With the new edition looming on the horizon, my current gaming group is looking like we're going to run one last campaign before we look at giving the new system a go. That being the case I wanted to try out a character concept I've been pondering about for a while, but never really made a good attempt at. Namely a melee oriented sorcerer going into shapeshifting transmutation magic. The campaign in question is looking like it's going to be a less optimized run so I figured now would be the best chance I'm going to get.
I have a few things in mind, but am still fleshing out ideas, especially about where the build might go later on and was hoping to get some advice.
For the things I have in mind, the character is currently planned to be a tiefling. The GM has okayed the alternate heritage options so I would be able to take the Pitborn for the + to STR and CHA. Beyond that I was planning to take a few of the alternate racial traits for Claws and Scaled Skin to help out with melee a bit and, ideally, be able to stick with natural attacks from 1st level.
For the sorcerer levels I was planning to build them as a Shapechanger bloodline to take advantage of mutable flesh and get the bonus to caster level from the arcana. Part of the inspiration for the build was being able to have one of the major buffs active for hours at a time.
One option I'm weighing, and currently had in the build was taking the first level in Scaled Fist Monk. A little bit of extra health and BaB to start out with CHA to AC hopefully helping keep him a little more durability that would stay around while shapeshifted. Stunning Fist and the bonus feat might be nice extras as well.
However, feats are where I'm most stumped. I know he'll want Arcane Strike and Extend Spell. I expect that Still Spell will be a necessity to cast while shapeshifted and I'm hoping to get a Ring of Eloquence to get around needing Silent Spell as well.
I'm just not sure how to best work on his melee to at least attempt to keep it up to par. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your help!
Melee transmutations are usually the field of Alchemists and Druids, and the latter has a spell list that can rival the Sorcerer's. That said, you want a Sorcerer. So your weakness is BAB and HP; multiclass as much as you dare, especially at lower levels.
Or consider going Dragon Disciple, getting the one ability you want from the Shapeshifter bloodline with an Ampoule of False Blood.
You might like to look at Tarondor's guide to the PF Transmuter Wizard as something at least partly relevant.
If you use alter self, monstrous physique, fey form or a few other such spells then still spell/silent spell won't be necessary to cast spells. You might find emergency attunement to be a useful feat though. For when you get pounce from a polymorph you might also find feats relating to charging useful (like charging stag style, dragon style and/or vigilant charger). The raging blood feat is another one to look at, and amateur swashbuckler (dodging panache) or osyluth guile is worth considering.
I love this board. People always come up with best ideas. Thanks very much for the input!
I had been planning to have some damaging spells, for some range if nothing else, but Sorcerous Bloodstrike is definitely going on the list.
I didn't know that ampoule existed and it's definitely an interesting item. I am a little concerned about taking up the neck slot though. The group looks like it will have a druid so that should help with natural armor bonuses, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to drop an Amulet of Mighty Fists given I'll be fighting for bonuses to his natural attacks already. I'll definitely keep it in mind though.
I'm trying to stay away from Dragon Disciple out of respect for another player. He had run a Dragon Disciple character in a previous campaign that was part of what made me want to give this a try. Unfortunately, due to scheduling issues he ended up missing the vast majority of the sessions and never really got to tune that character very much. I'm probably overthinking things, but I'd just as soon not step on any toes and I'd feel a little guilty taking the same general character into the next campaign he was in. That said, that did get me thinking on prestige classes again. If anyone has any tricky suggestions for getting all martial proficiency, moving into Eldritch knight could be very interesting. Tangentially related, is there a way to gain bloodline advancement if you multiclass?
I will have to spend some time leafing through that guide, thanks! The AC feats could be great. I'm a little concerned about being fragile, part of the reason I looked at Scaled First, and other ways to make his CHA work are very handy.
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Unless this is a total flavor character at the expense of any combat ability I wouldn't do it.
The truth is that other classes do this way better.
Druid- For the nature theme and ability to cast in forms that shouldn't be able to cast
Alchemist-for mutagens and discoveries making your forms stupid powerful in melee. An awesome bruiser.
Magus: access to humanoid forms that can still cast combined with the action economy of spell combat makes for a tremendously versatile humanoid caster/combatant
I actually tried making a melee focused transformer wizard in a level 5 battle arena with my brother. The experimental build ran into huge problems:
-My HP sucked
-My AC sucked
-My BaB sucked
-I had to spend valuable turns casting my transformation spells. If I dared waste another turn casting a buff I was already close to death.
I got so sick of the ALTER SELF-BULL'S STRENGTH- DIE formula that I eventually decided to open a combat by casting fireball, a spell I was in no way geared towards (good strength meant lower int and a modest DC). Guess what? Fireball wrecked face. Despite the transmutation school STR increase and all these feats (arcane strike, weapon focus, toughness and something else) I just couldn't turn a squishy caster into a bruiser.
A character I designed as a transformation wizard melee beatstick did incredibly poorly. He was more competent chucking evocation spells than he was fighting in melee, despite hefty feat investment and melee friendly class features. DON'T DO IT.
EDIT: if transformation is a secondary feature, go for it. Some of the forms buff your constitution or AC and are therefore good buffs if you cast them before combat. Transforming into a spider Man help you not get bit in a room full of spiders. Just don't expect melee competence.