Whenever possible, I like to shine a spotlight on character building options that players don’t likely know about, and today’s build focuses on a prestige class that is very easy to miss if you aren’t a subscriber. It’s relatively recent and was printed in Fangs of War, Book 2 of Ironfang Invasion. The prestige class in question is the Chernasardo Warden, a prestige class build around a freedom fighting organization of guerilla soldiers seeking to protect the nation of Nirmathas from outside threats.
Before we get started, I LOVE this prestige class because it includes my absolute favorite class feature: aligned class. Seriously, I think the aligned class mechanic is the future of prestige classes, and it was great to see it used here. If you don’t know, aligned class is a mechanic where the prestige class in question adds its level to your level in one base class of your choice: henceforth the “aligned class.” This level boost applies to all class features, but not core statistics like BAB, Fort, Ref, or Will. IT does, however, mean that if you could cast spells, this prestige class will boost your ability to do so. Unlike the only other aligned class prestige class currently in the game, the evangelist, the Chernasardo Warden only gives you a ½ PRC boost; meaning that you’re adding half your prestige class level to your aligned class level. This got me thinking, “How can I use this prestige class effectively?”
Well, the Chernasardo Warden’s class features focus heavily on switch hitting (aka switching from a ranged weapon to a melee weapon) and combat maneuvers, the best supported being trip and dirty tricks. Now, getting ALL that to work is going to take a LOT of feats; combat maneuvers and ranged combat are two of the highest taxed options in the game when it comes to feats. However, there’s an unorthodox class that synchronizes VERY well with this style of play, so that’s what I went with.
Everyone, feast your eyes on my Chernasardo brawler build!
Any information important to understanding the build or its roots goes here.
- Classes: brawler 5 / Chernasardo Warden 7
- Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike (Bonus), Power Attack (1st), Point-Blank Shot (Bonus), Precise Shot (3rd), Rapid Shot (Bonus), Combat Expertise (5th), Improved Dirty Trick (Bonus), Manyshot (7th), Furious Focus (9th), Greater Dirty Trick (Bonus), Weapon Focus: longbow (11th), Weapon Specialization: longbow (Bonus)
- Abilities: AC Bonus +1, advanced tactics, brawler’s cunning, brawler’s flurry (Improved Two-Weapon Fighting), brawler’s strike (magic), close weapon mastery, forest magic, guerilla tactics, knockout 1/day, maneuver training, martial flexibility (swift), martial training, unarmed strike, unchained heart +3
- Forest Magic: longstrider (1st), spider climb (3rd), lead blades (5th)
- Maneuver Training: trip +2 (3rd), dirty trick +1 (7th)
Rather than ramble off all of the Chernasardo Warden’s class features (Pick up Fangs of War; this prestige class alone is worth it!), I’m going to focus on what makes this build work. Basically, both the Chernasardo Warden prestige class and the brawler feature a lot of bonus feats, and the brawler has the benefits of martial flexibility, which allows it to temporary have feats whenever it wants. This means that at Level 2 when you “only” have Point-Blank Shot, you can flexibly pull into Precise Shot. As you start to fill out your levels, you can use martial flexibility to effectively stay one feat ahead of the pack; always having things that you need or that take advantage of the Chernasardo Warden’s guerilla tactics class feature. Having access to the full girth of fighter bonus feats, Improved Maneuver feats (because you have Power Attack, Improved Unarmed Strike, and Combat Expertise), and even the ability to great Point-Blank Master by Level 12 is super useful.
Additionally, the levels that you gain bonus feats from your aligned class ability and the Chernasardo Warden prestige class itself often make it so you get several feats all at once; 11th level and 7th level in particular reign several feats down upon you. In short, this class gives you everything you need to do basically any trick you want with a melee weapon or a ranged weapon. Guerilla tactics lets you make free combat maneuver checks without interrupting the flow of battle or grants you bonus sneak attack damage dice when combat maneuvers aren’t your thing. Better still, your switch-hitting melee weapon is your unarmed strikes, so you actually don’t need Quick Draw AND still threaten squares around you in melee. And hey, if you want to pick a melee weapon for overcoming DR or whatever, you can totally pick a close weapon and go nuts with it via close weapon mastery. (And when I say “go nuts,” I mean it; you’ll have Improved Two-Weapon Fighting via brawler’s flurry at 12th level, meaning that you’re basically making the same number of attacks at long range with your bow and at short range with your fists. Basically, there’s nowhere your enemy can run to avoid the full attack of death that you’re delivering.)
That’s it for this week’s installment of Iconic Design; next time we’ll have another awesomely cool build for you to check out. (I’ve got a request for a Hellknight build on my radar, and there’s also several really cool archetypes in Legacy of the Fey, so there’s no shortage of neat builds to make.) Take care!
Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.