So, I have a problem. I have a warforged character who, the DM insisted, would be created with a class first and THEN have stats rolled, 3d6, in order and no re-ordering (i.e. STR first, then DEX, etc.). Whatever class I chose before I knew the stats would have to put up with whatever random stats I rolled. So... I chose swordsage. And... I got:

STR: 9. DEX: 13. CON: 19. INT: 13. WIS: 10. CHA: 8.

Bugger, there goes my ability to do any decent damage and my effectiveness as a swordsage is vastly reduced. Nice Con though.

My problem is, I hate having a primary role that isn't using my best (or even second-best) stat. I can't switch any attribute scores; they're fixed as they are, so I was wondering if anyone knew of a class or build that would make the best use of these stats (now that we've hit level 2 we're allowed to multiclass into something actually suitable). Int-based caster is out, since warforged get a flat Arcane Spellcasting fail chance of 15% with mithril body. I know of no class which is powered by Constitution, which really is my most insane stat...

Edit: to all the comments regarding the DM's 'un-fun' method of stat assignment; yes, it's unusual, but I knew it'd be the case before joining the group. I don't mind it, it adds a bit of challenge (and a roleplaying challenge too). It's a pity that I had to choose my class beforehand, so I kind of 'wasted' a level, but overall I got lucky; another party member is a Favoured Soul with 8 wisdom.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, as this is relevant, we encourage self-answers when they comprise useful research. As your build is going to be nigh-unique, I would recommend posting it as an answer, especially with annotations to why you made the decisions the way you did. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Will do, but my next session is in 3 days so it'll have to wait until then. Is that delay alright? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:52
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ That delay is more than acceptable, mate. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for arguing! If you wish to include your "don't play" advice in a constructive answer, you may. Dealing with unusual, but well articulated requirements by recommending adjustments to the requirements is adequate (though it is more fun optimising within constraints). Telling someone else "I don't find your way of playing fun, so you shouldn't play that way" is not. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 16, 2014 at 0:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ If your GM let’s you, it might be worth going up an age category and choosing a wizard. Through stat increases and items you should be able to cast every level of spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – Macona
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 7:52

9 Answers 9


Be an Incarnate or Totemist

Looking at the incarnum handbook, your stats line up perfectly with their priorities, it can synergize well with a dip into swordsage (lucky you), and is an interesting and flavourful route.

The only trick is that the book doesn't explain itself well, so an amount of research reading the explanations in the handbooks (incarnate handbook + incarnum handbook + swordsage handbook + Totemist Handbook) is clearly indicated. Beyond that, it fits your requirements perfectly.

Beyond that, the fluff of an animated construct armouring itself in soulstuff just begs for plot, which is, itself, interesting. Your first level of swordsage is an interesting dip, as it provides skills, stances, and attacks that can provide some absolutely fascinating synergy with your invested soulmelds. You'll have to spend time working through the combinations, but it'll provide character-career long flavour and moves that will direct how you spend your essentia.

Unfortunately, you will want to plot out your character's build out to the conceivable end of the campaign. You're integrating two of the later and extremely fiddly systems (for the perfect trifecta, dip into binder just to watch your own head explode.) But, with enough research and preparation, this fits your requirements nicely, and provides a serviceable tier-3 character dripping with interesting questions.

In terms of integration, you'll actually want to advance swordsage more than you might expect. The Diamond Mind school that the swordsage has access to is concentration/constitution driven. The incarnate has concentration as a class skill, and by taking advantage of the clause that notes that half of other class levels go into your initiator level, there are some cute tricks. Specifically, you want swordsage 2 after you take 4 levels of incarnate/totemist, giving you access to third level maneuvers, all of which can be diamond mind, allowing you to apply concentration to many of your saves and damage rolls.

Ask your DM if you can retrain to have the following maneuvers:

  • Moment of Perfect Mind (Swordsage/1)
  • Sapphire Nightmare Blade (Swordsage/1) -- this will be your primary attack, since flatfooted can do quite a lot to help your accuracy. The full-round action to reset sucks, but... what can you do?
  • Shadow Blade Technique (Swordsage/1)
  • Distracting Ember (Swordsage/1)

Choose your stance based on your intended incarnate build and this guide. Your other 2 maneuvers should be a function of your intended build as well, chosen with an eye towards meeting prereqs.

