The New Dragonfire Adept Handbook!Edit
Welcome to the new and improved Dragonfire Adept handbook! This newest addition has refined and clarified some of the original handbook’s issues, and I’ve added more than a couple new fun combos and builds. Hope it proves useful and a fun read - I’ve certainly had a good time compiling it!
Some thanks are in order. First off, I’d like to thank Bishop Drazz’t for his many additions, suggestions, and general interest in/contributions to the guide. TG gets some thanks too for helping out with layout.
I've been playing one of these for a while and have found her to be one of the most versatile and effective characters I've ever had. To that end, I've created a handbook to help people get the most out of their Dragonfire Adepts, and to demonstrate all the impressive things that they're capable of. If there's anything you think of that I can add on, I'll include it.
First, a quick link to Gerdeg's Dragonfire Adept Handbook, a short but sweet little thread. I personally don't agree that you can apply metabreath feats to a breath weapon that doesn't have a recharge duration expressed in rounds, but there is some good info here nonetheless.
Another link - this one to a list of possible PrC's for a DF Adept by MegaPlex. Not all the options are optimal, but take a look.
Finally, a link to the original guide, in all its un-edited glory. Though it is not as complete, there are some great replies to peruse there - take a look if you’re interested: the Old Dragonfire Adept Handbook.
CLASS ADVANTAGES Edit
Strong Will and Fort: The two most important saves in the game are strong for you. Cheers!
Breath Weapon: Your breath weapon is one of the best attack methods in the game. It’s a supernatural ability (meaning your enemies’ SR has no effect on it and it does not provoke attacks of opportunity), doesn’t require an attack roll, and can cover large areas of effect. Since you don’t have to attack, this means you can use blindsense to target opponents and suffer no miss chance. In addition, you can use your breath to create different effects that make you an incredibly effective battlefield controller. Finally, though it does prevent you from taking Metabreath feats, your breath weapon is usable every round - unlike every other class that has one.
Invocations: Limitless use abilities that give you mobility, battlefield control, and de-buff skills. Though the Dragonfire Adept gives you fewer than Warlocks and a different list, it also gives you access to some impressive effects that Warlocks wish they could manage.
4+Int Skills: You have all the main social skills (Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Sense Motive), all Knowledge skills, Spot and Listen, and, most importantly, Use Magic Device. This lets you play party scholar and party face, in addition to making you (along with your invocations) the party’s eyes and ears, detecting trouble before it gets the jump on you. 4 points per level means you’ll have enough skill points to be able to play multiple roles for your party, replacing a Bard or Rogue and still maintaining battlefield spellcasting control.
Scales: A bonus to natural armor is very nice - especially for a caster-style character. Whee!
CLASS WEAKNESSES Edit
Low Ref: Awww, you get a bad score in the LEAST important save. What a downer.
D8 HD: Sure, it’s bad if you were a front-liner. And if you had a bad Constitution. But Con determines the DC of your breath weapon, and you won’t be front-line fighting EVER. Well, hardly ever.
Single Class: You can choose to multiclass, but Dragonfire Adepts tend to be the most powerful if you stick to your guns and see it through to 18 (for reasons I’ll discuss later, 19 and 20 are the only levels in the class that are less than mandatory). This means your base saves will be lower than those of characters who multiclass like maniacs. Oh well.
No Armor Proficiency: Gasp No - really? Can it be true ? They MUST be worse then Warlocks, I hear you scream. Nope! Why not? Because - many of the Dragonfire Adept’s invocations have a 24 hour duration or aren’t needed in combat, meaning that for many DFAs spell failure won’t be an issue. What’s more, their primary attack form (breath weapon) does not require an attack roll - meaning they only take the check penalty increase for being unproficient. This can be minimized by choosing the right gear - more on this in the equipment section.
Wizard BaB: Yes, it’s true - though the class is draconically flavored you get the lowest BaB progression in the game. This is, however, not much of a problem for a Dragonfire Adept - your primary attack (breath!) requires no attack roll, and barring a multiclass issue there is no reason for you to mourn a low BaB. Properly done, a DFA will never need to roll an attack die EVER.
Strength: Dump stat #1. This should be as low as possible. It is of absolutely no use to a DFA.
Dexterity: Boosts your AC and initiative. Not that useful since you don't usually go into melee, but it's not really a dump stat.
Constitution: Imperatively your #1 stat. This should be as high as possible, since it increases the DC of your breaths(!!), as well as your hit points, fortitude save(and if you are willing to invest in 2 feats, your will save as well)
Intelligence: You have many class skills, which means that intelligence is useful to have.
Wisdom: Dump stat #2. It only boosts your Will Save, which is already good. The fact that some of your class skills depend on it make it a little better than strength.
Charisma: The importance of this attribute greatly varies depending on your choice of Invocations. DFA tend not to have many offensive invocations, meaning that increasing their DC does not matter. Many of your important skills depend on charisma, so it is still a useful attribute to have. If you take offensive invocations, make this your #2 priority, else, intelligence and dexterity are probably more useful.
RACE CHOICES Edit
Human: That extra feat goes a long way on a Dragonfire Adept. I highly reccomend humans as prime DFA material.
Hellbred: An offering from the new Fiendish Codex II, these guys can start with +2 Con or a +2 Charisma and some snazzy bonus "Devil-Touched" feats. Very handy, vey fun. Plus you get points for style - you look like a humanoid demon. Always fun when you're breathing fire. However keep in mind that they are not supposed to be evil, so you can forget about that juicy Fivefold Breath.
Halfling: If Strongheart Halflings are an option, they trump humans with their +1 Size modifier and skill bonuses.
Dragonborn: Adds flavor and Constitution to the Dragonfire Adpet, but pretty much every ability this race gets can be duplicated (and done better) by the class’s abilities. Of course, doing this can let you save certain invocations (like Draconic Flight) for some other purpose, and pairing this template with a +2 Con race (gnomes make a good choice) will let you boost your Con by +4 (or Mongrelfolk for a total of +6!). Very nice.
Gnome: Better than dwarves, the +2 Con can help a bunch. Of course, without the extra feat of a human or strongheart halfling you lose a lot. If you are going to play one, I highly suggest the very sexy Whispergnomes from Races of Stone, who not only get 30 feet of speed despite their small size, but a +2 Dex to complement their Con boost. This means they’ve got an effective +2 AC and some nice skill bonuses (+8 total to Hide, +4 to Move Silently), darkvision, and a nice little silencing ability. Not shabby! They do, of course, receive a -2 Charisma penalty, which does hurt the DC of your invocations.
Mongrelfolk: These guys can be found in Races of Destiny and also in the Fiend Folio. A nasty -4 Charisma will make your invocations a lot easier to resist. Fortunately, most of the best Dragonfire Adept invocations don’t require a save DC to work. The upside to these guys is the +4 Con mod - hooah!
Desert Half-Orc: An environmental variant race from Unearthed Arcana with +2 Constitution and -2 Inteligence, low-light vision instead of darkvision (which is easily obtained from see the unseen), and Run as a bonus feat; you don't get much, but a Constitution bonus never hurts.
Dwarf: A bonus to Constitution helps your breath DCs, but a penalty to Charisma hurts your invocations and social skills. It should be noted, however, that some of the best invocations don’t allow for a save, and an improved breath weapon DC is far more important than an improved invocation DC. All that having been said, these guys are not the best.
Kobold: They fit thematically and are great if you’re going for a Dragonwrought build, opening up all sorts of fun feats and allowing you to boost your mental stats by +3 without any physical stat penalty (see the Feats section for details on how). They have a 30ft speed, which is very unusual for small races. The con penalty hurts, but can be removed by taking either the Desert or Jungle variant. Of the two, Desert is prefered as intelligence is more useful to DFA than wisdom, and they also don't have the Light Sensivity. Also, if you choose this race, don't forget to do the Draconic Rite of Passage, which gives you a 1st-level Sorcerer spell as a Spell-Like Ability 1/day.
Illumians: The krau sigil can be handy for improving your caster level, which can give you all sorts of fun effects. Still, overall Illumians aren’t the best choice for a DFA, though they can be a flavorful one (the primal language of magic, after all, has to be related to Draconic . . .).
Spellscale: A +2 to Cha helps invocations, but a -2 Con hurts your breath weapon. In addition, none of the Blood Quickening meditiations help you too much - Tamara is decent (you can use spell-trigger items with cure spells without penalty), but not phenomenal.
Hengeyokai: It's been recently pointed out that the 3.5 updated version of this Oriental Adventures race (published in Dragon #318) has some interesting options for the enterprising DFA player. Notably there's the Sparrow Hengeyokai, able to turn into a tiny sparrow form with a 23 Dex (but a Con of only 10 . . . sigh!) and a very nice fly speed. There's also the Badger, which, though tiny, has a burrow speed and a Con of 15 - not bad! Considering that your breath weapon and scales are class-based abilities come with you, this has obvious - and fun! - implications for play.
Elves: The bonus to Listen, Search, and Spot can be nice when paired with some of the DFA’s perception abilities, but the -2 Con hurts. A LOT. Give these guys a miss.
Half-Elf: Great if you’re going for Diplomacy (see the Feats section for more on how). Otherwise, this is one of the most obnoxiously weak races in the game.
Half-Dragon: Meh. The LA makes this not the best choice, and the other abilities, once again, are duplicated by class abilities. Give this a miss.
Others: You can make a decent Dragonfire Adept out of almost any race, but there are some things to look out for. Like casters, Adepts get a lot out of levels, so avoid anything with a high LA. A +1 or +2 LA template could be worth it, but only for really snazzy payoffs - big stat boosts, flight, AC boosts, immunities, and special abilities all come to mind (White Dragonspawn from Dragonlance, Half-Fey, etc.). Attribute-wise, anything with a Con or Cha bonus can be attractive, but don’t get too wrapped up in finding a special race - the extra feat from being a human or strongheart halfling is worth more than most abilities to a Dragonfire Adept.
GOOD CHARACTERS TO PARTY WITH Edit
Combat Reflexes + Improved Trip/Standstill/Knockdown Warrior: These are your best friends. If you’re standing behind a tank character with Combat Reflexes, a nice reach, and some abilities that help stop incoming enemies, the two of you will be a force to be reckoned with. Between entangling and slowing enemies with your breath, almost no one will be able to get close to the two of you - and if they do, your partner can stop them dead before they get within melee range.
Ranged Fighter/Caster: Your battlefield control abilities will allow you to keep enemies at bay. Once they’re locked down, a ranged fighter can tear through them with high-damage shots, and a battle caster can blow them the heck up. This is very satisfying when put into practice. The Dragonfire Adept can also synergize a battle caster’s abilities, upping the DC to resist certain spells and making them deal more damage (more on this in the Combo section).
Save Crippler: These include Paladins of Slaughter, Hexblades (especially with the 4th level alternate class ability Dark Companion from the PHBII), Binders (with Focalor or Chupoclops - or both - bound), and Bards (with the Doomspeak feat from Champions of Ruin). All of these characters have abilities that let you penalize enemy saves, making them some of your best friends. If you’ve got the Endure Elements invocation, you can make your allies immune to your breath weapon for the day. Now they can wade into the fray, crippling your target’s saves, while you strafe the enemy with nasty breath effects. Very effective, very fun.
Each of the following will be given a grade from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest grade and 5 being the highest. Some may have an asterisk, indicating special conditions under which the grade may change; check the description for more details. It should also be noted that at each level at which a new invocation is obtained, a Dragonfire Adept may “swap” any invocation of a grade lower than his highest (least invocations at 6th, lesser at 11th, and greater at 16th) for a different invocation of the same grade. This means that a DFA has the freedom to pick invocations that have greater use at lower levels early on, then swap them out later to avoid having any abilities that become useless or redundant.
