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For an upcoming game (starting at ~level 9-10, continuing until level 20 or we get bored/distracted), I've been working on a build specialized in in-combat healing, with a secondary focus on buffing allies and disabling enemies. Unlike my usual experience with 3.5 character optimization, I find myself with spare levels and feats after "finishing" the character's core concept. I'm seeking feedback on how to best spend these character resources to strengthen the character's performance in its core roles, and perhaps shore up its weaknesses as well.


The Build

Race: Human

Ability Scores (32 point buy):

  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 14
  • Wis: 14
  • Cha: 15

Build Table:

Level Class Feats Ability Scores Other
1 Cloistered Cleric 11 Imbued Healing, Combat Casting2, Travel Devotion3 Healing Domain, Knowledge Domain
2 Bard 1
3 Bard 2 Dodge
4 Bard 3 Cha 16
5 Bard 4
6 Combat Medic 1 Enlarge Spell
7 Combat Medic 2
8 Combat Medic 3 Mobility4 Cha 17
9 War Weaver 1 Reach Spell5
10 War Weaver 2
11 Sublime Chord 1
12 War Weaver 36 FREE Cha 18
13 War Weaver 4
14 War Weaver 5
15 Combat Medic 4 FREE
16 Combat Medic 5 Cha 19
17 FREE
18 FREE FREE
19 FREE
20 FREE Cha 20

1: of the Sovereign Host

2: Human bonus feat

3: from trading Travel domain

4: Combat Medic bonus feat

5: I haven't asked the DM yet if retraining will be allowed. If so, this feat will be retrained after level 14, when War Weaver's Enlarged Tapestry class feature makes it largely redundant.

6: From this point on, all prestige class levels advance Sublime Chord casting.


Goals

The build's core goals are to:

  • Heal the party, using War Weaver to apply Cure X Wounds spells to all party members at once, with additional rider effects from Imbued Healing and Combat Medic, plus spontaneous Heal starting at level 16.
  • Buff the party, using War Weaver's class features to do so efficiently in terms of actions and spell slots.
  • Perform various other support utility functions, such as removing status effects using Resurgence and wands of Healing Lorecall.
  • Disable enemies using spells that ignore saving throws, like Solid Fog, Fanfare, and Irresistable Dance.

I'm looking to achieve the following with my remaining build resources:

  • Find additional ways to improve the efficacy of my healing spells, or add additional rider effects to them.
  • Find additional ways to support my party that synergize with my existing suite of healing, buffing, and disabling.
  • Find things to do with my spare actions. The build currently has limited uses for swift actions prior to getting Arcane Spellsurge at level 15, and limited uses for standard actions after that (although increasing the action cost of spells via metamagic with Enlarge Spell remains an option). It also lacks things to do with its move actions beyond moving and activating Quiescent Weaving, though this is true of most builds.
  • Shore up weaknesses, such as the build's low Fortitude save.

Things I've considered:

  • Gish stuff (Arcane Strike, Snowflake Wardance, Knowledge Devotion instead of domain, levels in Abjurant Champion): Gives me something to do with standard actions at high levels. My BAB is garbage but I can use a wand of Divine Power. This option is shiny but I suspect not actually good.
  • ToB dip: I can dip 1 level at 17+ and get level 5 maneuvers/stances, while still getting level 9 spells by level 20. White Raven Tactics is really, really good, and fits the character perfectly. On the other hand, losing caster levels, yuck.
  • Inspire Courage investment: Can I make this work? Not very many effective Bard levels for Bardic Music, unfortunately.
  • Fatespinner: Low barrier to entry, 4 levels fits with the build and doesn't lose caster levels, class features are good for supporting. On the other hand, the build is already badly starved for skill points (can't even keep Concentration maxed at some levels, though I catch up eventually), and Fatespinner requires even more.

The choices I've made in the build table above are also not locked-in; I'm open to suggestions to change the existing portions of the build in pursuit of the goals I've described here.


Restrictions

Allowed sources:

  • All official 1st party 3.5 sourcebooks
  • Official 1st party 3.0 sourcebooks, subject to 3.5's standard rules about not using 3.0 content if a newer 3.5 version is available
  • All official WotC web content

Not allowed:

  • Dragon/Dungeon content (aside from that found in the Dragon Compendium)
  • Pathfinder content
  • Homebrew
  • Epic level content (if we make it to level 20, we will stop there)
  • Extremely setting-specific Forgotten Realms content (but content from Forgotten Realms sources might be allowed if it's not too heavily based on Faerun fluff)

Not what I'm looking for:

  • "In combat healing is weak, you should play something else": Yes, I know; making the best in combat healing specialist I can even though I know it's a weak character archetype is the whole point of the build.
  • Extreme metamagic cheese (e.g., Incantatrix levels to offset the cost of Persistent Spell): This is a higher level of optimization than I expect from the rest of the table, and part of why I'm committing to healing and support is to avoid overshadowing other players, who mostly have less system mastery and interest in character optimization than I do.
  • Extreme action economy cheese (e.g., Mark of the Dauntless to ignore the penalty of Celerity): As above.
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1 Answer 1

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A Tapestry of Heal—Sanctum Spell cheese?

