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Author Topic: Warmages: Play them the right way or not at all  (Read 98687 times)
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Barbary Macaque at the Rock of Gibraltar
Posts: 218

« on: November 21, 2008, 06:35:21 PM »

The Warmage

How to make lemonade

A step by step guide to playing a successful Warmage

    • Step 1:  Ignore the picture above
    • Step 2:  Read this guide

    WARNING:  This represents my opinion only.  I reserve the right to be wrong, for you to disagree with me and accept as much mocking as you want to send my way.[/list]
    « Last Edit: November 21, 2008, 09:09:56 PM by ChristopherGroves » Logged
    Barbary Macaque at the Rock of Gibraltar
    Posts: 218

    « Reply #1 on: November 21, 2008, 06:35:43 PM »

    Key to Success

    The key to playing a Warmage is optimizing your choices.  You can cast any spell you know without preparation ahead.  Now, you might say that the Beguiler and Dread Necro have the same mechanic and they are stronger classess ... and you'd be correct.  You might also say the Beguiler and Dread Necro have better spell lists ... and you'd also be right.  This isn't a handbook about that though, this is a handbook about the Warmage.

    Playing a warmage is different and really comes down to a few basic points:

    • Know your strengths and weaknesses
    • Have an understanding of your role and accept it
    • Optimize your flexibility

    The fact you CAN EASILY walk away from the class and PrC out is what makes you different than the Beguiler and the Necromancer.  Those guys would be giving something up; you're not.  Embrace your freedom. 

    I can't stress this enough ... your strength at mid- upper-levels is NOT BLASTING.  It is your ability to Swiss-army-knife the right spell out of your massive list.  Because your class features aren't awesome, you're not tied to a specific theme or set of spells.  If you find you want to snipe or blast a sorcerer does this MUCH BETTER.  The Beguilers are messing with minds and the Dread Necros are raising their fetish armies.  They COULD be the Swiss Army Knives themselves (particularly the Dread Necromancers) ... but they are leaving behind key class features (Dread Necro 8 is pretty solid), so they don't.

    Only at low-levels are you artillery or a rifleman; at upper levels you are Q branch.  Embrace it.  The wizards can try to dictate the battlefield but when the logistical supply gets wonky and they start to freak you need to have the right tool at your disposal.  Since you can cast any spell you know at any time, you need to maximize this.  You can't think of yourself as an evoker either; to do so is to impose a limit that isn't there.  Don't limit yourself thematically like the Beguilers and Dreadies.  The wizards can control the battlefield.  You need to be there, standing by, ready to pull out the magnetic watch or exploding pen in the right moment.

    That really is it right there.  Any character can be brutally efficient.  Any character can sell out their class features, feats, etc. for some abilities.  With most of them, they are giving something up.  You aren't ... so what are you waiting for?   Why play nice?  That's someone else's game.  You are the unethical mercenary, act like it.

    Play to win.

    The real differences between Beguilers, Dread Necromancers and Warmages

    First, the similarities:

    • Cast any spell they "know" at any point in time.
    • Start with a thematically-defined spell list ... Warmage = Evoker, Beguiler = Enchanter/Illusionist, Necro=Necro
    • Some set of class features that may or may not be useful but are thematic


    • INT based caster
    • Pretty solid class features (you can play a good Beguiler 20)
    • Obvious synergy into UM with Wizard

    Most serious Beguilers I've seen run either mostly pure Beguiler (with dips here and there) or Ultimate Magus (and with good reason).  It's good and makes sense.

    Dread Necromancer

    • CHA based caster
    • Very solid, thematic class features (you can play a Dread Necro 20 ... but you really want at least Dread Necro 8 )
    • Shares the CHA synergy, but the Dread Necro achieves its flexibility through its minions and summons

    If you're playing a Dread Necro, you care about undead.  Beyond the obvious social problems with this, you're not likely to want to divert lots of times to non-undead PrCs ... you've limited yourself thematically.


    • CHA based, some INT use at lower levels
    • Crappy class features that you shouldn't bother continuing (like Sorcerer 6+)
    • Unless you're playing a Sanctified One (Kord) where all your fire is non-resistable and you're a holy glass cannon, you really need options

    That's actually why I like the Warmage ... I like options on the fly.  The Warmage is an ideal class for expanding your spell list and giving yourself those options on the fly.  If you do it right, you can be VERY adaptable ... just don't get stuck on playing Warmage 1-20.  The Dread Necro is GOOD at undead.  The Beguiler is GOOD at enchantments.  You are passingly ok at evocation, but have nothing to lose by diversifying.

