I'm starting out playing with a warforged in a D&D 3.5 campaign. I'm looking to minimize ASF – the concept behind this character is to play a sorcerer that specializes in touch attacks and uses slam attacks for opponents that have damage reduction / resistance / etc. Level range is 10-15.

My first angle was trying to track down information about docents – specifically the Arcane Sigil – or pretty much anything that would help me counter the arcane spell failure inherent to the mithral plating.

Is there a specific book, etc., I should look for for these details? I've already gone over the Monster Manual 3 and Races of Eberron.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking to minimize ASF or for this specific "docent" thing? How committed are you to playing a sorcerer? What level? What spells do you anticipate using? \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 19 '12 at 4:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you looked at playing an unarmored warforged? They have no ASF, but no armor. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Oct 19 '12 at 12:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @C.Ross - I need the armor since I'm trying to specialize in directly delivered touch attacks. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Brigham Oct 19 '12 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TimBrigham IMHO I'd make a divine class for that. I'll look at the rules for a way to lower or remove ASF when I get home. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Oct 19 '12 at 13:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TimBrigham: Actually, it just dawned on me: one of the best ways to put spells on weapon attacks is the Duskblade (Player's Handbook II), which also gets to ignore Arcane Spell Failure. Strongly recommend at least considering it. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 19 '12 at 14:28

The only “Arcane Sigil Docent” I can find is from Dungeons & Dragons Online, and is not available in the tabletop game (that I can find, but I have read most of the Eberron books).

Usually a Warforged arcanist would take Unarmored Body, rather than Mithril Body, so as to avoid any Arcane Spell Failure at all. A 5% chance of even casting the spell correctly, on top of whatever chance you have of missing or the enemy resisting, is going to hurt a lot.

Note that if you want to be a bit cheesy (in some groups this would be fine, in others it’d be broken; depends on your group), Dragonborn from Races of the Dragon is an amazing template with Warforged, and would be perfect for a Sorcerer (who usually have some relation to dragons to begin with. Dragonborn replaces your racial features, but you retain any Subtypes you have. Since most of the best features of Warforged come from the Living Construct subtype, they keep all of those, losing primarily the composite plating and Slam attack. Since you want to get rid of (parts of) the composite plating anyway, this is a win-win.

The immediate answer to Arcane Spell Failure is usually the twilight armor enhancement (+1 equivalent), found in Player’s Handbook II and the Magic Item Compendium. It can be applied to Warforged composite armor, and reduces Arcane Spell Failure by 10%.

Other good answers, things like Thistledown (Races of the Wild), Feycraft (Dungeon Master’s Guide II), and Githcraft (Dungeon Master’s Guide II), all of which reduce Arcane Spell Failure by 5%, probably cannot reasonably be applied to Warforged composite armor. Even if they can, they’d almost definitely have to be part of the Warforged’s original construction (though a Githcraft Warforged would be awesome).

Again, note that with Unarmored Body or Dragonborn, you could wear a Feycraft-or-Githcraft Mithral Chain Shirt with Thistledown Padding, which has 0% Arcane Spell Failure before putting any magic on it. This is a great armor.

The Spellsword prestige class from Complete Warrior can allow you to ignore 10% of Arcane Spell Failure; combined with twilight, this reduces your Arcane Spell Failure to 0%. I strongly recommend against taking more than one level of Spellsword, however, since it loses a ton of spellcasting.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer, thanks. The docent thigh sounded a bit cheesy when I was reading about people trying to use it table top. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Brigham Oct 19 '12 at 11:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TimBrigham: Honestly, I'd personally allow it; you're already burning a feat and a +1 equivalent on reducing ASF. Other races don't have to put in that much effort and can get 0%. The Docent would just be like the Warforged version of Thistledown Padding... \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 19 '12 at 13:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 spellsword is trumped by duskblade, too. At least class-feature-wise. But one level is very good for the purpose of nixing ASF. Also, there's some fort and BAB off that, too - not hateful for a spellcaster. Even the flavor-text prerequisite would fit well with this character concept, at least it seems to me. \$\endgroup\$ – LitheOhm Jul 22 '13 at 15:51