Aquatic Adaptation (2*): This gives you a swim speed and lets you breathe in water (both to survive and hurt people ). If you’re playing in a water-heavy campaign, this is indispensable, and receives a grade of 5 rather than 2. In the average game, it may come up in certain circumstances, but you’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s necessary or not. Ask your DM.
Beguiling Influence (4): A +6 to Bluff, Intimidate, and Diplomacy (all class skills ) makes you a brilliant party face and provides hours and hours of role-playing entertainment. This skill boost can last you until much later in the game.
Breath of the Night (2): The cloud of fog produced by this spell is easily created with a wand or an eversmoking bottle. Though it may prove useful in some low-level fights, it should ultimately be swapped out for a different invocation once items that can produce the same effect (wands etc.) become available. This is of limited to no use - skip this invocation.
Darkness (2): See Breath of the Night, above.
Deafening Roar (1): “Deafened” is a mediocre de-buff, but can be effective versus enemy casters by applying a 20% failure chance to their casting attempts. All in all, not worth an action in combat, however - pass.
Draconic Knowlegde (4): This gives a +6 to all Knowledge (and Spellcraft) checks and lets you make them untrained. This can be incredibly handy, and allows DFAs to take over the role of party know-it-all from the bard. Very stylish, very useful, and proves handy even late in the game.
Endure Exposure (5): This is one of the very best Least invocations. Not only can you use this to make your whole party comfortable in extreme environments (it’s the equivalent of an endure elements spell), but it also makes them immune to your breath weapon This allows you to breathe freely without worrying about hurting your allies, which is hugely important. A must-have.
Magic Insight (5*): Detect Magic is great, but the secondary effect of this ability is even better: identify without the need for material components. This saves you and your party a ton of gold, and more importantly lets them use items they pick up while adventuring without having to return to town first. This invocation is less valuable if your party can acquire an Artificer's Monocle (MIC) or if someone else in your party can identify for free (such as an archivist or cloistered cleric).
Scalding Gust (2): The damage done by this invocation is negligible, and the crowd-control effect (blowing back small creatures and stopping the forward advance of medium creatures on failed saves) is easily replaced by Entangling Exhalation (see the Feats section for more on this). Pass.
See the Unseen (4): Darkvision is good. See invisibility is good. This invocation is good. When you pick up Voidsense later on, you may choose to swap this out for something else, but until then, it’s dang handy.
Charm (4*): Charm is just snazzy, and this isn’t just charm - it’s charm monster. That means it will work on almost anything with a brain that can be affected by mind-affecting effects. If your Charisma is high enough, this can mean having a flunky around to do some dirty work for you. This is one for the charismatic manipulators out there. Keep in mind, though, that different DMs work charm differently - some will give you a loyal goon with each casting, others will simply make something that would otherwise be an enemy back off. The asterisk represents this - if your DM is one who’ll give you a pet for charming a monster, this receives a 5. Otherwise, it’s a 4. One of your best lesser invocation options.
Draconic Flight (4*): Flight is huge - when synergized by Flyby Attack this can make for strafing runs that keep you out of harm’s way. If playing a battlefield comp-troller, this one is a very nice invocation. Though it can be replaced by Greater Draconic Flight later on, having this from level 6 will prove a very useful ability. This goes down to a score of 1 if your DM allows you to retain your breath weapon when shifted using Humanoid Form, as you can get flight and a whole lot more from that lovely invocation.
Energy Resistance (4): The baby brother of the dark invocation Energy Immunity, this is a phenomenal choice. Since you can re-cast this to gain resistance to cold, fire, lightning, acid, or sonic, you can customize your defenses to keep yourself safe from whatever kind of attacks your enemy favors. A really nice ability.
Enthralling Voice (3): This works kind of like a bard’s music, fascinating enemies in the same way. The biggest advantage of it, though, is that any enemy that fails its save acts one step friendlier towards you. For more on how to abuse this, see the Combo section. Definately a flavor-favorite for charismatic DFAs, and less a battlefield skill than a stylish role-playing power.
Frightful Presence (5*): Scare your enemies (shaken) when you breathe as a swift action. This has some obvious applications, but only really gets silly with some tweaking. See the Combo section for more. This is better, by the way, than most fear effects, because the text doesn’t mention anything about the targets having fewer HD than you - in other words, you can scare pretty much anything that fails its save. Moreover, it allows you to use another invocation or a breath effect at the same time - effectively doubling your actions and forcing two saves each round. Very nice. If you’re playing in a campaign where you often run into undead, constructs, vermin, and other creatures immune to fear or mind-affecting effects, this ability can lose its massive impact. If every encounter is with a mentally-shielded enemy, the grade becomes a 1.
Humanoid Shape (4*): Changing shape can allow you to pick up movement modes (flight, burrow, swim), natural weapons, and, most importantly, extraordinary special attacks. This can make is a sort-of Swiss Army knife-style invocation, allowing you to use different abilities depending on the situation. In particular, stealth-based builds and save-cripplers will find this a godsend. However, due to the listed SRD qualities of Change Shape, some DMs may rule that you don't keep your breath weapon. If you can't, this only gets a 4. If you can, it gets a 5! For more abuse on this, see the Combos and Tricks section.
Voidsense (5): 30 feet of blindsense is incredibly useful. The passive ability to detect approaching enemies (not just invisible ones, but hidden ones as well ) isn’t all this has to offer, either. Since a DFAs breath weapon does not require a roll to hit, if you know where an enemy is (regardless of whether it’s invisible) you can hit it without fail. See the Combo section for some offensive applications.
Voracious Dispelling (5): The ability to dispel magic and deal 1 point of damage per spell level with a touch is fantastic. I’m a big fan of this ability, and your party will be too. There are few things handier than a “dispel persistent dungeon effect” ability that is usable at will, and you’ll find it very useful in combat for removing enemy buffs and duration spells (think Web). Best of all, you can do it at very long range (100 ft. + 10 ft./level), allowing you to take out nastier spells from a safe distance.
Walk Unseen (3): Becoming invisible at will is a useful ability, no question about it. If you can come up with Move Silently as a class skill (see the feats section for suggestions on how to manage this) you will be nearly undetectable. This has the drawback, of course, of de-activating when you attack, which is unfortunate, but there are some interesting ways around this. See the Combos section for more.
Aura of Flame (1): This is a terrible waste of a greater invocation. TERRIBLE. Enemies attacking you in melee combat with non-reach weapons take 1 point of fire damage per caster level. Did I mention that SR will stop this? Whoop-dee-doo. If someone is hitting you in melee combat with a non-reach weapon, you are doing something VERY WRONG.
Baleful Geas (1): This initially looks like a god-send: make someone do your bidding and suffer over time to boot. Unfortunately, there’s some fine print that makes this gem lose its luster - the geas/quest spell that it’s based on has a casting time of 10 minutes and a range of 25 + 5 feet per level. If you can think of a way to get a creature that means you harm to stand within that range for 10 minutes while you cast this, good for you. Of course, if paired with Chilling Fog, Entangling Exhalation, and Slow Breath, you might be able to do it . . . if you didn’t kill the target first.
Chilling Fog (5): This alone makes the Dragonfire Adept worth playing. Solid fog is well known as one of the ultimate battlefield control spells, limiting anything in its radius to 5 feet of movement per round. Add on 2d6 cold damage each round they stay within it and you’ve got a real winner of an invocation - something that nearly tops the Warlock’s Chilling Tentacles. Of course, it doesn’t quite out-do the new invocation Nightmares Made Real in the Complete Mage, but very little does. While you may only cast one Chilling Fog at a time, this really does a number on melee types, tying them up and dealing damage to them. With a big enough breath weapon, you don’t even need Voidsense to hit them in the fog, either - just breathe on the radius of the effect If you’ve got more enemies to deal with, Chilling Fog frees you up to concentrate on them. If you’ve only got one, Chilling Fog will keep him locked in place while you breathe him to death. This is the first greater invocation anyone should get, without question.
Devour Magic (1~2): Sadly, though this is a higher-level variant of Voracious Dispelling, ultimately it loses to its younger sibling. Voracious Dispelling can be used at range, which, if you haven’t intuited it from what I’ve written so far, is one of the DFA’s greatest allies. Devour Magic, on the other hand, requires you to TOUCH your target - something you never want to be close enough to be able to do It does give you temporary HP equal to 5 times the level of the dispelled effect, which can be very handy for fueling your uses of some of the nastier breath effects (like Fivefold Breath, for instance). Still, this is no Mordenkainen’s disjunction, and anything that requires you to be right next to your target is something you should be hesitant to rely on.
Draconic Toughness (4): This is an amazingly good, solid invocation. This gives you temporary HP equal to your caster level. The trick is, you can re-cast it, effectively “filling up” your temporary HP “battery” each time. Multiple castings don’t stack, so it doesn't allow limitless HP, but they do re-set the amount of temporary HP. In other words, you can always heal your temporary HP back to full. This is a necessity for off-setting HP loss if you’re going to use Fivefold Breath or Bahamut’s Breath, and an all-around groovy choice for any character.
Terrifying Roar (4*): This panics creatures that fail their save and shakes those that don’t. The really nice thing is that even the shaken creatures can’t attack you (or cast at you), meaning you can stop whole packs from attacking (provided the targets aren’t immune to fear or mind-affecting effects). Very useful. The score goes down, however, in fear-immune-enemy-heavy campaigns (see the description of the Least invocation Frightful Presence for details) to a 1.
Wingstorm (2): This is another one of those invocations with great potential that is ruined by the details. First of all, you have to have Draconic Flight or Greater Draconic Flight active to use this invocation. When you use it, all creatures within 20 feet are knocked to 25 feet away and rendered prone. If they make a Fortitude save, niether effect affects them. If they’re more than one size category larger than you, they’re immune. Anything that hits an obstacle as it’s being pushed takes 2d6 damage. Once again - very nice, but most enemies you meet when you’re 11th level or higher have decent Fortitude saves and/or are really, really big. Moreover, the Dragonfire Adept has access to much more effective movement/tactical control effects, including Entangling Exhalation and Slow Breath (not to mention Chilling Fog ). I would go for Chilling Fog and Draconic Toughness before I considered this one.
Greater Draconic Flight (3): This adds 30 feet to your fly speed (which is equal to your land speed) and gives you perfect maneuverability. You can get the same from the feats Improved Flight and Improved Speed or Air Heritage applied to Draconic Flight, however. Even if you do plan to get this, it probably shouldn’t be the first dark invocation you grab - the other options are just too juicy If you’re starting at high levels, however, you might want this instead of Draconic Flight to ensure speed and precision.
Energy Immunity (5): This is a must-have - I’d get it before anything else. What’s obnoxious at high levels? Energy attacks. With this invocation, you can shift your defenses so that any one of the major energy types (fire, cold, lightning, acid, and sonic) can’t hurt you. Every time you re-cast it, you can choose another. If you want to go dragon hunting, grab this and laugh. Entagle the big lug and watch it try to catch you, then stick your tongue out when it breathes and does no damage.
Instill Vulnerability (3): Very handy when used well, this increases the damage done to a given target by a given energy type by 50%. When in a party of arcane casters, this makes you everyone’s best friend - you cast it, they unleash with heavy-hitting spells that now deal a ton more damage. Of course, it only works on targets within 30 feet, the effect is negated with a Fortitude save, and it can’t break through immunities. This can make it unreliable. In addition, it does require an action to cast, taking away one round of possible damage.
