Prepare for Glory!: The Warlord's Handbook Edit

(Originally written by lordduskblade; retrieved by Doctor Hook on 22 Feb 2009 @ ~12:30MT.)

Introduction Edit

All right, you punks, you've all filled out your forms, and you're officially in the Warlord's Academy. Whatever. Now, you're gonna learn the real meat of what leading is like. You will rally men to arms, bring out the best in your allies, and all that stuff. In the end, what matters is the glory that comes out of your group's efforts. And you are instrumental in that. Now, show me an epic speech!

<Note from lordduskblade: I am well aware that another Warlord's Handbook exists (by sCRuLooSe, and you can find it on the link below), but I have found that I disagree with some of his opinions, especially for Charisma-based Warlords and pure damage powers.>

This Handbook will use the following system for ratings: Edit
  • Red: Garbage, or completely overshadowed by another option.
  • Purple: Situationally useful, but overall pretty meh.
  • Black: OK. You could do worse than pick this.
  • Blue: Good stuff. You probably want this.
  • Sky Blue: You want this. Period.
This Handbook covers the following sources: Edit
  • AV - Adventurer's Vault
  • D XXX - Dragon Magazine, issue XXX
  • FRPG - Forgotten Realms Player's Guide
  • MM - Monster Manual
  • MOTP - Manual of the Planes
  • MP - Martial Power
  • PHB - Player's Handbook
References (aka will be borrowing shamelessly from): Edit
Props to: Edit

Everyone posting in the original thread.

Ability Scores: The Mettle Required For Glory Edit

  • Strength - This is your main stat. No exceptions. Boost it every chance you get. (Recommended Starting Score: 16, before racial adjustments)
  • Constitution - Adds HP and healing surges, which are always good to have. Axes require some Constitution investment. Not quite priority 1, though. (Recommended Starting Score: 10-14, before racial adjustments)
  • Dexterity - Gives you Initiative, Reflex defense and AC in light armor. Heavy Blades require moderate Dex investment, whereas Flails and Spears are a bit higher. Tactical Warlords could care less about it, though, since it's redundant with Intelligence. Don't dump it to 8, though; a penalty on Initiative kinda sucks. (Recommended Starting Score: 10-14, before racial adjustments)
  • Intelligence - Taclords' and Resourceful Warlords' secondary stat (arguably a second primary stat for Taclords). However, Bravelords and Inspiring Warlords could care less about this, most of the time. (Recommended Starting Score: 10-16, before racial adjustments)
  • Wisdom - Can be absolutely useless, or a necessary evil, if you're wielding a Polearm. (Recommended Starting Score: 8-12, before racial adjustments)
  • Charisma - Boosts a bevy of useful skills for you, and gives you some rider effects to boot, even if you're not Cha-based (which most of the Warlord builds are). Taclords should want at least a decent score here; there are a lot of Cha-based riders for Warlords, particularly on the healing powers. (Recommended Starting Score: 10-16, before racial adjustments)

