Currently I am making a Drow Spellcaster character with the build learned towards 1v1 combat in a small area, it is specific for the D&D drow based campaign. The fights are most of time 1v1 with similar levels (or 1v2), within 60 feet radius, once or twice per day. Style points are a plus!

Character level: 12-15 (no higher than 7th level spells). Starting drow without LA.

System: D&D 3.5

Character: Female Drow Noble (daughter of Matron), seeks power to create the perfect world. Everything a drow is, cruel, sadistic, evil.

Combat style: Quick and deadly, would be good to have enemies feel powerless against her. Should allow her to fight any class by switching around few spells.

Campaign combat rules: Only 1 teleport spell prepared at max, no potions or elixirs, only 1 heal per a fight, no anti-drow feats or specs, no levitating, no summoning monsters or companions. Opponents will only be other humanoids (mostly drow of any class) but should be able to fight any humanoids. Fights start within 60 feet.

Most of opponents would be: Clerics, wizards, rogues, warriors, blackguards.

Preparing spells: Spells can be prepared before attacking someone, but there might be ambush or unexpected turn of events which would result in combat.

Campaign additional info: The environment is Drow city located nearby the surface, it is a struggle for power in Drow society in a small city that holds artifacts. A hunt for power in Drow society and artifacts, and going afterwards on the surface.

Out of combat tasks: Pretty much gathering information out of other people, some spells could be useful, but it pretty much comes to blackmail and leverage over other people.

I don't have much idea which pathway to choose for that goal and would welcome any suggestions since it is not an usual spellcasting build with team, which paths to evade would be also welcome. Multiclassing or prestige classing is both welcome.

  • \$\begingroup\$ May I ask, what is the scope of this campaign? Are you aiming simply to win at any costs, or are you hampered by foolish and weak notions of 'fair play'? \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    May 3, 2014 at 0:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Aiming to try to win with a powerful character, not at any costs as I am writing a complex character which could last for a while in campaign and I wouldn't want her to die. I simply wish build pathway that focuses on fighting few people. Since it's focused on that, it should work most of time. \$\endgroup\$
    – Twoopah
    May 3, 2014 at 7:52

2 Answers 2


(Full) Drow make fairly poor spellcasters

The +2 Level Adjustment (LA) hits really hard, and the bonuses you get are just not worth it. You are a full spell level below where you would otherwise be, and that sucks. You also have lower saves, lower HP, and lower skills, all of which are really bad for an arena game.

Player’s Guide to Faerûn does provide a good solution in the form of “lesser drow,” which are drow with weaker stats but LA +0. The spellcasting you get back is easily worth the weaker stats. The “lesser” status, by the way, is purely a game-mechanical term, and does not (by default) imply any thing about your heritage or “drow-ness” in-character. It just means you are trading some of the drow stats for more class levels.

Multiclassing tends to be poor for spellcasters

Just as you don’t want to waste levels on LA because it weakens your spellcasting, you also don’t want to waste levels in other classes as a spellcaster. You want, as much as possible to have all the spellcasting you can get.

Lolth-touched might be worth it

Lolth-touched is an LA +1 template from Monster Manual IV, and it’s ridiculous: +6 Str and +6 Con, +4 Hide, +4 Move Silently, and immunity to fear. Usually the primary drawback is that you have to be, ya know, touched by Lolth, which is an unpleasant prospect in almost all situations. But if you’re playing a female cleric of Lolth... you may be able to do it.

Still might not really be worth it since it doesn’t really improve spellcasting, though clerics are good in melee as well.

Archivists, clerics, druids, and wizards are the most powerful spellcasters

The ability to prepare new spells each day is incredibly flexible and powerful, and these classes provide the strongest spell lists with that feature. Lesser drow do not get any mental ability score bonuses, which make them neutral with respect to which of these is best, and female drow are traditionally clerics of Lolth. Any of the others is an option, but I’m going to assume cleric because it’s most fitting.

The only other thing I’d consider here is going beguiler/wizard/ultimate magus. Beguiler is a decent spellcaster from Player’s Handbook II, and very fitting for drow: it’s all about stealth and subtle magic, lots of illusions and enchantments. Ultimate magus from Complete Mage allows you to advance a prepared arcane class (like wizard) alongside a spontaneous arcane class (like beguiler), and entry is relatively easy. Recommended build is Bglr 1/Wiz 4/UM 10, at least until 15, and take Practiced Spellcaster (beguiler) from Complete Arcane at 6th or earlier to ensure you get maximum wizard spellcasting.

Ultimately, the cleric is probably more appropriate as a female drow, and probably stronger anyway, without the lost spellcasting level, but I wanted to mention it as a really solid drow option. If you are required to use the full drow stats instead of the lesser stats, this build also makes much better use of the +2 intelligence. You just may have to explain why your female drow has taken such a stereotypically “masculine” path.

