Dwarven Defender draft capstone

Dwarven Defender in Echelon. This is a first draft, since it’s my first attempt at any capstone and the reasoning process needs to be debugged as well as the actual results.

This is a 10-level prestige class, so corresponds to two or three capstones. It seems to me the powers it grants range from those appropriate to an Expert capstone to those appropriate for a Heroic, but not so wonderful as to be appropriate for Master.

The Dwarven Defender is superb at blocking enemies in a narrow corridor and holding them back while friends retreat or prepare ranged attacks that can bypass the defender.

Original Requirements:

Dwarf: I’d personally like to keep this; holding off goblins in a narrow tunnel seems like a very dwarfy thing to do.

Alignment: any lawful. Alignments are irrelevant in Echelon

BAB +7: A martial character. The requirements can all be met by D&D level 7 for a fighter, which is Echelon level 11, high Heroic, which would be stepped down to an Expert tier capstone given that, unlike Arcane Archer, none of the requirements are magical in any way. There would also be a Heroic capstone. I’m a little fuzzy on how to achieve a given BAB, but by the end of Expert the basic attack bonus is 8/2=4 from levels alone; basic+expert martial training cover 2 more, and Warrior Born might count for the third. This is +1 BAB over Arcane Archer, which makes some sense since this is a more martial class. Heroic tier would presumably require BAB+11.

Feats: Dodge, Endurance, Toughness. These are all oriented towards survival while being bashed upon. Endurance comes with Basic Great Fortitude. Toughness is too weak to be a factor, and more hit points also come with Great Fortitude. I’d be inclined to make Basic Great Fortitude a prerequisite to the Heroic tier and possibly Expert Great Fortitude for the Heroic tier.

I’m not sure what to do about Dodge. The Expert “dodge” talent from Iron Heroes is definitely defence-related. But I’m not wanting to make this capstone require too many different talent chains. I’m inclined to leave this out.

New requirement:

It seems to me that defending ought to have something to do with armor and/or shield. The Expert shield mastery from Fantasycraft gives Improved Defence. However, other bits of Shield Mastery are mostly to do with attack rather than defence, so this doesn’t seem to fit as a prerequisite.

Better is Armor Mastery from Iron Heroes, which gives +1 DR and Light Fortification at Expert level, and +2 DR with Improved Mobility at Heroic. So I’d make Expert Armour Mastery a requirement for the Expert capstone, and Heroic Armour Mastery for the Heroic capstone.

Granted talents:

Defensive stance is the main power in the D&D prestige class. The duration is stated as 3+Con mod rounds, but with the elimination of ability scores it needs to be changed. Perhaps 1 round per level? The +2 to Str is irrelevant. The +4 dodge bonus to AC and +2 resistance to all saves could be carried over directly. The +4 to Con would typically grant a better Fortitude save and 2 more hit points per level (+14 at level 7). Does it make sense to simply grant 2 HP per level? This is just temporary during the defensive stance. This stance could be used 3/day at Expert and 5/day at Heroic, which are the times per day granted at D&D levels 5 and 9.

The class also grants DR 3/- at level 6 and 6/- at level 10; I think this translates directly to the same DR with Expert and Heroic capstones. It would have to stack with the DR from Armour Mastery. I’m fairly sure it doesn’t depend on being in defensive stance.

Other features:

Uncanny dodge at 2nd level. This seems important enough to be included at Expert, with Improved Uncanny Dodge at Heroic (lclass evel 6 in D&D version)

Trap sense +1 at 4th, +2 at 8th level. It doesn’t seem right to stack lots and lots of powers into granted talents for a capstone, and this has little to do with standing still and defending, so I’m inclined to leave it out.

Expert Tier requirements: Dwarf; BAB+7; Basic Great Fortitude; Expert Armour Mastery.

Expert granted talents: DR 3/-; Uncanny dodge; Defensive stance 3/day (1 rd/level; +2hp/level; +4 Dodge bonus to AC; +2 Resistance bonus to all saves; requires immobility)

Heroic Tier requirements: Dwarf, BAB+11; Expert Great Fortitude, Heroic Armour Mastery.

Heroic granted talents: DR 6/-; Improved Uncanny Dodge; Defensive stance 5/day, Mobile Defence (allows 5-foot step each round instead of remaining immobile).

