Initial Details:

Greyhawk setting; dwarf worships Sunnis, the Archoelemental of Earth, as she is an earth dwarf and has taken the dwarf sorcerer 1st level racial substitution level. She has also decided upon battle sorcerer rather than standard sorcerer.

DM has allowed Lost Tradition feat, to allow spellcasting to be based off constitution.

Melee weapon is a dwarven waraxe. 1st level feat taken is Earth Bloodline from Dragon Compendium.

The initial idea is to take advantage of the high constitution and high strength in melee, after summoning creatures and applying some self buffs.

Any thought on how to improve this in future levels? I don't have much experience as with either dwarves, or sorcerers, and since this isn't my character - I appeal to higher authority (i.e. RPG.SE).

My initial suggestions were to take a martial class to give more weapon options and to think about possible Shielded Casting along with the standard conjuration/summoning feats.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I’m working on an answer here, but it will have to wait until morning. How much of this is already set in stone (groan)? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 22 '15 at 4:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Roleplaying session hasnt started yet, so an eraser and a pencil can still come in handy. She wants the earth dwarf battle sorcerer for certain. Weapons/Classes/Feats are up for grabs. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Feb 22 '15 at 6:11

Existing Choices

Just a quick run-down of the choices already made and suggestions in the question.

Lost Traditions is amazing

This feat is fantastic; I would not allow it in my games at all. This character can get away with a lot of “mistakes,” build-wise, because this feat is so beefy. So take the following with that grain of salt; the critique applies, but ultimately you’re starting from such a good place that you still wind up quite strong.

Battle Sorcerer is bad

Battle sorcerer permanently stunts your spellcasting, but only improves your sorcerer class levels. You will want to take prestige class levels instead of sorcerer levels as much as possible, so most likely you will have a maximum of five sorcerer levels. This is a difference between BAB +2 and BAB +3. The increase in HD is minimal and half replaced by dwarven sorcerer, the weapon proficiency is likely to be replaced by prestige class selection (and only represents a +2 damage increase anyway), and the armor proficiency and armored spellcasting can either be replaced or don’t matter since you can trivially wear armor anyway. So really only the +1 BAB is significant here.

Losing a spell known of every spell level is not worth +1 BAB. The only time battle sorcerer is recommended is when the extra BAB gets you into a prestige class earlier.

Wizard would be dramatically better

To begin with, wizards just are better than sorcerers; wizard spellcasting is dramatically more flexible and forgiving. Wizard spells per day look similar to sorcerer spells known (and specialist wizard spells per day look a lot better than battle sorcerer spells known), meaning that while the wizard has to plan for the next 24 hours, the sorcerer has to plan for the rest of his life.

Furthermore, the wizard is just better for this character. They can trade their bonus feats for fighter bonus feats; this enables a wizard to, e.g., pick up Martial Weapon Proficiency or Armor Proficiency. That goes a long way to replacing battle sorcerer’s flavorful components, and eases entry into prestige classes that will dramatically improve prowess in melee. Moreover, the excellent dwarven prestige class runesmith, from Races of Stone, requires that you prepare spells ahead of time anyway, so to enter it as a sorcerer (already more difficult due to the lack of bonus feats) is to give yourself the worst of both worlds as far as spellcasting goes.

Earth Bloodline is OK

Nine spells known is pretty solid for a feat, though none of them are all that impressive. Losing all [Air] spells kind of hurts, but honestly only wind wall is coming to mind as a significant [Air] spell and it’s not that significant.

Note that, if I did convince you that wizard is superior, they can arguably still take Earth Bloodline by taking the Spontaneous Divination option from Complete Champion, which is by no means a poor option in its own right.

Alternatively, Arcane Disciple from Complete Divine could get you the Earth Domain’s spells instead; they don’t become spells known, so you’d have to scribe them into your spellbook, but for a wizard that’s cheap and easy. This is also better for a prestige class I will recommend later.

Shielded Casting is just about completely pointless

This character should have massive Constitution and maxed ranks in Concentration. Defensive casting checks are really easy. The character will probably succeed even on a nat-1 by like, level 7 or so. Even at 1st, it’s a fairly safe check. Not a great use of a feat.

Becomes much better if you expect to run into people with the Mage Slayer feat often.


These are my actual suggestions. I am going to assume that none of the above critique has actually changed anything, however, and assume we’re dealing with a battle sorcerer with an Earth Bloodline.

Abjurant Champion (Complete Mage)

Every arcanist who ever wanted to swing a weapon should take this class. Entry is relatively easy:

  • +5 BAB
  • Combat Casting
  • 1st-level spells
  • Proficient in at least one martial weapon

This means that, as long as the battle sorcerer takes Combat Casting, he or she can qualify at 7th and take his or her first level at 8th. Finally, something the battle sorcerer is better at; a wizard (or non-battle sorcerer) would have to wait until 10th to qualify.

