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I'm new to DnD and I'm creating a gladiator (fighter or barbarian) for an upcoming Dark Sun Game, and I liked the idea of using nets and spears.

The Players Handbook implies that net and spear users should have a good dexterity score.

Should I reconsider my main weapon choice?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Nope, that's a perfectly reasonable choice. Here're a couple of ways to build a net-and-spear character. (Which is a great archetype.)

Fighter

Choose fighter if you want to be more about controlling the battlefield than doing damage. I think the net works somewhat better here -- nets, like fighters, are all about control.

You'd probably want to take the tempest fighter build, which improves your two-weapon skills. Use a spear in your main hand, and the net as your offhand weapon. Consider the Net Training feat: with that, every time you hit someone with your net you'll slow them, which is a big part of what arena fighters traditionally get out of nets. You could also look at the Binding Style feat, which specifically allows you to immobilize a target when you hit it with your net and the Dual Strike power.

It's useful to have a high Dexterity, but in this context "high" means something more like 14 or 16; you don't need to get it up to 18.

I wouldn't, by the by, use the arena fighter build from the Dark Sun book itself. It's an interesting build but it's about improvised weapons; since you have specific weapons in mind it's not as good a fit.

Barbarian

Barbarians are about damage, and the net is not a very damaging weapon. Still, if that's the way you want to go, it'll work reasonably well. You'd want the whirling barbarian build, which is designed for barbarians with two weapons. Net Training is still a good feat, but not as important as it would be for the fighter, because it's a control-oriented feat rather than a damage-dealing feat.

General

Don't get hung up on the names of the classes. This is probably obvious, but if you want to play a fighter who comes from a barbaric tribe and thinks of himself as a barbarian, that's totally legitimate. D&D doesn't always make that as clear as I'd like, so I always take the chance to remind people.

The Gladiator theme is awesome for either the fighter or the barbarian. That goes without saying too, I know, I'm just being completist.

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I played around in the character builder and found some great Two-Weapon Ranger options using a Goliath and the Gladiator theme. For feats, I grabbed Net Training and Spear Expertise then stacked on World Serpent's Grasp and Vicious Advantage (for Combat Advantage vs. slowed targets). Most of the powers are two-weapon powers that grant an attack with each weapon, e.g.

  • Twin Strike
  • Cut And Run
  • Two Wolf Pounce
  • Claws of the Griffon

...but I also focused on the idea of someone who lived as a net-and-spear gladiator. I gave him Heal proficiency, and then took Invigorating Stride (second wind as part of a move action) and Swift Recovery (grant ally their second wind with my minor). Imagine the character backpedaling away from five or six groaning enemies who are pulling themselves off the ground, helping his friend to his feet so they can stand back-to-back again.

Since the character's power comes from his ability to bind and drop enemies and keep moving, I also gave him the feat Swift Footwork and a Challenge-Seeking Net (+1). Take the extra dice of damage and then get clear, leaving the cleanup to other characters with bigger weapons. This should make up for the fact that I'm playing a striker who vehemently refuses to focus fire. My teammates should be okay with it, though, since I leave a trail of prone and bleeding enemies in my wake!

Vicious Advantage plays really well with the daily power on my Spider-kissed Trident (+2). This lets me guarantee that my enemy will be slowed and possibly immobilized, freeing me up to use my net and trident on different enemies if I need to. CA on slowed and immobilized targets means anytime I hit with the net, my follow-up spear attack has CA and a chance to knock prone.

The build sacrifices significant damage that would be available to a ranger (d6 for quarry instead of d8, and reliance on mobility powers vs. typical high-damage powers) but I think he'd be incredibly fun to take for a spin.

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While Iain is correct about optimizing to fit your party there is a certain terrible joy in not sucking.

The net is a:

Superior one-handed melee weapon, offhand, heavy thrown, flail.