Races: Who Are Destined For Glory Edit

Races - PHB Edit
  • Dragonborn - +2 Strength, +2 Charisma, you get Dragon Breath for some AoE, and you get an incentive for a decent Con. Great Cha-based Warlords, but just plain phenomenal Bravura Warlords (Bravelords).
  • Dwarf - +2 Con is OK, +2 Wis is bleah, but it DOES make you real tough and durable... a decent Bravelord choice.
  • Eladrin - +2 Int is great, +2 Dex might help with the Heavy Blade feats, and the Teleport is just made of win. The best choice for a Taclord right now IMHO.
  • Elf - Move 7 is good, Accuracy is good, but the stat bonuses are just not that useful to you.
  • Half-Elf - +2 Cha is great, +2 Con is OK, but the good stuff is in Dilettante. I highly recommend this race, especially if you pick up Righteous Brand. This is my personal favorite for Inspiring Warlords.
  • Halfling - Very slippery fellers, they find it pretty easy to gain situational boosts to AC, almost to the point of making them unhittable. The limited weapon options and the +2 to Dex don't help the case much, though.
  • Human - A very nice choice. +1 to all defenses is made of win, a bonus feat and skill helps, and the racial feats kick all kinds of hiney. The bonus at-will is useful to you, unlike for most classes. Just don't forget that STRENGTH is your main stat, OK?
  • Tiefling - Gives you bonuses to both of the secondary stats, and has Hellfire Blood as a racial feat, which actually makes a Flaming Weapon worthwhile. Basically the only real choice for a Resourceful Warlord.
Races - Other Edit
  • Bladeling (MOTP) - Not the greatest stat bonuses in the world, but the racial power is nice and useful. A rather sub-optimal choice overall, though.
  • Bugbear (MM) - Oversized and +2 Str makes a nice, damaging build, and the +2 Dex helps for some of the Heavy Blade feats, which is about the only use you'll get out of it.
  • Doppelganger (MM) - Not quite as good as Tieflings, but solid.
  • Drow (FRPG) - +2 Cha and CA-granting abilities are pretty solid.
  • Genasi (FRPG) - +2 Str (win), +2 Int (more win), and most of the manifestations are great (even more win). Earthsoul and Watersoul are my personal favorites for a Warlord, though Firesoul and Windsoul have their perks (most notably the racial Paragon Paths). A great Taclord choice.
  • Githyanki (MM) - Make some pretty decent Taclords.
  • Githzerai (MM) - In a word, yuck.
  • Gnoll (D 367) - Good speed, but not enough to make it worthwhile.
  • Gnome (MM) - Bonus to either secondary stat, and some interesting placement abilities. Unfortunately, their offense lags behind the Tieflings because of being Small and the inability to make up the gap from not having a Str bonus.
  • Goblin (MM) - Slightly weaker than the Halfling, it has the same racial stat allotments, which are solid, but not spectacular for Warlords.
  • Hobgoblin (MM) - Charisma bonus and initiative bonus? OK!
  • Kobold (MM) - You already have Shifty in Wolf Pack Tactics, and being Small hurts any Melee guy.
  • Minotaur (D 369) - OK stat placements, and Oversized for plenty of damage... unless you're using the Dragon Article, which trimmed off Oversized for some charge-related goodies.
  • Orc (MM) - Just OK stat placements, and self-healing is not as good on a Leader class as it is on a Defender or a Striker, since you have more healing.
  • Shadar-Kai (MM) - Weaker than Eladrin, because of the lack of racial feats, but the insubstantial teleportation is marginally more useful to you. Still great, though not at the level of Eladrin.
  • Shifter, Longtooth (MM) - Gets more Strength, and has Wisdom, which can be useful for Polearm builds or to keep your Will out of the gutter, which actually makes you want to go for Taclord.
  • Shifter, Razorclaw (MM) - +2 Dexterity instead of Strength and a weaker shifting ability is not so good for you. As a matter of fact, it's terrible. AVOID.
  • Warforged (D 364) - After the Dragon article, these guys make great Warlords. Tough as the hells, and good defense.

Skills: The Tools Of Glory Edit

Skills - Warlord Class List Edit
  • Athletics - Keys off Strength, and it's nice and useful.
  • Diplomacy - Useful for all Warlords, but Cha-based ones milk it for what it's worth.
  • Endurance - Just OK for you, because your Con isn't sky-high, but it'll do.
  • Heal - Your Wis is likely in the gutter, so this is probably sub-par.
  • History - Taclords and Resourceful Warlords love this skill. Cha-based Warlords could care less though.
  • Intimidate - Great for Bravelords, Resourceful Warlords, and Inspiring Warlords (especially the former... fluff-o-riffic!). For Taclords... not so much.
Skills - Other Edit
  • Arcana/Religion - Intelligence-based Warlords could use one of these skills to expand their repertoire, though you more than likely have a fellow party member that can do this too.
  • Bluff - A sweet interaction skill for Charisma-based Warlords, it rounds out your character nicely.

Which Presence Should You Choose?: The Glorious Debate Edit

With Martial Power, there are four Commanding Presences available for a Warlord; each have their own set of strengths and weaknesses.

