Author Topic: The Marvelous Marshal Handbook  (Read 24383 times)

Offline SleepyShadow

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The Marvelous Marshal Handbook
« Topic Start: February 19, 2012, 04:28:21 PM »
    The Marvelous Marshal Handbook

    Hello, and welcome to The Marvelous Marshal Handbook! I'm your host, SleepyShadow, and I'll be talking all about the ins and outs of the Marshal, found in the Miniatures Handbook. Like many non-core base classes, the marshal has received little love from either the players or the game designers. At best, it seems people tend to think of the marshal as a class two to four levels long. However, I have a soft-spot for unloved classes, and if you've read this far you are likely at least curious about marshals, so let's begin shall we?

    What Exactly Is a Marshal?
    A marshal can be many things, but like such versatile classes it is often best to choose depth over breadth and invest your slim resources into one area of expertise rather than trying to spread yourself thin to cover many roles. A marshal lends itself naturally to being a party face, a supportive combatant, a diplomancer, and even lockdown intimidation (affectionately referred to herein as the Intima-Tank).

    Let's take a look at the marshal's abilities:
    • Average BAB - A melee character with 3/4 BAB? Ouch. At least you can do other things than melee.
    • d8 HD - Not bad, though could be better.
    • Good Fortitude and Will - Excellent! These two saves will shrug off quite a few Save-or-Die/Suck spells.
    • Bad Reflex - So fireball will hurt. You've got decent hp and hopefully a good constitution. You'll survive.
    • Skill Focus (Diplomacy) - A bonus feat. Not much, but it's handy.
    • Minor Aura - Bread and butter for you. These actually tend to be better than your major aura due to the bonus being based off your charisma.
    • Major Aura - A second aura. Though helpful, your minor aura will typically outshine this.
    • Grant Move Action - This has too few situation that it would be useful in. Most often the team is better off with you taking your own action rather than giving someone an extra move action.


    Minor Auras
    • Accurate Strike - A bonus to confirm critical hits. Terrible.
    • Art of War - This is made obsolete by Motivate Strength, as pointed out by StreamOfTheSky.
    • Demand Fortitude - Situational but useful.
    • Determined Caster - Your spellcasters will love you for this when you run into something with spell resistance.
    • Force of Will - See Demand Fortitude.
    • Master of Opportunity - Like many of the minor auras, this one is situational but useful. However, you should remind your group that they should avoid provoking AoO in the first place.
    • Master of Tactics - Every melee character likes to flank. Given your high charisma, this can lead to quite a bit of extra damage, especially for a rogue.
    • Motivate (Stat) - All of these essentially do the same thing. However, Motivate Dexterity is worth mentioning due to the initiative bonus it grants. Have this aura on before battle, then switch it to something else after initiative has been rolled.
    • Over the Top - Give a bit of a boost to the team Uber-Charger. For everyone else, it's mediocre.
    • Watchful Eye - See Demand Fortitude.


    Major Auras
    • Hardy Soldiers - The amount of DR is so minuscule it's not worth your time using it.
    • Motivate Ardor - A slight bonus to damage. Mediocre.
    • Motivate Attack - This one is quite handy. It's almost like you have full BAB! It also lets the fighter use power attack more accurately, and helps to offset the rogue's TWF penalties.
    • Motivate Care - Though the bonus is small, it can sometimes be enough to mean the difference between a fatal blow and a near miss. My thanks go out to StreamOfTheSky once again, this time for pointing out that as an untyped AC bonus it should apply to Touch AC as well.
    • Motivate Urgency - A speed boost. Turn this on trekking through the dungeons, or just to say 'Yes we run like monks!'
    • Resilient Troops - You are effectively the team's cloak of resistance. Congratulations.
    • Steady Hand - Just like Motivate Attack, except it boosts ranged attacks instead of melee. I rank this black because melee seems to be more common than ranged attacks, but if the opposite is true for your group this naturally jumps up in ranking.