Perilous Veil (2): This allows you to cast veil, as the spell, at will, disguising your entire party to appear differently. If something sees through the disguise your party is in, it takes 5d6 damage (SR helps resist this damage). Good, but not great - especially not compared with Energy Immunity, for instance. As a greater invocation, this might have been decent, but as a dark invocation, it’s a waste. Pass on this.
Breath Effects Edit
Breath effects are what make Dragonfire Adepts truly shine, and separate them from Dragon Shamans and Warlocks into a truly unique category all their own. The following effects will also be scored from 1 to 5 as the invocations were. An important thing to note is that a DFA only receives one at 2nd, 5th, 10th, 12th, 15th, and 20th levels, and cannot “swap” effects - once one is chosen, it’s permanent. This means choosing the right effect is crucial, and selecting effects that don’t lose power over subsequent levels is a primary concern for a DFA. This means you receive one 2nd level effect, two of 5th or 2nd, two of 10th or lower, and two of 15th or lower.
2ND LEVEL Edit
Frost Breath (4): This lets you deal cold damage in a cone shape instead of fire. Handy not only for fire resistant enemies but also for clearing land without setting forest fires
Lightning Breath (3): Lets you deal electricity damage in a line instead of fire damage. Line effects, while useful, ultimately affect fewer targets.
Sickening Breath (3): This one lets you sicken creatures in a cone for 2 rounds on a failed Fort save, 1 on a successful save. Sickening is a -2 to attack, damage, saves, skill and ability checks. Only works on living creatures, of course, and has a pretty limited duration. If it lasted longer, this would be nasty with Entangling Exhalation, but its duration is rather unimpressive. If sickens could stack and make a creature nauseated, this might be worth it. It can also work wonders if you’ve got a caster in your party with Escalating Enfeeblement from Complete Mage.
5TH LEVEL Edit
Acid Breath (3): This is a handy damage type to have around, and will help a ton with melting objects. Door annoying you? Melt it into slag
Shaped Breath (1): Not worth it. This lets you create up to 4 squares of “safe haven” in your breath effect. Of course, if you’ve got Endure Exposure, your whole team is already safe from the effect. An argument has been made that this might be worth it if you’re trying to save some innocents who are being held in the line of fire by baddies. Breath effects are, however, extremely limited - you only receive a scant few over your levels, and thus it behooves you to choose them carefully. If you’ve got hostages to save, use Slow Breath - it won’t hurt the innocents and it will cripple the bad guys.
Slow Breath (5++): Oh . . . my . . . GAWD Why would you take any other 5th level breath effect? WHY? Creatures within your cone of breath are slowed, as the spell, for two rounds on a failed Fort save (one on a successful save). This makes you an incredible support caster, as you can keep enemies from taking full round actions and keep them off your friends and allies backs. Hooah.
Weakening Breath (4): This comes a close second to Slow breath, imposing a -6 penalty to the Strength score of any enemy in the cone of effect for 4 rounds on a failed save, 2 rounds on a successful one. The big hit here is that it’s a penalty, meaning even undead are affected Of course, multiple breaths don’t stack, so no crippling your enemies into the dirt. Of course, in a party with a monk who has Weakening Touch, a martial adept with Strength-draining Strike, or an arcane caster with Ray of Enfeeblement, this gets snazzy.
10TH LEVEL Edit
Cloud Breath (1): Meh. You can make your breath a cloud instead of a cone. Who cares? If you’re in the midst of a big crowd of enemies, you’re doing something wrong. Skip
Enduring Breath (3): Now we’re talking. Make everything in your breath weapon’s effect take ½ initial damage in the second round. Very handy for the levels before you get your breath weapon “nuke” (Fivefold Breath of Tiamat). There’s also a combo that can make this little gem pretty sexy (see the Combo section for details).
Sleep Breath (4*): Good. Anything that fails a Will save goes to sleep for a round, opening up the possibility of slaughtering it with a quadruple damage coup-de-grace hit from a weapon like a pick or a scythe. Anything that succeeds is instead exhausted for a round, which is a very nice effect in and of itself, and can be useful against stronger enemies. Of course, in a campaign against sleep/Fortitude save-resitant/immune critters, this one loses its effect and becomes a 1. Check the combos section for more on Sleep Breath’s uses.
Thunder Breath (4): Oooooh. Now here’s a really choice pick: this lets you deal sonic damage in a cone. Sonic damage not only crushes objects, but is the least common resistance on major enemies in the game. In other words, this effect will tear right through most critters, including the ones that manage to resist cold, fire, lightning, or acid.
15TH LEVEL Edit
Discorporating Breath of Bahamut (1): What a disappointment. Once again, as we all learned from watching GI Joe and Transformers, the bad guys not only look cooler but are ten times as buff. Where evil Adepts get the tactical nuke of Fivefold Breath, good ones get the disappointing Breath of Bahamut, which, though it deals untyped damage and does 1.5 times the normal amount, does so in a LINE. Sigh. It also auto-kills anything at 0 HP. So what. If it’s at 0 HP, chances are you’re not worried about it. Moreover it deals twice your class level in damage to you and you can’t prevent the damage with DR or “any similar benefit.” If you’re not good, it deals quadruple your class level in damage. Finally, you can’t use it on two consecutive rounds. Bah humbug.
Force Breath (4): This is a hard one to pass up. Incorporeal and ethereal foes are obnoxious, and this lets your nail them without breaking a sweat. Useful. The same effect, however, can be had with a potion of Ethereal Breath for only 2,250 gold, so I would suggest choosing something else.
Paralyzing Breath (2): Paralyze enemies in a cone. Sounds awesome until you realize that a successful Fort save negates the effect and that it only lasts for one round on a failed save anyway.
Fivefold Breath of Tiamat (5): Hold me closer, 5-headed mistress This is so sexy it deserves its own theme music. You breathe three cones and two lines, each of a different energy type, each dealing your breath weapon’s FULL DAMAGE. Very hot, very sexy. Of course, it does do twice your class level in damage when you use it (quadruple if you’re not evil), and you can’t use it on two consecutive rounds. Ow. Still worth it.
Master Spellthief (Complete Scoundrel): Due to the wording of this lovely feat, you can use it to build the ultimate roguey DFA. Not only does this lovely little feat allow you, for the low-low price of a single feat, to ultimately have the ability to steal (with a sneak attack) 9th level spells (or take them from a willing target as a standard action), it also allows you to cast in light armor! Whoopee! Throw on Able Learner and you can act as the party's trapfinder, too! See the builds section for more on this awesome new feat's use in a complete build.
Dragon Wings/Improved Dragon Wings (Races of the Dragon): You can pick this up at 1st level to add flavor to your character if you want to. Since flight can be gained through an invocation, however, this is ultimately a wasted feat. The one exception is when you’re building a Scout/Dragonfire Adept and you don’t want to go all the way to 6th level in the Dragonfire Adept class to pick up Draconic Flight.
Steady Concentration (Races of Stone): This very handy feat lets you take 10 on all Concentration checks. Since invocations do have somatic components and can provoke Aoos, this can help you auto-succeed on checks to avoid those in close combat. You shouldn’t be in close combat, of course, but in case you end up there, this can help.
Darkstalker (Lords of Madness): If you’re planning a sneaky Dragonfire Adept, this is an incredibly useful feat. With it, even enemies with blindsense, blindsight, scent, or tremorsense can’t automatically detect you when you’re hidden (or invisible ), and moreover they have to make a Listen or Spot check (whichever DC is higher ) to attempt to discern your location. Paired with the Walk Unseen invocation this can make for a very fun, very sneaky DFA.
Furious Inhalation (Races of the Dragon): Interesting if you want to try a Barbarian build. You’ll need some levels in a class or template that gives you a bite (I suggest two levels of Totemist or using a Longtooth Shifter as a base race), but then you can add 2d6 energy to your bite when you rage. Useful if you design around the ability (something like a Dragonfire Adept 2/Totemist 2/Barbarian 2/Fighter 1/Totem Rager 10 would work), but otherwise give this a pass. Your breath weapon will continue to be useful at later levels if you pick up Entangling Exhalation, too
Exhaled Barrier (Races of the Dragon): This lets you create a 10 foot wall of energy for 1d4 rounds that deals damage equal to your breath weapon to creatures that pass through it. This feat does have some significant limitations to work around, however. When you breathe, you may create a vertical wall that is 10 feet by 10 feet that extends from any corner of your square. It’s that last piece that really kills it. Not only are you prevented from stacking this with something like Entangling Exhalation, but you can’t use it at range and you can’t use it to block yourself off too effectively. Nonetheless, this can be especially useful in dungeons, and if you pair this with the Endure Elements invocation you can do some interesting stuff (see the Combos section, below). As a final note, the wall is opague, so it can offer defensive cover if you need it.
Exhaled Immunity (Races of the Dragon): This grants an adjacent ally immunity to the energy type of your breath weapon for 1d4 rounds after you breathe. This can be pretty impressive when you load on several different energy types through breath effects - essentially, you can grant immunity to an energy type for 1d4 rounds to any of your allies. The drawback is, of course, that it costs a standard action - which in combat is a precious thing. The Endure Elements invocation allows you to grant your allies immunity to your breath weapon all day. Both have their uses, but the d4 rounds of duration plus the sacrifice of a round in combat make Exhaled Immunity worth, all in all, less.
Entangling Exhalation (Races of the Dragon): Arguably the single best feat for any Dragonfire Adept, hands down. This makes your breath weapon into a battlefield control device, and is especially effective at early levels. Anything that takes damage from your breath weapon (which deals ½ damage when this feat is applied) is automatically entangled (which means that without evasion, anything you breathe on will get tripped up) for 1d4 rounds. Entangling imposes some impressive penalties: a -4 to Dex, -2 to attacks, halves the target’s speed, makes them unable to run or charge, and makes targets roll a DC 15 Concentration check to cast spells. Moreover, each round they remain entangled they take 1d6 damage - and multiple uses stack. At 1st level this makes your sustained damage capacity huge, and at later levels the battlefield control remains handy for tying enemies up. A must-have.
Ability Focus (Monster Manual, Complete Arcane): Another must-have. A +2 to the DC of an ability is nothing to sneeze at, and since every breath effect still counts as being your breath weapon the DC improvement will apply to any use. You may want to get this for particular invocations as well, depending on your build.
Reverberation (Savage Species): The Dragonfire Adept has access to several sonic-based invocations and one sonic breath effect (Thunder Breath). Reverberation stacks with Ability Focus and adds another +2 to the DC.
Snake Blood (Forgotten Realms - Campaign Setting/Player's Guide) + Cobra Hood (Forgotten Realms - Serpent Kingdoms): The first of these two gives you access to the second. The second gives you an inflatable cobra hood which, apart from looking freaky, gives you a +2 on Intimidate checks and a +1 to the DC of all fear-based spells, spell-like abilities, and effects you create. If you're bound and determined to do a terrifying DFA, this could add some flavor and a little effect; personally, I don't think the boost is worth two feats.