Speaking of being a full drow, if you are and have +2 intelligence, but want to remain a divine caster, consider archivist instead of cleric. The loss of Rebuke Undead is a shame, since it means you cannot use some of the juiciest divine feats, but the intelligence bonus may make it worthwhile.


In general, the really most powerful feat option for a cleric is Divine Metamagic and Persistent Spell. These allow you to exchange Rebuke Undead uses for reduced metamagic cost, and therefore get your powerful Personal buff spells to last 24 hours. Divine power and righteous might are two great choices, for example.


Nothing super-special here; use the typical cleric power-houses; read the cleric handbook if you’re unfamiliar. Again, divine power and righteous might tend to be the best available.

Playing to stereotypes: poison

Poison is expensive and difficult to use, but a cleric of Lolth, in particular, is well-suited to making the most of it. The feats Lolth’s Caress, Master of Poisons, and Poison Spell are all found in Drow of the Underdark, and allow you to apply poisons quite liberally. Use of minor creation et al. can provide cheap poisons, and if you’re allowed, Wild Cohort can provide a snake or spider pet that can provide poison, even if you never bring it into the arena.

Lolth’s Caress is particularly brutal: expend a use of Rebuke Undead to force anyone suffering from poison to save against its secondary effect right now. For more on using poison effectively, see the Arsenic and Old Lace Handbook. Poison tends to be way better at low levels.

Prestige Classes

Traditional solid cleric prestige classes are probably your best bet; none of the drow-specific ones are all that impressive. Bone knight (Five Nations) and ordained champion (Complete Champion) are particularly strong melee-oriented prestige classes, and would go well with, say, Lolth-touched. Divine oracle and contemplative (both Complete Divine) are awesome for simple, sweet class features.

If you are not a cleric, you might try to sneak your way into sacred exorcist (Complete Divine), as it grants Turn Undead. It’s a Good class, though, so that may be problematic for you. Only bother with this if you are going for specific divine feats, like Lolth’s Caress, Divine Defiance (Fiendish Codex II), or Divine Might (Complete Champion).

If you can waive the god-specific requirements, or for some reason make a drow cleric of Wee-Jas, the ruby knight vindicator from Tome of Battle, after a dip in crusader from the same, is awesome. Ideally, go Clr 4/Cru 1/RKV 10.

For more ideas, see the cleric handbook

  • \$\begingroup\$ I just wanted to note - since all of the character's oponents will be mostly drow (as stated by the OP) the level adjustment won't really be that relevant since anyone that she fights on the arena probably will have the same LA, so it kinda offsets itself. Of course, the rest of your answer is right on the point! (+1, also) \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    May 2, 2014 at 18:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThalesSarczuk It could make a big difference the first time she has to fight a human. Moreover, if the rest of the opponents are full drow, and she is not, she'll have a big advantage (which the DM may not like, but eh... 3.5 is not a good system for the drow). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 2, 2014 at 19:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, that is true. One shall not understimate the value of a single caster level. An extra spell level is serious business. \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    May 2, 2014 at 19:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan on your comment, lesser drows are supposed to only exist when full drow are not a thing, so if she's a lesser drow then all other opponents are. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    May 2, 2014 at 23:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ DM is aiming to make all drow similar in level so that doesn't trouble me as much \$\endgroup\$
    – Twoopah
    May 3, 2014 at 7:49

True to your question: Drow females are usually indoctrinated into being clerics, thus a noble would be one without much choice in the matter.

Female Drow cleric of Loth level 15

Feats: 1st: Eschew Materials, 2nd: Divine Shield, 3rd: Corrupt Spell, 4th: Spell Penetration, 5th: Greater Spell Penetration, 6th: Mobile Spell-casting

Spell selection can be selected day to day

Domains: 1st: Evil, 2nd: Drow

Equipment is key you need to boost your saves to fort and reflex as much as possible. Boost your key stats charisma and wisdom as much as possible and look to items like rods or powerful enchanted maces or whips for your weapon or both. Don't carry a shield be smart about your gear.

This is my Item list with the given template of building a character level 15

your gold allotment is 200,000 gold.


Meta magic ROD Quicken 75,500

Mind shielding RING 8,000

RING of Protection +2 8,000

Amulet of Natural Armor +2 8,000

Cloak of Resistance +4 16,000

Boots of Elvenkind 2,500

Hellcat Gauntlets 3,200

+2 Enhancement bonus, Drow crafted, Half-Weighted (+6 Half-Plate) 36,750

193,950 Total spent gold.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain why you chose those feats and not more typical cleric feats? \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2014 at 9:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BrianBallsun-Stanton Sure, the Eschew materials is always my low level caster feat, Divine Shield replaces my need to carry a shield, Corrupt Spell turns the spells I use to evil for my Domain bonus to kick in, Spell Pen and Greater Spell pen is cause your main opponents are Drow and other creatures of the underdark have a lot of SR and finally Mobile Spell-casting to keep you moving in battle cause the last thing your going to want is a another Drow B#$%ch clawing at your face. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pro756
    May 3, 2014 at 17:11

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