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.
- 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.
- 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]