Dragonwrought (Draconomicon): This feat, available only at 1st level, allows you to play a Dragonwrought kobold - a kobold with the full dragon type. This opens up some interesting feat combinations, but also helps offset the otherwise prohibitive stat modifiers for a lizard (-2 Con and a -4 Strength ). How, you ask? A popular fact about Dragonwrought kobolds on the age table on p. 39 of Races of the Dragon informs the reader that Dragonwrought kobolds receive no attribute penalties for age. This means a “very old” Dragonwrought kobold, who still has a looooooong life ahead of him, has a massive +3 to Int, Wis, and Cha - and no attending penalties to Str, Con, or Dex
Improved Speed (Draconomicon): This feat is phenomenal, especially given all the advantages that greater mobility gives a Dragonfire Adept. This adds 10 feet to your land speed and 20 to your flight. However, as the flight speed of a Dragonfire Adept is based on land speed, you can net 30 feet of flight speed with this single feat (depending on if your DM allows the logic). Unfortunately, only dragons can pick up this feat, which makes it limited to use by Dragonwrought kobolds. It also requires 13 strenght, which makes it even harder to qualify for.
Flyby Attack (Monster Manual): Anything that lets you strafe your enemies with your breath weapon keeps you safe. Get this feat. The only reason you might not want it would be that you spend most of your time standing next to a character with huge reach and Stand Still or Knockback who guards you against melee attacks.
Great Flyby Attack (Savage Species): This is a fantastic feat for Scout multiclassing This lets you attack a number of targets equal to your Dex mod in a straight line without taking Aoos from any of them, which can be amazingly effective if you’re fighting a lot of enemies and have something to up your damage (like skirmish ). Pair with Weapon Finesse and Shadow Blade from Tome of Battle, and you can streak through crowds dealing impressive skirmish damage. The new feats in Complete Scoundrel can make you even more effective at this.
Improved Flyby Attack (Savage Species): This ensures that you’ll never suffer Aoos when strafing. That said, you most likely won’t get close enough to targets to suffer Aoos, so this feat is of questionable use.
Draconic Senses (Dragon Magic): A Dragonfire Adept can use an invocation to get blindsense, but if you’re getting other Draconic feats this allows you to save the slot for another invocation. This feat gives you low-light vision and a bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks equal to the number of your Draconic feats. Moreover, with three Draconic feats you get darkvision, and with four total (this one included ) you get blindsense.
Draconic Knowledge (Dragon Magic): This enhances your Knowledge skills by adding a +1 un-named bonus for every Draconic feat you have. If you’re looking to build a Scholar (see the Builds section, below), this is a fun one to have.
Draconic Knowledge (Draconomicon): That’s right - it has the same name as the previous feat. WotC really needs to hire some decent editors/proof-readers . . . (points to himself, waving frantically). An interesting ability that requires a prohibitive 19 in Intelligence and the Dragonwrought Kobold feat to take. This lets you make the equivalent of bardic knowledge checks, and does some impressive stuff when paired with other Dragonfire Adept abilities (see the Combos section).
Draconic Aura (Dragon Magic): The Energy aura is incredibly useful, allowing you to up the DC on a particular breath weapon (of a given energy type) by +4 Of course, the aura won’t work on some of the best breath types (Bahamut’s, Tiamat’s, and Force), but there are ways to use this aura to your advantage (see the Combo section, below). Moreover, the Energy aura ups the DC on the saves for your spellcasting friends’ spells of the same energy type, leading to a very nice party synergy. The Senses aura gives up to a +4 to initiative, Listen, and Spot checks, and the Insight aura improves Knowledge, Decipher Script, and Spellcraft checks. Good stuff, all.
Double Draconic Aura (Dragon Magic): If you’re planning to grab a couple of auras, this feat is for you. This lets you apply the effects of two auras at once, which is incredibly handy.
Trivial Knowledge (Races of Stone): This is a gnomish godsend, and is particularly effective when paired with the Draconic Knowledge invocation. This allows you to re-roll any Knowledge check, making you a party shcolar extroardinaire. If you like playing know-it-alls, this one’s for you, baby.
Bind Vestige + Improved Bind Vestige + Practiced Binder (Tome of Magic): There are a couple of options here that are just too juicy to pass up. If you’re planning on front-lining it, you can’t go wrong with all three of these feats and Dahlver Nahr, who can grant you ½ your Con bonus to AC (in addition to making you immune to Wisdom damage and insanity). This is particularly nice if you’re playing a truly Con-heavy breath-weapon focused DFA, like a Dragonborn Mongrelfolk. On the other hand, just picking up Bind Vestige and Improved Bind Vestige gets you access to Focalor’s Aura of Sadness, which lays down an impressive -2 to a target’s saves, attacks, AC, and skill checks when they’re adjacent to you This is not to be scoffed at, especially when stacked with Entangling Exhalation for a very sexy -4 to AC, -4 to melee attacks, -6 to ranged attacks (and finesse attacks), -4 to Reflex saves, and -2 to all other saves Finally there’s Naberius, who with just Bind Vestige and Practiced Binder gets you skill mastery in both Diplomacy and Bluff. Hooah.
Scorpion’s Resolve (Sandstorm): This is a feat that deserves mention for any character build. This feat is essentially “Iron Will plus,” granting a +4 to saves vs. mind-affecting spells and abilities. The perfect choice for a truly hard-headed, arrogant DFA.
Expeditious Dodge (Races of the Wild): If you’re planning on using Flyby Attack and a decent fly speed (40 feet or more per round), this will improve your AC by 2 while you make your strafing runs. Not shabby at all for helping you avoid your enemies
Aerial Reflexes (Races of the Wild): If you’re going to fly, this will grant you a bonus to Reflex saves while flying that can be quite significant, covering for what is otherwise a low save for Dragonfire Adepts. Perfect maneuverability gets you a +4 in the air, good a +3, average a +2, and poor a +1. Not shabby.
Aerial Superiority (Races of the Wild): Grants a +1 dodge bonus to AC while in the air against non-flying opponents or flying ones with lower maneuverability. All in all, not phenomenal - but not entirely worthless, either, if AC is what you feel you need most.
Sociable Personality (Races of Destiny): The only reason to ever play a Half-Elf. This can make you the consummate diplomat by allowing you to re-roll Diplomacy and Gather Information checks. Very nice on a slick DFA build with a Charisma-focus.
Spring Attack (Player’s Handbook): This is a substitute for Flyby Attack and isn’t as good - it costs 2 feats to get. If you’re bound and determined not to fly (WHY?), you could pick this up. Don’t.
Improved Flight (Complete Adventurer): If you don’t plan on picking up the Greater Draconic Flight invocation, this will allow you to get perfect maneuverability with the Lesser invocation, Dragon’s Flight. Of course, you can get the same effect from an item that costs only 12,000 gold (see the Items section, below). Pass on this.
Frightful Presence (Draconomicon): This has some very nice applications with the Dragonfire Adept’s class abilities (see Combos), and adds to your overal draconic feel.
Dragonfire Strike (Dragon Magic): If you’re planning on playing a Scout or Rogue build, this will add 1d6 to your skirmish or sneak attack and turn it into fire damage. Very flavorful, very effective. A great option for multiclassers.
Extra Invocation (Complete Arcane): This one’s kind of a “gimme.” You gain the use of an invocation of any level up to one lower than your current highest (meaning you can’t take it before 6th level). This allows you greater flexibility and greater effectiveness when choosing your invocations, and ultimately makes for a better character. If your DM is picky about the letter of the law but not the spirit, you can also technically make the argument that this feat would allow you to pick up Warlock invocations as well. Of course, the Sage has made a ruling about “Extra Spell” that suggests that this wouldn’t be kosher, but until it’s been officially errata’ed, I’d say go for it.
Able Learner (Races of Destiny): This one lets humans pay only one skill point per rank for all skills, cross-class or not. If you multiclass with one level of something like Rogue, this can translate in being able to have full ranks in tons of handy skills (Hide, Move Silently, Disable Device, Open Locks, etc.), and can allow you to be the party trap-finder, lock-opener, and all-around Swiss Army Knife.
Dragon Cohort (Draconomicon): This is mostly for flavor, but can be very fun nonetheless. This feat gets you a better than normal Leadership-style cohort, which has to (incidentally) be a dragon. Depending on how your DM runs things (the Draconomicon is full of obnoxious rules that make dragons, all ready a mediocre cohort at best, even more annoying to take care of), this can be a fun way to amplify your draconic flavor and give your party an extra helping . . . erm . . . breath.
Draconic Prophecy + Craft Wand + Prophecy’s Artifex (Magic of Eberron): Craft Wand can be more-or-less a wasted feat on a DFA, since you won’t be able to fulfill most of the spellcasting requirements to actually MAKE the kind of wands you want to use. The ability to activate a wand once per round as a SWIFT ACTION, however, is frankly amazing! The cost in feats is heavy, but the benefit is very nearly worth it. Nothing says loving like being able to cast a wand spell, move, AND breathe all in the same round!
Dual Wand Wielder (Complete Arcane): This one has some hefty prerequisites (including Craft Wand, which is annoying for the reasons stated above), but activating two wands in a single turn can change a complete rout into a victory for your party. DFAs who have to play the healer for their compatriots by using wands will find this one VERY useful. All in all, however, this loses out to Prophecy’s Artifex - if your DM doesn’t allow the Eberron books, though, it can play a similar role.
Breath of Syberis (Dragonmarked): This is my new favorite DFA feat Okay, maybe not my FAVORITE, but it sure as hell ain’t shabby! Add 1d6 to your breath weapon if you have a standard dragonmark. If, on the other hand, you’ve got a Syberis Mark (which you can only get with a level dip into Heir of Syberis, available from 13th level - perhaps best to wait until 15th, so you can then pick up Breath of Tiamat at 16th) you can whip out an impressive +2d6. This, of course, turns into +4d6 on Bahamut’s Breath and a whopping +10d6 on Tiamat’s - shazam!
Improved Draconic Aura (Dragonmarked): As a swift action, you can grant up to a +4 bonus to the effect of any of your draconic auras for a round by spending an action point. This can be nicely optimized with certain auras, but you have to have a good idea of which you want to use. This feat also requires you to invest rather heavily in Dragonmark feats in order to reap its full benefit, so you have to be certain there's an aura you want to improve before you take it.
Mark of Stars (Dragonmarked): If you're doing an Heir of Syberis build, you can't go wrong with this one! This grants you a +2 insight bonus to AC and saves, and also guarantees that you will NEVER be surprised or flat-footed. Since the text specifically states NEVER, that means you can sleep in peace and never risk being thugged! Granted, Heir of Syberis is a late-levels PrC, but this is quite a choice, flavorful feat if you're into it.
Least Aberrant Dragonmark, Mark of Madness, Mark of Xoriat (Eberron Campaign Setting, Dragonmarked): Achievable by 3rd level, this string of feats can benefit any character. The third in the series grants DR 5/beshyk, which is a rare enough material that almost no enemies will be able to overcome it.
Orien Battle Stride (Dragonmarked): Another Mark of Syberis trick. If you've got a Syberis Mark of Passage (which gives you a Greater Teleport spell-like ability once per day), this lovely gem allows you to take a free 5-foot step (which, of course, doesn't provoke Aoos) whenever an enemy misses you. This is amazingly handy for negating melee types - if they miss with ANY of their attacks, you get to 5-foot step and move OUT OF RANGE, ruining their full attack action! Fun and slick.
Combos and Tricks Edit
Oil Flasks + Entangling Exhalation: I’ll start with a very fun, very low-level trick that can be of use from first level to any party with a DFA in it. Make sure everyone carries multiple flasks of oil. Now, after you “napalm” an enemy with Entangling Exhalation, everyone can chuck a flaks of oil at the enemy as a ranged touch attack (which, at first level, can be very helpful in ensuring hits - especially for caster characters ). Since the target’s all ready burning, the oil is guaranteed to be set off, dealing damage as alchemist’s fire (1d6 fire damage plus another 1d6 the following roung). With an entire party chucking oil, this can add up to one very toasty critter (½ of 1d6 from the breath weapon + 1d6 x number of party members the first round, 2d6 breath weapon + 2d6 x number of party members the second round).