Dipping back into swordsage at level 6 allows you to cherrypick other diamond mind maneuvers and stances, which will neatly complement your incarnate. While it's likely going pure incarnate is better, there's no reason to not mix it up once you've fallen down this path.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Links are dead, may want to replace \$\endgroup\$
    – Weckar E.
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 22:22

Dragonfire Adept

Dragonfire adepts from Dragon Magic use Constitution to determine the saving throws against their breath weapons, which is pretty effective. Combined with the Entangling Exhalation feat from Races of the Dragon, you have an excellent at-will, area-affecting attack that nukes, damages over time, and applies a solid debuff. It quickly wanes in power as level increases, but early on it’s quite effective and even later it’s not useless.

At very high levels, the fivefold breath of Tiamat can do some half-decent damage. It’s the mid-high levels where dragonfire adepts struggle mightily.

Possibly worse, as at-will spellcasters, dragonfire adepts tend to feel very same-y: yeah, you can breathe that nasty entangling fire all day, every day, but you don’t tend to have a lot of other things you can do. You only get a measly 8 invocations over the course of your entire career, and for you personally your selection is going to be restricted by the fact that their save DC is Charisma-based (though, truth be told, the best of them are self-buffs or party-buffs that don’t involve saves anyway).

The dragonfire adept also synergizes very little with your mandatory level in swordsage.


Dragonfire Adept

If you're interested primarily in capitalizing on your constitution, consider the Dragonfire Adept, which has a Constitution-based breath weapon. With the Entangling Exhalation feat, you could use this breath to entangle your enemies. As you level, the breath could also sicken enemies, slow them, or paralyze them (though only for a single round).

As a dragonfire adept, you would also gain access to invocations, or at-will spells. A few of these require Charisma-based saves, which would make them impractical for you. However, the most powerful do not require a save at all. At first level, these include the 24-hour buffs Beguiling Influence, which would give you +6 to Intimidate, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive; Draconic Knowledge, which would give the same bonus to all knowledge skills and allow you to use them untrained; and See the Unseen, which provides Darkvision and the ability to see invisible creatures. If you're creative, you might also get use out of the Fog Cloud and Darkness invocations.

At Level 6, your list of options expands to include at-will invisibility, flight, blindsense, and dispel magic. At level 11, you could take Chilling Fog, which creates a solid fog that deals 2d6 damage each turn. Solid Fog is a great battlefield control spell because it reduces enemies' movement speed to five feet, prevents them from using weapon-based ranged attacks, blocks their line of sight, and gives them a penalty to melee attacks. And it doesn't even give them a save!

While I agree with KRyan's contention that there is little synergy between the Swordsage and Dragonfire Adept, you could create synergy by selecting the appropriate maneuvers. For example, the Tiger Claw maneuver Sudden Leap would increase your mobility, the Diamond Mind maneuver Moment of Perfect Mind would allow you to replace a Will save with a Concentration check, the Setting Sun maneuver Counter Charge would allow you to negate a charge attack, and the Desert Wind maneuver Wind Stride would give you a low-level speed boost. All of these maneuvers only require swift or immediate actions, so they wouldn't keep you from using the Dragonfire Adept abilities.

The same goes for stances, which could give you scent, thematically-appropriate fire resistance, or the ability to ignore difficult terrain, a useful trait if you decide not to take the flight invocations. If you don't have these maneuvers or stances, consider using the class feature retraining rules, which appear on page 192 of the Player's Handbook II.

Of course, you would have to explain how a warforged unlocked a dragon's power. Perhaps you are an experimental type powered by dragon blood.


The Warlock offers another option. Like the Dragonfire Adept, it is a Charisma-based, at-will spellcaster with several 24-hour buffs that would be useful even to someone with a low charisma. However, instead of using a breath weapon, the warlock relies on Eldritch Blast, a ranged touch attack that deals damage based on his level.

Because ranged touch attacks ignore armor and natural armor bonuses to AC, they are often easy to make. As a result, one of the many warlock handbooks declares in all seriousness that warlocks can function with any array, even 3s across the board.