    Are you sensing the theme here yet?
    « Last Edit: November 21, 2008, 09:12:20 PM by ChristopherGroves » Logged
    Barbary Macaque at the Rock of Gibraltar
    Posts: 218

    « Reply #2 on: November 21, 2008, 06:36:00 PM »

    Versatility and Options

    In order to milk the most out of your Warmage, you need to recognize this as your strength and play to it.

    • Optimize the MECHANICS of the class, not its theme or stylistic elements

    Notes on Expanding a Spell List

    If you add a domain to a spontaneous caster, it's unclear as to whether or not you're limited to 1/day of that spell (I'm talking through a PrC, not Arcane Disciple which has its own limits).  Ask your DM. Complete Divine doesn't mention the Warmage specifically, but it does imply that a spontaneous caster, once they know the spell, can cast it without restriction.

    If this is your ruling, adding domains = goodness.

    If you want other ways to expand your spell list, check here:  Arcane Disciple (if you have hte WIS to spare), Items (Spellwurm, Drake Helm, Ring of Theurgy, Runestaff, yada yada), etc.  All goodness.


    Reserve Feats

    Other options to provide versatility are reserve feats (which you can work as much as you want as long as you have spells ... and you ALWAYS have spells).  Blasty ones are good for when you're bored or need to toast marshmallows, the others are probably better.  Pick ones that are multi-purpose.  Summon Elemental, Minor Shapeshift, Magic Sensitive, Borne Aloft (unless you go with Air Devotion instead), Dimensional Jaunt, etc.

    Draconic Feats

    Draconic feats get special mention.  You may need to snag Dragontouched prior to taking some of the better ones, but a great many of them are quite useful to the Warmage who, like a sorcerer, has restricted options.  Draconic Arcane Grace gets you a bonus to your saves after you cast an arcane spell, Draconic Vigor gets you some HP, Draconic Legacy can expand your spell list, and [whatever] Dragon Heritage (the set from Dragon Magic) can let you convert spells into a specific SLA.  Options, and many of them are passive.  The saves (if they have them) are CHA based and if you're in a mid- or high-level game your CHA will be high, so goodness.


    Everyone likes actions.  If you're not optimzing your actions you are severely limited yourself ... and this goes for all characters.  Everyone can benefit from extra actions.  This is no surprise.  HOWEVER, not everyone can completely whore themselves out to action abuse.  Wizards, etc. all have other things they want to optimize.  You, however, aren't limited by this preconceived notion.  Remember the only thing you're carrying around is about five levels of d6 hit dice, CHA based spontaneous casting and the fact you know every spell on your list and can drop it at a moment's notice.  Unlike other classes, you've kinda got feats to burn.  A dip into something like Wyrm Wizard to snag one of the celerities and some daze immunity is something only some sorcerer builds are likely to seriously consider. 


    Your strength is really going to be in your ability to have the right solution to the problem (except in a lower level game, in which case you're just zapping people in the face).  In either case, you don't get a way to do metamagic quickly (unlike Sorcerers).  Sudden metamagic feats are really not worth it in my opinion, just not enough uses out of them on a given day.

    If you can get free metamagic, great.  If not I honestly I think you're in better shape to avoid most of it.  Otherwise you're burning slots on Arcane Preparation (which you might be doing anyway). If you want to hyper-focus on a spell or spells, Sorcerer is a better choice.  Ray zappers, Snowcasters, etc. can be done with a Warmage, but I think Sorcerers do them better. 

    Your best bet (unless you are specializing in something, which I don't really suggest) are the metamagics that are universally worthwhile.  Extend, Sculpt ... both solid.  If you're going to head to Rainbow Servant, either Quicken or Persist (so you can DMM it).


    Obtain Familiar, Spell-Linked Familiar ... increasing your actions through other means.  Familiars can be quite strong; they can be the little Swiss-army knife too ... you know, the one with the tweezers and toothpick and wee-little blades.

    (link to DM's familiar handbook)

    Versatile Spellcaster

    Check out that name.  Versatile.  Right there in the title, "versatile".  Take it, it's worth it ... you're optimizing your mechanical strengths.
    « Last Edit: November 23, 2008, 08:08:29 AM by ChristopherGroves » Logged
    Barbary Macaque at the Rock of Gibraltar
    Posts: 218

    « Reply #3 on: November 21, 2008, 06:36:13 PM »

    Builds and general build guidelines

    • First, know what level at which the game will occur.  We like 1-20 builds here but rarely games go that far.  Your optimization window in reality is smaller and you need to be aware of that.

    • Second, I've got some of the more referential builds outlined below ... but at the bottom I have a section on other combos and fillers.  You won't have many levels to play with but the few you do have should be planned for accordingly.