UMD (Wand of Shield Other) + Draconic Toughness: You take 1/2 a party member's damage, and get to refill your temporary HP whenever you start to take real damage. Great way to make yourself useful against energy-immune creatures, or hard-hitting monsters. NOTE: Credit for this goes to JamesWilliamBoggle!
Instill Vulnerability + Walk Unseen: Though Instill Vulnerability can be obnoxious to use once combat has begun, it works phenomenally well in a surprise round. Normally Instill Vulnerability wastes an action in combat, but Walk Unseen can mean that you use your surprise round to get the jump on a single baddy (usually the scariest) and soften it up for subsequent breath-weapon hits. Especially nice if you’ve got an arcane caster or two in the party with energy spells of the appropriate type prepared!
Prophecy’s Artifex + Wand of Breath Weapon Spell: Prophecy’s Artifex, a feat from Magic of Eberron with some hefty prerequisites (see the Feats section for details), can let you use a wand a quickened action each round for a limited duration. This can allow you to lay down some impressive effects, such as admixture (for double damage ), substitution (to vary energy type to avoid enemy immunities), enervation (to give an enemy 2d4 negative levels with a breath ), stunning, etc. The cost of some of these wands can be prohibitive, though, so choose your timing carefully and don’t waste charges.
Instill Vulnerability + Enduring Breath + Draconic Aura: Energy: This is a nice one. Instill Vulnerability makes your breath weapon do 50% more damage to your target, which means Enduring Breath also does 50% more damage on a subsequent round. The Energy Aura adds another +4 to your breath weapon’s DC, which is incredibly significant and means most enemies will have a hard time avoiding it. Furthermore, if you’re in a party with casters you can have them prepare spells of the same energy type, making their spells both deal more damage and harder to resist. Since Instill Vulnerability only works on a single target at a time, this is best for big enemies. Technically speaking, Instill Vulnerability is really not the best of the Dark Invocations unless you’re passing up Fivefold Breath of Tiamat, but if you are, this combo makes your 9d6 weapon deal 13-81 damage the first round (instead of 9-54) and 9-60 the second (instead of 4-27). Since multiple breaths will stack, this means you’ll be doing 22-141 the second round and each subsequent round, effectively. Still, this doesn’t come close to Fivefold Breath’s 45-270 damage for a single round. Since you do have to wait a round before employing Fivefold Breath again, however, and since it deals damage to you, you may want to consider using this combination instead.
Exhaled Barrier + Walk Unseen + Endure Elements: This one is tricky and can be quite nasty, and it’s my new favorite combo. Invisibility de-activates when you “attack” a foe, which the SRD further qualifies as including “any spell targeting a foe or whose area or effect includes a foe.” This means that if you breathe an energy wall that doesn’t actually hit a foe, you are technically not attacking and can remain invisible. In other words, you can stay invisible for an entire combat and waltz across the battlefield, throwing down energy walls as barriers to keep your enemies trapped like rats in a maze. If you have pre-cast Endure Elements on your allies, they’re all immune to the energy damage the walls cause, meaning that they can move freely about the battefield without fear of getting hurt. If you want to make this even sillier, use the Enduring Breath effect to make each wall deal damage twice - once when the enemy walks through it, then ½ that damage again on the following round. Alternatively, do this with Slow Breath, Weakening Breath, or the like - the Exhaled Barrier feat stipulates that “if your breath weapon doesn’t deal damage, the wall does 2d6 fire damage.” In other words, you can get a breath weapon effect like Slow or Sleep AND deal damage at the same time This can be a ferocious combo, especially in dungeons or places where mobility and movement are otherwise limited. Throw on an Eversmoking Bottle and Voidsense if you want to get really nasty, and you’ll be able to dance around in a cloud of smoke making walls for your enemies to stumble blindly through.
Voidsense + Eversmoking Bottle: The thing that’s interesting about your Breath Weapon is that it doesn’t require an attack roll. This means that if you know the square an opponent is occupying, you can breathe on that opponent - in effect, concealment means nothing to you if you have blindsense. Using an Eversmoking Bottle is an excellent way to take advantage of this, giving yourself full concealment while using Voidsense to wreak havoc on your enemies.
Exhaled Barrier + Chilling Fog: This one is a cool combo that Gerdeg's little thread brought to my attention. Lay down a Chilling Fog, then start layering different 10 foot breath-weapon walls throughout the fog. Your targets can barely move, and when they do they end up taking full damage from stepping into a wall and then full damage again in the next round (since they can only take 5 foot steps). A very nasty nobbling combo. This is, of course, limited by the fact that your walls can only be cast 10 feet from you, meaning you’ll either need a friend to cast Freedom of Movement on you (or get it from an item) or be willing to spend a lot of time dancing around the edges of your cloud.
Chilling Fog + Spring Attack/Flyby Attack + Voidsense + Freedom of Movement: This is a nasty one for Scout/Unseen Seer builds. You cast a Chilling Fog, limiting your foe’s mobility. Now you proceed to use Freedom of Movement to dart in, jab your foe with a skirmish strike, and dart out. You don’t even need cold resistance or immunity for this, since the cold damage dealt by Chilling Fog is applied to creatures who start their turn inside its radius. This is very cinematic - think the end scene in Gangs of New York where Daniel Day Lewis cuts Leonardo di Caprio into pieces by darting by him in the mist. Wish he’d actually done him in . . .
Chilling Fog + Bind Vestige + Improved Bind Vestige + Entangling Exhalation + Energy Resistance/Immunity: This one’s also fun. With Focalor’s Aura of Sadness, your enemy will take a -2 to almost all rolls. With Entangling Exhalation, that gets amplified. Step into the fog with your enemy, and you can garuantee that you’ll be standing next to him when you breathe each round, giving him a -4 to AC, attacks, damage, Reflex saves, ability checks, skill checks, and a -2 to Fort and Will saves. Add on that you won’t be hurt by your own fog’s cold damage, and this can annoy the ever-loving crap out of bad guys. Especially those with reach weapons - since they can’t hit you when you’re standing right next to them, they’ll only be able to manage a single attack each round. If you really want to get silly, throw on Humanoid Shape and turn into a Troglodyte, using your Stench to sicken your target in addition to all the other big save penalties!
Draconic Flight/Greater Draconic Flight + Improved Speed/Air Heritage + Flyby Attack: Improved Speed is incredible - with a single feat, your land speed improves by 10 feet and your fly speed by 20. The interesting thing about this is that technically your base fly speed, as determined by Draconic Flight, is equal to your land speed - meaning that with one feat, your flight improves by 30 feet per round. Air Heritage is another way to grab 30 feet of flight speed, and doesn’t require the Dragonwrought feat and the kobold race. Flyby Attack has obvious application with your breath weapon, letting you stay out of harm’s way and strafe your opponents.
Slow Breath + Entangling Exhalation: This combo makes you one of the most incredible battlefield control casters out there. Your Slow Breath works for 2 rounds if they fail a save - and one if they don’t! In other words, if you breathe on a target, it is GARUANTEED to be slowed for a round (unless it’s hasted, in which case you remove its buff), giving it a -1 to AC and attacks and limiting it to either a partial or move action each turn The best part is that even teleporting characters will have trouble with you - after all, though their movement won’t be slowed by entanglement, limiting their action choices will make them suffer. Alternate this with Entangling Exhalation and all but incorporeal enemies will be completely locked down, unable to effectively defend themselves or mount any significant attack.
Chilling Fog + Energy Resistance/Energy Immunity + Voidsense: Chilling Fog gives you a solid fog spell that deals 2d6 cold damage per round. Though you can only have one of these in effect at any given time, this is still a huge crowd control option, allowing you to stop dead the progress of anything that can’t teleport or dimension door and has a body.
Draconic Toughness/Iron Heart Endurance + Fivefold Breath of Tiamat: Draconic Toughness gives you HP equal to your caster level with each use. This is excellent for using in the off-rounds when you can’t use your Fivefold Breath to help heal the damage taken from each use. Draconic Aura - Vigor will add on fast healing 4 whenever you’re below ½ hit points, giving you even more security. The Iron Heart Endurance maneuver from Tome of Battle is another way to build up HP in the off-rounds, and can be coupled with Draconic Toughness to almost totally offset the damage cost of Fivefold Breath.
Charm + Enthralling Voice + Beguiling Influence: Now you can Charm to make a creature friendly, make a Diplomacy check (DC 20) to make it helpful, then use Enthralling Voice to make it fanatical. This works well if you grab that auto-language learning feat (PHBII or Races of Destiny?) or go telepathic with a level of Mindbender.
Aura of Flame + Draconic Aura: Energy Shield: Aura of Flame is generally not the most impressive invocation, giving you a fire shield effect against non-reach and natural weapons that deals damage equal to your caster level. As SR applies, this becomes rather ineffective at higher levels. One way to synergize this effect, however, is to add on Draconic Aura - Energy Shield, which adds up to 8 more damage of an energy type of your choice (and makes it so that other characters within your aura also deal damage when hit). Useful if you’ve decided to make a melee variant of the Dragonfire Adept (though why you would is beyond me ).
Frightful Presence + Frightful Presence: Two abilities with the same name? Well, yes - unfortunately, WoTC has been lax in naming the immense number of draconic-flavored feats, spells, and abilities they've been coming up with lately, which has resulted in a lot of repeat titles. The two abilities referred to here are an invocation and a feat from the Draconomicon. The invocation works as a swift action when you breathe, and the feat works whenever you attack. Now whenever you attack or breathe, enemies with equal or fewer HD are subject to two Will saves - if they fail one, they’re shaken; if they fail two, they’re frightened This gets really ridiculous when combined with Entangling Exhalation or Slow Breath and Endure Elements - you breathe and everything starts running away . . . sloooooowly. Your party runs in to mop the hobbled enemies up while you continue breathing. Hordes of living critters become chowder.
Flyby Attack/Greater Flyby Attack/Great Flyby Attack + Skirmish + Dragonfire Strike: An amazingly effective way to deliver skirmish hits is by air. In particular, Great Flyby Attack lets you hit a large number of targets on a single flying pass as well.
Weakening Breath + Sleep Breath: If you use your Weakening Breath, your target gets a -6 penalty to Strength for either 2 or 4 rounds. If you then use Sleep breath, your target either passes out for a round (yay - coup de’ gracie time ) or gets exhausted, laying on another -6 to Strength. This means your enemy is either rendered helpless or weak as a kitten. Hooray
Weakening Breath + Draught of Gold Dragon Breath: Take that -6 penalty and add on another amount based on how your DM rules the Draught will work in your game. This can get silly, especially if you’re playing an ancient Dragonwrought kobold, who has an age category like all other dragons. A Dragonwrought kobold who was very old would get an extra 9 points of Strength damage. Stack on Sleep Breath (as in the previous combo) and this gets pretty gross. Take a caster to 0 Strength in one round, or just make that big ugly into a mid-BaB fighter with a lousy Strength score.
Sickening/Sleep Breath + Escalating Enfeeblement: This one’s a great combo for parties that include arcane casters. Sickening breath or sleep breath will sicken or exhaust most targets, and escalating enfeeblement deals more strength penalty based on that. This is a good combo to unload on big, strong enemies to pull them down to the melee fighters’ level (and sometimes even make them weaker ).