    For your stats, I recommend Cha>Con>Str>Int>Wis/Dex.[/list]
    « Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 08:59:14 PM by SleepyShadow »

    Offline SleepyShadow

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    Re: The Marvelous Marshal Handbook
    « Reply #1: February 19, 2012, 05:22:50 PM »
    Prodigious Pedigree of the Marvelous Marshal
    Everyone has a race. You just can't exist without one. Funny that. Anyway, before we begin, remember: Marshals are charisma characters. Whatever race you choose, don't penalize your charisma. Seriously, don't do it. It's a terrible idea.

    "But ..."

    NO!


    • Human - What's this? Humans at the top of the list? Madness! Yeah, okay, bonus feat, bonus skill points, yadda yadda.
    • Aasimar - A wonderful race for marshals. A charisma boost, some elemental resistances, and darkvision. Ask nicely if your DM will let you buy off the LA.
    • Venerable Dragonwrought Jungle Kobold - Implausible? Yes. Cheesy? Definitely. Ridiculously effective for what you're trying to do? Absolutely.
    • Spellscale - The penalty to constitution hurts, but the charisma bonus is still nice. This will likely be the answer for your race if you want a charisma boost without the LA or the cheese.
    • Lesser Aasimar - Though they have the same stat modifiers, they lose out on the rest of the good stuff real aasimars bring to the table. Still, no LA is nice.
    • Catfolk - Aww, how cute! Whether your campaign's catfolk are furries or fetishes, these critters make decent marshals. However, that +4 dexterity bonus they have is likely going to waste since you have heavy armor proficiency.
    • Half-Elf - WHAT??? A half-elf isn't at the bottom of a racial listing? What kind of mad-cap marshal would a half-elf be? The diplomancer kind, that's what.
    • Dwarf - Despite the fact that a dwarf barking orders at his comrades has a certain level of appeal, the -2 charisma penalty makes it far less so.
    • Half-Orc - No ... Seriously, no.  :banghead

    Something to consider that Thurbane pointed out is that the Dragonscale of Bahamut template is a good fit for the Marshal, as you will be wearing heavy armor. It works quite well with Spellscale or the Feytouched.

    And remember kids: If it's not listed, use common sense. Charisma boost good, charisma penalty bad.
    « Last Edit: March 10, 2012, 03:10:34 PM by SleepyShadow »

    Offline SleepyShadow

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    Re: The Marvelous Marshal Handbook
    « Reply #2: February 19, 2012, 06:17:44 PM »
    Fantastic Feats for the Marvelous Marshal
    Like with any character, feats comprise and dictate what a marshal's capabilities are. Due to your limited feats and unusual role in the party, you must be very selective in what feats you take. Be sure to specialize in one field or another, but don't become so focused in one narrow field that you lose your ability to contribute to the party when your one trick does not work.

    • Dreadful Wrath - Excellent choice for the Intima-Tank. With your high charisma score, this will work wonders for you.
    • Imperious Command - The sister feat to Dreadful Wrath. If intimidation is the choice you've made, you would be remiss to not choose this feat.
    • Skill Focus (Intimidate) - May as well. Every bonus helps.
    • Draconic Aura - For the buffer marshal. Why stop at only two auras when you can have three? This is especially good for a spellscale marshal.
    • Double Draconic Aura - Thanks to Thurbane for pointing this one out. Why stop at three auras when you can have four?
    • Martial Study - Plenty of good maneuvers out there. As a marshal, look toward the White Raven school.
    • Martial Stance - Just like Martial Study. Your mileage may vary.
    • Knowledge Devotion - Thanks to Solo for pointing this one out. Since you have all knowledge skills as class skills, this is a great choice for any marshal.
    • Power Attack - Not something you can use and abuse like a full BAB melee character could, but your Motivate Attack aura does give you some room to play with this feat.
    • Combat Expertise - Not bad if you have the intelligence for it. Mostly a prerequisite for better things, though.
    • Allied Defense - It's like a very small aura to boost your party members' AC. This feat would be better if you did not have to be adjacent to them to make it work.
    • Formation Expert - In theory this feat is wonderful, but unless your party decides beforehand that it will be Team Sparta, pass this one up.
    • Phalanx Fighting - Another feat for Team Sparta, this one requires everyone involved to go Sword-And-Board. Not the greatest choice by any means.
    • Ironheart Aura - Not bad, but again its a demi-aura that only functions on adjacent allies. Still, it's decent for the support marshal.
    • White Raven Defense - Yet again another demi-aura for a small boost. Decent for the support marshal.
    • Clarion Commander - Ah, now here we go. This followup feat from White Raven Defense is a tactical feat, so you get three benefits for the price of one. All of them work quite well for the marshal.
    • Combat Reflexes - If you use a reach weapon, no point in not getting this feat.
    • Daunting Presence - This is the poor man's Dreadful Wrath, if your DM won't let you use Forgotten Realms material. However, of important note is that the effect of this feat lasts 10 minutes. Given that most combats last about 30 seconds or so, the duration is more than adequate. Thanks to StreamOfTheSky for finding this one.
    • Nymph's Kiss - Extra skill points is always nice, and your charismatic, so it fits the theme of the Marvelous Marshal as well.
    • Force of Personality - This swaps your wisdom for your charisma score for your Will saves. If you have the feat to spare, take it. However, since your Will save is already good, this is not going to be critical to your survival.
    • Combat Panache - Easy to qualify for and three great benefits for one feat. What's not to love?
    • Leadership - The Big Daddy of all feats, this is especially potent in your hands. Your high charisma score coupled with your auras means that even your wee little followers will be able to do something!