First, there is a significant problem in that you cannot cast heal into the eldritch tapestry, as it’s a 6th-level spell and the eldritch tapestry tops out at 5th-level spells. The eldritch tapestry goes a fair way towards mitigating the horrible inefficiency of cure spells, but even freely getting to multiply those spells by 3 or 4 or even 5 doesn’t really make them great uses of combat actions. Better than anybody else’s healing, for sure, but still not good.

All of which is to say, your #1 priority should be finding some way to cheese heal into your eldritch tapestry. Sanctum Spell could do it; as long as you aren’t in your sanctum, it’s treated as a 5th-level spell despite using a 6th-level spell slot. You would probably want Rapid Metamagic to apply Sanctum Spell in a timely fashion. There may be other approaches.

Certainly, applying heal to the entire party is absolutely incredible, and well worth jumping through all these hoops. In fact, I understand if you feel it’s too good, considering your overall goals here. Still, it’ll only happen quite late, and unoptimized party may need that level of support at levels that high.

Plane-hopping Healer—Avoiding a cleric dip

You could take Planar Touchstone from Planar Handbook (or Touchstone from Sandstorm) and attune to the Catalogues of Enlightenment, which grants you a domain, qualifying you for Imbued Healing.

Travel Devotion, of course, you could take on your own, and sacred exorcist from Complete Divine is relatively easy to enter (consider getting dismissal from a runestaff or knowstone) and gets an arcanist turn undead without any loss of spellcasting, which would let you power it.

Two feats for a class level? Probably worth it. Of course, you might also just skip Travel Devotion; it’s certainly good, particularly with your usage of move actions, but your positioning is also just not that crucial.

Jade Phoenix Down—Sublime weaving with Tome of Battle

I think you should strongly consider going for jade phoenix mage.

As you noted, a Tome of Battle dip is strong already:

  • Crusader is the best combat healer in the game out of the box; between war weaver and heal, you are superior, but you had to put a ton of work into that. Devoted Spirit maneuvers allow for some substantial healing without consuming any daily resources, and also allow you to throw out some damage. Your accuracy might be dicey, but there are steps you could afford to improve that. It’s not like you’re trying to hit with full Power Attack or with a bunch of iteratives, just one attack at your highest BAB.

  • Crusader also gets other great stuff, like white raven tactics. Don’t discount some of the other options either: iron guard’s glare buffs all your allies’ AC, and if someone does attack you, you are the easiest target for your own healing (though war weaver mitigates the significance of that).

  • Crusader also lets you take Song of the White Raven. It’s not directly related to healing, but it’s a pretty sizeable buff that you’d be able to include without much effort on your part at all. It also gives a solid use for those free feats you’re looking at, though Sanctum Spell and Rapid Metamagic might be consuming a lot of those.

And then you look at jade phoenix mage: a CL bonus, some decent defenses, some (limited, appropriate) free quickening of spells, and it offers Devoted Spirit maneuvers. Moreover, while it does miss out on spellcasting progression, and also you miss out on spellcasting if you dip crusader to get in, which you probably want to do since without it you’ll burn two feats to get a really stunted maneuver progression, you are already taking sublime chord: that’s a perfect reset of your spellcasting progression right there.

The trick is to get war weaver 1st, crusader 1st, and jade phoenix mage 1st all in before 11th level and the beginning of sublime chord. You still miss out at jade phoenix mage 6th if you get there, but a sublime chord can afford a single missed spell level while still obtaining 9th-level spells—and as a war weaver, your need for high-level spells is somewhat reduced anyway.

Healing in a Bottle—Sha’ir

Sha’ir from Dragon Compendium is a Charisma-based arcane-and-divine spellcaster (it’s weird) that gets full spellcasting on the wizard schedule. The advantage of this is that it’s much, much easier to hit the 2nd-level and 3rd-level spells required for war weaver, sublime chord, and jade phoenix mage. It doesn’t get any healing, but since you are starting at 9th or 10th, it might be plausible to “get by” until 11th to get sublime chord and take the appropriate cure spell with that.

Moreover, since sha’ir is a divine spellcaster, it can allow you to use a domain staff (Complete Champion) or domain icon (Faiths of Eberron), allowing you to access healing spells that way. This also makes it rather easy to enter sacred exorcist, and you can even do it earlier via dispel evil.

Suggestion

I don’t bother with Travel Devotion—and therefore don’t bother with sacred exorcist or sha’ir. But this fits jade phoenix mage into your build fairly easily; the only pain point is Reach Spell, which you could go for instead of Song of the White Raven (and ideally retrain to Song of the White Raven later).

Level Class Special Feat Spells
1st Bard Inspire courage +1 Combat Casting, Dodge 0th
2nd 1th
3rd Enlarge Spell
4th 2nd
5th Crusader Crusader’s strike,
mountain hammer
6th Combat Medic Healing kicker Touchstone
7th Jade Phoenix Mage Arcane wrath,
revitalizing strike
8th Combat Medic
9th War Weaver Eldritch tapestry Imbued Healing
10th Quiescent weaving 3rd
11th Sublime Chord 5th
12th War Weaver Song of the White Raven
13th 6th
14th Enlarged tapestry
15th Combat Medic Sanctum Spell 7th
16th
17th Spontaneous heal 8th
18th Jade Phoenix Mage Mystic phoenix stance Rapid Metamagic
19th Rallying strike 9th
20th Empower strike
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