Themed Builds Edit
The Voice of the Dragon: This build revolves around using sonic and language-based attacks to create a character who speaks the ancient draconic words of power. Deafening Roar, Enthralling Voice, and Terrifying Roar are all sound-based, and Thunder Breath will allow you to further enhance your flavor. Good feat choices include Reverberation from Savage Species, which can increase the DC of any sonic-based attack you choose by another +2, stacking with Ability Focus.
The Nobbler: This is a top-notch battlefield control character. Use Chilling Fog to stop enemies dead and damage them, coupled with Slow Breath and Entangling Exhalation for any baddies unlucky enough to be outside your fog casting. Weakening + Sleep Breath is another fun combo for knocking out those big beefy enemies. If possible, be evil and use Fivefold Breath of Tiamat to blanket huge areas with your breath weapon, dealing massive damage to your crippled foes. Look to party with Aoo fighters and ranged casters, and revel in your ability to decimate crowds. Flight and Flyby attack will help garuntee that even should they eventually escape your invocations and breath effects, enemies will almost never be able to touch you.
The Sneak: The Sneak relies on invisibility and vision-clouding effects to avoid detection. Grab the Invisibility invocation and Voidsense. Now use an Eversmoking Bottle in combat to further ensure your enemies can’t find you Another very nice option is to pair Walk Unseen with Exhaled Barrier, to make an invisible “maze-layer” who confounds enemies and trips them up. To make you a more competent sneak, consider picking up the Darkstalker feat from Lords of Madness to make you immune to discovery even by creatures with blindsense, blindsight, or scent. Finally, pick up the feat Guerilla Warrior from the Miniatures handbook to make Hide and Move Silently cost only one skill point per rank. Another option is a level of Rogue (take the feat Rogue variant from Unearthed Arcana) and the Able Learner feat, which allows you to treat Hide and Move Silenlty as class skills. Now you can sneak just as well as the best rogues, and whether invisible or hidden in a cloud of smoke you’ll almost never risk detection. Since all of this can be achieved by 6th level, you can multiclass with Rogue if you like. Just be sure to grab Entangling Exhalation and Slow Breath so that even if you can’t deal sneak attack damage with it, your breath weapon retains its use as a de-buff and crowd control ability all the way ‘till 20th level.
The Scholar: This character taps into the ancestral knowledge of dragons to supply her party with all the scholarly support it could ever need. Pick up the invocation Draconic Knowledge and supplement it with the Draconic Knowledge feat. This allows you a total bonus of 6+Int+(# of Draconic feats) on every Knowledge check - and lets you make all Knowledge checks as though they’re trained. Good Draconic feats to improve this include Draconic Resistance (giving you energy reistance), Draconic Toughness (adding 2 HP for each Draconic feat), and Draconic Senses (giving you lowlight, darkvision, blindsense, and a bonus to Listen, Spot, and Search equal to the number of Draconic feats you have ). Another feat choice that really works with this concept is Draconic Aura - Insight, which adds up to another +4 to all Knowledge, Spellcraft, and Decipher Script checks. If you’re a Dragonwrought kobold and grab the ill-named Draconic Knowledge feat from the Draconomicon (yep, that’s 2 feats and one invocation with the same name, people ) you get the equivalent of a bardic knowledge check, too (though it does require your Int to be at least 19 - yeesh ). If you don’t want to over-invest in Int, you can always be a gnome - the feat Trivial Knowledge from Races of Stone will let you re-roll your Knowledge checks You can invest in Knowledge skills as well if you like, but your bonus will be enough that you can also choose to use them untrained and be incredibly effective. Keep your Decipher Script level maxed and your party will never want for a Bard
The Lord of Terror: This character likes to scare his prey. Take the Frightful Presence invocation and couple it with the Frightful Presence feat from the Draconomicon. Now whenever you attack or breathe, enemies with equal or fewer HD are subject to two Will saves - if they fail one, they’re shaken; if they fail two, they’re panicked At later levels Terrifying Roar lets you compound this effect. For flavor reasons, Baleful Geas is a nice choice as well (despite its limited use).
The Scout: This build focuses on being the party’s eyes and ears, alerting them to danger and dealing with it quickly. Flight is a must, and Improved Speed or Air Heritage and a Pectoral of Maneuverability will make you very fast at 6th level (until you pick up Greater Draconic Flight later on). Make sure to max Spot and Listen ranks, and pick up Draconic Aura - Senses to improve your already impressive sensory abilities (another +4 to each will make you nearly impossible to fool ). See the Unseen and Voidsense will allow you to detect even the most difficult to discover threats (apart from enemies with the Darkstalker feat ). Draconic Senses will add a +1 to Listen, Spot, and Search checks per Draconic feat, which can add up quickly if you’re investing heavily there, and gives you Blindsense if you have 4 total Draconic feats (which saves you the need to pick up Voidsense as an invocation). Quick Recconoiter from Complete Adventurer will add another +2 to your initiative and also allow you to make Listen and Spot checks as free actions every round. If you multiclass with Rogue or Scout, you can also grab trapfinding so that you cover all your party’s sensory needs. With Flyby Attack and Greater Flyby Attack, a Scout build becomes incredibly effective and entertaining, letting you alternate between hobbling breath effects (Entangling Exhalation and Slow Breath) and hard-hitting skirmish strikes. If you go this direction, pick up Dragonfire Strike to make your skirmish hits hurt more.
The Manipulator: This character is persuasive and suave, able to charm the pants off even the most ferocious opponent. Use Beguiling Influence to up your social skills, and couple this with the Charm/Enthralling Voice combo from the previous section. Consider taking a level of Mindbender to grab telepathy, so that you can command a charmed vassal more effectively and communicate with any opponent, regardless of language barriers. Being a Half-Elf also has benefits, as it lets you pick up Sociable Personality from Races of Destiny so that you can re-roll your Diplomacy checks. A single level of Marshal doubles your Cha bonus to social skills and gets you Skill Focus - Diplomacy. Another good single-level dip is Exemplar, which allows you to take 10 on a surprisingly large number of skills (and lets you add a +4 bonus to one of them ). Finally Bind Vestige and Practiced Binder can give you an auto 10 on Diplomacy and Bluff checks, making you James Bond and a half.
The Spy: This character uses the illusory abilities of his draconic ancestry to impersonate others. Humaoid Shape and Perilous Veil will let you and your party, respectively, impersonate nearly anything. Beguiling Influence and Enthralling Voice will help you in being convincing in your roles. Charm never hurts. Ultimately, this is a variant of the manipulator build, above.
The One-Man Party: This is a DFA designed to handle all of a party’s needs. A human with a one-level dip into Rogue and the Able Learner feat, this character can search for traps, disable them, and open locks. The Draconic Knowledge aura and invocation plus max ranks into the Decipher Script skill allow him to perform the function of a Bard as well, reading all the ancient texts a party comes across and know whatever random bits of knowledge the party needs access to as well. A decent Charisma, the Beguiling Influence and Charm invocations, and max ranks in Bluff, Diplomacy, and Gather Information make him a brilliant party face, able to convince almost anyone to put their weapons down and chat instead of fighting. Wands of Lesser Vigor and Cure Light Wounds allow him to play party healer, granting both in-combat and out-of-combat healing to all who need it. Spot and Listen ranks, See the Unseen, Voidsense, and Walk Unseen make him an incredible party scout, able to detect nearly anything and stay ahead of the party without risking too much. Entangling Exhalation, Slow Breath, Endure Elements, and Chilling Fog make him an excellent battlefield control caster, able to lock the opposition down without hindering his companions and keep casters, ranged warriors, and melee monsters alike at bay. The only role a DFA who multi-tasks like this has trouble covering is the melee tank role - apart from that, he’s the one-man party: capable of doing just about anything well and covering all the bases.
The Heir of Syberis: This Dragonfire Adept is an Eberron-specific, draconic-flavored masterpiece. 12 levels of Dragonfire Adept start the class off, with only one feat constraint - Heroic Spirit must be one of the character's feats. 13th level should be taken in the Heir of Syberis class, granting an extra spell-like ability usable once per day. 14th through 16th levels should be in DFA, again. At 15th level this character grabs Breath of Syberis, adding a whopping 2d6 to his breath weapon damage. At 16th, he has access to Fivefold Breath of Tiamat, which now, instead of dealing a maximum of 9d6 x 5 = 45d6 damage, deals a phenomenal 11d6 x 5 = 55d6 damage! After 16th level you can choose how you want to finish your build - two more levels of Heir of Syberis won't do any harm (it will advance your invocations and breath damage, after all), and of course a couple of Warblade levels can give you some nice defensive maneuvers (including Iron Heart Endurance for offsetting the HP cost of your Fivefold Breath). 18th level grants you yet another feat, which can be anything you like - Mark of Stars is a nice finisher to make your build complete, but you might want to grab Dragonmark Spellturning so you can deflect up to 7th level spells back at their caster. For a high-level build, this one's hard to beat - it's tough, it's strong, and the breath weapon is positively nuclear.
Multiclassing and Prestige Class Options Edit
The following list is by no means exhaustive, and there are many options for the enterprising optimizer that are out there. Some can be found posted on the old thread, here: http://boards1.wizards.com/showthread.php?t=751632. I have compiled this list as a set of suggestions rather than a proscriptive list of specific builds, and they should be viewed as such.
First, some words on multiclassing and PrCs as they apply to Dragonfire Adepts. As I’ve mentioned, the Dragonfire Adept is, in general, a class that rewards solid investment. It is a base class that is playable to 20th level without modification, and as such is, for the most part, more powerful without major multiclassing than with it. The major drawback to multiclassing and PrCs is that even though invocation-casting and breath-weapon damage can be improved by classes that provide “+1 level of spellcasting” or “+1 level of previous arcane spellcasting class,” they do NOT provide breath effects - the heart and soul of the effective DFA.
With that said, there are certain levels that do bear mentioning as “break-points” of a sort:
DFA Class Level Breakpoints Edit
DFA 1 or 2: With only a single level in DFA, you’ve got Dragontouched as a bonus feat, the ability to use Entangling Exhalation, and a single invocation (See the Unseen and Magical Insight stand out as excellent choices). This can be a good dip for a character planning on a prestige class that requires the dragonblood subtype (Hand of the Winged Masters, Dragon Descendant, etc.). Level 2 gets you
yet another invocation and a +2 to natural armor. Not a bad dip in all.
DFA 5: This allows you to pick up one of the truly effective breath effects such as Weakening Breath or Slow Breath, and is a decent investment if you’re planning to focus mainly on invocations by going into a 10 level “+1 caster level” class.
DFA 6: This grants you the use of one of the lesser invocations, some of which may be worth it. Once you’ve hit 6th level in DFA, however, other classes start to have diminishing returns when compared to investing more in DFA.
DFA 10: This is where your breath weapon’s range effectively doubles - a very important issue. Worth it.
DFA 15: Once you hit 15th level, you get your first of the highest tier of breath effects and can use the impressive Fivefold Breath of Tiamat. After this you could, if you chose, go into a “+1 caster level” class and not lose too much in the way of overall utility.
DFA 18: There is quite a bit to be gained by many 2 level dips: 2 levels of Rogue with Able Learner can make you a skill monkey as well as battlefield control caster, 2 levels of Totemist can improve your armor and mobility, 2 levels of Warblade at 19th and 20th can help you heal and resist enemy attacks, etc. 20th level does give you a final breath effect, which can be handy, but ultimately you have to weigh that extra effect against some of the other impressive abilities available from other classes. By 18th level you already have access to the last of your dark invocations, so the only thing you lose is immunity to paralysis and sleep (19th level ability) and the final breath effect mentioned above.