    All Levels (1-20)

    You're pretty well in for some really, really rough times ahead. 

    The simple fact is, Warmages do well enough if you can plan for a specific level block but poorly if you try to do too much. 

    Don't do this.  If you are going to do this, really think long and hard about your attribute selection, etc.  You might have to deal with some poor performance early before you get to the point in which your choices make sense.

    Low Level (under 5-6)

    If you know the game will be low-ish levels, you're in a pretty good spot.  You are a glass cannon, play like it.  You don't have much choice but to play like the picture at the top post.  Sorry.

    You will want your CHA to be somewhere near ... hmm ... 12-14.  That's it.  Put a safe bit in DEX and CON and the rest into INT.  If you know the game won't get past 4th, cap your CHA at 12.  If you know you can get an item, cap your CHA at 12.  In low level games, damage is goodness.  For a warmage, a cantrip can do decent, reliable damage what with Warmage's edge.  Use your crossbow, use your cantrips and play like an archer with limited arrows.  That's the best you can do.

    • RACE:  Something with an INT bonus.  You're all about the cantrip that does X+6 points of damage.

    • DEX, CON around 14-16 and CHA of 12 is a good baseline ... the rest into INT

    You might consider a multi-class dip into Scout or Rogue or Spellthief for the extra damage boost.  I'd not suggest this for a game reaching higher levels, but for lower levels you need all the help you can get and being a glass cannon isn't horrible.  As the game progresses towards 5-6 you're going to start to lag behind the warlock, and that is lame.

    [spoiler=Warmages Run the GenCon Delve]
    Incidentially and I'm sure no one really cares but the GenCon Delve (where you take low-level characters through a mix of challenges, etc.) was for a while completely dominated by Warmages (whole parties of them).  At these levels there aren't huge amounts of resistances, special defenses, etc.  It's all about laying out the damage and if you can do it at range, all the better.  I'm still surprised the Warlocks and DFAs didn't do as well, but I suspect the Warmage players simply realized their own specialized niche and didn't try to venture out of it while the others tried to be too creative.  I think one all Warmage party finished it in like 13 minutes.

    Mid Level (6-15 or so)

    This is the really a strange decision spot for Warmages, but you do have a few options that can peak in this range.  The truth is, Warmage is a 5 or 6 level class.  From then on out you're going to primarily stick to PrCs to advance your casting with a set of more useful abilities.  And you're pretty much only picking things that really help expand your spell list.

    WIS can be low because you're PrCing mostly high-Will classes.  INT should only be high enough for the skills you need to qualify; if you're saving it high for Warmage's Edge you've fallen into an Ackbar.  DEX and CON are always good.  If you started at 1st you're going to have to fight that desire to pump INT high for that Warmage's Edge.  DO NOT DO THIS.

    • RACE:  Something with an CHA bonus.  Pretend Warmage Edge does not exist.

    • DEX, CON around 14-16 and enough INT to qualify for PrCs (12?) is a good baseline ... the rest into CHA

    There are three basic builds I'd recommend for people wanting to play a Warmage through this set of levels.


    Yeah, seriously.  Bards.  Prestige Bard, specifically.  Before you head down this path, ask your DM for a ruling on the section entitled "Unique Spells".  You should gain access to the spells that are ONLY Bard spells at a minimum.  If you get more than that, gravy. 

    • NOTE:  You need to snag perform as a class skill somehow; thankfully there are a number of ways to do that via a feat (apprentice from DMG II is quite popular).

    Build here is this:

    Warmage 1        armored mage (light)
    Warmage 2   
    Warmage 3        eclectic learning - silent portal (0 to 1st) - illusion
    Warmage 4   
    Warmage 5   
    Warmage 6        eclectic learning - touch of idiocy (enchantment)
    Prestige Bard 1  bardic music, inspire courage, bardic knowledge

    You'll need to take Melodic Casting as a feat.  You lose a caster level, but you just gained bardic music and bard spells.  That's a heck of a lot of options.  From here you can do things like pick up Extra Music, then head to Lyric Thaumaturge if you want to throw around some extra damage on your sonic spells.  You can use Bardic Music to power metamagic.  Born of Three Thunders is also thematic (just make sure you've got an option for ignoring the dazed condition ... Mark of the Dauntless, something).

    I don't recommend staying Prestige Bard past 2nd because you lose one caster level at 1st and another at 3rd for marginal gain.  Lyric Thaumaturge, Virtuoso are better choices. 

