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Weekly Optimization Showcase VI - Feral Druid



Un altro degli esempi di quanto possa essere bello e variabile il ToB, questa build è un druido senza druido, come potrete scoprire leggendo... Non voglio rovinarvi la sorpresa!

Real Feral Taste, Zero Druid Calories

Required Books: Complete Warrior, Tome of Battle. A few more books are suggested in the Variants section.
Unearthed Arcana used: None! (yep, another Andarious zero-variant low-source build. There is a UA suggestion in the variants, though.)



Does not contain any actual Druid. The name comes from the fact that you fight like a savage shapeshifter… who uses Feral Death Blow with positively devastating accuracy by combining the ludicrous Strength boosts from a Bear Warrior with a nifty set of feat and maneuver selections to play up the theme along the way.

The Basics:


Race: Half-Orc. Really, all you want is +Strength; you can almost certainly go templates / subraces and wind up with something better, but no one will look twice at an orc.

Ability Scores: 16 / 12 / 14 / 12 / 10 / 10 with 28 PB, BEFORE racial modifiers.. You’re a single-ability Strength guy, guess where your points are going.

Skill Notes: 


Max out Jump and Concentration, and keep your Tumble up. The rest are governed by your Skill Tricks: Balance 12 and Tumble 12, for instance, unlock Back on Your Feet, Nimble Charge, Twisted Charge, and Nimble Stand. You can get all of this and still have a handful of starting skill points open for fleshing out concepts. Do boost Concentration when you can, as Moment of Perfect Mind shores up a critical weakness for you.

Basic Equipment: 


Arm yourself like a standard barbarian, you won’t go wrong. Power Attack comes online a little late, but you can slot it in earlier if you want to play it from the lower levels. High threat weapons like falchions do outperform the classic greatsword, though.

Magical Gear Goals: 


Wilding clasps, amulet of mighty fists, and enhancement bonuses for your Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Intelligence scores, plus the usual defensive item suite for AC and saves. A +5 tome of Strength is great; the other tomes, not so necessary. In short, it’s nothing too unusual: You look at it, you’ll see what it needs.

The Build.

Build Stub: Barbarian 1 / Warblade 11 / Bear Warrior 5 / Bloodclaw Master 3


1 – Barbarian – (Rage, Illiterate, Fast Movement) (Extra Rage)


You can put Power Attack here if you want as well, but Extra Rage early on is boss.

And while the Complete Cheeseball Pounce ability is strictly speaking better, this build isn’t as likely to get your DM crying. If you do swap it in, you know the drill already. The same general observation holds for Whirling Frenzy, butwe’ve already seen how much Whirling Frenzy + Bear Warrior rocks, so we’ll skip it here.

2 – Warblade – (Battle Clarity, Weapon Aptitude, Not Illiterate) (Steel Wind, Wolf Fang Strike, Sudden Leap) (Blood in the Water)


Pretty classic savage opening, especially with Rage abilities present.

3 – Warblade – (Uncanny Dodge) (Extra Rage) (Moment of Perfect Mind)


You didn’t think a barbarian/warblade would exist without this, right?

As usual, be careful - you can't use this maneuver while raging. (You do get +2 Will while raging, which helps a bit, but that won't compare to Moment). Use Moment to block Will effects that come your way before hulking out.

As with level 1, you can move Power Attack here if you want, but having the freedom to rage in every encounter makes Rage feel almost like a stance. When you judge it on those merits, it looks amazing, particularly at this level. Similarly, at this level, your base attack bonus isn't quite high enough to Power Attack freely and still keep a good chance of hitting, so the delay isn't too severe.

4 – Warblade – (Battle Ardor) (Wall of Blades)

5 – Warblade – (Claw at the Moon > Wolf Fang Strike) (Leading the Charge)


Sometimes more damage up front is what you need. When you start to turn into a pouncing bear? That’ll be one of those times.

6 – Warblade – (Tiger Blooded, Power Attack) (Iron Heart Surge)


Again, you could move Power Attack earlier if you wanted. The early Rages mean you’ll be raging in every battle and still have a use to spare, and early on (before you have enough BAB to make PA rock) that probably makes a bigger difference.

Tiger Blooded’s DC is based off of your Strength, and that’s about to go sky high. Very useful feat to mix with your high movement speed.

7 – Warblade – (Improved Uncanny Dodge)


You COULD swap a maneuver out here, but we’re not interested in that quite yet. There are so many “fundamentals” in the low levels that it’s just not worth the upgrade here.

8 – Bear Warrior – (Bear Form: Black)


This is where that falchion starts to become less useful. The Strength increases are more than worth it though.

9 – Bear Warrior – (Multiattack)

10 – Bear Warrior – (Scent)


Nice not having to take Hunter’s Stance for this, eh?

11 – Bear Warrior – 


Normally BAB +11 and the third iterative attack is cause for celebration for most tank builds, but you use natural attacks. Oh Well.

12 – Bear Warrior – (Bear Form (Brown)) (Blade Meditation: Tiger Claw)


While Improved Natural Attack is a better feat in general, Blade Meditation is underrated if you’re aiming for DC strikes. Many of Tiger Claw’s that have a DC also have an associated Jump check, so this is sort of like Ability Focus Plus. Especially when you add in the huge boost to Strength from Brown Bear Form.

13 – Bloodclaw Master – (Shifting 1/day, Claws of the Beast) (Dancing Mongoose)


That’s another +2 to strength that stacks with our rages. You may want to consider anger management therapy.

We also get Dancing Mongoose, so your bear-tiger can act imitate a third predatory animal if you feel like it.