Without any further ado, here’s the list:
Changeling Rogue Substitution levels (1st) (Races of Eberron): This one is an interesting choice that has recently been pointed out. You can grab this to get mastery in social skills, and use the impressive array of social abilities available to a Changeling to make a very social Dragonfire Adept.
Daggerspell Mage (Complete Adventurer): This one doesn't synergize well with the DFA, but you can get into it.
Maester (Complete Adventurer): Yep, you can be a draconic gnomish crafter - weird, but possible! Kind of pointless, since you don't get access to most of the spells that would make you a good crafter.
Virtuoso (Complete Adventurer): Weird. If you can get yourself Perform as a class skill, you can get into this PrC at level 8. You'd be a very persuasive Draconic sort. You could even use this as a springboard for a Dragonsong Lyrist from the Draconomicon.
Acolyte of the Skin (Complete Arcane): This sucks, but you can get into it. If you want a Fiendish-flavored DFA, this does do the trick, but the abilities you gain for giving up ½ your caster levels aren’t worth the investment.
Blood Magus (Complete Arcane): Most of these abilities don't help an invocation user.
Enlightened Fist (Complete Arcane): Though this monk-flavored class gives you once-every-other level caster progression, almost all of its abilities rely on spells to work. This makes it a pretty worthless class for a DFA. If you want a draconic-flavored monk, the Dragon Descendant from Dragon Magic is better.
Green Star Adept (Complete Arcane): This could be interesting, actually - turn yourself into a construct and give yourself some neat abilities. Weird, but cool. The big question here is what happens to your breath weapon’s DC when you turn into a construct and lose your Con score - does it change to be based on Charisma, or do you just lose the DC boost? If your DM rules the latter, give this class a miss. If he rules the former, then the class can provide a way for you to get both your breath and invocations based on the same ability - Charisma. Ultimately this is more of a melee combat class, which isn’t really what a DFA is all about, but it could provide an interesting build if your designed with it in mind.
Wild Mage (Complete Arcane): Works, but not all that impressive. Once again you’ve got a class designed for spellcasters that has limited use for an invocation user. Not worth giving up breath effects for, methinks.
Evangelist (Complete Divine): Doesn't improve caster levels, but amplifies some of the more impressive social aspects of the DFA's abilities for a very charismatic character.
Ur-Priest (Complete Divine): You can get into this after 5 levels of DFA, then go into Eldritch Disciple. You'd have to take the non-blast divine gifts, of course, but it could still be a very entertaining character. Especially nice as it can allow you to get 9th level spellcasting by level 20 in addition to keeping your invocations effective.
Dragonslayer (Draconomicon): This improves your casting capacity along with full BAB. Still, not the best since it alternates levels for casting. Perhaps if you really wanted an invocation-using combat character this might work.
Platinum Knight (Draconomicon): A lousy fighter-style class, but it fits the flavor bill. Alternate casting levels do help out a bit.
Talon of Tiamat (Draconomicon): This one has potential. Still not perfect, but very flavorful and cool - and the abilities suit the DFA. The Talon’s breath weapons can help augment your own.
Scar Enforcer (Races of Destiny): You can do this as a half-elf. Why eludes me.
Sand Shaper (Sandstorm): You lose the major benefit of this class, which is the knowledge of a bunch more spells. Other than that, it offers little to a DFA as far as I can tell.
Scion of Tem-et-Nu (Sandstorm): Hmmm. Weird, but kind of cool. Sort of a "river serpent" feel. This will make you a more effective fighter while still giving you every-other-level casting increases.
Disciple of Asmodeus (Book of Vile Deeds): A sort of "evil devil dragon" feel. Alternate caster levels, but adds on the aspect of summoning.
Tainted Scholar (Heroes of Horror): This is arguable (it does say "warlock" in the req line), but you should be able to take it. Okay if you’re using taint rules.
Dragon Samurai (Miniatures Handbook): Weirdly, you can add the class level in d8s of damage to your breath weapon once per day. Interesting on a half-dragon, perhaps, but less so on a DFA. The once/day limitation makes this less worthwhile.
Doomlord (Planar Handbook): A once-every-ther level spellcasting class, but could be flavorful.
Visionary Seeker (Planar Handbook): Okay - once again, a weird choice.
Mindbender (Complete Arcane): If you grab the Charm invocation, this one-level dip will give you telepathy, enabling you to grab the Mindsight feat from Lords of Madness (like Blindsense with a range equal to your telepathy range for creatures with readable brains) and letting you ensure that you can charm anything with a brain that’s subject to mind-affecting effects.
Marshal (Miniatures Handbook): One level doubles your Cha bonus to Cha-based skills and checks - very handy - in addition to adding Skill Focus (Diplomacy). Handy on persuasive builds. A second level can get you a free Draconic aura as well.
Exemplar (Complete Adventurer): Skill Mastery is always great, as is a +4 unnamed bonus to a skill. If you’re going with a skill-focused build, this may be worth it.
Dragon Devotee (Races of the Dragon): This can be a decent choice for a Rogue or Scout multiclasser, adding Con, Cha, and some sneak attack dice.
Dragon Descendant (Dragon Magic): For a character with Monk levels, this is a great PrC. If you grab Entangling Exhalation, your breath weapon will stay useful ‘till later levels, and the Dragon Descendant’s abilities will make you able to do some very impressive stuff. The 10th level ability allows you to get the effect of Karmic Strike and Defensive Throw combined, plus technically stacks with those feats - very sexy. This class really deserves its own thread, so I’ll leave it at that - check it out if you’re curious.
Eldritch Disciple (Complete Mage): Though designed for Warlocks, you can get into this class with a Dragonfire Adept and do some very interesting things. Worth checking out - divine casting plus breath weapons and invocations can be loads of fun. One of the best options for hopping into this class is the Ur-Priest (in both the Book of Vile Deeds and Complete Divine), which can get you 9th level divine casting to supplement your invocations. Unfortunately, RAW prevents you from using some of the classes’ abilities, forcing you to choose non-breath oriented options. This is not one for a heavy breather, but rather for a caster-flavored DFA.
Unseen Seer (Complete Mage): With one level of Beguiler, the Able Learner feat, and 4 levels of DFA you can get into the Unseen Seer class, a 10 level PrC that will increase your invocation-use and grant you 4d6 sneak attack or skirmish dice (your choice). This can add up to create some fun, mobile possibilities for a DFA, but you’ll miss out on some of the better breath weapon effects.
Incarnum Classes: The value of a Totemist with the ability to bind soulmelds to the Totem chakra includes the use of a Blink Shirt, which can make your move action each round guaranteed not to provoke an Attack of Opportunity. Incarnates can add valuable skill bonuses and even some nice concealment from melds like the Fellmist Robe. Ultimately any more than about a two-level dip, however, is a relatively large investment.
Rogue, Scout, and similar classes: There are too many options to list. Check the Sneak build in the Builds section, below, for details. Of particular interest is the Able Learner feat, which can turn a human DFA with a one or two level dip into a skill monkey as well as the party’s battlefield control caster, party face, and scholar.
Martial Adept Classes: Entangling Exhalation can be an incredible addition to an Aoo battlefield control fighter who uses abilities like Thicket of Blades. Consider Crusader or Warblade as a combo class. Also of note are abilities like Iron Heart Endurance, which can grant a DFA the healing he or she needs to offset the damage dealt by Fivefold Breath. As a two-level dip for 19th and 20th levels, this can be a good choice to finish off a human DFA.
Warlock PrCs: Almost any PrC a Warlock can get into a Dragonfire Adept can get into. It’s important to note, however, that a Dragonfire Adept’s power often stems from his breath effects, not his invocations, making many casting-level PrCs a bad choice. Be careful, here.
Finally, a note on setting specific PrCs from Eberron:
Eberron PrCs of Note Nosomatic Chirurgeon (Dragonmarked): An interesting option for Eberron halflings, the Nosomatic Chirurgeon requires 8 ranks in heal (which means taking at least one level in some other class) and a Least Dragonmark (or a level in the Heir of Syberis class). The first level, however, in addition to increasing your invocations and breath damage, allows you to convert any of your invocations into an Inflict spell of the same level. This means that by using a Dark invocation you can auto-cast Inflict Critical Wounds, Mass. Further, the text specifically states that the energy created by this ability is NOT negative, meaning it won't heal undead - or in other words, it will hurt them! If you grab the Maximize Spell feat and the Mastery of Night and Day feat from the Player's Guide to Eberron, then any inflict spell you cast will be automatically maximized. Not a bad choice for supplemental damage, but it will lose out to Fivefold Breath when you pick it up. It can also be worth it if you're interested in getting into a class that requires you to be able to "cast spells" of a given level - technically, by RAW, your converted invocations count. Finally, if you have Magic of Eberron and are interested, you can grab Dragon Prophesier and Prophecy's Shepherd to be able to quicken one inflict spell per round. This would let you breathe and inflict mass wounds every round in addition to a move, which, while not perfect, is still pretty slick.
Heir of Syberis (Eberron): See the builds section for more on why this ISN'T as worthless as it seems. The bottom line, however, is that you DON'T want to take this class unless you have access to the Dragonmarked supplement. If you DO, however, you can pull of some pretty snazzy tricks.
Escalation Mage (Magic of Eberron): This is an interesting finisher for a Dragonfire Adept. It works better, in general, for Warlocks, but it definately has potential on a Dragonfire Adept as well. This increases your caster level with each level, and also provides you with some extra Charisma-based HP. The big kicker, though, are the "escalations," which can let you Heighten, Quicken, Empower, or Widen any of your spell-like abilities three times per day. Empower won't help you much, but Quicken and Widen can be snazzy. Widening a Solid Fog is pretty slick (especially if you're wearing a Ring of Freedom of Movement), and Quickening just about any invocation that doesn't have a 24 hour duration can come in pretty handy.
Renegade Mastermaker (Magic of Eberron): This is a weird one. You need Craft Wondrous and Craft Magic Arms and Armor to get in, and you'll have to use magic items to get the spells you need to craft things. It's almost tempting to pick up a level of Artificer and Able Learner before doing this. The bottom line is you'll come out the other end of this PrC as a sort of mechanized dragon - very strange.
Items of Interest Edit
This is just a very short list of some of the things a Dragonfire Adept migh be interested in adding to his hoard. Please feel free to post ideas if they come up!
Dragon Spirit Cincture: While you wear this belt, the damage done by your breath weapon is increased by one die. At only 2,000 GP, it is easily available as early as 3rd level, boosting your 2d6 weapon to 3d6. And, as a bonus, as long as you wield a magic weapon that shares an energy type with your breath weapon (which is practically any type), your breath weapon's save DC gets a +1 boost! Oh, and if your breath weapon doesn't deal damage (Slow Breath), then the Cincture boosts the effect by 1 point. A must-have.
Tempo Bloodspike (Magic of Eberron): Basically a hypodermic needle that you can plug yourself with to grant an extra move action during a round of your choice once within an hour of injection. This can be very handy - especially on a high-speed flight-based DFA.
Eversmoking Bottle: When paired with Blindsense, this lets you breathe on your enemies without letting them figure out where you are. A perfect defense, and all for just of 5,000 gold. The only problem is making sure you don't **** your blind teammates off too much.
Pectoral of Maneuverability: For 12,000 gold, this item from the Draconomicon improves your flight maneuverability by a step. Worth it when you’ve only got Draconic Flight to rely on, as it saves you a feat.