    Solo had this to say on the matter, as well:
    Quote
    Also, consider mentioning the Dark Speech, Fey Heritage and Infernal Heritage feats. I think they all grant useful options.

    If there are other good feats for the marshal, please do let me know.
    « Last Edit: March 05, 2012, 08:21:41 PM by SleepyShadow »

    Offline SleepyShadow

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    Re: The Marvelous Marshal Handbook
    « Reply #3: February 19, 2012, 07:38:01 PM »
    Magnificent Multiclassing for the Marvelous Marshal
    Marshals are an odd class when it comes to multiclassing. On one hand, they get the best of their class abilities by level 2, and all of them by level 4. However, taking the class all the way to level 20 does provide quite a major aura. It's a balancing act, to be sure. But let's take a look at what some other classes have to offer the marshal.

    • Barbarian - This is for those of you who want to be the Angry Drill Sergeant.
    • Bard - With your high charisma, bard is a natural fit to complement your abilities.
    • Cleric - As good a dip for marshals as anyone else.
    • Druid - A powerful class in its own right, the druid and the marshal simply do not mix well. If you want an animal companion, take the Wild Cohort feat instead.
    • Fighter - Two levels for two bonus feats. Enough said.
    • Monk - Monks need everything except charisma. You need charisma. Monks don't use armor. You have heavy armor proficiency. Do we understand the problem? Good.
    • Paladin - Excellent choice. Two levels of this will add your impressive charisma to your saves, and four will allow for the beginnings of turn (ab)use.
    • Ranger - I don't see how this class could benefit marshals in any way, though if someone cares to disagree with me feel free to do so.
    • Rogue - Though not the greatest choice by any means, if you feel the need to wear light armor despite your proficiency in heavy, your Watchful Eye minor aura will allow you to utilize evasion ridiculously well.
    • Sorcerer - Certainly an interesting method if you are making a 'gish', the fact that you are reliant on charisma makes sorcerer an excellent choice.
    • Wizard - Traditionally thought of as more powerful than sorcerers, wizards tend to dump charisma, which makes meshing the class with marshal a bit more difficult than using sorcerer.

    Other base classes from non-core books don't tend to add much to the marshal, but two stand out in my mind: The Dragon Shaman and the Crusader. The crusader's maneuvers and stances add some versatility to the marshal, and full BAB is always appreciated. The Dragon Shaman on the other hand gives more auras. Because you need more auras.  :plotting

