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Going with the conservative Wizard 5/Rainbow Servant 10/Wizard 5 build, you can cast spells from both the Wizard and the Cleric spell lists. But what I am interested in is if there are enough spells on these combined lists to make a viable melee combatant out of a wizard.

I am aware of the inherent problems a Wizard faces as a fighting class (poor BAB and HD, no armor), but can these be overcome with the right spells? Or should they stick with doing what they do as regular wizards, but with some Cleric spells?

For context, this is not to replace a specific role in the party: it is to add to the party if needed and explore the possibilities for a Wizard.

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Are you looking at a particular level interval? –  Ernir Aug 29 at 13:22
What's the rest of your party like? –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Aug 29 at 13:23
Should the argument ever came up, when answering do remember that text trumps table and text gives Rainbow Servant 10/10 caster progression. –  Zachiel Aug 29 at 13:44

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

You can cast polymorph, polymorph any object, shapechange, and divine power. You are not likely to have any trouble whatsoever in the melee department; you’re definitely going to do it better than, say... barbarian, bard, duskblade, fighter, favored soul, hexblade, knight, marshal, monk, ninja, paladin, ranger, rogue, samurai, scout, spellthief, or swashbuckler. Clerics will be better, druids will probably be comparable, and you can definitely be much better than crusader, swordsage, and warblade but at least that will take some thought.

One of the primary goals for a melee full-caster is to have buffs up without spending actions on them: have them already-up when the fight starts. Persistent Spell is your friend there, though polymorph any object and shapechange have exceptionally long durations on their own. Divine power will be the primary one you want to get. Arcane Thesis, Easy Metamagic, and Practical Metamagic could make extended persistent divine power a 7th-level spell; you can do far better than that, but it is a 48-hour “you are now a warrior as well as full-caster,” and then you can perform some polymorphing on top of that.

Also, don’t forget your spellcasting. Just because you are good, great even in melee, doesn’t mean you stop being a full-caster. Being a full-caster is far, far more important than having any skill in melee at all, so don’t ignore it.

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If magic becomes a moot point, or runs out, casting Tenser's Transformation (d20srd.org/srd/spells/transformation.htm) should give him an even greater edge - especially if using the Ability Enhancer feat. –  Ruut Sep 1 at 3:39
@Ruut There is absolutely no situation in which it makes sense to prepare that spell. Magic is never moot, and a high-level mage rarely runs out, plus divine power and polymorph any object provide far greater benefits without costing your spellcasting. –  KRyan Sep 1 at 13:22
I did play a half-orc rage mage one time. That spell was quite nice in that particular instance. With Bear, Bull, and Cat buffs, Haste, Alter Self (Thanks to Quicken Spell), I did a lot better than our actual barbarian. –  Ruut Sep 10 at 9:55

Its possible to be a melee wizard...
Given that a single cleric spell (Divine Power) solves the BAB problem for a short duration and that you have access to all of the polymorph spells there shouldn't be a problem in actual combat. Hit points will always be an issue, you having less than everyone else, but you can compensate for that.

Your main problem comes from the fact that you are dependent upon multiple rounds of buffing in order to get to that point. There are multiple ways to get around that, given that you are a mighty wizard. And given that you are a might wizard...

...but why would you want to?
Its a well known issue that magic tends to outclass martial characters at higher levels. Your time would be much better spent casting spell that effectively take creatures out of the combat (save-or-suck) spells than hitting them, leave that to the guys who like hitting things.

I'm not going to offer optimisation advice here since there are already lots of guides on Wizards that tell you all about your best spells and tricks and likewise for Clerics that will tell you how to be a create Cleric (a class well known for outstripping a number of martial only classes at their own game). Once you finish Rainbow Servant most of the things in cleric guides will apply to you.

In summary
There is nothing stopping you from being a melee character, BAB, armor, hp, etc can all be gotten via spells and items, but it will take you time to get them going and casting spells is normally always a stronger option for you.

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