I've finally decided to make an Arcane Duelist (bard archetype). It'd like to enhance my own melee part as well the party ones. I can use the "Core Rulebook" and the "Advanced Player's Guide" only. Can you provide me some advice, or a full build with:

  • stats (point buy with 25 points)
  • race
  • feats
  • spells
  • starting lvl 3
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you clarify "core books"? \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Jun 15, 2012 at 14:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can use the "Core Rulebook" and the "Advanced Player's Guide" only. \$\endgroup\$
    – ludiegu
    Jun 15, 2012 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Huh. It says in the question that starting level is 3, and then above in the comments you said the starting level is 1. Which one? Also, since this is under optimization, what do you want this bard built for? Melee/buffing seems to be implied by the question, but I was wondering if there was any relation to this, which would suggest you want something well rounded? rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/14957/… \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16, 2012 at 6:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @IgneusJotunn Sorry, my comment is obviously a mistake. I edited the question with all the details. And, yes, I decided to have a Bard - Arcane Duelist after the enlightening replies in the topic. \$\endgroup\$
    – ludiegu
    Jun 17, 2012 at 6:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ any idea on max level the character might achieve? \$\endgroup\$
    – Colin D
    Jun 22, 2012 at 17:45

1 Answer 1


Here's a build, but there are holes left in it. Basically anything not being used for a deliberate purpose, I left blank, assuming you'll fill in what makes sense. There are also a lot of things marked as suggestions, usually because something isn't necessary, but would be useful.


Race: Human

Stats: Str: 16 Dex: 13 Con: 12 Int: 14+2 (human!) Wis: 10 Cha: 14

Feats: One for first level, one for being human, and one for third level, plus combat casting from being an arcane duelist. Martial Weapons Prof(Greatsword) Combat Expertise (2nd feat curiosity of being human) Suggested: Improved ([Combat Maneuver]) Weapon Focus(Greatsword) Combat Casting

Equipment: At lvl 3, you should have 3k gold. Greatsword (50gp) Light armor- Chain shirt if you don't care about the armor check penalty, leather if you do. Suggested: Make that greatsword masterwork and enchanted, which will make it 2350gp. Best choices are Keen or Spell-storing, depending on whether you want to be more of a damage dealer or a mage/trickster.

Spend the remaining (You should have ~550gp left) on outfits, food, a couple of throwing daggers, whatever suits your fancy. Soap is always nice to have.

Skills You need a few skills maxed, as they're high priority. But you should have plenty of other skill points to throw into whatever you want. Skills to keep maxed: Perform, Concentration, Intimidate. Skills you want depending on focus: Stealth, Perception, Slight of Hand, Spellcraft, Diplomacy, Disguise. Knowledge of all kind might come in handy.

As you level up

Stats: At fourth level, fix that dex to a 14 so as to get the bonus modifier. Then, sometime in the next three stat-ups (occurring at 8th, 12th, and 16th level) you need to spend two points in charisma so you'll be able to cast your 5th and 6th level spells on time. I would recommend putting the two unmentioned stat-ups on the same stat, since that's where modifiers come from. I'd also suggest dex, since you're AC is going to be on the low side. Strength or Charisma would be decent, depending on whether you cast spells or swing that greatsword more often. (Here's a question of mine on the comparison. How important is charisma for a 3.X bard?)

Wisdom, intelligence, and constitution are all sub-par choices- since you'll get the modifier at level 20, it's not like you're going to be getting a lot of skill or hit points from this, and wisdom isn't really the focus of anything you're doing. They don't hurt, and if you want them go for them, but you'll use the above far more.

Feats: Alright, there are a lot of choices here. The sneaky rogue part of you doesn't need many feats as long as your skills are up to par, so most of your feats should be going to the fighter/caster part of you. If you want more of the caster, metamagic is always fun, but you might not have the spell levels to do much with it. I suggest putting most of yours into doing fightery things. The weapon focus/specialization chain is very useful, Improved ([combat maneuver]) usually chains into something fun if you don't mind the added complexity. (I'd suggest improved trip.) Combat Patrol could be fun if you need to protect others.

Really, this is going to depend on what you want to do. The more middle of the road you are, the lower everything else is going to be. Feats seem to help the fightery bits of you more from what I can see.

Equipment: Keep your armor in good condition. If you get a large load of gold, look at getting a +2 greatsword. This will depend on how much gold you run into in your travels. As long as your armor and weapon are solid and kept up to date, and have fun.

Skills: Keep what you had maxed maxed. Look at getting skill synergies when you can, but most skills are situationally useful, and some of them may come up more than often. Pick skill checks you seem to be failing, and improve those. I'd suggest a second perform skill for flexibility.

Honestly, with a jack of all trades like this, there are a lot of different ways to build him. We can't optimize for one ability or situation, because you're trying to be good at most. But, as long as you can keep your weapon damage solid and your spellcasting at par and a crudload of skills, you should be able to improvise any other situation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ No no no, drop the intelligence to 8 and get Dex as high as you can. Use a finessable (preferably two-handed) weapon such as an Aldori Dueling Sword and take power attack to bump up the damge. \$\endgroup\$
    – Macona
    Jul 27, 2012 at 8:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ That sounds like a fairly different build path than I've described. Maybe different enough for its own answer? (Not like I don't want mine to be picked, but it's lonely out here.) This is a character trying to be as well rounded as possible, and the intellegence helps him keep up in skills. Plus, IMHO, taking weapon finesse is of an odd choice if you have as high strength as you do dex. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 27, 2012 at 13:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can drop the strength since power attack will give you +3 damage every 4 base attack. I'd do it like this: Str14, Dex17, Con14, Int08, Wis10, Chr16. Bards don't need as many skill points as they did in 3.5 because so many skills have been merged. I would put it as a proper awnser but this build really needs that Aldori sword, which is outside of the core & APG that the guy is using. \$\endgroup\$
    – Macona
    Jul 27, 2012 at 14:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm confused. If this build needs an item we can't use or the build won't work, then do you know of a build (that will work) which will help the original poster? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 28, 2012 at 5:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, maybe the same thing with a spiked chain. \$\endgroup\$
    – Macona
    Jul 30, 2012 at 7:51

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