    Portentous Prestige Classes for the Marvelous Marshal


    Some food for thought, though this list is far from definitive.
    • Legendary Leader - This is an excellent class for the marshal. Over a mere 5 levels, you gain immunity to fear, +3 to all saves in addition to the base saves, and two commander auras. You even get to automatically succeed on any die roll once per day.
    • Legendary Captain - All of the abilities are far too limited to be of use in the average campaign, sadly. Marshals would make great captains of the sea. However, if your campaign sees a lot of naval action, this jumps to high rating immediately.
    • Dread Pirate - A decent prestige class for the marshal. I recommend the path of the honorable dread pirate for most marshals.
    • Scarlet Corsaire - Very similar to the dishonorable dread pirate, this prestige class is excellent for the Intima-Tank.
    • Outcast Champion - This gives a will save bonus aura, makes aid another grant a +4, and at 5th level gives you the ability to impart a rage-like effect on a whole group.
    • Menacing Brute - This works well with the Dread Pirate / Scarlet Corsair type builds for intimidating, nothing to really boost the group, though.  At the 5th and final level, you get an area effect cower everytime you drop a foe, though the DC is a little low. Thanks to SteamOfTheSky for this and Outcast Champion.
    • Dragon Devotee - This offers several interesting things for a Marshal: 3 ability score increases (the first being CHA, followed by CON and then STR) two bonus feats, and two effective sorcerer levels, even if you had none before. Thanks to Solo for finding this one.

    A small list, to be sure, but useful nevertheless. Once again, if you have any suggestions feel free to let me know  :D
    « Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 09:16:32 PM by SleepyShadow »

    Offline SleepyShadow

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    Re: The Marvelous Marshal Handbook
    « Reply #4: February 20, 2012, 02:31:19 PM »
    Bonny Builds and Tip-Top Tricks for the Marvelous Marshal
    Now for your viewing pleasure, I shall present a handful of fully usable and entertaining marshals. Use them as springboards for your own character builds, copy them outright, or assimilate them piecemeal into one (hopefully) almighty marshal!

    The Marvelous Marshal
    (click to show/hide)

    Sun Tzu
    (click to show/hide)

    The Spartan
    (click to show/hide)

    The Privateer
    (click to show/hide)

    Carnivore

    Tip-Top Tricks
    Always remember to switch your auras to suit the encounter. Knowing when to use what aura is a big part of being a successful marshal. Also, don't forget that your auras affect yourself as well as your party. Give your teammates what they need, but don't be afraid to be a little selfish from time to time with those auras either!

    A word from Thurbane:
    Quote
    * There's a couple of Marshal specific items in the MIC - Rearguard's Cape, and a couple of items in the magic item sets

    Also, Stormbringer thought of something I had completely missed:
    Quote
    Don't blanket rule out half-orcs. The Desert Half Orc from Unearthed Arcana does not have a charisma hit, and from there you could pick up Leadership, Might Makes Right, Extra Followers, and take 5 (or less, if you want) levels of Orchish Warlord to have an ASSLOAD of followers and a fairly decent army. In addition, there are quite a few sources of Intimidate bonuses for half-orcs. Take the first level of the Half-Orc Paladin substitution level to get Monstrous Mein, 3 levels of Half-Orc Paladin for Charisma synergy and more intimidate, then go marshal and take Motivate Charisma.

    Solo, being the stupendous fellow he is, offers this idea for consideration:
    Now, we all know that Marshal and Draconic Auras allow for a lot of buffing. But what if we combined it with the Paladin 5th level ACF which trades the mount for a Divine Companion?

    (click to show/hide)

    While reading the Dragon Magic, I noticed that it said a marshal could learn any of the draconic auras on page 86 in place of a marshal aura. Something to keep in mind.
    « Last Edit: September 08, 2012, 02:40:10 PM by SleepyShadow »

    Offline Solo

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    Re: The Marvelous Marshal Handbook
    « Reply #5: May 06, 2012, 03:22:28 PM »
    I would like to submit an idea for your consideration.

    Now, we all know that Marshal and Draconic Auras allow for a lot of buffing. But what if we combined it with the Paladin 5th level ACF which trades the mount for a Divine Companion?

    Quote
    Alternative Class: Divine Spirit

    Most paladins form a special relationship with a celestial mount that aids them in battle. You, however, spend most of your time fighting below the ground or in enclosed spaces, where a mount is of little use. Instead, you have forged a bond with celestial spirits whose aid you can call upon when needed.

    Level: 5th.

    Replaces: If you select this alternative class feature, you do not gain the special mount ability.

    Benefit: Upon reaching 5th level, you can call upon your deity for aid in the form of a celestial spirit. Using this ability is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. See below for detailed spirit descriptions and rules.