The Bravura Warlords (Bravelords) allows for some heavy damage by allowing your allies to attack outside their turns a lot, as well as providing some solid buffing. It provides some consistent advantage in some way or another, and is overall a lot of fun to play, as you're always doing something interesting. Additionally, you can even make a Bravura Warlord that doesn't need a secondary stat at all, freeing you up to invest your stat points elsewhere. It does have a downside in that it's the riskiest Warlord build out there. When it works, it works well; when it doesn't work, it hurts you.

The Inspiring Warlords are the best healers in the bunch and are overall the most defensively oriented. This means that they're great at getting you out of some sticky situations. They also have the perk of some pretty decent buffs. However, they have a bit of a blind spot in the nova department; what they do have are smaller, more consistent bursts of offense. However, this is usually not as good as a true nova, as a dead enemy deals 0 damage.

Resourceful Warlords have a healthy mix of powers, looking to gain a benefit from every situation. They have some things in common with most Warlord builds, and are therefore pretty well-rounded. They also gain the benefit of solid all-around defenses because of their reliance on Intelligence and Charisma. However, they have the problem of trying to be good at everything, but excelling at nothing.

Tactical Warlords (Taclords) do one thing, and they do it well: hit fast and hard. They look to end a fight before it starts through fantastic buffing and positioning abilities. The downside to that approach is that they're the worst build overall at pulling your skillet out of the fire, since they're not really healing or defense oriented. They are also the weakest at skill synergy; you're basically the equivalent of a muscle-bound sage, which is probably redundant with other party members.

  • Bravura Warlord (Bravelord) (MP)
    • Pros: Can be secondary stat-free, grants free attacks, gives attack/damage buffing
    • Cons: Powers are risky, weaker healing
  • Inspiring Warlord (PHB)
    • Pros: Better healing and defensive buffing, low-cost "nova" powers
    • Cons: Weaker attack buffing
  • Resourceful Warlord (MP)
    • Pros: Good mix of power selection, versatile, well-rounded
    • Cons: MAD, riders not as strong as for other builds
  • Tactical Warlord (Taclord) (PHB)
    • Pros: Great attack buffing, great positioning powers
    • Cons: Dependent on party members, weaker healing, weaker skill synergy

Weapon Groups: The Bringers of Glory Edit

  • Axes - A good choice for Warlords, because it only requires a marginal investment in the tertiary stat (Con in this case), and you can use a Jagged weapon (improved crits yay!). Dragonborn in particular reap the benefits of this group because of their racial features reward high Con. This is one of the weapon groups of choice for Balanced Warlords (aka Warlords that are still interested in doing some decent damage) and Sword-and-Board Warlords (aka Warlords who want some decent defenses). It's also one of the few choices for Ranged Warlords, the others being Hammers and Spears.
  • Flails - Don't bother trying to pick up Weapon Mastery here; it takes too much away from you. The Triple-Headed Flail stands out as a pretty viable alternative. The group also has the Whip, an off-hand reach weapon. One of the weapon groups of choice for Reach Warlords, and the Whip is good for Sword-and-Board Taclords in particular, because Commander's Strike makes up for the piddly damage (1d4).
  • Hammers - Waaaay too much Con investment required for you to really milk them for what they're worth. Not even races like Half-Elves and Hobgoblins can milk these appropriately. Stick to Axes instead, unless you're a stat-free Bravelord.
  • Heavy Blades - The (usually) high proficiency bonus means Warlords will tend towards this group even if they don't invest in the Dex to qualify for the weapon group feats (Jagged does exist, after all). Bastard Swords are great for Sword-and-Board Warlords, and Glaives give the gift of Reach. Favored by Balanced Warlords of all types, but Eladrin and Inspiring Warlords find them easier to use.
  • Light Blades - Even more Dex investment than Flails... and a much less damaging weapon group. Yuck, even for Bravelords.
  • Maces - And you thought Hammers were a wasted effort...
  • Picks - Pretty nifty stats at the beginning, but they're simply not supported right now...
  • Polearms - Reach undeniably increases your tactical options, and it also comes with a second weapon group as icing on the cake. The weapon of choice for almost all Reach Warlords.
  • Spears - A good weapon group. Odds are you'll be using a Javelin or Tratnyr for Ranged combat, and Greatspear IMHO is a better version of the Spiked Chain. The only downer is that, like Flails, the Dex requirement is a bit too high. The weapon group of choice for most Reach Warlords and Ranged Warlords.
  • Staffs - For flavor reasons ONLY.