14 – Bloodclaw Master – (Superior Two Weapon Fighting, Tiger Claw Synergy (Stance))


Tiger Claw Synergy’s speed boost is the big winner. With 50’ speed and Tiger Blooded, running down foes can be easy!

15 – Bloodclaw Master – (Pouncing Strike, Low-Light Vision, Shifting 2/day) (Reaping Talons) (Pouncing Charge)


And our pouncing bear is online. Remember Leading the Charge? I do.

The Reaping Talons feat turns you into a beast against large groups of opponents.

16 – Warblade – (Battle Cunning) (Swooping Dragon Strike)


We needed something a bit more potent than Claw at the Moon.

17 – Warblade – (Hamstring Attack > Claw at the Moon)


This is the pinnacle of your rundown capability. You’ve got a save DC in the high 30s on this maneuver, which combines very well with your movement speed and Tiger Blooded.

18 – Warblade – (Blind-Fight, Martial Study) (Adamantine Hurricane, Raging Mongoose)


This level showcases a huge boost in power against hidden opponents and groups of opponents. Scent and Blind-Fight makes invisible opponents much more vulnerable, and the combination of Adamantine Hurricane and Raging Mongoose lets you hit one opponent four times and everyone else within reach twice (possibly triggering a few Reaping Talons maneuvers as well). Oh, make sure to ask your GM how Improved Grab works with Adamantine Hurricane.

19 – Warblade – (Diamond Defense > Steel Wind, Supreme Blade Parry)


A little bit of defense when you’re tearing hordes of enemies to shreds isn’t a bad idea. Plus you can now block Will effects even while raging, which is never a bad thing.

20 – Warblade – (Battle Skill) (Feral Death Blow)


You are a Tiger-Bear. Your Strength should be giving this maneuver a DC in the low 40s. To put this in context, read on.





In a calm state, using only the usual +6 items mentioned above and the +5 Strength tome, you’ve got 235 HP, +19 BAB, and saves of +19/+12/+6. Your normal stats come to 34/18/20/10/10/8. But let’s count those bonuses: +16 to Strength, +2 to Dexterity, and +8 to Constitution while raging, plus another +2 to Strength while shifting. That puts your HP up to 315, and even gives you a handy +2 to will saves (a +24 Diamond Defense Will save or +31 Moment of Perfect Mind can really make a point to those pesky enchanters). You also go from +37 melee to +45 melee using nothing more than Greater Magic Fang – but there’s more than meets the eye here with your offense than raw damage (taking Blade Meditation over Improved Natural Attack should be the tipoff.).

Let’s take a look at your level 20 killing power more closely. Your Raging final Strength is 40, and you’ve picked up Blade Meditation for all those Strength-based Tiger Claw save DCs. There’s an 80% chance that your Feral Death Blow will kill the average CR 20.5 opponent outright upon connecting. For an idea of the range, it will kill Pit Fiends 95% of the time and KO the Tarrasque 10% of the time. That amulet of mighty fists will give you an attack bonus of +45 while raging and shifting. You’ll be hitting CR 20 opponents 95% of the time even with significant investment in Power Attack. Andarious ran the numbers for attack rolls and saving throws, and came up with a 76% kill rate for Feral Death Blow while raging and shifting at level 20. Yes, three out of every four CR 20 monsters will just die as soon as this character initiates that maneuver on them. Even without Feral Death Blow, your claws deal 2d6+30 damage (and your bite 2d6+20). Throw Raging Mongoose onto a full attack or Pouncing Charge, and that’s 6 claws and a bite. Power Attack for 5, and you’re averaging 248 damage in a single round against a CR 20 opponent. (That calculation takes into account a 95% hit rate and a 4.75% chance to critical. It does NOT take into account the possibility of Leading the Pouncing Charge, which makes things even meaner.) Your average CR 20 opponent has around 410 HP, so this isn't a trivial hunk of change.

Overall Strengths: 


Even without druid levels, you turn into a bear and freaking eat people. Any single opponent you focus on is virtually guaranteed to be dead by turn two. You’re highly mobile, and with Hamstring Attack and Tiger Blooded, you can make your opponents highly not. But you’re not just good at picking on loners. Improved Uncanny Dodge Reaping Talons and Adamantine Hurricane let you share the love with everybody who wants to try ganging up on a poor tiger-bear-mongoose thing.

Overall Weaknesses:


Will saves, as always, are your feared weak spot. Keep Moment of Perfect Mind (and later, Diamond Defense) ready at all times, just in case. (Diamond is strictly better, even if you only consider Will saves: Moment won't work while raging, while Diamond will.) Your incredible movement speed and jump checks make you very mobile (you have to be, as a melee combatant), but consider investing in some consumables to protect yourself against kiting ranged attackers. A psionic tattoo of Dimension Slide can really save your bacon, as can an Eternal Wand with a bit of cleverness.



The Whirling Frenzy variant rage from Unearthed Arcana is a possible alternative to the normal rage, as is the ferocity variant from Cityscape. If you don’t want to be a half-orc, the Darfellans from Stormwrack and the Skarn from Magic of Incarnum are two good possibilities, as both increase your Strength score. You can also shift the Warblade bonus feats around without too much trouble - oddly enough Run might work, since it further boosts your Jump check results (and thus the DCs of some of your strikes).

There you have it. Although it holds no actual druid, it strikes hard and kills at least as reliably as a typical Zilla.

Nella definizione di Tempest: ecco a voi un bellissimo, cucciolosissimo tigre-orso-mangusta-coso che vi mangerà anche l'anima! BUM!


Recommended Comments

Non se l'è dimenticato!

Al livello 19 (quando acquista finalmente Diamond Defense) dice: 


Plus you can now block Will effects even while raging, which is never a bad thing.

Effettivamente, poteva essere un po' più esplicito....

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