    Lyric Thaumaturge has some very specific benefits to it that bear mentioning:
    • It advances bardic music - something you can use to do metamagic, etc.
    • Melodic Casting (required feat) lets you use perform instead of concentration (it's CHA based)
    • It sets up a natural Born of Three Thunders / anti-dazing cycle
    • Lyric Thaumaturge lets you add to your spells known AND spell slots

    So that becomes:


    Noticed a problem with the build; re-checking some pre-reqs

    But other classes can do that!
    • Yeah, but they can do other things.  This is something a Beguiler or Dread Necro *may* consider, but you're in a better spot.  Beguilers want to maximize their INT synergy (perform is CHA based) and Dread Necros don't really synergize as well with bards as their undead don't handle morale bonuses so much.
    • The classes that don't know their entire list can do this too, but only Sorcerer is a real consideration.  They'd still have to learn the Bard spells though, so you get way more out of it.

    Born of Three Thunders + Celerity + Immune to Daze makes for a powerful combo if you can squeeze it in (may need flaws to do this though).

    Lyric Thaumaturge adds 6 spells and some additional slots on top of the bard spells you've acquired.


    Sand Shaper, from Sandstorm.  It takes one feat to enter, expands your spell list pretty significantly and gives you some free metamagic options.  You also get some funky healing and regeneration capabilities and the dust shapes you can make let you perform some utility functions (scouting, guarding, flanking, etc).  Lose two caster levels, and that's pretty harsh but free raise dead, regenerate, metamagic and an expanded spell list is mighty handy.

    • NOTE:  One feat to get in, two skills.  You'll want an INT of 12 or be human w/ 10 at a minimum to get in.

    The build order on this is simply Warmage 5 / Sandshaper 10 with a possible dip back to pick up the 6th level of Warmage at some point to cherry-pick a higher level advanced or eclectic learning option.  In general you take either 1 or 10 levels of Sand Shaper.

    A full build looks like this
    1 Warmage 1   armored mage (light), warmage edge   Touchstone (city of the dead)
     2 Warmage 2      
     3 Warmage 3   eclectic learning - 0   
     4 Warmage 4      
     5 Warmage 5      
     6 Sand Shaper 1   desert insight, dust magic, sand shape   
     7 Sand Shaper 2   sandform   
     8 Sand Shaper 3   sand stride   
     9 Sand Shaper 4   inmproved sand shape   
    10 Sand Shaper 5   improved dust magic 3/day   
    11 Sand Shaper 6      
    12 Sand Shaper 7   desert slumber, improved dust magic 4/day   
    13 Sand Shaper 8      
    14 Sand Shaper 9   greater dust magic 5/day   
    15 Sand Shaper 10   desert shroud   

    Lots of options on feats.  Reserve, familiar, whatever.  This might be a good progression to work in a series of Draconic feats, etc.  You also have all the Summon Desert Ally chain, so perhaps the elemental reserve feat.  Practiced Spellcaster? 

    Since you are two caster levels down, you're not advised to lose any more progression if you're headed for epic. 

    Warmage of the Arcane Military Order[/size]
    Requires Arcane Preparation in addition to Cooperative spell, but this is a fairly mundane and common way of expanding your options.  I personally don't like it because it only gives you a limited amount at a time ... but for what it is worth you can cherry pick what you want.

    The build order here is Warmage 5 / Mage of the Arcane Order 4 or 7 (depending on how high the game goes)

    At 4th you can "borrow" up to 6th level spells, and that should be plenty for a while.  If the game is going to go higher, you might consider MotAO 7 to be able to snag 7-9th levels.  You get some free metamagic out of the deal and you've already got arcane preparation so you can do a bit of pre-work and planning.

    Again, the main advantage is you can pretty much cast any Wiz/Sorc spell you need.  The disadvantage is that it takes time (a full round to retrieve, and then you can cast it the next round) and you're limited in how many you can snag a day.  In my experience that kind of down time in the midst of combat is trouble ... but you are quite powerful outside of combat.  One limitation many folks forget is that the spellpool only contains spells from the PHB (this is specific to the rules in Complete Arcane).  Sure, that's still Polymorph, whatever ... but it isn't quite as open ended as you'd think.

    • NOTE:  Since you have Arcane Preparation and haven't lost a spellcasting level yet, you might consider Wyrm Wizard as a finisher.  Expand your spell list, get some free metamagic, all good.

    Check out what a real Warmage looks like
    High Level (16+) ... Rainbow Warsnake

    Every character that starts as a warmage that is planning to go 16th level or higher should be a Rainbow Servant.  This will get you access to all Cleric spells ... not just PHB spells (like Mage of the Arcane Order does for Wiz/Sorc) ... but ALL cleric spells.  If they aren't on the Wiz/Sorc or Bard list, you also cast them as DIVINE SPELLS.  Nifty.  You're a single-classed dual caster.  Awesome. 

