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How do I make counterspelling more efficient for a 3.5 Warlock? I've looked over a few caster builds for counterspelling; however not much seems useful/useable for a Warlock.

We are jumping into the game at level 12. There is no multiclass XP penalty; however, there is a 3 class cap imposed on Multiclassing. Also there will more than likely be no LA buyoff; therefore races and templates with even just a +1 LA would be a tough hit. Most published material is okay (including third party, 3.0, Pathfinder, Dragon Mag, etc). Homebrew would even be okay with the DM, but I would prefer to stay away from homebrew personally.

I am going a full Charisma build focusing on social skills and battlefield control. I also plan on taking a 1 lvl dip in the Mindbender PrC to get telepathy and Mindsight access to help us get the drop on most opponents before the battle even begins.

I'll be taking one of the dispelling lesser invocations (more than likely Voracious Dispelling). Having an at will Dispel Magic is great, but I am not sure how to maximize the success chance -- it has a cap of +10 to add to the roll (later on +20 the Caster's Lament invocation). I want to make sure my CL is at least as high as the cap.

Is there any other way to improve the success rate beyond that? Is there anything that would let me take a 10 on a dispel check, or a +X bonus on dispel checks?

It seems like the only metamagic imitating feat that has any real effect on the dispelling invocations would be Quicken SLA; however casting them as a swift or free action 3 times/day doesn't seem worth the feat to me.

The only real bonus that I have found for a Warlock to take for counterspelling (besides just having a plethora of scrolls on hand) is to dip in Cleric or Ur-Priest, take Practiced Spellcaster, and then take Divine Defiance. This grants a way to counterspell as an immediate action during my opponent's turn, to try to prevent anything that would be an instantaneous effect, especially to counter an opponent's Dispel Magic spell.

The only problem with the Divine Defiant route is, that without going an Eldritch Disciple build, that's a pretty big hit to my Warlock CL. And while it may be easy enough to raise my effective CL, any hit that slows my Invocations Known progression is HUGE. If there is another route to gain immediate action counterspelling that would be great.

If push comes to shove, I can homebrew a feat or two (something like "Instantaneous Spell-like ability" that improves Quicken SLA to an immediate action), but I only want to use that as a last resort. Another option for this particular situation might be just to convince my DM to let my casting go off of the Pathfinder Spell Duel rules.

I just found a Pathfinder feat called Dispel Mastery which I will take.

TL:DR-

  1. How to get bonuses to Dispel Magic and Greater Dispel Magic?

  2. How to use my dispelling invocations as an immediate action?

  3. Besides carrying level 9 scrolls from all 8 schools and taking Improved Counterspell, what are other ways for my Warlock to counterspell effectively?

  4. Is there a way to cast scrolls as an immediate action(Such as a feat that would let you do it on scrolls that were made quickened)?

    -Just about any published material is okay.
    -Homebrew will only be considered as a last resort option.
    -Races/Templates are fine, but no LA buyoff
    -3 Class max if multiclassing.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, I just got the "ready an action" part of spellcasting. I think my problem with spellcasters (besides my lack of experience with playing one) is that I'm programmed to think of actions happening like "the stack" in MTG. So now I understand, that having an immediate Dispel Magic isn't necessary as long as I ready to counterspell a specific target at the end of each of my turns... The rest of my questions still stand though...Ways to improve my Dispel check, other counterspelling methods I am not aware about, etc, etc. Can I cast a spell from a scroll as my "readied counterspell action"? \$\endgroup\$ – RandyH Dec 29 '15 at 15:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow. What kind of cash do you have to throw at this problem? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 29 '15 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you willing to toss items at your Dispel checks? \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Dec 29 '15 at 15:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to be clear: You must take a standard action to take the ready action. Taking the ready action is not something you can do in addition to your normal turn. In other words, without a nonstandard way of counterspelling, you'll be standing around a lot of the time, waiting for a dude to cast a spell instead of attacking, and attacking is usually more valuable. (For example, if you blast the caster instead, he could just die; then you don't need to counterspell.) No condescension intended. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 29 '15 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am not really sure how much starting cash I will have available. However this is only a two man party, so my DM is allowing Leadership, which I am all but sure I am taking (we really need a meatshield)...So theoretically, I can just say that all my followers from level 6 and on are geared towards crafting...more so as source of income rather than PC usable gear (such as "sweatshop" leadership abuse builds). Therefore I could have some money to throw around if I need to spend some dough on gear for this...as long as it seems reasonable of what my character could accomplish by level 12. \$\endgroup\$ – RandyH Dec 29 '15 at 15:46
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A single-level dip in cleric can get you three things: the Inquisition domain with its +4 to dispel checks, Turn Undead that can power Divine Defiance, and the ability to activate a prayer bead of karma for a straight +4 bonus to CL.

Ur-priest does get you the last two things, but it’s difficult to enter and you need two levels instead of just one to get Rebuke Undead from it.

Anyway, Divine Defiance is a feat in Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells, and it lets you burn a Turn Undead usage to attempt a counterspell as an immediate action. Obviously valuable.

In general, the cloistered cleric variant is a great 1st level to take for a lot of people: you get 4×(6+Int) skills, much better than you would as a warlock, you get all of the above, another domain, Knowledge Devotion from Complete Champion, and you get identify as a 1st-level divine spell, i.e. you don’t need the arcane material component for it. The Undeath domain can get you Extra Turning if you want it, or you can use the other domain to get all manner of excellent things. Check out the Dipping Cleric Handbook for more ideas.