To take advantage of your high constitution and compensate for your low charisma, you would rely not on eldritch blast but on Eldritch Glaive, a blast shape that allows you to turn your blast into a reach weapon. Like the regular blast, the glaive relies on touch attacks. However, you get extra attacks as you level up, which would allow you to deal more damage. If you take eldritch essences instead of other invocations, you could also force enemies to make saves or suffer debilitating effects, including dazed, nauseated, or stunned. Your save DCs might be low, but at high levels, the enemy would need to make three saves each round.

To get even more from your constitution, consider the Hellfire Warlock, a prestige class that would let you take constitution damage to boost your glaive or blast's damage. At level 3, the prestige class's final level, you could trade one point of constitution damage for 6d6 extra damage. Assuming you reach a high enough level to get three attacks, that would give you 18d6 damage a round, or an average of 63 points.

Unfortunately, Hellfire Warlock requires 12 ranks in Knowledge (the planes), which means you won't be able to access it until level 10. It would also require you to select Brimstone Blast, which many consider a weak invocation.

While the Dragonfire Adept and Warlock can be effective, I can't deny KRyan's contention that they become repetitive. However, that is true of most classes. In a rules-focused, tactical game, it will be a shame. In a more narrative game, where the DM will allow you to do things like aim your blast at someone's knees to throw them off balance, limited classes can be a blast to play because they force you to be creative.

Other Options

If your DM prefers to stick with the rules as written, consider playing a Swordsage and focusing on Diamond Mind maneuvers. Because most of these maneuvers involve Concentration checks, which are modified by Constitution, your high stat would still come into play.

To give your constitution more play, consult Person_Man's list of ways to use different stats. The most notable for constitution is the prestige class Fist of the Forest, which would allow you to add your Constitution modifier to AC but has skill, feat, and roleplay prerequisites that might be difficult to meet.

Remember, you can compensate for low attack bonuses with the right items. For example, Tome of Battle has the Discipline Weapon enchantment, a +1 enchantment that gives an untyped +3 bonus to attack rolls provided the wielder is using a strike or stance from the discipline to which it is tied. In other words, it gives you the attack bonus you would gain for having a 16 in a stat in exchange for something that should be happening most of the time.

If you decide to take levels in other classes and get frustrated with the Swordsage level, the retraining rules in the Player's Handbook II allow you to swap class levels. However, the rules are optional, so make sure you talk to your DM before taking advantage of them.

Note: Including the Hellfire Warlock was suggested by D.Spetz.


Incarnate? Totemist? INCARNATOTEM!

Totemist is 2 levels long (the most important abilities are gained in the first two levels), and in that context, Incarnate is 4. They have considerable synergy, and there is little reason not to add a bit of Totemist to your Balanced Incarnum Breakfast.

Totemist 2 gives you access to the Totem chakra bind, which is the meat and bread of the Totemist class. It lets you choose between a variety of different natural attacks, my favourite of which is Landshark Boots, which turns your feet and hands into claws and gives you a jumping pouncing attack. The CO community's favourite is Girallon Arms, which causes you to grow a second pair of arms and all your (now 4) hands turn into claws, on top of a typeless grapple bonus. All kinds of things can be picked, from Kraken Mantle for serious grappling to Frost Helm to give you a gaze attack or Manticore Belt to launch terrifying volleys of MASSIVE DAMAGE at your foes.

Incarnate 4 gives you access to the Hands chakra bind (and the feet, but that's less exciting). Incarnate has a much steadier power curve than Totemist, but this is still a Big Deal. Largely due to Astral Vambraces being amazing. With the feat to invest extra essentia into a single bind (Expanded Soulmeld Capacity) (which you WILL take), it's something like DR 8/magic at level 5. How many monsters have magic damage at level 5? And then you bind it to your hands and get two free slam natural attacks. With Landshark Boots or similar, that's 6 natural attacks.

The big thing you are getting out of Incarnate though, is damage. Because you are Evil. Why are you evil? Optimizing! Evil incarnates using the Incarnate Avatar get a HUGE bonus on damage applied to every attack! Don't want to be Evil? Well.. you could be Good. Then you get a bonus on your AC. Which you could add a deflection bonus to through Crystal Helm, and a natural bonus to through Wormtail Belt, and make every combat HammerTime. But who wants that? When you can CUT THROUGH YOUR ENEMIES WHILE DRINKING THEIR BLOOD AND PRAISING YOUR DARK GODS?

