing into a healing role if my role is to tank. But if you insist on multiclassing into Artificer, I would do it around level 3 or 4.

You could also get the Craft skills to repair yourself while your friends are sleeping.

If you go full Fighter, at level 7 you could get the Leadership feat and ask the DM for an artificer follower. That would help you if you want to get the Juggernaut prestige class.

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Don't ever take 3 levels of Fighter. Fighter 2 is decent; Fighter 4 if you're desperate, but Fighter 3 is a totally dead level. –  KRyan Oct 25 '12 at 18:49

Personally, I'd take 4 levels of fighter to max out your necessary martial feats( ie. exotic weapon proficiency Bastard Sword or possibly Dwarven War-axe for max damage, Improved Initiative is always a juicy choice, Shield Specialization or Combat Expertise provide further AC to help survive in those long, daring battles, and never forget Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization for extra to hit and damage). Weapon focus WILL stack with Attune Weapon in the Artificer feat line which will compliment your fighter levels nicely and keep you on track to balance out the BaB penalty you will suffer for multi-classing.

If you choose to go with a Warforged, which I believe is the best race for any Artificer or combo class, you can pick up the Improved Fortification feat to have 100% fort! Sounds good so far right!? On top of all this the warforged provide you with so many immunities that having a weaker will save won't hold you back so much since you can't be affected by many mind affecting spells and your physiology is heavily immune to such things as disease, poison, etc. Oh did I mention that as a warforged you can use your artificer Repair spells to self heal? I guess I did! That is also one of the most attractive class features.

As an artificer you gain bonuses to UMD which compensate for the -CHR you suffer for being a warforged. Plus, if you have any metamagic feats, they can be applied to scrolls, wands, etc that you use while in battle or out of combat. Having a maximized repair serious damage wand in combat as a fighter is a great help in pen and paper and not something to be overlooked. Lastly, self buffing is an amazing ability to have.

I suggest taking the feat Heroic Spirit for extra AP's to help offset the AP loss you may need to use to buff on the fly in the event of an ambush or an interruption in rest. Being able to use AP's to use infusions as a full round action instead of as a 1 minute prep time is invaluable. SO, with self healing, self buffing, immunities and a fine to hit and damage, you can turn this multiclass into a high hp, high AC, high damage wrecking machine the likes that Ebberon has never seen before. I hope this helps.

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Hi, welcome to the site. In many ways, this is a very good answer: clear, well-written, clearly based on experience. However, I feel that it is recommending some very weak feats (EWP, Combat Expertise, Shield Spec, WFocus/Spec), which I do not believe will help the question-asker, and in fact could potentially hinder him. This doesn't mean you should change your answer; if this is what worked for you then it's the answer you should provide. I merely want to point this out for consideration by the question-asker. –  KRyan May 20 '13 at 19:01

As KRyan allready mentioned in his comment, I wouldn't take more then 4 LvLs of fighter and probably only 2 if any. LVLs in Artificer or Cleric tend to improve both your offense and your defense more then the plain Fighter lvls do, if only for the boost to your will save and early access to some sensible ac-Boni (shield of faith or "free" armor enhancements) even if you discount persistent spell shenanigans.

You might have a look at the possibilities offered by a spicked chain wielder. While your ac would be a bit lower, the possibility to trip enemies tends to be stronger then just trying to stand in their way. In my experience a trip-Monkey tends to draw a lot more aggro then a sword and board fighter, since he can basically take enemies out iof the fight for a round on a regular basis.

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