Archetypes: The Seekers Of Glory Edit

1. The General Edit

This build is pretty simple; Strength and Intelligence get cranked up to the max, which means you are a nova machine. Look for powers that grant bonuses to attack rolls, damage rolls, initiative, and speed; hitting fast and hitting hard is what you do. You will forsake any Weapon Mastery feat, though, so look for weapons with a +3 proficiency bonus to maximize your hit rate (which is very important for your overall effectiveness).

  • Warlord Presence: Resourceful Presence, Tactical Presence;
  • Races: Eladrin, Genasi, Human, Tiefling;
  • Weapon Types: Flails, Heavy Blades, Spears;
  • Array: Str 16, Con 12, Dex 10, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 12.
2. The Hero Edit

This build is a stand-and-fight sort of Warlord, so look for abilities that let you have some star time while you're helping your allies out. You're probably going to want to be Charisma-based, since that side is better at the "buffing yourself" bit, and it heals better (because believe me when I say you will be attacked, and a lot). You have to be careful in balancing strategy and risk, though.

  • Warlord Presence: Bravura Presence, Inspiring Presence, Resourceful Presence;
  • Races: Bugbear, Dragonborn, Genasi, Half-Elf, Human, Minotaur, Orc, Warforged;
  • Weapon Types: Axes, Heavy Blades, Spears;
  • Array: Str 16, Con 13, Dex 10, Int 11, Wis 8, Cha 16.
3. The Captain Edit

This build looks for a well-rounded mix of abilities; rider effects are all well and good, but Weapon Mastery and other things along those lines are nice, too. Charisma-based builds have a generally easier time of it than Intelligence-based ones, so look to boost Strength, Charisma and Dexterity and/or Constitution, depending on your weapon choice.

  • Warlord Presence: Bravura Presence, Inspiring Presence, Resourceful Presence;
  • Races: Bugbear, Dragonborn, Human, Minotaur, Orc, Warforged;
  • Weapon Types: Axes, Heavy Blades, Polearms;
  • Array: Str 16, Con 13, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 14.
4. The Marshal Edit

A very well-rounded sort of build, this guy looks for Intelligence and Charisma in equal proportion. You forsake some of your raw power on rider effects and the like for versatility (yes, this does work). if you like, you can even make more of an emphasis on one stat of your choice to strengthen the riders one way or the other. Like most Warlords, Weapon Mastery is out of your reach, so look for a +3 proficiency weapon.

  • Warlord Presence: Resourceful Presence;
  • Races: Dragonborn, Genasi, Human, Tiefling;
  • Weapon Types: Flails, Heavy Blades, Spears;
  • Array: Str 16, Con 13, Dex 10, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 14.
5. The War Leader Edit

This is a... different sort of Warlord, more in line with the standard warrior-types than it is with a traditional sort of Warlord. Since you're going for a traditional big, strong guy with heavy weapons and some Leader thrown in, Strength and Constitution are the way to go for you, which helps minimize the effects of the risks you take. Look for effects without riders based on Intelligence and Charisma.

  • Warlord Presence: Bravura Presence;
  • Races: Bugbear, Dragonborn, Dwarf, Genasi, Human, Longtooth Shifter, Minotaur, Orc, Warforged;
  • Weapon Types: Axes, Hammers;
  • Array: Str 16, Con 16, Dex 10, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha.

Multiclassing: Other Ways To Glory Edit

  • Cleric (PHB) - Healing and defense makes this appealing for a dip, but the Paragon Paths are all Wisdom-based...
  • Fighter (PHB) - This is a good dip for you, in both Paragon Paths and powers.
  • Paladin (PHB) - This has strong synergy with Charisma-based Warlords, so it's a worthwhile pickup.
  • Ranger (PHB) - A bit more offense can be nice, if you're willing to dual-wield.
  • Swordmage (FRPG) - Probably not explored as often as it should, but has some synergy with Intelligence-based Warlords.
  • Wizard (PHB) - Ranged abilities, AoE, and debuffs are golden on a Warlord.