Author Topic: The Arcane Duelist Handbook (Ikeren)  (Read 262 times)


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The Arcane Duelist Handbook (Ikeren)
« on: June 15, 2017, 04:48:56 PM »
Saved and Reposted from WoTC Boards: I almost think that I perhaps lost my feats/skills section, since I think I had it done, but can't find it in my document.Then moved here from Min Max Boards.

The Arcane Duelist
found here

The Arcane Duelist is a 10 level prestige class that mixes magic and fighting in the swashbuckling manner of the traditional duelist.
Base Attack Bonus: +6.
Skills: Perform 5 ranks, Tumble 5 ranks.
Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Proficiency (rapier, short sword, dagger, or any variation of these weapons as given in Sword and Fist).
Spellcasting: Able to cast 1st-level arcane spells.


Strength: You need strength 13 to take power attack. Everything else is just gravy.
Dexterity: Unlike the traditional duelist, all your abilities are usuable in heavy armor. If you can avoid arcane spell failure, or simply don't care about it, you can safely get away with low dexterity. If you are going lightly armored, you want higher dexterity. 8-16, depending on play style.
Constitution: With only a d8 hit die, you want your constitution to be quite high.
Intelligence: You get 4+int skills from a medium list. You have some skills, but leave the monkeying to a rogue. An 8 or 10 will suffice.
Wisdom: Only useful if you are getting wis to AC from somewhere, or going with cleric or Ur-Priest levels before the Arcane Duelist
Charisma: You get uncapped Charisma to AC at 2nd level, which is really powerful. Unfortunately, it isn't good for much else, unless you go in with a charisma based caster, in which case, you want to max this out. (or paladin/hexblade/etc)

Prestige Class Features

The Good
2 good saves - Reflex and Will
D8 Hit Die - Okay, it isn't great, but at least it isn't a D6
Decent Skill list 4+int per level
2 powerful special abilities, one passable

The Bad
Most of their special abilities are mediocre
Pre-requisites are all over the place - A pair of feats in the same tree, a few cross-class skills for most builds, decent BAB, and arcane casting.

The Ugly
Bad Fort Saves
Bad Base Attack progression
Doesn't progress arcane casting.

Class Abilities
(Rankings on the class abilities and features per level are BLUE for super good/excellent, BLACK for good/average, and RED for poor/below average.)

Chosen Weapon: The chosen weapon can be any weapon the Arcane duelist is proficient with. And it only takes 7 days if you lose the first one.

Enchant Weapon (Ex): While perhaps not a great ability, it frees up a lot of gold by allowing you to wield a +1 weapon with 5 levels of enchantment, and still getting a full 10 points. A +1 Vorpal Shortsword, for example, would become a +5 Vorpal Shortsword, at no cost to yourself.

Apparent Defense (Ex): CHA to AC. All of it. Great ability.

Dexterous Attack (Ex): This is a bland ability, until you use a two handed weapon and power attack. If you have a greatsword and a strength bonus of +4, your max damage is 18. Take 5 points from that, for a max damage of 13 and +5 to hit. Now power attack for 5 points. You gain +10 damage, or a max damage of 23. For every point from the max damage you take, you can turn it into an extra point of damage. Or mix with combat expertise for extra defense, or against high AC enemies, you can use the extra attack.

Blur (Sp): You can use blur. A lot. Okay, it's not great, but blur in every combat is still useful. Until true seeing becomes common.

False Keenness (Ex): [/b]Very few and very unrealistic uses. The attack penalty isn't really worth the extra crit range, especially with Dexterous attack converting attack penalty into damage. The specific instance where this is useful is wielding a Prismatic Burst or Wounding weapon with a 18-20 crit range, so criting 15-20 (or 30% of the time) then using Flurry of swords to guarentee a few crits.

Mirror Image (Sp): Doesn't actually say how many times you can use this - figure it 1/day/arcane duelist level like all the other abilities, or if you've got a nasty DM, 1/day.

Flurry of Swords (Ex): WHOO HOO! YOU MADE IT!
This ability allows you to once for each opponent, up to 10 times per day. As a part of a full attack action, you cast mirror image. Except, these mirror images are quasi real, and mimick your attack pattern (1d4+1/3 arcane duelist levels, so usually 3). You also get an extra attack, all attacks at a -2 penalty (a normal flurry). Essentially, your attack pattern is multipled by 4-7. If you used to attack 4 times per round, you now attack 20-32 times that round. If you got 9 attacks per round (Full BAB, TWF tree, Haste, flurry), you attack 45-72 times that round.

Coupled with the use of Legacy Champion to progress the class abilities 2 levels so you get 1d4+4 mirror images, you can make an obscene number of attacks. This 10th level ability is probably the reason you took this class.


There are basically 2 breakpoints in this class.
Level 2: You get CHA to AC, you've only lost 1 BAB, you've gotten +3 will/reflex save, and you've only lost two caster levels. A more Martial Gish with high charisma will benefit from this sort of dip, or a Paladin/something crazy that is looking to make use of charisma lots of times.
Level 3: Cha to AC, and power attack loops.
Level 10: None of the other abilities are worth going past level 3 for. So if you stick it past level 3, you're in for the long run.