    Your paladin level determines which kinds of celestial spirits answer your summons. You can summon the spirit available at your current level as well as any that became available at lower levels.

    Paladin Level   Spirit Summoned
    5th-10th    Spirit of healing
    11th-15th    Spirit of combat
    16th-19th    Spirit of heroism
    20th+    Spirit of the fallen
    The following entries describe how each of the different spirits function. Unless otherwise specified, all spirits share some characteristics, as set out below.

    A spirit occupies a 5-foot square on the battle map.
    When summoned, a spirit appears on the battlefield within 30 feet of you. You can use a free action to have it move once per round. The spirit has a land speed of 30 feet.
    All spirits are insubstantial and transparent. Any creature can move through them normally, and they do not block line of sight or line of effect.
    A spirit cannot attack or be attacked. It is not undead and cannot be turned. It is subject to dispel magic, dismissal, or banishment as if it were a summoned creature, using your paladin level as the caster level.
    If you lose line of sight to a spirit, it disappears immediately.
    Each spirit available to you can be summoned once per day.
    A spirit remains for a number of rounds equal to your paladin level, until it is dismissed, or until special conditions in the spirit's description are met.
    Spirit of Healing: This spirit increases your ability to heal damage dealt to you or your allies. When summoned, it can heal an amount of damage equal to twice the amount you can heal using your lay on hands ability.

    To use its healing ability, you or an ally must begin or end your turn in the same square as the spirit. That character can then use a standard action to transfer some or all of the hit points from the spirit to herself. Once the spirit has used all its healing ability, it dissipates.

    Spirit of Combat: This spirit enhances combat ability. Whenever an ally (including yourself) is adjacent to the spirit of combat or occupying its space, that character gains holy fervor. Holy fervor grants a +1 sacred bonus on attacks and damage rolls for every four paladin levels you possess (up to a maximum of +5 at 20th level). In addition, affected characters' weapons are treated as good-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

    Spirit of Heroism: This spirit automatically occupies your space and does not leave until dismissed or dispelled, or the duration of the summoning ends. You gain DR 10/--. In addition, you gain the benefit of the Diehard feat (even if you do not meet the prerequisite) and can use your lay on hands ability as a free action once per round instead of as a standard action.

    Spirit of the Fallen: While you or any of your allies are adjacent to this spirit, it grants fast healing 10 to those characters. If an affected character's hit points drop to 0 or fewer while within 30 feet of this spirit, it revives that character at the start of his next turn, allowing him to take his action as normal. The character heals an amount of damage equal to twice your paladin level, though if his hit points are still at -10 or below, he still dies. The spirit can use its revive ability once per round.

    A spirit of the fallen cannot revive creatures whose bodies have been destroyed (such as by a disintegrate spell), nor can it reverse the effects of bodily changes, such as from flesh to stone or baleful polymorph, or other effects that slay a character without dealing damage.
    "I am the Black Mage! I cast the spells that makes the peoples fall down."

    Offline Solo

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    Re: The Marvelous Marshal Handbook
    « Reply #6: June 17, 2012, 05:34:22 PM »
    While reading the Dragon Magic, I noticed that it said a marshal could learn any of the draconic auras on page 86 in place of a marshal aura. Something to keep in mind.
    "I am the Black Mage! I cast the spells that makes the peoples fall down."

    Offline carnivore

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    Re: The Marvelous Marshal Handbook
    « Reply #7: September 06, 2012, 05:47:14 PM »

    Offline Jackinthegreen

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    Re: The Marvelous Marshal Handbook
    « Reply #8: September 06, 2012, 05:53:46 PM »
    Might want to include the link to the discussion thread.  Posting here just in case: http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=3476.0
    Please let me know via PM if you vote up one of my posts.

    Jack's Junk

    Offline SleepyShadow

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    Re: The Marvelous Marshal Handbook
    « Reply #9: September 07, 2012, 08:04:53 AM »
     :smirk
    « Last Edit: September 08, 2012, 02:41:52 PM by SleepyShadow »

    Offline SleepyShadow

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    Re: The Marvelous Marshal Handbook
    « Reply #10: September 08, 2012, 02:40:58 PM »
    Okay, updates done for now! Keep me informed if you find anything else please  :clap