Incarnate Weapon helps add to damage if you are evil, and Blue Steel Bracers and Bloodwar Gauntlets and Lightning Gauntlets can all help contribute to damage in their own, limited way.

At a certain level, you can take the feat Split Chakra, and you will, and you will split the Totem chakra and you will have two totem binds and you will be so happy, so very, very happy.

Airstep Boots, Spellward Shirt and Blink Shirt all deserve a mention. One grants flight when bound to feet (see: Incarnate 4), one gives decent SR (suck it, spellcasters!) and the other gives teleportation (!!!?!!>!). These are important mobility and survival options for the incarnatotemist on the go, and should not be neglected (no matter how much the siren song of MOAR DAMAGE calls you).

Remember - Essentia can be safely switched between soulmelds at any time, and essentia is pooled between classes and your essentia cap is based on level (and the feat, and the incarnate class ability) - so incarnum classes work really well with dipping. You delay access to chakra binds, but really, when was the last time a soul bind mattered at freakin' level 19 anyway.

Source(s): The Incarnum Handbook, The Incarnate Handbook, The Totemist Handbook (all praise be to the holy sinfire titan, may he keep us safe in this time of need)

Binding and You

Hi, everyone, i'm Bob. And I... I have a problem with binding extradimensional entities and forcing them to my will.

Hi Bob. [Chorus]

With one level in Binder and exactly one feat (Improved Binding), you can bind Dahlver-Nar. In addition to an AoE confusion (Maddening Moan) and the ability to make enemies take half of any damage you take (Shield Self), you also grow teeth all over your body that add your half your con modifier to your natural armour. Which stacks with an amulet of natural armour.

You can also bind Malphas if you feel like sneaking up to someone and RENDING THEM APART WITH YOUR GIRALLON ARMS, because he has at-will invisibility, and sudden strike (it's sneak attack, and when you sneak up on someone it's like delicious supercandy from heaven because each attack does it), and he has an uber little bird thing that scouts for you!

With 3 levels total in Binder and that feat, you can pick up Paimon, who is just dead sexy with his +4 to dex and his ability to pick a direction and murder everyone in it (Dance of Death). If you decide to avoid going incarnatotemist, he helps deal with crowds (incarnatotemists just rend everything).

There's surprising amounts of synergy between the combat focused Vestiges and chakra binds, in that the vestiges grant special attack options and the binds give the raw numbers.


Some people might suggest a quick stop into Barbarian along with the Extra Rage feat will go a long way towards shoring up your sub-par strength, or even dex with the Whirling Frenzy variant (UA). I wouldn't do it. Firstly, it's boring. Really really boring. Secondly, it's better to put together something amazing, like a pouncing, beclawed, incarnate avatar'd screaming madness into the night incarnatotembindist as fast as possible than it is to be mediocre instead of terrible for longer. Basically, Go Big or Go Home.

The only reason to take a level of Barbarian with this class-level-starved build is to pick up Pounce from the Spirit Lion Totem Barbarian ACF in Complete Champion. And that's.. boring. Don't do that. Be leaping around the battlefield Landshark pseudopouncing or Sudden Leaping or using Leaping Flame or something. It's cooler and more interesting. And doesn't cost a level.

To explain further: The only extra capability barbarian gives is the Pounce, which you already have sort-of access to through Sudden Leap and Landshark Boots. Other than that, it's just rage bonuses. Binder I am reccomending due to the extra capability, not the bonuses. Barbarian I am rejecting for the same reason.

Barbarian (1 level + feat): +2 to hit, +2 to damage, +2 to AC for three encounters per day. Pounce. Binder (1 level + feat): AoE confusion (crowdclear), 50% DR for an action, +2 to AC (that improves with con-boosters), OR at-will invisibility, +2d6 damage (on sneak attack), regenerating bird scout OR other options. Incarnate (1 level + feat): +6 to damage, +2 AC OR DR 4/magic OR Flight OR Teleportation OR SR OR so forth so on.