Anyway, the class is 5 levels long, and offers

  • Full spellcasting progression for 5 levels
  • Full BAB progression for 5 levels
  • Various improvements to abjurations that improve AC

The first two are the big ones; note that mage armor is not an abjuration, and then ask your DM if he’ll make it one since even the authors of Complete Mage thought it was (the example abjurant champion is statted as if it was), and it really should be. If not, luminous armor and greater luminous armor from Book of Exalted Deeds are abjurations, and are better than mage armor, but are also higher level, hurt you when they finish, and require that you be Good.

Earthshaker (Dragon vol. 314)

This prestige class is an excellent choice. The requirements are a bit tricky:

  • Knowledge (dungeoneering) 6 ranks
  • Knowledge (nature) 12 ranks
  • Ability to cast soften earth and stone
  • Ability to speak Terran

As should be immediately obvious, wizard is once again superior, since they get those Knowledge skills. A sorcerer can take the Educated feat (Eberron Campaign Setting) to get all knowledge skills always-in-class, which is nice-ish. Knowledge Devotion is a far better feat, but only gets you one knowledge skill; you could do cross-class ranks in Knowledge (dungeoneering) if you wanted, but you’re going to have very poor skill points per level as it is, since sorcerers only get 2+Int skills and you have no particular use for Intelligence. That said, it can be done.

As for casting soften earth and stone, you can do this, as either class, by taking Arcane Disciple for the Earth Domain, which includes soften earth and stone. Since Arcane Disciple for the Earth Domain gets you entry, I would ask the DM if the Earth Bloodline can get you entry. Maybe call the requirement the ability to cast stone shape? As a 4th-level spell, that’s a generally much harder spell to cast, but it’s on the Earth Bloodline and since 12 ranks requires 9th level anyway it won’t matter much.

Anyway, once you get in, you gain the following benefits:

  • Full spellcasting progression for 10 levels
  • ¾ BAB progression for 10 levels
  • Earth Domain
    • See Complete Divine for the rules for gaining a bonus domain as a non-cleric.
    • Try to convince the DM to overrule it and allow the domain to add directly to a sorcerer’s spells known. Otherwise it’s not worth much.
  • Tremorsense that scales with class level, eventually out to 25 ft.
  • Tremor and Greater Tremor, which shake the ground in an area around you, knocking enemies over; decent enough.
  • Geyser, which does exceptionally minor damage, but has a chance of shoving creatures away from it and knocking them prone, which is pretty awesome.
  • Earthquake as a spell-like ability, first 1/day then 2/day.

Really, the benefits of this are primarily in the full spellcasting at ¾ BAB; the rest is just fluff – but fitting fluff.

Final Build – Battle Sorcerer 7/Abjurant Champion 5/Earthshaker 8

It’s a shame we can’t get into earthshaker (or abjurant champion) earlier; Sorcerer 5/Abjurant Champion 5/Earthshaker 10 would be a far better and neater build. Talk to your DM about easing some of the entry requirements, particularly the skill requirements on earthshaker.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I showed the player this answer. Although she likes the "fluff" aspects of Brian Ballsun-Stanton's answer better, she likes the "pew pew" aspect of this one more. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Feb 23 '15 at 7:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Please, may we entreat for the character to go wizard/runesmith instead of battle sorcerer? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 23 '15 at 7:37

Look at races of stone, it has 2 PrCs that are thematically and mechanically appropriate, as well as a line of feats:

  • Useful to the gishy dwarf is the Runesmith (though they're much much much much better for wizards.), allowing full casting without Arcane Spell Failure in heavy armor.
  • The feats Earth Sense and Earth Spell are thematically appropriate and lead into:
  • the Earth Dreamer PrC, which continues the strong earth theme of the character and is better than simply being a sorcerer, though it doesn't advance the "gish" characteristics that are seemingly desired.

You're also going to want to embrace the Abjurant Champion.

The following build (with reference to here and here and the gish handbook ) presumes fractional BAB. I'm also not going down the jade phoenix mage path, because it's not very dwarfy (and doesn't have an "earth dwarf" theme the way runesmith does. It is, however, better if you're building for it.)

KRyan notes that the Runesmith works best with the Wizard, due to it needing to prepare spells. The core of this suggested build, therefore, will be the abjurant champion. (If the character in question is interested in playing a wizard, look at the edit history of this answer for something that fits thematically.)

Assuming Fractional BAB

Dwarven Battle Sorcerer 4/Crusader 1/Jade Phoenix Mage 1/Abjurant Champion 5/Jade Phoenix Mage +X

A Con Sorcerer fits poorly here, but this is a fairly solid gish build nonetheless.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, runesmith makes a sorcerer have the worst of both worlds: limited spells known, but has to prepare spells ahead of time (Rune Magic requires preparation). This character desperately wants to be a wizard, not a sorcerer. Wizards would get at least one, and probably two, relevant bonus feats, and work better with runesmith. Also, warblades only get medium armor; you need crusader for heavy. (Also, your Class Name/# format is atypical and kind of confusing; usually it’s just Class #/Other-Class # etc.) \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Feb 22 '15 at 3:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Brian Ballsun-Stanton I showed the player this answer. Although she absolutely adores it from a "fluff" perspective, she thinks she will have more "pew pew" with KRyan's suggestions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Feb 23 '15 at 7:32

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