    The versatility of this is pretty key ... you can, at a moment's notice, cast any spell on your Warmage list, any spell from the Air, Law or Good domain or any Cleric spell.  With no preparation.  From any book.

    The build for this is Warmage 6 / Rainbow Servant 10

    It's that simple. 

    What to do after that ... that's the trick.  Well, not much of a trick.  Your next level is Sacred Exorcist.  Your 18th level feat is Divine Metamagic and somewhere along the way you took either Quicken Spell or Extend / Persist.  Because those cleric spells that are not Bard or Wiz/Sorc spells are DIVINE spells, and Divine Metamagic will work for them.  Divine Power, Visage of the Deity, whatever.  By the way, you have to be good to be Sacred Exorcist so your Rainbow Warsnake is either LG or NG.  Them's the breaks.

    At this point you have 3 levels to play with.  Check the combos section.  Here's a sample
    1   Warmage 1   armored mage (light), warmage edge   Feat what gets you K(religion) as a skill (educated, whatever)
    2   Warmage 2      
    3   Warmage 3   eclectic learning - 0   Skill Focus (knowledge religion)
    4   Warmage 4      
    5   Warmage 5      
    6   Divine Oracle 1   Oracle Domain   OPEN FEAT
    7   Rainbow Servant 1      
    8   Rainbow Servant 2      
    9   Rainbow Servant 3      OPEN FEAT
    10   Rainbow Servant 4      
    11   Rainbow Servant 5      
    12   Rainbow Servant 6      OPEN FEAT
    13   Rainbow Servant 7      
    14   Rainbow Servant 8      
    15   Rainbow Servant 9      Quicken Spell
    16   Rainbow Servant 10      
    17   Sacred Exorcist 1   Turn undead   
    18   Divine Oracle 2   prescient sense   DMM Quicken
    19   Contemplative 1   domain of your choice   
    20   Contemplative 2 or Seeker of the Misty Isle 1      

    PS:  I'd consider dropping Air for Air Devotion - it's a good feat.

    Rainbow Servant ... 10/10 or 6/10 casting?
    Note this hinges on the Rainbow Servant being 10/10 (which the FAQ and Sage begrudgingly think is correct by the rules, but against RAI).  If your DM hits this with the nerf bat, you've got some issues.  HOWEVER, still consider this if the class is 6/10 under the following conditions:
    • Your group is somewhat unoptimized and being a spell level down won't kill you.  It's one thing to be optimized, another to outshine everyone and at 16th level being able to snag whatever cleric spell you want at any time has the potential to be un-fun for others in the party.
    • If you're epic but starting higher than 20 ... you can make up the lost spell levels, etc. easily enough

    Prior to the FAQ and other updates, the Rainbow Servant deal was a hotly debated item.  Until then, if you played a Warmage and you wanted to not completely suck you played a Sand Shaper, MotAO or Prestige Bard.  People still laughed at you.

    « Last Edit: December 20, 2008, 01:26:16 PM by ChristopherGroves » Logged
    Barbary Macaque at the Rock of Gibraltar
    Posts: 218

    « Reply #4 on: November 21, 2008, 06:53:34 PM »

    Other Combos and Multi-classing Options

    In general, you're still looking for the same things:

    • Expanded Spell Lists
    • Free metamagic
    • Class abilities that are better than straight warmage (this is not difficult)

    Divine Oracle (1 or 2)

    Needs skill focus (religion) and a way to get that as a class skill if you want to enter early (like Educated or Knowledge Devotion).  You can go Warmage 5 / Divine Oracle 1 / Rainbow Servant / Divine Oracle +1 / Sacred Exorcist 1 and still nab Divine Metamagic at 18.  Yay us!  The second level of Divine Oracle is good for prescient sense ... and if you take Divine Oracle at 6 you can take Warmage 6 later and advanced/eclectic learn a higher level spell.

    Contemplative (1 or 2)

    Rainbow Warsnakes qualify because they can cast divine spells.  You get a domain.  Pick one like ... oh ... I don't know ... Time ... or Spell ... or Transmutation (Races of Eberron) something with some happy fancy spells.  Contemplative 2 nets you Slippery Mind, not bad to stay in it the extra level.

    Seeker of the Misty Isle 1

    Elf Rainbow Warsnakes can get in with only skill requirements and it advances casting + gives you the Travel domain.  Free action and nifty spells that don't have a lot of overlap on the clerical side.  Bonus.

    Paragnostic Apostle (various)

    Some good class features ... really this isn't a spectacular class but it gives you something useful at every level.  Look at it for every build and see if it fits.

    Church Inquisitor (1 or 2)

    Rainbow Warsnakes can cast zone of truth as a divine spell.  Yay for the Inquisition domain at first level!  A second level makes you immune to charms.