Incarnate provides grunt numbers, totemist gives extra attacks and a few number types incarnate doesn't have (natural armour), and Binder and Swordsage provide the sneaky special abilities. Anything that slows you getting the totemist/incarnate combo off the ground is probably bad.


Swordsages actually work really as a dip class to enable a blender (multiple attack) style character. The maneuvers Sudden Leap (move as a swift, set up for a full attack), Burning Blade (adds lots of fire damage to ALL your attacks, also learn the higher level versions just to use on the next turn), Flashing Sun (extra attack on the full attack), Leaping Flame (teleport next to enemies attacking at range or with reach as a Counter), Raging Mongoose (extra attacks) all work well with blenders.

Any Strikes you do know should be only the really, really good ones (mostly just Insightful Strike) used only when you can't pull off a full attack or a jumping pseudopounce. Counter Charge and the Diamond Mind counters are all great, know them if possible.

For Stance, you pretty much want to be in Assassin's Stance. Flank someone for +2d6 damage on all your insane number of attacks? Uh, yes. Yes yes yes yes yes. Yes. yes yes. I cannot 'yes' harder.

Long Range Forecast

Once you have your second level of swordsage, you've got Totemist, Incarnate, bubbling along with all your feats heavily invested in stuff like Extra Essentia, Split Chakra, Expanded Essentia Capacity, Improved Binding, Multiattack, etc, what do?

I'll tell you what do. Fist of the Forest, from Complete Champion improves your unarmed strike/gives you unarmed strike, adds Con to AC (you heard me), and lets you enter a trance that gives bonus wis and con or something, for the low low cost of not buying food in towns. Yes. You, a warforge, cannot buy food in towns or sleep in beds in towns. YEAH. WHAT A PRICE, THAT THOU MUST PAYETH.

Deepwarden, from Races of Stone, requires that you be a dwarf. But in that same book there is a feat to COUNT AS A DWARF. I mean heck yeah. Dwarforged. You add Con to AC, and you get some other goodies at the same time, and why not.

Forsaker, from Masters of the Wild, is a terrible class for terrible people. 'But I am a incarnum user I don't need magic items as much' nope. You need magic items as much if not more than everyone else. So despite the fact this adds con to AC and has all kinds of other shiny looking bonuses, you are going to take zero levels in it.

MOAR INCARNATE! - this is a surprisingly good and attractive option, but instead...

You know how you count as a Dwarf now? Welcome to the Ironsoul Forgemaster, Incarnum's answer to the Dwarf. It boasts a faster Chakra Bind progression, progresses your meldshaping for melds known and bound, and some nifty abilities tied to carrying a shield in your hand, which you don't mind doing because you are busy clawing at people with your feet, mouth, tongue, magical appendages, and glowing floating mindweapon and god knows what else. Note that the 'weapon bond' ability can apply to your 'incarnate weapon', so you layer bonuses on bonuses so you can add while you add.

Ironsoul Forgemaster is hands down one of the best classes in the entire damn book, and you will love it, worship it, and use it to smite your foes while cackling.

Wrapping Up

Your final build is probably going to look a bit like this;

Swordsage 1/Totemist 2/Incarnate 2/Swordsage+1/Incarnate+2/Deepwarden 2/Ironsoul Forgemaster 2/Swordsage+1/Ironsoul Forgemaster X.

You might have a level of Binder splashed in there in the early days. Probably the overall best utility/balance you will get is going in the early levels 'Swordsage 1/Incarnate 1/Binder 1' and taking Improved Binding as your 3rd level feat. The absolute carnage, though, when you hit Totemist 2 and bind Landshark Boots et al is not to be underestimated. Burning Blade + a Totemist 2 full attack can end encounters.

But you won't really be off the ground until you have both Totemist 2 and Incarnate Avatar (Evil) (or to be pedantic and crappy, bloodwar gauntlets and bluesteel bracers at the same time costing double the essentia you non-evil silly billy), so you're getting both extra attacks and extra damage. Your low to-hit will probably always be a problem, a wand of wraith strike and use magic device might be an idea to try to off-set it.