The Net Training feat:

Prerequisite: Str 13

Benefit: You gain proficiency with the net. When you hit a target with your net, the target is slowed until the end of your next turn

And to complete the cycle, the best one handed spear (and thematically appropriate beyond belief) is the trident.

Now, the question is: "how do we build an effective character with this combination?"

Functionally, this means looking for three things:

  1. the ability to dual-wield a off-hand and normal weapon. (this changes the two-handed landscape, as different classes make different exceptions).
  2. some kind of interesting feats involving flails and spears
  3. something interesting dealing with the slowed-on-hit condition of net training

For dual-wielders, we have the usual list:

  • twin strike ranger
  • whirling slayer barbarian
  • tempest technique fighter

For interesting feats, we have:

  • Binding Style which offers an interesting immobilize from the net on fighter and a slide 1 from twin strike if both attacks hit. (Which makes it quite fair, as the attacks are sacrificing a fair bit of damage for control.
  • The ironstar feat tree offers some interesting choices for flails
  • mountain thuner is also another fascinating feat series. One component to be mindful of is to, instead of double attacking all the time, have the flexibility of tactics that a spear and flail gives you. Optimally, the style would fit the historical roots of the tradition: throw the net at someone and poke them while they're immobilized.

A critical feat chain is starting to shape up.

We have Net Training which creates slowed, EoNT for all attacks. We then have world serpent's grasp, which allows the character to knock a slowed or immobilized target prone. Master at arms gives us +1 on all weapon attacks. Now, the ranger can twin-strike and on her turn thereby slow then prone a target. The problem is: this level of control doesn't fit the ranger well, who mostly should be interested in just wailing on the target.

The most fascinating consequence of this feat chain is the ability to grant an unprecedented level of stickiness to a class that would otherwise not have it.

Fighters, therefore, being hugely sticky, are right out. The net, slow, and battlemind have some extremely promising combinations, giving the battlemind the stickness he desperately needs. By having the primary weapon be the net, the focus is in tying up on the first round (or scattering them with a push 1+ (based on extra items) from bulls strength, and slowing them.)

This model, upon further reflection, can fit any class that wants to be sticky. While it's most effective in paragon, it still should be interesting from mid-paragon.

The best class for this build is the Monk, as it doesn't require going to half-elf and getting twin-strike. The Iron Soul monk has, as part of its flurry of blows power, a restriction on shifting. By slowing and knocking prone, we enhance that aspect of the class, while insuring we aren't too distracted.

Monk is optimal for three reasons: 1. It has at-will powers that are close burst "implement" powers, which allow you to use your weapon as an implement. Therefore, the monk can close-burst slow at-will. 2. The flurry of blows class feature has a spear based feat "triggered by an attack you make with the spear." This captures the versatility of the Retiarius just beautifully. Slow down, or flurry with reach. 3. World Serpent's Grasp:

Benefit: Whenever you hit a slowed or immobilized target with an attack, you can knock it prone. is automatically triggered with no attack roll from the flurry of blows follow-up power.

Thus, you have net and trident, only required stat investment is a 13 strength, and the entire force of slow, trip prone, happening to either one target (Iron soul) who then is prone, slowed, and can't shift. or prone, slowed, slid.

While the wepliments question deserves another full question, there isn't anything about this build that should be incompatible with monk.

Other options:

  1. Half-elf (or revenant half-elf)

    • (Ask your GM if possible, but sorcerer via "sorcerous blade channeling" could be an awful lot of fun to play)
    • Brutal Scoundrel Rogue
    • Baladin (Balanced paladin, tricky, but with twin-strike, it could be quite effective.)
    • Barbarian
    • Warden
    • Runepriest (It ... could work, actually)
  2. Any race

    • Essentials Scout
    • Rogue with a focus on the minor action encounters
    • Ranger
    • thrown weapon seeker
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Unless you play with an experienced bunch of build optimizing type players, then play what you want to and you shouldn't really be at a disadvantage with a non-optimal build.

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