How about sacrificing some spells under the Battle Sorcerer variant from Unearthed Arcana (p56)? Battle Caster Feat from Complete Arcane (p75) allows for Mithral Full Plate on a squishy race, or a warforged with Unarmored Body Feat (p120).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Battle Sorcerer costs way more than it grants, and Battle Caster doesn't give proficiency so that's two feats you have to burn on that. I agree on Unarmored Body, though, and the others are valid options even if I don't think they're good ones, so +1. Welcome to the site! \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 22 '13 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Mithral breastplate (nonproficient) would have a -1 for strength and dex-based stuff, including attack rolls. I wouldn't go any further than that though. I'm a fan of battle sorceror for some characters but it also depends on the group and DM's power level. It does suffer mechanically as @KRyan mentioned. Welcome to the site! \$\endgroup\$ – LitheOhm Jul 22 '13 at 15:15

There's an armour enhancement in the Magic Item Compendium called "Twilight." It reduces the arcane spell failure penalty of the enhanced armour by 10%, and costs the equivalent of a +1 bonus. Since a Warforged's built-in armour plating can be enchanted as armour, it's an option you might want to consider.

It's not enough to completely negate the spell failure penalty, but it's the 15% to 5% reduction you were looking for, and there's probably something in one of the other answers that you could stack it with.

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Complete Mage says something useful via a Fighter alternate class feature:


you'd have to multiclass into Fighter, but you could do it:

Choose one arcane spellcasting class, such as sorcerer. You can avoid any chance of arcane spell failure for spells gained from this class as long as you restrict yourself to light armor and light shields. This training does not extend to any other form of armor or shields, nor does this ability apply to spells gained from other spellcasting classes.

Only, ouch:

This benefit applies only to spells of a level equal to or lower than your fighter class level + 1.

The only other thing I can find is the Battle Caster feat, which is apparently from Complete Arcane, page 75. It lets a character ignore the Arcane Spell Failure chance of heavier armors, but only if they already have such an ability that applies to light armor.

Basically the text of this feat should read "Bards can wear heavy armor. The rest of you can go to Khyber."

Update: Apparently there are other ways to do this, but none of them are very good (Various prestige classes, some armor echantment from Book of Exalted Deeds). Honestly, 3rd Edition is built around making it hard for arcane casters to wear armor, so I don't think you have good choices.

My best advice isn't actually a direct answer: I think you should ditch either the class that gets you the ASF and go into Artificer instead, or else take Unarmored Body from Races of Eberron and ditch Mithral Body, which will let you keep the ASF class (Wizard I guess?). You have to give up one of the things you want either way, but you'll still be able to do arcane things with a Warforged.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorcerrer actually. I'm not trying to cancel the asf completely, just take it down from 15% o 5%. The docents sound like they can do so. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Brigham Oct 19 '12 at 3:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ -1 there are many ways to reduce ASF, some of which are very good. Your broad generalization is ill-informed. \$\endgroup\$ – LitheOhm Jul 22 '13 at 15:55

if you want Arcane based spontaneous casting of combat magic and able to wear medium armor that can cast with out and arcane spell failure then take the War Mage Class out of Compete Arcane on page 10 and if you wish heavy armor take the feat Battle Caster in Complete Arcane on page 75 but you will have a predefined spell list which will automatically know all spell available to you at each new level and other spell are added in additional books. so your warforged can get his composite armor upgrade feats and still cast with out issues and i believe that some of the spells a war mage gets are touch attack based.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi, welcome to the site -- we do things a little differently than you may be used to. We are strictly a Q&A site, that is, you have to answer the question. Check out the Tour for more about who we are and how we operate. This doesn't exactly answer the question asked -- which specifies that he is a sorcerer -- and thus you should answer the question first, before suggesting something else. Please see this discussion for the accepted best practices for making such suggestions. And when you get 20 rep, feel free to join the Role-playing Games Chat! \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 16 '14 at 21:18

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