Conceivably the Heroic defensive stance might grant somewhat greater benefits. Perhaps the stance is phrased in terms of tier-related numbers. Such as +2*tier HP/level, +2*tier dodge bonus to AC, +tier bonus to saves.

Heroic capstone doesn’t require taking the Expert capstone.

If there is a Master tier version, the number of defensive stances should be spread out a bit more, and one of the benefits should be some magic-seeming defensive ability like Protection from Normal Missiles (though the high DR, +8 from Armour Mastery and the DR benefit, might already make missiles nearly irrelevant). Or maybe that happens at Heroic and something nicer happens at Master.

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  1. Looks pretty good David. I agree with much of your analysis (and overlooked Armor Mastery, that’s a very good choice). I believe Defensive Stance should indeed be the focus of the capstone abilities.

    Remember that capstone talents are cumulative, as with other talents. When you take the Heroic capstone you gain the benefits of the Expert capstone as well.

    Prerequisites should generally be met within the tier of the capstone. Rather than “Expert Dwarven Defender needs Basic Fortitude” I would just say “base Fortitude +6” — this will be met by any twelfth-level character or at Expert capstone level with Expert Great Fortitude. It’s a little higher than you wrote, but this class is about standing up to harm. Great Fortitude, Armor Mastery, and +6 Base Attack Bonus sounds like an ideal combination to start with.

    As with Trap Sense it seems a little odd that Uncanny Dodge (usually associated with Lightning Reflexes) can be gained this way, but the innate wariness against attack granting unusually good combat reaction is not out of line. I probably would have overlooked that myself, nice catch.

    I think I would not have implemented this capstone in quite this way, but I’d be prepared take this to the table as written. Good work.

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  3. By the way, if you’re looking for something at the upper tiers it would probably be appropriate to add some mental/magical resistance. I don’t know where it’s documented or what it might mean, but an ability called “Indomitable Will” sounds like it would be a good fit.

    • David Lamb

      That’s a 1th-level Barbarian ability; it just +4 to will saves to resist enchantments.

      One decision I’m still puzzling over is whether this should be a 2- or 3-tier capstone. That is, does adding a Master tier capstone make sense? If someone took Expert and Heroic DD, would they be looking to achieve something else during Master tier or would they want to be an even better defender? It’s easy enough mechanically to design a third capstone (spread out the existing benefits a bit, add some spell-like defensive abilities), but I’m wondering if it makes sense to do so.

      • I wasn’t thinking specifically about the Barbarian ability, but yeah, so it is.

        A ten-level class could be two or three tiers, depending what fits. Simply stretching out the benefits so they are three tiers instead of two, if nothing new is gained, doesn’t really appeal to me.

        That said, if a different ability were added (I’m thinking magic resistance, which aligns nicely with classic dwarven magic resistance and sheer “Not gonna move” attitude) I could going another tier.

        Looking again, I’d make a few more changes.

        I would soften the BAB requirement slightly. Right now it requires both Warrior Born and Martial Training to become a Dwarven Defender, but the class feels to me like it should be accessible just on training. I don’t know that I would consider it “more martial” than Arcane Archer (both classes have Good BAB progressions, after all).

        The benefits at Expert tier are actually really good. I might reduce some of them and step them up at higher tiers. +4 in Echelon is really quite big; in terms of Level Bonus it’s the equivalent of something eight levels higher.

        • David Lamb

          So changes include
          – Reducing BAB requirements to +6/+10 (maybe /14 for a 3rd tier).
          – Reduce AC benefit to +tier (+2 at expert, +3 at Heroic, +4 at Master)
          or possibly +(tier-1) ie 1/2/3. I see the latter is very high in terms of level bonus, but I think DD was kind of underpowered in D&D.

          If there’s a third tier,
          -reduce DR to 2/- for expert, 4/- for Heroic, and move 6/- to Master.
          – Defensive stances per day 2/4/6 (last is one more than the prestige class but that might be OK at Master
          – Heroic introduces minor bonus to will saves against mind-control effects like charm, domination. Maybe +2, increasing to +3 at Master?
          – Master level introduces magic resistance. Have you posted about how this works? Something on the low end would be appropriate I think.

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