Hopefully, dropping dozens of attacks on things while burning with the righteous rage of the desert wind and relying on a shield that can deflect meteor swarms held in your teeth and skin made of teeth will help overcome that.

Best of luck!

Level by Level, Round by Round

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    \$\begingroup\$ Being able to move and use your class features at the same time is... boring? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 15:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please don't go on like that in comments. If you want to respond to a legitimate critique of your answer, edit your answer to add the requisite information. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 16:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ According to my sources, "Dwarforged" actually requires a three-level prestige class, not a feat (though I can't comment on whether that prestige class requires a feat). \$\endgroup\$
    – Firebreak
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 18:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ironsoul Forgemaster is restricted to any non-evil alignment. As such, you cannot use Incarnate Avatar(Evil) as an Ironsoul Forgemaster. \$\endgroup\$
    – DvdZee
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 13:21

I second the warlock suggestion. Though, more specifically, the Hellfire Warlock prestige class located in The Fiendish Codex II. They have the ability to conjure hellfire, but each time they do, they take 1 point of temporary con damage. This hellfire does extra damage and also ignores fire resistance. The only problem with this is that I believe you have to be a minimum of 12th level before taking this. Certainly not your best bet at 2nd level but it should be an option for you later on.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the hellfire warlock's Constitution damage can be rapidly healed with a single level in binder from Tome of Magic, or (arguably) with the strongheart vest from Magic of Incarnum. A rod of bodily restoration can also do the trick for a fairly-low price. Thus, a hellfire warlock does not really need especially high constitution. (Then again, warlocks function well on low stats in general, and Constitution's always one of the best stats.) \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 5:22

I upgraded my character last night and here's what I ended up with:

Swordsage 1 - Maneuvers: Wolf Fang Strike (had to take it for the pre-req part), Blood in the Water, Stone Bones, Burning Blade, Sapphire Nightmare Blade, Clinging Shadow Strike. I chose Desert Wind as my discipline since it offers weapon focus in falchions, which were my intended primary weapon since before I knew my stats I was going to go for being a crit-focused melee attacker.

Incarnate 1 - Soulmelds prepared: Bluesteel Bracers and Crystal Helm seemed most useful at the time. With only 1 essentia to spend currently, I kept it in Crystal Helm to give me +1 to AC.

Other useful stats: I rolled max HP with the incarnate's d6, giving me 22HP total. My AC is by far the highest of the party at 17, so I am essentially the tank. I'm only 45 XP away from level 3, and I'm presumably taking another Incarnate level next turn, so I'm wondering which feat and new soulmeld to take.

  • \$\begingroup\$ High AC doesn't make you a tank (it actually gives enemies a really good reason to hit someone else), and 17 should not be the highest in a party at level 2. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 23:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Iron, I strongly urge you to plot through 20 levels of this character, with desired feats, PrCs, and items at each level, as it will help you make necessary choices in early levels. It will also spawn specific questions that will make good questions on this site. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 19, 2014 at 0:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Fair point about the tank. You'd think 17 wouldn't be, but it's a party of 3, we've all undergone the same anti-optimization treatment of 'stats after classes' and the other two classes are a bard and favoured soul. Brian, I will attempt that. Sounds like it'll take a while. Judging by the Incarnate Guide though, there don't seem to be great PrCs for me to go into though... \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 19, 2014 at 5:26

Your Intelligence is high enough for Combat Expertise, so play a tanky fighter until you build up enough feats to learn how to trip everyone with impunity with a spiked chain or whip (get Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Spiked Chain or Whip, Improved Trip, and Weapon Finesse). Whip has longer reach and is one-handed so you get to use a shield with it, but it doesnt threaten so Spiked Chain is generally still considered better. Use Spiked Chain if you can boost your Dexterity to take advantage of Combat Reflexes. When the feats stack up start focusing in other ways to be a control-type fighter (Improved Disarm is good if you fight a lot of weapon wielders).

