In years past, I have spent hours trying to re-create the iconic dragoon class from the Final Fantasy series of video games. It’s always come up short: not enough damage, too many feats needed, not effective enough. I finally took another crack at this recently with the kineticist, and the results were phenomenal. On to the build!
- Class: fighter 1, kineticist X
- Optional: Kinetic Knight archetype
- Feats: Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Rhino Charge
- Optional: Combat Reflexes, Kinetic Leap, Death from Above
- Class Features
- Elemental Focus: Air
- Infusions: Kinetic Blade (1st), Energize Weapon (1st)
- Utility Talents: Air’s Leap (1st)
- Optional: Aerial Evasion (3rd), Celerity (3rd), Wings of Air (3rd)
- Equipment: +1 conductive longspear
- Optional: called weapon property, gloves of storing, combat sandals
Playing the Build
This build clicks online at 7th level, but you can achieve your goals by level 3 if you dip one level of fighter. The key to making a dragoon work is the Rhino Charge feat from Sargava, the Lost Colony. It allows you to ready an action to charge, but only moving up to your speed. This means we can spend a move action leaping into the air, then ready an action to charge an enemy (a standard action). The feat requires Power Attack and Improved Bull Rush, so you can’t start taking the feats until you get a +1 BAB. Since a kineticist is a 3/4 BAB class, you won’t be able to start taking these feats until level 3. A dip in fighter for your first level allows you to spend your 1st level feat and fighter bonus feat to get started, then pick up Rhino Charge once you hit 3rd character level. Making your character a human gives you a nice bonus feat so you can get everything you need at 1st level, but unless you can fly, you might have some trouble.
If you don’t have a means of staying in the air, the GM should rule that you immediately fall to the ground and some GMs won’t want you to ready for a condition that’s already met (i.e. “I ready an action to charge when I see an enemy; oh look I can already see one so I charge”). This is where the kineticist comes in. At level 6, you can pick up the utility talent Wings of Air that give you the constant effects of the fly spell. With this, you can get some hang-time until your conditions are met. Some of my favorites are readying to charge when, “an enemy does something aggressive, a creature approaches my party, the enemy spell caster begins to cast a spell.”
Breaking it Down
The aerokineticist, a kineticist who chooses Elemental Focus (air), gives the build a ton of high-flying flavor, but also enables so really powerful tactics. Lets look at each of my recommended abilities above:
Kinetic Blade and conductive weapon property: Using these two, you can add your kinetic blast damage to one weapon strike each turn. If you’re charging, it’s likely to be on that attack. One key is getting to kineticist level 3 so you can pick up Infusion Specialization 1. This reduces the cost of your applied infusions by 1, minimum 0. Using it, a kinetic blade infused blast costs you no burn, so you can use it as much as you’d like with your conductive weapon.
Air’s Leap: This is a prerequisite for Wings of Air, and gives us some fantastic bonuses to jump. Perfect for a dragoon!
Wings of Air: This 3rd level utility talent lets us get that much needed “hang time” so we can properly ready a charge action while in mid-air (see above).
Aerial Evasion: If you go back for more 3rd level utility talents, this one grants you the evasion rogue class feature!
Celerity: The ability to grant yourself and your allies haste is invaluable. Consider picking up this utility talent.
Some folks have asked me about the Kinetic Knight archetype. It’s a great archetype for swinging around elemental weapons and grants some proficiencies, but losing the ability to make ranged attacks is difficult. For Final Fantasy purists, this might seem like a good way to go but dragoons do get the air based aero spells in some variations of the game, so it’s not outside of cannon to have neat air powers. You can also take the Familiar Bond feat line to eventually (3 feats) get your own pseudodragon!
Proper gear can help quite a bit. One of the difficulties is if you want to gather power. If you’re carrying a spear, you can’t do it unless you drop your weapon. There are two easy but expensive ways around this issue:
Called weapon property: This lets you teleport an attuned weapon back into your hand with a swift action, as long as it’s within 100 feet. You can drop your weapon, gather power, blast away, then use a swift action to get it right back.
Glove of storing: This fancy glove lets you store and retrieve an item you’re holding as a free action. Problem solved.
Combat sandals: While quite pricey, this high level item will make your life much easier as you can now charge past your allies and make reach attacks through them without them getting in the way.
Lets peak at a few feats that can really spice up this build:
Combat Reflexes: If you decide to use a longspear, you might as well put all that reach to good use and give yourself the ability to make multiple AoOs.
Kinetic Leap: With all the jumping power you have and the ability to fly, do you really need a +10 to jump? No, but it sure is fun to shoot up into the air. Your bonuses can get so high, you can eventually ascend faster by jumping than flying!
Death from Above: This works it’s way out to a +2 bonus when charging from above someone, but since you really need that hit to land in order to get your conducting weapon damage, spring for it if you have a feat available.
I’ve left quite a lot up to the imagination so you can craft your own version of a dragoon. Feel free to comment below with thoughts, suggestions, or ways you’re going to make your dragoon the most powerful dragon knight in your campaign.