For a game I'm playing I'm going to have a really massive strength score (and good scores in everything but Con, because undead) so I was wondering how I could really use this massive strength score. I'm looking at quite possibly starting the game with a 29 strength at level 5 (gestalt).

Race wise I'm a Vampire Shalarin, which means scores of +10 str, +8 dex, +2 int, +2 wis, +4 cha. Classes I'm taking thus far are Track A: Paladin of Tyrannny 5 (with Underdark Knight ACF) Track B: Moonwarded Ranger2/Swordsage2

I have one class level left to spend, and feat wise I'm looking at taking Serenity so far as a definite. I've considered filling that last level with Fighter so I can get a bonus combat feat, or a psionic class to gain Speed of Thought when I have a spare feat. Other ideas for what to actually advance into past level 5 would be helpful as well.

Primary focus right now is maximizing what I can get from Strength though, all other information provided for context or in case someone has an idea that synergizes well with said info. I have not assigned my point buy for stats yet either, but I have 34pt point buy allotment. Left this open for now for flexibility, once I am decided on the last class level and where my feats will be going I'm going to be assigning those.

I guess Paladin of Tyranny is probably the important piece here, that was the predominant suggestion and the route I decided to go with on this. The Ranger/Swordsage stuff are in there for Wis to AC stuff. The idea I guess right now is an unarmored/lightly armored beast of a dark Knight/Paladin type of character.

Also, the DM houseruled that the Shalarin gets a 20ft base land speed, so increasing that would be handy (hence the Underdark Knight ACF). Reasoning is that Shalarin doesn't have a land speed due to being aquatic, but it has feet. After being turned it can walk on land (doesn't need to breathe underwater anymore), it's just not used to it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So I’m getting, as inflexible constraints, 1. great Strength put to great use, 2. dark knight, religious connotations, 3. Wisdom as secondary ability score, 4. lightly armored. Particularly on the latter, two how much are those inflexible? It seems like you want Wisdom because it lets you get more AC in light armor and you want light armor because it lets you get Wisdom to AC. Are either or both of Wisdom and lightly-armored mandatory? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 16:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not really, I mean they're part of what I wanted but if there's a much better option I'm likely to take it. As it is a decent Wisdom with this setup will add a good bonus to all my saves, all my paladin abilities, and twice to my armor class. Light armor also lets me benefit from the fact that my Dex will likely be very high as well thanks to the +8 racial bonus. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dorian
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 16:57

5 Answers 5


Capitalizing on Big Strength.

Sir Casts-a-lot:

Be an Illumian so you can us your sigils/word of power and gain bonus spells based off of strength. (Races of Destiny)

Commentary: This would reduce your strength score, but would set you up on a more utility path for more strength gains.

McHuge Damage in a Charging Bun:

Power Attack: If you attack with a two-handed weapon, or with a one-handed weapon wielded in two hands, instead add twice the number subtracted from your attack rolls. (Player's Handbook I - Feat)

Leap Attack: If you use this tactic with a two-handed weapon, you instead triple the extra damage from Power Attack. (Complete Adventurer - Feat)

Devastating Smite: Double the extra damage dealt by your next smite attack. (Forge of War - Spell)

Charging Smite: If along a charge attack you also smite evil, you deal an extra 2 damage per paladin level (that's 3 points per paladin bonus with the normal damage boost from smite evil). (Player's Handbook II - Alternative Class Feature)

Shocktrooper: [Heedless Charge] ...you can assign any portion of the attack roll penalty from Power Attack to your Armor Class instead, up to a maximum equal to your base attack bonus. (Complete Warrior - Feat)

Commentary: Above is feat intensive, but the damage output will have wizards scratching their head.

More Commentary: This is also very viable with Dungeoncrasher Fighter - already mentioned. If you do go the fighter route, be sure to get Zhentarim Soldier levels since you are already 'evil.'

Disgusting Muscles

Three Mountains: ...it must make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 your character level + your Str modifier) or be nauseated by the pain for 1 round. (Complete Warrior - Feat)

Commentary: This maneuver is feat intensive, and weapon specific, but nauseated can be a wonderful thing.


One Level Dips

  1. Fist of the Forest. With Great Fortitude and Power Attack (Improved Unarmed Strike is probably covered if you're an Unarmed Swordsage, and you should be) you too can never sleep inside a building ever again! This class is pretty good if you can add cha or something to AC instead of con ( I think undead have a rule about that somewhere), as it increases unarmed strike damage considerably, which with judicious buffing, pays serious dividends (have your party wizard cast Greater Mighty Wallop on you).

  2. Sorcerer. A single level of sorkerer sets you up to enter Abjurant Champion with your next level. Requires a crappy feat (Combat Casting) but it gives you full casting progression, swift action Abjurations (including a powered-up shield and dispel magic), boosted abjurations, full bab, good saves, and is generally ridiculous and amazing.

  3. Dungeoncrasher Fighter. At 2nd level, you get the 'you bullrushed someone into a wall, they take 4d6+2xSTR mod' thing. Which is fun, if you have Shock Trooper already and are bullrushing people into each other for Domino Rush. With Improved Trip, Shocktrooper, and Dungeoncrashing, you bounce a guy through his friend, tripping them both, getting to hit them both for free, and then into a wall (movement doesn't stop just because they both tripped, when it's a bullrush), doing your dungeoncrashing damage. It's not an ubercharge, but it's far more amusing and 'RRRRR STRENGTH' style stuff.