Entry Classes

You can basically enter however you want. Elves get the shortsword proficiency needed, and any martial class will do it as well. Battle sorcerer, cleric with the war domain, and favoured soul also will let you do it.
The two feats are easy to meet, although dodge is somewhat weak. (Desert Wind dodge or Expeditious dodge can be used in place)
The skills are bard or rogue friendly, and with charisma to AC, and 1st level spells required, it could be seen as a bard prestige class. Some entries can be seen in the builds below.

Good entry ideas involve:

Strong Base attack bonus: 10 levels of a bad BAB class is weak. You can either go for the full 15, or you can ignore it and buy a skillful weapon.
Maximizing Casting: You want to get at least 5th level spells, more if you can wrangle it somehow. You may want to consider minimizing arcane casting and going the full plate route. You may also want to consider maximizing divine casting and Persisting Divine Power to gain full BAB.
Useful abilities: Paladins get CHA to Saves. You get CHA to AC. Interesting...
Sources of bonus damage: Swashbuckler 3, Rogue, Spellthief, Scout, Ranger, Fighter 4 for weapon specialization if you are desperate.


Human: The skillpoints and feat are always useful.
Dwarf: Charisma penalty is a mistake
Elf: Constitution penalty is almost certainly a mistake
Gnomes: Con bonus, strength penalty, and small size (weapon damage isn't the place you're getting it).
Halflings, especially strongheart: The dexterity is decent, the strength hit and size is no big deal.
Half Orc: Charisma penalties are generally a big no-no.

Sample builds/original post.

Has anyone done any serious work on optimizing the Arcane Duelist?

Note: This was written before I'd read ToB.

1) Bard/Arcane Duelist/Sublime Chord.

Bard 7/Fighter 1/Arcane Duelist2/Sublime Chord 1/Arcane Duelist 3-10/Sublime Chord 2

BAB: 13
HP: 6+8d6+1d10+10d8 = 84.5 average
5th level spells

1b) Bard 10/Arcane Duelist 10 also works

2) A simple Battle Sorcerer 10/Arcane Duelist 10
BAB: 12
HP: 8+19d8 = 93.5 average
5th level spells

3) Minimal casting builds:

A) More MAD (Int, Cha, Str, Dex, Con, wis as dump):
Swashbuckler 3/Wizard 1/Rogue 3/Scout 1/Arcane Duelist 10/Fighter 2
13 BAB
10+4d10+11d8+3d6+1d4 = 94.5 average
Int to damage, 2 bonus feats, 2d6 sneak attack, 1d6 skrimish. The 2 fighter levels could be something else.

Swash 3/Fighter 1/Wizard 2/Abjurant Champion 1/Arcane Duelist 10/Abjurant Champion 2-4

14 BAB.
10+7d10+10d8+2d4 = 98.5
6 levels of Wizard = 3rd level spells

B) Same thing, except beguiler rather than Wizard: HP = 99.5, and 6 levels of beguiler.

4) Cleric builds. (Main problem: They're all unplayable under level 17, and even more MAD)
Yep, I said it, cleric builds.

Swash 3/Arcane Caster of Choice 1/Good Cleric 1 (Planning, Undeath)/Ur-Priest 5/Arcane Duelist 10

This build is feat heavy, requiring 2 spent by 5th, 3 more by 10th. Human or Flaws necessary.

Why Ur-Priest?
1) Cha Synnergy: Turning*2 (Rebuke and Turn) and Arcane Duelist
2) Screw Arcane Casting = All abilities in full plate.
3) Int Synnergy - Skills and Damage
4) The joy that is DMM Persist >>> Full BAB

This build gets an effective BAB of 20, with a real BAB of 12 (11 fractional)
5th level divine casting.
HP: 10+2d10+16d8+1d4 = 95.5

4) Another cleric build, uses fractional BAB:
Swash 3/Wizard 1/Cleric 1/Urpriest 1/MT2/Arcane Duelist 10/MT +2
Gets 5th level urpriest casting AND 5th level wizard casting - which can be used to power arcane strike (admittedly, you have to use heroism or retrain a feat).

Same thing with effective +20 base attack bonus
True BAB of 12
10+2d10+12d8+5d4 = 87.5 hp

5) Dervish Builds
Swash 3/Duskblade 1/Barbarian Lion(Pounce) /Dervish 1/Arcane Duelist 10/Dervish 2-5
BAB: 15
Going TWF for the 6 attacks per round = 30-48 attacks in the round.

6) Duskblade Builds
A) Duskblade 6/Arcane Duelist 10/Duskblade +4

BAB 15, 20d8, 3rd level spells, quick cast 2/day
(Note, in Gestalt Games, a Duskblade 20/Arcane Duelist build with full attack channeling and TWF, 35-56 attacks in the round and shocking grasp = avg 160 damage, from the 1st level channeled spell alone)

Duskblade 1/Swash 3/Fighter 2/Arcane Duelist 10/Finisher 4

7) Extra Damage builds.

Duskblade 1/Rogue 1/Spellthief 1/Thug 1/Scout 1/Barbarian Lion Totem (Pounce) 2/Arcane Duelist 10/Unseen Seer 1/XYZ 2

Improved Skrimish is putting that at 6d6 bonus damage, with two free levels at the end you can definitely get to 7d6, maybe to 8d6.

You know what, looking at all of these, not many of them seem to be anything more than playable in a low power joke campaign, or something starting at level 16+, or a Gestalt game.

Anyways, anyone got any better ideas?