Divine Defiance requires “divine caster level 3rd,” which warlock doesn’t qualify for. The solution to that is Practiced Spellcaster (cleric) from Complete Mage; that will get your cleric caster level (but not any other aspect of cleric spellcasting) up to 5th to meet the requirement. You will also most likely want Practiced Spellcaster (warlock) to get back the CL lost when dipping cleric, as that would otherwise hurt your dispel checks.

The eldritch disciple prestige class from Complete Mage could progress your cleric spellcasting along with your warlock invocations, but it’s not that great and it would require you to take another two levels of cleric to get the 2nd-level divine spells it requires. Not worth it. Shenanigans can get you in without those levels of cleric, and that might be worth it, but if you want to go that route I recommend just asking your DM to adjust the class’s requirements to begin with, rather than get into shenanigans. For example, eldritch disciple expects a Cleric 3/Warlock 1 entry, and then at 1st level gives you invocations only (so you are effectively a Cleric 3/Warlock 2 at 5th level) and from then on progresses both. Maybe your DM would be willing to flip it, allowing you to enter as a Cleric 1/Warlock 3 and then progressing spells only at 1st (so you are effectively Cleric 2/Warlock 3).

The other prestige class worth mentioning for any warlock is chameleon from Races of Destiny. The second-level bonus feat can be changed every day, which means it can be any invocation you need that day (by making it Extra Invocation), or if you get far enough, an Item Creation feat to go with your Imbue Item class feature. This makes Cloistered Cleric 1/Warlock 9/Chameleon 2 a pretty strong build for you, and when you hit Cleric 1/Warlock 12/Chameleon 2 at 15th, you’ll be exceptionally versatile.


I will mention, however, that I have done a counterspelling warlock quite similar to the one I describe above, and while it works more or less, it’s pretty boring. If you are really interested in a high-power spin on the idea of ruining other casters’ day, what you really want is a Black Tactica build: use the war weaver prestige class to buff all of your allies as a move action at the start of combat, and then spend your actions in combat readying to target anyone who starts casting a spell. You don’t ready a counterspell, however: you ready the most reliable single-target nuke you have. In addition to hitting the spelcaster hard, which is painful, this also forces a Concentration check with DC 10 + the damage dealt. It’s trivial to pump the damage well beyond what anyone can hope to hit with the skill check, which means they will lose the spell.

This is a very high-power build that may actually make your game less fun, as your enemies start using similar tactics and combat becomes something of a deadlock, everyone readying nukes against the others, and whoever dares to move first still not getting anything done.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm surprised there's no suggestion to just not go the counterspelling route. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 29 '15 at 19:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan By the standards of the warlock class, counterspelling is something they’re fairly decent at. That said, yes: I have played a warlock counterspeller, and found it very boring and disappointing. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 29 '15 at 19:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ In your description of the Cloistered Cleric you say "another domain, Knowledge Devotion", which can be read as getting both a domain and the feat, whereas my understanding was that you got the Knowledge Domain as a bonus domain and could use a feat to get Knowledge Devotion instead. Could you clarify? \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Dec 30 '15 at 7:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. Per Complete Champion, clerics can trade domains for corresponding devotions. Cloistered clerics get the Knowledge domain for free, which they can trade for Knowledge Devotion. This is in addition to the two domains the cleric would usually get. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 30 '15 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: Could you please the specify it in your answer? As it is, it reads like the Cloistered Cleric gets a bonus domain AND the feat, whereas it gets the Knowledge Domain (and no other) which it can trade for Knowledge Devotion by taking the feat. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Dec 30 '15 at 16:28
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As far as buffing your dispel checks, these might help:

Elven Spell Lore Feat (PHB2): +2 on caster level checks when you cast dispel magic/greater dispel magic. Also other stuff not related to dispel magic. Feat requires you to be an elf of have high (17) int as well as having 12 ranks in knowledge arcana. Although your DM might be willing to change it to "(Insert your race here) spell lore" to make the feat a bit easier for you to take.

Soultouched Spell Casting Feat (Magic of Incarnum): Invest essentia for an insight bonus on dispel checks and checks to overcome spell resistance. Taking the feat also gives you one point of essentia to invest. Requires 13 Con.

Edit: Also, maybe look into Dampen spell feat, also found in PHB2. While strictly speaking its not counterspelling, and I'm not sure wording wise if you can expend spells from items to power the feat, it grants you the ability to, well, dampen enemy's spells as an immediate action if you can identify them. Might need some more doing to get this one to work, or maybe a flexible DM, but I think it might thematically fit your character very well and gives you the immediate action you are looking for without readying an action, even if it isn't a full counter of a spell.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Strictly speaking, warlocks don’t cast dispel magic or greater dispel magic, they cast invocations that have similar effects. I assume most DMs would have no problem with this, but it would be worth mentioning in the answer that you should ask. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 29 '15 at 19:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nuds. Thanks for the info. I could see the Soultouched Spellcasting feat being pretty strong on a Hellfire Warlock with a 2 lvl dip of Incarnate. The requirements for Elven Spell Lore are no problem actually. We already did a pre-roll for stats, and I rolled REALLY well. So Ill be starting with 18 Int for skill point investment. The only problem I have with this feat, is that I read "+2 bonus on your caster level check" still being limited by the +10/+20 max for the dispel check, and I have a feeling my DM will read it the same way. \$\endgroup\$ – RandyH Dec 31 '15 at 9:25

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