  4. Barbarian. With Spirit Lion totem, you get pounce. Vamp gives you natural attack (bite), so you can sword + natural attack on the charge. And, you get rage, which you should trade in for Whirling Frenzy for another attack, and take the Extra Rage feat so you can rage more than once per day.

It's worth noting that you don't need to go Serenity to do well. Divine Shield and Divine Might alone make cha worthwhile, assuming you're picking it up to AC once via Ascetic Mage + Unarmed Swordsage. Plus, the freed up levels from not taking ranger can be used to take sorc 1/Dungeoncrasher 2, or similar. A permanencied Enlarge Person would be nice, to qualify for Knockback and dungeoncrashing, but you're an Undead and therefore ineligible for the 'Person' line of spells.

As you're melee, you definitely need to be spending your feats on a melee combo. Tripping or dungeoncrash-enabled bullrushing are both good choices. Ubercharging is boring. Just straight up power attack and hurting people isn't really a bad choice. There's a good set listed here, in Person_Man's guide to melee combos.

Of specific interest to you if you don't go unarmed is the Wightblade feat, which allows undead to use their blah-draining attacks through a wielded weapon instead of just via touch or whatever.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Considering the limited number of levels, I’d think this makes a good case for Suel arcanamach. Also, I can’t upvote a suggestion of Fist of the Forest here: undead do not automatically get Cha-instead-of-Con for things, and there are easier ways to get Cha-to-AC than setting two feats on fire anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 19:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan - It's cheaper than a level in battledancer. Levels are more expensive than feats, generally, feats just get all the hype. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 22:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Except you also have to spend levels on fist of the forest itself. It’s not as if the other class features of the fist are all that impressive. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 3:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan - Given his build, unarmed damage has a lot of potential uses for him, both in and outside of grapples. I'd modify the answer to say more clearly 'don't take it if you don't get to add something to AC that isn't con', but, eh. I thought it was clear in the first place. Could also talk more about how swordsage is probably more worth it than he thinks for the shadow hand utility stuff, but it's a bit late now. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 4:55

In the book 3rd-party book Bastards & Bloodlines: A Guidebook to Half-Breeds, there's a feat called Old Blood. It allows you to qualify for race specific feats and prestige classes as a member of any race. Get this and choose Goliath (Races of Stone), then take Barbarian and choose the Goliath racial substitution level for level 1, 'Mountain Rage'(Races of Stone). This will allow you to grow to Large size while raging.

Choose a weapon with reach and Combat Reflexes as another feat and you'll start on a path to becoming a battlefield control specialist. Combined with a character with a high strength, you'll be knocking the blocks off of people from several feet away whenever they try to move. Taking Monkey Grip as another feat (Complete warrior) will allow you to take further advantage of a higher strength and give you access to weapons with even larger reach.

Cleave (and it's feat chain) and Power Attack are always good choices for a power hitter character, allowing you to continuously drop foes and keep attacking with extra damage based on your strength modifier. If you add Spring Attack (Dodge & Mobility are prereqs) to Combat Reflexes and the Cleave feat chain, you'll start to lockdown all movement on the battlefield.


If you're wanting to utilize large strength scores I'd recommend the following:

  • You're going to want to use a huge weapon, the larger the better. Usage of Monkey Grip can capitalize on a weapon larger than normal to get more damage dice. Use it in 2 hands for the 1.5x strength bonus to damage. A way to get Enlarge person and an even larger weapon will get you more damage dice and a Size Bonus to Strength.
  • Get Power attack and Leap Attack. Power attack increases your damage by +2 for every -1 penalty you take to your attack if you're using a two-handed weapon. Leap attack increases this damage by 100% if you can jump 10 feet during your move to the target you're attacking. At your level, you can take a penalty equal to your BAB. Double that and then triple to get the damage bonus you'd get from these two feats if you're using a two-hander.
  • Barbarian Dip- If you really want to level out your speed you can take a level in Barbarian to get Fast Movement to balance out your speed. This also gives you access to Rage which gets you a bonus to Strength to bump you up to a 33 strength.
  • Cleric Dip- A Single-level Cleric Dip early on can boost up your saves, get you two domain powers and spells per day, among other things. If you're going to go full on melee-death, you can get the Strength domain and take the Strength devotion feat to bypass hardness for a minute every day AND it gives you a slam attack. Other good domains include the Luck Domain that lets you reroll one bad roll per day, Celerity, which increases your speed in light armor if you're interested in leveling out your speed without dipping Barbarian or getting access to Haste, or the Hunger Domain, which gets you a bite attack. Pride lets you reroll a save if you roll a one on it. Travel devotion gets you the ability to move your speed as a swift action, the Domain power isn't half bad either.

1. magic items: there are some magic items which can incrediebly improve your strength in different ways. two years ago, i was playing a level 4 barbarian half orc. i had 20 score on strength, from the bonus 22, plus the magic item 26, and i also had rage. though, magic items are very expensive, so you might think twice why do you need the strength (for example damage, attack rolls or whatever you need), and take specific items that costs less.

2. feats: feats are able to add to specific things, though they are usefull. for damage, i prefer vital strike because you roll twice the damage roll. right now i am playing an alchemist level 10 - dealing 10d6 instead of 5d6 is extremely good. for lower levels or higher, you might want to take power attack, as it lowers the chance to hit, though it increase your damage.


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