Otherwise you've got an I credibly sturdy rogue, Weapon Finesse a light weapon and let flanking help your attack rolls and sneak attack cover your damage.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 I like the ideas, but I like the look of the Incarnate a bit better. Also, tripping is a bit of a 'gimmicky' thing in my view, since it won't work on everything (oozes, ghosts, etc.) and therefore is situational. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Whip is an awful weapon that should never be taken. Even with his Dex, getting Combat Reflexes and gloves of dexterity would be worthwhile if you went this route, which means you want something that threatens, and the whip doesn’t. It’s really really dumb, but it doesn’t. Thus spiked chain is massively better here (or even just a guisarme). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 0:56
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Whips get a bad rap because of the threaten thing. Forgot that Spiked Chains didn't have to be dual-wielded, added those as an option. Saying something should "never" be taken really diminishes other people's experiences. I've had a lot of fun with a whip fighter, and I certainly didn't feel useless ever or that I was doing anything wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – xanadu
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 1:31
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The OP posted a comment, don't see it anymore, along the lines of how they appreciated the challenge associated with the stat limitations. I don't know about picking a class before rolling stats, but I don't judge how other people play their game. My mind's completely gone though, thinking Spiked Chain was a double-weapon. It is the better choice, but there are reasons still to pick whip over it, depending on character concept. I'll stand by it. \$\endgroup\$
    – xanadu
    Commented May 15, 2014 at 2:28
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @JackLesnie Don't argue in comments, please. If you need to rebut claims, please make an answer to the question that addresses the question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 15, 2014 at 8:05

Keep in mind my advice only holds for the books I currently own. That and I multi-class everytime in 3.5e so if this is not your style then disregard any advice I have.

To start, I would ake odd levels in rogue greater than 2 for the evasion + sneak attack bonuses. Your high int will go into skills so utilize bluff/feints in combat. Your damage would then come from sneak attack dice. As long as you don't treat rogue like a non-combat class the sneak attack damage will make up for the lack of BAB and your con will make up for the low HD. When I multi-class I go by a 2-6-8-12 level placement rule. The rogue is the only exception because the benefit more from odd levels, this compliments the 1 level you have in swordsage. Thus 1,5,7,11 levels in rogue is most optimized. Say you pick up dual wielding light weapons and use the Weapon Finesse feats, I would take 6 levels in ranger to get the dual wielding feats without needing the dex pre-reqs. (Leaving you with 1swordsage,7rogue,6ranger) Spend the last 6 levels in fighter for the feats, or up sword sage more for the higher will saves.

The rogue/wf compliments a lower strength due to lack in heavy armor and equipment. The 13 in dex and int work great for unlocking many useful feats, I would almost consider taking levels in fighter just for the bonus feats should you choose to go gun-ho on them. Your fortitude and reflex saves will be amazing, the only thing you need to worry about is your will.

Any other recommendations I could make would require more knowledge on your characters alignment and skill placements + feat choices. If you have a preferred weapon or combat style, or are you simply looking for a class combination that fits very well with your current stats.


If psionics are allowed in your campaign I would consider the Lurk class from complete psionic, they are hybrid of rogue and psionic caster with the ability to augment their attacks and sneak attack as long as they maintain psionic focus which uses the concentration skill. The class caps out at lvl 6 psionics so you would only need to hit 16 to get max lvl powers and the high con would be very useful in maintaining your focus and tanking hits after you get in your initial sneak blows.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Consider suggesting the Psychic Rogue (wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/psm/20040723b) as an alternative to Lurk. With more skill points, a more diverse power list, and the ability to sneak attack without spending power points or swift actions, they can be more versatile. For a more nuanced comparison, see the second spoiler under "The Psychic Rogue's Tier" in the Psychic Rogue's Handbook (giantitp.com/forums/…). \$\endgroup\$
    – Thaliak
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 2:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ After posting my original comment, I remembered that the lurk can deal some sneak attack damage without using augments. I still think psychic rogues make better sneak attackers. Their base sneak attack doesn't require psionic focus and tops out at 7d6, almost twice as many dice as the lurk's 4d6. The Lurk can get to 15d6 at Level 20 by spending 20 power points, but the extra dice only apply to one attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – Thaliak
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 2:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, what significant use of Constitution does the class have? I agree with Thaliak that the PsyRogue is much better (and think of the Lurk as a failed experiment, though the idea has merit), but that's not really the issue: primarily, the Lurk is an Int/Dex class, and the querent has only a 13 in each of those. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 5:19

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