    Sovereign Speaker (as many as you want)

    You need a feat to get in, but Rainbow Warsnakes cast divine spells.  One domain per level can be added to your spell list. 

    Wild Mage 1 + Practiced Spellcaster

    Caster level hijinks.  Why not, you've got Holy Word.


    Yep, you qualify.  If you want something and don't need the spell progression, go for it.

    Mindbender 1 + Mindsight (feat)

    Use Warmage 6 to snag charm person or a feat (Eberron has a couple) that grant it as an SLA.  Sets you up for Mindsight, obviously.  This is a valid dip for just about any casting class ... downside is you can't do it with a good Rainbow Warsnake.  If for some reason you're not playing one of those (like, for instance, it is a mid-level game) this is a good option.

    Wyrm Wizard

    Requires Arcane Preparation.  A two level dip nets you a spell from any class (your choice) but loses a caster level.  Might be a good way to finish of a Warmage of the Arcane Order?


    A good class is a good class.


    You need some feats but, as mentioned, Rainbow Warsnakes can cast both arcane and divine spells.  If you go with Arcane Disciple and forsake Sacred Exorcist and DMM (which you probably shouldn't) you could get Supernatural Spell 1/day.  That's worth quite a bit right there being as it is basically a freebie.


    Expanded spell list, some nifty abilities.  Very good.


    Loses a caster level up front, adds some spells known and has free metamagic.  Changelings only.

    Making Damage Not Resistable

    Silver Pyromancer, Sanctified One of Kord (fire only), Paragnostic Apostle (with Manifest Ethos) ... all of these make elmental damage partially or completely unresistable.  If you're doing fire and you are lazy, Elemental Savant can auto-convert your spells on the fly to fire without delay ... useful since you can't metamagic quickly.  Piercing Evocation (feat from Complete Mage) can also make this work too.

    Celerity Abuse

    Other characters talk about it, you should do it because you're that kind of hard-core mercenary.  Dragonmark, Mark of the Dauntless + Wyrm Wizard 2.  Others might balk at the loss of caster level (you started one behind a wizard, this will make you two behind) and a sorcerer can do it better ... but for them they are trading something off likely some class features they want AND they probably don't have the flexibility you do. 

    If you do this, consider Born of Three Thunders as well for the daze synergy.

    Draconic Feats

    Other classes can do this too, but usually don't have the spare room.  What are you going to take?  Sudden Metamagic?  Dragontouched, Draconic Senses, Draconic Vigor and Draconic Legacy are good (and cherry pick some good spells with Legacy).  You'll need two others before Draconic Legacy, so see what fits.  Avoid things that do damage.  I like the [whatever] Dragon Heritage feats that let you slow, debuff saves, etc.

    Class Mixing Combos

    Anima Mage, Eldritch Theurge, Soulcaster, etc.  Always an option.  Note that if you're looking to do this as a capstone cast after a Rainbow Warsnake build, you have the divine options to choose from too.

    Versatile Spell + Heighten
    This combo works per the latest FAQ; it doesn't raise your caster level but at 4th you can cast 3rd level spells (heightened 2nd levels using 2 2nds to cast them) and if your DM allows get you into Rainbow Servant earlier. 

    Unseen Pointless Wonder
    I joke.  Well, maybe not.  If you're going to play a sniping type, I question the logic of playing a Warmage as opposed to a Warlock or a Sorcerer who can do far more with disintegrate and enervation.  If for some reason you want to do this anyway, this is how you do it.

    Scout or Rogue or Spellthief 1 / Warmage 4 / Unseen Seer or Daggerspell Mage

    Not very complex.  You can finish out with some combination of Daggerspell, Arcane Trickster, etc.  Unseen Seer gets you a few divination spells known.  Maybe Spellwarp Sniper.  You could also focus on blasting, using something like Incantatrix or War Mage (Dragon Lance) to amp damage. 

    You're still pretending to be a sorcerer or a warlock and you shouldn't.  Instead of being the Swiss Army Knife you're trying to be a one-trick pony.  Don't.  I'm mentioning this because if I don't the first comment will be about some combination of Warmage and Unseen Seer, Daggerspell Mage or Arcane Trickster. 
    « Last Edit: November 23, 2008, 07:57:28 AM by ChristopherGroves » Logged
    Hong Kong
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    « Reply #5 on: November 21, 2008, 08:28:36 PM »

    Too many people see warmages as strictly blasters but if you look at their spell list they do get some decent battlefield control and save-or-die spells.