Draught of Metabreath Magic: These come in a bunch of different flavors and can make you a very scary (and adaptable ) opponent. Rebuking breath potions can make you the bane of undead. Admixture and substitution potions can make you deal obscene amounts of damage (especially when paired with Fivefold breath - yowsa ). Ethereal breath takes out pesky incorporeal opponents, and stunning/greater stunning adds to your already silly battlefield control capabilities. Enervating breath is just unfair, giving negative levels to your targets. All the gold you would spend normally on buying a weapon should go into these potions (or Draughts of Metallic Dragon Breath - see below).
Draught of Metallic Dragon Breath: This can let you breathe paralyzing, sleep, weakening, repulsion, or slow breath. This becomes HUGE when used in combination with your personal breath effects Given that the effect on your personal breath weapon depends on your “age category” as a dragon, it’s not necessarily clear how this would work with a non-dragon with a breath weapon. There’s some text about how it works in combination with potions of dragon breath that says the effect is based on caster level - if this is what would determine the maginitude of the effect on a Dragonfire Adept’s breath weapon, the possibilities become huge, however, the logical way to treat it would be to take the number of dice your breath has(4 at 7th level, 8 at 17th, etc).
Wands of Metabreath Spells: So many possibilities In particular, wands of admixture become a very nice way of doubling your damage at later levels (though they will cost a pretty penny ). At low levels, go for things like Breath Flare if you like. You could even try grabbing Double Wand Wielder from Complete Arcane to slap on two separate Metabreath spells onto the same exhalation, though you'll tear through those charges quite quickly (expensive ).
Rod of Many Wands: Oh . . . my . . . gawd. This is where the DF Adept starts to get really, really silly. Throw three nice Metabreath Spell wands in here and go to town. Enervation, Admixture, and maybe Dispelling or Greater Stunning Breath are all fun possibilities. This is the equivalent of a tac-nuke when paired with Fivefold Breath. Youch.
Darkwood Shield + Mithral Shirt: One of the best low-level tricks a Dragonfire Adept has is wearing armor. A darkwood shield costs a mere 257 gold, grants a +2 to AC, and has no armor check penalty. A mithral shirt offers a +4 armor bonus and no check penalty for 1,100 gold. Both are incredibly light, and thus easy for a weak DFA to tote, and the combined spell failure chance is only 20% - not bad, and since many of your abilities won’t be affected by this, not that worrisome. When paired with the natural armor from Scales, this can make your DFA a quite defensive character.
Spell-Failure Reducing Armors: These include Thistledown Suits (RotW; reduces ASF by 5% for only 250 gold), Leafweave Armor (RotW; reduces ASF by 5% in leathery armor for +740 gold), Wildwood Armor (RotW; reduces ASF by 5% in metal armor for minor gold - depends on armor type), and probably some others I haven’t thought of. Ultimately you’ll want to wear armor as a DFA, but what kind depends a lot on your tactics in combat. Past 15th level, you’ll want to cast Draconic Toughness once in a while to
Defending Weapon (DMG): As a DFA doesn’t usually use a weapon to attack, a Defending Weapon can allow you to boost your AC impressively. This, of course, if for DFAs who don’t usually hold a wand in their main hand.
Humanoid Shape Options Edit
The invocation “Humanoid Shape” allows to assume a different form with the humanoid type as with the “change shape” ability:
CHANGE SHAPE ABILITY
A creature with this special quality has the ability to assume the appearance of a specific creature or type of creature (usually a humanoid), but retains most of its own physical qualities. A true seeing spell or ability reveals the creature’s natural form. A creature using change shape reverts to its natural form when killed, but separated body parts retain their shape. A creature cannot use change shape to take the form of a creature with a template. Changing shape results in the following changes to the creature:
- The creature retains the type and subtype of its original form. It gains the size of its new form.
- The creature loses the natural weapons and movement modes of its original form, as well as any extraordinary special attacks of its original form not derived from class levels (such as the barbarian’s rage class feature).
- The creature gains the natural weapons, movement modes, and extraordinary special attacks of its new form.
- The creature retains all other special attacks and qualities of its original form, except for breath weapons and gaze attacks.
- The creature retains the ability scores of its original form.
- Except as described elsewhere, the creature retains all other game statistics of its original form, including (but not necessarily limited to) HD, hit points, skill ranks, feats, base attack bonus, and base save bonuses.
- The creature retains any spellcasting ability it had in its original form, although it must be able to speak intelligibly to cast spells with verbal components and it must have humanlike hands to cast spells with somatic components.
- The creature is effectively camouflaged as a creature of its new form, and gains a +10 bonus on Disguise checks if it uses this ability to create a disguise.
- Any gear worn or carried by the creature that can’t be worn or carried in its new form instead falls to the ground in its space. If the creature changes size, any gear it wears or carries that can be worn or carried in its new form changes size to match the new size. (Nonhumanoid-shaped creatures can’t wear armor designed for humanoid-shaped creatures, and viceversa.) Gear returns to normal size if dropped.
A few things to note about change shape as it applies to Dragonfire Adepts. Since any extraordinary abilities that are derived from class levels are retained, you don’t have to be concerned about losing your breath weapon. Though you can’t grab a big Strength score from changing form, you also don’t lose your Constitution, meaning that your breath weapon’s DC won’t be hurt by shifting. The big things to look for in a shape are therefore natural weapons, extraordinary special attacks, movement modes, and size. Since DFAs are not generally going to be melee monsters, natural weapons won’t be the most useful ability.
Therefore, the two big things to look for in shifted form are therefore movement modes and extraordinary special attacks. The best of these include flight speeds, swim speeds, burrow speeds, and tasty tidbits like sneak attack. The invocation always retains its utility, of course, for infiltration and disguise.
Below you’ll find a short list of some of the various forms you can shift into using the Humanoid Shape invocation, thanks to CrystalKeep This list is by no means exhaustive, and I’d love to have any choice ideas people have found added - let me know and I’ll append them post-haste and forth-with.
Abiel (MM2): These are a very nice choice, granting poison attacks, improved grab, and even a flight-based sonic attack.(Discounted; type: Monstrous Humanoid)
Armand (MM3): These guys have claws, a burrow speed of 10 feet, and small size. Not bad.(Dicounted; type: Monstrous Humanoid)
- Human (aquatic) (UA), Deep Imaskari (Und), Illumian (RoD), Mongrelfolk (RoD), Sea Kin (RoD), Sharakim (RoD), Skulk (RoD), Underfolk (RoD): Sea Kin and Aquatic Humans can swim, which can make them a reasonable choice, but for the most part these races lack impressive extraordinary attack methods.
- Half-Elf (aquatic, arctic, desert, fire, jungle) (UA), Half-Human (DMG): See humans, above.
- Half-Orc (Aquatic, arctic, desert, jungle, water) (UA): See humans, above.
- Orc (Aquatic, arctic, desert, jungle, water) (UA): See humans, above.
- Dwarf (hill, mountain, aquatic, arctic, desert,earth, jungle) (UA), Dwarf, deep, dream dwarf (RoS), gold dwarf (DMG), Duergar (MM): See humans, above.
- Elf (Aquatic, arctic, desert, jungle) (UA), Drow, Umbrages (eberron), Wild Elf (MM), Wood Elf (MM): See humans, above.
- Gnome (air, aquatic, arctic, desert, forest, jungle) (UA), Chaos gnome (RoS), Svirfneblin (MM), Whisper Gnome (RoS): See humans, above.
- Halfling (aquatic, arctic, water) (UA), Tallfellow Halfling (MM), Deep Halfling (MM): See humans, above.
- Changeling (MM3, RoD): See humans, above.
- Shifter, Saurian Shifter (ebberon): See humans, above.
- Slyth (Und): See humans, above.
- Bugbear (MM), Goblin (air, aquatic, arctic, desert, jungle) (UA), Forestkith Goblin (MM3), Hobgoblin (MM): See humans, above.
- Kobold (aquatic, arctic, desert, earth, jungle) (UA): See humans, above.
- Lizardfolk (MM), Poison Dusk Lizardfolk (MM3), Blackscale Lizardfolk (MM3): Blackscale Lizardfolk can make you large, while Poison Dusk Lizardfolk can make you small - both handy. They can also get you some natural weapons, which is of limited use for the reasons mentioned above.
- Orc (aquatic, arctic, desert, jungle, water) (UA): See humans, above.
- Gnoll (RotW), Flind Gnoll (MM3): See humans, above.
- Dragonborn (RoDr), Spellscale (RoDr): See humans, above.
- Mephling (air, earth, fire, water) (Planar): Small size, various movement speeds (burrow, flight, and swim, for instance) and meager breath weapons.
- Catfolk (RotW): 40 feet of landspeed, which can increase your flight speed from invocations.
- Grippli (DR324): I don’t have access to this issue, so I’m not sure of the advantages of this one.
- Kenku (MM3): Can raise your bonuses for attacking while flanking from +2 to +4. Meh.
Neraph (Planar): Can use a technique to render a single opponent flat-footed against a single attack once per enemy per encounter.(Discounted; type: Outsider)
- Phanaton (DR 339): I don’t have access to this issue, so I’m not sure of the advantages of this one.
- Raptoran (Rotw): Flight.
- Troglodyte (SRD): This shape can make for a tremendously effective save-killer, as you are granted the extraordinary ability to stink up a room something fierce! Anything failing a Con-based save within 30 feet gets sickened for 10 rounds! Stack on Entangling Exhalation, Bind Vestige and Improved Bind Vestige, and something standing next to you can get its saves seriously crippled!
- Xvart (DR 339): I don’t have access to this issue, so I’m not sure of the advantages of this one.
- Dark Creeper (FF), Dark Stalker (FF): Dark Creepers receive 2d6 sneak attack and Stalkers get 3d6. This can be incredibly helpful for Rogue builds, and can allow you to qualify for some very fun feats and prestige classes!
- Spikers (Planar): They’re pokey. Grappling them can be painful for a foe, and they can spike people if they want to.
Notes for Playing a Dragonfire Adept Edit
I thought I’d throw in a section on this just to give my personal take on how to rock DFA style and rock it hard. Playing a DFA, for me, comes down to a question of class: any way you cut it, a good DFA should have some.
- Play with style - use your social skills to make your presence felt in a room. Make grand entrances. Don’t talk too much - wait for really effective moments to say something impressive.
- Don’t kill things right off the bat - play with your food a little first. See if you can scare weak opponents, and don’t hesitate to parley with more powerful ones. On the other hand, be brash, brave, and a bit arrogant when fights break out. You’re a dragon, after all - anyone foolish enough to stand against you deserves the scourging lash of your breath
- Laugh off minor insults and party in-fighting - you’re above it. Don’t hesitate to show a sense of humor.
- Be mercurial in your mood. You are a creature of powerful emotions and whims, and should be able to change in an instant from happy laughter to heated anger.
- Appreciate your allies and don’t squabble over treasure . . . too much. You might just identify the item and lie a bit about its worth, though, if it’s a bauble you truly want for your burgeoning hoard.
- Dress flashily, and favor your favorite dragon’s color as a theme. If you worship any draconic demigods, have their sign emblazoned on your armor, cloak, or shield, but don’t be preachy. You worship dragons as ideal representations of what you yourself want to become - they’re more role models than dieties to you.
- Have a personal coat of arms or emblem. You have a strong sense of self, and announce your presence with your bearing and attire. Make sure to stay well-groomed and dress elegantly, favoring fine materials such as silk.
- Don’t hesitate to use your breath weapon as accent for your words - if you’re feeling a bit showy, shoot a line of fire into the air If you’re getting angry, let a few licks of flame play about the edges of your lips as you speak. Light the campfire each night with a burst of fire. Your breath isn’t just for combat, it’s for style!