    Another good PrC for the warmage is fiendblooded from Heroes of Horror if you can manage the knowledge (the planes) requirement. It gets you full CL progression for its first 9 levels, an extra spell known from the evocation, necromancy, enchantment, or any fire-based spell from any spell list every even level, minor stat boosts and elemental resistances, and if you have a familiar it gives it the fiendish template for free.
    Omen of Peace
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    Wise Madman

    « Reply #6 on: November 21, 2008, 08:49:13 PM »

    You should mention somewhere the small problem with Prestige Bard: you have to get Perform as a class skill somehow. With all sources open it's doable (Cosmopolitan, Aereni Focus, Skill Knowledge (?)...) but with a more restricted set it can be hard.

    Silanah heard their songs and prayers. And she watched. Sometimes mortals did indeed forget. Sometimes, mortals needed… reminding…
    The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Steven Erikson
    Barbary Macaque at the Rock of Gibraltar
    Posts: 218

    « Reply #7 on: November 21, 2008, 08:51:14 PM »

    Right - Apprentice, etc.  Good reminder.
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    « Reply #8 on: November 21, 2008, 08:57:12 PM »

    Another good feat for a warmage is knowledge devotion.  It makes it a little easier to hit with your rays and ranged touch attack, a little extra damage, and it gets you another knowledge skill as a class skill, useful for qualifying for certain PrCs.
    Barbary Macaque at the Rock of Gibraltar
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    « Reply #9 on: November 21, 2008, 08:59:25 PM »

    That's key to the Divine Oracle / Rainbow Servant builds.  You snag K-Devotion so you can get K-religion as a skill, etc.  I think I mentioned that under Rainbow Servant, but maybe not called out enough.
    Grape ape
    Posts: 1671

    « Reply #10 on: November 22, 2008, 06:30:42 PM »

    ChristopherGroves ... you sir are awesome...  Clap... very nice... here are some other useful notes:

    Warmages Benifit greatly from the following feats:

    Versatile Spellcaster (RoDrag): Let’s you cast higher level spells by using lower level spell slots. In essence with this feat your character will be able to cast his biggest spells more often, though at a cost in overall endurance.

    Practical Metamagic (RoDrag): This feat reduces the spell level increase for some other metamagic. It’s extremely useful, letting your character use his other feats on his more powerful spells sooner than he would otherwise be able to.

    Purify Spell (BoED): This makes your spells do more damage to evil creatures *and* makes them so that good targets take no damage. It’s a great feat for Warmages in good or mostly good parties. Note that this feat works really well when combined with Maximize.

    Arcane Disciple (CDiv): The upside to this feat is that it potentially adds 9 spells to your list known and lets you use any spell trigger item with your new spells. This feat is one of the *rare* ways for a Warmage to get access to spells like Timestop and Shapechange. The downside is that your character has to have high Wisdom to use them thus increasing MAD and that the spells granted can only be used once a day. You don’t get any of the usual domain perks with this feat either. It can also be a bit of a roleplay headache as well. You have to exactly match your deity’s alignment and you are suddenly dependent on an outside source for power like many Clerics are.

    also nice are some Psionic Feats:

    Psionic Shot and Greater Psionic Shot ... are handy ways to Boost Spell Damage without boosting Spell Level

    here is a low level sample of what you can do:

    Strongheart Halfling

    Warmage 6

    32pt buy:

    10 Str(12-2 racial)
    14 Dex(12+2 Racial)
    14 Con(14)
    16 Int(16)
    8 Wis(8 )
    16 Cha(15+1 lvl)

    2 Flaws

    Precocious apprentice(flaw bonus)
    Wild Talent(flaw bonus)
    Point Blank Shot(Halfling Bonus)
    1st lvl: Versatile Spell Caster
    3rd lvl: Fiery burst (reserve feat)
    6th lvl: Psionic Shot

    with only a 0-lvl spell... Acid Splash... you can do 1d3(2 ave)+1(pt blk sht)+ 2d6(7 Ave) +3(Warmage Edge) = 13 damage with a 0-lvl spell

    but this caster has 4d6 Fiery Burst damage at will and can even cast 4th lvl Spells, as a 6th lvl character

    but with a Lesser Rod of Extend.... he can do this:

    Extended Acid Arrow .....
    1st round damage: 2d4+2d6+3 = 15 damage
    2nd round damage: 2d4+3= 8 damage
    3rd round damage: 2d4+3= 8 damage
    4th round damage: 2d4+3= 8 damage

    total damage= 39 damage with a 2nd level spell slot, by a 6th lvl character

    he can do very nicely as a Blaster

     Big Grin

    Grape ape
    Posts: 1671

    « Reply #11 on: November 22, 2008, 06:47:56 PM »

    if you plan on going Warmage 20.... the Feat Extra Edge is great:

    You gain a +1 bonus to your Warmage Edge, plus an additional 1 per four Warmage levels.

    thus with a 20 Int @ 20th lvl you get:

    +5 Int +1 feat +5 Warmage lvls = +11 additional Damage!! for a single feat that does not affect Spell level

    for spells with a long duration, you gain the damage every round... like this:

    using a greater Rod of Extend and the Feat: Sudden Maximise... cast Incendiary Cloud.... do 35 damage(ref 1/2, NO SR) for 40 rounds in a 20' rad Spread, 20' high, and By concentrating, you can make the cloud (actually its point of origin) move as much as 60 feet each round.

    with creatures immune to Fire... use Energy Substitution(Acid or Sonic)  Wink

     Big Grin


    Organ Grinder
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    Simulated Thing

    « Reply #12 on: November 22, 2008, 06:50:59 PM »

    If you take versatile spellcaster and heighten spell, you could qualify for Rainbow Servant at level 5.  Having an extra two levels to PrC with is nice.

    Versatile spellcaster says "You can use two spell slots of the same level to cast a spell you know that is one level higher".  This is extremely useful, since "Heighten Spell actually increases the effective level of the spell that it modifies".
    Since "when a warmage gains access to a new level of spells, he automatically knows all the spells for that level listed on the warmage’s spell list", and heighten + versatile gives you the ability to cast a spell one level higher than you can currently cast, it seems like it ought to trigger the spell knowledge.  

    If that's the case, you can burn two of your highest level slots to cast any warmage (or, later on, cleric) spell a level above your highest level slot.  Early access to ninth level spells is delicious, even if you burn through slots twice as quickly.

    Linguist, Mad, Unique, none of these things am I
    My custom class: The Priest of the Unseen Host
    Planetouched Handbook
    Want to improve your character?  Then die.
    Grape ape
    Posts: 1671

    « Reply #13 on: November 22, 2008, 07:00:00 PM »

    correct , and it is supported by the FAQ

     Big Grin

    Omen of Peace
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    Wise Madman

    « Reply #14 on: November 22, 2008, 08:29:40 PM »

    @carnivore: +6 damage at level 20 is not worth a feat.

    Silanah heard their songs and prayers. And she watched. Sometimes mortals did indeed forget. Sometimes, mortals needed… reminding…
    The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Steven Erikson
    Barbary Macaque at the Rock of Gibraltar
    Posts: 218

    « Reply #15 on: November 22, 2008, 10:35:38 PM »

    I tend to avoid direct damage at 20th as well.

    That said, his level 6 build is a prime example of a good low-level Warmage build.  After that I do honestly believe the value of direct damage tails off ... but up until that point the ability to through around cantrips for lots of damage is amusing.
    Organ Grinder
    Posts: 3297

    « Reply #16 on: November 22, 2008, 11:04:55 PM »

    @carnivore: +6 damage at level 20 is not worth a feat.

    Probably, though Warmages don't have much to spend feats on, so I can see it coming in as a filler feat in a Core+Completes game. The real reason it's a terrible feat is that the damage scales with Warmage level, not caster level, and even in Core+Completes, there's plenty of better options than Warmage 20.

    It always seems like the barrels around here have something in them.
    Organ Grinder
    Posts: 8780

    Simulated Thing

    « Reply #17 on: November 22, 2008, 11:07:52 PM »

    I'm surprised there's no mention of sculpt spell.  Changing the area of your AoEs on the fly is fun and easy.

    Linguist, Mad, Unique, none of these things am I
    My custom class: The Priest of the Unseen Host
    Planetouched Handbook
    Want to improve your character?  Then die.
    Barbary Macaque at the Rock of Gibraltar
    Posts: 218

    « Reply #18 on: November 23, 2008, 07:56:01 AM »

    It is; keep in mind that I'm ignoring AoEs, damage, etc. for the higher level builds.  There are plenty of blaster guides.

    For those who do want to play a blaster type though, Sculpt (or Extraordinary Spell Aim) are good. 

    Those are kinda standard though, and have no special benefit to the warmage.  The Heighten-Versatile trick though, I'm going to put in.
    Grape ape
    Posts: 1671

    « Reply #19 on: November 24, 2008, 01:02:53 PM »

    @carnivore: +6 damage at level 20 is not worth a feat.
    actually it is... when combined with a Continuous Damage spell .... even when used with a low level spell

    +6 damage x 40 rounds = 240 free extra damage that does not increase the spell level..... especially with Area Spells is it handy, since everyone affected takes the extra damage

    the way to optomize Warmage Spells.... it to boost the damage each spell does without boosting the Spell Level

     Big Grin

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